On our land party coming up, we were told that the oxen were bitten by the tsetse: they could see a great difference in their looks. One was already eaten, and they now wished to slaughter another. A third fell into a buffalo-pit next day, so our stock was soon reduced.
The Batoka chief, Moshobotwane, again treated us with his usual hospitality, giving us an ox, some meal, and milk. We took another view of the grand Mosi-oa-tunya, and planted a quantity of seeds in the garden on the island; but, as no one will renew the hedge, the hippopotami will, doubtless, soon destroy what we planted. Mashotlane assisted us. So much power was allowed to this under- chief, that he appeared as if he had cast off the authority of Sekeletu altogether. He did not show much courtesy to his messengers; instead of giving them food, as is customary, he took the meat out of a pot in their presence, and handed it to his own followers. This may have been because Sekeletu's men bore an order to him to remove to Linyanti. He had not only insulted Baldwin, but had also driven away the Griqua traders; but this may all end in nothing. Some of the natives here, and at Sesheke, know a few of the low tricks of more civilized traders. A pot of milk was brought to us one evening, which was more indebted to the Zambesi than to any cow. Baskets of fine-looking white meal, elsewhere, had occasionally the lower half filled with bran. Eggs are always a perilous investment. The native idea of a good egg differs as widely from our own as is possible on such a trifling subject. An egg is eaten here with apparent relish, though an embryo chick be inside.
We left Mosi-oa-tunya on the 27th, and slept close to the village of Bakwini. It is built on a ridge of loose red soil, which produces great crops of mapira and ground-nuts; many magnificent mosibe-trees stand near the village. Machimisi, the headman of the village, possesses a herd of cattle and a large heart; he kept us company for a couple of days to guide us on our way.
We had heard a good deal of a stronghold some miles below the Falls, called Kalunda. Our return path was much nearer the Zambesi than that of our ascent,--in fact, as near as the rough country would allow,--but we left it twice before we reached Sinamane's, in order to see Kalunda and a Fall called Moomba, or Moamba. The Makololo had once dispossessed the Batoka of Kalunda, but we could not see the fissure, or whatever it is, that rendered it a place of security, as it was on the southern bank. The crack of the Great Falls was here continued: the rocks are the same as further up, but perhaps less weather-worn--and now partially stratified in great thick masses. The country through which we were travelling was covered with a cindery-looking volcanic tufa, and might be called "Katakaumena."
The description we received of the Moamba Falls seemed to promise something grand. They were said to send up "smoke" in the wet season, like Mosi-oa-tunya; but when we looked down into the cleft, in which the dark-green narrow river still rolls, we saw, about 800 or 1000 feet below us, what, after Mosi-oa-tunya, seemed two insignificant cataracts. It was evident that Pitsane, observing our delight at the Victoria Falls, wished to increase our pleasure by a second wonder. One Mosi-oa-tunya, however, is quite enough for a continent.
We had now an opportunity of seeing more of the Batoka, than we had on the highland route to our north. They did not wait till the evening before offering food to the strangers. The aged wife of the headman of a hamlet, where we rested at midday, at once kindled a fire, and put on the cooking-pot to make porridge. Both men and women are to be distinguished by greater roundness of feature than the other natives, and the custom of knocking out the upper front teeth gives at once a distinctive character to the face. Their colour attests the greater altitude of the country in which many of them formerly lived. Some, however, are as dark as the Bashubia and Barotse of the great valley to their west, in which stands Sesheke, formerly the capital of the Balui, or Bashubia.
The assertion may seem strange, yet it is none the less true, that in all the tribes we have visited we never saw a really black person. Different shades of brown prevail, and often with a bright bronze tint, which no painter, except Mr. Angus, seems able to catch. Those who inhabit elevated, dry situations, and who are not obliged to work much in the sun, are frequently of a light warm brown, "dark but comely." Darkness of colour is probably partly caused by the sun, and partly by something in the climate or soil which we do not yet know. We see something of the same sort in trout and other fish which take their colour from the ponds or streams in which they live. The members of our party were much less embrowned by free exposure to the sun for years than Dr. Livingstone and his family were by passing once from Kuruman to Cape Town, a journey which occupied only a couple of months.
We encamped on the Kalomo, on the 1st of October, and found the weather very much warmer than when we crossed this stream in August. At 3 p.m. the thermometer, four feet from the ground, was 101 degrees in the shade; the wet bulb only 61 degrees: a difference of 40 degrees. Yet, notwithstanding this extreme dryness of the atmosphere, without a drop of rain having fallen for months, and scarcely any dew, many of the shrubs and trees were putting forth fresh leaves of various hues, while others made a profuse display of lovely blossoms.