On the 26th June we breakfasted at Zumbo, on the left bank of the Loangwa, near the ruins of some ancient Portuguese houses. The Loangwa was too deep to be forded, and there were no canoes on our side. Seeing two small ones on the opposite shore, near a few recently erected huts of two half-castes from Tette, we halted for the ferry-men to come over. From their movements it was evident that they were in a state of rollicking drunkenness. Having a waterproof cloak, which could be inflated into a tiny boat, we sent Mantlanyane across in it. Three half-intoxicated slaves then brought us the shaky canoes, which we lashed together and manned with our own canoe- men. Five men were all that we could carry over at a time; and after four trips had been made the slaves began to clamour for drink; not receiving any, as we had none to give, they grew more insolent, and declared that not another man should cross that day. Sininyane was remonstrating with them, when a loaded musket was presented at him by one of the trio. In an instant the gun was out of the rascal's hands, a rattling shower of blows fell on his back, and he took an involuntary header into the river. He crawled up the bank a sad and sober man, and all three at once tumbled from the height of saucy swagger to a low depth of slavish abjectness. The musket was found to have an enormous charge, and might have blown our man to pieces, but for the promptitude with which his companions administered justice in a lawless land. We were all ferried safely across by 8 o'clock in the evening.
In illustration of what takes place where no government, or law exists, the two half-castes, to whom these men belonged, left Tette, with four hundred slaves, armed with the old Sepoy Brown Bess, to hunt elephants and trade in ivory. On our way up, we heard from natives of their lawless deeds, and again, on our way down, from several, who had been eyewitnesses of the principal crime, and all reports substantially agreed. The story is a sad one. After the traders reached Zumbo, one of them, called by the natives Sequasha, entered into a plot with the disaffected headman, Namakusuru, to kill his chief, Mpangwe, in order that Namakusuru might seize upon the chieftainship; and for the murder of Mpangwe the trader agreed to receive ten large tusks of ivory. Sequasha, with a picked party of armed slaves, went to visit Mpangwe who received him kindly, and treated him with all the honour and hospitality usually shown to distinguished strangers, and the women busied themselves in cooking the best of their provisions for the repast to be set before him. Of this, and also of the beer, the half-caste partook heartily. Mpangwe was then asked by Sequasha to allow his men to fire their guns in amusement. Innocent of any suspicion of treachery, and anxious to hear the report of firearms, Mpangwe at once gave his consent; and the slaves rose and poured a murderous volley into the merry group of unsuspecting spectators, instantly killing the chief and twenty of his people. The survivors fled in horror. The children and young women were seized as slaves, and the village sacked. Sequasha sent the message to Namakusuru: "I have killed the lion that troubled you; come and let us talk over the matter." He came and brought the ivory. "No," said the half-caste, "let us divide the land:" and he took the larger share for himself, and compelled the would-be usurper to deliver up his bracelets, in token of subjection on becoming the child or vassal of Sequasha. These were sent in triumph to the authorities at Tette. The governor of Quillimane had told us that he had received orders from Lisbon to take advantage of our passing to re-establish Zumbo; and accordingly these traders had built a small stockade on the rich plain of the right bank of Loangwa, a mile above the site of the ancient mission church of Zumbo, as part of the royal policy. The bloodshed was quite unnecessary, because, the land at Zumbo having of old been purchased, the natives would have always of their own accord acknowledged the right thus acquired; they pointed it out to Dr. Livingstone in 1856 that, though they were cultivating it, is was not theirs, but white man's land. Sequasha and his mate had left their ivory in charge of some of their slaves, who, in the absence of their masters, were now having a gay time of it, and getting drunk every day with the produce of the sacked villages. The head slave came and begged for the musket of the delinquent ferryman, which was returned. He thought his master did perfectly right to kill Mpangwe, when asked to do it for the fee of ten tusks, and he even justified it thus: "If a man invites you to eat, will you not partake?"
We continued our journey on the 28th of June. Game was extremely abundant, and there were many lions. Mbia drove one off from his feast on a wild pig, and appropriated what remained of the pork to his own use. Lions are particularly fond of the flesh of wild pigs and zebras, and contrive to kill a large number of these animals. In the afternoon we arrived at the village of the female chief, Ma- mburuma, but she herself was now living on the opposite side of the river. Some of her people called, and said she had been frightened by seeing her son and other children killed by Sequasha, and had fled to the other bank; but when her heart was healed, she would return and live in her own village, and among her own people. She constantly inquired of the black traders, who came up the river, if they had any news of the white man who passed with the oxen. "He has gone down into the sea," was their reply, "but we belong to the same people." "Oh no; you need not tell me that; he takes no slaves, but wishes peace: you are not of his tribe." This antislavery character excites such universal attention, that any missionary who winked at the gigantic evils involved in the slave-trade would certainly fail to produce any good impression on the native mind.
Illness--The Honey-guide--Abundance of game--The Baenda pezi--The Batoka.
We left the river here, and proceeded up the valley which leads to the Mburuma or Mohango pass. The nights were cold, and on the 30th of June the thermometer was as low as 39 degrees at sunrise. We passed through a village of twenty large huts, which Sequasha had attacked on his return from the murder of the chief, Mpangwe. He caught the women and children for slaves, and carried off all the food, except a huge basket of bran, which the natives are wont to save against a time of famine. His slaves had broken all the water- pots and the millstones for grinding meal.
The buaze-trees and bamboos are now seen on the hills; but the jujube or zisyphus, which has evidently been introduced from India, extends no further up the river. We had been eating this fruit, which, having somewhat the taste of apples, the Portuguese call Macaas, all the way from Tette; and here they were larger than usual, though immediately beyond they ceased to be found. No mango-tree either is to be met with beyond this point, because the Portuguese traders never established themselves anywhere beyond Zumbo. Tsetse flies are more numerous and troublesome than we have ever before found them. They accompany us on the march, often buzzing round our heads like a swarm of bees. They are very cunning, and when intending to bite, alight so gently that their presence is not perceived till they thrust in their lance-like proboscis. The bite is acute, but the pain is over in a moment; it is followed by a little of the disagreeable itching of the mosquito's bite. This fly invariably kills all domestic animals except goats and donkeys; man and the wild animals escape. We ourselves were severely bitten on this pass, and so were our donkeys, but neither suffered from any after effects.
Water is scarce in the Mburuma pass, except during the rainy season. We however halted beside some fine springs in the bed of the now dry rivulet, Podebode, which is continued down to the end of the pass, and yields water at intervals in pools. Here we remained a couple of days in consequence of the severe illness of Dr. Kirk. He had several times been attacked by fever; and observed that when we were on the cool heights he was comfortable, but when we happened to descend from a high to a lower altitude, he felt chilly, though the temperature in the latter case was 25 degrees higher than it was above; he had been trying different medicines of reputed efficacy with a view to ascertain whether other combinations might not be superior to the preparation we generally used; in halting by this water he suddenly became blind, and unable to stand from faintness. The men, with great alacrity, prepared a grassy bed, on which we laid our companion, with the sad forebodings which only those who have tended the sick in a wild country can realize. We feared that in experimenting he had over-drugged himself; but we gave him a dose of our fever pills; on the third day he rode the one of the two donkeys that would allow itself to be mounted, and on the sixth he marched as well as any of us. This case is mentioned in order to illustrate what we have often observed, that moving the patient from place to place is most conducive to the cure; and the more pluck a man has-- the less he gives in to the disease--the less likely he is to die.
Supplied with water by the pools in the Podebode, we again joined the Zambesi at the confluence of the rivulet. When passing through a dry district the native hunter knows where to expect water by the animals he sees. The presence of the gemsbuck, duiker or diver, springbucks, or elephants, is no proof that water is near; for these animals roam over vast tracts of country, and may be met scores of miles from it. Not so, however, the zebra, pallah, buffalo, and rhinoceros; their spoor gives assurance that water is not far off, as they never stray any distance from its neighbourhood. But when amidst the solemn stillness of the woods, the singing of joyous birds falls upon the ear, it is certain that water is close at hand.