Our men in hunting came on an immense herd of buffaloes, quietly resting in the long dry grass, and began to blaze away furiously at the astonished animals. In the wild excitement of the hunt, which heretofore had been conducted with spears, some forgot to load with ball, and, firing away vigorously with powder only, wondered for the moment that the buffaloes did not fall. The slayer of the young elephant, having buried his four bullets in as many buffaloes, fired three charges of No. 1 shot he had for killing guinea-fowl. The quaint remarks and merriment after these little adventures seemed to the listener like the pleasant prattle of children. Mbia and Mantlanyane, however, killed one buffalo each; both the beasts were in prime condition; the meat was like really excellent beef, with a smack of venison. A troop of hungry, howling hyenas also thought the savour tempting, as they hung round the camp at night, anxious to partake of the feast. They are, fortunately, arrant cowards, and never attack either men or beasts except they can catch them asleep, sick, or at some other disadvantage. With a bright fire at our feet their presence excites no uneasiness. A piece of meat hung on a tree, high enough to make him jump to reach it, and a short spear, with its handle firmly planted in the ground beneath, are used as a device to induce the hyena to commit suicide by impalement.
The honey-guide is an extraordinary bird; how is it that every member of its family has learned that all men, white or black, are fond of honey? The instant the little fellow gets a glimpse of a man, he hastens to greet him with the hearty invitation to come, as Mbia translated it, to a bees' hive, and take some honey. He flies on in the proper direction, perches on a tree, and looks back to see if you are following; then on to another and another, until he guides you to the spot. If you do not accept his first invitation he follows you with pressing importunities, quite as anxious to lure the stranger to the bees' hive as other birds are to draw him away from their own nest. Except while on the march, our men were sure to accept the invitation, and manifested the same by a peculiar responsive whistle, meaning, as they said, "All right, go ahead; we are coming." The bird never deceived them, but always guided them to a hive of bees, though some had but little honey in store. Has this peculiar habit of the honey-guide its origin, as the attachment of dogs, in friendship for man, or in love for the sweet pickings of the plunder left on the ground? Self-interest aiding in preservation from danger seems to be the rule in most cases, as, for instance, in the bird that guards the buffalo and rhinoceros. The grass is often so tall and dense that one could go close up to these animals quite unperceived; but the guardian bird, sitting on the beast, sees the approach of danger, flaps its wings and screams, which causes its bulky charge to rush off from a foe he has neither seen nor heard; for his reward the vigilant little watcher has the pick of the parasites on his fat friend. In other cases a chance of escape must be given even by the animal itself to its prey; as in the rattle- snake, which, when excited to strike, cannot avoid using his rattle, any more than the cat can resist curling its tail when excited in the chase of a mouse, or the cobra can refrain from inflating the loose skin of the neck and extending it laterally, before striking its poison fangs into its victim. There are many snakes in parts of this pass; they basked in the warm sunshine, but rustled off through the leaves as we approached. We observed one morning a small one of a deadly poisonous species, named Kakone, on a bush by the wayside, quietly resting in a horizontal position, digesting a lizard for breakfast. Though openly in view, its colours and curves so closely resembled a small branch that some failed to see it, even after being asked if they perceived anything on the bush. Here also one of our number had a glance at another species, rarely seen, and whose swift lightning-like motion has given rise to the native proverb, that when a man sees this snake he will forthwith become a rich man.
We slept near the ruined village of the murdered chief, Mpangwe, a lovely spot, with the Zambesi in front, and extensive gardens behind, backed by a semicircle of hills receding up to lofty mountains. Our path kept these mountains on our right, and crossed several streamlets, which seemed to be perennial, and among others the Selole, which apparently flows past the prominent peak Chiarapela. These rivulets have often human dwellings on their banks; but the land can scarcely be said to be occupied. The number of all sorts of game increases wonderfully every day. As a specimen of what may be met with where there are no human habitations, and where no firearms have been introduced, we may mention what at times has actually been seen by us. On the morning of July 3rd a herd of elephants passed within fifty yards of our sleeping-place, going down to the river along the dry bed of a rivulet. Starting a few minutes before the main body, we come upon large flocks of guinea-fowl, shoot what may be wanted for dinner, or next morning's breakfast, and leave them in the path to be picked up by the cook and his mates behind. As we proceed, francolins of three varieties run across the path, and hundreds of turtle-doves rise, with great blatter of wing, and fly off to the trees. Guinea-fowls, francolins, turtle-doves, ducks, and geese are the game birds of this region. At sunrise a herd of pallahs, standing like a flock of sheep, allow the first man of our long Indian file to approach within about fifty yards; but having meat, we let them trot off leisurely and unmolested. Soon afterwards we come upon a herd of waterbucks, which here are very much darker in colour, and drier in flesh, than the same species near the sea. They look at us and we at them; and we pass on to see a herd of doe koodoos, with a magnificently horned buck or two, hurrying off to the dry hill-sides. We have ceased shooting antelopes, as our men have been so often gorged with meat that they have become fat and dainty. They say that they do not want more venison, it is so dry and tasteless, and ask why we do not give them shot to shoot the more savoury guinea-fowl.
About eight o'clock the tsetse commence to buzz about us, and bite our hands and necks sharply. Just as we are thinking of breakfast, we meet some buffaloes grazing by the path; but they make off in a heavy gallop at the sight of man. We fire, and the foremost, badly wounded, separates from the herd, and is seen to stop amongst the trees; but, as it is a matter of great danger to follow a wounded buffalo, we hold on our way. It is this losing of wounded animals which makes firearms so annihilating to these beasts of the field, and will in time sweep them all away. The small Enfield bullet is worse than the old round one for this. It often goes through an animal without killing him, and he afterwards perishes, when he is of no value to man. After breakfast we draw near a pond of water; a couple of elephants stand on its bank, and, at a respectful distance behind these monarchs of the wilderness, is seen a herd of zebras, and another of waterbucks. On getting our wind the royal beasts make off at once; but the zebras remain till the foremost man is within eighty yards of them, when old and young canter gracefully away. The zebra has a great deal of curiosity; and this is often fatal to him, for he has the habit of stopping to look at the hunter. In this particular he is the exact opposite of the diver antelope, which rushes off like the wind, and never for a moment stops to look behind, after having once seen or smelt danger. The finest zebra of the herd is sometimes shot, our men having taken a sudden fancy to the flesh, which all declare to be the "king of good meat." On the plains of short grass between us and the river many antelopes of different species are calmly grazing, or reposing. Wild pigs are common, and walk abroad during the day; but are so shy as seldom to allow a close approach. On taking alarm they erect their slender tails in the air, and trot off swiftly in a straight line, keeping their bodies as steady as a locomotive on a railroad. A mile beyond the pool three cow buffaloes with their calves come from the woods, and move out into the plain. A troop of monkeys, on the edge of the forest, scamper back to its depths on hearing the loud song of Singeleka, and old surly fellows, catching sight of the human party, insult it with a loud and angry bark. Early in the afternoon we may see buffaloes again, or other animals. We camp on the dry higher ground, after, as has happened, driving off a solitary elephant. The nights are warmer now, and possess nearly as much of interest and novelty as the days. A new world awakes and comes forth, more numerous, if we may judge by the noise it makes, than that which is abroad by sunlight. Lions and hyenas roar around us, and sometimes come disagreeably near, though they have never ventured into our midst. Strange birds sing their agreeable songs, while others scream and call harshly as if in fear or anger. Marvellous insect-sounds fall upon the ear; one, said by natives to proceed from a large beetle, resembles a succession of measured musical blows upon an anvil, while many others are perfectly indescribable. A little lemur was once seen to leap about from branch to branch with the agility of a frog; it chirruped like a bird, and is not larger than a robin red- breast. Reptiles, though numerous, seldom troubled us; only two men suffered from stings, and that very slightly, during the entire journey, the one supposed that he was bitten by a snake, and the other was stung by a scorpion.
Grass-burning has begun, and is producing the blue hazy atmosphere of the American Indian summer, which in Western Africa is called the "smokes." Miles of fire burn on the mountain-sides in the evenings, but go out during the night. From their height they resemble a broad zigzag line of fire in the heavens.
We slept on the night of the 6th of July on the left bank of the Chongwe, which comes through a gap in the hills on our right, and is twenty yards wide. A small tribe of the Bazizulu, from the south, under Dadanga, have recently settled here and built a village. Some of their houses are square, and they seem to be on friendly terms with the Bakoa, who own the country. They, like the other natives, cultivate cotton, but of a different species from any we have yet seen in Africa, the staple being very long, and the boll larger than what is usually met with; the seeds cohere as in the Pernambuco kind. They brought the seed with them from their own country, the distant mountains of which in the south, still inhabited by their fellow- countrymen, who possess much cattle and use shields, can be seen from this high ground. These people profess to be children of the great paramount chief, Kwanyakarombe, who is said to be lord of all the Bazizulu. The name of this tribe is known to geographers, who derive their information from the Portuguese, as the Morusurus, and the hills mentioned above are said to have been the country of Changamira, the warrior-chief of history, whom no Portuguese ever dared to approach. The Bazizulu seem, by report, to be brave mountaineers; nearer the river, the Sidima inhabit the plains; just as on the north side, the Babimpe live on the heights, about two days off, and the Makoa on or near the river. The chief of the Bazizulu we were now with was hospitable and friendly. A herd of buffaloes came trampling through the gardens and roused up our men; a feat that roaring lions seldom achieved.
Our course next day passed over the upper terrace and through a dense thorn jungle. Travelling is always difficult where there is no path, but it is even more perplexing where the forest is cut up by many game-tracks. Here we got separated from one another, and a rhinoceros with angry snort dashed at Dr. Livingstone as he stooped to pick up a specimen of the wild fruit morula; but she strangely stopped stock-still when less than her own length distant, and gave him time to escape; a branch pulled out his watch as he ran, and turning half round to grasp it, he got a distant glance of her and her calf still standing on the selfsame spot, as if arrested in the middle of her charge by an unseen hand. When about fifty yards off, thinking his companions close behind, he shouted "Look out there!" when off she rushed, snorting loudly, in another direction. The Doctor usually went unarmed before this, but never afterwards.
A fine eland was shot by Dr. Kirk this afternoon, the first we have killed. It was in first-rate condition, and remarkably fat; but the meat, though so tempting in appearance, severely deranged all who partook of it heartily, especially those who ate of the fat. Natives who live in game countries, and are acquainted with the different kinds of wild animals, have a prejudice against the fat of the eland, the pallah, the zebra, hippopotamus, and pig; they never reject it, however, the climate making the desire for all animal food very strong; but they consider that it causes ulcers and leprosy, while the fat of sheep and of oxen never produces any bad effects, unless the animal is diseased.