On the third day of separation, Akosanjere, the headman of this village, conducted us forward to our party who had gone on to Nseze, a district to the westward. This incident is mentioned, not for any interest it possesses, apart from the idea of the people it conveys. We were completely separated from our men for nearly three days, and had nothing wherewith to purchase food. The people were sorely pressed by famine and war, and their hospitality, poor as it was, did them great credit, and was most grateful to us. Our own men had become confused and wandered, but had done their utmost to find us; on our rejoining them, the ox was slain, and all, having been on short commons, rejoiced in this "day of slaughter." Akosanjere was, of course, rewarded to his heart's content.
As we pursued our way, we came close up to a range of mountains, the most prominent peak of which is called Mvai. This is a great, bare, rounded block of granite shooting up from the rest of the chain. It and several other masses of rock are of a light grey colour, with white patches, as if of lichens; the sides and summits are generally thinly covered with rather scraggy trees. There are several other prominent peaks--one, for instance, still further north, called Chirobve. Each has a name, but we could never ascertain that there was an appellation which applied to the whole. This fact, and our wish to commemorate the name of Dr. Kirk, induced us afterwards, when we could not discover a particular peak mentioned to us formerly as Molomo-ao-koku, or Cock's-bill, to call the whole chain from the west of the Cataracts up to the north end of the Lake, "Kirk's Range." The part we slept at opposite Mvai was named Paudio, and was evidently a continuation of the district of one of our stations on the Shire, at which observations for latitude were formerly taken.
Leaving Paudio, we had Kirk's Range close on our left and at least 3000 feet above us, and probably not less than 5000 feet above the sea. Far to our right extended a long green wooded country rising gradually up to a ridge, ornamented with several detached mountains, which bounded the Shire Valley. In front, northwards, lay a valley as rich and lovely as we ever saw anywhere, terminating at the mountains, which, stretched away some thirty miles beyond our range of vision and ended at Cape Maclear. The groups of trees had never been subjected to the landscape gardener's art; but had been cut down mercilessly, just as suited the convenience of the cultivator; yet the various combinations of open forest, sloping woodland, grassy lawns, and massive clumps of dark green foliage along the running streams, formed as beautiful a landscape as could be seen on the Thames. This valley is named Goa or Gova, and as we moved through it we found that what was smooth to the eye was very much furrowed by running streams winding round innumerable knolls. These little brooklets came down from the range on our left, and the water was deliciously cool.
When we came abreast of the peak Chirobve, the people would no longer give us guides. They were afraid of their enemies, whose dwellings we now had on our east; and, proceeding without any one to lead us, or to introduce us to the inhabitants, we were perplexed by all the paths running zigzag across instead of along the valley. They had been made by the villagers going from the hamlets on the slopes to their gardens in the meadows below. To add to our difficulties, the rivulets and mountain-torrents had worn gullies some thirty or forty feet deep, with steep sides that could not be climbed except at certain points. The remaining inhabitants on the flank of the range when they saw strangers winding from side to side, and often attempting to cross these torrent beds at impossible places, screamed out their shrill war-alarm, and made the valley ring with their wild outcries. It was war, and war alone, and we were too deep down in the valley to make our voices heard in explanation. Fortunately, they had burned off the long grass to a great extent. It only here and there hid them from us. Selecting an open spot, we spent a night regarded by all around us as slave-hunters, but were undisturbed, though the usual way of treating an enemy in this part of the country is by night attack.
The nights at the altitude of the valley were cool, the lowest temperature shown being 37 degrees; at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. it was 58 degrees, about the average temperature of the day; at mid-day 82 degrees, and sunset 70 degrees. Our march was very much hindered by the imperfectly burned corn and grass stalks having fallen across the paths. To a reader in England this will seem a very small obstacle. But he must fancy the grass stems as thick as his little finger, and the corn-stalks like so many walkingsticks lying in one direction, and so supporting each other that one has to lift his feet up as when wading through deep high heather. The stems of grass showed the causes of certain explosions as loud as pistols, which are heard when the annual fires come roaring over the land. The heated air inside expanding bursts the stalk with a loud report, and strews the fragments on the ground.
A very great deal of native corn had been cultivated here, and we saw buffaloes feeding in the deserted gardens, and some women, who ran away very much faster than the beasts did.
On the 29th, seeing some people standing under a tree by a village, we sat down, and sent Masego, one of our party, to communicate. The headman, Matunda, came back with him, bearing a calabash with water for us. He said that all the people had fled from the Ajawa, who had only just desisted from their career of pillage on being paid five persons as a fine for some offence for which they had commenced the invasion. Matunda had plenty of grain to sell, and all the women were soon at work grinding it into meal. We secured an abundant supply, and four milk goats. The Manganja goat is of a very superior breed to the general African animal, being short in the legs and having a finely-shaped broad body. By promising the Makololo that, when we no longer needed the milk, they should have the goats to improve the breed of their own at home, they were induced to take the greatest possible care of both goats and kids in driving and pasturing.
After leaving Matunda, we came to the end of the highland valley; and, before descending a steep declivity of a thousand feet towards the part which may be called the heel of the Lake, we had the bold mountains of Cape Maclear on our right, with the blue water at their base, the hills of Tsenga in the distance in front, and Kirk's Range on our left, stretching away northwards, and apparently becoming lower. As we came down into a fine rich undulating valley, many perennial streams running to the east from the hills on our left were crossed, while all those behind us on the higher ground seemed to unite in one named Lekue, which flowed into the Lake.