In the previous text, Stanley was trying to find a way to procure canoes from the Manyuema so that he could explore the Lualaba river. Livingstone had not been able to get anywhere with the Arabs, so Stanley thought he would try a different tactic. He made them a liberal offer to accompany him for a certain distance to the north with his entire company.
The Arab leader listened respectfully to Stanley’s proposition, and called on one of his officers who had been to the far north along the river. He told the man to report what he had learned while he had been gone. He told a marvelous tale, which Stanley later learned was true.
The man said: “The great river goes always toward the north, until it empties in the sea. We first reached Uregga, a forest land, where there is nothing but woods, and woods, and woods, for days and weeks and months. There was no end to the woods. In a month we reached Usongora Meno, and here we fought day after day.
They are fearful fellows and desperate; we lost many men, and all who were slain were eaten. But we were brave, and pushed on. When we came to Kima-Kima we heard of the land of the little men, where a tusk of ivory could be purchased for a single cowrie (bead). Nothing now could hold us back.
We crossed the Lumami, and came to the land of the Wakuma. The Wakuma are big men themselves, but among them we saw some of the dwarfs, the queerest little creatures alive, just a yard high, with long beards and large heads. They seemed to be plucky little devils, and asked us many questions about where we were going and what we wanted.
They told us that in their country there was so much ivory we had not enough men to carry it; ‘but what do you do with it, do you eat it?’ said they. ‘No, we make charms of it, and will give you beads to show us the way.’ ‘Good, come along’.
We followed the little devils six days, when we came to their country, and they stopped and said we could go no further until they had seen their king. Then thy left us, and after three days they came back and took us to their village, and gave us a house to live in. Then the dwarfs came from all parts.
Oh, it is a big country and everybody brought ivory, until we had about four hundred tusks, big and little, as much as we could carry. We bought it with copper, beads, and cowries. No cloths, for the dwarfs were all naked, king and all. We did not starve in the dwarf land the first ten days. Bananas as long as my arm, and plantains as long as the dwarfs were tall. One plantain was sufficient for a man for one day.
When we had sufficient ivory and wanted to go, the little king said no; ‘this is my country, and you shall not go until I say. You must buy all I have got; I want more cowries;’ and he ground his teeth and looked just like a wild monkey. We laughed at him, for he was very funny, but he would not let us go.
Presently, we heard a woman scream, and rushed out of our house, we saw a woman running with a dwarf’s arrow in her bosom. Some of our men shouted, ‘The dwarfs are coming from all the villages in great numbers; it is war – prepare!’
We had scarcely got our guns before the little wretches were upon us, shooting their arrows in clouds. They screamed and yelled like monkeys. Their arrows were poisoned, and many of our men who were hit, died. Our captain brandished his two-handed sword, and cleaved them as you would cleave a banana. The arrows passed through his shirt in many places. We had many good fellows, and they fought well, but it was of no use.
The dwarfs were firing from the tops of the trees; they crept through the tall grass close up to us, and shot their arrows in our faces. Then some hundred of us cut down banana trees, tore doors out, and houses down, and formed a boma at each end of the street, and then we were a little better off, for it was not such rapid, random shooting; we fired more deliberately, and after several hours drove them off.
But they soon came back and fought us all that night, so that we could get no water, until our captain – oh! he was a brave man, held up a shield before him, and looking around, he just ran straight where the crowd was the thickest. He seized two of the dwarfs, and we who followed him caught several more, for they would not run away until they saw what our design was, and then they left the water clear. We willed our pots and carried the little devils into the boma; and there we found that we had caught the king.
We wanted to kill him, but our captain said no, killed the others and toss their heads over the wall; but the king was not touched. The dwarfs then wanted to make peace, but they were on us again in the middle of the night, and their arrows sounded ‘twit’ ‘twit’ in all directions. At last we ran away, throwing down everything but our guns and swords.
Many of our men were so weak by hunger and thirst, though, that they burst their hearts running and died. Others that lay down to rest found the little devils close to them when it was too late and were killed. Out of our great number of people only thirty returned alive, and I am one of them.”
Stanley listened with rapt attention to the story that the man told him. Then he asked him if he had seen anything else that was wonderful on his journey.
The man said: “Oh yes! There are monstrous large boa-constrictors in the forest of Uregga, suspended by their tails to the branches, waiting for the passer-by or for a stray antelope.
Also, the ants in the forest are not to be despised. You cannot travel without your body being covered with them, when they sting you like wasps. The leopards are so numerous that you cannot go very far without seeing one. Almost every native wears a leopard-skin cap.
Also, the sokos (gorillas) are in the woods, and woe befall the man or woman met alone by them; for they run up to you and seize your hands, and bite the fingers off one by one, and as fast as they bite one off, they spit it out.
The Wasongora Meno and Waregga are cannibals, and unless the force is very strong, they never let strangers pass. It is nothing but constant fighting. Only two years ago a party armed with three hundred guns started north of Usongora Meno; they only brought sixty guns back, and no ivory. If one tries to go by the river, there are falls after falls, which carry the people over and drown them.”
These were very scary stories for Stanley and his men to listen to as they were contemplating a trip that would leads them directly through all these dreadful obstacles. He knew that if he just went out on his own that his expedition would fail, and no doubt disaster would follow with most of them dying.
After a long talk with Tipo-Tib, the Arab king, they drew up a contract between them by which Stanley would pay him $5,000 for an escort of 140 guns and 70 spearmen a distance of 60 marches of four hours each. This would be equivalent to nearly 500 miles. Stanley felt that this force added to his own would furnish him with all the protection that he needed.
The expedition now marched to Nyangwe, where another section of the Arab party was encamped; Tipo-Tib’s party consisted of 700 people when they were united.
Nyangwe was a village of 300 huts and nearly 2,000 people. It was a great market for slaves, and was the westernmost Arab trading station on the road from the east. As it was situated on the Lualaba river, Stanley launched his boat from here. It was called the Lady Alice, and he started to make soundings from this village.
He found that the river was studded with large islands, and its average depth taken after 36 soundings, was 18 ft 9 in. Its breadth, though, was 4,000 to 5,000 yards, which made it one of the greatest rivers of the earth.