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It was by no means only the king's wives who were in danger of their lives. Once Mtésa ordered an officer to be cut in pieces because he did not appear satisfied with something the king had given to him; and another day he did something which was quite as bad, or worse. Speke had, at his request, shot four cows in the courtyard. As guns were new to the king, this always appeared a wonderful feat. But it suddenly struck him that as guns would kill cows, they would also kill men. With his own hands he loaded one of the carbines which Speke had given him, and, giving it full cock to a page, ordered him to go out and shoot a man. The boy soon returned with a grin of delight upon his face.
Well, did you shoot a man?" asked the king. “Yes," replied the boy. “And did you do it well ?”
Oh, yes; capitally!" Both king and page were satisfied; but no one thought of inquiring what man had been shot,that apparently, did not signify.
Mtésa thought it fine sport to see cows shot, but he was very much surprised that Speke should be able to kill a bird on the wing. The first time this feat was performed in his presence, and Speke killed a vulture that was flying away, Mtésa jumped about frantically, clapping his hands over his head, and crying,
“Woh, woh, woh! What wonders! Oh! Bana, Bana, what miracles! Load, Bana, load, and let us see you do it again !"
Then away rushed the king, his attendants, and women, pell-mell, to reach the spot where the bird had fallen, and here everybody "Woh-wohed" again.
“Come along, Bana, we must have some more sport; now shoot, shoot!”
Accordingly, more birds were shot, herons this time; and then in grand procession the whole party went to exhibit their spoils to the queen-mother, the king, in high good humour, condescending to walk under Bana's umbrella, and questioning him as they went about the magic that had killed the birds, for he could not believe that it was done simply with powder and shot.
After a while Mtésa found out that shot would do it, for he learned to shoot birds himself. He one day hit a heron perched on a tree. At first his success seemed almost to stun him; then running wildly to the bird, he cried,
“Woh, woh! can it be? Is it true ?"
“Bana," he said, as they made their way to the palace, “do you think now, if you and I went against an elephant, we should kill him ? I can shoot now. We will go hippopotamus-shooting together on the lake."
Speke would have been glad of hippopotamusshooting or anything else for a change. It was very dull work for him waiting constantly on the king, or doctoring the queen-mother or his wives, many of whom were so fat they could hardly walk.
He took every opportunity of going on the lake; but above all he wished to follow the Nile from the
point at which he believed it issued from the lake, and return home by. Gondokoro. To do this he must go into a part of the country called Unyoro, inhabited by another tribe and governed by another king, and this other king, Kamrasi, was at war with King Mtésa.
Grant had remained with Rumanika for several months, very ill with his bad leg ; but now he rejoined Speke, and received as kind a welcome from Mtésa as he could wish.
Both he and Speke were very anxious to push on. The war at last came to an end ; with much difficulty Speke procured guides from the king, with an escort of officers and men, and once more they set out upon their travels.
From The Story of the Nile.
THE NORMAN BARON.
In his chamber, weak and dying,
And the castle turret shook.
In this fight was death the gainer,
Written in the Doomsday Book.
By his bed a monk was seated,
From the missal on his knee;
Rang for the Nativity. In the hall, the serf and vassal Held, that night, their Christmas wassail,8 Many a carol, old and saintly,
Sang the minstrels and the waits.
Knocking at the castle gates.
Whispered at the baron's ear.
Turned his weary head to hear.
Christ is born to set us free !"
“ Miserere, Domine 194
In that hour of deep contrition,
Justice, the Avenger, rise.
And the truth wore no disguise.
By his hand were freed again.
And the monk replied “ Amen!"
Mingling with the common dust:
Unconsumed by moth or rust.
H. W. Longfellow.