Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/347

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331
DR. LIVINGSTONE.

Portuguese, whose kind treatment did much to restore his health, which had been impaired by fever, and the poor food, chiefly manioc-root, on which he had been obliged to live. But his task was bootless. The country was unhealthy. The coast tribes were inhospitable. Wagons would be impracticable among the interminable forests, marshes, and rivers. The westward route being thus out of the question, instead of availing himself of the offer of a passage home from the officers of H.M.'s cruisers at Loando, Livingstone determined to retrace his steps, and seek a path along the Zambési to the east.

In August, 1854, he is once more at Linyanti; on November 3d, starting down the Zambési with a large retinue of Makololo.

The country beyond Linyanti is greatly infested by the "tsetse" fly, the bite of which, fatal to oxen, horses, and dogs, is perfectly harmless to man, as well as to goats and sheep, and wild animals. After its bite is received, the victim gradually pines as if seized with consumption, and in a longer or shorter time dies. There is no cure for it known. In appearance the "tsetse" resembles the honey-bee, and is about the size of the common horse-fly. It is common throughout the whole of Central Africa, and infests certain well-defined districts, usually those frequented by game; numbers may be found in a particular spot, and yet a few yards farther on not a singly fly is to be seen. It only bites in the daytime.

Starting at night, therefore, to get safely through the "tsetse" tract, on November 4th Livingstone arrived at the island of Kalai, where the rapids commence above the "Victoria Falls," as he loyally named them. They are known among the natives as "Mosi oa tunya" (Smoke does sound there). Nothing can be grander than their appearance, which is perhaps unique. Columns of vapor, darkening upward from a white base, first become visible, rising at distinct intervals like jets of smoke in the far distance. The broad stream sweeps along, its surface dotted in every direction with beautiful green islands, and then the vast body of water is seen to descend suddenly into a deep perpendicular fissure 180 yards wide, extending across the entire bed of the river, and is lost to view. Looking down from the brink opposite, masses of dense white vapor conceal the seething volume of fallen water below, from which feathery columns of spray like those described, rainbow-covered and the source of ceaseless showers, perpetually ascend far up into the air. Passing eastward (the river here flows north and south), along the edge of the cleft in front of the falls, the fissure is seen to extend, from a gap near the end, with still narrower dimensions in a zigzag course, down which the whole mass of Zambési water, compressed into a deep, swift column, rolls along, boiling and foaming, till it finds an outlet at a lower level. The rock through which the chasm runs is a dark-brown basalt, covered at the projecting angles, and wherever there is root-hold, with a dense growth of tropical vegetation. The length of the fissure into which the river