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Full text of "Round the black man's garden"

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BOSTON UNIVERSITY 
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African Studies Library 



EOUND THE BLACK MAN'S GAEDEN 




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ROUND THE BLACK MAN'S 
GARDEN 



BY 

ZELIE COLVILK F.E.G.S. 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM DRAWINGS BY THE AUTHOR 
AND FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 



■ Qui suit son chemin 
AiTive a la fin " 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MDCCCXCIII 



All Rights reserved 



t9^o 



04 mON FRERE, 
ANDBS BICHAUD be PBtVlLLE. 

Je te dMie ces souvenirs, a toi qui ctime tcint les rdcits de 
voyage, et dont la pens4e nous a suivis pas a i^as durant 
notre promenade de huit rnois. 

ZELIE COLVILE. 



PREFACE. 



I AM sittinor in a bamboo thatched house some 
twelve feet square, perched on four ujDright poles, 
somewhat after the mamier of a pigeon-loft, and 
listening to verbose explanations in three lang- 
uages on the positions of the Lois, Pums, or Taungs, 
as mountains are called by Katchins, Burmans, or 
Shans respectively. My stylographic pen has just 
rolled through the chinks of the split bamboo floor, 
into the stew which Miguel, my Goa " boy," is brew- 
ing below, and Miguel's grumblings would have 
been very long-winded but for the timely appear- 
ance of a Katchin runner, who, mounting the 
notched j^ole by which my front door is approached, 
offers me a paper parcel with both hands as if it 
were a draught of water, while Miguel, a little behind 



Vlll PREFACE. 



the times, exclaims, through the floor, "Postman 



coming, sar ! 



The packet contains, among others, a letter from 
my wife asking me to write a Preface to her book 
'Eound the Black Man's Garden.' 

It is a far cry from a hill-top overlooking China to 
Afric's golden strand, and the intricacies of Katchin 
topography have pretty well banished from my 
mind all memories of our African coasting trip. 
But I do remember that it was I who, in an un- 
guarded moment, and taking no thought for the 
morrow, suo[o;ested the title while the late Govern- 
ment was in power ; and I feel that the least I can 
do is to openly avow^ my fault, and bow my devoted 
head to the vials of wrath Avhich will doubtless be 
poured on it. In justice to myself, I must say 
that, on the result of the late general election being 
made public, I at once suggested the substitu- 
tion of "Gentleman of Colour" for "Black Man"; 
but a friend of my wife's who understands English 
composition and those sort of things, said the title 
was clumsy ; an artistic acquaintance of mine said 
black was not a colour at all ; and my wife objected 
that she could not describe as a gentleman a person 
who was in the habit of hanging his relations, by 
hooks through their heels, over a pit full of spikes, 



PREFACE. IX 

as some one she met at Bonny did. Knowing 
nothing of the rights and wrongs of the technical 
objections, I wisely held my peace with regard to 
them, but was obliged to admit that the conduct of 
the person at Bonny was not in the best of taste, 
and would certainly have been taken notice of by 
the committee had he been a member of my club. 
So there was nothing to do but let the obnoxious 
title stand ; and here from my highland fastness I 
send forth to the expectant millions an avowal of 
my guilt, my only hope being that the charm of 
the book may avert a portion of their philonegric 
wrath from the unhappy cause of its title. 

Having thus confessed my fault, I may come to 
the more pleasant task of showing that I am also 
the primary cause of the book itself. But for me 
these pages would never have been written, for it 
was only by my contracting (at great personal in- 
convenience) pneumonia, pleurisy, and a few odds 
and ends of complications, that I obtained the long 
period of sick-leave which enabled me to perform the 
grateful duties of guardian and companion to the 
authoress, on her travels ; and it would be false 
modesty on my part to doubt, when after a hard 
day's travel she penned her diary by the midnight 
dip, that her weary vigil was cheered by the har- 



X PREFACE. 

mony of my snores, without whose help perhaps the 
following pages wonld have lacked that sparkle which 
I am sure they must possess. 

When the book is presented to me, neatly bound 
and comfortably printed, I hope to put this matter 
to the test ; but in the meanwhile I can assure my 
fellow-readers that if the authoress is onl}^ half as 
good at writing as she is at roughing it, we have a 
treat before us. 

H. E. COLVILE. 

Paxkaw, Katchin Hills, 
Upper Burmah, 
March 21, 1893. 



CONTENTS. 



BOOK PAGE 

I. THE SEA OF ISLAM (Suez to Aden), . . 1 

II. THE LAND OF ROCKS (Aden to Lamu), . . 48 

III. THE LAND OF BONDAGE (Lamu to Zanzibar), . . 57 

lY. THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY (Zanzibar to Mojanga). . 80 

Y. THE LAND OF SLEEP (Mojanga to Durban), . 229 

YL THE LAND OF GOLD (Durban to Cape To^Yn), . 240 

YII. THE FORTUNATE ISLES (Cape Town to the Canaries),. 271 

YIII. THE LAND OF DEATH (West Coast of Africa), . 278 



INDEX, 



. 343 



ILLUSTEATIONS. 



FULL-PAGE ILLUSTEATIONS. 



PORTRAIT OF AUTHOR, 

TOR, 

YEMBO, 

HADENDOWA ARABS, 

ADEN, 

THE TANKS, ADEN, 

CAPE GUARDAFUI, 

SHELLA POINT, . 

MOMBASA HARBOUR, 

MOMBASA, 

ZANZIBAR FROM ROOF OF BRITISH AGENCY, 

MONSIEUR LE MYRE DE VILERS, 

NOSY-BE, ..... 

DI^GO SUAREZ, .... 

TAMATAVE, 

queen's summer palace, FROM DRAWING 

NATIVE ARTIST, 
ANDOHALO SQUARE, ANTANANARIVO, 



BY 



Frontispiece 


To face 


2Mge 6 


II 


8 


I! 


24 


M 


48 


II 


50 


1. 


54 


tl 


58 


U 


60 


It 


64 


M 


70 


II 


80 


II 


88 


M 


94 


II 


104 


,, 


156 


11 


168 



XIV 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



THE AUTHOR OX ARRIVAL AT MOJAXGA, 
INHAMBAXE, ..... 

KAFFIR KRAAL, XATAL, .... 
THE PRETORIA COACH, .... 
THE COMPOUXD, DE BEER'S MIXE, 
BOXE YARD IX LAS PALMAS CEMETERY, 
OX THE ROAD TO OROTATA, 

CAPE PALMAS, ..... 
NEGRESS, ACCRA, .... 

FACTORY, BOXXY, .... 

COTTOX-TREE, BOXXY, .... 
BISHOP AXD ARCHDEACOX CROWTHER AXD CLERGY, 
JU-JU PRIEST, ..... 
CAPITAIXE BIXGER, .... 

MOXROYIA, . . . . . 



To face ixige 226 
236 
242 
254 
266 
274 
278 
286 
292 
300 
304 
308 
314 
330 
334 



ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT. 



XATIVES OF LAilU, 

DOCTOR BAISSADE IX HIS FILAXZAXA, 

SILVER CHARMS, ETC., . 

CROSSIXG LAKE n5sY-V]6, 

DOWX-HILL, 

OUR MALAGASY LAXDLADY, 

MALAGASY PRIXCESSES, . 

ARTICLES OF MALAGASY MAXUFACTURE, 

OUR PARTY UXDER THE AM5xTAXA TREE, 

LAXDIXG AT MARAVOAY, . , . 

THE QUILIMANE PILOT, . 

ZULU DRESSES, ORNAMEXTS, ETC., 

WASHERWOMEN, LAS PALMAS, . 



PAGE 

59 
107 
111 
125 
133 
160 
174 
184 
187 
214 
232 
246 
272 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



XV 



TABU, ..... 

WEST AFRICAN WARES, . 
JU-JU PRIEST, .... 
JU-JU TOWN, .... 

IDOL AND OTHER ARTICLES FROM BONNY, 
" CHARLES HOLLIDAY " AND FAMILY, . 
NATIVE TOWN, DAKAR, . 



288 

294 
305 
313 
316 
322 
340 



MAPS. 



AFRICA, . 

CENTRAL MADAGASCAR, 



. iMfje 1 
in loocket at end 




AFRICA ., 

SHOWING author's route. — i- 



■S^E^^P^SfSS 



EOUND THE BLACK MAN'S GARDEN. 



BOOK I. 



THE SEA OF ISLAM. 



The doctors having decided that we must winter in 
a warm climate, I brought the big family atlas to 
Harry, who dreamily turned over the leaves until 
he came to Africa. After sitting for some time 
watching the smoke from his cigarette, he looked 
up, — ' ' What do you say to the Cape ? " " Charming ! " 
I replied, quite forgetting what a bad sailor I was ; 
"but how shall we get there from Bohemia?" We 
had promised some friends to spend the month of 
August with them in that country. " Let us go 
round by the back way," he suggested, and so it 
was settled; and the 12th of September 1888 found 
us at Venice, where we embarked for Alexandria. 



2 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

On the 21st we arrived at Suez, very tired and be- 
grimed, after twelve hours in that dirtiest, slowest, 
and shakiest of all known means of conveyance, 
an Egyptian night-train. 

After a good wash and a substantial breakfast in 
that curious little oasis of Angio-Indianism, the Suez 
Hotel, we began to feel more at peace with the 
world, — a feeling which soon disappeared on dis- 
covering that our light clothing, guns, &c., which 
had been sent by sea to meet us here, had not 
arrived. So the morning, which I had hoped to 
spend in peace, had to be devoted to rushing about 
the dirty little town, followed by a swarm of would- 
be guides, and trying to collect a few necessaries 
and comforts for the voyage. 

As I was anxious to see the Red Sea ports, we 
had settled to go by the Khedivial Line of steamers, 
which touched at all of them, but which, we had 
been warned, had no other advantages. On going 
to book our passage by this line, we were agree- 
ably surprised to find that the agent, Mr Campbell, 
had received a telegram from a friend of ours at 
Alexandria requesting him to do all he could to 
make us comfortable, to secure the ladies' cabin for 
us, and to have an extra supply of ice put on board. 

At about three o'clock, after a quarter of an hour's 
journey in the train, which runs over a causeway 
through the lagoon, we found ourselves on board, 
and were received by Mr Campbell, who showed us 



AND ITS PASSENGERS. 6 

our cabin, which seemed large and airy enough, 
being intended to hold eight passengers, and hav- 
ing fair-sized windows on two sides, opening on to 
the quarter-deck. I must say my heart sank a lit- 
tle when I saw how small our steamer, the ''Messir," 
was: it seemed as if the slightest sea would make 
itself felt, and subsequent experience proved that 
my conjecture was not far wrong. 

When we first got on board it was quite impos- 
sible to move — the little hurricane-deck, the only 
part reserved for saloon passengers, being taken up 
by a curious-looking crowd that had come to see the 
Governor of Suez off on one of his official rounds ; 
so we both sat in a corner and watched the proceed- 
ings, which, from the variety of the costumes and 
the manners and customs of their wearers, greatly 
interested me. 

One man standing near us had on a tarbush, a 
check shooting-suit, a white waistcoat, a shirt that 
had not been washed for some time, evening patent- 
leather pumps, blue-and-white-striped cotton socks, 
and a thick gold chain : w^iile talking to his friends, 
he w^as telling his beads behind his back. Another 
in the regulation Stambuli black - broadcloth suit 
might, but for his tarbush, have been taken for a 
neat young English curate. A third with a sly 
sallow face, a pen behind his ear, and a yellow- 
striped dressing-gown, was his Excellency's Coptic 
clerk. All looked thoroughly out of keeping with 



4 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

two magnificent old grey-beards, who, in ordinary 
native dress, were capital samples of the " fine old " 
Arab " gentleman all of the olden time." Among 
the smaller fry the Circassians were the only people 
who looked clean and attractive, w^th their beautiful 
eyes and pleasant faces. One of them seemed much 
amused at the interest I took in the leave-taking 
between the Governor and his friends, the form of 
which varied according to the social position of the 
latter, and to their diff'erent degrees of friendship. 
The Governor kissed those with whom he was most 
intimate on one cheek and one shoulder — or rather, 
after kissing his friend s cheek, bobbed his head over 
his shoulder. The next in degree was kissed on 
both shoulders. Those in the highest social scale 
took the Governor's hand ; just as they were going 
to kiss it, he snatched it away, as a sign that he 
accepted the civility, but would not permit them to 
lower themselves to such a degree. The highest of 
all bowed very low, the Governor returning the 
bow. Lastly came the lowest grade, who were 
permitted to kiss his hand, some on the back only, 
others on the palm as well, afterwards raising it to 
their foreheads. His portly Excellency meanwhile 
looked very important and self-satisfied. 

At last the bell rano- and the crowd went ashore. 
I was quite sorry, for I should have liked to have 
seen more of them and their peculiar ways. We 
had, however, plenty of fellow-passengers on board 



HAREMS ON DECK. i) 

for me to study : these soon went below to don their 
travelling attire, which appeared mainly to consist of 
the garment in which Christian people go to bed. 
The ladies of their harems were not treated to the 
luxury of a cabin, but were encamped on the 
hurricane-deck, taking up half of the already scanty 
space at our disposal. They were kept in an 
enclosure of canvas walls, which, being open at the 
top, must have afforded a fine view of all the family 
arrangements to the officer on duty on the bridge. 

There were two of these harems on board, one 
belong-ino; to the Governor of Suez, and the other 
to a splendid-looking old man, who with his family 
was starting on the pilgrimage to Mecca. What a 
way to do a long and fatiguing journey, cooped up 
in a little enclosure, and never allowed to show 
one's nose outside ! Harry told me that even on 
desert journeys the women are shut up in a sort of 
gipsy-tent pitched on the top of the baggage on a 
pack-camel. I am told that formerly their lords 
and masters used to sleep on deck near the harem 
enclosures, but they have now so far advanced with 
the times as to treat themselves to a cabin. They, 
however, did not have their meals below, but squat- 
ting in a circle on their shoeless heels, ate out of one 
big dish with their fingers. "When not so engaged, 
or saying their prayers, they smoked a never-end- 
ing succession of cigarettes, and played at cards, 
chess, or backgammon, in which they were joined 



6 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

by the officers and crew, who, with the exception 
of the engineer, were all natives. He, I was glad 
to find, was an Englishman, for the natives are 
curiously casual in their duties ; and even the 
man at the wheel thought nothing of leaving his 
post to say his prayers. 

Our party at meals consisted of three Englishmen, 
— Captain Lewis of the Egyptian army, hurrying 
back to Suakin, having heard that fighting had 
begun again ; and two brothers, Mr Wood and Mr 
A. Wood, the elder of whom was going as Consul to 
Jeddah, — an Egyptian officer, and a young Circassian, 
who looked quite mad, and, as it turned out, was a 
good deal off" his head. 

As soon as w^e were under way, I lay down, very 
thankful to get possession of the dirtiest of divans ; 
for the motion was far from pleasant, and I had 
already learnt that if one takes these sort of journeys 
one must begin by striking all antipathy to dirt out 
of one's composition. Our Captain, a good-natured 
fat Egyptian, came and chatted with me in English . I 
asked him if his boat always rolled as much as she was 
doing at that moment ; he assured me, " That was 
nothing to what she could do." He said this with 
such evident pride that I could not help smiling. 

Aftet dinner we sat on deck trying to get cool, 
and enjoying the fast-fading view of the African 
coast, whose jagged rocky peaks stood out in sharp 
relief of darkening purple against the sunset sky. 



OFF TOR. i 

During the night we were to cross over to the 
Arabian coast, and touch at Tor, a little Egyptian 
port and quarantine station at the northern end of 
the Sinai peninsula. The night was not a very 
pleasant one, the heat being intense. Two of our 
cabin-windows opened on to the forward part of the 
ship, in which was encamped a portion of a Sudanese 
regiment going from Cairo to Suakin, accompanied 
by their wives and babies ; whilst between them 
and us were heaped up in crates the wretched fowls, 
destined to be killed one by one, though many 
of them were already dying from the intense heat. 
With a slight head -breeze we got the full benefit 
of their combined odours. 

Next morning we were up early, and found we 
were only going six knots an hour, the pilot having 
all the time to keep a sharp look-out for coral-reefs. 
At nine we anchored off Tor, but had to lie some 
way out, the reefs making it dangerous to go very 
near. 

Captain Lewis assured us there was nothing worth 
seeing on shore, a statement which the view from 
the ship certainly did not discredit ; so we remained 
on board, and I sketched the settlement, consisting 
of three palm-trees and what looked like a few mud- 
walls dropped on the seaward edge of a burning 
plain of yellow sand, bounded at a distance of some 
ten or fifteen miles by the range of Sinai, a mass of 
sharp-cut peaks and rocky gorges, now in the fore- 



8 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

noon mostly in a deep purple shade, relieved by a 
still darker shadow in the clefts, with here and there 
a glow on some pinnacle that had caught the sun. 
Except for those lonely palms, on shore there was 
no siu'n of life — all looked so dead and burnt that one 
could hardly even imagine there could be sound ; 
though, judging by the inhabitants who soon boarded 
us, I have no doubt I should have been disillusioned 
had I gone ashore. Hardly had the anchor dropped 
than a dozen big-sailed native boats were racing 
towards us, dashing full speed, until it seemed as 
if their bows were on the point of being crushed in 
against our hull, when by a dexterous turn they 
were swung round alongside ; the big sails flapped, 
and the crews were scrambling over the bulwarks, 
each uroing: us to come ashore in their own boat — 
the best of the flotilla — almost before one's heart 
had ceased to jump in anticipation of their disaster. 
They were wild, picturesque-looking fellows, with 
the scantiest of clothing, their only ornaments con- 
sisting; of fish-bones stuck throug;h their hair. From 
their appearance I should have thought them a 
match for anybody ; but one of them, who came on 
board with a basket of dates for sale, got so terribly 
worsted in a passage of words with an old Sudanese 
hag, who w\as in some way attached to the troops, 
that he had completely to surrender and let her 
take his goods at her own price. I must say the 
way she pinned him into a corner and heaped in- 



YEMBO. y 

vectives on him, whirling her withered arms about 
his face, was enough to frighten the bravest man. 

Here the Governor and his harem left us, thus 
placing a little more of the deck at our disposal. 

At noon we started again with the wind dead 
ahead, passing Shadwan Island at five o'clock in the 
evening, and the Daedalus reef and lighthouse at 
six on the following morning. The Captain told 
me that the two lighthouse - keepers spent nine 
months out of every twelve on that bit of rock, 
hardly as large as a good-sized room. "What an 
existence ! 

In the afternoon I made an expedition forward 
among the Sudanese, and greatly delighted one proud 
young mother of about fifteen by taking her baby 
in my arms ; it was certainly a nice little thing, 
with bright eyes, white teeth, and head like a black 
egg. They all seemed very happy and cheery to- 
gether, and, in spite of their ugliness, there was 
something very taking about them. The men are 
splendid, and looked remarkably smart in their 
snow-white uniforms. 

At 10.30 A.M. on September the 24th, we sighted 
Yembo. After passing through an opening about 
300 yards wide between the reefs, we entered a wide 
lagoon forming a fair-sized and safe harbour. Nine 
other vessels of various tonnage were at anchor. 
Looking at them through my glasses, they appeared 
like ant-hills, overrun as they were with black fig- 



10 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

ures. The Captain informed us they were all pilgrims 
who had done the double journey to Mecca and Me- 
dina ; those who only go to Mecca re-embarking at 
Jeddah. 

As we ofot nearer, the din of voices was indescrib- 
able. Most of the men looked perfectly wild, rush- 
ing about trying to secure some corner on their 
respective homeward-bound vessels. I never saw 
such a scramble in my life ; they looked more like 
a troop of monkeys than anything else, as they 
bounded over any cargo that happened to be in their 
way, swinging themselves from rope to rope about 
the rigging. 

We anchored not far from the wharf, which was 
black with a moving excited crowd. The tall well- 
made Arabs in their hurnouses, with their well- 
defined features and graceful movements, were a 
great contrast to their more ragged fellow-pilgrims. 
On a French vessel alongside of us, bound for the 
north of Africa, were some very wild-looking men, 
worn and emaciated, with their clothing in rags. 
The Captain told us the pilgrims have to pay so 
highly for what they want on the journey that they 
soon get to the end of their resources. How strong 
and beautiful must be their faith to cause them to 
leave their home without having the slightest idea 
when they may return ! Some of them come from 
the west coast of Africa, walking across the desert 
through totally unknown lands, guiding themselves 



PILGRIM PASSENGERS. 11 

by the rising sun, — men and women, old and young, 
enduring sucli sufferings and privations that many 
die by the way. Death on the return journey is 
considered perfect happiness, as then they feel sure 
of attaining the Paradise for which they have for- 
saken everything. Among them we saw many so 
crippled that they had to be carried ; others were 
almost skeletons. 

Soon after we anchored the two brothers Wood 
went on shore, but soon came back, saying it was 
dangerous for me to go into that crowd. They 
had been pelted with stones in the town. As we 
were anxious to see the place, however, their ex- 
perience did not stop us. So I put on a thick veil 
notwithstanding the heat, out of respect to native 
prejudice, and soon realised how much veiled women 
must suffer ! Many of them are entirely covered 
with a cotton stuff thrown over their heads, reach- 
ing to their feet, and tied round the neck, only 
leaving two small holes for the eyes. When they 
eat in public they loosen the string round the 
neck, and pass the food up underneath this long 
garment. 

Having secured a very rickety canoe manned by 
two fierce-looking natives, we landed after several 
perilous encounters with boats crammed to over- 
flowing with shouting pilgrims, who certainly looked 
more like wild beasts than human beings, but, all 
the same, very picturesque from the brilliant colour- 



12 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

ino' of their cotton o;arments. On landing we had 
great difficulty in getting through the crowd ; and 
the odours that filled the atmosphere were over- 
powering. By dint of wriggling under bare arms 
and over sprawling forms, we managed to get into 
the heart of the town, which we found entirely de- 
serted by all except a band of very unpleasant-look- 
ino' doss in search of food. The inhabitants were 
either safe in their flat-roofed mud-houses, or seeing 
those unwelcome birds of passage — the pilgrims — o& 
the premises. I never saw streets so empty or 
houses in such a tumble-down condition. But for 
some awnings here and there on the flat roofs, made 
of rouo'h sticks with some rag;s thrown over them, 
evidently for the convenience of the women when 
sitting on their house-tops, one would have imagined 
one's self in a city of the dead. 

A few minutes' walk brought us to the eastern 
wall of the town, at one of the gates of which we 
came across a drowsy sentry sitting on his heels and 
hugging his rifle, as he pensively contemplated three 
rusty guns, which from their appearance might have 
come out of the x\rk. Then following a narrow 
street to our left, we found ourselves in the bazaar, 
where the crowd was so dense that it was almost 
impossible to pass. However, by winding through 
various dirty streets, we at last reached the wharf, 
or rather the edge of the crowd that was on it. 

Before makino- our wav home I was anxious to 



INSIDE YEMBO. 



photograph some groups ; so with great difficulty we 
edged our way to a shady corner of the square, 
stepping over camels' necks, piles of goods, and 
shapeless heaps of rags, which, from the groans that 
issued from them as we passed, I suppose hid human 
beings. Opposite us was a well-built house with 
lovely mushrahieh windows, through which we could 
see three veiled women in white, evidently watching 
the departure of the pilgrims. As I had taken the 
precaution of putting on a dust-cloak to conceal my 
camera, my proceedings attracted no special atten- 
tion ; and I managed to get some very good shots. 
The people were certainly not such as I should have 
cared to run the risk of alarming by levelling a 
strange-looking instrument at them. 

I had seen enough of native crowds for one day, 
and as we returned on board I looked forward to the 
comparative peace and purer air of the " Messir," and 
was therefore anything but agreeably surprised to 
find our ship overrun with pilgrims. Our steward, 
Ibrahim, tried to explain that the Captain had at 
first refused to take them ; but finding there were 
only three hundred, he had given in. Three hundred 
to occupy a space which would only hold a few 
dozen ordinary mortals ! It took so long getting 
them on board that we had to put ofi" our departure 
till the following morning. Sleep was quite out of 
the question for that night — the din of voices never 
ceasing, not to mention the heat, mosquitoes, and 



14 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

the homely flea, of which last a cargo had been 
shipped with no extra charge. 

At 10.30 A.M. we steamed out, passing close to the 
"Malacca," an old P. and 0. liner, which the Sultan 
of Zanzibar had bought for the use of the pilgrims 
belonging to his dominions. She was so crowded 
that several of the Haajis had taken refuge in the 
rigging, where they were perched like Japanese 
acrobats on a pole, sheltering themselves from the 
burning sun under small cotton European parasols 
of various colours. Towards luncheon-time we were 
rolling so tremendously that our Captain, who was not 
a first-rate sailor, being anxious to have an hour's 
quiet for his mid-day meal, turned the vessel's head 
round, causing her to pitch so that certainly one 
passenger — if not more — went without lunch ; be- 
sides which, we lost an hour. But what is an 
hour to the son of the East ? 

Later in the day I went forward to make acquaint- 
ance with our new fellow-passengers — a miserable 
sight. They were a ragged hungry-looking crowd 
of all ages — many of the men seeming as if they 
had parted with all their worldly goods except the 
daggers, splendidly mounted in silver, which they 
still wore. 

Life on board ship is monotonous at the best of 
times ; but when it is too hot to sleep, and one is 
too ill to read, it becomes doubly so. On the follow- 
ing day, however, our Circassian fellow-passenger 



A MAD CIRCASSIAN. 15 

provided us with excitement enough and to spare. 
He had been gradually getting wilder in his manner 
ever since he came on board, spending the whole of 
his time writing letters, which he tore up as soon as 
they were written. He confided to Mr Wood that 
he had been crossed in love ; whether that had 
turned his head, or whether it was merely a de- 
lusion, I do not know, but at any rate he in some 
way connected Harry with his misfortune. He was 
" sure the Eno;lishman knew his thoug;hts even be- 
fore he put them on paper," and the result was that 
he glared most unpleasantly at Harry whenever he 
met him. I tried to make friends with him at 
meals, as he sat next to me ; but as he only burst 
out laughing whenever I spoke to him, I gave him 
up as hopeless. 

On the morning after leaving Yembo I was on 
deck talking to Mr Wood, when up rushed our 
madman. He stood for a moment in front of us, 
muttering something in French, meanwhile taking 
off his coat. Then with a bound he jumjDcd over- 
board. Mr Wood just got hold of his foot for one 
moment, thereby checking his fall. Instinct seemed 
to make the wretched man catch at a rope, to which 
he clung out of reach, his feet dangling, dragging 
along in the water. We tried to persuade him to 
come up again, but he only shouted back that we 
were all his enemies, and were trying to put his 
people at home against him. After a time he 



16 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

thouoiit better of it, and scrambled into a safer 
position, watching tlie waves, and leaving us in 
doubt w^hetlier lie would not again throw himself in. 
At last, after much talking and persuasion on our 
part, he was induced to climb up and get on deck, 
apparently thoroughly shaken, and having for the 
time being frightened himself back to his right 
senses. Our usually quiet, indolent Captain was 
a sight to see, rushing about asking what he should 
do with such a madman on board. We were all 
of one mind, that the Circassian should be landed at 
the first place we touched at ; and the steward was 
in the meanwhile told to keep a close watch over 
him, for which I was thankful, as, knowing his hatred 
of Harry, I felt a little nervous. At lunch, to my 
astonishment, the poor man came quietly up to me 
and begged my pardon for having given me such a 
fright. He very rightly remarked that if Mr Wood 
had let him have a dip it would have done him 
worlds of good. 

In the afternoon the venerable owner of the harem 
and his men-followers appeared on deck with their 
loins enveloped in what looked like bath-towels, but 
wearing nothing on their heads, arms, or legs, having 
divested themselves of their usual travelling attire. 
Ibrahim explained to me that we had that afternoon 
passed a place called Sherm Eabigh, at which point 
all pilgrims going to Mecca had to clothe themselves 
in that species of sackcloth until they had accom- 



AN OLD man's two WIVES. 17 

plislied their pilgrimage. What tortures town-bred 
natives accustomed to European clothes must endure 
with so little to protect their bodies from the burn- 
ing sun ! 

We were due at Jeddah that afternoon, and as 
all the pilgrims and future pilgrims were to land 
there, the collecting and sorting of their different 
goods caused an indescribable bustle on board. 
Out of the harem appeared the old man's two 
wives, dressed entirely in black, having over their 
faces a piece of muslin so thin that their features 
were distinctly visible. Both were evidently Cir- 
cassians. The elder, who still showed traces of 
good looks, seemed to act the part of handmaid 
to the younger wife, who, conscious of her youth 
and beauty, quite took it as her due. With them 
was a lovely little girl — the daughter of the old 
man — with magnificent eyes, clear complexion, and 
well-cut features. She was allowed to run about 
amongst us. It was sad to think of such a lovely 
delicate child having to undergo all the hardships 
of that long journey. 

Towards two o'clock we anchored some miles 
from the town, only small boats being able to 
sail in and out among the coral-reefs. This was 
Mr Wood's destination ; and on leaving, he invited 
us to come and see his future home, should we 
go ashore. As we were to remain at anchor till 
the next morning we accepted, but waited patiently 

B 



18 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

till the crowd had gone ashore, which they only 
accomplished after many disputes with the boatmen 
about the high charges. It was a pretty sight to see 
about thirty little sailing-boats, clumsily made, but 
going a good pace, racing each other among the 
reefs. Dotted about were small canoes, each dug 
out of one tree, their owners fishing for coral. 
We secured a nice sailing-boat with a jolly, bright- 
faced black boy, as quick and active in his move- 
ments as a monkey. Certainly he needed to be so, 
for in shaping his course through the zigzagging 
reefs, he had constant changes of wind and current 
to contend with ; and it was only by continually 
raising and lowering the sail, sometimes rowing 
with all his might, or by suddenly touching the 
rudder with his foot, that he finally brought us to 
Jeddah in safety. 

As we approached I took several photographs 
of the town, which looked most imposing with its 
high square houses, most of them whitewashed, 
and thus bringing out to advantage the large 
unpainted mushrahieh windows. To the wharf 
were fastened a great number of crooked-masted 
dhows. There being no pier, our boatman carried 
us ashore on his back. Before we left him he 
gave us a ring made of a bit of silver wire twisted 
like a rope, so that when we returned we should 
hold it up as a signal of recognition. This was 
all settled by signs and many smiles on his part. 



JEDDAH. 19 

After passing through a very busy crowd loading 
and unloading cargo, we soon found ourselves in 
the bazaar, the largest I had ever seen. It is 
in a wide street; but the rays of the sun are 
excluded, and a cool and mysterious appearance 
is given by an ingenious arrangement of roofing. 
On poles placed across the street from house to 
house, at a height of about twelve feet from the 
ground, is laid a network of bamboos, with varied 
pieces of canvas and other stuffs scattered on the 
top, the whole being supported by occasional up- 
right poles. On each side are the shops, which 
are raised about three feet from the ground, and 
resemble nothing so much as a row of pigeon- 
holes, averaging seven feet by five, but varying 
somewhat in size according to the wares contained 
in them ; at night they are made secure by shutters, 
which during the day are kept beneath the floor. 
The merchandise was very varied : fruit of many 
sorts; beads which were unmistakably from Bir- 
mingham ; cotton stuff's as clearly from Man- 
chester ; carpets, of course ; black coral cigarette- 
holders made by the natives ; scents of many dif- 
ferent kinds. A narghile was generally to be seen 
in a corner, and a pair of red slippers close at 
hand. Most of the owners were sleeping or smok- 
ing, the only busy ones being the metal-workers 
and the tailors; the latter not only making the 
clothes, but generally embroidering the material 



20 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

as well. We were soon followed by a crowd offer- 
ing us their wares ; but we did not stop, being 
anxious to reach Mr Wood's house, and afterwards 
to visit Eve's Tomb, the great sight of the place. 

After leaving the bazaar we walked through 
many streets, all of them very short, with sharp 
turns to the right and left, until we accidentally 
hit upon a house on which waved the British flag. 
There, sure enough, we found the new Consul. 
He showed us over his future abode, which certainly 
might be made very picturesque, with its airy 
rooms and pretty look-out on the sea; but a few 
tables and chairs, left by the last tenant, were then, 
the only pieces of furniture. 

Mr Wood offered to send his cavass to escort 
us to the tomb ; and soon there appeared a very 
imposing-looking old man, with bare feet, a short 
red coat embroidered in gold, and white breeches, 
havino; at his side a long sword in a beautiful silver 
sheath, and carrying a stick with an elaborate silver 
knob, which he flourished in the way so familiar 
to us in the drum -major at home. We sallied 
forth, and soon found these weapons were most 
useful — the stick for the horrid famished dogs, and 
the sword to threaten the crowd of little black 
urchins who would follow and throw stones at us. 
Our guide hurried along the narrow streets to a 
gate in the town wall, whence we walked on for 
a quarter of a mile ankle-deep in sand, passing by 



eve's tomb. 21 

the barracks, in front of which several Turkish 
officers on horseback were drilling their men, all 
dressed in white cotton uniforms. At last we 
reached Eve's supposed resting-place, a strip of 
land a hundred feet long by twenty broad, enclosed 
between low walls, with a small gate at each end. 
After going about three-quarters of the length 
between these walls, we came to a small mosque, 
which our guide told us was built over our first 
mother's heart, and in which two men kneeling on 
mats were praying very earnestly and in loud tones. 
"When we expressed our surprise at the length of 
the tomb, our guide was ready with his answer, 
" Having been the mother of us all, she was natu- 
rally very tall." As it was getting late we hurried 
back to the shore, and after some time found our 
nice boy, who had several native passengers in his 
boat ready to be taken on board. 

While waiting for dinner I stood on deck watch- 
ing a boat being laden with cargo, in the bow 
of which were two men repeating their evening 
prayers. Unfortunately for them they were just 
on a level with our waste-steam pipe, which the 
inconsiderate engineer suddenly opened, causing the 
boiling steam to fly straight in their faces. A 
roar of laughter was all the sympathy they got, 
and they soon ended by joining in the merriment, 
quite forgetting to finish their devotions. 

The next morning; Ibrahim asked me if I would 



22 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

go marketing with him. I giadly accepted, being 
always ready for sight-seeing ; so five o'clock 
found me again going on shore, chaperoned by our 
Egyptian steward. Although so early, it was very 
hot, and the bazaar was more crowded than the 
day before by natives in all kinds of coloured 
costumes. We first went for our provisions to a 
bazaar I had not yet visited. If the heat had not 
for many days past deprived me of all wish to 
touch meat, the sight I saw there certainly would 
have done so, the butchers' shops being simply 
black with flies. I speedily deserted Ibrahim, and 
turned my attention to the more tempting vegetable 
and fruit stalls, where he afterwards joined me. 
There wxre pyramids of pomegranates, some split 
open, showing their lovely crimson seeds ; next to 
them were water-melons of curious shapes ; while 
among the vegetables I seized upon an old favourite, 
the purple fruit of the egg-plant. Ibrahim com- 
plained that in consequence of my being there they 
asked him double the usual price for everything. 
This made him very angry. 

Having got hold of a boy to convey his purchases 
to the boat, he took me into a narrow street where 
the metal-workers lived in dirty little shops. I 
bought several silver charms, but on the whole 
there was little worth purchasing. On our way 
back we stopped at a scent-shop to buy some attar 
of roses, which was very cheap ; the man covered 



IN A JEDDAH CAFl^. 23 

my hands with all kinds of scents, each more deli- 
cious than the other. Seeing a fruit-stall opposite 
covered with beautiful grapes, bananas, and limes, 
WQ got another small boy, and loaded him with 
these tempting spoils. I was beginning to feel very 
hot and hungry, so Ibrahim took me to a cafe. I 
could not help laughing to find myself sitting en 
tete-a-tete with Ibrahim drinking delicious black 
coffee at a small marble table in a cool and spacious 
room full of strange men. It was twelve o'clock 
before we got back to the vessel. 



II. 

Durino; our absence there had been several new 
arrivals. Among them was Father Luigi Bonomi, 
the Eoman Catholic priest — a tall handsome man 
with a kind intelligent face — who escaped from El 
Obeid in June 1885. Harry and he recognised each 
other directly, for after his escape he made his way 
to the camp where Harry was at Dongola. 

That afternoon we left for Suakin, and got into a 
nasty cross-sea, which made the "Messir" roll even 
more than ever ; and as we were already nearly mad 
with prickly heat, the night was one of misery. 
The next morning early a welcome little yellow 
bird flew past our port-hole, a sign that land was 
near. It remained some time on the ship ; and 
Captain Lewis, thinking it was thirsty, told his 



24 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

black servant, Mustapha, to give it some water in 
a plate. The intelligent youth brought up some 
thick cabbage-soup ! 

Soon afterwards we sighted the African coast, and 
steamed along about fifteen hundred yards distant 
from it for some miles. As we passed abreast of 
Sheikh Barud's Tomb, which was visible in the far 
distance, the sailors threw a bucketful of fresh water 
overboard, providing, as they believed, some water 
for the holy man to drink, there being no fresh 
water on any part of that coast. It is a barren- 
looking country, with its hard line of rocky hills 
overlooking the narrow sandy plain dotted with 
stunted mimosa-bushes, which the dervishes found 
so useful as cover during the fighting, crawling like 
snakes from one to the other. 

Suakin was now in sight, and the excitement was 
great on board, as we did not know what reception 
we should meet with. For all we knew, the enemy 
might be in possession. Some one thought he saw 
smoke in the distance. Was it Suakin burning? 
Should we be able to get into harbour? Many 
were the conjectures. Captain Lewis, who had 
been very unwell all the voyage, was now quite a 
difterent man, looking forward with joy to more 
fighting. Suddenly we heard a cannon-shot ; and 
by looking through his glasses, Harry made out 
that a shell had been fired from Fort Handoub. 
Evidently Suakin had not yet surrendered. While 



SUAKIN. 25 

we were anxiously listening another gun was fired, 
this time from a man-of-war in the harbour. 

At about three o'clock we steamed into the 
sheltered little harbour, passing on the left the 
native cemetery, and on the right Quarantine Island, 
which contains the European graveyard. Before the 
anchor was lowered a crowd of natives, with long 
curious wooden spikes sticking in their curly heads, 
scrambled on deck ; and as soon as we were brought 
to. Captain Lewis went ashore, soon returning with 
Mr Bewley, the owner of a large house in Suakin, 
who kindly offered to put us up during our two 
days' stay. This offer we gladly accepted ; and 
after putting a few things together, we were rowed 
ashore. No one who has not experienced the dis- 
comforts of a small dirty Egyptian steamer can 
realise the delightful feeling of finding one's self 
in a clean and airy house. 

I was shown up to a big room opening on to a 
wide balcony overlooking the harbour. Two little 
black boys were deputed to wait upon us. With 
great trouble I got rid of them and began to unpack, 
but every few minutes the door was opened and 
a little black grinning face peered in. While we 
were at lunch we heard continual firing on all sides. 
Mr Bewley told us that H.M.S. " Grannet," at anchor 
not far off, had been firing the whole of the 
day before, but that now she was running short 
of ammunition, and was anxiously awaiting the 



Zb THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

arrival of another man-of-war. Most of the firing 
had to be done from the forts, situated at various 
distances from the town. About fifteen hundred 
dervishes were hidden in trenches, ready for an 
attack on the town, which was expected at any 
moment ; and it was believed that they had strong 
reinforcements on the hills to support them. Their 
sujDposed object was to make for Quarantine Island, 
on which were the condensers. The fresh water 
once in their possession, they knew full well the 
town would soon have to surrender. The hos- 
pital is built on that same island. Some nights 
before, the enemy had come quite close ; and tw^o 
prisoners, who were not so ill as they made out, 
escaped and joined them. Osman Digna used to 
mark any deserters from the Egyptian ranks by 
cutting ofi" a finger, so as always to know them. 
I do not know whether Osman Naib, who was then 
in command of the dervish force outside Suakin, 
carried out the same agreeable custom. This gen- 
eral had superseded Osman Digna by order of 
the Khalifa, by whom Osman Digna had at that 
time been recalled to Khartum. Two of the 
enemy had deserted the week before and come 
into the town. The trenches, they said, were full 
of the dead and dying, and with the heat were 
becoming pestilential. The . dervishes worked all 
night making these trenches, but stupidly dug 
most of them in a line with the forts, so that 



AMONG THE SUAKIN FORTS. 27 

the guns could sweep right clown them, causmg 
great havoc. 

This night-work was stopped by the electric light 
being turned on. It seems the first time the 
dervishes saw themselves all lit up by it there was 
a panic among them. 

After lunch Captain Lewis came to take Harry 
round the outer forts, one of which was not more 
than four hundred yards from the enemy's trenches. 
I was most anxious to go with them, but it w^as 
thought to be too risky, as casualties were con- 
stantly happening ; so during their absence Mr 
Bewley rowed me across to one of the nearer forts 
on the south side of the harbour, where, after making 
our way throuo^h the hedg;e of wire entano-lements 
that surrounded it, I followed him up a high and 
very lightly made ladder into the guard-room, and 
thence on to the parapet. There I got a good view of 
the enemy's intrenchments, in which the dervishes, 
looking like black specks, were moving to and fro. 
At the foot of the fort, just inside the town wall, 
was a tennis-court, in which a game was going on ; 
and as I could see it and the enemy's lines at the 
same time, the picture was a curious mixture of 
homely everyday life and the excitement of war. 
On the one side of the wall, the two men wholly 
absorbed in their game ; on the other, the fanatics 
only waiting for a favourable opportunity to rush 
and cut all our throats ; in the middle, the Egyp- 



28 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

tian soldiers in the fort, rather bored with their 
day on guard, and, purely as a matter of business, 
potting the Arabs as occasion offered. 

We were invited to dine at mess by Captain 
Lewis, and on our arrival at the roomy verandah 
overlooking the harbour were received by ten 
Enoiish officers. There were two other Q-uests — 
the Commandant and the Lieutenant of a French 
man-of-war at anchor in the harbour. I was at 
once introduced to them, and they were very much 
surprised to meet one of their countrywomen in this 
out-of-the-way place. The Commandant told me 
they had broken down in the Eed Sea, and put 
in at the nearest port, not knowing there were any 
disturbances. They steamed in straight for the 
farthest end of the harbour — as it happened, just 
placing themselves between H.M.S. "Gannet's" guns 
and the enemy. He laughingly said to me, " Every 
one thouofht that we were mad. I soon backed 
out, having been informed what was going on." 
We had a long talk about " La Belle France," and 
became great friends. 

Mr Gordon, General Gordon's nephew, was the 
moving spirit of the part}^ Always hard at work, 
at that time he was very busy putting up electric 
light on the big town gate, which he had built. 
He had also put up several telephones — one con- 
necting the mess-room with the " John Pender," the 
telegraph ship then at anchor in the inner harbour, 



HADENDOWA BOYS. 29 

which he set going to ask them to turn the electric 
lio-ht on the enemy for our amusement. Unfortu- 
nately something had happened, and it could not 
be done. 

A bevy of small Hadendowa boys waited at table, 
each more cheeky than the other. The smallest, a 
bright-eyed little monkey, who kept watching us, 
was a great pet of one of the officers. When 
he was asked which he thought was the nicest 
of us, he pointed at me, saying, " Zu takes the 
cake ! " Some time before, a boy had deserted 
to the enemy, and shortly afterwards his master, 
who had just returned from leave with some new 
uniform, finding himself at rather close quarters 
with the dervishes in a skirmish, heard a voice from 
the bush saying, "You've got them all on!" and 
looking up, recognised his former servant. 

After dinner Mr Gordon made the boys dance and 
sing music-hall songs. At ten o'clock we rowed 
home, glad to get a night's rest in comfortable beds. 

I was awakened very early by the continual 
firing, and as my bed faced the window, I could 
watch the forts enveloped in smoke. The two little 
black boys brought us all we required, and requested 
I would let them wash some clothes ; so I gave them 
a few pocket-handkerchiefs, hoping that would keep 
them quiet and out of the way during my dressing. 
No such luck 1 They were very soon back, and 
creeping in noiselessly, came and stood by my dress- 



30 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

ino'-table, where they amused themselves by exam- 
ining all the contents of my dressing-bag, poking 
each other in the ribs with delight ; but what seemed 
to fascinate them most was to watch me curl my 
fringe. I am sure they must have inspected the 
lamp with care after I had gone to breakfast. At 
nine Mr Bewley took me to see the town, which 
was kept most scrupulously clean by the convicts, 
whose morning duty was to sweep the streets. We 
met men carrying skins full of water, which they sell 
in small quantities. We passed over the drawbridge 
and causeway that connect the island of El Kaf, 
on which the Government buildings are situated, 
with the town proper. The shallow water beneath 
was black with little urchins grovelling in the mud. 
A little way farther on we reached the big square, 
where the day before two women had been killed by 
the enemy's shells. On the other side of this square 
stands one of the town gates. I was only allowed 
to walk two paces outside it, as one immediately 
becomes a mark for the dervishes, who are all day 
on the look-out for pot-shots. 

The remnant of the rolling stock of the Suakin 
and Berber Railway was at that moment returning 
from its round of carrying food and ammunition 
to the forts. It consisted of an engine and two 
carriao-es ; the driver was concealed and protected 
by sheets of iron, a very necessary precaution, as 
the enemy constantly fired at the train on its daily 



A GREEK FUNERAL. 31 

rounds, without however seeming to cause much 
damage. I shall always regret not having gone to 
the forts in it ; it would not have been a bit more 
dangerous than many other things I did during this 
journey. 

Walking home, Mr Bewley gave me a description 
of a Greek funeral he had attended the week before. 
The coffin was taken in a boat from the town across 
to the cemetery, where, after landing, the friends re- 
moved the lid, exposing the corpse to view ; it w^as 
that of a young bridegroom dressed in his wedding- 
suit, with his wife's bridal wreath of orange-blossoms 
tied round his forehead, her bouquet over his hands. 
All the friends stooped to kiss him three times, and 
then in turn poured claret, incense, and ashes over 
him. The body was then lowered into the grave ; 
and a friend being helped down, knelt on the corpse 
and tore the clothes from off it before screwing down 
the lid. To finish up this ghastly ceremony, they 
all drank liqueurs standing round the grave. 

Just before lunch the Governor-General, Colonel 
Holled-Smith, came to call on us, and invited us to 
dine with him that night. In the afternoon Captain 
Lewis took us in a boat to visit the "John Pender," 
on which we were shown the cables and dynamos. 
There w^ere tw^o delightful monkeys on board be- 
longing to a nice old sailor, who made them show off 
all their tricks. On leaving the "John Pender" we 
rowed back round Quarantine Island to the extreme 



32 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

end of the harbour, where H.M.S. "Gannet" was 
anchored. The Captain being on shore, Lieutenant 
James did the honours of his ship, and showed us 
the big gun which they had been using to fire at the 
enemy. With the help of a strong telescope the 
trenches were distinctly visible, and while standing 
on deck we saw a wounded soldier carried on a 
stretcher from one of the forts to the hospital. 
Similar casualties were constantly happening, al- 
though the firing had greatly diminished that day. 
During the night the enemy's fire always ceased. 

At eight o'clock we walked over to Government 
House for dinner. The only other guest was Cap- 
tain Bradford of H.M.S. " Gannet," a nice cheery 
sailor, delighted to have a chance of dining with 
his fellow-creatures. We were given an excellent 
dinner out in the cool verandah, a fresh breeze keep- 
ing the flies and insects away. It is rather dis- 
tressing, until one gets used to it, to find one's soup 
and wine black with them in a second. Before 
leaving, which we did soon after dinner on account 
of our early start next morning, our host showed us 
the improvements he had made in the house. 

September the 30th, 6.30 a.m., found us on board 
again, and steaming out saluted by the enemy's 
firing, which was incessant. In about half an hour 
we passed abreast of the place, between Suakin and 
Tamai where Baker's zereba was made in 1884, and 
M'^Neill's in 1885. Suddenly there was a great ex- 



APPEARANCE OF THE SEA-SERPENT. 33 

citement, the crew rushing to the side of the ship 
and eagerly pointing at something in the water. 
The Captain called us, and we hurried after him in 
time to see part of the body of some enormous sea- 
monster arching itself out of the water in a semi- 
circle, and only to be compared in appearance to the 
coils of a gigantic eel. The crew called it a hatan ; 
but if it was not our friend the sea-serpent, it must 
have been some near relation. The Captain told 
us he had seen it before alongside the ship, some 
hundred feet long. The large portion we saw 
certainly led us to believe there must be a great 
deal more under water. 

Though there was a strong breeze, the heat was 
intense, and the old divan was my one consolation ; 
I lay there for hours watching the Captain and the 
steward sitting on their heels playing backgammon. 
As we were passing abreast of Trinkitat, the latter 
kindly interrupted his game to point out to me 
several samhuks, mostly engaged in smuggling and 
the slave-trade, which was said to be very flourish- 
ing at that time. 

The heat in the night was intolerable ; everything 
damp, and our clothes were more fit to be wrung out 
than worn. Pitching was again added to all the other 
discomforts, and the wind was so strong against us 
that our poor little boat could only make four and 
a half knots an hour, so that all hope of reaching 
Massowah by daylight had to be given up. 

c 



34 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

It was seven o'clock in the evening and pitch-dark 
when we at length steamed into the harbour. The 
rows of lights on shore gave one the impression of a 
big town with many houlevards running in different 
directions. Several boats were soon distinctly visible 
making towards us, entirely lit up by the most vivid 
phosphorescence I had ever seen. It was a fairy-like 
scene, the oars starting ripples of light every time 
they were dipped in the water. Ibrahim told me he 
thouo[ht if we could that nio:ht interview General 
Bordighera, commanding the Italian troops, he might 
allow us to go and visit the fort at Saati, some miles 
inland. Being anxious to see as much of the country 
and its colonists as possible, we agreed to go ashore 
at once, and try what could be done. There was also 
another great inducement — an iced drink, which Ib- 
rahim said could be got at any of the little cafes on 
the wharf. The ice on board having been finished 
days before, we had suffered a good deal from the 
want of it. We left him no peace until he had got 
us a boat and escorted us to a regular Italian cafe 
with little marble-topped tables outside. 

The iced drink quite refreshed us, and having 
found out that the General's headquarters were on 
the other side of the harbour, we again got into 
our boat, and were rowed across to a well-built 
landing-place, escaping on the way several imminent 
collisions, thanks to the brilliancy of the phosphor- 
escent light, none of the boats having lanterns on 



MASSOWAH. 35 

hoard. Making for a large, square, whitewashed 
house with battlemented walls, we ascended a double 
flight of steps leading on to a terrace where sentries 
were walking up and down. Passing through large 
double doors, we were met by an officer, who received 
us most cordially, and after hearing our request, 
wrote an order which would enable us to see all we 
wanted, and gave us leave to go by the train which 
starts at an early hour every morning for military 
purposes. He told us at the same time, that as 
the General was out, he would take it upon himself 
to telegraph to the Colonel commanding the fort to 
be in readiness to receive us. 

We returned to our uncomfortable little ship, 
proud of our success. That night was the most 
terrible one we had as yet experienced. Sleep was 
out of the question; the sheets seemed to burn one's 
skin, and there was not a breath of air to relieve the 
feeling of suffocation. As Harry expressed it, " We 
were like pats of butter in July." Next morning 
Ibrahim, having taken French leave, accompanied 
us. Starting at 5.30, and passing on our way the 
picturesque old galleried hospital-ship " Garibaldi," 
we soon reached the landing-stage. 

The town presented quite a different appearance 
by daylight, being by no means so imposing as when 
lit up. All the European houses are small, and built 
on the quay, taking up most of one side of the har- 
bour. On reaching the little wooden pier leading to 



36 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

the station, we had to wait in our boat some time, 
the whole place being taken up by a large cargo of 
ice, the daily consumption of the Saati garrison. 
The station was a large hut, copied from those used 
at Suakin ; close to it were great store-houses. All 
the daily stores having been placed on the trucks, 
we started, our fellow-passengers being several non- 
commissioned officers and men, most of them looking 
pale and worn. We had to travel twenty-five kilo- 
metres to reach our destination. The first part of 
the journey was through an alluvial plain, which 
might well have been cultivated as far as Monkullo, 
but there wem only native camps dotted about with- 
out a vestige of vegetation near. Ibrahim told us 
that soon after the Italians came to Massowah 
a large fire broke out in the native quarters, which 
were entirely composed of huts. Since then all 
natives had been ordered to live in ]Droperly built 
houses, to which most of them objected, prefer- 
ring to camp out in the plain. The Italians have 
dug a good many wells for the benefit of their 
various forts ; and all the water in the town is 
brought by means of pipes from these wells, which 
are worked by horses. We stopped at several 
stations, or rather store-houses, to deposit provisions 
for the outlying posts. Leaving the plain behind 
us, we reached a rocky and hilly country, where 
we were shown Dogeli, the scene of the Italians' 
first battle against the Abyssinians. The line of 



THE ITALIANS AT SAATI. 37 

railway has been most skilfully made, notwitli- 
standing all the difficulties which must have been 
encountered. On reaching Saati station — well built 
and kept beautifully clean — we were received by 
a young officer, who in very good French told us 
that a telegram announcing our arrival had been 
received, and that his Colonel was at that moment 
coming down the hill to meet us. 

The Colonel soon appeared, a short, cheerful-look- 
ing man with white hair and charming manners, 
who at once made us welcome. His French was 
somewhat difficult to understand, but we soon be- 
came great friends. The young officer we had first 
met asked if I should mind riding a mule without 
a side-saddle, as the road was all up and down hill, 
and I should find it very hot walking. I was de- 
lio'hted at the offer ; so several mules were brought 
for the party, mine being led by a young soldier 
who had been chosen on account of his having 
been brought up in England : he told me that his 
father still lived in London, but that he had been 
obliged to return to Italy to serve his time in the 
army. Off we started, the Colonel leading the way 
up a steep hill, on the top of which was a battery 
containing six big guns, two Gardner guns, and 
a detachment"" of about one hundred men ; close 
by were the telegraph office, a pigeon-house full of 
pigeons — in case of siege — and the infirmary, con- 
taining twenty-four beds, of which nineteen were 



38 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

then occupied. There is always less sickness here 
than at Massowah, owing to the fresh breeze which 
is constantly blowing on this elevated spot. 

We then rode down a very steep place to a small 
iron bridge over a ravine, in which runs a Decau- 
ville line connecting an outlying pepper-box fort 
with the railway station. After crossing the narrow 
bridge, we climbed to the top of a second hill, 
where barracks are built for a company of infantry, 
with another battery containing ten guns pointing 
to the west, the direction in which the enemy last 
appeared. The soldiers were just receiving their 
rations of tinned meat, ice, and wine, with which 
they all looked very contented. From this hill 
we rode to a small plateau overlooking the railway 
station. Here was the soldiers' mess-hut ; opposite 
to it another hut for the kitchen ; and behind this a 
small theatre where the non-commissioned officers 
act every Sunday. The Colonel told me there was 
always great competition for the women's parts. 
Close to the theatre, on the brow of the hill, we 
were shown a life-sized statue of a soldier who was 
killed while fighting the Abyssinians, made in red 
clay by some of his comrades ; it was quite a work 
of art. On a separate little mound stands the 
officers' club, a j^i'etty, well -furnished little hut, 
with open verandahs all round ; in the centre 
was a large table covered with newspapers, and 
at one end a bar at which every kind of iced 



THE BARRACKS AT SAATI. 39 

drink could be bought. After partaking of the 
latter, we left our mules and walked across to the 
mess-room, a large airy hut, made, like all the 
others, of bamboo. The Colonel persuaded us to 
remain for breakfast ; and as the morning train was 
returning to Massowah in a few minutes, the 
officers all advised us to stop till the evening, and 
travel back in the cool, a proposition to which we 
gladly agreed. 

Breakfast being ready, and the punkahs in full 
swing, we sat down, twenty -two in alL The 
officer who sat next Harry was full of energy, 
and after we had finished an excellent meal, 
wanted to take us to see his company of Bashi- 
Bazouks ; but the Colonel said it was too hot, 
and that we must put it off till the afternoon. So 
after some cigarettes had been smoked, it being the 
usual hour for a siesta, our kind host took us to 
his hut, composed of two rooms, which he put at 
our disposal. He ordered the young soldier who 
spoke English to sit outside in case we required 
anything ; and he himself, before leaving, saw that 
everything had been properly prepared for us — a 
big w^ooden tub, a little camp-bed in each room, 
scent - bottles and articles de toilette beautifully 
arranged on the table. The hut had double walls 
of matting, and was kept perfectly cool by a 
strong breeze blowing through the passage be- 
tween them. 



40 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

We slept from eleven to three o'clock, and were 
only awakened tlien by our sentry informing us 
that the young officer had come with mules to take 
us to see his company; so dressing hurriedly, we 
soon mounted under a broiling sun. I was begin- 
nino- to wish the Bashi-Bazouks had never existed, 
when, on turning a corner, we came upon an Abys- 
sinian caravan which had just arrived. It was a 
curious sight : there were about five hundred dark, 
wild-looking men and women, their hair curiously 
entangled, and wearing little or no clothes ; the 
children, though very dirty, were bright-eyed and 
intelligent-looking. This was said to be the largest 
caravan that had passed since the Italian occupa- 
tion. There were a great number of camels and 
mules, which are used chiefly to carry the skins 
and dJmrra these people bring to the coast to ex- 
change for European wares. Our friend then took 
us to see his black soldiers, mostly very fine strong- 
looking men. Their women were in a separate 
camp at some distance from the men's huts. 

As the train started at 4.15, we went straight 
to the station, where the Colonel and other officers 
came to see us ofi". I was given a basket with 
oranges and lumps of ice : the latter turned out 
most useful, as in our carriage w^as a non-commis- 
sioned officer who that morning had had a sun- 
stroke, and appeared very ill. At the last station 
but one a young officer got into our carriage, and. 



GENERAL BORDIGHERA. 41 

saluting Harry, said in very good English he was 
the General's A.D.C., and had been sent by him to 
invite us to dinner. On reaching the pier he in- 
sisted on our getting into his boat, and being rowed 
to our ship to dress. Seven o'clock found us land- 
ing again near the General's c[uarters. 

The General, Antonio Bordighera, was waiting to 
receive us on the quay — a tall, dark, handsome man, 
with a firm look and soldier -like bearing. He 
graciously offered me his arm, and conducted us 
to the house w^e had called at on the previous 
evening, and which had been built as a palace by 
a brother of Arabi Pacha. At the top of the 
steps were a number of officers, to whom we were 
introduced eii masse. The General then led us 
into the dining-room, a large whitewashed room, 
placing me on his right hand and Harry on his 
left. The band, which usually played only on 
Sundays, was ordered out in our honour, and 
played beautifully during the whole evening. I 
told the General how I envied him having such 
good ice, and he asked if we had any on board ; and 
hearing that such a luxury had long been ex- 
hausted, he promised to send a hundred kilos the 
next morning, and kept his promise. He then ex- 
plained to me how^, their ice-machine having broken 
down tw^o summers ago at the very hottest time, 
they had persuaded their Government to make a 
contract with an English company, which sent them 



42 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

ice regularly from Norway, so that they might never 
be without a good supply, as, when the ice failed 
them, the men who were down with fever died from 
the want of it. None of the officers seemed the 
least disheartened by the bad climate and the 
many deaths that had occurred among them. The 
General said that the great thing was to keep all 
ranks well occupied, and that he had set the men 
to tree-planting and gardening. A good concert- 
room and theatre had been built for their amuse- 
ment in the evenings. The only guest besides our- 
selves was the Italian consul at Hodeidah, who was 
introduced to us as our future fellow-passenger. It 
was getting late when we took leave of our host, 
who insisted on escorting us to our boat. 

The next morning about forty Indian merchants 
came on board, and at 7.30 we started. The sea 
was perfectly smooth, and a strong south-east wind 
was most refreshing by day, but had its disadvan- 
tages when we slept on deck at night. To prevent 
my sheet from being blown away altogether, I had 
spread my dressing-gown over it, tucking it well 
in : I was somewhat aghast the next morning to see 
that the dressing-gown had been blown up into the 
rigging, and that one of the native passengers had 
spread his carpet within a yard of our mattresses. 
At 10.30 next morning we steamed into Hodeidah 
harbour. The Italian consul very courteously asked 
us to breakfast with him, adding that he was a 



HODEIDAH. 43 

coffee merchant, and could give us the best Mocha 
coffee that we had ever tasted. So it was settled, 
and his boat having come to meet him, he took us 
to the shore, which was a mile and a half off. 
The little pier was crowded with natives, a few 
Europeans, and a good sprinkling of Indian mer- 
chants. Our friend told us that they so rarely 
see European women that I must not be aston- 
ished at their following us. 

The little town has a very prosperous appear- 
ance ; bales of goods are to be seen in all parts, 
but the streets are far more dirty than at Jeddah, 
and altog-ether the natives look less civilised. The 

o 

houses seem well built, with fine carved doors and 
latticed windows. While waiting in the consul's 
dining-room for breakfast, I amused myself by 
watching a house being built just opposite. The 
masons were hard at work on the walls, which were 
already about 20 feet high. The mortar— a mixture 
of mud and sand — was prepared down below by 
young boys, and put into small round baskets, 
which they very cleverly threw up in the air with 
a circular motion ; these were caught by the masons, 
who, having emptied them at once, threw them 
down again; and so on, with great rapidity, and 
apparently no fatigue or effort. In the same way 
each brick was sent flying up in the air, immedi- 
ately caught, and put in its right place. Several 
women passed while I was looking out ; I noticed 



44 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

that they were more thickly veiled than at 
Jeddah. 

Besides ourselves at breakfast — which was very 
plain but good — were an Italian clerk, and a wicked- 
faced Italian who spoke French very correctly. He 
had been a surgeon in the Turkish army : a pretty 
sure sign that he had made things too hot for him- 
self at home. He told me he could procure me 
any number of cat's-eyes or moonstones, so I gave 
him an order for several dozen, but I never re- 
ceived them. When travelling in out-of-the-way 
parts, if you want a thing, lay hands on it at 
once or you will never get it : in this case he told 
me the stones would have to be brought from Sana, 
where he often went, and we were much tempted 
to go overland to Aden and visit that place, which 
the consul said was well worth seeing; but after 
talking it over, we thought it would be too tiring 
an undertaking for Harry, who was still an invalid. 

We were advised to have a native policeman to 
escort us about the town, and were also offered an 
Indian clerk who spoke English. Much against 
Harry's wish I accepted them both, he having a 
great dislike to the showman class. I, on the con- 
trary, rather like some one who can tell me about 
things. When the clerk arrived, he proved to be 
a shabby, mean-looking youth, with features exactly 
like a hawk, the same flat head, and nose hooked 
like a beak. We sallied forth, the policeman 



THE CONVICT OF HODEIDAH. 45 

behind, and a few steps in front " the Hawk," 
delusinof us with uninteresting information in a 
low unmusical voice. Everything was so mean and 
sneaky about the man that I could see it was all 
Harry could do not to dismiss him on the spot. 
He, however, contented himself with some sarcastic 
remarks, which the other either did not or would 
not understand. His one aim was to hurry us 
through the streets until we came to a miserable 
little European warehouse, to him the chief object 
of interest in the town. He informed us that over 
a hundred years ago an old woman lived in this 
place quite alone, keeping a coffee-house, no one 
ever going near her. " Then to whom did she sell 
her coffee ? " asked Harry in a very sarcastic tone, 
which was noticed by our guide, who nevertheless 
continued, saying her name was " Hodeidah," and 
" all this place came out of her," which he evidently 
considered a triumphant ending. 

Harry being most anxious to see a wretched man 
who had been chained to the ground for the last 
twenty years for some criminal offence, we passed 
through an open bazaar with nothing interesting in 
it, and came to a burial-place just outside the town, 
at the end of which was the prisoner. He was lying 
on the bare earth with no clothes or shelter, and a 
thick iron chain fastened to one foot. The kind- 
hearted inhabitants had often built him a shed, 
but no sooner was it done than he pulled it down. 



46 THE SEA OF ISLAM. 

There can be little doubt that he is mad. He 
is now looked upon as a martyr and a saint. It 
has become a superstition that if the inhabitants 
want to ensure success in any enterprise, they must 
supply him with food for a certain time. Harry 
having photographed him, we returned to our host, 
whom we found in his office, and who soon after- 
wards took us on board with a Parsee friend of 
his who was going to Aden, and for whom we at 
once conceived a violent dislike. I shall never forget 
the journey back in the dusk in the rickety open 
boat. The two boys set sail, and the boat heeled 
over so much that it was only by constantly 
shifting our positions that we saved her from 
capsizing. The tacking we had to do in order to 
reach the ship took us so far out to sea that we were 
buffeted unmercifully by enormous waves, which 
dashing; over the boat drenched us to the skin. 

On the morning of the 5th of October we left 
Hodeidah, the last port we were to touch at in the 
Ked Sea, and passed Perim Island on the afternoon 
of the following day. The place is English terri- 
tory, and is separated by a narrow channel from 
Sheikh Seyd on the Arabian coast, wdiere the Turks 
have built a fort which completely commands the 
island. The temperature had cooled considerably, 
being now only 88°. A strong current against 
us reduced our pace to four and a half knots 
an hour. The Captain expected we should reach 



ARKIVAL AT ADEN. 47 

Aden in the middle of the night ; but it was 
not til)f six o'clock next morning that we woke up 
and found ourselves at anchor off this fiery-look- 
ing spot. I, lying on my mattress feeling utterly 
tired out and unwilling to go below, never noticed 
that the sun was striking on my uncovered head, 
when suddenly feeling sick and giddy, I realised 
that I had got a touch of the sun ; so I hurried 
down, dressed, and packed all our things in readi- 
ness to leave the wretched little '' Messir " for good. 
Our Parsee acquaintance, who till then had been 
obliged to keep to his cabin, suddenly made his 
appearance, wearing his curious head-dress made 
of shiny American cloth shaped like an exaggerated 
mouthpiece of a whistle. He tormented Harry with 
all sorts of questions, and was most gushing in his 
offers to take us ashore ; so Harry came down and 
proposed that we should remain in hiding until, 
tired of waiting, the man had gone without us. 
Having the day before us, there was no necessity 
to hurry. We settled our bill with Ibrahim, who, 
I need hardly say, was a rogue of the first water. 
He made us pay £20 for our food alone, and having 
written out his bill in Arabic, he felt safe, especially 
as we had made no contract beforehand. 



48 



BOOK 11. 



THE LAND OF ROCKS. 



On the 7th of October we landed at Aden, a place 
so well known that I shall not describe it in detail. 
My first thought on seeing it was, " What shall we 
do with ourselves if we have to wait here several 
days for the next boat ? " As it turned out, we 
were quite sorry to leave it in the end. 

We secured at the Hotel de I'Univers a large and 
airy room, opening on to a long wide balcony, at 
the farther end of which were two beds entirely 
enveloped in mosquito-nets. We sat looking out 
until attracted by a little scratching noise on the 
wall close to my head. I discovered that it was 
caused by a scorpion, whom I at once tried to dis- 
pose of by pushing him over the balcony. The 
noise I made in my excitement must have been 
too much for the unnoticed occupant of one of the 
beds, who unceremoniously emerged from under the 
folds of his net and walked leisurely past us to his 
room. 




I' 






'• •si '" i 



. ^ I 



f- 



H 



Cii^*/^ /r I 



"1 



W 



-■f># 



AN OBJECTIONABLE PARSEE. 49 

The effects of the sunstroke were making me feel 
so ill that the nice, one-eyed old Arab servant who 
was seeing to our luggage proposed I should let 
him give me a foot-bath of mustard and hot water, 
which I agreed might do me good. He came back 
with all the necessaries, and was soon busy trying 
to induce me to put my feet in the scorching water, 
when the door was opened very quietly, and in 
glided our objectionable Parsee, who sat down un- 
invited opposite Harry. After a short silence he 
began asking innumerable questions about our plans. 
I could see it was all Harry could do to keep his 
temper ; luckily the breakfast-bell rang, so the man 
had to go. But his visits were not to end here ; 
for later on I was lying down while Harry was 
writing home letters, when in he came again, with- 
out knocking, and took possession of the most com- 
fortable chair, silently making an inventory of all 
our worldly goods. In vain Harry said that he was 
busy and I was ill, but our friend only answered, 
" Oh yes," and never stirred ; at last Harry, unable 
to stand it any longer, took up his hat, murmured 
something about posting letters, and showed him 
the door. 

Soon after, Harry went to write his name in the 
Governor s— General Hogg's — book, and as soon as 
he was gone, our old Arab came in and asked me in 
very good French " why that Pharisee was always 
walking into our room?" I told him I did not 

D 



50 THE LAXD OF EOCKS. 

know, and that I wished he conld stop him doing 
so. The old man shook his head threateningly, and 
promised to keep his eye on him; and certainly 
that one eye did its work well, for we never saw the 
detestable man again. 

Some time after, Harry returned, not having 
found the Governor; but a little later a message 
came from Government House saying General Hogg 
would like to see him. Finding we were likely to 
remain a few days, the Governor at once invited us 
to go and stay with him, which we did, spending 
ten happy days under his hospitable roof, taking 
life easily, so as to recruit our strength for the 
discomforts that were surely awaiting us. As we 
drove to Government House we passed him on his 
way to the town, where he had suddenly been 
called, the news having just arrived that the Somalis 
had attacked Berbera, which required the immediate 
despatch of a man-of-war, so that if necessary the 
British subjects might have the means of getting 
away. 

Usually in the early morning the General gave 
me a sketching lesson, I being only a beginner, and 
very anxious to make as many sketches as possible 
during our journey. Aden is a wonderful place for 
beautiful lights and shades. In the afternoons we 
drove — the first day to see the tanks overlooking the 
town proper. It is always supposed to rain only 
once every three years at Aden ; and this was the 



RAIN AT ADEN. 51 

end of the third year during which not a drop had 
fallen, so that the tanks were entirely dry, and we 
were able to see their great depth and the ingenious 
arrangements for catching every drop of water as it 
trickles down from the overhanging rocks. Oddly 
enough, two nights after, I was awakened by feeling 
a most refreshing drip falling on my face. The 
long -waited -for rain had come, making its way 
through the parched roof. I woke Harry, seeing 
most of our things were getting wet, but the only 
remark he made was, "Never mind. You cant 
stop it, so go to sleep again." It was so true, that 
the only thing left for me to do was to push my 
bed into a drier corner and keep quiet. The rain 
must have got into some of the bamboos and dis- 
turbed the white ants, which began increasing their 
already loud scratching. They are ingenious in- 
sects, and build lovely little mud tunnels, looking 
like veins, along the walls, wherever they cannot 
find ready-made dark passages. 

I had noticed that the Somalis often wore skin rugs 
thrown round them, and I was anxious to buy one ; 
so one day w^e did a little shopping, and, in spite of 
their decided smell, I was pleased to secure a couple 
made of antelope-skins, beautifully tanned, with the 
edges cut and plaited into long fringes. 

One evening we were taken to see some acting in 
barracks, and on another beautiful moonlight night 
we steamed about the harbour in the General's 



52 THE LAND OF ROCKS. 

laiuicli. That was the first time I had ever seen 
the Southern Cross, and I own I was disappointed, 
as I had quite expected something far more brilliant 
and definite in form. 

The morning of October the 17th found me again 
packing and getting ready for a start, with the help 
of " Qui hai," as, from hearing the General call 
him, I always named his Indian servant. I only 
found out afterwards that it was not the man's 
name at all, but simply the Hindustani for " Who 
is there ? " a call equivalent to " Come here." This 
of course remained a standing joke against me, like 
something of the same sort that happened to me up 
the Nile, where I w^as riding a donkey which was 
followed by its foal. The donkey-boy would con- 
tinually beat the poor beast, making it go too fast 
for the baby - legs to follow ; so airing my best 
Arabic, I said to him, '' Beshivaish" (gently), to 
which he replied, '' Hddir'" (meaning, '*I am here to 
obey your commands ") ; but this was a little beyond 
my Arabic, and thinking he was answering me in 
English, I said, " No, not harder, but softer." 

After lunch the General took us in his steam- 
launch on board the "Java," bound for Zanzibar. 
Some of my friends who know Aden will smile 
when I tell them we were very sorry to leave the 
shelter of its barren rocks ; but then perhaps they 
did not stay with that most charming and kind of 
hosts, General Hogg ; nor had they probably had 



ON BOARD THE "JAVA." 53 

the experience of sixteen days in the Red Sea in 
one of the hottest months, on such a miserable 
little cockle-shell as the "Messir." 

Our new Captain, a cheery old salt, took me down 
to see our cabin, which looked terribly small. The 
first thing that caught my eye was a large basin 
under my berth full of a moving mixture of treacle 
and live cockroaches ! I had been flattering myself 
that, now we were on board an English ship, I 
should no more be haunted by these brown mon- 
sters that come creeping all over one the moment 
the lights are put out, eating even one's boots and 
gloves : almost the only thing safe from their 
ravages being real Russia leather. I told the Cap- 
tain that nothing would induce me to sleep in my 
cabin, but he tried to console me by telling me 
they caught hundreds every night. 

I then took a look round at our fellow-passengers, 
and soon made out with the Captain's help who they 
all were. Two young men sitting together were 
Mr Gedo-e and Mr Jackson — the latter a naturalist 
— who were joining the East African Company. 
Then came two young missionary girls, chaperoned 
by a converted black boy of eight in European 
clothes. Besides these were two other missionary 
passengers — one a layman sent out to teach the 
natives to build houses, and the other a young 
clergyman full of energy at the thought of all the 
converts he was g;oino' to make. There was also a 



54 THE LAND OF ROCKS. 

German naval officer on his way to Zanzibar to 
take charge of a man-of-war; and lastly, a Turk, 
the ex-governor of Hodeidah, sent by his Govern- 
ment on a mission to the Sultan of Zanzibar. 

Every nook and corner in the forepart of the 
ship was taken up by Indian merchants and cargo, 
so that we could not get away from the stern ; and 
there being generally a head-wind, the odours that 
reached us were sometimes overpowering. 

I was thankful to find that besides our being 
allowed to sleep on deck, our meals were all served 
on the top of the big skylight, ingeniously converted 
into a table ; for, although the weather was very 
fine and warm, there was a continual chopping 
motion which very much upset some of us. 

That night the steward made up our beds by 
putting two long benches side by side, which re- 
minded me of a wooden cot. Harry and I had 
ours put under the lee of the Captain's cabin, 
while the missionary girls were settled alongside 
the skylight, on which the men's mattresses were 
strewed about. It always amused me to watch the 
layman taking possession of the place next the 
girls, and tucking in the one nearest to him, for the 
nights were very cold. After retiring to our cabins 
we all reappeared in our night -attire. The poor 
young women, being very shy and modest, always 
covered themselves with a lot of useless garments 
to make the journey from their cabin to their im- 



"THE THING THAT BITES." 55 

provised beds — wraps which, as soon as they had 
jumped in and got under the bed-clothes, had to be 
dragged out piece by piece. The worst of sleeping 
on deck w\as having to turn out so early on account 
of the swabbing which began at daybreak. This 
did not matter to the men, who walked about 
in pyjamas with bare feet till nearly breakfast- 
time ; but we poor w^omen had to go down to 
the fusty cabins and dress at once, feeling more 
dead than alive. 

We soon made friends with Mr Gedge and Mr 
Jackson. The latter had already been twice on this 
coast ; and after his first trip he was shipwrecked 
on his homeward journey, losing all his possessions, 
amongst them a valuable collection of birds and 
butterflies. He said that Eider Haggard's account 
of the shipwreck in ' She ' was founded on his 
adventure, and that "The thing that bites" in 
' Maiwa's Eevenge ' also really existed. It had 
been brought to the east coast of Africa by some 
Englishmen for the j)urpose of trapping lions ; and 
when they left the country they gave it to a chief, 
who made use of it to punish his concubines by 
putting one of their hands in and maiming them 
for life. The description he gave us of Kilima 
Njaro, and more esjDecially of Tavata, the settlement 
at its foot, made us seriously think of joining their 
party, and going so far with them ; but wdien he 
said it would take quite three weeks to get the 



56 THE LAND OF ROCKS. 

necessary things and porters together, we found 
our time was too limited. I am glad now we did 
not g-o, as, had we done so, we should — as it turned 
out — have missed our trip across Madagascar. 

On October the 19th we passed Cape Guardafui, 
and got our only glimpse of the Somali coast — an 
uninteresting mass of bare stratified rock, the ap- 
pearance of which fully justified the want of interest 
the land-grabbers of Europe have hitherto taken 
in this — nearly the only unannexed — part of the 
African littoral. So small is this interest, that 
Cape Guardafui— a point made by all ships bound 
southwards and eastwards from the Eed Sea — does 
not even boast a lighthouse. It, however, affords 
shelter to a nice little anchorage on its south side, 
which mig-ht be of use in the northern monsoon, 
but for the fact that the natives have an unpleasant 
habit of boarding all unarmed ships that bring up 
there, and murdering their crews. In justice to the 
Somalis, however, it is only fair to say that this 
custom originated in the behaviour of a certain 
crew, whose ship having got into difficulties put 
in for repairs, in which they were helped by the 
inhabitants; but on the latter demanding pay- 
ment, they were politely pushed overboard, and 
threatened with a closer acquaintance with the 
ship's muskets if they ventured to return. 



O { 



BOOK III. 



THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 



At 2.30 P.M. on the 23d of October we crossed the 
equator, and on October the 25th, at 8 a.m., we 
anchored at the entrance of Lamu harbour, the 
water being too shallow to admit of our going in. 
On our right was Manda Island, covered with low 
bushes and baobab - trees ; and on our left Sheila 
Point, the extreme end of which is a sandy hillock 
which used to be covered with skulls, the result 
of some native battle, but now only a few are to be 
seen, as most of them have been taken away by 
the doctors of the English coasting vessels. The 
town of Lamu could not be seen from our anchor- 
age, being hidden by the land jutting out into 
the harbour on w^hich Sheila village is built — a 
picturesque spot, its low square huts roofed with 
dried palm-leaves of rich grey and brown tints. 
Just behind the village is a grove of cocoa-palms, 
beneath which grows very luxuriant vegetation. 
The Captain telling us that we could not get 



58 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

away before niglit, Harry and I decided to land on 
Sheila Point, so as to leave the whole afternoon for 
visiting Lamu. There were several leaky, rickety, 
" dug-out " canoes round the ship, whose native 
crews wxre most anxious to take us ashore. We 
chose the safest-looking one, an outrigger less than 
two feet wide. It is difficult enough under any cir- 
cumstances to get into a canoe, still more so when 
it is a " dug-out" kept in continual motion by the 
sea. Having at last seized the right moment and 
safely jumped in, we found ourselves ankle-deep 
in water, with nothing to sit on but our wet heels. 
The owner set the sail, if it could be called a sail, 
being only about three feet square, and made out 
of dirty rags put together anyhow ; nevertheless, it 
tilted our canoe to a most unpleasant angle. As 
soon as her old cracked bottom touched the beach 
we were encircled by a troop of natives, all most 
anxious to carry us ashore, which they finally 
did. 

We had never met a more cheery lot of natives, 
amusing themselves like children with a baby por- 
cupine, which they abandoned to escort us through 
the village. I noticed it was the women who 
carried the water from the wells and did all the 
heavy work. We photographed a group round a 
well, a jDroceeding they did not at all appreciate, 
for most of them ran away; while some of the 
younger ones left their great round earthenware 




fMl -trl^l 







t t 



-%¥ 













LAMU NATIVES. 



59 



water-pots to follow us, dancing and singing round 
us. Most of them had the hem of their ears 
pierced, and a quantity of small silver rings in- 
serted. They also make a hole where earrings are 
usually worn ; and their object being to get it as 
large as the lobe of the ear will stretch, they insert 




Natives of Lainii. 



rolls of rags, and increase the size of the roll until 
the hole is as large as a two-shilling piece. Some of 
the richer ones had flat pieces of roughly worked 
silver fixed to these rolls. All the married women 
wore a small silver button passed through the nos- 



60 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

tril, taking it out only if tliey become widows. 
They all plait their short woolly hair in ridges 
going from the forehead to the nape of the neck, 
and the hair not being more than an inch long, 
the plaits lie flat to the head. I saw a few men 
sitting on their heels in one of the huts sewing, but 
most of them seem to spend their time smoking in 
their doorways. As we passed, they got up and 
came forward to shake hands with Harry in the 
most solemn and ceremonious way. 

After a rather perilous return journey we reached 
the vessel in time for lunch ; after which the Cap- 
tain sent us to Lamu in his boat. It took us 
three-quarters of an hour's sailing to get there. 
Opposite the town, and about half a mile from it, is 
a mangrove-swamp of a most beautiful green, which 
was very soothing to our eyes after the glare of the 
sea, but I fancy rather a dangerous neighbour to live 
near. 

We were carried ashore by the crew through 
deep mud and over heaps of decomposing matter, 
and found ourselves at the English Vice-Consulate. 
One wondered how any civilised being could live in 
this dirty unhealthy place, and yet I was told that 
Captain Haggard, who was consul here for some 
time, was quite sorry to leave it. One part of the 
town is composed of well-built Arab houses, whose 
overhanging upper storeys give a twilight gloom to 
the streets even on the brightest day. Most of the 



LAMU BAZAAR. 61 

commerce is carried on by the Indian community, 
who, whenever we passed any of them, ran into a 
doorway or crouched near the walls, dragging their 
children after them, I was told for fear of our casting 
the evil eye on them. AVe then walked through the 
native village and bazaar, causing great excitement 
— the women peeping at us from their huts, calling 
out, ''Bihi, scmiho" {" Grood day, lady") ; but if we ven- 
tured too near, they ran away laughing and scream- 
in o\ Most of the elder ones wore brig-ht-coloured 
cotton stuflfs thrown loosely round them, making 
them look very picturesque with their grey hair. 
The bazaar was a very poor affair ; the sellers 
squatted on the ground before the big, flat, round 
baskets, filled with seeds and roots of various kinds. 
Little red capsicums, looking like minute shrimps, 
seemed a favourite vegetable, if one could judge by 
the quantity on view. 

We met several Somalis, fine strong-looking men, 
who all wore daggers, beautifully mounted in silver, 
slung round their waists. Theirs, I was told, was 
the only tribe whose members were allowed to enter 
the town armed. Here, again, the men stopped us 
to shake hands. 

Having seen all the curiosities of Lamu, we went 
back to our boat, thankful to get afloat again. It 
took us over an hour to reach the ship, the men 
alternately rowing and landing to tow us. On 
our return we found on board a black man, dressed 



62 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

as an English clergyman, talking to our young mis- 
sionary, who looked extremely depressed, having 
just received orders to go up country with this 
companion, and take the place of an English mis- 
sionary at an inland station who with his wife had 
been murdered by the natives they were trying to 
convert. Our poor fellow-traveller had already been 
taken on shore, and shown the bed on which the 
victims had been murdered. It seemed to me a 
delicate attention on the part of the black mis- 
sionary, receiving the enthusiastic young one with 
all these details ! I have often wondered whether, 
before leaving home, these out-of-the-way places 
are described to would-be missionaries in glowing 
colours ; for I know they are not entirely at liberty 
to choose where they are to go, as one of the mis- 
sionary girls told me she had asked to go to the 
Mauritius, where she had friends, whereas she had 
been sent instead to the unhealthy east coast of 
Africa. 

Soon after we anchored, Mr Jackson and Mr 
Gedge started on a little shooting expedition to 
Manda Island — to unstiffen their legs, they said. 
They returned very tired, with one or two par- 
tridges, and the hoofs of the smallest gazelle that 
is to be found in Africa, which they gave me. The 
bag was hardly worth the long rough walk in such 
stifling heat. 

The next day, at 8 a.m., we got under way — a 



MOMBASA ISLAND. 63 

most glorious morning, with a cool breeze ; but no 
sooner had we left the shelter of Sheila Point than 
a heavy swell came on, making some of us feel we 
liked solitude ; and, selecting retired corners, we 
sat silently expecting the worst, which, alas ! often 
came. 

On October the 27th, at 8 a.m., we approached 
Mombasa, and steered straight for a pillar erected 
by A'asco da Gama ; then turning sharp to the 
right through a very narrow passage, we entered 
the lovely little harbour in which Mombasa Island 
is situated. In it was a ship at anchor belong- 
ing to the Sultan of Zanzibar, and lent by him 
to the East African Company to enable them to 
communicate with his island in case of emergency. 

The view of the island from the ship was lovely. 
The part of the town that overlooks the harbour 
is built on the crest of a high rocky bank rising 
abruptly from the water, in every crevice of which 
hung festoons of creepers laden with flowers of bril- 
liant colouring. The old fort, with its bastioned 
walls towering over all, looked most imposing, though 
probably useless against modern weapons. The 
houses, seen from the ship, appeared well built and 
clean with their whitewashed walls ; while a little 
to the right the native village spread itself under 
the shade of cocoa-palms and mango-trees. On the 
mainland, which is connected with the north of the 
island by a short causeway, is the mission station 



64 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

with its little houses built like Swiss chalets in 
beautiful park-like grounds. 

On the south side of the island is a very broad 
channel, which we were told will be the entrance 
when the new harbour is made, which, besides being 
more easy of access, will be far more sheltered and 
roomy than the northern one now in use. The 
coral-reefs fringing this coast make the entrances 
to all these ports very difficult. In the lagoons 
formed by them the water is most beautifully calm, 
but not always deep enough for vessels of any size ; 
so that only the native dhows can take advantage of 
them to carry on their coasting trade in all weathers. 
As soon as we anchored, the mission boat was seen 
putting off and coming towards us. In her was the 
founder of the mission and one of the ladies, who 
came on board to carry off to the fold the two 
young girls, their little black chaperon, and the lay- 
man. When they had left, the Captain took us 
ashore to see Mr Mackenzie, who was managing the 
British East African Company's base, and so was the 
connecting-link between the explorers and England. 
We landed on a steep stony incline, leading up to 
an open space overlooking the harbour, which Mr 
Mackenzie afterwards told us he intended to plant 
and make into a shady square ; then walking down 
a clean wide street, we soon reached the head- 
quarters of the Company, a good -sized, white- 
washed, airv Arab abode. 



EXPLORERS AT MOMBASA. 65 

While we were sitting with Mr Mackenzie, three 
men came whom there was no mistaking for any 
persons but explorers. The first we were intro- 
duced to was Count Teleki, a tall handsome man, 
with a charming, weather - beaten, sunburnt face, 
hair cropped quite short, wearing an Arab skull- 
cap, his flannel shirt unbuttoned in front, and 
sleeves rolled up over the elbows. I was told after- 
wards that when he and his companions arrived at 
Mombasa after two years of hard travelling up 
country, they had worn all their clothes to rags, 
and that the Count had made his entry into the 
town in a pair of curiously made red cotton 
breeches, and nothing else. He owned that, find- 
ing himself so near civilisation with only rags to 
his back, he allowed two of his men to put together 
this useful and picturesque-looking garment. 

His companion, Herr von Hohnel — a young naval 
officer who had been sent by the Crown Prince of 
Austria to survey the country — was a tall, intelli- 
gent-looking young man, who looked quite civilised 
in a good European suit of clothes which he had 
taken the precaution of leaving at Mombasa on his 
way up country. They undertook this journey to 
try and discover the actual position of the Lake 
Samburu in the Massai country, and found there was 
no such thing as a Lake Samburu, but that Sam- 
buru was the name of a district in which were two 
lakes. I unfortunately have forgotten the native 

E 



66 THE LAXD OF BONDAGE. 

names, but they meant the "Black" and the 
'' White " Lakes. Count Teleki rechristened them 
Lake Eudolph and Lake Stephanie, by which names 
they now appear on the map. The explorers had 
several times to fight their way, having encountered 
various unfriendly tribes who would not let them 
proceed. 

The third man to whom Mr Mackenzie introduced 
us did not belong to their party, and it was only 
afterwards we heard all about him. He had ar- 
rived the day before from Kilima Njaro, where he 
had been sent by the German East African Company 
the year before ; and when the quarrels began with 
the natives, he, like all the others, came down to the 
coast, thankful to escape with his life. He looked 
C|uite the wild man of the woods, with his long hair 
and beard, and a little monkey nestling in his arms, 
a faithful little companion that he had taken up 
country with him, and that never left him. 

He was said to be a Pole, whose father had been 
sent to Siberia for some political offence, and whom 
the son had succeeded in rescuing, when they were 
overtaken by Cossacks, who shot the father. The 
boy roamed about Siberia, keeping himself alive for 
seven years by the help of his gun ; but at last he 
managed to escape to Austria, where later on he 
accepted the offer of the Germans to join their Com- 
pany in Africa. 

I have rather drifted from my description of 



MOMBASA. 67 

Mombasa. Mr Mackenzie sent us to see the place 
with a black boy, who asked Harry at once if he 
was ever in the Sudan. It turned out that he was a 
Sudanese, who had been up the Nile during the 
fighting, and thought he recognised Harry. He 
took us through a street where all the shops were ; 
but finding nothing interesting, we walked on till 
we reached the outskirts of the town. There the 
thick and luxuriant veo-etation, with its tanoie of 
creepers from tree to tree, effectually blocked the 
way, and obliged us to retrace our steps. 

Coming back, we met our Captain in the town, 
who told us we must start early that afternoon. 
I was very much disgusted at this news, as Mr 
Mackenzie had promised to take us to the other 
side of the island and show us the new slave settle- 
ment he was forming. A great number of slaves 
had been captured and sent there the day before, 
and he offered me one of the little black boys to 
take back to England with me, an offer I thought it 
advisable not to accept. 

Again we were nearly tempted to go up country, 
Mr Mackenzie asking us to accompany him on his 
trip to the first settlement belonging to the Com- 
pany ; but the limited time at our dis230sal again 
forced us to refuse. All the Arab houses in Mom- 
basa had massive carved doors, and we were anxious 
to buy one to send home ; but, thanks to our restless 
Captain, we had no time to do anything. 



68 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

We got back in time to say good-bye to Mr Geclge 
and Mr Jackson, who were disembarking there, 
and soon afterwards I was most interested in watch- 
ing the Count and his escort coming on board ; it 
consisted of about one hundred and fifty blacks, 
the survivors of the two hundred he had taken 
from Zanzibar. The Count tokl us they had 
suffered terribly from famine, and that that was 
the cause of the death of most of the men he 
had lost. His head man was the intelligent So- 
mali who accompanied Stanley on his first expe- 
dition — such a clever handsome face, looking very 
picturesque with his many - coloured scarf thrown 
loosely round his head. I photographed him, as 
well as three of their cannibals — strong, muscular, 
square -shouldered men, with as little clothing on 
as possible, grinning from ear to ear, showing such 
splendid rows of white teeth. 

It will be a great feather in the Englishman's cap 
if he can establish this new East African Company 
without any serious fighting, considering that all 
those who have been there before have had to fight 
their way through the country. Mr Jackson told 
us one day, when we were discussing the char- 
acter of the natives of this coast, that they were 
really very easy to get on with, if one only took 
the trouble to understand them and treat them 
kindly. 

The news had come some days before that a 



THE GERMANS IN EAST AFRICA. 69 

German missionary had been made prisoner farther 
down the coast, and that a ransom had been de- 
manded. Not long ago three German sailors de- 
serted and went up country in emulation of Rud- 
yard Kipling's heroes, with the intention of form- 
ing a little kingdom of their own, but fared even 
worse than their antitypes ; for the natives not only 
killed them, but roasted and ate a piece of each, the 
belief being that if they eat a bit of a white man, it 
imbues them with his knowledge and power. 

The Germans seem to be too unbending to get on 
well with the natives, and although they may suc- 
ceed in establishing themselves by force, will, I fancy, 
always have to exercise it to keep their position. 
The officials of the British East African Company, 
on the contrary, are doing their best to make their 
presence desired : for instance, one of Mr Mackenzie's 
first acts on arriving at Mombasa was to build a new 
mosque as a substantial proof of British tolerance. 
A good deal of care and tact was required in the 
then state of affairs. Nevertheless this picturesque 
little place will some day be very important, and 
before long the English will have made a line of 
railway which will enable one to skim over the 
unhealthy band of the coast, and find one's self on 
healthy ground with plenty of big game, which will 
soon become a necessity to the Englishman, whose 
one pet home sport seems to be marred by barbed 
wire. 



70 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

Dinner that day was enlivened by our new fellow- 
passengers, who appeared most amused at coming 
back to civilised ways. The Count, while smoking 
his pipe that evening, gave us a most interesting 
account of his journey, describing that they had 
got as far as a place which Emin Pacha's outposts 
had reached. 

On wakino; on October the 28th. I was delioiited 
to find that we were in smooth water, having 
entered the channel, thirty miles wide, which is 
between Zanzibar and the mainland. The latter 
looked flat and uninteresting in the far distance, 
while the island of Zanzibar, close on our left, was 
hilly and covered with well-grown trees and thick 
bush. On one of the hills a big house was pointed 
out to me which had been built by the late Sultan 
for his many wives, on his return from Bombay, 
where he had been exiled by one of his thirteen 
brothers, and had there acquired civilised ideas. 
These to some extent he tried to work out in his 
little kingdom when, after his brother's death, he 
resumed his reign. At his own death he left each 
of these wives a small private fortune and the big 
house to live in all together. 

At 11 A.M. we dropped anchor a short distance 
from the town of Zanzibar. Several English and 
German men-of-war were already in the harbour, 
collected there on account of the disturbances that 
were continually springing up on the mainland, and 



ZANZIBAR. 71 

our fellow-passenger, the German officer, received 
an order from his Admiral that he was to take com- 
mand at once, and go and inspect some place down 
the coast. 

Havino^ sent the letter of introduction General 
Hop'o: had o;iven us for the Consul-General, Colonel 
Euan Smith, we decided to wait for the answer 
before going ashore ; so I set to work and sketched 
the to^'U, which looked very picturesque, although 
rather spoilt as a picture by the Sultan's hideous 
palace, — a high, square, whitewashed building, with 
a narrow wooden gallery running round the first 
floor, looking entirely out of proportion to the rest 
of the buildino;. It was a decided contrast to the 
English Consulate. This was built on the extreme 
point of land, so that the waves were ever dashing 
themselves on to the walls of the terraced walk 
surrounding the house ; and, unlike the palace, it 
had a wide, covered, and cool - looking verandah. 
The Captain told me the latter had been added by 
Colonel Euan Smith, and that it had certainly im- 
proved the look of the house, as well as making it 
cooler inside. Not far from the palace was a most 
hideous erection of brick and mortar in the shape 
of a dhow, which the late Sultan had had con- 
structed as a tank, resting on the ground, looking 
more than anything like a gigantic sarcophagus. 
This Sultan was, from all I heard about him, fond 
of spending his money and starting new ideas. 



72 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

He had sent to Europe for an ice-machine, and had 
electric light put on the top of a tower, both of 
which soon got out of order, when, having no one 
among his people who could repair them, he let 
them go to pieces. He had also a curious mania for 
clocks, and ended by hanging numbers of them 
round his reception-room. I only hope, for the sake 
of his visitors, they were not all kept going at the 
same time. Imagine cuckoo-clocks, chimers, and 
others let loose in the same room, trying to keep 
pace with each other ! 

I noticed not far from the "Dhow" tank the 
English flag-staff planted in the ground, while those 
of other nations were on the roofs of their repre- 
sentatives' houses. It was explained to me that 
this permission to plant the English flag in the 
ground was a special mark of the Sultan's favour. 

My sketch finished, I amused myself watching 
Count Teleki and his escort go ashore. It was a 
wonderful sight to see all his ivory piled up, nearly 
covering the whole quarter-deck ; some of the tusks 
were over eight feet long ; and there was besides a 
great collection of heads and skins, which were very 
pretty. His men were all the time singing and 
laughing, delighted to get back after their two years 
of hardships up country. 

Early in the afternoon an invitation came from 
the Consul-General, asking us to go on shore and 
dine with him and his wife, and expressing a regret 



VISIT TO THE CONSULATE. 73 

that their one spare room was occuj^ied till the fol- 
lowing day, when he hoped we should go and stay 
with them until the arrival of the Messageries boat, 
which was to take us to Madagascar. The heat and 
glare on the ship were so trying, that we gladly ac- 
cepted our Captain's offer to take us ashore at once. 
Landing at the little pier of the British Agency, 
we soon found ourselves in a cool and wide inner 
passage on the first floor, encircling and overlooking 
a covered central court. There we w^ere received by 
Mrs Euan Smith, her husband being busy wdth the 
mails which we had brought. I cannot describe my 
delight in sitting comfortably at the tea-table, with 
everything pretty round me ; for there were some 
lovely things in the house which our hosts had 
brought from India. We were introduced to the 
private secretary, Mr Berkeley, and to the Yice- 
Consul, Mr Churchill ; and, soon after. Admiral 
Fremantle and Colonel Euan Smith joined our 
cheery party. As most of them were going to 
church, and I was advised not to go myself on 
account of the stuffy heat, I was very glad when 
Colonel Euan Smith proposed he should take us 
for a drive in one of the Sultan's carriages. That 
potentate kept about a hundred horses, only re- 
serving for his personal use six white thorough- 
breds, and willingly lending any of the others 
to whoever asked for the loan of them. So we 
started in a comfortable landau, on what seemed 



74 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

to me a most perilous journey for any inhabitants 
that happened to be walking in the narrow streets. 
Our native driver simply charged down upon them, 
turning the sharp corners as one would in a sleigh, 
shouting at the top of his voice to the people. At 
one moment I thought we must run into a group 
of women sitting round a little bonfire, over which 
they were cooking and selling fish ; but by some 
miracle they escaped, as we all did, and soon after, 
we had left the town behind us. 

After passing the barracks, built on an open 
grassy space, we drove along a lovely road, over- 
hung on both sides with large mangoes, palms, 
bamboos, and many other sorts of trees and shrubs. 
Everything seemed to me to grow to a huge size ; 
even the snails with their pointed spiral shells were 
quite three inches long, and four in diameter. The 
mangoes looked at their best, covered as they were 
with their large plum -shaped fruit. No other trees 
to my mind came up to them in shape or colouring, 
having, as they always do, the autumnal and spring 
tints growing at the same time ; and curiously 
enough, these patches of tender green did not seem 
out of place against the background of dark-green 
and autumnal shades. One tall tree attracted my 
notice, as I had never seen it before : it is called the 
papaw-tree, and has a tall bare stem like that of a 
palm, with marks all up it left by the old leaves 
dropping off, and right up at the top was a bunch 



A DRIVE IX ZAXZIBAR. 75 

of large green leaves cut out and shaped like a 
fig-leaf, nestling under whicli were clusters of fruit 
exactly like green figs. This fruit when green is 
cut in half, and the milky- white juice it gives out 
is rubbed on meat to make it tender. 

A summer residence belonging to Colonel Euan 
Smith was the object of our drive : it was a little 
house surrounded by well-laid-out grounds, which 
had all been planned and planted by his predecessor, 
Sir John Kirk. Everything had grown so rapidly 
that it had become too deeply shaded, and felt damp. 
After going to see some wonderful coffee-plants with 
berries three times the usual size, and a plantation 
of pine-apples, we walked to the edge of a slope 
overlooking the sea, whence could be seen a lovely 
view of the bay, with the projecting tongue of land 
on which the town is built, charmingly lit up by 
the setting sun. Never having tasted the juice of a 
fresh cocoa-nut, a native was sent to climb a palm- 
tree for one, making him look more than ever like 
a monkey. On his returning with the nut, it was 
cracked, and a hole was made in it, through which 
I sucked the transparent tepid juice. I cannot say 
I appreciated it. I had fondly imagined it was thick 
and white, like milk, and tasted strongly of almonds ; 
but no such thing, and one sip was sufiicient to 
satisfy me that I did not like it. Had it been kept 
on ice for some hours, and had I been very thirsty, 
1 might have thought more highly of it. 



76 THE LAXD OF BONDAGE. 

We went a different way home, so as to have a 
look at a summer residence built by the late Sultan, 
an imposing-looking building, which it made one sad 
to see on closer inspection, as here again all was 
going to rack and ruin. Not being able to get into 
the house, we walked about the grounds, where a 
start had once been made to mark and plant out 
a nice garden, which was then left to become a 
wilderness. Strewed all over the place were drain- 
pipes which had been intended to carry the water to 
two enormous uncovered tanks, built side by side 
as swimming-baths, against the east end of the 
house, and having flights of steps to go from one 
to the other. Why there should have been two 
of these swimming-baths, one next the other, 
I cannot imagine, if it was not that the author 
of these brilliant ideas preferred to do everything 
regardless of expense. Near the front door — like 
preparations for a fair — were swinging-boats and 
a huge merry-go-round, all in good preservation. 
The guardian of the place set the organ going, 
which immediately struck up " The March of the 
Men of Harlech." 

We got back a little after dark, the hedges lit 
up with thousands of fireflies illuminating our road, 
and producing a beautiful fairy-like scene without 
the little fairies, who I felt would have been quite 
in keeping had they appeared. 

That night, after the luxury of one of the best 



DINNER AT THE CONSUL's. 77 

dinners I ever conld wish to taste, and some very good 
music — our hostess being a real artist on the piano 
— I found it hard to have to return to our moving 
home, alive as it was with cockroaches. It did not 
take me long to undress that night, and rushing up 
on deck, treading on a goodly few of these monsters, 
I took refuge in my improvised bed, where even in 
the open air the heat was so suffocating that sleep 
was out of the question. 

The next morning I joyfully finished our final 
packing, and bade adieu to the "Java"; being, all 
the same, sorry to leave our kind Captain, who had 
done all in his power to make us comfortable. As we 
were being rowed ashore a welcome and homelike 
sound reached us, "God save the Queen" being 
played on the Admiral's ship. 

In the afternoon Mrs Euan Smith took me out 
in her pony-cart. Passing the mission, I saw a 
number of little black boys dressed in European 
clothes playing football. The missionaries educate 
and keep the boys and girls till they are thought old 
enough to marry. Then having chosen among 
themselves mates suited to their own tastes, they 
are given a bit of ground to cultivate, on which they 
erect a little hut, and are there left to increase the 
community of little black Christians to their hearts' 
content. 

That evening we dined on board the flag-ship, and 
had a most cheery time. The Admiral settled to 



•78 THE LAND OF BONDAGE. 

come and fetch me next day, and take me to see a 
clove-plantation ; so having secured another carriage- 
and-pair of the Sultan's, we set off, passing through 
the northern end of the to^Yn with the sapie reckless 
sort of driving. Some of the streets were much 
broader, and lined on both sides with little shops, 
mostly containing European goods. Here I noticed 
that many of the women wore broad silver anklets, 
which, from the way they dragged their feet after 
them, appeared to be very heavy. These slow 
movements greatly accentuated their usual look of 
indolence. The inhabitants of this island are such 
a mixed race that it would take pages to describe 
them, but I fancy the Arab blood predominates. 
Having got to the plantation, thickly planted with 
clove-bushes, the fruit of which was beginning to 
ripen, making the air heavy with its strong aromatic 
perfume, we got out and walked about along the 
shaded paths, collecting many curious little plants. 

That evening, when dining with Mr Churchill, 
I was told of a sad tragedy that had happened not 
long before in Madagascar to a German naturalist 
and his wife. After landing at Tamatave and col- 
lecting their porters, they started for the capital. 
Taking advantage of a wild uninhabited part, their 
men stopped and asked for more money, which we 
are told is a way they have, and that it is always 
best to give in to them in moderation, as one is 
entirely at their mercy ; but instead of doing so. 



A TRAGEDY. 79 

the rash naturalist threatened them with his gun, 
which simply made them take to their heels. After 
waiting a long time and finding the porters had 
deserted them, he told his wife to wait for him 
w^hile he w^alked on in search of a village where 
he could get other natives. The day passed, and 
he never returned. Still she w^aited for fear of 
missing him, when on the second day her baby 
died. After burying it in the sand, she determined 
to retrace her steps in search of their last halting- 
place — many weary miles back — which she reached 
at last, and remained there till she was found 
by other travellers, who took her up to Antanan- 
arivo, where after some time her husband turned 
up, having on leaving her completely lost his way. 

As we had found it rather unpleasant walking 
in thin shoes in the pitch-dark street, Mrs Euan 
Smith and I went home in a sort of chaise a 
j^orteurs carried on men's shoulders, making one 
feel rather top-heavy. 

Every morning on getting up I looked out of 
my window to see if the Messageries was signalled, 
always hoping the evil day was not yet come 
when we should have to leave our comfortable 
quarters ; but it came at last. 



so 



BOOK lY. 



THE ISLAXD OF MYSTERY. 



Ox the 1st of November a message arrived that we 
were to sail at 1 p.m. After taking leave of our kind 
hosts, we went on board the "Amazone," escorted 
by Mr Berkeley. At the head of the gangway the 
Captain — Commandant Masset — received ns most 
graciously, and the French Consul, Monsieur Lacaux, 
whom we had met on land, came forward and in- 
troduced us to Monsieur Le Myre de Vilers, the 
French Eesident - General in Madagascar, a tall, 
handsome-looking middle-aged man, who welcomed 
us like old friends. When Monsieur Lacaux told 
him we were anxious to see as much of the Mala- 
gasy island as was possible, he kindly volunteered 
to take us under his protection, which offer he cer- 
tainly carried out, and we can never be sufficiently 
grateful to him for all the trouble he took about us. 
The size of the "Amazone" delighted me, as did 




MONSIEUR LE MYRE DE VILERS. 



THE "AMAZONE" and HER PASSENGERS. 81 

our scrupulously clean and airy cabin, opening into 
the spacious and comfortably furnished saloon. In 
this ship I felt we should at last have plenty of 
room to walk about, although — as is always the case 
in French ships — the second-class passengers are 
allowed on all parts of the deck, thus crowding up 
the first-class accommodation. Those on the " Am- 
azone " chiefly consisted of Mauritius trades-people 
returnino' from visitins^ their French relations. 
Their children were most trying ; and the w^orst of 
them all was a weedy spoilt boy who was continu- 
ally sneaking round one's chair, treading on or 
knocking against one's favourite corn, while his 
peevish mother was for ever screaming after him 
in a voice that set one's teeth on edge. He would 
then attack the poor old seafaring piano, always 
left on deck, and with one finger bang out the old 
familiar tune, " J'ai du hon tahac dans ma tahatih^e," 
to the delight of his adoring parent. I fear I was 
less admiring, and would willingly have wrung his 
scraggy little neck. 

It was soothing, on the contrary, to watch the 
Sceurs de Charite, with their gentle movements and 
contented peaceful expressions, spending most of 
their time tellino; their beads. One of them was a 
very pretty young girl — as some of the ofticers 
seemed also to think, for they were often having a 
chat with '' Ma Sceur," who looked so bashful and 
bewitching under her spotless, large, white linen 

F 



82 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

cap with its turned -up points. Her destination, 
poor thing ! was to spend the rest of her life on the 
deadly coast of Madagascar. There is something 
very beautiful in the thought of these young nuns 
leaving their native land and going out to such 
unhealthy climates, there to remain as long as they 
live — and some do live to a good old age up country, 
but rarely on the coast. 

The first day on board, while walking up and 
down the deck, our attention was attracted by over- 
hearing English spoken by a man and woman. The 
latter Harry recognised at once by her dress as a 
Malay from the Cape. We were very much puzzled, 
wondering what they could be doing on this French 
ship bound for Mauritius. I determined, if a chance 
offered itself, to enter into conversation with her, 
which occurred the next day. As I was taking a 
look round the second-class cabins I passed her, and 
gathered that she was trying to make the steward 
understand that she wanted some soup for an in- 
valid. As she evidently could not speak a word of 
French, and he was equally ignorant of English, I 
stopped and offered to interjoret for her. After I 
had explained to the man what she wanted, she told 
me the soup was for her sister-in-law, pointing to a 
very delicate-looking woman, who, unlike my dark 
friend, had a pure white skin, but was attired in the 
same Dutch-Malay fashion — a coloured cotton print 
dress, inflated by an exaggerated crinoline, the bodice 



A MALAY FAMILY. 83 

and skirt all in one, shoulders covered by a bright 
silk handkerchief folded in a point, and another to 
match encircling the head and forehead, passing 
behind the ears, entirely hiding the hair, and crossed 
loosely under the chin. The dark one turned out 
to be most communicative, and after asking me to 
sit down with them, she explained that they were 
on their way home from Mecca. Her husband, who 
was also on board, was a well-to-do livery -stable 
keeper and cab - proprietor at Kimberley. They 
had for some time contemplated making the great 
Mohammedan pilgrimage ; and being also anxious 
to see the capital of England, decided to go 
to Mecca via London, taking with them their 
little daughter of nine, and their young sister-in- 
law, whose husband undertook to carry on the 
business at home in their absence. They had ac- 
complished both the pleasure-trip and the pilgrim- 
age ; but harrowing were the descriptions they gave 
me of the miseries and hardships they had to con- 
tend with. The dark one told me in a curiously 
happy tone that her little girl had died on the way 
back, but that she could not mourn for her, as she 
had luckily died after the pilgrimage was over. 
She then told me that her companion, a few days 
before reaching Yembo — they having done the 
double pilgrimage of Mecca and Medina — gave birth 
to her first-born, and that it was with great diffi- 
culty that she had been revived sufficiently to reach 



84 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

the coast. I could well imagine the sufferings of 
the poor woman laid up in the desert, with no re- 
sources, and obliged to keep moving towards the 
coast, riding on a camel — a beast that at the best 
of times shakes you till you feel like a bagful of 
loose bones. At Yembo they apparently took a 
ship at haphazard, which landed them at Aden, 
where they had been -advised to take the French 
boat to the Mauritius, whence they were told they 
would get the English steamer bound for the Cape. 
Eather a round-about way, it seemed ! 

I had often heard travellers complain that they 
never got enough food on French boats. It was cer- 
tainly not the case on the " Amazone " ; for in the 
morning an excellent cup of coffee was brought to 
us before getting up, dejeuner a la fourcliette was 
served at eleven, and at half-past one there was cold 
luncheon for any one who wished for it ; at four 
o'clock, tea ; at seven, a first-rate dinner ; and a 
good cup of coffee to finish up wdth, which the 
Captain often asked us to drink in his cabin, where 
he always kept a good supply of most excellent 
liqueurs, to which he treated his favourite pas- 
sengers. At nine we finished up with tea and 
biscuits, or im grogue for those who preferred it. 

Having been introduced to Monsieur le Vicomte 
d'Anthouard — Monsieur de Yilers's secretary — and 
to Monsieur George, the French Chancelier at Tama- 
tave, we five made a select little circle, and often 



MAYOTTA ISLAND. 85 

discussed the _^9ro5 and cons of our Madagascar trip ; 
Monsieur de Vilers being most keen about our 
undertaking to cross the island from east to west, 
going as far as the capital with him. The diffi- 
culty was to get from the west coast of the island 
back to Africa, there being no communication from 
that side except by native dhows. We, however, 
made up our minds to go, and take our chance of 
finding some boat to carry us across the Mozam- 
bique Channel. 

Early on the second morning after leaving 
Zanzibar we sighted the green slopes of Mayotta 
Island, one of the largest of the Comoro group, and 
by eight the low black cliffs in which they termin- 
ated had risen well above the water. Closely skirt- 
ing the land until we reached the eastern end of the 
island, we turned to the right, and wound our way 
through the reefs which nearly bar the narrow 
channel between it and Zaoudzi Island, to the 
north-east of which we dropped anchor. While 
entering the harbour our most erratic of Captains 
nearly ran down a native boat. The poor owners 
were in a terrible fright, but the Captain, taking 
it for granted that the natives must always make 
way, never even slackened his pace, and carried 
away their sail and broke their rudder. 

From our anchorage the three islands of this group 
were well in view : Mayotta, green and hilly, dotted 
with sugar-plantations and red-roofed white houses 



86 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

nestling under tall trees : Zaouclzi, a mere rocky 
islet, which has attained an undue importance by 
being selected as the headquarters of the French 
settlement, and contains the Government buildings, 
coal-sheds, workshops, &c. : and Pamanzi, a minia- 
ture repetition of Mayotta, connected with Zaoudzi 
by a stone causeway running across the shallow 
channel, and broken by two rocky islets. 

There were two French men-of-war at anchor in 
the harbour : " Le Destin," commanded by Com- 
mandant Michel, then acting as Admiral of the 
station; and " Le Beautemps-Beaupre," commanded 
by Commandant Le Dos. We met the latter at 
lunch, he being a great friend of our Captain ; and 
as he had asked us to visit his ship, we promised to 
go and see him after we had been ashore : so he 
settled to send his boat to meet us on our return. 

A few strokes of the oar broug;ht us to the 
little stone pier. Passing several Government 
wharfs, we came to the Place, out of which runs a 
short wide street, where there was one shop, a cafe, 
grandly called '' Hotel de France," the hospital, and 
the barracks. At the end of the street, turning to 
the right, we found ourselves in " L'Allee des Crabes," 
as the before-mentioned causeway is called. Having 
plenty of time, and seeing that the two little rocky 
islets were inhabited, we strolled on. The first con- 
tained an Arab village, whose inhabitants looked 
clean and healthy. We were so accustomed to 



A FRENCH SETTLEMENT. 87 

hearing the natives salute us in English wherever 
we had been, that it seemed funny to hear them say, 
" Bo7ijour, monsieur.'' Continuing our walk along 
the next bit of causeway as far as the second islet, 
we entered a Malagasy village, which was not nearly 
so clean. The people were copper-coloured, and the 
women had long, straight, jet-black hair, which they 
plait very tiglitly ; their one garment of cotton stuff 
they wore loosely draped round them. 

On our way back we met Monsieur Le Myre de 
Vilers walking about with the Governor, Monsieur 
Papillon, who took us to his pretty little house, sur- 
rounded by a verandah, and having a thatched roof, 
which kept it beautifully cool. In his garden were 
some splendid pomegranate-trees, the fruit of which 
was just ripe. I was allowed to feast on them, find- 
ing the acid juice most refreshing. 

Monsieur Papillon told us that the drinking-water 
for his own use was sent out to him from France, 
he not liking to trust to the w^ater which is brought 
over by the natives from Mayotta, there being none 
on this island. 

Commandant Le Dos having sent his boat, Harry 
and I went on board the " Beautemps-Beaupre." 
She was a small ship, but everything was made 
very comfortable on board. The Commandant was 
most hospitable, and brought out his best champagne 
to drink to the success of our journey. 

At four we steamed out of this fine harbour 



S8 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

by the southern channel. Several green and well- 
woocled small islands were passed before we found 
ourselves well out to sea. We then directed our 
course towards the north-west coast of Madagascar. 

After a gloriously smooth night, we anchored 
off Nosy-Be at 7 a.m. on November the 4th, in a 
well-sheltered roadstead, w^ith green islands dotted 
around us. {Nosy signifies "island" in Malagasy.) 
The scene was enlivened by many native dug-out 
canoes with outriggers attached, sailing about at a 
tremendous pace, looking like butterflies with their 
many-coloured sails. 

Nosy-Be is a few miles west of Madagascar, and 
is very varied in appearance, some of the mountains 
being rocky and barren, while others are covered 
with dense veo-etation. It is considered a more 
healthy spot than Mayotta, and there is also a 
greater rainfall. We were taken ashore to the little 
town of Hellville by a French official who had come 
on board to fetch his letters. He replaces the 
Governor, as the latter now lives at Diego Suarez, 
on the east coast of Madagascar. After landing 
on a fine stone pier, we walked up a slight incline 
shaded by lovely mango-trees to Government House, 
where our companion introduced us to his family. 
They all seemed perfectly well and happy in their 
w^ell-built and beautifully kept home; in fact he 
told us he had requested his Government to leave 
him as long as possible on that station. As we 



NOSY-BE. 89 

wished to explore the neighbourhood, he insisted 
on our being accompanied by one of his native 
servants, which bored us extremely, so we got rid 
of him as soon as we could politely do so. 

At the back of Government House is a wide, long 
boulevard, wdth double rows of trees. Looking on 
to it are the French Government buildings and 
mission-schools, each with its own little garden full 
of bread-fruit trees, and that acacia with bright 
scarlet flowers that the French call flamboyant. 

We walked on for about a mile, until we reached 
a Malagasy village, the best -built native village I 
had yet seen, all the huts being constructed of 
bamboo, raised on piles about three feet high, and 
roofed with palm -leaves. It was inhabited by 
bright and healthy-looking people, w^ho w^ere par- 
ticularly civil to the strangers. The married women 
wore the same silver button in the nose that I had 
noticed on the east coast of Africa. A little farther 
on we came to an Arab village. These two races, 
though living so close to each other, never mix nor 
intermarry, but nevertheless are always on good 
terms. Beyond this we came to a pretty fountain, 
always running, and providing plenty of good drink- 
ing-water, which is brought by means of pipes, 
from lakes on the hills, to the tow^n. 

After walking for some way through profuse 
vegetation, we sat on the edge of a bank over- 
looking the sea, and affording a view of the 



90 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

northern wooded slopes of the island. At our 
feet, on the tide-washed mud at the mouth of a 
little river, was a Sakalava settlement. Like the 
other Malagasy village, it was built on piles, and 
with far more apparent reason, for at high tide it 
must have stood in two or three feet of water, 
reminding one of the prehistoric lake - dwellings. 
These piles, however, wxre its only point of resem- 
blance to its neighbour, for it w^as as dirty, untidy, 
and miserable-looking; as the other was clean and 
prosperous. It was curious to find three distinct 
communities, whose habits and modes of life were 
so wholly different, planted within a stone's-throw 
of each other on this little island. 

Near us was a children's school where they were 
hard at work, as one could tell from the hum — a 
familiar sound that is ever the same, no matter in 
what country you hear it. Some of these copper- 
coloured little brats came and had a peep at us ; 
but otherwise the natives were so accustomed to 
seeing white people that they did not follow us 
about as in most other places. 

We then sauntered quietly towards the pier by 
narrow paths cut through a thick growth of many 
kinds of ferns, by which time the heat had become 
so intense that it was a relief to get back to the 
ship and rest. 

We steamed out of the harbour at 5 p.m., through 
a narrow passage between two islands, one of them 



CAPE AMBER. 91 

a high cone covered with a magnificent virgin forest. 
Never before had I seen such a densely packed mass 
of different varieties of trees ; and as we passed, I 
got peeps through the foliage of soft green mossy 
banks, and of little streams trickling down towards 
the sea. They told me that this forest is a boon to 
Nosy-Be, as it attracts so many clouds, and more or 
less regulates the rainfall. 

On November the 5th, at 6.30 a.m., we passed 
Cape Amber: nothing very striking about it, for 
a line of low hills is all that seems to mark the 
northernmost point of Madagascar. We then steered 
to the south-east, losing sight of land until 9 a.m., 
when we changed our course, and seemed to be 
making straight for the coast lying due west of 
us. The captain pointed out to us a hill called 
" Windsor Castle," from its resemblance to a distant 
view of that edifice. This hill is used as a landmark 
for entering the Diego Suarez harbour by getting it 
in line with some point on the eastern shore. As it 
happened, our Captain, who had never been there 
before, missed his mark, and before there was time 
to realise what was happening, a great bump was 
felt, women shrieked, and every one rushed about 
to try and find out what had caused the crash. 
Looking overboard, we soon saw there w^as no dan- 
ger of our sinking altogether, for we could clearly 
see the bottom, the sea being so shallow. It was 
soon found that the vessel had struck a rock right 



92 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

amidship, leaving lier bow and stern free, and that 
there was no possibility of her getting off until the 
tide rose. The Captain, however, made the second 
and third class passengers crowd to the stern to see 
if that would help to float her ; but nothing came 
of it, and anchors had to be thrown out on all sides 
so as to keep her from drifting ashore when the 
tide rose. The Captain knew it was a very windy 
corner, and that the tide runs with force through 
the narrow entrance into the harbour ; so that even 
with the help of the anchors, we risked being dashed 
against the sharp bank of rocks on Point Orange to 
our left. 

Soon after we had struck, a small native canoe 
put off to us from the island which blocks the 
centre of the entrance to the harbour. In it were five 
Frenchmen, so sunburnt that they might easily have 
been taken for natives. One of them climbed up the 
side of the vessel, and said that, seeing we were in 
trouble, he had come to know if he should com- 
municate with Diego Suarez by means of his helio- 
graph, so that they might send their steam-launches 
to our assistance. He explained that he was Lieu- 
tenant Sauvage, and that he was encamped on Point 
Orange with forty disciplinaires, four of whom he 
had in the canoe — strong, healthy -looking men, 
although they had been in that climate four years. 
Some of them had very forbidding expressions, and 
the Lieutenant said it was often very difficult to 



DIEGO SUAREZ BAY. 93 

manage them, for they were always ready to rebel 
at the hard work they were made to do. Our Cap- 
tain having accepted his offer, he scrambled down 
into his canoe, hoisted his sail, made of an old sack 
attached to two rough poles, and soon reached the 
Point. All had been done so smartly that one could 
not help admiring his energy in such a relaxing 
climate. 

While we were waiting for the launches, we had 
plenty of time to take in a view of our surround- 
ings. We had struck at the mouth of a narrow 
channel, barely two hundred yards wide, which 
forms the entrance to Diego Suarez Bay. On our 
right was the barren rocky " Isle de la Lune," against 
which the surf was breaking in a continuous line of 
foam. On our left were the almost precipitous cliffs 
of " Point Orange," surmounted by a heavy crown of 
tropical bush. In front was the broad expanse of 
Diego Suarez Bay, with " Windsor Castle," and the 
lower peaks of the range on which it stands, break- 
ing the sky-line in the western distance ; while be- 
hind us was the surf- marked circle of coral-reefs 
surrounding a network of shallow lakes, which 
sparkled in the sun in every shade of blue and 
green, from the milky hues of the turquoise, and the 
cool bright green of the spring grass, to the more 
brilliant sheen of the emerald. 

As there was nothing else to be done, Harry and 
I went down to lunch : everybody else, except 



94 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

Monsieur cle Yilers, seemed too anxious about what 
might happen to feel any hunger. The bumping 
got more frequent and more violent, and as the 
tide began to rise, there was a greater strain on 
the anchor-cables. At one time it was thouo:ht 
advisable to send the women on shore ; but by 
the time the steam-launches were sent out, the 
sea had got so rough that they could not safely 
approach us. One of them got such a bump against 
our ship that she was disabled, and had to take 
shelter within the harbour. Suddenly there was 
a terrific crash : a cable had snapped against the 
strength of the rushing tide dashing on the rocks 
not many yards from us. The engines worked to 
their full power trying to keep the ship off the 
shore. It certainly was a very critical moment, 
but luckily the wind was not so strong as is usually 
the case at this point ; if it had been, she would cer- 
tainly have been knocked to pieces against the rocks, 
for her engines could never have withstood the force 
of both wind and tide combined. Terror was im- 
printed on many faces, mothers clasping their chil- 
dren, but the nuns were calm and composed, de- 
voutly telling their beads. Monsieur de A^ilers was 
getting decidedly anxious about the women — having 
been in several shipwrecks, he knew how fatal a panic 
was — when, after a tremendous thump and rise, which 
nearly threw us ofi" our feet, the " Amazone" seemed to 
shake herself together, and was afloat again. It was 



95 

a great relief not to hear that continual crash at short 
intervals, which ended by getting on one's nerves. 

We struck the rock at 9.55 a.m., and it was 2.30 
P.M. before we steamed to our anchorage at the 
mouth of the " Baie des Cailloux Blancs," narrowed 
at its entrance by the promontory of Diego on our 
right, and the slightly projecting coast-line on which 
the settlement of Antiserane is built. On the former 
— a high table-topped mass of rock indented at its 
foot by little sandy bays — stands the hospital, for 
which its breezy heights and the good water-supply 
to be found there make it very suitable. The 
latter — at a much lower level — presents a flat and 
uninteresting sky-line, broken here and there by 
the red-tiled-roofed barracks and other Government 
buildings : these are continued down the steep slope, 
in which the plateau ends, to the sea-shore, which is 
connected with the table-land by good zigzag roads. 
Opposite us on the shore were wharfs, coal-sheds, 
workshops, and piles of stores ; while farther down, 
built on either side of a narrow ravine, was the 
civil town, inhabited by a mixed population of 
Malagasies, Indians, and Mauritius Creoles. Like 
the military settlement, it was almost entirely 
built below the crest of the plateau. 

Though man had given a certain air of life to 
the place, the whole scene was singularly dreary 
and monotonous. Not a tree was visible to break 
the straight horizon, and almost the only bit of 



96 THE ISLA:f^D OF MYSTERY. 

colour was that given by the red tiles imported 
from France. 

Soon after we had anchored, Monsieur d'Anthouard 
took us ashore to see the Colonel of artillery 
commanding the station ; but as we landed, we met 
that officer just stepping into his boat to call on 
Monsieur Le Myre de Vilers. He, however, kindly 
wrote a note to one of his subordinates directing 
him to show us round. So, trudging up the face 
of the bank by one of the zigzag paths, we arrived 
— with the help of a private we met on the road — 
at the officer's hut, and sent in the note. The 
occupant of the hut presently appeared, evidently- 
just awakened from his siesta, and not too pleased 
at havino; to act as cicerone to two strano;ers in 
a blazing afternoon sun. He, however, did his 
duty manfully, and showed us all the lions of the 
place, which consisted of the barracks, mule-sheds, 
and terminus of the Decauville railway. The 
barracks, wdiich had been built entirely by military 
labour, are constructed of perforated bricks, and 
stand on brick piers, raising the ground-floor some 
six feet above the soil. The mule-sheds contained 
a good many animals, employed for all transport 
purposes, and for working the Decauville railway, 
which, as we had some experience of it on the fol- 
lowing morning, I shall describe in its proper place. 
We had just completed our round of these sights 
when we were overtaken by the Colonel, accom- 



THE FILANZANA, 97 

IDanied by four men bearing a kind of chair made 
of an iron frame, covered with canvas, attached 
to two poles. This was my first acquaintance with 
the filanzana, in which I was afterwards to travel 
many miles before I left Madagascar. The front 
ends of the poles were lowered to the ground, the 
other ends being held up by two of the men at 
a convenient heig;ht for me to sit down. On doing- 
so, I found myself hurled up into the air on the 
shoulders of the men, who went off at a gallo^D, 
making me feel at every moment that I must be 
pitched out, the only support for my feet being a 
piece of board swinging on two ropes. Having 
no shelter over my head, I was obliged to hold 
up a parasol, clutching on to the chair with my 
other hand. I thought to myself, never shall I 
be able to go a long journey in this uncomfort- 
able vehicle ; for T had not been in it ten minutes 
before I had such a stitch in my side that I should 
have preferred walking miles in the blazing sun. 
I, however, managed to make the round of the 
town in it, and then proceeded to the Colonel's 
quarters, a pretty little house in a shady garden 
on the edge of the steep bank facing Diego Point. 
His cool little sitting-room was prettily hung with 
native mats, and just outside the window was a 
big tree covered with bottle-shaped nests made by 
the weaver - birds, which much resemble yellow 
sparrows. To protect their eggs from bigger birds 

G 



98 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

they interlace green branches over the entrances 
to their little homes. 

After a short visit we returned on board, accom- 
panied by our host, who had been invited to dinner 
by the Captain of the "Amazone." Commandant 
Moussu, whose gunboat was then anchored near 
us, was also of the party. 

Monsieur de Yilers had set his heart on our 
taking a ride on the " Montague Eusse," as he called 
the Decauville line we had seen. He declared it 
was the very thing we should enjoy ; but the 
Colonel did not seem equally keen. However, we 
all begged so hard that he promised to send us 
word if he could manage it. As there was only 
one train a-day, starting at 5.30 a.m., to take pro- 
visions to Maattinsinzoarivo fort, we retired to rest 
early in hopes of having to be called before sunrise 
for our trip. After we had gone below. Monsieur 
de Vilers heard from the Colonel that our expedition 
could be arranged ; so he sent us a message, which, 
however, never reached us. Had it not been for 
his kindness in getting up to call us at five 
the following morning, we certainly should not 
have awakened in time to catch the train. As it 
was, we had only ten minutes to tumble out of 
bed and into our clothes, eat a crust, and jump 
into the boat, which he had had manned while 
we were dressing. In less than twenty minutes 
from the time we were called, we were walking 



THE DECAUVILLE RAILWAY. 99 

up tlie pier steps, where the Colonel received us. 
The little train had already started up the hill, so 
we had to take a short cut and meet it at the 
barracks. There were three trucks, two laden with 
provisions, the third for passengers with two seats 
placed — outside car -fashion — back to back. On 
this Harry and the Colonel took their seats ; but 
I preferred sitting on a provision-box in the fore- 
most truck, between the driver and a private, who 
were most entertaining, and told me about their 
everyday life. 

Two mules, each led by a native, were hooked 
tandem-fashion to the side of the leading; truck ; the 
leader being ridden postilion, while the other native 
scrambled on to the train behind. We started at 
full gallop, holding on like grim death to avoid 
being jerked out by the jump which the cars gave 
as they passed, in rapid succession, over each joint 
of the roughly laid rails. The line runs through 
low jDrickly shrub over an undulating plain, the 
stee]3er slopes of which are avoided by curving 
round the spurs and valleys ; but no levelling has 
been attempted, and the track consequently passes 
over a succession of ups and downs. On arriving 
at the beginning of one of the latter the mules 
are cleverly unhooked without stopping the cars, 
which speed down the incline, while the animals 
are galloped at full speed by a short cut, to rejoin 
them ere they lose their impetus on the next ascent, 



100 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

when, without slackening their pace, they are hooked 
on ao^ain until the next descent is reached. At one 
point where the line crosses a ravine by a causeway 
too narrow to allow of trucks and mules passing 
together, the engineer has taken a hint from the 
character of the ground, and l3uilt the embankment 
with a dip in the middle ; so that, when the mules 
are detached, the impetus given by the descent 
takes the train up the opposite bank, where they 
can again be hooked on. In spite of the jerks, and 
the fact that the dust and wind almost prevented 
me from seeing, the sensation of rushing through 
the air at such a pace was a most delicious one ; 
and I was quite sorry when, after a journey of 
twelve kilometres, the line ended abruptly at the 
foot of a steep hill, whence we were told we had 
three Jdlometres to walk. Just before we began 
climbing this hill, we crossed by a good stone bridge 
" La Kiviere des Caimans " — here a clear boulder- 
strewn stream, looking far more like the home of 
trout than of crocodiles, though I am told that a 
little lower down, where the stream becomes broader 
and more sluggish, the latter are plentiful enough 
to justify its name. 

I was thankful it was so early in the morning, for 
at that hour there was a deliciously cool breeze, 
which o'ave us streng-th for our tedious walk. After 
an hour's toil up the newly made military road, 
zigzagging up a steep bank covered with sparse low 



A CHARMING VIEW. 101 

shrub, we reached the fort, a stockaded enclosure 
in which were a two - storeyed stone building, a 
number of detached huts, and a kitchen -garden, 
in which a good many men were at work, and which 
seemed to provide an ample supply of vegetables. 
My ideas of a fort being based on what I had seen 
in Europe, and the very pretentious works at Mas- 
sowah, I confess I was rather disappointed at this 
very unpretending little stronghold ; but I was told 
it was quite strong enough for the purpose for which 
it was intended — to ward off the attacks of evil- 
disposed Sakalavas ; though even they, so far, had 
never tested its powers of resistance. Whatever 
its qualifications may have been from a military 
point of view, it certainly afforded a charming view 
of the surrounding country. To the north, the broad 
jDlain over which we had just passed, with the 
gradually widening " Eiviere des Caimans " winding 
through it, till it lost itself in La Bale de Diego 
Suarez ; beyond it the red roofs of the Antiserane 
barracks, from which the heliograph flashed us an 
occasional message, and in the distance the high 
summit of Diego Point. To the east, at our feet, 
lay a green valley, through which wound the upper 
waters of "La Riviere des Caimans," bounded on its 
farther side by a steejD wooded bank, between the 
top of which and the sky-line was visible a narrow 
strip of the Indian Ocean. To the south, the view 
was bounded at a short distance by a bush-covered 



102 THE ISLAND OF MYSTEEY. 

range of hills ; while to the west spread a succession 
of barren hills and valleys, terminating in the 
rue^o'ed rano:e of which " Windsor Castle " is the 
highest point. 

The Captain in command having been informed 
by heliograph of our intended visit, came to meet 
us. The poor man looked very ill, having just got 
over a bad attack of fever. The Lieutenant, on the 
contrary, although he had been there eighteen 
months, was perfectly well, and told us he had 
never once had an attack. This elevated spot, 
swept by sea-breezes, certainly seemed as if it 
ought to be more healthy than the low-lying town 
of Antiserane ; but I was told it was these very 
breezes which, fever - laden from the mangrove - 
swamps in the plains, caused it to be unhealthy. 
The men, a hundred and forty in number, were 
discijolinaires, and I sliould think rather a handful, 
as a big dark room used as a prison, which was 
sliowTi us when we went round the huts, was said 
to be often quite full with men who had to be con- 
fined for insubordination. 

After resting a short time in the officers' mess, 
we had to hurry back, as our ship was to start early. 
I think the poor Colonel did not at all appreciate 
our expedition, for it became intolerably hot before 
we got back, and, like us, he had probably started 
without his breakfast. 

At eleven we steamed out of harbour with a 



" IlE MADAME." 103 

pleasant cool wind ahead, which, however, became 
unpleasantly strong when we got outside, and I 
soon had to disappear, and spent a wretched night, 
as the vessel pitched terribly. At one o'clock next 
day we got into calm water, as we entered the 
channel, about ten miles wide, which separates the 
island of Saint e Marie from Madagascar. The 
former island consists of a high ridge running 
north and south, some thirty miles in length and 
two in breadth, on the western coast of which the 
harbour is situated. 

We cast anchor at 2 p.m. off " lie Madame," the 
inner of two islets in the harbour, which contains 
the Government House, hospital, and workshops, and 
is connected with the main island by a ferry-boat 
running on a wire cable. He Fourban, the outer 
island, is uninhabited, and is only used as a coal- 
depot. Owing to the unheal thiness and excessive 
mortality in this station, the European garrison and 
civil employes have been reduced to a minimum ; the 
only representative of the former being, I believe, 
an artillery sergeant, who acts as caretaker to the 
fort on Sainte Marie ; while the latter do not, I 
think, number more than half-a-dozen. 

We w^ent on shore with the post-bags, and after 
landing them on "lie Madame," were rowed to Sainte 
Marie pier ; then walking along a beautiful shady 
road with glorious vegetation on all sides, we 
reached the Eoman Catholic mission station, easily 



104 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

recognisable by the hymns which we heard the 
little native children singing inside. Then after 
looking at the church, which stands in a pretty 
garden, we climbed up a steep slo|)e to the fort, 
perched on the ridge of the island at its narrowest, 
and overlooking the harbour to the west, and a 
broad stretch of swamp to the east. We knocked 
at an open door, and getting no answer, walked in 
and found the whole place deserted; there had 
evidently been no troops there for some time. We 
were afterwards told that this elevated spot was the 
most unhealthy part of the whole island, owing to 
its being exposed to the winds that sweep across 
the marshes. Continuing our walk some distance 
along a good road shaded by large overhanging 
trees, we arrived at a collection of native huts, near 
which was a little cafe kept by a Frenchman who 
looked wretchedly ill. He sold us some cocoa-nut 
milk, and talked to us in a desponding manner of 
the vanished prosperity of Sainte Marie. Between 
the huts and the sea fringing the shore is a lovely 
avenue of cocoa-palms, under which sat a group of 
natives, from whom we bought some leechees, a 
delicious slightly acid fruit contained in a hard 
shell, which on being removed reveals a substance 
that from its translucent appearance might be taken 
for a hard-boiled plover's egg. In a little garden 
close by I noticed a splendid cacao-shrub, its reddish 
pointed pods full of my favourite nibs. 



'•l'ile des prunes." 105 

As there did not seem mucli to make it worth 
while walking any longer in the hot sun, we retraced 
our steps and returned on board. This island is 
pretty, but without any particular interest, and is 
said to be a hotbed of fever ; even at the time of 
our visit — the end of the dry season — it was extra- 
ordinarily green, and one could hardly imagine to 
what further degree of rankness the vegetation 
would reach by the end of the rains. 

The next night was spent at anchor, a great relief 
after the last restless one at sea ! Early on the 
following morning, however, we started again, and 
twenty-four hours' steaming brought us to Tama- 
tave, November the 8th, 6.30 a.m. Just before 
entering the harbour we passed " L'lle des Prunes," 
whose green foliage offered a striking contrast to 
the withered tree-trunks, evidences of the force of 
the hurricane which had swept over it in 1885, 
blowing off the roofs of houses, uprooting and 
killing the trees, and driving on shore the ships at 
anchor in the harbour. I was told that the British 
consul. Captain Haggard, was at the Mauritius 
during this storm, and on his return found that 
the roof of his house had been lifted off like the lid 
of a box and deposited half a mile away. 

The ships have to anchor a longish way from the 
shore, making it very inconvenient ' for loading and 
unloading cargo. The poor bullocks, of which a 
considerable number are continually exported to the 



106 THE ISLAXD OF MYSTERY. 

Mauritius and other islands, go through a terrible 
ordeal. Several of them are tied by the horns to a 
rope, which is fastened to spars placed athwart the 
canoes ; they are then driven into the sea with 
many shrieks and blows from the natives, and have 
to swim for dear life, towed by the canoes, to the 
ship which is to convey them. When they arrive at 
the ship's side, a rope is passed under them, and 
they are hoisted on deck. It seemed terribly cruel, 
for I am told they do not even use a rope thick 
enough to prevent its cutting into them. I saw 
one clever animal get himself free of the ropes and 
swim to the reefs, where he seemed perfectly happy, 
stumbling about out of reach of his persecutors. 

A great many people came on board from the 
town ; among them was Monsieur Baissade, the 
doctor belonging to the French Eesidency, to whom 
we were introduced, and under whose care we were 
placed for the journey up country. Soon after 
anchoring, our Captain came up to us accompanied 
by an English officer, who had come from H.M.S. 
'' Penguin" for their mails, and who kindly invited us 
to lunch on board. On arriving there, however, we 
were introduced to the Captain — King Hall — who 
asked us to lunch with him. On sitting down I 
was surprised to find that my neighbour, the first 
Lieutenant, was Mr Stanhope, whom I had not seen 
since we were both little children at Pau ; while 
Harry's last meeting with him was at Dongola. 



TAMATAVE. 



107 



The "Penguin" is a smart little gunboat; but I 
honestly confess I was not happy while on her, as 
she was continually rolling. 

After lunch we went ashore with Captain King 
Hall, taking the " Amazone" on our way to say good- 
bye to Commandant Masset. From the beach, on 
to which I was carried by a couple of blue-jackets, 




Doctor Baissade in his /iiaii:,diia. 

we walked to the hotel by the long, straight, sandy 
street, which is practically the whole towai. In 
spite of its length and straightness, and that most 
unsesthetic of objects, a tram line — wdiich runs 
down its centre — it was not without a certain 
picturesqueness. The houses, in all varieties of 



108 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

shapes and sizes, were mostly built of wood, while 
their 23rojecting eaves, supported on tall w^ooden 
uprights, gave a plentiful variety of light and shade, 
but, unlike those of Arab towns, afforded none of the 
latter to the street itself. In spite of the dust, and 
the glare of the mid-day sun, there was a fair 
amount of life in the street, both native and Euro- 
pean : white-robed, straw-hatted Hovas of the mid- 
dle class sitting near their verandahs, or sauntering 
barefooted through the dust ; the coast negroes, 
bareheaded, in loose sacks of coloured home-spun, 
also on foot ; Hova officers and Europeans perched 
high on men's shoulders in their filanzanas — the 
former in the most correct and uncomfortable-look- 
ing black frock-coats and tall black hats, and the 
latter for the most part with the loosest of white 
cotton suits. We, imitating; the humbler of the 
natives, proceeded on foot ; and although the walk 
was not very long, we were glad to escape the ver- 
tical rays of the sun, and to take shelter in our 
inn, grandly called "Hotel de France," where our 
travelling companions had already settled down. It 
was a small singie-storeyed house surrounded by a 
verandah, and separated from the sea on one side 
and the street on the other, by two strips of untidy 
garden. 

We found Monsieur de Vilers holding a levee — all 
the Europeans in the place, and the heads of the 
native population, having come to pay their respects 



PREPAPJNG FOR THE JOURNEY. 109 

to the Eesiclent-General, dressed in their best Euro- 
pean clothes, top-hats, and gloves. His rooms were 
on the right of the verandah, and ours on the left ; 
so I amused myself by watching the mixed proces- 
sion o'oing^ in and out. 

As it was hoped that the porters for our journey 
would be procured by the following morning, Doc- 
tor Baissade proposed that we should go with him 
and buy camp-beds, stools, &c., which w^e should 
want on the journey, having come without any of 
these necessaries. I w^as offered ajilanzana, but re- 
membering my previous experience of that convey- 
ance, preferred to walk ankle-deep in the sand. How- 
ever, I soon got tired of this, and began to regret 
I had refused the offer of a lift ; for in spite of there 
being several very good shops kept by Europeans, 
it took us some time to find what we w^anted — two 
folding camp-beds, two iron folding-chairs, a very 
large basin wdth canvas cover, which we filled with 
all tubbing necessaries, and two j^oncho waterproofs, 
— i.e., square sheets of waterproof cloth with holes 
cut in the centre for one's head to pass through. I 
was also persuaded to buy a helmet, a head-gear I 
detest. So far I had managed with one of Heath's 
small sailor-hats. But later on the helmet turned 
out most useful in the almost perpetual rain w^e had 
going up country, as it acted as a " sou'-wester," and 
shot the water well off the back of my neck. 

Our shopping finished, we went to the bank to 



110 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

exchange our gold into dollars (called aviary), the 
coin most generally used by the natives, the Mala- 
gasy having no coinage of their own. We after- 
wards had to send some of these dollars to a man 
who cut each coin into seven pieces of different 
sizes. It is a most inconvenient way of buying 
anything, for one is obliged to carry a set of scales 
and weights with which to weigh out the value of 
the purchase. 

We returned in time for dinner, and retired early, 
thinking: w^e mio^ht have to start in g;ood time the 
next morning. Our departure depended entirely on 
the porters, who are all natives of the interior, and 
who come down to the coast when they hear of a 
job. Although they had several times before taken 
up the Eesident, his party and goods, and knew per- 
fectly well that he never gave more than a certain 
fixed sum, still each time they think it necessary 
to bargain for more pay, and to waste several days 
before they give in. 

Next morning we got up early and packed. Out- 
side I heard a hum of voices, and going out on to the 
verandah, I saw a great crowd of natives all talking 
and shoutino^ at once, while Monsieur d'Anthouard 
answered them with great calmness in their own 
language, looking as if he had years before him to 
settle about the trip to the capital ; for if he had let 
them think for a moment that he was in a hurry, 
they would have held on to their high prices. 




Silver Charms^ ^c. 



112 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

In spite of their obstinacy, they were rather a 
pleasant - looking set of men, with dark-skinned 
faces, and lithe gracefully-made bodies covered by a 
blouse-like garment reaching to the knees, which in 
most cases was made out of coarse palm-fibre sack- 
ing, with holes cut for the neck and arms, and tied 
round the waist with a string. After a long dis- 
cussion they departed, having temporarily got their 
own way, and condemned us to another day's delay. 
While we were sitting under the verandah waiting 
to know our fate, two Jilanzanas arrived, and de- 
posited their passengers near us. They turned out 
to be a certain Princess Juliette and her sister, mem- 
bers of the former reigning family, but by a Mau- 
ritius mother. In dress they were somewhat similar 
— wearing; loose camisoles and cotton skirts which 
had not seen the wash-tub for some time, low shoes 
with buckles, and white cotton stockings very loose 
about the ankles — but otherwise I never saw two 
sisters more unlike. Juliette, the elder, was an 
enormously fat old woman, with short grey wool all 
over her head, thick lips, a loud laugh, and great 
flabby hands. Her sister, on the contrary, was 
almost a living skeleton, wdth a prim, rather serious 
manner, black wavy hair, and the complexion of a 
dried-up apple. She appeared to act as a sort of 
servant to her sister, sitting behind her chair saying 
nothing, and now and then getting up to attend to 
''Fatty's" wants. 



A PERFECT DELUGE. 113 

As it turned out, it was fortunate that we had 
not started that day, for a frightful storm came on 
while we were at dinner — a perfect deluge — in the 
middle of which arrived the American consul, who 
had come to consult the doctor ; so we left them 
together, and adjourned to Monsieur de Vilers's 
sitting-room. As it was getting late, I took an 
umbrella to cross the verandah and reach my room, 
in doing which I got quite drenched. To my horror 
I found everything in our room afloat : trunk, 
chairs, table, all were dancing and knocking each 
other about. I called loudly for help. The hotel- 
keeper swore that such a thing had never occurred 
before ; but the doctor told him he knew better, for 
it had happened to him some months ago, and that 
the same remark had then been made. To sleep in 
the room was impossible, so all our things were 
carried across, and our camp - beds made up in 
Monsieur de Vilers's sitting-room. We had a good 
laugh over it all, every one carrying some garment 
or piece of furniture for us. The way we took it 
delighted our kind friend, for he said now he knew 
we should not mind any co7itretemps ; and he 
stamped us as good travellers from that moment. 

The next morning — November the 10th — we were 
again uncertain if we should be able to start. 
The men, as on the previous day, were again 
assembled outside, making a great noise, without 
coming to any definite conclusion, although they 

H 



114 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

had begun to come down in their prices. Never- 
theless I packed, having been told that as soon as 
the natives gave in we must start. It was fortunate 
I did so, for they at last agreed to go for 25 francs 
a-head. That being settled, there ensued the most 
amusing scramble. The luggage - porters made a 
rush for the rooms, on the principle that first come 
first served, wdiich in this case meant securing the 
lightest load. Monsieur d'Anthouard and the doctor 
had their work cut out trying to keep them outside, 
so as to distribute the loads as they thought best, 
— without, how^ever, much success. The porters are 
wonderfully careful — never losing anything, and 
knowing the exact composition of each bundle. 
They notice at once if anything is changed in them, 
as I found out to my cost later on ; for having re- 
moved a rug from the roll of cloaks and put it in 
another package, they made such a terrific fuss that 
I was obliged to unstrap everything and replace it. 



II. 

Our departure, which took place at 12.25 p.m., 
was quite as amusing to witness as that of the 
luggage. We had ninety -eight men to carry our 
party of eight, which consisted of Monsieur de 
Vilers, his private secretary Monsieur d'Anthouard, 
Doctor Baissade, a native officer, our two selves, 
and Monsieur de Vilers 's French cook and valet. 



START FOR THE INTERIOR. 115 

The porters were all anxious to seize upon the 
lightest weight, which was myself; so as soon as 
I appeared there was a rush towards me. It was at 
last settled who were to be my twelve bearers, 
and I had scarcely settled myself in m.j Jilanzana, 
when off they galloped down the street, leaving my 
.umbrella and mackintosh on the ground. Luckily 
Harry saw them, and picked them up. 

The first start in a filanzana was certainly trying 
to my nerves, — the twelve bearers shouting and 
running as hard as their bare legs could carry them, 
jumping over any obstacle that came in their way, 
and throwing me on to one another's shoulders in 
a fashion that made me wonder how often during 
the day I should be landed on my nose. But I soon 
got used to it, and after the first day or two for- 
got to clutch hold of the poles. Four men at a 
time carry the passenger, always keeping step. The 
men on the left side support the pole on the right 
shoulders, holding it with their right hands ; those 
on the right side have their heads between the poles, 
the right-hand pole resting on their right shoulders, 
while with their left hands they catch hold of their 
companions' right wrists, and so steady each other. 
Every half -minute, without slackening their pace, 
they throw the filanzana on to the shoulders of 
four others, who in anticipation have been running 
on ahead, so that there should be no pause. They 
were a bright and cheery set of people, never ceasing 



116 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

to laugh and chatter the whole clay, and were like 
a lot of big children out for a game of ball — the 
unfortunate passenger being the ball. The sailor's 
description of his camel-ride over the Bayuda desert 
— that the beast played cup-and-ball with him the 
whole way, and only missed him twice — would have 
been equally suitable to this mode of travelling. 
The bearers are of a higher class and generally 
younger than the baggage-porters, and are specially 
trained to keep up a fast rate of travelling day by 
day. The latter have, as a rule, enormous bumps on 
their shoulders, which I have read are hereditary ; 
but my own impression is that their growth on each 
individual is the result of the constant friction of 
the long bamboos on which they swing their loads. 

The first part of our route lay through a wide 
sandy plain, dotted w^ith alternate patches of short 
grass, low scrub, or fairly thick bush. In the 
distance to the right was a range of high hills, while 
to the left the constant roar showed that the sea 
could not be far off. An hour and a half's march 
brought us to Anjolokafa, a small village built on a 
tongue of land between the sea and the mouth of 
the river Ivondrona, which here empties itself into 
the lake Nosy-Ve. 

This lake, or rather lagoon, is separated from the 
sea by a long and narrow strip of land. The latter 
becomes an island at high tide and admits the 
rollers, making the lagoon impassable for canoes. 



ANJOLOKAFA. 117 

To our disgust we found this to be the case on our 
arrival ; while a strong south-easterly wind was add- 
ino; to the rouo:hness of the water. We waited a few 
hours, when, seeing there was no improvement, we 
made up our minds to spend the night in the village, 
and at once set to work to choose our huts. These 
were built of bamboo, and each consisted of a single 
room, with a mat-covered floor, and a hearthstone in 
a corner from which — there being no chimney — the 
smoke from the fire made its way out as best it 
could through the crevices of the roof. In another 
corner were several thick bamboos about seven feet 
long, which, having had their joints bored out, are 
used as w^ater-jars — an ingenious contrivance, and 
very excellent for those who are expert in its use, 
but one which requires considerable practice, any un- 
due elevation of the butt having the effect of sending 
the whole contents out with a rush, as I found to 
my cost the first time Harry tried to fill my drink- 
ing-cup for me. Our camp-beds were pitched under 
a beam, from which we hung the mosquito-curtains, 
so that they reached the ground. We thought sleep- 
ing under them rather close and stuffy at first, but 
on the one or two occasions during the journey up 
country on which we could find nothing to hang 
them to, we learned their value, for after a sleepless 
night we woke up in the morning with hands and 
faces a mass of mosquito-bites. The beds were a 
great success : made of the light framework of angle- 



118 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

iron, they stood any amount of wear and tear, were 
set np or folded for the journey in a minute, and 
were wonderfully comfortable. 

While the French cook was preparing an excellent 
little dinner, and after we had set the porters to 
collect our goods and put up our beds, we made a 
short tour of the villag;e and its surrounding's. The 
former consists of about twenty bamboo huts, with 
palm -thatched gabled roofs, scattered irregularly 
about a singularly barren piece of ground ; and I 
should imaoine its only reason for existence was its 
proximity to the ferry, in working which most of its 
inhabitants found a livelihood, and at which — as in 
our case — travellers were very likely to be delayed. 
We were not the only sufferers on this occasion, for 
soon after our arrival we were overtaken by three of 
the Sceurs de Charite who had been our fellow- 
passengers on board the "Amazone," and who were 
also on their way to the capital. The only bit of 
vegetation which we could see anywhere near was a 
wild-looking thicket, and to this we turned our steps, 
and were rewarded by finding a most lovely collec- 
tion of aloes, cactus, flowering-shrubs, and a great 
variety of large ferns, with one or two varieties of 
orchids, unfortunately not in flower. 

On returning; to the villag;e we found Monsieur 
d'Anthouard surrounded by the filanzana porters 
clamouring for money. They are given a few bits 
of the 5 -franc pieces every night and morning to 



QUEENS BODYGUARDS. 119 

pay for their supper and breakfast ; but they are 
never satisfied with what is given them, and for the 
first day or two they try to find how much they 
can get out of their employers. Monsieur d'An- 
thouard was so well up to their tricks that he did 
not pay any attention to their demands, but simply 
gave them what he thought right, on receiving 
which they all went away apparently quite satisfied. 
Besides the porters attached to our party were 
two simandous, or members of the regiment of the 
Eoyal Bodyguard, composed of slaves freed on the 
day of the Queen's coronation. They have unlimited 
powers wherever they go, as, speaking in the Queen's 
name, they can oblige the natives to submit to the 
corvee, turn out of their huts for travellers, and 
leave any work they may be engaged on should 
their services be required as porters. One of their 
duties is to carry poison from the sovereign to any 
subject whom it may be desirable to get rid of; and 
should the poison be refused, they have orders to 
use other means to effect the same end. As a rule, 
the poor victims gracefully accept the bitter cup 
without a word. The poison used, which is very 
deadly, is made from the leaves of the tangena-tiee, 
which I was shown the following day — a tall shrub, 
with narrow, pointed, shiny leaves. The simandous 
wore breeches, a white drapery called a lamha, 
loosely thrown round them, and on their heads the 
hats of the country, very much resembling those 



120 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

of Leghorn straw. In their hands they carried light 
spears, with the butt ends made like an ordinary 
spud, which they used as walking-sticks. 

We also had accompanying us a young Hova, one 
of the Queen's officers just returned from France, 
where he had been sent to complete his education, 
which, unless he was a very remarkably unpleasant 
young man before he started, had certainly not 
improved him ; for his conceit was overpowering, 
and the way in which he treated the other natives 
filled me with the perpetual desire to ask some one 
to kick him. 

The natives on this coast belong to the Betsimi- 
saraka tribe, and have dark skins, flattened noses, 
and curly hair ; while most of our porters, who were 
of Hova extraction, and who come from the centre 
of the island, were copper-coloured, with prominent 
cheek-bones, straight black hair, and less flattened 
noses. Being so accustomed to travellers, the 
former did not show much curiosity on our arrival ; 
but having learned how generous Monsieur de Yilers 
was, the women alw^ays came to off'er him presents 
— eggs and very lean chickens — knowing full well 
they would get in return good solid silver. After 
presenting their gifts, these women often sang curi- 
ous doleful songs, never very loud, and going on for 
hours, which had on me a restful efi'ect, sending me 
ofi" to sleep. 

We dined at three little folding-tables placed end 



AN AWKWARD POSITION. 121 

to end, each seated in his own camp-chair, brought 
folded under his arm, as men used to carry their 
opera-hats. After dinner, those of the party who 
had done this journey before rekted their various 
experiences for our benefit. Among these was one 
very characteristic of the morals of the country. 
The narrator, having stopped on the road to the 
capital at an important village, in which the Gov- 
ernor of the district resided, found that that officer 
was absent. He was, however, duly welcomed by 
the young wife. The traveller, not speaking Mala- 
gasy, and wishing to show his appreciation of her 
civility, patted her on the cheek, saying in French 
that she was very pretty. Soon after, he noticed 
a discussion going on between his hostess and his 
interpreter, at the end of which the latter in- 
formed him with a deep bow that the lady ac- 
cepted. Thinking that his interpreter — as often 
happened — had made use of the wrong word, he 
thought no more of the matter. Soon after his 
dinner he retired to rest, when, to his surprise and 
embarrassment, Madame la Gouverneur made her 
appearance, evidently with the intention of making 
a prolonged visit. Then, and not till then, did he 
connect the interpreter's remark with the harmless 
little flatteries which had placed him in such an 
awkward position. 

There was heavy rain during the early part of 
the night, which, besides keeping up an incessant 



122 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

patter on the palm-leaf roof, managed to find its 
way through it, falling in occasional big drops all 
over the floor and beds. Once or twice I managed 
to sleep by drawing my waterproof over my head ; 
but I suppose the stifling heat made me incautiously 
throw it off, for in spite of all precautions I was con- 
tinually being awakened by a cool splash on my 
cheeks. The consequence was, it was well into the 
small hours before I fairly fell asleep. It was there- 
fore with anything but pleasure that I heard Mon- 
sieur de Yilers's voice at the door telling us it 
was half-past four, and time to get up. Tumbling 
out of bed more asleep than awake, I had begun 
leisurely to dress, thinking — if I thought at all — 
that there could be no real hurry, when in rushed 
the whole troop of porters, who began packing up 
everything we possessed ; and it was with the greatest 
difficulty that I managed to get them out of the hut 
comparatively empty-handed. Even then they got 
no farther than the door, on which they kept up a 
continual tattoo, occasionally opening it to see how 
we were getting on. This performance was repeated 
on every morning of our journey, but not always 
with so much success on our side ; for every now 
and then a porter would get into the hut when we 
were not looking, and triumphantly carry off the one 
bag containing everything necessary for dressing. 

We must have made a funny picture to our 
visitors, if they were capable of appreciating it : I 



THE MISERIES OF AN EAELY START. 123 

struggling to dress and to find my tilings ; Harry 
trying to shave — a ceremony he never omitted, how- 
ever early the start, — all by the light of one little 
wax candle, w^hich for want of a table had to be 
stuck on the floor by means of a drop of hot wax, 
and which was constantly being blown out by the 
wind and toppling over. I must own I was not 
very keen about these early starts, but I soon found 
out that it was a hobby of our host's to go the 
round and wake everybody up before daylight. We 
therefore put up with them with a good grace, 
and hastened to thoroughly wake ourselves up with 
the excellent cup of black coffee of which w^e 
always partook before the start; but the pleasure 
of drinking it was rather marred by the dose of 
quinine which the doctor insisted on serving out at 
the same time. 

These swallowed, we w^ere hurried off to the 
water's edge, wdiere we had to wait a good half-hour 
while the porters loaded and got ready the canoes, 
— unwieldy-looking things some thirty feet long and 
three broad, with pointed stems and sterns, hollowed 
out of the trunk of a single tree. A curious mixture 
of types were collected by the misty lake-side on 
that grey Sunday morning, all — except Monsieur de 
Vilers, who was always w^ide awake and full of energy 
— equally sleepy, and desirous of being back com- 
fortably in bed, and each trying to pass the tedi- 
ous time of waiting in a different way : Monsieur 



124 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

d'Anthouarcl giving directions to the porters, and 
generally making himself useful ; the doctor care- 
fully stowing away in a canoe some bags of specie 
of which he was taking charge for the Malagasy 
Government ; the three nuns telling their beads ; 
Harry lying on the bank trying to pick up his lost 
half-hour in bed ; I munching a crust of bread and 
a piece of chocolate ; while the porters shouted and 
danced, and carefully threw all one's most perishable 
baggage into the wettest part of the canoes. 

At last all was ready for a start. The first to 
move off was the doctor with his money-bags. 
I followed next in my Jilanzana, and was dejDOS- 
ited in it at the bottom of the canoe, thus 
avoiding the alternative of sitting in w^ater, or 
perching on the top of a pile of baggage which 
already looked as if it must overbalance the 
narrow keel-less craft. Somebody gave a shove 
from the shore, and I found myself alone with 
my twelve porters — temporarily turned into boat- 
men — who, shouting at the top of their voices 
all the time, paddled for dear life. After about a 
quarter of an hour we came to the part of the lagoon 
directly across the bar, where, in spite of the com- 
paratively low tide, the sea was rolling in with 
decidedly unpleasant force. As each roller swept 
under us, the canoe lifted her pointed prow into the 
air, falling again into the trough of the next wave 
with a splash, and shipping sea after sea, till, finding 



CROSSING THE LAGOON. 



125 



that the water had risen to the footboard of my filan- 
zana, I thought it was about time to take some 
steps to get rid of it, and accordingly, doffing my 
brand-new helmet, set to work to bale her out, a pro- 
ceedino; which seemed much to amuse the men ; 
but nevertheless the one nearest to me followed my 
example, and began trying to ladle out the water 
with his old sieve-like straw hat. I am afraid my 




Crossing Lake Nosy - Vc. 

efforts and the disfigurement of my helmet were not 
of much avail, for the canoe seemed to get heavier 
and heavier, and in spite of the men's redoubled 
shouts, as with their heads between their knees they 
strained at the paddles, the canoe refused to make 
any headway against the sea. The situation was 
getting decidedly critical, and our difficulties were 
increased by our drifting into some weeds, among 



126 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

whicli the starboard paddles could not be worked, 
so that we got broadside on to the sea. I was 
preparing at any moment for a capsize, and 
to exchange the compan}^ of my Malagasy boat- 
men for that of the crocodiles that infest the lake, 
when, realising it was a case of now or never, the 
men gave another shout, and by a supreme effort 
shot the canoe into smooth water. 

On approaching the shore I looked in vain for 
the doctor, whom I had expected to find waiting 
for us ; but seeing nothing but the usual collec- 
tion of lamha - clothed natives, I began to fear 
that some mishap had befallen his canoe. It w^as 
not until our craft had actually touched the shore 
that, hearing his voice, I looked up and discovered 
him disguised in a bath-towel. It seemed that he 
had such a drenching in his passage, that he had 
taken off all his clothes to dry them, and had im- 
provised an imitation of a native costume. Soon 
afterwards I w^as thankful to see the other canoes 
appearing in sight, for the tide and wind were rap- 
idly rising, and every moment rendered the passage 
more risky. 

As soon as the last canoe had come in, our tem- 
porary boatmen resumed their usual duties, and lift- 
ing our filanzanas on to their shoulders, started off 
at a brisk trot, leaving the baggage-porters to dis- 
embark our luggage and follow us, — the only excep- 
tion being made in favour of the cooking-utensils, 



LAKE RASOABE. 127 

which, with the French cook and valet, pushed on 
ahead with all possible speed, that our breakfast 
might be ready at the mid -day halting -place — 
Ampanirano — which we reached after a five hours' 
journey among thick woods, and across miasmic 
swamps exuding fetid vapours at every step, as our 
bearers, wading knee-deep in water, stirred up the 
black mud beneath. 

Our halting -place was a straggling and rather 
dirty village of the usual bamboo and palm -leaf 
huts, two of which, however, set apart for the use 
of travellers, were fairly clean. Here we partook 
of an excellent breakfast, provided by that treasure 
Alphonse, and which I for one had been wanting for 
some hours. 

After a short rest we started again, travelling for 
two hours over ground similar to that passed in the 
morning ; after which the character of the country 
suddenly changed, and our road lay through a 
lovely park-like district, the ground covered with 
crisp green turf, broken here and there by clumps 
of stately trees, and dotted with smaller patches of 
palms, mimosa, tree-ferns, and shrubs that looked 
like rhododendrons, intermingled with the growth 
of small plants and creepers. Here and there a 
pretty peep was gained of Lake Easoabe and its 
farther well -wooded shores, while to the left we 
could hear the sea breaking on the beach in the 
distance. Animal life was singularly deficient, a 



128 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

few little birds being, as far as I could see, the 
only inhabitants of this lovely region. 

After travelling through this park for a couple of 
hours, we bore to our left and marched along a 
glaring sandy spit which lay between the ocean 
and the chain of lagoons. On our right was a 
curious and dismal illustration of the partiality of 
cyclones. In the region through which we had just 
passed not a branch was missing from the trees ; 
but here was a forest absolutely stripped of all but 
its upright stems, which rose gaunt and bare out of 
the sand-dunes like the time-worn mainmasts of a 
sunken fleet ; yet only three years before they had 
stood covered with foliage and bound together with 
creepers, seemingly an indestructible jungle. 

On the beach grew a curious creeper with ivy- 
shaped leaves and a violet flower, which I was told 
only grew in the sand. I got my men to pick me 
some of the black seeds, resembling those of a 
convolvulus, and took them home with me to 
England, where, however, we never succeeded in 
making them flower. 

After an hour and a half's march, an opening in 
the lagoon, with a steep wooded bank on the farther 
side, blocked the direct route along the sea-shore, 
and made us again turn inland, crossing the channel, 
through which the porters waded waist-deep, seem- 
ingly with much enjoyment, as they tucked up 
their one garment, and splashed and sported in 



ANDEVORANTE. 129 

the water in a way that made me feel that at any 
moment I might unexpectedly join them. In course 
of time, however, they carried me over, safe and 
dry, and we entered a tract which, though well 
wooded, was less lovely than that of the earlier 
afternoon, and which stretched as far as Vavony, 
our resting-place for the night, where we arrived 
at six o'clock, having done about forty miles. 

The next morning we started at 4.50, travel- 
ling through very much the same sort of wooded 
country, and only passing one village — the little 
hamlet of Andavakamenarana — until about seven, 
when we reached Andevorante, the most important 
town, after Tamatave, on this coast. As the nearest 
point to the capital, and that from which the road 
begins to run direct, it would seem to be the natural 
port of Antananarivo ; and there can be little doubt 
that it will become so if the road is ever opened to 
the latter place. The mouth of the river Tharoka 
forms a fine harbour, at present rendered inacces- 
sible by the bar stretching across it. This, how- 
ever, is probably not more formidable than many 
similar ones — such as that at Durban — which have 
been opened as soon as the exigencies of trade 
demanded it. 

Monsieur de Yilers stopped at Andevorante to 
inspect the guard of honour that had been formed 
up to receive him ; and although we pushed straight 
on, we had time, as we passed, to note its appear- 

I 



130 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

ance, which was decidedly picturesque, though rather 
wanting in uniformity. Officers and men were 
dressed in every variety of what had once been 
uniforms — coats of blue or red or green, facings 
of equally various hues, trousers long and short, 
and in some cases wholly absent, and caps and 
helmets of every conceivable shape. After leaving 
Andevorante, we journeyed for about half an hour 
along the sand-spit which separates the river Tha- 
roka from the sea, till we arrived at the place where 
the canoes for our passage were supposed to be 
collected. Bat only three were there, and conse- 
quently the transit of ourselves and baggage was 
rather a lengthy operation. 

The latter was sent off first, and while waiting for 
the canoes to return, I took a stroll along the bank 
with Monsieur de A'ilers in search of flowers. Nearly 
all were strange to me, and so beautiful that I should 
have liked to dig up a whole sackful, but, bearing 
in mind our limited means of transport, had to con- 
tent myself with some lovely small red-and-black 
seeds of a creeper which was very abundant. On 
our return to the boats my porters brought me a 
curious yellow fruit, the size of an orange, with a 
hard shell, which on being opened disclosed a pulpy 
interior. I was not allowed to eat it for fear it was 
poisonous ; but I afterwards learned it was the deli- 
cious juicy voavontaka, which is so prized for its 
refreshing qualities. 



STOPPING A LEAK. 131 

When our turn came to cross, we found that even 
the few canoes available were of the most asfed 
and unseaworthy kind. The one in which I was had 
so big a hole in her bows that when she was fully- 
laden the water poured in. My boatman, however, 
thought nothing of such a little defect, which he soon 
remedied by the simple expedient of sitting down in 
the hole ! The country on the farther side of the 
river was a flat alluvial tract covered alternately with 
cultivation and thickish bush, and intersected here 
and there by streams, one of the largest of which we 
had to cross by a bridge formed of two slender tree- 
trunks, so narrow that the bearers had to lean out- 
wards with feet and hips touching, and bodies over- 
hanging the stream on either side — rather nervous 
work until I got accustomed to it ; but I soon found 
that the men never lost their footino; with a lioiit 
weight on their shoulders, and I ended by feeling 
that they would take me safely over every obstacle. 

At 9.50 we halted for breakfast at Taniman- 
dry, a stockaded village with a small Hova gar- 
rison, and the first telegraph-station on the line from 
the coast to the capital. After a good breakfast, and 
a siesta on the flat of our backs — which we all found 
was the only position that thoroughly rested us after 
sitting upright for so long in the filanzana — we 
started again in a westerly direction, through a 
marshy country, where here and there a little rice is 
grown ; after which we began to ascend the first steps 



132 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

of the great table-land occupying the centre of the 
island — a very irregularly formed plateau of red clay 
hills covered with scant grass, and almost wholly 
treeless. The most curious feature of the coun- 
try is the apparent absence of valleys : the hills 
struck me as being more like a number of gigantic 
bubbles or blisters than the ordinary undulations 
one is accustomed to see ; and the depressions be- 
tween them, having no outlets, are consequently 
very swampy and difficult to pass. They, however, 
made up in vegetation for the barrenness of the 
hill-tops ; and each was filled with a lovely thicket 
of fern-trees, palms, and wild pine- apples, mingled 
with a wealth of such tropical flowers as love these 
sheltered airless nooks. 

Late in the afternoon we came to the river Ma- 
hela, a rapid stream about a hundred yards wide, 
with steep clay banks fringed with a thick growth of 
the small-leaved bamboo. On the right bank, near 
the ferry, were a few very miserable native huts, 
whose occupants were only able to produce three of 
the smallest of dug-out canoes for our passage across. 
The crossing consequently took a long time ; and 
when finally we all got to the opposite shore, our 
porters had to put their best feet foremost to get to 
the next village before dark. 

It is extraordinary what these men can do when 
they set their minds to it. They had been going, on 
and ofi", since long before daybreak — the early part of 



A SLIPPERY PJDE. 



the day through heavy swampy ground, and after- 
wards up and down steep wet clay hills, at times so 



(. 







' \ i:\ 



\ 



'ib 


--^. ■^^^j 



"^.\- 









V 



fct 



Do-con-/iill. 



slippery that the back pair of each set of porters had 



134 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

to sit on their lieels and act as a drag; during the 
descent. In spite of all this, from the time we left 
the Mahela until we reached our halting-place for 
the night, I do not think they ever ceased running, 
chattering, and laughing for a moment, keeping up 
a good jog-trot up the hills, a steady run on the flat, 
and literally taking away one's breath by the pace at 
which they slid and bounded down the slopes. The 
country on this side of the river was far more regular 
in character than that on its eastern bank, and con- 
sisted of a series of hills and valleys, mostly running 
north and south — that is, at right angles to our 
route. At the bottom of most of the valleys were 
streams, some fairly broad and easily fordable, 
others narrow with abrupt clay banks, down the first 
of which the Jilanza7ia had to be lowered, feet first, 
at such an angle that one expected it would topple 
over the " leaders' " heads ; while the next moment 
the ascent on the other side found one reclining 
gracefully on the back of the chair, one's head rest- 
ing on the " wheelers' " bare shoulders. 

The valleys were luxuriantly clothed with jDalms 
and bamboos. Among the former I noticed quan- 
tities of the useful and ornamental Rajia, and, for 
the first time, the " Traveller's tree," bare-stemmed 
and with banana-like leaves. These, however, only 
grow near the top, and, unlike those of other palms, 
which grow all round the stem, are in two vertical 
rows on opposite sides of the trunk. The effect 



mInambonitr A. 135 

when facing it is that of an outspread fan. The 
stems of the leaves being hollowed at their junction 
with the trunk, form the troughs for the collection 
of rain - water, from which it earns its name. Of 
bamboos, the graceful small - leaved variety was 
most plentiful, some of them rising in single stems 
to over forty feet in height, the tender top-shoots 
hanging over, meeting their neighbours, and form- 
ino; lono^ vistas of Gothic arches. 

A couple of hours' run across this undulating 
plateau brought us to the edge of a deep valley, at 
the bottom of which lay our destination — Manam- 
bonitra — a good - sized, prosperous - looking village, 
surrounded by coffee-plantations, patches of sugar- 
canes, rice, and tobacco, and encircled by hedges of 
the edible passion-flower. 

Having got out of the district of regular travellers' 
huts, we were put up in a room occupied by a Mala- 
gasy family, who themselves turned out on our 
arrival, without, however, taking with them the 
varied collection of birds, animals, and insects with 
whom they seemed to be in the habit of living. 
We began by turning out the pigs and dogs, but 
soon found that the noise they made scratching 
against and squeezing through the cracks of the 
slim bamboo door was worse than their presence 
in their accustomed corners. The pigs were very 
harmless, and usually lived behind a little trellis 
of bamboos, making a charming lullaby with their 



136 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

grunts. Dogs I did not like so much ; tliey came 
sniffing round our beds, trying to find something to 
eat, and oTOwlino; and tumblino' over each other all 
night. The fowls and ducks we made no attempt 
to disturb, and they repaid our kindness by inter- 
fering as little as possible with our rest ; the former 
roosting c[uietly on the rafters over our heads, and 
the latter huddled in a corner behind another trellis 
like that which accommodated the pigs. Of course 
the village cock was as offensively boastful of his 
early rising as in other countries, but we had the 
luck never to share the same hut with him. The 
insect population we made every attempt to get rid 
of, but with painful want of success. I spent most 
of the night having great hunts among it — lighting 
up every quarter of an hour, much to the disgust of 
Harry, who was quite insect-proof, and did not at 
all see the fun of being disturbed ; but not being 
able to sleep myself, I could not resist the tempta- 
tion. I found the blanket - bag in which I slept 
was an excellent trap ; for after one or two bites 
they burrow in the warm wool, and can then be 
caught by dozens. 

The next morning — the beginning of our fourth 
day's journey — we started at five in a good down- 
pour, and after crossing the Mahela river again, 
passed over the same sort of undulating country as 
on the previous afternoon. We halted for break- 
fast at Ambatoharanana, a dirty little village some 



"the place of ml'ch sand." 137 

600 feet above the sea, at the bottom of a valley 
ankle-deep in mud, and hot and steamy after the 
morning's rain. Half the hut we were in was 
taken up with a pile of packing-cases and hydraulic- 
pressed bales on their way to the Queen ; but I was 
told that months might elapse before they reached 
their destination. As all her transport is conducted 
on the corvee system, the porterage has to be pro- 
vided by each village in succession ; and until some 
one turns up to put a little pressure on the head 
man, the task is indefinitely postponed. After 
breakfast, threading our heads again through the 
square holes of our Poncho waterproofs, we started 
off in a regular deluge, the men sliding in every 
direction, noisy as ever, and going at such a 
pace that I found it impossible to hold up an 
umbrella. As we went on, the features of the 
country became more pronounced, and more thickly 
covered wdth bush, which rather stopped our pro- 
gress, as there w^as often barely room for the men 
to run two abreast. The birds also became more 
plentiful : we saw quantities of little green parro- 
quets, as well as birds with metallic-looking feathers, 
the size of blackbirds. 

That night we slept at Ampasimbe, " The place 
of much sand," situated in a depression in the next 
great step towards the central plateau, at the height 
of about 1000 feet above the level of the sea — a larg;- 
ish, clean village, in which we were put up in a very 



138 THE ISLAXD OF MYSTERY. 

good liut, where, after the usual rush of the natives 
to fetch water for the travellers, we enjoyed a 
refreshing; tub. While w^aitins^ for dinner outside 
Monsieur de Yilers's big hut, w^e were entertained by 
the W'Omen of the place, wdio went through a curious 
performance, something between a dance and a 
processional march, walking along with a curious 
swaying movement, their hands outstretched from 
their sides, the backs curved upw^ards and slightly 
quivering, said to be in imitation of the flight of the 
falcon, the royal emblem of Madagascar. 

While we were at dinner we heard a shot fired, 
and soon afterwards in rushed the little Malagasy 
officer in a fearful state of excitement, asking, " Had 
we heard it ? Where did it come from ? Who was 
trying to murder us ? " and a few more incoherent 
questions all in one breath, at which we only burst 
out laug;hino^, — Monsieur de Vilers telling; him he 
really did not know, and that he had better go and 
find out for himself. Off he went, shortly after 
returning in great glee, having caught the would-be 
murderer, and tied him hand and foot so that he 
should not escape ; for he felt sure the man had 
intended to shoot '' Monsieui^ le ministre" and that 
it w^as his duty as a Malagasy officer to have him 
punished. Our host was amused at his zeal, but 
begged he w^ould do nothing further until he had him- 
self seen the man. So after w^e had had our coffee 
and cigarettes we all went to interview the prisoner. 



THE assassin's REVOLVER. 139 

I never saw such a frightened -looking creature as 
this terrible criminal ! Trembling all over, he ex- 
plained that the revolver was an old friend, whom 
for years he had been trying to let off, but until 
then without success, and with man}^ beseeching- 
gestures begged that he might be pardoned for its 
unexpected behaviour. On examining the rusty 
old weapon, our party agreed that he was c[uite 
justified in supposing it would not go off, but 
were also surprised that, having gone off, anything 
should have remained of it or its owner. Neverthe- 
less it was decided, in deference to the wish of the 
local authorities, that the poor wretch should be 
kept a prisoner until after our departure next clay. 
We were awakened next morning by the usual cry 
of ''Cafe!" and starting at 4.45, soon got on to 
the main track, off which our halting-place lay at 
some little distance ; and after a very steep climb for 
about an hour, we entered the outer belt of the great 
forest, following a very rough path, winding in and 
out, and over trunks of fallen trees, till another 
descent brought us down into a flat open valley. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the beauties of that first bit 
of forest, with its tangled masses of the "monkey- 
ropes" and creeping bamboos smothering the larger 
timber, as ivy does in the woods at home ; and I 
was quite sorry when we left it for the open valley. 
After a few days of it, however, I found it became 
deadly monotonous, and longed for a breath of fresh 



140 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

air and a glimpse of the sun. The curious absence 
of animal life and sounds had a very depressing 
effect, especially at night, when the silence was 
alone broken by the weird barking of the lemurs, 
the only wild animals we ever heard — and I believe 
the only ones in the island — and even of these we 
never caught a glimpse. 

After leaving the forest, the path — mostly follow- 
ing the beds of watercourses — led down a steep slope 
until we reached the village of Beforana, when it 
turns, a little to the northwards, and passing over a 
succession of red clay hills, each a little higher than 
its predecessor, plunges for good into the forest, 
virgin and overcrowded, a mass of upright giants 
and their fallen and decaying brethren, mingled with 
every variety of creeper and orchid, but still lacking 
the tropical rankness of the low-lying bush of the 
coast. I should often have liked to have stopped 
and had a closer look at the many strange plants 
round me, but as in these narrow 23aths the stoppage 
of one jilanzaiia often brings the whole column in 
rear to a halt, I had to press on. I, however, got 
my men to pick me some orchid -plants to send 
home, which I did with no success — on account, as 
I was afterwards told, of their having been packed 
in air-tioiit cases. 

At 10.15 we stopped at the small woodcutters' 
village of Ambasaniasy for breakfast, for which as 
usual I was more than ready. I suffered so much 



"the forest that weeps." 141 

from hunger in these long morning marches that 
Monsieur de Vilers gave me a supply of chocolate 
on which to keep myself going. Once I gave a bit 
to one of my men, and was amused to see the 
friendly terms that they were all on : the one to 
whom I had given it, after taking a nibble, passed 
it on to his companion, w^ho did the same, and so 
it went the whole round of my twelve bearers. I 
always noticed that anything they picked up w^as 
equally divided among them. 

We started again at 12.10, thel:oad getting worse 
at every step, running in a nearly straight line over 
hill and dale, without the smallest attempt to humour 
the gradients. We occasionally passed up and down 
slopes wdiich I was told had been measured by an 
officer and found to be over 45°, and which, from 
the slippery nature of the soil in " The forest that 
w^eeps," would be very difficult, even if far less steep. 
Here and there a vague attempt at engineering had 
been made by broadening a torrent-bed sufficiently 
to allow of the packages for the capital to pass. 
These watercourses are often from fifteen to twenty- 
five feet deep, with almost precipitous sides ; about 
four feet wide at the height of a man's shoulders, 
and only three feet in width at the bottom. One 
can easily imagine the difficulties porters have to en- 
counter, when one remembers that heavy packages, 
such as grand -pianos, — I actually saw one in the 
capital, — have to be carried along this road. 



142 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

I have never seen a road so badly chosen, or one 
on which so little engineering skill had been ex- 
pended. Not only had no attempt been made to 
turn the various ascents and descents encountered, 
but, by rigidly following the bottoms of the valleys 
and watercourses, the road passed alternately over 
tracts of level swamp and almost unclimbable slopes, 
when by the simple expedient of gradually ascend- 
ing along the sides of the valleys both evils would 
have been avoided. It is a noticeable fact, that 
while in the central plateau of Imerina the routes 
are always intelligently chosen, the path through the 
forest runs due east and west, regardless of obstacles, 
until it reaches the coast at a point nobody wants 
to arrive at, and thence turns abruptly along the 
sea-shore to Tamatave. 

Harry started a theory from this that Imerina 
had been originally colonised from the west, and 
that its semi -civilised inhabitants having lost the 
sense of locality common to all savages, and having, 
owing to the absence of the larger fauna, no tracks 
to guide them, were afraid to trust themselves to 
the forest except when following a straight line on 
the rising sun or along the beds of watercourses. 
If, he said, the road had been made from the coast 
by Malay pirates — one theory of the origin of the 
Hovas — it would, however stupidly chosen, un- 
doubtedly have run straight inland from Tamatave ; 
while had it been made by pure savages, even 



THE HOVA COUNTRY. 143 

without the first guidance of wild beasts, it would 
have been more intelligently laid out. 

At four o'clock we reached Analamazaotra, the 
frontier Hova station, having risen 1400 feet in 
the last twelve miles, the village itself being 3130 
feet above the sea -level. It is a large and pros- 
perous place, built in a big clearing. The native 
type here was totally different from that we had 
hitherto come across. The inhabitants of all the 
villages up to this had been black, with short curly 
hair and negro type of feature, and showed every 
sign of being of African origin. The Hovas, on the 
contrary, whom we had now got amongst, had com- 
plexions little darker than those of the peasantry 
of Southern Europe, straight black hair, rather sharp 
features, slim figures, and were unmistakably of the 
Asiatic type. 

As we stood in the doorway of our hut, a huge 
wall of trees, distant from a quarter to half a mile, 
hemmed us in on every side. To the west, standing 
out in strong contrast to the delicate greens and 
yellows of the cultivated fields, the lemon-groves, 
thickets of wild pine-apples and passion-flowers in 
full bloom, it was hard and black, and, except in 
outline, shapeless. To the east, lit up by the set- 
ting sun, it shone in every variety of hue, through 
purple, bronze, brown, and olive-green to brightest 
emerald — a softly dimpled mass. 

Although the distance covered during the day's 



144 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

march had been small, the men having barely 
averaged three miles an hour, owing to the extra- 
ordinary badness of the road, they had had a hard 
day's work, having had constantly to stoop right 
down to enable us to pass under the big half-fallen 
trunks of trees, or else go out of their way to avoid 
creepers hanging like great cobw^ebs across the road. 
Monsieur de Vilers made them a present of an ox — 
a wretchedly lean old beast, which I had seen being 
led down the street, but whose fate I did not realise 
until, hearing a fiendish noise outside our hut while 
I was unpacking, I looked out and saw all the men 
pushing, shoving, and scrambling for the best pieces 
of meat, they having already killed, skiuned, and 
cut up the poor animal. 

The following day we started at 5.15 a.m., again 
plunging into the forest, in which we kept for about 
three hours, then gradually descended into a swampy 
valley about four miles broad, and covered with rice- 
fields. The young shoots were then a few inches 
out of the water in which they are sown. I watched 
with much interest the process of transplanting, 
which was being carried on as we passed by a 
number of bare-limbed and bare-headed boys and 
women, mostly slaves. Before the young plants 
are moved, about half-a-dozen oxen are driven into 
the small square spaces, enclosed by low mud-ridges, 
and are goaded and harassed by a gang of shouting 
boys until the poor beasts have rushed about sufii- 



A HIGH-BORN HOVA. 145 

ciently to tread the muddy ground into a pulp, and 
thus make it ready for the reception of the rice- 
plants. Even the hillsides had with great labour 
been utilised by building a series of terraces, each 
irrigated by a stream which flowed into the valley. 

Leaving this cultivated bit, we again got into the 
forest, or rather a belt of it ; for after a couple of 
hours in it, and a sharp ascent of another half-hour, 
we found ourselves on a high grass - covered pass, 
from which, backwards, we got a o^rand view of the 
forest through which we had been travelling for the 
last three days ; while in front of us was the open 
valley of the Mangoro, bounded on the east by a 
bold range of hills. After two or three more ups 
and downs, some of them remarkably steep and 
slippery, we got on to a track which made some 
attempt to accommodate itself to the ground by 
winding round spurs and the heads of ravines, and 
gradually descended into the Ankay plain, on the 
edge of which we halted for breakfast at Moramanga 
— a market town and seat of Government, with well- 
built brick houses. 

"We were welcomed by the Governor of the j)i'o- 
vince — a high-born Hova, and an officer of " twelve 
honours," who turned out his troops to receive 
the Eesident - General ; but he — a little copper- 
coloured man with sleek black hair — was himself in 
European plain clothes, black frock-coat, and tall 
hat. He was invited to breakfast with us ; and 

K 



146 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

altlioiigli he could not speak French, with the help 
of Doctor Baissacle, who acted as interpreter, made 
himself very agreeable. While the men of the part}^ 
were smoking their cigarettes after breakfast in the 
open air, I, feeling very tired, lay down on the 
matted floor, but was soon roused by loud shouts 
and roars of laughter outside ; and running out, 
I saw all our porters trying to catch a wild-looking 
ox — a present from the Governor to Monsieur de 
Vilers — which was charging them, and sending them 
flying in all directions. The more they shouted, the 
wilder it got ; and it ended by breaking through 
them, and, escaping to the plain, never to be seen 
again by its new proprietor — although I have no 
doubt that it returned in due course to its original 
master, and perhaps lived to be presented again to 
other distinguished visitors. 

On leaving the town we were escorted some way 
by the Governor — a pure matter of form ; for march- 
ing as we did in single file at top speed, any attempt 
at conversation was imp)Ossible ; and the porters race 
each other and scatter, so that he had not even the 
chance of bidding us farewell in a body. We were 
now on a stretch of grassy plain, which for the next 
two hours afforded good going for the men, who did 
not seem the least fatigued by their wild chase after 
the bullock. No wonder they become so excited 
when there is a prospect of getting meat, their usual 
food being composed of manioc or sweet-potatoes, and 



MALAGASY EESTAURANTS. 147 

sometimes rice ; but even of these they seem to eat 
very little during the day. In the most deserted 
parts of the road one comes upon two or three 
women sitting together by the side of the path — 
almost always hideous old hags — boiling the manioc- 
roots over a small fire, round which they have gen- 
erally built a mud wall, in horse-shoe shajDC, about 
four feet high. These are the restaurants on the 
Antananarivo road ; and at one of them during the 
course of a day's march our men would stop for a 
couple of minutes and buy a handful of this root, 
all that I saw them eat between sunrise ajid sunset. 
Towards three o'clock we reached the river Man- 
goro, a swift stream about 120 yards wide, running 
between high banks fringed with palms and bam- 
boos, casting lovely reflections in the water. As 
there was a plentiful supply of big canoes, the 
passage was soon accomplished, and we were each 
able to cross over with our filanzana and our twelve 
bearers in the canoe with us. Having reached the 
other side, we at once mounted a high and very 
steep hill, on the summit of which we stopped 
for a few moments, and got ofi* our filanzanas to 
let our men take breath, and to enjoy the glorious 
panorama stretched on all sides beneath us. The 
farther slope of the hill was even steeper than that 
we had just climbed, and, if anything, much more 
slippery ; and after the hard pull up they had just 
had, I expected that the men would go down it 



148 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

quietly, but notliing of the sort ! Off they started as 
fast as their legs could carry them, throwing me like 
a ball from one to the other's shoulders. I am not 
ashamed to say I held on like grim death, for most 
of the party had had falls at one time or another, so 
that I was not at all sure when my turn would come. 
They only stopped wdien we reached Ambbdinifody, 
a small and dirty village of about tw^enty huts, built 
in the bottom of a valley running into that of the 
Mangoro, at a short distance from the point where 
we had crossed it ; consequently a very slight detour 
would have turned the high and steep cone-shaped 
hill over which we had just climbed. Having 
arrived rather early, we went for a walk in the 
village, where I was offered a — to me — new species 
of bird, that a little boy was carrying about dead 
in his hand. It was of a curious grey-blue colour, 
and I now believe was of the cuckoo tribe ; and I 
am sorry I did not buy, skin, and send it home. But 
by the end of the day's run in the open air, I always 
found that my energy had nearly evaporated, and 
that my chief thoughts were of dinner and bed. 

We started next morning at five, leading up the 
valley for a couple of hours through swamps and 
rice-fields, and passing several little villages of w^ell- 
built brick houses. Then climbing a steep hill, the 
last of the great steps to the plateau, we entered 
what proved to be the innermost belt of the forest. 



THE HOVA COUNTRY. 149 



III. 



Although we were now in the Hova province, 
and within a forced march of the capital, the forest- 
track, so far from having improved, was the worst 
we had yet met with. The succession of ups and 
downs seemed to be endless, huge fallen trees 
blocked the path at every few hundred yards, 
and the slipperiness of the track was too much 
even for my porters, who once or twice came down 
on their knees, without actually, however, giving 
me a fall. The belt fortunately was of no great 
width, and by eleven o'clock we reached Ankerama- 
dinika, a village on its edge, and the frontier mili- 
tary post of Imerina proper. 

The character of the country now completely 
changed. Instead of dark forest, or at best open 
valleys bounded by ranges of hills, a rolling prairie 
lay before us, on the waves of which we could see 
our road stretching for miles ahead ; while every 
half-hour or so brought in view some pretty hamlet 
of red-roofed cottages in a cluster of rice-fields. 

On first leaving the forest, withered tree -stems 
were to be seen standing in all directions, probably 
the remains left by some ancient fire ; but after a 
few miles the covintry became perfectly treeless, and 
except for one or two about the capital, I do not 
think that we saw a tree until we reached the 



150 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

forest on the western coast. Early in tlie afternoon 
we passed through Ambatomanga, a fortified country 
town surrounded by a deep and wide ditch. It 
happened to be market - day at this place, thus 
affording us our first glimpse of a Hova crowd ; 
and very picturesque the people looked, with their 
broad-brimmed straw hats, and snow-white lamhas 
thrown over their shoulders a V Espagnole — a strik- 
ino; contrast to the half-naked savao;es among whom 
we had been since we left the coast. 

After leaving this town we got into a more 
rugged and barren country, here and there rocky 
and precipitous, but mostly covered with poor short 
grass. It so happened that all the rest of the jDarty 
had gone ahead, and Harry was some distance in 
front of me when I noticed a wild-looking, half- 
starved bullock Q^razino; on the side of the hill a 
little below our path. The beast, attracted by the 
noise the porters were making, looked up, snorted, 
and began tossing his head. I knew at once he was 
preparing to charge Harry's party, who did not 
appear to notice him, and who, going at a good 
pace, soon turned a corner. The brute then trans- 
ferred his attentions to me. My men, I saw, realised 
the situation, and those running in front slackened 
their pace so as to keep all together. The owner, 
who was watching the beast, did all he could to 
drive him down the hill, but without any success ; 
and having been told that whenever the porters get 



A HOSTILE BULLOCK. 151 

into any difficulty their first thought is to save 
themselves, I quite expected to be left in the lurch, 
a prospect I did not at all relish ; for, being the last 
of the party, there would have been no chance of 
my being picked up. However, I must say on this 
occasion they behaved very well, and stood by me 
until the animal was a few yards off, when I tried 
the experiment of opening and shutting my umbrella 
to try and frighten him away ; seeing which, one of 
my men, who evidently thought the idea a brilliant 
one, snatched it out of my hand and rushed at the 
animal, opening it straight in his eyes, with the 
desired effect of sending him flying, while the rest 
took to their heels and ran for dear life with me on 
their shoulders. We soon caught up Harry, and 
found him quite unconscious of what had been going 
on behind him. 

Although the well-built stone houses and generally 
prosperous appearance of the country through which 
we had passed during the day had to a certain extent 
accustomed our eyes again to the aspect of civilisa- 
tion, the first view of the capital, which suddenly 
burst on us as we topped a ridge, was fairly start- 
ling. The appearance of Antananarivo would be 
remarkable in any part of the world, closely built 
as it is on a long steep-sided ridge, rising abruptly 
from a treeless undulating table-land. Its church- 
spires, palaces, and red-pointed gables are conspic- 
uous for miles round, and from their prosperous 



152 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

appearance, and in some cases pretentious style of 
architecture, would convey the impression of an 
important and well-built city even in Europe. But 
after a 225 -mile journey through dense tropical 
forest, roadless, almost trackless, and inhabited only 
by a handful of half- naked savages, the sudden 
appearance of this towering evidence of civilisation 
almost takes away one's breath. 

When we first saw the capital it was some ten 
miles distant, and we could easily have reached it 
that night ; but having only taken six days on our 
journey instead of seven, as had been reckoned, our 
arrival would have been unexpected, and the various 
persons whose duty or pleasure it is to meet the 
Kesident-General on such occasions would have been 
unable to do so ; so Monsieur de Yilers decided to 
stop for the night at Betafo, a flourishing suburb of 
two-storeyed brick villas in pretty gardens, enclosed 
within mud walls, surmounted by a fence of the 
prickly waxen-flowered euphorbia. In one of these 
villas we were entertained for the night by a hospit- 
able Hova, whose civilised surroundings made me 
occasionally wonder wdiether I was not dreaming. 
It was so difficult to realise that, after saying good- 
bye to the not very advanced civilisation of Tama- 
tave, and plunging into the forest, we could, with- 
out having retraced our steps, be really walking on 
polished j^ctrquet floors, sitting at a large mahogany 
dinner-table, or sleeping in a brass bedstead between 



ARRIVAL AT THE CAPITAL. 153 

clean sheets. It was almost \Yitli a sense of lone- 
liness that, being awakened by the banging of a 
Venetian shutter, I realised that the door was firmly 
shut, and that there was not even a litter of pigs 
under my bed, or a hen on the curtain-rods above 
it. However, I woke up in the morning all the 
better for a good night's rest, and gladly put up 
with the slight inconvenience of not beino; able to 
turn the contents of my tub out of the door, in 
return for the unaccustomed luxury of a looking- 
glass, in which I could see to do my hair without 
having to emulate a professional contortionist. 

Daylight showed that, in spite of its luxurious 
accessories, our host's dwelling was not absolutely 
perfect. IsTothing in it appeared to be finished. 
One window in the room was framed and glazed, the 
other nailed up with rough boards ; part of the 
stair -banisters had no top -rail ; outside, only a 
portion of the roof had been tiled ; and so on 
throughout. I noticed this peculiarity in every 
other Hova house which I afterwards saw, and was 
told that it was due to a superstition that the 
owner of a house always dies within a year of its 
completion. As they have a rooted objection to 
repairing anything, combined with a mania for 
building, the result is a great mass of houses in 
a state of dilapidation. 

Early in the morning a mixed escort of French 
and Hova ofiicials arrived to welcome the Kesident- 



154 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

General and accompany him into the capital. As it 
was raining hard, and he had to make a detour 
through the town, we were advised to let him start 
ahead ; so for once we had our early cup of coffee in 
peace, and at about half-past nine started, acconi- 
j)anied by Doctor Baissade, for our destination. 

A closer inspection of the capital did not at all 
dissijDate the feeling of surprise which the first view 
of it had caused. Around us were the flat rice-fields 
divided into squares by narrow mud-banks, some 
submerged, others a mass of waving green. Out 
of this chessboard-like tract, immediately in front 
of us, rose a long ridge some five hundred feet high, 
thickly covered with pretty little red-brick houses, 
each apparently standing in its own garden ; spires 
of half-a-dozen churches cut the sky-line ; while to 
the left, on the highest part of the ridge, were two 
huge square white palaces. 

From its situation and its incongruity with its 
surroundings, Antananarivo is undoubtedly a re- 
markable sight, viewed from the plain ; but there 
is nothing imposing about it. The architecture is 
of too toy -house and cockney an order, and its 
whole aspect violates the first principle of art, 
that of putting the right thing in the right place. 
At Sydenham, Charlottenburg, or Saint Cloud, it 
would have been a picturesque object ; in the midst 
of the great African island its effect was almost 
ridiculous. 



ENTERING THE CAPITAL. 155 

While I was thinking of all this, its incongruity 
with its surroundings was sharply brought to my 
notice by a splash and a sudden bump, both due to 
the remarkable thoroughfare by which alone the 
metropolis can be reached. This consists of a track 
slightly raised in the centre, some fifteen inches 
w^ide, and occupying the whole ridge of one of the 
little mud -banks already mentioned. With the 
ground as wet as it was, I am not at all sure if 
I could have walked along it alone ; but the extra- 
ordinary feats that my bearers had performed in 
this way, made me take it as a matter of course that 
they would run along it, leaning outwards like a 
V. Perhaps the excitement of nearing the capital 
was too much for them, but whatever the cause, the 
tw^o " wheelers " suddenly slipped, and, gliding into 
the neighbouring rice-fields, left me sitting — feet in 
air — on the ground. It was a good job it was not 
the ''leaders" who had slipped, or I should probably 
have had an opportunity of seeing whether I admired 
the capital more in an inverted position. 

The part of the ridge for which we made is as- 
cended by a narrow path cut out of the solid rock, 
and polished by centuries of barefooted trafiic. No 
attempt has been made, by zigzags or other devices, 
to lessen the incline, and it would have been a 
steepish climb even had the road afi'orded good foot- 
hold : as it was, I should think it absolutely impass- 
able to any one w^earing boots. Our porters, how- 



156 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

ever, seemed to think nothing of it, but running at 
top speed, shouting all the time to clear the way, they 
soon reached Ambohimitsimbina, the highest quarter 
of the town ; then turning to the right, entered the 
main street, which runs along the summit of the 
ridge, occasionally turning towards the western and 
steeper side, where it overhangs the precipice, sup- 
ported on a rough stone embankment. After passing 
through the town we left this, and entering a narrow 
street, suddenly stopped before the big iron gateway 
which marks the entrance to the French Residency. 
Passing through this, we found ourselves on a well- 
kept lawn, bounded on the right by a substantial 
two-storeyed red-brick house, and commanding on 
the left a fine view of the western slope of the 
town. Viewed from the east, the ridge seems 
nearly straight, but it is in fact kidney -shaped, 
and it is on the lower or north-western projection 
that the Residency is built, thus affording a view 
of the whole of its one face, and the upper or 
southern projection of Tamponbohitra, on which 
are the two royal palaces. From the rugged nature 
of the ground, this face of the ridge is much more 
imposing in appearance than that first seen on ap- 
proaching the capital from the east. Part of it is 
a sheer precipice, in places overhanging the plain, 
and in all parts broken by great granite masses, 
o-ivino; fine effects of lig;ht and shade. Like the 
eastern slope, however, its rugged beauty has been 






\h'»ttk./'^. 



4- ; 






f 






J 




THE CORONATION GROUND. 157 

as far as possible marred by the efforts of man. 
The same pretty little suburban villas, with the 
surrounding walled enclosures, are crammed into 
every possible site, and in some places — with 
great ingenuity and at an immense expenditure 
of labour in excavation, and building terraces for 
their support — are balanced on the most impracti- 
cable and rocky escarpments. 

Immediately below the Residency garden to the 
west is a large sheet of water — I believe artificial — 
with an island in the centre ; in the distance a long 
range of purple, cloud - capped hills ; and in the 
middle distance, partly hemmed in by a low range 
of hills, the Kabary plain, used as a parade-ground 
and place of assemblage on fete days, and the 
meeting-place of the Queen and her people on all 
occasions when she wishes to communicate with 
them en masse. Here the Sovereigns are crowned, 
and standing in the centre of the natural amphi- 
theatre, on a flat-topped rock known as the Sacred 
Stone, receive the first greetings of their assembled 
subjects. Here also, after her annual visit to the 
summer palace of Ambbhimanga, the Queen halts 
with her escort of two thousand troops, and is 
received by the Court officials and inhabitants of 
the city. 

One afternoon I was asked by Doctor Baissade 
to go down there and see a native fete which was 
then taking place; but feeling rather lazy, I de- 



158 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

clinecl. On liis return he said that it was as well 
that I had done so, as the exhibition of mosiirs 
Malgaclies which he had witnessed had been wholly 
unfit for my close inspection. 

On the southern edge of the Kabary ground, and 
forming a link between its western bank and the 
ridge of Antananarivo, is a curious mound, tumulus- 
shaped, but some three hundred feet high, down 
the sides of which run straight steep-sided trenches 
about ten feet deep by ten feet wide, radiating from 
the summit like the spokes of a wheel. No one 
could tell me why or when they had been dug, nor 
could my imagination make up for the lack of 
information. 

At the northern end of the lawn, and a little be- 
low it, were the barracks of the Resident-General's 
escort, composed of two officers and fifty men of the 
Infanterie de Marine, for whose presence, as a pre- 
cautionary measure, he had obtained the sanction 
of the Malagasy Government. On another day we 
visited these barracks, which were particularly well 
arranged and kept ; and both officers and men 
seemed thoroughly satisfied with their cjuarters, 
and content to be counting foreign service in such 
a pleasant and healthy locality. I do not know how 
often they are changed, but I should imagine not 
very frequently ; for as each man has to be carried 
up from the coast in a filanzana with twelve bearers, 
the conveyance must be rather a costly matter. 



INTERIOR OF FRENCH RESIDENCY. 159 

Crossing the lawn, we were received by Monsieur 
de Yilers, who came out to meet us, and at once 
took us in to breakfast. 

Luckily I had been partly broken in to civilisa- 
tion by the experiences of the previous night, or 
the interior of the Kesidency would quite have per- 
suaded me that I was dreaming. As a rule, even 
in the most luxurious colonial private houses and 
Government buildings there is a certain roughness 
and want of finish, which, however comfortable the 
rooms may be, afford unmistakable evidence that 
one is out of Europe. Here, the outer door once 
closed, I felt that I had stepped into France. Fur- 
niture, decoration, books, draperies, pictures, all 
spelt out "Paris" as plainly as if the maker's label 
had been attached to each; yet, oddly enough, 
Monsieur de Yilers told me that all the wood-carv- 
ing and decoration had been carried out by Hova 
workmen. The rooms themselves were large and 
well proportioned, and though evidently designed 
and decorated with a view to impress the native 
mind with the resources of French civilisation, were 
both cool and comfortable. Nevertheless we w^ere 
not sorry to hear that we were to be lodged in a 
humbler abode, the little cottage just over the way, 
occupied by Monsieur d'Anthouard, where Monsieur 
de Vilers thought we should be more independent 
and undisturbed. Accordingly after breakfast we 
strolled across, and were received by a tidy cheer- 



160 



THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 



ful- looking woman witli rather a dark skin, jet- 
black hair tightly plaited round her head, wearing 
a cotton skirt, and a lamha over her shoulders. 




f\ 



."^ 




<J^S-:' 



Our Malagasy landlady. 



Both she and her husband, the proprietor of the 
house, were high-born Hovas ; but we found him 
in their little back -kitchen working at his trade. 



RECEPTION OF THE RESIDENT. 161 

that of a tailor, which he plied when not engaged 
in his duties as an officer of several " honours " in 
the Kegiment of the Koyal Guard. It is only by 
the number of these honours that the different 
ofrades of officers and non-commissioned officers are 
distinguished. I forget the exact equivalent to our 
ranks ; but assuming that a corporal is an officer of 
one honour, a sergeant of two, a lieutenant would 
be four, a lieutenant-colonel seven, and so on. 

We were shown into two very clean and cheerful- 
looking rooms on the first floor, opening on to a bal- 
cony to the east ; and here, after all the jolting of 
the past week, we were very glad to rest till late 
in the afternoon. When returning to the Kesidency, 
we found the whole lawn occupied by a motley 
crowd of natives of all sorts, conditions, sexes, and 
ages — all dressed in white lamhas and broad- 
brimmed straw hats, and all squatting on the 
ground. Wondering what on earth they could 
have come for, we picked our way through them 
to the entrance-door, at which Monsieur de Yilers 
was standing. He told us with a grim smile that 
they had come to welcome him and offer him gifts, 
— in other words, to play again the good old game 
of trying to get a penny bun for a halfpenny. 
The gifts consisted of fowls, eggs, bits of cloth, 
straw hats, and baskets, &c., for none of which 
Monsieur de Vilers had the slightest need, and 
which, from the overwhelming quantities in which 

L 



162 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

they were poured in, were a positive nuisance, but 
for which he had, nevertheless, to give in exchange 
portions of that very useful commodity, the five- 
franc piece. One or two, in addition to the so- 
called presents, had goods which they offered for 
sale. One was unsuccessful in jDcrsuading us to 
buy a cage full of lemurs — uninteresting little ani- 
mals, whose sole claim to notice lies in their being 
the only indigenous quadruped of Madagascar. With 
another, who had a really beautiful collection of 
silk lamhas, we did some business, and, at prices 
ranging from £1, 10s. to £2, bought some very 
handsome strips of pure, thick, white-flowered silk, 
about three yards wdde by four or fiye yards long ; 
also others of equally good design in which the silk 
was mixed with palm-fibre. The Hovas appear to 
be excellent workmen, but have unfortunately no 
inventive faculty, and I was told that these designs 
were imported from EurojDe ; and indeed I never 
saw anything in the country which had any beauty 
beyond that of the excellence of its workmanship. 
We had a great rummage one day through the 
market and all the shops we could find, but the 
only things that at all took our fancy were the 
straw hats, and some snufi'-boxes made of polished 
bamboo plugged at the ends by bits of pumpkin- 
rind. 

Probably the Malagasy mind does not naturally 
tend towards decorative art ; but I cannot believe 



SHOPPING IN ANTANANARIVO. 163 

that such good workmen would not turn out more 
objects of art than they do, did they receive any 
encouragement. The corvee system, however, en- 
forced on all grades of society, has exactly the 
opposite effect, and makes all classes afraid of 
letting their proficiency become known, for fear 
of being impressed for compulsory unpaid labour. 
Theoretically, everybody in the island is the private 
property of the Sovereign, and consequently their 
labour and produce are hers also. This in itself 
would probably work no great harm, were it not 
for the power to transfer her rights — tli^ exercise 
of which power leads each grade to demand, in 
the Queen's name, free labour from that below it, 
with the result that the chief desire of each section 
of the community is to induce its superiors to believe 
that it is absolutely useless and incapable. 

In a way, the absence of tempting things to buy 
was rather a comfort, for we got hauled over the 
coals for our little shopping expedition on foot, 
which we were told was a most undignified pro- 
ceeding for a Euro23ean or well-born native — our 
guardsman-tailor-landlord would never have dreamt 
of such a thing ; and shopping from a Jilanzana is 
such a complicated operation, that it takes away all 
the charm. The process must be rather like shop- 
ping on elephant -back, if such a thing is done 
anywhere, as in each case the same business has 
to be gone through of lowering the carriage to 



164 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

the ground, before its occupant can get out of it. 
The Hova objection to walking was certainly ac- 
counted for by the condition of the streets, which 
were more like the beds of mountain torrents than 
anything else, and in many places almost impassable, 
except to the barefooted natives. Nor was passing 
through them in a filanzcma an unmixed pleasure at 
this season, owing to the occupation of the town by 
herds of loose bulls, which had been driven in from 
all parts of the country as offerings to the Queen, 
at the approaching festival of the Fondroana, but 
which for two or three days prior to the feast were 
apparently allowed to devote their whole energies to 
the work of reducing the population. 

I had an opportunity of studying this phase of 
Malagasy life the first time we went out in our 
Jilanzanas. We were passing down a steep and 
very narrow street leading out of the market-place, 
when we heard shouts behind us, of which my 
porters evidently understood the meaning, for with 
one bound they landed me over a low wall into a 
small courtyard. As soon as I had recovered my 
surprise I looked round, and saw that Monsieur 
d'Anthouard had jumped off, and with his bearers 
had squeezed into a doorway ; while Harry's men, 
whom he had somehow got into the habit of only 
doing what they were told, were standing, with him 
on their shoulders, in the street, down which rushed 
a shouting crowd chased by two enormous hump- 



A CHARGE OF BULLS. 165 

backed bulls, charging in all directions, and driven 
perfectly wild by another crowd behind them, shout- 
ing even louder than the first, and pelting the 
beasts with any missiles that came to hand. 

The next day, the town being still given over to 
the bulls. Monsieur d'Anthouard took us to see the 
country-place of the Jesuit mission ; so getting out 
of the town by the nearest way, we crossed the rice- 
fields and the ridge beyond them to the east, and 
after about three-quarters of an hour's journey found 
ourselves outside a fine country-house, approached 
by an avenue of mango-trees, and situated in a good 
large garden bordered by the Ikopo river. We 
were received by two of the Jesuit Fathers, who 
showed us over the grounds and buildings. Every- 
thing was thoroughly simple and well kept ; but 
the points which most interested me were the 
workshops and mausoleum — the former as showing 
the practical nature of the training given to the 
converts, and the latter the Fathers' complete dis- 
regard of death. In each of the workshops was one 
of them, bare-armed and coatless, surrounded by a 
group of natives, who were helping or watching him 
make a chair, a sauce-pan, or a pickaxe, according 
to his trade. Others were working in the garden or 
fields ; and at the time of our visit, at all events, 
doctrinal teachinsf seemed to be the last thine^ in 
the minds of all. The mausoleum was a handsome 
building entered by an open-work iron gateway, 



166 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

made on the premises, round the interior of which 
were arranged rows of pigeon-holes, some closed and 
inscribed with a name and two dates — some of 
which showed that ripe old age was attained here 
— others still open, and uninscribed. On none of 
these were any written expression of regret, or hints 
as to the character or history of the person whose 
body lay behind the plain iron door. Pointing to 
an uninscribed niche in the right-hand corner, our 
guide laughingly told us that it was the recess 
reserved for himself. Custom, of course, made us 
assume a more subdued manner while in this house 
of the dead ; but our guide, on the contrary, con- 
tinued to talk in his liveliest tone, evidently fully 
imbued with the conviction — singularly rare among 
Christians — that death is only important as being a 
chang;e for the better. 

On our way home we were twice reminded of the 
approaching Fondroana : first, by passing a number 
of men carrying great fagots of dried wood — these, 
I was told, were slaves who, having no property of 
their own, were allowed to collect wood and present 
it to the Queen in token of subjection ; secondly, by 
the much more objectionable offerings of the free 
men. We had arrived within fifty yards of the 
Kesidency gate without meeting any of these, my 
hetes noires, as I may literally call them, and I was 
duly congratulating myself on the fact, when, turn- 
ing a corner, I found that the road was blocked by 



THE BULLS AGAIN. 167 

a crowd, and, looking over their heads, saw a great 
bull standing in the gateway, foaming at the mouth, 
and bellowing with all his might. We had to halt 
for some little time while he made up his mind as 
to his next move ; which done, he suddenly charged 
into the crowd, scattering them in all directions. 
Luckily he went off the opposite way to that in 
which we were coming, so we were able to slip 
into the Residency without further adventures. 

I was told this was the last occasion on which I 
should be likely to encounter these beasts singly in 
the streets ; but that on the next day I should see, 
from a safe place, a remarkable sight, the whole 
collection of them streaming through the town in 
a body. On the following mid-day we accordingly 
went to the house of a Frenchman who had started 
a silk manufactory, and whose balcony overlooked 
the Andohalo square, a large open space in the 
centre of the town, the middle of which was now 
densely crowded with men and boys, while round 
its edges were erected a number of booths, be- 
yond which again every safe nook and corner was 
crammed with women and children. All this ex- 
citement was due to the fact that the bulls were 
about to be let loose from the palace-yard. After 
being fattened for some weeks in small backyards, 
where they have hardly room to move, they are 
driven — as I had already experienced — with great 
difficulty into the courtyard of the Palace, where 



168 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

they are penned, until on the day of the Fondroana 
the Queen receives them as an offering from her 
subjects. This ceremony over, the beasts are let 
loose, and become the projDerty of whoever can 
catch them. 

Soon after twelve the excitement began. First 
one bull came dashing down the narrow street into 
the square, followed by his rightful owner, and a 
crowd of men and boys all equally anxious to secure 
the j)rize ; then at short intervals came another and 
another, then half-a-dozen abreast, driving every- 
thing before them. Soon the square was full of 
beasts charging in all directions, foaming, roaring, 
and panting, amid shouts and showers of sticks and 
stones from men and boys, until some of the poor 
beasts dropped down dead from sheer exhaustion. 
It was a cruel and disgusting sight, a sort of very 
feeble imitation of a Spanish bull-fight without any 
of its pomp. 

Harry went down into the square and photo- 
graphed a bull just as it was charging at him : 
unfortunately this negative, together with nearly 
all those we took in Madagascar, got ruined by the 
damp. However, if he did not get his negative, 
he had a little excitement, which always does him 
good ; while I only had a very unpleasant five 
minutes, expecting every moment to see him gored. 
As it happened, after he had jumped out of the 
bull's way, the beast rushed at a boy just behind 




< 

H 
Z 
< 

Pi 



THE BULLS LET LOOSE. 169 

him, and sending his horn right into his eye, 
dragged it out. The boy, like a madman, got up 
and went straight at the next beast. Luckily he 
was only knocked over, and was dragged from the 
scene by his friends. 

I soon got very tired of this feeble and disgust- 
ing sight; but as it was not thought safe to go 
through the town until all the animals had been 
driven out of the place, I had to wait. One slight 
variation to the scene w^as afforded during the after- 
noon. Suddenly the bulls were left to themselves, 
and the whole crowd rushed to one of the booths, 
from which a man was dragged by every limb in 
such a way that I was expecting at any moment 
to see him torn in pieces : by the time he reached 
the middle of the square every stitch of clothing 
had been torn off his back, and in this state he was 
conducted to the Palace. It turned out that he 
had stolen some goods from one of the booths, and 
was being taken to the Palace for judgment. 

On our way home we were treated to a little 
surprise, which to my uninstructed mind seemed 
as if it should have been our last. Under some 
fig-trees, in a part of the road which overhangs 
the w^estern cliff, are a row of rusty old cannon 
lying on the ground with their muzzles over the 
precipice, exposed to all weathers, and apparently 
wholly uncared for. I had often passed them on 
my w^ay through the town, but had never suspected 



170 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

that any sane human being would try to let them 
off. What was my horror, then, to find myself 
jammed in a crowd in the midst of them, while a 
man ran from one to the other with a lighted piece 
of tow. First one a dozen yards to my left went 
off successfully ; then the next gave a fizz, and 
nothing else happened ; then came the turn of the 
one behind which I was standing, and I fervently 
prayed that it also might miss fire, but no such 
luck ! Ofi" it went with a bang, jumping back 
almost on to the toes of my bearers, but to 
my great surprise doing no damage ; and so 
on down the whole row — none of them bursting^ 
thanks to the special providence which watches 
over idiots. 

The live bulls had been bad enough, but I am not 
sure that I should not have preferred meeting them 
again, with all their superfluous energy, to seeing 
and smelling them in the 2^ ost -mortem condition in 
which they came so painfully to the front during 
the next few days. For the previous forty-eight 
hours abstinence from meat had been enforced 
throughout the town ; but the ceremony of the 
royal gift over, the inhabitants made up for their 
fast by a wholesale slaughter, with the result that 
the wdiole town reeked of blood, while at every 
step one ran into men carrying great hunks of 
raw meat, presents, "with the compliments of the 
season," from her Majesty to her faithful subjects. 



THE FEAST OF THE BATH. 171 

We were favoured with one of these joints, which 
was loyally devoured by our porters. 

The next day was that of the much-talked-of Feast 
of the Bath, during which the Queen is supposed to 
bathe in the presence of her people. Having received 
an invitation to this, we mounted our jilanzanas 
after an early dinner, and at about seven in the 
evening alighted at the big gate of the Tranovola, 
or Silver Palace, where a crowd was collected to 
see the arrival of the guests. Passing through 
the guard of honour, we crossed a wide court- 
yard, lit with many Chinese lanterns, and entered 
the antechamber, a room about thirty feet square, 
whose ceiling was supported by a single column in 
the centre. On a circular table round this column 
were laid out the presents which the Queen had 
received on this and former similar occasions. Not 
a very valuable collection, mostly of European or 
rather Palais Koyal origin — a clock with a china 
figure swinging as a pendulum, ormolu inkstands, 
highly coloured honbonnieres, and paper-weights. 
Birds, beasts, and fishes were there in every ma- 
terial except flesh and blood, and applied to every 
use except those for which nature constructed their 
prototypes. The walls of the room were covered 
for about two-thirds of their height with a coloured 
paper representing scenes in the Crimean war ; above 
this was a strip of hideous red-patterned paper, then 
a frieze of a very large conventional pattern in good 



172 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

colouring. Four curious pictures — the product evi- 
dently of native art — were liung, one in the centre 
of each wall, representing a very conventional town, 
with a king and queen on either side sitting under 
a more than conventional palm-tree, upon which 
was perched the royal falcon of Madagascar. In 
one of these pictures the palm grows out of the 
back of an eight - winged armadillo, or crocodile 
without a tail. 

In this room all the guests were assembled, wait- 
ing to be admitted into the Royal presence. The 
English contingent was represented by the Yice- 
Consul — Mr Pickersgill — Bishop Cornish, a good 
number of missionaries, and the Englishmen in the 
Queen's employ, as well as their wives. Another 
group was formed by the French in a different part 
of the room. The native guests comjDleted the 
assemblage, most of them dressed in uniform. I 
heard one of them asking the Eesident-General who 
we were. They could not make out why, being 
English, we should be the guests of the French — it 
being pretty well known that there was but little 
love lost between the French and Endish communi- 
ties in the capital. 

After waiting some time, an ofticer in uniform 
came and announced that the Queen was ready to 
receive us ; so again crossing the courtyard, we soon 
entered the big archway of Manjakamiadana, or the 
Gold Palace, through which we passed to the door 



THE PRIME MINISTER. 173 

of the throne - room, where Kavoninahitraniorivo, 
Prime Minister, Prince Consort, and Commander-in- 
Chief, was standing. He is a short, well-built man, 
rather dark for a Hova, with a large moustache, dark 
piercing eyes, and low forehead. He was dressed in 
a patrol jacket and trousers made of fawn-coloured 
silk, with a silver embroidered sword-belt, all of 
native manufacture. Pound his neck was the 
" Leg;ion of Honour," and on his breast were several 
foreign decorations. He is said to be sixty-two, but 
looks about thirty-five — and no wonder ; for when 
afterwards we were presented to him, I saw that his 
hair and moustache were dyed, and that altogether 
his face was very cleverly made up. After bowing 
to him, w^e all passed on to the centre of the room, 
which was divided off by red stanchions and ropes a 
la Buckingham Palace on Drawing-room days, and 
were led to the part reserved for foreign visitors, 
facing the throne. Harry and I were between Mon- 
sieur de Vilers and the English Vice-Consul, who 
seemed to be the honoured guests. The room w^as 
eighty feet square, and, like the first, had a big pillar 
in the centre, with more rubbishy presents arranged 
round it. In the corner of the room behind us was 
the Queen's red velvet chaise-a-porteurs, a great 
heavy unwieldy- looking thing that must be very 
inconvenient for the men to carry across country. 
Just on our right was a group of native Methodists 
squatting on mats. Between them and the throne 



174 



THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 



were the Queen's female relations and ladies of the 
Court — most of them young, and some almost pretty 




Malagasy Princesses. . 

-also sitting on the floor. The part of the room 



THE QUEEN". 175 

between the throne and the door was railed off for 
the native officials, leaving a passage between them 
and us, which was lined with the gentlemen-at-arms. 
The latter wore an extraordinary jumble of different 
uniforms, red English infantry tunics with yellow 
facings, French sailors' peaked caps with gold bands 
— some with anchors, some with crowns, and one with 
an eagle. Shoes were as varied, but the favourite 
kind seemed to be the canvas tennis-shoe with black 
india-rubber soles and toecaps. Swords and sword- 
belts were also of every variety of pattern. 

The throne, with its three steps covered with crim- 
son velvet, on which the Queen was seated in an 
elaborately gilt arm-chair, had over it, flat against 
the wall, an arch of trumpery leaves and white paper 
roses resting upon pillars of repousse silver. The 
Queen was attired in a crimson velvet dress, the 
train being the only part we saw, as she was entirely 
wrapped up in a red lamha. On her head was a 
gold-embroidered coronet. She has regular features 
and very good teeth, and would probably look pretty 
were she not so sallow. Her shiny black hair was 
plaited and done up in a knob. She sat there look- 
ino- round her in a bored and listless way ; the face 
showing no strength of character, and seeming more 
than twenty-five, which I am told is her age. Hav- 
ing seen the guests in, the Prime Minister took up a 
position on the steps of the throne, but did not stay 
there long, as half the time he was fidgeting about, 



176 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

seeing that everything had been properly prepared 
in that part of the room railed off for the native 
guests. 

As soon as we had all settled into our places the 
ceremony began, and a more extraordinary jumble 
I have never witnessed. First came a string of 
men-slaves carrying the different things needed for 
making a fire and for cooking purposes. Each in 
turn walked up to within a certain distance of 
the throne, bowed low, at the same time raising 
above his head whatever he was carrying. He then 
backed into the roped-off enclosure and deposited 
his burden. In the middle of this enclosure two 
square slabs had been laid, wdth bricks in the centre 
of each; on these fires were lit, reminding one of 
a gipsy camp. A big, fat, good - natured - looking 
native, dressed something like a French cook, who 
superintended the culinary proceedings, turned out 
to be one of the Queen's Ministers, who had for 
some years lived in Paris. Two enormous pots that 
had been used during several reigns on these solemn 
occasions were then placed on the tripods over the 
fires. Water was brought, which the ex-Minister 
poured into the pots, then filled one up with rice, 
spooning it with a big wooden ladle out of a bag 
held by a slave. In the other he put some meat 
which had been kept from the year before as an 
emblem of plenty, and which, as may be imagined, 
was fairly high. While all this was being cooked. 



BATHING THE QUEEN. 177 

slaves brought banana-leaves, which were given to 
some of the women, who cut them up, making fans 
to blow the fires, and square bits, with two of the 
corners pinned together, to use as spoons. 

The time for the bath had come. A lars^e sheet 
was stretched and held by three women at the 
corner of the room nearest the throne. The Prime 
Minister got up, and bowing low to his Queen, gave 
her his hand, helped her down the steps, and led 
her behind the sheet, where she remained some 
time, evidently longer than her husband approved 
of, for he w^as continually peeping behind the sheet 
dliring the bath. Meanwhile a strange mixture of 
noises was going on. Inside the room the native 
Methodists were offering up prayers and singing 
doleful hymns, while the band outside struck up 
wild-sounding Malagasy tunes. At intervals some- 
body, who took great pains to copy the intonation 
of an English drill - sergeant, put somebody else 
through the manual and firing exercise. This was 
without doubt one of the relics of the Willoughby 
reign. 

At last Her Majesty emerged from behind the 
sheet. I at once recognised the same crimson train, 
so I fancy the only change she had made was taking 
ofi" her lamha, showing an entirely Euro23ean dress 
with its bodice cut square in front. The beautiful 
diamond necklace presented to her by the French 
Eepublic, and the massive gold crown she now wore,. 

M 



THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY, 



made lier look very magnificent. I remarked after- 
wards to Monsieur de Yilers that it seemed a pity 
she used European materials, especially as on this 
particular occasion she expects the Court to dress in 
stuffs made on the island. He told me she got all 
her smart clothes from Paris, and from the curious 
cut of the dress I imagine they are made according 
to what the Parisians think will suit native taste. 
In her right hand she held a gourd mounted in 
silver, full of the water she was supposed to have 
bathed in. Giving her other hand to the Prime 
Minister, she walked to the door and back again, 
sprinkling the contents of her cup over everybody 
as a sort of blessing. She then ascended the throne, 
and we all sat down on our heels — a position we did 
not in the least appreciate, as our legs soon began 
to ache — wdiile more prayers were said, which she 
followed in her red prayer-book. 

Now began the ceremony called the "Hasina," of 
presenting silver coins in token of allegiance. The 
governors and chiefs of the kingdom walked up the 
gangway three at a time, bowing low, with hands out- 
stretched as if to catch blessings and distribute them 
to the rest, and at the same time to defend them- 
selves from the too great glory of the Sovereign. 
They halted some distance from the throne, where 
the Queen's sister was squatting on the ground for 
the purpose of receiving the coins, which they put in 
her hand after making short addresses to the Queen, 



THE "HASINA." 179 

to which she answered in a few w^ords. Last of all 
came the Sakalavas, who, being black, cannot ap- 
proach the Queen; so they made their addresses from 
just within the doorway, the sister having to go 
down to them to receive their offerings. After this 
she walked up to the throne, and shovelled the whole 
sum on to the Queen's lap in a most undignified 
manner. The Prime Minister had all this time 
been sitting on the lower step of the throne. He 
now got up, and in his turn made a speech to the 
Queen, enlivened by many gesticulations, and ended 
by thanking her for all her favours, and swearing 
loyalty in his own name and that of the army. 
The band struck up, the officers drew and waved 
their sw^ords, while the shouts outside reminded me 
of the familiar exclamation a crowd always utters 
directly a beautiful rocket has exploded. 

After a long grace, said by one of the native par- 
sons, began the distribution of the meat and rice, 
which was handed round to every one on plates with 
the banana-leaf scoops which the w^omen had been 
making. The smell of the meat was so awful that 
most of us would only taste the rice. I was much 
struck with the truly British pluck of the English 
Yice-Consul, who ate the w^hole with seeming relish. 
When this frugal meal was at an end, the Queen 
rose and made a short speech, at the conclusion of 
which more shouts were heard, drowned by a salvo of 
cannon. So ended this strange jumble of pantomime, 



180 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

cliurch, picnic, Drawing-room at Buckingham Palace, 
pomp, and utter want of dignity, with a consider- 
able mixture of good honest savagedom. 

We then all backed out of the room, leaving the 
Queen sitting on the throne. The Prime ]Minister 
came and shook hands with Monsieur de Vilers, who 
formally introduced us to him. The present Sov- 
ereign, Eazafinvrahity, who was proclaimed Queen 
in 1883 under the title of Eanavalona III., is, I am 
told, his third Queen, it being the law of the country 
that the Prime Minister must be the husband of the 
Queen. They have many other curious customs, 
and their morals, as far as I have heard and read, 
closely resemble those of the South Sea Islanders. 

We were informed on good authority that the 
reason the Methodists formerly became a great 
power in the country was that the Prime Minister, 
wishing to get rid of his too powerful brother, 
turned Christian, and married his Queen under 
Christian rites, so as to have the excuse of exiling 
his brother as a heathen. Later on, finding that 
the Methodists were getting too strong for him, 
he established the Church of England as a counter- 
poise. 

Our departure from the Palace reminded me most 
forcibly of similar scenes in London. Having walked 
to the gate, we had to wait until some of the party 
had, after a great deal of shouting, collected the 
porters, who drew up with their Jilanzanas in a 



PLANS FOR RETURN JOURNEY. 181 

string, which the crowd outside was continually 
breaking through. Finally, we got back to the 
Eesidency about eleven o'clock, and were delighted 
to find supper waiting for us. 



IV. 

Friday morning we spent at the Eesidency with 
our host, nmking out all the plans for our journey 
to Mojanga, on the west coast of Madagascar. 
Having settled to start the following Monday, 
Monsieur d'Anthouard undertook to collect the 
porters. Monsieur de Vilers, with his usual kind- 
ness, had asked Monsieur Martini — a young officer 
on his staff, who spoke Malagasy fluently — if he 
would like to escort us, and to see more of the 
island, an offer he gladly accepted. We were also 
to have two other travelling companions, Monsieur 
Cazeneuve, a director of the Messageries line, and 
Monsieur Alibert, a merchant living at Tamatave. 

The doctor did not approve of our leaving the 
capital so soon ; for we were not allowing time for 
the fever, which is usually contracted by travellers 
in the lagoons on the east coast, to declare itself. 
We had but little choice in the matter, however, as 
Monsieur Cazeneuve was anxious to get to Mojanga 
in time to meet the boat which was to take him to 
Diego Suarez. 

In the evening Monsieur de Yilers invited Bishop 



182 . THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

Cornish, his son and daughter-in-law, Miss Buckle, 
and Mr and Mrs Pickersgill, to meet us at dinner. 
The Bishop was very anxious we should see his 
church, so we promised to attend service on Sunday. 
On Saturday morning Doctor Baissade photo- 
graphed us in his garden. Harry was on his filan- 
zana with his four bearers. I had chaffingiy ex- 
pressed a wish to be photographed with a Malagasy 
baby in my arms, and, to my amusement, I found 
waiting for me a young Malagasy mother, delighted 
to lend her baby for the occasion. After lunch we 
went to see Monsieur Rigot, who is in the Queen's 
employ as superintendent of the gold-mines. His 
house was not far from the lake, in a lovely old 
garden, full of fruit-trees, flowering shrubs, and many 
kinds of flowers. He took us to see his horse, a rarity 
here, as I believe there are only two in the capital, 
the roads being utterly impracticable for them. He 
also showed us a good collection of ores found in the 
island, which seems to be rich in all minerals except 
coal, which so far has not been found. We sat some 
time in his garden, while he described the tour of 
inspection he had just completed to the gold-mines, 
and which covered part of the route we should have 
to pursue from the capital to the coast. He warned 
us we might possibly fall in with marauding parties 
of Sakalavas, as on his journey he had seen two 
villages being attacked and pillaged by them. As 
he was alone, except for his porters, he was unable 



THE queen's country-house. 183 

to render any assistance to the unfortunate inhabi- 
tants, whose shrieks he heard in the distance. 

The Betsiriry, commonly called Sakalavas by the 
Malagasy, are one of the western tribes of the island, 
a fierce and savage race, and the terror of their more 
peaceful neighbours. The Eev. E. 0. MacMahon, 
who travelled through their country, thus describes 
the appearance of the first he met : " He had no 
clothing beyond a waistband round his loins, but he 
made up for this defect by paint and weird orna- 
mentations, such as crocodiles' teeth, chains, and 
beads disposed around his head and neck ; his hair 
was done up in large knobs." 

After leaving Monsieur Kigot we went to visit 
Mahazoarivo, a country-house belonging to the 
Queen on the Ikopo river. The grounds were 
curiously laid out — a mixture of grandeur and 
dilapidation; but the place had to my mind one 
redeeming feature, the beautiful violet lotus-flowers 
with which part of the river was covered. That 
night we all adjourned to dine with the doctor in 
his little house in the middle of the town. We got 
home early, and sat on our balcony watching the 
bonfires lit in many parts of the capital, this being 
the last night of the Fondroana. The flames shot 
up spasmodically, giving a ghostly appearance to 
the groups of natives in their white lambas, and 
throwing strong weird shadows on the red brick 
houses. 



184 



THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 



On Sunday morning I went with Monsieur de 
Vilers to the Eonian Catholic church, which was 
very crowded, and where we heard good music. 
In the afternoon we kept our promise to Bishop 




Articles of Malagasy JSIamif act lire. 



1. Fans. 

2. Coloured straw-boxes. 

3. Bamboo snuff-box. 



4. Straw-boxes. 

5. Open work-box. 

6. Gourd snuff-box. 



7. Model of vcidsisjilanzana. 

8. Model of woman 's/f/a«2a«a. 

9. Seed snuff-box. 



Cornish, and went to tea with him after the service. 
That evening Monsieur de Vilers gave a dinner- 
party to the Eoman Catholic Bishop, who came 



PKEPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE. 185 

accomiDanied by three other priests. Towards the 
end of dinner, conversation somehow turned on my 
having lived so much in the south of France, which 
seemed to rouse their interest, and in the drawing- 
room I found myself sitting on a sofa with the 
Bishop beside me and tw^o of his priests opposite. 
Both of them having been born and bred in the 
Pyrenees, great was their delight when I began 
talking Bearnais to them, which they showed by 
alternately rubbing their hands over and over, then 
suddenly bringing down the outspread palms vio- 
lently on their knees, and at short intervals taking 
pinches of snuff, causing them to blow their noses 
violently with their large red cotton handkerchiefs. 

It was decided that Monsieur de Vilers and the 
wdiole French community should escort us next 
morning as far as Ambohidratrimo, where our kind 
host proposed to give us a parting picnic breakfast. 

Monday, November the 26th, we were up be- 
times, and after packing, went to the Eesidency, 
where we all assembled, and started — a regular 
caravan. I was quite sorry to leave Antananarivo, 
wdth its curious and half-civilised people. Our road 
went down into a lovely plain, with low rocky hills 
springing up here and there ; then led us along a 
causeway fifteen feet broad, made for the purpose 
of irrigation, and separating the plain from the 
river Ikopo. This embankment a year ago got 
into such disrepair, that the Queen used to superin- 



186 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

tend the work herself, and obliged every citizen to 
build one cubic metre with his own hands. We 
came to two wide gaps which were bridged over 
by several small trees laid side by side, making a 
most dangerous place to cross ; but our men went 
over without flinching. 

We all breakfasted at Ambohidratrimo, under the 
famous Amontana tree, which is a landmark seen 
from most parts of Imerina. This place was origi- 
nally one of the twelve sacred cities of this province. 
There are a number of royal tombs still to be seen on 
the top of a hillock, up which I tried to scramble, 
but slipped in so doing, and fell on an aloe-leaf, 
running one of its poisonous thorns into my knee, 
which at once caused a good deal of pain and 
swelling. After a cheery breakfast, during which 
our healths had been freely drunk in champagne, 
one of the party photographed us all ; and then, 
with many affectionate farewells, w^e parted ; Mes- 
sieurs Cazeneuve, Martini, and Alibert, and our two 
selves, with our retainers, starting on our westward 
journey, while the others retraced their steps to the 
cajDital. 

We soon got into an uninteresting country, and 
after about four hours and a half, we arrived 
at Babay. The accommodation here looked most 
forbidding, the place being generally filthy, and 
full of pigs — sleeping companions whose existence 
we had almost forgotten during our sojourn in 



BABAY. 



187 



Imerina. After inspecting several huts, ^Ye cliose 
a two-storeyed house, the least evil-smelling of the 
collection ; but the ground-floor even of this was so 
appallingly dirty that we decided at all events to 
avoid our four-footed companions by sleeping on the 
first floor. So after the simandous had turned the 
inhabitants out, Harry and I scrambled up a rickety 




Oitr Party under the Aniontana-tree. 



broken-down staircase, and found ourselves in rooms 
a degree less dirty, though very untidy — the poor 
owners in their hurry having left all their things 
strewn about in such disorder that it was difiicult 
to find floor-room on which to pitch our beds. 
In the meanwhile Monsieur Alibert, who prided 
himself on his knowledge of cooking, was, with 



188 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

much swearing and under great difficulties, helping 
our native cook to get dinner ready. He was a 
cheery little man, always making the best of every- 
thing. He was quite the type of Tartarin, and, like 
that hero, was a native of Provence, and had the 
broad pronunciation of that part of France. When 
not looking after the cook, he devoted his energies 
to keeping the servants and porters in order, and 
they certainly kept his hands pretty full ; but in spite 
of all his efforts, I cannot say that the meal was a 
great success. Our chef had been engaged at An- 
tananarivo in consequence of his own statement 
that he had been employed in that capacity on a 
man-of-war ; but we had forgotten to ask him for 
how long, and judging from his performances while 
in our service, I am inclined to doubt his engage- 
ment having lasted many hours. 

The next morning we left at 5.30, keeping in 
the same monotonous country — a rolling grass- 
land, here and there intersected with water-courses — 
which continued for about an hour. Then leaving 
these rich grazing-grounds, and passing to the west 
of a high rocky hill, we reached the watershed of 
the Ikopo and the Andranobe, and descended into 
a more populous valley, and bearing to the left, 
forded the Andranobe river. 

There was an extraordinaiy difference in the 
amount of traffic on this road and that between 
Tamatave and the capital. On the latter we hardly 



ON THE ROAD TO MOJANGA. 189 

met a single Jilanzana during the whole jour- 
ney from the coast, and very rarely a human being 
of any sort outside the hamlets at which we halted. 
Over this roacl, on the contrary, there appeared to 
be a continual stream of traffic, due to the attraction 
of the g;old-mines, to which the natives flock from 
all parts of the island, and from which, dead or 
alive, they make a point of returning to their own 
homes. During this morning's march we met one 
in the former condition, wrapped up in linen, and 
strapped on to two poles of bamboo, from which 
w^ere also hung a miscellaneous collection of the 
deceased's worldly goods ; among these were in- 
cluded a number of guns, spears, and old cooking- 
pots. Soon afterwards we were afforded a pleasant 
contrast in the shape of a live and very lively Mala- 
gasy officer, in command of a company of soldiers, 
making a triumphal return to civilisation, borne on 
a filanzana, and accompanied by a bevy of his hand- 
maidens, who, running by the side of his conveyance, 
enlivened the dulness of the journey with cheerful 
songs. Nor were we without a little music to 
cheer us on our way. As they marched along, our 
porters would sing their national songs in parts ; 
while in the evenings we often had a regular con- 
cert, the men sitting in a circle and singing to the 
accompaniment of the valla , the only musical in- 
strument I saw in Madagascar. It is made out of a 
length of a large bamboo, part of the outer skin of 



190 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

which is separated and cut into strings, tightened 
by a bridge of pumpkin-rind. 

At 10.30 we arrived at Antoby, a deserted vil- 
lage of about fifteen houses, surrounded by a thick 
cactus-hedge, the only entrance through which was 
too narrow even for the passage of the filanzana. 
The houses had been left in such a filthy state that, 
fairly well accustomed to dirt though we were, they 
were rather more than we could stand ; so we had 
our breakfast in an old Protestant church, which 
looked like a tumble-down barn. 

After breakfast and a good rest we again started, 
and immediately afterwards recrossed the Andranobe 
river, and, ascending its left bank, gained a grassy 
plateau some seven or eight hundred feet above the 
river, and thickly dotted with herds of cattle. 
AVhile on this upland a heavy shower came on, 
which caused our porters to put on their best i3ace, 
and sliding down the steep farther slope, we crossed 
the Andranobe for the third time, and found our- 
selves at the foot of a steep hill, on which is perched 
the intrenched village of Ankazobe, where we were 
to pass the night. Climbing the hill, we reached 
its outskirts, and found it to be surrounded by a 
fifteen -foot trench, into which, after travelling 
round three - fourths of it, we descended by a 
narrow rocky path, and climbing the other side, 
entered the village by a narrow opening in a 
mud wall, through which a miniature torrent was 



DANGERS FROM THE SAKALAVAS. 191 

rushing. After being greeted by the usual family 
of pigs, we hurried on into the houses, which we 
found ready prepared by the simandou who had 
preceded us. In ours wx found an unusually clean 
family. Among them was a young mother nurs- 
ing her baby : she could not have been more than 
twelve or thirteen, by no means an unusual age 
here for a married woman. We all assembled in 
this house for dinner, to save my having to walk 
out in the deep mud. 

Next morning we w^ere off at the usual time, 
Harry and I ahead, the luggage-porters in the 
middle, and the rest in the rear. This arrangement 
was made as there was supposed to be some danger 
of our being attacked by Sakalavas, and the baggage- 
porters were utterly helpless and undefended. As we 
never were attacked, I cannot say how formidable the 
Sakalavas really were ; but they had certainly man- 
aged to inspire all the natives of our party with the 
greatest respect ; and judging by the many villages 
we passed utterly devastated by them, they seemed 
to be at all events better fighting men than the 
more civilised inhabitants of the country. 

These precautions were, as it turned out, quite 
unnecessary, for during the day's march we met 
nothing more alarming than three corpses on their 
way home, although at one moment our porters 
had a good scare on seeing some men hiding 
among the rocks ; but these proved to be soldiers 



192 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY 



o-uardino- the road, who had had an encounter 
with the SakaLavas the day before, killing three, 
whose grinning heads, stuck on poles, we passed a 
few miles farther on, while their already very un- 
pleasant bodies lay across the road about a quarter 
of a mile beyond. 

We halted for breakfast at Maharidaza, a strongly 
fortified village surrounded by a high brick wall, 
outside which, at a distance of about ten feet, was 
a thick cactus-hedge. The entrance into it was 
unlike any I had ever seen before ; the sides of 
the narrow tunnel-like opening in the hedge had 
been lined with rows of untrimmed trunks of trees, 
planted vertically about nine inches apart. Between 
these were dropped horizontally a number of logs, 
thus forming a series of barriers across the archway. 
These being removed, we found ourselves in a sort 
of square well, two sides of which were formed of 
trimmed cactus, the third by a most uncompro- 
mising brick wall, while on the fourth — in the same 
wall and at right angles to the tunnel — was a low 
doorway, closed by a solid mass of rock. While we 
were wondering whether we were to be hauled up 
by a rope or left where we were, the stone door 
gently slid aside, and passing through the archway 
we discovered that it was a huge disc, somewhat 
like a gigantic millstone, set on edge on a level 
platform, and which without a very great effort 
could be rolled backwards and forwards. 



KINAJY. 193 

During the next day's journey the country seemed 
to be much more thinly populated, and we hardly 
saw a village, although herds of the hump-backed 
cattle were still to be seen grazing on the grassy 
slopes, with here and there armed herdsmen keeping 
watch. During the afternoon we got caught in a 
tremendous storm, and in spite of waterproofs were 
thoroughly soaked. I had been out of sorts all 
day, and this about finished me off, and by the 
time we arrived at Kinajy I could hardly sit upright 
in my Jilanzana, and was counting every step the 
porters took that brought me nearer some place 
where I could lie down. Great was my despair 
therefore, to hear, on arriving outside the walls, 
that we must wait until we had received the 
Governor's permission to enter. 

Kinajy is the chief town of the province, and an 
im]3ortant place, with a Governor and a garrison 
of six hundred men. After waiting outside for 
three-quarters of an hour, which with my throbbing 
head, and the deadly sickness which had come over 
me, seemed an age, three men suddenly rushed out, 
and imagining that they were the forerunners of the 
Governor, we all pulled ourselves together to receive 
him. However, taking no notice of us, they passed 
at full speed, and proceeded to a stream in the 
valley below% whence they returned shortly after- 
wards, still in hot haste, bearing a flowing white 
object, which, having nothing better to do, we 

N 



194 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

watched with great interest, until, as it was borne 
past lis, we recognised it as a frilled linen shirt, 
evidently the property of his Excellency, who was 
forced to postpone our welcome until he could 
appear in a suitable costume. So with as much 
show of patience as we could muster, we settled 
down to wait again, I for one heartily wishing that 
the great man would have come as he was, no 
matter what costume he might have been in. 

After a time the welcome sound reached us of 
a thoroughly discordant band, and then, wading 
through the deep black mud of the narrow entrance, 
came the big drum, followed in single file by the 
trumpets and clarionets, the rear of the procession 
being brought up by the commander of the forces — 
a tall man in a o'reen coat with a certain look of a 
uniform, a Tyrolese hat with a red ribbon round 
it, and a drawn sword in his hand — and about a 
dozen men, well armed, but with the most nonde- 
script of uniforms, who, having been drawn up in 
a line, presented arms at the English word of 
command to that effect, and then turning round, 
preceded us into the town. 

The entrance was somewhat similar to that in the 
outer fence of Maharidaza, the only difference being 
that it was closed by a curtain of vertical logs slung 
on ropes, somewhat on the principle of the Indian 
reed - and - bead curtains. A very short journey 
throudi the little town brought us to the Governor's 



THE GOVERNOR OF KINAJY. 195 

house, a one-roomed hut in the middle of a palisaded 
yard, in one corner of which was a small brass 
cannon. After passing through the gateway, the 
band halted and struck up the ''Marseillaise," fol- 
lowed in our honour by a strange mixture of " G-od 
save the Queen " and the Malagasy National 
Anthem ; which ceremony over, the Governor 
stepped out of his doorway to welcome us. He 
was an intelligent-looking Hova, dressed in a blue 
naval frock-coat, a white j^eaked forage-cap, and 
pepper-and-salt trousers, and I have no doubt made 
himself very agreeable ; but I was feeling so miser- 
able that the only item of his conversation in which 
I took any interest was that in which he told us 
that on our approach he had ordered our huts to 
be prepared, and that they were then ready. On 
hearing this welcome news we hurried off to ours, 
and Harry at once took my temperature, and finding 
it was 104°, packed me straight off to bed, and 
would not hear of my going to the dinner to which 
we had all been invited by the Governor. Before 
joining the party himself, he gave me a whole 
bottle of Warburg's tincture, which had the desired 
effect of bringing down my temperature, but did 
not keep off the terrible delirium. As far as I can 
remember, the night was a succession of half-waking 
nightmares and half-dozing consciousness of snarling 
dogs and grunting pigs. 

Next morning I was still very weak and ill, but 



196 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

as Harry thought that at all hazards I ought to 
be got clown to the coast and on board a ship as 
quickly as possible, we started early, vny Jilanzana 
having been converted into a kind of litter by means 
of sacking stretched between the poles. My only 
recollection of the day's journey was our arrival at a 
village, where they breakfasted, which had lately been 
attacked by the Sakalavas, who had taken prisoners 
all the inhabitants except four leper-girls, wdiom w^e 
found remaining there. After being taken out of 
my Jilanzcma, I w^as so exhausted that I lay on the 
dirty floor of a hut unable to move, with the poor 
lepers — disgusting sights — staring at me the whole 
time. It was not a very cheerful halting-place for 
any of us ; but our men were in a great state of 
delight, having found a number of pits full of rice, 
which the Sakalavas had left untouched. With 
this they filled the bags they always carried 
round their waists, thus providing themselves with 
free dinners for some days to come. I see by 
Harry's journal that we slept that evening at Am- 
p5taka, and that the country we passed through 
during that afternoon was wholly uninhabited and 
very monotonous. 

Next morning I woke up feeling much better, 
Harry having given me thirty grains of quinine the 
night before, and when we started at 5.30, I was 
able to sit up in my Jilanzana as usual. The ground 
now began to fall rapidly to the westward, and soon 



PLUNDERED VILLAGES. 197 

after eight we descended into the valley of the 
Mahamokamita, a river nearly a hundred yards 
broad, and after the recent heavy rains, rather un- 
pleasantly rapid to ford, coming well up to the men's 
waists, and causing them to take off what little 
clothing they wore. After crossing it we turned 
sharp to the left down its right bank, and halted for 
breakfast at Maroharona, a small fortified village 
wdiich had also been pillaged by the Sakalavas, the 
men being nearly all away at the gold-mines. One 
or two of them had since returned to find their 
homes deserted and their families scattered, all the 
women having been carried off as slaves. Thanks 
to all these empty villages, we were beginning to 
make a great hole in our store of tinned provisions, 
as the chickens and eggs, on which we had depended, 
had lately failed us, and there was no game to fall 
back on. 

After a good rest we started again across a broad 
plain far more thickly populated than the districts 
we had been traversing, and after about an hour's 
march found ourselves under the northern face of 
the remarkable table mountain of Andrimbe, rising 
sheer out of the plain to a height of nearly a 
thousand feet, and on the edge of whose plateau 
was visible a large and evidently prosperous vil- 
lage. I was told that there was a good water- 
supply, and abundant pasturage at the top, and 
that it was inhabited by a community of robbers, 



198 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

who made frequent raids into the plains. It cer- 
tainly seemed an ideal position for persons of their 
profession. This was the only instance of this sort 
of mountain, so common in Africa, which we came 
across in Madagascar. 

It had been raining all the morning, and after a 
short lull at mid-day came down again with double 
force. 

I noticed that our porters were going at an un- 
usual pace, and thinking that they were probably 
anxious to get as quickly as possible out of the 
Andrimbe neighbourhood, I asked if this was the 
case, but was told that these mountaineers were only 
cattle-robbers, who would not care to attack us, and 
that a far more serious matter was the rapidly rising 
Kamolandy river, which lay between us and our 
destination, from which there was a fair prospect of 
our being cut off. Nor did we arrive at it a minute 
too soon. I happened to be leading, and for one 
moment my men hesitated as they saw the broad 
seething mass of muddy water in front of them, then 
boldly dashing into it, were soon w^ell above their 
waists. It was with the greatest difficulty that they 
kept their feet, leaning hard against the stream, 
and moving only one at a time, and then with the 
most cautious steps. As I watched the torrent 
piling itself against the up - stream side of their 
naked bodies, and, glancing over the side of my 
Jilanzana, saw the streaks of foam rushing seawards 



paSkSage of the kamolandy. 199 

beneath me, I could not help wondering whether I 
should not soon be accompanying them, and how 
far I should get on the journey. However, we 
all got safely across, and wading over a succession 
of submerged fields, with here and there a hidden 
ditch or water-course, into which the men slid up 
to their shoulders, we climbed a small hill, and 
found ourselves outside the high cactus-hedge of 
Malatsy, a large well-built village, where we passed 
the night. On unpacking our baggage we found 
that its passage of the Kamolandy had not been 
quite so successful as our own ; everything we pos- 
sessed was absolutely soaking. So after collecting 
some wood, we lit a fire in a corner of our hut to 
dry our beds, but soon wished we had made up 
our minds to sleep on the floor, for there being 
no proper outlet for the smoke we were nearly 
sufl*ocated, and had to run outside into the rain, 
where we were promptly surrounded by a deputa- 
tion of women with presents of eggs, rice, &c. We 
foolishly gave them some cut money to get rid of 
them, and retired into our smoke, where, in conse- 
quence of our generosity, we were shortly afterwards 
invaded by the whole population, headed by the 
chief of the village, bearing mangos, chickens, capsi- 
cums, manioc, and every other product of the place, 
which they thought or hoped we could be induced 
to buy. 

Monsieur Cazeneuve havino; chosen a nice little 



200 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

whitewashed hut for himself, we settled to dine in 
it. While in the middle of dinner, I pointed out to 
him an army of big cockroaches issuing from several 
holes, and soon overruning the walls. The poor man 
was horrified ; the one thing he could not stand was 
a" cockroach. He had already spent several sleepless 
nights on their account, and had pitched on this 
clean room in hopes of peace. Next morning he 
told us he had passed the wdiole of his time sitting 
on a chair wdth a lighted candle beside him, for fear 
the monsters should crawl over him. I certainly 
had never seen such a sw^arm all at once. Perhaps 
it was that the dirt and unevenness of the huts had 
previously prevented me from doing so. We, on 
our part, S23ent an unusually good night, having at 
last been struck with the brilliant idea of hiringj a 
couple of men to sit outside our hut and prevent the 
pigs and dogs coming in. 

The next morning we started a little later than 
usual, and after travelling for some time on very 
narrow^ and rough j)atlis, we gradually made a sharp 
descent on to a swampy plain, wdiere the tempera- 
ture became suddenly quite tropical, and which. w^as 
peculiarly and unpleasantly rife with insect life. 
Soon after reaching it w^e entered a dense cloud of 
singularly malignant little black flies, who wdthout a 
moment's hesitation went for the exposed parts of 
our bodies. As in the case of our porters this was 
a considerable portion, they w^ere soon streaming 



BLOODTHIRSTY TORMENTORS. 201 

with blood, and set to work to run for dear life. 
We whites only fared better so far as quantity of 
bites was concerned. I never came across such 
determined or bloodthirsty tormentors ; even beat- 
ing our faces hard with a bunch of leaves failed to 
keep them off. Luckily the plague was altogether 
local, and we were soon clear of the infested belt ; 
only, however, to run in the course of half an hour 
into a flight of locusts, which did us no harm beyond 
flying in our faces. 

Leaving this plain, we crossed a slight ridge of 
broken ground. Then a further descent brought us 
into a region in which the familiar vegetation of the 
east coast reappeared, the bottoms of the valleys 
being thickly covered with rajia palms, bamboos, 
wild citrons, and acacias, beneath which grew species 
of coarse grasses and cotton-plants. We reached the 
pass of Marokolosy at 9.20, and halted for three 
hours in the little village of the same name, sur- 
rounded by a stockade and a double cactus-hedge. 
Crossing another ridge, we found ourselves after 
two hours' march at Ampasoria, a gold- washing sta- 
tion, on the Ampasoria river. It consists of two dis- 
tinct settlements, a large stockaded native village 
being about a hundred and fifty yards distant from 
the European compound, which is also enclosed in 
a high palisade, and in which we were put up. 
Our small hut was divided into two rooms, raised 
a couple of feet off" the ground, and boasting the 



202 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

luxury of boarded doors and glass windows ; but 
in point of cleanliness it was little, if anything, in 
advance of the native hut to which we had been 
accustomed, wdiile the cockroaches were, if possible, 
even larger and more numerous than usual. 

This village w^as the headquarters of a Frenchman 
employed by the Malagasy Government as mining 
superintendent of the district, who, after we had 
settled down, showed us over the place ; and judg- 
ing from what we saw, I should say the monopoly 
w^as a very profitable one. At sunset the villagers 
streamed into the superintendent's office bearing 
the proceeds of their day's work ; on an average 
about a table-spoonful of dust apiece, which each 
individual emptied out of a little bag into one pan 
of a pair of scales, while into the other the super- 
intendent dropped sufficient pieces of silver to bal- 
ance it. With these the digger went on his way 
rejoicing, having received about one-twentieth of 
the value of his earnings. All minerals in Mada- 
gascar belong to the Crown, so that no prospecting 
can be clone by outsiders. 

The next day, Sunday, we made rather an earlier 
start than usual, and after traversing a varied and 
well-wooded country for about three hours, arrived 
at Antanimbarindratsontsaraka, on the right bank 
of the Ikopo, here a much more imposing river than 
when we had last seen it near Antananarivo. It had 
there, however, the advantage of being navigable, 



THE BANKS OF THE IKOPO. 203 

while it is here broken by a succession of rocky 
rapids. On its banks we again found the " Traveller's 
Tree," and for the first time I saw a chameleon. 
After following the banks of the Ikopo for a few 
miles, the road turns rather sharply to the right, 
and passes through a quartz district, which, though 
undoubtedly very valuable financially, was exceed- 
ingly ugly, and a source of much annoyance to our 
barefooted porters. As soon as w^e got into rather 
softer ground, my men and those of Monsieur 
Martini began to race for a small torrent ahead of 
us, which they said was free of crocodiles, and had 
good drinking-water. Being still very shaky after 
my fever, I did not at all enjoy this rapid pace, 
for, in addition to the actual pain caused by the 
jolting, it prevented me putting up my parasol. 
However, its unpleasantness made me enjoy the 
more a delicious rest on a soft bed of white sand 
under the shelter of an overhanging rock, near the 
edge of the torrent, in which our men plunged 
and splashed like babies during the whole period 
of our halt, whilst troops of parroquets chattered 
overhead. 

The spot where we halted was on the margin 
of a broad rock-lined pool between two miniature 
cataracts, and was a particularly tempting one to 
our dust - grimed carriers ; consequently all the 
natives of the party, as they came up in turn, 
followed the example of my and Monsieur Martini's 



204 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

men, and plunging into the pool, made our halt 
rather a long one. 

After leaving this place, we had a long dusty 
march over a tract of low barren hills, until, just as 
the sun was setting, we sighted the peculiar table- 
shaped plateau of red clay on which the town of 
Mavetanana is situated. After arriving at the foot 
of the eastward slope, our porters had a steep climb 
up the side of the clay escarpment, cracked by the 
sun into deep crevices cutting the path at every 
fifty yards or so, and giving us a series of exciting 
little jumps. On reaching the top we crossed by 
a drawbridge the deep V-shaped ditch which en- 
circles the town, a fair-sized one, and containing 
a Government House and a good assortment of 
shops. After passing through it, we again crossed 
the ditch, and following the crest of a narrow neck 
of land, found ourselves on an adjoining hill, on 
which the o;old-minino; settlement is situated. Our 
party was put up in the house of the Inspector, who 
was then in France, so Harry and I were given 
his large dining-room, where we set up our beds and 
encamped for the night. There were several of the 
Inspector's French assistants who very hospitably 
entertained us at dinner, and also invited the Hova 
Governor, a bright intelligent young man, together 
with his Malagasy doctor and two J\Ialagasy inter- 
preters, to meet us. We sat down thirteen ; but no 
one seemed to notice the unlucky number until next 



GOLD-WASHING. 205 

morning at breakfast, when there was a good deal 
of chaff as to who would be the victim, little think- 
ing that poor Monsieur Cazeneuve would so soon die 
of the effects of the journey, which sad event hap- 
pened the day after he reached Diego Suarez. The 
dinner was excellent, and was served in a little 
kiosh, pleasantly cool, but whose light seemed to 
attract every insect in the neighbourhood through 
the open sides. The mosquitoes were a veritable 
plague ; while food, table - cloth, ornaments, and 
everything were black with the most extraordinary 
collection of flies, moths, daddy-longlegs, praying- 
mantis, and all kinds of insects. 

As I was very tired, I went off to bed directly 
after dessert, but most of the men sat up into the 
small hours, and had such bad heads next morning 
that they preferred to keep quiet. Harry and I, 
however, went with the Governor and two of the 
Frenchmen to a small river where a crowd of women 
were panning out gold. Standing in the water, they 
scoop out the mud from the river-bed with shallow 
flat-bottomed dishes, which they shake with a pecu- 
liar motion under water, until the lighter particles 
are washed away and only the gold and the heavy 
black sand remains. This is then dried in the sun, 
and the sand got rid of by the simple process of 
blowing with the mouth until nothing but the gold- 
dust remains. Now and then they have the luck 
to find big nuggets, but the gold is mostly in the 



206 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

form of very fine dust. If, as I believe to be the 
case, enough gold is found here by this primitive 
process to make the mines pay well, there must be 
a wonderfully rich region near the river-head from 
which the gold is washed down, and which only 
requires modern machinery to develop it. 

Walking slowly back, the Governor asked us if we 
had been attacked by any of the Sakalavas on our 
way from the capital. Hearing we had not seen 
any, he said we were very lucky, and put it down 
to the rains having so swelled the Ikopo that it was 
impassable. 

On our return we came upon the final scene of 
our land journey, — Monsieur Martini, money-bags in 
hand, in the midst of a clamouring crowd of porters 
whom he was paying off; while behind him, wdth 
an air of calm superiority, were the cook and the 
two simandous, who were to accompany us to the 
coast. 

Between Mavetanana and the coast is a dense 
belt of forest similar to that on the east, but 
traversed, we wxre told, by an even worse road 
than that from Tamatave to the capital, all the 
latter part of it being across deep swamps. Mave- 
tanana had, however, this advantage over Anta- 
nanarivo, that it is connected with the sea by a 
navigable river, and down this it was settled that 
we should make the rest of our journey. 

We had hoped to start before mid-day, but all 



EMBARKATION ON THE IKOPO. 207 

sorts of difficulties arose in the collection of boats 
and boatmen, and it was past four before we got 
a message from the Governor to say that all was 
ready for a start. Thinking that I must be tired 
of filanzana-tTSiYellmg, he kindly offered to mount 
me on an old hornless ox ; but I 23referred my usual 
steeds, and the ox was mounted by a funny little 
shrivelled-up old man, one of the Governor's staff, 
who, vainly endeavouring to make his lumbering 
beast keep pace with my porters, tried to perform 
the duties of an equerry. 

On arriving at the river-side we found that the 
only canoes that the Governor had been able to 
procure for us were two huge dug-outs, some thirty- 
five to forty feet in length, each requiring a large 
crew, and that to man the pair of them he had only 
managed to get seven boatmen. Monsieur Martini, 
Harry and I, with three men, the cook, and one 
simandoit, embarked in the smaller one, and the 
rest of the party and the remaining four boatmen 
in the larger. Our journey for that day began 
and ended in a small shallow back-water, on the 
many sandbanks of which our canoe was continually 
running aground, much to the disgust of our crew, 
who were obliged every time to jump overboard and 
push her off, keeping the while as sharp a look-out 
as they could for crocodiles, with which the river 
abounded. At last, just before sunset, we found our- 
selves hopelessly aground opposite a little village. 



208 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

still within sight of Mavetanana. It was by the 
inhabitants of this village that, a short time after- 
wards, a French doctor was murdered in his canoe ; 
but at this time they had no evil reputation that 
we knew of. The other canoe being out of sight 
behind .us, and thinking it useless to blunder on in 
the dark, we settled to land for the night, and try 
to pick up some more boatmen. But as far as 
comfort or success in recruiting was concerned, we 
might as well have stayed on board ; for after a 
perilous journey to the shore^ perched on one of my 
boatmen's shoulders — the only way in wdiich he could 
be induced to carry me — I found myself in an extra- 
ordinarily dirty little village, from which almost all 
the population had departed to the gold-mines, and 
now inhabited only by one man and two old women, 
who utterly refused to give us the smallest assist- 
ance. After wandering about for some time in the 
dark, peering into huts, one more evil-smelling than 
another, we finally settled down in one, and after 
a very scratch meal tried to go to sleep. As far as 
I was concerned the attempt was an utter failure : 
what with the hot muggy air, crowds of hungry 
mosquitoes, and a pestiferous smell from the river, 
which seemed to get worse every hour, I never got 
a wink, and gladly welcomed the first glimmer of 
daylight, which gave me an excuse for waking up 
Harry, Monsieur Martini, and the boatmen. 

In spite of our early rising, it was a long time 



DOWN THE IKOPO. 209 

before we got off. The other canoe had not yet 
turned up, and it was as much as our three men 
could do to unload ours, shove her off, and then 
reload her. At last, however, we started, and soon 
got into the main river, here eight hundred to a 
thousand yards wide, and running through mag- 
nificent forest scenery. The country on. our right 
was like a thickl}^ wooded English park, with gigan- 
tic trees of many different kinds, under the shade of 
which we landed at about ten o'clock for breakfast. 

But beautiful as the vegetation was, this river- 
journey soon became very monotonous, continuing 
as it did between unending walls of trees. In the 
afternoon the sun got so powerful that we landed 
for a few minutes and cut some sticks, with the help 
of wdiich we rigged up a make-shift awning with our 
waterproof sheets. The only excitement of the 
journey was afforded by the crocodiles, extraordin- 
ary numbers of which were apparently asleep on the 
banks ; but, judging from the pace at which they 
flopped into the w^ater as we approached, they were 
singularly wide-awake. Even the low monotonous 
chant of our boatmen was enough to disturb them ; 
and as we were all anxious to get a shot, we did our 
best to stop this, but wholly without success. One 
monster, who must have over-eaten himself, did let 
us get within a fair distance of him, and received 
a volley fired by all three of us, who were all con- 
fident that we had mortally wounded him. How- 

o 



210 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

ever that may have been, he slid into the water, 
much in the same manner as his nninjured brethren, 
and we never saw him again. 

With the exception of these crocodiles, we saw 
hardly any signs of animal life, and scarcely any 
human habitations ; in fact, the only village we 
passed was that of Ambinany, on getting opposite 
which our natives took off their hats, and begged 
us to do the same, the place being a sacred one. 
Shortly afterwards we overtook the other canoe, 
which it turned out had stuck on a sand-bank soon 
after starting, and there kept Monsieur Cazeneuve 
and Monsieur Alibert dinnerless and bedless for the 
nioiit. 

Early in the afternoon we reached the confluence 
of the Ikopo with the larger Betsiboka river, after 
which the stream became very rapid, and although 
our boat made but little w^ay through the water, we 
glided past the banks at a fair pace, and a little 
before sunset reached Karambily, a village some 
twenty miles below the junction of the two rivers. 
Walking a quarter of a mile inland, we found our- 
selves in a large clean village, where we were well 
received by the dark - coloured inhabitants, of a 
totally different type from those among whom we had 
lately been. AYe were put up in large airy huts, 
beautifully clean, which had been carefully prepared 
for us. Ours looked on to an open space, a sort of 
villao'e green, in the centre of which was a large 



AMONG THE CROCODILES. 211 

tree literally covered with the beautifully made 
nests of the weaver-bird. 

Next morning we were up betimes, hoping to 
reach Maravoay that afternoon, where we were to 
exchange our dug-outs for the dhow which would 
take us on to Mojanga. Loading the canoes, how- 
ever, took an unconscionable time, and we waited 
for two full hours on the river-bank before all was 
ready for a start. 

After leaving Karambily the river became far 
wider and the country more open, the dense forest 
giving place to park-like tracts, which with every 
succeeding mile became more tropical in character, 
fan-palms, tamarinds, mangos, and bananas being 
most conspicuous. Our journey, like that of yester- 
day, was again enlivened by the crocodiles, against 
whom we still waged a most unsuccessful war, 
until suddenly some way off, on shore, we saw 
a curious-looking, pale-coloured object sticking up 
out of some long grass, which our steerer's accus- 
tomed eye at once recognised as the head of a 
crocodile, sleeping in what seemed to be a curious 
position, his nose pointing straight up to the sky, 
showing his entire throat. It was a mean advantage 
to take, but Harry could not resist it, and bowled 
him over. This caused great excitement, and we 
all scrambled on shore, and helped the natives to 
clean him out, preparatory to skinning him at night. 
I had no wish to be beaten, so I went on firing 



212 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

persevei'ingly. Of course I killed a great many ! 
but tliey unkindly took the burial service into their 
own hands, and never failed to go to the bottom. 
It was sad from my point of view, for now future 
generations will not be able to point to the stuffed 
trophy, and say with pride, " That is the crocodile 
our grandmother shot in ]\Iadagascar ! " 

It was nearly dark before wx got into the estuary 
of the Betsiboka, and as the tide was flowing, the 
river-current got slower and slower, until it was 
finally absorbed altogether. Our men seemed to 
make no progress, and we were getting desperate, 
for it was long past the hour at which we should 
have got to Maravoay ; so, seeing a canoe ahead 
in which several men were fishing, we made for 
her, and our simandou boarded her. A violent dis- 
cussion ensued betw^een him and the men, wdiich 
resulted in his pushing two of them into our canoe. 
Here, again, the corvee was doing its work ; but we 
determined they should be paid for their trouble. As 
a rule, no provision is made for their return : they 
take the traveller to his destination, and are there 
left stranded to make their way back as best they 
can. 

We saw a good many herons and storks standing 
on one leg in the water, watching for their ^Drey ; 
and in the woods heard the wild guinea-fowls calling 
out, " Come back ! come back ! " It was now nearly 
seven o'clock, and still no signs of Maravoay ; and 



BELATED ON THE EIVEE. 213 

wlien we asked our simandou — who was supposed 
to know the country — how far it was, he cahiily 
answered, " About as far before us as we were now 
from the spot where the crocodile had been shot." 

If we had not been so anxious to get to our des- 
tination, we might have landed and shot some of 
the wild turkeys that were roosting on the trees not 
far from the river-bank ; but only one thought pos- 
sessed us — to get on ; for we had not landed to 
cook any dinner, thinking we should arrive at our 
destination in time to partake of that meal com- 
fortably. The bottom of a dug-out does not get 
softer the longer one sits on it, and having no room 
to move about, we had got terribly cramped. As 
darkness set in, we were enveloped in clouds of 
mosquitoes, which seemed as hungry as their victims. 
The natives hug;g;ed the ridit bank for fear of losing 
the turning into the narrow river Maravoay, a tribu- 
tary of the Betsiboka. So near the edge, the water 
was in many parts shallow, and the paddles stirred 
up bubbles of miasmic gases, which were most up- 
setting. As we crept at funeral pace past that 
unending; manOTove-covered bank, the hours seemed 
to be getting longer and longer ; sleep was impos- 
sible, the maddening song of the mosquito for ever 
in one's ear. It was like a bad dream, from which 
one could not get away. I longed to get up and 
walk about, or even shout at the top of my voice 
— anything to break that awful monotony 1 



214 



THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 



At last we turned a sharp corner, and found our- 
selves in the long-sought-for little river, up which, 
had we arrived only an hour sooner, we should have 
drifted rapidly on the flood ; but now the tide had 
begun to ebb just as we did not want it, and our 
tired boatmen had a further struggle up stream, 
which lasted till two on the following morning. 




Landing; at Maravoay. 



when the moon, suddenly creeping from behind a 
cloud, disclosed the welcome hill of Maravoay. It 
being now nearly low water, we were separated 
from the shore by a stretch of deep mud, across 
which the simandou carried me on his back. Tired 
as I was of the canoe, at one moment I almost 
wished myself back in it, as he sank deeper and 



MARAVOAY. 215 

deeper, stumbling about till my feet ploughed up 
the black slime, into which I fully expected to 
subside altogether. However, with the help of two 
of the men, we at last found ourselves on terra 
firma. While they went back for Harry and 
Monsieur Martini, the simandou and I walked on 
to try and procure lodgings in the town, which was 
about a mile distant. We accosted the first human 
being w^e met ; and after a great deal of talk, he 
took us to a narrow door in a high palisade, round 
an open space, planted with mango -trees, in the 
centre of which was a large two-storeyed house. 
Our guide showed us up a steep flight of wooden 
steps, and we found ourselves in a sort of barn, 
divided into little rooms by thin partitions, in 
which were a number of sleeping men, over whom 
we nearly stumbled in the dark. Our beds having 
arrived, I took possession of one of the rooms, and 
by the time Harry and Monsieur Martini — who had 
been seeing to the safe landing of the goods — ap- 
peared, I had got the things fairly ready. 

Up to the time they left the river-bank there had 
been no signs of the other canoe ; so, not knowing 
what might be in store for us on the following day, 
we turned in, determined to get what sleep we could. 
This turned out the wisest thing we could have 
done ; for on the following morning it was still 
missing, and had we sat up for it, we should 
have had our vigil for nothing. We did not rise 



216 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

very early, and I had hardly finished dressing when 
a messaoe came from the Governor invitins; us to 
lunch with him ; but as I was feeling very ill from 
a second bout of fever, and Harry did not wish to 
leave me alone, Monsieur Martini went off by himself 
to see the Governor, to try and get us off accepting 
the invitation. While he was away, Harry and our 
cook persuaded a few natives to come and skin the 
crocodile, telling them they would be paid for their 
work ; but either they did not believe it, or the 
smell of the rejDtile was too much for them, for they 
soon left their task half done, and it was only later 
on that tw^o men were induced to finish it for five 
francs apiece. 

At about half-past eleven Monsieur Martini re- 
turned, escorted by a company of soldiers and a 
band, and bearing a second message from the 
Governor begging us to accept his hosjjitality, and 
promising to j^rovide us that afternoon with a dhow 
to take us to Mojanga ; so there was nothing for it 
but to bestir ourselves, and get into the filanzanas 
that had been sent to fetch us. As we did so, the 
soldiers presented arms, the band struck up " God 
save the Queen " and the " Marseillaise," and then 
quite a grand procession was formed. In front were 
about thirty women singing and dancing ; after 
them the band ; then ourselves on our Jilanzanas ; 
and on each side of us the soldiers in single file. 
Neither of us, with our travel-stained clothes and 



THE GOVERNOR OF MARAYOAY. 217 

mosquito-bitten faces, could have added much to the 
gorgeousness of the show, and Harry said he felt 
exactly like a Guy Fawkes being carried about on 
the 5th of November. Monsieur Martini's appear- 
ance, however, was quite equal to the occasion, and 
perched in the air, his gorgeous Chasseurs dJAfriqiie 
uniform glittering in the sun, he was quite the gem 
of the pageant. 

In order to give the inhabitants every chance of 
inspecting us, we were carried through the town at 
a funeral pace ; and it was a good half-hour before 
we reached the foot of the clay-hill, with almost 
precipitous sides, on which the Governor's quarters 
were built. On reaching the top, we were first 
ushered into what looked like a very small chalet, 
the sitting-room of which was full of European 
furniture and ornaments — no end of cheap flower- 
glasses, vases, little sets of liqueur-glasses, a china 
box to hold a sardine-tin, &c. — while the walls were 
hung with chromo - lithographed portraits of the 
crowned heads of Europe. After waiting some 
time, the Governor — a "twelve-honour" Hova — 
appeared, dressed in a black uniform, evidently of 
his own invention, with a quantity of gold braid 
sewn on anyhow. He had charming manners, and 
showed the greatest interest in our journey, and 
plied Monsieur Martini with many questions, par- 
ticularly wishing to know how old we were, and 
if I had any children. He could not understand 



218 THE ISLAXD OF MYSTERY. 

my coming such a long way, and leaving a baby 
at home, he never having moved from this place 
for the last twenty years. His wife was ill with 
fever, which seemed to be very prevalent there, so 
we did not see her. After a few minutes, he 
escorted us across a little garden, passing under 
a brick arch of a curious shape, on which were 
painted life - sized figures of soldiers, dressed in 
gorgeous uniforms, in the act of saluting. Over 
their heads was written, Mandrosba, translated to 
us " Welcome." We found ourselves in a big square, 
in the centre of which was a large building used as 
barracks, whence there was a lovely view^ of the 
plain two hundred feet below us. Through the centre 
of this wound the Maravoay river until it joined 
the Betsiboka, which in its turn could be seen 
emptying itself into the bay of the same name. At 
a doorway in the centre of the big building we were 
received by three Hova officers, who led us to a 
large room, where on a long table lunch was spread 
out European fashion, only including several curi- 
ously prepared dishes. 

While we were lunching, two groups of men and 
women, with very good voices, sang alternately on 
either side of the room, accompanying their songs 
by graceful movements and gestures, so as to convey 
the meaning of the words. When the leader of the 
band thought one group had sung enough he rang 
a little bell, upon which one set of performers rested 



THE governor's LUNCHEON. 219 

and the other began. The singing, besides being 
very pretty, saved the necessity of conversation, 
which was a blessing for Monsieur Martini, who had 
to play the part of interpreter. I was placed in the 
seat of honour opposite the Governor, between Harry 
and our French lieutenant, and delighted the natives 
by undertaking to carve the chickens which were 
in front of me. We only got away at three o'clock, 
when the same procession conducted us back ; and 
on reaching our house, we found our two missing 
companions had turned up, and were anxiously 
awaiting us. 

It seemed that their boatmen had completely 
broken down soon after sunset, and there being no 
place to land, they had passed a second night in 
their dug-out. Kemembering the miseries that I 
had gone through during half the night in that 
mosquito - haunted, pestilential swamp, I was able 
to give them my fullest sympathy. 

Monsieur Cazeneuve, feeling very ill, was all for 
hurrying our departure ; so we again scrambled up 
the rickety stairs of our barn, and were busily 
engaged in packing when about twenty Indian 
merchants arrived on the scene, saying they had 
come to pay their respects to the Englishman, being 
themselves British subjects. Having no chairs, they 
all sat down on the floor, one acting as spokesman. 
He began something about the French, but Harry 
stopped him at once, saying he was simply a travel- 



220 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

ler, and would not enter into political questions, and 
that if they had any complaints on such subjects to 
make, they must not come to him. They then had 
a long consultation in their own language, at the 
end of which the spokesman said that they had 
nothing to complain of, and had only come to make 
us welcome ; and bowing low, they retired, much to 
our delight, as it was getting late. 

We found great difficulty in getting men to carry 
the luggage to the water's edge, and the Governor 
turned out to be a broken reed. He had not even 
taken the trouble to give any orders with reference to 
our start, so Monsieur Martini had to go into the town 
and find a reis who would undertake to convey us 
to Mojanga in his dhow. As we were told that the 
tide would be high at fiYQ o'clock, w^e started at 
about half-past four, carrying most of the luggage 
ourselves, and on arriving at the river-bank, found 
a wretched little dhow high and dry on the mud. 
The reis assured us the tide was rising rapidly, and 
that she w^ould soon be afloat ; but, as Harry pre- 
dicted, two hours elapsed before that happened. 
However, thinking the reis ought to know best, we 
went on board, and stayed there till, after about 
half an hour, the mosquitoes rendered life so unbear- 
able that we determined at any risk to try and 
escape them. So wading across the mud again, we 
settled ourselves down at some distance from the 
bank, and liditino: a big; bonfire, huddled tos^ether 



DINNER ON THE BANK. 221 

on the smoky side of it. In spite of the heat and 
smoke, we were all so relieved at being temporarily 
freed from the enemy, that we made a very cheery 
little party : Monsieur Alibert and Monsieur Martini 
even broke into song. Before we had been there 
lono', the voice of nature reminded us it was about 
dinner - time ; and as our brief experience of the 
dhow had shown us there was not the smallest 
chance of getting a comfortable meal on board her, 
we settled to make the most of our time on land. 
So we all beg;an bustling; about to collect the neces- 
saries ; among which, however, the most important 
— the food — was chiefly conspicuous by its scarcity. 
The inhabitants had refused to sell us either eggs or 
chickens, and the only edible forthcoming was a 
curiously shaped lump of beef, which the cook pro- 
duced from goodness knows where. 

Our " Tartarin," however, improvised a magnificent 
dining-table out of two old tar-barrels and a bit of 
corrugated iron roofing which he discovered some- 
where in the neighbourhood. We had just finished 
our meal when a fresh breeze sprang up, clearing 
away the mosquitoes ; and as immediately afterwards 
flashes of lightning in the horizon heralded the 
approach of the usual evening thunderstorm, we 
packed up our traps as quickly as we could and 
made our way to the river, to find the dhow afloat 
in mid-stream, where it turned out she had been for 
some time, our stupid reis never having told us. 



222 THE ISLAXD OF MYSTERY. 

We had to get on board as best we could, one by 
one, in a miniature dug-out half full of water. 
Poor " Tartarin," who had stayed behind to see to the 
safe packing of the pots and pans, was the last to 
embark, and his lantern having gone out, he man- 
aged to step out of the canoe into the water and 
was with great difficulty fished out by the crew. 

However, he was but little worse off than the rest 
of us ; for we had hardly settled ourselves down on 
the sort of thatched awning of bamboos and palm- 
leaves, the only available space on the dhow, when 
the storm burst upon us, blowing apart our hastily 
donned waterproofs, and wetting us through in a 
minute. The wind blew the wretched, top-heavy 
little cockle-shell over on to her side, until the 
awning almost touched the water, and we had to 
hold on like grim death to the nearly perpendicular 
wall on which we were lying, expecting every 
minute either that she would capsize altogether, or 
that, the rotten thatch giving way, we should be 
dropped off one by one among the crocodiles. The 
next moment the wind whizzed her round, and 
catching her other side, sent our feet into the air 
and our heads resting on the ridge-pole towards the 
water: all this in inky darkness, except when a 
flash of lightning lit up the scene for a moment, 
and showed us our craft being blown like a cork 
along the water, and revealed the strange assort- 
ment of blacks and whites packed close together, 



A STORM. 223 

lying face downwards, with liands and feet dug 
deeply into the thatch. Even in the midst of the 
extreme discomfort of the situation I could not help 
smiling, as each succeeding flash showed me the row 
of more and more arched backs silhouetted afifainst 

o 

the sky. 

At last a lull came ; the storm ceased even more 
quickly than it had begun, and all seemed curiously 
calm and silent. Nevertheless we were in for an 
uncomfortable night ; we weve drenched to our 
skins ; the hold of the dhow was full of a confused 
mass of baggage, among which no room could be 
found either to sit or lie ; while the thatch having 
been torn by the storm from our only resting-place, 
the awning, we were forced to pass the night as 
best we could on a sort of gridiron. The lazy 
natives let the dhow drift with the tide, taking no 
trouble to steer her, so that we soon found ourselves 
stuck fast in a mangrove-swamp, from which she 
was only poled ofl" with a good deal of difliculty. 
After this we managed to drop into an uncomfort- 
able sleep, from which I was awakened with a start 
by an agonised voice proceeding from the depths 
of the ship, repeating, '' Oil sont mes pantalons f " 
This turned out to come from poor ''Tartarin," who 
after his dip in the river had retired below among 
the baggage, and in the hopes of getting them dried 
had taken ofl* his nether garments ; but they had 
unfortunately been blown overboard by the storm, 



224 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

and he was forced to remain in hiding until daylight 
enabled him to find his portmanteau and get hold of 
another pair. 

As soon as I was thoroughly awake, I discovered 
that we were again at a stand-still, and the dhow at 
such an angle that my feet were higher than my 
head, while by the light of the moon I saw that 
Harry, who was on the other side of the ridge, had 
his feet in the water. Being afraid he would wake 
with a sudden movement and slip in altogether, I 
hardened my heart and woke him, explaining the 
situation ; but rubbing his eyes for a moment, he 
said, "What does it matter? we are moored," and 
went to sleep again. And so I found we were, the 
natives having taken advantage of our slumbers to 
stop and rest. This was the more annoying as we 
had thus missed the whole advantage of the ebb- 
tide, which had now run out ; and there being no 
wind, we had to wait the full six hours' flood 
before we could make any progress, although by 
Monsieur Martini's persuasions one or two feeble 
attempts were made at rowing. 

One by one we all woke up, feeling very chilly, 
and with our teeth chattering ; so we settled to 
have some rum all round, which put a little warmth 
into us, and kept us going until the dawn began to 
break. Some of us had certainly got bad chills, and 
suffered a good deal from acute pain. 

I had been noticino; for some time that one of the 



THE COAST AGAIN. 225 

crew, a shrivelled-up old man, had been busily en- 
gaged rigging up a little enclosure with a sail, and 
was still wondering what it could be for, when he 
came up to me and explained by signs that it was 
arranged for me to take my wet clothes off. "A 
la guerre comme a la giferre" I gratefully took 
advantage of his kind thought. 

At last the sun really rose, and never was it more 
welcome than it was to our little party. We had 
been told that we should reach Mojanga that morn- 
ing ; but, as a matter of fact, it was past noon before 
we reached the mouth of the river and sighted the 
town on the far side of Betsiboka Bay, a fine natural 
harbour, and quite the best on the west coast of 
Madagascar. When we got into the bay we had 
the wind nearly dead against us. However, by 
dint of shifting the ungainly sail, we seemed to 
make some little way. Still our destination looked 
like a speck on the horizon ; but we persevered, 
until, after a few hours, to add to our difficulties, 
we again got into a flood-tide, which ran so strongly 
against us that tacking was no longer of any use. 
So the reis and his men calmly sat dow^n, saying 
they could do no more, and that we must wait 
for the ebb ; which meant that we should not 
get in till the middle of the night. I shall never 
forget my sensations of silent despair on hearing 
this. I had not yet really recovered from my 
fever, and the smell of the preserved, or rather un- 

p 



226 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

preserved meat, which the natives chewed on every 
possible occasion, had made me feel terribly sick 
even on the river ; while the combination of a 
light top-heavy boat with the chopping sea of the 
shallow bay completely finished me. Then fol- 
lowed six hours of suffering never to be forgotten ! 
I felt I must go ofi* my head, and uttering in- 
voluntary moans, I clutched at anybody that hap- 
23ened to be near. Harry tells me one of our 
simandoits seemed very much astonished when I 
flung my arms round him ! I implored them to 
wave signals of distress to a ship we saw steam- 
ing in towards the port ; but of course that was of 
no use, for w^e were a mere speck on the waters. 
At last Monsieur Martini, getting quite alarmed at 
the state I was in, got the men to paddle, which did 
little good till the tide turned, and finally landed us 
at Mojanga at 10 p.m. 

Our landing was done under great difiiculties. It 
was pitch-dark ; we had no lights ; and being unable 
to attract the notice of any one on shore, our men 
had to jump into the water and carry us. Monsieur 
Cazeneuve accosted some French sailors who were 
passing, and having ascertained that the ship then 
at anchor in the harbour was the one sent to take 
him to Diego Suarez, proposed that we should go 
with him to see the French Consul — with whom the 
sailors had told him their Captain was dining — and 
see what could be done for us. We gladly followed 




IX 



THE AUTHOR ON ARRIVAL AT MOJANGA. 



MOJANGA. 227 

him, and after roaming about the streets for some 
time trying to find the Consulate, Monsieur Martini 
stopped at an Indian merchant's shop to ask the 
way. They were extremely rude, and in an off- 
hand manner said, " There is no French Consul 
here," at which Monsieur Martini began abusing 
them, only making them laugh. I then stepped 
forward and asked them the same question in Eng- 
lish, and got the idiotic answer, or rather question, 
" Do you speak English ? " to which I paid no atten- 
tion, again asking them if they would kindly show 
us the way to the French Consulate, feeling in my 
heart that I could murder them I One of them then 
got up and sent a black boy to be our guide. 

Arrived at the house, we were ushered u]3-stairs, 
where four Frenchmen were sitting smoking and 
enjoying tin grogiie. Their expressions when they 
saw us were amusing. And no wonder ! for we were 
in a most dilapidated condition. I felt positively 
ashamed of myself, with my hair hanging down, 
partly hidden by a dirty battered old helmet, my 
clothes looking as if I had slept in them for a 
fortnight, a Malagasy spear in my right hand, and 
appearing, as well as feeling, more dead than alive. 
The French Consul was most kind, making us sit 
down and have some supper. We were also intro- 
duced to the Commandant of the ship, with whom 
Monsieur Cazeneuve discussed our plans, telling 
him of our anxiety to get back to Africa as soon as 



228 THE ISLAND OF MYSTERY. 

possible, so as to catch the next English coasting- 
boat, which we knew was to touch at Mozambique 
in a few days. The French Consul having told him 
we might be here for weeks without finding any 
opportunity of getting away, he decided it would 
not cause him any great delay to take us across. 
Our difiiculties were at once swept away, and our 
gratitude knew no bounds. 

The Consul's filanzanas had been brought round, 
and we were just starting for the ship when I 
suddenly discovered that the crocodile was being 
forgotten; so going into the room where the lug- 
gage had been collected, we were nearly bowled 
over by the smell proceeding from the precious 
trophy. The poor Commandant smiled a sickly 
smile when he was asked to take it on board ; but 
he very good-naturedly agreed to do so, taking the 
precaution, however, as soon as he got it, of having 
it carefully nailed down in a packing-case full of 
salt. After bidding an afi'ectionate farewell to 
Monsieur Martini, who was returning to the capital 
by another route, we made our way to the ship's 
boats, and were soon comfortably settled on board. 



229 



BOOK y. 

THE LAND OF SLEEP. 

We sailed from Mojanga at five the next morning 
— Saturday, December 8th— and arrived at Mozam- 
bique the evening of the following day. To our joy, 
as we steamed into the harbour w^e found the Eng- 
lish coasting-steamer "Courland" (of the "Castle" 
line) at anchor, and were at once taken on board 
her by the Commandant to see if we could procure 
a cabin. The Captain being ill, the purser did the 
honours ; and having told us they had plenty of 
room, and were only to sail the following afternoon, 
our kind Commandant invited us to remain on his 
ship that night. 

Next morninof, havino; taken leave of our French 
friends, we went on shore to get our tickets from 
the agent. Mozambique looks a clean but sleepy 
little town, with its white houses built close together, 
forming narrow shady streets. We landed at the 
well-built pier, which took us on to a wdde boule- 
vard, planted at regular intervals with the beauti- 



230 THE LAND OF SLEEP. 

ful flat-topped, scaiiet-flowerecl flamboyant acacia. 
Near this was the agent's house, where it took 
us a good quarter of an hour to rouse anybody. 
Having done so, and obtained what we w^anted, 
we walked through the streets, full of little shops, 
which I inspected with care, ill the hopes of buying 
some curiosities. I found nothing but the bare and 
uninteresting necessaries of life, all in the hands of 
the Indian merchants, who looked only a degree 
less sleepy than their landlords the Portuguese. 
Having no object in visiting the numerous churches, 
and the heat having become intense, we went 
straight to our new ship. 

I w^as prepared to find the crocodile again a source 
of difiiculty, for his covering of salt having partially 
melted, his odour had become decidedly obnoxious. 
I warned Harry I was ready to have a good fight, 
if necessary, to get the box on board ; and seeing 
the Captain at the top of the companion-ladder, I 
walked straight up to him — a native carrying the 
crocodile behind me — and chafiingiy said that the 
contents of this box were so precious that if he 
wished to have us on board he must take it also, 
assuring him that if only he would provide me with 
more salt he w^ould never be aware of its existence. 
He laughed and was really most kind, ordering one 
of his men to open the box and refill it with salt. 
I honestly confess I was glad the job did not fall to 
m}^ lot ! 



PASSENGERS BY THE " COURLAND." 231 

Having settled all our things in the cabin, we had 
a good look round at our fellow-passengers, most of 
them Portuguese except two Arabs, one of whom 
turned out to be the Yizir of the Sultan of Johanna 
— one of the Comoro Islands — who seemed to have 
some grievance against the French, but what it was 
I never could exactly make out. He told Harry 
that they had taken his country, in wdiich his wife 
and children still were, and that if he w^ent back to 
get them out, he was sure the French w^ould cut off 
his head. To me, however, he told quite a different 
story, that his wife and children were at Cape Town 
looking after a shop, wdiich w^as doing very well, and 
that he intended soon to 2^0 to France to interview 
the French President and get redress. Whatever 
the merits of his case may have been, he was a fine 
old man, and seemed to have seen a good deal of the 
w^orld. 

After two days in smooth w^ater, we arrived off 
the bar at the mouth of the Kwa Kwa river — twelve 
miles up which lies the town of Quilimane — a for- 
midable-looking mass of surf as I view^ed it from 
the bridge, but wdiich did not give us any trouble ; 
and after running the gauntlet of the breakers for 
a few minutes, w^e found ourselves in smooth water, 
and w^ere boarded by the pilot, who had taken good 
care not to offer his services until all chances of 
his having to risk his life had passed. A couple 
of hours' run up a broad river, lined with swampy 



232 



THE LAND OF SLEEP. 



mangrove-covered banks, brought us abreast of the 
town of Quihmane, off which we anchored. Durincr 
our passage up we passed several hippopotami; but 
m spite of, or perhaps in consequence of, their 
assuming tlie familiar Zoological Garden pose with 




The Quill mane Pilot. 



only two nostrils and the bump of veneration in 
view, I should certainly have failed to recognise 
them had not the Captain pointed them out to me 
Soon after casting anchor, the Vice - Consul came 



QUILIMANE. 233 

on board, and saying we should be devoured by 
mosquitoes if we stayed on the ship, very kindly in- 
vited us to stay with him during the forty - eight 
hours she remained there. So putting a few things 
into a small bag, we accompanied him ashore, where 
we were promptly pounced upon by the Portuguese 
custom - house officials, who insisted on searching 
into every corner of our diminutive piece of baggage. 
Passing through the broad boulevards — planted with 
palms and flamboyants — of the scrupulously clean 
but deserted-looking little town, we arrived at the 
pretty palm-fringed garden in the middle of which 
is built the British Consulate. Here our host and 
his young wife made us thoroughly comfortable, 
and there being but little to see in the immediate 
neighbourhood of Quilimane, we enjoyed a thorough 
rest, and at the same time learnt much that was 
then new and interesting of the geography and pol- 
itics of that part of Africa, though recent changes, 
both in the maps and the political situation, have 
now made all that we then heard completely out of 
date. There was one bit of information, however, 
which I obtained from a prospectus of the African 
Lakes Company, shown me by our host, which 
completely astonished me, and may still have the 
same effect on many of my readers — viz., that it 
was possible to take, at the offices of the Company 
in England, a through ticket for one's self and 
baggage from London to Lake Tanganyika. 



^o4 THE LAND OF SLEEP. 

We left Quilimane early on Friday, our Captain 
being anxious to get to Chiloane the following 
morning, as the bar at the latter place would be 
impassable late in the day ; but, as it turned out, 
we might have passed several more hours comfort- 
ably in bed at the British Consulate without caus- 
ing any delay ; for after a sultry afternoon, during 
w^hich the glass fell steadily, a storm burst on us at 
about sunset with so many ominous signs that our 
Captain, fearing a cyclone, stood out to sea, where 
w^e passed the whole of the next very miserable 
day. Early on Sunday morning, the weather 
having begun to improve, we stood in, and soon 
after noon crossed the bar without any further 
difficulties than the usual ones caused by shifting- 
sands, and the absence of the buoys, perpetually 
promised but never provided by the Portuguese 
authorities. 

The town of Chiloane is situated on the inland 
end of the island of the same name ; but on account 
of the shallowness of the channel, big ships have to 
anchor just inside the bar. Opposite our anchorage 
on the island was a small Government building, in 
which goods from the interior are collected for ship- 
ment, and as we had been expected the day before, 
our cargo was ready to be put on board at once ; 
and after only a few hours' delay we steamed out 
to sea again — rather a disappointment to me, as I 
had been hoping for a chance of running up the 



INHAMBANE. 235 

river and seeing the town, and also had been looking 
forward to a quiet night. 

The following evening we anchored off Inhambane, 
whose houses, dazzlingly white in the moonlight, 
looked very picturesque between a dark background 
of feathery palms and the belt of silvery ripples 
w^hich separated them from us. The next morning 
we amused ourselves watching some splendid turtle 
swimming about all round the ship; for the heat 
was so stifling that we had to wait till late in the 
afternoon before we went ashore, when, accompanied 
by the Captain, we took a stroll in the town. 

The houses, painted in various colours, give the 
town a bright appearance, but it has nevertheless 
a very deserted look : grass grows up between every 
chink in the paving-stones in the streets of the 
European part of the town ; wdiile the roads in the 
native quarter — never properly made — are now 
wholly neglected, and over ankle - deep in fine 
white dust. The outskirts, however, are decidedly 
pretty, consisting of groups of beehive - shaped 
Kaffir kraals, shaded by palms and acacias, and 
each enclosed in high palisades of bamboo inter- 
laced with palm-branches. AVe walked into one of 
these enclosures, where a group of women were 
collected, who laughed and talked most amiably 
with our Captain. I w^anted very much to see the 
interior of a little hut, and was just peeping in when 
one of the women rushed up, putting herself be- 



236 THE LAND OF SLEEP. 

tween me and the entrance. On being asked why 
she would not let me have a look round, she ex- 
plained that if she let strangers go in the whole of 
her family would be sure to fall ill, apparently look- 
ing on us as possessors of the evil eye. Beyond the 
suburbs the road ran between high hedges of creep- 
ing asparagus — well known in English greenhouses 
• — and farther on were palm-groves and a number 
of small trees, in size and growth somewhat like 
the English crab-apple, bearing a fruit resembling 
a small shrivelled-up apple, of a brilliant red-and- 
yellow hue, with at the end a hard excrescence, 
which I can only compare, from its shape, to a big 
haricot bean, and which, I was told, was a species 
of nut very good to eat when it was fried. 

After two days at sea, during which I had a 
return of my Madagascar fever, we steamed on the 
morning^ of the 20th of December into Delao;oa 
Bay — a magnificent harbour, and indeed the only 
good natural one on this coast, and which only 
requires the addition of a few buoys and beacons 
to make the entrance a perfectly simple matter. 
At nine we anchored off Lorenzo Marquez, at the 
mouth of the English river, and on its left bank. 
The town is by far the most j^rosperous-looking of 
the Portuguese East African possessions, and cer- 
tainly its appearance does not justify its evil sani- 
tary reputation. The houses are mostly large and 
well built, and arranged round airy squares or broad 



LORENZO MARQUEZ. 23*7 

boulevards, well planted with eucalyptus. On tlie 
east and north-east it is open to the full force of the 
sea-breeze ; while above it, to the west, rises a high 
escarpment, apparently a perfect site for residential 
dwellings. The terminus of the then unfinished 
Transvaal Eailway, situated on the river-bank, and 
surrounded with lighters full of stores, gave to the 
place an air of life and work which is wholly want- 
ing in the other seaports of this colony. 

Soon after anchoring we landed, and after walking 
through the big square, named after the inevitable 
Vasco da Gama — whose name meets one at every 
turn on this coast — and marching up and down 
two or three dusty glaring streets, we reached the 
British Consul's house. Once there, we found our- 
selves so comfortable, and Captain Drummond — the 
Consul — so hospitable, that we managed to while 
away the greater part of the day in the broad 
verandah. 

Towards the cool of the evening. Captain Drum- 
mond having; mounted us, we rode off to call on 
Mr Knee, manager of the Delagoa Bay - Transvaal 
Eailway. We soon reached the swamp which separ- 
ates the town from the high land, and which is the 
chief cause of the former's unhealthiness. Nearly 
all the Portuguese towns are built either on islands, 
or on land protected by swamps from landward 
attack. All danger of this has now passed ; and 
the swamp is now Lorenzo Marquez's worst enemy. 



238 THE LAXD OF SLEEP. 

The authorities are filling it up as fast as they 
can ; but the work will take considerable time be- 
fore it is completed. Crossing the swamp by a 
broad causeway, a good road — the first I had seen 
since leaving Aden — led up the head of the blufi", 
and took us on to an extensive plateau command- 
ing a magnificent view of the town, harbour, and 
country to the east and south-east. On the edge 
of this, surrounded by a pretty park, was Mr Knee's 
house, where we were most kindly received, and 
where we also met Colonel M'Murdo, who held the 
Government contract. Hearing that we intended 
to visit the Transvaal, Mr Knee kindly ofi*ered to 
send us up by rail to Komati Poort, and thence 
in his own mule-cart to Barberton, where we could 
catch the Johannesburg coach. The trip would have 
been a most interesting one, and we were greatly 
tempted to accept his ofi"er ; but as all our baggage 
and some important letters were awaiting us at Dur- 
ban, we were reluctantly forced to decline it. 

Mr Knee had the most interestins; collection of 
Kafiir curiosities, which delighted me ; and also 
some lovely seeds quite new to me. They are about 
the size of an ordinary acorn, but three-sided, one of 
these sides being much flatter than the other two ; 
and at the end where the acorn's cup would come 
is a beautiful scarlet top, which does not shed the 
seed as the cup does the acorn, and always retains 
its colour. 



THE NATAL COAST. 239 

On the following morning we started at daylight, 
and after a thirty hours' steam sighted the Natal 
coast, whose sloj^es, divided into fields and covered 
with cultivation, formed a remarkable contrast to 
the untended growths of nature to which we had so 
long been accustomed. 



240 



BOOK Vl. 



THE LAXD OF GOLD. 



Soon after noon on December the 2 2d we cast 
anchor in Durban Eoacls, and the tide beins; too 
low to allow of the " Courland " crossing the bar, 
we decided to go ashore in the tug which was 
soon seen approaching us, alternately balanced at 
the top of an enormous breaker, and then apparently 
disappearing under the water. The prospect was cer- 
tainly not an inviting one, but anything was better 
than the roll of the ship as she lay at anchor ; so, 
stepping into a sort of bird-cage hung from a derrick, 
I soon found myself swinging in the air over the 
tug, which at one moment was yards below me, at 
the next almost touching my cage. A favourable 
opportunity being chosen when she remained for a 
moment stationary on the top of a wave, the cage 
was suddenly lowered, seized by the crew of the 
tug, and unhooked. Then followed an incessant 
rearing, kicking, and bucking of the tug, until we 
found ourselves gliding through the smooth water 



THE CROCODILE AGAIN. 241 

of Durban harbour, and a few minutes later were 
made fast to the wharf at the Point. 

We had hoped to get to Durban early, draw 
some money from the bank, and go on to Maritz- 
burg by the afternoon train ; but it took so long to 
collect our luggage, which had been sent on from 
Tamatave, that it was late in the afternoon before 
we got into the town, and being Saturday, the 
banks were closed : so we had to stay on till 
Monday. 

As the crocodile was a positive nuisance, and we 
thought that we should have no further use for our 
two camp-beds, we handed all three to the inn- 
keeper, asking him to have the former properly 
dressed, and to send the latter to England. It 
happened that we met him again in Cape Town, 
where he had come on a trip, when he told us 
that he had mistaken the two parcels, and sent 
the beds to the bird-stuffer, from whom he had 
had a message saying that he could stuff most 
things, but that camp - beds were quite out of 
his line. I do not know whether he attempted 
to do so and failed ; but whatever the cause, the 
camp-beds have not yet turned up, although the 
crocodile arrived safely in due course, and is now 
reposing in an outhouse at home, still smelling as 
energetically as ever ! 

We were met at Maritzburg by Harry's friend 
Mr Matterson, to whom we had telegraphed news of 



242 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

our arrival, and who invited us to stay with him 
and his wife. Gladly accepting his invitation, we 
spent a happy fortnight in their pretty little house 
outside the town. 

During our stay w^e " did " the neighbourhood 
thoroughly in our host's "spider"; and one day 
having been lent the Commissariat waggonette by 
Colonel Curtis — commanding the troops — Harry 
and I drove over to Falkland to visit some old 
friends of his whom he had not seen since he had 
been on the Staff in Natal. The road ran for many 
miles across the veldt, with here and there only a 
track to guide us over the succession of steep grass- 
covered hills, whose monotony was only broken by 
an occasional Kaffir kraal. It was the wildest spot 
imaginable — the little house covered with vines, 
surrounded by a garden where flowers and shrubs 
grew luxuriantly at their own sweet will. The 
hostess being a great invalid, our host did the 
honours, and walked us off to see his ostrich-farm, 
which was extremely interesting ; but I cannot say 
I found these tall ungainly birds attractive. He 
said it did not then pay, as there was no market 
for the feathers. He then proposed to lend us tw^o 
ponies if we cared to ride some distance off to see 
the banks of the Umgeni river, an offer I gladly 
accepted. While the black servant w^as putting the 
saddles on, our host and his daughter brought out 
two laro^e bao^s of feathers, and chose a handful of 



A EIDE TO THE UMGENI. 243 

lovely black ones with white tips for me to have 
made up when I got home. 

The ponies ready, off we started. As it was get- 
ting late, and a storm was brewing, we galloped all 
the way, and finally reached the edge of a precipice 
overlooking the lovely gorge through which the 
Umgeni here cuts its way. Opposite us, at the dis- 
tance of about three-quarters of a mile, an overhang- 
ing; red cliff*, about on a level with that on which we 
were standing, separated the rolling expanse of veldt 
from a steep bush-covered slope, radiant with every 
possible shade of green, and at that distance looking 
like a soft bed of variegated moss. Below this again 
was a strip of gigantic boulders, among which the 
Umgeni — ^sio^ hundred feet beneath us — foamed and 
tumbled, or collected into glassy pools, reflecting 
every shade of the neighbouring foliage, and finally 
disappeared a couple of miles to the east round the 
corner of a hug-e red bluff". On our side of the river 
the same gradations of boulder, bush, and precipice 
were repeated, but, seen from a bird's-eye point of 
view and at a shorter distance, assumed a totally 
diff'erent aspect, the green tree-to23s, as we peered 
down upon them from the overhanging cliff", look- 
ing like a huge creeper-covered trellis spread to 
save wayfarers from falling into the inky darkness 
below\ 

As we rode back again, we suddenly heard terrific 
bellowing. Away to our right stretched long slopes 



244 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

of hilly pasture, on which great herds of cattle were 
feeding. Two of these herds, each headed by a bull 
of immense size, were advancing towards each other, 
the leaders preparing for battle, pawing the ground 
and tossing their heads. The loneliness all round, 
the gloomy sky overhead, and the evening creeping 
in, combined to produce an uncanny feeling, mixed 
with a sort of superstitious awe. I was glad when 
I found myself back in the waggonette driving 
homewards, though by that time night had fallen 
and the storm had burst. It was all I could do 
to hold the horses, terrified as they were by the 
flashes of lightning which from time to time lit 
ujD the scene. Somehow we eventually got back 
safe, though we had several times missed the track 
in the dark. 

One night Harry and I dined at Government 
House with Sir Arthur and Lady Havelock ; and 
another night Mr Matterson got up a Zulu dance 
for our amusement, which was performed by his 
Kafiirs. It took place in the garden, a lamp having 
been arranged so as to throw a light on the dusky 
group, w^ho, with torches in their hands, and clad 
in Highland costume minus the kilt, stood in a 
semicircle ; and while one came forward and exe- 
cuted a strange war-dance, the others clapped their 
hands, uttering curious sounds, and clicking their 
tongues as an accompaniment. 

After passing Christmas and New Year with our 



THROUGH NATAL. 245 

friends, we started on the 7tli of January, after 
dinner, and arrived at the terminus of the line, 
Elandslaagte, at seven the following morning. Two 
coaches were waiting ready to start ; so, having se- 
cured the box-seat for me, we hurried back to the 
train to see after our luggage. Great was our 
dismay at finding that no portmanteau was forth- 
coming. They assured us it must have been taken 
out by mistake at Ladysmith; so after telegraph- 
ing to the stationmaster asking him to forward 
it by the Harrismith coach on to Johannesburg, 
we started with just what w^e stood in, besides 
Harry's dressing-bag. By great ill luck, just as 
we were leaving Maritzburg on the previous even- 
ing, Harry's master-key had stuck in the lock, 
which we had to break open ; and being in a great 
hurry to catch the train, I had forgotten to take out 
my diamonds, which I had foolishly brought with 
me. On learning that they would have to travel 
all through the Transvaal after us in an unlocked 
portmanteau, I quite made up my mind that I had 
seen the last of them. 

Our small coach, or rather post-cart, with two 
wheels and no springs, was driven by a fat, cheery 
old man called Hans, full of chaff, and for ever 
talking to his six horses. After travelling for some 
hours over a comparatively smooth road, we break- 
fasted at the " Fox and Grapes " Inn ; after which 
our team was increased by two, and the road be- 



246 



THE LAND OF GOLD. 



came rougher, with frequent steep hills. In the 
afternoon a farm on the hillside, not far from 



\'\ 




M 



Zu/ic Dresses, Ornaments, etc. 



1. Zulu walking-stick. 

2. Necklace. 

3. Copper-wire bangles. 

4. Wooden necklace. 

5. Woman's girdle. 



6. Girl's girdle. 

7. Seed snuff-box. 

8. Waist-band. 

9. Puff-adder skin. 
ID. Bead necklace. 



11. Bead waist-band. 

12. Snuff-boxes. 

13. Reinipji. 

14. Girl's girdle. 



MAJUBA HILL. 247 

the road, was pointed out to me as liaving be- 
longed to Mr Eider Haggard. Directly after this 
we drove down a slope at a great pace into New- 
castle, a small town of slightly built houses mostly 
roofed with corrugated iron, and which owes its name 
to the coal found there. After securing rooms in 
the " Plough " Hotel, we went out to try and buy a 
few necessaries ; but articles of clothing for me were 
impossible fo find. 

Five o'clock the next morning saw us galloping 
off again, and at about nine we forded the river 
Ingogo, which, thanks to the recent dry weather, 
was fairly low. A little farther on we came to the 
foot of Majuba Hill, barren, steep, and rocky, and 
bringing back bitter recollections on which it is use- 
less to dwell; and shortly afterwards we drove over 
Lang's Nek, an insignificant little roll in the ground, 
which made one wonder how it could ever have been 
such an impassable obstacle. We halted for break- 
fast at Mount Prospect Farm, a nice little house, well 
sheltered by big trees, where the peace was signed 
between the English and the Boers. Some way off 
was pointed out to us a little improvised cemetery 
where Sir George Colley is buried. 

At about twelve o'clock we reached Michelson's 
Store, situated on the open veldt, and the frontier 
station of the Transvaal. He was described to me 
as a Polish Jew, who had begun life hawking cheap 
jewellery up the country, and had made an enormous 



248 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

fortune in gold-mining speculations, with which he 
intended to take London by storm. In front of his 
store is the Boer monument, erected, as the inscrip- 
tion on one side of it tells, by the " Burghers of 
Wakkerstroom, in grateful memory of countrymen 
who died fighting for freedom." On each of its 
other three faces is a list of those killed at Lang's 
Nek, Ingogo, and Majuba — i.e., eight at Lang's Nek, 
fourteen at Ingogo, and two at Majuba. Oddly 
enough, a little inscription at the base told that 
it had been made by the enemy — J. Smith, of 
Pietermaritzburg. At Ingogo there is also a monu- 
ment of exactly the same sha23e, bearing a terribly 
long list of English names on its four sides. 

Our post-cart was now emptied, and everything 
transferred to what they call the *'bus," a sort of 
roughly-made waggonette with a round-topped hood 
open at either end, in which a kind man gave me up 
the box-seat. I quite mourned the loss of the fat old 
Hans, his successor being gloomy and uninteresting. 
About four o'clock we stopped at one of the halt- 
ing-places, in a dirty little shanty, on unsheltered 
open ground, where a Dutch family gave us some 
squashy bread, and j)ale-brown hot water which 
they insisted on calling " coffee " ; for which 
luxuries they made us pay an exorbitant price. 
During the afternoon a heavy storm came on, and 
when we reached the Nudl-drift the river w^as in 
such strong flood that the driver at first thought 



STANDERTON. 249 

there was too much water to risk the crossing;. He 
hardened his heart, however, and by the skin of our 
teeth we got through all right, the horses swimming 
their hardest against the current, which was drifting 
the coach away from them, knocking its wheels 
against the rocks, and threatening to turn it over 
at any moment. The last miles of the drive were 
across vast grassy plains, so that the pitch-darkness 
that surrounded us did not make us miss much of 
interest. That afternoon we saw a good many 
widow-birds, curiously tail-heavy, but still very 
attractive in their deep mourning. We reached 
Standerton in the Transvaal at nine, and put up at 
the "Blue Peter" Hotel. 

We had been told we must start the next morning 
at three, and a little before that hour we were all 
suddenly awakened by a horn, which we took as a 
signal that the coach was only waiting for the pas- 
sengers to start. While we were sitting in the bar 
waiting for some hot coffee, a man with a woman, 
evidently just arrived, walked through. The inn- 
keeper then explained that the horn we had heard 
was that of the up-country coach, which had just 
come in, having lost its way in the storm, and that 
ours would not start before ^ve o'clock ; so, with 
many grumbles at being stirred up before our time, 
we returned to our room, which, much to our 
disgust, we found in the possession of the new- 
comers, to whom our cute landlord had promptly 



250 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

let it, thus pocketing four charges for " apartments " 
for about six hours' use of his wretched little cabin. 
We therefore had to content ourselves with two hard 
chairs in the sitting-room, the sofa and the floor 
being already occupied with sound sleepers, and 
cold and ^ tired as we were, there spent two long 
weary hours. 

The up-country landlord of South Africa is about 
the most remarkable specimen of his class that I 
have ever come across ; and I can quite believe the 
story told of an inexperienced traveller, who, finding 
neither milk nor sugar with which to flavour his 
cofl'ee in some Transvaal hostelry, was presumptuous 
enough to ring the bell, and, getting no response, 
repeated the operation, with the result that the 
landlord rushed into the room, angrily asking — 

" Did you ring that bell ? " 

" I did," replied the traveller. 

" Then if you do it again, I'll wring your ear ofl'." 

The rain was still pouring when we started. At 
10 A.M. we reached Widepoort, a pretty but forlorn- 
looking little place in the midst of a treeless veldt 
rolling away for miles and miles. There we found 
a tidy-looking English couple, who cooked us an 
excellent breakfast : they kept a store, where num- 
bers of old English uniforms were piled up, which 
are all bought by the natives. The track was 
getting less hilly, but as bad as ever for the horses, 
being through heavy and marshy ground. We 



JOHANNESBURG. 251 

arrived at about 4 p.m. at Heidelberg, a pretty little 
town, with a nice clean inn, and after dark we 
reached Boksberg, a coal-mining place just started, 
its little houses having sprung up as rapidly as 
mushrooms. 

I had noticed that one of our passengers had 
been getting very excited and had frequently looked 
at his revolver as we approached this place ; it 
turned out that he had been warned that a man 
who had got a deadly grudge against him was 
waiting for him there. I believe he was terrified, 
for as soon as we arrived he slunk into a house and 
disappeared until it was time to go on again. 

The evening was glorious as we entered Johannes- 
burg at about eleven o'clock, and after getting rid of 
our mail-bags, we drove through the streets with a 
great clatter to the best hotel. There was not a 
corner to be had. One of our fellow-passengers, 
who lived there, tried to find rooms for us in several 
places. While he was doing so, we stood waiting 
with our bag on the pavement in front of a well- 
lit-up and most noisy bar, from which peals of 
laughter were issuing, especially from the neigh- 
bourhood of the two fat rosy - cheeked girls who 
stood behind the counter. At last our kind fellow- 
passenger returned, having found a room at the 
" Grand " Hotel, of which he gave us the address. 
One of those delightful two-wheeled " spiders" with 
a hood, used there as cabs, happened to be passing, so 



252 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

we got in, not knowing how far we had to go. As it 
turned out, it was just round the corner, not fift}^ 
yards distant, a journey for which the driver — a 
perfect gentleman in appearance — calmly charged 
us 10s. ! and as there are no rules and regulations 
about fares, we had to pay. 

I shall never forget the room we were taken to ! 
The hotel proper consisted of one low building, 
looking on to the street, in which were the public 
rooms. After passing through two of these, we 
found ourselves in a large courtyard, on either side 
of which was a narrow three-storeyed wooden house. 
In front of each floor ran an open wooden balcony 
connected to that above it by a narrow flight of 
wooden steps. We reached the second floor by one 
of these, and with the help of a dim lantern groped 
our way over many pairs of boots into a room, or 
rather a pigeon-hole, with a little window about 
one foot square, under which was what they were 
pleased to call a bed. This, as I discovered the next 
morning, was simply a pile of dirty mattresses 
heaped one on the top of the other on the bare 
floor. Dead beat, I tumbled into the ready-made 
bed without inspecting anything ; while j)oor Harry, 
about a foot longer than the room, lay down on the 
floor with his knees tucked up, as, not knowing what 
our neighbours might be, I did not like leaving the 
door ojDcn for him to put his legs through. When 
daylight appeared, I shivered with horror as I looked 



SPECULATION IN JOHANNESBURG. 253 

at the sheets that I had been sleeping in. Miner 
after miner must have slept in them for weeks I 

Next morning we walked out to see this marvellous 
town of two years' growth, with its curious mixture 
of grand public buildings, large hotels, and rows of 
corrugated iron houses of all sizes. The streets are 
wide, but very dusty; the shops good, but every- 
thing ruinous in price. There was plenty of money 
flying about the town ; the rage for speculation was 
at its height, and there was a boom in gold shares, 
which were being run up by the English market. 
Enormous fortunes were being made just then, with 
the natural result that it was impossible to get 
servants or clerks. Every one speculated on his 
own account, and did not see the fun of working 
for other people. Kound the Exchange there were 
always groups of busy-looking men ; otherwise the 
place had a deserted appearance, and one could 
hardly realise it held twenty thousand inhabitants. 
In the large square in the centre of the town 
a good many waggons were drawn up, some of 
them outspanned, a very neat operation : every 
yoke, as soon as it is taken ofl", being laid down 
on the ground in its proper position, so that the 
full span of sixteen oxen can be put to again in 
a moment. 

In the afternoon, after bargaining with three 
drivers, and at last inducing one to come down to a 
reasonable price, we drove to the " Robinson" mine. 



1 

1 
254 THE LAND OF GOLD. ' : 

situated just outside the town, and one of the most 
important in the district. We were taken all over \ 

it, and shown the working of the machinery. They j 

have now got down about seven hundred feet below 
the surface, and still find gold in as great quantities i 

as ever. The gold-bearing quartz is placed in trucks, ^ 

which are run through narrow galleries up an in- I 

clined plane to the mouth of the mine, and there \ 

passed along another line of rails to the stamp-room, I 

where forty stamps are always at work. The quartz I 

is first jDut through a crusher like a sort of coffee- | 

mill, then pounded in machine-mortars, next mixed | 

with water and run over amalgamated zinc plates. It 
then passes through a sluice covered with blankets, i 

in which the larger pieces of gold are caught. They 
told me that the £1 shares of this mine were at that ; 

time w^orth £70. | 

Eound Johannesburg is all bare and desolate i 

veldt, no trees to give any shelter, and very little to '[ 

suggest to one that riches lie so near at hand. Some ! 

turned-up earth, a few trenches, and little heaps of j 

stone, are all one sees. As the Irishman said who I 

travelled with us next day to Pretoria, " They tell '• 

me there is gold here. Where is it ? I can t see any -i 

• — only bits of rock and stone about." We started at j 

7 A.M. in a totally different class of conveyance from | 

that in which we had travelled from Natal, more like 
an old royal mail-coach hung on powerful C-springs, 
holding twelve people inside, of whom six faced the 



PKETORIA. 255 

horses. On the top were two rows of seats, the rest 
of the roof being entirely taken up by luggage. The 
road was a fair one, and we travelled along at a 
good pace, changing horses three times, and break- 
fasting at the '' Half-way House," a well-built hotel 
in a lovely spot, surrounded by great boulders of 
rock, among which grew mimosas covered with their 
little yellow sweet-scented balls. 

At twelve we reached Pretoria in the middle of a 
heavy shower, the last part of the road being very 
pretty. I never saw anything more unlike one's 
preconceived ideas of a capital ; it was far more like 
a large English village, composed chiefly of pretty 
little one - storeyed houses, each standing in its 
own garden, bright with the pink blossoms of the 
oleander. The streets, however, are ver}^ broad, so 
as to allow the long teams of the ox - w^aggons to 
turn ; and down their sides are sluits, open ditches 
of running water. After one hundred and fifty 
miles in the Transvaal, in which we had so far come 
across hardly any one who was not English, we 
had expected that here at all events w^e should be 
able to study the Boer at home, but we weve sadly 
disappointed. Pretoria outwardly is as English as 
Johannesburg. Even the hotel to which we w^ere 
directed was called " The Fountain," not Die 
Fontein, as I should have expected in the capital 
of Boerdom. Finding this was full, we went on 
to " Strachan's," wdiere we weve received by a 



256 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

thoroughly English barmaid, of whom Harry asked 
if there were any rooms to be had. 

Her answer w^as, " What's your name ? " 

" Colvile." 

" Then I'll run and ask mamma." 

She soon came back saying they had a room, and 
led us out of the front-door, down a verandah facino* 
the street, and into a sort of loose-box opening out 
of it — a dirty little hole with a door which would 
not shut, so that we were practically in the street. 

The first thing we did was to set out and shop. 
Being so long parted from our luggage, we were 
obliged to buy things as we went along. This done, 
we went to call at the British Residency, and were 
lucky enough to find Mrs Williams at home, who 
invited us to stay to lunch, so as to make sure of 
not missing her husband, who was out. This was a 
most comfortable house, charmingly done up, with 
a nice verandah looking on to a lovely little gar- 
den. It was certainly jumping from one extreme 
to another to sit here after our late experience of 
hotels ! 

After lunch, Mr Williams off"ered to drive us to 
the race-course to see some sports, the wind-up of 
their race -week. It rained in torrents the whole 
time ; still it amused me to see the diff*erent types 
by which England was there represented — the Dutch, 
with the exception of one or two emigrants from 
Cape Colony, holding completely aloof from this 



GENERAL JOUBERT. 257 

class of entertainment. They are a homely people, 
and the womenkind not above doing their own 
housework, which I do not wonder at, considering 
how difficult it is to train and keep the natives, who 
at a moment's notice ask for a holiday, go away, and 
never come back. Mrs Williams told me she had at 
last to send to the Cape for her servants. 

Harry went after the races to call on General 
Joubert, victor at Lang's Nek, &c., to w^hom he took 
a great fancy. He described him as rather of the 
type of a dark-haired Scottish farmer, with a slightly 
grey beard, small twinkling eyes, and singularly 
sympathetic manner, but showdng nervousness by 
constantly twiddling his thumbs. The General said 
that since the war the Boer forces had been entirely 
rearmed with the Martini-Henry, which he believed 
not only to be the best rifle in existence, but the 
best that would ever be invented. On Harry ask- 
ing him if they were ever troubled wdth cartridges 
jamming, he said they had hardly ever had a case, 
which he attributed to the men's habit of using a 
pull-through with a bit of suet attached, wdth which 
they cleaned out their rifles during any pause in the 
fight. 

On Sunday afternoon, while I w-as resting, Harry 
called on President Kriiger, by whom he was re- 
ceived in a large bare room, furnished wdth a few 
uncomfortable chairs, two large Bibles on a round 
table, and pictures of Von Moltke, Prince Bismarck, 

R 



258 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

and General Joubert. The President was a coarse 
but rather cunning-looking old man, with a New- 
gate frill, large flat ears, and a red nose with 
spreading nostrils ; to whom Harry took as great 
a dislike as he had taken a fancy to General 
Joubert. 

That evening; we dined with Mr and Mrs Williams, 
and met a young Dutchman, who had been brought 
up in England as a lawyer, and went to the Cape in 
that capacity. He had been given a high legal post 
in the Transvaal, and when the rebellion took place, 
he volunteered and joined the English. He spoke 
very bitterly when he told us that for a month he 
worked for England like a slave, and at the end never 
received a word of thanks, much less any recompense. 
He naturally lost his appointment, and now has to 
make a fresh start and begin life over again. He 
said the Cape Dutch in the Transvaal had learnt a 
bitter lesson, and that whatever might happen in 
the future, England must not count on them as 
allies. They would either leave the country or go 
against us. 

During dinner we were told, as an instance of the 
cruelty of the natives, that a few days ago in Swazi- 
land, instead of hanging a man, they tied a rope 
round his neck and another round his feet, and 
pulled contrary ways until he was in a horizontal 
position. The ropes were then drawn tight, and 
little taps given to them, until the victim literally 



BURIAL OF THE BRITISH FLAG. 259 

died of shocks to the system. We also heard many 
interesting details of ]\[r and Mrs Williams's trip 
to the Zambesi. I believe she is still the only white 
woman who has ever been to the Victoria Falls. It 
took them fifteen months to go there and back in 
their ow^n waggon. She gave an amusing account 
of how, having run out of articles for barter, she 
fell back on her cloth dress, in exchange for strips 
of which they got their daily food when there 
happened to be no game to shoot. 

On Monday we were taken into a little backyard 
in the town, in which was kept the tombstone which 
had been erected over the British flag when it was 
buried here after the peace of 1881, near the spot 
where the bishop's church now stands. I quote the 
address delivered at the burial service from the 
'Transvaal Argus' of August 6th, 1881 : — 

" Friends, South Africans, and Countrymen,— We are 
assembled here to-day to perform the sad and solemn rites 
of consigning to its long last resting-place the remains of 
one whom we have honoured and revered from our birth. 
While yet in the greatness of her power, the magnificence 
of her dominion, the pride of her sway, she has bowed her 
proud head, and fallen, not, alas ! from any inherent weak- 
ness, but in the midst of her glory, by an insidious blow 
from the hands of her most trusted adviser. For a 
thousand years she has inspired her sons not only with 
energy to conquer the greater portions of the world, but 
with virtue and moderation to rule it. For a thousand 
years her colours have floated with equal majesty from the 
torrid to the arctic zone; neither has trouble shaken nor 



260 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

has time weakened the affections which have beat for her 
in the hearts of her people. In all quarters of the globe 
where her standard has been raised, she has been looked to 
as a refuge for the troubled and the oppressed. Her sons 
have scattered themselves over the face of the earth, 
bearing with them the tidings of justice and freedom. 
People have flocked to her standard, whole nations have 
lifted their eyes to witness and their voices to proclaim 
her coming. At the magic influence of her presence the 
fetters have fallen from the limbs of the slave ; but the 
rippling laughter of the happy and the free has been heard 
on every side, while the moderation of her sway gave 
peace and contentment throughout the lands. But, 
friends ! in this our adopted country all has changed. 
That flag, for whicli our forefathers gave the choicest of 
their treasures, and for whose honour so many offered up 
their lives, has been laid down in the dust. Wounded to 
the heart by an unkind thrust, shorn of a portion of her 
honour, her crown of glory taken away by those whose 
prime duty it was to guard her with most jealous care, she 
has come to an untimely end. The flag we loved is dead ! ! 
and with that flag (the emblem of justice and freedom), 
justice and freedom themselves in this land seem also dead. 
AVe lay in that grave before us the flag which may no more 
in this country unfurl herself. Our hearts, too, are in that 
grave. And now, gentlemen, dwelling no longer on the 
past, with the past we bury all rancour and animosity, 
turning ourselves to the future with that hope which has 
ever sustained us. Friends and countrymen, we are not 
cast down ; though we have lost our flag we have not lost 
our courage. Though the emblem has gone, the sentiments 
she inspired still remain with us. Though our poor dear 
flag lies in that grave, the principles she taught shall live 
as long as the sun shall shine. The future of this land — we 
had hoped a bright and glorious future, when all this 
wide domain from Table Mountain to the Zambesi should 



PRETORIA FORT. 261 

have been welded in one harmonious whole under this flag, 
— the future of this land now lies in the eternal mainten- 
ance of those principles of truth and justice without which 
no country can prosper. Go, then, all of you, and let the 
influence we spread and the lessons w^e teach be the 
influence instilled into us and the lessons gained b}^ us 
under the shadow of that flag whose loss we so deeply 
mourn." 

On the tombstone was the following inscription : — 

]in lobmg iHemorg 

OF THE 

BRITISH FLAG IN THE TRANSVAAL, 

WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 

ON THE 2nd august 1881, 

IN HER FOURTH YEAR. 



" In other dimes none knew thee hut to love thee ! " 

On the same mornino; Mr Williams drove us to the 
fort in which the English troojDS had been besieged 
during the war, now occupied by the new Boer 
artillery. In it were two new armour-plated huts, 
very like similar contrivances which we had seen at 
Massowah, and which were said to be very useful 
for savage warfare, though they seemed to me very 
cumbersome things to take about on an expedition. 
We were shown over the fort by a German officer 
who had been private secretary to Dinizulu — 
Cetewayo's son. 

We started again for Johannesburg by the one 
o'clock coach, nine inside — a Salvation Army girl, 



262 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

several bookmakers, and a broker or two — and 
several on the top. After the first stage the 
driver went off the usual track to avoid a bog, 
instead of which he got into one. Suddenly we 
heard a crash and came to a standstill, and found 
ourselves axle-deep in mud ; and in trying to pull 
us through, the traces and iron chains snapped, the 
leaders going off at full gallop up a hill and dis- 
appearing over the sky-line, leaving the helpless 
wheelers still fast to the coach. As nothing could 
be done till the six horses had been caught and 
brought back, most of us got out and walked to the 
" Half-way House," hoping to reach it in time for 
lunch ; but we found it was far farther off than we 
expected, and after being disappointed a dozen times 
as we reached successive ridges from which we ex- 
pected to see it, we were finally overtaken by the 
coach within sight of its doors. 

We got back to Johannesburg at seven, and 
found that our coach for Kimberley was to start at 
four on the following morning, so we lay down in 
our clothes and got what rest w^e could. 

Groping through the dark streets we arrived 
at the coach, and at once settled down into 
our places, two seats at the back facing the 
horses, which had the advantage of allowing their 
occupants to rest their heads when the coach was 
not jolting too violently; but, on the other hand, 
the construction of the seat in front made it im- 



POTCHEFSTROOM. 263 

possible for them to stretch their legs ; while the 
occupants of this seat, although given a fair amount 
of liberty in that direction, had no support for their 
heads, their seat being simply a bench backed with 
a narrow strap supported on stanchions ; and as the 
coach jolted across the veldt, their heads bobbed 
and bumped together every time they dropped into 
a doze. Opposite their seat was another similar 
one, and behind it one like ours, both having their 
backs to the horses, so that twelve of us were seated 
inside the coach, all under slightly varying condi- 
tions of discomfort. Soon the companionship of 
suffering brought us on friendly terms ; and we 
temporarily exchanged seats, and practically tested 
the disadvantages of our neighbours' position, till a 
partly dislocated neck in our case, or a numbed leg 
in theirs, made us again exchange and return to our 
own 23laces. 

As the day broke we found ourselves in an un- 
interesting country covered with yellow mimosa. 
We arrived in time for lunch at Potchefstroom, a 
pretty little well - timbered place, which offers a 
pleasant contrast to its treeless surroundings, and 
is approached by a most picturesque wooden bridge, 
at each end of which grow two large weeping- 
willows. Thence we continued our journey on to 
Klerksdorp, which we reached at eight o'clock, after 
nearly sticking fast in several bogs. 

We thought we were to sleep here at " The Smiling 



264 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

Morn," as the hotel was called ; but on entering the 
bar — called " The Smiling-Eoom " — we were told we 
should only dine and change coaches, as the Johan- 
nesburg coach w^ent no farther. So after a good 
wash and an indifferent dinner we were off again by 
nine, and had a beautiful clear night for our drive. 
The whole coach was soon off to sleejD. We were 
awakened at about 1 a.m. at a changing-station 
where hot coffee could be got, and then travelled 
on till daylight, when we sto23ped for breakfast at 
Makosospruit, and for lunch at Bloemhof. After 
leaving this last place, one of the back-springs broke, 
and we had all to get out of the coach and take the 
luggage off, so as to allow the spring to be roughly 
patched up with cow-hide. It was a great bore, as 
we were still some miles from Christiana, which we 
consequently did not reach till late that evening. 

About two we crossed the Yaal river, about 
three hundred yards wide. The coach and horses 
were driven on to a ferry-boat and towed across, we 
sitting in our places the whole time, and in spite 
of our sleepiness enjoying the beautiful moonlight 
view of the river. On the far bank we had a five 
minutes' halt for a cup of coffee ; after which, with 
the exception of a few minutes' halt in the early 
morning, when we got a mouthful of bread-and- 
butter, we had nothing to eat until we reached 
Kimberley at noon. 

On arriving there we drove to the Central Hotel, 



KIMBERLEY. 265 

which had been recommended to us as the best ; but 
finding it full, went on to the Queen's, where we 
had no more success ! Our flyman then proposed 
the Grand, where, as at Pretoria, we were offered 
a loose - box, this time actually opening into the 
street without even an intervening verandah, the 
hotel itself being full. We had to take it and 
be thankful ; for the whole of Kimberley was over- 
run wdth cricketers, a team having come from 
England to play the Colony. Having secured a 
resting-place, we again went to make inquiries about 
our luggage in hopes that it might have been sent 
straight on, but nothing had been heard of it ; so 
we went back and rested till dinner-time, having 
certainly earned repose, for we had left Pretoria on 
Monday the 14th, slept from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. at 
Johannesburg, went on travelling night and day all 
Tuesday and Wednesday, arriving on Thursday the 
17th at Kimberley, having only been allowed daily 
half an hour for breakfast, half an hour for lunch, 
an hour for dinner, and about five minutes at every 
outspanning stage. It was not so much the rough- 
ness of the road, but the want of sleep, and the 
cramped position that one is in all the time, that 
makes it so exhausting. 

Next morning we called on Mr J. B. Currey, 
manager of the South African Exploration Com- 
pany, whom Harry had known in Cape Town, and 
who kindly gave us a note to Mr Pickering, manager 



266 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

of the '' De Beers " diamond-mine, asking him to 
show us over the works. On arriving there we 
found we w^ere unfortunately too late to see the 
diamond -w^ashing, so w^ere taken over the " Com- 
pound " wdiere the miners live. Mounting a steepish 
slope, ^\e found ourselves in front of a heavy locked 
door, which being opened by the porter in answer 
to our ring, w^e entered a large square, wdth an 
asphalt floor, surrounded by a fence of corrugated 
iron ten feet high. On tw^o sides of it are i^he 
canteens and the Kaffirs' quarters, and on a third 
those of the white overseers. In the centre is a 
big swimming-bath next the schoolroom, in wdiich 
I noticed one of those gongs wdth copper tubes of 
different lengths which I have often seen at home ; 
on this they learn to play tunes. After visiting 
the hospital, a cool, airy, high-roofed shed, wdiere 
there were forty wounded men, laid up mostly 
with broken arms and legs — casualties that had 
happened in the mine — we were taken through 
a door that is always kept locked, into a passage ; 
reminding me of the covered bridge by which 
passengers cross from one platform to another 
in a large English railway station, and venti- 
lated at intervals by small iron - barred windows. 
At the end was a big square hole in the floor, 
through wdiich we could just see the top of two 
narrow^ iron ladders side by side, by which the 
diggers have to go up and down to and from the 



5s^v4 ^ 




THE KIMBERLEY MINES. 267 

mine. The black miners are engaged for three 
months, during which time they cannot leave the 
"Compound." At the end of this period, if they 
like to re-engage themselves, they can ; and some 
of them were pointed out to us as never having 
been outside the place since it was started two 
years ago. Even the overseers cannot go outside 
without a ticket-of-leave. No money is used inside 
the " Compound," all articles being bought and sold 
in exchange for brass tokens of different fictitious 
values. 

In the afternoon we drove with Mr Currey to 
" Du Toit's Pan " mine, a huge quarry with pre- 
cipitous sides several hundred feet deep, at the 
bottom of which, as we peeped over the edge, 
the workers looked like ants. The sides are 
covered with a network of wire-ropes, each pair 
running over two wheels and working a tub by 
which the men ascend and descend the mine, and 
the blue clay is brought up. We were very anxious 
to go down in one of these tubs, but I was already 
feeling very ill with another return of fever, so we 
were taken instead to see the washing of the clay 
at the " De Beers " mine, which we had missed that 
morning. 

On our way there w^e passed through many hun- 
dred acres of what appeared to be ordinary ploughed 
fields of a bluish clay, and which certainly gave no 
indication of the immense wealth which they con- 



268 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

tamed. It is in these fields that the diamond- 
bearing clay is exposed to the air for some months 
before being washed. They were only separated 
from the highroad by a light and easily climbable 
fence ; and it struck me as very curious that such 
extraordinary precautions as we had seen in the 
morning should be taken while it is dug out, and 
that it should then be left apparently at the mercy 
of any passer-by in the open fields. When it has 
been sufficiently loosened by the action of the 
weather, the clay is taken to the w^ashing-station, 
and thrown on to a sort of gravel screen, where it 
is washed under a jet of water, the lighter particles 
being carried away, while the gravel and diamonds 
remain, a smaller-meshed screen beyond catching 
any stones which had passed through the first. 
After it is thoroughly washed, it is spread out on 
tables, and the men sort it carefully, picking out 
any diamonds they come across, which are easy 
to see from their whiteness as compared to other 
pebbles. Mr Currey told us he was going to gravel 
his garden - paths with this refuse, which is con- 
sidered of no value, the garnets, of which the 
gravel is composed, being too small to be worth 
cutting. He told me also that a lady, who had 
been given some for the same purpose, had found 
three diamonds while walking about her garden. 
Even stones found accidentally like this have to 
be reported at once, for the laws are so severe 



CAPE TOWN. 269 

that any one who does not do so is liable to find 
himself in a very awkward position. 

On Saturday afternoon, January 19th, we left 
Kimberley by train at 2.25 for Cape Town. Luckily 
Harry had secured a reserved carriage, for my attack 
of fever had gone on increasing from the day before, 
and the terrible sickness still continued ; so my 
recollections of the first twenty-four hours are of 
the vaguest. Towards the evening of the next day, 
however, I began to feel better, and was able to 
enjoy the grand scenery we were passing through, 
the line winding in and out among the mountains. 
It got more beautiful after nightfall, with the bright 
moonlight casting deep shadows in places, and in 
others showing up the clear hard line of the rugged 
mountains. Many were the difi'erent profiles of 
human faces and shapes of animals that they 
assumed. 

We arrived at Cape Town at about seven o'clock 
on Monday morning, and spent nine days there 
vainly trying to find any sort of ship to take us 
to Mossamedes, where we could have found a West 
Coast boat in which to continue our coasting trip. 
With this object in view we pestered every possible 
person connected with the sea, from the local timber 
merchant to the Captain of a French man-of-war, 
who had incautiously put in for a little holiday. 
While not thus engaged, we were making the lives 
of steamship and railway ofiicials a burden to them 



270 THE LAND OF GOLD. 

on account of our lost luggage, whicli, however, 
never turned up until months after we had reached 
England. Strange to say, the lockless j)ortmanteau 
arrived exactly as I had packed it, with every 
diamond intact — a rather remarkable fact, consid- 
ering that it had followed us the whole way from 
Ladysmith through the Transvaal and the diamond- 
fields. 



271 



BOOK YIL 



THE FOETUNATE ISLES. 



Failing to find the ship we wanted, or our luofo'aofe, 
we embarked on Wednesday, January 30th, on the 
"Hawarden Castle," and after an uneventful voyage, 
landed on Wednesday, the 13th of February, at the 
port of Las Palmas, the capital of Grand Canary; 
and thence drove about two miles into the town, 
where, after several fruitless endeavours to obtain 
accommodation, we finally put up at the Grand 
Hotel. 

Las Palmas at a distance has rather an oriental 
appearance, and the expectations thus raised are 
full}^ gratified on closer acquaintance, as far as the 
population is concerned, the natives being the most 
arrant beggars I have ever come across, children of 
all sorts and sizes crying incessantly, "Johnny, 
give me a penny," while their elders, with equal 
pertinacity, demanded cigarettes. From behind 
latticed window^s too — reminding one of the Egyp- 
tian mushrahieh — rows of dark eyes peeped out 



THE FORTUNATE ISLES. 



at US as we passed, their owners seemingl}^ living, 
during the daytime at all events, the ordinary harem 
life. 

A closer inspection of the streets, however, reveals 
the very unoriental quality of extreme cleanliness. 
The houses are of a dazzling white exterior, many 
of them adorned with massive handsomely carved 







IVashcriuoi/ieii, Las Pabiias. 

doors ; but their most marked features are some 
curious cannon - shaped wooden gutter - spouts pro- 
jecting three or four feet from just under the 
eaves, and which must form a rather trying series 
of shower-baths to the foot - j^assenger on a rainy 
day. The four principal sights of the town are the 
cathedral, the museum, the new opera - house, and 



LAS PALMAS. 273 

the cemetery, all of which we duly "did." The 
exterior of the cathedral is decidedly imposing, but 
the interior to my mind was not worthy of it, its 
only marked feature being its Gothic roof and 
arches, which were very fine. The museum con- 
tains a good collection of plaster-casts and imple- 
ments of the original inhabitants of these islands, 
the Guanches ; also a remarkable assortment of 
bottled monstrosities, as to whose date and origin 
I did not inquire. The new opera-house is a fine 
cream-coloured stone building, the interior of which 
was not yet finished, but which, if it has not been 
spoilt by paint and gilding, should now be very 
handsome. All the mouldings are beautifully carved 
in pitch-pine, and it went to my heart to think that 
they would soon be covered up, and made to look 
like ordinary plaster-casts. 

The cemetery is a very peculiar institution, its 
most remarkable feature being the short tenancy 
enjoyed by most of its occupants. A large part of 
it consists of a quadrangle whose surrounding w^alls 
are pierced with niches for the reception of cofiins, 
wdiich only remain in them for the period — longer or 
shorter, according to the means of the deceased's 
relatives — during which they are hired. At the end 
of this time the cofiins are removed, broken up, 
and their contents thrown on to a heap of similar 
remains in a sort of backyard adjoining the C[uad- 
rangle. In this we saw piles upon piles of skulls 

s 



274 THE FORTUNATE ISLES. 

and bones all bleaching in tlie sun, with here and 
there a skeleton from which the skin had not yet 
wholly disappeared. The caretaker was so accus- 
tomed to this ghastly sight that he thought nothing 
of walking about on the top of these, picking up 
different specimens to show us. 

During our walks in the country, my curiosity 
was aroused by seeing many large fields of prickly- 
pears, the top shoots of which were all carefully tied 
up with bits of rag. On inquiring, I learned that it 
is on these plants that the cochineal insect feeds, 
and that for fear of these precious little bugs drop- 
ping ofi" and getting lost, they are thus made prison- 
ers on their feeding-grounds, until the time arrives 
when they are collected by the women in little 
wooden trays, and then left to die and dry up in 
the sun. 

In the course of one of our walks near the town, 
we came across some curious cave-dwellings in the 
face of the cliff, the entrances to which, being coated 
with a circle of whitewash, had a clean look at a 
distance ; but the appearance of such of the inhab- 
itants as wx saw did not tempt us to explore the 
interiors. 

Not caring much for Las Palmas or its neighbour- 
hood, and hearing that the next outward-bound boat 
for the West Coast of Africa would not start until 
the 9th of March, we determined to pass the re- 
mainder of our enforced stay in the Canaries at 



AN OBJECTIONABLE STEWARD. 275 

Orotava, in the island of TenerifFe. We were told 
on the third day of our stay at Las Palmas that the 
boat was sailing for Teneriffe that evening, and we 
went to the agent's office to secure our tickets, 
hurried back to the hotel, and after getting a 
little dinner, started off for the port. As there 
was no one to take our things on board, we asked 
the manager if he could get it done for us, to 
which he at once answered that he would go and 
do it himself as soon as he could be missed ! 

At nine o'clock we embarked on board the " Leone 
Castillo." She was a small uncomfortable boat, and 
it struck me she might be very nasty if there was 
any sea on. Luckily it was beautifully calm, and 
bright moonlight. AVe were received by the steward 
— a fat, dirty little boy — who followed us like our 
shadow. I happened to ask him what were the 
green lights I saw ahead, so he comfortably installed 
himself in a chair opposite us, and lighting a cigar- 
ette, told us it was the wreck of an Italian ship 
which had raced a Spanish merchant-ship into the 
harbour some days before. A collision took place, 
and she sank so rapidly that seventy lives were lost, 
though they were only two hundred yards from the 
breakwater. 

Not being able to get rid of this objectionable 
boy, we retired to our cabin, where we luckily dis- 
covered in time that our sheets were quite damp, 
and had again to make use of our blanket-bags. 



276 THE FORTUNATE ISLES. 

The night was to prove sleepless for me, thanks to 
the " Spanish kangaroos," as I heard some one de- 
scribe them at Las Palmas. I had been told that 
if I went on deck about 3 a.m. I should see the 
beautiful Peak of Teneriflfe, and the wonderful 
shadow it casts on the sea on a moonlight night ; 
so in the middle of the night I crept up, but saw 
nothing but banks of clouds. 

We arrived at six, anchored off Santa Cruz, 
breakfasted there, and started off about ten o'clock 
to drive to Orotava, where we stayed for a fortnight. 
Being in great want of rest, we went no excursions, 
and our life there was a very idle one, and would 
have been thoroughly enjoyable but for the cold, 
which we, coming straight from the tropics, felt 
acutely, although the other English visitors, lately 
arrived from the chilly North, were complaining of 
the heat. My one excitement was my daily lesson 
on the guitar from the barber of the place, after he 
had shaved Harry; and with reading, sketching, 
and taking photographs, our days were filled up in 
this lovely quiet spot. The Carnival began the 
day before we left ; and a party of us went into the 
streets to see the masquerade, and got well pelted 
with eggs which had been emptied of their contents, 
filled with sawdust and flour, and then secured with 
a piece of paper stuck over the hole. 

We went back to Santa Cruz on Tuesday, March 
the 5th, where we came in for a second egg-pelting 



START FOR SIERRA LEONE. 277 

as we drove through tlie streets. We stayed there 
two nights, but I saw nothing of the town, being 
laid up with one of my ever-recurring attacks of 
fever; and having booked phaces for Sierra Leone, 
we left Santa Cruz on Thursday the 7th of March, 
on board the "Beno-uela." 



21 



BOOK YIIL 



THE LAND OF DEATH. 



The AVest Coast boats had always been painted to 

me in such gloomy colours that I had expected that 

I should now begin really to " rough it," and was 

therefore very agreeably disappointed to find myself 

more comfortable than I had been in any ship since 

leaving England. The Captain, a dear old man, 

seemed to think everything would be too rough and 

uncomfortable for me on the West Coast, so he did 

his very best to make things on board as nice as 

possible. We had the large ladies'-cabin, airy and 

with a big skylight, and which, with its good-sized 

table and berths, turning into sofas by day, was 

more like a sitting-room than anything we had yet 

seen on board ship. We always found it a cool 

and quiet spot, where we were able to spend many 

hours reading and writing. 

There was a o;reat mixture of nationalities on 



THE "BENGUELAS PASSENGERS. 279 

board. Two young Belgians, who were on their 
way to the Congo accompanied by a young Syrian 
interpreter, Suliman, whom they always called 
Salomon, a sly, thin, cringing, despicable piece of 
humanity, like most of his class. A Dane, who 
spoke English easily, and looked like a Scotsman. 
A Eussian missionary with a kind intelligent face, 
who seemed full of the work he was about to under- 
take : he did not know a word of the lano^ua^e of 
the people among whom he was going, but said he 
would very soon pick it up, as it had only taken 
him six weeks to learn English, which he spoke as 
fluently as he spoke French and German. A red- 
bearded Englishman going out to Bonny as head- 
clerk in the telegraph office. An Irishman, who had 
come out as the ship's doctor just for the trip. A 
French-Swiss. And last, but not least, a very short, 
fat man, who seemed to suffer very much from the 
heat, and who, we were told, was a German-Swiss 
called Schmitt. From his conversation we gathered 
that he dabbled in commerce on that coast, and had 
done a little exploring up country from Sierra 
Leone. Since my return home I have found out 
that our friend Schmitt — whose name we discovered 
later was really Zweifel — was no other than the great 
Swiss explorer, and discoverer of the sources of 
the Niger. From the look of him one would never 
have guessed that he could have gone through so 
much walkino; and rouohino- it as he must have 



280 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

undergone in his many journeys up country quite 
alone, with the exception of a few natives to carry 
his o'oods. 

We began by having very cold weather, as instead 
of o'ettino^ into the trades, we had an unusual south- 
west wind blowing against us, making our progress 
slow. The ship was as full as she could hold, and a 
great part of her deck was covered with "sleepers" 
for the use of the Loanda Eailway. 

Very often in the evening the Belgians used to 
call Salomon on deck to amuse us with his extreme 
sharpness and powers of mimicry. The only other 
time of day we ever saw him was early in the 
morning smoking a cigarette in his shirt-sleeves, 
the dirtiest of the dirty. He always had a penny 
whistle in his pocket, and when asked for a song 
he played the accompaniment first, then sang the 
words, and so on verse after verse. His imitation 
of two Frenchmen conversing was very clever, full 
of gesticulation, with the longest words he could 
find in his vocabulary. His mimicry of animals 
was equally good, and he seemed to have a whole 
menagerie in his throat. He generally ended his 
]3erformance by singing in Arabic, with that curious 
droning nasal sound that runs through their songs. 

On Tuesday, March the 12th, we got well into the 
trades, and it became pleasantly hot with a smooth 
sea. The next day we anchored off the island of 
Goree about 10 a.m., and were disappointed to find 



GOREE. 281 

that Dakar on the maiDhmd was too far off for us 
to have time to visit the town before the ship sailed 
aofain. The aoent for the line of steamers came on 
board to make arrangements for embarking French 
blue-jackets on their way to join their ships in the 
Gaboon, and on his return to Goree he took us 
with him, and left us to see the town by ourselves. 
The island is very small, and after having walked 
throuQfh a few streets, we had seen the whole of 
the French settlement, except the fort, which is 
situated on one of the points. A steep hill leads 
up to it, which we climbed, and found ourselves 
in front of a closed doorway. All was so quiet 
we began to think there was no one there. We, 
however, knocked on the chance, and were answered 
by a volley of threats and abuse in French, to 
which I replied by again knocking and asking if 
we might come in. A soldier then came, and smiled 
when he saw us, saying he had thought it w^as 
the little black boys who amused themselves by 
hammering all day on the door. The Captain then 
appeared, a very nice man, who took us to see the 
view of the surrounding country from one of the 
highest parapets. We then went and sat in his cool 
little sitting-room. He seemed so pleased to get one 
of his own class to talk to, as he could not often go 
over to Dakar. It must be a trying exile for a man 
like that to live so much alone, and with no com- 
forts to make life easier. He accompanied us down 



282 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

tlie hill to the town, where we took a sailing-boat 
and went off to the ship. 

About three o'clock the French sailors arrived 
from Dakar in a lighter towed by a steam-launch. 
There was not room for all on board, so some had 
to remain behind and wait for the next steamer 
that would take them. It made me quite sad to see 
some of them — mere boys just come straight from 
France — going to live in such a deadly climate, 
where ^^robably half their number would not sur- 
vive. The part of the ship chosen for them was 
that already crowded with "sleepers" under the 
awning;, which left them so little room that most of 
them had to sleep out in the open, and cook their 
food as best they could. Their high spirits never 
failed them, and it was only when in the evenings 
they sang in chorus some beautiful and touching 
songs in which were ever-recurring regrets at having 
left " La belle Patrie," that one felt how well they 
realised that it might be for the last time they had 
said farewell to their country. 

We were at sea all Thursday and Friday, and 
nothing occurred worth mentioning — beyond a 
heavy swell which made the vessel pitch badly — 
until Friday evening, when a tornado came on. 
The first sign we had of it was a bank of black 
clouds ahead making a hard line against the other 
part of the sky, which was clear and lit up by the 
moon. The Captain warned us the storm would 



SIERRA LEONE. 283 

break suddenly, and told us to be ready to run down 
below. The wind got up, and before we knew where 
we were a tremendous shower came down. The 
poor French sailors got their bedding quite wet, and 
went about trying to find a dry corner to sleep in ; 
not an easy matter, as such heavy rain went through 
all the awnings. In a few minutes it was over, and 
the air felt fresher, though still very " hothousey." 

On the morning of the 16th we steamed into the 
mouth of the Sierra Leone river, a broad and beau- 
tiful estuary lined with luxuriant tropical vegetation, 
on the left bank of which rises the his^h green rido^e 
from which the colony derives its name, and on the 
slope of which is situated the capital, Freetown, off 
which we cast anchor at 6.30 a.m. We were soon 
boarded by a clamouring crowd of negro boatmen, 
but were able to dispense with their persistently 
offered services, thanks to the harbour-master, who 
took us ashore in his gig. In spite of the early 
hour we at once called on Major Crookes, the 
Governor's A.D.C. — the Governor being away down 
the coast — who kindly volunteered to show us about 
the place. 

Viewed from the sea, Freetown is as pretty a 
place as one could wish to see anywhere, but the 
same can hardly be said of it when seen at closer 
quarters. The streets, though broad, are dirty and 
ill kept, and there is a general appearance of mildew 
and decay about the houses which has the most 



284 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

depressing effect. Even the flowers, beautiful as 
they are, are so heavily scented as to heighten the 
depressing influence of the climate. The only lively 
objects about the place were some little birds with 
bright metallic-looking plumage, which flew hither 
and thither among the trees. We had but little time 
to form a personal opinion of the much-abused Sierra 
Leone natives. We, however, visited the market, 
full of cheery negresses cackling over their varied 
wares, among which I noticed some immense plaited 
hats, wdiich, owing to the ends of the straws having 
been left sticking; out about three inches, had a 
curious shaggy apjjearance. We also went to a 
chemist's sho^D to buy some photographic chemicals. 
Stumbling over a little monkey gnawing a banana 
in the doorway, we entered a long barnlike room, 
along; whose leng;th ran a counter, over which the 
proprietor, a gentleman of colour, was leaning in 
conversation with an overdressed negress. So in- 
terested w^ere they in each other, that it was a full 
quarter of an hour before either of them deigned to 
notice our presence. At the end of that time the 
man condescended to inquire whether we wanted 
anything. So leisurely was he in his movements 
that b}^ the time our modest \ lb. of hyposul- 
phite of soda had been weighed out and paid for, 
the hour had arrived at which our ship was due to 
leave ; so hurrying back, we returned on board. 
All the passengers were on deck watching her 



SASS TOWN. 285 

Majesty's ship "Archer" steam into the harbour, with 
the exception of Schmitt ; and as we were just get- 
ting under way, I inquired if he was not likely to 
be left behind. I was told, however, that he was 
safe on board, but concealed in his cabin. It seems 
that during one of his explorations he had killed 
some Sierra Leone natives in self-defence, and that 
although he had been tried for this and acquitted, 
their relations had vowed vengeance ; so that his 
assumed name and temporary retirement were due 
to his fear of being lynched. 

Soon afterwards we steamed off again to the 
southward, generally keeping well in sight of the 
long low line of palms, the strip of sand, and the 
fringe of breakers which are characteristic of this 
part of the African coast. In the early morning 
of the second day we anchored for a short time off 
Sass Town, a large village on the Liberian coast; 
and again, an hour later, off Grand Sesters, the 
latter a very large native village of conical-roofed 
round mud-huts, most picturesquely situated in a 
banana-grove between a thick forest and a large 
tract of cultivation. 

One object of our call at both places was the 
collection of " Kru boys " for the coast factories ; and 
hardly had the echoes of the gun announcing our 
arrival died away than the whole male population 
were afloat, racing towards us in canoes big and 
small, but all of the "dug out" class, and all ex- 



286 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

tremely rickety and dilapidated-looking. Much to 
our Captain's disappointment, however, none of tliem 
wished to engage themselves, and I do not know 
why they were in such a hurry to come out, for 
they had nothing to sell — not even themselves. 
They seemed thoroughly to enjoy themselves, bob- 
bing up and down in the swell, and chaffing our 
crew, wdiile the little boys made expressive signs 
that they would like some food, and one and all 
addressed me as " Mammy." The " Kru boy " 
seems to be a very good - natured hard - w^orking 
savage, of magnificent build, and, I believe, both 
honest and amenable to discipline while fulfilling 
his usual one or two years' engagement with a white 
trader, but, I am told, makes up for it on his return 
by utterly defying the Liberian Government — whom 
he speaks of contemptuously as "them Melican 
man " — and showing a general disregard for the Ten 
or any other Commandments that may be brought 
to his notice. It is, however, certainly on him that 
the prosperity of this coast depends, he being the 
only living thing that can be induced to do a stroke 
of work. The "Kru boys " seem to be very quick at 
picking up the curious pigeon English which they 
talk, or indeed any other language except German, 
of which they say, " German mouth too much 
hard ; " but I must say their English is rather re- 
markable, and difficult to understand. For instance, 
if one of them is asked if he has found somethino^ 



i 



3 



A "kru-boy" menu. 



287 



which he has lost, he answers, "Yes, I no found 
him." The following is a menu concocted by a 
"Kru-boy" cook, which, with its translation, has 
been lately given to me : — 



lOth Sept. 1892. 
Book. 

Soup crazy. 

Big fish cold. 

Fowl small chop. 

Eeef no catch brain. 

Cow-belly. 

Fowl for pot. 

Dem peach. 

Bla for piccin. 

Plum for soft side. 

Stink butter. 

All dem sweet mouth. 



lOih Sept. 1892. 



Menu. 

Soup cressy. 
Cold salmon. 
Fowl cutlets. 
Braised beef. 
Tripe. 

Boiled fowl. 
Peaches. 
Rice pudding. 
Stewed Plums. 
Cheese. 
Dessert. 



Dem Big House for Hill. 



H.B.M.'s Consulate-General. 



Early next morning we rounded Cape Palmas, 
a pretty palm -covered promontory, boasting the 
unusual luxury of a lighthouse, but nevertheless 
adorned with wrecks ; then changing our course to 
the east, we anchored at noon off Tabu, near enouo-h 
to the land to get a good whiff of miasmic gases, 
which reminded me strongly of Madagascar. Tabu 
has one large European factory on a big black 
rock overhanging the sea on the left bank of a 
pretty little creek, beyond which is the native 
village and its usual background of palms. I was 
anxious to land and have a stroll, but the surf 



288 



THE LAND OF DEATH. 



was SO bad that the Captain would not let me, so 
I had to content myself with sketching it from the 
ship ; while to console me for missing a " curio " 
hunt, Mr Fothergill, the purser, gave me a native 
piano, a closed box about seven inches long by 
three wide and one deep, ornamented with burnt-in 
designs, on the top of which are fixed eight strips 




Tabu. 



of bamboo fastened at one end, the other being 
raised by means of a little wooden bridge. 

Our change of course brought us a fresher breeze, 
and as we also stood out farther to sea the tempera- 
ture was very pleasant ; but, on the other hand, we 
missed the amusement, which we had between Sierra 



ACCRA. 289 

Leone and Cape Palmas, of watching through a 
glass the various aspects of the palm-fringed shore, 
with its succession of native villages. During the 
next two days we only sighted two of these, Winne- 
bah and Barracoe, the former a pretty spot backed 
by high land, and possessing several large European 
houses, while the latter is marked by the appear- 
ance, for the first time, of square huts in place of 
the bee-hive shape of farther north and west. 

A little before mid-day on the 21st we reached 
Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast, an imposing- 
looking place, built on a high bank overhanging the 
beach. We landed in the surf-boat that came off 
for the mails. I was told that this safe roomy con- 
veyance has only been used on the Coast since the 
Ashanti war, when they were brought out for the 
purpose of landing troops and stores ; and after my 
experience in her, I felt very thankful that King 
Kofii Kalkali had been evilly advised to defy us, 
and thus bring about the introduction of some more 
seaworthy craft than the native dug-out. 

Our steamer having anchored some way out, we 
had a twenty minutes' row, or rather paddle, to the 
shore, and I had ample opportunity of studying the 
boatmen and their ways. The boat was manned by 
eleven strong well-built natives of varied types, one 
of whom steered in the stern with a paddle, while 
the others, five on each side, sat close against the 
edge of the boat, each steadying himself by a ring 

T 



290 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

of rope througii wliicli he passed his great toe. The 
boat standing high out of the water, they had to 
bend rio^ht over the sides at each stroke to reach 
the water with their short three-pronged paddles, 
all the time uttering curious sounds, which grew 
louder as the waves got higher. At first it seemed 
as if a continuous line of surf cut us ofi* from the 
shore, but as we got nearer I noticed that there 
were openings in this here and there. Steering for 
one of these, the men paddle slowly on until they 
see that a larger wave than usual is about to over- 
take them ; then putting on a spurt, the boat is 
impelled forward at furious speed on the top of the 
boiling breaker, whose roar the men try their best 
to silence by the ever-increasing loudness of their 
song. Blinded by salt foam, deafened by noise, 
and bewildered by the rush of waters, I had hardly 
time to wonder what was going to happen next, 
when a crash brought me to my senses, and on to 
my nose, and I found myself seized by four strong 
black men, and carried safe but dripping to the 
beach. 

Ascending a flight of steps cut in the face of the 
cliff, and followed by a crowd of little naked blacka- 
moors, we found ourselves on the edge of the town. 
We went first to see the Comptroller of Customs to 
find out if the Governor was then at Accra ; but 
as he was at Christiernbourg, an old Danish fort on 
a rather high part of the clifl" about two miles to 



A NATIVE AMBASSADOR. 291 

the eastward, we found that we had not time to 
drive over to see him. 

While we were waiting, an ambassador from one 
of the chiefs of the interior, with whom the Comp- 
troller had been having an interview, came out — 
a most curious-looking individual, whose appearance 
reminded me forcibly of the picture in a child's 
book of Bible stories of the high priest, dressed as 
he was in long garments, and wearing suspended 
on his breast a square embossed gilt ornament, the 
size and shape of Aaron's breastj)late. Behind him 
walked three black boys, the centre one carrying, 
in an upright position in front of him, a very 
formidable-looking weapon, the blade of which w^as 
a foot wide, tapering dow^n to the point and handle, 
and having a pierced design all over it. The handle 
was in shape and size like a gilt pine - apple of 
medium size, and startino^ from it was what looked 
like a snake coiling up the blade, the whole thing 
being about three feet in length. 

After our short visit to the Comptroller, we started 
off to see the town, accompanied by a little black 
boy wdiom he lent to us as a guide. Though lacking 
the distant beauty of Sierra Leone, the town is far 
superior to it on closer inspection. The houses are 
large, clean-looking, and well built ; the streets broad 
and well kept ; even the native huts are far better 
than any we saw elsewhere on the coast ; and the 
place has certainly a general air of prosperity, and 



292 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

€ven healthiness, though in this respect I fear ap- 
pearances are rather deceptive. The shops, too, 
seemed good and plentiful, mostly full of European 
goods, among which were some very pretty cotton 
prints, and great varieties of coloured beads. It 
was studying the natives, however, that most in- 
terested me. A great many of the small boys had 
their one garment kept on by two rows of beads 
fastened round their waist, while most of the women 
had onty a piece of checked duster stuff hanging 
from their hips down to their knees. Their hair 
is done up in curious tight cones four inches high, 
standing straight up on the top of their heads, some- 
w^hat like a clown's wig ; but two women whom we 
met looked most civilised in European hats of a 
long-past fashion, though their short-sleeved cotton 
dresses with low-cut bodices made a strange contrast 
with their dark skins. 

After wandering through many small streets we 
entered the main one, and soon found ourselves in 
the shade of the fine gnarled old cotton-tree which 
stands in the middle of the market-place. A veri- 
table Nijni Novgorod of Western Africa it seemed, 
containing specimens of all varieties of its sons, 
from the light-skinned white-robed Moor, his darker 
brother in faith the Houssa, the half - nautically 
dressed " Kru boy," and the black-coated " coloured 
gentleman " of Sierra Leone, to the untutored and 
imclothed inhabitants of the lower Nio-er. 








NEGRESS, ACCRA. 



THE BAZAAR AT ACCRA. 293 

The goods on sale were as various as their sellers. 
Long flint-guns, pijDes, tobacco, calabashes, cotton 
stuff's, straw hats — broad-brimmed, narrow-brimmed, 
and brimless — looking-glasses, tin mugs, skins, meat, 
fruit and vegetables of all kinds, the latter being 
mostly off*ered by contented-looking old negresses, 
who squatted by the side of their baskets without 
making much eff'ort to dispose of their wares. Not 
so, however, the owners of the carved wooden stools 
of the country. Having bought one of these — I sup- 
pose at an exorbitant figure — we were pestered all 
the w^ay back by would-be vendors of these articles, 
the word having apparently been passed down the 
street that we w^ere willing to relieve all families of 
their superfluous furniture. It was the hottest part 
of the day, and in spite of a nice breeze we were 
beginning to feel that lunch, and a nap in a deck- 
chair afterwards, would not be amiss, so we refused 
most of the numerous off'ers to step inside ; but in 
response to one man, whose mysterious manner led 
us to believe that he had something particularly 
tempting, we followed him up a narrow passage, 
through a dark court into a low stuff"y room, from 
a corner of wdiich he produced an ordinary green 
parrot. But as I had been told that I should prob- 
ably return home in a ship full of them, I declined 
his off'er. 

On returning to the ship we found the sea had risen 
a good deal ; and as the surf-boat could not be kept 




M 



West African Wares. 



1. Loofas. 

2. Kru boy's tooth-brush. 

3. Accra fan. 

4. Earthenware musical jar. 

5. Wooden pillow. 



6. Kru boy'spiano. 

7. Girdle of cowrie shells. 

8. Manilla coins. 

9. Needle-case. 

10. Girdle of cowrie shells. 
16. Broom. 



[I. Carved gourd. 

12. Model of canoe. 

13. Grass haversack. 

14. Round basket. 

15. Accra comb. 



prince's island. 295 

alongside the companion-steps without fear of break- 
ing them, I had to climb up a rope-ladder. 

Our ship ought to have gone round the Bight of 
Benin to Old Calabar, and then southward ; but as 
the Captain thought it desirable to land the French 
sailors as soon as possible, he made straight from 
Accra to the mouth of the Gaboon. 

On Friday afternoon we had another tornado, 
which seemed as if it was going to blow us out of 
the water while it lasted, but it left the air deli- 
ciously cool, and was succeeded by the most lovely 
phosphorescence I have ever seen, the wake of the 
ship being a positive blaze of light. 

We passed close to Prince's Island the next 
evening at eight, when it was unfortunately too 
dark to see it. I was very sorry for this, as, judging 
from the account of it in the 'African Pilot,' which 
I quote, it must be a remarkable sight. It is only 
nine miles long, and " consists of a series of steep 
and rugged mountains surmounted by gigantic 
obelisks of most fantastic shapes, the whole culmi- 
nating in a peak 2700 feet above the sea, and is 
in its physical features and aspect one of the most 
remarkable in the world." It is also interesting as 
being one of the six volcanic cones which run in a 
straight line in a south-westerly direction from the 
Cameroon Mountains, 12,700 feet above the sea. 
A glance at the map shows that a line drawn from 
the Eumbi Mountain to Anna Bom Island passes 



296 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

through every one of these peaks, all evidently the 
result of one vast volcanic upheaval. 

We ought to have sighted the mouth of the 
Gaboon on Sunday morning the 24th of March, 
but owing to a pouring rain nothing could be seen 
a mile ahead. The ship was stopped several times 
that soundings might be taken ; and having got to 
fifteen fathoms, the Captain felt sure that land must 
be near ; so he anchored, hoping the heavy rain 
would soon clear, and let him know his whereabouts. 
We then all had lunch ; still nothing was to be seen, 
when suddenly on our right, instead of ahead of us 
as was expected, the land appeared quite close. AYe 
were just ojDposite the mouth of the Gaboon, into 
which we steamed between Cape Joinville and 
Pongara Point, and tw^o hours later were at 
anchor off Libreville, on the left bank of the 
broad estuary, which takes its name from the larger 
of the three rivers flowing into it. The heavy rain 
had perhaps a depressing effect, and at any rate 
obscured all view of the distance ; but I certainly 
was not struck with the beauties of the place, wdiich 
consists of a small cluster of European houses situ- 
ated on the slope of the low range of hills lin- 
ing the left bank of the estuary. The right bank 
is low and uninteresting, and between it and Libre- 
ville extends a broad expanse of lead-coloured water. 
I was told that the settlement was much less flourish- 
ing than it had formerly been, the chief cause of 



LIBREVILLE. 297 

diminution of trade being the heavy duties imposed 
and the new markets opened. Before the European 
scramble for Africa began, the Gaboon was the only 
port within reach to which natives of this part could 
bring their goods. Now, w^itli the Congo on the 
south and the Germans on the north, the native 
naturally paddles his canoe down the river which 
happens to lead to the best market. 

The harbour, however, is a magnificent one, and in 
it were lying three French men-of-war : " L'Alceste," 
used as a guard-shij), " Le Pourvoyeur," and " Le 
Sane," on board which we had dined at Cape Town, 
and on whose Captain we at once went to call. We 
were nearly blown out of our boat by a salute, at 
extremely close quarters, of — I forget exactly how 
many guns — in honour of Admiral Brown Coulston, 
whose ship, " L'Arethuse," was just steaming in ; and 
found our friend Commandant Fournier in full 
tog, just preparing to step into his gig to meet the 
Admiral. So arranging to meet later in the day, we 
went ashore and explored as much of the jDlace as 
was to be seen in the drenching rain. 

After walking for about a mile down a pretty 
avenue of cocoa-palms by the sea-shore, we found 
nothing more interesting than a cafe full of French- 
men enjoying a Sunday chat and vermout; so, turn- 
ing to the right, we struck inland, and describing 
a semicircle, re - entered the town by the Gover- 
nor's house and the barracks, into both of which 



298 THE LAXD OF DEATH. 

the occupants had very sensibly retired. Finding 
ourselves back at the pier and drenched through, 
we determined to follow their wise example, and 
hailing a boat, were on the point of giving the 
order " Home," when we were invited to go 
over " L'Alceste." We found her a comfortable old- 
fashioned ship, with big square port-holes well out 
of water, and chiefly given up to hospital accom- 
modation : on board her were several of our late 
fellow - passengers, the French sailors, comfortably 
settled down, and very pleased to have a deck over 
as well as under them. 

At 6.30 on the following morning we steamed out, 
and turned again to the northward, with much 
regret on my part, as I was very anxious to visit 
the Congo, about which I had heard so much from 
all on board. 

It continued to rain all that day, being still the 
rainy season on the part of the coast nearest to the 
Ec[uator. On the next day, however, we got into 
the district where the rains begin in April and end 
in September. They begin later and later as one 
ascends the coast, lasting from May to September 
on the Gold Coast, from June to October at Sierra 
Leone, from July to October at Bathurst, and so on. 

On the morning of the 26th of March we got into 
the long swell which marks proximity to the coast-line 
in the Bight of Benin, and at about noon sighted 
a spire, which w^e were told was part of Bonny 



BONNY RIVER. 299 

Cathedral. Shortly afterwards some corrugated iron 
roofs became visible ; and as we continued our 
course, a straight dark line just showed itself above 
the waters, and gave us our first view of the land 
portion of the Niger delta. As I glanced at the 
Captain's chart I wondered how we should ever find 
our way through the labyrinth of channels into 
which w^e w^ere entering — a doubt by no means 
lessened by a view of the apparently unbroken lines 
of surf and expanses of mud-coloured shallow water 
which lay between us and the shore. However, 
after many twistings and turnings, and the guidance 
of the solitary buoy by which this channel is marked, 
we finally glided into smooth water, and cast anchor 
in the Bonny river — a broad estuary, bounded by 
banks of mud, almost awash at high tide, and far 
below the level of our eyes as we paced the deck of 
the "Benguela." On the left bank were some half- 
dozen two-storeyed European buildings, wdth corru- 
gated iron roofs, behind them a broad expanse of 
bush, of which the straight outline was here and 
there broken by a gigantic cotton-tree. As it neared 
the river's mouth, the bank's few feet of elevation 
gradually dwindled to nothing, until it merged into 
the broad, wet, sandy foreshore, wdiich in its turn 
melted into the sea-horizon. There was no sign of 
native habitations, the town, or rather tow^ns, of 
Bonny being, as we afterwards learnt, situated on 
creeks a little farther up and down the river. Some 



300 THE LAND OF DEATH. \ 

fifty yards from the shore was moored an old hulk, ' 

connected with the land by a wooden pier. i 

The right bank of the river, about a mile and a ; 

half distant, presented an absolutely flat and un- 
broken horizon, and, when shortly afterwards we 
entered the ship's boat to row ashore, disappeared 
altogether beneath the sky-line. Up-stream the , 

view, equally flat and unbroken, aff'orded rather i 

more variety of colour. The broad stream stretched I 

away — an unruffled streak of light — till it melted | 

into the haze of the northern horizon; the green j 

foliage and brown gnarled stems and roots of the 
unending mangroves stood out sharply on an island 
in midstream a few hundred yards above us ; whilst , 

on the left bank, above the factories, mangroves 
again showed a sheet of less brilliant green, 
gradually fading in the far distance into the grey i 

of sky and river. '\ 

The hulk just mentioned was a remnant of the 
older style of trading, when merchants sent their 
own vessels, which, casting anchor in the rivers, 
were covered with mat awnings and generally made 
comfortable, — remaining for weeks or months until | 

their original cargo was exhausted and replaced by 
barrels of palm-oil. Later on they took to leaving ' 

one ship permanently on the coast, moored to the j 

shore, dismantled, and turned into a floating house j 

and fortress ; for in the good old days of the " Palm- \ 

oil Euffian," the vocation of merchants on this coast ^ 



CAPTAIX BOLER. 301 

was anything but a peaceful one. Now goods are 
all sent out by the regular lines of steamers, and the 
merchants' representatives live in comfortable houses 
on the dry land. 

Soon a smart gig put out from the shore, and 
brought on board Captain Boler, one of the oldest 
English residents on the coast, and Major — now Sir 
Claude — Macdonald, the British Hig;h Commissioner 
for the Oil-rivers, who had just arrived from Eng- 
land on a special mission. The former kindly 
invited us to stay with him while we remained at 
Bonny ; and finding that we were likely to have to 
wait some days before the arrival of the " Nubia," 
which was to take us to England, we gladly accepted 
his offer. So, packing up our traps, we reluctantly 
bade farewell to the " Benguela," her captain and 
officers, and accompanied Captain Boler ashore. 

His residence was a substantial two - storeyed 
l3uilding, of which the ground-floor was entirely 
devoted to merchandise and coopers' workshops, for 
the repair and manufacture of the casks in which 
the palm-oil is sent to England. The first and 
residential floor was reached by a broad wooden 
staircase outside the house, but under cover of the 
wide verandah which encircled the whole buildino-. 
On to this verandah all the rooms gave. At the 
top of the staircase and facing the river was the 
dining-room, occupying nearly all the centre of the 
house ; to the right and left of it large airy bed- 



302 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

rooms opened, giving respectively as well on to the 
northern and southern verandahs ; while on the 
other side were the offices, Captain Boler's own 
rooms, and those of his clerks. 



II. 

In the afternoon Major Macdonald took us to see 
the cathedral. Soon after starting we came to a 
narrow tidal channel, and were anxiously debating 
as to the best means of passing it, when three naked 
little blackamoors appeared, one of whom, pointing 
at me, said, " Me carry them man ; " and as good as 
his word, he lifted me on his shoulders and carried 
me across. Our way to the cathedral lay through 
Bonny Town, a dirty and intricate collection of 
huts : some with wattle- and-daub walls and palm- 
leaf thatched roofs ; others of mud-brick and corru- 
gated iron roofs ; and some again a mixture of the 
two styles of architecture, but all out of repair, and, 
as far as I could see, filthily dirty. The chief 
feature of the place appeared to be the extraordi- 
nary number of broken square-face " Holland's " gin 
bottles which were strewn about its streets, and 
which afforded ample evidence of the thirsty tem- 
perament of its inhabitants. Gin is one of the most 
important exports from England to our new Protec- 
torate, and so highly ajDpreciated by the natives 
that they even have a few bottles buried with them 



IN BONNY TOWN. 303 

when they die ; and as I learnt from a wooden 
image of a god which was given to me, they have 
promoted it to the dignity of the ancient nectar 
— the deity in question being represented with a 
"square-face" bottle in each hand. 

Two minutes' walk, however, sufficed for the 
passage of King Ja-ja's capital, and brought us to 
the margin of a deep pool surrounded by gigantic 
cotton - trees, whose heavy shade and buttressed 
roots would almost have made one imagine one's 
self in some early English cloister, but for its 
human occupants, whose behaviour and appearance 
were as far as possible opposed to all ideas of peace 
and dignity. Here King Ja-ja's female subjects 
come to draw water for their households : fat elderly 
negresses, swathed in two or three particoloured 
square dusters ; slim agile young matrons, looking 
anything but matronly in half a yard of the same 
material ; girls of all ages, from six to sixteen, with 
no fraction of a duster, but adorned with a single 
string of cowries pendant from their hips : all carry- 
ing huge water-jars on their shoulders — in the case 
of the children, almost as large as themselves — and 
all laughing and talking and splashing to the utmost 
of their powers. Accom23anying them were the 
unemployed youths of Bonny — apparently a large 
proportion of the population — helping the women, 
as idle young men do all the world over, by causing 
endless giggles, and rendering the proper business 



304 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

on hand perfectly impossible. I was too far off to 
hear what was said, and even had I been nearer, 
was unacquainted with the Yoruba dialect spoken 
at Bonny ; yet I understood every word that was 
uttered as well as if I had been watching a similar 
scene being enacted in an English ball-room, or on 
the area-steps of a London house. The consequences 
of the Tower of Babel have no doubt been most 
annoying to serious - minded persons in search of 
information; but to the truly frivolous they have 
caused but little practical inconvenience, nor will, 
until a second and worse Babel inflicts on mankind 
a confusion of giggles. 

Our road lay through thick bush, in which a broad 
" ride " had been cut, marked by narrow interlacing 
tracks which the bare feet of its users had worn. 
Half an hour's walk brought us to Archdeacon 
Crowther's house, a pleasant dwelling in a well-kept 
garden facing the river. We were most amiably 
received by the Archdeacon and Mrs Crowther, who 
showed us over their beautiful church and well-built 
schools, the former capable of seating a thousand 
persons, — a number which, I am told, the Arch- 
deacon often draws within its walls. The mission- 
buildings are all situated in a clearing in a part of 
the bush which was formerly sacred to the local 
god, and from which his votaries, ever anxious to 
secure a human sacrifice, were in the habit of 
pouncing out on unsuspecting wayfarers. 




COTTON-TREE, BONNV. 



THE FUTURE OF THE WEST AFEICAN. 



305 



Although it is an open question whether the West 
African negro has yet arrived at a stage which fits 
him for the reception of our religion and civilisation, 
with their attendant liber- 
ties in the matter of gin, 
gunpowder, and forms of 
worship, and restrictions 
as to sexual relationship, 
there can be no doubt 
that the world at large 
can no longer tolerate the 
cruelties and abominations 
attendant on ancestral and 
devil worship, nor live 
cheek-by-jowl — as it must 
nowadays with all sea- 
board populations — with 
a people which practises 
them. Whatever may be 
thought of the advantages 
of missionary work among 
members of more advanced 
religions, the thanks of the 
civilised world are certain- 
ly due to the missionaries, 
who have at all events stamped out the outward 
and more objectionable forms of West African 
superstition. Among these Archdeacon Crowther, 
and, as I heard on all sides, his father, the Bishop 

u 




Jic-jit Priest. 



306 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

of the Niger, belong to the very highest class ; and 
being themselves natives, have an amount of in- 
fluence which no white man could hope to attain. 
Like their American brothers, some of the black 
parsons are decidedly quaint in their methods of 
teachinof. One who acted as locum tenens for the 
Archdeacon some time ago, attracted great crowds 
every Sunday by his violent anti-white sermons. In 
one of them he was telling his congregation of God 
calling the lambs into His fold. "Which did you 
think God called ? " he asked ; " the white lambs, or 
the black? Nay, my brethren, not the white, but 
the black. And why ? " — here a solemn pause — 
^' Because he grows wool " ! 

Many w^ere the stories told us of cannibalism and 
human sacrifice — the former, I fancy, mostly exag- 
gerated ; for, as far as I know, cannibalism has never 
been practised in this region except as part of a 
religious ceremony ; but the latter is still so openly 
practised in the districts out of immediate European 
control, only a few miles from Bonny, that it is 
certain to have flourished there equally until it was 
suppressed by force. Only a few weeks before our 
arrival, for instance, thirty slaves were killed at a 
place not fifty miles from Bonny, in order that their 
late master might not be unattended in the land of 
spirits ; while the relations of another deceased chief, 
also in the immediate neighbourhood, had lately 
buried alive two of his slaves in his grave, and had 



THE SHAEK-GODS VIRGIN. 307 

hung up two more, head downwards, by hooks 
passed through the sinews of their heels ; in which 
position they remained until the flesh rotted away, 
and the poor wretches, still alive, fell into a pit full 
of spikes, on which they were impaled. 

Among the rites formerly practised at Bonny, the 
most horrible, I think, was the monthly sacrifice of 
a virgin to the shark-god. At the first low water 
of every spring-tide a victim was led out to the 
water's edge, there bound to a stake, and left until 
her agony was ended by the slowly rising tide, or 
the sharper but more quickly striking fangs of the 
hungry sharks. 

Horrible as this religion is, it has the advantage 
of putting enormous power into the hands of the 
rulers, and thus enabling them to maintain a degree 
of order which our milder methods fail to eff'ect. 
Men who had travelled in the interior told me 
that, in point of honesty, the civilised compared 
most unfavourably with the uncivilised parts. One 
traveller in a hitherto unvisited region having lost 
his gold watch and chain, wished to ofier £30 reward 
for its recovery ; but the chief of the village would 
not hear of such a proceeding, saying that it would 
disgrace him for ever were it known that a stranger 
had been obliged to buy back his own property in 
his territory ; and issuing a proclamation, the watch 
was soon found and returned to its owner. 

Judging from the experiences of Archdeacon and 



308 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

Mrs Crowtlier, the inhabitants of the Kru coast, 
who, from their frequent employment on board 
European ships, have become fairly civilised, do 
not share these fine scruples. While they were 
returning from a trip to Sierra Leone they were 
shipwrecked off Cape Palmas ; and in spite of the 
fact that they were personally well known to many 
of the natives, the latter had no compunction in 
robbing them of everything they possessed. Mrs 
Crowther, being a very plucky woman, felt so indig- 
nant that she took off her wedding-ring and threw it 
into the sea rather than let the natives have it. 

In justice to the Kru boys, however, I must say 
that they treat the stranger no worse than their own 
friends and relations. After one of them has been 
working up and down the coast for months or years, 
and has collected a nice little "pile," and a fashion- 
able outfit, consisting of a tall hat, a red cotton 
umbrella, and the tunic of a Guards drummer-boy, 
he begins to yearn for his native village ; so balanc- 
ing himself — or otherwise — in a keel-less dug-out of 
fifteen inches beam, he bids farewell to civilisation, 
and charging the surf, lands w^ith a bump on his 
native shore. Immediately following him is a 
gigantic roller, and in the excitement of the moment 
it is many chances to one that the welcoming crowd 
forget to drag the canoe out of the way with sufii- 
cient rapidity, and that she — bottom uppermost, — 
the tall hat, the umbrella, and the tunic, are all 



THE KRU boy's RETURN HOxME. 309 

gaily dancing in the surf. A score of strong arms 
are soon beating the water to their rescue, which is 
speedily eflfected, without much advantage to the 
rightful owner, but to the great joy of the lucky 
swimmers who secure the prizes. Then after toiling 
all these months away from home, the welcome 
wanderer cannot be allowed to burden himself with 
all those heavy bags that hang from his waist, and 
many willing hands are stretched out to relieve him 
of his load, wdth the result that he re-enters his 
home much in the condition in which Job entered 
and expected to leave this world ; nor does he again 
have the pleasure of handling an umbrella or a gin- 
bottle until a fresh arrival from the ships of Christ- 
endom affords him also the opportunity of assisting 
at the home-coming of some one else. 

On our return home Major Macdonald had at once 
to start for Opobo, where he was due to attend 
a " palaver " on the following morning. As no 
steam-launch was at hand, he had to travel in a 
native canoe, winding his way through the intricate 
network of channels which intersect the Niger delta 
in every direction, most of them wholly unexplored, 
and many even utterly unknown. It is strange to 
think that within a short distance of Bonny, con- 
stantly frequented as it is by English men-of-war, 
there should be miles of water-way less known and 
more un-mapped than the distant upper reaches of 
the Niger or the Zambesi. 



310 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

Next morning I was awakened early by tlie loud 
beating of tom-toms, so lifting up my mosquito- 
curtain and peeping through the blinds, I spied 
a procession of long war-canoes advancing down the 
river laden with barrels of palm-oil, and each con- 
taining a king and some fifty of his subjects, who, 
by the peculiar manner in which they handled their 
long-pointed paddles, showed to the initiated to 
which particular monarch they had the honour of 
owing allegiance. These paddle-strokes are some 
of them curiously fantastic and intricate, and must 
add enormously to the labour of propulsion, and, 
I should imagine, are only reserved for state occa- 
sions. They are, however, as distinctive as the tartan 
of a Highland clan, the camel-marks of the Sudanese, 
or the tattooing of a South Sea Islander. 

This, it appeared, was the day of the week on 
which the neighbouring kings — who have taken 
upon themselves the lucrative post of middle-men — 
come down to exchange the palm-oil collected from 
up-river markets for European goods. Later in the 
day I had the honour of being presented to all their 
sable majesties, some of whom rejoiced in such 
un-royal and un- African names as " Black Face," 
''Green Head," "Dublin Green," ''Charles Holli- 
day," and " John Brown " ; the only exceptions to 
this rule being " Oritchie " and "Oko Jumbo." They 
were mostly pleasant, fairly intelligent-looking men, 
with good white teeth, which they continually 



A GATHERING OF KINGS. 311 

showed, and the regular Christy Minstrel laugh. 
One or two of them had been to England, and wore 
European clothes. These seemed there to have lost 
a good deal of the simplicity which lends a charm 
to the untravelled and uneducated West African, 
without having gained very much instead. One of 
the kings quite won my heart by a little bit of 
flattery on my artistic powers, about which I my- 
self was not particularly confident. Looking over 
my shoulder as I was sketching a lovely palm-tree, 
the resting-place of a troop of white doves, which 
stood just under the verandah, he remarked, point- 
ing at the sketch, " Them all same like tree." 

On my asking Captain Boler for information as to 
the class of goods for which the palm-oil was ex- 
changed, he suggested I should come and ins23ect 
them myself. We accordingly descended to the 
store. Such a curious collection ! Knives, hatchets, 
bales of cloth, looking-glasses, straw-hats, blue-and- 
white-striped jerseys, beads and knick-knacks of all 
kinds ; among which were some very fine pieces of 
coral, much used by the wealthier natives as an 
ornament. Captain Boler showed me one piece, 
about an inch square, which he said was worth £70. 
Some time ago the experiment was tried of sending 
out some imitation coral, which, however, had no 
success. The first chief to whom it was offered, 
after looking at one of the strings of beads, put it 
to his lips, and uttering a contemptuous " Tcha ! " 



312 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

— Pooli ! — lianded it back and went off, accompanied 
by all the others. They are also most particular 
about the composition of some coins known as 
manillas — in shape like a thick plain bangle with 
thickened turned-up ends, which gives them the 
appearance of a capital C. To please them, these 
coins must, when hit, give out a certain ring which 
they alone can accurately recognise. The choice of 
cotton prints for this market is also a matter that 
requires great care on the part of the exporter. 
Often whole cargoes of stuffs are found to be almost 
unsaleable, and have to be got rid of for what they 
will fetch. In many parts cotton - stuffs are not 
accepted unless they are printed on both sides ; the 
ordinary prints, plain on one side, or, as the natives 
express it, " Them no have two face," being looked 
down upon as worthless. 

In the midst of Captain Boler's motley collection 
I noticed some rolls of fine red damask, and on in- 
quiring by whom that was purchased, I was told 
there was a great demand for it among the kings, 
who used it for the purpose of winding-sheets. The 
same ideas as to a future state which cause slaves 
to be sacrificed at their master's death, lead to the 
interment with the corpse of all such necessaries and 
luxuries as would ensure his comfort and dignity in 
the land of spirits. As it is the custom to bury a 
man beneath the floor of his own house — which, in 
the case of the head of the family, is then abandoned 



KING '' BLACK FACE. 



313 



— it is probable that the tumble-down and unprom- 
ising-looking old shanties of Bonny Town will yield 
some rich treasures, should its inhabitants ever 
become sufficiently advanced to feel the need of 
drains. 

In the afternoon Captain Boler took us to Ju-ju 
Town to pay " Black Face " a visit. It was a three- 







1 


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^M.9 ^ "^^Ik ij^MJj 


flK 


w 


^^"^^^^^^ 


H 




i^^fl^^^'*^ - ^ w*^^^"-:;' 


f^g 


.•^ -"^ 


^^il^^^'. . ^_ ^ 


ttSM^^R 



Jti-jii Jozvn. 



mile row, mostly through narrow channels between 
islands densely covered with mangroves, whose dark- 
green foliage, perched on the top of a framework of 
earthless roots, presents a strange and unnatural 
appearance even by day ; and in the twilight, mag- 
nified and rendered indistinct by the rising mist, 
these tansfled roots look like bunches of some writh- 



314 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

ing reptiles pendent from the dark walls that hem 
in the narrow stream on either side. 

A wonderful stillness pervades these West African 
creeks. Except for the gentle ripple of the w^ater 
among the mangroves, hardly a sound w-as to be 
heard ; and the only sign of life was afforded by an 
occasional crane, which, startled by the sound of 
our oars, reluctantly abandoned his fishing and fiew 
heavily aw^ay ; and by the families of little red crabs 
collected on the snaky-looking roots, that edged into 
the water as a splash from the oars warned them of 
our proximity. 

Turning a sharp corner, and passing under an 
archway of overhanging branches, so low that we 
had to duck our heads, w^e found ourselves in a 
small shady creek, bright with the reflection of the 
glorious vegetation that lined its banks. Just in 
front of us w^as a high palisade of stout poles, above 
w^hich peeped the palm-thatched roofs of the village. 
Stopping at an opening, W' e were received by " Black 
Face," "John Brown," and "Green Head," who 
helped us out of our boat, and led us into the hut 
of the first-named king. It w^as a curiously civilised 
abode to find in such a place and among such savage 
surroundings, — glazed wdndoW'S, well-painted w^alls 
adorned with some fair prints, and mahogany chairs, 
sideboard, and dining-table, the latter covered with 
siphons, with of course a due proportion of the in- 
evitable " square-face." Having partaken of a mix- 




JU-JU PRIEST, 



WAR CANOES. 315 

ture of these, and uttered the mystic word " Boo," 
which is de rigueur on such occasions, our hosts 
offered to show us their war-canoes ; so skirting the 
town, we followed a narrow path and dived into the 
bush, a tangled mass of lovely flowering creepers 
and si2:antic ferns, over which towered some of the 
largest cocoa-palms I had ever seen. A short walk 
brouo-ht us to the shed in which the war-canoes 
were kept — huge unwieldy-looking things dug out 
of the trunk of a single tree, about three feet broad 
and fifty or sixty in length. They present, however, 
an imposing appearance fully manned, with the fifty 
paddles simultaneously flashing in the sunlight. 
Close by was the old harracoon in which the Por- 
tuguese used to store the slaves prior to embarkation, 
— a long, low, one-storeyed stone building without 
windows, a very dismal dungeon in which to spend 
the last hours on one's native land. 

On the margin of the creek close by, half buried 
in the mud, I saw an odd-shaped earthenware bowl, 
curiously ornamented with bosses. Being always 
on the look-out for curios, I at once asked if it had 
been thrown away, and finding that it had, I 
whispered to Captain Boler to try and secure it 
for me, which he kindly did ; and I triumphantly 
carried off my trophy, which, it turned out, had 
belonged to a neighbouring and now disused Ju-ju 
altar, and was one of the vessels in which the blood 
of the human sacrifices had been carried — with 



316 



THE LAND OF DEATH. 



songs and dances — through the town, to be tasted 
in turn by the inhabitants. In the town itself w^e 
found another altar still standing, and adorned with 
a collection of curiously carved images, bowls, bits 
of pottery, and brass rods. These were by way of 




Idol and other Articles from Bonny 



2. Grass cap. 

3. Accra stools. 

4. Carved pumpkin. 



5. Grass plate. 

6. God from Bonny. 

7. Paddles. 



S. Grass-woven basket. 
9. Sacrificial jars, Bonny. 



having been discarded and thrown away by the 
present chiefs, who are Christians; but from the 
fact of the altar and all its appurtenances having 
been left intact, I suspect that, at the best, they 



MUSIC AND DANCING. 317 

have but added our religion to their own. Near 
this altar was a group of women squatting on the 
ground, who were singing the wildest of tunes to 
the accompaniment of tom-toms made of square 
pieces of wood hollowed out from beneath, and of 
an even simpler instrument — an ordinary narrow- 
necked earthen w^are jar, from which they produced 
various deep notes by beating on the mouth with 
the palms of their hands. These jars varied in 
height from about three feet down to a few inches, 
according to the depth of note they were intended 
to produce. While the women were singing and 
playing, the men and boys danced — not the w^ar- 
dance, which is nearly always performed by the 
males of savage tribes, but rather the class of that 
of the " Gawazi " women on the Nile, or, I should 
imagine, the Nautch girls of India. 

On the following afternoon H.M.S. " Pheasant,' 
with Major Macdonald on board, arrived from Opobo, 
which she had been blockading for some weeks in 
consequence of the behaviour of the local kings, 
who, acting as they do as middle-men, were anxious 
to prevent all direct communication between the 
buyer and the producer. With this end in view 
they had placed booms across the river, and other- 
wise made themselves thoroughly obstructive ; the 
result being that the crews of two of her Majesty's 
ships had been obliged to spend most of their nights 
for some time past in patrolling fever-stricken creeks, 



318 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

with, hardly any greater opportunity of excitement 
than that afForded by the occasional capture of a 
dug-out and her crew of two small boys, and cargo 
of half-a-dozen long-legged chickens. 

We dined on board that night, and heard a great 
deal about the miseries attending the blockade of 
West African rivers, and how the damp nights in 
the swamps and the monotony of the work had 
played sad havoc with the crew, a very large per- 
centage of whom, and several of the officers, were 
down with fever. The Captain had wished to show 
us the war-dance of his " Kru boys"; but just as 
they were about to begin, the doctor asked him to 
postpone it, as the Chief Engineer, who among 
others was seriously ill with fever, had suddenly 
taken a turn for the worse, and was in a very 
critical condition. 

Soon after our return to England we were grieved 
to hear that Captain Johnson himself had succumbed 
to the effects of this deadly coast. 

We had a very pleasant dinner, at the conclusion 
of which Captain Johnson had again to get under 
way to proceed to New Calabar, where Major Mac- 
donald was due for another "palaver." We were 
invited to accompany them, and offered a cabin on 
board ; but the '* Nubia," which was to take us home, 
was due the next day, and being afraid of crossing 
her en route, we had reluctantly to decline. As it 
turned out, the " Pheasant " returned from her trip 



319 

before the arrival of tlie " Nubia " ; so that we should, 
after all, have had plenty of time to see this, to us, 
new bit of country. 

Before leaving, the Captain gave me the following 
letter, which he had received the day before from 
an Opobo chief, and which I reproduce as a good 
example of " English as she is " writ in the Niger 
delta : — 

" Sylvania Villa, 
Opobo Farm, March 26, 1889, 
"Captain Johnson, H.M.S. ' Pheasant.' 

" SiE, — I herewith much pleasure to send you one young 
Parrot by my boys. 

" I have tried all my best to send you and old Parrot, 
but sorry that I cannot succeed. I therefore beg you to 
receive this young one, and I think please God he will in 
future become a good bird to play with. I am very sorry 
indeed of not getting you old bird, who is already speak 
well. However, if you teach this young one he will surely 
be a good Bird. — I remain, sir, your most obedient servant, 

" Appiafl" 

At about noon on the following day we rowed off 
to see King " Charles Holliday," whose plantation 
lies on a small creek about two hours up the river. 
Our route lay through the same sort of scenery as 
we had passed going to Ju-ju Town, but the creeks 
were narrower, and much more intricate ; and in the 
utter absence of landmarks, one wondered how any 
one could find his way about this watery labyrinth. 

On arriving at " HoUiday's " landing, we found 
him awaitino; us with a few of his men, and were 



320 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

escorted by him through the village to his com- 
pound. Passing through a broad arched gateway, 
we entered a high -walled enclosure some two hun- 
dred yards square, in one corner of which stood a 
well-built European -looking house giving on to a 
covered courtyard. Going up a broad flight of 
wooden steps, we were ushered into the dining- 
room, a nicely decorated apartment, whose most 
prominent feature was a large coloured photograph 
of our host, which had been enlarged from an 
amateur's negative sent to England for the purpose, 
in which the large coral bead that he always w^ore 
w^as done full justice to. 

After a short time a little slave came in with two 
dishes — on one a substantial piece of roast-meat, on 
the other palm-oil "chop " — quite the most delicious 
mixture that I had ever tasted of shrimps stewed in 
palm-oil, with just a pinch of ground chillies. It 
was so good that I have often regretted that by the 
time palm-oil reaches England it has lost its fresh- 
ness ; and although doubtless excellent for the pur- 
pose for which it is imported — the manufacture of 
soap, and the bright-coloured but rather unsavoury- 
smelling grease which is applied to railway-carriage 
wheels — it is no longer suitable for culinary purposes. 

Everything eatable on this coast is described as 
" chop " ; and judging from our host's answers to 
various questions of mine on the flora and fauna of 
his estate, he seemed to divide nature into two 



KING "HOLLIDAY's" HOME. 321 

great classes. " Them make chop," or " them no 
good for chop," was the only information I could 
extract from him on any subject connected with 
natural history. Being a practical man, the "make- 
chop " class was greatly in excess of the other, as 
we noticed when after lunch we made a tour of his 
scrupulously clean village and w^ell - kept estate, 
which w^as chiefly planted with cacao and coffee 
shrubs. 

I had been wondering; durino; our stroll at the 
remarkable absence of population, and imagined 
that the people must all be away at the markets 
or elsewhere, when the mystery was solved by the 
appearance round the corner of two w^omen carrying 
water-jars, clad in the scantiest of possible costumes, 
whom " HoUiday " imperiously waved away the mo- 
ment he caught sight of them. I asked why he 
had done so, and he explained that his people not 
being dressed in a style to which I was accustomed, 
he had ordered them all to remain in their huts 
during my visit. As we were anxious to secure 
some photographs of native types, this was the last 
thing we wanted, and the king was accordingly asked 
to rescind his order. 

I also photographed "Holliday" with his six 
wives and their numerous offspring. As the scene 
was a good typical example of a West African house- 
hold, I will try to describe it. 

The left third of the picture is occupied by the 

X 



322 



THE LAND OF DEATH. 



wall of a two-storeyed, gabled wooden house, built 
of alternately light and dark painted boards, and 
pierced by casemented windows, with diamond- 
shaped leaded panes. The eaves, projecting some 
twelve feet, form a broad verandah, supported by 




Charles Holliday'''' a)id Family, 



tall wooden uprights, the feet of which rest on a 
dwarf stone wall, supporting a wooden platform, sur- 
rounded by a balustrade, and approached by broad 
stone steps. At right angles to these steps, and 
running diagonally across the picture from the 



H -.-^TT-^ ,^^ J? 



HOLLIDAY AND HIS HOUSEHOLD. 323 

entrance-door on the first floor to the platform, is 
an open wooden staircase, of a step-ladder style of 
architecture. In the background is a long low shed, 
its walls hidden by a collection of palm-oil barrels, 
and surmounted by a corrugated-iron roof. On one 
of the lower steps of the platform stands " Holliday " 
himself, scratching his chin ; on his head is a Pan- 
ama straw-hat, with the broad brim turned down. 
A green cord is fastened round his neck, threaded 
through a large single piece of red coral, which, 
hanging in the centre of the upper opening of his 
wdiite linen jacket, takes the place of collar, necktie, 
and scarf-pin. A red-and-blue-check duster, wound 
round and round the waist beneath the coat, reaches 
a little below the knees, showing a few inches of 
bare black leg above the white cotton socks and 
black leather laced ankle-boots. Leaning over the 
balustrade to his right are two of his wives — one 
fat and thirty, the other equally fat, but not more 
than twenty years old, each dressed in a single piece 
of check duster material passed round the body 
under the arms, rather higher than a European low 
dress, but more than making up at the skirt for its 
superfluity above. Legs and feet are bare, and a 
checked handkerchief wound tightly round the head 
completes their attire. On " Holliday 's " right and 
left, sitting on the stone steps, are two other wives, 
dressed like the first pair ; while a fifth, swathed 
in a wTapper of broad blue-and-red stripes, stands 



324 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

sljglitly in the background. All Lave little black 
piccaninnies astride their hips. At the top of the 
wooden steps, forming the apex of the pyramid, is 
the hope of the family, the king's eldest son — a 
cheery boy of twelve, who, dressed in a wdiite linen 
shirt many sizes too short for him, is preparing to 
slide down the banisters. In the foreground, seated 
on a stone outside the platform, the youngest wife, 
aged eleven, is playing with two little slave-girls, 
probably rather her seniors — one dressed like the 
elder women, in a coloured check cotton wrapper, 
the other in the costume of Eve before the Fall. 
She, on the contrary, is arrayed in the smartest of 
European low-necked, short-sleeved, frilled frocks, 
evidently made for a child of six, beneath which her 
patent-leather shod feet dangled in the air, appar- 
ently suspended by half a yard of wdiite cotton pan- 
taloon. In the lower right-hand corner of the pic- 
ture, marking the extremity of the pyramid's base, 
is the most important personage of all — a young 
gentleman of about three summers, who, decked in 
a scarlet cloth shirt, which has prudently been con- 
structed to allow for the growth of its wearer, is 
standing in the place and position proper and habit- 
ual to him — well to the front, in an attitude of 
command. 

As the day was getting on, and we had another 
visit to make, we had to bid farewell to our pleasant 
and hospitable host far sooner than I should have 



CAPITAL. 325 

wished. After winding our way among tlie creeks 
for half an hour, our boat shot through the usual 
almost hidden entrance to that on which " Dublin 
Green's " villao-e was situated. 

The scene was very different from that wdiich pre- 
sented itself in the " Holliday " domain, — a dirty, 
badly kept village, looking damp and gloomy be- 
neath the shadow of large overhanging trees ; crowds 
of men and women with little clothing, and appar- 
ently less to do, sprawling in groups near their door- 
steps ; while naked children of various ages stag- 
gered under the weight of enormous water-jars, on 
their way to and from the river. The appearance of 
one of these, I must own, at first rather startled me 
— a perfectly white child of some ten years old, 
naked as the day she was born. A closer inspection, 
however, revealed the white hair and pink eyes of an 
albino, and explained the cause of her appearance. 

Like that of " Holliday," the house of " Dublin 
Green " was surrounded by a walled yard, after pass- 
ing through which, and ascending some steep steps, 
w^e w'ere ushered into a stuffy untidily kept room, in 
which the head wife was sitting. She was a fat, 
dirty, middle-aged woman with a loud laugh, and 
was apparently much amused at our visit. After 
drinking some tea we took our departure, and none 
too soon, for a chilly dampness was rising from the 
river, and before we were clear of the creeks it was 
pitch-dark. 



326 THE LAXD OF DEATH. 



III. 



On Wednesday, April the 3d, the " Nubia" steamed 
in, and the following day saw us homeward bound, 
very sorry not to be able to stay any longer under 
Captain Boler's hospitable roof, from which he had 
promised us many interesting expeditions. His 
parting words were, " You must come back again 
and do the rivers thoroughly ; " an invitation which 
we still hope some day to accept. 

The next evening we stopped at Quitta, on the 
Gold Coast, which consists of a few factories, a fort 
garrisoned by Houssa 23olice under an English officer, 
and a native village in a palm-grove, all situated on 
a low strip of land between the sea and the chain of 
lagoons, behind which the country stretched in an 
unbroken line of mangrove-swamps as far as the eye 
could reach. This is the place from which Sir John 
Glover started on his expedition up the Yolta dur- 
ing the Ashanti war. It is now a great place for 
poultry - breeding, and the recognised victualling 
station for homeward-bound vessels. Soon after 
the gun was fired, a fleet of canoes was seen racing 
towards the ship, which shortly became the centre 
of a tremendous hubbub. The natives had to stand 
upright in their small dug-outs to throw up their 
provisions, an operation that caused many upsets, 
to which, however, they seemed perfectly indiffer- 



CAPSIZED CANOES. 327 

ent ; and soon righting their canoes again, throwing 
one leg over them, they jerked themselves into an 
upright position, and at once began to bale out their 
little crafts. Before many minutes the sea had 
become covered with a mass of bobbing heads, poul- 
try, and vegetables, the latter in every variety of 
colour. Purple " alligator " pears, yellow plantains, 
emerald-green limes, and scarlet chillies made a 
charming contrast to the slaty colour of the sea. 
In the midst of this the righted and the yet un- 
capsized canoes darted about, their owners annex- 
ing all that came within their reach to a chorus 
of invectives from the submerged proprietors. 

The sight was very curious, and would have been 
amusing had it not been for the cruelty to the poor 
fowls, which had to go through the same acrobatic 
performance as the vegetables ; and being tied to- 
gether in bunches of about eight or ten, they had 
not a chance of saving themselves. As these living 
bunches were thrown up by the natives, the poor 
things flew about in various directions, and being 
all fastened to the same centre, it needed a very 
quick man on board to catch them ; and even when 
this was done, hardly a bundle arrived without 
several broken leo;s and wino^s. 

It was great fun watching our " Kru boys " off'ering 
the natives anything they possessed in exchange for 
their beloved dried fish ; a bar of blue soap would 
purchase a dozen. While I was watching them 



328 THE LAXD OF DEATH. 

bargaining, my attention was attracted by the 
sight of a curious dark mass, mysteriously ad- 
vancing towards us without any visible means of 
pro23ulsion. When it got close to the ship, the 
middle of it suddenly disappeared, and on looking 
through my glasses, I discovered that it consisted 
of a number of cocoa-nuts ingeniously fastened to- 
gether, leaving a hole in the centre through which a 
native had passed his head, and quietly swum under 
his load. 

Next day w^e reached Accra, wdiere w^e did not 
land again, as I had a slight attack of fever, and 
there was a very heavy surf on ; so we amused our- 
selves watching the crowd of natives wdio came off 
in canoes with specimens to add to our menagerie — 
which was already pretty well stocked — monkeys of 
many kinds, parrots, parroquets, and cockatoos being 
chiefly conspicuous. These are bought by the crew 
as a speculation, but most of them die on the 
homeward journey. 

On the evening of the same day we passed close 
to Cape Coast Castle, wdiose old red fort forms a 
picturesque object on this rather monotonous coast. 
Standing as it does high above the sea — in compari- 
son with the towns on the Nio;er delta — it was difii- 
cult to realise its remarkable unhealthiness. Next 
morning we stopped to pick up the mails at Assinie, 
a deserted-lookinor French station, consisting; of four 
stone European houses, and a native village on a 



GRAND BASSAM. 329 

low strip of shingle backed by cocoa-palms. I do 
not know if it produces any particular source of 
wealth, but I was told that at Axim, a few miles to 
the east, gold could actually be panned out from the 
sand in its streets. Nevertheless the difficulties of 
labour and the expenses of white supervision are so 
great, that no gold-mining company on this coast 
had hitherto paid. The surf was so bad that the 
mail-boats were upset twice while coming off to us ; 
and as a view of the place which I got from the ship 
did not reveal anything sufficiently tempting to 
make me run the risk of a swim among the sharks, 
I stayed on board. 

A few hours' steam brought us to Grand Bassam, 
an equally uninteresting place of the same class, at 
which steamers do not usually stop, but off which 
we anchored in consequence of a signal from the 
shore that there w^ere passengers to embark. After 
two or three narrow escapes and several duckings, 
these arrived, and were found to consist of three 
black men, a black woman nursing a small monkey, 
and two Frenchmen, one of the latter of whom was 
so ill that he had to be hoisted on board in a tub. 
The other was Captain Binger of the Infanterie 
de la Marine, the French explorer who had left 
Senegal in 1887. He had been given up as lost, 
and mourned by his relations, until some weeks be- 
fore our arrival the Governor of Grand Bassam 
heard that there w^as a white man at Kong, a large 



330 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

town about thirty clays' journey to the north. On 
receipt of this news, Monsieur Treich-Laplene — who 
was no other than the almost dying man just 
brought on board — volunteered to go and meet 
the traveller, and if necessary assist him. Arrived 
at Kong, he found that the white man was the 
missing Captain Binger, and the two proceeded to 
the coast : but Monsieur Treich - Laplene got an 
attack of fever from which he never really re- 
covered ; and although he picked up a little on the 
ship, I heard that he died shortly after his arrival 
in France. 

We soon made the acquaintance of Captain 
Binger, who was a most agreeable and interesting 
companion, and who helped to while away the 
monotony of the voyage by a narrative of his 
adventures. As it has since been published in his 
' Du Niger au Golfe de Guinee, le pays de Kong et 
le Mossi,' I will not try to condense it ; but it was 
a source of great interest to me at the time, and it 
has always been a satisfaction to me to recall that 
I was fortunate enouoii to hear it from him at the 
very moment of the completion of his journey. 

Considering the hardships he had undergone, he 
appeared to be wonderfully well, although he said 
that both he and his native companions had suffered 
a good deal from fever, chiefly brought on by hunger 
and fatigue. Although the greater part of the 
country through which he had passed had never 




CAPITAINE BINGER. 



CAPTAIN BINGER. 331 

before been explored by a white man, he found that 
the inhabitants were for the most part Mohamme- 
dans, and fairly civilised, among the exceptions being 
the Gurunga, the tribe to which belonged the girl 
whom I have already mentioned. One chief of this 
tribe was nevertheless remarkably friendly, and in 
proof of his goodwill insisted on presenting the 
traveller with a handmaiden, an addition to his small 
party which Captain Binger at first looked upon as 
anything but desirable. One of his native followers, 
however, volunteered to lead her to the altar, and 
her status being thus satisfactorily settled, she be- 
came a most useful member of the expedition, and, 
accompanied by her little monkey, followed it faith- 
fully through all its dangers. Her husband had 
come on board very lame, having in his leg one of 
those unpleasant 23ests of this coast, the guinea- worm. 
I do not know how it enters a human body, but hav- 
ing once lodged itself, it grows at a marvellous pace, 
until one day it incautiously protrudes its tail from 
the ulcer which it has formed. This habit being 
known, the appearance of the tail is anxiously 
waited for by the patient and his medical adviser, 
the latter of whom at once pounces on the protrud- 
ing member, and proceeds to wind it carefully round 
a small piece of wood, giving it a slight turn day 
by day, until the whole of the parasite has been 
reeled off. I am told that this operation is one 
requiring great delicacy, the breaking of the tail 



662 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

being fatal to its success, this being a very vulner- 
able part of the guinea- worm, who after his decease 
makes himself even more obnoxious than during his 
life : or perhaps the proverb, " Once bit, twice shy," 
is as applicable to guinea -worms as to the higher 
orders of creation ; and the intelligent animal, 
having been once treated like a reel of cotton, 
takes very good care not to risk a repetition of the 
process. 

Another of Captain Binger's men 'had been 
poisoned by mistake in one of the villages where 
they had slept. He had taken shelter in a hut 
where the owner was sitting down to his meal, at 
which, according to the usual custom, he was 
invited to join, not knowing that the food had 
been poisoned for his host's benefit. The poison is 
very deadly, but takes months to operate, its only 
symptom being a gradual internal swelling. 

I had heard so much traders' " shop " talked since 
I had been on the coast, that I had beg;un to take 
Cjuite an interest in the matter, and asked Captain 
Binger his views as to the advisability of pushing 
markets inland. He seemed to think that trade 
transacted in the interior would rarely pay, as time 
being no object to the natives, they are just as 
willino; to brino; their o-oods to the coast — in fact 
prefer it, as there they get better bargains. For 
instance, a piece of cloth which would cost them 
10s. on the coast, would be charo-ed twice as much 



MONKEYS. 333 

if the European mercliants had to take it some 
distance inland. 

When not enjoying Captain Binger's conversa- 
tion, or dozing in my deck-chair, or trying to catch 
flying glimpses of the passing coast, I spent a good 
deal of my time watching the habits of the many 
kinds of monkeys that were being taken home 
by the men as a speculation. Poor little things ! 
Happily a very large percentage of them die on the 
voyage, and are spared the long term of imprison- 
ment, with a ruined liver, for which they are 
intended. Most of them seemed thoroughly to 
realise their fate, and expressed on their faces as 
clearly as they would have done to Professor Garner 
with their lips, their utter weariness of life. There 
were two exceptions, however, to the general rule 
of solitary confinement and boredom — a baby gorilla 
and a chimpanzee. The former on account of his 
value in Europe, and the latter from his superior 
intellect, were allowed to roam about at will. 
Being too young to remember his forest life, the 
little gorilla seemed quite content to be carried 
about in his owner's arms, or to walk up and down 
holding on to his hand, looking just like a little 
black child of three or four years old. The poor 
little chap had got a nasty cough before we left 
the ship at Goree, and it is doubtful whether he 
ever lived to realise the £100 which it was hoped 
he would fetch at the end of the voyage. The 



334 THE LAXD OF DEATH. 

chimpanzee fully acted up to the converted black 
boy's maxim, " Me Christian now, me get drunk all 
same like master." The crew looked upon him 
quite as one of themselves, to be bullied, played 
with, or treated to liquor, as the humour seized 
them. They, however, usually took the precaution 
of chaining him up before indulging in the first 
pastime — his temper being none of the best, — while 
after the last he certainly walked away from his 
instructors in the matter of gracefulness ; for what- 
ever other good points he may have, grace is not 
the most marked characteristic of a drunken sailor. 
Yet ugly though the monkey was — the very image 
of a sallow-faced old woman — he never for a moment 
lost his sense of the picturesque. 

For the next three days we hugged the shore, 
stopping at every village where a signal was hoisted 
and a barrel of palm-oil was to be collected ; but as 
all were very much alike, and all approached through 
a belt of breakers, without the advantag-e of the 
big English surf- boats, as at Accra, in which to 
face them, I showed the better part of valour and 
remained on board, until at noon on the 11th we 
anchored off Monrovia, the Liberian ca|)ital, a lovely 
spot situated on a high well-wooded promontory on 
the left bank of the St Paul river. 

As we were to remain here for some hours, and 
the bar was a fairly passable one, we went ashore, 
and were well rewarded by a walk through the most 



MONROVIA. 335 

remarkable capital that I have yet come across, — the 
strangest mixture of mushroom growth with gradual 
decay, careful architecture with utter neglect, super- 
abundance of vegetation with lack of human life. 
Broad, well-laid-out streets, in which half-a-dozen 
four-in-hands could drive abreast, are choked with 
rank grass, and occupied by a few stray half-starved 
curs ; broad airy stoeps, under which the eye natur- 
ally seeks for a well-to-do Dutch farmer or mer- 
chant smoking his pipe and counting his gains, are 
either deserted and rotting, or occupied by a fat 
negro lying dozing in a hammock. Monrovia is 
distinctly a good town gone wrong, and at first it 
surprises and almost shocks one ; yet one can hardly 
expect it to be otherwise. Built in 1823 by a society 
of American philanthropists, a ready-made negro 
population was despatched from America for its occu- 
pation, and left to carve out its own destinies. Now 
the male Liberian, happy in the possession of the 
title of Right Honourable, General, or Admiral, rests 
in his hammock, and dreamily ruminates over his 
superiority to the surrounding " niggers," only occa- 
sionally waking up to discuss some globe-stirring 
event, such as the Franco - German w^ar, during 
which, after a prolonged Cabinet meeting, it was 
formally announced by the President that he 
" guessed Liberia would remain neutral " ! 

This pleasant sense of superiority to the aborigines 
appears to be wholly due to a process of subjective 



336 THE LAND OF DEATH. 

reasoning, the hard facts of the case being that 
the benighted heathen outnumber the Liberians by 
nearly forty to one, and have given them the most 
uncompromising thrashing whenever the latter have 
brought such unpleasant subjects as taxation too 
prominently forward. Even the white trader has, 
1 regret to say, sometimes taken a hint from the 
"Kru boy" in this respect. Having noticed two 
brass cannon rather ostentatiously placed on one of 
the coast factories which we passed, I inquired the 
reason, and was told that they had been purchased 
by the owner in consecpience of a demand for taxes 
from the Liberian Government, to whom the reply 
was sent that it had better come and get them. 

Of the Monrovian ladies I am unable to speak, 
not having seen one of them ; but as they were not 
asleep in the stoeps, it is probable that they were 
hard at work somewhere. At any rate, I am sure 
that none of the male population would have shown 
the energy displayed by our late visitor, Mrs Martha 
Eicks. 

After wandering about for some time with a vague 
sort of idea that we must have missed our way and 
strolled into one of the buried cities of the Zuyder 
Zee, we returned to the wharf, and, there being no 
boat to take us off, sat under the shade of a ruined 
shed, and contemplated the famous harbour off which 
a disabled British war-ship was warned, for fear she 
should sink and spoil the approach. At five that 



I 

SIERRA LEONP: AGAIN. 337 ' 

evening we steamed off again, and soon got into a 

tornado, whose accompaniment of blinding rain i 

necessitated — at least so the Captain said — the fur- • 

ther discomfort of the fog - horn, which kept me j 
awake all night, but which had the advantage of 
attracting the notice of the outward-bound ship of 

the same line commanded by our Captain's son-in- i 

law, with whom, having cast anchor in mid-ocean, | 

he had an hour's chat. j 

Friday the 12th saw us again at Sierra Leone, but 

too late at night for the health officer to come on | 

board. However, he turned up early next morning, : 

and took us across to the Government yacht j 

"Countess of Derby," which had just steamed in, j 

having on board the Governor, Captain — now Sir i 

James — Shaw Hay, who had been on an expedition ! 
to Sulima. He was suffering from a bad attack of 

fever, but nevertheless kindly invited us to break- ; 

fast at Government House, where we all repaired. j 

It is a large, rather rambling building, with fine ; 
airy rooms, and a broad terrace in front overlooking 

the luxuriant garden, and commanding a fine view i 

of the town and harbour. Yet it is hardly a cheer- [ 

ful abode. Like everything else about the place, j 

it shows the effects of damp in every corner, and i 

would certainly give me the " blues " had I to live , 
in it. We had, however, a most pleasant breakfast, 
after which, as our time was up, I was carried down 

to the pier in a most comfortable sort of bath-chair, ' 

Y 



SSS THE LAND OF DEATH. 

a conveyance that bore about the same relation to 
my Madagascar filanzana that a dowager's barouche 
does to a bagman's gig. 

The following day and night were spent at sea ; 
and at sunset on Monday the 15th we sighted Goree, 
where we were to leave the " Nubia " and embark in 
a Messageries boat for Bordeaux. AVe cast anchor at 
about eioht, ao-ain too late for the health officer to 
come on board, much to the annoyance of our Cap- 
tain, who was in a great hurry to get away, and who 
repeatedly fired off his gun, but without producing 
the desired effect. I, on the contrary, was by no 
means displeased at the official reluctance to turn 
out, as I knew that there was no hotel at Goree, 
and did not at all enjoy the prospect of a long 
open-boat voyage in the dark to Dakar. 

Having received pratique early next morning, we 
went ashore with Captain Binger, first to Goree, 
where we were entertained by the maire and his 
mulatto wife while Captain Binger did some 
business, and then to Dakar, where we found a 
most comfortable hotel, and an excellent chef, black 
as a lump of coal, but scrupulously clean and neat 
in the regulation white cap and apron. The waitress 
was of the same complexion as himself, but most 
stately and graceful in her movements. She wore 
on her head a red-and-blue handkerchief, somewhat 
like a turban, with one of its corners hanging down 
on the left side, and was dressed in a loose cotton 



DAKAR. 339 

robe, cut exactly the same shape as a surplice, only 
instead of having the sleeves hanging down to her 
wrist, she had gathered them on the top of her 
shoulders, leaving bare her well-shaped arms. 

Dakar is divided into two distinct portions, 
the French and the native quarters. The former 
has a remarkably prosperous and well-to-do look. 
Approaching from the sea, one lands on a broad 
stone wharf, lined with coal-sheds, warehouses, and 
merchants' offices, and traversed by a continuation 
of the St Louis Railway, the terminus proper being 
a few hundred yards down the shore to the south. 
Eound an open space, looking down the wharf, are 
the Government buildings and one of the barracks ; 
while farther inland, broad well-laid-out boulevards, 
lined with good two-storeyed houses, extend for the 
best part of a mile. Through this part of the tow^n 
we took a stroll with Captain Binger, who showed 
us as much as he could in the time, as he was start- 
ing by the evening train for St Louis, where he 
had to make arrangements for his followers' return 
to their home at Bammaku. 

After seeing him off by train, we went for a 
further stroll in the country ; but beyond the large 
native town — composed of neat, cleanly-kept conical 
huts, inhabited by a good-looking and very intel- 
ligent people, who live almost entirely by fishing — 
and the hospital, built on a plateau looking towards 
Cape Yerd, we did not find much to interest us. 



340 



THE LAND OF DEATH. 



and rather lamented over the information we had 
received earlier in the day, that the Messageries boat 
which was to take us home w^as not due for two 
days. Had she arrived at once, I should have been 
so much nearer home, which by this time I was 
quite ready to reach ; or had her arrival been 
postponed for a w^eek, we might have accej)ted 




Native 7 man, Dakai'. 



Captain Binger's invitation to go with him to 
St Louis. As it was, there w^as nothing to be done 
but try to kill time in this highly civilised but 
rather uninteresting place. 

In their due course, how^ever, the hours slipped 
away, and at about five in the afternoon of the 
18th we stepped out of the shore-boat into the 



ADIEU TO THE BLACK MAN's GARDEN. 841 

Messageries sliip "Portugalc," in which we were to 
return to Europe. 

We had been warned that it was very necessary 
to arrange the price with the boatmen beforehand, 
and had done so ; but they proved too sharp for us, 
for haviijo^ still e:ot our ba2f2:ao:e in the boat after we 
had boarded the ship, they proceeded to ask us for 
more money, and on Harry saying that he would 
not give them another sou, they smilingly replied 
that they would take our things back with them. 
Harry was furious, and w^as just preparing to spring 
into the boat again when he was stopped by one of 
the officers, who said that the ship was in quaran- 
tine owing to yellow fever at Kio Janeiro, whence 
she had come, and that no one could leave her. 
So there was nothing for it but to pay up and 
make the best of it. 

With this final experience of the simple black 
man we bade adieu to the confines of his garden, 
arrived at Bordeaux on April 26th, sent a wire 
home to our servants, and the evening of Saturday 
the 27th found us dining quietly in our little house 
in Chapel Street, hardly able to realise that we had 
ever left it. 



INDEX. 



Accra, 289. 
Aden, 48. 
Ambasaniasy, 140, 
Ambatoharanana, 136. 
Ambatomanga, 150, 
Amber, Cape, 91, 
Ambinany, 210. 
Ambodinifody, 148, 
Ambohidratrimo, 186. 
Ambohimanga, 157. 
Amb(')himitsimbina, 156. 
Ampasimbe, 137. 
Ampasoria, 201. 
Analamaza6tra, 143. 
Andavakamenarana, 129. 
Andevorante, 129. 
Andranobe river, 188, 190. 
Andrimbe mountain, 197. 
Anjolokafa, 116. 
Ankay plain, 145. 
Ankazobe, 190, 
Ankeramadinika, 149, 
Antananarivo, 151, 154. 
Antanimbarindratsontsiiraka, 202. 
Antiserane, 95. 
Antoby, 190. 
Assinie, 328. 

Babay, 186. 
Barracoe, 289. 
Beforana, 140. 
Betafo, 152. 
Betsiboka river, 210. 
Bloemhof, 264. 
Boksberg, 251. 



Bonny, river, 299— town, 302. 
Bordeaux, 341, 

Cape Coast Castle, 328, 
Cape Town, 269. 
Chiloane, 234. 

Daedalus lighthouse, 9. 
Dakar, 338. 
Delagoa Bay, 236. 
Diego Suarez Bay, 93. 
Dogeli, 36, 
Durban, 241. 

Elandslaagte, 245. 

Freetown, 283. 

Gaboon river, 296. 
Goree Island, 280, 338. 
Grand Bassam, 329. 
Grand Sesters, 285. 
Guardafui, 56. 

Heidelberg, 251. 
Hellville, 88. 
Hodeidah, 42. 
Hova province, 149. 

Ikopo river, 203, 207. 
"He de laLune," 93. 
"IleFourban," 103. 
'♦He Madame," 103. 
Imerina, 142. 
Ingogo, 248. 
Inhambane, 235. 



344 



INDEX. 



Jeddah, 17. 

Johannesburg, 251, 261. 
Ju-ju Town, 313. 

Kabary plain, 157. 
Kamolandy river, 198. 
Karambily, 210. 
Kimberley, 264. 
Kinajy, 193. 
Klerksdorp, 263. 

Lamu, 57. 
Lang's Nek, 247. 
Las Palmas, 271. 
Libreville, 296. 
Lorenzo Marquez, 236. 

Maattinsinzoarivo fort, 98. 
Madagascar, 80. 
Maharidaza, 192. 
Mahela river, 132. 
Majuba Hill, 247. 
Makosospruit, 264. 
Malatsy, 199. 
Manambonitra, 135. 
Manda Island, 57. 
Mangoro valley, 145. 
Maravoay, 214. 
Maritzburg, 241. 
Maroharona, 197- 
Marokolosy pass, 201. 
Massowah, 34. 
Mavetanana, 204. 
Mayotta Island, 85. 
Michelson's Store, 247. 
Mojanga, 226. 
Mombasa Island, 53. 
Monrovia, 334. 
Muramanga, 145. 
Mozambique, 229. 

Natal, 240. 
Nosy-B6, 88. 
N6sy-V(5 lake, 116. 

Orotava, 276. 

Palmas, Cape, 287. 



Pamanzi, 86. 
Perim Island, 46. 
"Point Orange,' 93. 
Potchefstroom, 263. 
Pretoria, 255. 
Prince's Island, 295. 
"Prunes, I'lle des, ' 105. 

Quilimane, 232. 
Quitta, 326. 

Ras6abe lake, 127. 

Saati, 36. 
Sainte Marie, 103. 
Samburu, 65. 
Santa Cruz, 276. 
Sass Town, 285. 
Shadwan Island, 9. 
Sheila, 57. 
Sherm Rabigh, 16. 
Sierra Leone, 283, 337. 
Standerton, 249. 
Suakin, 24. 
Suez, 2. 

Tabu, 287. 
Tamatave, 105. 
Tamponbuhitra, 156. 
Tanimandry, 131. 
Tharoka river, 129. 
Tor, 7. 

Transvaal, 247. 
Trinkitat, 33. 

Umgeni river, 242. 

Vavony, 129. 
Venice, 1. 

♦'Windsor Castle," 91, 93. 
Winnebah, 289. 

Yembo, 9. 

Zemzibar, 70. 
Zaoudzi Island, 85. 



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