IN THE HEART OF SAVAGEDOM

 


by Rachel Stuart Watt covering the years 1885-1914 In the Public Domain originally published by Pickering & Inglis. This is a full length and extraordinary book of pioneer missionary work in what is modern day Tanzania & Kenya.

 

Reading Level teen-adult

Note:  This public domain book is available on the DOWNLOADS page

 

CHAPTER 1
APPREHENDED FOR THE MISSION FIELD

 

Through the dim vista of accumulated ages, Africa, the land of isolation and mystery, has ever been one of the most fascinating continents on the earth's surface. Centuries before the Christian era, before the foundations of Carthage were laid, men have sought to look into the secrets of the Dark Continent, and unravel the enigmas, which have so long remained hidden and veiled in the endless forests and rolling lands of her immense interior. It is an awe-inspiring experience to pass through this up till now unknown land, and look into the faces of unusual natives, who, in primitive nudity or clad in red ochre and castor oil, wander in myriads among its delightful glades and leafy forests. How incredibly great has been the sacrifice of life, which the interior of Africa has ever ruthlessly demanded as her rightful fee from those explorers who have sought to unlock her mysteries, and those who carry to her native sons and daughters the message of the regenerating gospel of Jesus Christ. Even of those who have been able in the providence of God to return back to civilization, very few have come out unhurt from the harsh climate and isolated conditions, which prevail in the midst of her native wilds.

1

After our twenty five years of missionary effort in the equatorial regions of Africa, one is not inclined to look with much favor upon book-writing, especially when suffering from broken down health and shattered nerves. Yet due to the continued and personal requests of many Christian friends, united with the assurance that my Savior may be honored by my humble testimony, I enter upon the task of presenting to the public in this book but a tithe of the varied experiences of my husband and myself in the heart of Africa, where God's wonderful providences may, as at home, be witnessed by those who seek to know and do His will.

 

In my childhood's days, which were spent on the eastern border of the County of Down, I had little idea that it would ever fall to my lot to enter the unopened regions of that wonderful continent.

 

My father belonged to an English family who had settled in Ireland, and my mother was a descendant of the ancient Macgynnises, who, with the O'Neills, reigned and ruled for a lengthened period in the northern part of the Island. Some of their descendants afterwards changed the name to Guiness. My father died when I was three years of age. When the coffin lid was about to be screwed down over his earthly remains, I remember being lifted up to give him a farewell kiss. From my mother's bedroom window, I saw his funeral procession leave the house, but no tears came to my childish eyes, for my mind was not then capable of realizing the great and incalculable loss I had sustained. As years passed by I began to feel, with increasing intensity, the irreparable grief of my childhood.

 

My mother was a member of the Presbyterian Church, but like many other loving indulgent mothers, she was timid about speaking to her children of personal religion and the necessity of a regeneration of heart. She relegated that duty to the Minister, who never performed it in my case, and so I grew up a foolish, giddy, worldly girl.

 

When I was about sixteen years of age, I heard preached for the first time, as far as I can remember, the gospel of the grace of God. I was on a visit in the home of a lady and gentleman in the north of Ireland. One of their daughters, I found, had been recently converted to God at a meeting conducted by some Plymouth Brethren, who were preaching in a building nearby. Under these new and unexpected conditions in the family life of my host and hostess I felt most miserable, and desired to get away as soon as possible from the unpleasant surroundings. However, the young lady and her sister pressed me to go to the meetings, and I very reluctantly agreed to go with them.

2

The preaching was very personal, and not at all to my liking. After the meeting was over, a young medical doctor — one of the Brethren — escorted us home. While on the way, he tried to convince me that I was on the downward pathway. Judging, he said, from the feathers in my hat, he considered me to be a slave of fashion, and showed me the desirability of wearing only that which was useful, and casting aside those things which were merely ornamental and worldly. I replied as best I could, asking him to what useful purpose were the two buttons on the back of his frock-coat. He did not seem capable of giving a satisfactory answer to my question, and gave me up, I presume, as a hopeless case. Nevertheless, a shaft of truth had entered my heart, and I realized that I was not what I should be.

 

After my return from this visit, I tried to forget the warning message which I had heard, and followed my course of ordinary church going and living for the world at the same time. I was opposed to all out-and-out faithfulness, and yet oftentimes, in my more thoughtful moments, I wished that I might truly know God and be prepared to enter into His presence. Some time passed by without coming into contact with anyone who offered me light on this subject.

 

A lady friend of mine told me, one day, that a young gentleman was staying at their house, and she would like me to come for an evening and have an opportunity of making his acquaintance. I agreed to do so, though if I had known I was going to be laid hold of for Missionary work, I should have been quite unwilling to accept of the invitation. However, I went, and there met the young man, who, in the providence of God, was afterwards to be my husband.

 

During that evening, our conversation turned upon religious subjects; and, as I related my former experience with the medical doctor, who was a preacher among the Plymouth Brethren, I could see that the young gentleman to whom I had been introduced was quite concerned about my spiritual darkness. He took the opportunity of coming home with me that evening, and sought to lead me to a knowledge of Jesus Christ as my Savior. He related to me very graphically the story of his own conversion, and told me that, although he had been an atheist, God had saved him in a moment, when he gave his heart up to Jesus and accepted Him as his own personal Redeemer. His conversation made a wonderful impression upon me, and shortly afterwards I was brought to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.

3

My husband's conversion was even more remarkable than my own. He was the son of God-fearing parents, whose Scottish ancestors were kindred to James Watt of steam engine fame, who had settled in Ulster in the eighteenth century. They were members of the Church of Ireland, and sought according to their light to train him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. After leaving school he was sent away to business. At nineteen years of age, he was commercial traveler for one of the leading wholesale teahouses in Belfast, being the youngest, as well as one of the most successful travelers to be met with in the commercial rooms of the hotels in Ireland. Being naturally of a very sociable disposition and exceedingly open and blunt in conversation, he formed friendships very easily. Early in his business life, a very close affection sprung up between him and a man who was a very strong promoter of infidelity, and who wickedly led him to consider atheism. However, one of those amazing providences of God, which we so often thoughtlessly look upon as mere commonplace incidents, was about to take place, and change the whole course and purpose of his life.

 

In his school days his main friend was a boy named Matthew Kennedy. They were of one mind when any misbehavior was to be perpetrated, and they helped each other in all the schoolboy pranks of the day. Matthew was eventually led to take up a business career in the United States. After a short stay in America, where the Lord met with him and saved him, he returned to the place of his birth, and the whole countryside was soon ringing with the news that Matthew Kennedy was converted to God. He began holding Gospel meetings, and speaking personally to people along the way about their spiritual state before God. My husband, then a single young man, heard the news of his old schoolmate, and his first exclamation was, "I don't want to see him; I can have nothing to do with such hypocrites."

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However, one day, on his way to the local railway station, he had circumstance to pass by Matthew Kennedy's home, and, just as he was congratulating himself upon getting past without seeing his former school companion, he heard footsteps behind him, and a voice, with a slight American accent, calling out, "Hello! Stuart! How are you?" He turned and confronted Matthew Kennedy, scanning the convert critically from head to foot. The stranger from America had no "horns" on him! the same free manner; the same twinkle in the eye; but — there was a change! A fuller expression of care was visible, and uppermost in his mind were the interests of the Kingdom of the Christ who was now his everlasting Savior. In his heart there welled up a love, which is not begotten of this world, and a calm, which can only be Heaven-born, rested upon his countenance. The two old schoolmates had a short conversation together, and then the "convert" laid his hand lovingly on the shoulder of his friend, and said, "Stuart, since I went to America I gave myself up to Jesus, and He has pardoned my sins and changed my heart, and I am now on my way to Heaven, and I want you to come with me. Won't you come?" The indefinite reply was, "Matthew, I am very glad to have met with you, and I thank you for your interest in my welfare, but it is near my train time and I must be going. Good-bye!" — and so the two shook hands and parted.

 

As my husband passed away from the presence of that young man, he realized in his inmost soul that there was a transforming power in faith, of which, up to that moment, he had been entirely ignorant; and he determined to do his utmost to find out how that power might be experienced in his own life. For twelve months he enquired from all classes of men professing religion, whom he met in hotels and railway trains, as to how a man might obtain a change of heart and know his sins forgiven. All alike were questioned, whether Methodist preachers, clergymen of the Church of England, or Roman Catholic priests. At this stage he was greatly influenced by a sermon he heard preached by the late Rev. John White, in the Congregational Church, Donegal Street, Belfast. It was the first time in his life he had entered a nonconformist place of worship. The speech, based on the words, "How long halt ye between two opinions?" made an clear impression upon his mind.

5

After a year's anxious thought upon the subject, he had the privilege of attending the first meetings held in Belfast by that faithful man of God, Dwight Lyman Moody, and was very much impressed by his plain, blunt, unceremonious presentation of the Gospel of Christ. On the second night of Moody's meetings, in Rosemary Street Church, on September the 7th, 1874, he went with the determination of having a conversation with Moody about some of the difficulties which had so long troubled him, vowing, in his own mind, that if the question of his salvation were not settled that night he would give the matter up for ever. When he arrived at the Church he found it full, and hundreds of people surging around the doors in disappointment. He waited outside while the meeting was in progress, during which time his skeptical views were coming to mind, and playing havoc with his resolutions to seek salvation. However, this was to be his last and final night of inquiry.

 

When the doors of the Church were reopened, he heard the strong voice of Moody, intimating, that men who wished to be spoken to about their personal salvation, were to go to a certain schoolroom, and women to another part of the building. Hoping to have the opportunity speaking face to face with Moody and having his difficulties cleared away, he proceeded to the appointed place. Moody, however, seemed to be busy, and a boy of not more than sixteen years sat down beside him instead, with his fingers in a partially opened Bible. Although my husband was only a young man of twenty at the time, he was quite annoyed, and refused to listen to this younger man. Passage after passage of Scripture was quoted of which my husband took no notice. Then, in a meek and humble manner the boy said, "Sir, did you ever realize that God loves you?" This message came as a bolt from Heaven, and the seeker for the first time was forced to answer, "No! I never did." "Well," said the boy, "God loves you!" He then read the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of the Gospel by John, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life; "and added, "Won't you receive and believe the message that God loves you? "He then turned to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and read, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him (the Messiah), the iniquity of us all." The reply was, "I cannot believe that all my sins were laid on Jesus." "Well," he said, "that is God's message to you, that Christ bore your sins in His own body on the tree. "He then read from the thirty-sixth verse of the third chapter of John." He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abides on him;” and, he added, "Won't you believe that Christ is your Savior — the One who bare your sins?" There was a pause; and then, fully resting upon God's word, there came a clear and definite reply, "I will."

6

My husband rose from his seat, took the boy by the hand and thanked him. As he passed towards the door of the schoolroom, Moody, who had just finished speaking to some young men, extended his arms to their full length at the doorway, and said to my husband, "My young man have you accepted of Christ tonight?" and the response came, "Yes! I have." He went into that meeting determined to see Moody, and Moody only, to discuss and clear up doubts and difficulties; but God met him through the person of that young, faithful boy, proving that God chooses at times the weak things of the world to accomplish his mighty purposes.

 

Immediately after his conversion, he told the family, with whom he was staying, of the change that God had wrought in his heart, and in a fortnight's (two weeks) time every member of the household was converted to God. To his father he then wrote a simple straightforward letter regarding his conversion, but in the reply there was no reference made to that particular subject. His father was one of the most upright of men, highly respected by all classes of society, and one who was a constant attendant at the services of the Church of Ireland. Yet it could only be said of him, as of tens of thousands of ‘churchgoers’, he had never experienced the new birth.

 

After a short time my husband went home for a few days, and told his parents, brothers and sisters what God had done for him, urging them to an immediate decision and acceptance of the Gospel. God blessed the faithful testimony of the young convert, and a sister, and then a brother accepted salvation from God as a free gift. In a short time the whole family were converted to God, the last one being that loving and indulgent father.

 

My husband rejoiced daily more and more in his newly found Savior, and, as he traveled on railway trains and mingled with fellow travelers in the commercial rooms of the hotels throughout the country, he found great joy in humbly testifying to the power of Christ to save unto the uttermost all who would come unto Him. The work of a large Bible class of young men was taken up every Sunday, and many of these were led to a knowledge of Jesus as their Savior, and some of them became evangelists and successful soul-winners in later years.

7

Shortly after his conversion, his attention was seriously turned to the Mission field, and for several years he desired to go out with the message of the Gospel to those who had never heard, but his parents did not then approve of him going away to a foreign land, so he postponed the matter for future consideration.

 

On the fifth anniversary of the day on which I first met Stuart Watt, he and I were married in Carlisle Memorial Church, Belfast, Ireland. We spent some time in visiting those districts of our native land, which are famed for their beautiful and romantic scenery, and then came to our new home, where everything that could minister to comfort and happiness had been provided by the thoughtful and loving care of the one to whom I was now joined for life.

 

The call to the Mission field came louder and still louder as the days passed by. My husband then took the opportunity of obtaining my definite views on the subject of going out to the heathen, with that message of love and pardon which had brought salvation into our own lives. The matter was freely talked about among our friends, and the proposal was met with considerable opposition. One loving friend said to me quite affectionately, "My dear, if you break up this comfortable home you will never have one like it again." I must say that, for my part, I had greater faith in my Savior’s promises than in these words of my best loved earthly relatives.

8

Our purposes regarding the Mission field were told to the late Rev. R. W. Stewart, C.M.S. Missionary, who with his wife and children were afterwards murdered in China in the Boxer Rebellion, and he placed our ideas before the committee of the Church Missionary Society. After the usual examinations had been passed, we were accepted by the Society, and appointed to work in East Equatorial Africa. We both felt intensely the great responsibility of our undertaking, but the burden was very much lightened by the assurance that we had a definite message from God to deliver to the lost. We were determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

 

Some people think that any person with a fair show of religion, a form of godliness, and a reasonable ability for acquiring a foreign language, is properly prepared for the foreign Mission field. But, how can men and women deliver the message of the regenerating Gospel of the Grace of God if they have never been regenerated themselves? How can they lead a native to a knowledge of sins forgiven through the precious blood of Christ, if they have never had that sin cleansing blood applied to their own soul? How can they be witnesses to the lost ones of the value and glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ, if they are uncertain as to their own state before God?

 

CHAPTER 2
ENTERING THE UNKNOWN

Preparations were soon made for embarking for then East Coast of Africa, and an extensive setup suitable for traveling in the interior of the tropical regions of the Continent was obtained, including tent and all camping supplies. In those early days of 1885, the island of Zanzibar was the usual starting point for caravans proceeding into the interior of East Equatorial Africa. There was then no direct line of steamers between Europe and East African ports, so we had to change ships twice on the way.

 

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After seven weeks of rough weather we arrived at the Island of Zanzibar, which presented from the sea a beautiful view, with its waving fronds of palm and the dark-green foliage of mango and Jack- fruit trees. The ship cast her anchor a considerable distance from the beach, and we were carried to the shore in a little rowing boat, manned by several stalwart dark-skinned natives, whose clothing consisted of three to four cubits of calico wrapped around the loins. They joined in singing an exhilarating song while they rowed us to the shore. We took up our housing at an old tumbledown building, called the French Hotel — the only house in Zanzibar for entertaining travelers.

 

Seyid Barghash was the Sultan of the island, and we were introduced to His Highness by Sir John Kirk, one of the most respected of British Consuls in the East. On several occasions the Sultan very kindly sent us one of his carriages, so that we might have an opportunity of seeing something of the Island, while our caravan porters were being collected and the goods prepared for transport. Shortly after our arrival, the annual Muslim fast of Ramadan ended, and there was great feasting and rejoicing all over the Island. A vast multitude of many thousands of the faithful followers of Islam, clad in white muslin gowns, were gathered before the palace of the Sultan, singing weird choruses while they prostrated themselves upon the ground. The Sultan had given command that the women of his harem should be taken out to his country palace. In spite of the fact that the exit of the harem was guarded by soldiers we were allowed to approach the gateway of the building and see the ladies walking out in pairs, and taking their seats in the long file of carriages provided for them. There were about one hundred and eighty of these harem women, all dressed in colored silks and wearing facemasks. On their feet were high wooden sandals, which raised them about six inches from the ground and caused them to walk with an awkward, strutting way of walking.

10

We had a large amount of work on hand in getting our goods ready for the march up into the interior. The loads had to be weighed and adjusted to sixty pounds, a convenient weight for porters to carry on their heads. To this, however, must be added the men's own "posho" which consists of grain or beans for food; also a rifle and ammunition — all of which make an additional twenty to thirty pounds to the burden of each carrier.

 

It may be readily understood that no caravan of porters could be induced to proceed into the interior of Africa without rifles, as they are very much afraid of the spear-armed warriors of the jungle. Very few of the Swahili coast men, however, know how to handle a rifle, but the possession of these weapons adds to their courage, while the exhibition of apparent defensive power may often prevent the native tribes from attacking a caravan. Anyhow, in a country where wild beasts of the forest are so numerous, and may be encountered at any hour of the day or night, it would be cruel not to provide these caravan porters with rifles for the protection of their own lives. No matter how favorable the journey into the interior may be, very few caravans return to the Coast with their full number of carriers. The spear or poisoned arrow of the native, as well as fever and dysentery, claim many victims before the caravan returns again to the sea.

There is not much difference of opinion among Missionaries and Explorers regarding the general character of these Zanzibar porters. They comprise individuals from all the different tribes of the interior, who have been brought down country as slaves by Arab slave hunters, or the descendants of those who have been thus enslaved. There is perhaps no traveler who has not, at times, had great trouble with his carriers. The usual, but reprehensible, custom when hiring a caravan is to pay to each porter two or three months' wages in advance, on the plea that his dependent relatives might have some means of survival during his absence. Many of the men join up on caravans and receive their advance of earnings, with the fond hope of throwing down their loads in the bush, and running away within a few days' march of the coast. The life of many a traveler has been endangered by this wholesale desertion.

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Before departing for the mainland, very sad news reached us about James Hannington, the first Bishop of East Equatorial Africa. A few months previous, he had left the Coast on his journey into the heart of Africa with high hopes and glowing expectations. Before he reached Lake Victoria Nyanza, he and forty of his porters were treacherously murdered. Although other Missionaries had lost their lives up country, it seemed very difficult to believe that our beloved Hannington was now no more. He was one of the most evangelical and aggressive of Christian Missionaries, a man who had been truly born of God, and who labored with a zeal which knew no bounds for the extension of his Savior’s Kingdom in Equatorial Africa.

 

Bishop Hannington was not in any sense, to use his own expression, a "confirming machine"; nor was it at all necessary for him to call in the aid of the tailor to enable him to rule his diocese, for he reigned in the hearts of all faithful Missionaries who knew him. His sole ambition in Africa was to lead sinners to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. On the day that the spear of the native found its way to the heart of Hannington, there fell to the dust one of Africa's best friends and most valiant of Missionaries.

 

Sad to relate, he was not converted to God when he was appointed to preach in the Church of England. Long after he had been ordained by the "Reverend Father in God," as God's Messenger (without a message), he wrote to a friend, " I am — I don't know in what state — unless I am being bound by the evil hand and foot. I cannot believe that I can ever be saved and I feel that I have no right to preach to others. Will the sun ever break through the clouds so that I shall be able to say Jesus is mine, and I am His?" A converted friend sent him a copy of "Grace and Truth," by Dr. Mackay, of Hull; and one morning, as Hannington was lying in bed reading this book, he became deeply interested in the chapter which treats of knowing our sins forgiven. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the truth of the Gospel found an immediate entrance into his heart, and he jumped out of bed and praised God that Jesus had died for him. Ever afterwards it was his unspeakable joy to live the overcoming life of one who is "born of God."

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In the Mission field, he took every opportunity of insisting that there should be no baptism until there was evidence of true conversion. This is shown clearly by the following letter written in Africa: "I find that the custom has been to baptize children up to the age of eight years, who have been received from slave dhows, etc. Hence they get ‘Christian names’, and are of course educated as far as is possible as Christians, and go out into the world as such. The education, good as it is, in too many cases does not seem to lead to conversion; and so these go forth, some of them with very bad characters, yet bearing the name of converts and Christians. This is of course the history of the Church at home, and its blight, but might surely be prevented here."

 

After we had received the news, at Zanzibar, of the murder of the Bishop and his forty followers, we felt more eager than ever to hurry on our way into the interior and deliver the Savior’s message. Many thought that the news of the murder of Hannington and his men should have been kept secret from me, fearing it might frighten me, but the Lord gave me strength to go forward in His Name.

 

The following morning, at dawn, we sent off our small caravan of men with all our goods and camp equipment, together with a couple of riding donkeys, in two Arab dhows, instructing the head men of the caravan to camp at the small village of Saadani on the coast of the mainland, while we were to follow later on. We sailed from the island of Zanzibar at noon, arriving off Saadani at sundown. As soon as we touched the shore, we knelt down on the sand together and praised God for the privilege of being enabled to land on the East Equatorial Coast of that Dark Continent, as Messengers of Christ's full and free salvation. Night was fast approaching, and we made our way hastily to our camp among the trees, a short distance from the beach. The dhows on which the porters had been sent made a very slow passage, and the men had barely succeeded in getting all the loads into camp before darkness set in. Due to this unexpected delay, our tent was not pitched, nor our camp beds unpacked, and there seemed very little hope of rest for the night.

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The Arab chief of the district kindly provided us with some cooked food, sufficient for the needs of twenty hungry men. There were forty boiled eggs, three roast fowls, a vessel of new milk, a pot of boiled rice, and a basket of mangoes. He offered us the use of a little grass hut, which we might occupy till the morning. We lay down to rest in this native booth, but could not sleep. Mosquitoes were swarming around us, seemingly quite delighted with fresh British blood, while rats innumerable kept rushing to and fro in the darkness. The painful monotony of the night was broken by the unearthly, and to us unfamiliar, sounds of the denizens of the forest. In the early dawn of the morning our porters were aroused from their sleep, and the loads distributed to the carriers. In a short time the last porter had left the camp, and we were on our way into the unknown interior.

 

Caravans of porters in East Equatorial Africa always travel in single file, as the native tracks through the interminable forest are not more than ten or twelve inches wide. One rarely ever steers a caravan through these wilds solely by compass, for in all parts of Central Africa there are found numerous native or animal tracks, and the course usually adopted in traveling is to select some one of these, which trends towards the destination to which the traveler desires to proceed. Along these beaten pathways the caravan winds its way, day after day, in single file. The course of the track is very winding, never perhaps running in a direct line for even a hundred yards. Now it goes in a circular direction, keeping out of the way of the rotten trunk of some fallen giant of the forest; and then it bends its course around some thick impenetrable clump of bushes. Soon it turns off almost at right angles to avoid some deep impassable gorge; and then threads its serpentine way among the dense growth of the tropical forest. In the rainy season some of these tracks become mere ruts, of six to twelve inches deep, having been hollowed out by the running streams of water, and marching is thus rendered very difficult and tiring.

14

Although we had with us riding donkeys, we found that, in passing through bushy country, it was impossible to ride without getting our clothing torn to shreds by the lower branches of the tangled growth, while often it was with great difficulty that we avoided getting knocked on the head by the intertwining limbs of the trees, as the animal pushed its way forward. So we were obliged to walk the greater part of the time. Sometimes our path led through marshy districts, where the water might be two to four feet deep, and across these I had to be carried on the shoulders of several men. When a deep river blocked our course we were, at times, detained a whole day in crossing. If the river were too deep to cross, we usually cut down a tree on the bank, so that it would fall across the stream. Then, choosing a good swimmer from the caravan, and attaching a long rope to his body, we sent him across the river to cut down a tree on the opposite side, so that the two trees should meet in the center of the stream. Along the fallen trunks and branches of these trees, the loads of the caravan were passed from hand to hand to the other side. When the river was crossable, not more than three to four feet deep in the center of the current, a bend was selected where the stream was wide, as the most proper place for crossing. I was then carried across on the shoulders of two of the tallest and strongest men, while another couple on either side helped to steady my carriers where the current was strongest. But with all these precautions, my limbs have often been dangling in the water and, occasionally, when the bed of the river has been uneven, I have had a good wetting.

 

My husband was generally carried across these deep rivers in like manner, but being much heavier than I, he got more often drenched, his carriers sinking and collapsing in mid stream. On one occasion he thought he could ride across, for though it was fairly deep, the current was not very strong. He mounted his donkey and entered the river, at a point on the bend of the river where the water was reasonably shallow, intending to guide his donkey diagonally across the current, to a part on the further bank where it might be easy to land. After he reached mid stream, however, the donkey could not be induced to take the desired direction, but rushed for the nearest part of the margin of the river, where the water was deep. Here it frantically sought to climb the bank, getting its front legs up, but in the effort to raise itself it completely failed, and fell backwards into the muddy river with my husband in the saddle under it; and eventually they parted company and emerged separately, amid the loud laughter of the porters.

15

When we have come, at times, to flooded districts, and our porters have been tired after a weary march, I have refrained from asking them to carry me over, and, with my husband, have walked through stretch after stretch of swampy land, where the water was two to three feet deep, and have gone ahead in wet and muddy clothing, until we arrived at the camping place of the day.

 

As the caravan proceeded further into the interior, we got accustomed to the cry of the porters, "Angalia! siafu!" which means, Beware! biting ants! I often wondered why the carriers were so much afraid of these insects, which crossed our path in thousands at intervals on the march. However, one day I sat down to rest on the soft, grassy bank of a babbling stream, and in a short time I found that I was covered by these siafu. They had got under my clothing and began to bite me viciously. As their strong mandibles entered the flesh, the pain was most agonizing, and I literally screamed with the excruciating torture. The porters, hearing my cries, ran to my assistance. They carried me away from the place and began picking the insects off my clothing, but could do nothing to relieve me of those which had made their way under my clothing. Fortunately we were in camp at the time, and our tent was pitched, so I was enabled to undress and pull them all off; but in some cases their mandibles still remained in the flesh, so penetrating and powerful was their grip.

 

Oftentimes these insects got into the tent at night and gave us much trouble. When we discovered their presence before they got right into our residence, we took hot wood ashes from the campfires, and laid them in a line around the tent. This formed an effective barrier over which they could not pass. If the invasion had already been successfully accomplished, however, and the enemy had entered in considerable numbers, there was nothing to be done but move the entire camp to another site. We often had to do this in the dark of the night.

16

In the Equatorial Belt, especially in low-lying districts, the heat is intense. From about nine o'clock in the morning, till three in the afternoon, the sun gleams like a absolute ball of fire. One could not stand to touch a rock or hold a stone in the hand, the temperature of the surface of the ground often registering 165 Fahrenheit. If there is any earthly thing for which one craves more than another, it is a drink of clean, cool water. This is rarely to be obtained in Central Africa. The water is, at best, muddy and disagreeable in flavor, and of all shades of color, from the light brown of weak tea to the deeper shades of coffee or chocolate, while in a few cases one meets with it white and milky. It was generally necessary to strain it through a cloth, then boil and allow it to settle, so that the mud might fall to the bottom of the container. In consequence of the impurity of the water, fever and dysentery were very common in the low-lying districts of the country, and strong men were cut down without any warning. Two Missionaries, who left London for East Africa a few weeks before our departure, fell victims to this treacherous climate. One was already on the way home sick, and the grave of the other we saw in the bush. In passing through the country of Useguha, we found it necessary to pitch our tent close by a small lake; and there our little son got an attack of dysentery and fever. Next day he was much worse, and we hurried to reach higher land. We arrived at a place called Semagombe, where we encamped for the night. The face of our dear little child looked pale and weak, but we hoped that as we attained a higher altitude he might recover. His cot was beside my bed in the tent, and I lay down beside him, moistening his lips occasionally with the muddy water, which we had, with some difficulty, obtained. I knew that he was in great pain, for now and again he gave a bitter cry. At last he seemed to fall into a state of perfect rest, and, being myself tired and worn out, I too very soon became unconscious in sleep. About an hour afterwards when I awoke at 2 a.m., I thought it strange that all was so silent. Reaching out my hand over the little cot, I was terrified to find how cold was the body of my dear little son. I immediately sprang out of bed, and lifted the child with trembling hands, and found that he was dying. He was already unconscious, and in a few minutes his spirit passed away to the God who gave it. We were camped in the forest, but in the most populous part of the Useguha country, and were surrounded by superstitious natives, who would not have a white man buried in their country, fearing it might bring sickness to their borders. It was necessary that the death of our child should not be made known to them. My husband emptied one of our iron cases, and with a heavy aching heart I lined it with a linen sheet, and in it we laid the earthly remains of our precious child. We remained that day in camp, and selected a place, where two of our porters were secretly instructed to dig a grave. Some time after the sun had sunk below the horizon, in the darkness of the oncoming night, the body of our little one was carried into the forest, and buried underneath the shelter of a large euphorbia tree.

17

Those mothers and fathers who have lost a little child will be able to enter into our feelings on that night in lonely Africa, when we had to bury our dead in the jungle. On the following morning before the break of day we left camp; and, as the porters moved forward in single file, we went once again to that dear spot, and dropped a few wild flowers where he lay; and, with tearful eyes and heavy hearts, we turned away, after making a small drawing of the surrounding forest. "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the Name of the Lord."

 

CHAPTER 3
IN HARNESS ON THE FIELD

 

After leaving Semagombe, where our darling child was buried, we had some very difficult marches. The path which we had been following was somewhat overgrown, and we had to appoint men with tomahawks to cut a way for the porters. Sometimes for a few miles, the bush or forest through which we were passing was so dense that the rays of the sun were excluded. Very often the carriers had to make their way in a stooping stance which must have been painful to them, while bearing heavy loads on their heads. Here they climb over some huge fallen tree: there they bend underneath the giant creepers and intertwining branches, which droop over the narrow, darkened and tortuous path: now they descend into steep gullies, and again make their way along dry river beds, with a great mass of matted forest growth overhead.

 

After several days, we came to a beautiful river called Mto-wa-mawe, the signification of which is Stony River. Here our porters seemed to revel to their hearts' content. They drank of it, bathed in it, and, those of them who were so inclined, washed their loincloths in this purling stream. We enjoyed very much the enchanting scenery which stretched along its banks, and the beautiful sylvan hills, which formed part of its watershed. Gaily plumaged birds flitted from tree to tree, and some outstanding acacias had weaver birds' nests hanging from every tiny branch. Antelopes of many kinds abounded in the open, grassy glades of the forest, and seemed to be unusually tame. We saw a herd of giraffe standing quite near to us, like giant phantoms among the mimosa trees. Lions and leopards were more numerous in this district than nearer the Coast, due to the abundance of game on which they prey.

18

The sloping and undulating banks of this Mto-wa-mawe are a genuine paradise for the entomologist, for no matter where one looks the ground is crawling with insect life. To us the river was little less than such, for we had the privilege of getting our clothes washed, as this was the first water we had met with, since leaving the Coast, really clean enough for washing purposes. As we wend our way further west, we get into more park-like country, covered with shorter kinds of grass; and here and there are dotted clumps of trees, which give a beautiful and never-ending variety to the landscape.

 

On reaching the banks of the Wami river, we were, for the first time, brought into close touch with crocodiles. They lay basking in the sun on the river banks, or on little islets in the midst of the stream. Many of them measured twenty to twenty-five feet long. The natives have to be very careful when drawing water, for many of the women lose their lives while getting the necessary water to cook their millet and other grains which they grow in these parts. The crocodile is a very expert swimmer, and can get along under water at an amazing rate. When lying still on the scummy surface of the sluggish river, the great reptile can hardly be noticed by the thirsty animals of the forest, which come down to the stream to drink. The crocodile is ever on the alert, and, the moment it sees the animals, it dives quietly underneath, and swims up to the place where they are drinking. With a sweep of its mighty tail it knocks one of the animals into the water; and then, seizing it with its unrelaxing grasp, holds it below the surface until it is drowned, after which the victim is slowly eaten.

 

The jaws of the crocodile are of amazing strength, and once the prey is caught there is no chance of escape. The natives tell me that sometimes the crocodile will quietly catch hold of a buffalo by the nose while drinking, and draw the animal below the water without attempting to use its tail. The sharp blow with the tail, however, is the usual mode of getting the smaller and more alert antelope under water. The victim is amazed and rendered helpless by the speed and force of the attack. Along the banks of some of the rivers, crocodiles' eggs are numerous. The reptile digs a hole in the sand, and lays thirty to forty large eggs, covering them with the loose earth, and leaving them to be hatched by the heat of the sun. Many small animals are very fond of these eggs, and scrape them out and eat them, thus reducing the descendants of these awe-inspiring reptiles.

19

When we got into a higher altitude, we found the country more open, and marshes not at all so numerous as in the earlier part of our journey; and these conditions made traveling infinitely more pleasant and less tiring. Food became more plentiful, so that our porters were able to replenish their supplies two or three times a week, by inducing the natives to exchange their millet and sweet potatoes for small pieces of calico and strings of beads. Before leaving the island of Zanzibar on the Coast, we secured a number of loads of various colored beads and blue and white Indian calico. Each porter of the caravan received two yards of this material, or ten strings of beads every seven days, with which to purchase food from the different tribes through which we passed. The men clubbed together in parties, to the number of seven or eight, for cooking purposes, and thus were enabled to secure a greater variety of food than if each man purchased and cooked his own.

 

At night, when the camp fires were lighted, my husband, who was daily getting more capable in the language, used to take up his time in seeking to express to the porters of the caravan some winning aspects of Gospel truth, which seemed to be well received by these semi-barbarous men, who, for the most part, as slaves of coast Arabs, had been for a longer or shorter period under Muslim influence. When we arrived at a district named N'guru, we had barely pitched the tent and got the camp into order for the night, before the chief of the country came with a considerable entourage, bringing a present of a big fat tailed sheep for the "White man." We were always delighted to see the natives coming into our camp, as it gave us an opportunity of having a word or two with them, in the language we were learning, and of which some of them understood a little.

 

After we had given an equivalent for the present which had been brought, the chief made a very serious proposal which quite frightened me. He said that in their country, when a stranger came to visit them, it was their custom to exchange wives, and that he would bring his three wives to our camp, so that my husband could choose which he would prefer in exchange for me. My husband blandly declined and turned the conversation to more interesting subjects. He explained the teaching of the Son of God regarding the matter of having only one wife, and the greater happiness which follows. The dear old man seemed quite delighted with the higher ideas, which were put before him so openly, and we parted the best of friends.

20

Up till now I had had fairly good health, even while traveling through very marshy fever-laden country, but on our next day's journey I became seriously ill with fever. It is not considered a good thing, when one is struck down with malaria, to remain camped in one place; and for this, and several other reasons, it was desirable to push on to our destination. A hammock was strung to a pole, and each morning at dawn I was taken out of my camp bed and laid in the hammock, which was carried by four porters. The agony I endured when the sun got high in the heavens is indescribable. The jolting and swinging motion of the hammock was, to me, unspeakably painful. The porters were instructed to carry me always with my face towards the direction in which we were going, except when ascending a steep incline, when they were to reverse the hammock to prevent my feet being higher than my head. Sometimes, however, when going up out of deep gullies, the pathway was so narrow, and the bush on either side so thick, that it was impossible for the men to turn; and therefore my head was much lower than my feet, a most uncomfortable position for one exhausted with fever.

 

Occasionally when we encountered obstacles in the pathway, or were crossing slippery places after rain had fallen, one of my carriers would stumble or lose his footing, and thus throw me to the ground, while it was no unusual thing for the hammock to strike against some high stump of a tree, causing a severe concussion to the body. Day by day the paroxysms of fever grew worse, and my weakness and prostration more acute. My husband treated me with quinine, which in those days was considered a cure-all for malarial fever. Very few can fully realize how soon this great tropical scourge can lay low the strongest human frame. The death rate of Missionaries, in both east and west Equatorial Africa, has been terrible during the past twenty five years, so that Central Africa has been described as "the white man's grave."

21

The late Henry Drummond, in referring to this matter, very pathetically tells his experience on first entering the Scottish Mission Station, near lake Nyassa, — "A neat path through a small garden," he says, "led up to the settlement, and I approached the largest house and entered. It was the head Missionary's house. It was spotlessly clean; English furniture was in the room, a medicine chest; familiar-looking dishes were in the cupboards, books lying about, but there was no Missionary in it. I went to the next house — it was the school, the benches were there and the blackboard, but there were no scholars and no teacher. I passed to the next, it was the blacksmith's shop; there were the tools and the anvils, but there was no blacksmith. And so on to the next, and the next, all in perfect order, and all empty. Then a native approached and led me a few yards into the forest. And there among the mimosa trees were four or five graves. These were the Missionaries."

 

The same story might be repeated many times in various parts of the Equatorial Belt. A chain of English graves stretches across from east to west of the Great Continent. The strongest and most robust athlete falls a victim, as readily as the person of more frail and delicate structure. After a week's journeying in the hammock, though greatly withered, I was sufficiently free from pain to enjoy the landscape, as the men carried me along on our daily march. We were now getting into more hilly country, and approaching the district to which we had been appointed by the Church Missionary Society. Two Missionaries had been in this district for a short time, and one of these had orders to proceed to Uganda, while it was the express desire of the Secretary of the Mission that the other should assist in the work among an adjoining tribe, and that we should dwell in the Mamboia Station, vacated by these men.

 

One day, as we got into the camp, some messengers arrived with a letter from the senior of these Missionaries, saying that we should return to the Coast, as there were only two Mission houses, and therefore no room for any more Missionaries. My husband sent his salutations, and replied per the native runners that the matter of housing was of very little importance to us, and presented no obstacle to Missionary work; and that we could use our tent as a dwelling place in the meantime, while we carried out the instructions of the Home Committee. Two days afterwards we arrived within the grounds of the Mission station. The Mission houses were situated within a short distance of the head of a mountainous elevation where huge boulders stood out prominently on the face of the hill. In a few places, between these rocky protuberances, there seemed to be a great depth of rich soil, which had been washed down from the summit of the hill. These places had been enclosed with a fence, and turned into a thriving English vegetable garden.

22

My carriers had some difficulty in climbing the long zigzag path up the hill, although my weight at this time was not very great, for the fever had reduced me to a mere skeleton. How rejoiced I was when they laid me down on the verandah of one of the Mission buildings. A portion of the largest house had been generously vacated for us, and the junior Missionary on the station did all in his power to give us a hearty welcome. After a day's rest our porters were sent back to the coast, each man receiving sufficient barter goods to enable him to purchase food on the way down country.

 

The Station of Mamboia was a comparatively healthy one; but its most glaring disadvantage seemed to be its great distance from the native people, who occupied the plains below, and among whom the work must, of necessity, be done. We had nothing to put into our two empty rooms except a couple of camp beds and a few boxes. The native caravan cook had been so destructive with our light enameled cooking vessels on the way up country, that they were now leaking, and we had to turn tinker and get them repaired.

 

Shortly after our arrival at the Station, it was our privilege to meet Dr. Baxter, the Field Secretary of the Mission, whose station at Mpwapwa was about fifty miles from ours. He and his wife, on hearing of our arrival, came to see us and have a conference concerning the work in the district. When he reached our station I was again laid low with very severe fever, and he did all he could to relieve me. We have never met in Africa a more Christlike man than Dr. Baxter — a most devoted follower of the Savior, a faithful doctor, an indefatigable nurse and a fine cook. Under the blessing of God I gradually regained strength, and soon joined my husband in the work of the station. The acquiring of the language was the first and most important duty we set ourselves to achieve. I was very slow at it, but my husband made rapid progress in mastering the seemingly unintelligible languages of the different tribes. Every morning we had a meeting in our dining room. There was not much furniture in the way, and our natives squatted down on the floor. Rarely did we get more than fifteen to twenty at these meetings, consisting of Wasagara and Wanyatnwezi, and one or two Swahili workers on the station.

23

The monotony of our daily routine was broken, one day, by the welcome arrival of Rev. P. O'Flaherty of Uganda, who was returning home on furlough. This venerable man was a convert from the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. With his long, flowing beard and dressed in multi-colored pants and jacket, which had been patched by his own hands, he looked like a veritable "King of the Wilderness." This Missionary had much to tell us of the great difficulties and conquests of the work in Uganda. He was talkative, blunt and outspoken, but one who had a place very near to his heart for the work of God and the Kingdom of Christ in Africa. He brought a good deal of life and sunshine wherever he went. In him the ingenuous Irish spirit was ever visible. After a short and very profitable stay with us, we commended him to God, and he went on his way to the Coast.

 

How little we thought, when we said good-bye, that we should never see his face again in this world. The African fever had been troubling him much, and on his way home he had another severe malarial attack. All that was within the doctor's power was done for him, but he died on board ship, and was buried in the Red Sea. Our hearts went out very much in sympathy to the wife and relatives who were anxiously waiting to welcome him on his return to the homeland.

 

While our time was mainly engaged in the early days in learning the language, yet as a rule we made daily excursions among the villages of the natives, seeking to get quite familiar with them and their habits of life, so that we might be the better prepared for passing on to them properly the Message we had come to deliver.

 

One day, when out a short distance from the Station, my husband had a wonderful experience with a large snake. He was busy in thought over the grave of a Missionary, who, but a few weeks before, had been cut down by malarial fever. Standing in daydream beside the grave, thinking of the high hopes with which the departed had set out for the Mission field, and of the suddenness with which his life had been taken away, he heard behind him a unusual rattling sound, and, turning round, he saw a snake with an unusually large head approaching. The unearthly and terror inspiring noise of the reptile for a moment transfixed him to the spot; and then, realizing his helpless position, he jumped aside and ran to the Station for his gun. On returning to the place he found that the huge snake had disappeared. Although he has been now a quarter of a century in Central Africa, he has never seen another sample of the same kind.

24

We found that the Wasagara tribe, which occupied this district, believed in a Supreme Being and in a future state. They had, however, no ceremonies whatever, which could be at all designated as worship. About the villages were raised here and there some very tiny shrines, about three feet high and two in diameter, made of a few sticks and grass. In these they occasionally laid offerings of grain or some other food, which they dedicated to the Great Being. These gifts represented their gratefulness of heart to the God who had supplied their wants, and by them they appealed to Him for His favor and forgiveness.

 

The circular dwelling houses of these natives, formed of thin saplings bound together and covered with grass, are about twelve feet in diameter, and nine feet high in the center, from which point they slope on a slope to the ground. In these huts there are very few tools or gear of any kind. A cooking pot of burned clay, a scooped-out gourd shell for carrying water, together with a few spears, bows and arrows form the principal equipment of these primitive homes. To go in and out among them is to have lived before the first Pharaoh sat upon the throne of Egypt, and to be convincingly assured that, in this part of the world at least, "Man wants but little here below."

 

Despite the apparent gulf between the modern European from the native, "the whole world is kin." When we fully master the different languages of these tribes, and can sit down quietly and talk to them, how quickly we realize that they are members of the one great universal family of Him, who made of one, every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth. They have the same inexpressible desire, which we ourselves have experienced, to look into the future and get a vision of what is beyond: the same consciousness of sin and guilt: the same eager desire which is expressed in the words of Job, "Oh that I knew where I might find HIM." The desire is written in their hearts, and they have an anxious probing after peace and pardon, which is evident by their desire to beg the Almighty through those offerings of the fruits of the earth, which, like of Cain, they present to Him in their small shrines.

25

In those days in the heart of lonely Africa, when there were very few Missionaries or travelers, it was an inconceivable joy to meet with a white-skinned man of any nationality. We were therefore delighted beyond measure when, one day, a caravan belonging to a European camped near the station we occupied. He was a German traveler, named Giesikie, who had been sent out to Central Africa by a Hamburg firm to purchase ivory from the natives of the interior. He was the first European trader who had ever entered this part of Africa. We gave him a hearty invitation to our house. What a long and interesting talk we had over our mutual experiences in Africa!

 

My husband has a very quick way of getting to know the spiritual state and need of those with whom he talks, and always seeks an opportunity of saying a word for his Master. Christ says to His regenerated followers, "Ye shall be my witnesses" — witnesses not only to the far-off heathen but also to our own kith and kin, to men of our own color and race. On that day it was necessary, however, for my husband to dig deeply, for our visitor was given to unbelief and agnosticism. He was, nevertheless, brought up in a Christian home, and told us that he honored the religion of the Christ of whom his father was a faithful follower, stating that he believed him to be the best man in Hamburg. Our hearts yearned for the salvation of this young man, who had just left the parental roof, and was now entering upon a sphere of work in which there were so many dangers and difficulties, and where life was so uncertain and insecure. He was much impressed when my husband told him of his own young life of atheism and infidelity, and how the whole course of his life was changed when he accepted of Jesus Christ as his own Savior. The following day we said good-bye to our friend, who seemed to be halting between two opinions, and he and his followers went on their way to the next camping place.

26

On the afternoon of that day we noticed that one of our boys was missing. He was a little fellow about ten years of age, who, to escape from his slave master at Zanzibar, had secretly attached himself to our caravan and come up into the interior of the country with us. I had been teaching him to read, and felt greatly interested in him, as he was a very intelligent boy. At this time he was not to be found anywhere about the station and, inasmuch as he was fond of traveling, we thought he might have gone on with the caravan belonging to the German trader. Although the sun was now declining, and the next camping place fifteen miles away, my husband started off to reach the camp, hoping to find the boy among the carriers. It was a five hours' march over rough, rolling and, in some parts, abrupt country, with many small streams to cross. He got into the camp some time after sundown and found that the boy was not there. A warm welcome however was given to him, and an invitation to remain over night; and this he was glad to do, as he found his friend very much concerned about the conversation they had had together regarding the matter of conversion.

 

Very soon they were sitting side by side at a little folding table in the tent, talking gleefully over the dinner, which the native cook had brought in from the campfire. When the meal was over, the camp had to be put in order for the night, and some cut grass laid down in the tent as a temporary provision for an extra bed. My husband had no time to take his camp bed or any impedimenta with him, bringing only one porter to carry the necessary rifle and cartridge bag. When all was settled for the night, and the camp fires gaily blazing in the loneliness of the forest, the two young Europeans were reclining in the tent, and talking over matters which affect ordinary life and eternal destiny.

27

The German traveler unburdened himself to my husband, and said that his father had pleaded with him to give his heart to God before starting for Central Africa. When the father found that his entreaties were all in vain, he presented his son with a Bible, as a parting gift, telling him that in that book he would find the source of eternal life. The Bible, however, was inadvertently left behind at Zanzibar. My husband commended to him the advisability of giving his heart, there and then, to the Savior, and accepting of Jesus Christ as his own personal Redeemer. For some time he tried to drop the matter and put off decision but eventually God enabled him, that night, to accept of his father's Savior as his own. It was near to midnight when kneeling down together, they commended themselves to God in prayer, and very soon the eyes of both were closed in refreshing sleep.

 

In the early dawn of the morning they bade each other an affectionate farewell and each went his way. On arriving home, my husband sent after him a copy of the New Testament; and, on receipt of this, he wrote us a letter of thankful appreciation for our interest in him, and re-affirmed his determination to follow Christ. In a few months, we heard the sad news that he had been cruelly murdered near to Tabora, while lying in his tent. We wrote to his parents in Hamburg, breaking the tragic tidings, and comforting them with the news of their son's conversion. The grief-stricken father replied, telling us that he had received a letter from his son, written before the murder; and had also the joy of reading, in his son's diary, the full particulars of the change in his heart and life, and how he had met with us on his way up into the interior. I attach a copy of the father's most pathetic letter which we received from Germany:

28

Kellinghusen, 8th July, 1888.
The Rev. Stuart Watt.


Honored Sir,

I express to you today for the first time my thanks for the letter you sent me. In some degree we were familiar with the news contained in your letter, as my dear Hermann had not only informed me by letter, but also had noted it down in his diary. As you had made the friendship of our dear son you will be able to understand what pain the loss has caused us. The heart asks, "Lord, why hast Thou dealt so with us?" Nevertheless it is for us to be patient, knowing that the ways of the Lord are past finding out. We hope and believe that it was well with our son. God sent him to the Dark Continent in order to bring him to Himself, and I have now no doubt that he received the grace of God and is with Him in His Kingdom. Already four children, and now our Hermann, have gone on before us. What Hermann said to you about me pictures in a beautiful light his love for me. The truth is, I am a poor sinner and only by grace through the merits of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ am I saved. Our Hermann had not many pleasant days in Africa. He suffered a great deal from fever, and had many other difficulties through the whims of the chief, and others at Tabora, which ended at last in his murder. He never complained once in his letters or in his diary. I need not say all this to you, who by your own experience are well acquainted with Central Africa. I have often been astonished at the great love of the Missionaries who sacrifice themselves in order to bring the Gospel to the heathen. On behalf of my dear Hermann I return to you and your wife my thanks for all kindness which you showed him. God reward you for it. With kindest regards from my family and self, I remain,


Yours very sincerely,
{Signed) A. Giesikie.

29

CHAPTER 4
CHANGING SCENES OF LIFE

 

In our peregrinations around the Usagara hills, seeking to get into close touch with the people and deliver to them the Message of the Gospel, we came across a very interesting colony of natives, called Wakamba. This small collection of people had come from further north during a time of famine, and having got completely separated from the main body of their tribe, their return was impeded by the fierce nomadic Wahumba — a section of the Masai clan. Having been thus cut off, they settled down in the midst of the Wasagara tribe, from whom they differed exceedingly in skill, manners and body type, but with whom, nevertheless, they lived on the most friendly terms — a condition of things which speaks volumes for the hospitality and peaceful nature of the Wasagara.

 

The latter were timid and reserved, while the Wakamba were of a bold and manly attitude, and very expert with the bow and arrow. The greater part of their time seemed to be given to the chase. Among these people, we had not much difficulty in getting together a fair number in the forest, to hear something of the glad tidings we had brought to them. On returning, one day, to our station from one of these unplanned meetings in the jungle, we were glad to hear that a Missionary caravan had just come in from the Unyamwezi country. To meet with one who was bearing the burden and heat of the day in another part of the field of Missionary labor was a great break in the monotonous round of our daily life, and as refreshing to our hearts as the oasis is to the weary Egyptian in his journey across the Sahara.

 

It was with much joy, therefore, that we welcomed the arrival of Mr. Blackburne, who had been working among the Wasukuma, at the south end of Lake Victoria Nyanza. When he reached our station, he presented the appearance of a man who had got hold of Joseph's coat of many colors. In those early days in Central Africa, it was not possible to travel with a very large wardrobe; and, owing to the wear and tear of the rough life in marching through the jungle, one's clothing became worn out very soon. Everyone had to turn tailor and shoemaker occasionally, and the result was not always very artistic. It was not an unusual thing to see a Missionary with a dark colored jacket and pants, patched with pieces of calico or some other material of various colors.

30

Mr. Blackburne was longing to get home, and only stayed with us one night, and then passed on his way to the Coast. On his return to Africa after furlough, he travelled up country with the newly-appointed Bishop Parker (Hannington's successor). They had only arrived at the south end of the Lake, when Blackburne was prostrated with severe fever, and, without much premonitory sign of death, he suddenly fell asleep in Jesus. Bishop Parker dispatched some runners to the Coast, with a cable message for London, intimating that his companion in labor had passed away.

 

Immediately afterwards, the Bishop himself took seriously ill with fever, and, so rapid was the way of the disease, that in forty-eight hours he, too, had succumbed to this cruel plague of tropical Africa. The messenger bearing the news of his death soon overtook the other runners, and so the sad and tragic news, of the almost simultaneous deaths of these two comparatively young workers in Africa, reached the homeland at the same moment. The frequent deaths of the workers in Central Africa in those days made us feel how soon our opportunities might end, and how necessary to be diligent in spreading the Gospel message, which we had come to the land to proclaim. From our station on the hilltop, we could scan for fifteen to twenty miles the undulating, wooded valleys below, over which were scattered numerous villages — fields white unto harvest. Oftentimes, when we left the hill station and made our way down below to see a few people, and then climbed up again exhausted in the evening, we could not help feeling that the principal part of our time and energy was spent on the journey up and down.

 

It was suggested that we should build a sub-station in the valley, in the midst of the people, and with glowing hearts we entered into this work. Having made several itinerancies in the district, we eventually chose a very desirable position in a slight elevation in the forest, from which large numbers of people could gladly be reached. Pitching our tents on the selected site, a number of natives were sent out to cut down some trees and bamboo poles for building purposes, and others to cut grass for thatching the roof. The work of erection had commenced and was progressing splendidly, when all was brought to a standstill by my husband being cut down by an severe attack of malaria.

31

Day after day the fever became higher and his exhaustion more apparent, as he lay tossing about in agony at the very point of death. Night after night I sat by his bedside in our tent, while the leopards were growling around our canvas walls, and the lions roaring in the surrounding forest. My husband became so racked with pain, and wild with the delirium which the fever had produced, that he threw himself, at times, out of his camp bed and would persist in lying on the floor; and the floor of our tent was the rough, bare, mother earth. For several days I had neither rest nor sleep. God alone knows the terrible anxiety I suffered during those long, dark nights, or can measure their unutterable loneliness.

 

Seeing that there was no sign of any change for the better, I determined to have him carried back to the Mamboia station, and sent messengers fifty miles away for Dr. Baxter of Mpwapwa to come and see him. To a large bamboo pole I had my husband's hammock fixed, and in this he was laid. For his taking away, six strong porters were appointed, who raised the pole upon their shoulders and bore him away through the forest, towards the old station. No sooner had I got to Mamboia with my husband, than I myself was once again smitten with fever. When Doctor Baxter arrived he found us both exceedingly low. For many days and nights he patiently attended to us and, with his own hands, cooked some light gruel from our stock of Robinson's patent groats, and prepared a little beef tea or any other nourishment he thought we might be able to take.

 

Only when he was assured that we were on the way to restoration, did he propose leaving us, and then gave us a warm invitation to come, after our recovery, and build in a healthy place near to his district. We agreed to do so as soon as possible. So weak and exhausted had the fever left us, that several weeks passed by before we were able to walk. Nevertheless we had our little meetings in our sitting-room as before, and a special meeting on Sunday. When we got the use of our limbs once again, we collected together a small caravan of porters and made our way to the Mpwapwa station. We covered the fifty miles in four days, being still very feeble and unfit for long marches; and on our arrival we had a very hearty welcome from Dr. and Mrs. Baxter, who were very kind to us during our period of recovery.

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While there, my husband had a setback of fever, which brought him very low once again. After partial recovery, he went out one day for a walk and, becoming faint and weak, he lay down under the shade of a tree in a helpless condition. He waited some time until he heard native footsteps near at hand, and then he called out in the Chigogo language for a little water. The only reply was the withdrawing sounds of the fast retreating natives, who fled hastily. The natives evidently thought my husband was dying and, in accordance with native ideas, did not wish to be near when the spirit would pass away. However, the faint call for water accomplished the desired purpose, for, on reaching the vicinity of the Mission station, they related their experience to a native employed on the station; and in a short time Dr. Baxter was at my husband's side with a supply of water, a hammock and bearers to carry him to the Mission House.

 

After my husband's recovery, the doctor asked him to take the daily meetings, for, although he had been a comparatively short time in the country, he was very good at the language; and once again, he was delighted to have the opportunity of delivering the message of pardon and eternal life. The Wagogo natives we found to be much more difficult to reach than the Wasagara, Wanguru or Waseguha tribes, further east. To the people of Mpwapwa faithful witness had been borne day by day, and the joyous reaping time is sure to have followed. God alone can regenerate the heart of man. It is our duty to be co-workers with Him, in faithfully proclaiming the Gospel and witnessing, in season and out of season, to God's mighty power to save.

 

After some time we visited the further station in Ugogo at Kisokwe, where Mr. Cole had been working with great fidelity for some years. Here precious fruit had already been gathered, and there was much promise of a still more plentiful harvest. Those who had been converted seemed to be faithful in witnessing before the heathen of the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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While itinerating north of Mpwapwa, we came across a very interesting chief named N'gunda, who governed the district of Viangi, with whom we made friends. It seemed to us that among his people we had found a place, which would be very favorable for Missionary work. We selected a healthy site on which to build a station, in close proximity to a fast flowing perennial stream. Good water is an item of very considerable importance in Central Africa. The Missionaries at Mpwapwa had suffered very much from the want of a proper supply. The place from which it was drawn was a very long way from the station, and the water was at times so filthy that it was absolutely unfit for use.

 

Dr. Baxter, who at this time had to proceed to the Coast, handed over to us a few of his native workers, and we engaged some others, and very soon our new dwelling house was being reared, on a fairly high situation which had been cleared in the virgin forest. During the course of building we were living in our eight by ten feet tent. In the middle of the day the heat was almost unendurable. When my husband had finished superintending the erection of the framework of the house, and the last pole had been secured to the ridge, he suddenly took ill once again with malarial fever. His temperature ran up to an alarming degree. Throughout many nights I sat up by his bedside, binding cold linen cloths on his hot and feverish brow, and doing all that could be thought of to lessen the delirium caused by the severe fever.

 

The country was infested with leopards and lions. Even in daylight we used to see them, occasionally quite near to our tent, especially when the sun was declining about four to five in the afternoon. In the dark of the night they were continually growling about, and sometimes attempted to put their head under the tent. We had wooden boxes in which we kept our provisions, and a few iron cases for clothing, and these we placed, end to end, right round the tent to prevent the leopards from getting in. I had been successful in securing one or two fowls from the natives, and these I kept in an open box, over which wire netting had been securely nailed. I had this brought into the tent every evening before tying up the tent doors. One night a leopard drew the box out with his paw, tore up the wire netting and devoured my stock.

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Later on, the same night, while I was sitting up watching by the side of my husband's bed, I found another of these beasts poking his nose underneath the tent. The danger seemed so great and imminent that I aroused my sick husband from his sleep; and, putting the rifle and cartridge bag into his hand, I pointed to where the leopard was trying to gain an entrance. Although very weak, he raised himself on the bed, slipped a cartridge into the rifle and fired at the spot indicated.

 

After the smoke had cleared away through the ventilators, I sat down again by the bedside, and eventually was enabled to sleep a little before daybreak. In the morning our men saw traces of blood in the grass, but no carcass could be found. The animal had evidently been hit rather far back and was able to get away some distance into the forest. After my husband recovered from fever, the work of the building went on rapidly, and in three months' time a substantial wattle-and-daub dwelling house had been erected, and we gladly moved into our new home.

 

Near to the dwelling house there had also been reared a house for native boys and a storeroom, while further away, at a convenient place for the natives, there was erected a most comfortable little church or meeting house, the seats of which were composed of the trunks of forest trees, resting at either end on short, stout forks of wood. Here we had some very profitable meetings daily. The old chief often came and some of his men with him. He became very friendly, and did all he could to influence his people to be favorable towards us. The Wagogo natives were exceedingly superstitious. According to current ideas, individuals having an evil eye and the power of witchcraft were very numerous. They were of the opinion that some of the people were able to turn themselves into noxious animals at night, and thus prowl about in the darkness, bringing sickness and death into the huts of those natives against whom they had any grudge or mischievous intentions. On questioning the natives particularly about these matters we found that several people had been burned alive, who were supposed to be guilty of bringing disease and death into certain families.

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One day my husband was passing by a neighboring village, and saw a number of people congregated together in the adjoining forest. He went up to them and enquired what was the matter. He was told that a man had died that night through the witchcraft of a certain woman, who, it was said, had the power of turning herself into a hyena; and they were going to tie her to a tree and burn her. At first my husband took some of the old men aside, and sat down and calmly talked with them, pointing out their folly in imagining that this woman could do as they had said. He asked to have the woman pointed out to him, but they said she had already been taken away by some of the young men. As this meant that the sentence was to be carried out in some other part of the forest, my husband remonstrated with them. At considerable personal risk, he told them definitely that he would not allow any woman to be burned in the district. He came home speedily and got a couple of his native men, and started off to try to find the place to which the poor woman had been removed.

 

Eventually a friendly native told him that she had been led away to a certain district about five miles distant. Thither he hurried with eager feet, and arrived not one minute too soon, for already a fire was kindled, and the woman bound. My husband went up and forcibly released her. The younger portion of the crowd fled in all directions, not knowing what was going to happen next. With the warriors and elders, who remained on the scene, my husband had a long talk, showing them plainly the impossibility of this woman being able to cause that of which they had accused her, and that to burn an innocent woman was a terrible crime before God. The bold reproof, under the blessing of God, proved effective, for we never heard of another case of human sacrifice in the Viangi district. The woman was sent away to another part of the country in safety.

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The Wagogo, we found to be very different in character and mode of living from the Wasagara, among whom we had previously labored. They were more suspicious, and less friendly and confiding than the Wasagara. While the latter live in small conical grass huts in single families, the Wagogo herd together in large groups, and erect dwellings of a very different type called "tembe" The tembe is a long continuous shed, of about twelve feet in width, surrounding an open oblong court, the circumference of the entire dwelling measuring from fifty to one hundred yards. The roof of the tembe is flat and formed of strong poles, over which there is a layer of leafy branches of trees and grass, and, on the top of this, another layer about twelve to fifteen inches deep of beaten clay. The final course of clay is well mixed with the fresh excrements of cattle, to render it more rainproof, and is raised somewhat in the centre, so as to throw the water toward the eaves.

 

In one of these buildings live several families, numbering fifty or more people, while their cattle, sheep and goats are kept in the open court at night, the four surrounding walls of the tembe giving them protection from wild animals. One can scarcely conceive the state in which this courtyard is found during the rainy season. There is only one entrance to both building and interior yard, through which, alone, the animals and human occupants can enter in the evening and make their exit in the morning.

 

The young people are very musical, and are to be found daily going about with a one-stringed instrument, from which they are able to produce a great variety of sounds. The body of the instrument is a hollow gourd shell, and, as they play upon the cord, they manage so to touch various parts of the chest with the gourd, as to regulate the volume of sound and vary the notes of the instrument. The little fellows are very fond of the bow and arrow, and amuse themselves shooting rats, which they roast whole on the fire and greedily consume. The young warriors of the community, as is the case with most Central African tribes, are great dandies.

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It is amazing the amount of time these young mashers give to the dressing of their hair and the adorning of their semi-nude bodies. Into each little natural curl of the hair, they twist a piece of vegetable cord, about twelve or fifteen inches long — a most tedious piece of work: and after this has been done, they gather them up into a single twist in front and two behind. This gives them a peculiarly odd appearance, as if the head was armed with an anterior and two posterior horns. In the lower lobe of the ear they insert a large piece of wood or the neck of a calabash, five or six inches in circumference. Their bodies are daubed with red ochre and castor oil, and around their loins is a small covering, while several bells on the ankles produce a tintinnabulation as they strut along. The women besmear their bodies with oil and clay as freely as the men, but their ear ornaments are flat, circular pieces of carved wood, inserted in the lower lobe. Their covering consists of a small skin apron of a few inches square, on which are sewn beads of various colors, while on their legs are huge coils of beads weighing several pounds. It is marvelous how conservative are some of these heathen tribes, and how difficult it is to persuade them to abandon customs that are hoary with age, however inconvenient or undesirable these may be. One day an old woman came to see me, with whom I had a lengthened conversation, leading up to the one thing needful. I deeply sympathized with the old creature, for her tiny apron was almost worn out, and I thought of how she might appreciate a garment to cover her nakedness. I measured her for a loose gown and asked her to wait while I made something for her. The scissors were soon plied on a piece of calico, and the garment cut out. Having a little hand sewing machine, I was not long in running it together. Seeing that she was getting impatient, I tried to interest her in the machine, while the cloth was being fed to the needle as quickly as possible. To make her garment more pleasing and acceptable, I trimmed it with a band of red turkey muslin. A buttonhole was worked at the neck, and a showy brass button of good size was attached; and the garment was then ready to be worn.

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I enshrouded the old dame with the surplice and, as soon as it was buttoned on her, she ran off at full speed, never stopping until she vanished from my sight among the bushes. There, as the sequel proved, she divested herself of the garment, threw it to the winds, and went home in the happy nude state to which she had been accustomed all her days.


CHAPTER 5
TRAIL OF THE SLAVE HUNTER

 

Through the country of Ugogo there runs one of the best known of the old slave routes of Eastern equatorial Africa. The captives secured by the raiders, in the territories east and west of Lake Tanganyika and south of Victoria Nyanza, found their exit mainly through the Ugogo plains, and often when out itinerating we came upon their large caravans.

 

The Arab slave hunters, whose coat of arms is the ‘Forked Stick,' generally entered the Dark Continent on the pretence of legitimate ivory trading, but they always combined the quest of the precious tusk with a traffic in the bodies of men and women. When they reached the distant interior, they usually settled down, as if they were going to remain in a certain district for a lengthened period, constructed their wattle-and-daub huts, cultivated some garden patches and planted their Coast seeds, and, in many ways, sought to ingratiate themselves with the natives around. When the natives brought ivory to their encampment for barter, they readily purchased it with the stock of beads, wire and calico they had brought with them from the Coast.

 

Soon they got into the confidence of the natives, and took particular care to get thoroughly acquainted with all the strife and bickering which existed between the different chiefs. They then offered to one of these contending chieftains the help of their forces and weapons, to enable him to give the insolent neighboring tribe a good thrashing. If the chief took the bait, they made it clear that their valuable assistance was given only on the condition that he aided them in capturing as many slaves as possible of the defeated tribe, while any ivory found in the huts of the enemy would fall into their hands. When the Arabs could not thus entangle the native tribes, or pit the one against the other, they proceeded to act on their own initiative.

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Making their way into the borderland of some weak tribe, and selecting a time when most of the fighting men were absent, raiding or hunting, they stealthily forced their way amidst the thick undergrowth of the forest; and creeping up through the long grass, they suddenly pounced upon the doomed village, as the lion springs upon his prey. Encircling the native settlement, they set fire to the grass huts and, firing their rifles in one great volley, they sought to confuse the inhabitants in perplexing amazement and terror. The poor helpless natives rushed out panic-stricken, and found themselves surrounded by the rifle-armed mob, who captured and disarmed numerous youths and maidens, and as many women and children as they could lay their hands on. The men who dared to attempt resistance or defend their wives were ruthlessly shot down.

 

The hands of the captured were immediately tied behind their backs, and their necks invested with the slave chains or heavy forked sticks, which the porters of the raiders had previously cut in the forest. The little children were rarely bound, for they instinctively clung to their mothers' sides in terror. Oftentimes the smaller children, who were unfit to follow the caravan, were thrown by the Arabs into the smoldering fires of the blazing huts. One of our boys, who was enslaved when about five years of age, saw his younger brother thrown into the flames of the burning hut, which, until that eventful day, had been his home.

 

On the long journey to the Coast, any slave, who through illness or exhaustion, was unable to keep up to the pace of the caravan march, was in some cases removed from the forked stick; and the Arab, with one blow of his tomahawk, split the skull of the incapable slave, as a warning to others not to loiter on the march. Some of the Arabs did not thus end the sufferings of their slaves with the cold steel, but did that which was quite as criminal and atrocious. They loosed from the slave chains these weaklings and threw them aside into the bush without food or water. Either they suffered the indescribable torture of a death from thirst, or were torn to pieces and eaten by wild animals.

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At times, we have come upon some of these poor castaways. One night, while a good many miles away from any human habitation, our small caravan was moving along slowly in the feeble light of a crescent moon, threading their way carefully to avoid the holes and obstacles in the narrow winding path through a thick scrubby forest. My husband suddenly called a halt and stood in a listening attitude. I inquired from him what was the matter, and he replied that he heard a human voice on the left-hand side of the track. We stood motionless for a minute or two, but heard nothing save the wild laugh of the hyena. The men were questioned if they had heard anything like a man's voice, and they replied in the negative. Just as we were about to continue our march, a sound, which was distinctly human, came from the dense bush once again; and my husband determined not to go any further until he had unraveled the mystery of the voice. Our men were frightened and wanted to proceed quickly, thinking that it was a strategy of the "ruga-ruga,'' or waylayers, of the Wahehe tribe, who had evil plots against our lives, and were thus seeking to upset our march, so that they might the more eagerly accomplish their purpose. My husband, however, was unmoved. Calling upon the porters to lay down their loads, he took two or three of the men and very cautiously made his way through the long grass and thorny bush. The ground was so rough and uneven and burrowed by different kinds of wild animals, that it was with difficulty he made his way without stumbling. After proceeding some distance, another groan came from almost beneath his feet and, stooping down, he found the form of a naked woman. He spoke to her in two native languages, but there was no intelligible reply, so he had her placed on the back of one of our porters and brought with the caravan on our homeward way.

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We had yet to cover a distance of about eight miles to reach our station. On arriving at a stream of water by the track, we gave the woman a drink. She was then questioned again in several languages, but could not answer in any of these. Eventually one of our porters, who had travelled a good deal in the interior of the Continent, discovered that he knew something of her language, and spoke to her in that tongue. He elicited from her the fact that she had been taken from her home by the Arab slave raiders, and, having fallen ill on the way, was unable to continue the march to the Coast, and was thrown aside into the jungle.


Many others we have found who had thus been left in the bush, naked and without food or water. Some of these have recovered, while others, though every attention was given, have collapsed and died. One morning, a man and woman came running into our station in a half-demented state. We inquired from them what their trouble was. They told us their story, saying that they were man and wife, who had been enabled to free themselves in the night time from the forked sticks of a slave caravan, and had come to ask us to hide and protect them. My husband said he would not hide them, but would appoint them for work on the station, and promised not to allow anyone to take them away wrongfully.

 

In a few hours, two armed Arabs with a group of followers came upon the scene, and asked if a strange man and woman had been noticed passing that way. My husband replied by asking them where they came from, what they were doing, and what was the relationship between them and the man and woman whom they were seeking. They frankly replied, “Zanzibar is our home. We are 'waana wa Adamu' (sons of Adam), and like all sons of Adam we have to live; and we live by catching slaves." Such was their explanation. My husband entered into a long conversation with them, proving that they had no right to break up the hearths and homes of these people, pitilessly tearing from one another, husband and wife, parent and child. "What would you think," he said, “if I did the same to you, and thrust your necks into the forked sticks, and transported you far from home and kindred into some strange land?"

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He further informed them that the man and woman, whom they were evidently seeking, were engaged as free workers on the station, and that no one would be allowed to lay a finger upon them. They were advised to go and occupy themselves with some work, more in accordance with the will of Him whom they called “Muungu Mwenyiezi “(God Almighty). Their reply came more willingly than was expected from these armed slave raiders, “Inshallah Bwana!” (With the help of God, Master!), and so they saluted and went on their way.

 

In carrying out my share of the Missionary work among the native women, I have often been perplexed and downhearted at the difficulties which the work presented. Humanly speaking, the females of native tribes are harder to reach in their adamantine barbarism than the men, being more conservative in preserving their heathen customs. Were it not for the fact that I have been assured that we are only co-workers with God, my heart would often have failed me. I realized that our duty is to witness for Christ and deliver His message, relying solely upon the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to the hearts of the people. I have many a time thought if I could get a few photographs of the women to send home, they might call forth more prayerful interest in the harvest that has yet to be reaped among the numberless millions of women in native lands. When visiting them I have often tried to get photographs, while they were engaged at their daily tasks, both inside and outside their "tembes" but they were so superstitious that it seemed impossible to accomplish my purpose. I remember one dear old woman, whose photo I very much wanted; and I came upon her one day as she was about to have a smoke. Her pipe, after the manner of the women of the land, was a huge clumsy affair made of a large gourd shell. In the base or bulb of the gourd was inserted a piece of hollow stick, on the top end of which there was fixed a small perforated clay cup, which had been burned in the fire. The latter was the receptacle for the noxious weed. A mouth-hole was cut in the long neck of the gourd, and the bulb half filled with water. On fire being applied to the tobacco cup, the smoke was drawn down the hollow stick and, passing through the water, was freed from much of the poisonous alkaloid before reaching the lips of the smoker.

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I tried to get a photograph of the old lady while she was enjoying her "weed," but she bluntly refused. There were no hand cameras in those days for easy picture-taking. When I set up the tripod, and attached the camera on top, she got very much excited. I said in Chigogo, “Won’t you allow me?” She said, “No! That thing will kill me! " On calling my husband over, he immediately pulled off the cap of the lens and photographed her, and told her it was all finished. She was quite alarmed and said she would surely die. “Yes, you will," said my husband; ”but not till the day appointed." A short time afterwards she was delighted to see her picture, although the photo was not very flattering. The women were wonderfully trustful towards me, and I was afraid to do anything which might interfere in any way with the good relationship which existed between us, either by taking their photographs or clothing them against their wishes. When a baby girl was born to us, all the women were very friendly and fetched presents for both mother and child. The head wife of the chief brought a very fine big sheep for the baby. When she saw the child lying asleep on the bed, she was terrified, and said that I was not to keep her on that high thing else she would be killed, and that I must lay her on the floor.

 

As time passed by, my husband's attacks of fever came with alarming frequency. He was a very active man, and a twenty-five to thirty-five mile march in one day was nothing to him. These attacks of fever had taken all the healthy color out of his face, and given him that peculiar sickly complexion, which continued malarial fever always produces. I myself was also very frequently laid low with fever and had become much enfeebled. Our food was not of a nourishing kind, and we felt very much the need of milk. Cattle were scarce in our district, and the most enticing barter goods we possessed were not attractive enough to secure us a single cow. The domesticated cattle of Central Africa are a species of zebu, with a very prominent hump. They never give much milk, and will not give any unless the calf is allowed to suck. An ordinary zebu gives about two pints in the day, after feeding her calf, but the milk though small in quantity is very rich.

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About fifty miles from our station there were some important villages, which my husband had not yet visited, and where cattle were more plentiful than in our immediate vicinity. He decided to go there and do some itinerating work and, at the same time, try to purchase a couple of cows from the chief of the district.


Having enquired from some natives, who had recently returned from that part of the country, if there were any water on the track, he was informed that a little was to be found about half way across the wilderness. Having chosen five men to accompany him on his journey, he handed to them his camp bed and bedding, some provisions, a few small cooking vessels, and several water flasks for the use of the men and himself. My husband said good-bye to me and started on his way, hoping to reach the water that night.

 

I will give his experience of that day and the next in his own words, which run as follows: — "The sun was very hot on the low wilderness we had to traverse, and at midday the thick forest was as hot as an oven. My own mall water bottle was empty before the afternoon. We plodded along hour after hour very tired and thirsty. How we longed for a drink, fresh from the spring. In some places the ground was cracked with the great heat, and fissures three to six inches wide were visible all along our track. "When the sun went down, we were still some distance from the place where we expected to get water. With accelerated footsteps and quickened energy, we wended our way towards the goal and, just as the night was closing around us, we arrived at the pool where we were hoping to quench our fiery thirst.

 

"To our great surprise and grief there was nothing but mud, in which were the innumerable footprints of wild animals. In the very center of the pool there was a little fluid, of the consistency of thick gruel. One of my men took off his loin cloth and spread it down on the muddy liquid. He then lay down on his face, placed his lips against the cloth, and tried to draw up some water. He was successful in getting a little. The others did likewise, and got a sip of filthy stuff, but I could not touch it. "If I could only have got a half a pint to make a cup of tea, I should have had some tea and biscuit, but I dare not eat the dry biscuit alone fearing the thirst might increase.” Darkness was upon us and we were compelled to seek a place of safety. Groping about, we came upon a small dense thicket. We forced a passage into this and made a fire at the entrance to keep the lions out; weary, tired and suffering intensely from thirst, we lay down in this thicket to rest. Eventually we were overcome by sleep, and thirst for the time being was forgotten. "About the middle of the night, we were awakened by a lion springing on his prey behind our retreat. We could hear the struggle for some time, and then all was silent, and once more we were unconscious of our condition and surroundings.

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"In the cool of the early dawn we felt somewhat refreshed and started, once again, on our way. As we went along, I swept the dewdrops from the leaves, and the water thus collected slightly satisfied my thirst. When the sun got higher in the heavens, I was quite weakened, and unable to continue marching. I asked my men to cut down a pole in the forest and tie my blanket to it in the form of a hammock, in which to carry me. This they did: but being themselves weakened by thirst, they could only bear me a short distance before collapsing. "I realized that something must be done, and that quickly, else we should all perish. Lifting up my heart to God for guidance, I got the men to sit down with me to talk the matter over and see what might be done.

 

"Thirty miles lay between us and our station, therefore to retrace our steps was an impossibility. Twenty miles ahead of us was our nearest water. I directed two of the strongest men to take the water vessels, and press forward with all the speed they could, until they reached the water; and, after quenching their own thirst, they were to fill the water bottles and return immediately to us, while we, on our part, were to seek by small stages to meet them half way to the water.

 

"The two men departed, promising to carry out their instructions faithfully. When we had rested a little, I rose to my feet and we went on slowly together for about five or six hundred yards. Then, after lying down awhile to rest, we again proceeded another few hundred yards. Thus stage after stage was made, until the sun was high in the heavens, gleaming in all his tropical fury. As the hours passed away, the intense agony of thirst became more severe, the mouth foaming, while the tongue clave to the palate, so that I could only speak with great difficulty. Eventually I could not make more than about one hundred yards at a time, with the aid of one of the men, who partially supported me. On my body I retained only an under vest and pants, so that I might lose as little moisture as possible by perspiration. At last I realized that the climax had come. To the native, who kept close by me all the time, I said as plainly as I could, 'Sudi, I can go no further. If the men do not bring water here, I die.' I threw myself down under the partial shade, which a great baobab tree afforded and, stretching out my hands to the burning heavens, I prayed to God for one drop of rain to cool my feverish body.

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While I was praying, a little cloud appeared in the heavens. Borne by some God-directed wind, it came directly over where I was lying, and instantly there fell a few big heavy drops. My vest I pulled wide open, so that they might fall on my heated chest. The drops increased in number until there was a little shower of rain. I opened my mouth and thrust out my tongue to catch the precious fluid. In about five minutes or less the cloud was emptied, but I was strengthened. My under vest and pants were quite wet on one side. I got up and felt much better. I said to Sudi, 'Do you see what God has done for us?' 'Yes Sir I see it,' came his response. I was then able to proceed in short stages all the afternoon until sundown, when I met my two faithful porters loaded with their water vessels. My husband has had some wonderful providential deliverance, when out in the inhospitable forest, and on this occasion the Lord marvelously intervened on his behalf and his life was spared.

 

After reaching the village of the chief of the district and getting a day's rest, he had a very profitable time with the people. They had never had a Missionary in their district before, and a great opportunity was given of declaring unto them the revelation of God's love in Christ Jesus. The chieftain was apparently favorably disposed towards my husband and gave him the present of a sheep. On the following day, the chief and about two hundred of his people visited my husband's camp, when he addressed them and delivered to them, once again, the message of eternal life through the world's Redeemer. He told them that if they had any questions to ask he would be glad to do his best to answer them.

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They evidently imagined that he was some great rain doctor, for the first question they put was, "Why do you keep the rain away? We know it would not be good for your camp, because your blankets would get wet, but look at our gardens in the forest, how much they need the rain."

 

Their reason for asking this question was not quite clear to my husband for a moment. Remembering that on the previous day a shower of rain had fallen on the distant hills, and had not reached the valley, in which the native villages and his own camp were located, he realized the purpose of their question. They evidently imagined that he had some great power over the elements and had kept the rain back to preserve his bedding, as he had no tent with him, and was lying out unprotected in the open jungle. He told them that he had no power whatever over the rainfall, neither had any of their own rain doctors, but that God alone controlled those matters, sending His rain upon the just and the unjust. After some further questions about God's revelation to man, the crowd quietly dispersed.

 

My husband then told the chief that he had brought some cloth, copper wire and beads with which to purchase two milch cows. In the language of Ephron to Abraham regarding the field of Machpelah, the chief replied, “The price of a cow, what is that betwixt me and thee? I shall give thee one." My husband, however, would not take one as a gift, but asked him to name the number of strings of beads, rings of wire, and pieces of calico he required for two cows. After half an hour's talk, the number was agreed upon, and the necessary barter goods were accordingly counted out and handed ever to the chief, who had selected two very good cows, with calves. As it was then getting late in the afternoon, my husband and his men struck camp, the water bottles were filled, and with many good wishes from the natives they started on their homeward journey. After two hours' march into the uninhabited forest, they camped for the night.

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The following day they were on the track betimes and, ere the sun was high, had covered a good part of the waterless tract of wilderness, which had for them such painful memories. That night they camped in the vicinity of the dreaded Wahehe tribe, who were continually hiding in ambush in the thick portions of the forest, where they sought to surprise, murder and rob the passing caravans. They were the most treacherous tribe in those parts. Some Missionaries have had their porters murdered by these bloodthirsty natives.

 

The five porters kept a sharp watch all night, never daring to close their eyes in sleep, for they knew what the prize of a couple of cows was worth, in the estimation of the Wahehe warriors. Two or three times during the night the men were in a state of alarm, for when they heard a wild animal rushing through the bushes after its prey, they thought that the enemy was upon them, and awoke my husband in their alarm. The night was passed in safety, however, although numerous human footprints were discovered in the vicinity of the camp.

 

At the break of dawn, a final start was made for the Mission Station; and at noon some natives came to tell me that the master was returning. As the little caravan approached the house, I noticed that my husband was terribly worn and thin, and I realized, before I heard his story, that our milk had been purchased at a heavy price.

 

CHAPTER 6
DENIZENS OF THE FOREST

 

During my husband's absence from the station we had quite an invasion of baboons. A piece of ground in front of our house had been cultivated and planted with maize, which was just then in wonderful condition, and the cobs well filled with milky grain. We had often seen a few monkeys in the trees bordering the garden, which had evidently come as spies to find out if the corn was yet ripe; but we did not pay much attention to them.

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There were many species of monkeys in the district, and we quite enjoyed seeing them running up and down, and swinging on the branches of the trees, on either side of the stream which tumbled down past our house.

 

Further back in the forest, were colonies of large, ferocious baboons, which were a continual source of danger to the natives, having often attacked and killed defenseless women, by seizing them in their powerful arms and burying their sharp-edged teeth in the necks of their victims. These baboons were most accomplished thieves, and the native gardens suffered much from their plundering raids.

 

One day, the cook rushed in and told me that a herd of them were in our maize garden. I told him to go and chase them away, but he said they would not go unless he had a spear or bow and arrows. These he took; but when he approached the first animal — a monstrous male — the very look of its face, and its determined attitude, struck terror into his heart and he fled hastily.

 

When I went unto the verandah of the house, I saw that a large number of the older and more experienced ones were busy breaking off the cobs of corn, and dropping them over the thorny fence to their companions, who quickly gathered up the spoil. Several alert sentinels had been posted on the fence, at different points of advantage, to give warning of the approach of danger. Not until they were satisfied that they could carry no more, and the guards had sounded a retreat, did they quietly move out of the garden and run off through the forest with their pickings.

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Some time later, when my husband had returned to the station, they came once again in large numbers, and he immediately shot one of the most daring of the invaders, after which we had no further trouble. The natives said that the baboons had told all their friends about the power of the master's rifle, and had warned them not to return.

 

The smaller kinds of monkeys were very entertaining and frolicsome. One very handsome bearded species used to mount our milch cows, and seemed to enjoy the ride very much, quite heedless of the cow's discomfort and fright, as she ran around seeking to get rid of her load.

 

Due to the number of wild animals of different kinds which prowled around our house at night, I suffered very much from sleeplessness, although they never disturbed my husband in the slightest; in fact, their varied sounds seemed to him but a lullaby.

 

Lions and leopards were very abundant in the endless wilds around, and frequently came near to our home. The leopards made much less noise than the lions, but I heard them grunting and growling as they passed nightly along our verandah. Our doors and windows were not very safe, having neither locks nor hinges. They were made of reeds lashed closely together, and could offer no resistance to the stroke of a leopard's paw.

 

The howl of the hyena was the most frequent of all night-time sounds, while the booming and fear instilling roar of the Hon roused my mind, at times, to sleepless activity.

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As a rule, the lion roars only after seizing his victim, and very seldom when going about in search of prey.


The prophet Amos asks the question, "Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den if he has caught nothing?" The answer is obvious. The quiet approach of the King of Beasts, in which he is aided by his cushioned paws, is as noiseless as that of a snake; and, when near to the dwellings of men, he springs upon the prey and devours it without uttering a single sound.

 

When, however, he finds himself outside the boundary line of the odor of mankind, the moment he springs upon the prey he gives forth a terrific bellow which seems to shake the earth.

 

There is no doubt whatever that on exceptional occasions, the terror inspiring roar is a great aid to him in his predatory exploits. When he has slyly stalked, in the darkness of the night, a herd of antelopes on a shrubless plain, drawing as near as the existing cover will allow, and finding the game already startled by the feline odor, he then lowers his muzzle to the earth, and gives forth that deep roar which, once heard, can never be forgotten, as it echoes among the rolling flat terrain and nearby hills.

 

The startled animals become panic-stricken and confused, not knowing from whence the sound proceeds. In their anxiety they run hither and thither, and unguardedly rush towards the lurking lion, when the fatal leap of the seasoned foe brings the prey to earth; and then a few sharply-repeated roars is the signal for the lioness and her cubs to come to feast.

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Leopards were very plenteous in the district of Viangi, and were our most cunning and troublesome carnivores. They carried away our two young heifers in the light of day, from within fifty yards of the house. So persistent were they in their exploits, that my husband found it necessary to lay a trap for them, so as to lessen their number. He got the natives to build a hut with heavy trees; and at one end of it was made a strong and secure cage for a goat, which was to be used as a lure for the leopard. At the entrance to the hut was placed a large steel trap, with a strong chain attached, which was fastened to an adjoining tree. The trap was covered with leaves and dry grass to simulate the surface of the ground.

 

On the following morning at grey dawn, we heard a noise in the vicinity of the trap and my husband rushed out with his rifle. As he approached the place, he saw a huge leopard with his head projecting out of the hut. The moment the leopard caught sight of the approaching human figure, he gave a terrific roar, which caused me to jump out of bed. I immediately heard the crack of the rifle, and then all was still.

 

At the moment of the roar the leopard made a violent jump to reach my husband, who instantly fired; and the beast dropped stone dead, shot through the heart. The force of the spring broke a link in the heavy iron chain which secured the trap, so that, if the leopard had not been shot dead on the leap, my husband would have been torn to pieces that moment.

 

We had two Arabian riding donkeys on the station, which we valued very much for our itinerating work among the villages during the rainy season, when numerous gullies among the hills were difficult to cross. They were also of great service when we were convalescent and weak from attacks of malarial fever.

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We had a small shed for them, made of forest trees; but not having any hinges for the door, it was fastened only with a crossbar. The donkeys became quite skillful in removing this bar with their nose, so that the door fell inwards, and they were thus able to make their way out to pasture at will.

 

These donkeys would never leave their stall at night, as they were evidently conscious of the danger that existed from lions during the hours of darkness. One night, however, when the moon was in her last quarter, I suppose they mistook the late moonlight for the early dawn, and, opening the door, they made their way out. In the morning only one donkey was to be seen, and, down in the long grass near to the river bed, was found the carcass of the other, still warm.

 

A lion had killed the animal early in the morning and, tearing open the abdomen, had devoured the intestines and internal organs, which always seem to be tidbits relished most by carnivores, and of which they partake before touching the carcass. Daylight had evidently come too early upon him, and he had shied away to his lair unsatiated, leaving the donkey almost intact.

 

Knowing that the lion was likely to come back for the carcass at the return of darkness, my husband determined to sit up and wait for him during the night. Within a few yards of the spot where the dead donkey lay, there was a tree running up unbranched for about twelve feet from the ground. The lowest limb of the tree offered a seat, not too comfortable, but still out of reach of the spring of a wounded lion, and my husband elected to take advantage of this, and there wait for the King of Beasts. He arranged to ascend by means of a small rough ladder made of saplings, placed against the tree, so that after climbing with his rifle the ladder could be withdrawn.

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As the sun disappeared that day in the west, we were sitting down to our evening meal; and, inasmuch as at the equator darkness follows immediately after the disc of the sun has sunk below the horizon, my husband quickly finished his meal. Taking a lighted candle lantern in his hand, he hastened towards the carcass, which was lying by the side of the river bed, calling out to one of his men to follow quickly with the rifle and cartridge bag.

 

Pushing his way alone through the long reed grass, which was about six feet high, he heard, some distance in front of him, a peculiar sound; and, thinking that some of his native men had taken upon themselves to change the position of the carcass, he proceeded unarmed to the spot from which the sound emanated; and, raising the lantern, he found himself in the very presence of the lion, who had already returned for his plunder and was carrying away the animal in his mouth.

 

The moment the light of the lantern fell upon his glaring eyeballs, he dropped the carcass and bounded away. In this case, as in many others, the light of a lamp proved to be an efficient protection to human life, as it blinded the dilated pupils of the lion's eyes, which nature had constructed for night-time vision. Against these fierce and predatory animals, the blazing light of a camp fire is an adequate defense for the European and his weary porters, who sleep encircled around it.

 

The monotony of our lonely life in the jungle was not only broken by the depredations and exploits of leopards and lions, but occasionally by the more welcome arrival of mail from Europe.

 

Those who dwell at home, near to shops and markets, and within the area of postal deliveries, can hardly conceive what it means in this postless and shopless land to have to order goods twelve to eighteen months before they are required; and when dispatching a letter to catch some home-going steamer, half a year must go by before a reply can be received.

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Our Mission agents at Zanzibar sent up country a mail caravan, consisting of a number of rifle-armed Coastmen, carrying a small bag of letters, about a dozen times every year. As the time drew near for these mailmen to arrive at the isolated stations of the interior, the eagerness with which the Missionaries awaited news of the outer world can readily be imagined. It was the custom for these runners to fire a volley from their rifles as they approached the Mission station, to herald their own arrival. There was then considerable strained, nervous expectation until the contents of the mail bag were disclosed.

 

With similar desire we looked for a caravan bearing our much needed supplies, but oftentimes the unpacking brought with it much disappointment. No doubt the goods had been carefully packed in London in good order, but alas, in what a deplorable condition they were often received in the heart of Africa! We open a tin of flour; and it is so full of grubs that we are in doubt as to whether the greater portion is animal or vegetable matter. We turn out the contents on a sheet of linen, carry it into the sun, and there find our tin of flour literally crawling away.

 

Another box is opened; and we find an empty syrup tin, while every package of goods in the same case is besmeared and soaked with the former contents of the empty container.

 

A case containing tea and sugar, which, with its carrier, has fallen into one of the many swamps en route, is now opened. Whatever sugar remains still retains some of its sweetness, but it has acquired many flavors besides, while the tea is covered with mold and is already growing a beard.

 

We find that a wooden box containing boots and clothing has been eaten during a single night, and portions of the contents completely destroyed. A box of haberdashery and underclothing has been dropped in the water while its carrier was fording a rushing stream. The needles, pins and scissors are corroded by rust, and the clothing covered with mildew.

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We once thought how beneficial it would be to have a few English potatoes for planting purposes, in case they might thrive in our climate, and an order was sent to London for twenty-eight pounds of seed. Contrary to instructions, they were sent out in a zinc-lined case, which weighed an additional twenty-eight pounds. When the package arrived with some other goods, a native who attempted to open it was struck with fright, for, on thrusting the box opener into the air-tight lining of zinc, he heard a loud explosion. The odor was so extremely offensive that box and contents had both alike to be buried.

 

To be harassed or discouraged by such incidents as these is to be unfitted for living in the wilds of Equatorial Africa. One must "take joyfully the spoiling of their goods." It is probable, however, that in some cases the lives of Missionares have been shortened by the privations endured, the disappointments experienced, and the lack of suitable nourishment.

 

We often pitied our few natives who lived with us on the Station, as they had far less variety of food than the natives of the surrounding tribe. They begged of my husband to go and shoot some meat for them, which he promised to do. The larger antelopes do not make their way far into the thick bush, but confine themselves to open grassy plains, and the forest nearby to these feeding places. It was ten hours' march through thick jungle to the nearest place where these animals were to be found in numbers. My husband and his men started one morning and arrived at the rendezvous of the game in the evening, and there pitched their tents.

 

The following day, an eland and a zebra fell to the shot of the rifle, and my husband dispatched two men with a leg of the meat and a message for me. In about an hour's time one of the carriers was seen returning to camp. Catching sight of him in the distance, my husband noticed a spear in his hand, and knew that something must be wrong, for our men never carried spears. He went forward to meet him; and, as he approached, it could be seen that the man was utterly exhausted and his body all bleeding and torn. He told his story.

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As the two men were proceeding on their way, about half an hour's march from camp, there suddenly sprang out of the bush, a short distance in front of them, about ten ruga-ruga of the Wahehe tribe, and the same number at their rear, who simultaneously launched their spears at them. Our porters called out that they belonged to the Mzungu (White man), but the spears came thick and fast all the same.

 

The leg of meat was thrown down and the man, who afterwards managed to return to camp, immediately rushed for the thick bush, on the side of the track on which the camp was pitched. In doing so, a spear passed through his loincloth, grazing the flesh, and dropped a few yards in front of him. This he instinctively picked up for defense, in case he were brought to bay by his pursuers. He crawled through the densest part of the thorny bushes which studded the undergrowth of the forest, followed by the ruga-ruga at his heels.

 

This man himself had once been a highway murderer among his own tribe, and knew the only strategy which might save his life. He wormed himself in and out through the thorny thicket in serpentine fashion, until his pursuers gave up the chase; and then he moved on as rapidly as his legs could carry him, towards the camp, where he arrived with his body bleeding and lacerated by the stout prickles of the bushes, through which he had made his escape.

 

"And what about your friend?" My husband anxiously asked; but the man could give no information as to what had become of him. Determined to try to save the life of the missing porter, my husband rushed to the tent for his rifle and cartridge bag. Leaving his few men in charge of the camp, with instructions to keep a sharp lookout for the enemy, he took the wounded native with him, so that he might point out the place where they had been attacked.

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When they had made their way along the track through the bush for about half an hour, my husband turned round and found that his man was shaking with terror, and his eyes seemed starting from their sockets, as he glanced from side to side. He then said, in a low, quivering voice, that they were now getting near to the place. Moving quietly and cautiously along a short distance further in oppressive silence, the man whispered, "This is the spot."

 

They crouched down and carefully scanned each bush within the range of their vision. There was no movement of twig or leaf, and not a sound to be heard but the beating of their own hearts.

 

My husband then put his magazine rifle to his shoulder, and fired several shots in quick succession, hoping thereby to startle any ruga-ruga who might be under cover in the vicinity. There was, however, no response, except the resounding echoes through the forest of the report of the repeating rifle.

 

They both looked about to see if they could discern any smoke through the openings in the thick bush, where the waylayers might be roasting the meat they had taken as booty; but of this there was no visible sign, nor could they find anywhere a trace of fire or smoldering embers.

 

Just as they were about to come away, my husband noticed in the grass, not far from where he stood, something like the exposed root of an ebony tree. He went forward to look at it more closely: and there was his faithful man lying on his back, dead, with three spear wounds in his chest. He stooped down and kissed his brow, and with a heavy burdened heart returned to camp.

 

At first he thought it unwise to tell his men what had happened, lest they should be afraid to return through the thick forest where the murder had been committed, and flee from the camp in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, he was eventually convinced that, whatever the men might be led to do, it would be wiser to tell them the whole story. Calling the men together, he said to them in their own language, "My children, your brother has been murdered by the Wahehe in the forest. I saw his dead body with three spear wounds in his breast. My duty is now to endeavor, with the help of God, to take you safely home, and not remain any longer in this district, where your lives are in great danger from these bloodthirsty men.

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"You must not take any of this meat with you, which has cost the life of your comrade. We have no tools with which to dig a grave for the body now lying in the bush. That, however, is a matter of very little importance. We know that he has gone to be with the Savior, whom he had learned to trust and love, for, as you know, just five days ago in the presence of you all he testified that Christ had saved him.

 

"You will now leave our camp and we shall return. Although darkness will soon be upon us, we can make our way slowly through the night and reach home in the morning."

 

They unanimously exclaimed, "Sir! surely you do not mean to return by the very path through the forest, where our friend has met his death? "My husband, however, persisted in his determination, and explained to them that if they went many hours further round, by some unknown track, they might only meet with a larger band of murderers. They pleaded with him that they might rest that night and retrace their steps homeward the next day, by daylight. My husband told them that, when man was their foe, it was much safer to travel by night, since they could then see in the distance the glare of the enemy's camp fire, and avoid the onslaught; while in the daytime they might fall into the ambush of the waylayers at any moment, as had been the case with their friend.

 

This explanation satisfied them. The tent was immediately taken down, and the few camp items packed into convenient loads, and off they started into the dark jungle, not knowing what the end might be. As they passed by the place where the body of their comrade lay, the whole caravan were trembling with fear; but as hour after hour elapsed, and they gradually left behind them the territory of the Wahehe, they breathed more freely. Nevertheless, they kept a sharp watch, for, having no light of any kind, they were in considerable danger of being attacked by lions and leopards.

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Towards morning they had a little faint moonlight, from an expiring moon, and, as they wended their way along the zigzag path in the bush, my husband, who was in front of the men, caught sight of some moving object in the distance, which he supposed to be one of the forward scouts of a marauding band. In a moment the figure was covered by the muzzle of the rifle and, preparing to fire, he called out, "Who's that?" and a well-known voice replied, "Baruti."

 

I had sent Baruti away before dawn to take to my husband some prepared food and a little milk, and return to me with news of the camp. The little caravan reached home in the early morning, and when I heard the news about the loss of our man, I could not help weeping bitterly, though thankful to God that my husband and the rest of his men had been piloted safely through that wild and unsafe district.

 

CHAPTER 7
DIFFICULTY OF CONQUEST AND PROBLEM OF PUNISHMENT

 

Soon following the return of my husband and his men from Uhehe, we had a memorial service for the man who had fallen a victim in the forest to the spears of the natives. Only the Sunday before did the young man give his heart to Jesus, when my husband was speaking on the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of the third chapter of the Gospel by John: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in Him have eternal life." As he was closing, he gave an opportunity to those who had accepted of Christ during the meeting to testify before the others. This young man, who was afterwards so suddenly struck down without a moment's warning, then boldly made known his faith in Jesus.

 

At the memorial service we had a very solemn assembly. A larger number than usual came together, and a deep hush rested upon the meeting, at which we had reason to believe that three or four other men decided for God, and found in Christ a present Savior. The subject was, "Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." My husband dwelt upon the uncertainty of life, and the urgent necessity for each one to be fully prepared at any moment to enter into the presence of God.

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On that day, prayers ascended to Heaven from semi-wild hearts for the Wahehe people, who had taken the life of their comrade. We ourselves had often thought of this tribe, and prayed that God might be pleased to open the way for Missionaries to enter their country, and carry to them the message of salvation. They had oftentimes been engaged in deadly contest with the Wahumba, another clan who were as fierce and bloodthirsty as themselves.

 

We once visited a district where these two rival tribes had been engaged in an annihilating encounter. There, in a delightful park-like open glade, which, for natural beauty, could scarcely be surpassed in any land, the ground was literally covered with human skulls and bones. As we stood on the tender carpet of green grass, gazing in horrible bewilderment, we could not but think of the words of the poet, "How that red rain (ie..of blood) hath made the harvest grow."

 

In the midst of this field of human slaughter, there appeared a beautiful spotted giraffe, silhouetted against the mimosa trees, which spread their feathery branches in that enchanting landscape. This fairy-like form seemed to me as an angel looking down upon the terrible scene of bloodshed, and I wondered how so pure and harmless a creature could stand in the presence of such a golgotha.

 

What anguish, what piercing cries and dying groans filled the mild air on that sad day of fatal conflict. Some years later, when the German Government entered that country, and took over the territory as a Protectorate, they had a great deal of trouble with the Wahehe tribe. On one occasion a great disaster took place, when a large body of men were wiped out of existence through the wily stratagy of these spearmen. A military caravan of five hundred armed Coast porters, under the command of seventeen German officers, with a machine gun, was passing along through the interior, not very far from where our man was murdered, when they noticed a body of young Wahehe running towards them, with their spears ready to launch. These junior warriors rushed on throughout the whole length of the caravan, slaying as many of the men as stood within their reach, and completely disorganizing the main body of the caravan, before the German leaders had time to grasp the situation.

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This attack was evidently made as a deception, to tempt the Germans to pursue them, for, no sooner had they passed through the length of the caravan, than they kept on their course right ahead. The Germans, imagining that the attack was over, and determining to revenge the treacherous slaughter of their porters, gave orders to follow up the retreating foe.

 

While thus busy, another band of old warriors came on with eagerness and attacked them in the rear, and pressed forward through the caravan, dealing death and destruction as they went; and eventually joined hands with the youths who had struck the first blow. The few remaining Germans were in utter alarm, and could not use their machine gun, owing to the confusion of the fight, lest they should kill many of their own men while seeking to cut down the enemy. Just then, there burst upon their view a sight which removed the last hope of escape from the heart of every living man in that military caravan. Another band of the professional warriors of the tribe — men of from twenty to thirty years of age — came driving forward with an suddenness which nothing could resist. The machine gun was only then brought into use, and for a minute or two the oncoming natives were mowed down, but those behind leaped over the dead bodies of their comrades, and rushed to where the remnant of the caravan stood, behind the machine gun.

 

The few Europeans now left alive, seeing that death stared them in the face, made a hasty attempt to flee to the cover of the thick bush; but only three solitary individuals succeeded in reaching it and finally making their escape. The rank and file of the five hundred men lay steeped in their own blood.

 

Darkest Africa! In the years gone by, what brutal bloodshed and slaughter have stained thy fair landscapes! Praise to the Almighty, thy redemption draweth nigh, for even now Ethiopia is stretching out her hands unto God.

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Already in many districts, which were the abode of inconceivable tortures and fearful cruelty, and where the clash of spears constantly resounded through the forest, there rises today the song of men who have entered into that freedom wherewith Christ hath made His people free.

 

Due to the advent of German and other European Governments in Central Africa, and the necessity of employing innumerable caravans, of hundreds of thousands of porters, the question of the treatment of the natives by the "White invader" has become one of no less than European importance.

 

Among the representatives of the different Governments and the Missionaries of different nationalities, there are many and very varied opinions as to the proper treatment of the natives.

 

Few are the travelers who have penetrated the interior of Africa with a native caravan, who have not been greatly troubled, at times, by the insubordination of their porters. All the great Missionary travelers and explorers alike have suffered in this respect. The iron heart of Livingstone was often crushed at critical moments by the abandonment of his followers, who fled, leaving him comparatively helpless and upsetting his projects. The late Bishop Hannington, on his last journey wrote, "Desertion, treachery and a few other nightmares and furies hover over our heads in ghostly forms."

 

There is no doubt whatever that disobedience and desertion on the part of the natives, when on the march through Africa, may not only frustrate the object of the expedition, but endanger the life of the European and those of the caravan. Hence it is a matter of vital importance to know how best to treat an aggressive spirit of disobedience, when it is first manifested, and nip it in the bud.

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The heroic Hannington found it necessary, in his estimation, to snatch firebrands from the camp fire and throw them at the disobedient porters, who stubbornly refused to take up their loads and move out of camp: and Hannington was one of the most just and tender-hearted men that ever entered the Continent.

 

Another Missionary with whom we travelled, and one who was much liked by the porters, has often raised his toe to propel (ie..kick in the backside) a native towards the task which he had refused to perform. When on the march, one day, with this friend, we got into camp some time after darkness had set in.

 

One unaccustomed to travelling can barely imagine the amount of trouble and work involved in getting the camp into order, and all arranged for its well-being and safety, and this in the darkness of the night. The leader cannot then see his men and control and direct their movements as in daylight. Concealed by the darkness, the lazier members of the caravan often lie under the trees and get out of their duty, leaving the burden of the work to devolve upon the more willing hands. Tents must be pitched, firewood brought from the surrounding forest, water drawn for the use of the camp, loads stacked, and fires kindled as a defense against the wild beasts of the forest.

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On this occasion our men had worked splendidly, and our camp was in perfect order for the night. Our Missionary companion, however, had not been so successful with his quarter of the camp, owing to the unwillingness and laziness of his porters. He had no water, although two men had been ordered to draw some at a pool, which was but a bowshot from the camp. When the water should have been brought in, and everything ready for the night, these two fellows were found sitting at a fire made by other hands, quite regardless of the command and immediate needs of their leader. The Missionary, becoming aware of their disobedience, rushed at the two insubordinates; and, as they took the erect posture, he dealt to each respectively a toe kick, which was of such a persuasive character that the necessary water was brought to camp in less than no time.

 

It is absolutely impossible for a European, who has never traversed the wilds of Central Africa with a caravan of semi-wild men, to rightly judge of the actions of these and other travelers, under conditions of which so little is known.

 

On that night in camp, after all had partaken of their evening meal, and our Missionary friend joined my husband in speaking to those men around the camp fire of the redemption and eternal life, which has been purchased for us by Christ Jesus, none were more attentive listeners than those two men, who had been so suddenly punished for their disobedience. Whatever others may think, they evidently considered that the chastisement was just, and the administration of it, to them at least, quite natural.

 

I knew one Missionary who, when he entered Africa for the first time, was so compassionate towards the natives, that he could not bear to see them sweltering under the burdens which they were carrying for him, and alternately relieved one porter after another by carrying their load on his own shoulder. That man was so unsuccessful in his work as a Missionary, that after some years he gave it up altogether.

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When we were entering Equatorial Africa, over a quarter of a century ago, there was put into our hands by the Society, under whose sponsorship we were about to work, a printed leaflet of recommendations to Missionaries, as to how to act towards the natives in various circumstances. Under the heading of "Punishments," the booklet stated, "Stopping men's pay is not much good as the Native African does not look forward. Stopping their 'posho' (or food) when not actually on the march, and flogging in extreme cases are best." These recommendations were not formulated by the Home Committee of the Society, but only temporarily adopted from the reports of Missionaries, who had already traveled in the interior.

 

It is a most unreasonable proposal, however, to stop the "posho" or food of men, who are engaged in carrying one's loads up into the interior of a wild and inhospitable country; and especially so when it is considered that these men only eat once a day, and that at night, after their day's work is done. From the humane standpoint, the suggestion is heartless and cruel, while, looking at it from the point of utility, it would seem that willingly to adopt a course which would weaken the porters, on whom the traveler's life and the transport of his goods depend, would only be a repetition of the folly of killing the goose which lays the golden eggs.

 

With regard to the matter of beating the natives, the most eminent travelers in Africa agree that corporal punishment is inevitable in any caravan. One of the latest writers, who has emphatically reiterated the necessity of flogging, is Duke Adolphus Frederick of Mecklenburg, cousin to the German Empress.

 

In his important volume recently published, he says, “Now it is sufficiently well known that travelling in Africa is impossible without the maintenance of the strictest discipline and the use of flogging as a punishment for disobedience. This is the experience of all those who have traveled with a large safari (caravan) for any length of time. Where the leader is not empowered to punish the offender as he merits, there the discipline which is absolutely essential in any caravan, as well as the authority of the leader, speedily disappears. It is only the white man who has never travelled alone with a large caravan, absolutely dependent on his own force of will, that can fail to recognize this fact."

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Then the Duke asks the question, "Is a European to blame who flogs his porters, when he is driven to despair by their insubordination?” After the experience of a quarter of a century, in traveling with my husband through the wilds of Africa, I must say that I entirely disagree with the idea that beating is inevitable in dealing either with caravan porters, or the far more stubborn natives of the interior. I believe that it has an obdurate and degrading effect upon the character of the native, making him more angry, revengeful and treacherous, and generating in him a determination to more fully succeed in perpetrating that for which he was flogged.

 

I am sure that the man who throws a firebrand at a native, in the moment of a breach of duty or violation of a command, is much nearer to the more successful mode of dealing with these grown-up children of Africa, than the man who deprives a porter of his food, or stoically ties him up and administers a flogging. The short, sharp, though somewhat blustering punishment of the one, which comes momentarily and unexpectedly in the very nick of time, has a telling effect upon the offender, while the justice given by the other is neither improving the natives, nor the traveler's reputation among them. The infliction of the latter may be judicial but is far from judicious.

 

The motive governing the action of every caravan leader in punishing the native offender, should spring from that uncontaminated source, which is clearly described in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, in the section known as the thirteenth chapter. There Paul brings us to the fountain head of Love, from which issues every just and righteous action — a love which knows neither pretence nor dissimulation, which generates a sense of justice tempered with mercy, fearing no foe and favoring no friend, which suffereth long and is kind, which does not behave itself unseemly and seeketh not its own.

 

The intelligent Bantu native of the Equatorial Belt utterly despises the foolishness of the indiscreet European beginner, who attempts to carry his load; and has nothing but contempt for the silly attentions of those who would assay to feed him on Huntley & Palmer's biscuits and Tate's cube sugar.

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Unswerving justice, stable decency and Christlike love, these are the features of character which the natives admire and which exert a far-reaching influence over their minds and hearts. The man who can administer a brisk and righteous warning to a native one minute, and be just the same cheery, joyful leader, father and friend the next, is the man who has an ever-open door into the heart of the African native.

 

CHAPTER 8
HOPES SHATTERED AND REVIVED

 

Our work in the district of Viangi became more frequently interrupted with attacks of malarial fever, which greatly reduced my husband's strength. Inasmuch as the time was drawing near for our return to England, he was anxious to get a riding donkey, as he was quite unfit for long journeys through swamp and rugged forest.

 

I, too, was in a very weakened condition and unable to march with the caravan. However, since my riding donkey had been killed by a lion, I had become more accustomed to the use of the hammock in all our long marches, and I purposed using this on our prospective journey down country.

 

My husband was fortunate enough to meet, one day, with a caravan, which was passing near to our station on its way to the Coast, in which there was a large native donkey. He proposed purchasing it, but the owner who was proceeding to Zanzibar offered him the use of it, saying that he could return it on reaching the Coast; but if the animal died on the way, no matter. These were the only conditions on which my husband could get the donkey, and he gratefully accepted the help.

 

There was a great deal of trouble breaking in this wild donkey and when my husband got on its back it took two men to hold it; but after a short time it was trained to a reasonable condition for riding. To test the animal, he rode it for a short journey of about sixteen miles, in paying a farewell visit to some of the native villages. In coming back at night his few followers were lingering in the rear, and, drawing in the reins of his donkey for a moment, and turning round in the saddle, he gave a shrill whistle to call them forward.

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The donkey, on hearing the whistle, made a violent leap sideways, and threw my husband off, causing a severe bruise of the ribs. He was able to mount again and reach home that night, but did not sleep, as breathing was very painful.

 

I asked him to wait for a few days before starting on the march down country, but he did not think it necessary to postpone our departure. All arrangements, therefore, were completed for our journey to the Coast. A caravan bringing up goods into the interior had already arrived at Mpwapwa, and it had been arranged that we should go down country with these men on their return journey. Kind letters of affectionate goodbye came in from the other Missionaries in the district. One of them, the Rev. H. Cole, who had narrowly escaped death, having been gored by a buffalo while out shooting some meat for his camp, wrote from his bed of suffering.

 

My dear Mr. Watt,

It is very hard to say good-bye to you. To have to do so gives me much uchungu (bitterness) of heart. In Central Africa we much need wholehearted men like you. May God's blessing rest upon you wherever you go is our earnest prayer. There is a place where spirits meet, Behold, 'tis at the Mercy Seat.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) H. Cole.

 

My husband passed another restless and sleepless night, but decisively determined that the caravan should start and proceed on its way that day. The men, who had just arrived from the Coast, and who were to return with us, brought news which gave me much concern. They said that about two days' march from our station, there were a great many Wahumba warriors, who had been out raiding; and that, to escape them on the way up country, they had been obliged to travel all night. They seemed to be in a state of great fear, and were afraid to go back by the same track. To tranquilize their minds, my husband arranged to start by a different path, through another region of the country, to avoid the violent marauders.

 

A short time before setting out, when the men were tying up their loads on the verandah, one of them placed his loaded rifle against the wall of the house. During the handling of their burdens, this rifle was knocked down and, in falling, the hammer came into such violent contact with the floor, that the rifle was fired. The bullet went through the mud wall of the Mission house, and then, whizzing past me, entered the second wall of the room, immediately behind my head. We were thankful to God for such a narrow escape at the very beginning of our journey.

 

After some time of prayer, asking God's gracious blessing on the work we were leaving behind, and seeking His protection for our lives and those of our caravan on the way down country, we said goodbye to the natives, who were lined in numbers along our track. Taking a farewell glance at the station buildings which we had built, and which our friends Dr. and Mrs. Pruen were to occupy, we started on our long march. Very soon we were in the forward part of the caravan directing the men, as they were unfamiliar with the country through which we were to pass.

 

It was a great pleasure to us to have with us five of the natives who had been converted to God at Viangi. They had volunteered to accompany us on the way to the Coast, and took the lead in the caravan, pitching the tent and preparing the camp. My husband, who was in great agony from the result of his accident, was thus relieved of much anxiety by the presence of these faithful men.

 

After two days' march, we had a peculiar and wonderful experience with our Coast porters. We were passing along through a thick tangled belt of low bush, which stood like a wall on each side of our path. The track was very winding, now bending towards the north, and then abruptly turning to the south or south-east: but still the same impenetrable wall of bush, and creeping vine, and spine-clad cactus on either side. Sometimes it ran down into deep ravines, where the overhead growth was so dense as to shut out the sun at noonday, and then we would emerge again on to higher land, where the same dense bush prevailed, but of more small growth, and the same class of winding narrow track.

 

As our porters were slowly winding their way along this serpentine path through the bush, there was a sudden halt, for in the distance was heard a low, rumbling sound. One or two of the Coast porters stared at each other inquiringly, and said, "Nini hii?" (What is this?), and then every man in the caravan startlingly cried out, "Nini hii ?”

 

As the moments passed by, the peculiar sound increased greatly in volume, and the dismay of the porters was multiplied tenfold, as they stood speechless, not knowing what terrible destruction was rushing towards them. We were in the center of the caravan, and the frightened porters in front and those behind kept pressing towards us for protection, until the narrow passage was tightly packed with a tightly grouped number of human beings, with their loads balanced on their heads. In all our travels we had never experienced anything like this before, and so we had no idea of what terrible visions were brewing in the minds of our dark followers, concerning the impending disaster, which to them was surely and rapidly approaching.

 

As the unearthly sound drew nearer, a few of the men cried out, “Tembo, Tembo!” (Elephants!) and immediately threw down their loads, and began crawling into the thick bush on either side. The four men who carried me and my child laid us down on the track and, with the others, scrambled into the thicket.

 

My husband had barely time to thrust us into the most open part of the bush, so that we might have a chance of escaping the tread and tusk of the oncoming elephants, when — Lo! the whole riddle was solved by the appearance of about a dozen strong, nude Wahumba warriors, on the run, with glistening spears in hand, who were amusing themselves by dragging behind them their huge buffalo-hide shields! The volume of sound, produced by the trailing shields over the hard, rough, indented track, was very great, and generated in the minds of our frightened porters gigantic visions of some terrible onslaught.

 

The bush was so thick and impenetrable, that most of our men were only able to get a few yards off the track. If my husband had not been with them, there is no doubt that they would have been murdered to the last man. The Wahumba are always on the warpath, murdering and plundering. My husband talked with them quite confidentially and casually, and gave them no hint whatever that his men were a mob of trembling, terrified coast slaves. The warriors passed on, evidently under the impression that our men were resting underneath the shade of the bush, while their loads, and in many cases their rifles, were lying on the track.

 

When the Wahumba had disappeared, our carriers came crawling out of their hiding places, with a half-forced smile on their faces, and their right hand over their mouth in blank amazement, saying, “Oh, Sir! if you had not been with us, we should all have been dead men this day." On the following morning, we found that the rations of our porters were almost finished and, seeing some giraffe in the distance, my husband, though still suffering much pain with his chest, took his rifle and two or three of the men, and went away on his donkey to try to refill the supply of food.

 

Meanwhile, I and the main body of the caravan were to rest in the shade of the forest. After my husband had been away for some time, and the majority of the porters were lying resting themselves by their loads, some of them fast asleep, a whisper went through the camp that a band of the much dreaded Elmoran (fighting men) of the Masai tribe were almost upon us. The gleaming spears of these far-famed raiders and murderers could be seen hastily approaching through the forest. The porters seemed to lose all courage, and were already beginning to run away.

 

I realized in a moment our defenseless position, and the probability of the immediate slaughter of my child, myself and the whole caravan, in the absence of my husband; and, lifting up my heart to God, I quickly commanded the terror-stricken porters to fall into line. Acting as if under the influence of some external power, the men of the entire caravan fell into order at the word of command. Such a formidable phalanx was thus presented to the oncoming warriors, that, under the providence of God, they at once slunk off into the forest and disappeared. Our porters expected that the Masai had only retreated to bring reinforcements, and would soon follow us up again. They were, therefore, in great anxiety about my husband's return to camp, and, when a short time afterwards he came in, it was a great relief to us all.

 

The next day we got into Mamboia, where there was an abundance of food, and our porters gladly secured a large supply with the barter goods we had dealt out to them. The remainder of our long journey to the Coast was clouded by the illness of my husband, and perhaps still more so by my occasional attacks of fever, as we passed through the deep gullies and marshy swamps of the N'guru country.

 

After three weeks of weary marching, day by day, we arrived at Semagombe, in the Useguha country, and visited the spot where we had laid our child to rest in the forest. Due to the more frequent attacks of fever, we hastened on our way to the Coast, through a dry scorching wilderness, in which it was often impossible to get a cup of water that was fit for use from the thick muddy pools. Although the water was passed through the pocket filter, yet this failed to change the color, or extract its peculiar, unpleasant, swampy flavor.

 

On reaching the borders of civilization, at Saadani — a village on the Coast, whence we were to sail to Zanzibar — we met with two Missionaries, Stokes and Deekes. I photographed them underneath the branches of the great baobab tree, under which we had encamped when first entering Africa. The trunk of the tree was twenty-five yards in circumference.

 

When we arrived at Zanzibar, the fever, which had been troubling me all the way down country, now seized me with increased strength, and for a long time it seemed as if I could not recover. At the time our ship was due to leave Zanzibar for Aden, I was almost at the point of death, and departure was out of the question. My husband nursed me continually day and night without relief, until he was utterly worn out with fatigue, anxiety and lack of sleep. However, two lady Missionaries of the Universities Mission in the Island very kindly volunteered to release my husband for a time, to give him an opportunity of getting some sleep. They also took my little daughter to the Mission Station to be cared for while I was ill. For several days they devotedly nursed me, but it seemed apparent to them that I could not live, so my husband once again took entire charge of me, watching by me day and night. Eventually I became unconscious, and for seven days was unconscious, unable to see or speak. During this time of death-like prostration, he fed me with fluid nourishment and, though all friends had given up hope of my recovery, he felt assured that God would raise me up. The Lord was pleased to answer his prayer, and I gradually recovered, but for a period of almost two months was unable to walk.

 

It was quite an thrilling joy to me to see my child once again. After some weeks I was able to go out occasionally in a carriage, which the Sultan was kind enough to send for our use. After recuperation we embarked for Aden, where we got a British India steamer for London, arriving there midwinter. Being very weak and much run down in health, we suffered a good deal from the damp English climate and, inasmuch as the fever still clung to my husband, we were advised to have a sea voyage.

 

After taking a tour round the world and returning to England, my husband was still suffering from the effects of malaria in his system, and was ordered by the doctors to go out to the mild climate of Australia, and remain there some time. This was quite contrary to our ideas, as we were hoping to be able to return to Africa. Nevertheless, my husband unhesitatingly prepared to carry out these recommendations. Many of our Missionary friends greatly sympathized with us, because of our unfulfilled hopes to re-enter the Dark Continent. The Rev. R. Lang, Secretary for Africa to the Church Missionary Society, wrote as follows: —

 

My dear Mr. Watt,

I am glad to hear that you are probably going to Australia, where I hope you will be able thoroughly to regain your health, and find in that wide field a friendly sphere of work, where you can fulfill your heart's desire to devote yourself to your Master's service. I feel sure that a return to Africa would, after the experience of your short residence there, be a hazardous experiment. It would be unwise to risk a climate which has already so severely tried you, and where possibly your health might entirely fail you, when ample scope is in God's providence opening out before you in such a climate as that of Australia.

 

Feeling very real sympathy with you in your disappointment regarding Africa, where I know your heart still lies, and thoroughly appreciating your devoted spirit, it will be a great pleasure to us all to hear that you have found a sphere for your energies, of the Lord's choosing, and that you are once again happily engaged in active service for Him. May you have all wisdom and discretion, all faith and power granted to you, that wherever you may be called to work your labor may not be in vain in the Lord.

I am, dear Mr. Watt,
Yours very faithfully,

(Signed) R. Lang, Secretary,
Church Missionary Society.

 

Once again we turned our faces eastward and, arriving in Australia, found the climate helpful and refreshing to both of us. We determined that, should God in His goodness restores us to health, we would return to East Equatorial Africa, unconnected with any Society; and open up Missionary work in some of those great tracts of country along the Equator, which were as yet closed against the Gospel, and where no Missionaries had yet tried to enter.

 

The open-air life in the delightful climate of Australasia quite restored my husband to health, and, in his extensive travels through the country, he had many precious opportunities of witnessing for God and of seeing souls saved by His Grace. We purchased a beautiful suburban home, with nice grounds and fruit garden, to which we were both much attached; and, as the months passed by in my new home, I felt more and more how difficult it would be to carry out our resolve, and to make the sacrifice I had previously intended, in returning to Central Africa.

 

It seemed so hard to think of breaking up our home, and going back to the sorrows and hardships of the interior, and more especially so because that God had given to us a baby boy on our first arrival on the shores of Australia and, since then, another precious gift of a little daughter in His providence and love. I had been through the fire of affliction and sorrow, and had laid the body of my little son in the jungle, when but six days' march from the Coast: and the thought of our young children dying of fever or dysentery, or being stabbed by the spear of the warrior, was a trial from which my heart turned away.

 

I was still further launched into the sea of perplexity and doubt regarding our return to Africa, because my husband had resolved to commence work in an unopened country, where no Missionary had ever delivered the word of the Gospel. He did not think it justifiable, in opening up independent Missionary work, to enter fields that had been already occupied, but made it his aim, as Paul had done, to preach the Gospel where Christ had not been already named, so that “they might see to whom no tidings of Him came." Perhaps I loved my Savior, and the benighted Africans for whom He died, just as much as my dear husband; but the many dangers to life, attached to such work as entering new and unopened countries in that dangerous land, with all the suffering and sorrow such a life might require, led me to shrink from the sacrifice.

 

I pictured to myself the many nights I watched by the camp bed of my young husband in a defenseless tent, while leopards and lions prowled around outside, and when death seemed stamped upon his agonized facial appearance. I thought of my own experience, often repeated, of being cut down with fever, and carried through stifling forests and over swamps and marshes in a jolting hammock, with the rays of the scorching sun increasing the pangs of fever, and without anything to quench the burning thirst but a little muddy water. I dwelt in thought upon my last fever, when, for many weeks, my faithful husband watched over me day and night when all but he considered that I was dying, and when, by forcing liquid nourishment through my parched lips, he sought to support the flickering flame of life.

 

In addition to these and other scenes, which passed like a panorama before me, and over which the mind could not but ponder, was the fact that we were to go out to the heathen without salary or support; and, selling our home and property, were to use the proceeds in the initiatory operations of the Mission, and then proceed with the work until all money was gone, depending only upon God to supply all our needs.

 

When I thought of Him, “who was rich and who for our sakes had become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich“; when I considered how He had redeemed my youth from frivolity and vanity, how He had saved my partner in life from atheism and infidelity, turning his life into a stream of blessing and fruitful service, I was led to sympathize with the work my husband had assigned to himself and, to an extent, with the method in which he was to carry it out.

 

When, however, I reflected on the trials and difficulties of such a life for a young married woman with little children, my spirit sank within me, and my heart completely failed to carry me over the untold obstacles, which seemed like mountains blocking the way. I thought off what might happen if my husband were to be murdered or die of fever. To me, it seemed almost a human impossibility to take our young children up into the interior of the continent, without some of them dying on the way through malaria or dysentery.

 

I considered the probability of me dying and leaving my children motherless, in a treacherous climate, and among surroundings so deadly and unwelcoming. Thoughts like these haunted me frequently. We both gave ourselves much to prayer regarding the matter for several weeks. One night, I had a vision which, in the providence of God, settled the whole matter once and for all. I am not in the ordinary sense a believer in dreams; but we know that the Lord has spoken to some of His people in visions, and that He can and does reveal His will to them, whether awake or asleep. This revelation was to me so vivid and so real, that I can never forget it: every outline of thought was clear, definite and precise.

 

In the vision I realized that I was in great and overwhelming darkness. No matter which way I turned, the blackness of deepest night prevailed around me, and the mind was sadly troubled, because there seemed no exit from this dense, midnight gloom. I called upon God in an agony of despair to show me the way out. Christ immediately appeared and said, “Trust yourself to Me and I will show you where to find the light." I gave myself absolutely up to Him, and then found myself rising with Him into mid-air. Then stretching out His hand, He showed me, on a distant scene, my husband standing with the rays of the sun pouring down upon him. With the power with which Christ had endowed me, I was swiftly carried to the place of light and sunshine where my husband stood. The vision was very short, but its effects were immediate and permanent. I saw that the Lord was able to carry me over every problem, and to help me in every difficulty and trial, if I would only trust myself to Him. I decided to follow the leading of God, and to make ready for Central Africa as soon as possible.

 

Shortly afterwards we were able to sell our home and several properties, and sailed for London to purchase our outfit for Equatorial Africa. When we reached Aden, my husband received a sad message, telling the news of his father's death. It came very unexpectedly, and was a great shock to him. Very few men, I think, have been so much attached to their parents, as my husband was to his father.

 

Nineteen years have now passed by, and the loss of that father is still intensely felt. He was very kind and warm and most generous with his children. Sixteen years before his death, he was converted to God through my husband, and for that time enjoyed the consciousness of sins forgiven and continual fellowship with his Savior. After our arrival in England, my husband spent a good deal of time in preparing lists of travelling and camping basics, and in getting some articles especially made for our journey up into the interior of Africa. The goods were all packed and shipped, and we arranged to go overland and catch our steamship at Naples. A few weeks before the time of our departure, the Lord had given to us another son: and, comparatively weak in body myself, but strong in faith, we started for Africa with our little ones, some of whom had been born in the jungle.

 

We boarded our steamer at Naples, and sailing down by the volcanic Island of Stromboli, which was then in active eruption, we passed through the Straits of Messina, where Etna could be seen quietly puffing out huge volumes of smoke. We soon made our way along the south of Crete and, passing through the Suez Canal, found ourselves once again in the calm, warm waters of the Red Sea. Rounding the southwestern coast of Arabia, and the Guardafui headland of Africa, our good ship bore down the Indian Ocean, and brought us once more in sight of the beautiful palm tree-covered Island of Zanzibar.

 

As we drew near to the coast of Africa, our hearts went up in praise to God for His loving care over us and our little children on the way out, and, as we contemplated the hidden difficulties and dangers of the distant and unknown interior, to which we were about to proceed, our hearts leaned hard upon the promise that He would never leave us, never forsake us. The sun was beaming down in all his tropical power and brilliance, on that glorious morning in 1893, when we landed at the Arab town of Mombasa, on the eastern shore of the continent of Africa. In a few hours all our supplies were clear of the ship; and, before the red disc of the sun had sunk below the horizon, we were camp in our tents, underneath the pendent fronds of the coconut palms which stretched along the beach.

 


CHAPTER 9
SPYING THE LAND

 

While our porters are being collected, barter goods purchased, and the loads readjusted and weighed for the carriers, let us take a brief study of the Dark Continent we are about to enter, and of one or two events which have, in the providence of God, permitted some rays of light to penetrate the gloom of its vast unknown.

 

My mind goes back to my old school days, when we used to have unrolled before us on the wall the great, blank map of Africa. Around the coastline were a few names of places, some of which represented a mere collection of small grass huts, or a spot where some European had camped. The entire center was void and empty, save for a few dotted lines, representing the imaginary courses of one or two rivers of which nothing definite was known.

 

Since that time, much has been done through the Herculean achievements of a few heroic men, to lighten the mystery, which for so many centuries hung over the Continent like a funeral mantle. Of course the tracks of most of the great explorers were little more than bee-lines across the country, so that there still remain large areas on which no European has ever walked.

 

Among those explorers who have been most successful in making known to the world something of the heart of Africa may be mentioned the names of David Livingstone, Richard Burton, John Hanning Speke, Henry M. Stanley and Joseph Thompson. The main labors of the first named and honored pioneer were in the more southern part of the Great Continent, where he discovered Lakes N'gami, Shirwa, and Nyassa, and the great Zambesi Falls.

 

The greater part of the work done by the other highly esteemed travelers was along the Equatorial Belt of the Continent. They all entered from the East Coast, and proceeded westward in their geographical mission.

 

Burton and Speke jointly discovered the beautiful Lake of Tanganyika. While Burton was resting in the country of Unyanyembe, Speke, who was of a more active disposition, collected a number of porters and, with the permission of Burton, the leader of the expedition, started off north on an exploring tour on his own account. His brilliant achievement, on that impromptu and hazardous expedition, renders his name permanent in the records of African exploration. John Hanning Speke, on that memorable journey, discovered the great inland sea of Victoria Nyanza. He returned to Burton at Unyanyembe, and made known to his comrade in travel the discovery of the great Lake, which was the source of the Nile.

 

In connection with this important discovery there is a sad tale to be told, which exhibits the petty jealousy of some, otherwise large-minded, African travelers — a jealousy which, it is supposed, is often excited and aggravated to a great degree by the irritancy which African malarial fever generates in those whom it has prostrated by its malignant stroke.

 

Burton would not believe that his companion had made a discovery of such moment and import. On his arrival in England, Richard Burton, as chief of the expedition, was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society for discovering Lake Tanganyika, and was subsequently knighted. In his lectures and writings, he sought, with honest intentions no doubt, to discredit Speke's achievement, and sought to cast suspicion on his fellow-explorer's veracity.

 

Speke bore the unjust stigma with heroic fortitude. For fifteen long years, his name lay under a cloud of suspicion, until Henry M. Stanley, in 1875, reached the Victoria Nyanza and corroborated Speke's discoveries, confirming his assertion that the great Lake was the main source of the Nile. The intrepid traveler, how- ever, who was the first European to gaze upon the Lake, had then been dead for eleven years!

 

Had it not been for a very sad and deplorable accident, the notorious dispute between Burton and Speke might have been settled at a meeting of the British Association. It had been arranged that the two explorers should put their views before the Association, at its session of 1864. In the early morning of the day arranged for this momentous assembly, Speke went out shooting, and, while getting over a stile, the contents of both barrels of his gun were accidentally discharged into his body> and he succumbed immediately.

 

Until Stanley's justification of the eminent and heroic explorer, eleven years afterwards, many believed that Speke had committed suicide rather than face Burton before the British Association. How sad that the work of such a man, and that of many others as noble as he, is only appreciated after they have passed away!

 

The illustrious exploits of Stanley have also accomplished much towards the opening up of Africa. He was the first European to cross the Dark Continent from east to west along the Equatorial Belt, and the first white man that ever sailed the Congo River, from its source to the Atlantic Ocean. It was a letter from Stanley, written at the court of Mtesa, to the London Daily Telegraph, challenging Christendom to send Missionaries to Uganda, which led the Church Missionary Society to send out the first messengers of the Gospel to that country where, under the blessing of God, the work has been so successful.

 

Missionaries had then been at work for a number of years on the East Coast, and when the field of Uganda was opened, a chain of Mission stations was formed between the Coast and the south end of Lake Victoria Nyanza.

 

The country, however, lying further north, in the vicinity of Mount Kenya, was then unexplored. The Royal Geographical Society of London sent out an expedition, commanded by Joseph Thompson, to explore this terra incognita. After many narrow escapes and great privations, he returned to the Coast, and revealed to the world the fact that the country he had traversed was inhabited by millions of people of different tribes who were keenly intelligent, though often very savage and violent.

 

It was to a region in this unopened and hostile country we felt called of God to go out and establish a Gospel Mission. Missionaries have added their quota to the more general knowledge of the Great Continent and its numerous tribes, especially in the departments of anthropology and philology. To the pioneering Missionary has fallen the work of reducing to writing its unknown babel of languages.

 

Very few seem to realize the immense magnitude of the Dark Continent, comprising, as it does, one-fifth of the whole surface of the earth. It would require the combined area of the United States of America, the island continent of Australia, the vast territories of India and China proper, and the entire continent of Europe to equal the superficial extent of the ancient forests and burning wildernesses of this marvelous Continent. The fauna of Africa is exceedingly interesting and extensive. Of the nigh unto four hundred different species of animals which roam its forest-crowned plateau and grassy plains, about three hundred are peculiar to Africa alone.

 

The huge pachyderms — rhinoceros, elephant and hippopotamus — revel in its marshy swamps, and crash through its bush and jungle, trumpeting and blowing like gigantic fiends. Antelopes of numerous kinds rove across the landscape in immense companies. As many as one thousand gnus are often seen browsing together in a herd. Troops of tall giraffe amble among the mimosa and acacia trees, lopping, with their long prehensile tongues, the succulent ends of the branches. Carnivorous animals abound in large numbers and, in the eastern equatorial division of the Continent, the lion and leopard attain their greatest size. A dozen and even a score of lions have often been seen together; while travelers, in one or two instances, have been confronted with a still greater number.

 

To the Missionary, however, who has been saved by the grace of God, and whose aspiration it is to bear the message of redeeming love, as revealed in the Gospel, to the benighted sons of men, the most interesting feature of the Dark Continent is the people who find in it their home; and the most important consideration, the best mode of overcoming the difficulties which lie in the way of conveying to their minds and hearts the glad tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

In all lands, civilized or savage, within the circles of the learned and exalted, or among the purlieus of those who have fallen so low that they look scarcely human, there is always and everywhere that resistance to the message of the Gospel, which is defined in Scripture as the "carnal mind, which is enmity against God." However, with the exception of a tract of country along the northern coast of the Continent, where Islam predominates, Africa presents, from one point of view, much less opposition to the preaching of the Gospel than such countries as India and China, where there exist false systems of religion that have become hoary with age.

 

From another standpoint, nevertheless, the difficulties are inconceivably greater in Africa. If the Missionary goes to China or Japan, he finds there not only a written language, but an extensive literature, with native schools and colleges, a people possessing many of the arts and refinements of civil life, who, in fact, were civilized long before Britons had emerged from rude barbarism. In these countries one can sit down and apply oneself immediately to the learning of the language, and, having acquired it, can go through the length and breadth of the land, delivering the message of the Gospel to the people in their own tongue, dwelling in their houses, partaking of their food, wearing their garments, and utilizing their means of transport for person or baggage, be it wheelbarrow or carriage, boat or palanquin.

 

How vastly different are these conditions from those which prevail in the interior of Africa. In the Dark Continent there are multitudinous native tribes, speaking over six hundred different languages; and not one of these tribes have any written signs or characters with which to express their ideas. To them writing is an unknown art. Therefore, the first necessary work of the pioneer Missionary is to reduce to writing the language of the tribe among whom he is to labor, a work which requires at least several years of devoted effort. If the Missionary wants a house to live in, he must build it. If he needs a supply of food, he must carry it with him. His only means of transport is human porterage.

 

One has only to glance at the diary of any explorer, to find how uncertain, fickle and troublesome is this form of travel. Henry M. Stanley had only gone about a score of marches on his way through the Dark Continent, when he wrote, concerning fifty men who had deserted, taking with them their guns and accessories, "Indeed to record our daily mischances and losses up to this date in full detail would require half of this volume; but these slight hints will suffice to show that the journey of an expedition into Africa is overwhelmed with trouble and disaster."

 

Having taken a look at the Continent, and a few of the prevailing conditions, we get back to our camp under the palm trees, with our pile of miscellaneous supplies stacked around us. These cases contain all classes of necessary provisions, from the staple items of flour and meal, to the less important commodities of tea and biscuits, baking powder and salt, candles and soap, condensed milk and wax matches, pots and pans, enameled cups and saucers, plates and bowls, axes and tomahawks, brushes and weighing balances, hinges and door-locks, rat-traps and sewing needles, gear and medicine chests, folding beds, chairs, tables and washstands, and all the numerous necessities of household management in the jungle.

 

Most of the above had all been packed in London in strong wooden cases, weighing sixty to seventy pounds gross, so that they could be gladly carried on men's heads in single loads. There were a few large cases, however, which could not be taken up country: these had to be opened, and the supplies separated, and made up into loads of convenient weight for the porters to carry. To this baggage we add thirty loads of barter goods, of various kinds of beads, wire and calico. The selection of these requires a great deal of care and forethought, for the different tribes have very varied tastes, and one must study, as far as possible, their idiosyncrasies. Though the traveler may bring with him a abundant supply of barter goods, yet the obtaining of native grain for the food of his porters may absolutely depend upon the impulse and whim of the chief of the district through which he is passing.

 

One tribe will have beads, but they must be red; another will only have blue, while a third will have nothing but pink. Various kinds of wire also form an important item of barter. Some tribes want copper, others iron, while some prefer brass. With some of them the latest fashion is wire of the thickness of macaroni, while others must have it as fine as vermicelli. White calico, or the same material dyed blue, is acceptable to some clans, who wear a loin-covering or apron; but to other nude tribes, not at all. If the Missionary goes loaded with bales of calico, to a tribe that wears nothing but beads or wire, expecting to exchange these for food supplies for his half-starving caravan, he would be as much disappointed as the man who entered a shop in Piccadilly with a bag of cowrie shells, expecting to purchase therewith a pajama suit or silk hat.

 

On the first part of the journey there lay before us a belt of uninhabited jungle, and we found it necessary to attach to each man's load sixteen pounds of grain, to provide for the needs of the caravan in passing through that wilderness. Even this small item added almost two thousand pounds' weight to the already heavy loads, which had to be moved up into the interior of this roadless, marketless and foodless land, where dangers loomed heavily, and life and property were so insecure.

 

No Government had yet entered the country. The Imperial British East Africa Company, however, had been formed, with their headquarters in London. They had an office at Mombasa, on the East Coast of Africa, and had established two small forts, in the country lying between the Coast and Mount Kenya: one at Machakos, on the eastern border of the Masai plain, and the other at Dagoreti on the western side of the same plateau. Each fort was manned by a large number of trained Coast soldiers, under the command of a European.

 

The Company wrote very strongly to my husband from the London office, warning him of the great danger in attempting to begin Missionary work, in the unopened country to which we proposed going, among such dangerous people, and urging him to delay the expedition. The Secretary concluded the letter by saying, "In any case I should advise you not to think of taking your wife and family into the interior. I enclose a low estimate, which shows a necessary expenditure of £2,000 for one Missionary for the first year." The estimate ran as follows: —


Estimate for Cost of Initiating Mission. ONE MISSIONARY.
Passage money (one man)                                        £    50
Personal kit                                                                  150
Stores (food, medicines, etc. Station use)                       150
Ditto (materials for house)                                              200
Ditto (furniture, tools, implements)                                  150
Porterage (of stores into the interior)                               250
Labor, commissions, sundries, etc.                                250
Subtotal Starting the Mission                                     £1,200
Upkeep of Station, etc., for One Year
Labor, etc.                                                                £  200
Transport                                                                      200
Food, etc.                                                                    200
Sundries                                                                      200


Total for first year                                                  £ 2,000

 

 

The Rev. Fred. E. Wigram, Honorary Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, London, also wrote to my husband on the eve of our departure: —

Dear Mr. Watt,
You know my opinion regarding the project you are making. I am sure of your zeal in seeking to make known the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray God to avert the catastrophe which your scheme appears to invite. If the enclosed will be of any service to you I pray you to present it. It was good of you to give me a farewell grip when you must have been so busy.
Yours faithfully,     (Signed) Fred. E. Wigram.

 

With the above note, was enclosed the following letter : —


To J. R. W. Piggott, Esq., Secretary, Imperial British East
Africa Company, Mombasa, East Coast of Africa.
Dear Sir,

May I introduce to your kindly notice Mr. Stuart Watt, who is going on a venture which sufficiently indicates his zeal and desire to promote the spread of the Gospel. I believe him to be a resourceful, earnest, Christian man, determined at all costs to return to evangelistic work among the Africans, in which he was engaged in connection with the Church Missionary Society, of which I am honorary secretary. Your counsel and protection may be invaluable to him in the work he is now proposing to himself.
Yours faithfully,   (Signed) Fred. E. Wigram

.

Among other letters of counsel and advice, which came from friends of considerable experience in Missionary enterprise in the Dark Continent, was one from a faithful and honored Missionary of the Church Missionary Society, who had labored for many years at Mombasa, the point from which our expedition was about to start on its way into the interior. He wrote: —

 

Dear Mr. Watt,

You do not ask my opinion regarding your expedition, but I must frankly tell you I think it would be a great mistake for you to take your wife and children into such a place. What, if you were to die, is to become of them? You may say you go in faith. True! But it is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

I am,  Yours very sincerely,    (Signed) Harry K. Binns.

 

While my husband thankfully appreciated such letters, indicating the interest of friends, nothing could quench the passionate desire which was in his heart, to carry the Gospel to the unopened parts of Africa. No fear of death at the hands of the native, nor dread of falling by cruel fevers on the way, could veer him from the work which lay before him, and which he recognized as having been assigned to him by God.

 

Mr. Piggott of the I. B. E. A. Coy., and the Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society on the Coast, had been very kind to us while preparing for our journey, and came several times to see us in our camp. As the time was approaching for us to make a move, rifles, cartridge belts and accessories were served out to fifty of the most trustworthy of the porters; and a number of headmen were appointed to superintend the work of different sections of the caravan.

 

All being now ready, tents were taken down and camp bedsteads and other tent basics folded and packed. Our faithful Coast friends came and bade us their last goodbye, but could not hide from us their fears that we were going to certain death. We then read together the twenty-third Psalm, and commended ourselves and the entire caravan into the care and keeping of Almighty God. At the shrill blast of the whistle, the loads were raised on one hundred and twenty heads, and, in single file, we marched away from the Coast and plunged into the interior.

 

CHAPTER 10
TRIALS OF THE WILDERNESS

 

The sight of European children being carried up into the wilds of native Africa on carrying chairs was, to the natives of the Coast, a marvelous and unprecedented scene. Our little ones, the youngest not yet three months old, were too small to do much marching in the jungle, and my husband had several special carrying chairs made for them in London, according to his own idea and plan. The elder children were supposed to march occasionally, so as to allow their carriers to have a rest. There was also a carrying chair which had been designed for me and my baby, in which I could safely leave the child lying, whenever it was convenient for me to walk.

 

I felt very uncomfortable the first part of our journey, because I was unable to see or hold conversation with the children during the march, owing to the extreme narrowness of the track in the jungle, through which, in some places, the carriers could scarcely drag the chairs.

 

Being in single file, our porters covered, roughly speaking, a quarter of a mile; and it was impossible for me to pass up and down the line of carriers without obstructing and delaying the caravan.

 

The narrow paths through the bush are trodden by natives, passing from one part of the country to another, and by numerous wild animals, which may often be seen going to water or shelter for the night, in single file and true caravan order, and returning in the morning in like fashion. If a traveler were foolhardy enough to leave these tracks in the thick bush country, and attempt to proceed in a direct line by compass to any given point, though it were only a hundred miles away, he could never reach the goal of his ambition. Unless he had an army of men to cut a passage for his carriers through the forest and tangled undergrowth. Sometimes in more open country, a traveler is tempted to leave the beaten, narrow rut, when it seems to him that by proceeding in a more direct line he may save a few miles; but the result is always disastrous and disappointing, while it is more than probable that the half of his porters are unfitted for marching the following day, owing to their feet and legs being pricked and torn by the thorny bush.

 

After leaving the Coast, our first camping place was very uninviting, but we were obliged to pitch our tents there, due to the presence of water. The long dry season was just about ending, and a bush fire had burned down the grass of the valley in which the water lay, leaving behind it a trail of sooty blackness, which covered every spot of ground as with a pall. On the burnt earth we camped, as the night was fast approaching; but it seemed such a hardship to get our clean, new tents and bedding blackened by the fluffy, ashen remains of the burnt grass, which the evening breeze swept over everything, including our food and clothing, and the children's linen dresses were soon in a frightful mess.

 

The name of the valley in which we camped was Maji-ya-chumvi, which means brackish water. In all Central Africa, the natives never give highly overstated names to localities. Although they are the most evasive race of men on the face of the earth, yet, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, their names of places convey the most unadorned truthfulness concerning the districts to which their various names are given.

 

The water, bearing the un-euphonious title of Maji-ya-chumvi, was brought into camp. We tasted the liquid, and I know of nothing it resembled more closely than Hunyadi Janos (a darkish medicine), which on one occasion I was compelled to take by the doctor's orders, when I was a little girl — only that this had got much more thickness than that memorable medicine, and infinitely more color. Our children were all very thirsty after their first day's march in the burning tropical sun, but they made all sorts of grimaces on putting the water to their lips. We told them to wait, however, and see how nice it would taste when boiled and made into fresh, hot tea.

 

We were delighted when, on the following morning, we left behind us the black camp, and pushed our way through clean, unburnt forest, and then into more open bush, among the simple Duruma tribe, with their short tassellated aprons of fibre. We quite enjoyed passing through the more elevated expanses of their country, and were charmed with the changing scenery of the landscape, as we moved along. The Duruma are a weak, timid and retiring race. In sheltered areas of the forest they cultivated their little gardens, and, while we looked upon them moving around in their Adamic costume, underneath the overhanging palm leaves of the papaw tree, and among the trailing pumpkin bowers of the jungle, we could not but be charmed with the weirdness and simplicity of their life.

 

After holding conversation with one or two of these natives, we found that, like all other tribes, they had a desire to know something of the Eternal God, whose name they mentioned with reverence and awe. We camped near to some of their little huts, and heard that the wild, bloodthirsty natives of the distant interior — the Masai tribe — had, at times, crossed the great uninhabited wilderness, and swooped down upon these defenseless people, leaving men and women dying in their own blood.

 

After several days' quick marching, we had crossed the Duruma country, which is the last inhabited area before entering upon the great dry belt of thick forest growth known as the Tarn Desert, in which water is rarely to be found during the dry season.

 

Our last camp in the Duruma region was at some rock water holes on the borders of the wilderness. These curious circular potholes in the rocks were about eighteen inches to two feet in diameter, and four to seven feet deep. At the bottom of the round cavities, which had been drilled by some unknown process, we found a little filthy rain water, which our men sought to scoop out for the use of the camp. So low was the water in these narrow reservoirs, that a man lying flat on his face on the rock could not reach the fluid with his hand. It was necessary for him to be held upside down into the hole, held by his legs while drawing the cloudy liquid.

 

Every available water bottle and gourd shell was filled, and arrangements were made to start soon after midnight on our journey across the waterless wilderness, so that we might make a considerable advance before the dreaded fiery ball would rise in the east. It was three o'clock in the morning, however, before we got clear of the camp, and our progress was slow until daylight, when a good steady pace was kept up until ten o'clock. The heat was at this time indescribable, and our porters, with sweat streaming down their semi-nude bodies, sought rest and shade in the thick bush, which ran twenty to thirty feet high.

 

We were soon on the march once again, and plodded along for several hours, through very dense, spiny growth of almost impassable forest. Our ever-bending path was a very difficult one to follow, and, so thick was the intertwining mass of vegetation, that we rarely could see more than two or three yards ahead. To avoid deep, impassable earth clefts and thorny gorges, our twisting path at times doubled back upon itself, so that the voices of the carriers in front of the caravan could be heard by the men in the rear, and vice versa, as they proceeded in opposite directions, while unseen by one another.

 

Due to the low, matted branches of rigid growth overhead, our porters had the greatest possible difficulty in making progress with their loads, even in a stooping stance. Often had they to lower the load from their head, and, getting their arms around it, have squeezed their way through straitened, sylvan alleys, while several tomahawks had to be used to cut down obstructing growth, and make a narrow opening for the children's chairs. After miles of marching through this entangled, scrubby forest, we reached a more open part of the jungle, where the trees were higher, though preserving the same rigid, spiny aspect, and our view less blocked.

 

The fertility of this dry and scorched wilderness is amazing. When rain does fall on its dry surface, it sinks immediately through the extremely porous soil: therefore there is no surface drainage, so that whatever rainfall there may be at a certain period of the year is used up entirely by the dense plants.

 

Huge, termite castles of bright scarlet earth dot the landscape, for those lonely wilds seem to be the special inheritance and possession of the white ants. Every trunk, branch and spine of the forest is colored red with the tiny earth tunnels, which these tireless workers have constructed in searching for the food which the dry and rotten branches supply. The entire jungle is thus lit up with a red fiery glow when smitten by the blazing sun.

 

Through the hot bush our very hot porters pressed along until the sun had turned the high point, and the atmosphere was like that of a furnace. The gourd shells which every porter carried were alas! already emptied of their contents. A halt was called, to enable the men to stretch their weary limbs, and rest their aching shoulders; and then once again we proceeded on our way, as the orb of day was on the way out in the west. The forest growth became more thick again as we advanced, and the tortuous and serpentine path wound hither and thither, around unassailable thickets, so that, in one hour's marching, we were heading towards almost every point of the compass.

 

Already night was upon us, and our brave porters, who had been trudging along for fifteen hours, were thirsty, hungry and exhausted. Nevertheless, we had no thought of camping. Delay would mean death. No water with which to cook, or quench the fiery thirst: therefore, to save our lives, we were obliged to move forward.

 

In the darkness of the night the weary procession forged ahead with all the energy available, winding like a huge snake of three or four hundred yards along the narrow track which meandered through the bush, until we called a midnight halt for two hours' sleep. The loads were then thrown down, and the men flung themselves flat on the earth, and stretched their tired and aching limbs. At that hour, every man in the camp would have given all the food he carried for a cup of water. Underneath the trees were placed a few mattresses, on which the children were laid down to rest. There was no need of fires to keep off the wild beasts, for no animal would live so far away from water.

 

In a short time a deathly silence reigned among the prostrated forms of that group in the jungle, and all in the camp were fast asleep, except my husband. He had too much anxiety for the welfare of his porters to allow himself to become unconscious in slumber, fearing that the men when so fatigued might sleep till sunrise, and then it would be, humanly speaking, impossible to save the lives of the caravan. They were certainly too much exhausted ever to reach the water in the burning heat of the day.

 

A couple of hours after midnight the piercing call of the whistle roused the weary sleepers, and, after a few words of encouragement had been addressed to them to cheer their downcast spirits, the heavy loads were once again raised on the heads of the porters, and we continued the dreary march in the darkness of the night. We had yet about thirty-six miles to cover before striking the course of the Voi river, where there was a certainty of getting water. That point we never could reach. There existed, however, the bare probability of obtaining a little from the hollow summit of a hill, about eighteen miles ahead. During the hours of darkness, we shortened the distance between us and that doubtful supply. But the night passed, and the dreaded tropical sun rose again above the horizon, and our fast-collapsing carriers were beginning to fall by the way.

 

A halt was again called near to a gigantic, over hanging rock, which jutted out from a rugged, cone shaped elevation, so that our worn out porters might lie for a while within its shadow, and thus be able to carry on a few hours longer.

 

I have often thought how easy it is for those who have travelled through a thirsty wilderness to appreciate the metaphor, in which God conveys to us the message of the Gospel, in such passages as, "Ho! every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters." "He that is athirst let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely." The priceless worth of this precious fluid, for which we rarely thank God, is difficult to estimate in a country like Great Britain, where people would be surprised if even five or six weeks passed by without a shower of rain, and where water is given in such plentiful quantity as to be found flowing down almost every hillside.

 

How infinitely different is the case in the equatorial regions, where five and six months pass by every year without a single drop of rain, and where the scorching rays of the fierce sun strike down upon the earth with such fervid power as to crack the surface, and, in some places, open up fissures several feet deep. It is there the value of water is known, and the figure, in which our loving heavenly Father imparts to us the Gospel of eternal life, can be gladly appreciated.

 

In such a hot country, we can also more fully comprehend something of the unfathomable depth of meaning which lies in those prophetic words, in which Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah : "A man shall be as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." How often in the heat of the day have we seen our porters throwing themselves down under the shadow of some huge, projecting rock. No place so refreshing! No spot so cool! The great overhanging mass defies the penetrating rays of the tropical sun.

 

When a traveler, wearied and tired with the scorching heat of the jungle, comes upon such a resting place, and thinks of the Christ of God as "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land," what a volume of deepest meaning bursts upon him, as he is led to realize something of the refreshing rest which the soul may find in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

While our porters lay recovering their strength in the cool nook, untouched by the sun's rays, they could see in the distance the hill of Maungu, rising from the parched wilderness, and eagerly looked forward to the hope of getting some precious fluid from the basin-like depression on the top. Meantime they were extended at full length, while the frothy lips and wild, staring eyes of many, proved how difficult to these sons of Africa had been the journey across that inhospitable, burning jungle. Our children had suffered terribly from thirst, and lack of sleep and nourishment, but they were bearing up bravely with the expectation of soon getting a little water. They never seemed to take their eyes off the hill on whose hollow crowned top the liquid might be found.

 

The men, then somewhat rested, were once more called to their feet, and urged to make one last, desperate effort to reach the base of the hill which had been pointed out to them. There was a movement among the exhausted forms, and a hearty, but weak, effort was made to start again. Two headmen were appointed to keep in the rear of the caravan, and assist those porters who might be unable to go on. Strict orders were given that no man should be left behind without help.

 

The final dash was then made for the base of Maungu. The heat was indescribable. Never seemed tropical sun to beat down on the earth with more fiery fury than on that day. My husband, with perspiration streaming down, until his light cotton jacket was dripping wet, paced to and fro along the line of porters, encouraging and directing first one and then another, who seemed on the verge of faltering and throwing themselves into the bush. The long-looked-for hill, on which our hopes depended, came into view, and as often disappeared, as we kept winding our way through the dry, rugged and undulating forest. Sometimes it looked so very near, and yet seemed again to move away from us, as we advanced on our way.

 

However, the last half hour of the long march had come, for there stood the bold, bare rocks of the hill, jutting out before our eyes. How dry and barren and parched looked that pyramidal elevation, on the burning plain of undersized forest. Alas! if there be no water to quench the thirst of our little ones, and no refreshing draught for the frothy, parched lips of our one hundred and twenty half-dying men!

 

The porters of the forward part of the caravan had already reached the hill, and thrown themselves and their loads down at its base, under some huge euphorbia trees. There was a twofold expression on the faces of most of them, that of mixed victory and defeat: no one could say which predominated. They had arrived at the hill; but who was to climb and explore the hollow depression on the summit, where there was a chance of finding water, and — what if there were none?! Was there still the possibility that they had endured so much to pass through the fiery jungle, and reached that hill... only to die!?

 

The one half of the caravan were yet far behind, and the weakest men in that section might still be miles away, and unable to reach the camp. My husband selected a place for the children and myself to lie down under some shady trees, and then passed through the camp, carefully scrutinizing the facial appearance of the men, who were stretched out underneath the bushes, so that he might detect which of them were fit to go up the hill. Ten of those men who seemed least exhausted were called, and instructed to take all available water vessels and gourd shells, and make their way up the hill, and see what water, if any, was to be obtained.

 

In a couple of hours the water exploring party returned to camp, with the news that there was only a very little thick, muddy water on the hill. However, they came back to us with all their vessels full; and these were placed near to our tent, and guarded by men, who had been appointed to deal out to each carrier a certain measure. Like wild beasts, the porters rushed forward, and had to be kept back by force, until each in turn was served. Then several men were chosen to go back with some gourds of water to the late porters, who had not yet succeeded in reaching camp.

 

Before the sun had sunk below the horizon, several relays of men had ascended the hill, and brought down a further supply of the filthy liquid, which, for the time being, we gladly called “water”.

 

When darkness had fallen upon us, many fires were burning fast under the spreading trees, and some dozens of pots were gaily boiling; and, by the light of the camp fires, one could see moving from place to place the tired forms of men, who were now gladdened with fresh hope, and able to rejoice in the fact that the worst of the wilderness was passed.

 

CHAPTER 11
CROSSING THE WARPATH OF BLOODTHIRSTY MARAUDERS

 

On the morning succeeding our arrival at Maungu, every man of the caravan was weary and exhausted, through the toil and exhaustion of the previous thirty-six hours' continued march through the dried up wilderness. Their sinews were so stiff and inflexible that they could hardly move their torpid limbs. Never can the experiences of those two days and nights in the Taru desert fade from the memory of the carriers, who so bravely and firmly pressed forward through the inhospitable and arid jungle.

 

The one who seemed to suffer least in that progression through the trials and terrible experiences of the way, was my baby boy of fourteen weeks, whose smiling face and crowing notes often raised the hearts of the weary porters, and had a cheery and encouraging influence over the caravan.

 

Though sadly in need of further rest, we were obliged to move forward towards the course of the Voi river, where an abundant supply of water awaited us. Our path still lay through a waterless tract of country, in which the vegetation was more thin than that through which we had passed the two former days. Over the landscape rose here and there huge euphorbia trees, whose polygonal branches stretched out their long arms like giant chandeliers. Our rough, jagged track through the forest was very trying to the weary limbs of the porters, but they plodded on courageously under the scorching sun at a slow, steady pace; and, in the afternoon of the same day, were rewarded by seeing in the distance the long, dark green line of immense vegetation, which rose high above the surrounding stunted forest, indicating the moistened bed of the river Voi.

 

We reached the river some time before sunset, at a place where the waters divided in deltaic courses, rendering the work of fording much less difficult than it would have been some distance lower where the currents again converge into one main stream. In the act of crossing, several of our cases were dropped in the river, when the men lost their footing, while I and my baby were spattered with mud, as the two forward men of my carrying chair sank in the muddy bottom, and floundered about in their wild endeavors to free themselves. Our porters reveled in the flowing waters, and rejoiced in the fact that the dreary and thirsty desert was now left behind.

 

We pitched our camp amidst the labyrinthian recesses of the stunning tropical vegetation which bordered the river banks. While the tents were being pegged down, there were evident signs that the rainy season was upon us, and that drought would soon be no more. Heavy clouds came rolling up with that suddenness with which the equatorial rains are often ushered in, and, before the camp was fully prepared, the rain descended in torrents. Camp beds and bedding were still lying about, and some of these things got drenched with water. In a short time, floods, several inches deep, were rushing through the camp.

 

The porters had not yet collected fuel for the fires, and the night was fast coming upon us. Fortunately the heavy downpour soon subsided, and our men were then ordered to bring into camp large quantities of firewood, which, by this time, was well soaked with water. For the first time since leaving the Coast, the men were rather slow in obeying commands, and my husband found it necessary, in the interests of their own lives, to push them forcibly out of camp to bring in logs and fallen branches for the night.

 

The Coast porters become somewhat paralyzed and lethargic, when rain comes accompanied by a much lower temperature, and it is with great difficulty they are then driven to any work. They would, under such circumstances, die in camp and succumb to the rain and cold, rather than exert themselves to bring in firewood.

 

It is no unusual occurrence for several men of a caravan to die, during a rainy night, when they have not been compelled by the European to gather in large quantities of fuel, and keep up the fires until the morning. In one caravan camp, eleven porters were found lying dead in the morning, through neglecting to have a proper supply of firewood during a heavy rain storm. Huge fires must be sustained, and sufficient heat generated to turn the rain into steam, as it pours down in sheets, else the fires would be extinguished, and the porters perish. On this occasion, the shades of evening were closing around us before our camp fires were lighted, for, not only the wood, but the usual tinder was saturated with moisture, so that a large quantity of matches had to be used in kindling a fire.

 

We had in one airtight, zinc-lined box a stock of matches, sufficient for ordinary use for a period of eight years; and, fearing it might get lost, we had in addition a considerable quantity distributed through several other cases, so that, in any reasonable emergency, we might still have an available supply.

 

With the free use of these lucifers several large fires were soon burning, and the whole camp was lighted up by the flames, which rose eight to ten feet high, penetrating with their red glow every chink and cranny of the surrounding forest. Not one minute too soon, however, for shortly afterwards the rain was falling, once again, in torrents; and our porters were already discussing among themselves which was the greater of the two evils, to be parched by the drought of the waterless wilderness, or deluged by the tropical rains of the interior.

 

Without doubt, we had now entered upon the Masika or rainy season of that region. After leaving the valley of the Voi, and threading our way through a maze of tangled undergrowth for a few miles, we emerged into a high, rolling plateau of open forest country, and ascended towards the highlands of Taita, which was the first inhabited district we met with since leaving the Duruma country.

 

Taita was to us a promised land. There, for the first time, we commenced to use our barter goods in exchange for food, of which we were in dire need, for that which our men had carried from the Coast was then absolutely gone. The camp was pitched in a beautiful, park-like district, under some large shady trees, at the base of the steep Taita mountains.

 

The Mtaita chief, with several of his elders, came down from the hills, bringing to us the very acceptable present of a large goat and some fat fowls. He was made supremely happy by my husband throwing over his naked shoulders a handsome Indian colored cloth. He was told that our men were anxious to obtain food, for which they would exchange beads, wire and calico, and that his people would find a ready market for any kind of grain or sweet potatoes they might bring to the camp. He and his elders were greatly astonished at seeing our young children, and oftentimes he covered his mouth with his open hand, as a mute expression of wonder at his first sight of the young white people who had come to visit his country. He went back to his people to tell them of all the strange things he had seen, and very soon the camp was in motion with numbers of lively women and maidens, who had brought large quantities of beans and millet, fowls and sugar-cane.

 

Our men had now forgotten, for the time being, the exhaustion of the long, trying marches of the dreary wilds through which they had passed, and the wretched experiences of the previous night's rain, and all were bubbling over with good temper and friendly spirits.

 

It was then Saturday afternoon, and we arranged to stay in camp over Sunday. It was necessary to purchase a large supply of food, for, on leaving that district, we were to strike off into uninhabited jungle again, and would not be able to reach another inhabited region before seven or eight days. We were more than pleased, however, with the quantity of food the natives carried into our camp that afternoon, for which they received an exchange with which they were highly delighted. Our children quite took to a small pulse called "podye" which, when well washed and boiled, was very acceptable, served with venison.

 

On that day we had not more than one hour's heavy rain, but there was no necessity for driving the men to bring in firewood. They had remembered the experience of the previous night, and on this occasion huge logs of dry wood were freely piled up in great heaps, near to our tent and throughout the camp.

 

When the sun went down and darkness closed around what a scene of animation the camp presented, as the frisky flames from the fires leaped upwards, revealing the lively forms of the rank and file of the caravan. Some of the men preparing their evening meal, while others, who had earned their rest by bringing in firewood from the surrounding forest, or water from the mountain stream, lay at full length, munching with their great white teeth some of the sugar cane, which had been so freely purchased from the Wataita. On Sunday morning, the much needed rest was fully enjoyed by all. My husband preached in the Swahili language to our one hundred and twenty caravan men in the camp. The majority of them were nominal Muslims, who had been slaves of Coast Arabs, but everyone gladly gathered together and listened attentively to the Message. The way in which my husband began to talk to them at once disarmed their prejudice, and made every man feel that they and the preacher were mortal beings, confronted with the same problems of life and destiny, and that all alike needed a mighty Savior. At times, an animated smile would flit over their dusky features as some telling phrase was brought home to them with power; and, again, their serious, penetrating gaze would reveal the fact that God's message of redeeming love was being thoughtfully considered.

 

My husband spoke the Swahili language as fluently as his own, and, several times a week on the way up country, had impromptu Gospel meetings at night, after the men had partaken of their evening meal. These heart-to-heart talks, and they proved a great blessing. On the morning after our day's rest, our track lay through a stretch of thick forest, towards the course of the river Tsavo. Our men were then getting into better marching form, and we made splendid progress. Contrary to our usual custom, we ordered a halt at midday, owing to our children being rather hungry, as their morning repast had been partaken of before dawn by candlelight. While the porters were enjoying their rest, a fire was made by our cook, and in less than half an hour the kettle had boiled, and we were sitting round a cheering cup of refreshing tea and some biscuits.

 

We had little idea of what was happening at that moment in the forest, within thirty to forty minutes' march of where we sat, but on that afternoon there was brought very vividly before our minds one of the many marvelous providences of God.

 

We were soon on the move once again in a drenching thunder-shower. After we had proceeded for some time through the forest, our Kilangozi (guide) suddenly stopped the forward part of the caravan, and sent a rushed message for my husband to come up. When we arrived at the place where the men were standing, we found them all in an evident state of excitement, giving vent to suppressed ejaculations of "Masai! Masai!" It was plain to be seen that a numerous body of these plundering warriors had crossed our path, after the recent thunder-shower, for their tracks had been made in the sand since the rain had fallen. Their numbers were large, probably one thousand strong, for an exceedingly wide trail was beaten down in the forest by their countless footprints.

 

On that particular day we had been providentially led to make a fire and boil the kettle — quite an unusual thing with us on the march — and were thus delayed half an hour or more. Had it not been for this detention, our weak caravan would have met them in the teeth, and, in all human probability, we should have been murdered to a man by these fierce and bloodthirsty marauders.

 

It is very difficult to get the Coast natives, though armed with rifles, to make any defense against these bold and fearless natives of the interior. For generations they have been the terror of many weaker tribes. In their cattle-lifting and murdering expeditions, they have even reached the Coast districts which have been for centuries under Arab protection, and cleared the region of cattle, dealing death to the timid and unresisting natives.

 

On one of these Coast raids they murdered two unsuspecting Missionaries, who were engaged in building a little meeting house in the Galla country. The Masai entered their camp early in the morning; and, while the Missionary was seeking protect his wife, one of the natives thrust his long eight-foot spear through her side, and she dropped dead. The Missionary attempted to strike the man who had thus slain his young wife before his eyes, but three spears were immediately plunged into his own body, and he fell in the dust beside his dead wife.

 

On the day of our providential deliverance from that raiding multitude, we had a great deal of trouble in preventing our porters from deserting the caravan. They were terribly frightened, and mortal fear was depicted on many of their faces. They believed that the Masai were aware of our presence, and that they had determined to come upon us unexpectedly during the night, when settled down in camp. To prevent any of the men from secretly running away, my husband ordered that the caravan was to march in close file, and that no porter should leave the ranks under any reason at all. If delay was under any circumstance necessary, either for the rearranging of a load or any other purpose, the entire caravan was to stop on the pathway, until all could again move forward in one unbroken line.

 

When we got near to our camping place, the morale of our carriers was not improved, for close to the bed of the river Tsavo, in an open place in the forest, the skulls and bones of human beings were lying in great numbers. We heard that, on that spot, the Masai had previously surrounded and annihilated a caravan of men. We passed by the terrible scene of deadly slaughter, and forded the river, which was about three feet deep, determined to pitch on the further bank. There we found a large, circular fence of thorn bushes, fully six to eight feet high, with one narrow entrance, where either the slayers or the slain had probably encamped. Orders were given that the men should camp inside this thorny stockade, and the loads be stacked there, and that our tent was to be pitched outside the fence, covering the contracted entrance. My husband told the affrighted carriers that he would take the responsibility of defending the camp that night. Such a bold stroke gave considerable confidence to the men, and after an abundance of fuel and water had been brought in for the night, the porters settled down to cook their food.

 

For two reasons we were especially thankful that, on this occasion, the porters were enclosed in such a strong zareba. Within this high barrier, they themselves felt more secure from a sudden onslaught of the spears of the Masai, while we were fairly well ensured against the desertion of our men during the night, as our tent blocked the only exit from the enclosure, and no one could remove the thorns to make a passage through the fence, without attracting the attention of some of our headmen, who were instructed to be on the watch.

 

There was very little sleep that night for anyone. The excitement of the day, and the expectation of an attack at night, were not very helpful to sleep. Apart from this, the frequent, depressed grunt of the panther, and the continued bellowing roar of the lion, which was bowled out with enormous, penetrating power around our forest camp, was enough to drive sleep from the most sleepy of the caravan. Appointed sentinels patrolled the camp until grey dawn, but we were left unmolested, and the night was passed in safety.

 

At the call of the morning whistle, ere the eastern sky was brushed with red, we struck camp, and were soon wending our way in a north-westerly direction, through some open bush country, where animals were fairly plentiful, and the footprints of carnivores were often seen.

 

After a few days' further march, the supply of grain was getting low with our porters, and they were very anxious that the Bwana (Sir/Master) should shoot some antelope for them. My husband was unwilling to do this on the march, as it would delay considerably the progress of the caravan. It would have been quite desirable, however, to have shot some meat for them in the neighborhood of the camp, when the day's march was over; but with such a large caravan to command, and so much to be done before nightfall, it was not found convenient to go out hunting, and the animals never seemed prone to be helpful enough to carry their living bodies within shooting distance of our camp. In fact, the noise and commotion of the men, while engaged in pitching tents, and bringing in firewood and water, were enough to drive away any animals which might have been pasturing in the area.

 

However, one afternoon, after arriving in camp, he agreed to their request, as they were on short allowance, and, taking with him a couple of men, he went out to look for something for the pot.

 

In the course of half an hour, we heard the crack of the rifle, and very soon a man came running in with beaming face, bearing the news that the master had shot a zebra and wanted a dozen of men to bring in the meat. There was no difficulty in getting volunteers. Twice the number required rushed off with gleaming knives in their hands, and shortly afterwards returned with loads of tender zebra flesh to the rejoicing camp.

 

The caravan porters are usually bright and lighthearted when their work for the day is done, but on this evening they quite excelled themselves. They played and gamboled about like young kids, and every remark was choking full of native wit and amusement. There were feasts and festal fires in the bush that night, and there was no necessity whatever for any anxiety about adding meat to the burdens of the overladen porters on the next day's march, for the zebra completely disappeared that evening, with the exception of a few bare bones, which were left behind in the camp to be crunched by the hyenas.

 

For several days we marched through hilly, woodland country, which rose and fell with every mile of the track. The crests of the hills were covered with scrubby forest, and the deep defiles, dividing the elevations, were clothed with gigantic, umbrageous growth. In the rainy season, which was then upon us, every valley was a well nigh impassable mess, rendering progression slow, difficult and backbreaking. Day after day we were at best ankle deep in water, and, on low lying ground, the limbs of the porters often sank one to two feet deep in the slimy and viscid mud, and, as every foot was withdrawn, there was the clap of air entering the footprint. Sometimes, from the early morning till the hour of camping in the afternoon, the tropical downpour never ceased to fall, and every article of clothing upon the children and ourselves was dripping with water all the way. A continual stream of water ran down between our clothes and our skin, and, at every footstep, was jetting out of our boots. Even on hilly stretches of jungle, the narrow path through the forest became a river, through which we ploughed boot deep. Often were we obliged to lie between mattresses and blankets which had been saturated with moisture, and nightly had we to dry the children's clothing at the camp fire or, if the rain continued, over the red embers, brought inside the tent.

 

These terrible conditions could not but have resulted in serious illness, had it not been for God's protecting care and providence which in grace overshadowed our path.

 

On a sloping, wooded hillside we came once more upon another awful scene of carnage, which seemed horribly out of place with the natural surroundings, and so much out of harmony with those beautiful solitudes of God. Fresh looking skulls and bones of human beings covered the ground for a considerable distance, and, judging from the pieces of war implements and remains around the camp, we readily concluded that the dreaded Masai had come upon a caravan interior, and wiped them out, taking their goats and cattle.

 

The terrible sight of human slaughter struck fresh terror into the hearts of our men, and their fears of becoming the victims of a similar disaster seemed to weigh heavily upon their minds. They imagined that they saw Masai warriors behind almost every bush in the jungle. We were once more confronted with the probability that some of our men would run away, rather than meet the dangers which lay ahead in facing the spear-armed plunderers. Strict watch was kept during the night, so that the enemy might not be able to approach without being heard, and that our fear stricken porters might be prevented from deserting the camp during the hours of darkness.

 

These precautions were taken none too soon, for in the morning, when the roll was called, twelve men were missing, with rifles, accessories, food and cooking pots. This was to us a very serious matter as our one hundred and twenty carriers were barely sufficient for the porterage of our loads, and, on several occasions, our few pack donkeys, kept as transport reserve, had to be requisitioned for the carrying of the loads of disabled and sick porters.

 

Two courses only were open to us. On the one hand a supply could be left, and the dozen loads, whose carriers had deserted, could be thus hidden; but the trouble and expense involved in sending a caravan from the distant interior to fetch up these buried loads would be very considerable, while, in the meantime, we might suffer much from the need of them, as we had nothing but absolutely necessary supplies with us. On the other hand, an attempt could be made to hunt up and capture the runaways. If this were not done, a very bad example would be given to the porters, and the remainder might go off in batches at the sign of approaching danger, and thus, in the end, bring certain destruction to the caravan.

 

My husband decided that every attempt should be made to discover and arrest the runaway men. He proclaimed a halt for the day and, calling into line the most faithful of his men, he placed them with the headmen under my charge, instructing them to look after the safety of the caravan, and to allow no porter outside the grounds of the camp while he was away in search of the deserters. He then disarmed the rest of the porters, and had the rifles stacked in a tent, under guard. After a little time of prayer to God for guidance, he took six of the fleetest and most strong of his men and a long coil of rope; and, saying goodbye to me and the children, he started off on his search for the renegades.

 

To me, it was like a wild-goose chase, and I feared to think of what might be the result. Neither he nor I knew how far he might have to go, or when he might return. I could not help thinking that the Masai might come upon him, and murder him and his few followers. After he was away for a short time, I felt wholeheartedly the defenseless situation in which I was placed, with my little children in the midst of the jungle; and then of his still more dangerous position, with only half a dozen men. I had the most unspoken faith in his judgment, for I never knew anyone who had such wisdom in dealing with the natives. It was, to him, a gift from God. But how he could manage to catch twelve men with six porters I could not tell, and, indeed, none of the men in camp thought that he would be successful in catching them.

 

The children and I knelt down together, and commended to God their father, who was risking his life in going back over the tracks of the Masai. To the little ones it was only a day of rest in camp, and the hours passed happily by in their childish joy, while amused with the crawling insect life around them, and absorbed with the beauties of the surrounding hills, which were covered with various colors of plant life, amidst which strange birds chirped and tiny monkeys played.

 

Due to the significant work which fell into my care, the long anxious day passed more rapidly than I had anticipated, and when the shades of night fell upon the camp, there was no sign whatever of my husband's return. I felt unwilling to put the elder children to rest while my mind was filled with so much uncertainty as to what might be the outcome of his dangerous journey. The porters, who had been very faithful during the day, told me that I could not expect the Bwana to return with so few men in the darkness of the night.

 

Nearly four hours had gone since the sun had gone down, and, as final preparations for the night were being made, the report of a rifle was heard in the distance, and very soon my husband marched into camp, with his twelve runaways tied together about a yard apart with a strong rope. A great shout arose from the men, when the fugitives arrived in their midst, and many were the exclamations, in the Swahili language, "Hawawezi danganya Bwana huyu!" (They were not able to cheat this man!)

 

My husband had tracked the men for twenty miles, and eventually found them resting in the bush, and, surprising them suddenly, he took possession of their rifles and cartridge belts, and ordered them to fall into line. He then had them tied together and the return march was immediately begun, so that the search party covered forty miles on foot that day.

 

When the men were brought in, they were at once untied, and no punishment whatever administered to them. My husband showed no fear in any way that the loosing of the men, and thus trusting them, would result in a second similar escape. He seemed to have the unusual talent of knowing the best course of action to adopt in the midst of crucial and critical circumstances.

 

He had a deep, abiding love for the natives, and could discern, underneath their deceitfulness and trickery, many commendable and lovable traits of character. The keen, sharp eye ever sought out and aided the weak and ailing. If, however, some schemer came to him, pretending illness as an excuse for not being able to carry his load, he was very quick to detect the deception, and would make use of some word, which would expose the imposter and send him back to his load, in the middle of the laughter of the whole camp.

 

On the march, and when work was to be done, he was their absolute leader, guiding and directing them by a word, sometimes by a mere look of his eye. When the day's labor was ended, and they were all camped for the night, he was their companion and friend, and always had for them a joyful, good-humored comment, which gladdened their lives, and sent a thrill of good feeling through the camp.

 

There was one deep thought which moved and controlled his behavior towards them. They were part of the great harvest field, yet to be reaped: the wandering sheep that had yet to be gathered in. For them the Savior died. His love could reach them, and the Holy Spirit could regenerate their lives, and make them new creatures in Christ Jesus.

 


CHAPTER 12
THE HOME OF THE WILD WAKAMBA

 

Our porters were, on the whole, a cheery group of men, and our hearts often went out in deep sympathy with them, in the hardships and difficulties of the way, as they encountered dangers and risked their lives, in transporting our goods into the heart of the distant and unopened country. They carried heavy loads, of seventy to ninety pounds, from early dawn till the end of the day's march, and then were kept busy at the work of the camp till the shades of evening fell upon them. They only partook of food once a day, and that at night, after all their work was finished.

 

About five o'clock in the morning, we had a cup of tea or cocoa and some biscuits. The assembling whistle was then blown to awaken the prostrate forms of the sleepers, who lay scattered on the ground. Tents were taken down and loads packed by the light of the camp fires. At grey dawn, which comes at the equator shortly before six, the long file of porters marched out of camp.

 

On starting, the caravan might not cover more than four to five hundred yards of the track, but the more active and go-ahead men pressed forward, while the weak and sluggish lagged behind, and, unless special precautions were taken, the length of the caravan was soon drawn out to a couple of miles. The rear of the caravan, however, was always supported by one or two headmen, whose special duty it was to see that no stragglers fell out on the march.

 

In the early morning, even in the dry season, the long grass and bushes through which our course lay were dripping with dew, and our clothes and carrying chairs were always soaked with water, during the first few hours of the day's journey.

 

As the men passed along on their rough and rugged way through the bush, they warned one another of the difficulties and obstacles of the path. We became quite accustomed to such exclamations as, "Angalia! nyoka! " (Beware, snake); "Siafu!" (Biting ants); "Shimo!" (Hole); "Miiba tele!" (Thorns, plenty), etc. Thus, to the oncoming men of the rear, were announced the obstructions which awaited them, and, according to the old proverb, being warned, were half ready.

 

Petty stops were called now and again during the march, and about an hour before midday, when the sun was fiercely hot, a lengthy rest was given to the weary caravan. About three in the afternoon we usually halted for the night, but the time and place of camping was, in the dry season, decided totally by the water available and, in the season of rain, by the elevation of the district.

 

When our porters arrived at a place which we decided should be our camping ground for the night, the first work to be done was to pitch our tents. The loads of most valuable goods, with a special mark upon each box, were stored in a tent, in which three armed men slept at night. The other general goods, such as provisions, cases of gear and tools, were stacked in a pile on logs, to keep them from the white ants, and covered with a large cover. In time of rain, a trench was cut around each tent and stack of goods, to carry off the water.

 

If the place were thought to be very dangerous, due to the presence of treacherous natives or wild animals, a number of porters were sent out with axes, to cut down thorny trees in the surrounding forest, and a circular fence of considerable size was formed around the camp for protection.

 

If the position were not a dangerous one, the thorny enclosure was dispensed with, and the men proceeded to form little piles of grass and leafy branches of trees in a wide circle around our tents. Others gathered in huge piles of fuel for the night, and lit the necessary camp fires. These served the three-fold purpose of keeping off the lions and panthers, lighting the camp, and cooking the food. Large fires were kept burning near to the entrance of our tents and before each booth in the extended circle.

 

The entire caravan was divided up into small companies of five to six individuals, and each little group cooked and ate together, and slept in the same leafy recess.

 

When the covering of night falls on the camp, and all the fires are brightly burning, the scene is one of extreme weirdness and fascination. The plant life of the surrounding forest is lit up with the red glow of the camp fires. The animated figures of the porters are passing to and fro attending to their pots in which are being boiled large quantities of beans or some other kind of lentil or grain.

 

While the bean pots are sputtering, the babel of talk is something never to be forgotten. The porters speak to one another of the exciting incidents of the day. They talk of all that the white man has said or done. They discuss the probability of an attack by lions, or by the surrounding tribe during the night. They go over to one another their experiences of all the former caravans in which they have traveled, and tell of their hair-breadth escapes, and of the fate of many of their former companions in travel. They give to one another most graphic descriptions of the white men with whom they have journeyed in various parts of the continent, and, amidst giggling and often side-splitting laughter, they refer to their peculiarities and eccentricities, while they mimic their speech and action with great dramatic power.

 

After the pots are all emptied of their contents, and every appetite satisfied, the volume of sound dwindles and soon the weary porters have gone to sleep in their little temporary bowers. The guards, previously appointed, are now at their posts to keep up the camp fires and give warning of approaching danger. The howl of the hyena, the grunt of the leopard and the rolling sound of the lion stand out clearly on the still midnight air.

 

A few marches from the runaway camp brought us to a district where high, bare rocks stick out and large boulders were scattered about. Here we pitched our tents, late in the afternoon, at the conclusion of a long and tiresome journey.

 

Going up the vantage ground afforded us by one of these bare hills, we had a most glorious view of the great snow capped mountain, Kilimanjaro. In the evening, as we sat upon the summit of a big, sloping boulder, within two degrees of the equator, and gazed on that gigantic mass of earth, which rose over twenty thousand feet into mid-heaven, with its dazzling blanket of eternal snow, there came over us a feeling of dreamy awe that cannot be expressed. No wonder the natives call it the "Dwelling place of God." As our eyes were fixed in wonder and admiration on the lofty mountain, the disc of the sun was sinking fast below the horizon; and, as he disappeared, the huge dark cloud which, till then, had lingered high above the snow-clad dome of Kibo and the white towering cone of Kimawenzi, drew nearer to the glistening peaks, until cloud and mountain hold each other, and the charming scene gone from our view.

 

Retracing our steps to the camp, we were soon made aware of the nearness of the King of Beasts to our sleeping accommodations. On that particular night, lions seemed more abundant than usual as they answered one another from valley to gorge with full roar.

 

The presence of these beasts of prey was always betrayed by our transport donkeys, which were tied in the center of the camp. They served us as a sort of catlike indicator, indicating the degree of danger to which we were subjected by lions. Their timely warning, in the middle of the night or towards the early hours of morning, often roused our porters to pile more fuel on the campfires, which formed our great safeguard during the hours of darkness. When we were camping in the waterless jungle, where lions and leopards were entirely absent or rarely met with, our donkeys went off to sleep while standing in the camp; but when we entered districts which were infested by lions, these donkeys seemed quite sensitive to the feline odor around them, and seen in their fears and never-ending restlessness during the night.

 

The fresh spoor of lions and other carnivores were seen more frequently after crossing the Mekindu river, where the entire feature of the country suddenly changed, as if by the wand of the magician. Thick forest and scrubby jungle gave place to the most delightful landscape, covered with a carpet of green, juicy grass, where animal life roamed in superabundance, underneath the shadows of large clusters of leafy trees. As the caravan moves along on its winding path, snakes often dash through the bushes with incredible speed, and, at other times, are found lying dreamingly on the path, basking in the hot sun. Others are found wound up like a coil of variegated rope, and, at our approach, from the center of the coil they thrust out their poisonous head, as quickly as a dart leaves the bow, causing our men to make a fast retreat. At times one of these deadly reptiles of considerable length will glide sluggishly crossways the track, with open mouth and fangs erect, bringing alarm among the porters, who instinctively rise in the air, and, with the leap of a gymnast, jump out of the way.

 

As we proceed, our course opens into a park-like area, where a herd of zebra are lazily feeding, while the bright rays of sunlight show up the rare beauty of their shiny stripes. There a company of timid waterbuck, on becoming aware of our approach, rush through the acacia studded valley. Yonder a group of giraffe appear, with their heads gazing over the high mimosa trees, like visions of a former age.

 

Now we come upon an immense herd of the sportive and unpredictable gnu, whose lively and playful fun exceeds that of all the hoofed animals of the tropics. Big, burly bulls stand out from the herd at different points, as guards. Catching our smell, they bear down upon us with a lively leap, and suddenly come to a dead stop, as suddenly as if reined in by some unseen Hercules, and stare at us with almost rude curiosity. They then jump about around us at a respectful distance, with their bushy tails erect, and, lowering their heads to the grass until their shaggy beards sweep the dust, they fling their hind legs so high in the air, that one would think they were intent on turning a somersault.

 

Becoming at length assured, in their own minds, of our harmlessness or otherwise, they rush back to the herd, bearing news of the strange intruders, and soon the vast company, as if responding to a trumpet-call, start off at a swaying gallop, head and rump rising and falling alternately, as they move across the fertile plateau.

 

In the vicinity of the Mekindu river, we rested a couple of days to get some meat for the porters, and then moving forward, we crossed the Kiboko river, which presented considerable difficulties to our porters when fording, owing mainly to the long stretch of sud or bog, which lay on either side of the current. Once more we entered upon thick bush country, which was alive with rhinoceroses, and our caravan men had some exciting experiences.

 

The African rhinoceros, which, next to the elephant, is the largest animal existing, is a most fierce and dangerous beast, and more dreaded by the natives than even the lion. Unlike the Indian species, seen in the zoos of Europe, his skin does not lie in folds, but is drawn tight over his body; and he is armed with two heavy horns, of from eighteen to forty inches in length, placed one behind the other above the nose.

 

The smell and hearing of these pachyderms are remarkably sensitive, and, at four or five hundred yards, or even more if the breeze is in their favor, they will catch the smell of a human intruder upon their domain, and rush through brake and thicket straight for the spot, spurting and puffing like a steam engine. Their charge is overwhelmingly fast, as they rush windward on their cruel course, while the terror-smitten porters, throwing down their loads, flee here and there to escape the arrival, and become as swift in climbing the nearby trees as the chimpanzee of the forest.

 

My husband had rather an amusing experience, one day, while shooting some flesh for his men. Seeing a huge rhinoceros in a contracted opening in the forest, he cautiously approached it with the wind in his favor, until he got dangerously near to the ferocious brute. It instantly raised its head, and began sniffing up the air, in a manner which indicated a suspicion that there was some foe lurking in the vicinity. As the animal was wheeling round to charge, my husband, realizing that that moment was his only possible opportunity, covered it below the ear, and firing, dropped it apparently stone dead.

 

Going up to the rhinoceros, he caught hold of the long forward horn, and was, for a moment, startled to find the body moving, as if attempting to rise. The huge animal had fallen, with its four pillar-like legs doubled up together underneath it, and was resting on them, as on a pivot, with the head raised from the ground in a natural life-like position.

 

My husband whistled upon his men in the distance to come forward to flay the meat which had been secured, and, with eager expectation, they came running at a trot. While the men cautiously drew near to the head of the monster, my husband got behind the animal, and, placing the muzzle of his rifle against the rump, pressed it forward with a thrust. As the head moved towards the oncoming men, so frightened were they, thinking that the animal was about to rise to the charge, that they turned and scampered off, as fast as their heels could carry them: nor could they be convinced to return until they saw my husband sitting on the back of the monster.

 

Our camp at Ungarunga or Rock-pool, in the thick bush, was quite upset by these animals one night, as they came in numbers to wallow in the great, natural basin, from which we drew our water. They marched through the camp, stamping out the fires, while some of our men had narrow escapes. One of the porters rushed headfirst out of camp ahead of the angry beasts, and, on scrambling up an nearby boulder to save his life, he was terrified to find another of these brutes on the other side of the rock. So alarmed were the men by the night-time invasion of these malicious monsters, that they were unable to sleep during the rest of the night.

 

They were delighted when dawn broke, and, in the dim light of the early morn, we left the camp of unpleasant memories, and hastened on by a zigzag path through a jungle, where the tracks of the pachyderms were in continual evidence. In some places the ground had been plowed up by their horns, trees stripped of their bark, and thickets flattened down and destroyed.

As we journeyed on our way, through drenching sheets of rain, which covered the ground and turned it into spongy mud, in which our feet sank ankle deep, we entered among some rolling hills, overgrown with stunted acacias, and interspersed with deep valleys, which seemed to be the favorite home of companies of wild boars. There were some rocky elevations, rising at intervals over the landscape, on which a species of fig tree flourished, and the fallen fruit from these, together with roots and grass, formed the primary food of these large tusked swine.

 

It is marvelous how quickly they trot along, on scenting danger, and, if pursued, they will often stop, raise their head, and look over their shoulder to see how far the enemy is behind; and, if pressed hard, will make for the nearest cave. If the male is brought to bay, he is a most dangerous animal and, so formidable is he, that he will try to defend himself against the King of the Forest. When the lion springs upon the boar, the latter receives him on his powerful tusks. Natives have seen, at times, the lion and the wild boar lying dead together, both having succumbed while engaged in mutually destructive combat.

 

Dropping gradually down from these undulating hills, we approached the well-wooded valley, through which flowed the river N'dange. As we marched over low lying, swampy ground and drew near to the river, the roar of water was truly terrific, and spoke to our porters a difficult crossing. On we pressed through the interlacing growth of large trees and creepers, which lined the wide -spreading banks.

 

Never can we forget the thrilling scene which confronted us, as we emerged from the undergrowth. The thundering waters leaped over jutting rocks and giant boulders, madly careering on their way to the ocean, through a sylvan avenue of large-foliaged trees, whose overhanging branches were kissed by the foaming stream.

 

The available fording place was situated at a rapid, over the top of some irregular, slippery and indented rocks, whose elevated ridges lay two to three feet underneath the surface of the boiling river. The carriers' burdens were stacked together, while many attempts at crossing were made by the boldest and bravest of our men, some of whom narrowly escaped sliding into the holes which lay on the low side of the rocks. With the aid of stout poles, they were eventually able to find safe footing, and, after some hours of patient labor, the loads were transported to the further bank of the river, where we camped and gave our porters a couple of days' well earned rest.

 

After plowing through rough jungle and muddy swamps for several hundred miles, at times pitching our tents in slushy camps, our clothing and bedding, which were handled by unwashed porters, had got into a disgraceful condition. Some of the most capable of our men were therefore started to the work of washing and repair, and, when everything was done, they were allowed to amuse themselves fishing on the shady banks of the gurgling river.

 

With a piece of cord and a crooked pin, and a grasshopper or fly for bait, some of them were successful in bringing into camp a fairly large haul of tender, well flavored fish, which did much to break the monotony of the dull food of the jungle.

 

After journeying for one month from the Coast, we entered the thickly populated, southwestern tract of the Ukamba country, and our porters were rejoiced at the prospect of being able to exchange the barter goods for food, as our supply was absolutely empty. According to the winding track which we had followed through the forest, we had then covered a distance of three to four hundred miles.

 

Our tents stood in the middle of a crowded population, and we were amazed at the large numbers of natives who surrounded our camp. The people were of very fine body type, the women stout, plump and erect, while the men were tall, muscular, agile and athletic, and of graceful manner. There was nothing unpleasant about the features of this tribe, whose territory bordered on the equator. We found them very much superior in intelligence to many of the tribes we had met in the country five to six degrees south latitude, but infinitely more wild and dangerous. The men were quite naked, and the women almost entirely so, as their only covering consisted of a small apron four or five inches square.

 

The bold and brave Wakamba warriors were armed with large bows, and quivers full of poisoned arrows were slung over their shoulders. These darts were capped with a spatulate head of native iron, as sharp as a razor, and smeared with a deadly mixture, which is fatal to the largest quadruped if only it enters a surface vein.

 

The warriors surged round our tent to see the newly arrived white man and his children. Never before had they or their forefathers witnessed such a sight, for no white woman or child had ever entered the borders of their country, and they stood in blank amazement, critically scanning the white-skinned mother and her young children, while ejaculations, I am afraid far from flattering, followed one another in rapid succession.

 

We were camped in the midst of the beautiful rolling hills of Kilungu, and we realized the wonderful opportunities existing there for the preaching of the Gospel. The country in which we had purposed opening work lay over one hundred and fifty miles further inland, but we could not help contemplating the favorable conditions presented in that crowded district for establishing a Mission.

 

We heard from our Kilangozi that the natives of that part of the country were famed for being deceptive and treacherous, and often attacked men of their own tribe in other districts. This latter trait of character was so unusual, among all the tribes we had ever seen, that we could not at first believe it. The truth of the assertion was afterwards sufficiently verified, however, when an Mkamba from another part was laid hold of by these warriors, and a strip of skin, an inch wide and twelve feet long, was taken from his body, running from the ankle on the one leg, right over the crown of the head, and down to the ankle of the other. He was then released and told to go home, and make known to his people the sort of men they were. The poor fellow died on his return journey in unbearable pain.

 

Although there has existed, for ages, a deadly hatred between the different tribes, and they have been forever engaged in intertribal warfare, and inflicting unthinkable tortures and mutilations upon one another, yet, as a rule, the people of any single tribe are quite friendly with those of the same clan, throughout their entire boundary. There is among them a strong spirit of unity and agreement, which enables them to present an undivided front against the surrounding tribes, which are their chronic foes.

 

After we were some time in our camp among the Wakamba, there was quite an uproar among our men, and there seemed a great danger of a general fight between them and the natives. My husband rushed out among them, and asked about the cause of the fight, and brought our own porters and the natives concerned before our tent. After due investigation, it was discovered that some of the meal, which had been received by our men in exchange for beads, consisted of a mixture of meal and wood ashes. This we considered a very serious matter, as our carriers would thus be deprived of proper nourishment, while there was a great probability of the wood ashes inducing among them an outbreak of dysentery or sickness.

Although the natives took up a very threatening attitude, my husband decided that the beads given for this contaminated food must be returned immediately. After considerable clamoring and hesitation, these were produced, and the stuff was handed over to the natives, with the remark that meal made from wood ashes might be very good for themselves, but the Mzungu (white man), who had come to their country, must have flour made from millet, just as it was pounded in the mortar without any additional flavoring! The lesson thus taught these natives, on our first introduction to them, served a practical purpose, and there were no more wood ashes brought to our camp.

 

From the heart of the Kilungu country, we rather unwillingly took our departure, as we had become quite attached to these wild and wily barbarians. After one or two hours' marching, we experienced very considerable difficulty in discovering any track which led in the direction to which we wished to proceed. Eventually we reached some steep, pathless hills, and, finding no beaten passage, we were obliged to enter the course of a wide but shallow river, about one and a half to two feet deep, and march for seven hours against the stream as it wound its way through these pathless heights.

 

The waters rolled along over an alternate sandy and rocky bed, and swiftly rushed underneath the overhanging bushes and creepers, which covered the banks on either side.

 

Our children were carried in their chairs, but I was too heavy for my men to carry me along under such poor and trying circumstances. My husband took my arm, and we walked up the stream together. My short walking skirt I tucked up under my belt. Never, I think, in all my experience have I had such a wearing march, although, on several occasions, I had walked through miles of swamp in the Useguha country. Now and again we plunged into holes, three to four feet deep, in which we floundered in our attempts to reach a more shallow part of the muddy current. At times, some of the children were thrown out of their chairs into the water, when one of their carriers had stumbled and fallen.

 

Our limbs ached terribly with the never-ending battling against the stream, and our heads became dizzy, due to the continual movement and rippling of the waters. Frequently we rested on some of the large elevated rocks which protruded their heads in mid-current, while the water was streaming from our clothing. It seemed that day as if the whole caravan, black and white alike, had suddenly turned amphibious. Fortunately the sun overhead was splitting the rocks, and the water was of a fairly high temperature.

 

As we ascended the stream, the current became more cramped and rapid, and depressions in the bed of the stream more numerous. A few of the porters got some ugly bruises through tumbling into these, and several of the loads got soaked.

 

Our hearts were gladdened, when, in the afternoon, we found that the trackless hills had been skirted, and we emerged from the river bed unto an rolling, grassy plain. There we pitched our tents, and large fires were soon made, and our clothing changed and dried. In one or two hours after leaving the river, we felt our limbs so hurt that we could barely move about the camp to attend to the preparation of our evening meal.

 

After the necessary fires had been made, and the porters had cooked and partaken of their first and last meal that day, they stretched themselves at full length on the green grass, and soon were wrapped in sleep, and unmindful of all the impediments and difficulties they had encountered in the rough and winding stream.

 

CHAPTER 13
THE PERILS OF THE MARAUDING MASAI AND TREACHEROUS WAKIKUYU

 

The matter of food for ourselves and family was already becoming a difficult problem in that unopened region. We had expected to be able to get fowls, and a sheep or goat now and again to supply the food store, as we gladly could have done when traveling in the Usagara and Ugogo countries. In this, however, we were sadly disappointed. We had brought out with us from London supplies of dry food, such as flour, biscuits, tea, cocoa, etc., but had thought it wise to avoid the tinned meats and vegetables, which usually constitute the most important items in the provision lists of travelers in Equatorial Africa. We had hoped that at least we might get sweet potatoes in the inhabited districts, but these were very scarce, and could not be obtained, though we offered the most attractive barter goods. There was very little opportunity for baking bread on the march, and we were reduced to cocoa and biscuits, and our children were beginning to suffer from poor nutrition.

 

In all the country we had traversed on this expedition, we were unable to get any fresh milk for our little ones. Unhappily, it can rarely be had in a clean, pure state from any of the tribes throughout the regions of Central Africa. The gourd shell, into which the cow is milked, is smeared inside by some natives with the fresh excrements of cattle, while others flavor the milk with cow urine. We were fortunate enough in having with us a couple of cases of condensed milk, and this was brought into demand on the march.

 

We were now approaching the district in which the Imperial British East Africa Company had built two forts, and were looking forward to getting a more plentiful supply of food in that part of the country, and perhaps one or two of the native zebu cattle to take with us up country for milking purposes.

 

After two days' further marching, through a broad, winding defile in the hills covered with scrubby jungle growth, we came upon the first of these forts, at Machakos.

 

We were met by Mr. John Ainsworth, who was in command of the fortified position, and had a large number of native Coast soldiers drawn up with fixed bayonets, in honor of the first European lady to enter that region of Africa. Mr. Ainsworth very kindly entertained us while there, and did all in his power to make us comfortable. The fort was situated at an altitude of five thousand feet above sea level, and, although it was very hot during the day, the thermometer dropped low enough after sundown to make one feel somewhat chilly. Our friendly host had a log fire made in the middle of the grass-thatched quarters in which we dined, and, there being no chimney, the smoke had to make its exit through the roof.

 

Mr. Ainsworth's predecessor had had a good deal of trouble with the natives, and some serious fighting had to be done to keep these intelligent natives at bay. Such was the state of the country when we arrived, that it took a force of twenty to thirty rifles to carry a letter from Machakos fort to the second stronghold about fifty miles further inland; and even then, the journey was not always accomplished in safety.

 

We found at the fort Mr. Scott Elliott, an eminent scientist, who, with his caravan, had preceded us on the journey from the Coast. It was considered too dangerous for them to proceed any further into the interior, although well armed, and therefore they were awaiting the arrival of our caravan, so that they might join forces with us on the most hazardous part of their journey.

 

The borderland of the Masai and Kikuyu countries — the home of the raiding natives — lay some fifty miles ahead, and this was considered the peak of the danger zone to all caravans passing that way. Our porters were conscious of the extreme risk involved and the strongest possible precautions were necessary to frustrate all attempts at desertion. Mr. Elliott's plan was to skirt the danger zone, and pass on by the caravan route through the open country of Naivasha to Kavirondo on Lake Victoria Nyanza, while our purpose was to pass through the unopened Kikuyu country to the base of Mount Kenya.

 

After a day's rest, to enable the porters to refill their supply of native grain, we started out with a united caravan of over two hundred men. For several hours, we proceeded on our way over a rolling country, which was swarming with animal life. In some parts it was almost treeless, except along the beds of rivulets and periodic streams, where there nourished a species of acacia, the same as the shittim wood used by the Israelites when making the tabernacle in the wilderness.

 

Early in the afternoon of that day, when we were drawing near to our camping place among some jungle where water was available, my husband went on ahead with the main body of the caravan to direct the pitching of the tents, and other matters concerning our camp for the night. A few straggling porters of the tail end of the caravan, and the carriers of the chairs were behind; and, as they were very weary, it was somewhat difficult for me to persuade them to increase their speed, and keep in touch with the rest of the porters. I fixed my baby in the chair and, taking my little daughter with me so as to lighten the carriers' burdens, we started off to walk in front of the men, to encourage them to come on more speedily with the other younger children, who then occupied the carrying chairs.

 

Marching thus along the track for some time, absorbed with the charming scenery around, I became suddenly fixed to the spot with sheer terror at the sight of a huge lion and lioness crawling out of the bush before me, on the right hand side of the path we were following. My heart beat furiously as I realized that my husband was out of sight, and we had no one to protect our lives. The children, who were being carried on the chairs, were quickly approaching behind, and the one who accompanied me was at my feet. Seeing the probability of my little ones being devoured before my eyes, I lifted up my heart to God, and asked Him what I ought to do. We all carried policemen's whistles to warn each other of the approach of danger. Instinctively I raised the whistle, which was suspended from my neck, and blew a loud blast, and to my great relief the two lions ceased to approach us, and turned down into a canyon close by, and passed out of sight.

 

My husband, hearing the whistle, rushed back, and after some time arrived at the place with rifle in hand, but only just in time to catch a glimpse of the two lions, as they passed between some bushes on the further side of the gully.

 

The following morning we marched along at an accelerated rate, over an almost treeless plain, which was studded here and there with clusters of wait-a-bit thorn. This rolling plateau extends in an almost unbroken line, from the base of Mount Kenya at the equator, to the hills of Uhehe seven degrees south, a distance of five hundred miles. Broadly speaking, it is never more than one hundred miles wide and, at some places, not quite fifty. On the indented sides of this vast plain, where the higher and more fertile forest land throws upon it tongues of alluvial soil, there were clumps of trees with intervening small valleys, which formed a landscape of great beauty.

 

During the past ages, this high prairie-like land has been the home of the fearless, nomadic Masai tribe, who love its rolling grassy stretches, on which they herd their thousands of zebu cattle. These fierce and bloodthirsty plunderers have maintained and enlarged their herds, by robbing alternately every clan within several hundred miles of their border. For centuries they have been the champion cattle-lifters and murderers of the interior, and the terror and dread of less daring and courageous tribes. On these raiding expeditions, it is computed that not less than a score (20) of human beings are left rolling in their blood, for every single head of cattle captured. Oftentimes, when resistance is well maintained against the plunderers, by the defending tribe, hundreds of men are slaughtered without a single ox exchanging hands.

 

The Masai tribe survive on flesh and milk only, and would not agree to allow any of the cereal or vegetable products of the earth to touch their lips.

 

Out on these open Masai plains, scenes may be witnessed which can never be repeated in any other part of the world. Thousands of wild animals are found browsing and sporting together, and, even of one species, single herds have been seen by us which approximated two thousand head.

 

At times, several kinds of antelope get intermingled, and then the heart of any zoologist would be delighted with the fascinating scene of animated nature. In these blended companies may be found groups of the majestic eland, the fleet and lively zebra, the enquiring hartebeest, the suspicious waterbuck, the whimsical wildebeest and the picturesque, brindled gazelles; while, towering heavenward above them all, there is the stately giraffe, who seems to live in cloudland, and yonder, in the distance, may be discerned the dark outline of the gigantic rhinoceros, enjoying his sun bath, in the isolation which fits his confrontational personality.

 

On that comparatively treeless plain we camped for several nights, as we journeyed westward. It was impossible for us there to have such immense night fires as had lighted up our camps while coming through those several hundreds of miles of bush and forest, which then lay behind. Were it not for the fact that the acacia will burn even when green, we should have had no firewood at all. However, the dried excrements of zebra and other animals were quite plentiful, and these made a very hot fire, and admirably served for cooking purposes. About halfway across the plain, we struck the Athi river, in which there was such a flow of water as rendered fording difficult and dangerous. Hippopotamuses and crocodiles were very numerous, and, as the men were attempting to cross, many were the remarks about the probability of becoming a meal for the reptiles. A few shots, however, fired into the water on each side of the fording line, rendered the passage of the crocodile infested river comparatively safe; but it was difficult, nevertheless, when in the midst of the thick, muddy stream, to overcome the feeling of dread which the presence of these large-mouthed monsters inspired. Every moment, the men were expecting their legs to be crunched, while they nervously made their way crossways the onrushing current, which flowed over a treacherous and uneven bed.

 

Leaving the Athi river, our next camp was on the border of the Kikuyu country; and the sight which met the gaze of our porters, as we pitched on an elevation, on the further bank of the Nairobi river, was sufficient to strike terror into the heart of every man in our caravan. Human skulls and bones were so plentiful in the vicinity of our encampment that no one could pass through the grass without striking the foot against them at every few yards.

 

Due to the charnel field with which we were surrounded, the camp was not altogether a desirable one, but we could not have improved upon the situation for security and convenience. Before us, about six hundred yards away, was the dense black line of the forest, in which the Wakikuyu were in hiding, and where their numerous camp fires were visible; and, between that and our camp, there was a clear stretch of ground, where the natives might be readily detected in any attempt to come up to our camp. Behind us was the flowing Nairobi stream, from which we drew our water, and beyond that, at a long distance in our rear, were the quarters of the El Moran or fighting men of the Masai.

 

There was very little necessity to give any special caution to our guards to be on the alert, for they and the whole caravan were anticipating an attack at every moment of the night. Before daylight we partook of a cup of cocoa, and, as the faint glimmer of dawn touched the heavens, we were once again on the march.

 

An advance guard of ten porters, chosen for their courage and common sense, were sent on about two hundred yards ahead of the main body of the caravan, to give us timely warning of any apparent danger which lurked in the distance, so that our porters might be able to drop their loads together, in the form of a wall, behind which they might seek to defend themselves.

 

As we entered the dense, wooded belt, various kinds of monkeys showed themselves among the branches of the towering trees, and, without any warning, there burst upon us a great volume of shrieking, screaming noise, as if the whole forest had been suddenly turned into a uproar. Our caravan instinctively paused for a moment, and it was then found that the sole cause of this turmoil and commotion was the fact that a big leopard, who was evidently bent on having a monkey for breakfast, had prematurely made his appearance and, having been seen by the quadrumanous troop in the trees, the whole band joined together in making the forest ring with their terrified uproar.

 

Numerous warriors of the Kikuyu tribe passed us in the thick bush. They were a sturdy, stout race of men, of only medium stature, and with round, unpleasant features, bearing a surly, depressed countenance. They were armed with broad-bladed spears and, in some cases, bows and poisoned arrows. They seemed a much less agreeable type than the Wakamba natives, through whose country we had already passed. Their bodies were covered with bright red clay and castor oil. On the lower part of the body they had no covering, while over the shoulders of a few a short piece of goatskin was tied which hung down to the waist. We had not penetrated far into their forest before we had strong evidence of their treachery. On the side of the track we followed, our attention was drawn to the naked and mutilated bodies of five men, who had just been freshly murdered. My husband made inquiries, and found that these men, who were of the Masai tribe, had been invited, under a false pretence, to a Kikuyu village and, when there, had been treacherously killed and their bodies thrown out in the forest.

 

We then emerged from the dense bush into more open forest country, which was interspersed with long, narrow stretches of grassy valleys. Here we met with large numbers of Masai warriors, bearing seven-foot spears, which glistened brightly in the morning sun. We had been long familiar with this fierce, pillaging tribe, having met with them in the Ugogo and Uhehe countries, in 1885, while working with the tribes south of Lake Victoria Nyanza. They are the most warlike tribe in Central Africa, of splendid physique, high stature and commanding look.

 

In every way, these warriors of the plain are superior to the Wakikuyu of the forest, with whom they have often engaged in deadly conflict; but the fastnesses of the impenetrable jungle make the Wakikuyu almost untouchable. The Masai warriors, after the manner of the Kikuyu natives, are naked, except for a piece of skin about eighteen inches deep, which, slung over the shoulder, simply serves to cover the lungs.

 

They are quite sharp and intelligent, like the naked Wakamba of the hills, and are their equal in cruelty and savagery, but are much more easily dealt with, and more open and forthright in their manner, than the wily bowmen of the rugged heights.

 

We eventually arrived within sight of the second fort, which had been recently erected by the Imperial British East Africa Company, on the border of the untrodden Kikuyu land, where it joined the territory of the Masai. Mr. F. G. Hall was in charge of this fortification, with a large number of trained native soldiers from Zanzibar.

 

As we approached the fortress he came out to meet us, and gave us a hearty welcome, expressing, at the same time, his intense surprise at the arrival of a lady and little children in such a hostile country. A numerous body of soldiers had been drawn up on each side of the track with fixed bayonets; and, through the double file of men, we passed on towards the fort and, crossing the drawbridge, which was suspended over the deep moat, we entered very friendly accommodations. Mr. Hall most kindly loaned his room for us and our children, and used the storeroom himself. Nothing was lacking on his part to make our short stay in that country dwelling happy and comfortable.

 

There had been substantial fighting, and large numbers of lives lost during the short time since the first caravan of armed men, under the command of the valiant Major Smith, had arrived among those dangerous natives. Mr. George Wilson, afterwards Deputy Governor of Uganda, and formerly in command of the fort, was a very tactful man, but was so desperately besieged by the Wakikuyu, that he and his soldiers found it necessary to flee, during the darkness of the night, and, with considerable difficulty, escaped with their lives.

 

At the time we arrived at Kikuyu, Mr. Hall was practically a prisoner in the fort, and in a very dangerous position, but he bravely clung to his post. He was unable to go out, or to know anything of the topography of the surrounding country, and could not even take exercise a few hundred yards outside the rude drawbridge of the fortification, without thirty to forty riflemen by his side. An armed force always accompanied his men while they were drawing water, at a stream situated at a distance of about two hundred yards. In spite of all these safety measures, some of his men were killed on several occasions. At times, when food was scarce, he had sent out numbers of armed men to the Wakikuyu, to exchange the barter goods they carried for grain or beans, and many of these food parties were cut up and murdered.

 

Mr. Hall, in a friendly manner but yet most fervently, assured us of the great danger of opening up Missionary work in the country, on the ground that we and our children would certainly be slaughtered, and asserted that it would be totally impossible to carry out our idea of entering into the heart of the Kikuyu country, which no white man, with a properly armed force, had yet been able to penetrate.

 

There could be no doubt regarding Mr. Hall's sincerity and great interest in the safety of our lives, and my husband eagerly appreciated his kind advice, but, at the same time, having had varied experiences with many tribes of the interior, he believed that he might be enabled by God to achieve that which an equipped armed force could not accomplish.

 

Seeing that my husband was determined and firm in his purpose to pass through the sealed territory of these treacherous natives, and establish a Mission, Mr. Hall wrote him the following official letter: —

 

Imperial British East Africa Company,

Kikuyu Fort,

December 13th, 1893.
To Stuart Watt, Esq., Kikuyu.
Dear Sir,

As regards your intention of starting a Mission in this district, I feel it my duty to warn you of the danger of such a proceeding. The treacherous nature of the Wakikuyu is so well known and has been exhibited on so many occasions that it is useless for me to enlarge upon it ; but I need scarcely say that I consider it unsafe for any European to settle in this district at present unless accompanied by a considerable armed force and occupying a properly fortified position. I shall be most happy at all times to render you every assistance in my power should you persist in your present scheme, but at the same time must respectfully decline to be in any way responsible for the lives or property of your party once out of rifle range of this fort.

I have the honor to be,  Dear Sir,  Your obedient servant, ' {Signed) Francis G. Hall.

 

After trading for a considerable amount of grain from the natives for our caravan, and saying goodbye to our kind host, we were ready to make another forward movement, and enter the heart of the Kikuyu country, which had never been accomplished by any European.

 

Mr. Joseph Thomson, Commander of the Royal Geographical Society's expedition to Kenya, who skirted the uninhabited border of the Kikuyu country, writes of the Wakikuyu, "No caravan has yet been able to penetrate into their country, so dense are the forests and so murderous and thievish are its inhabitants." There was some difficulty in getting our men into line. They fully realized the dangers which might be lurking in the distance, and very unwillingly did they answer to the roll call, and take up their loads once again for the march. While resting at the fort, they had heard from the soldiers numerous tales of murder and slaughter, which had been perpetrated by the treacherous natives; and this completely frightened them, and reduced them to a state of hopeless terror. Had it not been that extreme precautions were taken, many of the men would undoubtedly have deserted.

 

Our purpose was to reach the dense population which, according to native reports, was concentrated near to the snow-clad mountain of Kenya. Our path lay almost due north, through a dense and nearly impenetrable, bushy jungle, along a range of hills, at an elevation of about six thousand feet above sea level. Away to the west of our path, these densely covered hills attained a height of probably eight to nine thousand feet, forming an extensive watershed, while, at some distance on the east of our track, they dropped to an altitude of four or five thousand. This range was intersected, every few hundred yards, by numerous deep gullies, covered with massive and luxuriant vegetation, through which rushing torrents fought their way eastward against all obstructions.

 

It was exceedingly difficult, at times, to make a passage through the rank growth, which covered the steep slopes of these gorges. The greater part of two months had now gone since we left the Coast, and never before had our porters had such very tiring marches. It is indeed impossible to imagine the oppression and labor they endured, in ascending out of these deep, steep ravines, which cut through our track at close intervals. Often, when emerging from some of these low depressions unto the top of the succeeding ridge, a signal was given to our out of breath, sweaty porters to stack their loads for a few minutes to recover breath. When the carriers then looked back upon the height which they had left an hour ago, now separated from them in a beeline by only a few hundred yards, they felt disheartened at the necessity of expending so much labor to accomplish the insignificant progress of about half a mile.

 

We had then entered a fairly populous part of the country, and could see the energetic, armed warriors flitting about among the bushes, and all evidently very much interested in the movements of our caravan. Very few women or children were to be seen, and this was not, in my husband's estimation, a favorable sign. Nevertheless, with the utmost courage, he pressed forward.

 

We had with us a very suitable interpreter. He was a native, who had formerly belonged to the Wakikuyu tribe, and, when quite a youth, had been captured by a neighboring clan, and sold as a slave to the Coast Arabs. He spoke the Swahili language, with which we were quite familiar, and had not forgotten his mother tongue. For this reason he was invaluable to us, not only as an interpreter for communicating with the wild natives of the forest, but also as a reliable guide through that unknown land.

 

The country we had entered offered unthinkable difficulties to the safe progress of our caravan, due to the extremely complex paths through the matted vegetation, while the deep ravines, into which we had to descend, were real death traps if surrounded by hostile natives.

 

The unhappy countenance of our porters betrayed the intense feelings of fear and dread which lurked in every heart; and sometimes they openly made use of expressions to one another such as, "Tutakufa leo!" "Mwisho welu karibu!" (Today we shall die! Our end is near!) Nevertheless, a few tactful words from my husband, interspersed with some cheerful good-natured remarks, inspired their courage, and increased their determination to move forward.

 

On we pressed, until the sun was lowering in the western heavens with a golden red, when we reached a suitable place for camping. It was a most delightful evening, and an exhilarating breeze from the ice-clad heights of Kenya blew softly through the green forest. We pitched our tents on the border of one of the most beautiful valleys the eye could see, near to a rippling stream of clear, cool water, which flowed underneath a dense, overhanging mass of tropical vegetation. The banks of the babbling brook were thickly lined with rich, maidenhair ferns. Before us stretched open glades surrounded by thick clumps of lofty and impenetrable bush, and intertwining vines. The deep green creepers covered the topmost branches, and swung gracefully from tree to tree.

 

Into the gloomy depths of some of these dense thickets a narrow passage had been cut, and a large, round space cleared in the center; and there, surrounded by a natural wall of forest growth, impassable alike to man and beast, the natives had built their low grass huts. To each of these hamlets there were several misleading, narrow tracks, which were studded with sharp, poisoned spikes of wood, so hidden as to ensure the destruction of the enemy who might be daring enough to tread on the approaches to their homes. A circuitous path, which only the initiated could follow, led to the entrance of each secluded village of these wild denizens of the woods, who adopted every possible strategy for confusing their foes.

 

Warriors, daubed with red clay, and carrying six foot spears, were visible in large numbers. Only a few of them came near to our camp, with whom we entered into conversation through our interpreter. They were very unwilling to give any information, but exhibited considerable anxiety to determine something of our intended course through the country. They seemed absolutely unfriendly towards us, and my husband realized from their conduct that some plan was being hatched, of which he had, as yet, no particulars, but which, nevertheless, he felt assured God would enable him to foil and frustrate.

Several rumors had reached the ears of our porters during the day, that a large body of warriors were lying in ambush ahead, with the purpose of murdering the entire caravan, and looting the barter goods which we carried.

 

My husband gave orders to the headmen that none of our porters should be allowed to leave the grounds of the camp, under any pretence whatever, knowing that if even one of the carriers were killed with impunity, the shedding of his blood would only start an immediate onslaught, which would involve the whole party. As long as our men and goods remained together, these warriors might respect the unknown powers of the white-faced stranger; but if ever they succeeded in killing one or two of his men, or stealing a load of wire or beads, without efficient revenge following — a vengeance which we neither desired nor were able to inflict — they would immediately conclude that our caravan was an easy prey. They would, immediately, cover their spears in the blood of those who had been bold enough to cross their border, and take our supplies which had happily been transported into the vicinity of their woodland habitations.

 

It was not difficult to persuade the men to remain in camp on that occasion, for they seemed stricken to the heart with sickening and clear dread. During the evening, our principal headman came to our tent, and told us that our interpreter had heard that on the next day's march we should all be certainly murdered, for that some thousands of warriors were lying in wait for us on the track, having been informed that we were proceeding to a district across the Tana river. He added that our porters were already planning to desert during the night, so that they might, by some chance, escape with their lives.

 

My husband treated the matter with contempt, knowing how terribly frightened the Coast natives usually are, when face to face with the spear-armed natives of the interior. He called to him our interpreter, and fully questioned him about the native reports which he had overheard. It was then discovered that, on several occasions, the interpreter had listened to the Wakikuyu natives who had come to the camp, discussing the plot which had been arranged for the morrow, when we and our children and porters were all to be slaughtered and our goods taken. He also confirmed the fact that our porters had determined to flee in the darkness of the night.

 

My husband had a long talk with me about the matter, and we then knelt down in our tent, and asked the Lord to guide and direct our movements, and that if it were in accordance with His will, the lives of our little ones and our porters might be preserved.

 

In the course of half an hour, our headman returned to the tent, and told my husband that the son of the chief of the district wanted to see him. The young man was brought near to the tent door. He was a very fine specimen of body type, strong in form, and manly in manner. His body was daubed with red ochre and oil, and his woolly hair was dripping with the unctuous composition. He was naked, like the warriors of his tribe, except for a small piece of goatskin, bordered with colored beads, which hung grotesquely over one shoulder.

 

My husband spoke to him through our interpreter and asked about his purpose. The warrior desired to know where we were going. To this question, my husband gave an honest answer, telling him the route we purposed following, and the situation of the district to which we were going, and acquainting him fully with our purposes in coming to the country, which was to tell the people of the great love of God to them, as revealed by His Son Jesus Christ.

 

The keen-faced native, with rolling and enquiring eyes, seemed to have his tongue loosened by the blunt and candid information which my husband fearlessly gave him; and, thrusting the pointed iron base of his spear into the ground, he related to us the fact that a large number of warriors were in ambush, upon the path which we were following, and that if we proceeded we should all surely be massacred. He advised us to go round by another way, through an uninhabited part of the forest, and so escape certain destruction.

 

We were quite convinced that the Lord had answered our prayers, and that this man had been sent to us to show how we might avoid the slaughter of our children and porters. We were greatly impressed with the evident fact that God can raise up a messenger to fulfill His will, even among the most brutal and depraved of earth's human tribes. Until the young man appeared, my husband had been fully determined to proceed on our way, at all hazards, and to remain without sleep that night, so that he might go about the camp, and be assured that the men on watch were doing their duty in preventing the porters from running away.

 

After the heir to the chieftainship had gone, the headmen of our caravan were called together and told that we had changed our plans, and were going to pass through a tract of uninhabited belt of jungle. They were commanded to tell all the porters quietly of our decision, but no hint of our plans was to be given to the surrounding natives.

 

The porters had no sleep that night. Around the camp fires could be heard the continual hum of low conversation in the Swahili language, concerning the murderous ways of these treacherous natives. When the morning dawned, the tents were taken down, the camp goods packed, and the carrying chairs of our little ones made ready for the march, but not before a great crowd of warriors had gathered around our camp. There was considerable commotion among the armed natives, as the mob swelled to larger proportions. Under a great demonstration of force, they rudely demanded gifts of barter goods, which my self-possessed husband, in an friendly but most forceful manner, refused to grant.

 

The great crowd, which, up to that time, had remained at a respectful distance, now impulsively closed in nearer to us, until we were surrounded by a large phalanx of painted warriors, whose spears glistened menacingly in the bright sunlight of the morning. On the chest, abdomen and thighs, the natives were painted with brown and white zebra-like stripes, while a dash of yellow ochre was drawn around the eyes.

 

I felt that my little children might, at any moment, be hoisted or transfixed by their spears. Just at this point, my husband's voice rang out clear and strong, calling upon his men to fall in. As they dropped into line, I could see how futile it would be to place any dependence on the Coast porters for protection, when confronted with these fierce, warlike natives of the woods. The limbs of our men were shaking like aspen leaves, and their knees knocking against each other, while mortal fear was stamped upon every face.

 

My husband ordered them to raise their loads, and, as he did so, passed through the natives, driving them to left and right with his bare arms; and having thus made a small opening, into which our rile of men entered, the warriors fell back on either side.

 

When all the carriers had moved out of camp, my husband took his position beside the children's carrying chairs in the rear, while the enraged natives closed in behind, and followed us, shouting out their demands for gifts. Our porters, however, kept moving on at a swinging pace, and the warriors gradually dropped behind and were soon lost to sight.

 

CHAPTER 14
PENETRATING THE UNOPENED RETREATS OF THE WILDS

 

From all that my husband had seen of the treacherous character of the Wakikuyu, and the immense difficulties and dangers of penetrating the dense recesses of their forests with a wife and little children, and the porters all heavily laden, he was led to the conclusion that it would be well to leave me and our little ones at the fort, on the border of Kikuyu, while he himself would first pass through the dangerous country alone. He determined to leave with me the loads of barter goods, which had excited the desire of the natives, and take with him only one third of the men, bearing light loads of camp equipments, and the necessary beads and wire with which to buy food for the porters. With this small mobile force, he was to select a site for the Mission Station, in a crowded district, and then return for me and the children.

 

Therefore, instead of adopting the devious route, through the uninhabited stretch which had been suggested, we retraced our steps over hill and dell towards the fort, situated on the borderland of the close, dark forest.

 

We arrived there one bright moonlight night, about three hours after sundown, and had a warm welcome from Mr. Hall, who was anxious to know how we had fared in the interior. He had been greatly concerned about the safety of our lives, and, on hearing of the ambush, said that we evidently had a very narrow escape, for that the most of his men had been cut up by warriors in hiding, who massacred them on the track without a moment's warning. He evinced the hope that we would abandon our project of entering the country, as he was certain that our lives would be surely sacrificed, if we persisted in our endeavor to go into the interior, among those warlike natives.

 

My husband then put forward his proposal of leaving me and the children at the fort, and entering the heart of the country himself, with only about one third of the porters, lightly laden.

 

Mr. Hall was very much opposed to the idea of venturing with so few men, and said that even five hundred armed soldiers would not be safe one day, in the midst of the Kikuyu forest. He, however, assured us that, though the accommodation was very limited, he would do all he could to make me and the children as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

 

In the center of the patch of ground, which was surrounded by the deep moat of the fort, there was a three roomed, grass-roofed cottage, occupied by the Commander of the stronghold. One room was for private supplies, the second a dining-room, and the third a bedroom. Mr. Hall once again put himself to the inconvenience of occupying the room used for storage, and generously left his bedroom for me and the children. We got four of our camp beds and a folding washstand into the small room, and, though cramped, were very comfortable. The children had a lively time, as the fort buildings were infested with rats, and the hours speedily glided by, while they hunted these animals, and often caught them with their hands.

 

My husband selected, from our caravan of one hundred and twenty porters, forty of the most sturdy and trustworthy, and had small loads of necessary goods packed in light weights, and so apportioned that at least one half of these men would always be free and unladen, except for the rifles and cartridge belts they carried for the protection of their own lives.

 

When all was ready for the start he commended me and the children to God, and asked His blessing upon the journey he was about to take, through the closed and secluded land of these poor natives, for whom Christ died.

 

My husband went away without any apparent fear, but it was not without some natural hesitancy and misgiving that I saw him leave the fort on his dangerous journey. Although I knew that our friend and host, the Commander of the fortress, had considerable doubts lest the dangerous enterprise might have a tragic end, yet my confidence in my husband's resourceful judgment, and, above all, an absolute trust in our loving Father's guidance, upheld and sustained me during the many days of great suspense which followed my husband's departure.

 

No wonder the Honorary Secretary of the Church Missionary Society wrote of him that "he was a resourceful man." Indomitable heroism, and unfeigned faith in his God and Savior have characterized his whole regenerated life. One thing, which always impressed me in his dealings with the natives, was his keenness of judgment and composed serenity under the most trying and momentous circumstances.

 

The small caravan, after leaving the Kikuyu fort, headed towards the Masai plains for a few miles; and then, entering the borderland of the forest, struck out in a somewhat northerly direction, through the Kikuyu country, crossing the many streams of the watershed on the southern base of Kenya. During the first few days, not many natives were seen, and the progress of the caravan was uneventful, except for a few exciting experiences with wild animals.

 

One day, when a belt of swampy ground had to be crossed, my husband sat down on a high mound of rank, matted trailing-grass, to take off his boots and put on some rubber footwear. He called out to one of his men to bring some cord, to use as shoe-laces. This was coming and, having cut it in two, the native dropped the knife just between my husband's feet. Then, thrusting his fingers into the tangled, intertwining vines of succulent grass, to recover the knife which he had dropped, he immediately jumped backward one or two yards, in a terrified condition, and exclaimed aloud in his own language, "Oh, Sir, you are sitting on a big snake!"

 

My husband instantly sprang to his feet, and, from the spot where he had been sitting, there shot forth a six-foot serpent, of the deadly Naja-haje species or African cobra. He called for a stick, but the men flew hither and thither with fright. However, the man who had first given the alarm came running with a stout sapling, and with this my husband broke the back of the reptile at the first stroke, and then dispatched it with a blow on the head.

 

This is the best known spitting serpent in Equatorial Africa, and is the most fierce and deadly of the poison bearing snakes. In its action, it is totally unlike the lazy, slow puff adder. It darts at its foe with incredible speed, and, when it cannot get near enough to strike its death-dealing fangs into its victim, it will spit poison to a distance of several yards. If this falls on the naked body of a native, a very painful swelling ensues, and, if the smallest speck enters the eye, it causes excruciating agony and even loss of sight.

 

As the little caravan journeyed forward, they had great difficulty in making their way across some of the deep, swollen fast-moving water and steep gorges, to avoid which they eventually struck out from the woods, unto the open, grassy plains, which extended eastward as far as the eye could reach.

 

There they came on some sad and painful scenes. Numerous small wattle huts, daubed with cattle excrements to render them rainproof, and surrounded by large fences of thorn trees, were scattered here and there over the well watered valley. These had been the dwelling places of a section of the great Masai tribe, and there, in those dells, they had pastured their sleek herds of fat, humped zebu.

 

Rinderpest (a disease) had, from time to time, produced great disaster with the cattle of these warlike herdsmen, while hunger had slain many of the warriors themselves, for when their cattle die they themselves pass away, their subsistence having disappeared. The same tale was to be repeated again. Every hut on those sunny plains was then empty. Here and there on the green grass, human skulls and dried up, half-eaten limbs were to be seen, mingled with those of their cattle, while spotted hyenas were then in full ownership, and these ghoul-like creatures prowled about in large numbers.

 

It was sad to think that this great tribe was so quickly being swept off the face of the earth. May it not be that their annihilation is a judgment of the Almighty, for their past deeds of terrible cruelty. What surrounding tribe have they not slaughtered?! What streams of blood have they not spilt! From the shores of Lake Nyanza to Lake Nyassa, and then to the Indian Ocean, their El Moran have carried murder, violence and plunder everywhere. Wherever their long, sharp blades have been seen, glimmering in the sunlight, a mighty terror has seized the people of the land.

 

On these plundering raids, their thirst for the destruction of human life has not been satisfied by laying the fathers and sons of their foes face down in the dust, steeped in the clotted stream of their own blood. They have entered the ravines and gullies where women and children have been in hiding, and, in the most brutal manner possible, have stabbed the youths on their keen blades before their mothers' eyes, and ripped up the defenseless women and maidens, in the recesses, where, in their speedy escape, they had huddled together for safety. When the Masai were in the zenith of their power, and engaged in a predatory incursion, ruthless massacre and mutilation were dealt to any caravan which met them on their violent pathway. In some cases safaris of several hundred, and even a thousand men, have been wiped out by these bloodthirsty inhabitants of the Eastern Equatorial Zone.

 

However, their most confirmed enemies will admit that they have many noble traits of character. They are men of splendid body type, and have a very intelligent mind. These warlike herdsmen, who for ages have not desired to eat the grains of cultivated ground, but whose only food has been milk and flesh, are having their proud spirits humbled. For centuries, they have looked down in contempt upon the grain-eating tribes around them, who, with pointed stick or beaten iron blade, have turned over a plot in the jungle and become tillers of the soil. After passing through that Masai golgotha of skulls and bones, and deserted huts, and rotting cattle fences, my husband and his followers directed their course in a north-westerly line, into the Kikuyu forest once again. Soon little clearings in the bush were visible at intervals, in which were planted several kinds of grain, yams and sweet potatoes. Natives were to be seen in considerable numbers, but, at the sight of the caravan, they generally slunk away and disappeared in the forest. On several occasions, the natives raised their war-cry in a clear, shrill voice, which rolled across the hills.

 

Nothing daunted, however, the small caravan still pushed its way ahead at a steady pace, although the porters fully expected that the natives who had raised the war-whoop would follow them up, and attack them in the rear.

 

One day, as they rounded the base of a conical elevation in the forest, where a distant view was not viable, and where the intervening mass of earth impeded the sounds of oncoming footsteps, a party of armed warriors, guarding about eighty to one hundred maidens, came rushing up, quite unexpectedly, against the porters. Until that minute neither party had been aware of the presence of the other. It would be difficult to say which were the more frightened and worried, the nude natives of the interior, or the loin-clad carriers from the Coast. The eyes of both almost popped from their sockets, as they were thus suddenly precipitated cheek by jowl. Rarely did warriors guard and protect a more valuable herd, for each young maiden was worth seven to ten cows.

 

The porters almost tumbled over the frightened women, who sought to scamper into the surrounding bush. My husband rendered the situation somewhat less absurd by calling out in a friendly manner the native salutation, to which the distracted warriors replied, "Kuhoro mwega."

 

These young women were being taken into the forest for loads of firewood, and were thus guarded by fullgrown, fighting men, lest, while cutting up the timber, they might be kipnapped by the Wakamba tribe, who are ever on the alert to gain a wife, without the trouble of having to pay for her in valuable cattle.

 

However intense may be the hate between the different tribes, and bitterly sharp it must be when intertribal war is continually being waged, yet many of the tribes are not at all opposed to having wives from other clans, and will adventure their lives in their endeavor to capture the maidens of surrounding tribes. Though these captives be the offspring of their chronic enemies, and speak a strange language, they are not in any sense reckoned as slaves by their captors, but are immediately installed into the position of wife, and treated on the same terms as the women of their own tribe. Rarely, if ever, do they attempt to escape and return to their own country, due to the fact that it would be exceedingly difficult to do so, on account of the many dangers which lurk on the way, and, in some measure, to that stoical indifference to their surroundings which is common to African tribes.

 

After the caravan had passed the bunch of maidens and their protecting warriors, they entered a region of very dense bush, where rushing streams and deep ravines frequently blocked their way. My husband was not surprised that the country had remained so long unpenetrated. Apart altogether from the ferocious and murderous nature of the human residents, which lived among its isolated forest retreats, there was the fact that the country was so deeply uneven, that traveling up and down its steep ridges was unimaginably difficult, while the abundant intertwining undergrowth was such, in the deep gorges, as to completely prohibit, at times, the progress of the porters. An ambush of warriors, in any part of that dense forest, would have no difficulty in annihilating a caravan.

 

In each depression, during and immediately following the rainy season, there flows a quick-running stream. These may be, at places, only two or three feet deep, but often in the low-lying stretches are five or six, and, though never very wide, are sometimes exceedingly difficult to ford. These torrents flow into the Thika and Sagana rivers, which become confluent, and are then known as the Tana.

 

My husband was greatly disappointed when he found that the latter river was in such flood as to render crossing an utter impossibility. An exceptionally heavy rainy season had just passed, and the towering Mount Kenya, which raised its spiral apex twenty thousand feet into the heavens, was, under the influence of the burning, equatorial sun, parting with a considerable portion of its snowy mantle. The natives, who were interviewed, stated that many weeks might elapse before a crossing could be made in safety.

 

Calmly accepting the inevitable as the will of God my husband turned in a westerly direction, through the heart of the country, with the hope that a favorable site for a Mission Station might be discovered in a crowded district.

 

One afternoon, having camped on the border of a region, where there was evidence of a crowded population, he sent a message to the chief through his interpreter, saying that he had come to the country to tell the people some good news, which God had revealed to man through His Son. Further, that if it would be agreeable to the chief to have a white man come and settle in his country to tell the people about this news, he would be glad to consider the matter of building in the district. The messenger was also to add that, if the chief accepted of his proposal, he was to come in person to the camp on the morrow, and have a talk with my husband on the matter; and that, in any case, whether he agreed to the suggestion or not, he would have a hearty welcome from the white man.

 

Inasmuch as the tents were pitched several hours' march from the village of the chief, it was fairly late that evening when the men returned with the news that the ''Sultani'' of the district would come to the camp in the morning.

 

The result of the message to the chieftain I shall give in my husband's own words: "When the following morning dawned, I had high expectations of an agreeable native talk with this big chief, Watito, which might, under God's blessing, bear effective and far-reaching results.

 

However, before breakfast was ready, two well oiled and painted warriors, whom we took to be the forerunners of the chief, appeared before the door of the tent. After the usual greeting, I called my interpreter to receive their message. They said they were sons of the chief Watito, and had been sent by him to ask if I wished him to bring his wives with him. The reply was given, 'Yes! certainly, if he himself desires to do so.' I asked them where the sun would be when he would come. Pointing to the zenith, the warriors indicated that the chief would arrive at noon.

 

Knowing something of the working of the native mind, I could not help being somewhat skeptical, seeing that the first promise was already broken: nevertheless, I hoped for the best.

 

Being greatly tired, after several days' marching over rough and difficult country, I was delighted with the prospect of a little rest in camp, and the tired and worn porters were also in much need of a halt to recover their energies. Towards noon, a few of the men were sent out of camp, to some nearby hills to scout, and report if there were any signs of an approaching group. In an hour they returned, saying that considerable numbers of natives were to be seen, but no appearance of any party of men drawing near to our camp.

 

I then called the interpreter, and told him that I wanted him and another man to go to the village of the chief, and ask him if anything had happened to prevent him fulfilling his promise to come to my camp; and kindly to let me know if I might still expect him.

 

The interpreter was a very faithful man, and I was rather surprised to hear him say that he could not go with less than ten men, carrying rifles and cartridge belts. Smiling at his request, I told him how necessary it was to impress upon these natives the fact that my men carried rifles only because they were obliged to do so for their own safety, in passing through lion-infested jungles; and that no mere show of force should be made before the chief on this occasion. I told him, however, to choose five men and go. Off they started, but not without a good deal of hesitation, for they were beginning to think that some plot was being planned against us.

 

The messengers returned that night with the further news that it was too far for the chief's wives to walk, and he would expect me to go and see him the next day, while several of his sons and other warriors would come to my camp and escort me to his village, and he himself would meet me on the way. The men added that they had seen great numbers of armed warriors on the different tracks through the forest, and that all the people knew that a real, live Mzungu (white man) was to enter their country on the morrow.

 

I was not very favorably impressed with the reply; nevertheless, I put down the quibbling and procrastination to native caution and prudence, and did not take these as foreboding any evil strategy. My men, however, were of a very different opinion, and I had somewhat of an anxious time, fearing they might desert rather than encounter the ordeal of the coming day.

 

In my own mind, I turned over all the statements and messages of the chief, and placed myself in his position, so that I might the better judge how he would look at things. It is very difficult for a European to get inside the skin of a native, and for a minute or two view affairs exactly from his standpoint. I have often tried to do so, but never found it easy to accomplish.

 

However, I looked at the matter this way. No white man had ever entered his country before. Why should he believe the word of this Mzungu, who said he had come with a message of 'good news'? What visitors had ever before come to him with any good or noble purpose? The Masai had trodden his valleys, but only to murder his young men, and plunder his cattle pens. The Wakamba, too, had often entered the outskirts of his forest, but with the resolute purpose of kidnapping his women and maidens, and taking them across the plain to the Ukamba hills.

 

Might it not enter his crude, untutored mind, that my purpose, in coming to his country, was to catch some of his dusky wives, and take them down to the great Ocean, out of which the Mzungu was supposed to emerge. Hence the query, thrown out as a feeler, 'Should he, in coming to my camp, bring his wives with him?' to which my answer had been given, 'Yes! certainly.' Perhaps if I had said, 'No! don't bring your wives,' he might have come to me. It may be that this accounted for his fitful promises, and that he subsequently thought it more careful to leave his wives and maidens under guard, and meet me, surrounded by his fighting men.

 

On the other hand, he might only be hatching his plans for the efficient slaughter of me and my party, and the capturing of whatever treasure might fall into his hands. However, I gave the chief the benefit of the doubt, and determined, God helping me, to see him on the following day.

 

Meantime, I sought to scatter the terror which had taken hold of my few native coast porters, but was not as successful in this as I should have wished. My three headmen were instructed to see that the fires were kept brightly burning during the night, and that no possible chance be given to any of the porters to flee.

 

In the unusual stillness of that lonely forest camp, where the silence of the dark night was only broken by the occasional shrill, shrieking cries of the numerous monkeys, which swarmed in the dense jungle, we were soon wrapped in unconscious rest, gathering new life and vigor to enable us to face the dreaded morrow.

 

As soon as the light of the returning sun brightened the eastern horizon, the men were ordered to cook and partake of some food before starting on the journey. This was not in accordance with their custom, as the Coast porters only eat at night; but inasmuch as the day was probably to be an eventful one, the unusual order was given, as a precaution against a possible emergency, not knowing what needs might arise, nor when they might have another opportunity of using their pots. When the sun had traveled a couple of hours above the horizon, the tents were taken down, loads packed, and everything made ready for the march.

 

Just as we were about to set out, there suddenly strode into the camp a band of ochre-daubed warriors, carrying huge shields and spears. The display presented by these athletic natives in their war paint rather disturbed the stability of my few Coastmen. Their countenance was stern and cold, and suspicion lurked in their quick-moving eyes. They had never before gazed upon a pale-faced specimen of humanity, and were evidently uncomfortable. However, I greeted them with the ordinary salutation in their language, and then, through my interpreter, passed some few, funny remarks, which seemed to make them feel somewhat more at home with me. I could then see that the harsh, rigid expression of their countenance became more relaxed, and less anxious and distrustful.

 

I asked the main body of the warriors to go in front, with my headman, to lead the carriers; and two sons of the chief, which had accompanied the band, were to stay with me in the rear. On we thus marched in single file, along the narrow winding track through the forest, until we came to more open country. Now through overgrown thickets, and then around some cultivated patches, we alternately wended our way. In the small gardens we had passed, there were neither women nor maidens working with pointed sticks to clear the ground which was overgrown with weeds. "This undoubtedly was a bad omen, and indeed, to our porters, a definite proof that treachery was at work, and that destruction lay ahead of us. It is well known that all Central African tribes send the women and children into hiding, when they have any slaughtering schemes on hand. My principal headman came to me several times, and said that all the men believed we were being led into a trap, and were afraid to go forward. I told him that, inasmuch as these people had never seen a white man before, it was only natural that they were afraid, or at least suspicious; and that was the reason we had seen no women or girls in the gardens. The carriers, however, were not satisfied with my explanation.

 

Still on we trudged, through scrubby bush and swamp, and short stretches of very dense forest. Now and again, when we had an open view, we got glimpses of small bands of armed natives, all of whom were evidently converging towards the place to which we ourselves were approaching. This fact unsettled our men all the more, and made me feel acutely the great responsibility of leading these followers into a district, where they might all be massacred in a few moments.

 

These forty Coastmen who accompanied me were not mere novices, ignorant of the ways of native tribes, but were carefully chosen out of our one hundred and twenty carriers, as men of considerable experience, who had made several journeys into other parts of the Dark Continent, and were thoroughly conversant with many of the customs, and at least some of the strategies, of cunning natives.

 

After crossing an extended swamp, which lay at the base of some conical wooded heights, we abruptly entered a somewhat lengthy defile between two drawn out and gently sloping hills. The sight which was then presented to the eye was one which I can never forget, and which struck my few carriers with blank amazement. The whole landscape, as far as the eye could reach, was swarming with armed natives, whose spears gleamed with unusual brightness in the blazing light of noonday. Never, in all my life, have I seen so many natives congregated together, nor such an immense array of spears. The scene was truly magnificent and one of awe-inspiring splendor. But, what did it all mean? To our men it foreboded certain death, from which there was no escape.

 

The headman, nervous and excited, came to me once again and said, ‘Bwana, tutakufa! Tutafanya nini?' (Sir, we shall die! What shall we do?) He told me that the men were ready to drop with fear. 'Well,' I said, 'you pass up the line of porters as they march along, and tell each man in a low tone to slip quietly into the breach of his rifle a cartridge, unknown to the warriors; but no man, under any provocation whatever, is to fire until he gets orders from me, for the firing of one rifle would undoubtedly mean the immediate death of the whole party.' I then passed along the file of porters myself, encouraging each one with a few helpful words.

 

By this time there appeared before us at about a mile distant, a huge, dense mass of human beings, on a dome-shaped hill, which rose up at the further end of the defile, through which we were then passing. In the clear, equatorial atmosphere, the surging concourse of wild humanity could be vibrantly seen. The moving spears in that vast assemblage flashed towards us the reflected rays of the tropical sun. My men immediately formed the opinion that we were now drawing near to the place where the treacherous natives would put an end to our lives.

 

I called a halt for a few moments, and asked our escort of painted warriors to point out the place where the chief was to meet me, and they replied, 'On the top of yonder hill.' With my powerful field glasses, I could discern a vacant place, on the apex of the round dome, where a man was sitting with a long stick in his hand. I asked them if that was the chief. They exclaimed, 'Yes!' and then, putting their open hand upon their mouth — a gesture expressing wonder and amazement — they looked at each other, shaking their heads. They were utterly astonished that, with the big 'eyes' I carried, I could discern their chief, and the scepter or rod of authority which he held in his hand.

 

For a moment or two my men seemed to lose their fear, and an expression of relief passed over their expression, when they saw that the warriors were amazed at my powers of vision. They thought that perhaps, after all, I might be able to thread my way into the hearts of these fierce and treacherous washenzi (natives), and that we might escape with our lives.

 

When, however, they cast a look behind them, every such outlook perished, and every hope died within their breast. The numerous warriors, who had studded the slopes of the defile through which we had come, now closed in behind us, forming one long, solid phalanx of bright, glistening blades.

 

We now pressed forward towards the nucleus of the vast assemblage and, as we did so, many and varied were the thoughts which passed through my mind. I could not help pondering of what Christ, in the days of His flesh, thought of which often met the multitude; moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.' My memory carried me back to the word uttered two thousand years ago, 'Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,' and I thought of how guilty Christ's saints had been in obeying His last command. Then there arose before my mind a picture of what the future might hold, when those hills and dales, which were ablaze with the glittering spears naked natives resound with songs of redeeming love from the lips and hearts of regenerated men and women.

 

With such thoughts filling my mind, we approached the ascent of the hill, on which the chieftain waited my arrival. Here our escorting warriors made a passage through the dense mass of wild, unclad humanity, and I passed along behind them at the head of my Coast Porters.

 

When we got to the top of the hill, there stepped forward to meet me a tall, large-framed, lean and lanky man of about fifty years of age. His clean-cut features were somewhat comely, with sharp, elongated features high forehead, and most expressive eyes - in which there lurked considerable cunning. He had a powerful and commanding appearance, and was withal cold, retiring and reserved. As he drew near to me he kept spitting on my person, which was a mark of honor and distinction and expressive of goodwill. I shook hands with him, using the salutation of his tribe 'Kuhoro,' to which he duly replied 'Kuhoro mwega.’

 

The chief then sat down on his stool, which had been neatly cut out of the section of a tree trunk. One of my men unfolded my camp chair, and there we sat together and had a little talk through my interpreter. He gave me liberty to have my tent pitched wherever I chose. Before selecting a place to camp, I asked him where his village lay, but he did not seem inclined to reply, and only made a gesture indicating its direction; but, as far as the eye could scan, there was nothing but dense bush. So sheltered were the dwellings of these people in the thickets of the forest, that we had not seen a single hut or village on the march that day, although the hills were black with people.

 

Inasmuch as the height on which I met the chief was the most commanding position in the district, I asked for his permission to camp there. He immediately gave orders for all the people to clear away from the site I had chosen. The command was rung out in stentorian tones by one of the elders at his side, and the surging thronging mass of interested warriors fell back instantaneously, as if swayed by some mighty impulse. On that cleared space my tent was soon pitched.

 

I then entered into a long conversation with the chieftain, telling him fully of my purpose in coming to his country, to impart the glad news of the Gospel. I explained to him that God had made Himself known to man through the person of His Son, and how He had revealed the fact that God was our loving Father, who 'will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,' ' not willing that any should perish.' I told him that this Son of God, by name 'Jesus,' bare our sins in His own body on a cross, and that all who truly believe in Him with their heart, and receive Him as their Savior are changed or born again and made new men in Him. Our conversation on this and kindred subjects occupied fully a couple of hours. He listened with intense interest, especially when I referred to the fact that 'He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.' Many were the questions he asked, which proved how intelligently he had followed the conversation.

 

He then said that inasmuch as I was the first white man he or his people had ever seen, and that we had met together as friends without any fighting, he would like to make blood brotherhood with me on the following day, if I were willing to do so; and expressed his readiness to help me in selecting a place on which to build. To this arrangement I gave my approval.

After giving orders to one of his sons to tell the warriors that they were all to go to their villages, he himself left for his own abode, which was said to be about half an hour's march distant. The Coast porters were then busily engaged in getting the camp ready for the night.

 

During the evening some natives came to my tent, bringing with them a large, fat-tailed sheep, as a present from the chief with a message of peace. Very soon night once again threw its mantle of darkness around the camp. The fires were brightly burning, at which my men were busy cooking their mutton and pulse.

 

The day had been a most trying and exhausting one. Never had I seen experienced Coastmen so overwhelmingly unnerved with terror. To them the entire march was a prolonged suspense, which was to be ended by their death in some hideous form. Before they had left the fort on the border of the country, they had heard the bare, bald facts of some awful incidents of cold-blooded murder and treacherous carnage, which the Wakikuyu natives had perpetrated. These carriers were now satiating their hunger on Kikuyu mutton, which had been presented by the very hands of those from whom they had expected ruthless slaughter.

 

In the quiet of the peaceful night, their tongues were loosened, and they freely discussed the scenes of the day with considerable animation. The successful entry into the heart of the country, and the fact that their lives had been preserved, they attributed solely to the courage and tact of the Bwana. I immediately corrected their minds on this subject, and assured them that God alone had guided the issues of the day, to which some of them replied, 'Kweli, Bwana! Muungu tu!' (Truth, Sir! God alone!)

 

We had an evening meeting of thanksgiving for the providential care of our Heavenly Father, in which all alike joined. Guards were then appointed to take short watches until the morning, to prevent any possible surprise. Silence soon brooded over the little camp in the heart of the Kikuyu country, and the wearied and exhausted porters became oblivious to all the dangers of the day.

 

On the following morning an immense crowd had gathered around the camp, some few hours after sunrise; and when the sun was fairly high in the heavens, the multitude had increased to even greater proportions than the day before. Such an assemblage of spear-armed, ochre-daubed warriors was a wonderful spectacle to behold, and can never be effaced from the memory as long as life shall last.

 

My men had somewhat recovered from the shock of the previous day, but they kept continually saying, 'Why do they all come armed, bringing their spears with them?' I drew their attention to the fact that, unlike the previous day, there were vast numbers of women and maidens in the crowd immediately around us, and that this in itself was an evidence of peaceful confidence. The fact was simply this, that from far and near they had come to have a glimpse of the white-skinned monster of the sea.

 

Soon the chief made his appearance, with about fifty of his elderly advisers, and a passage was opened up for them through the multitude, until they reached my tent. Once more I had to submit to the usual spitting process, and was amazed at the moist quantity and power of the chief's salivary glands. We heartily exchanged salutations and grasped each other's hand; and, after some little time, the ceremony of making blood brotherhood was commenced.

 

Another large sheep was presented to me for the occasion. This was killed by one of my men, and a small portion of meat from the loin, and a piece of the liver and the heart were put on the camp fire to roast. While this was being done, the elders placed the chief and myself face to face, in close proximity. My headman and interpreter stood by my chair, while around the chief, who was seated on his stool, were several elders.

 

The man who had been set apart to officiate in the ceremony of the day, then brought from the fire the three roasted pieces of flesh and cut each in two. With a piece of sharpened iron, used for shaving the head, this adept of the blade made a small gash on my breast, from which the blood oozed freely. He then made a similar incision on the chest of the chief; and, as the red blood flowed down over his ebony skin, he took three small pieces of the different kinds of meat and, dipping them in the blood of the chief, he gave them to me to eat, while the other three pieces, which he smeared with my blood, were handed to the chief.

 

As we partook of the meat, for which I had little delight in, the announcement was made that the great Mzungu, who had come to their country with a good Message, and the chief Watito were now brothers. If the one ever approached the other with murderous intent, he was to fall in his own blood; and that if the people of the one attempted to kill those of the other, they themselves would not live to see another sunrise.

 

I then told the chief, in the presence of the great multitude which surrounded him, that there were two things I must do that day, and then on the morrow I would go back to the place where I had left my wife and children: I must see his village and select a site for our dwelling house.

 

He still seemed quite unwilling to show me his village, and this I resented. I determined that I would not come to build with a chief who was so silent concerning his abode. By that time, I knew the direction in which the village was situated, but I resolutely purposed teaching him the necessity of freedom of intercourse and mutual frankness. There would be no use in my coming to his district to build, unless I had a perfectly free entrance to all the villages to speak to the people.

 

However, he was anxious to agree to a portion of my request, and show me where he wished me to build. With a following of his elders and a few of my carriers, we proceeded to two places which he thought might please me. Neither of these seemed desirable from my point of view. One was too low down in the valley, and the other was a long distance from water. "In the early morning, before the concourse of people had gathered, I was engaged in taking an outline of the country, and had my own mind made up regarding a site, which seemed in every way suitable for our purpose. I told the chief about it, and pointed out to him the place where it lay, a considerable distance to the north of my camp. The site was that of a gently sloping hill, on the top of which stretched an extended plateau. Two hundred yards below the summit was a beautiful stream of clear, sparkling water, and on the further side was a forest, where an abundance of building timber and firewood could readily be obtained. I told the chief that the top of that eminence was the place where I should like to build.

 

He shook his head wistfully and, through my interpreter, said, 'No! You cannot build there. The country on the other side of that river belongs to another chief, and his men would surely kill you and your porters and take your goods. In any case it would be impossible for you to draw water from the stream, for your men would certainly have their heads chopped off, by the warriors who would lie in wait for them.' I ridiculed the idea, but he again shook his head, and drew his thin lips over his two white rows of prominent teeth, and then exclaimed, 'No! you cannot build there!'

 

'Well,' I said, 'I must have a fairly high position and good water near at hand, and, if possible, some long, thin timber for building purposes.' He then took me to a place about two miles away, which was fairly satisfactory so far as position and water were concerned, and where villages were said to be very numerous; but all were hidden away in dense thickets, and absolutely hidden from view. This site, however, was temporarily agreed upon, being in close nearness to the villages, where our work had to be done, and we without delay returned to the camp.

 

I could then see that a great many more women and girls were among the crowd, so that confidence was being established by degrees. With the permission of the chieftain, I addressed the vast gathering within reach of the human voice, through my interpreter, explaining to them the purpose that brought me to their country. Then, turning to the chief, I said, 'Now, I have got to see your village.'

 

He replied, 'What do you want to see in my village?' I said, 'At your special desire I consented to make blood brotherhood with you, and now, is it not natural that a brother should want to know where his big brother lives?'

 

He smiled and said, 'No man outside my own tribe has ever entered my village.' 'Well,' I said, 'I want not only to enter your village, but I want to see the hut in which you sleep, the bed on which you lie, and the firestones by which you sit."

 

He then gave instructions to some warriors, who went off at a trot in the direction of his village. Meantime my Kikuyu interpreter told me quietly, in Swahili, that it was very dangerous to go to the chief's village, for that the Wakikuyu often enticed people into their villages and immediately killed them. He further said that, if I must go, I should take with me all my men with their rifles.

 

To my mind, any exhibition of arms at that juncture would have shown a want of confidence, so I determined to take only two men with me, one of whom was to carry my repeating rifle, while I myself would take nothing whatever in my hand. I had always carried a powerful six-chambered revolver in my belt, fully loaded, but this was covered by my jacket and did not appear.

 

The chief being ready said he would go with me to his village and, taking my two men, we started off with him. A number of his armed warriors took the lead, and on we marched for some distance, till we came to an immense thicket of entangled, intertwining and dense growth in the forest. Here we turned, first to the left, and then again sharply to the right, in single file along a narrow track. On either side was a wall of thick, bushy jungle. We then came to an entrance, where there was a narrow gateway, formed of heavy, flat logs of wood suspended from a transverse bar. On entering this gate, the path continued under an archway of thorny bush, so low that it was necessary to pass along in a stooping posture. We came then to another gate, similar to the first, and here we entered a wider path allowing three men to stand abreast. On each side of this passage, there stood a row of stalwart, athletic warriors, painted from head to foot with castor oil and red clay, with six-foot spears in their hands.

 

I then thought of what my interpreter had told me in camp but half an hour ago, and of all I had heard of the treacherous dealings of these natives; and for the first time I had some serious doubts. I thought to myself, if foul play is intended when we get into the village, then to escape by this passage would be an utter impossibility. For a moment I took a glance behind me, to see if the man who carried my rifle was really there, but his wild, rolling eyes and anxious countenance betrayed the fear and dread which had already seized his heart.

 

After passing through the two files of spear-armed men, we then entered a large, circular, open space, around which were studded numerous grass huts of the ordinary beehive pattern. In the centre of the village some women were preparing grain for the evening meal, and dusky, bright-eyed children were playing about, as naked as the day they were born. At the gruesome sight of my pale face and clothed form, the women dropped their work and the little children left their play, and rushed into the huts as lithesome as children anywhere. Their chieftain called them back, saying that I was a "Muzungu mwega " (good white man), but it was of no use, and they remained a large time under cover.

 

He then pointed out to me his own hut, into which I crawled through a little opening about two feet high. In passing out of the bright sunlight into the dark grass hut, it was impossible to see anything at first. After a time, however, when the pupils of the eyes became dilated, I could discern my surroundings.

 

There on the right, as I entered that one-roomed hut, was the place where the chief went to rest. His bedding consisted of a well-worn ox skin, from which the hair had been removed. In the centre of the hut, and near to the base of the forked stick which supported the wattle-and-grass roof, were three firestones, on which was poised an earthen pot. In the ashes some embers were still smoking and smoldering, while close to the firestones was a little round stool of about six inches high and nine in diameter. How often, after the sun had gone down in the west, had not the great chief sat by that hearth, upon that small rude seat, meditating on the pros and cons of human existence, and developing his plans and strategies about the slaughter of his tribal foes, or avenging their incursions upon his people.

 

On one side, leaning against the smoky, grimy roof, there stood three bright, well-polished spears, the only items in that royal hut which gave evidence of having received attentive care. Thrust into the grass thatch was a strong bow, on which hung a quiver of poisoned arrows, and a rude stringed instrument. These, together with a few gourd shells, formed the furnishings of the dwelling-house of the chief Watito. It is amazing with what lack of earthly possessions a human being can pass contentedly through this ordinary sphere.

 

When I came out into the sunshine, he asked me to go into some of the other huts, but as the sun was getting low in the heavens I respectfully declined. The women had by that time gained confidence, and crept out of their dens to have a peep at the stranger, while a few of the little ones had so far recovered as to allow me to stroke their curly heads. Leaving the village, we passed again through the double line of armed warriors, and along the narrow arched track through which we had come, and made our way back to the camp.

 

After thanking the chief for his kind attention to me, I gave him a handsome colored cloth as a parting gift, and begged of him to remember the message I had given him of the pardoning love of God in Christ Jesus. I then told him that I would start in the morning, and go back to my wife and children and talk the matter over, and, if we considered everything acceptable, I would return to his country and build beside him. He sat thoughtfully for some time on his low stool and then, looking up at my interpreter, he said, 'Tell the Muzungu that if he goes away from me now I shall never see him again.'

 

He informed me, however, that he would send his eldest son with me so that, if I chanced to return to his country, he could lead the way. I thanked the chief for trusting his son to me, and said that, if the young man would come to my camp the next morning by daybreak, I would take good care of him on the march, and that I hoped we should both come back together in the course of ten or twelve days. We shook hands, looked into each other's face with, I think, a mutual expression of sincere friendship, and parted company. The prophecy of the chieftain was literally fufilled, for the Muzungu never saw the great Watito again!"

 

CHAPTER 15
PLANTED AMONG THE NUDE WAKAMBA OF THE HILLS

 

On the morning following the last night spent at Watito's village, my husband struck camp, and started on his return journey to the Kikuyu fort, where we anxiously awaited his arrival and tidings of his dangerous mission. After several days' journeying through a delightfully interesting country, where many difficulties and dangers beset the path traversed, he arrived once more at the stronghold, on the eve of Christmas day.

 

We had a time of uneasy and painful suspense during his absence, and many were the prayers that ascended to God for his safety and protection in the unsafe venture which he had taken upon himself.

 

On the day before his return, there came into the fort a caravan from Victoria Nyanza, headed by Major Smith and his lieutenant James Martin, both of whom were in the service of the Imperial British East Africa Company. When they heard that my husband had entered the heart of the Kikuyu country with a few followers they were amazed. Major Smith himself, with a large force of armed men, had built the fort under great difficulties, and had some practical knowledge of the condition of the country. They were all very anxious to hear the news of the dangerous undertaking, and highly complimented my husband on getting back with his life. They strongly warned him to put no confidence whatever in the promise of the Kikuyu natives, for they were the most treacherous people on the face of the earth, and not on any account to risk returning, else we should all be certainly slaughtered. My husband was not inclined to receive their advice, though he acknowledged it was honestly given from their point of view.

 

The Major made no secret of his opinion on the matter. He said, "Mr. Watt, I have built this Kikuyu fort, and have had a great deal of experience with the Wakikuyu while doing so. I consider that you have accomplished a wonderful exploit in entering and passing through their country with a handful of untrained men, and returning with your own life and theirs still safe. I can assure you, however, that you ought not to trust to any of their promises, for until now their promises have all been broken in treacherous massacre. The chief, with whom you have made blood brotherhood may remain faithful, but I doubt it. You evidently made a wonderful impression upon him or he would not have sent his son with you, but even though he may try to keep his blood covenant with you, yet your wife and children and porters will surely be murdered by the neighboring people."

My husband expressed his gratefulness to all for their interest and counsel, but was, nevertheless, very firm in his resolve to open up Missionary work in the country, and in the name of God to take the risk.

 

A very happy, quiet Christmas day was spent at the fort, and Mr. Hall did all he could to make his large party comfortable. Never before had such a number of Europeans met together in that part of Equatorial Africa. Large wooden boxes formed informal tables, and small ones served as chairs for the happy company, who sat down to Kikuyu red meat and Messrs. J. J. Morton's tinned plum pudding.

 

In the garden of the fort, some months before, was laid to rest a gallant officer of the East Africa Company, Captain Nelson, who had accompanied H. M. Stanley in his quest of Emin Pasha. We dropped a few wild flowers on his lonely grave in the midst of hostile surroundings, within a few yards of the stream where men of the fort had been murdered while drawing water.

 

Inasmuch as we had already got within reasonable distance of our final destination, and finding that our men were in great fear and dread of proceeding into the interior of the country, we thought it wise to release to the Coast the most fearful and frightened of the carriers, lest their example should seriously affect the morale of the entire company, and that under some trying or hazardous experience there might be a disastrous flight of the whole caravan. My husband came to the conclusion that it would be safer to pass through the dangerous country with seventy men, possessed of reasonable courage and nerve, than with the large following of one hundred and twenty, among whom there were two or three score whose knees were knocking together with fear — ''A little leaven leavens the whole lump." He therefore marked off fifty men for returning to the Coast, to whom were given a quantity of food, and some barter goods for obtaining a further supply of native grain on the way down country. They were also provided with sufficient rifles for their protection and, under the charge of several headmen, were dismissed to the Coast. After much shaking of hands and salaams oft repeated, they took their departure amid great shouts in the Swahili tongue of, "Farewell great Leader! Farewell great Mistress! To the fish of the sea let us go!"

 

We arranged with our kind host, Mr. Hall, that the fifty loads of the disbanded men should remain in the fort until we could send a caravan for them. Meantime we remained a few days after Christmas, seeking with our barter supplies to refill our stock of food for the porters. An unusual shade of red beads was the only kind the Kikuyu tribe would accept in exchange for their grain. Fortunately we had a fair quantity of the deep crimson tinge which they preferred, and were thus enabled to make some adequate purchases.

 

The Europeans had several further conversations with my husband, advising him to stop from his attempt to open up Missionary work among such treacherous natives, seeing that the trained armed force of the company had experienced, on the border land, such continual trouble and loss of men. My husband was quite unmoved by any argument that had been brought to bear upon him concerning the dangers of his project, and was determined upon building in the interior of the country at all hazards.

 

On the second day after Christmas, however, our principal headman came to us with unhappy expression, and informed us that there were still a great many of our porters who were in much dread of entering the Kikuyu country, or engaging in the work of building there; and that he believed many of them would desert the caravan after leaving the vicinity of the fort. This evident unrest was a serious burden for us to bear, and especially so at this very important moment, when about to enter a hostile country with little children.

 

My husband was ever ready to give full consideration to the reasonable fears of his men, especially when warranted on undeniable grounds. We talked the matter over, and brought it definitely before the Lord in prayer. We were assured that God had wonderfully preserved my husband on his long journey through the country, and had given him a miraculous opening into the hearts of the chief and his people, and was able to protect us under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances.

 

The question remained, however, if it were right to force the porters, against every natural feeling of self preservation, to enter the country and remain with us to build the station, while in continual fear of an untimely end, and the still further question if it was within the limits of our power to do so. Both were certainly difficult.

 

Nevertheless, we rejoiced to think that, under the blessing of Almighty God, the way into the interior of the country had certainly been opened up for future Missionaries, who in days to come would find a ready entrance among the Wakikuyu, due to my husband's friendly march through their country.

 

We were led to think of the desirability of crossing the Kapte plain, and starting work among the less treacherous, though more warlike, tribe of the Wakamba, whose territory was in the main an open rolling country, in which danger could be more readily discerned.

 

On that afternoon, as we pondered over these matters, Major Smith asked to have a little talk with us. Inside the quadrangle formed by the moat of the fort, we paced up and down together, engaged in mutual conversation. The Major showed a very deep interest in the safety of our lives, and brought before us a few of the terrible cases of unprovoked slaughter, during the short time that had elapsed since he built the fort; and said that, although he admired the fearlessness of my husband, yet he felt assured that if we proceeded into the interior to build, our party would certainly be massacred. If my husband were a single man he thought he might have some chance of escaping, but the case was absolutely different when a lady and several young children were in the caravan. "Why not," said he, "cross over to the more open Ukamba hills and begin Missionary work there?"

 

We told him that we had been considering the matter but that there was one difficulty in the way, as we had only seventy porters for about one hundred and twenty loads. He immediately replied that in his caravan there were fifty empty-handed men, which he could let us have on the following morning to carry the balance of our goods.

 

We eagerly appreciated the offer of the gallant Major and, recognizing that it was a provision of the Lord, we decided to accept the offered help of fifty extra porters, and determined to make a start in the morning across the plain to Ukamba, in the hope that our disappointment would be found to be God's appointment for us. There was general rejoicing among the Europeans, who warmly congratulated us on coming to this decision.


The son of the chief Watito, who had been waiting our return to his country, was called and informed of our new plans and seemed greatly disappointed. We sent with him a present for his father, asking him to tell the chief that we were very sorry at having to change our purpose of building in his country, but that we should be glad if he would remember the message my husband had given him, and make it known to his people. When he would hear of the locality in which we had settled, we should be happy if he would send us news of himself and his people from time to time. After many "Kuhoros," and with a somewhat sorrowful heart, the son of Watito returned to his home, by the side of the quick flowing stream in the heart of the Kikuyu country.

 

Faithful to our request, Watito once and again sent messages to us; and in after years we had evidence that he had been greatly influenced by my husband's visit, and that a large area of country within the sphere of his jurisdiction had been very favorably impressed with the white man. When we were erecting our second station, he sent to us several hundreds of men on a journey of nearly fifty miles, laden with bamboo poles and midribs of palm for building purposes, and all this without any gift from us, save the single item of a Turkish fez to cover his hoary head.

 

It was with very sad hearts we heard from his sons a few years later that Watito had passed away from earth, without seeing any other Missionary in his part of the country. On the morning after the departure of the chief's son from the camp at Kikuyu fort, we bade farewell to Mr. Hall, who had so graciously entertained us, and started out on our new project.

 

For four days we marched across the scorching, grassy plain, where animals roamed in great numbers. The grass, which ran about two feet high, was at that time alive with myriads of ticks. These little insects of about a quarter of an inch in length, and protected by a tough leathery skin, swarmed on each stalk of grass, waiting to attach themselves to some passing animal.

 

As we trudged along on the march, dozens of these greedy sucking creatures clung to our clothing and made their way to the flesh, into which they delved their barbed heads, causing intense pain and irritation. Sometimes we got into a stretch where their eggs had just been hatched, and in passing among their young offspring, our clothes were literally covered with hundreds of these tiny but vicious mites, which were no larger than the head of a pin.

 

When we reached our camping place in the afternoon, the first thing to be done was to change our clothing, handing each item to some of the porters to rid them of the despicable parasites. A hot bath and change of linen were the only means of relieving our torture.

 

After feeding on the blood for some time, the full grown insects attain the size of a pea, and are then readily removed; but oftentimes those which have recently attached themselves to the flesh cling so closely that, in tearing them off, they leave their heads in the puncture which they have made, and cause very considerable tenderness. The thousands of animals which ramble and browse on the plain are infested with ticks, but their skin being so much thicker and less sensitive than that of the human, they seem to pay little or no attention to these annoying companions.

 

On reaching our third camp on the plain, we had no sooner pitched our tents than a lion appeared in the long grass near to a gully beside our tent. My husband, taking his rifle, went out to stalk the animal, but it disappeared in the ravine before he was able to get a shot at it. Fortunately we were near to some jungle, and from thence the men brought in piles of fuel, and kept huge fires burning during the night. At intervals in the hours of darkness, lions were roaring in the vicinity of the camp, but the blazing light of our fires discouraged their approach.

 

On the morrow we camped on the border of Ukamba, and my husband made several excursions into various parts of the country, to select a site for the Mission Station. After several days' looking through the undulating hills, he was eventually successful in discovering a situation at a place named N'gelani, which was considered in every way desirable, and particularly so due to the numbers of natives which swarmed among the hills. These, however, exhibited towards my husband very considerable resentment, suspicion and hostility. While he was examining the water supply to see if it were likely to be permanent, they raised their war cry, with the immediate result that the naked and agile warriors congregated in scattered mobs here and there along the hills, armed with their bows and poisoned arrows.

 

My husband returned with the welcome news that we were to move to our permanent residence on the following day. With a glad and thankful heart I saw the camp struck for the last time. None but God can ever know what we endured with our little children in those long journeys, through drought and deluge, in swollen rivers and rushing streams, across marshy swamps and over endless stretches of rough and inhospitable jungle. We had then entered the third month since leaving the Coast at Mombasa, and it was with inconceivable joy we pitched our tents on the summit of N'gelani in the scorching heat of an equatorial sun.

 

The position chosen was on the top of a wooded hill, which declined gradually on the northern side for a distance of five or six miles, to the Masai plain we had just crossed, one thousand feet below. Directly opposite to the site, and over that plain, rose the snowy spire of Mount Kenya, and there at its base lay the country of Watito, fifty miles distant. On the south side of N'gelani there was a natural causeway, connecting the hill with a crescent-shaped elevation of extended dimensions, which stood out at a distance, half encircling our position. There issued forth from either side of the causeway, two perennial streams of water, which continued their divergent courses around the base of the hill on which we were to build. From the smallest and nearest of the fountains we drew our water.

 

The huge trees covering the crown of the hill were, alas, neither useful for building nor firewood, but consisted of a soft pithy stem, bearing large drooping clusters of bright scarlet flowers, which, in the glowing sunlight, lit up the landscape with a red blaze of dazzling splendor. Along the sloping side of these heights for many miles there was a crowded population of wild Wakamba.

 

The day after we pitched our tents on the selected site of N'gelani, the natives came around us in great numbers in a threatening manner; and when my husband deputed a band of men to find out their purpose, the only reply was that they did not want us there, and that if we attempted building we should all be dead in three days. We found them seeking to poison our water, but providentially our supply was drawn from an overflowing spring, and hence their designs were ineffective in that direction.

 

When they found that we paid no attention to their threats, and that we still drew water with impunity, they evidently came to the conclusion that, in spite of their menacing attitude, we were determined to remain and build beside them, for shortly afterwards the petty chief of the district sent word that he desired to make blood brotherhood with my husband. Though the function was not a very pleasing one to him, yet, thinking it might give him more influence with those wild, naked natives, and be helpful to peace and the safety of our lives, he gave his approval.

 

The day was appointed on which the ceremony was to be performed, at a time when the sun had reached the zenith. In the early hours of the morning, scattered bands of numerous warriors could be seen in the distance, approaching along the slopes of the surrounding crescent shaped elevation. When the fierce orb of day rose high in the heavens, the extended hill on which we were camped was black with people, armed with bows and poisoned arrows. Many of them also carried two-edged blades of native iron, which hung in goatskin scabbards from a thong of hide tied round their waist. Their stark-naked bodies were daubed with castor oil and red ochre.

 

The rigid-faced chief, with a large following of elders, came forward to our camp, and gave his salutation, "Uvoo! Mundu mweu" (Peace! to the white man). He was baldly naked and unashamed like his followers. One of the two sheep which he brought as a present was slaughtered in proximity to our camp, the entrails being removed and placed carefully on one side. From the sheep, a small piece of flesh was cut, and thrust on to the end of a whittled, pointed stick. Under a spreading tree selected by the chieftain, some tinder and dry firewood were gathered together; and a warrior took from out his quiver, his two small firesticks, and twirled them so rapidly, that in less than one minute a bright fire was blazing between his feet. Then, driving into the ground the base end of the stick, on the point of which the meat had been skewered, he leaned it at an angle over the fire, and the process of roasting had already begun.

 

Two of our camp chairs were called into use, and these were occupied by my husband and the chief, as they sat face to face with their knees together. The large number of elders who accompanied the chief fell in behind him, while our headmen and interpreter took up a position at the back of my husband's chair.

 

The Master of Ceremonies, a big savage-looking man, dressed in a fresh coat of war paint, with white and yellow stripes drawn diagonally across his abdomen and thighs, took a keen-edged blade of native iron and carefully made an incision on the breast of the chief, until the blood trickled to the ground. He then came to my husband whose chest had been uncovered. Never before had this dusky operator drawn blood from a white-skinned man, and, as he leaned over, his hand trembled considerably. At last the sharp blade touched the skin over the region of the heart, until the red blood flowed from the gash.

 

The piece of meat was then brought hot from the fire and divided. One portion was dipped in the blood which oozed from my husband's breast, and given to the chief to eat. The other half was touched with the blood of the chief and given to my husband to dispose of in like manner. The old warrior chieftain seemed keenly to enjoy the flesh, but I think my husband had considerable difficulty in getting his piece down.

 

The intestines of the slaughtered sheep were coiled around the ebony-colored native and the white-faced intruder as they sat together, indicating the bond of unity and peace which, from thence, was to exist between them. The leader of the ceremony then called out in a loud voice, before the assembled multitude, that if the chief ever turned traitor to us, the rain should be withheld from heaven, his cattle should be barren, and his wives childless; that if we brought any disease upon his herds or harm to any of his people, or allowed our Coast men to enter his villages at night, destruction and death should fall upon us and ours.

When this peace was accomplished, we settled down to build a dwelling house, and a small church or meeting place, in which we might be able to get the natives together to deliver to them our message. Our porters were sent out through the surrounding district, to cut down trees of various sizes for the erection of the buildings. During the first few days, some of the men returned to camp without any trees, having had to flee for their lives from the poisoned arrows of the Wakamba. We were then convinced that, whatever attitude the chief had assumed towards us after entering into the blood-covenant, many, if not all of the natives strongly resented our presence amongst them, and were still our incurable enemies.

 

We therefore adopted the plan of always dispatching the men in batches of fifteen to twenty, armed with rifles and cartridge belts, under the imperative injunction that they were never to resist any attack of the natives, so long as they could escape and get away with their lives. They were only to use their rifles when confronted with wild beasts, or when brought to bay by the natives and in imminent danger of slaughter. On several occasions the war-cry was raised and hostilities were declared, because our men had attempted to cut down some trees which were sacred to the natives. A diplomatic and discreet talk with our blood-brother chieftain, however, always, in the providence of God, allayed the inflammatory feelings, and cut short the impending turmoil. At times our men were accused by the tribe of entering their cultivated patches in the forest and stealing pumpkins and sugarcane. When indisputable proof of this sort of plunder was brought before my husband, the offender was corporally punished, and made to pay over to the owner in beads or wire, double the recognized value of the amount of pillage, as a warning to the rest of our Coast men to respect the property of the natives.

 

Eventually our men had gathered together a diversified collection of timber trees from the forest, which had been cut according to measurements suitable to the requirements of the station building. Here were great piles of stout, forked, bearing posts as hard as iron, which were for the framework of the walls, and in cutting which some of our best axes were broken. There lay immense, long bearers for the support of the roof, each of which required twenty men to carry, and heaps of lighter poles for rafters, while yonder were stacked up thousands of thin forest vines and saplings, for the purpose of forming a double lattice on the timber of the walls for holding the mud, and a single network on the roof to support the thatch. Around the camp were tons of long grass, which had been pulled by the hand or cut with knives on the adjacent hills, and all neatly tied in small bundles for roofing. Here and there were masses of pliant fibrous bark, which had been stripped from the different kinds of wattles that flourished in the spongy defiles of the hills, to be used in tying the timber and lattice work; for neither hammer nor nails were used on the buildings, except on the window and door frames.

 

In the area of the camp were numerous hills of white ants, and, with the double intention of clearing out these destructive insects, and using for the walls of our houses the well-beaten earth, which formed their extensive underground tunnels, men were asked to dig into and open a pit in the center of each. A long file of porters with large gourd shells were also set apart for the work of carrying water with which to mix the clay.

 

When the water was poured into the prepared pits, numbers of men jumped into the cavities, and commenced pounding the clay with their feet, until it arrived at the consistency of stiff dough. It was then rolled up in large balls of twenty or thirty pounds, and carried to the different buildings, where other men thrust it into the lattice work of the walls. After this process was completed they returned to the first wall, which was by that time dry, and commenced plastering it inside and out with well-beaten clay of a bright red color, and smoothing it with the palms of their hands.

 

During the work of erection, the natives, though still hostile, occasionally gathered round in considerable numbers to see the wonderful building of the white man, and my husband took every opportunity of having conversations with them through our interpreter, who knew a little of their incomprehensible language. Though our houses were mere wattle-and-daub buildings they seemed huge and meaningless structures to these natives, who for ages had lived in little conical grass huts, into which they crawled through a small hole on one side.

 

The most nimble of our porters were selected by my husband for the business of thatching, which was the most important department of jungle building, since the weatherproof qualities of the houses depended entirely upon the perfection with which that work was executed. Along the eaves of the roof a layer of grass was laid, about nine inches deep, which was fastened tightly down by means of horizontal rods, tied through the grass to the rafters below. Above this line of grass another level was laid, overlapping the former and so on, layer after layer, until they eventually reached the distant ridge, which was crowned with a bed of extra long grass, doubled down on either side of the ridgepole, and secured by wattles and fibrous bark.

 

When the eaves of overhanging thatch were neatly cut, a one-foot course of adhesive clay was beaten into the floors, and upon the six-foot verandah which encircled the dwelling-house. In the window frames were fixed, longitudinally and horizontally, stout bars of solid iron, to allow of free ventilation and keep out lions and leopards, while the doors were pieced together with portions of wooden boxes of different lengths. Across each room, from the tops of the four walls was stretched a ceiling of white Indian calico, to catch the falling pieces of grass from the roof, and prevent the rats and snakes, which revel there at night, from dropping down upon our beds.

 

After three months of tough labor, encompassed by confusing and complicated difficulties with the naked natives day by day, and amidst the night-time serenading of panthers and the howling of hyenas night after night, the station buildings were at last finally completed. It was to us a glad day when we first pitched our camp on the summit of N'gelani, but an infinitely more joyful experience to pass from that tented camp into a permanent home, though the building covered an earthen floor and was crowned with forest grass.

 

Having been thus placed in our rude jungle habitat, our caravan porters were all disbanded to the Coast, and we were left absolutely alone with the wild and native tribe of the hills among whom our lot was cast.

 

CHAPTER 16
REDUCING THE LANGUAGE AMIDST PIONEERING PERILS

 

When the men who had been our companions in travel, and who had shared with us the dangers of entering the unopened country of Kikuyu, were dismissed to the sea, we felt very intensely our isolated position. On each succeeding day we could see that storms were threatening, and that the blood brotherhood which the chieftain had induced only affected a very small portion of the inhabitants. The chief himself, nevertheless, who entered into that solemn native compact never turned his back upon us nor evinced any deceit whatever, but continued faithful under the most trying circumstances and severest ordeals, through which we eventually had to pass.

 

In lonely isolation, but with perfect confidence in God, my husband settled down to the important though tiresome and difficult work of reducing to writing the language of the tribe. It was not easy to employ natives, from whose lips he might catch the articulate sounds which expressed their ideas and commit them to writing, for service was to them equivalent to bondage and slavery. Who of all their ancestors had ever entered the service of another outside their own clan? And why should they? To do so would bring disgrace upon their race, and merit the opprobrium of their comrades.

 

The natural curiosity of some members of the tribe, however, coupled with the prospect of receiving a string of beads at the setting of the sun, was sufficient to conquer their natural prejudice, and therefore my husband was enabled to get a new man every few days. This continual chopping and changing of natives materially slowed the work, for it was difficult to transmit to their minds our purpose in grasping the vocal expression of their language, as they were void of any idea that visible signs could awaken in the mind certain audible sounds. Having no lettering to express their thoughts, and being without any tradition whatever of the art of writing, and misunderstanding its purpose, they supposed we were engaged in some magic performance; and oftentimes, after the work of an hour or two, they would disappear and never return. Nevertheless, others took their places, lured by a few coils of wire with which they might decorate themselves.

 

Accompanied by these raw natives, my husband patiently and persistently sought to gain a knowledge of their language, so that he might speedily be enabled to preach the Gospel to them in their own tongue, and that the Missionaries, who would eventually follow him and enter upon his labors, might have no difficulty in acquiring the dialect. Though many were the obstacles which stressed the work, yet, day by day, he persevered in interpreting the meaning of their seemingly incoherent language, and expressing their sounds in Roman characters.

 

One of the trials in beginning was his inability to ask questions. Therefore he had to point to various objects around him and, for the time being, take for granted the correctness of the names they applied to the various things indicated. As he got familiar with a few sentences, however, information flowed more freely. He could then ask "What is this? What do you call that? What is it to walk, to run, to eat, to sleep?" and so forth, always seeking to suit the action to the word. It was with very considerable trouble he obtained their sounds for abstract terms, such as folly, virtue, existence, knowledge, purity, wit; but after much slow perseverance all difficulties were overcome.

 

After some time it was discovered that the language had quite an extensive vocabulary, and was much more forcible and pointed in its significations than the Swahili language of the Coast. The Wakamba, (or more correctly speaking, Akamba as they call themselves, and as I shall call them hereafter), have a remarkably fluent language, in which every word and almost every syllable ends in a vowel. It is entirely void of onomatopoetic words, such as we find in large numbers in the English tongue, as crow, buzz, pewit, etc., words which have been formed to resemble the sound of the thing denoted.

 

Their language is wonderfully expressive, and is agglutinative in its formation. The verbs occupy a very prominent place, while the pronouns and tense auxiliaries of the verbs are joined to the root as prefixes, and for this reason several terms are united in one compound word. Kunyamasya, for example, is the verb to persecute, ku being the sign of the infinitive. Makanumyamasya is "They will persecute him," the first syllable ma signifying the pronoun "they," ka the future tense, and mu the pronoun "him," while nyamasya is the verb root.

 

It gives one much food for thought to find a language, so philosophic in its structure, on the lips of naked natives, who are without a single written sign to represent their ideas: and we were forced to the conclusion that it must have come to them at Babel or elsewhere, from the hand of the Eternal and Omniscient God. With these undraped denizens of the woods there is not a particle of evidence of evolution, but on the other hand very extensive, if not certain, proof of devolution.

 

When my husband was able to speak a little in the Kikamba tongue, he began preaching the Gospel, sometimes to a few individuals, and again to larger numbers, whenever he could get them together.

 

Scarcely a day passed without dozens of people coming to have a glimpse of the white man and his wife and children. The latter were probably of greater interest than either my husband or myself. No fresh batch of natives ever saw the little ones without audibly expressing their great surprise. At times, after their feelings of awe had subsided, they would burst out into uncontrollable laughter at some little thing which tickled their risibility. Often they encroached upon our quarters as early as sunrise, but we allowed them perfect freedom to come and go as they wished, so that they might gain confidence. One of our little children had very long hair and this amused them greatly. They would say to one another "Tazama! Tazama! Nzwii yake ta kisithi kya n’gatata!" (Look! Look! Her hair is like a gnu's tail!)

 

My husband was rejoiced at the opportunities, thus afforded, of calling these awe-struck spectators aside, and explaining to them in broken sentences the purpose of our coming among them. On these occasions he always took the Bible in his hand, and told them the message he delivered to them was not his own, but was taken out of the Book, which was the revealed will of God. These people spread the news far and wide about the Book, and oftentimes a number of old men came many miles to find out what the Book said upon various subjects.

 

In some cases the neighboring tribe of Masai had been raiding their villages and taking their cattle, and they wished to know from my husband what the Book said about that matter. He was always very blunt and faithful with them, and would say, 'Well now! You know that you have in times past raided the Masai and taken their cattle. This Book says, ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap,' so you need not think it strange that when you stole their cattle they should come and capture yours. It says in the Book, 'Let him that stole steal no more, so now you must never go to their country again raiding for cattle, but be satisfied with the increase which God may give to you; and let your young men, who now do nothing but fight, stay at home and help the women in their work and look after the cattle."

 

On one occasion a big, firm, severe looking man came, with a terrible story about one of his wives (he was blessed with three!) running away to another man in a distant part of the country, and wanted to know what the Book said about that. After there was explained to him something of what the Bible taught on marital relationships, the man hung down his head for a minute or two in deep thought, and then looking up he told my husband that a few days ago he had seen some native women looking at a tiny baby, which one of our children carried in her arms, and said that if he would only let him have that for a few days he would be able to bring back his wife.

 

The little "baby" to which he referred was a doll, which had been sent out from Europe for one of the children. The women who had been looking at it could not, at first, believe that it was non-living, and persisted in their enquiries as to what food we gave it. When it was demonstrated to them beyond the shadow of a doubt that the toy had no life, their amazement knew no bounds, and they smote their breasts and laid their hands upon their mouths.

 

The man whose wife had run away happened to be present at the time, and saw the doll and, being assured of its harmlessness, he now requested that the child's toy might be given to him for a day or two. My husband, at once realizing that his purpose was to frighten the people, quickly refused to grant his request, as he did not care to allow the man to bring terror among his brother natives through anything belonging to us. I was sorry for the man, however, as he seemed very anxious about the return of his wife, and I said that I would ask my husband to let him have it, if he would promise to return it safely.

 

Eventually the man went away with a happy heart, carrying the ‘baby’ in his arms. After three days he returned with a beaming face and a victorious mien, saying that he had got his wife back. We asked him how he had accomplished it. His reply was to the effect that, on his arrival at the village to which his wife had fled he suddenly uncovered the doll in the presence of the people, who were so terrified that they rushed off into the surrounding forest, and during the excitement he captured his wife, and soon disappeared with her in the bush.

 

In the early stage of our life in that unopened country, it was very difficult to obtain natives for the countless labor in connection with the station, as the young men had never been accustomed to any kind of labor. For the housework, the difficulties were greater, inasmuch as the women and girls of the tribe were simply beasts of burden to the men, and were every day occupied in the work of the villages and, according to native custom, were not supposed to sleep away from their huts. For this reason, it was an utter impossibility for us to get a single girl for household work in our home. In addition to all this, there seemed no chance of them overcoming their prejudice against wearing clothing. Nothing would have induced the Akamba girls to put on any cloth covering.

 

We had as a result to turn our attention to the young men, and from them we recruited our household helpers, as well as general workers. Although the male population went about in nakedness, yet they had not the same strong prejudice against covering which was found to be inborn in the female mind. We were successful in getting some of them to come to us and learn cooking and housekeeping, nursing and laundry work. But how could these poor wild inhabitants of the woods, who, since they had opened their eyes to the light of the sun, had never seen kettle nor saucepan, cup nor plate, bed nor table, nor household utensil of any kind, be expected to adapt themselves to the work of even the jungle home of a white man? Nevertheless, they came to us, most of them, out of mere curiosity to see how the Muzungu lived.

 

When their names were written down for employment, the first thing we did was to hand them a piece of soap and send them to the river to wash themselves from head to foot, and scrub off the ochre and castor oil with which they had been painted. When they returned from the stream, with their black, glossy skin shining brightly, there was given to each man a shirt and knickers of unbleached calico. These garments I made in moments which were snatched from a very busy life, and were kept in stock for the purpose.

 

After a week or two, when the curiosity of these young men had been gratified, and they had got to know something of our manner of life, they left their work and went off to their dens among the bushes. No increase of payment, in the form of extra beads or wire, would have induced them to stay for one hour longer than their wild spirits were content to be bound. It was unreasonable for us to expect these free sons of the jungle, who all their lives had been accustomed to going where they liked and doing as they liked, to bear the burden of service.

 

However, we had always a few to come and stay with us a short time, and when they left others filled their places. Hundreds of men thus passed a few weeks with us and then went their way, all having heard the message of the love of God in Christ Jesus. The sharpest and most active of these young men were employed for cooking and housework, while to others was given the work of drawing water, cutting up and bringing in firewood, cultivating our garden and keeping the station in order.

 

Continual work was essential to prevent the jungle encroaching upon our buildings. The growth was so great and wild seeds so numerous, that, in three months after the rains had fallen, it would be hardly possible to approach the station, if the space surrounding it, and the cultivated paths leading to it from the well beaten native tracks, were not kept open by continual labor.

Alas! however, when these raw natives were just beginning to be useful, a longing for the freedom of their bush life would come upon them with irresistible force: the shirt and knickers would be cast aside, and our helpers would return to their untrammeled conditions, clad once more in bright red clay and the oil of the castor bean, and sniffing again the free air of their wild sunny hills.

 

Solid foundations, nevertheless, were being laid and the dignity of labor was slowly but surely being taught and recognized. We found the Akamba continually at war with the tribes bordering on their country, seeking to steal their cattle and capture their wives and maidens. The other tribes then came to retaliate, and considerable slaughter was the result. Oftentimes the dead bodies of the men killed in these raids were found quite near to our station, and the heavy buffalo hide shields, which had been thrown away by the wounded and dying, were picked up in the grass on the surrounding hillsides.

 

Under difficulties which ever seemed to be on the increase, my husband continued the work of reducing the language to writing, but, save for a few friendly natives, the people were quite unwilling to listen to our message. Day after day, however, we were able to bring before the minds of individuals the great fact of God's redeeming love, and occasionally opportunities were presented to us of addressing ten or twelve of the old men who lived near to our station. A limited circle, under the nominal sway of the old chief with whom my husband had made blood brotherhood, had got to know us fairly well, and to understand our purposes; but beyond that boundary the natives were absolutely unfriendly.

 

We had been able to exchange some of our barter goods for a few zebu cattle, so that we might have a little milk for our young children, but these hostile natives came one night and attempted to steal them. They only managed, however, to get away with the calves, when we became aware of their presence. My husband made a rush to the cattle enclosure, and found that the marauders had already disappeared in the forest. From the African zebu cattle no milk can be obtained unless the calves are first allowed to suck, and that's why, in the absence of the calves, our scanty supply of milk completely vanished. On the following morning my husband tracked the raiders for about ten miles, but their marks were eventually lost on a dry grassy plain.

 

The cunning natives were bold enough to return a few nights later to capture the mothers of the calves. The cattle were enclosed in a strong picket , and our two herdsmen, belonging to the surrounding district, slept in a shed within the enclosure. When these two natives were awakened by the noise, the daring plunderers had already broken through the surrounding fence, and were attempting to pull the cattle out through the narrow passage which they had opened up in the stockade. The herdsmen, climbing an accessible part of the fence, fled for their lives from the cattle pen, and rushed to our dwelling-house to tell my husband.

 

He jumped out of bed and, clutching his rifle and cartridge bag, he ran as fast as was possible in the midnight darkness to the cattle enclosure, which was situated about one hundred yards from the house. Seeking to frighten the thieves, he fired several shots over the cattle pen, and then could hear the stampede of the raiding crowd. Discharging a few more shots high in air as they receded, he returned for candle lantern; and then found that the natives had only been able to pull out one cow, through the contracted passage they had made in the fence. On hearing the shots, the warriors were evidently so annoyed at the thought of not getting away with their booty, that several of them had driven their long, two-edged blades into the body of the cow which was found lying in a pool of blood.

 

Time after time the natives made many futile attempts to poison and murder us, but we were forewarned of many of these in a very providential manner. The natives sent to us a most keen and cunning man of their tribe to seek employment with us on the station, so that he might observe all our movements, and thus aid the natives in their plan to surprise and murder us. We were rejoiced to see this able-bodied man seeking work, and immediately named the amount of beads and wire we would give him every moon, and our offer he gladly accepted. We thought it was a very hopeful sign and augured well for a speedy, if not an immediate, intimacy with the natives. At every convenient opportunity, we spoke to him of the love of N'gai (the Supreme Being) to all mankind, as manifested in His Son Jesus Christ.

 

The man was very reserved and suspicious at first, and his keen eyes followed our every movement from day to day. In a short time, however, he seemed to become quite attached to us, and eventually told us of the secret purpose for which he had been sent, and revealed to us every plot and strategy of the natives so that, under the blessing of God, we were able to upset their fateful plans.

 

After some time, the natives suspected that the man, whom they had sent as a spy, had turned traitor and become friendly towards us; and he was obliged to go away to another part of the country. Although he seemed greatly interested in the message of the Gospel, he gave no evidence while with us of any change of heart. Nevertheless, his attachment to us was most sincere, and his services inexpressibly valuable.

 

One evening a vast multitude of warriors, who had determined to wipe out the white man from their country, were on their way to our station from a distant district, under the chieftainship of a very active and influential native, named Mwana Muka. By sundown, large numbers of these armed men, dressed in full war paint, had reached the base of the neighboring hills, from which point they were to make an onslaught on our station. Mwana Muka had told his warriors that they need not fear the white man for he had made medicine to overcome all his powers, and turn the bullets of his rifle into a stream of harmless water.

 

As on many other occasions of imminent danger, the children were laid down to sleep in their clothing and boots, so as to be ready at any moment for an immediate rush to the jungle, as a last resort to escape the keen-edged blade of the native or the flames of a burning building.

 

It had been arranged by the chief that a number of his fighting men should carry with them lighted brands, which they were to fling on the roof of the grass-thatched buildings at the moment of attack.

 

No sooner had the red ball of the sun sunk in the west, than huge clouds came rolling up on one another in vast banks on our eastern sky, the point from which our rains generally came. With the rushing breeze of evening, which always followed the sun to the west, these dense black mountains of moisture spread over the sky like a pall; and soon a few vivid, sharp lines of lightning gleamed across the vault of heaven, followed by peals of rattling thunder, which seemed to shake the earth, and in a moment or two the rain came down in torrents.

 

We had brought the matter of our position before the Lord, and were assured that if it pleased Him He would, in His own way, bring us deliverance. As far as human forethought and caution were concerned, we had arranged to meet the enemy as best we could, and were determined to sit up and wait their arrival. Mr. Ainsworth had most kindly offered to us the protection of the Machakos fortification, and proposed sending an armed escort to take us there, but we determined to stand by our position.

 

The rain continued with ever-increasing severity, and soon came down in sweeping sheets of immense volume, while the entire heavens were lit up with zigzag streaks of discharging electricity which darted from east to west with terrifying frequency. As the earth was illumined by the flashes, we could see that, even where the ground sloped at an angle of forty-five degrees, it was covered with a flowing sheet of water several inches deep, so plentiful was the fall. The two quiet, silent streams, which daily wended their way on either side of the elevation on which our station was built, were turned into deep torrents, which roared as if the bases of the hills were being laid bare, and rushed through the valleys with such intense suddenness, that huge trees were torn up by the roots and carried out unto the distant plains. During the space of half an hour, the heavens were let loose in such a manner as I have never seen since or before in that land of tropical downpours.

 

We could not but see the mighty hand of God in this wonderful deliverance. Nothing, perhaps, unnerves and prostrates more rapidly the naked native of the tropics than a deluge of rain, attended by a temperature below the average. Not only were the multitude of resolute warriors stopped by the drenching torrents, but their sinewy bow strings were thereby rendered useless in discharging the poisoned arrows. Realizing that the sky, and probably God Himself were fighting against them, they slunk back in a half-dying condition to their booths in the bush.

 

We did not lie down to rest until the morning was about to dawn, and soon we heard from some friendly natives of the unhappy retreat of Mwana Muka's brave hordes. Our little garden was completely washed out that night, and some of the trees in it were torn up and carried away, while the shape of its surface was completely changed, and several ravines excavated through it by the sudden torrents of water.

 

During the few succeeding days we breathed more freely, and were somewhat off our guard; but one night we were awaked with the news that our cattle pen was empty, having been broken into by a few wily warriors, not more than half a dozen as we gathered from the footprints. Having been unsuccessful in approaching us in blustering numbers, they had determined to accomplish our destruction in piecemeal, by cunning subtlety and devious sneakiness. They had noiselessly, with sharp pointed sticks removed the soil, which had been rendered loose and spongy by the heavy rains, from the base of the stakes forming the enclosure; and, dragging them out, had driven the cattle through the opening, and got clear away without anyone hearing a sound.

 

The next morning my husband, accompanied by a few natives, followed the trail of the herd for many miles in the direction of the Masai country, until it was lost in a confusing maze. We learned afterwards that the cunning plunderers had, as a trick, first directed their course towards the Masai land, and then, doubling on their tracks, had roamed about with the cattle hither and thither for several days in the uninhabited wilds. Only when they were thoroughly assured that they had successfully confused their pursuers, did they return to their own district and divide the spoil.

 

When, after considerable pressure, the English Government took over that great unowned and unknown territory as a British Protectorate, our troubles multiplied to an alarming degree, and our lives often hung trembling in the balance. Except among a limited circle around our station, there was an ever-increasing undercurrent of feeling against the presence of a white man in the country, and a strong determination, not only to kill the representative of the Government, but also to encompass our lives and those of our young children. Already God had given to us another baby boy, since we had entered the Ukamba country — the first European child born in the interior of what is now known as British East Africa — and a widespread rumor had gained circulation among the natives, that we would soon overrun the country with fearless and powerful white men.

 

The Government employed natives from the island of Zanzibar and the Coast, and trained them as soldiers under European surveillance, for the protection of the two forts in the interior, which the Government had taken over from the East Africa Company, the one on the western border of the Ukamba country under the command of Mr. John Ainsworth, and the other on the boundary of Kikuyu under the superintendence of Mr. F. G. Hall.

 

Within a few miles of our station was also established a small Government post, which was manned by trained soldiers; but the Akamba surrounded this outpost and captured it, murdering, skinning and mutilating the defenders, and taking possession of their rifles and ammunition.

 

After the men of the outpost had been massacred, Mr. Ainsworth sent his newly arrived lieutenant Mr. C. R. W. Lane, with a party of sixty rifles, to recover and bury the bodies of the men which had been slaughtered. This armed force boldly ventured into our district; but to save their own lives were obliged to beat a hasty and sudden retreat over the hills, to their fortified position on the border, pursued by the agile and blood- seeking natives.

 

As far as man could judge, matters were becoming very serious for us, and daily hurrying to a climax. Several thousand armed warriors were already mustering in our vicinity. They were highly overjoyed with the overthrow of the Government outpost, and flushed with the success of routing the rifle-armed band, which had recently attempted to enter their region. There seemed but one step between us and death.

 

My heart sank within me as I looked into the bright happy faces of our little ones, who were unaware of the terrible dangers which surrounded them; and I could not help thinking that, before the morrow's sun would rise, their mutilated remains might be scattered about the station. The fact that they were quite unconscious of the perils which overshadowed them only increased my deep and inexpressible anxiety.

 

I realized, however, that God, who had extended His protection to us in such a marked manner in the past, was able to deliver us now if it were for His glory. I knew that my husband had already, under the blessing of God, worked his way into the hearts of many of the natives around us, and I believed that, at least in our own immediate district, not a single native would send an arrow to the heart of either the children or ourselves.

 

Although the natives outside the circle of our influence were determined upon murdering us, yet they were so conscious of the fearlessness and bravery of my husband, that they were somewhat in awe of the powers which they supposed him to possess. Some of them had stood by when they saw him in the presence of lions, and had witnessed the King of Beasts, which they dreaded so much, fall flat to the earth with a tiny bullet from his firearms. Dozens of times they had watched him go straight up to a rhinoceros on the open plain, and seen the huge beast, which could scatter some hundreds of them, drop stone dead as if by magic at the sound of his rifle. When they were hungry, he had gone out for a few hours through the surrounding bush, and shot several of these great pachyderms, on which they might feast and satisfy their craving for flesh.

 

These very men were now gathering in large numbers, thirsting for blood, and resolved upon surrounding the destruction of our lives. In these times of indescribable anxiety, my husband had to rise several times each night and., armed with a rifle, patrol the station buildings to see that all was right.

 

On the evening of the day on which the armed company had to flee to the Machakos stronghold before the enraged warriors, Mr. Ainsworth, having heard of the dangerous position in which we stood, sent a band of thirty armed soldiers, to carry me and the children to the fort for safety. With the escort he sent an official letter, warning us of the great and imminent danger of remaining in our unfortified position, and expressing the urgent necessity of making our escape immediately. He assured us of what we already knew, that there were several thousands of armed warriors assembling near to the base of the hill on which our station was built, who had determined to murder us and burn down the station buildings. To this letter there was added a postscript, signed by Mr. Lane, which, in abrupt and graphic language, told of the terrible experiences he had gone through in our district that day, and how his force of riflemen were chased across the hills by the multitudes of armed bowmen. We were intensely grateful to Mr. Ainsworth for his kindness; but we felt that we must decline the offered protection of the Government fort, and stand or fall in the position to which God had called us, being assured that He would, in His own way, direct the issue of affairs in accordance with His will.

 

We believed that if we left the Mission Station the assembled warriors would immediately burn the buildings to the ground, and that we might be prevented from ever returning again to the charred remains, which would then crown our undefended and isolated situation. It was also apparent to us that if we identified ourselves with the fortification, the natives could not but come to the conclusion that we were allied with the Government in any course they might adopt in their administration; and the natives might therefore be greatly prejudiced against us and all future Missionaries, and the progress of the Gospel of Christ immeasurably hindered.

 

That night was a time of inexpressible tension and painful suspense. The two infant children were fast asleep, and, although the others had been put to bed in their clothing, they were kept awake by the excitement of the hour and the troubled expression, which we tried to hide, but which they readily detected.

 

Every possible preparation had been made by my husband, with the few men at his disposal, to combat any attack upon our station. These men were armed with old snider rifles, while our only personal arms were two magazine rifles and a self-extracting revolver.

 

Having done all that lay within our power, to enable us to make a momentary show of resistance to the natives, we threw ourselves upon God, and prayed that it might please Him to defeat and confound the plans of these fierce, relentless warriors and send us deliverance.

 

While thus engaged, we heard an unearthly, exploding sound overhead, and, hurrying to the door to see what was the matter, we found the night sky blazing with light, and our eyes caught sight of a white-hot meteor of immense size, shooting across the sky over our station. The gigantic fiery ball whizzed through the atmosphere with terrific speed, lighting up the whole countryside with a radiant, dazzling glow, and leaving behind it a great trail of fire, as it disappeared, striking a mountain thirty miles away.

 

The huge meteorite had swept directly over the heads of the armed multitude of warriors, who were struck with such terror and mortal dread that they rushed panic-stricken to their homes among the hills.

CHAPTER 17
THE NATIVES AND THEIR CUSTOMS

 

After the marvelous deliverance which God had given us, by the timely fall of the great meteorite, there was quite a change in the attitude and actions of the natives towards us. We found them more willing to welcome us into their villages, and to hear from us the Message we had come to deliver. They said that they should listen to the man who had brought fire down from heaven, as they attributed to my husband the celestial incident, which had spread such alarm and amazement among the ranks of their assembled warriors.


We were saddened, however, to find that their hostility to the newly-arrived Government was still wholeheartedly evident. When the natives had partially recovered from the shock, caused by the immense fire-ball which had swept over their heads, several thousands of armed bowmen passed close by our station, on their way to attack the Machakos fort, without any attempt whatever at molesting us in our unprotected lodgings. They carried with them the rifles and other booty, which they had previously taken from the men of the outpost, whom they massacred and mutilated. On reaching Machakos, they were successful in capturing many cattle, which were in the stockade in close nearness to the fort.

 

The sub-Commissioner, commanding the fort, found it necessary to call in the help of one thousand spearmen of the adjoining Masai tribe, to help his riflemen in seeking to defeat a small section of these unruly Akamba natives. With the assistance, which the Masai were able to give in the punitive raids, about one thousand head of cattle and several thousand sheep and goats were captured by the Government from Mwana Muka's district.

 

In this attempted conquest, the Akamba warriors, fleet as the breeze which blows over their hills, were able to take care of themselves; but not so, the women and little ones, who huddled together for safety in large numbers, in wooded gorges and shaded waterways. When the keen-eyed Masai discovered the hiding places of these frightened fugitives, their end was sealed, and they became the helpless prey of the violent warriors. In cold savagery these men of the neighboring tribe ripped up the defenseless creatures, until some of the overgrown clefts and ravines became human shambles, stinking with blood of innocent women and children.

 

One might imagine that such a punishment would have completely limited the bold energy, and broken the warlike spirit of these bold and daring natives. It was not, however, until a considerable force of Sudanese soldiers, with a machine gun, under the command of Capt. Harrison, had been brought up from the Coast, that the warriors submitted to the authority of the Government.

 

Capt. Harrison asked my husband to go with him into Mwana Muka's country, to interpret for him, while he sought to induce a peaceful obedience to the administration.

 

On the arrival of the small company of Sudanese soldiers in his country, the old native chieftain, who had so bravely led on his warriors to battle for so many years, at once acknowledged the superior force of trained riflemen, and he, and a large entourage of his elders, filed into camp to offer their submission. The Captain, with much diplomacy, demonstrated to the chief the power of the machine gun, by turning it for a short time upon a giant tree in the forest. The keen-eyed, sprightly warrior, with a leopard's skin deftly thrown around his shoulders, seemed greatly interested, and acknowledged how pointless it would be for his bowmen to face such a death-dealing monster.

 

These brave and fearless warriors, who for ages had been engaged in never ending conflict with the surrounding tribes, had never before acknowledged themselves defeated. Their efforts at poisoning us had been fruitless. The very spy they had sent, to enable them to trap us, led to their own embarrassment. Their plans had been frustrated by the furious rainstorm, while the fiery meteor coming from the heavens had led them to bite the dust. Now that a band of skillful riflemen, accompanied by awe-inspiring weapons of destruction, had camped in the very center of their wild, jungle home, they were completely baffled and mystified.

 

Of the history of this wonderful tribe of Akamba people, and that of the endless foes nearby to them, during the past centuries, nothing is known, except insufficient and fragmentary traditions, which their warriors have handed down through each succeeding generation.

 

The Ukamba country extends, broadly speaking, over a wide area from the Kikuyu territory at the base of Mount Kenya on the Equator, to the Taita mountains; and is inhabited by a hardy race of men, who, together with the Kavirondo on the eastern border of Lake Victoria Nyanza, have been more addicted to nudity of person than any other tribes.

 

The Akamba are the most expert bowmen on the continent of Africa, and are possessed of a poison which is exceedingly deadly, even to the largest species of antelope. They are the only tribe, who for many years have successfully raided the great Masai clan, and carried off, not only their cattle, but also in many instances their women and maidens.

 

The western part of what is now known as the Ukamba country was occupied by large numbers of Masai, only a few decades ago. On the rolling grassy fields, which abound among those hills, they pastured their numberless flocks and herds; but the clever Akamba warriors harassed them repeatedly, and eventually drove them out to the open plains.

 

Our Mission Station at N'gelani was built on the site of a large Masai camp. In digging for the foundation of our buildings, and in cultivating a piece of ground for a garden, we dug up the bones of some of their chiefs, who alone of the tribe were allowed burial, a bed of huge heavy stones being placed over the corpse, so that the body might not be dug up and eaten by the countless hyenas which prowl the jungle. We also found many pieces of double-eared, earthen cooking pots, which, with the stone-covered graves of the chieftains, are both alike peculiar to the Masai tribe.

 

The Masai are a wandering people, while the Akamba combine a little primitive agriculture with the keeping of flocks and herds. The Akamba natives are the most capable and daring woodsmen of all Equatorial Africa, and are absolutely at home in the bush. At times they have penetrated far beyond their own borders, and have even ventured to form colonies among hostile tribes. Several of their settlements have been found in distant parts of the continent. In the year 1885, my husband and I found quite a large colony of them in Usagara, six degrees south of the Equator. There they had retained their Kikamba customs, and carried with them their bows and arrows, keeping secret from the surrounding tribes the secret of the source of their deadly poison; and, having made friends with the Wasagara, had settled down as a distinct and separate people, under their own form of patriarchal government.

They are the most democratic tribe we have yet met with in the equatorial regions, and despise equally monarchy and oligarchy. Unlike the Masai and Kikuyu tribes, they have no great chiefs ruling over large areas of country, but many minor chiefs, who are little more than presiding seniors, without much power beyond the expressed will of the assembled elders or married men, so that their government is, in reality, patriarchal.

 

They are very skilful hunters and, armed with their bow and quiver of poisoned darts, they have brought to earth more of the fauna of the Equatorial Belt than any other tribe who roam its jungle clothed hills and fertile plains.

 

The physical organization and facial shape of this and other tribes in East Equatorial Africa remind one of some of the specimens of Grecian athletes or Roman gladiators. There seems to be a general impression among some European circles that all the inhabitants of Africa, comprising one fifth of the entire superficial area of the earth's surface, bear the same characteristic qualities. Natives of Africa, therefore, are all supposed to be distinguished the same features of face, with considerable abdominal development and of rolling step, conveying their ideas in a speech of somewhat inarticulate sounds.

 

This, however, is quite a mistaken belief. Over those vast regions there are many hundreds of tribes of different races of men, speaking distinct and philosophical languages, who differ infinitely more in character and physical structure than the various nations of Europe.

 

The features of many of the African races are by no means the same. The Akamba tribe, as we found them, unspoiled by some of the degrading influences which accompany European civilization, are men of very balanced body type, muscular and tall, with a noble bearing and a peculiarly cool, calculating expression, in which there is an appreciable mixture of pride and haughtiness. The carriage of the body is eminently of a distinctly defiant character. The forehead is high, the nose prominent, the eye keen, and the features well cut, pleasing and acceptable from a European point of view.

 

If a hundred men were taken at random from even the best districts of London, Paris or New York, and compared with the same number of individuals from the Akamba or Masai tribes, there is no doubt whatever that we, ourselves being the judges, could not but conclude that, in perfection of physical organization and shape of countenance, the naked natives would be infinitely superior to the inhabitants of Europe.

 

Although the natives seem to be carved out of ebony, yet they do not present a rigid, black monotony. Among the different tribes there are many varied shades of color, from the darkest olive brown to the deepest hue of velvet black. On seeing numbers of these undraped denizens of the forest together for the first time, the newly-arrived traveler might be led to think that he never could distinguish one man from another, as the dark color gives the impression of great similarity. After mingling with them for some time, however, one is assured that in the heart of Africa, as elsewhere, God has fashioned distinguishing qualities in the expression of every face.

 

The honest opinion of these natives, regarding the attractiveness of the white man's features would not in anywise tend to increase our vanity. There can be no doubt whatever that our whitewashed faces are somewhat ugly to them. Many of them believe that we have lost our outer skin. To the soft, smoothfaced Bantu races of the tropics, and to some of the tribes of Nilotic origin like the Masai, the bearded Muzungu does not present a very pleasing appearance, while a man with a moustache under his nose creates giggling laughter, and appears to them as offensive as the upper lip ring of a native would to us.

 

Over the greater part of the East Equatorial Belt of Africa, the races are lacking beard and moustache. Nature has not, in this particular respect, made any distinguishing mark between the sexes; and if, maybe, a single hair makes its appearance on the chin of an old man, he will carefully remove the offending specimen, pulling it out by the root with a pair of rude tweezers, formed of a bent strip of native iron, which every well equipped native carries on an iron chain around his neck.

 

Their ideas regarding the undesirability of hair on the face are so strong and forcible, that even the hair which nature does supply for value and decoration, on the eyebrows and eyelashes, is all systematically pulled out by both men and women. Their faces, therefore, have a strangely bald look, and their keen penetrating gaze loses something of its definite expression, by missing of the natural draping of the eyes.

 

When we arrived in Ukamba the men roamed in unashamed nudity, and had no tradition of wearing any covering. The grown up girls and women wear a piece of skin a few inches square, which is sometimes decorated with beads and pieces of brass wire. A thong of hide twice the thickness of a bootlace is tied around the body, under the abdomen and over the hips, and the small piece of skin is attached to this in front. A narrow, tapering piece of goatskin about twenty-four inches long is fastened behind to the thong, from which it gradually diminishes to a point, and hangs down over the centre of the buttocks. When these women are seen in the distance, especially in a stooping posture while at work in their garden patches, they appear to have tails; and, at first sight, a credulous disciple of Darwin might readily conclude that he had, at last, discovered the long-sought "missing link."

 

Their velvety darkness of skin hides to a great extent the appearance of absolute nakedness, while the marvelous healthiness of body, immunity from disease, faultlessness of physique and muscular energy of the native are great compensations to him, for adopting and maintaining that custom of nudity, which enables him, three hundred and sixty-five days in the year, to bathe every portion of his body in the life-giving influences of pure air and sunlight.

 

The Akamba never allow the curled hair of their head to grow very long. Those who are careless of their appearance among both sexes simply allow it to grow until it becomes like a rough, matted skull-cap. Then with a piece of sharp iron they cut it off, excepting a little tuft, which they leave on the crown of the head, as they say, for seed. The majority of the young men, however, are very careful about their looks — much more so than the females — and have their head shaved in a very unusual manner, which reminds one of a beautiful flower garden, which has been laid out with the skill of a professional gardener. These dandies, with their keen pointed blade, carve out narrow alleys hither and thither through the entangled mop of their head, leaving little plots of curly hair of every imaginable shape, some taking the form of a crescent, triangle or star, while others are round or oval. In some of these fantastic sections of hair, they plant a grotesque selection of assorted feathers.

 

They rarely ever wash their bodies, but periodically smear themselves with red clay and oil, which latter they extract in large quantities from the bean of the palma Christa; and when this becomes sour they apply a fresh coat of the unctuous ochre.

 

When we first met them, many of the warriors were marked with oblique stripes, which they drew in white clay over the black, oily skin of their abdomen and legs. This form of decoration had evidently been suggested to them by the enchanting hide of the wild zebra, which, for richness of color and boldness of marking, is not surpassed by that of any other species in the animal world. To this primitive decoration, the natives often add a touch of yellow ochre over various parts of the face, with a little dash of blue under the eyes.

 

The appearance of these native mashers is not yet quite complete. Around the head, about two inches above the eyebrows, is a small iron chain, which they make with links as fine as those of a lady's watch chain; and suspended from this, over the centre of the forehead, is a piece of white shell, about the size of a half crown piece.

 

Slung around the neck are similar fine chains of iron and brass, to which are attached several amulets of various native brands. These have been obtained from the powerful medicine man, at the cost of a sheep or a goat each, and are supposed to be powerful charms against the attacks of lions, rhinoceroses, leopards and snakes.

 

Encircling the waist are several chains, to one of which is attached an exquisitely carved snuff-box, inlaid with small cuttings of different kinds of wire in varied patterns, or a similar holder made of the outer shell of a palm cone.

 

Between the knee and the calf of the leg are several coils of thick brass wire, drawn tightly around the limb; and above the ankle are worn open, bowl-shaped bells of a shell pattern, with loose iron pellets enclosed, which give forth a loud, tinkling jingle at every movement of the limbs. These are greatly prized by the warriors in their bloodthirsty and predatory incursions, as they are considered effective in inspiring courage in the hearts of the young and inexperienced fighters, while the combined volume of noise, proceeding from the limbs of the oncoming warriors, is designed to implant the enemy with fear. The bells are tied on with thongs, so that they may be easily removed, when it is deemed desirable to make a quiet and secret approach on the enemy.

 

Men and women alike decorate their ears with chains and large ornaments. At an early age the lower lobe is pierced, and a piece of stick is thrust into the opening. This is soon replaced by larger sections, until a piece three or four inches in diameter can be received. As the lobe stretches, a still larger carved ornament is inserted, until the capacity of the opening is beyond credibility. The Kikuyu and Masai carry this custom to a still greater excess, the one piercing, at intervals, the outer rim of the ear, which they stud with most extravagant decoration, and the other weighing down the lobe of the ear with heavy, grooved stones, until the ornament inserted in it lies upon the breast.

 

The youths of both sexes of the Akamba race have all their front teeth filed to a sharp point, as slender as the prongs of a table fork. This ceremonial is carried out in a very rough and painful manner with a small native axe. They are under the impression that it improves their appearance, but alas! it plays havoc with their beautiful white teeth. They sit stoically under the ordeal, exemplifying the truth of the saying that pride feels no pain. The strictest inquiry and investigation have never elicited from them the origin of this custom, or any reasonable reason for its continuation. The men say that if their teeth were not filed the women would not marry them, while the ladies assert that they undergo the operation so that they may be the better able to bite their husbands.

 

The women are of Amazonian physique and of full and rounded form, being much stouter than the nimble and muscular warriors. No doubt their rotundity of figure is due, in a measure, to the healthy course of life in the open air, which they quietly pursue day by day, in fulfilling the numerous duties which fall to their maternal lot.

 

As a rule they wear the same class of ornaments as the men, but are, in addition, very partial to numerous coils of thick brass wire on their arms, with which they are invested by the smiths of the tribe. In the case of young girls, where the circumference of the limb has increased by growth since the rings of metal were placed in position, there may be seen large, fleshy skin bulging out, above and below the ornaments.

 

They also indulge in a form of cicatrisation, which, they believe, enhances to a considerable extent their attractiveness and beauty. Incisions of a well defined pattern are made over the chest and abdomen, and into these gashes is rubbed the juice of a shrub, which causes the wound to heal with an elevated surface, so that the ornamental design stands out clear and prominent on the surface of the body.

 

Among the fighting native tribes of the East Equatorial Regions, the female is the beast of burden, the hewer of wood and the carrier of water. This is a custom which is old with age, but should not be attributed only to the natural selfishness and dominant ideas of the male. During the past centuries, intertribal warfare has been continually raging between the different races, and the attacks have been usually started with an alarming and overwhelming suddenness. For this reason it has been necessary that the men should always be prepared to face the enemy, and defend their wives and children, herds and flocks.

 

These conditions of life have naturally led to the burden of the work being laid upon the shoulders of the women. After all, it sits very lightly upon them and, were it not for the heavy loads they are occasionally obliged to carry, of firewood from the forest, and grain and pumpkins from their little gardens in the distant bush, they do not seem to have too much to do.

 

The climate encourages laxity, for although among the hills the shade temperature is rarely over 80°, yet in the sun, on the exposed surface of the earth, a temperature of 160 to 165 Fahr. is often registered. These climatic conditions do not lend themselves to a very vigorous and energetic life.

The European must not judge these natives too harshly, because they do not love labor simply for its own sake. They are the product of their environment. Across the Equatorial Regions, lady Nature is overgenerous in her gift, and supplies their needs with a minimum outflow of human energy. They have only to cut off, with their rude, slender tomahawks, the branches of a few trees, set fire to the accumulated debris beneath, turn over the surface after the rains have fallen with a whittled stick, drop a few seeds here and there in mother earth; and those multiplying forces of nature, which spring from the beneficent Author of all life, return with a plentiful liberality, into the hands of these wild folk of the woods, several hundred-fold. The women of Ukamba, nevertheless, are fairly active and industrious. They build the grass huts of the tribe, bringing in large burdens of grass and slender rods for the purpose, do all the necessary cultivation in their little gardens in the jungle, with the small, indispensable, pointed stick, and plant, sow and weed their plots.

 

When the grain is ripe they harvest it ear by ear, plucking it with their hands, beat it out, winnow it, and store the produce under the cover of tiny grass huts, about three to four feet high. On a bowl-shaped stone they grind the grain, with a smaller round stone held in the hand; and, as they proceed with the work, they skillfully sweep off the flour on to a skin which has been stretched below.

 

They cut firewood in the forest, and carry it home in huge loads, sometimes with a child of five or six years sitting on top of the burden, and a baby at the breast. They draw water in gourd shells, milk the cattle in similar natural vessels, and cook the necessary food of the family.

 

The women also make a rude clay pot, which is the only manufactured utensil they possess. One of these is found in every habitation, balanced on three stones over a little fire, in the center of the hut. Lying about are one or two gourd shells, and some broken pieces of these on which they serve the boiled grain.

 

Around the conical grass dwellings there is erected, at some distance, a high thorn fence. Branches of different kinds of thorn trees, which have been cut in the bush, are inserted in a trench three feet deep, and closely bedded together. In some instances the fences are doubled and even trebled, to give greater security to the occupants. Inside these enclosures the cattle and goats are kept at night, for safety from lions and leopards and the raiding warriors of the surrounding tribes.

 

The natives do not remain long on one site, but move their home every year or two. If disease, death or any disaster come to pass, their migration from one part of the country to another will be hastened thereby. On these occasions, the women may be seen literally carrying the old hut on their back — the smoked grass and the dome-shaped framework of rods, which is to be placed, once again, on virgin soil and in the middle of new surroundings.

 

These huts of the natives are so isolated among jungle growth, and their few lonely plots which have been cultivated in the bush are so insignificant, compared with the surrounding forest and open glade, that an inexperienced traveler might pass through the country and think it uninhabited.

 

The gardens are never in close nearness to the huts, but are selected in the bush, two, three and, in some cases, even five miles distant from the habitation. The goats and cows would destroy any cultivated plots near the villages, and besides, it is necessary that the dwellings be hidden, so as to confuse the approach of the enemy. If they were built close to the gardens the sight of a broken piece of ground would be an indication to the plundering warriors of the neighboring tribe that the villages, and therefore the cattle, were nearby. As it is, however, the presence of cultivated ground gives no evidence whatever as to the direction in which the huts are to be found.

 

Polygamy is general among the petty chiefs of the different districts, and with a few of the elders who have a considerable number of cattle. Some of them have two or more wives, and there are found here and there a few who have accumulated a harem of thirty to forty women. It is necessary, however, for a man to be rich in flocks and herds to gain such a following. Three fourths of the natives have to be satisfied with a monogamous life.

 

If one man monopolizes more than his share of wives, others must suffer or wish for a spouse, for Providence has ordained that the sexes should be born in about equal numbers over the face of the earth. Therefore a number of the males are forced to put up with bachelorhood, which, in Ukamba, is an humiliating and shameful condition. So great is the disgrace attached to celibacy, that an unmarried man will lie about his lonely condition, and declare that he is the proud possessor of a wife and children.

 

Throughout Ukamba land, over the entire country, there is not to be found an unmarried girl of mature age. They are usually engaged or purchased when about ten to twelve years old. The ‘money’ or means of payment is sheep, goats and cattle. About five to ten of the humped zebu cows, or an equivalent in flocks, is the usual price paid for a wife. The more solid and healthy the maid, the higher price she commands. Very often the mercenary father, irrespective of the girl's own choice, will give his daughter to the man who is prepared to pay the largest number of cattle, though the purchaser may already be the owner of several other wives.

 

If the wife is found to be barren, she is returned to her father, and the cattle which were paid for her are given back. Should the parents have an equal number of sons and daughters, the cattle they receive for their girls are paid out in buying wives for the boys. If the father of a young man has no cattle whereby to purchase a wife for his son, the young warrior joins those of his comrades who are in a similar condition, in a raid upon the neighboring tribe, with the intent of either capturing the maidens of another race, or stealing cattle with which they may get wives among their own clan.

 

If a man has two or more wives he builds a separate hut for each, and the children, during the period of childhood, are reared apart. There is very little jealousy among the women as a rule, and they are quite friendly with each other, accepting their position with patient indifference.

 

They are blessed with remarkably good health, due no doubt to the beneficial effects of manual labor, which is conducted under the most wholesome conditions, with the pure air and bright sunlight bathing their undraped bodies. From the dawn of morning until the sun sinks low in the heavens, they are rarely ever in their huts. And so they are free from many of the aggravated sufferings which follow in the train of an slothful and luxurious civilization.

 

This is particularly seen the matter of parturition. A woman will give birth to her child on the track in the bush, and, having used a ligature of plant fiber drawn from the nearby surroundings, will cut the umbilical cord with her teeth, and bring home her newly-born baby without any help. This is not at all an uncommon event, but is quite general among the women of the Akamba tribe: in fact to many of the mothers of several children, childbirth has never occurred in the hut.

 

The babies are usually carried in a skin on the back. A piece of cow or buffalo hide, about twenty inches long and sixteen wide, is prepared; and to each of the two bottom corners is fastened a strong thong, while to the two top corners is sewn a smooth strip of skin, like the strap of a school satchel. This flat piece of dressed skin is thrown over the back of the mother, and the two lower thongs are tied tightly around the waist. The upper strap is borne on the front of the forehead, leaving a space sufficient to allow of the child being dropped in between the hide and the bare back of its mother, while the feet of the little one protrude on either side, and enable it to rest in a sitting posture, with its back supported by the rigid piece of ox skin.

 

Thus placed, the child accompanies the mother on her way to the distant gardens, and usually remains on her back while she is engaged in cultivating, weeding and harvesting tasks. When she wishes to feed the baby, she takes the strap off her forehead and whirls round the skin with the baby to the front, throwing the head strap over the back of her neck. At times, when the child is likely to sleep, she will lay down the little naked body on the ground and cover it with a piece of skin, and proceed with her work until it awakes, or hunger induces it to draw the mother's attention to its needs.

 

Rarely do these babies cry, so satisfied are they with their surroundings, and so healthy and agreeable are their conditions. The natives seek children very much, and there is great rejoicing over their birth. The natives of Africa, unlike many of the inhabitants of the East, welcome with supreme gladness the birth of females, for these speak wealth to the parents.

 

The babies never take the name of either father or mother, but each child has its own distinctive title. If it is desired to discriminate a person particularly, they adopt the old Hebrew method of describing a man as the son of his father, mentioning the names of both individuals. Just as we read in Moses of the old chiefs, Samlah of Masrekah and Central Africa to-day, we hear of Kiluluti wa Machako and Mwato wa Nzau.

 

When there are no important coincidences at the time of birth, the child may get the name of some animal or reptile, such as Nzai, The Zebra; Mbiti, The Hyena; Nzoka, The Snake; Munyambo, The Lion. As a rule, however, children are given names according to some striking circumstance closely associated with their arrival. Muzyemi signifies The hunter — a child born while his father was engaged in the chase; Njiani, On the track — a name conveying the fact that the child was born on the path through the bush; Monda, A garden — born while the mother was cultivating a remote plot in the jungle; Mituki, The quick-coming one; Mumo, The dilatory or difficult one; Ntheketha, The passage maker, signifying premature and unexpected birth; Maltha, The enemy — coming to light while the marauder was at the gate; Muthama, while flitting or moving the hut; Mutili — born during a lunar eclipse, literally, The boy who cut a slice off the moon.

 

The women follow the ancient Jewish practice of not weaning the children until three to five years of age. A little boy, after playing about with his fellows, will often run up to his mother and, grabbing her breast, will satisfy his thirst at nature's fountain. These tiny little folk are greatly fond of their mother, with whom they spend most of their time, trotting along at her heels while she is drawing water, cutting firewood, or working in the garden plots. In these occupations she gets ready and willing help from her daughters, of even very tender years. These little maidens may be seen trudging along, with a fair-sized load on their back, accompanying their heavily-laden mother.

 

The children of these fierce naked natives are sweet, tender and loving little dots. In looking upon them, I have often thought of the words of Jesus, "Of such is the kingdom of God," and "Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven." The young folk of the tribe are particularly bright, and, up to the age of eight or nine years, are much more sharp and intelligent than the average European child.

 

Shortly after this period, there comes an abrupt and definite break in their mental development. They are then initiated into all the evils of the savage lifestyle, and soon there is to be found quite a different expression on their face, which to the discerning mind of the long experienced guest among them, betrays the unnameable, hidden life of these wild children of the forest.

 

The rite of circumcision is performed on boys about the age of ten. They are then gathered together in camps in the bush, where they remain for a period guarded by the warriors, until they have sufficiently healed to return to their villages. These young fellows, armed with bows and arrows, assist the elder ones in pasturing the flocks and herds, and defending them against the attacks of leopards and other carnivores. In this way they soon become expert marksmen, and are prepared for the warrior and hunting life of mature manhood, and fitted to fill the places of those who have fallen before the foe, or left the fighting ranks due to old age.

 

For ages the Akamba warriors have been engaged in predatory attacks against their neighbors the Masai and Kikuyu, when the capturing of women and cattle has been their chief plan, in the accomplishment of which they have ever been ready to sacrifice their lives. Due to this unending intertribal fighting, there exists between the different races deadly and unquenchable hatred, so that the sight of men of an adjoining tribe rouse such bad feelings of hateful bitterness that they rush at one another to the death, or run away from each other as hardened enemies.

 

The Kikuyu tribe, being much weaker, though more treacherous and vindictive than the Akamba, are unable to leave the sheltered strongholds of their forest which lend to them such security, and revenge the plundering raid.

 

The Masai, however, whose habitation is the open plains, are as bold and brave as the Akamba, and never fail to strike back and seek to recover the stolen goods, which the bowmen have taken by trick or open conquest. In these deadly conflicts, the Masai ever aim at showing a united front, but, inasmuch as they carry heavy shields and spears, they are not as swift and agile as the Akamba, who, fleet as the wind, play with them in detached companies to their clear advantage. While a small body of archers make a frontal attack on the oncoming bearers of spear and shield, another band of bowmen, getting around to the rear, deliver their showers of poisoned darts upon the exposed and vulnerable backsides of the enemy, and thus at times drive them in hurried escape from the field.

 

When these men of the bow and quiver are tired of fighting, they turn their attention to the chase, in which they have no peers among the East Equatorial tribes. They are infinitely more at home in the wilds of the forest than by the fire-stones of their own hearth, in the grass huts among the hills. So adapted and adaptable are they to their surroundings, that they seem to be the very complement of the wild jungle itself. How skillfully they thread their way through its labyrinths; how highly sensitive is their ear to the faintest sound — the breaking of a twig, or the crackling of a dry leaf; how quickly their keen eye discovers even a blade of grass, which has been turned by the hoof of the sleek-skinned buck or capering gnu; and, if a startled zebra or hartebeest emerges from its shaded seclusion, and comes within their vision, how skillfully the bow is drawn, and with what precision and power the silent and fatal shaft strikes the target.

 

The Akamba, however, do not spend much of their energy in seeking and following food. Often they lie secretly hidden at the watering places, covering their flat body up to the shoulders with dirt, to lessen the release of human odor; and when the thirsty animal comes to drink, they deliver their well directed arrow, and in a few minutes the poison has paralyzed the brain, and the animal whirls round and falls to earth.

 

The cunning hunter then takes from his quiver a couple of firesticks, and soon there is the crackling of burning wood, and a fire is at once brightly blazing, on which he will immediately roast a portion of the game. These implements for producing fire consist of two insignificant pieces of wood. One is a flat, oblong section, a few inches in length, in which there is cut a small hole. The other is a slender rod, which fits loosely into that hole, and in which it is twirled with such speed between the open palms of the operator, that, in the course of a minute, the tinder of dried grass or other similar material, which has been placed around the base of the spinning rod, bursts into flame.

 

While the full-grown fighting men are not engaged in raiding or hunting, a few of the most experienced and elderly of them may be seen secretly making their way to the forest, with a large clay pot, to make the deadly poison into which they dip their arrows. The origin of this deadly mixture has been so hidden by these wily woodsmen, that its source has been unknown to the surrounding tribes. Having reached a private spot in the jungle, they cut down a large spreading tree, named kivai, and strip from it the bark, which they chop into small pieces and boil down, until the remainder is of the consistency of wax.

 

A number of the warriors may also be found sitting in the "thomi" or rude bower, which is constructed outside the border of every village. This is simply a canopy of brushwood, resting on a few forest saplings, and modifying the burning rays of the equatorial sun. Underneath its shade they create their neat ox-hide quivers, style their long iron blades, and repair and sharpen their keen, barbed arrows. After smearing the latter with their fatal and destructive poison, they bind the point of each in a strip of fine, prepared goatskin, so that the moisture of the poison may be retained and its full death-dealing properties preserved.

 

At frequent intervals the natives engage their idle hours with dances, and sometimes several days are set apart for a great dancing festival. These assemblies congregate at an appointed open space in the forest, where the noisy party is carried far into the night. When the disc of the moon is not fully illuminated, they make huge blazing fires to keep off lions and leopards. The greater part of the wooing is accomplished at these carousals, and there life-long attachments are often formed.

 

The ladies have the one and only right of choosing their partners. The gaudily decorated and freshly painted warriors stand in long lines, nervously waiting the ordeal of selection, while opposite to them are the assembled maidens. Each girl, in turn, calmly scrutinizes the array of decorated and oily bachelors; and when she beckons her chosen one, he leaves the ranks with a smile, broad enough to transform his entire face. To the continual, monotonous melody of a number of drums, the natives go through their weird motions, contracting the muscles of their body, and causing their flesh to shake and quiver as if it had ceased to stick to the bones.

 

When a young man has made up his mind regarding the maiden who is to be his future wife, he approaches her father with presents of wild honey, one or two sheep for roasting purposes, and several gourd shells filled with "oke," the fermented juice of the sugar cane. The men of the district in which the potential bride resides are invited together to the open-air feast. The suitor is accompanied by a talkative friend, who may be able to bring forward, in a forcible manner, the young warrior's commendable traits of character. The most worthy qualification usually presented by the friendly supporter on these occasions, is the fact that the young man who seeks her hand is an "ngumbau," which means that he has been fearless and daring in the raiding incursions of the tribe, and has encountered the enemy with courage and bravery.

 

To the mercenary fathers of Ukamba, however, the major concern is the number of cattle he is prepared to pay for his future wife. After much drinking of oke, an agreement is eventually made; but, in most cases, the young man is not able to hand over the required number of cattle, and so he is obliged to resort to the installment system, paying, at the moment, perhaps two or three cows and twenty to forty goats. He will not, however, be able to claim the maiden, until the full number of cattle has been placed in her father's possession.

 

When that necessary beginning has been complied with, the day of marriage is then chosen. The man has already got his mother and her female friends to build a grass hut for his chosen one. On the marriage day, the bridegroom takes with him a large following of his comrades, and goes off to bring home his wife. The bride is supposed to hide herself on that eventful morning, and this she takes care to do in a place where she may be easily found. The party having arrived at her father's hut, finds that she is nowhere to be seen. A diligent search for the missing one is immediately begun, and the friends of the bridegroom pursue their search, until their efforts are crowned with success. They then carry her off from her hiding place, while she, in an affected manner, makes an attempt at resistance. This, however, is useless and, at once, she utters a few cries of assumed lamentation and sheds some crocodile tears, as she is triumphantly taken away from the limits of her village towards her new home in the jungle.

 

In Central Africa the medicine man, the rain doctor, and others of that breed have had power a long time. For centuries they have dominated the tribes. The chiefs have nominally ruled, but, in many cases, the charlatanic brotherhood have virtually taken the seat of power. No warlike exploit, nor raid for women, nor hunting expedition can be effectively planned, and conducted to a successful result, without their possible help. Their advice must be sought, and their occult powers requested and paid for, under every conceivable circumstance of importance, while the ruling chief himself must promote these professional deceivers.

 

The medicine man has only one redeeming quality: he never asks his patients to swallow his potions. These are for external use only. His simple request is that his client should wear his decoctions, suspended by a chain thrown around the neck. Discarded gazelle and goat horns of tiny size are very numerous in the wilds of Africa, and into these the medicine man rams his compounds, and carefully seals them with gum or beeswax. A small hole is made in the top of the horn, through which the recipient may pass his slender iron chain. There are many kinds of these amulets, but they are all guaranteed to bring marvelous results, in preventing a silent and unexpected approach of the enemy, removing disease, and enabling the wearer to make a good escape from lions, leopards, rhinoceroses and snakes. The price of each is usually one to three goats.

 

However clever the medicine man may be in banishing malignant problems, throwing dust in the eyes of the approaching enemy, and warding off the attacks of wild beasts, he is entirely thrown into the shade by the pompous pretensions of the rain doctors.

 

The manner in which this fraternity ‘control’ the weather is amazing beyond belief. The heart of Africa is their happy hunting ground, and especially those parts of the Equatorial Regions where the rainfall is variable or uncertain, and where drought is persistent and long-drawn-out. In the Ukamba country there are two dry seasons every year, one of which continues for a period of over five months without a drop of rain. The natives have no means of storing any quantity of grain; and the little they do lay past is visited by numerous insects and bush vermin, which join freely with them in eating the produce. For this reason when the rainy season is due there is not much grain left; and, whatever remainder there may be, is rendered hollow and non-nutritious by a species of small boring beetle, which eats out the kernel of the grain.

 

At this period, therefore, the natives are anxiously looking for the expected rain. If it fails to come at the usual time, which they correctly mark by the clear path of the sun, then there is a constant demand for the intervention of the supernatural powers of the rain doctor. On the Equatorial Belt, rains are rarely diffused over a large area at the same time, but generally fall in heavy local downpours. This is particularly so at the beginning of the wet season. In a certain place there may be a very small torrential rain, and a mile or two away the ground absolutely dry. The natives of each section of the country, therefore, are anxious that they may have their full share, and there is as a result a regular rush to the rain doctor, so that he may guide the course of the precious fluid in their particular direction. Each applicant must bring at least one sheep or goat.

 

Marvelous to tell, the old gentleman generally gives satisfaction to all his clients. The 'doctor' is careful to keep his weather eye open at this important season of the year, and is quick to discern favorable conditions. If he sees a cloud no bigger than a man's hand, denoting a collection of suspended moisture, he is out in full feathered decoration, with his drum and iron bells, to direct the course of the accumulated watery particles. As the cloud increases in size and density, he puts more energy and force into the beating of the drum. When the drops fall and the rain comes down in torrents, he skips about with great animation in his drenched feathers, and, after working himself up into an almost hysterical condition, he struts back to his hut with a victorious expression, as much as to say, 'That's the way to do it!'

 

The esculapian and rain-producing powers usually descend from father to son; but occasionally some highly inflated, bombastic fellow will rise up, and, by the sheer force of his magnetic character, make his way into the profession, and draw to himself the trust and support of the surrounding district.

 

Although the Akamba have only a meager knowledge of medicine, yet they are very skilful in surgical and anatomical operations, and display a surprisingly close understanding with the structure of the human body. Their method of treating bone fractures is practical, though rude. Accidents are exceedingly rare, but if a man happens to fall from a tree and break his leg, they set the bone with splints derived from the bark of a forest tree, which they secure in position with strips of fiber. An sloping hole is then dug in the ground, and the limb of the injured man is placed in the hollow, while he remains in a sitting posture on the surface. The sandy loam is then filled in, and a fire kindled over the returned earth to regulate the temperature of the soil. There he remains, guarded by his companions from wild animals, until the bone is healed, which, in a healthy native, is done in a remarkably short period of time.

 

The natives are extremely healthy and suffer from very few diseases. One never sees a feeble or deformed figure. Rheumatism is unknown, although men lie out on the bare ground for weeks at a time. Nervous afflictions are unheard of among these tribes, and there is no mental illness within their borders, while self-murder is to them inconceivable. The scourge of pulmonary consumption has not entered their sphere, and the rustic life, in the sunshine of a beneficent Creator, probably accounts for their immunity from this disease.

 

They are entirely free from anxious care and, quite unknown to themselves, they live in the spirit of the words of our blessed Lord and Savior, "Take no thought for tomorrow." A large part of the people attain an advanced age in perfect salubrity and many are extremely active and lively at an age of perhaps eighty years. None of the natives have any idea of their own age, and do not reckon backwards more than a few rainy seasons. An old man of ninety, if asked concerning the number of his years, may hold out his two closed hands, signifying that he is ten. My husband, in his itinerating work, has travelled some hundreds of miles, at the rate of twenty-five miles in the day, with men whom he had every reason to believe were octogenarians. Many of them die from simple senile decay.

 

The natives do not bury their dead, but throw them out in the bush, a few hundred yards away from their huts, to be eaten by the hyenas and other carnivorous scavengers which prowl about in the jungle.

 

There seems to be a very general impression among European circles that the barbarous tribes of Central Africa have no idea of God, and that it is the business of the Missionary to go out and inform them of His existence. There could be no greater erroneous belief than this. The many hundreds of different races of Africa, like the inhabitants of every other part of the globe, believe in a Supreme Being. No missionary has ever yet discovered a race or tribe, even in the heart of Africa, who were destitute of a knowledge of God. This knowledge is innate to humanity, and as universal as mankind. Whether men bow down before an idol, adore a fetish, venerate a charm, or do reverence to the spirits of their ancestors; whether they delight in the shedding of human blood, or in the eating of human flesh, they all recognize a Lord God Almighty, the benign and omnipotent Creator, and are all in some way anxious for reconciliation with Him.

 

In our travels in East Equatorial Africa we have met with twenty-eight different tribes, speaking different languages; and with more than a dozen of these races we have lived in close personal relationship for lengthened periods, and every one of them believe in an Almighty God, in a Devil, and in a future state.

 

More than one European writer, who has come into casual touch with various African tribes, and who is anxious, no doubt, to represent their ideas quite faithfully, has asserted that the natives adore thunder and lightning as God. To those, however, who have lived with the natives and studied their language, it is perfectly clear that the assertion is contrary to fact. If the native hears the loud crash of thunder overhead, as if the heavens were being rent asunder, and sees the stroke of forked lightning across the ethereal vault, he may put his hand upon his mouth and exclaim "N'gai! N'gai!" (God! God!) By this exclamation, however, he does not convey the idea that the thunder or the lightning is the Supreme Being, but that the Almighty God is the author of the phenomenon which has been brought so vividly before him.

 

The Right Honorable Lord Avebury in his book recently issued from the press and entitled "Marriage, Totemism and Religion," states that it is a frequent thing to find a native tribe which has no name for a Supreme Being. I am certain that his statement is contrary to fact, and challenge him to give proof of any race of men in existence who are without a name for Almighty God, the Creator of the universe. Resting on this false foundation, he unfolds his erroneous theory that religion is part of the development of the human race.

 

A gentleman who travelled for a short time in tropical Africa published a small booklet, in which the Akamba were described as a people who had no idea of a God, a soul or a future state. His inference was that Europeans acknowledged the existence of a God because they had been taught to do so, but that these natives had received no such tuition, and hence were without such belief.

 

No more groundless representation of the Akamba race could possibly be made. If the gentleman had only lived with these fierce woodsmen for a period and learned their language, he could not have written thus. The Akamba people believe in a Supreme Being more truly than many of the hundreds of thousands of merely nominal Christians and formal church-goers, who daily walk the streets of the metropolis of ‘Christian’ England. They speak of Him as freely and as naturally as a child would talk of its mother.

 

They are not even satisfied with the Cain-style offerings of the fruit of the ground, which most African tribes present to the Creator, but devote to Him an Abel-like offering of the fatlings of the flock. Once every year these warriors sacrifice sheep to God, underneath the canopy of some large umbrageous trees in the jungle. There the elders meet and spill the blood of their offerings before the face of the Almighty. A certain part of the sacrifice is laid at the base of a tree, as "Kilungu kya N'gai" (God's portion). The residue is roasted on the fire which they have kindled, and the old men partake of their share of the sacrificial offering in respectful silence, in the hope that they may thereby gain reconciliation with the Great Being.

 

So definite are the ideas of the Akamba regarding the soul of man, that they speak of their body as the tabernacle or house in which they live, and believe that after the body dies, the kyuu (soul) returns to the God who gave it. So little importance do they attach to the body' — the shell they occupy — that, at death, it is thrown out to the wild beasts, as soon as the departing spirit has left the tabernacle of clay. To God they ascribe the creation of the universe, their own existence, and all the blessings which come to them in rain and sunshine and the produce which the earth brings forth. To the Devil, whom they recognize as the arch-enemy of mankind, they attribute every evil, including sickness, disease and death. Therefore, when severe illness comes upon any member of the tribe they have a devil-dance to appease him. In this ceremony the natives glide about in absolute silence, assuming the most hideous forms possible. By contortion of the visage and writhing and twisting motions of the body, they try to approximate the form of the Evil One, according to their own conception of his personality, so that he may be satisfied with their representation of him and remove the disease. So utterly do they transform their appearance in these dances, that familiar faces are quite unrecognizable.

 

Not only do these natives acknowledge God, but the law which was given by God to Moses is written in their hearts, with the one possible exception of the fourth commandment, "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy." We have never been able to discover the faintest trace of an idea concerning this law, in the mind of a single individual of any tribe, nor any tradition regarding it.

 

Although they admit that it is wrong to steal and murder, yet they have been plundering and shedding human blood as long as they have been able to hold a spear or control a bow, just as many nominal Christians in civilized lands admit the moral law to be binding upon them, and yet ignore its precepts every day of their life.

 

This is only to be expected, for Scripture asserts that, "the mind of the flesh is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be, and they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Both alike require the dynamics of the regenerating Gospel of the grace of God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to change the heart and make the man a new creature in Christ Jesus.


CHAPTER 18
DIFFICULTIES OF PIONEERING MISSIONARY WORK IN THE INTERIOR.

 

With the solid foundation of belief in God and sacrificial offerings yearly made to him, it might be considered that the Gospel would have a ready entrance into the hearts of the people, but we did not find this to be so. Outside the immediate sphere of our labors, there was still very great resistance to the Message, while within the district in which our station was located, although there was a small and, at times, a respectful hearing given to the Word of life, yet there seemed very little response in the stubborn hearts of these native inhabitants.

 

In conjunction with his itinerating work, my husband took to teaching the younger boys of the tribe and, having on hand a large quantity of ink and Indian calico, he began printing letters and syllables, representing the various sounds of the Kikamba language. With these sheets hanging up in the place of meeting or on the verandah of the dwelling-house, he began to teach as many young people as he could persuade to attend, to read the signs of their own language. He found them very sharp and intelligent, and able to master fully these calico sheets in a short time. He then printed short sentences and texts of Scripture, which the boys were able to read fluently in a few months.

 

From many points of view this manner of work was undesirable, for it turned out that the continued attendance of the boys could only be secured by payment in beads and wire. My husband's views concerning the manner in which Missionary work ought to be conducted, prevented him adopting or countenancing such a principle of bribery. He would not even give a prize to the most successful boys, for fear that his motives should be misconstrued by the people nearby.

 

However, he hired all available boys, at a regular salary, for work on the station. These he engaged in clearing some ground for a garden, cultivating it, and keeping in good order the grounds of the station and the paths leading to it. Two hours' break were taken from the working hours each day, and given to teaching, and instilling into their minds the primary truths of the Gospel.

 

These wild youths came to us, not for the love of the work — that was woman's lot' — nor yet because they wished to make out the mysteries of the formation of their own language, for in that they could see no benefit, while it was certain that they had no interest in hearing any message which would clash with the ideals of life into which they had been born. It was the bright colored beads of varied hues, and the glistening wire of copper or brass which attracted them to us.

 

Rarely did any of them remain with us more than a week, but, though short their stay, we were as a result able under the providence of God to get into such close personal contact with them, that a sincere and strong affection was formed between them and my husband, which bore much fruit in after years. In this manner many hundreds of boys were under our control for a short period, and numbers of them returned repeatedly to seek work and renew their friendship with us, and these became expert in manual labor, and were able to read the signs which expressed the sounds of their own language; but only of a few could it be said that there was certain evidence of their being truly saved in the days of their youth.

 

In the payment of these lads large quantities of barter goods were used, and although the work was expensive, yet it was necessary, for after the rains the growth was so great, that, without cultivation, the garden and the tracks leading from the native beaten paths to our station would have been quite overgrown with bush vegetation. Often we had as many as fifty to sixty of these young natives engaged for work at a time; but unless there was someone to supervise their labor, they spent most of the day rolling their naked bodies in the dust. It was precious little work they did, nevertheless the joy and privilege of having them with us day by day was very great, though we realized that this pleasure could not last very long; for one fact then stared us in the face, that the supplies of expensive barter goods were again rapidly decreasing, and there seemed little hope of getting a fresh supply from the Coast.

 

The busy though monotonous daily routine of our life was broken by the unexpected advent of Count and Countess Schiebler, who had come from Italy and braved the dangers of the march into the inhospitable wilds on a lion-hunting expedition. Because our district was in the heart of the lion and game country, they made their way to our station. The Countess was, therefore, the second European lady who entered the native regions of the interior. At our humble board in the jungle we had the pleasure of entertaining them, and directing their movements to the haunts of lions and big game, with which my husband was quite familiar, as he often met them in numbers on his itinerations, and knew their habitats. Just before the Schieblers arrived he had seen a beautiful black-maned lion, whose skin measured eleven feet six from nose to tail.

 

The Count was successful in his exploits in which he was helped very considerably by the Countess, who was an accurate shot, and could handle a large-bore rhinoceros rifle — a small cannon in its way — as readily as a 577 express or a light Mannlicher. At times their lives were much in danger, but eventually they were enabled to make their way to the Coast in safety. There was no way of knowing in those days of the regrettable future when the “hunt” and introduction of the gun into central Africa would one day decimate the population of certain species of animals. The missionary as a rule, did not kill for sport.

 

A short time afterwards we had the joy of welcoming to our district Bishop Tucker, with his caravan of five hundred men. He was escorting the first party of lady Missionaries to the Uganda Mission. The old route of Henry M. Stanley from Zanzibar to Lake Victoria Nyanza, which for years had been followed by Missionary caravans, lay along the Usagara, Ugogo and Unyamwezi countries to the Lake; and sometimes six months were occupied in traveling that southerly, roundabout, but comparatively safe route, where the natives never displayed much hostility. The Bishop was now trying this newly-opened and much shorter course along the equatorial line, where his brave and noble predecessor Hannington, seeking to open the way, died at the hands of the natives.

 

The caravan pathway of the Bishop's party was somewhat distant from our station, but he and his worthy lieutenant Dr. Baxter, who was well experienced in African travel, made their way to our station and remained with us for a day. We were very glad to see the Bishop, and rejoiced to meet with our old friend and companion in missionary work, Doctor Baxter, with whom we had labored in Usagara and Ugogo.

 

Bishop Tucker and his party eventually proceeded on their way to the Athi river, where my husband had promised to meet them with a few fruit-bearing plants, for the garden which the ladies were to establish in Uganda. When my husband reached the Athi river, he found that they had very little food for the five hundred porters of their caravan; and Dr. Baxter suggested that he and my husband should go out and hunt for some meat. They eventually shot four large brindled gnus, and these, with one rhinoceros, formed a temporary supply for the large following.

 

When my husband returned to the Mission Station, he told me an interesting story of what had happened the evening of the day on which this meat was secured for the Bishop's porters. He and the doctor left the camp about four o'clock in the afternoon, instructing the headmen to send after them, in a given direction, thirty or forty carriers for the meat, after the camp was put in order for the night. Antelopes seemed more rare than usual that day, and the two hunters walked hither and thither for a very long distance over the plains without sighting anything for the pot.

 

After a length of time, a single cock ostrich came in view, with its beautiful black and white plumes waving in the zephyr breeze of the evening, as it moved slowly along while feeding. The bird would not suffice for the supper of more than a couple of dozen porters, and what would that be among half a thousand hungry men. Nevertheless, lured by the stately ostrich, the only living object within view, they followed it for a lengthened period on its winding track, scarce realizing their distance from the Athi camp. At last, having got within shooting range of the bird, the doctor fired, but only to raise the dust between its feet, when, quicker than the fastest equine sprinter, it scoured the face of the plateau and disappeared from sight.

 

The sun was just then sinking in the western sky, and for the safety of the hunters it was necessary to make a fast return to camp, before the darkness of a moonless night set in. No sooner, however, had they resolved to retrace their steps than several long-bearded gnus appeared on the horizon scampering towards them. Being experienced men of the wilds, they immediately dropped flat on their face, to give the gnus an opportunity of approaching as near as possible, before the smell of the oncoming wildebeests would discover their presence.

 

Unfortunately the wind was in the antelopes' favor, and, catching the smell of the hunters, they came abruptly to a halt at about three hundred yards. The sun had gone down and it was fairly dark. The two riflemen saw that quick action was essential if meat was to be obtained for the camp, and, having agreed among themselves to fire immediately and simultaneously at different sides of the quarry, they stood up and pulled their trigger twice. The unscathed gnus with a bounding rush instantly fled, leaving four of their number lying on the ground for the supplies of the caravan.

 

Darkness had already set in, and the camp was far-away, neither of them really knew how far, so tortuous had been their course. Throughout the entire length of their winding track, they had seen no sign of any group of carriers following in their rear. Lions were very numerous in the district, and were already prowling about on the plain in numbers. In that area as many as a dozen had been seen together.

 

The two hunters started off to reach the camp, but it was at once discovered that each was intent on going on in different directions. The one said the camp was away to the left, while the other asserted that it certainly lay to the right. My husband told the doctor that the route he was taking would lead in an almost opposite direction to that of the camp, while the doctor persisted that his path was right. My husband again assured him of his mistake, telling him that to proceed in that course would mean certain death, and further brought before his notice the recent loss of the lives of two Europeans, who were under a misconception regarding their latitude, and had wandered away from their camp in error.

 

The doctor then suggested them both going some distance in his direction, with the hope that they might soon discover themselves in familiar surroundings. My husband, being the younger man, did not care to decline doing so, but, for the sake of the doctor's life and his own and the wife and family of each, he decidedly refused to go a single yard on the suggested course, saying that he would prefer to remain on that spot till the morning, unless the doctor would go with him on the way which he believed would lead towards the camp.

 

My husband tried to light fire the grass, as a guiding light to guide those carriers who might be searching for them, and to scare off lions and other carnivores; but the growth of the grass being only a few inches high, and already wet with dew, it was impossible to raise a conflagration. The doctor then fired a few of his remaining cartridges to attract the attention of any search party which might be in the vicinity; but to the repeated discharge of firearms there was no response, save the far-off sounds of prowling carnivores.

 

The doctor suggested kneeling down and asking God about the matter. Both fell upon the ground, and each one sought the guidance and blessing of the omnipresent God, who ever answers the cry of those who trust in Him. Rising from their knees, both were prepared to concede somewhat to one another's opinion, and proceed for a short time in a direction which lay half way between the two courses suggested, where they were to wait and see what guidance the Lord might be pleased to give them. Arm in arm they trudged in the dense darkness along the middle way, up rising ground, and, on reaching the top of a hill, they saw away on the horizon to the right the steady glow of the camp fires, on the dark vault which overhung the plain. God had fully answered their prayers.

 

Scanning the darkness more carefully, they caught sight of two small moving lights, also on their right hand, proceeding forward in a direction that would have led beyond them and missed them by a mile. These two lanterns belonged to the band of porters from the camp, who were patiently plodding their way, seeking to discover the whereabouts of the hunters.

 

One or two shots from my husband's rifle brought the party in the direction of the fallen game. While the carcasses were being cut up by the dim light of the lanterns, the carnivores were so numerous that it was difficult to keep them away, but eventually the entire party arrived safely in camp.

 

The following morning my husband said goodbye to the Bishop and his large following of Missionaries, with whom it was a privilege to meet. One of that party, Martin J. Hall, was a very spiritually minded man, and one who had been much used of God in the salvation of many children, in connection with the "Children's Special Service Mission" in the homeland. He was motivated by one purpose and object, and that was the saving of precious souls. He expressed a special desire to join us in our work among the wild Akamba, and afterwards wrote to my husband of his settled idea concerning this matter. When, however, we were expecting a letter giving the probable date of his arrival, we heard the sad news of his death by drowning in Lake Victoria Nyanza.

 

In the biography of his life, entitled, "In Full and Glad Surrender," by his sister, his diary is published; and in it he makes reference to his journey up country and his camping in our district in the following terms: — "...The Bishop and Doctor Baxter started at 8 a.m. to visit Mr. Stuart Watt, formerly a C.M.S. Missionary at Mpwapwa, but now living here with his wife and children as an independent Missionary. It was so refreshing to see these sweet healthy little English faces in this far off land. These little people came up here with their parents about two years ago in the rainy season, and though wet from rain day after day seemed none the worse for it, so that the achievement of our party of ladies is nothing so very startling after all. Mr. Watt lives with his wife and children in a remote place in the hills called N'gelani. We left Machakos after quite a touching goodbye to the dear little Watt children. In spite of their wild surroundings they have been beautifully brought up and have most charming manners and look the picture of health. "It is solemn and sad to march day after day through these vast, thickly populated districts and to know that for the Wakamba— a shepherd people of about one million — there are only two Missionaries, whilst for the Kikuyu, a huge tribe, there is not a solitary Christian teacher..."

 

To us it was a matter for thankfulness to God that the Bishop and his first party of ladies arrived safely on the shores of the Lake, for, at a time when we thought they had got through the most dangerous part of the journey, we heard the news that a small party of warriors had attacked a well-armed body of about thirty C.M.S. mail runners, not far from the Bishop's encampment, and in a few minutes had slaughtered twenty of their number.

 

It was with great joy, in the following year, we welcomed to Ukamba some Missionaries from the United States, who settled down on the south-eastern boundary of the country. The leader of the band was Mr. Peter Scott. Unfortunately the district in which he built his station was rather unhealthy and the natives thinly scattered. We gave to Mr. Scott a hearty invitation to come further inland near to our district, where the population was more dense and the climate less difficult. The result was that he commenced work within a day's march of our Mission Station. His constitution had been already much weakened, and very soon he and another Missionary, named Allen, were struck with fever and passed away to their reward; and, sad to say, the Mission ultimately ceased.

 

Since my husband had already reduced the language of the Akamba to writing, the way was fully opened for the Messengers of the Gospel, and we deeply felt the loss sustained in the removal of these two Missionaries, who were just beginning to know how to express their ideas in the Kikamba tongue. We fervently appealed to Mr. C. Hurlburt, who was on the home council of their Mission, to take up the work in Africa which had been left by those who had died on the field. The way did not then seem open to him, but some years afterwards he responded to the call, and we were rejoiced to see the Mission restarted.

 

Feeling deeply the urgent needs of the vast unoccupied country around us, we were afterward led to ask Bishop Peel, of the Church Missionary Society, at Mombasa, about the great desirability of opening a C.M.S. Mission station in the Ukamba country.

 

We had the privilege of welcoming him on a visit to our station, and after a long period had gone, during which there seemed some difficulty about securing a proper site, we heard the glad news that the Bishop was determined to take up work among the Akamba people. A dwelling house was brought out from England and erected among the hills of the border land, and two Missionaries worked there for some years, but alas! the station was eventually abandoned. Our hearts were grieved at the lack of laborers in fields ripened for the sickle. In that wide expanse of lost humanity we were then left without any brother Missionaries, save Johnston and Evans from America, who clung to their post with admirable courage. During my husband's heavy work about the station, and while preaching in low-lying districts, he was often struck by severe fevers, which at times made him very sick, but on recovering he carried on as usual with his work until an attack of hematuria, commonly known as blackwater fever, laid him at the very verge of death. When we first went out to East Equatorial Africa in 1885, this malignant disease was then unheard of and unknown. It has now become quite common, and many Missionaries have fallen victims to its swift and deadly stroke. The strong, active and robust seem to be its most likely victims, and these it brings within the jaws of death in the space of a few hours. It is now the most fatal sickness of tropical Africa, and it is considered that only about one person out of every ten recover. Its cause and origin is still covered in mystery. A man may be in perfect health in the morning and dead in the afternoon. The red corpuscles of the blood get immediately broken up and destroyed.

 

On the day that my husband was stricken with hematuric fever, he was in his usual health in the early part of the day, and rose at his ordinary hour just when dawn was breaking. He had only come home the day before from a hundred mile journey. A short time after rising he became quite ill, and by midday he was in a outburst of fever, so violent that he attempted to throw himself out of the bed. It seemed impossible for him to breathe. The blood had undergone a great and immediate change, and already he was purple in the face. In combination with these symptoms there was heavy hemorrhage from the renal glands. This stage lasted until he was completely exhausted, and then he sank into a deathly comatose condition, in which every moment seemed to be his last.

 

We can never fully estimate the service rendered to us at this time by the three European officers of the distant government fort, Ainsworth, Lane and Hinde. Mr. Lane sat by his bedside night after night, even when there was not the faintest ray of hope that he could recover. However, it pleased the Lord to raise up my husband again, and in a few weeks' time he was once more busily engaged in his work, though never afterwards was he the same healthy man.

 

At this period of our life among the Akamba, our funds had been greatly reduced, and a matter of very important consideration to us had been the huge cost of living in the interior of the Continent. The proceeds of our property, which we thought might have supported the Mission for a lengthened period, were being quickly swallowed up in huge caravan expenses and labor. The transport of goods from London was becoming a serious item. It would indeed have seemed as if the £2,000 per year, which the Imperial British East Africa Company suggested, would be required to support a Mission in these unopened regions. Apart from the actual cost of food, clothing and all household utensils and station basics, and the packing of same and freight to the Coast, the porterage up country alone from Mombasa to our station cost £150 per ton gross, or about two shillings per lb. net.

 

We had wanted to lessen our imports, and as a result our expenses, by attempting to grow some food in our little garden, as our plain flour loaves had been costing us several shillings each. On the borders of the great inland lakes, bananas flourished in great quantity, and on these the Missionaries could survive, while along the moist, low-lying districts of the Coast, mangoes, pineapples and cocoanuts thrived in significant quantity. But on the dry equatorial uplands of Ukamba where we lived, none of these were native to the soil, nor could they be grown to maturity, and we were totally dependent on supplies received from London at an vast expense. We had ordered from Australia, Tasmania and Japan different kinds of fruit trees, which might with care give reasonably good results. Only a few, however, survived the long journey, and a second and third shipment were ordered and received before we got a few trees to show signs of adaptability to the climate and give promise of fruit.

 

The country was also void of any kind of grain worth growing. We had, therefore, obtained from various parts of the world small quantities of quick-growing wheat seed which might be found fitting, and out of these we had discovered one species of Egyptian grain which seemed quite adapted to tropical conditions. A small plot of this corn was in full ear and the few fruit trees had just thrown out some tender branches, when there came a plague of locusts upon the country, which destroyed the high expectations we expected and spoiled our prospects of obtaining fairly low-cost bread.

 

Never can we forget the day those locusts came. Out on the northern horizon we saw a cloud rising from the earth heavenward, until it assumed almost alarming size. At first it seemed like threatening signs of a torrential rain, but never before had we rain from the north, where those huge unearthly accumulations were seen. Taking up a pair of powerful field glasses, we could see that the clouds were formed of integral bodies, like remarkable flakes of brown - colored snow, and had already begun to move toward us with considerable speed. Some natives close by seemed apparently interested in the strange phenomenon, and calling them to us we asked what it might be. With a signal meaning disaster, they replied, "N'gie!" (Locusts!).

 

Before we had ended our conversation with them, the huge living cloud had reached us and was soaring overhead. In a few minutes the entire heavens were covered by the passing myriads, and so dense was the mass that the midday sun was blotted out and the sky covered with a moving pall of blackness. The rushing sound of their wings was like the roaring of the sea in a mighty storm. For a time it seemed as if the countless millions would pass us by and that our little garden, reclaimed from the jungle, which had cost us so much effort, might be spared from swift destruction and its produce yet reaped.

 

After the course of an hour or more the flight of those dense, winged clouds was lowered, and soon the locusts touched the earth and struck us on the face and clung to our clothing. While we stood amazed at the descent of these airborne hosts, we found that the ground was actually covered with their bodies, and they were still falling in undiminished numbers until the ground was covered with a seething, living heap several inches deep. Our garden was already brown with the devastating armies, which were plying their powerful jaws on every twig and leaf and blade. The tiny plot of valuable wheat which had been four feet high was now weighed down to the ground with the multitudes of hungry devastators, for on every single stalk of wheat there were not less than a dozen locusts and on some twice that number.

 

In the same garden we had planted a little maize, which we had introduced from Virginia for the benefit of the natives, the stems of which were six to eight feet high, and whose silken tassels were just beginning to stick out from the immature cobs. In the course of half an hour every hint of vegetation was cut off as clean as if it had been mown by some mighty reaper. While the green herbage was rapidly disappearing, the sound of the chewing of the jaws of the ravaging hosts was one continued deafening din. In one short hour the landscape was covered with gloom and desolation. Never, perhaps, in all our varied experiences in Equatorial Africa have we been so conscious of the omnipotence of the Lord God Almighty as on that day.

 

On the following morning, as soon as the burning sun warmed the earth, the locusts took to flight, leaving the ground entirely covered with their excrements. We were therefore obliged to give up any idea of growing staple food for at least another year or more, until we could get a further supply of seed. We had been fairly successful with potatoes, passion fruit, tomatoes and Cape gooseberries, and all but the potato may now be found growing wild here and there over the Equatorial Regions for many hundreds of miles, the seed having been carried hither and thither by the birds.

 

Potatoes we planted for three seasons before we partook of a single one at our table. Fourteen pounds had been secured from Messrs. Sutton and Sons of Reading, when we started on our expedition, but these were carried about for many months in the tropics before we were able to fix upon a station site and plant them. About four pounds then remained out of the fourteen, and so much exhausted was the residue with the continual growth while on the march, that from the first season's crop we reaped exactly the same weight as we had planted, to be exact: four pounds.

 

Our food and funds were both getting very low, while the continual drain of caravan and other expenses seemed ever on the increase. Goods from London, of which we were in dire need, had been then lying at the Coast for us some months, and it seemed absolutely impossible to get a caravan sent up country with them. The government having taken over the country had just commenced at Mombasa to build a railway, which was eventually to reach Lake Victoria Nyanza, and all available Coast porters were engaged in the government service.

 

My husband determined, therefore, to seek to get a number of the raw natives of the Akamba tribe to accompany him to the Coast, for the purpose of fetching up the loads which were there deposited. Such an undertaking had never been suggested before, and it was not at all certain that the natives could be persuaded to venture on such a project. However, when the plan was made known among those of our immediate district who had attended our Gospel meetings, there were thirty volunteers who at once came forward and said that they were ready to go to the sea with the Bwana. This truly was evidence of a wonderful influence which had been brought to bear upon these naked natives. Spontaneously they had offered to follow the white man into the unknown on a journey of eight hundred miles through the wilderness, not knowing what dangers lurked for them on the way, and whether the low-lying jungles of the Coast might harbor for them disease and death.

 

I did not like my husband taking these men down country in their absolute nudity, and for ten days I sat making clothes for them out of Indian calico, at the rate of three suits a day, so that each man might have a jacket and pair of knickers. Every possible preparation was made by my husband for the journey, but at the same time we could not help thinking that the caution of the volunteers might yet overcome their bravery, and the plan for getting our goods up country eventually fall through. It was quite a surprise to us, therefore, when, on the morning appointed for the departure, twenty-five strong natives appeared, each with a supply of grain in a goatskin satchel sufficient to last for the outward journey of four hundred miles. The nude warriors put on their knickers and jackets, in which none of them seemed to feel quite at home, and then all were ready for the march.

 

Never before, since we had entered the wilds of Central Africa, had my husband planned on leaving me among the natives for such a long period of time, to go on such a lengthened journey. Many were the thoughts that filled my mind of what might happen to me and the children during his absence or happen to him and his men on the way; but we fully commended all to the care of our loving Father and rested completely in Him. The last goodbye was spoken, and I saw my husband turn his back upon the station, and go off on his long march of many hundreds of miles through the wilderness, as if he were only going across the hills on a single day's journey.

 

Although the actual geographical distance to and from the Coast may not have been more than six hundred miles, yet the winding and doubling of the path through the bush was such that on our way up country we considered that a true estimate of the distance traversed might be obtained by adding one mile to every three, as an allowance for the windings and detours of the twisted path.

 

Before leaving me, my husband had given instructions to his blood-brother chieftain to look after our safety, and in a measure made him responsible for my safe keeping. The work went on as usual in my husband's absence, and in my extra moments I added somewhat to the furnishings of our bare, wattle-and-daub rooms. Out of the wood of supply boxes we had made some tables, but apart from these, our camp beds and a few chairs, we had very little furniture. With some midribs of palm trees which were obtained about thirty miles away, together with reeds from a neighboring stream, I was able to make a very strong cabinet and sideboard and some shelves for the corners, all of which were found to be very useful in our jungle home.

When this was finished I found that some boots had to be made for the younger children, and others required mending, and with patience and perseverance I was able to accomplish this adequately out of some ready wildebeest hide.

 

While I was thus busy, our young children were under the charge of two native boys, who were forbidden to take them many yards from the station buildings, lest they might get bitten by the numerous snakes which abounded in the vicinity. One of the children had a very narrow escape one morning. While they were all out gathering flowers, the child was attracted by a beautiful, speckled coil which lay among the variegated plant life of the surrounding growth. Coming up to it, the little one stretched out its hand towards the delightful object, and immediately there was thrust out from the center of the coil the extended jaws of one of our most venomous snakes, the kiko. The child, then fully realizing its danger, turned to flee, pursued by the reptile, and managed to reach the house just before collapsing in a faint.

 

This red-banded kiko is the only snake in those parts which will ever attempt to follow up its prospective victim. It is the most active and dangerous of reptiles, and some children who have been bitten by it have never risen from the spot on which they were attacked, so soon does death result.

 

On another occasion one of our little boys was playing in the corner of the dining-room, and lifting up the coconut matting which covered the earthen floor of our dwelling, a snake shot forth its forked tongue, and the little fellow was so frightened that he fell back helpless. I immediately rushed forward and killed the reptile with a stick.

 

It was very difficult to get the natives to kill any of these snakes, simply because they did not wish to run the risk of being bitten. Some of the Akamba brought to the children little antelopes to which they were greatly attached as playmates, and, as three of these animals had died in sequence from snake bites, we determined to dig out a convenient anthill where I thought snakes might be likely to hide themselves. Two natives were chosen to this work.

 

With their sharp, pointed sticks of hard wood they soon entered the beaten crust of earth which surmounted the tunnels of the busy hive of ants. After getting down a few feet below the surface, they were startled by seeing a huge snake of the kiko species thrusting its crimson-barred neck through one of the holes of the mound. Immediately the natives rushed from the hole and fled for their lives. Being encouraged, however, by the promise of a big reward for the body of the snake, they again timidly commenced operations. No sooner had they done so, than the red-crested head was shot forth once and again in a terror-inspiring attitude. A long pointed pole was then secured and plunged far into the soil below the place where the serpent was lurking; and a fulcrum having been placed underneath it, the ground was raised up, exposing a large portion of the reptile's body, when a well aimed blow on the head put an end to its malignant powers. The latter part of the body of the snake was found to be encircling half a dozen large, extended eggs covered with a membranous cover. On opening these with a knife, I found in each one a perfectly formed and wonderfully active baby snake.

 

During my husband's long and difficult march to the Coast, the work was carried on without any serious event outside the fact that a native had, on one time, threatened to drive his long blade into my heart — a threat which I hindered with a simple smile.

 

One day I gave a couple of knives to two of the men who were working for me, and sent them into the forest for some fibrous bark, as I was having an extra outhouse built for the use of the men and boys employed on the station. After some time one of them returned alone with his load of bark and, being questioned concerning his companion, he expressed ignorance of what had become of him. On handing his knife to me it was discovered that he had also in his possession the knife of the missing man. Fearing some foul play, I had him tied up immediately, and sent two natives to the locality in the forest where the fiber had been obtained. These eventually came back with the news that they had found the missing native dead, in a sitting posture against the base of a tree, with some marks on his neck as if he had been strangled.

 

Because most of the men with whom we mingled and who worked on our station were used to the taking of human life, I did nothing more than send him away, after making known to him the way of pardon and eternal life. In a couple of days his own body was found dead in the bush near to our station, having succumbed to a swift and mortal native illness, which was evidenced by certain discolorations.

 

God wonderfully preserved me and the children during those long days and nights in our loneliness in Africa. Between two and three weeks after the date of my husband's departure for the Coast, a native came to me one day bringing a letter from my husband, who was traveling on fairly well on his journey towards the sea, though somewhat saddened concerning the conditions in which he left us on the station. The letter ran as follows: —

 

Kiboko Camp, Monday night.
My Dear Rachel,

Many have been my thoughts about you all since I left home and my prayers have daily, perhaps hourly, ascended to God on your behalf. I have at times been filled with sorrow concerning the condition of severe privations under which I left you and the children, for even as far as the ordinary necessities of life are concerned we have come very low. I could bear all with dogged perseverance myself, but to ask you and the children to bear it with me breaks my heart. And yet why should I thus speak, for there could be no greater privilege than suffering and enduring for the sake of our blessed Jesus, in spreading the knowledge of Him among the people with whom God in His providence has cast our lot.

 

I appreciate that self-sacrificing life which you have ever shown since the day I first saw you, and I am sure the Master will honor you for it. I feel intensely the great charge your little ones are upon you in my absence amidst hostile surroundings, but God will give you every needed grace and bless your every effort.

 

On our march to-day we had a very narrow escape from two rhinoceroses. The bush was thick and the track we followed was winding and tortuous, with a hot scorching breeze blowing strong in our face. Owing to the wind coming from the beasts to us they were unaware of our presence until we were right among them. I could have almost caught the tail of one. The men fled in the utmost consternation through the thick bush. The great monsters seemed almost as much terrified as we were ourselves, and puffing and blowing they charged into the dense jungle. The man who carried my rifle bolted immediately; but even if he had stood his ground I could have done nothing at the moment, for the rifle was unloaded, and both animals and men had all alike disappeared in a second.

 

I have now an opportunity of sending this letter to you by some natives who are passing towards Wathomi so I shall send it on. I may have another opportunity of getting a letter taken to you, and I shall then, all being well, write a note to each of my little children. I am thinking very much about them. Good-night, my darling. Good-night, my dear little children. My dear Rachel, if anything happens to me, or if I be killed by animals or men, my last words would be, "Tell my little children of the love of Jesus every day until you are as certain as you live that they know Him by a true and living faith." Be patient and firm with the Akamba, and carry on the work among them as long as your stores of barter goods will last. May the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob be your God always. Commending you to His loving care, and with fondest love till we meet again. Stuart.

 

The preceding was the last message I had from my husband on that difficult journey. With feverish body and through terrible drought, he made his way onward day by day over arid wilderness and across the blazing Taru desert, now and again digging holes in the deep dips of the dry watercourses for a little precious water. Although himself sick, he was ever watchful of his porters, and through nonstop watchfulness prevented them, even in the madness of their thirst, from drinking the filthy water before it was boiled.

 

The men arrived at the Coast in fairly good health, but the strong, iron constitution of my husband was much weakened through the continuous fever which clung to him. Being eager of returning up country as early as possible, he got together all the loads his men could carry and of which we were in most urgent need, and having secured a good supply of Indian rice for the use of his porters, he prepared to begin the return journey. So that his porters might not be seriously inconvenienced on the way, he reduced each load to two-thirds the usual weight.

 

The day before that on which they were to leave the Coast, my husband was conscious of having symptoms of dysenteric fever, and he had considered the matter of postponing his departure on that account. Being anxious, however, concerning my isolated and dangerous position, he resolved to try to reach home as soon as possible, and therefore started at once on his long march up country, trusting in God to aid him on the homeward way.

 

For several days, though suffering great agony, he was able to march at the head of his men, leading them to camping places where water might be obtained. A number of the shallow, stagnant pools they had visited on their march down country were found to be completely dried up, and the surface covered with the footprints of wild animals. Due to the men being heavily weighed down and not used to burdens, it was impossible for them to travel either as quickly or as far in a single day's journey as they had done when empty-handed on their march to the sea, so that they had not the same choice of waterholes, and had to be satisfied with more filthy water. The result was that he and several of his men were soon stricken down with severe dysentery and fever. They had then reached the uninhabited region of the Taru wilderness, and to save their lives it was necessary to press forward, as there was no hope of any better water until striking the bed of the river Voi.

 

Although most severely ill my husband sought to lead a normal day's march, but, with almost superhuman effort, he and his caravan of weary porters were not able to cover a distance of more than eight or ten miles. On these journeys he suffered inexpressible agony, and often felt as if he could not possibly go a step further. Even so, inasmuch as a still larger number of his men were developing dysenteric symptoms, he determined with the help of God to seek to save their lives and his own by making every possible effort to pass through the uninhabited jungle and reach the Taita country, where water could be obtained.

 

It was utterly impossible for him and those of his men who were ill to proceed any further under the burning rays of the vertical sun, so he resolved to rest in the daytime and travel at night. When the moon rose above the horizon, about seven o'clock, they started on their first night's march, and plodded along until they had covered about a dozen miles and then camped for the day. They found that their bodies, much weakened by disease, suffered less from exhaustion while traveling the bush-covered wilderness in the cool atmosphere underneath the midnight stars. Night after night in succession they walked the weary and painful way, each night setting out about an hour later than the previous one, so that they might have the benefit of the moonlight, and save themselves from plunging into hidden cavities or stumbling over stumps of decayed trees or protruding roots, which lay along the winding pathway they pursued through the jungle. Oftentimes the caravan was put into a state of panic by the rush of some wild animal through the surrounding bushes.

 

Under ordinary circumstances, the caravan porters break out in singing on the march to vary the monotony of the unending onward march. Their progression through the forest on this occasion, however, was sad in the extreme, and the only addition to the sound of their weary footsteps was the hum of night-time insects and the grunt and roar of wild animals.

 

Often in the middle of the night my husband has lain down on his back on the bare ground, and, looking up to the starry sky, has thought of the mystery of human suffering, and of what it costs in some instances to carry the Gospel to the unopened regions of Darkest Africa. Then, in the indescribable torture of his painful and wasting disease, his thoughts have been directed to the olive garden on the further side of the brook Kidron, and to the little mound of Calvary outside the gate of the City Jerusalem; and then he has realized that it was but right that we should have fellowship with His sufferings.

 

Of the twenty-five robust and stalwart porters that accompanied him, twenty were then very sick with dysentery, some of whom were as much weakened as himself, but who, in their fight for life, were able to move on seven to eight miles during a single night's march.

 

So uncaring were the men to their own interests that on several occasions my husband found them throwing into the bush the rice which was their only food, so that their loads might be thereby lightened. When they were reprimanded for their recklessness regarding the preservation of their own lives, they were found to resort to the practice of pricking small holes in their rice bags, so that the grain might gradually and unnoticeably spill itself along the track as they proceeded on their way. But for the hope which my husband instilled into their hearts regarding the possibility of driving their way through the dry, dried up jungle, they would have laid down in despair in the bush until death would have ended their sufferings. With unfailing strength and courage, my husband fought his way with the men foot by foot in the hours of darkness, towards the water which they expected to reach at the base of the Taita hills.

 

On the last, desperate, midnight tramp over the thirsty, fissure-rent wilderness, ere they reached the valley of the Voi, the masika (rainy season) began with a terrific fall of rain, which deluged the earth and flowed in continuous streams along the uneven surface of the ground. The storm came on with terrible suddenness, and the weak and wearied travelers had no warning whatever of its approach, except that the sky had become rapidly cloudy and the moon hidden from view. This did not call for them stopping on their journey in the darkness of the night, and unpacking and pitching tents, and for this reason they pursued their way until the storm poured upon them with sudden violence. The downpour was so overwhelming and nonstop that it was impossible for the porters to continue their march a step further, and with stoical indifference they threw themselves down in the bush, which provided no shelter at all against such a crushing downpour. To one of the men, that night's march was his last on earth, for he shortly afterwards died from the awful disease which had laid hold of him.

 

As my husband lay across the bare, wrinkled surface of the earth, which had been beaten by the tracks of wild animals, he could feel the flow of water rushing underneath his exhausted body. He had become so weak and exhausted that he was unable to direct the movements of his native porters. His body, once strong and powerful, had been reduced to a mere shadow of his former condition.

 

In this state, however, he continued with God-given help to go on for several days, partially supported by one of his men, until he reached the Tsavo district, where he completely collapsed and was unable to stand or even sit up. His porters, poor, wild natives of the forest, were not able to do anything for him. They concluded that he was dying and that they must remain there until he passed away.

 

On the evening of the second day in that camp by the side of the river Tsavo, a native caravan from the Coast arrived at their camp; and the chief of the caravan, on hearing that the white man was very ill, went to the tent and made known to my husband that he had eight men without any loads, and suggested that these empty-handed porters should carry him, and the two caravans go on together on the following morning. My husband gratefully agreed to his wishes. The men cut down a pole in the forest, and to this was tied a carrying hammock, and all was made ready for a forward march on the next day. At early dawn the caravan moved out of the riverside camp, and for three days they carried my husband, who became so weak that he could scarcely express an clear sound. The porters, believing that he was dead or about to pass away, laid him down in the forest and fled.

 

His own faithful men, many of whom were terribly ill, then made a little camp in the thick bush, and there he lay for several days, while they and he gained some strength, after partaking of free drinks of pure water, which was obtained from a neighboring stream. Eventually he recovered sufficiently to realize his position, and to learn that some of his men were dying, four of whom ultimately fell victims to the deadly scourge which had so long held them in its grip. He instructed two of his strongest porters to proceed to the Scotch Mission Station at Kibwezi, about forty five miles away, and ask Dr. Wilson to send men to carry him there, as he was lying in the jungle unable to move.

 

With great speed the Doctor started off with a party of carriers, and made his way to the forest camp where my husband was lying ill, and the majority of his porters scattered in the bush, and some of them sick unto death.

 

Dr. Wilson, who was not in very good health himself, was so worn out with his speedy march that he had to rest a night in camp before beginning the return journey.

 

On the succeeding night my husband, who was then at the very verge of the grave, was carefully lifted once more into his hammock and carried away westward. Some long stops were made on the march to rest the carriers and allow the weaker men to keep in touch with the main body of the caravan, so that they might not be caught by wild animals. When the scorching sun rose high in the heavens on the following day, my husband felt that he could not live another hour. The heat was terrible and life was departing fast. For five or six days no food had crossed his lips. Even when, at last, the long looked for Mission house came in view and was only a few hundred yards ahead, he did not expect to be able to reach the building alive. Eventually the hammock was laid down on the floor of the Mission room, but my husband was then speechless.

 

Dr. Wilson immediately sent a message up country to me, telling that my husband had been brought into his station in a very low condition, but that he hoped with God's blessing he might recover. Several days after this message was sent me the Lord gave signs of recovery; and about twenty days later he was carried up into the interior, and reached home after an absence of three long, weary months.

 

CHAPTER 19
LIFE IN THE JUNGLE: ITS FASCINATIONS AND TRIALS

 

It was some weeks after my husband's return from the Coast with a supply of food and barter goods, before he recovered from the effects of the terrible disease, which had attacked him on his long and dangerous journey. God had given to him great recuperative power, however, and, after a short period of rest, he was once again busy actively in the work to which he was truly fond of.

 

He loved the natives with a sincere affection, and however unlovable in many respects was their character and nature, he could detect within them great possibilities under the transforming and regenerating power of the Spirit of God. Although the terms "savage/native" is used in this book in its ordinary accepted meaning, yet to my husband and myself there was no insulting meaning in our thoughts and conversation. The naked denizen of the forest was to us a person made in the image of God, one who, however defaced and marred by his lawless life and degrading environment, could be recreated and born again by the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. To us the natives were friends, and we were rejoiced as the days passed by to find that there was an ever-growing return of affection, in which was shown greater freedom of communication and increased interest in our Message.

 

At this stage of our work, when life was becoming safe on our station and the elder children fully fluent with several of the languages of the surrounding tribes, I had the opportunity of taking many journeys with my husband. We had always a good following of natives with us for carrying tent, camp beds, cooking utensils and food.

 

In the evening time during these itinerations, after our usual Gospel talk with the men, we had the privilege of becoming more familiarly acquainted with the inward life and heart longings of these sons of the wilds. To satisfy their abnormal desire for flesh, and to make it unnecessary to carry with us large quantities of grain for the food of our carriers, my husband always shot some meat for them, in the cooking and partaking of which they reveled with great pleasure.

 

On those nights in the forest, as we sat by the blazing camp fires, every tongue seemed to be freed, and every heart ready to reveal its secrets. The unrestrained conversation of the savage heart on such occasions usually deals with the scenes of bloodshed and human killing, while they repeat the stories of all the intertribal conflicts in which they were ever involved. This, of course, was natural to them, for everyone of our night companions in camp was a murderer, each and all having repeatedly taken the lives of their fellowmen. My husband often directed their thoughts towards the phenomena of the universe, the sun, moon and stars, and then, from nature, pointed them to nature's God.

 

We gathered from their stories that N'gai, the Great Architect (ie...God), in creating the world, made two light-giving bodies, male and female, with natural powers of life and motion. The sun, they say, is to run his course without becoming old, until a time when it shall please the Creator to wipe this earth out of existence. In the meantime he has been ordered by the Supreme Being to move across the heavens every day so as to give light to men, but in the evening he is permitted to enter his hut in the west and rest a while. At midnight when men are asleep he sets out on his quick journey underneath the earth, and arrives at the eastern horizon to begin his daily course once more across the ethereal vault of heaven. The moon, his friend and spouse, is short lived; but before she passes away she gives birth to another moon, who soon grows to maturity, and then, like her predecessor, dies of exhaustion while bringing into existence her descendant. The myriads of stars which cover the midnight sky, as seen in the mysterious atmosphere of the tropics, are the children of the first maternal moon.

 

However crude and unclear may be the ideas of the natives regarding natural objects which are far from them by vast distances, yet they are possessed of an inconceivable wealth of knowledge concerning those things which come within the immediate range of their observation. To them Nature has unlocked many of her treasures. In the science of natural history they are marvelously expert, and are quite familiar with the life and habits of the plants and animals which surround them.

 

During the hours of the night in our camp, their ear eagerly catches the sound of the soft, but bodeful, crackling of a leaf; and they immediately recognize the cautious step of the padded foot of the King of Beasts. There goes a rustling among the bushes; and in that forceful advance they discover the crashing thrust of a rhinoceros, and the suspense grows more sharp with every moment, until they are assured, by the decreasing noise of his footsteps, that the great monster is moving back into the depths of the midnight wilderness. Apart from the legendary conception of God's universe and the interesting stories we hear from the lips of these children of the bush, regarding beast and bird and reptile, there is an indescribable weirdness and fascination about the primitive camp life itself in these solitudes of God.

 

The brightness of our camp fires only emphasize the dense darkness which lies beyond, in which dangers lie in wait on every hand. By and bye, however, there is a glimmer of light on the horizon, and soon the moon rises above the giant trees which surround our sleeping places, and her beams light up the spreading branches, which are decorated with a species of long, overhanging lichen. Many fireflies, those fairy-like companions of the tropical night, sway up and down through our camp like tiny lanterns of glowing flame.

 

Before we retire to rest, the loud, fear-instilling roar of the lion, who has just felled to earth its victim, echoes over the rolling wilds which surround our tent. His mighty bellowing rises higher and higher into reverberating billows and then dies away into a low, rumbling, yet far-reaching growl.

 

Away on the other side of our camp towards the river, we hear the peculiar, gruff, hollow, unearthly noise which the hippopotamus throws out upon the midnight air, in all its penetrating, nerve-shaking power. One would think the volume of sound, propelled by an abnormal force, was coming from some wide, engulfing cave. These animals are now feeding in herds among the long, thick grasses which cover the fresh areas near the river's banks. With such interesting sleep-songs ringing in our ears we pass into sleep.

 

When the morning comes in the eastern sky, we made Our way with renewed energy towards the Hippopotamus river, which was some distance below our camp, with the hope of getting one of these huge monsters to supply fat for the use of our men, as well as a little for our own food store, which we often used as a substitute for butter.

 

On the way, I had a very exciting experience, which, but for the providence of God, might have had a tragic ending. My husband was some distance ahead of me, and with him was the major part of our following of natives, while I, on my Arabian donkey, brought up the rear. We were passing through an open bush country, where numerous earth mounds, as large as high ant-hills, rose like excrescences on the surface of the earth, intercepting our view. In rounding one of these natural earth hills, I was terrified to find a huge rhinoceros charging straight for me at a great speed. The natives fled to climb the nearby trees, while I used my spur on the donkey to urge him forward at a gallop; but, true to his asinine attitude, he immediately came to a dead stop and trembled as if stricken by deathly fear. I instantly jumped from his back and, shouting for my husband, rushed to a huge rock nearby, onto which I climbed for safety. On hearing me call, my husband hurried back towards me and fired at the oncoming rhino, who immediately swerved and disappeared in the bush, leaving my Arab donkey untouched.

 

When we arrived at the river bank, where there seemed to be a deep volcanic pool, a sight was presented to the eye which can never fade from the memory. With the wind in our favor we carefully made our way through the creepers which hung from tree to tree, and, looking down through the overhanging branches, we caught sight of dozens of hippopotamuses sporting themselves in the water beneath. Sometimes they rose high enough to expose the one half of their gigantic frame, and then plunging beneath, to what depths I know not, they would, after a period, rise once more to the surface to blow, and then play about in total frolicsomeness. At times, some of them would open their great, cave-like mouth and show their gleaming tusks.

 

At a distance beyond them were huge crocodiles of fifteen to eighteen feet in length. Some of these lay as motionless on the water as if they were logs of wood, while others, seemingly furious, lashed the water into foam with their powerful tails. As we stood there, set and fascinated by the stunning scenery around, and awed by the inspiring sight of these powerful beasts playing in the pool below, I could not help thinking of the words of Job concerning the larger specimens of animated nature, "He moveth his tail like a cedar: his bones are as tubes of brass: his limbs are like bars of iron. He counteth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. He maketh the deep to boil as a pot. Lay thine hand upon him; remember the battle and do so no more." A sudden gust of a swirling breeze played among the trees behind us, and sweeping down over the pool, at once betrayed the presence of human beings; and from that moment not one of them displayed to view above the surface of the water more than the very tip of his nostrils. The hippo is an animal of sharp intelligence, and its powers of scent are well developed. Once he catches but the tinge of human odor, he invariably changes his habitat in the darkness of the following night.

 

There was no use in my husband firing at the target points which these discreet animals now presented, and to get the fat for which he wanted it was necessary to go further afield. Threading his way, with a native gunbearer by his side, along the well-wooded bank of the river where the tracks of hippopotamus were numerous, he sought to get in touch with some of the great beasts which had not yet been disturbed and alert to our presence. He scrutinized the deep pools in the river bed, in which these animals spend the sunlit hours of the day, and from which they emerge for their feeding grounds at night, when, with their huge, crowbar tusks, they mow down the reeds and coarse grasses of the lowlying fens as with a scythe. All the deep pools were as still as midnight, except for the splash now and again made by the movement of a lazy crocodile which was on the surface. We still carefully made our way through the endless stretch of intertwining climbers and trailing vines and thick undergrowth, which flourished beneath the overspreading branches of the trees that shot up heavenward from the river's bank.

 

Without any warning whatever there crashed through dense, thick bush before us, with the force of a steam engine, an avalanche of flesh and blood, puffing and blowing in furious rage. In a moment we felt the ground tremble beneath our feet, and the huge animal dashed past us, just missing our track by a couple of yards in its impetuous rush. It was a rhinoceros, whose anterior horn, of about three feet in length, stood out almost horizontally from his nose. How terribly unnerving it is to meet these huge brutes face to face in the thick, intertwining bush, where it is so difficult for man to make his way without stumbling, while these monsters crash through everything, breaking up the undergrowth as if it were sun-dried straw.

 

More carefully was our progression made through the dense tangle, and our ears strained to catch the faintest sound which the zephyr-like breeze might bring to us through the sultry, stifling atmosphere. We then approached another low depression in the river, and, peering down through the pendant branches of the trees which overhung the water's edge, we saw what seemed to be three black rocks projecting out of the bed of the river near to a large pool. These were hippos which were lying lazily enjoying the glare of the noonday sun. As my husband was raising his rifle, one of the men carelessly broke through some brittle wood, and the echoing sound, though faint, caught the sharp ears of the gigantic beasts, and momentarily they plunged head foremost into the depths below.

 

Our mission seemed somewhat hopeless that day, as the animals were unusually alert and watchful. Nevertheless, tired and weary, we patiently pushed forward through the intertwining growth which slowed down our progress. After some time we came side by side a lengthened stretch of natural reservoir in the course of the bending river. Close to the bulrush-covered bank there was a track, in which the feet of the pachydermatous animals had made innumerable imprints. These had been formed at the end of the rainy season, and had got baked into hard molds by the fierce rays of the equatorial sun. Along this track we passed, underneath the large, umbrageous trees which studded the wilds on one side, while on the other there was nothing between us and the water's brink but a gradually sloping bank, clothed with waving crowns of papyrus. The humid atmosphere was suffocating, and the fierce, hot rays of the sun gleamed down upon the still water of the great river pool, which reflected the huge palm fronds on the further side as if in a mirror.

 

My husband soon caught sight of something away in the distance, mid-stream, which seemed to be approaching, and which looked very much like the black, tarred hulk of an old fishing boat, without sail or spar, which was being propelled by some hidden energy. On that river, however, the surrounding natives had never launched a dugout. On came the bulky mass, cutting the surface of the calm pool, while the wavy waters rushed to either bank in surging ripples. As the oncoming monster got nearer, my husband discovered the broad muzzle of an massive hippopotamus and, commanding his followers in a whisper to fall flat on earth, he prepared to fire. As the great pachyderm got close to us, its suspicions were clearly aroused; and, rising in the water to the limit of its power, it scanned the papyrus-covered bank, when a well aimed gunshot rang out, and the extremely large beast, discovering my husband's presence, made a furious dash for the bank with wide-open mouth, in which he showed his white tusks. Another bullet met him as he approached the water's edge with his mighty challenge, and then he turned and made a desperate plunge into the depths below.

 

For a moment or two we watched the bubbling water which he had left behind him at the spot where he had disappeared, and when the agitation ceased a few air bubbles were seen to rise on the surface, and all was peaceful as before. We then knew that the meat which our men required that night would, in all probability, be held in a few hours' time; so, leaving a couple of natives on watch, we pitched our camp near the bank of the stream, while our hungry men expectantly waited the floating of the carcass, which usually takes place about an hour after the animal has been killed.

 

While the camp was being put in order, a man rushed to the tent with a beaming face, calling out "Bwana n'guo akwelilaf" (Sir, the hippo is floating!). With glittering blades the natives rushed for the spot, but none were brave enough to swim into the river to push the hippo to the shore, as the water was infested with crocodiles.

 

Several ropes were made from the bark of some motoa trees in the forest, and to the ends of these were attached stones and pieces of heavy wood, and the weighted ends were thrown beyond the carcass; and then, by a gentle tugging at the ends held on shore, a motion was imparted to the animal which gradually brought it near to the edge, when by means of a long pole, on which a metal hook was fixed, the landing of the great pachyderm was completed.

 

No sooner had the beast touched the shallow edge of the pool, than two men jumped on to his back and began to slice up the monster. This was done by cutting up the hide and removing it in narrow planks, for its great density and weight prevents it being removed in any other way, the skin along the back being one to one and a half inches thick.

 

Before sundown the men had all the fat they could possibly carry. When the orb of day had reached the western horizon, tinging the sky with a reddish glow. and outlining the tall palms, whose polished midribs raised their waving fronds high over our camp like giant guards, our thin, ebony-skinned followers were roasting their hippo steaks on the camp fires, while their faces beamed with exuberant spirits over the feast that had been provided for them in the wilds.

 

The simple existence in camp is enjoyable from many points of view, but the continual uncertainty as to what may happen at any moment is very difficult for the nerves. Within range of the glow of the flaming camp fires one feels quite at home, though snakes are frequently met with in camp, but, in the dense darkness which lies beyond, there are concealed innumerable dangers, which may assail one at any moment, and for which it is ever necessary to be prepared. Hundreds of carnivores are prowling about the forest, and dozens of the even more dreaded rhinoceros are browsing through the thick bush in the vicinity, any of which might pounce upon the camp at a time when least expected.

 

Sometimes a feeling of great insecurity would come over me, but the composure of my husband, who was cool and collected under the most difficult and eventful circumstances, always dispelled my fears. Often when I could not sleep, due to conditions which foreboded pending danger, he has assured me of being prepared for an emergency by lying down in bed at night with the rifle bearing a loaded magazine grasped by the butt in his hand while the muzzle lay between his feet, so that he was ready at any moment to defend the camp from a sudden attack.

 

On our journey homeward across the deep ravines and gullies which intersected the landscape, we came into unusually close touch with a herd of giraffe, who were feeding on the young growth of the high trees which lined those low, descending gorges. Our men were resting in the shade which the dense foliage of a huge, wild fig tree afforded, when, through an opening in the bushes, there silently stepped into our midst three or four stately giraffe stallions of eighteen to twenty feet high, leading a herd in which were several baby giraffes. These front line leaders of the group cast upon us a startled and enquiring look, and then scampered off with their unusual galloping leaps, so unlike the way of walking of any other animal in existence. Immediately following them came the mothers, with their active babies by their side, while a mixed company brought up the rear. My husband could have shot half a dozen of them if he had desired to do so, but he never killed except for food or in defense, and so with great interest we watched these giant specimens of a bygone age, as they ambled past us over the sunlit, park-like landscape.

 

When these beautifully-marked animals are standing still among the feathery foliage of the acacias on which they browse, the harmony of color with environment is very remarkable, and though one may be quite close to them, yet it is difficult at times to discern their presence until they begin to move.

 

Their only weapon of defense is their leg, and a kick from a full-grown male would be a terrible blow to any beast. They are, however, in no wise ferocious, and the eye of the giraffe is as mild in its expression as that of the most timid gazelle, while neither in joy nor pain do they ever utter the faintest sound. The lion kills them by springing upon them and crunching their neck with a single bite.

 

On an open piece of ground surrounded by bush we came upon one of those fatal snakes, the red-banded, fiery kiko, but the moment he was discovered on the track, the leading ones of our men threw down their loads and jumped aside. My husband, who was mounted on his donkey and able to see what was going on, determined to get the men to surround the reptile and kill it. The huge snake was very much disturbed, and inflated its neck to the utmost extent, as they always do when furious. The men who had bush sticks in their hands got into position in a circle, at a respectful distance from the monster. The moment the native approached towards the reptile, it coiled back on its tail and sprang at him with lightning speed. The man would jump back and another would seek to strike its tail so as to disable it, but only to hit the place where the snake had been, so fleet and rapid were its movements. By this time the serpent was furious with rage, and began ejecting poison from its mouth, throwing it several yards, but always falling short of the naked bodies of the men.

 

For a time it seemed as if none of the men were daring enough to venture within striking distance, but at last two of the bravest of our followers determined to approach the reptile and strike at the same moment. While one rushed at the head the other attacked it in the rear, and bringing down a fierce blow with a long, heavy stick, broke its back, and then dispatched it with a fatal blow on the head.

 

This is the most swift, ferocious and deadly serpent in the East Equatorial Regions, and we think that the fiery serpents which attacked the Israelites in the wilderness were probably of this species. It is the only snake we have met with that will boldly attack without provocation.

 

One day my husband came across one of these reptiles, on a piece of cleared ground near to our little church building, and it came straight for him. He had nothing in his hand at the moment, but seeing a few loose stones close by, he picked them up and hurled them at the snake, which immediately disappeared into one of the holes of a nearby anthill.

 

It is quite possible after some years to get accustomed to look, without much concern, upon lions walking about in the distance, through the bush in which you are traveling; but it seems as if humankind could never, with any degree of complacency, so familiarize themselves with the presence of poisonous snakes as to be happy to have them around and, at times, inside one's house. There is an ever-abiding hostility between their seed and that of the woman.

 

After some years of Missionary work among the Akamba, we were brought, however, face to face with a much more terrible scourge than that of prowling carnivores or venomous snakes. Small insects of Peruvian origin, called jiggers, found an entrance a good many years ago into tropical West Africa, and gradually moved forward along the Congo basin, penetrating the regions of the great inland lakes, and thence made their way among the savage tribes of Eastern Equatorial Africa until they reached the waters of the Indian Ocean.

 

These insects are so small as to be barely observable to the naked eye. They live mainly in moldy earth or sand, and spring upon and attach themselves to any human being who may chance to come their way, piercing and entering through the skin and then sucking the blood. They usually select the toes or fingers, and penetrate the soft tissues underneath the nails.

 

When the female gets implanted in the flesh, her eggs, to the number of several thousand, develop rapidly; and soon the insect, which was but a tiny, brown speck, increases to the size of a field pea, and the place where she entered becomes irritated and inflamed. When the eggs are fully ripe the membrane containing them bursts, thus scattering the contents. The innumerable offspring mature into fully developed insects in the course of a week or two. In many cases there is no pain whatever when the insect is burrowing, because the poison they inject renders the nerves somewhat insensitive, but after the bag of eggs becomes swollen and the skin is ruptured, the part usually ulcerates and most painful sores follow. When these pests reached our district the natives had never before heard of them, and were ignorant of their habits, and of the consequences which would follow their entrance into the flesh. We ourselves had no messenger announcing their approach, so that for several weeks the natives, when they came to our meetings or to work on the station, sat down on the ground in the vicinity, and extracted the jiggers which were troubling their feet; and thus, before we knew anything of their presence, our station was flooded with millions of these pests. Very soon we and our children got them in our feet and hands and different parts of the body, and very serious trouble and suffering followed.

 

We informed all natives with whom we came in contact that when jiggers were extracted they should not throw them nor their eggs on the ground, but destroy them with fire, else the inhabitants would be ruined. It was also advised that no native should be allowed to sit on the ground or remove any jigger from his body within the edge of our station.

 

In a short time, hundreds of natives were so disabled by the plague of insects that they were unable to walk to their little cultivated patches in the wilds, and many of them lost their toes, while some died from the effects of this terrible plague.

 

We sought all we could to lessen the number of jiggers in our home, but this was difficult, as it was only a one-storey building with an dirt floor. Every day the rooms were swept out, after having been sprinkled with a strong, hot solution of carbolic acid.

 

No matter what we did to battle and wipe out the plague, it increased to a most vexatious point. Our little church building was so full of jiggers that we could not enter it without them swarming upon our person. The few we were enabled to kill inside the house with the boiling mixture of acid were as the small dust of the balance, compared with the swarming multitudes which were breeding in the sandy mold within the vicinity of our station.

 

Our children became greatly afflicted, and to some of them sleep was almost impossible, due to the inflammation and febrile disturbance which followed the numerous bites of these insects. My husband and I were kept busy many hours of both day and night in extracting jiggers and applying hot fomentations to relieve the pain and agony which our children were suffering, and this while we ourselves were scarcely able to put a foot to the ground. For months at a time it was impossible to wear a boot, so high were the inflammatory conditions which followed the penetration of these infinitesimal pests. Our house was a regular hospital and our children were harassed and tormented with indescribable agony.

 

It was most painful to look upon the poor, subdued natives, who came to our station in their wretchedness, exhibiting their sores and seeking medicine and treatment. Numbers of them had lost some of their toes before they came to us, while with others not only were their toes full of insects, but even the cracks and fissures round the heels of their horny feet had been penetrated by large numbers, and these had embedded themselves in the internal tissues, where there were numerous bags containing many thousands of immature jiggers.

 

We often felt that if the plague should continue much longer we must give up our work, leave the field which had cost so much to win, and come home. Never in all our lives had we thought so much about Job or were led so much into sympathy with him as during those long months of pain and anguish and sleepless nights, under the pestilential calamity which had invaded the country. Often had we prayed about the matter in a general way, but one day we were led of the Lord to put Him to the test and claim victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We unitedly met before Him with our little children and asked Him to remove the plague from the borders of our home. The Lord in grace and love was pleased to answer our prayer, and in two week's time we and our children were quite better, and there was not a single jigger to be found within the boundary of our station. In the providence of God we were completely delivered from them, though the plague continued in the country around for several years.


CHAPTER 20
FIGHTING FAMINE

 

While the natives were in the middle of the great jigger visitation we had much difficulty to get the young people to come to work on the station, and many of the fruit trees which had cost their weight in silver to import from distant lands were dying for desire of water, as we had an unusually long dry season of over six months. We had high hopes of these trees being a great benefit to the country in future years, and thought that they might eventually help to make the Mission self-supporting. Anyhow they were a blessing in the meantime, for their presence enabled us to give continual work to a good many young men, who were thus taken away from their wild, redundant life and brought daily under the influence of the Gospel.

 

In that dry and thirsty land under the fierce and burning rays of the tropical sun, there were no native fruit-bearing trees, and we yearned for the first fruit which might, under the providence of God, be gathered from these trees, which we had been able under such difficulties to introduce. The need of fruit was perhaps more intensely felt because that, for lengthened periods, we had been without tea, coffee, cocoa and sugar, and many other products which are closely associated with European diet. For a long time we had no flour, and during that interval the staple food at our table was the insipid root of the cassava or manioc plant, from which is a staple food. All our funds were completely gone through the inconceivably heavy expenses which the early years of the work entailed. Only those old Societies who have had experience of opening up stations in Central Africa can have any estimated idea of the difficulty and expense of the work, when the base of operations is in the far, distant interior. We were at this time led to send to the Coast and to London all the personal jewelry and trinkets we possessed, including gold watches, chains, pendants, bracelets and rings, to the value of one hundred pounds. Even that was not enough to pay for the postage of our correspondence from the Coast to England. Still, we believed that God, who had enabled us to devote our entire means to the work of bringing the Gospel to the lost ones, that He would supply every real need.

 

The first gift that reached us in those difficult days was from a Missionary in another part of Africa. He had instructed a firm at the Coast to send us a caravan of supplies, and when these arrived up country we had no idea from whom they came. His gift cost a large amount of money in transport alone and must have entailed upon him very considerable self-denial.

 

We had a good many cases of clothing sent to us, and these were found so suitable to our needs that one would think the senders had had a list of our wants. A few of the Church Missionary Society's Missionaries in Uganda sent us a large sum of money by the hand of our honored friend, Dr. Baxter. The Rev. D. L. Hooper, of the Church Missionary Society at Jilore, East Africa, aided our Mission very considerably, and at great expense sent us a caravan of supplies from London.

 

Never perhaps was our stock of provisions so low as on one Christmas day. Our children had decorated the rooms beautifully, but the outside kitchen had quite a desolate appearance, and the food store was almost empty. On that morning at our early Bible reading, the children had asked the Lord to send them something for their table. Some time before midday we saw what seemed to be some loaded porters of a Coast caravan coming along the track which led to our Mission station. Since the usual route for Coast caravans lay several miles south of us, we thought that these men had missed the path and were coming to us for guidance. When they arrived at our station they gave the usual Coast greeting, laid down their loads, and handed to us a letter. To our great surprise the cases were for us, and had been sent as a present from a gentleman who had recently landed on the Coast.

 

We had met him some years before, on board a steamer running up the east coast of Africa, when we were about to advance into the interior to open the Mission. While sitting together on the deck of the ship, my husband spoke to this man about his soul, and of the wonderful and marvelous change which the reception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to everyone who truly believes in Him as his own personal Savior. There, in a quiet corner on the deck of the ship, in the bright tropical moonlight which shimmered around them over mast and spar and crystal sea, they talked for hours of the pros and cons of the Christian life. Eventually the Holy Spirit led that man into the light of the truth, and he rejoiced in his newly-found Savior. We said goodbye to him as he changed ships for a port in India; and then, after all those years of silence, a caravan was sent up country by him with all classes of goods suitable for life in the far-away regions of the interior, and these arrived in the very nick of time as an answer to our children's prayers. Truly the words penned by Isaiah were then fulfilled, "And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer: and while they are yet speaking I will hear."

 

Shortly before the arrival of that timely caravan we had a visit from Her Majesty's Commissioner, Sir Arthur Hardinge, who, accompanied by a following of Europeans and a large armed caravan, was making his first entry into the wilds of the region, over which he had been appointed Administrator when the country was declared a British Protectorate. It was a great pleasure to see fellow Englishmen once again and to entertain Her Majesty's representative and his attendants, in which were included Mr. C. R. W. Lane and Dr. McDonald. I was not present myself at the table, for only a short time prior to the arrival of the Commissioner another dear child had come to bless our home. Sir Arthur expressed to me and my husband his great pleasure in visiting our Mission Station, and said that he very much appreciated what we had done for the country.

 

At times, when I was laid aside with illness or child, the strain which fell upon my husband was very great due to the numerous tasks he had to perform. He was, on all occasions, our only doctor and nurse, while the natives made great and constant demands upon his time and attention.

 

Very soon we had evidence that the natives of East Equatorial Africa were face to face with a time of great shortage of food. Two very long dry seasons had passed by, and during the interval between them heavy rains were expected as usual, but these failed to come; and the small stretches of cultivated ground scattered here and there in the bush had produced very little food, while in some parts of the country, from elevated patches of ground, nothing whatever had been gathered.

 

Another rainy season had become due, but alas, it also failed, and the fierce, burning rays of the sun were literally opening the earth in numerous cracks and fissures. True! a few showers had fallen, saturating the surface of the ground two or three inches deep; and the poor, needy natives, in hope of a future harvest, had dropped in the earth the grain they barely could spare. The superficial moisture caused the seed to germinate and bud, but in the absence of further rain the green leaf soon withered, and every prospect of a renewed supply of grain was completely gone.

 

In every hut throughout the wilds there was shortage of food — in some there was none at all. The poor denizens of the wilds, who had neither storehouse nor barn, could not long survive two successive seasons of drought. Gaunt famine stalked through the land. Those who had a few goats or sheep began to eat them one by one, until not the trace of a hoof of these animals remained in their thorny fences. Those who had cattle were more favorably situated for withstanding the dire conditions which prevailed. Not only had they the advantage of a supply of milk, though greatly reduced in quantity by the drought, but they were able occasionally to bleed the cattle by opening a vein in the neck, and use the blood for food. Eventually, however, some of the cattle had to be killed so as to prolong the lives of the owners.

 

At this period hundreds of the natives begged my husband to go and shoot meat for them, as they were too weak to hunt and follow the animals themselves. At times he had often secured a good supply for them, and when the rhinoceroses were destroying their little gardens in the forest he had repeatedly complied with their urgent wishes to kill these gigantic predators, for the poisoned arrows of the natives were useless against the thick-skinned and dangerous animals. Now, in time of famine, when it was a matter of life and death, he more gladly agreed to their request.

 

Times without number he started off with them early in the morning, about three o'clock, and at that hour a large following were waiting for him. Indeed, many people came to our station the night before, lest they might be left behind in the early start of the morning. On some occasions when he got near to places which were frequented by animals, he would find there men from fifteen to twenty miles away, who had sought him and followed the sound of the rifle, so that they might share in the product of the chase. The caravan bearing the meat generally returned the same evening, as my husband was successful in getting two or three animals during the day. In this way he shot scores of tons of meat for the weak and hungry natives.

 

As the grassy plains and glades increasingly had less green food for animals, a great many animals wandered away from our district in quest of better pasture, while those that remained grew more cautious and difficult to come close to. For this reason it became necessary for my husband to remain away two and three days at a time to get sufficient meat for his ever-increasing train of thin followers.

 

It was with great reluctance that I consented to him leaving me and the children so often, for I knew the great dangers which he encountered from wild animals on these journeys, and besides all that, he was wearing himself out under the strain of so much tiring labor. Nevertheless there was great compensation in the work. The hungry were being fed and the wild natives of the woods, under the subduing influence of God's visitation, were becoming more hungry for the Word of Life; and around those camp fires at night in the wilderness he had hundreds to listen to his message of love and pardon and eternal life, who never, under ordinary circumstances, would have heard the glad news.

 

Sometimes he took no tent with him, as the natives were too weak to carry it, and it could not be divided, so he generally used a Willesden canvas cork mattress on which he lay under the open, starlit sky. When it was unrolled and laid flat on the ground a fire was made some distance from either end, so as to keep lions away while he was sleeping; and to the flame of the fire, and the providential protection which he claimed from God, he owes his preservation. Often lions roared around the camp all night, but their bellowing did little more than disturb his sleep.

 

At times he had some very exciting experiences and narrow escapes from death. The more difficult it became to get a supply of flesh for his starving followers, the greater were the risks necessary to obtain it. One day he had marched to and fro through the wooded wilderness and across the arid plains, but found nothing. Scanning the horizon with his field glasses, however, he discovered three rhinoceroses on a bare ridge where a triangular tongue of the plain intersected the thinly-wooded bush which formed its boundary on one side.

 

These animals when met with singly in the jungle are ferocious brutes to encounter, as many a well-armed hunter has found to his loss, but when a man is confronted with pairs or triplets of these mammoth beasts the conditions are then unsafe in the extreme, and especially on an open plain where no cover can be obtained. In wooded country the hunter may be able to get behind a tree, or under the shelter which a clump of bushes may give, but on the shrubless plain nothing but an immediately fatal shot will save one from the swift attack of these huge monsters.

 

My husband did not care to take home his large retinue of hungry men without meat, and, seeking divine help, he determined to take on the three gigantic pachyderms who were sunning themselves on the bare, red-earthed eminence. Leaving his followers behind in safety, he took with him two men — his gunbearer and another — and cautiously proceeded towards the three animals. When he got within about one hundred and fifty yards there were only two visible; and the keen-scented beasts, becoming aware of his presence, spun around, and raising high their huge, horn-crowned, terror-inspiring heads, they sniffed the air to determine from which spot the enemy was approaching. While he was shortening the distance between himself and them they began to approach him. There was no time to be lost, for less than eighty yards now separated him from the oncoming beasts. He immediately fired at one who, for a moment, lifted his head high enough to reveal his chest, and the monster fell in his tracks. Instantly he aimed at the second animal, who ran a few yards and then toppled over.

 

Thinking that his work was done, my husband attempted rushing towards the last animal that fell, and which seemed incapable of rising, to finish it off, but before doing so he was startled to find himself within about five yards of the third beast, who was charging straight for him, from behind an anthill which had hidden him. Jumping to one side, my husband immediately fired, and the animal turned and ran two hundred yards and then fell headlong on his face. When my husband reached him a minute afterwards he made several attempts to get on his feet but was unable to do so. After having the hide removed in large planks and the carcass opened, it was found that the bullet had penetrated the shoulder and passed right through the centre of the heart, tearing that organ considerably, and embedding itself in the tissues on the further side.

 

There were a good many tons of meat for the men in camp that night, and one of the animals was handed over by my husband to about one hundred starving men from the distant district of Kivalukc and Kyana. These natives had sought for my husband in the bush, and, on hearing the sound of his rifle, had struck out towards the point from which the sound emanated.

The large following of men from our own district had still some tons of meat in camp, and the crowd of haggard, pinched and angular forms, which were normally sleek and round and athletic, gathered closely around the blazing fires and feasted to their hearts' content on roasted chunks of rhinoceros flesh.

 

It was not always that several of these animals were disposed of with perfect success. Two were seen together one day, on one of those open glades met with now and again in the bush. My husband fired at one who at once charged down upon him. He used his rifle on the fast-approaching rhinoceros, but all in vain. In spite of the shower of bullets, on came the determined and infuriated beast until it reached his very feet, when the last bullet from his gun broke its leg in two, and it toppled over just beside him. Another cartridge was then slipped into the barrel and the huge animal was dispatched by a shot through the brain. On another occasion my husband sought to shoot for the natives two of these animals which were browsing together. Crawling up a dry river-bed with the wind in his favor, he got quite near to them before they were aware of his presence. He shot one through the heart and it headed directly for him, but before reaching his position it dropped.

 

He then fired at the second animal, but in the excitement of the moment hit it rather far back, and it immediately rushed over an adjoining hill and disappeared from view. Some of his native followers ran after it to ascertain what had happened, and came back with the news that it had fallen and was dead. My husband then went with the men towards the place where the animal lay like a big black hulk in the grass, but knowing that the natives do not care to approach these fierce beasts before being assured that they are really dead, he fired a shot at random. No sooner had he done so than the animal jumped up quite alive and made for the gathering of natives. These scampered hither and thither at a pace they had never attained before, but soon the animal picked out one man from the crowd and kept to him alone. The natives, being naked and accustomed to running all their lives, are as swift as the wind. The rhinoceros though bearing such a heavy body is an exceedingly fast animal, and, at times, in the southern part of the African continent has overtaken and tossed in air both horse and rider. All the same, for a time the native kept well in front of the wounded rhinoceros, but, quick and nimble as he was, the huge pachyderm was gaining on him rapidly.

 

My husband seeing this, and knowing that there could be but a minute or two between the man and death, would have instantly fired, but for the fact that the men were running in confusion over the plain, and the pursued native was wisely and cleverly doubling now and again so as to leave the pachyderm behind. Due to the great length of these animals they cannot turn as quickly or as easily as a man. Every time, therefore, that the native doubled he was given a fresh opportunity of saving his skin.

 

In a moment beast and man were running in a circle, in the center of which my husband stood, while the front horn of the enraged brute almost touched the buttocks of the native. Never thinking in the strained excitement of that instant whether there were cartridges in the magazine of his rifle or not, but only of the life which was at stake, my husband ran towards the man as fast as his legs could carry him, hoping to reach the rhinoceros before he had gored his victim.

 

My husband, in giving an account of the incident in his own words, says, "...I reached the man almost too late. The rhinoceros had already thrown him over with the point of his nose, but had not got his horn in, as the native had, with native agility, cunningly dodged to one side when he found that he was about to be tossed. The huge animal turned round to dig his keen horn into the desperate form and crush him with his foot. A bullet from my rifle in the rump led the beast to change his mind, and leaving the fallen native, he turned around instantly and dashed at me with a furious snort.

 

Just then, when the enraged brute rushed for me with lowered head, I sought to run another cartridge out of the magazine into the barrel, but alas! there were none — the magazine was empty. I turned to escape with the infuriated monster at my feet and his horn almost between my legs. I had not the presence of mind to throw away the empty rifle. The huge beast and I started at scratch and he kept close to me all the time squealing most viciously. Never before nor since have I covered the ground so quickly. How far or how long I ran over the shrubless plateau I cannot tell, but eventually the quick pace and the long strides reduced my strength ; yet still the rhinoceros kept close to my very heels.

At last I seemed to lose command of my legs and felt that I must fall forward. Realizing in my mind that I could not continue the race another minute, I gave myself up into the hands of my loving God, when, like a voice from heaven, came the words, 'Throw off your helmet.' With uplifted hands I wildly tossed my helmet behind me, and was immediately aware that the animal had stopped. When I had gone about twenty or thirty paces further I looked around, and, to my glad relief, the monster was plowing up the ground with his anterior horn and alternately tossing my helmet in air. Being somewhat dazed by my second bullet, which must have raked him right through, he evidently imagined he had got me! I sank down on the ground in absolute exhaustion. If he had come for me I could not have moved from the place on which I lay. My chest rose and fell as if an engine throbbed within my breast.

 

After a few moments I raised myself on my elbow, and turned my eyes around to take in the situation. I was on a bare plain covered with short, brown, sunscorched grass. No covering of bush was near, nor hiding place into which I could crawl. There was no sign of any native about, though I had with me that day over one hundred followers. They had all forsaken me and fled, including the man with my cartridge bag. I was then conscious that I had clung to the empty rifle all the time. It was still in my hand. A little over twenty paces from where I lay was the gigantic angry brute, still turning up the hard, sunbaked earth in furious rage, where, but a minute before, God had directed me to drop my helmet. On carefully scanning the plain, I saw in the distance the figure of a man, who seemed to be my gunbearer, coming with my cartridge bag. While he was approaching, the animal lay down beside my headgear.

 

When the native came cautiously forward he said in pleading tones, 'Oh, Sir, come away: you will be killed!' I reached out my hand for the pouch of cartridges and filled up the magazine; and having recovered breath I crawled up within a few yards of the rhinoceros, and, placing a ball in his ear, lifted my blood- stained helmet and came away.

 

The natives soon rushed forward fro their hiding-places and gathered around me, while Mavolo, whose life I had saved and who was very little the worse for his toss, clung to me for a long time and would not let me go. He seemed truly grateful for his deliverance from a horrible death...."

 

Shortly after this wonderful escape which was granted to my husband, a very sad incident took place near to the same spot, whereby Francis G. Hall, Her Majesty's District Commissioner, nearly lost his life and sustained injuries from which he never fully recovered. Seeing a rhinoceros in the distance he fired at it with his heavy express rifle, and the animal, catching his scent, immediately rushed for him with that sudden drive which is so difficult to stop, with even the largest rifle a man can lift to his shoulder. Mr. Hall kept firing at the oncoming brute, but without in any way stopping its headlong rush. Remembering at the moment how my husband had been saved, Mr. Hall took off his helmet and threw it at the monster when he was half a dozen yards from his feet, but all to no purpose. The rhinoceros, tossing him in air, got his horn right through the officer's thigh and ripped it up, fortunately missing the femoral artery, but just by a fraction. The horn of the enraged brute tore down the limb and removed the tightlaced shooting boot from off his foot, and then plunged forward leaving the man face down. During many long and painful months he lay at the very brink of death, and though he made a marvelous recovery he never really got over the results of that sad accident.


During the time of famine, as long as the natives were able to accompany my husband in the quest of animal food, rarely did the men ever return without large supplies of meat, for which they were extremely grateful. One day they had ranged the plains in vain, for nothing living could be seen to gratify the cravings of the starving men. Turning towards the wooded wilderness which bordered the plain usually occupied by antelope, my husband and his gunbearers came suddenly upon six huge lions, who, like themselves, seemed to be bemoaning the absence of something to eat. The largest, an enormous male, seemed furious at the sudden intrusion upon their domain, and my husband immediately covered him with the rifle and firing, dropped him to earth. He expected to have a troublesome time with the other five and began loading his magazine. While so engaged four of them disappeared into the long growth of an adjacent swamp, while the fifth, a lioness, stepped over to her fallen companion, looked at him for a moment, and then followed the others into the jungle.

 

None of the men would approach the fallen foe to see if he were dead, so terrified were they of interfering with a wounded lion. My husband drew near until the body was visible, when it was found that the lion was lying with his huge, burly head between his front paws, as if about to spring. He seemed to be still alive, so natural was his position. Taking the precaution of aiming his rifle at the head of the animal, he walked slowly in a circle around him to see if the eye of the huge feline would follow his movements, but, discovering that there was no response in the fiery organ of vision, he stepped forward and kicked him on the nose — the King of Beasts was dead.

 

Not finding any other animals which might satisfy the cravings of the hungry throng, which dogged his footsteps in the bush, my husband directed his path to an extensive rocky eminence, which, like an island, rose above the thinly wooded, brown earthed landscape. This stretched out elevation presented on one side an unbroken face of steep rocks, while the other side was comparatively easy to climb by clambering over huge boulders which had been thrown together in great confusion. On reaching the top of the height and making his way to the other side of the eminence, my husband scanned the surrounding bush with his field glasses, hoping to discover the presence of some animal.

 

Straight up the wind, about six hundred yards from the ridge of the elevated rock, he caught sight of a rhinoceros browsing on the low undergrowth which dotted the surrounding valley. The distance was much too great to be sure of getting in a fatal bullet, and, thinking that a shot fired to hit the bushes beyond the beast might bring the animal towards him, my husband carefully aimed, so as to strike the rise in the ground just above the spot where the animal was feeding. The purpose was successful, for, no sooner did the animal hear the swish of the bullet through the trees in advance of his nose, than he spun around and rushed towards the rock at a terrific pace, snorting and blowing in an unearthly manner.

 

On he came parallel with the rocky eminence, and when he caught the human odor of the waiting men he increased his pace to the utmost of his power. My husband was waiting, rifle in hand, until the great beast got opposite to his position: and then, covering him over the heart, fired, and the dull thud which instantly followed raised bright hopes in the hearts of the dusky company that the couple of tons of meat, which rushed impetuously by, might be brought to earth and made to fill the aching void of which every man in that crowd was painfully conscious. With slowing speed the rhino kept on his headlong course; and then, lowering his nose, the long anterior horn caught the earth, and the huge monster threw a complete somersault and rolled over, while a smile of grateful satisfaction widened the pinched and straightened faces of the starving, waiting throng.

 

Although the starving Akamba were exceedingly fond of rhinoceros flesh, yet the greater part of that which my husband shot for them was of the different species of antelope and zebra. There was not so much risk to life associated with the hunting of these animals as with rhinoceros, except the danger from meeting with lions and leopards, which always infest the jungle where the antelopes roam. Such animals as zebra, gnu, hartebeest and waterbuck and the large gazelles of various kinds were usually more easily obtainable than any other, as they roamed the district in thousands, but being somewhat migratory in their habits it was not always possible to get them.

 

A bull gnu is dangerous only when wounded, and a zebra will kick and bite when felled to earth and unable to get out of the way, but the majority of the numerous species of antelope peculiar to Central Africa are mild and inoffensive even when wounded. The male of the gemsbok and grantii are exceptions to this rule; and in some cases the dead bodies of these animals, as well as that of the wild boar, have been found with their horns embedded in the body of the lion himself.

 

During the long period of hunger, my husband shot hundreds of antelope for the famished crowds of men and women who followed him on these flesh-hunting expeditions. One day the game was found to have deserted our region entirely, and not a hoof could be seen until over twenty-five miles were covered. Then he was fortunate enough to secure a zebra, gnu and hartebeest, after which two grantii followed in rapid succession, but the majority of the men were too weak to carry home the meat. While they sent some messengers for their wives to come and help them bear the flesh to their distant huts among the hills, my husband sought to add to the stock of animal food which had already been gathered.

 

The repeated firing of the rifle, in dropping those animals which had been secured, frightened the remainder away, so that he had to go still further afield to look for more game. Taking one of the most active of the men to carry his rifle, he left the others in camp, grilling on the embers of the fires the meat they so dearly loved, and of which all of them were in such desperate need.

 

Passing over some long stretches of rolling ground, which were sparsely dotted with dwarf bushes of thorny acacia, my husband saw an antelope away on the distant hill. While making his way there the animal disappeared on the further side of the elevation, but, on reaching the mound and skirting the base of the hill, he came in sight of the graceful, long-horned antelope which was moving towards him. He fired the rifle and the animal immediately dropped. Sitting down by the fallen gazelle, he sent his gunbearer to the camp to bring some men to carry the meat there.

 

My husband had not been waiting by the buck for more than half an hour, when, on looking round, he saw another splendid specimen of the same antelope standing on the top of an anthill about two hundred yards away. He was much larger than the one that had just been shot, and his huge horns gave both grace and power to his beautifully-marked body. The presence of the stately animal lent delight to the landscape and added embellishment to the lonely wilderness, as he stood silhouetted against the deep blue sky. But for the fact that many people in the little grass domes among the distant hills were dying of hunger, he might have been allowed to roam for years his natural habitat. Alas! For the famine caused the death of many, man and beast alike.

 

Crack goes the rifle! and, before the sound of the explosion reached his keen ears, he had dropped from the hill, which the toiling ants had raised, to the brown grass below. Rushing to the spot, my husband laid down his rifle and stood on the sun-baked earth admiring the splendid pair of horns which decorated the head of the fallen antelope. They were the longest he had ever seen, and their black, pointed tips were as fine as the prongs of a carving fork.

 

In a moment or two signs of life were discovered and the animal jumped to its feet, when my husband quickly gripped him by the horns. The antelope, however, drove him hither and thither and seemed to be possessed of impressive strength. "I could see," my husband said, " that he was wounded in the neck, for a little blood trickled from the hole where the bullet had made its exit. Thinking that perhaps the spinal column had been hurt, I tried to wrench the neck from side to side and break it by a whirling motion, but in vain. I then concluded that it was a flesh wound only that the animal had sustained, and that perhaps the bullet had slightly grazed a joint of the neck and had simply stunned him for a minute.

 

While these thoughts were passing through my mind he was pushing me all over the place, and I dare not let him go, for his sharp-pointed horns, of two and a half feet in length, would have torn open my body in a moment. My strength was fast failing and my arms were pained with the terrible effort, in my attempts to resist the driving motion with which he forced me to and fro. At last, when nearly worn out, I lifted up my heart to God to guide me what to do, and I felt immediately that I ought not to try to withstand his violent rushing onsets any more. I allowed him, therefore, to push me as he pleased, still holding the horns with a firm, unrelenting grasp.

 

Just then the animal drove me to the place where I had laid down my loaded rifle on the dry earth, and my foot came in contact with the stock. I knew that my opportunity had come, and with my right hand I grasped the rifle and instantly fired. The bullet raked the animal from front to rear and broke one of his hind legs, and he fell on the spot."

 

The natives had great faith in my husband's power with the rifle, and oftentimes this was seen in such over-confidence as might have led to fatal results. One day, a single rhinoceros was seen browsing along the border of a wooded stretch of country which suddenly joined a bare, undulating plain. As my husband was starting off with his gunbearer to track the animal, two other natives asked to be allowed to accompany him. On these dangerous quests he made it a rule to leave all the men behind, save the one who bore his rifle, but, on that occasion, gave his consent to the couple of extra men joining him.

 

On they went, not over the bare plain which was the nearest path, for the animal would then have smelled them long before they reached him, but making their way through bush and brake they eventually emerged on the plain beyond the great beast, with the wind in their favor. It was then found that the animal had moved a considerable distance out on to the bare earth of the plain, and was still lazily progressing in that direction. Taking advantage of a hill which intervened, the hunters eventually got in ahead of him without the animal being aware of their approach. The situation was critical, for, due to the presence of several natural earth-mounds, only the back of the huge monster and the top of the long, front horn were then visible. Crawling on their faces, they headed towards the victim, and ultimately reached a mound of earth within fifty yards of the great pachyderm, who was now sniffing the wind and seemingly somewhat aroused. While waiting for the monster to turn, so as to give chance of a fatal shot, my husband was amazed and horrified to find that one of his three followers had taken up a position on a mound of earth which rose within fifteen yards of where the beast stood, and was beckoning his master to follow. Realizing that the man's life was in imminent danger, my husband resolved to follow him, though it was a risky deed. Crawling silently along, and pushing the rifle before him as he went, he finally gained the slight elevation which brought the great brute full in view, but with heart thudding so fiercely as he lay on his face, that it was impossible to shoot.

 

Not a moment was there to wait, for the animal instantly rushed with a tremendous plunge towards them. The trigger was pulled, but to no purpose, for on he came; and in a moment the feet of the gigantic beast were planted astride my husband's prostrate form as he held the rifle. Another shot was fired which exploded underneath his abdomen, and the monster jumped clear over the earth-mound and tumbled across the plain with his tail in air. Although his carcass had been so eagerly sought by the gunbearers, they were rejoiced to see it so quickly disappear in the distance on that eventful day.

 

It soon became evident that my husband could not continue the terrible strain of work which was speedily wearing him out, nor could he supply the wants of the thousands of people around, even if he were capable of hunting all the time. Besides, the men had become so weak that they could not quite follow him to the far-away places where animals might be found, much less carry loads of beef to their lonely huts of destitution and death.

 

With ever-increasing severity the scourge of famine desolated the once smiling land. People were already dying in large numbers throughout the entire country. A third rainy season had now become due and was passing by without rain. Many of the natives became wild with despair.

 

My husband pleaded with them to give their hearts to God. Never have I in all my life seen men pay such careful attention to the Gospel of the grace of God as those throngs of subdued natives which came day by day around us. I shall ever remember the way in which our little church building was filled to overflowing with the sadly-emaciated elders of the tribe — stark-naked men — who had come together to pray to God for rain and to hear the glad news of a Savior's love. Never before had they bowed the knee to Jehovah. In former years they had gone to the rain-doctor and given to him their sheep and goats, so that he might unlock the windows of heaven and bring rain upon the thirsty earth. Now they had given up the rain-doctor in anguish, and had come in their awful distress to make their wants known to God and to hear His voice from the Book.

 

The hush which fell upon those Gospel meetings can never be expressed. Sincerity was stamped upon every face. What work God brought about by His Spirit among those aged men we know not. But they all heard the message that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Hundreds of them said that they had been led to know the Lord Jesus and had received Him as their Savior. We rejoiced with deepest thankfulness over the assurance we had from their lips that they had yielded their hearts to Christ, for, in a few short months, most of them all had passed away from earth in that weakened sleep which deadly hunger brings about.

 

The old people and the very young children died off first, as they were unable to do anything to help themselves, while the youths of both sexes and the matured men and women survived longer, being able to search for and obtain edible roots in the wilds around. Some of them hunted for the tubers of the broad-leaved maranta, while others dug up the bulbous roots of several species of grass. Tens of thousands of people died, and in some districts the inhabitants were completely wiped out. The scenes around our Mission Station were appalling. Skeletons were tottering hither and thither with every bone and joint in their body exposed to view. No matter where one went, corpses strewed the tracks. Little skeleton babies were found crying by the dead bodies of their mothers.

 

One day, a little tiny tot came toddling into our house barely able to put one foot past the other. It was not weeping — its weeping days were over, but the sad expression which rested on the thin, little face can never be forgotten. Taking the baby, I went out to see if I could find its mother. Yes! there she lay, stark and stiff, two hundred yards from our station. We took the little one in, and placed it among the fifty or sixty we were trying to save, but nine out of ten were already in the last stage of hunger and soon died.

 

The dead bodies were so numerous on the native tracks in the bush round our station, that my husband has often gone out himself, and dragged the naked bodies of men and women and hid them away from sight in the holes and crevices of the earth. Near to and around the spring from which we drew our water, there was a collection of human arms, hands, feet and heads of the bodies, which were continually being carried there by hyenas and partially eaten. From time to time we collected and buried them, so that our water, at which the hyenas quenched their thirst, might not be contaminated. Along the jungle paths throughout the country, wherever we went, dismal and disturbing scenes were ever presented to view. Sometimes we had actually to thread our way among the naked and partially-eaten corpses.

 

Amid these terrible scenes of drought, dearth, desolation, and death, which smote the landscape as with a blighting curse, there was — let me speak in deepest humility— in our little garden a fruitful crop of potatoes and Indian corn during the three seasons of drought while the famine lasted. The natives who saw it were astounded, and placed their hands upon their mouths at the sight. To them, as well as to us, it was a wonderful evidence of the amazing providence of God, who had spread our table in the wilderness.

 

At that time the railway, which the Government was building from the Coast to Lake Victoria Nyanza, was thrusting out its long arm into the interior, at the rate of half a mile a day, with the aid of the tens of thousands of Indian coolies who had been imported for the work. This section of line, which had cost the lives of so many Indians to build, for they died like flies in the early days of construction, was now used in saving the lives of tens of thousands of native natives.

 

Over the stretch of rails which had already been laid, the Government brought up large quantities of Indian rice and, opening free food depots at various forts in the country, distributed food to those wrecks of human beings who were able to reach the dispensing centers. Some reached the area of distribution too late and soon passed away, while hundreds ravenously bolted the uncooked grain and immediately died, but many thousands of lives were saved. The train which the natives had called "The great serpent," to whose coming they had blamed the famine, became, in the goodness of God, the means of their deliverance from starvation.

 

Around our station the remnant of natives still prayed to God for rain. The sun had once more become vertical over the Equatorial Belt, and the time of rain was again fully due. There was noisy joy amongst the surviving natives when the signs of the coming moisture made their appearance in the atmosphere.

 

Great banks of clouds rose higher and higher, covering the ethereal blue of the burnished firmament. The entire arch of the evening sky seemed draped in deepest mourning for the many who had died in that dire scourge which, for two long years, had swept the land and strewn the wilderness with thin and emaciated skeletons. The air was heavily charged with electricity. Repeated strokes of zigzag lightning rushed from east to west in their angular courses, writing strange hieroglyphics across the heavens, and lighting up with extreme brilliance the heavy, black, mountainous masses of accumulated moisture. These were followed by fear-instilling crashes and clattering peals of thunder, which seemed to shake the earth and tear the very vault of heaven.

 

While the sky was moving in these convulsions, down came the rain in swirling sheets, and the thirsty, cracked earth drank greedily of the deluging downpour. In the still morning, when the sun rose over the earth, the landscape seemed beaming with joy, while every bird and beast were full of delighted happiness and flitted and romped in rapturous hilarity; and the remnant of Ukamba's fierce and haughty natives were smiling at the assurance which had been given by Almighty God that a glad, new day had dawned for them, and that the backbone of the drought monster had been broken.

 

CHAPTER 21
BUSH EXPERIENCES

 

After the drenching rains had saturated the earth with moisture, the natives gathered some jointed trailing vines from the plots of makwazi or sweet potatoes, which for three seasons had been running wild without bearing a single edible root, and these they planted in some of their prepared patches in the forest. In a short time they were growing richly, and the refreshing showers and bright rays of the sun soon developed such a harvest of tubers as had not been seen for many a long day. The famine was then a memory of the past.

 

It had, however, left an permanent mark on the wild Akamba race. They had lost that haughty look and proud bearing which characterized them when they ate bread to the full and their eyes stood out in fatness and they had more than their heart could wish. They were truly humbled, and at our meetings they often expressed repentance for the life of plunder, violence and murder in which they had formerly filled their days. There was quite a new interest seen in the Gospel message, and hope revived in our hearts of yet seeing many sheaves ingathered after the severe plowing and work of long pioneering years.

 

When food became once more plentiful, all the boys and girls who had been dependent upon us were allowed to return home to their nearest friends who had survived after the famine. We took this step after careful thought, knowing well the character of the Akamba. If we had continued to keep these young people in our charge as orphans, or in any way restrained their departure from us, the natives would have accused us of keeping slaves, or at least of taking valuable property, which, according to Kikamba custom, should fall into the possession of the nearest surviving male relative. We could have had hundreds of young people under our control, had it not been for the fact that we knew the tribe as a whole would be prejudiced against Christian Missionaries if we had so acted. In the broad interests of Christ's kingdom and of the Akamba people, we therefore refrained from exciting any bad feelings by continuing to hold control over any of those whose lives we had been able in the providence of God to save.

 

It was marvelous how the natives took to wearing a piece of cloth after the famine had passed by. During the previous years, beads and wire alone were in request, and we had just received a large supply of these before the dearth came, and our storeroom was well stocked with the usual varieties. These lay there for two years unsought by a single native. In fact, during that terrible time of trial, no native would have accepted a gift of all the valuable beads and wire we had in stock, which had cost a large sum of money in transport alone. The corpses of thousands of men and women were lying about the bush throughout the country, still covered with wire and beads, and yet no native would have attempted to touch these trinkets. Nor did they think it worth their while to lift from the ground the huge and valuable hip ornaments of kiketi beads, of which starving women in their dying agonies had unburdened themselves, throwing them into the jungle. I often thought so shall it be one day with some of our European sisters who now adorn their bodies to profusion with costly jewels and extravagant clothing. They too shall throw aside in disgust all their foolish things as unworthy of a thought or wish: while those women who are born of God and clothed in Christ’s righteousness whose adornment is the hidden man of the heart" — the day of their departure will be the day of their coronation, when they shall awake in His likeness.

 

When the famine passed by our entire stock of barter goods was as useless to us as if the storeroom had been filled with common rocks from the neighboring stream. Calico alone was then in demand. The men did not use it at all as a covering in the day time, but fringing the ends to a fingers length, they plastered the cloth on both sides with an unctuous mixture of oil and red earth, and. doubling it into a long fold of about four or five inches wide, they threw it over their neck and allowed it to hang down from their shoulders in front, like surplice bands. At night-time, when lying out during periods of hunting or travel, they would envelope themselves in the partially air and waterproof covering which shielded their bodies from the lowered temperature.

 

Shortly after the famine, one of our little boys was brought to the verge of the grave through a sickness of dysenteric fever. My husband and I had been laid low with attacks of fever so frequently that we had become used to them as a natural part of our life in tropical Africa. But apart from the terrible and excruciating agony suffered during the time of the plague of jiggers, our children had enjoyed wonderfully good health. Everything that my husband could do for the child had been done, and for many days and nights we watched by his bed while at the very point of death. When it seemed as if the boy could not recover and that the end was near, it pleased the Lord to stop the course of the disease and raise him up.

 

When recovered and strong enough to mount a donkey, he accompanied us on some of our itinerating tours. On one of these, when we were placed in a position of great danger, he acted with considerable calm under very hard conditions.

 

Towards the end of a hard day's march my husband and I were passing along a narrow native pathway with a caravan of porters, while our little boy rode before me on his donkey. As we were moving slowly forward in single file my husband, who was always keeping a sharp lookout for the safety of the caravan, saw some distance ahead of us a large number of vultures, which were devouring the remains of some carcass which had evidently been brought to earth by a lion. When we reached the place we found the huge, keen-eyed vultures greedily feeding in a cluster, about twenty yards from the path we were pursuing. My husband left the track, saying to me that he was going over to see what species of animal had been killed.

 

As he walked towards the flock of bare-necked, rapacious birds, whose continually moving feathers were glistening in the bright sun, he felt his eyes somewhat dazzled by the glimmer, and, just as he turned his head to one side to rest them for a moment, there arose before his feet — not more than three yards away — an immense lion who seemed desperately angry and bowled out a deep, rumbling growl.

 

My husband, having nothing in his hand, was transfixed for the moment, and I and my little boy, who reined in his donkey, stood in awe and blank amazement, but neither of us spoke a word. Our men seemed utterly confused at the situation. To raise any fuss or noise would certainly have meant the immediate death of my husband and probably of others in our party.

The infuriated beast, who was becoming more angry at every moment, switching his tufted tail from side to side, seemed about to spring, but my husband kept his position as if he were an immovable statue, with his eyes sternly fixed upon the lion.

 

Seeing him cautiously put his hand behind his back as if feeling for something, I whispered to the man near to me to take the rifle to the Bwana. He looked amazed at the request, but immediately made his way there, rifle in hand, seeking to hide himself from the lion's view behind the figure of my husband. The suspense grew more intense with every moment. I sought in prayer the aid of my loving Heavenly Father, and momentarily the lion moved two or three steps away but turned again as if loath to leave the intruder, whose relentless gaze was still fixed upon the King of Beasts. Just before the native reached the spot the great feline again moved slowly away, though stopping now and again and looking back as if still inclined to charge. My husband was too excited to shoot with precision, and, fearing he might only wound him and thus hazard the lives of the whole caravan, he allowed the huge lion to pass on unmolested.

 

If my husband had lost his nerve or withdrawn from the lion his fixed gaze or assumed any offensive attitude, then, humanly speaking, he would have been smitten to earth and mortally mauled in a moment. The lion's courage, which knows no dread and heeds no repulse, can only be subdued, under the providence of Almighty God, by exercising the power that rests in the human eye which was bestowed upon man by the Omniscient Creator. Even then, without God’s help, such an encounter can be deadly.

 

Proceeding for several hours with our tired and hungry porters through the rolling wilds of some wooded jungle, we were eager of getting some meat for the camp, as on our shoulders rested the responsibility of the commissariat department, but nothing fit for the pot came within view. The caravan was skirting the thick, dense, and almost impassable growth which sprung from the banks of a river bed. The country around was fairly well wooded with huge, overspreading trees which studded the landscape, and underneath these great umbrella acacias the ground was dotted with a scrubby undergrowth which blocked the vision. Along the way the spoor of pachyderms had been seen, and several rhinoceros bowers or resting-places were passed in which these gigantic, solitude-loving animals enjoyed their daily rest. We were therefore hopeful that some of them might be found.

 

Hark! What is that crackling, rustling noise in the dry, dense bush? Some mammoth beast must be emerging from his lair! Every eye was turned towards the place from which the sound emanated, and the gunbearer exclaimed in an agony of despair, "Bwana! Tazama! Mabuzya manene maili mekuuka kwitu!" (Sir! Look! Two huge rhinoceroses are coming for us!) and no sooner were the words uttered than every native was ready to flee for his life except the gunbearer.

 

My husband saw within ten yards of him the two enormous rhinos, charging furiously unto the point of the rifle which he had just lifted. There was not the slightest chance of shooting any vulnerable part of the infuriated animals, for they came rushing with lowered head, which blocked any aim for the heart and lungs, while the two huge horns which mounted their prominent head shielded the brain. Within six yards of the spot where my husband stood, a thick, leafless bush rose out of the dry earth; and, as the beasts avoided this in their onward rush, they swerved a little, and just at that moment he got a side shot at the heart of one of them, who immediately fell, turning right over on his back with his four pillar-like legs straight up in air. The second continued his course a few yards beyond the fallen beast, and then turned right round to see what had become of his mate, when three well-directed shots, as quickly fired as the trigger could be pulled, laid him low within a short distance of his dead companion.

 

Our camp was then pitched underneath a giant tree whose umbrageous limbs stretched out over a wide area. Lions were very numerous in that part of the bush, and it was necessary to keep up large fires during the night. Huge piles of dry, fallen timber were gathered in heaps around the camp.

 

In the fading hours of evening, our native porters are busy handling their crude iron blades in cutting up the meat, and whittling sticks on which they will soon roast it over the red-hot embers of the fires.

 

How weird the camp looks when twilight is about to be swallowed up by the oncoming darkness. The naked forms of the dusky natives are seen moving with soft, silent footsteps over the grassy turf, making preparations for the approaching night. Sounds ring out on the still atmosphere of the tropical evening which are never heard throughout the hours of sunshine. Insects and reptiles that are inactive, and birds and animals that are dormant during the day, now begin to call and whistle and chirp and laugh and growl and roar.

 

As the gloaming light vanishes, and it vanishes very rapidly on the equator, the great, rolling vegetation around assumes fantastic and phantom-like forms. The smoke of the kindling campfires now curls underneath the spreading trees, and soon the red blaze breaks forth from the piles of dry wood, and the flame leaps higher and higher until the surrounding forest is transformed by the ruddy light.

 

On the ground, creeping forms that would delight the heart of any eager naturalist buzz and croak and hum. The hyena howls with a monotonous dismal tone. The jackal gives forth his peculiar and invariable cry of "Em-bay-wa," always accenting and prolonging the first syllable. Zebra chuckle with a whinnying giggle. Leopards grunt; and a sound which drowns and overwhelms every other sound is the bellowing sound of the King of Beasts, which rolls throughout the forest, and lends to the tropical night its greatest mysterious enchantment.

 

Beyond the lighted circle of our encampment everything is wrapped in invisible blackness, where roam the prowling animals of the forest. Rhinos crash through the intertwining creepers and matted bush in their night-time wanderings. The experienced traveler is aware of the rapidity with which one of these pachyderms may plunge into the heart of the camp, and of the stealthy steps with which the great lions approach, when careless watchers allow the fires to get low or go out.

 

As we retire to rest the guards pitch some fresh logs of wood upon the flickering flames, and showers of sparks rise up to meet the twinkling stars, which sparkle in the midnight sky. With the dawning of the morning the work of a new day has begun, and we are off through the long grass, which is heavily covered with the dew of the night. Our clothing is soon drenched right up to the waist, but the red ball, which is causing the fragments of light cloud that hang over the eastern horizon to blush, will, in a short space of time, chase away every trace of moisture from the dew-covered grass. When these diamonds of the morning have disappeared in the heated atmosphere, our garments too will be comfortably dry.

 

On we march through thrilling scenes of animated nature. Antelopes of many species pasture and sport together in large numbers among the scattered bushes which dot the plain. Sleek-coated and beautifully marked gazelles strut along in stately procession, led by half a dozen bucks, whose heads are decorated with heavy and graceful horns. Three or four stray giraffe move across the landscape with their heads towering above the acacias, from which they lop their food. On one hand, hundreds of zebra with their beautiful glittering stripes stand out enchantingly against the dark green plant life of the clumps of vegetation which border their pasture ground. The scene is flanked on the other side by a countless herd of playful and frolicsome wildebeest with their long, shaggy manes and frontal tufts, which they manage to pitch from side to side in a whimsical and, indeed, odd manner.

 

One could watch for hours with pleasure and profit these charming animals which adorn the solitudes of the wilderness. From them our thoughts go up to the beneficent Creator upon whose bounty they exist. "The eyes of them all wait upon Thee and Thou givest them their food in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."

 

Entering a low, depressed valley, we were soon entangled in thick growth, through which it was difficult to make much progress. There were no tracks except those of rhinoceroses, and these bulky inhabitants of the forest on their browsing rambles often travel in a circle, so that the passages they had beaten through the bush were not of much use to us. Our course was directed towards a populated tract of country, which we desired to reach before sundown. Sometimes we came to impassable barriers in the shape of deep gullies, in which wild boars rolled and reveled to their hearts' content. Again we marched right up to the brink of a deep and steep ravine, where monkeys swayed and swung from tree to tree.

 

Changing our direction, we skirted these natural obstructions and pushed forward towards our goal. Although it was several hours past midday, the red sun beamed in the heavens in all his equatorial splendor and power, and the hot air was so sultry and oppressive that we could not overcome the feeling of weariness and sleepiness, which had been induced by the relaxing heat and the exertions of the march.

 

While resting for some time in the shade of the forest trees, one of our natives, who had climbed a little hill that rose suddenly from the surface of the wooded area on which we rested, beckoned to the Bwana to come to him, while meantime he fell flat on his face to earth. Thinking that the man had seen some lions, for we were in the midst of a lion-infested district, my husband clutched his rifle and went forward towards the mound on which the native lay. Removing his helmet, he crawled up the elevated surface of the hill pushing his rifle before him; and when the eye gained the top he saw, not more than a hundred yards beyond, a herd of boars wallowing in a luxurious, lily-covered swamp, while their white, curved tusks gleamed in the bright sunlight. With their flat-disked snouts they delved underneath the rich-tinted flowers, and gleefully splashed one another with mud, stumbling and floundering in swinish joy.

 

My husband thought the men would like a change of food, and, selecting a sturdy boar who turned his jowl towards the rifle, he covered him and fired. When the animal dropped there was an exciting and lively scene. In the stampede which followed the crack of the rifle, every pig of the troop, with tail high in air, sought to get ahead of every other pig in the terrible rush for cover and safety. Seized with fright and overcome with terror, they jostled against one another in their headlong and hasty flight, and never stopped till the bush covered every hog from our view.

 

When our men had rested their weary limbs, and regaled themselves with the pork chops which they had roasted over the fire, we started out in the cool of the evening to reach the human habitations which lay beyond the wooded wilderness. Every effort was put forth to accomplish our projects, for we encountered, with alarming frequency, the spoor of lions and rhinoceroses, while the jungle was so thick that there was no opportunity of becoming aware of what lurked but a few yards from our footsteps.

 

We had our Muscat donkeys with us, but only on short stretches could I ride, as it was impossible in places to mount the animal without getting torn and lacerated by the intertwining branches, so that a good part of our long journey had to be done on foot. Our little son was put on a carrying-chair, and it was with the greatest difficulty at times that the carriers could manage to pull it through the dense bush.

 

When the sun set we were still within a good many miles of our destination, and, as the blanket of night fell around us, we were much uncomfortable in our attempts to press forward. A few of the men were almost paralyzed with fear, and at every sound they were ready to pitch down their loads and give themselves up to fear. We had our candle lantern lighted, but this was only a safeguard against carnivores to the men in front, while, to those in the rear, it only made the darkness seem still more dense and offered them very little assurance of protection. The thick jungle was intersected, at intervals, with long, narrow swamps of about fifteen to twenty feet wide. What length they were we knew not. Often we tried to run parallel with them, in the hope that we might find their longitudinal bounds and so avoid having to cross the marsh, but we were doomed to disappointment every time.

 

It was a difficult task to cross these narrow bogs, for our men sunk in them at times over the knee; and on more than one occasion we had to pull out bodily our Muscat steeds, who got implanted in the soft vegetation. The men usually carried my son in his chair, and, leaving him on the further bank, came back for me, but on one occasion the forward man sank so deeply that it was with great difficulty he was able to struggle to the opposite bank, leaving me and the chair in the middle of the swamp. The man in the rear of the chair attempted to take me on his shoulder, and as he did so, he seemed in the darkness of the night to disappear underneath me, and left me floundering in the mud. In some way he reached the other side, for ultimately the two men caught hold of me and hauled me out of the spongy mire. My husband was taken across in the same manner as myself, but, being heavier than he, I fared much worse, and we were both spattered with muddy slime.

On we pressed, hoping still to emerge from the thick jungle and camp on the pathway ahead, but in the pitch darkness we and our men were continually stumbling, because of the variation of the surface of the ground.

 

Due to the large number of rhinoceroses which ranged the bush, and carnivores being especially abundant in that particular district, we thought it wiser to pitch camp at once than to run the risk of going on any further. Our cook had already dropped by the way with fear, thinking every moment that one of the many lions which prowled in the vicinity might spring upon him.

 

Striking a little bit of ground where there were no trees blocking our path, we gave orders for a fire to be kindled. It was impossible, in the black darkness of the night, for the men to procure firewood without running considerable risk to their lives. A little grass, however, was first lighted, and then some bramble and dry twigs were added to the flames; and as the surrounding blackness was gradually lighted the increasing light, large, dry limbs of fallen trees were obtained, and soon there was a roaring fire, around which the men gathered in joy after their difficult and dangerous experiences.

 

The tent was pitched, and underneath the natural, leafy bowers of the jungle additional fires were made, and the meat which had been brought to camp was soon frizzling over the coals. While the men were enjoying their evening rest, in the comparative security which was furnished by the blazing fires, the forest was echoing with the various sounds of the night animals and carnivorous birds. The many species of owls add considerably to the volume of night-time noise, and these have often disturbed my needed rest with their penetrating and persistent hooting. Some of their notes are so deep and sad as to make the lonely forest weep with sheer melancholy, while others shriek and hiss and scream until midnight arrives with their noisy clamor. There goes the most monotonous note of all, as it sounds my African name in loud but mournful tempo, "Beebee! Beebee! Beebee!"

 

As we start out in the early dawn, tortoises of various shades and coloring are busily engaged feeding upon the tender, dew-covered plants of the morning. Sometimes our men toss them over with their feet, when they instantly withdraw their head and limbs underneath their beautifully-tinted armor plates. So hard is their shell, that even the powerful tusks of a hyena cannot crush it, although these scavengers freely chew the bones of the rhinoceros.

 

Along the river bank large water tortoises lurk and lay their eggs, burying them in the sand after the manner of the crocodile. Some of these are very ravenous reptiles and live primarily on flesh and fish.

 

As we move along, flocks of guinea fowl and shy bustards seek to get out of our path. Yonder stalks the secretary bird with his feather behind his ear. How bold and stately is his step! The native tribes of the interior almost worship this bird, for with great dexterity he accomplishes daily a feat which very few natives would ever attempt, that of killing a snake. Sometimes he will strike the deadly serpent on the head with his beak and then greedily eat it. If the snake is very alert and too difficult to conquer, the secretary will rise up about twenty feet in air and swoop down upon the reptile with lightning speed, catch it by the neck in his beak, and soaring to a great height will let it fall to earth, and then, following it, will feast upon it.

 

Reaching the goal of our journey very early in the day, we pitched our tent among the natives of the district. In a short time there was a fairly large gathering around us, and we told them to go and bring all their friends as we had some glad news to deliver to them. Soon we had a large audience, mostly of men of mature age, for the women were busy in the gardens at that time of day.

 

We were greatly struck with the vast change which had passed over the people of the district, since my husband had delivered his former message in that part of the country. They were now quite eager to hear the message of God's love to them, as manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ. They listened as men who had been brought to the brink of the grave, for every individual in that crowd had recently been in the agonizing grasp of the great and terrible famine.

 

God alone knows what the harvest may be; but we believe that the hills and valleys of that country shall soon echo with the praises of men and women who have rejoiced in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

 

Continuing our homeward course, we struck out over a bare plain, which terminated in sparsely-wooded glades, within several miles of, and about one thousand feet below, our Mission Station. There on that treeless expanse, two Europeans, whom we knew intimately, had recently lost their lives through meeting with lions. The first was Captain Godfrey, who had been sent out by the Government in command of some native soldiers. My husband was very much friends with him, as he had helped to save his life one day, when he had fallen seriously ill in the jungle and was unable to move.

 

The Captain, who had several soldiers with him, was out shooting, and seeing a lion in the distance he immediately fired at it, hitting it well but not giving it a fatal stroke. The lion immediately charged, and Captain Godfrey was able to send another bullet through the heart. The fierce feline, however, came forward with a plunge, and caught the European by the centre of the body in his huge jaws, and carried him away. The soldiers who were alongside the Captain when he was caught, started striking the lion on the head with the butt-ends of their rifles, as they were afraid to shoot, fearing they might hit their officer. Dropping the Captain out of his mouth, the lion jumped upon one of the native soldiers and mauled him, when one of his comrades fired, shooting the fierce animal through the brain. It was then found that Captain Godfrey was beyond hope, as the infuriated beast had crunched through his vitals at the first bite.

 

The second gentleman who lost his life on the same plain was a Mr. Lucas, who, with two other men, were mounted upon horses. While riding along, Lucas found that he was approaching a lioness, and, raising his rifle from the saddle, he fired at the animal and wounded her severely. All the same, she immediately charged and leaping upon the horse, brought him and his rider instantly to the ground. The feline then let go the horse and caught Lucas, who in a moment of time was torn and lacerated in a frightful manner. One of his friends shot the lioness, tossing her over, but already her deadly work had been done and poor Mr. Lucas died.

 

Many others have since lost their lives on the same bare plateau, and, just as these notes are being put together for this book, there comes the news that Mr. Grey, the brother of our Foreign Secretary, has fallen a victim to one of the lions of this carnivore infested plain.

 

On one occasion, while passing along a good way ahead of the caravan and quite unarmed, my husband had a wonderful and thrilling experience. He saw in the dim distance an animal coming trotting towards him, which from its size he at first took to be a young rhinoceros. As it approached nearer to him, however, he could see its long mane shaking with every movement of its body and he realized that it was an immense lion, the largest he had ever seen in the wilds of Africa. When the lion got within about sixty yards of my husband he ceased to trot, and then walked towards him in an angry mood, lashing the air with his tufted tail. On came the ferocious-looking monster with steady and determined step, which increased by one hundred-fold the fears which already had found a place in my husband's heart. His great proportions were more truly understood as he strode nearer, with his huge shoulder-blades moving the mane up and down at every tread of his powerful paws. My husband fixed his eyes steadily upon him, as every footfall brought him more immediately near; and raising up his heart to God, he prayed for that protection which had been so often granted to him in the hour of need.

 

Some yards away from the place where my husband stood, there rose from the bare plain a solitary bush of wait-a-bit thorn. When the lion reached this shrub he paused behind it, hiding his face from view, while his great loins were fully visible. In one or two minutes' time he turned and walked away, leaving my husband standing gazing at his retreating form.

 

Those who are only familiar with the imperfectly developed lions, which from their infantile cubhood have been brought up with broken spirits, behind iron bars, or within caged enclosures, where exercise has been impossible and the conditions of existence so contrary to the laws of nature, cannot possibly form a correct idea of the huge size and mighty energy of a mature lion of the forest wilds, who is daily obliged to range over scores of miles of jungle growth ere he has an opportunity of pouncing upon his very watchful prey.

 

With one blow of that strong, sinewy paw that has never been shackled or enslaved in a zoo, he can with the greatest ease throw over a sturdy zebra, or, seizing a powerful wildebeest by the throat in his teeth, shortly drag him to the earth. My husband has seen the King of Beasts carry off an animal of six hundred pounds' weight in his jaws, and the burden seemed no more to him than a rat would be to a dog. At times, with a terrific and incredible spring of twenty-five feet, he will throw himself upon the prey, knocking it flat to the ground, when he tears open the abdomen with his mighty claws, and with one stroke rakes out the vitals.

 

As the caravan proceeded on its way over some deep earth rifts, the sides of which were covered with great, weather-beaten boulders, we struck a long, flat strip of grassy land which ran for a great distance between two of these clefts. Along this stretch of green, lush grass our porters made their homeward way, until one of them called attention to a rhinoceros and her calf, which were browsing some distance ahead. We were anxious to get home that evening, and did not wish to shoot any more meat for our men, as it would prevent us reaching the Mission Station that night.

 

The wind was blowing strongly from us towards the rhinoceros, and already she was aware of our presence. This was seen by the way she rushed to and fro, sometimes charging towards us, and again rushing back for her calf. One thing was certain, she was not likely to enter the deep ravine on either side, whose precipitous slopes were bestrewn in great confusion with huge blocks of stone, for the feet of the pachyderms can get no hold upon a rocky surface, and they never risk situations of that nature.

 

The enraged animal, who was desperately anxious to protect her young, must either charge towards us or retire from off the narrow, confined plateau. She seemed dubious as to which way she ought to adopt. I suppose she was anxious to charge and scatter her human foes to the winds, but then what about her baby? She must vigilantly guard it from danger.

 

Our men had already thrown down their loads, and were anxiously waiting the course of events, while my husband scanned through his field glasses the movements of the animal, who was then about four hundred and fifty yards distant.

 

In another moment the die was cast, and the huge beast had decided to make straight for us. She first started at a walking pace, with head erect, sniffing the air, and then broke into a determined charge. Dropping the glasses, my husband seized his rifle; and asking the gunbearer to stand in front of him, he leaned the weapon upon the native's shoulder to wait an opportune moment for pulling the trigger. The beast immediately whirled her head around to see if the baby was following, when he covered her neck and fired. She instantly dropped.

 

Once more the glasses were used, but no trace of movement could be discerned save that the baby trotted up to her side. There she lay like a mass of black rock with her young one standing by. We could not believe that she was dead, as we thought the distance too great to accomplish so much with a small rifle, for the animal was fully four hundred yards away.

 

Gradually approaching the fallen animal, my husband fired at the carcass, but there was no response. He forthwith sent his men to catch the baby rhino, who charged them gallantly, with the result that every man fled helter-skelter from the scene. Inasmuch as the calf could not survive without his mother, he was brought to earth with a bullet.

 

We left the majority of the porters to camp beside the meat, while we, with a smaller number of men, reached the station that evening, and sent a crowd of willing natives the following morning to carry the flesh to the hearths of their wives and children among the Ukamba hills.

 

CHAPTER 22
ANOTHER JOURNEY TO THE SEA AND ITS SEQUEL

 

While engaged in the busy work of the Station, we learned that a shipment of supplies and other necessities, which had been ordered from London, was lying at the Coast; but that adequate caravan men could not be gathered. So it was necessary for my husband to take a company of men down country and bring up the loads himself.

 

Many would have shrunk from such an adventure after the sad experiences of the former expedition, when he lost five of his men and was on the very verge of forfeiting his own life. The necessities of the situation, however, led him to encounter willingly the risks of the dangerous project once again. Although suffering occasionally from attacks of fever, yet without much loss of time he got the caravan together; and, leaving with me for the work of the Station a number of natives of mixed tribal descent, including Kikuyu and Masai, he departed.

 

It was not without considerable worries that I saw my husband leave the Station, as the long, dry season of five months' duration was drawing to its close, and I knew that water would be difficult to obtain on the way.

 

One bright ray illumined the dark view ahead of him, and that was the fact that the Uganda railway had already thrown its dual line of metal rails across the terrible desert of Taru, and had stretched forth its arm over the dry, arid and treacherous country through which the Voi and Tsavo flowed; and therefore the mileage of wilderness to be covered by the slow marching of human feet had been greatly reduced. I had considerable doubts and apprehensions regarding the men now on the station. Most of them were new to me. The Kikuyu and Masai had begun to come to us freely, and my husband encouraged these natives, as he was anxious they should hear the message of salvation and carry the news back to their own country. He gave them work, and rewarded them with the barter goods which were wanted within their borders. They were inexperienced and difficult to deal with. Some of the Kikuyu had never seen a European before. The idea of having to obey a woman, even though she had a pale face, tickled them immensely.

 

In the house was a huge spear which had been obtained from a Masai warrior, and it had somehow got circulated in their camp that if they misbehaved themselves in any way I would use this big weapon upon them. In one sense I was glad that they feared me, but I did not like the idea of them thinking that I would use such a long, sharp blade on any human being. Nevertheless, they called me "Kitumo," which signifies "The Great Spear."

 

It was quite a privilege to me to have the opportunity of delivering to them the simple message of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Soon they got tired of working, and, having received their wages in barter goods, they started off to their own country. It is useless to expect children of the wilds, whose lives are spent in continual roaming and wandering, to remain in one place any length of time. A good deal of work had to be done in my husband's absence, and it was necessary to get materials to build another hut. Trees had to be cut from the forest and grass pulled for thatching, and the fencing of the garden repaired, as wild animals were destroying the contents. Firewood, too, had to be cut and stored up for the long, rainy season.

 

Another batch of Kikuyu natives came across the plain who were anxious to live with us for a month, and I accepted these men for work, although the difficulty of dealing with them seemed a greater trial than I was able to bear. In the homeland one seems to think that murderers are beyond all hope of reclamation, and few would care to travel with them even for half an hour in a railway carriage, or walk the street with one on a dark night. Yet every one of these men had taken human life. In fact, when we arrived in the country among these tribes, it would have been difficult to find a full-grown man who had not shed the blood of a brother native. The warriors of the Akamba, Kikuyu and Masai were then wholly busy in violent and murdering exploits.

 

Few can realize what a strain it is upon the nerves to dwell for the greater part of one's life with the wild tribes among an often barbaric way of life. To spend one's time with them as my husband has done, to reduce their language to writing, to enter into their joys and sorrows, their hopes and fears, to lie out with them in the bush night after night, to be aware of their inexpressibly low and corrupt life, and, amidst it all, to bring up a family of young children, is a duty from which most people might well turn away. However, apart from the joy which obedience to the Savior's command brings to every faithful heart, there has been the great compensation of the conscious presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Lo! I am with you always" — with us even when our house is in the very presence of Satan's throne. One must also remember that in ancient Europe and elsewhere in the world the same barbarism was and is still exhibited. The heart of man apart from Christ is the same in the jungle as it is in the city. The children and I rejoiced when we received a letter from my husband written at the Kibwezi Mission. He had then reached within ten miles of railhead, the point to which the rails had already been laid. He had suffered a good deal from malarial fever and lack of water. The letter brought to us the following news: —

 

My dear Rachel,

I hope this letter will find you and my dear little children in good health and everything going on all right around the station. I am fairly well just now, although the malarial fever held me in its grip nearly all the way down.

 

I must first give you a word or two about our journey. You remember I was feeling a little feverish the day I left you. We camped that evening in the dip beyond Manyani, and I had quite severe fever that night. Before midnight my pyjamas were drenched with feverish perspiration.

 

In the morning I had the usual worn-out feeling which follows A night of fever, but started on my journey as dawn was breaking, with the fever still in my body. On that day we reached Mukungani, getting there about four o'clock in the afternoon.

The following morning we were off before daylight, ere the leopards had returned to their lairs, and went on right through Kilungu, camping at the far end of the river through which you and I waded when on our way up country. The river is now dried up, and we suffered from intense thirst: we had to dig a deep hole in the sandy bed before we could get enough dirty liquid with which to cook our food. The sun was scorching and the wind from the dry, parched bush seemed as if coming from an oven, and was very trying both to the men and myself. Fever still in my body, and no appetite for anything. I took fifteen grains of quinine every day, but all to no purpose. I am losing my faith in quinine absolutely.

 

The next day we passed the beautiful valley of the N'dange river. You remember the terrific flow of water which swept over its rocky bed when we first encamped on its banks. You could not conceive the appearance of that bed now — only a few holes here and there, in which there is a little muddy water all full of and covered with green vegetable matter.

 

At N'gurungani camp, in the wilderness beyond N'dange where we slept, the water was actually thick, of a pale yellow color like pea soup, and full of grubs. We had to put it through a piece of calico before boiling it. There I had another severe attack of fever but got over it all right and started on the march the next morning. We came on past Kiboko and Mekindu, covering about thirty-five miles in one day, and getting in here very tired, between eight and nine o'clock.

 

Mr. Watson was very kind to me. We had some supper together, and I got to rest in my tent at about eleven. No fever last night, for which I praise God. Mr. Watson gave me very sad news concerning those who were helping him in the work. He came down hurriedly from Kikuyu, where they are making a new station, having heard that Dr. Wilson was dead and that Lundy was dying. Poor Wilson had gone down from Kibwezi to Mtoto-wa-N'dee to bring up some loads, and while there he was stricken with hematuric fever, and was dead in thirty-six hours. After Wilson's death, Lundy proceeded to bring up the loads for which Wilson had set out, and he too was also smitten with the same fever, and was sent down to the railway hospital-camp at Voi. He got a little better, and was then sent on by rail to the Coast, and put on board a boat for home.

Recently there have been a good many deaths down here among the Europeans who have been sent out to superintend the building of the railway, and they have had great trouble with lions. They do not yet know much about the power of these beasts, nor how to guard against their nightly incursions. Neither Lundy nor Watson saw Wilson after he left to bring up the loads. He had died and was buried by the railway people, before either of them knew anything of what had happened. It was a very sudden call for dear Wilson.

 

Do not send any letters down country. Watson was in a great state because he could not get his letters here. The collector would not give them to him because the bag was addressed to Kikuyu. His letters therefore were sent on to Kikuyu and then had to be returned to Kibwezi. The poor fellow was terribly anxious to see his news from home.

 

They are getting on with the railway very quickly, but the Indian coolies who have been imported for the work are said to be dying in large numbers, and the railway bank is flanked with graves. Hoping that you are well, and praying God's gracious blessing upon you and our dear little children, I say good-bye for the present.

 

With much love, Stuart.

 

It was sad to hear of the tragedy which had befallen the Mission of the Church of Scotland at Kibwezi. The first superintendent, Dr. Charters, with his friend Mr. Colquhoun, had lost their lives under dreadful circumstances. The doctor and his companion had gone out with a native following to shoot some meat, and having dropped an antelope, they left their men to cut up the carcass and carry it to camp. The hunters were also to proceed there by an indirect path, on which they might have the opportunity of getting another shot.

 

The porters completed their task and waited all the evening but no Bwana came. They searched the district, but could not find any trace of the Europeans. Then returning to the Mission station at Kibwezi, they told their story. Mr. Patterson, who was on the station, went out with a band of men and for many days made a diligent search, ranging the whole district and exploring every retreat and nook of the surrounding forest; but not the slightest clue was discovered, nor was the mystery of their death ever solved.

 

In all probability the two Europeans were met by a prowling band of Masai, who felled them to earth, and thrust their bodies into some of the large, animal burrows frequently met with in the forest, and then hid every mark and evidence of their vile deed.

 

My husband and his men were able to board a construction train near to a place named Masongoleni and, reaching the Coast and securing the loads, they came back by another heavily-laden trail of cars, and arrived at the same advanced point at railhead in a period of four days.

 

The sun was low in the heavens when the panting engine was brought to a standstill at the end of the rails in the jungle. The loads were taken out and regulated, and a short march into the wilds was begun, in order to stretch the limbs of the porters and prepare them for the journey up country, as they were quite stiff and cramped after the long period of confinement in the wilderness train, which sometimes attained the speed of eight to ten miles per hour.

 

The natives were in no way amazed at their progression through the country on wheels, headed by a puffing fire monster engine. It takes a great deal to startle the acute, cool and calculating Bantu tribes of the East Equatorial Regions. If today an airplane dropped down from the air into the wilds, where these natives flit among the bushes with poisoned arrow or glittering spear, they would greet its arrival with sheer disinterest, so self-possessed are these naked sons of the forest.

 

An hour's march from the end of the two bright lines of rail which were piercing the jungle, the porters camped for the night. My husband was anxious to go forward that evening some distance further inland, to the Kibwezi Mission, to have an hour's Christian companionship with Mr. Watson, but the porters were unable to march any further with their heavy loads, as darkness was already fast approaching. He himself, however, could not resist the temptation to proceed to the Mission Station, and, leaving the porters under the charge of his headman and asking them to follow him early in the morning, he started alone on his night tramp to Kibwezi with a walking-stick in his hand. He left his only rifle with the chief of the caravan, to enable him to guard the camp against the invasion of wild beasts.

 

Before setting out on the usual winding caravan track through the thick bush, he had heard that the railway bank was already made for the greater part of the way to Kibwezi, and almost ready to receive the sleepers. Thinking that the broad, straight path of the new railway might be more easily followed than the narrow, winding track through the jungle, my husband chose the former, and during the first few miles made considerable progress, though the night was dark as can be.

 

Sometimes the bank seemed only about two feet higher than the surface of the surrounding forest, and again, in passing over depressions, it rose to a considerable altitude. Hyenas were prowling about in great numbers, making the forest ring with their monotonous growl. They begin in a low, sustained, humming tone with their lips tight together, and then, with an explosive sound from a suddenly expanded mouth, they end abruptly on a high key.

 

Panthers were much in evidence, and sometimes their short, choppy grunt was heard in alarming nearness to my husband's footsteps; and then for the first time he felt keenly his dangerous position, and wished he had kept his rifle.

 

While he was tripping along in the dense darkness at a quick rate, he felt all at once as if he were stepping into air, and immediately found himself rolling down a steep mound of soft earth, which was probably fifty feet deep. Only when he reached the bottom and got to his feet again did he realize how matters stood and the cause of his fall. The railway embankment ran near to the centre of a deep gully in the forest, and there abruptly terminated at the deepest part, where a bridge was to be built to cross the waterway.

 

Scrambling through the thick bushes which fringed the gorge, he sought on hands and feet to climb the steep side of the ground on the other side. The sandy side of the embankment had not become stable or compact, and the footsteps sank twelve inches or more in the loose, open earth. He at last reached the top in a breathless condition, and the roar of a lion in the jungle below was not very reassuring.

 

When this reverberating bellow sounded out in the solitude of the night in that lonely forest its thrilling effect was indescribable. Three times it was repeated with ever-increasing volume, making the gully echo, and then the serenade ended with a few low, penetrating grunts.

 

Continuing along the bank, my husband was careful to use his stick, lest he might drop once again into space and turn a few more somersaults in the darkness. He had not traveled far when he came to another and yet another ravine yet to be bridged, and had to climb down and then up repeatedly. Deeply he regretted that he had not taken the ordinary, winding, caravan track through the jungle; but in the blackness of the night there was no other course to take than to go along the way in which the detached earth banks led where the railway was being built.

 

After about three hours' plodding march, the ridge of the newly-made line ran across an elevated plateau, where two great circles of blazing lights could be seen in the forest, on either side of the railway bank, but each of them removed from it by about the space of half a mile. My husband knew that these flaring flames rose from the camp fires of the Indians, who were engaged in raising the earthworks of the railway, and he was glad to be within a mile at least of the resting place of human beings and see the lonely jungle glowing with their blazing fires.

 

The dazzling light, however, which leaped high from their camp logs only made the dense blackness of night seem even darker on the railway bank, and made it necessary to feel for every step of the way. My husband had picked up a dry sapling of seven or eight feet in length, and, with the aid of this small pole and his walking-stick, he managed to determine if he was too near the side of the bank, or if there was any object or dip immediately in front of him.

 

Thus proceeding on his unsafe way, he was startled to find an animal plunging across the line a few yards behind him. As there was neither growl nor grunt nor roar, he had no means of knowing what danger lurked by his side. Stopping for a moment to listen with intent, so that he might discern the species of animal which came with such a headlong rush into such close quarters, he could hear one low grunt which betrayed the presence of a sly leopard. No more wily beast could hunt for human prey, for they often rush on ahead, as if they were seeking to flee, and then turning back on their tracks, they lie in wait to spring suddenly upon the unsuspecting traveler.

 

Still forward into the darkness my husband went, along the gloomy, solitary path, feeling his way with the two sticks he held in either hand. Often he had wished that one of them were a rifle, so that he might be prepared to defend himself against the night-time, bloodthirsty beasts of prey which surrounded his path.

 

The guiding providence of God was soon manifested, even in the matter of not being armed against lions and panthers and pachyderms. As he proceeded along the dismal, dark embankment, when everything immediately around was invisible but the blackness of night, and had reached a position in line with the camp fires, which glowed in the distant forest on right and left, he heard before him what seemed to be the faint footsteps of a lion approaching cautiously towards him. Plainly could he hear the delicate footfall of his four huge, cushioned paws as he advanced, and then the sound suddenly ceased, when not more than about ten or twelve paces away. The darkness was so dense that no outline of the lurking enemy could be discerned.

 

Thinking that the animal was probably preparing to spring, my husband also came to a halt, and while considering in his own mind the best course to pursue in his defenseless position, there burst forth, from the object in front, a double-barreled scream, which seemed to rend the very firmament with its piercing notes of shrieking agony.

 

My husband then challenged the foe in the Kiswahili language, "Nani huyu?" (Who's there?), when two human figures rushed forward and knelt at his feet, kissing them and crying alternately, "Sahib! Sahib! Bwana wangu! Bwana wangu! " (Sir! Sir! My Master! My Master!).

 

The two men, Indian coolies, who were frantic with fear, had been visiting friends in the camp on the one side of the line, and were returning to their own quarters on the other side. The silent footfalls of their two pairs of bare feet on the soft, sandy earth of the embankment closely resembled the stealthy approach of one of the great felines; while to them the thud of my husband's forward advance in heavy jungle boots, as he beat his way in the darkness with a stick in either hand, indicated to them the oncoming tread of a rhinoceros, and, believing that their doom was sealed, they were simultaneously constrained to give forth that great piercing yell which at once solved the difficulty of the situation.

 

After a word of encouragement to the two sons of Islam, and with their loud salaams ringing in his ears, my husband pressed forward into the inky blackness of the wilderness, and soon came to the end of the raised railway earthworks. He had then to force a passage through thick bush without any pathway, towards the faint light of the Kibwezi camp, which was reached two hours before midnight. He was there able to eat with his brother Missionary and compare notes before retiring to rest.

 

The following day his faithful men came in good time and all proceeded on their way up country, and eventually reached the Mission Station without any troublesome circumstances, except for the fact that on the second day's march from the railway line, while the caravan was passing through thick, bush country, it was found that one porter and his load were missing from the ranks.

 

Immediately a halt was called, and it was then discovered that when crossing a certain deep ravine, only about eight hundred yards in the rear, the porter was seen dropping behind the caravan, and shortly afterwards vanished from sight. Two reasons only could be given for his disappearance. Either a lion had sprung upon him and carried him away, or else he thought the load he bore might be very valuable to him some day, and had made off with it under the cover of the thick jungle. My husband believed that the latter was likely to be the case. Anyhow, several men were sent back at a trot to see if there were any signs of the missing porter or package, while others were dispatched to search different sections of the deep ravine we had crossed, and seek to discover the runaway or his booty.

 

The first party sent out soon returned with news that there was no appearance of any load about the track and no marks of any struggle. In a short time afterwards the other band of men returned with the missing case, which had been broken into by angular pieces of rock. The native had evidently been interrupted while opening the box and, finding his pursuers upon him, had made his escape through the dense bush that bordered the gully in which he had been hidden.

 

In the course of an hour, every man who had been sent to hunt up the missing load and its carrier had returned, except one of the most faithful men of the caravan. It was thought that he might have come across the delinquent native in the forest and had got into difficulties with him. A number of men were then sent out to search for him, in that part of the deep, bush-covered gorge to which he had been sent.

 

In a short time they returned with Muthama, the missing warrior, who looked as if he had passed through some terrible experience. His eyes were almost starting from their sockets, and his sleek, black skin all streaked with light marks as if his body had been pulled through a bramble brake.

 

Having been asked for his news, he told of his wonderful escape. While making his search for the missing porter, he got into a section of the low ravine, where it was difficult for him to make his way due to the interlacing growth which blocked his progress. Knowing that the runaway was likely to select some impenetrable place in which to hide his stolen goods, the searcher continued his course through the network of intertwining jungle, until he emerged into a more open part of the gully, where grass and boulders covered the spaces between the trees.

 

Passing along the base of the gorge, his alert eye caught the movement of a few stems of long grass some distance above him, on one side of the declivity which ended at his feet. Thinking he had caught the fugitive, the stalwart native cautiously approached the spot, when, to his dire amazement, he caught sight of a lion preparing to spring upon him. Turning his back to the lion he made a desperate attempt to flee, but the ferocious beast had already made his terrific spring, while the man, losing his footing on a boulder, fell to earth at the base of a tree. As he did so, he was conscious of the swish of the animal through the air, as it passed over his face down body.

 

Jumping to his feet, the agile native climbed up the tree like a cat, and never stopped until he put about sixteen to eighteen feet between him and the ground: then peering down, he saw the enraged lion looking up at him and showing his gleaming teeth.

 

There the lion remained, giving forth at times a low, angry growl, as he glanced upwards at the prey which had escaped with such skill. The native called for help, but the deep, bush-covered ravine smothered the sound of his voice. Eventually the lion impatiently moved away, and, when out of sight, the man warily came to earth, and rushed through the bushes in a direction opposite to that in which the lion disappeared, and, on coming forth from the thick jungle, he met the men who had been sent out in search of him.

 

CHAPTER 23
NATIVE ECCENTRICITIES AND .....THE BABOONS

 

While my husband was absent at the Coast, something happened to reduce his work very much in one way. The natives had been continually coming to him to be cured of those ailments to which they were subject. Indeed after one marvelous cure, under the providence of God, of a man who had a serious, longstanding problem, there was a rush of patients, some of whom came twenty to forty miles for his treatment; and he was consequently in high repute among the natives. His mode of helping the people, however, was more in the direction of good advice regarding their food and the use of water, rather than in the dispensing of drugs.

 

During my husband's absence on his journey to the sea, a native chief came to me in great distress one day, to see if I could do anything for a wife of his who was dying. After asking him regarding the symptoms manifested, I thought that it was probably a case in which I might be able to help.

 

Getting my Arabian donkey saddled, I immediately mounted, and taking a couple of the men with me, proceeded towards the village, the chieftain following in the rear. Our way lay across a very rough country interspersed with steep, wooded ravines, through which it was difficult for my brave animal to make his way. After arriving at the little village, I crawled on my hands and knees into the grass hut where the native woman lay. The inside of the hut being in absolute darkness, all I could do was to feel the patient, and the woman was so ill and in such agony that she could not answer any of my questions. I suggested to the chief that she should be carried outside, into a little secluded bower in the adjoining forest, but to this he gave a blank refusal, and said she would surely die if she was removed from the hut. Knowing that it was impossible to help the woman where she lay, I persisted in my request, and at last the chief complied with my desire and had her moved to a natural booth in the bush. After some little time I was able, with the help of the Lord, to bring relief to the poor woman, who had been for many hours in the direst agony and pending danger of losing her life. The chief told many people about the thing, and from that time forward both men and women flocked to me for help under all possible conditions, and so a portion of my husband's time was released for other much-needed work. When out on our itinerant wanderings one day, we were greatly surprised to hear the natives call a boy by the name of "Muzungu," which is the Kikamba term for "white man." My husband was so struck with the absurdity of a jet black young native being called whiteman, that he fully enquired into the cause of the seeming abnormality in their means of naming children.

 

It was, however, found that the boy had been born on the day we first camp on the hill where our station was eventually built; and the arrival to their country of the white-faced stranger was an event of such moment and importance to them, and also simultaneous with the birth of the child, that the coincidence resulted in this ebony-skinned youth being called Muzungu. What seemed at first to us a breach of the usual manner of obtaining names proved to be only further evidence of their unchangeable and conservative custom of calling children after circumstances associated with their birth.

 

They adopt much the same plan, too, in the names they give to Europeans. When the Government took over the country and the railway line was being built, the natives got in touch with various white men, and were quick to notice their varied peculiarities, as well as the variation of each facial expression, walk and manner. Almost invariably the natives gave their own names to these individuals, because of some distinguishing characteristic which came before their notice.

 

The natives of these parts are never able to catch the correct sound of European names, and, inasmuch as their own language is exceedingly fluent and every word, and indeed every syllable, ends in a vowel, they cannot pronounce any word which ends in a consonant. If they ever attempt to do so, they predictably add a vowel sound to the final consonant.

 

My husband and I once traveled a few hundred miles in the heart of Africa with a saintly Christian Missionary, who was called by the natives Bwana Kijiko, which means Mr. Spoon. After we camped with him for some time, it became quite evident why our friend bore this personal title. He was, what every traveler in Central Africa ought to be, a splendid cook. When we arrived in camp after the day's march, he was usually seen with a big spoon in his hand mixing some dough for bread or pancakes, or preparing some other nutritious food which was tempting alike to the eye and taste.

 

In journeying with our companion, Bwana Kijiko, my husband got a name for a few weeks, which neither he nor I deemed at all complimentary: it was Bwana Pombe or Mr. Beer. This term requires some explanation, for my husband, since he became a Christian when quite a young man, never drank alcohol.

 

The natives of the district, through whose country we were passing, brewed a liquid from millet grain which they called "pombe." It was of the consistency of ordinary gruel, and no doubt was a nourishing food to the natives of the district. The pombe being somewhat fermented, our valued friend used it as yeast for raising his bread.

 

One day after our march was over, he came to our tent and told us that there could be no bread that evening, for he had found it impossible to get any pombe with which to bake. My husband at once volunteered to remove him from the difficulty, and, taking three or four men and a small vessel for the barm, together with suitable barter goods, he scoured the district, roaming through every outlying village in search of the leavening fluid. He separated his few men, sending one to this hut and another to that, in search of the pombe. At last perseverance was rewarded, and the vessel was brought back with an adequate supply for baking several loaves of bread; but my husband had already earned his title of Bwana Pombe, which fortunately did not outlive that journey.

 

The more permanent name of Bwana Simba, or Mr. Lion, survived several years. This name was given to my husband, I think, because of his fearless manner in dealing with the spear-armed natives of the interior, and his courage in approaching the wild animals of the forest.

 

In the Ukamba country there was granted to him the name of Bwana Kivila, which means, "Master of the Carrying Chairs." For the transport of our children and myself up into the interior of the Equatorial Regions, my husband designed special carrying chairs, and had them made in London for the journey. These were found to be light, strong and comfortable, and a great improvement upon the hammock. In passing up into the interior, these chairs occupied an important position in the caravan, and as nothing of the kind had ever been seen entering that part of Central Africa before, the natives at once named my husband, Bwana Kivila — kivila being their name for a seat of any kind; and by this title he is still known among several tribes, throughout an extensive region of East Equatorial Africa.

 

One traveler in the same district was known as Bwana Kikombe, or Mr. Cup and Saucer, to give it a free English translation. During a time of shortage of food, he measured out the daily supply of grain to his followers in his own teacup, one cupful to each forming the ration of the day's food, which is rather a small supply for a full-grown native.

 

Another European friend who was rather short and fat was known by the name of Bwana Mwato which signifies Mr. Honey Barrel. The natives hollow out sections of giant tree trunks, and so chip them that they taper at the ends and bulge in the centre. These, after being finally prepared, are suspended from the limbs of prominent trees in the forest, so that bees may be enticed to come and lodge in the empty wooden receptacles, and therein deposit their juicy honey, perfumed with the odor of the forest bloom. The keen-eyed natives had seen a resemblance between the physical shape of the plump stranger and that of the hollow cylinder in which their honey is stored, and hence stereotyped their thoughts in the title given.

 

To the natives every white man must have an title, and none could be distinguished by one of a more caloric character than that of Bwana Maji-ya-moto, or Mr. Boiling Water. One might be at a loss to know how such a name could be acquired, but in reality there is no difficulty, and in this case was doubtless contracted because of his insistence upon cleanliness.

 

Some men are not particularly careful about being clean in their habits, and they will cross the jungle for days even in the rainy season, without using much of either soap or water. This habit is perhaps induced in the wilds by the shortage and turbidity of water in some regions throughout the long dry seasons.

 

The European, however, who is particular about having his wash at the end of every day's march, and who always calls out on arrival in camp for his boiling water to prepare the bath, is laying the foundation for the honorable title of Mr. Boiling Water, which will cling to him as long as the present generation of natives shall exist.

 

A traveler may be as eminent a philosopher as Newton, or as profound a mathematician as the Egyptian Euclid; but if he is constantly calling out for boiling water, this is to the native a remarkable event, and the trait of a man’s character which is most apparent to his view, forms the basis of his new African name.

 

During the past ages it has been general, among the Akamba and other tribes, to set fire to the bush and grass over the entire area of their vast territories, twice every year at the end of each dry season. The first season of drought, which is for three months, usually ends in March, and the second, covering five months, ends with October, there being eight months in the year in which not a drop of rain may be expected to fall.

 

Several reasons motivate the natives in burning the surface of their country. The attacks and marauding incursions of the surrounding tribes have usually been made at those periods of the year when there is considerable cover given by the long grass and the leafy bush, as the success of a plundering expedition depends very much upon making a hidden approach and a sudden and unexpected attack. When the long grass is dry enough burn the natives fire the whole surface of the earth, so that the enemy may be deprived of cover and for this reason unable to attack them by surprise.

 

There are also other considerations leading them in this matter, the chief of which is the fact that the burning of the old, sun-dried grass, just before the rainy season, ensures sweet, succulent pasture for their herds of zebu cattle, and fresh herbage for their flocks of goats.

 

One might imagine that in these fires the trees of the nearby forest would be destroyed, and the young trees and short bush wiped out. The trees, however, are protected by fire-resisting bark, under the shelter of which the sap flows quite freely, even after the country has been swept by a forest fire, in which the flames have risen fifteen to twenty feet high. After the rains, even the low, blackened bushes and stunted scrub soon spring up as green and fresh as ever.

 

The natives do not burn the whole surface of the ground at once, for then a time would come when there would be nothing for their flocks and herds to eat; and indeed it would be impossible to do so, for the vegetation of the country only ripens for the fire in places, according to the moisture-retaining ability of the ground. The higher areas soon become crisp and dry with the scorching, torrid sun, and are then ready for firing, while the deep, well-watered valleys, covered with high luxuriant vegetation, remain juicy and green through many months of drought, and can only be burned when the long dry season is almost over.

 

During two or three months of the year immense fires spread over the land. At times, in the calm, stifling atmosphere of the day these fires burn slowly, but, with the cool breeze of evening, they become furious, and the surging flames leap and hop along on their devastating path.

 

From our lonely Mission Station, which was located on a hill allowing a view of fifty miles, the scenes we witnessed, during those months when the jungle around us was lit up with blazing flames, were truly magnificent. Sometimes the entire landscape of forest tableland was so lighted with the miles upon miles of rolling flame of varied brightness, that one would think several gigantic cities were ablaze. In most cases the grass huts of the natives are built beside natural clusters of fire-resisting, evergreen bush, but, if not, there is planted around their dwelling-places a belt of juicy, succulent shrub, called movoo, which is most tenacious of life and through which it is impossible for fire to pass.

 

Oftentimes our station was in great danger from these fires, and on several occasions we had some narrow escapes. We used every precaution possible, and had the surface removed from a six-foot belt of earth right around our station and garden. Due to the rapid jungle growth of the tropics, this extensive excavation had to be cleared of plant life twice every year. Even with all our precaution we suffered loss at times, and on one occasion the flames crossed over the cleared ground, with the result that our church building caught fire.

 

My husband heard the crackling roar of the flames, and, rushing down towards the building to see if all were safe, just arrived there at the moment of ignition. He was able to climb the building, and making his way along the roof, began to throw off the part where the fire had caught. It was too late. The increasing flames burnt and singed his face and soon drove him back, and in a few minutes the large building was enveloped by the fire. We were quite contented that the church had been burnt down, for we had fully determined that the next one we built would be located outside our own boundary and considered the property of the natives. For the church building and another thatched building we were about to put up, there was required a large quantity of the midribs of a species of palm which were found to be excellent for roofing purposes. To obtain these my husband got together a plentiful body of natives, and, taking our eldest little boy with him, he set out to bring home a caravan of this building timber.

 

There were large quantities of it within thirty miles of our station, on the banks of the Athi river; but a few miles further north, at the great falls of a tributary stream, in a deep gorge near to the meeting of these two rivers, there was a limited belt of palms which shot up heavenward to a great height, and these were considered superior to all others. In that direction the long caravan made their way for several hours without a break.

 

It was desirable that these men should have some flesh to supplement their small supply of grain. Near the drinking places, animals were gathered in huge numbers; but, the moment they sighted the large caravan of men, they scampered off in troops, leaving the wilderness deserted and lonely.

 

Some way ahead, on the backside of an empty ridge bordering the wooded jungle, there was seen a rhinoceros, with a long, straight horn of about three feet running out from his nose, while the posterior horn seemed of insignificant proportions. This pachyderm would have fed even twice the number of the caravan for several days, but, due to the position he held, it was most difficult to approach near enough to get in a sure and unfailing shot.

 

Leaving his little son in charge of the caravan beneath an overspreading tree, and taking only his gunbearer, my husband started off, determined to secure the rhinoceros for his large band of porters. Choosing an indirect course with the wind in his favor, he and his men crawled through the bushes in the direction of the huge beast; but progress was slow and difficult, and both the gunbearer and his leader were getting a little nervous, not yet knowing the exact position the animal occupied, or if he were moving toward them. On they pushed, however, through the thick jungle, sometimes on hands and knees and again flat on their face, while shoving the rifle on in front. As they drew closer to the spot, the breaking of a rotten twig, or the rustling of the dry leaves on the ground over which they moved, sent a thrill through their veins, fearing the nearby beast might hear the sound, and rush for them while they were unprepared.

 

Eventually they reached the border of a narrow, open glade and got a glimpse of the massive brute, who had evidently caught their smell, for he was wheeling about terribly enraged, and smelling the air which was already pregnant with human odor.

The sight of the huge horn on the tip of the monster's nose was so terror-inspiring that my husband thought it wise to lose no time, and immediately covered the animal and fired. The huge beast plunged towards them on being struck, and then, changing his mind, swerved off and disappeared over the ridge on which he had been sunning himself.

 

My husband and the gunbearer followed with hurried steps, and caught sight of the rhino in the valley below, who was now making his way through long grass at an ordinary walking pace, and leaving a red trail behind him. It was clear that the animal had been badly wounded, and it seemed hopeful that the large caravan of men would soon get a plentiful supply of meat.

 

While cautiously tracking the rhinoceros spoor through the long reed grass, and threading his way as silently as possible, with head bowed low so that he might not be seen by the wounded animal, my husband was suddenly clutched with a deathlike grip by the gunbearer, who sought to stop his progress, while, with the index finger of the other hand, he tragically pointed into the reeds before their feet.

 

My husband was struck with amazement when the native grasped him so violently by the arm; but when he cast his eyes in front and saw there, not more than nine feet distant, a huge lion, the shock was indescribable. The feline was furiously enraged and apparently prepared to spring. My husband instinctively stepped backward, with his eyes intently fixed upon the lion's glaring pupils. The native did likewise, until both were about six or seven yards from the monster. Never for a moment did they cease to concentrate their keen gaze upon the fierce and piercing eyeballs of the lion.

 

The magazine of my husband's rifle was full of small, steel-pointed bullets, suitable for penetrating the enormous bones of the rhinoceros. Had he fired one of these at the lion it would have gone through his soft body like a needle, and, though mortally wounded, he could have killed the two men in a moment.

 

Asking the Lord to direct him what to do, he felt that he ought not to fire; and, to his great relief, the lion rose up and bounded off in the direction of the wounded rhinoceros, the odor of whose bloody trail had evidently excited his feline ferocity.

 

This sudden meeting with the King of Beasts interfered with the further pursuit of the rhino, and my husband returned to the place where he had left the caravan with his young son. He, too, had had a thrilling experience in the time, under which he acted with great wisdom of mind. Within the space of a short time several rhinos had been seen, some of which charged down upon the waiting men. They were able to flee with the pace of gazelles hither and thither, and hide in nooks and holes or clamber up the trees, but our little man was not able thus to escape.

 

He looked round at the big tree behind him, and saw that it was impossible for him to climb it, as it ran up unbranched several feet from the ground. His quickness of thought under emergency, however, came to his aid, for catching hold of one of the big strong natives he asked him to stand underneath a limb of the forest giant, and, climbing the shoulders of the native, he caught hold of the bough of the tree and soon placed himself upon it in perfect safety. While there he saw four rhinoceroses, one of which charged past the tree blowing furiously as he ran wildly. The long caravan of men then pursued their path across the trackless wilderness, towards the place where the palm trees flourished.

 

The majestic, enchanting falls were reached in the evening and the camp pitched within five hundred yards of the roaring waters. Darkness was setting in, and as soon as the fires were lit and the two riding donkeys staked near to them for protection, the weary men were lying around munching the boiled grain which they had brought in little satchels of goat-skin. Soon the tired porters were asleep, and no bellowing of wild animals or roaring of the waters disturbed their slumbers till the dawn of the following morning.

 

They were then sent to cut down the long midribs which towered forty to sixty feet high, lop off their feathery ends, and land them on the plateau above the falls. This was difficult and tedious work and occupied the men many hours of the day.

 

While they were working, my husband and son were greatly interested and amused with a large colony of baboons, which had taken up their dwelling in the steep, rocky fastnesses on the further side of the river. With a pair of field glasses, the movements of these animals were scrutinized for hours at very close quarters. Never before had such an opportunity presented itself of witnessing the home life of these bad-mannered monkeys.

 

When the sun rose fairly high in the heavens, the mothers brought out their little babies from the caves for an airing and went about with them under their arm. Rarely did they take the upright stance, and that only when about to climb a ledge of rock or tree, and then they balanced themselves by catching hold of some support with one hand.

 

The natives were greatly amused when my husband told them that there were a few white men who thought that men were the descendants of monkeys. Some of the natives lay down on their backs and giggled with laughter at the idea. The natives are very keen zoologists, and critically and minutely observe the animal life of the forest, and are confident that the buffalo, zebra and elephant and many other four legged animals are possessed of an infinitely higher intelligence than that of any of the monkey tribes of tropical Africa. In fact, the sharp natives of the Equatorial Regions look upon the ape and other species as being stupid animals of weak intelligence, having much less cunning and cleverness than even the jackal or the wild hunting-dog of the wilderness, and they unanimously declare that the different species of monkey never mix or interbreed.

 

I have often been amazed that some European so called wise men regard it as incredible that the pale and dark, the red and yellow races of mankind sprung from a single pair (Adam and Eve), and yet seem to have no difficulty in believing that all mankind have been evolved from the ape. This is certainly "straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel." Or to put it another way, stupidity.

 

The baboon of tropical Africa is not at all a progressive animal, and does not help very much the theory of evolution, which at times has been suggested by some. The mummified forms of baboons which were swathed and embalmed in Egypt five thousand years ago are identical with the baboon of to-day, even to the shape of his finger nails.

 

This animal is indeed slow in availing himself of the benefits of evolution. From the vantage ground of crag or tree-top, he has witnessed for untold centuries the human native making fire with his two simple fire sticks, and then feeding the created flame by adding dry, broken branches from the jungle. When the native leaves red-hot embers in the forest and makes his way home to the grass hut, sometimes inquisitive monkeys are attracted by the fire, just as are the huge pachyderms, and will draw near to it and enjoy the heat; but throughout these long ages there is not the faintest tradition than any monkey has ever been known to place a single stick on the coals which have been kindled, though bundles of dry, forest wood have often been left by the native beside the smoldering remains of his jungle fire.

 

When the colony of baboons had retired to their caves for the night, and the porters of the caravan had secured large piles of midribs of palms from the islets in the tumbling river, the camp was vigorously droning with the wordy chatter of the large native following, as they sat by the fires at their evening meal of mbemba.

 

In that company, men of various opposing tribes mingled together for the first time in perfect harmony. Through the influence of the white man, Akamba, Kikuyu and Masai warriors, who had often thirsted for each other's blood, were now eating out of the same pot. When the evening repast was over they sat there side by side, listening to the message that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth," and that He had so loved them as to give His only begotten Son, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

 

In the darkness which immediately followed the setting of the sun, the camp was kept in a feverish state of excitement owing to the unusual numbers of leopards which swarmed about the falls and were heard grunting in the bushes around the camp. Some additional logs were therefore thrown on the fires, so that the increased flames might make the camp more safe from a sudden attack of the wily animals.

 

Four different kinds of cunning leopards roam that wilderness, two of which, the king'alang'ala and molothi, are large and powerful beasts and very persistent enemies of the natives. These animals commit more devastation among the domestic flocks and herds than even the lion himself. Due to their insatiable thirst for blood they will kill three or four animals at a time, although they can only carry one of these away.

 

Soon the silent moon rose over the camp, and shed her soft silvery light through the waving fronds of palm, and shimmered on the turbulent waters of the river, turning the darkness of night into a lively scene of romantic beauty. Beside the blazing fires the natives reclined, while they chatted of their adventures and various incidents in their wild life of the jungle.

 

Most of them had engaged in several murdering and marauding raids. One sturdy big fellow, a Mukamba, who was covered with thirteen long scars, which appeared in different parts of the body from the head to the lower limbs, gave in short, graphic sentences his terrible experience. As he told his tale every native listened with eager ear and parted lips.

 

He, with a large band of other warriors who had no cows with which to buy wives, started on a raid in the neighboring country of Kikuyu, with the hope of capturing young women, or cattle with which to purchase them in their own country. Reaching the borderland, at a point where maidens were cutting firewood in the forest under the guard of some warriors, the marauders divided themselves into two groups, one of which was to surround the girls and rush them off while the other section was to attack their defenders. The story teller was in the first party, and due to the long grass they were able to crawl up unseen to within a few yards of where the girls were swinging their tomahawks, while they chanted a native song. At a given signal the attackers leaped from their cover and surrounded the girls, driving them off, while the forest rang with their shrieking screams.

Meantime, the other company of Akamba were engaged in a hand-to-hand fight with the warriors, whose duty it was to defend the maidens, and who were present in such overwhelming numbers that they soon defeated the attacking force. They then dashed after the captured women in the hope of recovering them.

 

At first a stand was made by the Akamba, but the oncoming host of warriors led them to realize the futility of battling against such odds, and they sought to escape. It was, however, too late: they were already partially surrounded, and the story-teller had been the first to fall, with the slashing cut of an ovyu — a long, heavy, three-foot blade— on the forehead.

 

For some time he lay unconscious, and then, awakening, he saw that the sun was just about going down, and knew that he had been lying there from the time the blazing sun had been in the high point. The marvel was that his eyes had not been picked out by a vulture.

 

He then found that all over his body were huge, gaping wounds. Shoulders and arms, ribs and buttocks were all marked with long, wide-lipped gashes. Around him he could see the lifeless forms of his comrades. He knew that to lie there any longer would mean certain death, for carnivorous beasts were already starting out on their nightly ramble.

 

He rose and fell, and rose and staggered and fell again. Ultimately on foot and knee he made his way into a dense thicket, and there lay awake until the light of another day dawned, and, having recovered strength, was able to make his way to his grass booth among the rugged heights. The long, white, ropy seams which marked his stalwart frame confirmed every word of his thrilling experience.

 

The next to speak was a broad-shouldered, strong fellow of medium height, whose name was Muzyemi, The Hunter. Before he spoke he got up to his feet, and then bending his head to his knees, he began thus: — "Tazama mwonga mwakwa" (Look ye at my back!) From the shoulders right down to the hips ran several longitudinal marks, while over the ribs on one side of the body a few large-sized, puckered scars were visible. Sitting down by the fire he told his story.

 

He had been out with three other warriors hunting when they sighted some zebra. While he was crawling along the bank of a dry river-bed in order to get within arrow-flight of the prey, he came suddenly upon a lion in the grass. Turning his back to flee, the beast gave him a stroke of his paw, which sent him headlong to earth, and tore his body in strips from below the loins to the top of the neck.

 

The lion then caught him by the flesh below the shoulder blade and carried him off in his mouth. He was thus carried for a long time, during which period he was quite conscious and suffering very little pain, and the lion, evidently to rest himself, laid him down on the brink of the dry river-course. There he lay on his side looking at the lion, while he was aware of the fact that immediately below him was the sandy bed of the dried-up stream. Every moment the native expected the teeth of the fierce beast to crunch through his skull or body, when he would take him up again in his mouth.

 

For a moment the lion was attracted by something behind him, and turned round his shaggy-maned head to look in that direction, when the native instantly whirled over, quick as lightning, into the sandy gully below, and fled along the dry bed as fast as a man could run away. The noble though ferocious lion never attempted to follow him, and was obliged to start on a fresh search for his evening meal.

 

The next adventure was from the lips of one of the flesh-eating, grain-hating tribe of Masai, the very sound of whose tribal name has often stricken with terror multitudes of the less courageous and bloodthirsty tribes of the interior. His story, however, was not of scenes of cruel carnage, which to them were quite commonplace and familiar but of which these warriors never speak.

 

He was a man who had charge of our donkeys, and was one of the most faithful Masai we had ever known. As he lay there in the red glow of the fire, he looked like a Grecian athlete carved in ebony. Like many of his clan, he was gifted with that natural dramatic expression which gives such a charm to some of the words of these naked sons of the wilds.

 

The warrior, raising his out-stretched palm before the listening camp, said that when he was a little boy, 'so high,' it was his duty every morning after sunrise to herd the zebu calves, in the green field on the border of the forest, where stood the low, flat, dung-plastered booth which to him was known as home.

 

When the sun rose about half way between the horizon and the high point, while the little fellow was lying on his face on the green grass, basking in the tropical sunshine, he became aware of the fact that there was something approaching behind him. Believing that the footsteps he heard on the soft, grassy turf were those of his own little herd of frisky calves, he paid no further attention, until he felt something touch his back like the hand of a man.

 

Then rolling himself face upwards he was terribly upset to find a huge wild elephant of the jungle standing over him, flipping his body with the long, nimble trunk. He feared to move lest the huge monster might thrust him with his ponderous, gleaming tusks, or place his broad, heavy foot upon his body and crush him to the earth. He dare not call for help, for, being a child of the wilds, he was wise enough to know that his screams would only anger the beast and speed up his own destruction. Though suffering with mortal fear, he lay calm and still, looking up at the huge monster of the forest.

 

In a moment or two the elephant caught the boy with his flexible trunk and lifted him up on to his back, and moved off at a walking pace with the little fellow sitting with a leg on each side of his neck. On went the mammoth emperor of the woods through open glades and sheltered dells, carrying the frightened but patient youth balanced high on his shoulders.

 

With the wisdom and cunning of his tribe, the young native had already begun to weigh and consider how he might make his escape. He knew that though high in air he could easily glide down the side of the animal to the ground, as he had often slipped down the ledges of rocks near to his own bush camp, but then the animal would be likely to kill him the instant he would reach the earth. With extreme acuteness and resource the Masai boy determined on grasping the first overhanging branch of a tree which might come within his reach, and then climb immediately beyond the range of the extended, strong trunk of the elephant.

 

Never for a moment did the gigantic animal pause on its march into the unknown depths of the wilderness. Across flowing streams and over open, undulating wooded ground, he passed with his quick long stride, but never entered underneath a low-branched tree to give the boy a chance of carrying out his plan.

 

A long distance had already been traveled and the sun was waning, when every hope of deliverance gone from the heart of the native boy, as the huge brute pressed forward into a low, long, treeless valley of quagmire and muddy swamp. There was then no possibility of escape either above or below. With that cool indifference which characterizes the native of the wilderness, the youth clung to the elephant while he plunged through the marshy area, although at times he had to close his eyes when the monster splashed the mud in air.

 

On rising from the low-lying valley, the animal made his way over a grassy plateau towards the border of a dense forest, and the terrified lad was once again filled with hope of clutching at some drooping branch and thus making good his escape. As the elephant drew near jungle, the boy braced himself up for a mighty effort to get out of the animal's reach at the first chance, but, to his amazement, the moment the beast arrived at the edge of the forest he suddenly stood still, and, raising his strong trunk over his shoulders, he caught the boy and laid him carefully down among the fallen leaves of the forest. He then swept his trunk along the ground, and gathering up the leaves into heaps, he covered with them the body of the youth, who lay perfectly still under the procedure. After the gigantic elephant satisfied himself that the boy was comfortably covered, he walked off into the forest.

 

When the sound of the crashing footsteps became faint, the boy rose from his leafy bed and ran as fast as his thin little legs could carry him. Avoiding the great swamp, he made his way through an open, bush country, in the direction in which he believed his village lay. When the sun was about sinking in the western sky he climbed a tree in the forest, and found that he had then only cleared the long, swampy valley which lay a short distance behind him.

 

Quenching his thirst at a stream, he sought a large tree in an open part of the forest, and climbing into the topmost branches he selected a safe resting-place for the night. There he sat listening to the sounds of the owls in the neighboring trees, and the roaring of the carnivores which prowled the jungle around him.

 

In the dawn of the morning he was on his homeward way through bushy wilderness and over hill and dale, until, weary with exhaustion, he once more climbed a giant tree to rest himself in safety. While there he heard human voices in the forest, and thinking that some plundering natives of another tribe were near at hand, he lay flat along one of the huge boughs, so that he might not attract attention if they chanced to pass close by. After a little time he could detect that the men in the forest carried the spears and shields of his own tribe, and making his way to earth he ran towards the warriors, and found that they were out in search of the boy that had been lost.

 

With such thrilling stories of life in the wilds, the natives entertained the camp, until the moon was high in the heavens, shedding her radiant light over the midnight countryside. It was time to go to sleep, for an early start had to be made in the morning with heavy loads of midrib timber, and the conversation was suddenly ended by the voice of my husband calling out in abrupt tones, "Kukilya twana twangu! Mamai!" — "Be silent, my children! Go to sleep!"

 

CHAPTER 24
SOWING AND REAPING

 

From the camp by the falls of the river, as soon as the light of the morning broke on the eastern horizon, the carriers made their way homewards, loaded with heavy bundles of long poles, bearing a natural shine as smooth as that of prepared walnut tree pole.

 

The plain, which was so destitute of life two days before, was now covered with many thousands of animals. Wildebeest in vast numbers were running around in frantic gaiety. When the men of the caravan rose out of a low depression in the plateau, they came into unusually close contact with numbers of these creatures. Some of the old stallions leaped forward in curiosity, and then with a capering gallop dashed back to the herd behind them, and the whole mass of animals rushed past the caravan in a headlong run, making the ground tremble as if it had been moved by a sudden earthquake.

 

The porters were very anxious for some meat, but my husband refrained from shooting, for the men were so heavily burdened with palms that they could not carry another pound. As the day advanced the men pressed forward in the sweltering heat while the burning sun glowed in scorching fury. The dancing, quivering rays of light, which fell upon the herds of striped zebra and the troops of spotted giraffe, transformed them into weird, phantom-like spectacles.

 

When the sun was going down there appeared away in the distance charming scenes of mirage, luring the men homewards to their huts, from which they were still separated by twenty miles of burning plain. Some of those in the rear were already dropping out of the ranks and throwing down their loads for desire of water. Our little son was sent forward on his donkey a mile ahead, to inform the men in front to stop at the first gully and make a search for water.

 

Eventually the caravan reached the dry bed of a stream, where deep holes were soon dug in a basin-like dip in the course of the brook, with the result that the thirsty porters were refreshed and able to rest peacefully until both sun and temperature were considerably lower.

 

With the evening breeze, which forever follows the sun from east to west in the Equatorial Regions, the caravan made its way with accelerated speed towards the thick bush which clothed the boundary of the plain where the night camp was to be pitched, for already all hope of reaching the station that day had been given up.

 

The red ball of fire had dropped below the horizon and the night was quickly approaching, when the dark line of trees to which the caravan was hurrying was still in the faint distance, leaving a march of an hour or more to be accomplished in the darkness, for the moon was not due to rise until three hours after sunset. The many antelope had already fled from the open plain to the bush for shelter, and there also the carnivores had gone forth from their lairs. The men bravely plodded on, and as the caravan entered the thick line of jungle growth, the roar of a lion in their immediate surrounding area sent a thrill through everyone.

 

In a short time huge fires were kindled, and as thick limb and leafy branch were added to the burning piles, the red blaze leaped up high enough to give perfect security to the weary and hungry natives, who nestled around the reassuring flames. The dry logs of fuel which the men had brought into camp from the surrounding jungle were so large, that it was not considered necessary to appoint watchers for the night to keep up the fires, and for this reason every man in camp was soon fast asleep, and unaware of the fact that carnivores roved the wilderness around.

 

Starting from camp by moonlight, the Mission Station was reached at dawn the following morning, and the first stage in the building of the wattle-and-daub erections in the heart of Africa had been achieved. Many tons of grass were then pulled from the nearby hills and carried to the selected site.

 

When one of the houses was thatched and nearing completion it had a very narrow escape from destruction by fire. On a Sunday morning, just after two meetings had been held, one for our own workers and another for a group of natives from a distance, the roar of a jungle fire could be heard in the valley below us. It was, however, so far away at the time and the weather so calm that no attention was given to the matter.

 

In the course of an hour, when all our men had gone to visit their native friends, it was noticed that a strong breeze had sprung up, which was blowing directly from the valley towards the new building. My husband and I went down to observe the path of the fire, and were startled when we found the flames approaching the building at a very rapid speed, while the breeze seemed to increase with every minute of time.

 

The new building was resting on a grassy plateau, and was surrounded with lots of thatching grass, piles of leftover timber and all kinds of flammable material, which were as dry as tinder, for our season of drought was present and the temperature on the surface of the ground often reached 150 to 160 f. in the sun.

 

For some time, with the help of a few native boys, a brave effort was made to fight and extinguish the long line of fire, but due to the turning motion of the flames as they bent to the strong breeze, the naked bodies of the youths had been severely scorched, and they were obliged to stop all further labors.

 

My husband then saw that the only way to adopt to save the station was to abandon the oncoming flames, rush home to the building, and burn a narrow stretch of grass around the station itself, gradually extinguishing the fire as the circle of flame progressed, so that when the bush inferno would reach the house, it would be intercepted by a band of earth on which there was nothing to burn.

 

The native boys helped me in breaking down leafy branches of green trees, with which to beat the flames, carrying them to my husband. He required a fresh branch every minute, as he was pounding away with such force that the leaves were soon entirely demolished. For a time we thought that the house which had cost so much work to put up must inevitably perish. The extended line of jungle fire was approaching at a great speed, and its hot breath was scorching our faces, but my husband beat and punished the burning grass with unending energy, while the smoky atmosphere increased in thickness and almost hid him from our vision. There still remained to be burned a strip of about twenty yards long, until the burnt circle around the building would be complete; and unless this were accomplished before the on-rushing fire arrived, the station must of necessity be immediately destroyed by the coming fire.

 

The hungry flames leaped forward with increasing speed, as they touched some highly flammable stretches where cut grass had been blown about over the natural vegetation. The last green branches we could grab had already been carried to my husband, for we had to flee for safety to that part around the compound which had already been burned.

 

He was then in desperate battle with the flames, while the last few yards were being burned which connected the building with the advancing fire. The flames rolled and roared around him, as he stamped them with his feet and thrashed and pounded them with his last branch. Ultimately, with the help of the Lord, the black, ashy circle was done, the house was saved, and the flaming billows bounded away past the building upon their devastating pathway.

 

Often have we had thus to fight the flames around our dwelling, and on one occasion our grass-thatched small house actually caught on fire. About noon, when the sun was splitting the rocks, our native cook came slowly into the dining-room, barely putting one foot past the other, and said in quiet tones, "Bwana, Nyumba inakwatwa na mwagi." (Sir, the house is on fire.) My husband rushed out instantly and found the grass roof of the kitchen in a blaze. A square yard of the thick, sodden thatch which had already been consumed was a glowing red. Lifting a basin full of water he threw it on the flaming thatch, calling upon the cook to bring all the water available. Bucket after bucket was thrown on the burning grass until the fire was extinguished. If the thatch had not been well seasoned with smoke and thus rendered less flammable, nothing could have saved the entire compound.

 

When the excitement of the moment was over, we could not help smiling at the cool, bland manner in which the native told us that our house was on fire. Times without number their own little grass huts are burned, and they never attempt to do anything, except to flee from the area, carrying their bows and arrows; and then, standing at a safe distance, they stoically watch the blaze.

 

When our new church was built larger numbers than ever came to our meetings, some of them from a distance of fifteen to twenty miles, but our hearts were saddened at the thought that none of them had given convincing evidence of being truly born of God. They listened at times with close attention to the message of the Gospel, but failed to respond to its demands.

 

We were grateful, however, for the marvelous opportunities offered to us of proclaiming the Glad Tidings to men who formerly had been so unwilling to hear. Ever-increasing numbers of young men came to the station for work, and as some of the trees we had planted were already fruiting, and there was a demand for this produce among the government and railway officials, we gladly received all the natives who came to us, and, while teaching them the dignity of labor, we pointed them to the way of Eternal Life. We had from fifty to sixty natives always on the station, and, although the expenses were very great, the Lord so blessed the work that it became self-supporting.

 

We had been living a life of great poverty so as to enable us to provide the children's cost to travel home to England. Sufficient funds had eventually accumulated to pay for five passages, and we were led to consider the advisability of my husband accompanying four of the children to the homeland and placing them at boarding schools, while I should hold the fort till his return. It was a bold venture of faith in God. We fully trusted Him to provide for their education. Never had we in a single instance asked help from any man.

 

After much prayer for guidance we booked the five passages by the SS. "Reichstag," of the Deutsche Ost-Afrika Line, sailing from Mombasa to Hamburg. Never can I forget the day when my loved ones said good-bye to me, and the caravan marched out from the station bearing away over the hills four of my darling children, while I was left alone in the wilderness, with a little boy and girl aged five and three, to fight the battle for souls among the natives.

 

The Uganda railway had then penetrated a great distance into the interior, and after two days' marching they reached the line of rails, while another couple of days found them on the east coast ready to go on board ship. What a contrast to the conditions which prevailed when we entered the Great Unknown. Then it was tramp, march, walk, over field and wilderness, through ravine and gorge, swollen river and swampy marsh.

 

Now one is carried along in an upholstered railway carriage over the trackless jungle, slowing up now and again at Dak Bungalows, where lunch and dinner are to be had as comfortably served as in a European hotel. A crossing can be made over the course of a roaring river in sixty seconds, which, on our way up country, would have taken the caravan a day to cross. The many weeks of long and toilsome marching is only a memory of the past.

 

When the Missionary and traveler now enter the East Equatorial Regions, there is no more suffering from drought and deluge on the weary march through the jungle, with all the accumulation of misery and agony to the poor caravan porters, whose skulls have been thickened by the immense loads they have borne far into the interior. The steam engine has dissipated those conditions and made them part of history.

 

When my husband arrived with the children in England the Lord had already prepared the way for them. A son of the late F. E. Wigram, Honorary Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, had been out for several years as a Missionary in Central Africa. While there he visited our Station and became interested in our work and the tuition of our children, with the result that he willingly undertook to provide one hundred and fifty pounds per year, for five years, towards their education. This self-sacrificing service can never be forgotten, though to God we ascribe all the glory for His marvelous provision.

 

The two girls were placed in a school for the daughters of Missionaries, at Walthamstow Hall, Sevenoaks, and our two sons at the Methodist College, Belfast. My husband then immediately returned to the field, though much weaker than when he set out, due to a severe illness on the way home and a stormy return voyage, during which time he was rarely able to be at table. On his arrival in Ukamba the people received him with open arms, and were more than ever willing to hear from his lips the Word of Life. Among those who had been busy for manual work on the Station and who had come in close touch with us, there were many who were quite anxious about their status before God, and were groping for something they had not yet experienced. In the village around, wherever my husband went, numbers of men came together to listen to the message of the Book.

 

Between these people, however, and their Savior there still seemed a great gulf. They were adequately awakened to know that a better life was within their reach. They were convinced that it was possible truly to know God: but they felt unable to make the sacrifice involved in accepting of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the Lord and Master of their being. They candidly admitted that they were unwilling to leave their old life.

 

We admired their honest spirit and honest answers to the questions which were put to them. In their manly, straightforward responses, we saw the hope of a new era for which we had toiled in sorrow and tears. A better day was soon to dawn. More passive and less violent tribes might have said, "Yes! Yes!" to every question made, and yet remained wholly indifferent to the claims of God upon their heart.

 

These wild natives of the wood had told us on our arrival in their country that they did not want us, that they would sweep us off the earth, poison our water and cause our destruction, and they immediately and persistently set about doing it. They would never listen, they said, to the voice of the white man. The scene was now changed. Day by day meetings were held to which no objection was raised. These natives now listened to truths which seemed to hold them with a living grasp. They felt in their inmost souls that the Book mirrored their lives, and, not only that, but brought them news of a Savior so mighty as to be equal to their deepest needs.

 

Many hundreds of them we reckoned as our faithful friends, and under certain formal conditions they might have been enrolled as followers and adherents as so-called christians. Alas, that they did not fall at the feet of Jesus and own Him as their Savior. One may wonder why they did not do so. And yet, in how many congregations in the homeland, crowds of would-be worshippers meet in the various church buildings week after week, but still refuse to accept the free gift of God and fail to surrender their lives to the regenerating power of His Spirit.

 

Among these native tribes it is, humanly speaking, infinitely more difficult to be on the Lord's side. In their midst is Satan's throne. For long ages he has there reigned supreme. The people are bound hand and foot by the devil. The unwritten law of tribal custom enslaves them. The first man of a pagan tribe who proclaims himself a Christian has urgent need of a mighty power behind him. He needs more. He requires an almighty potency within him — the power of the Spirit of the Living God. Nothing short of that could enable the native warrior to take a stand, singly and alone, against the fiendish life and soul-enslaving environments of his tribe. Mere ritual, creeds, forms, and ceremonies are as rotten wood.

 

When my husband brought before them instances of many of their old warriors, who, during the famine, had confessed faith in Christ and had passed away while breathing the name of Jesus, they would say, "Yes! It is easy to believe on Jesus and die, but it is a different matter to believe on Jesus and live." They meant that the pattern of their bestial, tribal life was of such strong growth that it was utterly impossible for a native to burst the bonds of his bondage and free himself from the shackles of his degrading surroundings.

 

So it truly seemed from their human point of view. But, saith the Lord, "As the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." That Word which never can return void had been delivered. Seed had been sown in tears, and harvest would surely be gathered in joy. They had yet to learn the power of that supernal grace which makes all things new, and to experience the blessed fact that Christ is able to save unto the uttermost them who come unto God by Him.

 

Among a batch of strangers there came to our station one day a man belonging to a distant tribe. His appearance was not at all of a nice character. His countenance was gloomy, sullen and miserable, and his face was rendered all the more malevolent-looking by a peculiar sneer that lurked in his eye. He had often eaten human flesh, having cooked it in the clay pot with his native grain.

 

This man came to the meetings that we held for the natives and heard for a number of times the story of Jesus and His redeeming love. On one occasion, while my husband was speaking on the parable of the prodigal son, and seeking to express to the minds of the natives, as simply as he could, the great love of God in Christ Jesus, and His willingness to receive and pardon even those who had steeped their hands in human blood, this poor fellow was led to accept of Christ as his everlasting Redeemer. On a subsequent occasion, when he stood up before the meeting and confessed what Jesus had done for him in pardoning his sins and changing his heart and life, there was not a single face in the whole company of assembled natives that was not moistened with tears. There was a European sitting by us that day while this man was giving his testimony, and he was so overcome by the thrilling experience of that pagan convert that he covered his face with both hands while the floodgates of his own soul were opened.

 

After this baptism of the Holy Spirit, the work proceeded little by little under the obvious blessing of Almighty God. In a short period of time nine adult men and one woman individually sought and found a present salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, and experienced His power to change the heart and transform the life. These people publicly confessed their faith in the Savior before a large assembly of natives. For many months afterwards they were under our continual observation, when they gave undeniable evidence of regeneration of heart, and their testimony had a wonderful influence upon the whole tribe.

 

One of the ancient chieftains, with whom my husband had made blood brotherhood on first entering the country, had been a seeker after the truth for a long time, but he now came boldly out and professed to accept Jesus Christ as his Redeemer and Lord. One day, with a number of other natives, he was baptized in a river beneath his own village, and witnessed, before a large assemblage of natives who lined either bank of the stream, that Christ had saved him.

 

During the many years of persecution and danger we had passed through in the days gone by, that chieftain had never turned his back upon us: had never broken the troth he plighted by native custom; and when we were in danger from the natives of other districts, over whom he had no control, he came ever and always to tell us of their movements and tell us about their plans.

 

When the old man was converted to God I had a native in the kitchen who was one of the most hopeless natives of which I have had any experience. He was a perplexing trouble to me night and day. He belonged to the wily vengeful warrior type: a skilled deceiver and an talented liar. It seemed impossible for him to open his mouth without conveying an untruth. Even regarding matters of comparatively unimportance, he would utter the most blatant lies in a relaxed way. I had passed hundreds of natives through my hands, and in doing so I had learned great patience, and had always been rewarded by eventually witnessing some change for the better. With this son of the wilds, however, I was greatly disappointed, but my past experience never allowed me to consider the worst person as hopelessly depraved.

 

At our meeting one day, this man listened to my husband's message concerning the power of Jesus Christ to save the most corrupt and debased human beings that ever lived, if they would only surrender themselves soul and body to Him, and accept Him as their Savior. Then there was a pause, and the question was asked, "Who is going to accept of that Savior today?"

While the meeting was hushed in silence there was one single response. With moistened eye and subdued attitude, and an honesty which was beyond question or doubt, this big, broad-shouldered, athletic native answered in manly tones that he had taken Christ as his Savior. Our hearts were humbled before the mighty power of the Spirit of God.

 

From that hour there was a big change in that man's life. Weeks fled and months passed by, but the work which had been wrought in the heart of the burly native by the Holy Spirit remained and brought forth daily fruit in a transformed life. I have seen and heard of many cases of wonderful conversion to God in Great Britain, but never in my life have I witnessed such a wonderful change and miraculous transformation as I did in that native warrior. He, with a good many other converts, entered the service of the Government, where they boldly witnessed before their friends about the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

CHAPTER 25
GOSPEL OR EDUCATION ?

 

For some time a part of the busy and strenuous life of my husband had been occupied, both before and after the great famine, in seeking to impart to the youths what may be termed secular education. The term "secular " is used for lack of a better word, for to the true Christian there is no work secular or worldly. To the saint every part of life is hallowed, and whatever he does is to the glory of God.

 

To my husband the work of teaching the children to read was very poor, due partly to the roving, nomadic customs of the Akamba tribe. Whenever boys had just mastered the characters and a few syllables of their language, we generally found them ready to move to some other district.

 

Above and beyond this, was the fact that my husband was never quite clear that he was fulfilling the will of God in filling his time imparting secular knowledge to the unsaved. Often we heard the natives talking of the death of one and another of their friends whom we had never seen, and who had passed away without ever hearing even the sound of the name of Him in whom alone there is salvation. And these tragic scenes were occurring within easily reached distances from our own station, while we were busy explaining the sounds expressed by certain characters. The familiar lines of Bonar often rang in our ears:

 

Men die in darkness at thy side,
Without a hope to cheer the tomb;
Take up the torch and wave it wide —
The torch that lights Time's thickest gloom.

 

My husband felt condemned for using any part of his time in giving secular education while men were passing away who had never heard the glad news of eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ. When our minds thought about the great, wide field of Missionary enterprise, and realized the vast number of Missionaries whose whole time is taken up with secular education, we were gradually led to the conclusion that there was something radically wrong in the modern method of conducting Missions to the unreached people groups who are lost in their sins.


To all those who are truly interested in the proclamation of the Gospel of the grace of God, there must arise at times the question, "Is the best use being made of the men and means available to accomplish the legitimate hope that in this generation the men of every tribe and nation shall, at least, hear the message of salvation through our risen Lord?" One cannot but realize that, however bright are the prospects in certain parts of the world, yet in some seemingly prosperous Mission fields how few real conversions there are among those who are enrolled as so-called christians. By "conversion" I do not want lip-service to a teaching or truth, the pronouncing of a shibboleth, nor any merely pretend outward attachment to a sect or denomination, nor yet the fashionable, or may be national, following of the Missionary and his Book. We want only that regeneration of heart — the work of the Holy Spirit in all those who believe and receive the Gospel of Christ, as taught in the New Testament.

 

In the first century how few Christian workers there were, how isolated and independent their position, and how terrible the persecutions they endured, but what great results followed the labors of those few men of Galilee and Judea, most of whom were ignorant and unlearned. In the twentieth century what numbers of men and women are professedly laboring in the Gospel — oh that there were ten thousand times more! — but are the results in these latter days at all appropriate for opportunities presented to them; while at their back there exists such massive, religious machinery, in the form of organized societies with large incomes of many tens of thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds per year?

 

All must agree that the present spiritual issues of Missionary work are in no way to be compared with those which followed the labors of the few disciples of the Carpenter of Nazareth, who turned the world upside down in the first century, though they had neither Missionary society, printing press, steamships nor trains to help their work.

 

Everyone in whose heart there is a spark of true spiritual life will ask themselves why is it so? One thing is certain, God's arm is not shortened that it cannot save. He willeth that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. His voice still calls to fallen man, "Come let us reason together, though yours sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow." It demands of us, therefore, to ask ourselves, in deep humility, if there is anything lacking in the usual methods of doing present-day Missionary work? Is there a cancer at the roots? Is there a fungus among the branches?

 

Perhaps none would be more ready than the Missionaries themselves to acknowledge that there is something wrong, which they cannot pinpoint; that there is a malignant growth, on which they are unable to place their finger. There are those who would suggest that the presence of unsaved men and women in the field — prophets whom the Lord "sent not, yet they ran" — is a great barrier to the progress of the Gospel. Others would say that in some cases Missionaries cling to the fashions and customs of the world, instead of obeying the voice of God in coming out from among them and being separate and touching not the unclean thing. Is there not, however, something else which bears not the "hallmark" of the New Testament methods-of proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.

 

Let one question be asked, and if that is faithfully and truthfully answered, it may bring to light the one great cause of the lack of spiritual results commensurate with the Missionary operations of today. How many Missionaries are engaged in giving secular education to the lost people who have been instead sent out to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and salvation through His Name? May it not be that the vast majority of the Missionaries in the foreign field being so employed is the one great fungous growth, which, like a vampire, is sucking the blood of all Missionary power.

 

Be it emphatically known that concerning secular education, we do not disagree with it. It is a good thing; but education does not change the heart nor save the soul, or else from out our seminaries of learning there would not go forth year by year the subtlest false christians and the most wicked people.

 

Who would be even bold enough to suggest that the educated West End of London, with all its advantages of birth and worldly estate to boot, is more holy than the uneducated East End, which has been nurtured in degrading environment? The Gospel of Jesus Christ alone can regenerate the heart, and to preach that Gospel the Missionary is truly sent forth, and for that work he is manifestly supported.

 

Jesus Christ himself never said one single word about secular education, and it is notorious that his apostles (except Paul) were chosen from uneducated men. The people of Palestine in the beginning of the Christian era were a comparatively illiterate race, but Jesus Christ did not send out his disciples among the Galilean hills to increase the educational abilities of the population, but only to preach the Gospel which saves and regenerates, and of which the learned Paul was not ashamed, for he found it to be the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.

 

If Paul and his associates had settled down in some village or among some inhabited hillsides, and offered worldly inducements to the children to come and learn the first principles of their own language, would historians have had to chronicle such world-astounding conquests of the Gospel as have been recorded in the first century of the Christian era? That this mode has been adopted in many parts of the mission field no one can deny. To say the very least of it, what a grotesque, insincere and un-Christlike mode of proclaiming the Gospel. I do not think it is too much to assert that the devil is probably quite satisfied with the present arrangements, and that as long as the professed "Heralds of the Cross "occupy their lives with the work of imparting secular instruction, he will continue to give his approving smile.

 

Every Missionary well knows that in heathen lands the arch-enemy of mankind has for ages held undisputed sway. There the simple follower of Christ encounters the most diabolical onslaughts and the fiercest opposition. It is there the enemy strikes his mightiest blows, and directs his deadliest shafts. He does not always, however, appear in forms satanic. His ways are movable, thou canst not know them. If he can only foist upon the Missionary some idea, which, if carried out, would retard the onward progress of the enlightening, soul-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, how gladly will he transform himself into an angel of light. Has he not done so, in inducing so many Messengers of the Cross to believe that the imparting of education to the heathen is, in some sense or other, analogous to the preaching of the Gospel.

 

In a Missionary book recently published, the author makes the following statement: — "If there is one thing that the Missionary has less to do with than another it is preaching. He rather assumes the roles of teacher, schoolmaster, etc., for he has learned that the African cannot be a saint without being a scholar and an artisan."

 

It is surely a travesty and defamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus to assert that, before men can be saints, they must become either mathematicians or craftsmen. To assume that a man's salvation depends, in any sense, upon his ability to read and write and solve problems, is no less than a covert confession of unbelief in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save the soul.

 

The revealed will of God declares that no man who comes to Christ is ever cast out, and that all who truly believe in His Name and accept Him as their Savior are born of God, and have passed from death unto life, and this irrespective of the degree of knowledge they possess, whether acquired by observation, experience or study. We have not the faintest evidence from the Scriptures of Truth, or even from our own fallible experience, that education makes men more ready or willing to accept God's Message. The most astute philosopher and cultured scientist are just as difficult to lead to a knowledge of salvation as the simple rustic or illiterate yokel.

 

Of the first fifteen men who were converted to God on our Station, fourteen had never learned to read a syllable of their own language, and all of them were fearless witnesses to the saving power of God, and lived a life of Christian testimony in their own villages.

 

Education is a power, just as wealth is a power; but wealth does not save the soul, and neither does education. Both may be harnessed in the cause of Christ, or prostituted to the service of the evil one. Wealth may be laid upon the altar for the furtherance of the Gospel of the world's Savior, and for the amelioration of human woe, or devoted to blighting and destructive purposes. Education, set apart and consecrated to God, may become a mighty potency in spreading the glad tidings of salvation, but what a scorching, withering, debasing influence emanates from the lecherous voice of the educated debauchee, and flows through the pen of the cultured writer of immoral and degrading literature. Educated men may be saved just as wealthy men may be saved, but they are saved in spite of their education and wealth, not because of them.

 

It can be useful that men and women who are born of God should be educated, and that institutions be established for the training of all be available; for, although the lack of education does not affect the saintship of the native, it may to an extent limit the sphere of his usefulness. Hence it is expedient that all those who are changed by the grace of God should be trained, and more fully fitted to be messengers of salvation to their unregenerate companions.

 

Whatever advantages, however, education confers, a passport to the Mansions of the redeemed is not one of them. The Gospel of Jesus alone can accomplish the miraculous work of regenerating the human heart. May we ever remember the wise remark of the old Japanese Christian to a late University professor on the eve of his departure from the East. "Tell the people," said he, "who send out the Missionaries that we need less formulas and more Christ." In taking to the heathen the soul-saving Gospel, we have in many cases been most careful to introduce with it many of the hoary excrescences and morbid developments which have attached themselves with parasitical tenacity to God's evangel, impeding spiritual life and veiling the redemptive power of the Omnipotent Savior. Let us lop off these non-essentials, and as faithful followers of the Master cling to New Testament Christianity, knowing nothing among the heathen "except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." No ceremonial bolstering nor educational attainments are necessary to prepare the heart to accept that everlasting life which is the free gift of a loving God.

 

Even to those who expected to find their salvation through a mere ritualistic examination of the Sacred Writings, Christ said, "Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and these are they which testify of ME; and ye will not come unto ME that ye might have life."

 

If education is necessary to salvation, and if the earth's illiterate must be educated before they are prepared to receive the Gospel of the grace of God, when is the evangelization of the world to be accomplished? Leaving out of consideration the immense continent of Africa, with its countless tribes speaking hundreds of different languages, and the millions of China with conditions and figures which are both alike staggering, let us look for a moment at the comparatively small peninsula of India. Of its (then around 1900 AD) 300,000,000 (by 2000 AD a billion!) of people over 280,000,000 are unable to read or write. There are 89,000,000 adult women over fifteen years of age, and of these there are 88,500,000 uneducated.

 

In connection with this subject, I give a short quotation from the letter of a lady Missionary in India. "It must not be supposed," she says, "that a year is the average time in which a Hindi woman will learn to read. Miss B. and I have been teaching a pupil for four months who has only just got over the difficulty of letters and vowel marks! She is not more dull than the average of her class, many of whom begin to learn only to get weary of it when they see the difficulties. . . . I do not expect that she will be able to read the Bible by this time next year, even with our united efforts."

 

Again, when a Missionary was asked how long he thought it would take a coolie, aged thirty-three, to learn to read in the Oriya character, the answer was: "Very few would believe they could learn at all at such an age. If determined and methodical, a man might succeed in six or seven years, but it would be hard work."

 

Granted that Missionaries accept the fallacy that education is an essential introduction to conversion, when, in the name of God and humanity, at the present rate of missionary education, are these millions of ignorant heathen to be ready to "behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world?!"

 

I repeat once more that Jesus Christ never gave utterance to one syllable about education, nor is there a single statement recorded on the subject from the lips of His apostles. The learned have never had a monopoly of grace. The religion of Jesus Christ is a life, not an education. Education, however preliminary or advanced, means nothing in relation to one's nearness to Christ. "The world by wisdom knew not God." "God hath made foolish the wisdom of this world." A native's Christianity depends no more upon the amount of education he receives than it does on the quantity of clothing he wears. Men are not Christians by education no more than they are by birth. A man may be born a Hindu, or a Muslim, or a Taoist; but Christians are made — created by the Holy Spirit of God through the Message of the Word; and it is the task of Missionaries to proclaim that Message.

 

Surely the Gospel has been kept back from the lost multitudes long enough. It is but a century since European Christendom began to think seriously of obeying Christ's last injunction. Never before were the nations of the world so ready to welcome the Heralds of the Cross as they are today. Would it not be an unpardonable crime to attempt to give them education instead of the soul-saving Gospel of the Lord Jesus? They ask for bread: shall we give them a stone?!

 

CHAPTER 26
STRENUOUS TOIL AND ENFORCED REST

 

The few unlettered men who had been regenerated by the Spirit of God on our Station had a truly marvelous influence on the surrounding natives, and the result was that the entire tribe was won over to a willingness to bestow at least a patient hearing to the claims of Christ. Due to the wandering customs of the people, those who had been gripped by the Truth were enabled, in moving from one part of the country to another, to proclaim the love of Jesus to fallen man. The character of the whole tribe had been so changed that life and property had become safer than in London or New York.

 

One of the men, who had been born of God and who had exhibited a great transformation of character, was sent, with a large following of raw, young natives, to bring to the Mission Station a caravan of supplies which had arrived for us at the railway. On their return journey, the weary and heavily-laden file of men were entering some dense bush wherein to camp for the night, when they came upon two freshly murdered bodies lying in the wilds.

 

Knowing that the murderers were probably hiding in the area, the unarmed carriers began to throw down their loads and make for the open country. The converted headman, however, with great presence of mind, cut short the stampede by calling the men together and telling them that he himself had once been a waylayer and murderer, and how he had been led to know the Lord; and assured them that God was able to protect them during the night if they would only ask Him in sincerity.

 

The convert's plain, blunt testimony had a soul stirring effect upon every man in that company. There and then they all knelt down among the bushes in the jungle, in the vicinity of the disfigured corpses, and commended themselves to the overshadowing care of that Almighty God, who was able to defend them from all the dangers of the night.

 

In the fast-fading twilight, they set about forming their camp some distance from the fallen victims, and, around the fire that was kindled in the bush, that regenerated son of Africa preached to those rude native companions a message of love and pardon, which under the power of God mightily influenced their lives.

 

Sometimes months of hard and severe work passed by without any apparent results, but the seed of the Word was being planted, and was bringing forth fruit unto eternal life, in hearts which were seemingly far away from our sphere of influence. One day my husband met in the bush a stately warrior, whom he had seen attending our preaching assemblies more than a year before. This young man with his two wives had moved from our district to a remote part of the country. Grasping the opportunity presented by this casual meeting, my husband talked with him regarding the matter of taking Christ as his Savior, and was surprised when the warrior replied that he had already done so. He said that at one of our meetings long ago he had given his heart to Jesus, and that God had changed his life. On being asked about the spiritual condition of his wives, he replied that now he had only one, having sent the second one away.

 

My husband was very much taken by surprise, as he was decidedly opposed to the idea of a man who had become a Christian putting away any of his wives, although he always asked young unmarried men to have only one wife. He was, therefore, anxious to know the cause of the disbanding of the second spouse. The warrior replied that before he had become a Christian he had captured his additional wife, on a raiding expedition against the Kikuyu, and after his heart was changed he asked her if she would like to go back to her former husband and tribe; and, having received an answer in the affirmative, he accompanied her to the border of her own land.

 

We were rejoiced to hear of the way in which the Lord had taught this young man by His Spirit, and guided him into the way of righteousness and truth. The people of the district in which he lived were amazed at the revolution which had been wrought in his life, and were greatly influenced by his faithful witness.

 

Due to the long-sustained strain of many years of laborious and constant work, my own health and that of my husband showed signs of serious collapse. In the early days, fever had laid us low on many occasions, but when the paroxysms disappeared we quickly recovered our strength, and were able to go on with the work as before. As the years passed by, however, the powers of recovery became weaker and, when stricken with fevers, restoration became delayed and lengthened. At last it was evident that the nerves were beginning to show signs of exhaustion, through the never-ending demand made upon them during the many years of severe life in the jungle. Appetite was failing and, as the days passed, rest in sleep was more difficult to obtain. For a period of ten years we never had a furlough nor any break whatever, and it was quite obvious that there was a limit to human endurance, and that a change to the home climate was absolutely important.

 

The Lord had so blessed the work of introducing fruit growing in Ukamba, that, not only was the station self-supporting, but we were able to provide for our journey to England and the heavy cost it required, as well as the supplies, ocean passage and support of a stand-in missionary in our absence.

 

Through a friend in England we heard of a Christian worker who was eager to come out to Central Africa for a couple of years, and arrangements were immediately made for his departure. After he arrived in the country several months were taken in initiating him into the work, and imparting to him a preliminary idea of the language, until, with the aid of my husband's vocabulary book, he was able to express himself to the natives in broken sentences.

 

We then hastened to make arrangements for our leaving, as my husband, who had been one of the most robust of men, was daily getting more weak and worn. From early morning till late at night he was ever devotedly engaged in the countless and never ending work of a Mission Station in the wilds, literally fulfilling Paul's words by working night and day that he might not burden anyone, while he preached to the natives the Gospel of God.

 

When we were about to start on our homeward journey he was stricken with severe malarial fever, and for some days lay at the point of death. At length he became so ill that he could not speak to me, and our newly-arrived helper believed that he was dying. Shortly before passing into unconsciousness, while he was yet able to talk with me, he told me that he did not expect to recover; and asked me to bury his body underneath a large tree, where for a long time he had labored with the natives, while reducing to writing the language of the people.

 

I could not but believe, however, that the Lord would raise him up and enable him to see once more the faces of our children, who were at school, and from whom we had been apart so long. I continued to pray for his recovery, and, while busily engaged in nursing him, I snatched some spare minutes for the work of packing up for our long journey, and getting clothing ready for our two little children, whom we were taking with us to place at boarding-schools in England.

 

Our four ship passages had already been paid for, and I sent messengers fifty miles away with a letter to the Uganda Railway, asking for a reserved carriage on the last train by which we could catch our steamer at the Coast. Since two days' journey separated us from the railway, a caravan of men was hired to carry there my husband and the children, together with our camping supplies and baggage.

 

On the day previous to that on which we were to leave the Mission Station, my husband was no better, but rather worse than before, and seemed as if he might die any moment. He was quite unable to give me any message: nevertheless, the Lord assured me that He would remove the fever and raise him up. During the succeeding night the fever passed away, but left him so exhausted as to be utterly unable to move hand or foot. In the dawn of the early morning, six stalwart natives carefully carried him outside the Mission house, and laid him in a hammock which I had prepared.

 

As the silent sun rose in the east, the caravan slowly moved out of the station, amid the sorrowful farewell words of the natives, who had assembled at that early hour to get a last look at the Bwana. The whole multitude were deeply affected at the conditions of our departure. What an amazing change had passed over that native land since the day we first pitched our tent among its fierce and wild inhabitants. Then they subtly wanted to cause our destruction, while their young warriors now considered it an honor to be allowed to carry my husband's weak and emaciated form.

 

After two days' marching, the caravan halted in the bush at a little iron shed, designated "railway station," and there laid my husband in the carriage set apart for our use. Although unable to sleep due to the jolting motion of the train, yet we were thankful to God for the wonderful prospect of reaching the sea on the following day. As the train progressed along her track in the bushy wilderness, we found ourselves literally covered by the perpetual cloud of brick-red dust which the train swept along as she penetrated the jungle.

 

The long weary hours of that day and night dragged slowly by, but before the morning sun had reached the zenith we had arrived at Mombasa, and soon made our way in a coasting boat to Zanzibar, where we embarked for Marseilles. I had a terribly anxious time on the way through the Indian Ocean, for my husband got a serious relapse, and was so weakened for several days that the ship's doctor took quite a serious view of his case.

 

When we reached the Red Sea our little son, Fred, was also stricken with fever, and remained severely ill all the way through the Mediterranean until he reached Marseilles, where we noticed a slight change for the better. We had a cold, stormy channel passage from Calais to Dover, and our recovering boy, who was covered up with travelling rugs and laid on one of the long deck seats, looked so pale and death-like that a French passenger asked us if the boy was dead.

 

On arriving in London, thin and weak and worn, we had a hearty Christian welcome at Miss Mason's House of Rest, Finchley Road, N.W., and the kind attention of Miss Thompson and Miss Foord will linger long in our memories.

 

After such an extended period of life amidst barbaric surroundings, our clothing was so clearly out-of-date that, to save ourselves from being stared at, we had to go away to some stores to purchase a new outfit. This, from my point of view, was very difficult to obtain; for we could find nothing in the West End shops, especially in head-gear, which was not more savage-looking than the war-feathers of the African warriors we had left behind us in the jungle!

 

Our boys and girls who had been at school had grown so much that we could not have recognized them had we met them unexpectedly in the street. Under the blessing of Almighty God we gradually gained strength, and would have gladly remained for a longer period, so that the benefit already obtained might become permanent. Due, however, to very unfavorable news from our substitute whom we had left in charge on the field, we felt compelled to return immediately to our station. We learned that the industrial work of the Mission had broken down and failed to be self-supporting.

 

Under these adverse conditions we returned to our work in Ukamba. While at home the Lord had granted us the gracious blessing of another son, the only one of all our children we took out to the field. On our arrival we were received with open arms by the natives, who crowned the hills on our way to the Mission house; and it was quite an affecting scene to see the old chieftain boldly running forward to my husband and putting his arms around him to welcome him back among the tribe.

 

Soon the meetings were well attended, and the work of the station was progressing favorably. In our itinerant work we had very hearty receptions from the people. In many cases they went round the district and drummed up the inhabitants for our meetings. We were so impressed with the opportunities of work among the men of a neighboring chief, in a district to which there tended a continual migratory stream of natives, that we resolved to build there a second Station. The difficulties were great, inasmuch as there was no building timber in that part of the country, but eventually, after a heavy expense, which were wholly supplied by the fruit-growing of the older Station, our purpose was accomplished.

 

The chief himself showed deep sympathy with our work among his people, and ordered them to attend our meetings, while at times he gave bright hopes of giving his own heart to God. We had very large and interesting assemblies in the park like country surrounding his villages. To these meetings the chieftain always came with a large group of his elders, and all listened with devout attention to the Gospel message. In fact, throughout his entire area of authority the Gospel was kindly received, and, although there were few conversions, yet fresh ground was broken up and great interest awakened in the revelation of God.

 

The chieftain, after the manner of most African rulers, had occasional drunken parties; and some of his numerous wives were kept continually employed in pounding the sugar cane, in the long hollow logs in which his slightly intoxicating beverage was made. In accordance with my husband's request he gave up his revelry, but we were greatly disappointed that he fell short of coming to a final decision for Christ. Although he had undoubtedly a sincere desire to know God truly, yet he felt that he would have too much to give up. Like a certain rich young man who came to Jesus, he thought the claims of Christ were too demanding upon him, and "he went away sorrowful, for he was one that had great possessions." From the African standpoint this chief was abundantly gifted with worldly goods, for he had, in addition to numerous cattle, fifty wives and about one hundred and fifty children.

 

A new characteristic of our work, which gave promise of much immediate blessing from God, was that of ministering to men of the Kikuyu tribe, into the heart of whose country we were the first to penetrate. These people came to us from time to time in large bands from a distance of fifty to sixty miles, seeking work with us.

 

Because as we had extended the industrial work, with the double purpose of extending our opportunities of preaching the Gospel and making the Station increasingly self-supporting, we received them in large numbers, and housed them in booths nearby the Mission house. These bands of men remained with us for several months at a time, and we found the great advantage of being in continual touch with them day by day. They were most responsive to the message of the Gospel, and many of them found in Christ a personal Savior, and went home to their villages to spread among their own people the news of a Redeemer's love.

 

In character and disposition they differ considerably from the Akamba. Although more sullen and rude, and less independent and open than the Akamba, yet their great redeeming quality is their humility, which renders them more fitted and prepared for an immediate reception of the truths of the Christian truth. Christ definitely and unmistakably teaches that humility is a condition to spiritual blessing. In all our experience with natives we never met a people who were more superficially repulsive, and yet so responsive to the Gospel, as the Kikuyu. Their immediate enjoyment of Gospel light we attributed to their fulfillment of the first scriptural stipulation necessary to regeneration of heart, which is a ready willingness to admit themselves to be sinners before God. The Lord's promise is to lift up the meek, and beautify them with salvation. "He giveth grace to the lowly."

 

Many hundreds of these people made their home with us during a period of several years. The meetings we had with them were of no mere formal character. A spirit of real life and earnest seeking after God pervaded every assembly. Treacherous murderers confessed their deeds before God, and rejoiced to know that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, had cleansed them from all sin, and that in Him they were washed and sanctified and justified. We have good reason to believe that ere long the Kikuyu tribe, which was once so bloodthirsty, stubborn and difficult to approach, will be the foremost of Christ's front line along the eastern equatorial regions of the Great Continent.

 

Among men of other tribes, who came to our station and remained with us for long periods, were warriors of the Masai clan. We never had more than four or five of these at a time, as the whole tribe had ever had a keen dislike to manual labor. Many of them from time to time had heard from us the glad tidings of salvation, and, although as a tribe they show no eagerness in obeying the truths of the Gospel, yet we have had some definite cases of conversion among them.

 

Of these there were two which, in a remarkable manner, manifested the wonderful grace of God. In the very prime of physical manhood there came to us a couple of Masai warriors, dripping with oil and ochre, and carrying in their hands the long gleaming spears which ever constituted their invincible armor. They soon settled down to work on our station, and listened with ever-increasing interest to the words of Eternal Life. Their one great objection to the Gospel of Jesus, and it loomed very large in their imagination, was the fact that the Great God, who knows all things, should place them in the same position in regard to salvation as the surrounding tribes, which they considered inferior to themselves.

 

Their disgust for these tribes had been so sharp and enduring that, in later years when passing them, and unable to pursue their usual violent method, they have tightly grasped their nose, lest they might sniff the polluted air from the bodies of their opponents. My husband took pains to inform them that in God's sight they were probably more guilty than many of the neighboring tribes whose flocks and herds they had raided.

 

At last these two brave warriors realized their position before God, and ultimately received into their hearts the implanted Word which is able to save the soul. They became so transformed and so Christlike in their manner and disposition that I am forced to say that I have met few, even among European Christians, who were more faithful followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

They often went away for a time to visit their own tribes, and as often returned to live with us. They formed an incredibly strong affection for my husband. To fulfill his commands they would have suffered any hardship, endured any exhaustion, sat up all night, or marched all day. Not only was their change of heart manifested in their great love to the Savior, but also to men of other tribes, whom they had been trained from their native childhood to ridicule and hate. In fact, their whole conduct before the heathen with whom they were in close daily contact was so excellent that the most careless and unobservant could not but detect the beauty of their transformed lives.

 

For some time we had been expecting that our daughter, who had just finished her education in England, might be enabled to come and help us in the work, and were rejoiced beyond measure to get the news of the date of her departure for Africa. Her arrival in the field inspired us with fresh courage to go forward with the work of preaching the Gospel.

 

While at school she had completely forgotten the African languages, although born and brought up in the country, but in the course of a month they came back to her quite readily, and she was then able to talk fluently in two native languages.

 

The long dry season was then upon us, and the most of our meetings were held under the open canopy of heaven, and the hills re-echoed when the natives joined in singing the Gospel hymns, which my husband had translated into their tongue. At these homely gatherings, where the people squatted on the grass among the bushes, we were often joined by several Muslims who, since the Uganda railway had been constructed, traveled freely on petty trading expeditions through the country.

 

They all spoke the Swahili language of the Coast, with which my husband was quite familiar. After the ordinary meetings in the Kikamba language were over, he always held a second meeting for those who knew Swahili. The Muslims listened with the utmost attention to the Message, and oftentimes there followed hours of conversation regarding the claims of the soul-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord vouchsafed His blessing on these free and informal interchanges of thought, and many of the enquirers were led to go away from the Mission Station with hearts lighted by the light of the Gospel.

 

On one occasion, when we were passing through Nairobi, where the Government had established their headquarters, we had some very profitable meetings in the Muslim quarter of the settlement. While preaching there in the open highway to a large and eager crowd, my husband was greatly opposed and interrupted by a big Swahili Muslim who had Arab blood in his veins. His distracting ejaculations continued throughout the greater part of that meeting, but towards its close the Spirit of God convinced him of the power of Jesus Christ to save the lost, and he went away with the dispersing crowd in a subdued mood.

Later in the day, at a second meeting held in the same place, the man brought a large number of others to hear the Message, and he seemed both contrite and believing, stating that he had received Christ as his Savior. Never have I seen a man turn about in so short a time. He came up and shook my husband warmly by the hand, and thanked him for bringing to their district the news of salvation through "Isa Masiya," (Jesus Christ). At the same time he introduced to us a bright, happy-looking, half-caste Arab, who, many years previous, had been converted to God through the instrumentality of W. E. Taylor of the Church Missionary Society, at an open-air meeting in the market-place of Mombasa. It was an infinite pleasure to us to converse with these Muslim men who had been released from the enslaving yoke of Islam.

 

As the years passed by, there was ever-increasing evidence that my husband's physical endurance and sleeping powers were fast declining, and we had great reason to fear that the continual tension of the exhausting work in which he was engaged might permanently undermine his health. Malignant fevers often laid him low, but after a period of recovery he labored on in the work he so dearly loved with very little diminution of either travail or interest, until an acute attack of pleurisy completely prostrated him for a lengthened time. From the devastating effects of this problem it seemed as if he would never fully recover, while insomnia became more and more accentuated. In addition to the unending work of evangelization, which in itself was sufficient to exhaust the normal energies of any ordinary man, there was the continual strain of superintending the industrial work of fruit growing, on which alone we were dependent for the support of the Mission. It was clearly demonstrated that to save our lives the work must be given up, and an extended rest obtained; while there seemed no doubt that my husband would never again be able to attempt to carry on self-supporting Missionary work.

 

As for myself, the long years of exceedingly trying conditions of life in which I brought up a large family in the wilds, coupled with severe fevers, had greatly reduced my strength. My clothing, and that of my husband, hung so loosely about our bodies, that it seemed as if the garments had never been made for us. Our daughter had repeated strokes of the sun, which proved that she was incapable of enduring the climate.

 

Having finally decided on the absolute necessity of leaving the field, we disposed of the fruit garden at one-fifth its cost, and handed over to the Africa Inland Mission the work of the evangelization of the district. We also passed into their hands the published books of the Kikamba language, and granted to them the right of reprinting the same, while the director cordially assured us that, with God's help, they would do all in their power to evangelize the territory assigned to them.

 

We committed to the care of our faithful Heavenly Father the dear people of Ukamba, whom we had learned to cherish with a deep and fervent love. His abiding grace we sought for all those who had embraced Christ as their Savior, that they might be able, in the different sections of the country, to spread their borrowed light upon the night of heathen darkness around them.

With mingled feelings we said goodbye to scenes which shall ever haunt us as long as life shall last: scenes of terrible conflict, of imminent danger, of cunning treachery, of constant opposition, of tentative friendship and of real love: scenes of untold hardships, of inconceivable trials, of sickness, hunger, famine and death: scenes of deep contrition and, thanks be to God, of soul freedom!

 

CHAPTER 27
SAFE HOME AT LAST

 

Much water has flowed down the hills and gullies of Akamba since the preceding chapters were written. Much might be recorded of all that has since, by the grace of God, been accomplished in the intervening eight years, but I intend only to outline here the events of a brief fourteen months.

 

In February, 1913, a little party of four set out to visit once again the field to which they had been called of the Lord. Little did we think, when England's cliffs faded away on the horizon, that two of our number were going out never to return. Mombasa was reached after four weeks, and we were glad to be back once more amidst dusky faces. Vast changes had, however, been produced since our last visit to the country. At the port of landing, and at Nairobi, the capital of B.E.A., we found many large stone buildings in course of erection which told of commercial activity and prosperity. The country was being gradually occupied by European settlers, and stretches of country, where so recently nature had held full sway, and where wild beasts roamed unmolested, were being gradually brought under the influences of civilization. Wagon tracks showed themselves over the previously track¬less bush, and here and there, as one moved about over familiar scenes, something of a new era appeared in the glimpses which we caught of stretches of newly-turned red-brown earth and freshly planted belts of trees.

 

Africa is changing under the impulses of civilization, and Africa's sons, too, must change. Little troubled by these new influences, they are quickly adapting themselves to the ways of the white man, and are becoming increasingly skilled workers. It is inexpressibly sad, however, to realize what potent evil influences have at the same time been introduced by Indians and others. In the towns especially there is in a marked degree an evidence of the degradation that is the outcome of civilization without Christ.

 

In the tribal reserve, however, to which we now bent our way no great changes had been formed. Old friends crowded round us as we settled down close to our former home on the N'gelani hills to await the Lord's opening to a new area of work. Many were the welcomes we received, and our hearts went up in praise to God that He had given us an entrance with those to whom we had come to proclaim afresh "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." My son Stuart and daughter Eva had altogether forgotten the native language, but with the help of a faithful Christian native, Nzau, they made rapid progress. This man had been led some years before to acknowledge Christ through the instrumentality of a devoted servant of God, Mr, M'Kenrick. As they wandered round the hills, from village to village, crowds of native children, boys and girls, would follow them and take great interest in the education of the Bwana (sir/master) and Bibi (mistress) in their language; they would point out some object, naming it at the same time, and would be highly delighted to hear their new friends and pupils repeating it after them.

 

We erected several huts at this camp to supplement our tent accommodation, and here we were destined to wait for over six months, pending a grant from the Government of a suitable site for a Mission Station. Night after night beside the camp fires would we gather the natives around us, telling them of the Savior's love, and pleading their surrender to Him. Nzau, who was constantly with us, often added, in words more graphic than our own, his testimony to the saving and keeping power of God, and, though few were led out into public confession of Him, we know that, by the Holy Spirit's power, hearts were touched; later on we had the joy of hearing several profess acceptance of Christ. Occasionally my husband would go out, accompanied by Stuart and a few porters, to carry light camp equipment. They would spend several days at a time seeking to reach with the Gospel villages that were beyond our daily scope.

 

It was when on one such journey that he was led to the base of some hills, twenty-five miles away, to the village of a chief who had in former years been living near us, but as a result of foreign settlement in that district had moved back with many others into fresh and uninhabited land. It was his request that we should leave our camp on the hills and settle down near to his own kraal, on land bordering the great forest-crowned hills of Donyo Sabuk. But we had yet to go through deep waters before that could be. A scourge of kiathi (yellow fever) had broken out in the area, and through it many a strong young native was brought to the grave in a few hours. On returning from the Donyo Sabuk district on the 20th July, 1913, my husband was riding along with Stuart, expecting to reach N'gelani on the following day. Camp was made near Coma Rock, on the plains between N'gelani and Donyo Sabuk, but soon after getting into camp Stuart com¬plained of feeling ill. The following letter tells more vividly than I can all that followed:—

 

N'gelani, July 25, 1913.

You will long since have received the sad news of our darling Tooty (our son Stuart's native name) having gone to be with Jesus, and we have been praying earnestly that God may bear you up in His arms that the message may not be too great a one for you to bear. Our hearts have been very sore, but our blessed Savior had drawn near to us, and we just look up to Him and say, "All must be well," although the void in our own home is very great. And now I will tell you in a few words some¬thing of the last hours our faithful brother spent on this earth. He and father went away for a journey of about twenty-five miles together across the plain to Mathaini. They left on a Monday, and mother and I were expecting them back on the Saturday following, but they did not arrive. On Sunday dear mother felt very lonely, and seemed to have a foreboding of some mishap to either Stuart or father, and as it happened it was on that very afternoon that our Tooty took ill with fever. In the morning he and father had been taking a meeting at one of the villages, and as the men thought it wise to move on a little way towards home, they proceeded to another big village on the plain. Stuart was then in perfect health and talking to father all the way.

 

On reaching the camping ground about four o'clock he said, "I feel a bit hungry, father." Daddy told him he would soon have a fire lit and the kettle boiling, and he began gathering some sticks. When he asked Stuart to help him drag in a log that was nearby, he replied that he did not feel able, so father went off to bring it himself, thinking that Stuart was a little tired and stiff from riding on the horse. When he came back, however, he found the poor boy with his face pale and yellow, and sitting with his head down between his knees. He told father he was feeling quite ill, so some grass was quickly gathered to serve for a mattress, and all the blankets were laid on this for him. Meanwhile his teeth were chattering, and he was shivering all over with cold, and was soon put to bed in a high fever. It was only half an hour from the time he rode into camp in health that he told father he believed he was going to die. Many a time during the night father thought that mother would never see her darling's face again, so terrible was his condition. A man was sent to cut a pole in the darkness, that, if possible, Stuart might be carried home in the morning; but towards daybreak perspiration broke on him and he got relief. He told father that he need not be carried, for he was able to sit on the horse and ride home, and so he did.

 

Accordingly a man was sent on ahead to tell mother that Stuart had been ill, and to ask us to get a bed ready for him in one of the grass huts, as this would be cooler than a tent. About one o'clock our dear boy rode info camp, but his pale and jaundiced face had death stamped on it. We laid him down on the bed we had prepared in the hut, but he could hardly speak to us, and was soon once again in a high fever, All the afternoon he was in great pain, and was continually asking for water; towards evening the delirium was greatly increased, and the pain in his head seemed to be almost unbearable, being relieved, only for a very short time, by bathing with cold water, The most he ever said was to call us by our names, but even this he was unable to do during the night.

 

That evening I wrote in my diary, "We have been laid very low at God's feet; we feel He has afflicted us to teach us His will, but have asked that dear Stuart's sufferings may not be prolonged." We little realized that in a few short hours his pain would be ended forever and ever. Mother, by God's grace, was led to note down at the same time in her own notebook, "In full and glad surrender I give my son to Thee." Jesus accepted that offering and the sacrifice that Tooty himself was willing to make for the cross of Christ. Mother and I lay down a short time to sleep, but though I got a little rest, yet mother got none; soon both of us were up again with father by Stuart's bedside, putting cold towels to his burning forehead to try and allay the pain. After midnight his sufferings were intense, and he could not speak, nor even recognize us. At four o'clock we saw what we might have called a change for the worse, but God knew better. He became black and blue in the face, and breathing was short and difficult; father said to us, "I am afraid to tell you, but the end is near."

 

Gradually those eyes, that just a short few hours before were bright and sparkling with life and health, became vacant and staring. We felt at that time the Lord so near and so mighty; we told Stuart that he was going to Jeans, and that we too would soon he with him. Often we repeated, "Jesus is going to take you home, darling." We quoted to him some promises of the Savior, "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat, for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." "Who are these that are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? These are they that came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Then we tried to sing the verse of a hymn; our hearts wanted to, but our throats stopped with grief, so we just repeated these words to our Tooty boy, three or four times, an we saw him nearing the brink of the narrow stream that divides this life from the life beyond:

 

When shall these eyes Thy heaven-built walls and pearly gates behold,
Thy bulwarks of salvation, strong and streets of shining gold?

 

Then, just five minutes before the Lord took him, his eyes lit up, and he was given consciousness to know that his earthly journey was at an end, and he was entering his eternal rest, for he made a desperate effort to pull out his hand from the blankets, gave us each a last grasp, and then pointed upwards with longing gaze. A beautiful stillness and placid peacefulness came over the once fever-tortured brow; he gave a smile, and then the eyes grew fainter, until at last with one soft gentle breath they closed, and our darling boy had been taken to the arms of Jesus. The blow was great, but we were ready; we had prayed and interceded with God at his bedside for His own glory to be accom¬plished, and left the choice with Him. Although our hearts were sad and borne down with grief, yet we could not but praise Him for His gracious love in taking our darling away from the cares and woes of this world. Only God knows what sorrows he has been spared through being called to glory in the flower of his early manhood. It was five o'clock in the morning, just as the light of day Was breaking, that be was taken, and as the sun rose above the hill I could not help looking away beyond to where he stands with the ransomed throng; his crowning day has come, and God has a blessed purpose in taking him away. It has affected my life, for more than ever I mean by His grace to strive for souls during ray few remaining days on earth. Oh! how quickly he was translated into eternity! Let you and I be ready every minute for that call! On Thursday, the twenty-fourth of July, we laid Stuart's body in the grave. I had made a wreath of roses with mother's help, and on a card eve put the words;

 

In Loving Memory of our Faithful and Devoted Stuart,
In whose regenerated life, the grace of Christ was magnified.
His Gain – Our Loss.

 

Father, with a heavy heart, had gone into Machakos on Tuesday morning to send you home the cable and order a coffin to be made. When our dear one's body had been laid in it, mother covered the box with a piece of white muslin. Many of the Europeans in the district Bent flowers and wreaths, and many, too, wrote us of their loving sympathy. About nine o'clock on Thursday morning the coffin was placed on a cart drawn by two oxen, and we made our way down to a lonely spot (near to the rocks where we used to play together, and overlooking the Akamba hills he loved so well), which was to be the last resting-place of his earthly tabernacle. We were accompanied by nine Europeans and about twenty natives, and at the open grave father used the oppor¬tunity of speaking to the white men of the great separation day. He asked them on which side they would stand, and showed them the importance of being ready for death. Young Mr. H—-— preached the Gospel to the natives, and all were deeply touched, many eyes being wet with tears. Stuart loved the Akamba, and they all loved him. His remains were buried near to a native pathway, where they might all see the memorial stones that we hope to raise above the spot, and be reminded of his pure, loving, self-sacrificing life.

 

Now I can say no more; just let us yield our all to Jesus. It won't be long before you and I will see Him too. Our days are soon spent and gone. One of us may be the next to follow. Oh! let us above all just witness for Jesus ! Let us tell out His salvation, until we see His face!


Eva.

 

Sad indeed were our hearts as we turned once more to the work the Lord had set before us, and more especially to my husband the loss had been a great blow, since Stuart had been his chief companion, in all the work that had been undertaken; but since the abiding and strengthening presence of Christ was all the nearer to each one of us, we could say with Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord had taken away, blessed be the Name of the Lord." Only five short months had elapsed since full of health and of hope Stuart had landed there to fulfill his Master's commands, and though God in His infinite love and mercy called him away so soon, yet we praise Him that in his death, as in his life, Christ was magnified.

 

As, after six months' waiting, we had been unable to obtain from the Government a plot in the native reserve for a Mission Station, we clearly saw the Lord's hand in the chief's request of the previous month to settle near him; moreover, the district was then just about to be opened up. In course of time a plot of land was obtained, and it was with thankful hearts that we made camp on the N’gelani hills. Our short journey was not, however, without difficulties, the place to which we were bound was infested with buffalo, rhino, lions, etc., and fear seemed to come upon the men that were to accompany us.

 

Ox wagons were obtained from neighboring farms, and all our supplies were securely packed on them. We had not, however, gone a mile before one wagon, in crossing a small gulley, was upset, and all its contents poured on the ground; such interruptions are no strangers to East African travel, and we consoled our hearts in patience until all was loaded again, and the oxen moved forward to the shouts of the drivers, who would urge on each ox by shouting its name, and bringing down the whip on the backs of any that failed to respond. When well trained, they rarely need anything beyond a call, for every working ox knows its name. One native only, our faithful cook named Kasbi, started out with us. We were joined en route by an Mkikuyu who was traveling that way and chose to go with us. After a long walk across the plain and many stops, we arrived at our goal shortly before nightfall. Once more we pitched tents after selecting a site near a spring of water. The next morning the ox wagons departed and we set about the work of establishing a home.

 

The chief, who had been influential in bringing us over, aided us greatly, by sending us men and women to bring materials for the house. The women obtained grass which was rank and long, up to six feet long; and the men went to the forest and to the riverbanks to cut and carry big poles and saplings for the framework of the house. My husband was very busy overseeing the work, but great opportunities of witnessing to those men and women of the saving power of Christ were not lost sight of. Day after day he would gather them together, and they would listen with rapt attention. One heart at least, that of Kasbi, the cook, found its peace in Christ.

 

The dry season was drawing to a close, and the long grass was now scorched and brown; the house was nearing completion after six weeks' labor, when one morning down in the valley, a mile or two below the house, a grass fire was seen. We had no misappre¬hension, however, as several small streams interposed between us and it, but the following account, written at the time by my husband to a friend, outlines in detail the outcome of that fire:

 

--After about six weeks of strenuous labor, during which time our eighty workers had increased to about one hundred, the desert was beginning to blossom as the rose. At midday resting hour we had some blessed meetings with these natives, whom we bad never met before. It was a moving sight to see the show of hands when they were asked who was willing to give his heart to the wonderful Savior of whom they had heard. During the course of the building we had several narrow escapes from bush fires which had raged in the vicinity, and at times were extinguished only with the greatest difficulty; indeed, all our men were engaged in beating the line of fire with leafy branches during the hours of the night, when the heavy dews considerably aided their efforts. Seeing the great danger in which we stood from conflagrations, we had a safety belt of fifteen feet wide cut round the entire encampment.

 

Six days ago, however, at noon, when the thermometer stood at its highest, and a strong and scorching wind was blowing, we were alarmed to find a devastating fire rushing rapidly towards our camp. All our men were called from their work, and a dash was made for the safety belt, while a number were sent for buckets of water, and others to cut down branches of green trees. On came the driving volume of flame, and in a few minutes it reached the spot where our terrified men had stood. On its near approach hope died within them, and they fled from their post, and no wonder, for the tongues of flame were being carried along by the wind well nigh a dozen yards ahead of the body of fire. These forerunning gushes of streaming flame leaped the circular belt of clear ground, and in a minute the two houses, which had cost so much labor to erect, and which were completely thatched with grass, were, together with our tents and stores, blazing towers of destruction. It was with some difficulty that Mrs. Watt and my daughter were brought out of the line of names to a place of refuge, where a previous fire had already passed over, and where we had just finished to erect the framework of a house intended for a training school.

 

From this place we watched the burning heap, where all our earthly possessions were being burned to ashes. We, ourselves, had escaped with the skin of our teeth. The few garments in which we stood were the worst we had possessed. All else was gone—houses, tents, camping requisites, implements, books, papers, letters, food, and clothing, and all the priceless records of a long and happy family life turned to ashes. There we stood in the bush, homeless, tentless, foodless, indeed almost bootless, without a bed to lie on, or a blanket to cover us from the cold of the night. Mrs. Watt almost collapsed when she realized the terrible position in which we had been placed, but after some hesitation we stood up and sang, "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow." The natives, I think, thought we bad gone mad, but after a few minutes we gathered them all together and told them that God had given and God had taken away, and He was to be praised in everything, since He knew what was beat for us. We hastily got a few bundles of grass put on one side of the house, as there were signs of rain approaching, and ere darkness came on, the first rains of our October and November rainy season had fallen. We lay down on some grass in one corner of the building, but not to sleep, for the shock of the day had been too great, and there were pangs of hunger in evidence, not having partaken of anything since seven o'clock that morning.

 

The next day the natives kindly brought us a little food, but it was so filthy that sheer exhaustion forced us to eat it. Thank God, our health has been sustained, save for slight fever due to a chill. Our hearts were encouraged when, a few hours after the fire, we saw a young boy of about thirteen years of age standing by us with tears in his eyes. He was one of those who had been converted to God at the last camp, where our son died, and he had left his home and followed us alone, over an uninhabited and dangerous plain, so that he might learn a little more of the Savior who had brought peace and light into his dark and troubled heart. The first thing he did was to pick up, and bring to us, out of a partially burnt book, an almanac, on which were printed two messages that spoke to us consolation and hope, "All things Work together for good to them that love God," and "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." With God's help we shall go on with the work just as usual, and during the rains shall remain in the school¬room which we are hastily completing.--

 

At this time our neighbor, a Scotsman, was a great help to us, as indeed he was later when in direr circumstances. We possessed no clothes except those we stood in when we fled from the flames, and we gladly took advantage of his offer to obtain for us some necessaries from Nairobi, which was about fifty miles away. The natives, too, whose hearts had been drawn out by the hardships into which we were thus plunged, were diligent in their attentions, and they exerted every effort in speeding up forward the building of the partially-erected hut. Many of them offered food from their gardens and supplies, and the chief, Ntheketha, sent a sheep for our empty storeroom, while Kasbi, our cook, himself set to and improvised a table made of palm-ribs.

 

After some time other huts were built for use as kitchen and dining-room, a new tent was procured from London, and again a start was made to build a house. The ashes of the old building were cleared away, but we were led to employ masons of the Baganda tribe, and to put up a substantial stone building with corrugated iron roof, which would be more or less fireproof. Some progress was made in the cultivation of a garden also, but the wild game that abounded, finding it unfenced, used nightly to ravage it, despite traps set for them in their tracks through the grass. Occasionally we would be awakened at night by the cry of some animal who, less cautious than its fellows, had been snared. The rate at which the quarrying and dressing of the stone for the house was carried on called for some patience on our part, though it was wonderful indeed that in the short space of fifteen years these comparatively skilled workmen had been evolved out of the raw material of native tribesmen through the instruction of the industrial mission schools in Uganda. Nevertheless daily and hourly supervision of the work was necessary, as our masons were in no hurry, their motto probably being "Never do today what you can safely put off till tomorrow!" Months passed, the days of which were fully busy with work in house and field, and amongst the villages; many were the happy times of witness amongst big crowds of men, some of whom had come from the neighboring Kikuyu tribe to work for us.

 

Early in April, however, I myself got malarial fever, and before long my husband also was attacked; my daughter Eva, was alone with us for some time, and went through terrible nervous and physical tension whilst she nursed us night and day, both lying at the point of death. She wrote the following account to a sister in England:

 

My Darling C....
3rd May 1914——,

I was sorry that I could not write a letter to each one of you, but my time was far too much occupied in nursing mother. I wish I could have had you by me when dear father was called home to his reward, for you would have been a great comfort and strength to me, yet my Savior upheld me through all the sorrow and trial of parting, and enabled me, for mother’s sake, to keep back the fast-flowing tears. On Friday mother took ill with fever, and the next Monday father was laid low with it too; they gradually got worse and worse, till I was absolutely worn out nursing them, for I could get very few hours' sleep, and no time at all to sit down to meals. I generally carried a crust of bread in the pocket of my pinafore, and took a scrap every now and then whilst tending to them. Sometimes I could hardly help crying with utter exhaustion. I sent for a Scottish settler living not far from here to come and sit with father and mother at night. "Day by day I saw father and mother getting worse; dear daddy could hardly get breathe when the fever was high, and he couldn't eat anything. At first the fever returned regularly every forty-eight hours, but gradually the attacks became more frequent and more sharp, until during the last three days of father's life he was practically in fever all the time, accompanied by delirium and unconsciousness.

 

During those critical days we had with us a lady missionary, Mrs Rampley, who was a great help and very good to father; but God's own loving hand was over our daddy, and His voice was calling him to glory. We did not realize he was going until midday, Saturday, when Mr. Rampley came, and Mrs. Rampley went back to her station; so we prayed and prayed with Mr. Rampley that God might spare our dear father to us, and then while I was kneeling on the rough floor of our shed beside mother we were led to give him willingly to Jesus should the summons come. We know that he would be much better off in Heaven, for he had been craving to go ever since Stuart died, and we would not have kept him here in the struggle when the Master wanted to crown him in glory, hard as it was to make the sacrifice. At seven o'clock that night, 25th April, 1914, father closed his eyes in sleep, from which he awakened to find himself in everlasting morning. Poor mother was too weak and frail to bear the news without injury to her body, but she asked me to tell you all that God's wondrous grace has been so sufficient for her that Christ has not only "wiped the tears from her eyes," but has given her peaceful comfort. Last Sunday morning Mr. Rampley and Mr. Anderson made a coffin from some old packing cases, and there laid the body so familiar and dear to us. Never before has death seemed such a natural thing to me—never before did I realize what a tiny step there is between this life and the next. It was a pouring wet Sunday, and at three o'clock we left mother in the little hut and went down with the coffin, which was carried by four natives, to the place where the body was to be laid to rest. We entered a clump of dark green forest trees, under which the grass ran six feet high. The rain was pelting down in torrents, and the undergrowth soaking with water, but we gathered a few natives around us, and I spoke to them on the uncertainty of life, and the necessity of being always ready to meet the Savior who died for them. Then Mr. Rampley read a few verses, and the body was lowered into the earth, there in the bush to await the trumpet of God.

Eva

 

I, myself, was spared the strain and anxiety of watching over that dear life in its last moments, and when I recovered enough to realize all, I was, despite the grief and unutterable loss, deeply thankful to God that my husband had been taken from all sorrow and suffering into the presence of the Master he loved and served so well. I wish in closing this record to bear a tribute to the life of self-sacrifice and love that was his from the time he first took Christ as his own. His chief aim was ever to extend the Kingdom of Christ, and to impress on every soul with whom he was brought into contact the absolute necessity of a living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. To his children he seldom wrote without urging that they should witness and live for Him, by whose blood they had been redeemed, and his loving prayers for each child were answered by a faithful God inasmuch as each one of them were brought, while still fairly young, to a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus as their own Savior and Redeemer.

 

The following extracts I would give from his letters to my children, to show how much it was upon his mind and heart that they should serve at all times the Master whom he served:

 

May this term fit you for your life work as no other term has done May Jesus' honor and glory be your chief aim, and may all the education you get be acquired so that you may be able to serve Him more effectually during the short life that lies before you. At the longest it is very short. We come up as a flower and. are given an opportunity to bloom and cast forth fragrance for our God, and then we are done and garnered into the Home above. Just act as Christ would act, but never be vexed, never have care, cast all your care upon your blessed Savior, just lean, lean, lean upon Him, so as to be able to say, "All my care is on Jesus." I do not mind what any one says to me, I'll do the right in His name. Then, my love, go to your work with the happiness of Christ in your heart, loving all, and fearing none… I beseech you, my darling, to put all your difficulties in God's hand; seek His aid, not only morning, noon, and night, but hourly in the class, at play, everywhere, get into communion with your blessed Savior, and ask Him to help you to honor His Name and get more like Him in every thought and act…

 

In later years he writes to one of them on the threshold of life:

 

God's dealings are all in love, deep love, unfailing love; trust Him, rest in Him, give Him your whole heart—reserve nothing. Let forms and ceremonies go to the winds. Seek to bring others to know your Jesus: commit your way to Him, and He will lead you, talk to Him about everything. He makes no mistakes. We make sad mistakes, and the greatest mistake of all is to go our own way and do our own will.

 

Not to his children alone would he appeal today, but through his life he would speak to every reader of these lines of the power of the love of Christ, that even in them might be realized that wonderful power that changed the persecuting Saul into the saintly Paul, and encouraged him, through countless hardships and sufferings to rejoice in Christ; while his heart, overburdened with the tale of that wondrous love, exclaimed, "Necessity is laid upon me, and woe is me if I preach not the Gospel!“

 

It passeth knowledge that dear love of Thine,
My Jesus Savior; yet this soul of mine
Would of Thy love in all its breadth and length,
Its height and depth and everlasting strength
Know more and more.

 

It passeth praises that dear love of Thine,
My Jesus Savior; yet this heart of mine
Would sing that love so full, so rich, so free,
Which brings a rebel sinner such as me
Nigh unto God.

 

It passeth telling that dear love of Thine,
My Jesus Savior; yet these lips of mine
Would fain proclaim to sinners far and near
A love which can remove all guilty fear,
And love beget...

 

That is the secret of the power, the love begotten of His love—may it be yours!


CHAPTER 28
THE TRIUMPH OF THE GOSPEL

 

Few people in these lands can realize how longingly the unreached heathen look for some substantial revelation from God. The casual observer, who has had opportunity only to see the native bubbling over with exuberant merriment and hysteric glee in the moonlight dance, can have no idea of the unutterable aspirations after God, which in calmer and more thoughtful moments spread through his mind.

 

There is in the heart of every native not only a belief in God, but for many an unutterable craving to know Him: the inmost desire of his being is in accordance with the expressed wish of Job, "Oh that I might come even unto His seat." That intuitive desire of the soul can only be satisfied in a knowledge of the revelation of God in Christ Jesus, and of the pardon and reconciliation which Christ has purchased for mankind. The countless tribes of Africa are thoughtfully seeking that Message which Christ has entrusted to His Saints, and which He has definitely commanded them to deliver unto the utmost limits of the earth.

 

If God's people were, but for a single decade, earnestly and intently devoted to the fulfillment of our Lord's last command, astounding results would follow, and the tribes of Africa would flock to Christ as doves to their windows. The present is an extremely critical time in the history of Christian Missions in the heart of the Great Continent. Never, since Moffat and Livingstone entered its southern border, has such an important point in time arisen as that which now confronts the Messenger of the Cross in the Equatorial Regions. Iron rails are quickly opening avenues into the very heart of the Continent, and thither are trooping the followers of Islam in large and ever-increasing numbers.

 

Wherever they go these Muslims take with them their vain and ostentatious forms of prayer and superficial ablutions. These pedantic ceremonies easily commend themselves to the more simple tribes of Pagan Africa, and especially so as they are totally unaccompanied by any clear moral claims of purity of heart and life.

 

The more robust warrior tribes of the East Equatorial Belt have remained for ages invincible against all the attempted advances of armed Moslem caravans. Due however, to the recent ramifying influences of European Governments, the way has been opened for the Muslims to enter the secret chambers of every tribe in Central Africa. How long these noble clans may now remain unensnared by Islam no one can tell. Already a number of the women have fallen victims to their insatiable licentiousness, while in some cases youths have been entrapped and initiated into the lecherous life of the Cities of the Plain.

 

If, in this crucial hour, the followers of Jesus in the homelands fail to give to the benighted sons of Africa that regenerating Gospel which would transform their lives and satisfy the deepest cravings of their hearts, then may it not be expected that our lampstand will be removed from its place, and that leanness will come into our own souls? To leave these tribes to the destructive and soul-enslaving influence of Islam is to betray the trust that our loving and ascended Lord has given to us.

 

A few well-known (but foolish) Christian men, some of whom are loved and honored for their work, have lauded Islam as if it were a handmaiden to Christianity, or, as it has been expressed, to "a sublimer, purer faith." Christian tourists, who have passed through Moslem lands and have seen the adherents of Islam bowing their faces to the earth several times a day, have been charmed and enchanted with their public devotions. "How earnest are these people in the worship of the one true God!" say the travelers, as they return to Europe the victims of a absolute delusion. If these men knew the language and could get in touch with the inner life of the Muslim high priests, and live for the short period of a few months in the vicinity of Islamic debauchery, they would no doubt come to a very different conclusion regarding the debasing cult on which they pass such glowing statements.

 

When the British Government imported from India several thousand Muslim coolies, for the building of the Uganda railway in East Equatorial Africa, the native inhabitants of the interior of the continent, like other races of fallen man, were living in a state of opposition to the laws of God. Noble traits of character and devout aspirations were attached to a life of animalism and certain forms of tribal impurity.


But across that fair native land the followers of the false prophet have left behind them a pestilential trail, which can only be purged by Him who maketh all things new. These devotees of Mohammed, over whom delirious eulogies have been pronounced, have introduced among the native tribes of Equatorial Africa crimes which to them were unknown, and for which, be it said, they had no name. We have seen those natives of the jungle put their hand upon their mouth, and in woeful terms bewail the day that a Muslim entered their country.

 

In the minds of some men the great virtue of Islam lies in the fact that its adherents prostrate themselves at fixed intervals, in open field or contracted highway, and cry out, "La Elah ilia Allah wa Mohammed rasul Allah'" ("There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God.") Many people fail to understand that no native has ever been found in the depths of the African continent, nor for that matter in any country in the world, who does not in his primitive condition believe in the truth of the first part of this oft-repeated Moslem formula, while they do not recognize the false assertion regarding the self-constituted prophet who was a predatory murderer.

 

There is neither worth nor merit nor moral excellence in perceiving the existence of God: that ability is instinctive to man, and wherever a conscious being of the human race exists, the living soul is consciously dwelling in the presence of the Great Creator in whom he lives and moves and has his being. It is only the fool who says in his heart there is no God. The faith of the untutored native of Africa in the one Almighty God is more pure, sincere, and more simply and ardently devout, than that of the pretentious followers of Moslem ritual.

 

It has often been suggested, and at times emphatically pronounced, by those who assume much wisdom, that these African races of men are so low in the scale of human intelligence that they are beyond the uplifting power of Christianity.

 

Such fools know nothing of that which they so confidently affirm. In former days the same statements were made regarding the Asian people of the East, but men would blush to make such assertions today. Those who have had the longest experience in the depths of Africa will, without hesitation, agree with me when I say that many of the tribes of East Equatorial Africa are possessed of greater natural intelligence than some of the inhabitants of our own land. These shrewd and discerning sons of the wilderness are as agreeable to the claims of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as were our ancestors in Britain.

 

Often, while we were pursuing our work in Africa, we have been very forcibly reminded of the similarity between many of the customs of the natives and those of the Celtic and British people who roamed the English islands in distant centuries. At the beginning of the so called Christian era, cannibalism and the offering of human sacrifices were as common in these British Isles as they are today in some parts of Africa. Like the behavior of the African native, our ancestors ranged the woods in a coat of paint, and during severe weather covered their shoulders with the skins of animals.

 

Just as the Masai avoid the cultivation of the ground and live on flesh and milk, so did the Britons in the time of Christ, and in the year a.d. 800 a cow was with them the unit of value, as it is today with some of the tribes of Africa. In the depths of the Great Continent the wild woodsmen rear their little beehive grass huts in which to dwell, and, even at the advanced period of a.d. 900, the Britons and Celts lived in small round huts made with wattles and daubed with clay.

 

Our forefathers in those days lay down to rest on rushes which they laid upon the floor, while the Africans go to sleep stretched on skins which they have taken in the hunt. Those doughty ancestors kindled their fire in the center of the hut, and the smoke slowly made its exit through the roof or by the diminutive doorway, just as it does today in the wilds of Africa.

 

We are inclined to forget that many of our modern conveniences which we now look upon as vital requirements, in the shape of chimneys, windows, etc., are of but very recent introduction. Today the African drinks out of a gourd shell, while our ancestors used an ox horn or a hollow piece of wood, and this latter is still found in Wales and in the west of Ireland under the name of "piggin."

 

Just as the cereal-eating native of the jungle pours the stone-ground grain into boiling water, stirring it with a stick into the consistency of dough, and eats it without further cooking, so did our robust ancestors; and the custom is still in existence in some districts of the northern part of Scotland where brose is considered a healthy, bone-forming food. The wild sons of the tropical forest, when resting on their return from plundering expeditions, drink potions of fermented honey after the manner of our long-winded fathers, who sat quaffing their mead, which was brewed in a similar way.

 

In their festivities the Britons used the timpano or drum, just as the Equatorial native brings into use his hollow section of wood over which he has stretched the tightly-drawn goatskin; while around his muscular limbs there dangle tinkling bells which closely resemble those worn by the Celts. They are made in the form of a half-open bivalve shell, in which there is room for a round ball of metal to move.

 

Our ancestors were much given to nighttime dancing parties, as indeed are some nominal Christians of today. Throughout heathendom these orgies of the night are similarly practiced, but under more healthy conditions, as they are always held in the open air under the starlit sky. The African also strictly adheres to the modern fashionable lines of continuing the party till the early hours of the morning.

 

Even in the custom of marriage, there has been considerable harmony between the customs of the inhabitants of these lands and those of the natives who are hidden away in the gloomy depths of the Dark Continent. The similarities have gradually disappeared, due to the sanctity which, in the homelands, has been imparted to this important role by the Gospel of Christ. Nevertheless, there still remain some traces of the similarity which formerly existed. In the jungle, when the man has handed over the last head of cattle for the woman which is to be his wife, she hides herself under the pretence that she is unwilling to leave her father's care. The bridegroom immediately begins a careful search, and eventually the maiden is forcibly carried away by strong natives to her new surroundings. How little we are distant from this wild African lifestyle is seen by the fact that, in some parts of the south-west of Ireland, the peasants still carry on "the dragging home of the bride."

 

Among the wild woodsmen of the continent of Africa, ordeal by fire and water has been in vogue throughout the past ages, to determine the guilt or innocence of one suspected of crime. In Britain the trial of a culprit was carried out in a precisely similar manner, by plunging the bare arm into boiling water or taking in the hand a piece of red-hot iron. If the person were not severely injured he was judged innocent, but if serious results followed was condemned as guilty. This custom led to the proverbial English phrase "to go through fire and water."

 

If there is one thing in the world with which the African native has less to do with than another, it is the keeping of accounts. Once or twice in a lifetime it may be necessary for him to take note of a transaction, when selling his daughters for flocks and herds on the installment principle. He then preserves the record by the system known as "tally," or the cutting of notches in a stick. When the rod is notched it is split in two, and one half is retained by the debtor, while the other is handed to the creditor, after the same fashion as the English kept their accounts up till the time of the Norman conquest in the eleventh century. Indeed, this mode of reckoning was not ended in the English Exchequer until the year 1826.

 

Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones! There is very little room for us to crow or even to cackle. The noble native who ranges the depths of Africa is our equal in natural intelligence and, as we have seen, the points of contact between him and the European are many. The correspondences and relationships are great. The likeness is beyond question. Both alike recognize the same Eternal God. Whatever importance the African gives to amulets or fetishes is not any more than our ancestors have, for centuries, attributed to the charms they have worn, and which many individuals of supposed intelligence still carry upon their person, or hang above their door. The African no more associates his amulet with the Supreme Being than does the Roman Catholic.

 

Where the naked native of the interior of Africa and the European exactly and precisely correspond is in the fact that both alike are fallen men: they have missed the mark; they are all under sin: "there is none righteous, no not one." They need the same Savior. The all-powerful Redeemer, who raised the inhabitants of the British Isles from their painted nudity, cannibalism and degraded witchcraft, is able to accomplish the same miraculous results among the dark-skinned inhabitants of the bush. That Gospel proclaimed by the humble Galilean fishermen, which wrought such potent spiritual upheavals at the commencement of the era, and which in more recent years, through the instrumentality of consecrated men like Luther and Knox, Wesley and Whitfield, Moody and Torrey, has regenerated the hearts of millions of the human race, is able to save the tribes of Darkest Africa and transform the individuals into the image of the Son of God.

 

If the followers of Christ are faithful in obeying His command at this momentous period in the history of Christian Missions, there is every reason to believe that, in our day, the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ will be extended with overwhelming speed. While some nominal Christians in the homelands are caviling and criticizing; and captious biblical disputants are tearing to pieces one another's conclusions and sophisticated arguments, millions of heathen are eagerly and wearily looking with longing expectation for that Message of reconciliation which a loving God has trusted to us to take to them.

 

Great and unexpected developments are following one another in rapid succession in heathen lands, and all favorable towards the publishing of the Glad Tidings to the uttermost bounds of the everlasting hills.

 

It would seem that the next few years should witness marvelous conquests in the name of Jesus. Where men have gone forward weeping, bearing precious seed, a joyous harvest is now being reaped. "Behold I say unto you," Christ says, "lift up your eyes and look on the fields that they are white already unto harvest. He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto eternal life, that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." Our blessed Savior sends not forth His messengers with any room for doubt regarding the ultimate goal. "ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH; GO YE THEREFORE.'' This is His assurance and mandate. It is ours to rest in the one and to obey the other.

 

In the fulfillment of Christ's last command our Master expects sacrifice, nay He demands it. Life, talents, wealth, all must be laid upon the altar. Jesus commended the sacrifice of His disciples who had left home and kindred for His sake and the Gospel's, and His glowing approval of the whole-hearted offering of the poor widow has come down to us through twenty centuries. He, who weighed not the gift but the motive and love which prompted it, assures us that she gave more than all they that cast into the treasury; for they gave of their excess, but she of her poverty did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Such was the intense devotion that actuated Paul in making an absolute offering of himself. His fervent love led him to renounce every worldly prospect and balm, counting them but dung that he might be privileged to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. The distribution of the Gospel was to him more dear than even life itself. He was willing to be persecuted and to die for the Lord Jesus. Our Master seeks from us a similar living sacrifice, and if that offering is made, then over the Mission field far-reaching results will follow. God challenges us to bring in our gifts, and show if He "will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

 

Never since Christ was raised upon the Cross of Calvary did Christians spend so much money on dwellings, furnishings, travel and pleasure, and never so much on clothing and things. As grieving to Christ as Peter's denial must be the unfaithfulness of His friends, who would thoughtlessly and extravagantly engage in unprofitable and useless expense, more than they would offer to carry to lost humanity the Gospel of Jesus. Even though they know that "there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby they must be saved."

 

If the untold millions of money which are spent yearly on fruitless pleasure, extravagant things, and excessive and unnecessary costly clothing, by men and women who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, were dedicated to the extension of the Gospel, what glorious harvests might not be reaped! The interior of China, the plains of India, the depths of Africa and the pampas of South America would ring with the joyful news of reconciliation to God; and from out the Gentiles there would arise a redeemed host prepared to meet the Bridegroom.

 

God will assuredly hold Christians responsible for their stewardship, and if wealth be not dedicated to Him a grinding poverty must of necessity result, bringing with it indigence and emptiness of soul. The church at Laodicea said that she was rich and had need of nothing, while in reality she was miserable and poor and blind and naked. The Christian world has yet to learn the full meaning of those pregnant words of Jesus, "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesseth."

 

If, on behalf of those who are longingly seeking light and yet passing away in midnight gloom, we fail to make the necessary sacrifice, and our interest fails and our love grows cold, let us remember that we are thus separating ourselves from fellowship with Christ. Towards the lost His heart ever burns. To seek and save the lost He came to earth. "Other sheep," He says, "I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring." If every blood-bought soul would only consider, for one short hour, the thrilling sorrow and tender concern pervading those words of the Master, there would be many an alabaster jar of ointment laid broken at His feet.

 

It is incumbent upon every Christian to realize fully the claims that their Savior has upon them for service. It requires them to ponder over their indebtedness to His precious Gospel, which roused them from their stupor of sin, interrupted their downward career, enlightened their mind, changed their heart and put a new song into their mouth; which, in truth, made them fit to live and prepared to die.

 

For the freedom giving benefits of that all-powerful Gospel, myriads of enthralled souls call out in an unending heart-rending cry, the strength of which it is impossible to describe. Would that their Macedonian cry might pierce the gloom of their surroundings, and, with lightning stroke, reach the homes and hearts of those who could send the Glad News that would fill the aching emptiness of their soul.

 

If, through the sleepy influences of money, we so lose our spiritual sensitiveness that we respond not to Christ's command, God may with one mighty stroke sweep away our privileges and opportunities, and raise up in Korea, China or India more obedient followers to be His honored messengers in publishing to the unreached tribes the news of redeeming love.

 

In any case our Savior's purpose will be accomplished. Signs of Christ's near return are plainly obvious on all hands. The "grievous times" seem to be already upon us, for "men are lovers of self . . . holding a form of godliness and denying the power thereof," while "evil men and impostors grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived."

 

Whether we fall into this defection or not, Christ's Kingdom will be victorious. Though the withering blight of unbelief and error sweep over the American continent from east to west, choking every avenue of God's grace; and though apostasy pervade Christian England and “Ichabod" be inscribed upon her flag, yet Christ shall ride on in triumph. He is a mighty conquering Savior. The tribes of the earth belong to Him by sovereign right. "The uttermost parts of the earth are His possession." The dwellers in the wilderness shall listen to His name and rejoice in His salvation. He whose name is The Word of God shall march forward on His glorious conquest, and "The kingdom of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign tor ever and ever." The coming millennium will bring much of this to fruition, but in the mean time, in the gospel age in which we live, how desperate is the need to GO!

 

If, perhaps, one who reads these lines is yet unsaved, I plead with such to join the Army of Victory, and accept from God His free, yet priceless, gift of everlasting life. To those who are already enrolled, whose "names are written in Heaven," what shall I say? They themselves know full well what their Master expects from them. I beg of them to be satisfied with noth