travels, should retire early to the comforts of the anything
Chibisa and his wife, with a natural show of parental feeling, had told the Doctor, on his previous visit, that a few years before some of Chisaka's men had kidnapped and sold their little daughter, and that she was now a slave to the padre at Tette. On his return to Tette, the Doctor tried hard to ransom and restore the girl to her parents, and offered twice the value of a slave; the padre seemed willing, but she could not be found. This padre was better than the average men of the country; and, being always civil and obliging, would probably have restored her gratuitously, but she had been sold, it might be to the distant tribe Bazizulu, or he could not tell where. Custom had rendered his feelings callous, and Chibisa had to be told that his child would never return. It is this callous state of mind which leads some of our own blood to quote Scripture in support of slavery. If we could afford to take a backward step in civilization, we might find men among ourselves who would in like manner prove Mormonism or any other enormity to be divine.
We left the ship on the 28th of August, 1859, for the discovery of Lake Nyassa. Our party numbered forty-two in all--four whites, thirty-six Makololo, and two guides. We did not actually need so many, either for carriage or defence; but took them because we believed that, human nature being everywhere the same, blacks are as ready as whites to take advantage of the weak, and are as civil and respectful to the powerful. We armed our men with muskets, which gave us influence, although it did not add much to our strength, as most of the men had never drawn a trigger, and in any conflict would in all probability have been more dangerous to us than the enemy.
Our path crossed the valley, in a north-easterly direction, up the course of a beautiful flowing stream. Many of the gardens had excellent cotton growing in them. An hour's march brought us to the foot of the Manganja hills, up which lay the toilsome road. The vegetation soon changed; as we rose bamboos appeared, and new trees and plants were met with, which gave such incessant employment to Dr. Kirk, that he travelled the distance three times over. Remarkably fine trees, one of which has oil-yielding seeds, and belongs to the mahogany family, grow well in the hollows along the rivulet courses. The ascent became very fatiguing, and we were glad of a rest. Looking back from an elevation of a thousand feet, we beheld a lovely prospect. The eye takes in at a glance the valley beneath, and the many windings of its silver stream Makubula, or Kubvula, from the shady hill-side, where it emerges in foaming haste, to where it slowly glides into the tranquil Shire; then the Shire itself is seen for many a mile above and below Chibisa's, and the great level country beyond, with its numerous green woods; until the prospect, west and north-west, is bounded far away by masses of peaked and dome-shaped blue mountains, that fringe the highlands of the Maravi country.
After a weary march we halted at Makolongwi, the village of Chitimba. It stands in a woody hollow on the first of the three terraces of the Manganja hills, and, like all other Manganja villages, is surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of poisonous euphorbia. This tree casts a deep shade, which would render it difficult for bowmen to take aim at the villagers inside. The grass does not grow beneath it, and this may be the reason why it is so universally used, for when dry the grass would readily convey fire to the huts inside; moreover, the hedge acts as a fender to all flying sparks. As strangers are wont to do, we sat down under some fine trees near the entrance of the village. A couple of mats, made of split reeds, were spread for the white men to sit on; and the headman brought a seguati, or present, of a small goat and a basket of meal. The full value in beads and cotton cloth was handed to him in return. He measured the cloth, doubled it, and then measured that again. The beads were scrutinized; he had never seen beads of that colour before, and should like to consult with his comrades before accepting them, and this, after repeated examinations and much anxious talk, he concluded to do. Meal and peas were then brought for sale. A fathom of blue cotton cloth, a full dress for man or woman, was produced. Our Makololo headman, Sininyane, thinking a part of it was enough for the meal, was proceeding to tear it, when Chitimba remarked that it was a pity to cut such a nice dress for his wife, he would rather bring more meal. "All right," said Sininyane; "but look, the cloth is very wide, so see that the basket which carries the meal be wide too, and add a cock to make the meal taste nicely." A brisk trade sprang up at once, each being eager to obtain as fine things as his neighbour,- -and all were in good humour. Women and girls began to pound and grind meal, and men and boys chased the screaming fowls over the village, until they ran them down. In a few hours the market was completely glutted with every sort of native food; the prices, however, rarely fell, as they could easily eat what was not sold.
We slept under the trees, the air being pheasant, and no mosquitoes on the hills. According to our usual plan of marching, by early dawn our camp was in motion. After a cup of coffee and a bit of biscuit we were on the way. The air was deliciously cool, and the path a little easier than that of yesterday. We passed a number of villages, occupying very picturesque spots among the hills, and in a few hours gained the upper terrace, 3000 feet above the level of the sea. The plateau lies west of the Milanje mountains, and its north- eastern border slopes down to Lake Shirwa. We were all charmed with the splendid country, and looked with never-failing delight on its fertile plains, its numerous hills, and majestic mountains. In some of the passes we saw bramble-berries growing; and the many other flowers, though of great beauty, did not remind us of youth and of home like the ungainly thorny bramble-bushes. We were a week in crossing the high-lands in a northerly direction; then we descended into the Upper Shire Valley, which is nearly 1200 feet above the level of the sea. This valley is wonderfully fertile, and supports a large population. After leaving the somewhat flat-topped southern portion, the most prominent mountain of the Zomba range is Njongone, which has a fine stream running past its northern base. We were detained at the end of the chain some days by one of our companions being laid up with fever. One night we were suddenly aroused by buffaloes rushing close by the sick-bed. We were encamped by a wood on the border of a marsh, but our patient soon recovered, notwithstanding the unfavourable situation, and the poor accommodation.
The Manganja country is delightfully well watered. The clear, cool, gushing streams are very numerous. Once we passed seven fine brooks and a spring in a single hour, and this, too, near the close of the dry season. Mount Zomba, which is twenty miles long, and from 7000 to 8000 feet high, has a beautiful stream flowing through a verdant valley on its summit, and running away down into Lake Shirwa. The highlands are well wooded, and many trees, admirable for their height and timber, grow on the various watercourses. "Is this country good for cattle?" we inquired of a Makololo herdsman, whose occupation had given him skill in pasturage. "Truly," he replied, "do you not see abundance of those grasses which the cattle love, and get fat upon?" Yet the people have but few goats, and fewer sheep. With the exception of an occasional leopard, there are no beasts of prey to disturb domestic animals. Wool-sheep would, without doubt, thrive on these highlands. Part of the Upper Shire valley has a lady paramount, named Nyango; and in her dominions women rank higher and receive more respectful treatment than their sisters on the hills.
The hill chief, Mongazi, called his wife to take charge of a present we had given him. She dropped down on her knees, clapping her hands in reverence, before and after receiving our presents from his lordly hands. It was painful to see the abject manner in which the women of the hill tribes knelt beside the path as we passed; but a great difference took place when we got into Nyango's country.
On entering a village, we proceeded, as all strangers do, at once to the Boalo: mats of split reeds or bamboo were usually spread for us to sit on. Our guides then told the men who might be there, who we were, whence we had come, whither we wanted to go, and what were our objects. This information was duly carried to the chief, who, if a sensible man, came at once; but, if he happened to be timid and suspicious, waited until he had used divination, and his warriors had time to come in from outlying hamlets. When he makes his appearance, all the people begin to clap their hands in unison, and continue doing so till he sits down opposite to us. His counsellors take their places beside him. He makes a remark or two, and is then silent for a few seconds. Our guides then sit down in front of the chief and his counsellors, and both parties lean forward, looking earnestly at each other; the chief repeats a word, such as "Ambuiatu" (our Father, or master)--or "moio" (life), and all clap their hands. Another word is followed by two claps, a third by still more clapping, when each touches the ground with both hands placed together. Then all rise and lean forward with measured clap, and sit down again with clap, clap, clap, fainter, and still fainter, till the last dies away, or is brought to an end by a smart loud clap from the chief. They keep perfect time in this species of court etiquette. Our guides now tell the chief, often in blank verse, all they have already told his people, with the addition perhaps of their own suspicions of the visitors. He asks some questions, and then converses with us through the guides. Direct communication between the chief and the head of the stranger party is not customary. In approaching they often ask who is the spokesman, and the spokesman of the chief addresses the person indicated exclusively. There is no lack of punctilious good manners. The accustomed presents are exchanged with civil ceremoniousness; until our men, wearied and hungry, call out, "English do not buy slaves, they buy food," and then the people bring meal, maize, fowls, batatas, yams, beans, beer, for sale.
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