Five Weeks in a Balloon
The Arrival at Zanzibar.--The English Consul.--Ill-will of the Inhabitants.--The Island of
Koumbeni.--The Rain-Makers.--Inflation of the Balloon.--Departure on the 18th of
April.--The last Good-by. --The Victoria.
An invariably favorable wind had accelerated the progress of the Resolute toward the
place of her destination. The navigation of the Mozambique Channel was especially calm
and pleasant. The agreeable character of the trip by sea was regarded as a good omen of
the probable issue of the trip through the air. Every one looked forward to the hour of
arrival, and sought to give the last touch to the doctor's preparations.
At length the vessel hove in sight of the town of Zanzibar, upon the island of the same
name, and, on the 15th of April, at 11 o'clock in the morning, she anchored in the port.
The island of Zanzibar belongs to the Imaum of Muscat, an ally of France and England,
and is, undoubtedly, his finest settlement. The port is frequented by a great many vessels
from the neighboring countries.
The island is separated from the African coast only by a channel, the greatest width of
which is but thirty miles.
It has a large trade in gums, ivory, and, above all, in "ebony," for Zanzibar is the great
slave-market. Thither converges all the booty captured in the battles which the chiefs of
the interior are continually fighting. This traffic extends along the whole eastern coast,
and as far as the Nile latitudes. Mr. G. Lejean even reports that he has seen it carried on,
openly, under the French flag.
Upon the arrival of the Resolute, the English consul at Zanzibar came on board to offer
his services to the doctor, of whose projects the European newspapers had made him
aware for a month past. But, up to that moment, he had remained with the numerous
phalanx of the incredulous.
"I doubted," said he, holding out his hand to Dr. Ferguson, "but now I doubt no longer."
He invited the doctor, Kennedy, and the faithful Joe, of course, to his own dwelling.
Through his courtesy, the doctor was enabled to have knowledge of the various letters
that he had received from Captain Speke. The captain and his companions had suffered
dreadfully from hunger and bad weather before reaching the Ugogo country. They could
advance only with extreme difficulty, and did not expect to be able to communicate again
for a long time.
"Those are perils and privations which we shall manage to avoid," said the doctor.