CHAPTER XII. LIVINGSTONE'S OWN STORY OF HIS JOURNEYS, HIS TROUBLES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS.
Early in August, 1866, the Doctor came to the country of Mponda, a chief who dwelt near the Lake Nyassa. On the road thither, two of the liberated slaves deserted him. Here also, Wekotani, a protege of the Doctor, insisted upon his discharge, alleging as an excuse - an excuse which the Doctor subsequently found to be untrue - that he had found his brother. He also stated that his family lived on the east side of the Nyassa Lake. He further stated that Mponda's favourite wife was his sister. Perceiving that Wekotani was unwilling to go with him further, the Doctor took him to Mponda, who now saw and heard of him for the first time, and, having furnished the ungrateful boy with enough cloth and beads to keep him until his "big brother" should call for him, left him with the chief, after first assuring himself that he would receive honourable treatment from him. The Doctor also gave Wekotanti writing-paper - as he could read and write, being accomplishments acquired at Bombay, where he had been put to school - so that, should he at any time feel disposed, he might write to his English friends, or to himself. The Doctor further enjoined him not to join in any of the slave raids usually made by his countrymen, the men of Nyassa, on their neighbours. Upon finding that his application for a discharge was successful, Wekotani endeavoured to induce Chumah, another protege of the Doctor's, and a companion, or chum, of Wekotani, to leave the Doctor's service and proceed with him, promising, as a bribe, a wife and plenty of pombe from his "big brother." Chumah, upon referring the matter to the Doctor, was advised not to go, as he (the Doctor) strongly suspected that Wekotani wanted only to make him his slave. Chumah wisely withdrew from his tempter. From Mponda's, the Doctor proceeded to the heel of the Nyassa, to the village of a Babisa chief, who required medicine for a skin disease. With his usual kindness, he stayed at this chief's village to treat his malady.
While here, a half-caste Arab arrived from the western shore of the lake, and reported that he had been plundered by a band of Mazitu, at a place which the Doctor and Musa, chief of the Johanna men, were very well aware was at least 150 miles north-north-west of where they were then stopping. Musa, however, for his own reasons - which will appear presently - eagerly listened to the Arab's tale, and gave full credence to it. Having well digested its horrible details, he came to the Doctor to give him the full benefit of what he had heard with such willing ears. The traveller patiently listened to the narrative, which lost nothing of its portentous significance through Musa's relation, and then asked Musa if he believed it. "Yes," answered Musa, readily; "he tell me true, true. I ask him good, and he tell me true, true." The Doctor, however, said he did not believe it, for the Mazitu would not have been satisfied with merely plundering a man, they would have murdered him; but suggested, in order to allay the fears of his Moslem subordinate, that they should both proceed to the chief with whom they were staying, who, being a sensible man, would be able to advise them as to the probability or improbability of the tale being correct. Together, they proceeded to the Babisa chief, who, when he had heard the Arab's story, unhesitatingly denounced the Arab as a liar, and his story without the least foundation in fact; giving as a reason that, if the Mazitu had been lately in that vicinity, he should have heard of it soon enough.
But Musa broke out with "No, no, Doctor; no, no, no; I no want to go to Mazitu. I no want Mazitu to kill me. I want to see my father, my mother, my child, in Johanna. I want no Mazitu." These are Musa's words _ipsissima verba_.
To which the Doctor replied, "I don't want the Mazitu to kill me either; but, as you are afraid of them, I promise to go straight west until we get far past the beat of the Mazitu."
Musa was not satisfied, but kept moaning and sorrowing, saying, "If we had two hundred guns with us I would go; but our small party of men they will attack by night, and kill all."
The Doctor repeated his promise, "But I will not go near them; I will go west."
As soon as he turned his face westward, Musa and the Johanna men ran away in a body.
The Doctor says, in commenting upon Musa's conduct, that he felt strongly tempted to shoot Musa and another ringleader, but was, nevertheless, glad that he did not soil his hands with their vile blood. A day or two afterwards, another of his men - Simon Price by name - came to the Doctor with the same tale about the Mazitu, but, compelled by the scant number of his people to repress all such tendencies to desertion and faint-heartedness, the Doctor silenced him at once, and sternly forbade him to utter the name of the Mazitu any more.
Had the natives not assisted him, he must have despaired of ever being able to penetrate the wild and unexplored interior which he was now about to tread. "Fortunately," as the Doctor says with unction, "I was in a country now, after leaving the shores of Nyassa, which the foot of the slave-trader has not trod; it was a new and virgin land, and of course, as I have always found in such cases, the natives were really good and hospitable, and for very small portions of cloth my baggage was conveyed from village to village by them." In many other ways the traveller, in his extremity, was kindly treated by the yet unsophisticated and innocent natives.