CHAPTER XVI. The greeting of the slave - traders - Collapse of the mutiny - African funerals - Visit from the Latooka chief - Bokke makes a suggestion - Slaughter of the Turks - Success as a prophet - Commoro's philosophy.
Although Ellyria was a rich and powerful country, we were not able to procure any provisions. The natives refused to sell, and their general behavior assured me of their capability of any atrocity had they been prompted to attack us by the Turks. Fortunately we had a good supply of meal that had been prepared for the journey prior to our departure from Gondokoro; thus we could not starve. I also had a sack of corn for the animals, a necessary precaution, as at this season there was not a blade of grass, all in the vicinity of the route having been burned.
We started on the 30th of March, at 7.30 A.M., and entered from the valley of Ellyria upon a perfectly flat country interspersed with trees. The ground was most favorable for the animals, being perfectly flat and free from ravines. We accordingly stepped along at a brisk pace, and the intense heat of the sun throughout the hottest hours of the day made the journey fatiguing for all but the camels. The latter were excellent of their class, and now far excelled the other transport animals, marching along with ease under loads of about 600 pounds each.
My caravan was at the rear of the trader's party; but the ground being good we left our people and cantered on to the advanced flag. It was curious to witness the motley assemblage in single file extending over about half a mile of ground. Several of the people were mounted on donkeys, some on oxen; the most were on foot, including all the women to the number of about sixty, who were the slaves of the trader's people. These carried heavy loads, and many, in addition to the burdens, carried children strapped to their backs in leather slings. After four or five hours' march during the intense heat, many of the overloaded women showed symptoms of distress and became footsore. The grass having been recently burned had left the sharp charred stumps, which were very trying to those whose sandals were not in the best condition. The women were forced along by their brutal owners with sharp blows of the coorbatch, and one who was far advanced in pregnancy could at length go no further. Upon this the savage to whom she belonged belabored her with a large stick, and not succeeding in driving her before him, he knocked her down and jumped upon her. The woman's feet were swollen and bleeding, but later in the day I again saw her hobbling along in the rear by the aid of a bamboo.
After a few days' march we reached Latome, a large Latooka town, and upon our near approach we discovered crowds collected under two enormous trees. Presently guns fired, drums beat, and we perceived the Turkish flags leading a crowd of about a hundred men, who approached us with the usual salutes, every man firing off ball cartridge as fast as he could reload. My men were soon with this lot of ragamuffins, and this was the ivory or slave-trading party that they had conspired to join. They were marching toward me to honor me with a salute, which, upon close approach, ended by their holding their guns muzzle downward, and firing them almost into my feet. I at once saw through their object in giving me this reception. They had already heard from the other party exaggerated accounts of presents that their leader had received, and they were jealous at the fact of my having established confidence with a party opposed to them. The vakeel of Chenooda was the man who had from the first instigated my men to revolt and to join his party, and he at that moment had two of my deserters with him that had mutinied and joined him at Gondokoro. It had been agreed that the remainder of my men were to mutiny at this spot and to join him with MY ARMS AND AMMUNITION. This was to be the stage for the outbreak. The apparent welcome was only to throw me off my guard.
I was coldly polite, and begging them not to waste their powder, I went to the large tree that threw a beautiful shade, and we sat down, surrounded by a crowd of both natives and trader's people. Mahommed Her sent me immediately a fat ox for my people. Not to be under any obligation, I immediately gave him a double-barrelled gun. Ibrahim and his men occupied the shade of another enormous tree at about one hundred and fifty yards' distance.
The evening arrived, and my vakeel, with his usual cunning, came to ask me whether I intended to start tomorrow. He said there was excellent shooting in this neighborhood, and that Ibrahim's camp not being more than five hours' march beyond, I could at any time join him, should I think proper. Many of my men were sullenly listening to my reply, which was that we should start in company with Ibrahim. The men immediately turned their backs and swaggered insolently to the town, muttering something that I could not distinctly understand. I gave orders directly that no man should sleep in the town, but that all should be at their posts by the luggage under the tree that I occupied. At night several men were absent, and were with difficulty brought from the town by the vakeel. The whole of the night was passed by the rival parties quarrelling and fighting. At 5.30 on the following morning the drum of Ibrahim's party beat the call, and his men with great alacrity got their porters together and prepared to march. My vakeel was not to be found; my men were lying idly in the positions where they had slept, and not a man obeyed when I gave the order to prepare to start- except Richarn and Sali. I saw that the moment had arrived. Again I gave the order to the men to get up and load the animals. Not a man would move except three or four, who slowly rose from the ground and stood resting on their guns. In the mean time Richarn and Sali were bringing the camels and making them kneel by the luggage. The boy Saat was evidently expecting a row, and although engaged with the black women in packing, he kept his eyes constantly on me.