Chapter XX. Madi
This was done; but the next morning (7th), after our things were put out for the march, all Kidgwiga's men bolted, and no guides would take service with us. It was now obvious that, even supposing I succeeded in taking Kidgwiga to Gondokoro, he would not have a sufficient escort to come back with, unless, indeed, it happened that Englishmen might be there who might wish to carry out my investigations by penetrating to the Little Luta Nzige, and to pay a visit to Kamrasi. I therefore called Kidgwiga, and after explaining these circumstances, advised him to go back to Kamrasi. He was loth to leave, he said, until his commission was fully performed; but as I thought it advisable, he would consent. I then gave him a double gun and ammunition, as well as some very rich beads which I obtained from Mahamed's stores, to take back to Kamrasi, with orders to say that, as soon as I reached Gondokoro or Khartum, I would send another white man to him - not by the way I had come through Kidi, but by the left bank of the Nile: to which Kidgwiga replied, "That will do famously, for Kamrasi will change his residence soon, and come on the Nile this side of Rionga's palace, in order that he may cut in between his brother and the Turks' guns."
After this, I gave a lot of rich beads to Kidgwiga for himself, and a lot also for the senior officers at the Chopi and Kamrasi's palaces, and sent the whole set off as happy as birds. When these men were gone, I tried to get up an elephant-shooting excursion due west of this, with a view to see where the Nile was, for I would not believe it was very far off, although no one as yet, since I left Chopi, either would or could tell me where the stream had gone to.
8th. Mahamed professed to be delighted I had made up my mind to such a scheme. He called the heads of the villages to give me all the information I sought for, and went with me to the top of a high rock, from which we could see the hills I first viewed at Chopi, sweeping round from south by east to north, which demarked the line of the Asua river. The Nile at that moment was, I believed, not very far off; yet, do or say what I would, everybody said it was fifteen marches off, and could not be visited under a month.[FN#25] It would be necessary for me to take thirty-six of Mahamed's men, besides all my own, to go there, which, he said, I was welcome to, but I should have to pay them for their services. This was a damper at once.
I knew in my mind all these reports were false, but, rather than be out of the way when the time came for marching, I agreed to wait patiently, write the history of the Wahuma, and make collections, till Mahamed was ready, trusting that I might find some one at Gondokoro who would finish what I had left undone; or else, after arriving there, I might go up the Nile in boats and see for myself. The same evening I was attracted by the sound of drums to a neighbouring village, where, by the moonlight, I found the natives were dancing. A more indecent or savage spectacle I never witnessed. The whole place was alive with naked humanity in a state of constant motion. Drawing near, I found that a number of drums were beaten by men in the centre. Next to them was a deep ring of women, half of whom carried their babies; and outside these again was a still deeper circle of men, some blowing horns, but most holding their spears erect. To the sound of the music both these rings of the opposite sexes kept jumping and sidling round and round the drummers, making the most grotesque and obscene motions to one another.
9th to 14th. - Nothing of material consequence happened until the 14th, when eighty of Rionga's men brought in two slaves and thirty tusks of ivory, as a present to Mahamed. Of course, I knew this was a bribe to induce Mahamed to fight with Rionga against Kamrasi; but, counting that no affair of mine, I tried to induce these men to give me some geographical information of the countries they had just left. Not one of them would come near me, for they knew I was friends with Kamrasi; and Mahamed's men, when they saw mine attempting to converse with them, abused them for "prying into other men's concerns." "These men," they said, "are our friends, and not yours; if we choose to give them presents of cloth and beads, and they give us a return in ivory, what is that to you?" Mysterious Mahamed next came to me, and begged for a blanket, as he said he was going off for a few days to a depot where he had some ivory; and he also wanted to borrow a musket, as one of his had been burnt.
My suspicions and even apprehensions, were now greatly excited. I began to think he had prevailed on me to stop here, that I might hold the place whilst he went to fight Kamrasi with Rionga's men; so I begged him to listen to my advice, and not attempt to cross the Nile, "else," I said, "all his guns would be taken from him, and his passage back cut off." At once he saw the drift of my thought, and said he was not going towards the Nile, but on the contrary, he was going with Rionga's men in the opposite direction, to a place called Paira. "If that is the case," I said, "why do you want a gun?" "Because there are some other matters to settle. I shall not be long away, and my men will take care of you whilst I am gone." I gave him the blanket after this, but was too suspicious of his object to lend him a gun.