CHAPTER XIX. RESTORATION OF THE LIBERATED SLAVES.
Everything that we possessed was now minutely scrutinized. The guns and rifles of various breechloading mechanism were all displayed and admired. Kabba Rega thoughtfully asked "which of them I had intended for him?" His uncle, Rahonka, exclaimed - "You have done wisely in bringing all those guns as presents for Kabba Rega." My visitors were quite charmed. The musical box played various delightful airs, and it was remarked that it would be more convenient than an instrument which required the study of learning, as "you might set this going at night to play you to sleep, when you were too drunk to play an instrument yourself; even if you knew how to do it."
This was my young friend Kabba Rega's idea of happiness - to go to sleep drunk, assisted by the strains of self-playing melody.
Of course, the large musical box was asked for; and, of course, I promised to give it as a present from the Khedive of Egypt, if I found that Kabba Rega conducted himself properly.
My wife's trinkets, were now begged for; but it was explained that such things were private property belonging to the Sit (lady). "The Sit! the Sit! the Sit!" the young cub peevishly exclaimed; "everything that is worth having seems to belong to THE SIT!"
A small and beautifully-made revolver, with seven chambers, now attracted his attention. "Does this also belong to the Sit?" inquired Kabba Rega. "Yes, that is the Sit's own little revolver," was the reply; at which the young king burst out laughing, saying, "Do women also carry arms in your country? I see everything belongs to the Sit!"
My wife now gave him some of the finest Venetian beads, of which we only had a few dozen. These were much prized. He was then presented with a handsome gilt bracelet, set with four large French emeralds. This was a treasure such as he had never seen. He also received a few strings of fine imitation pearls.
After much delay and vexatious demands for everything that he saw, we at length got rid of our visitor.
I had explained to Kabba Rega the intended ceremony of hoisting the flag in the name of the Khedive, and that the country would be in future under the protection of Egypt, but that he should remain as the representative of the government. He seemed highly pleased at the idea of protection and presents, and expressed himself as very anxious to witness the ceremony. . . . . . . On the 14th May, 1872, I took formal possession of Unyoro in the name of the Khedive of Egypt.
I recalled to the recollection of Kabba Rega and his chiefs the day when, many years ago, I had hoisted the British flag, and thus I had turned back the invading force of Wat-el-Mek, and saved Unyoro. I now declared that the country and its inhabitants would be protected by the Ottoman flag in the same manner that it had been shielded by the Union Jack of England.
There was a tall flag-staff fixed at the east end of the government house.
The bugle sounded the "taboor," the troops fell in, the irregulars (late slave-hunters) formed in line with that charming irregularity which is generally met with in such rude levies.
Kabba Rega had received due notice, and he quickly appeared, attended by about a thousand people.
The band played; Kabba Rega's drums and horns sounded, and the troops formed a hollow square to listen to a short address.
Kabba Rega was invited within the square; and the men faced about with fixed bayonets, as though prepared to receive cavalry. It was now explained to the young king that this formation defended all sides from attack at the same time. He seemed more interested in getting out again, than in the explanation of military tactics. He evidently had suspicions that he was fairly entrapped when he found himself in the middle of the square.
The flag was now hoisted with due formality; the usual military salutes took place; volleys were fired; and the crowd at length dispersed, leaving the Ottoman flag waving in a strong breeze at the head of the flag-staff.
As a proof of his satisfaction, Kabba Rega immediately sent me a present of twelve goats.
One of the soldiers had been caught in the act of stealing potatoes from a native. This having been proved conclusively against him, I sent word to Kabba Rega to summon his people to witness the punishment of the offender.
A great crowd of natives assembled, and the thief having received punishment in their presence, was confined in the stocks, and was condemned to be sent back to Gondokoro. This strict discipline had a strong moral effect upon my men; as thefts, which had formerly been the rule, had now become the exception. The natives were always assured of justice and protection.
On 19th May, my people were ready to start, with the post and the prisoner Suleiman, to Fatiko. Kabba Rega declared that the 300 carriers were in readiness with fifty loads of flour for the journey; and he said that he had already sent orders to Foweera to prepare the deserted zareeba of Suleiman for the reception of Major Abdullah and his detachment on their arrival.
The party was to consist of a serjeant and ten men (regulars), together with twenty-five irregulars under the charge of my old Cairo dragoman, Mohammed.
Ali Genninar had the military command in the place of the second vakeel, Eddrees, who was suffering from chronic dysentery. I had arranged that the party should start on the following day.
In the afternoon I had an interview with Kabba Rega in his private divan, within our garden. I was suddenly interrupted by Ali Genninar and a few of his men, who presented themselves in the face of Kabba Rega, to inform me that they could not start without their guns!