The Boy Travellers in the Far East, Part Fifth Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey through Africa by Knox, Thomas Wallace

[Illustration: Book Cover]

[Illustration: Map of Africa]

[Illustration]

THE BOY TRAVELLERS IN THE FAR EAST

_PART FIFTH_

* * * * *

ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN A JOURNEY

THROUGH AFRICA

BY

THOMAS W. KNOX

AUTHOR OF

"THE YOUNG NIMRODS IN NORTH AMERICA" "THE YOUNG NIMRODS AROUND THE WORLD" "ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN JOURNEYS TO JAPAN AND CHINA--TO SIAM AND JAVA--TO CEYLON AND INDIA--TO EGYPT AND THE HOLY LAND" ETC.

Illustrated

NEW YORK HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE 1884

By THOMAS W. KNOX.

* * * * *

THE BOY TRAVELLERS IN THE FAR EAST. Five Volumes. Copiously Illustrated. 8vo, Cloth, $3.00 each. The volumes sold separately. Each volume complete in itself.

I. ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN A JOURNEY TO JAPAN AND CHINA. II. ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN A JOURNEY TO SIAM AND JAVA. With Descriptions of Cochin-China, Cambodia, Sumatra, and the Malay Archipelago. III. ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN A JOURNEY TO CEYLON AND INDIA. With Descriptions of Borneo, the Philippine Islands, and Burmah. IV. ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN A JOURNEY TO EGYPT AND PALESTINE. V. ADVENTURES OF TWO YOUTHS IN A JOURNEY THROUGH AFRICA.

* * * * *

HUNTING ADVENTURES ON LAND AND SEA. Two Volumes. Copiously Illustrated. 8vo, Cloth, $2.50 each. The volumes sold separately. Each volume complete in itself.

I. THE YOUNG NIMRODS IN NORTH AMERICA. II. THE YOUNG NIMRODS AROUND THE WORLD.

* * * * *

PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK.

_Any of the above volumes sent by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of the United States or Canada, on receipt of the price._

PREFACE

With this volume the wanderings of the Boy Travellers in the Far East are brought to an end. Those enterprising and observant youths have arrived safely at home, in company with their companion and mentor, Doctor Bronson. They have seen and learned a great deal in their absence, and it has been the aim of the author to tell the story of their travels so that it would interest and instruct the school-mates and friends of Frank Bassett and Fred Bronson, together with others who have not the pleasure of their personal acquaintance.

The method followed in the preparation of the preceding volumes of the series of the Boy Travellers has been observed in the present book, as far as it was possible to do so. Though the author has visited several parts of Africa, he has never made a journey to the Equatorial Regions of the Dark Continent; consequently he has been placed under greater obligations to other writers than in his preceding works, and the personal experiences of Frank and Fred in Central Africa were not those of the compiler of the narrative. But he has endeavored to maintain the vividness of the story by the introduction of incidents drawn from many books of African travel and exploration; he has sought to confine fiction to the narrowest bounds, and to construct an account of travel and adventure that should be true in every respect save in the individual characters portrayed.

Many authorities have been consulted in the preparation of "The Boy Travellers in Central Africa," and while some have been freely drawn upon, others have been touched with a light hand. The incidents of the volume have been mainly taken from the works of African explorers of the last thirty years; a few are of older date, and some are from the stories of travellers not yet in print. During the preparation of the volume the author has been in correspondence with several gentlemen who have supplied him with information relative to the most recent explorations, and he has kept a watchful eye on the current news from the land under consideration. Though the wanderings of the Boy Travellers were confined to Central Africa, other portions of the continent were studied, as the reader will discover while perusing the following pages.

Many of the volumes consulted in the preparation of the book are named in the narrative, but circumstances made it inconvenient to refer to all. Among the volumes most freely used are the works of the following authors: Stanley's "Through the Dark Continent" and "Coomassie and Magdala;" Livingstone's "Travels and Researches in South Africa," "Expedition to the Zambesi," and "Last Journals;" Schweinfurth's "The Heart of Africa" (two volumes); Barth's "Discoveries in North and Central Africa" (three volumes); Speke's "Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile;" Burton's "The Lake Regions of Central Africa;" Long's "Central Africa;" Baker's "The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia" and "Ismailïa;" Reade's "Savage Africa;" Bourne's "African Discovery and Adventure" (two volumes); Wilson's "Western Africa;" Baldwin's "Hunting in South Africa;" Cumming's "A Hunter's Life in Africa;" Silver's "Hand-book to South Africa;" Cameron's "Across Africa;" Serpa-Pinto's "Comment J'ai Traversé L'Afrique" (two volumes); Du Chaillu's "Equatorial Africa," "Ashango Land," "Wild Life Under the Equator," "My Apingi Kingdom," and "Lost in the Jungle;" Anderson's "Lake Ngami;" and lastly, several authors whose narratives have appeared in _Le Tour du Monde_. The publishers have kindly allowed the use of illustrations which have appeared in previous volumes relating to the African continent, in addition to those specially prepared for this work. The maps in the front and rear covers were drawn from the best authorities, and are intended to embody all recent discoveries.

With this explanation of his methods, and the acknowledgment of his indebtedness to numerous explorers and writers, the author submits the adventures of Frank and Fred in Africa to the press and public that have so kindly received the narratives of the previous travels of those youths.

T. W. K.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE JOURNEY.--FROM CAIRO TO KOROSKO. 13

CHAPTER II.

LEAVING KOROSKO.--EARLY EXPLORERS OF THE NILE VALLEY. 25

CHAPTER III.

FROM KOROSKO TO ABOO HAMED.--THE NILE AGAIN.--ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE. 37

CHAPTER IV.

BERBER AND SHENDY.--HUNTING THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.--TERRIBLE REVENGE OF AN ETHIOPIAN KING. 48

CHAPTER V.

LIFE IN KHARTOUM.--DEPARTURE FOR GONDOKORO. 61

CHAPTER VI.

AMONG THE SHILLOOK NEGROES.--ARRIVAL AT FASHODA.--EXPLORERS OF THE NILE. 74

CHAPTER VII.

AN ANTELOPE HUNT.--GUINEA-WORMS, WHITE ANTS, AND GREAT SNAKES. 86

CHAPTER VIII.

THE DINKAS AND BARIS.--GONDOKORO.--ANNEXATION TO EGYPT. 99

CHAPTER IX.

AN ELEPHANT HUNT.--MARCHING SOUTHWARD FROM GONDOKORO. 116

CHAPTER X.

A FISHING EXCURSION.--ENCOUNTERING A HIPPOPOTAMUS.--THE COUNTRY OF THE NYAM-NYAMS. 130

CHAPTER XI.

ARRIVAL AT AFUDDO.--DIVISION OF ROUTES.--FRANK'S DEPARTURE. 149

CHAPTER XII.

DEPARTURE OF THE TWO EXPEDITIONS.--IN THE SHOOLI COUNTRY.--ATTACKED IN AN AMBUSCADE. 162

CHAPTER XIII.

FRANK ON A HUNTING EXCURSION.--DRIVING THE PLAIN WITH FIRE. 175

CHAPTER XIV.

ARRIVAL AT FATIKO.--THE MARCH CONTINUED.--FRANK'S ANTELOPE HUNT. 189

CHAPTER XV.

AN ELEPHANT HUNT.--CROSSING THE VICTORIA NILE.--ARRIVAL AT FOUEIRA.--KING RIONGA AND HIS PEOPLE. 203

CHAPTER XVI.

THE ALBERT N'YANZA.--ACCOUNT OF ITS DISCOVERY.--INCIDENTS OF THE FIRST DAY'S VOYAGE. 216

CHAPTER XVII.

A DAY ON AN ISLAND.--INCIDENTS OF HUNTING AND FISHING.--LAKE-DWELLINGS OF CENTRAL AFRICA. 228

CHAPTER XVIII.

DR. LIVINGSTONE AND HIS DISCOVERIES. 241

CHAPTER XIX.

FROM THE ALBERT N'YANZA TO FOUEIRA. 262

CHAPTER XX.

DEPART FROM FOUEIRA.--INTERVIEW WITH KING RIONGA.--THE PLATEAU OF CENTRAL AFRICA.--EXPLORATIONS OF THE NIGER. 275

CHAPTER XXI.

TRAVELS OF DR. ROHLFS.--THE TSETSE-FLY.--THROUGH UNYORO. 293

CHAPTER XXII.

THE MARCH THROUGH UGUNDA.--ARRIVAL AT KING M'TESA'S PALACE. 306

CHAPTER XXIII.

CEREMONIES AT M'TESA'S COURT.--THE TELEPHONE IN AFRICA. 321

CHAPTER XXIV.

AT M'TESA'S COURT.--VISIT TO THE VICTORIA N'YANZA.--ASTONISHING THE KING. 334

CHAPTER XXV.

AN EXCURSION ON THE VICTORIA N'YANZA. 349

CHAPTER XXVI.

RIPON FALLS.--THE OUTLET OF THE VICTORIA N'YANZA. 361

CHAPTER XXVII.

RETURN TO RUBAGA.--FAREWELL TO M'TESA.--VOYAGE DOWN THE VICTORIA N'YANZA. 375

CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE ALEXANDRA NILE.--FRED'S DESCRIPTION OF THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA. 388

CHAPTER XXIX.

A DESCRIPTION OF SOUTH AFRICA.--ENGLISH COLONIES.--OSTRICH FARMING. 404

CHAPTER XXX.

RESUMING THE MARCH.--MIRAMBO'S COUNTRY.--HUNTING ZEBRAS.--DESCRIPTION OF THE SOKO. 418

CHAPTER XXXI.

TO MIRAMBO'S CAPITAL.--STANLEY'S WORK ON THE LIVINGSTONE. 431

CHAPTER XXXII.

UNYAMYEMBE.--AMONG THE ARABS.--MARCHING TOWARD THE COAST. 449

CHAPTER XXXIII.

INCIDENTS OF THE JOURNEY TO THE COAST.--CONCLUSION. 463

ILLUSTRATIONS

The Heart of Africa. _Frontispiece._ Map of Africa. _Front Cover._ Map of Central Africa. _Rear Cover._ "The Carriage is Ready!" 13 Fred's Quandary. 14 The First Shave. 14 Camp and Caravan. 17 A Group of Porters. 19 Dr. Schweinfurth Ascending the Nile. 22 An African Horizon. 23 A Village in "the Dark Continent." 23 The Native at Home. 25 Arab Slave-traders. 27 A Slave-gang on the Road. 28 Baker's Expedition Crossing the Desert. 30 "The Forty Thieves." 33 View on the Bahr-el-Azrek. 35 Pilgrims on the Road to Mecca. 36 The Guide in the Desert. 37 A Mirage in the Desert. 39 Sunrise on the Sea of Sand. 40 Scene at the Wells. 41 Mountain Pass in the Desert. 42 Dragging a Crocodile to Land. 45 Securing a Supper. 47 The Home of Behemoth. 49 An African River Scene. 50 A Narrow Escape. 51 Hippopotamus Spears. 52 Spearing the River-horse. 53 A Berber Arab. 55 Sheep of Berber. 56 View in the Atbara Valley. 58 An Ethiopian King. 60 Arrival at Khartoum. 61 Elephants at Home.--Shaking a Fruit-tree. 63 Profiles of Dinka Negroes. 65 Bringing a Slave to Market. 66 Trees near the River. 68 View near the Edge of the Town. 69 Preparing Dinner. 70 Baker's Expedition Leaving Khartoum. 71 A Village Scene. 72 The Heart of Africa. 73 A Bird of the White Nile. 75 An Ambatch Canoe. 76 An Adventure on the Nile. 77 Speke and Grant in Central Africa. 79 Group of Gani Men. 81 Karuma Falls, on the Victoria Nile (Somerset River). 83 View of Fashoda. 85 Scene on the White Nile above the Sobat. 86 Hauling a Steamboat through a Canal Cut in the Sudd. 88 Nests of White Ants. 91 A Herd of Antelope. 93 A Slave-making Ant, Magnified. 94 Colonel Long's Great Snake. 96 Python Seizing its Prey. 98 Head of a Dinka Bull. 99 Sectional View of Dinka Hut. 100 A Dinka Cattle-yard. 101 A Sheep without Wool. 102 A Dinka Village near the White Nile. 104 Ceremony at Gondokoro on its Annexation to Egypt. 107 Austrian Mission-house at Gondokoro. 108 View of Gondokoro, from the River. 109 Colonel Abd-el-Kader. 110 Bari Arrows and Elephant-spear. 112 Baris Stealing Cattle from the Garrison at Gondokoro. 113 African Drums. 115 The Nile below Afuddo. 116 A Nyam-Nyam Girl. 117 Entrance of the Lake. 118 Nyam-Nyam Warriors. 119 Elephant Coming to Drink. 121 Elephants Hunted in the Water. 123 The Navigable Nile above the Last Cataracts. 125 Saddle-donkeys. 126 Marching through the Bari Country. 127 Camp Scene. 129 One of the Cooks. 130 The Second Day's March. 131 Fishing Village in an African Lake. 133 Stampeding the Caravan. 134 Halting-place near a Pond. 135 Hippopotamus Attacking a Raft. 137 A Night Attack by a River-horse. 138 Tying Up Ivories for the March. 140 Removing a Village. 141 A Nyam-Nyam Dog. 142 Singular Head-dress of a Nyam-Nyam. 144 Hut for Boys. 145 A Nyam-Nyam Granary. 145 An Akka Warrior. 146 Dr. Schweinfurth's Pygmy. 147 Standing for his Portrait. 148 Crossing a Marsh. 149 A Wet Road. 150 A Snake in Camp. 152 Scene near Afuddo. 153 A Caravan of an Ivory-trader. 156 An Ivory Porter. 158 The Central African Steamer _Khedive_. 161 Winwood Reade's Ox and Hammock Train. 163 Near the Shore of the Lake. 165 Crossing a Small Stream. 166 An Attraction for a Hyena. 168 Attack in an Ambuscade. 170 Two of our Porters. 172 Antelope of the Shooli Country (Female). 173 Antelope of the Shooli Country (Male). 174 A Village Headman. 176 An African Magician Superintending the Slaughtering of an Ox. 177 A Native Ferry. 178 Net-hunting by the Shooli Tribe. 180 Driving Game before a Prairie Fire. 182 The River Bank. 184 Frank's Bird. 185 Rocky Hills. 185 Great Rock near the Camp. 186 Peculiar Table-rock in the Bari Country. 187 Baker's Battle with the Slave-dealers.--Charge of the Egyptian Soldiers. 190 Crossing a Plain. 192 Fort Fatiko. 193 Ground-plan of the Fort. 194 View from the Rock-fort of Fatiko. 195 Camp where Captain Speke was Detained. 197 N'samma Antelope. 199 Charge of a Lioness. 201 A Dangerous Position. 204 Frank's Discovery: a "Rogue" Elephant. 206 Navigation under Difficulties. 208 An Unpleasant Acquaintance. 210 The Victoria Nile at Rionga's Island. 211 Interview between Baker Pacha and Rionga. 213 Water-bottle. 214 Gourds of different Shapes. 215 Lake Scene in Central Africa. 216 Scene on the Shores of Lake Tanganyika. 218 A Lake Village. 220 Lake Fishes of Central Africa. 221 A Fisherman Ready for Work. 222 A Fish-basket. 223 A Village Chief. 224 Native Heads. 225 On the Shore of the Lake. 226 An Island in the Lake. 228 A Flock of Cranes. 230 Fred's Second Prize. 231 A Pair of Kingfishers at Home. 232 Fish-eagle on a Hippopotamus Trap. 233 Central African Yam. 235 Potato and Yam Fields. 235 The Kilnoky. 236 Young Polypterus. 237 Lake Mohrya, with Villages. 238 A House in the Water. 239 Ideal Representation of a Swiss Lake-village. 240 Livingstone's House at Zanzibar. 241 David Livingstone. 242 Chuma and Susi. 244 Page from Livingstone's Last Journal. 246 The Last Mile of Livingstone's Journey. 248 Livingstone Entering the Hut where he Died. 249 Fording a Swollen River. 250 A Lion Killing Livingstone's Donkey. 251 "Goree," or Slave-stick. 252 Manner of Fettering a Gang of Slaves. 253 Slavers Avenging their Losses. 254 Quilimane, at the Mouth of the Zambesi. 255 View on the Navigable Part of the Zambesi. 257 The Great Falls of Mosi-oa-tunya. 259 Bird's-eye View of Mosi-oa-tunya. 261 Caravan Crossing a Plain. 263 Scene in an African Village. 264 Crossing a River on a Fallen Tree. 266 Goatsucker ("Cosmetornis Spekii"). 267 A Camp near the Hills. 269 Kawendé Surgery. 270 A Pair of Sham Demons. 272 An African Band of Music. 273 Sham Demons Ready for Business. 274 View on the Road. 276 The King's Residence. 277 Kabba Rega's Attack and Defeat. 279 Thatched Hut in Rionga's Village. 280 The Country Back from the River. 281 Crossing a River in Unyoro. 283 Effect of a Long Rain in Africa.--Animals Seeking Safety. 285 Sunset on Lake Tchad. 287 Scene on the Niger at Say. 288 View of Kabara, the Port of Timbuctoo. 289 Timbuctoo, from the Terrace of the House Occupied by Dr. Barth. 291 A Village on the Guinea Coast. 294 Scene near Lake Tchad. 295 An Amazon of Dahomey. 297 1, the Tsetse; 2, the same, Magnified; 3, its Proboscis. 299 Colonel Long's Battle at M'rooli. 301 Colonel Long's Companions at M'rooli. 302 A Group of Kidi Men. 303 A Substitute for the Horse. 304 Approaching Camp. 305 A Queen of Ugunda Dragged to Execution. 307 Kamrasi's First Lesson in the Bible. 308 Mountains in the Distance. 310 Villages in the Hilly Country. 312 Flag of Ugunda. 313 Long's First Visit to M'tesa. 315 Ugunda Boy. 316 View of M'tesa's Palace from Doctor Bronson's Zeriba. 318 A Warrior of Ugunda. 319 View of Rubaga from the Great Road. 320 A Reception at the Court of King M'tesa. 323 A Tree of Ugunda. 324 A Daughter of King M'tesa. 325 King of Ugunda Retiring. 327 Native of Ugunda, with Hunting Spear. 328 The King's Musicians. 329 Visitors in the Zeriba. 330 Captain Speke Attending a Review of the Ugunda Troops. 332 Henry M. Stanley. 335 On the Road to the Lake. 336 Ugunda Boat. 338 View of Murchison Creek. 339 Hills Back from the Lake. 340 "Elephant's Foot," or "Gouty-limbed," Tree. 341 Trees and Climbing Plants in Central Africa. 343 Charging a Retort in a Gas Factory. 345 Diagram of Gas-works. 346 Frank's Gas-retort. 347 Seeing the Show. 348 M'tesa's Idea for Crossing Africa. 350 Returning from an Excursion. 351 The King's Slaves Carrying Fuel and Cutting Rice. 353 An African Drum-corps. 354 Lake Scenery in Central Africa. 356 Kambari Fish. 357 Fred's Experiment in Cooking Fish. 359 On the Lake. 360 Jack. 361 Ripon Falls: the Nile Flowing Out of the Victoria N'yanza. 363 A Group of Hippopotami. 365 Ready for Business. 366 Trouble in the Rhinoceros Family. 367 Bad for the Dog. 368 Rhinoceros Heads. 369 Speke Delivering the Spoils of his Hunt to King Rumanika. 372 In Captivity. 373 Village and Villagers. 376 An Unpleasant Encounter. 377 Antelopes among the Marshes near Usavara. 380 Native of Unyamwezi. 382 Natives of the Islands. 384 Boats for Lake Navigation. 385 An African Soko. 386 Arms and Ornaments. 387 View of the Uplands in Karagué. 389 The _Lady Alice_, in Sections. 390 Native Village on the Gold Coast. 392 Cape Coast Castle. 394 Monrovia, Liberia. 395 Free Town, Sierra Leone. 396 A Street in Coomassie. 397 A Village in Ashantee. 398 "Young Guinea". 399 Fantee Gentleman and Soldier. 400 The Burning of Coomassie. 401 A Belle of the Guinea Coast. 402 View of Elmina, on the Gold Coast. 403 Native of Cape Colony. 405 Emigrating to the South African Wilderness. 406 The "March of Civilization." 407 Scene in the South African Diamond Mines. 409 Driving a Flock of Ostriches. 411 The Ostrich and its Hunters. 412 Hunting under Disadvantages. 415 What Fred hoped for. 416 The Ostrich's Natural Enemy. 417 One of the Guides. 419 A Royal Residence in Unyamwezi. 420 War Dance of Mirambo's Followers. 422 Natives Bringing Provisions for Sale. 423 A Protected Village. 425 The Zebra at Home. 426 An African Tembé. 428 Manyuema Hunters Killing Sokos. 429 Rocks by the Wayside. 431 Crossing a Stream. 432 Weapons of the Natives. 433 Man of Massi Kambi. 434 Hill-country near Mirambo's Capitol. 435 Porters and Woman and Child of Usagaru. 436 Hut at Kifuma. 437 Stanley's Voyage on the Livingstone.--Battle with the Natives. 439 Frank Pocock, Stanley's Companion on the Livingstone. 440 Stanley's Expedition Recuperated and Re-clad after Crossing the "Dark Continent." 441 Trading Station on the West Coast of Africa. 443 Curious Head-dress. 444 The Height of Fashion. 445 The First Cataract of the Livingstone. 447 Stanley's Expedition Descending the Livingstone. 448 A Deserter Brought Back. 450 A Native Guard. 451 Said bin Amir's House. 452 Getting Ready for the Road. 454 Halting-place under a Sycamore. 455 A House in Unyamyembe. 456 Unyamwezi Heads. 457 Members of the Caravan. 458 Grinding Meal for Supper. 459 Storehouse for Grain. 460 An African Ferry. 461 Crossing a Plain. 462 A Pond by the Wayside. 464 Capturing a Leopard. 465 Ugogo Heads, with Distended Ears. 466 Women of Ubudjwa. 467 Crossing a River on a Fish-weir. 468 Camp on the Edge of the Makata Swamp. 469 View of Zanzibar from the Sea. 471 From Bagamoya to Zanzibar. 473

CHAPTER I.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE JOURNEY.--FROM CAIRO TO KOROSKO.

[Illustration: "THE CARRIAGE IS READY!"]

"The carriage is ready, gentlemen!"

"Has all the baggage been sent to the boat?"

"Yes, sir," was the reply; "all except the case of instruments that you wished to keep with you."

"All right!" was the cheery response. "We are ready to start, and will not keep the carriage waiting."

This conversation occurred on the veranda of a hotel at Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and once renowned as the City of the Caliphs. The first speaker was Ali, a bright boy of Abyssinian birth, and formerly a slave, while the second was Doctor Bronson, a gentleman whose name is familiar to all readers of "The Boy Travellers in the Far East." By his side were Frank Bassett and Fred Bronson, the youths who were guided through Asia by the good Doctor, and had made the journey to Egypt and the Holy Land in his company.

[Illustration: FRED'S QUANDARY.]

Frank and Fred could hardly be called youths any longer, as Frank was quite as tall as the Doctor, while Fred was only an inch or two less in stature. The boys who set out one morning for Japan and China had now grown to be young men; but Frank insisted that they were still boys, and should so consider themselves till they had passed their majority. There had been some badinage between them relative to that momentous period in a young man's existence when he makes his first essay with a razor. Frank had depicted his cousin seated in front of a mirror, uncertain whether to shave or dye, while Fred had retorted with a caricature in which a cat and a cream-jug had prominent places. We will comply with the wishes of Frank and call them "boys" during the journey they are about commencing.

[Illustration: THE FIRST SHAVE.]

The carriage drove rapidly along the broad street leading to Boolak, the landing-place of the Nile steamboats, and frequently called the Port of Cairo. The boys were familiar with the scenes of this busy thoroughfare and paid little attention to them, as their thoughts were occupied with the journey of which this ride was the beginning. As they passed the Museum of Antiquities, Frank recalled to Fred their first visit to that interesting place, and the delightful hours they had spent in studying the souvenirs of Ancient Egypt. "If we were not pressed for time," he added, "I would greatly like to stop there a little while, just to refresh my memory."[1]

[1] For a description of the Museum at Boolak and the monuments of Ancient Egypt, see "The Boy Travellers in Egypt and the Holy Land." Published by Harper & Brothers, 1882.

The steamer was lying at the river-bank, and the smoke from her funnel told that she was about ready for departure. As our friends stepped on the deck of the boat they were met by their dragoman, who told the Doctor that all the heavy baggage had been stowed below, while the light articles needed on the voyage would be found in their cabins. Consequently, our friends had little to do for the half-hour that intervened before the departure of the steamer. The Doctor went to the hold to give a glance at the bales and boxes deposited there, and then, accompanied by Fred and Frank, made a tour of the cabins, to make sure nothing had been forgotten. The dragoman was a trusty servant, but Doctor Bronson had learned from practical experience that perpetual vigilance is an important requisite for travelling in wild countries.

The Nile voyage was not a new one to our friends, and as the story of their adventures has already been told in a previous volume, we will not repeat them here. As we are in the land of the Arabian Nights we will borrow the Enchanted Carpet and wish our friends at the landing-place at Korosko, about half way between the first and second Cataracts of the Nile.

"One, two, three, and here we are!"

It was early one forenoon when the steamboat stopped in front of Korosko, and the youths were permitted to step to the shore. Abdul, the dragoman, had arranged by telegraph with a merchant of Korosko for the temporary storage of the baggage of the party and for a lodging-place for the travellers, until camels could be obtained for their journey over the Desert. The merchant was at the landing to meet them, with a force of some thirty or more porters to place the baggage on shore and carry it to his warehouse, a hundred yards away. In spite of the large number of men it required several hours for landing, and storing everything. A journey into the interior of Africa is a serious affair, as the traveller requires a great many things which are not needed in most other countries.

"We are going where there are few resources," said the Doctor to his young friends weeks before, when they were making their plans for the journey, "and unless we would suffer we must be well provided at starting.

"First of all, we need money, just as we need it for travel in any other country."

"Of course we do," said Frank; "but there are no bankers in Africa, and our letters of credit will be of no use."

"But we can take plenty of gold and silver," said Fred, "and perhaps we shall want a few camel-loads of copper coin."

"Even that will not answer," replied Doctor Bronson, with a smile, "as the coin of civilized lands is unknown in Africa."

"What must we carry, then," Frank asked, "if bankers' credits are of no use, and coin does not circulate?"

"We must carry the money of Africa," was the reply, "and here it is."

Frank took the sheet of paper the Doctor held in his hand and read aloud to his cousin:

"'Beads of different kinds and colors, put up and labelled, so that the contents of each package can be known at a glance. Every tribe of negroes in Africa has tastes of its own, and beads that find ready circulation in one region are worthless in another.

"'Cotton cloths of different kinds, white, gray, striped, and in all the colors and combinations of the rainbow.

"'Gaudy handkerchiefs, and the gaudier they are the better for purposes of trade. In packing them for transportation they should be placed in the bales with the cloths, which should also be made up in assorted lots, so that when a bale is opened several kinds of goods may be displayed.

"'Pocket-mirrors, copper wire, in rolls and of different sizes; small tools, fish-hooks, cheap watches, brass jewellery, mechanical toys, sleigh-bells, knives, hatchets, and other edged tools that can be easily carried and handled.'"

"Something to amuse the natives is next on the list," the Doctor remarked, as Frank paused for a moment, "and it is often of great advantage to amuse them."

"'A dozen musical boxes of small size, and one large one, playing several tunes,'" continued Frank, reading from the paper.

"I suppose the small ones are for presents," said Fred, "and the large one is to be exhibited on great occasions, when we have company?"

"Exactly so," replied the Doctor; "it will be a convenient means of entertaining savages, especially when we cannot converse with them. You observe that I have included in the list of desirable things a magic-lantern and a telephone, with half a mile of wire and all the apparatus complete. They are easy to carry, and their performances will be as interesting as those of the music-boxes."

"'Cloth, beads, caps, tools, toys, and trinkets are what we need for traffic with the natives and paying our expenses,"' read Frank as he turned the sheet of paper. "Now we come to what we want for our own use."

[Illustration: CAMP AND CARAVAN.]

"'Tea and coffee, in air-tight cans of not more than a pound each, so that they will not be spoiled by the climate: preserved meats and vegetables, sugar, spices, pepper, sauces, vinegar, matches, soap, candles, and a few other things, the fewer the better. Everything we carry must be enclosed in tin cases, so as to protect it from dampness, as the climate of Central Africa is ruinous to all articles that absorb moisture.

"'Rifles, shot-guns, and pistols, with plenty of ammunition. The rifles and shot-guns of the Remington system, using fixed ammunition.'"

One of the boys asked what was meant by "fixed ammunition."

"The cartridges are made up," the Doctor explained, "and are all ready for use. The powder is in a shell of copper or brass, with the explosive cap in one end and the bullet or shot firmly wedged in the other. The cartridges are impervious to water, and can be kept a long time without detriment."

"We must have a large quantity," said Frank, "and even then we might find our supply running short, with no chance of renewal."

"Certainly that might happen," was the reply, "and we can guard against it by having a few dozens of steel shells made like the copper ones, and with nipples for ordinary percussion-caps. These shells can be reloaded many times. We can carry powder in tin canisters, caps in boxes, and moulds for casting bullets, and then, with a few bars of lead in our possession, we shall be independent of fixed ammunition from the factories.

"We will have one heavy rifle, carrying a very large ball, for shooting elephants, and a special supply of ammunition to fit it. The rest of the rifles will be all alike, so that there will be no trouble about getting hold of the wrong ammunition when starting out for a day's hunt. The same will be the case with the shot-guns, and we will observe a similar rule in regard to the revolvers."

Frank next read a list of medicines intended for the maladies to which human nature is ordinarily liable. Last and greatest of all was "sulphate of quinine." The quantity seemed altogether out of proportion to the rest of the stock, and he naturally asked Doctor Bronson why he carried so much of it.

"Africa is a land of fevers," replied the Doctor, "and has a bad reputation among travellers on this account alone. The equatorial rains make the climate exceedingly moist, and the exhalations from the soil are detrimental to the health of all Europeans. We shall be likely to suffer from fevers, and you know that quinine is the great remedy for fever. It has saved many a life, and its absence has caused many a death. When we begin our journey we must each of us carry a small supply of the drug in our pockets, and be ready to use it intelligently. Each must be able to administer it to the other; and our personal servants should be instructed how to act whenever they see us suffering from the hot-blooded visitor. We will have more talk on this subject when we approach Central Africa."

Then came a list of clothing, tents, camp equipage, and kindred things that would be needed. Frank remarked that Africa must be a land of rain, or they would not require so many water-proof garments, and Fred added that it was not as hot as it was reputed to be, or they would not carry so many blankets. The Doctor explained that in the elevated regions of Africa the nights were almost always cool, even though the days might be sultry, and the traveller who ventured there without plenty of warm covering was liable to suffer.

The last entry on the paper was, that no package should weigh more than fifty pounds. Fred asked the reason for this rule, as he had understood a camel could carry seven or eight hundred pounds' burden without difficulty, provided he was in good condition and of full size.

"That is true," said Doctor Bronson, "but we can't go all the way with camels. In the interior of Africa our baggage must be carried by porters; and the load for a man is limited to sixty pounds, and ought not to exceed fifty. Of course it sometimes happens that elephants' tusks and other articles weigh more than sixty pounds, but for such burdens the strongest men are selected, and a higher price is usually paid.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF PORTERS.]

"These porters are known as 'pagazi,' and are a necessary adjunct of every expedition in the interior of Africa. Sometimes it is impossible to procure a sufficient number, and the traveller may be delayed weeks or months while waiting for them. On the road they must be watched very carefully, to see that they do not desert with their burdens; and, in order to prevent this, the rear of a caravan must be brought up by a trusty guard. A great part of the troubles of all African explorers is due to the pagazi, and more than one expedition has been completely broken up by their misconduct.

"Sometimes they desert in a body, and the traveller who has gone to sleep, with a hundred or more porters in his employ, has risen in the morning to find his camp deserted and not a man to be found. In this dilemma he must wait till new porters can be hired, or he may be obliged to destroy a large part of his goods."

"Wouldn't it be possible for him to sell them to some of the native chiefs in such an emergency, instead of destroying them?" one of the boys inquired.

"Perhaps he could do so," the Doctor answered; "but he would obtain a very small price for them, as the chiefs would know he was in a great strait and must be rid of them. Such a practice would encourage desertions, as the local chiefs would be in collusion with the porters, and no traveller could get through in safety. It is an invariable rule with the Portuguese and Arab traders in Central Africa to destroy all goods that they are unable to carry by reason of the desertion of their pagazi. It is their only way of insuring themselves against certain loss in future journeys, and they are very particular in observing it."

Frank asked if they were to have any scientific instruments, such as were usually carried by explorers in strange countries. Doctor Bronson replied that they would certainly do so, but he had not yet made out his list of what would be wanted.

"For the first part of our journey," said the Doctor, "we shall be in a region that has been explored sufficiently, so that its principal geographical positions are known, and there will be very little occasion for instruments. But later on our route will be much like a voyage on the ocean, and we must find out 'by observation,' as the navigators say, where we are. For this purpose we can imagine that we are going on a ship, and must have the instruments that a ship usually carries."

"I understand," said Fred. "We will have a quadrant or a sextant for ascertaining the position of the sun, just as a captain does at sea. But will the irregular line of the land serve us for a horizon, as the line between sea and sky serves the mariner?"

"Certainly not," answered the Doctor, with a smile; "and to meet this difficulty we employ the artificial horizon."

"How is it made?" one of the youths inquired.

"It is a very simple affair," the Doctor answered; "it is nothing but a horizontal mirror, and is constructed in two or three ways. It may be an ordinary mirror or looking-glass, in a frame adjusted upon screws and set round with spirit-levels, so that it can be brought to the proper position, or it may be a basin of mercury. A tub of water may be made to answer in an emergency, but it is not easy to get a reflection from it of sufficient distinctness for purposes of observation. With the artificial horizon and a sextant the altitude of the sun or of a star may be readily obtained. Half the angular distance between a star and its image in the artificial horizon is equal to the altitude of a star above the real horizon."

"But there's another trouble," said Frank. "At sea the navigator knows the run of his ship by means of the log, as we learned when we crossed the Pacific Ocean in our journey to Japan and China. How are we to 'throw the log' when travelling on land?"

"That is an easy matter," was the reply. "We will have several pedometers, or instruments for counting the steps. They are about the size of an ordinary watch, and worn in the pocket in the same way. Every step taken by the wearer is registered, and by knowing the length of our steps we can get very near the distance travelled. The pedometer is only approximative, and not exact, and the same is the case with the log on a ship.

[Illustration: DR. SCHWEINFURTH ASCENDING THE NILE.]

"A famous African explorer, Dr. Schweinfurth, once had the misfortune to lose his instruments and all the records of his journey by fire. For six months after that calamity he counted his footsteps, noting hundreds by means of his fingers, and making a stroke in his note-book on reaching five hundred. The second five hundred was recorded by making a reverse stroke on the previous one, so as to form a cross, and in this way at the end of a day's journey every thousand steps he had taken was shown by a cross. He thus made account of a million and a quarter paces in the six months that he continued the practice.

"Dr. Schweinfurth says that the steps of a man are a more accurate standard of measurement than those of an animal. The camel, when urged to its full speed, does not increase the number of his paces but their length; while those of a man, at whatever rate he walks, are about the same. He suggests that any one may satisfy himself on this point by measuring his own footsteps in moist ground. He will find them varying very little, no matter what the rate of speed. Dr. Schweinfurth says his steps varied, according to the nature of the road, from twenty-four to twenty-eight inches, and we may set this down as the average step of a man of medium height.

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN HORIZON.]

"In addition to sextants and pedometers, we will have a complete apparatus for taking photographs, with plenty of dry plates, sensitive paper, and the other necessary materials; then we must have a stock of compasses, barometers, and thermometers; and we must not forget an anemometer, an instrument for measuring the force of the wind. One of our compasses must be an azimuth, which resembles the marine compass, but has a more accurate graduation, and is provided with vertical sights, so that the variation of the needle may be detected. This is done by observing the position of a star through the sights, and comparing its azimuth, or point on the horizon, with the direction of the needle. The position of the star being known, the computation is easy."

Doctor Bronson explained that the instruments, tents, fire-arms, and personal outfits could not be procured in Egypt, but must be ordered from London or Paris. The bulk of the provisions might be obtained in Cairo or Alexandria, but the character of the supplies could not always be relied upon. Consequently it was decided to make the list as complete as possible and ship everything from the English and French capitals, so that they would not be delayed at Cairo. Of course there would be some deficiencies, and these could be filled from the Cairo market before the date of departure. The plan was carried out without accident.

We have seen our friends on their way to Central Africa, and have now landed them safely at Korosko.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE IN "THE DARK CONTINENT."]

CHAPTER II.

LEAVING KOROSKO.--EARLY EXPLORERS OF THE NILE VALLEY.

The preparations for leaving Korosko required several days. Camels were to be hired, loads distributed, and drivers and servants engaged. A great many small details consumed the time of our friends, from the hour of their arrival till their departure. Twenty camels were engaged, sixteen for baggage and four for riding purposes, three of the latter being for the Doctor and the boys, and one for the dragoman. The boy Ali was assigned to a place on one of the baggage camels, as he was considered too young to have a saddle animal all to himself.

Twenty camels make a respectable procession, and the boys were in high glee when they saw their beasts of burden drawn up in line, ready for departure. Fourteen of the baggage camels were sent away one evening, and our friends started early the following morning with the rest of the train. This included their saddle camels and the two animals that carried the things they would need on the journey from day to day.

A glance at the map of Nubia will show a great bend in the Nile between Korosko and Aboo Hamed. Boats ascending the river and following this bend often consume three or four weeks, while the ride over the Desert can be made in from six to nine days. There are three cataracts in this part of the river. They are impassable except during the rise of the Nile, and even then their ascent is a tedious and expensive affair. Consequently the principal route of travel and commerce is through the Desert.

There was no trouble in keeping the road, as it is well known to the guides and camel-drivers, and is annually traversed by great numbers of people. The dragoman, Abdul, had been over the route repeatedly, sometimes with small parties, and on two occasions with expeditions that the Egyptian Government had sent to the Upper Nile and the lake regions of Central Africa. Frank and Fred were greatly interested in the details of these expeditions, and listened eagerly to Abdul's account of them and the difficulties of transporting heavy articles over the Desert sands.

[Illustration: THE NATIVE AT HOME.]

At their first halt on the journey from Korosko, Abdul told them of his experience with the expedition of Sir Samuel Baker, for the suppression of the slave-trade in the Soudan country, some years ago, which was about as follows:

"In 1869-70 Sir Samuel Baker was sent by Ismail Pacha, Khedive of Egypt, to suppress the slave-trade in the regions where we are now going. In order that he should do so effectively he was provided with a small army, and a suitable equipment of steamers for navigating the river, together with a large stock of goods for opening legitimate trade. Most of the slave-traders were Arab subjects of the Khedive, and their centre of business was at Khartoum."

Fred asked how many men were engaged in the business.

"As to that," said Abdul, "it is not easy to say. The merchants of Khartoum had organized a sort of military force for capturing the negroes and bringing them to market, and one of them was reported to have twenty-five hundred men in his pay. They were armed and drilled like soldiers, though not very thoroughly disciplined, and were divided into companies sufficiently strong to overpower any African village, and make prisoners of such of the inhabitants as they wished to carry to market. Altogether, it was thought that fifteen thousand subjects of the Khedive had left their honest occupations and were engaged, directly or indirectly, in the slave-trade."

"They must have occupied a great deal of country," said Frank, "for so many of them to be engaged in the traffic."

[Illustration: ARAB SLAVE-TRADERS.]

"That is true," replied Abdul. "Every trader had a district to himself, and his men were divided into companies, with a chain of stations or military posts. They could thus hold sway over an immense area. One slave-trader named Agad controlled a region containing ninety thousand square miles, and another had a territory nearly as large.

"There was an agreement among the traders that they would not disturb each other's territory; they sometimes got into trouble and fought among themselves, but this was not often, as they had quite enough to do to kill and capture the natives. Each man in his own region could do what he chose, and the business had all the horrible features that the slave-trade has everywhere."

One of the boys asked how many slaves were taken from Central Africa every year, and where the slaves were carried.

[Illustration: A SLAVE-GANG ON THE ROAD.]

"It was estimated by Sir Samuel Baker," replied Abdul, "that not less than fifty thousand slaves were carried every year from the interior to the sea-coast, or kept in the camps of the slave-traders. The capture of fifty or a hundred slaves means the destruction of one or more villages, and the death of fifty or a hundred innocent persons while the destruction is going on. The traders induce tribes that would otherwise be at peace to make war on each other, by agreeing to buy all the prisoners. Whole districts are depopulated, life and property are insecure, and for every slave that is brought away it is safe to say that three or four of his kindred have been killed or die of starvation. It was a noble impulse of the Khedive to put an end to this state of affairs and remove the stigma of slave-dealing from his country."

"But they still have slavery in Egypt, do they not?" inquired one of the boys.

"Yes," was the reply, "slavery exists here, as Egypt is a Moslem country, and the Koran expressly allows it. But the form is growing milder every year, as the government does not protect it. Under Ismail Pacha a man might keep slaves, but if they ran away from him he could not call the police to assist in their capture, as he formerly was able to do. If they chose to stay away they could do so, without fear of being taken back; the result was that every slave-owner was obliged to treat his human property so kindly that there would be no inducement to leave him. Traffic in slaves is not permitted, and consequently the institution is not flourishing, and will soon disappear altogether.

"The efforts of Livingstone, Stanley, and other travellers in Central Africa have done much to throw light on the slave-trade, and to persuade some of the African kings and chiefs to abandon it. The only Europeans who encourage it at all now are the Portuguese traders, who have their stations on the east coast of Africa, and even their support to it is generally given in an underhand way. The most extensive slave-dealers are the Arabs, who are not troubled by any religious scruples on the subject, and find a market for their captives among people of similar belief with themselves.

"When we get fairly into Central Africa you will probably see something of the system of slavery; so we'll drop the subject now, and I'll tell you how Baker's expedition was fitted out.

"Baker received the rank of Pacha, with absolute authority for four years, from April 1, 1869, and was instructed to subdue the countries lying south of Gondokoro, suppress the slave-trade, and introduce a system of regular commerce; open the great lakes near the equator to navigation, and establish military and commercial posts throughout the captured country.

"Baker had already been in Central Africa and travelled in the region of the lakes, and consequently he knew something of the difficulties he would encounter. He made grand preparations, which consumed so much time, and were followed by so many delays, that nearly a year elapsed before he left Khartoum for the south."

Fred asked if the expedition went up the Nile by way of Korosko, or by another route.

"Part of it went that way," said Abdul, "and the rest by Suakim, on the Red Sea. From Suakim there is a road across the Desert to Berber, in Abyssinia. Berber is on the Nile, and from there the river is navigable to Khartoum. I was with the part of the expedition that ascended the Nile, so that I am familiar with Korosko and the route to Aboo Hamed. Khartoom, at the junction of the Blue and White Nile, was selected as the point of departure, and all the supplies for the expedition were sent there.

[Illustration: BAKER'S EXPEDITION CROSSING THE DESERT.]

"Everything had to be carried over the Desert, and it was an immense affair, I assure you. Six steamboats were sent from Cairo, and three others for navigating the lakes were brought from England, and carried in sections, so that they could be put together at the points where wanted. The boilers of the steamers were found too heavy to be transported on the backs of camels, and it was necessary to mount them on wheels, to which camels were harnessed.

"Hundreds of camels were required for carrying all this material, and when the train was on the march it covered the Desert for miles and miles. It was necessary to have many extra camels, to guard against the breaking down of any of the loaded ones, as the loss of a single piece of a boat or its machinery might render all the rest of little or no use.

[Illustration: "THE FORTY THIEVES."]

"The military part of the expedition comprised about sixteen hundred soldiers, with two batteries of artillery; but so many of the soldiers were found unfit for duty, that half of them were sent back or left behind at Khartoum. Baker finally selected forty men to serve as a body-guard, and they proved to be excellent soldiers, and of more use than all the rest that had been sent to serve him. This small force of picked men was known as 'The Forty.' They were not of the best character, and some of their performances when off duty caused them to be called 'The Forty Thieves' by the English-speaking members of the expedition.

"It was expected that there would be much opposition among the merchants of Khartoum when they learned the object for which Baker Pacha had been sent to the Soudan. Of course it would not do for them to declare open hostility, but they could hinder the enterprise in various ways. When Baker arrived at Khartoum he found that the traders had sent away all the boatmen, as they knew the expedition could not move without boats. The police and military were employed to hunt them up, and of course much valuable time was lost in so doing.

"When they finally got away from Khartoum they had two steamers and thirty-six sailing-boats. The steamers had each a sailing-boat in tow, and on one of these boats was the commander of the expedition, accompanied by his wife, Lady Baker, and the officers of his staff.

"I was with the officers on the other boat, and the two steamers pushed along, with their tows, leaving the sailing craft to follow as fast as they could. We went up what is called the White Nile. Khartoum is at the junction of the Blue and White Nile, the landing-place being on the former stream. The Blue Nile was long supposed to be the principal branch of the river. It was explored by Bruce, who traced it to its source, and thought he had found the spot where the Nile takes its rise."

Frank remarked that one of his school-books contained a picture of Bruce standing by the side of a spring not more than a yard across, from which a rivulet was flowing.

Fred said he had read something about Bruce, and was sorry he had forgotten exactly what it was.

[Illustration: VIEW ON THE BAHR-EL-AZREK.]

"Perhaps I can help you," responded Doctor Bronson. "James Bruce was born at Kinnaird, in Scotland, in 1730, and died there in 1794. He was educated for a lawyer, but never practised his profession. His tastes ran in the direction of Oriental languages and literature, and after studying them for some years he was appointed Consul-general for Algiers. He remained there for two years, and then travelled in Tunis, Tripoli, Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, spending nearly five years in Egypt and Abyssinia in an effort to find the sources of the Nile. The Bahr-el-Azrek, or Blue Nile, was then supposed to be the main stream, and Bruce followed it to its source.

"When this work was accomplished he returned to England, to tell the story of his discovery. It was published in 1790, under the title, 'Travels to Discover the Sources of the Nile, in the Years 1768-73,' and was in five quarto volumes."

"He must have become famous as soon as the book appeared," one of the boys remarked.

"Unfortunately for him," replied Doctor Bronson, "his statements were questioned, and he received far more abuse than praise. Some of his accounts were set down as absolute falsehoods, and Bruce died four years later, before the imputation had been disproved. Subsequent travellers have confirmed the truth of his narrative, and given Bruce an honored place on the roll of African explorers."

"Was Bruce the first white man who ever saw the head-springs of the Blue Nile?" Frank asked.

"No," was the reply; "they were visited by the Portuguese missionary, Paez, in the sixteenth century, but no detailed account of his journey was ever published in our language. He went to Abyssinia in 1603, where he founded a mission, and remained until his death, in 1622. He was in great favor with the King, whom he accompanied on his military expeditions, and it was on one of these journeys, in 1618, that he visited the springs of the Blue Nile. The account was published in Paris, in 1667, under the title, 'Dissertation touchant l'Origine du Nil,' and may be regarded as the earliest work of an explorer of the mysterious river."

"How about Herodotus and Strabo?" said Fred.

"They can hardly be called explorers of the Nile," the Doctor answered, "as they made no attempt to ascend the river. Neither of them went beyond the first cataract, or at any rate Strabo did not, and the accounts of both writers are largely composed of what they gathered from others rather than what they saw with their own eyes. Their works are the best that have come down to us from their time, and we learned at the site of Memphis how a passage in Strabo's writings gave Mariette Bey the clew which led to the discovery, in 1860, of the Apis Mausoleum.[2]

[2] "The Boy Travellers in Egypt and the Holy Land," p. 131.

"After Bruce," the Doctor continued, "the next traveller of note in the upper regions of the Nile was Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss professor, who was educated at Leipzig and Göttingen, and devoted the best part of his life to the exploration of Africa. He is thought to have been the first European not a Moslem to visit Mecca, and at the time of his death, at Cairo, in 1817, he was planning an expedition to the sources of the Niger. He travelled in Nubia and portions of Abyssinia, but did not penetrate so far inland as Bruce had gone before him. Much of the time he went in the disguise of an Arab, sometimes as a merchant, and sometimes as a sheikh, and he was enabled to do this by his perfect knowledge of Arabic. I think I told you something about his visit to Mecca while we were coming up the Red Sea, on our way from India to Egypt."

Both the youths recalled the brief account which the Doctor had given them of the perils of a journey to Mecca, and the names of those who had succeeded in reaching there. The mention of Mecca drew from Abdul an anecdote which illustrated the danger of attempting to travel among fanatical Moslems under the pretence of being of their religion.

"Several years ago," said he, "I was at Jeddah, the port of Mecca, at the time of the pilgrimage to the birthplace of Mohammed. A steamer from Suez brought a crowd of pilgrims, and I happened to be at the landing-place when they came on shore.

"There was a tall man among them whom I took for a Syrian Moslem, and my belief was confirmed when he spoke to me in Arabic, with just the accent I had heard at Jerusalem and Damascus. We talked a few minutes, and he then walked away, and I never suspected him to be anything but a pious Moslem, on his way to Mecca.

"As soon as he left me another pilgrim spoke to me, and said the tall man was an impostor.

"'How do you know?' I asked.

"'Because,' said the other, 'I have watched him saying his prayers on the way from Suez, and he has twice missed the proper motions of his hands when he bows toward Mecca. Once he placed his prayer-rug at least a quarter of the way round from where it should have been, and once he put his left foot down first when kneeling.'

"It was very certain the man was not a Moslem, as he would not make these mistakes if he had been brought up in the religion of the Prophet. I hastened after him, told what I had heard, and warned him of his danger. His character was already known; he would be sure to be pointed out, his deception known, and he would never return from Mecca, if, indeed, he succeeded in getting there.

"He looked astonished for a moment, and acknowledged that he was neither a Syrian nor a Moslem. He was a German traveller, who had spent several years in Moslem countries, spoke Arabic fluently, and had conceived the design of going to Mecca. With this object in view he had learned the Moslem forms of prayer, so as to pass himself off for one of 'the faithful,' but it seems he had not been sufficiently careful as to the details. He thanked me for my caution, abandoned his trip to Mecca, and concluded to go to Central Africa instead. What befell him subsequently I never knew."

From this point the conversation wandered to various subjects, until one of the party dropped asleep and another followed his example. This occurrence led to a postponement of the story of Abdul's adventures with Sir Samuel Baker, as it was advisable for all the members of the party to get all the sleep they could when the opportunity offered. They followed the native custom of travelling in the morning and afternoon, and resting during the hottest part of the day.

[Illustration: PILGRIMS ON THE ROAD TO MECCA.]

CHAPTER III.

FROM KOROSKO TO ABOO HAMED.--THE NILE AGAIN.--ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE.

[Illustration: THE GUIDE IN THE DESERT.]

The Desert journey from Korosko is not an affair to be undertaken carelessly and without thoughtful preparation. The distance is about two hundred and fifty miles, and is traversed in eight days. It is necessary to carry water in goat-skins all the way, as there is only one well or spring on the route, and the water from it is undrinkable by man, and only endurable by the powerful stomach of the camel. Of course, the supply was used very sparingly; washing, except in sand, was quite out of the question, and as none of the party had a fondness for the sand-bath, they made no ablutions till reaching the Nile once more, except to moisten their eyes in the morning. The skins of water were distributed upon the camels, and each of the travellers had a small skin hanging at his saddle-bow for a daily supply. By the advice and example of the Doctor each of the boys had an extra skin of water hidden in his baggage, and its existence was carefully concealed from the Arab drivers. These fellows are inclined to improvidence, and had they known of this private provision they would have been certain to count it as part of the regular supply, and expect to draw upon it.

The heat of the Desert and the glare of the sun incline the traveller to thirst, and perhaps the knowledge of the necessity for economy is an additional incentive to it. Human nature has curious ways, and the desire for a thing generally increases in proportion to the difficulty of procuring it. Frank and Fred found that the fact of the scarcity of water, and the necessity of limiting their use of the precious fluid, increased their longing for it. At first they yielded by taking occasional draughts, but very soon they decided upon the old expedient of chewing a bit of leather or some other hard substance, to create a flow of saliva to moisten their lips. With a little self-denial, aided by the above practice, they soon conquered their thirst, and were able to get along nearly as well as the Arabs who accompanied them. Frank intimated that the warmth of the water, and the flavor of goat-skin which it soon acquired, had a material influence in lessening his desire for it.

The dreary waste of sand was partially relieved here and there by ranges of hills or low mountains, but they were barren as the rest of the Desert, and therefore made comparatively little variation in the landscape. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the sun poured its blistering rays upon the travellers during all the time it was above the horizon. In the morning and evening the heat was not intense, but in the middle of the day it was like the blast of a furnace.

At first the jolting of the camels was disagreeable, but in a little while the boys became accustomed to it, and tried to believe they were enjoying themselves. The camels of easiest motion are selected for riding purposes, and the youths were fortunate in their animals, which had been chosen by Abdul. Frank had a very tall and powerful camel, while Fred was on one little more than two-thirds the size of Frank's. The two animals were friendly to each other, but not to their riders, and the boys soon abandoned the attempt to establish social relations with their beasts of burden. "You may possibly be on good terms with them after a while," said Abdul, "but you must be patient. You could hardly expect it under a fortnight, and we ought to be in Aboo Hamed before that time. Most camels hate Europeans instinctively, but are docile with Arabs, just as mules are said to dislike white men and prefer the society of negroes."

[Illustration: A MIRAGE IN THE DESERT.]

On the second day of their journey Frank happened to look ahead, and to his great surprise saw a beautiful lake, surrounded by groves of trees.

He shouted to Frank, and then to the Doctor and Abdul, who were riding just behind them.

Abdul quickened the pace of his camel, and was soon at Frank's side.

"You told us there was no water on the road," said Frank, "and there is a lake right before us. I suppose it is filled with salt-water, and therefore doesn't count."

"Worse than salt-water," responded Doctor Bronson, who joined them. "It isn't water at all, but a mirage."

"Of course it is," Frank exclaimed, with a laugh; "I ought to have known better than be deceived by it."

"You are not the first to be deceived by it," said Abdul, "and it has been the cause of many deaths on this very route. Men have wandered from the road, confident that they were on the borders of a lake or river, and have fallen exhausted to die on the ground. Colonel Long, in his account of his travels in Central Africa, tells of a regiment on its march from Korosko across this desert. The men saw these lakes of water formed by the mirage; deceived by the illusion and maddened by thirst, they broke from the ranks, in spite of the protests of their guide, and went in search of water. They found their error too late, as most of them perished of exhaustion and thirst."

"Look at the graves along the road, and the bleaching bones of the camels," said the Doctor, "and you will understand the perils of the journey over the desert."

It was as Doctor Bronson suggested; the way was marked by thousands of skeletons of the faithful beasts of burden that had fallen in the service of their masters; and here and there, at painfully frequent intervals, were the graves of men who had perished of thirst or of the excessive heat. Even if no other landmarks existed, these would be sufficient to indicate the road.

The evening journey was continued till a late hour, and the boys were surprised to find that the desert air, so scorching during the day, was of a chilliness suggesting frost at night. Doctor Bronson recalled to them their experience in India, where there was often a sensible change of temperature in going from sunshine into shadow, and said it was a noticeable feature of the desert that it did not retain at night any appreciable portion of the heat poured upon it during the day. "It is fortunate for man that such is the case," he added, "as the coolness of the night enables us to recuperate from the exhaustion of the sweltering temperature of daytime."

[Illustration: SUNRISE ON THE SEA OF SAND.]

The wells or springs to which allusion has been made are about half way from Korosko to Aboo Hamed. They are shallow pools of exceedingly bitter water, quite unfit for men to drink, but not injurious to camels. Doctor Bronson tasted the water, and said the bitterness was caused by sulphate of magnesia, commonly known as Epsom salts. Frank and Fred were curious to try it, but their curiosity was easily satisfied. A few drops on the tongue made a burning sensation, which did not show a disposition to go away immediately.

The tents were pitched a short distance from the wells and close to an encampment of Arabs, who were spending two or three days there to refresh their camels. Around some of the pools there was a little vegetation, but not enough to furnish a good meal for a hungry animal; there were a few stunted palms in the valley, and the lines on the sand showed that at some former time a river flowed there. The camels drank freely of the water, and evidently understood that they must lay in a supply for the rest of the journey to the Nile.

[Illustration: SCENE AT THE WELLS.]

They left the wells early in the morning, and after a few hours found themselves on a broad, sandy plain, where the thermometer at two o'clock in the afternoon stood at 100°. It was the greatest heat they had found since leaving the Nile. Frank kept the record of the temperature, and reported to the Doctor each evening the result of his observations. In the morning it was chilly; the Arabs shivered in all their wrappings, and our friends sought shelter in their overcoats for the early part of the ride, but invariably laid them aside when the sun was a couple of hours above the horizon. By noon they were in their lightest garments, and so continued till evening, when the air grew cool again.

There was a daily variation of not far from forty degrees between the highest and lowest readings of the thermometer. The lowest record was 50°, and the highest 100°; but these did not occur on the same day. The boys were not slow to understand why the Doctor had made such a liberal provision of blankets, and were greatly obliged to him for his forethought.

As they approached the Nile, Frank and Fred vied with each other to get the first glimpse of the great river. The mirage was all around them, and the boys were several times deceived by it, until Abdul came to their assistance.

"I will give you a rule," said he, "by which you can always tell a real lake or river from an imaginary one. In a mirage the imaginary lake is of the same color as the sky above it, while the Nile is of a deeper blue. You will rarely, if ever, find the sky and water of the same hue when the sun is shining, and this is the only time when the mirage appears. With this simple rule in mind, you are not likely to be deceived."

[Illustration: MOUNTAIN PASS IN THE DESERT.]

While they were talking Fred made good use of his eyes, and suddenly pointed ahead to a little cleft in the line of rocky hills. There was a strip of blue which did not resemble the sky in color, and he felt certain it was the Nile.

"You are right," said Abdul, "and that is the Nile. We will make our camp to-night on its banks."

Soon a fringe of palm-trees came into sight; the blue streak increased to a broad expanse of water, and the line of palms into a grove. Then they came among fields of beans and other green things, and before sunset they stood on the bank of the river, and drank freely of the water, which Ali brought them in a large bowl. It was a great improvement upon the warm and strongly flavored water which had been their only resource for eight long days, and they both declared it the sweetest draught they had ever taken.

"You can understand now, better than ever before," said the Doctor, "why the Arabs seem to worship the Nile, and why the ancient Egyptians regarded it as a divinity. Without it all this part of Africa would be like the desert we have just passed, and existence here would be impossible."

"And I understand, too," responded Fred, "why the Arab conception of Paradise abounds in rivers of never-failing water. Mohammed wrote from his own experience, as he lived among the deserts of Arabia."

An Arab merchant, with whom Abdul was acquainted, came to offer the shelter of his house to the strangers; but they preferred their tents, and told the dragoman to thank him for his offer and decline it. Frank proposed a swim in the river, which was seconded by Fred. Abdul suggested the possibility of an interview with a crocodile, and the swim was indefinitely postponed. Crocodiles are numerous in this part of the river, and in fact all the way from the second Cataract to the equatorial lakes. They are by no means timid, and the stranger should think twice before venturing into the river.

Abdul told the boys that it was not unusual for crocodiles to be counted by dozens on the sand-banks in the upper Nile; on one occasion he saw more than fifty together, and they did not show a disposition to slide into the water till he was within twenty yards of them. Sometimes, when boats were overturned in the river, the unfortunate victims of the upset were eaten by the hideous reptiles; and they occasionally came close to the bank and seized women or girls who were filling water-jars from the stream.

Of course the youths were seized with a desire to shoot a crocodile, and eagerly asked the Doctor if there would be an opportunity for a hunting expedition. Doctor Bronson said they would remain a day at Aboo Hamed, and he had no objection to their trying their skill if the game could be found.

Abdul went in search of his merchant friend, and the business was soon arranged. There was a sand-bank a little way up the river, where the crocodiles came out to sun themselves, and he thought they could get a shot or two by going there on the following morning.

Their sleep that night was disturbed by dreams of monster saurians. Frank waked with a start, under the impression that he was being swallowed feet foremost by a crocodile; he found, on coming to his senses, that the blankets had rolled away from his feet and allowed the cold air to fall on them, and it was the change of temperature that had given him the impression of being devoured. Fred dreamed of falling into the water from a boat, and finding himself where the river was full of hungry crocodiles; the reality was that he had rolled from his couch, and upset a water-jar which Ali had placed ready for his use in the morning.

After breakfast they left for the crocodile hunt, the party consisting of Frank and Fred, with Ali, the latter going as interpreter. One of the camel-drivers went along, and there were at least a dozen Arabs who followed, in the hope of earning or begging something from the young hunters.

When they reached the sand-bank a single crocodile was seen by one of the Arabs, who pointed it out to the youths. A friendly dispute followed, to determine who should have the first shot, which would probably be the only one. The choice fell upon Frank, and, as soon as it was determined, he motioned the others to remain quiet while he crept slowly in the direction of the prize.

Armed with his rifle, he went slowly along the sand till within about sixty yards of the crocodile; at this moment the creature raised his head and looked around, but as Frank lay perfectly still the proximity of danger was not discovered. The reptile settled to sleep again, and when he had been lying quiet a couple of minutes Frank advanced as before.

The eye and the shoulder are the only vulnerable points of the crocodile. As the eye was closed its position was not easy to make out, and so Frank determined on shooting at the shoulder. He took deliberate aim and fired.

The crocodile gave one convulsive motion and stretched himself on the sand. Evidently Frank's shot had been well aimed.

The youth was about to run forward to examine his game, but was restrained by a shout from Ali, telling him to wait for the Arabs. They came up at the top of their speed.

"They say you must be careful," said Ali, "as the crocodile may not be dead. He will lie quite still awhile, and when you don't expect it he thrashes his tail round and opens his jaws."

Thus cautioned, Frank went more slowly, accompanied by the rest of the party. To make the thing certain, Fred put a bullet through the crocodile's eye, and Frank added another from the opposite side. At each of these shots there was a slight movement of the creature's muscles, but nothing that appeared dangerous.

The boys told the Arabs they might do what they pleased with the carcass. It was of very little consequence, as the flesh is not fit to eat, but the skin and teeth can occasionally be sold to a traveller who desires to take home a trophy, and has not been fortunate in bagging any game of his own. While one of them went for a rope the rest sat down and waited; the boys followed their example, hoping another crocodile would show himself, and give Fred a chance to try his skill; but nothing appeared.

[Illustration: DRAGGING A CROCODILE TO LAND.]

When the man returned with the rope the party set at work to drag their prize to the solid ground. They were very cautious in approaching him, but finally managed to get the rope around his neck. As soon as they commenced pulling, the legs and tail began to move, the tail swinging from side to side in a way that would have been dangerous to any one within its reach.

The men hauled away vigorously, and, despite the opposition of the crocodile, they soon removed him from the narrow strip of sand and had him safe on the main bank. A blow from a hatchet finished the work of the boys, and the crocodile lay dead on the ground. By means of the rope his length was ascertained, and then the youths returned to the village.

They told the story of their adventure to the Doctor, who measured the rope, and found that the crocodile was only a few inches short of fifteen feet long.

"It's a very good one," said Abdul, "but I've seen 'em eighteen or twenty feet long. The great fellows are no more dangerous than the smaller ones, as a crocodile ten feet long can drag a man under water and hold him there till he is drowned."

[Illustration: SECURING A SUPPER.]

Abdul said that one day, while the men of Baker Pacha's party were working among some masses of reeds that the river had piled up, they felt something moving under their feet. They got away from the spot as soon as possible, and a moment afterward the head of a crocodile was thrust up from below. His body was tangled in the reeds, and before he could get free the men attacked him. He was unable to use his tail, and so was at their mercy; "and you may be sure," he continued, "nobody has any mercy for a crocodile. Besides, the men were negroes from the Soudan country, and, unlike the Arabs, they had no scruple in eating the flesh. They made short work of him, and had a good supper that night, in addition to the sport of killing their natural enemy."

Abdul said that the number of natives killed by crocodiles every year along the upper part of the Nile must be quite large. Every few days a death from this cause occurs in nearly every town or village. The careless habits of the people are greatly in the crocodile's favor, and he has no scruples about taking them as near his heart as the position of his stomach will permit. When a large crocodile is killed and dissected the proof of his misdeeds is generally discovered, in the shape of anklets and other silver ornaments worn by his unfortunate victims, and which remain of course undigested.

The crocodile does not eat his game on the spot where he captures it; his habit is to drag it to a secluded place and take his time in devouring it. In this respect he differs from his marine cousin, the shark, who bolts his prey at once, and then, like Oliver Twist, looks around for more.

CHAPTER IV.

BERBER AND SHENDY.--HUNTING THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.--TERRIBLE REVENGE OF AN ETHIOPIAN KING.

The adventure with the crocodile had consumed the entire forenoon, and the boys were ready for a well-earned rest of a couple of hours. In the afternoon they crossed the Nile to the island of Mokrat, which lies opposite Aboo Hamed, and is about twenty miles long. The fields of cotton, beans, dourah, and other Egyptian products were in marked contrast to the desert, and the dark-green foliage of the palm and sycamore trees were a grateful sight to the eyes of the young travellers after their eight days' travel where no verdure could be seen. Frank said the only green things in the desert were themselves, but the Doctor told him the joke was old enough to be allowed to rest. "Bayard Taylor made it in 1851," he remarked, "and nearly every traveller since his time has repeated it."

While they were crossing the stream on their way to the island a crocodile showed his head close to them, but immediately disappeared from sight. Fred thought he must have heard of their slaughter of one of his kindred, and therefore showed prudence in going away. He was in no danger, as they had left their rifles at Aboo Hamed, and were quite without the appliances for capturing a fresh prize.

Abdul said they might possibly see a hippopotamus, and, in the hope of finding one, he took them to a part of the island where these amphibious beasts are said to come ashore. There were several broad tracks in the sand, and one of the natives showed where his field had been seriously injured by these disagreeable visitors.

The visit to the spot naturally led to stories of the chase of these animals. Doctor Bronson had never hunted the hippopotamus, but he informed the boys concerning the character of the beast and his place in natural history. "He is a curious product of nature," said the Doctor, "and his name comes from two Greek words meaning 'river-horse.' The name describes him very fairly, though not accurately. He makes his home in the river, but can hardly be ranked with the horse. His head reminds one of the hog, while the body resembles, to some extent, that of the ox. His motions are generally sluggish, but he possesses great strength, which he is not slow to use.

[Illustration: THE HOME OF BEHEMOTH.]

"He lives upon vegetable food, and his feet are provided with toes instead of hoofs. In the daytime he remains concealed in the water, or among the reeds, and his depredations in search of food are committed at night. He is the 'behemoth' of the Bible, and his common name among the people where he abounds is 'sea-cow.'"

"He is more valuable than the crocodile," continued the Doctor, "and likewise he is more dangerous to pursue. The crocodile is harmless, unless you come within reach of his tail or jaws, and when attacked, his whole effort is to get away. The hippopotamus will show fight when attacked, particularly if it happens to be a mother with young."

"I'll tell you about a fight with one," said Abdul, "as soon as the Doctor has finished with his description of the animal."

"The flesh of the sea-cow resembles pork," Doctor Bronson continued. "The skin is tough and thick, and is made into those terrible whips which are called _courbashes_ by the Arabs, and are used all over Africa. It can also be used for the soles of sandals and boots, and for helmets, shields, and other defensive things. It is not easy to send a bullet through it, and an old hippopotamus is nearly as impenetrable as the side of a locomotive engine. The teeth are valuable, as they are an excellent ivory, and for some purposes surpass the tusk of the elephant. So much for the value of the hippopotamus; and now for the story of Abdul's fight with one."

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN RIVER SCENE.]

"Twenty years ago," said the dragoman, "there were more of these animals here than now, and there were also more crocodiles. In the neighborhood of Khartoum the river was full of them, and if you went out just at daybreak, in certain localities, you might see dozens of them in a single morning. The crocodile and the hippopotamus do not get along well together, and sometimes they have savage fights; but more frequently they mind their own business, and you may see them swimming peaceably side by side. Where both are so well able to take care of themselves they are not very likely to quarrel.

"The river full of these animals and the air full of birds made a very lively picture. Anybody who was fond of hunting could get all the sport he wanted.

"One morning I went out with an English gentleman whom I had accompanied from Cairo. He was an excellent shot, and on his way up the river had killed no less than seven crocodiles, which he secured, in addition to at least a dozen that had escaped into the water after being mortally wounded. He was anxious to kill a hippopotamus, and I promised to give him the opportunity.

"We went quietly along till we reached one of their haunts, where we brought the boat to land. Creeping through the reeds, I caught sight of a large sea-cow eating her breakfast and quite unconscious of danger. I beckoned to the gentleman, who came forward cautiously to get a good position for firing.

"He worked around till he thought he had the proper aim and then fired. His shot was not fatal, and she turned with a roar that was something like the squeal of a hog, though much deeper and louder.

"At the same moment I saw her calf, which had been lying on the ground, and then I knew she would face and fight us. If she had been without young, her first move would have been to rush for shelter in the water.

"I stumbled and fell, but was up again in an instant. Luckily for me the hippopotamus is clumsy on land though quite agile in the water, and I was getting nicely out of the way when my foot caught in a tangle of reeds and I was down again.

[Illustration: A NARROW ESCAPE.]

"This time the animal reached me, and opened its great jaws as if to swallow me at one gulp. I thought I was lost, but at that moment another bullet from the gentleman's rifle called her attention the other way.

"Another bullet followed, and then the beast turned toward the water; but she had been struck in a vital part, and fell before getting to the river. The calf did not run away, but stayed by its mother. It was too large for us to capture alive, and so we killed it, or rather the Englishman did. We had a good deal of trouble getting the boatmen to help us carry the prizes to the bank, as they were all afraid of being attacked if they ventured away from the water.

"At another time two Englishmen went out in a boat with a negro who was to ferry them over the river. While they were crossing they wounded a calf. The little fellow bellowed at the top of his voice and his mother made a rush at the boat, dragging the stern under water and giving them a narrow escape from drowning; but in attacking the boat she raised herself half out of water, so that they had good aim at her at very close range. A couple of bullets made her loosen her hold on the boat and drop again into the river.

"In the interior of Africa," Abdul continued, "the natives hunt the hippopotamus in two or three ways. They set pitfalls for him so that a heavy spear falls on his back when he is travelling along a path in search of food. When he has found a good feeding-ground in somebody's field, and has spent the night there, he is liable to come again the next night, and so the natives feel pretty certain of securing him when they set a trap. But it has to be arranged very skilfully, as he is a cautious brute, and very apt to discover the disturbance of the bushes or trees.

[Illustration: HIPPOPOTAMUS SPEARS.]

"Another mode of hunting them is with the spear, and for this purpose it is made with a very strong barb that will hold in the skin, and has a handle eight or ten feet long. Three or four of the natives get on a raft of reeds and float slowly along in perfect silence till they reach the spot where the hippopotamus is supposed to lie.

"The animal when undisturbed is generally found with his nose just above the water, while his body is concealed beneath it and resting on the bottom of the river. The raft drifts along till it touches the nose of the sleeper; he rises up and brings his back above the surface, so that his assailants have good aim at it.

[Illustration: SPEARING THE RIVER-HORSE.]

"Down come the heavy spears into his thick hide; the barbs get good hold under the skin, and then the natives paddle the raft to land, and fasten the ropes of the harpoons to the nearest trees or to a strong stake hastily driven into the ground.

"The animal is their prize, as he cannot tear out the harpoons or break the ropes, and his enemies are out of his reach. They sit down and wait for him to exhaust his strength by struggling, and then he can be finished with spears and knives, as they are unprovided with fire-arms. I have seen several of these animals captured in this way; the only danger is that he may upset them before they have taken the ropes to land and made them fast."

By the time Abdul's story was ended the boat was back at the landing-place in front of Aboo Hamed, and in a few minutes the boys were once more in their tents. Their excursion had given them a keen relish for supper, which consisted of a stew of mutton from a sheep which Abdul had bought before they started for Mokrat. Whenever it was possible to obtain food by purchase they did so, and preserved their canned provisions against such times as they should need them in the heart of Africa.

They had expected to go by river from Aboo Hamed to Berber, but unfortunately there was no boat to be hired, and therefore a new bargain was made with the camel-drivers to continue the journey by land. The boys had become accustomed to the Arab mode of travel, and did not particularly regret the absence of a boat. The dragoman told the Doctor that they would get along faster and cheaper with the camels than with a boat, as there was a cataract to be passed about half way on the route, where they would be subject to delay and the inevitable demand of the natives for backsheesh. The day's halt had refreshed the camels and their riders, and early the second morning the procession wound along the road as gayly as it had departed from Korosko.

Much of the way the route was along the bank of the Nile, sometimes in the desert sands, and sometimes among rich fields where the natives were at work attending to their crops, or lying idle in the warm sun. Occasionally a bend of the stream caused the caravan to take a short cut of several hours among rocky ridges or over stretches of yellow sand that reflected a painful glare to unprotected eyes. The camp was made each night on the bank of the Nile, and generally in the neighborhood of a village. The inhabitants were miserably poor, and it was difficult to buy anything more than a few vegetables and eggs, and possibly a lean and unattractive chicken. The natives are heavily oppressed with taxation, and frequently their goods are taken from them by the Egyptian officials, and they receive no payment in return. Several times they fled as our friends approached, and it was not an easy matter to assure them they would not be harmed.

Several times the party had glimpses of gazelles that abound in this region, but have been hunted so much that they are very shy. Frank and Fred were eager for a gazelle hunt, but it was not deemed advisable to halt the caravan sufficiently long to accommodate them. Their chances of success were very slight, from the wildness of the game and their inexperience, and a very little argument induced them to postpone the chase till they were more certain of bringing something home that would make a good dinner. Abdul told them there were formerly wild asses in the Wady El-Homar; they subsisted on the hard, thorny grass that grows there, but were very fleet and shy, so that they were rarely caught except by stratagem. The wady, or valley, is a pass among the hills which come down to the river in long ridges, and are destitute of water except in the season of rains.

As they approached Berber the sterility of the scene diminished, though the travellers were not out of the desert until near the city. On the other side of the river the fields stretched away for a long distance, and Frank remarked that the picture reminded him of the delta of the Nile in the neighborhood of Cairo. They met or passed crowds of people going between Berber and the surrounding villages, many on foot, and others mounted on camels and donkeys, the latter being the most numerous. As they passed the mud walls and entered the city, the attention of our youthful friends was centred on the people rather than on the architecture of the place. The houses were not unlike those of the towns of Lower Egypt, but the inhabitants were quite different in appearance, and both Frank and Fred remarked that they were in a new country.

[Illustration: A BERBER ARAB.]

The people were of a darker color than those they had seen farther down the river. Three-fourths of them were Nubians and Ethiopians of various tribes and kinds, and the remainder included Arabs from the desert, soldiers from Cairo and Alexandria, a few Copts and native Egyptians, and a small number of individuals whom it was very difficult to classify. Berber is the centre of a considerable trade with the Lower Nile and the coast of the Red Sea on one hand, and the Upper Nile and Central Africa on the other; consequently, its streets are the meeting-place of many tribes that roam over a large extent of country.

Abdul told the boys that Berber had a population of about twenty thousand, and was formerly the capital of the Ethiopian kingdom of the same name. It is an important military point, and the government generally keeps a garrison of not less than a thousand soldiers in the fort which commands the town. These troops are intended less for the protection of the place than as a terror to the surrounding tribes, who sometimes show signs of insubordination, and are kept in order by the military presence.

Frank thought the fort was not of much consequence, as its walls were of mud and brick, and could be battered down in a short time by a small army with artillery. Doctor Bronson said there was little probability of an army coming against it, as it was in the hands of the only military power in all that part of Africa. The fort was intended as a defence against the natives, and the few cannon they possessed were of antiquated pattern, and no match for the modern weapons of the Egyptian army.

[Illustration: SHEEP OF BERBER.]

Outside the walls were several encampments of caravans from Suakim, on the Red Sea, and from the country to the southward. The bank of the Nile was lined with boats, some loading or unloading their cargoes, and others lying idle and waiting for patrons or crews. Negotiations were opened with the owner of one of the largest boats for the transportation of Doctor Bronson's party to Khartoum. Before any conclusion was reached the business was brought to an end by the arrival of a steamboat from up the river, and the announcement that she would return a couple of days later.

"For once we have found the Oriental policy of delay in our favor," the Doctor remarked, when telling the boys of the arrival of the steamer. "If the owner of that boat had been an Englishman or an American he would have closed the transaction in an hour or so, and we should have been obliged to go with him, or pay for breaking the contract. But he sat down and smoked his pipe, on the first interview and the second, without saying a word about business, and by the time he was ready for a third consultation I knew all about the steamboat, and had no farther need of his services."

The steamer belonged to the Egyptian government, and before the Doctor's party could be allowed to travel by it the permission of the Governor of Berber was necessary. Fortunately, they were provided with letters from the high authorities at Cairo, and the permission was easily obtained.

The baggage had been stored in the warehouse of a French merchant, to protect it from weather and thieves. As soon as the arrangements were completed for passage up the river the boxes and bales were taken to the steamboat and snugly stowed in the hold. As was naturally expected in this land of delays, the boat did not leave until a day after the appointed time, and the Doctor considered himself fortunate to get away so soon.

Aided by the wind from the north she breasted the current of the Nile, and very soon the mud walls of Berber were left behind. The banks of the river showed signs of greater fertility than our friends had seen on their ride from Aboo Hamed; groves of palm-trees were numerous, and there were many fields of grain, cotton, and other growing things. Abdul said there had been great suffering in this region at different times, owing to bad government. At one time the Governor-general of the Soudan had caused the natives to be plundered, in order that he might secure a larger taxation than usual. Many villages were abandoned, the people fleeing to the interior to escape persecution, and neglecting agriculture altogether. When he passed up the river with Baker Pacha's expedition the country was almost destitute of inhabitants, and for miles and miles where formerly were prosperous villages not a native could be seen.

The land here, like that lower down the Nile, is kept fertile by irrigation. The sakkiehs, or water-wheels, are turned by oxen, and their creaking is the reverse of musical. In some places they seem to form a continuous line along the banks, and in a distance of less than a mile Frank counted thirty-seven sakkiehs at work, besides nearly as many more lying idle. This part of the Nile might be made one of the most productive parts of Egypt, and it is to be hoped that a better government will control it than has been its ill-fortune since the days of Mohammed Ali to the present time.

[Illustration: VIEW IN THE ATBARA VALLEY.]

Abdul called the boys to look at the Atbara River.

"It is noticeable," said the Doctor, "as the first tributary of the Nile above its entrance into the Mediterranean. For fifteen hundred miles this great river does not receive so much as the tiniest brook, a condition of things without parallel with any other river of the world."

"The Atbara rises in Abyssinia," said Abdul, "near the base of two lofty mountains called Abba-Jaret and Amba-Hai. They are not far from the coast of the Red Sea, and one of the head streams of the Atbara is said to start as though intending to reach the coast, when it suddenly turns and flows toward the Nile. It is called Atbara only in the lower part of its course; higher up it is known as the Tacazze, and it runs through a country that would be very productive if it contained people to cultivate it."

A short distance above the mouth of the Atbara they passed Damer, a town situated on the point of land between the Nile and its tributary stream. Abdul said it was not unlike Berber, but smaller, and they were not losing much in passing it without stopping.

They stopped a couple of hours at Shendy, to take in fuel for the steamboat, and the delay was utilized by our friends to obtain a glimpse of the town. As they walked through the streets, formed by rows of mud houses, with here and there a building of more pretentious character, the Doctor told his young companions of a terrible incident in its history.

"Shendy was formerly the capital of the Soudan country," said the Doctor, "and had an important trade with Darfoor and other countries of Central Africa. After the conquest of Egypt Mohammed Ali sent his son, Ismail Pacha, to demand the submission of Mek Nemr, the King of Ethiopia, who ruled at Shendy, and had received the nickname of 'The Leopard,' on account of his ferocity.

"Ismail Pacha made his camp outside the walls of Shendy, and sent for the king to come to see him. He demanded hay for his horses and camels and food for his troops. The king said it was impossible to meet the demand, as his people were poor and the season had been very bad.

"The Egyptian became angry and struck the king over the head with the stem of his chibouk. The king bowed his head, as if frightened, and said his people should bring all that was asked for, and more besides.

"All night long the king's people were busy bringing hay for the horses and camels and piling it around the camp. The largest heaps were in front of the tents of the Pacha and his officers, and they remarked that the Ethiopian king had evidently been thoroughly frightened into submission, and would hereafter be obedient to his rulers.

"At daybreak there was a change of the scene.

"Suddenly the whole circle of forage was in a blaze. Ismail Pacha and his officers and soldiers attempted to save themselves by flight. As they ran from the flames that threatened them they were met by the lances of hundreds of Ethiopian warriors, who gave them the alternative of being speared or roasted.

"Not one of all the party escaped. When Mohammed Ali heard of the death of his son he sent an army to destroy Shendy, and not leave one stone standing on another. The town was razed to the ground, but 'The Leopard' was not seized; he fled into the interior, and never fell into the hands of the Egyptians. This happened in 1822. A new town was started on the site of the old one, but it has never gained its former greatness. The capital of the country was moved to Khartoum, and that place has become the centre of trade on this part of the Nile."

The spot where Ismail Pacha met his death at the hands of the ferocious King of Ethiopia was pointed out by Abdul. The boys looked in vain for any traces of the camp, but the dragoman assured them there could be little doubt of the locality, and none as to the correctness of the story.

[Illustration: AN ETHIOPIAN KING.]

CHAPTER V.

LIFE IN KHARTOUM.--DEPARTURE FOR GONDOKORO.

From Shendy to Khartoum there was little change of landscape. The country increased in fertility, and Abdul informed the travellers that they were every hour getting farther into the region of periodical rains. The grasses grew without irrigation, and, only the strip of land near the river, where beans and other garden products were raised, required artificial watering. The people keep large flocks of sheep and goats, and our friends had practical knowledge of this fact in the ease with which they could purchase mutton at the landing-places. Mountains appeared in the distance, and were a great relief to the eye after the flat and wearisome plains.

Frank and Fred were watching for the junction of the Blue and White Nile. Before coming in sight of the point where the rivers unite they became aware of its proximity by the appearance of the water. The White Nile was of a grayish color, while the other stream was several degrees darker in hue. Doctor Bronson said he was reminded of the confluence of the Ohio with the Mississippi, or of the latter river with the Missouri. There is an island just below the point of land where Khartoum is built, and boats may pass from one river to the other above this island. There is usually very little current through the channel, so that the actual junction is considerably farther down.

[Illustration: ARRIVAL AT KHARTOUM.]

The man at the helm directed the steamer up the Blue Nile, and turned her prow toward a stone embankment in front of several large buildings. There were two or three groups of these buildings, and as the boat steamed onward Abdul described them to the strangers. "On the left," said he, "is the Governor's palace, and close by it are the residences of the principal officials; to the right are other government buildings, and then farther away are the habitations of the foreign consuls and other persons of distinction. The front of Khartoum is more attractive than the interior, and if you want to retain the best impression of the place you would do well not to go on shore at all."

This did not suit the desires of our young friends, and they declined asking the captain of the boat to pass Khartoum without stopping. Probably he would have laughed at the request, or gravely referred it to the commanding officer on shore.

The steamer stopped at the foot of the stone embankment, and as soon as the plank was out the three travellers mounted the steps to the top of the low bluff. Abdul and Ali remained to look after the baggage and arrange for its storage, while Doctor Bronson went to call upon Mr. Jenquel, a German merchant, to whom he had letters of introduction. Mr. Jenquel was out at the time; but his partner received the strangers kindly, and speedily arranged for their being comfortably lodged during their stay. There is no hotel at Khartoum, and travellers are obliged to hire lodgings or accept the hospitality of the few Europeans living in the place.

They took a stroll through Khartoum in company with their new-found friend, and saw many things to attract their attention. The street near the river was well shaded with palm and other trees, and they passed several gardens of citron and orange trees, whose fruit seemed to invite immediate plucking and devouring. They found the older part of the town made up of narrow and crooked streets, and had several narrow escapes from being knocked down by camels that moved along the way as if it belonged to no one but themselves. After dodging several times to avoid the ponderous beasts Frank asked where they came from, and what they were carrying.

"They are mostly from the Atmoor, or desert of Korosko," was the reply, "and their burdens consist of European goods intended for the African market."

"These goods are about the same as we are carrying for paying our way in Africa," said the Doctor. "Cotton cloths, beads, knives, small tools, and a lot of toys and gewgaws constitute the staple of African supplies. The merchants in Khartoum fit out the wandering traders, and send them into the interior for ivory, gum, ostrich feathers, and the other products of the country that will bear a high rate of transportation. The chief article is ivory, and the trade of Khartoum sometimes amounts to a million dollars a year in ivory alone. Latterly it is said to have declined, owing to the diminished number of elephants and the difficulty of capturing them.

[Illustration: ELEPHANTS AT HOME--SHAKING A FRUIT-TREE.]

"From present indications," the Doctor continued, "the elephant seems destined to follow the fate of the buffalo in America and disappear before many years. Formerly he was pursued only by the natives, who were unprovided with fire-arms and relied upon their spears and arrows, and also on pitfalls and other rude contrivances. His sagacity enables him to elude the latter, except in rare instances, and his great strength was in favor of his safety from primitive weapons. But since the white man has entered the field, and especially since the invention of rifles that kill at long distances, and carry explosive bullets, the days of the elephant are numbered. Strength and sagacity are of little avail against modern weapons and their murderous accessories, and if the elephant survives the American bison, it is only because the African continent has been settled more slowly than our own.

"If you look on the map you will see that Khartoum is at the end of the caravan route from Kordofan and Darfoor; consequently some of the camels you have been dodging may have come from those countries as well as from the desert of Korosko. Then there is the route by the river, both south and north, and also along the Blue Nile. It is the intention of the Egyptian government to bring the Soudan railway to Khartoum, and it is not impossible that a decade or so hence we may travel in a Pullman car from Cairo to the spot where we are now standing."[3]

[3] Since writing the above the author has received a letter from the American Consul-general at Cairo, in which it is stated that in consequence of the insurrection in the Soudan provinces the English government has been called upon to act with Egypt in restoring the authority of the latter country. Foreseeing the great difficulties in carrying troops and stores across the Desert to Khartoum, England is seriously considering the question of a railway between Suakim, on the Red Sea, and Berber, on the Nile. In addition to its political importance, the line would have great commercial advantages, as it would afford an outlet for the rich region between Khartoum and the equatorial lakes.

"Just think of it!" exclaimed Fred; "riding by railway to Central Africa, only fifteen degrees north of the equator, and in the land of elephants and crocodiles!"

His meditations were brought suddenly to an end by an encounter with another string of camels, followed by several negroes, who were closely watched by a swarthy Arab, armed with a large whip.

[Illustration: PROFILES OF DINKA NEGROES.]

"Those men are slaves," whispered their guide; "though the Arab in charge of them would declare he knew nothing about them if you should ask him. They come from the southern country, and are of the tribe of Dinka negroes. The Dinkas are greatly liked as slaves, and bring a higher price than those from other tribes.

"You see they are not tied together, or in any way restrained; but if they should try to run away they would get some sharp blows of the whip, and the Arabs that are loitering about would hinder their escape. The police would not interfere to assist either party. The slave has few friends, while all the Arabs are interested in keeping up the commerce, and are therefore the natural enemies of the captive.

[Illustration: BRINGING A SLAVE TO MARKET.]

"When the slave caravans are on the road the men and women are tied together, and frequently have wooden yokes around their necks, to keep them from running away. Carrying these heavy burdens, they move with difficulty, and their strength is so much exhausted that they are completely under the control of their captors."

A couple of hours among the narrow streets of the old part of Khartoum, where their nostrils were constantly assailed by vile smells from the wretched drains, were quite enough for our friends, and they returned to the river bank. Their guide told them that the city was notoriously unhealthy, owing to its bad drainage. It had been fatal to a great many Europeans, and of late years the government had endeavored to remedy the evil, but had not succeeded altogether. The population is a mixed lot of Arabs, Turks, Jews, Berbers, negroes, and Europeans. The latter are principally Greeks and Italians, engaged in selling European products to the native merchants, and some of them keep small shops for vending spirits and canned edibles.

Altogether, Khartoum has a population of about thirty thousand, and is said to be steadily increasing with the growth of trade in Central Africa. Before the destruction of Shendy it was a place of little importance; but when the capital of the Soudan was transferred to Khartoum, in 1822, it rose rapidly in importance, and has been greatly helped by its geographical position.

Returning to the establishment of Mr. Jenquel, they found that gentleman, who received them cordially, and said they must dine at his house, which was a short distance from his place of business. Dinner would be ready in an hour, and meanwhile he would show them how he lived in Khartoum.

They went to the house at once, and their host said they might take his dwelling for a fair specimen of the best class of houses in Khartoum. It stood in a yard or garden about five hundred feet square, and surrounded by a mud wall eight or nine feet high, and nearly half as thick. The house was nearly two hundred feet square, with a court-yard in the centre; the part of the building nearest the entrance was two stories high, but the remainder was only one story. Stairways are objectionable in hot countries, as the exertion of climbing is too much for human endurance, and elevators have not yet penetrated into Africa. The upper story was occupied by Mr. Jenquel and his amiable wife, while the ground-floor contained the dining-room and two or three apartments for visitors, together with the kitchen and the quarters of the servants. All the rooms were large and airy, and were fitted partly in European and partly in Arab style. There was a wide balcony surrounding the upper story, and it formed an agreeable lounging-place in the coolest hours of the day.

Mrs. Jenquel proved to be a most charming lady, who spoke German and English with equal fluency. She had been only a short time in Khartoum, and was evidently not over-charmed with the place. She said there were only two European ladies besides herself in the city. There were no theatres, balls, parties, or other amusements, and altogether there was a great deal of monotony in the life she led. It was a relief to her when strangers came to visit them, and she welcomed with delight the presence of Doctor Bronson and the intelligent youths who accompanied him.

Dinner was served in European style, the principal dish being roast mutton, preceded by soup and fish--the latter a species of salmon from the Blue Nile--and followed by a liberal supply of fruits. Among the latter were delicious oranges from the garden of the host, together with tamarinds, dates, custard-apples, and grapes. Our friends had made the acquaintance of the custard-apple in India, and found the product of Khartoum in no way inferior to that of Asia.

Abdul came to announce that their lodgings were ready, and the baggage had been carefully landed and stored as previously arranged. When the proper time arrived they said "good-night" to their kind entertainers, and followed the dragoman to the house that had been secured for them.

[Illustration: TREES NEAR THE RIVER.]

It was not unlike the residence of Mr. Jenquel, though considerably smaller, and belonged to a merchant, who had gone to Cairo on business, and was not averse to the occupation of his house by suitable tenants during his absence. Half a dozen servants remained in charge, so that Doctor Bronson and the boys found themselves comfortably lodged, and as much at home as though the place was their own. Abdul was installed as chief manager, and the promise of a liberal backsheesh made everything right with the regular servants of the house.

The party remained nearly two weeks at Khartoum, as the preparations for departure could not be made in a hurry. They were now at the last outpost of civilization, and their next move would carry them into the wilderness. The boys readily fell into their new life, and were very soon as familiar with Khartoum as though they had resided there a decade or two.

They rose early every morning, and were generally off by sunrise for a ride in the country around Khartoum. Sometimes they were mounted on horses which Abdul had hired from a merchant who kept a large stable close to their residence, and sometimes on camels, that were readily procured from one of the encampments of the caravans. They found the horses less fatiguing than the "ships of the desert;" but occasionally they were treated to half-wild steeds, exceedingly hard on the bit, and having a strong tendency to run away with their young riders. One morning they had a lively run of nearly two hours on the broad plain south of Khartoum, their horses going at full gallop, and evidently in the mood for exercise. When they came to pull up their restive beasts they were nearly thrown from the saddles; and Frank said he could see no indications that his horse was wearied from the long race. Abdul said the horses came from Darfoor, and were anxious to get back again. They were fine animals, and worthy of all the praise bestowed by the Arabs on their favorite steeds. Fred afterward read the account which Bayard Taylor gives of his ride over this very plain, when he left his attendants far behind, though they were mounted on swift dromedaries, and made every exertion to keep close at his heels. The youth was decidedly of opinion that the animal he rode in the race with his cousin was in every respect the equal of the famous red stallion of the Austrian consul.

[Illustration: VIEW NEAR THE EDGE OF THE TOWN.]

The middle of the day was generally passed within doors, on account of the heat; the afternoon was devoted to business and visits, if any were to be made, and to walks in the town or along the banks of the two rivers which have their place of meeting just below the city. Then there were letters and journals to be written, maps to be studied, books to be read, and in various ways the time slipped pleasantly away.

Fortunately for our friends, it happened that a government steamer was about to leave Khartoum with despatches for the Governor of the post at Gondokoro. By means of a telegram from the authorities at Cairo, and the judicious use of backsheesh in certain quarters, it was arranged that Doctor Bronson's party could take passage on this steamer. There was some difficulty about the baggage, as the captain of the boat (an Egyptian Arab) said it was impossible to carry it in addition to what was already ordered on government account.

[Illustration: PREPARING DINNER.]

Abdul invited the captain to dine with him, and the dinner was the best that could be prepared. It lasted until a late hour. Before it was over the whole matter was arranged, and the captain said he would carry the baggage of the party, even if he was obliged to stow it in his own room. The conversation was in Arabic, and we are therefore unable to say how the business was settled; but as Abdul excused himself once during the dinner, and asked the Doctor for five hundred francs in gold, it is fair to suppose that the negotiations were not unconnected with backsheesh.

As they steamed away from Khartoum, Abdul said their solitary boat was quite a contrast to the fleet of Baker Pacha when he started from the same point for his famous expedition to suppress the slave-trade.

[Illustration: BAKER'S EXPEDITION LEAVING KHARTOUM.]

"Baker's expedition, as I before told you," said Abdul, "had two steamers and thirty-six sailing boats; and each of the steamers had a couple of dahabeeahs, or sailing-boats, in tow. It was a grand sight as we swept past the town, the steamers leading, with their tows, and the sailing-craft driving ahead with the strong north wind. Salutes were fired from the batteries in front of the palace, and the decks of our boats were crowded with men watching till the single minaret of Khartoum was lost in the distance.

"The steamers pushed on with their tows, leaving the rest of the fleet to follow, and made the best of their way to Fashoda, the government post in the Shillook country, six hundred and eighteen miles by the river from Khartoum. Fashoda is the first place where we shall stop, except to take in wood for our engines, unless we meet with an accident that is not down in our programme."

Frank and Fred watched the example of the soldiers of Baker's expedition and kept their eyes on the minaret of Khartoum till it faded and was blended with the horizon. Then they turned to look at the country around them.

Their prow was pointed to the south, save where the windings of the river caused a temporary change of their course. The shores on either side were low, and generally flat, with here and there clumps of trees and little patches of grass. They were still in the region of the desert, but it was not altogether barren, like the great Atmoor of Korosko. Flocks of ducks and geese flew in the air or settled in the nooks along the shore; and now and then the ibis, the sacred bird of the Egyptians, showed his tall form on the sand-banks. Occasionally a crocodile lay basking in the sun, or the snort of a startled hippopotamus would be heard close to the boat.

In the night the clear sky was studded with stars, and the youths lingered long on deck, studying the various constellations. The north star was nearly sunk to the horizon behind them, while in front the Southern Cross sparkled in all its glory, and recalled memories of their voyage from Singapore into the Java Sea. Once more they were approaching the equator, but with far greater difficulties before them.

The steamboat held her course during the night, and in the morning our friends opened their eyes on a change of scene.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE SCENE.]

The monotonous plain had been left behind, and they were in a region of hills. More than this, the region was no longer a desert. The hills were studded with trees, and on the banks of the river there was a succession of forests and cultivated fields, quite unlike the picture presented below Khartoum. Droves of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats were numerous, and the conical huts of the natives had no resemblance to the flat-roofed dwellings of Lower Egypt.

Occasionally a train of camels was visible, wending its stately way along, and making a sharp contrast to the droves of diminutive donkeys peculiar to this part of the Nile. Where the boat went close to the banks the boys several times discovered monkeys playing among the branches of the trees, and Frank would have made no objection if they had halted long enough to capture one of the amusing beasts. A mountain-range appeared in the distance; the vegetation steadily increased in luxuriance; and the boys became fully aware that they were nearing THE HEART OF AFRICA.

[Illustration: THE HEART OF AFRICA.]

CHAPTER VI.

AMONG THE SHILLOOK NEGROES.--ARRIVAL AT FASHODA.--EXPLORERS OF THE NILE.

On the second day from Khartoum, Doctor Bronson told the boys they were in the country of the Shillooks. The natural inquiry that followed this announcement was,

"Who are the Shillooks?"

"They are a large tribe of negroes, living along the White Nile," replied the Doctor, "and are thought to number nearly, if not quite, three millions. For more than two hundred miles their villages are scattered along the river, forming an almost continuous line. They live partly by hunting and fishing, and formerly they made quite a revenue by selling slaves to the dealers who came from Khartoum and other parts of Egypt.

"They made war upon neighboring tribes farther back from the river, and sold their prisoners into slavery; and sometimes they sold their own people. It was not unusual for a Shillook to sell his own children when a good price was offered, especially if his family was large and his affairs were not prosperous."

Frank asked if they could land among the Shillooks and see how they lived. Doctor Bronson said it was not altogether safe to go among them, as they have been badly treated by the Turks and Egyptians, and are not specially friendly.

As the Doctor was speaking the steamer rounded the point of an island, and the dragoman called their attention to a number of conical huts of grass among the low trees near the shore. "That is a Shillook village," said Abdul, "and several of the inhabitants are standing by the edge of the river."

The boys ran below for their glasses, and were back again in a few moments. They made out the negroes to be tall, well-formed men, most of them fully six feet in height, and entirely without clothing, with the exception of two, who had strips of cloth around their waists. Abdul said the full dress of the Shillooks was a waist-cloth and a string of beads, but they were not always particular about arraying themselves.

[Illustration: A BIRD OF THE WHITE NILE.]

Back of the village was a field of cotton and another of beans, and there was every indication that the Shillooks had a fertile soil to cultivate. Abdul said their products were the same as near Khartoum, but they had very few fruit-trees, and their gardens were not carefully tilled.

The steamer stopped near one of the villages to take wood, and after a consultation with the captain Abdul said the boys could go on shore, but must not wander from the immediate vicinity of the boat. The Shillooks are apt to be treacherous, and sometimes a lance or an arrow is sent from the bushes when there is nothing to indicate the presence of danger. When kindly treated their confidence is easily secured, but they have been subject to so much ill-usage at the hands of the slave-dealers that it is no wonder they are suspicious.

They are said to be honest in their dealings, though excellent hands at a bargain, and as ready to tell a deliberate falsehood as the most accomplished shopkeeper in London or New York. They have no manufactures, and the articles most in demand among them are cheap cotton cloths and pieces of iron, from which they make the heads of their spears. As the steamboat neared the landing several natives paddled out to meet it, and the boys were much interested in the rafts, which the Shillooks manage with a great deal of skill.

"Those rafts are made from the ambatch plant," said Abdul. "It is a reed like the bamboo, with hollow spaces between the joints, and is very light and strong. The ambatch narrows toward the top, and to make a raft of the plants all that is necessary is to fasten a couple of dozen of them together at the ends and turn the smaller extremity upward.

[Illustration: AN AMBATCH CANOE.]

"The ambatch raft or canoe," he continued, "is in use all along the White Nile, and it would be difficult to find a more serviceable craft. It cannot be sunk, and if a man balances himself properly there is little danger of an upset."

"They are useful in war as well as in peace," remarked Doctor Bronson, who was listening to the conversation. "Dr. Schweinfurth, in the account of his travels in Africa, tells how he was pursued by a whole fleet of Shillook canoes, and had a very narrow escape. He said not less than three thousand canoes were in motion along the river and pursuing the boat on which he was travelling.

[Illustration: AN ADVENTURE ON THE NILE.]

"The wind left them while the canoes were approaching, and for a while his position was very critical. Only the previous year five boats, coming down the river on their way to Khartoum, had stopped at the village they were passing and endeavored to buy some provisions. The natives brought fowls, honey, and other things to sell, and while the negotiations were going on a large fleet of canoes suddenly came around the point of land and attacked the strangers.

"The captain of one boat and a sailor from another managed to escape by jumping into the river and swimming to a place of concealment among the reeds. The rest of the party, some eighty in all, were killed, and the vessels were plundered and burned.

"Of course this incident was fresh in the mind of Dr. Schweinfurth, and you can imagine his despair when the wind ceased while the canoes were approaching. But 'all's well that ends well:' the wind suddenly blew again, their sail was unfurled, and they were carried out of danger in a little while. The disappointed Shillooks returned to the shore, and nothing more was seen of them.

"Bayard Taylor visited the Shillooks in his journey here in 1852," the Doctor continued. "He came from Khartoum, with a single boat, manned by half a dozen sailors, and accompanied only by his dragoman. The only arms he carried was an old pistol, and he was represented by the captain of the boat to be a son of the Sultan of Turkey, who had come on a peaceful visit to the chief of the Shillooks."

Frank asked if he was kindly received by them.

"They were very surly at first," said Doctor Bronson, "and came down to the river-bank armed with spears and clubs. After some parley their chief stepped forward and asked if he wanted to fight. Mr. Taylor declared he was anxious for peace, and for that reason had come on shore without arms. The chief was not assured of his good intentions for some time, and there was an angry controversy among the men, which threatened for a while to result in open hostility; but nothing of the kind was attempted. Mr. Taylor stayed a couple of hours on shore, and just as the Shillooks began to show a familiarity bordering on insolence he suddenly returned to his boat and steered down the river the way he had come."

"Then this was the southern limit of his journey, was it not?" Fred asked.

"Yes; he came to the island of Aba, which lies about latitude 12° north, or two hundred and fifty miles from Khartoum. He was very anxious to push on to the south, but his contract with the owner of the boat was only for a journey to this island. At that time the highest point on the Nile to which any Europeans had ascended was about latitude 4° north, or four hundred and eighty miles beyond the island of Aba. Nothing was known about the sources of the Nile, and the general impression among geographers was that the river rose at the base of Mount Kilimandjaro, in the third degree of south latitude. Some geographers had thought it possible that the Nile flowed from Lake N'yassi, but the idea was generally rejected. 'Since Columbus first looked upon San Salvador,' wrote Mr. Taylor in his journal, 'the earth has but one emotion of triumph left in her bestowal, and that she reserves for him who shall first drink from the fountains of the White Nile, under the snow-fields of Kilimandjaro.'"

"What great progress has been made since Mr. Taylor's time in the exploration of Africa!" Frank exclaimed, as the Doctor finished his last remark.

"Yes," was the reply, "the progress in the last half of the nineteenth century has been greater than in the preceding twenty centuries. From the days of Herodotus--two thousand years ago--till within the present generation exploration of the valley of the Nile had accomplished very little. Syene, at the first Cataract of the Nile, was a city in the days of the ancient dynasties of Egypt; three thousand years ago the kingdoms of Ethiopia flourished, and their rulers had a prominent place in history. Time and time again men sought in vain to solve the mystery of the source of the Nile, and it was reserved for men of our day to make the great discovery."

One of the boys asked to whom the honor belonged of ascertaining the source of the Nile.

"That question is a conundrum," replied the Doctor, with a smile, "and a conundrum that needs an explanation before answering. The honor belongs to several explorers, and not to one alone. Each has made discoveries peculiarly his own, and these discoveries have supplemented the work of the rest.

"As I have before told you, it was long supposed that the Blue Nile was the parent stream, and its sources were ascertained by James Bruce. The error of this belief was set forth after the death of Bruce, as the White Nile was found to be of greater volume than the Blue, and was explored to a point more distant from the junction of the two streams than were the springs of the Blue Nile. Mohammed Ali sent three expeditions to find the sources of the White Nile, but they failed in their efforts. Private expeditions were sent every few years, but with the same results. The heat, the fevers, the hostility of the natives, the difficulty of penetrating marshes and tropical forests, all conspired to frustrate their efforts. The first expedition of Mohammed Ali reached latitude 6° 30' north; the second went to 4° 42' north; and the third stopped at about 5° north. Dr. Knoblecher, in 1849, went to 4° 10' north, which was farther than any one else had gone. Miani, an Italian traveller, went to a point about 3° 32' north, and about the same time Dr. Schweinfurth explored the Bahr-el-Gazal, one of the tributaries of the White Nile, in the expectation that it might turn out to be the main stream. Miss Tinné, a Dutch lady, also explored that river, and spent more than a year in its valley."

"What!" exclaimed one of the youths, "a lady going on an expedition in Africa! She must have been fond of adventure. Who was she?"

"Miss Tinné was born in 1835, and was the daughter of a baroness, who had a large fortune. She was fond of travel, and in 1861 went to Cairo with her mother. She was so enamored of the East that she determined to remain there, and announced to her friends that she should not return to Europe to live. In 1862 she started from Khartoum with a steamboat, several sailing-boats, a large party of attendants, and so many beasts of burden of various kinds that the natives everywhere believed she was the daughter of the Sultan of Turkey. The only Europeans of her party were Dr. Steudner and Baron Von Henglin, and also her mother. The latter died of fever, and so did Dr. Steudner, before the return to Khartoum, which occupied some fourteen months after the departure of the expedition.

"Miss Tinné on this journey explored the Bahr-el-Gazal, and made a great many notes and observations, which have been very useful to those who followed her. She had previously visited the White Nile as far as Gondokoro, and altogether she passed nearly three years in the work of exploration. In 1869 she organized an expedition at Tripoli, intending to pass through Moorzook and Bornoo, and reach the Nile by way of Kordofan, a route which up to that time had never been followed by a European. She had fifty attendants and seventy camels on this expedition, and her only European companions were two Dutch sailors. From Moorzook she went on a side-journey to the country of the Touaregs, and was treacherously murdered by her escort. The sailors who accompanied her were also murdered, and her native attendants were sold into slavery.

"Let us return to the exploration of the White Nile," said Doctor Bronson. "While these discoverers were at work from the north others were approaching the Nile from the south, and it was from that direction the great secret was revealed. In 1856 Captains Speke and Burton, of the British army, started from Zanzibar for a journey into Africa, and on the 30th of July, 1858, Captain Speke discovered the Victoria N'yanza.

"N'yanza is a native word, meaning lake, and, reduced to English, the body of water discovered by Speke may be called the Victoria Lake of Africa. Captain Speke was alone at the time of the discovery, his companion Burton being engaged in an exploration farther to the south. Speke was of the opinion that the lake he had found was the source of the Nile, but was unable to find its outlet, and so demonstrate the correctness of his theory.

[Illustration: SPEKE AND GRANT IN CENTRAL AFRICA.]

"In 1862 he revisited the lake, accompanied by Captain J. W. Grant, and this time he explored its northern part and found its outlet. A large river flowed northward from the lake, and at its head was a cataract, to which the explorer gave the name of Ripon Falls. The stream is now known on the maps as the Victoria Nile, or Somerset River, and may be considered the beginning of the great river of Egypt."

"Then the Nile has its beginning at the outlet of the Victoria N'yanza?" said one of the boys.

"Not exactly," was the reply. "The Somerset River, or Victoria Nile, flows northward into another lake, the Albert N'yanza, discovered in 1864 by Sir Samuel W. Baker. The Albert N'yanza is smaller than the Victoria N'yanza, and its outlet is the White Nile, on which we are now travelling.

[Illustration: GROUP OF GANI MEN.]

"You know what the showman said when the little girl asked which were the monkeys and which the hyenas?"

"Yes," said Frank: "'Whichever you please, my dear. You pays your money, and you takes your choice.'"

"It is somewhat that way with the origin of the Nile," answered the Doctor. "If the Victoria N'yanza is the source of the great river, you can give the credit of its discovery to Captain Speke; and if the outlet of the lake is technically the head of the river, the honor is divided between Speke and Grant. If the Albert N'yanza, and not the Victoria, is the source of the Nile--since the Bahr-el-Abiad, or White Nile, issues from it--then you must set Speke and Grant aside and award the palm of merit to Sir Samuel Baker."

"But how about the rivers that flow into the Victoria N'yanza?" said Fred. "There must be several affluents of the lake, and the largest and longest of them might be called the true source of the Nile."

"That is a matter which is not yet fully determined," was the reply. "Stanley circumnavigated the Victoria N'yanza in 1875, and found several streams flowing into it; but, as they have not all been traced to their sources, we cannot say with exactness which is the longest. Until this point is settled there will be a question in the minds of some very exact people as to the source of the Nile, but for all practical purposes the matter is determined already. To my way of thinking the Victoria N'yanza is the source of the Nile; and it is hardly worth our while to consider the streams that feed it, unless one of them should be found to be larger than all the others, as in the case of the Somerset River, flowing into the Albert N'yanza.

[Illustration: KARUMA FALLS, ON THE VICTORIA NILE (SOMERSET RIVER).]

"There is another lake, called Tanganyika, which lies south of the Victoria N'yanza, and was discovered by Burton and Speke in February, 1858. It was supposed that this lake discharged into the Victoria N'yanza, and this supposition was sustained by Dr. Livingstone against the opinions of other geographers. It is known that the level of Tanganyika is lower than the Victoria and Albert lakes, and therefore it cannot be the source of the Nile."

The conversation came to an end as the plank was put to the shore, and the party stepped from the boat in the country of the Shillooks.

The natives straggled slowly to the landing-place, but were evidently averse to an intimate acquaintance with the strangers. The majority were in the same airy costume that the boys had observed through their glasses, but some of them had added a veneering made of a paste of ashes mixed with water. This did not enhance their beauty; but as it was a fashion among them, and they evidently considered it correct, the strangers had no business to object. A few had rubbed their faces and necks with red ashes, which gave a ferocious tinge to their countenances, and was evidently regarded as an indication of bravery.

Nearly every one wore an armlet of metal or untanned leather above the elbow, and the most of the crowd were armed with spears. Some had strings of beads around their necks, and one, who seemed to have authority, was decorated with beads larger than those of his companions.

The boys endeavored to make a trade for some of the arm-rings and spear-heads, but did not meet with much success. The natives refused to part with their spears, and the Doctor said that, like most savages, they probably had a superstition about selling their weapons, believing that by so doing they would bring misfortune upon themselves and their tribes. After some bickering, however, Frank secured an arm-ring of metal, while Fred bought one made of elephant-hide. The price in each case was a string of small beads, but the offers were refused half a dozen times before they were accepted. Trade is a slow business among people to whom time has no value.

The whistle of the steamer brought the negotiations to an end, and in a few minutes the boat was under way again. Nothing of moment occurred from this point to Fashoda, the first military post above Khartoum, and the station of a _mudir_, or provincial governor. It is situated on a bluff sloping gently from the river. The Egyptian portion is surrounded by a mud-wall, and contains comfortable barracks for the officers and soldiers. There is a Shillook village just outside, the conical huts forming a marked contrast to the flat roofs of the substantial buildings erected by the government.

[Illustration: VIEW OF FASHODA.]

CHAPTER VII.

AN ANTELOPE HUNT.--GUINEA-WORMS, WHITE ANTS, AND GREAT SNAKES.

The steamer remained a day at Fashoda, and then proceeded on her voyage, her next halting-place being at the mouth of the Sobat, which is an affluent of the White Nile, and has its source in the mountains near the Indian Ocean. Its water is considered superior to that of the Nile for drinking purposes, and a supply was taken on board for the use of the passengers and crew.

[Illustration: SCENE ON THE WHITE NILE ABOVE THE SOBAT.]

They now entered a succession of marshes and low ground, where the river frequently divided into several channels, and was often partially blocked with great masses of weeds and other tropical vegetation. A short distance above the Sobat, Frank and Fred had their first view of a wild elephant, or rather of a troop of half a dozen or more. They were not at all disturbed by the proximity of the steamer. One was lying comfortably on the ground, and the rest stood watching the boat while it passed up the stream a few hundred yards from them. On the opposite bank of the river was a Shillook village, and beyond it the dry grass was burning furiously and sending up a vast column of smoke. The boys were much excited over their view of the elephants, and greatly wished they could land and take a shot at the beasts. Doctor Bronson told them they would have an opportunity to hunt elephants before many days, and with this assurance they were contented.

Elephants roam the country on both banks of this part of the Nile, but they are less numerous than farther up the valley. They are hunted for their ivory by the natives, and occasionally the white man gets a chance at them. Every year they increase in scarcity and in shyness, so that the stranger's chance of sport among this huge game is not very good. Occasionally they visit the fields of the natives during the night, and do a great deal of damage by trampling down the crops and eating the growing plants. The negroes take advantage of their depredations to make pitfalls for them, and in this way a large elephant sometimes finds himself a prey to the hunter.

As they ascended the Nile above the mouth of the Sobat, Abdul pointed out the spot where the "sudd" formerly obstructed the river, and caused great inconvenience.

The sudd had been mentioned before, but only briefly, and one of the youths asked Abdul to describe it to them.

"From here to Gondokoro," said Abdul, "a distance of nearly eight hundred miles, you will find the White Nile running through a series of marshes and lowlands; in many places it spreads out over a wide area, and forms a large number of channels among islands of greater or less extent. You have already observed that the grass and reeds come drifting with the current, and occasionally masses of them form to such an extent that they take the shape of floating islands.

"This floating stuff sometimes becomes caught and imprisoned at low water, and it remains there, growing day by day, till the annual flood brings down so large a current that it is swept away. One year the flood was not sufficient to remove it, and it remained from one season till the next.

"Then it increased till it fairly drove the river from its bed, or rather caused it to spread out and form new channels. It became a bog, through which the water percolated or ran in unknown channels, and furnishing a foundation for masses of vegetation, that sprung up and flourished under the effect of tropical heat and moisture.

"This state of affairs continued for six or eight years, and the White Nile apparently ceased to exist, by reason of the great dam of reeds and other plants that choked the channel and made navigation impossible. This dam was the sudd of which we have been speaking.

[Illustration: HAULING A STEAMBOAT THROUGH A CANAL CUT IN THE SUDD.]

"It remained here when Baker Pacha ascended the Nile on his expedition for the suppression of the slave-trade. His advance was retarded for many months by the sudd; he was obliged to cut channels through it, and then haul his boats along from one strip of open water to another. Many of his men died from exposure and hard work in passing the sudd, and there were fears at one time that it would cause a total abandonment of the expedition.

"The sudd was full of insects, that caused great suffering to all concerned, and the air at all times was thick with mosquitoes. One of the most dreaded pests was the 'guinea-worm,' that embeds itself in the feet or ankles, and produces a disagreeable and often dangerous sore. This worm is peculiar to the tropics, and is justly feared by all persons liable to its attacks. It makes a slight puncture in the skin--generally in or near the foot--and lays its eggs there. They are hatched in from two months to a year, and the puncture is so minute that its presence is not known until the eggs are developed."

One of the boys asked if the worm ever caused the death of the person attacked.

"Generally he escapes with a dreadful sore, that may be months in healing," said Doctor Bronson, who was standing near; "and not unfrequently he loses the foot or leg where the sore is developed. If the worm can be removed without breaking, and before it has created more than a small sore like a pimple, no serious harm results; but the operation is difficult, and requires great care on the part of both doctor and patient."

"How is it performed?" Frank asked.

"When the vesicle breaks," the Doctor answered, "the end of the worm shows itself and hangs outside. It is gently pulled and coiled round a piece of linen or a small stick, like a section of a toothpick, and then fastened over the wound with sticking-plaster and a compress. Twice a day the performance is repeated, and as much as possible of the worm is coiled away. It takes all the way from a fortnight to three or four months to remove a worm in this way. The worms vary from six inches to three yards in length, and their circumference is about that of small wrapping-twine. If a worm is broken in the process of extraction it is liable to cause inflammation, fever, deformities, loss of the limbs, mortification, and death. So you see it is not to be trifled with."

"What a terrible scourge!" said one of the boys. "I shall take good care not to go into the water in the region where this worm abounds."

"It has been known and mentioned in ancient as well as in modern writings," the Doctor continued; "and some authorities argue that the 'fiery serpents' which attacked the Israelites in the wilderness were in reality guinea-worms."

"How could that be?" Fred exclaimed. "They could not be anything like serpents; and, besides, the pictures we have of the events of the Exodus show that the Israelites were bitten by something larger than the little threads you have described."

"That is quite true," was the reply; "but bear in mind that the pictures in our books were not made at the time, but many centuries afterward. The words in the original Hebrew--which are translated in our version as 'fiery serpents'--refer unmistakably to something which caused an inflammatory wound, and do not describe the serpent any farther than this. By the Greeks the _Filaria_, or guinea-worm, was reckoned among the serpents, on account of its form as well as the results of its bite; and those who have studied the subject say that the theory is supported by the natural conditions of the country through which the Israelites passed, while the mortality among them can be accounted for by their ignorance of the proper treatment. From a scientific point of view, if not from a popular one, the subject is an interesting study."

[Illustration: NESTS OF WHITE ANTS.]

Doctor Bronson paused, as his attention was drawn to some conical mounds on the shore near which they were passing.

"They are ant-hills," said the Doctor, after a brief survey. "They are made by the white ants, which are found in various parts of Africa, and display considerable skill in the construction of their homes."

The steamer halted for wood at a point close to several of the mounds, and thus gave the youths an opportunity to examine them. They found the ant-hills varying in height from six to ten feet, and composed of a yellowish earth, nearly as hard as brick, and quite capable of resisting the action of the rain.

Abdul said the ants used the yellow earth below the black soil on the surface. Their first move was to swallow it, and thus mix it with an albuminous matter from their bodies, so as to give it the character of cement. Then the substance was formed into the mound which rose above the level of the highest floods. When the river is low the black soil is uncovered, and the ants roam in the vicinity of the mounds; but at the time of the inundation the entire country is under water, with the exception of the mounds, which stand out like small islands.

[Illustration: A HERD OF ANTELOPE.]

From this point the ant-hills were numerous, and at the next halting-place a group of antelopes was seen, with one of its number stationed on a mound as a sentry. Finding the boat would be there a sufficient time to permit the experiment, Doctor Bronson determined to capture the sentinel, as an addition to the table of the steamer. Armed with his rifle, he started on foot, carefully keeping several ant-hills in range of the one where the sentry was standing, and never allowing himself more than a glimpse of the creature's horns.

The sentinel did his duty thoroughly, and gave the Doctor no little trouble to approach without being discovered. Creeping slowly from hill to hill, he at last reached one about two hundred yards from that where the sentinel stood. The animal was motionless, with the exception of his head, which he turned from side to side occasionally, so as to take in the entire horizon. His side was toward his enemy, so that he offered an excellent mark. The rest of the herd was grazing near; but as the sentinel was larger and a better prize than any of his companions, the Doctor made no change of intention, and took aim at the one he had first marked as his own.

The shot had its effect. As the smoke cleared away the antelope sunk to its knees for an instant, and then rolled to the ground, where it lay, quite dead. The balance of the herd fled, and the hunter, after reloading his rifle, ran forward to survey the effect of his shot.

Mounting to the summit of the ant-hill, he waved his handkerchief three times, which had been agreed upon to announce a successful shot. As soon as the signal was seen four men were sent from the boat to carry away the game. The boys walked out to meet the Doctor and congratulate him on his morning's work, and also to see the dead antelope. Frank pronounced him "a beauty," and Fred said he was the finest animal of the kind he had ever seen.

"His scientific name is _Damalis Senegalensis_," said Doctor Bronson, "and he belongs to the family _Antilopeæ_, of which there are many varieties. Africa has more of them than the rest of the world together, and they surpass all others in beauty and numbers. There are no antelopes in Madagascar or Australia. There are a few varieties in Asia, and only one each in Western Europe and America. Look at the one I have just killed; it will weigh at least four hundred pounds when dressed, and if you measure him at the shoulder, as you would a horse, you will find he is nearly five feet high. I doubt if any one ever saw so large an antelope as this in America."

Frank made note of the fact that the prize which had fallen to the Doctor's rifle had a skin which glistened like that of a carefully-kept horse, and was in excellent condition. The face and ears were black, and there was a strip of black along the shoulder and down the back and legs. The tail was longer than that of the American antelope, and had a tuft of hair at the end.

After looking at the antelope, and seeing him dressed and quartered, the boys tried to break into one of the ant-hills, in order to examine the interior. They found it nearly as hard as stone, and as they had brought no pickaxes or other digging tools from the steamer they soon abandoned the effort. Abdul said they would find the inside full of passages, leading to a chamber in the centre, where the ants made their home during the season of floods. The ants are divided into workers, soldiers, and idlers, and thus Frank thought they evinced an affinity with the human race. Doctor Bronson told him the workers were much more numerous than the soldiers; the latter were five or six times as large as the workers, and had powerful jaws, with which they could bite severely.

Fred asked if these ants were "slave-makers." He had read of slave-making ants, and thought, naturally enough, that in the land of the human slave-hunter and slave-owner the ants might follow the example of their betters.

"These are not the slave-makers," was the reply, "or at any rate it has not been clearly demonstrated that they indulge in the practice of maintaining involuntary servants. The one known as a slave-maker is a red ant, somewhat smaller than the one before us. His habits have been studied, so that there is no doubt of his slave-holding propensities.

[Illustration: A SLAVE-MAKING ANT, MAGNIFIED.]

"These red ants go out in large numbers and make war upon a species of black ant that lives in the same region with themselves. When they have conquered the settlement they invade the nest of their victims and carry away the eggs or cocoons containing the undeveloped young; these they transport to their own nest, and they also take along a sufficient number of the black ants to take care of the young as they are hatched. It is exactly the same as if a party of slave-hunters should invade a negro village and carry off all the infants they could find, together with enough of the negro women to feed and care for the young prisoners. The captive ants hatched in the nest become slaves as soon as they are large enough to work, and whether the old ones are retained when the children no longer require their attention has not been ascertained."

"What a curious piece of information!" exclaimed one of the boys. "It sounds like a fiction, but I suppose the naturalists have removed all doubts concerning it."

"Yes," answered Doctor Bronson; "you can read of it in any work on natural history where the habits of ants are set forth."

By the time they reached the boat she was ready to move on, and in a little while the scene of the antelope hunt was left behind.

In this part of the Nile few sailing or other boats were seen. Occasionally the natives were on the water with their canoes or their rafts of reeds, such as we have already seen, but they almost invariably propelled these diminutive craft by means of oars. Once in a while the boat of a trader from Khartoum was passed, and in one place a dozen or more of these craft were assembled in front of a native village. Abdul said they were probably waiting the arrival of a convoy of ivory from the interior, and it might be they were taking in a few slaves, in addition to the other products of the country.

But though there was a scarcity of boats and other signs of commerce there was no lack of animal life. Frank was looking out from the deck of the steamer as it turned a bend in the river; suddenly he saw a large animal not twenty yards away, standing where it had apparently been drinking, at the edge of the river. As it caught sight of the boat it sprung up the bank and disappeared in the thicket, giving vent to an angry roar as it moved away.

"That was a lion," said Abdul, who happened to be looking in the same direction, "and you will see more of his race as we proceed. Lions are quite numerous in this part of the country, and in fact all over Africa, and if you want to hunt them you can easily do so. And there are leopards and other carnivorous animals here," he continued, "and several varieties of serpents."

Fred asked if they were in the region of the huge pythons, that were said to be large enough to swallow a man.

"We are not quite far enough for that," was the reply, "but you might see some very good ones here if you went to the snaky localities. Serpents ten or fifteen feet long exist here, but you must go nearer the equator to find them of twenty feet.

"The natives say that a man should always cross his legs like a figure four when he goes to sleep at night, otherwise he is liable to be swallowed by a python. He is said to do his work so quietly that he does not wake his victim, and can only be foiled in his attempt when the man crosses his legs as I have described, and prevents both feet being taken in at once."

"If you want a good story of an adventure with a snake," said Frank, "let me tell you of Colonel Long's experience as he narrates it."

Fred agreed to be a good listener, and so Frank settled into his chair and began the thrilling tale:

[Illustration: COLONEL LONG'S GREAT SNAKE.]

"Colonel Long says he was one day seated in his camp at Foueira, near the borders of the Albert N'yanzi, when he saw several men approaching with what he at first supposed was the trunk of a tree. It proved to be a large boa-constrictor, or python, which had just been killed close to the hut where he slept at night. It measured thirty feet in length, and in diameter was the size of a child. One of his men had said that a huge snake came every night to suck the cows in the camp; but the colonel had taken the narrative as an apocryphal 'snake-story' and given it no attention. The night before, his men were seated around the fire in the hut next his own, and suddenly fled in terror at the sight of an enormous head looking at them from an opening in the wall of the hut, and at the same time countless small serpents were gliding at their feet.

"The cause was now apparent, the colonel says: the boa had laid its eggs on the outer wall of the hut, where they were hatched by the heat of the atmosphere, and the mother had come there to meet them at the time of their hatching. A strict and somewhat nervous watch was kept through the night, but without any result. The next morning the snake was intercepted while looking for its young, and despatched with several charges of shot in its head and body. Colonel Long says that after that incident he went to bed every night with the thought of the possibility of being strangled in his sleep by one of these horrible visitors. Luckily for him, and for us, there was no intimate friend of her snakeship to pay him a call and seek revenge for her death."

Fred asked if the bite of the python was poisonous. Doctor Bronson explained that the python belonged to the family of constrictors, like the black snake of New England, and its bite was harmless. "It seizes its prey with its mouth," said the Doctor, "but only for the purpose of holding it. At the same instant it throws its folds about its victim and crushes it with the immense power of its constricting muscles. Next it proceeds to cover it with saliva, and then begins the process of swallowing, which may occupy several hours.

"The swallowing is done by the contraction of the muscles of the head and neck, aided by the teeth, which hook backward, so that when anything has once entered it cannot be withdrawn. If a serpent of this species begins to swallow anything that cannot be carried down it will choke to death, and skeletons of pythons have been found with the skeletons of deer, goats, buffalo, or other horned animals, in their jaws. The horns had caused them to stick on the way, and as the snake could not let go for a fresh hold he perished by strangulation, as a punishment for his imprudence.

"Do not confound the python with the anaconda," said the Doctor, in an explanatory tone. "The python belongs to the Old World, and the anaconda to the New; the latter is found in Central and South America, in the region of the tropics, while the former inhabits Africa and Asia. The name 'boa' belongs to the entire family; but some of the naturalists say it does not properly include the anaconda, which is amphibious in its character, while the boa is not. However, that is a point so fine that it is hardly worth our discussion, and we are not likely to become so intimate with the snakes as to pass an opinion upon it."

[Illustration: PYTHON SEIZING ITS PREY.]

CHAPTER VIII.

THE DINKAS AND BARIS.--GONDOKORO.--ANNEXATION TO EGYPT.

The day after the incident of the lion Frank was looking over the country with his glasses, and discovered what he supposed to be a cluster of ant-hills of a new kind. Scanning them closely for some minutes, he finally determined that they were not ant-hills, but the huts of a village. Being somewhat uncertain on this point, he appealed to the Doctor.

"You are right," was the reply, "they are the huts of a native village."

[Illustration: SECTIONAL VIEW OF DINKA HUT.]

"But they are different in shape from the Shillook huts we have been seeing as we ascended the river."

"Yes, they are different in shape, and they belong to another tribe of negroes. We are now in the country of the Dinkas, of whom we have already spoken.

"The Dinkas are mainly on the east bank of the Nile, and their possessions extend quite a distance into the interior. The actual area of their country is unknown, as it has never been surveyed, and only a few travellers have explored it. The Dinkas are taller and finer in appearance than the Shillooks, and are a brave, hardy people. Their faces are more intelligent than those of the Shillooks, and altogether they are superior to their neighbors. Like the Shillooks, they are fond of veneering their skins with ashes, which gives them a brownish hue, and the favorite bed of the Dinka is a pile of ashes, with a stick of wood at one end, on which his neck can rest. When the ashes are washed away their skins are of inky blackness, and the Dinka may be fairly set down as one of the darkest of his dark race."

Fred wished to know how they lived.

"As to that," replied Doctor Bronson, "their ways of life are not much unlike those of the Shillooks, except that they are more peaceful. They have large herds of cattle, and are eminently a pastoral people. They cultivate the soil to quite an extent, and they move their villages occasionally in search of pasturage for their herds.... There: observe the bank of the river with your glass and you will see one of their herds, which is evidently coming down to allow the cattle to drink."

[Illustration: HEAD OF A DINKA BULL.]

Frank looked to where a dark spot seemed moving over the plain. As soon as he had adjusted his glasses he descried the drove that the Doctor had pointed out.

There were hundreds of cattle in the herd, which moved at a dignified pace, under the control of two or three dozen men, who were clothed only in long lances, if a lance may be called an article of wearing apparel. Frank remarked the nakedness of the Dinkas, and the Doctor informed him that among this people the wearing of clothing is considered effeminate, and only the women are dressed with anything more than oil and ashes. The Dinkas call the Nubians "women," because they wear clothing, although it is not much, and a true Dinka would allow himself to be frozen to death rather than put on a garment to keep his body comfortable. "But they do not consider it effeminate," continued the Doctor, "to seek the shelter of their huts when the cold wind blows, and in this way they get along without much suffering."

Abdul had been among the Dinkas, and said their herds of cattle would astonish the boys if they could see them. "Why," said he, "I have seen many a herd of ten thousand animals, and one of two thousand is considered small. They have large yards, or corrals, where the beasts are driven at night, to prevent their straying, and also to protect them from the attacks of wild beasts. The cattle are much like those you saw in the neighborhood of Khartoum. They live entirely on the wild grass, and in dry seasons are apt to suffer from scanty pasturage.

[Illustration: A DINKA CATTLE-YARD.]

"A cattle-yard among the Dinkas, when the herds are driven in for the night, is an interesting and also a noisy spot. Each animal has his place, where he is tied to a strong peg driven into the ground; and the herdsmen have the same trouble as herdsmen everywhere else in managing the refractory portion of the drove. Once in a while a man is trampled under their feet or gored by their horns. The absence of clothing is in favor of these cattle-drivers, as they are able to get around with more agility than if they were encumbered with garments. The cows are milked only once a day, and their yield is surprisingly small.

[Illustration: A SHEEP WITHOUT WOOL.]

"In addition to their horned cattle the Dinkas have great numbers of sheep and goats. But, unlike the sheep of Northern climes, they do not have any wool."

"Why should they," said Fred, "when they live in a country where they don't need it? Nature adapts herself to the conditions of the climate."

"If that is the fact," retorted Frank, "Nature has not been true to herself in some cases that I could mention. For instance, she ought to have given the natives of London, where it rains so much, a cuticle like a rubber overcoat; and if she had skinned them with regular Goodyear or Macintosh garments, pockets and all, she would have done a good thing."

"Quite right," replied his cousin; "and while she was about it she might have given the New Yorker a double covering of mosquito-netting and buffalo robes, so that he could provide for his tropical summers and his arctic winters. When you talk about the rain of England you may offset it against the terrible variations of the thermometer in New York."

"But about the Dinka sheep," said Abdul. "They have a sort of shaggy mane on the neck and shoulders, but the hair on the rest of the body, including the tail, is quite short. This style of covering makes them look like small buffaloes, and when you see one you almost require to be told that you are looking at a sheep, and not at some other animal. Their color is white or a dirty brown, and sometimes they are spotted or 'brindled.' The goats are not unlike the goats of other countries, but they grow quite large, and are usually very thin in flesh.

"It is a curious circumstance that the Dinkas do not slaughter their cattle, but have no scruple about eating beef when the animal is killed by accident or is the property of somebody else. They reckon their possessions in cattle, just as we do in money, and a man who has no horned property is indeed poor. Neither do they kill their sheep, and the goat is the only domestic animal that they slaughter for food. In their currency one cow equals thirty goats. Goats take care of themselves, and require very little attention, but the cattle must be herded and watched. Wild beasts occasionally carry off their goats, but the loss is so slight that it is not heeded.

[Illustration: A DINKA VILLAGE NEAR THE WHITE NILE.]

"Their huts are made of thatched grass, and larger than those of the Shillooks. The people take considerable pains to keep their dwellings clean, and in this respect are rather better than the majority of the natives of Africa."

Frank thought their habit of sleeping in ashes was not an agreeable one. Abdul said the practice had at least one merit, as it drove away a good many insects that make sleeping disagreeable on many parts of African soil. "I have suffered less from fleas and other small game in the Dinkas' huts," said he, "than among the Shillooks or the other tribes that I have seen. They are a hospitable race, and their cooking is not to be despised. They live on the flesh of goats and on fish caught from the river, and they make several nice dishes of milk and farinaceous products. Their manners at table are as polite as in Europe, and their way of eating is more like yours than that of the Arabs."

"Do they have cups and saucers, plates, knives and forks, and other table things, as we do?" one of the youths asked.

"Not by any means," was the reply, "as they have few manufactures, and their dishes are principally gourds and shells. This is the way they eat at their meals:

"A large dish of cooked farina is placed on the ground, and the party sits down around it, each one having a gourd-shell full of milk or butter. When all is ready, the oldest person or the one highest in rank pours some of his milk on the farina; then with a spoon he eats as much as he likes, and passes the dish to the next. The first pours his milk only on the part he touches, and the second follows his example, and thus they take their turns till all are supplied. I think you will agree that this is a much neater way than that of the Arabs, who all sit around and thrust their fingers into the same dish, even though they are scrupulously careful to wash their hands before and after, and also several times during the meal."

"I remember reading in Dr. Schweinfurth's book," said Frank, "that he often entertained Dinka ladies of rank in his tent, and was surprised at the way they fell into European manners. He used to serve them with his foreign dishes, and they sat on his chairs; they handled his forks and spoons as though accustomed to them all their lives, and carefully washed everything when through with it and put it in its proper place."

With the study of the curious people through whose country they were passing, with frequent sights of crocodiles and river-horses, occasional shots at cranes and other birds, and a goodly amount of sleep whenever the mosquitoes would permit, the youths did not find the time hanging heavy on their hands. Finally, one afternoon they were told that Gondokoro was in sight, and their steamboat voyage was about to end.

The arrival at Gondokoro was a grateful relief from the marshes and lowlands through which our friends had travelled for nearly a thousand miles. As they approached this point they saw mountains in the distance, and found the little settlement on a bluff, or high bank, ten or twelve feet above the river. Frank hoped they had said farewell to the swarms of mosquitoes that had been pestering them for many days, but the Doctor brought him no grain of comfort in replying that the mosquito had the whole of Africa for his domain, and they could only be rid of his presence by leaving the country.

Frank asked for the history of Gondokoro, and received the following information, which he duly recorded in his note-book:

"Gondokoro is in the territory of the Bari negroes, and on the right bank of the White Nile; it is in latitude 4° 54' north and longitude 31° 46' east, and in a hot and unhealthy country. It was formerly a station of the ivory traders, and was occupied only two months in the year, during their annual visits to the Upper Nile valley. The tropical rains last about three-fourths of the year, and render the air very moist and the vegetation vigorous. The grass is so luxuriant that the buffaloes are concealed by it, and the reeds on the banks of the lagoons near the river grow to a height of twenty-five or thirty feet.

"It was formerly an important depot of the slave-traders, and when Baker Pacha came up the Nile to abolish their traffic he took possession of Gondokoro in the name of the Khedive, and annexed the country to Egypt."

"Yes," said Abdul, to whom Frank read the notes he had made, "the ceremony of annexation was very interesting.

"Baker had decided to change the name of the place to Ismailia, in honor of the Khedive, and the ceremony was fixed for the morning of May 26, 1871. A tall flag-staff had been erected for supporting the Egyptian colors on the highest point of land overlooking the river, and all the trees and bushes were cleared away, so that the ground was as smooth as a lawn.

"The troops, to the number of twelve hundred, marched from their quarters at six in the morning and formed a square near the flag-staff, one side consisting of a battery of ten guns, ready to fire a salute.

[Illustration: CEREMONY AT GONDOKORO ON ITS ANNEXATION TO EGYPT.]

"When all was ready the official proclamation announcing the annexation of the country to the Khedive's dominions was read at the foot of the staff, and as the last sentence was uttered, the flag was run to the top of the pole and immediately fluttered in the breeze. The officers waved their swords, the soldiers presented arms, and the battery fired a royal salute. The natives had been invited to witness the ceremony, and they came in large numbers. When the artillery was fired they were greatly astonished, as few of them had ever heard anything of the kind before, and their surprise was increased when the troops indulged in a sham battle, during which they fired about ten thousand rounds of blank cartridges. They were not at all friendly to the annexation, as they had been persuaded by the slave-traders that the movement was intended for their oppression, and they would all be carried into captivity."

Frank continued his notes on the history of the place:

[Illustration: AUSTRIAN MISSION-HOUSE AT GONDOKORO.]

"The Austrian government established a mission at Gondokoro in 1853, and built a church of bricks which were made of the clay found in the neighborhood. The mission was discontinued in 1858, and of twenty missionaries that went there to preach the Gospel to the natives thirteen died of fever, two of other diseases, and two others went away with their health so broken down that they died soon after reaching Khartoum. The natives tore down the mission church and pounded the bricks into dust, which they mixed with oil; they anointed their bodies with the paste, which they pronounced an excellent substitute for red paint. All missionary efforts were abandoned, to the great delight of the slave-traders, who had found them interfering with their business.

"From that time down to the arrival of Baker, in 1871, the town resumed its former condition and appearance, as a station of the ivory-merchants and slave-traders. There was no law in Gondokoro, and very little order, and if anybody chose to commit a crime there was hardly a probability that he would be punished for it. Everybody who went there for any purpose other than trading was regarded as a nuisance, and the merchants were not slow to excite the natives against him.

[Illustration: VIEW OF GONDOKORO, FROM THE RIVER.]

"Baker erected a line of earthworks for the defence of the place, and built warehouses for keeping his goods and military stores. After his departure some of the buildings erected by him were pulled down, and the material became scattered and lost. The military station was made on the bank of a small stream which enters the Nile at this point, but it is too shallow to admit steamers and sail-boats, which are consequently moored to the bank of the river."

[Illustration: COLONEL ABD-EL-KADER.]

Our friends were cordially received by the commandant of the post, Colonel Abd-el-Kader, who had served with Baker in the famous expedition, and was highly complimented by that gentleman for his zeal and efficiency. The colonel invited them to his quarters, and as soon as the greetings were over he assigned them a place where their tents could be erected. The youths were not at all sorry to exchange their quarters on the steamer for their canvas houses, whose qualities they had tested in the journey from Korosko to Berber. Frank declared he was rapidly becoming an Arab, and thought it not at all improbable that he would prefer a tent to a substantial dwelling-place for the rest of his life. Fred said he would wait a while before declaring himself, as he was a long way from renouncing the comforts of a home in New York or any other civilized city.

"Be careful about one thing," said the colonel as they left his quarters; "remember you are now in the country of the white ants, and they will eat anything except iron. They have even been known to gnaw holes in a stove-pipe, if some of my officers tell the truth, and it is currently reported that they have ruined our best grindstone. Everything not enclosed in tin or something stronger is subject to their teeth, and you must be constantly on the lookout for them."

The boys promised to be careful, and as they watched the landing of their stores they gave directions to Abdul, forgetting that he had been in the country before and knew all about it. The goods were properly stowed, those not enclosed in tin cases being hoisted on posts, to hold them clear from the ground, and the feet of the posts placed in pots of water. At night when the boys retired they were obliged to be careful of all their garments and hoist them out of reach. Of course it happened that the second night one of them forgot the necessary precaution, and left his boots on the floor of the tent. In the morning he found they had been riddled by the ants and were no longer water-proof, and their usefulness as coverings for the feet had passed away. He was more careful in future, and learned to appreciate the ants at their true value as destroyers.

Almost everything except metals yields to the teeth of these insects. Ordinary timber, carefully dried and painted, is attacked by them, and it was not unusual to find them devouring the gun-stocks of the soldiers or the wood-work of machinery and implements of daily use. One of the officers found his sword-belt had been eaten on a hook where he hung it during the night, and there was hardly a garment belonging to the men of the garrison that had not suffered in some way from the pests. Fred recalled some familiar words of 'Pinafore' relative to sisters, cousins, and aunts, and wondered if the author had the ants of the Soudan in mind when he penned the now antiquated lines.

The youths were interested in studying the natives of the country around Gondokoro, and the information they obtained was carefully recorded in their journals. We are permitted to make the following extracts, which will save us the trouble of referring to the explorers of Africa who have written about these savages:

"Gondokoro is in the country of the Baris, a race of negroes somewhat resembling the other tribes of the Nile, but differing from them in language and customs. They have large herds of cattle, like their neighbors the Dinkas, and, like them, they till the soil to some extent, though the raising of cattle is their chief occupation. Doctor Bronson says they raise a good deal of mischief as well as cattle, and have given no end of trouble to travellers and to the military expeditions that have been sent among them. The Austrian missionaries were unable to do anything with them, and their labors of several years among the Baris and the sacrifice of valuable lives did not make a single earnest convert to Christianity.

[Illustration: BARIS STEALING CATTLE FROM THE GARRISON AT GONDOKORO.]

"They occupy a territory about ninety miles long by seventy wide, its greatest extent being from north to south. They have no king or any other person whom they recognize as a ruler. The country is divided into districts, and each district has a chief, who does not acknowledge the authority of any other. The result is they have occasional wars among themselves, but these troubles do not last long. They are implacable enemies, and famous for their treachery, and they look upon every stranger as a spy or intriguer. They have suffered considerably from the raids of the slave-traders, who plundered their villages and carried the prisoners into captivity; but when Baker Pacha came among them, with the avowed object of suppressing the slave-trade, they were hostile to him, and remained so till after his departure. They stole his cattle, attacked his camp, killed his soldiers, and did everything in their power to drive him from the country and stop the work for which he went among them.

"The country of the Baris is a fine region for grazing, and admirably adapted to the support of their herds of cattle. It is diversified with park-like stretches of grass-lands, interspersed with extensive forests of the finest timber, and occasionally rises into mountain-ranges two or three thousand feet high. Rivers rise among these mountains and flow to the Nile, and they are sufficiently numerous to give the country a good supply of water, except in the season of drought.

"Most of the soil is fertile, and produces abundantly when tilled. The mountains contain iron ore of excellent quality, which the natives reduce and work into weapons and other things. They have very skilful blacksmiths, and some of the products of their skill would be no discredit to the best workmen of an English or American shop. We have seen spear-heads, knives, arrow-points, and similar things from their hands, and they were fashioned as perfectly as though turned in a lathe or stamped by a machine.

[Illustration: BARI ARROWS AND ELEPHANT-SPEAR.]

"Some of the arrow-points have barbs below the head, so that the weapon when driven into the flesh of an animal will have no chance of being drawn out, and there are several forms of these arrows. Then they have elephant-spears weighted with a ball of iron, so that a hunter may drop them from a tree upon the unsuspecting animal that passes beneath him. They have learned the process of hardening their iron, though they have not yet discovered how to convert it into steel. It is certainly good enough for all their uses, and the supply is inexhaustible."

* * * * *

"Since writing the above we have been to a Bari village about five miles from Gondokoro, and had the opportunity of inspecting their dwellings. The village consists of conical huts, which resemble those of the Dinkas in outward appearance; the inside is different, as it has an inner circle, with a low opening. We had to crawl on our knees to enter one of the huts, as the door was only two feet high. When we got through we stood up, but had to stoop again to get to the inner circle, which has an opening no higher than the door.

"Contrary to our expectation we found the inside of the huts perfectly clean, and we voted unanimously that the Bari women are good house-keepers, for they do all the work about the dwellings. The walls are of wattles, or reeds, and small withes woven together. The outside of the hut is thatched with grass, and the inside is plastered with cement made from the clay of the ant-hills mixed with ashes, and worked into a paste with water. Outside of the hut there is a little court-yard, with a fence around it, and paved with the same kind of cement that we saw on the walls. This yard is carefully swept every morning, and no dirt is allowed to gather there in the course of the day.

"Most of the huts had granaries near them, and we were told that some of the villages had large granaries in common. The granaries are made of wicker-work, plastered with cement, and standing on posts of stone or cement, so that they cannot be damaged by the white ants.

"Every village has a large _zeriba_, or cattle-yard, where their herds are driven at night for safety. The one we saw was made of posts of a very hard wood, much like ebony, and one of the very few woods that the white ants will not devour. The posts were six or eight inches in diameter, and sunk into the ground, so as to form a stockade about eight feet high. The spaces between the posts were interlaced with thorny bushes, and would form an admirable defence against an enemy armed with Bari weapons.

"Near the house of the sheik or chief we passed an open shed, near which a drum was suspended. Abdul said the drum belonged to the sheik, and no one is allowed to touch it except by his orders. It was shaped somewhat like an egg with a slice cut off from one end, and was evidently hollowed from a log of wood.

"Abdul explained that the Baris place great reliance on their drums, and have a system of signals for them, so that information can be readily conveyed. One kind of beat calls the fighting-men together for war, another summons them to a council, and another tells them to go in a certain direction to meet an enemy. The signal for war is sounded from one village to another, so that the whole country can be under arms in a very short time. It is not unlike a telegraph in its operations, and may be very well compared to the bugle and drum calls in a civilized army.

"Every morning the drum is beaten to give the signal for milking the cows, and when the work is done another signal sends the herds to pasture. A similar call is given for bringing them in at night, and it is said that the cattle know the different sounds of the drum just as well as their masters do.

"The dress of the Bari men is much like that of the Dinkas--a veneering of ashes, and a spear or lance. The women wear aprons of leather, but the men go quite naked, and consider clothing a mark of effeminacy. One reason of their disrespect for Europeans is the fact that the latter wear clothing, and they invariably speak of the Egyptian officers as 'Turkish ladies,' because they are clothed from head to foot."

[Illustration: AFRICAN DRUMS.]

CHAPTER IX.

AN ELEPHANT HUNT.--MARCHING SOUTHWARD FROM GONDOKORO.

There was enough to do and see at Gondokoro and in the neighborhood to occupy several days, but our friends were not the less mindful of the necessity for departure. Doctor Bronson consulted Colonel Abd-el-Kader on the subject, and was soon able to lay before the youths a satisfactory plan for their future movements.

"Above here," said the Doctor, "we cannot go with the steamer, on account of the rapids in the river, that render it impassable for any but the smallest boats. The Nile becomes narrower, and the hills close in upon it so that it does not at all resemble the Nile of Lower Egypt and Nubia. It has the characteristics of a river flowing among mountains, and in the places where the fall is insufficient to create a rapid or cataract the stream is anything but a sluggish one.

[Illustration: THE NILE BELOW AFUDDO.]

"The rapids occur at intervals for a distance of about a hundred and twenty miles above Gondokoro by land, and perhaps a hundred and fifty by the course of the stream. Then we come to a place known as Afuddo by the natives, and also by geographers, though the latter generally speak of it as 'Miani's Tree.'"

"Why does it have the latter name?" one of the youths asked.

"Because," was the reply, "it was the point reached by Miani, an Italian traveller, who explored this part of Central Africa, and was driven back by the natives through the intrigues of the slave-traders. He returned despondent to Khartoum, and subsequently undertook an exploration of the Bahr-el-Ghazal, where he died. It is a great misfortune that he perished before the history of his explorations had been given to the world, as he had visited regions hitherto unexplored by any traveller.

[Illustration: A NYAM-NYAM GIRL.]

"Miani penetrated the country of the Nyam-Nyam dwarfs, and brought away two specimens of that curious race. I happened to be in Cairo at the time of their arrival. They were sent there after Miani's death, and were subsequently forwarded by the Khedive, Ismail, to the King of Italy, the sovereign of the dead explorer. They were perfectly-formed and adult men, but little more than four feet in height. A Dinka negro who accompanied them said he had been in the country of the dwarfs, and very few of the inhabitants were taller than the ones we were examining.[4]

[4] In the spring of 1874, through the courtesy of Ismail, Khedive, the author had the opportunity of seeing the two dwarfs mentioned above.

"Above Afuddo, or Miani's Tree," said the Doctor, "the rapids come to an end, and the Nile is navigable to its exit from the Albert N'yanza. There is one place in the rapids where the river is narrowed to a hundred yards, and the water dashes along so furiously as to threaten destruction to any craft that ventures upon it. At certain stages of the river boats may pass with the current, but it is quite impossible to make headway against it.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE OF THE LAKE.]

"The point where the Nile becomes navigable again is in latitude 3° 32' north, near the mouth of the Asua River. It is less than a hundred miles from there to the lake, and the river flows through a beautiful and populous country.

"Suppose the Soudan railway was finished, and in operation from Wady Halfa to Khartoum, see how easily we could open navigation into the heart of Africa," said the Doctor, rising as he spoke, and pointing toward the south.

[Illustration: NYAM-NYAM WARRIORS.]

"From Khartoum to Gondokoro the Nile is navigable, as we have just demonstrated by making the journey on a steamboat. A railway of a hundred and twenty miles, from Gondokoro to Afuddo, would bring us to the point where the Nile is navigable to the Albert N'yanza, and another railway, of less than a hundred miles, would connect the Victoria N'yanza with the Albert N'panza. Thus the interior of Africa could be opened up to travel and commerce by steam by the construction of two hundred and odd miles of railway, in addition to the Soudan line.

"But we haven't the railway along with us at present," he remarked as he resumed his chair, "and must put up with the means at our command. They are primitive in their character, but others have managed with them, and so can we."

Frank asked how their baggage would be carried from Gondokoro, as they would not be able to follow the river, on account of the rapids.

"We must have it carried by men," the Doctor answered, "and here will begin our experience with African porters."

"They have camels and elephants in abundance in Africa," said Fred, "and it seems strange that they rely upon human muscle for transporting their burdens. When camels are so abundant lower down I wonder they don't have them here; besides, we are in the land where the elephant runs wild in the woods, and is never domesticated, as he is in Asia. Is there any reason why they shouldn't use him?"

"The African elephant is much fiercer than the Asiatic," was the reply, "but there is no good reason why he should not be tamed and used like his brother in Hindostan. African elephants were domesticated in ancient times, and even in the present century they have taken kindly to captivity. The famous 'Jumbo,' which has been the delight of children in England and America, is an African elephant, and he was captured when very young. You can readily know an African elephant from an Asiatic one by his ears; they are at least three times as large, and the lower point reaches to his leg. On a large elephant of the African variety the ear will be five feet long by four in width. In South Africa it is sometimes used as a sledge, and serves its purpose admirably."

[Illustration: ELEPHANT COMING TO DRINK.]

The conversation was interrupted by Abdul, who came to announce a herd of elephants coming down to the river, a little above the town. They had evidently been disturbed by the natives, and were endeavoring to find a place of safety.

Doctor Bronson seized his elephant rifle, which had only been unpacked the day before, and started without a moment's delay. Abdul followed with the ammunition-case, and the two boys accompanied the Doctor.

Outside the camp they were passed by Colonel Abd-el-Kader on horseback, on his way to take a shot at the huge game. The colonel dashed on ahead of them, and was at the bank of the river when they were little more than half the distance.

The soldiers came running from the camp, and the elephants took the alarm and tried to turn on their tracks; but they found themselves surrounded and their retreat cut off. Their only way of escape was by swimming the river to an island about a hundred and forty yards away. They were all fine old elephants, and each one a "tusker," so that they would be valuable prizes to their captors.

Following their leader, they dashed into the water before either of the hunters was within shooting distance. The colonel dismounted from his horse just as the last of the herd entered the river. The elephant swims so low that no vulnerable part of him is exposed, and therefore the hunters could only stand and wait till the frightened animals had reached the opposite bank.

[Illustration: ELEPHANTS HUNTED IN THE WATER.]

Fortune was against the elephants, as the bank was so steep that they could not climb it, but were obliged to break it away by digging with their tusks and feet. They are accustomed to this sort of thing, and in a little while had broken away great masses of the earth and formed a sloping ascent up which they could climb. The delay gave the colonel and Doctor Bronson a chance to get their weapons in readiness, and as the first of the elephants emerged from the river the colonel took a shot at him.

The bullet took effect in the animal's head, causing him to turn partly around and expose his side to the Doctor. The latter took instant advantage of the position and fired. The elephant fell into the water and floated down the stream.

The second elephant that climbed the bank was served in the same way, but it took five bullets to bring him down instead of two. The distance was too far for good work, and the third elephant escaped without serious injury, as he did not present a good mark. The colonel's rifle became unserviceable on account of the sticking of a cartridge; the Doctor found his shoulder considerably bruised by the recoil, and concluded that two elephants were quite enough for one morning's work. However, he tried another shot at the third elephant, and by this time the herd had broken the bank sufficiently to allow them to mount the land and make their best paces for the woods.

Frank asked the Doctor why he did not keep on firing till the last of the herd had gone.

"Well," replied that gentleman, "an elephant rifle is no toy to handle, and two or three shots in rapid succession are about as much as one desires. Sir Samuel Baker had a similar experience with a herd of elephants, and was quite satisfied with a couple of prizes. He says that his rifle was sure to kill an elephant when fired at short range, and half kill the man that held it. Once his rifle was thrown out of his hands a distance of several yards by the force of the recoil, and an Arab hunter who tried to use it had his collar-bone broken by the blow."

The attention of the party was now turned to securing the carcasses of the slaughtered elephants. They were floating down the stream with the current, and men were sent with ropes and boats to bring them to land. This was not a work of great difficulty, though it required much expenditure of muscle, as the bodies were large and unwieldy. The body of the elephant floats on the water, while that of the hippopotamus sinks as soon as it is killed; but it rises again in a few hours, when the gases within have distended the stomach.

Crowds of natives had flocked to the river and witnessed the slaughter, and they lent ready hands to the soldiers to secure the prizes. They are very fond of the flesh of the elephant, and the work of the morning gave them sure promise of an abundant feast.

"We will have an African dinner such as you have never tasted," the Doctor remarked as they returned from the hunt.

"What is that?" one of the youths asked.

"We will have an elephant's foot roasted, _à la Afrique_." was the reply. "As soon as the cook is ready you may see how it is prepared."

The tusks of the elephants were secured, and also the feet. Colonel Abd-el-Kader offered two of the tusks to Doctor Bronson as his share of the proceeds of the chase, but the latter politely declined them, and said he and the boys would be content with three of the smaller teeth, which they could keep as souvenirs. The soldiers took as much of the red flesh of the animals as they desired for their cooking-pots, and then left the rest for the natives. The colonel took one of the feet, the Doctor another, and the others were given to the officers of the garrison. The Doctor explained to the boys that the foot of the elephant is considered the finest part of the animal, and regarded as a great delicacy by all African epicures.

The boys went with Abdul to witness the preparations for cooking their dinner. Herewith we give the account which Frank made of the performance:

"A hole was dug about three feet deep; over this they kindled a fire of reeds and bushes, and kept it burning at a great rate for two hours or more. By this time the hole was full of hot ashes and embers, and the ground around it was heated to a high degree. Then the foot of the elephant was thrown into the hole and some of the ashes were raked over it; another fire was kindled above it, and was kept up for two or three hours longer.

"All through the afternoon there was a mass of hot embers and ashes around and over that elephant's foot, which did as good work as the best oven ever invented. Dinner was served about five o'clock, and came smoking hot to the table. The coals and ashes were raked away, and the new style of roast joint was found to be cooked to perfection. The skin was removed by chopping with a hatchet, and revealed something resembling the interior of a game-pie, but not so dark in color. The muscles of the foot had a gelatinous character, and the action of the heat had cooked them to a condition of tenderness which made them very toothsome.

"There is no civilized dish to which we can compare it, and therefore we must adopt Fred's suggestion, to let the elephant's foot stand alone. We had some doubts at first, but have none at present; our appetites are appeased, and when we next secure an elephant in our hunting excursions we shall dine on his feet."

Over the dinner-table the consideration of the route to the south was resumed.

"The colonel tells me," said Doctor Bronson, "that a detachment of soldiers is about to leave Gondokoro for Foueira, on the banks of the Victoria Nile. We can go with it to that point, or we can stop at Afuddo, where there is a station, garrisoned by a company of soldiers, under command of a captain. You remember that when Baker Pacha came with his expedition he brought a steamer in sections, which he intended for the navigation of the Albert N'yanza.

"Owing to the impossibility of securing the necessary carriers Baker was unable to transport his steamer to Afuddo, and returned without accomplishing this part of his mission. But his successor, Colonel Gordon (Gordon Pacha), had better luck, and early in 1876 the steamer and two iron life-boats were launched on the waters of the White Nile above the last rapids. On the 8th of March of that year Mr. Gessi, one of Gordon's officers, started with the steamer and the two iron boats and ascended to the lake.

"The boat was named the _Khedive_, in honor of the ruler of Egypt. It was a craft of one hundred and eight tons and twenty horse power, and will ever be memorable as the first steam-propelled vessel on the lakes of Central Africa.

"With these boats Mr. Gessi explored the lake, which he reported about one hundred and forty miles long by fifty in width, containing numerous islands, and bounded by magnificent forests. It is shallow on the southern shore, where the country is flat, but on the west the land is mountainous and the water deep. The little fleet went to Magungo, on the eastern shore, where the Victoria Nile empties into the lake, twenty-two miles below Murchison Falls. Afterward the steamer ascended the river to the foot of the falls, finding plenty of water and easy navigation. The flag of Egypt was hoisted at Magungo, and the country was occupied in the name of the Khedive.

[Illustration: THE NAVIGABLE NILE ABOVE THE LAST CATARACTS.]

"Now," the Doctor continued, "the fleet of Mr. Gessi is at the mouth of the Asua River, or rather at Afuddo, and the colonel says it is at our service, provided we pay the expenses of running the steamer. We can go with the detachment of troops that I have mentioned, and they will be necessary to protect us through the hostile country which lies between Gondokoro and Afuddo. But at that place we will not need its care any longer, as the natives are friendly, though it will be well for us to retain a small escort, to guard against accidents. He will arrange for the escort, and there is no doubt that the captain of the post at Afuddo will give us all the aid we need.

"There is one disadvantage in going with the detachment instead of venturing out alone: carriers are not easily procured in large numbers. We shall want at least a hundred for ourselves and our baggage, while the detachment of soldiers will need at least twice that number. Three hundred men are not always to be had by calling for them, while a single hundred might be easily procured. I told you before we left Cairo that the carrier question was the most troublesome one for an African explorer, and you must make your minds up to be patient and submit cheerfully to delays, if they must and will come."

Both the youths agreed that they would emulate the example of Job and refrain from grumbling, however great the provocation. With this understanding the party broke up, and its members were soon in bed. It was the fashion to retire early in Gondokoro, so as to be up with the first blush of morning and enjoy the cool hours of the day.

The colonel sent out men to hire carriers, but there were few to be had. It looked as though the travellers might be indefinitely delayed at the outset; and just as they were beginning to feel uneasy a caravan arrived from Foueira, with four hundred porters, bringing loads of ivory and other interior products.

Here was a piece of good-fortune! The porters were not wanted any longer by their employers, and it took only a short time to arrange for them to carry the baggage of the entire party to Afuddo and Foueira, after they had been allowed a couple of days to be paid off and to rest from their fatigues. The time was spent in getting the loads in readiness, and on the morning of the third day the long and mixed procession started on its way.

[Illustration: SADDLE-DONKEYS.]

About half the soldiers were in advance, and the rest brought up the rear. Between them, and stretching over a long distance, was the line of porters with their loads, the commander of the detachment on horseback, and our three friends similarly mounted. The three horses had been bought at a high price by the Doctor, who had also secured as many donkeys. It was decided that the latter would make acceptable mounts in case of accident to the larger animals, and in the mean time they could be ridden by Abdul and Ali, or made useful for carrying baggage.

The families of the soldiers made quite a crowd by themselves. It is the custom of the soldier in Africa to be accompanied by his wife, except on the most difficult marches; and though the European officers in the Khedive's service have protested repeatedly, they have never been able to break it up. Altogether the procession extended a mile or more, and appeared powerful enough to take care of itself against any ordinary enemy.

[Illustration: MARCHING THROUGH THE BARI COUNTRY.]

An important part of the procession was a drove of cattle. Frank called it the purse of the expedition, as the animals were intended to be used in payment of the services of the porters, as well as for supplying beef on the road. As before stated, they are the circulating medium in certain parts of Africa, and when frightened and at full speed they _circulate_ with great rapidity. They have the faculty of disappearing as easily as the bank-notes and coins of more civilized countries, and, like them, may be regarded as blessings that brighten as they take their flight.

The cattle gave some trouble to their drivers, and not infrequently broke up the line of march by dashing across it and scattering the travellers in all directions. The horns of the beasts were not pleasant objects to contemplate, especially at the moments when there was a prospect of being impaled on them.

The country became quite rough as the column advanced, and in a few hours after their departure from Gondokoro the travellers found themselves among mountains two or three thousand feet high. Frequently they came to ravines, and it was in these places that delays were caused by the cattle, as they could not be driven rapidly. The camp was made after a march of about ten miles. The tents were pitched under some wide-spreading trees, and Frank remarked what a pity it was the trees could not be induced to march along with them, for the grateful shelter they would afford against the heat of the sun at noon.

The natives had hovered in the vicinity of the line of march in order to secure any one of the herd of cattle that might stray from its keepers. But no such good-fortune befell them, as the herd preserved its integrity during the entire day, and was driven to the temporary _zeriba_ for protection during the night.

According to the custom of African travellers all the baggage was piled in front of the tents of the owners, and the boxes and bales were carefully counted before the porters were dismissed. This is an important requirement, and the traveller who neglects it even for a single occasion is liable to be the victim of plunder. The boxes containing the rifles, ammunition, and the most precious articles should be housed within the tents, and only the ordinary freight left outside. Even there a guard is always placed over it, and the greatest watchfulness is constantly needed.

[Illustration: CAMP SCENE.]

CHAPTER X.

A FISHING EXCURSION.--ENCOUNTERING A HIPPOPOTAMUS.--THE COUNTRY OF THE NYAM-NYAMS.

The party was awake at an early hour, and there was no rest for anybody after daylight. The camp had been made close to a small lake that was said to abound in fish. One of the soldiers was an expert fisherman, and our friends were surprised to learn that they were to have fresh fish for breakfast. Frank asked Abdul how it happened, and the dragoman proceeded to enlighten him.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE COOKS.]

"You see," said Abdul, "that the lake where these fish were caught is the head of a small stream that runs into the Nile, and when it is full of water the fish run up from the river. They stay here and grow. Some of them are large enough when they leave the Nile, but, whether large or not, they are sure to grow bigger by staying in the lake."

Fred wished to know what kind of fish they were.

"There are several kinds," was the reply, "but the most important are the boulti and the baggera. They are a species of perch, and very fine eating. The boulti rarely weighs more than five pounds, but the baggera grows to an enormous size, and often exceeds a hundred pounds in weight. The largest I ever saw tipped the scale at a hundred and fifty-two pounds, but I have heard of their reaching two hundred and more.

[Illustration: THE SECOND DAY'S MARCH.]

"They may properly be called fishes of the Upper Nile and its tributaries. They are found in the Lower Nile, where they are hardly fit to eat. Travellers who have tasted them at Cairo and below the first cataract pronounce them worthless, but they should come here to eat them, where the flavor is delicious. The case is the same all the world over, and a fish that is excellent in one part of a river is worthless in another."

"I can give you a good illustration of that," said the Doctor. "In Oregon the salmon ascend the Columbia River from the sea. The most of the fish continue up the Columbia, and the rest turn into the Willamette, a smaller river, on which Portland is situated. The salmon of the Columbia are considered among the finest of their species in the world, while those of the Willamette are of very poor quality. It is the same on the Colorado River: the fish of the upper part are excellent, while the same species lower down the stream are worthless.

"We have an abundance for this morning, and it is a pity we cannot keep the surplus till we want it. They preserve the boulti here by splitting it down the back, salting it a few hours, and then smoking it over a wood fire. Thus prepared it will keep good a couple of days; but if it is wanted for a long time it must be smoked and dried in the sun till it is like a piece of board."

Frank was curious to know how the fish were taken, and so it was arranged that he and Fred should accompany the fisherman on the first opportunity. It happened that very evening, as there was a lake near the second camp very much like the first.

On his return Frank told Doctor Bronson how the work was performed. "The fisherman is a Nubian," said he, "and learned his business on the Lower Nile, in his own country. He can swim like a duck, and is so black that a piece of charcoal wouldn't make a mark on him. I thought he would catch the fish with a hook, or perhaps a spear, but he didn't; he used a net, and it was a pleasure to see him throw it.

"He laid his casting-net across his arm, and waded out till the water was up to his waist: he does not seem afraid of the crocodiles, though the lake is full of them. Abdul said the man had a charm that protected him; he always wore it around his neck, and as long as it was in its place he was safe.

[Illustration: FISHING VILLAGE IN AN AFRICAN LAKE.]

"When he reached a spot which he considered favorable he threw his net so that it described an exact circle as it struck the water. The leaden weights carried it straight to the bottom, and the fish within the circle were surrounded.

"As soon as it fell the water was agitated, showing that a good cast had been made. The man hauled away as fast as possible, so as to prevent the fish from escaping by burrowing beneath the leads. The depth of water was a little more than the height of the sides of the net, so that the floats on the top were drawn under the surface.

"There was a lively splashing as the net came in toward the shore, and it seemed as though the fish would break through and get away. They didn't do it, though, as the net was strong, and the meshes were too close to allow any but the very smallest to pass through. When the net came fairly on the sand where we were standing it was a pretty sight. There were thirty-six boulti, none of them less than a pound in weight, while nearly a third weighed over four pounds apiece.

"The catch at that one throw made a good load for two men. Another throw of the net secured a dozen fishes equal to the first, and a third throw brought nothing at all. And as we thought we had done a good piece of work we came back to camp, and did not attempt to secure any more finny game.

"On our return Abdul said they had a way of fishing in a lake near Gondokoro with some nets that were brought there by Baker Pacha. They had a stop-net to keep the fish from running into the bulrushes at the end of the lake. This stop-net was nearly five hundred feet long, and fastened to stakes set at intervals of a few yards, and the ends were brought around like the points of a bow.

"After the stop-net was set the lake was swept by a drag-net, hauled by men in two boats, one at each end. As it approached the stop-net and the ends met, the fish were imprisoned, and there was a tremendous dashing in the water. The men sometimes became as excited as the fish, though in a different way; but the most of the party had their wits about them and did not lose their heads--and the fish. As many as four hundred fishes were taken in this way at a single swoop, and some of them weighed forty or fifty pounds. These big fellows were baggera, and sometimes they were almost the only fish that were caught."

[Illustration: STAMPEDING THE CARAVAN.]

The same care was observed as on the first day's march to prevent the straying of the cattle and the dispersal of the column. There was some trouble with the animals early in the afternoon, on account of the persistence of a portion of the herd in trying to turn back to Gondokoro. One of the largest of the herd lost his temper and made a furious charge at the column of porters. For a time the march was suspended, as the porters dropped their burdens and fled, and it was not an easy matter to persuade them to return to their work. The offending beast was converted into beef, when the party halted for the evening, and in this form his presence was much more agreeable than when he was carrying himself around on the hoof.

[Illustration: HALTING-PLACE NEAR A POND.]

About noon they halted near a little pond, which looked as though it would be a good place for a bath. Frank and Fred were desirous of trying the water, but were dissuaded by Abdul, who told them it was full of _sangsues_, or blood-suckers, which were not an agreeable adjunct of a bath. Frank recalled his experience in Ceylon, where he was occupied for half an hour after coming out in removing the leeches that clung to him. "And besides," he remarked, "we haven't the blood to spare, even though we don't mind the trouble of removing these African postage-stamps."

The donkeys were not so tender of skin or feelings, and walked straight to the water as soon as they were released from their work. Whether the leeches tried their skill at blood-letting on these animals we are unable to say, but if they did they probably abandoned the effort after a few trials.

The third day brought the line of march in the neighborhood of the Nile, owing to a bend which the river makes to the eastward. The old route to Foueira avoided the river altogether, but the new one followed its banks for a short distance, a circumstance by no means undesirable to the travellers. The Nile had become to them like an old friend, and Fred declared that he felt unhappy whenever he could not see it. No doubt he would recover from the feeling, just as he could become accustomed to the absence of a personal friend; but for the present he wished the Nile ran all the way through Africa, and he could follow it till their journey was at an end.

As they came near the river they saw several natives fishing from their rafts of ambatch reeds, such as we have already described. Some were lying quietly near the shore, while others were paddling about or floating with the current. Several river-horses were visible, but they were such a common sight in this part of the Nile that nobody gave them the least attention.

Frank and Fred were standing on the bank, and happened to be looking at a raft which carried two men. Evidently one of them was blind, as his eyes were closed, and he carried no oar or paddle.

Close by them was a hippopotamus of more than ordinary size, and Fred remarked that the raft seemed to be going directly for him.

"The man at the stern doesn't see the beast," said Frank, "or he wouldn't be likely to run the risk of disturbing him."

"I think so too," replied his cousin, "for they haven't anything to make a fight with, and if the 'hippo' attacks them they're in great danger."

[Illustration: HIPPOPOTAMUS ATTACKING A RAFT.]

Just as he spoke the bow of the raft touched the back of what Fred called the "hippo," and evidently touched him with considerable force. The animal turned, as Frank had predicted, and attacked the frail vessel with his enormous jaws.

It was a brief combat, and an unequal one. The man at the bow was, as they afterward learned, stone-blind, and therefore unaware of the danger that threatened him. The beast seized him with the quickness of a flash, overturning the raft and upsetting the other man into the water. The victim of the attack was killed instantly. Other boats and rafts went to the rescue of the man struggling in the water, and he was saved from the crocodiles, with which the stream abounds.

The hippopotamus went away unmolested, as the natives had no weapons that could make an impression on his thick hide. Doctor Bronson called for his heaviest rifle, but before he secured it the monarch of the river was safe below the waters.

Abdul said that when Baker was ascending the Nile with his expedition they had considerable trouble with these animals; on several occasions they attacked the small boats at the stern of the larger ones, and seemed to regard them as personal enemies.

[Illustration: A NIGHT ATTACK BY A RIVER-HORSE.]

"One night," said Abdul, "we were all awakened by a tremendous splashing close to the boat, and the cry arose that a hippo was about attacking us. We ran on deck as fast as we could, and saw a hippo dashing about furiously, and throwing the water in all directions. We were lying close to a mud-bank, with the dahabeeah moored stem and stern; consequently one side was exposed to the river, and the beast had full tilt at it whenever he wanted.

"He upset one of the boats as though it didn't weigh an ounce, and then he seized the other in his jaws and tried to crunch it. Mr. Baker was roused with the rest, and sent his servant for a rifle. He brought the rifle, but not the ammunition, and so the hippo had another chance at the boats while the man was gone a second time. The night was clear and the moon was up, so that the beast was distinctly visible.

"The ammunition came, and then Mr. Baker took a shot at our enemy, but the fellow dashed about so much that it was a hard matter to get good aim. The spot where you can put a bullet in is very small, and unless you strike exactly on the place your shot is wasted.

"The first ball didn't seem to stop him, and three or four more only made him more furious. He rocked the dahabeeah with his blows, and it seemed at one time that he would make a hole in her side. After six or eight shots he acted as though he didn't like the business. He went up to the bank, lay down in the mud, and his body was covered with the mud so that only his snout could be seen.

"We all thought he would die, and after waiting nearly half an hour we went to bed.

"We had just got fairly to sleep when he came at us again, as though he hadn't been hit at all. Mr. Baker gave him half a dozen bullets of the largest size, and among them were two explosive ones, that should have torn great holes in his flesh if they burst at the right moment. He went away after striking against the boat and trying to smash it, and then he came back once more, after a rest of a quarter of an hour.

"This time he got all he wanted and a trifle more. He was a determined fighter, and evidently considered our presence an intrusion on his domain. After the final shots at him he stretched himself on the bank, and died there before daylight.

"In the morning we had a council of war over the hippo, and took note of the shots it had required for settling him. Here is the result:

"Three shots in the flank and shoulder, and four in the head. One of the head shots had broken his lower jaw, another passed through his nose and, passing downward, cut off one of his tusks. Mr. Baker said his body was covered with frightful scars of wounds received in his battles with animals of his own species, and there were several wounds still unhealed. One scar was about two feet long and two inches deep, and showed that his antagonist must have given him a lively turn before the fight was over. He was the worst of his kind I ever saw or heard of, and all the party were glad he had been killed. Perhaps the other hippos in the neighborhood were not at all sorry to part with him."

In the afternoon they came to an encampment of ivory merchants, or rather to a village where several traders had a station for collecting their goods preparatory to starting for Gondokoro. The natives had brought in two or three dozen tusks of ivory, which were paid for in the usual currency of the country--beads, cloth, trinkets, and other "suc-suc," as goods for the African trade are called.

[Illustration: TYING UP IVORIES FOR THE MARCH.]

The boys were interested in looking at the piles of ivory lying on the ground and the men engaged in tying them up for transportation. The smaller tusks were tied in bundles of two or three, generally two, placed with the large end of one against the small end of the other, and then wrapped securely with strips of bark. The large tusks were wrapped singly, as they would make a load for one man, and sometimes a tusk of medium size was wrapped with a small one. To tie a bundle two men sat on the ground, and while one held the tusks firmly in place the other affixed the wrappings.

The village consisted of a dozen or more huts, like enormous hay-cocks. They were made with a thick thatch of grass resting on a light but strong frame, and the work was so arranged that the thatch could be removed without difficulty, and leave the frame uncovered. This form of construction is found very convenient when it becomes necessary to move a village. The thatch is stripped off and thrown away, and the light frame, mounted on the heads of four or five negroes, is borne away as easily as though it were no more than a large basket.

[Illustration: REMOVING A VILLAGE.]

A day or two later our friends met one of these moving villages, and the youths had the opportunity of seeing the Africans on their march. Four men were carrying a house; one was dragging a bundle of withes used for interlacing the framework of the dwelling; another, with a long stick, was driving a couple of cows; another drove a sheep that was held by a string to prevent its straying; while two women carrying baskets brought up the rear. These people have few possessions, and therefore their changes of residence are easily performed. Doctor Bronson said he was reminded of the migrations of the roving Indians of the western part of the United States, where a village may be transferred from one spot to another at an hour's notice and leave scarcely a trace behind, except in the places where the tents had been pitched, and the piles of ashes where fires were kindled.

One evening, while they were discussing their route and estimating the time it would take them to reach "Miani's Tree," Frank asked if they would go near the country of the Nyam-Nyams, the curious people described by the Italian explorer.

"I am sorry to say it is out of our route," replied the Doctor. "It lies far to the west of where we are going, and therefore all that we learn about it we must take from others, and not from our own observation."

"You said that the Dinka negro whom you saw at Cairo told you that the Nyam-Nyams rarely exceeded the height of the two dwarfs brought away by Miani," one of the boys remarked.

"Exactly so," was the reply; "but because the negro made that assertion is no reason why we should accept it. However truthful the negro may be in his civilized condition in America, he is not always absolutely veracious in his native wilds. For 'conspicuous inexactness' it would not be easy to find his superior.

"The same negro said it would take a year's travel from Khartoum to reach the country of the Nyam-Nyams. He certainly exaggerated considerably in that assertion, as a quarter of the time would be sufficient for the journey, provided there were no more than the ordinary delays. However, he may have included the hinderances which sometimes come from the unwillingness of a tribe to let strangers move on without a residence of a month or so among them. This is the custom in several parts of Africa, and many explorers have been greatly inconvenienced by it.

[Illustration: A NYAM-NYAM DOG.]

"Dr. Schweinfurth travelled among the Nyam-Nyams, and, while he does not make them so small as Miani represents them, he says they are not as large as the majority of the African race. He took the measurements of many of their men, and the tallest stature he found was five feet ten and a half inches. The upper part of the figure is long in proportion to the legs, and this peculiarity gives a strange character to their movements, though it does not impede their agility in their war-dances and in athletic sports.

"He compares their complexion to the hue of a cake of chocolate. There are some variations of the color, but the ground-tint is always an earthy red in contrast to the bronze tinge of the Ethiopian races of Nubia. They are accustomed to make tattoo-marks upon their faces, and sometimes on other parts of their bodies, but do not practise this disfigurement as much as the natives of some of the South Sea Islands."

Frank asked if they were as frugal in the matter of clothing as some of the people they had seen in their journey up the Nile.

"They are not very lavish with their garments," was the reply, "but they wear more of them than do the Shillooks or the Dinkas.

"Sometimes they wear a sort of tunic made of the bark of a tree, but their usual apparel consists of the skins of animals. They are not sewn together, but suspended from a girdle at the waist, and the finest and most beautiful skins are selected in preference to those of a sombre hue. The chiefs and other persons of high rank are allowed to cover their heads with skins, but the more ordinary mortals must rely upon straw hats or their natural thatch of woolly hair.

"They devote much time and trouble to the ornamentation of their hair, and sometimes a man will spend an entire day in the arrangement of his head-dress for a grand occasion, and sit up all night to save it from derangement. The hair is braided and twisted in a variety of ways, and Dr. Schweinfurth says it would be difficult to discover any kind of plaits, tufts, or top-knots which has not already been tried by the men of the Nyam-Nyams.

[Illustration: SINGULAR HEAD-DRESS OF A NYAM-NYAM.]

"He describes a coiffure which he pronounces the most remarkable he had ever seen. The head of the owner was encircled by a series of rays, like the glory in the picture of a saint; these rays were made of the man's own hair, which had been drawn out in little tresses and stretched over a hoop, which was ornamented around the edge with cowrie-shells. It was held in place by four wires; these wires could be removed at night, in order that the hoop might be folded back and allow the victim to lie down to sleep. The inner ends of the wires were fixed to a conical straw-hat, ornamented with a plume, and this hat was kept in its proper position by means of numerous hair-pins.

"They are fond of decorating their hair with a string of the incisor teeth of the dog; this is stretched along the forehead just at the edge of the hair, in the shape of a fringe, and the effect is not at all disagreeable even to the European eye. Then they hang on their breasts ornaments cut out of ivory in imitation of a large circle of lions' teeth, and you can readily understand that such a decoration makes a noticeable contrast with their dark skins. They care little for glass beads, and reject nearly all the varieties of those articles as worthless."

Fred wished to know how large was the country of the Nyam-Nyams, and what was their mode of life.

"The term Nyam-Nyam does not properly belong to them," said the Doctor, "but is the name by which the Dinkas describe them. It means 'eaters,' or 'great eaters,' and refers to the cannibalism which prevails among them."

"If they are cannibals," Fred remarked, "I'm not at all sorry not to form too intimate an acquaintance with them. It would be pleasant to dine with the king, but I should object to his dining with me in the fashion the cannibals have of receiving strangers."

"They are not the worst of cannibals," the Doctor continued, "and their principal sustenance is obtained from vegetable products, and from the chase. They are great hunters, and the men are supposed to be constantly occupied with hunting or fighting, while the women till the fields and perform all the labor of the house. They have generally a fertile soil, and what they raise from it is obtained with very little exertion.

"The name by which they call themselves is 'Zandey,' and, in addition to the Dinka appellation of Nyam-Nyams, they are variously called Manyanya, Madyaka, Kakkarakka, Kunda, and Babungera by their neighbors. Their country lies between the fourth and sixth degrees of north latitude, and covers an area of about fifty thousand square miles, between Darfoor and the valley of the Congo. The population is estimated at about two millions; but, of course, this is only an estimate, as they have no organized government, and never heard of taking the census.

"They are not familiar with fire-arms, their weapons being spears, knives, and clubs; and in their fighting expeditions every man carries a large shield--nearly large enough to cover him. Their only domestic animals are dogs and chickens, and both of these animals are useful as food. Dog's flesh is considered a great delicacy, and many of the wealthiest of the natives have a regular system of fattening dogs for their tables.

[Illustration: A NYAM-NYAM GRANARY.]

"They have granaries for storing their grain, and sometimes a single family will have two or three of these warehouses. They are constructed with a wide thatch for keeping off the heavy rains that fall periodically, and are mounted on posts covered with cement, so that they will not be eaten away by insects. The houses are grouped in little villages, and generally placed with a view to being near land that is easily cultivated; they are nearly always of a conical shape, like those of the Shillooks, and provided with strong doors, to prevent attacks from wild beasts. There are small huts, with bell-shaped roofs and narrow doors, where the boys sleep at night. The door is at least three feet above the ground, so as to insure the safety of the youngsters against lions and other disagreeable visitors.

[Illustration: HUT FOR BOYS.]

"While among the Nyam-Nyams, Dr. Schweinfurth saw a good many hunters and soldiers of the Akkas, a tribe of negroes occupying a region which he was unable to visit. He succeeded in obtaining one of these curious people, and brought him down the Nile, but, unfortunately, he died at Berber, on his way to Cairo. The Akkas are probably the smallest people of Central Africa, and are sometimes mentioned as a race of pygmies."

[Illustration: AN AKKA WARRIOR.]

"Perhaps they are the nation of dwarfs, instead of the Nyam-Nyams," Frank observed.

"They are certainly more entitled to the name than their neighbors," was the reply. "The one which Dr. Schweinfurth brought to Berber was four feet seven inches high. Six full-grown men that he measured were only four feet ten inches, and from all he could learn a man of five feet or more was uncommon."

[Illustration: DR. SCHWEINFURTH'S PYGMY.]

"But are there not other tribes of Africans of about the same proportions?" one of the youths asked.

"Certainly," said Doctor Bronson, "and they seem to extend nearly across the continent under the line of the equator, though not entirely so. They are not dwarfs in the ordinary meaning of the word, but simply a people of diminutive stature. They are generally of a lighter complexion than the true Ethiopian, and with some of them the body is more or less thickly covered with hair. Some travellers have described them as only three or four feet high, but their statements are unconfirmed. The Bushmen of South Africa are of the same reduced proportions as the Akkas, and the measurements we have of them are almost identical with those taken by Dr. Schweinfurth among the Akkas."

One of the boys asked Doctor Bronson what his opinion was concerning the origin of these little people. The Doctor replied that he could do no better than quote from the learned explorer from whom he had taken the account of the Nyam-Nyams:

"Scarcely a doubt can exist but that all these people, like the Bushmen of South Africa, may be considered as the scattered remains of an aboriginal population now becoming extinct; and their isolated and sporadic existence bears out the hypothesis. For centuries after centuries Africa has been experiencing the effects of many immigrations. For thousands of years one nation has been driving out another; and, as the result of repeated subjugations and interminglings of race with race, such manifold changes have been introduced into the conditions of existence that the succession of new phases, like the development in the world of plants, appears almost, as it were, to open a glimpse into the infinite."

[Illustration: STANDING FOR HIS PORTRAIT.]

CHAPTER XI.

ARRIVAL AT AFUDDO.--DIVISION OF ROUTES.--FRANK'S DEPARTURE.

[Illustration: CROSSING A MARSH.]

The weather in the early part of the march from Gondokoro was fine, but Abdul predicted that it was too beautiful to last. Sure enough, it came on to rain one morning, and Frank pronounced it the "wettest rain" he had seen for some time. It poured as though great flood-gates had been opened in the sky, and rendered the ground so soft that the feet of the horses sunk out of sight in the mud. Occasionally the way led over marshes, which were not difficult to cross in the dry season, but when soaked with water they became anything but agreeable. It was dangerous to remain on horseback, owing to the liability to stumbling of the animals, and in such places our friends were obliged to dismount and make their way on foot.

[Illustration: A WET ROAD.]

Macintosh coats were useful, but even these garments could not keep out the moisture, which penetrated every little crevice where there was the least chance of an entrance. Luckily the rain was a warm one, and nobody suffered any inconvenience from the temperature. As long as a reasonably high temperature can be maintained there is no great suffering, beyond the liability to contract fevers and other diseases, but when the traveller has cold and wet combined his condition is pitiable. The boys maintained their spirits by laughing as they picked their way among the mud-holes, and a stranger would have thought they were enjoying the weary tramp. It was not at all pleasing; but the youths argued that "what can't be cured must be endured," and the best way of enduring the discomfort was to keep up the pretence of enjoying it.

The rain had the effect of driving the mosquitoes to shelter, so that, while drenched with the downpour, the boys were temporarily relieved from the necessity of fighting those tiny destroyers of the traveller's peace; but it brought out many leeches, especially in the marshy ground, and the porters occasionally halted to free their limbs from these annoyances. Frank asked if it would bring them a visitation of snakes, and was glad to learn from Abdul that most of the African snakes are not fond of rain, and would probably stay at home, unless called out on urgent business.

The tents were pitched on the dryest spot that could be found, and the travellers sought their shelter before all the pegs had been driven into the ground. The earth had been levelled a little, partly to form a floor, and partly to remove the moist earth of the surface, and nobody had given any attention to a hole near the roots of a bush which had been cut away in the levelling process.

Frank was busy with his toilet-bag, when he thought he felt a movement of the earth under his feet. He stepped a little to one side to see what it meant, and very soon found out.

The head of a snake appeared from beneath the ground, and a pair of eyes contemplated the youth with an expression anything but friendly. Frank then remembered the hole in the ground to which we have alluded, and was not long in concluding that they had camped over the residence of a serpent. Fortunately, he was close to the entrance of the tent, and instantly converted it into an exit.

He shouted for Abdul, and as that individual appeared the story of the intrusion was quickly narrated. The servants were called, and soon despatched the snake. Fred observed that it was not much of a snake, as it was only seven feet long, which was a tiny affair for Africa. Frank retorted that when snakes were under consideration the measurement was of little consequence, as he had an antipathy to the whole family, big and little. They unanimously decided that the location of the tent was undesirable, as the contents of the hole were unknown. "We don't want to be seeing snakes all night," said Frank, "and we shall be pretty likely to do so unless we change our base."

[Illustration: A SNAKE IN CAMP.]

The tent was moved a dozen yards or so, and if there were any more snakes in that hole they had no occasion to complain of disturbance. Another snake was killed close to the camp, and altogether it seemed as if their lines had not fallen in pleasant places.

The snakes were not without their uses, as they were carried off by some of the black soldiers of the detachment, and soon found their way into the cooking-pot. Abdul said there were not many snake-eaters in the detachment, but enough of them to make any ordinary serpent come handy. "The flesh," said he, "is as sweet as that of a chicken, and it is only prejudice that keeps us from trying it."

Of course the incident led to anecdotes of a snaky character, and between dinner and the hour of retiring there were many wonderful narrations. The precaution of sleeping with the legs crossed or stretched wide apart was again enjoined upon the youths, in case they wanted to save themselves from pythonic deglutition. Abdul repeated a tale he had heard of a snake on the banks of Tanganyika Lake that used to swallow the natives when they paddled their rafts near his lair. He was large enough to take in man and boat at a single gulp, and the boats seemed to aid his digestion instead of injuring it.

Ali said that in his country the antelopes were so large they would be mistaken for elephants, except for their shape; and his statement was verified by another narrator, who declared that in his native place the goats were provided with trunks like elephants, while the chickens had heads and necks like serpents, and could inflict a bite which was instantly fatal. Another disciple of the marvellous told of cats larger than cows, and mice like bull-dogs, and he averred that his brother had been in a country where the flies were used as horses, and a strong fly could carry a man five or ten miles without lighting down for a rest.

The next day the weather was better, but the necessity of drying the camp equipage prevented an early start. Everybody rejoiced at the reappearance of the sun, and the horses and donkeys seemed to share in the pleasure of the return of the clear sky.

In the last camp before they reached Miani's Tree, Doctor Bronson told the youths he had a plan for their future movements which he had been carefully considering for several days, and would now unfold to them.

"It is this," said the Doctor: "from Afuddo we have a choice of two routes to the country of King M'tesa--one by land, and one by water. If the steamer is in running order we can explore the Albert N'yanza, making the circuit of the lake, and ascending the Somerset River, or Victoria Nile, to Murchison Falls, twenty-two miles above the river's mouth.

"The other route is altogether by land, through the M'rooli country, to Foueira, the station of the Egyptian troops where our detachment is going.

"Now, what I have been considering is for our party to divide, and thus cover both routes. Frank and Abdul can continue with the soldiers to Foueira, while Fred and I will go with the steamer to Murchison Falls. We can meet either at the Falls or at Foueira. In the former case Fred will come down the river to join us, and in the latter we will ascend the river route, to meet him at the station."

Both boys were delighted with the proposition. They were sorry to be separated after having travelled so long together, but they realized that the time would not be long, and they would be using their eyes to better advantage than if they both continued on one route.

"You can describe the lake," said Frank to his cousin, "and I will tell about the journey by land. Abdul and I can get along all right, I think, and we shall be well protected by the soldiers. You ought to have an escort as well as I, and I presume the Doctor will arrange all that with the commander."

[Illustration: SCENE NEAR AFUDDO.]

The new plan was the subject of a good deal of conversation between the youths at every opportunity for the rest of the march to Afuddo. On their arrival at that point they were eager to learn if the steamer was in good condition for the voyage, and their first inquiry was concerning her.

"The steamer is all right," said the Doctor, as soon as he had delivered his letter to the officer in command of the post. "She is lying at Duflé, the point whence Mr. Gessi started for the first steam voyage on the Albert N'yanza, and we can have her ready to leave in a very short time."

There was some unwelcome intelligence concerning the land route to Foueira. The Shooli and Umiro people, through whose territory the road passes, had recently shown signs of hostility. They had attacked several trading caravans, and while some had defended themselves successfully, others had been broken up or compelled to retreat. There was a prospect that Frank and Abdul might see some fighting if they continued with the land party, and Fred suggested that it might be better to abandon that route and all go by steamer.

Frank opposed this change of plan, and said he was quite willing to take the risk of the land journey. He felt that the troops would be able to take care of themselves if they were attacked. He believed that the Remington rifle, in the hands of a soldier, would be a safe defence against a thousand native spears and arrows. He argued farther that he did not come to Africa to expect travel would be as safe as at home, and it would indicate a faint heart if he should be frightened by the mere rumor of trouble.

Doctor Bronson asked the youths to defer their decision till he could confer with the officer in command of the post at Afuddo, and also with Captain Mohammed, under whose escort they were travelling. The conference was held early the next morning, and the boys anxiously awaited the Doctor's report concerning it.

"We had a long talk over the troubles among the Shoolis and Umiros," said the Doctor as he returned to their tents, "and the reports are not encouraging. Still, I am of opinion that there is no great danger, since the soldiers are well armed and disciplined. They will not attack the natives unless seriously threatened by them, as their instructions are not to make trouble, but to act only on the defensive.

"Therefore I see no good reason why Frank should not continue as we had proposed. Perhaps Fred and I will go with him the first day's march, and if no serious intelligence comes in that time he can continue. If actual war has been declared he can turn back and accompany us by the lake route."

The question having been settled, the party at once proceeded to divide the baggage and make the necessary arrangements for the two journeys. The division was easily accomplished, as all the cases were marked and numbered according to a list, of which each of the travellers and also the dragoman had a copy. Frank took only what was needed for his journey, including a good supply of ammunition and a couple of rifles for himself and Abdul, so that they could do their share of fighting in case of necessity. All the heavy baggage, and such things as were intended for use at King M'tesa's court and after the visit to that monarch, went by the steamers, as the easiest and safest mode of transport.

The most of the day was consumed in the arrangement, and it was not till late in the afternoon that Frank and Fred had an opportunity to take a stroll around the village near which their camp had been placed.

It was a collection of huts much like those of the other villages they had seen on the route, and consequently there was nothing new for them to look at. Outside the village were a few fields and gardens, and the boys remarked how easily the region might be made to produce abundantly. The soil had an appearance of great fertility, and under the rude cultivation of the natives the fields had a luxuriant aspect. "It is a land," said Fred, quoting from Bishop Heber,

"'Where every prospect pleases, And only man is vile.'"

"Yes," answered Frank, "and if it ever comes under European management it can be made the seat of an important commerce. All the products of the tropics flourish here; and when the natives learn to be industrious, and adopt the habits and customs of civilization, they can compete successfully with the people of similar lands in Asia."

[Illustration: A CARAVAN OF AN IVORY-TRADER.]

The conversation was interrupted by the appearance of a caravan coming from the south, and straggling very irregularly along the road. Fred pronounced it the most motley crowd he had seen since leaving Gondokoro, and Frank immediately produced his note-book to take down the characteristics of the group.

"The riding animals," said he, "are oxen and donkeys, instead of horses. Each of the ox-riders has a child clinging on the rump of his steed, while the donkeys are ridden by negroes, armed with rifles and sabres. Two men on foot carry the flags of the leader, and these are unfurled whenever a band of natives is encountered. Then there are goats and cows following the procession, and the rear is brought up by the ivory porters with their burdens."

[Illustration: AN IVORY PORTER.]

They followed the caravan, which passed close to their tents and proceeded to some huts a few hundred yards beyond. There the burdens of the porters were deposited, and for a time the scene was decidedly animated.

Abdul joined the youths as they were looking at the caravan, and explained to them that it belonged to one of the wandering traders such as we have already described. "He is the agent of one of the firms at Khartoum," said the dragoman, "and, from the number of burdens he has just brought in, he has evidently made a successful tour. The children that you saw are doubtless intended as merchandise quite as much as the ivory. Though slavery has been abolished here the merchants do not hesitate to indulge in it, and the government officials frequently connive at their so doing. But it is diminishing every year, and will dwindle steadily as the power of the government increases."

"What great risks are taken, and what hardships men undergo," said Fred, "in search of ivory! They traverse Africa, encountering its fevers, and its dangers from beasts and men and serpents; they make long journeys where there are few of the comforts of life, and suffer all kinds of privations, and all in pursuit of wealth to be derived from the tusk of the elephant. The men who bring the ivory from the African wilds are only a little less to be pitied than the huge animal that yields it."

"The difference in their case," his cousin retorted, "is, that their act is voluntary, while that of the elephant is sorely against his will. He has no desire to surrender his tusks, especially when his life must be surrendered at the same time, while they could seek some other employment."

"I have been looking up the subject of ivory," responded Fred, "and find that the elephant hasn't a monopoly of the business. The tusks of the hippopotamus, the walrus, the narwhal, and some other animals are included under the name of ivory, and have nearly the same uses."

"But not exactly the same," was the reply. "Several high authorities contend that the name only belongs properly to the product of the elephant, which has a different composition from that of other animals. A cross-section of an elephant's tusk has the appearance of circular lines, intersecting each other, so as to form lozenge-shaped figures with curved boundaries; this feature exists in no other kind of tusk, and is the distinguishing mark of elephant ivory.

"There is a vegetable ivory which is used for making small articles, but it is too soft to wear well, and tarnishes very easily. It is the kernel of a nut that grows in Peru and New Granada. The tree is a species of palm, and the ivory corresponds to the meat of the familiar cocoa-nut. Perhaps somebody will invent a process for converting the cocoa-nut into ivory, and then the article will be a good deal cheaper than it is."

"What would be the use?" said Fred. "Haven't we several imitations of ivory already? Have you forgotten celluloid?"

"Quite true," replied Frank; "but then celluloid, while greatly resembling ivory, is far from equalling it. Men who play at billiards say the balls made of celluloid have a dead sound when struck, and that the same is the case with all other imitations. However, there is no doubt that celluloid can take the place of ivory for many uses, and the elephants ought to have a mass meeting, and send a vote of thanks to the man who invented it."

"Perhaps I've got a question you can't answer," said Fred. "What is the composition of ivory?"

"I've informed myself on that point," replied Frank, with a smile. "Ivory contains twenty-four per cent. of animal matter, sixty-four of phosphate of lime, a little more than eleven per cent. of water, and the balance is carbonate of lime and other insignificant ingredients. The water and animal matter are dried away by long exposure, and for this reason ivory is apt to turn yellow and change its form. Billiard-balls require to be turned occasionally to correct these changes. They generally shrink or expand more in the direction of the width of the tusks than in that of their length, and consequently the makers of these articles are accustomed to shape them roughly at first, and then keep them for months in a warm room before finishing.

"A gentleman who has studied the statistics of the ivory trade says the total amount of ivory imported into Great Britain during the nine years from 1873 to 1881 inclusive was 5286 tons. The whole number of tusks being known, the average weight per pair can be easily ascertained. This average is put at forty pounds, which is above rather than below the true weight. Assuming this to be correct, the 5286 tons of ivory represent 296,016 pairs of tusks, and consequently the same number of elephants, that have died long ago or have been slaughtered in later times to supply the demands of luxury for the past nine years. At this rate of destruction it will be seen how rapidly this noble animal must disappear, and how surely ivory will become a thing of the past. The highest price paid at a recent sale in Liverpool for the best African ivory was at the rate of $6740 per ton, or more than three dollars per pound.

"If," concluded Frank, "you want another lecture on ivory please give me fair warning, so that I can get my information in proper shape."

They returned to camp just as dinner was announced. Of course the chief topic of conversation was the proposed exploration of the Albert N'yanza and the land journey to Foueira.

[Illustration: THE CENTRAL AFRICAN STEAMER "KHEDIVE."]

The next morning the boys accompanied Doctor Bronson on a visit to the _Khedive_, the steamer in which the voyage on the Albert N'yanza was to be made. They found a handsome boat, of the dimensions already given, and propelled by a screw instead of paddles. It had two masts, so that sails could be spread in case the engines were disabled; and it had an awning extending the entire length of the deck, to shelter its passengers from the heat of the tropical sun. Below deck there were several comfortable cabins, and there were quarters for the crew, and a well-fitted galley for the cook's use. Altogether they were pleased with the boat, and Frank began to wish that he had not been so persistent about making the journey by land. But an instant's reflection drove away the thought, and he was firmer than ever in his purpose.

The _Khedive_ was all ready for service, and only needed to be provisioned and supplied with the necessary fuel for working her engines. A Scotch engineer, named Cameron, was in charge of her, with a couple of Arab assistants. He was quite willing to be employed, and declared himself heartily weary of lying idle for six months, waiting for something to do, and constantly expecting orders that never came.

Doctor Bronson told him to get ready as soon as he liked; and in order that there could be no mistake about it he showed his authority from the government officials at Cairo, and also those from the commander of the district at Gondokoro. Mr. Cameron said he would have the provisions and fuel on board in a couple of days, provided he had the assistance of the commander of the post to compel the people to work. They needed a little urging, he said, and the best way of urging them was to put them under the guard of a file of soldiers.

Our friends were well aware that the two days would grow to four or five, as nothing is ever done in Africa in the time agreed upon. So it was decided that Frank should continue his journey with the escort, which was to leave the next day, and the Doctor and Fred would accompany him for the first day's journey, as agreed. This would cause no detention of the boat, as their baggage could be put on board in a few hours when the _Khedive_ was in readiness.

They were off in good season in the morning, and made their camp in a pretty little valley, close by a brook that reminded the boys of a similar stream near their birthplace. The next morning the good-byes and good wishes were pronounced, and the travellers turned away from each other. There were tears in their eyes as their hands met in a farewell clasp; their utterance was so choked by the lumps in their throats that the words they forced out were indistinct. Africa is a land of dangers and uncertainties, and perhaps they were destined not to meet again.

No wonder there was sadness at the separation, or that Frank regretfully parted with friends he loved so well, and by whom he was warmly cherished. At last the windings of the road hid them from view, and he turned resolutely with his gaze directed toward the equator.

CHAPTER XII.

DEPARTURE OF THE TWO EXPEDITIONS.--IN THE SHOOLI COUNTRY.--ATTACKED IN AN AMBUSCADE.

The horses were sent with Frank, as they would be of no use in the steamboat journey, and it was arranged that they should be at Murchison Falls in exactly a month from the date of departure from Afuddo, if everything went well. Captain Mohammed said a month would suffice for the journey, if they had no detentions on the road. To cover contingencies, an allowance of eight days was added to the above period, so that it was agreed to meet on the thirty-eighth day, unless prevented by some unforeseen circumstance.

Fred had wondered how the Doctor and himself would return to Afuddo from their day's journey with Frank. The horses were to leave them, and he saw no alternative but a pedestrian journey, to which he was not at all inclined. Satisfied that Doctor Bronson had considered the case, and made proper provision for it, he asked no questions, though he could not help revolving the subject in mind.

The morning of their departure for the return to Afuddo solved the mystery.

A large ox, with wide horns, that suggested impalement to any one who insulted their wearer, was led up for the Doctor, and a similar beast for the youth. The animals were saddled and bridled, the bridle passing through the cartilage of the nose, which is the weak point of the bovine race, and an excellent holding-ground for a driving-rein. As Fred looked at it he remembered how he had seen savage bulls held in check by a ring through the nose, and concluded that the Africans knew what they were about when they harnessed their saddle-oxen in this way.

"I remember now," he exclaimed, "reading about Anderson and Livingstone riding on oxen in their African journeys. Anderson says he rode one ox more than two thousand miles. He became much attached to his horned steed, and declared that he preferred the ox to the horse."

[Illustration: WINWOOD READE'S OX AND HAMMOCK TRAIN.]

"Yes," replied the Doctor; "oxen are not as fast as horses, but they will endure more, and keep fat where a horse would starve. Where there is plenty of food a horse is to be preferred, but in a country where the herbage is scant, and you must travel day after day and week after week, the ox is the superior animal. He is slow but sure in his movements, and will get over rough ground better than a horse. Winwood Reade says he is sulky and revengeful, but this is contrary to the testimony of other travellers. Mr. Reade had some saddle-oxen in his train, but his favorite mode of riding was by hammock, on the shoulders of porters.

"I had arranged for porters with hammocks to carry us back to Afuddo in case the oxen failed to arrive. But they are here all right; and as everything is ready we will mount and be off."

Early in the afternoon they were once more in their camp on the banks of the Nile, and discussing the plans for departure up the river.

As Doctor Bronson had predicted, the two days of preparation were extended to four, and it was not till the fifth day that they were ready to start. All the baggage was carried on board in the evening, and the two explorers slept on deck, beneath the awnings. The cabins were too hot for comfort, and so full of mosquitoes that several smudges and a vigorous use of brooms and switches could not expel them. The deck was much more agreeable, and it was voted that, while the cabins might be useful as dressing-rooms, they were undesirable for lodging-places.

The steamer was off about nine o'clock in the morning, and headed against the strong current of the Nile in the direction of the Albert N'yanza. Late in the afternoon a bend of the stream revealed the widening that betokened the entrance of the lake, and in a little while the _Khedive_ was afloat on the waters of the lowest of the lakes that form the head-waters of the mysterious river of Egypt.

We will leave the _Khedive_ and her passengers and return to Frank, whom we left on his southward travels a day beyond Afuddo. His journal will tell the story of his experiences.

"I had a sad heart all day after parting from my friends," said the youth in his note-book, "and was unable to see much beauty in the landscape. The country was well but not richly timbered, and I observed that the road ascended steadily as we moved away from the river. We passed many villages, all of the same general appearance, and I began to be weary of the succession of grass-thatched huts. The people looked at us indifferently, and sometimes came out to beg or try to sell us some of the products of their little fields. They did not display any hostility, but Abdul said we were not yet in the country where we might look for opposition.

[Illustration: NEAR THE SHORE OF THE LAKE.]

"Our camp was made in a small valley, and close by a ravine that was easily turned into a cattle-yard. A fence of African thorns was built across each end of the ravine, and as the sides were too steep for the cattle to climb easily they did not climb at all. The guard around the camp was doubled, for fear of accident, and Captain Mohammed said he should have a double guard every night till we arrived at Foueira.

"There was an alarm during the night, caused by one of the guards discharging his rifle at a hyena that came near him. Everybody turned out, in expectation that a fight was on hand; but when the cause of the disturbance was explained we soon went to bed again. I thought the guard should be reprimanded for his act, but Abdul said he was commended for his watchfulness; and when I heard the explanation I thought he was right after all.

"Abdul said that a few years before, at one of the posts in the Bari country, the sentinel on duty at a certain point was found dead one morning, and the indications were that he had been strangled. His gun and all his equipments were gone, and there was no trace of the assailant. The next night another man was killed at the same place, and the third night the guard was doubled.

"Nothing happened there that night, nor was there anything worthy of note when the guard consisted of more than one man. But whenever the sentinel was alone he was strangled, and the same thing happened at two or three points where sentinels were stationed.

"The men had orders to fire at anything suspicious, but somehow they did not seem to have suspected anything till too late.

"One night a man went on duty, and received the usual orders to fire at anything suspicious, and to stop any man that came near him.

[Illustration: CROSSING A SMALL STREAM.]

"'I shall fire at the least thing, whether suspicious or not,' was his reply. 'If I hear a leaf rustling when I think it should not do so, I shall fire, and I hope not to be punished for it.'

"The captain said he might do exactly as he liked; and with this understanding he went to his post.

"The relief had been gone nearly an hour when the report of his gun was heard. The guard immediately went to see what was the trouble; and as they reached the place they saw the soldier dragging the body of a Bari, which was partially dressed in the skin of a hyena.

"The mystery was explained. Hyenas are so common in this part of Africa that nobody pays any attention to them, and a soldier on duty would never dream of discharging his gun at one of these beasts. The negroes had taken advantage of this circumstance to kill the guards around the camp.

"The soldier said that the relief-guard was not out of sight before he saw a hyena come over the crest of the hill close by and look in his direction. He thought nothing of the circumstance, as the hyenas were constantly prowling around the camp in search of food; the intruder imitated perfectly the motions of the creature, and he never suspected it was anything else.

"'They will laugh at me,' he said to himself, 'if I shoot at a hyena, and I shall be ridiculed all through the camp. The captain gave me permission to shoot in case a leaf rustled, or there was the least sound more than ordinary, and I should do so. But a hyena is so ordinary, and such a common sight around the camp, that I won't throw away a shot on him.'

"While thinking in this way he kept his eye fixed on the beast, which appeared to be circling slowly around, and moving in the direction of a bush close to his post. As he watched he thought he observed a step that was not exactly like that of a hyena. The creature was not more than twenty paces from him, and advancing very slowly, as it paused to turn with its nose every bit of offal, every stick and small stone that lay in its way, as if on the keen hunt for food, and paying no attention to the presence of the soldier.

"To make certain that there was no deception the soldier stamped on the ground with his foot and hissed loudly. The hyena darted back, as though frightened, but he soon reappeared in quest of food.

"'I'll fire, anyway,' said the soldier to himself; and when the hyena was again within about twenty paces he suddenly turned and discharged his rifle at the animal.

"The beast of prey shrieked in a very human manner, and instantly straightened out its limbs in a way still more human than its cry of agony had been. The soldier reloaded his rifle, and then went to look at the result of his shot.

"He found an athletic young negro, armed only with a long knife, and a strong cord a couple of yards in length. The secret was explained.

"The negro could imitate the motions of the hyena, and the animal was in the habit of coming so close to the camp that nobody gave him any attention. In this way he could get within a few feet of the soldier, and directly behind him; watching the chance to throw his cord around the sentinel's neck, he was able to strangle his victim without raising an alarm. Ever since that time the soldiers of the Egyptian service are allowed to fire at hyenas that come within twenty yards, if there is any reason to believe they are in a hostile region.

"The next night a trap was set for Mr. Hyena, in case he should come around the camp, and he fell into it. There was a report of a gun, but it was some little distance from the lines, and did not wake anybody. The hyena suffered more than anybody else.

[Illustration: AN ATTRACTION FOR A HYENA.]

"Abdul told me how it was managed, and certainly it was a trap that would catch any ordinary beast, unsuspicious of evil intentions on the part of his neighbors.

"A gun was placed at the foot of a tree, the butt resting on the ground, and the muzzle elevated at an angle of about forty degrees. It was loaded heavily, as nobody was expected to have his shoulder broken by the recoil, and then a piece of meat was placed on the muzzle, with a string attached and leading down to the trigger. The arrangement was such that the disturbance of the meat would discharge the gun and send the contents into anything that happened to be in front of the muzzle.

"A hyena came along during the night, and the result was very bad for him as he attempted to appropriate the meat, and fell a victim to his appetite. His head was nearly blown from his body, and he must have had it close to the muzzle of the weapon at the moment of the discharge.

"Nothing important happened on the second or the third day. We heard no more of any hostilities till the morning of the fourth day, when we reached a village, where only a few people were to be seen. There was not a woman or child present--always a bad sign in Africa.

"When the natives are bent on mischief, or expect trouble of any kind, they send their families out of sight. This is invariably the case when they meditate an attack on a camp. They come in under pretence of desiring to trade, and at a given signal the fight begins. Experienced travellers in Africa always observe the composition of a group of natives, and keep their rifles in readiness, if it consists only of men.

"Captain Mohammed ordered the soldiers to load their guns, and be very watchful during the march. Twenty rounds of cartridges were distributed to each man, and other cases of ammunition were ready to be opened if they should be wanted.

"A little before noon we came to a stream which it was necessary to cross by fording. The banks were lined with tall reeds, and Abdul remarked that it was an excellent place for an ambuscade. Hardly had he spoken before an arrow whizzed from the reeds and narrowly missed one of the men who was entering the water preparatory to wading over. Evidently there was trouble in store for us.

"Twenty soldiers were sent ahead to clear the way. They advanced slowly, as it was impossible to see any distance among the bushes, and it was quite possible for an enemy to be within a few feet of you without being discovered.

[Illustration: ATTACK IN AN AMBUSCADE.]

"The natives were not slow to appear, and only a few shots had been fired before a hundred dusky forms were visible, moving rapidly among the tall reeds. Each man carried a spear and a shield, and some had bows and arrows. Luckily they had not yet been able to procure fire-arms, or they might have made our march very uncomfortable.

"The rude weapons of the negro were no match for the Remington rifle, and in less than half an hour the space around the ford was cleared of our enemies. The worst feature of the business was the promise it made of delays, and perhaps a good deal of fighting, before we could reach the end of our journey.

"One of the negroes was wounded slightly in the foot, which prevented his running away, though the matter was not at all serious. He fell into our hands, and the captain at once sent for an interpreter and questioned the man as to the reason of the attack.

"The negro explained that his people, the Shoolis, had recently suffered considerably from the slave-hunters who had come to destroy their villages and carry the prisoners into slavery. Consequently war had been declared against all men coming from Khartoum or Gondokoro under the pretence of buying ivory, and our expedition would not be likely to get to the Victoria Nile without a great deal of trouble.

"This was serious news indeed, and as soon as we reached a good place for making a camp we halted and spread the tents. We wanted a spot that could be easily defended in case of attack. In order to protect ourselves we threw up a line of thorn-fences, completely inclosing the camp. There is nothing better than a fence of thorns to hold off these negroes; they wear no clothing, except an antelope-skin over the shoulders, and consequently have a profound respect for the stout thorn that grows in this country, and has a point like that of a darning-needle.

"Captain Mohammed decided to remain in camp till he could have an interview with the chief of the region through which we desired to pass. He thought he could convince the chief that we were his friends, as we had come to suppress slavery instead of protecting the business. The best way of coming to the negotiation would be to send for the chief and wait patiently till he came to camp. Luckily he was not far off, and the messengers departed immediately. According to the custom of the country they carried presents, to assure him that no treachery was intended.

"I wanted to go on a hunting excursion the next day, but the captain said he would not permit it, as it would be dangerous. The natives would certainly attack me, and they had every advantage, by the facility with which they could conceal themselves in the grass or behind the trees.

[Illustration: TWO OF OUR PORTERS.]

"So there was nothing to do but wait and keep within our lines. Fortunately, we did not have a long delay, as the hostile chief was easily found, and came to camp a little past noon--a promptness not at all characteristic of his country. I was permitted to be present at the interview, and observed the dress and manners of the chief.

"He was a finely formed man, about fifty years old, well built and muscular, and evidently in robust health. The Shoolis are not as tall in stature as the Shillooks or Dinkas, but have better figures. Sir Samuel Baker calls the men of the tribe the best proportioned that he saw in Africa, and other travellers confirm his opinion. The women are rather short in stature, but equally muscular with the men.

[Illustration: ANTELOPE OF THE SHOOLI COUNTRY (FEMALE).]

"The dress of the chief consisted of an antelope-skin thrown across his shoulders, and covering the lower part of his body like a scarf. This is the usual garment of the Shoolis, and, as the tribe is a numerous one, and the clothing does not last long, there is a great slaughter of antelopes every year to keep up the supply. The chief's followers were clad exactly like himself; but his robe was larger and finer than the rest, and he carried a spear with a tuft of feathers at the end, the weapons of his followers being without decoration.

[Illustration: ANTELOPE OF THE SHOOLI COUNTRY (MALE).]

"They all came, to the number of twenty or more, to the tent of the captain; and as there were nearly as many of ourselves at the conference, the tent was not large enough to hold us. So we adjourned to the shade of a tree outside, where a carpet was spread for the chief, while his followers stretched upon the grass around him. Captain Mohammed, his two aids, and myself sat in camp-chairs directly in front of the chief, and the interpreters and the dragoman stood near us.

"The conference opened by a statement of grievances by the chief, who said that the slave-dealers had plundered his villages and carried away his people, and he had determined to prevent farther intrusion if possible. To this end he had ordered that all the roads entering his territory should be guarded, and any men who ventured to come in from the north should be driven back. He was acting in accord with the tribes farther south, and also with the more powerful Kaba Rega, King of Unyoro. War had not actually been declared; but, unless there was a certainty of better treatment by the merchants from Gondokoro, they would admit no more Egyptians, and the posts at Fatiko and Foueira would be attacked.

"His story took some time in the narration, on account of the necessity of frequent pauses to allow the interpreter to translate. As soon as he had finished Captain Mohammed replied with the assurance that the Egyptians were friends of the Shoolis, and the great desire of the Khedive at Cairo was to put an end to slavery and the slave-trade.

"The chief was not altogether pleased with this reply, as his people have no particular objection to the slave-trade, so long as it is conducted without violence, and especially when they are the gainers thereby. If they could be protected while plundering their neighbors and making prisoners to sell on their own account, they would regard slavery as a divine institution; but when the tables are turned and the Shoolis are the prisoners and the merchandise, the matter has a different aspect. It reminds me of the school-boy story of the goring of the ox.

"Captain Mohammed saw how his speech was received, and therefore, like a wily Arab, hastened to change it. He assured the chief that we had not come to disturb them, but to protect them from all enemies, white and black alike, and that as long as the power of Egypt was recognized the Shoolis should not be carried into slavery.

"This was more agreeable to the views of the savage, and the negotiations went on more smoothly.

"Coffee was served, and the chief drank it eagerly. A second and then a third cup was handed to him, and the beverage had the effect of making him more inclined to listen to reason. The result was that the terms of peace were arranged, and the captain and the chief became 'blood brothers.' Blood brotherhood is a peculiarity of Africa, and is described by Livingstone, Baker, and other explorers.

"The men who are to become related in this way make slight punctures in each others arms, and then swallow a drop of the blood that flows from the wound. The ceremony is not a pleasing one to look at, and I do not care to be present a second time. It occupied only a few moments, and quite likely both parties were glad to have it over as soon as possible.

"The chief agreed to order his people to cease hostilities; but, as it would take a certain time to convey the intelligence through his country, it would be best for us to wait a couple of days where we were. The captain protested that the delay would be inconvenient, as we had a good many mouths to feed, and the consumption of provisions was serious.

"'I will show you how to get fresh provisions,' said the chief. 'There is to be a grand hunt to-morrow, and you shall see it, and have a share of the proceeds.'

"Then he told us that the hunt was to come off the next day, a few miles to the east of our camp, and he invited us to go. I was very glad he did so, as it gave me a chance to see something of which I had read in Baker's account of his expedition, as well as in the works of other travellers. The Shoolis are great hunters; in fact, their country is so full of game that they have every reason to be fond of the chase."

CHAPTER XIII.

FRANK ON A HUNTING EXCURSION.--DRIVING THE PLAIN WITH FIRE.

While we were getting ready for the hunt Abdul told me something that rather surprised me. He said the game-laws of Africa were as exact as those of England, at least in many parts of the country, and that their infringement often led to severe punishment. There are large areas of country, with very few inhabitants, which are much like the game-preserves in England. The animals run at large, and are undisturbed except at certain seasons of the year, when the grand hunts take place. Then the natives assemble for the chase, and the hunt is conducted on a grand scale. The ground is the property of certain chiefs or large owners, and a part of the proceeds of the hunt belongs to them.

"In this region the favorite mode of hunting is by means of nets. Every man has a net of strong cord. It is about forty feet long and eleven feet deep, with meshes six inches square. The hunt is under the direction of a chief, who arranges and controls it from beginning to end, and everybody is subject to his orders.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE HEAD-MAN.]

"Several days before the hunt the big drum is sounded in the village of the chief of the tribe, to call the head-men of the other villages together; when all are assembled the day of the hunt is announced, and the place where the people are to meet is agreed upon. Then the head-men depart, each to his own village, and the news is scattered as fast as possible.

"Sometimes a chief gives a grand entertainment before the hunt, but in this instance he didn't do so. On such occasions he slaughters several oxen for feeding his guests, and brews a large quantity of native beer for them to drink. An important personage in such affairs is the sorcerer, who secures good-luck by certain magical performances. Unless he practices his incantations it is believed that no game will run into the nets; and, besides, accidents might happen to some of the party if they did not have his good offices beforehand.

"The negro tribes of Central Africa are great believers in the power of magic. Their sorcerers are invoked frequently to discover stolen articles, to heal the sick, and perform other practical work which we usually give to the police or the doctor, and they also exercise the art of rain-makers. Perhaps you never heard of a rain-maker?

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN MAGICIAN SUPERINTENDING THE SLAUGHTERING OF AN OX.]

"Well, he is generally an old man, and carries a lot of charms about him, together with a horn or whistle, which he blows to create rain in seasons of drought, or to stop it when it falls too heavily. If the rain does as he commands it he claims all the credit; but if it does not obey he attributes his ill-luck to certain evil spirits over whom he has no control. If the person who calls him can afford it he generally orders an ox or some other animal to be killed, so that he can make his divinations after the manner of the ancient Romans, by examining the heart of the slaughtered beast. As he is sure to be presented with choice pieces of the meat, it is not improbable that he has an eye to his own welfare in issuing his commands.

"The rain-maker is held in great respect by all the people, and consequently it is well for all travellers to make friends with him at once. The chief with whom we had the interview was accompanied by his sorcerer, whose badge of office was a cow's horn, which he carried over his shoulder, and a whistle suspended from his neck. The whistle was a wooden one, of rather primitive construction, and not very loud in sound. I won the heart of the magician by giving him a hunting-whistle of bright pewter, and a little harmonicon such as you can buy at any toy-shop. The old fellow had some trouble to manage the harmonicon between his thick lips; but after a few trials he got along very well, and was evidently highly delighted with the result.

"Captain Mohammed supplemented my gift with a tin fish-horn, and then the rain-maker's joy was complete. He appeared confident of bringing rain from the ground instead of the sky, if necessary, and did not hesitate to promise a fine day for the hunt. His office has some risk about it, as he is liable to lose his place and head in case he does not make the weather to suit his chief; though he can generally excuse himself in the way I have related by attributing the failure to the influence of evil spirits.

[Illustration: A NATIVE FERRY.]

"I am forgetting the hunt while talking about the rain-maker and his performances. We started long before daylight, having sent forward the servants to get breakfast ready on the bank of a small river that lay in our way. Some native boats were there to ferry us over, and our horses were sent to a ford a mile or more up the stream, and then brought down again to meet us at the place of breakfasting. By this plan we made a considerable saving of time, as it would have caused much delay if we had waited in camp for breakfast, and we should have had a needless ride of a couple of miles if we had crossed by the ford.

"We reached the place appointed for the rendezvous, and found hundreds of the natives there in advance of us, though it was only seven o'clock in the morning. There was a small cloud in the sky, and the old rain-maker at once set about showing us how he could drive it away. A few blasts on his tin horn and a dozen shrill notes on the pewter whistle had the desired effect: the cloud melted under the heat of the sun, and the magician looked at us with a proud and satisfied air. What might have happened if the cloud had increased and the day been a wet one, I shudder to think of, as the Shooli chief was bent on giving us a good time, and would have been sadly disappointed and very angry if the weather had been unfavorable.

"There had been no rain for some days, and under the hot sun of Central Africa the grass and ground had become quite dry. This was an important consideration, as the plan of hunting included the burning of the grass over a considerable extent of ground, so as to drive the game in the direction of the nets.

[Illustration: NET HUNTING BY THE SHOOLI TRIBE.]

"The men were all ready with their nets and spears, and at a signal they moved to the designated spot, and formed the barrier which was to stop the game. The nets were supported by sticks, and each net was attached to the adjoining one; the number was large enough to form a fence more than a mile long, and in the shape of a semicircle; each native was concealed behind his own net by means of a screen, made by tying together the tops of the grass till a sort of inverted fan was formed. When the nets had been placed, and the hunters concealed behind their screens, there was nothing to indicate the presence of man, and even the net could not be seen on account of the high grass.

"The ends of the net came to the bank of a brook about thirty feet wide, but its centre was at least a quarter of a mile from the stream. The women and children, of whom there were great numbers, formed a sort of hedge from the ends of the net for a considerable distance, in order to direct the game into the fatal snare.

"The captain and I had brought our rifles, and the chief assigned us to places behind a couple of ant-hills. We were each followed by gun-bearers with extra weapons, in case of accident to our own, and the captain cautioned me not to fire unless I was quite sure that none of the negroes were in line of my shot and liable to be hurt.

"When everything was ready the chief of the hunt blew a whistle, and the signal was repeated by a man stationed four or five hundred yards away. Then it was repeated by another and another, and so on, till it was carried at least half a dozen miles to windward.

"Ten minutes after the signal was given we saw a column of smoke rising on the horizon, and it was joined by other columns of smoke as far as we could see. Then I saw the whole plan of the hunt: the game was to be driven by the fire in our direction, and the net was to enable the hunters to use their spears. We with the rifles had been stationed far enough from the nets to prevent the possibility of our injuring any of the men behind them. The captain was opposite one of the ends, and I was near the other; and we were to shoot at anything liable to escape the nets, and especially were we to use our weapons upon lions or other dangerous beasts.

"The rule of the hunt was, that each man was to have all the game killed within the limits of his net. This seemed fair enough; but it sometimes happened that an animal speared by one hunter ran into the net of another before he fell; and this gave rise to disputes, which were appealed to the chief. Captain Mohammed said that if there was any trouble about the decision the chief took the game to himself, and thus prevented any one from feeling hurt at seeing what he considered his prize given to one of his neighbors. There is also an allowance of a hind-quarter of each animal killed to the owner of the land.

"The place where I stood was not far from the brook before mentioned; and in order that I should not be seen I stuck some bushes in the top of the ant-hill, hoping that my white hat would not scare away any of the game. The fact is, the animals on such occasions are so frightened that they pay little attention to man, but are entirely occupied with running away.

"I waited rather impatiently for a chance to shoot something. Presently an antelope came bounding over the crest of the ridge, but he was too far off for me to give him a bullet. Then came others, and I had the good-fortune to send one over.

[Illustration: DRIVING GAME BEFORE A PRAIRIE FIRE.]

"How my hand trembled as I saw a lion running almost in my direction, and felt certain he would pass near enough to give me a fine shot! I brought my rifle to my shoulder, and just as I was on the point of firing I saw a native rise from the grass directly in line beyond the prize I had marked for my own.

"I allowed the lion to pass, but took a shot at a hartbeest, and brought him to the ground. Some buffaloes turned aside, avoiding the nets, and the natives did not try to stop them. They prefer that buffaloes should give their nets a wide berth, and are not at all pleased to encounter a lion. A rhinoceros passed near where Captain Mohammed was stationed, but too far off for a shot, and he went through the net as a circus-rider passes through a paper hoop.

"I managed to shoot three antelopes and as many hartbeests before the smoke became so thick that it was difficult for me to see. I wondered what I would do when the fire reached me, but did not have any occasion to trouble myself about it. The flames reached the brook and then stopped, and in a little while the smoke blew away, and left the ground all blackened by the fire that had passed over it.

"The hunt was fairly successful, and nobody had any reason to complain, as the natives got enough antelopes to supply them for some time. Captain Mohammed killed six; and these, with what I had shot, were a good addition to our supplies. The chief said the meat belonged to us by right, as the animals would have escaped the net from running so far to one side. Some of the antelopes seemed to understand the business; they had been hunted that way so often that when they reached the bank of the brook and saw the people, they knew the net was on the other side, and did not cross. They turned and ran either down or up the stream, and took the chances of being speared or shot while escaping.

"We had the meat taken to camp after delivering to the owner of the land the quarter which was his right. Instead of taking a fourth of each animal, according to the custom of the country, he accepted one whole antelope out of four, which amounted to exactly the same thing, and saved the trouble of division. We sent to the chief several presents, which were more than the equivalent for the game we secured--at least, they must have been so in his eyes, though in reality their value was very small. There was a large knife, such as you can buy in the shops for half a dollar, and several pieces of jewellery--not made at Tiffany's. He was much pleased with his gifts, and we are convinced that his friendship is secure.

"Many natives came into camp the next day, and sometimes they were so numerous that their visits were a little irksome. We managed to amuse them by getting out a mechanical organ, which was wound up as fast as it ran down, so that we had a steady strain of music through the entire day.

"We had several popular airs played by the organ, and probably it was the first time they were ever heard among the Shoolis. It made no difference what was performed, and the negroes were equally delighted with the grand march from 'Faust,' or Little Buttercup from 'Pinafore.' Several times they formed a circle and danced to the music; they did not keep step with any sort of exactness, and their dancing was little more than an excited whirl. I realized the force of what Stanley and other explorers have said, that a band of music would be better than a company of sharpshooters for escorting a traveller through the greater part of the 'Dark Continent.'

[Illustration: THE RIVER BANK.]

"In the afternoon I went to a river a mile or so from camp, intending to catch some fish. The banks of the stream were covered with reeds for quite a distance back on each side, and the only way of getting to the surface was by means of a narrow channel through the reeds to the cleared ground. A canoe made from the trunk of a tree was the only conveyance, and as it was not capable of carrying more than four persons, and was very easily overturned, I did not think it wise to venture out. So I returned fishless, but had the satisfaction of shooting a couple of birds on the way back. They had a marked resemblance to the guinea-fowl of Africa, having a tuft on the top of the head and a tail which spreads like a fan. They appeared on our table at dinner, and were a toothsome addition to our larder.

[Illustration: FRANK'S BIRD.]

"True to our arrangement with the chief, we resumed our march on the second morning after the hunt, and found no farther opposition, though we did not relax our vigilance in the least degree. The rifles of the men were loaded and ready for work, and each soldier had the same number of cartridges as before. It is a rule of African explorers to trust to no promises on the part of a native farther than the moment they are made. Undoubtedly we do injustice to many by following this rule, but if there is any mistake it is on the side of safety. There is so much treachery among them that, sooner or later, the man who gives them his confidence is liable to betrayal. It was the invariable custom of Stanley to sleep in his own tent or hut, and never accept the invitation to be lodged by any chief or king whom he happened to be visiting.

"In the afternoon of our march we started several antelopes and other game animals, but they were so frightened at our appearance that they ran away as fast as antelopes can possibly run. I can't say what speed they made, but it was altogether too much for us to think of following.

[Illustration: ROCKY HILLS.]

"The country here is very pretty, not heavily wooded and not a level plain; there are hills in the distance, both on the east and west, and in the south is a chain of mountains that seem to threaten to stop our march. Sometimes we cross open areas of a mile or more, with a few trees scattered here and there, and again we come to stretches of forest of a density that would require a path to be cut if one did not already exist.

"There are a good many brooks and tiny rivers running through the region, so that it is well watered, and the traveller is in no danger of suffering from thirst. Some of the streams are sluggish and run through marshy ground, but the most of them remind you of an American brook gliding over sand and pebble, and occasionally rippling merrily down a rapid descent. I never supposed there was such a temperate region in Africa; but when I remember that we are four thousand feet above the level of the sea, and on the great plateau of Central Africa, my surprise ceases.

[Illustration: GREAT ROCK NEAR THE CAMP.]

"One of our camps was made under the shelter of a great rock, which had a deep pool on the surface. We could hardly believe the story till we climbed the rock and saw for ourselves, and there, sure enough, was the pool.

"'There is a rock just like this on the route to Zanzibar,' said Abdul, 'and it was visited by Cameron in his journey across Africa.'

"'Yes,' said the captain, 'and there is the same story about that rock as there is of the one we are on.'

"'What is that?' I asked.

"'They say that an elephant was once drowned in the pool while attempting to drink from it.'

"I looked around, and quietly remarked to Captain Mohammed that I could hardly believe an elephant was ever drowned in the pool.

"'Oh, certainly,' he answered. 'The water is very deep, and an elephant might easily be drowned in it.'

"'Of course that might be,' I replied, 'provided the elephant was here. But will you explain how he could climb up this rock, which is steeper than the roof of a house, and has required us to use both feet and hands to ascend?'

"The captain said he never thought of that, and quite agreed with me that no elephant could be drowned in the pool. Then we went down by the same path we had ascended. I slipped in the descent, and had an ugly fall, but fortunately was caught by one of the soldiers who accompanied us. If he had not been where he could grasp me I should have been fortunate to escape without serious injury.

[Illustration: PECULIAR TABLE-ROCK IN THE BARI COUNTRY.]

"Speaking of high and curious rocks, I am reminded of one in the Bari country, which was visited by Baker Pacha.

"It is near the base of a mountain called Regiaff, and consists of a large, flat stone supported on a pedestal, very much like the centre-table of a parlor in America. It is a slab of syenite that must have become detached as the mountain decomposed. It is so large that the natives often seek shelter beneath it from the rain or the noonday sun, and their cattle find it a comfortable resting-place. The pedestal is of clay, and the broad roof over it protects it from the weather, so that it has remained unharmed for many centuries.

"The natives have a superstition that any one who sleeps beneath this stone will die in a short time. The belief probably arose from some one having been killed by the fall of a fragment from the lower surface. Several large pieces are partly detached, and a very slight disturbance would cause them to tumble to the ground.

"The measurement of this wonderful stone is as follows:

Ft. In. Length of slab 45 4 Breadth of slab 45 8 Thickness from above to below 4 9 Height from ground 10 5 Diameter of clay pedestal 23 0

"The same formation of rock as the one above described can be seen at Monument Creek, in the neighborhood of Manitou, Colorado. When the earth beneath the slab is partly worn away the stone protects it from the weather, and thus these natural tables are formed. The pedestals of the Manitou table-rocks are formed of a coarse sandstone, while the tables are of mica schist. Both of them are subject to the action of the elements, and since the country has been known to the white man there has been a considerable disintegration of the rocks. Some of them are quite large, but I never heard of one equalling that at Regiaff."

CHAPTER XIV.

ARRIVAL AT FATIKO.--THE MARCH CONTINUED.--FRANK'S ANTELOPE HUNT.

While the party was in camp, waiting for the order to move, the conversation naturally turned on previous experiences of travellers in the same region.

Abdul said the Shoolis were generally regarded as a friendly race. They usually treated travellers kindly, and welcomed the peaceable merchant who brought goods to exchange for ivory. They had suffered frequently from the raids of slave-dealers, and their occasional hostility to strangers arose from this fact.

They are a credulous people, under ordinary circumstances, and sometimes can be made to believe things that are not to their advantage. For example, at the time of Baker's expedition for suppressing the slave-trade the slave-dealers managed to convince the Shoolis that the real object of Baker was to capture the whole tribe and carry it into captivity. In this way they brought about an alliance between the Shoolis and themselves, and made an attack upon Baker, with the intention of destroying his entire force.

"This was the way of it," said Abdul. "The slave-dealers had a camp near Fatiko, and were pretending to be doing as Baker wished, but all the time they were plotting against him. They had gathered quite a band of natives, and when Baker approached with only his little company of the so-called 'Forty Thieves' they felt confident of destroying them.

"Baker sent one of his officers to demand that Aboo Saood, the chief of the slave-dealers, should come to him and explain certain things. The chief said he would do nothing of the sort, and sent back an insulting message. Thereupon Baker advanced with his men to within two or three hundred yards of the slavers' camp.

"There he stopped, and sent another messenger, who was insulted, as the other had been. As he left the camp some of the slavers fired several shots in the direction of 'The Forty,' so that there was no doubt of their intentions.

[Illustration: BAKER'S BATTLE WITH THE SLAVE-DEALERS.--CHARGE OF THE EGYPTIAN SOLDIERS.]

"This was enough. The bugler was ordered to sound the charge, and away went the line of trained soldiers right in the direction of the group of tents that formed the camp. The slave-dealers and their allies opened fire upon the column, and it looked for a few moments as if they would all be cut down before reaching the camp.

"Not a man halted or hesitated. They kept straight on, and the battle was over in less time than it would take you to write the story I am telling. The soldiers burned the huts, and made complete work before they stopped; they captured three hundred cattle and all the goods belonging to the camp, and released half as many slaves. Not a soldier of the forty was killed, and only seven of them were wounded.

"One of the first shots fired at the slave-dealers was by Baker himself; it was aimed at one of the hostile chiefs, Wat-el-Mek, and the bullet cut off one of the fellow's fingers, and destroyed the gun he had in his hands. He was taken prisoner, and brought into camp, and a more thoroughly frightened man was never seen.

"Wat-el-Mek declared that he had only acted under the orders of Aboo Saood, and supposed he was doing right. He carried a great many charms about him, and believed they were certain to protect him from harm. He had been in a hundred fights before, and never received so much as a scratch. His superstitious nature led him to believe that his injury was due directly to Divine interposition, which was the only thing that could have power over his charms and incantations.

"The story went about among the officers and soldiers that Baker had determined to cut off the man's finger and smash his rifle, but not to kill him, in order to bring him over to the side of the government and make him useful in future. At any rate, this was the result; he promised to behave properly if allowed to live, and therefore Baker pardoned him, and dressed the wounded hand, so that it healed in a little while. The fellow kept his word, and was always on the side of the government after that.

"Wat-el-Mek immediately set about organizing a small army of natives to co-operate with Baker, and a few days later he captured one of the slave-dealers' camps, and seized all the arms and ammunition it contained. In this way he proved of great assistance; and as he was very influential with the natives he soon had them under control, and the country became peaceful. The slave-dealers found they could not cope successfully with the Egyptians, and wisely abandoned the attempt."

[Illustration: CROSSING A PLAIN.]

Many of the Shoolis accompanied the party when it moved from camp, so that the procession was a long one. Where the country was level and open the column extended for nearly a mile, and Frank devoted some of his leisure time to making sketches of the scene. Whenever the bugle was sounded for any purpose the natives in hearing immediately formed a circle for a dance; and during the halts in the middle of the day or in camp in the evening they were perpetually asking for music. The bugler blew himself hoarse in his efforts to supply their demands, and there was a prospect at one time that even the music-box would go on a "strike," and refuse to do duty any longer. Happily, it held out, and Frank said it was a fortunate circumstance that the organ was inanimate, and therefore incapable of weariness.

There is a post called Fatiko, at the edge of the Shooli country, and Captain Mohammed said they would halt there for a day to rest the men. Frank was not at all disinclined to the slight delay, as it would give him an opportunity to look at the first fort ever built in this part of Africa. He displayed some impatience to get there, and would have gone on in advance of the column, if it had been entirely proper and safe to do so.

Fort Fatiko was built by Baker Pacha, as a defence against the natives, and as a menace to the slave-dealers. The natives were opposed to its establishment at first, but soon took very kindly to it when they found the Egyptian troops were their friends, and moreover were good customers for the grain and other things they had for sale.

[Illustration: FORT FATIKO.]

The fort was about five hundred feet square, and consisted of a strong embankment or earthwork on three sides, while the fourth was a high rock, which was rendered inaccessible on its farther side. The powder magazine and storehouses were on this rock, and there was a flag-staff on the summit, so that the Egyptian colors were visible for a long distance. There was a road from each of the three sides of the earthwork, but none from the rock; so that all entrance and exit was through the heavy embankment. On the southern side of the rock there was a strong _zeriba_, where the cattle were driven at night; and outside the fort in every direction were fields of grain and garden vegetables, which were cultivated by the garrison or by the natives. Every soldier was allowed a small plot of ground for his own use, and the men were encouraged to add to their scanty pay by the promise of good payment for whatever they could raise in their gardens.

[Illustration: GROUND-PLAN OF THE FORT.]

The garrison consisted of fifty regular soldiers from Khartoum, and about a hundred irregulars, under the command of a native chief. The former were armed with Remington rifles, while the irregulars were equipped with the ordinary muskets, such as the merchants bring to the country. The irregulars were not considered entirely trustworthy, and therefore it was not advisable to give them anything but inferior weapons. As long as they were faithful they would be more than a match for twice or thrice their number of the natives that surrounded them, as their muskets could speedily overpower the spears of the latter, and, in the event of their treachery, the Remington rifles would soon make an end of the muskets and the men who held them.

[Illustration: VIEW FROM THE ROCK-FORT OF FATIKO.]

Frank climbed to the top of the rock-fort of Fatiko, and found that the view from it was singularly striking. The ground away to the south was a level plain, broken here and there by masses of granite similar to the one on which he stood. The nearest of these was almost large enough to entitle it to be called a mountain. A little village was nestled against its base, and between the village and the fort was the pasture, or one of the pastures, of the stock belonging to the garrison. Goats and sheep occupied the nearest portion of the ground, and beyond them were the horned cattle and horses, grazing under the care of their herders, and protected by a guard detailed for that purpose.

On the top of the rock there was a platform of considerable extent, its edge forming a natural rampart, which was a perfect defence against the negroes, with their barbaric weapons. Of course it would be of little consequence against artillery; but there is not the remotest chance of artillery being brought to bear against it, for the simple reason that the natives have nothing of the kind, and no knowledge of the processes of working metals beyond that of smelting iron-ore and shaping it into spear-heads and the like.

A soldier was on duty on the top of the rock, with instructions to report any approach of caravans, or even of small groups of men, from whatever direction. The arrival of the escort from Gondokoro made quite a sensation among the members of the garrison, and those who received permission came out on the road to meet the new-comers; in fact, everybody had left except the sentinel on the summit and the men who had been detailed to relieve him, and Frank thought, under the circumstances, it would not have been hard work for him to take the fort, with Abdul's assistance, and keep it for his own use. But he wisely considered that he would not know what to do with a fort if he had one. It would be worse than a "white elephant" on his hands, and so he gave the matter no farther thought, and let the stronghold of Fatiko remain in Egyptian hands.

Frank ascertained that the fort was 3587 feet above the level of the sea, and about 300 feet higher than the flat country, which began a few miles farther on. Captain Mohammed told him that from that point to the Somerset River the region was sparsely settled, and they would not encounter many natives. There was no reason to fear hostilities, though it was reported at the post that the King of Unyoro was at war with one of his neighbors, and the difficulties between these native monarchs might possibly make travelling a trifle unsafe.

"The King of Unyoro," said the captain, "is friendly to nobody; he is treacherous to strangers as well as to neighbors, and, while professing friendship, is quite likely to be plotting your ruin. He has been taught several severe lessons, which have made him more respectful, though no more friendly, than before.

"Speke and Grant were detained some time in Unyoro, and were obliged to use considerable strategy to get away when they did. Since their visit a new king is on the throne, but he is much like the former one, though not so great a beggar. The old king compelled Speke to give him his watch and chain, and many other things of his personal belongings, in addition to the presents they had brought him as tribute to an African ruler."

"I remember," said Frank, "reading in Speke's account of his travels how the King of Unyoro kept demanding one thing after another, and finally asked for the finger-rings that Grant was wearing. Everything that was shown to him he begged for at once, and the only way to silence him was by saying that in their country the king does not beg, like a common man.

[Illustration: CAMP WHERE SPEKE WAS DETAINED.]

"He visited their tents one day, and everything he saw he admired, and what he admired he wanted at once. It made no difference whether an article would be of any use to him or not: he probably reasoned that if it was valuable to the white man it must be good, and therefore he coveted it. One of the most mysterious things to him was a pocket-compass, as he had been told by his officers that it was a magic horn, by which the white man could travel anywhere."

"Yes," replied the captain; "the compass has never ceased to be a wonder to the negroes in the interior of Africa; we are careful not to let them know its principles, and it is not at all surprising that they cannot comprehend it.

"Once when I was among the people of the Bahr-el-Azrek I obtained great control over the chief by the use of the compass. I told him I knew how to direct myself in the darkest night or in the thickest forest, and left him to suppose it was done by supernatural aid.

"He disbelieved me; and I then offered to prove the truth of my assertion. I was to go out in the middle of the plain near his village, and there be placed under a canopy and blindfolded. His men might walk me around in a circle, or in any other way, for a quarter of an hour, and then remove the bandage while I was under the canopy in such a way that I could not look out. With a magic stone in my hand I would walk in any direction he indicated, and if I failed I was to forfeit a large amount of cloth and other things that in Africa are equivalent to money.

"All was arranged to suit the ideas of the chief, and he effectually prevented my seeing the sun or getting any other indication of my position. When the bandage was removed I simply looked in my hand, where the pocket-compass was partially concealed, and as he asked the direction of the sun I indicated it to him, and also the course I would take to return to the village. He could not understand it; and as I allowed him to believe that I worked by magic he had a great respect for me from that moment."

The expedition left Fatiko the second morning after its arrival, and continued on its journey to the south. Frank observed that the country was in many places flat and covered with tall grass, a change that was not at all agreeable after the undulating region through which they had been travelling. Abdul said that in the rainy season these flat areas became marshes, through which it was not at all easy to force one's way. "You have to do a great deal of wading," said he, "and sometimes the feet of the porters and animals of a caravan convert the road into a mass of mud. This was the case when Colonel Long made his journey to Ugunda; he frequently fell into mud-holes so deep that he was completely covered and plastered from head to foot, and when he went into camp at night there wasn't a dry or clean thread about him."

This region is a favorite hunting-ground of the natives, as it contains few inhabitants, and the wild animals that roam over it are allowed to have their own way, except in the season of the chase. Hunting can only be carried on in the dry season, as neither animals nor man can get about when the rains are falling. The country abounds in game, from the largest size downward. Herds of elephants are numerous, though less so than formerly, owing to the persistency of the hunters and the improved methods of killing the huge beasts since the invention of elephant-rifles and explosive balls.

An accident to some of the baggage caused a detention of a couple of hours, and Frank improved the opportunity to go on a tramp of a mile or more, in the hope of bagging something in the way of game.

Just as he was ready to turn about to go back to camp he saw a couple of horns above the grass, and, looking closely, traced out the animal to which they belonged. Motioning to Abdul and the gun-bearer who accompanied them to keep perfectly quiet, he crept noiselessly forward, and soon obtained a good position for an effective shot.

He fired, and the animal, after giving a single bound in the air, tumbled to the ground. While Frank paused to reload Abdul ran forward and secured the prize.

[Illustration: N'SAMMA ANTELOPE.]

"It's a N'samma antelope," said he, "one of the finest of the many varieties of antelope in Africa. It is well known to hunters in all the equatorial regions wherever there are wide plains, and is closely allied to the hartbeest, which belongs farther south, but is not uncommon here."

"Yes," responded Frank, "we saw one on the day of the great hunt with the Shoolis, and I thought this was the same kind of animal when I spied his horns through the grass."

"The name hartbeest was given to him by the Dutch colonists of the Cape of Good Hope," said Abdul, "and the proper name for it is kaama. In scientific works the hartbeest of South Africa is called the _Antilope caama_, while that of the central and northern regions is the _Antilope bubalis_."

Frank was rather taken aback by this display of scientific knowledge on the part of his dragoman. He had found the dragoman unusually intelligent for his profession, but this dissertation on natural history was beyond his expectations. He learned, on inquiry, that Abdul had been using his spare time in examining the books in Frank's possession, and his latest achievement had been to read up on the antelope question.

The gun-bearer was sent to bring help for transporting the antelope to camp; but he had not gone far when he met half a dozen men, who had been sent out to see if their services were wanted. Captain Mohammed knew the country was full of game, and told the men to start immediately on hearing Frank's shot.

"Keep a sharp lookout for something more than an antelope," said Abdul at starting, repeating the caution as they set out for the return.

"It was not far from here," he continued, "that Sir Samuel Baker had a narrow escape from the jaws of a lioness.

"He was out with a party of natives, who were driving the prairie with fire, as we did the other day among the Shoolis, and had half a dozen of the people near him, armed only with spears.

"While his attention was drawn toward an antelope that was moving in his direction, and promising to give him a good shot, he suddenly discovered a large lioness rising out of the grass within a few yards of the less dangerous animal. She came straight toward his position, and he made ready to fire.

"When she was within forty yards or so he fired, and rolled her over in the grass; but she was up again in a moment, and charged at two of the negroes, who managed to evade her jaws.

"Then he fired again at her, and an officer who was with him did likewise; but all the lead they poured into her sides did not kill her. She lay down in the grass so that she could not be seen. Her loud growling revealed her position, and the natives proposed to go with their spears and stir her up, if Baker would stand by with his guns and shoot on the first opportunity.

"Baker would not consent to this, as it would place the spearmen in great danger, since the lioness would certainly charge upon them the instant a spear was thrown. They sought for the beast, and at length saw a yellowish mass, into which Baker fired a charge of buckshot, intended for small antelopes.

[Illustration: CHARGE OF A LIONESS.]

"She sprung out, with a terrific roar, and Baker managed to put in a couple of shots, but without stopping her. Everybody had to run to keep out of her reach, and she again disappeared in the grass. Baker then went in search of her. She was sitting up like a dog, and happened to be looking in a direction opposite to the side on which he approached. He crept to within twelve yards of her before firing, and this shot at close quarters finished the work. She was an unusually large animal, and her fierceness was quite in proportion to her size."

"It was very brave of the natives to offer to go to where she lay in the grass and throw their spears," Frank remarked.

"It certainly was," replied Abdul. "Many of these Africans are very brave, while others display a good deal of cowardice. The Shoolis, for example, will attack any animal that comes in their way, and, as they are armed only with spears, they must act at very close quarters to use their weapons. Occasionally they have severe accidents in their hunting excursions, and sometimes when a lion runs into their nets he kills or wounds several of his assailants before he is despatched or escapes."

They reached the camp without farther incident, and in a little while the men came bringing the meat which was obtained in the morning hunt. The most of the column was already on the road, and it took only a few minutes to divide the quarters of the antelope among the porters and send them to follow the rest. They were instructed to go at once to the place selected for the noonday halt and deliver their burdens to the chief cook. That individual understood his business, and Frank made up his mind for a savory stew when the hour for luncheon should arrive.

During the march an antelope fell to the rifle of the captain, and Frank managed to get a shot at another, but without effect. A herd of elephants was seen to the east of their route, but too far away to render it advisable to pursue them. The wind was blowing from the herd, and not toward it; had it been otherwise the elephants would have taken the alarm almost as soon as the column appeared, and the prospect of reaching them would have been exceedingly doubtful. Like many other wild animals, the elephant can "take the scent" of man at a surprisingly long distance, and when he obtains it he generally loses no time in seeking a place of safety.

CHAPTER XV.

AN ELEPHANT HUNT.--CROSSING THE VICTORIA NILE.--ARRIVAL AT FOUEIRA.--KING RIONGA AND HIS PEOPLE.

The camp was made at the edge of a forest, and the guides said that the next day's march would be through a wooded country. In most places the jungle was very dense, and Frank found it impossible to make much headway when he ventured from the path. There was a thick undergrowth of vines and small bushes, which made an excellent hiding-place for all but the largest animals, and Frank was not surprised to learn that the woods were full of game. "Only you can't make game of it," said Abdul, "because it gets away so easily. A wild beast in this forest will see you long before you can possibly see him, and if he chooses to do so he can easily get out of your way."

From the forest to the open country again was a pleasant change, but the guide lost the way once in crossing a plain, and they were obliged to retrace their steps for a couple of hours. While they were feeling in ill-humor at the consequent loss of time one of the scouts reported a herd of elephants a mile or so to windward, and the captain at once determined to try his hand among them.

Frank and Abdul were sent to the right of where the herd was feeding, while Captain Mohammed and his gun-bearer went to the left. The plain was covered with long grass, and there were many small mounds, with shrubs on their crests, so that they formed admirable places for concealment. Frank obtained a good position behind one of the mounds, and the captain was similarly placed, a quarter of a mile away. We will let Frank tell the story:

"A couple of men had been sent away to the rear of the herd to drive them in our direction, and we had just fairly settled into our positions, when the elephants caught the scent of the drivers and begun to move. Unfortunately for me, they went in the line of the captain, and I had to sit still without firing a shot. But what I missed the captain gained, and perhaps he gained more than he wanted.

[Illustration: A DANGEROUS POSITION.]

"Five or six elephants advanced directly toward him, and when they were not more than forty yards away he fired at the largest. The shot had the effect of alarming the herd greatly, but without bringing down anything. The wounded elephant whirled about and roared, and then stood still among his companions, to see where the danger came from.

"The smell of the powder revealed that their assailant was at the foot of the mound in front of them, and immediately the herd gathered in line and prepared to charge. The captain and his gun-bearer would have been trampled to death in a moment if the elephants had made their charge, and he was certainly in an awkward predicament.

"They stood in a sideway position, so that he didn't have a fair shot at the foreheads of any of them. Unless you hit an African elephant square in the centre of the forehead there is little hope of killing him. The captain's only safety was in frightening them, and so he fired at the sides of their heads, and let off two shots in quick succession. This had the effect of turning them round, and drove them to where I was concealed in the tall grass, at the foot of another mound.

"I ran the same risk as the captain, but with the difference that the elephants were frightened and making a straight course over my position in order to get away. Abdul sprung to his feet and fired, and so did I; and then we shouted, and kept the shots going, one after the other, till we made a greater panic even than the captain had created.

"The herd turned again and went back over the plain, and we were safe for the time. I wanted to follow them up, and so did the captain; but time did not permit, and we returned to the column, which had been resting by the roadside while we were absent on our unsuccessful hunt."

Just before dusk, when the caravan halted to go into camp, a solitary elephant was seen leisurely feeding in the grass not more than three hundred yards from the road. Frank wanted to have a shot at him, but his proposal was vetoed by Captain Mohammed as a dangerous performance.

"Don't go near him," said the captain; "he is a 'rogue' elephant, and one of the most dangerous of his class."

[Illustration: FRANK'S DISCOVERY: A "ROGUE" ELEPHANT.]

Frank remembered hearing about rogue elephants in Ceylon and India, and asked if there was any difference between the Asiatic and the African elephant in this particular.

"Not much," was the reply; "though, perhaps, the African when he becomes a rogue is a trifle more vicious than his Asiatic brother. He is an elephant that has become separated from his herd and is obliged to roam by himself. No other elephant will associate with him, and he is an outcast, who can never hope for restoration to elephantine society. He is far bolder than any member of a herd, and is always a male, and one of the finest of his kind. Where another elephant would run away he will stand up and fight, and his sagacity is quite equal to his strength and courage."

Frank wished to know why the elephant became a rogue, or solitary wanderer, and he also asked from what the designation came.

"He is called a 'rogue' in English," was the reply, "because that is the literal translation of his Indian, Cingalese, and African name. He is a rogue because of his viciousness and his destructive ways: he comes into the plantations of the natives and destroys wantonly all that he cannot eat. Ordinary herd elephants will go away when they have satisfied their appetites, but a rogue will break down fruit-trees and trample whole acres of rice or other growing things solely for the pleasure of destroying them. It is a common remark that one rogue will do more damage than a dozen herd elephants.

"India is a country, as you know, where caste prevails among the people, and when a man does certain things, many of them trivial in our eyes, he loses his rank, or caste. For some things he may be reinstated on payment of a fine, which is proportioned to the extent of his offence; but for others there is no restoration, and he remains a pariah, or outcast, till his death.

"The people of India say that a rogue elephant has done something that drives him from his caste, and something for which there is no restoration. He may graze in the neighborhood of a herd, but under no circumstances will he be admitted to their company; even if he happens to be driven into a corral and entrapped with them he remains an outcast. While they are trembling with fear and clasping their trunks in expressions of grief, charging at the fence of the corral and making every effort to escape, they will have nothing to do with the rogue. They drive him away and refuse to permit him to enter their circle, and when he is bound and dragged off helpless they will assail him unless he is kept at a respectful distance.

"So don't venture near that rogue elephant," the captain continued, "as he would turn upon you if your shot was not instantly fatal, and you could not hope to get off as easily as we did from the whole herd of honest ones."

As they approached the Somerset River, or Victoria Nile, the ground became low and marshy, with long stretches of jungle and high grass that made it impossible to see more than a few yards in any direction, except upward at the sky. Even then there was not always a clear view, as the papyrus plants bent over the path and enclosed the travellers in a sort of natural arch. The opposite or south bank was higher, and consisted of a series of bluffs, which promised a firm footing. The swamp or marsh was exceedingly difficult for the horses; they sunk into the mud at every step, and two or three times Frank was obliged to dismount to allow his steed to extricate itself from a mud-hole. One of the dismountings was much more sudden than agreeable, as the youth was pitched over the animal's head without the least warning.

On the opposite bank was the military post of Foueira, the last station of the Egyptian troops in Central Africa, and on the borders of the territory of the King of Unyoro. It was the destination of Captain Mohammed and his company of soldiers, and for the present the destination of Frank Bassett. As Frank looked across the river--about a thousand feet in width--he saw a group of conical huts, surrounded by a stockade, and displaying the Egyptian flag from the summit of the central hut. A little to the left was another group of huts; and as a couple of elephants were standing near it Frank concluded that the second enclosure must be the stable for the huge beasts.

Several boats were at hand for ferrying the party over the river, but a difficulty arose concerning the transit of the horses.

The Nile was full of hippopotami and crocodiles, both of them dangerous enough, and the latter particularly so. To attempt to swim the horses over would have been certain death to them, as the crocodiles would have welcomed the animals as rare material for a feast. There was no raft provided for carrying them, and the only boats were 'dug-outs,' hollowed from the trunks of trees. They were simply canoes, not over three or at most four feet in width, and they shook from end to end when a man stepped into them. But unless the horses could be taken into them, there was no chance of crossing.

[Illustration: NAVIGATION UNDER DIFFICULTIES.]

Captain Mohammed ordered one of the boats to be brought close to the bank and held there as firmly as possible. Then weeds and grass were piled so as to conceal any interval between boat and shore; the captain's horse was blindfolded with a handkerchief, and, all trembling with fear, was led into the frail canoe. A man stood by his head to prevent his jumping overboard with fright, the boatman pushed away, and a soldier stood in the bow of the boat, shooting at the river-horses, to keep them at a respectful distance.

Another boat received Frank's horse, and one after another the steeds were taken over the Victoria Nile in safety. One of them struggled a little during the transit, and came near upsetting the boat, to the imminent peril of all concerned. The poor beast was soon quieted, and seemed to understand that his safety lay in his docility. As for the others, they hardly moved a muscle, except in the involuntary trembling caused by fear.

Abdul said that this part of the river was one of the most dangerous, as it was only at the peril of a man's life that he could venture near the water. Hardly a day passed that some unfortunate native was not eaten by the crocodiles, having paid with his life the penalty of carelessness. Since the post was established at Foueira the crocodiles and hippopotami have been cleared out to some extent, but the places of those that are killed are generally taken without much delay.

[Illustration: AN UNPLEASANT ACQUAINTANCE.]

The day of his arrival Frank was strolling by the river not far from the camp, when he came suddenly upon a "hippo" engaged at his breakfast. The creature was munching away at the grass as though entirely at home; when he saw the intruder he gave a loud grunt, followed by a roar, and he paused in his eating, as if uncertain what to do.

Frank was not uncertain about his duty. He remembered that he wanted to speak to Captain Mohammed about the prospects of steam navigation on the Victoria N'yanza; and as there is no time like the present for doing anything, he made the best of his way to the fort. It is intimated that he ran, and ran very fast, for the first fifty yards, but we will not be too particular in our inquiries about his movements. It is probable that the cause of his alarm retreated to the water as soon as his roar was over. The river-horse is not brave when on land, and is most to be feared in the water, as he can move therein quickly, in spite of his enormous bulk and short limbs.

[Illustration: THE VICTORIA NILE AT RIONGA'S ISLAND.]

Foueira, or Foweera, is a station established by Sir Samuel Baker, a little more than two degrees north of the equator, and was intended for the control of the portion of the annexed provinces south of the Victoria Nile. It is a short distance above Kuruma Falls, and fifteen miles below a large island known as King Rionga's. At the time the post was established there was a war in progress between Rionga and the King of Unyoro, the territory to the south. Rionga was heir to the throne, but had been set aside by the intrigues of Kabba Rega; he consequently retired to the island, where he could easily defend himself, and wait the opportunity for the proper recognition of his rights.

The Egyptians endeavored to establish amicable relations with Kabba Rega, but were unable to do so. While professing friendship, he attempted to poison them, and very nearly succeeded; and his troops made an attack upon Baker's camp at night, and came very near annihilating the whole party. Baker thereupon returned to Foueira, strengthened the place, and proceeded to make friends with Rionga. The latter was recognized as the rightful king of the country, and, in return for the recognition, he promised to do all in his power to support the Egyptian authority.

Abdul described to Frank the visit of Baker to Rionga's Island, and the ceremonies of declaring that he was the real ruler of the country.

Five large boats, hollowed from the trunks of trees, ascended the river to the foot of the island, while the soldiers of the expedition marched along the banks. A camp was formed close to the river and opposite the lower end of the island. The latter appeared to be well cultivated, and covered with fields of plantains, bananas, and other products of the country, and there was everything to indicate that the people of the throneless king were not likely to suffer for want of food.

The river in this region is bordered by forests of tropical trees, and close to the banks on either side there are dense growths of papyrus, some of the plants being fifteen or twenty feet high. It is full of the same sort of animal life as at Foueira, and therefore a bath in its waters is not to be recommended to any one who is prejudiced against occupying the stomach of a crocodile. There are several varieties of fish in the stream, but the work of taking them is not the safest in the world, on account of the abundance of the saurian monsters; consequently, the natives are not famous for their piscatorial pursuits.

It was dark before the party was all on shore, and it was not to be expected that the king could be seen that evening. The next morning a messenger went for him, carrying a present in the shape of a robe of embroidered cloth, with a tarboosh and turban. It is not customary, when calling on a king in any other country, to send him clothes to put on, but they do these things differently in Africa.

Early in the forenoon a flotilla of boats was seen on the river, and in a short time it pulled up in front of the camp. Drums were beating and horns blowing in all directions, as a signal that the great Rionga was going to see the white man, and the din was kept up till the monarch was safe on shore.

The soldiers were drawn up in line to receive him, and as he came forward, accompanied by his ministers and other great men, he was met by Baker and one of his officers. They shook hands after the European fashion; and as the king spoke Arabic the conversation was conducted without the aid of an interpreter. Of course each was very glad to see the other, and vows of friendship were interchanged; then a cow, a sheep, and a load of corn were delivered as presents from Rionga, and the king thanked Baker for the suit of clothes which had enabled him to make a decent appearance at the reception.

[Illustration: INTERVIEW BETWEEN BAKER PACHA AND RIONGA.]

The interview lasted an hour or more, as there was a good deal to be said on both sides, and it resulted in an alliance between the king on the one hand, and the government on the other. The afternoon and evening were devoted to a feast, for which the king furnished the materials, and the next morning he and Baker went through the ceremony of exchanging blood, and thereby becoming the firmest of friends. Two or three days were occupied in receiving the allegiance of several chiefs who lived in the neighborhood; and before the expedition returned to Foueira it was agreed that war should be declared against the usurper, Kabba Rega; and as soon as the dry season had set in the combined forces would move upon M'rooli, the stronghold of Rionga's enemy.

Abdul farther said that Rionga was a handsome man, of unusually good manners, and more intelligent than the majority of his race. He was copper-colored rather than black, and the same was the case with the most of his followers, who seemed warmly devoted to him. He had abandoned all the barbarous practices of the African kings, never ordering the punishment of death except for the very highest crimes, and never offering human sacrifices or shedding the blood of subjects or prisoners. His people lived chiefly on vegetable food, with the addition of fish caught in the river. They had extensive plantations of bananas and sweet potatoes; and though they had large flocks of sheep and goats, they did not eat their flesh, but were contented with the milk. The poorer classes sometimes live on ants, but do not display any particular fondness for them; they preferred the products of their gardens; and if they had plenty of bananas and plantains the ants were not disturbed.

[Illustration: WATER-BOTTLE.]

Frank asked if they had any manufactures. Abdul said they confined their skill to a few articles of pottery, and some of them were very pretty, as Frank had opportunity of learning when he looked at several specimens in possession of the commander of the post. They consisted of water-jars and pots for cooking purposes, and some of them were ornamented in a way that would have done credit to a French or English worker in pottery. Frank admired the water-bottles made from a gourd that grows in this part of Africa: it has a long and slender neck, and the outside is very tough and hard, so that it can resist a heavy blow, and is not readily devoured by the almost omnivorous ants. These gourds are found everywhere in the Unyoro and Uganda countries, and are useful for all purposes where liquids are to be carried or kept.

[Illustration: GOURDS OF DIFFERENT SHAPES.]

Abdul said these gourds are trained to take a variety of shapes. Most of them are unornamented, others decorated with black or red paints, and the necks are twisted while the gourds are green and soft. They can be softened in hot water. If broken while receiving the finishing touches the seams can be closed with thread in a style to be envied by an accomplished glove-sewer.

The pottery is made from a clay found in river-beds or at the base of the highest hills. The implements for working it are of the rudest description, and the natives are not even in possession of the potter's wheel, which has been known in Egypt and China for thousands of years. The clay is pulverized by being pounded between stones, and is then worked into a thick paste to make it sufficiently plastic. The potter shapes the mouth of a bottle, and then places it to dry in the sun. The next day he adds an inch or so, and the next day another inch, and in this way he continues the work till the article is completed.

When ready to be baked seven or eight of the bottles are placed together and covered with a pile of dry grass, which is set on fire. Only a gentle heat is needed, and wood-fires are not used, as the high temperature would crack the bottles. Captain Speke says a good workman will make four large pots in a day. Their picturesqueness and perfect shape often surprise the stranger. In some regions the pottery turns black when baked, while in others it becomes red, on account of the iron in the soil.

We will leave Frank engaged in the inspection of specimens of African workmanship, and return to Doctor Bronson and his nephew, whom we left at the head of the White Nile, beginning the exploration of the Albert N'yanza.

CHAPTER XVI.

THE ALBERT N'YANZA.--ACCOUNT OF ITS DISCOVERY.--INCIDENTS OF THE FIRST DAY'S VOYAGE.

[Illustration: LAKE SCENE IN CENTRAL AFRICA.]

The _Khedive_ was headed for the western shore of the lake, or rather she turned her prow in a westerly direction, as she steamed away from the head of the Bahr-el-Abiad, or White Nile. Doctor Bronson said that the village Magungo, at the mouth of the Victoria Nile, was not more than twenty-five miles away in the opposite direction. Frank looked with his glass, and easily made out the indentation in the shores of the lake that marked the point where the river flows into the Albert N'yanza.

As they sat on the deck, sheltered by the double awning above them, Doctor Bronson told his nephew the history of the discovery of the Albert N'yanza.

"It is very strange," said he, "that only in very recent times has any one known of the existence of this lake. Some of the negroes had told the Arab traders who used to come to Gondokoro for ivory that there was a great body of water a long distance to the south, but their accounts of it were very much confused; and farthermore, as there was no prospect that a lake would yield ivory, the traders paid little heed to the story.

"When Speke and Grant explored the Victoria N'yanza, in 1862, they heard of this lake, but were not permitted to visit it. Their information was not altogether clear, but it was sufficient to convince them that there was a body of water between the Victoria N'yanza and the lakeless Nile. They left the Somerset River, or Victoria Nile, at Kuruma Falls, a few miles below the present station of Foueira, and did not see the river again until they were between the third and fourth parallels of north latitude. They were then nearly a hundred miles below the point where we now are, and, of course, there was no place on their route where a single glimpse of the lake could be obtained.

"On February 15, 1863, they reached Gondokoro, and met Mr. Baker--the same Sir Samuel or Baker Pacha whom we have occasion to mention so often--and told him about the undiscovered lake. Baker determined to reach it if possible; and after a good deal of difficulty he succeeded in overcoming the scruples of the natives, and persuaded them to guide him to the mysterious water."

Fred asked if Mr. Baker ascended the main stream of the Nile to its head, as they had done.

"Not by any means," was the reply. "In the first place, transportation by water was out of the question, on account of the falls in the river, and also owing to the absence of suitable boats even for smooth sailing. Baker pushed southward, by land, over much the same route that Frank has now taken. He passed the Victoria Nile into the country of Unyoro, having a long and tedious journey, and finally reached the lake at a small fishing village on the eastern shore. This village is marked on the maps as Vacovia. It is of little practical consequence, but will always be an important spot to geographers.

"It was on March 14, 1864," continued the Doctor, "that Mr. Baker, who was accompanied by his wife, reached the shore of the new lake at the village I have mentioned. He gave the name of Albert N'yanza, in honor of Prince Albert, to this body of water, and the name has been accepted by all geographers, and will probably be permanent. You may therefore record in your note-book that Sir Samuel Baker was the first white man to see the lake, and that the honor of the discovery was shared by Lady Baker.

"From the point where he saw it the lake appeared to stretch out to a vast extent to the south and south-west. On the west, or opposite shore to where he stood, there was a range of mountains whose tallest peaks were about seven thousand feet in height.

"Baker was unable to explore the lake as he desired. He only made a voyage by canoes along the coast as far as the mouth of the Victoria Nile, which he ascended to Murchison Falls. From there he continued his journey by land, and did not again see the lake. He found the coast between Vacovia and Magungo bounded by high cliffs, most of them covered with trees, but frequently so steep that it would have been difficult or impossible to climb them. In some places they were almost perpendicular. If you look with your glass you can possibly make out some of these rocky headlands in the neighborhood of Magungo."

Fred turned his glass in the direction indicated, and could distinctly see several bold cliffs that seemed to overhang the lake. They extended to within a few miles of the point where the Nile emerges from the lake, when they fell off, and gave place to low and at times swampy ground.

"So much for the early history of the Albert N'yanza, which is known to the natives as the Luta N'zige. It is a hard word to pronounce, but if you throw 'n' and 'z' into one sound you can possibly manage it. In default of doing that you may call it 'Ziggee,' or fall back upon 'N'yanza,' which is much easier, and will do just as well; and if you are very old-fashioned you may drop 'N'yanza,' the African name for lake, and say you are steaming on Lake Albert, in Central Africa."

[Illustration: SCENE ON THE SHORES OF LAKE TANGANYIKA.]

Fred asked what was the relation between the Albert Lake and Lake Tanganyika. He had a general idea of the Victoria N'yanza and its geographical position, but wanted more information about the other.

"We will get to that by-and-by," said the Doctor, in reply. "Tanganyika is still a mystery, as its outlet has not been fully determined, though it is pretty definitely settled that it discharges into the Congo, or Livingstone, and has no connection with the Nile. In fact, the surveys show that it is at a lower level than the Albert N'yanza, and consequently cannot flow into it; and as the Nile does not have any affluent of consequence north of here, it is impossible that roundabout stream from Tanganyika comes to it. We will talk more about that when we reach the scenes of the exploits of Livingstone and Stanley."

As they had an abundance of time for circumnavigating the lake and reaching Magungo on the day appointed for meeting Frank, the Doctor concluded not to hurry the steamer, but make an early halt. So he told the captain to land at the first convenient spot, and they would remain there through the night.

[Illustration: A LAKE VILLAGE.]

It was at least an hour before sundown when the steamer was anchored near the shore, where a headland pushed out into the lake and afforded abundant water for safety. The small boat took Doctor Bronson and Fred to a little village close to the water. It consisted of several huts in front of a dense growth of papyrus-plants, and with a few palms rising from the firm ground beyond. The natives were alarmed at the visit of the strangers, and started to run away. They naturally took the party for a slave-stealing expedition, and concluded that their only safety was in flight.

Our friends were accompanied by two soldiers who had been detailed to remain with them during their voyage, and return with the steamer to its point of departure. As a matter of precaution, these soldiers went wherever our friends did; and as they had seen a good deal of service, and were familiar with many of the African tribes, they were useful in numerous ways besides serving as escort.

One of them shouted to the people not to run away, as no harm was intended, and to indicate that their intentions were not hostile, both the soldiers placed their guns on the ground and held up their empty hands. This caused the fugitives to pause; and, after some parleying, they were convinced of the pacific intentions of their visitors, and signified their willingness to return, provided they received a certain number of beads and hatchets as a token of friendship.

A few beads and other trinkets had been brought along from the steamer, but no hatchets. This circumstance was explained, and led to farther parleying, and finally to the establishment of friendly relations all round. The people came back to their village, the presents were delivered, and in a little while everything was harmonious.

[Illustration: LAKE FISHES OF CENTRAL AFRICA.]

Then the natives offered presents in return. They had very little to give, as they live entirely by fishing, and their gifts were limited to the products of the lake. Several fishes were brought forward, one of them an enormous fellow, weighing little if anything less than two hundred pounds, and having quite a resemblance to the sturgeon of American waters. One fish was evidently of the perch family, and another was a near relation of the bull-head, or cat-fish, of the United States. The natives said it lived in the mud at the bottom of the lake, and was caught with a long line baited with a piece of another fish, or with a large worm that abounded in the soil back of their village.

One of the fishes was said to live entirely on vegetable food, and his jaws were equipped with teeth not unlike those of a sheep. The abundance of vegetable matter in the lake evidently gave these specimens of the finny tribe an easy life of it, as they could never be at a loss for their dinners. As a result they were large and fat, and their shape did not indicate either speed or power.

"They don't have everything their own way," said the Doctor as Fred was examining the specimen. "Everything in nature has its uses, and these vegetable-eating fishes probably furnish the bulk of the food for their more voracious companions. If it were not so they would soon fill the lake, as they would have no kind of struggle for existence. But the other fishes pursue and devour them, so that their numbers are kept within proper limits.

"Probably the crocodiles find them good eating, and when they fail to secure any prey on land the water furnishes them with a support."

[Illustration: A FISHERMAN READY FOR WORK.]

Fred noticed that the fishermen were equipped with spears and nets, and some of them carried bows and arrows. Their modes of fishing were various, and according to the particular variety of game of which they were in pursuit. For some kinds they watched at a good place, and either speared their prey or pierced it with arrows when it came within reach. Other kinds were taken in nets, others by lines, as we have already mentioned, and others were caught by being driven into traps. One kind of fish that always goes in large schools is secured by driving a school into a trap made of a line of nets fastened to posts, in the same manner as the nets which were seen by Frank on his way to Foueira.

[Illustration: A FISH-BASKET.]

A strong wind blew from the southward, so that there was quite a sea of waves breaking on the exposed points of the coast. Doctor Bronson said it would be inconvenient for them to make their excursion in a canoe, as Baker had done, since the waves have little respect for the low sides of the craft, and they would be constantly liable to a drenching. But the steamer would not be inconvenienced in the least, as she was proof against any storm that was likely to arise on the lake.

Fred wanted to stay on shore during the night, but the Doctor said there were several reasons why they should not do so. It would be quite a task to bring their tents and set up the camp, as everything would need to be landed with the small boat; besides, it would be safer on board, since they could never tell what plots the natives might make against them if they slept on land. "We should need," he continued, "our soldiers to watch through the night, while on the steamer the ordinary lookout is quite sufficient for all purposes. So we will return as soon as the sun touches the horizon, and if we want to land again in the morning we can easily do so."

When the sun threw its long shadows over the lake our friends returned to the landing-place, and were soon on board the steamer. After dinner the watch was set for the night; one man was to be on duty at a time, and he would be relieved every two hours. The natives were told that none of their boats must approach the steamer during the night, and for greater security she was hauled a few hundred yards farther out from land.

Fred asked if there was any danger.

"No danger whatever, I presume," said the Doctor; "but we never know, as I before told you, what schemes may be formed for assailing us. We must always be watchful; and if we take care in advance we may escape a great deal of trouble. If the natives see that we are always on guard, they will not be likely to undertake anything in the way of a surprise; but if they find that we are careless, they are quite likely to take advantage of our negligence. Bear in mind that the natives of Africa have no reason to be specially friendly to the white man; beyond the suppression of the slave-trade, the visits of the stranger have generally been to the disadvantage of the negro, and the latter knows it. As he has a good deal of wickedness to the credit of our race, we need not be surprised if he seeks revenge when the opportunity is afforded for it.

"In our voyage on the lake we will treat all the people kindly whenever we meet them, but at the same time we must avoid giving them a chance to injure us. When we go on shore Ramen and Bash, the two soldiers of our escort, will always go with us, and will have their guns loaded and ready for instant use. We will never allow more than four natives on board the steamer at any one time, no matter what the occasion, and in this way we will be on the safe side."

Of course Fred readily acquiesced in the Doctor's arrangements for their safety. He recalled the accounts of previous travellers in Africa, and found that the rule was by no means a new one. It is the same that every careful explorer adopts when travelling among barbarous people, no matter who they are nor what their reputation is. "Never allow yourself to be surprised, and then you won't be," is the homely way in which one traveller has clothed the maxim. It sounds a trifle Hibernian, but it contains a vast amount of solid common-sense.

Our friends slept undisturbed through the night. The captain reported in the morning that two boats came near the steamer about mid-night; but as they did not stop or show the least sign of hostility, it was not deemed worth while to hail them. Soon after daylight several canoes came off from the village and surrounded the steamer; each canoe carried from four to eight or ten persons, among them several women and a few children. The presence of the women and children was indicative of peace, but the rule of allowing only four natives on board at once was not relaxed.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE CHIEF.]

After a while the sound of a drum was heard, and a boat larger than the rest made its appearance. Ramen said it was the head-man of the village coming to pay his respects; and in order to prepare for his reception the natives then on board were sent to their canoes, and no others were allowed to take their places.

The boat with the village chief came along-side, and the stairs were let down, so that he could easily reach the deck. He desired to bring a dozen or more of his followers, and they were equally desirous of coming; but the chief was informed that the steamer was small, and there was no room for more than three besides himself. He knew the actual reason for the refusal, but accepted at once the explanation that had been given, and ascended the steps.

[Illustration: NATIVE HEADS.]

He was a well-formed negro, about forty years of age, wearing only a strip of cloth about the waist, and carrying a slender bow, which he used for killing fish. He kept the bow in his hand as he came on board the steamer, but was polite enough to leave his arrows behind. His hair was less curly than is usual with the African; it was liberally oiled, and a small part of it was gathered in a knot or club at the back of his head. A similar knot was formed under his chin by the scanty beard that grew there, and his mouth was shaded by a short mustache; altogether, his features had quite a European cast, and Fred pronounced him a man of intelligence, who evidently had a good deal of ferocity when occasion required or permitted.

The chief was shown around the boat; and, as he had never seen anything of the kind before, he evinced much astonishment. He regarded the compass with considerable reverence, and pointed to the charms which hung upon his breast; evidently he believed they were as potent as the devices of the white man, or at all events of the same character, and it was not deemed worth the while to explain the compass to him. The engines puzzled him greatly, and he was quite unable to understand how they could be moved by hot water. He looked over the stern at the propeller, and, after studying it for some time, the idea dawned upon him.

Making a waving motion with his hand, he pronounced the native word for "fish."

Fred nodded, and the negro grinned with delight to think he had understood the operation of the propeller.

He was invited to sit on a chair, but preferred the deck, as a more comfortable resting-place. He sat there for several minutes while coffee was brought; he drank eagerly several cups in succession, and ate some of the English biscuits that were offered. The cups hit his fancy, and he begged for one of them; but as the supply was limited he was not accommodated. The Doctor brought out his rifle, and fired two or three shots in rapid succession, to show how quickly the weapon could be operated; the result was that the chief shook his head, as if in doubt whether the gun was of human or diabolic workmanship.

The final sensation was created with an explosive shell. For a few beads the Doctor bought a large fish that had been brought along-side, and instructed the natives, through the interpreter, to place it on a raft of reeds, and tow it about a hundred yards from the steamer and there leave it.

When they had done as he directed, and retired to a safe distance, he fired an explosive shell into the body of the fish.

The shell burst as it struck and tore the fish into a shapeless mass. The chief didn't wish to see anything more of the white man's works, but retired hastily to his boat. He would hardly wait for the presents which had been brought out for him, and he took them with a good deal of reluctance, as though afraid they would blow up and destroy him.

[Illustration: ON THE SHORE OF THE LAKE.]

CHAPTER XVII.

A DAY ON AN ISLAND.--INCIDENTS OF HUNTING AND FISHING.--LAKE-DWELLINGS OF CENTRAL AFRICA.

From their halting-place, described in the last chapter, our friends pushed onward without farther delay. The captain of the steamer said there were many islands in the lake, principally on the western side--a fact that was not known till quite recently. Baker, Speke, Stanley, and Long were all unable to make a thorough exploration of the western part of the Albert N'yanza, and all of them came away with the impression that what has since proved to be a series of islands was in reality the main-land.

[Illustration: AN ISLAND IN THE LAKE.]

Some of the islands are inhabited, but the greater number are without population. The islands were not considered safe from the incursions of the slave-stealers, and some that formerly were densely occupied had latterly been entirely deserted. The slavers would send out spies to learn the situation of an island and the number of persons to be found there. This being ascertained, they would make a sudden descent, usually at night, and the frightened negroes could not escape, as their boats would be in the possession of the robbers. Those who took shelter in the bushes were soon hunted down or starved out, and their primitive weapons were no match whatever for the muskets of their enemies whenever they ventured to fight.

The islanders supported themselves mainly by fishing, though they generally had small fields of bananas, plantains, yams, potatoes, and other edible things. They had no goats or sheep, with here and there an exception, but the most of them had flocks of chickens, and occasionally a dog was to be seen. The dog is not usually a popular animal with the African, and the breed is not such as would please a fancier of New York or London.

It was necessarily slow work to move among the islands with the steamer, and sometimes an hour or more was consumed in making a single mile. Soundings were taken every few yards, and where there was any probability of running aground the small boat was sent ahead to ascertain the depth of water.

They stopped at some of the islands in order to obtain wood for the steamer, and, as they were generally obliged to cut it themselves, the operation of "wooding up" was not a rapid one. On one island they found several logs that had evidently been thrown on shore by the action of the waves when the lake was at its highest point. They were well seasoned by the heat of the tropical sun, and made excellent fuel. The captain of the steamer said he hoped the other islands on the way would be equally kind to them, and furnish them with dry wood instead of green. One of the logs was over five feet in diameter, and nearly a hundred feet long, and the work of reducing it to fuel for the furnaces of the boat was no small task.

The island was uninhabited; and as the captain said a couple of days would be required for his men to cut up the logs they had found and load the wood on the boat, the Doctor concluded to pass the night on shore. He ordered the tents to be carried to land and set up where a strip of gravelly beach, with an acre or so of grass beyond it, made an excellent site for a camp. The cooking utensils were left on board, as it was not deemed advisable to make a division of kitchen-work for a single night. Of course the guns and ammunition were carefully looked after. Ramen and Bash were in a tent with Ali, close to Doctor Bronson and his nephew, and they took turns in watching through the night to guard against a surprise.

As soon as they were landed Fred was eager to make the tour of the island in search of game. Ramen was sent ahead to see if everything was right; and as there were no indications of natives, either resident or transient, a hunting expedition was organized immediately.

[Illustration: A FLOCK OF CRANES.]

They had not gone far before the sharp eyes of the youth discovered something in motion on the shore a little way beyond them. Peering through the grass and bushes, and advancing cautiously, he found a flock of cranes, evidently quite unaware of his proximity. Two of them stood with their heads bent forward, as if listening for the rustling of the bushes; another seemed engaged in digesting his breakfast; while the rest were prodding the ground with their long bills in search of worms.

Fred motioned to the Doctor, to imply that there was something worthy of a shot, and the Doctor signalled to him to try his skill. In obedience to the signal Fred continued to creep forward, while the Doctor sat down to wait for the result.

Soon a shot was heard, and in a few moments Fred came dragging a magnificent crane which he had secured. With a presence of mind unusual in a beginner he had selected the finest of the flock for his target.

"Look out for him!" exclaimed Doctor Bronson; "he is not quite dead, and may do you harm."

As he spoke he placed his foot on the neck of the bird and held it firmly, while explaining to Fred the reason of his caution.

"The crane family is distinguished for its long bill, which is a powerful weapon of offence and defence. When wounded it is capable of dealing heavy blows, and it aims at the eye of whoever or whatever comes near it. I once knew a gentleman in Missouri who lost an eye, and came near losing his life, by a blow from a crane. He had wounded a large crane so severely that it was lying on the ground apparently dead; as he stooped to pick it up the bird struck him in the right eye, destroying it instantly, and inflicting a severe wound besides. Instances of the same kind occur almost every year, and when you fire at these birds you should be very cautious about approaching any that may fall at your shot."

Fred said he had looked at the bird before picking it up, and he touched it with his foot to make sure that it was incapable of harm. Doctor Bronson replied that the crane will sometimes rouse itself when supposed to have been killed, and deal severe blows to its assailants; for this reason it should be approached very cautiously.

The prize was handed over to one of the attendants, and the party moved on. The flock of cranes had flown away and left no chance for a second shot; they are very shy, and take alarm at the least noise. Fred was quite content with the one he had secured. The crane is not worth much for table purposes, as his body consists mainly of hard muscles, and his flesh has a fishy flavor on account of his diet.

[Illustration: FRED'S SECOND PRIZE.]

Aquatic birds seemed to be the order of the day, as the next victim of Fred's shot was a kingfisher, which was perched on a low tree-top close to the water. He was on the watch for a fish, and did not heed the approach of the hunters till too late.

[Illustration: A PAIR OF KINGFISHERS AT HOME.]

Doctor Bronson said the kingfisher was to be found in all parts of the world, and more than a hundred varieties of it had been classified by naturalists. The largest of them is found in Australia; it is about eighteen inches long, and feeds in the woods as well as in the water. Another variety, belonging to South America, has a peculiar scream, resembling a loud and prolonged laugh, and for this reason it is sometimes called "the laughing jackass."

"Haven't I read somewhere," said Fred, "that the kingfisher is the 'halcyon' of the ancients, and that its habits and period of hatching its eggs gave rise to the term 'halcyon days?'"

"Quite likely you have," was the reply, "since such is the case. The kingfisher has been a familiar bird in all ages, as he is not at all shy, and, when undisturbed, he will remain until you walk quite close to him. As his name implies his chief food is fish of his own catching, but he does not disdain the mouse or other animal small enough for him to grapple with. Some varieties make their nests in hollow trees, but the majority dig holes in banks, unless they can find unoccupied ones that were made by some burrowing animal and abandoned. Whether the bird appropriates a deserted nest or makes one of its own, it always has it with the entrance sloping upward, so that the rain cannot enter. Moisture is fatal to the eggs, and the kingfisher takes good care that they shall not be injured."

The grass bore indications of the presence of the hippopotamus, or river-horse; though Fred remarked that he could not properly be called a river-horse at this point, seeing that he inhabited a lake. It did not make much difference what he was called, as he was probably quite indifferent to what was said of him as long as he was left uninjured.

They followed some of the hippo tracks, in the hope of discovering the animal that made them, but without success. The tracks in every instance led to the water, and nobody had the slightest desire to go below the surface to see how the hippo got along.

Just as they were turning back from the last of the traps Fred espied some birds flying in the air too far off to be worth a shot; he called the attention of the Doctor to the birds, and the latter, after a brief glance at them through his glass, said they were fish-eagles.

[Illustration: FISH-EAGLE ON A HIPPOPOTAMUS TRAP.]

"Yes, fish-eagles," as he took another look at them, "and one has just lighted on the top of a low tree. No, it's a trap for a hippo; and so the island, if not inhabited, is visited by people who do not live far away."

Fred wanted to go in pursuit of the eagle, as he desired to preserve its skin, as a trophy of his skill in hunting; but the Doctor said the ground was too wet and soft for them to go there. "And besides," he continued, "there may be some one watching the trap; and, if so, he might resent our visit and send an arrow or a spear, without waiting for us to explain our intentions."

The walk was continued a couple of hours or more, but no additional prizes were secured. There were not many birds among the trees, and the Doctor said it would be useless to look for deer or similar game on the island, as none were at all likely to be found there. The animals couldn't swim there from the main-land, on account of the crocodiles, and there was no probability that the natives would bring them off in boats, and endeavor to start a deer-park on private account. There were few places where walking was at all easy, owing to the abundance of vines and brushwood. There were occasional patches of grass, but it grew so high that half the time the travellers could not see at all, and therefore hunting was quite out of the question.

Soon after their return to camp our friends went on board the steamer for dinner. They came on shore again as soon as the meal was over, and prepared to pass the night on land. The evening brought clouds of mosquitoes that threatened to resent the invasion of the island by devouring the invaders. But the nets had been spread for their reception, and they were disappointed in their hopes, if any had been raised, of tasting American blood. Fred incautiously opened his net to enter it, instead of crawling underneath, according to the approved fashion; the result was that he had music all through the night, which had not been bargained for; but as he was wearied with the walk and excitements of the day he soon fell asleep, and allowed the mosquitoes to sup as they liked.

The next morning Fred took a stroll along the shore of the lake in a direction opposite to that he had taken when hunting cranes and king-fishers, and it resulted in an important discovery.

He found a field, or badly kept garden, of yams and sweet potatoes. He was not quite certain as to the former, but there was no doubt about the sweet potatoes. He ran back to camp to tell the Doctor what he had found, and the news was immediately sent to the captain of the boat.

While they waited for the captain to join them the Doctor explained to his nephew what the yam was.

[Illustration: CENTRAL AFRICAN YAM.]

"It is," said he, "the popular name for a considerable number of plants of the genus _Dioscorea_, and in the southern part of the United States is applied to light-colored varieties of the sweet potato. The yam is, practically, a tropical plant, though some of its species are found in the middle of the temperate zone. In the latter case the tubers or roots are small and of little value, while the tropical ones often reach a weight of thirty or forty pounds. It contains a large amount of starch, and in its component parts it greatly resembles the potato."

Fred asked why it was not possible to have the yam take the place of the potato in the United States, if it grew so large and was such a good article of food.

"It is quite possible to do so," was the reply; "but the potato is easier to cultivate than any yam that will thrive in our latitude. The great yams grow only in the tropics. The only one that will grow in the Northern States is the Chinese or Japanese variety, and many experiments were made with it some years ago, when there was a general failure of the potato crop.

[Illustration: POTATO AND YAM FIELDS.]

"The Chinese yam has a root two feet or more in length, largest at the lower end, and going straight down into the ground. The difficulty with these yams was the trouble of digging out the roots, as their shape and brittleness prevented their being pulled like beets or carrots; and the only places where they are now cultivated in America are in the gardens of gentlemen who are fond of curiosities without regard to the expense."

Some of the yams in the garden they visited weighed fifty or sixty pounds each, and their shape was like that of a deformed human foot. Enough of them were taken for the wants of the steamer, and in their place was left a box containing an equivalent for their value in beads and brass wire. The captain of the steamer did not think it necessary to leave anything, but he was overruled by Doctor Bronson, who said he would have nothing from the garden unless it was paid for; and as the owner was not present to receive his compensation the articles must be left where he could find them.

After the yams had been secured our friends turned their attention to fishing, but without much success, as their implements were limited, and they did not know the proper localities for the sport. They succeeded in capturing a few specimens, which were pronounced similar to those they had seen at the village near the head of the river, and identical with the fishes found in the upper part of the Nile.

[Illustration: THE KILNOKY.]

There was one which was called _kilnoky_ by Bash and Ramen. It had a long and broad head, and very powerful fins, and its sides were spotted somewhat after the manner of a trout. On each side of the mouth and beneath the jaw there were "feelers," similar to those of the cat-fish, and the dorsal fin was protected by spines, which required the novice to exercise caution to avoid being pricked.

[Illustration: YOUNG POLYPTERUS.]

Another fish, which Ramen said was called _besher_ on the Nile and _gurr_ on the lakes, had a short tail, to balance a long nose, and his back was covered with curious spines that stood out by themselves. Doctor Bronson said its proper name was _Polypterus_, and it was to be found all through Central Africa, according to the information gathered by Schweinfurth and others.

Fred angled awhile by himself, and caught a couple of fishes which were pronounced "warr" by one of the soldiers. The youth remarked that they looked very much like the perch of his native land, as the body of the fish was of a dark-green color, crossed by stripes of brown.

"They belong to the perch family," said the Doctor, "and so does the 'golo,' or _Lates niloticus_. There are several varieties of perch in Africa, but these are the most abundant."

During their rest under the tents, while the sun was high in the sky, the conversation naturally turned upon the African lakes and the people living around them. Fred asked about the people that inhabit the islands of other lakes, and also about some tribes that dwell in houses standing in the water.

[Illustration: LAKE MOHRYA, WITH VILLAGES.]

"I can only refer you to Cameron," said the Doctor, in reply. "He visited a small lake, in his journey across Africa, where the people actually live in the water. There are few lakes where this would be possible, on account of the presence of crocodiles, who would drive to the land everybody they did not eat. The lake seen by Cameron was called Mohrya, and lies east of Tanganyika, on the route to the Atlantic Ocean. It is rather a pond than a lake, as it is only a couple of miles long by one in width, and lies in a basin surrounded by low hills.

"Cameron tried to obtain boats to take him to these curious dwellings, but could not do so, as the people on land had none, and the lake-dwellers were very shy of allowing strangers to visit their houses. All he could do was to sit on the shore and study them with his telescope.

[Illustration: A HOUSE IN THE WATER.]

"The huts were built on poles driven into the bed of the lake, and the floor of each hut was about six feet above the surface of the water. Boats were kept under the huts, and nets were stretched between the poles, so that they could be dried by the sun and air. The people live entirely in these huts, and only come to land to cultivate their gardens, which lie near the water.

"They go from house to house," the Doctor continued, "by the simple process of swimming. It is rumored that there are large snakes in the water, whose bites are poisonous; but Mr. Cameron could see nothing of them, and evidently the story is untrue, or the people would be more careful. They keep fowls and goats in their huts, and bring the former to land to graze, but they always return home with them when night comes on."

Fred wished to know something of this curious tribe, but the Doctor was unable to give him farther information. He added, however, that lake dwellings are of very ancient origin, and are mentioned in history by Herodotus and other Greek writers.

"Yes," replied Fred, "I have read of them in descriptions of Switzerland and Ireland, and we saw huts in the water when we were in Siam and Java."

[Illustration: IDEAL REPRESENTATION OF A SWISS LAKE-VILLAGE.]

"The lake-dwellers of Asia and Africa are modern," said Doctor Bronson, "but those of Europe disappeared ages and ages ago. All the lakes of Switzerland once contained villages built on piles, and some of them were quite extensive. From twenty to fifty villages have been explored in each of the larger Swiss lakes, and many others in the smaller ones. Most of them date from the age of stone implements, before the discovery of metals, and in the remains of the villages many weapons and utensils of stone are found. One village covered an area of three acres, and stood on piles or posts of 'hard wood'--beech, oak, and fir--and most of them ten or twelve feet long. There were about one hundred thousand of these piles. The village was in the middle of a small lake, and had a bridge, connecting it with the shore. There are two sets of piles, one above the other, so that it is evident the village was occupied at two different periods.

"Another lake was completely surrounded by these dwellings, and among the relics discovered there are articles of wood, horn, bone, bronze, and gold. When you visit Switzerland you will see, at Lucerne, Zurich, and other places, some of the relics brought up from the lakes, and putting us face to face, as it were, with the people of a prehistoric age."

CHAPTER XVIII.

DR. LIVINGSTONE AND HIS DISCOVERIES.

When the work of "wooding up" was completed the steamer continued her voyage. An effort was made to visit the western shore; but at every halting-place the natives came down in considerable numbers, and their movements were so threatening that Doctor Bronson did not consider it judicious to attempt to land. As he was under obligation to the Egyptian authorities for the use of the steamboat he did not wish to do anything, however slight, that might lead to hostilities. For this reason he declined to go on shore where there was the slightest possibility of trouble with the natives, and contented himself with looking at it from the deck of the steamer.

While they were sitting under the sheltering awning and studying the landscape before them Fred asked about the travels and explorations of Dr. Livingstone.

[Illustration: LIVINGSTONE'S HOUSE AT ZANZIBAR.]

"He was the son of a poor weaver in Glasgow," was the reply, "and gained the most of his early education at an evening school while working in a cotton-mill. Afterward he managed to devote his winters to study, and supported himself by working for the rest of the year. He was born March 19, 1813, and died May 1, 1873.

[Illustration: DAVID LIVINGSTONE.]

"His family were earnest Presbyterians, and his early training led him to the study of theology; he combined with it the study of medicine, and, after devoting himself to these matters for several years, he offered his services to the London Missionary Society, and was sent to Africa. He arrived at Natal in 1840, and from that time till his death, thirty-three years later, his life was devoted to the work of civilizing and Christianizing the 'Dark Continent.'

"The record of his travels and explorations is in his published volumes, and in a book entitled 'Livingstone's Last Journals,' which contains the history of the final years of his life and the melancholy account of his death."

Fred asked the names of Dr. Livingstone's books.

"During the early years of his missionary work," the Doctor continued, "he sent a great many documents to England, containing valuable information of a geographical and scientific character; they were printed by the London Missionary Society in its journal. But nothing appeared in book-form till 1857, when he published 'Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa.' He visited England to superintend the publication of the volume, and returned to Africa in 1858.

"Down to that time he had devoted himself to missionary work, and all his travels and explorations were directly in connection with the effort to Christianize Africa. In 1858 he went, on behalf of the English government, and aided by private subscriptions, to explore the southern part of the great continent.

"On this journey he started from Quilimane, at the mouth of the Zambesi River, and travelled in a north-westerly direction. For a part of the route he followed the course of the river, and then turned away from it to the north, in search of a lake of which he had been told by the natives. He discovered the lake (Nyassa) in 1859, and explored the country to the west and north-west of it, and the whole region around the head-waters of the north-east branch of the Zambesi and its tributaries.

"The work occupied him till 1863. His wife accompanied him on the journey, and died in the interior of Africa, in April, 1862. In 1864 he returned to England, and published 'A Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries.' Then, as soon as the book was issued, he made preparations for another expedition, and left England in 1865.

"Nothing was heard from him for more than a year, and in March, 1867, a report came to England that he had been killed in a skirmish with the natives on the banks of Lake Nyassa. It was not generally believed, and in June of the same year an expedition was sent to look for him. It was under the command of Mr. E. D. Young, and although it did not succeed in finding him, it obtained information that convinced Mr. Young of the incorrectness of the report.

"Letters were received in 1869 (more than a year old) from Dr. Livingstone, so that there was no farther doubt that the story of his death in the skirmish was incorrect. Another letter came a year later, and then there was no news for more than twenty months, so that his friends feared he was no longer alive.

"The New York _Herald_ sent one of its correspondents, Mr. Henry M. Stanley, to look for Livingstone and to find him, if still alive. Stanley started from Zanzibar and went to Ujiji, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, where he found Dr. Livingstone alive and well, but unable to travel, for the reason that he had no goods with which to pay his way. Stanley remained with him from the autumn of 1871 till March, 1872. They went together to explore the northern part of Lake Tanganyika, to determine whether it flowed into the Nile. They satisfied themselves that it was not a tributary of the great river of Egypt, and that the source of the Nile lay farther to the north.

"On his return to Zanzibar, Stanley sent fresh supplies to Doctor Livingstone, to enable the latter to complete his explorations. It was the Doctor's intention to devote a year or more to this work, and then return to England, to publish his account and reside there permanently.

"But his plans were never carried out, as he died in the field of his work. After Stanley's return to England another expedition was sent out, under command of Lieutenant Cameron, to carry supplies to the great explorer and render him any assistance in its power. Cameron left Zanzibar in March, 1873, and reached Unyanyembe in the following August. While he was making preparations for proceeding farther the news of Livingstone's death reached him in the shape of a letter from Jacob Wainwright, the doctor's negro servant."

Doctor Bronson paused a few moments before continuing the story.

[Illustration: CHUMA AND SUSI.]

"There are few men in the world," said the Doctor, "who can surpass, or even equal, Livingstone in securing the affection and devotion of their followers. In his last expedition, starting from Unyanyembe in August, 1872, he was accompanied by about eighty men, most of them having been sent from Zanzibar by Stanley. Three of his men had been with him for eight years, and two others for six years; but the rest were comparatively new in his service. The three first mentioned were Susi, Chuma, and Amoda, who joined Livingstone on the Zambesi River in 1864, and the other two were Mabruki and Gardner, who were hired at Zanzibar in 1866. The new-comers soon became as zealous as the older ones in looking out for the welfare of their leader, and during his last illness, and down to the day of his death, they did all in their power to make him comfortable.

"Remember that he was a white man, and a stranger in the country. The negro is not credited with a large amount of honesty by those who have travelled in Africa; and certainly there are many instances of treachery and rascality in the stories told by explorers. Dr. Livingstone was frequently deceived by guides and scouts during his journeys, and he was plundered by the chiefs, who demanded heavy tributes for the permission to pass through their country. I have already told you of the constant difficulties in the way of obtaining porters before starting on a journey, and of the large number of desertions on the road.

"In his last journey Dr. Livingstone's men remained faithful to the end of his days, and when he died they embalmed his body and brought it, with all his journals and every article of his personal property, safe to the coast. In addition to the difficulty of transporting it for hundreds of miles through the country, where there were no roads, they had to meet the superstition of the African tribes on their way, who have the greatest horror of a dead body, and would have killed every man of the party if they had known the burden they were carrying. Knowing what we do of the difficulties and dangers that confronted these faithful but ignorant men, it is a wonder that they undertook what they did, and still more wonderful that they succeeded.

[Illustration: PAGE FROM LIVINGSTONE'S LAST JOURNAL.]

"Every scrap of his journals, from the day of his departure from Zanzibar down to the last line he was able to write, a week before his death, was preserved and brought home. They show to what straits he was sometimes reduced for writing materials, as many of his notes are written on old newspapers sewn together into the shape of books, and he was often obliged to make his own pencils and ink. His rough notes were taken in this way, and when he had time for writing in full he copied them into a larger journal. One of these journals was sent to England, in care of Mr. Stanley, and delivered to the missionary's family.

"While we are on this topic I may as well tell you of the closing days of Dr. Livingstone's life.

"There are comparatively few entries in his journal. His men say that his health was never good from the first day of the journey, and when they halted at night he was too weak to make many notes. The word 'ill' occurs frequently on the pages of his diary, and on several occasions it is the only record of an entire day. For the last few days of his travels he was unable to walk, and was carried on a 'kitanda,' or litter, made by his men. It was rudely formed, but strong. It consisted of a framework seven feet long, with several cross-pieces, and a bed of grass, on which the sufferer could recline comfortably. It was slung from a pole, and carried on the shoulders of two men, and in general appearance was not unlike the palanquin which you saw in India, and was better for an invalid than the sedan-chair of China.

"In the fac-simile of the last page but one of Livingstone's journal, you see that his writing is cramped and evidently made with great difficulty, and the last line refers to his being carried on the kitanda. The entry on the 21st (of April) mentions his trying to ride, but he says he was forced to lie down, and they carried him back to the village, much exhausted.

"His men say that on this morning he mounted his donkey as usual, but his strength was so far gone that he could not retain his place in the saddle, and fell fainting to the ground after riding only a short distance. In this condition he was carried by Chuma, one of his men, back to the village, and rested during the day. The chief of the village was very kind to him, and said he could rest there as long as he pleased, and, when ready to move on, the guides for the road should be ready.

[Illustration: THE LAST MILE OF LIVINGSTONE'S JOURNEY.]

"It was during this day of resting that his men constructed the kitanda, and from that time till the 30th of April he was carried upon it. He died in the village of Ilala, which belonged to a chief named Chitambo. The Doctor's men say they were kindly treated by Chitambo during all their stay, and when they left he gave them all the guides and provisions that they needed."

Fred asked what was the disease which caused the death of the great explorer.

[Illustration: LIVINGSTONE ENTERING THE HUT WHERE HE DIED.]

"He died from malarial poisoning," replied the Doctor, "as many other Europeans have died in Africa. He had suffered from it for several years, and realized that unless he returned to England, to reside there permanently, he could not hope to recover. As I told you before, he was intending to do so in the very year in which he died.

[Illustration: FORDING A SWOLLEN RIVER.]

"In one of his journeys Dr. Livingstone travelled an estimated distance of eleven thousand miles, and the sum of his travels in Africa has been placed as high as sixty thousand miles. A great part of this was performed on foot. There were many journeys by river and lake, nearly always in native canoes, and comparatively few in boats of European construction, owing to the difficulty of carrying them around cataracts or other obstructions on the rivers, or making long traverses from one lake to another. In South Africa, and in some parts of Central Africa, horses or donkeys may be used for riding purposes; but these animals are scarce, and quite as liable as their masters to fall victims to the pestilential fevers of Africa.

"The climate is not by any means the worst enemy of the dumb animals that accompany the African traveller. Lions prowl around the camps, and when their presence is quite unexpected they spring from the bushes and kill the horse or other animal they have marked for their prey with a single stroke of their powerful paw. Many travellers have lost their favorite steeds in this way, and in South Africa thousands upon thousands of oxen have been killed by lions. On the return of Dr. Livingstone's party to the coast they undertook to bring his riding donkey, but the poor beast was killed by a lion only a few days' journey from the spot where the doctor died.

[Illustration: A LION KILLING LIVINGSTONE'S DONKEY.]

"According to custom the men had built a stable for him, where they thought he would be secure, as it was close to their quarters. In the middle of the night there was a loud crash that roused everybody: the men ran out, and found the stable broken and the donkey gone. They set fire to the grass to make a light, as the night was very dark, and as soon as the blaze rose up they saw a lion close to the body of the donkey. They fired at the intruder, and wounded him. He retreated growling, and the men did not think it prudent to follow. The donkey was quite dead, and there is no doubt that he was instantly killed when the lion sprung upon him. The next morning they found a broad track of blood where the lion had dragged himself along; but as there was the track of another lion close by it they did not follow the trail far into the bushes.

"Dr. Livingstone was early impressed with the horrors of the slave-trade in the interior of Africa, and in all his writings he frequently referred to the infamous business. In one part of his journal he describes how he found the dead body of a woman tied by the neck to a tree. The people of the country told him that she had been unable to keep up with the caravan, and her master, finding that he must abandon her, determined to make an example that would frighten the rest. So he tied her to the tree and left her to die, and whenever any others of his caravan broke down they met a similar fate or were killed on the spot. One day some of the doctor's men went a little way from the path and found a number of slaves yoked together with sticks, and so near death from starvation that none of them were able to speak.

[Illustration: "GOREE," OR SLAVE-STICK.]

"The 'goree,' or slave-stick, is made from the fork of a small tree. It is placed on the neck of a negro, and the ends of the fork are fastened together by an iron rod, riveted at each end; and as the man's hands are generally tied behind him he has no way of escaping from his bonds.

[Illustration: MANNER OF FETTERING A GANG OF SLAVES.]

"Whenever Dr. Livingstone encountered one of these travelling gangs of slaves he released them, if the circumstances permitted, and they generally did. By so doing he roused the hostility of the slave-traders, who revenged themselves by spreading unfavorable reports concerning him, and inciting the natives to attack him. Most of his troubles with the natives were from this cause, and several times his escape from death at their hands was exceedingly narrow. The slave-traders were too cowardly to make any open fight with him, and when he met them on the road with their slaves they generally ran away, and left him to deal with their human merchandise as he liked.

[Illustration: SLAVERS AVENGING THEIR LOSSES.]

"One of his stories of an encounter with a slave caravan is quite amusing.

"One day he heard from a native that a gang of slaves on its way to the coast was coming along the road, and would shortly appear in sight. He was in a little village where the party was to pass, and so he sat down and waited for them.

"In a little while the slave-party, a long line of manacled men, women, and children, came wending their way round the hill into the valley, on the side of which the village stood. The black drivers, armed with muskets and bedecked with various articles of finery, marched jauntily in the front, middle, and rear of the line, some of them blowing exultant notes out of long tin horns. 'They seemed to think,' says the doctor, 'that they were doing a very noble thing, and might proudly march with an air of triumph; but the instant the fellows caught a glimpse of the English they darted off like mad into the forest--so fast, indeed, that we caught but a glimpse of their red caps and the soles of their feet. The chief of the party alone remained; and he, being in front, had his hand tightly grasped by a Makololo. He proved to be a well-known slave of the late commandant at Tette, and for some time our own attendant while there.

"'On asking him,' says Dr. Livingstone, 'how he obtained these captives he replied that he had bought them; but on inquiring of the people themselves, all, save four, said they had been captured in war. While this inquiry was going on he bolted too.

"'The captives were thus left entirely in our hands, and knives were soon busy cutting the women and children loose. It was more difficult to cut the men adrift, as each had his neck in the fork of a stout stick, six or seven feet long, and kept in by an iron rod, which was riveted at both ends, across the throat. With a saw luckily in our baggage, one by one the men were sawn out into freedom. The women, on being told to take the meal they were carrying and cook breakfast for themselves and the children, seemed to consider the news too good to be true; but, after a little coaxing, went to work with a will, using the old slave-sticks for making a fire. Some of the captives were mere children. Two women had been shot the day before for attempting to untie their thongs, and a man was killed with an axe because he had broken down with fatigue.'"

In continuing his account of the work of Livingstone, Doctor Bronson said that the explorer's habit of making on the spot notes of everything he saw that would be of interest to the English reader had rendered his books very valuable. Some of his statements were at first received with a grain of doubt, but his reputation for veracity was soon established. It was found that wherever there was any inaccuracy of statement in his reports it was due to his having received the story from some one else. Truth does not prevail among the people of Africa any more than in other lands; and the facetious American who enjoys "fooling a reporter," by gravely telling a lot of falsehoods, which there is no time to investigate, has his prototype in the wilds of the "Dark Continent."

[Illustration: QUILIMANE, AT THE MOUTH OF THE ZAMBESI.]

"We must," resumed Doctor Bronson, "read his works in order to appreciate Dr. Livingstone's labors in Central and Southern Africa. There are notes on natural history, botany, and kindred studies, together with descriptions of all the people and tribes among whom he travelled. One day he met a party of honey-hunters, and sat down for a chat with them. They pointed to a small bird that was quietly resting on the limbs of a tree near them, and said it was their honey-guide. The bird attracts the attention of the native by hopping from twig to twig and calling in the sharpest notes of his voice; when he finds he is followed he leads the way to a hollow tree or other spot where a swarm of bees has its home, and as soon as the honey has been taken he regales himself on the fragments of comb that lie scattered on the ground. This bird is described in books on natural history, and is said to belong to the cuckoo family. The natives follow it, in full confidence that it will lead them to a deposit of honey; but it sometimes happens that they are conducted to the lair of a lion or other ferocious beast.

[Illustration: VIEW ON THE NAVIGABLE PART OF THE ZAMBESI.]

"Livingstone's memory will always be preserved in connection with the exploration of the Zambesi, and the discovery of the great cataract of Mosi-oa-tunya, better known as the Victoria Falls of the Zambesi, though the former name is to be preferred.

"He discovered the falls in 1855, on his first ascent of the valley of the Zambesi, and the account he gave was so startling that he was thought to be wandering from the truth. In his second journey, five years later, he made a detailed examination of the cataract, making careful measurements of the heights and distances, so that there could be no mistake. If you look at his book and compare the measurements with those of Niagara, you can hardly fail to be astonished."

Fred went below to find the volume in question, and soon returned with it. From Dr. Livingstone's description of the great Falls of the Zambesi he read the following:

"On the 9th of August, 1860, we proceeded to see the Victoria Falls. Mosi-oa-tunya is the native name, and means smoke-sounding. Seongo, or Chongwe, meaning the rainbow, or the place of the rainbow, was the more ancient term they bore. We embarked in canoes belonging to Tuba Mokoro (smasher of canoes)--an ominous name; but he alone, it seems, knew the medicine which insures one against shipwreck in the rapids above the falls. For some miles the river was smooth and tranquil, and we glided pleasantly over water as clear as crystal, and past lovely islands, densely covered with a tropical vegetation. But our attention was quickly called from the charming islands to the dangerous rapids, down which Tuba might unintentionally shoot us. To confess the truth, the very ugly aspect of these roaring rapids could scarcely fail to cause some uneasiness in the minds of new-comers. It is only when the river is very low, as it was now, that any one durst venture to the island to which we were bound. If one went during the period of flood, and fortunately hit the island, he would be compelled to remain there till the water subsided again, if he lived so long. Both hippopotami and elephants have been known to be swept over the falls, and of course smashed to pulp.

"After many narrow escapes from being dashed on the rocks we landed at the head of Garden Island, which is situated near the middle of the river, and on the lip of the falls.

[Illustration: THE GREAT FALLS OF MOSI-OA-TUNYA.]

"On reaching that lip, and peering over the giddy height, the wondrous and unique character of the magnificent cascade at once burst upon us. It is rather a hopeless task to endeavor to convey an idea of it in words, since, as was remarked on the spot, an accomplished painter, even by a number of views, could but impart a faint impression of the glorious scene. The probable mode of its formation may perhaps help to the conception of its peculiar shape. Niagara has been formed by a wearing back of the rock over which the river falls; and, during a long course of ages, it has gradually receded, and left a broad, deep, and pretty straight trough in front. It goes on wearing back daily, and may yet discharge the lakes from which its river flows. But the Victoria Falls have been formed by a crack right across the river in the hard, black, basaltic rock which there formed the bed of the Zambesi. The lips of the crack are still quite sharp, save about three feet of the edge over which the river rolls. The walls go sheer down from the lips without any projecting crag, or symptom of stratification or dislocation. When the mighty rift occurred no change of level took place in the two parts of the bed of the river thus rent asunder; consequently, in coming down the river to Garden Island the water suddenly disappears, and we see the opposite side of the cleft, with grass and trees growing where once the river ran, on the same level as that part of its bed on which we sail.

"The first crack is, in length, a few yards more than the breadth of the Zambesi, which by measurement we found to be a little over eighteen hundred and sixty yards, but this number we resolved to retain, as indicating the year in which the fall was for the first time carefully examined. The main stream here runs nearly north and south, and the cleft across it is nearly east and west. The depth of the rift was measured by lowering a line, to the end of which a few bullets and a foot of white cotton cloth were tied. One of us lay with his head over a projecting crag, and watched the descending calico, till, after his companions had paid out three hundred and ten feet, the weight rested on a sloping projection, probably fifty feet from the water below, the actual bottom being still farther down. The white cloth now appeared the size of a crown-piece. On measuring the width of this deep cleft by sextant it was found, at Garden Island, its narrowest part, to be eighty yards, and at its broadest somewhat more. Into this chasm, of twice the depth of Niagara Falls, the river, a full mile wide, rolls with a deafening roar; and this is Mosi-oa-tunya, or the Victoria Falls.

"Looking from Garden Island down to the bottom of the abyss, nearly half a mile of water, which has fallen over that portion of the falls to our right, or west of our point of view, is seen collected in a narrow channel twenty or thirty yards wide, and flowing at exactly right angles to its previous course, to our left; while the other half, or that which fell over the eastern portion of the falls, is seen in the left of the narrow channel below, coming toward our right. Both waters unite midway, in a fearful boiling whirlpool, and find an outlet by a crack situated at right angles to the fissure of the falls. This outlet is about eleven hundred and seventy yards from the western end of the chasm, and some six hundred from its eastern end; the whirlpool is at its commencement. The Zambesi, now apparently not more than twenty or thirty yards wide, rushes and surges south through the narrow escape-channel for one hundred and thirty yards; then enters a second chasm, somewhat deeper, and nearly parallel with the first. Abandoning the bottom of the eastern half of this second chasm to the growth of large trees, it turns sharply off to the west, and forms a promontory, with the escape-channel at its point, of eleven hundred and seventy yards long, and four hundred and sixteen yards broad at the base. After reaching this base the river runs abruptly round the head of another promontory, and flows away to the east, in a third chasm; then glides round a third promontory, much narrower than the rest, and away back to the west, in a fourth chasm; and we could see in the distance that it appeared to round still another promontory, and bend once more in another chasm toward the east. In this gigantic zigzag, yet narrow, trough the rocks are all so sharply cut and angular, that the idea at once arises that the hard basaltic trap must have been riven into its present shape by a force acting from beneath, and that this probably took place when the ancient inland seas were let off by similar fissures nearer the ocean.

"The land beyond, or on the south of the falls, retains, as already remarked, the same level as before the rent was made. It is as if the trough below Niagara were bent right and left several times before it reached the railway bridge. The land in the supposed bends, being of the same height as that above the fall, would give standing-places, or points of view, of the same nature as that from the railway bridge; but the nearest would be only eighty yards, instead of two miles (the distance to the bridge), from the face of the cascade. The tops of the promontories are in general flat, smooth, and studded with trees. The first, with its base on the east, is at one place so narrow that it would be dangerous to walk to its extremity. On the second, however, we found a broad rhinoceros path and a hut; but, unless the builder were a hermit, with a pet rhinoceros, we cannot conceive what beast or man ever went there for. On reaching the apex of this second eastern promontory we saw the great river, of a deep sea-green color, now sorely compressed, gliding away at least four hundred feet below us.

"Garden Island, when the river is low, commands the best view of the Great Fall chasm, as also of the promontory opposite, with its grove of large evergreen trees, and brilliant rainbows of three-quarters of a circle, two, three, and sometimes even four in number, resting on the face of the vast perpendicular rock, down which tiny streams are always running, to be swept again back by the upward rushing vapor. But, as at Niagara one has to go over to the Canadian shore to see the chief wonder--the great Horseshoe Fall--so here we have to cross over to Moselekatse's side, to the promontory of evergreens, for the best view of the principal falls of Mosi-oa-tunya. Beginning, therefore, at the base of this promontory, and facing the cataract, at the west end of the chasm, there is, first, a fall of thirty-six yards in breadth, and of course, as they all are, upward of three hundred and ten feet in depth. Then Boaruka, a small island, intervenes, and next comes a great fall, with a breadth of five hundred and seventy-three yards; a projecting rock separates this from a second grand fall of three hundred and twenty-five yards broad--in all upward of nine hundred yards of perennial falls. Farther east stands Garden Island; then, as the river was at its lowest, came a good deal of the bare rock of its bed, with a score of narrow falls, which, at the time of flood, constitute one enormous cascade of nearly another half mile. Near the east end of the chasm are two larger falls, but they are nothing, at low-water, compared to those between the islands.

"The whole body of water rolls clear over, quite unbroken; but, after a descent of ten or more feet, the entire mass suddenly becomes like a huge sheet of driven snow. Pieces of water leap off it in the form of comets with tails streaming behind, till the whole snowy sheet becomes myriads of rushing, leaping, aqueous comets. This peculiarity was not observed by Charles Livingstone at Niagara, and here it happens possibly from the dryness of the atmosphere, or whatever the cause may be which makes every drop of Zambesi water appear to possess a sort of individuality. It runs off the ends of the paddles, and glides in beads along the smooth surface, like drops of quick-silver on a table. Here we see them in a conglomeration, each with a train of pure white vapor, racing down till lost in clouds of spray. A stone dropped in became less and less to the eye, and at last disappeared in the dense mist below.

"Charles Livingstone had seen Niagara, and gave Mosi-oa-tunya the palm, though now at the end of a drought, and the river at its very lowest. Many feel a disappointment on first seeing the great American falls, but Mosi-oa-tunya is so strange it must ever cause wonder. In the amount of water Niagara probably excels, though not during the months when the Zambesi is in flood. The vast body of water, separating in the comet-like forms described, necessarily encloses in its descent a large volume of air, which, forced into the cleft to an unknown depth, rebounds, and rushes up loaded with vapor, to form the three or even six columns, as if of steam, visible at the Batoka village, Moachemba, twenty-one miles distant. On attaining a height of two hundred, or at most three hundred, feet from the level of the river above the cascade this vapor becomes condensed into a perpetual shower of fine rain. Much of the spray, rising to the west of Garden Island, falls on the grove of evergreen trees opposite; and from their leaves heavy drops are forever falling, to form sundry little rills, which, in running down the steep face of rock, are blown off and turned back, or licked off their perpendicular bed up into the column from which they have just descended."

[Illustration: BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF MOSI-OA-TUNYA.]

CHAPTER XIX.

FROM THE ALBERT N'YANZA TO FOUEIRA.

The voyage of the lake was completed without any incident of importance. The time went quickly enough in visits to the islands and occasional halts on the shore, and a couple of days before the date arranged for meeting Frank the steamer reached Magungo, and ascended the Somerset River, or Victoria Nile, to the foot of Murchison Falls.

Frank was not there, but a messenger was waiting with a letter from him. It briefly told the incidents of his journey from Afuddo to Foueira, and said that he thought best to remain at Foueira, to make certain repairs to the packages which were in his care, and had become injured on the way, and also to keep the porters in readiness for their departure to the south. Besides, if he went to the falls and returned to Foueira he would be obliged to go twice over the same road. He preferred to hear of the journey from the lips of Doctor Bronson and his cousin, rather than to make it himself, and he hoped they would think his decision a proper one.

Of course, his action was approved without hesitation, as his absence from the fort might endanger the safety of their supplies, and there might be difficulty in having the requisite number of porters when wanted, if they were not kept steadily under control. Frank had taken the precaution to send guides that could conduct them to Foueira, a sufficient number of porters for carrying their baggage, and their saddle-horses, in charge of faithful grooms.

Everything was unloaded from the steamer and piled on the bank of the river. It was within a couple of hours of sunset when the work was completed, and therefore Doctor Bronson determined not to move forward till the next day, when they would make an early start. The proper rewards were distributed to the officers and crew of the _Khedive_, and the Doctor and his nephew slept on board for the last time. They were roused before daylight by the faithful Ali, though they really had no occasion to be called, as both were wide-awake when the youth rapped on the doors of their cabins. The excitement of ending the lake voyage and again returning to land travel had given Fred a night of wakefulness, and it is possible that the same causes had had their effect on his more experienced companion.

The sun was just peering above the horizon when the caravan was ready to move. As the head of the column of porters turned into the path that led along the bank of the river the steamer cast off the lines that had held her to the shore and turned down the stream, on her return to the point of departure. There was a general hurrahing on shore and on the boat, in token of farewell. As the _Khedive_ disappeared around a bend of the river our friends mounted their horses, and a few minutes later were once more in the depths of the African forest.

[Illustration: CARAVAN CROSSING A PLAIN.]

Between Foueira and Murchison Falls there is a succession of cascades and rapids. The Albert N'yanza is more than a thousand feet lower than the Victoria N'yanza, and by far the greater part of this descent is below Foueira; consequently the road taken by Doctor Bronson and his nephew ascended considerably. In many places it was so steep that the horses had no easy task to carry their riders, and the porters found it necessary to make frequent halts. Most of the way the route was in sight of the river, or would have been, save for the dense foliage that often made it difficult to see more than a few yards. Near the cascades and rapids the ground was so broken that it often became necessary to go back from the bank a considerable distance to find smooth ground. In a few places the road led over treeless plains several miles across, but for the most part it was among forests and hills.

[Illustration: SCENE IN AN AFRICAN VILLAGE.]

There were several villages along the route, but our friends did not stop long to examine them. They were all of the same pattern--a collection of grass huts, running to a point at the top, and so heavily thatched that the heaviest rain of tropical Africa could not penetrate them. The inhabitants did not appear to have much to do, as they were generally lying on the ground in front of their dwellings, or seated in little groups, discussing the news of the day or the politics of the country. At one village there was considerable excitement, and Fred suggested that it was probably election-day, and a sharp contest was going on among the friends of the rival candidates.

The guide talked with some of the people, and learned that it was not the election of an official, but the advent of a lion in the neighborhood, that made the commotion. The beast was said to be lurking in a thicket close by the village, and the natives implored the Doctor to help them kill the intruder. Fred seconded the proposal; and as the thicket was not far off, and they could easily reach the camp, even if delayed an hour or more, they consented.

[Illustration: CROSSING A RIVER ON A FALLEN TREE.]

The guide said it was only a few steps away, but it proved to be half a mile and more, and, what was worse, there was a small stream in the way, too wide to step over; it was also too deep for the strangers to ford, though an easy matter for the natives. But there was a bridge, in the shape of a fallen tree, and, by careful balancing along its surface, the party, one by one, reached the other side without accident.

Several of the natives had gone on in advance and surrounded the thicket, which, fortunately, was not very large. Doctor Bronson and Fred took their places, about fifty yards apart, where it was thought the lion would endeavor to escape when roused by the sound of the drums and other noisy instruments carried by the natives. When all was ready the signal was given, and the din of the discord began in its full force.

Fred was peering sharply into the bushes to watch for any moving thing; all at once he caught sight of a yellow mass gliding along close to the ground, and advancing in his direction. He was satisfied it was the lion, and made ready to fire at the proper moment.

Fred's motion of his rifle attracted the Doctor's attention, and he too brought his weapon to the shoulder, and prepared to use it at the first opportunity.

The lion crept slowly, as if aware of his danger. Fred allowed him to get within twenty yards of his position, and then discharged the rifle, after taking careful aim.

The lion gave a bound into the air. He was evidently wounded, but quite as evidently he was not killed.

Doctor Bronson was a good shot "on the wing," and while the lion was in the air a bullet from the Doctor's rifle went crashing through his skull and brought him dead to the ground. There was no need of any farther shot, and the animal never moved a muscle after he touched the earth.

There was a wild shout from the guides and others who accompanied them, and in a little while half a hundred and more of the people were around the dead lion. Great was their delight to find that their enemy had been slain, and they were ready to give the hunters anything they might ask. Fred suggested that the skin of the lion would make an admirable trophy. It was speedily removed, and the fleshy side covered with wood-ashes, to assist in its preservation. Our friends declined all other rewards for their services, and returned to the village, where their horses were waiting.

On their way back to the village, and just after recrossing the stream on the fallen tree, Fred managed to bring down a bird of a kind he had never seen before. The Doctor examined it, and remarked that it was something extraordinary.

[Illustration: GOATSUCKER ("COSMETORNIS SPEKII).]

"It is found in several parts of Africa," said he, "and is ordinarily called a goatsucker, for the reason that it is erroneously supposed to obtain milk from goats after the manner of the young kid, and without the permission of their owners.

"The specimen you have just shot is called the _Cosmetornis Spekii_ by the naturalists, as it was first described by the traveller Speke. The seventh pen-feathers are double the length of the ordinaries, the eighth is twice as long as the seventh, and the ninth is about twenty inches long. The bird belongs to the same family as the whippoorwill and night-hawk of North America. It rarely goes out by day, and it was quite accidental that you were able to secure this specimen."

The chief of the village insisted on their acceptance of a present of fresh fruit, as a token of friendship. Two enormous bunches of bananas were handed over to the servants to carry to camp, and then the hunters took their departure.

[Illustration: A CAMP NEAR THE HILLS.]

When they reached camp they found that the tents had been pitched on a little plain backed by a range of hills, and just outside a native village. An awning had been placed for the Doctor and Fred, where they could recline comfortably, and have the full benefit of the evening breeze as it swept down from the hills. The people came in with grain and other things to sell, and there was no scarcity of provisions.

The character of the commerce of the region was shown by an incident that occurred just after the arrival of our friends, and while they were occupied in their tents.

A native came into camp leading a boy at the end of a rope. Whenever the prisoner lagged he received a blow from a stick in the hands of his cruel master; and just outside the line of tents the boy was the victim of a sound beating, in order to make him show his best points when on exhibition.

The negro offered the boy for sale, and asked where was the chief trader. Ali replied that the chief of the party was a white man, and did not buy slaves.

The negro did not believe Ali's statement, and repeated his demand to see the chief.

"I will go and call him," said the boy; "but he is 'Ingleez,' and won't buy slaves."

At the word "Ingleez" (English) the native comprehended the situation, and made haste to get out of the camp with his human merchandise. All through Africa the English detestation of the slave-trade is well known, and whenever a trader learns of an Englishman being in his neighborhood he knows that his traffic will receive no countenance. No distinction is made between English and Americans, as the term "Ingleez" is applied to all who speak the language of Great Britain. Frank and Fred tried repeatedly to make the natives understand the difference between English and Americans, but finally gave up the attempt and allowed themselves to be classified as "Ingleez." The universal response to their explanations was, that the strangers spoke the same language and came from beyond the sea, and therefore there could be no difference between them. Frank said there had been many differences, particularly in 1776 and 1812; but his joke was totally lost on his dusky listeners.

The next day's march was through a rough country, the road ascending steadily as it followed the valley of the river. The caravan passed several villages, but made no halt at any of them, and the camp for the night was made near a small stream which flowed into the great river, less than a mile away. One of the natives brought a fish caught in the stream. It bore a close resemblance to the trout, and Doctor Bronson said it was evidently a member of that voracious but wary family. Its native name was _moora_, and it was said to be found in several of the smaller streams of that region, but not in the lakes or large rivers.

One of the porters met with a serious accident, and the Doctor's professional skill was called into play. The man slipped on a sloping rock, and the fall broke one of the small bones of his right leg. The natives desired to treat it after their manner, which consisted in covering the limb with earth, and then building a fire over it, till the patient howls with agony. He is then released, and the half-roasted flesh is bound in splints and wound with thin bark, and must take its chances of healing. The Doctor refused to allow this treatment, and set the broken limb after the usual manner of American surgeons. Four bearers were then employed to carry the man on a litter to Foueira; and they set off an hour in advance of the caravan, so that there should be no delay.

[Illustration: KAWENDÉ SURGERY.]

The incident recalled the account which Dr. Livingstone gives of the surgery he once witnessed in the Kawendé country, where the thigh-bone of a native was smashed by the accidental discharge of a rifle. It was as follows:

"First of all a hole was dug, say, two feet deep and four in length, in such a manner that the patient could sit in it with his legs out before him. A large leaf was then bound round the fractured thigh and earth thrown in, so that the patient was buried up to the chest. The next act was to cover the earth which lay over the man's legs with a thick layer of mud; then plenty of sticks and grass were collected, and a fire lighted on the top directly over the fracture. To prevent the smoke smothering the sufferer they held a tall mat, as a screen, before his face, and the operation went on. After some time the heat reached the limbs underground; and bellowing with fear, and covered with perspiration, the man implored them to let him out.

"The authorities, concluding that he had been sufficiently long under treatment, quickly burrowed down and lifted him from the hole. He was now held perfectly fast while two strong men stretched the wounded limb with all their might. Splints, duly prepared, were afterward bound round it, and we must hope that in due time benefit accrued; but as the ball had passed through the limb, we must have our doubts on the subject. The villagers said that they constantly treated bad gunshot wounds in this way with perfect success."

The march the next day and the next were without incident of consequence; and as both Fred and the Doctor were anxious to get to Foueira and meet the companion of their travels through Asia, we will gratify their wishes and stand within a few miles of the encampment. Frank had been notified by the porters who brought the wounded man in advance of the caravan. Immediately on receiving the news he prepared to go out to meet them; and thus it happened that they saw the young gentleman riding along the path when the encampment was yet half a dozen miles away.

The meeting was a happy one for all concerned. The boys ran to embrace each other, and the Doctor joined them, so that a triangle of happiness was speedily formed. The natives set up a shout of greeting, partly on account of the meeting of the white men, and partly on their own behalf. There was a considerable number of their friends who had accompanied Frank from the fort, and made haste to remove the burdens from the heads and shoulders of the weary porters and transfer them to their own. Of course all had to sit down for a while to exchange gossip. Fully an hour was taken up with the fraternal meeting, and then the march was resumed.

There was little sleep that night in the camp at Foueira until long after twelve o'clock. Our friends had a thousand things to say to each other, and the stories of the last thirty days included a great deal on both sides. The natives had a festival in honor of the safe arrival of the party from the lake: it included a dance around the camp-fires, and a theatrical exhibition, in which some of them were dressed as demons.

[Illustration: A PAIR OF SHAM DEMONS.]

As these demons were said to be curiosities worth examining, Frank and Fred went out to see them. Frank thought they were more hideous than anything he had ever seen, and Fred suggested that the African idea of demons did not run in the line of beauty. One of them had his entire body covered with a coarse net from the neck down to his feet; his feet and hands were covered with gloves, and his head was concealed by a sort of helmet or mask. The net was striped horizontally, so that the man reminded our friends of a prisoner of Sing Sing, and the gloves and socks were laced to the rest of the dress, so that not an inch of skin was anywhere visible.

The man carried a staff in one hand and a bell in the other. He tinkled the bell constantly, and its sound was a signal that he wanted presents, which were to be given to a small boy who followed him with a bag. The other sham demon wore the same kind of clothing. His mask was adorned with a row of feathers, and the face was hideously painted, while a fringed hoop was extended around his waist. A brief inspection of these grotesque figures was sufficient for our friends, who gave some trifling presents and then returned to their tents.

Abdul said that these sham demons are to be found among many African tribes, the dress varying according to the fancy of its owner, whose chief endeavor is to conceal his identity while going through his performances, and also to make himself as hideous as possible. The men are analogous to the rain-makers already described, and one of their duties is to keep the real demons from visiting the fields and villages. As no two demons can occupy the same place at once, the shams compel the genuine to move away by monopolizing all the good spots where a demon might wish to live. The trade is by no means unprofitable, as the inhabitants pay liberally for their services. Whenever a calamity of any kind occurs a broad hint is given that the people have been stingy of late, and thus the real demons have put in an appearance.

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN BAND OF MUSIC.]

Another curiosity of the occasion was the band which furnished the music. It came in front of the tents and played in honor of the strangers, who went out to see as well as to listen.

The instruments consisted of hollow gourds, wooden drums, and _marimbas_. The drums were made of long strips of thin planks, which had been soaked in hot water to make them flexible. In this condition they were bent till the ends met, when they were fastened together and allowed to dry. They were capable of a good deal of noise when used industriously, and the natives who managed them seemed to give their whole minds and muscles to the operation.

The hollow gourds were blown upon as one might blow into the end of a door-key, and produced a sound like the heavy note of a bugle. The least unpleasant of all the instruments was the _marimba_. It consisted of small sticks placed over the mouths of gourds, and arranged on a portable table suspended from the performer's neck. In this position the sticks were beaten more or less gently, and as they were set to different notes the sound was a nearer approach to music than that of the other instruments.

A little of this performance was quite sufficient; and the Doctor distributed presents to the players and hinted that they could move on. But they were determined to give him the value of his money, and continued playing till Abdul came among them and said the _Ingleez_ had had all they wanted. Even this did not succeed in stopping them, and they were only induced to discontinue their labors by the promise of more presents in the morning, coupled with the threat of nothing whatever in case they made any more noise that night.

[Illustration: SHAM DEMONS READY FOR BUSINESS.]

CHAPTER XX.

DEPART FROM FOUEIRA.--INTERVIEW WITH KING RIONGA.--THE PLATEAU OF CENTRAL AFRICA.--EXPLORATIONS OF THE NIGER.

Doctor Bronson decided that there was no occasion for a hasty departure from Foueira, but at the same time he allowed no delay in getting everything in readiness. Abdul was busy from morning till night, arranging the packages, organizing the gangs of porters, preparing the provisions, and doing a hundred other things that were necessary. He was greatly assisted by Frank and Fred, who acted under the general direction of Doctor Bronson.

King Rionga came to visit Foueira the day after the Doctor's arrival, so that our friends had a chance to see the monarch with whom Baker Pacha became united in the bonds of African brotherhood. He was accompanied by a dozen or more of his high officials, and a miscellaneous following of attendants. The king wore a robe of native cloth, made from the bark of a tree, and beautifully embroidered, while his attendants were arrayed in the same material, but without any adornment. Each of them carried a spear, that of the king being a foot longer than the spears of his officers, and its head was made of gold instead of common iron. The king expressed his pleasure at meeting the "Ingleez," and invited them to call at his residence on their way to the south.

[Illustration: VIEW ON THE ROAD.]

On the sixth day everything was ready, and just a week after their arrival at Foueira Doctor Bronson and Fred, accompanied by Frank, whose stay had been longer than theirs, mounted their horses and set out for the place where they expected to see King Rionga. He had left his island, and was at a village about five hours' march from Foueira, on the road to M'rooli. The village was in a bend of the river a short distance below the end of the island where the king lived at the time of Baker's visit.

The caravan of porters had been sent off early in the morning, with instructions to go into camp in the neighborhood of Rionga's village, but not too near it, for fear of quarrels with the king's people. Abdul selected the spot for the camp, with the assistance of one of Rionga's officers, so that there was a good understanding between them. The king ordered half a dozen huts constructed for the use of Doctor Bronson and the youths within a hundred yards of the royal residence, and sent a messenger out on the road to conduct the party to their temporary abode.

Our friends made their toilets, and sent word to the king that they would call on him whenever it was his pleasure to give them a reception. The messenger returned with the announcement that Rionga was ready to receive them, and they at once proceeded to his "palace."

[Illustration: THE KING'S RESIDENCE.]

In the ordinary meaning of the word it was not much of a palace. It was a building of a single story in height, with a veranda in front, where the king enjoyed the air in the afternoon; and the roof was covered with a mass of turf and thatch, to exclude the heat. Abdul said it was not the regular residence of Rionga, and therefore was less extensive than they might have expected. Perhaps it was because the interior was not well furnished that his majesty did not invite them to enter, but motioned them to be seated on the veranda. Frank took mental note of the surroundings, and remarked that the king had a fondness for cows, as he had a cattle-yard close by, and a couple of feeding and drinking troughs for his favorite cows were in the space in front of the veranda.

It was not the regular hour for receptions, and it had been intimated to the king that Doctor Bronson and his young friends were not in the service of the Egyptian government, and did not wish the ceremony to have an official character. Only two of the king's officers were present; but, from certain whisperings and bustling inside the building, it was evident that several persons were within hearing. Frank caught a glimpse of a female face peering through the door, and Fred thought he had a similar view a few moments later.

Coffee was brought in little cups, in the same manner as in Egypt, and some ripe bananas and other fruits were served. The interview did not last long, as it was late in the afternoon. When our friends rose to depart the king asked them to come again on the following morning, when he would receive them, in the presence of his officers and family.

When they returned to camp they found an ample supply of fruit, milk, and other things, which had been sent by the king's orders, together with several jars of "merissa," a fermented drink made from the juice of the banana. The Doctor said it was like a very poor quality of beer mixed with weak cider. None of the party cared for it, and as soon as the messengers who brought it had gone away the jars were handed over to the negro attendants, who emptied them very speedily. The fruits formed a very acceptable addition to the stock of provisions, and there was a great abundance of them, so that everybody about the camp had all he chose to eat.

Abdul said that the fermented drink made from bananas was to be found among most of the tribes in Central Africa, especially with those who lived in villages and were not essentially pastoral in their habits. During the expedition of Baker in the country of Kabba Rega that treacherous king sent several jars of merissa one evening as a present for the soldiers. They drank freely of it, and in a little while it was reported that all the men had been poisoned.

Baker went immediately to the huts of his soldiers, and found that those who had drank of the merissa were writhing with pain, and had all the symptoms of having taken a violent poison. There were at least thirty of them who were suffering; some were already insensible, and others scarcely able to breathe. Fortunately, Baker had a large supply of medicines on hand, and by prompt administration of them he saved the lives of every one of his followers.

[Illustration: KABBA REGA'S ATTACK AND DEFEAT.]

The next day the object of the king in poisoning the soldiers was apparent. His troops attacked the Egyptian camp, expecting that the greater part of his enemies would be dead, or at least unable to fight. It did not require a long time for them to find out their mistake, as the soldiers rallied, and not only drove back the assailants, but burned the town and the house where the king lived. They did not succeed in capturing the monarch, as he soon discovered how the affair was going and made good his escape.

The next morning our friends went to repeat their call on the king, who received them in an open space in front of his house, as the dwelling was altogether too small for the entire party of his attendants and royal household. They found him standing in a group of about twenty of his officers, all armed with spears, according to the custom of the country, and in much the same dress as they wore at Foueira. The king's wives and children were present, but somewhat in the background. They showed great curiosity to have a look at the strangers, but did not venture beyond the bounds that had been set for them. There was much craning of necks, and many expressions of "Wah! wah!" which is said to indicate astonishment or admiration, like the "Oh!" of civilized lands.

The boys wished to "astonish the natives" by bringing out the galvanic battery and treating some of the attendants of the court to a shock; but the Doctor said there was hardly sufficient time to do so; and besides, the instrument would not be entirely new to them. Colonel Long gives an account of the use of a magnetic battery at Rionga's court, to the great astonishment of the people, who believed the little instrument endowed with magical powers. He says that he knocked several of the natives down with the violence of the shocks, and the performance was received with shouts of wonder and superstitious awe.

[Illustration: THATCHED HUT IN RIONGA's VILLAGE.]

The Doctor had the forethought to bring along one of the musical-boxes, which he set in operation, to the delight of everybody, and especially of the women and boys who gathered around. The effect of the music was irresistible, and before a dozen notes had been sounded half the audience were capering around with wild delight. When the performance was over the box was given to Rionga, and Abdul explained how it should be wound and set in operation. The king was greatly pleased with the present, and the dignity of the court was relaxed to allow his officers to crowd around and look at it. Doctor Bronson said it was probable that within a week the instrument would be ruined beyond repair, as Rionga would be likely to endeavor to find out how it was made, and the result could hardly fail to be as injurious as the attempt of a child to ascertain the source of the sound in a squeaking doll.

The interview with the king lasted a couple of hours, and then Doctor Bronson and his young companions made their farewells and started to leave. Just as they were doing so Ali came to the Doctor's side and whispered a few words, to the effect that some of the porters refused to move on, as they wished to remain another day at Rionga's village.

It seemed that the king had sent a supply of merissa to the camp sufficient for the entire force of porters. Instead of being grateful for the donation they wanted more, and so had refused to start. They knew that as long as they remained there the king would be likely to provide the same quantity of merissa daily, out of respect for their masters, and of course the latter would be compelled to make indirect payment with presents.

The Doctor had no idea of allowing his porters to control his movements in this fashion; and believing the shortest way was the best, he asked Rionga to tell the men to go on, and that they would not receive any more merissa.

The desired order was given at once, and the porters obeyed. The incident delayed the departure of our friends for another half-hour, as it was necessary to make some presents in return for the favor shown by the king. A few beads and hatchets were sufficient, and then the music-box was again wound up and set going, to the renewed delight of the listeners.

When it was reported that the caravan was under way and the camp entirely deserted, the ceremony of leave-taking was once more performed. Doctor Bronson intended to return on foot to his huts, where the horses were waiting, but the king asked that the animals should be led up and mounted in his presence. Horses are rarely seen in this part of the country. The king was familiar with them from having been often to Foueira, but he desired to treat his wives to the strange spectacle of Englishmen on horseback.

The steeds were brought up, and held by their grooms till their riders were ready to mount. Doctor Bronson sprang lightly into the saddle, and at almost the same instant Frank and Fred did likewise. The "Wah! wah!" was loud and prolonged, and it was evident that the family of the king had witnessed something unusual. Frank's horse was unused to the presence of royalty, and began to dance, as though wishing to throw his young rider. The youth was not at all alarmed at the performance, and speedily brought the animal to terms, though not without some rearing and plunging that caused a repetition of the cries of amazement on the part of the beholders.

[Illustration: THE COUNTRY BACK FROM THE RIVER.]

On leaving the village the road turned away from the river, and did not again approach it during the day. The country was undulating, with occasional level plains, covered with heavy grass, and with belts of forest similar to that which lines the banks of the river. In the hilly regions there was little timber, the richest forests lying in the lower portions, and especially on the borders of streams.

[Illustration: CROSSING A RIVER IN UNYORO.]

A few of the streams flowing from the mountains were sufficiently large to make their passage a matter of difficulty. There were no boats to be had at most of the crossings, and the only alternative was to wade or be carried across on the shoulders of the porters. Where the water was shallow our friends remained in their saddles and rode over at their ease; but in some places the bottom was treacherous, and the travellers did not think it wise to risk a fall. In these localities the horses were led over, and each rider exchanged the saddle for a seat on the shoulders of a stalwart negro.

They entered the country of Unyoro, or rather were some miles within its limits, before they were aware of it. There had been rumors of hostilities on the part of the Unyoro people before the party started up the river from Afuddo, but the last intelligence at Foueira showed that everything was quiet. Two or three villages were passed without halting. The natives manifested no unfriendliness; but, on the other hand, did not invite the strangers to stop and visit them.

Near every village there was a yard, where the cattle were driven at night, the same as we have already seen among the Dinkas and other tribes along the Nile. They passed some of the herds of cattle grazing on the hill sides, and the boys observed that the herders in charge of the stock seemed of a different type from the rest of the natives, being much lighter in color. They asked Abdul what it meant; and he explained that the stock-keepers are of a peculiar caste, and descended from the Gallas, who long ago conquered the country.

"They are called Bohooma," said Abdul, "and none but these people are allowed to attend the herds. The privilege descends from father to son; and if the herds are captured by neighboring tribes and carried off, the herders go with them, and remain in the same employment as before. They never carry weapons of any kind, or take part in battle, and nothing but death can separate them from their herds."

As they proceeded south our friends found that the rains were more frequent, and water-proof garments were constantly needed. Doctor Bronson had made careful provision for this emergency, so that there was comparatively little suffering in consequence, save that the humidity of the climate induced fevers, which did not spare a single member of the party. The medical knowledge of the Doctor was of great use at this time, and as there was a plentiful supply of sulphate of quinine in the medicine-chest, and each of the travellers had a pocket-case constantly within reach, the suffering was reduced to a minimum.

The boys endorsed the statement of previous travellers that rain and humidity are the chronic condition of Central Africa. They found the clouds a relief rather than otherwise, as the rays of the sun are excessively warm, especially in the middle of the day, when they become almost insupportable. The high elevation at which they were travelling made the nights very cold. An abundance of thick clothing prevented their suffering from the chilly nights, but their porters and attendants had no such protection, and were wretchedly miserable all the time the sun was below the horizon.

[Illustration: EFFECT OF A LONG RAIN IN AFRICA.--ANIMALS SEEKING SAFETY.]

While they were at dinner, on the second evening after leaving Foueira, the conversation naturally turned upon the peculiarities of the region they were traversing.

"It is only within the present century," said the Doctor, "that we have definitely ascertained the geography of the interior of Africa. It was formerly supposed to be a mountainous region, sloping steadily away to the sea; and there was a tradition, as I have before told you, of the great rivers of Africa rising near each other and flowing in different directions, as the water is carried from the roof of a house.

"The explorations of Livingstone, Burton, Speke, Du Chaillu, Cameron, Baker, and others have demonstrated that the centre of the continent is a vast plateau, or table-land, elevated from two thousand to four thousand feet above the level of the sea. There are mountains in the centre, and in various parts of this plateau, eight or ten thousand feet high, and there is a rocky rim or edge nearly all the way around it, with occasional openings, through which the rivers find their exit."

Frank was pushing aside his tea-saucer, when the Doctor paused and told him to invert it on the table.

"Now," he continued, "you have in that tea-saucer, bottom upward, a fairly good picture of the interior of Africa. Let the table where it is lying represent the ocean surrounding the continent. The rim on which it rests when right-side up is the mountainous ridge enclosing the central plateau, and the space in the centre is the plateau, or table-land. The slope from the ridge to the edge of the saucer is the strip of land around the coast. It varies greatly, as it is very narrow in some parts of the continent and quite broad in others. If you break a few notches at irregular intervals along the ridge you will indicate the depressions where the rivers pass from the equatorial basin to the great ocean."

Frank was about to make the notches suggested by the Doctor, and thus complete the model of the "Dark Continent;" but he was checked by Fred, who suggested that they were a long way from their base of supplies, and tea-saucers could not be easily replaced. The practical illustration was consequently deferred indefinitely.

"It is in the central basin," Doctor Bronson farther explained, "that we find the great lakes which form the sources of the Nile, the Livingstone, and the Zambesi."

"How about the Niger?" Frank asked. "Does it come from the same basin, or does it have another origin?"

"The source of the Niger," replied the Doctor, "is far to the north of the great basin where the three rivers I have named have their origin. Thus far no European has seen the source of the Niger; it has been most nearly reached by Winwood Reade, who visited the stream at a point where it was not more than a hundred yards in width, and probably forty or fifty miles from where it has its beginning.

[Illustration: SUNSET ON LAKE TCHAD.]

"The Niger was partially explored by the brothers Lander, Richard and John, in 1830 and 1831; they visited it again in 1832 and 1834, and endeavored to establish trade with the natives along the lower part of the river, and also on its tributary, the Benoowe. The latter stream is sometimes called the Chadda, or Tchadda, as it is supposed to rise in Lake Tchad; but whether it does so or not is not fully established. The Niger is properly formed by the junction of the Chadda and the Joliba, the latter being the more western, and pronounced by those who have seen it to be longer and larger than the Benoowe."

One of the boys asked if any other Europeans than the Landers and Mr. Reade had explored the valley of the Niger.

"Yes," was the reply; "in its lower course it has been examined by so many that the names would make a long list. Near the end of the last century it was visited by Mungo Park, who was the first explorer of the upper valley of the Niger, and he went there again in 1805. Unfortunately for science, he was killed in this second expedition, and his papers were lost with him. In 1828 a Frenchman named Chaillié sailed down the river from Jenne to Timbuctoo, and reached Europe in safety. His account supplied the deficiency left by the death of Park; and in 1853 Timbuctoo was visited by Dr. Barth, a German traveller, who explored the river from that city to the town of Say, which lies in latitude 13° 8' south, and longitude 2° 5' east.

[Illustration: SCENE ON THE NIGER AT SAY.]

"Barth has left the account of his travels in three large volumes, which were published in 1857, and described his wanderings from 1849 to 1855. He died in Berlin in 1865, and is justly regarded as one of the famous explorers of Africa. His account of Timbuctoo is the best that has reached us. He had a good opportunity to see the city, as he was detained there nearly a year by the Sultan, who refused to let him go on.

"The aggregate length of his journeyings was some fourteen thousand miles, and the territory he opened to the knowledge of the civilized world may be roughly estimated at four million square miles. He explored Lake Tchad and a considerable portion of the valley of the Niger, settled several questions that were troubling the geographers, and made a large addition to the knowledge of the Great Desert of Sahara.

"We are wandering from the equatorial basin of Central Africa," continued the Doctor; "but while on this subject we may as well have a peep at Timbuctoo. We must make it in imagination, as there is very little prospect that any of us will ever get there in person. The French are talking about a railway from the Mediterranean to Timbuctoo, and they also propose an inland sea by cutting a canal to flood the depression of the Sahara desert. Timbuctoo would be near the southern shore of the proposed sea; but thus far the scheme has ended in nothing but talk. When the railway is completed, or the lake is formed, we will think about seeing the city, if, happily, any of us are alive.

"Timbuctoo had been heard of for centuries, but the first European to visit it was Major Laing, in 1826. Chaillié went there in 1828, and Barth in 1853; and, as I before told you, the latter has given us the best account we have had of the city.

"Timbuctoo is smaller than you might suppose from its age and celebrity. It has a population of about twenty thousand, which is largely increased at the time of the season of trade, between November and January. The city is a collection of huts of wood or stone, and there are few buildings of more than one story in height. There are three great mosques and several smaller ones. The largest of the mosques rises in the shape of a pyramid, with a broad base from the south-western corner of the town.

[Illustration: VIEW OF KABARA, THE PORT OF TIMBUCTOO.]

"Dr. Barth was not permitted to go inside the mosque; but he probably did not miss much, as the native accounts of it represent the interior to be quite plain and without ornament. The town is about nine miles from the banks of the Niger. Its port is called Kabara, and is on a sandy hill, sloping down to the river. There is a broad basin for boats at Kabara, which Dr. Barth thought might be artificial, but was unable to ascertain whether it was so or not.

"The trade of Timbuctoo is chiefly by caravans to Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Ghadames, about three hundred miles south-west of Tripoli, is the most important outlet for the products of Timbuctoo, and the most southerly point to which travellers may venture without great risk.

[Illustration: TIMBUCTOO, FROM THE TERRACE OF THE HOUSE OCCUPIED BY DR. BARTH.]

"The population of Timbuctoo comprises several varieties of negroes and Arabs, the latter coming from the desert regions to the north. All are Moslems of the most fanatical kind, and for this reason the life of a Christian is not safe in the city if his religion is known. The few Europeans who have been there went in disguise, and Dr. Barth said his death would have been a certainty if it had been known that he was anything but a Moslem."

Here Doctor Bronson was called from the tent by Abdul, who wanted advice about serving out provisions to the porters. Frank and Fred being left to themselves, the conversation took a lighter turn, though it did not leave the strange city they had been hearing about.

"It has been said," Frank remarked, "that the word 'Timbuctoo' has no corresponding rhyme in our language."

"Haven't you heard," said Fred, "the rhyme that somebody once made for it? Here it is:

"'If I were a cassowary, On the sands of Timbuctoo, I'd eat a missionary-- Eat his bones and hymn-book too.'"

"I think I can make another rhyme for it," responded Frank. "You remember the Buck brothers, that spent a summer in our town once, don't you?"

"Yes," replied Fred, "I remember them well; one was short and stout, and the other tall and slim."

"Exactly so. Now, how'll this do?

"Just see how soon I write down A rhyme for Timbuctoo: We had at one time in our town Stout Buck and Slim Buck too."

"Very good!" exclaimed his cousin. "But I can do as well as that without half trying. Wasn't President Buchanan sometimes called 'Old Buck,' by way of familiarity?"

"I believe he was," Frank answered.

"That being the case," said Fred, "he will do for a rhyme like this:

"To James Buchanan came a letter From the King of Timbuctoo: That monarch said, 'I can't do better Than write Old Buck and Jim Buck too.'"

"That will do," was the response; "and here's another to match it:

"Sim and I went to the races, By the coach from Timbuctoo: When we went to book our places I said to him, 'Please, Sim, book two. '"

Fred tried to compose something else on the subject, but the power of rhyming left him, and he gave up the attempt just as the Doctor returned from his conference with Abdul.

CHAPTER XXI.

TRAVELS OF DR ROHLFS.--THE TSETSE-FLY.--THROUGH UNYORO.

"There's another brave explorer of the valley of the Niger," said Doctor Bronson as he resumed his seat after the conference with Abdul, "whom we should not omit from the roll of honor."

"I know to whom you refer," said Frank.

"Who is it?" Fred asked.

"Dr. Gerhard Rohlfs," was the reply. "He is a German traveller, born near Bremen, in 1834, who graduated in medicine, and afterward entered the French army, and obtained the highest distinction open to a foreigner. His service was mostly in Algeria, where he learned the Arabic language, and in 1861 went to Morocco, where he assumed the character of a Moslem, and travelled a long distance in the Sahara desert."

[Illustration: A VILLAGE ON THE GUINEA COAST.]

"Quite right," said the Doctor, as Frank paused. "It was in that first exploration he was treacherously attacked and robbed by his guides in the desert, who left him for dead on the sands, with a broken arm. In 1864 he again travelled in Morocco, and a year later he started from Tripoli, in the disguise of an Arab, and went to Lagos, on the Gulf of Guinea, by way of Moorzook and other cities in that part of Africa. He passed Lake Tchad, and continued to the Niger, which he partially explored, together with the river Benoowe, which has already been mentioned. His name is familiar to many people in America, as he visited the United States in 1875, and lectured there on his travels.

"He tells some interesting stories of his adventures," the Doctor continued, "while travelling in disguise. He had managed to make the Grand Shereef of Morocco his friend, and he secured letters that caused him to be received with distinguished honors in most of the towns and cities that he visited. As he spoke Arabic fluently, and knew all the Moslem prayers by heart, his religious faith was not often called in question. Occasionally, however, he was open to suspicion, and as he was among the most fanatical Moslems his life was in great danger.

"At Tidikelt he was received very kindly by the prince to whom he had several letters of introduction. One day a Touareg sheik came to him and said,

"'I am a prince of the Touaregs; I have been in Paris, and know the whole country of France, and I know the Sultan of the Christians. I know you, and have seen you; you are a Christian, and a Frenchman or an Englishman.'

"Rohlfs assured the man that he was neither French nor English; but the latter was so certain about it that he went to the Prince of Tidikelt and stated his suspicions that Rohlfs was a French spy, who had come to see what the land contained. Fortunately, the prince did not believe him; and when Rohlfs spoke about the matter the prince replied that he was certain he would not have been able to get a letter of recommendation unless he had been a Moslem. He added, 'If a Christian should come into our land provided with letters from the Sultans of Stamboul and Morocco, I should at once hand him over to the people, for we don't want any Christians here.'

"The answer was not at all encouraging, as it showed the great danger he was in. He would gladly have left at once, but could not do so, as the mere fact of his trying to escape would only strengthen the suspicion against him. So he put on a brave front, and by the practice of his medical skill and careful attendance to the religious ceremonies he managed, in the course of a month or so, to get on friendly terms with everybody once more. Then he continued his journey, and in due time reached the regions where Christians were safe.

[Illustration: SCENE NEAR LAKE TCHAD.]

"In his journey from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Guinea Dr. Rohlfs had many narrow escapes, not only from the hostility of the natives, but from fevers and other diseases which have caused the death of so many explorers. In the neighborhood of Lake Tchad, during the period of the inundation of the flat country surrounding it, he was obliged to travel for several days where the water was five or six inches deep, and frequently he was forced to wade where it rose to his waist. He suffered much from fever caught in this region; and so unhealthy was the locality that several of his Arab companions died from the diseases contracted there. He was the first European to make the complete journey over the route he followed, and it was nearly two years from the time he started from Tunis till he arrived at the Gulf of Guinea.

"After leaving the Niger he traversed a part of the kingdom of Dahomey, but did not visit its capital. Do you know for what Dahomey is famous?"

"Yes," replied Fred; "at least, I know one thing which travellers have mentioned--it has an army of women instead of men."

[Illustration: AN AMAZON OF DAHOMEY.]

"Not exactly an army of women instead of men," said Doctor Bronson, "but an army of both. The Amazons, as the feminine warriors are generally termed, are in a separate division; and, according to Captain Burton, who has visited the country, they take precedence and insist that they shall be called men. They have officers of the same rank as the other portion of the army, and these officers are always of their own sex. There are about three thousand of these Amazons, and they are armed, as far as possible, with the same weapons as the men. They are said to be the bravest portion of the army, and are the great reliance of the king whenever a fortified place is to be attacked."

One of the boys asked how they were recruited.

"As to that," was the reply, "the whole population is liable to military duty, and the king can call to arms every person in his dominions who is able to enter the military ranks. Before a girl can be married she is taken before the king, and if he likes her looks she is at once enlisted for a soldier, and that is the end of the proposed match. The Amazons are not allowed to marry, and any man who asks one of them to do so is in danger of losing his head. Most of them are so old and ugly that they are not in danger of any one falling in love with them. Captain Burton says they are generally larger than the men, more capable of enduring fatigue, and, as far as his observation went, they make better soldiers.

"There is a good deal of romance about the kingdom of Dahomey," the Doctor continued. "It is a country with less than half a million inhabitants, few manufactures, little commerce, and under the rule of a treacherous and tyrannical king. Human sacrifices were formerly very frequent, but within the last twenty years they have been mostly suppressed, through the influence of the British, who invaded the country in consequence of an insult to their consul at Lagos. The country abounds in wild beasts of nearly all the kinds known in Africa, and it is said that the boa-constrictor in Dahomey grows to an enormous size. We are not likely to visit the country, and so it will not make much difference to us whether they are large or not."

The conversation was again interrupted by Abdul, who came to say that he thought one of the horses was suffering from the bite of the tsetse-fly, and was afraid they might lose it.

"I have been fearing for some time," said the Doctor, "that as soon as we entered the region of the tsetse-fly we should lose the horses. We are not fairly in its range at present, and I hope the report that the horse has been bitten by one of these pests is incorrect."

The incident naturally changed the topic of discussion. Doctor Bronson gave a brief account of one of the dreads of all African travellers. It will be found more fully described in the first volume of Dr. Livingstone's travels.

[Illustration: 1, THE TSETSE. 2, THE SAME, MAGNIFIED. 3, ITS PROBOSCIS.]

"The tsetse-fly," said the Doctor, "is scientifically known as _Glossina morsitans_; it is about the size of the common house-fly, and is of a brownish color. It is very quick in its movements, and will evade the most dexterous attempts to capture it with the hand except in cool mornings or evenings, when it is less agile than at other times. Its bite causes the death of the ox, the horse, and the dog. A remarkable feature about it is that, while it is fatal to oxen and cows, it is perfectly harmless to calves until after they are weaned."

"How is it that men can travel where this fly abounds, if its bite is so deadly?" one of the boys asked.

"Because," was the reply, "its bite is no more injurious to man than is that of a mosquito. It causes a slight itching, just as does the sting of a mosquito, and that is all.

"The horse is the most ready victim of the tsetse-fly. It comes in swarms sometimes, and lights on the back of a horse by hundreds. There is no known remedy for its bite, and in less than a week the animal will die.

"The sting is not a sensible one to the horse or ox, and very often an animal may be bitten without being aware of it. In a few days there are symptoms of a cold; the eyes and nose throw off quantities of mucus, swellings appear under the jaws and elsewhere, the poor beast begins to grow thin, as if starving, and finally dies of exhaustion.

"The period for the disease to perform its work varies from one week to eight or ten weeks, and sometimes longer. It is a singular circumstance that, while oxen, dogs, and horses are killed by it, the donkey and mule escape altogether. Sheep perish from the bite of the tsetse, while the goat is unharmed; and it does not seem at all injurious to any of the wild animals of Africa. In the valley of the Zambesi there are whole districts where the natives can keep no domestic animals except goats; and it sometimes happens that, while one bank of a river is infested by the deadly fly, the other will be wholly free from it, and cattle may graze there in safety.

"When the natives are about to pass with their cattle through a tsetse region they endeavor to do so on a cold night, when the fly is quiet; and they take the precaution of smearing their animals with a paste made from ashes and other substances, so that the tsetse cannot bite through it. Inoculation does no good; and, until some remedy is discovered, many portions of Africa will be uninhabitable to those who desire to keep oxen and horses."

It turned out that the bite on the horse was not that of the dreaded tsetse, and so the animals were safe for the present at least.

It was getting late, and the conference came to an end with the dissertation on the deadly flies of Africa. The Doctor closed by saying that there was an insect in the western part of Africa whose bite has somewhat the same effect on man as the tsetse on the ox, though not likely to be as fatal.

"It is called the tampan," said he, "and bites between the fingers or toes in preference to other places. It varies from the size of a pin's head to that of a small pea, and abounds in the native huts. Natives do not suffer much inconvenience from its bite, but with Europeans there follows a swelling and itching of the wound; then come fever and some of the symptoms of cholera, and the fever occasionally results in the death of the victim. Happily, this insect does not abound in many parts of the country."

It rained most of the time during the night, and the next morning the ground was so wet that the caravan did not get under way till a late hour.

In the afternoon they passed close to M'rooli, a large village of Unyoro, situated where the river widens into the appearance of a small lake. A few hours later they crossed the Kafou River, where the water was up to the saddle-girths of the horses, and required the porters to use a good deal of caution in wading over it. Doctor Bronson said it was from this point of the main route that Baker turned aside along the banks of the Kafou when he went to discover the Albert N'yanza.

"Colonel Long describes a battle which he had in front of M'rooli," the Doctor remarked while they were resting by the side of the path; "and it must have been where we see the river widening out that the fight took place.

"He was the first white man to descend the river from the Victoria N'yanza, and he did so in spite of the opposition of the natives. He discovered a lake, since called Lake Ibrahim, between here and the Victoria N'yanza, and as he approached M'rooli he saw a great number of canoes, full of natives armed with spears. They were stretched in a double line across the stream in such a way as to prevent its passage except by fighting, and their number was so large as to make the chance of victory very small for him and his few men.

[Illustration: COLONEL LONG'S BATTLE AT M'ROOLI.]

"There were five hundred natives against Long and his two soldiers; the natives were armed with spears and bows and arrows, while the others had breech-loading rifles of the best systems. They laid their cartridges ready, so as to fire as fast as possible, and Long ordered his two boats to be lashed together, and the Egyptian flag hoisted at the stern of the one occupied by himself; then he advanced. The negroes called out for him to stop, and when he refused to do so the battle began.

"The power of the white man's weapons over those of the savage was never more clearly shown than in this light. Long used a rifle carrying explosive shells, which shattered the sides of the boats, throwing the men into the water, and completely putting an end to their thoughts of fighting in the effort to save their lives.

[Illustration: COLONEL LONG'S COMPANIONS AT M'ROOLI.]

"In little more than an hour the battle was over. Four hundred and fifty cartridges had been expended by Long and his two soldiers, and the river was practically clear of their enemies, as most of the boats had been sunk, and the remainder returned to the shore. A large crowd gathered on the land and pursued along the banks; but they could do no harm, as the river was wide enough to enable the strangers to keep out of reach of the weapons of their enemies.

"The report of this battle was received at Cairo before Colonel Long arrived there. The Khedive sent him a letter of congratulation for his skill and bravery, and promoted him to a high office in the Egyptian service. The two soldiers received the decoration of the Order of the Medjidieh and the rank of sergeant-major in the army."

[Illustration: A GROUP OF KIDI MEN.]

Soon after moving on from the point where Long's adventures at M'rooli were narrated the party met a group of men in a style of dress which was new to the boys. The principal garments, and by far the most valuable part of the wardrobe, consisted of rings made of brass wire. These rings were around the arms of the wearers in three places--at the wrist, elbow, and shoulder--and also around the neck, which was enclosed so stiffly as to remind the Doctor of the stocks formerly worn as a fashionable adornment in England and America, and not yet altogether out of use. The men carried spears and shields, and some of them had their ears decorated with enormous rings of brass.

Frank recognized them as Kidi men, from the description in Speke's book, and the illustration accompanying it. Kidi is on the other side of the Nile, and these men come over the river to pay tribute to the King of Unyoro, who has a sort of nominal control over them.

Kidi is said to be an excellent hunting-ground, especially for large game, and the boys regretted that there was no time to visit it. Abdul said the natives hunted elephants in a way not common in other parts of Africa. At Fred's request he described the process.

They have a spear with a long blade, sharp on both sides, and fastened to a short handle of iron, in the shape of a pear, so as to make it very heavy. Armed with these spears, men climb into trees where the herd can be made to pass, and when all is ready other men go out to drive the animals in the desired direction. As the elephants pass beneath the trees the heavy spears are dropped upon them. The hippopotamus is sometimes killed in the same way, but more frequently by the trap already described.

[Illustration: A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE HORSE.]

The road lay through a swampy region, and the rains caused many of the holes to be filled with water, so that the travelling was none of the best. In many places it was not safe to remain on the horses, and a good part of the way was made on foot by the Doctor and his young companions. Doctor Bronson said that if this kind of road continued it would be necessary to walk altogether, or be carried on litters, after the custom of Africa.

The horses began to show signs of fatigue, and indicated very plainly that the climate of Central Africa was not suited to their constitution. Their temper was not at all improved, though perhaps this was due quite as much to their treatment by their grooms as to the climate of the country. Frank said his horse never omitted an opportunity to kick at him, and it was preferable to approach the animal at the head rather than at the heels. The Doctor said it would be something never before accomplished to take a horse all the way across Africa, and if they succeeded in getting their steeds beyond the southern end of the Victoria N'yanza they would have done something to be proud of.

They had many speculations as to the possibility of escaping the tsetse, which had already given them an alarm, though happily a false one. Fred proposed to envelop his horse in a garment of antelope-skin, or something equally impervious to the sting of the fly. The Doctor suggested that he would have a hard time to make the horse understand the use of this new covering, and if he was compelled to wear it constantly the health of the beast would be endangered almost as much as by the fly.

On the whole, they concluded not to borrow too much trouble about the future, but to take as good care as possible of the animals that carried them and hope for the best. Both boys gave strict orders to their grooms and other servants to keep a sharp watch for the tsetse, and report the first indication of its presence. It was agreed that when there was reason to believe it was among them the native precautions should be adopted, and if any new measures could be devised they would be tried on the first occasion.

[Illustration: APPROACHING CAMP.]

CHAPTER XXII.

THE MARCH THROUGH UGUNDA.--ARRIVAL AT KING M'TESA'S PALACE.

The rest of the march through Unyoro was without incident of consequence, as the people were neither hostile nor familiar. The caravan avoided the villages, as the natives were sure to make exorbitant demands for the privilege of passing through their land, and if their requests were not heeded they would endeavor to "get even" by begging. All travellers in Unyoro have found the people persistent in begging. They take the example from their chiefs, and consequently their practice is not to be wondered at. Speke was plundered in this way of nearly all the property in his possession while passing through Unyoro, and he had barely enough left to take him to a station where he could find relief. Everything that the chiefs saw they wanted; and if the stranger was not prompt to display all his wares they lost no time in asking for them.

From Unyoro the party entered Ugunda, the country of King M'tesa, who is considered by Stanley and Long the most progressive ruler in Central Africa. Formerly a pagan, and indulging in the most horrid practices in the way of sacrifices, he became a Moslem, and was subsequently converted to Christianity by Mr. Stanley. We have already mentioned this conversion and the doubts as to its earnestness. Of late years two English missionaries have been residing near the court of M'tesa, and they report that he received their teachings kindly, and told them he should be glad if his people could be induced to give up idolatry.

[Illustration: A QUEEN OF UGUNDA DRAGGED TO EXECUTION.]

At the time of Speke's visit the king was quite ignorant of Christianity, and followed the idolatrous practices of his ancestors. He caused his attendants to be put to death on the slightest pretext, and sometimes on no pretext whatever. The fancy seized the king to order some one to be executed, and the order was obeyed. Speke said hardly a day passed that he did not see one of the queens led to execution by order of the king, and no one dared say a word in remonstrance. A cord was tied around her wrist, and she was dragged away by one of the court attendants, who did his duty zealously, not knowing when his own turn would come. Sometimes there were several of these executions in a single day, and it seems a wonder that there should have been any population left in the country.

Speke tried to persuade the king to consider the doctrines of Christianity, but without success. He had better fortune with Kamrasi, then King of Unyoro, though not much. The king wanted to look at the Bible, and accordingly Speke and Grant went to an audience with him, and carried a copy of the sacred book.

[Illustration: KAMRASI'S FIRST LESSON IN THE BIBLE.]

Speke endeavored to show the origin of the people in that part of Africa, and their identity with the Ethiopians of Scripture. He began with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Then he described the Flood, and how the descendants of Ham were black, and undoubtedly the parents of the Africans. When he had finished his account the king took the book and began to count the leaves. He had an idea that each leaf represented a year since the Creation, and he thought that if he counted the leaves he might ascertain the age of the world.

When he was about a quarter through he was told if that was what he desired he must count the words, and then he abandoned the task and closed the book. This was the extent of Speke's lesson in the Bible to a pagan king. Kamrasi had already robbed him of a good part of his property; and as the robberies and extortions continued without any abatement, it is evident that the teaching of the doctrines of Christianity had no material effect.

Before leaving Foueira, Doctor Bronson sent a messenger to M'tesa to announce his coming and to ask permission to visit the capital. It was agreed that the messenger should return with the king's answer, and wait at the frontier for the arrival of the Doctor's party. When they reached the frontier the messenger had not returned, and the Doctor was in some doubt as to the best course to pursue. He did not like to wait there, and thus lose valuable time; and, on the other hand, he feared it would be discourteous to advance without authority into the dominions of a man who might consider himself insulted, and had it in his power to stop the march altogether.

He finally determined to move on, but to send another messenger, who would intercept the first and make him hasten back to meet the travellers. In case they should have no word by the time they were within two days' march of the king's residence, they would then stop until the royal mandate had been secured.

Happily they were not delayed, as they met the messenger before reaching the point where it had been determined to halt. The permission to go to the king's residence had been granted, and the messenger brought a document in Arabic to that effect. With that indifference to time for which the Africans are noted, his majesty had taken several days to act upon a matter that could have been disposed of in a few minutes.

The country was much like that over which they travelled from Foueira to the frontier of Unyoro--grassy plains, alternating with stretches of forests, and occasional swamps that rendered locomotion difficult. There was an abundance of game, and if our friends had been inclined to the chase they might have bagged a goodly number of elephants, with no end of deer and smaller animals. Doctor Bronson thought it would not be judicious to delay their advance in order to hunt the elephant, which they were not in pursuit of for ivory; and, furthermore, it might not be satisfactory to the king to have his game killed without permission. But he had no hesitation concerning the antelopes and other edible beasts, and for the greater part of the time the larder was well supplied with venison, so that the preserved meats and vegetables were rarely touched.

There was hardly a day without rain; it began usually about an hour before sunset, and frequently fell with great fury till ten or eleven at night. Then the clouds cleared away, the sun rose bright in the morning, and by waiting a couple of hours our friends found the roads endurable. But in spite of the heat of the sun the water collected in the hollows, and there was altogether more wading and floundering through the mud than was to the taste of any member of the party.

[Illustration: MOUNTAINS IN THE DISTANCE.]

As they approached the capital of Ugunda the boys observed that there was a great deal of red clay in the soil, and whenever it was wet with the rain it showed an adhesiveness equal to the best qualities of glue. The king had ordered the roads swept for their advance, but the sweeping was more figurative than real; the path was cleared of fallen trees or other obstructions, but the absence of brooms was more conspicuous than their presence. In some places the path ascended hills two or three hundred feet high, but for the most part it was along the lowlands, since the natives are not at all fond of climbing when they can avoid it.

[Illustration: VILLAGES IN THE HILLY COUNTRY.]

The agricultural tendencies of the inhabitants were shown by the abundance of banana groves, some of them covering hundreds of acres, and producing enormous quantities of the well-known fruit. The banana is almost the sole resource of the people. They eat it raw or steamed--generally in the latter form, unless it is thoroughly ripe; they dry and pound it into a sort of coarse flour, for making bread, puddings, and soup; they press out the juice for making pombé, or banana-cider, as already described; and they boil the young shoots and eat them, as we eat spinach or cabbage. The land which yields a ton of potatoes will yield forty-four tons of bananas, and the surface necessary for supporting one man when planted with wheat will support twenty-five men when planted with bananas. What wonder is it that a population which can grow the banana is not inclined to industry?

Nearly every night the camp was made in or near a banana grove, and for a few beads or other commodities the party was allowed to gather all it wanted for its use. Sometimes the owner of a grove would see a chance to make something out of the transaction, and demand an exorbitant price; but he was generally brought to terms by a reference to the king, coupled with a judicious hint that the strangers were on their way to visit M'tesa. One frightened native offered the products of his garden for nothing, and was quite unwilling to accept payment for what was taken.

The last camp was made about ten miles from the royal residence, and just after the tents had been spread a messenger came from the "kahotah," or minister of state, to announce that his majesty had ordered a zeriba, or enclosure of huts, to be prepared for the visitors, and it would take at least a day to perform the work. The kahotah came shortly after the messenger, and went into camp about two hundred yards away. He declined to see Doctor Bronson or either of the youths, as they must first be presented to the king, but he sent an interpreter to find out all he could concerning them.

The real object of the delay was to ascertain exactly who and what the strangers were, so that the proper ceremonies could be observed for their reception. The kahotah told the interpreter that he would gladly meet the strangers, but the etiquette of the country prevented, and there is nothing for which the Africans are greater sticklers than this matter of etiquette. Royal courts are pretty nearly alike all over the world.

The kahotah brought some presents from the king to Doctor Bronson: part of them he delivered through his interpreter; but, after the custom of his country, he kept the greater portion himself. Abdul said the kahotah was a very important personage with the king, as he not only filled the office of minister of state, but also that of cook. All the dishes eaten by his majesty were prepared by the kahotah's own hands, so as to reduce the chance of poisoning; and as the kahotah was required to eat of every dish in the presence of his majesty before the latter touched it, he was pretty sure that no strychnine or other injurious substance had a place in it.

The delay of a day was utilized by a general brushing up of clothing and brightening of brass adornments, in order to make the entry into the capital of Ugunda as imposing as possible. Abdul went to see the kahotah and arrange the details of the procession to do honor to all concerned.

It was decided that the camp would be moved to a point within a mile of the capital, and there located for the night. At nine in the morning a column would be formed, consisting of the body-guard of the king, or, rather, a delegation from it; then a detachment of the royal troops, armed with muskets and lances; then the flags of Ugunda, Egypt, and the United States would be carried side by side, and followed by Doctor Bronson and the two youths; then would come the escort of the strangers, and the porters, with the presents for the king. The remainder of the Doctor's porters would remain in camp till the ceremony was concluded, when they would follow the Doctor to the zeriba which had been prepared for him.

Fortunately for everybody, there was no rain on the evening preceding the entry; and though the sun rose bright and clear, it was not quite as warm as usual. The road this time had really been swept, and, as it was fully twenty feet wide, it was better entitled to the appellation of road than anything our friends had yet seen in Central Africa. The king's troops were preceded by what was supposed to be a band of music. It kept up a steady din of horns and drums, without the least attempt at melody, and the instrumental part of the performance was aided by imitations of the crowing of cocks and the cries of various birds and animals.

[Illustration: FLAG OF UGUNDA.]

The flag of Ugunda proved to be of white and red, there being three times as much of the latter as of the former; and it was ornamented at the end with tassels of monkey-skin, cut from those parts where the hair was longest. This was probably the first occasion of the American flag being carried with that of Ugunda, and the boys were naturally proud of the event.

The horses attracted more attention than did their riders, for the simple reason that they were far more interesting as curiosities. White men were not uncommon in Ugunda, especially since the residence there of two English missionaries, but horses were rarely seen. Colonel Long was the first to ride a horse into Ugunda; and probably, up to the date of Doctor Bronson's visit, not more than half a dozen in all had escaped the dreaded tsetse and reached the region of the Victoria N'yanza. Many of the people had never seen a horse, and some of them believed that horse and man were one, and expressed great astonishment when the riders dismounted.

[Illustration: LONG'S FIRST VISIT TO M'TESA.]

When Colonel Long visited Ugunda and approached the palace, the king sent a messenger to ask that he would ride to the gate, in order that his majesty might see the animal on which he was mounted. The colonel gathered his reins and dashed down the slope of a hill to where the king was standing with his harem, who fled in terror at the apparition. The horse slipped and stumbled in a depression of the road, but quickly recovered; the colonel rode by at full speed and returned to the hill, amid the shouts of the assembled crowd. When he dismounted there was a rush of frightened men, as they had supposed till then that he was a Centaur.

Since that event the king and his people have been enlightened to some extent, but horses are still regarded with veneration, and are more strange in the eyes of the people than the elephant is in ours.

On the arrival of our friends the king was in front of his palace, which stands on the top of a gently sloping hill, commanding a fine view of the country for a considerable distance. At the foot of the slope a messenger requested the party to halt till the royal group had taken its position. The delay enabled the crowd to have a good look at the strangers, and it is fair to suppose that Frank and Fred returned the inspection with interest. The boys were favorably impressed with the intelligent appearance of the faces around them; they said they could readily understand why Ugunda was the most advanced of the Central African countries, and had been the first to welcome the missionary and his work.

A messenger came from the king to request the party to advance, and, amid the renewed din of horns and drums, it moved on once more. About fifty yards from where the king stood it halted, and then the Doctor and the boys dismounted, and left their horses in charge of the grooms. Under the guidance of the court interpreter they walked forward; their names were shouted in loud tones; they advanced to the king and bowed; the king inclined his head very slightly, in recognition of their obeisance, and the ceremony was over.

The formal presentation was to take place the next day, in the king's palace, and in the mean time the strangers were to be allowed to rest. The presents intended for the king were deposited in the zeriba prepared for the Doctor, to which the entire party was immediately conducted by the kahotah, who now showed himself for the first time.

[Illustration: UGUNDA BOY.]

Several attendants were sent by the king to wait upon the Doctor and his young friends. Abdul said the best use to be made of them was to lodge them in one of the huts, and require as little service as possible from them. Their real office was to see and report upon everything that the strangers had and did, and particularly to tell what they possessed which could be of use to the king. Consequently, whatever the Doctor had which he did not wish to be called on to present to his majesty was kept carefully out of sight; and though the attendants repeatedly intimated that they would like to examine the contents of certain boxes and bales, they were not accommodated.

The zeriba prepared for the Doctor was on the side of a hill fronting the one on which the palace stood. It was the same which was occupied by Stanley, Long, and others, and is supposed to be in readiness at any time for the reception of distinguished visitors. There were a dozen or more huts inside a palisade: one, larger than the rest, was the special residence of the Doctor, and two others close by had been hastily thrown together for the boys. The other huts were for the dragoman, servants, and escort; and the attendants, who had been sent to keep watch, were instructed to order more huts erected if necessary. The construction of a house in Central Africa is an affair of only an hour or two, and the number could be multiplied indefinitely till all the space was occupied.

[Illustration: VIEW OF M'TESA'S PALACE FROM DOCTOR BRONSON'S ZERIBA.]

Frank busied himself in the afternoon in making a sketch of the scene from the front of their encampment. The picture included the slope of the hill, covered with conical huts, and divided into little gardens. A broad road led up the hill and around to the summit, and in order to reach the entrance of the palace it was necessary to follow this bend of the road.

A few trees were scattered along the sides of the hill, but the vegetation was not abundant. Abdul explained that the most of the wood had been cut away for fuel, and the king was not inclined to have many trees around his residence, as they would give shelter to an enemy in case of hostilities. Wood was a scarce article in the capital of Ugunda, and Doctor Bronson soon found it necessary to ask the king for a detail of men to supply them with fuel. In spite of the position of the place (less than thirty miles from the equator), the nights were cool, in consequence of the great elevation above the level of the sea.

The instruments were set up, and the latitude and longitude of Rubaga, the name of M'tesa's capital, was obtained by the Doctor as follows: Lat., 0° 21' 19" north; long., 32° 44' 30" east; elevation by barometer, not far from forty-five hundred feet. Atmosphere humid, and climate unhealthy for Europeans.

Frank found his sketch was a work of difficulty, as the natives crowded around and watched each stroke of the pencil with feverish anxiety, and with many expressions of wonder. Two of the attendants, armed with spears, were in front of the hut where he was occupied with his drawing; they kept up an incessant chatter in a language he could not understand, but their frequent glances in his direction showed that he was the subject of conversation. When he had finished one of them examined the sketch with great care, and immediately started for the palace, with the intention, no doubt, of informing his royal master what the young man had been doing.

The natives displayed a great deal of curiosity: they not only examined all inanimate things belonging to the party, but pulled at their clothing, took their caps from their heads, and were never weary of pulling at their hair, as if wishing to ascertain what made it so free from kinks. It was frequently necessary to repress their eagerness; but everything was done with such good-nature that it was difficult to get angry with them. Frank suggested that they shut the gates of their zeriba and admit nobody unless he had business inside; but the Doctor said it would be best not to do so. There would be a better chance of studying the people if they could come and go as they liked, and, besides, it would make a more favorable impression on the king, who would certainly be informed of all that occurred.

[Illustration: A WARRIOR OF UGUNDA.]

While Frank made his sketch of the hill of Rubaga, Fred induced one of the warriors to stand for his portrait, which the youth put upon paper, the man remaining motionless as a statue for at least half an hour.

Under the drawing he wrote the following notes:

"He is a handsome, well-formed negro, not an inch less than six feet in height, and with a head that resembles John M'Cullough dressed for Othello. His left arm is quite bare, and supports the triangular shield which is a part of his military equipment. It is a light frame, covered with dried hide and decorated with pieces of monkey-skin, to which the hair still clings. Knotted and fastened over his right shoulder he has two garments like cloaks; one is made of bark-cloth of a yellowish color, and the other of the skins of very young antelopes, sewn together as skilfully as the best operator of New York or London could perform the work. His ankles are encircled with rings of brass wire, his hair is closely cut, with a parting on one side, and his feet are without shoes. He has two spears over his right shoulder, as his official position requires him to be armed in this way. The customary weapon of the Wagunda, as the people of the country are called, is a single spear; and a person of any rank whatever would injure his reputation if he went abroad without it."

The king sent presents of bananas, rice, fruit, and jars of pombé, together with a large jar of milk, as he knew from experience that the foreigners were fond of that article. He sent a high official to ask if anything else was wanted. Doctor Bronson thanked the officer, both in words and with a present, and told him their needs were all supplied. The officer hid the Doctor's present under his cloak and went away, but soon returned with the announcement that the king would hold court the following morning and receive the strangers. As they were already informed of this arrangement, the Doctor suspected that it was a device to extort another present, and therefore paid no farther attention to it.

[Illustration: VIEW Of RUBAGA FROM THE GREAT ROAD.]

CHAPTER XXIII.

CEREMONIES AT M'TESA'S COURT.--THE TELEPHONE IN AFRICA.

The ceremonies at court on the following day proved to be of a most interesting character, and were thus described by Frank in his journal:

"We were ready at the appointed time, each of us wearing a suit of spotless white. We were accompanied by Abdul and three servants, the latter carrying our chairs. The officer who came to escort us said the king was engaged in hearing the reports of his ministers, and would be pleased to receive us. Of course we took that as a hint to move, and were off at once.

"The audience-chamber may be described as an exaggerated hut of the Ugunda pattern, with a broad opening at one side. It has a double roof over the entrance, the outer one projecting like the eaves of a house, and supported by posts, that somewhat impede the view, though not to any great extent. Both roofs are covered with thatch, and a fire would make sad havoc in a short time.

"Places had been reserved for us on both sides of the oblong block which served as a royal seat. Doctor Bronson and myself were motioned to sit on the right of his majesty, while Fred and Abdul were placed to the left. They were a little farther back than we, so that the side of the door-way hid a good deal of the outside spectacle from their sight. The Doctor, Fred, and I were seated on our camp-chairs, while Abdul remained standing by Fred's side, and close to where the courtiers and cup-bearers came when they had anything to offer to the king.

[Illustration: A RECEPTION AT THE COURT OF KING M'TESA.]

"M'tesa sat on a block of wood that resembled a large door-step, and was covered with skins of several wild animals, that of a leopard being uppermost and in the centre. His feet just touched the matting which lay upon the ground in front of him, and he sat for the most of the time as motionless as though being photographed, and with his hands folded on his lap. A little distance from him were several attendants squatted on the mat and waiting for his orders.

"On the ground outside, and seated in the same way as the slaves, was a semicircular group of courtiers, perhaps a hundred in all. At the left of the king, and just outside the door of the audience-room, were three or four men, wearing red caps, like the Turkish fez. They were ferocious-looking fellows, and each had a small cord twisted round his cap, which told plainly what their duties were.

"I looked at them carefully out of the corner of one eye as they kept their gaze rigidly on the face of M'tesa. What do you suppose they were?

"These ferocious men were the court executioners, and down to the time of Stanley's visit, in 1876, their duty was to strangle such persons as were designated by their royal master. These victims were taken from the group of courtiers or by-standers, and every man who went to the ceremonies at M'tesa's court was liable to be offered up as a sacrifice at the end of the performance. Sometimes ten victims, sometimes five, and sometimes as many as thirty, were strangled in a single morning by the king's order, as an offering to the gods who presided over the destinies of the kingdom of Ugunda.

"All is changed now since M'tesa has embraced Christianity, thanks to the labors of Stanley. The executioners have little to do in their former profession, and their service now is in the less ferocious work of serving as messengers or pages. Occasionally a criminal is put to death by royal command, but the custom of sacrifices has been abandoned, and probably forever.

"Speke found M'tesa a savage, with all the horrid rites of paganism in full sway. Stanley found him a Moslem, wearing the Arab dress, and requiring his court-officers to do likewise, but still retaining some of his pagan customs. We find him a Christian, and with Christian missionaries at work in his dominions. He has abandoned much of his former haughtiness and acquired the manners of Europe far more than we had reason to expect. His courtiers are no longer in the habit of rubbing their necks when they wake in the morning, to ascertain if their heads are still on their shoulders.

"Formerly it was the custom for everybody who approached the king to lie prostrate on the ground and wriggle up to his place, taking care not to expose the soles of the feet either in advancing or retiring. To do this was to offer great indignity to his majesty, and many a man has lost his head in punishment for not being handy with his foot.

"The prostration is no longer required. The courtiers advance, with the head bowed slightly, very much as they might approach a sovereign in Europe, and they deliver what they have to say without any sign of cringing. The courtiers squat or sit on the ground as they used to, and they continue to be particular about the soles of their feet. You cannot expect a complete change in manners in a single decade.

[Illustration: A TREE OF UGUNDA.]

"When the king had finished the ordinary business of the court he turned to his minister of state and asked about the strangers. The minister explained, what the king probably had learned already, that the strangers had come from a far country to look upon the ruler of the kingdom of Ugunda. They had brought presents of great value for this mighty king, and it gave them great pleasure to be present at his court.

"Then the king turned toward us, but continued to address the minister, saying he was glad to welcome the strangers, and hoped they would enjoy their stay in his dominions.

"Abdul translated the king's words, and thanked his majesty on behalf of Doctor Bronson and his two companions--rather, I should say, he thanked the kahotah who delivered the speech to the king. The latter then gave the signal, the drums sounded, and the ceremonies were over. The courtiers rose from their sitting postures and backed away from the enclosure in front of the hall, and only the guards and a few of the high officials remained.

"As soon as the place was cleared the king rose and stepped down from his throne. We immediately rose from our seats and waited his pleasure.

"He gave a slight nod to his prime-minister; the latter advanced, and introduced us, very much as we might be introduced to a private gentleman in his residence. We bowed as he did so. The king took Doctor Bronson's hand for an instant, and just glanced at Fred and myself, as we were probably too young for him to give us any serious attention.

"I can't do better, nor even as well, in the way of a personal description, than Stanley has done in his book, 'The Dark Continent.' Therefore I will quote from page 195 of the first volume:

"'_April_ 7, 1876.--In person M'tesa is tall, probably six feet one inch, and slender. He has very intelligent and agreeable features, reminding me of some of the faces of the great stone images at Thebes, and of the statues in the museum at Cairo. He has the same fulness of lips, but their grossness is relieved by the general expression of amiability, blended with dignity, that pervades his face, and the large, lustrous, lambent eyes that lend it a strange beauty, and are typical of the race from which I believe him to have sprung. His color is of a dark-red brown, of a wonderfully smooth surface. When not engaged in council, he throws off unreservedly the bearing that characterizes him when on the throne and gives rein to his humor, indulging in hearty peals of laughter. He seems to be interested in the discussion of the manners and customs of European courts, and to be enamored of hearing of the wonders of civilization. He is ambitious to imitate as much as lies in his power the ways of the white man. When any piece of information is given him he takes upon himself the task of translating it to his wives and chiefs.'

[Illustration: A DAUGHTER OF KING M'TESA.]

"The above description will answer perfectly for to-day. Stanley saw much more of the king than we have seen, not only in an official but in a social way, and he makes a pleasing picture of the court of Ugunda at the time of his visit.

"Stanley says the king could not sound the letter 'n' distinctly, and consequently made the explorer's name into 'Stamlee.' Though pronouncing the name of his guest repeatedly, he could never hit the proper sound. But if the king has trouble with foreign words, he may console himself with the thought that the foreigners have equal difficulty with the language of Ugunda. It is full of consonant sounds, and its vowels are few. The name of the king requires two consonants to be sounded together, and it is no slight task for the European tongue to get through "M'Tesa" without danger of choking. As far as we can observe, there are many words in the language which present the same difficulties, and Fred says anybody who comes to Ugunda to stay ought to bring some iron clasps to hold his jaws in place while talking.

"When the king stepped from his throne he dropped his own language and spoke in Arabic, and we saw at once there was no farther need of an interpreter. In a few polite phrases he said he was glad we had come to Ugunda, and hoped many of our countrymen would follow our example.

"'It is a long and difficult journey,' he added, 'and we have not much besides our lakes and hills to show you. We appreciate it when you come so far, and if there is anything you specially wish to see, it shall be shown.'

"Doctor Bronson mastered all the Arabic he could speak, and thanked the king for his offer.

"'We wish to see the Victoria N'yanza,' said the Doctor, 'and to learn what we can about your majesty's country.'

"The king answered that we should have all we wished, nodded his head just the least in the world, and looked away. Then he suddenly turned around toward the Doctor again, and said he would send him any provisions he might need for his men.

[Illustration: KING OF UGUNDA RETIRING.]

"He walked away, followed by his court officers. He has a dignified, almost haughty, manner of walking, and reminded me of Captain Speke's description of his striding off with two spears in his right hand, while with his left he led his favorite dog, which seemed to imitate the walk of his master. This peculiar step is supposed to represent the walk of the lion, which is the beast to which the king loves to be compared.

"We walked slowly back to our zeriba, followed by a large crowd that pressed curiously around us. Their attentions were sometimes inconvenient, but nobody intentionally offered any affront.

"We had not reached our quarters more than ten or fifteen minutes before the presents which the king had promised us began to arrive.

"There were bags and jars, bundles and baskets, almost without number. They contained samples, and large ones, too, of nearly all the edible things produced in the country. There were potatoes, yams, bananas (green and ripe), eggs, chickens, milk, melons, tomatoes, cocoa-nuts, cassava flour, banana flour, pombé, and several varieties of fruits unknown to us. We have the products of the tropics and some of those of the temperate zone, and if the king's bounty continues there is no danger that we will starve in Ugunda.

"Now was the time to send our presents to the king, the etiquette of the court requiring that they shall be made as soon as possible after an interview. Accordingly we despatched Abdul with the cloth, beads, jewellery, hatchets, knives, and other things of that nature which we had intended for M'tesa, and with the announcement that we had some other things to deliver in person and explain their uses, whenever it pleased his majesty to receive them.

[Illustration: NATIVE OF UGUNDA, WITH HUNTING SPEAR.]

"Abdul returned with a message from the prime-minister that the king would receive us and our presents the next morning, at a less formal assemblage than the one we had attended that day. Soon after his return there came an additional present, in the shape of five cows, twenty sheep, and as many goats, which were intended to supply our camp with fresh provisions.

"The cattle resemble the Durham breed of England, and are the finest animals of the kind we have seen in Africa. They are kept mainly for their milk, as the Wagunda rarely eat beef; their diet is principally vegetable, with the occasional addition of the flesh of sheep, goats, and chickens. The king has large herds of cattle, and he sometimes sells them to the Arab traders, who take them to regions where such animals bring higher prices than in Ugunda.

"The next morning we went to deliver the presents, having received notice that his majesty was ready to receive us. We found him in the open space in front of his audience-hall, accompanied by his wives and court officials--about fifty of the latter, and at least a hundred of the former. Fred and I thought that a hundred wives was a good many, but Abdul said there were at least as many more whom we did not see.

"M'tesa is a very pleasant man when in the midst of his family, and he laughed and talked with them as freely as if he had not been king at all, but only an ordinary citizen. Of course we could not understand what he said, as we don't know ten words of the language; but, to judge by the laughter that followed his remarks, there must have been a good deal of fun in them.

"Our porters deposited the presents in a spot indicated by the prime-minister and then retired. We opened the parcels, and Doctor Bronson gave the things to M'tesa one after the other as the wrappings were removed.

"He was particularly desirous to obtain fire-arms, and we gave him a double-barrelled sporting gun of the Remington system, loading at the breech, and capable of being fired very rapidly. Then we gave him a rifle, with a case of explosive balls, which he immediately proceeded to test by firing one of them into a tree, where it exploded with great force and threw splinters of wood in every direction.

[Illustration: THE KING'S MUSICIANS.]

"A music-box was wound and set in operation. The king was familiar with music-boxes, as they had been brought by previous travellers. His wives showed the greatest delight at the sound which the instrument produced, and two or three of his little daughters could hardly remain quiet while the tunes were being played.

"We couldn't show the magic lantern, as it was in the daytime, but we brought out the telephone, and stretched about a hundred yards of wire from one side of the open space to the other. When the connections had been made and everything was ready, we asked his majesty to make an experiment with the strange machine.

"Doctor Bronson and Abdul went with the king to one end of the line, while Fred and I stood by the prime-minister at the other, with Ali to serve as our interpreter.

[Illustration: VISITORS IN THE ZERIBA.]

"Under the directions of the Doctor, M'tesa spoke through the instrument, and immediately received a response from our end of the wire. The voice of the minister seemed to be close to his ear, and he looked around, with an angry expression on his face, as if he believed there was some trick about it.

"The kahotah was so far off that he could only be heard by shouting, and then the king spoke again through the telephone.

"The kahotah responded immediately. To say the king was astonished is to express very mildly his mental condition.

"In some doubt as to what was going on, he called one of his daughters, a little girl about eight or nine years old, who spoke Arabic fluently, and sent her to our end of the line. Evidently he thought it possible that the minister might be in collusion with us, and therefore he called the girl, as he knew she had not seen us till that morning, and had not spoken a word to any of our party.

"She talked with her father both in their native language and in Arabic. As soon as they began speaking Doctor Bronson walked away a few yards from the king's side, so as not to overhear the conversation; and Fred and I walked away from the little girl in the same manner.

"They talked there for nearly half an hour, and then the king asked if we could do the same thing at a greater distance.

"We told him we could talk that way farther than he could possibly travel in a whole day.

"'Can you talk from my palace to your zeriba?'

"'Certainly,' the Doctor answered. 'We will do so to-morrow, if it is your majesty's pleasure.'

"It was agreed that the next morning, at the same hour, we should have a conversation between the king's palace and the zeriba, and with this understanding the interview came to an end. The king was going to review one of his regiments, and asked us to see it, and of course we accepted.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN SPEKE ATTENDING A REVIEW OF THE UGUNDA TROOPS.]

"We found the troops just outside the palace yard, where the hill slopes away to the south. There were eight or nine hundred men, armed with spears and shields; they stood in a sort of irregular line, and at a signal from their officers a dozen soldiers came forward and went through the exercise of handling their spears in an imaginary battle. It was the same performance as described by Captain Speke at the time of his visit. The king would like to have an army of soldiers drilled and armed after the European fashion, but thus far he has not been able to obtain the weapons. He has about five hundred muskets, bought from Arab traders and others, and has formed a body-guard, commanded by a former soldier of the Egyptian army. These men are armed with the muskets just referred to, and as they have been fairly drilled they make a creditable appearance.

"The two missionaries who have been living in Ugunda, but happen to be absent at this time, say that their efforts to teach the king the principles of Christianity have been somewhat retarded by his eagerness to obtain a plentiful supply of arms and ammunition. He thinks that to be a good Christian he ought to be able to shoot all his enemies, and some of his arguments have puzzled the missionaries not a little to answer.

"'You want me to be Christian,' he says to them, 'and you don't give me what belongs to a Christian king. The countries that you come from and tell about have great armies, with the best kind of guns, and plenty of them; and why shouldn't I have the same? You say your queen is a good woman and a true Christian, and you told me the other day that she has a great army and navy, to do just what she wishes; and you told me that other countries had just the same, and they are all Christian. I want to be Christian too, and be able to conquer the whole of Africa with my army.'

"It is easy to see that this line of argument must have been a troublesome one to the missionaries. We shall try our best to explain the matter if the king speaks to us about it, but are not altogether sure that we can remove his perplexity.

"When the review was over we returned to our zeriba. The afternoon was devoted to arranging for the telephone performance, and for this purpose we asked the prime-minister to have some poles erected where the wire could be stretched. He made some difficulty about it; but when we told him that the performance could not come off without it, he sent for the poles, and had them put up as we desired. We stretched the wire about twelve feet above the ground, and asked to have orders that no one should touch the poles or the wire. Abdul said there was not the slightest fear of a disturbance of our apparatus, as the natives believed it was something supernatural, and not one would go near it, through fear that his life would pay the forfeit.

"In the morning the king was ready at the appointed time, and sent word that he would commence the 'magic talk.' We made the same division of our numbers as at the first experiment, Doctor Bronson and Abdul attending to one end of the line, while Fred and I, with Ali, managed the other. It was necessary to do this in order to prevent any derangement of the apparatus through the eagerness or ignorance of the natives.

"About half the number of the officials of the court were sent to the zeriba, together with a dozen or more of the king's wives and daughters. The king, at his end of the line, talked a few moments with one and then with another, until he was completely satisfied that there was no trickery about the mysterious wire and the boxes at the ends. The teachings of his childhood returned to him in contemplating the telephone: he at once attributed it to the spirits, and evidently regarded us as magicians of the highest rank.

"When the performance was over he ordered a fresh supply of presents to be sent to our zeriba. We were fearful that he would want to retain the telephone; but he was evidently afraid of it, and felt relieved when the wire was removed, and the whole apparatus had been packed away in the cases where it belonged."

CHAPTER XXIV.

AT M'TESA'S COURT.--VISIT TO THE VICTORIA N'YANZA.--ASTONISHING THE KING.

Continuing our acquaintance with M'tesa, King of Ugunda, it will be interesting to hear the story of the conversion of that monarch to the religion of Europe and America.

[Illustration: HENRY M. STANLEY.]

On page 202 of the first volume of "The Dark Continent," Stanley says as follows:

"Since the 5th of April I had enjoyed ten interviews with M'tesa, and during all I had taken occasion to introduce topics which would lead up to the subject of Christianity. Nothing occurred in my presence but I contrived to turn it toward effecting that which had become an object to me--viz., his conversion. There was no attempt made to confuse him with the details of any particular doctrine. I simply drew for him the picture of the Son of God humbling himself for the good of all mankind, white and black; and told him how, when he was in man's disguise, he was seized and crucified by wicked people who scorned his divinity, and yet, out of his great love for them, while yet suffering on the cross, he asked his great Father to forgive them. I showed the difference in character between him whom white men love and adore, and Mohammed, whom the Arabs revere; how Jesus endeavored to teach mankind that we should love all men, excepting none, while Mohammed taught his followers that the slaying of the pagan and the unbeliever was an act that merited Paradise. I left it to M'tesa and his chiefs to decide which was the worthier character. I also sketched in brief the history of religious belief, from Adam to Mohammed. I had also begun to translate to him the Ten Commandments; and Idi, the Emperor's writer, transcribed in Kigandi the words of the Law, as given to him in choice Swahili by Robert Feruzi, one of my boat's crew, and a pupil of the Universities Mission at Zanzibar."

While Stanley was engaged in impressing the truths of the Christian religion upon the mind of this African king, there came one day the announcement that a white man was approaching from the north. The stranger came, and proved to be Colonel Linant de Bellefonds, of the Egyptian army, and at that time attached to the Soudan division, under command of Gordon Pacha. Colonel Linant met Mr. Stanley at M'tesa's palace, and the religious conversations were continued in his presence from time to time. His arrival was a material assistance to Stanley in converting the king; "for, when questioned," says Stanley, "about the facts which I had uttered, and which had been faithfully transcribed, M. Linant, to M'tesa's astonishment, employed nearly the same words, and delivered the same responses. The remarkable fact that two white men who had never met before, one having arrived from the south-east, the other having emerged from the north, should, nevertheless, both know the same things and respond in the same words, charmed the popular mind without the 'burzah' (court), and was treasured in M'tesa's memory as being miraculous."

In another place Stanley makes honorable mention of the poor Moslem laborer, Muley bin Salim, who converted M'tesa from the paganism in which Speke left him, and taught him the faith of Islam. Believing that one conversion could be followed by another, Stanley determined to build on the foundation laid by Muley bin Salim, by destroying the king's faith in Islam and teaching him the doctrines of Jesus of Nazareth. Colonel Linant, in his journal, makes an extended allusion to the good accomplished by Stanley, and the hours which they both devoted to the religious instruction of the king.[5]

[5] Colonel Linant de Bellefonds remained several weeks at M'tesa's court, and then returned to Gondokoro, which he reached in safety. In the month of August of the same year, while on another expedition, he was massacred, with his entire party of thirty-six men, most of whom were of the original "Forty" that accompanied Baker in his Soudan campaign.

Doctor Bronson and his young friends made several excursions in the neighborhood of Rubaga, and from the tops of the hills they enjoyed many charming views of the country. The region is one of the prettiest in Central Africa. There are few open plains or stretches of level land, as in the Unyoro country, and the marshes that make other parts of Africa so unhealthy are practically unknown. There is a succession of low hills, backed in the distance by ranges of mountains, and from most of the hill-tops the broad surface of the Victoria N'yanza is visible. Between all the ranges of hills there are brooks flowing down to the lakes, and as the rains are frequent in this part of the continent there is rarely any lack of water.

The boys were eager to look upon the Victoria N'yanza, and not only to look upon it, but to ride over its surface. The second day after their exhibition of the powers of the telephone to the king an excursion was made to Usavara, the station of the fleet of King M'tesa, at the head of a small bay which opened out from the lake.

[Illustration: ON THE ROAD TO THE LAKE.]

It was about ten miles from Rubaga to Usavara. The king had caused a fine road to be made from his palace to the lake. This road is ten or twelve feet wide, and suitable for carriages, though no wheeled vehicle had ever traversed it up to that time. Our friends made the journey on horseback, and were delighted with their ride. They realized the correctness of Stanley's description, who said it carried him through jungle and garden, forest and field. There were groves of bananas, plantains, and other products of Ugunda agriculture. There were forests of tamarind, mimosa, gum, and other trees; and there were plantations of the _ficus_, from whose bark the cloth for the national dress of the people is made. The villages of dome-like huts formed an almost continuous line, or would have done so if the dense foliage had not concealed the most of them from sight.

Up the slopes and then down again the road took its meandering way, and from each of the hill-tops a nearer view of the lake was obtained. The sky was clear, and the heat at times severe, but it was relieved in some measure by the foliage of the trees and by the breeze that blew from the lake.

They were accompanied by a high officer of M'tesa's court, who was instructed to show everything they wished to see. As they desired to inspect some of the royal canoes, the officer sent an order to the place where they were kept, and in a little while half a dozen boats came dashing through the water.

[Illustration: UGUNDA BOAT.]

The boats were of a construction different from anything the youths had ever seen. They were built with high, projecting prows, rising up like the neck of a swan, and ornamented with a tuft of feathers and the horns of an antelope. Some of the boats were hollowed from the trunks of trees, while others were made of strips of planks fastened to frames. In either case the sides were braced by means of cross-pieces, and the largest of the boats had planks and canes laid upon the braces, so as to form a deck. Frank compared the Ugunda boat to the Japanese sampan; but Fred pointed out the difference in the height of the prows, and also the fact that the sampan had a sort of cabin at the stern, which was not so in the Ugunda craft.

The men paddled instead of rowing, and Abdul said the use of oars as we employ them in America was almost unknown in Central Africa. The paddles were neatly cut from thin planks, and each paddle had a straight handle, terminating in a spoon-shaped point, hollowed a little, to give it a better hold on the water.

Evidently the king's rowers knew their business, as they propelled their craft through the water at an astonishing speed. Time was kept by a steersman, who sung a monotonous chant, and the paddles rose and fell in perfect unison. The boats were brought to the side of a little wharf which extended to where the water was six or eight feet deep, and a landing stage, consisting of a raft of reeds, furnished convenient access to the craft.

Doctor Bronson and the youths were invited to enter one of the boats for a ride down the bay. In a few minutes they were under way, at a speed of at least six miles an hour, propelled by the strong arms of the sailors of M'tesa's fleet. Where they entered the boat the bay was quite narrow. Doctor Bronson said it was the body of water to which Speke gave the name of Murchison Creek, while the water farther down was named Murchison Bay, in order to identify it with the creek.

[Illustration: VIEW ON MURCHISON CREEK.]

Several boats were out on the water, and the scene was an animated one. All of them were careful to keep out of the way of the king's craft, and therefore the course was kept as straight as a sunbeam, except where it became necessary to make slight deviations in consequence of the winding of the shores. An hour's rowing brought them to a village which, the officer explained, was one of the king's stations when he wanted to enjoy himself on a fishing excursion, or when preparing for a battle with his enemies on the other side of the lake. M'tesa has a powerful enemy on the eastern shore, and not unfrequently they try the strength of their boats against each other. One of these wars was in progress at the time of Stanley's visit, and the great explorer was able to render material assistance to M'tesa, and thereby win his friendship.

They did not go far enough down the bay to get a full view of the lake, as the distance was not less than twelve miles, and time did not permit. Frank and Fred were somewhat disappointed, but Doctor Bronson told them they would doubtless have the opportunity of traversing the lake in a few days, and therefore have all the fresh-water navigation they wanted.

[Illustration: HILLS BACK FROM THE LAKE.]

A little before sunset they went back to the point from which they started, and spent the night in some huts the king had ordered set apart for their use. The next morning they returned to Rubaga by another and longer route, which gave them a good view of the country around the capital of Ugunda. Everywhere were the villages, with their conical huts, half-concealed among the trees; and the numerous plantations of bananas and other edible things showed that the natives had no idea of starving. The boys observed that most of the work in the fields was performed by women. Abdul said the men were required by the king to serve as soldiers or boatmen, but a large number of them had very little to do from one month's end to another.

[Illustration: "ELEPHANT'S FOOT," OR "GOUTY-LIMBED," TREE.]

Fred called attention to some trees with very large trunks in proportion to their limbs. He remarked the curiously formed stump, and said he should call the tree by the name of "elephant foot," for the want of one which would be more descriptive.

"That is the name it is known by," said Abdul in reply. "Some of the native tribes call it the 'elephant's foot,' and it is also known as the 'gouty-limbed.' It belongs to the calabash family, and grows, as you observe, on the poorer kind of soil. It takes up its location where most of the other tropical trees decline to grow."

Everywhere they went the villagers came out to look at the strangers, and, as at Rubaga, the horses attracted more attention than their riders. One of them showed signs of illness, and just as they reached the capital his strength gave way, and he was unable to stand. He lay down in front of the hut that formed his stable, and in spite of every exertion his keepers could not persuade him to get up and go inside.

In the morning he was somewhat better. It was impossible to decide whether he was the victim of the dreaded tsetse-fly, or was simply suffering from some equine ailment which could be cured by rest and attention. All agreed that he must be kept as quiet as possible, and whatever excursions were undertaken for the present must be made without him. As a matter of precaution, it was decided that all three of the horses should be kept in their stables for the remainder of the stay at Rubaga.

In the afternoon the king sent for the Doctor and the youths to come to an audience. They went accordingly, and the Doctor carried, as a present to his majesty, a field-glass of great power--one of the best that could be found in London or Paris.

M'tesa was greatly pleased with the gift, and suspended the interview in order to try its powers. After devoting half an hour to levelling the glass upon the huts and people within range and observing the effect, he remarked that the glass and the "magic talker" ought to enable him to see and hear everything in Rubaga without going away from home. He asked if the white man could make glasses with which they could see in the dark. The Doctor was about to answer in the negative, but a hint from Frank caused him to give an evasive reply and promise to show something new in a day or two.

When the experiments with the field-glass were ended M'tesa entered into familiar conversation with the Doctor, and, among other questions, asked if he was acquainted with "Stamlee."

Doctor Bronson answered that he knew Stanley, having met him many times in New York and other places. The king had very little idea where New York was situated, and his chief concern was to know that the two were acquainted.

"Then if you know Stamlee," said he, "I suppose you will want to do just as he did?"

"Certainly," said the Doctor, though with some misgivings, as he feared he might be obliged to follow Stanley's example and assist the king to subdue some of his enemies.

He was set at ease immediately by the king, who said he was at peace with all his neighbors, and therefore there would not be the same difficulty in going to the "Running N'yanza" as there was in Stanley's time. The Doctor took the hint at once, and said they wished to visit the "Running N'yanza," or the place where the river leaves the great lake.

"Well," answered M'tesa, "you shall go to the Running N'yanza in a few days, and I will give you boats to go with. You can come back by land, and the porters will meet you at the falls."

Thus the plan of an excursion to the outlet of the Victoria N'yanza and the visit to Ripon Falls was completed in a few minutes. Speke had great difficulty in getting there at all; Long was obliged to ask many times before he received permission to go there, and then he had to fight his way down the river; and Stanley only succeeded in reaching the falls by accompanying the king on a warlike expedition against one of his rebellious tribes.

The "Running" or "Flowing N'yanza" is the name given to a river; while "n'yanza," without any prefix, simply means water, and may apply to any body of that liquid, from the contents of a drinking-cup up to one of the great lakes, or even the ocean. This general use of the word was sometimes confusing, but by degrees our friends came to understand it; and as for the Running N'yanza, there could be no mistake about that.

[Illustration: TREES AND CLIMBING PLANTS IN CENTRAL AFRICA.]

Before they left the royal presence the king hinted that if the white men had anything for seeing in the dark he would like to have it produced. At Frank's suggestion, an appointment was asked for the evening of the second day from that date, as it would be necessary to unpack some of the cases and make arrangements which could not be hurried.

The king gave the desired appointment, and the strangers went to their zeriba. Fred was puzzled to know what Frank intended to do, and as soon as they were out of hearing of the king he asked his cousin what he meant by hinting that they could enable his majesty to see in the dark.

"Perhaps we cannot literally make him see in the dark," Frank responded, "but we can go quite the distance in that direction. We'll show him something he has never seen yet."

"What is that?"

"Gas."

"Where'll you get it?" Fred inquired.

"Make it ourselves," was the reply. "We haven't the New York Gas-Works at hand, but we'll get up a substitute."

Fred made no reply, as he was well aware Frank had made his plans, or he would not be so confident. Frank continued that he would explain his process as soon as they reached the zeriba. He added that he should want Fred to help him, and the latter immediately promised to do everything he could to make the experiment successful.

"You know," said Frank, as soon as they were seated in their zeriba, "how gas is made for illuminating purposes?"

"Certainly I do," was the reply, "for I learned that when I studied chemistry."

"Just run over the process," Frank suggested.

"Let me see," responded his cousin. "The coal is baked in retorts, which are generally made of clay. They are closed up tight as soon as the coal is put in, and the hot fire beneath them causes the coal to give out its gas, which is carried away by iron pipes."

"All right so far," said Frank.

[Illustration: CHARGING A RETORT IN A GAS FACTORY.]

"The retorts are set in a framework of brick, and look like small ovens. The coal is put in with a long shovel, and after the retort is closed it is baked four or five hours, when it is drawn out and replaced by a fresh charge.

"The gas goes from the retorts to the purifier, which consists of a series of pipes surrounded by water. It travels through these pipes till it is thoroughly cooled and gives up the tar and other impurities contained in it; then it passes through water and water-spray, to wash away ammonia, another impurity; next it is forced through powdered lime, to remove the sulphur contained in it; and then it goes to the gasometer, whence it is carried in pipes to the places where it is to be consumed."

[Illustration: DIAGRAM OF GAS-WORKS.]

"That's the whole story," responded Frank; "and I am going to make gas on a small scale to amuse the king. We cannot make our gas as pure as it is made in a large establishment, but we'll get it up so as to answer our purpose."

With this understanding the boys went to work, and before night they had accumulated most of the materials needed for their performance. From one of the boxes Frank took a coil of rubber pipe and a slender "drop-light," which he had brought along, with the consent of the Doctor. A reflector, to be placed on this burner, was made by cutting an empty provision-can so as to form a cone, and carefully cleaning the surface of the tin on the inside. A small hand-mirror was mounted on a pivot, so that it could be used for turning the light on any desired point, and another mirror was arranged to be hung in front of the light and rotated at will.

Half a dozen jars, with narrow mouths and covers to fit, were obtained by the efforts of Abdul, and also a quantity of soft clay, for closing them hermetically when desired. A couple of old gun-barrels were bought from a native, to serve as tubes to carry the gas from the retorts to the tub of water which was to serve as a purifier. A jar placed in this water with its mouth downward was the gasometer, or receiver, and then the apparatus was pronounced complete.

"But how'll you manage to take your gas from the receiver to the king's palace?" said Fred.

"Oh, that's easy enough," was the reply. "You know we have a lot of rubber bags for carrying things in and preserving them from the moisture of the climate. We will make a small hole in the gas-receiver, and fill the bags one after the other by placing them over this hole, which we can plug with a cork when we want to close it.

"We can tie the mouths of the bags tight enough to prevent much loss, and in this way carry the gas to the palace. The rubber tube will make the connection from the bag to the burner. We can get sufficient pressure by having a man sit on the bag while we are using the light; and when we exhaust a bag, and want to replace it with a fresh one, we can easily make some excuse for suspending operations a few moments."

"But you haven't any bituminous coal of the kind used for making gas," said Fred. "I suppose you've thought of that, and will use charcoal?"

"That is what I shall do," was the reply. "These people make charcoal, as you know, and use it for smelting and working iron. I have told Abdul to get us a good lot of charcoal for to-morrow morning, when we will start our gas-works; and if we have no accident we shall be ready for the performance when the evening comes around."

[Illustration: FRANK'S GAS-RETORT.]

The next day both the youths were occupied with their work, and they had made such careful preparations that their impromptu apparatus succeeded admirably. The charcoal proved a very fair substitute for hard coal, and Fred remembered his boyish experiment at gas-making by filling the bowl of a common tobacco-pipe with charcoal, closing it with clay or putty, and then placing it in the fire. In a few moments a stream of gas issued from the stem of the pipe, and instantly ignited when a burning match was held in front of it.

In the evening the party repaired to the palace, on receiving word from the king that he was ready to see them. They were accompanied by the requisite number of porters for carrying their gas apparatus and music-box, and also the magic lantern, which they had determined to exhibit before making the experiments with the gas, and to prevent a complete disappointment in case the latter should fail. A small space was given to the boys at one end of the audience-hall, and in a very short time they arranged their magic lantern and the screen which was to display the pictures. The king was there, with his wives and officers, so that the place was well filled. Frank whispered to Fred that it would be well to put out a placard announcing "Standing-room only!" and Fred intimated that the door-keeper should refuse admission to all who had not secured seats in advance.

"What a lot of money we could make," said Frank, "if we had reserved the whole house and put the tickets in the hands of the speculators!"

"Yes," responded Fred; "but remember, this isn't a republican country; and perhaps the king would call his executioners, and discourage future speculators by decapitating ours."

"Let's invite him to New York, to break up the ticket ring," was the reply. "Then it might be possible once in a while to get a seat in a theatre without paying a premium for it."

"We'll talk that over some other time," said Fred. "If the show is ready, let's go ahead with it."

They exhibited a varied collection of pictures with the lantern, which greatly amused the king, and set his officers and the rest of the party in an uproar of wild delight. The music-box had been wound up; it was started at the same moment as the first picture was shown, and there was a general belief in the audience that music and lantern were one.

When this part of the affair was ended the gas apparatus was put in operation. It roused the curiosity of the king, who was thoroughly convinced that the white men knew the secret of making air burn, as he examined the bags and pipe, and was satisfied they contained nothing but air. The reflectors answered their purpose very well, and threw light in any direction the king suggested. On the whole, the boys had reason to congratulate themselves on the success of the affair, and they greatly regretted that, owing to force of circumstances, the brilliant engagement was to terminate with only one performance.

The close of the entertainment literally "brought down the house." Everybody was invited outside to witness the grand finale, which consisted in sending up a paper balloon, carrying a Chinese lantern. As the light rose toward the sky some of the women and children actually fell down in terror at the strangeness of the occurrence, and it required all the persuasive powers of the king to convince them that no harm would ensue from the magic of the white man.

[Illustration: SEEING THE SHOW.]

CHAPTER XXV.

AN EXCURSION ON THE VICTORIA N'YANZA.

The next morning our friends went to another audience with the king, who expressed his gratification at the exhibition of the magic lantern and the gas-light, and said nothing of the kind had ever been seen in Ugunda. It was easy to observe that his respect for the white man was steadily increasing. He asked if such things were common in the land they came from. Doctor Bronson said that in America and England whole cities were lighted by "burning air" like that which had been forced from the mysterious bags, and men rode among the clouds in contrivances such as had been sent up with the lantern attached to it. M'tesa was inclined to be sceptical on this point, and said if that was the case the white man ought to travel across Africa in air-ships, instead of walking long distances over the rough hills and through interminable forests.

[Illustration: M'TESA'S IDEA FOR CROSSING AFRICA.]

Just before they started from the zeriba Fred had been reading Jules Verne's "Five Weeks in a Balloon," which describes an imaginary journey across Africa in an air-ship, which could be made to go wherever its occupants desired, and to rise and descend at will. The copy in Fred's possession was full of illustrations of the supposed adventures of Dr. Ferguson and his two companions in a trans-African voyage. The volume happened to be in his pocket at the time of the visit to the king, and, at the Doctor's suggestion, he produced it when M'tesa made the suggestion last mentioned.[6]

[6] "Five Weeks in a Balloon" is an excellent compendium of African travel down to the time it was written. While it abounds in imaginary adventures of the most exciting character, it comprises an admirable description of the geography, people, animals, and vegetable productions of the central portion of the "Dark Continent."

The Doctor took the book and handed it to the king. The latter opened it, and gazed with astonishment on the pictures which passed before his eyes. There were the very air-ships he had suggested; there were the mountains and lakes of Africa, its wild animals, its forests, and everything to indicate that his country had been traversed by the wonderful vehicles.

For some minutes he gazed on the revelation, and could scarcely believe his eyes. When he came to the illustration of the scene where the anchor of the balloon is caught in the mouth of an elephant, which tows the travellers at a rapid rate, he laughed heartily.

"Only the white man would think of having an elephant to draw him in that way," said M'tesa. "The white man can do everything."

Seeing the great interest of M'tesa in the book, Doctor Bronson intimated that he could keep it. The volume was immediately handed to one of the officers, and the business of the visit went on.

The king referred to his promise to send the party to the Victoria N'yanza, and the point where it discharges its waters to send them down to the sea. He asked how far they wanted to go.

"We would like to visit Ripon Falls," said the Doctor, "and return from there to your majesty's capital."

"Very well," replied M'tesa. "You can go to the falls in the boats I will give you, and then you can come back by land, as I said before. I will send the porters to meet you at the falls," he continued, "and an escort to make the road safe when you come back."

Doctor Bronson suggested that they could return the same way as they went. They could come back in the boats, which would be obliged to return in any event, and therefore they could bring the party without any serious effort.

The suggestion seemed to strike the king favorably, though he received it with some surprise, which Abdul explained by the fact that all the white men who had ever been in Ugunda seemed unwilling to travel the same route twice. It was therefore natural for the king to suppose that the strangers would prefer returning by the land route, which would be a new one to them, rather than make the water journey a second time. This would have been the case with Doctor Bronson and the youths, but they had learned that the land journey between Ripon Falls and Rubaga was a very difficult one, without any new and interesting features, and therefore they favored the return by water, as it would be easier and far less expensive. Besides, it would be a considerable saving of time to them, and they were anxious to continue their journey to the south as soon as possible.

Accordingly it was settled that they would leave as soon as they were ready, and the king would give them a sufficient number of boats for the journey. All the goods and provisions they did not require could be stored at Rubaga, to await their return, and the king would see that everything was safe. With this understanding the audience ended and our friends retired.

[Illustration: RETURNING FROM AN EXCURSION.]

The rest of the day was devoted to arranging their goods and selecting such as they wished to carry. Doctor Bronson told the boys they would take all their fire-arms and most of the ammunition. The most valuable of the goods were also carried along, together with their tents and camp equipage, and Frank remarked that they had a fairly good supply for continuing their journey through Africa without returning to Rubaga.

"That is precisely what I want," replied the Doctor. "M'tesa is friendly, and I have not the slightest doubt of his sincerity, but we can't say what will happen. He is the king, and cannot stand guard in person over our property, and his men are not the most honest in the world. Besides, there is a constant liability to war among these African potentates, and we might find it inconvenient to return here after getting on the waters of the lake."

"I understand," said Frank. "We desire to be so situated that the dishonesty of the men who watch our property in our absence, and a sudden declaration of war between M'tesa and some other ruler, cannot wreck our expedition completely."

The Doctor assented, and on this basis the work of selection went on. By the time it was ended there was not much left to select, except the most bulky and least valuable articles.

The next morning Doctor Bronson sent Abdul to the king with an appropriate present, and asked that the porters might be sent to carry the goods to Usavara. He had already despatched twenty men, in charge of Frank, with the instruments, camp equipage, and several boxes of ammunition. There would have been no difficulty about engaging the entire number for the work, but it was thought the king would prefer to show his authority by ordering his subjects to be at the service of the white men.

By the afternoon of the next day everything they wanted was at Usavara, and ten boats had been assigned to their use for the journey to the falls and back. The king had given the necessary orders, but according to the custom of Africa it was necessary for the Doctor to make a bargain with the head-men of the boats, who were to receive payment in cloth, brass wire, beads, and other currency of Ugunda, very much as if they had not been in the service of the king at all.

[Illustration: THE KING'S SLAVES CARRYING FUEL AND CUTTING RICE.]

They passed the night in the huts which had been assigned to them by the king, and bright and early the next morning the work of loading the boats was begun. Doctor Bronson had promised the captains an extra present if they would hurry matters as much as possible, and he certainly had no cause of complaint. The boatmen were assisted by a gang of the king's slaves, who were brought from a neighboring field, where they had been carrying fuel and cultivating rice. Though M'tesa had become a Christian he had not reached the point of looking upon slavery as at all incompatible with his new religion. He not only kept a large number of slaves, most of them captives taken in wars with his neighbors, but he had no objection to dealing in human merchandise whenever he could make a good bargain. When he was told that it was not proper for a Christian to hold slaves, or buy and sell them, he replied that a good deal of the slave-trade of Africa was owing to the encouragement of Christian nations, and asked if there had never been any slaves in England and America. He even made quotations from the Bible in support of his theory, and threw several difficulties in the way of a free discussion of the subject.

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN DRUM-CORPS.]

By the middle of the forenoon everything was ready, and the signal was given for departure. There was a good deal more noise in the signal than had been bargained for, as it was made by a band of music of twenty pieces--rather a monotonous array, and a noisy one, as each piece was a drum. Every drummer played with all his might. Time was kept by a leader, who stood in front of the musicians, with a smaller and lighter drum than any of the rest. Frank said it reminded him of the way in which the celebrated Strauss conducts an orchestra, by making free use of a violin instead of confining himself to a baton.

The drums lay upon the ground, and had a strong resemblance to a battery of mortars ready for siege operations. Fred thought the performance could be improved by charging each drum with a few pounds of powder and firing the whole lot at once, as a grand finale.

Down the creek and into the bay went the ten large canoes, the men keeping time by a monotonous chant, and paddling steadily along, though not so fast as did the crew of the boat that took them on their first excursion on the waters of Lake N'yanza. Doctor Bronson and Abdul took the lead in the first boat, while Frank and Fred brought up the rear in the last. This was thought to be the best arrangement for preserving order and preventing straggling. Before starting from Usavara Doctor Bronson had numbered the boats, and affixed a placard to each for its identification, his own boat being "number one," while that of the youths became naturally "number ten." The men in each boat very soon caught the monosyllable by which their craft was known, and it was amusing to hear them calling out the numerals that distinguished them from others. It was their first lesson in the language of the foreigners.

They descended the bay to the lake and turned in the direction of the outlet of the great water. Looking away to the south and east was like gazing on the ocean, as the opposite shores were entirely hidden from view. A breeze rippled over the water and raised a little swell, but it was not sufficient to interfere with the progress of the boats or the comfort of their occupants. The rowers wore nothing but their waist-cloths, and it concerned them very little to receive a drenching; but it was otherwise with the strangers, who were arrayed in suits of white linen, and would have presented an appearance the reverse of dignified, if their garments had been washed by an impertinent wave.

We will now glance at the characteristics of the lake.

The Victoria N'yanza is situated directly under the equator, extending from 2° 24' south latitude to 0° 21' north. As before stated, it was discovered by Captain Speke in 1858, who travelled along its western and northern shores a few years later, but was unable to follow the entire line around it. In 1875 Stanley circumnavigated it, and made a careful survey of nearly all its bays and indentations. He estimates the area to be not far from twenty-one thousand five hundred square miles, and fixes its elevation at four thousand one hundred and sixty-eight feet above the level of the sea. Speke made it three thousand three hundred and eight feet, but Stanley's observation is probably the correct one, as it is supported by Baker, who found the Victoria Nile at M'rooli four thousand and sixty-one feet above sea-level.

Leaving out the indentations, the lake is nearly of a circular form. Its length from north to south is about one hundred and fifty miles, and its breadth perhaps twenty miles less. The natives say it is very deep, but Stanley's observations do not confirm their theory, as he found it shallow in most places where he took soundings.

Frank observed that the water of the lake was not clear. It had a dirty-white color, something like that of the Nile, but when taken into a glass the color almost entirely disappeared. The boys tasted of the water, and found it perfectly good and sweet; and so much did it meet their approval that they drank again and again.

[Illustration: LAKE SCENERY IN CENTRAL AFRICA.]

"No one can doubt that this is the source of the Nile," said Fred, "if he is familiar with the water of the river, and then drinks from the lake. The taste, or rather the sweetness, is exactly the same."

"Yes," answered Frank, "and the Persian conqueror who forbade his soldiers to ask for wine when the water of the Nile could be procured would have included that of the Victoria N'yanza, if he had known of its existence."

"And they wouldn't have been restricted in the least," replied Fred, "as all the armies of the world might drink from the lake without affecting it. Twenty thousand square miles of water ought to be a good source of supply."

Frank was looking over the side of the boat, and suddenly spied a large fish darting away, as if frightened by the strange apparition of the craft above him.

Of course this incident roused the curiosity of the youths to know something of the finny products of the lake. Ali questioned the boatmen, and learned that there were several kinds of fishes in the lake. Some of them grew so large that it took two men to handle one of them, and it sometimes happened that a man who grappled a fish of this sort was dragged under water by it.

The boatmen said there was another fish in the lake, which occasionally grew to the size of a boy. Frank intimated that it was important to know what size of boy was referred to. It might be anywhere from five pounds up to two hundred-weight--a very wide margin on which to base a calculation.

With some difficulty Ali learned that a boy of eight or ten years was meant, and with this explanation the answer was considered satisfactory.

[Illustration: KAMBARI FISH.]

The captain of the boat opened a parcel and drew from it a dried fish, which formed part of their provisions. He said it was known as "samaki kambari," and lived in the mud at the bottom of the shallow bays and in the small creeks flowing into the lake. It was caught in great numbers, and dried over a fire and in the sun, very much as herrings are dried in other countries.

Another lake fish that was described is the "sama-moa," which grows to a length of twenty inches, and belongs to the shad family. It is covered with scales, and its body is more slender than that of the American shad. The dorsal fin extends from the centre of the back almost to the tail, and the body is full of bones. At the place where they spent the night one of these fish was served up for supper, and proved a toothsome morsel.

Frank thought he could make a "planked shad" out of the new fish. The next morning he tried his hand at amateur cooking, and his effort was fairly successful. The fish was split and nailed to one side of a short plank taken from an old boat on the shore. In this position it was exposed to the fire, and properly seasoned while the cooking process went on. When it was served up both the Doctor and Fred were unanimous in declaring it delicious, and proposed that Frank should be installed as cook for the remainder of the excursion. The young gentleman declined the proffered honor, and said he could not have the heart to throw their Arab _cuisinier_ out of employment. The fact was he had been baked nearly as much as the fish he had prepared, and was in no mood for repeating the experiment.

"Well," said Fred, "if you won't accept the office of cook I'll tell you what I'll do. We'll 'turn and turn about,' as they say at home, and I'll cook the fish at the next camp."

"All right," Frank responded. "I'll agree to take turns with you until you are tired of the business."

With this understanding the topic of conversation was changed. During the day more fish were obtained, and when they halted at night Fred proceeded to try his hand at cooking.

He told Abdul to bring several flat-topped stones and heat them in the fire. The stones were taken from the water, as they were cleaner than those on dry land, the latter being covered with moss and other tropical products.

"Now I'll show you how we used to cook fish in the Adirondacks," said Fred, with a dignified air. "You will find the flavor delicious, provided the fish are good for anything, to start with.

"When the stone is hot we brush off all the ashes and lay the fish upon it, first wrapping it in a leaf. Another and smaller stone laid above it will bake the fish in a way that is superb, and preserves all the flavor."

[Illustration: FRED'S EXPERIMENT IN COOKING FISH.]

The stones were duly heated, and the fishes were spread out according to Fred's directions. The coffee-pot was in front of the fire, and the frying-pan was sizzling in the old-fashioned way, when suddenly there was an explosion that sent Fred and his trout in different directions, put Frank to a hasty flight, overturned the coffee-pot, and made a mess of things generally.

Luckily nobody was hurt, though there was quite a scare all around. The negroes who witnessed the performance were of the impression that the white men were trying some new experiment in keeping with the telephone and the magic lantern, and therefore took the explosion as a matter of course. They were less moved by the incident than were the white men--perhaps in consequence of having been farther from the fire at the moment of the explosion.

"How did it happen?" said Fred, in open-mouthed wonder, as soon as he had gathered himself together.

"I can't imagine," said Frank; "but anyway it seems as though your new process of cooking was not a brilliant success. You won't hold office as cook very long."

"Not if the dinner is going to blow up in this way every time," was the reply. "But I'd like to know how it happened."

"The explanation is very simple," said the Doctor, who had been called from his tent by the explosion. "The stones came from the lake, where they have been lying for centuries. They contained cells filled with water, and as the stones were heated the water was turned to steam. Hence the blow-up."

Fred decided that he would make no farther experiments in teaching the uneducated African the mysteries of American cookery. Frank made a sketch of the scene, with a few exaggerations, and said he believed a similar incident was narrated in "Porte Crayon's" account of a journey in the mountains of North Carolina.

[Illustration: ON THE LAKE.]

CHAPTER XXVI.

RIPON FALLS.--THE OUTLET OF THE VICTORIA N'YANZA.

As they approached the northern end of the lake they passed a high hill, which was marked on the chart as "Jack's Mount." Referring to Stanley's account of his voyage around the lake, they ascertained that the hill received its name in honor of one of the four-footed companions of that explorer.

[Illustration: JACK.]

When Stanley left England he took, as members or _attachés_ of his expedition, five dogs, three of which died before he reached Ugunda. "Jack" and his companion, "Bull," were the survivors when they arrived near this mountain. A wild cow that had been given by one of the chiefs behaved so badly that Jack deemed it his duty to correct her; but she was not to be intimidated. In the struggle for control the unfortunate dog was gored to death. Stanley says: "He died regretted by all who had known his many good qualities. His companion, Bull, when he beheld his poor mate stretched out still and dead, also expressed, as clearly as canine nature would allow, his great sorrow at his lamentable fate. Grave and deliberate, from years and long travel, he walked round the body two or three times, examining it carefully, and then advanced to me, with his honest eyes wide open, as if to ask, 'What has caused this?' Receiving no answer, he went aside and sat down, with his back toward me, solemn and sad, as though he were ruminating despondingly on the evils which beset dog and man alike in this harsh and wicked world."

The little flotilla turned northward after passing Jack's Mount, and entered a bay, from which the Victoria Nile flows out of the lake. This bay is known on the map as Napoleon Channel, and is ten or twelve miles wide at its entrance. A large island lies across the opening, and during the wars between M'tesa and the people of Usoga it has been occupied repeatedly by both the hostile armies; consequently, it is not a desirable place of residence for peacefully-inclined natives, and at the time our friends made their excursion to Ripon Falls it was quite deserted. They landed on the island, and from some of the fields a goodly supply of yams and other vegetables was obtained, without the necessity of paying for them.

The bay narrowed as the party advanced to the north; and, after a few miles had been made from the end of the island, the men ceased rowing, and allowed the boats to drift with the current, which became stronger every minute.

The boys were eager to catch the first glimpse of Ripon Falls, and Frank asked if there was a column of spray to indicate their location, as there is at Niagara and other great cataracts of America.

"You are not likely to see anything of the kind," replied the Doctor, "as the river makes a descent of only a few feet. The cataract is so small that the natives frequently pass it in their canoes, though not without danger."

"The natives call the place 'The Stones' instead of 'Falls,'" said Abdul, "for the reason, I suppose, that the river passes over the stones, or rocks, which stretch across it. The descent is about twelve feet in the ordinary state of the river, and diminishes to not more than nine feet in the season when the rains are not falling."

The river narrowed to a width varying from four to six hundred yards. The banks were hilly, and covered with dense forests in some places, but presenting open spaces like clearings at frequent intervals. There were villages on both banks, though none of any great extent. The natives came out to gaze on the flotilla, but offered no opposition, or gave any indication of more than ordinary interest in the intrusion. Back of the villages were banana-fields and groves of cocoa-trees, and moored in front of each village were several boats, together with nets and other equipments for fishing.

Where a rocky point jutted into the river the boats came to land. A scramble over the neck of this peninsula and through tangled vines and low bushes brought the travellers to the bank of the river again, and close to Ripon Falls.

Running rather than walking down the narrow path, Frank and Fred reached the river side by side so exactly that neither could claim precedence. Here they were at last at what may be called the head of the Nile, until the tributaries of the Victoria N'yanza are traced to their sources.

[Illustration: RIPON FALLS: THE NILE FLOWING OUT OF THE VICTORIA N'YANZA.]

They sat down on the sloping bank, close to a little hut belonging to some of the native fishermen, and studied the picture which was unfolded to their eyes.

The river at the falls was not more than five or six hundred feet in width, and the passage of the water was barred by several islands, which recalled to the youths the broken sheet of water at Niagara.

"We will call the big one in the centre Goat Island," said Frank, "and try to think we are looking at Niagara again."

"That's all right," replied his cousin; "but what shall we do with the other two islands? They must have names of their own, or they'll feel slighted."

Frank thought a moment, and then suggested the names of Mary and Effie.

Fred assented, and thus the islands at Ripon Falls received their appellations in honor of two young ladies who were far away. But it is doubtful if future geographers will recognize them, and thus far the names have not appeared on any chart of the lakes of Central Africa.

While the conversation was going on the youths were busy with their sketch-books, and soon had creditable pictures of the falls; then they watched the fish leaping the cataract, and the natives securing them with spears.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF HIPPOPOTAMI.]

Every little while the head of a hippopotamus was seen rising in the water below the falls, and Frank thought it would be a nice thing to get out the rifles and have a hunt for this noble game. With the Doctor's consent, he took a shot at one of the huge fellows, but with no better luck than to see his bullet strike the water about six inches from the mark. As far as the hippo was concerned it was a timely warning, which he heeded by disappearing immediately.

Abdul said the place was a good one for crocodiles, and that the natives were very cautious about venturing into the water. Once in a while it happened that a fishing-boat was overturned; and if it was well out in the river at the time of the accident, the unfortunate natives were seized by these terrible scourges of the Nile before they could reach the shore.

"We are about forty miles a little north of east from M'tesa's palace," said Abdul; "and if there was a good road we could easily get back in a couple of days. But the country is marshy, with a very thick growth of bushes, so that travelling is slow and disagreeable. There used to be a good supply of game through this region, but it has been killed off to quite an extent since the king came into possession of rifles and shot-guns in place of the old weapons of Africa.

"Elephants were formerly very troublesome here, and the natives were unable to protect their banana plantations from their ravages. A herd of wild elephants may wander all around a plantation, and if they have never tasted bananas a very slight fence will keep them off; but when the taste for this food has been created they seem unwilling to live on anything else, and will run great risks to obtain it."

"There is one animal of Africa we have not yet made much acquaintance with," said one of the youths.

"What is that?" the other asked.

"The rhinoceros," was the reply.

"We are not in the region where he most abounds," said Abdul, "though he is not by any means unknown here. His proper country is South Africa, and he formerly flourished nearly down to the Cape of Good Hope. The settlement of the country drove him to the interior along with the elephant, the lion, and other noble game; and now the rhinoceros must be sought in the interior wilds, and is not always found when sought."

"This is a good place to have a talk about him," said the Doctor, as they sat on the bank near the falls and watched the water pouring through its contracted channel; "and perhaps we may have a chance to shoot at one of these thick-skinned creatures before we leave the neighborhood of the highest cataract of the Nile.

[Illustration: READY FOR BUSINESS.]

"Scientifically considered," the Doctor continued, "the rhinoceros may be set down as an ungulate mammal, secondary only to the elephant in point of size among terrestrial animals. He is distinguished by his horn, which is supported on the end of the nose, but not connected with it, as it comes away with the hide, to which it and its broad base entirely belong."

"His horn is a powerful weapon, I believe?" said one of the boys.

"It is one of the most powerful weapons belonging to any animal," replied Doctor Bronson, "as it is more conveniently situated for use than the tusks of an elephant or the horns of a bull.

"With his horn he can kill an elephant, and frequently does it. The elephant and rhinoceros in a wild state are enemies, and when they meet there is pretty sure to be a fierce battle, resulting in the death of one, and perhaps both, of the adversaries. But when domesticated they are quite friendly, and instances have occurred wherein two of these beasts have shown great affection for each other. The rhinoceros at home is a savage brute; he does not wait to be assaulted, but often begins an attack upon peaceful travellers: sometimes he will travel a long distance with the evident intention of making a disturbance.

"Dr. Livingstone is an excellent authority on the rhinoceros, as he had many opportunities of seeing him at home. He says that among some of the tribes he visited in South Africa a man is obliged to kill a rhinoceros before he is allowed to marry and be considered more than a youth. Probably the custom has been changed in the last few years, owing to the scarcity of these animals, and the impossibility of finding enough of them to meet the wants of the rising generation."

Frank asked the size of the rhinoceros, and whether or not he was quick in his movements.

"As to the figures," answered the Doctor, "we learn, on the authority of those who have hunted him, that the white rhinoceros of Africa will sometimes measure fourteen feet from nose to tail, and his girth often exceeds eleven feet. His horn will sometimes be five feet long, but much more frequently it is about three feet. One variety of the rhinoceros has a double horn, the second one being a little back from the first and considerably shorter--frequently nothing more than a protuberance.

"Gordon Cumming says that, notwithstanding his short legs and generally unwieldy body, the rhinoceros is quick in his movements, and a horseman can scarcely overtake him. Another hunter says he can dart like lightning, and in strength is unsurpassed by any animal of the forest. There is an old story that a rhinoceros was once sent as a present to the King of Portugal. One day in a rage he destroyed the ship on which he was being transported, and the sailors had great difficulty to escape in the boats. When we think of the frail construction of ships two or three centuries ago and the strength of the rhinoceros, we can hardly treat the story as a gross fabrication."

"You mentioned the white rhinoceros a moment ago," said one of the boys. "Is he more dangerous than his black brother?"

"He is the larger but the less offensive of the two," said the Doctor, in response to the question. "The black one will attack without provocation, while the white rhinoceros, though the larger, asks to be let alone, and only shows fight when compelled to defend himself.

[Illustration: TROUBLE IN THE RHINOCEROS FAMILY.]

"The black rhinoceros is ready to attack man, elephant, or lion without warning, and sometimes, when he is anxious for a fight, he will get one up with his own brother or a near relative. It is a providential circumstance that his eye is small, and so badly placed that he cannot see with ease. If he had good eyesight he would be vastly more dangerous than he is.

[Illustration: BAD FOR THE DOG.]

"Mr. Oswell, an African hunter and explorer, who discovered Lake N'gami, tells how he was one day walking quietly to camp, when he saw two large rhinoceroses feeding on the plain. At sight of him the animals advanced in his direction, and he stopped and took aim at one of them. He knew that a shot in the forehead of the rhinoceros has no worse effect than to tickle him, as though it were the touch of a fan; but, as the beast might be angry at being struck with a fan, he is liable to resent a shot on his skull. Mr. Oswell did not get a chance to fire at a vulnerable point, and as the animals continued to approach he determined to try a run past them, trusting to their bad eyesight to enable him to escape.

"He brushed close to one of them in his rush to escape, but a loud snort told him he had been seen. He turned and fired, and the next moment felt himself impaled on the animal's horn.

"His next sensation was that of being on the back of a pony which was led by one of his men. He angrily inquired why they were not following the track of the beast; but hardly had he spoken before he discovered that his hand, which had been resting on his side, was full of clotted blood, and he met his men, who had come from camp to bury him. He didn't need burying just then, but the wound required some time to heal, and he carried the scar for the rest of his life.

[Illustration: RHINOCEROS HEADS.]

"When Anderson killed his first rhinoceros he was wild with delight. Immediately on approaching his prostrate game he plunged his knife into its back, to ascertain if it was fat. The natives warned him not to repeat the experiment, as a short time before a native had done the same thing and got into serious trouble. The rhinoceros had been stunned instead of killed. The stroke of the knife revived him, and he rose and ran toward the river, with the unfortunate native clinging to his back.

"The situation was anything but pleasant for the man, who dared not spring to the ground, for fear of being transfixed by the brute's horn, and ran the risk of being drowned if he stayed where he was till the river was reached. Happily the rhinoceros paused long enough to allow somebody else to send a shot that settled him and released the native from his free but involuntary ride."

"His case reminds me," said Fred, "of a question I once heard proposed for a debating society in the country."

"What is that?" said Frank.

"'If a man is holding a tiger by the tail, which is the best for his personal safety--to hold on or let go?'"

"A good deal might be said on both sides of that question," the Doctor remarked, "but perhaps the tiger would not permit a prolonged discussion. In one way the native on the rhinoceros had the advantage of the tiger man."

"How was that?"

"Why, the tiger might devour his caudal retainer, while the rhinoceros would not do so with his rider. He is strictly graminivorous, and never touches flesh to eat it. He devours grass, young trees, and similar things, and in this respect has quite a resemblance to the hippopotamus, whose cousin he is sometimes called."

One of the boys asked if it was really true that the hide of the rhinoceros was impervious to bullets, except in a few places. The Doctor explained that an ordinary musket-ball, fired at a distance of fifty yards and more, had no effect, and even a rifle-ball might be deflected from most parts of this tough-hided beast. "It is no use to fire at the head with anything less than a cannon," he continued. "The only vulnerable point is about three inches behind the shoulder, and when a bullet is planted there at the proper angle it penetrates the lungs and causes death almost instantaneously.

"The natives hunt the rhinoceros by driving him into pitfalls, and then piercing him with hundreds of spears. By the time they are through with the business he is stuck so full of the weapons that he resembles a gigantic porcupine, with quills on a colossal scale. The slaughter of a rhinoceros is a formidable affair with them, and they look with wonder on the weapons of the white man and the comparative ease with which this powerful animal is brought down by it.

"One day, while Captain Speke was in the country of King Rumanika, he asked the monarch to allow him to hunt the rhinoceros. Of course the king was glad to have him do so, and sent two of his sons to manage the affair. They went to a thicket where the rhinoceros was said to abound, and as soon as Speke had taken up a good position the beaters went to work to drive out the game.

"They roused up a fine old rhinoceros, which paused close to where the hunter was standing, and enabled him to creep up and give the beast a shot in the side. The animal trotted off, bleeding internally, and soon lay down and gave a chance for a finishing shot. A little time afterward three others were started; two of them were bagged by Speke, who ordered the heads cut off and sent to the king, as proofs of what the white man could do.

[Illustration: SPEKE DELIVERING THE SPOILS OF HIS HUNT TO KING RUMANIKA.]

"Speke then went home to breakfast. As soon as he was through with his meal he went to meet the king, who was just examining the trophies of the hunter's prowess. For a man to kill three of these huge beasts simply to get up an appetite for breakfast was too much for the king's equanimity, and he gave vent to his astonishment and admiration in no measured terms.

"'This must have been done with something more potent than powder,' his majesty exclaimed; 'neither the Arabs nor N'anaji, although they talk of their shooting powers, could have accomplished such a great feat as this. It is no wonder the English are the greatest men in the world.'

"Before we drop the topic of the rhinoceros," said the Doctor, "I must tell you about his horn, and some of the fables connected with it.

"It was formerly gravely stated that the horn of the rhinoceros was ordinarily flexible, like the trunk of an elephant, and became stiffened into a weapon only when the beast was enraged. The story probably arose from the fact, as I have before stated, that the horn is not attached to the nose, but rests on a basis of bone connected with the skin.

"The horn of the beast is a good substitute for ivory in some of its uses, and brings about half its price. It is used for making cups and other ornaments, and for the handles of knives and similar things. Shavings and scrapings of the horn were supposed to cure children of spasms and convulsions, and in former times it was supposed that cups of this material would detect the presence of poison. Several writers have affirmed this, and I believe the superstition still prevails among the Dutch settlers in Cape Colony. To show how this idea once prevailed let me quote from Kolbe, a German traveller and naturalist, who visited South Africa about two hundred years ago, and published an account of what he had seen in his wanderings.

"'This horn,' he says, 'will not endure the touch of poison. I have often been a witness of this. Many people of fashion at the Cape have cups turned out of this rhinoceros-horn; some have them set in silver, and some in gold. If wine is poured into one of these cups it immediately rises and bubbles up, as though it were boiling; and if there be poison in it the cup immediately splits. If poison be put into one of these cups it in an instant flies to pieces. Though this matter is known to thousands of persons, yet some writers have affirmed that the rhinoceros horn has no such virtue.'"

"There's a word in our language," said Fred, "which begins with the letter L, which might apply to Kolbe, the German traveller. But it isn't altogether a polite one, and so we'll call him a deliberate romancer."

"He ought to have a niche by the side of Sir John Mandeville and others of his kind," said Frank. "Sir John describes the cotton-plant as having eyes, ears, and horns, and bleating like a sheep; and he tells how he successfully tried the experiment of raising young diamonds from a pair of old ones, with other interesting experiences, which are set down with sober earnest.

"But you must remember," said the Doctor, "that in the time of these old travellers they had everything their own way, as they were in no danger of contradiction. Besides, the spirit of the age demanded something marvellous, and if a traveller came home and told the story of his journey without filling it with goblins, fairies, dragons, and similar impossible things, he was charged with having seen nothing, and quite likely his neighbors would assert that during all the time of his pretended absence he was remaining quietly at home.

"Nowadays the world is so well known that the romancing traveller is speedily detected, and his fictions meet a deserved exposure. Explorers follow each other so rapidly that no untruthful story can remain long without contradiction, and we may fairly conclude that the day of the marvellous in travellers' tales has substantially ended."

[Illustration: IN CAPTIVITY.]

CHAPTER XXVII.

RETURN TO RUBAGA.--FAREWELL TO M'TESA.--VOYAGE DOWN THE VICTORIA N'YANZA.

[Illustration: VILLAGE AND VILLAGERS.]

Our friends crossed to the other bank of the river and made a short excursion into the Usoga country. They visited several of the native villages, but saw nothing remarkable in any of them. Abdul said it would not be altogether safe to go far from the bank of the Nile, as the natives had a reputation for treachery; and though they were at peace with M'tesa they had no great love for him, and might not hesitate to make trouble for his guests.

A little before nightfall they returned to the falls, and crossed the river again to the other shore. The camp had been formed on the southern side of the point, where the boats were brought to land in descending from the lake. As a matter of precaution the boats were partly drawn on shore, so that they could not be carried away by stealth during the night. The boys slept within sound of the falls, and they both agreed in the morning that the rippling of the waters was the most agreeable music they had heard for many a day.

Just about daybreak they were roused by Ali, who crept softly to their side and said there were suspicious movements among the natives on the opposite bank, and the Doctor had given orders for them to be awakened. They were up in an instant and seized their rifles, prepared to enter into a fierce battle and repel an attack of the blood-thirsty natives of Central Africa.

The alarm proved to be of brief duration. It turned out that the natives had no hostile intentions--at least, they disclaimed anything of the kind--but the movements on the bank were caused by their driving their stock down to be watered. To prove the truth of their declaration, a large herd of cows and oxen soon made its appearance and crowded into the water, as if suffering from thirst.

The cattle having drank their fill the herd was driven back, and soon disappeared altogether. Abdul said it was all very well for the natives to declare that their intentions were pacific, but he observed they all carried spears, and many of them were equipped with shields and battle-lances, as though they expected to do something more than take care of domestic cattle. Probably the fact that the party from Rubaga was on the alert, and had their boats drawn up in a secure place, prevented an attack. The people of Usoga have had sufficient acquaintance with the weapons of the white man to know they could not cross the river in face of the rifles of Doctor Bronson and his party without suffering severely in the minutes required for the transit.

The forenoon was passed in camp. A little past the meridian the baggage that had been unloaded was again placed in the boats, and the flotilla headed for Uvima Island, which had been selected as the place for passing the night. Several canoes were out on the Usoga side of the river, but they kept at a respectful distance, though two of them followed the party an hour or more as they held their course along the channel. The same precautions were observed as on the previous night, and if the natives had any idea of making an attack and capturing a lot of valuable property they were sadly disappointed. At all events, they showed discretion in holding aloof. They would have met a warm reception, but the warmth would have been of a character they did not desire.

[Illustration: AN UNPLEASANT ENCOUNTER.]

Just before starting to continue the journey one of the Doctor's boats paddled away to the eastward a few hundred yards, to let the Usoga people know they were not afraid of them. Evidently the others had the same idea, as two of their boats paddled out from the shore, the men shouting in accents the reverse of friendly. The boats met in the middle of the channel, and for a few moments oars and spears were brandished, and there was good promise of a fight. The Doctor told Abdul to shout with all his might to call back the boat and prevent any bloodshed. For a little while it looked as though he would be unable to do so, and it became necessary to fire a few shots in the air. This had the desired effect, the one party taking it as a signal of recall, and the other as an intimation that hostilities would provoke a free use of the dreaded rifles.

The boat came back, and after a sound lecturing from the Doctor, and promises "not to do so again," its captain was ordered to take his place in line for the return to Rubaga.

There was no incident of consequence on the return to Usavara. The flotilla was arranged in a manner varying somewhat from that of the outward journey. As they were going toward home there was no fear that anybody would stray from his position, and consequently Ali and Abdul were placed in the leading boat, while our three friends were in the one that brought up the rear. They were thus able to talk over their plans for the future, and utilize the time of the voyage far better than if they had been in different boats.

Of course the boys were eager to know what plan the Doctor had formed for their route from Rubaga, and as soon as they were fairly under way he proceeded to gratify their curiosity on the subject.

"We will leave the boats at Usavara," said he, "and go at once to Rubaga to thank the king for his kindness, and ask him to put us under farther obligations. Have you ever heard a definition of 'gratitude' that is not to be found in any authorized dictionary?"

"I think I have," answered Frank. "It says, 'Gratitude is a lively anticipation of favors to come.'"

"That is exactly our case," replied Doctor Bronson. "M'tesa has been so kind to lend us his boats for visiting the falls, that I intend asking permission to retain them for a voyage down the lake."

"After all," said Fred, "it won't cost him anything to do so, as we pay all the expenses of the voyage. Besides, he knows he will receive additional presents if he grants your request, and instead of being out of pocket he will gain by the transaction."

"I have considered all that," was the response to the youth's remark, "and see no difficulty, except that he may fear trouble with some of the rulers beyond his territory. They might regard the arrival of a fleet of M'tesa's boats as an act of war, and consequently both he and ourselves might get into trouble. However, we can lay the matter before him, and he will probably give us an answer the next morning."

"What will we do if he refuses?" Fred asked.

"In that case," replied the Doctor, "we will continue our journey southward by land. It will be longer and more difficult than if we went by water, but it will not interfere seriously with our plans if he declines my request.

"I intend going from here to Ujiji, on Lake Tanganyika," the Doctor continued; "and if you look at the map you can see that it will save considerable land-travel, if we can follow the lake to its southern extremity, in the country of Usukuma."

Saying this, he opened the map and pointed out the route followed by Stanley, and also that of Speke and other travellers. The boys studied it attentively for several minutes, and in the mean while the Doctor was busy with several memoranda in his note-book.

We will leave their plans for the present and wait for their development after the visit to M'tesa.

[Illustration: ANTELOPES AMONG THE MARSHES NEAR USAVARA.]

The boats arrived safely at Usavara, and the Doctor, accompanied by Frank, started at once for Rubaga to see the king. Fred was left in charge of the property of the expedition, and it was understood that a messenger would be despatched immediately in case anything went wrong. Doctor Bronson was to notify Fred in the same way as soon as the king made his decision, and it was hoped that the detention, in any event, would not be more than a week at farthest.

There was bad news about the horses. One had died during the absence of the party, and the others were suffering from the effects of the climate, and so feeble that they gave no promise of future usefulness. The Doctor decided to leave them, and his decision was eminently sensible, in view of the difficulties of moving them. The donkeys were all right, and manifested their condition by kicking spitefully whenever anybody came within range of their heels.

The Doctor sent a messenger to the king announcing his arrival, and was immediately summoned to an audience with his majesty. It was late in the afternoon when the audience was held, and it lasted nearly an hour. The king desired to know all that his visitors had seen and done during their absence, and the Doctor gave him a full account of everything that had happened. When he came to the incident of the encounter of the boats the king was specially pleased to know that hostilities had been avoided under circumstances that gave such fine promise of a fight. He said it was all owing to the firmness of Doctor Bronson in recalling the boat at the critical moment, but he should have expected nothing more, as the white man was able to do anything.

This was a good time to make the request for the use of the boats to go to the southern end of the lake. The Doctor was not slow to see his opportunity, and at once propounded the question.

As had been expected, M'tesa was not prepared to give an answer, but he promised to do so on the following morning. Then he rose from his seat, and the audience was over.

The next morning there was a great assemblage in front of the palace, and an unusual tooting of horns and pounding of drums. It was evident that the reception at court would be of no ordinary character. In due time a messenger came to announce that the king was ready for the visit of his American friends, and they went at once to court.

As they entered the audience-hall they saw a group of men whose dress showed that they were not people of Ugunda. Abdul whispered that they were from the south; but there was no time for farther explanation, as the business of the visit was opened at once by the king.

"You want boats to go to the end of the N'yanza?" said his majesty.

The Doctor answered that such was his wish.

"How many boats do you want?" was the next royal interrogatory.

The Doctor thought that two or three boats, in addition to the ten which carried him to Ripon Falls, would be quite sufficient.

"Well," answered the king, "we have decided. You shall have the boats; but you must know it is the first time this request was ever granted."

Frank thought it was probably the first time the request had ever been made, and therefore the king's assertion was not likely to be at variance with the truth.

"There is much danger in going the way you wish," continued M'tesa, "as the people on some of the islands are hostile, and may attack you. If I should lose my boats and men it would be very serious to me and to you."

There was no denying the correctness of this proposition, and the Doctor waited for the king to proceed.

[Illustration: NATIVE OF UNYAMWEZI.]

"But I am friendly with the King of Unyamwezi, at the other end of the N'yanza, and these strange people you see here are a delegation from him. They arrived here four days ago, and are now ready to go back to their country. They came by the N'yanza, and their boats will accompany those that I shall send to carry you and your friends and property."

It naturally occurred to Doctor Bronson that there could not be any great danger in going by the lake route, if this delegation from Unyamwezi had just traversed it. But he kept his thoughts to himself, and continued to do so while the king enlarged upon the perils of the journey.

It was very evident that M'tesa was bent on driving a sharp bargain. We must remember that he was a negro and in Africa, and therefore he was expected to make the most of his opportunities. If he had been a white man, and in America--a New York hackman, for instance, or the owner of a baggage-wagon on "moving-day"--he would have been a model of generosity, and offered the use of his boats for nothing.

During the absence of the party in the excursion to Ripon Falls he had a chance to think over the situation and make up his mind what he wanted. He had overcome his fear of the telephone, and from entertaining a superstitious dread of the "magic talker" he had developed a great desire for it.

In return for the use of his boats he wanted the telephone instruments, and desired them arranged so as to connect his audience-hall with his harem. Then he wanted a certain amount of cloth, brass wire, beads, and other African trinkets, but more than all else he wanted fire-arms and ammunition.

As he had already received a shot-gun and a rifle, the latter with a supply of explosive bullets, Doctor Bronson thought his demand was a trifle exorbitant. However, a rifle was added to the list of presents, and also a case of ammunition, and the Doctor promised to send another rifle by the boats in case he was carried through to Unyamwezi without accident or delay.

The bargain was concluded by turning the king's attention to the magic talker and asking him where it should be set up. He designated a place close to his throne for one end, and his private apartment for the other; and then the audience ended with an agreement that porters should be ready to carry the baggage to Usavara the next day, when our friends would come for their final leave-taking.

Frank and Abdul were occupied for a couple of hours in the afternoon, aided by several natives, in setting up the telephone-wire and attaching the instruments to the wall. When it was all arranged the king came into the audience-hall and talked for some time with his wives at the other end of the line. Frank cautioned him not to use it too often, lest the magic should get tired. His great fear was that the apparatus might be deranged by careless and ignorant handling before its novelty was gone, and especially before they were out of M'tesa's country.

The final audience was held at eight o'clock the next morning. There were expressions of good-will on both sides, and the king shook hands with his departing guests in true European fashion. The porters were all ready at the Doctor's zeriba, and in less time than our friends had expected the loads were on the backs of the men and on the road to Usavara.

It was nearly dusk when they arrived at the lake, and found Fred waiting to receive them. The loads were piled in front of the huts and placed under guard for the night. Dinner was served in Fred's tent, and the orders were given for loading the boats at daylight. Everybody retired early, so as to be up in good season and get the flotilla under way before the sun reached the meridian. By eleven o'clock the last load was in place, the crews were on board, and the signal for departure was given. They received the same noisy "send-off" as on the day they started for Ripon Falls, with the exception that there were more drums, and consequently more of what the drummers were pleased to call music.

The men rowed hard, under the promise of an extra ration of fish if they would reach Sessé Island before sunset. Doctor Bronson desired to camp on Sessé for the night, and of course the earlier he could arrive there the better it would be for the whole party. The captains of the boats thought it would be a long journey, and proposed stopping at a smaller island ten miles north of Sessé; but the matter was quickly settled by Doctor Bronson's proposition of extra rations to the men and a present for each of the captains. The plan worked so well that it was continued during the journey, and was always successful.

[Illustration: NATIVES OF THE ISLANDS.]

Sessé is described by Stanley as an island about forty miles long by twenty in width. The principal canoe-builders and the greater number of sailors of M'tesa's kingdom live at Sessé. They are blacker than the people of the main-land, less intelligent, and not at all brave. They are good sailors, and capable of much endurance, but have so many superstitions concerning the demons which are supposed to inhabit the lake that they are easily frightened when there is the least indication of a storm.

Doctor Bronson was true to his promise, and bought a liberal supply of fish for distribution among the crews of the boats. They had a grand festival in the evening, and continued it so late that the Doctor feared they would be of little use on the next day. But an African has great digestive and recuperative powers, and the men proved all right in the morning and ready for fresh work, much to the relief of their employers.

Several broken oars were replaced at Sessé, and, as some of the crews were a man or two short of their complement, a dozen sailors were engaged for the voyage to the end of the lake. The Doctor embraced the opportunity, too, of purchasing an extra supply of bananas, which were promised to the men on condition of reaching Dumo an hour before sunset, which they did. Dumo is a small village on the main-land opposite the southern extremity of Sessé. It belongs to M'tesa's province of Uddu, and its inhabitants are chiefly engaged in fishing.

[Illustration: BOATS FOR LAKE NAVIGATION.]

During the hour that remained Frank and Fred climbed a rocky hill just back of the village, having been impelled to do so by a paragraph in Stanley's book. To the east they had a fine survey of the lake, but could not make out the opposite shore, so that the view reminded them of the ocean. On the west they saw a range of hills and a rolling country, which Frank thought would make an excellent pasture for a large herd of cattle.

The people of Dumo were civil enough to the visitors, and readily sold whatever they desired to purchase. Early in the morning the population was increased by the arrival of a good many natives from the villages a short distance in the interior. They brought goats, chickens, eggs, bananas, tobacco, spear-heads, baskets, and other things, to exchange for fish, either fresh or dried. It turned out, on inquiry, that it was a _soko_, or market-day; and Frank and Fred considered themselves fortunate in happening on a market-day in an African village.

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN SOKO.]

Some of the dealers sat on the ground in front of the baskets containing their wares, while others walked about with their burdens on their heads or supported in their arms. There was a great deal of chattering and loud talk, but the utmost good-nature prevailed; and every few moments a loud laugh was evoked by the witticisms of the natives in conversation, or by a practical joke played by some of the would-be venders or purchasers.

Beads were the principal currency, but they were not universal, and sometimes it happened that a seller would only accept a certain article that he wanted. Frank was reminded of a story told by Cameron while trying to hire a boat somewhere on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, and which is thus related by the explorer:

"The owner of the boat wished to be paid in ivory, of which I had none; but I found that Mohammed ibn Salib had ivory, and wanted cloth. Still, as I had no cloth, this did not assist me greatly until I heard that Mohammed ibn Garib had cloth, and wanted wire, which I, fortunately, possessed. So I gave Mohammed ibn Garib the requisite amount in wire, upon which he handed over cloth to Mohammed ibn Salib, who in his turn gave the owner of the boat the wished-for ivory, and the craft was turned over to me."

"In this little transaction," said Frank, "you can see the use of money. There was no circulating medium where Captain Cameron was trying to hire the boat, and consequently a great deal of time was lost in making the various negotiations."

"You will find," said the Doctor, "that the most of the people of Africa have some sort of circulating medium; we have already seen how the tusk of the elephant is a standard of value, and how shells, beads, cloth, and other African goods have a more or less fixed rate. There are few places on the continent where it is necessary to traffic in the manner described by Cameron, and the number is steadily diminishing."

[Illustration: ARMS AND ORNAMENTS.]

CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE ALEXANDRA NILE.--FRED'S DESCRIPTION OF THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA.

From Dumo they continued their course to the southward, passing a crescent-shaped bay, bordered by a dense forest and backed by a semicircle of hills. Beyond this bay they turned a headland, and a few minutes afterward Fred observed that the water was of a darker color than they had hitherto found it.

"According to the map," said the Doctor, "this is the Bay of Usongora; the Alexandra Nile empties into it, and its waters, rolling through an alluvial country, are charged with earthy matter, which gives it the color you perceive."

Frank wished to ascend the river; but the Doctor said they could not do so, as it would not be in accordance with their agreement with M'tesa to attempt any explorations. They passed near enough to the mouth of the river to see that it was about one hundred and fifty yards wide, and by the way the water flowed into the lake there was evidently a considerable volume of it. Stanley ascended the river about three miles, and said he found the current so strong that his boats made very slow progress, and he was obliged to give up the attempt.

The plain on each side of the river in the portion near the lake is from five to ten miles wide, and in the season of high water it is completely overflowed. The Alexandra Nile is the largest of the affluents of the Victoria N'yanza; the second largest river flowing into it is the Shimeeyu, and the two streams together are estimated to be nearly equal to the volume of water that passes Ripon Falls. Most of the natives call the Alexandra Nile "the mother of the river at Jinja," or the Ripon Falls.

[Illustration: VIEW OF THE UPLANDS IN KARAGUÉ.]

The kingdom of Ugunda terminates at the Alexandra Nile, which is its southern boundary; but the kingdoms of Karagué and Usongora, which lie beyond it, are subject to M'tesa, having been conquered by him during the early part of his reign. The manners and customs of the people of the two provinces are much like those of Ugunda; they live principally by cultivating the banana and other edible things of the tropics, and in the chase of the lion and elephant they display a good deal of courage. They are usually hospitable to strangers; but their chiefs are apt to exact a heavy tribute, in one way and another, from all who pass through their territory.

Speke found the King of Karagué very obliging, and was plundered much less than he had expected to be. Other travellers have spoken well of the country, which they describe as an upland region, diversified with dense forests and open plains, the latter covered with tall grass, and giving promise of great fertility. The natives have large herds of cattle, sheep, and goats; the cattle are said to be of a superior breed, and their horns grow to an unusual size. A cow's horn was given to Speke that proved to be three feet five inches long, and nearly nineteen inches in circumference at the base.

Stanley describes Rumanika, King of Karagué, as a finely-formed man, at least six feet six inches in height, as the top of the explorer's head when they walked side by side only reached to the king's shoulders. His face was long, with a nose of Roman shape, and his profile was decidedly of a refined type. He was a gentle savage, fond of receiving strangers, and desirous of supplying all the information they desired. What he lacked in knowledge he made up in imagination, as he told Stanley of a race of dwarfs only two feet in height dwelling in the region west of Karagué, while in Uriambwa there was a race of small people with tails. He closed his story with the statement that some of his subjects had seen in those far-off lands a strange people, who had long ears descending to their feet: one ear formed a mat for the owner to sleep on, and the other served to cover him from the cold, like a dressed hide. "They tried to coax one of them to come and see me," said the king, "but the journey was long, and he died on the way."

From the mouth of the Alexandra Nile our friends continued their voyage along the coast, halting at islands, or at villages on the main-land, whenever it was necessary to rest the men or purchase provisions. Frank wanted to visit Alice Island, which Stanley made famous, but Doctor Bronson said it was too far out of their track. Alice Island is about thirty miles from the coast, and directly opposite the large village of Makongo, and its inhabitants are a timid and inoffensive race of fishermen.

Fred asked why it was called "Alice" Island.

"Don't you remember," said Frank, "that it was so named by Stanley in honor of his boat, the _Lady Alice_?"

"Certainly I do," was the reply, "but for the moment I had forgotten it. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a boat like the _Lady Alice_ for navigating the lake?"

"Of course it would," responded Frank; "but we haven't anything of the kind, and are getting along very well with the boats of King M'tesa."

[Illustration: THE "LADY ALICE," IN SECTIONS.]

"The _Lady Alice_," he continued, "was an invention of Stanley, and served his purpose admirably. She was forty feet long, six feet beam, and thirty inches deep, built of Spanish cedar, three-eighths of an inch in thickness. When finished she was separated into five sections, each of them eight feet long, so that she could be carried by porters from the coast to the Victoria N'yanza, and from one lake to another. Stanley launched the _Lady Alice_ on the Victoria N'yanza, which he circumnavigated. Afterward he made a similar voyage around Lake Tanganyika; and in the same boat he descended a portion of the Congo, or Livingstone, till he was compelled to abandon her on reaching the great falls of that river."

"I remember now," said Fred, "that he went from Alice Island to Bumbireh, where he had a fight with the natives, and came near losing his life. That must be Bumbireh right ahead of us, I suppose?"

"Yes," answered the Doctor, to whom the remark was partially addressed, "that is Bumbireh; but we will not land there, and run the risk of a reception similar to that of Stanley. We will pass along the channel between the large island and the main-land, and what we see of Bumbireh will be from our places in the boat."

They moved steadily down the channel, and the boys made note of the fact that the island was fifteen or twenty miles long, and that the greater part of it was densely wooded. Near the water there was a strip of beach, sometimes broken by shelving rocks. Where the beach was sandy canoes were frequently visible, the most of them drawn up quite high and dry out of the water. Groups of natives came down to gaze upon the passing flotilla, and at one point there was a movement which indicated a possibility of hostilities. Several natives ran wildly up and down the sands, gesticulating violently, and evidently calling others to come out from the huts in the forest and make ready for a fight. Two or three canoes were pushed into the water, but nobody ventured to attack the flotilla. The islanders were doubtless restrained by motives of prudence, as they could easily see the white men in the boats, and they were well aware that the white men's weapons are not to be despised.

After passing Bumbireh the expedition halted on a small island which was without inhabitants; but our friends were able to purchase all the fish they wanted from some boats which they encountered in the vicinity. They were now at the southern end of the N'yanza, and another day's run carried them to M'salala, which was at the end of a narrow gulf extending inland several miles, and was the limit of their boat journey.

We will leave our friends to get on shore, discharge the boats, and start them on their return to M'tesa, while we repeat some of their conversation during the voyage.

While they were returning from Ripon Falls to Rubaga, Doctor Bronson told Fred he would like to have him read up the description of the West Coast of Africa on the first opportunity, and be able to give a brief account of it during their southward voyage. The halt at Usavara gave him the needed time, which he improved to advantage. They were not provided with a large number of books on that part of the country, but, fortunately, there were enough for his purpose.

"The West Coast of Africa," said he, "is properly comprised between the Desert of Sahara and Cape Negro, the latter being about latitude 19° south. There are three divisions of this region, known as Senegambia, Upper Guinea, and Lower Guinea, and each of them comprises several native states, and nearly as many European possessions."

"You can read all that in an encyclopædia or any good geography," said Frank, with a slight laugh.

"Of course you can," retorted Fred; "but if you don't happen to have read it, and no one has told you, it is pretty certain to be news to you."

Frank admitted the correctness of Fred's statement and the story was continued.

"The English have a settlement at Bathurst, on the Gambia River, and there are other small settlements near it. There is another settlement, called Sierra Leone, on a peninsula eighteen miles long by twelve in width. The Danes and Dutch formerly had settlements along the coast, but they ceded them to England, the former in 1850, and the latter in 1872. The Spaniards once held quite an extent of coast, but at present their only possession is the island of Fernando Po, which they use as a convict station.

"The Portuguese still have control of a large extent of country--at least, nominally--and they have several small ports where they do quite a trade in palm-oil, india-rubber, ivory, gold, and other products of Africa. They formerly dealt in slaves, but have followed the fashion of England and abolished the slave-trade--at least, in name. But a great deal of the traffic is kept up at the present time, the slaves being taken south from interior stations in the Portuguese possessions and sold to the Kaffirs, instead of being brought to the coast.

[Illustration: NATIVE VILLAGE ON THE GOLD COAST.]

"The English and French are now the only great nations with settlements of any consequence in Western Africa. The principal stations of the French are at Assinee, on the Gold Coast, and at Gaboon, on the river of the same name. In the north-west they have settlements on the Senegal River, where they have spent a great deal of money and wasted the lives of many Frenchmen without much advantage. Quite recently they have made an effort to establish a colony on the Livingstone, by supporting an Italian adventurer named De Brazza, who claims to have secured a grant of territory from a native chief.

[Illustration: CAPE COAST CASTLE.]

"The foreign settlements are chiefly for purposes of trade; and as they have been placed there in most instances against the will of the natives, and are liable at any time to be assaulted, they are generally protected by fortifications. One of the strongest of these is Cape Coast Castle. The English settled there more than two hundred years ago, and established themselves on a rocky point, where they were quite safe from the natives, and could make good resistance to a European foe. The Dutch had a fortress called Elmina only a short distance from Cape Coast Castle, and sometimes the garrisons were not on friendly terms, owing to the different policies pursued by the English and Dutch."

"But you haven't said anything about Liberia," said Frank. "You know that in the United States we have heard a great deal about Liberia, which was settled by negroes liberated from slavery in our country and other parts of America."

"I'm coming to that," replied Fred. "The first settlement of the kind was Sierra Leone, which was founded in 1787, with a colony of five hundred destitute negroes sent from London by some charitable people who wanted to help them along. A few years later one thousand liberated slaves from Nova Scotia were sent there, and in succeeding years there was an immigration of several thousand negroes from the West Indies. When the British cruisers began to capture slave-ships they took all the captives to Sierra Leone and set them free. That's the way the colony was peopled, and it now has about forty thousand inhabitants, of whom only a little more than a hundred are Europeans. It has schools, churches, a theological college, and other educational institutions, and the people are as intelligent as those of any European city."

Frank asked what was the religion of the people of Sierra Leone.

"There is a bishop of the Church of England," replied Fred, "and there are nearly a hundred ordained ministers, but they have not been very successful in converting the negroes. The most of the inhabitants are Moslems, and it has been found much easier to convert them to Mohammedanism than to Christianity.

"Now for Liberia," he continued. "The first settlement in the republic was made in 1820 by the American Colonization Society, which sent some emancipated negroes there. A 'declaration of independence' was made in 1847, and the Republic of Liberia was organized much after the form of the United States. The President holds office four years, the same as with us; there is a regular staff of cabinet officers, and a Senate and House of Representatives. The country extends about six hundred miles along the coast, and has a population of seven hundred and twenty thousand. Seven hundred thousand of them are aborigines, and the rest are negroes from the United States, and their descendants.

[Illustration: MONROVIA, LIBERIA.]

"Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, contains about thirteen thousand inhabitants, and has schools, colleges, churches, and the like, similar to Sierra Leone. The colony has been fairly prosperous, and the republic has made treaties of commerce with the principal nations of Europe and America. If you want to know more about it there are several books which give its history in detail."

Frank said he had heard quite as much as he was likely to remember, and with this remark the lesson on the history of the colonies of Sierra Leone and Liberia came to an end.

The Doctor asked Fred what he had learned relative to the healthiness of the African coast, or rather of that part of it which was under discussion.

[Illustration: FREE TOWN, SIERRA LEONE.]

"As to that," replied Fred, "there is no healthiness at all for the white man, but, 'on the contrary, quite the reverse.' From February to December, 1871, of the ninety-eight European residents at Free-town, in Sierra Leone, twenty-four died, and in other years the mortality has been in nearly the same proportion. Other points along the coast are pretty nearly as fatal to the white visitor, and also to the negro born and reared in temperate climates. Strangers soon after their arrival are attacked with a fever which seems to be caused by the malarious exhalations from the earth. The fever shows itself by loss of appetite, pains in the back, severe and long-continued headache, together with gastric troubles that develop into bilious remittent fever. Sometimes it yields to medical treatment, but more frequently it develops into the dreaded African fever, which is marked by intense headache and delirium. In this stage it is frequently fatal. The negro who escapes can consider himself acclimated; but the white man is liable to a return of the disease, as the first attack does not secure him against subsequent ones."

"A very good lecture on the African fever," said the Doctor. "I don't think you are likely to encourage emigration in the direction of the Gold Coast."

Fred bowed his acknowledgment of the Doctor's compliment, and said the more he read and heard of the West Coast of Africa, the less was his desire to go there, even for a very brief visit.

[Illustration: A STREET IN COOMASSIE.]

"Now I'll tell you about Ashantee," he continued. "I've been reading about it in Stanley's 'Coomassie and Magdala,' and other books, and am ready to set up as an authority on the subject."

Frank nodded his readiness to hear about the land of King Coffee, the warlike ruler who gave the British government a great deal of trouble in 1874, and who held out till his capital was burned, after the defeat of his army and his narrow escape from capture.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE IN ASHANTEE.]

"Ashantee," said Fred, "is a kingdom whose boundaries are not very well defined; it has a population estimated at not less than three millions, and its government is a despotism of the most arbitrary character.

"The king has the power of life and death over all his subjects; he is the owner of a great part of the country, and is regarded as the natural heir of everybody. When a subject dies the king takes everything he wants, and leaves the rest to the dead man's relatives. He usually shows his generosity by taking whatever unwrought gold there may happen to be on the estate, and relinquishes his claims to ornaments, furniture, and other effects. He collects a tax of twenty per cent. on all gold manufactured in the country, and in addition to this he has a large revenue from the mines where the precious metal is obtained."

"The king evidently has a nice time of it," said Frank; "and if ever the choice of a throne is offered to me I'll keep Ashantee in mind."

"Perhaps you won't care for it so much," Fred answered, "when I tell you that the king is in constant fear of his life, as he never knows what plots may be formed for his assassination. Existing only by tyranny, he is subject to the same rule as other tyrants, and is liable to be overthrown at any moment.

[Illustration: "YOUNG GUINEA."]

"The two great institutions of Ashantee are slavery and polygamy. Some rich men own a thousand slaves each, and the king has many thousands of them at his command. In the matter of marriage he is under restrictions, as he is only permitted to have three thousand three hundred and thirty-three wives. No doubt he would like to have more, but the custom of the country forbids him to do so."

Frank wanted to know if the king went out to walk often, and took his family along.

"Probably not," replied Fred, "as the wives of the king are really laborers on his plantations, or at least the most of them are. During the working season they are scattered where their work is needed, but at other times they occupy two streets in the capital city, where they are secluded from the gaze of all except the king and his female slaves. Any man who looks upon one of them even by accident must suffer death.

[Illustration: FANTEE GENTLEMAN AND SOLDIER.]

"Until the slave-trade was suppressed on the coast of Western Africa, Ashantee had a thriving business in selling prisoners of war or disposing of its surplus population, but of late years this commerce has been cut off, and the country has been restricted to dealings in gold and other products of the land. It is separated from the coast by the country of the Fantees, who are hostile to the Ashantees, and frequently at war with them. On two occasions, when the English have supported the Fantees in hostilities against the Ashantees, the latter have marched large armies to the coast and threatened the safety of Cape Coast Castle and Elmina. Once they actually compelled the British governor to make terms of peace, and in 1824 they defeated a British army, and killed the commander and nearly all his officers.

[Illustration: THE BURNING OF COOMASSIE.]

"Things went on in a very unsatisfactory way till 1873, when the Dutch fort of Elmina and the surrounding possessions were ceded to the English. The Dutch had paid the King of Ashantee a tribute of £500 a year, which the English discontinued. Thereupon the king sent an army to collect it, but he was defeated, though not driven back. In 1874 Sir Garnet Wolseley was sent there with two thousand English troops. To these he added a large force of Fantees, with which he invaded Ashantee and burned Coomassie, its capital city. Two severe battles were fought, and in the second of them the king commanded in person, and only retreated after a fight of six hours.

"This is the famous 'Ashantee war' of which we read a few years ago. The treaty of peace which followed the burning of Coomassie required the king to pay an indemnity of fifty thousand ounces of gold, keep a road open to the coast, and abolish human sacrifices."

"I have read about these sacrifices," said Frank. "It is stated somewhere that at least a thousand slaves were sacrificed every year, in a certain grove near the king's palace at Coomassie."

"That is the case," replied Doctor Bronson, "and the worst of the story is not told. It was the custom, on occasions of festivity or mourning--in fact, on every affair of publicity--to kill a certain number of victims. If slaves were convenient they were selected to be offered up; but it often happened that the immediate attendants of the king were taken at an instant's notice. A traveller tells that one day two messengers came to inform the king of the discovery of a new gold-mine, and brought samples of the gold produced by it.

"The king looked at the gold with evident pleasure, and then ordered a sacrifice in honor of the discovery. The most convenient victims were the two messengers. They were immediately seized and taken to the sacrificial grove, where they were given to the Ashantee divinities, with the customary ceremonies."

[Illustration: A BELLE OF THE GUINEA COAST.]

"What a horrid custom!" exclaimed Frank. "The English did a good thing for humanity in putting an end to it. Have they ever sent missionaries among the people?"

"They have done so," was the reply, "but with very poor success. Some Ashantees have become Christians, but only a very few, and the missionaries have become discouraged. Quite lately there have been reports that Moslem missionaries have come from Central Africa and attempted to convert the Ashantees to their faith. They are said to be meeting with good success, and possibly before many years the whole nation will become Mohammedans. Anything is better than the horrid paganism that formerly prevailed. However much Mohammedanism is behind Christianity, as Stanley explained to King M'tesa, it is vastly better than the old religions of Africa, with their wanton disregard of human life."

"I suppose," said Frank, "that the gold from this part of Africa is the 'Guinea gold' which we often read about?"

"Quite right," was the reply. "Guinea gold was known in Europe long before gold from America, and the golden guineas of England were made from it. No guineas are coined now, and the piece of twenty-one shillings is not in circulation. London tradesmen, especially when dealing with foreigners, like to reckon prices in guineas, as they can thereby add five per cent. to their figures, since the stranger does not always mark the difference between guineas and sovereigns."

The arrival of the boat at the point where the camp was to be made for the night brought the conversation to an end.

[Illustration: VIEW OF ELMINA, ON THE GOLD COAST.]

CHAPTER XXIX.

A DESCRIPTION OF SOUTH AFRICA.--ENGLISH COLONIES.--OSTRICH FARMING.

Frank determined not to be outdone by Fred in describing parts of Africa which they were not likely to visit in their journey. At the first opportunity he opened their limited store of books and proceeded to inform himself concerning South Africa, or that part of the continent between the twentieth parallel of south latitude and the Cape of Good Hope. A day's careful reading gave him a good stock of knowledge, which he promptly conveyed to his cousin.

"It isn't a very dark region," said he, "as it has been settled and colonized, and has a good many marks of civilization. It has railways and stage lines, telegraphs and newspapers, hotels and factories, together with many other things you would hardly expect to find. It was once a fine hunting-ground for the great game of Africa, but at present the wild animals are difficult to find, as the most of them have been killed or driven off.

"Cumming, Anderson, Baldwin, and others have given us accounts of their adventures. Some of their stories convey the impression that the country was once so thickly inhabited by wild beasts that it was impossible to take a walk before breakfast without encountering a lion or an elephant, a rhinoceros or a giraffe. That happy time is gone forever, and the greater part of South Africa is delivered from the dangers that made it so fascinating to the lovers of destruction.

"To begin with," continued the youthful historian, "the most important part of South Africa is Cape Colony, better known to us as the Cape of Good Hope."

[Illustration: NATIVE OF CAPE COLONY.]

"It is important, I suppose," remarked Fred, "because it was settled before any other part of that end of the continent, and contains the greatest population."

"Exactly so," responded Frank; "it was settled by the Dutch about 1650, and, with the exception of a few years, remained in their possession till 1806, when it fell into the hands of the English. At that time it had an area of one hundred and twenty thousand square miles, and a population of sixty-one thousand. Now it covers an area of three hundred thousand square miles, with a population of more than a million, according to the figures in Silver's 'Hand-book for South Africa' and other works."

Fred asked how it happened that the area of the colony had increased so much since the English obtained possession of it.

"Thereby hangs a tale," replied Frank, "and it is to some extent a tale of British oppression and cruelty. Previous to the English occupation of the Cape the colonists consisted of Dutch and French emigrants and their descendants. The former were known as Boers, from the Dutch word _boer_, a peasant, while the latter were mostly Huguenots, who had fled to escape religious persecution. They were never reconciled to the British rule, and in the year 1835 there was a general movement for emigrating to the wilderness and founding a republic of their own.

[Illustration: EMIGRATING TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN WILDERNESS.]

"They sold their farms, and with their cattle and household goods moved to the north of the Orange River and founded an independent colony, making for themselves new homes in the wilderness. A few years later, when their colony was fairly established, it was 'annexed' by the English. Again the Boers emigrated, and again they were annexed, and the same process was again repeated."

"The nation that proclaims itself the champion of freedom was evidently opposed to the practice of it on the part of others," said Fred, as his cousin paused a moment in his story.

"Yes," was the response; "it seems to me, and I believe a good many Englishmen are of the same opinion, that the conduct of the British government in its South African policy has been most tyrannical and utterly regardless of the rights of mankind. Ever since the beginning of the century it has oppressed the Boers, and refused to allow them to found colonies of their own. It has made war upon them time and again, for the sole offence of seeking their independence by emigration. In the recent troubles known as the 'Transvaal War' the Boers defended themselves bravely, and secured the admiration of the whole world. Their foes were compelled to admit the valor of the people who fought in defence of their rights, and a sentiment rapidly gained ground in England that the government was engaged in an unjust campaign."

"It was to a certain extent a repetition of the story of the American colonies, and the war that led to their independence," said Fred.

"In some of its features that was the case, but the result has been that England has gradually assumed control over all the region of South Africa. It has appropriated the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State, and the Boers have probably learned by this time that farther migration is useless. Some of the annexations have been under the pretence of a popular vote of the inhabitants; but the voting has generally been managed in such a way as to remind me of the story of the Western town in America that took its census one day when a large excursion party was there. It was thus enabled, by including all the excursionists, to show a large population. The English have managed to confine the voting to the mining districts and the towns where Englishmen were congregated, while the scattered farmers had no chance to express their opinions.

"We'll drop the political question and take a glance at the country," continued Frank. "In Cape Colony there are four main lines of railway, one of them more than three hundred miles long, and another is under construction. The colony of Natal has a line of railway of its own, and they are building an iron road to connect the capital of the Transvaal with the ocean. Before the end of the century South Africa will have lost all the characteristics of the 'Dark Continent,' and be much like the settled portions of the United States. The exploits of Cumming and Anderson are as impossible there at present as are those of Daniel Boone and Kit Carson in our own land.

[Illustration: THE "MARCH OF CIVILIZATION."]

"Look at the map," said he as he spread it before his cousin, "and see how much it resembles that of a group of our own States." They spent half an hour or more in pointing out real or fancied similarities as their eyes ran over the outlines of the colonies and their numerous subdivisions. Fred was amused with many of the names of towns and districts, and Frank explained that they were mostly given by the Boers, and indicated how much those energetic colonists had been concerned in the settlement and development of the country.

"Here is Pietermaritzburg," said Frank, "the chief town of Natal. It is compounded of the names of two famous Boer leaders in the struggle for independence--Pieter Retief and Gert Maritz. And here is Potscherfstroom, in Transvaal, a town which is intended to commemorate three popular men among the Boers, by taking a syllable from each of their names. They were Potgieter, Scherf, and Stockenstroom."

"You can go on through the colonies," said he, "and find many names of similar origin. Everywhere that you traverse the country and enter the house of a Boer you will be hospitably welcomed, as soon as it is known you are not an Englishman; and you will find the host and his family plain, honest, pious, and industrious. Of course there are exceptions; but they only, like exceptions everywhere, serve to prove the rule. There is no people in the world more pious than the Boers. They have morning and evening devotions, and many of the families are in possession of the Bibles that their ancestors brought from Europe one or two hundred years ago.

"South Africa is an agricultural and grazing region, and there are some curious facts connected with the growth of its industries. Seventy years ago the Governor of Cape Town threw two wagon-loads of wool into the sea, because there was no use for it. At present the value of the wool annually exported from Cape Colony is nearly twenty million dollars. Diamonds were discovered in 1868 on the banks of the Vaal River, and afterward in several other districts, and since then the diamond mines have attracted a great many people. The production has been so great that the diamond market of the world has been seriously affected. The precious stones have diminished considerably in value, but, fortunately for the owners of Brazilian and East Indian diamonds, those from South Africa are nearly all of them 'off color.'"

[Illustration: SCENE IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN DIAMOND MINES.]

"What do you mean by 'off color?'" Fred asked.

"Why," was the reply, "I mean that they are rather '_on_ color.' The best diamonds are pure white, but nearly all of those from Africa have a yellowish tint, which greatly reduces their value. The stones from Brazil and India are of 'first water,' or colorless, and consequently their value has not materially suffered; but the case is different with yellow stones, which have lost three-fourths of their value since the African fields were opened. It is said there was quite a panic among the diamond owners when they saw what immense numbers of the stones came from Africa, and some of them predicted that diamonds would become as common as garnets or amethysts in a very few years. But of late the mines are said to have been exhausted, and the industry has greatly declined.

"Another discovery of South Africa is the ostrich."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Fred. "The ostrich was known long before the English went to that country, and long before an Englishman ever existed. I believe it is mentioned in the Bible."

"You didn't hear me through," said Frank. "I was going to say that the discovery of the possibility of domesticating ostriches and raising them, as we raise sheep or cattle, was made in South Africa."

"How was that?"

"Down to about twenty years ago ostriches were only known in a wild state, with the exception of a few that were held in menageries or otherwise kept as curiosities. Ostrich farming had been tried in Algeria, but with only partial success, and not to any great extent. The ostrich feathers which are so much prized, and sell for high figures, were obtained by hunting the wild birds in their desert homes.

"Two hundred years ago these birds were so abundant in South Africa that they were often seen within a few miles of Cape Town, and a hunter could be reasonably certain of all the sport he wanted by going a few miles into the country. The colonization of the region has caused their disappearance, and anybody who wants them in a wild state must go to the deserts north of the Orange River, or to other unsettled portions of the continent.

"The chase of the wild ostrich is now almost entirely in the hands of the aboriginals. The feathers obtained in this way are bought by traders, who go into the wilderness carrying such goods as the natives will accept. These they barter for the precious feathers, and when they have finished their traffic they return to the settlements with their valuable commodity."

"Ostrich feathers command a high price," said Fred, "and I suppose the dealers find their trade very profitable."

"So they do," Frank replied; "but the wild feathers are growing scarcer every year, and the traders do not confine themselves to buying them to the exclusion of everything else. A trader starts off with perhaps half a dozen wagons laden with guns, powder, blankets, beads, wire, knives, and other goods that meet the approval of the savage. On his return the wagons are filled with ivory, hippopotamus teeth, rhinoceros horns, and a varied lot of skins of wild animals, in addition to ostrich feathers. Sometimes a single wagon-load will be valued at fifty thousand dollars, and the larger the quantity of ostrich feathers the greater is its value."

Fred asked how the feathers were sold, and what was the standard of their value.

"They are carefully sorted according to their quality, and then sold by weight. Of course the price varies, like that of any other merchandise, and the business has its ups and downs, like everything else. The finest feathers are sometimes sold for three hundred dollars a pound, and two hundred dollars may be considered a fair price for a first-class article. The plumes from chickens sell for two or three dollars a pound. Between the highest and lowest prices, you see, there is a very wide range."

"And you say the people at the Cape raise ostriches now as they would raise horses or sheep, do you?" Fred inquired.

[Illustration: DRIVING A FLOCK OF OSTRICHES.]

"Certainly I do," was the reply. "Ostrich farming has become a regular business, and a good many men have made fortunes by it. The first experiments were made in 1862. Three years later there were eighty tame ostriches in Cape Colony, and from that time the business grew very rapidly. In 1875 there were about fifty thousand birds in the hands of the farmers of South Africa, and five years later the number had more than doubled. It began in Cape Colony, and has spread through Natal, Transvaal, and the Orange River district, and has become a regular industry, like sheep or cattle raising. The profits are very great, and attempts are now being made to introduce ostrich farming into the United States."

Fred asked how the farmers obtained the feathers from the captive birds.

[Illustration: THE OSTRICH AND ITS HUNTERS.]

"Very easily," Frank answered. "In the old way of hunting the ostrich it was necessary to kill the bird in order to obtain the feathers, and thus he yielded only a single crop. Under the present system the feathers are cut off when 'ripe,' and new ones grow in their places. These are cut off in time, and year after year fresh harvests are made, until the bird is too old to produce more. The first crop is taken when the bird is a year and a half old, and is worth about twenty dollars. After that time the annual yield of a bird is from forty to fifty dollars, and he continues to produce feathers till he is eighteen or twenty years old."

[Illustration: HUNTING UNDER DISADVANTAGES.]

"Very profitable stock to have on hand," said Fred. "But how does the ostrich like to have his feathers taken from him?"

"At first he didn't like it, as they were 'plucked' or pulled out with pincers. At present the 'plucking' process has been abandoned for that of cutting, which is quite painless. The birds are driven into a yard, and the keeper goes among them with a pair of nippers, with which he severs the feathers about two inches from the base. When the birds are crowded close together they do not know what is being done, and stand quite still while the cutting is performed. If there are only a few of them it is necessary to throw a bag over the one that is being operated on, and he is then unable to make any opposition, or, at all events, he makes none. Three or four months after the feather has been cut the stump falls out, or can be easily removed, and then a new feather grows in its place."

Here the Doctor joined in the conversation, as Frank showed signs of nearing the end of his stock of knowledge. He informed the youths that not only was cutting preferable to plucking, on account of its painlessness, but also because the feathers that were afterward produced were of a better quality. The new feathers that grew after plucking were apt to be twisted and distorted, so that they were greatly reduced in value, while those that grew after the other method were always well formed. If the farmers were not induced to follow the new system out of humanity to the bird, they were sure to be with regard to their pockets.

"The tame ostriches run in pastures, under the care of native boys," continued Doctor Bronson, "very much as sheep or cattle would under similar circumstances. They want plenty of space, good food--but not too much of it--and must be driven to shelter from severe storms. A very small fence will keep them in bounds, and they will thrive on a soil altogether too barren for cattle or sheep. A great deal of land formerly regarded as worthless is now found highly profitable as a home for the ostrich herds."

"Now, Fred," said the Doctor, "take a scrap of paper and figure up the profits of an ostrich farm." Fred prepared himself with materials for calculation, and the results caused his eyes to open with astonishment.

"Let us start with a pair of birds three years old," said the Doctor, "and see how we come out in ten years.

"Our birds at that age will lay about twenty eggs, and then proceed to hatch them. For the hatching process they require forty-two days--exactly twice as long as the common hen--and they take turns in sitting on the eggs. There is the same uncertainty with ostriches as with other birds in counting chickens before they are hatched, but we can fairly hope to get ten chickens from twenty eggs. The ostrich raises two broods in a year, so that at the end of the year we have twenty chickens. Next year twenty more, or ten pairs a year from the old birds, and so on, year after year. Then when the chicks are three years old they have broods of their own, and then--"

Fred said he must take time to figure up the state of affairs at the end of ten years, and as the supply of paper was limited he wisely paused for the present. Any boy who chooses may make the calculation and easily figure out a fortune for himself and all his partners in the enterprise. Before Fred was through with the calculation he had determined to emigrate to the Cape and become an ostrich farmer; or, better still, he would buy a few thousand acres of land in Arizona, where the country was said to be admirably adapted to this new and highly profitable industry.

Doctor Bronson dampened his ardor a little by telling him the ostrich had many enemies, in a domestic as well as in a wild state. "The hyena, wild-cat, and fox," said he, "have a loving tooth for the egg of the ostrich, and will often drive the bird from its nest, so that they may feed on its contents. Crows will drop stones into a nest when the bird is away for a few moments. This was formerly supposed to be a fiction, but its correctness has been verified by several observers. The crow seizes a round pebble from a brook or other place, poises himself over the nest, and then drops the stone with an accuracy that rarely misses its object. He follows to the ground immediately after the stone to make a feast on the broken egg.

"Hawks kill the young chicks, and the birds, old and young, suffer from various diseases, most of them caused by improper care."

"That is true," said Fred. "My ostrich-eggs shall be hatched artificially. Natural incubation occupies a period of six weeks."

[Illustration: WHAT FRED HOPED FOR.]

"That's so," chimed in Frank; "the farmers at the Cape use incubators, invented by Mr. Arthur Douglas. Not only do they get more chickens from a given number of eggs, but they get three broods a year instead of two."

"Hurrah!" said Fred, "three broods in place of two; and, besides, we can defy the crows, and the hyena and his kindred, who rob the nests. We'll keep the chicks housed till they are too big for the hawks. We'll herd them carefully, so they sha'n't have any of the distempers that come from inattention; and as for food, they shall have just what is best for them. I've heard of feeding ostriches on old boots, pocket-knives, and similar things; and if mine want anything of the kind I'll buy all the old boots in New York, and all the cutlery in Connecticut, to give them a wholesome diet."

The Doctor suggested that nutritious grass for the young birds, and Indian corn and green food of different kinds for the old ones, was about all that was needed. Still, he said, they devoured a good many pebbles, which seemed to serve the same purpose as the gravel in the gizzard of an ordinary hen. A farmer once found nine hundred and thirty stones in the gizzard of an ostrich, varying from the size of a pea to that of a walnut. There were no old boots or pocket-knives among them; but it has sometimes happened that an ostrich has helped himself to a button from the coat of an incautious visitor or a diamond pin from his shirt-front.

Here the conversation ended, and Fred retired to think over his scheme for supplying the market of New York with ostrich plumes. He told Frank he might write to Mary and Miss Effie, promising them in a few years all the feathers they desired, and the prettiest ones, too.

[Illustration: THE OSTRICH'S NATURAL ENEMY.]

CHAPTER XXX.

RESUMING THE MARCH.--MIRAMBO'S COUNTRY.--HUNTING ZEBRAS.--DESCRIPTION OF THE SOKO.

Our friends landed without accident at M'salala, in Usukuma, which is a province of Unyamwezi. The best part of a day was consumed in getting the baggage on shore, setting up the tents, and putting the camp in order. They expected to remain there for several days, as it was not possible to hire at short notice all the guides and porters for the land journey from that point.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE GUIDES.]

The payment of the crews of the boats was a matter of some moment, as the men had an exalted opinion of the value of their services, notwithstanding the fact that they were in the employ of King M'tesa, and had been sent by him to transport Doctor Bronson and his party down the lake. The captains of the boats threw out hints that they would take their pay by force if it was not handed over voluntarily. Doctor Bronson threatened to report the whole affair to the King of Unyamwezi, and through him to M'tesa, who would be likely to deal very summarily with the offenders. The dispute was appealed to the Unyamwezi delegation who had accompanied the party down the lake, and their decision was a good illustration of the African character.

M'tesa's men thought the Unyamwezi people would be inclined to make the payment as high as possible, as it was the African policy to make the stranger contribute freely for the privilege of passing through the country. In fact, one of M'tesa's captains had a sly interview with the chief of the delegation, and set forth the situation in glowing terms, coupled with an offer to give a liberal commission on whatever was received from the travellers. Abdul happened to learn of this interview, and as soon as an opportunity was afforded he had a similar conference with the same individual.

What was said at this conference we are not at liberty to repeat, but the result was that the members of the delegation argued to themselves about as follows:

"M'tesa's people are going away, and the strangers will remain among us for a while and travel through our country. The more they give to M'tesa's sailors the less they will have to give to us. The people that go are of much less consequence than those who remain; and besides, they can't afford to be liberal. As the sailors and their captains are in M'tesa's employ it would not be honorable for them to accept presents from strangers, and we therefore decide that they have nothing: they should go back to their own country with their hands and consciences equally clear."

Doctor Bronson and the youths laughed heartily when the decision was reported to them, and the Doctor remarked that these Ethiopian judges might shake hands with certain occupants of the judicial bench not a thousand miles from New York.

"Yes," said Frank, "'a fellow-feeling makes them wondrous kind'--to those who can afford to pay the most for the favors of the honorable court."

The decision placed the matter fairly in the Doctor's hands. He called the captains and sailors together, and distributed among them a liberal amount of cloth, beads, wire, and other African commodities, and then required that they should start immediately for home. He did not choose to have them remain longer in his neighborhood, as he realized their power to make trouble for his party by setting the people of Usukuma against him.

He added the rifle which he had promised to send to M'tesa in case the journey was accomplished within a certain time. Just as the boats were about to leave he presented each of the crews with a supply of provisions, which had not been bargained for, several jars of merissa, and an extra lot of cloth for the crew of the boat which had brought the donkeys. They certainly deserved it, as not a man of them had escaped with less than a dozen kicks. This unexpected liberality threw them all into good humor, and as the men paddled off they chanted songs in praise of the strangers, and hoped they would come again to Africa.

"'All's well that ends well,'" said the Doctor as the last of the boats disappeared around a bend in the bay. "I was very much afraid we should have trouble with these people. There was no danger of anything of the kind as long as we were within reach of M'tesa; but they knew well enough that we could not get at him again without returning to Rubaga, which was not at all in our plans."

[Illustration: A ROYAL RESIDENCE IN UNYAMWEZI.]

The delegation started the next morning for the court of the King of Unyamwezi. They carried a letter from Doctor Bronson, written in Arabic, and asking permission to visit his capital, and travel through his country to Ujiji, on Lake Tanganyika. It was understood that the party would start as soon as the necessary porters could be engaged, and would be likely to meet the messenger with the king's answer somewhere on the road.

It may be well to explain here that the king they were about to meet was the famous Mirambo, whose character has not been painted in pleasing colors by several African travellers. His capital or residence is at Urambo, about half way between the Victoria and Tanganyika lakes, and he was formerly looked upon as a blood-thirsty warrior, who exacted enormous tribute from every caravan that crossed his country.

The story of the trouble is told by Cameron in the account of his journey across Africa.

There are many Arabs settled in Unyamyembe, about a hundred miles south-east of Mirambo's capital. They trade in ivory and other African products, and for a long time Mirambo was on friendly terms with them. They made frequent exchanges of presents, and he allowed many of the Arabs to settle in his country, and gave them grants of land for their villages and, besides, cattle selected from his own herds.

One of the Arabs took advantage of the monarch's good-nature and bought a large quantity of ivory on credit. When the time came for payment he evaded the debt, and as Mirambo pressed his claim the rascal laughed at him for being so foolish as to trust an Arab.

Even a king may get angry when a debtor scorns him. Mirambo did not show his temper immediately, but asked the Arabs at Unyamyembe to assist him to collect the debt.

They refused to do so, and then the king took the measure into his own hands and seized a caravan belonging to a partner of the man who had defrauded him. This event brought on a war, which lasted for several years, and gave great trouble, not only to the Arabs, but to all the white men who attempted to pass that way. Mirambo was an energetic warrior, who kept constantly on the move, and dropped down suddenly where he was least expected. Many villages were burned, and thousands of people were killed on both sides, or captured, and sold into slavery. The warfare was conducted in the most barbarous manner by the king and his enemies. The Arabs were as cruel as Mirambo, and there was very little to choose between them.

[Illustration: WAR DANCE OF MIRAMBO'S FOLLOWERS.]

At the time of Stanley's second journey in Africa to Lake Tanganyika the war was over, and the king had resumed business relations with his neighbors. He made terms of friendship with Stanley, and told him that hereafter any white man or Arab might travel through his territory or come there to trade, and he would be welcome. Stanley and the king exchanged presents, and the latter gave his visitor all the guides and porters he wanted to accompany him on his journey.

The peaceful relations established by Stanley continued at the time Doctor Bronson and his companions arrived at the southern end of the Victoria N'yanza. As soon as Mirambo received the letter informing him of the approach of the strangers, and also the letter of M'tesa introducing the travellers as his friends, he sent two of his officers to meet them and conduct them to the capital.

[Illustration: NATIVES BRINGING PROVISIONS FOR SALE.]

Our friends started on their journey three days behind the delegation which carried the letter to Mirambo. They had no great difficulty in engaging porters, as the country bordering on the lake is well peopled, and the natives were quite desirous of earning some of the white man's cloth and beads. The Doctor's liberality to M'tesa's sailors had been noised about, and the porters were eager to be employed by a man who paid for services when an African tribunal had decided that he need not give anything. They brought various articles for sale, and there was a liberal offering of whatever the country produced. A couple of riding donkeys were obtained by Abdul, and also an ox that had been trained to the saddle. These animals, added to what they had brought from Rubaga, served to mount the entire party, including Abdul and Ali, and left an extra donkey for use in case of accident to any of the others.

There was some delay at starting, owing to the tendency of the porters to seek the lightest loads. The matter was finally arranged by placing the loads in a row, and then forming the men in line a little distance away and out of sight of the burdens they were to carry. Then they marched forward, and each man picked up the load which chance assigned to him and marched off without a murmur. Frank observed that they were finely-shaped, muscular fellows, and their countenances showed them to be quite the equals of the people of Ugunda, if not of a superior intelligence.

Fred took note of the clothing worn by the porters and others of the people of Unyamwezi, and remarked that a very little writing was sufficient to describe it. The principal garment was a cloth around the loins. Some of the better class had leopard or other skins thrown over their shoulders; and the boys were told that only a chief or man of high authority is allowed to wear the hide of a lion. The capture of a lion was a sufficiently rare occurrence to make the clothing of the chiefs equal the supply of the skin of the king of beasts.

Doctor Bronson and the boys waited at the camp-ground till the last of the porters had left with his load and the whole caravan was under way; then they mounted the donkeys and followed close to the rear, while Abdul hurried to the front. An Arab named Mohammed had been engaged to accompany them to Ujiji, as he knew the language of Unyamwezi, and was familiar with the country between the two lakes. He proved of great assistance in managing the caravan and keeping the men at a good pace while on the road. He said he accompanied Stanley from Unyamyembe to Zanzibar on his first journey; and though he never travelled with Livingstone he had often seen him.

The road was through a rolling country, greatly resembling the region between Fatiko and Rubaga. There was the same succession of forests and open ground, and there were level plains that became pestiferous marshes during the rainy season. Villages were numerous, and there were many fields of bananas, plantains, sweet-potatoes, and that peculiar kind of corn which the Arabs call "sesame."

[Illustration: A PROTECTED VILLAGE.]

Many of the villages had herds of cattle grazing in the vicinity, under the care of herdsmen. Most of the villages were surrounded with stockades, and there was at one side of each village a yard with a high fence, where the cattle were driven at night. The herders were provided with huts in the middle of these yards, so that they could be constantly with the animals, for whose safety they were responsible. The fence was considered a sufficient protection against wild animals, while the approach of a human foe was sure to bring all the fighting-men from the village to defend their property. Many of these enclosures had hedges of a peculiar kind of thorn-bush, that was really more difficult of penetration than a palisade of trunks of trees. The thorns are cruel things, two or three inches long, and many of them curved like fish-hooks. Getting loose from one you get caught on another, and perhaps on two or three; and a person who enters one of these bushes unawares will leave behind him the greater part of his clothing, together with many souvenirs from his skin.

The general direction of the route was toward the south-west, and the guides said it would take five or six days to reach Mirambo's residence. If they wanted to hunt on the way they could do so, as the country abounded in game. Doctor Bronson thought it would not be well to stop for that purpose, as they would be likely to lose time by doing so; and besides, it might not suit the fancy of the king if they went to shooting in his dominions. But there could be no objection to their killing anything which came in their way, and with this understanding they continued the journey.

A messenger came from the front with the information that a herd of zebras was in a valley to the right of the road, and not more than a quarter of a mile away. With the Doctor's permission Frank and Fred went in pursuit of the new game, under the guidance of Mohammed, and accompanied by a couple of natives, who served as gun-bearers.

[Illustration: THE ZEBRA AT HOME.]

They were fortunate enough to get near the zebras without being "winded," as the slight breeze that blew was directly in the faces of the young hunters. Three zebras were grazing together, close to a small grove, and two or three others were visible among the trees. The youths managed to creep quite close, and each selecting his victim, they fired at the same instant.

One animal fell on the spot; the other sprang high in the air and ran a few yards before the bullet brought him to the ground. The boys rejoined the column, while Mohammed summoned several of the natives who followed the caravan, and persuaded them to carry the meat to camp.

"He looked much like a striped horse," said Fred, when recounting the adventure to the Doctor.

"More like a donkey than a horse," said Frank.

"The zebra is more like the donkey than the horse," replied Doctor Bronson. "It has hairs at the tip of the tail only," he continued, "and his hind legs are without warts. For these reasons, and also for his voice and his powerful kick, he has been classed with the donkey, and you will find him named in the scientific books as the _Asinus zebra_."

"But can the zebra be tamed, and made to work, like his long-eared cousin?" Fred inquired.

"Yes," responded the Doctor, "he can be domesticated, but not easily. He is occasionally employed as a beast of burden, but is liable to manifest the same peculiarities of waywardness and stubbornness as the mule."

"There is everything in a name," he farther remarked, "as you will find when the game you have killed is brought into camp. The Arabs and all their followers will eat the flesh of the zebra, and think it excellent; but they would not touch a bit of horse or donkey to save their lives."

"Perhaps they are not alone in their prejudice," replied one of the boys. "I am impatient to have a taste of our prizes, but should hesitate for some time to dine off a donkey or a horse."

The Doctor smiled as he nodded approval of the sentiment of the youth, and the conversation changed to some other topic.

The camp was made in a little valley, close to a native village. While they were pitching the tents there was an alarm of "Snake! snake!" and the Doctor seized his shot-gun to make an end of the unwelcome visitor. The man who had shouted pointed in the direction of the village, and our friends hastened there as fast as they could go.

It seemed that a large snake had entered one of the huts, and was making himself thoroughly at home. He had seized a chicken, and was leisurely engaged in devouring it. The Doctor was about to shoot his snakeship, when the owner of the hut begged him not to do so. All he desired was to have the creature leave the premises, and he would not consent that he should be harmed.

Mohammed came up while the Doctor was wondering at the native's concern for the welfare of the serpent. He explained that the people regard the snake as a sort of ghost or spirit, and if it should be harmed by them in any way it would be sure to bring about a calamity. "If you had shot the snake," said the Arab, "it would have been necessary to move the village immediately, to evade the vengeance of the ghost."

Jackals howled around the camp during the night, but their music did not interfere with the sleep of our friends. They were up and off in good time in the morning, and soon entered upon a plain five or six miles wide, with a few calabash-trees scattered over the level expanse. On the edge of the plain was a tembé, a building of a kind peculiar to this part of Africa, and only rarely met with in the regions north of the equator. Cameron thus describes the first one he saw:

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN TEMBÉ.]

"The tembé is formed simply of walls running parallel, subdivided by partitions, and having a roof nearly flat, sloping only slightly to the front. It is usually built to form a square, inside which the cattle are penned at night. It is about the most comfortless form of habitation that the brain of man ever devised; and as the huts are shared by the fowls and goats they are filthy in the extreme, and swarm with insect life."

The boys entered the tembé only for a few moments, as the caravan was not allowed to halt, and they did not wish to be left in the rear. Besides, there was very little to be seen in the place, and the inhabitants had nothing to sell except a few eggs, which were quickly bought.

Frank discovered a strange-looking skin hanging to one of the inner walls of the tembé, and called the attention of his companions to it. The Doctor regarded it carefully, and then said it was the skin of a soko.

As soon as they were on the road again Fred referred to the soko, and asked if they were in the region inhabited by that animal.

"I think he is occasionally found here," was the reply, "but his proper habitat is on the other side of Lake Tanganyika. At any rate he was seen there frequently by Livingstone, Stanley, and Cameron, and the Arabs say that sokos are sometimes killed in the neighborhood of the Victoria N'yanza."

"Dr. Livingstone has given the fullest account of this denizen of the African forest, and when we get into camp I advise you to look it up in his 'Last Journals.'"

Fred followed the Doctor's advice, and from the book in question he read as follows:

"Four gorillas, or sokos, were killed yesterday. An extensive grass-burning forced them out of their usual haunt, and, coming on the plain, they were speared. They often go erect, but place the hand on the head, as if to steady the body. When seen thus the soko is an ungainly beast. The most sentimental young lady would not call him a 'dear,' but a bandy-legged, pot-bellied villain, without a particle of the gentleman in him.

[Illustration: MANYUEMA HUNTERS KILLING SOROS.]

"His light-yellow face shows off his ugly whiskers and faint apology for a beard: the forehead, villanously low, with high ears, is well in the background of the great dog-mouth; the teeth are slightly human, but the canines show the beast by their large development. The hands, or rather the fingers, are those of the natives. The flesh of the feet is yellow, and the eagerness with which the Manyuema devour it leaves the impression that eating sokos was the first stage by which they arrived at being cannibals. They say the flesh is delicious. The soko is represented by some to be extremely knowing, successfully stalking men and women at their work, kidnapping children, and running up trees with them. He seems to be amused by the sight of the young native in his arms, but comes down when tempted by a bunch of bananas, and as he lifts it he drops the child.

"The soko kills the leopard occasionally by seizing both paws and biting them so as to disable them; he then goes up a tree, groans over his wounds, and sometimes recovers, while the leopard dies; at other times both soko and leopard die. The soko eats no flesh; small bananas are his dainties and other fruits. Some of the natives believe their buried dead rise as sokos, and one was killed with holes in his ears, as if he had been a man. He is very strong, and fears guns, but not spears. He never catches women.

"If a man has no spear the soko goes away satisfied; but if wounded he seizes the wrist, lops off the fingers, and spits them out, slaps the cheeks of his victim, and bites without breaking the skin. He draws out a spear, but never uses it, and takes some leaves and stuffs them into his wound to staunch the blood."

Doctor Bronson said it was not positively settled whether the soko was identical with the gorilla, described by Du Chaillu, and found in the western part of Africa. Naturalists are of opinion that it is not the gorilla, but a distinct species of chimpanzee, which Dr. Livingstone was the first to describe. The men who accompanied the eminent missionary were shown the specimen of the gorilla in the British Museum. They said it was not the soko, though closely resembling it, and they believed the two animals were nearly related to each other.

CHAPTER XXXI.

TO MIRAMBO'S CAPITAL.--STANLEY'S WORK ON THE LIVINGSTONE.

The march to King Mirambo's capital was without any incident of consequence. When within a few miles of the place they met a delegation, consisting of one of the officers who had accompanied them down the lake and two other personages of rank near the king. Doctor Bronson received them after the customary form--with presents of cloth and beads--and messengers were sent back to tell the king that his visitors were near.

[Illustration: ROCKS BY THE WAYSIDE.]

As they entered the capital there was a large assemblage along the principal road leading into the town, and in some places the crowd was so dense that it was not easy to proceed. In a little while a company of the king's soldiers cleared the way, and the strangers were conducted to the presence of the man whom Stanley describes as the "Mars of Central Africa."

Drums were beaten and hundreds of muskets discharged by the people around the king, and one might have thought from the uproar that a battle was in progress. The king met them in front of his palace, which was a plain building, something in the style of M'tesa's at Rubaga, though smaller. The king shook hands with our friends in true European fashion, and said he was glad to see them in his country. He was dressed in Arab costume, and wore a scimitar at his side. His officers were similarly clad, and it seemed to Frank and Fred almost as though they were once more in the presence of M'tesa, so much did the manners of Mirambo's court resemble that of the ruler of Ugunda.

[Illustration: CROSSING A STREAM.]

Frank endorsed fully the description which Stanley gives of this famous warrior. "He was the reverse," said the explorer, "of all my conceptions of the redoubtable chieftain and the man I had styled 'the terrible bandit.'

"He is a man about five feet eleven inches in height, and about thirty-five years old, with not an ounce of superfluous flesh about him--a handsome, regular-featured, mild-voiced, soft-spoken man, with what one might call a 'meek' demeanor, very generous and open-handed. The character was so different from that which I had attributed to him, that for some time a suspicion clung to my mind that I was being imposed upon; but Arabs came forward who testified that this was indeed Mirambo. I had expected to see something of the M'tesa type, a man whose exterior would explain his life and rank; but this unpresuming, mild-eyed man, of inoffensive, meek exterior, whose action was so calm, without a gesture, presented to the eye nothing of the Napoleonic genius which he has for five years displayed in the heart of Unyamwezi, to the injury of Arabs and commerce and doubling the price of ivory."

Presents were exchanged as tokens of friendship, and then the conversation turned upon the plans of the travellers. When the journey to Tanganyika was mentioned Mirambo said it was just then impossible.

This was a piece of intelligence the reverse of pleasing, and Doctor Bronson proceeded at once to ascertain what it meant.

"I have no objection to your going there," said Mirambo, "but I have recently received news of war between Uhha and Uvinza, two petty kingdoms that lie in your way."

The Doctor thought with dismay of the troubles of Stanley and others with these rapacious rulers, who demanded enormous tribute, and several times threatened to take by force what they wanted if it was not voluntarily surrendered.

"If there was no war," continued Mirambo, "you might buy the privilege of crossing those countries; but at present they have stopped all commerce, and any caravan attempting to go that way will certainly be plundered. Your fire-arms would not be so powerful against the fighting-men as in many parts of Africa, as the most of them are supplied with muskets, which they have bought from the Arab merchants."

[Illustration: WEAPONS OF THE NATIVES.]

Mirambo farther said that the war was caused by quarrels among the slave-stealers, and each side was engaged in making as many captives as possible and selling them to the Arabs. "It will be kept up," said he, "till they have stolen most of each other's people, and are compelled to stop for want of more villages to plunder, and more men and women to carry away."

Mirambo invited the strangers to remain in his country as long as they liked; and, as their future movements would require a little while for arrangement, he would give them anything they wanted in the way of provisions for their men.

The audience then broke up, and our friends went to the camp--which had been arranged during the interview--to discuss the new turn of events.

[Illustration: MAN OF MASSI KAMBI.]

Abdul and Mohammed were sent to obtain all the information in their power, and in the course of a couple of hours they returned with a considerable budget. Mirambo had not exaggerated the state of affairs in Uhha and Uvinza. Abdul had talked with two Arab merchants who had been plundered of all they possessed while endeavoring to pass through Uhha. Their goods were stolen, their porters held for sale as slaves, and they only escaped by promising to send fifty bales of cloth from Unyamyembe. A third Arab who accompanied them was held as a hostage, and the King of Uhha had threatened to put him to death unless the cloth was received within thirty days.

Under the circumstances it was deemed advisable to abandon the journey to Lake Tanganyika and proceed to Zanzibar by way of Unyamyembe. Of course the decision was a great disappointment to Frank and Fred, and not much less to Doctor Bronson, but all of them had too much philosophy to grieve over what could not be helped.

"We can do one thing, if we can't do another," said Frank. "We will question everybody who can give us any information, and perhaps we can say something about the great lake, even if we don't see it."

Fred agreed to join Frank in the effort to give an account of the country beyond them, and for a couple of days they attended to little else than the collection of news concerning it. They talked with the Arab merchants, read all the books in their possession which had anything to say about Tanganyika and the Congo, questioned the Doctor, and in other ways showed that they were not to be set down as inattentive travellers.

[Illustration: HILL-COUNTRY NEAR MIRAMBO'S CAPITAL.]

They were already aware that the lake was discovered by Burton in 1858, was partially explored by Stanley and Livingstone a few years later, and that Stanley in his second visit to Central Africa completed the circumnavigation. Other investigations were made by Lieutenant Cameron, and the geographers are able to define the boundaries of the lake very distinctly. It is about four hundred miles long, and varies from ten to sixty miles in width; it lies between the third and ninth degrees of south latitude, and the twenty-ninth and thirty-second degrees of east longitude. Its position is south-west of the Victoria and Albert lakes, and north-west of Lake Nyassa, and its shores are for the most part mountainous.

[Illustration: PORTERS AND WOMAN AND CHILD OF USAGARU.]

The dispute as to its outlet, the Lukuga, was attributed by our friends to the fact that in the dry season the evaporation is equal to the amount of water received from tributary streams and the fall of rain, so that there is no flow whatever from the lake. In the rainy season the Lukuga becomes an important river, a thousand feet in width, and flowing with a strong current, while in the dry season a sand-bar is formed across it, and there is no outflow at all. The Arab traders declared that this was the case, and so we can understand how Cameron found a good-sized river where Stanley said there was none, and the flow, if any, was into the lake rather than out of it.

At his second visit to Ujiji, where he met Livingstone, Stanley observed that the lake had risen considerably; and a later visitor says that the bar at the outlet of the lake had broken away, so as to allow the exit of the water, and the consequent sinking of the lake. All travellers agree that the shores of the lake are very beautiful, and in most portions thickly peopled. The principal town is Ujiji, on the eastern shore, and it will always be famous in history as the place where Stanley first shook hands with Dr. Livingstone, and offered the relief which had been sent to the great missionary by the proprietor of the _New York Herald_.

[Illustration: HUT AT KIFUMA.]

In his second journey Stanley crossed the lake from Ujiji, and plunged into the wilderness beyond its western shore, in a determination to reach the Atlantic Ocean by descending the Lualaba River. He believed the Lualaba flowed into the Congo, and by following its course he could reach the coast. The country was entirely unknown, as not even the Arab traders had ever explored it, and no one could tell what the explorer would encounter. There was a rumor that powerful tribes dwelt on the Congo, but no one could give an idea of their numbers and strength, or say whether they would be friendly or hostile.

The work accomplished by Stanley is thus described by an able writer[7] in _Harper's Magazine_ for October, 1878:

[7] Hon. John Russell Young, now (1883) United States Minister to China.

"Stanley gave nine months to the exploration of the Lualaba, or rather to the Livingstone, as he called it, and as it must be called for all time. Before he went out on this mission we knew there were two rivers--the Congo and the Lualaba. We knew that the Congo ran into the Atlantic Ocean, but its source was lost in cataracts. The Portuguese were content to scatter a few settlements about its mouth, and trade for gums and ivory along its banks. But it was an unknown river beyond the cataracts. We knew there was a river in the middle of Africa called the Lualaba; we knew it had a swift current, that it was a river of large volume. But beyond that we knew nothing. Some had one theory, others had another. Livingstone was convinced that it ran into the Nile, was really the source of the Nile; and who would question even the theory of so great a master? What Stanley did was to show that the Congo and Lualaba were one and the same; that the Congo, instead of losing itself among the rapids, was to force itself into the very heart of the continent; that the Lualaba, instead of going north and submitting to the usurping waters of the Nile, was to turn to the west and force its way to the sea; that these two rivers were to disappear from the map, and be known as one river--the Livingstone; that this river was to be two thousand nine hundred miles in length; that for nearly ten degrees of longitude it was to be continuously navigable; that its volume was one million eight hundred thousand cubic feet a second; that the entire area it drains is eight hundred thousand square miles--in other words, that here was an immense waterway three thousand miles into the centre of Africa, navigable, with the exception of two breaks, which engineering science can easily surmount--a waterway into a tropical empire, rich in woods and metals and gracious soil, in fruits and grains, the sure home of a civilized empire in the years to come. As Petermann, the eminent German geographer, put it, Stanley's work was to unite the fragments of African exploration--the achievements of Livingstone, Burton, Speke, Du Chaillu, Baker, Cameron, of all the heroic men who had gone before him--into one consecutive whole, just as Bismarck united the fragments of the German people, lying about under various princes and dukes, into one grand and harmonious empire. Even as Bismarck had created imperial Germany, so Stanley created geographical Africa.

[Illustration: STANLEY'S VOYAGE ON THE LIVINGSTONE.--BATTLE WITH THE NATIVES.]

"There was a battle at the outset at Ruiki River, which had no special result except to show the ugly temper of the savages. Then came the first cataract--the falls of Ukassa. This seems to be a rapid current, like the first cataract of the Nile, and the boats and canoes were allowed to float over. A month was passed in these explorations, when, on December 6, Stanley came to the country of Usongora Meno, inhabited by a powerful tribe. Stanley's party was weakened by the fact that his people were suffering from small pox. Dysentery came and ulcers, and in three days eighteen of the Arab escort died from various diseases, mainly small-pox. Stanley was one hundred and twenty-five miles from his starting-place, with small-pox affecting seventy-two of his party, when he had another battle, the enemy coming in force, and firing poisoned arrows. Stanley made a camp, and defended his army as well as he could. 'Through the night the poisoned arrows flew, and were heard tapping trees and huts most unpleasantly.... Two days and two nights we bore cruel attacks by land and water. The entire country was aroused against us. Bowmen climbed tall trees, and any person showing himself in the broad street of the little town became a target at once. We were unable to bury our dead or to attend to the delirious wounded.' From this difficult position Stanley released himself by a successful night foray, cutting away the canoes of the attacking party.

[Illustration: FRANK POCOCK, STANLEY'S COMPANION ON THE LIVINGSTONE.]

"It was necessary, in the eighteen hundred miles from Nyangué to the ocean, to pass fifty-seven water-falls and rapids. After the river reached fourteen hundred miles, on its journey to the sea, it narrowed and ran through close-meeting, uprising banks of naked cliffs, or steep slopes of mountains, fringed with tall woods. Here the river was as rough and stormy as a sea, sometimes a steep glassy fall, sometimes boiling around isles of stone and bowlders, sometimes whirlpools and caldrons, the air filled with a roar like that of Niagara. This part of the journey, although not more than one hundred and eighty miles, required five months to make. Stanley, looking back, regards the attempt as insanity. But he had resolved to cling to the river, and not to leave it until it bore him, whether over smooth beaches or stony bowlders, to the sea. If he had gone around the cataract region in a land march he would have lessened his journey, avoided fearful hardships, and saved lives. But this knowledge he bought for himself and for mankind by experience. Hard as was the task, it was better done in this way; otherwise there would have been a farther mystery. As it is, we now know every mile of the river from the source to the mouth. But the perils of these falls were the severest of the trip, and it was here that he lost Kalulu, the faithful black boy whom he found in Livingstone days and educated in England, and, more than all, his last remaining white associate, Frank Pocock.

[Illustration: STANLEY'S EXPEDITION RECUPERATED AND RECLAD AFTER CROSSING THE "DARK CONTINENT."]

"Stanley, having battled with tempest, disease, and armed enemies, now came to a halt, and sent a messenger for relief. Already he was within easy marches of the sea, within four days of Embomma. His small army had been reduced to one hundred and fifteen souls. His message was 'to any gentleman who speaks English at Embomma.' 'We are now,' he wrote, 'in a state of imminent starvation.... The supplies must arrive within two days, or I may have a fearful time of it among the dying.... For myself, if you have such little luxuries as tea, coffee, sugar, and biscuit by you, such as one man can easily carry, I beg you, on my own behalf, that you will send a small supply.... You may not know me by name; I therefore add, I am the person who discovered Livingstone in 1871.' This was on August 6, 1877, and in two days supplies arrived. The letter fell into the hands of A. Motta Viega and J. W. Harrison, whose names are worthy of remembrance, and Stanley wrote, in an ecstasy of delight over 'the rice, the fish, and the rum,' the 'wheat bread, butter, sardines, jam, peaches, grapes, beer (ye gods, just think of it!), three bottles of pale ale, besides tea and sugar!': 'The people cry out joyfully, while their mouths are full of rice and fish, "Verily our master has found the sea and his brothers, but we did not believe him until he showed to us the rice and the rum."... It will be the study of my lifetime,' continued Stanley, 'to remember my feelings of gratefulness when I first caught sight of your supplies, and my poor faithful and brave people cried out, "Master, we are saved--food is coming!" The old and the young, the men, women, and children, lifted their weary and worn-out frames and began to chant lustily an extemporized song in honor of the white people of the great salt sea who had listened to their prayers. I had to rush to my tent to hide the tears that would issue despite all my attempts at composure.' This closed the journey, which, beginning at Nyangué, November 5, 1876, lasted nine months and one day; and counting from the time he left Zanzibar, the entire journey across the 'Dark Continent' occupied nine hundred and ninety-nine days, or two years and nine months!"

Stanley went again to Africa in 1879, to establish colonies on the upper waters of the Livingstone, in the interest of the International African Society, of which the King of Belgium is president. The object of the society is to open Africa to trade and civilization, and it has been liberal in the expenditure of money to accomplish its purposes.

It was near the end of 1879 that Stanley arrived at the mouth of the Livingstone, with a force of fifteen Europeans, sixty-eight Zanzibaris, and some twenty or more natives of other parts of Africa. The white inhabitants on the African coast were hostile to him, as they naturally feared his operations would interfere with their business.

[Illustration: TRADING STATION ON THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA.]

The native traders, who act as intermediaries between the whites and the people of the interior, were also opposed, as they did not care to have Europeans establish trading stations away from the coast; and the same was the case with the tribes living near the falls of the great river. Stanley managed to avoid trouble with any of these interests, and at once began the work of establishing stations and building roads, to open up the heart of Africa to European traffic.

What he accomplished in three years may be summed up as follows:

He negotiated with the chiefs of the tribes on the river along the whole line of cataracts for the right to establish stations and build roads, paying a rental for the ground he occupied, and dealing liberally with them in every way. He made two hundred miles of road through the wilderness, carrying it sometimes over mountains and through country which presented a great many difficulties. In one place his whole force was occupied twenty-six days in making twelve hundred feet of road around the flank of a mountain of nearly solid quartz. At each end of the road there is a permanent station, consisting of a central house or residence, with numerous huts and storehouses around it, and with fields and gardens for the production of anything that will grow in the country.

[Illustration: CURIOUS HEAD-DRESS.]

There are three intermediate stations between the first and the last, built in the manner just described. The road through its whole length is about fifteen feet wide, and suitable for wagons of any kind, and it has been built with a view to permanency. By his exploit in going around the mountain Stanley received the name of "The Breaker of Rocks," by which he is now known in all that region.

In his account of the work the great explorer says:

"The weight and labor of our transport may be imagined when I say that we had no less than two thousand two hundred and twenty-five loads or packages, each weighing from sixty-five to seventy pounds. We had seven large store tents, and besides this we had enormous wagons, built on purpose for us in Belgium, whereon to transport the two steamers and two large steel boats, with boilers and machinery, which we had brought with us to put together on the Upper Congo. We had to go over the ground no less than thirty-three times, and our rate of progress, calculating the number of days we travelled, was only a quarter of a mile a day. After eleven months of unceasing toil the two steamers were put together at the second station above the Isangila cataract, the place where I left the _Lady Alice_ after her seven thousand mile journey with me in the Anglo-American expedition across the Dark Continent."

[Illustration: THE HEIGHT OF FASHION.]

From this point the river is navigable for a distance of seventy-four miles, and the steamers transported the men and material of the expedition to the foot of the next cataract. Then came more road-building, then another navigable distance, and then more roads, till at last the widening of the river was reached, at the foot of Stanley Pool. From here the great river is navigable nine hundred miles farther inland; and there are several tributary rivers where steamers can go. On one of these tributaries a lake has been discovered about seventy miles long, to which Stanley gave the name of Leopold II., in honor of the King of Belgium.

The association has now seven steamers on the river: four on the lower portion, and three above Stanley Pool. By road and river there is now a direct way of communication between Central Africa and the sea-coast, where the mails are regularly carried to the officers and men in charge of the stations and the merchants engaged in business there. In speaking of his achievements Stanley says as follows:

"I am ambitious only to leave permanent traces of my work on the east side of the Dark Continent. Expedition after expedition has followed my track. On the shores of the Victoria N'yanza and on the shore of the Tanganyika communities of white men are engaged in disseminating what they think beneficial to the dark outcasts of this continent. Why should I not hope that the Congo basin throughout its vast extent, and the bank of the superb river, will be ultimately studded with civilized communities as well? We have begun well. Even now Belgians, Germans, English, Americans, Danes, Swedes, enlisted in our service, are devoting their best energies to accomplish this. So far we have been welcomed by the natives. Our object they can appreciate and understand, and they are the only ones as yet benefited by it. We have spent a large sum, and shall have to spend more yet. For we look upon ourselves as husbandmen, tilling and sowing that others may reap. As yet the Congo basin is a blank, a fruitless waste, a desolate and unproductive area. The energies of its denizens are benumbed. No prospect has dawned on them. It has been our purpose to fill this blank with life, to redeem this waste, to plant and sow that the dark man may gather, to vivify the wide, wild lands so long forgotten of Europe. Accursed be he or they who, animated by causeless jealousy and the spirit of mischief, will compel us to fire our station, destroy our work so auspiciously begun, and abandon Africa to its pristine helplessness and savagery."

In our account of Stanley's work in Africa we have gone outside of the information possessed by Frank and Fred, as the details of his expedition in behalf of the International Association were not known to them at the time they were in Africa. We trust the readers of their narrative will pardon the liberty we have taken, and accept the assurance that what we have given would have been faithfully chronicled by "The Boy Travellers," if they had known it in season.

The above apology being accepted, the author will take the reader into his confidence and show him a personal letter from Stanley, in reply to an invitation to run over to New York and meet several of his old friends, who promised to have dinner ready on the day of his arrival. If any one believes Stanley otherwise than a genial man in his social relations, he can now have an opportunity to change his opinion:

"Brussels, November 4, 1882.

"MY DEAR KNOX,--I have been trying ever so much to cross from Europe to the 'land of the free and the home of the brave,' but there are so many fetters binding me in this fierce, stirring world, that I fear I cannot break them, or even have them loosened long enough for the journey. It was my dream in Africa to seek repose in lounging--loafing is the New York term--for a spell about any town: it really did not matter which. A village would do, so that I could rove about unnoticed, and re-gather by degrees a store of vitality to replace that which the cruel fever of West Africa scorched and almost consumed. I mourn now that my dream cannot be realized. When I leave Paris I go to London, which is like 'from the frying-pan into the fire,' and then farewell all....

"As you know, this is winter, and the East Wind strikes me everywhere; he catches me round street-corners; at the street-door I find him; he waits for me late at night from the warm saloons, with bundles of small fevers, coughs, bronchial irritation, catarrh, chest complaint. He shrivels me up till there is scarcely a resemblance of manhood left in the benumbed wretch.

"Ah! had it been September, or had it been April, oh, blessed Heaven! I should seek the _Alaska_, or the _Werra_, or Bennett's _Namouna_.

"I intend to go presently to Nice, Cannes, Mentone, Andalusia, or where? Anywhere, where I can see man other than in an overcoat.

[Illustration: THE FIRST CATARACT OF THE LIVINGSTONE.]

"Yet it may be. America is dear, you know--New York has joys, and sometimes you do catch men without overcoats. There are good dinners there, too, and the Lotos has been ever since it was born a most welcome place; and you know, don't you know. ---- himself is a host! And when added to him you have the jolly ----, and the courteous ----, and amiable ----, and the rest--why, I will come!

"But no, not yet. I fear the walls of snow in New York--the hilly ridges of frozen water, mud-colored and ancient.

"Some time I will come. And then I will seek you, and revive as well as we may the memories of our days in Paris in 1878--good dinners, without one unpleasant face; good wine, of a good vintage, heightened by the sparkling pleasantries of friendship. Meantime, dear old fellow, until we meet, adieu; and whisper, with my regrets that I cannot come at present, the sweet hopes that my firm soul shall entertain to all our mutual friends, and that I am, now as ever,

"Theirs and yours most faithfully, "HENRY M. STANLEY."

[Illustration: STANLEY'S EXPEDITION DESCENDING THE LIVINGSTONE.]

CHAPTER XXXII.

UNYAMYEMBE.--AMONG THE ARABS.--MARCHING TOWARD THE COAST.

Having finished our journey down the Livingstone to the shores of the Atlantic, in company with Stanley, we will return to our young friends in Unyamwezi.

Three days sufficed to arrange the plans for their future movements. On the morning of the fourth day the servants packed the tents and baggage, and the party was ready to move in the direction of Unyamyembe and Zanzibar. Previous to starting they made a farewell visit to Mirambo, to whom they gave additional presents. The king was not to be outdone in generosity, and ordered his officers to see that they had all the provisions that would be needed for the journey to Unyamyembe.

Just as they were about to make their farewells to Mirambo, Abdul came to the Doctor's side and whispered a few words in his ear.

The quick eye of the king saw that something was wrong, and he asked what was the matter.

Doctor Bronson replied that some twenty or more of the pagazi refused to move unless they were paid in advance, and they demanded double wages for the journey before starting.

Evidently the king was accustomed to this sort of thing, as he beckoned to one of his officers and spoke briefly to him, in a low tone. The officer left the audience-hall immediately, and Mirambo assumed an attitude of waiting for something to turn up.

In a quarter of an hour or so there was a commotion outside, and the officer returned to the royal presence. The whole party followed him into the open air, and found the rebellious porters, their hands bound together with strong cords, and a guard of spearmen standing by to see that none of them escaped.

Mirambo's manner was decisive, and our friends had no reason to complain of the sluggishness of African justice.

He told the pagazi they would be sold as slaves unless they went peacefully with the strangers without any pay in advance. Of course they promised obedience on the instant, and in less than three minutes the whole matter was arranged. Mirambo added that they might consider themselves very fortunate if they received any pay at all after such rebellious conduct.

Abdul marched the men back to camp, accompanied by the guard of Mirambo's men. At the request of the Doctor a guard was detailed to accompany them on the road, to keep the porters from straying. More presents were given to the king for his administration of justice, and it was agreed that the guard should be paid in cloth and beads on their arrival at Unyamyembe. The soldiers were delighted at the prospect of occupation for which they would be paid, as it was not the custom of the king to waste his property by giving them anything for their services. One of them told Mohammed that they only received their food and clothing. As they wore next to nothing, and helped themselves to bananas and other fruits wherever they could find them, there was reason to believe that the army of Mirambo was not an expensive one.

[Illustration: A DESERTER BROUGHT BACK.]

During the day one of the porters deserted with his load. The guard went in search of him, and he was soon brought into camp and led to the Doctor's tent for punishment. Doctor Bronson dismissed him without payment. He did not need the man any longer, owing to the reduction of their supplies by the last batch of presents to Mirambo. The fellow was overjoyed at the mildness of his sentence, as he had expected to lose his head for his disobedience.

[Illustration: A NATIVE GUARD.]

A march of five days took the party to Tabora, a town of the province or district of Unyamyembe, and frequently called by the latter instead of the former name. It is about three hundred and sixty miles from the coast in a direct line, and the distance to Zanzibar is reckoned, in round figures, at five hundred miles. The district was occupied by Arabs from Zanzibar about forty years ago. They came there to trade, and, by arrangement with one of the native rulers, they established villages, planted fields, and became permanent residents. Unyamyembe is a province of Unyamwezi, and has become a meeting-place of the merchants for all the central region of Africa. The Arabs have regular and frequent communication with Zanzibar by means of their caravans, and the lines of commercial travel diverge from Unyamyembe in all directions. In the busy season of the year they may be counted by dozens or scores, while at other times their number will be very small.

Frank and Fred began to think they were returning to civilization when they saw the commodious houses of the Arabs in Tabora, and the apparent comfort in which these merchants lived. They had sent forward a messenger to announce their coming, according to the custom of the country, and when a short distance from the town they met Said bin Amir, one of the resident merchants, who had come out to meet them.

The merchant was clad in the flowing robes which proclaimed him a disciple of Mohammed, and his features were readily distinguishable from those of the negroes. He invited our friends to his house, and said he would accompany them to call on the governor as soon as that dignitary was ready to receive them.

[Illustration: SAID BIN AMIR'S HOUSE.]

The house was a single story in height and covered a considerable area. Frank and Fred were reminded of some of the houses they visited in Egypt, and especially of the one where they were lodged at Khartoum. In fact, it was the finest dwelling they had seen since leaving the capital of the Soudan provinces, with the possible exception of the palace of King M'tesa. It was built round a court-yard, and there was a veranda in front, where they sat in the shade and sipped the delicious coffee which their host ordered as soon as they were seated.

A message came that the governor was ready to see them, and they went at once to his residence, escorted by Said bin Amir and one of his friends, who had dropped in to have a look at the travellers. The governor welcomed them with the same hospitality they had already experienced from his loyal subject, and after a short conversation concerning their plans, and with an offer of assistance in case of need, he escorted them to the house which was to be their residence during their stay.

It was a commodious dwelling, admirably adapted for lodging the entire party, with its retinue of servants and other attendants, and with a large yard, where donkeys could be tied and the porters kept from straying on the eve of departure. Frank and Fred were delighted to learn that they were on historic ground, or rather under an historic roof, as the house where they were quartered was the same which had been occupied by Livingstone, Stanley, and Cameron during their stay in Unyamyembe. The walls were of sun-dried bricks, such as are called _adobe_ in Mexico. The roof was flat, and covered with mud, so that it formed an admirable lounging-place at the close of the day.

As soon as he had installed them in their temporary home the governor said they mast dine with him in the afternoon, and meet the principal merchants of the place. Doctor Bronson hesitated for the moment, as he thought they would be busy during the entire day with paying off the porters and guard, who were to go back from this point, and settling other details of their journey. The governor said there need be no hurry, as the men would be quite willing to wait till the next day for their settlement; and besides, some of them would be likely to stray off during the night, and thus remove the necessity for paying them. This was an Arab way of regarding the matter which greatly amused the Doctor, and was heartily enjoyed by Frank and Fred.

The dinner was an excellent one, and consisted of curried chicken, roast mutton, wheat-cakes, and stewed plantains, together with plenty of milk, butter, and fruits. Of course they had coffee in true Arab style. The Arab merchants were not at table with them, but dropped in at the end of the meal and partook of the coffee and pipes.

The next morning the pagazi and guard were paid off and discharged, and the governor sent word that he expected they would leave town immediately. Before noon they were all out of the way, and the governor came to accompany the three strangers in ceremonious calls upon the principal merchants whom they had met the evening before at his house. The calls occupied the entire afternoon; and as it was necessary to eat and drink at every house they entered, our friends returned from their visit without any appetite for dinner. Frank said he felt much like a turkey that has been "crammed" for fattening, and Fred thought he could forego eating for at least a couple of days. They had done their best to show their appreciation of the kindness of their hosts, but thought it would not be conducive to their health to come often to Unyamyembe.

They returned the compliment of the governor by asking him to dinner on the day after the round of calls. The boys arranged the bill of fare, with the aid of Abdul, and treated his excellency to several rare dishes. Whether he liked the plum-pudding, canned oysters, and other imported luxuries, or only ate them out of politeness, they were unable to discover; at all events, he appeared to do so, and they could ask no more.

[Illustration: GETTING READY FOR THE ROAD.]

The ceremonies of introduction being over, they at once set about their preparations for the journey to the coast. They were aided materially in their work by the governor and the principal merchants. The smaller traders threw various obstacles in their way, by inducing the pagazi to desert after they had been employed and received their retaining fee, and the matter finally became so serious that the Doctor made complaint to the governor, who ordered a stoppage of the interference.

Fortunately for their plans several caravans had recently arrived from the coast, and there was a good supply of porters seeking engagements to return. One of the merchants was about sending a caravan to Zanzibar with a quantity of ivory. He proposed to unite with the Doctor's party in engaging pagazi, and thus prevent the competition that would inevitably arise if they were both in the market at the same time. Doctor Bronson accepted the proposal, and in two or three days the merchant announced that he had all the men needed for both expeditions.

The price of porters varies according to the supply, the demand being sometimes very high, and at others decidedly low. An important feature of the contract was, that the men were to be paid on their arrival at the coast, and not at starting; consequently it would not be necessary to carry the goods needed for their payment, as the merchant was well known to the porters, and they readily accepted his guarantee of responsibility.

[Illustration: HALTING-PLACE UNDER A SYCAMORE.]

The ordinary porters received the equivalent of ten dollars each in cloth at Zanzibar prices, and were to be paid off at Bagamoya, the port from which the traders cross to Zanzibar. The ivory-porters received two dollars extra, in consideration of the peculiar shape of their burdens and the difficulty of handling them. The largest tusks were slung between two men, as they were too heavy for a single porter; and these double porters have a traditional right of refusing to march more than ten miles a day.

In addition to their wages the porters are to be fed on the road, and the master of the caravan must be prepared to purchase the necessary provisions. For this purpose he carries a supply of cloth and beads, and a great deal of bargaining is required in making purchases. Where the country is peaceable a trusty man is sent ahead of the caravan to make arrangements; but if the natives are hostile this cannot be done, as the messenger would be liable to be waylaid and killed. The road between Unyamyembe and Zanzibar is now so well known, and so frequently travelled, that the route is divided into marches, and the natives derive quite an income from supplying the wants of the caravans. The expense of feeding a caravan is set down at about five dollars for each porter, and perhaps twice as much for the _askari_, or Arab soldiers, who are almost invariably taken along as an escort. Goats and bullocks supply the meat for feeding the porters, and the vegetable part of their bill of fare includes sweet-potatoes, manioc, rice, bananas, meal from wheat and corn, and anything else that the region through which they pass happens to offer. Occasionally fish are caught from the rivers, and game is shot in the forest, but they cannot be relied upon as a regular supply.

[Illustration: A HOUSE IN UNYAMYEMBE.]

And now what do you suppose happened to Frank and Fred?

Without having intended doing so beforehand, they became ivory-merchants. It happened in this way:

They found, on making an inventory of their goods, that they had considerably more than was needed for paying the expenses of their journey to the coast. Of course they desired to sell the surplus, and found the Arab merchants ready to buy. Money was not available, and they were obliged to take the currency of the country, which was ivory.

The party became the owner of thirty tusks of ivory, and the property was consigned to the special care of Frank. The young man took especial pride in looking after this valuable series of burdens, and announced his determination to keep it constantly under his eye during the long journey. Abdul damped his ardor a little by telling him that the etiquette of African travel would forbid his doing so, and advising the employment of a trusty man to accompany the porters, and see that the ivory was properly piled at Frank's tent-door at night.

[Illustration: UNYAMWEZI HEADS.]

Frank adopted the suggestion, and immediately engaged Mohammed for the post of Superintendent of Ivory Transport. He promised an extra payment of wages to Mohammed, in case no harm came to any of the tusks on the journey, and told him to make a similar offer to the porters. Every night the tusks were piled at his tent-door and carefully counted, and every morning he saw them safely on the shoulders of their bearers. The result was that not a porter deserted or gave his load to any one else, and when they reached Bagamoya Frank distributed in person the promised rewards.

The united caravan of Doctor Bronson's party and the merchant, Ahmed ibn Suleyman, numbered a little over three hundred porters, besides an escort of twenty askari, armed with muskets. Numbers in an African caravan are both an advantage and the reverse. A large caravan is less liable to attack than a small one; but, on the other hand, it is much more difficult to feed while on the road. Many of the places where water is obtainable consist of small springs, and a large caravan is too much for their capacity.

[Illustration: Mganga, or Medicine-man. The Porter. The Kirangozi, or Guide.

Muinyl Kidogo. Mother and Child.

MEMBERS OF THE CARAVAN.]

Our friends were sixteen days in Unyamyembe, and thoroughly enjoyed their stay. The governor and merchants were unremitting in their attentions, and kept them constantly supplied with milk, honey, butter, and other necessaries of daily life, for which it would have been an affront to offer payment. They consoled themselves with the reflection that they had disbursed a considerable amount of money, or its equivalent, in their preparations for departure, and that most of it would find its way, directly or indirectly, into the pockets of the Arabs.

Farewell calls were made on the sixteenth day, and on the morning of the seventeenth there was great excitement around the house where they had been so comfortably lodged. A long file of porters stood ready for their burdens; servants were busy with the work of packing; Abdul and Mohammed were flying here and there, the latter reminding Fred of the American simile of a dog bitten by a hornet; and Frank was standing guard over his cherished ivory. It was late in the forenoon before the last burden was shouldered, and the donkeys were led up for their riders to mount and be off.

The first day's march is generally a short one, and the present proved no exception to the rule. The camp was made about five miles away, close to a small village in the midst of several rice-fields. A great deal of rice is grown in Unyamyembe, and it is a staple article of food with the people. Twenty loads were bought for the use of the caravan while passing through the Kigwa forest, which adjoins Unyamyembe, and does not produce rice.

Before daylight next morning the camp was roused, a hurried breakfast was eaten, and a little past six the column was in motion. Frank described the caravan in his journal, and it is quite possible that he refreshed his memory by a sly glance at Burton's account of his journey to Central Africa:

[Illustration: GRINDING MEAL FOR SUPPER.]

"The line of march is taken by the kirangozi, or guide, and any man who attempts to precede him is liable to a fine. He carries a small flag, to indicate that the caravan belongs to an Arab merchant, and his dress is a strange combination of odds and ends of things. For the odds, he has a head-dress made of a monkey's skin and a bunch of feathers; and for the ends, he has the tail of a jackal, or some other animal, fastened by means of a belt around his waist, and appearing as though it grew from his own backbone. Two or three small gourds or packets, enclosing magic powders for protection on the road, are also hung at his belt; and he has a strip of broadcloth, which he sometimes suspends from his neck, while at others he rolls it carefully into a bundle, to keep it from the rain.

[Illustration: STOREHOUSE FOR GRAIN.]

"The kirangozi is followed by a favored pagazi, who carries a light load, and beats a small kettle-drum, shaped very much like an hour-glass. Immediately behind him are the ivory porters, with their burdens, wrapped around with leaves and bamboos, partly for protection of the material, but more especially for convenience in handling. Then come the bearers of cloth and beads, and then the other porters, laden with rhinoceros-horns, skins of animals, bags of salt, rice, and other provisions, together with brass wire, boxes, bags, beds, tents, and private stores of the merchant and ourselves. Then come the men of the escort, and then the women and children that invariably accompany the caravan, but are not allowed to march in the same group as the porters. The men in charge of the porters are scattered along the line, and the rear is closed by the masters of the caravan, mounted on their donkeys, and immediately preceded by the donkeys, laden with burdens.

"The drivers of these animals have a good deal of trouble to keep their beasts from straying, and at every halt there is a liberal display of kicking propensities on the part of the four-footed travellers.

"Our column stretches a good half-mile along the road, and, from points where the whole of it is visible, from a little distance it looks like an enormous serpent dragging itself slowly over the ground. After a march of two or three hours there is a halt, and the guide endeavors to find a place near a pool of water or under the shade of trees. He plants his flag in the ground and blows a long blast upon a horn. The signal is understood, and a sort of cheer goes along the entire line. The porters stack their loads, and lie down on the ground for a quarter of an hour or so, and some of them take the opportunity to devour a few mouthfuls of food. In a little while the horn sounds again, and the march is resumed. We usually embrace the opportunity to complete the breakfast for which we had only a slight appetite at the early start.

"The march continues till noon, or a little later, and then we stop to make our camp, and get ready to pass the night as comfortably as we can. Sometimes we have a long halt at mid-day, and march in the afternoon. Our movements depend considerably upon the character of the country where we are travelling, and the distance from one watering-place to another. Where we halt early the men generally build their own huts, when they can find the materials; but if the march is late they pass the night in a village, or in the _krall_, or public lodging-yard. They consider it a hardship to sleep in the open air, and will not do so if they can avoid it.

[Illustration: AN AFRICAN FERRY.]

"We have all the varieties of country you can imagine, and perhaps two or three more. We have level plains and rough hills, dense forests and wide stretches of open ground, thickets of thorn-bushes and patches of the softest grass, rough rocks and smooth sand, rivers of varying size and dry channels, where not a drop of water can be seen, and broad areas which are beautiful plains in the dry season and trackless bogs in the period of heavy rains. Happily for us, the country is so well travelled that its peculiarities are known and the worst places can be avoided. What we should suffer if we were engaged in an exploration, and had no guide to show us the way, I shudder to contemplate.

[Illustration: CROSSING A PLAIN.]

"The roads are mere paths, as though made by oxen or goats, and the engineering in many places is inferior to what we might expect from those animals. In open country there are frequently four or five lines parallel to each other for some distance, while in dense forests or thickets the roads take the form of tunnels under the trees, which are very inconvenient for the mounted traveller. He finds himself constantly 'bobbing' to save his head from the thorns, and very frequently fails to do so. The paths are generally plain enough during the dry season, but in the period of rains they are obliterated by the water, and the intelligence of the guide is the traveller's sole reliance. Among fields and villages the paths are enclosed by hedges, and not unfrequently by tall fences of logs, which are intended to prevent thefts on the part of the passing caravans."

CHAPTER XXXIII.

INCIDENTS OF THE JOURNEY TO THE COAST.--CONCLUSION.

The journey from Unyamyembe to Bagamoya formerly consumed five or six months, but is now usually accomplished in eight or ten weeks. Our friends recorded in their note-books forty-nine marching days and twenty-one days of delay, making exactly ten weeks in all. Delays are inevitable in African travel, and they arise from various causes. Porters fall sick or desert, or are disinclined to go through as fast as possible; provisions are not always obtainable; donkeys stray from camp, and require a considerable expenditure of time for hunting them up; the leaders of the caravan are often detained by fever; rivers and swamps overflow in wet seasons, and there is a scarcity of water at other times; and the petty chiefs along the route interpose many obstacles to one's rapid progress. On the whole, Doctor Bronson considered his party fortunate to be delayed no more than three weeks on this part of their route, and their Arab friend said there was rarely an expedition which went through as quickly as they had done.

The payment of _mhongo_ as tribute for passing through the country is an established custom of this great route of trade, and many are the disputes that arise from it. Of course the caravans want to give the least possible amount, while the chiefs demand exorbitant figures for the privilege. In some districts the tariff is regulated and understood, while in others there is no settled rate, and the two contending parties make the best bargain they can. Frank and Fred were greatly amused at the disputes over the _mhongo_ question until they lost their novelty. One of these disputes lasted a couple of days, and at one time there was a good prospect of a fight for the right of passage. The chief demanded two hundred cloths and fifty strings of beads as his tribute, and he refused permission for the party to proceed until the whole amount was paid. He sent his warriors to cut down trees and blockade the road; and as the country was admirably suited to an ambuscade our friends were decidedly at a disadvantage.

The bargaining went on with a great deal of vehemence, the chief declaring he would not lower his terms a single point, and a little while later offering to take something less. He finally let them go on in consideration of forty cloths and five strings of beads. Just as they were starting he sent several baskets of sweet-potatoes, as an expression of good-will, and received an old hatchet in return. Fred suggested that with this implement he might set up as an African George Washington--not for his inability to tell a lie, but for his zeal in cutting down trees.

[Illustration: A POND BY THE WAYSIDE.]

One night, in the country of Ugogo, there was an alarm in the camp, and word was brought to Doctor Bronson that one of their goats had been seized by a leopard. The natives were afraid to pursue the beast, but they fired guns and made a great noise, which caused the intruder to drop his prey a short distance from where he caught it.

Confident that the brute would return, a trap was set for him in the shape of a spring-gun carefully placed over the dead goat. About an hour before daylight the gun was discharged, but nobody went near the spot till morning.

[Illustration: CAPTURING A LEOPARD.]

The ball from the gun had broken the leopard's fore-leg and passed through his shoulder, so that he had been unable to get far from the spot; but as the natives approached him he sprang up, with a loud roar, and fixed the claws of the sound fore-leg in the shoulder of the nearest man. The latter was so taken by surprise that he did not use his spear, but his companions came to his rescue and despatched the assailant. The wounded negro was adjudged to be the rightful owner of the skin of the leopard. He was consoled for his injury by Frank, who paid a good price for the trophy. The man continued with the expedition, but his wounds were not healed for nearly a month. When he was pronounced well again he came to Frank and expressed his readiness to capture another leopard for the same price!

The boys endorsed fully the account which Cameron gives of the rapacity of the chiefs of Ugogo, and their exorbitant demands for tribute; but, owing to their being in company with the Arab merchant, they escaped more easily than did the English explorer. They made sketches of some of the followers of the chiefs, and their attention was particularly drawn to the habit which these natives have, of piercing their ears.

[Illustration: UGOGO HEADS, WITH DISTENDED EARS.]

"Many of them," wrote Frank in his note-book, "distend the lobes of the ears so that they serve as pockets for carrying snuffboxes, pieces of ivory, and other property; and where they are not used for practical purposes they are decorated with enormous rings of brass wire or other metallic substances. Sometimes the enlargement is so great that the ears reach to the shoulders, and frequently they become torn through accident or long use. If possible, a fresh hole is made in the ear; but if this cannot be done the ornaments are suspended by means of strings passed over the head."

[Illustration: WOMEN OF UBUDJWA.]

As an offset to Frank's observation Abdul described the fashion that prevails among the women of Ubudjwa, a country which was not visited by our friends, as it lies beyond Lake Tanganyika. They pierce the upper lip and insert a piece of stone or wood; after wearing it a few days a larger piece is inserted, and the process is continued till the lip protrudes a couple of inches, and sometimes more. It gives a hideous appearance to the face, renders articulation very indistinct, and is very inconvenient in eating and drinking. Why they do so nobody could tell, except that it is the fashion. They also tattoo their faces, but the disfiguration caused by it is almost imperceptible when compared with the other work of art.

"Fashion is as imperious in Africa as in any other country," Fred remarked, when Abdul had finished his description of the people who pierce their lips. "No matter how inconvenient a custom may be, it must be followed when fashion gives the command. Black man and white man are alike in this respect, and more especially black woman and white woman. In the matter of hair-dressing, if in nothing else, we have a good illustration of what fashion does with its followers. Every country tries to arrange its hair unlike any other, and the most of them succeed. Then, too--"

Fred's lecture was cut short by a commotion among the porters, and the announcement that a snake had crossed their path. The boys went forward to where the frightened negroes were huddled together and refusing to move until certain that the snake was out of the way. In a little while the road was pronounced safe, and the procession moved on. The snake was probably quite as much alarmed as the men, and lost no time in concealing himself. Owing to the superstitions of the porters it was necessary to make a present to his snakeship. Accordingly a quantity of rice was poured on the ground, at the spot where he was last seen, before the march was resumed. As the serpent had no use for this sort of food it is probable that he did not pay it the least attention, or display any gratitude to the givers.

[Illustration: CROSSING A RIVER ON A FISH-WEIR.]

One of their halts was made on the bank of a river famous for the abundance of fish in its waters. A liberal supply was bought for the porters, and during the entire day of the stoppage everybody regaled himself on finny food till he wished no more. The river was too deep to be forded, and the crossing was made partly by boats, and partly by means of an enormous weir, erected for the purpose of trapping fish. The weir extended about two-thirds the way across, and the rest of the bridge consisted of a single long and slender pole, resting on the forked stump of a tree.

The weir was made by setting long poles in the river, and weaving twigs between them in a sort of basket-work. It was rather risky business walking on the top of the weir, or on the pole that formed the rest of the bridge, as a pedestrian might easily lose his balance and topple into the river. The porters had no trouble in maintaining their equilibrium, as they are accustomed all their lives to walk or run in narrow paths, and carry burdens more or less heavy on their heads or shoulders. Only one of them fell into the water, and it fortunately happened that his load was of a nature that was not injured by wetting. The instruments and other valuable things were ferried over, and the donkeys were forced to swim from bank to bank. When it came the turn of Frank and Fred to cross they boldly walked over, each carrying a balancing-pole, after the manner of the circus-performer. Doctor Bronson said the boat was good enough for him, as he was not inclined to emulate the acrobat and run the chance of being soaked in the stream.

Frank suggested that it would be a good thing to have a troupe of trained monkeys to transport burdens across a stream of this sort. The imitative character of the monkey was well known, and perhaps he could be induced to copy the example of the negroes, and accompany the porters, with a burden suited to his size and strength.

Doctor Bronson replied that all efforts to teach habits of industry to the monkey had failed, and he feared the proposal of his nephew would never amount to anything. Apropos of the youth's scheme he told the following anecdote:

"I heard once, in New Orleans," said he, "a story of how a planter endeavored to have his cotton gathered by monkeys.

"He had a large crop of cotton coming to maturity, and there was a scarcity of laborers. While studying what to do he thought of the peculiarities of the monkey and his habits of imitation. Hearing of the arrival of a ship from South America with a large cage full of monkeys, he proceeded to buy the entire lot. There were twenty-five healthy monkeys in the cage, and he immediately shipped them to his plantation.

"He made a nice calculation that, from his superior agility and dexterity, one monkey ought to pick as much cotton as three negroes. With a negro to set the example the monkeys would follow the rows in the field, pick the cotton from the bush, and put it in the bag or basket, just as the negro did. One negro could manage ten monkeys and show them how to pick the cotton, and his twenty-five monkeys would be equal to seventy-five men. Besides, the labor of the negroes would count just the same as usual, since they would have nothing to do but pick the cotton and let the monkeys see how it was done.

"The monkeys arrived a couple of weeks before the picking season began, and for all that time the negroes around the plantation did nothing but play with their new friends. When the work began the planter found he was sadly out in his calculations.

"Instead of one negro managing ten monkeys it took at least ten negroes to manage one monkey, and even under this supervision the beast would not pick a pound of cotton in a day. The whole enterprise failed completely, and the monkeys--such of them as could be caught and re-caged--were sold to a travelling menagerie, at a great discount from first cost."

[Illustration: CAMP ON THE EDGE OF THE MAKATA SWAMP.]

One of the terrors of the road between Unyamyembe and Zanzibar is the Makata Swamp--a plain some forty miles wide, with the Makata River running through it. When dry there is no particular difficulty in crossing it, but in the season of rains it is a disagreeable expanse of mud, in which animals and men suffer greatly.

Our party reached the edge of the swamp, and went into camp there for a couple of days, to give the men a good rest, preparatory to a long march. It rained on the day of their arrival; but the days in camp were pleasant, and the heat of the sun caused the water to disappear from the most of the hollows where it had accumulated.

When they again moved forward the ground was in fairly good condition, though there were many elephant and rhinoceros tracks in the soft earth, some of them two or three feet deep. The donkeys and men occasionally slipped into these holes, and considerable time was lost in unloading the donkeys, to get them out of their troubles. They reached the river about dark, and the guide wanted to camp before crossing; but Doctor Bronson insisted upon getting everything on the other side at once, for fear it might rain during the night and swell the river to an inconvenient degree.

There was a rough bridge over the river, which was practicable for men, but impassable for the donkeys. The little fellows were unloaded and compelled to swim the stream, much against their will, while their burdens were carried over the bridge by the porters. Everything was taken over safely, but it was long after dark before the crossing was accomplished.

The result showed the wisdom of the Doctor's judgment, as it rained during the night, and the river rose so that the low banks on each side were flooded. But the day was fair; the heat again dried up the accumulated water, and the rest of the swamp was easily traversed.

From the Makata Swamp to Bagamoya there were no farther obstacles to their progress. The boys were all eagerness to look once more on the Indian Ocean. Early one afternoon Frank flung his cap in the air and gave a wild hurrah as the broad water came into sight, and his cheer was echoed by his cousin. They shouted and shouted again, till the wondering porters near them had good reason to believe the youths had suddenly lost their senses.

[Illustration: VIEW OF ZANZIBAR FROM THE SEA.]

Finally, they dropped from their donkey-saddles at Bagamoya, and, without waiting for their servants to secure the animals, the two young Americans rushed to the beach, and were soon enjoying the luxury of a bath in the salt water. The long journey through Africa was at an end!

Several days were required for settling the affairs of the expedition, paying the pagazi, balancing accounts with Ahmed ibn Suleyman, their merchant companion; selling the donkeys, whose services were no longer needed; and disposing of their tents and other camp equipage which had served its purpose. What could not be sold was given away, and their faithful servants came in for a liberal share in the distribution. Frank was specially elated, on counting his tusks of ivory, to find that everything was all right, and he more than kept his promise to Mohammed and the porters. Fred grew sentimental over his donkey, and at their last interview the young gentleman was inclined to embrace the long-eared animal, but was restrained by the reflection that he might make a "donkey" of himself by so doing. However, he patted the brute affectionately, and expressed the hope that he would always have good masters and plenty of straw to eat.

[Illustration: FROM BAGAMOYA TO ZANZIBAR.]

A couple of _dhows_, or Arab sailing-boats, were engaged for the voyage to Zanzibar--one by Doctor Bronson for himself and the youths, and the other by Ahmed ibn Suleyman. Early one morning the dhows set sail in company, and a run of eight hours carried them to Zanzibar.

Three days later the mail-steamer for England (by way of Aden and Suez) left the harbor of Zanzibar, with our friends comfortably installed as passengers. In due time they reached home in safety, and received from relatives and friends the affectionate greetings they so well deserved.

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THE LIFE AND SURPRISING ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE, of York, Mariner; with a Biographical Account of DEFOE. Illustrated by Adams. Complete Edition. 12mo, Cloth, $1.00.

THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON; or, Adventures of a Father and Mother and Four Sons on a Desert Island. Illustrated. 2 vols., 18mo, Cloth, $1.50.

THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON--Continued: being a Sequel to the Foregoing. 2 vols., 18mo, Cloth, $1.50.

DOGS AND THEIR DOINGS. By Rev. F. O. MORRIS, B.A. Illustrated. Square 8vo, Cloth, Gilt Sides, $1.75.

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WILD SPORTS OF THE WORLD. A Book of Natural History and Adventure. By J. GREENWOOD. Illustrated. Crown, 8vo, Cloth, $2.50.

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HOMES WITHOUT HANDS: Being a Description of the Habitations of Animals, classed according to their Principle of Construction. By the Rev. J. G. WOOD, M.A., F.L.S. With about 140 Illustrations engraved on Wood by G. Pearson, from Original Designs made by F. W. Keyl and E. A. Smith, under the Author's Superintendence. 8vo, Cloth, $4.50; Sheep, $5.00; Roan, $5.00; Half Calf, $6.75.

THE ILLUSTRATED NATURAL HISTORY. By the Rev. J. G. WOOD, M.A., F.L.S. With 450 Engravings. 12mo, Cloth, $1.05.

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[Illustration: Map of Africa]