DEDICATION To A. A. H.
Forgive me, old friend and fellow craftsman, if our book is in many respects different from what you had expected it would be. Fine and simple as is your own narrative, it yet cannot paint your own portrait in such detail as your conversations. I have, therefore, reproduced these as accurately as lay in my power to do, believing that the Unknown Reader (that shadowy figure beckoning in the background of all our literary work together in the last six months) would wish to see you clearly, not only as the boy-pioneer in West Africa, but as the embodiment of that man, attractive to all humanity, who "in his time plays many parts."
TRADER HORN: THE IVORY COAST IN THE EARLIES:
Tthe narrative of a boy trader's adventures in the Seventies, through which runs the strange thread that is the history ? meagre but all that is available ? of a young English gentlewoman. Trader Horn's own story follows, exactly as written by himself. At the end of each chapter Mrs. Lewis has added, in quotation marks, his conversations with her as she took them down at the time.
THIS is a true story of a real man. So real that I have thought it necessary to alter names here and there, including his own surname. The Christian names I have kept, being loth to part with them: the first so redolent of the pre-Norman days from which his spirit seems not yet to have emerged, and the second mounting guard, so to speak, over old half-buried instincts of the Catholic, and ready to see him safely through the door of Heaven when the more barbarous Alfred fails to impress Saint Peter.
In his own words:?"Aloysius? 'Tis a saint's name. It's our custom to give a lad two names. One to make his way through life with and the other to be bugled out when he knocks at Heaven's gate. That'll be the end of my travels. Unless there's room for roamers there too. One can always hope there's some forethought for human nature, be it Heaven or Hell. A feller that's been a prospector, always with his eye somewhere else than what he's standing on, won't be too agreeably placed on those golden floors they speak of."
When Aloysius Horn first swam into my ken I was about to settle down to a morning's work on the stoep. With notebook and pencil, it being then ten o'clock of a bright Tuesday, and peace in the air, I approached the doorstep full of the possibilities of Chapter Fourteen, which, before breakfast, had loomed very clearly. On the mat stood an old man whose footsteps, coming up the eight steps from the garden, I had not heard. He was simply there.
He held a cluster of wire kitchen goods in his hand, neatly made and shining coppery in the sun: gridirons, toast-forks and the like.
Regarding me with a mild, but, as I now know, an all-seeing eye which dwelt on my possibilities, he began the business of selling to a person not wanting to buy.
The battle was short. I pleaded a kitchen replete with toast-fork and gridiron. I said I was very busy. I maintained that it was my principle never to buy on the stoep, which was my only study.
With an abstracted eye on my notebooks he said mildly that it was a good habit and that he could well understand it. To show that his words were no idle boast he shouldered his bundle of goods and turned to the steps with a cheerful "good morning."
But of course the battle went to him. Flinging victory away, as England nearly always does when it is hers, I raised my voice to stop him.
"I believe I could do with a new gridiron." There was something I could not bear in seeing that ready acquiescence with failure. What a reward, I thought, for a man too courteous to argue. Too English to bargain, bully and browbeat; to wheedle, whine or weep.
I suppose he knew this was coming. As if it had been his cue in a play and he had retired to the wings for a moment, he turned back and off-loaded the wire goods at my feet.
"Why, certainly, Ma'am. It is natural to all to experience a change of mind. Over little things as over great.
And both you and I are no more than children of nature."
That mild voice, rising, as I now know, from a past as infinitely full of repose, of restlessness, of action, of hidden hoards?spectres of bones and wreckage?from the Past as the sea itself: as full, if so I may put it, of the quality of timelessness, that quality which keeps every roamer, from Ulysses to Columbus, and from Columbus to?to Aloysius Horn, awash between year and year as if the shores of Time were forever theirs. Cradled like gulls, safe on the fiercest sea. Leaving all to the current and to the battering winds which are the breath of life to such as they.
Even after taking the gridiron I again nearly let him go. My head was full of Chapter Fourteen. My notebooks and pencil felt full of life, leaping, as they say, like the child unborn.
But it was not for Chapter Fourteen they leapt and smote. I see now that they were trying to attract my attention to greater opportunities.
We had said our mutual thanks and adieux. The old man's steps were again turned to the road when he paused and said: "I could tell you how to make oatcakes if you'd like me to, Ma'am. You'd find it useful for that thing you've bought."
It was at that moment I said to myself: "This man is an artist. Having successfully sold a thing, he is not basely content with the money. It is necessary to him to put a sort of bloom and finish on the transaction which will lift it from commerce into art. From barter to friendliness."
I listened to the only way of making oatcake, told with such zest and love that I said: "You must be Scotch."
"Born thirteen miles out of Glasgow, Ma'am. I should say you were perhaps Scotch yourself? You are fair."
"English," I said, briefly.
"Oh." The old visiter eyed me closely. "In that case?"
There was a pause.
"When I say I was born in Scotland, Ma'am, it's not to say I'm a Scotchman myself.* (*In that delightful book Cambridge Cameos the Master of Christ's reminds us that Charles Kingsley was born in Scotland, Devonshire or the West Indies according to the audience he was addressing. The same diplomatic instinct will surely, then, be forgiven in an old, friendless man, intent on the serious business of "seizing food" as he puts it, in a town hard as gold. We are further told by Sir Arthur Shipley that in a biography of Mr. Gladstone the reader is assured that the great man "was born more or less in Scotland." So Aloysius Horn, also a Lancashire man from the day of his birth near Preston, lied in distinguished company.)
They're a poor lot, taken all in all. Lancashire's always been good enough for one of the old Fist-and-Spear. My name's Horn. Aloysius Horn of the Fist-and-Spear."
I bowed and told him mine.
He sighed, as if this exchange of decent civilities had set something moving in his brain. His eyes, those farseeing, expectant eyes of age, gazed through me mildly. Washed free of definite colour, as is the way with the old, they were still large and clear. Contemplative eyes, set in large sockets. Calmly observant, they yet seemed fixed on the invisible.
"Aye. The old Fist-and-Spear. Ma'am, I could tell you? I've seen?"
He came nearer, his outstretched hand all but touching my shoulder, his face gone under some influence of which I had not yet the secret. I know now that it was the rising pressure of a soul making its last effort to express itself before the walls of age and senility closed in, to leave its shape and texture in a vanishing world.
He came closer as he spoke, looking as Columbus might have looked as he begged from door to door with his head full of the spaces of land and sea. The waxen skin and high, wide skull stretched over with parchment and a few gray hairs; the white beard, longish, narrow and pointed; visionary eyes that had seen a world and seen it whole?an imperishable picture.
I stood still as the Wedding Guest; or as when a bird comes nearer than usual?say a heron, as you stand on the banks of a stream.
"Africa, Ma'am. Africa?as Nature meant her to be, the home of the black man and the quiet elephant. Never a sound, Ma'am, in a great landscape at noon?only the swish of elephants in grass. Lying still there in the water, too,?and me the first white man (nay, I was a lad) to pry upon their happiness.
"Bound by the rites of Egbo, Ma'am, to be blood brother of cannibals. Look at my thumb, cut when I was eighteen in a fight with a savage and never grew again. Me? I've seen the skulls in the Josh House. Blood brother to the priests, where no white man had ever been until I came . . . But I was only a lad.
"And I knew Nina T???, the cruellest woman in West Africa. . . . So they say. So they say. But her hair was dark auburn. . . .
"Goddess she was, in the Josh House there. . . .
"Why, I was only a lad when I took that other poor lady's body down the river to try and get safe burial for it at Kangwe. Well of course they'd never seen a white woman before, up at Samba Falls. Very natural they should need such a unique body for muti. What won't any of us do for magic? We call it luck now and that's the only difference. A hundred miles I took her, and no mishap from the arrows.
"A lad of eighteen has a natural reserve of chivalry. Aye, it grows like a flower in him then?"
His voice slowed off, as if he stopped to look at something in his mind more intently. Something that was incredibly far away.
"Why, Ma'am, you may not believe it but I can talk French:?Oui, Monsieur, je baragouine ce jargon-la toujours assez bien pour me tirer d'affaires dans le commerce."
He spoke like a parrot, as if he had been using the same phrase on many doorsteps.
"French, Ma'am. A language for the meagre-hearted. If God ever made a worse colonist than the French He hasn't let me know about it. It takes more than a little straw hat and a cigarette and a thimbleful of absinthe all set out in a neat little office to open out Africa. . . .
"Aye, when a young lad first hears the dawn-cry of the gorilla and covers his ears . . . And when he sees slaves?women?
"Seventeen I must have been. Or was it sixteen?I can't remember clear.
"But I must not keep you from your work, Ma'am. I'll be getting along. Good day to you."
I came to from my swound and hastily rang the front door bell, which was somewhere near my right ear. When Ruth appeared, my coloured housekeeper and friend, I whispered "Tea, please, Ruth. Very strong, and don't pour it out. This gentleman will prefer to pour it out himself. Bread-and-butter, too?the home-made."
The old visiter was faltering forlornly on the edge of the steps, the vision all washed out of his eyes. When I said to him "Won't you stay and have some tea?" he said, "Why, it sure would be very pleasurable," and sank down on the steps with a vast sigh of pleasure.
No, of reprieve.
Or was it the sigh of the artist at the moment of achievement.
I sat down beside him and said "Mr. Horn?your address, please. And can you make it convenient to come here and talk next week?"
The compact was made that, once a week, instead of trailing round with wire goods to the doors of vulnerable housewives whose husbands were away in town, Aloysius Horn should come and talk for an hour or two, earning a little more than could be made from a day's sales. All this six months ago. The result of our talks is in this book and in others to come.
Just as he rose to go my eye fell on the shining gridiron and a sudden thought struck me. More than a thought, a suspicion.
"Mr. Horn," I said, "you have told me how to make oatcakes, but no one could make them on an open grid like this."
"Why, no, Ma'am, I admit the truth of that. 'Twould be against the law of gravitation if you took it literally." He spoke soothingly. "But thinking you might be from the Land o' Cakes, I thought it would please. I have picked up a considerable amount of knowledgable stuff in my wanderings, and if you'll give me the loan of a pencil I'll draw Botha's portrait for you."
He bent over my notebook for a moment.
"There you are, Ma'am. That's a bit of wisdom saved me an empty stomach now and again when Botha was fashionable. Smuts was never the rage in South Africa as Botha was. A feller'd never touch the heart as Botha did. Excuse me if I keep the pencil a moment longer. I'll draw you a pipe made from the beak of an albatross. All the go at one time they were amongst us sailors. No fanciful lad'd go ashore without one."
"But I thought you didn't kill the albatross if you wanted luck?"
"Only on the homeward voyage, that is. When I was a lad any sailor would kill one on the voyage out. But not me. I was always one for the preservation of Nature when humanly possible. And believe me, Ma'am, when a lad that's seen nothing bigger than the gulls and herons o' Lancashire first beholds that great white apparition of beauty men call Albatross sailing the southern elements he'll not be the one to drain it of breath. Six feet o' wafting snow?"
He began the descent of the steps.
"Good day to you, Ma'am. I must not outstay my welcome. I often suspect I'm getting somewhat childish. What with one thing and another."
He paused half-way down.
"I often think it was a happy fad o' Nature to throw a bright light on boyhood's days as you're getting old. Aye, she jumbles up the perspective a bit when you're over seventy and seen what I've seen. But it's all for the good of man. When you're in a lodging house at a shilling a day in the Golden City and find your own food, it's good to have your surroundings dimmed a bit or you might feel disposed to give way to complaint, which I should be sorry to do. 'Tis no gentleman's way to give way to anything but philosophy."
We had now reached the gate. He closed it carefully after him, raised his hat which, old and crusted, yet had a certain air of dog about it, and crept uprightly away, eyes on the ground, with the smooth and careful gait of some old men.
I returned to my table and wrote the notes now used here.
For the first two or three weeks this old visiter fluttered round in a circle of subjects like one, as he himself said, somewhat childish. He repeated himself over and over, as the aged will, forgetting what he had told me.
"Egbo, Ma'am? I've been blood brother to the cannibals. No need to say been. I still am. Nothing destroys the bond but death. Cannibals . . . The most moral race on earth. The women chaste and the men faithful. Aye, I've lived amongst 'em like a brother, a young lad clean and safe. Safer than what he'd 'a been in London and other centres given over to civilization. Victoria Street, Westminster and so on. If you doubt what I say, look at this thumb. An inch shorter than the other. Never grew, after the fight I had on the Ogowe River. . . .
"Why, I can speak French, if you'll believe me Ma'am:?Oui, Monsieur, je baragouine ce jargon-la toujours assez bien pour me tirer d'affaires dans le commerce."
"A poor lot, the French. Dogs in the manger. Snap up a bit o' good land half the size o' Europe and stand yapping over it for their taxes and duties. So taken up with yapping they forget to develop it.
"Did I tell you I'd heard the gorilla first when I was a lad of seventeen? Or was it eighteen . . . He's mad, they say. The natives'll always tell you he's mad. Something shaped in his brain that's similar to the mistakes in the brain of a madman. Nature's always got a hankering after experiments.
"Ma'am, did I mention to you that I've seen a white woman goddess of Isorga? Nina T??? her name. But best not mention that name. I've no wish to betray the tragedies of a noble English family. A handsome girl. Auburn . . . her hair was. Dark auburn. Seventeen I was. Or was it eighteen. . . ."
It was not until the third or fourth visit that the idea came to me how much less wasteful of time it would be for the old man to write his adventures in his own way and for me to devote two hours or so of his weekly visit in making notes, not of his adventures so much as of his outlook on life, and all sorts of experiences which would never come into any written account of his doings on the West Coast: and to use such notes as a sort of chorus between his chapters, somewhat after the manner of Mrs. Markham's History.
The plan worked well. All unconsciously I hit upon the key to unlock an extraordinary memory which the struggle for life, as age advanced, had almost closed up forever. How nearly lost it was will be gauged by the fact that even at the fourth and fifth meeting he began our talk by reminding me?as if I had never heard of them on the previous occasions?of the four or five things branded on his brain as a youth: Egbo, Nina T???, the wicked French, gorillas, his shortened thumb, he still wove into a vivid monologue, varying the order in which they came into his mind and seeing more and more of the detail of the past as he dwelt upon it.
Sometimes a look came in his eyes as if he had met, in his memory, some old face or scene he had never thought to see again. For instance, it was not till the third visit that he remembered Du Chaillu's musical box and compass. He had begun with Nina T??? "Aye, she gave me the warning that I was to be attacked. She stood on the bank and I was in the old Pioneer. Livingstone's boat that had been. At the engine I was standing and my men all in proper formation along the bank in their canoes. She stood there and called me to come ashore. 'It's not safe for you,' she said. Aye, she remembered a little English. A strange look she gave me. Eighteen I was. Perhaps seventeen . . . Did you know I can speak French, Ma'am? Oui, Monsieur . . . 'cré nom de Dieu, puis que je vous dis qu'il n'y a rien á declarer!
"Aye, but the rite of Egbo's a safer accomplishment than French when you're hunting ivory. French is a language writ in water on the earth's surface. Water and scent. And if the English in pursuit of top-dog happen to have left a little bloody writing here and there, there's no man that is a man but'll agree 'tis a better medium to write in than this chypre, as they call it, and their little dregs of absinthe. . . . I found du Chaillu's musical box in one of the chief's huts up there. Musical box and his compass. There was still a bit of a tinkle in it when I saw it. Trovatore or something. Picture of a lady in one of these chignons. There's a weakness, Ma'am, in all dago music, and never more so than when heard in a cannibal's hut.
"Tis notably thin stuff. But, as magic, a notable addition to voodoo in that part of the world. That and the compass he left. Aye, they feared that little trembling finger more than the sounds in the musical box. Too quiet to be very reassuring. . . . The mariner's compass. One of Nature's discoveries that'll never be commonised by the sons of men. Aye, something above the edicts of the mechanical."
If regular once a week talking unlocked the past and admitted me to a strange jumble of memories of which nothing was ever begun or ended, it is very certain that the regular writing down of his adventures on the Ivory Coast brought back the mechanism of a vanishing intellect. Just as artificial respiration may bring back the breath and the life, so did the use of pencil and paper induce life to return to the dying intellect. The assurance that what he wrote would be read with interest brought back whole tracts of memory, and of knowledge lost for want of use.
He wrote on Mondays, a day when every man left the doss-house after the strain of Sunday, and when there was no one about his path and about his bed and spying out all his ways: ways which, to those who only knew him as Zambesi Jack, the old wire seller, must often have seemed those of a madman. Now, after six months of it, the writing fills his whole mind. It is a tremendous obsession, this saving and cherishing of memories that have flowed so near the edge of oblivion. Not only has the new task filled his mind in the daytime but it wakes him in the night. Taps him on the brain with some recovered picture of youth, some old song or line of poetry which gives him no rest until he has recorded it.
"Ma'am, I've had a great loss. I woke in the night?I suppose it must have been a dream?and saw us all lively in our beds in the dormitory at St. Edwards. On a summer night it must ha' been?didn't seem quite dark yet. There was a boy I knew up in the corner there?I knew his face and I should 'a' got his name in a minute?sitting up and singing a song we all knew in those days?and I was just beginning to wake up and sing it, to get it right and look for the matches. . . .
"That feller in the next bed thought I was having a dream and the hollering he made to wake me up put it all out of my head. Quite a nice feller, a bricklayer that's out o' work from drink, but lacking in imagination. It's a notable loss to the book. Bright as a picture it all was, until I woke up and felt myself in the dark. Beds about me sure enough but not occupied by boys. Aye, they've gone again, into this so-called limbo of forgetfulness."
Another day the loss was a more serious one.
"I was just listening to Tommy Bamber describe the fight off Galveston. He was hidden in the withies along the shore?and a feller comes in drunk and wakes us all up knocking things over in the dark. . . . Methylated always makes 'em so silly. Not like authorised spirits. It's only a fancy drink for the demi-monde. Ladies with yellow hair and apt with hysterics. . . . But it might come again to me if I think about it closely when I fall asleep."
In such chancey ways has this book grown.
The arrival of my colleague once a week, with a roll of eight to a dozen foolscap sheets closely written in pencil (his week's work) and with all a writer's restlessness to see its effect on a reader, and the writer's irresistible desire to map out the next chapter, became almost as big a landmark in my week as in his. That next chapter: seeing it always in scenes and phrases that had taken possession of the mind; scenes that have been his for sixty years, lit up in the wane of life by words and phrases that often filled him with a blaze of excitement as he spoke them aloud to his audience. Yet never did his words and phrases retain that same living quality when the time came for him to pin them down to paper. Elusive as his dreams, they only fell out unconsciously during speech, that speech that was like the release of a long-dammed torrent.
I can see why words which came naturally to him in speech appear so rarely or so transformed in his writing. For one thing, the atmosphere of doss-house was pressing heavily all about him. Even the literal atmosphere of doss-house, in this country, is one of extremes, too hot or too cold. Without the encouraging environment, the proximity of a listener, he was like flint without steel. For another thing, he would, at his age, entertain an old-fashioned idea that the written word must be elegant rather than colloquial.
It is no accident, this Victorian style of his. As will be seen in the conversations, he thinks a very great deal about Style. And that is why I have altered nothing in his written narrative, but have left it untouched, as I, or any writer, would wish my work untouched. To have written, at his age, and in such surroundings, with an empty pocket (and, I fear, at first often an empty stomach) such a vigorous account of his life on the Ivory Coast fifty years ago, is achievement enough without any officious painting of the lily or gilding the gold on the part of his chronicler. But when I realised that his best literary quality is in speech rather than in the written word I certainly then began to take notes of his conversation much more carefully. If I have presented our conversations in the form of monologue rather than dialogue it is because, by repressing my own share, I have been better able to get the tone of Aloysius Horn when in full spate.
Spate is the word. No words of mine will make clear what a tremendous outpouring this weekly talk of an hour or two has been. It is an outpouring of a past into which not a soul remained in the world who wished to gaze with sympathy or interest. And if it is a past which not always?some may say not often?reflects the tranquil scenes of the virtuous life; and if at times the reflection is distorted or mistaken by reason of the great distance of years over which he is looking backwards?and over what leagues of land and sea, what worlds of faces, black and white, much will surely be forgiven an old man who had already prepared to meet Death in the dumb way of the patient poor, life all unspoken in his breast like a saga unsung.
Whatever his shortcomings, whatever his record, Aloysius Horn is no sniggerer. I have never heard him laugh with cynicism, nor speak with any expression of slyness or a meaning look. The double entendre is invariably accidental in his speech, and is only remarked as such by myself and the reader. Had it not been so this literary partnership could not have traversed so many strange byways and entered occasionally such doubtful company. One or two of the old man's experiences and expressions of opinion in this book were told to my husband on days when I was absented during part of the visit: prefaced, in his unfailingly punctilious manner, by some such speech as: "You will understand, Sir, being of scientific turn as you are, that there are some things no gentleman could speak of to a lady, which yet should be trumpeted to the world."
My poor old friend keeps his Victorian illusions by the simple expedient of never reading.
Our weekly conversation has always followed a meal prepared, as much as is possible in this country, in the English tradition. Grilled chops, nice raw steaks, cold beef and pickles, potatoes baked in their jackets, thick pea soup, buck?I should say, venison?with jelly, Cheddar cheese. All this is part of the scheme I followed of loosing an English tongue. Ruth, my cook, so caught the spirit of the adventure that one day she said:?"What about stewed pears, Missis? Do you think they would be English enough for Mr. Horn?"
"Ruth," I said, "it is an inspiration. But they must taste of cloves and have a faint aroma of orange peel about them. We used to have them at Sunday night supper after church when I was young and it was autumn, and I feel sure Mr. Horn must have had the same. They might remind him, too, of family prayers and prayer-books lying about the hall when you go to bed feeling a bit excited and yet melancholy."
"Yes, Missis" said Ruth, and returned to the kitchen to try and capture that Victorian flavour.
Tobacco and a weekly tot of brandy have also played their part in unlocking the past; from the day, a very hot one, on which I said to the old man as he crept up the steps, "You look very gone-in to-day. I think you'd better have a little brandy to pick you up." To which he replied: "Ma'am, I should appreciate an incentive. We get nothing but this so-called tea and coffee. Poor stuff, when you're seeking an inspiration. I should sure appreciate a more useful drink. From Ben Jonson downwards the use of an incentive has been recognised as nothing less nor more than natural in the interests of literature."
But long before he had this classic habit "'a babbled o' green fields" as the old do. The fields, for Aloysius Horn, are not only green but must be growing in good Lancashire earth. Yes, 'a babbles of Lancashire. With all the passion of the exile caught in the meshes of old age, his eyes forever turn to his county. The end of the rainbow, his span of life, stands, to his eyes, in Lancashire soil, touching the gold of Lancashire hearts. The other end is on the banks of an African river in the gorgeous peace of fifty years ago, a peace whose primeval depth was still unrippled.
Please note: the misspellings, punctuation and grammar errors in this book are present by choice of the book's editor, Ethelreda Lewis. ?RJW
EDUCATED at St. Edward's College, Liverpool, where I met as young companions Julian Venesuela of Venesuela South America, Little Peru, son of the Peruvian President, Etienne Vangoche of Bogota, two nabobs from the cream of the Negro Republic Hiti in the West Indies, other sons of the most prominent people in Brazill, likewise the Count of Zeres in Spain (where the most of our best sherry wine comes from), we were I think without a doubt the most cosmopolitan group of youngsters ever gathered together for commercial education. I was only eleven years of age when I entered the school, some of my schoolmates of the same age, but I believe the old Idea in mixing the young Britisher with his brothers of every clime was to make him cosmopolitan and naturally we soon learned each others language.
I was not long in the college when I could speak Spanish, Portuguese and French and I also picked up their characteristics which are diametracally opposite to those of the slow young Anglo-Saxon. Their maturity is quicker and they do not think as we do, coming at hasty conclusions and therefore hard to manage as a community. Most of these lads became Famous in the History of their various countries as they Received impressions of better judgement than their own and this I can assure you has been a world's factor for the best, as far as the American Republics are concerned. We were taught French, Latin Greek, in fact had a regular Oxford tuition by first class professors. However, nothing my parents could say could stop my ardour for travel and I chose the West Coast of Africa which was the best field for adventure I had read of as the interland was practically unknown, Slavery was rife as well as Piracy, the Animals, such as Gorilla, Elephants, and many others were known to exist but their habits characteristics, etc. had only been guessed at and the mistakes made in the true description of the gorilla were many and I may say to this day he still bears a character he in no way deserves.
We will now say Good buy for ever to College life and associates and transfer ourselves to the deck of the good ship Angola which was a steel vessel built regardless of cost specially for West Coast trade used both steam and sail, classed A1 at Lloyd's and was the Commodore boat of many ships owned by Hatton and Cooksons an old and rich firm of traders in fact by far the largest and Richest on the West Coast. Their cphere of influence extended from Bonny Brass old Calabar also up the Niger River as far as trade had any influence. Also all coast ports along Cameroons, etc., embracing Balanga, Eloby Island, Gaboon, exactly under the equator, Ogowe River, later explored by Count de Brazza, whom I often met when older.*
*It is obvious that in his narrative Mr. Horn has run all his experiences together with only a vague reference to date. My impression is that he arrived on the West Coast about 1871 or -72 at the age of eighteen. That he spent more years than he can now remember in learning the rubber and ivory trade, both as a clerk and in actual travel on the rivers, and that at the time he met de Brazza he would be about twenty-three or twenty-four and well away from boyhood. In a man who has never spent more than a few years in one spot and who is now looking back over a crowded vista of half a century, this vagueness is hardly to be wondered at. Still less if we remember how elusive a date can be, even in a well-ordered house lived in for a life-time.This river is the river I traded and hunted on for many years, is the home of the Gorilla, in fact Pongo was shipped from there and was sold by the Capt of the Angola Capt Thomson, whom I sailed from Liverpool with for the sum of 500 (five hundred pounds sterling). This was the first gorilla which ever reached Europe alive and lived for quite a time in Germany being resold to a German firm. The Ogowe River empties into the Atlantic Ocean one days sail south of the equator, and from this river came most of the valuable cargoes of Ivory as much as 50,000 pounds weight being shipped in one season. The Elephants are mostly hunted by the M'pangoes, Fans and Ashibaa who speak the same language. These tribes inhabit the north bank of the Ogowe River nearly to its source and are all Cannibals. I lived amongst them for many years. I lived amongst them for many years but for safety Sand Banks and Islands were the only safe camping grounds. Boys were supplied by the firm I represented, Hatton and Cooksons, and we were well supplied with rifles mostly the Old Snyder type, a few other rifles and shot guns were always kept handy in case of surprise Attacks, and we were frequently called on to defend ourselves in this uncivilized country. These cannibals are by far the finest type of all the Negroes I ever met are good hunters fine workers and have no slaves. They are also very moral and I never knew a cannibal woman who was not more than faithful to her husband and children. I made many good friends among these men and have had many a tip to be on my guard, when the man who gave this warning invariably risked his life in doing so. In fact they never forgot a friend and would come long distances to sell me their Ivory and Ball Rubber. They would also take a goodfor in writing for a bag of salt or a keg of powder. And of course they always got what was owing to them.
After bidding a fond Adieu to my brother I had time to look around the good ship S. S. Angola. The last of the cargo was being stowed away and all hands were busy getting things shipshape. The Owners gave a last word to the Captain shook hands with all of us and departed. A few minutes only were spent in clearing the dock side and accompanied with a shower of seagulls we steamed out into the Mersey. Liverpool was soon left behind with her forest of ships, and as the shades of evening closed over us we were well away. Sails were bent and with a full head of steam a stiff breeze with us we soon outdistanced the many sailing craft and steamers which were bound for every clime and Port. I retired early and on waking in the morning fit as a fiddle I found the decks washed and scrubbed, roaps coiled, everything in place. Our friends the seagulls were busily engaged picking up titbits, thrown over from the wellstocked Cooks galley. Two of the largest of these birds one wih a damaged beak and one minus a few wing feathers were always nearer the vessels stern than the rest and to me they seemed to fly with less effort than the young ones which moved their wings more in their efforts to snatch from the sea a little food before the older birds had it. As the Welsh coast was kept in sight we saw many points of interest. The next day the foreign bound ships became fewer but we had a good view of some Cornish fishing boats engaged in catching Pilchards. A Mail Boat bound for the Cape of Good Hope signalled us, we raced her but found her leaving Funchal Bay just as we entered.
There is a charm about this land of Eternal Sunshine which makes an impression on the mind of a Britisher as no Other place can. On first nearing Madeira you pass three Islands called the Three Deserters a grand name whoever found them, mantling surfs and spray mount the islands at all times sometimes reaching as high as fifty or sixty feet, the towering peaks are nearly always sunlit and numerous seabirds make their homes amongst the crags and cliffs of the higher summits which are always sunclad after sunrise. A glorious picture, the cliffs of Madeira, also suntipped, can be seen on passing, casting glimpses of green and blue velvet from the verdure growing on these cliffs, the beautiful lines of which are a Gift of Nature to this Island alone.
The Captain and I were the first to land. The telegrams for L'pool (Alls Well etc) were delivered. Two ponies which were waiting we mounted and after Visiting Reeds Hotel the principal one in Madeira at that time, we rode up the Mountain Road to Mr. Latours [the Governor?] (pronounced Latas). The Captain who was an old and frequent visitor introduced me to Mrs. Latour and her daughter who was a little older than myself. The Mansion was built in the Old Portuguese style by this old Aristocratic family and was charming in the extreme Cool at all times both in Build and furnishings, nestling in the cool shade of the mountains from which Morocco-wards one had a fine view of the city of Funchal and plus that a fine sea View. With a kind invitation to come and stay with them at any time we bade Adieu to this kindhearted people and after riding the steep zigzag roads of the Mountain were soon on Board our trusty vessel which by this time had taken a supply of vegetables, fresh water etc. The Birdsellers and traders were quickly moved off the boats deck, the anchor raised and we put out to sea immediately. Quite a number of singing birds mostly canaries had been purchased by the crew for barter and exchange at the West Coast ports we were about to visit. The Peack of Teneriffe next came in sight to the East of us, we passed several boats bound for Europe who invariably signalled us. Next we ran into shoals of flying fish, many of these falling on deck and were taken to the Cooks galley, they taste exactly like mackerel, and can only fly till their wings are dry. Mother O'Carys Chickens next began to follow us. They are found in Equatorial Africa and are said to make their homes on wreckage they are like swallows and are swift flyers. Several Ocean Eagles floating high in the air with their long wings stretched and motionless volplaned like airoplanes and were steering towards the West Indies wither the sailors told me they were bound. They fly swiftly and continuously. The sailors say no man knows where they nest.
Cape Palmas was the next place of interest. The Palm trees show well out on the point of the Cape and are a Landmark for sailors. The Coast is low while a fringe of surf ruffles it and make landing dangerous. Sailing southward I could not make out much sign of life only a few seabirds followed us while several large sharks patrolled the ocean and can be seen several miles away, as the back fin and tail every now and then shows out of the water like the sails of a small boat. The heat of the sun kept us under the awnings which were stretched aft and forward but in spite of this the skin over my neck arms and face began to peel off and I was gradually receiving a tan which grew stronger till I had lost all signs of the rosy complection I had left England with. I felt overjoyed when we reached Grand Cess on the Kroo Coast where we cast anchor at early Dawn about one mile from the shore, and fifteen minutes after firing the bow gun the Kroo boys began to come off and make things interesting during the three howers we stayed. Their canoes are well shaped for surf riding and danced like so many corks on the surface of the water. A large Canoe now came alongside with the Chief on board. He brought presents of palm Cabbages cut from the top of the palm trees and tasting exactly like cabbage when cooked, he also brought palm butter from freshly boild palm nuts and we had palm oil Chop for breakfast, a beautiful dish which was greatly relished by the passengers. The Kroo boys about three hundred were engaged to take the place of boys returning from various posts and we distributed them commencing with the River Niger and the last lot were put ashore at Gabenda at the mouth of the Congo. Each gang of ten boys had their own head man or foreman. The Boys from Grand Cess were the finest body of men I ever saw in any country, muscular and well-built and splendid workers, they were never known to complain, always laughing and joking and caused no trouble whatever. The crew of the good ship Angola were now replaced by Kroo boys who handled everything like born sailors and replaced the whites who were put to work on easier jobs like washing winches, splicing ropes for slings, sailmaking etc. The boys returning from other parts of Africa were paid off on the return of S. S. Angola mostly in powder and flint lock guns as they were at war with the Liberian Colony owned by the Government of the U. S. A. joining the Kroo coast on the south, and many a yarn of their battles with the Yankee boys were doled out to us. All Kroo boys were tattooed with a broad blue Strype which extends from the top of the forehead to the nose, they all have two top centre teeth filed at an angle so that they could easily be known if they were captured by the slavers who would resort to all kinds of tricks to get them on board their schooners.
A lively trade was carried on during the time we were anchored with the natives who brought curios carved canoe paddles and all kinds of native made utensils. All the boys engaged were stood in line and were given English names such as Flying Fish, Bottle of Beer, Pugnose, Mainsale, etc, they likewise received a number. This being done the gun was fired, the Chief retired and the rest of his following lowered their purchases to the canoes below and then dived overboard. The anchor was run up and we steamed away leaving this laughing Crowd of nacked Africans behind us as we sailed Southward. The land was still low, in the distance a few palmclad hills were visible with stretches of rough grass. The small inlets where mangrove fringed the banks which were faced with golden sands, were played on by brightest sunlight, the small waves and surf beating them shone like silver and had a charm which lent beauty to the landscape.
After rounding Cape three points down and leaving the Ashantee and Gold Coast behind us we steamed to Bonny on the river of that name, one of the many Mouths of the famous Niger River. Here we anchored and immediately began to discharge cargo for the Companys Agent, Mr. Knight. The most powerful Chief in that part of the country Oka Jumbo of Bonney now came to pay us a visit, accompanied by a large retinue comprising several chiefs the sons of this Old King. They were well dressed in European clothes and some of them spoke Good English, having been taught by several roving sailors. They were more than friendly with me as I was the youngest trader they had ever seen. Oko Jumbo wanted me to stay in his family circle offering me all kinds of inducements. These African Nabobs drank Champaign copiously.
H. M. S. Consul now put in an appearance and several topics were discussed such as the war between Oko Jumbo and the river chiefs who were interfering with the free exit of palm oil which was by far the most important trade on all the west coast of Africa at that time more than half a century ago. Although this African Potent was said to own many thousands of slaves, he was generous and goodhearted, and stood well in the eyes of the British Govt. Some years before this an old Bonney Chief is said to have sacrificed three hundred slaves in one day because a slave had the audacity to shoot a parrot in a large sacred tree which stands alone on the right bank of Bonney River and is looked on with awe by the natives. Several sailing craft mostly schooners sailed by us upriver-bound, whilst others returned as the tide changed. This is I think the most pestilential and fever-stricken coast in the whole world and has received the well-merited name of the White Mans Grave. It was not by any means an uncommon occurrence for ships to return from upriver with all white hands down with fever, Genuine Blackwater. Here is the home of a native secret society called Egbo and woe betid anyone who offends an Egbo man. I will describe to you later some of the inner secrets of these societies which are Truly terrifying.
"How do you like it, Ma'am? Writing's always been a bit of a furore with me. Writing and roaming. Some's born with one thing and some another and I was born with the gift of roaming. Aye. But there's always something calls you home. And when home has had its way with you, that other voice is heard that's only heard in the ears of some races. Wanderlust is as compact a word as any. The Germans, enemies though they've been, will in the ultimate end of things be firmer friends for us than the Frenchmen. The Teutons and us English all speak an understandable language. I'd as lief make an entente with the apes as with France. An ape is surely God's picture of the unstable man, no doubt put up by Providence as a warning to all and sundry. Aye.
"What did the French do in Africa? Make not much more impression on it than a tree-full of monkeys. Wouldn't work themselves and shied stones at those who did. All those heavy duties . . . No trade possible . . . They were always glad enough to see an Englishman plant his vine or his fig-tree?in an allegorical manner of speech, meaning ivories and rubber, excuse me?and then down they'd come and take full advantage of what they'd never 'a' done for themselves.
"Such a thing, now, do you say, Ma'am, as a sacred tree on the West Coast? [I had recently read The Emperor Jones.] Why, sure. The Ju-Ju tree is what they'll have no liberties taken with. Three hundred slaves sacrificed for shooting a parrot in a Ju-Ju tree. Aye, they make no bones about the tree being sacred. A fine upset it must 'a' made. 'Tis an error to imagine that Ancient Britain had the monopoly of tree-worship. It's a notable fact that there's no worse savagery springing from religion in Africa to-day than what we ourselves enjoyed in the hey-day of the Druids. Aye. The black man's a fearful savage we say, when we see him crucify a man head down. Head down, and with one leg lower than the other. Then off with his head, and bowls set for the blood. Eighteen I might 'a' been. A lad receives a terrible imprint at eighteen, and Lancashire far from sight . . . But when we cry 'Savage!' we're forgetting the stone of sacrifice still standing on the hills of England on which white men and yellow-haired women were killed by white men for the benefit of religion. Cruel method it was, too?breaking the spine across it like a stick against your shins. I don't remember seeing any place of sacrifice in Lancashire?the vikings were not much troubled with gods and other superstitions?but there's quite a few over in Yorkshire, I'm told, and in North Wales where the Druids were rife. A rough lot, over in Yorkshire. Cross the Odda from one side and you'll not know the language. Something barbaric about it.
"You like my first chapter, Ma'am? I thought it would sure tickle the public to hear what a tropical lot we were at St. Edward's. Novelty's what they want in America if not in England. A lot of the names seem to escape me, however. Sometimes when I wake up and find myself laffing and talking with some of 'em I'll just think of it but if I'm not smart it'll fly away. 'Tis like capping a butterfly. There was that feller whose father owned the pitch lakes at Trinidad?rich as Croesus he was. Whether 'twas he or Little Peru used to have a guardian come up from London twice a year?I, forget. Nice gentlemen, 'd take a party of us to the confectioner's for pastry and ginger-beer. Or hire a landau for the afternoon. Then there was another feller's guardian, nothing would suit but taking two of us out sailing. It was sure more of a treat then roaming the town with a full stomach that was more than likely to cause trouble. Shipowners' sons from the ports of the world, a good many of those fellers, with agents at Lloyd's to keep 'em supplied. They'd come over, some of 'em, such little fellers, looking not too easy in their foreign-cut clothes, and speaking no English. I sure felt pity for them sometimes, and me with all Lancashire for a home, and Frea not far away. But the matron was a lady of kind heart.
She was there only to watch the little fellers. First thing she did when they drove up from the docks was to take 'em away to get English clothes. Dressed speckless they were, and soon learned not to cry, or spit at you when they were angry. 'Tis fortunate for the world English habits are more catching than the so-called Latin influence. Not but what my best friend at school didn't come from Peru. He was the only one I couldn't lick.
"Well, Ma'am, I mustn't detain you from your duties. The Past is always entertaining and never more so than when you're left with too much time for turning it over. If you'll excuse me, it shall be Au Revoir."
I held out my hand and said "Goodbye."
He looked at it dimly for a moment before grasping it.
"Goodbye, did you say, Ma'am? Aye then, goodbye! I've not heard the word for some years, nor shaken a friend's hand, excuse me. 'Tis a sustaining thing to hear it again when you live as I live, in the light of philanthropy."
I WAS not sorry when we steamed away from Bonney, the smell of palm oil which we had taken on Board added to the discomfort produced by the heat and vapours which were always thicker before sunset, whilst midges mosquitoes and various winged insects caused one continual annoyance. Flocks of gray parrots flew over us bound for their roosting places keeping up a continuous screeching. Once well away we had a view of the Old Calabar Coast and soon left behind us our Winged Tormentors. The next morning on waking for our shower bath which was supplied us from the ship's hose we had a distant view of the Cameroon mountains which are very high. Sailing midway between Princes Island and the Ivory Coast we passed Gaboon and many lesser landings where Hatton and Cookson's flag could be seen saluting us from the shore as we sailed past bound for Gabenda at the mouth of the River Congo. Arriving at daybreak we sailed to within easy distance of the shore, boats were immediately lowered and we were soon sitting down to an early breakfast with our good host Mr. Phillips our Firms representative.
Gabenda was a pretty place, the few houses being built on the Old Portuguese style were cool and artistic. Everybody here could speak Portuguese, and although I could understand the conversation I could not speak well enough to reply. At this spot we discharged cargo and took on a misalanous one, and after bidding our new friends a hearty goodbye we turned to the north again calling on our way up the coast at Fernandez Vaz and other places. We reached the main depot of our firm at Elobey, four or five miles north of the equator. Here we took on a large consignment of Ivory, Ball Rubber, as well as flake, some palm oil also ebony, dye wood, etc. Our agents name was Mr Carlisle a good-hearted man, a Gentleman of the first water. He held sway from Batenga on the Cameroons coast as far as Fernandez Vaz. He soon told me that as I was the youngest trader on the coast he meant to take special care of me, and that my chances of success in life were far better than I imagined and he would give me every opportunity of forging ahead. The Angola left after two days stay with a very large and valuable cargo. One of the company's steamboats the S. S. Batenga arrived as the S. S. Angola left, just in time to signal Goodluck. A cargo consisting of Gunpowder, Guns in Cases, Manchester Prints etc. in Bales also hardware, Boots, clothing and salt etc was soon put on board and after three hearty cheers had been given by the crew we left Elobey and was soon anchored off the beach of one of the chief centers of the West Coast trade. The post was in charge of Mr. Jobay. The stores and buildings were large whilst the dwelling portion was a fine, well-verandaded building beautifully situated and only two hundred yards from a fine sandy beach. The place was fronted by a large garden and was shaded by giant Palms and Cocoanut trees. As I was sent to Gaboon to make a special study of the Ivory and Rubber trade I was put in charge of the Ivory and India Rubber store and had for my assistant Ritiga, Chief of that portion of Gaboon city. He was an old experienced trader and soon taught me how to buy ivory. Most of the natives who came in to sell Ivory were Mpangwes, Cannibals all, and travelled long distances. Most of them were tall muscular fellows used to hardships and dangers. All had filed sharpened teeth, were marked on their faces or necks with some distinguishing marks. They were all well armed with guns, spears and large native-made daggers. Many of them wore scars on their bodies of old wounds, wore loin covers of skins and were as wild and picturesque lot of savages you could possibly find anywhere. A skin pouch was carried filled with all kinds of smoked meat including dried smoked rats which they were very fond of. Ladlike I was curious to know what they carried for food and they were not choicy, everything they said was bechit, their name for food, monkeys of various kinds were delicacies. They also carried a wild bean which they chewed in the same manner as a white man does tobacco. I tried some of it and found it to be first class, it reddens the lips and mouth and they claim that a few of these beans are sufficient to stave off hunger for several days. Each lot as they came in took up separate camping grounds, all old fewds and bad feelings were put on one side whilst selling their Ivory. Each tusk was weighed generally the large ones running sixty to seventy pounds were the most difficult to buy. Each tusk represented so many flintlocked guns and so much gunpowder and so many bags of salt. After the quantity of these had been agreed upon, guns so many were Roomed (native term) or exchanged for prints and calicoes and again a bag of salt would be exchanged for brass and copper rods, lead bars, spiral wire plates, brass neptunes, trade boxes, knives, razors, files, various kinds of bowls and other articles always kept in stock. The art of trading was to get the natives to exchange cheap articles for dear ones so that it kept one busy talking and bartering sometimes for an hour or more before the prices of the largest ivories were settled on. The lesser ones were easily bought whilst large strings of indiarubber changed hands very quietly. Native-made daggers, spears, a large variety of leopard and monkey skins were a part of their trading stock.
These hunters often brought in live animals monkeys, chimpanzees and once in a while a young gorilla, likewise baby elephants. These African elephants are more trouble than they are worth as it is impossible to tame them whilst the young gorillas died of stomach troubles. They are reared on human milk and myondo, a species of wild shalotte or onion they cannot live without, so the natives said. In fact whilst hunting I found that where you find gorilla colonies you will always find myondo patches. These so-called men monkeys always like to live in valleys, making their homes where you find the mamoth water vines. These vines are full of delicious cool water and it is really the greatest boon to travellers whilst marching through the forests. I have often seen them over twelve inches hick and full of water always cool. The Cedika and many kinds of fine large nuts he is also fond of. You will never be troubled by dysentery whilst using the water found in these vines and the gorilla being subject to stomach troubles, is taught by nature to use it. The chimpanzee is also found in these glades and is said to breed with the gorilla, producing a monkey called a Colocamba. In all my travels I never saw a colocamba, although I offered a good reward for a live or dead one. So I put this down to the imagination of some dopey hunter.
"How do you like it, Ma'am? I shall sure get into my stride before long. It's not the first time I've turned a hand to a job of writing. I used to be able to toss off a good panegyric in my day. When old Matthew W??? died they came to me for it. Nothing but a brewer, but a man of heart in spite of it. It came easy, that's what it was. Sound of the soil on the coffin tapping on the ear?the straining of the cords like the pulling of heart-strings and cetera and so forth. Easy stuff to do with a little lapse of the imagination. Oh, aye.
"Lullabies are easy too with a bit of practice, although not so useful as topical. An eye for topical will earn many a drink you'd 'a' had to go dry for. We earned quite a nice little sum out of Tutankhamen when he was in the limelight. Feller I know who had a pretty sympathy with the guitar went partners with me. I wove out the poetry and we both managed a bit of a dance. A knowledge of hornpipe'll come in for most occasions. Yes, Ma'am. It's in the nature of this life that no portion of one's make-up is ever waste product. I'm not saying there was much college intelligence required in that little turn?words or dance. But if you're a student of humanity it'll be abundantly clear that intellect displayed in the Golden City is never likely to earn a bed. Homo Stultus in hotel bars and me dancing before 'em for a living. Me?that's seen the unrolling of an African river for the first time before a white man's eyes. . . . Kingfishers I could hardly count on both hands for variability. Gay as popinjays. And the great panorama of elephants at full leisure where the banks were trodden down at the watering-places. . . . Aye. Othello himself couldn't have seen more of the world.
"I could take you there, Ma'am. I could navigate you anywhere on the rivers that fall to the sea near Gaboon. Half a day from Muni River to Gaboon where John Scott lived. He shot a nigger in self-defence and was imprisoned by the Spanish. Died of ill-treatment in prison. 'Twas on account of this Carlisle refused to trade with the Spaniards and moved away. A thorough gentleman, Carlisle, and the first man to trade on the Muni. A wild lad, but college-bred, which is an advantage in all commerce with savages if not with dagoes. All Latin races being somewhat lacking in perception. A great trader he was, one of the old breed that were like kings on the coast. Talk of Leopold with his ladies of the demi-monde?any English trader of those days could 'a sat on a throne, safe amongst cannibals, sooner than what Leopold could, if he'd had the pluck of a louse to come and see his territory. Aye. The traders were the imperial breed, and no gold froggings to label 'em.
"In those days there was an old man-'o-war in the mouth of Muni River. Did odd jobs and so on. How long could you live in Gaboon if you didn't look out for yourself? That man-o'-war?'Twas like halving a good mastiff on the door-mat.
"Muni River . . .
Mime j'ra Gogo . . .
'I know that far off place.' That's what I'm singing. 'Tis a song of Muni River I used to sing. It means 'A young man like me, I'm tired of seeking places that are far, far away.' Aye, the natives there were melodious singers. A beautiful language, theirs. More words to it that you'll find in Anglo-Saxon. The vocabulary of the Greeks could hardly be longer. They called me River-Hawk when I was on the Muni River. Muni River. It means 'You shake as you dance.' . . .
"If only there was something at the end of life that isn't philanthropy. Something that, when a man's mapped out a wild river in cannibal country, it'll not be overlooked in the latter end, nor his record smothered under black philanthropy. Aye, if we'd think of Death as the hand of Nature it'd be no worse than lying down to sleep in a cornfield. It's when the parsons trick out a natural process with all sorts of common regalia like Heaven and Hell, that it becomes something to fear. The worst of it is, when Death has to walk through a doss-house looking for the number of your room, he'll not be wearing too kindly a look. He'll not like his company. Such a child of Nature as he is must surely prefer the country. Aye, I'd rather fall in with him on the sea itself than between four walls, even if it were the Pope's ante-chamber. 'Twould be a natural spot to every man that is not Homo Stultus. Some get-away for the soul is necessary and that can only be found in the open, whether air or water.
"There's no denying that Death does his best for the sailors. There's less than half of them die in their beds. The undertakers'll never encourage a man to go to sea. The sea's the sailors home, and it's there he'll be found on the ultimate day."
ONE of the most interesting natives of the Gaboon was Old Man Pipi, brother of Chief Ritiga. He was a great hunter and Also Chief Medecine Man, and had some of the most wonderful cures. There were many diseases that the natives were subject to. One was a species of heart disease and Pipi had a sure cure for it. If not attended to in a reasonable time it was fatal. A pain through the body in the Region of the heart was a sure indication of this terrible malady. Pipy would press the painful spot with his finger and watch closely after the finger was released, once he felt sure of the location he drew from a small scabbard made of skin an instrument like a flat bamboo needle, this he inserted two or three inches deep between the ribs he had selected, always piercing from the side, right or left as the case might be. The operation was so scilfully conducted that the patient showed little or no signs of pain, was cured instantaneously to stay cured. As I watched this operation many times I am certain. Pipi and I were the best of friends and though it was forbidden by the tribe for a father to show anyone but his son his craft, He always explained and showed me how he did it. Next wonderful cure to this was a small worm in the eye which was very painful. Pipi would wait till it appeared wriggling over the ball of the Eye below the skin. He then took a small sharp bamboo needle and quick as you could think had the small worm, about one-half inch long and as thick as a silk thread, out on the end of the needle. Always cured, the patient went away smiling.
Whilst hunting one day I walked into a swarm of midges. They attacked me in both Eyes, and by the time I had walked about three miles homeward, with violent pains in both eyes which were swolen and inflamed I met Pipi coming towards me. He had been informed by a native of my misfortune, and hence his haste to help me. He bade me lie down and in a few minutes had returned with the stalk of a plant that looked like hemlock and was a light green and hollow in the inside. This he sharpened like a quill pen and pressing it with his finger dropped a couple of drops in each Eye. The effect of this was smarting pain rather sharp and violent, however in a few minutes this had all disappeared. I could open both eyes and was cured without further Operation. I asked Pipi to show me this wonderful plant and this he did. To me it looked like poison Hemlock, so common in Lancashire, England, and like it was hollow in the inside. I next took crow-crow which is a blistering hard to cure. It is very irritating and forms a solid scab covering my arms from the shoulder to the hands, this Pipi cured by hot emulsions and a sprinkling of a black powder called Eriko, the native name for Ebony. In a few days I was completely cured.
Pipi had other cures but these being the most common I am certain I am correct in my statements. The Old Man also told me of the wonderful Medecine Men I should meet later on when I went trading on the Ogowe River. The Inilies he said were wonderful doctors, this I found to be true. Natives who had leprosy went there to be cured. I knew one Gaboon chief who was afflicted with this disease. I met him two or three years later in the Inili which is situated on the south bank of the Ogowe about eighty miles up, and is said to be a famous place for the cure of leprosy. He looked all right to me and I complimented him on his good luck in going there. He showed me the only patch of the disease which was still showing on his right hand. There was a slite blotch about three inches round and looked to me, then a youngster, like thinly dried Epsom salts. I was cured later on of my first dose of West Coast fever by one of the Ojangas, or Medecine Men of this place. The cure consisted of small red berries and produced heavy sweating. It took several days but thanks to this man I have not had a dose of fever since. Cured to stay cured is what he told me, and although I have been for many years in some of the most pestilential spots on Earth since, I have proved immune, where sound healthy men have died. Of their witchcraft etc I will give you a good description later. White doctors I found out have a lot to learn about these diseases, and it has often occurred to me that some efficient man would confer a great benefice on humanity if he would only risk a little time in research on the Wild River Ogowe. I was cured of bad gunshot wounds and spear wounds by these natives. No white Medical Man being available at the time. I can show you my first wound on the left hand. As I had hold of the top of the native's gun at the time, and it went off, I received a wound which prety nearly tore off the thumb. This was cured by hot bark emulsions, and the wound was filled with the white of a cricket. Like a cockeroach trod underfoot, the white of the stomach comes out on pressure.
Worm in the leg is another disease which I have seen cured. This Worm inhabits the leg between foot and knee. The Ojanga finds the head by carefully examining for a small swelling, this is lanced or cut carefully. The head of the worm is then secured between two pieces of soft pithy wood and is turned once and the wood niping the head of the worm is then securely tied by making a turn of the wood each day. With the head part of the worm secured the patient gradually loses the worm. As each tribe has a cure for the diseases most prevalent amongst them the cures are quite numerous. Dysentery is cured by Enima of a pepper (called Togolo). The water vine which contains at all times pure cold water with a very agreeable taste will be found healthy at all times and will be found in the Glades along the lakes and rivers. This is always used by Gorillas and Chimpanzees and where it is found you will find their homes. The wild Myondo or Onion like a shalotte is also readily eaten by gorillas young or old. Natives declare this biggest of all apes will not live without it. Wild coffee, also a species of Suggar cane and a species of Red Banana are found. The coffee is first class and is used in Gaboon.
"I've been doing a bit for the doctors this time that'll provide an interesting novelty. Aye, I'm a humanitarian and that's why I like to remember the medicines. A certain modicum of medical knowledge should be in every man's make-up. George Bussey knew his Materia Medica or he couldn't have reported the passing of the Anti-Vivisection Bill in a readable manner. George Bussey, the friend of Dickens. They went through
Poverty Square together, if anybody did. Aye, they sure took rooms there for a time, and 't wa'n't on the first floor either. Dickens, and a lot of other fellers like that. Why, they'd go to Day and Martin's blacking factory and gum labels on the bottles for two and six a night, working right through till the small hours. Bussey lived at Albany Road, Camberwell, in his better days. But when he was fighting for a footing in London, before he became Master of Hansard, he and Dickens'd come across many a day when they'd have to keep away from the Old Portugal in the Strand. Too many fellers they knew there and they hadn't got the money for the drinks. They'd walk all the way to the old Fox under the Hill at Dulwich to get a cheaper drink and a bit of bread and cheese by themselves. He was a good feller to me, was George. Aye, he'd a big heart for the young. And what I know of literary procedure comes from him . . .
"Aye. That Old Portugal was always a great house for newspaper men, poets, betting men and so on. 'Tis an axiom of Nature for all men who live on their wits to gather together. Fellers that like every day to have a different flavour.
"I though you'd like these notes on medicine, your husband being a scientist will sure appreciate it. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for men of science. Got the taste when I was on the Coast. Dredging party came along in a nice little vessel all fitted up for wrestling with the secrets of the deep. What is it that feller Byron said? 'Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain.' Grandiose stuff, but it never stood in the way of fellers like those I met on the Ivory Coast when I was a lad. Scientific gentlemen with nets and spirits o' wine and what not. The head of them was one of the Professors of Science. Nice party of fellers, though. Very interested in Nature they seemed. 'Twas like talking to children to answer all their questions. I could tell 'em a bit about some of the lakes I'd been on, where you can see to the bottom same as peering into a dew-drop. 'Twas a pleasure to hob-nob with such a party. Drawing so much life from Nature myself, it sure made me understand their ways.
"There's a simplicity comes from the worship of Nature, same as from goodness. That poor missionary lady . . . Innocent as a child she was . . . 'Why, Mr. Horn,' she says, 'what's the matter? Isn't God here just the same as in America?' 'Twas when we were walking through a cannibal village. They'd never seen a white woman before. The only one within a thousand miles was Nina T??? that was goddess in a Josh House. Did you know I'm blood brother to Nina T???? Yes, by the rite of Egbo, Ma'am . . . Not that she was lady fair although her father was an Englishman. Her mother was an octoroon from Princess Island. But English blood'll battle through. Nina's hair was auburn. Dark auburn. And her skin was pale. No darker than many a beauty in London.
"I must be going, Ma'am. I must buy a bit of wire on the way out and be selling again in the morning. Tuesday's a better day than Monday for selling stuff that's not wanted. The women 're a bit edgy on Mondays, but on Tuesdays they've got over the worst. There was a woman last week asked me why I didn't go to the Tradesman's Entrance. One of these weighty daughters of Israel that's only just getting used to having a house to
play with. I soon calmed down her furore. I don't always take the trouble but I felt like amusing myself. She bought two lamp-shades she didn't want. Aye, the old Fist-and-Spear could always meet a situation even if it has to be in the slums and so-called suburbs of the Golden City."
HAVING given you a slight idea of the character of natives who inhabited the Gaboon and their powers to cure the most prevalent diseases with herbs and plants I will describe to you if possible how the white traders as well as the natives were situated under the French Government. It must be remembered that at the time of my first few years on the Coast the French were not as friendly and could naturally not be so to the Germans as they were to the Britishers. The Sting of their great defeat at Sedan, the Occupation of Paris a thing they had deemed impossible, was still green in their memories and this fact was a great help to us English traders, as the big German house of Carl Woerman of Hamburg who were the only real opposition, were straining every nerve to gain possetion of a fair share of the Trade of this part of Africa.
Whilst the British and German traders were contending for supremacy in the ivory and rubber trade the French trade was insignificant compared to these two Giants of Commerce. The feeling between the British and German races to each other and trade rivalry made no difference in their friendship to each other. Both took their success or defeats in gaining trade in a goodhearted sportsmanlike manner, and when the days work was over visited each other and even cracked jokes as to their various mistakes and vied with each other in hospitality. Mostly from Hamburg, they were a fine lot of men these Hamburgers. I liked them immensely and during my trading days I found them a jovial lot as we sat in the evenings and discussed matters. I found they thought as we did and were people who sooner or later would hold together. The French were intirely different and I found all the Latin races to be so. They were too fond of military Governmant, the Governor having all powers invested in him and handled all civil rights as he thought fit. Outside of the City of Gaboon you would never see a soldier, only Customs-house officers, with a guard of Senegall soldiers here and there in a few trading spots on the coast. The up-country traders all fought their own battles which were frequent with the natives who were Lords and Masters of their various domains, as much as they ever were.
By far the greatest number of natives who occupied Equatorial Africa were Mpangwes and their territory was immense, stretching from the coast and following the north bank of the Ogowe River into Central Equatorial Africa, yet unknown. They paid tribute to no man and were entirely free in every sence, and did not know or care about the Frenchmen as the great majority of them had never see a white man, whom they looked upon as a great curiosity. I have entered many a M'pangwe village followed by a crowd of laughing women and children anxious to get a look at the white man whilst those who happened to be taken by surprise would clear quickly out of their houses and hide behind trees, etc. I had visited most of the rivers running into Gaboon harbour, these were the Como, Remwe, Belagona and a few smaller ones which are inhabited by Fans, a tribe of the M'pangwes. These people all cut rubber and there were quite a number of ivory traders also dealing with the natives, for various firms in Gaboon. These natives were a dangerous lot and would often fire on the trading boats which plied to and fro from the coast, and wars with one another were frequent.
Having learnt the ivory and rubber trade I was sent to Adimanongo the furthest up-country post of the Firm. I boarded the Pioneer, a large paddle steamer belonging to Hatton and Cookson. As the rainy season was now over this was the last trip this boat could make up the river for six months or more. We had a grand view of the coast sailing close to the shore, as the sea here is deep and there are no reefs or dangers to be encountered. Coming to Cape Lopes which we doubled in the finest of Wheather, we entered the river Ogowe and in a couple of days Anchored off the town of Angola. Cape Lopes and this river mouth is inhabited by the Ceringus, mostly pyrates and slave traders. And was then considered the most dangerous spot on the coast especially to small sailing craft. Leaving Angola we were soon in a well-inhabited country, and passed quite a number of villages each day. The Camma boys occupied the south bank of the river and on the north bank were Evilis and Shekhanis. Further up stream we passed Galwa and Okelly villages and then came the M'pangwe towns both on the right and left bank. The natives all cheered us crowding the banks as we passed. On the point of an Island we now had a view of Carl Woermans splendid depot where there were large numbers of natives trading at the time. In a few minutes we drew up at the Pier of Hatton and Cooksons trading depot and were received by the Agent in Charge Mr Sinclair. All were busy in no time landing and checking cargo and in a few days the steamer Pioneer departed with a full cargo made up of Ivory, Ebony, Ball-Rubber also Tongue and Flake Rubber. Mr Sinclair was a tall well-made Scotchman from the Orkney Islands and was a hard worker he had an assistant named Mr Surrey who took fever shortly after I landed and died. I had full charge of the Ivory and Indiarubber which came in and I must say we did double the trade than the Depot at Gaboon. On the arrival of a new bookkeeper named Gibson, and most of the trade being over on account of the fall of the river, I was put to work on surveying the Ogowe, carefully noting the position of the main channel from the mouth to 100 miles above the trading station.
"If it's facts you're wanting I can give facts and novelties too. They are the basis of solid interest. The English set a great deal of store by facts, but if a book's to be sold in America you must keep an eye on the novelties. I know America. Best not throw too high a light on some of my experiences on the Coast. It never does to give good folk a shock. Aye. Talk of dreadful scenes . . . A young lad brought up never to think of evil nor read it in a book?and he gets to the Coast at eighteen . . . Seventeen it might 'a' been . . . He feels Revolt, Ma'am. The shock of it's like to make him sick. He'll shy at everything, like a colt first driven through the streets that's known nothing but the fields. Aye. Even the cruelty's more than he can bear, although in those days I used to say my St. Edward's prayers every night same as I did in our dormitory. Renchoro, my Pangwe boy used to say 'em too. He'd watch me very close, and listen, and in course of time he'd be down on his knees when I was, and making the same sounds as well as he could. Many a Paternoster he's sent up. A fine feller, Renchoro. His father was chief over a bit of Africa the size of all Britain. The great Onlooker must have had many a quiet laff at the sight of us two boys.
"But it takes a pretty strong prayer to shut out matricide. Not but what they'd have to get permission from the priests at the Josh House to do away with 'em. Then they'd gather a few friends together and chuck somebody's old mother or granny into the river, at the age when in Lancashire she'd be just right for a shawl and a good cup o' tea.
"You couldn't do anything any more than you could stop a funeral in Lancashire. Seemed like you could neither run away nor shut your eyes . . . You just had to shiver and try not to blubber in front of 'em. Some of the old women would battle out and try swimming but 'twas never for long. The crocs in those rivers who take up a stand near a village are too lazy to attack a bather or the woman coming for water. They're too well provided. Sometimes you'd even see a floating body. If 'twere a woman she'd be face downward. "The woman's modest" they say amongst the natives, meaning that in death she takes up a modest attitude. A man'll always float face up, as if he'd not turn his face on Death.
"I hope I've not been too discursive on the great subject of this so-called expansion. It doesn't do to say too much. But if it's truth you're wanting I can tell you the French have never learn to spell the word. Expansion! The biggest stumbling-block to trade known to civilised man. The most rapacious nation, consistent with inactivity, the world has ever known. Nothing more than funguses sucking life from a healthy tree. Why, they'd change their duties easy as putting a fresh song on the piano desk. Rush the tax off matches and clap it on something else. That's them. 'Unstable as water, thy name shall not excel.' That's them. I like a little allegorical speech now and then. Used to excess, 'twill lose its effect. I was taught that by George Bussey and at St. Edward's. But chosen with an eye, it'll form a spot-light in any narrative.
"That Pioneer I'm writing about was Livingstone's old paddle steamer. Fine boat, with a stand of arms and plenty of brass fittings. Fancy sort of cabin. Aye, when you're apt at dispensing hot air in the drawing-room meetings of Piccadilly you'll get supplied with luxuries for travel. Why, Livingstone killed more men than ever I did, with all me rubber and ivories. Human life was nothing where the Bible had to go. Ladies in Hyde Park praying for 'im and handing on the wherewithal while we traders had to struggle to open up a country in decency. When I go out to trade I go out with a gun and some Manchester cottons, not with a Bible. He sure was Fortune's Favourite.
"I must soon be making a move on . . . Did I tell you 'twas Renchoro that showed me where George T??? was buried? Aye, he knew where George T???'s slaves had settled and he got T???'s own old boy to come and point it out. Nina's father.
"I've told you about Nina T???, goddess to the Isorga? Aye. It sure gave me a strange feeling to see those eyes looking out from a great mask at me. I was a lad then. Eighteen I might 'a' been. Well?good day, Ma'am."
"Mr Horn, tell me?what?how did they look?" He came a step nearer, an expression on his face which, in a young person, would be called shy. "Ma'am, there's some things it's difficult to capture with a word. I should say her eyes were kind but piercing. Aye. Kind but piercing."
MISSING 5 & 6
EVERYTHING was quiet in the sacred village. My boys who had been initiated the previous day all wore a Sunday Smile. I had finished two sections of my map and was highly pleased when the Old Chief called on me. He told me that after many calls the spirits were pleased at my request to join them, he also instructed me to follow all his edicts. This of course I promised to do. As we entered the temple which was then clouded with smoke from the Yos or bush lights. (Igo from which the lights are produced is the bark of a vine loaded with gum, commonly called incense and has been used from time immemorial in religious services, the smell produced was delightful). There were three nests of sacred Bees hung up one hundred yards or so from the temple and also under the roof and should you be stung by one of these on entry it was an omen which would Prohibit you from further egress. After passing these, whild invocations both weard and fantastic were very audible to me and I must say had a weird and fantastic effect on my mind. On entering the temple which had an ornamentation of human skulls, and likewise two small pyramids of the same placed on each side of the doorway, I was confronted by a row of masked objects hideous to behold. I was then seated bareheaded on a small seat composed of leopard skins. There were two objects the Chief called my attention to, one was a square piece of crystal, the other was peg-top-shaped and pointed at one end. He told me to place my hand on these objects, and that one represented fire (the red one) and the other water. This I did but could not help grasping the smaller one which was very heavy, I came to the conclusion it was a ruby of great value. After this there was great vociferation from the building, supposed to come from the spirits behind. The sounds were somewhat irregular and then again there was a conglomeration of spirits of delight. Now everything in the temple began to Sparkle and placing his hand on my head, which I bowed low, he announced in a loud voice the entrence of Izaga. He then said (Dana te eo) Rest in peace or Don't be disturbed. I noticed on raising my head a little commotion from those in goggle-eyed masks who were at the right and left of where I saw the Izaga (or native God). The Chief then ordered me to stand up and approach the centre mask and whilst I was doing so the mask disappeared from Izaga likewise the raffia hangings. There stood the God that never Dies, the most beautiful white woman I had ever seen. Her eyes were large and had a kind and affectionate look. Although I thought there was pity in them they had a magnetic effect on me. Of course I was young, she looked like Sweet sixteen, half naked there she stood statuesque, dressed where there was any dress in somewhat Egyptian style. On her head she had a dressing of white hairpins made of hippo Ivory inlaid with ebony. Her hair was auburn, and was plaited in circles and pressed on to the temples. Two ringlets ornamented with gold and green tassels fell down on each side of her shoulders, whilst high up on her forehead the hair formed a diamond-shaped coronet. A short leopard skin kilt ornamented with snakeskin and dainty fur sandals with black straps formed the rest of the dress of this Izaga. I was kept waiting for some time, her large intelligent Eyes fixed on me. Now a conglomeration of pleasing sounds filled the building and this was mingled with low music from the ingombis or native harps which are small, are made like the Egyptian harp but have only seven strings. A sudden cessation of music and muttering was followed by a voice which seemed to come afar. The spirits were pleased and had made their decision. Distinct command now came from Izaga who said Rangasi. The Old Chief led and I repeated after him the words Yasi Izaga, at the same time striking my left forearm with my right hand. Although the sound came from Izaga the mouth never moved, the eyes were fixed on me as before and never moved during the whole performance.
The Ceremony over, I withdrew, making a bow to this statuesque beauty. Sounds of sweet music filled the air whilst the clear sweet voice of a Girl struck my Ear. They were singing a beautiful song, Umbilla Nyone me Koka N'gala. White bird from over the sea. That of course was meant for me. I was the first and, as far as I know the last white man ever permitted to join. Whether becoming a member was a benefit to me I leave you to judge by what took place afterwards. The power of Izaga extends from Ashantee to the Congo, perhaps further. Every country has a different name for it yet the formation and Religious rights are the same. On reaching the large hut where I was staying I had a good talk with the old chief who told me I must always be kind to my comrades of the same creed. If at any time I was in need I was always to lay my troubles before Izaga who would always make things right, give me peace of mind at all times, and help me in all my troubles. I thanked him and after giving him a few nice presents of merchandise I withdrew saying, Dwana ta so Ogoi (Rest in peace, my relative).
I rose early next morning as was my usual custom and was soon in the main river. Here we passed a small fleet of the N'comis who were taking salt they had made near the sea. This they traded with slaves at Samba Falls far up the big river called Angoni. They stopped for a few minutes conversation, and then went on their way. I often met these men afterwards at Samba Falls, a large slave market. Nobody was allowed to pass Samba Falls. This town was inhabited by Evilies and Eveijas. On my way downstream I amused myself shooting Mallard and Other Ducks. Droves of these frequently fly by and over us on the annual trip to the lakes and the headwaters of the Ogowe and Angoni Rivers. Next we passed a large canoe belonging to Chief Isogi, the melancholy chief. They had on board a young woman who had been found guilty of bewitching Chief Isogi. They were taking her for execution to the temple of the Evilies which I had just left. She was sitting upright, and looked quite resigned to her fate, which was certain. There was one more skull to be Added to the temple. The executions take place immediately on the arrival. There is no further ceremony, only the Executioner walks round the Edifice carrying the dripping head held high whilst his attendants cry Izaga. This was the second victim Executed on account of the Chief's melancholy illness and as he was a powerful Nabob being brother to the King of all the river Enkomis these executions would continue until he had completely recovered.
"Aye, the book's about to be a fait accompli as those French fellers say. Risen, one may say, from a gridiron bartered in commerce between two strangers. If you're framing a book to sell?excuse me if I seem to be too apt with advice?you must have ambition, which shows brain and the play of all the instincts liable to make the world beautiful. Facts are stultus without the brain, and the brain'll be stultus if not based on a choicey instinct.
"'Tis selection that's the crux, George Bussey says. And (if you follow me, Ma'am) if I have to gather together all that I know of Nina T??? and her father into a ponderous mass all in one chapter, and all the information re Nature and commerce in another it would sure be an indigestible result. Chase the threads and then weave them into pleasing results is what proves best in the ultimate.
"I'm sure getting to the pithy parts now. What I've always wished to investigate is how a ruby came to be in Africa. Africa's got most of the gifts of Nature but rubies is what she's never been given. As one of the oldest prospectors I ought to know. But if you'd lived on the Coast as long as I did, and that as near sixty as fifty years ago, there'd be reasonable solutions suggesting themselves. I've bought doubloons from the natives for a few yards of bright cloth. Aye. Got 'em out of the sand, they said. And once I bought three pierced pearls they said 'd come from a broken ship that'd been half-buried near a river mouth more years than anybody knew about. Believe me, Ma'am, there's more than Spanish and Portuguese came down that way. What about Malagassies and others feeling the call Westward Ho! as Columbus did.
"The Malagash is a Malay, and in their catamarans the Malays have dared both East and West. Aye, the feller that has the catamaran is the Viking of the South and the water's his element. Why're the totem poles in Mexico same as those in Madagascar? Why is their hair and their features the same? Because they are the same. Get a globe, Ma'am, and see if the Malays weren't aptly situated for adventure east or west. And with such a gift of nature as the catamaran, safe as a gull and swift as an arrow, who's to stop him from overtaking Africa in his wanderings? He settles in Madagascar like birds on an islet?what next but to set his catamaran to flight round the Cape and up the old Ivory. How else came that old ruin that has the looks of Zimbabwe about it? Bonded stones same as Zimbabwe. Aye.
"They may give out newspaper talk about King Solomon and the Phoenicians. 'Tis too fanciful. The Malagassies were handy for slipping over in their catamarans. We know they were experienced gold miners and when they grew to anything of a colony they'd sure build themselves an impressive fort. There's some feller in the newspaper tells us Zimbabwe was the work of Bantus. How then did the Bantu trek over to Georgetown and build a similar sort of monument? Bonded stones is what no African native ever thought of. He's hardly yet learnt to put two and two together in the building art. History is made up by tying links together, and one great link for Africa is Madagascar plus Zimbabwe plus Georgetown. This should sure be told to the world. It makes me sick to see how some feller's never travelled will stand and stare at Zimbabwe for a couple of days and then go home and write to the papers. Where's his proofs by comparison? Has he ever taken a scholar's outlook over the ruins in Madagascar? Bonded stones again. That Bantu vision of his is even more of a wildcat scheme than King Solomon. Isn't there traces of King Solomon all down Africa until you touch the equator? 'Solomon's Road' they call it. Pops in and out all down the Lake Chad Road. There's a tribe somewhere out there we used to call Sheba's people?smooth, Arab type. Aye, I'm not saying that a mythologist like this Rider Haggard couldn't have dragged Solomon through equatorial country for his own uses. But what's the use of going against truth when you've got the Malagash in his catamaran to show it to you? Catamaran? I've seen him a bit closer than that. A poor feller we found in those old workings in Rhodesia. Three yards more to the left and he'd 'a' found a regular Bank of England. More gold than quartz. Most accomplished prospector, the Malagassy. He was sure on the right vein when the great Onlooker said 'Thus far and no further,' and niched him up there like a saint in the wall. Long black hair touching the shoulders?fine skull with a forehead clever as a white man's, just like the dead I've seen in Madagascar. The wealthy families there take their dead for an outing once a year. Mummied and dressed in embalmments. Aye, I've often met 'em supporting the corpse between them and telling it all the news. All a question of habit. That Malagash? he fell all to pieces when we touched him. There was his batté*(*Miner's wooden dish for washing gold (Ed.).) there too. It had been cracked and patched up with raffia hemp?sort of linen?the same as they'd mend a batté in Madagascar to-day.
"Aye, the Malays beat Alexander. Look at the Sioux Indians over in California. The Incas in Peru. Malays, I'm telling you. Look at their totems?that symbol o' three birds same in Madagascar as in Mexico and the same writing. When Dr Karl Peters pored over it and in the end couldn't make it out he went melancholy. 'Twas on his mind. But they'd 'a' done nothing without that craft of genius styled Catamaran.
"Georgetown? Why, sure, 'tis opposite Parrot Island. I could take you there Ma'am. 'Tis a lonesome outlook when you get there. Nothing in Nature's so full of solitude as the spot where Man has been, and gone again. The natives'll not go near a place like that.
"Aye, 'twas hot just there. I'd like to feel warmth again like that. Sometimes I feel I'll walk away with my back to the streets and the mines and ask the veld to receive me. 'Twould be my last bit of an adventure, to see what Africa'd do with me. At any rate she'd be able to offer me a clean bed."
BEFORE leaving Angola for the coast I received my mail from Liverpool and reading this was a delightful pastime. As the waterway is wide and deep to the mouth of the river there was no need for sounding so that I had a delightful day. After my mother's letter the most important was from a young college friend. We were always together at school and he felt lonely after my departure for Africa. He was born in Peru, South America. He was the son of an Englishman who had wandered to Peru and had married an Inca chief's daughter and become the owner of a famous silver mine. He had died and had left a tremendous fortune to Little Peru, who was my best friend and always remained so. Besides his affectionate letter he had sent me two long sixshooters, specially made for big game shooting. One of these was specially good, was sighted to 500 yards and was the best small weapon I have had. A supply of ammunition for these small arms was always sent and arrived by each mail about every three months. The river at the commencement of the dry season was crowded with water-fowl, ducks of many varieties, flamingoes cranes etc in great variety. I amused myself shooting these, especially mallard ducks, so that we always had plenty of table birds for food. My boys were always very fond of these and always had good appetites.
By about noon we were at the seaside. And thanks to my good attendant Renchoro we found a nice little village nestled in a large Pindo or plantation owned at one time by the father of Nina the goddess. On his death he had freed all his slaves who had married and formed quite a colony of peaceable natives. The chief of these liberated slaves spoke English fairly well and showed me a little casquet or box inlaid with mother of pearl which his master had put in his care. On opening this I found two old faded tintypes. One was T??? and the other was a lady that might be his mother. T??? was wellclad and wore a hunting jacket and hunting leggings. The other photo was a bust and on her head was something that looked like a small ornament of jewels. The face and the rest of the bust was so faded and indistinct I could make nothing of it. In the box I also found a letter from T???'s mother, a very affectionate letter and she had begged him to come home etc. The contents of this letter I shall never divulge for conscience sake. A small copybook etc told me that T??? had taught little Nina how to write, this I was pleased with, as Nina would have perhaps not have forgotten yet. This I found later was correct, as far as reading went, so that I could always smuggle in a short note to the goddess when I used to visit the temple to make a wish. It was customary to make a visit by Isogas congregation. The suppliant generally had his wish granted if his present was sufficiently large to please the spirits, whom I found easy to satisfy.
I bought the casket and contents from the old slave for four bottles of trade rum. This old slave also pointed out to me the island where his master was buried at the entrance to the Ogowe River. I visited this and easily found it. The stone had been broken to pieces, the grave had been opened and being only a few feet from the edge of the island was gradually being washed away. I removed this with what remained of T??? to the centre of the island but was surprised to find T???'s head had been removed entirely, together with portions of the gravestone, which I put together but I could not have understood the inscription on it if I had not had T???'s mother's letter, which however proved a clue to his family and likewise his standing with his people who held a very prominent place amongst the British aristocracy.
Vessels entering the river were forced to use the main channel which was deep at low tide and went close to the island on the north side. This island was a good landmark for entering vessels and could easily be told as there were two tall decayed upas trees on it, in which a colony of huge vampires made their home. These trees were easily seen from a long distance seaward and made splendid beacons but gave the island an uncanny appearance. I felt more than sad that T??? a piece of Flotsam and Jetsom like myself should have such a last resting-place. But it was Mother Earth, and I laughed inwardly when I asked myself the question: Will your finali be as good as his. I also found T???'s marriage certificate with his wife's name. They were married at Princes Island and T??? had first met his wife in Madeira. They were legally married. The goddess had, I should say every right to whatever property or title would have been her father's, as her elder brother was killed in Northern Nigeria by a British patrol who came up with Josef Cariella and his band of Morocco desert thieves. This I proved to be true by the Nigerian Protectorate Border Patrol. T???'s sone had fought it out with the rest, as the law of nomads is no surrender. He was killed on the Lake Chad road.
The Ivory Coast where I now found myself was skirted with long islands and there was a navigable passage from Cape Lopez nearly as far south as Fernandez Vaz, and these islands were called Itovas, pastures for animals. Almost any time of day whilst sailing through these channels one could see herds of Nyari, wild cattle, grazing peacefully in the Itoves, whilst the Congo buffalo and many deer and antelope made a home here. These islands were infested with Injogus, or large leopards, many of these were man-eaters and were more dangerous than lions. Two specimens of beautiful tree-leopards were also to be found here, and likewise many kinds of rare birds. Gorillas were plentiful. The leopards, so the natives say, will not attack gorillas which were quite able to defend themselves.
Whilst I remained here I always made my home with my boy Renchoro's brother, whom we found busy making salt and preparing salt fish for the slave traders. Most of this salt and fish was sold at Samba Falls on the Angani River. Samba Falls was then the largest slave market of the faraway hinterland of the Ivory Coast. These slave traders were the light Cammas, the river Cammas were called the black Cammas, and although the same tribe of natives the ones born near the Ocean were mush lighter than the ones born inland. These two tribes of Camma boys were about the best fighters on the coast and were always ready and willing to go anywhere with a trader. I was there with strict orders to find an entrance to this waterway or canall as the loss incurred every year by landing cargo to the trading posts which were to be found as far as Gabenda on the mouth of the Congo was very great on account of the surf which fringed the coast. I had been supplied with an old Admiralty chart and although I found a few enterances that could be entered by small sailing craft, these were dangerous and useless as far as steamers drawing seven or eight feet of water were concerned. I nearly got drowned following the instructions laid down in this chart. I had left my large canoe some distance away from the entrance of this new river mouth as the small surf canoes built by the Canna people were safer and more easily handled in the surf.
At the entrance of this supposed channel, which I called No 2 south of Cape Lopez were several roches de baleine or Whale rocks. These are formed by caves extending from the river floor to a few feet below oceanwards. The entrances to these caves are large and point to the sea, whilst the outlets are much smaller. These caves on being struck by a large wave from the sea, force the water out from the surface inland to a great height and look like the spouting of a whale. There was one very large one right in the middle of the supposed entrance. Here I lost my small canoe, which was hit by a gigantic breaker. Two of my boys went through the cave mouth whilst the remaining four of us were thrown out to the left of the whale's head, clean over the barrier reef. As the tide was running inward we all easily swam to shore landing on the sandy beach of the Itove about a quarter of a mile above the Roche de Baleine. We were all sound except one boy who had a small piece of the skin of his head hanging down, and as this was covered with coarse black hair would have made a good ink Pad. As I had a small medical outfit I soon patched him up. The small canoe went upstream in two halves but my tin box in which was my compas was recovered by some fishermen so my loss was small only leadline used for sounding was gone with the admiralty chart. I was glad I lost that admiralty chart, and felt I would do unkind things to the man who made it if I had had him on the Island just then. The boys who I had left in my big canoe could hardly stop from laughing, dancing and pointing at the wounded one who they said came through the water and flew up the river like a bird. We all enjoyed the experience and I had surely found the admiralty passage through Mouth No 2. If any of the august gentlemen composing the admiralty department doubt my story let him take the risk in finding the entrance charted but I would strongly advise him to steer clear of the Whale Rock.
After drying ourselves and eating a hearty morning's meal we all felt as fit as ever. Only we all decided that it would be foolish to bother ourselves with any more river entrances. We now commenced cleaning up guns and getting things in shape for a few days hunting as I wanted a quantity of dried meat for boys rations. As I had quite a lot of writing to do I despatched Renchoro and ten of my best hunting boys with weapons and ammunition to secure this meat, and it was not long before the sound of gunfire could be heard. They returned about four o'clock that afternoon, having killed twenty head. The fishermen who had now joined our party agreed to cut up those dead inyari etc for one third of the meat and hides, and commenced operations at once. We made a camp in a beautiful grove of tall redwood trees and fated and feasted ourselves on titbits of the animals shot. The fishermen were joined by some of their friends and by sundown we were surrounded by a Veritable butcher's shop. Large fires were made as the island was infested by large leopards which made the night hideous by their screams and howls which have an unearthly sound. Early next morning I was out with four of my best hunters, two of us made a large circle so as to have the wind against us whilst the others were to work up slowly carrying the animals and wind towards us. After walking a few miles myself and boy mounted a little knoll of rocks and had a beautiful view of the Itove which resembled a natural park, there were several large buck and two large nyari shading themselves in small groves but I could see no leopards. I had a splendid view of the animals as they passed and as I was out for leopards I let them graze in peace, some of these animals skipped and frolicked about as they passed and as I was always fond of seeing the handy-work of Nature I was well repaid. I returned home without getting a leopard although we found plenty of spoor. I found out by practice that the leopard is very cute and like myself only believed in still hunting. On returning to camp I found that Renchoro had killed a beautiful dark tree leopard, almost black and very rare. This I afterwards sent by next mail to my Bosom friend little Peru.
"How do you like my version of the Whale Rock episode? A comical interlude is all to the good in literature as in real life. Doesn't do to weight the thing down with tragedy. The Americans won't stand it. That's why I wove it in after finding T???'s grave. Aye, that old boy of his didn't want to go near. He told Renchoro that they often saw the Englishman walk up and down on the beach on moonlight nights with the little girl in his arms. Seeing that the dead was so restless it's not strange they wouldn't go near the body. Very fond of the little girl he'd been, the boy said. Always teaching her her letters out of a little picture book. Nursing her on his knee when he sat writing letters at the back of the store. 'Twas likely, at the latter end, he didn't feel too safe about her running about near her mother. Who's to know whether she?
"Did I tell you she was an octoroon? Princes Island woman. Aye, there sure was a missing link in the family scutcheon. Lots have it but it doesn't always become known. There'll be great curiosity amongst the English aristocracy to know who George T??? was. I know how inquisitive they are. When I was a young feller in England I was in a position to enter into the feelings of the haut ton. They have a naturally inquiring disposition. More than you'd think from exteriors. And there's some it'll touch on the raw. When this book comes out go and turn up the cushions in Lady's boudoir and you'll find it hidden there. She'll not be talking too loud about her relations on the West Coast. Not that she'd mind the colour of 'em. 'Tis only Anglo-Indians and other colonists get faddy about that. But what about Nina's children turning up one day for a share in the property that should 'a been George T???'s? Aye, there's something in the general make-up of the English that'll set property before kinship. If God Almighty was to ask for a corner of the Park to Himself He'd not get it unless He began turning a few unpleasant miracles. "The vampires'd look well in a cinema. None of the fellers trading would ever go near that island if they could help it. But you know what lads are, full of curiosity not to miss anything. I had to go and see the bats I'd heard so much about. Very unpleasing to the eye?hanging like an old garment that's been drawn through a sooty chimney, full of crumples. About eighteen inches long. A foot to eighteen inches. Better be strictly accurate and say eighteen inches. The Americans resent inaccuracy?specially in weights and measurements. If I were to take this story in to an American editor he'd say 'This vampire of yours, Was it, or was it not, eighteen inches?' Aye, they like you to know your own mind. Not that I can pretend to have handled a vampire. There's something about them forbids the kindly feeling you have for a little bat flitting about on a summer evening like they did in Lancashire when I was a lad.
"Those trees . . . 'Twas said they were some kind of upas tree, supposed to give out unhealthy fumes. If so, they'd poisoned themselves too. Dead as mutton they were, except for the bats hanging under the boughs. Good sentinels for the dead. But they couldn't guard them from the sea. The sea thinks nothing of upas trees. Nor the dead either. They'll all be gone by now?trees and all. Washed out into the Atlantic, same as poor Tom Keating. One o' the best skippers on the coast was Tom. But the pirates got him and he was buried on the island where George T??? was buried. 'Twas quite a proper burying-ground for the fellers that fell to the fever or killed themselves with square-face. Aye, my second visit to the island was when Tom's daughter sent me out some seeds from the garden and a little tin box of English soil. She thought he'd be happier under English soil. No use taking the seeds but I took the soil over. 'Twas too late. The sea'd got Tom Keating. So I just sprinkled the soil out over the edge o' the waves and said 'Here's love for you, Tom, from England.' I had to write and tell the girl 'twas all right. No need to say he'd gone. Women set a great deal by grass and wreaths and cetera and so forth. But I reckon Tom was glad when the sea let him loose. He'd been a first-class sailor, first and last."
I WAS ready to return to Adonimanango, our chief depot up the Ogowe River and had given orders for an early start at dawn but that evening I received a message that the Camma chief Renchoros father would visit me next day at sundown. Another leopard hunt was my next day's fun. News had reached us that an old leopard had killed a slave girl close to a cane brake where she had gone for a nice calabash of cool water at a clear spring which was situated in the middle of the cane brake. This leopard had paid yearly visits to the seashore and had caused the death of many women and dogs, always attacking them near the springs when they went there for water. It is a strange fact that most of the human beings killed by leopards are women.
Early dawn on rising I found a motley crowd of slaves and saltmakers, they were armed mostly with guns and spears and were making merry on palm wine. Renchoro and I were accompanied by a slave who was armed with a formidable long assegai and had seen the leopard just after he had killed the slave girl and knew exactly as it proved shortly afterwards the tricks and moves of the man-eater. The rest of the party accompanied by five dogs formed a circle round the cane brake and soon the drive began. The slave boy took a stand about 150 yards from an old withered hardwood tree with Renchoro about 20 yards on our right, here we remained prone and kept in the edge of the long coarse grass which the beast always made for when hunted from the cane brake. We had not waited long before the keen eyed slave pointing to a knoll or mound about 800 yards distant where the leopard was situated between us and the animal drivers then he disappeared as the yelling spearmen and dogs approached. I might have killed the brute at 800 yards but was afraid I might possibly miss my distance and kill one of the beaters. The next time I sighted him was jumping into the old tree near us. He executed this move so rapidly that I did not get a chance to shoot. The next moment I had him as he raised his head to get a glimpse of the barking dogs which were now close to us. The bullet struck him just at the juncture of the spine and head. My boy now shot him low in the spine and the slave rushing forward threw his spear into the animals body. I asked him why he had done this and he laughingly assured me that a leopard will play dead on you, especially the man-eaters. As he hung limp from the tree fork he looked dead enough but I was cautious not to go near the monster which the natives declared was one of the biggest they had ever seen. Now one of the most amusing sights ever I saw took place as they removed him from the tree. A circle dance around him took place, some brandishing their spears as they danced calling on the spirits of those to witness that they were revenged. Then a procession to our camp on the sea shore took place, insulting jokes were addressed to the monster such as these We hope leopard you enjoy your visit to our camp, we will make you welcome. You seem to have fallen in love with our women, you have good taste but now old man we will see how nice your meat is. After breakfast we decided to divide our force of hunters. One half under Renchoro were to shoot meat for his father's reception as he was always accompanied by two large war canoes and had a large retinue of relatives. The other half and myself were to hunt for tree leopards. We took the five dogs with us. The meat-hunters hunted the north side of the island whilst I and my party took in the south portion and the beaters and dogs kept well behind us so as to avoid accidents. Small buck and other animals fled before the beaters, the leopards took cover in the old trees, they are exceedingly clever these tree leopards and are hard to find or drive. It was nearing sundown before our efforts were rewarded. The beaters decided to try the bush along the seashore and they had not proceeded far when from the thick out bounded a fine dark leopard nearly twice as big as the dark animal shot by my boy previously. I could have killed him as he ran within 200 yards of where I had taken a stand. He sprang into an old tree and lashing his tail from side to side he calmly waited for the dogs. One of our five dogs was a halfbred Spanish bloodhound and soon found the leopard in the tree. With their noses pointed up towards him they yelled savagely. This was just what I wanted to see a fight five dogs to one leopard. With gleaming eyes and lashing tail he now crouched, and making a spring to the ground he bounded from dog to dog and then sprang into his tree, when I shot him. He had inflicted terrible wounds on the dogs, one of them died shortly afterwards from loss of blood from wounds like knife cuts they were deep and near the neck, the other three dogs were also gashed about the back and body and the wounds looked as if they had been made with a knife.
So rapid were the motions of the brute that one could not tell how he had done so much damage in so short a space of time. For his size he is the most dangerous animal the world possesses and can kill a man as quickly as he can a dog. His claws are the weapons he uses. And my hunters told me once he jumps on you your chance of life are very small. Fixing his fangs in your flesh he sucks blood at the same time rapidly working his hind claws you are soon torn to death.
As the sun was now about to set I had a look at the barrier reef which seemed to be lit up with silver and gold whilst the spray thrown up by the whale rock glinted like a shower of river diamonds of first water. Taking along my dead tree leopard we returned to camp and found all engaged in roasting meat and making ready for a feast. Shortly after our arrival the Chiefs canoe accompanied by two war canoes arrived. The meeting of my boy and his parents was very affectionate, especially the mother who was glad to see him now a grown man. The Chief was pleased to see me and told me the Camma people would always do their best to help me in any way. His three daughters and also Renchoros sweetheart to whom he was Betrothed came along with the chief. The harps now began to play and the drums to beat and in no time the Conjo or merrymaking and feasting commenced. Palm wine was consumed in large quantities dances of various kinds were indulged in and it was early morning before the Chief took his departure in the moonlight. The Camma people like to make their journeys in the moonlight which is almost as bright as day in Equatorial Africa, so that one can easily see to read a book provided his eyesight is normal. I left the merrymakers after the Chief had departed and got a few hours rest as I wished to start up the Ogowe River with the change of the tide which is felt as far as Angola and is a great help to traders.
By far the most amusing native I ever saw was a black dwarf. His face was exactly like a goodlooking gorilla. He was about four feet in height had a tremendous chest whilst his arms were unusually long reaching beyond his knees. He had a long body well supplied with coarse hair, also a large mouth decked out with beautiful teeth, the eye teeth were very large. He could imitate every move of the man ape and caused more amusement than anyone else at the Conjo or dance. He would take a banana I gave him peel it clumsily like a gorilla, whilst he grunted and rolled his eyes around at great speed under his thick protruding eyebrows, this done he would run backwards and forwards always using the knuckles of his hands and always using his feet in galloping so that they met the ground before the knuckles of his hands. He would then turn over quickly an imitation stone and would commence grunting with pleasure if the imaginary insects under the imaginary piece of rock were to his liking. He was clever indeed and was born on the high congo. As when he was young he was a mischievous youth he was sold into slavery by his father, who he said was a good Old man but could do nothing with him. He was sold several times and eventually reached Samba Falls where he was purchased by his boss the saltmaker with whom he never intended to part as his master was always kind to him. He had purchased his freedom twice. His master had taken him far down the coast and sold him to a Portuguese but he had run away and returned to his master. The second time his master happened to be hard up he had been sold by agreement to a man on the Cameroon coast but ran away, meeting his old boss on his return. He had always returned to his master thus buying his freedom twice.
As I had made all my preparations for my return up the Ogowe I left early next morning by the light of the moon. My canoe which was a large one was built for both sea and river sailing. The wind was blowing half a gale so I decided to sail up the river and give my boys a rest. I had a good set of sails one of which was especially large and as we had the wind and tide with us we went up the river in record time, landing at Angola shortly after noon, so we must have been moving at tremendous speed. We took in sail at Angola about three p.m. that noon. From this place I despatched four men with my overland mail which went via Lake Azingo. Needless to say I had written a long letter to little Peru my bosom friend telling him all about the goddess and who she really was. I also told him that for Her sake I had determined to take away the large ruby and replace it by an imitation. It would be risky but I would chance it. He could sell it in Liverpool or New York after he had it valued, and with the money realised we could educate Nina whom I intended to steal off later on. I drew a sketch of the precious stone and told him to have the imitation slightly pitted so as to show weathering. I must have the two imitations by next mail if possible as I would make the attempt soon to change the true ruby for an imitation. Once I had it in my possession I would send it to him so he would have plenty of time to change it into cash. I told Peru I thought the best market for the big ruby was Tiffanys, New York, U.S.A. I also gave him a good description of the English girl Nina. In due course I received the two imitations and a most affectionate letter from my South American friend. After transacting what further business I had I made an early departure and as the wind held well I was soon far away up the river as I used both paddles and sails. I passed the villages in quick succession and was at the mouth of the creek leading to Eliwa Mpoloor big lake where we had many rubber and ebony traders there is grand shooting round the big lake. I saw an animal feeding near the banks that looked like a leopard with black spots on a light yellow ground. I shot the animal and we all had a laugh as the supposed leopard had hoofs like a horse and two small tufts about two or three inches high in place of horns. The natives gave it a name but I have forgotten it. I sent the skin to England to one of my sisters who was very pleased with it. There are a great variety of birds at Eliwa Mpoloor and I shot some fine specimens of crested cranes. The head-topping or crest was long. I sent these feathers to England and they were classed second to none. I was asked to supply them to a London firm at a good many pounds sterling an ounce but I declined the offer and afterwards only killed the birds I required for my friends in Lancashire as presents who valued them highly. I stayed two days at Eliwa Mpoloor and went gorilla hunting on the second day. I managed to shoot one large female, one out of three we met in a grove. The animal was sitting peacefully playing with something near her close to an old tree stump. She was only two hundred and fifty yards off when I fired she fell forward dead the bullet had gone through her head from temple to temple. On Approaching we found a young baby gorilla which had gone to her breast immediately she fell. I felt great sorrow at this sight and made a resolution I would never shoot another of these animals with their babies, it looked too much like murder. I sent the little one to Herr Shiff and it lived for about six months or so and seemed quite contented and happy with its new home, but like nearly all the young gorillas in captivity, died with stomach troubles.
"Aye, the dwarf will provide the novelty. I sure thought he'd come in well in this chapter. His strange antics provide a little relief. I've often wondered at his origin and I sometimes wonder if it's been my destiny to set eyes on that so-called rara avis the missing link. Renchoro, my boy, could never take his eyes off him. All the boys were the same, crowding round. He was above par as a draw, that dwarf. Nice feller, though. Affectionate to the core.
"Aye, the Americans must have novelties, whether in search of one of these breakfast foods or in literary matters. I'm not saying it's good for them. Bacon for breakfast and Shakespeare for reading've been good enough for Lancashire and England generally speaking, for a number of generations.
"What's that, Ma'am? Do I believe Shakespeare was written by Bacon? I've heard the idea spoken of in London, but if you'll excuse me sounding somewhat harsh, that's one of the most foolhardy notions that the mind of man could conceive. Newspaper talk, I call it. One of these dodges. It's well-known that the monks wrote Shakespeare. Our astronomy professor at St Edward's?nice gentleman, I forget his name but he went out to Australia to study the transit of Venus?howbeit he always said to me 'Aloysius, my boy, your Shakespeare will carry you wherever you want to go. Read between the lines. And remember 'twas not one head but many that represent Shakespeare. 'Twas the Priests, who else? What human man could have learnt so much without the confessional? 'Tis a universal grasp of the genus Man never likely to have been wasted on one brain.' Aye! Of course they kept him supplied! I dare say they were glad enough to earn a regular bit of money from the feller for the powerful stories they could give him. What thay did with the money is not for me to say. We're all human. And that's a truism you can't get over.
"No, I can't be said to be strictly Catholic any more, Ma'am. You forget the animosities of religion when you're living a life close to Nature. These orthodox quarrels're a difficult thing to understand when you go home and you've been living happy with a Presbyterian trader shooting gorillas. Strict, he was. He'd never go near the Josh House, Sundays or weekdays. A man without a natural curiosity. Aye, too much quinine drinking. Always warding-off. Any new fancy medicine'd please him, long as they were labelled preventive.
"Aye, that feller Sinclair belonged to a genus Nature never intended for trading up the river. That poor lady I took down from Samba Falls would 'a' done better at it. A natural provision of courage is the right outfit for those parts, trader or missionary. She was a gallant woman. A bigger impression on the savage than any countess'd provide. Or that woman I saw in Rhodesia, Lady Florence Dixie. Wearing bloomers 'II make little impression on a lion, unless a little natural curiosity.
"That forbidden hill, where they used to throw the slaves down from the rocks. 'Oh, what a place for a mission, Mr Horn!' she says. She was looking up like one of these saints in a picture.
"Th' only white woman I met on the Coast except Nina T??? She was goddess in a Josh House. But I've told you that before. But I'm forgetting Madame Fischer, that little Frenchwoman who kept a little store and sold mostly drinks out of it to officers. A proper poison shop in a climate like that. About thirty-five she was. If she'd had anything of the mother about her she'd not have provided young fellers with a death warrant. Aye, the Latin races are hard, even to the females. If she'd been a Liverpool woman she'd 'a' said: "Nay, lad. Better make yourself scarce out of here. Better let me make you a nice cup o' tea now."
"That stove you gave me is sure a godsend, Ma'am. A man's not to be called homeless while he can kindle a flame of his own and call another feller in to it. Well?I'd better be getting along to au revoir before I wear out me welcome."
THE water of the lakes is wonderfully clear, so much so that in many places you can see the bottom plainly. These lakes are joined together by swamps and one could possibly travel by them from Lake Eninga to the country inhabited by the Black Cammas. Looking round these lakes at the perfect shadows of villages canoes trees plantations etc it gives one the impression that you are floating in mid-air. The effect is wonderful. There are no passages to enter these lakes large enough to permit large steamers or boats on account of the narrowness of the inlets. Submerged rocks in places make them dangerous although I could use my sail and had very little paddling to do. The lagoons extending east and west for many miles are skirted by large Groves, the tall trees of great variety support a dome of foliage of various hues. Butterflies of many shades and colours flit around, whilst parrots of various kinds make a home here. The prettiest of these is the Kiombo which is green with a beautiful head-crest and in captivity makes a beautiful talker but is not so hardy as the East coast Pretty Poll which will live nearly anywhere. The varieties of beautiful fauna and flora to be found here beggars description whilst a Zoo let loose inhabits these places. The people inhabiting these lakes are Galwas or Eningas, who cut rubber in the interland lying south whilst ebony is to be found nearby in abundance. The country is ruled by small chiefs, many of whom I visited; they would invariably trot out their wives and you were told to pick out one or more and not to feel lonesome in his town. This is looked on as a matter of course by all the tribes except the cannibal tribes who are absolutely moral. I found trade was excellent nearly all the trading posts needed new stocks, whilst most of them were even able to pay their debts with the stocks of ivory, ebony, rubber, etc, besides a not inconsiderable quantity of tortoise-shell they had on hand.
I left the big lake before daybreak and soon after sunrise was in the Ogowe River which was very low. As we passed the big sandbanks huge crocodiles slipped into the water from the banks on which they had laid mouth open whilst the Tick birds picked their teeth free from insects etc. Hippos were numerous while waterfowl herons egrets and many other birds were busy feeding on the fish that come yearly in great numbers from the sea to spawn. The crocodiles grow to a tremendous size and I measured some of them especially one who often could be seen on the long sandbank near Adonimango. From the tip of his tailmark on the sand to his nose he easily measured over 33 feet, was olive green in colour to dark mud green whilst his jaws were crooked so as to give him a fine hold of any animal he once closed them on. No one had ever bothered him and I have often passed him at less than ten foot distance, he would then walk leisurely to the waters edge and would slip into the river quite unconcerned. His skin was spotted with dark brown spots. We passed several large Galwa towns on our way and the youngsters as well as many of the grown ups would bid us good morning. Mbolo Tangi, good morning, white man. I did not care to call at any of these towns as they always took whatever they had for sale to the trading stations where many of their men were employed as canoe boys to traders.
I had a good sound sleep on a sandbank that evening. The sandbanks in the open river are always the most desirable camping grounds as generally a cool breeze blows over the sand after sundown and makes the night air deliciously cool and refreshing. A swim in the river or lakes every morning makes us feel fit and ready for breakfast which we always had early. I then gave the canoe boys a tot of rum each, took a nip myself and always felt ready for everything. Leaving the camping ground before sunrise we were soon in sight of the long island where the German trading post is situated on the eastern point the left waterway of the island takes you to Adonimaningo. The island is I think twenty miles long. We felt we were nearing home once more. As we were turning from the big river we suddenly came to a standstill, talking ceased, I grabbed my rifle so did Renchoro. The left hand river was about a quarter of a mile wide and leisurely walking along the edge of a sandbank was a Huge bull Elephant making directly for our side of the river. He was about the tallest one I ever have shot. His skin hung loose about his sides and legs which reminded one of mud coloured overalls. His ponderous and nodding head carried splendid large black ivories whilst his large ears moved slowly keeping time with his leisurely stride. He entered the water about forty yards from us he then took up a trunk full of water with which he sprayed himself with ears erect, he continued the process several times, turning the end of his trunk so as to make a circular complete shower bath over his body. We had a fine view of him. The old Rascal Elephant was well known to the natives who dwelt on the Island he had paid them yearly visits from time out of mind, he was a night prowler and had killed many of the natives on his rounds and he always destroyed more then he could eat. This dangerous Pacyderme was called by the nickname of Ojuga (which means hunger and starvation) Producer of want and hunger. I could have shot him and probably killed him whilst he was crossing the river but he always held his head in a position to make the eye shot dangerous as the swag of his head was difficult to keep time with and I had been taught that the behind-the-ear shot is instantaneously fatal.
An elephant cannot see still objects. On he came slowly towards us and turned to the right twenty-five yards from us but he held his ears too close to his head for me to take a bede on the fatal shooting spot. As he left the water he headed for the rocky hill-side quite close to us and commenced to climb upwards but gave me no chance for a sure kill. Up he went and as the hill was very steep he seemed to be climbing a ladder. He took his time but never stopped, he was a splendid climber. About one hundred feet above the water he trumpeted, his ears were up but he was tail on. As the path was small and dangerous he had signalled ahead that he was coming and wanted a clear road. Suddenly he turned with ears still up. I fired. No result. I fired again with a rifle quickly handed to me by my boy who was good at the job and always behind me loading up. Another shot behind the ear, no result. He quickened his pace and Disappeared. I jumped to the sandbank with my boy and as I pointed my rifle the Rascal fell backwards, the shots had taken effect. He was quite 200 feet high when he fell backwards, bringing what seemed the hill with him, down down he came with a few tons of loosened rock and a cloud of dust with him and fell into the river about ten yards from the canoe with his head on the sandbank and his huge body in the water. We had all cleared away the canoe boys diving like frogs from a log. When we all had ceased laughing and the dust had cleared away we found he was quite dead, the hind portion of his body being covered in a pile of rock and dust. My deserted canoe was now adrift going down stream. So I gave strict orders to Renchoro for everybody to get busy. I gave them a good tot of rum each and guessed the weight of my prime black ivories after measuring them at 150 pounds which was a good guess as they scaled 156 pounds when taken from the head.
The Chief of the island inhabitants was sent for and made his appearance in a large war canoe. This was the celebrated chief Efanginango (Fear none but my own people). He was a fine old man and he and his people were Mpongus, the same race as the Mpongus of Gaboon. He was chief of a very superior race to those surrounding him on the mainland who respected him but he kept aloof from them and when he and his people were not disturbed he and his people were not fighters from away back. His bodyguard were well armed with both guns and spears. He shook hands with me in European style and said he was forced to congratulate me on my luck. Why do you call it luck. Why my son he said in pure Mpongwe, I have known him when I was a boy and I have speared him in the left side in a fatal spot but he went away and cured up, we hunted him high and low as I was then growing wild illotos (bananas) and he visited me the next year. Two of my slaves who were near shot him at close range and he turned and trampled them both to pulp but escaped. Although we followed him for two days. He has led a charmed life he has been hunted by my father and grandfather to whom he was well known and here he lays, this Rascal of all Elephants Ojuga.
As I had promised my boys the meat of the brute they made a trade with Efanginango for mats native hats and a large leopard skin Cape or blanket like the one he now wore, quite a good war gain I thought. In turn I bought this from them giving them a good price for it as it was perfect and madeup of 20 large tree leopard skins. The chiefs people now began to arrive in large numbers from the island bringing with them ijos (bushlights) and a good supply of palm wine and in no time fires were lit and there was a full-blown muscle dance in progress, men in line, girls on the other side, one couple would trot out and shake up the sandbank whilst the rest sang the hunters song Oh' Oh' Ricine Njogu macula go walal (Translated: Oh Ricine?a famous hunter of bygone days?the elephant has fallen into a trap). In other words has been caught napping. The chief had skins spread on the sand on which he and I sat and watched the Conjo. The musicians were about the best I had heard, their wild music sounding well on the open river and the Ngomas or native drums. They kept this Conjo up till next day. The tusks of Ojuga were laid at my feet as well as the Oquinde or tail, this I offered to the Old Chief who gladly accepted it.
Whilst he spoke holding up the trophy the Conjo ceased:?My people I have accepted this Oquendy which must always be kept in honour amongst you in honour of the visit of this white man whom I am proud to welcome, I order you always to help this white man at any time and he is always welcome to my home at any time. Loud vabus or cheers were the answer to this nice timely little speech and at a nod from the smiling old man the Conjo proceeded. Elephant meat was now handed round and whilst the chief and I regaled ourselves on French brandy the rest of the dancers drank rum and palm wine, whilst the bank was covered with small fires above which hung chunks of elephant meat being roasted and smoked at the same time. Old Efanginango and I now became very friendly, he was about the whitest native I ever met, his jokes were great and I had to laugh outright at some of them and we eventually drifted into the history of old elephants.
This old man told me that old elephants always had a favourite ogey or spring of clear cool water generally in a grove, (the one I had killed would surely have made for one of these which he thought was situated a little west of Lake Azingo,) whilst a young elephant when badly wounded invariably died near the creek crossings or watering places he was used to as bathing and cooling resorts; not only that but the younger elephants would be killed or badly beaten off if they approached the Ogeys or springs resorted to by the rogue elephants who were invariably chased off from their herds when they were useless as breeders, the younger bulls would unite and chase him out. This he said he was doubly sure of. The old Ivory, green and coloured ivory, was always dug up from around these places near a spring and was always full-grown ivory, whilst he could not remember finding any small scrivellos or female ivory in these ogeys. Thus I had what I think is the truth about the old story of elephants burial grounds.
The Chief and I turned in about midnight although the Conjo was still in full swing. The Chief and I after eating a hearty midnight meal cooked sandbank style, took a duck and dorus, and rolling ourselves up with our heads resting on a skin-covered sand pillow, were soon in the land of dreams, and as we were two sound sleepers we did not wake until dawn.
"No thank you, Ma'am, I'll not be needing the screen to-day. I like to see out while I can?at my age.
"Aye, there's something about old Sol's rays that nobody ever thought of. I am instructed by Nature to put my head in the sun. 'Stay in the sun' is her message to the world at large. No need for these fellers to agitate the world with their so-called violet rays. 'Twas Nature's teaching in the twilight of the world's history. Even on the Coast I never wore these fancy sun-hats you see on the cinema. Just me ordinary.
"Every cow-puncher of my day wore a soft-hat. Of course on the coast helmets were the thing for the religious, missionaries and so on. Fancy tourists'd not be without them, and magistrates'd find them a bit more imposing. But for busy men there's nothing beats an English hat. Thirty-five years ago they were sending out hats at a hundred dollars apiece for Mexicans. Aye, English-made hats for Mexico and Peru. Not a hidalgo nor a well turned-out cow-puncher but fancied he ought to wear an English hat. In the Persian gulf, too, I always wore one. They're handy, whether there or on the Coast.
"Aye, the sun was just as friendly to me on the Coast as at Frea. Me grandfather's house in Lancashire. The sun was up early there in the summer. We used to lean out in our night-gowns, four in the morning. There'd always be a thrush on the lawn, tapping his snail shell on a stone. 'Twas a fine sunny room and you could climb out on to a porch. There was one of these prancing dobby-horses pushed up in a corner. We'd all had him. There was a bit of the plaster broken off one of his fiery nostrils but he moved all right.
"Aye, when you look at Nature's surroundings?Those lakes I'm speaking of are clear as dew. Strange apparitions you'll see if you keep your boat still and look down through the water. Nature at her task and a young lad like me surprising her at it, that'd never been seen by blue eyes before mine. I could never get me fill of staring. I was always one for finding out. The strange picture of Nature'll entrance any boy more than simple bloodshed.
"I'd have me gun with me but of ten'd go back without a shot fired. 'Twould 'a' been like taking a man unawares to shoot those birds bright as popinjays. They didn't know me for a man. Homo Sapiens with a gun'd not shattered their trust in Nature.
"Aye, when you're a lad confronted with the eye of Nature your thoughts're pure as the day when you sat turning a picture book before you could read. I'd sit there staring in the water?And one day I saw the strange birth of the dragon-flies. All those creatures?sort of caddis it was?in dozens. A regular school, climbing up on the gunwale out of the water. I was near the bank and there must 'a' been some water plants touching the boat's bottom. And after they'd got dry in the sun there came one bright drop of water on the tail-end of each. Then it shot a tail out and unfolded itself and shook out its new wings 's if they'd felt crumpled in the packing and turned all fancy colours before my very eyes. 'Twas like the sun pouring colour into them that'd been kept empty. All colours you could name. And eyes?beautiful. They seemed to look at you, and size up the scenery before they'd make up their minds to launch out. They stayed for near an hour on my boat and you could see them getting strong and quivering their wings for life's pleasure. Then they flew off on their swift errands, catching mosquitoes.
"Increase your dragon-flies and you'll lessen your mosquito output. Over the water, always hunting mosquitoes. And in the dark shades of the forest you'll see them at mid-day, always hunting mosquitoes. Aye, the balance of Nature?leave it alone and it'll function to perfection. But to see 'em climb up was a strange apparition. I've seen a kind of carp one that could move out o' the water with some rudiments of legs he'd got. In process of evolution towards a lizard is how I diagnose him. Got the land hunger as they say. On the move, same as Abraham with his flocks and herds. Aye, 'tis the great instinct of man and beast for movement that keeps the world spinning over and over in space. And the sun that burst the dragon-flies on my lake'll not forsake me in less favoured circumstances.
"Excuse me not noting the time, Ma'am. How did you like the narrative of the rogue elephant? In the world of literature you're dust and ashes if you haven't got a background of facts. What people may not have realised is that the elephant is a mountaineer. Nimble as a goat once you get him on rocks. 'Tis nothing for him to put his four feet together on a tub in the circus. He can perch on the smallest patch of a rock and never be clumsy about it. Aye, he has the brains of a climber, with the mind always on what's before him. That rogue elephant had likely been a young feller in those parts when Prince Charlie came strutting to Preston. And none to gaze on him then except savages. 'Tis handed down as a duty, to kill him, and part of the family lore to know his whereabouts.
"Aye, nothing so savage as the creature forsaken by his kind. An elephant's too human to enjoy solitude, same as a bull. All he can make of it is to get into mischief, same as humans. Trampling and trumpeting about until the swamp holds him too fast, one day when he's gone to drink as usual, and he can't pull his great weight out. Aye, I can feel for the feller now. 'Twas a grander death my gun provided for him. More majesty in that ponderous fall."
I ROSE early, the Conjo was still in progress and Efanginango rose at the same time. I told the old chief that I wished to reach Eninga lake before sundown that day as I had business to attend to there. He said he would like me to stay a little while at his village, as he wished to pay my boys for the elephant and also give me some food for my journey which was the custom of himself and his people. We arrived at his village which lay back from the river bank about a mile, in a short space of time. His town was quite picturesque, being built near a small lagoon or lake round which were his plantations. The house built by the Efinangos tribe were far Superior to any I had seen since leaving Gaboon. They were built generally above the ground and the floors were made of split African bamboo or palm, nicely interwoven so that they gave slightly when walked upon. In many of these houses the women were weaving mats of many designs and were well designed and pretty. Here Efinango gave me some specially prepared palm wine which was really a beautiful and refreshing drink and with this I was served with sweet pudding made of stamped monkey or pea-nuts mixed with ripe bananas and boiled like a sailor's duff but instead of being tied in linnen it was wrapped in green Banana leaves and to me tasted delicious. Before parting the Chief begged me to call on him when passing and I could always count on his friendship and his people's. After a hearty handshake I bade the Old Man adieu and was soon well away to lake Eninga.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this village. I arrived at Carl Worman and Cos about midday and had a hearty welcome from Herr Schiff and his new assistant. Her Boome. We all had hearty laughs at the many comical incidents that occurred during my trip. Especially my boy's trip through the whale rock. As I wanted to finish my journey to Eninga I promised Herr Schiff an early visit when this was over. Eninga was reached about one hour after leaving my best friends. And I had quite a good reception from the Eninga boys and their Blind King. Here I also met Nina's father-in-law, who claimed to be doing wonders for the people. He had raised a dead man to life and had also found a charm which if worn round the neck like a necklace would prevent anyone being killed by gunshot or by a bullet fired from a gun. He was very friendly with the Eninga King and years before that he and some of his ilk had persuaded the Chief to have his eyes put out. The old King was stone blind and believed he could transport his spirit to any part of the earth. He was always surrounded by numerous clients some of whom were suffering from numerous kinds of ailments. Some of these people were medically attended to by the witch doctor previously mentioned whilst others were supposed to be bewitched. For small or large payments the King of Eninga agreed to transfer the malady of the patient to the body of the man or woman who had bewitched them. This he believed he could do, as being blind, he could talk to the spirits by day as well as by night. The natives believed him implicitly as he was known to have effected some marvelous cures, which could not be treated by the famous witch doctor.
I had not much business to do at Eninga so I did not stay there long. It is a beautiful lake and as I have previously mentioned joined Eliwa Mpolo etc. The water of these inland lakes is quite clear and all surrounded by groves and Impondis or plantations and as they are only a few miles distant from the trading Stations, the Eningas supply more than half the food required for these large trading stations. Whilst the Eninga chief was busy chasing up witches, the crafty witch doctor, who was pationately fond of rum with which I supplied him liberally, kept incessantly telling me of his marvelous cures and charms. Under the influence of Bachus he went fast asleep. That gave me a good chance to tell my boy Renchoro to go through his bag as I wanted to look at his stock in trade. This resulted in the discovery of two blacklead balls and a few pieces of magnetic iron strong enough to pick up a needle. These I kept. I had discovered his secret of being shot at without receiving any injury as the black lead or graphite ball split up into dust on being rammed home with a steel ramrod and the bigger the charge of powder you put behind the dust the more it pulverised so that fired at a distance of 60 or 70 yards you stud no chance of being hurt. I told Renchoro to get out a bottle of Old Dom which I used as a pick-me-up occasionally. He then roused the witch doctor and as he asked for a bracer I served him with a stiff tot of Domican. I did not see the Arch Scoundrel again till about sunrise and as the boys made ready for departure he drank rum and Old Dom until we bade him adieu. He told me he was about to sell his charms to the Mpangus and begged me to advertise him as he knew I had great power with the Bimvool who stood in great need of enlightment. This of course I promised to do, for such a great Benefactor of the Human Race as he. He felt elated with my answer. I could not say good-bye to the blind King as he was asleep and supposed to be chasing witches.
We were soon clear of Eninga and well on our way to Adoninanongo. I told Renchoro all about the black lead trick and that he had better go over to the Pangwe town and see Matam, the son of the chief and tell him all about it. And not to forget to tell him that this rascal was visiting them to sell his charms and make a display. At this we laughed but I never thought this little joke would end so fatally for the raiser of the dead at Eninga.
Needless to say I had a great welcome from Sinclair and Gibson, his young assistant. Immediately on arrival I handed over my tin box with charts, state of trade in various places etc and the new passages I had found opposite Isogis and Ramb Ingogus towns. I also told him that on invitation of the Panguis at lake Azingo, large bodies of their friends, all rubber and ebony cutters were fast settling round the lake so that the trade in the near future could be easily doubled. In fact there was one good sized village had already reached the coast and as this trade would all come to Lake Azingo, we would be badly in need of a small tug or steam launch of small draught, powerful and built to burn wood. Such a boat had been ordered but how now become a real necessity. This and other business information I had brought with me was joyfully received by Sinclair who urged me to take a couple of weeks holiday. He congratulated me on my trip and confessed the knowledge I had imparted to him was new and certainly must be attended to at once. We had a revival supper and a sing song and the next day found the chief and his clerk busily engaged on the homeward mail. About six o'clock that evening I received a visit from Matam who wanted me to come out at once as the Azingo witch doctor had appeared amongst them and was about to give them an exhibition before selling his charms. This I mentioned to Sinclair, who advised me to go by all means as the Mpangues of the Bimvool were by far our best customers and as I knew their language so well they were reluctant to sell their rubber and ivory to anyone else. Sinclair had a great eye to business but little knew what I had up my sleeve. I asked for a few presents for the chief and was told to take anything I wished and charge same to Trade Diplomasy. You know, he said, all is fair in trade, love and war. On arival at the Bimvool town we went immediately to the grove where ceremonies, dances etc took place. Here I was greeted by the witch doctor of Azingo, he was waiting our arrival as Matam was to fire the gun and my presence would add some charm to the Scene. He was ready for the performance and I gave the old Chief who was Matams father a drink of old dom, then I drank, Matam drank and the witch doctor took a big gulp which made him close one eye for a second. The old chief now lifted up his short spear and ordered Bimvool taba se, which means All sit down. This order was obeyed immediately. The witch doctor then stepped off the ground about 65 yards. He then handed the ball to Matam and told him to load which he did using the steel ramrod. The witch doctor then began waving his arms and making sounds as if talking to the spirits. He then said, When I stretch both arms and look at you mouth open, fire. He now stretched out both arms, looked towards the Sky and Matam fired. The Rascal Witch doctor made half a turn and fell dead. Matam had slipped a ball into the gun unseen. Such a roar of laughter followed this incident. The old Chief called for Order and everything was quiet immediately, these cannibals have great respect for their old chiefs and obey them implicitly. My children, he said, you have seen to-day what a great Cuckverrot (Talkative idiot) this man has been. He came here to show that he could not be shot by an Empangwe and ordered his own execution. I tell you no mans medecine or charm can stop a bullet fired by Ajuna-ie-limba, a man with the twisted hair, Anjuna is the battle cry of the Mpangwes. Now tell his people who came with him to take this fool away and tell them not to come here with their charms but go else where to people who are as great fools as themselves.
The meeting dispersed still laughing and joking at the dead witch doctor's expence. The Mpangwe village was crowded with ivory hunters, as there was an elephant drive about to take place. The animals were about 25 miles away and were being lured into an enclosure several miles in circumference. Once in the enclosure the trapped animals have no chance of escape, as the hunters in force close round the place and form a ring which is seldom broken. About 150 animals composed this herd, which were looking for fresh pastures, and those migrations took place yearly, and always in the dry season. Had they not been interfered with this bunch were heading for the southern shores of Eliwa Mpolo. But the Mpnagways, always on the qui vive, generally get them before they arrive at the promised land. In these migrations the hunters say the young elephants are led by the old bulls who have made the trip before, and like migrating birds, when they are lonesome they go to the interior and fetch back fresh inhabitants for the districts they live in. No one but the drivers ever go near the enclosure. The animals are coaxed into the enclosure by food being placed at intervals on the way to the trap. Their food consists of wild (ilotos) small red bananas, odika nuts, palm nuts banana leaves and a variety of choice foods loved by the elephants. These foods are also distributed in the enclosure and help to keep the animals quiet, without this they would easily break down the enclosure which is very weak in places and makes one wonder why they do not break through. The food must have a very quieting effect on them. I left the village the next morning with orders that as soon as the elephants were trapped I should be warned as I wanted to see the animals before the killing.
Herr Shiffe was more than glad to see me and we spent most of our time that day and part of the night in making plans for future trade, for our mutual benefit. As the trade in ivory, rubber, etc., was increasing by leaps and bounds it was more than ever apparent to anyone who had an eye to the future that keen competition up-country was absolutely ruinous for both firms. United we could have done better but being two opposites the best we could do was to have a plain understanding as to our modus operandi in the out-door trade. It was I that first broached the subject and Herr Shiff concurred or gave his reasons why not. Mutual help in distress was one of the main subjects and also no encroachment on each other's territories. To this we both agreed and whilst I and Herr Shiff were in the interior the agreement was never broken and further more we fought for each other up the river and were twice as powerful as we would have been working at logerheads. As time went on it became a glaring fact that our private agreement had saved many lives and made trade possible in places where otherwise we should never have been able to hold our own Singly. I turned in and slept soundly that night and was awakened early next morning by Matam the hunter that the elephants were in the enclosure. I made all haste and after breakfast took an early departure to see the fun. Herr Shiff gave Matam an order for a young elephant to be delivered at his trading post and this was afterwards delivered. Young African elephants are difficult to sell as they never become properly tamed but Herr Shiff wanted one for a friend in Germany. On arriving at the trap or enclosure we found the hunters round the enclosure. Small fires were burning at intervals in a huge circle from which rose a dence smoke, whilst some of the native spearmen walked to and fro near the circle. The elephants were leisurely walking round the trap whilst many of them were eating the food that was placed there for them. We had quite a good view of them whilst the Mpangues were watching their actions, especially the larger ones, which would give trouble and had better be killed as soon as possible. I followed Matam into the enclosure with five of my best hunters and we cautiously made our way to a spot covered with large trees and concealed ourselves. Here we were quite safe as the animals could not follow us as the space between the trees was too small. Any large opening had previously been closed with thick stakes firmly driven into the ground. After a short while two large tuskers came well in short range. Matams gun rang out and down fell one elephant whilst I got the other, whilst a large grown cow charged a small piece of our fort which had been enclosed and with such force that she nearly succeeded in forcing an entrance, but she was soon dispatched. It was some time before the big ones came our way whilst firing had now opened in several places. We killed quite a great number in this manner but all the larger game seemed to be giving the most trouble about the entrance to the enclosure. We decided on moving and giving a signal to the hunters on the outside they lifted back some brush so as to give us an opening. On receiving a signal I was the first to slip out and the rest followed one by one and we all got clear without mishap.
Great caution is necessary as the animals were now on the alert and would charge anything moving inside the trap. We had the good fortune to see one large elephant break through the enclosure near the entrance as he had charged a retiring hunter. The Mpangues followed him up running and dodging like hounds, they are splendid hunters and are absolutely fearless. The big animal was soon made to look like a porcupine as the barbed spear thrown with unerring aim found an easy billet in his huge body. He made for the river but was there met by the natives who were camped on the edge of the forest he had entered. These men seldom lose a wounded elephant.
As the shades of evening were casting long shadows from the trees I decided to return home and I left this motley crowd of savages. On our return we met many native women, walking Indian file through the glades and jungle carrying away elephant meat. These animals are much larger than the Indian or in fact the elephants of Rhodesia and are more ferocious. The elephants are mostly hunted in the dry season as at this season they find plenty of food round the lakes and creeks and rivers. And as they are fond of bathing and good water they roam in herds along these water-courses. Of the world's yearly supply of ivory I have heard it said by men who were in the ivory markets for many years, by far the most and certainly the best ivory comes from that portion of the west coast called the Ivory Coast. I have visited many of these elephants traps and could never understand why the animals did not break through the enclosure as in many places it would have given them no trouble to do so.* (*Mr. Horn once told me that for two days after being trapped the elephants never stopped marching mechanically round and round the enclosure, which they could have trampled down with ease. This is reminiscent of Fabre's processionary caterpillars, except that the wild banana seemed eventually to break the spell. Ed.)All the information on this point was the animals are so fond of the red iloto wild bananas that after eating them they become probably tame. In the same way they say that gorillas will only make their home near Nyondo patches. The nyondo is the wild shallot or onion. The cannibal tribes are meat eaters and always have a supply of smoked meat on hand. This they often sold to the canoe boys at so much a basket. These baskets contain about half a bushell and the contents consist of elephant meat dried rats (Enongos) rats about the size of small rabbits with round ears. Also a variety of monkeys dried and smoked. I have often seen gorillas hands, the hands, feet and other portions of chimpanzees etc. The Mpangues seldom or never eat fish and I never saw a case of leprosy amongst them or elephantiasis (swelled leg or foot), so common and fatal amongst the fish eaters. I arrived at Adinango next morning as I had attended the Blood brother ceremony of the Fans. This is a simple ceremony, which consists of a man handing you a piece of sugger cane smeared with blood taken from the arm of your blood brother. My blood brother was Matam who stood next me in line. This simple ceremony over, I watched a canibal dance this beggars description, loud shouting and cries of Anjuna i timba rent the air guns were fired in volleys in great time and roll like well-drilled musketry fire, whilst spear dancers painted all colours and shades kept time to a band of savages whose only music was a reed placed in the nostril this sounded wierd in the extreme. After this I parted with a guard of spearmen drawn in two lines as far as my canoe, whilst my departure was heralded by cryes of Rest contented Brother of the Fans!
On arriving at Adinango I received news that Count Debrazza would be with us when the waters of the Ogowe had risen as he intended to visit the interior, which he did later and formed what is now known as the French Congo with its interior capital of Brazzaville situated opposite Stanley-pool. So that between Stanley and Debrazza they had taken in a country bigger than Germany and Austria with little or no trouble from the outside European powers.
"How do you like it, Ma'am? I'm too old for boasting and it's no fancy of mine that people like to read about facts that have lain undisturbed by the pen of man. Unsullied is my word. 'Tis a good word. Aye. Unsullied.
"That witch doctor's death provides a comical episode. 'Twas that feller poisoned George T???. Excuse me, but I'd rather not have the name mentioned. Brentwood, de Trafford?any name you like but we'll keep off T???. The father of the goddess. You remember I told you Nina T??? was in the Josh House, goddess to the Isorga. She had auburn hair somewhat above the average, although done close in the way of Egyptian classics it hardly showed to advantage. When the eye is used to the ladies' fashions of England anything else seems over-romantic. My sister?Emily, not Edith?Edith was a Sister of Mercy?always seemed to fancy the chignon. An old maid. Lives next to Miss in Lancashire. It was surely a bit of a novelty for a lad to see hair done like a picture?ornaments of ivory and so on. Very pretty it looked, although she was on the pale side. A bit startling for a lad's been thinking of a bonny lass in ringlets in a Lancashire lane.
"Aye, that poor feller George T??? was only ill for a day, his boy told me. "Master very well in the morning, in the evening very sick and cried out too often." That's what he told me. And dead before midnight. Then the witch doctor took his master's wife away with him, he said. I told you George T??? had married an octoroon from Princess Island. A lovely woman, old John D??? told me. H'd been on the Ivory a donkey's years. Seen her once on one of his journeys. The little girl was eight or nine then, the boy said. Might have been younger?you know how a native can't be accurate about age, especially if it's a white person. She was given up to the priests of the Josh House to be trained as the goddess. He could never get near her after that. Not Victoria herself had a stricter bringing-up than a goddess'd have to go through. No choosing a Prince Albert for Nina. Strictly virgin is the law, 'n if you break it, you die. Aye, he couldn't get near her after that. He'd been fond of his master, that feller. He showed me the little picture book that her father'd been teaching her from.
"From Calabar, that witch doctor. A wicked feller. 'Twas he put out the chief's eyes. At the chief's own request, mind you. The feller'd told him that if he was blind he'd be able to see where his enemies were in the night and kill them. But any fool could see it would give the witch doctor a free hand if the chief was blind. With boiling water he did it.
"I admit it wasn't a gentlemanly thing to do, to look in the feller's bag any more than you'd put your hand in old Dr.???'s bag that used to come to Frea. But no Englishman's ever a gentleman when it comes to taking what he wants from a foreign country.
"Pretended to raise the dead, that feller. All I can say is the specimen I saw that he'd raised'd had his nose plugged up with something to keep him alive before he'd been buried. Some sort of trance. Just cheap conjuring tricks is what he excelled in. You can picture that with a blind chief and all, that place was a proper hot-bed of necromancy.
"That elephant hunt makes a pretty splash of activity. What's so peculiar about that way of catching 'em is that they'll walk round and round in a circle for a day or a couple of days, following the leader and never thinking of breaking through the brushwood. 'Tis only when they get exhausted that they'll turn and eat the bananas that lured 'em in. Then the beaters can manage them easily. 'Tis only if you want a bit of fun you go in before they start this procession idea. They make pitfalls, too, to catch single elephants. Dig a pit and cover it nicely with brushwood and bait it with the wild bananas. Aye, 'tis easy enough to catch an elephant, once you make up your mind to be no gentleman about it. When you've done as much watching as I you'll know how to treat the different children of the wilds. 'Tis a grand life?watching. It'll stay your hand, that's too ready to kill, when you're a lad. You've got to give an elephant his conge in no shameful manner. The lion, too?he's such a sensible soul. Dainty, too, like a lady over his food. It's only certain portions, he'll tolerate. The hyena now'll not leave two bootsful of his kill, or anybody else's kill. He's a 'coarse feller, no death's bad enough for.
"Why, yes, Ma'am, write to my brother, if you've a mind to. He's priest at ???. For myself I don't hold with letters. It's always been my habit to go home every six or seven years, when my bank balance was good. If ever I've been short on the Coast I could always fall back on a few ivories. Same when I balanced me account for Sinclair. If it fell short I'd always twenty or thirty ivories to depend on. Here there's nothing but philanthropy. I've no wish to go home with nothing but that in me pocket, instead of what I'd been able to seize for myself from the circumstances of Fortune."
THE next few days of holliday were spent in picking out posts for a new station which was built about one mile below Carl Woormans down the river, as our present location was up stream and we had the cannibals thickly settled close to us on the east and a troublesome tribe of Galwas on the north and west. It was a dangerous position to be in. In fact the Galwas declared war on us but these people were easily conquered. Mustering a force of cannibals which I led and all the spare force of native employes we had we rushed their town which was quite a large one. The Mpangues advanced in two lines in extended order like Europeans, whilst a strong force of spearmen crept leisurely in the rear. The firing which took place as we neared the town was systemmatically poured in volleys like drilled troops and continued for some time so as to give the spearmen a good rest at charging distance. The battle cry of Anjuna now Rolled out and the town was in our hands in short order. There was very little Loss on either side. The Chief was captured and sent to Gaboon where he received a sentence of three years to Sennagal. This had quite a good effect on these troublesome natives. The loss on the Galwa side would have been heavy but the cannibals had orders to wound and kill as few as possible.
Both Herr Schiffe and Sinclair were very pleased with this little battle which put an end to the small rows which were continually occurring and were often accompanied by fatalities. The precincts of the trading stations were afterwards sacred and no fighting was allowed there. Whilst engaged in picking out trees for the new station my hunting boys came in with the news that they had sighted gorillas about three miles inland in a valley near a small creek. It was about noon when we came up with them and as their hearing and sight is keen it is necessary to use great caution if you want to get near them. Being still a youngster it was my custom to watch the natural antics of animals, and as gorillas were easy to be had I often went to watch them. We had a splendid view of this bunch. There were five, one mammy with a big youngster, two medium sized and one big one with an odd looking face, his eyes were more sunken and he had large busshy eyebrows. They were drinking from the water vines. One would climb up the Vine, which was a large one whilst the mammy stayed below and the youngster watched progress from fifty feet away. The vine they swung on was about twenty-five feet from the ground but held tight. They wanted either to pull a long length of it down or had some other object in view. Presently it gave a little and down came the lot. All lighted without misshap and after a few moments in which the young ones executed a few turns they mounted the vine again. The two smaller ones first, then the mammy had a go nearer the ground where they swung and tugged a while, now the old man gave a grunt and jumping clear of the ground grabbed mammi round the waist. Mammy was fast held with the hands and feet and the old man swung around and now and then would give a high jink up and down. The old Girl must have been strongly built round the waist to stand this stunt. Eventually down came the vine. Instead of drinking at once they all, baby as well began to pick something like a large wood lice from the fallen water carrier. Mammy was the first to break a hole in the vine which baby began to drink or suck from she then burst another hole which must have been rather large as the water drenched her like a hose she jumped back and shook her head when one of my boys laughed and spoiled the game. As quick as lightning the youngster jumped on mammys chest and off went the gang all but daddy whom I had covered. He was quite a big fellow and I buried him in an ant-heap. He was a fine speciman not so tall as some I have shot but he made up for it in chest measurement. The ants soon consume the flesh and leave a clean skeleton in short order. On our way back we surprised a group of black monkeys but they scampered off into the dark forest so quickly that all got safely away. These Monkeys grow to a good size and their skins fetch a good price on the London market. The natives get them by still hunting and kill them with poisoned arrows. After being shot at they will scamper away quickly always choosing the darkest shades and as they are jet black they are hard to shoot. They are curious and after one is killed by a poisoned arrow they will break away but will soon return to see what has taken place. In this manner I have known a lucky native get more than a dozen in three or four hours.
I returned to the station and the next morning before sun up I was off for the head waters of this big river the Angani which lies about southeast from the Anjuni. My orders were to make a navigation chart of this important river and even if possible to continue above Samba Falls to Ashira as down this river come yearly large supplies of rubber ebony and a little ivory. I slept on a sandbank near Ngukis town a very powerful chief who claimed to own the river as far as Samba Falls. All traders call at Njukis place and as he was powerful and kept peace in the river as far as he held sway he was considered a man it was necessary to keep on good terms with. I made very many trips up the Anjuni and very seldom had any trouble and could always settle bother that occurred between our traders (who were many) without bloodshed.
At Njukis town in front of the chiefs house was a large spreading tree and this tree had been the home of beautiful parrots who made the air pleasing with their wild notes as they came to and fro. These parrots were never molested and were looked upon as sacred. The nights which were mostly spent on the sandbanks were deliciously cool and the river breeze chased away the flying pests such as midges, mosquitoes, etc. The harmless hippos could often be seen feeding on the banks and showed up plainly by a fosforescent glow round the jaws as they chewed their food whilst often the elephants made you aware of their presence by their low trumpetings and breaking off of branches. Many crossed in the night and it was not difficult to shoot elephants at their crossings which where numerous between Njukis town and Samba Falls. The river had been used by slave traders time out of mind by the White Encomi of the coast who exchanged their home-made salt and salt fish for slaves. The sandbanks were the home in the dry season of all kinds of Equatic birds these were well fed on the various kinds of fish which came from the far ocean to spawn yearly. The Okelleys inhabited both sides of the river and were paid tribute by both traders and slavers, but the amount paid was what the traders wished to give. The next river of note is the Rembakoi (called rembald or long river). This river rises or runs far away through Ngilla the capital of the Okellies. The chief trade occupation of the people inhabiting the Angani is rubber cutting which is considerable. About one-half of the rubber that finds its way to the trading stations of the Ogowe comes from the Anguni and its tributaries.
The dawn is called by the natives Injuna or the gorillas awakening as the noise they make commencing with a scream ends with a tremendous roar which can be heard afar and is followed by a beating of the broad chest of the mail and sounds not unlike a drum. Some of the natives I have heard imitate the gorilla to perfection and likewise his finishing grunts which they say are his language. After leaving the old Chiefs town we passed many villages which were all situated on the west bank of the river whilst animals of various kinds held sway and roamed at will in the forests of the east bank which was a hunters paradise as the forest trees were tall and allowed an easy passage below their wide-spreading tops and afforded a welcome shade to the traveller or hunter. We passed several large canoes with their cargoes of slaves bound for the coast. Contrary to what you might expect they were a happy lot, boys and girls mixed with elderly negroes and their families all seemed happy as they new that they were bound for the coast where they would be able to eat salt, saltfish, etc. In fact I have talked with many old slaves who had dwelt on the coast for years and I never heard any who were not contented with their new homes and Masters. Count Debrazza sent word up the rivers and down the rivers for native slaves to go up country and live happily and in perfect freedom in his new town of Brazzaville. But after waiting a while and advertising this amongst the natives the amount of slaves who joined him were very few, in fact not a canoe load which I thought was very discouraging. In fact as I already have said they preferred to stay with their masters rather than endure the hardships they had gone through in their inland countries which are practically saltless.
I had a splendid trip to the mouth of the Remba Koi which is situated about one easy days travel by canoe from Samba Falls. Here Herr Shiff had an educated sennagelese trader who entertained me royally. He had quite a large and well stocked trading store and did a large trade with the natives of the Ramba Koi. I called on him frequently and he always made me perfectly at Home. After leaving this river the Ivilis are met with and make their homes here in the mountains of the Injuni. Next came Samba Falls which are not very high but are picturesque as they are wide. The King of the Evilis has his big town here nestled in rows or small streets along the hill on both sides of the river, whilst the rapids below are singularly beautiful with their eddies and swirling currents keeping time with the incessant roar of the falls. The large Okilli or road for trade and slaves leaves the mountain town of Samba and runs in a south easterly direction and is the only road to the interior laying south of Brazzaville and extends with its many branches nobody knows exactly where. Here I met many slave traders and as we had many traders at Samba Falls and likewise on the main road I felt more than at home at Samba Falls. The chief of the Evilis was a very old man and had a great many ancestors according to his story which he was ever ready to dole out. The cannibal tribes are good at this but this old king easily took the cake. He had a long Lineage which would have shamed the book of Gennesis. I put in the night close to him and my temporary residence was well constructed clean and much better than his own. Early in the morning I rapped at his door and shouted in a loud voice for his cumbo or list of lineage. He was alert and came out like a Jack in the Box spear in hand and went through all kinds of antics whilst we would encourage the old man by shouting Kangari if he slacked off for wind and off he would go again. We had to stop him as his story and how many forebears he had up to the time we called on him to desist already had shown that he was truly a royal chief and the beginning of his ancestry must have dated back according to what he related in his Ncumbo further than ten Chinese dynastys and took our mind back to long before the twilight of history. His effort was rewarded by a good stiff wet of whisky which the old King really enjoyed and it was laughable to watch the after effects the tight closing of his mouth and eyes and the smiling after effects that lit up his countenance. The Evilis and likewise all the inhabitants of the Anguni were passionately fond of liquor and the old king especially and as he always drank his raw I wondered what kind of an interior the old man had.
After an early breakfast I walked down the mountain to get a good look at the falls and the river beyond. At the falls I noticed a small gathering of people at the river bank and on enquiring found that this gathering was for the purpose of witnessing the drowning of an old white headed grandma who had outlived her generation. And as this is one of the laws of the Evilis I was powerless to stop it. I hurried down to the scene and was told that the man who had the legal right to drown the old white headed woman had not arrived but he soon put in an appearance. And after a little parley with the people round during which the poor victim stood bolt upright and did not show any signs of emotion the relative then seized her and tossed her into the swirl of the rapids below. This being done they walked away without even turning their heads. I put my glasses on the water and saw her white head appear above water, she seemed to be a good swimmer but after a few more seconds she disappeared. This was perfectly legal according to the laws of the natives and happens very frequently.
"I hope you were interested in the technique of a battle with savages. Aye, whenever you lose a fight in Africa you're lost. There's no softness about Nature. When you're driven from the herd it's for good. Pity's a fancy article Nature in her wisdom can only leave to humanity. She can't afford to handle it herself. Pity versus preservation of the race. That's all it is and it turned out a good system until Man thought he knew better than the powers that made him. In Nature as in international comfort it's the balance of power that must be kept delicate as a hair spring. Big issues from small adjustments, like the big weight of steam I could get out of me engine if I respected its mechanism and remembered that its inventors knew more about it than I did myself. Handling any engine keeps a man off the wild goose track whether in politics or up a new river in so-called darkest Africa. Aye, the Hiawatha was as nice a little boat as ever was turned out. Nice brass swivel gun she carried. Hatton and Cookson were always lavish in their notions. That's why they got rich.
"They'd 'a' got somewhat richer if they hadn't had Sinclair in control. 'Twas like being tied to an apron string to try and develop trade under a man like that. Not that he minded me risking me skin now and then but I could have opened out grandly if he had not been there at all. No conviviality in the man beyond an overdose of quinine. Wanted to return to the Orkneys without a scratch. I could be scratched. Aye. Always looking at her photo. But a man shouldn't embrace cowardice for any woman and her ringlets. She'll not think the more of him for betraying his brother man in extremism. What Sinclair would never venture to believe was that with the river in white hands it would mean safety for us all. Commercial equality, whether for English, German or French.
"Aye, rivers?You've got to learn from the noble savage the law of rivers. Make friends on one bank of the river and do it well and good. Then there's safe navigation. Neither in politics nor in real life can a man make friends on both banks of the river.
"But when you put one of these timorous fellows?feel your pulse and run for the doctor???
"Presbyterian he was, Sinclair.
"For a Nature-note I've put in the rare passion for salt you'll find in primitive man. Bring 'em down from Leopold's country to the salt-pans on the coast and 'twas quite pretty to see their joy over such a wealth of it. If you gave 'em a bit, they'd cover it quick in both hands and run away and hide for fear it should be stolen from them. Aye, they make some pretty songs about the salt when they first came down. Happy as crickets about it. All the salt-pan owners are rich in slaves?the slaves are so content with their surroundings. 'Buy me!' they used to beg, when they'd run away from Leopold's country, 'Buy me!' Believe me, Ma'am, a man's wealth is in his slaves. They fight for him and feed him. And their wealth lies in the comfort of having a master. A man that's got a lot of slaves is able to be a good master and not overwork 'em.
"Oh, aye, they've got a native substitute for salt up where they come from. A plant called Izanga. They burn it first and use the ashes for salt. But it can't taste stronger than soda. But it was not only the salt brought 'em from Leopold's country to work for Englishmen. Those fellers were chained to us by freedom more cleverly than they'd been attached to King Leopold by neckirons and other infamous ironmongery. Paid for out of Hell itself, that's what.
"Twas at this Samba Falls I saw Miss Hasken sketching. Hasken was it, or Haskeyne?I've forgotten how she spelt her name but I mean the mission lady who went as far as du Chaillu. She wrote nothing about it. She simply died. No bombast about her. And on that coast she'll be remembered long after du Chaillu's works have rotted to pieces in the British Museum.
"'Why, what's the matter, Mr. Horn?' she says. And we were walking through a village with great big idols sticking up at every corner. Twelve and fourteen feet high some of 'em. Painted skulls everywhere. I put a bright smile on me, Ma'am, and walked beside her with me hand in me pocket grasping me revolver. Not that it'd 'a' been any use. They'd never seen a white woman. And what a sweet face that soul had!
"'God is everywhere' she says. 'Here just the same as in my home in America.'
"And me not daring to look sideways. 'Twas the first time I felt a coward. Aye, women have more than enough to answer for when all secrets are out.
"They'd think nothing so suitable for voodoo as a white woman's body. Something unique is what they pride themselves on. Did I tell you, Ma'am, that on the Coast the remains of the gorilla have just as much value as muti (magic) as the human body? 'Tis an interesting point for the so-called scientists. These fellers who believe we spring from the ape 'II like that for a bit of evidence. Give 'em something to play with. What's any book, after all, but a compilation of facts plus ideas? And there's one of them."
I WAS kept very busy for a few days visiting traders in various places in the mountains on each side of the river below the falls. I found one of our Mpangue traders away out on the big slave road and as he was a smart shrewd business man he very willingly showed me his reason for being there. All the natives who came by these roads with rubber or other produce paid Ibango or toll to the Evili king and this toll amounted to quite one sixth of the value of the produce. No native coming from the interior was allowed to sell without coming into the town and must be accompanied by one of the citizens whilst selling and the toll was handed over immediately the purchase was made. Many of the natives would creep into this man's store and although they ran the risk of losing their purchases they would take a chance and sell their rubber either at the store or in the thick bush around it. The exchange was made very rapidly, and the trader got rich by this illicit business which went on night and day. This was rubber smuggling. Slave traders also made a good business smuggling the slaves by circuitous Routes to their boats. These slaves were examined very much after the fashion of a trader examining an animal. The most particular attention was paid to a slave's eyes. Those who had the evil eye were discarded. This disease or fault was called Devil's Eye.
Slaves were cheap, as the oversea trade in them was practically at an end. After the American war of the North and South there was a strict watch kept on the Old West Coast slavery posts, especially by the British whose gunboats continually patrolled the coast and showed no mercy to slavers. This was a boon to the large trading houses as the slaves were generally put to rubber cutting and that was the reason for the boom in rubber trade. Many useless slaves were drowned or done away with after their usefulness as rubber cutters was over. A slaver would often buy a father son and wife and leave the girl's mother behind and as the old woman was aged she was generally drowned. This practice of drowning the aged kept the crocodiles and fish well supplied with food in the Angani River.
I made daily visits to the old king and we became great friends. I told him one day that I wanted to proceed up the river above the falls as I wanted to see the white hippos I heard were to be found between the falls and Ashiwa (Ashira?) which I would also like to visit and to see them make the famous Ashiwa daggers and razors. He did not seem to relish this idea as the privilege had never been accorded to a white man and this was a strict rule, but he would call his chiefs and would do his best for me. As I was only a lad yet, and was quite a professional coaxer and promised not to do anything without his Knowledge, this request was granted especially as I promised to do no trading or to interfere in any way with the sole right of trade he possessed. Paul du Chaillu, the man who had written a book on gorilla hunting was stopped at Samba Falls and that was as far as he was allowed to travel. Here was found one of his compasses and an old musical box which had belonged to him, whilst the Evili boys who hunted for him lived near the falls.
All my routine work being finished, I bade adieu to the old King and had my large canoe pulled up to the other side of the falls and leaving a crowd of traders, slavers, etc, behind, I pulled up and across the river to an Ivea town. I was made wellcome here by the head witch doctor and chief. This was a celebrated religious town and here I saw an old doctor carving a rather hideous wooden God. These Gods were in great demand amongst the Ivelis and other natives as they were supposed to ward off evil spirits. Here I had the pleasure of buying the largest gorilla skull I have even seen and this was supposed to have great power in spirit land and as I was an Isoga (egbo) man I had no difficulty in becoming the owner of it. The purchase price was three Bottles of trade gin and a few other articles of trade. I eventually sent this to Gerrard, College Lane, Camden Town, London and I realised the best figure I ever had for a gorilla's skull. After leaving the Ineyas the river meanders through the mountains and by noon we had passed several small villages but the natives were very shy and cleared at our approach. The river was alive with bird life and I was greatly surprised at the quantity and variety of the King fishers. Here dwel the smallest ones I had ever seen up to date and looked more like blue humming birds. Next at the entrance of a small creek or river we came on the white hippos but as they were shy I did not get a chance of seeing them at their best, although one big fellow rose close to us and had a very light snout I had no chance of seeing the rest of his body but the portion of his head that showed up was certainly much Lighter than the common hippo, and as they were sacred I left them religiously alone as far as shooting was concerned. I spent a couple of days amongst the Ashira tribe and they were highly amused to see a white man. I watched the manufacture of daggers etc which were splendidly made and I bought a few fine samples which I shipped to friends in England. The rubber cut in this part of Africa found its way to Samba Falls but all cut in the southern portion of this country found its way to Cetta Camma or Fernandez Vaz on the coast and as our firm had large trading stations along the coast I came to the conclusion that it would be robbing Peter to pay Paul to establish a large trading station on that part of Africa. The rubber cut here is called flake, and is of an inferior quality to the Ogowe rubber. I heard that the Portuguese convicts who had large quantities of slaves cut a large quantity of rubber south of Ashira and as these convicts were hard taskmasters and cruell to the poor natives, they had robbed and Slaughtered their masters, and the country was in a state of ferment as these slaves were well armed and had declared their freedom which they were well able to hold. This was a good country to keep out of I thought.
The Ashiras are also copper smiths and told me they got their copper from the Anguni mountains where they declared there was a plentiful supply. The dagger and razor handles I bought were ornamented with this copper. On my return journey I again came on the white hippos but I never got a full close view of them as they were shy. The Gorillas are plentiful here and herds of elephants roam unmolested in the mountains and valleys.
Some of the mountains are very high and no doubt abound in all kinds of mineral wealth. I was fully satisfied with my visit up the Angani as I had proved beyond doubt that to use the river above the falls as an outlet for rubber and ivory would be wasted money as there was not sufficient trade to be done and also that the big slave road will be the main outlet for trade in this part of Africa. I was well received by the old King and the inhabitants of Samba Falls and as my business was all transacted I returned at once to Adonimanango where after making a full report of what I had seen and heard I made immediate preparations for a voyage up the big river the Ogowe. My trip above Samba Falls and amongst the mountains was a surprise to Mr Sinclair, who had always surmised that the river was the one and only route required to double the output of the Anjuni. But when he saw the map I drew of the big slave roads with their various branches he completely altered his views and congratulated me for my Foresight and perseverance in gaining the knowledge I put before him and furthermore he previously had told me I would not be able to proceed above the falls without a fight and had given me extra rifles as he wanted an open river. When I explained that the only shot or weapon I had found necessary was the bottle he smiled. The bottle had won and made friends where the use of weapons would never have won a complete victory and would have created everlasting ill feeling, and as Sinclair was a devout Presbeterean I never mentioned to him the great use to me of the power of Isorga.
Next I visited Carl Woormans and received such a lot of packages from little Peru as well as home letters I was forced to laugh. After reading my home correspondence I turned to little Perus who had sent two registered letters one of which contained four fifty pound bank of England notes. The first package I opened contained three imitation rubies well imitating the rough stone in the temple of Izoga, one especially came quite near being an exact duplicate. He had also sent a small camera and lens, some plates and also tin type outfit, nitrate of silver, collodion bath etc also a book of directions how to use same likewise a small dark folding tent etc. I also received a small electric battery with which I caused endless amusement amongst the natives. Next case contained two pairs of ladies shoes a couple of ladies dresses and a pair of boxing gloves. I thought Herr Shiff would never recover from laughter when I unearthed the pair of silk dresses, in fact Her Boome, his assistant could not resist coming in on our solitude and on sight of the slippers and dresses he too laughed outrageously. I left Herr Shiffs after dinner and he was still laughing as also was his assistant. After locking up all in my canoe locker I bade them a fond Au revoir.
"That was an outstanding Gorilla's head I bought above Samba Falls. One o' the best. Aye, I did well with Gerrards, Camden Town, one time and another. Cross's, Liverpool, too, and some of the zoos'd take all sorts from me. The easiest way in the end is to catch 'em as infants and keep a slave girl for foster-mother. But she'd have not to feed her own child at the same time?the monkey'd kill it. Fearful rages they exhibit even in childhood. Very choicey about the woman being clean, too. A gorilla's like humans in that way?can't stand the natural perfume of the negro. Aye, if she didn't wash herself between every feed he'd not take the breast at all. Get sulky about it. They're rare ones for the sulks. Human as a man in that respect. If any philosopher were to give it thought he'd see there's nothing brings us closer akin to the apes than the tantrums we get into.
"Taking the infants from the mother? Hard enough, I admit, but the mother can get another child. No child can replace a fond mother. Only once I shot a mother?I think I've mentioned it. When she was dying she lifted her hand and put it on the baby. She?lifted her hand . . . No man that's not homo stultus could stand it. I tried to make amends to outraged Nature. I gave the little one to one of the traders to bring up for me. Left him thirty shillings to get proper feeding for it from one of the slave women. Or it might have been two pounds. Meaning to let it loose when it was old enough?paying my debt to that poor mother that asked for pity. But it died in captivity.
"Aye, I sold some thousands of pounds worth in Europe?one thing and another. Chimpanzees are nice creatures to train. I had one for about a year and then I sold her to Crosses and they disposed of her to Manchester. I never knew it but she recognised me one day when I was walking through the Zoo there at Bellevue to see what they'd got. When I was in England it seemed a bit of home to go and look at the animals. Aye, she knew me, after three years?made a strange sound and leapt about and tried to touch me through the bars. I had a great talk with her and we soon had a big crowd listening to us. I knew her again by a mark on one of her arms. Aye, Ma'am, I met no one in Manchester I liked so well. I'd 'a' liked to take her back with me. I'd never seen one of my own catches togged up in a zoo. A very peculiar sensation it gave me. I never felt quite so keen afterwards on packing them to Europe alive. Dead and in spirits?that's harmful to no man.
"But there's always a risk in shipping anything in spirits. A man's a man for all that and you'll not find sailors differing from the rules of common humanity. They put Nelson in spirits after the battle. But when the keg was unpacked in London by the Admiralty authorities there wasn't a drop left. Bone dry. An unpleasant episode, when a man's saved his country, but they gave him St. Paul's as soon as they could. Aye. When you belong to an old shipping family as I do you get to know history from the inside. Things that don't get put in the obituaries or the panegyrics. 'Twould never do to let the newspapers know everything. As George Bussey used to say, the truth is not always ornamental. People'll stand a bit of demimonde or anything else?come to heroes. But a little bit of reality such as what I've just related is best left to oblivion.
"There's a lot of nonsense talked about slavery. Whether it's a degradation or not depends on the master. I never lifted my hand to a native in my life. The boy that needs flogging needs shooting. If I saw a boy was no good I'd send him away within a few days on some pretext. You need an eye, same as you do for old china and so on. George Bussey's house was full of it, but his wife tried to hide it away as much as she could. Crewell-work and so on. Wool work. That's what she had a fancy for. Old Derby was what George liked. And I knew a good slave as well as George knew a bit of Derby.
"'Tis a terrible thing for a lad new from school to see the slaves being examined before sold. Such an indignity as could never be matched in any hospital. The Doctor being a scientific will understand better. There are things I could scarcely mention to a lady. I shall have to mention it to him. [He did so. The things that were in Mr. Horn's mind were the terrible tests for virginity?a virgin being doubly valuable?amongst the girls and young women, which were brutally carried out in front of their forlorn groups of men, who in their turn had to undergo not only indignity but mutilation. As many tribes (among cannibals especially) are not only naturally modest but have strict codes of morality this must have been as bitter a tragedy as it would be to many civilised white people.]
"But that 'lurking devil's' a strange thing. Strictly speaking it's not a disease at all, but a sign of character. I wasn't too good at spotting it myself and I can only picture it to you as a slight cast in one of the eyes. Aye, in a country where magic reigns supreme any little natural defect means a lot. They'd never try to keep families together, those traders. 'Twas a terrible thing to see them being separated. When a savage loses his kin his heart breaks. He's got no newspapers and these so-called cinemas to cheer him up. All he knows of pleasure comes, not from food, but from eating it with his kind. Not from hunting, but from hunting with his tribe. He pines like a dog. The first thing education teaches you is to walk alone. Aye, you can sure stand on your own spear when you've learnt the word goodbye, and say it clear.
"Aye, I must 'a' been the first man to try the river above Samba Falls. Where du Chaillu failed I succeeded.
When you're young and life's a bit of laughable fun, you can get your way easy enough. Too much Latin about du Chaillu. They've never had the knack of youth. As soon as Nature makes 'em into men, they stop laffing. One of the greatest obstacles whether on the Coast or in Lancashire is to stop laughter.
"Kingfishers! Above par on that river. When a lad's eye's been trained to watch for 'em up a little brook in Lancashire, it's the first thing he sees on an African river. Those bonny birds, finer than dream-size. Threading to and fro in front of your canoe like bobbins o' bright silk. And those faraway mountains that seem pure of man . . .
"Aye, if I'd known minerals and their habits as I know them now, I'd never have borne to turn my back on them. Minerals. I was in a place once behind the Cameroons where a piece of the hill had fallen down after a storm and disclosed cinnabar. Quicksilver. The natives paint their faces with it. But copper they smelt out cleverly in their little blast furnaces. Two-handed bellows?piston bellows?same as you find in ancient workings. Same as I found in the copper mine, Tati Concession. They make the bellows of monkey skins. Same old style as you find in Madagascar and Rhodesia."
Chapter 14 - 26 continued in Part II
. WEBJED: BILL HILLMAN .
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