Remaining At A Distance
Of A Quarter Of A Mile, We Sent Two Men To Inform Them Who We Were,
And That Our Purposes Were Peaceful.
The head man came and spoke civilly,
but, when nearly dark, the people of another village arrived
and behaved very differently.
They began by trying to spear a young man
who had gone for water. Then they approached us, and one came forward
howling at the top of his voice in the most hideous manner; his eyes were
shot out, his lips covered with foam, and every muscle of his frame quivered.
He came near to me, and, having a small battle-axe in his hand,
alarmed my men lest he might do violence; but they were afraid
to disobey my previous orders, and to follow their own inclination
by knocking him on the head. I felt a little alarmed too,
but would not show fear before my own people or strangers,
and kept a sharp look-out on the little battle-axe. It seemed to me
a case of ecstasy or prophetic phrensy, voluntarily produced.
I felt it would be a sorry way to leave the world, to get my head chopped
by a mad savage, though that, perhaps, would be preferable to
hydrophobia or delirium tremens. Sekwebu took a spear in his hand,
as if to pierce a bit of leather, but in reality to plunge it into the man
if he offered violence to me. After my courage had been sufficiently tested,
I beckoned with the head to the civil head man to remove him,
and he did so by drawing him aside.
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