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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

King Umtasa

King Umtasa.

Negotiations were at once opened and an interview arranged for the day after our arrival, an appointment that was punctually kept. It must be confessed that the appearance and presence of the hereditary and reigning monarch of the ancient kingdom of Manika were not quite all one would desire to see in a great ruler. No doubt the utmost resources of his wardrobe had been taxed and brought into requisition for this interview. About midday he appeared attired in a naval cocked hat, a tunic (evidently of Portugese origin, but of ancient date, and forming perhaps some of the "ancient remains" to which the attention of the world had been page 68 so pathetically drawn), a leopard skin slung over his back, the whole toilette being completed by a pair of trousers that had evidently passed through many hands, or rather covered many legs, before assisting to complete the court uniform of the "roitelst Mutassa," as the Portuguese termed him. He was preceded by his court jester, who danced around him, uttering strange cries and ejaculations, and singing his praises (in which Umtasa cordially joined) as "the lion or leopard who walks by night, and before whose name the Portuguese and Matabele tremble." The retinae was completed by a few girls carrying "calabashes" of Kafir been and by a crowd of indunas (or counsellors) and other loyal subjects The king was evidently anxious to satisfy himself thoroughly of the genuineness of my mission and the value and strength of the promises held out to him.