Chinsamba had many Abisa or Babisa in his stockade, and it was chiefly by the help of their muskets that he had repulsed the Mazitu: these Babisa are great travellers and traders.
We liked Chinsamba very well, and found that he was decidedly opposed to our risking our lives by going further to the N.W. The Mazitu were believed to occupy all the hills in that direction, so we spent the 4th of September with him.
It is rather a minute thing to mention, and it will only be understood by those who have children of their own, but the cries of the little ones, in their infant sorrows, are the same in tone, at different ages, here as all over the world. We have been perpetually reminded of home and family by the wailings which were once familiar to parental ears and heart, and felt thankful that to the sorrows of childhood our children would never have superadded the heartrending woes of the slave-trade.
Taking Chinsamba's advice to avoid the Mazitu in their marauding, we started on the 5th September away to the N.E., and passed mile after mile of native cornfields, with an occasional cotton-patch.
After a long march, we passed over a waterless plain about N.N.W. of the hills of Tsenga to a village on the Lake, and thence up its shores to Chitanda. The banks of the Lake were now crowded with fugitives, who had collected there for the poor protection which the reeds afforded. For miles along the water's edge was one continuous village of temporary huts. The people had brought a little corn with them; but they said, "What shall we eat when that is done? When we plant corn, the wild beasts (Zinyama, as they call the Mazitu) come and take it. When we plant cassava, they do the same. How are we to live?" A poor blind woman, thinking we were Mazitu, rushed off in front of us with outspread arms, lifting the feet high, in the manner peculiar to those who have lost their sight, and jumped into the reeds of a stream for safety.
In our way along the shores we crossed several running rivulets of clear cold water, which, from having reeds at their confluences, had not been noticed in our previous exploration in the boat. One of these was called Mokola, and another had a strong odour of sulphuretted hydrogen. We reached Molamba on the 8th September, and found our old acquaintance, Nkomo, there still. One of the advantages of travelling along the shores of the Lake was, that we could bathe anywhere in its clear fresh water. To us, who had been obliged so often to restrain our inclination in the Zambesi and Shire for fear of crocodiles, this was pleasant beyond measure. The water now was of the same temperature as it was on our former visit, or 72 degrees Fahr. The immense depth of the Lake prevents the rays of the sun from raising the temperature as high as that of the Shire and Zambesi; and the crocodiles, having always clear water in the Lake, and abundance of fish, rarely attack man; many of these reptiles could be seen basking on the rocks.
A day's march beyond Molamba brought us to the lakelet Chia, which lies parallel with the Lake. It is three or four miles long, by from one to one and a half broad, and communicates with the Lake by an arm of good depth, but with some rocks in it. As we passed up between the Lake and the eastern shore of this lakelet, we did not see any streams flowing into it. It is quite remarkable for the abundance of fish; and we saw upwards of fifty large canoes engaged in the fishery, which is carried on by means of hand-nets with side-frame poles about seven feet long. These nets are nearly identical with those now in use in Normandy--the difference being that the African net has a piece of stick lashed across the handle-ends of the side poles to keep them steady, which is a great improvement. The fish must be very abundant to be scooped out of the water in such quantities as we saw, and by so many canoes. There is quite a trade here in dried fish.
The country around is elevated, undulating, and very extensively planted with cassava. The hoe in use has a handle of four feet in length, and the iron part is exactly of the same form as that in the country of the Bechuanas. The baskets here, which are so closely woven together as to hold beer, are the same with those employed to hold milk in Kaffirland--a thousand miles distant.