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The Story of H. M. Stanley by  Vautier Golding


 

 

LIVINGSTONE FOUND AT UJIJI

[25] STANLEY'S plans for the march to Ujiji were upset by an attack of fever so bad that for ten days he lost count of everything. On his recovery he found that the Arabs were going to punish a native chief, Mirambo, who had been robbing caravans and burning villages on the road to Ujiji. Stanley made up his mind to go with them; and accordingly he left Kwihara with his caravan on July 29. At first the Arabs were successful; but soon afterwards Mirambo ambushed them in some thick giant grass, and defeated them with terrible slaughter. That night there was a scare in the camp that Mirambo was coming, and the whole Arab force fled in a panic. [26] Stanley was awakened from sleep to find that all his men had joined the general rout except Selim, an Arab boy from Jerusalem. Stanley asked him why he had not also deserted his master. "Oh, sir," replied the lad, "I was afraid you would whip me."

Stanley at once gave chase, and tried to rally the Arab chiefs and make them stand their ground. Besides being a brave and fearless man, he was also a clever soldier, and he saw at a glance what ought to be done; but all was in vain, and he had to retreat with the rest to Unyanyembe. He collected his caravan, and fortified himself inside the mud walls of his house at Kwihara for more than a month. At last Stanley would wait no longer; so, leaving most of his stores at Kwihara, he started on September 20 with a light-laden caravan to move round the south of Mirambo's country and make a dash for Ujiji. Fever laid him on his back at the first camp; and twenty of his men, thinking him safely out of the way for a while, went back to Unyanyembe. In the morning Stanley was better, and he [27] sent an escort to bring them back, but only half of them could be found. Stanley now got a long slave chain with nine collars from an Arab chief, and with this he threatened his men if any should desert again.

They started once more, but soon Shaw gave in, and was sent back with four men to Unyanyembe. Passing on in a country that looked like a rolling sea of green, yellow, and brown leafage, they came through Uganda and Manyara to the beautiful banks of the Igombe. The men were tired with their long marches, and Stanley halted for two days to rest and shoot game for food. After several hours of hunting, Stanley was very hot and dusty, and the cool waters of the Igombe tempted him to have a swim. He stripped himself, and was just about to dive into the deep water, when he saw the wicked eye and cruel jaw of a crocodile making ready for him in the bed of the river. Stanley was luckily just able to recover his balance, spring back, and escape.

[28] When it was time to break up the camp, the men, who had been feasting on game like gluttons, were too lazy to move. They sent Bombay to ask Stanley for another day's halt; but the request was refused, as the next day they would have been lazier still. Bombay, who had been twice thrashed for playing truant at Unyanyembe, now turned sullen, and began to set the men against their master. Soon after starting, the men threw down their loads, and two of them came towards Stanley, with savage looks and with their rifles at the ready. It was a fateful moment for Stanley, but he was brave enough for anything. Levelling his rifle at the first mutineer, he ordered him to drop his weapon on the ground, and the man at once obeyed. The second, Asmani the Guide, was not so easily cowed, and he still came on with a look of murder in his eyes. For a moment Stanley thought he would have to take Asmani's life or lose his own, and possibly Livingstone's too. At this point Mabruki, who had been a [29] faithful servant to Speke, struck down Asmani's rifle, and with a few words brought him to his senses. Then he called on the men to take up their loads and obey their master; for, though he might be a harsh one, did they not see how brave he was, and had he not filled them with meat? They promised to obey; and Stanley very wisely pardoned them all. His coolness and courage had won them over, and he had no more trouble with them.

After leaving the Igombe they made for the Malagazari River. The way led over valleys and ravines, with marsh in their hollows to such a depth that they were sometimes up to their shoulders in the muddy ooze. At one place the guide pointed out a quagmire, where a caravan of thirty-five men had disappeared for ever through the thin and shaking crust of grass and roots into the slush below.

They crossed the Malagazari in canoes, and, as usual, made the donkeys swim with a rope round their necks. While one of them was in the middle of the [30] stream, the jaws of a large crocodile came suddenly above water and closed on the poor creature's throat. The men hauled hard on the rope, but to no purpose; the rope came away, but they saw the donkey no more.


[Illustration]

THE JAWS OF A LARGE CROCODILE CLOSED ON THE POOR CREATURE'S THROAT.

At Uvinza they met a caravan which gave them the good news that Livingstone was not only alive, but had returned to Ujiji. These tidings were doubly joyous; for, if they were true, Livingstone would soon be relieved, and the difficult search through Central Africa would be avoided. Stanley now pressed forward with all speed; and in the beginning of November, eight months after leaving Bagamoyo, his caravan marched into Ujiji. The townsfolk crowded round them to hear their news, and to ask after friends at the war in Unyanyembe. Through the din of shouts and chatter in Arabic and native language, Stanley was startled to hear, "Good morning, sir," twice spoken in English. The words came from Susi and Chuma, two of Dr. Livingstone's most faithful men. They [31] quickly led him to their master's hut, and soon Stanley was shaking hands with the greatest and noblest of all African explorers. Little did Stanley think at the time that he himself was one day to finish the work of discovery this noble pioneer had begun.

Livingstone was in serious trouble. He had just tramped hundreds of miles to Ujiji, in hunger and in pain every step of the way, only to find his stores there plundered and sold. Fever, hardship, and toil had worn him to what he called "a mere tackle of bones," and his food was all but done. Stanley had arrived only just in time, and he never forget the joy of being able to restore Livingstone to health and comfort with the supplies he had brought through such dangers and difficulties. Stanley also brought from Unyanyembe a packet of letters, which, through the bad choice of bearers by the British Consul at Zanzibar, had already been more than a year on the road from the coast. The sight once more of his children's writing lit up the old [32] man's haggard face with joy. "Ah!" he said, "I have waited years for letters, and have been taught patience."

Stanley was the first white man that Livingstone had seen for five years, so there was plenty of news to pass between them. After resting for some days they took a cruise in a canoe round the north end of Lake Tanganyika; for they wanted to see if there was a river running out of the lake towards the Nile. Every night they camped on shore, and they found this such an easy way of travelling that Livingstone called it their "picnic." They found that a river, the Rusizi, flowed into Tanganyika from a small lake, called Kivu, which lay in the hills to the northward. There was no time to go farther, for Stanley had to return; so they came down the west shore to Cape Luvamba, and then crossed to Ujiji.

All this time Stanley had been learning many things from Livingstone's thirty years' experience of Africa; and once he had the chance of seeing the great man's [33] wonderful power with the natives. At one of their camps on the shore of the lake the natives, who at first were friendly, afterwards tried to force on a quarrel. Their chief, who was a hopeless old scoundrel, wilfully cut his own leg with a spear and then swore that the strangers had done it. Even the rascal's own wife thought this trick so mean that she called him all the names she could think of, and advised him to make peace. A fight, however, seemed almost certain; but in the end Livingstone, with his gentle patience and fearless good humour, talked them over to friendship.

On their return to Ujiji, Stanley tried in vain to persuade his new friend to return to England. Livingstone had promised his friends in the Royal Geographical Society to try to find the sources of the Nile, and he was determined to keep his word. He might have already finished this work, if only honest bearers had been sent with his stores from Zanzibar instead of worthless slaves. However, he settled to go with [34] Stanley as far as Unyanyembe, and wait there till his friend could send him a new set of bearers from Zanzibar.

Accordingly, on December 27, 1871, they left Ujiji; and, in order to avoid Mirambo's war, they went down the lake in canoes to Urimba, and then turned eastwards up the valley of the river Loageri. It was an unknown land even to their guide, who proved so useless that Stanley headed the caravan and steered by compass over hill and plain till they struck their former road. It was a rough journey and they suffered much from hunger, though they ate a buffalo, two zebras, and a giraffe by the way. Once Stanley had to take to his heels to escape from an elephant, and another time the whole caravan was stampeded for half a mile by a swarm of wild bees. Near the Igombe River they met a caravan which told them that Shaw had died of fever at Unyanyembe, and that Mirambo was besieged in his stockade by the Arabs.

At last, after fifty-three days, they reached [35] Stanley's old quarters at Kwihara in Unyanyembe; and Livingstone once more found that his expected stores had been plundered by faithless bearers. Stanley, however, now gave him enough supplies to make forty loads, and he also promised to send up some good men to bear them. Then, after a short rest, Stanley started for the sea coast on March 14.

Their parting was a sad one, for they had grown to be great friends. Livingstone went a short distance with the caravan; but there was no use in delay, and they said good-bye. Stanley went on to the open world and his friends; but the brave old pioneer and saint turned back to his lonely death in the forest, having looked on the last white face he was ever to see.

Four months in the presence of this great man made quite a change in Stanley, and afterwards altered his life. In Livingstone he saw a man who was not only clever, fearless and strong, but also gentle, patient and just. He saw, too, how un- [36] selfishly the old explorer had gone through thirty years of toil and suffering, not for money or fame, but for love of doing good to men. Stanley could not help thinking of his new friend's heroic life; and the end of this was that, in a few years, he himself gave up his life to the noble and useful work of pioneering Africa for the good of mankind.

The journey to the sea was a hard one. At Mpwapwa, where Farquhar was found to have died, they came into the thick of the rainy season, which was worse than it had been for years. At the fords of the mountain streams they had to stretch a rope from bank to bank, and to this they clung while they stemmed the torrent with their packs on their heads. At Simbamwenni a hundred villages had been swept away in a single night; and for miles and miles the country was under swamp and flood. In the valley of the Makata, where they waded before, they now had to swim with their loads lashed to rafts. At one crossing a box holding all Livingstone's [37] letters, diaries, and records for the last five years, was nearly swept down the river: that was a moment of suspense that Stanley never forgot. The jungle-tunnel, too, was knee-deep in mire, and all the snakes and scorpions in the land seemed to have collected within it. Now and then they saw a great boa hanging from a tree in wait for prey.

At last, on May 6, 1872, after thirteen months' travel, Stanley reached Zanzibar, and soon after returned to England. A few geographers and journalists in England and America said jealous and bitter things of Stanley; and the story was spread that he had never seen Livingstone at all. This unjust and unworthy treatment cut Stanley to the heart. But when Queen Victoria thanked him for his self-sacrifice and bravery, and when the Royal Geographical Society gave him their medal, he felt more able to forgive and forget what never should have been said.


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