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   Chapter 20 TREACHERY.

Ismailia By Sir Samuel White Baker Characters: 48748

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


For some days past, Kabba Rega had frequently sent his interpreters with messages, that he wished to sell the ivory which he had collected for the government. We had noticed on several occasions many people laden with large elephants' tusks, who invariably marched towards the same direction. The dragoman, Kadji-Barri, daily brought ivory for sale for the account of his master; and exchanged tusks for all kinds of trifles, such as porcelain cups and saucers, small musical boxes, &c., &c.

On 6th June, twenty-one tusks were purchased from the messengers of Kabba Rega, and I thought that the young king was getting tired of his sulky fit, and that we should be once more friends.

The supply of food was always a trouble. Every day was passed in repeated applications to the authorities for supplies, which were at length grudgingly bestowed.

On 7th June, there was nothing for the troops to eat. Although on 31st

May we had received twenty loads of corn, these were simply the long

narrow packages which are so neatly made of the plantain bark throughout

Unyoro, but which contain very little.

Several times during the day Lieutenant-Colonel Abd-el-Kader, together with Monsoor, had been sent to the divan of Kabba Rega, to impress upon his chiefs the necessity of a supply of food. They explained my great annoyance, as this was precisely the result that I had foretold when Kabba Rega had neglected to clear the ground for cultivation.

At about 3 P.M., the tall chief Matonse appeared, together with Umbogo, and several natives, who carried five large jars of plantain cider. These were sent to me from Kabba Rega, with a polite but lying message, that "he much regretted the scarcity of corn; there was positively none in Masindi, but a large quantity would arrive to-morrow from Agguse." In the mean time he begged I would accept for the troops a present of five jars of cider.

I declined to accept the present, as I did not require drink, but solid food for the troops. The jars were therefore returned.

About sunset Matonse again appeared, accompanied by Umbogo and natives with SEVEN jars of cider, and two large packages of flour, which he assured me had been borrowed from Rahonka. He was exceedingly polite, and smiled and bowed, beseeching me to accept the cider, as plenty of corn would be sent on the following day, when better arrangements would be made for future supplies.

I could no longer refuse the cider, therefore I sent for Abd-el-Kader, and gave him five jars for the officers and troops.

It was at this time about seven o'clock, and we sat down to dinner in the divan, as it was too chilly to dine outside.

We had just finished dinner, when Abd-el-Kader suddenly entered the divan in a state of troubled excitement, to inform me that "many of the troops appeared to be dying, and they had evidently been POISONED by the plantain cider!"

I inquired "how many men had drunk from the jars?" He could not tell, but he feared that at least half the company had taken some portion, more or less. He had himself drunk a tumblerful, and he already felt uncomfortable, with a tightness of the throat, and a burning pain in his inside.

I at once flew to my medicinal arms. Independently of the large medicine-chest, I had a small box, about nine inches by five, which contained all that could be desired for any emergency. This little chest had been my companion for twenty-five years.

I begged my wife to get as much mustard and strong salt and water ready as she could mix in a hurry, and I started off with Abd-el-Kader and Lieutenant Baker. I immediately sent Monsoor to find Umbogo.

On arrival at the camp, which was about 120 yards distant, my first order was to double all the sentries.

I found the men in a terrible state. Several lay insensible, while about thirty were suffering from violent constriction of the throat, which almost prevented them from breathing. This was accompanied by spasms and burning pain in the stomach, with delirium, a partial palsy of the lower extremities, and in the worst cases, total loss of consciousness.

I opened the jaws of the insensible, and poured down a dessert-spoonful of water, containing three grains of emetic tartar, and, in about ten minutes, I dosed everybody who had partaken of the poisoned cider with the same emetic, while I insisted upon a flood of mustard and salt and water being swallowed. Fortunately we had everything at hand. The soldiers who were sound were all nursing the sick, and they poured down gallons of brine, until the patients began to feel the symptoms of a rough passage across the British Channel.

My servants always kept the lanterns trimmed-this was a positive order. The lights were now moving to and fro, and having seen all the poisoned under the full effect of a large dose of tartarised antimony, with an accompaniment of strong brine and mustard, I returned to the divan, where I found Umbogo had just arrived with Monsoor, who had met with him at his own hut.

I sat quietly at the table as though nothing had occurred.

"Are you fond of merissa, Umbogo?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Would you like to drink some that you brought from Kabba Rega, this evening?"

"Yes, if you have any to spare," replied Umbogo.

I ordered Monsoor to fill a gourd-shell that would contain about a quart. This was handed to him, together with a reed.

Umbogo began to suck it vigorously through the tube. My wife thought he was shamming.

"Drink it off, Umbogo!" I exclaimed.

He drank with enjoyment-there was no mistake.

"Stop him!-that's enough, Umbogo! Don't drink it all." The man was evidently not guilty, although he had been employed to bring the poisoned stuff.

Umbogo had only to leave the divan and turn the corner, before he fell to the ground, with the same symptoms that had been exhibited among the men. He had drunk more than the others. His eyes were blood-stained, and nearly started from his head, as he strove wildly upon the ground and wrestled with those who endeavoured to assist him, in a state of total unconsciousness.

I was by his side immediately, and administered the same remedies.

I now ordered all the sick men to be either carried or led within the fort, from which they could not escape. Those who were slightly better, now endeavoured to wander about in delirium, and they would have been lost in the high grass unless I had thus secured them.

All that was possible had been done; the sick, were secured, and the night guards for relief were at their posts with double sentries awake and on duty; thus no man would sleep within the station.

I sent Monsoor to call the chief, Matonse, whose house was within 200 yards of the government divan.

Monsoor shortly returned without Matonse. He had brought an interpreter from this chief, in lieu of Umbogo, who was incapacitated; and Matonse had sent a message "that he could not come to me in the dark, but he would call on the following day."

In the mean time an ominous stillness reigned throughout the usually boisterous population of Masindi. Not a sound was to be heard, although the nightly custom of the people was singing, howling, and blowing horns.

My arms and ammunition were always in readiness, but I filled up my pouches to the maximum of fifty cartridges, and at midnight I went to bed.

I woke frequently to listen, as I was anxious, and therefore slept lightly. The faithful Monsoor was under arms, and was pacing throughout the whole night before my door; he never slept.

At about 2 A.M. there was a sound throughout the town of fowls cackling, as though they were being disturbed and caught while at roost.

At about 3 A.M. the lowing of cattle was heard, as though Kabba Rega's cows were being driven off.

A little after 5 A.M. I got up, and went out at daybreak to visit the sick within the fort. I found Monsoor waiting by my door.

The emetics had counteracted the poison, and my patients, although weakly, were quite out of danger.

Having examined them, I ordered the men to their quarters, and they all left the fort, with the exception of the night guard.

The two interpreters, Umbogo and Aboo Kooka, were secured by a thin cord fastened round their necks.

Having given all the necessary instructions, I ordered Monsoor to go to the chief Matonse, with a message that I wished to see him, as the men had been ill after drinking the cider, and although now recovered, it would be satisfactory if he would examine the remaining jars.

Monsoor took his rifle, and accompanied by a corporal, Ferritch Baggara, one of the best soldiers of the "Forty Thieves," started on his mission. Matonse's house, as already described, was within 200 yards of the government divan.

It was now about 5.45 A.M. I noticed that Kabba Rega's divan, within fifty yards of the government house, seemed full of people, some of whom were washing their faces, as though they had just risen from sleep.

My wife had now joined me, and, according to my usual habit, I strolled up and down the broad gravelled approach and smoked a short pipe. We were conversing together about the present state of affairs, and were anxiously expecting the return of Monsoor with Matonse, who would perhaps throw some light on the matter.

I was followed closely by a bugler and a choush (sergeant). The main entrance of the approach from the town was bordered upon either side by a dense plantation of castor-oil trees, which continued in a thick fringe along the edge of the garden, so as to screen the huts from our view, although they were within twenty paces of the entrance of the drive.

The castor-oil bushes were within five yards of the entrance, and gradually increased the distance, as they turned obliquely towards the private divan of Kabba Rega.

We little suspected that sharpshooters were already concealed within this dense covert.

My wife and I had reached the entrance of the approach. Nothing seemed to denote hostility on the part of the natives, no person being visible, except those guards who occupied the king's divan.

Suddenly we were startled by the savage yells of some thousand voices, which burst unexpectedly upon us!

This horrible sound came from the direction of Matonse's house, and was within 120 yards from the spot on which we stood; but the town was not visible, owing to the thick covert of oil bushes.

The savage yells were almost immediately followed by two rifle shots in the same direction.

"Sound the taboor!" Fortunately I gave this order to the bugler by my side without one moment's delay.

I had just time to tell my wife to run into the divan and get my rifle and belt, when the sharpshooters opened fire at me from the bushes, within a few yards.

I had white cotton clothes, thus I was a very clear object. As I walked towards the divan to meet my rifle, the serjeant who followed close behind me fell shot through the heart. Poor fellow, the shot was aimed at me!

The troops had fallen into position with extraordinary rapidity, and several ascended the roof of the fort, so as to see clearly over the high grass. A soldier immediately fell, to die in a few minutes, shot through the shoulder-blade. Another man of the "Forty Thieves" was shot through the leg above the knee. The bullets were flying through the government divan, and along the approach.

A tumultuous roar of savage voices had burst from all sides, and the whole place was alive a few instants after the first two shots had been heard. Thousands of armed natives now rushed from all directions upon the station.

A thrill went through me when I thought of my good and devoted Monsoor!

My wife had quickly given me my belt and breechloading double rifle.

(This beautiful weapon, I have already mentioned, was made by Mr.

Holland, of Bond Street, London.) Fortunately I had filled up the

pouches on the previous evening with fifty rounds of cartridge.

The troops were now in open order, completely around the station, and were pouring a heavy fire into the masses of the enemy within the high grass, which bad been left purposely uncleared by Kabba Rega, in order to favour a treacherous attack.

The natives kept up a steady fire upon the front from behind the castor-oil bushes and the densely thronged houses.

With sixteen men of the "Forty Thieves," together with Colonel Abd-el-Kader and Lieutenant Baker, R.N., I directed a heavy fire into the covert, and soon made it too hot for the sharpshooters. I had ordered the blue lights at the commencement of the attack. My black boys, Saat and Bellaal, together with some soldiers, now arrived with a good supply.

Covering their advance with a heavy fire from the sniders, the boys and men rushed forward, and immediately ignited Kabba Rega's large divan.

These active and plucky lads now ran nimbly from hut to hut, and one slight touch of the strong fire of the blue lights was sufficient to insure the ignition of the straw dwellings.

I now sent a party of fifteen sniders, under Lieutenant Ferritch Agha, one of my most courageous officers, with a supply of blue lights, to set fire, to the town on our left flank, and to push on to the spot where the missing Monsoor and Ferritch had fired their rifles.

Every arrangement having been rapidly carried out, the boys and a few men continued to fire the houses on our right flank; and giving the order to advance, our party of sixteen rushed forward into the town.

The right and left flanks were now blazing, and the flames were roaring before the wind. I heard the rattling fire of the sniders under Ferritch Agha on our left, and knowing that both flanks were now thoroughly secured by the conflagration, we dashed straight for Kabba Rega's principal residences and court, driving the enemy before us. Colonel Abd-el-Kader was an excellent officer in action. We quickly surrounded Kabba Rega's premises, and set fire to the enormous straw buildings on all sides.

If he had been at home he would have had a warm reception, but the young coward had fled with all his women before the action had commenced, together with the magic bamba or throne, and the sacred drum.

In a few minutes the conflagration was terrific, as the great court of Kabba Rega blazed in flames seventy or eighty feet high, which the wind drove in vivid forks into the thatch of the adjacent houses.

We now followed the enemy throughout the town, and the sniders told with sensible effect wherever they made a stand. The blue lights continued the work; the roar of flames and the dense volumes of smoke, mingled with the continued rattle of musketry, and the savage yells of the natives, swept forward with the breeze, and the capital of Unyoro was a fair sample of the infernal regions.

The natives were driven out of the town, but the high grass was swarming with many thousands, who, in the neighbourhood of the station, still advanced to attack the soldiers.

I now ordered "The Forty" to clear the grass, and a steady fire of snider rifles soon purged the covert upon which the enemy had relied.

In about an hour and a quarter the battle of Masindi was won. Not a house remained of the lately extensive town. A vast open space of smoke and black ashes, with flames flickering in some places where the buildings had been consumed, and at others forked sheets of fire where the fuel was still undestroyed, were the only remains of the capital of Unyoro.

The enemy had fled. Their drums and horns, lately so noisy, were now silent.

I ordered the bugle to sound "cease firing." We marched through the scorching streets to our station, where I found my wife in deep distress.

The bugle sounded the assembly, and the men mustered, and fell in for the roll-call. Four men were missing.

Lying on the turf, close to the fort wall, were four bodies arranged in a row and covered with cloths.

The soldiers gathered round them as I approached. The cloths were raised.

My eyes rested on the pale features of my ever faithful and devoted officer, Monsoor! There was a sad expression of pain on his face. I could not help feeling his pulse; but there was no hope; this was still. I laid his arm gently by his side, and pressed his hand for the last time, for I loved Monsoor as a true friend.

His body was pierced with thirty-two lance wounds; thus he had fought gallantly to the last, and he had died like a good soldier; but he was treacherously murdered instead of dying on a fair battle-field.

Poor Ferritch Baggara was lying next to him, with two lance wounds through the chest.

The other bodies were those of the choush that had fallen by my side, and the soldier who had been shot on the parapet.

We were all deeply distressed at the death of poor Monsoor. There never was a more thoroughly unselfish and excellent man. He was always kind to the boys, and would share even a scanty meal in hard times with either friend or stranger. He was the lamb in peace, and the lion in moments of danger. I owed him a debt of gratitude, for although I was the general, and he had been only a corporal when he first joined the expedition, he had watched over my safety like a brother. I should "never see his like again."

Monsoor was the only Christian, excepting the European party.

The graves were made. I gave out new cloth from the stores in which to wrap the bodies of four of my best men, and they were buried near the fort.

My heart was very heavy. God knows I had worked with the best intentions for the benefit of the country, and this was the lamentable result. My best men were treacherously murdered. We had narrowly escaped a general massacre. We had won the battle, and Masindi was swept from the earth. What next?

I find these words, which I extract from my journal, as they were written at that moment:-

"Thus ended the battle of Masindi, caused by the horrible treachery of the natives. Had I not been quick in sounding the bugle and immediately assuming a vigorous offensive, we should have been overwhelmed by numbers.

"Since we have been in this country, my men have been models of virtue; nothing has been stolen, except a few potatoes on one occasion, when the thief was publicly punished, and the potatoes restored to the owner, neither have the natives been interfered with in any manner. I have driven the slave-hunters from their country, and my troops from Fatiko are ordered to restore to Unyoro all the slaves that have been stolen by the traders. The disgusting ingratitude and treachery of the negro surpasses imagination.

"What is to become of these countries? all my good-will brings forth evil deeds."

In the battle of Masindi nothing could have exceeded the cool, soldier-like bearing of both officers and men. Every man had done his duty. In the first onset, when about seven or eight thousand natives had suddenly attacked the station, the men had not only fallen into position for the defence of the camp with extraordinary alacrity, but they had behaved with extreme steadiness and coolness, and not a man had moved from his post without orders.

The attacking parties, formed exclusively of the "Forty Thieves," had exhibited an activity and elan for which this gallant little corps was eminently distinguished; and had they been European troops, their conduct upon this occasion, against such overwhelming odds, would have covered them with glory.

We had no newspaper correspondents, therefore I must give the due praise to my officers and men.

During the day I established patrols throughout the now cleared space lately occupied by the town.

In the afternoon Umbogo was able to call some natives who were within earshot. These men explained that the chief, Matonse, was the cause of the outbreak, and that it was his people who, by his orders, had killed Monsoor and Ferritch.

Umbogo had been set at liberty during the fight, but I now secured him by the neck to a leathern thong in the hand of a sentry; for, although a good man, I could not afford to lose him, and the devil might have tempted him to run away.

In the afternoon some natives cried out that Kittakara was coming, and Lieutenant-Colonel Abd-el-Kader, with a few men, immediately went out to meet him.

Kittakara would not approach within less than about a hundred yards, but he assured Abd-el-Kader that the outbreak was not the fault of Kabba Rega, but that the responsibility lay with Matonse, who had escaped, and that he should be captured and delivered up to me.

He continued to assure Abd-el-Kader that Kabba Rega had already ordered provisions and a large number of elephants' tusks to be collected for us, and that, although for the present he was hiding through fear in the high grass, he would quickly rebuild his divan close to my own, so as to live in friendship.

It was impossible to credit one syllable in Unyoro. On the other hand, should I be unable to bring the enemy to terms, I should be chained to the spot, as it would be impossible to transport my baggage.

It was an awkward position. The treachery had been frightful, and I could only attribute it to Kabba Rega's orders, in spite of the protestations of Kittakara. If I should be right in my suspicions, what would become of Major Abdullah and his detachment?

Nothing would be easier for the 300 natives who had accompanied my people with the post, than to behave well on the route to Fatiko, in order to establish confidence. They could then carry all the effects and ammunition, in company with Abdullah and his troops, from Fatiko to Unyoro, and in the prairie wilderness, they might murder every man at night when asleep, and possess themselves of the arms, ammunition, and effects, with which they would rejoin Kabba Rega.

This was a frightful idea; and there could be no doubt that such treachery had been planned, if Kabba Rega were guilty of the attempt to poison the troops and attack us by surprise. It was hard to disbelieve his guilt.

There were no means possible of communication with Abdullah. In case of necessity, there was only one move; this was to march to the Victoria Nile, and form an alliance with Rionga, the old enemy of Kamrasi's family, whom I had always refused to attack. I was sure that he must have heard of my refusal to ally myself with Kabba Rega against him: thus he would be favourable to the government.

I resolved that, if hostilities should continue, I would proclaim Rionga representative of the government, as vassal-chief of Unyoro, in the room of Kabba Rega, deposed.

Rionga would send a letter to warn Major Abdullah at Fatiko; but how was I to convey my baggage and ammunition from Masindi to Foweera, without a single carrier, or even a guide?

It was the height of the rainy season, and the grass was about nine or ten feet high, throughout a country of dense and tangled forest.

I had no interpreter of my own; Umbogo was Kabba Rega's slave, and although I fancied that he was fond of us, I had no faith in any one of these detestable people. This want of confidence was keenly felt at a time when I required an interpreter in whom I could absolutely trust. I was obliged to confide my plan to Umbogo, as I wished him to find some man among the natives who would take a message to Rionga.

I knew that many people hated Kabba Rega. Umbogo had frequently assured me that Mashudi, which was only two days distant from Masindi, to the south-east, had always been Rionga's stronghold; and that the natives of that district would rise in favour of their chief, should any reverse befall Kabba Rega.

The news of the defeat of his army, and the complete destruction of his capital, would run through the country like wild-fire. It was well known that Rionga had spies, who were disguised as friends, even at the court of Kabba Rega; these agents sent him information of all that occurred.

If Umbogo could communicate with one of these people, I might send off to Rionga, and beg him to send 300 men to Fatiko, with a letter from myself to Major Abdullah. Rionga's people would transport the effects instead of Rabba Rega's carriers, who would be seized and held as hostages. This would save Abdullah from the intended treachery, if it were done at once; but there was not a moment to lose.

Already fi

fteen days had elapsed since my party with the post had started, and by this time they should be near Fatiko, (at that time they had already been treacherously attacked.) unless they had been delayed upon the road, as was usual in Unyoro.

If I could depend upon Rionga, he would at once save Abdullah's party, and he would send a large force to communicate with me at Masindi.

Had I provisions, I could have held my now fortified position against a whole world of niggers; but with only a hundred men, I should be unable to forage in this country of high grass, and at the same time defend the station.

All depended upon the possibility of my communication with Rionga.

Umbogo declared that if I would only march to Mashudi, the natives would rise in his favour and join me.

I told him that if this were true, he could surely find some person who would run to Mashudi, and raise the malcontents, who would at once carry my message to Rionga.

Umbogo promised to do his best: at the same time he expressed an opinion that Rionga would not wait long in inaction, but that he would invade Kabba Rega directly that he should hear of the war. From my experience of natives, I did not share his opinion.

As Kittakara had apologized for the attack to Colonel Abd-el-Kader, and a truce had been arranged, a great number of natives spread themselves over the ruins of the town, to search for the iron molotes, which are generally concealed in the earth, beneath the floor of the huts. The natives were all prodding the smoking ground with the iron-tipped butt-ends of their lances to discover the treasures.

Umbogo now went among them with his guard, and conversed upon the cause of the late attack.

In the evening, Umbogo declared that he was not quite certain of the truth; he evidently suspected the sincerity of Kabba Rega. It was quite impossible to procure any messenger at present that could be trusted with a message to Rionga.

The memorable 8th of June happened to be my birthday. It had been the day of death to my lamented follower, Monsoor; but we had well avenged him.

Umbogo reported that the natives had given him the names of nine matongales (chiefs) killed in the action, together with a large number of common people. A great many were still missing: these were probably lying in the high grass which had been raked by the hot fire of the sniders. Vultures were collected in immense numbers over many spots in this dense covert, which denoted the places where the "missing" had fallen.

I ordered the troops to abandon their undefended camp, and to sleep within the fort that night.

The morning of the 9th of June arrived-the night had passed in perfect quiet.

My troops set to work with their sharp sword-bayonets, swords, knives, &c., to cut down all the high grass in the neighbourhood, so as to throw open the view, and prevent the enemy from attacking us by another surprise. They worked for many hours, and soon found a number of the missing, who were lying dead. Five bodies were discovered close together, as though they had been killed by a shell. This was in a spot where the "Forty Thieves" had been at work.

One unfortunate creature was found in the high grass with a smashed leg. He had been lying, thirsty and in pain, for about thirty hours in the same spot. My men gave him water and food, and his friends came and took him away. The wounded man seemed very grateful, and he told my soldiers that they were "better men than the Unyoros, who would certainly murder a wounded enemy instead of giving him food and water."

I had told Umbogo to make inquiries as to the safety of little Cherri-Merri. The boy was unharmed, as he had been taken away before the fight.

It was now proved that the cows had also been removed during the night previous to the attack, as I had suspected.

During the day, vast number of people were collected at a large village, situated on a knoll, about 700 yards from our station in a direct line. This place, we were informed, was now occupied by Kabba Rega. The knoll was about eighty feet lower than our high position; therefore, as we had roughly cut down the grass, we looked directly upon the village.

We lost no time in erecting the large astronomical telescope upon its stand. This was placed upon the flat gravel approach in front of the government divan, and through the powerful glass we could distinguish each feature, and the expression of every individual countenance of the crowd within the village.

During the day, messengers arrived from Kabba Rega with an official explanation of the misunderstanding. They declared that it was entirely the fault of Matonse, who would be soon captured; that Kabba Rega desired them to express his deep regret; "Was he not my son? Did he not depend upon the protection of his father?" He only begged for peace. The natives had been killed in great numbers; therefore "if we had lost a few soldiers, the Unyoro had lost many-so the affair was settled."

I told them that nothing could ever compensate for the loss of Monsoor, who had been so treacherously killed; at the same time, if Kabba Rega could prove that the guilt really lay with Matonse, the simple plan would be to deliver him up to me.

I recalled to their recollection how I had passed ten months in Unyoro in the reign of Kamrasi, at which time I had only an escort of thirteen men, and no misunderstanding had ever occurred. I explained that the fault was not on my side. An attempt had been made to poison us collectively; we had then been surprised by a thoroughly organized attack, at a time when the troops were supposed to have been disabled by the poison.

Kabba Rega must clear his character. If he were innocent, I should be only too happy.

The matongale, or sheik, who was the principal messenger, assured me that Kabba Rega was quite in despair, and that he had given orders for provisions and a large quantity of ivory to be collected, which would be sent to us on the day following, in charge of Rahonka and Kittakara.

The want of provisions was sorely felt; fortunately, as our cows had been dying daily, the troops had some sweet potatoes that had been purchased in exchange for flesh. These would last for a few days.

A short time before the attack, I had promised to send Kabba Rega a porcelain cache-pot. I therefore took the opportunity of reminding the sheik of my promise, and I begged him to deliver the piece of china to Kabba Rega as a proof of my peaceful intentions, should he really be innocent of the treachery.

The handsome present was wrapped up in red Turkey cloth, and the messengers departed.

I watched them through the telescope, and, upon their arrival at the village below us, I distinctly witnessed, not only their reception by the expectant crowd, but the cache-pot was unpacked and held at arm's length above the head, to be exhibited to the admiring people.

This looked well. My officers began to believe in peace; and, although

I still had strong suspicions, I hoped that the signal defeat which

Kabba Rega's army had sustained had so far cowed them as to induce a

termination of hostilities, that would enable me to communicate with

Major Abdullah.

The luggage from the government divan had all been carried to the fort. This was now returned to our original quarters; my wife and her black maids were working hard at rearranging the rooms.

The night passed quietly.

On 10th of June a matongale and several natives arrived from Kabba Rega, with a most polite message and friendly assurances, accompanied by a present of two beautiful white cows.

The messengers corroborated the statement of the preceding day, that large quantities of provisions were being prepared for us, together with twenty elephants' tusks, which were to be delivered as a peace-offering by Rahonka and Kittakara in person.

Affairs looked brighter. It was my best policy to secure peace if possible.

I determined to send Kabba Rega, in return for his present of cows, the large Geneva musical box, with drums and bells, which he had always desired.

No one knew how to wind it up; and it was necessary that some person should accompany it with the native messengers.

The clerk of the detachment, Ramadan, who has already been mentioned as a favourite with the natives, and a good linguist, at once volunteered to be the bearer of the present. Since the battle of Masindi, Ramadan had been in frequent personal communication with the natives, and he assured me that there was a general desire for peaceful relations. He was supposed to be a favourite of Kabba Rega's, and it was therefore arranged that he should accompany the musical box, which was a good load for a fast-travelling native.

Hafiz, the farrier, whose occupation was nearly gone by the death of all the horses but two, volunteered to accompany Ramadan. I ordered them to go unarmed, as their peaceful mission would be at once understood; this fact would establish confidence among the natives.

It was about 3 P.M. when they started, and we watched their arrival in the village with the telescope, where they appeared to be well received.

In the evening they both returned with the musical box, accompanied by the sheik who was to be their guide, as Kabba Rega had retired to a town at which he had a residence, about half a day's march distant. It was arranged that they should start on the following morning.

On the 11th June, Ramadan and Hafiz, together with the musical box, started, and we watched their reception at the village with the telescope. I had released Umbogo, whom I had sent to Kabba Rega to explain all that he had seen of the outbreak, as he was one of those that had been poisoned by the plaintain cider. Umbogo promised to return as soon as possible. The dragoman, Abou Kooka, remained with us in the place of Umbogo. This was a sullen-looking brute who had been a slave stolen from the Madi tribe.

I must now take an extract verbatim from my journal, that was written on the day of the incident. Any warm expressions in this extract must be excused as a natural consequence, for which I trust due allowance will be granted:-

"I walked round the burnt town of Masindi, accompanied by Julian

(Lieutenant Baker), Abd-el-Kader, and two guards of 'The Forty.' Neither

Abd-el-Kader nor I carried guns, as I wished to establish confidence

among the natives who were searching among the ashes for molotes.

"I sent for the dragoman, Abou Kooka, and conversed with the natives, assuring them of peace, and that I had no ill-will against Kabba Rega, if Matonse was the cause of the outbreak. At the same time, I told them to bring provisions for sale.

"They seemed very shy, and replied that 'all would be right when the messengers should arrive from Kabba Rega. One by one they went away, until only two were left. Julian gave his gun to one of the guards.

"The two natives were standing on the edge of the high grass, close to the ashes of the town, and they appeared more confident, as they conversed with us at about twelve yards' distance.

"Presently they said they would come close to us, were it not for their fear of the two sentries with their rifles, who were about forty yards in our rear.

"I turned round to order the sentries to retire a little. The instant that my back was turned, one of the treacherous brutes hurled his spear at me, which struck quivering in the earth at my feet! At the same moment they bolted into the high grass, accompanied by our dragoman, Abou Kooka, and disappeared at once like fish in water!

"The treachery of the negro is beyond belief; he has not a moral human instinct, and is below the brute. How is it possible to improve such abject animals? They are not worth the trouble, and they are only fit for slaves, to which position their race appears to have been condemned.

"I believe I have wasted my time and energy, and have uselessly encountered difficulties, and made enemies by my attempt to suppress the slave trade, and thus improve the condition of the natives.

"It is now 4.40 P.M., and I am anxious about Ramadan and Hafiz, who have not returned.

"My men have been on half rations since the 8th inst., and we have supplies only for to-morrow, after which we shall be obliged to forage, unless Kabba Rega sends the promised provisions. "It is impossible to believe one word in this accursed country. At the same time that Kabba Rega declares peace and good-will, he may be planning a surprise. I do not think, however, that his people will be in a hurry to fight after the lesson they received on the 8th inst.

"Nevertheless, fighting is dangerous work in this country of high grass, where troops cannot see to manoeuvre, and where the ground is everywhere favourable for native ambuscades."

When I returned to the divan with the spear that had so narrowly missed me, through the cowardice of the assailant (who should have made sure of me, had he not been nervous), my wife was not cheered by the little incident. She had had the same experience as myself in African natures, and she immediately declared against the pretended sincerity of Kabba Rega.

I had serious misgivings. Nothing can happen in Unyoro without the order of the king. The superstitious veneration for the possessor of the magic throne produces a profound obedience.

On the other hand, this attempt at murder might have been only the revenge of an individual who had perhaps lost his house and property in the conflagration of Masindi.

The evening arrived without tidings of either Ramadan or Umbogo. I was now without an interpreter.

The troops, and their wives and effects, occupied the fort, and the officers' quarters and camp had been abandoned.

It was about 8 P.M., and dinner being over, I was smoking my pipe in the divan, conversing with my wife and Lieutenant Baker upon the situation of affairs, when a sudden bright glare attracted my attention.

An officer immediately reported that the abandoned quarters were in a blaze of fire!

I was of course ready in an instant, and armed, and accompanied by my wife and Mr. Baker, I really enjoyed the beauty of the scene in that moment of anxiety.

Without the slightest noise, or even an audible whisper, the troops were all in position, kneeling on the ground in open order around the fort and the divan, keeping the most vigilant watch for the appearance of an enemy. The flames from the camp rose about seventy feet high. There was not a breath of air; thus the fire danced and leapt up to its extreme height, and illumined the neighbourhood for a great distance.

Not an enemy was to be seen. The soldiers were like statues, and there was no sound except the roaring of flames.

Suddenly loud yells broke out from a distance of about 200 yards from the farthest side of the fort, as though from a considerable body of men. Not a soldier stirred or spoke.

I had cleared the grass around the fort and station, therefore it was impossible to approach us unobserved.

The natives must have crept up stealthily, and fired the abandoned camp in the expectation that the troops would have rushed down to extinguish the flames, and thus the fort and the divan would have been at the mercy of an attack from the dark side.

I immediately sent a strong patrol around the station, but not a soul was visible. The attempt had failed.

Once more the luggage, with beds, boxes, &c., was transported from the divan to the fort.

The night passed quietly. On 12th June, I watched the natives with the telescope, and I observed that many of the crowd were gesticulating in an excited manner.

I was almost convinced that we were again subjected to the foulest treachery, and I was extremely anxious about Ramadan and Hafiz. I could hardly believe it possible that these poor men, unarmed, and carrying a valuable present, would be cruelly murdered.

The day passed in hope and expectation of their return. Late in the evening, the act of incendiarism of the preceding night was renewed, and the deserted house of Colonel Abd-el-Kader was in a bright blaze without a native being visible.

No yells were heard, nor any other sound. The troops turned out with their usual quiet discipline, but not a shot was fired.

The 13th June arrived.-Still there were no tidings of either Umbogo, Ramadan, or Hafiz. I now felt convinced that the young villain, Kabba Rega, had played me false, and that he was only gaining time to collect and organize the whole force of Unyoro to attack us, and to line the path to the river with ambuscades.

It is impossible to this day to say whether Umbogo was true or false. I never saw him again; and the unfortunate Ramadan and Hafiz were wantonly murdered.

At about 10 A.M., 13th June, we were let into the secret of Kabba Rega's villainy. A sudden rush of natives was made upon the cattle, which were grazing within sixty yards of the fort! Poisoned arrows were shot, and a general attack was made upon the station. Guns fired; the bullets whistled over our heads, and I thought I recognized the crack of our lost sniders (those of Monsoor and Ferritch), that were employed against us.

The curtain had now risen. When the actual fighting arrived, there was some little relaxation from the intense anxiety of mind that I had suffered for some days.

I at once ordered the men into line, and the bugles and drums sounded the charge with the bayonet.

The gallant "Forty Thieves" led the way, with drums beating and a hearty cheer, and dashed through the ruins of the town and straight into the high grass on the other side, from which the cowardly enemy fled like hares.

On our return to the station, I at once ordered Colonel Abd-el-Kader to take eighty men and some blue lights, and to destroy every village in the neighbourhood. The attack was made on the instant. The large village, about 700 yards distant, which I had raked with the fire of a few sniders, while Abd-el-Kader descended the slope to the attack, was soon a mass of rolling flames. In an hour's time volumes of smoke were rising in various directions.

My active and gallant colonel returned, having driven the enemy from every position, and utterly destroyed the neighbourhood.

I had made up my mind. There could be no longer any doubt of the diabolical treachery of Kabba Rega. He had only endeavoured to gain time by specious assurances of good-will, combined with presents, in order to organize the whole country against us. The natives who shot arrows must have come from Magungo, as none of the other districts were armed with bows. The arrows that had been shot at us, which my men had collected, were thickly poisoned with a hard gummy matter.

It was now rendered certain that a snare had been laid for the massacre of Major Abdullah's party.

Kabba Rega had no doubt ordered the various routes towards Rionga's province to be ambuscaded.

I determined at once to push straight for the camp at Foweera on the Victoria Nile, as Rionga's island was about fifteen miles from that point.

Among the men of the "Forty Thieves", there was a soldier named Abdullah, who had an extraordinary instinct for finding his way. This man never forgot a path if he had ever travelled upon the same route.

I also depended upon my Baris and Molodi; although they had not long experience of the path by which we had arrived from Foweera with the cattle, they were clever as guides.

Unfortunately, the country had changed terribly by the immense growth of the grass and tangled creepers.

I felt sure that the route would be occupied by the enemy throughout the whole distance, and that we should have to fight every mile of the path at a grave disadvantage.

The question of a supply of food was vital. The men had mostly exhausted their provisions.

At this critical moment, when every man of the expedition felt the fatal truth, my wife confided her secret, that she had hitherto concealed, lest the knowledge of a hidden store should have made the men extravagant. She now informed them that in past days of plenty, when flour had been abundant, she had, from time to time, secreted a quantity, and she had now SIX LARGE IRON BOXES FULL (about twelve bushels). This private store she had laid by in the event of some sudden emergency.

"God shall give her a long life!" exclaimed both officers and men. We had now enough flour for the march of seven days to Foweera, at which place there were regular forests of plantains.

My herd of cattle had been reduced to seventy, and I much doubted the possibility of driving them in a high grass country, as they would scatter and make a stampede should we be attacked; they would be scared by the guns.

I mustered my force and spoke to my men, to whom I explained their exact position, and my plan of action.

I should immediately divide among them, as presents, all the cotton stuffs that belonged to the expedition.

Each man would carry three pounds of beads in his knapsack, one-third of which should subsequently belong to him.

The line of march would be thus arranged-a Bari, who professed to know the path, would lead the advance-guard of fifteen sniders, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Abd-el-Kader, supported by myself with ten sniders in charge of the ammunition, accompanied by Lieutenant Baker, my wife, and two servants, carrying double breechloading elephant rifles. The rear-guard would consist of fifteen sniders. The few remaining sniders would be distributed along the line.

Neither the advance; nor rear-guard would carry any loads beyond their knapsacks and a small bag of flour. Five of the sniders with me would also be exempted from carrying loads; but every other soldier, and every woman and boy, would carry either one of the metal boxes or some other package.

I explained to the men that they would be attacked throughout the route at a great disadvantage, but that success would depend upon the strict observance of orders for the march combined with the utmost coolness.

Each man was to keep just near enough to be able to touch with his outstretched hand the knapsack of the man before him, and upon no account to widen this distance, but to keep the line intact. Should it be broken by the sudden rush of the enemy, we should at once be lost.

Should the attack be made simultaneously on both sides, alternate files would face to right and left, place their loads upon the ground, and fire low down in the grass, as the natives always crouched after throwing a spear from covert.

A bugler would accompany the colonel commanding the advance-guard, in addition to buglers with myself and the rear-guard; thus we should be able to communicate along the line, which would be concealed from view by the high grass.

On arrival at water, and in crossing either swamps or streams, no man or woman was to stop to drink unless the bugle of the advance-guard sounded halt.

No woman would be allowed to speak during the march, as profound silence must be observed.

The officers and men received their instructions, merely declaring that wherever I should lead them, they would follow and obey.

I at once divided the effects that could be carried, into the requisite number of loads, which were carefully packed in metal boxes by my wife and her black maids. It was hard and anxious work. The strongest men were selected to carry the boxes of snider cartridges, which weighed 64 lbs. each.

All the rest of the baggage I arranged in piles, and distributed in the government divan and the various houses. I spread my large tent over the luggage in the divan, and poured over it a quantity of nitrous ether, spirits of wine, lamp-oil, spirits of turpentine, and all the contents of the large medicine-chest.

I filled up my small chest, and took a good roll of adhesive plaster, a number of bandages, and a packet of lint.

Upon the tent-cloth, rendered highly inflammable by the saturation of spirits and oil, I laid about sixty rockets.

My two horses and three donkeys would be loaded with baggage.

I gave orders for the march early on the following morning. The rear-guard was to set fire to the station; this was the sad result of our industry and labour in a land of detestable savages.

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