The Path Was Steep And Slippery;
Deep Gorges Appear On Each Side Of It, Leaving But A Narrow Path Along
Certain spurs of the sierra for the traveler; but we accomplished the ascent
in an hour, and when there, found
We had just got on to a table-land
similar to that we had left before we entered the great Quango valley.
We had come among lofty trees again. One of these, bearing a fruit
about the size of a thirty-two pounder, is named Mononga-zambi.
We took a glance back to this valley, which equals that of the Mississippi
in fertility, and thought of the vast mass of material which had been
scooped out and carried away in its formation. This naturally
led to reflection on the countless ages required for the previous
formation and deposition of that same material (clay shale),
then of the rocks, whose abrasion formed THAT, until the mind grew giddy
in attempting to ascend the steps which lead up through
a portion of the eternity before man. The different epochs of geology
are like landmarks in that otherwise shoreless sea. Our own epoch,
or creation, is but another added to the number of that wonderful series
which presents a grand display of the mighty power of God:
every stage of progress in the earth and its habitants is such a display.
So far from this science having any tendency to make men undervalue
the power or love of God, it leads to the probability
that the exhibition of mercy we have in the gift of his Son
may possibly not be the only manifestation of grace which has taken place
in the countless ages during which works of creation have been going on.
Situated a few miles from the edge of the descent, we found
the village of Tala Mungongo, and were kindly accommodated with
a house to sleep in, which was very welcome, as we were all both wet and cold.
We found that the greater altitude and the approach of winter
lowered the temperature so much that many of my men suffered severely
from colds. At this, as at several other Portuguese stations,
they have been provident enough to erect travelers' houses
on the same principle as khans or caravanserais of the East.
They are built of the usual wattle and daub, and have benches of rods
for the wayfarer to make his bed on; also chairs, and a table,
and a large jar of water. These benches, though far from luxurious couches,
were better than the ground under the rotten fragments of my gipsy-tent,
for we had still showers occasionally, and the dews were very heavy.
I continued to use them for the sake of the shelter they afforded,
until I found that they were lodgings also for certain
27TH. Five hours' ride through a pleasant country of forest and meadow,
like those of Londa, brought us to a village of Basongo, a tribe living
in subjection to the Portuguese.
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