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Africa

IT appeared that Kisoona was to be headquarters until I should have an opportunity of quitting the country for Shooa. Therefore I constructed a comfortable little hut surrounded by a courtyard strongly fenced, in which I arranged a Rakooba, or open shed, in which to sit during the hottest hours of the day.

In the history of the Nile there was a void: its Sources were a mystery. The Ancients devoted much attention to this problem; but in vain. The Emperor Nero sent an expedition under the command of two centurions, as described by Seneca. Even Roman energy failed to break the spell that guarded these secret fountains. The expedition sent by Mehemet Ali Pasha, the celebrated Viceroy of Egypt, closed a long term of unsuccessful search.

Kamrasi, thus freed from his invaders, was almost stupefied with astonishment. He immediately paid me a visit, and as he entered the courtyard he stopped to look at the flag that was gaily fluttering above him, as though it were a talisman. He inquired "why the Turks were awed by an apparent trifle." I explained that the flag was well known, and might be seen in every part of the world; wherever it was hoisted it was respected, as he had just witnessed, even at so great a distance from home and unsupported, as in Unyoro.

The primary object of geographical exploration is the opening to general intercourse such portions of the earth as may become serviceable to the human race. The explorer is the precursor of the colonist; and the colonist is the human instrument by which the great work must be constructed - that greatest and most difficult of all undertakings - the civilization of the world.

It was the middle of November - not the wretched month that chills even the recollection of Old England, but the last of the ten months of rain that causes the wonderful vegetation of the fertile soil in Equatorial Africa. The Turks were ready to return to Shooa, and I longed for the change from this brutal country to the still wilder but less bloody tribe of Madi, to the north.

In March, 1861, I commenced an expedition to discover the sources of the Nile, with the hope of meeting the East African expedition of Captains Speke and Grant, that had been sent by the English Government from the South via Zanzibar, for that object. I had not the presumption to publish my intention, as the sources of the Nile had hitherto defied all explorers, but I had inwardly determined to accomplish this difficult task or to die in the attempt.

The hour of deliverance from our long sojourn in Central Africa was at hand; it was the month of February, and the boats would be at Gondokoro. The Turks had packed their ivory; the large tusks were fastened to poles to be carried by two men, and the camp was a perfect mass of this valuable material. I counted 609 loads of upwards of 50 lbs. each; thirty-one loads were lying at an outstation: therefore the total results of the ivory campaign during the last twelve months were about 32,000 lbs., equal to about 9,630 pounds when delivered in Egypt. This was a perfect fortune for Koorshid.

All were thankful that the river voyage was concluded; the tedium of the White Nile will have been participated by the reader, upon whom I have inflicted the journal, as no other method of description could possibly convey an idea of the general desolation.

The various trading parties were assembled in Gondokoro with a total of about three thousand slaves; but there was consternation depicted upon every countenance. Only three boats had arrived from Khartoum - one diahbiah and two noggurs - these belonged to Koorshid Aga. The resume of news from Khartoum was as follows: -

A DAY before the departure of Speke and Grant from Gondokoro, an event occurred which appeared as a bad omen to the superstitions of my men. I had ordered the diahbiah to be prepared for sailing: thus, the cargo having been landed and the boat cleared and washed, we were sitting in the cabin, when a sudden explosion close to the windows startled us from our seats, and the consternation of a crowd of men who were on the bank, showed that some accident had happened.

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