The chief was among the first to return to the village,
They hailed us from the bank in the evening with "Why don't you come and sleep onshore like other people?"
The answer they received from our Makololo, who now felt as independent as the Banyai, was, "We are held to the bottom with iron; you may see we are not like your Bazungu."
This hint, a little amplified, saved us from the usual exactions. It is pleasant to give a present, but that pleasure the Banyai usually deny to strangers by making it a fine, and demanding it in such a supercilious way, that only a sorely cowed trader could bear it. They often refuse to touch what is offered--throw it down and leave it--sneer at the trader's slaves, and refuse a passage until the tribute is raised to the utmost extent of his means.
Leaving the steamer next morning, we proceeded on foot, accompanied by a native Portuguese and his men and a dozen Makololo, who carried our baggage. The morning was pleasant, the hills on our right furnished for a time a delightful shade; but before long the path grew frightfully rough, and the hills no longer shielded us from the blazing sun. Scarcely a vestige of a track was now visible; and, indeed, had not our guide assured us to the contrary, we should have been innocent of even the suspicion of a way along the patches of soft yielding sand, and on the great rocks over which we so painfully clambered. These rocks have a singular appearance, from being dislocated and twisted in every direction, and covered with a thin black glaze, as if highly polished and coated with lamp-black varnish. This seems to have been deposited while the river was in flood, for it covers only those rocks which lie between the highest water-mark and a line about four feet above the lowest. Travellers who have visited the rapids of the Orinoco and the Congo say that the rocks there have a similar appearance, and it is attributed to some deposit from the water, formed only when the current is strong. This may account for it in part here, as it prevails only where the narrow river is confined between masses of rock, backed by high hills, and where the current in floods is known to be the strongest; and it does not exist where the rocks are only on one side, with a sandy beach opposite, and a broad expanse of river between. The hot rocks burnt the thick soles of our men's feet, and sorely fatigued ourselves. Our first day's march did not exceed four miles in a straight line, and that we found more than enough to be pleasant.
The state of insecurity in which the Badema tribe live is indicated by the habit of hiding their provisions in the hills, and keeping only a small quantity in their huts; they strip a particular species of tree of its bitter bark, to which both mice and monkeys are known to have an antipathy, and, turning the bark inside out, sew it into
cylindrical vessels for their grain, and bury them in holes and in crags on the wooded hill-sides. By this means, should a marauding party plunder their huts, they save a supply of corn. They "could give us no information, and they had no food; Chisaka's men had robbed them a few weeks before."
"Never mind," said our native Portuguese, "they will sell you plenty when you return, they are afraid of you now, as yet they do not know who you are." We slept under trees in the open air, and suffered no inconvenience from either mosquitoes or dew: and no prowling wild beast troubled us; though one evening, while we were here, a native sitting with some others on the opposite bank was killed by a leopard.
One of the Tette slaves, who wished to be considered a great traveller, gave us, as we sat by our evening fire, an interesting account of a strange race of men whom he had seen in the interior; they were only three feet high, and had horns growing out of their heads; they lived in a large town and had plenty of food. The Makololo pooh-poohed this story, and roundly told the narrator that he was telling a downright lie. "WE come from the interior," cried out a tall fellow, measuring some six feet four, "are WE dwarfs? have WE horns on our heads?" and thus they laughed the fellow to scorn. But he still stoutly maintained that he had seen these little people, and had actually been in their town; thus making himself the hero of the traditional story, which before and since the time of Herodotus has, with curious persistency, clung to the native mind. The mere fact that such absurd notions are permanent, even in the entire absence of literature, invests the religious ideas of these people also with importance, as fragments of the wreck of the primitive faith floating down the stream of time.
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