Five Weeks in a Balloon
The Karagwah.--Lake Ukereoue.--A Night on an Island.--The Equator.-- Crossing the
Lake.--The Cascades.--A View of the Country.--The Sources of the Nile.--The Island of
Benga.--The Signature of Andrea Debono.--The Flag with the Arms of England.
At five o'clock in the morning, preparations for departure commenced. Joe, with the
hatchet which he had fortunately recovered, broke the elephant's tusks. The balloon,
restored to liberty, sped away to the northwest with our travellers, at the rate of eighteen
miles per hour.
The doctor had carefully taken his position by the altitude of the stars, during the
preceding night. He knew that he was in latitude two degrees forty minutes below the
equator, or at a distance of one hundred and sixty geographical miles. He swept along
over many villages without heeding the cries that the appearance of the balloon excited;
he took note of the conformation of places with quick sights; he passed the slopes of the
Rubemhe, which are nearly as abrupt as the summits of the Ousagara, and, farther on, at
Tenga, encountered the first projections of the Karagwah chains, which, in his opinion,
are direct spurs of the Mountains of the Moon. So, the ancient legend which made these
mountains the cradle of the Nile, came near to the truth, since they really border upon
Lake Ukereoue, the conjectured reservoir of the waters of the great river.
From Kafuro, the main district of the merchants of that country, he descried, at length, on
the horizon, the lake so much desired and so long sought for, of which Captain Speke
caught a glimpse on the 3d of August, 1858.
Samuel Ferguson felt real emotion: he was almost in contact with one of the principal
points of his expedition, and, with his spy-glass constantly raised, he kept every nook and
corner of the mysterious region in sight. His gaze wandered over details that might have
been thus described:
"Beneath him extended a country generally destitute of cultivation; only here and there
some ravines seemed under tillage; the surface, dotted with peaks of medium height,
grew flat as it approached the lake; barley-fields took the place of rice-plantations, and
there, too, could be seen growing the species of plantain from which the wine of the
country is drawn, and mwani, the wild plant which supplies a substitute for coffee. A
collection of some fifty or more circular huts, covered with a flowering thatch,
constituted the capital of the Karagwah country."
He could easily distinguish the astonished countenances of a rather fine-looking race of
natives of yellowish-brown complexion. Women of incredible corpulence were dawdling
about through the cultivated grounds, and the doctor greatly surprised his companions by
informing them that this rotundity, which is highly esteemed in that region, was obtained
by an obligatory diet of curdled milk.