I have skimmed over my travels thus far, because these do not concern the reader. They led over many lands, but this book is only a narrative of my search after Livingstone, the great African traveller. It is an Icarian flight of journalism, I confess; some even have called it Quixotic; but this is a word I can now refute, as will be seen before the reader arrives at the “Finis.”
I have used the word “soldiers” in this book. The armed escort a traveller engages to accompany him into East Africa is composed of free black men, natives of Zanzibar, or freed slaves from the interior, who call themselves “askari,” an Indian name which, translated, means “soldiers.” They are armed and equipped like soldiers, though they engage themselves also as servants; but it would be more pretentious in me to call them servants, than to use the word “soldiers;” and as I have been more in the habit of calling them soldiers than “my watuma”—servants—this habit has proved too much to be overcome. I have therefore allowed the word “soldiers " to appear, accompanied, however, with this apology.
But it must be remembered that I am writing a narrative of my own adventures and travels, and that until I meet Livingstone, I presume the greatest interest is attached to myself, my marches, my troubles, my thoughts, and my impressions. Yet though I may sometimes write, “my expedition,” or “my caravan,” it by no means follows that I arrogate to myself this right. For it must be distinctly understood that it is the “`New York Herald’ Expedition,” and that I am only charged with its command by Mr. James Gordon Bennett, the proprietor of the `New York Herald,’ as a salaried employ of that gentleman.
One thing more; I have adopted the narrative form of relating the story of the search, on account of the greater interest it appears to possess over the diary form, and I think that in this manner I avoid the great fault of repetition for which some travellers have been severely criticised.
CHAPTER II. ZANZIBAR.
On the morning of the 6th January, 1871, we were sailing through the channel that separates the fruitful island of Zanzibar from Africa. The high lands of the continent loomed like a lengthening shadow in the grey of dawn. The island lay on our left, distant but a mile, coming out of its shroud of foggy folds bit by bit as the day advanced, until it finally rose clearly into view, as fair in appearance as the fairest of the gems of creation. It appeared low, but not flat; there were gentle elevations cropping hither and yon above the languid but graceful tops of the cocoa-trees that lined the margin of the island, and there were depressions visible at agreeable intervals, to indicate where a cool gloom might be found by those who sought relief from a hot sun. With the exception of the thin line of sand, over which the sap-green water rolled itself with a constant murmur and moan, the island seemed buried under one deep stratum of verdure.