We ate a belated supper in comfort, peace, and satisfaction. Then the storms joined forces and fell upon us.
ADVENTURES BY THE WAY.
We journeyed slowly on down the stream. Interesting things happened to us. The impressions of that journey are of two sorts: the little isolated details and the general background of our day’s routine, with the gray dawn, the great heats of the day, the blessed evening and its fireflies; the thundering of heaven’s artillery, and the downpour of torrents; the hot, high, crackling thorn scrub into which we made excursions; the swift-flowing river with its palms and jungles; outleaning palms trailing their fronds just within the snatch of the flood waters; wide flats in the embrace of the river bends, or extending into the low hills, grown thick with lush green and threaded with rhinoceros paths; the huge sheer cliff mountains over the way; distant single hills far down. The mild discomfort of the start before daylight clearly revealed the thorns and stumbling blocks; the buoyant cheerfulness of the first part of the day, with the grouse rocketing straight up out of the elephant grass, the birds singing everywhere, and the beasts of the jungle still a-graze at the edges; the growing weight of the sun, as though a great pressing hand were laid upon the shoulders; the suffocating, gasping heat of afternoon, and the; gathering piling black and white clouds; the cool evening in pyjamas with the fireflies flickering; among the bushes, the river singing, and little; breezes wandering like pattering raindrops in the dry palm leaves—all these, by repetition of main elements, blend in my memory to form a single image. To be sure each day the rock pinnacles over the way changed slightly their compass bearings, and little variations of contour lent variety to the procession of days. But in essentials they were of one kin.
But here and there certain individual scenes and incidents stand out clearly and alone. Without reference to my notebook I could not tell you their chronological order, nor the days of their happening. They occurred, without correlation.
Thus one afternoon at the loafing hour, when F. was sound asleep under his mosquito bar, and I in my canvas chair was trying to catch the breeze from an approaching deluge, to me came a total stranger in a large turban. He was without arms or baggage of any sort, an alien in a strange and savage country.
“Jambo, bwana m’kubwa (greeting, great master)!” said he.
“Jambo,” said I, as though his existence were not in the least surprising, and went on reading. This showed him that I was indeed a great master.
After a suitable interval I looked up.
“Wataka neenee (what do you want)?” I demanded.
“Nataka sema qua heri (I want to say good-bye),” said this astonishing individual.
I had, until that moment, been quite unaware of his existence. As he had therefore not yet said “How do you do,” I failed to fathom his reasons for wanting to say “good-bye.” However, far be it from me to deny any one innocent pleasure, so I gravely bade him good-bye, and he disappeared into the howling wilderness whence he had come.