Receive, Sir, the assurance of my perfect consideration. The Minister Secretary of State of the Marine and Colonies. A kind of crab found on the sea-coast; it is the Cancer cursor of Linnaeus, and the same that is found on the shores of the Antilles. The Baobab or Adansoia of botanists, is placed in the class Monadelphia polyandria, in the family of malvaceous plants, and has but one species.
Thousands, rather than hundreds, she thought, since close at hand in the middle of one of these round houses, grew a mighty baobab tree, that could not have seen less than ten or fifteen centuries since the seed whence it sprang pierced the cement floor which was still visible about its giant bole.
Later again, sixteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, in one of the apogees of the town which, in the course of its interminable duration, experienced so many fluctuations, some ostentatious kings thought fit to build on this ground, already covered with temples, that which still remains the most arresting marvel of the ruins: the hypostyle hall, dedicated to the God Amen, with its forest of columns, as monstrous as the trunk of the baobab and as high as towers, compared with which the pillars of our cathedrals are utterly insignificant.
In these clumps the tropical euphorbia sends up its long and graceful shoots, reminding one of Gargantuan candelabra, and the huge "baobab," of unwieldy bulk, seems to stand as the sentinel stretching out its bare arms to protect those who shelter beneath.
Some of the other tribes throw the dead body into the river to be devoured by crocodiles, or, sewing it up in a mat, place it on the branch of a baobab, or cast it in some lonely gloomy spot, surrounded by dense tropical vegetation, where it affords a meal to the foul hyenas; but the Batoka reverently bury their dead, and regard the spot henceforth as sacred.
The point of land which on the north side of the entrance to the harbour narrows it to about 300 yards is alone called Pemba; the other parts have different names. The whole point is coral, and the soil is red, and covered over with dense tropical vegetation, in which the baobab is conspicuous.
The path serpentined in and out of jungle, and thin forest, into open tracts of grass bleached white as stubble, into thickets of gums and thorns, which emitted an odour as rank as a stable; through clumps of wide-spreading mimosa and colonies of baobab, through a country teeming with noble game, which, though we saw them frequently, were yet as safe from our rifles as if we had been on the Indian Ocean.
Unlike the Mandingoes, they do not travel, but love their home; they are good agriculturists and clever traders, warlike and patriotic, and they leave none but their old men and women in their villages when they go to war. The town of Kankan stands in a plain surrounded by lofty mountains. The bombax, baobab, and butter-tree, also called "cé" the "shea" of Mungo Park, are plentiful.
A kind of sterculia, which is the most common tree at Loanda, and the baobab, flourish here; and the tree called moshuka, which we found near Tala Mungongo, was now yielding its fruit, which resembles small apples. The people brought it to us in large quantities: it tastes like a pear, but has a harsh rind, and four large seeds within. We found prodigious quantities of this fruit as we went along.
The euphorbia, acacia, and baobab or calabash-tree were all in bloom; and here and there, through openings between the trunks of the mangroves, glimpses were caught of rich splashes of deep orange-colour, standing out like flame against the dark background of shadowed foliage, that subsequent investigation proved to be clumps of elegant orchids.