As we were taking our breakfast on the morning of the 2nd, the Mambo Kazai, of whom we knew nothing, and his men came with their muskets and large powder-horns to levy a fine, and obtain payment for the wood we used in cooking. But on our replying to his demand that we were English, "Oh! are you?" he said; "I thought you were Bazungu (Portuguese). They are the people I take payments from:" and he apologized for his mistake. Bazungu, or Azungu, is a term applied to all foreigners of a light colour, and to Arabs; even to trading slaves if clothed; it probably means foreigners, or visitors,--from zunga, to visit or wander,--and the Portuguese were the only foreigners these men had ever seen. As we had no desire to pass for people of that nation--quite the contrary--we usually made a broad line of demarcation by saying that we were English, and the English neither bought, sold, nor held black people as slaves, but wished to put a stop to the slave-trade altogether.
We called upon our friend, Mpende, in passing. He provided a hut for us, with new mats spread on the floor. Having told him that we were hurrying on because the rains were near, "Are they near?" eagerly inquired an old counsellor, "and are we to have plenty of rain this year?" We could only say that it was about the usual time for the rains to commence; and that there were the usual indications in great abundance of clouds floating westwards, but that we knew nothing more than they did themselves.
The hippopotami are more wary here than higher up, as the natives hunt them with guns. Having shot one on a shallow sandbank, our men undertook to bring it over to the left bank, in order to cut it up with greater ease. It was a fine fat one, and all rejoiced in the hope of eating the fat for butter, with our hard dry cakes of native meal. Our cook was sent over to cut a choice piece for dinner, but returned with the astonishing intelligence that the carcass was gone. They had been hoodwinked, and were very much ashamed of themselves. A number of Banyai came to assist in rolling it ashore, and asserted that it was all shallow water. They rolled it over and over towards the land, and, finding the rope we had made fast to it, as they said, an encumbrance, it was unloosed. All were shouting and talking as loud as they could bawl, when suddenly our expected feast plumped into a deep hole, as the Banyai intended it should do. When sinking, all the Makololo jumped in after it. One caught frantically at the tail; another grasped a foot; a third seized the hip; "but, by Sebituane, it would go down in spite of all that we could do." Instead of a fat hippopotamus we had only a lean fowl for dinner, and were glad enough to get even that. The hippopotamus, however, floated during the night, and was found about a mile below. The Banyai then assembled on the bank, and disputed our right to the beast: "It might have been shot by somebody else." Our men took a little of it and then left it, rather than come into collision with them.
A fine waterbuck was shot in the Kakolole narrows, at Mount Manyerere; it dropped beside the creek where it was feeding; an enormous crocodile, that had been watching it at the moment, seized and dragged it into the water, which was not very deep. The mortally wounded animal made a desperate plunge, and hauling the crocodile several yards tore itself out of the hideous jaws. To escape the hunter, the waterbuck jumped into the river, and was swimming across, when another crocodile gave chase, but a ball soon sent it to the bottom. The waterbuck swam a little longer, the fine head dropped, the body turned over, and one of the canoes dragged it ashore. Below Kakolole, and still at the base of Manyerere mountain, several coal- seams, not noticed on our ascent, were now seen to crop out on the right bank of the Zambesi.
Chitora, of Chicova, treated us with his former hospitality. Our men were all much pleased with his kindness, and certainly did not look upon it as a proof of weakness. They meant to return his friendliness when they came this way on a marauding expedition to eat the sheep of the Banyai, for insulting them in the affair of the hippopotamus; they would then send word to Chitora not to run away, for they, being his friends, would do such a good-hearted man no harm.
We entered Kebrabasa rapids, at the east end of Chicova, in the canoes, and went down a number of miles, until the river narrowed into a groove of fifty or sixty yards wide, of which we have already spoken in describing the flood-bed and channel of low water. The navigation then became difficult and dangerous. A fifteen feet fall of the water in our absence had developed many cataracts. Two of our canoes passed safely down a narrow channel, which, bifurcating, had an ugly whirlpool at the rocky partition between the two branches, the deep hole in the whirls at times opening and then shutting. The Doctor's canoe came next, and seemed to be drifting broadside into the open vortex, in spite of the utmost exertions of the paddlers. The rest were expecting to have to pull to the rescue; the men saying, "Look where these people are going!--look, look!"--when a loud crash burst on our ears. Dr. Kirk's canoe was dashed on a projection of the perpendicular rocks, by a sudden and mysterious boiling up of the river, which occurs at irregular intervals. Dr. Kirk was seen resisting the sucking-down action of the water, which must have been fifteen fathoms deep, and raising himself by his arms on to the ledge, while his steersman, holding on to the same rocks, saved the canoe; but nearly all its contents were swept away down the stream. Dr. Livingstone's canoe, meanwhile, which had distracted the men's attention, was saved by the cavity in the whirlpool filling up as the frightful eddy was reached. A few of the things in Dr. Kirk's canoe were left; but all that was valuable, including a chronometer, a barometer, and, to our great sorrow, his notes of the journey and botanical drawings of the fruit-trees of the interior, perished.
We now left the river, and proceeded on foot, sorry that we had not done so the day before. The men were thoroughly frightened, they had never seen such perilous navigation. They would carry all the loads, rather than risk Kebrabasa any longer; but the fatigue of a day's march over the hot rocks and burning sand changed their tune before night; and then they regretted having left the canoes; they thought they should have dragged them past the dangerous places, and then launched them again. One of the two donkeys died from exhaustion near the Luia. Though the men eat zebras and quaggas, blood relations of the donkey, they were shocked at the idea of eating the ass; "it would be like eating man himself, because the donkey lives with man, and is his bosom companion." We met two large trading parties of Tette slaves on their way to Zumbo, leading, to be sold for ivory, a number of Manganja women, with ropes round their necks, and all made fast to one long rope.
Panzo, the headman of the village east of Kebrabasa, received us with great kindness. After the usual salutation he went up the hill, and, in a loud voice, called across the valley to the women of several hamlets to cook supper for us. About eight in the evening he returned, followed by a procession of women, bringing the food. There were eight dishes of nsima, or porridge, six of different sorts of very good wild vegetables, with dishes of beans and fowls; all deliciously well cooked, and scrupulously clean. The wooden dishes were nearly as white as the meal itself: food also was brought for our men. Ripe mangoes, which usually indicate the vicinity of the Portuguese, were found on the 21st November; and we reached Tette early on the 23rd, having been absent a little over six months.