Chapter XIII. Palace, Uganda - Continued

A Visit to a Distinguished Statesman - A Visit from the King - Royal Sport - The Queen's Present of Wives - The Court Beauties and their Reverses - Judicial Procedure in Uganda - Buffalo-Hunting - A Musical Party - My Medical Practice - A Royal Excursion on the N'yanza - The Canoes of Uganda - A Regatta - Rifle Practice - Domestic Difficulties - Interference of a Magician - The King's Brothers.

29th. - According to appointment I went early this morning to visit Congow. He kept me some time waiting in his outer hut, and then called me in to where I found him sitting with his women - a large group, by no means pretty. His huts are numerous, the gardens and courts all very neat and well kept. He was much delighted with my coming, produced pombe, and asked me what I thought of his women, stripping them to the waist. He assured me that he had thus paid me such a compliment as nobody else had ever obtained, since the Waganda are very jealous of one another- -so much so, that any one would be killed if found starring upon a woman even in the highways. I asked him what use he had for so many women? To which he replied, "None whatever; the king gives them to us to keep up our rank, sometimes as many as one hundred together, and we either turn them into wives, or make servants of them, as we please." Just then I heard that Mkuenda, the queen's woman-keeper, was outside waiting for me, but dared not come in, because Congow's women were all out; so I asked leave to go home to breakfast, much to the surprise of Congow, who thought I was his guest for the whole day. It is considered very indecorous in Uganda to call upon two persons in one day, though even the king or the queen should be one of them. Then, as there was no help for it - Congow could not detain me when hungry - he showed me a little boy, the only child he had, and said, with much fatherly pride, "Both the king and queen have called on me to see this fine little fellow"; and we parted to meet again some other day. Outside his gate I found Mkuenda, who said the queen had sent him to invite "her son" to bring her some stomach medicine in the morning, and come to have a chat with her. With Mkuenda I walked home; but he was so awed by the splendour of my hut, with its few blankets and bit of chintz, that he would not even sit upon a cow-skin, but asked if any Waganda dared venture in there. He was either too dazzled or too timid to answer any questions, and in a few minutes walked away again.

After this, I had scarcely swallowed by breakfast before I received a summons from the king to meet him out shooting, with all the Wanguana armed, and my guns; and going towards the palace, found him with a large staff, pages and officers as well as women, in a plantain garden, looking eagerly out for birds, whilst his band was playing. In addition to his English dress, he wore a turban, and pretended that the glare of the sun was distressing his eyes - for, in fact, he wanted me to give him a wideawake like my own. Then, as if a sudden freak had seized him, though I knew it was on account of Maula's having excited his curiosity, he said, "Where does Bana live? lead away." Bounding and scrambling, the Wakungu, the women and all, went pell-mell through everything towards my hut. If the Kamraviona or any of the boys could not move fast enough, on account of the crops on the fields, they were piked in the back till half knocked over; but, instead of minding, they trotted on, n'yanzigging as if honoured by a kingly poke, though treated like so many dogs.

Arrived at the hut, the king took off his turban as I took off my hat, and seated himself on my stool; whilst the Kamraviona, with much difficulty, was induced to sit upon a cowskin, and the women at first were ordered to squat outside. Everything that struck the eye was much admired and begged for, though nothing so much as my wideawake and mosquito-curtains; then, as the women were allowed to have a peep in and see Bana in his den, I gave them two sacks of beads, to make the visit profitable, the only alternative left me from being forced into inhospitality, for no one would drink from my cup. Moreover, a present was demanded by the laws of the country.