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Rolfin's Orb
Book 11 - Diamond – Malawi
Chapter 6

Moses drove off. “It’s a bit of a drive, mostly because the roads aren’t great. There are a lot of hills too. Did you spend any time at the lake, or should I call it by its correct name, the loch.”

Fiona, Callum and Elspet snickered. “We didn’t really have time. There was a bad lightning storm last night, but we saw the Malawi Steamer this morning. Have you ever sailed on it?” Elspet sat in the back with Fiona, while Callum sat up front with Moses.

“Many a time. It’s a rickety barrel of bolts, but it gets you where you need to go,” Moses said. “That lake is full of fish. Did you know many of the aquarium fish around the world come from this lake? There’s this strange fish that lives in the water called a cichlid. They’re brightly colored. There are also plenty of edible fish too, like lake salmon and catfish. Sorry I missed the lightning display.”

          “Be glad you did. Masibuwa told us about the aquarium fish. It’s interesting, Mr. Hall.” Fiona looked out the window and noticed they were heading up a hill.

          “Most of Malawi is on a plateau. That’s why we’re going up hill. Livingstonia itself is on top of the Khondowe Plateau. You’ve a fine view of the lake from there,” Moses said. “Malawi is a very poor country. Many people die of malnutrition and lack of clean water. The worst thing is the malaria. People go to bed at night and the mosquitoes come in and bite them, especially the children. Nowadays they are providing insecticide-treated mosquito nets. That helps.”

          “I don’t mean to change the subject, but why do you live here? Why don’t you live in Scotland?” Callum always spoke his mind.

          “That’s another interesting story. I suppose we’ve nothing better to do during our drive. While I speak, watch out the window for wild animals. We’ve got aardvarks, porcupines, jackals, hyenas, antelopes, all sorts of lizards and geckos.”

          “Cool! Are there any big animals around here?” Callum eyed the fields off to the side as they drove past.

          Moses thought for a moment. “Do you mean like rhinos and all that?”

          “Yes. I’d love to see a rhinoceros,” Callum said.

          “If you’re lucky you might see the rare white rhino and a black rhino too. Most of them are further west though. Who knows. You might get lucky,” Moses said.

          “Or unlucky,” Fiona whispered to Elspet. “What if a rhino is one of our traps?”

          Moses began his story. “My father, a Scotsman from Edinburgh, came over to eastern Africa to fight in World War 2. He was stationed in Mozambique. He loved it here. While he was in His Majesty’s Service, he had the opportunity to travel all over southeastern Africa. He went to Livingstonia one day with a group of missionaries. Do you know the story of the place you’re headed to?”

          “No. Not really,” Fiona said, “but my great great uncle, Robert McAllister, on my father’s side was a missionary and knew Dr. Livingstone. He didn’t stay here for long though. My Uncle Angus is so proud of his uncle Robert. I don’t even know his name.”

          “That’s very interesting, Fiona. I’ll share a wee bit of history if you aren’t bored to death already. In 1894, the Livingstonia Mission was built by Robert Laws. He was a Scotsman, a doctor, a clergyman, educationalist, explorer and a good friend of David Livingstone. When my father, Robert Hall, finished his service with the Gordon Highlanders, he sent for his wife and two children, me and my brother Andrew. The three of us were still living in Scotland. My father sent us tickets and we sailed to Mozambique where my father met us. He brought us first to Nkhata Bay. That was some trip for a ten year old boy and his wee brother to take.”

          “Wow, Mr. Hall. That must have been scary for you to leave Scotland and move to Africa. Did you like it?” Elspet leaned forward so the man could hear her question. “Were you afraid?”

          “I’m not sure. It’s hard to remember way back then. I was excited at first, until tragedy struck.” His voice changed to sadness. “My wee brother, Andy, stepped on a rusty nail. He came down with tetanus. It was horrible. My father couldn’t find any serum. We took him to the mission in Livingstonia while we waited, but he died there. We’d only been here two weeks when that happened. My father never got over it and always felt like he was to blame.”

          “That’s sad, Mr. Hall. Your family stayed though,” Fiona said.

          “We couldn’t bear to leave Andy. He is buried near the mission. I’m glad we’re going there. I’ll put some flowers on his grave. My mum and dad are buried in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe used to be called Rhodesia and Malawi was called Nyasaland when I moved here. Things have changed over the years.”

          Callum looked out the window again. “Look! There’s a baboon!”

          Fiona and Elspet pressed their faces against the window. “It is. It’s got a baby on its back. How cute,” Elspet said.

          With the subject of Moses’ family changed, he started pointing out more animals.

          “Mr. Hall, is there a waterfall near Livingstonia?” Fiona had the picture of one flash through her mind, reminding her of her quest.

          “Why yes there is. It’s not far. They’re called Manchewe Falls.”

          “That’s the one. Great. How much longer?” Fiona began to feel agitated. She wanted to get the diamond and get home.

          Moses was about to answer when his tire blew out and the car came to a rolling stop. “Oh no! I’ve got a flat.” He got out and looked in the boot of the car. “I’ve no spare. You three stay here. I’ll walk to the closest village and get some help. You’ll be all right here by yourselves, won’t you?”

          Fiona scowled. “Why don’t you tell us where a village is and we’ll go there while you go to the other. That way we’ll kill two birds with one stone, just in case not every village has a spare tire and it takes you a long time.”

          “Good idea. All right. Listen carefully. We’re about ten kilometers from Livingstonia. If you don’t mind walking there, follow the road. Do not take any detours. Stay on this path no matter what. I wouldn’t want you to be eaten by some of those hyenas and jackals.” Moses put his straw hat on. “I know of a village a few kilometers away in that direction.” He pointed the way they’d just come. I’ll meet you in Livingstonia.”

          Fiona, Callum and Elspet grabbed their things and headed down the road. “Why is it that I don’t feel good about this at all?” Elspet stared into the trees growing along the side of the unpaved road.

          “I don’t either,” Callum said. “The hairs on the back of my neck are sticking straight up.”

          “Moses said to stay on the road and we’d be all right. We have to believe in what he says,” Fiona said. “Keep your eyes open. Hyenas and jackals are ugly, vicious creatures.”

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