小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文短篇小说 » David Livingstone » CHAPTER IX
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
CHAPTER IX
In the middle of October, 1869, when Livingstone was at Bambarré in quest of the Lualaba, Mr. Stanley was travelling from Madrid to Paris in response to an urgent telegram from Mr. James Gordon Bennett, Jr., of the New York Herald. “Where do you think Livingstone is?” was Mr. Bennett’s query when Stanley arrived. The latter confessed his ignorance. The world in general seemed to be content to go on, regardless of Livingstone’s fate. Nobody knew for certain whether he was alive or dead. Mr. Bennett approached the question as a journalist. To find Livingstone was the most sensational feat that could be performed. Mr. Bennett probably underrated his own motive of humanity; but he felt that David Livingstone was good “copy,{180}” and that if he were discovered the world would ring with the enterprise of the great paper with which he was honourably associated. His instructions to Mr. Stanley were of the simplest: “Spare no expense; spend all the money you want; only find Livingstone.” By a curious arrangement, Stanley was first of all to make a grand tour through Constantinople, Palestine, Egypt, India. That is why he did not cross to Zanzibar till the beginning of 1871. Livingstone might have reappeared in the interval, but there was no sign. Accordingly, Stanley organised an imposing expedition of nearly 200 persons in five caravans, with all kinds of stores, necessary and luxurious, and made for the interior by way of Unyanyembe. There he himself all but perished of fever, and afterwards escaped by a hand’s-breadth being made the victim of a war between the Arabs and the natives. However, he stuck to his errand and, as we have seen, arrived in Ujiji and greeted Livingstone just when the latter was most in need of the kind of cheer and aid that Stanley had brought. Five years had passed since Livingstone had had news of the outer world; and even now it is a question whether Stanley’s story to Livingstone or Livingstone’s to Stanley was the greater tale. Stanley brought news of the Franco-German War, of General Grant’s Presidency, of the electric cables laid, and, what touched Livingstone deeply, of a vote of £1,000 for supplies to him by the Government. So he was not entirely forgotten! Livingstone’s story was told by degrees—a story of which Stanley could be left to estimate the heroism and miraculous endurance. Never before or since has such a story of one lone man’s achievement been told to any listener. This was the man Stanley had found: this was the man he was now to save from despair and collapse. “You have brought me new life!” Livingstone kept saying; and it was true in every sense. For Stanley had brought him news, and food, and medicine, and comfort, and, above all, companionship. His recovery was remarkable. He began{183} to enjoy every luxury provided for him. He revelled in the descriptions of the history of the memorable five years, as Stanley described it in graphic fashion. He read and re-read his home letters. He luxuriated in clothes, new and clean and warm. The imagination loves to dwell on this oasis in the desert of his last years. He was supremely happy, full of laughter and anecdote; above all, full of gratitude to the resourceful and admiring friend who had dropped from the clouds to relieve his solitude and brace his soul for the final exploits. It was Stanley’s own testimony that this meeting, and the cheerful days that followed, seemed to take ten years off Livingstone’s age, and bring back the air of youth to his face and figure.

They planned together an exploration of the northern end of Lake Tanganyika. It was a “picnic,” or so Livingstone called it; and it was carried out in that spirit. The old explorer had always been convinced that Lake Tanganyika contributed its waters to the Nile. They found but one river at the{184} northern end, and that river flowed in, not out. Even so, he was not wholly convinced that his theory was unsound. There were incidents in the journey that revealed to the younger man Livingstone’s patience and forbearance, and the secret of his unique power in gentleness and the forgiving spirit. The impression made was never effaced.

Of the picture of Livingstone, drawn by Mr. Stanley’s sympathetic and accomplished hand, we shall have more to say in the final chapter. Meanwhile we only record that Stanley succeeded beyond all hopes in the first part of his mission, and as conspicuously failed in the second. The first part was to find Livingstone and minister to his needs. There is no manner of doubt that this mission was well and truly performed. Stanley’s repeated acts of generosity brought the tears to Livingstone’s eyes, and this “cold northerner,” as he called himself, was moved beyond words. From Stanley he also received abundance of stores and medicines, as well as a company of carriers sent back to him eventually from Zanzibar.{185} But as to the second part of the mission, which was to persuade Livingstone to go home at once, where honours and fortune awaited him, and his nearest and dearest were yearning to see him again—in this Stanley had no success. To return, and go wearily over many of his old tracks; to dare once again the perils of fever, the enmity of the slave trader, and the ignorant antagonism of savage peoples—this was the alternative programme, and he was resolute to carry it out. His problem was not yet fully solved; and, if he could help it, he would not carry mere half-baked theories back to England after five years of wandering and exile. When his daughter Agnes wrote, “Much as I wish you to come home, I had rather that you finished your work to your own satisfaction than return merely to gratify me,” he writes proudly in his journal: “Rightly and nobly said, my darling Nannie; vanity whispers pretty loudly, ‘She is a chip of the old block.’ My blessing on her, and all the rest.”

The plan then formed between the two{186} travellers was to return together to Unyanyembe, where Stanley had stores waiting. The latter would then push on rapidly to Zanzibar, and send back carriers for Livingstone’s new expedition. With these, the veteran proposed to return to a final examination of the sources of the great rivers, clear up the points still in dispute, and then turn his face home. They set out together at the end of the year 1871, and arrived after seven weeks’ travelling at Unyanyembe, on Feb. 18th, 1872. The march is prosaically recorded by Livingstone. The most frequent entries concern Stanley’s repeated attacks of fever. Occasionally he was so weak that he had to be carried. But for the tireless ministration of his great companion, and the cheering effect of his presence, which was worth many doses of quinine, Stanley might easily have succumbed. They reached their destination only to find that thieves had been active as usual, and that both Livingstone’s and Stanley’s stores had been extensively plundered. There was enough left, however, to make Livingstone feel rich: “I am{187} quite set up; and as soon as he can send me men, not slaves, from the coast, I go to my work, with a fair prospect of finishing it.”

The two friends remained together nearly a month at Unyanyembe. Letters and parcels arrived. Livingstone rejoices in “four flannel shirts from Agnes,” and “two pairs of fine English boots” from a friend. Despatches have to be written, articles for the New York Herald, and grateful letters to many American and English friends—all of which Stanley will take with him. At last, on March 14th, the time has come to say good-bye. Livingstone’s entry in his diary is characteristic: “Mr. Stanley leaves. I commit to his care my journal, sealed with five seals; the impressions on them are those of an American gold coin, anna and half-anna, and cake of paint with royal arms. Positively not to be opened.” All that one man (naturally reticent and reserved) could say of the limitless kindness shown by Stanley, and the noble interest taken by America, Livingstone expressed in his private{188} letters. It is to Stanley’s picturesque pen that we owe the description of the final parting, and we may well quote a few sentences from it:—“My days seem to have been spent in an Elysian field; otherwise, why should I so keenly regret the near approach of the parting hour? Have I not been battered by successive fevers, prostrate with agony day after day lately? Have I not raved and stormed in madness? Have I not clenched my fists in fury, and fought with the wild strength of despair when in delirium? Yet I regret to surrender the pleasure I have felt in this man’s society, though so dearly purchased.... March 14th.—We had a sad breakfast together. I could not eat, my heart was too full; neither did my companion seem to have an appetite. We found something to do which kept us longer together. At eight o’clock I was not gone, and I had thought to have been off at 5 a.m.” But the final parting must be faced. The Doctor will walk out a little way with his friend, and start him on his journey. The carriers were in lively mood, singing on the march. The{189} two friends walked side by side, Stanley searching Livingstone’s features to impress every detail on his memory. At last he halts. “Now, my dear Doctor, the best friends must part; you have come far enough, let me beg of you to turn back.” “Well,” Livingstone replied, “I will say this of you: you have done what few men could do—far better than some great travellers I know. And I am grateful to you for what you have done for me. God guide you safe home and bless you, my friend.” “And may God bring you safe back to us all, my dear friend. Farewell!” “Farewell!” Livingstone turned away. Did his heart forebode that this was the last white face he would ever see, the last white hand he would ever press? Did he feel that he was turning his back for ever on home, and rest, and freedom? Just when a dip in the path would hide the returning exile finally from view, Stanley turned to take one more look. “The old man in grey clothes” was still there. He, too, turned round. “He was standing near the gate of Kwihaha with his servants near him. I{190} waved a handkerchief to him, and he responded by lifting his cap.”

This was on March 14th. On March 17th, at a spot agreed upon, Susi and Hamaydah found Stanley and delivered to him a letter signed by Livingstone, in which the latter gives him a well-seasoned Scotch counsel, “to put a stout heart to a stey brae”; rejoices that Stanley’s fever has assumed “the intermittent or safe form,” and concludes, “I feel comfortable in commending you to the guardianship of the good Lord and Father of all.”

Two days later it was Livingstone’s birthday; and his diary reminds us that though this new friend has come and gone, there is One Who is with him always even to the end of the world.

March 19th.—My birthday. My Jesus, my King, my Life, my all! I again dedicate my whole self to Thee. Accept me. And grant, O Gracious Father, that ere this year is gone I may finish my work. In Jesus’ name, I ask it. Amen.


欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533

鲁ICP备05031204号