Chapter XII. Palace, Uganda - Continued
When I got home I found Sangoro, whom we thought lost or murdered, quietly ensconced in camp. He had been foraging by himself a long way from camp, in a neighbourhood where many of the king's women are kept; and it being forbidden ground, he was taken up by the keepers, placed in the stocks, and fed, until to- day, when he extricated his legs by means of his sword, and ran away. My ever-grumbling men mobbed me again, clamouring for food, saying, as they eyed my goats, I lived at ease and overlooked their wants. In vain I told them they had fared more abundantly than I had since we entered Uganda; whilst I spared my goats to have a little flesh of their cows as rapidly as possible, selling the skins for pombe, which I seldom tasted; they robbed me as long as I had cloth or beads, and now they had all become as fat as hogs by lifting food off the Waganda lands. As I could not quiet them, I directed that, early next morning, Maula should go to the king and Nasib to the queen, while I proposed going to Kamraviona's to work them all three about this affair of food.
23d. - According to the plan of last night, I called early on the Kamraviona. He promised me assistance, but with an air which seemed to say, What are the sufferings of other men to me? So I went home to breakfast, doubting if anything ever would be done. As Kaggo, however, the second officer of importance, had expressed a wish to see me, I sent Bombay to him for food, and waited the upshot. Presently the king sent to say he wished to see me with my compass; for the blackguard Maula had told him I possessed a wonderful instrument, by looking at which I could find my way all over the world. I went as requested, and found the king sitting outside the palace on my chair dressed in cloths, with my silk neckerchief and crest-ring, playing his flute in concert with his brothers, some thirty-odd young men and boys, one half of them manacled, the other half free, with an officer watching over them to see that they committed no intrigues.
We then both sat side by side in the shade of the courtwalls, conversed and had music by turns; for the king had invited his brothers here to please me, the first step towards winning the coveted compass. My hair must now be shown and admired, then my shoes taken off and inspected, and my trousers tucked up to show that I am white all over. Just at this time Bombay, who had been in great request, came before us laden with plantains. This was most opportune; for the king asked what he had been about, and then the true state of the case as regards my difficulties in obtaining food were, I fancy, for the first time, made known to him. In a great fit of indignation he said, "I once killed a hundred Wakungu in a single day, and now, if they won't feed my guests, I will kill a hundred more; for I know the physic for bumptiousness." Then, sending his brothers away, he asked me to follow him into the back part of the palace, as he loved me so much he must show me everything. We walked along under the umbrella, first looking down one street of huts, then up another, and, finally, passing the sleeping-chamber, stopped at one adjoining it. "That hut," said the king, "is the one I sleep in; no one of my wives dare venture within it unless I call her." He let me feel immediately that for the distinction conferred on me in showing me this sacred hut a return was expected. Could I after that refuse him such a mere trifle as a compass? I told him he might as well put my eyes out and ask me to walk home, as take away that little instrument, which could be of no use to him, as he could not read or understand it. But this only excited his cupidity; he watched it twirling round and pointing to the north, and looked and begged again, until, tired of his importunities, I told him I must wait until the Usoga road was open before I could part with it, and then the compass would be nothing to what I would give him. Hearing this, "That is all on my shoulders; as sure as I live it shall be done; for that country has no king, and I have long been desirous of taking it." I declined, however, to give him the instrument on the security of his promise, and he went to breakfast.
I walked off to Usungu to see what I could do for him in his misery. I found that he had a complication of evils entirely beyond my healing power, and among them inveterate forms of the diseases which are generally associated with civilisation and its social evils. I could do nothing to cure him, but promised to do whatever was in my power to alleviate his sufferings.