ON my return I was met by a messenger in a canoe and he handed me a letter from Sinclair. The contents were Mission boy belonging to Kangwe mission station (Presbetyrian) has been killed by the Bimvool at Lake Azingo, the other boy was allowed to proceed. The news arrived by Old Dick, our Mpongwe trader at the lake. This boy belonged to the Mpangue town about 25 miles from here which is situated on the south side of the river. As you know these people well, I would like you to go and see what can be done as they say they will declare war at once on the Bimvool if this boy is not paid for at once. The Chief of these people is the grandfather of the boy; come immediately you receive this. Before I had finished this short letter I was at our pier where I met Old Dick who told me the whole story. The boy called to rest at the village and was recognised by the Bimvool by fine raised tattoo marks on his neck. Old Dick tried his best to restrain the hostile natives but to no purpose. After firing the alarm guns to call in the heads of the villages round the lake, the poor missionary lad was carried off to a grove and was there beheaded and eaten, whilst the other boy was allowed to go free to Gaboon with the mails. As they continued their Orgies and seemed to get more recless as the night proceeded Dick had made an excuse and had voyaged as quickly as possible to our trading Post. On entering Sinclairs sanctorum I met the head of the American Presbetyrian mission station at Kangwe hill, about four miles away. He seemed very much disturbed and told me he would like to have this matter settled peaceably. The boy who had been ruthlessly murdered was a clever lad about seventeen years of age and could write and speak English well and was the Pride of the Mission and was exceedingly clever. I explained how I thought peace could be brought about at once, as Matam, my cannibal friend had told me that although they would never bother these people down the river or interfere with their coming and going to Adimango for trade purposes, yet they were deadly enemies and if they ever came up with them on Bimvool territory they would fight immediately and give no quarter. Furthermore he said that these river Mpangues still owed them two ivories or two of their men and if they failed to pay up the Bimvool would either kill two of their men or take two ivories.
To get the heads or headmen of these two tribes to come together would be the only way of securing lasting peace. This I explained to the doctor at the mission and he thought my plan was good. There was no time to be lost and it would be wise to first visit the Mpangwe town and see the old chief and afterwards the Bimvool down the river and bring them together at Adonimanango. Mr Sinclair walked down to the pier with me and I explained to him exactly what I would do to the letter. He bade me a fond adieu and told me not to be mindful of cost as the two tribes were our best customers. As I had already thought this over I told him that we must on no account let these two tribes fight out their difference as there would certainly be no trade as long as they waged war. Whilst we would not be able to trade with Azingo once they commenced fighting. The Bimvool would be sure to win but would wipe out the large town on the other side of the river, whilst other tribes, the Okalis and the River Nkomis might be easily brought into it.
As I swung clear he waved his handkerchief and shouted you have it all in your hands, I smiled for responce, the Job just suited me, I waved my handkerchief passing Her Shiffs and he sent Her Boome to tell me to wait a minute. Her Shiff knew all the news he said and was willing to help in any way. He handed me a case of home comforts and said, I know you will settle it as you have takled the job at once. I lit one of his best cigars, waved him goodbye. I made express time going down the river, as my boys were the pride of the river and had had a good rest and we arrived about midnight at the big Native Town and as I hopped ashore I was met by the Brother of the Boy who had lost his life. I was immediately conducted to the big hut of the chief who said to me Taba Se? shall we have a friendly sit down. I commenced business straight away by Praises of the Dead Boy with whom I was well acquainted and told him I had left the white men at the trading post in sorrow and had come to see him at once on receiving the news. I then ceased speaking and opened a bottle of good rum the Chief accepted a drink as likewise his councillors and relatives. After a pause he said to one of his kinsmen at the end of the circle speak brother. A native bowl containing small wooden sticks was brought in, the same one I have often used in trading ivory. The first headman spoke only a few words. If he thought rightly I had come to settle a greviance in which they had lost one of their people and to show my respect for a dead friend. In that I was right. He sat down and the chief without speaking handed me a stick. He then motioned to the next councillor who rose and recommended war at once but with the Bimvool only. He sat down. I spoke with some length, I knew these people and their language also, I was exactly in the same mind as him, if he could show me how this could be done without hurting outsiders. War I said was a manly way of settling your grievances if you could do this without interfering or destroying the trade of innocent people, and how he would manage to do this I would like him to explain. The old Chief smiled and ordered the Good Councillor to reply. He stood and recounted the wrongs done them by the Bimvool but failed to show me how he could make war without doing great injury and after all would be no nearer peace. He sat down and in a short harangue I explained how trade was increasing and what a mighty loss it would be to them to have all the white traders leave the river after they had become nicely settled and the tremendous loss to them of a years trade or more. Furthermore the Bimvool were willing to meet them half way and would take an everlasting peace, a thing they had never enjoyed. I sat down. The Old Chief smiled broadly and called on the next councillor who failed to rise. Then he called on the next and the next, nobody rose to reply. He then rose and said, You have listened to good council and the white man has spoken well. He then lifted up the bowl of sticks and poured them out at my feet saying You are right (Ow Embami). He then ordered his chiefs to counsil the people and bring in the reply telling them only what had been said in council and to bring in their wishes to him so that he could settle the matter which he had left entirely to his people for good or for Bad. They all immediately retired leaving only me and their king in the lodge. We both took a drink and he shared supper with me which was brought in on a tray which he greatly admired. This I gave him immediately and he was greatly pleased. Supper over his son entered and never spoke but took two spears, one was painted red and the other was a well-made Mpangue spear. They will soon settle all he said, I asked him the meaning of the spears, the red one was war the other peace with honour. The men all passed by the spears and placed a stick or counter by them. If the red one won then it would be war, if the other they would do the best to settle things as I had promised to help them.
I thanked the old chief for his explanation and after about one hours wait in came his son with the spears and sticks. They had taken two votes and each time the spear of peace had won. I gave the chief a few presents and made ready to leave as I had to see the other side again, That is the Bimvool, before the meeting which was to take place next day. He understood the situation quite well and after having taken a tot of liquor he called for his eldest son. I retired to my canoe and left them in council and had an hours sleep. All the boys were snoozing as they were tired.
It was nearly daybreak when a young warrior came to me and told me the chief wanted to see me. He then introduced me to a few of his men who were ready to accompany. These men he said were to meet the Bimvool and whatever they did would be sanctioned by all his people and himself also. We exchanged a few presents and I departed with five councillors on board and through the strenuous efforts of the canoe boys I reached home before midday and after having introduced the deputation to Mr Sinclair immediately proceeded to the Bimvool village and came back with a load of councillors the head of whom was my friend Matam. To this man who was my Blood brother I spoke freely and he agreed with me that peace could easily be arranged, and he told me that he would do his best to get the business settled as soon as possible. I left them together as I knew Matam and his people perfectly. They were a proud and war-like race and wanted submission only (Top Dog). The son of the Chief, father of the dead boy rose first and made a speech of about fifteen minutes duration and then Matam rose his delivery was perfect and he spoke for fully half an hour. In his discourse he dilated urgingly on the Premier rights of the white man. It was not fair to put them to trouble and the Bimvool would receive nothing in settlement of the troubles of the Mpangues; he left this to their own manhood and as he had had many a battle with them he knew they were too proud a race to allow such a thing. They could well afford to pay one ivory and they (his father the chief) would supply the other. That he said was the utmost limit they were prepared to go and he knew they would agree to this. Think and reply as soon as you are able, but let us not keep the white men waiting especially as they have gone to much trouble for the sake of peace and trade (Okita). I will now retire with my people and await your reply. He withdrew to the Pier and I followed them as I had been sitting smoking under a tree a little distance from them. What was said by the speakers I did not know nor did the party I was with utter a word. In less than ten minutes Matam was called and in a few minutes he beconed me to join him. It is settled he said and send me now a piece of sugar cane, I could find none but told him the white man's bread would do (as a pledge of brotherhood) and I handed him a piece of bread. The blood-brother ceremony was quickly over. This was between Matam and the chiefs son whilst both parties formed a circle. All was over and I went in and reported to Sinclair, who said he had been watching operations and had had the speech reported to him as the council proceeded. My friend Matam he said was an orator of the first water and a man whose acquaintance it would pay us to cultivate. A peace dance followed this meeting of these two warlike tribes and they kept their mood as long as I remained amongst them. This meeting put aside all contentions on the overland route to Gaboon and everyone who wanted to travel to and fro could do so without any protection. Word was sent to the Mission Doctor and his wife at Kangwe and they came down and made friends with these savages. And thus ended the tribal wars and murders which were frequent before this and trade went along steadily and unhampered and as Her Schiff said was a Boon to all.
"Aye, Sinclair. That feller was always more than agreeable to see me off on any little expedition'd save his skin a bit longer for the Orkneys. Or make a bit for the firm that'd sound well in a letter. Agreeable as such outings were to a lad like myself I couldn't but see that it gave Sinclair a comfortable sensation in the pit of the stomach. 'Twas that photo. It turned him to cowardice and his veins to milk.
"Grand opportunities there were in those days for a bit of natural diplomacy. 'Twas a man's life. I often wonder what all the old traders felt like when they saw a so-called bonne entente between France and Britain. Giving the Ivory Coast away to France for some dirty little rights in Newfoundland. Canning stinking fish in exchange for ivory and elephants. That's what bonne entente means. Swapping life, swapping my rivers, for the pleasure of extracting the guts of a cod in a filthy factory on a freezing coast. That's the sort of thing'd make a Frenchman laugh. Aye, he'd snigger a bit at that.
"Come to that, what would the missionaries either say to a bad bargain like that? Livingstone? He was no different at heart from us traders. 'Get on!' was the cry always in his ears. 'Let us march,' was of tener on his lips than 'Let us pray,' if the truth of all hearts were known. Dragging that poor girl, Mary Moffat, along until she was forced to a long rest in her grave. A fine feller but he should 'a' been a trader out and out. He should 'a' kept his wife in Scotland same as Sinclair did. He'd 'a' been better for Hatton and Cookson's than that strict Presbyterian Sinclair. Livingstone was never one to get the sentiments over a photo.
"[When his wife died he faced the fact that he needed a woman and married a black one. One o' these morganatic marriages same as Rhodes made with one of Lobengula's daughters.]
"Aye, he'd 'a' made a fine trader. The custom of the country was an easy alphabet to such as him. He was ahead of most missionaries in common sensibility.
"That bonne entente did not take much account of us traders who'd pushed their country's interests ahead. Haven't I worked for the honour of my country same as the missionaries? The Good Book'd not go far without the Day Book. What I've always said is, one's dependent on the other. Haven't I explored unknown country same as de Brazza? A thorough gentleman, de Brazza, though. Silent as a duke. Working for French interests but more for the taste of adventure it gave him. France has no adventurers, unless she can coax some foreigner to risk himself for the country. Same as they do in the Legion of Honour. If it's courage you're looking for?if it's honour you're looking for, you'll be more likely to spot it in the Legion than in any other regiment.
"Some o' those American missionaries from Cincinnati were above par. Good fellers, brave as lions. Same as that sweet lady at heart. But looked at from all angles I've always arrived at the notion that Nature's a great big unknown god we've got to make terms with without the humiliation of prayer. This constant nudging of the Almighty is a mistake. Homo sapiens with a spear or a gun'll go as far, and with less trouble to the great Onlooker.
"Not but what I always felt like saying me prayers when I first got there. One doesn't easy drop a natural habit, especially when you're away from your home and it's the one familiar sound. And Renchoro, my boy'd watch me and kneel down and murmur before he went to sleep. No harm in that. I'd always been used to see other lads at it in the dormitory.
"That bad boy, Horn . . . Farest in the wilds of any of em. Explorer with any of 'em . . .
"I'll be going Ma'am. I must twist a bit of wire up before I go out to-morrow."
MISSING CHAPTER 15
ON arriving at the Mpondis of the Okelleys I could soon see that great Havock had occurred on account of marauding elephants and gorillas besides other animals. One rascal paid them nocturnal visits and was supposed to be the most dangerous of all the animal visitors. The native hunters then told me that the next unwelcome customer was a very large old gorilla who was likewise greatly to be feared as he had already charged a party of men who had followed him to his home about two hours distant and had been heard giving voice and truming*(*Drumming) at dawn, so that he was somewhere in the vicinity of a grove at the foot of a small rocky rise on the opposite side of the creek which ran through the grove. They thought there would be a good chance of getting him that morning and we wound our way along the creek to the place mentioned.
I was told to take a stand beside an old fallen tree as he generally passed that spot if disturbed. If he came their way they would surely have him for the damage he had done to their plantations. I took the stand with my faithful head boy and from where we were we could see the OKelly four in number lying prone in the bush at the edge of the clearing. We waited for some time but could see or hear no sound indicating his whereabouts. I was just about to give up the gorilla chase and try my luck at spooring the rascal elephant when there was a sound of a rolling stone reached us from over the creek and once in a while we could get a glimpse of his head and shoulders, as he showed up above the round large boulders. Presently he rolled over one of these large stones and he was busily engaged breakfasting on the large insects which were under the rocks. Having satisfied himself with this kind of titbit he peered around and thinking the coast was clear he walked cautiously towards an old peanut clearing and as he came up within about 20 yards of where the native hunters were concealed he seemed to suddenly hear something out of the way. The Okellies now fired on him but instead of scampering away as he was only slightly wounded he made a bound on them using his arms. One man and gun he sent fully ten feet high in the air and played havock with the others, scattering them with a snap of his arms while one of them gaining his feet was knocked sideways again. He used his knuckles and long arms (I never saw him bite) so quickly that one could scarcely see which was gorilla and which was man in the mix up as he played skittles with them, he seemed to knock them before him. Contrary to what I had expected he never used his teeth although their bite is terrible and said by the natives also to be poisonous and I never have seen a man brave enough to stand and let him seize a gun before firing as I heard the hunters say was done by the Evilis of the Anguni. He then came Bounding towards us and seemed to have sighted us. I fired low under the chin and Renchoro followed suit. He rolled over and over stretching and lay dead at the other side of the old fallen tree. He was very large and although I have hunted them for years he was by far the biggest I ever saw alive.
I now hastened to where the hunters lay stretched out. The first fellow we met was laid 20 yards from the others, and as we tried to rear him up so as to give him a brandy from my hunting flask he came to, but must have been dazed as he broke away and began to run on all fours in fright; we shouted to him to stop and he took his tot like a good man and when he had completely recovered from his shock his memory returned. We examined him but only discovered a bruise on his right thigh and be also had a few corners knocked off him which must have been done when he was knocked amongst the small bushes. I commenced to pour Brandy on these wounds but he resented this waste and laughingly said it would do him more good to drink it as it was fine medecine, so I gave him another wet. The next man was badly wounded by a hit upwards along the ribs and had also a long wound from above his kneecap, and he was bleeding profusely and was unconscious.
I sent the one who had now recovered back for help and he returned with a dozen men and women and likewise the chief native doctor and old Iwalo also made his appearance with his medecine bag and two bottles of rum. They washed the wound and during the medical operation the badly wounded one opened his eyes and was soon able to take a drink of brandy; the other two had already recovered and could stand errect and although they were wounded and bruised badly their native doctor laughingly declared them to be all right. We sat down in a ring while Renchoro explained the whole to do amidst great laughter and he gave a great description and mimicked the Anticks of both gorilla and men as the men went spinning one way and their guns the other and when he saw the first one spring above the ground he felt like running himself. We now looked at the dead gorilla who the chief said had grown so big and wide on the food he stole from his plantations, that he was the largest he had ever seen.
I returned to the village with the chief who promised to have the animal brought in at once and buried over a large antheap so that I could call for his remains on my return from the upriver country. At the village I enjoyed a hearty meal and sat and talked away the time with the old Oga (native for chief). The gorilla arrived but unfortunately was disembowelled and cut in two halves but as this was done it was useless to say anything. They had done this as he was too heavy to carry otherwise. He was duly buried and was a grand specimen and fetched a good price in England in spite of the fact that his spine had been badly hacked by an axe and several bones broken.
Late in the afternoon we received news of the rogue elephant who was heading towards us as he had been frightened by a band of Osheba hunters who had crossed over from the north bank of the ogowe at a point about twelve miles north. He had been seen entering a grove about 5 miles away where they said he would spend the night and could easily be followed from there by his large tracks as he was very heavy. The evening was spent in spinning yarns about the Oshebas who the old chief assured me were not like the Mpangues and only eat men of their own tribe who are conquered in war and he assured me they had killed and eaten many of the tribe. There are groves and places where these man eaters generally eat their poor victims and as I afterwards saw many of these and the crosses to which they tied their victims I was forced to believe his statement, although I never saw this gruesome sight myself. However I saw a Mpangue being tried for murdering his father-in-law whom he had eaten and was found guilty and punished with death.
I was awakened before daylight and had trackers following the rascal elephant which we found in the edge of a grove of illundas (trees bearing nuts). As still hunting is the only methid of hunting elephants attended by much success we separated into three parties and advanced cautiously in file following in the wake of the trackers. A couple of rifle shots by the party to the left of me rang out followed by a heavy rustle of underbrush, we had all lain low and as he came along at express speed he charged past us at close range but gave us no chance of shooting as the underbrush was high and we only had passing glimpses of his huge body. After he had passed us on came the trackers following the blood spoor which was heavy. We followed him although we had great difficulty in seeing him as we still kept file for speeds sake. Presently he circled, having sighted a crowd of men and women who were following us with their baskets ready for elephant meat as he was considered a sure capture. On his return he rattled through the bush to the right of us still going strong but we had lost the tracker, who eventually appeared, telling us that the elephant was badly wounded as his strides were shortening and he would no doubt make for the river crossing. We followed on as quickly and this time kept the tracker well in sight as he ran doubled up. He was an experienced tracker and hunter and could pick up the spoor like a hound.
As the underbrush became more open we could travel faster but my luck was out as I knocked down a small wood-hornets nest which was hanging from the branch of a tree. I was knocked clean out of the hunt as I was badly stung over the face neck and back and was forced to fight a battle royal with my hat. I was not alone in the battle and as I ran and hit them off I could see two of my boys fighting boldly as these flying pests took Vengeance on their naked bodies. The rest of the hunters vanished laughing. The pain of these pests of the forest was intence. We left the hunt and made for a small stream and after plastering up our stings with soft blue clay and mud we sat down and drank copiously from my flask, waiting for our pains to pass.
"I've remembered the name of the feller that had the tobacco plant growing out of his forehead. Better than the Turkish plant, this tobacco. It was Talaqui. Came to me when I was waking up on Thursday morning. If only we could learn to make regular use of the powers of the memory when asleep, history wouldn't have so much nonsense about it. Old Dr. Lingard was a fine historian. Lived at Hornby in Lancashire, where my cousin lived in the same house after him. Documents and that and some notable old pictures. That old chest of yours reminds me of that house. A good bit of Anglo-Saxon design on that chest. You'll not beat it. The Norman never lived that could twist a pattern as good as that.
. . . From a Yorkshire farmhouse, you say, and sixty years ago. Most likely raided from a church in the olden days. I was a lad then with all me bright journeys just before me.
"Talk of history, those cannibal tribes were just as particular as we are. Oshebas, Fans and all the rest of it, their genealogies are as honourably cared for as a duke's. Aye, and there'll be less blots on the scutcheon. Not so much of these Stuarts and Charles the Seconds. Come to that, the Georges were not so different, only a bit quieter. . . . Always the strictest rules against immorality with other tribes. Oganga?that was the feller's name! He was troubadour to the Mpangues. There was a place where the stories were told and the children taken regularly to hear him sing the great doings of the tribe. Sing 'em to the harp. The Palace of History it was called?N'koko Incoge.
"Aye, a man that knows his family record'Il always get on better with savages than he does with the sort of riff-raff you knock up with here in the Golden City. Homo stultus in big houses or the same make of man getting drunk in the?saloon. . . . Fellers like George T??? and Carlisle. They see a certain look in a man's eye that tells them, here is my brother, black though he may be. A gentleman always makes the best trader for that reason. Rubber and ivory, George T??? must have done well over that. Mangrove bark for tannin' he was interested in too. Pity for a feller like that to die out in the male line. One of Nina's brothers died. I told you that. And the other one, Joseph T??? was taken by Kariella, an Arab pirate, when George died. Very good to him, it was believed. All down the west coast was his beat from Morocco downward. Yussuf Kariella. 'Twas better for the boy than being with his mother. 'Twas Kariella's sort that did for poor Tom Keating. Always a good living to be made down the Coast. I used to know the coast of Morocco quite well, one time. After my wife died I was over there.
"How d'you like my bits about gorillas? The Americans'll fancy that for the children. If you can write a book that knocks young and old, gives 'em a good laff and no harm to the susceptibilities?that's what goes in America. A moral people except when it comes to murder and so on. They kill very easy in some o' those places. I've been. When I was in the Diamond Detective Agency I was looking for a feller amongst the moonshiners along the Blaau(?) River. The families take it in turn there to shoot. God's Acre was full of 'em. Rival families had to lie divided by the path. 'Twas like the Mpangues and Oshebas over again. Human nature's hard to kill wherever you find it.
"Aye. A gorilla's what a lad'Il never stop watching. They say on the Ivory Coast that there's three things never stop growing. A croc., a gorilla and an elephant. Add to that the fact that the gorilla isn't normal in the head. His brain is different from the brain of a man?and I've seen a few. I sent the biggest gorilla head in the world to Gerrard, Camden Town. The natives used to set store by gorilla brains for muti. No doubt they've destroyed many a valuable skeleton for that. Same power as human's it has.
"I could do very nicely with butterflies too. Sent 'em over for quite a long time to Horniman. One of the tea nabobs. He was like a boy with the butterflies in spite of the business. He gave me 12 [pounds] for every one I caught of a certain species. And once I got 14 [pounds] for a very big one. He lived at Dulwich when I knew him. Quaker family I believe.
"The Quakers, Ma'am, I've always held to be above par, whether in trade or in religion or in ordinary life. Young feller I knew in Madagascar was a Quaker, from Philadelphia. One of their ministers?if so he may be called that has a silent religion. Nice feller that, with goodness writ in capitals all over his face. 'Tis a look one doesn't forget, in the ultimate end, whether on a Quaker gentleman or on that poor lady I took down the river for safe burial. 'Isn't God here?' she says 'just the same as in America?' Looking at her face you couldn't deny it. Giving the children sweets, when we walked through the village. 'Why, what's the matter, Mr Horn?' That woman, Ma'am, almost made me believe we'd reached this so-called millennium. Those great idols she kept stopping to stare at?as if they were in a museum. Her courage was bigger than Stanley's. And she died without a boastful word.
"When I heard of it I said 'There goes one more victim to add to their great Josh House called Christianity.' "
WE were told that the elephant had been killed after a good chase and that the Oshebas who had been seen away to the east had been watching the hunt from ambush. We hurried up following our guide and found all of our strength and ten or twelve of our OKelly friends all carrying guns in extended order in the rocky ground to protect the men who were cutting up the carcase and chopping out the ivories. Iwolo pointed the (Osheba) cannibals out and I put the glasses on a small hill covered with bush. They were moving round excitedly and were no doubt preparing to attack us. We took up a position about 200 yards south of where the dead animal lay and were about full strength and therefore well prepared for any emergency.
The tusks were now free whilst about ten large baskets where filled with elephant meat ready to carry off to the village. The women now excitedly shouldered their loads as well as the tusks which were a fine pair, when the Oshebas in an extended line began to advance on us. Old Iwollo now ordered the ivories and meat to be brought into the bush at the foot of the hill where we were posted. Iwolo ordered no firing until the Oshebas came nearer. He handed me the field glasses. They were coming in extended order like skilled fighters taking short runs in turns so as to avoid fatigue. They were now less than 80 yards away, were painted up and armed with guns cross bows and spears. They made a fine show as they came forward. The Okellys amongst the rocks began to fire whilst the enemy came on firing but still kept formation when Iwolo gave the order to open on them.
The effect of our rifie fire was instantaneous, I saw several fall through the glasses, but they now took a prone position and crawled near the Okellys, they were brave men and I asked Iwolo who was an old fighter if he could not call the Okelleys off. But the old man only laughed, saying their meat and their fight, and ordered the rifles to cease fire. Too many good cartridges wasted on the Oshebas he said. As he spoke a band of young Okelley warriors appeared and advanced to the native firing line and the battle commenced now in earnest.
The Okellys are splendid fighters and after a short space of time the Oshebas cleared away with the Okellys following them up for some distance, but they were loath to leave the rocky ground and soon the Oshebas were well away, brandishing their spears in defiance. The Okellys plundered the dead and left the wounded naked but did not kill them as they said it was foolish to kill out as fair fighting was looked upon by the Oshebas as sport or fun, but on the other hand they knew their wounded and would revenge them, but would be satisfied with their good beating and would most likely for a good time hunt further afield. We now left the hill and as the Okellys were busily engaged cutting up meat and carrying their wounded to town, these numbering five and one lay dead in the stone pile. Coming to the Osheba dead and wounded we counted seven killed and twice as many wounded. The wounded men conversed freely and to those who wanted it I gave a good tot of good Red Heart Rum which I found better than brandy on such occasions. One tall cannibal who was not able to walk, but was badly hit down in the stomach, smilingly said, Ma Ke Wa Kirria, I shall die to-morrow. Two or three of them walked towards their camp.
The Okellys found very little plunder, a few knives spears and a cross bow or two. The Oshebas had carried away all guns and ammunition belonging to their dead and wounded. It was getting late in the evening when we retired and the Okellys left with two large baskets of elephant meat and likewise two bottles of rum given them from my small stock. As we left the enemy had already returned and they soon had fires going and seemed to be quite as lively and happy as ever. These Oshebas took their hardships and mishaps quite as a matter of course and were surely quite the most happy race I ever came in contact with under any circumstances.
On entering the Okelly town the Chief and his headmen who were all old, came to congratulate us and thank us for the assistance we had given them in drawing away their enemies. The night was spent in music and story telling by Iwolo, and the town hall, a long grass roof supported by hardwood posts was well filled whilst the women brought in plantin leaves full of cooked elephant meat and such berries and bonbons as the country afforded. We had a pleasant time amongst these children of wildest Africa and left next morning on our up river expedition straight into the heart of wildest Africa.
The river now commenced to narrow and whilst the south bank was made up of stiff cliffs and hills, the north bank was inhabited by small tribes of Mpangues and the flats or what the natives called itovis were mostly inhabited by wandering Oshebas. The bush paths led to the bigger roads which ran through the wild country and joined the big Ivory track which wound away through the elephant country, at times the distant mountains showed up in low sierras extending away in the Blue to where no man knew. The river and its banks were full of waterfowl whilst the animals aroused by early morning song from Iwollo would frighten them away from the banks into the bush. The animals could be seen peacefully grazing on the hill tops and as there were no inhabitants this peaceful country was hunted by the wild Oshebas who generally crossed the river on rafts, and we passed many of these. After a few days the rapids became more frequent, whilst every day the sleeping snakes, aroused by the singing, would drop into the big canoe, but never during my many many voyages had we a snakebite but they made a quick getaway into the river. Some of these were very venomous and often a large boa would fall and make for the water. These large snakes were very long and were splendid swimmers. Early morning was invariably attended by all kinds of animal and bird sounds.
We now entered wild and very picturesque country wilst we passed many islands and after again passing small Mpangue towns we came on the most beautiful portion of the Ogowe River which here widened. Numerous islands are inhabited by the Okowas, a superior race of negros and the best canoe men in rappid waters one could wish for. The villages nestled amongst the trees, whilst the large native huts composing them were well built and clean. Their Plantations were well kept and were crowded with quite a variety of vegetable food stuffs. They were also great fishermen and hunters. But were always at war with the Oshebas and often killed them at sight. They gave me quite a history of these people, who they said were never to be trusted, whilst with one or two of the Mpangue villages they were friendly. They told me of the paths which led to the great ivory track and also of a large Mpangue town called Mogubakang, from which district the ivory came, but as it was a two weeks journey and the roads were full of Oshebas who demanded toll or even plundered those who refused it was useless for me to try to get there or think of sending traders out on the main road. The ivories nearly all come to the Ogowe from the different towns and was sent down to the Mpangues for sale, whilst the hunters waited their return. They would like a trader posted amongst them who would buy their rubber, but would on no account allow an Osheba to set foot on their Islands.
I took two days rest here, I had the pleasure of finding the nearest point of this greatest of Ivory tracks which runs, so the Oshebas say, to the lands from which they all come, which I think must be somewhere towards Equatorial Africa and yet further towards the lakes, as the old natives have it in their fables that they were once living at the base of a chain of mountains which suddenly began to eject fire and ashes and deadly smoke and by the Order of their grand chief were commanded to separate and flee at once, and pointing to the four great winds, N, S, E, and West he bade them adieu telling them never to return but conquer all they met. And he gave to them each a tobacco plant grown from the one which grew from his head when he was a boy.
Every Mpangue is supposed to quote his ancestry before he is allowed to marry and the names of forebears are so many I had generally to beg them to keep quiet so they were surely descended from a race who must have lived before the Egyptians. As I smoked Mpangue tobacco for many years and I found it far preferable to any other, I have often wondered whether it was not indogenous to the soil like wild coffee, suggar and many other plants. And then the question would grow in my mind was Sir Walter Raleigh the first introducer of the weed into Europe. He may have been. But as to the rest of the world I have my doubts.
I left the Akota country and the next tribe to them on the south bank of the river are the Okandas. The Okanda country is full of itovis or plains on which roam great herds of wild cattle or Nyari, whilst there are a few small buffalo but their horn or corona after leaving the temple plate are straight up and make them greatly feared by lone hunters as they will often charge at sight and can walse round like a buck.
The Elim river turns south from the Ogowe and this was the one followed by Count de Brazza who followed this river and then crossed over the Elima desert where he was attacked by the inhabitants, who live mostly on ant rice, i. e. the ant eggs to be found in the small mounds or antheaps, which are numerous. As he was supplied with a small French machine gun and had some French and Senegalese soldiers armed with the Fusi Grass, he had no difficulty in driving them off. As he stayed with us at Adimango making ready for the expedition we became very friendly.
"I've got a bit of fighting this time. In a book that's got truth at the bottom it can scarcely be avoided. But it doesn't do, Ma'am, to run too much bloodshed through a book. We must suppress some of that. Aye, too much of it becomes meaningless. Unliterary. When you've seen what I've seen as a lad you'll not be wanting to write it out with all the commas complete. Same as the lads as was in it won't talk about the War. I've no wish to emphasize what the eye and the brain will never forget. Leave that to the little fellers turning over the mythology of foreign spots they've never been to. Writing out their bloody scenes all within the sound of Bow Bells. Aye, 'tis man's natural instinct. If you don't see bloodshed you've got to dream about it.
"Winding up past those itovas, Ma'am. I could write a book on the animals I saw there, happy as Nature planned for them to be. Never being shot for anything but the food necessary to natives.
"When I'm near to sleep or on the edge of waking up I see those creatures again, bright and moving as when we passed them. Africa, Ma'am, as Nature moulded it. And believe me, when Man has destroyed Nature then it's his turn to go. Sure. The barren world will swallow him up. 'Tis a lucky thing the cannibal tribes have kept the elephants safe so long from these so-called big game hunters. An equatorial gang of cut-throats, wasting wild life to make what they call a bag. While the cannibals are there, there'll be no lack of elephants. They never kill wanton. Only to eat. They'd never be so childish as these dukes and colonels who have to count the head they kill same as we counted our marbles in Lancashire. The cannibal lives as Nature taught him?kill only to eat, keep your women moral, hold no man as slave, be content with your side o' the river, and cast no eyes across the water.
"'Tis when a tribe keeps slaves and marries 'em that it begins to go down. The cannibals know that clean morals make a strong fighting race. 'Tis no different with white men. Rome never went down till she was pulled down by slaves and fancy women. Marble baths and so on, 'stead of a good fetch in the river at dawn.
"Aye, I see them swinging along. Or having a quiet siesta, where nothing could startle 'em but a mouse on the trunk. As frightened of a mouse as any lady he is. I've seen a little fright like that amongst sleeping elephants startle a whole herd into disorder. Trumpeting and plunging. An elephant is wonderfully choicey how he disposes his trunk in sleep. Like to have it curled up on something for safety from small things. His trunk's his living and he's got to be as careful as a fiddler of his fingers. Aye, he has the brain of a fair man in his intellectual make-up.
"Often I have a good laff to myself when I see de Brazza's donkeys chasing a whole village before 'em. The white man's deer they used to call 'em. Yaw! Yaw! It sure was a comical apparition. He'd just landed 'em?a great meeting of jacks and jennies that he'd brought in two boat loads. Yaw! Yaw! they said and kicked up their heels like the best two year olds. Drove the whole village before them, faster and faster. Aye, those donkeys made more of a conquest than penetration by battle. They put flight into fellers a bevy of elephants couldn't have scared. 'Twas the voice that did it. Yaw! Yaw!
Some one said they were lions and that made everyone run the faster. They knew nothing about lions in those parts beyond what slaves from afar had told 'em. Those donkeys, being no more than human, gallopped for pleasure at finding old earth under their hoofs again. Seasoned fighters fled whimpering before 'em. Aye, it sure was the Donkeys' Hour.
"Showers of hawks after a bit of a set-to like that I had with the Oshebas. The sacred hawks of the Mpangues. They picked the bones of the wounded. So choicey, they'll not wait for death. One poor feller came to and found a hawk had plucked his eye out. He jumped up and walked about holding his eye that was empty, and when he fell again I shot him out of his misery.
"Pity sure makes a man callous at such times. The witch doctors are clever but there's some things 're better not healed?no, not even by these so-called Harley Street experts?and 'tis then powder and shot are the best physician. Those witch doctors . . . I'm a humanitarian, and I like to give my knowledge to the world. There's things there that ought to be known. That Calabar bean that cures hydrophobia. Cures snake-bite, too, they say, and other forms of blood-poisoning. They cauterise very cleverly too, in cases of snake-bite. Fill a pipe up full of tobacco, get it red hot with hard blowing and clap it upside down on the wound and suck without stopping. Seems to draw the poison and cauterise at the same time. Then there's that chicken cure?if there's one handy. You pluck a bare patch on the chicken's breast and scratch a slight wound in the flesh. Apply this to the snake-bite pressing hard. The chicken'll soon die of the poison and then you take another. That may likely die too. But the third'Il not die. It'll be somewhat wilted but should recover. And the patient'll be all right.
"Aye, Nature sure has spread some of the ingenuity of man over the wilder races. 'Tis not all reserved for Piccadilly."
MISSING CHAPTER 18
MBALWAMI, my unkle Apaque as he was called was about the most intelligent savage I ever came in touch with, and as I was a lad who, ladlike always needed someone to really love him I found Apaque to be really it. He was a king in his own right and that he really was fond of me and would have given his life for me at any time goes without saying, and being of a romantic nature I would have done the same for him. Nobody in the world ever feels this kind of love only two men surrounded continually by danger night and day really can understand what it means when you meet. You are absolutely free from all worldly care for a time and feel doubly secure in your mutual strength.
Apaques delight was to watch me muster my little army of 29 rifles, these men I had togged up in old 17th lancer jackets and caps. We had a great sale on the west coast for old army clothes which came packed in large puncheons and barrels which were returned to England loaded with rubber. Of course, I picked out the best and as I was well up in drill which I learnt at college I took a great pride in making my little army efficient. Clean weapons I insisted on. The old Chief would continually shout Va bwe! well done as I would give the orders in English form fours! Sections right sections left shoulder arms extend file marching etc. Apaque would be in his glory and would even have his spearmen line up and would try to imitate the sounds of the English words of command. I gave him a fine military overcoat and sword and these he would don and give the most comical orders which really meant nothing till he had his fun out and then would shout dismiss, which was always well understood. I found these parades were a good advertising medium for sale of these soldiers coats. The natives especially the Camma boys were very fond of these parades after which each boy would fold up his coat and return it to the locker where they always remained clean.
After leaving Apaques town the river widens and the rise of the water on the sandbanks gradually grew less. As evening drew near we had a good view of the natives who were fighting continually from the sandbanks but they always suspended operations as we passed and both the Okellys and the Mpangues cheered us as we passed down stream.
We arrived all well at Adimango early one morning and felt at home once more. The overland mail had just arrived so that I had the great pleasure of reading home news and the doings of my friend little Peru. We were all busy reading when the news came that one of the missionary boys had been captured and was even now on his way to execution as he had been preaching against the Isoga of a near-by village. The doctor in charge of the American mission heard of this happening just in time to save the poor boy. Gathering his lads together the brave doctor rowed to the village where the boy had been imprisoned. He made one dash for the skull-house and revolver in hand he rescued the victim. The natives were so much taken aback by surprise that an old white man dare enter their temple that they did nothing but looked surprised. This gave the doctor time to pull his boat in midstream whilst the natives fired on him from the banks as he pulled away to the Mission Station but he got away without any damage. This was a plucky deed and the Old Dr of that Presbetyrian Mission station was always considered a hero after this deed. He had saved the boy from a terrible death and had risked his life for his mission boy.
Count de Brazza the Explorer would be with us in the spring and likewise several other visitors. The river had not risen enough to allow a steamboat to make the trip and as the river was still low no business was done. I made ready however for my trip to the sea and the lakes and after discussing all matters concerning business to be done on the first rise of the river which might come at any time and so it did. Quite unexpectedly the rain had fallen in both rivers and a steady rise took place. The sandbanks disappeared as if by Magic. And all was hurry and scurry. I left for the sea that evening there to meet the first steamboat from Gaboon which I was to pilot up river as far as our trading station at Adoningo.
The S. S. Pioneer was the first boat due to arrive at Angola and this I was to pilot up to Adoningo and then to Samba Falls on the Anjuni River. Quite a long trip and I was anxious to have the chance to prove my maps and charts all correct. I must say that our future prosperity in the Rivers all depended on those charts etc being correct, and Sinclair also was as anxious as I was to prove them. So by mutual consent I pulled down stream, quite confident that all would be well. I had a great send off from both Her Schiff and Sinclair, and although my left hand was still in a bad shape it was curing up nicely. My first stop was at my old friends Efanginangos where I had killed the Rogue Elephant. And he made us all feel quite at home, and leaving the old man I pulled out for Lake Azingo which I reached in nice time and found all well. And after attending to what business was necessary and despatching the overland mail I made for Ninas town. Here of course I had business of importance. The witch doctors and Nina came to the beach to meet and greet us. And of course I made myself as congenial as I could. The old Chief Doctor had quite a lot to tell me of things that had taken place and as we chatted I invited him and his companions to help themselves and this they did in great style soon being quite happy. Of course I told them to get ready for me at the Josh House as I wanted to make a big wish and was ready to pay for any favours I received from their ceremony and they were all more than pleased. It was not long before they announced themselves all ready. Now was an important time for me, as I intended to come away with the ruby at all hassards. I had the position of the masked fakirs at a glance. The goddess looked charming she looked better than I had ever seen her before. I called the headman and had him lay down the presents I had brought for Nina, himself and the other attendants, and then palmed the ruby bending low and making it appear that I was receiving a little pain from my wounded left hand which I carried high enough to hide the actions of my busy right. The ruse acted splendidly, I had the ruby in my right pocket whilst I held the imitation in my hand it all looked quite natural. The wand now moved down and my wish was granted amidst the weard sounds that came from the spirits which the head man said were all pleased. And so was I.
The presents were removed and I walked away as usual to the music of the Ngombi. I felt relieved when I reached the village and was soon joined by the fakers from the Josh House. We all enjoyed ourselves and the head man and his folk chatted merrily. Nina now joined us and I gave her the dresses, shoes, etc that had been sent her by little Peru. This greatly pleased her and I chatted to her in both Mpangue and English and we were soon the best of friends all round. The old man was especially thankful and so were all the assistants. I left them after making them a few more presents and they all agreed I was the best church member they had and they would do all they could to ward off any evil spirits which might try and harm me. I promised to call again as I would be often passing and this I did.
I do not think they ever noticed the change I had made in the rubies, if they did they never showed it at any time and were always glad to see me when I called on them. I was always careful to hide the ruby in the locker till I had managed to ship it to little Peru. It arrived all safe and was worth more than I ever imagined. It was sent to tiffanys in New York for valuation and was also valued at Hatton Garden in London. The American valuation was by far the highest. The trip to the sea was made without any trouble and as the water was continually rising I was quite sure of being able to run the steamer as far as Samba Falls anyway. All my triangulations and workings proved up to the mark and even eclipsed our expectations.
The first boat to show by smoke stack was the paddle steamer Pioneer a large river boat which could navigate in eight feet of water. As she crossed the bar and came in sight of T???'s grave I boarded her. The skipper was a new one and was a nervous man and as he insisted on throwing the lead I told him I was in charge being the Companies Pylot, and if he insisted on being bull headed I would put him in his cabin and take all responsobalities on myself for my actions. At this he stood agast and wanted to parley, I felt insulted and offered him his choice, either the boat was in my full charge or in his, if he wanted to take the boat up himself he could do so. At this he cowed and told me I looked so young he hated to give in as we had a valuable cargo. I only laughed at him and showed my papers. Pilot in full charge. So the old paddles smashed away, she was a splendid boat, I took him in record time to Angola.
He now got quite chummy and as I was always at home with the native chiefs and in fact everybody else he commenced to get confidential, told me of his old woman at home and showed me his daughters photo. Like all Liverpoolers he became very communicative and before long grew quite chummy, especially on going ashore at various landings. I made it a strict practice of showing a military front which he soon found was quite necessary in a land of Piracy, slavery and Murder. As the old salt looked at me with my bandaged hand and many of my boys still patched he began to think that this was surely a land where for a lad romance runs amuck.
I had always placed the wild Ogowe River second to none where human life was at steak and I soon had the old Captain thinking as I did. At Angola I took on a few tons of farinia food for boys and a supply of fine wood, and after a two hours stay the old Pioneer was thudding up stream (and alls well) and we battled up to Isoga town where I recommended a short stay and of course made another wish.
Here I found that the river was falling fast on account of the absence of rains in the interior and this I explained to the Captain, we were in a land of chance, Chief Isogu on one side and Rengogu on the other both notorious river pirates and this I told him was a place where we could not afford to stick for long with a valuable cargo. If they saw us well stuck they would attack us in a minute. And then he said? And then I answered, if they lick us we won't want any advice from anybody we'll all be dead if we lose out. Lose what he said. The fight through I answered. Here they commenced to stack up and we were soon tipping the sandbanks although we carried 80 pounds of steam. River still falling we grounded fairly in midstream. It was evening just after sundown, we worked her all ways it was to no avail we were stuck. I called all my boys with Iwolo my general and we were soon putting the boat in shape to resist an attack which would surely come. The old captain now got up all arms he carried for defence, about 20 old Snyders and netting the stern we did all we could. Renchoro and Iwolo seemed to think we could lick any attackers and of course I thought so also. A clear case of never say Die. The ships crew were all working boys and although they would fight their best we relied very little on them. The engineer, a half breed called Davis now coupled up two hose which were to throw scalding water on anyone attempting to board, whilst Iwolo and myself with our rifles piled up Manchester goods in a ring and determined to hold our own from aft. The old captain armed with a sixshooter and cutlas seemed pensive but I soon had him in a good humour by spinning yarns.
We were about all ready for anything when a canoe came alongside. It was Nina, the headman and a couple of his witch doctors and Nina spoke to me first. She was natily dressed in the European togs I had given her and spoke in a firm voice which I understood come and see us at once, you will receive protection if not you will be attacked and will surely die. She looked me steadily in the eye as she spoke and insisted in my following her at once. I thanked her at once but told her I had a surprise in store for anyone if they cared to come and try at this she smiled and said dont be foolish they dont want to kill you I will see to that, but your boat is fast they are ready to attack you and I give you this chance, come with me. I told her how thankful I was to her but I could not leave the ship. I had got it into trouble and would get it out. She said no more but I noticed a water blot you call a tear in her blue eye. I waved her goodbye we said no more she had risked her life to save me. There was nothing could help me only my rifles I had confidence in them so had my boys, in fact I wanted a go-in with these river men. If I won which I knew I would I was as good as King of the river. I knew the native, if I licked him I had his friendship. We had not long to wait as out from the Isogo point shot two war canoes bearing straight down on us. Iwolo now proposed a drink and stood behind us as we mounted the poop field glasses in hand. We took things easy and opened out at eight hundred yards on Isogis fleet. As we potted them they began to hesitate, and then making a swift turn back we played skittles with them the canoes showed signs of the wildest disorder. This tickled Iwolo who started up a song (Iduma enywary calis a mo sacka) the cheek of a slave always comes to grief. We potted them till all agreed to leave them alone and leave some of them living, we felt like going ashore and taking the town and killing Isogy.
And now a fleet of twenty put out from Rengogus but shared a worse fate as we popped in a few shots at them at 1000 yards and the effect was plainly visible they returned. They had a lifes surprise, I had all shots and we drank and amused ourselves whilst beaconing them on shore to come out awhile. They had the easiest licking I ever saw and from that time on I always commanded the river. With a loss of nothing but a couple of hundred cartridges I had quieted the river to stay quiet. And old General Iwolo always smiled when we spoke of the battle at Isogis.
After another piece of luck which was the sudden rising of the river a couple of feet, we felt quite independent so I turned the big paddles round and dropped anchor at Ninas Sacred town. The inhabitants seemed afraid of us to begin with but I hailed the Sacred chief who came off in his best canoe along with several of his witch men. I received them well on board but let them see I was prepared for any eventuallities that might arise. This was a good advertisement as they had seen how well we had disposed of our enemies without a Scratch. I noticed he had his weather eye on our rifles and took all in. I never even mentioned the battle only to say that anyone who was foolish enough to bother us would regret it and furthermore I told him my wishes had all been granted and if he wished I would come on shore and make another wish. He said I could wait till they had composed themselves as there had been quite a number of influential men on shore who had been shot. And of course I was sorry especially as Isogis son had been killed.
Of course I expected as I was a full member of the temple to be treated like any other member of the faithful and to this he agreed but as the doctors were fixing up the wounded they woud prefer remaining quiet, in fact he had been adverse to one member of the temple fighting another. But I chimed in this boat is mine and the goods were mine and they had attacked me what had he to say about it. He could only tell me he was never in favour of the attack and said in a whisper we warned you as a brother did we not. Of course you did I answered you offered me protection if I would leave the boat and I shall always be thankful to you for that warning and furthermore I have come here purposely to reward you all for your good action now the battle is over and I want you to make peace with everybody on my account.
These wise men now had a confab and said they understood me exactly and would be glad of any help I could give them so as to commence peacemaking. I asked them to state what they wanted and they asked me for five cases of gin and two bottles of rum and they would begin to move away every evil spirit in the river after which there could be nothing but peace. I had the gin and rum placed in their canoe at once and they promised to return and tell me how they had gone on in spirit land but begged me not to come on shore until they had returned.
In about two hours the sacred boat put off with Nina and the old chief at the bow standing. She looked radiant and in the stern sat Chief Isogi, who seemed to be depressed. He disclaimed all blame for the Attack and blamed the creek men who had acted without orders. I made them all welcome and treated them as if nothing had happened. Nina was dressed in European style and on parting shook hands with me leaving a short note (Trust no one) or (Beware). I noticed the chiefs eyes cast on my rifle brigade and especially old Iwolo whom they all knew as the best fighter and general of the whole Cammas. They all went off smiling but could not help seeing that we were alert. I had made a good impression on them and as they had downed many a ship in this very spot and I knew they were treacherous to a man I felt proud as they retired friendly with my roose. All the same I had Steam always ready and sudden death to any false move were my orders to my fighting Chief Old Iwolo.
The river rose quickly and the captain reported ten feet or more in the channel beween the long sandbanks. So we hove anchor and with a full head of steam were soon thudding away up the Ogowe. We woke up Isoga town on parting with three shrill blasts of our whistle and several ominous toots of the foghorn and as she was a powerful boat we were soon well away passing the most dangerous spot in the river with two feet of spare water under us. The natives along the bank cheered us lustily as we passed onward and eventually passing Her Shiffs we were all safe and sound alongside the pier at Adimanongo.
There was a great gathering of traders ashore and discharging cargo was the order of the day. Sinclair was glad to see us. As the river fell slightly after our arrival, I took a good two days rest which I badly needed. Now the reloading traders purchases took place and, early morning all being ready we sailed for far-off Samba Falls. A young Presbetyrian mission lady (Miss ???) came on board and to my surprise she was bound for Samba Falls and was the first white lady who ever visited there. I could not help but admire her courage.
"I can't be second-rate in literature, Ma'am. I must give facts and novelties too. Properly woven they are the basis of solid interest.
"That old Pioneer sure came up to the scratch. Livingstone's boat she used to be, carrying a load of Bibles instead o' Manchester goods. A favourite of fashion he was, with all the luxuries obtainable by prayer in Piccadilly drawing-rooms. A stand of arms they gave him. Ladies'll always admire a romantic figure. Prowess. That's what tickles 'em.
"Aye, I've been saving up this river fight to put in a bit of prowess for a reviver. When you're cornered, battle out! Keep your self-respect between your teeth! A fight lost in Africa's the world lost. Other places'll give you a second chance. The Ivory Coast gives you only one.
"Twould never 'a' done for me to listen to Nina T???. "You'd better come," she said. A strange look that girl had sometimes. . . . .
"No, Ma'am, you'd hardly say I was in love. My little ringletted lass of the lily ponds in a Lancashire lane kept my heart. But it was only in Nature for a boy to have a good stare at those eyes of a goddess looking at him so strangely. Kind but piercing they were. She'd never seen a light-haired boy and perhaps it brought memories of her father.
"'Tis a good thing I knew her so intimately. Any book, to catch the fancy, needs some attachment like Nina. Something that continues in the background and provides colour. Aye. Come to Nina's story, I would have crammed the whole narrative into three or four chapters. There was little enough of it. But come to a book you need some proper understanding of Selection George Bussey says. He'd never 'a' let me pour out all the best in one gulp. That's why I've had to weave it in somewhat meagre. Get me contrast and me solidity with gorillas and river-fights and so forth and cetera.
"Mind you, there's some'll read the book for that. Fellers who'd turn up their nose at a so-called love interest. It's in the make-up of the natural man that he keeps a soft corner for a bit of a battle. And if he's ever been a lad he'll sure enjoy my rivers. Aye! Come to rivers, Ma'am, my knowledge would be sure considered a novelty even in America.
"And that bit about Miss Hasken. They'll appreciate that in Cincinnati. They sure will. They think a lot of goodness in America and they can't fail to be attracted by that sweet lady stepping aboard to sail up a cannibal river. The first white woman they'd seen. Like an angel she sat there, with her back against the bales and staring out. All on board loved her. 'Twas the look in her eye. Aye! 'Twas a look could 'a taken Stanley and his sort to the world's end and heaven as a wind-up. But they hadn't got it. They hadn't got it.
"Never cared for Stanley, us traders. 'Twas no love of humanity made him go after Livingstone. 'Twas nothing but newspaper ambition. Always wanted the spotlight turned on him. There was that poor feller Pocock was with him. Got carried over Samba Falls in a boat. Very likely. But 'twas an open suspicion among the traders that the boat was cut from its moorings.
Natives? Oh, aye, natives if you like. Better say natives did it if you're making a note about it. I don't want to be crucified with those notes of yours, Ma'am. Aye, he couldn't bear for any other feller to get a bit of credit.
"But that mission lady. She never thought of anything but the schools and churches she was going to build. Saw 'em all as pretty as a picture at likely spots up that wild river. 'How beautiful to see one there, Mr. Horn!' she says.
"Wear? What did she wear? Well now, Ma'am, I shall have to think. Nothing fashionable. No feathers or these so-called pork-pie hats. Just one o' these Leghorn hats. Nice and shady for a lady's eyes. And a dress of brown holland same as my sister Emily used to wear in the summer. Buttons and so on on the bodice. Braid. And she had to keep lifting her long skirt, getting in and out of the boat and walking in the dust and the long grass.
"Aye, I've seen so-called women explorers since then. Helmets and so on. Riding boots and ties and everything else. But I've never seen that all this men's truck made 'em any braver than that poor lady who never thought of her get-up.
"I must thank you, Ma'am, for asking the ????? Society to look me up with a bit of help. There was one of 'm came yesterday. Stout body, used to the job. Talks pleasant and never listens to what you are telling her. Aye, they look through the wall. Left a candle and two pieces of soap. Tickets for milk and meat once a week. I appreciate the way she's doing her duty but I should sure have preferred to get the soap and candles by ticket. When you're feeling too hungry to walk to a shop you're apt to cavil at what is after all but a kindly deed. But I'm bearing philanthropy better since I began with the book. I can sure throw it off the chest. Aye, there's something in writing's like armour to the feelings."
NEXT to board us was Sinclair and we steamed towards Eninga where the blind king lived. Miss Hasken had a drawing pad on her knee and as we steamed by the villages she would make rapid sketches of the various place, whilst I would tell her their history as far as I could. This seemed to interest her greatly. We travelled up the Angunie as long as we could see clearly and could make sure of the positions of the channells, and dropped anchor at old Injukis town the chief of the Okellys of Angunie. The Chief came off accompanied by his head man and women and as Miss Hasken could speak Mpongue fairly well which language they understood the greatest curiosity they had ever seen, the White Lady, made their visit on board a great event. They would ask her many questions about herself which she readily answered and this pleased them immensely and on parting she presented the dusky ladies with bon bons. The shore was filled with the inhabitants of the town and after wheighing anchor in the early dawn we passed up stream after giving them several loud blasts of the steamboats whistle which greatly amused them. They must have thought the whistle was talking to them.
We made several short stops on our journey and arrived early in the morning at beautiful and picturesque Samba Falls, which as the river was nearly at flood height looked very imposing nestling as it does amongst the mountains. Soon everything was bustle at the big Evely town which covers both sides of the river and mounts up on each side of you as if it were perched on rocks and dangerous looking crags. Miss Hasken took great pleasure in visiting the natives and soon made friends with them. In her visits to the various parts of this mountain town she was generally followed by an admiring throng of youngsters and women and she took great delight in knowing their reasons for having so many wooden Idols some of which are quite large and grotesque whilst some of them are even hideous and specter like. I would explain what they were and she would always smile when I told her they were there to ward off evil spirits diseases and ill luck of all kinds. In fact these people are about the most superstitious race you could meet and were all advocates of voodooism in its worst forms. Once in a while a human skull would be placed near a house as a fend off for witches which were generally supposed to be women.
After she had visited the villages she produced her drawing material and made some splendid sketches of the winding river and the lofty hills beyond and she presented me with one which I sent to England. These were the first sketches of this most dangerous country and were highly valued by all who saw them. They were charcoal sketches in black and white. The witch doctors were very much disturbed as they often asked me what was the white lady doing. This I explained to them but I could see they were very dubious. Miss Hasken also made a short trip above the falls and told me that some day this would make a grand spot for a mission station but in reality it was such a stronghold of witchcraft that it was then about the most dangerous spot she could have thought of in Africa. She was, being the first white lady ever seen in that part of the country, always looked upon by us traders as a great female explorer as well as a heroine to trust herself into the heart of Isoga. And the natives often spoke of her as their white sister and such she was, as being a perfect lady she treated them all with such human equality and respect that she completely won them over by her kindly actions and words.
We took on board a record load of rubber and our downstream trip was one of the greatest pleasures I had as a youth and I have often thought about her in her Leghorn hat examining the Idols of these strange people. She came from the city of Cincinnatti, U.S.A. for the Benefit of these natives and I could see by her words and actions she would have given her life for their sakes. This was humanity indeed, and as this lady about twelve months after her visit to the Falls died of West Coast fever I had the honour of conveying her by sea and river to Barraca, the Chief Mission Station at Gaboon where she was buried with silent regrettes. We could not have thought of a burial of a white lady at Kangue, as there is no doubt the Isoga worshippers would have stopped at nothing to get her remains for Fetish, but would lie safely and undisturbed in her grave at Barraca.
On my return to Adoninango with Sinclair we found Count de Brazza was on his way and we had orders to do all in our power to help him which was done. He eventually landed with his quartermaster and several French soldiers both white and black. His native soldiers were from Senegall and were fine fellows. In fact we all got along splendidly. Count de Brazza was a tall gentleman of what seemed middle age although not thirty and was a pensive man who never joked or smiled. His men were armed with the fusil grass, which I found was a splendid rifle and a French machine gun completed his armoury. He brought along a number of beautiful looking donkeys who surprised the natives whenever turned loose by their loud braying and kicking anticks, and the whole inhabitants would scurry away when the white mans deer charged through their villages. And this had a more pacific action on these cannibals than the look of his soldiers and guns.
De Brazza had to stay with us till his large canoes came from Ocanda away up the Ogowe river. I had many a long chat with him and as he spoke both French and English I soon formed a great friendship with him and he promised I should have his assistance if I followed him up to establish trading posts. He also told me he intended to put up the French flag at Stanley Pool and there he made his town which is Brazzaville of today. He also sent the news that any of the natives who were slaves would be free on joining him but strange to say although there were many slaves in that part of Africa, there were very few who joined him, and these who did were men who had been mostly sold away from their wives and children. He wanted a gorilla which he intended to ship whole, which was to be preserved in good white spirits and as the natives always knew where these were, we made up a large puncheon. The gorilla arrived and was an old man who had given notice of day dawn for many years by his fierce howlings and drummings. He was a fine big fellow, and it took six or seven large crew boys to get him into the puncheon, after his head had been sawn across with a light saw, as he was wanted for the purposes of craniotomy (study of the brain). The alcohol was then poured on the large Brute and the large barrel was closed and firmly hooped. I heard afterwards that he arrived all safe in Europe.
And now this famous explorer made all ready for his trip, the large canoes were manned, the donkeys were last to be put on board. And as we fired him a rifle salute he waved us adieu and went off on his expedition. His fleet of large canoes, which were all flat-bottomed were well manned by Okandas and Okotas and followed the north bank of the river and these people are great singers and kept beautiful time and melody and this sweet savage music we could hear till they disappeared as it was carried seaward by the light river breeze. This expedition was the means of adding a very large country to France. And as we all knew, was made to cut off any chance of Leopolds annexing both sides of the Congo which we all thought was possible, till all our fears were set aside. No one seemed to be very much in love with the Belgians at that time, especially Ivory hunters and traders. And as I have watched events which have happened on both sides of the Congo I have reason to think that we would rather have seen our own flag go up than another. Both the French and Belgians are poor colonisers as will be seen by a visit to any of their colonies.
Sinclair and I now argued the feasibility of following him up and establishing trading outposts in the best localities, this I agreed to do. I made several more trips to the sea and always contrived to meet Nina. She was more than willing to be carried off, by force if necessary as the poor lass longed for freedom and had begun to realise her position. She had studied English in her spare time and could write fairly well, but I was careful to put nothing in them which might disagree with her captors, should any letter miscarry and fall into their hands. But she always told me to watch myself as the Black Encomi would take any chance to kill me, as they were determined to get even with me for opening the river up and especially for the fight I had won, and although they might not dare to attack me openly to always beware. If anything happened whilst I was away she would always let me know if possible. I asked her if there was any likelihood of my being attacked from the Josh house or in the village but to this she answered no she did not think so as I was always too well armed, and they feared me more than they loved me, and especially the witch doctors who always were glad of my enormous presents to them, and they all said I was not really a bad man but was naturally fond of fighting. She said they really had thought I would leave the ship to save myself and they even had agreed to let me go free if they captured me. My resistance was a great surprise to them and especially as they had so many killed.
On a future occasion she told me of a spring which she used for bathing and was situate across the creek opposite where the Josh house was. But I must be careful not to let myself be seen. She generally took one of her maids with her but could send her back for something whilst I could come there from the big river by a small path which would lead me to the spring which was easily found by the grove of tall trees around it. After discussing many plans we agreed on this last one as best. She had a good head. She would take over her clothes and hide them in the rushes near the big river. I was to drop a stone in the water from the bank into the creek where she would always watch when I was ready to steal her. Furthermore I could call when I was ready for her and make my wish with plenty of liquor for the holy men. And wear on that occasion a scarf round my neck and drop a piece of string on the floor with a knot in it. At the time I smiled and thought surely the tricks of a woman are wonderful. Furthermore she told me she would slowly shut one eye and at this I smiled but I told her I thought this was a sencible way of getting clear. Yes she said and after that I shall come away from the Enago (house) just as I am dressed as it must all be done quickly to make all sure. I shall dive in the water without sound and shall climb to the bank near the Icondu tree (great cotton tree). Then as I can run fast you will pull for the middle of the stream. The darkness and speed will help us. The poor Godess was really in great earnest and of course any fumbling meant her death if not mine also. I had well understood. And afterwards made a short hand note in short hand as nearly verbatim as possible of what she had told me.
As future events will show she was quite right, and as things worked out well on that memorable night, the night I stole her, I always gave her credit for having a better head than I had, as all the plans I could think of were a swift attack on the Holy Men during a visit and carry her off old Scotch boarder fashion or young Lock Invar in a boat whilst the fathers were drunk. And I found her plan work out so plainly that Nina must have seen lots more happenings round the Josh house than what she liked me to know. Anyway she had saved my life by her timely warnings and I was determined on taking her away from that ungodly surroundings. Strange to say, although I liked Nina and it would not have taken much to have ballanced my loving in her favour then, I could never keep my head about a little blue eyed lass I had known up in North Lancashire in the country we used to call the Clog and Shawl; we used to pluck posies together and she used to gather cowslips and primroses and garden pinks and tulips and make such pretty buttonholes which always seemed to smell better when she had plucked them and pinned them on. She lived close to my grandfathers who was freehold landlord of Frea, the family of the old Fist-and-Spear. The country especially there was supposed to grow fairies which she told me used to grow from the pond lillies and would stand on the lillies to hear thrushes and skylarks and I believed her and as she was my great playmate in those days of ringlets, which I wore as well as she did, No wonder I could not get her out of my mind, and I just coudent. Of course she would always crop up in my mind when I was admiring Nina who never seemed to notice there was something, ah, a Lancashire fairie between so there it was.
I wrote to little Peru of course and explained how Nina herself had planned the getaway, and do you know to my great surprise in his next letter he declared he was going to be in at the stealing with me, and as he was shortly coming of age, he was going to see me out of that Godforsaken land the West Coast. Money he said was no object I must come and sojourn with him where he would build a place in healthy and romantic Peru, where we could love and enjoy life as it should be, with my stolen Godess of high degree, and where they would both admire my wife and my ruby. I could only laugh heartily, as I knew his nature so well, British and Inca it was just as I expected. But I wondered if I should tell of my fairy but I never did. In fact he admired my sketch of Nina which he declared was A 1. Somehow I felt that if he once saw my Belle Sauvage he would succum, heart silver mines and all. And Nina had such simple winning ways I thought it would be wise to warn him but I didn't, anyway come eventually he did but not before I advised him, and whether he succumed or not we shall see later on in the story. I piloted several steamers up, without mishap or trouble of any kind and as trade was booming these always came down with full cargoes. The Pioneer I conducted up the River Ogowe as far as John Ermys who did quite a large trade and had his store a large one in the Bimvool country. On my return I made ready for following DeBrazza and posting traders up country. I had quite a big flotilla with me and selecting a few good ivory and rubber traders, we bade good bye to Adominango and Her Shiffe and started up stream, great salute firings from the Stations and flag dropping. I had good trading cargo and good men, and we were well armed and provisioned for a long trip to anywhere. Before I left both Her Shiff and Sinclair told me I should make good and so it proved out.
"Aye, when I saw de Brazza's canoes disappearing to make new country for the French. . . . And the singing came back to us. . . .
"Commissioned by his country to enlarge her territory. I could 'a' done it for England a dozen times and over.
Charlie Thompson says they still talk of that river fight I had. They speak of me still, I'm told.
"Aye, if a roc could drop me there now I'd made headway still, on my river. Who's to know it better than I that charted it? And if the bottom's altered I'd not be too old to chart it again. To be continually taking your soundings is a course of Nature whether with man or with water.
"If I'd been Sinclair I'd have owned the country. In Britain's name, of course. I'd have put up me flag even if only the clog and shawl. When it's for a savage's vision clog and shawl's as good as lion rampant. A totem he'll not understand. I could 'a' pulled big power from Lancashire in those days. The old Fist-and-Spear were always open to adventure whether of trade or battle. Strong and ambitious?that's, Lancashire.
"Frenchmen are go-easy folks, like Italians. They'll not cut much ice when it comes to annexing foreign parts. I thought myself as big as de Brazza. I was better armed and I had the instinct for top-dog lacking in one of his make-up. A proper nobleman, though. Full of high thought and proud reserve with all his bravery. He could be as silent as a duke. Aye, it seemed like Africa kept him quiet. Always walking up and down with his eyes on the ground. He'd 'a' done better at poetry, perhaps. But a man, for all that. Aye, he stepped as if earth was his heritage.
"If I'd sent home for proper backing I'd have got clear of Sinclair's timidity and photo-worship. Rhodes knew the power of home backing. He knew that when his ambitions became un fait accompli he'd succeed. Nothing succeeds like success?with the stay-at-homes.
But pioneers 're built like that. It's not gaudy success that Rhodes was after. Leave that to Stanley. It was to make something to grow in the breast of tamed Nature, when it's youreslf that's done the taming.
"I'm glad to be able to save a brave woman from forgetfulness. Aye, the second day she went out and she sat on a rock above the Falls. And there was a tree grew out over the water and she was sketching it. The Anguni mountains, and so on. The natives thought she was trying to break the ambwini?putting the white god against the black. They were uneasy. They'd never seen a lady sketching. I couldn't help but keep an eye on her. Didn't do to let her see me, though. And I had to let the natives understand I thought it was the usual thing for ladies to do.
"My sister Emily has the sketch she gave me. I used to send her curios from the West Coast. Nay, I could never say what became of it. You know people at home will sit like magpies on a thimble over all the what-nots of a home. And then comes the old auctioneer we call Death and puts the lot up to a stranger before life's even been lived. Aye, if they'd run out o' doors a bit oftener, Nature'd teach 'em to forget the gewgaws!
"I've collected curios for a good many people in my time. Speaking of gorillas in spirits there was that feller I packed for President Grant when he came to the West Coast. He was naturally looking for souvenirs and I sold him a gorilla for thirty pounds. I put him in a puncheon of spirits same as the big chap de Brazza sent to his medical society. Aye. But by some misfortune the wrong puncheon got put aboard the Alaska. Alaska, was it? It's so long ago I can't trust me memory too well over names. Howbeit, I'd got a poor feller, a goldsmith from Accra, sleeping his last sleep in a vat of spirits in my store-shed, and only waiting for a ship to take him home to his own people. Mind you, 'twas a burial which, even as a temporary measure, would have suited many. That feller the Duke of Clarence would never have turned up his nose at such a purgatory.
"From Ashanti, that goldsmith. Josiah of Accra he was well known as. Made gold and silver ornaments from metal mined by himself on the spot. A regular artist at twisting metal into shapes of beauty. Like that wild feller in the Bible you hear of?Jubal Cain or some such resounding name. All up and down the coast he'd been looking for metals and working at what he found in the mountains. Nice little furnace for smelting. Bellow made of monkey skins. Got swept over Samba Falls when he was prospecting for copper. 'Twas treachery of one of the tribes did it. They were for burying the body there, but you know what that means. Muti for your enemy. Nothing more valuable than a dead enemy. So I took him down the river with me and put him in spirits till a ship should come along'd take the feller home. Every man has a right to burial on the spot we call home. He wants his own at such a moment, if ever. Aye, I'd like to think someone'd do as much for me when I'm beckoned. Ship me over to Frea. Or in sound of the sea at Gillmoss. But don't let the spirits leak. No sailor'll stand it and remain human. If they can't resist Nelson they'd think nothing of Aloysius Horn.
"Aye, I labelled him 'Accra' and I'd already written to the British consul at Accra to look out for him. But after the Alaska had sailed I found they'd put the wrong one on board. So he went to America as a gorilla. "No, I never heard any complaints, I meant to write but?'twould 'a' been a long business. And I was a gorilla to the good. I was doing a lot with the museums just then."
MISSING CHAPTER 21
THE celebrations of their victory I had no control over. Even old Iwolo slipped off I had only one line-eyed man in the crowd perfectly sober and that was Renchoro who although greatly amused kept a keen eye on me. Iwolos Harp pretty nearly talked as each Encomi took his part in the dance to the tunes and words of prowess of bygone days and the way they made imaginary feints and stabs would have tickled even an audience of the best of our modern warriors. As each spear thrust was made and parried by these best of the wildest of nature they were received by the hearers by such words as Va bue (Bully for you), and the next one would jump into the ariena with his own mode of fighting and was received by such encouragement as Hit red, Give it to him, Now for a kill, and this went on till the sun rose in fact I fell asleep amongst it all and in my dreams I had hundreds of rifles and Encomi warriors, and had even married Nina (silly dream). Also the little blue eyed fairy of the ponds far away popped in on me and actually scraped my face with her ringletts and pinned me a sweet bunch of wild flowers on and when I awoke finding all well and as it should be I felt relieved. Great things these dreams, when you come to look back and I had often thought as a lad Do they ever come true but that dream did, strange to say and she pinned many a posy right in old Lancashire near the old lilly pond where the old stony brook sang its song for us amidst the song birds. That was surely heaven on earth to me, at that time a simple Child of nature after all.
On awakening I was surprised to find the island was visited by many natives, some Okellys and some Mpangues who were quietly waiting for my awaking. Of course I gave audience to the Okelly chief who was a younger brother of Apaques. He had heard of my doings and had come to see if I intended starting business again and this I assured him would be done. I pointed out to him that the delay in trade had not been caused by any fault of mine and at this he laughed (I found him very sensible), and said I was quite right and he knew the reason of the delay. As he said this he pointed down stream to a large number of vultures which were circling high in the air above the old battle place. That was the cause he said and I smiled but was careful to make no allusion to the fight. He told me that he had many cutting rubber and many more were coming from Engella who intended to settle on the land and declared the rubber was not only good but there was a lifes supply, it was to be found in larger quantities than they had ever expected to see and of course they were anxious to have a trading station again on the Island. I assured the good chief that I would send him two traders as soon as possible to Apaques and I knew that all would be well.
After this he left fully satisfied with his retinue and Next came the Mpangue chief who explained his wants and he also withdrew promising his loyal support against anyone who should at any time disturb the trade of his country. I now called on all boys, traders, etc, and councilled them to say nothing about what had happened and they all agreed with me that this was our best policy. As Iwolo put it, was all in the game.
We now dipped paddles and went our way rejoicing not forgetting a few loving cups which strengthened us after our celebrations. Passing the point where the cannibals had made such a Stout resistance we saw many black vultures who were evidently having high times on shore and the most ghastly sight of all was the torn body of the man who shot the rifle. He was still hanging from the tree head down, having been firmly caught by both feet in a fork. I mentioned the advisability of diving under him for the rifle he had let drop in the river but this they would not do as they were afraid of the imburus or spirits of the dead which they declared would forever haunt that spot. Of course there was nothing to be done but to wait for some other chance, And eventually this came. I recovered the rifle without much trouble and it proved to be an old snider which had been stollen from the firm I was representing.
We left the land of ghosts and were soon racing for who should land at Apaques first. As my canoe was always manned by white Encomis supposed to be the best canoe men in the world we were soon flying down stream at a terrific speed. My canoe of course carried the rum which was always a big incentive as the ones following had always to catch us at tot time, and the ones left missed their rum. At times the race was very close and we reached Samquitte by sundown and after a short rest made for my Uncles, arriving at midnight. And were received by a shower of welcomes. This was surely a home sweet home for me, and I turned in near old Apaques, who of course received all the news from me just as it was. The battle especially excited him as they had seen the passing homeward of the defeated chief at night time. But as he had received my message he had given the order to his people not to attack him. But he could not understand why I had not sent him word as the two of us could have wiped him out. I explained that one licked man was a better man to deal with than one unbeaten one. And considering the innings I had given him and the promises he had made, I thought I had taken enough out of him for the time being. Oh yes, my uncle said for the time being, but why not finish your enemies once for all. That was his belief. However in my position he could quite understand my feelings.
The old warrior was a happy go lucky sort and during the conversation would help himself after which he would laugh loudly and say Well, what a beating old Renjoga (old elephant) got from a young white lad. And although I would tell him again he would keep me talking while he laughed heartily so much so that one of his wives who always sat by him would also raise a laugh. She would then go to the door and clap her hands still laughing and the rest of his wives would clap hands and laugh so loudly that it seemed like a universal clapping and without doubt it was a universal laughing as I could hear it being repeated from a far.
Tired out at last I fell fast asleep and it must have been at sun up that I woke. Apaque was still snoring and I made all arrangements for departing. When he awoke he commenced laughing again, saying Tell me that speech of Ngogudemas about bad council, here he would laugh whilst I too was forced to do the same he put everybody in good humour with his Jokes. My boys were now ready I always had a gun inspection to see if the count was there and I likewise kept the guns as clean as possible. Apaque liked this and jokingly said as I lined up for inspection Oh Yes? and these were the bad councillors he listened to. Boys, did he cough when he spoke? The whole company laughed at this. If I had these guns just now I would make all men cough, he said. These are something that I have always wanted but they are no good if you cannot buy the cartridges. At this I smiled. But he was not willing that I should go at once. Wait, he said, these two traders are coming back to Isange how long will they be before they return here? I told him I would send them back as soon as possible. I might send N'dama with five canoes of merchandise at once and Iweke Wilson would follow on at once with five more and so on. These two men were Ivory buyers. Oh no he said there is quite a lot of rubber waiting up here for you and I will send you as many canoes as you wish and these will cost you nothing I will help you. How many do you want? A hundred? Endama and Iweke Wilson both agreed that twenty large ones would be quite sufficient. The Old Chief got busy and in one hour whilst we waited and laughed and he took Nipps at the expense of the defeated Cannibal king his neighbour. Twenty well armed manned and provisioned canoes arrived. We bade fond adieus. Apaque who was a big man gave me a squeeze under the arm. The old man was fond of me and I surely liked him. And we all left smiling and loudly swearing allegiance to Apaque who smilingly acknowledged the Compliment.
Before starting the chief had called me apart and said, Young man you are white and I am Apaque, you have won the river for me. I have waited for chances like this. Now let no one tell you differently, you will never fail, trusting Apaque. My people shall never owe you. I know where the Frenchman is, many of my slaves come from there, now you want rubber and ivory. On your account I will agree to make peace even with my enemies, I can see the power of trade. I was astonished. I only answered I shall do all you wish that a good son can, but trade and war go hand in hand and here I shall always be with you. Have I ever deceived you, he said? No. Son, listen you shall have all the two rivers to yourself, no one shall ever disturb you. I am Apaque. He was always my bosom friend in whom I could confide and he never betrayed me this savage Napoleon of the Equater. I reached Adimango in due time, my mail was at our new station. The last steamer load of gunpowder and sundries was being put aboard. Mattam came at me with a jump and put my hand on his head saying Wa Ka wa Ball n'gogudema. You defeated the big elephant of the Mpangues you are our chief. I laughed and told him nothing of the sort. No but he said listen some of our people were there and some are still there, how could this be, was there no fight? I told him the fight was nothing, he looked at me strangely.* (*The savage was at a loss to understand the conventional false humility of the white man Ed.). Have you got any ivory I said fetch it along to me I will give you a good price for it. Oh yes they had much to sell me and would be at the new place to-morrow. We both parted laughing but I called him back and writing out an order for a pot of jam for his father I parted with my blood brother. Strange people these he was actually proud that I had beaten his paramount chief and that some of his mates, probably his relatives, were laying at deaths corner away up in the high Ogowe. The children of wildest Africa are surely difficult to understand.
I told Iwolo to sound all aboard and with a quick pull out we left the nearly deserted place. My cannibal friends and in fact every one cheered me as I left with my little fleet and we were soon passing Her Shiffs and as I was in the van he hailed me. He had two letters in his hand from Little Peru and one of them as per usual contained funds for the stealing of the Godess. I had to laugh he was still juvenile. Herr Shiff noticed me pocket the wad of notes which was the largest he had ever seen. The next missive said he would soon be coming of age etc, etc, and I was forced to laugh. Was he really in love without sight? No, my last sketch, he said, was superb and then the broadminded manner in which she had laid the plan for her own getaway simply overcame him there were also some useful presents if it would not be an insult for her to accept them, shipped at the same time as the letters went on board the mail. I read the finale after I left Herr Shiff, who was all smiles, as likewise was Her Bohm, who said in English which he was picking up fast You are a now a Hero. I said of course why not, it's just as cheap to be that as anything else, when you travel in new worlds with a full ticket you can be anything you wish. Yes that was so, he said. Shiff then asked him to retire kindly as he wished to talk privately and Her Boom always the same happy soul from Hamburg did so.
Shiff now got serious and in answer to a few questions I opened up. Look here, Her Shiff, I have one piece of news that might interest you and your company, you remember our agreement. He answered yes. Has it been satisfactory to you so far? He answered saying just so. Well, Her Shiff, are you willing to shake with me on behalf of my company that we shall not interfere with each others posts on the Big river. He answered yes and shook on it. Then I said you have a free river as far as you like to go and there is enough trade for five or six more firms. I explained and told him my centre was Isange Island. Not one of there men should go near it he said. I then told him quite sufficient about the High river. That he said is quite sufficient I shall see to it at once. Free trade for all but no cutting or crowding and mutual protection by arm if necessary. It was done and that agreement was always kept.
I had to go as Mr. Sinclair might think something had happened. But I went away with my private locker full of Hamburgs best and that is what I call fair trade. And it all proved out in after years to be so. For these two firms*(*Carl Woerman and Hatton and Cookson Ed.). in spite of wars etc are not only strong in their various branches and companies but have opened the trade of Africa and of other lands. Wherever you meet any of these genuine Giants of commerce you will always find they are run by gentlemen who are even at the present day bound by sound reasons to accept each others burdens for the sake of commerce which cannot exist without unity.
So long for the present Her Shiff I said and the good old man gave me a great handshake. He had been a daddy to me and knew me better than I knew myself. I soon arrived at our new place and had a great talk with Sinclair. It was a charming trading station, well built and commodious, with large verandahs, and was well fitted in every way for what it was intended to be. My canoes he agreed should be dispatched at once, as I was responsible for their cargo I paid good attention to the assortment and this being done, my outfit traders etc swung clear of the warf and I wished them God Speed. I made a trader out of old general Iwolo and deviding my rifles and men the outfit pulled out beautifully and I watched them till they were well away.
I took care to say nothing to the agent Sinclair of the fight although he tried hard to sound me. I knew the cause of my troubles hung against the wall in his sanctorum. He was not a timid man, but this was a fine specimen of an Orkney Island girl, his wife at Kittle Toft of which he often spoke. Poor man, he left the river after I did intending to return to his native home and enjoy his earnings but as was the case with many others, he died after landing at Liverpool. And so did Mr. Carlyle, our Chief Agent at Gaboon, one of the finest samples of a gentleman I ever met. I knew the lady he intended to marry, she was the only daughter of an old whaling captain who had made a fortune round Greenland. And I could mention many more. All the West Coasters have passed away that I knew when a lad, and most of them met untimely ends either being killed by natives or succumed to the Coast fever. Verilly this is what it is called the White mans Grave.
After dispatching my outfit to the interior I journied to the coast to meet the new tug Iowatha which had been specially built for both sea and river. I had a good talk with Nina on my way down and also studied the boat with its engineer, old Peter Nolan, who handed over to me at Angola. She was all one could wish. Was swift and powerful and would tow twenty canoes or more anywhere. Old Peter and I soon became great friends.
"Aye, I was always tickled to death to have a fight of me own to study out. I could 'a wiped out the lot, as old Apaque said, but there's a certain portion of mercy in human nature. Although, mind you, it's sometimes got to be roused up to killing pitch, like when I got the feller did this thumb for me. Feller like that's got any amount of ladies on their knees for him in London, but they didn't stop his intention to kill by treachery. Treachery's always a startling thing and that's why you'll never forgive it.
"Aye, I've been fighting all the time and building Empire? so-called. Me first fight was up my rivers and me last one was when I was with Kitchener's Cattle Thieves in the Boer war. Unless you count being on a mine-sweeper when the big scrap was on. My cousin H??? D???, that's a Fish Commissioner, he got me into it. Depth Charge No. 3 I was. And before that there was General Villa's turn-up in Mexico, but I'm not counting that. But after all this, and we'll throw in the old Matabele War long ago, I'm to find my confirmation certificate before I can ask for a pension. Confirmation? Why, I've not even got my marriage lines or me Scotland Yard papers when I left the force of my own accord. Come to that, there's lots of bigger things of mine than confirmation certificates knocking up and down the east coast here. Zanzibar and so on. Guardafui. . . You'll find an old portmanteau of mine in most of the places round Africa and a good few in America. That's why I've got no more than I stand up in?barring me prayer book. There's always one function when that might be needed. Aye, I've sure left a lot o' stuff knocking about. You see, you always think you're going back. Or I might 'a' been in a hurry at the moment.
"'Tis a good time to push a book like mine forward. There's been nothing novel lately since Rider Haggard. One of the biggest mythologists in the world, that feller. But mine'll be facts. You can weave a lot out o' that.
"The Germans'll like my book. I'm not asking any Frenchman to tackle it. Even Shakespeare won't suit a Frenchman? they'll not mention him if they can help it. And Dickens? you may's well ask a Frenchman to read the Greek Testament as get him to understand Dickens. He'll not understand the soft heart and the smile with it. Whether in trade or literary matter he's hard.
"Aye, he prefers the Moulin Rouge. I've been in the Moulin Rouge. A poor show. Too much French tinsel about it for me. I'd rather relax the mind on a robin contest down at Greenwich. Or a bit of a cock fight. That's the sort of spectacle makes you want to go home to your wife and the fireside. Cradle. Muffins and so on.
"We had a house on the corner, one time. Plenty going on, if you felt like looking down through the window on a Saturday night.
"Aye! London . . . Whenever I've turned up at home I've had to go first and see if Lancashire was still there. I had to get me fill of it for a few days before I took London at leisure. Have a look at Gillmoss and so on. Here the chuets*(*Chuets=plovers.) and the gulls. Sit on the edge of the old marl pond at Frea for old time's sake. A good setting for fishes, marl. Some of those old bullnoses were as old as myself. I knew the marks on 'em. We'd poked 'em out from under the rocks often enough, as lads. Aye, the place welcomed me, if not always the people. Places?they know you. Which is what people don't always do. An old tree, or a bend of the river'll hang out a flag for you even if you find a few doors inclined to be shut. Aye! In the ultimate we'll not turn to flesh and blood but to soil and running water. It bred our fathers. And that's as near as we can get to 'em.
"A good many of those traders were less fortunate than I was. Same as Sinclair and Carlyle. They'd either die soon after getting home or they'd be buried where poor George T??? was. And Tom Keating, who was done down by pirates. But the sea's washed away many a good chap from that island. Same as if it knew they'd not want to be trapped there all their lives. Washing up against Liverpool is what they'd prefer.
"Aye, there was some great old firms in Liverpool at that time. Look at my own firm. Hatton and Cookson. Used to be Hatton and Jackson. Sold more powder to natives than any firm known to man. Before the steamer came, they were. Swooping round Africa and elsewhere in their fine sailing ships. First traders to take ore out from Port Nolloth. Established whaling at Port Elizabeth. First over at Tierra del Fuego. Old-time sea captains, educated by Hatton and Cookson, and ships going from father to son. Aye! It sure was a notable firm until it was sold to the Nigerian Company and got mixed up with Port Sunlight. 'Twas a pity it couldn't battle on without that sort of regalia.
"Liverpool men! They'll not let their ships down nor their firms neither. A sure thing, Ma'am. Take none with another they were a grand lot for duty. There was only one I knew was a bit inclined to overdo it. Captain Holt was a man to be feared at all times. The natives feared him, and white men feared his effect on the native. 'You'll never quieten 'em that way, John,' I used to say to him. 'My way's better, that's based on our human make-up. Follow Nature. She'll never let you down, nor the firm you're working for.'
"Aye, John would flog a boy for not pulling his weight, or a bit of impudence. All wrong. The boy that needs castigation is not one to punish but to get rid of quietly. No words. Pay him and let him go. If ever he comes back he'll behave. You've got to watch savages, same as a politician's got to study his opponents in the House. Matter of insight, so-called instinct. Dum vivo spero's as good for the cannibal as for ourselves. The trader who'll not allow the element of hope amongst his boys is no student of human nature. More than that, he's doing his firm a bad turn.
"Come to think of it properly, by Holt's severity and Sinclair's timidity those two were robbing their firms as surely as if they'd robbed the office till. Aye I When I think what I could 'a' done up my rivers?"
THE Iowatha was wide and roomy and had a high forecastle of a kind where I and old Peter had plenty of Room and light fresh air etc. I quickly made so that all on board were snugly housed. She towed with very little sound and we always kept her up, filling the brass steps and kept her always new. The man who had designed that boat was a sailor engineer and an old Equatorial sea dog. She burnt little fuel got up steam in no time and had no tricks and would ride a rough sea like a gull, so that under sail and steam (the sail I filled her up with myself) she looked like an old Viking Ship. And still wearing my youth well I made many a rough trip to Gaboon, when everything was howling the little Iowatha was at her best. Something that would lull you to sleep in the whitest squall, if you like rocking. We born in Lancashire are always rocked to sleep and in fact I have often seen a sailors wife, often with many children, pull a laughing lad from his milk and say Nay tha waint, thart foxing. She would then slap him in the cradle which was cocked so as to give the cradle a Jirk and he was soon fast asleep under the influence of the bob rocking, like we in our ships focsle. Too much coaxing makes a small lad, so that the good old sailor type found real pleasure in hardships, he invariably had a hard rearing but enjoyed life. One of the happiest race of humans in existence, the Western Ocean Seaman, and he could always find rocking enough at sea. Well, such was the Liverpool built tug and I was proud of her. Whilst I was running her she never had a leak or a mishap to her machinery. She was a good home anywhere. I received several boxes containing apparel for the Godess and also a box of things I knew nothing about or Little Peru either, in fact I was right as a gentleman of his calibre would not go into Bond Street and order anything for a lady I know I wouldnt have done it at the time for anything. But there they were, stays and cosmetics and other things I never understood. And as he told me afterwards he had done all this through his agents, I was right. I had also received several boxes for de Brazza.
So bidding good bye to Angola I swung clear with my first tow and stopping only once at Ninas and delivering the presents and also a few welcome bottles for the voudoo fakirs I held on up stream night and day, making a record voyage. The little steamer caused quite a commotion as we steamed by the many villages on the banks. Whilst the boys on the steamer answered the shouting of these simple natives, Where did it come from, they laughingly answered O wamuti Impolo Agani (The high steamboat has given birth to this little one) and this many of them believed. We had many Visitors after our arrival at our headquarters and Sinclair was especially pleased with our new acquisition, which could be used in all the rivers and lakes and could bring supplies from the coast at any time.
The next trip I made was to Samba Falls as the rivers were now falling and it was dangerous to risk a trip in large craft. I made many trips up the Angani, and even in the dry season, I very seldom had any trouble as she drew very little water when not overloaded. On these trips to Samba Falls I was always asked when the White Lady was coming to visit them, they never seemed to forget her and they would really prefer to see her than the new boat she had made such a kindly and lasting impression on them. I always brought large tows of canoes down with loads of rubber etc so that my boat soon saved her cost and proved the worth of cheap water transport. I soon made a floating fortress of her and settled many difficulties with which the navigation of the rivers had been dangerously full.
I arrived at Sinclairs with my tow but was always held up by Her Shiffe, who greatly admired the Iowatha and was very fond of Peter Nolan. I had brought down many of our traders who were always anxious to square accounts but the stores were always full of goods and they generally took a siesta of a few days giving me plenty of time to visit other trading districts. When returning I would always tow them back but I must say those frequent changes and a snug home on board made things delightful. I had many a shooting experience both with elephants and hippos and other animals and once ran on to the largest herd of elephants I ever saw crossing the Angani river by moonlight. They separated however and some of the Bulls, tired by running top speed on a long sand bank, turned to charge but we soon put them to flight tail straight out with a few varied blasts of the whistle blown by old Peter, who was very fond of making stampedes. There was always some excitement by day and night and in no place in the world does the moon shine so brightly as the High rivers which are healthy to live on. I have shot many animals by moonlight and have often amused myself reading if I did not feel sleepy, the nights are deliciously cool.
Arriving at our trading station I was kept busy on the big river. Although the waters of the Angani river were now low, the main river the Ogowe had such a big watershead and was so long it took its rise far away in the interior from where nobody knew at that time and I doubt very much wheather they know today, however it had a rise and fall for a month or more after the other river had fallen. Although the French claimed a tremendous territory they were rather premature in annexing such a large interland which stretches practically to the headwaters of the Nile and through this country no white man has ever trod. Not at least in the country inhabited by the same race and speaking the same language as the Oshibas and Mpangues who are all cannibals, so that there are still many portions of the African continent offering good chances of making a world famed name to a daring explorer.
From the minerals I have seen carried in the bullet pouches of the Oshibas for slugs I am sure the country is rich in precious minerals of all kinds. And the only reason I can attribute for the ancients not having invaded these lands which I visited myself nearer to the coast is that the Inhabitants are such a hardy and fearless race that it paid the Old Ancient prospector and gold seeker to give it a wide berth. Which they did, as I never saw any old workings except the copper holes of the Angani mountains and these were the work of the Ashiras of the higher Angani. These Ashiras are the best workers both in copper and in steel I have ever met with during my travels among the savages of many lands.
On my way up the river I always called at Apaques. He took a passage with me, on arriving at Assangi I found more ivory and rubber etc than would square my accounts and give handsome profits. Even the Oshebas had their small houses, which were rudely constructed of great sheets of thick bark tied together by bush rope and had settled down to rubber cutting, whilst the Ivory, always escorted, came down from the interior and was sold either to Endama or old Encke Wilson, the buyers. On the opposite bank Apaques men had built temporary homes and were all busy, cutting rubber or hunting elephants and the Chief was well pleased with his newly acquired domain and here Old General Iwolo, helped by his wife who had joined him from the coast, held sway as chief trader for Apaque. He was doing a good business in salt and powder and no doubt was on the right road to wealth. He kept all his accounts on notched sticks and it was realy marvelous to see how well he could ballance up and in fact knew how he stood in his trade relations to the firm, far better than many of the Gaboon-born traders who knew how to write.
It took a few trips to get down the produce and I felt quite sorry when I had to bid a fond good buy to these good people, as I had at last made up my mind to take a trip home to the old country as my folks in the old home in Lancashire were continually writing for me. There was quite a gathering at Apaques when I finally left for good and all, which Expressed heartfelt sorrow as I departed especially Old Apaque who declared I was theonly real friend ever he had had in his life, but of course understood perfectly well my reasons for visiting my Old Home far away. As I departed they lined the shore and the cries of Come back to us we shall always be thinking of your return, could be loudly heard. I felt sorry to depart from such friends. But a good lasting upriver trade had now been firmly established so I parted without a single regret excepting at the loss of true friends which is a high loss at all times.
On my return to our supply stores I met many new friends. The little French soldier who had served me so well when I was in need of help at Issange Island had received his final order for his up country journey to join de Brazza and we spent the night enjoying ourselves and I saw him off with his fleet of canoes next morning. He was a Bretton from Brittainy and was fine company. We quit the best of friends and he carried my respects to his chief de Brazza. I next paid my attentions to Mons La Glesse a famous French naturalist who was especially sent out to study the gorilla, stuff him a la nature and learn what he could about him. I helped him to do this by procuring boys for him and in less than a month he had secured all the specimens he wanted these were shot by shotguns so that they had practically no bullet marks and I have no doubt as he was a first class taxidermist he put them in their natural poise somewhere in France. I now proceeded up the Angani on my last trip carrying as well as a large tow the traders who were following their calling in that part of the country. We had a great trip as I told them it was my last trip and I was home sick, I bid fond good buys to the old king of the Evilleys and his chiefs and they gave me a royal sendoff telling me to be sure and return after my trip and bring back the White Lady (The Presbetyrian missionary). Old Injuky expressed great reluctance at my parting but this had to be.
I arrived at our new station without mishap only Old Peter Nollan was down with slight fever chills. I was next ordered to Gaboon for a small tow and also some passengers who were anxiously waiting. All my accounts I had made out. I had a fine ballance and I took the news of my intending departure to Sinclair. I had a fine record and I was satisfied and this I carried with me. We had a fine trip down the river and I called only for a couple of hours at Ninas and told her what I had done. And that as soon as I was able I would see to her escape and would see she was free as any Engelangi (white bird from the sea). I could see the emotions I had produced in the inmost soul of Nina. She looked superb under the effect of my little whispered speatsh. And all she answered was I am ready at any time. And as I parted she gave me a most thankful smile. The rest of the attendants at the Josh house I left either drunk or half drunk and was soon well on my journey to Gaboon.
Poor Peter now got much worse in spite of the attention I could bestow on him and as we had a rough passage by sea it seemed to make him worse. On landing he was sent immediately to the French hospital but only lived a few days after I left Gaboon on my return journey. I gave in my resignation to Mr Carlisle our chief agent, handed over my accounts etc and we spent the night in his sanctorum as he had very little time for conversation during the day. He meant to retire himself as soon as he had made all arrangements and of course as I knew his intended we had no secrets. Of course he would meet me in Liverpool and no doubt we should often meet at our Lancashire house as his intended was a great friend of our family as was also her father the old retired whaler. I also told him I might have a visit from a college friend of mine who contemplated visiting the coast for a couple of months shortly and when I told him who he was he laughed and said Birds of a feather. The young gentleman would visit the coast as Mr Graham, bottanist from Liverpool, so that he knew exactly what to do when he came. Of course he would forward him on, and he would see that he came incog. Any time I wished to go I was at liberty, he would see to everything for me.
So I bade him good buy for the present and taking my tow and three clergymen passengers (one American missionary and two French priests) I was soon on my way back to the rivers. The two French clergymen were bound for the Mpangue country and as they both spoke the native language well as they had been missionaries on the higher rivers of the Gaboon amongst the Mpangues they were quite at home anywhere. The American gentleman was on his way to Kangue the Presbetyrian mission station. We all got on splendidly as I was interpreter for him when he wanted to speak to the two Fathers. They all enjoyed their trip immensely and I landed them all safe at their various destinations none the worse for their journey.
I now had time to re-read my mail most of it being from little Peru who had received my letter telling him exactly how things were with me and that I had madeup my mind to steall the Godess as per her own plan which I had detailed. He was coming at once he said, and as he was nearly of age there would be no lacking of funds etc. As I was now a free man I often visited Her Schiff and he told me that if I wished to return to the Coast he would supply me with any goods I wished cheaper than I could buy them in Europe and would back me to any amount. Of course I told him if I returned I meant to do business on my own but I made no promises. Sinclair himself was anxious to hold his trade and I had brought him a mulatto from the River Niger district who proved first class and could manage the tug anywhere, and the boys I left with him knew the river Channels as well as I did so all went well. I passed most of my time hunting and was able to ship home quite a large collection of the dennisens of the African forests and glades, besides curios of all kinds. During these trips I often visited Azingo always calling at Ninas.
"Of all my memories of the rivers that White Lady shines the clearest. White she was, Ma'am, right through to her heart and with no more fear than Stanley on a cannibal river. Aye, it was my sad pleasure before I left the coast to take her body from the Falls to Gaboon. When I heard she was dead I said 'Another victim of that old Isorga the Church.' I had to take her quietly from her last resting-place. Not wishing to offend the natives. They naturally would consider such a fine woman to be above par as muti. They'd not long have been able to keep their hands off her. But her power after death could not have excelled the influence of the living woman.
"Aye. Churches. . . . Man, as we know, is the flower of all creation. But he's only a flower when he ceases to be animal. That's what that lady was. I'm Catholic, but I'm not so Catholic as to think we're the only ones can raise a saint. I'm not grudging her to the Presbyterians. They've got fellers like Sinclair to contend with, who're not doing 'em much credit.
"This Christianity. When you've sifted it 'n' analysed it, Ma'am, what is there left in the sifting of all the churches together but a little bit o' gold dust. And that's Humanity, the essence of life. I've found more of that essence on the Coast there than ever I noticed in London. Sundays or week-days. It doesn't take the metropolis of the known world to make a Christian. 'Twas on my rivers I found that fine lady. Two voyages she had with me. All eyes she was, that first time. But the second it seemed that all eyes was looking at what I carried. Boggarts and voodoos. . . . Every mile of that river is haunted. The most sacred river in Africa. And kingfishers, Ma'am, with their bright toppings. And some of 'em jewels no bigger than a bee. But they must have their fish like the biggest and finest. . . .
"And hadn't my Renchoro a heart of gold? I know humanity, Ma'am. Scotland Yard I was, and knowing London for what it was. I found as good as the best in Africa.
"'How beautiful is that sunset! How beautiful a mission station would be on that hill, Mr. Horn!' Aye, she went where du Chaillu dare not go. Great big idols and painted skulls. . . . Giving the kids sweets, she was, and smiling. . . . Putting religion aside she was a good woman.
"The surf was bad but we got her safe on to a vessel. One more spot of holy ground, where she lies. Aye!
"No, Ma'am, there's nothing special the matter with me. Only, every year I get more tired. I count the steps now, you may say. If they were leading me back over some of my old tracks I'd be content to count them.
"Just a little home backing same as Rhodes had, and de Brazza, and I'd 'a battled through to those head waters. Got in before the French. Open up the Lake Chad road for trading purposes. Ivory and skins and copper. . . .
"That's fine adventurous country where Mahomet meets the cannibals. Aye! Rivers without names and countries without maps. . . .
"When the French became a public nuisance on the West Coast a lot of us old-timers there went up to Nigeria to get away from them. A good many Mahommedan brigands in between. And once I found my little outfit of armed natives being watched by these fellers. They were interested in watching the French troops trying to pot us off across a deep ravine. Aye, for anyone with a bit of imagination, plus rifles, it's a grand bit of country.
"'Tis somewhere up there that George T???'s son disappeared, Nina's brother. After Josef Kariela was killed?the pirate that adopted him when the father died?a good feller to him too?he's supposed to have left the sea and gone into Mahommedan country with the brigands. A lad like George T???'s son when turned back by Providence back to the lap of Nature would naturally turn to arms. 'Tis a gentleman's profession. Aye, it depends on no man's favours.
"'The Brigands of Lake Chad.' 'Twould be a grand title. They used to catch the women going to Fez to the harems. 'The Brigands of Lake Chad.' . . . I sure could have woven some good books if I'd always had the leisure I have now. 'Caravans and Camels' would be snappy. But when you're young you want to be always turning the next cover. Books don't grow when you're following the trail.
"Aye, and behind the Cameroons there's things living we know nothing about. I could 'a' made books about many things. The Jago-Nini they say is still in the swamps and rivers. Giant diver it means. Comes out of the water and devours people. Old men'll tell you what their grandfathers saw, but they still believe it's there. Same as the Amali I've always taken it to be. I've seen the Amali's footprint. About the size of a good frying pan in circumference and three claws instead o' five. There are some very big lakes behind the Cameroons. Used to be full of nice seal at one time. Manga, they call it. But the Jago-Nini's wiped 'em almost out, the old natives say. Pigmy elephants there too, and crocodiles that never kill humans. The natives up there talk of some Big Water. And what I say is they must have come from the Nile.
"What but some great creature like the Amali could account for the broken ivories we used to come across in the so-called elephant cemeteries? Fine old green ivory that's valuable for inlaying wood. Snapped right across in the thickest part and left in splinters. Aye! There'splaces in Africa where you get visions of primeval force. And not so distant either, as when you picture the prehistorics in Europe and America. I was prospecting one time in Florida at the river mouths for mastodon bones. Nothing handier for phosphates. But 'tis a thing of the dead past there. In Africa the Past has hardly stopped breathing. You get fancies there if you're any sort of a man that's not homo stultus. . . . What with the talk of the natives and the sounds you hear at night. And every swamp and mountain cave calling you to come a bit further. There are times when only a river seems safe. No menace in a river. Never still and never silent. Human as a man, and that's why we trust 'em. Aye, the savage'll sing on a river when he'd be trembling on land with the fear of something touching him. Nature's idea for a street?rivers.
"That amali. I told you I've seen a drawing of him in those Bushman caves. I chiselled one out whole once and gave it to President Grant for a souvenir. He naturally took a great curiosity in the West Coast, seeing that the Civil War he'd been so busy over had ruined an old trade there.
"Aye, the little fellers that drew those creatures, and manacled slaves and so on I told you about, were not ordinary savages. They sure were paleolithic men from the North. They were remembering things, on those walls. Processions and so on. I bought a nice ivory from them once, carved with leopards and elephants. Nice little fellers, round about four feet and a little over. Shy as buck, until they'd had a good look at you. A living example of the survival of the fittest. Most gifted conjurors in the world. Use flint for weapons. Most harmless race, but they've had to flee from the French rule same as others. They've gone into the Cameroons for safety. Even the Arabs don't know the back of the Cameroons.
"Well, Ma'am, I'll have to finish up what happened to Nina and my friend Peru. It's sure been a bit of a refreshment to tell about Africa. I could 'a told what happened to Nina in two chapters, but it wouldn't be literature. Co-ordinate your material, George Bussey says, till there's neither waste nor paucity of interest.
"Came from Lima, that feller. The only feller I couldn't lick at school. 'Twas silver mines made him rich. I could lick Johnny Greeley, though. . . .
"Aye, we must get our love interest in. Supposing something happened to me and I hadn't finished it. 'Twould sure be a disappointment to those who look forward to the love-light. If I'd been in love with her myself 'twould 'a' come easier. But there was always little Annie K??? at the back of my mind. Peru having Inca blood, he'd naturally understand a girl like Nina. Lancashire held me, where love was concerned."
I HAD ample time during my frequent visits to the Josh house to make all arrangements with Nina for her final release from the terrible place she was in. I also told her of Mr Graham my friend who would come and help me to take her away. He would be here in a little while so I warned her to be patient, and above all to be as calm as usual for fear that the men who were continually around the temple should become suspicious and never commence speaking to me in real earnest before she was sure they were half drunk as when the liquor was in the whits were out. I noticed she wore a stilleto with a beautifully carved handle in her belt and asked her the reason she wore it. She replied that it had belonged to her mother and she intended to keep it by her as if we failed in taking her away she intended to use it. I asked her how she ment to do so. Oh, she said, I should kill the first person who interfered with me before I have dived in the water. Should she be captured, she said, she would never let them take her alive, whilst she said this a gleam of vengeance shot into her eyes, but she quickly recovered and hummed a whild tune. I was surprised but smiled, and she noticed this and smiled also. It will all end well I told her if you only keep calm. My friend will be with me and I will bring enough force to whipe out the town if necessary. That I shall take you to a better place than this where you you will be perfectly free, goes without mentioning. If I can do it by stealth without anyone here seeing or knowing so much the better, if it come to the worse I shall use force and act quickly. She was greatly pleased with what I told her and gave me a kindly smile of pleasure. I could not miss interpreting it. This lady I could see more than ever before was a fearless and most greatfull piece of Human Structure and was highly intelligent.
Whilst the men folk forgot themselves in their cups I could have walked away with her often at these times, but there was no certainty of this at any time. Her own plan was the best and I determined to follow it as soon as possible. I had left word if news came overland for the messenger to follow me quickly, as I would always leave my whereabouts at the small ebony station at the mouth of the creek. I waited for a week or more after the mail steamer carrying my friend was due, and decided to return to Sinclair and put in my time in patience with Her Shiff and his assistant. I had not long to wait however before the messenger came with orders to send round the tug to Gaboon with the remaining Ivory he might have on hand as this was to complete a consignment now awaiting shipment by the S. S. Angola on her return from Gabenda at the mouth of the Congo. I also received my mail and also a letter from little Peru (Mr Graham) Come at once if possible I am anxious to see you. In a short while the tug was ready and giving a fond good by to all we steamed west with my boat towed behind. We only made one stop at Angola for firewood, and the little tug Iowatha gave a splendid account of herself.
As I neared our main store at Coco Beach I could see the schooner Ruby Queen and could see standing aft through my glasses a tall well built fellow dressed in white duck he was waving his handkerchief and gesticulating frantically. It was my college chum little Peru now grown to a young man of splendid physique and alongside of him also waving his arms stood Captain King master of the Ruby Queen. I altered the course of the tug at once and was soon alongside the Ruby Queen, with one spring and vault I was alongside my old mate and we more than hugged so that even old Captain King wondered why such a meeting. My best friend in the world, and he had grown a perfect man, a kindly intelligent face he was over six feet high and had a mustash, I could not realize that the little lad I had left at college was the same but when he commenced to joke and open up it was certainly he. He too wondered that a little lad that had been his playmate and had left him had grown so much and looked as he said a bronze picture of health in this deadly climate of the West Coast and was now standing by his side.
The tug I sent on her way with the dispatches for Mr Carlile and also excused myself to him in a short missive for calling on the Ruby Queen as I had found Mr Graham on board the schooner and of course we were having a tete a tette meeting. We drank a Moet and Shandon to Capt King and his schooner and slept on board that night. The Ruby Queen had been built as a yacht for an old seadog who had made whealth in the good old sea-days she was fitted up and built regardless of cost, was a splendid sailor and had been around the world more than once, and had been bought by the firm on the death of her owner who had succumed to fever at Gaboon.
We were up early next morning as the Iowatha was due to sail in the afternoon. We dined with our Chief Agent and I bade him a fond good bye as also did my friend Mr Graham I sailed at two oclock carrying Grahams luggage and never saw the good soul Mr Carlisle again he died of fever in Liverpool shortly before the day set for his wedding. We had a glorious trip to the Ogowe and as Graham had brought a beautiful Spanish guitar with him and was an expert player having been taught to play the instrument in his early childhood he could nearly make it talk, and I was never tired of hearing him play and sing, especially the true version of the old Spanish Fandango with variations. He could soon tune his instrument to accompany the Native Ngombi or Harp and the two instruments played together sounded heavenly as the sounds were much better on calm water than on land.
We entered the river and had some fine shooting, he was a good shot with either rifle or sixshooter in fact surprised me. He had lots of practice in England but had also private tuition on the use of the shooter and he gave me quite a few good tips especially shooting right and left using each weapon consecutively. I soon caught the dodge and with a little practice I could use left and right without loosing any time in false motion. Good weapons were of course essential and I was soon taught as I was always fond of the use of the gun. We now neared Ninas place and I told him so, furthermore he must be ready for an agreeable surprise. Why? He said. I said nothing but noticed he commenced to pay a little attention to his looks arranged his hair and asked me if it was usual to go without a coat, as I was in neglige. For myself, yes, but you are a first visitor so it would be well for you to be comme il faut.
Before we had arrived off the beatch he had obeyed orders. Nina I saw was hurrying towards the temple so I led him to the large spacious visitors hut which was always mine only when I arrived. It was a perfect model of African Savagery, animals skins were thrown over the seats in a rough and ready stile but the floor and walls were strewn with native mats of rare pattern and spears of various kinds hanging around ever ready for use completed a most charming decorative effect. Above all everything was clean and tidy and was used principally by Nina who superintended personally the sanctorum of this voudoo town. As Renchoro knew the run of the place he had brought up a few bottles of strong liquor for the use of visitors, the first of whom to put in an appearance was the Old Man, who had instructed me when I had been initiated. He invited us to be seated and to my friend Graham whom he eyed largely he said. You are my Ogenda (stranger). You are welcome and rest contented as you are under my roof. I translated what be had said and Graham thanked him and as the bottles were on the table I said These are yours Father and he smilingly helped himself and friends who were never more than six or eight men and were employed in and around the house of Isoga. I sent Renchoro for the boy who played the Ngombi so well. I told Graham to kindly accompany the boy with the guitar and take all with an air of dont care and quite usual. This he knew of course would help us in our future moves for the liberation. He was a good actor and even yawned at times making passing events seem quite common. The music was delightful and impressed the audiance especially as the ingombi player was a good singer and poet. Our audiance now commenced laughing at the whitty ready made songs of the poet, and at this stage of the performance in swept Nina. I had never seen her look better and as she bowed to Mr Graham who continued playing I noticed a slight blush enter his cheeks but he soon recovered and the song being over he returned his guitar without seemingly being impressed by the gazelle eyed goddess. He now sent Renchoro for a box of cigars and placing the box on the table invited all to smoke. He was a perfect actor Nina also seemed pleased with the new visitor, but also acted her part perfectly. I asked Graham what he thought of her as I lit my cigar. The pretiest woman I ever saw in my life and I am glad I made this trip he said and I closed the conversation. I next sent for Mr Grahams musical box and commenced by giving the Carnival of Venice. Nina was curious and Graham explained by motions how the instrument worked. Several tunes were played in succession. Nina asked him in her best English where the sounds came from. Her voice was angelic so I tapped him with my foot whilst I explained to her in Empongue the inner parts of the little machine as best I could. I was afraid her looks and voice might be too strong for him to resist. He tapped me back with his finger and went to the door and seemed to be gazing out over the river. The beauty of Nina was such that she unconsciously bewitched everybody who saw her and her natural grace of motion and her speaking gazelle like eyes were never forgotten once seen, and the grace of her presence I can picture out now in my imagination although it is over fifty years since I first met her, on the day of my initiation in the Voudou Temple.
After resting up for a couple of hours during which we had succeeded in making all the assistants of the Josh house quite happy, we left without ceremony leaving no presents for the fairy as I had told her it was no use doing so as when she was taken away by me the utmost speed was necessary and, as we could always supply her with the garments she needed it was better to leave them all behind so as to avoid suspicion. The old chief of the sacred town accompanied us to the Tug and was quite anxious for us to call again soon as he wanted to hear the musical box in fact he said he would like to own it or one like it, as it surely contained wonderful medecine and perhaps the happy gohsts of many musical spirits, he could tell this by the beautiful sounds that came from it. Graham told him he might give it to him before he left the country. The Old Man enquired then how long that would be as he was eager for the Box and answering I told him Before the big rains come. He thanked us and wished us much happiness and told me to tell Graham he would ward off all evil spirits from him whilst he was on the river.
We now steamed away to Azingo where there was a cargo of ebony waiting to be moved. We entered the green-arched waterway and G. expressed his surprise by saying Land of Wonders, the most beautiful lady I have met living in fairy land. I had made it a strict custom during my many trips through this stretch of water way not to shoot so that the birds and monkeys etc were getting used to me and as they were an essential part of this grand scenery I left them undisturbed for the benefit of future visitors. We now entered Azingo and Graham was more than surprised at its singular beauty especially the clearness of the water which was so transparent that it gave one the impression of sailing through mid air.
We dropped anchor close in shore and Graham had his first introduction to the Bimvool, the true Cannibals of Equatorial Africa. G had not talked much during our trip from Ninas to Azingo, only commenting now and then at the lovely changes of scenery, but now being composed, he became entirely himself during our stay. I pointed out the direction to Ninas as we landed and also told him the distance as the crow flies. I had intended before he came to take the armed cannibals to the creek and after stealing the godess to make overland to Gaboon, having the cannibals who are splendid fighters as a rear guard to prevent any hostile natives who might follow me from coming up untill I was safely in Gaboon. But now I had changed my plan and would take her at dead of night to the coast, near Renchoros place amongst the white Encomis of the coast, as these people would fight for me, Renchoro being their next chief. The white Encomis have never been defeated and are the finest race of natives in Africa being fearless and straightforward in every way. Graham agreed with me that this was the quickest and safest plan. I told him of a parallel case where one of the guards of the temple had attempted to run away with an Ammazon, who are all virgins, and make his way to Gaboon but had been captured and put to death in a most cruel manner the punishment for this kind of offence consisting in being tied to two stakes driven firmly in a giant antheap, and being slowly eaten up by the insects. . . . Of course I said after we have stolen the goddess we shall have been guilty of the same crime and if caught we shall be treated to the same kind of death, the three of us. At this he smiled and said If ever this came to pass I wonder what the Boys we left at St Edwards would say, when they heard that you and I had been done to death alongside a godess we had stolen on the west coast of Africa. What a finale. That we shall have no trouble in carrying her off I am more than certain and if we play the game to its best tune we shall do it as easily as falling off a log. By the by said Graham how did I act my first part in this little act? Splendidly, old Boy I said only you were love smitten I could see by the colour of your cheeks and so for that matter perhaps was she. You cannot blame me for losing perfect control of myself for a moment he answered and is there a man in the world who would not before such a beautiful Aparition. I was not prepared for such a surprise and for that sweet voice I shall never forget it if I live a thousand years.
"Excuse me, Ma'am, but while waiting for you I've picked up this book of yours lying here. (It was William McFee's Swallowing the Anchor.) Just cast your eye over this and you'll see what I mean by a proper ending to a book. George Bussey always said the same. 'Tis my own ideas too, woven differently."
I took the book and read the paragraph while Mr. Horn watched me in ferment of excitement at having met a kindred soul:?
"For in the meantime the story had grown, had got itself a name; but for lack of a clear perception of that high note upon which we believe a Piece of literature should end, it had lain more or less inert. You must get that note or your labour will be drudgery and all your skill of no avail."
I felt once more that pang of regret, grown familiar in the last six months, that a mind so apt in the recognition of the literary instinct should have been wasted: should only at the end of life, and as a means of keeping that flickering flame still alight, be struggling to pour out its long buried repression in an indigestible mass as varied as the romantic conglomerate from under one of our old African wrecks.
"Now, Ma'am, hasn't that feller said just what I've always told you George Bussey used to say? 'Tis a matter of pure selection! You've got hold of the High Light all the time or you'd never have the heart to begin a book. But if you let it shine out too early and too strong in the narrative, you're ruining your picture. Keep it subdued until the end, and keep your illumination for that. That's what he means. Aye! That feller knows what he's talking about. 'Tis like listening to George himself. One o' the best ever walked London was George.
"A marriage on board amongst the sea-birds. I've seen it all along. As far as I remember the facts were less romantic. I think they got married on shore at Madeira, though one's memory does take liberties so long ago. But 'twill be near enough to say they were tied in holy matrimony, so-called, by the ship's captain. And no less liable to be holy. A sacred calling, ship's captain. He takes life a bit more seriously?wedding or funeral?than one of these professional holy men that'll stare through either a bride or a coffin and not see the human in 'em. There's nothing of the parrot in a good sea captain. . . His thoughts have to keep pace with every change of wind.
"A marriage amongst the sea-birds. A fresh wind and a sparkling sea, though not rough, and the sea-birds mewing all around. That'll take. It's truth plus a bit of seasonable imagination. Aye.
"Peru's ship was taking a deck load of fruit to Johns at Covent Garden. No interest in that but we'll keep it for truth's sake. The Ruby Queen was classed A 1, for many a year. But Captain King died off the Muni River when his time came.
"I shall have to make somebody give them the loan of a ring. They'd not be able to buy one on board and we'd no opportunity of getting one on shore, under the circumstances.
'I'll buy thee a Guinea-gold ring???'.
My voice is a bit shaky to-day, Ma'am, but I used to be good at ballads when I was young. 'I'll buy thee a Guinea-gold ring.' Gold from Guinea it means. A winning ballad'd make any lad dream of foreign parts.
"'Twas a happy fancy of Peru's to bring his guitar. But poor stuff besides the natural music of those rivers. The harp can speak, when it's all the savage has to let loose the inner man. Aye! the only music in the world that catches the soul of any man that's got one. Speaks with a throb and it's like a weeping in the air.
"A man's charmed as a snake is. His muscles lie still under music and he looks beyond him. If not he's no child of nature. Many's the time I've been played to sleep by my boys on those river banks of mine.
'O those sweet sounds from the sea!'
That was one of 'em. Bells from the sea. They meant the seamew. Pretty fancy it was.
'Umbela n'oye me koka ingela
O me engalingi magan chua.
Excuse me, my voice is getting thin. . . .
"The beautiful talking of the harps across the water. Coming along with the wind, on the waters of the big Ogowe. Yes, Ma'am. . . .
"Rivers! 'Tis rivers are the friends of the hunter as well as a safe spot for the savage when he's afraid of rocks and shadows. Aye, a river's the only safe frontier, if you can't have the sea. A dry frontier's no good unless you've got to deal with gentlemen.
"'Put a ban on that Englishman Horn!' All the cry at one time on the Belgian border there. Why! that elephant was religiously mine! How was I to know when she went stepping over the border carrying a few of my bullets in her carcase. Do they lay down a tape measure for a boundary line? And if they did is a wounded elephant to respect it?"
AFTER this short conversation, our meal being over I turned in while G. took a boy and spent the night fishing. On waking at sun up I found he had gone hunting, and had left a short note for me saying I was sleeping so soundly he did not wish to disturb me. He did not return till nearly sundown he was accompanied by three of my boys all hunters and had seen three gorillas at good shooting distance but did not care to kill any of them as they were having such a royal time turning up stones and playing high jinks. On his return the boys showed him some elephant tracks but it was too late to follow them up, there were quite a host of monkeys and birds of butiful variegated plumage, all these were strangers to him nevertheless he had enjoyed himself immensely.
We left Azingo with our tow and were soon through the waterway. We next visited the big lake where he also took my boys and went hunting, but although he saw game galore and a few small gorillas he refrained from shooting. He was full of compassion and would rather let them live than hurt them.
From here we went to my old friend Efaningo where, after visiting the chief in his town, we slept on the sandbank and so did the old chief. The most delightful place to sleep in is the sandbanks of the Ogowe river. It is cooling and refreshing after the heat of the day you have a beautiful swim waiting you in the morning, and a good run around the sandbanks to warm you up. A few arm springs and summersaults thrown in put you fit for a good breakfast and keeps you in the best of health and good humour. G. was very fond of listening to the stories doled out by the old chiefs and interpreted by me and we usually wound up before sailing with a few songs accompanied by the Spanish guitar. As G. put it, this was the best amusement to be had in the world and many people who journied to the Riviera and passed their time in forming classical mutual admiration societies etc would do far better to return to the wilds of primitive man, where all worries were forgotten and man himself felt rejuvenated by becoming a little bit primitive and getting back to nature.
We left Effinangos place after bidding fond good by to the old man and were soon at our chief depot where we delivered the mails and were more than well received by the agent Sinclair. Her Chiff of course had a good share of our visits. The Mpangue villages were favourite haunt of G. who was always amused by the sayings and doings of the wildest of men, the Cannibals of the Ogowe.
Being fully satisfied and happy to continue our trip I now provisioned my boat after having a promise from Sinclair that he would establish a trading post under my boy and old servant Renchoro at his fathers town on the sea coast and I settled up with Renchoro myself but he still accompanied us along with the rest of my boys and parafanilia. My curios etc had all been shipped to Europe and we bade a fond adieu to the people at Adoninango. We were now on our own of course and more than well supplied with all we needed.
During the first night we spent at Efaningos we had lots of time to discuss the carrying off of the Godess. G. was never tired of the theme. The first we did was to see what he had in his baggage, he had really forgotten and it was both laughable and amusing to see what a single man will actually buy for a lady especially one he has never seen. We turned out all things in succession and had many a laugh, he had engaged his agent to buy these garments in Bond Street Liverpool. I commended him for his forethought, as the lady they were intended for would have to swim and run to liberty leaving all her belongings behind. To cap the climax he had some of them neatly marked, Mrs A. A. Horn thinking of course that these valuable articles of the Toilet he had marked would look better with the name of my wife engrained on them. Of course this raised an immediate argument which ran about as follows. What an idea, I said, dont you think you were rather premature in conjuring up a wedding quite so soon. And to marry me right off the real, oh oh, let us talk it over, in fact let us argue things over as we did in our college days, let us be boys again. He rather liked that he answered, and we would certainly be youngsters again. After all you must have seen some lady in England, who you really could have liked, I put to him. I possibly met many ladies, as regards beauty second to none, leaving out that Godess whom I only saw once was his honest reply. Then again he said I am a Peruvian and love my native land and all its old time history and am therefore a republican pure and simple.
What difference would that make if you were really lovestruck I said, your status would have nothing to do with the matter and if the lady felt the same you could not help making a match. True love is as blind as a sand adder. To this he queried and how are we to know when a lady is love smitten as you wish to call it? Whoff! What a simple question I said, why Man she cannot help showing it in some little way.
He laughed but did not venture any farther. I then remarked As regards the Godess I plainly saw she was temporarily smitten when she first saw you and so were you old boy, so much so I had to give you a touch which brought you to your senses. Here he laughed heartily. Hunting has made you quick witted he said, but it was simply being popped face to face with such beauty I could not help it for the moment. Of course not I said quite natural we are all natures children after all. By what you have said he then replied I am to understand you are not love smitten as you choose to term it. If I am I replied I dont see my way clear to getting married yet awhile. As I have told you, my people are all living and my rambling nature forbids me to fall over head and cars in love at the present time. If I was to take arms up the river I should merely leave behind me a host of enemies who might forgive me for defending myself against their hostile attacks with intent to pillage, but they could never forgive me for stealing their Godess whom they firmly believe and trust with the present and future state of their souls. Even as things are it would be dangerous ever to visit this portion of the river again, so that if I succeed in carrying off the lady and giving her the freedom nature meant her to enjoy I shall undoubtedly have closed the river for ever against myself.
With this he quite agreed, but if it was a simple matter of funds I could always be certain of his assistance to the end, and this had been his one Idea. Without more ado I continued You remember, Peru, that if we had any problems to settle in our younger days we always settled them by the toss of a coin. Lets leave it to dame fortune to decide who takes her. That is, of course, if she is agreeable to do so, if not let the lady decide whom she likes best. He sprang to his feet with a loud laugh saying dont joke, this is you probably know the most important Epoch of our lives, and yet you would gamble on an issue of this description. You have not changed one iota since you left me at college. I interrupted him here Sit down man and be calm. He obeyed me lighting a cigar and eyeing me intently. I had excited the Inka blood in him. He was thinking, but Indian like he kept mum. I took a nip of brandy and also lit a cigar and kept mum and also pretended to have dropped the conversation.
This continuing for some time I again broke the monotony by saying, Are you game (this was our old school challenge). He put out his hand without speaking. Lancashire Brokers style, I took it saying, Its a deal and for my part I think it a fair and square one. After a little thought he said he was forced to agree with me after all.
I now called my Faithfull boy Renchoro and walking out of hearing with him I explained matters to him, Of course I said it would be better to get away before sundown as I wished to show him where I intended to land and how the stealing of the Godess was to be done. He smiled largely and said it was a little risky but he would always be with me and was ready at any time. I cautioned him to keep silence among the boys who were not to know anything of course, but they must be sober and if he would see to the cleaning of the guns and giving out of the amunition and get all ready for the journey I would be pleased as I wanted to take advantage of the dark night especially as the moon would not rise till nearly midnight by which time I would have done the deed and we would be far on our way to the sea. Of course Isoga might follow us but he would never come up with us before we entered the big river, that of course depended on how we got on with the job. If we had to fight I said I can give Isoga a better beating than I did when he charged down on my steamboat and he would be very foolish to follow us. He smiled and began to get all things ship shape. I left it all to him.
I now bade a fond adieu to Efaningo and left him well supplied with liquor and he expressed his gratitude. Peru and I had a drink on the success of our venture and telling Renchoro to give the boys a livener we pulled down the river. I told them the time I expected to reach Ninas place and we were soon gliding down stream. The Ngombi or native harp was kept going to drive dull care away and we were about the happiest gang of thieves, I said to Peru, as imagination could picture, considering our intent. He laughed and declared what I had said was quite true but he wondered what our old college chums would think if they could see this play being inacted. We passed our time on the trip discussing the future of Peru which he declared was the richest country in the world in gold silver and precious and base metals and was as healthy a country to live in as you could get. Any climate you could wish for all the year round. We halted at the inlet of Azingo before sundown, where we dined and rested as we would surely have little or no chance of sleep between Ninas and the sea once we had the Godess on board.
It was about 8 p m when we resumed our journey and we all felt fit for anything. I pulled up at the small island of reeds and landing with Renchoro I showed him the path and likewise where he could hide himself and see and not be seen. I had all these things studied out, the distance to the sacred spring was about half a mile or a little more from the main river. I ordered him to keep the boys from landing and let them know nothing of our intent till they found it all out for themselves, in case of accident of course we knew what to do. He understood what I had said and played his part well. I had explained all to Peru so that he understood exactly his part in this one important act of his life.
On landing we found the place very quiet as they had just had a great cerimony, the invoking of Renungo the rain god who had finally after much supplication granted their request for early rain fall. Following the sacred chief one by one came the whole male portion of his attendants. They invited us to make ourselves at home and inquired if we had brought the musical box which they would very much like to hear. And Renchoro now appeared with a trayful of rum and old dom about as stupefying a mixture as one could drink, thanks to the advice of my old friend Mr Shuttz [Schiff?] it acted splendidly but of course he had no Idea what I wanted the liquor for. All fair in love and war is an old true saying. The musical box was brought in by Renchoro and we were soon having a royal time.
The liquor had its effect which was marvelous. The man who wore the big goggle-eyed mask and generally stood next to the Isoga was soon more than happy, we let them play away to their hearts content. The old Sacred Chief and master of ceremonies now asked when we were going to let him have it as he was sure it contained the music of many friendly spirits. I told him we would leave it till we returned which would be in about twelve days as we were going to Gaboon on business, and he could tell by that time if the spirits inside the box were to his liking. He felt overjoyed at our generocity and declared that I had already done much good by my visits to the temple as my presents had helped them out very much in their sacred work. I said I was quite willing to lend a helping hand at any time to such a good cause.
At this stage of the play Nina entered looking if possible more beautiful than before. I watched her eye the assemblage with a smile, we were all happy and smiling. I gave her the glad eye and then shut one without being noticed also raised one hand above my head containing a small blue silk handkerchief. She threw me a look I could not mistake and she also touched one eye. She had understood, she was ready any time. I ordered more drinks for the faithful and bade them all a good aurevoir, telling them I would be sure to call on my return. We now retired leaving the lot merrie as sandboys.
Once clear of the place I lost no time it was dark only what light the stars gave, and our knowledge of the surroundings guided us as we pulled away without making a single sound, and entering the reeds I jumped ashore. Renchoro took his stand where I had told him accompanied by ten rifle men. Peru remained in the boat with the remainder all ready for action on the call of Renchoro. I now crept slowly and noisesly to the place agreed upon by myself and the Godess. It was so dark I could just see her figure in white sitting on the bank. I threw some mud in the water and waited. I could hear her giving her female attendant orders to fetch something from the meeting house. I heard her maid walk away. Several moments after this the white object hit the water which was deep making a beautiful dive scarcely audable. I waited quite a few seconds but could see no motion of any kind but now a slight breathing struck my ear. Her head which I could now see quietly disappeared again. I crept to the point and waiting a few seconds out popped the head of the Godess. She held out her arm which I caught and still crouching she landed beside me. She took a few breaths for a second or two and quickly came to. She was a splendid diver.
We now crept noisisly forward keeping close to the ground and were soon out of danger of anyone seeing us from the other bank of the creek which widened here. I told her to rest a while but she was too excited to understand and was breathing heavily. Springing to her feet she ran for the boat at great speed, waving the stiletto she had drawn from her belt high above her head. I kept close to her, as she reached the rushes she fell heavily, unconscious, dropping the stiletto. I carried her to the boat and gently handed her to Peru, who placed her on the bunk in the small cabin forward. Renchoro and his men quickly boarded and we darted out into the river, heading for the opposite bank where the channel was wider and swifter.
Leaving Nina in charge of my friend I kept the night glasses on the mouth of the creek until we were well away past Isogas town and had also passed into the wide channel of the river. I saw no moving object and heard no sound, and as we moved at great speed down stream which was continually widening I made sail and made sure that no dangerous craft could follow. I was with sail and paddles working well the swiftest boat on the river. I felt supremely happy, I had won so far against the terrible despot Isoga who I knew would not dare to follow me, and this he well knew even if his people had now been aroused. I told the crew to take things easy and Renchoro to give them each a tot of the best brandy we had, and took one myself on my good luck in having made such an easy capture.
I now went to see how Nina was doing and was surprised to see her asleep in her wet clothes. Do you think she can possibly be dead he said, she has never breathed or moved. What, I said, never; I watched her closely but the light was dim. Anyway I would do my best to restore her. I could not loose the neck of her dress which was rather too tight round the lower part of her neck so I pulled out my hunting knife and slit the neck and chest part open so as to give her fresh air, if she was still in a faint. I then gently placed my hand on her heart which was beating away splendidly. I then put my ear close to her head and could hear her breathing quite regularly. Well, I said, what a rumour, she is breathing away quite splendidly, just as you would expect an angel to do, and her heart also is moving splendidly. I am a poor doctor I said but you are worse. Her dress was now partially dry so I threw over her a light eider down quilt and we left her in her deep sleep, closed the curtains and joined the crew. Can we speak now as loud as we like the boys asked. Yes, but dont wake up all the river, just do as you wish as we shall not stop anywhere till we reach the sea. Renchoro now made up a good lunch for the boys and we all enjoyed it. And we followed this up by tots and smokes I gave the crew a cigar each and told them to make merry and as long as they did not get drunk could have all the good liquor they wanted. They had done their part of the carrying off of the Godess in great style and I was proud of them. This greatly pleased them and they commenced to sing in a low voice to the music of the Engombi which sounded lovely on the water.
"I've written a double lot this week, Ma'am, I didn't want to lose me tangent by breaking off. George Bussey used to say the end of a book is the moment of delicacy. It'd never do now to roam away from the tangent.
"So?that'll be a double lot you'll be owing me to-day. But if next week will suit you better to settle?Excuse me. I know one's purse has moments of vacuum.
"Aye, the finale's the thing. But at all periods of composition you should be able to detract from the subject now and then, George Bussey says. Glance away from it and let the mind float free. Doesn't do just to say 'They were married on board ship.' To leave out some pretty little vision of the weather and the sea-birds would be to miss out one of the greatest ingredients of life, which is?natural environment.
"Aye, environment. In plain Anglo-Saxon, the place where you live. George Bussey says keep off the long words if you call yourself an Englishman. Well, I'm not asking anything better in the way of environment than the old Ivory. And get your change of outlook in Lancashire. Wherever I've roamed I'll always be content with that.
"India? Do I know India? I've never set foot in it, Ma'am. I should have thought the world as I've seen it was big enough for one book, without India. Not one word can I tell you to increase the sum of human knowledge about India. I'm giving you facts, as they occurred to me. Rightly handled, that'll be enough without??? No, on the subject of India I must remain dumb."
Mr Horn was hurt and rightly so.
"They tell me there are temples there. But hasn't Africa temples? Didn't I tell you about the one near Georgetown, somewhere opposite Parrot Island? Isn't there Zimbabwe, built by the Malagassies, a race of close texture with the Hindus, and the Incas of Peru? There's some on the Lake Chad road, too, like that of Georgetown. Who says we've no temples? If the Malagassies didn't get round to build that one at Georgetown then I'd say it was Moorish. Of the time of Boabdil el Chico of Spain after he was chased out by this Ferdinand and Isabella. That feller Washington Irving knows a good bit about Moorish history. An American but a thorough gentleman.
"And if it's temples you're wanting, what about that one I told you is up the S??? river? A flight of steps right up from the river. An amphitheatre at the top and big granite squares at the bottom, where you keep cool and look at the water or any sacrifice there may have been.
"Tom C??? and I used to go there for a bit of a rest from the gold. Take a bit of grub and our rifles - you had to be careful in those days when lions were jumping about in bunches up there. Aye, it was a beautiful spot for the imagination. Sure.
"Sheba's country I've heard it called. And some called it the Watch Walls of the Dead. Any amount of graves up there. We'd stumble on them in the thick grass and the bush. Made with a keystone so that no wild beast could rifle them. The contents always crumble when opened. Graves of the gold-seekers, that's what they are. There's always relics of gold-seekers somewhere about. Relics of their toil?old prospectors.
"Zimbabwe's a poor spot compared with that spot up the river where the quaggas cried from the walls and played up and down the stairway with their little hoofs echoing. Fierce creatures, but they like to sleep safe from the lions. They must 'a' been doing it for long enough?judging by the thickness of the dung at the top there. Funny echoes there?what with one thing and another. And nothing but the silence to listen to them and shout back at them.
"Only once I've heard sounds of reality there. I was coming up the river and couldn't make out what the cries and the shouting were from the river. 'Twas like the battle of Prestonpans, and I wasn't too well armed. I found out it was a circumcision taking place on the top there. They'd driven all the quaggas away. Hordes o' women and some priests or witch doctors making the noise to drown the shrieks of the little boys. A proper pandemonium.
"'Graves of the Gold-Seekers.' A snappy title that, if ever I'd thought to write about them. Look well in print. Oh, aye?don't you go giving out that Africa has no temples! If it's temples you're needing, just stay where you are. There's more than you think. Aye!
"Excuse me sounding somewhat harsh. I sometimes forget you're not my daughter. It's some time since I've had the privilege of pulling someone up a bit. My son's lying over in Mesopotamia there. . . . Yes, I've got a daughter but I'm not troubling her at present. Oh, aye, she's married. Got her own life to think of. In the States. . . .
"Yes, Ma'am, wanderer though I've been, a wanderer has time when he seeks the common lot. Sailors too, they'll not be content without marriage. 'Tis an instinct universal to worship virginity. Same as they do in the Isoga house. You'd never think such innocence could dwell in a Josh house. But an Isorga goddess must be a maid, same as the Virgin was. It sure is a world-wide instinct to worship a maid.
"Aye, even a sailor knows that. And while he is apt to live according to the dictates of human nature in the exercise of his calling, yet he'll be choicey enough in the matter of a wife. Why? Because all men reverence a virgin.
"There's traders too, who have their business in all lonely spots. They couldn't work with a sane mind if they didn't obey Nature and accept what she provides. No, Ma'am. I hope I don't debase your mind by any utterance of the Truth that's likely to occur to me as notable. The fact is that all men are subject to chance and it's not God, it's only some goll-darned girl that'll ever expect a sailor to have been something less than man in the exercise of his duty.
"Same with traders. I'm saying nothing about missionaries. They generally take a wife with them, by a wise provision of Nature. But traders?you may take it from me, Ma'am, that a man who's spent his life in building up commerce and empire in secluded spots of land or sea is allowed by Providence a bit more tether than the chap that's living at home next to the Sunday School and doing nothing for his country beyond a bit of insurance agency or selling ladies' stockings. And when he's ready for it, the sacrament of holy marriage to some sensible virgin is going to wash out and purify all his wild doings in foreign parts. Which it might not rightly be expected to do if he'd given way to human nature in Piccadilly or Pimlico. Or Victoria Street, Westminster.
"'Tis not too refined a subject but it needs expression if you can see your way to doing it without offending the American public. They're somewhat more choicey than the English. The Mayflower's always been a genteel influence in the pages of History."
CHAPTER 26: FINAL CHAPTER IS MISSING
. WEBJED: BILL HILLMAN .
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