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Title: Witch-Doctors
Author: Beadle, Charles
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              Witch-Doctors

                           _by_ Charles Beadle
                    _Author of “A Whiteman’s Burden”_

Boston and New York
Houghton Mifflin Company
1922



     _Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner, Frome and London_



                                CHARACTERS



  LUCILLE CHARLTRAIN (Mrs. Gerald Birnier)                     A Photograph
  USAKUMA (The Incarnation of the
      Unmentionable One)                                            An Idol
  GERALD BIRNIER                                                A Professor
  ZU PFEIFFER (Hermann von Schnitzler und)                German Kommandant
  ZALU ZAKO (son of Kawa Kendi)                               Heir Apparent
  BAKUMA (daughter of Bakala)                        in love with Zalu Zako
  MYALU (son of MBusa)                          a chief in love with Bakuma
  BAKAHENZIE (son of Maliko)                             Chief Witch-Doctor
  MARUFA (son of MTungo)                               another Witch-Doctor
  KAWA KENDI (son of MFunya MPopo)                   King-God and Rainmaker
  MFUNYA MPOPO (son of MKoffo)                    Predecessor of Kawa Kendi
  KINGATA MATA (son of Kabolo)                   Keeper of the Sacred Fires
  SAKAMATA                                     deposed Witch-Doctor and spy
  YABOLO                                               another Witch-Doctor
  MUNGONGO                                                Birnier’s servant
  SCHULTZ                                                   German sergeant
  LUDWIG                                                    German sergeant
  SCHNEIDER                                                 German sergeant



                                 CONTENTS


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Extra Pages
Errata



                              WITCH-DOCTORS


                                CHAPTER 1


In a bayou in the south-eastern corner of the Victoria Nyanza was the
station of Ingonya, a brown scab on the face of the green earth. The round
mud huts of the askaris were like two columns of khaki troops marching
rigidly on each side of the parade ground. To the north, upon a slight
rise of ground, were the white men’s quarters; the non-commissioned
officers had four bungalows to the south of the orderly room and Court
House; and beyond a green plot flanked by a store house and an ordnance
building, was a bigger bungalow, florid in the amplitude and colour of the
red pillared verandah, the residence of the Kommandant, Herr
Ober-Lieutenant Hermann von Schnitzler und zu Pfeiffer.

On the northern side, overlooking the swamp and the distant lake, was a
flagpole, before which paced an ebon sentry in a uniform of white
knickers, tunic and lancer cap, red faced. The glow of sunrise stained the
green of the moon with crimson. A trumpet blared. From the rear of the
Residence marched with stiff-legged precision a squad of askaris and the
stocky figure of a non-commissioned officer in a white helmet.
Simultaneously appeared on the verandah of the large bungalow the tall
form of a white man in pink silk pyjamas. The sergeant barked. The squad
presented arms. A coloured ball slid up the flagpole. The first rays of
the sun splintered the bloodied waters beyond into silver spikes and
caressed a fluttering black, white and red flag.

Then the squad ported arms, relieved the sentry, and retired, their black
legs gleaming blue points as they rose and fell. The pink figure
disappeared. Sergeant Schultz strutted back to his bungalow, in the
verandah of which squatted a native girl clad in gay trade cloths. He
emerged lighting a cigar, and sjambok in hand, returned to the orderly
room. Another trumpet blared. From beyond the askaris’ camp came a line of
natives, young and old, their scrawny necks linked together by a light
iron chain which clanked musically. Filing on to the parade ground they
were divided into gangs by Sergeant Schneider to labour under guard at the
interminable work of the camp.

The air above the swamp began to sizzle in the heat. The same slender
figure clad in immaculate white reappeared upon the south verandah of the
florid bungalow. Herr Ober-Lieutenant stood staring about the small square
with a peevish glint in the fair eyes. A big negro in spotless white
hurried around the house bearing a brass tray set with a cup, a liqueur
glass and a decanter. Herr Lieutenant sprawled his legs on either arm of a
Bombay chair. As he delicately mixed cognac with his coffee, his jewelled
fingers sparkled in a shaft of sunlight which set afire the sapphires
mounted in an ivory bracelet.

At a yard from the table stood the servant as rigid as the flagpole. With
a lazy insolence which marked his movements, the lieutenant sipped the
café-cognac and smoked a cheroot, as if he were seated on the terrace of
the Café de la Paix. The brutality of the round skull, emphasized by the
cropped blonde hair, seemed at variance with the boyish rotundity of the
face and the small, but dominant, nose. Two separate moustaches bristled
so fiercely that they suggested sentries on guard over the feminine
softness of the lips. When he had finished zu Pfeiffer arose languidly,
lighted a fresh cigar, adjusted his helmet with care, took a gold-mounted
sjambok from his servant, and strode across the square. The lines of his
torso were so perfect that they suggested artificial aid.

The orderly room was square and whitewashed; grass matting was upon the
floor, and high screened doors opened on to the north verandah. Zu
Pfeiffer sprawled in a swing chair before the office desk placed at an
oblique angle to the wall, encumbered with books and papers. After tapping
reflectively on a book cover with a polished nail zu Pfeiffer’s hand
sharply struck the bell. Instantly a corporal appeared at the farther door
and stood as if petrified, black hand to black temple. Zu Pfeiffer snapped
instructions in Kiswahili without removing his cigar. The man grunted,
shot his hand away at right angles with as much energy as if he were
trying to knock down an elephant, and vanished.

“Sergeant!”

“Ja, Excellence.”

At the other door like another Jack-in-the-box appeared Sergeant Schultz
in exactly the same attitude. At a nod the sergeant melted into the
semblance of human movement: he drew aside a chair, selected a certain
document from a pile of them, and handed it to the lieutenant. Zu Pfeiffer
pushed a box of cigars across the table, lolled back with one foot on the
table, and began to peruse lazily. The sergeant retired respectfully with
the cigar to the outer office. A fly buzzed hopefully at the mosquito
wire. The tap of a typewriter sounded like some other insect. On the hot
air came the faint barks of a drill-sergeant on the parade ground. From
behind the building rose fitfully the murmur of voices from a herd of
natives squatted in the sun awaiting the opening of the Court House.
Leaves rustled largely under the Lieutenant’s fingers.…

At length he pitched the report on to the table, carefully placed the butt
of his cigar in an ash-tray, lighted another, and disposed of the match
with equal care.

“Sergeant.”

“Ja, Excellence!”

Zu Pfeiffer indicated a chair by a thrust of the chin. The sergeant sat.
Tapping the report with the highly polished and very long finger-nail of
the left hand, the lieutenant demanded:

“Who is the man who gave you this report?”

“Ali Ben Hassan, an Arab trader, Excellence.”

“Trustworthy?”

“Ja, Excellence. He has done much work for us.”

“Where?”

“On the Tanganika district, sub-division B II, Excellence. He brought
papers of first-class recommendation from the Kommandant.”

“Ben Hassan speaks of one Sakamata, nicht wahr?”

“Ja, Excellence.”

“Of what tribe is he?”

“Wongolo.”

“A witch-doctor?”

“Ja, Excellence.”

“He is here? Let him come in.”

The sergeant rose, saluted and departed. Gutturals sounded lazily. The
sergeant reappeared and behind him shuffled a native. Clad only in a dirty
loin-cloth, his brown skin was wrinkled in scaly folds upon his chest and
belly; his face was like an ancient tortoise; the small lack-lustre eyes
were bloodshot and furtive; the limbs were almost fleshless. He squatted
upon the ground and with lowered lids appeared to be absorbed in the
contemplation of a white man’s table leg. Zu Pfeiffer regarded the man as
one would a stray dog and nodded to the sergeant, who sat down.

“Does he speak Kiswahili?”

“Nein, Excellence. Only his monkey speech.”

“Why do you suppose that he is trustworthy?”

“Because, Excellence, his interests are with ours. There is no
competition. The Schweinhünde Engländer have no interest there—yet. They
are too busy with the Uganda railroad.”

“Ja, ja. Again what is the tribal system there, King-God or——” The
lieutenant permitted a slight smile—“or Dis-established Church?”

“King-God, Excellence,” replied Sergeant Schultz gravely.

“This fellow then is an apostate priest, nicht wahr?”

The sergeant noticed the movement of one of the sentry moustaches. A
twitch of the lips recognized his superior’s pleasantry.

“Ja, Excellence.”

Zu Pfeiffer stuck the cigar into the corner of his mouth and regarded idly
the dumb figure on the floor against the wall.

“We must have the Wongolo country, c’est entendu. Now what’s your opinion
of the method, sergeant?”

“With due deference, Excellence,” responded Sergeant Schultz, “I propose
that we advance and bring them to subjection in the usual manner.”

Zu Pfeiffer fingered a ring and stared out into the yellow glare.

“Nein,” he said at length, meditatively, removed the cigar from his lips
and delicately knocked off the ash. “Circumstances alter cases. That
method is too expensive. Son Altesse cannot afford the blood of the
Fatherland in return for such ignoble carcasses. We—the price paid in the
Herrero campaign was insupportable.”

“Pardon, Excellence, but Treitschke said——”

“I know, sergeant. But Treitschke did not live in Central Africa.”

“True, Excellence.”

“Die Schweinhünde Engländer have had more experience than we have. Even a
fool learns wisdom by experience—sometimes.”

“True, Excellence.”

Again fell a silence save for the buzz of the persistent fly.

“Also psychological research is more valuable than artillery—sometimes—in
spite of Napoleon and Treitschke.” Zu Pfeiffer glanced at the sergeant
who, beneath the mask of his features, appeared shocked. “Blasphemy, nicht
wahr, sergeant?”

“If your Excellence thinks——”

“But remember if Napoleon invented the science of artillery, we invented
psychology.”

“True, Excellence.”

Zu Pfeiffer smiled complacently and stroked his moustaches.

“Now for this animal here. Who and what was he?”

“One of the principal witch-doctors, Excellence, wealthy and powerful. He
attempted to overthrow the Chief Witch-doctor, one Bakahenzie, and was
discredited.”

“How discredited?”

“He attempted some form of magic, Excellence, which failed. Details are
not given.”

“Who gave the dossier?”

“Ali ben Hassan, Excellence.”

“From whom did he get his information?”

“Name given as one Yabolo, another witch-doctor and relative.”

“This Saka—Saka”—zu Pfeiffer glanced at the document—“Sakamata. Is he in
communication with this Yabolo?”

“Ja, Excellence.”

Zu Pfeiffer smoked reflectively.

“When did the last agent come in?”

“But yesterday, Excellence.”

“And no report of any other white men in the country? No British
missionaries or traders?”

“Nein, Excellence.”

“Where is Saunders?”

“On Lake Kivu.”

“No report?”

“Not since the last three months ago, Excellence.”

“Umph!—Now, pay attention.” Schultz leaned forward dutifully. Zu Pfeiffer
unrolled a map on the wall beside him. “Here’s Ingonya. The Wongolo
country is twenty days’ march from here, but across the lake it’s twenty
hours with the launch, and five days from there.” The delicate finger-nail
indicated a spot on the opposite side of the lake. “From here—what’s the
place? Ach—Timballa. To hell with the British boundary! We must not give
them time to get the news. Always rush the seat of government. Surprise
them and they’re done.”

“But, Excellence, Treitschke says regarding retreat——”

“There will be no retreat. At MFunya MPopo’s is the idol, the fetish. We
destroy it and they’re done!” He brought down his fist with a crash on the
table. “Faith unites a people; in unity is strength. Break the faith and
you’ve broken the people.”

“But, Excellence!” exclaimed the Lutheran sergeant, aghast.

Zu Pfeiffer’s blue eyes hardened.

“Understand, you fool, these are savages. _You_ have an abstract
deity—which you cannot break in the concrete—obviously: they have a
concrete god which we can and shall smash.”

“Excellence, you are right,” said the sergeant humbly.

Zu Pfeiffer flicked cigar ash from his sleeve and lolled back.

“Those are your orders. Commandeer the necessary canoes and notify Ludwig
to have the men in readiness for the full moon. Work out the details and
give them to me to-morrow.”

“Ja, Excellence.” Schultz stood to attention. “But, Excellence, this
creature——”

Zu Pfeiffer glanced casually at Sakamata.

“Oh, that? Take it away!”

Schultz saluted smartly and wheeled about.

“Njoo!” he commanded sharply.

Sakamata rose up quietly and disappeared through the door without glancing
to the right or the left.

“The Court awaits your Excellence,” reminded the sergeant.

As zu Pfeiffer nodded languidly, a booted foot clopped on the verandah.

“Wa da?” queried Sergeant Schultz, startled at the intrusion of a
stranger.

“Oh, only I,” responded a soft voice in English.

Through the screen door a tall figure in a Tirai hat was silhouetted in
sepia against the yellow glare. A brown hand pushed open the door.

“Mon nom est Birnier, Gerald Birnier—er—Does any one speak English?”

Zu Pfeiffer, in the act of rising, sank back into the chair, placing his
left leg in a favourite position and selecting a cigar simultaneously.

“Yes,” said he, almost without accent. “What do you want?”

“I wish to see the—the Herr Kommandant.”

Zu Pfeiffer struck a match without looking up.

“I am he.”

One hand upon the open door, Birnier stroked his shaven chin perplexedly
with the other. He glanced from the sergeant, standing rigidly by the
table, to the lieutenant engaged in stoking his cigar to a nicety.

“Well, it’s usual to invite a white man to sit down, isn’t it?” suggested
Birnier, with a note of irritation.

Zu Pfeiffer looked across the table.

“Nein. This is the Orderly Room; not a general office.”

“Oh, I see. I beg your pardon!” There was a note of laughter in the voice.
“Will you kindly instruct me where I am to apply?”

Zu Pfeiffer continued to regard the stranger from head to foot, smoking
slowly.

“Please to come in,” he said at length, gesturing with his cigar, “and sit
down.”

“Thanks so much!”

The trace of irony seemed to escape zu Pfeiffer. He gave a guttural order
to the sergeant, who saluted and disappeared. The stranger placed his
Tirai hat on the table, revealing rumpled brown hair flecked with grey, a
high white forehead, and long features; the slight stoop of the shoulders
and general carriage rather suggested a professional type than a hunter or
trader. He regarded the slim figure staring insolently at him with a
hardening look of disapproval.

“What is it you wish?”

“Well, principally I require an elephant licence and the usual permit to
trade.”

“Where are you going?”

“To the Kivu country.”

Zu Pfeiffer regarded his cigar tip interestedly.

“You are going to the Wongolo country,” he stated.

Birnier’s mouth tightened.

“Quite possibly.”

“You have been to the Wongolo country already?”

“Yes, I have been there, but what has that to do with it?”

“We know all about you,” stated zu Pfeiffer coldly, twiddling his cigar
between slender fingers. He glanced at a gold repeater. “Pardon, but I
must request you to return later. The Court is already awaiting me.”
Birnier frowned slightly. “If you will be so good as to return at, let us
say, five o’clock, I will be pleased to listen to your application.”

Birnier rose, taking his hat.

“Certainly,” he said curtly. “Good morning!”

Zu Pfeiffer watched him depart; then he struck the bell sharply. Sergeant
Schultz appeared, a line of nervous expectancy upon his sallow face.

“Why have you not reported that man’s arrival?” demanded zu Pfeiffer
harshly.

“Excellence,” returned Schultz, saluting, “he has but arrived within the
hour in a launch, loaned to him by the Engländer.”

“Ach! An English spy!”

“I do not know, Excellence.”

“We ought to know. Why have you not a report of the man’s movements? He
admits that he has been in the Wongolo country.”

“Excellence, it is already done.” Schultz hurriedly searched a card index
cabinet and handed a document to the lieutenant. “There is Saunders’
report, Excellence; more than six months old.”

Zu Pfeiffer glanced at the page indicated and began to read while the
sergeant stood stiffly at attention.

“You may go, sergeant,” announced zu Pfeiffer without looking up. Schultz
saluted and departed. Zu Pfeiffer finished the report leisurely, put down
the paper, and stared meditatively.

No, he decided, as he rose, all the English are spies.



                                CHAPTER 2


Like a topaz set in a jade ring was the city of the Snake, the place of
Kings, a village of some eight hundred huts huddled upon a slight rise
above a sea of banana fronds, some two hundred miles to the west of
Ingonya.

On the summit was a large conical hut like an enormous candle snuffer, the
dwelling place of Usakuma, the spirit of the Snake, whose name was
forbidden to all save the Priest-God and Rain Maker, King MFunya MPopo,
who was so holy that after succeeding to the sacred office he was doomed
to live within the compound, even as were the Kings of Eutopia, Sheba and
China, a celibate for the remainder of his life: for, as the incarnation
of the Idol, Usakuma, and therefore the controller of the Heavens and the
Earth, his body must be kept from all danger of witchcraft lest the rains
cease and the blue skies fall.

From the compound, looking towards the north-west where the snow-capped
Gamballagalla rose violet against the horizon, another brown cone peeped
above the green fronds, the late residence, and now the tomb of King
MKoffo, predecessor of MFunya MPopo. For where a King-God dies there is he
buried, he and his wives after him; the site becomes holy ground, a place
of pilgrimage and sanctuary.

In each of the small huts to the rear of the temple of MFunya MPopo, but
outside the sacred enclosure, lived his wives who, although forbidden to
their husband, were permitted a royal promiscuity. Just within the
precincts was a small replica of the temple where dwelt a young chief,
also bound to celibacy, whose duties were to keep the royal fire burning
as long as the king should reign. No one was allowed to converse with the
king, save on matters of state, except this man; through him was spoken
the royal will—what there was left of it—to the council which sat in a
long rectangular building opposite to the temple entrance and open to the
village, a body of witch-doctors and chiefs.

Solely the kingly office existed as a beneficent agent, a matter of
self-preservation on the part of the tribe. The King-God’s functions were
divine; to make magic for the victory of his warriors and principally to
make rain, on which, of course, the alimentary needs of his subjects
depended—an incarnation of a god who was in reality the scapegoat of the
god’s omissions.

The office was hereditary. Perhaps no one else would willingly accept such
an onerous post. The making of magic was performed before the god with the
assistance of the chief witch-doctor, an exceedingly lucrative post won
upon merit, occupied by one Bakahenzie, a tall muscular man in the prime
of life, whose bearing was that of the native autocrat, fierce and
remorseless. The King’s personal wishes could be safely granted as long as
he did not endanger the existence of the people by a desire to break any
of the meshes of the tabus designed to ensure the safety of his sacred
body, and therefore that of the tribe, on the assumption that if the
incarnation were injured the god would be injured, and so would his
creations be affected: any infringement of these laws entailed the penalty
of death, a code which revealed the native logic in the confusion of cause
and effect, the concrete and the abstract.

In the door of a hut on the outskirts of the village squatted a wizened
man with a tuft of grey beard upon his chin. He was clad in a loin-cloth
fairly clean, and about his neck was suspended by a twisted fibre an
amulet wrapped in banana leaves containing the gall and toenail of an
enemy slain by a virgin warrior, a specific against black magic whose
powerful properties were proven by the undisputed influence and wealth of
the owner.

A tall lithe savage, bearing upon his arms and ankles the ivory bracelets
of the royal house and the elephant hair chaplet of the warrior, advanced
leisurely towards him from the banana plantation. Marufa continued to gaze
in rumination at the opposite hut. But as they had not met since the
rising of the sun, he did not fail to make the orthodox greeting at the
exact moment that the chief’s shadow passed in front of him, which Zalu
Zako returned punctiliously, thereby averting an evil omen. As soon as the
young man had passed beyond the next hut appeared in the grove a girl,
modelled like a bronze wood nymph. She wore the tiny girdle of the
unmarried and walked furtively, carrying in her hand a parcel wrapped in
banana leaves. In the shadow of a compound fence she halted, one slender
brown arm set back in apprehension as her eyes followed the lithe figure
of Zalu Zako.

Motionless sat Marufa staring in mystic contemplation. Bakuma glanced
swiftly about her. Apparently satisfied that no one was observing her save
a lean dog and two gollywog children, she continued on as if to pass the
old man, her eyes still ranging like a fawn’s. But when she was beside
Marufa she subsided on her haunches beside him, clutching the bundle as
she whispered:

“Greetings, O wise one!”

“Greeting, daughter,” returned Marufa without lessening the fixity of his
gaze.

“I would talk with thee.”

“Aye.”

Again she glanced around furtively.

“I would talk in thine ear, O my father.”

“The knots of my hair are tied.”

“I thank thee. There’s a fluttering bird in my breast.”

“And a snake around thy heart, O my daughter.”

“Aie-e!”

“The grandson of the snake hath tied thy girdle.”

“Ehh!”

The girl clasped her breast in surprised terror.

“How dost thou know?”

“All things are known to the son of MTungo,” declared Marufa solemnly,
still regarding the opposite wall. “Thou desirest a love charm.… What hast
thou?”

Tremulously Bakuma put down the green package on the ground, darting
terrified glances to right and left. Slowly the skinny hand of the wizard
gently tore open the leaves; very impressively the eyes slanted down to
appraise the stock of blue and white beads.

“The spirit of Tarum hath a big belly,” he announced tonelessly.

“O wise one, intercede for me,” pleaded Bakuma, “for more have I none, I,
Bakuma, daughter of Bakala, a girl of the hut thatch.”

“The true love charm, infallible and powerful, is difficult to obtain, O
Bakuma. The young huntress aims at big game.”

“Ehh! But I have no more, great one!”

“The hair of a rutting leopardess, the liver of a forest rat, the tongue
of a Baroto bird—these must I have to mix with thy blood to be drunk by
thy man when the moon is full.”

“Ehh! Ehh!”

“Such is the magic that no young man can resist.”

“Ehh-h!”

“But these things are difficult to obtain.”

“Aie! Aie!” wailed Bakuma, clasping her hands in despair.

“Difficult to obtain.”

“Aie-e!”

“On the night of the half-moon will I take upon me the leopard form.”

“Ehh!”

“I will talk with the spirits.”

“Ehh! Ehh!”

“But they must be propitiated with the blood of a fat goat.”

“Aie! Aie! But I have no fat goat.”

“If there be no fat goat then will the spirits be wroth with me.”

“Aie-e-e!”

Bakuma sat staring in dismal perplexity.

“No fat goat have I, a girl of the hut thatch! Aie! Aie!”

Marufa fumbled within the loin-cloth and thrust a tiny package along the
ground.

“See and know the power of my magic.” Bakuma greedily snatched up the
amulet. “Begone!” he whispered, jerking the parcel of beads behind him.
“MYalu approaches.”

“Ehh!”

Bakuma rose and fled with the grace of a startled antelope as appeared a
tall, strongly built man, having a low-browed face, across which was a
deep scar. Behind MYalu came two young slaves bearing a small elephant
tusk. Opposite to Marufa the slaves stopped. Their master, careful that
his shadow fell well away from the figure of the magician—for the shadow
is one of the souls, so woe unto him who shall leave his soul in the hands
of an enemy!—squatted gravely.

“Greeting, son of MTungo!”

“Greeting, son of MBusa!” returned Marufa.

Gravely they spat into each other’s palm, the sign of amity as they who
exchange bonds of good behaviour inasmuch, as is well known, magic can be
worked upon that which has been a part of the body as upon the body
itself. Then solemnly they rubbed the spittle upon their respective
chests.

“The spirit of the snake nourisheth not the life of the banana.”

“Nay, for nigh unto two moons hath there been no blood of the snake,”
returned the old man perfunctorily, as he lifted his eyes from a swift
appraisement of the tusk to his favourite mud wall.

“Nay, the crops sprout not. Maybe the Dweller in the Place of the Snake
hath been visited by one from the forest.”

“Aye, but old blood runs not as swiftly as young blood.”

“Nay,” replied MYalu, in answer to the reference to himself, “but the
girdle is not yet tied by another.”

“When the first twig of the nest is laid,” remarked Marufa, indolently
eyeing the tusk, “it is difficult to entice the hen to another tree.”

“Here is a goodly twig with which to tempt spirits of the forest,” and
significantly, “Maybe there are others.”

“A mighty potion shall be prepared for thee, O son of MBusa,” declared
Marufa, moving slightly to conceal the package of beads. “A mighty potion,
infallible; made from the hair of a rutting leopardess, the liver of the
forest rat and the tongue of the Baroto bird; these must she take that she
shall speak thee softly, together with a portion of that which remains
from the ceremony of the lobolo. Infallible is it; never known to fail.”

“Ehh!”

Marufa stared interestedly at a wandering hen. MYalu watched him covertly.
Like bronzes sat the two young slaves. From the distance came a faint
chanting and the beat of a drum.…

“The tusk is here, Marufa,” remarked MYalu casually.

“My eyes see it,” observed Marufa, without altering his observation of the
hen.

“Where then is the potion?”

Marufa glanced at the tusk, appraised it again, and fumbling within his
loin-cloth, thrust another tiny package along the ground. MYalu greedily
picked up the amulet and stared in awe, turning it over and about.

“The tusk,” murmured Marufa.

MYalu gestured to his slaves. They rose and placed the tusk beside the old
man, shuffled backwards and squatted again. After lifting one end to test
the weight, Marufa examined the grain. Then sliding it behind him as if he
wished to sit upon it, remarked:

“The potion must be eaten at the full moon.”

“Ehh!”

MYalu glanced up from an absorbed examination of the amulet.

“And within the quarter shall the fruit be ripe for the plucking.” The
whites of MYalu’s eyes gleamed. “Unless,” continued the old man
uninterestedly, “there be stronger magic made against thee.”

“Ehh!”

The two hands holding the amulet came down.

“If,” explained Marufa, “another hath tied the grasses of her father’s
roof, will there be required a stronger spirit to overcome such magic.”

“But thou hast told me,” expostulated MYalu, regarding the tusk
regretfully, “that this is a mighty magic, powerful and infallible, never
known to fail.”

“Thus is it,” asserted the old man imperturbably, “for all save a stronger
magic.”

MYalu’s eyes wandered from the tusk to Marufa and back. He scowled.

“Why didst thou not tell me?” he demanded sourly, dropping the amulet on
the ground.

“It is for thee to tell the wizard all that thou knowest. How else may he
reckon with thine enemies?”

“Enemy!” exclaimed MYalu. He stared questioningly at Marufa. “Enemy! Dost
thou know whom I seek?”

“Do not all the hens remark the strutting of the cock?” inquired Marufa
unconcernedly, tapping his snuff box.

“Ehh!”

MYalu observed the taking of snuff as if he had never seen the operation
before.

“Ehh!” he remarked again succinctly.

Marufa replaced the cork of twisted leaves, let fall the snuff box made of
rhinoceros horn suspended from his neck by a copper wire, and contemplated
a skinny goat scratching itself violently. MYalu stirred as if to rise,
but subsided, cogitated and said slowly:

“In the house of MYalu are four more tusks.”

“Four more tusks,” repeated Marufa dreamily.

“Bigger than this one,” said MYalu suggestively.

“Bigger than this one.”

“Knowest thou by whom the girdle is tied?”

“By the grandson of the Snake.”

“Ehh!”

MYalu squatted motionless. The old man appeared to doze. Women bearing
gourds of water upon their heads passed in single file, their loins
swaying rhythmically. The shadows dwindled. From close at hand began the
rapid beat of a drum. A stir began through the village as each man herded
his women and slaves to his own hut.

“O Marufa,” said MYalu, speaking with a slight snarl, “hast thou such a
powerful medicine that can surely trap the soul of Zalu Zako when
perchance it wanders (in sleep)?”

“All things are possible to the son of MTungo,” mumbled the old man.

Two chiefs appeared walking through the grove at a middle distance. MYalu
glanced round apprehensively.

“Two tusks will I give thee,” he whispered, “if thou wilt do this thing.”

“Three tusks. No less, for the matter is dangerous.”

“Two, two.”

“Nay.”

The old man stirred to rise.

“Three be it,” gasped MYalu. “But I must see the magic done.”

They rose together.

“Bring me of his toe-nails one paring, of his hair one, and his spittle
and a footprint. Then shalt thou come with me to the sacred grove where
the magic shall be done.”

“Ehh!”

“But the three tusks must be given to Yanoka, my first wife.”

MYalu hesitated.

“Aye, thus shall it be done,” he assented reluctantly.

“It is agreed?” inquired Marufa.

“May my cord be lost!” swore MYalu, and gesturing to the slaves, hurried
away.

A slight grin flecked the old man’s eyes as he turned into the hut.

“Already hath he drunken of her blood,” he mumbled. “Ya, Inkombana! take
the tusk!”

When Marufa emerged, a head-dress of the tail feathers of the green
parrot, professional uniform and potent specific against evil spirits,
fluffed gently as he slowly stalked towards the council house. From the
other side of a hut walked MYalu as if he had come from a different
direction. In the open gate of the royal enclosure sat a muscular young
man upon his haunches, tending the royal fire, which fed hungrily upon
small faggots. Beyond him across the yellow glare upon the cleared ground
beneath a thatched awning, stood an idol of wood, whose lopsided mouth
snarled beneath a bridgeless nose; narrow slits for eyes squinted; baby
arms stuck down beside triangular breasts above a melon belly having a
protuberant navel like a small cucumber—the incarnation of the Snake-god,
Usakuma.

Without the palisade of the sacred ground was a taller one, barring the
doings of the council of witch-doctors and chiefs from the lay public, who
were confined to their own huts under the penalty of a hideous death, or
an enormous fine, as the witch-doctors should decide.

To the rear of the idol, cross-legged against the wall of the entrance to
the conical hut, were the musicians beating a monotonous rhythm upon big
and small drums and twanging a primitive lyre of five strings. Just as
Marufa and MYalu took their respective places without among the wizards
and the chiefs, a young goat skipped into the open and stared
inquisitively at the Keeper of the Fires. As the man waved the animal back
from the sacred ground, the goat lowered its head and threatened to
charge, suddenly recollected its mate lying in the shade a few feet away,
and began to bleat absent-mindedly.

Gravely and silently sat the assembly: continuously throbbed the drums.
The sun beat diagonally. As a lizard darted like a flash of a prism from
the grass palisade, the band ceased. A man emerged from behind the idol.
Although the grey woolly tufts upon his chin, the sacred snake skin around
his waist above the cat skin loin-cloth, the jingle of the ivory bangles
on arms and ankles, and his stature, imparted an air of barbaric royalty,
King MFunya MPopo advanced with the manner of a pariah dog ordered to his
master’s side.

As the King approached, the Keeper of the Fires hastily threw on a handful
of faggots and bowed his head. In the centre of the opening of the
enclosure the King squatted down with his back to the fire which streamed
blue smoke. Not a limb or a muscle moved among the group of wizards and
chiefs in the council house. Attracted by the movement, the goat stopped
bleating and stared at the King; then, putting down its head, charged him.

With a horrified click, the Keeper of the Fires sprang. But he was not
swift enough to prevent the impact of the animal’s horns with the royal
arm thrust out in self-defence. Three young chiefs came running; one
caught up the goat and carried it away bleating bellicosely; the others
knelt, and while one carefully collected a gout of blood upon the King’s
forearm in a piece of banana leaf, his companion wiped the wound. When
they were satisfied that the bleeding had ceased, the pieces were
meticulously wrapped in another leaf and borne away by the Keeper of the
Fires to be deposited in the temple: for as every man knows, the royal
blood must not be spilt upon the ground lest the site be accursed for ever
and like the tooth of the dragon of Colchis, arise from the spot ghostly
warriors to annihilate the tribe.

Neither upon the face of any of the elders nor upon the features of MFunya
MPopo, the King, had a muscle moved. Yet the incident was regarded as an
evil omen.… Then suddenly did Bakahenzie, the chief witch-doctor, plumed
with a tall scarlet feather in addition to the green ones and a necklace
of finger bones upon his bronze chest, who sat in the centre with Kawa
Kendi, the King’s son upon his right, and Zalu Zako, the grandson, upon
his left, begin to chant in a high wailing voice to the rapid rhythm of
the drums:

  “Is there not a shadow come over the land?
  The frown of the One-not-to-be-mentioned?
  I, Bakahenzie, have seen it! have seen it!”

And from the group within the council house, immobile, came the bass
chorus of assent:

                 “Ough! Ough!”

  “Is there not a dry curse come over the land?
  Is it not the hot breath of the soul of the Snake?
  I, Bakahenzie, have seen it! have seen it!”
                 “Ough! Ough!”

  “Where is the false spirit that hath sinned in the act?
  He that hath sinned in the shade of the name?
  I, Bakahenzie, have seen him! have seen him!”
                 “Ough! Ough!”

  “Does not the keen sting of him scorch up the land?
  Hath not the young bread of our bellies been slain?
  I, Bakahenzie, have seen it! have seen it!”
                 “Ough! Ough!”

The throb of the drums grew faster. Bakahenzie leaped from the crowd.
Immediately in front of the King he began to dance and to scream:

  “Is the Burden too great for the Guard of the Name?
                 Aie! Aie!
  Hath the Bearer, too, fumbled the weight of the World?
                 Aie! Aie!
  Is His spirit bewitched by the soul of a girl?
                 Aie! Aie!
  Hath His magical power been slain by the sin?
                 Aie! Aie!
  Hath a prophet made words in the act of a goat?
                 Aie! Aie!
  Does a saviour in hairs thirst the blood of a King?
                 Aie! Aie!
  Shall we hearken, O Chiefs, to the wish of the One?
                 Aie! Aie!
  Or be shrivelled and die in the drought of His wrath?
                 Aie! Aie!”

Kawa Kendi, a man in early middle age, powerful and lithe-limbed, sat as
motionless as the King, his father, staring, as did all, with the fixed
stare of the anagogic.

Abruptly the drums ceased. Again came a hot silence as Bakahenzie paused
in front of MFunya MPopo. Then with a piercing yell, the witch-doctor spun
on his toes. The drums broke into an hysterical rhythm. Bakahenzie leaped
high in the air; whirled around and around screaming hoarsely; leaped and
spun continually.

The chiefs and doctors began to grunt; continued in crescendo until the
whole body throbbed and grunted to the rhythm of the drums. Yet immobile
sat MFunya MPopo.

Suddenly Bakahenzie changed the erratic course of his wild dance. He
whirled and screamed in front of the King and fell headlong, as if in a
fit, with eyes injected and foam upon the black tufts of beard. Bakahenzie
clutched his belly and began to howl like a hyena at the moon. The drums
stopped. Howl and writhe did Bakahenzie as if a thousand fiends were
tearing out his entrails.

He lay rigid. The air seemed to quiver. The lines of every man’s limbs,
except the King’s, were drawn in tension. Then from the prostrate body of
the witch-doctor, whose legs and arms were twisted as in agony, whose
dribbling mouth was closed like a vise, came a ventriloquous falsetto:

  “Aie-e! Aie-e! I am the spirit of Kintu!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! I am he who first was!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! I am the banana from whom I was made!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! The Keeper of the Name hath betrayed me!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! The Bride of me is defiled!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! Let him arise who is pure!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! Let him arise who is bidden!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! Let the fires be put out!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! Let a new fire arise from the ashes!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! I have spoken, I, the Father of men!
  Aie-e! Aie-e! I, Tarum, the soul of your ancestors!”

From the assembly came the belly grunt of acceptance. In silence rose Kawa
Kendi, the heir-apparent. His face was as expressionless as his father’s.
He stepped around the body of Bakahenzie and across the open space
followed by a young man, Kingata Mata. Ten feet away from the enclosure,
Kingata Mata sank upon his haunches. Before MFunya MPopo squatted his son.
They spat each in the other’s hand and swallowed the spittle. Then the
head of Kawa Kendi bent to the lips of MFunya MPopo to receive the sacred
Name.

In unison with Kawa Kendi rose Kingata Mata, who to him handed a cord of
twisted bark. Bending behind the King, who remained motionless with the
closed eyes of one already dead, Kingata Mata swiftly adjusted the cord
and handed it back to the son, Kawa Kendi.…

When the muscular young Keeper of the Fires had poured solemnly a gourd of
water upon the royal fire of MFunya MPopo, he knelt submissively and was
strangled beside his master.…

From the assembly went up a great shout:

“The fire is put out!”

And from the village, listening in awe to the mighty doings, came like an
echo:

“The fire is put out! Aie! Aie-e!”

Then shouted the elders and wizards:

“Let there be a new fire!”

Again came the wailing repetition from the village:

“Let there be a new fire!”

As in the Place of Fires was kindled a new fire by Kingata Mata with two
sacred sticks, one of which is male and the other female, the assembled
chiefs and magicians groaned in allegiance to the new King-God of the
unmentionable spirit of the Snake, Usakuma, the Idol.



                                CHAPTER 3


At five-thirty zu Pfeiffer was stretched in the long Bombay chair in the
coolest portion of the screened verandah. On the table beside him was a
tall glass, a decanter of cognac and a box of cigars; and suspended from
the roof swung a canvas bag of water with a syphon attachment. A gape fly,
which somehow had gotten through the screen, hit the lieutenant’s
forehead, fell on to the book and whirred up against the wire.

“Ach, Gott verdammt!” exclaimed zu Pfeiffer irritably and shouted: “Ho,
Bakunja—la.” Instantly appeared the tall negro in white. “You son of a
god! Look at that!”

Bakunjala looked, leaped, and caught the fly in his hand.

“Ow!” he exclaimed as the hornet stung him.

“Ach, you woman of shame, catch it instantly!”

Without hesitation Bakunjala made another grab, and clutching the fly
tightly, made to open the screen door.

“Halt!” commanded the lieutenant.

Bakunjala obeyed.

Zu Pfeiffer regarded the man standing with the wasp sting buried in his
palm with a slight smile of amusement.

“It hurts?” he inquired amiably.

“Indio, Bwana!” asserted Bakunjala.

“Good! Now stop there.”

Motionless remained the negro. Zu Pfeiffer leisurely selected a fresh
cigar, lighted it, stoked it, and inhaling smoke stroked his left
moustache.

“It still hurts?”

“Indio, Bwana!” said Bakunjala with a high note in his voice.

“Splendid!” assured the lieutenant: and after a full minute added: “Now
you may go. And remember if you are frightened of a fly’s pain again I
will give you twenty lashes.”

“Indio, Bwana,” answered Bakunjala humbly and departed swiftly with the
hornet in his clenched fist. Zu Pfeiffer smiled, again stared reflectively
at the violet shadows creeping lazily across the square, sipped some
brandy and picking up his book, began to read.…

“Excellence!”

Zu Pfeiffer frowned and looked round. Outside the screen stood Sergeant
Schultz at the salute. Zu Pfeiffer nodded.

“Well?”

“Excellence,” said the sergeant at attention, “the Englishman is here.”

“Ach, tell him to go——” The lieutenant drew out his gold chronometer. “It
is my bath time. I cannot see him.”

“Ja, Excellence.”

“Wait.” Zu Pfeiffer withdrew his legs and rose. “Ach, tell the fool to
come over here and wait till I have had my bath.”

“Excellence!” agreed the sergeant and saluting, marched away. Zu Pfeiffer
entered the bungalow. Across the square came Birnier with the sergeant who
ushered him into the screened portion of the verandah.

“His Excellence gom bresently,” said the sergeant and left him.

Birnier put his Tirai hat on the table, and seeing no other, sat in the
Bombay chair; looked about him; idly examined the brand on the box of
cigars and smiled. “Makes himself mighty comfortable,” he remarked to
himself. “Pity he appears such a boor.” He glanced at the book on the
armchair. _Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie_ von Prof. Dr. Paul
Deussen. “And a philosopher, eh!” Having little German he turned away and
lighted his pipe. After a while he began to fidget, wondering how long he
was to be kept waiting. “Damn the fellow!” he muttered and picked up one
of the books on the table, _Les Ba-Rongas_, par A. Junod, opened it at
random and began to read.

The shadows of one bungalow reached the verandah on the opposite side of
the square. And still he read on, the dead pipe in his hand. Just as the
twilight was snuffed out like a candle, a sharp step heralded the arrival
of the lieutenant. Birnier rose, the book in his hand.

“Good evening, sir!”

“Good evening,” responded zu Pfeiffer, who was in an undress uniform of
white. “What is it that you require?”

“Well,” said Birnier, “first of all I must apologise for using your chair
and reading your book. Most interesting, by the way.”

“That is nothing,” said zu Pfeiffer as Bakunjala came in with a lamp and a
chair. “Please to be seated.”

“Thank you.”

Birnier took the small chair and the lieutenant the Bombay.

“I—er I—am sorry that I disturbed you this morning,” began Birnier
diffidently. “But I did not know——”

“That is nothing. It was the fault of the sentry. He should not have
allowed you to pass.”

“Regarding my application for the licence, Herr Lieutenant?”

“I regret,” said zu Pfeiffer coldly, using a cigar cutter, “that I am
unable to grant you the licence you ask.”

“You cannot grant me a trading or shooting licence?”

“I regret, no.”

Birnier stared.

“May I inquire why I am refused?”

“You may. We do not wish undesirables in the country.”

“Undesirables!” Birnier’s lips tightened. “I am afraid that I do not
understand you.” The lieutenant was engaged in carefully stoking his
cigar. “Will you kindly afford me a reason for—for such an insulting
remark?”

Zu Pfeiffer blew smoke luxuriously. Birnier stared for a moment, stuck his
pipe in his mouth and bit the stem; removed it and snapped:

“You can have no adequate reason for such action.… If you intend to
continue this ridiculous farce I shall be compelled to make a complaint
through Washington.”

“Washington?” Zu Pfeiffer removed one leg from the chair-rest and the
cigar from his mouth. “You are an American?”

“I am.”

“So? We understood that you were an English agent. You have papers?”

“Certainly. If you wish——”

“We do not demand. No. My agent was wrong. He shall be punished.” Then in
an amiable voice: “I, too, have been a long time in America. Please to
have a cigar, Mr. Birnier.”

Birnier hesitated, puzzled.

“Thank you,” he said diffidently, selected one, bit off the end and spat
it into the corner. Zu Pfeiffer shuddered delicately; but as Birnier
lighted his cigar he studied his face in the glow of the match; noted the
breadth of the jaw, the width between the eyes and the slightly hard line
at the corner of the mouth.

“And forgive me!” Zu Pfeiffer shouted to Bakunjala. “I presume that you
have been in Africa a long time,” he continued.

“Some ten years.”

“You do find the Wongolo country interesting?”

“Oh, yes.”

“You were there long?”

“No, I had been two years in the Congo and passed through on my way to
Uganda to refit.”

“Ach. You permit me? You are mining?”

“No.” Birnier smiled thinly. “I have a professorial job in the American
Museum of Natural History, Anthropological department.”

“Professor! Ach!” Zu Pfeiffer looked at him interestedly.

“Yes. That is why I was so absorbed in _Les Ba-Rongas_ which I found here.
You are interested in anthropology?”

“Ach, yes, I love to study the animals. I have a library—a small one,
here. You must see it.”

“Thank you.”

“You were studying the animals’ ways and how d’you call it?—das
Volkskündliches—in Wongolo?”

“Yes. I do nothing else.”

“So?” Bakunjala arrived with fresh glasses and vermouth. “Which do you
prefer, French or Italian, Herr Professor?”

“French, please.”

“You will dine with me, please?”

“That is very kind of you, Lieutenant.” Birnier gazed quizzically, rather
amused at the complete change of manner. Quite charming when he likes, he
reflected.

“From what part do you come, Herr Professor?” inquired zu Pfeiffer as he
set down his glass.

“Oh, I’m a Southerner. Louisiana. My name is French, you know.”

“Ach so? Che les aimes, les Français. Les femmes sont adorables!”

“Oui, je les trouve comme ça!” agreed Birnier, smiling. “Ma femme est
française.”

“So? … I, too, Professor, I am in love with a Française. She is wonderful!
superbe! Ach, ent zückend!” The lieutenant gazed into the warm darkness.
“Always I see her—in the darkness, the—chaleur—parmis les animaux.” In the
glow of the lamp, the blue eyes were soft, the feminine lips curved in a
tender smile as he murmured:

     “Die Jahre kommen und gehen,
     Geschlechter steigen ins Grab,
     Doch nimmer vergeht die Liebe,
     Die ich im Herzen hab!
     Nur einmal noch möcht ich dich sehen,
     Und sinken vor dir aufs Knie
     Und sterbend zu dir sprechen:
     ‘Madam, ich liebe Sie!’ ”

“Thank you,” said Birnier quietly. “I, too, would say that.”

“Ach, sprechen Sie Deutsch?” demanded zu Pfeiffer quickly.

“No, unfortunately I don’t speak it, but I understand a little; and
particularly Heine.”

“Ach, Gott!”

The note was of satisfaction. A gong sounded. Zu Pfeiffer turned sharply:
“Come, Herr Professor, let us go to dinner. You would wish to wash?”

The bungalow, unusually lofty, was divided into three compartments. The
ceiling, made of stout white calico, to shelter from snakes and the
continual dust from the wood borers, was suspended from the rafters like
the roof of a marquee tent. The centre room was furnished with cane lounge
chairs like a smoking-room and decorated with skins, native musical
instruments, spears and shields; drums served as small tables with
elephant’s toe-nails for ash trays.

In the bedroom was a brass bedstead and mosquito net. Behind was a
bathroom having a corrugated cistern upon the cross beams which gave force
for a shower. The towels and appointments were specklessly clean. When
Birnier appeared he found zu Pfeiffer sprawled in the lounge. On a red
lacquer tray upon a great war drum, covered with the striped skin of a
zebra, was a crystal liqueur set and a large silver box of Egyptian
cigarettes.

“Ach, Professor,” said he, “it is good to speak to a white man again” (by
which he meant an equal). “Please be seated, I beg you. A little liqueur
is good for the aperitif and a cigarette; for there is no time for another
cigar.”

As Birnier sat he remarked the blonde head of the lieutenant in his
meticulous uniform touched with gold and caught a glimpse of the jewelled
bracelet of ivory and the Chinese finger-nail.

Another summons of the gong brought zu Pfeiffer to his feet. As he led his
guest out through the side verandah along a screened porch to the mess
room, built away from the main building to keep away the plague of flies,
a native girl whose close-wrapped white robes revealed a lithe figure,
flitted through a doorway. The table was set in immaculate linen, aglitter
with glass and decorated with a profusion of wild orchids. Behind the
chairs stood two negroes in spotless white, immobile. On each plate were
hors d’œuvres of anchovy and cheese upon a patterned piece of toast.
Salted almonds, sweets, and olives were in green china; wine glasses of
three kinds. Broiled fish followed the soup.

“So, Professor,” remarked the lieutenant, “you will go back some day to
Wongolo?”

“Yes, I—unless I discover some tribe who have a more interesting system
of—er—theology.”

“They are a powerful tribe, nicht wahr?”

“Oh yes, very. Their system ensures unity which provides for concerted
action. Here I believe it is different.”

“Yes, yes; they are poor here. Each village was at war with the
other—before we came. Their superstitions are not—how would you say it?”

“Systematised?”

“Yes. They have neither any supreme chief nor god. There you see,” he
added, smiling, “that autocracy is the only form of government.
Democracy—pah! … I apologise, Professor!”

“Please don’t,” replied Birnier, “although of course I cannot agree with
you.”

“But the Wongolo, they have a god and king?”

“Yes, the King-Priest system. One of the most interesting I have ever
encountered or read of.”

“You did see the King-God, MFunya MPopo?”

“Oh no. He is forbidden to be seen by a foreigner—a similar law to that of
the Medes; only by the witch-doctors—and by the people once a year at a
harvest festival. That is why I intend to go back. It is impossible to
procure reliable statistics of their customs, practices and real beliefs
without—without winning their confidence. That is my mission.”

“I do not longer wonder, Herr Professor, that you were most justly
annoyed. Ach, yes. But please do not worry about your ridiculous licence.
It is not necessary in my jurisdiction, I assure you. You may come and go
as you please, shoot what you wish. I will always be so glad to help so
distinguished a professor.”

“I thank you very much.”

“It is nothing. And perhaps when you are there, you will be so kind as to
write to me? To tell me things that are not known—so that I may, too,
continue to study the animals—again what is it? das Volkskündliches?”

“Folk-lore, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Please to have some more wine, Herr Professor. Please, I insist. It
is the real Mumm. That is a promise? I thank you. And if—— Were there any
others—whites—when you were there?”

“Only one.”

“Where was he, I wonder?”

“On the southern boundary.”

“Near lake Kivu?”

“Yes.”

“Saunders,” muttered zu Pfeiffer.

“I beg your pardon?”

“It was nothing, but I do not like to have—aliens in my province. They
are—missionaries and traders—spies.”

“Indeed.”

“Yes, it is always so. Herr Professor, I ask you a favour. Will you be so
kind as to write to me if some other white comes into the Wongolo
country?”

“I shall be delighted,” said Birnier.… “Do you intend to come there some
day, Herr Lieutenant?”

“Ach, no, it is not—not our territory; although I should very much like to
see it and to shoot. There is much elephant there?”

“Oh yes, quantities.”

“Please to try some of this curried egg, Herr Professor. It is excellent,
I assure you. I thank you.… And rubber, is there much rubber there?”

“Yes, I believe so.”

“Now I wonder if you noticed whether it was tree or vine?”

“I really couldn’t say.” Birnier smiled thinly. “I am not interested in
such things.”

Zu Pfeiffer glanced at him keenly and changed the subject. When they had
finished the best boned chicken that Birnier had ever tasted in Africa, zu
Pfeiffer rose.

“Let us go to my study, Herr Professor, if you so permit, for some coffee
and a little good port—and I will have the pleasure to show you my little
library.”

“I should be delighted,” assented Birnier willingly.

Around the white walls of the cool room which was zu Pfeiffer’s study, ran
low bookshelves made of native wood, containing some hundreds of volumes
which had been carried five hundred miles on the heads of porters. Grass
mats and leopard skins were upon the floor. In the centre, upon a heavy
table, was a green shaded lamp set in a silver-mounted elephant’s foot.
Upon the bookcases were various odd curios, and a coffee service in
copper; and from opposite sides, marbles of Bismarck and Voltaire stared
into each other’s eyes. On the south wall was a large oil of Kaiser
Wilhelm II; and in the centre of the other wall a photograph of a woman
set in an ivory frame made from a section of a tusk.

Zu Pfeiffer strove to be more agreeable than ever. They talked mythology
and folklore. With the port, zu Pfeiffer rose, an erect martial figure
above the glow of the lamp.

“Herr Professor!” he remarked. “I beg you.”

Slightly bewildered, Birnier rose, too, glass in hand. Wheeling with
military precision zu Pfeiffer raised his glass to the great portrait on
the wall.

“Ihre Hochheit!”

Politely Birnier followed suit, his democratic ideas slightly astonished
at the veneration of the kingly office; almost, he reflected, as curious
as the native superstition of the King-God. Then zu Pfeiffer turned to the
left and lifting his glass to the portrait in the ivory frame, drank
silently.

“I was wondering, Professor,” remarked he, as he resumed his seat without
explanation, “from what college—you call it?—you come?”

“Harvard,” said Birnier, rather amused and noticing that as a true
connoisseur, zu Pfeiffer refrained from smoking while drinking his port.

“I have met many of the Harvard men—at Washington.”

“Ah, you know Washington?”

“Yes, I was there nearly two years.”

Zu Pfeiffer drained his port, selected a cigar, lighted it and gazed
abstractedly towards the ivory frame. The lips softened and he smiled
gently.

“Do you know many people there?”

“Oh, a few.”

“Ach … I wonder.… You must know that I met her there, my divine Lucille!”

“Lucille! How strange! That is my wife’s name too.”

“Really?” Zu Pfeiffer still peered dreamily at the corner. He gathered up
his legs and rose like an eager boy. “Permit me, Herr Professor, she is
so—so——” He bent over the portrait and struck a match. Politely Birnier
stooped to look. He saw a portrait of a French woman in an evening gown, a
woman of charm with the vivacious eyes and tempting mouth of the coquette.

“My God!”

Birnier bent closer and stared intently. Across the corner of the
photograph were written in ink in familiar characters the words: ‘à toi,
Lucille.’

“Lucille!” he gasped. “Lu—Good God!” He stood up abruptly. “I—What in
God’s name—who is this woman?”

The match fell to the floor. He was vaguely conscious of the tall white
figure stiffening as a dog does.

“That lady is my fiancée.”

“Fiancée! She—Good God, you’re mad! She is my wife!”

“Wife!… Gott verdampf, der Teufel solls holen! Das ist der Schweinhünd!”

The gutturals exploded from zu Pfeiffer. The sleeve of his white jacket
quivered, the arm came up to the gold braided chest and jerked out a
silver whistle. He hesitated, glaring at the astonished figure of Birnier.
Suddenly zu Pfeiffer sat down by the table. His blue eyes were as hard as
malachite.

“Sit down!” he commanded harshly.

Birnier did not appear to notice him. He struck a match and bent over the
photograph again.

“Good God!” he muttered. “I—I—don’t understand—O God!”

“Sit down!” shouted zu Pfeiffer. Birnier merely blinked at him.

“Would you mind explaining?” demanded Birnier.

“Explain!… Is your wife Mademoiselle Lucille Charltrain?”

“Why, of course. That is her professional name. But how on earth has this
mistake happened? I—I—that is her writing—but it can’t be. I mean it’s
impossible.…” Birnier put his hand to his head. “I—God, it can’t be! I or
you must be mad! Which is——”

A prolonged whistle startled him. He saw the whistle at zu Pfeiffer’s
lips, but the act conveyed no meaning. He turned away, struck another
match and peered again at the photograph.

“Lucille! Lucille!” he whispered. “What on earth——”

A powerful clutch closed upon his arm. He was whirled backwards into a
chair. For a moment he was too dazed to grasp what had happened. He saw zu
Pfeiffer’s face. The sentries over his moustaches quivered like a row of
fixed bayonets. The eyes seemed needle points. Then the fact of the
assault penetrated beyond the unprecedented incident of finding his wife’s
photograph in another man’s room. The ugly line about the mouth hardened.
He rose slowly.

“Am I to understand that you have laid your hands upon your guest?” he
began, stuttering over the choice of words. “I am—I am——”

The scuffle of many feet interrupted him. Into the room rushed Sergeant
Schultz and several soldiers. Zu Pfeiffer stood up and pointed.

“Sergeant, arrest that man!” he barked.

“Ja, Excellence!”

The sergeant saluted and barked at the askaris. Birnier gazed stupidly at
the uniforms around him as if unable to comprehend. He looked at zu
Pfeiffer who stood erect, his face lost in shadow above the lamp, and back
at the soldiers.

“Is this a joke, Lieutenant—or are you mad?” he demanded angrily.

“Sergeant, put that man in the guard-room,” zu Pfeiffer commanded.

Zu Pfeiffer sat down with his back to Birnier and facing the photograph.
Birnier’s face twitched; he raised his arm. The sergeant barked and the
line of bayonets lowered menacingly.

“You gom with me, Herr American,” ordered the sergeant.

Birnier controlled himself.

“One moment, sergeant, please! Herr Lieutenant, on what charge do you
arrest me?” The perfect lines of the white-clad back did not quiver. “Very
good! I give you warning, Herr Lieutenant, that you have committed an
assault upon an American citizen.”

“Gom! Gom!” insisted the sergeant impatiently.

Birnier raised his head and walked as indicated by the sergeant. As the
footsteps plodded across the square zu Pfeiffer turned to the table,
examining his left hand.

“Ach!” he growled gutturally, “the dirty pig has broken my nail!”



                                CHAPTER 4


Over the city of the Snake the sun sank red dry, leaving the Place of
Kings hot in the electric air of magic and world happenings. The people
were still confined to their huts, trembling in the knowledge that for
three days love must be eschewed, no water drawn nor any food cooked with
fire; nor might any man, woman or child leave the precincts of the
compound.

All the night Bakuma crouched in her hut listening in awe to the swish of
the ghosts through the air, to the moans, groans and howls of the wizards
doing battle with them. Tightly did she hold the amulet as she strove to
conceal curiosity regarding the welfare of Zalu Zako; for did her mother
suspect the presence of this evil spirit would she cause Bakuma to take a
decoction of the castor-oil plant in order that the demon might be
expelled; and the more to aid her conquer this unlawful impulse to peep
without did she most persistently recite to herself the fate of the
daughter of MTasa, the foolish Tangulbala whose body had been discovered
impaled upon a tree by the angry spirits of the dead, because she had
rashly ventured forth the third day after the death of the grandfather of
Zalu Zako. Bakuma dared not mention the name of one who had died, for, as
everybody knows, such an impious person runs the risk of summoning the
ghosts to their presence.

The “putting out of the fire” had changed Bakuma’s prospects, had made
Zalu Zako heir-apparent, implying half a hundred responsibilities, the
chief of which was that now he was compelled to choose his official first
wife, she who would be the mother of the “divine” Son of the Snake: an
alteration that excited Bakuma to frantic clutching at the amulet. Would
the charm work or would it not? How to insure that it would be
efficacious? Marufa’s greedy demands worried her. She feared even if she
obtained the goat that he might require something else as well. Anybody
knows how greedy doctors are and how wealthy. He would be sure to increase
the fee, knowing the value of the prize. Bakuma only possessed one really
valuable article, and that was a charm against sterility; but this was the
last thing that she wished to part with as the only possible occurrence
that could ever divorce her from the position of chief wife, once she had
won Zalu Zako, would be failure to provide the male heir. She was
impatient, too, at the delay caused by the three days’ tabu. Time was
important. Soon she would be under the ban of the unclean which entailed
the curtailment of her liberty again, and she dreaded that possibly the
charm might grow stale. The greatest need for speed was MYalu’s suit. As
her father was dead she belonged to his brother. Already MYalu had offered
four tusks of ivory and three oxen for her. Her uncle was lazy, mean, and
greedy. Fortunately he thought that by waiting he could get double that
amount. Yet MYalu might decide to pay the price demanded. Once Zalu Zako
had selected her as his bride, her uncle dared not accept any other man’s
offer, no matter how wealthy he might be; besides, the old man would not
wish to refuse a relationship with the heir to the king-godhood.

Again her cousin was sick. The diagnosis of Yabolo, the wizard, was that
her soul had wandered in sleep down to the river and had been swallowed by
a fish. Yabolo had caught the fish and lured the soul into a tree, but now
he demanded such a big price to restore the errant soul to the girl that
her father, Bakuma’s uncle, would not pay it, so she would surely die;
then they would all have to be exorcised, which inferred a further loss of
relative freedom for another four days. Indeed with all these actual and
possible delays it seemed to Bakuma that some one had made much magic
against her. Unless she knew who he or she was, how could she employ the
same means to annul the terrible effects? And more, how could she obtain
the wherewithal to pay the fees of the best doctors? Life was very
complicated to the daughter of Bakala.

Up on the hill of MFunya MPopo had the magicians been busy all the
afternoon after the “putting out of the fire.” Zalu Zako and the chiefs
also were barred from the sacred enclosure; for being mere laymen they
could not hope to withstand the evil spirits of the dead. Even Bakahenzie
and the inner circle of the cult were compelled to employ the most potent
methods of protection to preserve them from being bewitched or slain
outright.

After Bakahenzie, Marufa, Yabolo and two other master magicians had
released the souls of the dead King by making incisions in the body with a
sacred spear to the thrumming of the drums, the mighty groaning of the
other wizards, and the persistent wailing of the dead man’s wives, the
corpse was borne by twelve doomed slaves to the temple and there interred
with the gouts of blood shed by the prophetic goat, the nail parings and
hair clippings of his lifetime, and his personal effects.

Upon the hill of MFunya MPopo, soon to be a temple and sanctuary, sat Kawa
Kendi beside the New Fire tended by Kingata Mata, facing Zalu Zako, MYalu
and the lay chiefs, while upon his own hill slaves were tearing down his
old hut, erecting a temporary palisade around the quarters of his wives
who were forever forbidden to him, and beginning the building of the new
temple.

As the violet shadows were creeping from one hut to another did Bakahenzie
and his satellites return from the ghoulish offices of the dead. Zalu
Zako, the chiefs and magicians arose to the wild beating of the drums and
the wailing chant of the hereditary troubadour with the five stringed
lyre. With Kingata Mata carrying a brand of the newly lighted sacred fire,
was Kawa Kendi led in procession through the deserted village to his
sacred home.

Under the hard stars set in a dry sapphire, the fire cast yellow flickers
upon the carven features of Kawa Kendi. In the still heat the distant
wailing of the women from the opposite hill drifted into the continuous
throb of the drums, the plaintive wail of the singer, and the hysterical
groaning of the magicians, yelling ferociously ever and again to
intimidate the baulked spirits around the magic circle.

Then was a white goat, previously selected from the flock of Kawa Kendi,
slain by Zalu Zako, disembowelled by Bakahenzie, and the entrails rubbed
upon the brow, the chest and the right arm of the slayer of man, a
ceremony of purification designed to protect the royal executioner by
appeasing the justly angry spirits of the dead; to Marufa were given other
parts of the slain beast to smear likewise upon Zalu Zako, the son; and
Yabolo ran screaming with portions to the quarters of the women of Kawa
Kendi: for must every blood relative be so enchanted lest the vengeful
ghost seek substitute victims.

As a pallid moon rose, as if fearfully, above the deep ultramarine of the
banana fronds, was a magic potion brewed from certain herbs in enchanted
water, with which the King, Zalu Zako, his son, and the King’s wives were
laved. Amid a tempest of screams and drums rose Kawa Kendi purified, to be
driven by Bakahenzie and the wizards back to the hill of his father,
leaving the assembled lay chiefs squatting humbly and in dread of the
spirits abroad in the night. While the procession leaped and twirled,
screamed and groaned to the frantic thrum of the drums through the blue
darkness, the magicians ran and pranced through and around the village,
seeking any blasphemer who dared to look upon sacred things; banging on
hut doors and shaking thatches, the more to terrify the shrinking
inhabitants.

Without the gate of the old enclosure all remained, except Bakahenzie and
the four wizards who encircled Kawa Kendi and Kingata Mata and hustled
them across the clearing. With his back to the dim form of the idol stood
Kawa Kendi as behind it grouped the master magicians. From the base
Bakahenzie took two large gourds and gave them into the keeping of Kingata
Mata.

Came an abrupt cessation of the drums and cries. The wailing of the women
behind the temple died. The tense air pulsed with electricity. A cock
crowed feebly in the village. Then at a rippling splash of the drums and
the sudden screaming of the wizards, they began to push the idol. The base
had already been loosened in the earth by the slaves. The idol began to
totter. Louder screeched the magicians; faster fled the drums. Slowly the
idol leaned and subsided on to the shoulders of Kawa Kendi. Grasping the
mass firmly upon his bent back, he bore the burden out of the enclosure
and down the hill.

Behind his unsteady steps pranced and yelled the doctors with more
prodigious a noise than ever before as they scourged the King’s legs and
arms with cords of fibre. Through the listening village panted the King.
As he gasped slowly up the hill the thrashing was redoubled. But into the
new enclosure the King staggered, let slide the heavy mass into a hole
prepared for the sacred feet and, gleaming blue points of sweat in the
faint moon, let out a hoarse yell, proving to the assembly of magicians
and chiefs that he was powerful enough to bear the burden of the world and
moreover that none could wrest his office from him.

No time was given for the incarnation of a god to recoup from his labours.
The motive principle of the accusation and for the death of the king was
the drought. That only concerned the soul of the tribe in the person of
Bakahenzie. For him and his brothers of the inner cult, while certain
pretensions of power over the supernatural were for the “good of the
people,” the truths of magic and divine functions were inviolable. The
person of Kawa Kendi, heretofore merely one in whom was a potentiality,
became after the purification and “coronation” the very incarnation of the
god. Kawa Kendi had crossed from the comparative safe haven of the
potential into divine activity.

Also there were, as ever, political reasons for the hastening of the
offices of the god. Should the new King-God fail, as his father had done,
to accomplish the duties of the rainmaker, then, as no precedent had ever
been known for the failure of two kings in succession, an enemy might
accuse Bakahenzie of having committed some sacrilege which had displeased
the Unmentionable One. Politics and religion are often inseparable.
Therefore, as soon as Zalu Zako had witnessed the ascent of his father
into the dangerous zone of the gods, was he bidden as the victim apparent,
to produce the sacred rain-making paraphernalia. From the Keeper of the
Fire, Kingata Mata, Zalu Zako received one of the large gourds, which he
deposited at the feet of his father squatting before the sacred fire, and
retired to his allotted place among the other lay chiefs. Only Bakahenzie
and the four of the inner cult were permitted within the enclosure.

Fumbling within the pot Kawa Kendi produced a bundle of twigs tied with
banana fibre, which he unbound and cast into the fire. The herbs
smouldered and sent up a pungent smoke forming a heavy cloud like some
strange blue tree sheltering the form of the idol against the green sky.
Save for the faint wailing of the distant women there was silence, in
which an owl screeched harshly, a good omen. Little flames flickered. The
smoke grew denser, obliterating the figure of the King. The drums began to
mutter, Bakahenzie cried out in a loud voice:

“O great God, the Unmentionable One! let thy powers be made manifest!”

The Keeper of the Fires came forward upon his hands and thrust the other
sacred gourd in front of the King, a deep one containing water, and a wand
made from a sacred tree which had upon the end a crook. To the groaning of
the magicians, the King took from the one gourd two stones of quartz and
granite, the male and the female, and spat upon each one, thus placing
part of his royal body upon them; then did he put them on the ground, and
pouring water, chanted:

  “Go forth, male spirit, with my ghost in thy hands!
  Go forth, female soul, with my ghost in thy breast!
  Make love together in the shade of great Tarum,
  Of him whom fear of me hath frozen the breath!”
                 “Ough! Ough!”

grunted the priests and magicians.

  “Go forth, male spirit, with my ghost in thy hand!
  Go forth, female soul, with my ghost in thy breast!
  Love one another that the crops of our land
  May marry as well and be as fruitful as thee!”
                 “Ough! Ough!”

  “Go forth, male spirit, with my ghost in thy hand!
  Go forth, female soul, with my ghost in thy breast!
  Rise high up to heaven and mount on the black back
  Of the bird of the wet wind: poke your hands in his eyes!”
                 “Ough! Ough!”

Save for the distant wailing, there was the silence of those waiting for a
miracle. In the sky, at the back of the idol, was the paling of dawn.
Suddenly, as if exasperated by the non-obedience of the elements, Kawa
Kendi sprang to his feet, with the magic wand in his right hand, turned
and stared apparently into the face of the idol. For a full two minutes he
stood as if carven, while the doctors and the chiefs moaned dismally.
Around him like a pall still hovered the smoke of the magic fire. From the
village a cock’s challenge was answered from point to point. Then shooting
out his right hand, Kawa Kendi made gestures as if hooking something
invisible and began to scream furiously:

  “Thus do I, the One-not-to-be-mentioned,
  Drag forth from the belly of heaven
  The disobedient One, the lazy One!
  The insolent One who sinneth in sleep!
  The black-snouted One whose udders are choked!
  The womanly One whose nipples are dry!
  The sluttish One who refuseth her milk!
  The gorbellied One whose voice is a wind!
  Come forth, lest I give thee sorrow and pain!
  And make thee to weep the bitterest tears!
  Come forth, lest I tear out thy black bosom!
  Tear out thy guts for a feast unto Tarum!
  Come forth, lest I throw off the yoke of the burden
  Of the Earth and the Sky upon thy sweating black belly!”

In a slight puff of wind, the smoke, lace-edged with the dawn light,
swayed, seeming to twine about the figure of the King as he stood with the
wand outheld, as if firmly hooked in the guts of the recalcitrant
elements.

Against the rose of the dawn appeared a dark line which increased as the
magicians and chiefs moaned and groaned in sympathy with the furious
efforts of the rainmaker, who threatened and pulled with the magic crook,
so that everybody could see that he was indeed dragging the reluctant
clouds from over the end of the earth. As the dark mass swelled the more
he wrestled and screamed abuse at the dilatory spirit of the rain.

And behold, within half an hour, great black spirits sailed across the
scarlet sunrise and wept exceeding bitterly; while from the village went
up a great shout of praise to the triumphant King still prancing and
cursing to such good effect up on the hill.



                                CHAPTER 5


The same vast balloons of sepia rolled over the lake, vomited a host of
liquid ramrods and, after short intervals of brilliant glare, were
succeeded by others. The gutters of the station were turned into burbling
brooks and the grass plot into a morass.

Behind the screen on the south verandah sat zu Pfeiffer in his pink silk
pyjamas, a scowl upon his brow. He sipped his café cognac distastefully
and inhaled a cigarette so fiercely that the heat burned his tongue. He
had not slept. Yet the broken nail on the left little finger had been cut
and polished. Half the night he had sat before the photograph in the ivory
frame, pondering upon, and rehearsing, the past; muttering aloud to
Lucille, sometimes words of love and sometimes savage curses; wondering
what she was doing and where she was; gritting his teeth at visions which
aroused insane jealousy; calculating what the consequences of his action
would be were he to obey the impulse that had leaped into his mind in the
first flush of passion. If he were to release the prisoner the fellow
would probably expect an explanation and an apology which was, of course,
out of the question. No, he must carry out the thing thoroughly without
leaving any chance for the man to make trouble at the coast, or through
the Embassy at Washington; at all costs not through Washington. For him,
Birnier merely existed as a person whose feelings mattered nothing.

With the greening of the moon zu Pfeiffer had retired. As he had lain
sleeplessly watching the pallor of the dawn he had savagely corroborated
the decision. Now the roar of the deluge appeared to him in the form of an
abettor to his plan. He watched the grey wall of rain with satisfaction,
stroking the left sentry moustache as if to tame the fierce bristles of an
outraged dignity. When he had emerged from the bath, the pink of his face
appeared to have spread to the whites of his eyes, a fact which Bakunjala
had noted with sullen dread.

Between the storms the sun glared yellow upon the smoking earth. Across
the square squelched zu Pfeiffer to the orderly room. He grunted at
Sergeant Schultz’s greeting and sprawled in the chair. When Schultz
proffered him some official documents he waved them aside irritably.

“Bring the prisoner to the Court, sergeant. I will try him immediately.”

“Excellence!” said the sergeant, saluting. “What charge am I to enter
against him, Excellence?”

“Arms and liquor running,” responded zu Pfeiffer quickly. “I hold papers
which prove the case completely; moreover you will see that Ali ben Hassan
and others are prepared to testify. But—the charge will be margined as
political: not criminal. Understand, sergeant?”

“Perfectly, Excellence. Ali ben Hassan and the others have to testify
before your Excellence now?”

“There will be no need.”

“Very good, Excellence.”

“And, sergeant, what is the personnel of the launch and the prisoner’s
party?”

“The launch returned immediately to Jinja, Excellence, as soon as the
prisoner had landed.”

“Ach, good.”

“The prisoner has a considerable battery, equipment and provisions; a
headman and personal servants. He intended to obtain porters here,
Excellence.”

Zu Pfeiffer meditated, tapping the desk with a gold pencil.

“What is the headman?”

“Bambeeba, Excellence.”

“Good. And the servants?”

“One is a Wongolo youth, the others are mixed Walegga and Kavirondo.”

“Arrest them all and see that none gets away.”

“Excellence!”

Schultz saluted and departed. Zu Pfeiffer frowned at the glare which was
suddenly extinguished by falling water. He lighted a cigar and waited.
Presently the sergeant returned in a waterproof cape, dripping, and
announced that the prisoner was ready. Zu Pfeiffer gathered up his long
legs and marched stiffly into the Court House adjoining.

Upon a slight dais was a large desk and a cane armchair beneath the
Imperial Eagles and a portrait of the Kaiser Wilhelm II. Pale, stubble
bearded, and tense eyed with anger, sat Birnier upon a form against the
wall; beside him stood Sergeant Schneider, for it is not usual etiquette
to put a white prisoner in charge of a black guard. The grizzled sergeant
stood stuffy to attention, which zu Pfeiffer acknowledged. Although he did
not meet Birnier’s gaze, he scowled as if he had expected him to salute
the majesty of the judge as well.

But as zu Pfeiffer mounted the step to the chair of justice he looked up
at the portrait of the Kaiser, stopped, and hesitated; then he wheeled
abruptly, and barked:

“Sergeant, bring the prisoner to the orderly room!”

In the orderly room Birnier was placed between Sergeant Schultz at his
table and Sergeant Schneider by the door. Birnier watched zu Pfeiffer
intently, but zu Pfeiffer regarded him icily as if he were a piece of
furniture. Without a word Birnier reached out and lifted a chair. Sergeant
Schneider started forward, evidently fearing that the prisoner was about
to attack his officer. Birnier said acidly: “I merely wish to sit down.”

Zu Pfeiffer scowled again, but he made no objection. He took up some
papers at random and began to peruse them. Said Birnier sharply:

“When you have finished with this farce I shall be obliged if you will
kindly explain your insane actions!”

The tap-tap of a typewriter sounded from another room. A fly buzzed. Zu
Pfeiffer’s eyelids did not blink. The sergeants stared woodenly to the
front. Birnier looked from one to the other, bit his lips, and then
exclaimed in exasperation: “What in hell do you mean by this damned
nonsense?”

The tap-tap continued; the fly buzzed irritatedly. Birnier clenched his
fist. But he sat still. Another storm so darkened the room that zu
Pfeiffer could scarcely have seen the print, but apparently he read on.
The deluge roared, passed, and the glare came as suddenly. Zu Pfeiffer
lifted his head and said in German:

“Sergeant, record the opening of the Court.”

“Excellence!” assented Sergeant Schultz and poised his pen ready to write.

“The prisoner, a Swiss subject——”

“I am American, as I have told you,” said Birnier in leashed anger.

“A pseudo trader and hunter, named Carl Bornstadt,” continued zu Pfeiffer
imperturbably, “is charged under sub-section 79 of section 8 with
supplying guns and liquor to the native subjects of his Imperial Majesty.”

“Good God!” began Birnier. But as he realised zu Pfeiffer’s purpose and
his own position, he closed his lips tightly.

Methodically the sergeant finished the entries and waited. Zu Pfeiffer
stroked his favourite moustache and considered. He glanced at Birnier, but
without a vestige of expression and continued:

“Make a special note, sergeant, that we have reason to suspect that the
prisoner is in the political service of”—a slight smile flicked the
lieutenant’s face—“in the service of the Portuguese, and so under
sub-section 109 of section 8, I am referring the case to Dar-es-salaam for
investigation; witnesses, documentary and personal, to accompany the
prisoner. Owing to unusual pressure of service we are unable to afford the
prisoner, although apparently of European descent, a white guard;
therefore, Sergeant Ludwig will detail a corporal and six men for the
duty.”

He paused. The sergeant’s pen scratched on. Zu Pfeiffer lighted a cigar
and added impersonally:

“The prisoner and escort will leave to-morrow morning. Sergeant Schneider,
remove the prisoner!”

Birnier’s face was a little paler, the eyes were slightly more bloodshot;
but he did not attempt to speak. Zu Pfeiffer rose. The sergeants stood to
attention and saluted. As he left the room towards the Court House, he
smiled with slight satisfaction as the gruff voice of Sergeant Schneider
barked: “Prisoner, shun! Right turn! Quick marrch!”

But zu Pfeiffer did not remain long in the Court House. After fidgeting
about with papers on the table and reprimanding Sergeant Schultz because
he had not arranged the next native case to his satisfaction, he rose
abruptly and marched swiftly across the square in the brilliant glare
without his helmet and into his study. There he straddled a chair and
leaned on the back sucking a dead cigar absent-mindedly. As he stared at
the portrait in the ivory frame, the blue eyes grew soft and the delicate
lips quivered like a child about to weep. He sighed heavily and then
rapping out an oath, rose violently, overturning the chair, poured out a
half-glass of neat cognac, and drank it at a gulp. As he neared the Court
House the sentry, turning at the end of his short beat, was so startled at
the proximity of the Kommandant, or incompletely disciplined, that he
became flurried. Zu Pfeiffer clicked his heels together and haughtily
watched the fumbled efforts to salute. The bolt caught in the man’s tunic.
Gold flashed in the sun as the sjambok descended. Zu Pfeiffer walked on
unconcernedly, leaving a grey weal on the terrified native’s face. To
Sergeant Schultz, rigid in the doorway, he snapped an order to have fifty
lashes given to the “clumsy dog.”

Sentences were harsher than usual that morning. All the native world about
him knew that a demon had taken possession of the Eater-of-men; he was
usually inhabited by an evil spirit, but this time the demon of Bakra who,
as everybody knows, tears the vitals with hot claws, making the victim to
have fits, to foam at the mouth, to be quite mad, had entered the white
man. Bakunjala, coming to the Court House with vermouth and biscuits at
eleven o’clock, distinctly saw the devil glaring through zu Pfeiffer’s
eyes, and was so scared that he let fall the tray, which was the reason
that he also was doomed to have twenty-five lashes that evening. Even the
stolid Sergeant Schultz remarked that the Herr Lieutenant had gotten a
touch of the sun; but the grizzled Schneider, who came from Luthuania,
opined that the Herr Kommandant had left his table knife edge uppermost.

When zu Pfeiffer went across to tiffin the hot sun had dried up the
gutters and the plot of grass. He did not return to the Court House, much
to the gratitude of many innocent and guilty. After drinking more wine
than usual he lay down for the siesta and fell asleep. But at five he
awoke with a mouth like a burnt cooking pot and the temper of the said
devil. He yelled for Bakunjala, who came, so trembling with fright that he
stuttered. Zu Pfeiffer threw a glass which missed him and broke a mirror.

“Another seven years’ ill luck!” shouted zu Pfeiffer, sitting on the bed
in his shirt. He glared at Bakunjala standing in the door, too
terror-stricken to flee, convinced that he would be blamed for breaking
the glass. “You—you superstitious nigger!” yelled zu Pfeiffer, and added
more calmly in Kiswahili: “Fetch me a brandy-soda! Upesi, you son of a
baboon!”

“Bwana!” exclaimed Bakunjala and fled gladly.

Zu Pfeiffer sat and scowled at the scattered pieces of mirror until
Bakunjala arrived with the drink. An hour later he emerged in his
immaculate undress uniform and sat on the north verandah, drank vermouth
and smoked cigars, staring out across the flat swamp where the pewter of
the lake was flecked with silver and blood of the sinking sun. From beyond
the fort came the yaps of the drill-sergeant busy in the cool of the
afternoon. At the bark of the relieving guard, zu Pfeiffer rose and walked
around the house to watch, with tetchy eyes, the saluting of the flag.

As he stalked off to dinner in the messroom eyes glimmered in the darkness
about him. Bakunjala, after receiving punishment, was indisposed, in fact
incapable of attending to his duties in the spritely manner required.
Another servant, who had taken his place, was nervous of the probable
consequences, and had a keen eye for the appearance of the devil so
realistically described by Bakunjala. But the demon apparently slept, for
zu Pfeiffer took the dishes placed before him with an unaccustomed
meekness, pushed them away absent-mindedly, and rising, retired to his
study. Even when the deputy brought the wrong bottle he reprimanded him
mildly without taking his eyes off the photograph in the ivory frame.

Yet, with the port, he did not omit to rise, and heels together, raise his
glass to the “Ihre Hochheit.” Then sprawling in the chair he began to
drink and to smoke steadily.

As the notes of the last post stuttered out in the clammy stillness he
summoned the “boy” and bade him fetch Sergeant Schultz. At the sound of
the sergeant’s steps on the verandah zu Pfeiffer stiffened up and patted
his lips as if desiring to erase the lines that were graven thereon; and
with one foot pushed the chair from the direct angle to the photograph.

“Take a cigar,” said zu Pfeiffer, when the man had entered. The words were
rather an order than an invitation. Sergeant Schultz obeyed. Zu Pfeiffer
smoked reflectively, still regarding the photograph out of the corner of
his eyes as if unable to resist the fascination.

“How long have you been in this benighted country, sergeant?”

“Nine years, Excellence.”

“You wish to retire on the pension at the year’s term?”

“I have not seen my wife and children for three years, Excellence.”

“You shall have special leave as soon as the Wongolo affair is over.”

“I thank you, Excellence.”

“And I will recommend you for the special colonial service medal and
pension.”

“I thank you, Excellence.”

“Take a drink, sergeant.”

“I thank you, Excellence.”

The sergeant obeyed with some semblance of initiative and he remarked that
the lieutenant drank half a tumbler of neat brandy at a gulp. As if to
drag himself away from the contemplation of the photograph zu Pfeiffer
stood up and sat on the arm of the chair with his face in shadow above the
lamp-shade. Gazing keenly at the sergeant, he said sharply:

“You are quite aware of the regulations regarding official secrets,
sergeant?”

“Ach, yes, Excellence!”

As the sergeant paused to answer with the glass in his hand there was just
a suspicion of astonishment in the tone.

“Good. Don’t forget it!” A note of menace was in zu Pfeiffer’s voice. He
added more mildly, “Political reasons may cause stringent measures
sometimes.”

“Yes, Excellence.”

Zu Pfeiffer smoked, coldly regarding the sergeant.

“Who is Sergeant Schneider detailing for the prisoner’s escort to-morrow?”

“Corporal Inyira, Excellence.”

“A long service man?”

“Ja, Excellence.”

“Good. Go and fetch him here.”

Not a shadow of surprise showed on Sergeant Schultz’s face as he departed.
Zu Pfeiffer smoked hard and drank another brandy thirstily with a slight
unsteadiness as he lifted the glass to his mouth. The sergeant returned
and stood at attention just within the door.

“The man is here, Excellence.” Zu Pfeiffer nodded.

“Forward, quick marrch,” commanded the sergeant in a muffled bark.
“Halttt!”

“Very good, sergeant, you may wait.”

Schultz saluted and retired without. The tall powerfully built native in
uniform stood as if he had a bayonet beneath his chin. There was a slight
nervousness about the blues of the eyes as he squinted in the attempt to
look straight ahead and to watch the Kommandant at the same time. One
nostril was slit, in the lobes of the ears were three can keys, and the
temples were tattooed with tribal scars.

“Corporal Inyira!” said zu Pfeiffer sharply. The black body twitched at
the voice. “You are to leave to-morrow for Dar-es-salaam and you will take
as a prisoner a white man who has been taking your tribe as slaves and
selling them to the Abyssinians. The Bwana Mkubwa protects you from these
evil white men and Arabs. You know that?” sharply.

“Bwana!”

“Very good. You know what would happen to you if you were sold as a slave?
You have had many brothers who have been sold to the Abyssinians?”

“Bwana! Many, Bwana!”

“Very good. Now listen! This white man is very bad. He leaves with you
to-morrow morning for Dar-es-salaam, but—he is never to arrive there. I
give him to you. You may do what you like with him, but never let me see
him again. You have my protection. Understand?”

“Bwana!”

The rubber lips pouted in the emphatic utterance.

“These are your secret orders. But you are not to tell them to any man,
woman, or child here; you may tell your men when you are gone. If you
disobey I will cut out your tongue and give you three hundred lashes.
Understand?”

“Bwana!”

“This man is the enemy of the Bwana Mkubwa. His enemies are your enemies.
His goods are yours. Begone!”

The black hand came up jerkily to the black forehead, shot away out and
down; the polished calves moved like the eccentrics of an engine, and
Corporal Inyira melted into the shadows.

“Sergeant Schultz!”

To smart heel taps on the verandah entered the sergeant.

“You will see that Corporal Inyira and the escort leave before daybreak;
moreover, that he talks with no one before he leaves.”

“Excellence.”

“Take a drink, sergeant.”

With legs as stiff as his sjambok, Sergeant Schultz obeyed the order;
lifted the glass and drank.

“You may go! Good night, sergeant.”

“Excellence, good night!”

As zu Pfeiffer shifted from the chair-arm to the seat his movements were
slightly erratic. He sat forward, staring at the photograph, as he drank
more brandy. Outside, the pæan of the frogs pulsed steadily. From a
distance came the throb of a native drum. A cricket shrilled
intermittently.

“Bwana!”

The ghostly figure of Bakunjala whispered from the doorway. Zu Pfeiffer
started nervously.

“Zingala,” began Bakunjala timorously.

“Gott verdamf—Emshi!” snapped zu Pfeiffer, his ring flashing in an
irritable gesture.

Bakunjala melted. Came a mutter of voices and a subdued giggle.

Zu Pfeiffer sat and drank and stared. Above the insectile anthem of the
night, rose a gurgling voice in a drinking song.… Later the crash of a
breaking glass was accompanied by an oath. The glimmer of three pairs of
eyes through the window screen vanished and reappeared.… Once more rose
the voice singing:

     “Scheiden tut weh,
     Scheiden, ja scheiden, scheiden tut weh!”

Just as the cricket began anew, after having politely ceased to hear the
lieutenant’s song, trickled out upon the clammy air the sound of weeping.



                                CHAPTER 6


In the violet shadow of his square hut inside the compound, squatted Zalu
Zako. The lips and nose were nearer to the Aryan delicacy than the negroid
bluntness; for the Wongolo, like the Wahima, are a mixed Bantu-Somali
race. In colour his skin had the red of bronze rather than the blue of the
negro, and the planes of his moulded chest were as light as the worn ivory
bracelets upon his polished limbs. Broad in the shoulders he had almost
the slender hips of a young girl and his carriage was as balanced as a
dancer’s.

From a group of small round huts behind his square hut, where dwelt his
two wives, concubines and slaves, came the clutter of voices. A distant
drum throbbed gently on the hot air. Away in the cool green of the banana
plantation rose the crooning chant of the unmarried girls and slaves
bringing water from the river.

Apparently Zalu Zako was absorbed in the movements of a diminutive chicken
scratching in the soil. The omen of the goat was occupying his mind: that
and the death of his grandfather, MFunya MPopo. There was no sense of
grief, for he was not a woman. Now, at the beginning of his warrior’s
career, he had not any desire for divine honours and celibacy. No man had.
Yet Zalu Zako no more dreamed of questioning the necessity than of
spitting in the face of an enemy. Always had the first born male of his
family been doomed to the kingly office. There was never a second born
male, for it was not meet that a god should have paternal brothers. The
wives of his youth and his concubines could have as many children as they
could bear; but according to the law, did he select the chief wife from
whom should spring the one regal son only when he had become heir
apparent; for then was he not already half divine, being so near the
sacred enclosure up on the hill?

The choice of that chief wife was free as there were no royal families in
the sense of divine descent save the direct male line of the King-God. But
the mind of Zalu Zako dwelt more upon his personal career. The life of a
warrior was frequently short and that of a god even briefer. MFunya MPopo
had reigned but twenty moons; MKoffo, so said the elders, had reigned for
full two hundred moons; but then he had been a mighty magician.

With a harsh squawk a brilliant scarlet and blue bird with an enormous
yellow bill perched on the palisade of the compound. Immediately the young
man forgot his musing and rose, calling for his spear. A stocky man, coal
black, with a fuzzy tuft of a beard, came out of the hut. From the slave
Zalu Zako took a broad-bladed spear with a short haft. Watching to see
that the bird was still sitting on the fence as he passed out of the
compound, he set off rapidly through the village and into the banana
plantations in search of a wart hog which had been rooting up one of his
fields of sweet potatoes. Just as he came within sight of them a black
field rat sprang out of the grass in his path, glanced round at him, and
disappeared. The young man’s steps slackened, for he knew that the black
rat had spoiled the luck which the banana eater had portended. Scarcely
troubling to glance around the field, he diverged across at an angle
making for a break in the jungle where he knew was the trail of the boar.
But he grunted contemptuously as he examined the last spoor, which was at
least half a day old. Of course the hog would not be there.

He bethought himself of another field where sometimes came buck. But there
was no game. The black rat again! Yet if one waited long enough a good
omen might appear. As he squatted beneath a banana plant to take snuff
came a squawk and the banana eater—for it appeared to be the same
one—alighted on a frond near to him. Zalu Zako waited. Leisurely and
cautiously he arose. The bird peered at him. Zalu Zako passed and left the
banana eater still sitting there. He felt the weight of his spear
tentatively, for a double omen of luck must mean big game: possibly an
eland or a leopard.

He circled right round the outskirts of the plantation. But he saw no
signs. As he began to make the big circle again the shadows were
lengthening appreciably. Passing by the ford of the small river, which was
swollen from the rains, he heard a group of young girls chattering on the
river bank as they filled their gourds. He paused to test which way the
wind was blowing in order to avoid going down wind where the sound of
their voices would scare away any game.

But as he turned to move on he caught a glimpse of a figure mounting the
incline. The motion was as lithe as a young giraffe; the legs were as
straight as spears and as supple as a kiboko; the moulded hips swayed
rhythmically like a banana frond in the breeze; the fluted arch of her
back swelled proudly upwards to the resilient shoulders; and an arm as
slender as a lizard’s tail steadied the gourd upon a small black head set
upon a neck like a sapling. The dappled shadows of a tree played hide and
seek upon the tiny hills that were her firm young breasts, upon the
smoothness of her torso of light bronze. As he gazed her face came into
view in speaking to a comrade just beneath. An errant shaft of sunlight
glinted the pearl of teeth, glowed the tiny nose and blued the whites of
eyes which were as soft as any antelope.

Zalu Zako clicked the syllable that means astonishment.

“Wait there, O Bayakala,” she called, “for I have to do the making of
mighty magic with the spirits of the wood.”

“Eh, eh!” responded one of those left by the water edge, “a girl of the
hut thatch hath nought to do with spirits of the wood for their bellies
are as big as a pregnant woman!”

The young girl laughed and her notes seemed to Zalu Zako like the dripping
of water upon a river rock.

“Thou knowest less than the Baroto bird who as everybody knows is the
spirit of one!”

“’Tis more than thou wilt ever be!” retorted the rival beneath.

“Ehh! Ehh!” exclaimed the girl at the sneer, “thy girdle is rotted long
since with juice!”

“And thine,” shouted the insulted one, who was old for a spinster, “wilt
rot with the dryness!”

“Tscch! It is dry for the lord whom I will conquer with magic such as thou
hast never dreamed on, O Bayakala!”

“And who is he for whom thou makest magic, O daughter of the hut thatch?”
demanded Zalu Zako, stepping from the shelter of the tree.

“Ehh!” ejaculated Bakuma. “I—we do but tickle the fronds (jest), O Chief!”

The only sign of her nervousness was the slight swaying of the gourd of
water upon her head as she turned up her eyes to the young chief who
regarded her slowly. She edged away. He moved a pace in front of her. She
clutched at the amulet around her neck as she turned her eyes and said:

“The cooking fires are low, O Chief, and need be tended.”

“Thy breasts are like unto small anthills,” he said, “and thy belly is as
smooth as yonder river rock.”

“Thy tongue is sweeter than the honey of the kinglan tree.”

“Thy voice is softer than the muted lyre and thy nose is formed of two
petals of an orchid.”

“Thy praise is more refreshing than the morning dew to a thirsty flower.”

“And by thy figure am I made more drunken than by the wine of the Soka
palm.”

For a full minute they stood, a study in light bronze against the dappled
green foliage. The shrill chatter of the other girls approaching startled
Bakuma into action. She swayed to one side.

“The spirits of the cooking pot cry aloud for me, O Chief.”

“Who is thy father, little one?” he demanded.

“I am Bakuma, the daughter of Bakala, O Chief.”

“There has been a veil before my eyes that I have not seen thee before.”

“The mountains see not the tiny brooks amid the mighty forests,” murmured
Bakuma and sped up the path.

Zalu Zako stood motionless watching her form melt into the green, and as
he turned towards the river he met Bayakala and the other women who shrank
aside from the path to allow the Son of the Snake to pass in silence. Yet
at the ford he paused. He had forgotten the omen of the banana eater and
the purpose for which he had come.

As Bakuma sped along in a gliding lope the amulet swayed rhythmically to
the whispered praises of the power of Marufa, mixed with ardent prayers to
the spirits to provide the fat goat with which to propitiate the spirit of
the woods; for had not the love charm already manifested its wondrous
power? As she hastened through the banana plantation she could not resist
diverging a little in the direction of the magician’s hut. As she passed,
she saw him seated on the threshold of the compound gathering inspiration
from his favourite wall. But Marufa observed her demeanour, and being
something of a student of men, he deducted that the charm had already
begun to work.

Marufa, as all successful men, had a strain of luck. Before the shadows
had crept a hand’s breadth came MYalu, indignant and exasperated. The
three tusks had been paid and the footprint obtained; but he had
discovered that it was no easy matter to procure the other ingredients
which he suspected the wizard had known well and intended as a means to
extract more ivory. After the ceremonious greetings he protested that the
task given was almost impossible to execute. Marufa remained imperturbably
interested in his wall.

“But as thou knowest,” insisted MYalu, “the hair and the toe-nail and the
spittle of the Son of the Snake are more than difficult to obtain. Does a
man so carelessly render himself unto his enemies, and he the Son of the
Snake? None save one of his household could purloin a single hair. Even
this morning was his hair shaved and the remnants, as thou knowest well,
deposited in the temple with him who was his father.”

“The hair, the toe-nail, and the spittle,” mumbled the old man, “must I
have for such mighty magic.”

“Ehh!” snorted MYalu, “with a man of the clay, but with one who is half
divine, the Son of the Snake! Ehh!”

“The bow is useless without the arrows,” mumbled the old man.

“Tsch. ’Tis a mighty hunter that hath not the arrows for his bow,” sneered
MYalu.

“Verily,” retorted Marufa disinterestedly, “and still more a mighty man
who cannot do his own hunting!”

“No warrior hath been purified more frequently than I,” boasted MYalu,
referring to the ceremony incumbent upon those who have taken life to
appease the ghosts of the slain.

“The spirits obey not the crowing of a cockerel,” reminded Marufa.

“Tsch!” For a while both sat silent, MYalu gloomily watching a hen.

“Aie! Aie!” he lamented at last, “what is there that I may do, for indeed
she hath caught my soul in a trap. Aie! Aie!”

“If the hunter cannot make arrows, he may buy them,” remarked Marufa, who
had been patiently waiting for this state of mind.

“Eh! The bowstring hath been costly but the arrows! Aie! Aie! What
would’st thou?”

“The rich man payeth in his kind. Four tusks of fine grain.”

“Eh! Eh!”

“Maybe there are others whose hands are not withered.”

“Others than the Son of the Snake?” demanded MYalu quickly.

“Who knows? There are more fools than chickens,” muttered the old man.

MYalu stared disconsolately at the distant bananas. Perhaps, he reflected,
it would be cheaper to pay the price the girl’s uncle demanded, yet——
MYalu had bought other wives whose unimpassioned charms had quickly
staled. His soul, as he put it, had indeed been tempted into a trap by
Bakuma; for he wished only that she should desire him as he desired her.
Yet was he angry. Love seemed to be a costly business. Marufa tapped out
snuff and sniffed delicately with the air of a connoisseur devoting
himself to the pleasure of the moment. Replacing the cork of twisted
leaves he stirred as if to rise.

“Canst thou procure then the nail and the hairs that are asked by the
spirits?” inquired MYalu sulkily.

“All things are possible to the son of MTungo,” asserted Marufa. “Four
tusks, and these things are found; but of fine grain, for the others were
old and coarse.”

“Ehh! How wilt thou procure these things?” demanded MYalu sceptically.

“The ways of the wise are not the ways of fools.”

“The tusks are thine,” said MYalu reluctantly, “if thou wilt tell me how
thou wilt procure them.”

“Thy words are like unto the vomit of a dog,” muttered the old man.

“But how? My heart is not bound in clay.”

“Tch!” clicked Marufa contemptuously. “Every fool must needs see the spoor
of the god which he cannot read. I have spoken.” MYalu regarded the old
wizard incredulously. “Tch! Send the four tusks as we have agreed and so
shall it be. Begone!”

Slowly MYalu rose, made his greeting, and departed more impressed than
ever that the old man was a mighty magician.

During the hour when the soul is small and dwells timidly around the feet
Marufa dozed in the cool of his hut; but later when it spread boldly out
was he squatted once more in his favourite seat at the entrance to the
compound, taking snuff and contemplating. The shadows grew from violet to
blue; the small hens pecked for worms with avidity and the goats scratched
with vigour in the cool. Patiently Marufa sat. At length that for which he
had waited with a sound though primitive knowledge of psychology, came to
pass. Bakuma appeared, apprehensive, but with yet an abandon which sang
her happiness. Beside Marufa she sat so as to avoid the shadow of one foot
protruding beyond that of the fence.

“O great and mighty magician,” she began eagerly, after the formal
greetings. “Indeed all that thou hast said hath come to pass. Thy charm is
infallible.”

“Ugh!” grunted Marufa unconcernedly.

“All that my heart desireth hath already begun to be. I thank thee.”

“Ugh!”

“O mighty son of MTungo, what must I now do?”

“Thou knowest,” mumbled Marufa, fumbling for the snuff case.

“Aie! Aie! but I have no fat goat!” cried Bakuma, who had hoped fatuously
that the wizard would have forgotten. “I, a girl of the hut thatch, how
should I have a goat?” Marufa tapped snuff as if no romance were in the
making. Bakuma’s bright eyes, sharpened by the proximity of the promise of
her love, watched the old man keenly. “Listen, O great and mighty son of
MTungo, to whom all things are known, who canst accomplish all that thou
desireth, Bayakala, my cousin, hath a goat, but it is old and skinny.
Perhaps——”

“In the nostrils of the spirits,” asserted Marufa instantly, “all odours
are the same except that of the fat goat whom they love.”

“Aie! then am I undone, for no fat goat have I!” wailed Bakuma. “Know I
not one who hath a goat who would smile on me, a girl of the hut thatch.”

“Ugh!”

Bakuma regarded him imploringly, but Marufa’s gaze was fixed upon the wall
as if his mind were turned to matters of more importance.

“O mighty wizard, what must I do?” implored Bakuma desperately.

“Ugh!”

After a prolonged contemplation, said Marufa: “If thou canst get no goat,
then is there another path by which thou mayest accomplish thy end.”

“Eh!”

“But it is very difficult.”

“By my cord, will I do all that thou canst bid me to do!” swore Bakuma in
anxious haste.

“Ugh! This path is more certain of success for the will of the spirits are
oftentimes chary of their favours.”

“O mighty one!” breathed Bakuma, as he paused tantalisingly.

“But the matter is exceedingly difficult—and dangerous.”

“If the flower hath no sun hath it ever lived?”

“As even thou shouldst know,” mumbled Marufa, more casually than ever, “he
who possesses a part of the soul may do magic thereon.”

“Aye! Aye!”

“Bring me then of the nail parings one, of his hairs one, and of his
spittle. Then may I do magic thereon which he cannot resist.”

“O mighty magician!” gasped Bakuma, appalled at the difficulty and the
danger of the task.

“That path is sure. There is no other.”

“Eh! … But if they of thy craft should know then am I doomed!”

“There is no other.”

Torn between her love and the dread of the penalty incurred by the
sacrilege of the theft of the parts of one who might any day be King-God,
Bakuma stared distraught.

“Were not my words white? Hath not the love charm thou hast already had
done even as I did say?”

“O mighty one!”

“But that is only as the goat to the leopard. The trap must be dug—or the
scent of the bait will be blown.”

“Ehh!” gasped Bakuma, in desperation, “by my twin soul which dwells
beneath the banana plant, will I do it!”



                                CHAPTER 7


Gerald Birnier had flattered himself that he was a philosopher with a
sense of humour, fairly well developed by ten years’ wandering about
Central Africa, but deep emotions submerge such cherished qualities.

The presence of the photograph was explicable by several surmises: zu
Pfeiffer might have met Lucille at Washington, Paris, or Berlin: she might
have given him the photograph or he might have bought it, or even stolen
it. But—the signature “à toi, Lucille”! There lay the sting which maddened
Birnier and strangled reason, the fact at which his mind yawed futilely.

So great had been the shock that the arrest had seemed but a secondary
matter in accord with the insanity of zu Pfeiffer’s statement that he was
engaged to Lucille. The affair had been so sudden that for some time he
could progress no farther in an attempt to think than a gasp, pawing
mentally at an intangible substance which eluded him like a child’s small
hand trying to grasp a toy balloon. Sense of reality appeared to have been
dissolved. He had followed the sergeant across the square meekly without
realising what was happening, and when he had been placed in a whitewashed
room at the back of the native guard house which served as a jail, he sat
down upon a chair, too bewildered to comprehend where he was. That “à toi,
Lucille” rang like the clanging in a belfry, drowning the sound of other
thoughts.

By the light of a hurricane lamp he regarded the soldiers bringing in an
old camp bed with indifference. When they had gone he began to pace up and
down the small room frantically trying to gain control. To the first
prompting of a logical reason for the whole affair he did not dare to
listen. The disrupting cause was the complete inability to explain the
familiar signature. To his Anglo-Saxonised mind, bred in the strict code
of the south, tutoyer was only permissible to dogs, inferiors, most
intimate relations and lovers. He was far too unbalanced to see the humour
as he solemnly announced that certainly zu Pfeiffer was not a dog, nor in
the social code an inferior; he was not a relation; therefore.… His mind
baulked and raced into incoherence.

A point of view which added false premises, as well as his attitude to
those two little words, was the consciousness that many would consider
that he had not treated his wife as a husband should do. This possibility
had never occurred to him before, so that it came with disproportionate
emphasis.

As a young man he had been too absorbed in his profession to be a lady’s
man; and of love he had reckoned little until he had met the Lucille
Charltrain with whom half the world was in love. And she doubtless, like
many a spoiled beauty, was a little piqued that the professor did not join
the throng of her courtiers. In Birnier’s mind there had ever been
associated with love the fear that the woman would demand too much, that
no woman could understand that a man’s profession must of necessity come
before all things. Lucille was the first woman whom he had met who really
seemed to understand this point of view, as she, too, was devoted to her
art. This had grown to be the biggest bond and attraction between them.
Most men wished to make of love a nuisance, as Lucille once put it. So the
good-looking professor had won the beauty. They were married on the mutual
understanding that each should pursue their respective professions.
Shortly afterwards Birnier was offered a special mission to go to Africa
for the purpose of studying the customs and superstitions of the natives.
Lucille had consented, forbidden, relented, and laughed.

So Lucille sang from musical height to height and her husband sped from
depth to depth in the seas of human fatuity. Whenever he took a furlough
he went, of course, straight to her, wheresoever she was, in Berlin, New
York, or Paris. To Birnier the situation was ideal. He had never dreamed
of any other woman. Indeed the tracts of his mind were so filled with
statistics of anthropology and Lucille that there was little or no room
for any one else. The delight and satisfaction in Birnier’s mind were so
sincere that he never had dreamed of questioning whether Lucille’s point
of view had remained the same. But now?

That “à toi” stung and baited him into the unprecedented realisation that
after all women had been known to change their opinions. Perhaps pride had
prevented her from ever openly demanding other ways. Lucille was young and
beautiful, courted and flattered on every hand. Perhaps he had been wrong
to leave her for years at a stretch. Of her loyalty he had had no doubt,
but for the first time in his marital life the professor’s profound
knowledge of human nature was shot like a spot-light on to his own
affairs. Yet his erudition did not in the least relieve him from the laws
of emotional reaction.

Perhaps in an emotional moment.… That knowledge of the frailties of genus
homo was too deep for comfort in such actuation.

“À toi, Lucille! À toi, Lucille!” rang and echoed as he paced that room,
striving for control.… And—and—why else should zu Pfeiffer have gone
crazy?—why had he exclaimed: “Das ist der Schweinhünd”? The husband, of
course, whom he wanted out of the way, and he had immediately seized the
opportunity to secure that end, seemingly indifferent to
consequences—symptomatic of the state of “being in love.”

Around and about, about and around a field of weeds which had sprung from
that seed “à toi,” had paced the professor all night. When the green was
creeping through the high barred window, Sergeant Schneider had brought to
him some coffee and biscuits. Birnier had drunk the coffee thirstily, and
as the sergeant had no English nor French, had tried in broken German to
extract some information. But the sergeant had merely grunted and retired.
At seven he had returned again and escorted Birnier to the Court House. He
returned from the mock trial a little more in touch with reality, and more
impressed with the malignity of zu Pfeiffer. Yet the gratuitous insults,
the laboured farce of the registering of an alleged Swiss trader, Birnier
saw through, and was relieved, for it argued that zu Pfeiffer’s intention
was to make Lucille a widow. No other reason could account for the
homicidal intentions displayed.

At the glow of dawn next day he was aroused by the big corporal who
ordered him out. The tone of the man’s voice naturally stimulated a
violent reaction. But Birnier realised that his sole chance lay in
controlling himself to accept stoically whatever treatment was offered;
for he saw instantly that any protest or indignation would be interpreted
as insubordination and possibly be made an excuse to shoot him down.

Outside in the grey light he saw under the guard of six native soldiers,
the five others of his party. Mungongo, his personal “boy,” cried out at
the sight of him, asking what was the meaning of these strange happenings.
Before Birnier could reply, the big corporal struck the man savagely with
a kiboko, bidding him to be silent. In spite of his resolution, the
reaction made Birnier turn angrily upon the soldier, who deliberately
repeated the order, and struck the white man across the face. As Birnier
raised his fist the man lowered his bayonet and grinned, adding,
apparently for the benefit of his men, that now the white would learn what
it was to be a slave.

Furiously Birnier looked around for Sergeant Schneider: but no white man
was in sight.… He turned to Mungongo and said quickly: “Take no heed. Do
as they bid thee for the moment.”

“Be silent!” shouted the corporal, but as he raised his kiboko, Birnier
looked him quietly straight in the eyes. The black hand was lowered; the
man turned away, ordering the party in general to march.

Dishevelled and without any camp equipment, Birnier began to march as the
blood of the sky paled to orange. At the bottom of the great parade ground
he turned in time to see the relieving guard falling in behind the Court
House. For one moment he hesitated whether to put all to the test by
refusing to go; but a significant gesture with the ever ready rifle of the
corporal signified that he would not be given a chance. Humiliated, he
obeyed. But just beyond the last hut, waiting by the path, was a group of
women loaded with the soldiers’ gear; and beside them were some carriers
bearing his green tent and apparently all his equipment. The sight cheered
him a little. He attempted to find immediate consolation in the idea that
the savagery of the corporal might possibly abate when they were away from
the neighbourhood of the inciting agent, whom he was sure was zu Pfeiffer.

Leading the caravan was a soldier; next to him came Birnier and behind him
was another soldier, after whom walked Mungongo and the four other
prisoners, with a soldier between each; and then the corporal, strutting
portentously important within easy shooting distance of the white man. The
carriers and women brought up the rear.

The path led for some miles through the dreary swamp following the course
of the small bayou, crossing and recrossing small streams swollen with the
rains, through which the white man was forced to wade to his hips. For the
first mile Birnier was so angry and humiliated that he dared not catch the
troubled eyes of Mungongo. But by force of will he attained a reasonable
plane of philosophic resignation, temporary at least, and smiled at the
boy, who grinned back like a tickled child. At any rate, soliloquised
Birnier, he had at least one man upon whom he could rely.

At the head of the bayou they reached higher ground and the path zigzagged
through dense jungle thick with fan palms. The longer Birnier pondered
upon the situation the nearer he came towards the conclusion that he had
better make his escape as soon as possible, or he would never have the
chance. Rather by the uneasy glances of Mungongo, who dared not speak, did
he guess that they had left the regular trail to the coast. What their
destination was he could not imagine. Probably, he thought grimly, to make
an end of the whole party and return to the camp. Yet why trouble to
travel so far? And another good reason to hasten an escape was that,
although for the moment he was in good health, a few days of exposure
would subject him to fever and consequent weakness.

Now and again the theme “à toi” would return like the refrain of a song to
which he found himself keeping step; but the words sometimes became
meaningless; for in the merciful way that nature has, the impulse of
self-preservation so occupied his mind that he had scarcely leisure to
worry over marital troubles.

At the end of about two hours, when the heat of the sun was beginning to
be felt severely, the corporal called a halt in the shade of a great
baobab. Birnier sat down with his back against the bole. Alongside him
squatted the corporal deliberately and called to the women for a gourd of
juwala. There is a certain acid odour which native beer has that is
particularly irritating to a dry palate. The corporal drank deep, sighed
with satisfaction and set the gourd beside him almost touching the feet of
the white. Involuntarily Birnier swallowed. The corporal saw and grinned.
Birnier understood and turned his back to the man. Immediately the
corporal arose and lowering his bayonet until it pricked the sleeve of
Birnier’s coat, ordered him to get up. In the knowledge that he would be
instantly shot by the others if he attempted to resist, he had perforce to
obey.

Outside the shade of the great tree, in the full glare of the sun, was the
white man compelled to sit while the black corporal, with the rifle ready
across his knee, drank deep and handed the gourd to his fellows. Again
Birnier turned his back to him. But he began to realise faintly what
treatment he would receive before the end came and an intimate knowledge
of native ingenuity made him feel physically sick.

Half an hour later they were on the march again. The path became rugged
and difficult, passing through thorny ground, following burbling
watercourses of rough stones. To make the going more trying Birnier wore
light moccasins intended for camp use instead of his high field boots.
Once when a long thorn penetrated the flank of his shoe he stopped to
extract it. The corporal shouted at him; the soldier behind called him
unmentionable names in the dialect and pushed him with his foot. The
insult and the heat of the sun maddened him. He leaped to his feet. The
corporal raised his gun promptly and jeered. For a moment Birnier stood
trembling with passion; then he closed his eyes as if to shut out sight
and sound and limped forward, fighting with himself.

With natives had Birnier always been able to negotiate, to live, and to
quarrel when necessary, on terms of amity; but this black “swine,” as he
termed him in his wrath, prinked out in a masquerade of a white man’s
clothes.… He jammed his heel down savagely upon the thorn to divert the
southern passion. After all it was not the man’s fault but zu Pfeiffer’s.
Put a white man in a uniform and he becomes a beast; put a nigger in a
uniform and he becomes a devil, Birnier forced himself to reflect.

The sun grew incandescent. The heat and the flies quickened his thirst. He
plodded on, stumbling over the stones, sagging heavily in sandy patches.
They had left the comparative shelter of the jungle and were crossing a
flat plain approaching, he judged, to a river bed. The carriers, he noted,
had lagged behind. Soon they must halt. Even the fiend of a corporal would
not fatigue himself too much for the sake of tormenting a white man.

Then a new idea was added to the plagues. He had tasted nothing save the
coffee, canned beef, and native bread which had been given him for dinner
on the previous evening. The corporal had manifested his conception of
humour by refusing him beer and water on the march; was he going to
torment him by starvation as well as by thirst? And if torture were
reserved for him by that grinning black brute, then he knew what would be
the end that awaited him.

Within an hour they came to a river about forty yards broad, a swollen
rushing torrent. There was no village as he had expected. The corporal
halted. Birnier slid down the bank and thrust his muzzle into the flood.
There was torture in the restraint not to drink too much. He clambered up
the slope to find the corporal grinning at him. He turned his back and lay
down. There was no shade; only short scrub and grass. Small sand flies
buzzed and stung. He heard the gurgle of the corporal’s military
water-bottle. But this time the sting was extracted; his belly was moist.

Birnier stretched out, shielding from the glare the little that he could
with his hands. Faint echoes of “à toi” strolled across his field of
consciousness. He observed the apparently stoical indifference of Mungongo
squatted a few feet from him, a soldier sprawling between them; but he
cursed because investigations had taught him that that “stoical” should
usually be read as “bovinity,” as he had termed it; and he smiled dismally
at the ancient story that so well illustrated the point, of the peasant
who expressed his occupation through the long winter hours as “sometimes
we sits and thinks but mostly we just sits.”

Mungongo “just sits,” he repeated, and envied him. Yet in that heat and
hunger, waiting for his savage captor to wreak some new fancy upon him, so
saturated with philosophic interest in life was Birnier, that he wandered
off into a meditation upon the mechanical fatuity of human conduct;
illustrating his reflections by his own actions when stirred by emotion.
“The loaded gun may be as wise as Solomon was reputed to be,” he remarked
beneath his hands, “but all the same when some one pulls the trigger the
damn thing goes off,” and sat up to confront the muzzle of the corporal’s
rifle, who was ordering him to get up. Birnier rose. But to the savage’s
amazement, he smiled.

The corporal backed away.

“Ah, my friend,” remarked Birnier blandly in English. “You’ve lost, for I
have found that which was lost!”

The corporal scowled and bade him to follow. Birnier obeyed but he felt
that he was obliging the man. The carriers had arrived and the green tent
was pitched, invitingly cool against the grey flood of the river. He
followed the corporal gladly, but at ten feet from his tent, beside a
thorn bush four feet tall which spread in a fan shape, he was bidden to
sit. For the moment, newly arrived from his philosophic dreams, he did not
comprehend.

“But that is my tent!” he said in Kiswahili.

“Sit down!” commanded the corporal, grinning. “The white seller of slaves
sits in the place of the slave, but his owner dwells in the place of the
blessed.”

“O God!” remarked Birnier as he bumped his head against black reality.



                                CHAPTER 8


Bakuma sat in the shade of the reed fence preparing the evening meal of
boiled bananas. From her slender neck swung the precious amulet at which,
as if to reassure herself of its safety, she clutched occasionally. Her
half-sister, who had not yet passed through the initiation at maturity,
sprawled upon her belly in the dwindling rays of the sun, scratching her
woolly head. Beyond her were two slaves tending a fire beneath two large
calabashes, preparatory to the brewing of banana beer, which had of course
to be done by the chief widow, Bakuma’s half-sister’s mother.

The mind of Bakuma was occupied by percepts of the charms of Zalu Zako;
particularly as memorised on that afternoon by the river when the effect
of the love charm had begun to work. These memories, as sweet as they
would have been to any maid, were shot with gay colours by the words of
the wizard; for he had assured her that with the toe-nail and hair to work
magic upon, Zalu Zako would be bewitched by her charms for all time. And
she had obtained them! She could have gotten the goat, not a skinny goat
as described under the inhibiting influence of a wild hope that the wizard
would relent. Her cousin, smarting under the reproaches of her husband,
had such a goat, fat as goats in Wongolo go, and she was eager to exchange
it or anything for an infallible charm against sterility. Bakuma feared to
part with the charm, yet the matter was pressing; immediately she was the
wife of Zalu Zako she would be in a position to purchase all the charms in
the village.

But difficult to obtain as they were, for as everybody knows no man leaves
portions of himself around that may fall into the hands of an enemy to
work magic upon, least of all a rich man, “half divine,” she had obtained
some nail parings and one hair. With that charm against sterility, the
only thing of value Bakuma possessed, had she bribed a concubine of Zalu
Zako’s household to steal the ingredients required from the hut thatch
where they had been hidden after the official shaving and paring following
the ceremony of his father, pending their removal to the sacred precincts
of the temple.

Above her passion for Zalu Zako was her natural feminine appreciation of a
good match. The Son of the Snake was far better from a woman’s point of
view than union with a successful wizard. In the event of the death of the
King-God, Kawa Kendi, the wives of his son and successor, although denied
to him, were accorded special privileges; and upon his demise these royal
wives retained their home upon the hill which had become his tomb.
Moreover, as Bakuma knew well, now that Zalu Zako was heir-apparent, he
must choose the principal wife who would for her life remain paramount in
the household, avoiding the dread of every ageing woman that her husband
would take unto him another wife younger and more supple.

The one mosquito in paradise was the fear that as soon as her uncle, her
father’s brother to whom she belonged by inheritance, learned the august
personage who desired her, he would raise the price to a prohibitive
figure; for he was mean as well as stupid and lazy, wherefore he had few
goods, and although Zalu Zako was a rich man she knew that any man save a
fool loves to drive a good bargain if only to prove his astuteness.
Therefore was another imperative necessity to procure every means of magic
and charm to fan the flame of her lover’s desires.

Yet always flashed a bright-hued lizard in the sun of her joy when she
imagined herself installed as the chief wife in the household of Zalu
Zako, an unassailable position as long as she had one male child; the
practical mistress of his first two wives as well as the retinue of
slaves.

Bazila, the younger wife, Bakuma knew well; the favourite and haughty,
covered with the most expensive amulets against every ill and black magic,
she was overfond of sneering at young girls of the hut thatch whose charms
had not yet netted a victim.

“Ehh!” gasped Bakuma and flashed her teeth as she rolled the warm leaves
around the sticky mess, “then will the scent of my body be more bitter
than the flower of the fish-faced cactus!”

And so through the night did Bakuma nibble at anticipatory joys as she lay
upon her reed mat on the slightly raised dais of the floor which was her
bed, watching the smoke of the fire in the middle of the hut lose itself
in the shadows of the roof, and listening in the hope of hearing some
voice of the spirits whom Marufa was to invoke on her behalf. Save for the
occasional bleating of a goat and once the harsh scream of the Baroto
bird, which made her heart contract, for it is a bad omen, the night was
still. However, at the hour of the monkey Bakuma arose to replenish the
fire. As the western star was melting in the warm green she left the
compound. On the outskirts of the village the tall figure of MYalu
appeared from the shadows of the plantation.

“Greeting, daughter of Bakala,” said he, his eyes greedily devouring her.

“Greeting, O Chief!” returned Bakuma, as she politely stepped to one side
to avoid standing on the vague shadow of the chief.

“The fawn seeks the pastures early,” remarked MYalu.

“Before the breath of the sun the grass is sweeter,” retorted Bakuma,
edging away.

“Aye,” remarked MYalu, with a hungry glint in his eyes, “thou art eager to
slake thy thirst? But in the valley will no buck walk this day!”

“Ehh!” gasped Bakuma, recollecting instantly the omen of the Baroto bird
heard that night. “What meanest thou?”

“Maybe the soul of him hath wandered and been caught in a trap or maybe——”
He paused to watch her closely—“maybe an enemy hath made magic upon the
parts of him.”

“Ehh!” Bakuma started nervously.

MYalu smiled and touched her upon the shoulder.

“Thy flesh is cooler than the dew.”

“Nay, nay, O Chief, thou hast not tied my girdle,” she protested, as she
backed away from him, her eyes wide like a terrified deer’s.

“Nay, but will I untie it soon,” he retorted.

But as he stepped towards her she turned and fled. As MYalu watched her
running as swiftly as a pookoo into the plantation he grinned and called
out: “Even now is the cooling draught steaming in the breath of the
Unmentionable One! But the goblet shall hold a sweeter draught for me!”

“Aie! Aie-e!” wailed Bakuma, her heart beating furiously, “what devil hath
bewitched me! O, that father of many goats hath betrayed me! Aie! Aie-e!
O, the cry of the Baroto bird! Aie! Aie-e!”

And when Bakuma, distraught with terror by the menace that she had only
procured the nail paring and hair to give her lover into the hands of the
false magician who, of course, had been bought by MYalu, arrived at the
“pastures” by the river, as MYalu had foretold, no buck walked there.

The sun spilled blue shadows on the village from the sacred hill where
another scene was being enacted, and it was not as imagined by the amorous
MYalu.

In the council house, which was within the outer fence and before the
sacred enclosure, was in progress a meeting of the doctors. In the door of
the enclosure squatted Kawa Kendi, with Kingata Mata in attendance tending
the royal fires. Before him, in front of their fellows, were seated
Bakahenzie and Marufa in full dress of green feathers and the scarlet
plume. The left side of the idol, which was so set that the shadow never
fell upon the entrance to the compound, was gilded by the sun; the mouth
grinned in one corner, one eye was closed in shadow, seemingly like a
prodigious wink.

To the thrumming of the sacred band Bakahenzie was rocking himself to and
fro mumbling incantations. Kawa Kendi squatted immobile, but the others
swayed and grunted softly in rhythm. Then on a sudden did Bakahenzie lift
up his head and cry in a great voice. The drums ceased and the body of
witch-doctors remained motionless, expectant. Bakahenzie dropped his head
and began to chant:

  “Behold! I have heard the voice of the trees
  Crying softly by night!
  Lo! the soul of the plant is in labour!
  As a woman with child!
  Behold! is she not to break forth?
  For she crieth for aid.
  Unless she be heard the infant will slip!
  The fruit will not be!
  The plants will not break!
  The milk will be sour!
  The beer will be green!
  Women will not bear!
  Our spears will be blunt!
  Our magic will wane!
  And He will be wroth!”

“Eh! Ah! … Eh! Ah! … Eh! Ah! … Eh! Ah! … Eh! Ah! …”
grunted the chorus of the doctors. Then chanted Marufa:

  “Lo! I have slept and been that which I must!
  Preying swiftly by night!
  Behold! I have bloodied my fangs in the throat
  Of a mighty bull eland!
  Blood succoured the earth and upsprang a plant!
  Which panted for blood!
  The sap of the plant is the soul of the tree!
  Take heed to the thirst
  Of Him who first was!
  Who lusts for a maid!
  Full breasted, soft thighed!
  Supple, bow arched!
  Clean blooded and strong!
  Whose name is forbid!
  Whose name is a sin!”

“Who hath stolen the name?” screamed Bakahenzie, leaping to his feet. “Who
is she that hath stolen the name?”

“Eh! Ahh! … Eh! Ahh! … Eh! Ahh! … Eh! Ahh! … Eh! Ahh! …”

As the drums throbbed swifter Bakahenzie began to shuffle in a stooping
posture as if he were snuffing a trail. To the continuous grunting he
continued this dance for fully a quarter of an hour. Then stopping
abruptly in front of the king he screamed:

  “Let her be bidden
  To come to the feast!
  Let her be oiled!
  Let her be shaved!
  Let her come dancing!
  Let her be joyful!
  Let her be decked!
  Let her be glad!
  Lips of the groom
  Thirst for her mouth!
  Let her be drunken
  To bear his sweet weight!
  That the crops will be full!
  That the cattle grow fat
  Wives will throw men!
  Spears will slice foes!”

He sank suddenly upon his haunches. The drums ceased. A slave appeared
bearing a pure white kid. Kingata Mata took the animal and held it before
Kawa Kendi, who muttered a long incantation over it and cut the throat
with a spear head. Then to Marufa was the bleeding carcass carried and
while still alive he slit open the belly, smeared the liquid over his
chest and right arm, and tore out the guts. The corpse was removed.
Marufa, working only with the enchanted arm, turned the entrails over and
about, peering closely.

There was silence. The shadows grew in depth. From the village came an
occasional bleat and the voice of a distant girl chanting.

After a prolonged and studious search, Marufa caught up and wrapt round
his neck an intestine. As he rose, the group of witch-doctors broke out
into a mighty groaning. Marufa speeded across the small clearing and
kneeled before Kawa Kendi. Through the bloody necklet he whispered two
syllables: “kuma.”

The groaning ceased as suddenly as it had commenced. Kawa Kendi cried out
in a loud voice:

“The bride is found!”

Instantly the drums began a furious beat. A mighty shout rose from all
assembled and they fell to the chest and belly grunting: “Eh! Ahh! … Eh!
Ahh! …” as Bakahenzie and Marufa began to dance the dance of thanksgiving.

Ba_kuma_ had been doomed to be the victim for the Feast of the Harvest
Festival, to be sacrificed in the orgy as the Bride of the Spirit of the
Banana, because Marufa had discovered by divination that two syllables of
her name were those of the secret name which only the King-God knew, of
the Unmentionable One, the Usa_kuma_.



                                CHAPTER 9


Before the green tent strutted a sentry as pompously as if he were on duty
before the Kommandant’s bungalow. Inside, sprawling in a camp chair, was
the corporal, in blue striped pyjamas, smoking a cigarette. Upon the floor
crouched one of his women with a safety razor stuck in her woolly thatch,
opening a can of beef. On the camp table were a bottle of brandy which had
had its neck knocked off, a shaving mirror and an open tin of cigarettes.
Squatting on the bed was another woman in field boots, cleaning up a can
of salmon with one finger. The rest of the tent was a litter of broken
cases, bottles, cans and papers.

Ten yards away under the thorn shrub, lay Birnier, and near to him were
Mungongo and the others. Mungongo’s regard shuttled between this scene in
the tent and the white man with a mingled expression of terror and
amazement: terror at the temerity of the corporal in treating a white in
such a manner and incredulous bewilderment that the white did not
immediately strike them all dead. But the others, more sophisticated to
the white man’s ways, were solely occupied in envying the corporal’s
debauch.

The mauve shadows turned to blue as they lengthened. The clouds of small
flies thinned and their ranks began to be refilled by the mosquitoes.
Birnier lay with his back to the tent with a fly switch of grass, but he
watched the doings of the corporal covertly. The corporal and his women
had been drinking a good deal of the brandy and now he was supplying
generous quantities to his men. Once he had come out to jeer. Birnier had
taken no notice, nor even of the kick implanted by one of his own field
boots on the foot of the woman. Already there was a bloodshot glint in the
corporal’s yellow eyes and a pronounced uncertainty in his movements.
Whether the man had had any particular instructions regarding the manner
of his death Birnier did not know until he became loquacious and took to
shouting insults at his white prisoner. The great white chief had given
the white man to him as a slave, he yelled, and now he was going to take
him home with him. This idea seemed to tickle him vastly and also his
women, who giggled and applauded as the corporal began to describe what
obscene acts they would make their white dog perform every day, what they
would give him to eat, how he should be made to dance.

They grew noisier and the women began to sing lewd songs. The soldiers too
revealed signs of their frequent potations. Soon the whole crowd would go
mad, Birnier knew, and sooner or later collapse, which would give him a
chance to escape, unless they chained him, or, what was far more probable,
they decided to bait him to death during an orgy. What they would probably
do to him was unthinkable. Somehow he must find a way out by
self-destruction. Even should he escape, he would be unarmed and without
food, and there was every possibility that they would trail and overtake
him in the morning. He was lame and footsore; also he was weak from want
of food. Once, when despoiling his chop boxes, the corporal had
contemptuously thrown him a half eaten tin of sardines and a cigarette. He
let the cigarette lie. Nourishment he must have; and so after an inward
struggle he had eaten it, having to claw out the fish like a monkey, while
the big black and his women sprawled and laughed.

The soldiers, except the one on sentry who still paced a trifle
erratically, were grouped on their haunches around the fire in front of
the tent on the threshold of which the corporal presided with as much
pomposity as if he were the great Mogul, all drinking and smoking and
eating. Now and again the women would screech insults over their heads at
the white; and once the corporal threw an empty bottle at him, evoking a
gale of applause. The women began the belly dance, crooning while the men
accompanied with the rhythmic grunt, which ever leads to hysterical
exaltation.

The sun was dipping. They might come for him at any moment. He watched the
sentry and contemplated making a rush, taking a venture on the man’s bad
aim and unsteady hand. They would not follow him far in the dark for dread
of the spirits that walk by night. The only alternative to suicide was the
river, in flood and full of crocodiles, a slender chance. He determined to
try it. He considered making the attempt then. But the darker the better;
they would more easily miss. At any risk he must never let them get their
hands upon him. He drew himself together, flexing his limbs for a leap and
a rush, anxiously observing the chanting crowd around the fire in the
sunset glow.

The leashes of discipline were fraying. The sentry still plodded up and
down, but with a rolling eye for his companions. The working of his mind
was revealed when he walked round tying knots in the long grass which, as
every Munyamwezi knows, is a sure method to prevent a prisoner’s escape;
then he halted in front of Birnier, grinned, and pointed to the fire;
evidently he knew or had heard that an orgy was coming. The man stood and
watched him. Fearful that the fellow was about to drag him over or suggest
that the victim be seized, if only in order to release him from his
irksome duty, Birnier snatched up the cigarette lying in the grass and
asked for a light to distract the man’s attention. The sentry shook his
head and pointed to the fire. Hastily Birnier searched his pockets for a
match; recollected that he had used the last, and took out a small tin box
of wax vestas wrapped in oiled silk which he kept as a reserve in a
special pouch of his belt. In the very act of striking the match Birnier
ejaculated: “God!”

“Nini?” demanded the sentry.

“I burned myself,” returned Birnier.

“Nothing to what you will soon!” retorted the nigger, grinning, made an
obscene suggestion and swaggered across to the fire.

Birnier cursed his own stupidity as he thought swiftly. If Mungongo and
the others ran at the same time the numbers would confuse the soldiers the
more. He spoke across to Mungongo in the Wongolo dialect, hoping that the
Munyamwezi would not understand.

“Let thy heart be like unto the bullet of my big gun, and obey me! When I
throw up in the air this cigarette, thou shalt run and plunge into the
river, but not into the depth; lie hidden in the reeds of the bank until
thou shalt hear a frog croak thrice and then once. Come out and go to the
frog, and be not afraid, for thou shalt see me in the spirit form. Dost
understand?”

“Truly, my master!”

“Tell the washenzie that they also obey or shall my spirit eat them up as
it shall these children of dung!”

“Truly, master!”

Birnier glanced at the horizon. The shadows had melted into the violet
twilight, which in equatorial Africa is almost as short as the snuffing of
a candle. The stars were popping out. Dusky forms were circling round the
yellow of the fire which threw pale flickers on the figure of Corporal
Inyira, revealing the beginning of the hysterical gleam in the yellows of
his eyes as, reverting to habit, he squatted on his haunches in the chair.
They might make a rush for the victims at any moment. The sentry,
excitement overcoming discipline, was, rifle still in hand, dancing round
the outskirts of the throng.

Birnier threw the cigarette towards Mungongo. As he dived round the thorn
bush he heard the rustle of movement and the “boy’s” gasped exclamation to
the others. The bank of the river was not fifteen yards away. On the brink
Birnier crouched and listened. He heard a splash a little to the right,
which was Mungongo or one of the others literally obeying his
instructions.

The mosquitoes buzzed and stung in clouds. A cricket shrilled persistently
above the chorus of the frogs and the throb of the hand-drum and the
chanting. The sentry had not yet discovered the flight; he was probably
drunker than Birnier had guessed. By raising himself on his hands he could
see the gleam of the fire and the inverted V of the tent through the
scrub. He hesitated whether to begin operations immediately or wait until
after they had discovered the flight and were further intoxicated. Yet the
excitement of the loss of the prisoner might sober them a little, Birnier
reflected. No, it did not matter even if they were completely sober. The
spirits of the night would be perhaps more real to them then than when
they were drugged by alcohol. Yet he would wait. They might come as far as
the river with lanterns and should he be compelled to take to the water he
would have to take the risk of crocodiles seizing him. Almost had he begun
to curse the askaris for being so slow, when a rifle cracked and a bullet
hummed over his head.

He scrambled hastily down the bank, thinking for a moment that he had been
spotted. But it must have been a random shot. The chanting ceased. A
hoarse shout from the sentry was echoed by uproar from the others.

Birnier crawled up the bank cautiously and peered. He could not see well,
for one eye was nearly closed by mosquito bites, but he could make out
vague forms passing and repassing across the glow of the fire. Lights
glimmered. Amid shouts and yells, figures began to advance towards the
river. Whether the water was deep or shallow he could not know; only could
he make out in the sheen of the stars a dark patch of reed or bushes for
some yards. He slid down the slope as noiselessly as possible, although
the pursuers were making noise enough to scare all the spirits in Africa.
He sank to his chest, standing on stones. He waded out a little, buried
his head and shoulders behind a half-submerged bush, and remained still.

For some time he could only hear the shouts and yells. He kept the water
up to his chin and continuously splashed his face in the endeavour to
slacken the efforts of the mosquitoes. The cries approached. He saw men
outlined against the stars and then some gleams of lanterns. Something
stirred ponderously near to him. It might be a crocodile, but he dared not
move. The figures seemed to stay on the top of the bank for hours. He
remained rigid, expecting a swirl of water and teeth.

Suddenly a spurt of flame shot out above him and was followed by a
fusillade of shots in the direction of up river. Had they spotted Mungongo
or were they merely letting drive at a bush or the spirits in general? The
latter was most probable. The water swirled near to him. All his will
power was required not to leap frantically for the bank. Yet a crocodile
would be far more merciful than those black devils. Again a swirl and
something passed close to him at high speed. Probably an otter scared by
the firing; at any rate it was not a crocodile. The lights and figures on
the bank disappeared.

Shots rang out again, and were followed by a wild outburst of yelling.
Birnier began to wade for the bank, continually splashing water at the
mosquitoes which were so thick that they reminded him of the bayou
Lafourche in far-off Louisiana. Crouching, he waited on the edge of the
bank to listen. The corporal might have had enough sense to post men in
the grass. Yet he might be too fuddled to think of that, and no native
would willingly stay there in the dark, unless under white discipline.
Voices still muttered, but they sounded as if from the camp. Had they
given him up for the night, relying on the chance that if he had not been
taken by a crocodile they could trail him in the morning? Probably.

Birnier squatted in the water, ready to plunge back, until he was sure
they were in camp. Then as cautiously he crawled up the bank. Through the
scrub with his uninjured eye he could make out the figures around the
yellow of the fire which had gone down considerably. Now what would they
do? He could hear the mumble of the corporal’s voice. Would they be
sufficiently sobered to be ready for the chase in the morning? Birnier did
not think so with that case of brandy there; the corporal would not, at
all events. There was a scream of pain and the chatter of women’s voices.

Was the corporal punishing the sentry for having let the prisoners escape,
or were they beginning to fight among themselves? The latter was
improbable, as non-commissioned officers are usually chosen from petty
chiefs and the men under them, as far as possible, from their own village.
Had they captured Mungongo or one of the others? Birnier listened again.
Another scream was stoppered to a groan.

“Devils!” muttered Birnier. Lying flat to watch the grass and shrub tops
against the stars, he gave the frog croaks arranged, at intervals of ten
seconds. About five minutes later he saw some grass tops quiver
unnaturally. He croaked again. Came a whisper:

“Is it thee, Infunyana?” (a name given in reference to Birnier’s gold
fillings).

“Aye.” A dark form glided towards him. “Where are the other men?”

“I know not. I told them as thou hadst told me to do. When thou didst give
the sign, I fled and plunged into the river.”

“Thou wast not frightened of the crocodiles?”

“Nay; for I have a mighty charm against all river beasts, enchanted by
Bakahenzie, the greatest of magicians.”

“Ehh!” commented Birnier, contorting his swollen lips in the dark, “would
that I had such an one! Thinkest thou that the men did as they were
bidden?”

“Who knows what is in the heart of a goat?” returned Mungongo
contemptuously, for they were of another tribe.

“Ah, listen!”

The mutter of the hand-drum grew swifter as a high tenor chanted to the
accompaniment of the abdominal grunting and the laryngeal shrilling:

 “We have come from afar from the Place of the waters!
 From the place where dwells the mighty Eater-of-Men!
 Hard was the road as the hills of Kilimanjaro!
 Hot was the sun as the wrath of Inyira the bold!
                The son of Banyala!
                Ough! … Ough!
                E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h!

 But strong are we still as the trunk of an elephant!
 For have we not walked in the shade of a great chief!
 Blacker and fiercer than the male rhinoceros!
 Swifter and more terrible than the mother of whelps?
                The son of Banyala!
                Ough! … Ough!
                E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h!

 What hath he given us to tickle our spears?
 A dainty white dog whose meat is so tender!
 Fattened and groomed by the Eater-of-Men!
 A gift from the great Chief to his ally and friend.
                The son of Banyala!
                Ough! … Ough!
                E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h!

 We will tickle his white flesh with the tongue of our spears!
 Our women shall pluck out his hair and his manhood!
 He shall dance to our liking in the midst of the fire!
 His girl screams for mercy shall lave hungry ears of ——!
                The son of Banyala!
                Ough! … Ough!
                E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h!

 Great was the gift of the great Eater-of-Men!
 A white slave so sleek to dance the dance of the ants!
 Eh! We’ll slit up his nostrils and pull out his hairs!
 A white slave and four black ones to wait on one great chief!
                The son of Banyala!
                Ough! … Ough!
                E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h!

“Those children of folly have not obeyed,” whispered Birnier. “The time is
come.… Wait here for me, O Mungongo. I go to take my spirit form. When I
return be not afraid!”

“Truly,” answered Mungongo, as Birnier crawled away and down the bank. By
the water’s edge he swiftly stripped himself to his moccasins and taking
out the wax vestas, damped each precious one and carefully rubbed lines
over his face and body, endeavouring to get the most distinctive
phosphorescent effect around the eyes. Leaving his clothes he crawled back
to Mungongo.

“Ehh!” exclaimed Mungongo in a muffled scream when he saw the glowing
apparition. Birnier heard the rustle of grass. As the boy stood up to run
he leaped and pulled him down savagely.

“Be quiet, thou fool!” he whispered. “It is I. Be silent!”

“Eh! Eh!” gasped Mungongo, who was trembling violently.

“If thou dost not be quiet will I tie up thy heart,” threatened Birnier.

Mungongo continued to quiver, but he remained passive.

“Eh! Eh!” he gasped, “truly thou art a more mighty magician than
Bakahenzie.”

“Be quiet!”

The drums and the song were still going and the chant had become more
obscene.

“Follow me!” whispered Birnier, when Mungongo was more reassured.

They made a detour. As they drew near they could hear muffled screams and
groans beneath the howl of the chorus and song. The mighty son of Banyala
and his merry men were so engrossed in the orgy that Birnier could have
walked right up to the fire before anyone would have seen him. But he
would not take any unnecessary risk. Leaving Mungongo outside he crawled
under the back flap of the tent. Crouched there he paused. The tent was
empty; for all were engaged in the dance. His two shot-guns and two light
rifles were stacked in the corner and the big express which the corporal
had appropriated, leaned against the tent door behind the chair. He
glanced hurriedly around for ammunition, but he could not see any open,
and he had left his belt of cartridges with his clothes. Outside the men
and women were circling in contrary directions, each with a spear, a knife
or a firebrand in hand, around the fire beside which, trussed like bundles
of faggots, were the four servants, their feet singeing on the outside hot
ashes.

For a second Birnier hesitated. He could not know whether any of the guns
was loaded. The fire was of glowing embers which did not throw much light
into the tent. Swiftly Birnier rose and glided into his own chair in the
deep shadow of the tent flap. Then summoning all his nerve he uttered a
yell and began to shout the first song which he could recollect:

  “Hurrah! Hurrahhhhhhh! It is the Jubileeeee!
  Hurrah! Hurrah! the flag that set you free!”

The native minstrel stopped in the middle of his chant; the whole
shuffling, grunting crowd was petrified in as many different poses.
Birnier leaped to his feet waving his arms wildly, yelling:

  “Thus we sang the chor-uss from Atlanta to the Sea-aa!
  As we …”

But before he had gotten to “Georgia,” only the prostrate forms around the
fire had not fled.



                                CHAPTER 10


On the morning of Birnier’s departure there was much movement in Ingonya
station. Every sign of preparation for the expedition had been carefully
concealed while a stranger was in the vicinity. Trumpets blared
importantly. On the great parade ground companies were formed, long lines
of rigid, ebon figures, down which strolled zu Pfeiffer inspecting
personally kits and rifles. Afterwards they were drawn up before the
flag-pole. In an address zu Pfeiffer informed them that they served under
a greater Bwana than he, the greatest Bwana in the countries of the white
or the black, who was the son of Ngai (an uncertain term meaning “son of
God” or the “son of nobody”); that the flag they bore, the brother of the
big one upon the pole, was so powerful in magic that none could withstand
it, the Totem of the Bwana Mkubwa Kuba. No wives were allowed for black or
white, and he himself set them the example; for they were embarking on a
war expedition to take a country which they knew was full of ivory, cattle
and women.

The row upon row of eyes in black faces bulged, as from the mass came the
long grunt of assent and allegiance. The three white sergeants barked at
their various companies, which wheeled into column formation and marched
past zu Pfeiffer beneath the flag in review order, their alignment and
precision a credit to their drill masters. Down below the fort on the
mouth of the bayou Sergeant Ludwig superintended the overhauling of the
steam-launch, and a native sergeant and a file of men overseered lines of
carriers bearing white men’s provisions, the bulk of which was zu
Pfeiffer’s personal supplies. Around the launch was a flotilla of native
canoes in charge of a small crowd of nude Kavirondo paddlers, jabbering at
the prospect of a war expedition.

Most of the day zu Pfeiffer spent in the orderly room going over documents
and giving detailed instructions to the grizzled Sergeant Schneider, who
was to take over the station with fifty of the least competent men,
pending the arrival of an officer, which again would depend upon the
success of the expedition. In zu Pfeiffer’s manner was evident the
controlled excitement of a boy on the eve of a house match, and indeed for
him it was the game for which he was bred and lived, “das Kriegspiel.”
Perpetually his long fingers caressed the sentry moustaches; an unusual
glitter was in his blue eyes.

The personality of Birnier had been apparently wiped from his mind as a
spoor in the sand by rain; indeed in addition to the competing excitement
of the expedition, the previous night’s alcoholic and sentimental debauch
had served to exhaust the emotions stimulated by jealousy. To him had
appeared an obstruction in his emotional life in the shape of the husband
of the woman whom he adored; therefore, according to his nature and
training, he had endeavoured to remove that obstacle as swiftly and as
efficiently as possible. Superlative confidence in himself, reflected in
his pride of family and nationality, the apotheosis of which was the
Kaiser, enabled him to devote all his energies to the business in hand,
never doubting that his interpretation of native psychology would ensure
the extinction of his adversary.

Beyond the mere joy of the game of war was present the fundamental impulse
to win the approval of the All Highest by gaining another place in the sun
as well as the half-suppressed conviction that such a distinction would
naturally further his suit in love. In the orbit of these two poles
revolved the life actions of zu Pfeiffer.

That evening zu Pfeiffer dined as leisurely and as sumptuously as usual;
drank his port and smoked his cigar while his servants packed the last of
his kitchen battery. Then at the first green of the moon he gave the order
to march.

The three companies of askaris fell in, marched down to the bayou and
embarked without fuss or confusion, each group under a non-commissioned
officer to the appointed canoe.

The launch laboured busily out of the bayou past misty reed-girt islands
into the indolent waters of the great lake, dragging after her the fleet
of forty odd canoes. A cigar under the awning of the tiny poop suggested a
great firefly in the blue shadows, where lounged zu Pfeiffer with his
favourite brandy and seltzer at his elbow.

Resembling an enormous water-fowl leading a strange black brood, the
launch towed the flotilla through the night. A war chant pulsed like a
fevered heart as the moon upon her back lazily chased the stars into the
dawn upon her way to her home in the Mountains of the Moon, to be in turn
extinguished by a furious sun. And all that day, while incandescent heat
tried to boil illimitable waters, the strange fowl waddled on with her
noxious brood. Huddled in the cramped canoes the soldiers slept and
snuffed and sang, to which zu Pfeiffer contentedly listened beneath the
awning. Three times grey walls of falling water enveloped them, sending
frantic black hands to bailing. Once more the moon made the skies to
laugh. When the sun had played his part of a flaming Nemesis, a fringe
grew upon the horizon like the stubble upon a white man’s chin.

Zu Pfeiffer had calculated to arrive at the village of Timballa just
within the river at sundown. The headman came down to the strand to meet
them. Immediately he was seized, and the soldiers, as joyous and as
mischievous as children released from school, surrounded the village.

Sitting in full uniform upon the poop of the launch, together with the two
sergeants, zu Pfeiffer held a shauri and demanded sufficient paddlers to
man his forty canoes. The headman, to whom all white men were alike,
thought they were British and hastened to proffer his services, promising
that the Bwana should have the men within two days. Zu Pfeiffer curtly
ordered him to procure them before the sun was overhead on the next day;
and to insure that he was obeyed, detained him as hostage and forbade any
man to pass his line of pickets around the village. The old man protested
that they had not sufficient men in the village, but zu Pfeiffer’s spies
had afforded him practically correct information. He gave the headman the
right to send a number of messengers, each accompanied by a soldier, to
the neighbouring villages and promised him fifty lashes and to rase his
village, if the paddlers were not forthcoming.

Solely because he wished to give his men time to recover from their
stiffness did he not insist upon starting that night upon the river trip.
As a good commander he considered his men from every point of view of
efficiency. They loved him. He was a warrior chief as they understood such
to be; carefully he fostered their warrior pride; never were they ordered
to work at menial offices, to fetch or to carry; only to drill and to
fight; his punishments were ferocious, but he gave them liberty in pillage
and rape. Eh! but the Eater-of-Men was a mighty chief! and of his name
they boasted to every man.

With foresight he had demanded twice as many men as he needed, knowing
that the panic-stricken chief would round up the halt, the blind, and the
sick. By an hour after the stipulated time they were assembled in the
village, a motley crew. Those of the most powerful physique he selected to
man the soldiers’ canoes, and the next in competency he allotted to the
baggage canoes.

They started immediately. They made about two and a half miles an hour,
for although the river was swollen it was sluggish and slow streamed,
tortuous. Each canoe load of soldiers was made responsible for the
paddlers and the speed was set by zu Pfeiffer in a large canoe with
Sakamata as guide. Never had those paddlers driven canoes so speedily and
persistently. At sundown they halted in a convenient bend where there was
no village near; pickets were set on the bank and no other man allowed to
land, no lights and no talking. They were ordered to rest.

At the first glint of the moon they started again. The canoes were hauled
by the aid of the soldiers over the slight rapids which divided the river
into pools in the dry season. Throughout the night the misty forest and
swamp slipped by to the perpetual rhythm of the paddles. About the hour of
the monkey a hippopotamus charged the flotilla and upset two boats. Zu
Pfeiffer forbade any shooting, nor would he permit the expedition a
moment’s delay to pick up the occupants. Just as they heard the distant
crowing of cocks from the village for which they were bound, four paddlers
collapsed. The soldiers, acting on their own initiative, threw them
overboard to swim if they could, and took the paddles themselves.
Afterwards they were thrashed for disobedience to orders in having given a
possible chance for one of the men to escape to warn the Wongolo. At an
hour after sunrise they arrived at the village. The majority of the
paddlers were so exhausted that they dropped in the canoes and had to be
thrown ashore, where they lay inert, their backs, bloody with the urgent
bayonet pricks, caking in the sun.

Beyond this point the river was not navigable, but the village was upon
the Wongolo border and within two days or fifteen hours’ continuous march
of MFunya MPopo’s (as zu Pfeiffer knew it). Zu Pfeiffer adopted the same
tactics to procure porters. But to the chief, in case he should require
his services again, he gave an extravagant present and left bales of cloth
for the carriers upon their return. Zu Pfeiffer and Sergeant Ludwig
travelled in machilas (hammocks) each with a crew of six; the soldiers
carried nothing save their rifles, double cartridge belts, a day’s
rations; the pick of the carriers bore ammunition and the two Nordenfeldts
and two pom-poms slung upon poles, and the chop boxes; the men’s blankets
and the heavy stuff were to follow more slowly under Sergeant Schultz and
fifty men. The country between this village and MFunya MPopo’s was mostly
forest and very sparsely inhabited, which afforded some shade and
concealment, and lessened the risk of a warning being given.

The expedition started at noon. The carriers were kept on the native
shuffling lope by the aid of attentions from the askaris. Two unfortunate
small villages which lay on the line of march were surrounded and the
inhabitants massacred. Twenty porters collapsed; they were bayoneted to
prevent any chance of a successful ruse in escaping to give the alarm, and
their loads given to relay men brought for that purpose. The column halted
at sundown. The men ate their rations, but the carriers were too exhausted
to eat; they drank water and lay prostrate. According to Sakamata they
were within two hands’ breadth of the moon of Kawa Kendi’s.

In full uniform of white, girded with sword and revolver, zu Pfeiffer ate,
drank, and smoked cigars until the forest roof was patterned against the
cold pallor of the moon. Then, after giving final instructions to Sergeant
Ludwig and the various native non-commissioned officers, he ordered the
jabbering men to march, with the carriers staggering on at the point of
the bayonet.



                                CHAPTER 11


The doom pronounced by the Council of Witch-Doctors was to Bakuma and all
concerned as a Bull of Excommunication in mediæval Europe. MYalu was the
one who exhibited the most emotion. Had he not paid seven tusks of good
ivory to have the object of his passion placed under the most terrible
tabu? Against Marufa, who had seemingly betrayed him, was his anger
directed. But the rage of MYalu was tempered with fear. A man had not
merely to kill an enemy: he had also to appease his justly wrathful ghost;
and who knew what the disembodied spirit of the most powerful magician in
the land, save Bakahenzie, could do! Moreover, no other wizard would give
him absolution in the form of the magic of purification. A chief though he
be; he dared not slay a magician. He sought Marufa and found him as usual
squatting on his threshold contemplating infinity in a mud wall. He
saluted Marufa politely, choking back words of bitter recrimination, for
if he even offended him, the wizard might cast a spell upon him instantly.
Marufa returned the greeting as courteously as ever. When at length MYalu
reproachfully reminded him of the seven tusks which he had paid apparently
to secure his love’s terrible fate, Marufa replied uninterestedly:

“I have done that for which thou hast paid.”

“What man buyeth a bride for another?” retorted MYalu.

“When I did make magic upon ‘the things’ did I place in the power of the
spirits the owner. Behold, hath not the owner of ‘the things’ been
accursed?”

“Ehh!” gasped MYalu. “But how may that be? Didst thou not thyself take the
paring and the hair?”

“I bade the One who is tabu to bring them that he might be bewitched to
her girdle. She thought to deceive me by bringing that which was of
herself.”

“E—eh!” muttered MYalu, impressed at the awful effect of deceiving a
wizard. Marufa continued to stare. MYalu meditated ruefully.

“But the tusks,” murmured MYalu at length dismally.

“It is not I who have two tongues,” responded Marufa indifferently.

And with that MYalu had to rest content. Marufa indeed had no interest at
all in the passions of Zalu Zako, MYalu and Bakuma. Merely the time had
come for the witch-doctors to choose the victim for the Harvest Festival:
Bakuma was young and good looking, a dainty morsel that should please the
taste of the officiating doctors, and her owner and uncle was a man of no
importance: so accordingly he had made known the sin of her name through
the divination.

In the solitude of his own hut upon the hill Zalu Zako sat and pondered
sulkily. His young and fierce temper was stimulated and the seed of
rebellion against the domination of the priesthood was quickened by the
fate of his new love; although the masonic secrets of the craft were
denied to him, he, as son of the royal house, was suspicious of the powers
of the Unmentionable One and the priesthood, as many an one had been
before him; yet in spite of that the verdict was absolute, for he was too
crushed by terror of the consequences to permit of any hope of annulling
it.

The fiat not only doomed Bakuma to a terrible death at the third blooming
of the moon, but from that very instant the tabu came into force; for
being thus accursed by the possession of two sounds of the sacred name,
she was deemed unholy. Her half-sisters and their mother, with whom Bakuma
shared the hut, fled to another and were exorcised by the wizard, which,
as everybody knows, is an expensive ceremony; gourds and pots, spoons and
utensils of all sorts, were left to the sole use of the unclean one and
would be burned upon her demise. A magic line was drawn around the hut out
of which the soul of the girl as she slept could not escape to bewitch
anybody. Neither her name nor anything that had been hers would be ever
mentioned again; any word of a household article or any thing or beast
which had one syllable of the name “Bakuma” was changed, lest the user be
accursed and bewitched.

For the whole day, in this isolation, sat the girl Bakuma, Marufa’s
useless love charm clutched in her hand, as bewildered as if the earth had
suddenly turned inside out under this fact so stupendous and stupefying.
She did not weep. She squatted in the door, her eyes staring with the
glazed inquiring expression of a dying gazelle, a bronze question to Fate.
At the feeding time her mother threw her bananas into the circle. Bakuma
looked at them as they flopped near to her as if she did not realize what
they were. She made no stir to cook or prepare them. The cool twilight
came and passed like a blue breath. Above the insectile chorus of the
night beneath the crystal stars came the faint thrumming of a drum from
MKoffo’s hill. The sound of music and dancing reminded Bakuma of her
ambitious dreams. She could neither weep nor wail; she merely emitted a
faint gasping sound. But her mind began to work jerkily, yet more
fluently. Visions of the form of Zalu Zako were weaved and spun in the
darkness: the lithe walk of him, the haughty carriage of the head. Slowly
greened the sky until the banana fronds were etched in sepia against the
swollen moon. The dismal croak of the Baroto bird shattered the black
cocoon of Bakuma’s mind.

“Aie-eee! the foul bird of my despair!” she wailed, and at last wept. Then
she rose and flitted like some green ghost into the plantation and across
to the place of water where her lover had first spoken her sweet, recking
naught in her mist of despair of spirits of the night nor of the breaking
of the magic circle. The moon spattered the squatted form with blue
spangles and turned the falling tears to quivering opals. Bakuma broke
into wild lament.

  “The black Goat hath cried three times in my hut!
  My soul hath wandered and been caught in a trap!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  A wizard hath stolen a hair from my head!
  The beak of Baroto pecketh my gall!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  A rival hath lain in wait for my love!
  She hath slain my bird in the nest of his breast!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  A porcupine dwells in the place of my heart!
  The bird of my soul is fluttering faint!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  An ember of fire hath entered my mouth!
  The milk of my breasts is curdled to-night!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  The strings of my bosom are tied with fine knots!
  My belly is void! My nipples are dead!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  A monkey hath bitten the back of my tongue!
  Hath stolen my breath to make magic by night!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  The blood in my veins hath turned to sour porridge!
  My throat is choked up by the sudd of the Lake!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!

  A grey forest rat hath swallowed my heart!
  My thighs have been scratched by a poisonous thorn!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeee!”

As the last quiver of the wail blended with the anthem of the forest came
from a figure squatted above the ford of the river, his spear a blue flame
in the moonlight, an answer:

  “My love hath been taken by a greater than I!
  Her flesh will be tasted by a hungrier mouth!
  Her flesh which is sweeter than honey and wine!
  Her flesh which is softer than a newly born kid!
                 Ough! My spear is bent!

  My love hath been taken by a greater than I!
  Her breasts will be pillowed by a much broader chest!
  Her breasts which do swell like a tender young gourd!
  Her breasts which are as firm as the meat of the plum!
                 Ough! My spear is bent!”

And answered Bakuma’s wail:

                 “Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

  “My love hath been taken by a greater than I!
  Her chines will be gripped by a far fiercer hand!
  Her chines which are smoother than elephants’ tusks!
  Her chines which are as plump as the breast of a fowl!
                 Ough! My spear is bent!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  My love hath been taken by a greater than I!
  Her eyes will be touched by longer fingers than mine!
  Her eyes which are like unto moons veiled by rain!
  Her eyes which are like the starlit river at dawn!
                 Ough! My spear is bent!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  My love hath been taken by a greater than I!
  Her scent will be drunk by nostrils broader than mine!
  Her scent which is pungent and sweet like the smoke!
  Her scent which slakes thirst more than driest of beer!
                 Ough! My spear is bent!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  My love hath been taken by a greater than I!
  Her breath will be sipped by a thirstier throat!
  Her breath which is hotter than the flame of a fire!
  Her breath which makes more drunken than enemies’ blood!
                 Ough! My spear is bent!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  My love hath been taken by a greater than I!
  Her voice will be heard by ears mightier than mine!
  Her voice which is like unto burbling beer!
  Her voice which is gentler than the rustle of fronds!
                 Ough! My spear is bent!
                 Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

A slight breeze stirred gently the trees. The crickets shrilled their
perpetual chorus. A crocodile flopped in the river. Dogs yapped from a
village down the river. Again Bakuma lifted up her voice:

  “Mightier than elephants was the tread of my man!
  Keener than a leopard was the flash of his eye!
  Stronger than an oak tree was the strength of his arm!
  Swifter than lightning was the stroke of his spear!
                 Enemies died!

  Taller than the wine palm was the height of my man!
  Broader than the temple was the span of his chest!
  More graceful than antelope was the carriage of him!
  More slender than saplings was the build of his legs!
                 Women lamented!

  Sweeter than warm honey was the scent of my man!
  Whiter than a spear flash was the gleam of his teeth!
  Fiercer than scorpions was the grip of his hand!
  Smooth and like stone was——”

A gale of yells and shots destroyed the song of Bakuma like a foot
crushing a flower.

Zalu Zako leaped to his feet and stood for a moment listening intently.
Across the river some strange beast spat spears of red flames. A little
farther down another beast coughed violently like a hippopotamus. The sky
seemed falling. Such volumes of sound he had never heard before.

As he raced with the speed of a koodoo through the plantation he saw the
glow of fire ahead and heard the moan of some terrible monster near him.
He leaped five feet in the air as the world appeared to crack in half
beside him. He felt a sting like a brand of fire in his shoulder, but he
ran on towards the village from whence fled dim figures on all sides amid
shouts and screams and wailing.

Several huts were already blazing. The leviathan coughed and moaned again
and once more the earth seemed to crash to pieces near him. Appalled and
bewildered, choking with rage, he reached the outer enclosure where his
fellow warriors were shouting and yelling that the white gods were
attacking. Bakahenzie, gun in hand, was bidding them charge they knew not
what. Then out of the clutter of the village broke line upon line of
yelling figures clothed in uniform. Screaming the battle-cry, the warriors
charged, led by Zalu Zako, Bakahenzie, and Kawa Kendi, who in the
excitement had dashed from the enclosure. Howls and yells were drowned in
the spiteful crackle and cough. Warriors were mown like weeds under a
sickle. Scarce a hundred scrambled inside the enclosure at the rallying
call from Bakahenzie.

Again came a short rush of those uniformed figures; again scarlet spears
pierced the green moonlight like a hailstorm; small red flames rippled in
a line resembling a forest fire as the soldiers charged through and over
the palisade. Hand to hand was the fighting, spear and sword against
bayonet and rifle around the idol, the askaris outyelling the warriors.
The temple was on fire. In the light of the flames they saw a tall figure
in white with a glow of fire in his mouth and magic eyes upon his hands,
eyes which flashed rays of scarlet and blue as he cut and hacked at the
base of the idol.…

“Tarum hath come!” screamed some one, and as the cry was taken up, the
Unmentionable One tottered and crashed to the ground.

They fled, Zalu Zako, Bakahenzie and those that were left.



                                CHAPTER 12


The village of Yagonyana, the son of Zahilazaan, was situated some five
days’ march to the north-west of Kawa Kendi’s, in open cattle country near
the fringe of the forest. Here were gathered nearly every witch-doctor and
warrior of the tribe. Most of the women, children, and slaves had been
sent still farther to the west, driving the cattle before them.

Bakahenzie, Zalu Zako, Marufa, and all those warriors who had escaped from
the massacre by zu Pfeiffer were distinguished from their brethren by
circles of yellow earth around each left eye, and each right breast and
arm was smeared with red, which is part of the ceremony of magic
purification for those who have slain, lest, as is well known, the ghost
of the dead wreak their wrath upon their slayers.

The affairs of the tribe were in a parlous state. The netting of the tabu
had been tangled by the death of the King-God, Kawa Kendi, and the
unprecedented act of the overthrow of the idol. Kawa Kendi’s body, which
had not been recovered so that the doctors could release his unhappy soul,
might be used to make more magic against the tribe.

For three weeks there had been much discussion among the doctors, the
chiefs, and the people. Opinions were at variance; no two men could agree.
Lesser wizards, who before had been content with the perquisites of the
smaller offices, were now made drunken by the insecurity of Bakahenzie’s
position. Each of the doctors, seeing a chance to prove his superior merit
and win Bakahenzie’s post as chief doctor, had busily made magic to
destroy the usurper, and each and every one provided a different reason
for the failure thereof. Every day came news of the doings of the white
god with eyes upon his hands, of shootings and floggings, of the burning
of the village including the idol, the temple, and the sacred tombs of
MFunya MPopo, of MKoffo, of MZrakombinyana, and other kings before them.

The council of the craft could not even decide whether Zalu Zako was to be
King-God or not. Bakahenzie, whose interest lay in supporting the dynasty
of the present royal family, maintained that he should be anointed
forthwith. But with the downfall of the idol and his own impotence to make
successful magic, Bakahenzie’s prestige had been badly shaken; no longer
dared he issue dicta autocratically. As ever, political ambition tore
patriotism to shreds.

Marufa, former close ally of Bakahenzie, but lacking his active principle,
continued to mutter incantations most impressively by himself, waiting
cautiously to see which side of the river the arrow fell. Bakahenzie
became seriously alarmed at the growth of Yabolo’s faction and the
indifference of Marufa. He knew well that submission would entail the loss
of his post as well as his worldly goods; and he was aware that all men
knew that his most potent and strenuous magic had failed as utterly as
that of the youngest novice in the craft. His only chance to retrieve a
portion of his lost reputation was to invent a more plausible excuse for
failure than any other doctor had done. He did.

Although he did not know that Bakuma had broken the magic circle of her
own volition, he had the shrewd imagination to suggest that she had either
fled with the other women during the attack or that, even if she had
stayed, the askaris would have taken her from the hut. Therefore did he
demand an assembly of the craft and chiefs. One of the reasons, if not the
reason, of Bakahenzie’s success, as of other witch-doctors before, such as
Savonarola, had been a faculty, inspired by, or derived from, hysterical
epilepsy, of working himself up at will into a state of convulsion without
actual loss of consciousness and the spectacular exhibition of foam, which
no other sorcerer had been able to simulate so successfully. Therefore
Bakahenzie invoked the great Tarum (apotheosis of ancestors’ spirits) who,
through the convulsed body, did proclaim that the disaster had been caused
by the breaking of the magic circle by one whose name was accursed; and
that only could the magic of Bakahenzie be made potent, and the consequent
overthrow of the Eyes-in-the-hands be assured, by the sacrifice of the
victim to her destiny as the Bride of the Banana.

Marufa, appreciating the shrewdness of this move, immediately abandoned
his incantations to reassume his allegiance to the cause of Bakahenzie.
The prophecy was hailed by nearly every one as a most timely excuse for
the failure of magic in general. The miraculous recall of the
Unmentionable One now seemed so easy of accomplishment through the person
of Bakuma that many of those who had sided with Yabolo deserted him,
foreseeing the renewed ascendancy of Bakahenzie and fearing his wrath.

Yabolo, however, made an attempt to recover the lost adherents by
protesting that the Moon of the Harvest Festival had not yet come, and
that therefore victory could not be obtained until two more moons had
waned. But MYalu saw that by submitting to the new god he might be able to
have removed the tabu upon Bakuma—all things were possible to one who had
overthrown the Unmentionable One—and thus obtain her by the price of
submission; also he might possibly recover his wealth of ivory abandoned
after the massacre. Therefore did he with his people go over to the Yabolo
faction.

Uproar and confusion ensued. Bakahenzie recovered from his trance with
unprecedented rapidity and even did not require to be told what the spirit
of Tarum had said through his lips. The tribe was split into fiercer
factions than ever. They argued and screamed and cursed. Bakahenzie had
lost the hold over them; for as the god, of which he was the sponsor, was
dead, his credit had gone too. He dared no longer to remove a troublesome
brother or chief by magic. His only hope was to restore the god: so to
that end he declared that Zalu Zako must be anointed King-God. Uproar
arose once more. But Bakahenzie’s purpose had been served; he had diverted
their attention from the subject of submission.

From time to time came terrified runners with horrific stories of the
burning of villages, of massacre and rapine. Bakahenzie, determined not to
yield, secretly dispatched a slave to Eyes-in-the-hands with an arrow
which is a sign of war; Yabolo, whose mind ran in the same tracts, sent a
banana which is a sign of peace. In the meantime factions grew and
multiplied. One chief counselled his followers to take their cattle and
women and seek to conquer another tribe to the south-west; another wished
to go west. But each and every follower began to bargain with his chief
for disproportionate rewards for service. Two chiefs and five hundred men
started to the south-west, but they returned because they had met in their
path the skeleton of a slain elephant, which is, as everybody knows, a
sure sign of disaster.

Bakahenzie sent runners far and wide to discover Bakuma. As she could not
be found he concluded that she had been killed or taken as a slave and
urged the warriors to fight. Zalu Zako immediately desired the anointing
to be delayed in order that he should not be debarred from fighting.
Bakahenzie, none too sure of his authority, was compelled to acquiesce.
Marufa, observing that the arrow was still in the air, took to his
non-committal incantations again. Bakahenzie strove to keep the warriors
and chiefs occupied by dissension until the result of his challenge to
battle should mature. Yabolo, equally perturbed for his influence, did
exactly the same with the banana in view.

Yabolo and MYalu contemplated going in to make submission, but the former
wished to negotiate through Sakamata for the best terms, although he tried
to persuade MYalu to go; but MYalu was suspicious and would not do so
without Yabolo. But at the hour of the monkey one morning came a terrified
goatherd crying news that cut the tangled threads of their intrigues as a
sword cuts a goat’s throat. The white god, Eyes-in-the-hands, was within
an arrow’s flight of the village of Yagonyana.

Consternation ensued. The village and the temporary camp of grass huts
buzzed and hummed. Zalu Zako dashed out, sword and spear in hand, and in
the glow of the awakened fires harangued the warriors, urged that they
should make a swift detour through the forest and attack the white man as
he entered the village. Bakahenzie supported this plan of campaign. MYalu,
stung by the recollection of the loss of many tusks to the invader,
incontinently abandoned Yabolo and pressed for a frontal attack. Yabolo
contended that they send an envoy to make terms, but not very insistently.
In spite of the assurance of Sakamata, he was suspicious of the new god’s
gentle ways. Marufa, the wise, collected those of his household who had
remained with him, and quietly made his way to the forest.

But Zalu Zako’s martial spirit was overcome by the clamour of those who
would flee before worse befell, crying that the white god,
Eyes-in-the-hands, would eat them all up with the terrible monsters who
coughed flames and death; others screeched that the uniformed devils were
spirits of the night and therefore invincible; for always they came in the
dark. So they hesitated, shouted and argued. Then came a scout screaming
that the enemy was upon them, corroborated by a vicious cough.

A pom-pom shell landed in the midst of the crowded village. Zalu Zako,
Bakahenzie and their small following were nearly swept away in the rush of
five thousand odd warriors in flight. From the forest they watched with
awestruck eyes the burning of the village.



                                CHAPTER 13


On the morning on which zu Pfeiffer burned the village of Yagonyana,
Birnier was encamped upon the southern boundary of Wongolo. By his “coup
de superstition” had he recovered all his equipment except several bottles
of brandy, some canned goods and two and a half pairs of pyjamas; also the
field boots. The noble Inyira, son of Banyala, and his merry men never
attempted to recapture their prisoners; no one save the Eater-of-Men in
person could have persuaded them to return to that camp even had they had
their rifles.

After Birnier had dressed his own foot and the charred feet of his men,
had had a good drink and a better meal, he had sought to address the
balance of his mind through a medium designed for the cure of melancholy,
but efficacious for many other ills, _The Anatomy of Melancholy_. He
opened the one big volume which had been his companion throughout his
travels at a page marked at haphazard by an ivory paper knife with the
American flag upon the flat hilt, an early gift from Lucille, and began to
read the remarks of Robert Burton of quaintly glorious memory upon the
source of his late adventure.

“Those which are jealous, most part, if they be not otherwise relieved,
proceed from suspicion to hatred, from hatred to frenzy, madness, injury,
murder and despair … Amestris, Xerxes’s wife, because she found her
husband’s cloak in Masista’s house, cut off Masista’s wife’s paps and gave
them to the dogs, flayed her besides and cut off her ears, lips, tongue,
and slit the nose of Artaynta, her daughter.”



“Cheerful lady! She ought to have been zu Pfeiffer’s wife,” commented
Birnier and went to sleep.

Birnier arose feeling rational enough to reconsider his position. The
recollection of the signature on the photograph now failed to stimulate
the emotional reaction as once it had done. The experience through which
he had passed had had a beneficial effect in breaking or disconnecting the
train of suggestive images. At first in the recess of his mind had lurked
the desire to abandon everything, to rush straight to Lucille to demand an
explanation. Now the rising sun of reason cast quite different shadows
upon the incident. The high light was the fact that should he do so he
would be sacrificing his mission for what might prove to be ridiculous. As
his mind contemplated the subject the echo of “à toi, Lucille” tended to
carry a high note, but this he vented by writing a long letter to Lucille
recounting the facts and frankly admitting that he had been sufficiently
insane with jealousy to “go up in the air.” Once or twice he ceased to
write and gazed anxiously into the glare as his imagination suggested the
long period of waiting for an answer, wondering whether the echo of that
cursed “à toi” might not become unbearably shrill. He became a little more
sentimental towards the end of the letter, remarking that perhaps he had
been wrong in deserting her for so long and emphasising the rather
ridiculous point that he was aware that he was not a young man. However,
he let it remain, and at the first opportunity sent off the letter by
runner to the nearest station in Uganda, together with an order for
certain goods to be sent to a village on the Wongolo border.

Although still inclined to be emotional over the photograph, Birnier did
not waste any energy over vindictive thoughts upon zu Pfeiffer, whom he
philosophically regarded as irresponsible for his actions, inasmuch as he
had been made that way just as any savage. He had gotten out of the toils
set for him, so why should he spend time and trouble in seeking revenge
which would merely consist in reporting the incident through a British
station to Washington, who would open up interminable polite
correspondence with the German Embassy, who would again write prodigious
letters to the Colonial Minister in Berlin, who would… Ludicrous! No; he
would not permit zu Pfeiffer to interfere with his plans. He would
continue straight to Wongolo instead of investigating the Kivu country,
where zu Pfeiffer might perhaps have another opportunity to cause more
trouble. Accordingly he negotiated with the nearest village for carriers
and set out, striking due west, thus approaching the Wongolo territory
towards the southern boundary.

The people to the south of the Wongolo country was an inferior race, whom
the Wongolo periodically raided to replenish their slaves. These Wamongo
were split up into several petty chiefdoms, usually at war with one
another. They had no defined theology. For they had not progressed beyond
the stage of magic as far as any concept of religion, that is of praying
for intercession to any power greater than themselves; whereas the mental
state of the Wongolo was half-way between magic and religion, mixing and
confusing the two as exemplified in the Rain-making ceremony of employing
magic and alternately invoking the god and threatening him with dire
penalties if he did not behave. There seemed to be no royal family or clan
of the Wamongo; chiefs changed constantly as one more powerful for the
moment arose; the wizards did not appear to have any political power,
acting as general physicians and confining their efforts apparently to
simple magic for the growing of corn, the curing of the evil eye and
wounds. They were terrified of the Wongolo, much to Mungongo’s pride, who
never let slip an opportunity of swaggering and bruiting abroad the fame
of his master as the greatest of magicians the world had ever seen. Never
was he tired of relating to a grunting audience the terrible sight and
effect of his master’s transposition into a spirit. The yarn lost nothing
in the telling.

Progress was slow. Every afternoon, as regular as the sun set, clouds of
sepia sailed up from the west to clothe the world in a grey deluge of
falling water. Fortunately they were travelling up a watershed so that
there were no large rivers to cross. As they approached the Wongolo border
rumours began of a white god with eyes upon his hands and live fire in his
mouth who, so said the delighted Wamongo, had entirely eaten up the hated
Wongolo. They seemed prepared to accept Birnier, when suggesting that he
should make magic for them to conquer the Wongolo, as another terrible
white god, and were accordingly polite. But Mungongo, vastly indignant,
denied the story; according to him, no power on earth could have subdued
his race, except perhaps the mighty Moonspirit (the name he had bestowed
upon Birnier).

But when Birnier arrived at the first village of the Wongolo the absence
of warriors corroborated the wild tales they had heard. The inhabitants of
old men, boys and women surrounded the camp to gaze in awestruck curiosity
at the white whom they believed to be the brother of the
Eyes-in-the-hands. This calumny Mungongo strenuously gainsaid, and anew
recounted the marvellous feats of magic of Moonspirit who could, he
assured his compatriots, eat up Eyes-in-the-hands as easily as a crocodile
would swallow a goat. Yet in spite of their terror they insisted that
Birnier must go through the ceremony of purification incumbent upon all
strangers in order to exorcise the evil influence of their eyes and souls;
also the customary present must be sent to the king and his august
permission to enter awaited, although no man knew where he was since the
capital had been burned. Mungongo waxed furious. He informed them that
Moonspirit was a friend of the Son-of-the-Snake, and moreover had before
been in the country; that if they vexed Moonspirit he would enchant the
whole village so that no man could move hand or foot. No matter, said
they, that was the rule and must be done. They were impressed but
obstinate.

From the description of this destroying god, who was the colour of a
stripped banana and tall as a palm tree, had fire in his mouth and eyes
upon his hands—it was some time before he could recognise the “eyes”—and
whose companions were devils strangely clothed, dragging horrific monsters
who spat earthquakes, Birnier had no difficulty in recognising zu
Pfeiffer, and recollected the significant pumping at dinner regarding the
Wongolo country. However he had renounced any idea of revenge, but the
discovery of friend zu Pfeiffer as the terrifying god amused him:
quickened a desire to overset the gentleman’s plans. He smiled with a
slight hardening of the line about his mouth as he began to consider what
might be done.

As far as he could estimate by recalling the size of the native barracks
at Fort Ingonya, he reckoned that zu Pfeiffer could not possibly have more
than three hundred men, unless he had been reinforced from the east.
Roughly he calculated that the Wongolo ought to be able to put about ten
thousand warriors in the field. That number under any sort of leadership,
even though they were only armed with spears and swords, should wipe out
the three hundred, in spite of the discipline and two or three
machine-guns, by sheer weight of numbers. But, from what he had already
heard, zu Pfeiffer had evidently caught them unprepared, wiped out a mass
and secured a supernatural effect by destroying the idol. He remembered
his talk on das Volkliches and his comment that zu Pfeiffer was unusually
well informed upon the psychology of the native mind.

During two days disputing in the native manner news came in of fresh
massacres, adding to the general terror. He sent for the headman and with
him held a long shauri. The result was that the old fellow conceived the
wonderful idea, already suggested by his lesser brethren, of enlisting the
services of this white man, reputed to be a most marvellous magician, in
their protection.

Then having had his wits sharpened by his own originality and a sheath
knife, the headman promptly discovered that the ceremony of exorcism could
not be performed because the local wizard had departed with every ounce of
magic for the front. Still there were obstinate and fearful persons who
wished that Birnier should send a message to the king and wait until he
had the permission. Another two days were lost until this objection was
overcome by certain presents of “bafta,” destined for the king, being
handed over to the village.

On the week’s march across Wongolo, Mungongo triumphantly held spellbound
audiences at every village through which they passed. As they neared the
site of the City of the Snake, where they heard zu Pfeiffer was encamped,
they encountered deserted villages. When they came upon the smouldering
embers of one Birnier consented to turn aside from the regular trail in
order to pass to the west of Kawa Kendi’s where, so the natives said, were
Zalu Zako and Bakahenzie.

Beyond a belt of forest was open rolling country. They came to a village
of five huts where dwelt some herdsmen, although most of the cattle had
been driven westwards. Mungongo, seeking at Birnier’s suggestion for some
one who had actually been present at the village when zu Pfeiffer
attacked, discovered a young girl who had escaped. He brought the daughter
of Bakala into the presence of Moonspirit still pathetically clutching the
amulet which Marufa had sold her. But from Bakuma, who had fled to the
forest at the first assault and afterwards to this herdsmen’s village
where the fact of the tabu would not yet have penetrated, Birnier could
interpret little of value. Of the whereabouts of Zalu Zako she knew no
more than the peasants. She remembered Infunyana, as he had been called on
his previous visit to the City of the Snake, and to her it seemed that a
god had descended from the blue sky personally to aid her. So utterly
incomprehensible and terrifying had the attack appeared that unconsciously
the inevitability of her doom was shaken; if such things could happen, she
felt rather than thought, then who could say what else was possible? She
asked permission to travel with Moonspirit. Birnier, who knew from her
dress, or lack of it, that she was unmarried, smiled as he wondered
whether she was seeking her lover.

Throughout their journey they had not met a single warrior; but as they
neared the place of the king they began to meet groups of them. At the
sight of the first headdress Bakuma bolted into the grass, nor did she
reappear until after they had gone. Later she came to Birnier and asked
permission to hide within his tent when the warriors appeared, and to his
question began to explain the fate to which she had been doomed. Naturally
this account of the Marriage of the Bride of the Banana at the Harvest
Festival was of value as well as of interest to Birnier, from whom it had
been concealed when in the country before. He cross-questioned her and
made notes; but Bakuma could give him practically no details of what
actually happened, a secret well guarded by the craft.

They looked downcast, these warriors, and were doubtful what to do on
meeting another white. Many had never before seen a white man and were
inclined to bestow upon Moonspirit all the attributes which they had given
to Eyes-in-the-hands. Eh! said they, Eyes-in-the-hands is a more powerful
god than the Unmentionable One, for has he not eaten him up?
Eyes-in-the-hands has imprisoned the thunder and the lightning in a bag
which he looses at will. Who could withstand him? Had they better not
submit before his wrath had eaten them all up? E-eh! man cannot fight with
a god, as any fool knows.

They were returning to their homes to make pilgrimage to the new god, to
propitiate him with oxen and with ivory lest worse befall. However they
knew where Zalu Zako was hidden, also the wizards whose magic was as a
drop of water in a fire. Mungongo did not fail to relate the marvels of
Moonspirit which he had seen with his own eyes, he and those with him. The
warriors listened without being in the least impressed. That, said they,
was merely woman’s magic to what Eyes-in-the-hands could do! Aie-e! had
not they fallen dead in masses at the cough of one of his monster spirits!
Aie-e! had not the look of him burned up the Unmentionable One as a straw
in a fire! Therefore was he not greater than the god? Aie-e! was he not
burning their villages at will! Aie-e, brothers, they must hasten to
appease the wrath of so terrible a god!

Birnier saw that it was useless to attempt to argue with them. Zu
Pfeiffer, with his shrewd stroke at the kernel of their faith in the
symbol of the idol, had established a kind of godhead; and by his
ferocious massacres had thoroughly cowed them. However Birnier secured one
man to guide him to where Zalu Zako, the witch-doctors and those who
remained with him, were in hiding.

On the fringe of the dense forest they camped. The warrior guide went to
acquaint Zalu Zako of their approach, else otherwise the sight of a white
might provoke an attempt at massacre or flight. On the third day the man
returned bearing greetings from Zalu Zako personally who remembered well
Infunyana, the only white man whom he had ever met.

For two days, on a faint trail, in a steamy heat pulsing with chromatic
birds and lizards, they journeyed through the forest, the skirts of the
vast Ituri whose deepest recess is the home of the pygmy. One early
forenoon they were halted by the warrior in apparently trackless jungle
and bidden to camp. Mungongo was indignant, but protest was useless as the
man refused to conduct them any farther, saying that Zalu Zako would come
to them. So the carriers cut a circle and built a zareba and the messenger
was swallowed by the green wall bearing presents of two rifles.



                                CHAPTER 14


About a mile from Birnier’s camp, through forest so dense that even the
progress of a native clambering from trunk to trunk and over undergrowth
ten feet deep was slow and tortuous, was the temporary village of Zalu
Zako; some six or seven hundred huts of branches and creepers straggling
over a wide area of ground which had been roughly cleared from undergrowth
by a few slaves and women.

The hut of Zalu Zako, as those of most of the bigger chiefs and wizards,
was furnished with reeds upon the floor to avoid squatting actually in the
green slime, and boasted a palisade run from tree to tree enclosing the
huts of his two wives, women and slaves. Every morning the leader of a
long line of slaves bringing supplies from the villages in the open,
chanting softly the song of the march, entered the village through a mass
of creepers which hung like a curtain of humid green. Many hundreds of
warriors with their chiefs had deserted their king after the flight from
Yagonyana’s village.

In the mind of Zalu Zako was doubt and perplexity as in those of his
people. All the accepted “laws” and “facts” of his world had been set at
naught; it was as if buck lived in the rivers and fish ran roaring through
the forests. Fear, curiosity, and resentment filled him. Sometimes it
appeared that Eyes-in-the-hands had indeed proved to be a more powerful
god than the Unmentionable One, of whom he was, or should have been, high
priest and king; that he had eaten him up as they said; so perhaps the
better course was to submit to this being invincible. Yet this very
anarchy of his beliefs had released once more the passion for Bakuma whom
he had renounced, the desire for whom had been inhibited by the sense of
the inevitability of the mandate of the witch-doctors. Hereditary custom,
which made him feel that it was incumbent upon him—a primitive sense of
duty—to be king-god warred with this longing for Bakuma. The fact that he
was not yet bound to celibacy quickened the seed of rebellion against the
domination of the wizards. If he could escape the godhood then Bakuma was
alive again. For to his mind a ban upon the personal ego was far stronger
than any ban upon a second person.

Chewing the cud of this sweet grass of hope squatted Zalu Zako one morning
in the dignified solitude of his compound on the threshold of his hut.
Opposite him sat the brother conspirator of Bakahenzie, Marufa, a brown
shadow in comparison to the gleaming of the royal insignia of the ivory
bangles. They sat silent, motionless, save for the occasional sparse
movement of snuff taking. In the steamy heat a continual mutter and rustle
persisted, punctuated by the harsh scream of a green parrot or the squawks
of a troop of monkeys. In the faintly spattered sunlight percolating
through the bowered roof vivid lizards rivalled in colour the rare finger
of an orchid clinging to the great tree beside the hut. Through the humid
air came the faint chant of carriers at the end of a journey; swelled
louder and ceased. At the mutter of greeting near by Marufa grunted.

“The beaten dog returns to nose in the garbage,” he mumbled.

“Maybe he hath news of the doings,” commented Zalu Zako after a pause.

“The young dog starts a buck in every tree stump,” returned Marufa.

The mumble of voices in the hut of Yabolo near to Zalu Zako’s continued.
Neither Zalu Zako nor Marufa knew other than that, after his downfall,
Sakamata had retired to his native village on the southern boundary where
the people, being laymen, had believed the excuse for his absence given by
Sakamata that he had retired to the forest for one moon in the guise of
his totem, the wart hog, which animal became accordingly tabu to their
killing for that period. At length came a young slave from Yabolo who,
after saluting, delivered a message from Yabolo requesting that Zalu Zako
receive him and his relative, Sakamata, who had weighty news for him.

Presently entered the recusant bearing signs of prosperity in the flowered
print about his loins, the ancient cartridge pouch slung around his waist
and a huge revolver of the pin-fire model dangling from a neck which
appeared more tortoise-like than ever. Before Zalu Zako he squatted and
after they had exchanged the usual hostages to hostility, Sakamata
inquired most politely after the health of the Son-of-the-Snake, of his
cattle and of his fortune, and last of all of his women. Sakamata, aware
of the loss of prestige suffered by his old enemy, Bakahenzie, presented
Zalu Zako with a duplicate of the pin-fire revolver. Followed an equally
extensive greeting to Marufa. Only when these ceremonies had been
punctiliously performed did they begin to discuss the news.

At first Sakamata proceeded to repeat the popular saying regarding the
doings of Eyes-in-the-hands. Various chiefs had visited the fort of the
white man bringing presents in their hands, terrified of what might
happen, yet, according to Sakamata, their fears had been dispelled
immediately; for the wise new god had received them as brothers and had
made offerings to them as was the custom for strangers to do. It was true,
he admitted in cross-examination, that whole villages had been put to the
sword and burned; but, he demanded, was not that the way of a mighty
warrior to those who resisted him?

Moreover, continued Sakamata, to fight him was death. His magic was such
that no man could prevail against him. Had any doctor yet succeeded in
making successful magic against the Invincible One? His magic was terrible
to behold. Spirits which were imprisoned in houses of trees (boxes) spoke
and sang according to their tribe.

“Clk!” commented Zalu Zako incredulously.

“These words are as the wind in the trees at night speaking to girls,”
commented Marufa slowly. “What man hath beheld those things with his own
eyes?”

Deliberately Sakamata tapped snuff, inhaled it with relish, meticulously,
that not one grain was lost upon his white caterpillar moustache, and said
indifferently:

“Even he who sits before you.”

“Eh!”

Another point was scored. But both Zalu Zako and Marufa regarded him as
one who, having had dealings with the devil and yet had emerged safely,
was to be suspected of some ghastly pact. After a calculated pause
Sakamata continued nonchalantly:

“There is no magic like unto Eyes-in-the-hands, the Mighty One. A great
fort hath he made upon the hill of thy grandfather (MFunya MPopo), O Zalu
Zako, girded with a great palisade, around which walk ever the red devils
in uniform, each one of whom hath a gun with seven voices. And peering
through that palisade, like a terrible black leopard from his lair, are
the monster coughing devils. Eh! who are they who can withstand them?”

“Eh!” echoed his audience with lively memories of the “coughing devils.”

“And he hath a mighty hut made from the white man’s cloth of colour like
to the forest full of things to make magic. Seated upon his chair like
unto a man plucking bananas, the eyes upon his hands and in his head gleam
so fiercely that water is made within a man. He who dares to look sees not
only Eyes-in-the-hands, but his two souls, even as thou seest thine own
two souls staring at thee with the frightened eyes that are thine!”

“Ehh!”

This time a genuine belly grunt was elicited, and even Marufa moved
uneasily.

“Thou hast been bewitched,” he added to mask his astonishment. “For a man
may see his own soul in any pool, but never two souls!”

“Even is it as I have told thee, O son of MTungo,” asserted Sakamata.

Sakamata discovered the use of snuff again to be necessary. He watched
covertly the repressed excitement in the eyes of Zalu Zako.

“And what said the great magician unto thee?” Marufa demanded to cover his
discomfort.

“He spoke white words as a warrior should,” said Sakamata. “He gave words
which told me that he was but a small wizard. He made my eyes to see the
soul of a greater god than he, who was there and yet was not there; for at
the touch of his magic hand with many eyes, behold! there were two more
souls of the god which returned even as I looked.”

“Ehh! A greater god than he?” demanded Zalu Zako, with a flicker of the
white of his eyes.

“Even as I have said, a greater god who is king of all the white man’s
countries in the sea, who eats up those whom he pleases. Yet, even though
he may bewitch with one of his eyes, did he speak softly to Yagombi, the
son of Bagazaan, and Zalayan, the son of Kilmanyana, who were with me,
bidding us to tell our brethren that if they would not acknowledge the
true king that then he would eat us up, even as he ate up the
Unmentionable One. But to those who would submit and make due tribute,
would he protect in peace from the white men who, fleeing from the wrath
of the great god, would soon come to eat up our country like the locusts.”

“Eh! ehh! white men as the locusts!”

“Thus he spoke and bade us to go forth and tell our brethren.”

This was a wholly new notion and proportionally serious if true. But
Marufa, recovering from the first shock, wrapped himself in his
professional cloak of omniscient indifference as he recollected that
Sakamata was an unfrocked priest of the craft. The group took snuff
sternly until Sakamata, having accomplished his mission, deemed it wise to
retire to allow the suggestive ideas to germinate. So gravely he arose and
departed from the hut of Zalu Zako and went under the patronage of Yabolo
to another compound where, to a group of the most disaffected chiefs,
including MYalu, he repeated nearly word for word the same harangue.

In the minds of Zalu Zako and Marufa the report of Sakamata had been
exceedingly disquieting. Marufa began to wonder whether he had not better
make terms with the new god before worse came to the worst in the form of
white men like locusts, a menace fraught with dire possibilities which
were based upon the rumours which every native had heard of the ways of
white men in bulk: to the Wongolo merely vague stories from the north of
the conquest of the Sudan by the British. Marufa’s ambitions in the craft
were almost submerged in the dread that, wizard though he was, he would
have small chance of distinction and power among a race of wizards. To
Zalu Zako, although the prospect of unlimited white men swooping upon them
was terrifying, his semi-conscious mind was rather occupied with Bakuma
than with affairs of state which seemed merely to exist to torment lovers.
However he, too, was sufficiently impressed to consider seriously the
advisability of submitting before it was too late; the motivating
principle of the scheme was an idea which suggested that, in some
indefinable way, such action might lead to the avoidance of the ban of
godhood and thus to the reinstatement of Bakuma in the realm of
possibilities.

To Bakahenzie the report was more alarming than to the others, inasmuch as
it appeared to portend the irretrievable loss of his power. He saw the
effect upon their minds, the inclination to yield to the new conqueror,
which, of course, would mean the last of his followers being swept away in
the crowd like dry leaves in the wind. But more than the others he
suspected the motives of Sakamata, the man whom he had unfrocked. Arguing
in terms of his own mental processes he saw correctly enough that Sakamata
was surely playing for himself, and guessed equally truly that Sakamata
would get, or imagined that he would get, many rewards, political as well
as in kind, for his services as jackal to the white man. But he listened
and said no word for, or against, him. He was astute enough never to make
a move until he had, or thought that he had, all the moves of the game
worked out. Marufa was just as wily; he related the news given by Sakamata
in a voice which gave no hint by tone or word what any of his opinions
might be. Then, as they sat like graven images, supremely indifferent to
the doings of Sakamata or aught else, entered the warrior bearing
greetings from Birnier to Zalu Zako.

Immediately Zalu Zako, to whose less skilled mind in intrigue this
succession of world-shaking events was bewildering, feared that already
the plague of white men like locusts had commenced. But when he learned
that the white man was alone and was Infunyana, the only white man whom he
had ever met, he perceived vaguely some remote prospect of achieving his
desires. Almost eagerly, for a native, he commanded the messenger to
summon the white man to his presence.

To Bakahenzie the unexpected arrival of another white was an unforeseen
potentiality of force which might be utilized to his own benefit; so
thought Marufa, which was in effect exactly the same reaction as Zalu
Zako’s. Therefore Bakahenzie immediately protested upon the ground that no
stranger could be allowed to approach the Son-of-the-Snake, or even the
village, who had not been purified according to custom. When Zalu Zako
demurred he retorted:

“Hath not one white man who was permitted to enter our country without the
demon being exorcised wreaked disaster upon us? Wouldst thou then destroy
us utterly?”

Zalu Zako was silent. Much as he would have desired to browbeat
Bakahenzie, much as his confidence in the powers of the chief witch-doctor
had waned in his estimation, yet there remained sufficient to overawe him
when the matter was put to a crucial test. Bakahenzie would, so he stated,
go himself to see the new white man, thus unselfishly taking upon his
person the whole risk of the lasting magic of a stranger unpurified. But
Marufa had no intention of allowing Bakahenzie to obtain a monopoly of
this possible new ally. Unlike Zalu Zako he was not burdened with awe and
had confidence in his own magic to overcome any evil that Bakahenzie might
seek to work against him. So when he announced that he would accompany
Bakahenzie, that distressed wizard was too conscious of his dwindling
prestige to object.



                                CHAPTER 15


Just after sun-up next morning as Birnier was seated at the door of his
tent reading his _Melancholy_ and drinking his coffee, a startled “clk”
caused him to glance round. He saw Bakuma rise suddenly from the fire and
disappear. The next moment materialized out of the miasma of the morning
the figures of Bakahenzie and Marufa, followed by a file of warriors.

Portentously Bakahenzie stalked to the fire and squatted down without even
a murmur to Mungongo busy with the breakfast. Bakahenzie remembered
Infunyana very well, but nevertheless designedly Birnier ignored him in
return. So they sat, the two wizards taking snuff with grave concern
almost at the feet of the white who continued to smoke and to read.

The sign boded ill, for the insistence upon the punctilious etiquette
inferred that Bakahenzie was disposed to be suspicious, if not directly
hostile. And indeed the warriors’ description of the magic of Moonspirit,
vide Mungongo, had made Bakahenzie uneasy.

After a full half-hour Bakahenzie, as if beaten in this solemn game,
turned gravely and saluted the white. Birnier looked down from his chair
with the affectation of just having noticed that some one was there. After
a pause he returned the greeting, a little point which Bakahenzie
thoroughly appreciated. Birnier had learned that according to Mungongo and
the warrior, Zalu Zako had not yet been anointed king-god; therefore that
Bakahenzie evidently intended to keep the young man in the background.

After preliminaries, Birnier inquired after Zalu Zako and informed
Bakahenzie that he had journeyed expressly to see him. Bakahenzie ignored
the question and began to talk about Eyes-in-the-hands, demanding to know
whether Birnier was his brother.

“Nay,” said Birnier, “Eyes-in-the-hands is not of the same tribe as
Moonspirit,” for he sedulously followed up the title which Mungongo had
given him. “Eyes-in-the-hands comes from a country twelve moons distant
from my country.”

Marufa squatting beside him grunted; Bakahenzie took snuff nonchalantly as
if he did not believe a word.

“Eyes-in-the-hands is a mighty magician in his own country,” said
Bakahenzie in the form of an assertion.

“The magic of Eyes-in-the-hands to the magic of Moonspirit,” stated
Birnier, “is as water to the beer of the banana.”

“Eyes-in-the-hands,” remarked Bakahenzie indifferently, “hath magic to
make the souls of man to be seen by all.”

“Those are but the souls of the belly and body, but Moonspirit can enchant
so that the spirit of the head of man be seen at night,” boasted Birnier,
wondering what trick of zu Pfeiffer’s had produced the effect.

“Eyes-in-the-hands,” insisted Bakahenzie, “hath a spirit in a piece of a
tree which cries or laughs, sings or talks to his magic.”

“Moonspirit,” retorted Birnier (thinking “Gramophone, but I can go one
better, my friend”), “hath also a spirit in a piece of tree who will speak
words of wisdom unto thee in thine own tongue, who will repeat that which
is said unto him in thy tongue or in my tongue, who will speak words of
wisdom even unto thee.”

Bakahenzie seemed outmatched in the boasting tournament. He tapped snuff
woodenly. Marufa scratched his skinny ribs thoughtfully. Then Bakahenzie
remarked:

“He that hath not been cleansed may not look upon the Son-of-the-Snake.”

“He that hath not been anointed need have no fear of the evil eye.”

“Hath not one who was not cleansed entered and cast evil upon the tribe?”
demanded Bakahenzie.

“If the fence is not strong the leopard will enter.”

“If the leopard be not strong and swift indeed may he not be killed in the
hut?” inquired Bakahenzie.

“If a leopard and a wild-cat break in, then wilt thou not kill the leopard
first?”

“Even so,” retorted Bakahenzie; “then is water stronger than beer, even as
the beer does reveal?”

Birnier nearly smiled in recognition of the hit.

“Nay, does not beer make the fool to talk foolishness? Dost thou then cast
away the banana? Does not one talk foolishness also who is sick and yet
discardeth good medicine, because he feareth to poison his belly?”

“Even so,” said Bakahenzie obstinately, “does the sick man exorcise the
good medicine lest an enemy hath made magic thereupon?”

“Then,” said Birnier, whose only objection to the ceremony was the delay
and the messiness, “let the good medicine be purified.”

Bakahenzie grunted and covertly took stock of the tent and equipment
visible. Upon the pile of cases stacked just inside the tent his eyes
rested some time, but he would not make any inquiry. Marufa, too, was
occupied in the same manner. Bakahenzie was recalling the previous meeting
with Birnier in the village of MFunya MPopo—of that day when Birnier had
not made any attempt to impress the native mind with “magic” other than
the ordinary “miracles” in the routine of a white man’s life.

“When the Son-of-the-Snake,” inquired Birnier, who had learned as much of
the hagiocracy as Mungongo knew, “hath taken up the Burden, wilt thou then
drive Eyes-in-the-hands from the country?”

Bakahenzie slowly withdrew his eyes from the fascinating case as far as
Birnier’s booted foot.

“Hast thou, white man, the magic twig that makes fire?” he demanded.

“Even so.”

Birnier took a box of matches from his pocket and struck one. Bakahenzie
and Marufa watched him solemnly. Then a lean bronze hand was outstretched.
Birnier gave him the box. Slowly and gravely Bakahenzie, the chief
witch-doctor, extracted a match, turned it over and over, smelt it, tasted
it, regarded it, and struck it on the top of the box. It was a safety
match, so nothing happened. Birnier, without a vestige of a smile,
instructed him to strike it only upon the black piece at the side. That
impressed Bakahenzie and Marufa. The former tried again as directed and
succeeded. Holding the match too near the head he burned the quick of the
nail, but not a muscle quivered. He would not even admit that the white
man’s devil stick had bitten him. But he was still more impressed.

At a sign from Birnier, Mungongo brought from the tent a nickel-plated
revolver and cartridges, which he placed at the feet of Bakahenzie without
comment. Apparently Bakahenzie did not notice the action or the gift. He
held out the matches to return to the white man. Birnier requested him to
keep them. He wrapped up the box in his loin-cloth and fell to further
contemplation of the cases. He was cogitating. The value of this white had
suddenly increased. Evidently he could make small magic. Perhaps he could
make as much big magic as Eyes-in-the-hands. Who knew? But then if that
was so he could make greater magic than he, Bakahenzie, could. Bakahenzie
saw that if Moonspirit were such a great magician he would be difficult or
impossible to control. Naturally Bakahenzie could only understand his own
motives in others. His problem now was to discover some means by which he
could control Moonspirit, make of him a familiar to work to his own ends.
Why was he so insistent upon seeing Zalu Zako? Bakahenzie became more and
more suspicious. He saw another reason why the white man must be kept away
from Zalu Zako. To refuse to purify him would give a valid excuse that he
may not look upon the Son-of-the-Snake. But he did not wish to displease
him; also Marufa could perform the purification.

Again Birnier repeated the question regarding the overthrow of
Eyes-in-the-hands. Bakahenzie took snuff, regarded the revolver lying at
his feet idly, and deigned to reply.

“When that which must be hath come to pass, then shall the children of the
Snake eat up their enemies as a lizard eats flies.”

“And what is that which must come to pass?”

Bakahenzie sat silent awhile, slightly shocked at the directness of the
question; then as if to humour the white man, he replied:

“When the Bridegroom hath taken the Bride.”

The ceremony of purification could not take place until the following day,
because such things may not be hurried; and moreover, various potent
charms had to be sent for to the native village. Meanwhile Bakahenzie
squatted by the fire, contemplating the nickel-plated revolver and affairs
of policy, and opposite him sat the meditative Marufa.

From the hour of the monkey, Bakahenzie, unconscious of the small face and
anxious eyes watching the camp from the tangle of green, was busy
muttering spells over a calabash containing a magic concoction composed of
the entrails of a white goat, certain herbs and the eyes of a black
wild-cat. When the roof of the forest was a patterned ceiling against an
incandescent glow, Birnier stripped to the waist, and submitted himself to
the hands of the wizard who, after scattering the feathers of a scarlet
parrot into the calabash, smeared the left breast, the forehead and the
right arm of the white man, to the accompaniment of an incantation. These
insignia and specifics he must not remove for three suns; nor could he be
permitted to look upon the semi-divine Zalu Zako until whatever evil
influence his foreign body might possess should have been exorcised by
this powerful medicine.

To sit around half nude in such heat was no arduous undertaking, but to
sleep without rubbing off the concoction was another matter; also the
odour thereof was not pleasing to the nostrils of a white man. But Birnier
accomplished the feat by smoking excessively and by marking with a pencil
the various nostrums recommended by the amiable Burton, many of which were
hardly less disagreeable than Doctor Bakahenzie’s prescription.

That worthy’s slaves had erected a hut for him nigh to the tent in the
door of which he squatted, usually with Marufa beside him, throughout the
day, with ever a contemplative eye upon his victim, an eye which Birnier
was sure was eagerly seeking some excuse to plead that he had
inadvertently rendered the magic impotent, and must accordingly have the
ceremony repeated.

Amused by the ridiculous sight he presented, plastered over with this
filth, Birnier made Mungongo, whom he had taught to operate a camera, take
a photograph of him, which would entertain Lucille, as well as be of
scientific interest. Bakahenzie and Marufa watched this performance from
the fire with amazement, for they imagined that the camera was some kind
of gun. When they heard the click, they grunted as if expecting the white
man to fall dead. Birnier of course knew the universal native belief in
the picture being the soul, or one of the souls. He summoned Bakahenzie
and Marufa and showed them a photograph which, after some difficulty, they
recognised as Mungongo.

“Eh,” grunted a warrior, “indeed is Mungongo the slave of the white man,
for hath he not imprisoned his soul?”

Mungongo laughed, yet he believed in the superstition as implicitly as any
of his compatriots, for said he:

“It is a wise man who hath that which is his always within his hand, even
as Moonspirit hath the soul of his favourite wife with him always, so that
she may not be unfaithful unto him.”

“Eh, he is wiser than the Banana Eater!” grunted the warrior in
admiration.

Birnier’s training to control his features was strained in the effort not
to express surprise. He could not imagine from what Mungongo had derived
this astonishing statement, until he recollected that the boy had seen a
photograph of Lucille among his papers.

After this successful demonstration of his sophistication, Mungongo was
anxious that Moonspirit give an exhibition of his magic to dumbfound the
chief witch-doctor, desiring most ardently to work the gramophone, to
operate which he had also learned. But on reflection, Birnier decided that
it was not his policy to make his thunder too cheap.

Each evening as the last subtle violet quivered in the trees had Bakuma
glided from the shelter of the undergrowth under the flap of Birnier’s
tent, where she had lain until the first tint of dawn on the foliage of
the forest. Birnier had wished her to leave for some village until
Bakahenzie had left the camp, but Bakuma had frantically pleaded to
remain, knowing that the craft was seeking her throughout the country
since Bakahenzie’s latest interview with mighty Tarum.

But upon the third day as Birnier was seated reading philosophically at
his tent door, the inevitable happened. A loud outcry arose and from the
tangle of creepers started the lithe figure of Bakuma, who darted past him
into the tent. For a moment there was silence. But Birnier guessed what
the matter was. Bakahenzie emerged from the wall of green and cried out in
a loud voice. Instantly the warriors around leaped to their feet, and
broke out into great clamour.

Mungongo, busy with the cooking pots, rushed to Birnier’s side,
gesticulating wildly. Inside the tent crouched Bakuma. Towards Birnier
advanced Bakahenzie and the warriors, whose dilated eyes and spears in
their hands betokened that Bakahenzie had stirred their deepest feelings
of terror and murder. Birnier smoked placidly, neither stirring nor
permitting a sign of their presence to cross his features.

Mungongo, startled out of his confidence in Moonspirit, excitedly bade
Bakuma go forth as Bakahenzie, stopping in front of the white man, broke
into a harangue, bidding him to give up Bakuma whose sacrilege in breaking
the magic circle, as he had said, had brought the terrible
Eyes-in-the-hands upon them; that the welfare of the tribe depended upon
her sacrifice to the angered Unmentionable One even as she had been
doomed; and threatening that they would take the insolent white man, whose
magic was as water, and sacrifice him as well, as was desired by the
spirit of Tarum.

The longer he spoke the more excited he grew. Motivated by the sudden
conviction that the sacrifice of Bakuma, whose action he had foretold so
successfully, and the slaughter of the white would really restore to him
his repute and remove at the same time the problem of controlling a
superior magician who threatened to become his rival, Bakahenzie began to
work himself up into the necessary state of prophetic hysteria. Cowering
against the camp-bed Bakuma whimpered with terror; Mungongo incoherently
begged Moonspirit to give up the girl.

Not a muscle moved upon Birnier’s face; nor even did his eyes turn in the
direction of the menacing crowd who with uplifted spears joggled each
other around Bakahenzie. Birnier knew that it was a supreme test of nerve;
knew that any attempt to snatch a rifle or a movement of any sort, would
precipitate action on their side. He had no intention of surrendering the
girl to a hideous fate, and also he saw beyond the incident that if
Bakahenzie were to triumph over him now, not only would his prestige with
the natives be gone for ever, but that his fate would be surely sealed.
Slowly, exaggeratedly, as if he were alone, he killed a mosquito upon his
bare right breast and lighted his pipe anew.

Bakahenzie advanced a step followed by the warriors. His voice had reached
the falsetto timbre. Mungongo lost his head entirely and seizing Bakuma,
began to drag her out of the tent. Birnier turned his head leisurely
towards him. Said he very loudly:

“It is not seemly to rape a woman in my presence, O Mungongo. Let her be,
for I will buy thee one.”

Mungongo ceased to pull at Bakuma’s arms and stared as if paralysed.
Birnier saw the eyes switch in a terrified glance at the warriors behind
him and heard Bakahenzie’s yell to kill.

For one moment he thought that indeed the end had come. Before he could
reach the rifle a dozen spears would be in his back. He sat motionless,
the _Anatomy of Melancholy_ still in his hand, and watched the gauge of
Mungongo’s eyes. Bakahenzie’s voice rose to a screech. Suddenly Birnier
wheeled round in his chair, snatched up the pencil and staring hard at
them, began to sketch faces on the open page of the book.

At the sight the warriors ceased their shuffling dance, were arrested with
the spears in their hands in as many poses. Bakahenzie’s scream was
stoppered as if by a hand upon his mouth. In the silence their heavy
breathing rivalled the twitter and hum of the forest. Birnier sketched
furiously, glaring portentously from the group to the paper. Bakahenzie
took a step forward, a nervous step, and yelled, “Kill!” but his voice
released those of the warriors. In one loud shout they cried:

“He bewitches us! He bewitches us!”

As Birnier bent his head to make another magic mark upon the magic book he
heard the rush of feet.

“They have fled!” squealed Mungongo, still clutching Bakuma.

Birnier sighed and dropped his pencil as he glanced up. Bakahenzie and the
warriors had disappeared, but by the fire squatted Marufa unconcernedly
scratching his skinny ribs.



                                CHAPTER 16


Changed was the City of the Snake, the place of kings. Upon the site where
had been the hive of huts wrapped in the green arms of the banana
plantation, laboured under the incandescent sun gangs of prisoners under
armed guards upon the building of larger huts laid out in streets, broad
and geometrical, lined with correct ditches for drainage. Around the
outskirts here and there remained charred posts.

Upon the hill of MKoffo was a palisade enclosing the barracks of two
companies of the askaris and two guns. No brown cones peeped like
candle-snuffers above the sea of green fronds upon the hills of the tombs
of kings, but from the sacred hill of Kawa Kendi commanding the approach
to the valley rose, black against the sky, the triangle of the roof frame
of a large bungalow; around the crown of the hill was a stout palisade
through which grinned in the sun the muzzles of a Nordenfeldt and a
pom-pom; and outside upon a levee strutted rigidly four sentries night and
day, a perpetual reminder to the passer-by below of efficient vigilance.

Within was a methodical formation of round huts dominated by a square one;
at the far end, and in solitary grandeur beneath the Imperial flag upon a
roughly-hewn flag-pole, was a green marquee tent, the temporary quarters
of the Kommandant.

Under the tent verandah at the rear where were his private quarters sat zu
Pfeiffer with a towel tucked around his neck upon which was scattered
inch-lengths of hair. Sergeant Schultz sheared deftly with clippers like a
reaper in a field of corn. When he had completed the final trimming behind
the ears, he stood aside with the air of an artist viewing his work.

“Is that pleasing to your Excellence?”

Zu Pfeiffer ran a hand around his skull.

“Ya, that is better and cooler, sergeant.”

With a professional air Schultz whisked around the Kommandant’s neck with
a light brush, untucked the towel and brushed him down. As zu Pfeiffer
rose Bakunjala appeared with a broom of small branches and a pan and
proceeded to sweep the earthen floor. Schultz neatly folded up the towel,
placed it on the chair, and stood at attention.

“Is that all, Excellence?”

“Ya, sergeant. Take a cigar.”

“Thank you, Excellence!”

The sergeant selected one, saluted and departed. Zu Pfeiffer lounged in a
basket chair. The usual water bag and syphon were suspended at his elbow
above sparklet and brandy bottles, and a box of cigars. Around him on the
floor was a litter of papers, envelopes and documents. On his wrist
sparkled the jewelled bracelet and between fingers, one of which bore the
large diamond which had earned him his native name, was an official
document bearing the Imperial Eagles.

As he read he smiled and patted his left moustache approvingly. Officially
the authorities would not comply with his request made before leaving
Ingonya for two more companies of askaris with white non-commissioned
officers and two more guns; but unofficially he was informed that they
would be supplied later and that the authorities were pleased. He picked
up a private letter and re-read it. Then he smiled again, a sneering twist
remaining at the corner of the mouth. Always he was informed by
sympathetic friends and an agency of the whereabouts and doings of
Lucille. On the 1st of August she had been due at Wiesbaden.

He threw the letter on the table with an irritable gesture and scowled as
he drank. The arrival of the mail always brought vivid regrets for the
glories and comforts he was missing by being condemned to war with “dirty
swines of niggers.” That was part of the penalty he had had to pay for
being a gentleman in a land of dollar grubbers, yet a matter to be written
up against the account of Lucille, the entzückend Lucille. He must have
been verrückt, he reflected savagely. The delicate lips softened in
ludicrous contrast to the brutal outline of a cropped skull. The blare of
a trumpet disturbed his reveries, reveries which were apt to rankle until
among his satellites went the word that the Eater-of-men was possessed by
the demon once more.

After he had elegantly finished a small cup of café cognac and a
cigarette, Sergeant Schultz strutted up, saluted, and at a nod from zu
Pfeiffer handed a document to the Kommandant, a roster of the chiefs who
had submitted with the approximate number of their followers. Officially
there were five chiefs with some six thousand men who had nominally
accepted the new ruler, each one of whom had to leave as hostage for his
fidelity a son, who lived under guard in the village beneath the guns.

Zu Pfeiffer needed the extra companies and white men to establish stations
at various points with the object of gradually extending the sphere of
military occupation. Zu Pfeiffer left nothing, as far as he could foresee,
to chance; his maxim was to conserve his force to the utmost, to attain
his objective at the least possible cost in men and material. The policy
of terrorisation was based on the reasoning that eventually
schrecklichkeit saved both the conqueror and the conquered bloodshed and
trouble; for if the enemy were not so impressed with the fact that all
resistance was utterly useless, he would resort to the sporadic risings
which would entail more slaughter on both sides. Zu Pfeiffer, acting on
the teachings of the German masters, sought to make war psychologically as
well as militarily, economically as well as geographically. Hence his
dramatic step in the overthrow of the idol in person, and the care with
which he planned to impress each chief and native with his omnipotence and
magic. This system of the application of political science as well as of
military science, of course, was sound, save for a temperamental error:
the lack of sufficient imagination to realize the unknown quantity of
chance, the inevitable mistake of military scientists who are loath to
admit the artist to their counsels, exemplified by men of genius, such as
Napoleon and Leonardo da Vinci, who were both mathematicians and artists.

In zu Pfeiffer’s case, as in others of his type, the motivating principle
was not bourgeois greed of material gain for himself; gain he could afford
to despise in his wealth; such would have been contrary to the code of a
gentleman. While he had not hesitated for a moment to destroy his rival,
Birnier, he would not touch with one finger any of his goods; for that
reason had he given permission to the corporal to take Birnier’s
equipment, so that he would not even be contaminated by the possession of
them, a temperamental error again which had led to Birnier’s escape.

The driving power in his caste and tribe was love of power to an excess
masked with portentous solemnity under the cloak of benefiting this people
and the peoples of the world; forcing them to have broad streets and
sanitary arrangements, compelling them to laugh, to sing, and to be happy
whether they would or no: an urge which is the curse of the world, the
impulse to interfere in other folk’s affairs, to teach them, to make them
to know the true God, the right way of living, the right way of doing
everything from the rising of the first sun of consciousness to that happy
crack of doom when our planet tries to enforce its orbit upon some other
planet.

Zu Pfeiffer pinched a cigar tip, lighted it meticulously and considered
the roster.

“Sergeant, this man—what’s the animal’s name? Kalomato—has his son
surrendered himself?”

“No, Excellence. The man says that he has fled the country.”

“Where does he come from?”

“The neighbourhood, Excellence.”

“That means that his son is with the rebels?”

“Probably not, Excellence. He is very young, they say.”

“That does not matter. Sequester all the chief’s property. If he won’t
give it up let the askaris deal with him. If that doesn’t work, have him
shot.”

“Excellence!”

For such obstinate cases zu Pfeiffer had fallen upon the custom of serving
two purposes by handing over the victim to the mercies of his askaris
which whetted their sadistic appetites and usually secured the desired
revelation of the whereabouts of the hidden ivory or other goods under the
torture of the burning feet, and divers other ingenious methods. Of late
this practice had proved so satisfactory that the mere threat was usually
sufficient.

“This man,” continued zu Pfeiffer tapping the roster with his long nail,
“his son is here?”

“Ja, Excellence.”

“Has he paid the tithe due?”

“No, Excellence. He refuses.”

“Have the son shot.”

“Excellence!”

“Any report this morning?”

“Ja, Excellence. A Wamungo spy brings news that a white man entered the
country from the south.”

“Description?”

“They say he is a trader, Excellence, coming from the Kivu direction, but
the savage cannot give any satisfactory description. It is the first white
he has seen, he says.”

“He won’t be the last!” snapped zu Pfeiffer with a twitch of the left
sentry moustache. “Saunders, possibly. If so he should be here shortly to
report. Well?”

“The King and the few men left with him are in hiding, Excellence, in
dense forest. They are demoralized and quarrel among themselves. Many are
coming to surrender, for they say that you, Excellence, have eaten their
god.”

“Ach!” said zu Pfeiffer with satisfaction. “What did I tell you,
sergeant?”

“Your Excellence was correct in every respect.”

“Um! Pity I can’t spare a company. That would settle them before they have
a chance to reorganize. Ach, but they haven’t the sense, the animals, to
do that.… Parade, sergeant.”

Schultz saluted.

“Ready, Excellence.”

Zu Pfeiffer rose, took up his gold-mounted sjambok, and the two walked
around the big marquee to the front where between the orderly lines of
huts those askaris not on duty were drawn up for inspection. The sergeant
barked. Bayonets flashed as they presented arms. Another bark and they
ported arms. Zu Pfeiffer walked down the line inspecting buttons, bolts,
and rifles as meticulously as he had lighted his cigar. The fifteenth
barrel he thrust away petulantly and flicked the askari’s face with his
sjambok. The muscles of the man’s face twitched as the blow came and the
eyes bulged, but he did not flinch.

“Twenty-five, sergeant!”

“Excellence!”

Zu Pfeiffer passed on. When the inspection was finished he stood rigidly
smoking, coldly watching Schultz dismiss the men. Then he stalked down the
hill with Schultz slightly in the rear, followed by a big black Munyamwezi
sergeant-major, towards the opposite hill, of MKoffo. But at the bottom of
where there were some half-constructed huts he paused.

“The women, sergeant?”

“The large hut, Excellence. Two hundred as ordered.”

“No women of chiefs?”

“No, Excellence. Those attending on the hostages are housed apart.”

Zu Pfeiffer strode towards the hut indicated which stood near to the edge
of a rased banana plantation. Two sentries without the fence presented
arms stiffly and remained immobile. Within the compound were some sixty or
more young girls, mostly having the black complexion of the slave type.
The chattering and giggling ceased as the tall form of the dreaded
Eyes-in-the-hands stood in the gate. A slight smile flirted his lips.

From the deep violet of the hut interior darted a young girl into the
sunlight. At the sight of the white men she poised on her toes, one foot
forward and hands extended as if about to whirl into a dance, staring with
the curiosity of a fawn.

Tall for a native maid, the light bronze of her immature breasts revealed
that she was of the Wongolo ruling caste. Around her slender neck was a
circlet of bright blue beads. As zu Pfeiffer stiffened and stared she
wheeled and fled into the hut.

“Gott im Himmel!” he muttered. “The body of Lucille in Carmen!”

“Who is that woman?” he demanded of Schultz.

“I don’t know, Excellence,” replied the sergeant and spoke to the black
sergeant-major. “She is the daughter of the chief Bamana, Excellence,
visiting these other women. I will have her removed.”

“I will not have the sense of caste abused,” said zu Pfeiffer, gazing into
the hut. “That is not policy. Have her sent to the fort, sergeant, and
placed under guard.”

“Excellence!”

Zu Pfeiffer swung on his heels and strode out and up the hill of MKoffo.
The inspection was more hurried than usual that day. Then he returned to
the hill of Kawa Kendi to hold court in the big marquee tent. After a
lunch and a long siesta in the heat of the noonday he strolled around the
village superintending the rasing of huts and the staking out of the new
village which was to rise upon the ashes of the old one, a concrete
example of the wisdom and power of the new lord, Eyes-in-the-hands.

Under squads of askaris gangs of prisoners, criminal and political, bound
by a light chain about each neck, laboured at clearing away charred stumps
and debris, while other natives portered in saplings and loads of grass,
each village which had submitted sending its allotted quota.

Trumpets blared. The keepers of the coughing monsters made magical dances
with their fire sticks up on the hill of Kawa Kendi. The black, white and
red totem of the conqueror fluttered to earth like a wounded bird. Night
closed like a black lid placed upon the steaming cauldron of the sun.

After dinner zu Pfeiffer sat in his private tent at the rear of the
marquee drinking brandy. Upon a camp table covered by a violet cloth was
the portrait in the ivory frame at which he gazed as he smoked. The blue
eyes and the feminine lips softened as sentimentally as any sex-starved
Puritan virgin; perhaps not in spite of, but because of, a mediæval code
as senseless as the native system of tabu, for natural emotions suppressed
find an outlet in some form.

From outside came the twitter and hum of the forest, the rhythm of frogs,
the dim bleating of a goat and the distant wailing of the women’s death
lament. Zu Pfeiffer drank and smoked and stared at the portrait in the
ivory frame. Once he slapped irritably at a mosquito which had escaped the
double net over the tent door. A wave of emotion seemed to well within
him. He looked as if he were about to blubber as leaning over the table he
peered intently at the pictured face and whispered:

     “Nur einmal noch möcht ich dich sehen,
     Und sinken vor dir aufs Knie
     Und sterbend zu dir sprechen:
     ‘Madam, ich liebe Sie!’ …

“Lucille! … Ach, Lucille!”

He drew himself back with a jerk, drank his brandy at a gulp and called
angrily:

“Bakunjala!”

The flutter of sand preceded a gasped:

“Bwana!”

Zu Pfeiffer gave him an irritable command. Four minutes elapsed during
which he gazed steadily at the portrait. He turned at the slither of feet.
Bright blue beads glittered in the lamplight as the daughter of Bamana
sank upon her heels.



                                CHAPTER 17


In his favourite seat by the door of his hut sat Zalu Zako waiting as
patiently as only a native can to see the white man, symbol of a
subconscious hope. The fact that Bakuma had not been found by the
emissaries of the bloodthirsty Bakahenzie evoked a sensation of pleasure
which was expressed merely in a feeling of well-being. Of her in person he
thought consciously little; his attitude was much as a white lover who
might discover his loved one to be a sister, and hence, by consanguinity,
barred from him for ever, a terrible fact of fate; but, lacking the
sentimental inhibition, Zalu Zako did not disguise the death wish because
she was denied him. Desires are simpler in the savage, yet the driving
motives are the same as in the “cultured” ex-animal overlaid with
generations of inhibitions—tabus—which form complex strata making the
truth more and more difficult to recognise. From that very obfuscation of
motives arises civilisation.

Then from the blue depths of the humid green came a great outcry, answered
by the ululation of the women in warning.

“Eyes-in-the-hands!” grunted Zalu Zako, voicing the perpetual fear of the
camp, as he leaped for his gun which Moonspirit had sent him.

Above the medley of sounds arose an articulate shout:

“He has bewitched our souls! He has bewitched our souls!”

Zalu Zako paused and listened; replaced the gun and squatted, resuming his
pose of dignity before the first man made entrance. For a few moments the
shrilling of the women and the wild jabber continued. Then entered a slave
followed by a warrior who, excitedly falling upon his knees, gasped out:

“He hath bewitched our souls! He hath bewitched our souls! Our spears were
blunted by his magic! Our swords were turned by the wall of his soul! He
is a mighty magician!”

“Of whom speakest thou, fool?”

As Zalu Zako put the question the tall figure of Bakahenzie stalked slowly
into the courtyard. The warrior rose and fled at a command from Zalu Zako.
Bakahenzie greeted him gravely and very elaborately took snuff in order to
show how casual the matter was. When he had meticulously restored the cork
of twisted leaves, he announced slowly:

“As I have prophesied the breaking of the sacred circle has delivered us
into the hands of the false magician, Eyes-in-the-hands. The daughter of
Bakala is even now at the camp of the white man, whom they call
Moonspirit.”

“Ehh!” commented Zalu Zako.

“The brother of Eyes-in-the-hands hath taken her in concubinage,”
continued Bakahenzie.

Zalu Zako made no response. Grimly approached Marufa and squatted beside
them.

“Even as I have prophesied,” commented Marufa, who never failed to seize
an opportunity of suggestion.

“I bade him render up the Bride of the Banana; but she hath bitten his
soul in his sleep. He held her in his arms. He breathed upon her so that
she would not obey. The magic of this brother of Eyes-in-the-hands hath
indeed rotted the livers of our people, for they fled like young jackals.”

“Eh!”

Zalu Zako stared cautiously at the compound fence; Marufa regarded
Bakahenzie’s left knee with interest. For fully five minutes no word was
said. Then Bakahenzie portentously:

“Tarum demands the brother of Eyes-in-the-hands, this Moonspirit, for if
one be taken then will the other, Eyes-in-the-hands, wither away and the
Unmentionable One will be revealed.”

“Thou hast spoken!” assented Marufa.

But Zalu Zako continued to stare blankly at the fence. His mind was aflame
for Bakuma. Bakahenzie had no suspicion of his passion, yet the fear of
his enmity acted like a douche of water in spite of the fact that the
implicit faith in the doctors had been weakened. But disbelief was not
positive enough to stimulate action. However, from the news of Bakuma’s
proximity, he had gotten strength to doubt the efficacy of Bakuma’s
sacrifice to restore the kingdom, a strength which prompted him to say:

“Who is he that has said that Moonspirit be the twin of Eyes-in-the-hands?
Enemies there are even among whites. If he be an enemy of
Eyes-in-the-hands and he be a great magician, as they say, then through
his magic may not Eyes-in-the-hands be slain?”

“He hath but young words,” asserted Bakahenzie stonily.

“But Mungongo, the son of Marula, saith that——”

“Dost thou ask an infant to teach thee to hunt?” retorted Bakahenzie.

“Doth a warrior ask his women to mend his wounds?” added Marufa, putting
in a gentle reminder that Zalu Zako was merely a chief and not of the
craft.

“He hath been exorcised, let him be brought and put to the test before
me,” persisted Zalu Zako.

“That may not be,” objected Bakahenzie, “for thou art not yet anointed.”

“But that which is necessary has not yet been done,” objected Zalu Zako
obstinately. “If he have no magic and his heart be not white, then let him
be doomed for the Feast of the Moon.” And gaining courage, added the royal
phrase: “I have spoken.”

The three sat motionless. The silence twittered and hummed. The shadows
swelled. Bakahenzie rose slowly and stalked away through the compound.
Zalu Zako watched his departure without remark or expression. After an
interval, Marufa also went.

Another person upon whom the news of the discovery had had a similar
reaction was MYalu. Her proximity released the primitive desire to go
forth and seize her. But such action was arrested by fear of the
consequences from his fellows to whom the tabu was still real, and of the
white man, Moonspirit. MYalu could never overcome the fiat of the
witch-doctors while he remained with them. Yonder—his decision to go with
Yabolo and Sakamata was clinched, but—he would take Bakuma with him.

Straight to the hut of Bakahenzie, who seemed to be expecting him, stalked
Marufa. Marufa squatted solemnly near to him. These catastrophic events
had caused a general unrest which had weakened the discipline of
superstition.

There are two types of magicians: those who are partially conscious
hypocrites, and those who are gulled by their own fakes; for he who makes
magic must be ever ready with an explanation of failure and very ingenious
in the making. The fool, believing in his own medicine, is as much
astounded at failure as the victim is angry. Bakahenzie and Marufa
belonged to the first class; yet being of their particular mental
development they were possessed of beliefs just as deeply as the most
credulous layman. That the wizard, personally, of his own individual power
could slay an enemy by incantation they did not believe; but that the
spirit of the Banana or of other inanimate objects could do so, they
believed most profoundly. Their creed was a form of pure animism; the
storms, the winds, the lightning, trees, rocks, rivers had separate and
conscious souls; other inanimate objects not included in an arbitrary
list, had unconscious souls, each and every one capable of doing mischief
or of good; hence the essence of religion in the act of imploring the good
offices of the most powerful spirits, or in moments of exasperation of
threatening them with dire punishments. Their hypocrisy lay not in
disbelief but in pretending to the people that their intercession with the
gods was infallible; they knew only too well that the said gods would
seldom incline an ear to the magician.

Of course nearly every doctor had a slightly different dogma, usually
based upon an incorrect deduction from a false premise. One doctor would
place all his confidence in the spirit of the Banana—the most popular
spirit; and another in the spirit of the river, because out of a dozen
times that he had implored aid, five “miracles” at least had been
vouchsafed, therefore, argued he, the spirit of the river is the true and
most powerful god. The arguments of others were equally unsound as they
were dominated by some hidden desire, much as reputable scientists, while
rejecting phenomena accepted by the populace, cling fatuously to a belief
in spooks in order to satisfy a subconscious desire for immortality, fear
of death.

Hence the confusion in the heart of Bakahenzie. To him it appeared that
the spirits had deserted him entirely; to him it seemed that perhaps these
white men had indeed the true “magic,” the art of controlling the spirits
to their will. This terror had urged him to the destruction of the white
man, Moonspirit. Now Zalu Zako had mutinied, and being unaware of the
powerful impulse from which Zalu Zako had gotten this sudden strength,
Bakahenzie attributed it to the magic influence of Moonspirit. At any
cost, he argued, must Zalu Zako and the white man be kept apart.

But other pressing points were how to accomplish the slaughter of the
white man, and what he should do now after the attempt to kill him had
failed. Either Moonspirit would flee, which would be most happy proof to
Bakahenzie that he was an impostor and no magician, or he would seek
revenge immediately. No other action was conceivable to Bakahenzie.
Therefore in such a case the obvious act was to strike the quicker. He
contemplated his colleague without looking at him. What was his attitude?
Bakahenzie, on general principles, was suspicious. If Marufa thought that
by supporting the white man he might be able to attain Bakahenzie’s
overthrow and gain the position of chief witch-doctor, he would do it,
even as he, Bakahenzie, would have done in his place. Therefore upon these
matters did he talk very guardedly with Marufa, who was unusually
reticent. However, after communing with himself in sphinx-like gravity,
Marufa assented to the proposal that Zalu Zako be isolated in the godhood
immediately.

So the slow rhythmic beat, which was the summons to the craft to assemble,
throbbed in the clammy air. Before the humid shadows had lengthened a
hand’s breadth, were some twenty wizards, greater and lesser, fully
dressed in the green feathers of the order, collected within the compound
of Bakahenzie. Silently and woodenly they squatted in a half circle before
the chief witch-doctor, each and every one excited by the marvellous
stories circulated by the warriors returned from the camp of Moonspirit,
stories which amply corroborated the tales of Mungongo. Those who
supported Bakahenzie’s party believed implicitly, because they wished so
to do, the “reason” for the impotence of their united magic to be the
breaking of the magic circle by Bakuma. But others who cherished personal
ambitions for the head witch-doctorship were suspicious of each other and
of Bakahenzie, each one according to his grade and consequent knowledge in
the craft.

When the drum had ceased and they sat in impressive silence, Bakahenzie,
squatting motionless on the threshold of his hut, began to mutter
incantations and to rock from side to side. Now every one of the inner
cult knew well enough that this performance was merely a ceremony
prescribed by tradition and expediency; yet for that very reason and
particularly for the benefit of the lesser wizards, they solemnly accepted
it, grunting in chorus as heartily as the others to the chant of
Bakahenzie. As suddenly as dramatically, Bakahenzie stopped with eyes
staring upon another world and fell upon his back, to scream and to writhe
realistically as practice assured him. Then when the mouth was flecked
with foam, the spirit of Tarum spake through the rigid body which lay as
in catalepsy with eyes inverted:

  “Aie! Aie! I am the spirit of Kintu!
  Aie! Aie! I am he who first was!
  Aie! Aie! I am the banana from whom I was made!
  Aie! Aie! The time of the nuptial draweth nigh!
  Aie! Aie! But where is the bride of my bed?
  Aie! Aie! Let her be found and prepared!
  Aie! Aie! For my lips are athirst for her blood!
  Aie! Aie! Let the son of the Snake be anointed!
  Aie! Aie! Let him be ready to assist at my feast!
  Aie! Aie! I have spoken, I, the father of Men!
  Aie! Aie! I, Tarum, the soul of your ancestors!”

From the assembly came the low belly grunt of acceptance, for they were,
by suggestion, infected with the induced hysteria almost as much as the
superb actor himself; they believed; even the members of the inner cult
were convinced for the moment that indeed the mighty spirit of their
ancestors was speaking.

Slowly, with many prodigious grunts and twists, did Bakahenzie’s soul
return to his body. He sat up and after a long pause said impressively:

“What hath He said unto you?”

And Marufa, as solemnly, related all that He had said.

“Eh!” said Bakahenzie tonelessly, “it is even as I have prophesied. These
indeed are the words of wisdom. Is it not so, O my brethren?” Again came
the low grunt of assent. “Let us obey, that these foul spirits may pass
and the Unmentionable One return unto his children!”

Then, according to custom, all save those of the inner cult arose and went
forth silently. In the heart of Yabolo, as he squatted as expressionless
as the others, was satisfaction, for he saw, or thought he saw, that
Eyes-in-the-hands would be pleased with the destruction of a man who might
possibly become his rival; and on that principle imagined himself
introduced by his relative, Sakamata, to Eyes-in-the-hands as the slayer,
or initiator of the slaying, of his rival, Moonspirit. That Zalu Zako
should be anointed King-God suited him as well as the other wizards and
for the same reason. Therefore Yabolo for once raised no objection to the
behests of Bakahenzie.

Already from the encampment rose the excited voices of the warriors who
had been informed of the decision of the assembly of wizards. But the
shadows were long. The forest was even more thickly peopled with spirits
than their own park-like country. One of the inner cult of five suggested
that the attack be made at dawn; but Bakahenzie, still baited by
uncertainty regarding the reality of the magic of Moonspirit and the
possible influence of Zalu Zako now that he had apparently developed a
will of his own before they could shut him up in the godhead, was for
immediate action, and insisted that they call together the warriors and
make special magic to protect them from the forest demons. Yabolo, as
anxious as Bakahenzie, became his ally in urging that this be done. But
Marufa was not at all of this way of thinking. While the fate of Zalu Zako
was quite immaterial, his attitude to Moonspirit was much the same as the
young man’s, but prompted by a different motive; a power possible to
utilize for his benefit. But he said no word, listening indifferently
apparently to the throbbing of the drums summoning the warriors. When the
inner circle broke up he stalked solemnly to his own hut, but when he was
within he took from a gourd a special amulet, slipped through a hole in
the palisade behind the hut, and disappeared into the forest.



                                CHAPTER 18


Meanwhile the object of Bakahenzie’s political perplexities was also
holding a council of war. Mungongo and Bakuma were divided in opinion. The
former had recovered his complete confidence in Moonspirit. After the
repulse of the greatest magician and his warriors he became filled with a
martial ardour and strongly advocated advancing upon the village
immediately. Birnier smiled and considered. As a matter of fact the plan
was not so utterly insane as it appeared. Did he follow up swiftly upon
the heels of the terror-stricken warriors the probability was that the
whole camp would be infected by the spirit of panic and bolt. However, he
could not see any object to be attained by stampeding the village.
Mungongo, ever eager for a miracle, urged that Moonspirit should take upon
him the spirit form and descend upon them at night. To his disgust
Moonspirit refused, so Mungongo retired to the fire and consoled himself
by another vivid description of the powers of his master—growing every
day!—to Bakuma, who sat and listened dully with ever an anxious eye and
ear upon the forest trail.

Bakuma was obsessed by terror inspired by the fact that Bakahenzie had
discovered her presence; the inherent awe of the witch-doctor which had
been temporarily allayed by the presence of the white, was revived, as
well as the inevitability of her doom. Only the strict injunctions of
Moonspirit prevented her fleeing through the jungle to take refuge in some
distant goatherd village. She was convinced the wizard would soon find out
where she had gone; for she was persuaded that Bakahenzie had discovered
her former hiding place by magic divination, maintaining as proof that
although she had been as usual completely hidden in the undergrowth,
Bakahenzie had walked directly to her.

Birnier foresaw that the situation might become serious. Bakahenzie’s
attitude was one of suspicion based, he guessed correctly, on professional
jealousy. The finding of Bakuma had probably been more of an excuse to
assail the possible rival and thus to satisfy this subconscious death
wish. Now, reckoned Birnier, Bakahenzie would probably be more exasperated
than ever at the triumph of the said rival’s magic. He would therefore,
knowing the strength of the driving force of religious conviction,
endeavour to play upon the emotions of the tribe by advocation of the
efficacy of appeasing their fallen god by the sacrifice of the girl, and
so work them up to an exalted state of fanaticism to attack in force; an
additional stimulant to such action on their part would be the unconscious
satisfaction in slaying the “brother” of the one who had invaded their
country, Eyes-in-the-hands.

Another point was that the more a person is scared the less easy it is for
him to forgive, hence the greater resistance to the overtures of amity.
Beyond the partially formed idea to overset zu Pfeiffer’s petty
sovereignty was the strictly professional one of studying from the most
intimate view-point possible a system of primitive theology of a most
complex and illuminating kind. The main object to be attained therefore
was resolved by the best method calculated to win the friendship and
confidence of all concerned, particularly of Bakahenzie. To Birnier, who
was not as yet conversant with the system, Bakahenzie seemed of less
importance than Zalu Zako, the King-God, or potential King-God. Yet
apparently he could not hope to approach Zalu Zako without overcoming the
opposition offered by Bakahenzie. To give up little Bakuma to the
sacrificial orgy was unthinkable; such an act would have appeared to him
tantamount to sacrificing the girl to attain his own ends.

For precaution he placed two of his men as pickets in the jungle to give
warning of any surprise, although he did not consider that they would be
likely to renew the attack that day; then, as usual when in difficulties,
he retired to his tent for a smoke. As he browsed upon his estimable
friend Burton, his eyes caught a paragraph upon cures for love melancholy
recommended by the amiable doctor.



“Lemnius, imstit. cap 58. admires rue and commends it to have excellent
virtues, to expel vain imaginations, devils and to … Other things are much
magnified by writers, as an old cock, a ram’s head, a wolf’s heart borne
or eaten, which Mercurialis approves: Prosper Altinus, the water of the
Nile; Gomesius, all sea water, and at seasonable times to be sick … the
bone in a stag’s heart, a monocerot’s horn …”



He glanced up to see Bakuma squatting disconsolately by the fire listening
to the hundredth repetition of his wonder working according to Mungongo.
The outline of her rounded back and hunched shoulders, the bronze hands
clasped beneath the chin and the misty brown eyes apprehensively regarding
the trail was a sculpture of melancholy. He smiled as he reflected that
the devils and witches of Chrysostom and Paracelsus were as real to them
as the forest spirits and the magic of Bakahenzie to this girl. After all
some of these concoctions sounded as if they should most certainly appeal
to Bakahenzie and his brethren of the craft. He wandered off into a
reverie, wondering why it was that superstition is so hard to eradicate
from the human mind. In Birnier was a strain of humorous melancholy which
appreciated the comedy of human marionettes made to dance to the legion of
devils and bugaboos invented by themselves, and as a stimulant to the
dominant scientific absorption was the knowledge that upon him and his
fellows depended their only hope of release—which was the greater reason
that Bakahenzie should slay him, he added whimsically, did he but know it!

Moved by the ever-present curiosity to know what was going on inside other
people’s minds, he called Bakuma and Mungongo to him, observing the
sprightly action of the boy moved by his faith in him for his good in
contrast to the dull movements of the girl in her lack of confidence to
make for her good. And when they were come to him and were seated on the
ground at his feet he said to Bakuma:

“Wherefore hast thou the black bird within thy breast, O Bakuma?”

She gazed up at him with the pathetic pleading of a gazelle.

“Do not birds seek the broken twigs for the building of nests, O
Moonspirit?”

“Truly, but why are the branches of thy tree rotted and broken?”

“When the axe of the peasant pecks at the roots of the tree dost thou
think then that the sap runs the more swiftly, knowing?”

“A devil hast told thee this thing, O Bakuma. When the sun was but a man’s
height did not a jackal break out of the forest seeking to devour, and yet
the chicken was neither hurt nor taken. Are these not white words?”

“Truly, O Moonspirit,” acknowledged Bakuma reluctantly.

“Was not then the magic of Moonspirit more potent than that of thy
wizards?”

“Thy words are white,” she admitted.

“Wherefore then hast thou ashes in thy mouth?”

Bakuma dismally contemplated Birnier’s booted leg.

“Eh!” grunted the sophisticated Mungongo, “to those who live on the
mountain the crocodile is not!”

“Open thy breasts unto me, O Bakuma,” said Birnier.

“Clk!” she gasped, making a little gesture of hopelessness. “When the sun
shines are not the flowers open? But when the night hath come where are
the flowers? The deer feed on sweet pastures, but when the shadow of the
lion falleth upon the grass hath not a great cloud come over the world?”

“But thy lion hath fled, O Bakuma!”

She gazed at the white man with curious wonderment at the stupidity of one
failing to comprehend the simplest problem. She sighed and then as if with
much patience for another’s shortcomings:

“Thou hast strong magic, O white man,” said she, “magic that makes the
magic of Bakahenzie to fall as water. Yet was the daughter of Bakala not
found by divination? Was the daughter of Bakala not revealed to be the
bride of the Banana by divination? There shall be made magic that the
voice of the one shall be obeyed. Eh! Aiee! Aie!”

The brown eyes welled opals which splashed upon a bronze breast. As
Birnier watched her, pity stimulated a desire to relieve this symbol of
self-torture, and he thought of a favourite passage in the “Anatomy”:



“Ay, but we are more miserable than others, what shall we do? Beside
private miseries, we live in perpetual fear and danger; for epithalamiums,
for pleasant music, that fearful noise of ordnance, drums, and warlike
trumpets still sounding in our ears; instead of nuptial torches, we have
the firing of towns and cities; for triumph, lamentations; for joy,
tears.”



“Well, Bakuma,” said he in English, smiling covertly, “we’ll see if we
can’t get you the nuptial torches!”

Bakuma gazed at him perplexedly with big eyes.

“Already Moonspirit begins the incantation of mighty magic,” explained
Mungongo solemnly.

“Eh!” murmured Bakuma expectantly.

Birnier smoked and pondered. The walls of the forest were growing closer
in the beginning of twilight. The soul of fear, reflected Birnier, dwells
in the unknown. Reveal the god in the machine and the mystery dies. To
Bakuma he said:

“Listen, O Bakuma, I would speak heavy words to thee. When thou puttest
the seed of the gourd into the ground then within half a moon there
appears the plant of the gourd; is it not so?”

“Truly,” answered Bakuma disinterestedly.

“Is that then magic?”

“Eh!” commented Bakuma, as in astonishment. “Nay, how could that be? Does
not the soul of the plant grow even as a child grows?”

“Good. Turn thine eyes to me.” Bakuma watched the operation of striking
and lighting a match with indifference. “Then is this fire which I make
done by magic?”

“Truly.”

“And thou, Mungongo, what thinkest thou?”

“Moonspirit tickles the souls of my feet!”

“H’m.” Birnier repressed a smile. “Thou knowest that my words are white?”

“Truly.”

“Then I tell thee that this is not done by magic.”

“Ehh! Ehh!” chorused the twain.

“This thing on the end of this thing which you call a magic fire twig is
made of—of—is made of several kinds of—of earth found in the—earth, and
when—and when——” He sought frantically for native words which were not,
“the two are brought together—as one strikes a spear——” Birnier hesitated,
finding himself as perplexed as a psychologist endeavouring to explain the
abstract working of consciousness in concrete words. “When one strikes a
spear upon a rock there is an eye of fire, is it not so?”

Mungongo’s eyes dimly reflected a growing horror. Bakuma stared.

“The magic of Bakahenzie,” murmured Mungongo.

“Already is his soul bewitched,” muttered Bakuma.

“Is it not so?” persisted Birnier.

“Aye,” admitted Mungongo, moving uneasily and speaking as if humouring a
dangerous lunatic. “It is the eye of the angry spirit of the rock.”

Birnier saw his danger and made another effort.

“Even so. Also thou knowest that thou canst make fire by the rubbing
together of two sticks. Is that then magic also?”

“Truly,” continued Mungongo in the same tone. “Can the spirits of the
souls of the twigs be summoned without the incantations by the Keeper of
Fires?”

“O my God!” groaned Birnier, sotto voce, and he abandoned the effort to
explain combustion. “Thus is it then with these that ye call the magic
fire twigs.”

“Even as we have said,” asserted Mungongo triumphantly.

Birnier lapsed into silent defeat. Bakuma began to edge away. As Mungongo
rose came a stifled scream from Bakuma who sprang to her feet and dashed
towards the tent; then as if recollecting that her saviour had been
bewitched by Bakahenzie, fled into the gloom beyond. Mungongo had seized a
spear stuck in the earth near to him. As appeared the wizened figure of
Marufa, who saluted as he squatted in the native manner, Birnier
recollected that he had been with Bakahenzie and wondered what he wanted.
Mungongo replaced his spear and came to the tent.

“Greeting, O son of MTungo!”

Marufa mumbled the orthodox return.

“Thou hast need of Moonspirit?” demanded Mungongo, some of his officious
confidence in Birnier returning.

“Doth the leopard go to the goat pen to seek nuts?” grumbled the old man.
He tapped out snuff slowly and grunted.

Presently said Marufa:

“Moonspirit is the brother of Eyes-in-the-hands?”

“Nay,” answered Birnier, wondering at the persistency of this idea.
“Eyes-in-the-hands is of another tribe ten moons distant from Moonspirit.”

Marufa grunted. Another long pause. Then:

“The magic of Moonspirit hath blunted the spears of Bakahenzie?”

“Even so,” said Birnier modestly.

“The son of Maliko maketh much magic that the bride of the Banana be taken
from the white stranger.”

“The monkey makes many faces and much noise, but does he eat up the
leopard?”

“The bite of the spear is more deadly than the bleat of a goat,” retorted
Marufa.

“Doth the wise man eat the heart of a goat to gain courage?”

“The louder the lion roars the less teeth has he!”

“But only the fool opens his mouth to see how many he has!”

“The wise father examines the grain of the tusks before he sells his
daughter.”

“But the wise man sees the daughter before he offers the tusks!”

“Ugm!”

Marufa took more snuff and contemplated the interior of the tent where a
native was lighting a lamp. Birnier reflected. Evidently Marufa had come
with an object and had inferred that he had something to bargain about.
What was it? Also he wanted to be sure that he was setting his trap at the
right pool. Birnier decided that he was probably acting on his own
initiative and willing to conspire against Bakahenzie. An impulse to
experiment upon him as he had upon Mungongo and Bakuma was repressed, for
from the previous effort he had cemented the conclusion that it was
impossible to explain rational phenomena to irrational minds; that as ever
the adventurous champion of reason would be either regarded as insane or
inspired; that which is not comprehended is divine or ridiculous. However,
through Marufa might come a suggestion for the tactics of campaign to gain
the good-will of Bakahenzie or Zalu Zako and the attainment of his
scientific object—as well as to give Bakuma the torches he had promised
her. Whether I will or no, he reflected smiling in the dark, must I be
either a magician or a fool. Fools get nowhere; witch-doctors do here as
elsewhere. He saw that in order to influence these peoples or any others,
he had perforce to work in terms of their own understanding, as the early
Christian missionaries practised in their conversion of the Teutons, the
Scandinavians and the Britons. A nucleus of a plan had been given by
Mungongo’s impetuous suggestion. He decided to develop it. But through
Marufa, who first of all must be impressed with the fact that Moonspirit
was the greatest magician the world had ever seen. So therefore he called
to the native within: “O Bakombi, put out the light.” And to Marufa: “O
wise man, thunder has not always lightning. Behold! I am part of that
which is and is not!”

“Clk!”

A click of astonishment was squeezed from Marufa by the chance mystic
phrase which was interpreted by him as referring to the Unmentionable One.

Then taking out his metal box of vestas Birnier moistened one. As he
rubbed around his eyes Marufa, who was expecting a miracle, observed the
growing phosphorescence in stoical calm, while Mungongo, delighted at the
long deferred proof of his boasts, grunted admiringly.

But when a glowing skeleton hand, which Birnier had prepared behind his
back, hovered over the old wizard’s head, he grunted and made a slight
convulsive movement.

“Have no fear, O my friend,” came Birnier’s voice, “the spirit loves my
friends and destroys my enemies.”

That belly grunt had registered the degree of impression that Birnier
sought. So he lighted the lamp, bade the excited Mungongo to bring out the
phonograph, a machine adjusted with the recording cylinders as well as the
reproduction, and after a successful demonstration of magic, discussed
with Marufa a certain scheme to which the old wizard, quick to see the
possibilities, afforded many invaluable suggestions.



                                CHAPTER 19


When Zalu Zako was notified of the verdict of the Council and the words of
Tarum the sense of the inevitable returned, extinguishing the spark of
rebellion that had been kindled by his passion for Bakuma. To Bakahenzie,
or to the wizards separately, or collectively, he had had the strength to
voice his own desires, but to the veritable voice of Tarum was no
resistance dared. He was bidden to preside by right and precedent at the
anointing of the warriors. He did not make any feint at refusal, for his
will was crushed, as it had been weeks before by the doom of godhood and
celibacy.

Beyond the fact that Bakuma would soon be forbidden to him for ever, he
did not think; desire was strangled. Even the recollection that Bakahenzie
had stated that Moonspirit had taken her gave him no reaction. To him as
to his brethren, while in physical love is bound up the control of the
universe, because it is vaguely apprehended as a creative force, it is of
no importance to the individual lover unless he be guilty of breaking the
sexual tabu: if the girl is not a consenting party to the illicit union
then she is free; if she is, then it is death to both of them, for as
every one knows, such criminal action endangers the balance of the burden
of the world upon the shoulders of the King-God. Thus it was that the
words of Bakahenzie had produced no reaction against Moonspirit in the
mind of Zalu Zako; indeed, if the words were true and he could yet obtain
Bakuma, she might have a son by the white which would obviously bring the
marvellous power of white magic to his successor, the next King-God; and
possibly, had mused Zalu Zako, dimly straining at such a radical thought
against the influence of the priesthood, make the king more powerful a
magician than the witch-doctors themselves.

But he obeyed the mandate and took his place as bidden. Bakahenzie had
caused preparation to be begun immediately for the ceremony of making
enchantment against the spirits of the night. In the circle of cleared
ground, where sat the temporary Council of Elders, big fires were lighted
as the dark wall of the forest drew in upon them. Bakahenzie squatted
before a big calabash, specially reserved and enchanted for the making of
magic, in which a mess of certain herbs whose spirits were violent haters
of the demons of all trees, rocks and streams, were to be released from
the vegetable bondage by stewing that they might be distributed among the
warriors for the night assault. These warriors, some fifty chosen from the
followers of Bakahenzie and Marufa, sat on their hams within the circle of
fires, uneasily casting glances behind them at the deepening sepia, from
whence arose the nocturnal chant of the spirits of the forest. In order to
insure no interference from malign animals, Bakahenzie caused to be
brought a pure white goat whose throat was cut and bled into the cauldron;
for as any one knows, that soul which is white must necessarily fight well
against anything that be black. Yet in spite of this potent magic the
warriors grew unquiet; they felt, rather than thought, that if the magic
of their witch-doctors had failed against one white why should it succeed
against another like unto him? And their faith thus weakened, doubts
regarding the efficacy of the same magic against spirits of the forest
bred as mosquitoes after rain.

Bakahenzie remarked the uneasiness, but the stronger grew his need to
restore the waning confidence in his powers by removing the white; the
blood desire had now been transferred from Bakuma to Moonspirit as the
most effective demonstration possible to him.

The fires smouldered and flickered yellow tongues upon the greens of the
warriors’ bodies and the blues of the wizards’ head-dresses. Faint blue
vapour swirled around the scarlet feather above Bakahenzie’s graven face
as he muttered incantations and stirred the cauldron. Then as the drums
throbbed and the warriors grunted rhythmically to Bakahenzie’s song of
enchantment came a squawk as of a parrot. The chant ceased. Branches
rustled. Every head quirked automatically towards the sound. Came a low
belly grunt of terror as if an invisible hand had punched them in their
solar plexus.

Just in the shadow line where the glow of the fires faintly tinted and
greened the curves of his bronze body against the sepia of his feathers,
appeared the figure of Marufa, his spear lifted on high as he cried out in
a loud voice:

“Greetings, O people of the Banana, I bring you tidings of him who is and
is not, of him who was lost and yet is come. ‘Behold, I show you a sign!’”

Against the gloom his left arm and hand glowed with a strange light. An
unanimous “Ehh!” rose from the assembled warriors and wizards alike.

“Raise your ears!” continued Marufa, “that the Voice may speak unto you!”

In the silence came a subdued click and commenced a high-pitched voice in
the dialect:

  “Aie! Aie! I am the spirit of Kintu!
  Aie! Aie! I am he who first was!
  Aie! Aie! I am the Banana from whom I was made!”

Whites of eyes glimmered like butterflies in starlight. Nothing was
visible. The voice appeared to rise from every direction. The new miracle
petrified the limbs of all.

  “Aie! Aie! My soul is defiled and my children enslaved!
  Aie! Aie! My face hath been scratched by an alien claw!
  Aie! Aie! I send you the revenge which is white!
  Aie! Aie! I send you the One who is bidden!
  Aie! Aie! Let that One arise who is I!
  Aie! Aie! The mighty One who will blot out the curse!
  Aie! Aie! I have spoken, I, the Father of Men!
  Aie! Aie! I, Tarum; the soul of your Ancestors!”

A faint whirr as of wings was drowned in the automatic grunt of acceptance
squeezed from all the warriors and the wizards by the sacred chant, except
those of the inner circle. In dread sat the warriors of the terrible magic
of their doctors which they had once doubted. But the minds of Bakahenzie,
Yabolo, and the other two master craftsmen were stunned. The phenomenon of
the glowing hand had they never seen before, but they recollected the
stones of Mungongo. Even was Sakamata, sophisticated to the wonders of
Eyes-in-the-hands, impressed and bewildered. Dormant awe for the
Unmentionable One was awakened in every one of them. Zalu Zako felt that
his doom was upon him; that the Unmentionable One was about to call him to
his duty, which invoked fear for the sacrilege he had committed in
entertaining such radical thoughts in the immediate past. But in
Bakahenzie was a streak of suspicion; how was it that Marufa was thus
chosen as the divine messenger? Yet perhaps the veritable god was, or gods
were, speaking! Doubt held him silent.

“O my brethren, would ye that we seek the voice of the Unmentionable One?”
cried Marufa.

“Ough! Ough!” grunted the wizards.

Marufa stalked slowly to the nearest fire, muttering a spell. From his
loin cloth he took the three digital bones of an enemy and proceeded to
discover the whereabouts by geomancy. And behold! the fingers pointed in
one direction which all could see. Oblivious to the tight indifference of
Bakahenzie the old man rose and began to gyrate, mumbling incantations,
towards a thicket of grass on the fringe of the undergrowth, holding aloft
the magic bones in the glowing hand. Anxiously the assembly watched the
skinny figure, half bent, glide out from the glow of the fires into the
blue shadows. A small log collapsed, throwing a red gleam upon the form
poised upright before the clump of grass as Marufa cried out:

“Let him who-may-not-be-mentioned speak that his children may hear!”

Immediately commenced a high voice chanting:

“Take up, O Marufa, the wise, the pod of my soul!”

Then in the sight of every man Marufa bent upon his knees, muttering, and
arose unharmed. Save for the slow turn of each head the better to follow
the progress of the magician no limb nor muscle moved as in silence Marufa
bore the like of which had never before been seen; a thing like unto a
stone, having an ear almost as large and as erect as an angry elephant,
the colour of a lion yet hairless. “The pod of the soul” Marufa placed
within the circle of the fires so that all should see. More incantations
did Marufa make, sitting fearlessly; he caressed it as a young man
caresses a maid and came forth again the voice of Tarum:

  “Rejoice, O my children, for he that is bidden shall come!
  Rejoice, O ye warriors, for he that shall lead you shall come!
  Rejoice, O ye wizards, for he that is greater than ye shall come!
  Rejoice, O ye women, for he that fertilizes shall come!
  He shall eat up your enemies as a lion eateth buck.
  He shall make your dead to be seen and your phantoms to talk!
  He shall give to your women to have sons of your breed!
  He shall give you that which was slain on the hill!
  He that walks in a flame in the night!
  He that is whiter than the flesh of the baobab!
  He shall come forth bearing that which ye seek!
  He shall come forth bearing that which is yours!
  Hear me, my people, and give voice to my word!”

“Ough! Ough!” came the chorus of assent.

Not a limb nor a hand moved among the concourse of warriors and wizards
until a new voice, deep, as one who commands, cried out:

“Let the son of Kawa Kendi, the son of MFunya MPopo, the son of MKoffo,
move not; neither he nor Marufa, the son of MTungo! Unto ye others we say
unto you, depart that we speak in peace with this our son and priest!”

And simultaneously appeared in the gloom of the undergrowth three pairs of
eyes as luminous as the glowworm, vaster than any human; and beside the
souls of the dead King-Gods were terrible hands. Warriors and wizards, all
save Bakahenzie and Zalu Zako, literally leaped for the forest and village
in one convulsive bound and grunt. Zalu Zako had remained upon the ground,
green with terror. Bakahenzie stood upright, his scarlet feather
fluorescent in the fire-glow. The anthem of the forest was only broken by
the rustle of branches and the breathing of Zalu Zako and Bakahenzie. A
harsh voice cried:

“Begone, Bakahenzie, son of a dog! Lest we take thy soul to be with us!”

The eyes appeared to float nearer; hands pointed menacingly. Bakahenzie
boggled; hesitated; then the dignity of his pose melted into the graceful
bounds of a fleeing leopard. Even for the professional ghost manipulator,
such a phenomenon of the spirits, with whom he was supposed to be on
familiar terms, was demoralizing. But half-way through a thicket of
undergrowth, where he could no longer see the horrific eyes, his courage
began to return.

To his ears came a new voice chanting:

  “Sweeter than warm honey is the scent of my man!
  Fiercer than scorpions is the grip of his hand!
  Whiter than a spear flash is the gleam of his teeth!
  Smoother than river stone is the feel of his chest!
                 Bakuma rejoices!”

Peering through the interstices Bakahenzie could see the gleam of the fire
upon the bangles of the Son-of-the-Snake and the blue flash upon his spear
as he melted into the forest wall.



                                CHAPTER 20


The actual sight of spirits from ghostland, of which hitherto they had
only heard, had been too much for the nerves of the tribe already
overstrung by the overthrow of the idol and the magic and slaughter of zu
Pfeiffer; the warriors had fled like scared poultry to the jungle, up
trees, in the undergrowth and in their huts, where they cowered among
their women and slaves, reading awful omens and portents in every sound of
the forest.

The phenomenon had been just as startling and awe-inspiring to Bakahenzie
as it had been to his most ignorant dupe. His belief in ghostland was
implicit, but now he had seen what, professionally, he was supposed to see
and converse with on familiar terms. As Zalu Zako disappeared he continued
to listen intently. Above the slight rustle of the bushes as the
Son-of-the-Snake moved through the undergrowth rose a feminine laugh.
Bakahenzie’s liver was squeezed by that sardonic chuckle; for, as is well
known, female demons are much more malignant than the male. For the space
of a chant he remained crouching there, curiosity and the dread of
revealing his terror to his fellows tugging at his feet and fear of the
demons clutching him around the waist. Save the anthem of the forest no
further sound of the ghosts was audible.

Cautiously rose Bakahenzie, wriggled out of his nest and with as much
dignity as maybe, strode back to the fire. From the village came a slight
whimpering. With satisfaction Bakahenzie noted that no one else was in
sight. For another space he sat with unquiet eyes and ears upon the
forest. Then gathering courage as nothing happened, he pondered upon what
attitude he should assume.

Yabolo stalked from round a hut and squatting calmly beside Bakahenzie,
nonchalantly proceeded to tap out snuff and offered some to Bakahenzie,
who grunted acceptance and sniffed with even greater indifference.
Motionless they continued to sit and silently. Bakahenzie wondered whether
Yabolo knew that he, too, had fled, and Yabolo, who did know, waited for
the first move on Bakahenzie’s part to retort.

Yabolo, indeed, who had been as panic-stricken as Bakahenzie, was more
suspicious in view of the accounts he had heard of the magic of
Eyes-in-the-hands. Who knew but this vision might not be another
manifestation of Eyes-in-the-hands? And more slowly a similar idea began
to occur to Bakahenzie, save that he had in mind the incident of
Moonspirit’s magic in the face of his bravest warriors. The calmer he
became the more was he inclined to accept this explanation of the
apparitions; such was infinitely more comforting to him than the
conception that they had been in truth spirits from ghostland. As the
doubt grew the wisdom of propitiating this powerful Moonspirit became
apparent; yet was present the dread of loosing what remained of his
autocratic power. The problem now was to enlist the white and discover
some means of controlling him and his magic.

But to both men the vital question was, what had become of Zalu Zako?
There were two alternatives: if the visions had been genuine ghosts, then
undoubtedly Zalu Zako was dead; but if they had been produced through the
magic of a white man, then, Bakahenzie argued, Zalu Zako and Marufa must
be in league with Moonspirit, and Yabolo opined that Zalu Zako had been
captured by Eyes-in-the-hands. To the latter the effect was to strengthen
the determination to go over to Eyes-in-the-hands. If the first
possibility was correct the greater need had he of strong magic if real
ghosts were taking to walking abroad visibly, and the other case merely
proved beyond question the invincible magic of Eyes-in-the-hands. But to
Bakahenzie the reaction was slightly different, for his elemental reason
took him a little farther than Yabolo by pointing out that in all his wide
experience never had spirits taken demons’ shape, so that the suspicion
that they had been due to Moonspirit became more plausible, and was
supported by the recollection of Marufa’s unexplained absence and sudden
reappearance on familiar terms with the spirits.

The longer he pondered on the strange actions of Marufa the more he was
persuaded that that wily colleague was acting upon sound information, and
the tangle of his affairs made him so desperate that he decided to gamble
upon that assumption: for magician Bakahenzie began to realize that Marufa
had somehow scored a point and that now was approaching the crux which
would determine whether he won back or lost for ever that which was the
essence of life to him.

Meanwhile the two puzzled plotters sat motionless and silent as if
mutually agreeing that no question regarding each other’s late movements
had better be asked.

Accordingly to the depth of his superstition returned each witch-doctor.
When they were come, without one word of explanation, Bakahenzie lifted
his voice in a high falsetto, bidding the lay warriors to return to hear
the voice of the elders. Reassured by this command which carried far on
the still air, they began to emerge from hut and undergrowth. The first to
arrive was MYalu, angry to find the whole assembly of wizards apparently
sitting as if they had never moved, engaged in mystic incantations. MYalu
had not fled far and from his cranny had seen the flight of Bakahenzie and
the departure of Zalu Zako, but he dared not betray the doctors. He
squatted sullenly and waited while the remainder of the warriors, of whom
many had also seen the general stampede, filed to their places.

When all were assembled Bakahenzie looked up from his spell and bade them
to listen to what message the faculty—for obvious policy’s sake he
included the whole of the ghosts—had received from ghostland by the three
spirits, emphasising the vision of the magicians as proof positive of the
terrible power of the craft. By reason of the sin committed by one who had
broken the magic circle, as they all knew, said Bakahenzie, had this wrath
of the Unmentionable One come upon them, permitting the incarnation of a
demon, Eyes-in-the-hands, to work his will upon them and to make them
slaves, as were their dogs the Wamungo; and so in the depth of their
tribulation he, Bakahenzie, whose magic had been rendered impotent by the
betrayal of the Bride of the Banana, had invoked the spirits of the three,
as they all had witnessed.

“Ough! Ough!” grunted the warriors in assent, although many of them were
sorely puzzled to know why the doctors themselves had fled. Yabolo began
to grow restless in his mind. To allow Bakahenzie to steal all the thunder
and condemn the possible source of political power to the level of an evil
demon was contrary to his policy, but he gave no physical sign save to
become engrossed in his snuff box.

Then Bakahenzie continued with a long harangue maintaining the necessity
of the consummation of the Marriage of the Banana and announced that Zalu
Zako had been taken by the spirit of his forefathers in order to prepare
magic for the eating up of the terrible Eyes-in-the-hands; that as the
voice of Tarum had said, Zalu Zako would return with “That which was slain
on the hill—that which ye seek, that which is yours.” Although Bakahenzie
was not sure to what these words had referred, yet he was sagacious enough
to know that if Marufa had engineered that scene, then there must be some
plan at the back of it, and in any case knew, as any white medicine man,
that words in mystic phrasing are always soul-satisfying to the credulous
who interpret them in terms of their subconscious desires. Then with
political prudence he avoided any reference to uncomfortable topics, by
dismissing the assembly before any pertinent questions could be asked.

But when Bakahenzie had retired to his hut, presumably for the night, as
Marufa had done before him, he girded himself with an amulet containing
the gall of an enemy killed in battle and a short stabbing spear and
sallied forth through a hole in the fence to brave the spirits of the
forests in his need.

In the village generally sleep was not entertained with enthusiasm by any
save those women and slaves who knew not of the great happenings. In the
hut of Yabolo were MYalu and Sakamata. From the old men MYalu received
much consolation and advice, but no information as to why the wizards had
bolted as fast as the laymen from ghosts invoked by their own magic.
Sakamata confirmed authoritatively Yabolo’s suspicion that the phenomena
had been produced through the magic of Eyes-in-the-hands, urging that they
lose no time in going to him to make submission. Yabolo had already
decided on that course, but MYalu refused to give a definite decision as
to when he would go. He sat sullenly, saying no word, and eventually
departed to his own hut where he dismissed his wives and continued to
brood.

The fear and rage aroused by the anointing of the warriors for the capture
of Bakuma had been dissipated by the general panic produced by the ghosts.
Afterwards MYalu had unconsciously hoped, because he so desired it, that
the pursuit of the Bride would be abandoned; hence Bakahenzie’s renewal of
the chase had angered and frightened him anew. As all the rest of them, he
wondered and pondered upon the fate of Zalu Zako and Marufa. Marufa, as he
well knew, had a black heart and two tongues; therefore was he suspicious
of any manifestation with which the son of MTungo could be connected. Zalu
Zako was wealthy; perhaps he had bribed Marufa to make magic in order to
enable him to escape the doom of the king-godship and to flee to another
country with Bakuma under the protection of Moonspirit. A lover’s jealousy
is as powerful a driving force as ambition. In this case it drove even
MYalu to defy the spirits of the night, for at the hour of the monkey he
too stole away into the gloom.

So it was that as the patterned roof of the forest was etched in the timid
green of dawn peeped MYalu through the gate of the zareba of Moonspirit to
discover the gaunt form of Bakahenzie squatted by the embers of a fire
within a deserted compound. Bakahenzie’s quick eyes, on the alert for
ghosts or any moving thing, saw him; so coldly MYalu advanced and sat
beside him, grunting the formal greeting.

MYalu noted the age of the spoor about the compound, the tent peg holes
newly pulled. Now was he sure that Marufa and Zalu Zako were in league
with Moonspirit. Wrath smouldered in his broad chest. At length spoke
Bakahenzie casually:

“The Bride of the Banana hath been taken away.” Bakahenzie paused as if
weighing his words, and added: “But the feet of spirits are heavy on the
land.” MYalu grunted. Bakahenzie had an idea and to MYalu was born another
about the same instant. Said Bakahenzie, who wished to know the
whereabouts of Marufa, Moonspirit and company: “If the Marriage of the
Bride be not consummated then will the power of Eyes-in-the-hands
prevail.” And after a long pause: “Who will seek the Bride?”

MYalu remained silent, revolving his own notion in his mind. There
remained with him still many traces of the awe and belief in the power and
knowledge of Bakahenzie, and so his words threatening the triumph of
Eyes-in-the-hands assured and strengthened his purpose; for he thought
that if he could accomplish his plan then would Eyes-in-the-hands surely
triumph as Bakahenzie predicted. Thus it was that he said:

“O master of Wisdom, give unto me a mighty charm against the evil eye of
traitors and will I and those that follow me seek the Bride and bring her
so that which is bidden may be, that the children of the Banana may
triumph.”

MYalu rose. The two started on the return to the village. On the road
Bakahenzie sought to flatter MYalu by pretending to take him into his
confidence, adjuring him to secrecy and informing him that he would cause
it to be known that MYalu, the son of MBusa, would bring back the Bride of
the Banana. MYalu assented gravely. Just before reaching the village his
keen eyes noticed a slight trail from the regular path. Broken, twisted
and crushed leaves and strained branches indicated the recent passage of
two or three people through the undergrowth.

With difficulty, for the Wongolo are not forest people, he followed the
spoor in a semi-circle towards the village and a footprint in the slime
revealed the track of Zalu Zako or Marufa coming from the fires. MYalu
grunted, but he said nothing to Bakahenzie or anybody else. That the
vision had been caused by Moonspirit’s magic he had now no doubt, and his
estimation of Moonspirit’s power increased to the point of terror; yet the
smouldering jealousy and desire for Bakuma drove him dreadfully on.

Before the sun was two spans high MYalu left the village with some two
hundred of his followers anointed against magic and spirits. The track
from Moonspirit’s camp was like an elephant’s path. Through the steamy
heat they followed all day until they came out upon a river near to a
village upon the border of the forest. The headman of the village was away
with his chief; but women, children and slaves remained. Zalu Zako, in the
company of a white man called Moonspirit, Marufa, the wizard, and a girl
had arrived, had taken three canoes and had left up-stream within a hand’s
breadth of a shadow. MYalu took all the canoes available and started in
pursuit, leaving the rest of his men to follow as soon as they had
procured other canoes from the nearest village.

The river was small but deep and flowed swiftly between the vast curtains
of the overhanging trees. When the dungeon of the forest was glooming to
night they saw the gleam of a fire. Swiftly and silently they landed,
surrounded the camp and uttering the war yell, rushed.

But Moonspirit, Zalu Zako or Marufa they found not—only Bakuma with some
dozen Wamungo carriers. Even the dismal squawk of a Baroto bird could not
damp the relief and joy of MYalu. Next morning he despatched a secret
messenger to Yabolo, making a rendezvous at a certain village and with a
weeping Bakuma in his train set out to seek the rest of his fortune at the
camp of Eyes-in-the-hands.



                                CHAPTER 21


In the village of Bakahenzie was discontent.

The desertion of Sakamata, Yabolo, and three chiefs, had corroborated his
suspicions of the unfrocked priest. That Sakamata had been preaching open
sedition he had known, yet Bakahenzie was in the situation of many a
president or prime minister; he had feared to put his own position in
jeopardy by having the offender removed expeditiously. This treachery,
which synchronised with the time when MYalu should have either returned or
sent a messenger, implied another grave error. All the information he
could gather was that MYalu had returned through the village by the river
with the girl Bakuma, some prisoners and some of the white man’s
equipment, on his way to the north-east; but no one apparently had seen
Zalu Zako, Marufa nor the white man.

Bakahenzie was at a loss to discover a plausible theory to account for
MYalu having kidnapped Bakuma, who could not be of any political
importance to him in going over to Eyes-in-the-hands, but would rather
prejudice him seriously with the rest of the tribe for the sin of
sacrilege in taking the Bride of the Banana. Shrewd judge of his
compatriots though he was, the possibility of a love motive never occurred
to Bakahenzie. A dominating passion in an individual for any particular
female was rare in the native world; attractive wives or concubines were
chosen and bought as one buys a goat or an ox. Bakuma, in her capacity as
a sacrificial victim, was to him merely a good-looking girl, well selected
by Marufa for the orgy of the Harvest Festival.

Bakahenzie was distraught. He feared that he had not the authority to
prevent further desertions; he did not know how far Sakamata’s propaganda
had permeated; he could not guess what Zalu Zako, Marufa and the white man
were going to do. As many a wise statesman before and after him he adopted
a policy of “wait and see.” To provide an exciting distraction to keep his
constituents amused and from thinking too much, he borrowed another
political tactic of abusing some one vigorously. He called a meeting of
the faculty and the warriors. There he solemnly denounced MYalu as a
traitor and accused him of the crime of having abducted the Bride of the
Banana, and consequently as the cause of the continuance of the
misfortunes of the tribe.

The move was successful, inasmuch that it afforded discussion and absorbed
wrath for two whole days. Various chiefs proposed as many plans. But none
was taken. Everybody was discontented and quarrelsome, as fearful of
Eyes-in-the-hands as he was of his tribal god; many were impressed by the
propaganda of Sakamata and Yabolo and the impunity with which Yabolo and
Sakamata and company had quietly gone over to the enemy. Meanwhile
Bakahenzie squatted in oracular silence, murmuring incantations that were
prayers to the Unmentionable One interlarded with promises of the things
he would accomplish for the said Deity, with solemnity and sincerity, for
he felt that the result of Marufa’s intrigue with the magician Moonspirit
would mature very shortly. What that would be he had no notion; only he
strained every nerve to be alert when the crisis came to snatch from
Marufa the advantage that wily old man had gained.

On the third day two more chiefs followed in the wake of Yabolo.
Bakahenzie made no comment, but he realised that before long, unless the
unknown happened, he would be unable to retain any of his followers;
realised that his one chance lay in procrastination. In his despair he
began to contemplate an alliance with Marufa, even if he had to take a
subordinate rôle—which would at any rate give him his only ally, time, to
help checkmate his colleague.

On the next day yet another chief and his men departed. Bakahenzie knew
that they were like a herd of goats and that to stop the stampede he must
adopt desperate measures. To quell the restlessness which murmured
ominously throughout the camp he called another meeting as soon as the
news had come of the last desertion. While the drum tapped out the summons
Bakahenzie sat muttering his most impressive spells alone, endeavouring to
discover a plausible excuse for some sort of excitement to distract the
public mind.

Slowly and sulkily the remainder of the brethren of the craft and those
lay chiefs that were left, assembled within the circle of fires. Squatted
in the prescribed order they eyed the figure of Bakahenzie in his red and
green feathers mumbling incantations with doubt and disfavour. Indeed
Bakahenzie seemed to them the symbol of the fallen god and a past régime;
impotent and as mistaken as they were. In each and every one of them were
suspicions and fears growing like weeds in tropic rain that he had made an
error in not propitiating the new god in time, an impulse which required
but a few hours’ growth to propel them out to the north-east after
Sakamata and the others.

As they watched in silence Bakahenzie was aware of the state of their
minds towards him and grew the more perplexed in his search for an
entertainment sufficiently stimulating to postpone the effects of their
discontent. Sapiently he decided that any more messages from Tarum would
be unwise in the present atmosphere. An idea of a revelation by divination
to appoint a substitute for Bakuma as the Bride of the Banana and thus
thrust forward a reason for a feast, as there was now no Yabolo to object,
was abandoned because such an orgy was exclusive to the craft and would
serve to exasperate the lay chiefs.

His resource suggested a method. Suddenly he uttered a piercing yell and
fell sideways as in the manner of one about to receive a communication
from Tarum; but instead of the habitual seizure and cries and groans he
lay rigid and silent. The divergence from the usual distracted the doubts
of the audience.

The fires flickered and danced to the insectile anthem as for twenty
minutes or more he lay there as one dead. But at the first flutter of
inattention among the doctors he sat up with closed eyes and called out in
a loud voice:

“That which is and must be, shall be!”

Intuitively he had followed the precept of witch-doctors the world over of
saying nothing at all in such a way that as many interpretations may be
deduced as there are listeners. Each and every doctor and chief
accordingly saw in these mystic words, as Marufa had done in the chance
phrase of Moonspirit, that which he was most urged to do. Bakahenzie had
accomplished his temporary object. Once more he cried out:

“Let the children of the Banana be as the wild-cat at the fishpool that
that which I have prophesied may come to pass!”

The charging of the air with the familiar suggestion of magical doings
gripped the audience and forced from them the conventional grunt of
assent. Bakahenzie began again to mutter incantations. He had, he knew,
averted the immediate danger for at least another sun, or perhaps two. Now
was there only to wait and see. But Bakahenzie, as all great men, had the
distinct vein of luck that follows the bold. Even as they squatted there,
thoroughly worked up for the reception of a miracle, came a rustle among
the leaves. Every head turned as one to see once more the mystic gleam of
eyes in the gloom as the voice of Marufa cried:

“Let there be a new fire!”

From the cavern of the undergrowth emerged a white man bearing upon his
shoulders a burden which, as he staggered into the gleam of the fires, was
seen to be in form and in shape that of the burned idol. Then did
Bakahenzie leap to his feet and in one stroke recover his lead and fetter
his most dangerous enemy by proclaiming in a loud voice:

“Behold! The bearer of the Burden of the World even as Bakahenzie hath
prophesied!”

And as Birnier set down the idol, from warrior and wizard, with the chief
witch-doctor’s declaration, “That which is and must be, shall be,” echoing
in their ears, came the deep grunt of acceptance of the new King-God of
the lost Usakuma, the Incarnation of the Unmentionable One.



                                CHAPTER 22


In the humid heat of the forenoon the small hills of Fort Eitel, as zu
Pfeiffer had renamed the Place of Kings, in the centre of the rased banana
plantations, resembled scabby pimples upon a shaven patch of a green head
seething with a verminous activity.

Across the ford of the river came a puckered-faced Bakuma in the train of
carriers and slaves of MYalu, who with Yabolo was coming to make obeisance
to Eyes-in-the-hands, under the protection of Sakamata. To Bakuma there
was no joy in the prospect of the sight of her old home; the bitter taste
of the oleander was in her mouth as she trudged despondently with downcast
head.

But the breast of MYalu was filled with the song of the cricket. The
terrors that had haunted him throughout the journey, of being overtaken by
the magic of Bakahenzie or his emissaries, for the sacrilege of stealing
the Bride of the Banana, began to evaporate at the approach to his village
where now dwelt a new god more powerful than any, from whom he was about
to gain protection, honours, and incidentally the ivory, which his anxious
eyes pictured still within his hut. But when they broke from the outer
banana plantation a mighty grunt was punched from the chests of Yabolo and
MYalu at the vision of the half-completed street of large huts in the
midst of desolation.

“Eh!” quoth Sakamata, “is not the way of the mighty one more wonderful
than he who is gone? Behold, he maketh a city like unto that of his
people, a city of gods!”

But MYalu had no admiration to spare, for to him the alleged beauty
thereof was fogged by the fact that his own huts were but blackened ruins.
The next moment MYalu, in spite of his native dignity, started as one of
those uniformed keepers of the coughing monsters barked at them magic
words.

Sakamata replied. Yabolo and MYalu stiffened as they observed the cringe
of the shoulders as he fumbled hastily within his loin-cloth and presented
a piece of hard substance, the colour of blue clay with magic marks upon
it. The demon grunted at them to proceed as if talking to a slave.
Followed in file the rest of the caravan. As Bakuma passed the uniformed
demon standing with the sword and gun with seven voices upon his shoulder,
leered, and grunting in a strange tongue, stepped forward and spun her
round by the shoulders. Bakuma cried out in terror and the carriers gasped
fearfully. MYalu and Yabolo wheeled. MYalu’s facial scar twitched with
rage as he raised his spear. But Sakamata clung to his arm as the soldier,
grinning, raised his rifle in their direction. Bakuma ran on. The man
laughed and turned his back to them, calling out something that the
Wongolo could not understand.

“Eh!” commented Sakamata indignantly, “the dog hath eaten poison grass! We
will tell his words to Eyes-in-the-hands and he will be beaten until he
stales.”

MYalu, slightly mollified by this promise of revenge, strode on in
silence, bewildered and resentful, wondering at these strange things in
the camp of the new god. In a large open space resembling a public square,
was a big unfinished hut: the guest house, Sakamata informed them, for
those who sought an audience with the Invincible One. As they squatted on
the floor waiting patiently until the sun was two hand’s-breadth above the
hill for the appointed time, food and beer were brought to them by a
Wamungo slave. Zu Pfeiffer was careful to foster the class distinction.
Sakamata duly held forth upon the generosity of Eyes-in-the-hands, the
wonder of his works and presence; but his words were received in
unsympathetic silence, for the incident on the road had wounded the
dignity of both chief and witch-doctor; raised dim fears and forebodings.

At length a strange sound rang out on the still hot air. The signal,
Sakamata explained, that Eyes-in-the-hands would receive his guests.
Leaving Bakuma squatted in the lethargy which appeared to be habitual to
her now, the three slowly mounted the sacred hill, marvelling greatly at
the black triangle of the roof of the new temple, gazing with veiled
suspicion at the gleaming brass fittings of the coughing monster in the
great gate, and eyeing uneasily the double lines of uniformed devils,
their bayonets flaming in the sun, who were drawn up outside the green
palace of Eyes-in-the-hands.

On each side of the tent door stood the two tallest men in the companies,
coal-black forms which towered above the slighter build of the Wongolo, as
rigid and as silent as trees. Through this terrifying guard walked
Sakamata leading his two compatriots, already startled and impressed.
Immediately within Sakamata fell upon his knees. Before them at the end of
the tent sat zu Pfeiffer in the full dress of his regiment, plumed helmet,
blazoned uniform and sword; and beside him, erect, the two sergeants
Schultz and Ludwig in full parade uniform. Above them was a blaze of red,
white and black and in the midst another splash of colour. But before this
vision had penetrated their brains, had risen the voice of Sakamata
bidding them to kneel likewise. Bewildered and awed they obeyed. Then came
a voice saying:

“Rise, approach, O chiefs!”

Accordingly they arose and following Sakamata, advanced and squatted,
their eyes dominated and held by those myriad gleams of magic “eyes” on
hands and wrists. Then the interpreter, standing at attention, spoke this
harangue tonelessly:

“Greeting and welcome, children of the Banana! Eyes-in-the-hands who is
known to the people where the sun rises as the Eater-of-Men, hath come
from afar, the messenger of a greater than he, the Lord of the World, the
Earthquake, the World Trembler, who eats up what he pleases, whose eyes
see all things, whose sword slays all things, whose breath is the rain,
whose voice is the thunder, whose teeth are the lightning, whose frown is
the earthquake, whose smile is the sun, whose ear is the moon, whose eyes
are the stars, whose body is the world! Look upon one soul of him which he
hath sent that ye may worship and know him!”

Zu Pfeiffer raised the jewelled hand above his shoulder as the man ceased.
From out the medley of colours to the unaccustomed native eyes grew slowly
the form and face of a white man as strangely clothed as
Eyes-in-the-hands, covered with amulets and charms upon his breast. For
four minutes by his wrist-watch, zu Pfeiffer sat silent and as frozen as
his sergeants; then secretly he pulled a string.

“Ehh!” grunted Yabolo and MYalu involuntarily, for before them appeared
even, as Sakamata had related, the two souls of every person present.
Stunned at such a manifestation of magic, they slowly turned from one to
the other. As silently as they had appeared did the visions vanish.

“O son of MYana, tell the tale of the possession of these thy friends and
allies,” commanded zu Pfeiffer.

Sakamata obeyed. But as he recited the approximate number of MYalu’s
followers, the number of his oxen and goats, the number of fine tusks and
small, the number of wives, concubines, and children, and slaves, the eyes
of MYalu grew unquiet. Had he known that he would be required to render an
account he would have computed at half the actual amount, whereas, in
order to impress Sakamata with his importance, he had exaggerated to
almost double what he had ever possessed. Then as Sakamata proceeded to
perform the same service for Yabolo, relating, by arrangement with his
relative, about one-third of his possession, MYalu observed in a corner a
man making magic upon a table, a native clerk keeping tally; for zu
Pfeiffer kept an exact record of every chief’s alleged possessions, as
given by Sakamata and corroborated—by silent consent—by the said chief, so
that when afterwards any discrepancy with the said list was discovered,
the chief was proven a liar and subject to the punishment of further
confiscation as such, and served as well to enhance the reputation for
omniscience of Eyes-in-the-hands.

At the end of the recitals of property, MYalu was told, not asked, to bow
his head to the ground in token of allegiance. He obeyed in bewilderment
which changed to rage when he was informed that the third of his property
must be rendered to the august being before one sun’s delay; that he was
to be ready at a summons to produce a given number of warriors; and that
his small and only son was immediately to be placed in the “village of
sons of chiefs” as guaranty of obedience and good behaviour.

In a mist of fright, anger and awe, he sat motionless. Sakamata proceeded
to relate the doings of Zalu Zako and those who had remained faithful to
him. Zu Pfeiffer had fairly precise information from spies of the
movements of the Wongolo since the return of Sergeant Ludwig, who had
burned the village of Yagonyana, but shortage of men and the serious
disadvantage of traversing and fighting in the forest had prevented him
from sending another punitive expedition. Also had he heard of a white man
who had passed through the country. Sakamata, native-like, eager to
placate, asserted that he had actually seen the white man who was called
Moonspirit, and from the same motive, ever wishing to flatter, announced
positively that he had no magic at all, was dark and small and a trader,
the only kind of white man other than the military at Ingonya of whom
Sakamata had ever seen.

Zu Pfeiffer stroked his left moustache and reflected. He had at first
thought that the man might possibly be Saunders, a trader who was in his
pay, but now decided that he was probably some new trader or hunter from
the Tanganyika district. He instructed Sakamata that he was to send a
messenger to this white man and command him to come to him immediately.
Then waving the imperious jewelled hand, he dismissed them. But noticing
the sullen countenance of MYalu, he drew Sergeant Schultz’s attention,
ordering him to mark the man and if the tax was not forthcoming quickly,
to have him given fifty lashes. Silently Schultz saluted.

So it was that MYalu, sulky, smouldering with anger against Sakamata, for
he felt that he had been betrayed into a trap, followed Yabolo out into
the sun. Not only had he not gotten back his ivory left in the village,
but he was ordered to pay much more than he actually possessed.

But when he had descended the hill to the guest house he came to the
weeping and wailing of his people, who informed him that Bakuma had been
taken away by three of the demon keepers of the coughing monsters.



                                CHAPTER 23


Upon the site of Birnier’s old camp in the forest was a high palisade
built from tree to tree. Inside of the gate beside a small conical hut
burned the sacred fires tended by Mungongo; before a green canvas tent
stood the new idol, which differed from the original in having a better
perspective and proportion of features and body, yet lacked the master
touch of expression given by the subconscious fingers of the native
artist.

Against the wall were stacked uniform cases to make a table, upon which
were a hand-mirror and toilet articles; above a photograph of Lucille was
pinned upon the canvas. Upon the camp bed, screened by a mosquito net, lay
the new King-God, Moonspirit, the magic book in his hands.



“Kings, princes, monarchs, and magistrates seem to be most happy, but look
into their estate; you shall find them to be most cumbered with cares, in
perpetual fear, agony, suspicion, jealousy: that as he (Valer. i. 7, c. 3)
saith of a crown, if they but knew the discontents that accompany it, they
would not stoop to pick it up. Quem mihi regem dabis (saith Chrysostom)
non curis plenum?”



The Incarnation of the Unmentionable One smiled, put down the book and
glanced across at the photograph.

“And yet they still talk of the advantages of a monarchy!” he commented.

The original plan concocted with Marufa and Zalu Zako in the forest when
making the new idol was that Birnier should become chief witch-doctor and
Zalu Zako be anointed King-God, with Marufa as the power behind the
throne. Although Zalu Zako desired to escape the yoke, his protest was
enfeebled by the sense of fatality, and had been utterly squashed by the
promise of Marufa, at Birnier’s suggestion, that the sex tabu would be
lifted from the godhead. But the negligence of Marufa in allowing the
white man to carry the idol, arranged with the idea of investing
Moonspirit with greater prestige according to the prophecies already
announced by Tarum, had permitted Bakahenzie to make his _coup
d’état_—thrust the godhood upon the white and recover his own position.

Birnier in truth had little option of refusal as well as little time for
reflection upon a situation the possibility of which had not occurred to
him; for Marufa was completely out-manœuvred by his rival, and the
certainty of escape from his doom offered by Bakahenzie revived the image
of Bakuma in Zalu Zako and bought his partisanship instantly.

With Napoleonic swiftness to grasp the advantages gained Bakahenzie drove
the lay chiefs from the sacred presence, which he surrounded by a
bodyguard of the awed brethren; expelled the household from Zalu Zako’s
compound and hustled the incarnation, bearing the new god, into holy
isolation.

Bewildered by the rapidity of the moves Marufa and Zalu Zako were
separated from Moonspirit. In the general confusion, not knowing exactly
what was happening, Birnier complied with what he believed to be the
regulations regarding gods. But when he perceived that he was about to be
left alone he clutched Mungongo and refused to part with him. Bakahenzie,
compelled to avoid any delay before consolidating his position, instantly
shut up Mungongo in the same web by declaring him the Keeper of the Sacred
Fires and so disposed of any agent outside the tabu or craft. As soon as
this was accomplished and a dance to celebrate the lighting of the new
fires commanded, the wily chief witch-doctor approached Marufa who,
realizing that he was hopelessly outwitted, was only too eager to make the
best terms possible.

Birnier had known that the King-God was never allowed to be seen by the
populace except at the Harvest Festival, yet he accepted his isolation
philosophically, lured by the expectation of the secrets he was about to
learn, although his curiosity led sometimes to the vision of a god peeping
through a fence.

While the drums summoning the council of chiefs and wizards were muttering
through the moist air, to Birnier, squatting on the floor of Zalu Zako’s
hut with Mungongo beside him, came Bakahenzie to instruct him in his rôle.
To whet his curiosity still more he learned that from the moment of
appearance in the gate of the sacred enclosure for the ceremony of the
lighting of the royal fires, every movement of body and speech was
regulated as rigidly as the etiquette of the Court of Spain. At a signal
from the chief witch-doctor was the King-God to leave the hut and appear
from behind the idol; with arms in a certain position was he to approach
and squat at an exact spot. To Mungongo was given charge of the two fire
sticks, newly consecrated.

As the chief witch-doctor retired the chanting began. Interested to know
what was about to happen Birnier obeyed in the spirit of a game. So in the
warm darkness they squatted, these two, listening to the chanting, cries
and groans to the accompaniment of the drums and lyres and the perpetual
twitter of the forest. At last came a violent howl from Bakahenzie which
Mungongo declared was their cue.

Around the circle of the fence to avoid the eyes of the audience ran
Mungongo to the temporary Place of Fires. Feeling as if he were once more
playing in an amateur dramatic club, Birnier stalked with portentous
dignity from the hut, past the idol, and took his seat upon the enchanted
place. Without the palisade and within another squatted in correct order
the lines of wizards and chiefs, Zalu Zako retaining, rather by prestige
of his former holiness and indecision as to what his status really was,
his position at their head.

Upon his haunches before a large calabash upon a fire Bakahenzie finished
the mumbling of incantations over the sacred ingredients, and leaping to
his feet began a wild dance to the throb of the drums and the
diaphragmatic chorus of the assembled cult.… Swifter and swifter spun the
chief witch-doctor. The glow of the fire tinted his whirling bronze body
with flecks of green and red as he gyrated in and out of the shadows.
Suddenly he threw a handful of herbs upon the fire which was immediately
enveloped in a cloud of smoke, into which with a screech Bakahenzie
disappeared.… The drums and grunting ceased. Then in the swirling column
of blue appeared his figure holding something in his hands. To the wild
outburst of drums and groans he sprang towards the King-God elect and
anointed his breast and shoulders with a pungent compound, and leaped away
into another dance, while Mungongo plied the two fire sticks. When the
spark was blown upon the dry tinder and the first flame flickered
Bakahenzie dropped flat before the gate as from the wizards went up the
great shout:

“The fire is lighted!”

And from the mass of warriors and folk confined to their huts behind the
outer palisade the phrase was echoed in a mighty wail, startling monkeys
and parrots into as wild an acclamation of the new King-God.

Bakahenzie, rising to his haunches, began a chant in honour of the new
King, a chant based upon the song composed by Marufa and repeated on the
phonograph, but developing even stranger merits and attributes. Until the
first glimmer of dawn through the forest roof squatted Birnier, as
motionless as etiquette demanded, listening to the strange psalm of praise
with avid interest and observation.

Suddenly, amid a furious clamour of the drums, Bakahenzie, Marufa, and one
other of the inner cult of the five who had not deserted, led the body of
the doctors in a rush into the sacred enclosure, seized upon the startled
King and hustled him to the base of the idol where, yielding to the
whispered instructions of Marufa, he took the idol once more upon his
shoulders and guided by Bakahenzie, walked out of the gate and through the
village to the yelling and screaming of the wizards, some of whom,
according to precedent, ran about screeching and rattling hut doors,
pulling thatches and howling ferociously in search of any sacrilegious
peeper.

As he tramped on with his load Marufa yelled in his ear that he must carry
the Burden of the World no matter what happened to him, for if he let the
idol fall then would he be killed upon the spot to save the sky from
falling too. Wondering what this meant and where he was going, the cut of
thongs upon his legs surprised him into a halt. Immediately a terrific cry
went up:

“The Bearer of the World stumbles! Aie! Aieeeeeeeee!”

Despite the furious flogging the intellectual interest in this strange
conception distracted his mind from the pain of the blows; also his bare
back was protected by the idol and his leggings and trousers deadened the
lashes. A moment more he hesitated. But he was unarmed and had voluntarily
taken on the adventure, so he would see it through. As he broke into a
shuffling run, for the idol fortunately was lighter than the previous one
and he was a more powerful man than Kawa Kendi, another howl of joy and
relief echoed throughout the village.

So along the old forest trail he travelled as fast as he could, assisted
slightly by wizards’ hands as he crawled over clumps of undergrowth. The
intensity of the whipping had decreased as soon as they were out of the
village but throughout an occasional vicious whack testified to the
presence of some devout doctor. Thus it was that the white King-God came
to his throne and sat in state upon his bed to smile at the reflections of
a melancholic philosopher.

So far so good, reflected Birnier, although the enforced isolation and
strict curtailment of his actions had already begun to be irksome; yet to
attain so difficult a goal sacrifice must be borne, he argued
philosophically.

The royal larder, he noticed with thankfulness, was kept well stocked.
Every day appeared a slave who left just within the entrance chickens,
bananas, milk and fresh water, and sometimes a young goat. All such
provisions which he had happened to take into the forest with him and so
had escaped MYalu’s marauding hands had been placed in his tent with other
cases, as containing no man knew what mighty magic.

For three days he had been left utterly alone. Sounds of drums and
chanting from the distant village had reached them on the still air, but
what they were doing he could not discover. No layman was allowed to come
near the sacred enclosure. While he strolled, taking a smoke and
constitutional around and around his “pen,” as he put it, several of the
lesser wizards appeared and stood at a distance from the gate to stare at
him. When addressed they made no reply. On the second occasion he began to
be irritated, but he kept his temper and went to cover in his tent,
muttering: “Why the devil don’t they bring me some buns?”

On the fourth day patience began to fray. He had no notion of knowing how
long this quarantine was going to last. He was on the point of going to
find out, but Mungongo pleaded so earnestly that they would instantly be
killed if they did, that he desisted. So Birnier retired to the tent to
seek consolation from a record of Lucille’s voice.

Birnier attempted to cross-examine Mungongo to find out what was the
object of this isolation, but beyond the fact that strangers were never
permitted to behold the King-God, even lay natives, without special magic,
which was only made once a year at the Harvest Festival, lest evil be made
upon his person and so endanger the world, Mungongo did not know; merely,
that so it was. What power over the head witch-doctor the King really had,
Mungongo had no notion. The King-God was the most powerful magician known,
asserted Mungongo. Did he not make rain and bear the world upon his
shoulders? When Birnier unwisely denied this feat, Mungongo looked pained
and began a remark, but balked before the name Moonspirit to ask the name
of Birnier’s father.

At the mental image conjured up of a handsome white-haired planter and
ex-owner of many slaves Birnier smiled, but he knew the tabu regarding the
ban upon the names of the dead and that he, presumably, having ascended
into the divine plane, was therefore classed with the departed. He
recollected that the old man, who belonged to a cadet branch of a royalist
family, had been called “le Marquis,” of which he was excessively proud.
Birnier translated into the dialect the nearest possible rendition of the
title: The Lord-of-many-Lands.

“The son of the Lord-of-many-Lands,” continued Mungongo satisfied, “doth
but tickle the feet of his slave.”

On the fifth afternoon, while the god was engrossed in a cure for love
madness which, he reflected, might be of service to zu Pfeiffer, came a
voice without crying:

“The son of Maliko would speak with the Lord, the Bearer of the World!”

Birnier glanced across at the photograph of Lucille.

“Some job I’ve gotten!” he remarked as he rose. In the gate sat
Bakahenzie. Birnier was conscious of an idiotic impulse to rush forward to
greet him as an old and long lost friend. But remembering the dignity of
his godhood he remained in the tent doorway, bidding the chief
witch-doctor to advance.

Birnier retired backwards and sat beneath the net, for the mosquitoes were
as thick as they are on the bayou Barataria. Mungongo, possibly to prove
his erudition, sat upon one of the cases containing much magic, at which
Bakahenzie from the floor in the doorway looked askance. Birnier was
keenly anxious to know what was happening regarding the fortunes of the
tribe, hoping that with the restoration of the Unmentionable One that they
would return to their allegiance. According to etiquette he remained
silent, waiting for Bakahenzie to open the conversation, until, realizing
that he was a god and that the chief witch-doctor was doing the same
thing, reflected swiftly and desiring to make an impression, repeated
Bakahenzie’s mystic phrase which he had overheard whilst hiding in the
jungle previous to the dénouement:

“That which is and must be, shall be!” Bakahenzie grunted his
acknowledgment of the profundity of the statement. “He who would trap the
leopard must needs dig the pit!” Another uncompromising silence urged
Birnier to force the pace a little: “O son of Maliko, what say the omens
and the signs of the evil one, Eyes-in-the-hands?”

“When shall the Unmentionable One return unto the Place of Kings?”
demanded Bakahenzie.

“The Holy One returneth not unto the place appointed until that which
defileth is removed,” retorted Birnier.

Bakahenzie took snuff and appeared to consider. Then he glanced around the
tent as if in search of something.

“When will the voice of Tarum speak through the pod of the soul?”

Mungongo looked expectant and stood up. But Birnier ignored him.

“The fruit doth not fall until it be ripe. He would know what hath been
done by his slaves for the baiting of the pit for the unclean one.”

“Would the magician that cometh from the sea make pretence that an
elephant is a mouse?” inquired Bakahenzie.

For a moment Birnier was perplexed; then he realized that the chief
witch-doctor inferred that he, as King-God, mocked his priest by
pretending that he did not know all things.

“Doth the chief witch-doctor make magic for the curing of the scratch of a
girl of the hut thatch?” he retorted. “Lest thy heart wither like unto a
fallen leaf, know then that the soul of Tarum hath made words for the
return of the Unmentionable One to the Place of Kings, but that his
children may not be as the dogs of the village who are driven, he wills
that you prepare the pit for the trapping of the defiled one.”
Bakahenzie’s eyes stolidly regarded the tent wall. “O son of Maliko, hast
thou sent forth the sound of the drum throughout the land that the
children may know of the Coming?”

“When will the voice of Tarum speak through the pod of the soul?” demanded
Bakahenzie insistently.

Birnier sat motionless in the native manner. Irritated by this childish
tenacity to apparently a fixed idea, he yielded to an impulse which was
almost a weakness.

“O son of Maliko,” said he, “thou art a mighty magician!” Bakahenzie
grunted modest assent. “Even as I am.” Another grunt. “Give unto me thine
ears and thine eyes that I may reveal unto thee that which is known to the
mightiest of magicians.” Commanding the delighted Mungongo to bring out
the phonograph, he continued: “Thou hast heard of the mighty doings of the
unclean devourer of men, Eyes-in-the-hands. I have magic the like of which
man hath never seen. Is it not so?”

“Ough!”

“Yet will the son of the Lord-of-many-Lands make thee to see that which
is, is not!”

“That which is, is not,” repeated Bakahenzie, whose professional mind was
pleased with the phrase.

In the desire to explain rationally the mystery of a phonograph and
despairing of any attempt to describe the laws of vibration, Birnier
sought for a likely simile. Encouraged by the almost imperceptible fact
that he had awakened Bakahenzie’s visible interest, he plunged on: “Within
this piece of tree is there nought but many pieces of iron such as thy
spears are made of. Thou knowest that there are places by the river and in
the rocks where a man may speak and that his words will be returned to
him. Is it not so?”

“They are white words, O son of the Lord-of-many-Lands!” returned
Bakahenzie. “For the spirits of the river and the rocks mock the voices of
those who have not eaten of the Sacred Banana” (the uninitiated).

“But they mock thy voice as well,” protested Birnier.

“Are there not goats in ghostland who bleat at the wizard and the
peasant?”

“By the Lord!” murmured Birnier, although the mask of his face did not
change. “Ghostland is full of goats if one were to credit some of the most
modern witch-doctors! Still demonstration …

“Thou seest, fellow magician,” he continued, “the pod of the soul of
mighty Tarum, his ear like unto an elephant, his colour like unto a lion!”
Birnier got out of the mosquito net and knelt beside the phonograph in
front of Bakahenzie. Taking off the trumpet and cylinder carrier he opened
up the inside, revealing the clockwork motor, wound it up, stopped it and
released it. “Thine eyes see that my words are white. These things are but
as pieces of metal of thy spears. Is it not so?”

“Ough!”

Birnier closed the machine, adjusted the trumpet and put on the cylinder
of Marufa’s record.

  “Aie! Aiee! I am the spirit of Kintu!
  Aie! Aiee! I am he who first was!”

chanted the machine.

Birnier, noticing that the desired astonishment was registered by an
almost impalpable start, stopped the machine and changed the record.

  “Rejoice, O my children, for he that is bidden shall come!
  Rejoice, O ye warriors, for he that shall lead you shall come!
  Rejoice, O ye wizards, for he that is greater than ye shall come!
  Rejoice, O ye women, for he that fertilizes shall come!”

Birnier allowed the machine to run through the chant until the end:

  “He shall come forth bearing that which ye seek!
  Hear ye, my people, and give voice to my word!”

The machine whirred and stopped. Birnier turned to Bakahenzie.

“Thou hast seen, O my brother magician, that my words are white?”

“Ough!” assented Bakahenzie.

“Thou hast seen, O my brother magician, that at the will of my finger upon
that which is made but of spear-heads that the voice of Tarum hath spoken,
the voice which is but the mocking voice of Marufa amid the trees of the
forest?”

“Ough!”

“Dost thou not know that he who knows the ways of rocks, who can make
pieces of spear into that which will say and do that which he wills, is a
greater magician than he who must needs go unto the rocks to be mocked?”

“Thou art the greatest of magicians, O son of the Lord-of-many-Lands,”
responded Bakahenzie in a burst of eloquence. “For thou hast entrapped the
spirits of rocks and spears to do thy bidding.”

“O God!” sighed the professor, “what is the use of language?”



                                CHAPTER 24


A favourite panacea for the results of a stupid action is the sentiment of
martyrdom. When MYalu persisted in bitter reproaches to Yabolo and
Sakamata the first retorted that the punishment was the result of having
committed the sacrilege of kidnapping the sacred Bride of the Banana. Then
MYalu considered that not only had he been trapped by one of his own
people whom he had deserted, but to add insult to injury he felt he was
not understood. Neither Yabolo nor Sakamata, as Bakahenzie, could
comprehend a chief and a warrior making such a fuss over a girl. That the
confiscation of MYalu’s property was an insult they both agreed, but
biassed by both fear of Eyes-in-the-hands and their own interests, they
were disposed to pretend that after all such a small matter as the
abduction of a girl could be overlooked when committed by the follower of
such a powerful god and magician, as expedience is so often the father of
a dispensation. Yet nevertheless in Yabolo, if not in Sakamata, whose
hatred of the tribal craft was deep in ratio to the degeneracy of his
native code, the outrage upon Bakuma as the Bride of the Banana, while an
act of dangerous sacrilege when performed by a Wongolo, violated the half
suppressed traditions and kindled a spark of bitter resentment ready to
flare up against Eyes-in-the-hands or Sakamata; but being a diplomatist,
he concealed that anger, even from himself to a certain degree.

Upon MYalu’s arrival in the guest-house to find that Bakuma had been
taken, his passion had nearly led to his instant destruction, for he had
desired to run amok among the grinning askaris. Afterwards, when the
efforts of his friends and the hungry points of bayonets had cooled his
ardour, he had wanted to rush straight to Eyes-in-the-hands who, according
to Sakamata employed as master of ceremony at the daily audiences, would
instantly restore Bakuma to him and visit a terrible punishment upon the
evil-doer. But the august presence could not be approached so casually:
petition must be made in orthodox form and the royal pleasure awaited
meekly.

According to the words of the Son-of-the-Earthquake, as zu Pfeiffer was
officially designated by his men, who placed the actual name under the
tabu in token of the acceptance of the magic purple, came a guard to take
away MYalu’s first-born as hostage to the village of the sons of chiefs.
Seething with red rage MYalu mutely followed Yabolo to the place appointed
for their housing. Then on the following afternoon at the time of audience
MYalu waited in the broiling heat for three hand’s-spans of the sun
without being summoned to the green temple. And thus it was for three
days.

But upon the fourth, when MYalu squatted in the general hut in company
with Yabolo, Sakamata, and other renegade chiefs, smouldering with bitter
resentment, came the pulse of a distant drum, the furious tattoo and long
pause, tattoo and long pause, which accompanies the mighty shout at the
coronation of a new King-God, “The Fire is lighted!” news that had
throbbed from that point within the forest from village to village to the
slopes of the Gamballagalla and to the Wamungo country. The perceptible
effect upon that circle of bronze figures was a scarcely audible grunt,
yet nevertheless the message was like unto a live ember dropped in the dry
grass of the cattle country.

That morning one of the renegade chiefs had brought in two others to make
their allegiance and received as reward for his fidelity a remittance of
one-third of the tax levy upon his property, a policy adopted by zu
Pfeiffer calculated to encourage the recruiting of his followers by
establishing a reputation for lavish generosity to those who obeyed him,
in contrast to his merciless severity to the recalcitrant ones.

An hour later MYalu was summoned from the sweating throng squatted before
the line of demon keepers through the giant ebon guards to audience with
the Son-of-the-Earthquake. At the entrance as bidden he knelt, for he knew
that he would be compelled did he refuse. A white flame was in his heart,
but yet the magnificence of the son of the World Trembler and his
satellites, the terrible ghosts of the distant white god, with amulets and
charms upon his breast, had awed and subdued MYalu. Then came the voice of
Sakamata relating that the chief MYalu, son of MBusa, made complaint to
the Son-of-the-Earthquake that his slaves, the keepers of the coughing
demons, had taken a girl named Bakuma, daughter of Bakala, and that he
craved restitution of his property. While this was being translated by the
corporal interpreter, MYalu watched the magic flame in the mouth of
Eyes-in-the-hands, marvelling greatly at the smoke which emerged. Then
said the interpreter:

“The son of the Lord-of-the-World, the Earthquake, the World Trembler who
eats up whom he pleases, whose eyes see all things, whose sword slays all
things, whose breath is the rain, whose voice is the thunder, whose teeth
are the lightning, whose frown is the earthquake, whose smile is the sun,
whose ear is the moon, whose eyes are the stars, whose body is the world,
saith that when the son of MBusa (MYalu) bringeth three chiefs of the same
rank to sit at the Feet then shall the daughter of Bakala return unto him,
but in the meantime shall her girdle remain untied. He hath spoken!”

As he finished zu Pfeiffer made the signal of dismissal with his jewelled
hand, but MYalu with the throb of that distant drum in his ears, cried out
in protest, saying:

“The words of the Son-of-the-Earthquake are like unto spears made of
grass!”

The interpreter boggled at the translation of the sentence. Zu Pfeiffer
saw a ripple of insubordination. He rapped out an order to have the man
taken away and given fifty lashes. Instantly the guards surrounded MYalu,
who submitted in sudden misgiving, and led him away to receive the
punishment.

Zu Pfeiffer gave orders that the girl Bakuma should be found and called
the next case, Kalomato the elderly chief who had had all his property
sequestered until he should deliver his eldest son as hostage. He was a
slight withered old man with a white tuft of beard and at the hands of the
askaris, after considerable endurance, had screamed his submission. Now he
hobbled into zu Pfeiffer’s presence with the aid of a stick. Pompously the
interpreter recited the list of the titles of the august one, and then
dwelt upon the wondrous benefits to be obtained at the magic jewelled
hands, and demanded that the old chief “eat the dust” and obey the royal
mandate.

But the sharp eyes gazed steadily from their wrinkled sockets with a
curious gleam in them as he mumbled that “his soul had wandered” (he had
dreamed) “and had met the spirit of Tarum, who had forbidden him to obey
the white god.”

“The shenzie” (savage—used contemptuously) “longs for more fire for his
paws, O Bwana,” translated the interpreter into Kiswahili.

“What does he say?” demanded zu Pfeiffer.

“He says, Bwana, that he hath dreamed that his god hath told him that he
must not obey you. Indio, Bwana.”

“Tell him that I slew his god, as every man knows.”

“The Son-of-the-Earthquake bids thee to know that he hath eaten up thy god
as he eateth up thy warriors when his wrath is aroused. Eat dust that thy
beard grow yet longer; stretch thy tongue and thou shalt be eaten entirely
and all that is thine!”

“The Fire is lighted,” mumbled the old man.

“What does he say?” demanded zu Pfeiffer sharply.

“He attempts to make magic against thee, Bwana,” replied the interpreter
who knew not the meaning of the phrase.

“Take away the animal,” commanded zu Pfeiffer.

The old man was accordingly led out to the further attentions of the
soldiery. But during that afternoon zu Pfeiffer became conscious of a
subtle air of defiance, a restlessness and exchanging of glances, so that
the demon which Bakunjala had once seen so vividly came back to roost
somewhere beneath the immaculate uniform.

Neither he nor his sergeants nor their men could speak the Wongolo tongue
fluently, so that for interpreter he was compelled to employ one of the
corporals. To employ any newly subjected race or tribe as soldiers or in
any responsible capacity is unwise, for ties of blood are liable to lead
to treachery; to trust to the idiosyncrasies and personal values of any
native interpreter is equally impolitic. Zu Pfeiffer and his party were as
unaware of the meaning of the phrases exchanged as they were of the
message in the throbbing of that distant drum. Between the conqueror and
the subjected tribe was a wall denser than any steel; the same wall of
tabu of the craft that Birnier was finding so difficult to penetrate.

Every attempt to persuade any of the witch-doctors to disclose the secrets
of their craft through the interpreter was doomed to failure; even had zu
Pfeiffer been able to speak the dialect as well as Birnier he would never
have accomplished it. Yet he tried the impossible. The answer was
invariably a mask of ox-like stupidity or the retort that he, being a
mighty magician, must needs know that he did but “tickle their feet”! At
length, irritated by this persistence, he had Sakamata put to the torture
and had for his pains a story in which the idol as the first man was the
father of the tribe whom the people believed to have been eaten up
literally, so that the conqueror had become the father of the people,
having the idol inside him, and the chance that the tale had a faint
resemblance to an account by a Frenchman of the superstitions of a West
African tribe, convinced him. Implicitly he believed the ingenious yarn
invented by a wily witch-doctor to save his hide and the perquisites of
his job by placating the white man, the trap into which most white
chroniclers have fallen. This conviction, which flattered his sagacity and
lulled any suspicions, strengthened his arm in the delivering of
punishment and reward.



                                CHAPTER 25


In the camp of Bakahenzie was the low mutter of the drums by day and
night. The village had straggled farther through the forest in each
direction save that of the sacred enclosure. Already were some five
hundred warriors there and more were pouring in every day. Busy were
Bakahenzie and wizards, great and small, in the preparing of amulets of
the hearts of lions, livers of leopards and galls of birds, and the
brewing of potent decoctions to be smeared with parrot feathers upon the
warriors old and young against the evil eye and the spirits of the night.
And dispensed by Bakahenzie and Marufa, from whom had come the original
idea, was a special and rather expensive charm against the coughing
monsters, which was made by, and invested with, the magic of the King-God
himself, a can key. That morning had there been a special meeting of the
craft and the chiefs before the sacred enclosure, where they had looked
upon the sacred form of the King-God and heard the magic elephant’s ear
give them instructions and a prophecy. Around and about a hundred fires,
flickering mystically in the moist cavern of the forest, shuffled and
chanted the warriors invoking the aid of Tarum, the spirit of their
ancestors.

On the threshold of his hut squatted a sullen Zalu Zako. He had discovered
that he had escaped from the river bearing him to the pool of celibacy to
find that the bird had been captured by another. Although he had known
that before attaining his desire he would have had to extricate Bakuma
from the net of the tabu, yet, lover-like and human, that task
unconsidered had seemed as easy as stalking a buck in a wood. But the joy
of his own release had been dissipated as a cloud of dust by a shower by
the news of MYalu’s abduction of the girl and his desertion. Zalu Zako was
so obsessed by chagrin at this wholly unexpected appearance of a rival
that he was inclined to regret that he had ever thought of the move by
which he could escape his late doom and rescue Bakuma at the same time.
The illusion of nearness to the desired object had served naturally to
whet his appetite; the balked love motive dominated him almost to the
exclusion of political affairs. What his official status was now that all
precedent had been broken Bakahenzie did not know and had not decided, and
Zalu Zako cared less.

Though his faith in most of the tribal theology was unshaken, he did not
believe in the sanctity, or the necessity, of the marriage of the Bride of
the Banana, because he had a defensive complex of desire for her that
inhibited that belief. Towards MYalu, Zalu Zako’s natural reaction was
revenge. The matter was how to accomplish that end. To reveal to
Bakahenzie that he was the lover of Bakuma would be tantamount to
admitting sacrilege in having a passion for the Bride of the Banana.

As Zalu Zako was unable to get at the person of his rival the most logical
method to his mind was by witchcraft. To obtain some relics of the body of
MYalu proved easy, as his wives and slaves being forced to flee, had been
unable to burn the deserted hut, thus leaving in the customary place in
the thatch some of the hair and nail clippings. Also to find an excuse for
the cursing of MYalu was still easier. So at a meeting of the chiefs he
rivalled Bakahenzie in denunciation of the absconding chief, insisted that
a mighty magic be made against him and produced the necessary corporeal
parts upon which to work. So it was that Bakahenzie and Marufa, a quiet
watchful Marufa, brewed the magic brew and condemned MYalu by the proxy of
his nail clippings to die, a process that took root in a very firm
conviction in the mind of Zalu Zako and the others that die MYalu would.

After this satisfaction of the first fierce instinct Zalu Zako was more at
liberty to consider other matters, which resulted in an effort to quicken
the collective will to recover the tribe’s country and possessions,
symbolised in Zalu Zako’s mind by the delicate figure of Bakuma.

The ceremony of the lighting of the new fires he had attended
perfunctorily. To have regret or pity for the white man, Moonspirit who
had taken over his doom, never occurred to Zalu Zako, for to him as to
Bakahenzie Moonspirit was a mighty magician who, if competent to effect
the magic he had already displayed, was capable of looking after himself;
moreover, as he had recalled the Unmentionable One, he stood as the
incarnation of the tribe, the god, therefore beyond human consideration.

Bakahenzie’s chief regard was, of course, to unify the tribe once more and
to rouse those who had submitted to Eyes-in-the-hands to rebellion, which
was but a projection of his desire, as that of all patriots, to
consolidate his own position and to regain his lost prestige. He had had
no need to command that the news be sent abroad. At the ceremony of the
Lighting of the Fires the drum notes had been picked up by the nearest
village and sent ricocheting across the length and breadth of the country,
rippling through the Court of the Son-of-the-Earthquake.

Bakahenzie’s confidence had increased tenfold since, by his clever coup,
he had locked up the white magician in the godhead. He believed that
Moonspirit was the mightiest magician the world had ever seen, a demi-god;
for had he, Bakahenzie, not seen these wondrous miracles with his own
eyes? Had not he, Bakahenzie, captured and tamed this marvellous power to
his own ends?

So absolute was this confidence in the powers of the white that Bakahenzie
was perfectly sincere, as Mungongo and Bakuma had been, in asserting that
the “son of the Lord-of-many-Lands” was pleased to pretend that “an
elephant was a mouse,” that he “tickled their feet.” The only doubt raised
in his mind at that interview was whether he could persuade this powerful
being to destroy the usurper “out of hand,” as it were, or even whether
Moonspirit could do so; for it was quite reasonable to him to suppose that
even a god, in fighting another god, might have to do battle for the
victory.

Not in spite of, but because of, this firm faith Bakahenzie took more
precautions than ever before to surround the captured god with the
toughest fibres of the tabu to keep him in isolation. Obviously such a
valuable prize demanded special precautions. He promulgated an ordinance,
in the amplitude of his regained power, that no lay man nor any wizard
save the inner cult, whom he dared not forbid, were to approach within
sight of the sacred enclosure. In the jungle of his mind lurked the fear
that the new god might be seen to leave the sacred ground and thus render
the penalty of death imperative according to the laws of the tabu upon a
god who jeopardised the tribal welfare as MFunya MPopo had done by his
failure to bring rain. The belief that he could control a force which he
admitted was infinitely greater than he, and of punishing it if it did not
behave, was not at all inconsistent to the native mind, nor more illogical
than many theological ideas of whites.

At the last interview Bakahenzie had tried to persuade Birnier to permit
him to speak into the mighty ear of the magic box; in effect an attempt to
gain complete control. But Birnier, when he at length had realised that
Bakahenzie’s mental development was little greater than Mungongo’s, and
keenly aware of the isolation to which he was to be subjected, as well as
the purpose in the witch-doctor’s mind, had resolutely refused. Bakahenzie
had accepted the intimation that the god would not work miracles through
any other mouth than that of his incarnation, and after a long cogitative
silence had departed without further comment.

But of course he came back again next day, as Birnier had known that he
would. Birnier hinted at the expected initiation into the “mysteries” of
the craft, particularly of the Festival of the Banana and the other
ceremonies connected with his rôle as King-God. But Bakahenzie’s gaze,
fixed upon an object on the toilet table, did not quiver. Birnier repeated
the inquiry more bluntly. Said Bakahenzie:

“The fingers of the son of Maliko are hungry to touch the magic knife of
the son of the Lord-of-many-Lands.”

“Damn it,” muttered Birnier. “That’s my favourite!” But he handed the
razor to Bakahenzie, saying: “Is not the porridge pot free to all
brothers?” Gravely Bakahenzie slipped the safety razor into his loin
cloth, mumbled the orthodox adieu and departed.

Although devoted to Birnier as much as ever, Mungongo was bound just as
much by the articles of the tabu as any other native; in fact, since his
appointment to the high office of Keeper of the Fires, he was if possible
more terrified by the bogies of their theology than before. Put one foot
out of the sacred ground he would not, for he was convinced that
immediately he did so, the ghosts of the dead kings would instantly
strangle him. Birnier attempted to persuade him to get into communication
with Marufa, but that wily gentleman, grieving over the failure of the
coup he had aided Birnier to make, and for the moment completely under the
domination of Bakahenzie, who, he knew, had him watched every moment of
the day and night, would never approach the Place of the Unmentionable
One. Nor dared Zalu Zako break the tabu placed by Bakahenzie. To
Bakahenzie and not to Birnier he owed his escape from the dreaded godhood.
One who had released him might quite reasonably have him back again if
annoyed. The few wizards who came to gaze at the imprisoned god like
children at the Zoo, as Birnier had commented, were deaf to any remark,
instruction, or plea of the Holy One. So it was that Birnier began to
realise that the functions of a god were so very purely divine that he
would never be allowed to interfere in human affairs at all except by
grace of the high priest, and possibly he was not the first god who had
found that out.

This jungle of secrecy and the denial of any active part in the organising
of the tribe began to irritate Birnier. Yet he perceived clearly enough
from his knowledge of the native mind that a premature effort to force
either confidence or action would end in disaster. Patience and
perseverance alone would bring success; and the moulding of the material
through forces which already controlled it. He must play the witch-doctor
to the full. Working upon this hypothesis he determined to control
Bakahenzie through “messages” from the spirit of Tarum. The trouble was to
find out whether Bakahenzie would obey him or not and to what extent.

So in the early hours of one morning Bakahenzie’s watchers in the forest
shuddered as they heard more of the mysterious voices of the Unmentionable
One making wondrous magic within the temple as Mungongo chanted, at
Birnier’s prompting, the god’s instructions to his high priest and people.
The form of the chant was not correct as Mungongo’s memory was very
unreliable, but as Birnier remarked to the portrait of Lucille, “I don’t
suppose Maestro Bakahenzie is such a stylist as he would have the public
suppose.” Afterwards, to Mungongo’s delight, who was never tired of any
manifestation of Moonspirit’s magic, he put out the light and lay upon his
bed within the temple listening to the voice of Lucille pouring out the
passion of “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix,” in _Samson et Delilah_, to the
sleepy ears of the monkeys above the figure of the idol limned against the
moon-patterned roof of the forest.

But scarcely had the moist ultramarine shadows turned to mauve than the
voice of Bakahenzie hailed the god most punctiliously from without.
However Birnier happened to be sleepy, and the chance of the early hour
presented such an opportunity to gain prestige that he sent the Keeper of
the Fires to inform the High Priest that the god was not yet up and that
he must needs wait. And wait did Bakahenzie, like unto a graven image at
the gate until the sun was four hand’s-spans above the trees. When Birnier
had breakfasted upon broiled kid, eggs, banana and weak tea, Bakahenzie
was summoned to the august presence.

Wondering what new idea Bakahenzie had gotten into his head Birnier
solemnly talked the usual preliminaries, intending to announce in the best
manner that Tarum had a message for the son of Maliko; but to his
astonishment Bakahenzie forestalled him by demanding to know when the god
would speak again.

When Mungongo had gravely placed the machine at his feet Birnier set the
record. The chant bade the son of Maliko to summon the wizards and the
warriors of the tribe to the abode of the Unmentionable One; to send to
those who had fallen into the power of Eyes-in-the-hands instructions that
they were not to reveal by word or deed that the Unmentionable One had
been pleased to return, but to wait like a wild cat at a fish pool until a
signal was given through the drums, when they were to smite swiftly at
every keeper of the demons and to flee immediately to their brethren in
the forest; that they were on no account to kill or wound
Eyes-in-the-hands nor any white man that was his, lest their powerful
ghosts exact a terrible penalty and refuse to be propitiated; that when
these things had been done would the spirit of Tarum issue further
instructions.

In composing this message Bernier had sought to gain the advantage of a
surprise attack and to secure the massacre of as many of the askaris as
possible; to save zu Pfeiffer and his white sergeants from the fate which
would await them should they fall into the hands of the Wongolo; to
minimise the loss of men which would occur were the tribe to attempt to
face the guns; afterwards to lure zu Pfeiffer away from his fortifications
and the open country, in order to compel him to fight in the forest where
he could not ascertain what force was against him; and in the meantime to
slip round and establish the idol in the Place of Kings, which act would
consolidate the moral of the tribe as well as cut the line of zu
Pfeiffer’s communications with Ingonya.

As Bakahenzie listened gravely and attentively, Birnier keenly watched his
face. Although the mask did not quiver, a half suppressed grunt at the end
persuaded him that Bakahenzie was duly impressed, but he made no comment.
After regarding Mungongo solemnly putting away the machine Bakahenzie
remarked casually:

“In the village is a messenger from Eyes-in-the-hands who sends thee
greetings.”

This was the first news that Birnier had received since his ascent to the
godhood. He had expected that sooner or later zu Pfeiffer would hear of
the presence of a white man, but he was rather startled at the inference
that zu Pfeiffer knew who he was. He made no visible sign as he waited.
Bakahenzie took snuff interestedly and continued:

“Eyes-in-the-hands bids thee to go unto the Place of Kings to eat the dust
before him.”

Bakahenzie regarded him with keen eyes. Birnier considered swiftly. From
the latter part of the message he gathered that zu Pfeiffer was not aware
of his identity. His opinion of zu Pfeiffer’s character suggested certain
psychological possibilities. His policy was to lure him away from his
fort; to destroy his military judgment. Therefore to cause him at this
juncture to be violently disturbed by a personal emotion might tend to
confuse his mind. Enmity—fear—might equally serve as the lure required. In
spite of committing a breach of native etiquette Birnier could not resist
smiling. He reached for the “Anatomy” and as he scribbled two words he
said to Bakahenzie solemnly:

“O son of Maliko, say unto this man of many tongues as well as many eyes,
‘that the jackal follows the lion that he may feed upon his leavings; that
the voice of the hyena is loudest when he eateth offal.’ And shall the
slave take unto him that which is mighty magic, such magic that when
Eyes-in-the-hands doth but touch it shall he trumpet like unto a wounded
cow elephant. Bid him to mark that my words be white!”

And when Bakahenzie had gone Birnier turned to the portrait on the wall
and remarked as he indulged in the luxury of a grin: “Say, honey, but if
that doesn’t make him mad, I’ll—I’ll eat my own manuscripts!”



                                CHAPTER 26


In a corner of one of the half-completed huts in a half-completed street
of the new village of the Place of Kings squatted Yabolo and other chiefs.
As Sakamata was up in the fort serving Eyes-in-the-hands they could talk
freely, yet in low tones and with wary eyes for the interstices of the
unfinished wall. More than one chief had been thrashed but none as high in
rank as MYalu; moreover, those that had been severely punished had been
taken in fair fight or had attempted to escape, whereas MYalu had done
nothing that they considered to merit punishment. The growing detestation
and hatred smouldering within all of them against the new ruler had burst
into flame at the first hint of the news vibrating upon the moist air.
Later had come another drum message bidding them await new words of Tarum,
and forty-eight hours afterwards the messenger sent by zu Pfeiffer to
summon Moonspirit, who squatted in the group, whispered word for word
Birnier’s message on the phonograph, adding further instructions from
Bakahenzie that the signal should be another message upon the drums: “The
Fire is lighted.”

Warm banana wrapped in leaves, which a slave had brought in, was placed
before the chiefs while the messenger related the gossip of the village in
the forest. Later, while lolling through the mid-day heat waiting for the
time of audience, he produced from his loin cloth the magic charm which
the son of the Lord-of-many-Lands, the King-God, had sent to
Eyes-in-the-hands and repeated the prophecy that he should trumpet like
unto a wounded cow elephant, eliciting many grunts of admiration and awe.
Then he inquired for Sakamata and MYalu, and upon hearing the account,
reported that they were both traitors and had been condemned to die by the
magic of Bakahenzie and Marufa.

Each and every chief felt that he had been betrayed by Sakamata. Even
Yabolo, his relative, particularly because his visionary schemes had come
to nought, was against Sakamata. Sakamata had heard the message of the
drums, “The Fire is lighted.” But of the details of the return of the
Unmentionable One and of the new King-God he knew nothing, although every
other Wongolo man, woman, and child, knew it. The terror of the tabu, of
the power of the Unmentionable One, was more overwhelming than his fear of
Eyes-in-the-hands, wizard and ex-member of the inner cult though he be.
The Unmentionable One had returned, a miracle! In a thousand signs of
birds and beasts, twigs and shadows, Sakamata saw omens of evil. He knew
that he was an outcast, that his fellows were plotting; that they knew
something that he did not; yet he dared not tell Eyes-in-the-hands lest he
be killed on the instant, not by Eyes-in-the-hands but by the mystic power
of the Unmentionable One.

Farther down the line, in a small hut, lay MYalu motionless. His mind was
a whirling red spot of rage and pain, obliterating the image of Bakuma,
his ivory, and everything. From the base of the spine to his neck he was
criss-crossed with bloody weals administered with a kiboko (whip of
hippopotamus hide) by one of the black giants who formed the door guard at
the tent of Eyes-in-the-hands. More stimulating to his anger even than the
excessive pain was the indignity, that he, MYalu, son of MBusa, a chief,
had been flogged like a slave before all men! Could he have gotten free he
would have leaped upon zu Pfeiffer, god or no, and torn him to pieces with
hands and teeth. But he could scarcely move. Never had such an act been
conceived by MYalu. The native dignity and reserve was shattered. He lay
upon his belly and glared with the eyes of a maddened and tortured animal.

The yellow glare in the open doorway was darkened, but MYalu did not stir.
The figure of Yabolo, a short throwing sword in hand, moved towards him
and squatted down, muttering greetings. MYalu made no response. Yabolo
repeated the message from the spirit of Tarum.

“Let thy spear be made sharp, O son of MBusa, that we may make the jackal
who would command the lion to eat offal!” MYalu grunted. “The son of
Bayakala saith that it will be soon, so that thou mayest yet eat of thy
defiler ere thou art gone to ghostland.” MYalu turned his head. “The son
of MTungo and the son of Maliko,” explained the old man, “have made magic
upon the parts which thou didst foolishly leave within thy hut.”

Again MYalu merely grunted and turned away his head. But that dread news
had quenched the white flame of anger. The spirits were wroth; even had
they caused him to eat the dust before all men. Conviction in the efficacy
of the magic for which he would have bought Marufa to make against Zalu
Zako was as absolute as his faith in the death magic made against him by
the two powerful witch-doctors, and intensified by the miraculous return
of the Unmentionable One against whom he had committed sacrilege. He
recollected the cry of the Baroto bird on the night on which he had
kidnapped the Bride of the Banana. The spirit of Tarum was wroth. The
mighty new King-God of the Unmentionable One was about to eat up all the
enemies of the land. MYalu was convinced that he was doomed; certain that
Yabolo knew that he was doomed; that every man knew that he was doomed.

For ten minutes the figures, squatting and lying, remained as motionless
as bronzes. Then MYalu rose to his knees and said calmly: “Give me thy
sword, O son of Zingala.”

Silently Yabolo handed him the sword which MYalu placed beneath him and
laid down again. So quietly he died.

From the sacred hill blared the harsh cry of the yellow bird, as the
natives called the trumpet, announcing that the august presence was in
audience. But instead of the usual crowd of immobile figures squatted
almost under the shadow of the pom-pom within the gate of the fort, sat
only the messenger. Sakamata, knowing that something portended and yet not
exactly what, was so scared that his skinny limbs quivered as if with an
ague. Although he desired to warn Eyes-in-the-hands in order to save
himself, he dared not attempt to do so lest the august one visit his anger
upon his person; vague ideas of redeeming his treachery by delivering
Eyes-in-the-hands over to his countrymen were stoppered by terror of the
wrath of the Unmentionable One.

So it was that the pomp of the Son-of-the-Earthquake and the glory of the
soul of the World-Trembler with many charms upon his breast was reserved
for the humble messenger who entered escorted by Sakamata. After bowing in
the prescribed manner the messenger squatted at zu Pfeiffer’s feet and
addressed himself to the corporal interpreter.

“The son of the Lord-of-many-lands, that is the King-God of the
One-not-to-be-mentioned, sends greeting to the son of the World-Trembler,
called Eyes-in-the-hands, and this message: ‘Say unto the man of many
tongues as well as many eyes that the jackal follows the lion that he may
feed on the leavings; the voice of the hyena is loudest when he eateth
offal!’”

“What does the animal say?” demanded zu Pfeiffer, impatient of the native
preamble.

“He says, Bwana,” said the interpreter, “that the white man is sick and
cannot move, but that he will come as soon as he is well.”

From the folds of his loin cloth the messenger was dutifully extracting
something wrapped up in a banana leaf, which he handed to the interpreter
as he finished the message:

“And by his slave he sendeth that which is mighty magic; such magic that
he who toucheth it shall trumpet like unto a wounded cow elephant.”

“He says, Bwana,” continued the interpreter glibly, “that he sends to the
mighty Eater-of-Men a small present,” and with the words the corporal
guilelessly proffered the small package. Zu Pfeiffer took it and tore off
the covering.…

Then was the magic of the new King-god of the Unmentionable One made
manifest to all men, and particularly a group of chiefs hiding in a small
thicket beneath the hill, for indeed did the Son-of-the-Earthquake trumpet
like unto a wounded cow elephant at the sight of an ivory disc on which
was written:

“Amantes—Amentes!”



                                CHAPTER 27


All day at Fort Eitel had been stir and bustle, the blare of trumpets and
the barking of sergeants, white and black. Long lines of women and slaves
streamed in from the surrounding countryside bearing loads of corn and
bananas. In the half-made parade ground at the foot of the hill of Kawa
Kendi, half a company of Wongolo whom zu Pfeiffer had conscripted from the
chiefs, stumbled and ran in awkward squads. In the hut of the Wongolo
chiefs squatted Yabolo among the rest, silently observing the preparations
for the punitive expedition which Sakamata had informed them was being
prepared in response to the insolent challenge of the white man who had
allied himself with the “rebels.” But over them, as well as every Wongolo
in and about the place, was a sullen air not of defiance but of expectant
listening.

In the mess hut a nervous Bakunjala prepared the table for dinner, the
whites of his eyes rolling at every sound of zu Pfeiffer’s voice from the
marquee adjoining. Never in his experience, nor in that of other servants
or soldiers, had the demon so utterly possessed the dread Eater-of-Men as
since the receipt of some terrible magic sent to him by the white man.
Opinion was divided as to whether this white man was the one who had been
arrested and sent to the coast with Corporal Inyira or whether he was a
brother; some said that the magic leaf which the messenger had brought was
the soul of the white man, others maintained that it was the incarnation
of Bakra, which explained why the Eater-of-Men was so entirely possessed.
Had he not screamed? they demanded, which clearly proved, as everybody
knew, the dreadful agony as the ghost entered into the body.

Even the white sergeants were frightened of their chief. They had been
seen talking together secretly, doubtless discussing what medicine they
could give him to exorcise the demon. Had he not been commanded by this
demon to leave the safety of the fort where they had the guns on the
hills, and to go into the forest where, as anybody knew, their eyes would
be taken from them so that they could not see to kill the dogs of Wongolo?
They were all conscious, native-like, that something was brewing among the
Wongolo, but what it was exactly they did not know. Two men had had fifty
lashes that morning because they had not saluted the totem—flag—correctly;
and a Wongolo chief had been shot because he had not brought in the amount
of ivory commanded. None dared to warn the Eater-of-Men. Some one had said
that the “leaf” was the soul of the idol come to lead the Eater-of-Men to
destruction. This idea took deep root among the Wunyamwezi soldiers, for
although they had delighted in the slaughter and rapine under the
leadership of the Eater-of-Men, yet always had there been an uneasy
feeling of sacrilege in destroying an idol.

In the half of the marquee reserved for the Kommandant’s private quarters
sat zu Pfeiffer in his camp chair with the inevitable stinger at his
elbow. Erect by the door stood Sergeant Schultz taking details for the
disposition of stores and troops during the absence of the punitive
expedition. Never had he in four years’ service seen the lieutenant as he
was now. Although Schultz could speak Kiswahili fluently he knew no word
of Munyamwezi, else he might have been disposed to agree with Bakunjala
and his friends. As it was he thought that the Herr Lieutenant had gotten
a touch of the sun or was drinking too heavily or perhaps a bit of both;
for to his mind the act of dividing up their scanty forces and leaving
their fortified positions to enter the forest, with no chance of keeping
open the line of communication, appeared to be military suicide.

He deemed it his duty to bring this point of view to his Kommandant’s
notice, but he was uncomfortably aware of zu Pfeiffer’s headstrong
character.

“What time does the moon set, sergeant?” demanded zu Pfeiffer.

“About three, Excellence.”

“Good. Then at five precisely the column will move. Warn Sergeant
Schneider.”

“Ya, Excellence.”

“You will transfer the remainder of your men and the Nordenfeldt as soon
as we have gone.”

“Ya, Excellence.”

“That is all, sergeant.”

Zu Pfeiffer dropped his head wearily on to his hand. Schultz remained
rigidly by the door. Zu Pfeiffer glanced up peevishly.

“I said that was all, sergeant,” he exclaimed tetchily.

“Ya, Excellence.”

“Herr Gott, what are you standing there for like a stuffed pig?”

Schultz saluted.

“Excellence, it is my duty to remind your Excellence that according to
regulation 47 of …”

“To hell with you and your regulations, damn you.… Will you leave me
alone!” The last was almost a plea.

“Excellence!”

Schultz saluted briskly and went. Again zu Pfeiffer’s head dropped on to
the cupped hand and he gazed at the portrait in the ivory frame.… Against
the blue twilight of the door appeared a tall figure in white.

“What in the name of——” began zu Pfeiffer.

“Chakula tayari, Bwana,” announced Bakunjala timidly.

“I don’t want any chakula,” said zu Pfeiffer. “Wait. Bring some here.”

“Bwana!”

Bakunjala fled, to reappear almost instantly with a covered plate, which
he placed on the table as bidden and vanished. Zu Pfeiffer regarded
distastefully his favourite dish of curried eggs. Then he bawled
irritably:

“Lights, animal!”

“Bwana!” gasped Bakunjala appearing in the doorway with the lamp.

But zu Pfeiffer pushed the plate away to stare at the photograph of
Lucille. The stare turned to a glare, and then as if mutinying against his
god, as Kawa Kendi had done when summoning rain, he suddenly snatched at
the frame and flung it upon the floor with an oath, grabbed up a fountain
pen and began to write.

Indeed zu Pfeiffer was half insane with anger which he was disposed to
vent upon Lucille by proxy as the source of yet another trouble and
possibly official disgrace. He had not had a notion that Birnier could
have survived the gentle hands of the corporal until without warning came
that ivory disc with “Amantes—Amentes!” scribbled upon it, which not only
inferred that Birnier had escaped, but that he was near to him and
intended to champion these native dogs against the Imperial Government in
the person of himself.

The message had been made the more insulting by the note of exclamation at
the end implying derisive laughter. It had, as Birnier had calculated that
it would, struck zu Pfeiffer upon the most tender spot in his mental
anatomy, evoking a homicidal mania which dominated his consciousness. To
be cheated, to be swindled, to be sworn at, cursed, even to be beaten was
sufferable to a degree, but to be laughed at—zu Pfeiffer’s haughty soul
exploded like a bomb at an impact. For a time he had been absolutely
incoherent with rage. His one impulse had been to rush out and tear
Birnier limb from limb. Well might the listening natives believe in the
mighty magic of the new King-God, that it should make the
Son-of-the-Earthquake to trumpet like a wounded cow elephant!

Then out of the dissolving acrid smoke of wounded pride begin to loom
arbitrary points. First, that Birnier would have complained, as he once
had threatened to do, to Washington, which would infuriate the authorities
in Berlin; and secondly, that he would have written to Lucille revealing
the attempt he had made upon the life of her husband as well as the things
he had said. How Birnier had escaped was immaterial, but the particular
fate that awaited Corporal Inyira was decided but futilely; for the bold
son of Banyala and his merry men were footing it to the south of lake
Tanganika, scared by day lest the long arm of the Eater-of-Men should
overtake them and haunted by the terror of seeing another illuminated
ghost by night.

As the jewelled hand glittered in the lamp-light came the mutter of a
distant drum on the moist darkness; zu Pfeiffer, abnormally irritable,
raised his head, scowled, and muttering that he would have to issue an
order to have the drums stopped, bent again to the uncongenial task of
finishing the report due for headquarters before he left. The drum ceased;
began again and was answered by another drum seemingly nearer at hand.

Five or ten minutes elapsed. As zu Pfeiffer took up a fresh sheet of paper
a shot rang out followed instantly by yells. Zu Pfeiffer with an oath
sprang to his feet, snatched at the revolver hanging above his camp bed
and rushed out as a fusillade of shots mingled with wilder cries. The
gruff coughs of the corporal in charge of the guard competed with the
sharp barks of Sergeant Schultz. Zu Pfeiffer, bawling for a sergeant, ran
to the great gate where the pom-pom was stationed. On the opposite hill
red flashes of rifle fire darted downwards. Came another outburst of
yelling. Forms of askaris scurrying to their places round the fence
brushed by him on every side.

“Sergeant Schultz!” shouted zu Pfeiffer.

A figure in white appeared beside him in the darkness.

“Excellence!”

“Put the gun on them! Quick!”

At the bark of the sergeant the gun crew, already at their post, deftly
manipulated the machine which coughed angry red bursts of flame into the
darkness. The cries and howls ceased as suddenly as they had begun.

“Cease fire!” commanded zu Pfeiffer.

In the resulting stillness muttered shouts and cries from somewhere in the
village below were punctuated by odd shots from the other hill.

“Sergeant Ludwig!” yelled zu Pfeiffer.

“Excellence!”

“Report!” snapped zu Pfeiffer.

“An unknown body of natives attacked and killed the sentry on the eastern
gate, Excellence,” came Sergeant Ludwig’s voice from the gloom. “They
entered and were repulsed according to instructions. That is all,
Excellence.”

“Losses?”

“None other, Excellence.”

“What about the lower guards?”

“I do not know, Excellence.”

“Take a platoon and investigate. We will cover you with the gun.”

“Excellence.”

The mutter of his orders was drowned in the excited jabber of the askaris.

“Didimalla!” came the dreaded voice of the Eater-of-Men. Instantly there
was silence. “Report!” commanded zu Pfeiffer to Sergeant Schultz.

“A body of natives attacked upon the western gate, Excellence. They were
repulsed.”

“Losses?”

“Two men killed and three wounded.”

“Ugm! Where’s the interpreter?”

“Bwana!”

Cloth creaked as the man saluted in the dark.

“Where is Sakamata?” demanded zu Pfeiffer in Kiswahili.

“Here, Excellence,” replied Sergeant Schultz. “He was running away. I had
him arrested.”

“Good. Bring the animal to my quarters.”

“Excellence.”

The sergeant and the interpreter, with a trembling Sakamata between them,
followed zu Pfeiffer to the tent. As he entered he picked up the portrait
in the ivory frame and replaced it carefully on the table and sat down.

“Ask the shenzie why he has not informed us of this attack?”

The interpreter put the question to the terrified old man who mumbled that
he had not known anything about it.

“Ugm!” grunted zu Pfeiffer. “Send for a file of men, sergeant, and—— No!”
Zu Pfeiffer rose. “I’ll get the truth out of him. Stand aside, corporal!”

The corporal obeyed with alacrity as jerking his revolver downwards zu
Pfeiffer pulled the trigger. The shot took off two of Sakamata’s smaller
toes. The corporal grinned in appreciation. Zu Pfeiffer experienced a
shadow of the pleasure he would have had in mutilating Birnier.

“Pull him up!” commanded zu Pfeiffer. “Now ask him again!”

For a moment or two Sakamata, scarcely conscious of any pain in his
fright, could not comprehend what was said; at length he mumbled and
muttered. The interpreter lowered his head to listen.

“Well?”

“He says, Bwana, that he does not know anything; that they will not tell
him, but that he has heard that the god has come back.”

“The god! What god?”

“The god which these shenzie (savages) had here before the Bwana came.”

“The idol!” Zu Pfeiffer ripped out an oath. Then glaring questioningly at
the shrunken figure on the floor considered.

“Tell him he lies. How does he know that the idol has come back if they
will not tell him anything?”

Again the interpreter jabbered at Sakamata who mumbled back.

“He says, Bwana, that his words are white. That they have not told him,
but that he has heard the message of the drums. ‘The Fire is lighted!’”

“What is that?”

“I don’t know, Bwana.”

“Ask him, you swine pig!”

“He says that whenever there is a new king that they call out those words,
meaning that he is come.”

“Ugm!” Zu Pfeiffer took out a cigar and lighted it as he considered. I
believe the animal is right, he reflected. That swinehund American has
done this! He turned sharply to Sergeant Schultz: “Post double guards;
bring me Ludwig’s report and take this thing away and have it shot.”

“Excellence!”

The party went out. Zu Pfeiffer sat smoking fiercely. A single shot rang
out. Presently came Sergeant Ludwig in person.

“I have to report, Excellence, that the investigation infers that the
attack was only made with the purpose of freeing the sons of chiefs, for
the picket has been slain but all the others are unhurt save three
wounded.”

Zu Pfeiffer swore mightily, but he dismissed the sergeant with an
admonition to have his troops ready for inspection at four-thirty. He
drank a brandy neat and sat on, staring at the darkness. Then suddenly he
exclaimed and wheeled to the abandoned report.

“This is an undeniable overt act,” he muttered, seeing what he considered
an opportunity to neutralise the suppositious complaint which Birnier had
sent to Washington; and taking up his pen began a formal accusation
against Birnier, as an American subject, for having violated the
international laws of the Geneva Convention by aiding and abetting rebels
of his Imperial Majesty.



                                CHAPTER 28


Sergeant Schultz’s gloomy foreboding of the inevitable result attending
the refusal to follow the teachings of his national preceptors was
justified.

Zu Pfeiffer, crazed with wounded pride or magic, according to the white or
black point of view, had held rigidly to his schedule; precisely at
four-thirty he had inspected the expedition and marched at the first
streak of dawn. Schultz removed to the other hill, leaving twenty-five men
and a gun under a black sergeant. Afterwards he visited the village. The
bodies of five of the picket were lying in the sun mutilated. Not a native
of any sort was to be seen or heard. He sent out scouts. A village a
couple of miles away was deserted too. He wished to burn the huts and
plantation to clear the ground around the fort but he dared not do so
without orders. Muttering to himself he returned and posted double
sentries.

Throughout the day and the moonlight not a sound of a drum or the voice of
a native disturbed the moist heat. He slept for a while and then took to
pacing upon the levee outside the fort. He was aware of a restlessness
among the men. About midnight a nervous sentry fired at a moving shadow in
the village. Erratic shots followed; flickered and ceased at the
sergeant’s angry order. The trees seemed to whisper mockingly. The
sergeant decided that it must have been a prowling jackal or hyena; but
the incident made him irritable.

In ordinary circumstances he would have posted picket sentries as provided
by the regulations, but he could not spare any of his fifty men, for in
the case of an attack they would never regain the fort. The moon sank as
if reluctantly, seeming to hesitate upon the fringe of banana fronds at
something that she alone could see. But the night creaked slowly on.
Schultz knew that the favourite hour for an attack was just at the first
glimmer of dawn when the spirits are making for their homes and the light
is deceptive.

He was standing in front of the Nordenfeldt when a sentry’s keener ears
caught a peculiar whispering rustle. As Schultz turned his head to listen,
the whisper grew in volume to the sound of a hail-storm—the patter of bare
feet on sand. Faint light on spears rippled round the base of the hills.
Schultz sprang inside the barrier barking at his men to open fire. He
deflected the muzzle of his gun and began pumping nickel into the
advancing mass of yelling figures.…

The rush carried the fort; for the defenders were out-numbered by fifty to
one. Schultz fell under a dozen spear thrusts. The askaris were massacred
to a man before the sun rose inquiringly beyond the sacred hill of Kawa
Kendi.

When all the bloody acts of war were done and the triumphant yelling
quietened, there came from across the river a pulsing trickle of sound in
the sizzling heat, which was answered by a thundering crash of spear
against shield and the “Ough! Ough!” of three thousand warriors gathered
upon the hill to do homage to the Unmentionable One.

Across the river, at the ford where Bakuma had sung her swan song, came
the procession led by the craft in full panoply. In the van stalked
Bakahenzie, grave and solemn as befitted the high priest. Around him
capered with untiring energy a group of lesser wizards whose duties were
as those of professional dancers, having dried bladders and magic beads
fastened to their ankles and wrists. Then behind Marufa a litter was borne
by sacred slaves doomed to perish after performing their holy office, in
which, swathed entirely from the public gaze, was Usakuma, the Incarnation
of the Unmentionable One. In another litter, as securely screened, was the
son of the Lord-of-many-Lands, endeavouring to endure a perpetual bath of
sweat in the sacred cause, peeking professorial eyes through the
interstices, scribbling in a notebook. Behind again marched Mungongo
bearing a smouldering brand of the Sacred Fire; then Yabolo, reinstated in
office for a reason that any politician will understand. After him came
more litters bearing the magic “things” of the Incarnation of an
Incarnation, the King-God.

As they splashed across the river, like troops of bronze gazelle, women
and girls dashed eager to gather of fertility from the water enchanted by
the passage of the Bearer of the World.

So they came through the banana plantation and up the wide street which
the Son-of-the-Earthquake had planned. The chant quavered like a dragonfly
in the sun and the chorus of the warriors replied with the rhythm and the
profundity of gargantuan frogs. Then as Bakahenzie stepped upon the
incline of the hill, burst from the women the cricket song which is made
tremolo by the rapid beating of the fingers upon the lips, as from the
drums went out the message over the land that the Unmentionable One had
indeed returned to the Place of Kings, the City of the Snake.

Ten minutes later a half-stewed god, as exhausted as any emperor after a
state parade, was permitted to emerge from the litter and to recuperate
within the cool of the unfinished house that was to have been the bungalow
of the Kommandant. No one else save the Keeper of the Fires, Bakahenzie
and Marufa, were within the stockade which ringed the fort. Outside rose
the mutter and rumble of the warriors and the cries of the women. The
huddled lines of huts which had been barracks were already in process of
demolition at the hands of the slaves, and the square within the fort was
cleared of the slain askaris by the simple process of heaving the bodies
over the palisade. The idol remained within the litter until the
consecrating of the defiled ground should be performed by Bakahenzie and
the craft.

No Wongolo nor any wizard, not even Bakahenzie, would touch the enchanted
coughing monsters; but as the holy slaves were already doomed they were
set to pull and to push the Nordenfeldt from the embrasure beside the
entrance across the levee until it toppled over and rolled half-way down
the hill, where it was allowed to stay, surrounded from morning to night
by a crowd of women and children and idle warriors.

The thirst which afflicted Birnier rendered him oblivious of his godhood
and of the sacred office of Mungongo who was dutifully busy upon his knees
blowing up the sacred fires from the ember which he had carried; so that
at a summons to bring water he was both embarrassed and awed, for the
presence of the High Priest intensified his natural terror of breaking any
of the meshes of the tabu. At the second imperative demand Bakahenzie
soothed the angry god by commanding a slave to run to fetch water from
without. But even then Birnier had the parched felicity of waiting while
the High Priest solemnly exorcised the gourd of water which, as all food,
could not be permitted to pass the lips of the King-God without the
prescribed incantations.

However, within quite a reasonable time the sacred prisoner was
accommodated with the possession of his goods, magic and culinary. The
bungalow of the Kommandant, Birnier gathered, was to be converted into the
temple after the ceremony of purification, and the idol was to stand in
front in the place occupied by its predecessor at the coronation of the
late Kawa Kendi.

All that day were Bakahenzie and Marufa and the wizards working hard at
the various ceremonies of purification of those who had slain, the
consecration of the Holy Hill, and the exorcising of the evil spirits
attached thereto by the residence of the Son-of-the-Earthquake. Meanwhile
Birnier and Mungongo were left to themselves within the enclosure to
listen to the chanting and thrumming of the drums. Birnier had much to do
in compiling his notes and reflections; Mungongo nothing save to prepare
their meals and attend the Sacred Fires.

Exactly what had happened Birnier did not know and could not extract from
Bakahenzie, who adopted his usual effective method of ignoring every
direct question. Before they had left the place in the forest he had
informed Birnier that the commands of the spirit of Tarum through the
magic ear had been performed, but with what restrictions, modifications,
or embroideries, Birnier had no means of ascertaining. His definite
knowledge was that Zalu Zako, together with other chiefs and a vast crowd
of warriors, were to remain in the forest where zu Pfeiffer was to be led
into ambush by the power of the magic which he had sent, the American
flag, an idea which certainly tickled Birnier’s sense of humour
considerably, particularly as it appealed to him, if successful, as an
ideal case of poetic justice.

That zu Pfeiffer’s fort had fallen was obvious, although what the
disposition of his forces had been and of how the assault had been
carried, Birnier had no idea. But of one thing he was reasonably sure, and
that was that his analysis of zu Pfeiffer’s reactions and the
psychological effect upon the natives of having the idol reinstated in the
Place of Kings, had been entirely correct. After all, as he admitted with
a smile, zu Pfeiffer’s system of native psychology had been based on the
same fundamental principles as his own except that he had not reckoned
with the unknown quantity, the equal intelligence working against him and
able to discount his moves, plus heavier artillery in the form of an
emotional broadside, the possibility of which rather naturally had never
occurred to him.

An item which worried Birnier was that he had no means, and could hope for
none apparently, of discovering whether and to what extent his orders
through the phonograph had been carried out regarding the treatment of the
white men. Their fate at the hands of the Wongolo, particularly after the
merciless massacres inflicted by zu Pfeiffer, would scarcely bear
imagining. From the fact of the instant and apparently easy success of the
assault on the forts, he did not doubt that zu Pfeiffer, who had been
foolish enough to be lured into dividing his forces, was doomed to defeat.
In this instance he would not have any of the advantages of his triumphal
entry into the country; would not be able to accomplish a surprise attack,
and the weakening of the native moral by massacre and the downfall of the
idol; in fact he had these very forces against him: for the success of
their first venture, their overwhelming numbers in the forest, the
exaltation of fanaticism excited by the restoration of their tribal god,
practically tacked a label of suicide upon his military actions.

During that day Bakahenzie, evidently too busy with the duties of his
office, did not come near to him. But that evening, in order to ensure as
far as possible obedience to his orders through the mouth of the oracle,
Birnier caused Mungongo to chant further instructions into the phonograph
commanding that the Son-of-the-Earthquake was to be brought alive to
receive judgment from the Unmentionable One through the Incarnation, the
son of the Lord-of-many-Lands. Whether this would work or not Birnier of
course could not know. Already had he discovered that nobody could control
the complicated machinery of the native tabu any more than any one
statesman could manage always any vast political machine; indeed he, as
many others, might more than conceivably be ground up by the gargantuan
engine with whose starting lever he had played. All he could do had been
done; nothing remained but to adopt Marufa’s favourite maxim: “wait and
see.”

In the evening Mungongo, who had at length been persuaded to project his
eyes beyond the sacred ground even if he would not his feet, reported that
much chanting and drumming indicated that the warriors, or a great number
of them, had departed, evidently to reinforce the troops of Zalu Zako or
with the object of taking zu Pfeiffer in the rear: a fact which made
Birnier a little uneasy lest the news of the fall of the station might
bring zu Pfeiffer to his senses and cause him to return, in which case the
position might prove to be somewhat uncomfortable.

However, the night passed to the soft thrumming of the drums. At dawn
appeared Bakahenzie as solemnly as usual. He began by demanding that the
“pod of the soul” of Tarum should be prepared to listen to him. Birnier
observed a slight increase in the domineering manner and realized more
keenly that unless he checked that tendency the worthy High Priest would
become altogether unmanageable.

Birnier commanded Mungongo to bring forth the instrument and reproduced
for Bakahenzie’s benefit the oration of the previous night. Bakahenzie
listened solemnly, grunted acquiescence, and again made his request.
Birnier refused abruptly. Again Bakahenzie grunted acceptance which caused
Birnier to speculate upon what move the wily doctor had in mind. However,
after the usual starting of false trails, he announced that the
consecration of the idol would take place that day and began to instruct
the new god in his divine duties. That there was something unusual in the
form, either exaggerated or curtailed, Birnier gathered from Bakahenzie’s
method of expounding the rites; and the solution came in the announcement,
just before leaving, that as soon as the Son-of-the-Earthquake had been
“eaten up,” that he, Bakahenzie, would summon the craft and the people to
the Harvest Festival.

The form of the statement again drew Birnier’s attention to the fact that
Bakahenzie was assuming the reins of power far too fast for his
satisfaction; that unless he contrived to put on the curb he would never
attain the goal of a beneficent agent nor be able to satisfy his
professional curiosity.

However, when he had gone, Birnier began anew to question Mungongo
regarding the reputed ceremonies of the festival, but beyond the fact that
it was an occasion allied to the Christian-Pagan festival of a kind of
thanksgiving for the harvest and sacrifice to the god which involved the
ceremony of the marriage of the Bride of the Banana, Mungongo knew
nothing.

In the afternoon Birnier was required to preside at the consecrating of
the ground and the setting up of the idol. But all he had to do was to
squat silently in front of the new temple and before Bakahenzie and the
group of the cult, while the concourse of the other wizards and the few
chiefs that were not away grunted a belly chorus upon the levee without.
The ceremony was disappointing as ceremonies go, for beyond the stewing in
the great calabash of a magic concoction with which to anoint the hole for
the feet of the idol, the doorposts of the temple and the House of Fires,
to the accompaniment of the usual chanting and drumming, it was ended by a
dance, with Bakahenzie as the premier danseur.

After his evening meal of boiled chicken, goat flesh and milk, Birnier
squatted in the doorway of his new quarters smoking. He had no lights as
his store of carbide was finished. Before leaving for the forest to carve
the Incarnation of the new Unmentionable One, he had had the forethought
to despatch a messenger to a certain village on the great lake to
intercept his carriers with goods and the mail for which he had sent after
escaping from the noble son of Banyala; he had already informed Bakahenzie
of the coming of a fresh stock of magic and impressed upon him that great
precaution must be taken to ensure that it came directly to him, lest
contact with strangers should offend the spirits. Bakahenzie had assented
in his usual non-committal manner, a manner that was beginning to get upon
Birnier’s nerves.

As he smoked, staring up at the great moon over the sinister head of the
idol framed in the green light, he observed that the day after the next
would be the full moon, the Harvest Moon, the time of the yearly festival.
Then, by a coincidence which sometimes seems to have a telepathic basis as
explanation, he heard a curious soft sound from apparently behind the hut.
Mungongo, squatting near his Sacred Fires in the immobile manner of the
native, heard the sound too. Again a sibilant whisper, almost like the
hiss of a snake, brought a “Clk” of astonishment to Mungongo’s lips. He
rose swiftly and disappeared behind the hut. Another muffled exclamation
of astonishment aroused Birnier’s curiosity. He followed, to find Mungongo
leaning over the palisade as if speaking to some one.

“Ehh!” murmured a familiar voice. “’Tis Moonspirit!”

With a grunt of horror Mungongo turned upon Birnier and began to push him
away, gasping: “She is accursed! If the evil of her eyes rest upon thee
thou art sick unto death!”

“The devil take you!” muttered Birnier, angry at the touch of force; then
recollecting that the tabu forbade alien eyes to gaze on his sacred body
upon which the world depended, he realized that Mungongo was trying to
save him. He held him off by the arms, saying: “Be quiet, thou fool! Hath
not my magic shown thee that I am above all magic?”

Mungongo appeared to consider that there was some truth in the statement
and at any rate it gave him something to think about. He stood passively
but as if momentarily expecting Birnier, magic or no, to melt before his
eyes. Bending over the fence Birnier saw the slender form of Bakuma
crouched against the earth.

“What dost thou here, O little one?” he whispered, for of course he knew
nothing of her fate after the abduction by MYalu.

So horror-struck at her own temerity in approaching the person of the
King-God was she that she dared not raise her eyes as she stuttered:

“A demon hath driven the bird of my soul into the net of thy wrath.”

“Still the black wings in thy breast, O Bakuma,” said Birnier, trying to
soothe the child. “Come thou within and show thy father thy bosom.”

“Ehh! Ehh!” gasped Bakuma, quivering in greater panic than ever.

Aware of the danger Birnier stooped, took her by the arms and lifted her
over the palisade, remarking the violent trembling of the frail little
body whose limbs seemed like candles.

“Come thou,” said Birnier, moving towards the hut.

But she cowered where he had dumped her, covering her eyes with her hands
so that she gazed not upon the sacred body. Mungongo stood like a tree,
the whites of terrified eyes glimmering in the moonlight. Birnier picked
up the girl and carried her into the hut, followed by a quaking Keeper of
the Sacred Fires.

“Go, thou fool,” commanded Birnier, “and watch that none approaches!”
Mungongo gasped. But he obeyed. “Now, little one,” continued Birnier,
“bare thy bosom that I may know how to make the magic of healing.”

Squatting on the threshold, her emaciated arms still covering her eyes,
Bakuma strove to obey. At length she faltered out the story of her double
abduction. The capture by the askaris had made but little difference to
her, for, as she phrased it, the beak of her soul was like unto the mouth
of the crocodile. Her captor had thrust her into a hut in the village
together with some other female captives, but as the man had had to
continue his military duties, night had fallen before he returned, by
which time she had bribed some of the women, whose captivity was not as
loathsome to them as the pride of their race should have made it, with a
powerful charm which Birnier had given her, a nickel-plated razor-strop.
She had escaped. But more fearful of her doom as the Bride of the Banana
than she was of MYalu or the askaris, she had hidden in the forest, living
upon wild fruit and roots. Then had she heard the drums announcing the
return of the Unmentionable One, and aware that Moonspirit had gone into
the forest to seek Him, had guessed that he was triumphant. Away in the
jungle she had heard the sound of the rejoicing at the homecoming of the
King-God; had hesitated, and at last she had come to Moonspirit, in spite
of his divinity, in the fluttering hope of aid, driven by a demon to break
another tabu, the same demon which urges so many to break magic
circles—the subconscious love motive.

Poor kid! commented Birnier to himself as he regarded the pitiful cowering
form. We haven’t gotten the nuptial torches for you yet, but we will, by
God!… Give me thine ear, O little one.… But as he talked to her, soothing
the terror by promises of mightier magic, came Mungongo crying in a
terrified whisper that Bakahenzie was claiming audience. At the back of
the next room of the bungalow, built upon a plan of the one in Ingonya,
was a bathroom, and into that was Bakuma hurried and bidden to lie as
quiet as a crocodile.



                                CHAPTER 29


Bakahenzie had come to announce that the certain magic “things,” which a
messenger had brought from the white man’s country, had arrived. Although
he could not expect an answer to his letter to Lucille in Europe, there
might be others; and such an event as the receipt of a mail once in six
months is apt to be exciting. Birnier forgot his rôle for the moment,
leaped to his feet preparatory to rushing out to meet the runner, but a
grunt from Bakahenzie and an alarmed cry from Mungongo were just in time
to prevent him from jeopardizing the stability of the world and all that
he had won by violating the tabu by stepping beyond the sacred ground.
Other gods and emperors have indeed wrecked empires through a lesser
aberration. Even realization of the penalty was scarcely enough to hobble
his impatient legs, for the very suggestion of what the mail represented
melted the fetters of this native world as wax in the sun.

Indeed more effort of will was required to return to his god-like throne
upon the camp-bed, and to amble through the etiquette which discussion of
such an important matter demanded, than to carry the idol on his back
through the forest and bear the sound thrashing to boot. Then as a further
test, Bakahenzie slowly developed a dictum that the magic things could not
be permitted to enter the sacred enclosure until they had been disinfected
from the multitude of evil eyes through which they must have passed. At
that the god came near to swearing or weeping, he did not know which.

But as he fumed inwardly he recollected that at any moment Zalu Zako and
his troops might return; or if the battle had gone the other way, then zu
Pfeiffer; in the former case the excitement would still further delay the
goods and mail, and the latter event might entail the complete loss. As
well as the growing irritation caused by Bakahenzie’s interminable list of
tabus was the necessity of proclaiming, or rather gaining, his authority
before he could be of any assistance either to Bakuma, the white men or
himself. Indeed he had been waiting the arrival of these goods to secure
the subjection of Bakahenzie to his will. He determined that the trial
should be now. Merely to demand would, he felt, arouse the obstinacy of
the chief witch-doctor, who would never, unless compelled by force or
cunning, give up the reins of power which to him was the _raison d’être_
of his life. Birnier must attack through the line of least resistance.
With the carriers bearing the mail was a case of “imprisoned stars”
(rockets) and a special cinema outfit, so that Birnier felt that he could
afford to explode the last manifestation of magic which remained to him.
After a judicious interval, he said to Bakahenzie:

“O son of Maliko, is not my tongue the tongue of the Unmentionable One?”

“He who knoweth all things knoweth that which is white,” retorted
Bakahenzie.

“Verily. Therefore do thou cause to be brought that which is come, that
which the fingers of the Unmentionable One are hungry to touch. Thou
knowest his power of magic. Therefore are the evil eyes of the multitude
but dry leaves in the wind of his breath.”

“Indeed thy words are white, O son of the Lord-of-many-Lands.”

“Depart then that the hunger of His fingers may be appeased.”

“The drums speak not yet of the eating up of Eyes-in-the-hands. Hath not
the ear of the spirit of Tarum spoken upon these matters?” inquired
Bakahenzie in his favourite dialectical manner.

“The spirit of Tarum hath naught to say to thee,” replied Birnier, “but
the fingers of Tarum will to make thee to itch even as his fingers.”

Birnier called to Mungongo who brought and placed at his feet a fairly
powerful electric battery. Bakahenzie eyed the box; curiosity was keenly
awakened. He stared interestedly when Birnier raised the lid. Taking the
handles he said:

“These, O son of Maliko, are the hands of Tarum made manifest. He wishes
that thou shouldst feel the itch of his desire!” and with the words he
clapped one handle to the belly and the other at the base of the spine of
the chief witch-doctor. Bakahenzie convulsed as he was compelled to do.
Swiftly Birnier applied the shock to the shoulders, holding the handles
there as he remarked to a violently trembling Bakahenzie: “Behold! the
itch of the fingers of Tarum!”

But as he lowered his hands towards the spine again, Bakahenzie moved
rapidly and with no dignity.

Solemnly Birnier replaced the handles and closed the lid, and said
quietly:

“Thou hast felt, O brother magician, that the fingers of Tarum do itch
indeed?”

“Truly!” responded Bakahenzie with a celerity as unusual as the quaver in
his voice. “Indeed thy words are white, O mightiest of magicians. What are
indeed the evil eyes of savages against the power of thy magic, O son of
the Lord-of-many-Lands!”

And contrary to all precedent Bakahenzie rose and left. Within a quarter
of an hour his voice announced that slaves with the magic “things” were
without the palisade, and called upon Mungongo to go to the gate to fetch
them as strangers were forbidden even to look upon the King-God. Birnier,
by the light of a torch, opened the mail, sent a wad of letters and a
sheaf of telegraph slips on to the floor, and snatched a long green
envelope scrawled in French characters:

Monsieur le Curateur du Jardin des Plantes.

For a moment he stared at it perplexedly, for there was no stamp or
cancellation.

“What in the name——” he muttered as he slit it open.

                                                     Entebbe,
                                                           Août 13, 19—

Mon petit loup, what have you been doing? Oû est tu? Comment et pourquoi?
Oh, I am cross with you, with Monsieur le Professeur! Why do you write me
so ridiculous a letter? I laugh, but always I laugh, so what good is that
to you? I will not reply to your letter, mon vieux—jamais. But I will tell
you so that you may know why I am here. Yes, parmi les animaux!

Birnier winced at the phrase which seemed to come back at him like a
boomerang from the lips of zu Pfeiffer.

I am to go for vacation to Wiesbaden with some very terrible peoples. Oh,
on me dégoûte! I have an engagement for the winter in Berlin as before. I
have engagement for Paris—eh! but—pouf! Figure me on the charming
_Mauretania_ and I am sitting on the deck where you once made yourself so
ridiculous. Rappelle toi? I am sick—No, mon vieux, pas du mal de mer! I
should not be for everybody to look at. Oh, no! I am sick, I tell you. Je
rêve de mon petit coco parmi les sales animaux! Je me dis: Zut! il est
fou! il est tapé! Mais en moi même je l’adore! Tout de suite I tell a
creature who brings me my books, my fan, un espèce de tapette, je m’en
vais là, moi! He ask me where? I tell him I go to look for mon amant in
Afrique Centrale! Mais oui! He thinks I am mad! I tell him so and I laugh!
How I laugh. But he is right, yes, je suis folle—de toi!

Alors I come to Marseilles and I catch a boat to Mombassa. Ouf! Je vais
mourir à cause de mon petit loup! La mer rouge! Quel cauchemar! Enfin I
still arrive what of Lucille is left and I ask for you, for Monsieur le
Professeur Americain, but no one knows you. On the boat I have attached to
myself trois mousquetaires Anglais. Tous les trois sont drôles! They bring
me on the ever so funny little train to here. Entebbe. Les Anglais sont
très polis, tu sais! Monsieur le Gouverneur stop drinking whisky politely
to tell me that Monsieur has been and has gone! Quelle horreur! You have
gone but three days! Pense tu! I ask myself what have I done that the bon
Dieu should be so unkind. Then quel malheur! I remember to myself that I
commence to come to you on _Friday!_ You laugh! Yes, I laugh too but—Quien
sabe? I commence to come to you on a Friday and you are gone three little
days!

Then my good friends, les trois mousquetaires, send for me a what they
call a runner—the red peas—C’est drôle! but the little pea black he did
not find you. He brings a message that you had gone to some place with a
terrible name.

Then come the two most ridiculous letters. I will _not_ reply to any such
ridiculous letters—jamais!

Birnier scowled. Two letters? he muttered. What letters?

You must come now. Immediately. I want you. I will wait here for you. You
must leave your ridiculous animals as I have left mes affaires for you.
Come to me. I wait for you.

Lower down on the same page, but written with a thick pen, the letter
continued:

Again I have read your absurd letter. Tu es fou! You make such a noise
because this foolish young man is jealous of mon mari and make you to go
round the detestable country, which you like so much, instead of straight
through to the ridiculous place you say you want to go.

Birnier smiled grimly.

Peuh! Écoute, mon cher, it is true I have met the young man in Washington.
Mon Dieu, are there not plenty of young men in Washington, Paris, Berlin?
He fell in love with me. Mon Dieu, they are as thick as the blackberries!
Perhaps I tease him pour faire la blague! Pourquoi pas? I give him a
photograph and I sign it, just as I sign plenty for amusing friends. But
then he become too ridiculous. He has no sense of humour comme tous les
Allemands. He wishes to fight all my friends, tes compatriotes si sombres
et graves! Figure toi! Then he make a challenge and naturellement it is
not the custom in thy country. Mon pauvre petit Dorsay refuse and this
person become crazy wild, as you say, and he strike him with his cane in
the street. Quelle horreur! Quel scandale! He run away of course. The
Embassy help him. Qui sait? That is the last I hear until I receive this
ridiculous letter, together with thy ridiculous letter. I send him to you.
How drôle that you two should meet all among les animaux. It is so funny
that he did not kill you, this monstre allemand! Tu es en cross encore
avec moi? Zut! mon vieux it is not my fault that everybody goes mad after
me except mon petit mari! Leave the ridiculous garçon where he is. But why
do I talk so much about a cochon? Because you are ridiculous! Tant pis
pour toi! Now sois gentil and come to me _immediately_—unless you love
your sales animaux plus que moi! If you do not come I will never never,
jamais de ma vie, give you one single baiser again! No! Mille baisers!
Mais comme je te deteste!

                                                               LUCILLE.



                                CHAPTER 30


Forty-eight hours later, the furious drumming, chanting and screaming
heralded the return of the victorious troops of Zalu Zako. Birnier from
his gaol on the hill watched the bronze flood pour like a stream of lava
out of the plantation and flood the village, spears flashing silver points
in the slanting rays of the sun. But what had happened to zu Pfeiffer and
the white sergeants? No sign of them could he see. Waves of sound lapped
continuously around the temple.

The long mauve shadow of the hill ate up the village. Fires began to
flicker amid the huts and away in the recesses of the plantation. The
lowing of cattle added to the general clamour. As the western sky was
still ablaze with incandescent colour stole the cold green of the
advancing moon in the east.

“Mungongo, what are thy brethren about to do?”

“It is the Festival of the Harvest, as I have told thee, O son of the
Lord-of-many-Lands.”

“But they have not the Bride?”

“Nay.” Mungongo glanced apprehensively towards the temple where in what
was to have been a bathroom, was Bakuma hidden.
“He-who-may-not-be-mentioned demands but blood. The Bride is the food of
the wizards. But to each warrior is every woman his bride this night.”

“Why didst thou not tell me this thing before?” demanded Birnier, who knew
that such was one of the customs of primitive tribes in all parts of the
world and in all ages.

“Thou didst not ask me,” retorted Mungongo, to whom the affair was such a
matter of course that it was not worth mentioning.

“Do they make sacrifice?”

“The Bride is married to the Banana, but of the manner of her nuptial know
I not. Am I a wizard?”

The divine king grimly watched his subjects. In the growing light flitted
gnomes around the huts in and out the sepia caverns of the plantation. As
a banana front was etched in sepia against the great moon, the ocean of
clamour was cleft by the high treble of the tribal troubadour. At the
bottom of the wide street appeared dancing figures. As they approached,
Birnier could distinguish Bakahenzie, Marufa and Yabolo in the van,
dressed in full panoply, whirling and leaping with untiring energy. Behind
them shuffled and pranced a vast mass of warriors, behind whom again
several hundred women shrilled and wriggled in the mighty chorus. The
rhythm of the drums increased to the maddening action impulse of the two
short—long beat:

Pm-pm—Pommmmm! Pm-pm—Pommmmm! Pm-pm—Pommmmm!

The treble solo of the chant darted above that throb and grunt like a mad
bird skimming the turbulent tops of a dark forest.

Pm-pm—Pommmmm! Pm-pm—Pommmmm! Pm-pm—Pommmmm!

The rhythm seemed like a febrile pulse within Birnier’s brain, dominating
him with hypnotic suggestion to action. An urge to scream and to yell, to
dance and to leap, plucked at his limbs. Resurgent desires from he knew
not what subconscious catacombs, wriggled and struggled furiously within
him. The great moon scattered blue stars upon the spears as if upon the
green scales of some leviathan squirming in delirious torment.

Control the twitching of his muscles to that rhythm Birnier could not. He
had to fight to resist the waves of hysteria permeating the air. He
glanced at Mungongo. The whites of his eyes were rolling. Birnier cursed
the insistency of the drums and the orgiastical grunts. Forcibly he kept
up a running fire of psychological explanations: “Annihilation of
inhibitions … dissociation of personality … triumph of the subconscious
animal,” as a wizard muttering incantations against evil spirits. He felt
dizzy. “God, I’m drunk with rhythm!” he exclaimed.

The priests were entering the large gate of the outer enclosure. In the
village and on the opposite hill the people resembled a swarm of black
locusts. The drums ceased. Bakahenzie and Marufa and Yabolo ran straight
towards him screeching. This was the cue.

Birnier walked back slowly. In awful silence they began to push the idol.
The wood creaked protestingly. Slowly the mass slid on to Birnier’s back.
He gripped it and began to walk to the entrance. As he passed Mungongo the
Sacred Fires shot up yellow tongues. A sound like a moan rose dripping
with screams and grew into a continuous thunder of noise. The drums
rippled a furious tattoo. The three wizards dashed before him, leaping
high in the air. Birnier shuffled a dozen yards to the left and turned. He
stopped.

Upon the ground, just within the outer gate in view of the multitude
beyond, green ivory in the moonlight, was the naked figure of a white man.
Above him pranced Bakahenzie in whose hand gleamed a knife.

The training of his life enabled Birnier to throw upon the screen of his
mind the essential points more rapidly than conscious thought. Bakahenzie,
as well as the others, was in an abnormal state of excitement. There was
no time to employ “magic” rockets or anything else. He swung the idol upon
one shoulder and ran forward. He saw the blue eyes move and the bracelet
wink in the moonlight as he stepped over the bound form. He bent,
balancing the image upon his shoulders, and seized zu Pfeiffer by the arm.

The throb of the drums and the roar of the people who knew not but that
this act was in accordance with the rules, continued. The priests remained
motionless: expectant. Bakahenzie stood rigid as if paralysed by the
unexpected: the knife was a blue snake in his hand.

Half blinded with sweat, with his muscles cracking, Birnier staggered on
with the heavy burden, dragging the nude body after him. Hours seemed to
pass, each second of which might bring a spear in his back before he
reached the place before the temple. He slid the idol into the hole and
turned.

From the tumult of sound the screech of Bakahenzie shot up like a snipe
from a rice field. The other wizards sprang with him. The moonlight kissed
a spearhead beside the stone figure of Mungongo by the Sacred Fires.
Birnier leaped, plucked the spear, caught zu Pfeiffer in his arms and
raised him shoulder high that all might see.

At the entrance of the enclosure Bakahenzie and the other two were
arrested by astonishment. Lowering the body to the base of the idol which
leaned sideways in a drunken leer, Birnier lifted the spear and brought it
down accurately between zu Pfeiffer’s left arm and breast, and dropping
swiftly upon his knees to cover his actions, slashed his own left forearm.
Then he jumped to his feet and held the blooded spear aloft as he cried
aloud:

“The god hath taken his own!”

Bakahenzie was the first to see that the white breast of the victim was
indeed deluged in blood; perhaps the veneration engendered by “the fingers
of Tarum” moved beneath the blood lust.

“The god hath taken his own!” he repeated in a piercing scream. Marufa
echoed the shout. As they turned the cry was ricocheted beyond the
farthest hill.

“The god hath taken his own!”



                                CHAPTER 31


The reflection of a shaft of moonlight through the half-completed thatch
upon zu Pfeiffer’s “magic” mirror, which the natives had not dared to
remove, set afire the sapphires upon his bracelet as he sat rigidly in a
camp chair in a suit of pyjamas. Upon the bed lay Birnier, nursing his
bandaged left arm. Now and again the thrumming, chanting and the shrilling
of the saturnalia without rose into discordant yells like a gust of wind
whipping tree-tops into fury.

Zu Pfeiffer appeared taciturn and suspicious. Perhaps the slackening of
his will, tautened to meet death as his caste demanded that he should, and
the confrontation of the object of his violent hate, had completely
unnerved him. When Birnier had dragged him within and cut his bonds, he
had grunted curt, official thanks for the rescue. As sullenly he had
hesitated at the offer of the pyjamas, but as if deciding that he could
not retain any dignity in his own bloodied skin, had accepted them, as
well as a sorely needed drink of water.

The reaction after the crisis, and possibly the influence of the general
hysteria in the air, had distorted Birnier’s vision of things. He was very
conscious of a neurotic desire to laugh unrestrainedly. Thus it was that
for nearly half an hour the two men remained in the gloom in silence.
Birnier had a psychological comprehension of the highly nervous tension of
his guest. For he had long ago realized that the only solution of zu
Pfeiffer’s crazy statement that he was engaged to the wife of a man to
whom he was speaking, indicated a form of insanity.

A psychological law is that natural emotions must have an outlet; if they
are repressed they are apt to cause a state of mental disease which in an
aggravated form may lead the patient to the asylum, but in the incipient
stage are as common as jackals in Africa. Zu Pfeiffer was suffering from
such a case of mild psychosis. Brought up under an iron code which did not
permit his instincts to react, the repressed emotions bubbled out in the
form of a deification of his Kaiser and the adoration of Lucille, both
states being absolutely apart from all reason, indeed approached to a
state of dissociation of consciousness. The desired unattainable is
projected into the dream plane, the realm of myth. Such a case is the
historical one of the man who, keenly intelligent upon every subject
mentioned, startles the visitor by the demand for a piece of toast,
gravely explaining that he is a poached egg and that he wishes to sit
down; or as Pascal, who ever had beside him the great black dog. To
attempt to rationalise with such an one was merely to excite the insane
part of him. So it was that Birnier determined to ignore the subject
entirely, perfectly aware that the sullenness of the man sitting in the
camp chair opposite to him was caused by an exaggerated terror that he
would insist upon speaking of the one subject which should be tabu.

The associative suggestion of Lucille diverted his mind until he became
immersed in thoughts of her. A queer vision of a well-fed tiger playing
with a kid entered his mind. More conscious than ever of her attraction by
reason of the intensified sense of her wrought by her letter, he glanced
surreptitiously at the rigid form in the chair and a wave of pity mixed
with a half conscious pride that she belonged to him, rose within him.
Then Birnier started as he was brought back to a realization of the
passing of time by a harsh voice that told of creaking nerves:

“Herr Professor, what is your pleasure to do with me, if you please?”

“I beg your pardon!” Birnier sat up. “Er—naturally I shall endeavour to
get you away as early as possible. It would be as well if you took
advantage of the present—er—saturnalia to escape. I cannot do much. I can
provide you with a gun and food. As you are not injured you should be able
to get a reasonable distance from here by morning; for the rest I am
afraid you must fend for yourself. I wish that I could do more, but I’m
afraid that my power is not yet sufficient to ensure any help from the
natives.”

An inarticulate sound emerged from zu Pfeiffer’s mouth. Birnier’s eyes
caught the sheen of the photograph upon the wall. Escape! Lucille! Almost
involuntarily he stretched out a hand and took Lucille’s letter from the
table. Again came zu Pfeiffer’s voice:

“I thank you, Herr Professor, but I cannot accept—for myself.” Birnier
stared at him. “I wish you to understand that for myself that is
impossible.” The tall figure seemed to straighten in the chair. “But as I
have the honour to serve his Imperial Majesty I am bound to preserve to
the best of my ability my body in order to answer for my culpable
negligence which has resulted in the loss of my two companies. Most
distinctly, Herr Professor, I wish you to know that I accept your offer in
order to place myself before the Court Martial that awaits me.”

Birnier almost gasped. That this anomaly of a man, who was capable of
cold-blooded murder at the prompting of an hallucination, and who now
appeared equally capable of the utter annihilation of self at the service
of his Imperial Master, meant what he said, Birnier did not doubt. Yet it
was not anomalous. Logical in fact; the capability of supreme sacrifice
for either of his idols.

“I understand you, Lieutenant,” said he courteously. “I——” The two letters
in his hand crackled. Before he could master the mean desire he had handed
the second letter to zu Pfeiffer with the words:

“Forgive me, I have here a letter which it is my duty to return to you.”

The sapphires winked as zu Pfeiffer held up the letter in the shaft of
moonlight. There was a suppressed grunt as of pain. Zu Pfeiffer rose
stiffly and walked to the door. His tall figure was silhouetted in profile
against the green sky and as Birnier watched he saw a gleam as of crystal
upon an eyelash. Birnier, ashamed of his sole vengeance, turned away.

But as if revenge were recoiling upon him came in the wake of that
satisfied primitive instinct a surge of longing for Lucille. Lucille!
Lucille! God! how he desired to see those eyes again! Feel those lips and
hear the gurgle of her laughter! Sense the perfume of her hair as she
murmured: “_Mon petit loup!_” Birnier sat holding the letter. He fought
with an impulse to abandon everything to go to her—if he could get out!
How stale and monotonous the adventure and the scientific interest
suddenly seemed! After all, what had he accomplished? What could he
accomplish? Even yet he had learned but little of the secrets of the
witch-doctor’s craft. Perhaps there was little or nothing to learn? And zu
Pfeiffer? He stared across at the portrait of Lucille. And as he gazed a
wave of pity rose within him for this boy made mad by the witchery of
those eyes and the music of that voice. A sentence in Lucille’s letter
appeared to stand out from the context: “_Mon Dieu, they are as thick as
the blackberries!_”

And yet—and yet—— Why the devil had she taken it into her head to come out
to Uganda above all places? he asked himself. She was so damnably near to
him. He smiled satirically as he recollected her phrase about those fools
who made of love a nuisance, and yet now what was she doing? After all the
suspicion in his mind that love is everything to a woman seemed proven
true.

But how adorable she was! He fingered the letter as if it were part of
her. Well, she was young; success and adulation from one capital to
another had interested and amused her for a few years, but when Milady had
suddenly discovered that the Career bored her she had thrown up everything
and logically—to her mind—expected her mate to do likewise! With what
insouciance had she treated the affair of zu Pfeiffer and the youngster
whom he had struck. When Birnier had met her she had had a story of a
young fool count in Paris who had shot himself, merely because she would
not listen to his suit; and she had protested with one of those wonderful
shrugs and a moue, saying that she could not marry all the men in the
world! That apparently bloodthirsty indifference had of course tended to
make more men “crazy wild,” as she put it, about her. And that reputation
had added to her numerous attractions even to Birnier.

He could escape if he wished—with zu Pfeiffer. He could take Mungongo with
him. Yet would Mungongo dare the tabu at his bidding? Birnier doubted it.
Would Mungongo even consent to let him, Birnier, who was now in his eyes
the King-God, go and so imperil the foundations of the native world?
Birnier was certain that he would not. They were all dominated by this
confounded idol of wood, he reflected. Bakahenzie, or even Mungongo, would
cheerfully sacrifice him if either imagined that the damned Unmentionable
One desired it, at the suppositious bidding of something which was
nothing.

Through the sweet scent of her in the air like a compelling aura about
him, came suddenly zu Pfeiffer’s voice speaking in the accents of agony;
yet all he said was:

“Herr Professor Birnier—I am compelled—to—to apologise for …”

The voice failed and the haughty blond head turned away, unable to
complete to the uttermost the greatest sacrifice he had ever attempted.

“Please don’t,” said Birnier comprehendingly. “I understand.”

And Birnier did comprehend; realised the small hell in zu Pfeiffer as a
higher developed tabu did a childish tabu unto death. Zu Pfeiffer, white
man, had been just as guilty of an attempt to commit murder at the
suppositious inversion of a thumb of an idol as Bakahenzie; not an idol of
wood but the projection of his subconscious desires. Zu Pfeiffer would
sacrifice a million at the bidding of his Kaiser, whose divinity was the
same myth, the projection of himself. Yet what had been Birnier’s object
in undertaking all these pains and penalties but to study mankind in the
making, the black microcosm of a white macrocosm; to aid them to a better
understanding of themselves and each other? Was not Bakahenzie an
embryonic zu Pfeiffer? How could one aid a zu Pfeiffer if one did not know
a Bakahenzie?

From the saturnalia in progress outside came another swirl of sound
seeming to lap mockingly against the motionless figure of zu Pfeiffer
silhouetted against a green sky; and above him towered the idol leaning
sideways.

As if in drunken laughter of the follies of black and white humanity!
mused Birnier. Yet what am I doing? At the crook of a dainty finger am I,
too, to bow to an idol? Am I to pity zu Pfeiffer and these children?…
Savages! Good God, what am I?



                               EXTRA PAGES



                                                             Witch-Doctors



        _L’homme est bien insensé! il_
        _ne sçauroit forger un ciron, et_
        _forge des dieux à douzaine!_

                        MONTAIGNE



                                  ERRATA


      CHARACTERS
      Changed: Ludwig    *do. do.*
      To: Ludwig    *German sergeant*

      CHARACTERS
      Changed: Schneider    *do. do.*
      To: Schneider    *German sergeant*

      Chapter 1
      Changed: “This Saka—Saka”—*Zu* Pfeiffer glanced at
      To: “This Saka—Saka”—*zu* Pfeiffer glanced at

      Chapter 1
      Changed: retreat. At *MFunga* MPopo’s is the
      To: retreat. At *MFunya* MPopo’s is the

      Chapter 1
      Changed: As *Zu* Pfeiffer nodded languidly
      To: As *zu* Pfeiffer nodded languidly

      Chapter 1
      Changed: seemed to escape *Zu* Pfeiffer. He gave
      To: seemed to escape *zu* Pfeiffer. He gave

      Chapter 1
      Changed: man’s arrival?” demanded *Zu* Pfeiffer harshly.
      To: man’s arrival?” demanded *zu* Pfeiffer harshly.

      Chapter 1
      Changed: Zu *Peiffer* finished the report leisurely
      To: Zu *Pfeiffer* finished the report leisurely

      Chapter 3
      Changed: I thank you*,* And if—— Were
      To: I thank you*.* And if—— Were

      Chapter 6
      Changed: as balanced as a dancer’s* *
      To: as balanced as a dancer’s*.*

      Chapter 6
      Changed: to matters of more importance.*”*
      To: to matters of more importance.* *

      Chapter 9
      Changed: shall lave hungry ears of* *
      To: shall lave hungry ears of *——!*

      Chapter 9
      Changed: *E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h*!
      To: *E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h*!

      Chapter 9
      Changed: As we …* *
      To: As we …*”*

      Chapter 9
      Changed: The personality of *Bernier* had been apparently
      To: The personality of *Birnier* had been apparently

      Chapter 9
      Changed: and the two *Nordenfelts* and two pom-poms
      To: and the two *Nordenfeldts* and two pom-poms

      Chapter 11
      Changed: “*Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*!”
      To: “*Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*!”

      Chapter 11
      Changed: *Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*!
      To: *Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*!

      Chapter 13
      Changed: in of fresh *masssacres* adding to the
      To: in of fresh *massacres* adding to the

      Chapter 14
      Changed: Yabolo near to *Zaku* Zako’s continued. Neither
      To: Yabolo near to *Zalu* Zako’s continued. Neither

      Chapter 14
      Changed: enemy, Bakahenzie, presented *Zaku* Zako with a
      To: enemy, Bakahenzie, presented *Zalu* Zako with a

      Chapter 14
      Changed: which walk ever *the the* red devils in
      To: which walk ever *the* red devils in

      Chapter 14
      Changed: the minds of *Zako Zalu* and Marufa the
      To: the minds of *Zalu Zako* and Marufa the

      Chapter 15
      Changed: village of MFunya *MPope* —of that day
      To: village of MFunya *MPopo* —of that day

      Chapter 15
      Changed: not his policy *tomake* his thunder too
      To: not his policy *to make* his thunder too

      Chapter 17
      Changed: position of chief *witch doctor*, he would do
      To: position of chief *witch-doctor*, he would do

      Chapter 18
      Changed: earth, and when*——* and when——” He
      To: earth, and when*—* and when——” He

      Chapter 19
      Changed: in their solar *plexes*.
      To: in their solar *plexus*.

      Chapter 22
      Changed: the village of *Yangonyama*, but shortage of
      To: the village of *Yagonyana*, but shortage of

      Chapter 24
      Changed: the white god.* *
      To: the white god.*”*

      Chapter 29
      Changed: Peuh! *Ecoute*, mon cher, it
      To: Peuh! *Écoute*, mon cher, it

      Chapter 30
      Changed: Pm-pm—*Pommmm*!
      To: Pm-pm—*Pommmmm*!





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