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kopje one mass of flames and smoke, flocks of parakeets now few chattering even the trees blazing furiously. I and screaming overhead, and birds suppose it is partly owing to the fre- with notes reminding one of thrushes quency of these fires that the “bush ” and larks used to de press me continuconsists so rarely of trees higher than ally by their song; for they made me hawthorns, and that their stems are so sadly regret the spring at home which conspicuously and inartistically black I had lost, and long for the spring here in color.
which I was about to lose. I had often
heard of the beautiful standard-wing IX.
nightjar, and was one day bemoaning Beira, September 17th. not having seen any, when suddenly, as WE had to hurry away from Umtali the sun went down, with noiseless several days earlier than we had in- flight one passed close to me, his long, tended, because of an alteration in the white streamers waving as he went by, time at which the steamer for the Cape and disappeared ghost-like in the darkwas to call here. So we had only time ness. for one expedition, - of course to a At Revue huge moths, like our own gold mine, - but combining therewith " emperor” but with wings tive or six much pretty scenery and pleasant com- inches across, were just coming in pany.
numbers out of their cocoons; and The scenery from Umtali till you get every now and then, as you walked to the flat coast belt, is all hilly and along, up started a monster grasshopbeautiful. Umtali is some three thou- per with scarlet wings rustling as he sand feet above the sea, so the road few; and then down he would hop, descends nearly the whole way except tuck the scarlet away and become infor a long hill over the pass east of the visible again. One day I saw a strange township. Here we first saw palms cloud of a red-brown color, such as I and bamboos growing on the banks of had never seen before. It was a great the streams. The vegetation gets grad- flight of locusts, which happily passed ually more and more tropical as you away from us. We have had too many descend, but until we got to within of these gentry already. seventy or eighty miles of the coast, After descending the pass near Umwhere its character has become too dif- tali we came to a bit of road continuferent from the high plateau to com- ally crossed by deep dongas," or pare with it, we were surprised to find watercourses, with a very steep pitch that the spring seemed less advanced in and out — such as it would never the lower we came, in spite of a warmer occur to one as possible to drive into atmosphere. Indeed, at Salisbury in in England, but which one takes as a the middle of August, the flowers were matter of course out here. Still, when as much out as at Umtali nearly a fort- lying in bed at night, with one's head night after ; and it was only after heavy down and one's feet up, feeling as if rain a week later that we saw many the wagon were at an angle of fortynew flowers spring up. Among these five degrees, while the oxen vainly
a pretty scarlet flower shaped endeavored to draw it up the side of somewhat like a periwinkle, over which the gully, one could not help wondering we spent much time in attempts to dig what would happen to one if the trekit up ; but as after going down about a chain broke. I said something of this foot and a half its single long root sort to our conductor one day, when never showed any indication of dimin- he immediately regaled me with one ishing in size, much less of coming to or two stories of such accidents, all an end, we at last desisted in despair. ending, “the wagons were smashed to Birds and insects increased greatly in bits.” numbers and variety as we descended. All the way down to the railway we There had been comparatively few of continually passed by lines of "boys ” either on the high plateau. Large carrying goods on their heads to Um
tali, and returning unloaded. This is occasionally see, is an ivory-colored because of the difficulties of transport, disc, with a hole in the middle by which owing to the tsetse fly in the low it is hung round the neck. The disc is ground. Mr. Coope, who accompanied about as large as the bottom of a tumus from Umtali, showed quite a genius bler, and with a deep spiral groove on in persuading these natives to sell us one side, the other being quite smooth. their knives and other treasures. He I cannot make out whether these are would begin by talking to them, gradu- natural or artificial. They are said to ally bringing them into such a state of come from a long way off inland, and good humor that they kept bursting it is very difficult to induce a native to into fits of laughter. Then he would part with one. proceed to barter for the article we Considering how short is the hair on wanted, and gradually wheedled them their woolly pates, it is wonderful what into pulling it out with reluctant hands variety of ways the natives have of and pathetic smile, yet unable to resist arranging it. Many wear combs made the voice of the charmer and the of a dozen or more quills tied together bright rupees temptingly held before in the shape of a half-closed fan, aud them. Nearly all these “ boys” car- this often fastens in one or two shabby ried pillows small carved wooden bits of ostrich or other feathers. Somestands with a concave top, on which to times they divide the hair by wide rest the back of the head. Personally, partings all over the head, so that it is I had far rather sleep with my head left in long parallel ridges. But one on the ground than resting on one of of the most peculiar ways of decoratthese, but tastes differ. Some of the ing it, is by taking a number of small natives had oblong dishes cut out of locks and tying each of them closely thick bark, or carried the food of their round and round with a wisp of grass, party wrapped up in a kind of cloth leaving a little tuft at the end, so that made of bark, got chiefly from the their heads look exactly as if they had machabel-tree. This tree has a leaf stuck on a sort of cocks-comb of furather like a polypody fern, but with sces. many more leaflets — I have counted One of the men who passed us hail as many as nineteen on each side. two sticks for making fire, and he and growing in graceful tufts like showed us how he did it. One of the bunches of ostrich feathers. It is one sticks was about fifteen inches long, of the most beautiful and characteristic and about half an inch in diameter. trees in the country. The natives also The other was flatter, and had already usually carry knives, often with handles in it several shallow round holes made and sheaths most artistically decorated by getting fire on former occasions. in patterns with fine brass or copper He took the latter piece, and having wire (probably made in Germany). cut a smaller, irregular-shaped hole in Sometimes knobkerries and assegais it, he squatted on the ground holding it are similarly ornamented. Very often firmly down at each end by his two they carry a poiuted piece of iron, like feet. He then took the first piece of a large packing needle, in a sheath stick and held it upright between his hung round the neck by a thong of two palms, and with the point of the leather like a boot-lace. This is for lower end resting in the hole he had taking thorns out of their feet. With just made in the horizontal stick. He it are frequently hung a few brass twirled the upright stick rapidly berings like curtain-rings, or a snuff-box. tween his hands, and in less than a These last are of many sorts, cleverly minute it had bored a round hole in the carved in wood, and of an infinite other, and the dust so produced began variety of shapes and patterns; or to smoke and then ignited like tinder. made from the seed vessels of different A companion brought a little handful plants, carefully hollowed out.
of fine dry grass which caught a spark Another much-prized ornament you from this, and which he held half en
closed in the palms of his hands, gently joyed. I felt quite a lump in my throat blowing on it till it flamed up. It is as our wagon turned away, and only perfectly marvellous how little the na- saved the situation by taking a hasty tives mind being burned by a fire. "snap-shot as it departed. From They will stand over one while the there to the coast you have to go fames are licking up their bare legs through “the fly" as they always say and never move, and will keep their here ; that is, the belt of land infested hands and feet in red-bot ashes with with the tsetse fly, whose bite is certhe utmost indifference for several sec- tain death to cattle, horses, and dononds.
keys, though the latter often live for a Two nights after we left Umtali our few months after being bitten. Mr. four mules bolted with the spider, Coope had made arrangements for our which coming against the wheel of our journey from Chimoio's to the railway wagon was finally reduced to a condi- by engaging two sets of carriers and a tion beyond even the powers of the traction-engine, besides arranging with trekker's friend reims — to remedy. the Portuguese commandant (for we So it was left behind at the Revue had entered Portuguese territory at River. Here also one of our horses Massikessi) for another set of carriers died, in spite of the eager ministrations and a machila or hammock. This of the whole party. Near there are sounds rather a large order, but it some very tall fan-palms. Were it not proved Mr. Coope's appreciation of the for the veldt fires there would soon be situation ; for when we reached Chia large grove of them, for there were moio's we found that the engine drivers any number of young ones coming up, were drunk, the commandant's pronand the burnt remains of many more. ises had not got beyond the stage of During the few days of our stay at words, and one set of carriers had Revue we had a good deal of rain, vanished. Luckily there remained the coming unusually early in the season, set of carriers Mr. Coope had brought and we had thus an opportunity of ob- with him. The contents of the wagon serviug the difference in comfort of a were spread out on the ground, and to life on the veldt during wet or dry each carrier was given his appointed weather. It is certainly not an agree- load, the efforts of some of them to able life to remain cooped up in a skulk off with less than their share of wagon, shivering in clothes in which weight being amusing to watch. The you formerly complained of heat; the commandant and his English wife enwood too wet to make a fire, aud with tertained us with the utmost hospitality, the knowledge that if the rain goes on and at last, about three in the aftermuch longer you will run short of noon, we started, the gentlemen walkspirits of wine and be unable even to ing, and I in a hammock. We had not make tea. Luckily the situation was gone very far before we came on the not prolonged to this point with us. traction-engine standing deserted by the The dark, rainy nights are those in roadside, the men in charge having which lions do most abound, and a few “ gone on the burst." Most of our miles off Dennison heard them roaring way lay along the half-finished railwaynear where he had outspanned on his line, bigh grass or bush on either side, way back to join us with the buck- and quantities of lovely lilac petuniawagon. This gave me hopes that I like flowers bordering the track. might still come across one, but we got Practised machila - bearers amble down to Chimoio's without seeing any- along at a rate of about six wiles an thing of greater interest than a puff- hour, but mine only went about four, adder, and the lions abstained from and as they went, when Mr. Coope, even a grunt.
who understood their language, was not At Chimoio's we bade a final fare- near enough to hear them, they sang well to our conductor and boys and to songs in which the words “ Makadze the trekking life we had so much en-'Máma” (Lady Mother, - mother being
a term of respect among the natives) We reached ninety mile peg just in continually recurred. Whether they time to catch the train, and were alsang in my praise or not I cannot tell, lowed to go down to seventy-five mile but as when previously bargaining with peg in one of the empty trucks. For Mr. Coope about their pay, they had some way we kept along the watershed, admitted that though tall I was not fat, which in some parts is so narrow that I hope it was the former.
you almost see over both sides at once. At dusk we stopped after going about once or twice we went through a patch ten miles, and then found that two of of almost tropical forest. The trees our carriers were missing, and those were very large — they would look two carried most of our food and uten- large in England - with tall, bare sils. We had some tea, a little very stems. Some were buttressed at the peppery desiccated soup, some very dry bottom as though boards had been put salt ham, and some biscuits, not an against them ; others looked like living inviting meal for tired and thirsty men. fagots, the sticks of which had partly With the aid of a patrol-tin, a basin, a grown together and sprouted at the frying-pan, and the lid of a biscuit-tin, top. which had to do treble duty as cups, A few miles from “seventy-five." plates, pots, and pans, we managed the line wiods along a series of narrow
The tent was put up for cuttings and embankments, from the me, and the men slept outside wrapped latter of which you get very fine exin waterproof sheets. It was lucky lended views, the crimson of the mathey had them, for the dew was so goussy-trees and the rich green of the heavy that the tent was dripping inside large Kaffir plums, which remind me when I got up next morning. We of evergreen oaks, giving a splendid were off again by sunrise, only stopping effect of color, backed by blue hills in for an hour or so before midday to rest the distance. The line is single, the and eat, and hurrying on in hopes of gauge only two feet, and the earthen catching a construction” train which embankments are so extremely high was to bring up rails to "ninety mile and steep that they look as though peg.” Mr. Coope had surveyed a good they must be washed out with the first deal of this country some time before, heavy rain. As we passed through and told me that near here he had been one of the cuttings a snake, which had waked one night by myriads of bites, evidently fallen in over the top, reared and found he was assailed by a column itself up and struck at our truck with of ants marching across country and all its force, falling back impotently, as destroying everything in their course. with the indifference of fate the train Every chicken he had was bitten to pursued the even tenor of its way. death by them, for being shut up they At "seventy-five" we were taken could not escape. I don't think I have straight to Herkner's, the only “ house ever mentioned the “stink ants” to of accommodation" in the place which you. They are the only kind that ever has no bar ; and I must say that the troubled us. It is said that if you an- following night I was thankful there noy them in any way, as, for instance, was such an abode to go to, for anyby treading on them or unwittingly thing like the noise and drunkenness at burning them in your campfire, they the bars I never heard. We had some emit a most horrible odor. Certainly nice little huts to sleep in with thatched every now and then we did experience roofs and bamboo walls. On arriving such odors, but I never investigated to we asked for dinner, and were told that see whether they were made by the they would neither provide us with ants or not. No other insects ever food nor cook for us, though they troubled us at all, during the whole would allow us a Barmecide's feast in of our wagon journey, though the the shape of empty cups and plates. horses and cattle were covered with Luckily our missing boys having ticks,
turned up, we had some provisions
with us, and though I cannot say that and-span uniformed guard of England, either their quality or variety were very spent his time in trying to shoot every enticing, we were far beyond minding hawk or crow we passed. It amused trifles of that sort. On the second day him, and did not hurt the birds. When we attempted to improve our fare by not shooting he kept striking matches buying some tinned cabbage at the and throwing them into the long grass store, but when opened the odor was on either side, and whenever it caught such that with one accord we fled fire he pointed out the fact to us with hastily from the hut.
conscious pride. He must have used Our carriers were paid the day after up several boxes in this way. I caught we arrived, and immediately proceeded a number of tsetse flies in the train, to a neighboring store, where they which were buzzing about just as a spent a large proportion of the 4s. 6d. horsefly would do at home, but unthey had earned in purchasing the luckily some ants afterwards got into storekeeper's whole stock of parasols — the box in which I kept them and ate marvellous objects, with each section them all up. A little way from Fontesof a different and flaring color. The villa two of the wheels of our railway boys paraded the village with these carriage went off the line. This is over their heads, grinning from ear to apparently so common an occurrence ear with child-like delight. It was the that some of the passengers did not on more comic as they don't care a bit how this occasion even take the trouble to hot the sun is on their heads, and any- get out. In about ten minutes the thing they put on them is simply with wheels were put back on the line, and a view to ornameut, as, for instance, we reached Fontesvilla safely, having the brim of a straw hat without its been nine lours going seventy-five
But some tribes always wear miles. hats, some of which are like our famil- Fontesvilla is on the banks of the iar “ chimney-pots,” but made of grass, Pungwe, which is here a tidal river. and looking quite as absurd. The men- The S.S. Kimberley came up soon tion of parasols reminds me of what I after our arrival, and we were hurried do not think I told you before — how I off into it, as the captain wished to broke the stick of my umbrella at Pa- start before the tide turned. Neverlapsye, and had it mended by a Bechu- theless, soon after starting, we stuck ana native. It came back spliced with on a sandbank, and remained there till ornamental brass wire-work in beau- the tide rose again next morning. The tiful patterns. The only drawback was Pungwe is very wide here, and the that it would neither open nor shut. water is so muddy as to curdle in
Next morning we left by train for almost solid masses as the steamer cuts Fontesvilla, the line being laid in zig- through it. The land on either side is zags where the ground sloped steeply, absolutely flat, and very little above and the last few miles crossing an abso- the level of the water. It is clothed lutely fat plain just above the level of with innumerable small trees about the the sea, and one vast marsh in the size of large hop-poles, which are said rainy season. Here we ought to have to be mangroves. These are continuseen herds of zebras, buffaloes, and all ally undermined by the current, and sorts of antelopes, as they frequently the banks seem to consist of nothing come pretty close to the train ; but our but the overhanging roots of trees usual luck attended us, and though I about to fall, while the edge of the was told that the distant black dots water is lined with those that have were some of these animals, they might already fallen. White egrets stand in just as well have been the common cow the mud among them, and in one place for anything I could see.
we saw a troop of monkeys clambering The guard of our train, whose red along. We reached Beira on Septemand yellow “ blazer" and shabby grey ber 13th, being most kindly received by wideawake hardly recalled the spick-' the British consul, and are now wait