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CHAPTER VIII
When Livingstone crossed Tanganyika again to the west and disappeared into the new country, he certainly did not propose to himself more than an eight or nine months’ absence. In reality he left Ujiji on July 12th, 1869, and saw it no more until October 23rd, 1871. For two years and a quarter he wandered on, while the great world believed him to be dead; and, perhaps, if we had to name one period of his life which was more poignant and more fruitful than any other, it was this. For out of its agonies a new hope was born for humanity. His health returns somewhat as he goes on, though many signs remind him that he is not the man he was. He is only fifty-six, but he is worn out with hardship and privation. He cannot walk up-hill without panting for{166} breath. His cheeks are hollow, and his teeth are broken, or have fallen out, from trying to masticate hard and sticky food. “If you expect a kiss from me,” he writes to his daughter Agnes, “you must take it through a speaking-trumpet!”

The 21st of September sees him at Bambarré, the capital of the Manyuema country, noting with thankfulness that as he perseveres his strength increases. In front of him is the Luamo River, flowing west to its confluence with the Lualaba, which again is not far distant. He might have fulfilled his ambition to navigate the Lualaba now, but could get no canoes—“all are our enemies’”—and so returned reluctantly to Bambarré. It was from Bambarré that he wrote two letters—they were probably posted months later—which actually got through the Arab cordon, and eventually reached their owners. One was to his son Tom. He tells of his hopes to go down the Lualaba; but he has frightful ulcers on his feet “from wading in mud.” Another to Sir Thomas Maclear, which is more explicit as to his{167} plans. “I have to go down and see where the two arms unite—the lost city Meroe ought to be there—then get back to Ujiji to get a supply of goods which I have ordered from Zanzibar, turn bankrupt after I secure them, and let my creditors catch me if they can, as I finish up by going outside and south of all the sources, so that I may be sure none will cut me out and say he found other sources south of mine.... I have still a seriously long task before me.” To his daughter Agnes, whose courage he never failed to praise, he writes: “The death knell of American slavery was rung by a woman’s hand. We great he-beasts say Mrs. Stowe exaggerated. From what I have seen of slavery I say exaggeration is a simple impossibility. I go with the sailor who, on seeing slave-traders, said: ‘If the devil don’t catch those fellows we might as well have no devil at all.’”

After Christmas he goes away to the north, and discovers the Chanya range. Marching through rank jungle, and suffering much from fever, and “choleraic symptoms,{168}” he turns south again, and on the 7th of February goes into winter quarters at Mamohela. Mohamad is still with him, but goes off at this stage in search of ivory. The entries in his diary are now few, but on June 26th the winter season is evidently over and he proposes to start once again for the Lualaba. Once more, however, he has to reckon with a revolt of his men, who desert, with the exception of three, among whom are the ever-faithful Susi and Chumah. The path this time is to the north-west. It is difficult and hazardous, but the situation is relieved by the timely arrival of Mohamad Bogharib. It was well, for Livingstone was at the end of his strength. “Flooded rivers, breast and neck deep, had to be crossed, and the mud was awful.” His feet “failed him” for the first time in his life. “Irritable, eating ulcers fastened on both feet.” In indescribable pain, he “limped back to Bambarré.” This was on July 22, 1870.

For the next eighty days he was a prisoner in his hut. He could do nothing but think, “I READ THE BIBLE THROUGH FOUR TIMES WHILST I WAS IN MANYUEMA.”

read the Bible, and pray. He read the Bible through four times during his stay in the Manyuema country. He was fascinated by the personality of Moses and his connection with the Nile; and thinks favourably of the legend that associates him with the lost city, Meroe, at the junction of the two rivers Lualaba. He meditates tenderly on the stratagem of the “old Nile” hiding its head so cunningly, and baffling so many human efforts. One of his resources is the Soko, a kind of gorilla, often made captive. It is physically repulsive to him, but it interests him as a naturalist; and later on he becomes possessed of one, which he pets and proposes to take back to Europe. When most helpless he sketches out his future; and in imagination names certain lakes and rivers after old English friends and benefactors—Palmerston, Webb, and Young; and one lake after the great Lincoln. On the 10th of October, he is able for the first time to crawl out of his hut. On the 25th he makes this significant entry in his journal: “In this journey I have endeavoured to follow with{171} unswerving fidelity the line of duty. All the hardship, hunger and toil were met with the full conviction that I was right in persevering to make a complete work of the exploration of the sources of the Nile. The prospect of death in pursuing what I knew to be right did not make me veer to one side or the other.” Never had any man a better right to use such words.

He is waiting now for the arrival of Syde bin Habib, Dugumbé, and others who are bringing him letters and medicines from Ujiji. Months pass and there is no sign of them. He is heartsick and weary with the intolerable delay. The one excitement is in the shedding of blood. Every day has its story of horrors, and he can bear it no longer. But there are to be darker tragedies yet before he escapes out of the Manyuema country.

The year 1871 dawns. “O Father! Help me to finish this work to Thy glory.”

It was February before the men arrived who were bringing letters and stores for him; but, alas! “only one letter reached, and forty{172} are missing.” The men, too, have been corrupted by the Arabs, and refuse to go north with him. He is again outwitted by his cunning foes. Weary days of bargaining follow, and at last terms are arranged. The expedition starts, and on March 29th Livingstone is at Nyangwé on the bank of the Lualaba, the furthest point westward that he was to reach at this time. He finds the Lualaba here “a mighty river 3,000 yards broad.”

Livingstone was to learn to his cost that the men who had been sent up country to him, ostensibly to help him on his way, were his worst enemies. They poisoned the minds of the Manyuema against him. They stirred up strife, and were guilty of every kind of crime. All Livingstone’s efforts to get canoes for exploring the river were neutralised by them; though he afterwards saw in this the hand of God for his deliverance, for other canoes were lost in the rapids. “We don’t always know the dangers we are guided past.”

We now reach the event which was the{173} climax of Livingstone’s moral sufferings, and which, when known in Europe, sent a thrill of horror through the nations which had heard of the lesser agonies of the slave traffic with comparative indifference. On the 28th of June, one of Syde bin Habib’s slaves, named Manilla, set fire to eight or ten villages, alleging an old debt by way of an excuse. He then made blood-brotherhood with other tribes, which angered Dugumbé and his followers, who planned revenge. The 15th of July was a lovely summer day, and about 1,500 people came together for the market. Livingstone was strolling round observing the life in the market place, when three of Dugumbé’s men opened fire upon the assembled crowd, and another small troop began to shoot down the panic-stricken women as they fled to the canoes on the river. So many canoes were pushed off at once down the creek that they got jammed, and the murderers on the bank poured volley after volley into them. Numbers of the victims sprang into the water and swam out into the river. Many were hit and sank;{174} others were drowned. Canoes capsized and their occupants were lost. The Arabs reckoned the dead at four hundred; and even then the men who had tasted blood continued the awful butchery and fired village after village. “No one will ever know,” writes Livingstone, “the exact loss on this bright, sultry, summer morning; it gave me the impression of being in hell.” Dugumbé protested his innocence, and helped to save some who were drowning; but it is clear that Livingstone in his heart accuses him of complicity. He counted twelve burning villages; and on the next day sees as many as seventeen. “The open murder perpetrated on hundreds of unsuspecting women fills me with unspeakable horror.” It “felt to me like Gehenna,” he writes later; and the nightmare never left him afterwards. “I cannot stay here in agony,” he adds; and on the 20th he starts back for Ujiji, in spite of the entreaties of those who had every reason to desire that he should not go away and publish the story. The atrocious wickedness of the Arabs was that they demoralised their slaves, and trained them to perpetrate these butcheries of natives, and then excused themselves on the ground that they had nothing to do with the crime.

The homeward march lay through miles of villages, all burned; and it was impossible to convince the wretched survivors that he himself had not been guilty. Ambushes were laid to murder him and his party. A large spear “almost grazed my back.” Another spear missed him by only a foot. Two of his men were slain. A huge tree had been loosened at the roots, and almost fell upon him. Three times in one day he escaped death by a hair’s-breadth. So impressed were his people that they cried, “Peace! peace! you will finish your work in spite of everything.” He took it as an omen, and gave thanks to the “Almighty Preserver of men.” For five hours he ran the gauntlet, “perfectly indifferent whether I were killed or not.”

The march was pursued in great suffering through August and September, and on into{177} October. Once, he says, he felt like dying on his feet. He was profoundly shaken and depressed. The infamous traders succeeded, but he had failed, he alone, “and experienced worry, thwarting, baffling, when almost in sight of the end for which I strained.”

On the 23rd of October, reduced to a skeleton, “a mere ruckle of bones,” he arrived at Ujiji. Shereef, who had custody of his goods, had sold them all off. Shereef, says Livingstone, is “a moral idiot.” Little wonder that he feels like the man in the parable who fell among thieves, only, alas! there was no Good Samaritan. So he felt; but this time he was mistaken. “When my spirits were at their lowest ebb, the Good Samaritan was close at hand.” No part of his amazing story is better known. On the morning of October 28, 1871, Susi came running to him “at the top of his speed and gasped out, ‘an Englishman. I see him!’”

A caravan was approaching with the American flag flying over it. A few minutes and the stranger was in front of him, holding{178} out his hand, with the words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume!” It was Henry Morton Stanley, who had undertaken to find him, alive or dead. He had engaged to do so two years before; and he had kept his word.


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