CHAPTER XIV. OUR JOURNEY FROM UJIJI TO UNYANYEMBE.
We felt quite at home when we sat down on our black bear-skin, gay Persian carpet and clean new mats, to rest with our backs to the wall, sipping our tea with the air of comfortable men, and chat over the incidents of the "picnic," as Livingstone persisted in calling our journey to the Rusizi. It seemed as if old times, which we loved to recall, had come back again, though our house was humble enough in its aspect, and our servants were only naked barbarians; but it was near this house that I had met him - Livingstone - after that eventful march from Unyanyembe; it was on this same veranda that I listened to that wonderful story of his about those far, enchanting regions west of the Lake Tanganika; it was in this same spot that I first became acquainted with him; and ever since my admiration has been growing for him, and I feel elated when he informs me that he must go to Unyanyembe under my escort, and at my expense. The old mud walls and the bare rafters, and the ancient thatched roof, and this queer-looking old veranda, will have an historical interest for me while I live, and so, while I can, I have taken pains and immortalized the humble old building by a sketch.
I have just said that my admiration for Livingstone has been growing. This is true. The man that I was about to interview so calmly and complacently, as I would interview any prominent man with the view of specially delineating his nature, or detailing his opinions, has conquered me. I had intended to interview him, report in detail what he said, picture his life and his figure, then bow him my "au revoir," and march back. That he was specially disagreeable and brusque in his manner, which would make me quarrel with him immediately, was firmly fixed in my mind.
But Livingstone - true, noble Christian, generous-hearted, frank man - acted like a hero, invited me to his house, said he was glad to see me, and got well on purpose to prove the truth of his statement, "You have brought new life unto me;" and when I fell sick with the remittent fever, hovering between life and death, he attended me like a father, and we have now been together for more than a month.
Can you wonder, then, that I like this man, whose face is the reflex of his nature, whose heart is essentially all goodness, whose aims are so high, that I break out impetuously sometimes: "But your family, Doctor, they would like to see you, oh! so much. Let me tempt you to come home with me. I promise to carry you every foot of the way to the coast. You shall have the finest donkey to ride that is in Unyanyembe. Your wants - you have but to hint them, and they shall be satisfied. Let the sources of the Nile go - do you come home and rest; then, after a year's rest, and restored health, you can return and finish what you have to do."
But ever the answer was, "No, I should like to see my family very much indeed. My children's letters affect me intensely; but I must not go home; I must finish my task. It is only the want of supplies that has detained me. I should have finished the discovery of the Nile by this, by tracing it to its connection with either Baker's Lake, or Petherick's branch of the Nile. If I had only gone one month further, I could have said, 'the work is done."'
Some of these men who had turned the Doctor back from his interesting discoveries were yet in Ujiji, and had the Government Enfield rifles in their hands, which they intended to retain until their wages had been paid to them; but as they had received $60 advance each at Zanzibar from the English Consul, with the understanding entered into by contract that they should follow their master wherever he required them to go; and as they had not only not gone where they were required to proceed with him, but had baffled and thwarted him, it was preposterous that a few men should triumph over the Doctor, by keeping the arms given to him by the Bombay Government. I had listened to the Arab sheikhs, friends of the Doctor, advising them in mild tones to give them up; I had witnessed the mutineer's stubbornness; and it was then, on the burzani of Sayd bin Majid's house, that I took advantage to open my mind on the subject, not only for the benefit of the stubborn slaves, but also for the benefit of the Arabs; and to tell them that it was well that I had found Livingstone alive, for if they had but injured a hair of his head, I should have gone back to the coast, to return with a party which would enable me to avenge him. I had been waiting to see Livingstone's guns returned to him every day, hoping that I should not have to use force; but when a month or more had elapsed, and still the arms had not been returned, I applied for permission to take them, which was granted. Susi, the gallant servant of Dr. Livingstone, was immediately despatched with about a dozen armed men to recover them, and in a few minutes we had possession of them without further trouble.
The Doctor had resolved to accompany me to Unyanyembe, in order to meet his stores, which had been forwarded from Zanzibar, November 1st, 1870. As I had charge of the escort, it was my duty to study well the several routes to Unyanyembe from Ujiji. I was sufficiently aware of the difficulties and the responsibilities attached to me while escorting such a man. Besides, my own personal feelings were involved in the case. If Livingstone came to any harm through any indiscretion of mine while he was with me, it would immediately be said, "Ah! had he not accompanied Stanley, he would have been alive now."