Chapter XII. Palace, Uganda - Continued
As we retired to the other visitors, the Kamraviona, in return for some courteous remarks of mine, said all the Waganda were immensely pleased with my having come to visit them; and as he heard my country is governed by a woman, what would I say if he made the Waganda dethrone her, and create me king instead? Without specially replying, I showed him a map, marking off the comparative sizes of British and Waganda possessions, and shut him up. The great Kamraviona, or commander-in-chief, with all his wives, has no children, and was eager to know if my skill could avail to remove this cloud in his fortunes. He generously gave me a goat and eggs, telling my men they might help themselves to plantains from any gardens they liked beyond certain limits, provided they did not enter houses or take anything else. He then said he was tired and walked away without another word.
On returning home I found Nasib and Maula waiting for me, with all the articles that had been returned to the queen very neatly tied together. They had seen her majesty, who, on receiving my message, pretended excessive anger with her doorkeeper for not announcing my arrival yesterday - flogged him severely - inspected all the things returned - folded them up again very neatly with her own hands - said she felt much hurt at the mistake which had arisen, and hoped I would forgive and forget it, as her doors would always be open to me.
I now had a laugh at my friends Maula and Bombay for their misgivings of yesterday, telling them I knew more of human nature than they did; but they shook their heads, and said it was all very well Bana having done it, but if Arabs or any other person had tried the same trick, it would have been another affair. "Just so," said I; "but then, don't you see, I know my value here, which makes all the difference you speak of."
18th. - Whilst walking towards the palace to pay the king a friendly visit, I met two of my men speared on the head, and streaming with blood; they had been trying to help themselves to plantains carried on the heads of Waganda; but the latter proving too strong, my people seized a boy and woman from their party as witnesses, according to Uganda law, and ran away with them, tied hand and neck together. With this addition to my attendance I first called in at the Kamraviona's for justice; but as he was too proud to appear at once, I went on to the king's fired three shots as usual, and obtained admittance at once, when I found him standing in a yard dressed in cloth, with his iron chair behind him, and my double-gun loaded with half charges of powder and a few grains of iron shot, looking eagerly about for kites to fly over. His quick eye, however, readily detected my wounded men and prisoners, as also some Wazinza prisoners led in by Waganda police, who had been taken in the act of entering Waganda houses and assailing their women. Thus my men were cleared of a false stigma; and the king, whilst praising them, ordered all the Wazinza to leave his dominions on the morrow.
The other case was easily settled by my wounded men receiving orders to keep their prisoners till claimed, when, should any people come forward, they would be punished, otherwise their loss in human stock would be enough. The Wanguana had done quite right to seize on the highway, else they would have starved; such was the old law, and such is the present one. It was no use our applying for a change of system. At this stage of the business, the birds he was watching having appeared, the king, in a great state of excitement, said, "Shoot that kite," and then "Shoot that other"; but the charges were too light; and the birds flew away, kicking with their claws as if merely stung a little.
Whilst this was going on, the Kamraviona, taking advantage of my having opened the door with the gun, walked in to make his salutations. A blacksmith produced two very handsome spears, and a fisherman a basket of fish, from which two fish were taken out and given to me. The king then sat on his iron chair, and I on a wooden box which I had contrived to stuff with the royal grass he gave me, and so made a complete miniature imitation of his throne. The folly in now allowing me to sit upon my portable iron stool, as an ingenious device for carrying out my determination to sit before him like an Englishman. I wished to be communicative, and, giving him a purse of money, told him the use and value of the several coins; but he paid little regard to them, and soon put them down. The small-talk of Uganda had much more attractions to his mind than the wonders of the outer world, and he kept it up with his Kamraviona until rain fell and dispersed the company.
19th. - As the queen, to avoid future difficulties, desired my officers to acquaint her beforehand whenever I wished to call upon her, I sent Nasib early to say I would call in the afternoon; but he had to wait till the evening before he could deliver the message, though she had been drumming and playing all the day. She then complained against my men for robbing her gardeners on the highway, wished to know why I didn't call upon her oftener, appointed the following morning for an interview, and begged I would bring her some liver medicines, as she suffered from constant twinges in her right side, sealing her "letter" with a present of a nest of eggs and one fowl.
Whilst Nasib was away, I went to the Kamraviona to treat him as I had the king. He appeared a little more affable to-day, yet still delighted in nothing but what was frivolous. My beard, for instance, engrossed the major part of the conversation; all the Waganda would come out in future with hairy faces; but when I told them that, to produce such a growth, they must wash their faces with milk, and allow a cat to lick it off, they turned up their noses in utter contempt.