Chapter XVI. Bahr El Abiad
The next two days took us through Chagamoyo to Kiratosi, by the aid of the compass; for the route Kamrasi's men took differed from the one which Budja knew, and he declared the Wanyoro were leading us into a trap, and would not be convinced we were going on all right till I pulled out the compass and confirmed the Wanyoro. We were anything but welcomed at Kiratosi, the people asking by what bad luck we had come there to eat up their crops; but in a little while they flocked to our doors and admired our traps, remarking that they believed each iron box contained a couple of white dwarfs, which we carry on our shoulders, sitting straddle-legs, back to back, and they fly off to eat people whenever they get the order. One of these visitors happened to be the sister of one of my men, named Baruti, who no sooner recognised her brother, than, without saying a word, she clasped her head with her hands, and ran off, crying, to tell her husband what she had seen. A spy of Kamrasi dropped the report that the Wanguana were returning from Mtesa's, and hurried on to tell the king.
31st. - Some Waganda hurrying in, confirmed the report of last night, and said the Wanguana, footsore, had been left at the Uganda frontier, expecting us to return, as Mtesa, at the same time that he approved highly of my having sent men back to inform him of Kamrasi's conduct, begged we would instantly return, even if found within one march of Kamrasi's, for he had much of importance to tell his friend Bana. The message continued to this effect: I need be under no apprehensions about the road to the coast, for he would give me as many men as I liked; and, fearing I might be short of powder, he had sent some with the Wanguana. Both Wanguana were by the king given women for their services, and an old tin cartridge-box represented Mtesa's card, it being an article of European manufacture, which, if found in the possession of any Mganda, would be certain death to him. Finally, all the houses and plantains where my men were wounded had been confiscated.
When this message was fully delivered, Budja said we must return without a day's delay. I, on the contrary, called up Kidgwiga. I did not like my men having been kept prisoners in Uganda, and pronounced in public that I would not return. It would be an insult to Kamrasi my doing so, for I was now in his "house" at his own invitation. I wished Bombay would go with him (Kidgwiga) at once to his king, to say I had hoped, when I sent Budja with Mabruki, in the first instance, conveying a friendly present from Mtesa, which was done at my instigation, and I found Kamrasi acknowledged it by a return-present, that there would be no more fighting between them. I said I had left England to visit these countries for the purpose of opening up a trade, and I had no orders to fight my way except with the force of friendship. That Rumanika had accepted my views Kamrasi must be fully aware by Baraka's having visited him; and that Mtesa did the same must also be evident, else he would never have ordered his men to accompany me to Gani; and I now fondly trusted that these Waganda would be allowed to go with me, when, by the influence of trade, all animosity would cease, and friendly relations be restored between the two countries.
This speech was hardly pronounced when Kajunju, a fine athletic man, dropped suddenly in, nodded a friendly recognition to Budja, and wished to know what the Waganda meant by taking us back, for the king had heard of their intention last night; and when told by Budja his story, and by Kidgwiga mine, he vanished like a shadow. Budja, now turning to me, said, "If you won't go back, I shall; for the orders of Mtesa must always be obeyed, else lives will be lost; and I shall tell him that you, since leaving his country, and getting your road, have quite forgotten him." "If you give such a message as that," I said, "you will tell a falsehood. Mtesa has no right to order me out of another man's house, to be an enemy with one whose friendship I desire. I am not only in honour bound to speak with Kamrasi, but I am also bound to carry out the orders of my country just as much as you are yours; moreover, I have invited Petherick to come to Kamrasi's by a letter from Karague, and it would be ill-becoming in me to desert him in the hands of an enemy, as he would then certainly find Kamrasi to be if I went back now." Budja then tried the coaxing dodge, saying, "There is much reason in your words, but I am sorry you do not listen to the king, for he loves you as a brother. Did you not go about like two brothers - walking, talking, shooting, and even eating together? It was the remark of all the Waganda, and the king will be so vexed when he finds you have thrown him over. I did not tell you before, but the king says, 'How can I answer Rumanika if Kamrasi injures Bana? Had I known Kamrasi was such a savage, I would not have let Bana go there; and I should now have sent a forge to take him away, only that some accident might arise from it by Kamrasi's taking fright; the road even to Gani shall be got by force if necessary.'" Then, finding me still persistent, Budja turned again and threatened us with the king's power, saying, "If you choose to disobey, we will see whether you ever get the road to Gani or not; for Kamrasi is at war on all sides with his brothers, and Mtesa will ally himself with them at any moment that he wishes, and where will you be then?"