CHAPTER XIX. RESTORATION OF THE LIBERATED SLAVES.
There was no doubt that this fellow, Abou Saood, was confident of support from some Egyptian authority behind the scenes; he had therefore determined to be humble before my face, to avoid being pounced upon at once, but to have his own way when my back was turned, as he trusted that after the advice he had given to Kabba Rega I should never return from Unyoro. It would then be said that I had been killed by the natives, the affair would be ended, and the official supporters of Abou Saood would reinstate him in his original business for a sufficient CONSIDERATION.
I made arrangements for the departure of my new irregulars. After many invitations I at length succeeded in allaying Kabba Rega's apprehensions, and he promised to pay me a visit on the 11th May. Lieutenant-Colonel Abd-el-Kader went to meet him, and escorted him to the new house.
On arrival in the divan he was much astonished and delighted. The room, twenty-eight feet by fourteen, was arranged with double rows of metal boxes on all sides, so closely packed that they formed either low tables or seats, as might be required. These were all covered with blue blankets, which gave a neat appearance, upon which, at the east end of the room, were exhibited samples of the various goods that I had brought for the establishment of a regular trade in Unyoro. There were tin plates as bright as mirrors, crockery of various kinds, glasses, knives of many varieties, beautiful Manchester manufactures, such as Indian scarfs, handkerchiefs, piece-goods, light blue serge, chintzes, scarlet and blue blankets, blue and crimson cotton cloth, small mirrors, scissors, razors, watches, clocks, tin whistles, triangles, tambourines, toys, including small tin steamers, boats, carriages, Japanese spinning tops, horn snakes, pop-guns, spherical quicksilvered globes, together with assortments of beads of many varieties.
"Are these all for me?" asked Kabba Rega.
"Certainly," I replied, "if you wish to exchange ivory. All these things belong to the Khedive of Egypt, and any amount remains in the magazines of Gondokoro. These are simply a few curiosities that I have brought as an experiment to prove the possibility of establishing a trade."
Among other things, the wheel of life attracted his attention. This had frequently been exhibited, but neither Kabba Rega nor his chiefs ever tired of the performance.
The magnetic battery was now called for, and Kabba Rega insisted upon each of his chiefs submitting to the operation, although he was afraid to experiment upon himself. He begged Lieutenant Baker, who managed the instrument, to give as powerful a shock as he could, and he went into roars of laughter when he saw a favourite minister rolling on his back in contortions, without the possibility of letting the cylinders fall from his grasp.
Every individual of his headmen had to suffer, and when all had been exhausted, the ministers sought outside the divan among the crowd for any particular friends that might wish to try "the magic."
At length one of the wires of the instrument gave way, as a patient kicked and rolled frantically upon the ground; this was a good excuse for closing the entertainment.
Kabba Rega now requested permission to see our private residence. I told him that only himself together with four of his chiefs and the interpreter, Umbogo, could be permitted to enter. These were Rahonka (his maternal uncle), Neka (his uncle, Kamrasi's brother), Kitakara, and Quonga. On that occasion the tall chief, Matonse, endeavoured to push his way through, but was immediately turned back by the sentry and Monsoor. (This little incident must be remembered, as the man took a dislike to Monsoor from that moment.) The first exclamation upon entering the room was one of surprise - "Wah! Wah!" - and Kabba Rega and his chiefs covered their mouths with one hand, according to their custom when expressing astonishment.
The large looking-glasses were miracles. Kabba Rega discovered a great number of Kabba Regas in the endless reflections of the two opposite mirrors. This was a great wonder that attracted particular attention.
It was then discovered that every person was multiplied in a similar manner! This was of course "cojoor" (magic). It was difficult to draw them away from the looking glasses, but at length the pictures were examined. The Queen was exhibited and explained, and I described her subjects to be as numerous as the white ants in Unyoro. The Princess of Wales was a three-quarter face; and they immediately asked "why she had only one ear?" The same question of unity was asked respecting the leg of a man in a red coat on a white horse.
Every lady's portrait was minutely examined, but to our great satisfaction, that of the Princess was declared by general consent to be the most lovely.
I was much struck with this exhibition of good taste, as the other portraits were pretty faces, but the hair and dresses were gaudily ornamented, whereas that of the Princess of Wales was exceedingly simple; the dress being an evening gown of white satin.
I should have suspected that natives would have preferred the gaudy attire, without bestowing sufficient admiration on the features.
Kabba Rega now asked "why the women in the various portraits all looked at him?" wherever he moved, their eyes followed him.
His chiefs now discovered that the faces in the pictures were also looking at them; and the eyes followed them whether they moved to the right or left! This was cojoor, or magic, which at first made them feel uncomfortable.
One of my wife's female servants, Wat-el-Kerreem, would never remain by herself in this room, for fear of "the eyes that stared at her."