glowing embers, which accentuated rather than relieved
We had now frequent rains, and the river rose considerably; our progress up the stream was distressingly slow, and it was not until the 2nd of February, 1860, that we reached Tette. Mr. Thornton returned on the same day from a geological tour, by which some Portuguese expected that a fabulous silver-mine would be rediscovered. The tradition in the country is, that the Jesuits formerly knew and worked a precious lode at Chicova. Mr. Thornton had gone beyond Zumbo, in company with a trader of colour; he soon after this left the Zambesi and, joining the expedition of the Baron van der Decken, explored the snow mountain Kilimanjaro, north-west of Zanzibar. Mr. Thornton's companion, the trader, brought back much ivory, having found it both abundant and cheap. He was obliged, however, to pay heavy fines to the Banyai and other tribes, in the country which is coolly claimed in Europe as Portuguese. During this trip of six mouths 200 pieces of cotton cloth of sixteen yards each, besides beads and brass wire, were paid to the different chiefs, for leave to pass through their country. In addition to these sufficiently weighty exactions, the natives of THIS DOMINION have got into the habit of imposing fines for alleged milandos, or crimes, which the traders' men may have unwittingly committed. The merchants, however, submit rather than run the risk of fighting.
The general monotony of existence at Tette is sometimes relieved by an occasional death or wedding. When the deceased is a person of consequence, the quantity of gunpowder his slaves are allowed to expend is enormous. The expense may, in proportion to their means, resemble that incurred by foolishly gaudy funerals in England. When at Tette, we always joined with sympathizing hearts in aiding, by our presence at the last rites, to soothe the sorrows of the surviving relatives. We are sure that they would have done the same to us had we been the mourners. We never had to complain of want of hospitality. Indeed, the great kindness shown by many of whom we have often spoken, will never be effaced from our memory till our dying day. When we speak of their failings it is in sorrow, not in anger. Their trading in slaves is an enormous mistake. Their Government places them in a false position by cutting them off from the rest of the world; and of this they always speak with a bitterness which, were it heard, might alter the tone of the statesmen of Lisbon. But here there is no press, no booksellers' shops, and scarcely a schoolmaster. Had we been born in similar untoward circumstances--we tremble to think of it!
The weddings are celebrated with as much jollity as weddings are anywhere. We witnessed one in the house of our friend the Padre. It being the marriage of his goddaughter, he kindly invited us to be partakers in his joy; and we there became acquainted with old Donna Engenia, who was a married wife and had children, when the slaves came from Cassange, before any of us were born. The whole merry- making was marked by good taste amid propriety.
About the only interesting object in the vicinity of Tette is the coal a few miles to the north. There, in the feeders of the stream Revubue, it crops out in cliff sections. The seams are from four to seven feet in thickness; one measured was found to be twenty-five feet thick.
Learning that it would be difficult for our party to obtain food beyond Kebrabasa before the new crop came in and knowing the difficulty of hunting for so many men in the wet season, we decided on deferring our departure for the interior until May, and in the mean time to run down once more to the Kongone, in the hopes of receiving letters and despatches from the man-of-war that was to call in March. We left Tette on the 10th, and at Senna heard that our lost mail had been picked up on the beach by natives, west of the Milambe; carried to Quillimane, sent thence to Senna, and, passing us somewhere on the river, on to Tette. At Shupanga the governor informed us that it was a very large mail; no great comfort, seeing it was away up the river.
Mosquitoes were excessively troublesome at the harbour, and especially when a light breeze blew from the north over the mangroves. We lived for several weeks in small huts, built by our men. Those who did the hunting for the party always got wet, and were attacked by fever, but generally recovered in time to be out again before the meat was all consumed. No ship appearing, we started off on the 15th of March, and stopped to wood on the Luabo, near an encampment of hippopotamus hunters; our men heard again, through them, of the canoe path from this place to Quillimane, but they declined to point it out.
We found our friend Major Sicard at Mazaro with picks, shovels, hurdles, and slaves, having come to build a fort and custom-house at the Kongone. As we had no good reason to hide the harbour, but many for its being made known, we supplied him with a chart of the tortuous branches, which, running among the mangroves, perplex the search; and with such directions as would enable him to find his way down to the river. He had brought the relics of our fugitive mail, and it was a disappointment to find that all had been lost, with the exception of a bundle of old newspapers, two photographs, and three letters, which had been written before we left England.
The distance from Mazaro, on the Zambesi side, to the Kwakwa at Nterra, is about six miles, over a surprisingly rich dark soil. We passed the night in the long shed, erected at Nterra, on the banks of this river, for the use of travellers, who have often to wait several days for canoes; we tried to sleep, but the mosquitoes and rats were so troublesome as to render sleep impossible. The rats, or rather large mice, closely resembling Mus pumilio (Smith), of this region, are quite facetious, and, having a great deal of fun in them, often laugh heartily. Again and again they woke us up by scampering over our faces, and then bursting into a loud laugh of He! he! he! at having performed the feat. Their sense of the ludicrous appears to be exquisite; they screamed with laughter at the attempts which disturbed and angry human nature made in the dark to bring their ill- timed merriment to a close. Unlike their prudent European cousins, which are said to leave a sinking ship, a party of these took up their quarters in our leaky and sinking vessel. Quiet and invisible by day, they emerged at night, and cut their funny pranks. No sooner were we all asleep, than they made a sudden dash over the lockers and across our faces for the cabin door, where all broke out into a loud He! he! he! he! he! he! showing how keenly they enjoyed the joke. They next went forward with as much delight, and scampered over the men. Every night they went fore and aft, rousing with impartial feet every sleeper, and laughing to scorn the aimless blows, growls, and deadly rushes of outraged humanity. We observed elsewhere a species of large mouse, nearly allied to Euryotis unisulcatus (F. Cuvier), escaping up a rough and not very upright wall, with six young ones firmly attached to the perineum. They were old enough to be well covered with hair, and some were not detached by a blow which disabled the dam. We could not decide whether any involuntary muscles were brought into play in helping the young to adhere. Their weight seemed to require a sort of cataleptic state of the muscles of the jaw, to enable them to hold on.
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