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Title: A Camera Actress in the Wilds of Togoland
 - The adventures, observations & experiences of a cinematograph actress in West African forests whilst collecting films depicting native life and when posing as the white woman in Anglo-African cinematograph dramas
Author: Gehrts, Meg
Language: English
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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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Camera Actress in the Wilds of Togoland
 - The adventures, observations & experiences of a cinematograph actress in West African forests whilst collecting films depicting native life and when posing as the white woman in Anglo-African cinematograph dramas" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



A CAMERA ACTRESS IN THE WILDS OF TOGOLAND

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

KONKOMBWA WARRIOR IN FULL GALA DRESS

The helmet is a calabash, elaborately ornamented with cowrie shells,
and surmounted by a fine pair of roan antelope horns. Other less lucky
warriors, or less clever hunters, content themselves with the smaller
horns of the commoner puku antelope. Note the beautifully ornamented
quiver filled with poisoned arrows.]



  A CAMERA ACTRESS
  IN THE WILDS OF
  TOGOLAND

  THE ADVENTURES, OBSERVATIONS & EXPERIENCES OF A
  CINEMATOGRAPH ACTRESS IN WEST AFRICAN FORESTS
  WHILST COLLECTING FILMS DEPICTING NATIVE
  LIFE AND WHEN POSING AS THE WHITE
  WOMAN IN ANGLO-AFRICAN
  CINEMATOGRAPH DRAMAS

  BY
  MISS M. GEHRTS

  WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MAJOR H. SCHOMBURGK

  WITH 65 ILLUSTRATIONS & A MAP

  PHILADELPHIA
  J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
  LONDON: SEELEY, SERVICE & CO. LTD.
  1915



INTRODUCTION

BY MAJOR H. SCHOMBURGK, F.R.G.S.


It was after my return from my first West African cinema expedition,
in June 1913, that I made up my mind to try and film native dramas in
their true and proper settings.

My aim was to visualise, as it were, for the European public, scenes
from African native life as it once was all over the continent, and
as it is even now in the more remote and seldom-visited parts; and it
was further my object to so present the various incidents as to ensure
their being pleasing and interesting to all classes and conditions of
people.

To this end, then, it became necessary for me to find a white woman
capable of acting the principal parts, supported by native supers.
My thoughts at once reverted to Miss Gehrts, a lady with whom I have
been acquainted for some little while, and whom I knew to be a keen
sportswoman, a good rider, and possessed of histrionic ability of no
mean order.

It did not take me long to persuade her to accept the offer I made
her; but her parents raised many objections, based principally on the
supposed dangers and privations which they assumed--not altogether
wrongly--to be inseparable from the trip. These objections, however,
were eventually overcome, the enterprise was undertaken and brought to
a successful conclusion, and this book is one result of it.

Personally, I must confess to not being altogether favourably impressed
with the ordinary African "travel book" of the typical globe-trotting
woman writer: the kind of one, I mean, who either conscientiously and
carefully hugs the coast, or else ventures but a little way into the
hinterland along the ordinary caravan routes, and then puts upon record
a long string of facts and fancies which only serve to raise a smile on
the faces of those who really know their Africa, exemplifying, as they
almost invariably do, that, with regard to this vast and most wonderful
continent, more than perhaps anywhere else, a little knowledge is a
dangerous thing.

Miss Gehrts' book--and I say so frankly and freely without fear or
favour--is not of this sort. She quitted the beaten track altogether;
so much so that north of Sokode she was absolutely the first and only
white woman the natives had ever beheld. She had, therefore, the
satisfaction of seeing these interesting peoples--the Tschaudjo, the
Konkombwa, the Tschokossi, and many others--in their original unspoilt
state of free and proud savagedom.

I am pleased to say that she appreciated the opportunities afforded
her, using her powers of observation to very good purpose indeed, and
with results that were not a little surprising even to old dwellers
in the country. For instance, it was she who discovered the curious
industry of making beads from palm nuts, described in Chapter VII, as
also the unique fortified native village of which a plan and drawing,
as well as a full and most interesting description, will be found in
Chapter XII.

For these reasons I am inclined to dissent from the view, expressed by
her in her foreword, that the book possesses no scientific value. I
also disagree with most of what she has written in the opening chapter
concerning myself: it is far too flattering.

On the other hand I cannot praise too highly the work done by her
in connection with the expedition. I am only afraid that no reader
will either appreciate or understand, from her very self-restrained
narrative, what she really underwent while acting in the dramatic
pieces.

Miss Gehrts also took charge of the commissariat, and I am sure that
every member of the expedition will be only too pleased to certify
that a better could not have been evolved than the one that was run so
easily and beautifully by "our little mother," as the "boys" used to
call her.

Finally, I should like to say that this book possesses the distinction
of being the first published record of a journey through Togoland ever
written by anybody, man or woman, black or white. It is, therefore,
in a sense unique, and I wish it all the success that, in my humble
opinion, it deserves. I cannot say more: nor can I say less.

          HANS SCHOMBURGK.
  LONDON, _July 9, 1914_.



FOREWORD


In the beginning, when I first went out to West Africa, it had never
entered into my head for a single instant that my experiences there
might form the subject of a book. But I fell into the habit of keeping
a diary of my journeyings, and afterwards many of my friends, as also
other people in a position to judge, seemed to think it almost a pity
that the adventures and impressions of the first white woman to travel
through Togoland from the sea to the northern border and back again,
should go unrecorded. It was pointed out to me, too, that the fact of
my being the first cinema actress to perform in savage Africa, and with
savages as "supers," would most certainly add to the interest, even if
it did not enhance the value, of such a record.

In this way the present volume came into being: a creation born--to
be perfectly and absolutely frank--of egoism and flattered vanity.
I should like to say at the outset, however, that it does not make
any pretence to add to the sum of human knowledge in a scientific
sense; it is merely a plain and simple narrative of a girl's seeings
and doings amongst strange and primitive folk living in a remote and
little known land. Still, should there be found in it anything new
of anthropological or ethnological value, it will be to me an added
pleasure; for I particularly tried, to the best of my ability, to keep
my eyes and ears open for the reception of such. Likewise, I shall be
glad if this, my first attempt at authorship, helps to win friends for
the colonial cause, and tends to dispel the altogether erroneous idea
anent West Africa being, in the sense in which the phrase is usually
interpreted and understood, the "white man's grave."

Speaking for myself and on the whole, I was both healthy and happy out
there. I received nothing but kindness from white and black people
alike; so much so, indeed, that I have come to love and admire the
country into which I first adventured myself with feelings akin to fear
and repulsion. Africa, in short, has cast her spell over me, as she
does, I am told, over most others. Even as I write these few last lines
I can feel "the call of the wild" stirring my blood.

In concluding this brief foreword, I should wish to be permitted to
thank His Highness the Duke of Mecklenburg, Governor of Togoland, whose
personal interest in the welfare of the expedition, shown in many ways
and at divers times, made it possible for us to carry it out in its
entirety on the lines originally laid down.

My thanks are also due to Commander Triebe, of the S.S. _Henny
Woermamm_, for many kindnesses and courtesies received on the outward
voyage, as well as to his colleague, Captain Pankow, of the _Eleonore
Woermamm_, for other similar evidences of good-will on the voyage home;
to Lieutenant von Rentzel, who so kindly placed his house at our
disposal on our first arrival in Lome, the capital and port of Togo;
and to Mr. Kuepers, the head-master of the Government school in Sokode,
for welcome hospitality freely extended to us.

Especially, too, am I grateful to Captain von Hirschfeld, District
Commissioner of Mangu, who not only showed us personally every
hospitality and kindness during visits extending altogether to over
a month, but who also went out of his way, at considerable trouble
and inconvenience, to help us in filming many subjects, scenes, and
incidents of native life, which we should otherwise hardly have been
able to secure; his efforts in this latter direction being ably
seconded by his two European assistants, Messrs Sonntag and Gardin.

Mr. Muckè, of Bassari, also showed us many kindnesses for which I
am sincerely grateful; and my best thanks are likewise due to Herr
von Parpart, District Commissioner of Sokode, whose hospitality on
our return journey to the coast made our last evening in the African
bush an outstandingly pleasant recollection. Mr. James S. Hodgson,
our camera man, besides proving himself a first-rate and exceedingly
careful operator, kept us lively of an evening by his clever playing on
the mandoline, while his imperturbable good-humour, even in the most
trying circumstances, helped to make our trip a pleasant and agreeable
one.

Finally, I should wish to thank my friend, Mr. C. L. McCluer Stevens,
of "Ivydene," New Malden, Surrey, author and journalist, for the
skilful and painstaking manner in which he has edited my rough
manuscript and put it in trim for the publishers, as well as for
valuable advice and help regarding the treatment and scope of the
various chapters and the work as a whole.

          M. GEHRTS.
  LONDON, _July 1, 1914_.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I

  LONDON TO LOME
                                                                 PAGES
  I am "up against" a queer business proposition--Doubts and
      difficulties--Assent--Major Schomburgk, F.R.G.S., the
      leader of the expedition--His African experiences--
      Filming cinema pictures in the tropics--The start from
      England--Dover to Madeira--Life on board ship--Madeira
      --Teneriffe--Las Palmas--Motoring under difficulties--
      Arrival in Togo--"Yellow Jack"--Kindness of H.H. the Duke
      of Mecklenburg, the Governor of Togoland--A jolly dinner
      party--Rickshaw riding in Lome--Off to Atakpame            17-28


  CHAPTER II

  HOW WE FILMED "THE WHITE GODDESS OF THE WANGORA"

  A tiresome railway journey--My hut in the forest--A trying
      toilet--Native inquisitiveness--_Haute cuisine_ in the
      heart of Africa--Mosquitoes--My first night in the bush
      --A very primitive shower-bath--Rehearsing our first
      cinema drama--Savages as "supers"--Irritating delays--
      A false alarm--Filming the principal scene in the _White
      Goddess_--I am knocked up--And laid up--Malarial fever
      --"If you cough you'll die"--Convalescence--I try
      cookery--A disconcerting experience--Eating 9863 chickens
      --A little about lizards--Also about ants and beetles      29-39


  CHAPTER III

  LIFE AT KAMINA

  Troubles of cinema playing in Central Africa--Enforced leisure
      --Native girls and a gramophone--Women and work--Native
      children--A negro philosopher--Native servants--
      Learning to cycle--Improvising a studio--Wild monkeys--
      Native dances--A perilous climb                            40-48


  CHAPTER IV

  STARTING "ON TREK"

  On the march into "the back of beyond"--Packing our "chop
      boxes"--Quinine--"I didn't want to do it"--The starting
      of the caravan--Good-bye to Kamina--Kindly forethought
      of the Duke of Mecklenburg--Our first day's march--
      Sleeping out in the bush--Rest-houses--Our operator goes
      astray--Dish-washing extraordinary--Our cook disappears
      --To return with a wife--I try my hand at bush cooking--
      "Feed the brute"--A native belle                           49-56


  CHAPTER V

  ATAKPAME TO SOKODE

  Our friend the doctor--A new way with natives--Laughable
      results--And to Njamassila--Travelling by hammock
      --A rash resolve--Njamassila to Agbandi--Sleeping
      on the march--A native giant--Agbandi to Djabotaure
      --Depressing effects of the West African climate--An
      adventure at Djabotaure--Native festivities on the eve of
      Ramadam--Djabotaure to Audasi--Incompetent hammock boys
      --"Sea-sickness" on land--A moonlight night in the bush
      --Nearing Sokode--Our horses waiting for us in charge of
      a European--A bush toilet--Arrival in Sokode--Kindly
      hospitality                                                57-68


  CHAPTER VI

  IN THE CAPITAL OF TSCHAUDJOLAND

  In camp at Paratau--Uro Djabo, paramount chief of the
      Tschaudjo--A courtly savage--The Tschaudjo a conquering
      tribe who came riding on horses from the north--Djabo's
      palace--His wives--A much-married monarch--His prime
      minister and attendants--He comes to afternoon tea--A
      democratic king--Tschaudjo horsemen--An accident--
      I nearly lose my life--A nervous breakdown--We leave
      Paratau in a hurry--Kindness of the German Government
      officials at Sokode--They lend us one hundred carriers
      --On the road to Aledjo-Kadara, "the Switzerland of
      Togo"                                                      69-79


  CHAPTER VII

  ALEDJO-KADARA--THE SWITZERLAND OF TOGO

  On the march from Paratau to Aledjo-Kadara--A terrible stage
      --Doubt and depression--An uphill journey--I feel my
      health improving--An accident--Native sympathy--Our
      cook annexes our dining-table--A lovely camp--A thousand
      yards up and surrounded by mountains--The Switzerland of
      Togo--Beautiful rest-houses--The harmattan--Grass
      fires--Filming a drama--Another accident--Nebel and I
      nearly fall over a precipice--Nebel homesick--He leaves
      for Europe--Filming the final scene of _Odd Man Out_--We
      visit Bafilo, near Aledjo--Great reception by natives for
      the first white woman--The Uro (king) of Bafilo meets us
      in state--Torch play to celebrate the finish of Ramadam--
      More filming--An astonished native--Industrial films--
      The cotton industry--Trade guilds--Primitive looms and
      spindles--Making beads from palm nuts--Baboons like dogs
      and rabbits with feet like elephants                       80-96


  CHAPTER VIII

  AMONG THE BAFILO FOLK

  The native market at Bafilo--Native sweetmeats--Cowries as
      currency--A native barber shaving a baby's head--Togo
      boys playing at the West African equivalent of pitch and
      toss--A woman's dance that out-tangos the tango--Native
      baskets at a farthing apiece--Hyenas--I am nearly bitten
      by a puff-adder--A leopard--Early stables--Filming
      again--A glut of supers--A "woman palaver"--One of our
      people abducts a native girl--His punishment--I read the
      girl a lecture--But make little impression--"He gave me
      these"--A drunken native--I intercede for him with his
      chief--Wild tribes from the Kabre Mountains--Nude but
      modest--The shy girl and her bag of salt--A native falls
      in love with me--Beautiful native work--I buy a cloak of
      native manufacture--Good-bye to Bafilo                    97-107


  CHAPTER IX

  ON THE MARCH ONCE MORE

  On trek once more--A disquieting discovery--I am very angry
      --A long day's journey--I narrowly escape sunstroke--
      "Wholesome anger a good tonic"--I taste native beer for
      the first time--And find it both refreshing and sustaining
      --Antelope spoor--Exchange carriers--First meeting
      with the Konkombwa--The finest race of savages in Togo--
      Native dandies--Trouble with our horse boys--They are
      punished--In the heart of the wilds--European and native
      rest-houses--Paying our carriers with salt--Schomburgk
      gets "bushed"--Resents my anxiety--We quarrel--Elephant
      spoor--I am given my first lesson in wood-craft--
      Mosquitoes--The yellow-fever breeding anophele--We cross
      the Kara River--First sight of hippopotami--We strike the
      Oti, the principal river of Northern Togo                108-124


  CHAPTER X

  CHRISTMAS AT SANSANE-MANGU

  At Mangu--Captain von Hirschfeld--I make an "impression"--
      Though not the kind I should have liked to have made--"The
      Place where Warriors Meet"--A brush with the Tschokossi
      --Captain von Hirschfeld's splendid hospitality--Tamberma
      Fort--The head tax---The Mangu plantations--Mangu in
      the rainy season--Great heat--Terrific thunderstorms--
      Our Christmas dinner at Mangu--New Year's Eve festivities
      --We burn three thousand feet of film--Game birds round
      Mangu--A fishing carnival--Queer native methods--
      Canoeing on the Oti River--A marvellous shot--Filming in
      the tropics--More difficulties--The new station at Mangu,
      and the old one--A striking contrast--The big Mangu
      "songu"--A gathering of the clans--Trapping a hyena--
      A plague of bats--Fresh milk and native butter--Ancient
      records at Mangu                                         125-140


  CHAPTER XI

  OUR "FARTHEST NORTH"

  Northward from Mangu--Wild savages and poisoned arrows--A
      treacherous attack and a lucky escape--Different arrow
      poisons--Grass fires and their drawbacks--Mosquitoes and
      some yarns about them--Wild natives--The wild Tschokossi
      women--A new dress every day--Our boys go swimming in
      a crocodile-infested pool--Our pet monkey gets loose--
      Searching for hippos--An unreliable guide--Sullen natives
      --A too-early call--A wonderful game country--In God's
      big "zoo"--Gorgeous plumaged birds--I want Schomburgk
      to shoot some for me--He objects--Sun birds and blue
      jays--Across a yam-field country--A bird sanctuary--
      Discovery of a flock of marabou--I regret having no gun--
      The costliest feathers on earth--Our guide loses his way
      again--Fulani herdsmen--They supply us with fresh milk--
      Arrival at Sumbu                                         141-158


  CHAPTER XII

  AMONG THE SUMBU SAVAGES

  At Sumbu--Wild savages--Our boys afraid--Tschokossi
      refuse to sell us provisions--I enter a village and buy a
      chicken--Astonishment of the people at their first sight
      of coined money--I make friends with the children--Lumps
      of sugar--A new delicacy--The "white honey rock"--I
      become "chummy" with the chief--He invites me to go over
      his village with him--I accept the invitation--A unique
      village--Elaborate precautions against attack--Where did
      the Tschokossi learn to build these remarkable villages?--
      "Every village a fortress and every house a fort"--Messa
      gets scared--And Alfred follows suit--Cleanliness and
      the "classes"--I try my hand at cheese-making--Our too
      energetic "washerwoman"--A novel theory of wages--The
      ugliest chief in Togo--Marriage among the wild Tschokossi
      --Men's view--A primitive form of eugenics--"Can white
      women laugh?"--Our boys are boycotted--Native women
      refuse to cook for them--Salt the only currency--Sleeping
      "rough"--My boys' anxiety for the safety of their "little
      white mother"--Messa makes himself putties--His anxiety
      about his wife--A case of filaria--Dangerous symptoms    159-182


  CHAPTER XIII

  BACK TO MANGU

  An adventure with a puff-adder--Welcome news--"Chief's
      mail"--Out after hippo--Inexperienced hammock boys--
      My first sight of hippopotami--I am not impressed--
      Crocodile island--An extraordinary sight--Birds that
      pick crocodiles' teeth--Panscheli--Hodgson shoots two
      hippos--Our boys fetch them from the pool--Cutting up the
      carcases--A loathsome sight--We break camp--Homeward
      bound--Huge oyster "middens"--Stalked by savages--A
      _nuit blanche_--A leopard--and other things--Bad news
      --Back in Mangu                                          183-197


  CHAPTER XIV

  THROUGH THE KONKOMBWA COUNTRY

  At Mangu--The harmattan--A meteorological mystery--Filming
      ethnological pictures--Building the new Mangu station--
      Drilling native soldiers--Marriage in the native army--
      Buying wives--Their market value--Polygamy _v._ monogamy
      --Filming Togo history--We reconstruct a big battle--
      Celebrating the Kaiser's Birthday--We buy a wild ostrich--
      It escapes--An ostrich hunt on the veldt--Packing up for
      the downward journey--Horrible discovery--No cigarettes
      --"Battle-axe" brand _v._ best Egyptians--Quitting
      Mangu--On the march to Unyogo--No water--Hodgson has
      an extraordinary "adventure"--A woman palaver--On to
      Djereponi--Chameleons--Nambiri--Nothing to eat--A
      glorious feed--An egg-laying story--In the heart of the
      Konkombwa country                                        198-212


  CHAPTER XV

  NAMBIRI TO TSCHOPOWA

  The chief of Nambiri--One of Nature's gentlemen--Killing the
      fatted calf--Pretty Konkombwa villages--The Konkombwa
      and the Dagomba--Elaborate head-dresses of the Konkombwa
      men--Konkombwa women--A domestic row--Wonderful
      recuperative powers of savages--Konkombwa dances--A
      wonderful performance--Studies in facial expression--
      Distributing kola-nuts to the dancers--A native delicacy--
      On to Tschopowa--Voluntary carriers--A "royal" progress
      --Marabou feathers--A welcome surprise--I secure a
      wonderful bargain--The rest-house at Tschopowa--A huge
      baobab tree--Bow and arrow competitions--We secure
      pictures of hippo--Remarkable corn bins--Roast bats as
      native luxuries--I decline a share in the "banquet"--A
      live alarum clock                                        213-226

  CHAPTER XVI

  THE WOMEN MINERS OF BANJELI

  Tschopowa to Kugnau--No roads--A careless guide--Schomburgk
      loses his way--Crossing the Oti River--Mosquitoes at
      Kugnau--Asmani and his "mosquito slaps"--A disconcerting
      mistake--Messa and Asmani fall out--The Konkombwa and
      their helmets--A too officious soldier--Anecdote about
      the Duke of Mecklenburg--Crossing the Oti for the last
      time--Arrival at Ibubu--A "Roman Fort"--In the Sokode
      district--Small food rations--Truculent natives--We buy
      a second ostrich--Lack of carriers--A serious dilemma--
      The chief of Ibubu is impertinent--"I can't make carriers
      out of mealie cobs"--I go on ahead with the few carriers
      available, leaving Schomburgk to follow--The disappearing
      women--On the road to Banjeli--Beautiful scenery--
      Schomburgk orders the chief of Ibubu to be arrested and
      brought a prisoner to Bassari--Women carriers--A glut
      of green and gold beetles--Our mail arrives at Banjeli
      from Bassari--News from home--I buy a pig--And am
      disappointed--A native "cooler"--Our personal boys imbibe
      not wisely but too well--A model punishment--Filming the
      native iron industry at Banjeli--Slave women miners--A
      pitiful sight--We obtain some most interesting pictures  227-248


  CHAPTER XVII

  IN A MOUNTAIN COUNTRY

  Banjeli to Bassari--In a mountain country--Crossing the
      Katscha River--Bush riding--Arrival at Beapabe--An
      avenue of mango trees--We reach Bassari--Hospitality of
      Mr. Muckè, the Sub-District Commissioner--He places the
      "Massow House" at our disposal--Sleeping in a dwelling with
      windows--Scarcity of water--The "King of Bassari"--
      An Arab stallion--Native smiths at Bassari--The Mallam
      Mohammed, a local Pooh-Bah--An open-air school--The
      Mallam's eight wives--Their house and its treasures--They
      pay me a return visit--A Jack-in-the-box baby--Native
      jewellery--The District Commissioner from Sokode passes
      through Bassari                                          249-262


  CHAPTER XVIII

  A WOMAN "PALAVER"

  Native marriages--A matter of sale and exchange--Infant
      betrothals--Native weddings--A Tschaudjo ceremony--
      A trying ordeal--Polygamy--Childbirth--Infant diet
      and infant mortality--Baby girls--A bush ordeal--The
      "Women's Queen"--Fetish women--Secret rites--Status of
      native wives--Widows--African death customs--Caravan
      cookery--Native cooks--Monkey-nut soup--Potatoes a
      coveted luxury--Bush delicacies                          263-279

  CHAPTER XIX

  BACK IN SOKODE

  Bassari to Malfakasa--Crossing the Kamaa River--A fearful
      climb--Mountain scenery--Uro-Ganede-Bo--A royal
      sanctuary--The last of our provisions--The outlaw of
      the "Long Gun" mountain--On the road from Malfakasa to
      Sokode--The Tim plains--Arrival in Sokode--In touch
      with civilisation once more--A telegraphic orgie--We
      say good-bye to our horses--Sending them down through
      the tsetse-fly belt--Precautions--Sleeping sickness--
      The Mallam of Dedaure--A splendid native--The native
      Government school at Sokode--Mr. Kuepers, the schoolmaster
      --Native scholars--Good manners of the children--Native
      children apter to learn than white up to a certain age--
      Herr von Parpart gives a farewell dinner--We meet Mr. and
      Mrs. Dehn--The choir invisible--By motor car to Atakpame
      --A breakdown on the road--Arrival at Atakpame--Kamina   280-295


  CHAPTER XX

  KAMINA--LOME--HOME

  Warm welcome to Kamina--I am introduced to the Baroness Codelli
      von Fahnenfeld--Good news--A faithful black "boy"--
      The great wireless station at Kamina--Feminine vanity
      --Camping out _v._ living in--A tornado--Good-bye to
      Kamina--By rail to the coast--At Lome--Filming the
      first scene of our principal drama--We want a white baby
      --Difficulties of the quest--Shall we paint a black
      baby white?--A compromise--Social life in Lome--Herr
      Vollbehr paints my portrait in the gardens of the Duke of
      Mecklenburg's palace--The great pier at Lome--Coast
      natives--We part with our "boys"--Good-bye to Africa--
      Vain regrets--Las Palmas--I try a mild gamble--And win
      £7--We are nearly sunk when nearing Southampton          296-311


  INDEX                                                        313-316



ILLUSTRATIONS


  KONKOMBWA WARRIOR IN FULL GALA DRESS                  _Frontispiece_
                                                        _To face page_
  PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR                                            32

  REHEARSING FOR THE CINEMA                                         36

  PLAYING AN "INTERIOR" SCENE IN A NATIVE DRAMA                     36

  CINEMA ACTING IN THE WILDS                                        42

  AUTHORESS AND BODYGUARD OF TSCHAUDJO HORSEMEN                     46

  MAJOR HANS SCHOMBURGK                                             50

  EUROPEAN REST-HOUSE AT TSCHOPOWA                                  52

  CINEMA FILMS:--(1) A KONKOMBWA GIANT;
      (2) PAYING CARRIERS IN SALT;
      (3) THE OLD URO DJABO OF PARATAU;
      (4) A LIVE ALARUM CLOCK;
      (5) BOY SCOUTS                                                62

  MARKET SCENE IN PARATAU                                           72

  NATIVE BOYS AT PARATAU                                            74

  CINEMA FILMS:--(1) WOMEN HAIRDRESSING;
      (2), (3) BABY'S BATH;
      (4) BETTER THAN THE TANGO;
      (5), (6) SCENES FROM "THE WHITE GODDESS"                      88

  CINEMA FILMS: BEAD-MAKING                                         94

  A HAUSA WOMAN                                                    104

  TSCHAUDJO GIRL FROM BAFILO                                       104

  KONKOMBWA WARRIOR                                                112

  CAMPING OUT IN THE BUSH                                          112

  KONKOMBWA DANDY                                                  116

  YOUNG KONKOMBWA WARRIOR                                          116

  CINEMA FILMS: A WOMAN'S WORK                                     120

  TAMBERMA FORT                                                    128

  CANOEING ON THE OTI RIVER                                        134

  CHIEFS' COMPOUND                                                 138

  NATIVE PIG IRON                                                  138

  UNFORTIFIED TSCHOKOSSI VILLAGE                                   144

  NATIVES GAMBLING                                                 154

  SKETCH OF A FORTIFIED TSCHOKOSSI VILLAGE                         166

  PLAN OF THE SAME VILLAGE                                         167

  BASKET-MAKING                                                    170

  AUTHORESS AND DEAD "HIPPO"                                       188

  A FINE HEAD OF HAIR                                              208

  NATIVE HAIRDRESSING                                              208

  YOUNG KONKOMBWA WARRIOR                                          214

  A HUGE COMMUNAL CORN-BIN                                         224

  "ROMAN" FORT AT IBUBU                                            232

  BANJELI THE CENTRE OF THE NATIVE IRON INDUSTRY                   240

  SECTION OF OLD NATIVE IRON FURNACE                               244

  A COUPLE OF YOUNG SUPERS                                         260

  A STUDY IN WHITE AND BLACK                                       260

  NATIVE VILLAGE IN NORTHERN TOGO                                  280

  CINEMA FILMS: KONKOMBWA AT ARCHERY PRACTICE                      290



A CAMERA ACTRESS IN THE WILDS OF TOGOLAND



CHAPTER I

LONDON TO LOME


Actresses who, like myself, specialise in cinema productions,
frequently find themselves "up against" all sorts of queer propositions
of a business character; and we are not, therefore, easily surprised
out of that orthodox professional calm, which we all try, more or less
successfully, to cultivate.

When, however, it was suggested to me, early last summer, that I should
take a trip into the far interior of Africa, in a district where no
white woman had ever been before, in order to play "leading lady" in
a series of dramas of native life, I confess to having been for once
completely taken aback.

Nor did even the fact that the proposed expedition was being financed
and personally conducted by Major Hans Schomburgk, F.R.G.S., the
well-known African explorer and hunter, completely reassure me. I
hesitated long. But eventually the prospect of shaking the dust of
cities from my feet for awhile, and living the (very much) simple life
amongst unspoilt children of nature in altogether novel surroundings,
tempted me into acquiescence; and--greatly against the advice of my
relatives and friends--I "took on" the job.

Largely I was influenced in my decision by the fact of my having known
Major Schomburgk for some time previously, for we are both natives of
Hamburg.

Although not perhaps so well known in England--outside of scientific
circles--as he is in Germany, he can nevertheless, if he wishes to,
truthfully lay claim to be one of the most successful African explorers
and big-game hunters now living; and as his name will figure pretty
prominently in the pages of this book, a brief description of him and
his work may not be out of place.

Thirty-three years of age, of medium stature and somewhat slim build,
he is nevertheless endowed with great physical strength. The last
sixteen years of his life--since he was a lad of seventeen, that is to
say--have been spent almost entirely in Africa, hunting, fighting, and
exploring.

Speaking English like a native, he served in the Natal Mounted Police,
and in the last Boer War, for which he has the medal, with four clasps.
As a hunter, it is no exaggeration to say that his prowess is famed
throughout Africa. No fewer than sixty-three full-grown elephants
have fallen to his rifle, and he once bagged four big tuskers in four
shots--two rights and two lefts.

Twice he has crossed Africa. His most adventurous trip--one of five
years' duration--was from the Victoria Falls to Angola, Portuguese West
Africa, thence back through the Congo Free State, Northern Rhodesia,
and German East Africa, coming out eventually at Dar es Salam, near
Zanzibar. During the whole of that time he never saw a railway, or
slept in a stone house. For an entire year he was exploring the source
of the Zambesi, in the Walunde country, which had not been previously
visited by white people; and it was during this expedition that he
trapped, and brought to Europe alive, a specimen of the East African
elephant, a feat that had been frequently attempted before, but never
successfully performed.

He was, too, the first white man to secure alive specimens of the
rare pygmy hippopotamus, an animal that in its native state is so
exceedingly scarce and shy that its very existence even was denied up
till comparatively recently by most African hunters and explorers.

Major Schomburgk knew better, however, for he had actually seen one
of the miniature creatures during an early trip into the West African
hinterland; and in 1911, after infinite difficulty, and some danger, he
succeeded in trapping no fewer than five living specimens, and, what
is more to the point, conveying them from the interior down to the
sea-coast, whence they were safely shipped to Europe.

Two of these are now in the London "Zoo"--one specimen having been
presented by the Duke of Bedford, who bought it from Mr. Carl
Hagenbeck, for whom Major Schomburgk was acting; the other three are in
the New York Zoological Gardens. All five "pygmys," I may mention, were
shown to the Kaiser, who was greatly interested in the curious little
beasts, and warmly congratulated their captor on his success.

In addition to those mentioned above, Major Schomburgk has also
discovered and named many hitherto unknown species of African fauna,
including a rare new buffalo, the _Bubalus Schomburgki_.

Nor was this the first cinema expedition that he had organised and led
into the West African hinterland. Scarcely three weeks prior to the
date when he first approached me with an offer to go out to Togo as
leading (and only) lady, he had returned home from conducting a similar
enterprise into the hinterlands of Liberia and Togo. But that one was
not a success; one reason being, he informed me, that the negative
stock he took out was not the right kind for the tropics. Then, too,
his camera man proved a failure.

The net result was that the money invested in financing the expedition
was practically all lost. This time he hoped, profiting by experience,
to attain to far better results, and, after I had signed my contract,
he infected me with his enthusiasm, so that I grew quite learned--in
theory--about celluloid ribbon, reels, and so forth.

I may say at once that we succeeded even beyond our expectations. In
fact, it has been admitted since by experts, that the collection of
films we brought back, dramatic, ethnographic, and anthropologic, were
the finest that ever came out of the tropics. I can say this without
egotism, and even without appearing unduly to flatter Major Schomburgk,
since the pictures were not taken by either of us, but by his camera
man, Mr. James Hodgson. Of course, we both of us acted in the dramatic
films, but that is another matter.

It was on August 26th, following the necessary preliminary preparations
in London, that we sailed from Dover in the "good ship"--I believe that
is the accepted nautical term--_Henny Woermamm_, bound for Lome, which
is the capital and port of Togo, a tiny German protectorate wedged in
between the Gold Coast Colony on the west and Dahomey on the east.

The coast-line is only thirty-two miles long, but inland the country
widens out a lot, and it was for this "hinterland"--largely unknown and
uncharted--that we were bound.

I must confess to a certain feeling of pleasurable excitement--what
girl would not experience such?--on the occasion of this first start on
what will in all probability always stand out in memory's record as the
longest and most adventurous journey of my life.

Our prime business was, of course, to film pictures, and we set to
work promptly. Directly we got on board the tender, we commenced
photographing the first scene in a drama entitled _Odd Man Out_,
the scenario of which had already been put together in London, and
concerning the plot of which I shall have more to say presently.

Naturally our business excited the curiosity of the other passengers,
and as the tug drew near to the great liner, I could see that the rails
of the decks nearest to us were lined with row on row of the passengers
who had joined the vessel at Hamburg, all eagerly intent on watching us
and our doings; and as we stepped on board, all eyes were directed at
us, and many smiled a kindly greeting. As for me, however, during those
first few hours my one wish was to be alone, to arrange my cabin,
unpack my belongings, and generally make my surroundings as comfortable
and homelike as possible.

It is the fashion of old West African travellers to protest that the
pleasures and amenities of the voyage do not really begin until Madeira
is passed, but as far as I was concerned I had quite settled down to
life on board after our first day at sea. We played the usual ship's
games, sang, talked, and I am afraid that most of us, old as well as
young, married and single, flirted a little bit. I soon gathered round
me quite a small circle of friends. They were mostly men friends,
but this was not exactly my fault. An actress is an actress. _Que
voulez-vous?_

And here I feel that I must say how greatly I appreciated the kindness
and attention I received during the voyage from the ship's officers.
The captain, a most fatherly old gentleman, the oldest officer and the
commodore of the fleet of mail steamers to which the _Henny Woermamm_
belongs, was unceasing in his efforts to do all he could for my
comfort and convenience. The food, too, was excellent, and the whole
surroundings most comfortable, not to say luxurious; equal, in fact, to
those of any first-class hotel.

Curious how one gets used to the throbbing of the engines on board
ship, and the vibration of the propeller. When they suddenly ceased,
very early one morning, I was wide awake immediately. For a few
moments I lay quite still, wondering lazily what was the matter. Then
it suddenly flashed upon my mind that we must be at Madeira, and all
desire for further sleep promptly vanished. I jumped up, peeped out of
my port-hole, saw at once that it was even as I had surmised, and at
once I proceeded to dress and hurry on deck.

It was Sunday morning. Before my eyes lay Madeira. Never in all my life
had I seen anything one-half so beautiful. I was quite taken aback by
the ethereal loveliness of the picture, and could only stand still and
gaze at it in speechless admiration.

I was almost the first on deck, and so I had it all to myself for
a while, and I could drink in the beauty of it, and enjoy it at my
leisure. But soon the other passengers came pouring up from below in
ever increasing numbers, and all became bustle, noise, and animation.
Native boys swam out and round the ship in shoals, shouting, jabbering,
and gesticulating, and diving for pennies which were thrown to them by
the passengers.

After breakfast we went ashore, hired a motor-car, and drove up the
mountain side to a spot whence a magnificent view is obtained of the
whole of the bay, harbour, and town. The road up is exceedingly steep,
and it was, take it altogether, the most exciting motor ride I ever
experienced. I was, in fact, afraid at times that the car would slip
backwards.

But if the ride up was exciting, it was nothing by comparison with the
ride down. This return journey is made by means of queer-looking native
sleighs over a smooth cobble-paved, but exceedingly steep road. Each of
these sleighs will accommodate two passengers, and is manipulated by
a couple of natives, who stand bolt upright on the elongated runners
that project behind, and guide its course with their feet.

It is very like tobogganing, minus the snow and ice, and most of the
passengers made light of it, but to my mind it was a rather terrifying
and not altogether pleasant experience; for the road is inclined in
places at an angle of something like ninety degrees, there are many
sharp curves, and the crazy little vehicles fly downwards with the
rapidity of lightning. Nevertheless, so skilful are the natives that I
was assured that accidents are practically unknown.

After our ride our party went together into the town, and I found it
very interesting to watch the passengers busily engaged in buying
curios, and specimens of native work, to take home to their friends.
Everybody haggled to get the price as low as possible; and yet
afterwards, when they got back on board ship, everybody came to the
conclusion that they had been "had."

We utilised, too, our short stay on shore to film yet another scene
in the _Odd Man Out_ drama, this being taken in the gardens amidst
beautiful tropical vegetation; and one of the curious island sledges,
drawn by oxen, was also introduced. In fact, I may say here that we
hardly ever missed a suitable opportunity throughout the voyage to
get local colour for this our first cinema play, the early scenes in
which are concerned with a young white woman going out to join her
husband in the wilds of Central Africa. When later on, for instance,
we passed a mail steamer in mid-ocean, the camera was got ready, and I
was set to pose and act on deck, with the big ship flitting past in the
background as a setting. We had some gorgeous sunsets, too, and these
also we pressed into our service, so to speak.

The "Blue Peter" flying from the masthead is the signal for everybody
to hurry on board, and soon the anchor is up, the screw starts to
revolve, and we resume our journey. Between Madeira and Las Palmas we
enjoyed two of the lovely sunsets mentioned above. I never saw anything
to equal them, and certainly I could never have imagined anything
half so beautiful. If a painter could have painted them exactly true
to nature, I am quite sure that he would have been laughed at as a
futurist, or something artistically as dreadful; because no one, who
had not seen the original, would have believed in the reality of his
vivid colour effects.

On the morning of September 1st we passed Teneriffe, but only stopped
there for quite a short while to put off a few passengers. At noon we
anchored at Las Palmas, where we had a long wait. A party of us went
ashore, and visited the cathedral and the few other "sights" that the
place boasts of.

Then we hired a motor-car for a drive up to the Hotel Monte. At least,
the chauffeur who drove us called his conveyance a motor-car, but it
was the awfullest type of its kind I ever came across. The bumping was
terrific, but looking over and under to try to ascertain the reason
I discovered to my amazement that one of the wheels was practically
destitute of any vestige of a tyre. About every ten minutes, too, we
had to stop dead, because the motor got hot, and there was no water
available to cool it.

At last, after a thorough shaking-up, the worst I think I ever had
in my life, we arrived at the hotel, and had our tea. The view from
the summit made amends in part for the disagreeableness of the drive.
It was superb. It struck me as being very strange, however, that the
one side of the mountain is quite bleak and bare, whilst the other is
beautifully green and wooded.

In Las Palmas I saw for the first time women washing the family linen
at the sides of the roads in the streams that flow downwards through
pebble and shingle. The Las Palmas roads, by the way, are atrocious;
but the strongly built mail-coaches, each drawn by six mules, make
light of their unevennesses.

At five o'clock we paid a visit to S.M.S. _Bremen_, which lay in the
harbour near the _Henny Woermamm_. Three officers belonging to her had
accompanied us as far as Las Palmas, and we had been great friends
with them, and now they invited us to come on board their vessel for a
farewell visit. Champagne was produced, and I took a couple of glasses
and found they did me good, the heat being very great, and the ride up
to the Hotel Monte and back dreadfully dry and dusty.

Our captain had fixed six o'clock as the hour of departure, but we did
not actually start until eleven. The ship seemed almost unnaturally
quiet now that the naval officers had left her, for they were always
bright and jolly, and I must confess that I had got to like "my little
boys in blue," as I had christened them, very much indeed. However, I
am naturally light-hearted, so I quickly banished sadness, consoling
myself with the reflection that there are, after all, heaps of nice
men in the world.

At length Lome hove in sight, and while I was being lowered, together
with three other passengers, into the boat that was to take us
ashore, the band struck up a song that was pretty popular amongst the
passengers on board, "Do you think that I love you because I have
danced with you?" and on deck stood an army lieutenant who was going to
join his regiment in Kamerun, and with whom I had often danced. I was
convulsed with laughter, because I knew that it was all his work. After
this ditty came "The Girl I Left Behind Me," and looking back from the
boat I saw my dear old captain, and an elderly civilian gentleman who
had paid me a good deal of attention, standing on deck with a huge bath
towel between them, on which they were pretending to dry their tears.
It was exceedingly comical.

Landing at Lome is not at all a simple matter. First one has to be
lowered into the boat from the deck of the steamer in what is called
a "mammy chair"--mammy being a coast term for woman. It is a sort of
wooden skip, something like one of the old-fashioned swing-boats one
sees at village fairs.

The passage from ship to shore is exciting, and in bad weather it
is even considered dangerous, and there is considerable surf; but
the sea happened fortunately to be calm when we got there. Otherwise
our arrival was inopportune. On the day before a member of the tiny
European colony there had died of yellow fever, and all the flags were
at half-mast.

This rather cast a damper over our spirits, although nothing could
exceed the kindness and courtesy shown us by the Togo officials, from
the highest to the lowest. The custom-house officers hurried over
the necessary formalities as quickly as possible; and although the
governor, H.H. the Duke of Mecklenburg, was unable to receive us, being
engaged with Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor of the Gold Coast Colony, who
had come to pay him an official visit, he had kindly arranged quarters
for us, and done everything in his power to welcome us and make us
comfortable.

His adjutant, Lieutenant von Rentzel, who was in hospital at the time,
put his house and servants at the disposal of our party, and we had
a jolly dinner party there that night, at which I played the part of
hostess. He also lent me personally a rickshaw, and a boy to draw it,
so that I might be able to see what there was to see in and about the
town with the minimum of fatigue and inconvenience.

However, I had not much time to devote to sight-seeing, for very early
on the morning after our arrival we set out to journey up country to
a place called Atakpame, distant about 110 miles from Lome. A railway
runs so far; and at the rail-head civilisation may be said to come
abruptly to an end.



CHAPTER II

HOW WE FILMED "THE WHITE GODDESS OF THE WANGORA"


Oh that railway journey! Shall I ever forget it? The dust and heat were
awful, and owing to some unaccountable oversight, nobody had thought
to lay in any provisions for the trip, which lasted from six o'clock
in the morning till four in the afternoon. The only food we were able
to obtain _en route_ consisted of monkey nuts. Our thirst, however,
we quenched quite satisfactorily with luscious, juicy pine-apples,
of which the natives brought us unlimited supplies at every
stopping-place, offering them clamorously for sale at the uniform rate
of one penny each.

Arrived at Atakpame, we were given a right royal welcome by Baron
Codelli von Fahnenfeld, who is building for the German Government, at
Kamina near by, an immense wireless station, intended to communicate
direct with the wireless station at Nauen, just outside Berlin.

The baron first introduced to me my "house," a straw hut, like all the
dwellings hereabouts, but, as he proudly pointed out, it was, unlike
them, possessed of a cement floor. I duly thanked him, and tried to
smile my gratitude. But my heart misgave me, for to my mind it seemed
to lack pretty well all the essentials that a dwelling-place should by
rights possess.

To begin with, it most certainly was not weather-proof, for I could
see, through the interstices of the loosely-thatched roof, the stars
twinkling far above. The wind blew in the front and out at the back,
and I was conscious, all the time I was dressing for dinner, that I was
the cynosure of several hundred pairs of eyes, belonging to as many
natives, men and women, who, "clad in the climate," as the saying is
out there, crowded in serried ranks all round the wattle walls, anxious
for a glimpse through the all too numerous chinks at the wonderful
white woman timidly robing and disrobing within.

But dinner made amends for everything. We were the baron's guests for
that evening. It was a glorious, gorgeous meal, beautifully prepared
and perfectly served under conditions which seemed ideal to me, partly
no doubt because they were so altogether novel. The warm African night
was absolutely still, save for the continual monotonous humming of
myriads of insects. All around was the silent mysterious bush, from
which came no sound, either of man, or of beast, or of bird.

And we--we were in a little gastronomic world of our own; a tiny bit
of London, or Paris, or Berlin, planted out in the wild. There was
the same sheen of damask napery, the same glitter of crystal and
silver, the same faint, almost imperceptible perfume of exotics, as
one associates mentally with, say, the Ritz or the Savoy. Only the
servitors here, instead of wearing black clothes and having white
faces, were ebon black in colour, and their liveries were white, all
white, from head to foot, save for the silver blazonry of the baron's
crest.

Oh, how I enjoyed this my first real meal in the real heart of Africa!
The memory of the taste of it lingers on my palate yet, even as I
write. Nothing was lacking, nothing was _de trop_. The caviare was
as good as the consommé, and both were perfect. The partridge _en
casserol_ was hot, juicy, and tender. The spring lamb with asparagus
shoots was a dream. The peach Melba melted in one's mouth. The coffee
was as good as any I have tasted in Vienna, which is only another
way of saying that it was the very best possible. The wines, like
the liqueurs, were just "it." When my host informed me, over our
cigarettes, that all the comestibles came out of cans, I simply could
not believe it. But it was the truth, of course, nevertheless. Only
canned provisions are available in the Togo hinterland, if one excepts
chickens and eggs, and an occasional joint of very tough and very
insipid beef.

After dinner, however, came my first real African ordeal. Wishful to do
honour to our genial host, I had donned one of my prettiest low-necked
frocks, and the mosquitoes took a mean and dastardly advantage of
my innocent inexperience. The baron and Major Schomburgk swathed me
from head to foot in blankets and tablecloths, so that I looked like
an Egyptian mummy. Nevertheless, ere bedtime, I grew unbeautifully
speckled, and very, very lumpy.

I had almost forgotten to record that the dinner was served in an open
thatched house, like my own, but somewhat larger, so that the insects
had free access everywhere. The light came from one of Baron Codelli's
acetylene motor-bike lamps, placed at some distance from the table. A
lamp placed anywhere on, or near the table, attracts insects in such
countless myriads as to render eating and drinking almost out of the
question.

I slept fairly well through my first night in the African bush, having
previously learnt to lie perfectly straight and still on the narrow
camp bedsteads that are everywhere in vogue in Togo. If one wriggles
about under one's mosquito-net, or throws one's arms about, the
bloodthirsty little brutes are sure to get at one, and then woe betide
the sleeper. He, or she, becomes the sleeper awakened with a vengeance.

On rising at sunrise, I asked quite innocently for my bath. My native
boy grinned; and pointed to a bucket hanging from the top of a tall
pole in the open compound fronting my hut. At the same time he
explained by gestures that by pulling out, by means of a cord that was
attached to it, the bung in the bottom, I could manage to obtain a very
good imitation of a genuine shower-bath.

Nobody seemed to think that there was anything amiss in the publicity
that must of necessity have attached to the proposed performance, but I
was of a different opinion. I shirked my bath for that one morning, and
during the afternoon my boy, acting on my instructions, built a wattle
screen round the compound.

I was looking forward to start rehearsing that day on the first of our
native plays, which we had entitled tentatively, _The White Goddess
of the Wangora_; but then I knew nothing at the time of the delays
incidental to any kind of work in which natives play a part.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR

Painted in Togoland, by Ernst Vollbehr of München. The native is a
Konkombwa.]

Time is of no value whatever to these wild and woolly savages, and
as we had of necessity to get together a small army of several hundred
"supers," literally weeks elapsed before we were ready. I chafed
dreadfully at the delay, but there was no help for it. The requisite
number of natives had to be laboriously collected from a score or more
of villages scattered over a wide area of country, and then, when we
had got them together, everything had to be explained to them over and
over again through the medium of three or four different interpreters.
In fact, it was nothing but talk, talk, talk, palaver, palaver,
palaver, from morning till night.

There was considerable difficulty, too, in getting them to face the
camera. Like most savages, these Togo natives have an inherent rooted
aversion to being photographed. Luckily, however, Major Schomburgk
had taken moving pictures of some of their villages during a previous
expedition he had led into these parts, and some of the very natives we
had engaged figured in them.

So, as we had brought a projecting machine with us, we made shift to
rig up a screen, and showed them themselves, their wives and their
little ones, going about their ordinary avocations in their own homes.
The effect was instantaneous. They had, of course, seen ordinary
photographs before, but none of them had ever beheld any moving
pictures. Now they all wanted to come into one; and whereas before
the most of them hung back, they were now only too anxious to push
themselves in the forefront of every scene.

Only one act they shirked. This was a battle scene in which several of
the warriors were supposed to be slain. We had the greatest difficulty
in persuading even one native to "act dead." Their objection, they
explained, was due to the fact that they believed that if they played
at being dead before the white man's mysterious machine, they would
most likely be dead in reality before morning.

At length, by the promise of a liberal bonus, one warrior, greatly
daring, consented to play the part. The next morning the head
interpreter knocked at the door of my hut to inform me that there were
"eight dead natives lying in the compound outside."

"What!" I screamed, in great alarm. And, hastily donning my
dressing-gown, I ran out.

But I need not have got scared. The eight were not really defunct. They
were merely shamming death, and wanted me to see how well they could do
it, with a view to being taken on for the part in the forthcoming day's
rehearsal.

The one who had played dead the day before had not of course died
during the night, as they more than half expected he would have done,
and they were consequently now only too willing and anxious to follow
the lead he had set them.

At length the long, wearisome series of preliminary rehearsals came to
an end. Everybody was supposed to be part perfect, and we made ready to
film the play.

Up to this I had, of course, rehearsed in ordinary attire. Now
I had to don native dress; and as I am a stickler for realism I
insisted--against Major Schomburgk's advice--in playing in bare feet
and legs, bare shoulders and arms, and with no head covering.

As the principal scenes were laid out of doors in the middle of the
bush, and under a blazing tropical sun, this, as was pointed out to me,
was a pretty "big order." Nevertheless, I thought I could "stick it";
and, as a matter of fact, I did, though I suffered for it afterwards.

My part was, of course, that of the "White Goddess." I was supposed
to have been cast ashore as a babe on the coast of Togo, and taken
up-country by the savages who found me, and who afterwards placed me
in charge of their principal ju-ju shrine, paying me, in the course of
time, almost divine honours.

I had grown to womanhood without ever having seen one of my own colour
and race, and when a white hunter (Major Schomburgk) was taken prisoner
by the tribe whose high priestess I was, I was naturally attracted to
him. Bound hand and foot, he was cast into a hut, preparatory to being
put to death. I had to free him from his bonds, and guide him in a wild
flight for freedom over rocks and bushes, through foaming streams, and
up hill and down dale.

All this I did. It is the great scene of the play, and to film it took
one whole day. Major Schomburgk had given strict orders for all our
eight hundred or so of supers to muster at 6 A.M. sharp, but with the
irritating perverseness of natives they did not put in an appearance
until 10 A.M., when, of course, the sun was already high in the heavens.

This added tremendously to my trials and tribulations, and was, in
fact, to a great extent the cause of my subsequent breakdown. By noon,
when the sun was directly overhead, it was so hot that the operator
was unable to bear to touch with his ungloved hand the brass work of
his machine.

How I got through the afternoon's work I don't know to this day. I
managed it somehow. There is a marvellous sustaining power in the mere
nervous tension of acting, and the click, click, click of the camera
helps to keep one tuned up as it were. But directly it was all over
I fell fainting on my camp bed in my hut, and the doctor had to be
called in. My feet were all cut and scarred, and full of thorns and
jiggers.[1] My legs, too, were pretty badly scratched and torn. And, to
crown all, I had got a "touch of the sun."

          [1] Also known as the chigoes and the sand-flea.

The next day I was in a high fever, and the day after that in a higher
one. Malaria had gripped me, and I really thought at one time that my
first African photo-play rehearsal was going to be my last one. Even
the doctor looked grave after the first week or so. "You have got
malarial fever," he explained, "and you have got it pretty badly. Your
spleen is about four times larger than it ought to be, and if you cough
it will probably burst."

As at that time I was troubled with an almost incessant cough, this
was not consoling. However, liberal doses of quinine, repeated at
frequent intervals, cured me at last, and in order to celebrate my
convalescence, as soon as I felt well enough I prepared a little dinner
with my own hands, and invited Baron Codelli and Major Schomburgk to my
hut to partake of it.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

REHEARSING FOR THE CINEMA

Another scene from the moving picture play "The White Goddess of the
Wangora." Note the intent look on the little black girl's face, and the
pleased expression on that of the authoress. The black lady on the left
is the head "super" amongst the native women at Kamina.]

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

PLAYING AN "INTERIOR" SCENE IN A NATIVE DRAMA

The authoress is reclining on a leopard-skin rug, and is supposed to be
sleeping, while a "slave-girl"--really a native "super"--fans her with
a feather fan. Taken at Kamina.]

I rather fancy myself as a cook, and I had prepared, as the _pièce de
résistance_, a couple of nice plump fowls. When the dish was uncovered
my guests glanced sharply at one another, turned very red, and
looked quite uncomfortable.

I could not make out what was the matter, and in my usual impetuous
way, I blurted out, plump and plain, the question that was uppermost in
my mind.

"Is there anything wrong with the chickens?"

This was too much for their gravity. Both the baron and Schomburgk
burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter, and the former ran to fetch
his diary.

"Look here," he said, pointing to one of the last entries, "I have
already, during the years I have spent in this benighted country, eaten
9863 chickens. Schomburgk has probably eaten _pro rata_ at least as
many"--the major nodded--"and now you give us two more _as a treat_! O
Lord!"

I joined in their laughter then. I had to. And, after all, my little
dinner passed off excellently well, for of course there were other
dishes. Meanwhile I had learnt one more African lesson. Never, _never_,
NEVER offer your guests chicken if there is anything else under the
sun obtainable by hook or by crook. Cheese and crackers, if you
like; or tinned salmon, or sardines, or even "bully" beef. But the
domestic fowl, regarded as more or less of a luxury in Europe, is in
Africa absolutely tabu. It is the one article of flesh diet that is
all-pervading everywhere out there, and which everybody consequently
soon heartily sickens of. As well might one offer a dish of salmon to
an Alaskan fisherman; or a ragout of mutton to an Australian boundary
rider.

Another lesson I learnt during my long and wearisome illness was
never to kill a lizard, the reason being that lizards eat insects, and
insects of innumerable and most diverse kinds constitute the principal
pests of equatorial Africa. The houses out there swarm with lizards,
and they are big ones too, fully eighteen inches or more in length.
Nobody dreams of interfering with them. On the contrary, they are
everywhere petted and made much of. One old fellow I got quite attached
to, and he to me. I always knew him from the others because he had only
three legs, having lost the other, probably in an encounter with one
of his kind. He was as good as a watch. I used to call him my tea-time
lizard, because he always put in an appearance precisely at four
o'clock every afternoon.

Schomburgk used to tell me that every lizard was responsible for
killing and eating I don't know how many hundreds--or was it
thousands?--of white ants daily. Very likely. But all the same the ants
did not seem to me to diminish perceptibly. The venomous and vicious
little pests swarmed everywhere in incredible numbers. Nothing seemed
to come amiss to them. Our operator declared that he once found a lot
of them trying to make a meal off a sixteen-pound cannon-ball that he
used as a make-weight to the tripod of his machine to prevent it being
blown or knocked over, but this I altogether decline to believe. He
must have been--well, mistaken. But I can vouch from bitter personal
experience that they will devour, in the course of a single night,
photographs hung on the walls, and boots left standing on the floor;
and once a detachment of them riddled so badly a strong wooden box in
which I kept my letters and papers that it fell to pieces in my hands.

Another troublesome insect pest was a kind of big wood-boring beetle,
that made its home chiefly in the beams of the roof. These he would
riddle so completely that sooner or later the thatch was practically
certain to come tumbling about one's ears. While in between whiles he
peppered the interior with sawdust from his carpentering operations to
such an extent that I was kept continually busy dusting and sweeping it
out.

Later, however, when we trekked further up-country right into the real
heart of the unexplored hinterland, I learnt that Africa held other
even worse insect pests than white ants and wood-boring beetles. But of
these more anon.



CHAPTER III

LIFE AT KAMINA


There seems to be no end to trouble when filming cinema plays in
equatorial Africa. No sooner had I recovered from my bout of malarial
fever than our leader and producer, Major Schomburgk, was stricken down
with it, and everything was at sixes and sevens once more.

However, I employed my interval of enforced leisure in making my
temporary home as comfortable as possible, and in getting acquainted
with the natives, and so managed to pass the time pleasantly and
profitably enough.

My nicest hours were those spent before my hut between four o'clock and
dark, after the day's work was done. Then I took my tea, and passed the
time of day with the women and girls who came with huge calabashes on
their heads to get water.

At first they used to hurry by shyly, with eyes downcast, and without
speaking. But I laughed and smiled at them, and by degrees, after
the first day or two, we became quite friendly. They were chiefly
interested in my needlework and my hair. Then one day a thunderstorm
broke suddenly while they were near, and I invited them into my hut
for shelter and set my gramophone playing. This delighted them
immensely, although for a long while they seemed to be more or less
frightened of it.

There are some sweet girls amongst them, and many of them are quite
modest in their demeanour, and well-behaved, although in the matter of
clothes, of course, they have not much to boast of. The young unmarried
girls are some of them quite pretty, with lithe graceful figures,
beautifully proportioned busts, and well-shaped arms and shoulders.

All of them have to work hard, however, and the existence of the
married women especially seemed to me to be one continuous round of
drudgery. In fact, the daily life of a native wife out here might
well serve the advanced suffragettes at home as a typical, "terrible
example" of what my sex has to put up with from "tyrant man."

She has to rise at dawn, sweep out the homestead, fetch water from the
river, often far away, do the scanty family washing, tread out the
corn, grind it to flour and make it into porridge, gather and prepare
for food various wild roots, herbs, and vegetables, cook the family
meals, wash and tend the children, and perform a hundred and one other
similar duties, while her lord and master is, for the most part,
quietly resting "in the shade of the sheltering palm."

Nevertheless, I am bound to say that the women do not appear to mind
it, but seem, on the contrary, to be quite happy and contented. And
indeed their lives compare very favourably on the whole with the lives
led by many married women of the lower classes in the great cities of
England, Germany, and elsewhere.

The native husband is, as a rule, of a good-natured and kindly
disposition, tolerant to a fault almost, and passionately fond of his
children. Domestic quarrels are rare, and "nagging" on the part of
the wife--that great source of strife amongst the lower classes in
Europe--is practically unknown in Africa. Then, again, if there are no
palaces in Togoland, there are likewise no slums. Everybody is well
housed, according to native standards, and they have plenty to eat. The
children especially are well looked after in this latter respect. There
is no "under feeding" of _them_, at all events, and a Togo mother would
probably regard as an insult any offer on the part of the State to
provide "free meals" for her offspring.

The worst class of natives to get along with are those who have been
brought continually into association with Europeans, and have acquired
thereby an exaggerated notion of their own importance. Our chief
interpreter, for instance, required at first a good deal of keeping in
his place, although his views on life and things in general used to
afford me considerable amusement.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

CINEMA ACTING IN THE WILDS

The authoress is here shown playing a part in a cinema drama, "The
White Goddess of the Wangora." The big trunk in the background is that
of a very large "cotton tree," regarded as sacred by the natives.
The small tree in the foreground, against which she is leaning, is a
pawpaw, valued for its refreshing fruit.]

One day, for instance, seeing me rather downcast--it was when I was
recovering from my illness--he surprised me by offering to sing to me.
I thanked him, and told him to get on with it, expecting to hear some
ordinary tuneless native ditty. Instead, he greatly astonished me by
singing, in a fairly passable voice, some very nice songs in German.

I complimented him, and asked him where he had learnt them. He said,
"At the Catholic Mission." Then he went on to inquire whether I had a
mother still living, and on my answering him in the affirmative, he
remarked: "I, too, have a mother, a dear good woman, and twenty-five
brothers and sisters."

I suppose I looked the astonishment I felt, for he hastened to add that
his father had five wives. "My father," he remarked, "is a fine big
man, with a good figure, and in Togo, if a man has a good figure, he
can get plenty of wives."

As my interpreter possessed what he called "a good figure," I asked him
if he had many wives. "Oh no," he replied, in quite an offended tone,
"I am a scientist, and I only have one wife."

"How scientist?" was my next question, spoken quite gravely.

"Well," he replied, "I understand German."

"And does your wife understand German too?" I inquired.

"Oh dear, no," he answered, "that is forbidden amongst us, because we
hold that it is not good for a woman to be educated."

"And why, pray?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "supposing I return home to-night and issue some
instructions to my wife, she would probably, assuming her to have been
educated, reply: 'Talk to yourself, my husband, not to me; you cannot
teach me anything; I am as clever as you are.' As it is, however, she
just obeys my instructions, and says nothing. It is better so."

I was inclined to laugh just at first at this example of negro
philosophy, when it suddenly struck me that I had listened to very
similar sentiments expressed by men in far more civilised communities.
"The girl I shall choose for my wife," I once overheard an eminent
lawyer remark, "will not be one of your new-fangled sort, all fads and
fancies, but one of the good old-fashioned kind, who will faithfully
minister to the comfort of my home and willingly share my bed."

London lawyer and Togo interpreter--there was scarcely a pin to
choose between them as regards their outlook on marital life and its
duties and obligations. Both cherished at bottom precisely the same
sentiments, and neither's ideal of femininity was one whit higher than
the other's.

I also had some differences with my cook. He demanded a lot of money
for "extras," and so forth, and the results were, as a rule, distinctly
disappointing. I was especially struck with the toughness and
tastelessness of the meat served at table, until I discovered, quite
by accident, that he was in the habit of making soup out of it for his
family and relations, we getting the solid--very much solid--residuum.
After that I insisted, much against his wish, in superintending his
culinary operations, with the result that we got good palatable food at
about one-half the cost.

My best servant, or at all events the one I liked best, was a young
girl of about fourteen or fifteen, who acted in our dramas, and was my
personal attendant between whiles. She was a really nice little lassie,
with no nonsense about her, and an excellent taste as regards the most
suitable native attire for me to wear in our various plays, and the
best way to drape and arrange it. She, too, was a bit of a philosopher
in her way, some of her remarks being exceedingly quaint, and yet
sensible.

Once, for instance, when I was attired in evening dress for a certain
social function I was attending, she started admiring my costume,
and on the spur of the moment I said to her: "How would you like to
wear clothes such as I am wearing?" Quick as a flash came the answer:
"Ma'am, what one can never own, one must not permit one's self to
like." There is a world of meaning in that little sentence--especially
for our sex--if one stops to weigh it carefully. Nor does it
necessarily apply only to dress, but to--well, other things.

Another use I made of my enforced leisure at this time was to learn
to cycle, this being by far the easiest way of getting about in
southern Togo, where the roads are fairly good. I had several spills,
for it must not be imagined that the Togoland roads, good though they
are judged by African standards, are in any way comparable with the
macadamised highways one cycles over at home. Still, I persevered, and
after a while I became a fairly proficient rider.

One advantage I had, and that was not being hampered in any way as
regards dress. One returns to nature in equatorial Africa. No tight
skirts, but riding-breeches, in which one can move about easily.
No high heels or wafer soles, but good strong boots that are alike
serviceable and comfortable. No waved hair, because the waves would not
remain in for even half an hour in this hot, damp atmosphere.

Of course we were all the while on the look-out for suitable subjects
and settings for our pictures. I rigged up a studio out of half a hut,
and we filmed many scenes of native life and customs. Amongst other
pictures we took was one showing the daily life and work of a native
woman, as set forth above. This was entirely my own idea, and when the
films came to be developed, and shown in London later on, this one
attracted a very great deal of attention indeed.

I found, however, that the native women and girls made far worse
subjects for the camera, taking them altogether, than did the men.
It was more difficult to get them to pose, or rather, to be strictly
accurate, they were always posing whenever the camera started clicking,
instead of going about their natural avocations in the ordinary way,
which was what I wanted them to do. Their silly giggling, too, used to
get on my nerves, and at times made me quite angry.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

THE AUTHORESS AND "BODYGUARD" OF TSCHAUDJO HORSEMEN

Miss Gehrts is in the foreground, mounted on her favourite horse,
"Nucki." She is really playing in a native drama for the cinema, and
her "bodyguard" consists of "supers" drawn from the tribe mentioned
above, who are noted for their fearless and splendid riding.]

There were other difficulties also as regards the mechanical part
of the business. Occasionally the heat was so great that it almost
sufficed to melt the films, or even to set fire to them; and they had
to be kept stored, therefore, in a special sort of cooling case, built
on the principal of the vacuum flask. Later on, when marching in the
far north through the Togoland Sudan, the cases containing the films
had themselves to be protected from the heat by being swathed in green
banana leaves.

On October 10th I saw wild monkeys for the first time. Near my hut is
a mealie field, and they came there at noon every day to eat their
dinners. They are queer little creatures, very cunning and amusing,
but very shy, so that it is difficult to get near them and study their
antics.

Once or twice I went to a native dance, but I must confess that I was
not greatly impressed. It amused me for ten minutes or so, but as the
movements are always the same I soon grew tired of watching them. And
the noise of the native drums is simply deafening, so much so that it
generally brought on a more or less severe attack of headache.

On the night of October the 15th I had quite a little adventure. It
was bright moonlight; I could not sleep, and at eleven o'clock, when
the whole place was hushed in slumber, I was seized with the desire
to climb to the top of one of the great steel towers that have been
erected here by Baron Codelli von Fahnenfeld in connection with the
Government wireless telegraphy station, mention of which has been made
in a previous chapter.

There are no fewer than nine of these towers, varying in height from
about 250 feet, up to about 400 feet, and with an enterprise born of
ignorance and inexperience I chose the tallest of them all for my
experiment. I thought how beautiful the African landscape would look
seen from the top under the light of the tropical moon, and started on
my long climb full of hope and enthusiasm. By the time I had reached
about a third of the way up, however, all my ambition had evaporated,
and I was glad to go slowly back again. I found the climb down even
more nerve-trying than the climb up--for one thing the stimulus had
departed--and I reached the ground in a state bordering on collapse.



CHAPTER IV

STARTING "ON TREK"


The first few days of November were spent in packing up our belongings
and making ready to start up-country away from the rail-head, and into
"the back of beyond," as Schomburgk put it.

The packing process interested me greatly; partly, I suppose, because
it gave my housewifely instincts full play. It was like making
preparations for a glorified picnic on a gigantic scale. Piles of
provender, pyramids of stores of all kinds, cumbered the camp, and it
fell to my lot to bring order out of chaos.

Necessaries and provisions for a five months' trip had to be packed,
and all the "chop boxes," as they are called out there, had to be
carefully marked and their contents scheduled. It was also necessary to
see that each box weighed precisely 60 lb., neither more nor less, this
being what each porter contracts to carry in Togo.

This was my work, and the motto given me for my guidance was "in every
box a little of everything." This obviated the bother of opening a
separate box for each article wanted on the march, one or two days'
supplies being carried in each box, and used as required, after which
the empty box could be discarded, and another one opened.

The most important single article amongst the host of stores was the
quinine. Over and over again I was urged to look carefully after this.
One can do without food in the bush, I was told; one can even do, for
a while at all events, without water; but to be without quinine spells
death.

Everybody takes it regularly out there, and quite as a matter of
course, the usual dose being thirty-five grains or thereabouts each
week. I took my little lot in two separate doses on Saturday and
Sunday, and I don't mind confessing that, in the words of the popular
ditty of the day, "I didn't want to do it." Only I had to. There was no
escape. Schomburgk and Hodgson, our operator, who were the only other
white people in the party at this stage of the journey, took theirs on
the instalment principle, five grains each evening. But I preferred the
other way.

At last everything was ready. Our one hundred carriers, collected and
sorted with elaborate care from a dozen or more different villages,
made a brave show. Altogether, with our personal staff, interpreters,
and so forth, we had a retinue of exactly 120 followers; a greater, I
reflected, than any I was ever likely to travel with in future, and
certainly far in excess of any that I had been honoured with in the
past.

On the evening of the 4th of November we entertained to dinner the good
Fathers of the Catholic Mission from Atakpame, who had shown us many
kindly courtesies during the time we had spent in their neighbourhood,
and on the 5th we said good-bye to Kamina, and started on our journey.

[Illustration:

  _Photo by_      _A. Mocsigay, Hamburg_

MAJOR HANS SCHOMBURGK

The leader and organiser of the expedition. During the last sixteen
years he has only spent about two years outside Africa.]

Our object was to film scenes and plays of native life amongst
absolutely virgin and unspoiled surroundings, and to this end we
intended to penetrate to the extremest northern confines of Togo, as
far at least as the borders of the French Sudan. As I have already
intimated, no white woman had ever travelled so far afield in this part
of Africa before, but we anticipated little difficulty or danger on
this account, the natives being reported as quite friendly everywhere
along our proposed line of route. Then, too, His Highness the Duke of
Mecklenburg, the governor of the colony, had very kindly instructed
all district commissioners and other Government officials to render
the expedition every assistance in their power; so that altogether we
looked forward to a pleasant, if possibly a somewhat strenuous trip.

The first stage of our journey was to a place called Sokode, seven
days' march, and up to this point there is a very fair road.
Consequently we had arranged to cycle so far, the major explaining that
we should have all the horseback riding we wanted later on.

Our first day's trek was to have been a very short one, only seven
miles, and so we did not start until four o'clock in the afternoon,
having sent on our carriers and instructed them where to wait for
us. But once again we had experience of the curious perversity of
the African native. Instead of covering a short seven-mile stage, as
ordered, they travelled a good fifteen before they condescended to call
a halt.

As a result darkness overtook us long before we overtook them, and I
had one or two rather nasty spills, reaching camp at last sore, shaken,
and bruised. Schomburgk was furious, but was obliged to dissemble
a good deal, as at this stage of the journey, with the carriers
comparatively close to their homes, any undue show of harshness or
temper might easily have resulted in stampeding the whole lot of them.

That night I spent on a camp bed in an old deserted straw hut. It was
not altogether uncomfortable, but I got little sleep. The carriers were
all round me in groups of messes, each with its own little fire, and
they were all the time mumbling and talking to one another.

The next day we made a short march, as the rest-house was only about
eight miles ahead. These rest-houses are strung out all along the
Kamina-Sokode road at distances about twenty miles apart, and each
marks the end of a stage. Our operator, Hodgson, should have picked
us up here. He had left Kamina the day after our departure, intending
to overtake us, but he passed us somehow, and cycled on to the next
rest-house.

Naturally we wondered what on earth had become of him, and were
beginning to get rather anxious when, about four o'clock in the
afternoon, a messenger arrived with news of his whereabouts, and
bearing a letter asking urgently for a supply of provisions to be sent
on to him, as he had nothing to eat where he was, and had tasted no
food all that day.

[Illustration: EUROPEAN REST HOUSE AT TSCHOPOWA

The enormous baobab tree on the right was the roosting-place of
innumerable bats, which were greedily eaten, after being killed and
spitted over a fire, by the native "boys" attached to the caravan.]

By degrees things began to settle down. I had charge of the
commissariat and cooking arrangements. The natives I found tractable
enough, but woefully deficient in their notions of cleanliness. Most of
them entertained the idea that the proper way to wash a plate or a
dish was to lick it all over thoroughly. In this way, they explained,
they not only cleansed it, but at the same time were able to get at
least a taste of the white man's "chop."

Water, they contended, was for drinking, not for washing things in.
Even to rub over a kitchen utensil with a wisp of dried grass seemed
to them a work of supererogation. Eventually I used to boil the water
myself in which the dishes were washed up--a necessary precaution
against dysentery--and superintend the washing-up operations from start
to finish. It was, I found, the only way.

I also had charge of the petty cash book, and used to make small
advances to the boys as occasion demanded. They had christened me "The
Puss," and applications for money became more frequent and insistent
than Schomburgk deemed consistent with good order and discipline. It
was, "Please, Puss, give me some pennies," "Me want one shilling,
please. Puss," and so on from morning till night.

The climax came on the evening of the second day, when we were about
twenty-five miles out from Kamina. Just as I was retiring for the
night, a letter was handed to me which purported to come from Messa,
our cook, and Alfred, our chief interpreter, but which was really, I
found out afterwards, inspired by the first-named individual, although
drawn up and signed by them both.

"Dear Puss," it ran, "cook and myself want advance. One pound please.
Or more. If not more, less would be good. Farther up in the bush
presently we no want one penny. This the last. So please not tell
master, because perhaps he make palaver. Good evening, dear Puss. We
salute you. Alfred and Messa."

Well, I made a bit of a palaver myself about it, for a sovereign seemed
a good round sum for a couple of natives to want all of a hurry, but
eventually, yielding to their urgent entreaties, I let them have it.
We broke camp next morning at three o'clock, so as to avoid marching
in the heat of the day. To my amazement and disgust the cook had
disappeared. So, too, had one of our bicycles. The chief interpreter,
on being interrogated, disclaimed all knowledge of the whereabouts
of the absent man. He had, he asserted, merely written the letter
to oblige Messa, and had no idea that he intended deserting, as he
apparently had done.

Here was a pretty go and no mistake. The major swore fluently; I
cried--profusely. Then we both got angry. He said it was all my fault.
"The idea of giving a nigger a whole sovereign advance!" I retorted
that he ought to have impressed upon me more carefully what mean,
underhand skunks niggers were.

Gloomily we marched to the next camp, and I could hear Schomburgk
grumbling to himself at intervals whenever I got near enough to him,
which was not often. "No cook! Whatever shall we do? And Messa was a
good cook. A better one I never had. And good cooks cannot be picked up
in the bush like paw-paws." And so on, and so on.

We marched eighteen miles that morning, the longest stage we had done
so far, then halted for breakfast.

"Sardines and crackers!" sneered Schomburgk.

"For gracious sake go away somewhere for half an hour," I retorted
hotly. "I'm going to run this chop."

He picked up his gun, and strolled off into the bush--grumbling. I set
to work to prepare breakfast. It was hard work to bring my self-imposed
task to a successful issue, for I had only the most rudimentary cooking
utensils, and an open fire.

By dint of much labour and perseverance, however, I managed in the end
to prepare a very decent dish of eggs and bacon, with hot rolls, and
strong steaming coffee. Schomburgk grunted approval when he came to
partake of it, and afterwards was quite genial, despite the affair of
the missing Messa. "Feed the brute!" I forget the name of the tactful
woman who first gave our sex that very excellent piece of advice, but
she knew what she was talking about. She had studied men, and to some
purpose.

An hour later our truant cook turned up. He explained that just prior
to starting on trek with us he had married a young wife, and having
regard to her attractiveness and inexperience he had, on mature
reflection, deemed it inadvisable to leave her behind. He had therefore
gone back to fetch her, borrowing the bicycle and the sovereign for
that purpose.

By dint of cross-examination I elicited that he had not left our
previous camp until midnight. He had therefore cycled twenty-five miles
to Kamina, and the same distance back again, plus the eighteen miles we
had marched that morning, or nearly seventy miles in all in rather less
than nine hours, a wonderful performance for a native, and on a native
road.

I asked him about his wife. "Oh," he replied, "she come presently. She
walking."

Sure enough she turned up that afternoon, having trudged the whole
distance from Kamina, forty-three miles. When I saw her I did not blame
Messa for not caring to leave her behind. She was as pretty a girl,
for a native, as I ever wish to see. Fourteen or fifteen years old,
probably, but quite fully developed and beautifully proportioned, with
a pair of roguish alluring eyes, and a face all smiles. She accompanied
us throughout the trip, and proved herself quite an acquisition.

As for Messa, we ought of course to have chided him severely. But, as
a matter of fact, we were so exceedingly glad to get him back again
that but little was said to him at the time. Later on, however, he was
taken pretty sternly to task, and warned that any similar breach of
discipline would in future be very seriously dealt with.



CHAPTER V

ATAKPAME TO SOKODE


I forgot to say that shortly after leaving Kamina, at a village called
Anâ, we were overtaken by another caravan convoying a European, a
certain Dr. Berger, who was travelling up-country as far as Sokode,
with a view to vaccinating the natives there.

The meeting came about in this wise. On arriving at Anâ, we discovered
that the rest-house there was already occupied by a Mr. Lange, an
engineer, who was building a bridge across the Anâ river.

He was away at work when we got there, and Schomburgk sent his
(Lange's) boy to tell him of our arrival. Presently Lange turned up,
looking rather perplexed, and not a little worried. The statement made
to him by his boy, it appeared, had been couched in the following
terms: "Master, two white men have arrived, and one of them looks like
a woman."

Lange had guessed from this the identity of our party, for he had known
Schomburgk during his previous trip, and had heard of his re-arrival in
the colony, and of my presence there with him. His worried appearance,
we found out, was due to the fact that he had practically run out of
provisions just then, and so was unable to show us the hospitality
he would have desired; and he was greatly relieved when we asked
him to be our guest during our stay at Anâ. I may add that this was
Schomburgk's invariable practice, and I have often heard him inveigh
against the thoughtlessness sometimes shown by a certain type of
globe-trotting European travellers in Africa in planting themselves
upon other Europeans, sometimes for days together, and eating up food
which is perhaps badly needed, and may be very difficult to replace.
Of course hospitality under such circumstances is never refused. It is
the unwritten law of the bush that white man shares with white man. But
all the same there are times when it works hardly on the individual who
does the sharing.

Well, luncheon was served and eaten, and we were enjoying our coffee
and cigarettes, when a new lot of carriers hove in sight.

"Hullo!" remarked Lange to Schomburgk, "this looks like a white man's
caravan"; and the two fell to discussing the foolishness of the
individual, whoever he might be, in travelling thus during the heat of
the day.

Presently the owner of the caravan, the Dr. Berger mentioned above,
turned up, looking very hot and tired. Of course we made him
welcome--it is wonderful how bush life makes one relish the advent of a
white stranger--and we spent a very pleasant time together during the
rest of the day.

He was the most even-tempered man as regards his dealings with the
natives that I have ever come across. Nothing that they did or said
seemed to disturb him in the least.

Curiously enough, although he was a Government official, he was
travelling unprovided with an interpreter; and he himself, of course,
understood no word of any of the native dialects.

When he wanted anything he simply asked his boy for it, addressing him
at considerable length and with much circumlocution in German. Now this
boy, whose name by the way was Joa, had been specially engaged by the
worthy doctor because he had represented himself to be a fluent German
scholar.

As a matter of fact, beyond a few phrases that he had learned to repeat
parrot-like, he knew nothing whatever of the language, and the result
of their joint efforts to make themselves understood was laughable
in the extreme, and was not rendered the less amusing owing to the
fact that the doctor would not allow our interpreter to intervene to
straighten out the verbal tangle. He wanted, he said, to train his boy
to understand German sufficiently well to minister to his wants.

As a result we nearly laughed ourselves into fits over scenes like the
following, repeated at intervals, and with variations, all through the
day.

"Joa," the doctor would say, "my friends would like a whisky and soda,
and I myself could do with a drop. A small modicum of alcohol, Joa,
after the day's march, certainly does no harm to a white man, and may
conceivably do him good. Therefore, Joa, you may bring us a syphon of
soda, please, together with a bottle of whisky"; and the doctor would
imitate in dumb show the process of drawing a cork out of a bottle.

"Yah!" Joa would say, his face all one broad grin; and off he would go
to his master's tent, to return presently with--a telescope.

"Now, Joa," the doctor would remark genially, "a telescope is a very
good thing in its way, but one cannot drink telescopes, Joa. What we
now want, Joa, is a whisky and soda, especially the soda." And he would
start to imitate the pressing down of the lever of a soda-water syphon.

A new light would then break on Joa's face. "Ah! Yah!" he would cry,
and trot off again, to reappear a minute or so later carrying with due
care and circumspection his master's double-barrelled rifle, loaded,
and at full-cock.

And so the pantomime would proceed, master and man both in the best
of tempers, until at last, perhaps at the fourth or fifth attempt,
perchance at the tenth or twelfth, the native would hit upon the right
article, either by accident, or by the slower process of elimination.

Whereupon the doctor would smile gravely yet pleasantly at us, as if in
mild reproof of our unseemly mirth, and remark: "There you are; with
time and patience one can achieve anything, even in Africa and with
African natives."

On the morning after this little episode we rose at three o'clock in
order to cover the next stage, as far as a place called Njamassila,
before the worst heat of the day began. This, I may say, was our usual
practice henceforward; as it is, indeed, that of all old seasoned
travellers in this part of the world.

The distance from Anâ to Njamassila is roughly about twenty miles, and
the road in places is not particularly smooth. It was too, of course,
quite dark when we started, so that altogether I was not particularly
sorry when Schomburgk decreed that I was to do the first part of the
journey in my hammock.

In this way I was carried about two-thirds of the stage. Then, when it
got light, I climbed out, mounted my bicycle, and rode the remainder
of the distance. It was rough going, and very cold at first, but I
persevered, rather reproaching myself for my earlier laziness. When,
however, I discovered on arriving at Njamassila that our doctor
friend had elected to be carried the whole of the way, I went to the
other extreme, shook hands with myself, metaphorically speaking, and
plumed myself mightily on my "wonderful" exhibition of hardihood and
endurance. "I intend to cycle the whole of the next stage," I told
Schomburgk.

Alas, my pride in this respect, and on this occasion, was of the kind
that goes before a fall. Whether or no it was due to my unwonted
exertions of the previous day--I had done a lot of running about on
foot besides the cycling--I cannot say, but the fact remains that when
we struck camp at 2.30 next morning I felt so weak and dizzy, as well
as stiff and sore, that I could hardly stand.

Under the circumstances there was nothing to do but to seek refuge
in my hammock once more, where, snuggled beneath many rugs and wraps
designed to keep out the cold night air, and lulled by the rhythmic
swaying of the conveyance, I promptly fell sound asleep.

It seemed to me that I had hardly closed my eyes more than a very few
minutes, when I was awakened by hearing Schomburgk angrily inquiring of
the hammock boys why they were standing idle, and whereabouts was I.
"Master," they replied, "she is inside asleep, and we feared you would
be angry did we wake her."

All this I heard dimly as in a dream between sleeping and waking.
Lazily I lay back, too comfortable even to raise myself on my elbow and
peer out; but I was beginning to wonder what was the reason for the
long delay, and how soon we were going to resume our journey, when the
sound of Schomburgk's voice, once more raised in protest, roused me
into instant and complete wakefulness.

It was me he addressed this time, and his words were as follows:

"Come, little lady; are you not going to get up?"

"But why should I get up?" I replied. "What time is it? Where are we?"

"It's eight o'clock," he answered, "and we are at Agbandi."

"What!" I screamed; and, pulling the curtains aside, I bounced out on
to the ground.

What I saw made me rub my eyes with amazement. Before me was a
new rest-house, and a village that I had never seen before, and
preparations for breakfast were, I could see, well under way. Only then
did I realise that I had slept right through the entire twenty-mile
stage from Njamassila to Agbandi.

[Illustration: REPRODUCED FROM CINEMATOGRAPH FILMS

1. A Konkombwa Giant

2. Paying Carriers in Salt

3. The Old King of Paratau dancing before the Camera

4. A live alarum clock. A cock which accompanied the expedition, and
roused them every morning

5. Boy Scouts]

In the afternoon, after the worst heat of the day was over, we strolled
down to the village. There was very little to see, however, and we were
on the point of returning to our camp, when there suddenly confronted
us from out of one of the huts the tallest and biggest man I have ever
seen, either in Africa or out of it. He stood over eight feet high,
and was very broad and immensely powerful, the muscles bulging out
under his skin like bosses of beaten bronze.

We would have liked to have filmed him, but unfortunately we did not
have our camera with us. Later on, however, we unearthed another giant,
of scarcely inferior size, and him we did succeed in photographing,
Schomburgk meanwhile standing beside him to show the contrast in size
and height, and lifting and displaying at intervals the big man's
various personal paraphernalia--his bow and arrows, his spear, and the
curious iron rattle which all the Togo natives carry, and concerning
which I shall have more to say presently.

Our next stage was from Agbandi to Blita, and at this latter place we
were met by a fresh lot of carriers, men of the Kabure tribe, who had
been sent down from Sokode to meet us. Our other carriers were sent
back to Atakpame.

The Kabures inhabit the Trans-Kara country, and are, as a rule, fine
strong men, but the lot we got were rather poor by comparison with the
Atakpame people. However, they carried our belongings to Sokode all
right, which was all we wanted of them.

They were absolutely the wildest-looking lot of natives I had yet
come in contact with. There were ninety of them altogether, and they
were all quite nude--not even a loin-cloth amongst the lot of them.
Their dialect, too, was quite different from anything I had heard up
till now. It sounded to my ears more uncouth and uncivilised, a mere
succession of grunts and gurgles.

Here, too, I realised for the first time that my personal appearance
might possibly inspire fear, or even disgust and aversion, for when
I went into the market-place in the afternoon to have a look round
as usual, the children fled screaming with terror, and even their
mothers looked askance at me. I did not mind the latter so much, for
I had already discovered that the women dwelling in these remote bush
villages were not always very pleasant companions to have in too
close proximity to one. They are apt to be--well, smelly. But I felt
really hurt at the attitude of their offspring, for I am very fond of
children, and they of me, as a rule, and in Kamina we had been great
chums together. But then in Kamina there were always white people
about, whereas I was the first white woman, at all events, that these
nude little ebony imps had ever set eyes on. Consequently, I suppose,
they regarded me as a sort of pale-faced bogey, to be avoided promptly,
and at all hazards.

I slept again in my hammock during our march from Blita to our next
halting-place at Djabotaure. This sounds a bit lazy, I must admit; but
then it has got to be borne in mind that this moist, hot West African
climate is exceedingly enervating, especially to a European woman, and
to an unacclimatised European woman at that. Spend an hour or so in
the Palm House at Kew Gardens, and you will get a faint idea of what
it is like. The least exertion during the daytime causes one to break
out into a profuse perspiration. Worse still, it seems to sap all one's
energy and vitality, so that one feels like a wet rag from morning
till night. To fight against it is well-nigh impossible. I used to go
to bed tired, and wake up more tired. After a while, however, these
symptoms entirely wore off, and I became quite strong and well, despite
the heat and the constant travelling. Truly the human machine is
marvellously adaptable.

It was at Djabotaure that I had quite a little adventure. I was taking
my usual afternoon stroll through the village, the men being out in
the bush shooting for the pot, when suddenly, from just outside, and
in the opposite direction from where I had entered it, there arose a
most terrific noise of tom-tomming, mingled with much shouting, the
clattering of rattles, and the trampling of horses.

I stood stock still in the middle of the village, not quite knowing
what else to do, and in a few minutes a group of five horsemen, looking
very fierce and wild, galloped up and halted before me, and these were
followed by others, who took up positions to right and left. Meanwhile,
our interpreter, who had put in an appearance for once just when he
was really wanted, had mutually introduced us, so to speak, and the
foremost horseman dismounted and greeted me with stately courtesy. I
was, he remarked, the first white woman he had ever seen; and having
seen me, he trusted that he would live to see many more. Not a bad
compliment for a nearly naked savage to pay one off-hand in the heart
of the African bush!

The newcomers were, the interpreter explained, a chief and his retinue
from a neighbouring village, and they had ridden into Djabotaure in
order to take part in the festivities that precede the great Mohammedan
fast of Ramadan.

This, as most people are aware, corresponds roughly to our Lent. It is
supposed to commemorate the first "revelation" received by Mohammed,
and during the entire four weeks that the fast lasts a strict Moslem
may not eat or drink, smoke or bathe, smell any perfume, or even
swallow his own spittle, till after sunset.

All this, however, is pure theory, so far as regards the Togo native
Mohammedans. They certainly celebrate the festivities which usher in
the fast with a tremendous enthusiasm--they kept us awake all night
with their singing and dancing--and they are equally enthusiastic over
the bairam festival which marks its close. But as regards the actual
fast itself, I could not see that it made any difference to them
whatever. They ate, drank, and smoked just as they always do; the real
truth, of course, being that these people are Mohammedans in name only.

The day following this affair we marched as far as Andasi, our next
halting-place, I still travelling in my hammock. I had not yet become
acclimatised, and was very weak and languid. For some reason, too, my
relays of hammock boys on this occasion proved themselves altogether
incompetent, a most unusual thing. They swung me from side to side,
tipped me this way and that, and only grinned idiotically when I
complained. It was like being out in a small boat in a gale, and I
really felt quite "sea-sick" during the last few miles.

The next morning we started at 3 A.M., in full moonlight, to cover
the last twenty miles to Sokode, which is one of the largest and
most important Government stations in this part of Togo. Wonderfully
beautiful are the moonlight nights in Africa, whether, as was the
case now, one is on a comparatively open road, or following one of the
native tracks that disclose, with each fresh twist and turn, some new
vista of silvery enchantment. The grey, mysterious bush takes on, under
such circumstances, a hitherto undreamt-of beauty. The many clumps of
tropical vegetation in the frequent open glades one encounters, stand
out clear-cut and still, looking like white metal trees fragilely
carved out of frosted aluminium.

At eight o'clock in the morning we reached a spot about four miles
from Sokode, where our horses were waiting for us in charge of a young
European, Mr. Kay H. Nebel. Up to this point I had travelled, after
quitting the rail-head, entirely by bicycle and hammock; now it was to
be principally horseback riding.

Mr. Nebel had been attached to Major Schomburgk's former expedition
in the capacity of staff artist, and had been left behind at Sokode
in charge of spare stores and equipment when Schomburgk had quitted
that place on June 1, 1913. I knew him fairly well, having met him in
Hamburg, where my home is.

It seemed passing strange to renew the acquaintance out here in the
African wilds. The sleek, well-groomed young fellow I remembered had
developed into a typical bushman. His face, neck, and arms were burnt
and blackened by the sun to a very deep mahogany colour. He wore a huge
cowboy hat, beneath which his long hair fell almost to his shoulders,
_à la_ Buffalo Bill. His flannel shirt was open at the throat. He
looked wonderfully picturesque, and also marvellously disreputable,
a sort of cross between a typical grand-opera brigand and a Western
American desperado, as depicted on the cinema films in New York and
London.

After mutual greetings and explanations we pitched a tent, made a
hurried toilet, and changed our clothes, in order to arrive somewhat
clean in Sokode, where we found awaiting us a welcome luncheon, the
outcome of kindly forethought and hospitality on the part of Mr.
Kuepers, the Government schoolmaster at the station.

At Sokode we remained resting during the heat of the day. After which
we struck off at right angles into the bush to a village called
Paratau, distant about four miles from Sokode.

Here it was our intention to make a rather prolonged stay, in order to
film a number of dramatic, and some ethnological scenes.



CHAPTER VI

IN THE CAPITAL OF TSCHAUDJOLAND


Paratau, where our camp was situated, is the residence of Uro Djabo,
the paramount chief of the important Tschaudjo tribe. Uro means "king,"
and it is indeed virtually as King of the Tschaudjo that Djabo is
recognised, and subsidised, by the German Government.

In Togo it is customary for white strangers to visit a really big chief
like this before proceeding to the Government rest-house, and although
I was very, very tired, West African etiquette had to be observed.

I found the Uro a most charming host, and although he was old and fat,
and his personal appearance, therefore, was not particularly imposing,
he managed somehow to convey the idea of dignity, and the power and
ability to command. He received us in great state, surrounded by a big
bodyguard of officials and personal attendants, conspicuous amongst
the former being his prime minister, Mama-Sugu, an exceedingly tall,
well-proportioned, and fine-looking man. In his turban he looked quite
young; in fact, I made a mental note of his age as probably about
thirty. Afterwards, however, he removed it, and I then saw that he was
grey-headed and partially bald. Probably he was about fifty, but this
estimate is, of course, only approximate, for natives keep no records
of their birthdays, and have only the most hazy notions, consequently,
as to how old they really are.

Governments are not remarkable for gratitude, but the German Government
has certainly good reason to be grateful to Uro Djabo, since it was
to his father and predecessor that it practically owes its possession
of Togoland. When the famous Dr. Kersting, the founder and pioneer of
northern Togo, first entered the country, he found it inhabited by many
distinct and warlike tribes, continually fighting with one another.

Following in a small way the example set by Cortez in Mexico, and by
Clive in India, he allied himself with the strongest and most warlike
of the lot, the Tschaudjo to wit, and he and the old Uro between them
practically subdued the whole country, and placed it under the German
flag.

In the course of our somewhat prolonged stay at Paratau I had several
chats with Uro Djabo, and he used to hold forth at length, through an
interpreter, of course, concerning the former power and greatness of
the Tschaudjo people. They were originally it appeared a conquering
tribe, like the Masai and the Zulus, and they swept down from the north
many years ago, devastating the country as they advanced. They came
riding on horses, and as these animals had never before been seen in
Togoland, the terror they inspired almost sufficed by itself to ensure
the defeat of the aboriginal owners of the soil.

Djabo also showed me over his "palace," a collection of circular huts
of various sizes, arranged in irregular zigzag fashion, and connected
by a wall. The principal hut, which was very much bigger and higher
than any of the others, contained the entrance-hall and stables, and
was surmounted by an ostrich egg, the emblem of royalty.

At the other extremity of the space enclosed by the huts and connecting
wall a crested crane was kept. Uro Djabo attached very great importance
to this bird. It was, I was informed, sacred; and anyone killing it,
or otherwise interfering with it, would be very severely punished. The
crane knew quite well that it was privileged, and it used to strut up
to the cooking-pots when the natives were at dinner, and help itself
to any choice morsel that took its fancy. Any ordinary bird acting
after this fashion would have promptly had its neck wrung, for hardly
anything upsets a West African native more than a liberty taken with
his food. But directly the crane appeared, they would all draw away
from their cooking-pot, and patiently wait until he had finished
helping himself before resuming their meal. I tried hard to get Uro
Djabo to tell me all about this bird, but he always avoided the
subject, and when I pressed him, he refused point-blank. Nor did anyone
else seem inclined to say anything about it, beyond telling me, in
awe-struck whispers, that it was the Uro's ju-ju.

Djabo, as I have already intimated, kept up considerable state for a
native. He was always accompanied by his band, mostly drum, with one
or two reed-like instruments; and by his prime minister, sword-bearer,
personal servants, and the like, all elaborately attired in Arab dress.
Thus, when one day we asked the old fellow to our house for afternoon
tea, he came with a retinue of about twenty followers, completely
filling the small compound. He was, however, a most democratic sort of
a king. When, for instance, he helped himself to a biscuit, he first
took a bite, then handed it round for everybody else to have a nibble
at it. When Schomburgk gave him a cigar, all his attendants smoked it
after him in turn, each taking two or three big whiffs before passing
it along to the next in waiting. I never saw a cigar smoked by so many
people, or last so short a while, for each native tried to draw into
his lungs as big a modicum of smoke as he possibly could, so that it
was burned away and done with in no time. Djabo meanwhile chatted and
joked with all and sundry. In fact, the only difference discernible
between the king and his subjects was that he sat in a chair, while the
others squatted on the ground.

Subsequent to this visit, Djabo received me alone in his palace, and
introduced me to his wives. I saw about twenty of them. Two or three
were young girls, and fairly presentable; but mostly they were old,
fat, and ugly. After the reception was over I complimented him, not
upon the beauty or intelligence of his wives, but on the fact of
his being able to afford so many of them, for this is West African
etiquette. "Oh," he replied lightly, "this is nothing. I have hundreds
more scattered up and down the country."

[Illustration: MARKET SCENE IN PARATAU

This is a typical small market, no permanent stone seats being used,
such as are seen, for example, in the big market at Bafilo.]

Among other presents that Djabo had received from the Government at
one time and another was a large and very substantial garden chair. It
was of extremely ordinary appearance, and quite out of keeping with
the surroundings of the African bush; but old Djabo was inordinately
proud of it, and even went to the length of keeping a chair-bearer,
whose sole duty it was to look after this one piece of furniture, and
to carry it about to wherever his master went. This was a source of
difficulty to us when we came to film his Majesty, for he would insist
on being photographed seated in it, a proceeding which, of course,
would have rendered the picture worthless from our point of view.
Eventually, however, after many palavers, and the present of a piece of
silk stuff, he consented to dispense with it for that one occasion.

There is a big native market at Paratau, and food is very cheap. Eggs,
for instance, can be bought at the rate of eight a penny. Lemons are
a farthing a dozen. A fine plump pigeon costs threepence. These sums
represent, of course, very much more to a native than they do to a
European; but even allowing for the difference in the value of money,
I came to the conclusion that the average Tschaudjo man or woman
could, if they choose, live far better at a much cheaper rate than can
the average labouring man of, say, England or Germany. Certainly the
majority of those I met appeared to be well fed and contented.

I have alluded elsewhere to the skilful riding of the Tschaudjo
horsemen, and one of the objects of our stay at Paratau was to film
them. In this we succeeded perfectly. In fact, I was myself immensely
pleased, and even surprised, at the faithful realism of the scene when
I came to see it afterwards in London on the screen. Everybody was
very much taken by the clever equestrian feats performed by the Arabs
at the International Horse Show at Olympia last year. But there were
only a few picked men. We were able to film a much greater number of
the genuine wild horsemen of the Sudan, and to film them, too, at home
among their native surroundings.

By the way I am frequently reminded here, as elsewhere, that I am
the first white woman to intrude her presence among these primitive
people. The women shrink from me, or look askance, and the children run
screaming in terror away from me. Once I got the interpreter to inquire
of one sweet little lassie of about nine or ten why she had run from
me. He brought the child before me, but for a long time she would not
say a word. She just stood still, with eyes downcast, and trembling in
every limb.

At length she looked quickly up, and shot a hard, swift question at the
interpreter.

"No! No! No!" was his reply. "Of course not. Stupid little one! Why do
you think such things?"

I asked him what the child had said. He answered that she had asked
whether, if she spoke the truth, I was going to flog her.

"Tell her," I said, "that, on the contrary, I will make her a present."

He translated my promise, whereupon the girl, after one quick
half-inquiring, half-doubting glance at me, rapped out something that
sounded short, solid, and authoritative, like the rat-a-tat-tat of a
door-knocker.

[Illustration: NATIVE BOYS AT PARATAU

They were rather shy at having their photographs taken, one even going
to the length of covering his face with his arm.]

Then it was the interpreter's turn to take refuge in silence. He
absolutely declined to translate what she had said, saying that it was
too dreadful, was quite unfit for me to hear, &c. &c.

"Very well," I said at last, "I will go and tell Major Schomburgk that
you refuse to perform your duties."

Whereupon the poor man, driven into a corner, blurted out the
message, running his words altogether in his confusion and
excitement. "The impudent little wench says," he rapped out, "that
shefearstolookuponyoubecauseyouaresougly."

I had to laugh. I simply could not help it. But my mirth had a
slight--a very slight--tinge of bitterness in it. To be told to my face
that I was ugly! And by this naked little ebony imp.

Well, men, I reflected, had not found me uncomely. And even from my own
sex--supremest test of all--I had listened to words of appreciation,
and even of admiration upon occasion. So I playfully pinched the cheek
of my little critic, and sent her away happy in the possession of a
gaudy-coloured silk handkerchief.

This incident broke the ice, so to speak, and soon I was on the best
of terms with practically the entire juvenile population of Paratau.
They discovered that I was not really an ogre, as they had imagined
at first. But I could not prevail upon them to admit that I possessed
any claim upon their admiration, whatever I might have upon their
gratitude. "Am I really and truly ugly?" I one day asked a little boy,
a dear little chum of mine. "Really and truly you are, dear Puss,"
he replied, with childish frankness. "But," he added in extenuation,
and as a balm perhaps for my wounded feelings, "you cannot help that.
The good God made you so, did he not? We cannot all be black and
beautiful."

Projecting my mind into theirs, and trying to think as they thought, I
have come to the conclusion that they regarded me much as a white child
regards a black golliwog--a something to be frightened of at first,
and yet cherished because of its strangeness and uncouthness. Only in
their case the golliwog was alive, and so all the more fearsome until
experience had shown them its harmlessness.

After spending about ten days in Paratau, I began to feel my health
breaking down. Our camp was pitched close to the old Government
station, and the site was by no means an ideal one. My hut, like
the others, was close, very stuffy, and almost unventilated. It had
no windows, and it was built of the usual wattle and daub, which is
all right when fairly fresh, but when old, as this was, it is apt to
give off a sickly, mouldy odour. Then, too, there were the smells
from the native village--anything but pleasant. While to crown all,
the entire place was surrounded by dense fields--you might almost
call them plantations--of guinea corn, fifteen to twenty feet high,
which effectually shut out any breath of air. Not, however, that this
mattered so very much; for the harmattan season had now set in, and
the hot, palpitating air was filled with an impalpable yellow dust,
like fog, so thick that one could look straight into the sun at mid-day
without hurting one's eyes.

One result was that I suffered from almost incessant headaches. Yet I
did not like to complain, for we were now in the middle of a new drama,
and I knew that Schomburgk had set his heart on completing it at as
early a date as possible. But sometimes, after rehearsing from seven
till eleven in the broiling heat, in cowboy dress, and with crowds of
perspiring niggers for supers, I felt that I must drop in my tracks
from sheer physical exhaustion.

The climax came one day when I had to enact the heroine in a scene
where Nebel, who was supposed to be a fugitive from justice, was
galloping away across the mountains, and I after him, followed by
twenty or thirty Tschaudjo horsemen. Nebel kept turning round in his
saddle and firing at me. The horsemen behind were emitting a series
of the most blood-curdling yells. And between them they frightened my
horse, so that it bolted, and headed straight for the brink of a fairly
high cliff, with a lot of rocks and broken ground at the bottom.

Greatly alarmed, I threw away my revolver, and using both hands, and
all my strength, I tried my hardest to pull up my frightened steed. He
was a grand horse, the best in Sokode, and he and I were great friends.
Ordinarily, I could do anything with him, but now he was simply mad
with terror, and I was entirely powerless to even check appreciably his
wild race towards what appeared to be certain death for both of us.

Nebel tried his best to stop him by grabbing at his bridle as we flew
past him, but the runaway swerved violently, nearly unseating me then
and there. The next instant he leapt wildly into the air over rocks and
boulders, and I gave myself up for lost.

As luck would have it, however, he alighted on almost the only patch
of moderately soft ground that there was anywhere in the vicinity. A
yard to the left, a yard to the right, were masses of jagged rocks, and
had he come down on these I should almost inevitably have been killed.
As it was he stumbled, recovered himself, stumbled again, and again
recovered, and then stood stock still, streaming with perspiration and
trembling in every limb.

I was, of course, riding astride; luckily for me. Had I been in a
side-saddle, I do not see how I could by any possibility have retained
my seat. As it was I was badly bruised and shaken, and this, coupled
with the shock to my nerves, so aggravated my previous indisposition
that I collapsed.

"I must go away, and at once," I told Schomburgk that evening, "or I
feel that I cannot recover."

To his credit be it said, Schomburgk was most sympathetic. He saw that
matters were serious, and although the hour was late, he sent a special
messenger to Sokode to tell the authorities there how things stood, and
to ask for their assistance. With a promptitude and kindness that I
can never forget, the German Government officials set to work at once,
collected a hundred carriers from their own working staff, and sent
them over to us the first thing in the morning, in order that we might
be able to start straight away for Aledjo-Kadara, the sanatorium of
Togo.

An hour later we had left our pretty but unhealthy camp at Paratau,
and were on the march for the highlands on which Aledjo stands--the
Switzerland of Togo as grateful invalids from the sweltering lowlands
have enthusiastically christened it.



CHAPTER VII

ALEDJO-KADARA--THE SWITZERLAND OF TOGO


The march from Paratau to Aledjo-Kadara, or Aledjo, as it is generally
called for short, was a very tedious one, and took us two days. One
reason for this was that the men so kindly provided for us by the
officials at Sokode were ordinary station labourers and not used to
carrying; consequently they made but slow progress.

I was carried all the way to our camp at Amaude by hammock, reaching
there at two o'clock, accompanied by Schomburgk as escort, but it was
getting dark before the rest of the caravan turned up, shepherded by
Nebel and Hodgson. They had had a terrible time with the men, and at
one period during the worst heat of the day they had almost given up
hope of accomplishing the stage at all. The poor fellows staggered in
under their loads in a terrible condition, some of them so utterly
collapsed that I could not bear to look at them. The baggage was
only got up at all, Nebel informed us, by requisitioning the help of
the natives--other than carriers--who accompanied the caravan in a
permanent capacity. Even the interpreters, and our personal boys, had
to take turns in carrying loads, greatly to their disgust, for these
people consider themselves to be on a higher plane altogether than the
porters. It was as if one should ask the office staff at, say, a big
contractor's place of business, to doff their black coats and white
shirts, and start in to shovel clay or carry bricks.

As for me, I felt more dead than alive on arrival. My head ached
terribly; not the ordinary headache of civilised climes, which if
painful is at least endurable, but a burning, throbbing, rending
torture, that seemed at times as if it would drive me to the verge
of insanity. The heat, the dust, and the added anxiety as to the
whereabouts of the caravan, made matters worse. There was no proper
rest-house; only a tumble-down hut, dirty and evil-smelling, into
which, however, I was glad to crawl and seek refuge from the blinding
glare outside. After a while I fell asleep, and awoke feeling much
better, but ravenously hungry. As, however, the carriers had not yet
arrived, there was no food available, and by the time they did turn up
I was nearly dead with hunger. This was not surprising, as I had had
nothing to eat for twelve solid hours, from six o'clock in the morning
until six o'clock at night. When the kitchen boxes did at last put in
an appearance, we lost no time. The cook was put upon his mettle, and
in rather less than a quarter of an hour we were doing full justice
to a glorious meal of delicious little Frankfort sausages, tinned
vegetables, and potatoes, washed down--this was an extra special
treat--by a bumper of champagne, which had been kept cool in bottle
by being wrapped in wet blankets. Afterwards I crawled into my hut,
wrapped myself in a horse-rug, and with a saddle for a pillow, I cried
myself to sleep. My last thoughts were, I remember, of a most doleful
character. I wished most fervently that I had never come to Africa; I
was quite sure that I was going to die out there in the wilds, and I
even contemplated seriously cancelling my contract and insisting on
returning to Europe.

Next morning, however, I awoke feeling very much better, and all the
dark misgivings of the night before were completely dispelled as soon
as I stepped out into the glorious air of the early African dawn. The
men, I discovered, had slept out in the open all night, it having been
too dark to see to pitch the tents when the last of the carriers with
the heavy baggage had straggled in, and the boys too utterly exhausted
into the bargain. They, however, like me, were feeling much better,
and we made a good start; I on horseback, as I felt that the exercise
in the open air was preferable to the stuffy hammock, and might help
towards my recovery.

Nor was I mistaken. We were now leaving the lowlands, and mounting
upwards, and ever upwards, by a winding serpentine mountain road, and
after the first few miles I could feel my health and strength coming
back almost with every yard we progressed. I was not destined to reach
Aledjo, however, without further mishap. Misfortunes, they say, seldom
come singly, and it was most certainly so on this occasion as regards
myself. Schomburgk and I had cantered on ahead of the caravan, and on
reaching a little native village we called a short halt, in order to
rest awhile and allow the carriers to come up. Our two horses were
tethered close together, and out of sheer devilment Schomburgk's horse
edged back behind mine and bit him on the tail. He lashed out with his
hind feet at his offending mate, and, fearing further trouble, I went
up to stroke him, and try to pacify him. Usually I could do anything
with him. He would follow me about the camp like a dog, whinnying for
sugar, and poking his soft nose about my shoulders and bosom. But on
this occasion no doubt he was angry and terrified, and the moment I
laid my hand on his flank he lashed out with both hind feet, kicking
me in the calf of the leg, and sending me flying head over heels clean
off the path and into the middle of a small corn patch. Half-stunned
and dazed, I tried to pick myself up, but found that I could not stand.
The pain in my injured leg was awful. I never experienced anything like
it in my life. Schomburgk and the others thought that it was broken,
and were naturally very much concerned, since it would have taken at
least a week to get a doctor up. They tried to get my riding-breeches
off, but I could not stand the agony, and had to beg of them to desist.
Meanwhile our boys stood round in a circle, muttering "Poor Pussy! Poor
little Pussy!" and showing in their black countenances the concern they
felt at my sufferings. I was greatly touched.

After about an hour the pain began to abate, and I was able to
endure the removal of my riding-breeches. Then, to my great relief,
I discovered that the limb was not fractured, but terribly bruised
and swollen. Luckily the horse was not shod, or one or more bones
would almost inevitably have been broken. The poor beast was not to
blame, and as showing how sorry he was for what he had done, I may
mention that for fully a week afterwards he would shrink away and
hang his head whenever I approached him. He seemed to know that he
had unwittingly caused me pain, and no doubt if he could have spoken
he would have told me how he had let fly on the spur of the moment,
without looking round, not knowing that it was me, but imagining it to
be the other horse, intent on inflicting further annoyance.

When we at length reached Aledjo, the boys, owing to our being
delayed by the above incident, had got there before us, and had begun
preparations for camping. Now we had heard on the way up that there
was a very nice, large dining-table in the Aledjo rest-house, and
as dining-tables in the African bush are rare luxuries, affording a
welcome change from the usual ricketty folding things carried in a
caravan, we naturally looked for it the first thing on our arrival. To
our surprise it was nowhere to be seen, and on inquiring we discovered
that it had been calmly annexed by Messa, our cook, who had carted
it over to his kitchen, and arranged all his pots and pans on it in
beautiful apple-pie order. He was greatly chagrined and annoyed at
having to submit to their being all dumped unceremoniously on the
ground, and the table returned to its proper place. We dined off it
later in state, and enjoyed an extra good meal owing to the thoughtful
kindness of the good fathers of the Aledjo Roman Catholic Mission,
who sent us over a supply of fresh vegetables, a treat which only a
prolonged course of tinned stuff enables one to appreciate fully.

The next day I felt as fit as a fiddle as regards my bodily health,
although my leg still pained me somewhat. It is simply marvellous the
difference a few thousand feet of elevation seem to make in equatorial
Africa. From out of the depths of a steaming cauldron, so to speak,
one is transported in the course of a few hours to a region where the
air seems as pure and bracing as that of, say, the Austrian Tyrol. Of
course it isn't. It is the force of contrast. If a European could be
transported straight from such a climate to that which prevails in the
dry season at Aledjo, he would probably laugh to scorn its claim to be
entitled the Switzerland of Togo. But to poor, jaded me, it was as the
very elixir of life itself.

And it is not the climate only. Aledjo itself is a beautiful place,
and beautifully situated on a lofty plateau nearly 3000 feet above
the level of the sea. Here Dr. Kersting has built for himself an
everlasting monument. Foreseeing how in time it would be needed,
he laid out the place as a health resort for Europeans, and built
beautiful roomy and airy rest-houses overlooking a wide expanse of
plain and mountain, the plain in front, the mountains behind.

These Aledjo rest-houses consist of a series of enormous round huts,
connected by covered corridors. All the rooms are very large, and have
big windows and doors, so that the fresh air can come in everywhere.
The dining-room especially is big enough for a circus to perform in.
And what delighted me perhaps more than all was that there were the
very finest set of stables for our horses that I had seen anywhere in
Africa.

In time Aledjo is bound to become a place of considerable importance.
Already there is in course of erection there a fine Catholic Mission
Station. I am not a Catholic myself, nor is Schomburgk, but
nevertheless we became great friends with the good fathers who were
there superintending the work. We dined together nearly every night,
and organised jointly some sports--target shooting and so forth--which
were very well attended.

We also utilised our stay here to film what afterwards proved to be
one of our very best dramas. We called it _The Outlaw of the Sudu
Mountains_, and in the beginning we merely intended to use the play
as a sort of setting for the beautiful scenery around Aledjo, much of
which is, as I have already intimated, grand beyond description. When,
for example, the harmattan is not in evidence, and the atmosphere is
consequently clear, one can see right away to the Bassari Mountains,
and the lofty outstanding peak of Mafakasa, meaning "Long Gun." At
night, too, when the moon is shining as only it does in the tropics,
the landscape takes on a new, mysterious beauty, on which I was never
tired of gazing. Other nights, when there was no moon, the grass
fires lit up the country for miles around, so that I thought I had
never seen anything so awe-inspiring and magnificent. These grass
fires are started by the natives at regular intervals during the dry
season, as otherwise the country would be covered with an altogether
too luxuriant vegetation. It is simply marvellous how quickly nature
repairs the ravages of the flames. After two or three days, new green
grass shoots up through the ash-covered soil, and clothes the whole
of the burnt areas with a beautiful carpet of verdure three or four
inches high, on which the antelope, and other small four-footed game,
feed greedily. The natives call this "the sweating of the country,"
a most expressive phrase. The flames did not as a rule sweep onward
with a wide front, but ate broad streets and roads, as it were, through
the bush; and we used to amuse ourselves after dinner of an evening
by making imaginary comparisons between these fiery thoroughfares and
places we knew. "There is the Strand," we would say, "and over there
the Unter den Linden. Yonder are the long-drawn-out lights of the
Thames Embankment, and that is the Boulevarde des Italiens. This is the
White City, that is Earl's Court, and so on." It was all very amusing,
and served to recall memories of home and friends, and of happy hours
spent in far different surroundings. Later on, I may add, when our
caravan had to make long detours to avoid these same grass fires, I
was not so greatly in love with them. Our horses, however, were not in
the least frightened of them, which was one comfort. They would even
gallop through some of the lesser ones, and seemed to have a perfectly
marvellous knack of finding openings in the advancing line of dancing
flames, through which they trotted unconcernedly. The reason for this
is, of course, that these African horses have been used to grass fires
all their lives. An animal fresh from Europe would probably go wild
with terror, if confronted with one for the first time.

We evolved the plot of the _Outlaw_ film practically on the spot, and
I have very good reason to remember it, for while playing in it I met
with yet another of those mishaps which seem to be inseparable from
the profession of cinema acting. Briefly the story of the play is as
follows. A white man is outlawed from amongst his fellows, and takes
to the bush, living as a native amongst the natives. Prowling about
one day in the vicinity of a settlement, he approaches a farmer's
homestead, and is ordered off by the farmer's wife--myself. Cursing
and threatening, he goes away to his lair in the hills, where he
has collected together a lot of black scalliwags, of whom he is the
self-elected chief. He sits apart on a knoll, brooding over the slight
that has been put upon him, and vowing revenge.

His chance comes sooner than he had anticipated. From his eerie in the
hills he sees me walking along a lonely path, decides to kidnap me,
and does so, carrying me, struggling wildly, to his lair, over steep
and dangerous mountain tracks. Part of the way led along the brink of
a precipice, where the foothold was extra precarious, but of course I
had to keep on struggling and squirming, as obviously a robust young
woman of two-and-twenty is not going to submit to be abducted in this
rough-and-ready fashion without making a fight for it.

[Illustration: REPRODUCED FROM CINEMATOGRAPH FILMS

1. Hair-dressing

2, 3. Baby's Bath

4. Better than the Tango. A curious bumping dance

5, 6. Scenes from "The White Goddess"]

It was this that was the cause of the accident. The camera man was
grinding away at his machine, and calling out "Capital! Capital! Keep
it up! Keep it up!" while Schomburgk sat a little way off on a rock
out of range and beamed approval. Everything, in short, was going
on first-rate, when suddenly Nebel, who was playing the part of the
outlaw, stumbled over a boulder that lay in his way. At the same moment
I, over-anxious perhaps to do perfect justice to the situation by
making it as realistic as possible, gave a more than usually energetic
wriggle. The result was that he lost his balance completely, and we
tumbled head over heels on the very brink of the precipice. As the
scene had been originally mapped out, he ought to have been carrying me
in his arms. But he had insisted that this was not the way an outlaw
would carry off a woman, and had hoisted me across his shoulder. As
a result, when he fell, I flew clear of him, and landed within less
than a foot of the edge of the cliff. Had I gone over, it goes without
saying that I should most certainly never have played in a cinema drama
again. As it was, I was cut and bleeding, and pretty badly bruised,
but my professional instinct caused me to ask almost automatically as
they picked me up, "What sort of a picture did it make?" As a matter of
fact, except that it did not show the depth of the precipice, it made a
very good one, for the operator had never ceased all the while turning
the handle of his machine. Nothing short of an earthquake, and a pretty
big earthquake at that, would, I am convinced, upset the equanimity of
a cinema photographer to the extent of making him stop grinding away at
his beloved camera.

Whether it was the effect of this little upset or not, I am unable to
say, but the fact remains that soon afterwards Nebel got homesick, and
gave out that he must return to Europe then and there. So, as we still
had to film one or two scenes in our _Odd Man Out_ drama, in which
we wanted him to act, we went to a place called Bafilo, only about
eight or nine miles from Aledjo, where we had previously decided to
act them. I might mention here that all the dramas we played in Togo
were entirely the work of Major Schomburgk, who wrote the scenarios,
produced them, and also acted in all of them. The germ idea of _The
White Goddess of the Wangora_, however, was given him by Mr. L. Dalton,
a young London journalist.

We had a tremendous reception at Bafilo, the Uro and all his people
turning out to do us honour. It was very flattering, no doubt, but
all the same I could not help wishing that they would not be quite so
demonstrative. The din was simply terrific, and the heat and the clouds
of dust together were well-nigh overpowering.

The station at Bafilo is perched on a plateau, with a sheer drop down
to the native town, which is a very large one; and here one night,
soon after our arrival, I was witness to a scene that at the time made
a deep impression on me. It was pitch dark, no moon, but millions on
millions of stars twinkling like points of fire out of a coal-black
sky. We were sitting on a sort of platform, which Dr. Kersting had had
built on the extreme edge of the plateau, jutting out over the valley.
The native village, or rather the cluster of native villages that
constitute Bafilo, lay beneath us, but for all that we could see or
hear of them they might have had no existence. Neither sight nor sound
came from the depths to indicate that hereabouts were the homes of many
thousands of people.

I had just commented upon this strange and altogether unusual
stillness, when there was borne upwards on the night air a curious,
almost uncanny, sort of rustling sound, like the sudden soughing among
trees of a newly-awakened wind, and which yet had something human about
it, as of a vast multitude bestirring itself uneasily. Then, all at
once, in every village for miles around, thousands of lighted torches
twinkled into being, and a chorus of delighted shouts burst from as
many savage throats.

It was the beginning of the festival of Bairam, the great Mohammedan
period of rejoicing which marks the end of the fast of Ramadam,
mentioned in a previous chapter. From what I heard and saw, I am
quite sure that the Bafilo people paid little or no attention to the
fast, but they certainly let themselves go on the festival. Many of
them threw the torches that they carried high in the air, so that
they resembled very much a flight of rockets. And they seemed to vie
with one another in running swiftly about with them all over the
place. Eventually they all converged at a level spot just outside the
principal village, where the half-burnt torches were thrown together
in a huge heap, making a very presentable bonfire. One has only to
remember that the Moslem festival of Bairam commemorates the offering
of Isaac by Abraham on Mount Moriah to appreciate the significance of
this bonfire. But of that these savages knew naught. It was to them
just an occasion for merry-making. Had they known of the word they
would doubtless have called it a "beano." All that night, at intervals
when I awoke, I heard the weird negro music, and the singing of men and
women. It sounded not unmusical--heard afar off.

We were kept very busy filming at Bafilo. First we played the scenes in
_Odd Man Out_ that I wrote about, so that Nebel could leave for home.
These occupied us off and on, and counting the preliminary rehearsals,
for about a week, from December 1st to 8th, on which latter date Nebel
left us, with many expressions of regret and best wishes on both
sides, to start on his journey down to the coast.

One incident of this drama caused us a good deal of amusement. Nebel,
acting the part of the brutal husband, had to throw a plate at my
native boy; and in order to get exactly the right expression we
decided not to tell him anything about it beforehand. The result was
eminently satisfactory from our point of view. Hodgson having been
previously warned to have his camera in readiness, Nebel pretended at
breakfast-time one morning to find fault with his porridge--served
purposely cold for the occasion--and seizing hold of the plate and
contents he hurled them at the boy, who was standing behind my chair.
I never saw a native so completely flabbergasted in my life. His whole
face, attitude, and manner expressed unbounded amazement, not unmixed
with fear. I take it that he imagined that Nebel had suddenly gone
mad. For perhaps half a minute he remained rooted to the spot. Then
he turned and ran as fast as his legs could carry him to the shelter
of the cook-house. Of course the nature of the incident was explained
to him later on, whereat he laughed heartily, quite entering into the
spirit of the joke.

After disposing of the _Odd Man Out_ drama, we started on some
industrial films, and these I found extremely interesting. Among
others we took, was a series showing the various processes in the
native cotton industry from start to finish. A great deal of cotton
is grown round about Bafilo, and the people are exceedingly clever in
cultivating it, preparing it, and making it up into garments.

First we filmed the cotton growing in little plots, or fields, which
the natives clear from time to time, in the midst of the virgin bush,
and where it was being tended and picked by the native girls. Then
we photographed one by one the various processes, such as ginning,
spinning by means of hand-worked spindles manipulated by the women,
dyeing, and so on, down to the final process of weaving the cloth on
the queer, old-fashioned native hand-looms, the pattern of which has
been handed down unchanged probably for thousands of years. These looms
are most curious, and likewise extremely primitive. The cloth can only
be woven on them in strips about four to five inches wide, and these
have afterwards to be laboriously sewn together by hand in order to
make of them whatever garment is required. The native tailors are,
however, marvellously expert with their needles, the stitches they put
in being so tiny, and so close together, and the thin strips of cloth
so evenly matched, that at a little distance the finished garment
appears as if it had been woven in one piece.

The ginning is done by hand, and mostly by the women and girls,
who tease it out very finely and quickly. In other parts of Togo,
however, I have seen the natives accomplish this same process even
more expeditiously by rolling it on a stone. The skeining is done by
boys. Men everywhere undertake the important work of weaving, with the
one exception that there exists at Bafilo a sort of class, or guild,
of women weavers. These, however, work on quite different principles,
and with altogether different looms, to those used by the men; and
the cloth, instead of being woven in narrow strips, is made all in one
piece, and of practically any width. It is a sort of primitive home
industry, occupying women in their spare time, and is carried on inside
their huts. When we wanted to film one of these women weavers at work,
we had to get her to bring her loom out from her hut, and set it up in
the open. I may add that these workers' guilds are common in Togo, not
only amongst women, but to an even greater degree amongst men. They are
very strict and conservative as regards the qualification for admission
to membership; and as regards their aims and objects, they correspond
in some respects to our European trade unions, while in other
directions they approximate very closely indeed to the caste system of
India.

[Illustration: BEADMAKING: A NATIVE INDUSTRY DISCOVERED BY THE AUTHOR

1. Ordinary palm nuts

2. Are cracked on a stone

3. The cracked shells are smoothed with water between two stones

4. Holes are drilled in the cracked and smoothed pieces

5. Then strung together

6. And the whole string made round and smoothed with the help of a
stone and mud and water

7. The bead belt is put on over the head

8. And worn as a hip ornament by the women]

The dyeing is also women's work, a beautiful dark blue colour being
obtained from a preparation of native indigo. Most interesting of all
from my point of view was the process of spinning. The hand-worked
spindles are merely hard round sticks, which are inserted through a
hole drilled in a flat disc--more rarely pear-shaped--of soft stone,
or of clay baked hard, the weight of which helps to keep the spindle
revolving, and also regulates its speed--performing, in fact, the
functions of the governor of a steam-engine. The women, who do all
the spinning, are marvellously expert with this exceedingly primitive
contrivance. Resting one end of the spindle in the hollow of a calabash
placed upon the ground, and sanding their fingers from time to time
so as to get a grip, they make it revolve evenly and rapidly, and
seemingly with little or no exertion. Sometimes one sees a woman
revolving the spindle on her knee. A white woman trying the experiment
would probably succeed in drilling a hole in her knee-cap, that is, if
she continued the experiment for any length of time, but the skin of a
native woman's knee is calloused by continual kneeling to almost the
consistency of bone. I have occasionally, too, seen a spinner of more
than ordinary dexterity throw the spindle away from her, and draw it
back by the thread, keeping it revolving in the air all the while.

Another industry which we filmed, and one which, so far as Schomburgk
could discover, is peculiar to the district, I can lay claim to be
the discoverer of. I was out one day after butterflies, when I came
unexpectedly on a number of girls busily engaged, by the banks of a
little stream, in grinding and polishing a number of small objects, the
exact nature of which I could not at first determine. Inquiry revealed
the fact that they were palm nuts, out of which they were manufacturing
artificial pearls to make up into waist-belts. By marshalling a bevy of
the girls together, and setting them to work, we were able to secure
a number of most interesting photographs of their unique industry,
showing the whole process, from the first cutting of the nuts, drilling
the holes, stringing the "pearls," and so on, down to the moment when
the native belle, broadly smiling her manifest delight, puts the
finished girdle round her ample waist.

I quite forgot to mention that while we were at Aledjo, Nebel went out
one day and shot a "dog monkey," otherwise a baboon. It was as big as
me, and looked so human that I could not bear to gaze upon it. In the
evening I inquired casually what had become of the carcase, and was
informed that our boys had cooked and eaten it. I shuddered. To me it
seemed only one remove from cannibalism. Another queer little animal we
shot here was called a rock-rabbit. It was exactly like a rabbit as to
the body, but its feet reminded me very much of an elephant's hoofs.



CHAPTER VIII

AMONG THE BAFILO FOLK


Besides the films mentioned in the last chapter, we also took advantage
of there being an unusually large market at Bafilo in order to
photograph a series of unique moving pictures of this side--a very
important one--of the natives' daily life. It was my business, as
well as Hodgson's and Schomburgk's, to be constantly on the look-out
for fresh scenes and incidents in this connection, and between us we
managed to secure a complete representative collection.

To mention but a few of them. In one film boys are seen bargaining for
supplies of native sweets, made from flour and wild honey. Payment for
these toothsome delicacies, it may be mentioned, is made in cowrie
shells, coined money being very rarely used. The value of these shells
varies, according to distance from the coast, difficulty of transport,
and so on, from about 2500 to the shilling up to as few as 1000. In
Bafilo, they were worth about sixpence a thousand. In another film
we showed a native barber shaving a baby's head, in accordance with
native custom. The baby was held tight in the mother's arms, during
the operation, which it did not seem to relish at all, for it kicked
and screamed the whole while. After it was over I asked the woman the
reason of the custom. "How else would you keep the lice from feeding on
its little scalp?" she asked in evident surprise. We also photographed
boys engaged in gambling for cowries at a curious kind of native game,
the equivalent, I suppose, to our pitch and toss. Only in Bafilo there
are no policemen to interfere with the urchins or mar their enjoyment.
The kind of dour puritanism that is so prevalent in England--and
in parts of Germany, too, for that matter--would find but little
encouragement among the Togo people. It was at Bafilo, too, that we
filmed a most curious native dance, performed entirely by women and the
principal feature of which consisted in violently bumping one another
with that portion of their anatomy on which boys are birched at school.
It was a most strange and mirth-provoking spectacle, but the women
take this particular dance very seriously, and will continue at it for
many hours at a stretch, encouraged by the loud yells of approval from
the spectators that invariably follow an extra hard bump, and by the
terrific tom-tomming of the native band. In yet another film, vultures
are seen acting as scavengers; while hard by warriors are engaged in
mimic sword-play. The manufacture of leather mats, an industry peculiar
to the place, was also filmed--together with basket-making from the
stalks of the palm leaf, which we photographed from start to finish.
The finished articles are sold for a sum approximating in value to one
farthing apiece.

There are many wild animals in the bush round Bafilo, but the hyenas
are the most trying. At Paratau we had heard these noisy brutes at a
distance, but here they came quite close up. Night after night, one's
rest was broken and disturbed by them. I used to get up and throw
empty bottles and things out of the window to drive them away, much as
one scares off the nocturnal domestic cat at home; but, though they
would slink off for a while, they always came back again. Some nights
were worse than others. I remember, on one occasion, there seemed to
be a regular pack of them prowling round the huts, and their fierce
howls sounded quite terrifying. Next morning, Hodgson, who slept in
a detached hut some distance away from those occupied by the other
members of our party, turned up at breakfast looking unusually pale
and hollow-eyed and, on inquiring, we found that he had been sitting
up all night with his revolver fearing an attack. Presently Nebel
put in an appearance--it was just before he left for Europe that the
affair happened--and remarked casually to Hodgson that he had been
unable to sleep for the noise, and had at one time been on the point of
coming round to his (Hodgson's) hut for a chat. "Good job for you, you
didn't," replied Hodgson, wearily. "I should most likely have shot you.
My nerves were in such a state that I am quite sure I should have let
drive at any living thing [only he didn't say _living_] that had come
to the door of my hut in the dark."

There were also numbers of scorpions about the place, and snakes,
although for a long time I did not see any of the latter. In fact, one
evening when we were sitting outside our hut on some stones, chatting
and enjoying the cool night air, I remarked generally to the men-folk
that I did not believe one half of the many snake yarns they were
in the habit of telling one another from time to time. "Here I have
been at this place for a whole week, and nary a snake," I remarked.
"I don't believe that there are any." Hardly were the words out of my
mouth, when one of the boys standing near darted forward to where I
was seated, and started lashing furiously with a stick at something on
the ground at my feet. It proved to be a puff-adder, one of the most
poisonous reptiles to be found in the whole of Africa, and its deadly
fangs were actually within a foot or so of my lightly covered ankles at
the very moment when I was deriding the existence in Bafilo of him or
any of his species.

Curiously enough, too, a somewhat similar incident occurred here in
connection with a leopard; and this also took place in the evening. The
men had been talking about these animals, and of how plentiful they
were, until their stories rather got on my nerves. "Oh, bother your
leopards," I cried. "I don't believe there is one within a hundred
miles." I spoke in jest of course, and looked towards Schomburgk
expecting him to laugh. Instead, he held up a warning hand, as if to
enjoin silence, while with the other he pointed to what looked to me
like a black shadow slinking slowly past where we were sitting, and
not more than five or six yards distant. "A leopard!" he whispered.
Hodgson and I both laughed, thinking he was joking, and that what we
had seen was probably nothing more dangerous or uncommon than a native
dog. We were sitting outside our hut as usual, and without a light, for
the night, though dark, was fine and warm. But Schomburgk was quite
sure, and he called up the native boys, who lit lamps, and there, sure
enough, clearly discernible even to my inexperienced eyes, in the
soft sand, was the spoor of a big, full-grown leopard. He must have
come our way from the village, climbed up on to the plateau, spotted
us, and slunk off between the huts, and so escaped. When we came back
from examining the spoor, Hodgson said to me, remembering our former
experience with the snake: "Well, you're a prophetess the wrong way
about; only say you don't believe in elephants, and I'll go and load my
gun."

From the 10th to the 13th of December, I suffered from a relapse of
fever, and had to lay up, but during the rest of the time, as I have
said before, we were kept pretty busy. There were seven horses to
look after, and I usually superintended their early morning toilet
myself, taking my coffee by the stables at six o'clock. Every afternoon
we went riding, and the mornings were devoted to acting, or filming
ethnological subjects. One thing, there was no lack of supers for our
dramatic scenes at Bafilo. Once, when we asked for fifty negroes, fully
a thousand turned up. Naturally they all wanted to be taken on, and the
noise and clamour they made was simply deafening.

One day a "woman palaver" caused considerable trouble. The word
"palaver," I may explain, stands for anything and everything in
West Africa. Originally it meant a talk, a formal conference or
conversation. Nowadays any happening in the least out of the common is
referred to as a palaver. If, for example, you go to buy a horse--that
is a "horse palaver." Does the cook spoil or steal your rations? There
follows a "cook palaver." And so on. Most frequent of all, however, are
the woman palavers, for my fair but frail sex was, I found, the cause
of fully as much trouble in Togo as it is generally credited with being
elsewhere. _Cherchez la femme._

This particular case began in this way. During the afternoon, while
the men were away shooting, a native came from the village to
complain that one of our soldiers--we had two as escort provided by
the Government--had decoyed away his daughter, a girl of fourteen or
fifteen. She had, he said, been sent to the market that morning to
buy provisions, and the "soldier" had met her, and induced her to go
away with him. I called the soldiers before me, and questioned them
jointly and severally, but they both denied most strenuously having
had anything to say to any girl, one of them adding, with a great show
of virtuous indignation, that he had a wife of his own in Sokode. This
latter assertion, however, though doubtless correct, did not greatly
impress me, because I had only the evening before come across him
canoodling one of the native women on the outskirts of the camp.

While I was trying to get at the bottom of the matter, Schomburgk
returned and, on my explaining to him what it was all about, he called
Alfred, our chief interpreter, and ordered him to translate the man's
story carefully, and word for word. This, however, Alfred seemed
either unwilling or unable to do, so we called in the aid of Mseu,
another interpreter, who understood the Bafilo dialect better than
Alfred did. Mseu heard what the man had to say, and translated it
sentence by sentence, adding voluntarily, after he had finished, that,
in his opinion, the man was a liar. I began to think so myself, for it
suddenly occurred to me that the two soldiers had been about the camp
practically all the morning, and could not, therefore, have been down
in Bafilo, philandering with native girls.

The man, however, insisted that what he said was correct, and that
his daughter was even now concealed in our camp, so we told him to go
with Mseu and see if he could find her. This he appeared unwilling to
do, and Mseu also, but Schomburgk insisted, and eventually they went
off together, to return presently with the girl. This, of course, was
a serious matter, as these sort of "women palavers" may easily lead
to grave bother with the natives. So we held a sort of informal Court
of Inquiry, and went thoroughly into the matter. In the end we found
that it was Mseu himself who had taken the girl away. Schomburgk fined
the delinquent ten shillings--a big sum to him--to be handed over as
compensation to the girl's father, and gave him the option of taking
a letter to the Government Commissioner at Sokode, or of suffering
personal chastisement at his hands there and then. He promptly chose
the latter alternative, and Schomburgk gave it to him soundly. He
yelled like a hyena, and screamed for mercy, to the huge delight of our
boys, for Mseu was always greatly interested and pleased when anybody
else got a hiding. Afterwards I took the girl aside, and gave her a
good talking to, but I am sorry to say it seemed to make very little
impression on her. To all my questions as to how she came to act in
such a wicked manner--for it transpired that she had gone away with
Mseu quite willingly--she would only reply in snappy monosyllables,
or by that forward and upward thrust of the chin which is everywhere
associated with sulky indifference. Once only did she show any sign of
interest or animation, and that was when I asked her if she had gone
with the man because she loved him. "Love him!" she cried indignantly.
"Indeed no. He is old and ugly. But--he gave me this." And she pointed
to a string of common white beads, value perhaps three-halfpence, which
she was wearing round her throat. Poor child! To her they were a rope
of rarest pearls, and for ropes of pearls, I reflected, European women,
dainty and well-educated and well-bred, have ere now been not unwilling
to barter their honour.

[Illustration: A HAUSA WOMAN

Note the curious helmet-like way of dressing her hair. This is only one
of many similar eccentric methods in vogue amongst these people.]

[Illustration: TSCHAUDJO GIRL FROM BAFILO

The Tschaudjo women are amongst the most modest and well-behaved of the
Togo peoples. This young lady took a lot of persuasion before she would
consent to pose for her photograph in public, but having done so she
put on her pleasantest and most engaging smile.]

It was at Bafilo that there also occurred another palaver, in which I
was more directly concerned. I was out riding one day, when a native
lad of about sixteen or seventeen started dancing and shouting in the
path in front of my horse. The more I expostulated with him, the worse
he went on, and I was afraid that he would frighten the horse, and
perhaps cause it to bolt. Luckily, Schomburgk rode up at the crucial
moment, and secured the offender, who proved to be drunk. We handed
him over to his chief, who was furious, and promptly ordered him
to be flogged. I waited till he was triced up, then interceded for
him, but I had the greatest difficulty in inducing the chief to forego
the punishment. I do not know whether the culprit was grateful to me
or no--gratitude being, to put it mildly, not a strong point in the
character of the African native--but he at all events ought to have
been, for a chief's flogging is no joke.

An endless source of interest to me during our stay in Bafilo were
the long strings of natives belonging to different tribes, Losso,
Lamantiné, etc., from the Kabre Mountains--semi-wild people, who were
travelling back to their far-off homes after going down to do their
tax-work at Sokode, or to labour for wages on the railway at Atakpame
and beyond. All these people were accompanied by their women to cook
their food, and both sexes were absolutely nude; not even a loin-cloth
amongst hundreds of them. Yet, somehow, after the first impression
wore off, one saw nothing to cavil at in it. Their black skins seemed
quite to do away with the impression of nudity, and their extremely
graceful movements, and modest carriage, made their nakedness seem
not only natural, but admirable. The women were especially modest in
their demeanour, and the younger girls were even painfully shy. If one
spoke to them in passing, one might get a swift shy smile in return,
accompanied by a sudden uplifting of the head for a fraction of a
second. But if one approached one of them in order to try to converse,
they seemed to be absolutely paralysed with fright. Like a startled
fawn, they would stand stock-still, and trembling all over, until one
was within a yard or so of them, then fly away like an arrow from a
bow. Numbers of them carried on their heads big bags filled with salt,
the ordinary currency of the Kabre country, and representing probably
the wages of the bread-winner for many months. On one occasion a young
girl thus loaded stumbled and fell right opposite my hut, the bag
burst, and some of the precious salt was spilled and wasted. I felt
sorry for her, and went in and got some of our own salt to give to her.
But directly I approached her with it, she fled like the wind, after
giving one startled scream. However, I went after her, and by the aid
of the interpreter I eventually succeeded in calming her fears, and
inducing her to accept my salt.

Another thing that amused me greatly, although I was chaffed about
it considerably by Schomburgk and the others! The son of the richest
native in Bafilo took it into his head to fall violently in love with
me. There was nothing offensive about his attentions. It was merely
a dumb, dog-like sort of devotion. He would sit for hours silently
watching me, would run to anticipate my wants, and was constantly
bringing me presents, and expecting nothing in return, a thing
absolutely foreign to native methods. Poor chap! I have a pretty little
table-cover of native workmanship spread upon the table at which I
write these words--his parting gift! I can see him now, the tears
streaming down his squat ebony face, as I turned in my saddle to wave
him a last farewell--a ludicrous sight, and yet somehow pathetic.

By the way, some of the native cloth-work at Bafilo is exceedingly
beautiful. I bought a number of specimens of it, among the best being
a handsome toga-like garment of hand-woven blue stuff, elaborately
embroidered, and which I am now wearing as an opera cloak in London,
where it has been greatly admired. It is woven in narrow strips about
two inches wide, and these are then sewn together by stitches so small,
even, and regular, that they are practically invisible. It cost me £3,
10s., a big sum out there, and to a native, but then it must be borne
in mind that one of these cloaks takes about a year to make.



CHAPTER IX

ON THE MARCH ONCE MORE


On December the 16th, at five o'clock in the morning, we left Bafilo,
where we had been since the first day of the month, and started on trek
again, bound for Dako and the north. On the road an incident occurred
that upset me greatly. A certain Dr. Engelhardt had died in Togo about
three weeks previously of some malignant malady of the fever type.
They--Schomburgk and the rest--had given me to understand that he died
at Sokode. Now it transpired that he had really died at Bafilo, and in
the very hut and on the identical spot where my bed had stood. They
had kept this from me, not wishing to alarm me. Now they thought it a
good joke to tell me, and were quite taken aback when I got exceedingly
angry. They pointed out that the hut had been thoroughly disinfected.
But I was not at all appeased. I said they were cold and callous, and
many other things, but they only laughed.

The distance from Bafilo to Dako is only a little over twelve miles,
yet it took us four hours or thereabouts to cover it, the reason
being that the road was so bad. It was all up hill and down dale, and
covered with big rocks and loose round stones. As a result, I was quite
shaken up and tired on arrival, and the sight of the clean and pretty
little rest-house was a welcome one. There was, however, I found, no
accommodation for our horses, and we had to tether them all together
under a big tree. We took our meals under another tree, and were very
comfortable and "picknicky."

Next day, on to Kabu. The going was even worse than on the previous
day. Indeed, I have never experienced anything like it, either before
or since. The road, a mere native track, crossed at right angles a
continual succession of mountain ridges, with narrow wooded valleys
in between, along which in the rainy season rapid streams flowed. To
ride down the steep sides of many of these valleys was a sheer physical
impossibility. We had to dismount again and again, and scramble down
as best we could. Even without their riders the poor horses had hard
work to keep their footing at times, and one of them nearly met with a
bad accident when crossing one river bed that was not yet wholly dry.
He had negotiated successfully the exceedingly steep slope down to the
river, and was in the act of crossing, when he somehow got his near
hindleg between the root of a big tree and the bank, and nearly broke
it. He was our best horse too, and my own for riding purposes, and I
was fearfully anxious about him until Schomburgk assured me, after
a careful and prolonged examination, that beyond a straining of the
tendons, there was no harm done.

As the day advanced it grew fearfully hot. I kept on asking how much
farther it was, and the answer from the interpreter hardly ever varied
between "Not far," and "Only half an hour." It turned out to be three
full hours from the last "only half an hour," the whole journey
occupying from 4 A.M. till 1.30 P.M., so that we were nine and a half
hours in the saddle without a break, barring the time that we were
climbing and slithering on foot up and down the sides of the valleys.
Even the horses felt the strain, and although I had two mounts, and
changed them frequently, they were both pretty well knocked up by the
time we reached our journey's end. Schomburgk, who knew beforehand
that the stage was likely to be a hard one--although even he did not
realise how hard--had strongly advised me, before setting out, to wear
my pith helmet. But I, with true feminine perversity, had insisted on
donning a big slouch hat of the cowboy type to which I was partial. I
realised my mistake when the sun was well up, but my pride would not
let me admit it. The last few miles were the worst. Only my thick hair,
I am convinced, saved me from sunstroke. Once or twice I reeled in the
saddle, almost overcome with weariness and the terrible heat. I got,
however, but scant sympathy from the men. Schomburgk especially was
most rough and unkind, and this was so unlike him, as a general rule,
that at length, after one or two half-hearted appeals for sympathy, I
got very angry, gritted my teeth, straightened myself in the saddle,
and made up my mind to go through with it come what would. Afterwards,
when we had camped and rested, he told me that he had acted of set
purpose. He had realised that I must be on the very verge of collapse,
and knew that if he could succeed in making me angry, I should
probably succeed in pulling myself together; while if he started to
condole with me, he feared that I might break down altogether. No doubt
he was right. Wholesome anger is a good tonic.

Anyhow, I managed somehow to hold out until our arrival at Kabu. Here
the chief's hut was placed at my disposal, there being no rest-house,
and throwing myself full length on the horse blanket and with my
saddle for a pillow, I slept soundly for a full hour. I woke greatly
refreshed, and ravenously hungry. Unfortunately there was no food
available, the carriers with the chop boxes not having yet arrived.
However, the negroes brought us some big calabashes full of native
beer. It was the first time I had ever tasted it, and I am bound to
say that I found it both refreshing and sustaining. This was lucky, as
we had nothing to eat until six o'clock that night. It is a fermented
drink made from guinea corn, and is, I was told, highly intoxicating
if one drinks enough of it. It has a peculiar sweetish sour taste, not
at all unpleasant. After my sleep, a wash, and supper, I felt none the
worse for our long march, notwithstanding that it was the worst and
longest one we ever did. Here for the first time I saw antelope spoor
all along the road, but no antelope were visible. We expect, however,
to meet plenty before long, as well as other game, for we are now in
the heart of wild Africa--no proper roads, only native tracks, and all
round us the shadeless, waterless bush.

Our next day's stage, to Bapure, was a short one. I felt unusually
fit and well, and the road being good rode nearly the whole way in a
canter. I forgot to say that after Sokode we got a different lot of
carriers at each stage; what are called out here "exchange carriers."
These are furnished by the chief of each village, on payment of course,
and each day a soldier of our escort was sent on ahead to arrange for
the proper number being forthcoming. There is practically no difficulty
about this so far as Togo is concerned, although in some other parts
of Africa, I was informed, things are very different. On the whole
trip we only once had any bother about carriers, but I shall come to
that later on. I may add that there are two sides to the exchange of
carriers. It has its advantages and its disadvantages. One of the
principal advantages is that with fresh people each day, one naturally
travels faster than with "stale" men. On the other hand, a nucleus of
old carriers is to be preferred, because they know the loads, and can
consequently pack up very much quicker. Coming up from Atakpame to
Sokode it usually took us no more than about half an hour to pack up in
the morning and get away, whereas now our exchange carriers take fully
three times as long.

At Bapure, we first came into contact with the Konkombwa, admitted by
everybody to be the finest race of savages in Togo. As, however, Bapure
is only a border village, the ones we saw here were not, for the most
part, pure bred; and nothing like such fine specimens, consequently,
as those we saw farther up country. For this reason I will defer my
description of them until later.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

A KONKOMBWA WARRIOR

He is not wearing a helmet, or a cap of some kind, as might be
supposed, but his own hair, into which is woven a number of little
rings of copper and brass.]

[Illustration: CAMPING OUT IN THE BUSH

The authoress is sitting outside her tent, busy at needlework. Note the
double awning, the bed with mosquito curtain, the portable washstand on
the right, and the chairs and tables all made to fold up into a small
compass. This photo was taken at Kugnau.]

We camped here under a big tree, the roosting place of innumerable tame
guinea-fowl, who greatly annoyed us by their incessant cackling. The
heat in the middle of the day was very excessive, and in order to get
the maximum of fresh air and the minimum of sunshine, we adopted the
expedient of detaching the outer canvas roofs over our tents, and using
them as awnings. It was surprising what a difference it made. Beneath
this awning, and still further sheltered from the sun's glare by the
thick branches of a big tree, I enjoyed my siesta in perfect comfort
and comparative coolness, whereas when I remained cooped up in the
tent, I found it usually impossible to obtain any sleep whatever during
the daytime. The fact of the matter is that a tent in the tropics is
not at all a desirable kind of dwelling-place. It looks cool, and it
sounds cool, but it isn't anything of the kind. On the contrary, its
interior is almost always stiflingly hot.

Whilst we were waiting here for our carriers to come up, I was greatly
amused by the antics of two travelling coast natives who unexpectedly
put in an appearance. They were "beautifully" dressed in what they, no
doubt, considered the latest European styles; broad-brimmed straw hats,
short tight trousers, and cut-away coats. As soon as they saw us they
came swaggering over to where we were seated. Said Schomburgk: "Where
do you come from?" "From the coast," they replied. Said Schomburgk:
"You look it." That was all. But it was enough. The two "culled
gentlemen" beat a quick retreat, and for the rest of their stay they
left us severely alone; which was precisely what we wanted. They had
two carriers for their belongings, and later on we saw them seated
back to back on their boxes in the middle of the village street, each
reading a book, while a crowd of gaping bush negroes stood round,
evidently greatly impressed, and very much amazed at so marvellous a
display of erudition on the part of men of their own race and colour.
Of course it was all done for effect.

Although the days in this part of the Togoland Sudan are frequently
fearfully sultry, the heat radiates quickly in the thin dry air at
this season of the year, and the nights, consequently, are apt to be
chilly. On the morning when we left Bapure, for instance, at 5 A.M.,
it was quite cold, so that my teeth chattered as I dressed myself. A
quick short canter, however, soon put the blood into circulation. The
first part of our journey was along a picturesque native path, just
wide enough to allow two people to ride abreast, and bordered on either
side by open bush country. About half-way between Bapure and our next
halting-place at Gerin-Kuka, however, we crossed a river, the Dakpe,
which forms the boundary between the Sokode and the Mangu districts,
and immediately found ourselves on a broad, well-kept Government
road. I didn't like it at all. The tortuous native tracks, winding in
and out, may not be so good for quick or easy travelling, but they
possess the charm of the unknown. When riding along them, one is always
wondering what new scenery the next turn will disclose. But this wide
straight highway where one could see miles ahead. Bah! There was no
more romance or element of uncertainty about it, than there is about
Rotten Row.

However, I was soon to be reminded that, road or no road, I was not
anywhere in Europe, but in the heart of savage Africa. We had arrived
within a mile or two of Gerin-Kuka, when there suddenly sounded ahead
of us a most terrific din, and presently there came in sight an immense
crowd of Konkombwa people, who advanced towards us leaping and yelling,
and brandishing in the air long bows and barbed arrows--the latter, I
was informed, poisoned. It was a most imposing, barbaric sight. The
savages, all nude, or nearly so, kept up a chorus of yells, a series
of long-drawn and sonorous "ha-ha-has," threw their bows into the air,
and dexterously caught them again. And all the while they were dancing
and capering, and making swift, short darts forward, as if bent on
attacking us.

I confess to having been a wee bit frightened at first, until
Schomburgk assured me that this was merely their way of saluting an
honoured guest, and that the honoured guest on this occasion was
myself, the first white woman who had ever adventured herself within
the confines of their country. I can quite understand, however, what a
welcome of this description might easily be misunderstood, and possibly
lead to complications, as it has, in point of fact, upon occasions,
and this not only amongst the Konkombwa, but amongst other more or
less kindred people, whose customs in this respect are practically
identical. In this connection Schomburgk mentioned an incident that
came within his own personal knowledge. It happened some years ago, in
what is now the north-western corner of Rhodesia, in the bend of the
Kafue River. Here a traveller, who shall be nameless, first came into
contact with the Mashukulumbwe. This traveller had heard a lot about
the fighting prowess of the Mashukulumbwe, in just the same way as I
had heard a lot about the fighting prowess of the Konkombwa, and when
they came out to greet him, as the Konkombwa came out to greet us, he,
like me, grew frightened, and fired and killed one of them. The poor
savages, utterly at a loss to understand in what way they had offended,
went in a body to the District Commissioner to complain of the outrage,
and to ask for redress and compensation. They got what they asked,
the money payment they received being afterwards recovered from the
traveller, who was severely called over the coals for his share in the
matter.

[Illustration: YOUNG KONKOMBWA WARRIOR

These people are an ethnological puzzle. No one knows their origin, and
their history is practically non-existent. As regards their appearance,
dress, tribal customs, and so forth, they are utterly unlike the other
Togoland natives.]

[Illustration: A KONKOMBWA DANDY

The helmet-like head-dress is ornamented with cowrie shells, as is also
the quiver in which he carries his poisoned arrows. This kind of shell
ornamentation is peculiar to these people, who have brought it to a
high pitch of perfection.]

This was the first time I had ever met any real full-blooded Konkombwa,
and I was greatly struck with their appearance. Tall, splendidly
proportioned, and of fierce and warlike aspect, they carried themselves
with a grace and dignity one could not help admiring. They were great
dandies, too, for although they wore no clothes to speak of, many of
them had little copper plates woven into their woolly hair, or had
their heads surmounted with curious helmet-like head-dresses of cowrie
shells, topped by antelope horns. The quivers in which they carried
their sheaves of poisoned arrows, too, were beautifully designed and
ornamented; and round their arms, from wrist to shoulder in some cases,
they wore bracelets of brass and copper alternating. These were kept
brightly polished, and glistened in the sun as they moved, making
an extremely effective picture. So I rode into Gerin-Kuka in state,
surrounded by my savage escort, dancing, shouting, and leaping. The
noise made my horse exceedingly restive, and I began to fear that I
might be unable to control him, so that I was very glad when, after
we reached the confines of the village, they suddenly with one accord
stopped shouting, and began to sing, a low, melodious, yet barbaric
chant, altogether different from any native singing I had ever heard
before. The interpreter explained that it was a song specially composed
in my honour, and in which I was told that I was more fair than the
moon, brighter than the sun, and more graceful and beautiful than a
roan antelope.

The rest-house at Gerin-Kuka is very large and comfortable, and
beautifully clean. It is square, not round, as is usual with the
Togo rest-houses, and this in itself was a change. We were its first
occupants, which accounted perhaps for its being so altogether
spick-and-span; although as a matter of fact the rest-houses all over
Togoland are invariably kept in first-rate order. Only white people
are allowed to occupy them, and it is the duty of the chiefs of the
different villages where they are situated, to keep them clean. It
must not be imagined, however, that it is only the white travellers
whose convenience is studied by the Government in this respect. In
the neighbourhood of each of the rest-houses for Europeans, there has
also been built a compound for natives. Many of these compounds are
quite imposing-looking places, being, in fact, self-contained villages,
comprising often as many as fifty or sixty round huts, each of which
affords accommodation for a native family. The entire compound is
called a "songu," and is in charge of a native official called the
"sery-chi-songu" (I won't vouch for the spelling), whose duty it is
to keep it clean and tidy, and to see that the occupants of the huts
sweep them out before they leave in the morning for the next stage of
their journey. This sweeping out process, I may mention, is by no means
perfunctory, for the Government insists on cleanliness in regard to the
native rest-houses, as well as in regard to those used by the whites.
But it is not by any means an ordeal. There are no brooms provided,
but the natives soon improvise one from the branches of the nearest
tree, the work--as usual--falling upon the women, when there are any
in the party. One penny a day is charged for the use of a hut, the
money being collected by the man in charge of the compound. No party
is allowed to remain beyond a certain time--usually three days--at any
one rest-house, except in case of sickness. One result of the provision
of these compounds, and of the roads the Government have caused to be
built, is that there has grown up quite a regular system of travel to
and fro between the rail-head at Atakpame, and other parts of Togo, and
not only are the roads and rest-houses used by the Togoland natives,
but those from the northern parts of the British possessions on the one
side, and the French possessions on the other, also come down through
Togo to the coast, when they wish to make the journey, in order to
avail themselves of the facilities provided.

It was outside the Gerin-Kuka rest-house, by the way, that I first paid
our carriers in salt, the currency in general vogue throughout the
Mangu district, where we now are. Each carrier received two cupfuls
of salt for his day's work. Schomburgk saw nothing extraordinary in
this, and rather pooh-poohed the idea when I suggested cinemaing the
incident. He consented, however; and afterwards, when we came to show
the films in London, this one created quite a lot of interest. People
seemed to find it strange that natives could be found willing to carry
heavy loads all day in the broiling sun for what was, from their point
of view, so altogether inadequate a remuneration.

In the afternoon, the Konkombwa, not content with their magnificent
reception in the morning, gave a grand dance in my honour. Afterwards,
Schomburgk went out into the bush to look for antelope. He had
previously told me that he would not be gone more than about an hour or
so, and when darkness came on, and he had not returned, I grew alarmed
for his safety, remembering how easy a matter it is to lose one's way
in the African bush. Hodgson kept trying to reassure me, saying that it
was quite certain that so old and experienced an African traveller as
Schomburgk was would not get bushed. As, however, he had not returned
by eight o'clock, I ordered out the soldiers to look for him, and fired
several revolver shots to guide him in our direction in case he was
anywhere within hearing. I also sent natives out with lanterns, and
soon the bush all round Gerin-Kuka was alive with twinkling points
of fire. At nine o'clock the truant turned up. He had, he explained,
struck some fairly fresh antelope spoor, and, urged on by the ardour of
the chase, had gone further afield than he had at first intended. As
is the way with men the world over, he was not a bit grateful to me
for my thoughtful solicitude. On the contrary, he growled and grumbled,
saying that the lights of the lanterns had dazzled and confused him,
and so caused him to be even longer on the way than he otherwise would
have been; also that all the unnecessary hubbub and excitement had
made him look foolish in the eyes of the natives. "I am quite capable
of looking after my own safety, thank you," he snapped in conclusion;
to which I icily retorted that if he thought it was his safety I was
anxious about he was mightily mistaken, my only reason for acting as I
had done being that I had no ambition to be left stranded alone with
a leaderless caravan in the heart of the African wilds. It is perhaps
unnecessary to add that after this little passage of arms we parted on
not the best of terms that night.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_              _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

A WOMAN'S WORK

Five phases of a native woman's life are given here. She brings in the
firewood and the water, does the cooking, and attends generally to
domestic duties and family cares, whilst her lord and master passes the
time in pleasant oblivion under a tree.

_Reproduced from Cinematograph Films._]

Next morning he was all smiles and kindly courtesy, and as I showed by
my manner that I had forgiven his boorishness of the previous night,
we made a first-rate start. We are now bound for Sansane-Mangu, the
northernmost Government station in Togo, by way of Kadjamba and Nali,
and are in the heart of the Togoland Sudan. The days are intensely
hot, and the nights seem to get colder and colder. This morning, for
instance, the frost lay thick on the ground, so that we shivered under
our thick wraps. These extremes of temperature are very trying. For at
least nine out of the twelve hours of sunshine that one gets in these
latitudes, the sun pours down scorching rays from a cloudless sky upon
sandy plain and mountain rock, and the whole landscape shimmers and
glows like the mouth of the furnace; but with the coming of night a
sudden chill seems to fall from the stars, the heat radiates rapidly
into space, and the mercury in the thermometer drops often as many as
forty or fifty degrees in hardly more than as many minutes. Of course
the above applies to the dry season only.

On leaving Gerin-Kuka we did not take the main road, but branched off
into a side-path which it is only possible to use in the dry season.
After riding a few miles, Schomburgk stopped his horse, and, stooping
down, called my attention to a small round depression, or hole, in
the hard clay soil. It looked for all the world as if some one had
jabbed the bottom of a bucket deep down into the clay when it was
soft, and that the indentation so made there had then been left to
harden. I looked at it, as he bade me; but I did not see anything very
remarkable about it, and I said so. "Perhaps not," replied Schomburgk.
"Nevertheless, it happens to be an elephant's spoor, the first you have
ever set eyes on." Of course my interest was aroused at once, and I
dismounted in order to examine it more closely. Schomburgk explained
that it was an old spoor from the last rainy season. I thought the
footprint an enormous one, but Schomburgk said that it was made by
quite a small elephant. We followed up the spoor for some little
distance, and I received my first lesson in wood-craft, Schomburgk
pointing out to me where the beast had stopped to feed, breaking off
the branches and uprooting a number of small trees, and where he had
stopped to rest for a while. In the rainy season all this part of the
country is under water and impassable, and the elephants then come
here to feed from the mountain country of the north-east, and from the
Kara River region, where, in the "gallery forests," as they are called,
there are elephants all the year round. Later on, during the next day's
march, we struck this same Kara River, and I saw spoor of hippopotami
and buffalo. We also encountered immense flocks of guinea-fowl. The
flesh of these birds is eatable, but tough.

Kadjamba we found to be quite a small village. We could not even get
carriers to take us on to Nali, the next stage, but had to keep those
we had brought from Gerin-Kuka. There was only a small rest-house, and
I slept under my tent, being badly bitten by mosquitoes, which swarmed
about the place in countless myriads. Amongst them were numbers of
anophele, the carriers of the malarial fever microbe. Only the female
anophele stings, and she has got to be herself previously infected by
the fever germ before she can convey infection to the person bitten.
Consequently, anopheles inhabiting densely populated regions are far
more dangerous than those found in comparatively deserted ones, such
as we were now in. In and around the big villages practically every
anophele is a germ carrier, and capable of breeding infection, while
those breeding out in the bush are comparatively innocuous.

Next day we started at 6 A.M. as usual, and after an hour and a half's
ride we reached and crossed the great river Kara, our horses going in
up to their saddle-flaps. This river drains the Kabre Mountains, and is
one of the main tributaries of the Oti, the big river of Northern Togo,
and which is itself in its turn a tributary of another and yet bigger
river called the Volta, which forms the boundary between the British
and German territory. In the dry season, which is of course now, the
Kara is only about 100 yards wide and comparatively shallow, with a
slow, sluggish stream; but in the wet season it is, I was informed,
fully 500 yards wide, and so deep and swift as to be quite unfordable.

The Konkombwa country, in which we now are, differs from the Tschaudjo
country in many respects, and especially as regards the number and
extent of the villages. The Konkombwa live in little homesteads of two
or three huts, distributed thickly but unevenly all over the country,
the reason being that these people are in the main agriculturists,
getting their living from the soil. The Tschaudjo, on the contrary,
are traders and warriors, caring little for agriculture, and so in the
course of ages they have come to concentrate together more and more.
Paratau, which may be described as the capital of Tschaudjoland, has a
population of several thousand souls, and Bafilo is even bigger.

Two hours after crossing the Kara we rode into Nali, where the chief
had laid out all his "presents" under a big tree. The collection made a
goodly show; quite a lot of flour, some unground corn, many chickens,
and a big pile of eggs. In return we gave him brass, tobacco, and salt,
and he retired highly pleased. Later in the day Schomburgk and Hodgson
went out shooting, and the latter returned greatly excited. He had
seen a school of hippos for the first time. His jubilation, however,
over the incident, was greatly marred by the fact of his rifle having
jammed in a most extraordinary manner when he was making ready to let
drive at them. He had it already loaded at the time with a cartridge
carrying a soft-nose bullet for shooting antelope, and pulled the lever
in order to extract it, with a view to reload with one carrying a solid
bullet. But the case came away, leaving the bullet in the barrel, and
as he had no ramrod his rifle was put altogether out of action for the
time being. There were five or six hippos in the school, and for days
afterwards, Hodgson did not cease to lament having been unable to bag
at least one of them.

From Nali we rode on in the morning for about ten miles, then camped on
the open veldt. There was no rest-house available, of course, and we
put up our tents. The next day, December 23rd, we struck camp at six as
usual, and after an hour and a half's ride we reached the Oti River.
Here we halted, had breakfast, and tidied ourselves as best we could
for our entry into Sansane-Mangu, which lay only about another hour and
a half' ride in front of us.



CHAPTER X

CHRISTMAS AT SANSANE-MANGU


Mangu, the northernmost Government station in Togo, is in charge of a
District Commissioner, Captain von Hirschfeld, who is assisted in his
duties, which are arduous and important, by two other white men, one
of whom is a non-commissioned officer, the other a civilian. Between
them, these three representatives of a dominant race, carry on from
year's end to year's end administrative and executive duties over a
tract of country as big as half a dozen English counties, and larger by
far than many of the smaller semi-independent German States. It is a
country, too, difficult of access at all times, and in the rainy season
impossible altogether to traverse in many parts. It is, moreover,
inhabited by a people diverse and strange, speaking different dialects,
possessing different tribal customs, manners, and beliefs; and in some
instances--and in all instances at times--truculent, intractable, and
treacherous.

That this vast, far-flung region, in parts even now largely uncharted
and unknown, should have been brought, within comparatively recent
times, under a settled and stable government, and tribal and
internecine warfare practically abolished, speaks volumes, I venture
to think, for the character and abilities of the men who have
accomplished the task. Earliest among these pioneers was Dr. Gruner,
who took the German flag right up to the Niger bend, but who had to
withdraw owing to the shortsightedness of the German Parliament. The
British Government, by the way, made no such mistakes, I notice. I have
read in our history books how, some twenty years ago, Lord Rosebery's
Government was on the eve of adopting a similar policy of scuttle in
regard to Uganda. But the Rosebery Government went down in response to
a popular outcry, and as a result your Union Jack waves over all that
portion of East Africa. Our Parliament was subject to no such popular
pressure--at all events at that time, and in regard to this matter. But
here I had better stop. I am trenching upon high imperial, not to say
international, politics, and such things are not for a girl like me.

Let me get back to the Mangu of the present day, which we are now, if
you please, dear reader--I like that old-fashioned phrase--approaching
on horseback from the lowlands about the Oti River. A big broad road
leads up to the station from the Oti, and the station buildings can be
seen a long way off, gleaming white in the sunshine, and giving one,
even at a distance, the impression of extreme neatness and cleanliness.
As our caravan, with its long string of porters, winds slowly upwards,
I observe through my field-glasses that flags are flying from every
point of vantage, and I guess, even before Schomburgk tells me so, that
the decorations are in honour of the advent of myself, the first white
woman in Mangu. Presently, Captain von Hirschfeld, accompanied by a
mounted bodyguard, canters out to meet us, and I, intent on making as
imposing an entry as possible, ride forward to greet him. But alas, for
the plans of mice and men, to say nothing of women! A patch of soft
sand--a quicksand, no doubt, in the rainy season--lay directly in my
path. When my horse reached it, he first sank in it over his fetlocks,
then floundered, then fell, pitching me over his head. And in this
unceremonious, not to say undignified, fashion, the first white woman
made her first entry into the far northern station of Mangu. Captain
von Hirschfeld and myself often laughed over the incident later on, but
to me at the time it was no laughing matter. Not that I was hurt in
the least. The sand, fortunately, was soft, and the floundering kind
of stumble my horse made resulted, so far as I was concerned, in a
subsidence rather than a fall. But I was deeply mortified. I had looked
forward to making quite an impression, and the only kind of impression
I accomplished was the one made by my face in the sand when I fell.

The full name of the station--I fancy I have mentioned this before
somewhere--is Sansane-Mangu, meaning "the place where warriors meet."
Once upon a time it was the gathering-place of the natives when their
young men met together to set out on one of those wild forays so dear
to savages the world over. The exact place of meeting was a big baobab
tree, still standing, and about this tree the new station of Mangu
has been built, with a view to breaking the fetish spell which in the
estimation of the natives stills hangs round it. The old station
at Mangu, founded by a Lieutenant Tiery, was in a different spot,
overlooking the Oti River. It was a small station, but very strongly
fortified; a fort, in fact. Of this station, only the walls remain.
The interior of the site is used as a European cemetery. Three white
men lie there. Two died, the third was killed in warfare with the
Tschokossi, a tribe inhabiting the country to the north and west. The
unhealthiness of the site, more than anything else, caused the old
station to be abandoned. The new station was founded by a Captain
Mellin, who died a few years back. A little while ago the Tschokossi
rose in rebellion, and tried to capture this station, and they very
nearly succeeded. There was some sharp fighting, one white man and a
good many native soldiers being killed. As an act of expiation, after
the rebellion had been crushed, they were forced to build, near their
principal village, an immense stone pyramid, with a cross on top.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_         _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

TAMBERMA FORT

This building, of native construction, stands in Mangu, the
northernmost Government station in Togo. It was erected by a tribe of
natives so called, and is now used as a mosque by the Mohammedans in
Mangu. The portrait is that of the authoress.]

Captain von Hirschfeld, who, throughout this and our subsequent stay at
Mangu, was hospitality personified, had got everything ready for us. A
nice house was placed at our disposal, all swept and garnished, very
large, airy, and roomy, with a fine broad verandah. Close by our house
was an extraordinary-looking building of native construction called
Tamberma Fort. This was built many years ago by a tribe of natives of
that name, who live in the extreme north-eastern corner of Togoland.
These Tamberma were, and still are, a very wild, warlike, and truculent
people. The German Government, I ought to explain, exact what is
called a head tax of six shillings a year from each native. It is the
equivalent of the British "hut tax," and, like that impost, it has
been the cause of endless trouble and bother with the negroes, who in
Togoland are called upon, under its provisions, to either pay the tax
in cash, or work twelve days on the Government roads, buildings, etc.
Now six shillings sounds a very small sum to a civilised white man, but
to a semi-wild negro, who never sees any coined money whatever from
year's end to year's end, it is, of course, an altogether impossible
impost. He has therefore to work it out, and in the case of a distant
tribe this means a long journey forward and backward to their homes,
with their wives and their little ones, all of which not infrequently
involves considerable hardship and privation, for, of course, the
negro has to provide food for himself and his family on the journey,
though not while he is working out his tax. No wonder he resents the
hated impost, and tries to evade it whenever possible; for the native
is constitutionally incapable of looking ahead, and cannot be made
to see that the work he is called upon to do is for his own benefit
as much as, and even in a sense more so, than for that of his white
masters. He sees, of course, that the roads he builds, he is able
presently to travel over with an assurance unknown in the old days;
that the _songus_ he erects shelter him and his family when he is on
the move; and that the net result of all this easy intercommunication
is a general cheapening of commodities, and the opening of new markets
for those he produces. But all this weighs in the balance very little
against his innate conservatism and rooted aversion to settled labour.

Well, these Tamberma people came down once to Mangu from their mountain
fortresses in the far north-east; then, having finished their allotted
task, they packed up their belongings and returned to their homes. And
they never quitted them again--at least to come to Mangu. For shortly
after they got back to their own country, a new boundary line was drawn
between the German and the French possessions in this part of Africa,
and the Tamberma country was intersected by this line. The result has
been considerable confusion, some of the tribe owning allegiance to one
government, and some to the other. Things, however, are now likely to
straighten themselves out before long, the Tamberma having, by mutual
agreement between the two governments, been given a year in which to
decide under which they will come, and this year expires shortly.
Meanwhile Tamberma Fort, erected by them as a memento of their visit,
still stands in Mangu, a conspicuously picturesque object. It is, I may
add, at present used as a mosque by the Mohammedans at the station, who
have agreed to keep it in order in return for the privilege.

All round Mangu are big plantations of different kinds of valuable
timber, a sort of experimental arboricultural farm. All this work
has been done at the initiative and under the personal supervision
of the officials there, and they have also carried out many other
improvements. The place is, in fact, a little island of civilisation
set in a wilderness of savagery, the new station house there,
Schomburgk considers, being the finest and handsomest building of its
kind in the whole interior of Africa. The country round the station,
and especially to the north, is typical of the Sudan, the soil mostly
a hard dry ironstone formation. It is on the whole of somewhat arid
appearance, but grass grows freely in many parts, and along the banks
of the streams, and for a considerable distance on either side one gets
a belt of riverine vegetation--trees, osiers, and the like.

Mangu during the harmattan season, which lasts from October to the
end of January, is an altogether delightful place of residence; no
mosquitoes, pleasantly windy, cool at night, and not too hot by day,
because of the harmattan, the sun's rays being unable to penetrate the
dry yellow mist. During the rest of the year, however, and especially
from May to August, Mangu has been not inaptly described as "Hades
with the lid off." Not only is the heat terrific in the day-time--one
cannot, I was assured, walk across the square without dripping with
perspiration--but it is hardly any cooler at night, while to keep
things lively there is an almost continual succession of thunderstorms
of appalling intensity, the rain descending with tropical violence at
an angle of forty-five degrees or thereabouts, and beating right into
the houses, so that at times the people prefer to go out into it at
once and have done with it, rather than try to take shelter inside,
when it is practically unobtainable. These storms do not last long
enough to cool the air, but the lightning seems to take a special fancy
to strike the station or the village, one theory advanced to account
for this being that there exists beneath the place a subterranean
stream of water, which attracts the electric fluid. How feasible this
may be, I do not know; but it is a fact that Mangu is very unfortunate
in this respect. During the last rainy season, for instance, two
natives were killed in the village by lightning, and one here in the
station. The lightning also struck Captain von Hirschfeld's house, and
went through his writing-table, destroying a lot of papers, he himself
only escaping death by a miracle.

We spent Christmas at Mangu, and had a real good time. We ate our
Christmas dinner in Captain von Hirschfeld's house, a fine, handsome
stone building. It was only finished last October, and when inside, and
especially of a night, one can hardly realise that one is in the heart
of Africa. We had part of a young pig for our Christmas dinner, and I
was present at the killing of him. I must confess that the sight rather
sickened me, though later on I became quite an expert butcher. Curious
how one sheds the veneer of civilisation in the wilds. After quitting
Mangu for the north, we were destined to be absolutely cut off from the
outer world for a while, and we relied almost altogether on our guns
and rifles for fresh meat for the pot. Then it was the men who hunted
and killed the game, and I who prepared and cooked it. In like manner,
I take it, did the women of the Stone Age.

At Mangu, however, we were, of course, still in touch with
civilisation, and our Christmas dinner, besides being something of a
curiosity in its way, was exceedingly nice. I append the menu:

  Caviare sans Ice.
  Asparagus Soup.
  Oti Fish.
  Ragoût à la Mangu en escallop.
  Saddle of Pork à la Konkombwa.
  Peaches à la tin.
  Frothed White of Eggs, Cream, Sauce Vanilla.
  Cheese sticks.
  Coffee.      Liqueurs.

  _Wines._
  Madeira.      Claret.      Champagne.

On the dinner-table was a miniature Christmas tree, which had been sent
all the way from Germany by Captain von Hirschfeld's mother, and after
we had finished eating we gathered round it and toasted absent friends
in champagne. I had not looked forward at all to this particular
Christmas. In fact, I had rather dreaded it, fearing that it would
bring with it more of regret than of pleasure, but as a matter of fact
I thoroughly enjoyed it. For one thing, I found it hard to realise,
owing to the climate and surroundings, that it was really Christmas;
for another, everybody was so kind and hospitable that one could
not help feeling merry and jolly. On New Year's Eve we had another
little party, and on the stroke of midnight we set fire to about three
thousand feet of old celluloid films. The inflammable stuff blazed up
fiercely of course, directly a match was applied to it, and made a
splendid bonfire.

I have alluded already to the big plantations round about Mangu. Most
of these are thriving, but as regards some of them, considerable damage
has been done by a species of beetle with huge saw-like forceps. It
was pitiful to ride along the plantation roads, and see hundreds
and hundreds of fine trees all dead or dying, killed by these insect
pests. Every effort has been made, Captain von Hirschfeld told me, to
extirpate them, but in vain. In the plantations are many small antelope
and immense flocks of guinea-fowl and francolin, the latter a bird
resembling a partridge. The best sport of all, however, was afforded
by a bird called out there a koran. It is a most comical-looking
creature, not unlike a miniature ostrich, but, unlike the ostrich,
it is a good flier. Schomburgk was quite an expert in shooting them;
right and left--bang! bang! They were excellent for the pot, yielding
two distinct kinds of meat, white and brown, arranged in layers like
a cream and chocolate sponge-cake. They were so plump and fat that I
used to cook them in their own grease, and we all agreed that they were
better done that way, being delicious eaten hot, and even better cold.
There were also quail in great numbers all round the station, which
I used to roast, and serve on toast in the approved fashion. We also
had antelope, as many as we cared to shoot. Their meat, which had a
pleasant gamey flavour, made a nice change. The only drawback was that
we had to eat it too fresh, as of course everything goes bad if kept
overnight in this climate.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_           _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

CANOEING ON THE OTI RIVER

This photograph was taken near Mangu. The portraits are those of
Miss Gehrts, Major Schomburgk, and Captain von Hirschfeld, District
Commissioner. The canoe is a heavy dug-out one, of exceedingly
primitive construction.]

The Oti River furnished us with fish in abundance. We rode down to it
nearly every day, and once we went for a cruise in it on a big dugout
native canoe. We started at seven in the morning, and got back at
eleven. We were not able to go far, as the water was nearly at its
lowest, but still it was very pleasant, and the scenery was very
beautiful. Towards the end, however, the sun's rays, reflected back by
the almost stagnant water, made things very oppressive. What it must
be like in the summer I can only faintly imagine. From a sand-bank
where he had stalked it, Hodgson shot a very fine paauw--a kind of
bustard--with his rifle at about sixty yards, the bullet passing clean
through its neck. It was, of course, a fluky shot, but Hodgson was
awfully proud of it, nevertheless.

Early in the morning of December 30th, word was brought to us that the
natives were gathering for a grand combined fishing expedition, and,
of course, we rode out to see the fun, taking our camera and operator
with us. They caught any number of fish, but in a way that I fear would
hardly appeal to any genuine disciple of Isaac Walton. Still it was
very interesting, and we secured some good pictures. The natives had
previously built a number of dams parallel to each other across the
river in a shallow and still reach, and they now proceeded to bale out
the water from each inclosure until there was only liquid ooze left,
in which the fishes hid, and whence they were presently scooped up by
hundreds of natives armed with calabashes. Afterwards the master of the
ceremonies distributed the catch to the perspiring fishermen. They were
mostly of the barbel species, and of very moderate size; but there was
one big fellow, which we purchased, and afterwards ate for dinner. He
was very nice, unlike many of the Togo river fish, which are about as
tasty as blotting-paper flavoured with mud.

We took no dramatic films at Mangu, but plenty of ethnological ones.
Cinemaing had now become more difficult than ever, for the intense dry
heat kept continually cracking the wood of the cameras, until both
Hodgson and Schomburgk were well nigh in despair. Every evening almost
they were kept busy repairing the damage done during the day-time,
filling the cracks with sealing-wax, which they afterwards smoothed
down with hot knives, and covered with sticky tape. We had only brought
two cinema cameras with us--in addition to three ordinary ones--and the
woodwork of one of these had got so badly warped by the heat on the
road up as to interfere with the working of the mechanism, rendering
it utterly useless. Consequently we were relying on the one machine;
and if anything happened to put it out of action, the whole expedition
would come automatically to an end, since no other cinema camera could
be bought nearer than Europe. I never saw so much care lavished over an
inanimate object, as was bestowed on that machine. Talk about a mother
with a new-born babe! Why, that bit of brass and woodwork was watched
over by Hodgson as though it had been the apple of his eye. He scarcely
ever allowed it out of his keeping, whether on the march or in camp,
and a boy was detailed to do nothing else all day long but rub it over
with palm-oil.

Amongst other interesting films we took at Mangu was one showing
portions of the new stone station in process of construction, with,
as a contrast, the old wattle-and-daub buildings still standing in
close proximity. The scene here during the hours when work was in
full progress was most animated, and our cameras did full justice to
it. In one picture an endless row of carriers is seen bringing up the
hewn stones from the quarry. In the next native workmen are burning
lime in a native kiln. Another picture shows forty stalwart negroes
carrying between them an immense baulk of timber, hewn in the mountain
forest country many miles away; they had been carrying it after this
fashion for eight whole days at the time our photograph was taken. The
skilled masonry work is being done by long-term prisoners, many of
them in chains, and in charge of armed soldiers. The head mason, I was
informed, was a murderer.

After taking this film we rode down to the quarry near the Oti which
furnishes the stone. Here were hundreds of natives working out their
tax. The quarry, which is a very large one, and seems capable of
indefinite extensions, was only discovered quite recently by Captain
von Hirschfeld. On the way to it we passed a large "songu," or native
resting-place, equivalent to the rest-houses of the whites. Here we saw
specimens of races and tribes from all parts of Western Africa, and
even parts of Northern Africa, collected together--Hausas from Nigeria;
Fulani, with their comparatively pale complexions, and clear-cut
European looking features; squat, coal-black, pagan tribesmen from the
Kabre Mountains, and the central forest region; Fulbe, from the far
interior of the central Sudan; stately Arab traders from Timbuctu, and
beyond, clad in flowing snow-white robes; naked Gourma people, fierce
and wild looking; and many stalwart Konkombwa, upright and graceful
as ever, but _minus_ their helmets and head-dresses; while in and out
among the motley throng, naked little children swarmed everywhere, and
perfectly nude women and girls, bearing on their heads calabashes of
water, or pots of food, trod gravely and sedately to and fro, their
brass anklets glittering in the sun, and making music as they moved. It
was as picturesque a scene as any I had ever beheld in my lifetime, and
certainly more so than any I had yet come across in Togo.

[Illustration: NATIVE PIG IRON FROM A FURNACE AT BANJELI]

[Illustration: CHIEF'S COMPOUND IN A TSCHOKOSSI VILLAGE AT MANGU

These compounds are where the wives are housed, and they also contain
the chief's "palace," his stables--if he is well enough off to possess
horses--and other "offices."]

On January the 2nd, in the morning, a soldier came to say that a hyena
had been caught in a trap overnight, and we at once saddled up our
horses and rode out to have a look at it. The soldier led us to the
place where the trap had been, but both it and the hyena had vanished.
Investigation showed that the powerful brute had torn up the anchor
which held the iron gin-trap in position, and had walked off with the
whole contrivance. However, we knew that it was impossible for him to
rid himself of the trap altogether, so we followed up his trail to a
patch of jungle grass a considerable distance away, where he had hidden
himself, and a soldier went in and pulled him out, trap and all. The
poor beast howled horribly, and no wonder, for its mouth was all torn
and bloody, where it had tried to bite away the iron of the trap. It
was no goodly sight, and I was glad to turn away my head while
Schomburgk put an end to its misery with a bullet from his mauser. In
the afternoon came huge flocks of vultures to feast upon the carcase,
and again we put our camera into requisition, getting some fine
pictures. They are loathsome-looking creatures, these carrion-eating
birds, but of course they are invaluable to the squalid African
villages, where they act as general scavengers, and are rarely, if
ever, interfered with.

Mangu is plagued with bats--millions on millions of them. I would not
have credited it if I had not seen it with my own eyes. If I write
that there came at dawn out of a single small hut, twelve to fifteen
thousand of the creatures, darkening the air for quite a distance
around, I should hardly expect to be believed. But it is so. One of the
interpreters told me that on one occasion a deserted hut where there
was a rookery--or should it be a "battery"?--of them, was sealed up,
and sulphur burned inside. And when they unsealed it in the morning,
they counted above eighteen thousand carcases of bats.

We got plenty of milk at Mangu, making a welcome change of diet, also
native butter. This latter is good for cooking, but one cannot eat it
on one's bread, owing to its rancid taste, even when freshly made.
As regards the milk also, one has to be very careful to see that the
calabashes are clean. I always saw to this myself, for native servants,
as I have already stated elsewhere, have no idea of the importance of
hygiene.

One evening, shortly before we quitted Mangu for our "farthest north,"
Captain von Hirschfeld told us about a number of most interesting
records concerning the days of Dr. Gruner and the earlier pioneers,
which are preserved here. Schomburgk was greatly interested in them,
and urged the Captain to have them published, which he said he would
probably do shortly.



CHAPTER XI

OUR "FARTHEST NORTH"


On January 11th, 1914, we left Mangu, where we had been since December
the 23rd, and resumed our journey northward. Beyond Mangu, Togo has
not yet been opened up, nor is the country considered altogether
safe for Europeans. We only went there by special permission of the
Government, obtained through H.H. the Duke of Mecklenburg, and he only
granted it because Schomburgk was personally known to him as an old
and experienced African traveller, who could be trusted to treat the
natives well, to neither do nor say anything to provoke them, and who
yet was capable of holding his own in an emergency if he were attacked.

Before setting out, too, Schomburgk had to sign an official document,
promising only to go north along the Oti River, and not to attempt
to enter the Gourma country. He was also warned to be on his guard
against the Tschokossi people in the villages of the extreme north,
as these were reputed to be shy and suspicious of white strangers
entering their territory. As a matter of fact, Schomburgk insisted,
in talking the matter over with me, that the Tschokossi are nowhere
dangerous if properly handled, and that there was likewise little or
nothing to fear from the Gourma people living in German territory,
although he admitted that occasionally parties of Gourma come over from
French territory as far as Panscheli, whither we were bound, and that
these strays are apt to be troublesome, and even truculent. Indeed,
only quite recently a German officer traversing the very district into
which we were about to penetrate, and having with him a big escort
of soldiers, was attacked by prowling savages, who shot a flight of
poisoned arrows into the tent where he was asleep. According to the
version of the affair I heard, he must have escaped death by a miracle.
He was, I was told, lying down asleep when he was awakened by the
"plunk, plunk, plunk," of the arrows striking and penetrating the taut
canvas. Jumping up, he ran to the entrance of the tent, whereupon the
lurking savages shot another volley, one of the arrows glancing from
the tent pole behind which he was standing, and wounding him on the
forehead. With commendable presence of mind, instead of going after
his assailants, he at once sat down upon the ground, and called to his
native boy, who there and then set to work to suck the poison from the
wound. In this way his life was saved, for although he suffered great
agony, and was seriously ill for quite a long while, he recovered in
the end. He was lucky, for, as a rule, the least scratch from one of
these poisoned arrows proves fatal. I made many inquiries during my
stay in the country, and afterwards, as to what was the particular
poison used by the natives on their arrow tips, but I could get no
proper information, or rather, I should say that what I did get was
extremely contradictory. A Doctor Porteous, a friend of mine, assured
me that he had analysed some of it taken from a freshly-smeared arrow,
and found it to be a preparation of digitalis, made from a native plant
of the fox-glove variety. On the other hand, I have talked with people
who claim to have actually seen the natives poisoning their arrows by
the simple process of sticking the points in a lump of putrid meat, and
leaving them there for a while; while yet others assert that the poison
is a preparation of rotting vegetable earth taken from the nearest
bog-hole. There may be some truth in this, for it is known that people
wounded by the arrows frequently succumb to tetanus. The probability
is that no one poison is used at all times, and by all the tribes, but
that different kinds are utilised as opportunity offers.

It was on a Sunday morning that we quitted Mangu, and Captain von
Hirschfeld, with his usual kindness, made all arrangements for carriers
and so forth, and also stored our spare baggage against our return.
Our first day's march was only five miles, and, travelling as we did
along the Oti valley, in which the natives had just been burning the
grass, it was anything but pleasant riding. The air was filled with a
black impalpable dust, which got into my eyes, down my throat, up my
nostrils--everywhere. The heat was terrific, and caused one to perspire
freely, so that our faces soon took on a most unbeautiful streaky
appearance. The water I washed in when we camped became of the colour
of ink, and the consistency almost of pea soup; and when I unbound my
hair, showers of blacks descended from it to the ground.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

AN UNFORTIFIED TSCHOKOSSI VILLAGE

The semi-wild Tschokossi of the extreme north of Togo are great
believers in fetishism and fetishes. In the above photograph a field
fetish, in the form of two calabashes joined together, is seen in the
tree on the left; this is supposed to make the corn grow plentifully.
In the centre is a pedestal-like arrangement of hard clay; this is for
the sacrifice of fowls. Other fetish emblems are seen on the huts, and
elsewhere.]

Schomburgk wanted to camp at a village, but I was greatly taken with
a very pretty spot, lying fifteen feet or so up on a bluff in a bend
of the river, and from which a beautiful view could be had over the
surrounding country. To this Schomburgk objected, saying that the wind
was likely to prove troublesome by day, and that at night we were
pretty certain to be eaten up by mosquitoes. I persisted, however,
and in the end he allowed me to have my way. Afterwards, I wished he
hadn't. His prediction was verified. Very much so, in fact. As the day
advanced, a hot wind swept across the Oti plains in fierce eddying
gusts, bringing with it more clouds of black dust from the burnt veldt;
and at night the mosquitoes were so bad that we couldn't sleep, exactly
as he had foretold. I never encountered anything quite so bad in the
way of insect pests as were these mosquitoes on the banks of the Oti.
The boys had to light fires of green boughs to drive them away, and
while they were crouching over them, half-suffocated by the smoke,
Schomburgk started to tell me about some mosquitoes he once encountered
in the Congo forest region. "Why," he remarked, "we used to shoot them
like game with our revolvers as they sat perched on the boughs of
the trees above our heads, and so big were they that several of them
weighed a pound." "Get out," I retorted indignantly, "there are no such
insects anywhere in the world." "It is the literal truth I am telling
you," he replied, gravely, "several of those Congo mosquitoes weighed
a pound." "Yes," put in Hodgson slyly, with a laugh and a wink at me,
"_several_ of them. Several thousands--or millions if you like."
Then, of course, I saw the joke, such as it was, and we all laughed.

The place near to which our camp was pitched was a small Tschokossi
village called Bwete. The people were very wild in appearance. The
Tschokossi living in and about Mangu were comparatively civilised,
but these were just savages pure and simple. The men wore only small
loin slips of undressed bark, the women bunches of green branches
before and behind. These they renewed daily when they went down to the
river to wash in the early morning. Each woman or girl plucked a few
branches, thereby possessing herself of a new dress. In this respect
these children of nature go one better than ourselves. No civilised
woman, I take it, be she ever so wealthy, has a new dress _every_ day.
Schomburgk considered these umbrageous costumes hideous, but I thought
them very pretty, modest, and becoming. Certainly, on hygienic grounds,
the custom has much to recommend it.

In the afternoon all our boys went down to the river to bathe in a
big deep pool, in which I had previously observed several crocodiles
disporting themselves. I was horrified when I saw them, and called to
them to come out, telling them what I had seen; but they only laughed
at my fears, and went on swimming, skylarking, and splashing about. The
natives assert, and probably with truth, that whereas for one man to
venture alone by himself into a crocodile-infested pool would be for
him to court almost certain death, a number of them can go in together
with impunity. Doubtless the reptiles are frightened at the noise and
the splashing, and lie low instead of attacking, fearing for their own
safety.

On the road to this village a pet monkey we had bought earlier in the
trip got loose, and bolted across the veldt. It was being carried shut
up in a hen-coop, and probably resented the indignity. We were greatly
perturbed, for we had all of us become more or less attached to the
"comical little cuss," as Artemus Ward would doubtless have called him,
and we did not want to lose him. The boys tried their hardest to catch
him, and failed; but directly Schomburgk called him, he came to him,
and rode coiled up on the front of his saddle for the rest of the day.

Shortly after this episode we came upon a very picturesque little lake,
a really pretty sheet of water, long and narrow. We had been on the
look-out for this, because before we left Mangu one of the officials
there told us that he had recently shot a big bull hippopotamus here,
and Schomburgk was anxious to film one or more of these creatures.
So we circled the entire lake, going up one side and down the other,
examining it carefully. There were lots of water-fowl, but no hippos,
big or little, male or female. When we reached camp, our boys told
us that they had seen a big herd of antelope. This was tantalising,
for we wanted meat for the pot, and we had seen nothing of them. The
natives are still busy at their favourite pastime--at this season of
the year--of burning the grass on the Oti flats, and the wind, as
usual, blew the calcined debris into our eyes and noses. Anything but
pleasant!

Next day we resumed our march. Our intention had been to follow the
Oti, but the river winds in and out just about here in the most
bewildering and tantalising manner, and our soldier guide from Mangu,
in attempting a short cut, lost his way. We passed through or round
a number of dirty Tschokossi villages, but the people were sullen
and suspicious, refused to answer our questions, or replied only in
non-committal monosyllables. These people live, like the Konkombwa, in
tiny hamlets of two or three families, and, to judge by their replies
to our requests for information, one would have imagined that no such
river as the Oti existed anywhere in Togo, let alone close to where
they lived, moved, and had their being.

At length, thoroughly vexed and tired out, hot, dusty and thirsty,
we halted at noon at a place called Magu, and put up our tents under
some low, withered trees. It proved to be a most uncomfortable camping
ground. The black dust settled everywhere. The sun beat down with
a perfectly awful intensity, and it was practically impossible to
obtain shelter from the heat, the country all round being low bush,
interspersed with open veldt. Late in the afternoon, after a rest,
Schomburgk set out to try and find the Oti, and returned in a little
while with the somewhat comforting news, under the circumstances, that
it was only about a quarter of an hour's march ahead. And yet the
people here had assured us that it was "very far away." This shows
what reliance is to be placed on the word of a wild native. Schomburgk
further told us that on the way back from the river he had sighted a
roan antelope, but that it was too far off for him to be able to get a
shot. Another disappointment!

Before going to bed that night Schomburgk instructed the interpreter
to rouse us at 5 A.M. Presently I heard him calling out as usual that
it was time to get up, and in obedience to the summons I arose, though
feeling unusually sleepy. I put this down, however, to the tiring
events of the day previous, and, having washed and dressed, I went
outside the tent. To my surprise, I found the moon still high in the
heavens, and only then did it occur to me to look at my watch. The time
was 2.30 A.M. After saying some things the reverse of complimentary
to the interpreter, I re-entered my tent and lay down, intending to
try and get to sleep again. But meanwhile Hodgson, who had also been
awakened, had started a long confab with one of the native boys.
Hodgson was a first-rate operator, and a very decent sort of a fellow
to boot, but he was one of the most confirmed chatterboxes I ever came
across. I used to tell him that he would talk to his own shadow, if
there was nothing and nobody else to talk to. In this respect he was
the very reverse of Schomburgk, who, like most men who have lived long
in the wilds, was a very quiet, reserved sort of man.

At five o'clock, we rose finally for the day, and resumed our march
in the direction of the Oti, striking it, as Schomburgk had already
told us we would, in from fifteen to twenty minutes. We are now in an
utterly wild country, where few, if any, white people, whether men
or women, have ever been before. There are no paths, and the native
tracks--one cannot call them trails--lead nowhere save from village to
village, or possibly to water-holes, or river fords, as the case may
be. For the most part we tried to follow the Oti, but the wide bends it
made, and the nature of the banks in places, rendered this at times an
absolute impossibility.

We are in a fine game country, and we saw many troops of antelope.
Flocks of guinea-fowl, too, ran along in front of the horses; francolin
flew up in coveys of ten and twelve; crested crane kept passing
overhead on their way from one feeding-ground to another, uttering
their haunting rasping cry. It was a beautiful sight to a city-bred
girl. I felt I was really near to Nature at last; that here was God's
big "zoo." I did not want to talk--only to listen and look. I am
beginning to understand now how it is that all the white bush people
are quiet men, who think a lot, but say little, like the famous parrot
of immortal memory. Crossing, as I have already said, a succession of
big bends, we were mostly out of sight of the river, but when we did
catch a glimpse of it I could see that it was covered with ducks, teal,
and all sorts of water-fowl; while every thicket and clump of trees we
came to held colonies of bright-hued land birds, blue jays, sun-birds,
and so on, whose gorgeous plumage, flashing in the sunshine, was a
source of never-ending pleasure.

It was concerning these fine-feathered birds that Schomburgk and I
had "words" one day. I badly wanted him to shoot a few specimens, and
preserve them for me, as I had reason to know that he is an exceedingly
skilful amateur taxidermist. But he politely and firmly declined to do
anything of the kind. He is in favour of the protection of wild birds,
and holds strong views about killing them in order to strip them of
their plumage. "We might," he said, "take back to Europe hundreds of
pounds' worth of feathers and skins from this district, but to do so
would be a crime against Nature and against Nature's God." I replied
that I didn't want to do murder for money, but that I would like a few
specimens for my own personal use and adornment. "Besides," I added,
"you kill birds for the pot--francolin, quail, and so forth--and what
the difference is between killing them to eat and killing them to wear,
I cannot for the life of me make out. So far as I can see, it makes
precious little difference to the poor birds." To this Schomburgk
retorted that men must eat, and women too for that matter, but that
the latter need not stick feathers or stuffed birds in their hats.
Eventually, however, he did so far do violence to his principles as to
shoot me a single sun-bird, out of the many hundreds that were flying
about. These little creatures are exceedingly beautiful; purple red
about the body, with lovely blue heads, a splash of blue at the root
of the tail, and very much elongated and very brilliant tail feathers.
Schomburgk, also, yielding to my earnest entreaties, shot me a blue
jay, and gave to Hodgson permission to shoot me one other. These have
been greatly admired since in London, for, of course, we took care
before shooting them to select perfect specimens in full plumage. But I
wish my fair friends could have seen them as I saw them first, when the
feathers were alive. The difference between the plumage of a stuffed
bird and a living one, or even one recently killed, is very marked.
It is the difference between a woman's own hair and a made-up switch,
between a peroxide blonde and a real one.

These bright-plumaged birds, by the way, do not sing. A few of them
whistle, but mostly their cries are coarse and rasping ones. The reason
is, of course, that they rely upon the beauty of their colouring to
do the work of sex attraction. It is wonderful, when one comes to
think of it, how always and everywhere it is love, love, love, that
makes the world go round. To it we owe the beauty of the colouring of
the sun-birds, the tail feathers of the bird of paradise, the song
of the nightingale, and these in their turn, no doubt, in the dim,
distant past, gave birth to painting and to music. No doubt the first
Tschokossi belle who tore down a green branch to deck herself withal,
was moved in the first instance by sex attraction, and the same holds
good to-day of a frock by Worth.

It is astonishing how tame the antelope, and four-footed game
became--so far at least as I personally was concerned--as we trekked
farther into the wilderness. They seemed almost to have lost all fear
of me whatever. The pretty little puku antelopes used to stop and
gaze curiously at me until I was within a few yards of them, and once
a couple of reitbuck got up right in front of my horse, and stood
stock-still staring at me. I called to Schomburgk to bring his rifle,
but by the time he got to me they had galloped off.

On the morning of January 13th, after following the Oti for about
eight miles, we debouched on to a big open plain, and Schomburgk and
Hodgson rode on ahead along the river bank to explore, leaving me to
lead the caravan across the flat. The going for the horses soon became
exceedingly bad, so that we could only move at a snail's pace. It is
the kind of country that is known out here as "yam-field country"; for
the following reason. The natives, when they cultivate their yams,
hoe up a little hillock round each plant. Now in the rainy season the
country we are crossing--part of the Oti flats--is all under water, and
when this dries up it leaves a lot of little hillocks, which the sun
presently bakes into the consistency of bricks. Hence the name!

Owing to the recent firing of the old grass, however, there was plenty
of fresh green stuff in the interstices between the hillocks, and this
furnished fodder for countless troops of antelope. I never saw so many
together at one time before. Some of the herds we encountered numbered
between thirty and forty head. While Schomburgk and Hodgson were with
the caravan, they were shy, but with me riding alone it was quite
different. They seemed instinctively to realise that they were in no
danger. They would stand still gazing stolidly in my direction until I
was within thirty or forty yards of them, before gracefully cantering
off, afterwards stopping every now and again to turn round and stare
inquisitively at what was evidently something quite new to them.
Others would simply trot a little way to one side of the path we were
following, then line up to see us pass, like soldiers on parade.

It was while I was gazing admiringly at a row of these pretty little
creatures, that my boys drew my attention to a big moving object in
the distance, whispering excitedly: "Look, missy--some big meat!" The
native, I may explain, calls all game "meat." Focussing the object
through my field-glasses, I saw that it was an unusually fine specimen
of a roan antelope, the size of a small horse. These roan antelopes
are, of course, quite different from the small puku, and other similar
varieties; they are, in fact, the second biggest of the antelope
species, only the eland being larger. This one, to the unaided eye,
looked like a blue-black shadow moving obliquely across the bright
sunlight, and I do not suppose I should ever have noticed it had it not
been for my boys. With the glasses, however, I could see distinctly the
beautiful dappled skin, note the proud carriage of the creature's head,
and watch its long tail swaying rhythmically and regularly to and fro
as it switched the flies from its hind quarters. It was moving across
our track well in advance, and was evidently travelling from the river,
where it had been for its morning drink, back to the safety and shelter
of the bush beyond. When I first focussed it, it was going quite
leisurely, but after I had been observing it for about a minute or two
I saw it stop suddenly, and gaze anxiously in my direction. Evidently
it had got our wind. It started to throw up its head in angry defiance.
Then it began to paw the ground, and a moment later it was off and away
like an arrow from a bow.

[Illustration: NATIVES GAMBLING

This game is played with the hollowed-out rib of a palm leaf, into
which small round stones, or beads, are dropped through a hole in the
centre. Both skill and luck enter into its composition.]

Presently we breasted a slight rise, and then rode down into a sort
of circular depression, in the centre of which was a small "vley,"
or hollow, where the water collects from the rainy season. It was
literally covered, and also surrounded, by an immense collection of
birds of all kinds, amongst them being about a hundred marabou. My
heart gave a great bound at the sight of these latter, and for the
first and last time during our journey I regretted that I carried no
gun. Here were hundreds of pounds' worth of the most beautiful and
highly-prized feathers in the world within easy reach of me, and I
couldn't get one of them. I could easily have shot them had I a weapon
handy, for they allowed me to come quite close to them, before lazily
rising, only to settle again a few hundred yards farther on. Later on
I told Schomburgk about them, and begged him to go back and get me at
least one bird; but his reply was a blunt negative. "I've told you
already I will not shoot these beautiful creatures," he said. "But
marabou feathers!" I replied, almost crying with vexation. "You don't
know what they mean to a woman. And such splendid specimens too. Why
they are practically priceless." To all of which, and much more on
similar lines, he listened in silence, only shaking his head doggedly
from time to time. However, I was destined to get my marabou feathers
later on, and that, too, without doing violence to Schomburgk's
feelings by killing even one single bird. But that is another story,
which will come in its proper place. These marabou birds, by the way,
were first discovered to exist in Togo by Schomburgk during this very
trip, he coming across a flock of them accidentally, just as I had
done. When we went back to Mangu, and he told them there what he
had seen, they absolutely declined to believe him, holding that he
must have mistaken some other commoner species of the crane family
for the rare and valuable marabou stork. Our old friend. Captain von
Hirschfeld, was especially emphatic on the subject, saying that he had
resided in the country for years, that he had travelled all about it
on his official tours of inspection, and that if there were any such
birds in Togoland he would have been sure to have come across them.
We were standing on the square in front of the Captain's house when
this conversation took place, and Schomburgk, happening to glance up,
remarked quietly to von Hirschfeld: "Why, there's one flying overhead
now," at the same time handing him his glasses. "By gad, you're right,"
cried the Captain, after he had focussed the bird, "I can see the
tail feathers plainly." And from now on therefore the _Leptoptilus
crumenifer_ will figure in the list of birds indigenous to Togo. I
may add that after coming to London I made frequent inquiries in the
millinery shops of the West End for African marabou feathers, but never
once did I succeed in getting even a peep at the genuine article. Those
I was offered, and at very high prices too, were mostly of the far less
valuable Indian variety, though others were not even derived from any
of the cranes, but were the product of all sorts of birds, including
vultures.

After leaving the vley where the marabou were, we rode on and on across
the shadeless, waterless, sun-baked plain. The heat was terrific, and
the guide seemed to have completely lost his way. I confess to feeling
anxious, and at length I called a halt, feeling that we might as well
be sitting still, as to go on travelling in a direction that might be
a wrong one. In about an hour Schomburgk and Hodgson turned up. They
had been following the course of the river, scouting, taking compass
bearings, and doing a little mapping. They had found that the Oti took
another big bend just here.

Schomburgk took over command of the caravan from me, and set a course
due north, towards a fairly large village called Sumbu. Soon afterwards
we quitted the plain, and climbed up on to a plateau. Everybody was
very tired, including myself, and I quite understood now why natives
preferred to go nude, or with only a loin-cloth. One never realises
how utterly ridiculous and superfluous civilised clothing can become,
until one travels in the African bush during the heat of the day. We
passed many dirty little Tschokossi villages, mostly deserted or in
ruins, but saw no inhabitants. At last, when we were beginning to
despair, we discerned in one we sighted some slight signs of life; a
stray chicken or so, and a mongrel dog. Riding up to it we found it
to be quite a small hamlet, inhabited by a mixed lot of Tschokossi,
and some Fulani, who were looking after their cattle. The Tschokossi,
I may explain, are not themselves cattle-breeders. All the stock they
own comes down to them from the north by way of trade, and always in
charge of the Fulani, who, in regard to their knowledge of cattle and
their ways, may be termed the Masai of Western Africa. These Fulani
drovers, being mostly poor men in their own country, or at all events
cattle-less, which amounts to much the same thing, are only too glad
to remain and settle down amongst the Tschokossi for a while, and look
after their herds. They receive as their reward the milk, and at stated
intervals a calf or two. These latter increase and multiply, and in
time each Fulani possesses a herd of his own, and returns to his own
land a rich man, judged by Fulani standards. I was greatly interested
in these people, who are, as I think I have already mentioned, of an
altogether different type to the ordinary negro tribes dwelling in
this part of Africa. I found them quite intelligent to talk to. They
possess clear-cut features, approximating to the European standard,
light chocolate-coloured skins, and some of the women I saw were by no
means bad-looking. The Fulani as a class are supposed to be of Arab and
Berber blood, with a dash of the negroid. At this village we called a
halt, and partook of a hurried lunch, which was greatly improved by a
big calabash of fresh milk brought us by the Fulani herdsmen.

After lunch Schomburgk and I cantered on to Sumbu, about two miles
distant, leaving the caravan to follow. On the way two reitbuck got
up, and stood looking at us not ten yards away. Schomburgk's language
at not having his rifle with him was, to put it mildly, not elegant.
Personally, I was glad that he hadn't got it with him, but I did not
tell him so. The beautiful creatures were so close up, that I could
see the look of startled terror in their lovely big brown eyes, and I
was pleased when they scampered away, even though their meat would
have come in most handy for the pot. At Sumbu, we pitched our camp on
a promontory overlooking the Oti, which is here bordered with fresh
grass, very pretty. The outlook, too, over the plains to the north and
west was very cheering, with herds of puku grazing quietly at intervals
as far as the eye could reach. We intend staying here four or five
days.



CHAPTER XII

AMONG THE SUMBU SAVAGES


We carried out our intention, as narrated at the end of the last
chapter, and stayed at Sumbu several days, making short excursions into
the surrounding country, and a dash north-east as far as the French
frontier. We have now traversed Togoland from end to end, and I can
flatter myself that I am at all events the first white woman to go
farther than Sokode, and only one or two, at most, have ever been so
far as that.

The people about here are a very wild and mixed lot. Besides the native
Tschokossi, who are indigenous to the soil, so to speak, there are many
others--Gourma people from the northern plains, Fulani from the central
Sudan, Ashantis from the neighbouring British dominions, and Dahomeyans
from across the French international boundary, with a sprinkling
of individuals belonging to other tribes and peoples from various
districts and states, who, for reasons best known to themselves, have
sought sanctuary, as it were, in this remote and seldom-visited region,
within comparatively easy reach of three different frontiers.

On the afternoon after our arrival the men went out shooting, and I
noticed directly that our boys kept close round my tent, and that
their usually merry countenances wore an exceedingly staid, not to
say sombre, aspect. As this was so entirely unlike their conduct under
normal circumstances, I asked them the reason for it. They answered
that they were afraid to venture outside the camp. "People here," they
said, "very bad people; they very much kill."

This was not very reassuring, and when Messa, the cook, came presently
to tell me that he was unable to get any fowls, the interpreter having
reported that the people in the village refused to sell, I felt rather
uneasy. From where I was, I could see the natives sitting about outside
their huts, each one with his bow and quiver of poisoned arrows beside
him.

However, I reflected that I had to get dinner somehow against the
return of the hunters, so calling the cook I ordered him to come with
me to the village. At first he refused, saying that he was frightened.
But I told him that if a woman could go there, surely a man could, and
eventually he consented, very reluctantly, to accompany me. When we
approached the place, the children all ran away screaming. This did not
trouble me greatly. I had become used to it. What I did not like was
that the women, in obedience to gestures from their men-folk, also went
away--where I could not see. This I interpreted as a pretty bad sign,
for it is well known that the African natives invariably send away
their women and children when mischief is brewing. The men sat still,
and scowled at us in silence, making no move, and speaking no word.

At this moment I must confess to feeling very frightened. I remembered
the gruesome incident of the white man and the poisoned arrows. The
affair had happened quite close to where I then was. It was likely,
indeed probable, that some of these very men who sat there scowling
at me, had been concerned in that cowardly and treacherous attack.
However, I reflected that having adventured myself amongst them I had
got to brazen it out. It would never do now to show the white feather,
for if we retreated we must of necessity turn our backs upon them--we
could not very well retire facing them and walking backwards all the
way to the camp--and a flight of arrows let fly on the impulse of the
moment would mean the end of the pair of us.

So, stalking along till I came close up to them, I said, addressing one
of the biggest of the groups of squatting negroes, that I wished to buy
a fowl. Nobody took the slightest notice. I waited a matter of thirty
seconds or so, then fixing one of the least truculent-looking of the
savages with my eyes, I addressed my request to him personally. I told
him that I wanted a chicken, that I was willing to pay anything within
reason for a chicken, but that a chicken I must have. Thereupon the man
rose, caught a fowl, and handed it to me, still without speaking.

I had not brought with me any salt--the usual currency of the
country--so I gave him a whole sixpence in cash. It was probably the
first coined money that he, or any of those sitting near him, had ever
seen. Everybody pressed round to examine it, and everybody started
to express his opinion concerning it. The jabbering was terrific,
and hearing the din the women came running up, and even the children
ventured near, their wide-open eyes fixed in staring astonishment at
the stranger white woman who had dropped from the skies, as it were,
into their village, in order to bargain for chickens with tiny bits
of metal. Eventually, after being passed from hand to hand all round
the circle, the sixpence was returned to me by the man to whom I had
originally tendered it, and who now, opening his mouth for the first
time, condescended to explain that the price of his chicken was half
a cupful of salt--_i.e._ about three-halfpence. I told him that the
sixpence I had given him was worth two whole cupfuls of salt, and ought
therefore by rights to purchase four chickens, taking the birds at his
own valuation, but that as he had been the only one to oblige me by
selling me what I wanted, he could keep the sixpence and I would keep
the bird.

He shook his head. Obviously he did not believe me. Most likely he
thought I was trying to obtain his valuable chicken in exchange for
a worthless fragment of metal, which, assuming him to be fool enough
to accept it, his wife would promptly annex as a neck ornament, and
which, even at that, would not be much of an ornament. Luckily at this
juncture a much-travelled native from a neighbouring village--he had
once been as far as Mangu--put in an appearance, and on being appealed
to, and after an examination of the sixpence, was able to confirm
to his fellows my statement as to the seemingly fabulous value of
the coin. At once the spell was broken. Obviously a person who, like
myself, was willing to buy chickens at four times the ordinary market
rates, was an individual whose acquaintance was worth cultivating.

From being almost openly hostile, the villagers went to the other
extreme, and became embarrassingly friendly. Everybody crowded round,
the women especially evincing the liveliest curiosity. They felt my
clothes, my arms, my neck, my hair; especially my hair, bombarding me
with questions concerning it meanwhile. Was it all my own? Did all
white women's hair grow straight like mine? What made it so shiny? Did
I put palm oil on it? These, and other even more delicate questions
concerning the inner mysteries of my toilet, were flung at me by all
and sundry. To distract their attention from the subject, I picked up
and fondled a little urchin of three, or thereabouts. At once every
woman in the place ran to fetch her own offspring, and held them up
for my approval and admiration. A happy thought struck me. I had in
my pocket several lumps of sugar, which I carried about with me to
give to the horses. Taking them out, I distributed them amongst the
nearest children. They took them, but had evidently no idea what to do
with them. One little girl, placing her lump in a calabash, started to
bore a hole in it with a thin piece of pointed iron, like a skewer,
obviously with the intention of hanging it round her neck as a charm,
and seemed greatly disappointed and annoyed when it broke into several
pieces. Meanwhile, I had bitten a lump I had reserved for myself in
halves, and putting one part in my mouth, handed the other half to
a little boy standing near me, who, greatly daring, licked it. His
delight was promptly manifested in his face. I doubt whether Charles
Lamb's mythical Chinaman showed a more intense appreciation of the
flavour of roast pig, when tasting it for the first time, than did this
little Tschokossi savage on first sampling sugar. After indulging in
several more licks, he handed it to his mother, who started licking it
in her turn; and who, like her child, showed her manifest appreciation
of the delicacy after the first lick. Other women were not slow to
follow her example. Soon the place was full of women and children
licking lumps of sugar, the novel delicacies being passed from hand to
hand, and from mouth to mouth, the recipients meanwhile "ul-ul-ulling"
in gleeful anticipation and excitement. After this little episode,
whenever I showed my face in Sumbu, I was sure to be followed by crowds
of children, begging for some of my "white honey rock," as they not
inaptly christened it.

The ice once broken, I became very friendly with the Sumbu people, so
much so that I asked the chief to show me over his village. He readily
agreed. It was a most extraordinary place, unlike any I had ever seen
or heard of, and merits a detailed description. The village itself is
egg-shaped, the huts round, and placed closely together, not more than
two yards apart, all round the rim of the oval, the roofs overlapping
in such a manner that the edges of the opposite down-sloping eaves
practically meet at a height of about three feet from the ground. The
huts are completely joined together all the way round by two walls, an
outer wall and an inner wall, the same height as the huts, the outer
wall protected by thorn bushes. The entrance hole--one cannot call it
a door--to each hut is two feet from the ground, is round in shape,
and of a diameter just sufficiently large to allow a full-grown native
to squeeze through feet foremost. The only entrance to the village
is through a fair-sized doorway in a big hut at one extremity of the
oval. This big hut is a sort of communal one, and is used, as regards
one side of it, for the women to grind the corn on stones placed
upon a hard clay platform the height of a table; and as regards the
other side, as a sort of club-room for the men to sit in during the
rainy season in the daytime, and as a stable for the sheep and goats
at night. At the opposite end of this big hut is a second fair-sized
doorway giving access to a courtyard. From the level of the first two
huts (see plan) to right and left of the big communal hut a straight
wall is carried right across from wall to wall, dividing the inner
egg-shaped inclosure into two unequal portions, the larger portion
being on the far side of the wall. This intersecting wall has a doorway
in the centre through which admission is secured to the other further
portion of the inclosure, and from this far inclosure only can access
be had to the huts.

[Illustration: SKETCH OF A FORTIFIED TSCHOKOSSI VILLAGE

  These curious villages are only to be found nowadays in the
      extreme north of Togo, and are rare even there. They are relics
      of the days when inter-tribal warfare was endemic. The village
      itself is in effect a cunningly devised native fortress, and
      each house is a fort.
]

[Illustration: PLAN OF THE VILLAGE SHOWN OPPOSITE

  Ladder for climbing over the walls 4 ft. long.

  A.B.C. Stones for grinding corn.

  D. Platform table high where women stand to grind corn.

  E. Walls height of huts 5 ft.

  F. Small holes for fowls.

  G. Entrance holes to hut 2 ft. off the ground
     and just large enough for a man to squeeze through.

  H. Little walls inside entrance holes to huts.
]

And not even then directly. When I arrived in this inner space, after
being politely conducted by the chief through the communal hut, and
across the courtyard, I naturally thought to see some signs of human
habitation, and looked round for the doors of the dwelling-places.
To my great surprise, however, there was nothing to be seen but the
bare inner wall; and the chief, his eyes twinkling at my obvious
bewilderment, presently reared against this a forked stick, and
motioned me to climb up it, using it in fact as a ladder. I did so,
though not without some slight misgiving, and stepping over, and down
the other side, I found myself in a sort of well-like space between
the inner and outer walls and two of the huts. From here only could
access be had to the actual dwelling-places of the Tschokossi, through
the small round holes mentioned above, and which were placed close up
under the low overhanging eaves. Even, however, after squeezing one's
body through this hole, one has not yet reached the actual interior of
one of the houses. One is faced by yet another blank wall, round which
one has to negotiate a careful passage in pitch darkness. This inner
wall is intended to prevent anybody from creeping in under cover of
darkness, and shooting off poisoned arrows amongst the sleepers inside,
a pleasant practice to which both the Tschokossi and the Gourma are
said to be only too frequently addicted. The whole series of elaborate
precautions dates from the days when inter-tribal warfare, instead of
being sporadic, was endemic. Every one of these villages is in fact a
fortress, and every house is a fort. To storm such a place would be
exceedingly difficult, at least for savages armed only with bows and
arrows; to surprise it would be impossible, especially in view of the
fact that the two blank spaces contained between the outer and inner
walls and the big communal entrance hut and the two nearest to it on
either side, are utilised to keep chickens in, and these creatures
would at once give notice, by their unwonted commotion, of the
presence of an intruder. The natives dwelling near Mangu, as well, of
course, as those living to the south of it, have now entirely given up
building these fortress villages, the necessity for them having ceased
to exist. Nor is it likely that even the Tschokossi of the extreme
north of Togo will build any more, when those they are now dwelling in
are abandoned, or fall into ruin. I learned later that these Tschokossi
people are supposed to have learnt the art of building these curious
villages from the Gourma people, with whom they are intermixed.

I forgot to say that after I had bought the chicken, and had handed it
to Messa, at the same time telling him that I was about to go inside
the village at the chief's invitation, he tried earnestly to dissuade
me from doing anything of the sort. "Oh, but I am going," I replied,
"and you will come with me." Whereupon he threw up his hands with an
expressive gesture, and declared that he was afraid. "I will go and
call Alfred," he suddenly ejaculated, after a few moments' cogitation,
"him big man, him no frightened," and off he went at a great pace,
before I could stop him. Alfred, I may explain, was our chief
interpreter, and stood six feet three inches in his bare feet.

Well, I waited for him to put in an appearance until I grew tired; then
I went alone into the village, to the great delight of the old chief,
who seemed vastly to appreciate my reposing such implicit confidence in
him, and started off explaining everything to me with great volubility.
Of course I could not understand a word of what he said, so on second
thoughts I decided to go outside again and wait until Alfred turned up.
This he did soon afterwards, walking very slowly and reluctantly, and
evincing the greatest indisposition to come with me into the village.
At length I got angry with him. "Surely," I said, "if a little slip of
a girl like me is not afraid, a long slab of misery like you ought not
to be"; and I wound up by threatening to report him to Schomburgk. Only
then did he agree very unwillingly to accompany me, at the same time
protesting so solemnly and earnestly against the "terrible risks" we
were running, that once the thought did flash through my mind that my
insistence on the enterprise might possibly turn out to be yet another
example of the danger of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.
"But then," I reflected, "I am no fool, and Messa is most certainly
not an angel"; and I thereupon took my courage in both hands, and in
we went, with what result I have already stated. I was greatly pleased
and excited at my discovery of this extraordinary village, as also
was Schomburgk when I told him about it. It was, he agreed, one more
fact added to our anthropological knowledge of darkest Africa; and of
a kind, moreover, regarding which nothing has ever before appeared in
print.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

BASKET-MAKING

This is an important native industry. The baskets are made from
the stalks of the palm leaf, and the finished article sells for a
sum--reckoned in salt or cowries--approximating to about one farthing.]

After this little episode we never had any difficulty during our stay
there in getting plenty of chickens from the people at the ordinary
market rates, which shows, to me at all events, that by firmness, mixed
with kindness, one can do a lot with natives, even very wild ones. Our
camp is on a high plateau, very picturesque, and commanding a quite
extensive view over the high rolling veldt. Provisions are plentiful,
with the exception of eggs, which are scarce just now. The Fulani,
however, still continue to bring us milk, and butter for cooking.
As their village lies at a much lower elevation than our camp, I am
able to see them coming a long way off, and their first advent upon
the scene is the signal to begin to get breakfast ready. We use the
milk for our porridge and our coffee, but it is always very dirty.
Tolstoy was right when he wrote that cleanliness is the hallmark of
the classes the world over. The lower down, the dirtier! Most of these
people, for instance, are simply filthy, possessing not even the most
rudimentary notions of cleanliness. They defecate promiscuously in
the neighbourhood of their villages, and they throw out their garbage
anywhere. One result is a plague of flies, which settle everywhere, and
must be ideal breeders and carriers of disease under the circumstances.
At first I was really afraid to use the milk they brought. But by
straining it through a clean cloth, and then boiling it, I have managed
so far to ward off any ill effects. I have to pay these people in salt
for all the milk, butter, and eggs they bring; they absolutely refuse
to accept coined money. The rate of exchange has been fixed at one
cupful of salt for each big calabash of milk, and the same for a pat
of butter. They bring so much milk at one time, that there is quite a
lot left over, and the happy thought struck me to make cheese of it.
I put it in a big basin, allowed the cream to rise, skimmed it off,
put it in a serviette, and hung it up in the branches of a tree. The
result was an excellent cream cheese, which, after I added some salt
and carraway seeds to it to give it a flavour, proved to be quite nice
and palatable. I tried it first on Schomburgk, who liked it immensely.
"Who made it?" he asked. "I did," I answered, quite proud, as what
woman would not be, of my achievement. "Good!" he cried. "Give me
another helping." Presently Hodgson came along. "Have some cheese?"
I said. Hodgson eyed the dainty doubtfully, thinking it to be of
native manufacture, and he had a rooted aversion and prejudice--not
altogether unreasonable under the circumstances--against any article of
native-made food. "Who made it?" he demanded, using Schomburgk's exact
words. I was just about to answer him as I had answered Schomburgk,
when the latter kicked me violently under the table. I understood, and
my lips framed the ready lie. "Oh, the cook, I suppose," I answered
carelessly. "Then I don't want any," he replied decisively. Whereat
Schomburgk kicked me again under the table, but appreciatively this
time; and we finished the rest of the cheese together. Then we both
started laughing, and Hodgson grew quite angry, because he didn't know
what the joke was. He knows now, however; or he will, at all events,
when he comes to read this book.

I had other domestic troubles at Sumbu, in addition to culinary ones.
Washing-day was a great trial. Our "washerwoman" was a boy, if you
please, and said "boy" was a man, which sounds rather paradoxical, but
you will find it is quite right, dear reader, and good sense, if you
stop to think for a minute. Well, this boy, or man, or "washerwoman,"
whichever you please, had one fixed idea as regards the cleansing of
clothes, and that idea was the one underlying, according to the old
English proverb, the correct treatment of "a woman, a dog, and a walnut
tree," as regards all three of which we are assured that "the more
you beat 'em the better they be." Only I am convinced that neither
woman, nor dog, nor walnut tree could possibly have stood, for any
but the briefest period, the terrible beatings that our boy subjected
our clothes to. He was a small, undersized man, but very strong and
energetic, and with fists like ginger-beer bottles, and he used to
pound and tear my delicate lingerie into shreds with his iron-shod
paws, as a preliminary to hammering it to pulp on a big chunk of rough
stone. Eventually Schomburgk raised his wages, on condition that he
didn't work so hard; the first time on record, I suppose, that an
employer has so acted. The result was disastrous. From that moment he
ceased to take any interest whatever in his washing operations. He just
trailed the soiled things in the river for a few minutes, and took them
out again. When I, in despair at getting them cleansed, but hopeful of
getting them at least smoothed out, suggested damping them down, and
ironing them, he compromised matters with his conscience by ironing
them wet. "What is the good," he exclaimed when I expostulated with
him, "of first drying things, and then wetting them again, in order
to dry them yet again with hot irons?" Such logic, regarded merely as
logic, was unanswerable, and I was wise enough to at least refrain
from attempting the obviously impossible.

There were a lot of old people in Sumbu. As a rule one sees few
such in Africa. One old chap I especially remember. He used to sit
in front of his hut all day, a mere living skeleton, only skin and
bones. He looked exactly like a shrivelled-up monkey, or a mummy
out of the British Museum. One day, taking pity on him, I gave a
woman a lump of sugar to give to him. After he had eaten it, to my
unbounded amazement he scrambled to his feet and executed a sort of
impromptu war-dance. Later on he told our interpreter that he was now
willing to die, having eaten of the white woman's honey rock. The
phrase sounds new, but it isn't. It is merely one more variant of the
"fate-cannot-harm-me-I-have-dined-to-day" wheeze.

The chief of Sumbu, the same who conducted me over his village, is the
ugliest man I ever set eyes on, even in Africa, which is saying a good
deal. He was so surpassingly ugly, so perfectly and preposterously
hideous, that we took a cinema picture of him. We did not, however,
think it necessary to explain to him our real reason for wishing to
photograph him. On the contrary, we told him that it was because,
besides being the northernmost chief in Togo we had visited, he was
also the handsomest, and Europe would be inconsolable if it were to
be deprived of possessing a pictorial record of an individual at once
so distinguished and so beautiful. Hodgson, our operator, hung back
for a while. He said he was afraid the chief's face might break the
camera. It didn't. But I am inclined to think that it was a near
thing. In justice to the chief, I feel I ought to add that not quite
all his ugliness was natural to him, so to speak. It was due in part
to his having been pitted by smallpox. He was badly pitted, too. His
face would have made a very good cribbage-board, but regarded as a face
it was a failure. Even, however, if he had never been pitted, I am
inclined to think he would have been sufficiently ugly to have carried
off the wooden spoon at even the least exacting of beauty shows. He
reminded me of the ugly man immortalised by Mark Twain, who, after
having the smallpox ever so bad, was just as handsome as he was before.

In addition to being very ugly, the chief was also very dirty. So were
all his people. In fact the Sumbu Tschokossi are about the filthiest
lot of savages I have come across up till now. It was only twenty
minutes to the river, yet even the younger men's bodies were always
grey with ashes, sand, and dirt, and covered with vermin. The women
were much more clean to look upon, probably because it was their custom
to bathe each day when they went to the river in the morning for water.
The younger girls wear brightly polished brass armlets round their
wrists and forearms, and the contrasts of these ornaments with their
ebony skins, and the green leaves they wear before and behind, is
exceedingly effective. Some of the very young unmarried ones are not
unbeautiful, but they soon lose their good looks, owing to the hard
work they have to do. They are at it from morning till night, carrying
water, cooking, hoeing in the yam fields, bringing in fuel from the
forest, while the men laze about in the sun, and breed flies. One
thing, however; this incessant labour renders them very strong, and
strength is a valued asset in a Tschokossi woman. A weak one stands a
poor chance in the matrimonial market. "Amongst us, men choose their
wives for strength, not for beauty," remarked one burly savage to me.
I have heard somewhat similar sentiments expressed amongst our working
classes in Europe. And after all, what is the philosophy of these
savages regarding marriage but a primitive form of eugenics?

As for the men, they strongly resent the imputation of laziness. "We
are fighters," remarked the old chief when I gently tackled him on
the subject, "not workers. It is for the women to work, whilst we
protect them against outside interference." "But," I said, "there is no
fighting to be done now; the land is at peace." "Who knows?" was his
somewhat cryptic reply.

If, however, these far northern tribes, the Tschokossi, the Gourma,
and others, resent being called lazy, they regard as flattering the
charges of treachery and cowardice that are brought against them. They
look upon the shooting of a foe from behind with a poisoned arrow,
not only as legitimate warfare, but as the very best and highest form
of warfare. It is their business to stalk an enemy, to see and not be
seen, to pounce upon him unawares; a proceeding which, after all, is
recommended by all writers on strategy, and practised by all beasts of
prey. It is a fact, too, that a certain kind of cowardice requires a
certain kind of courage. The prowling savage who climbs the walls of a
Tschokossi village at dead of night in order to take pot-shots at the
sleeping inhabitants with his poisoned arrows, is not exactly a coward,
however reprehensible his conduct may appear judged from a civilised
standpoint. For having accomplished his object, he has to make good his
retreat, with an even chance that by that time the whole village is in
an uproar, and I can conceive of no less desirable place wherein to be
trapped by a score or so of vengeful enemies, than the well-like space
between the huts and the inclosing walls.

I had many talks with the old chief regarding these and other matters,
and once he made some sort of an odd remark which caused me to laugh
heartily. "Oh then," he said, looking mildly astonished, "you _can_
laugh." "Of course I can laugh," I answered. "Why not?" "Well," he
replied, "I have never seen a white woman before, but I have always
been told that they are unable to laugh."

Although the chief, and in a lesser degree his people, were fairly
friendly with me, they continued up to the end to show themselves
suspicious and distrustful of our boys, and this distrust showed itself
in many curious, not to say inconvenient ways. For example, it was
our custom while on trek to allow our personal staff, numbering about
fifteen, three-halfpence a day extra subsistence money. With this
they used, on arriving at a village, to club together, and engage a
woman to buy their provisions and to cook for them; in fact, to board
them during their stay there. But in Sumbu no woman could be got to
undertake the job, nor would they even sell them provisions until
they had exchanged their coined money for salt, the usual currency of
the country. With this they were at length able to buy provisions,
millet-meal, yams, &c. Then, however, a new difficulty presented
itself. They had no one to cook for them, nor had they any cooking
utensils of their own. So they came to me, and asked me to lend them
one of our pots. Naturally, I declined; I am not over squeamish, but
to eat after natives! Faugh! On the other hand, I could not stand by
and see the poor fellows go hungry. So off I went to the village,
and begged the chief to let me have the loan of a pot. After a lot
of palaver he consented, and Schomburgk, at my request, allowed his
gun-bearer to be struck off duty in the afternoons in order to cook
for them. This arrangement worked fairly well, for natives eat only
once a day, of an evening. Then they consume an enormous meal. One
can actually see their stomach "swell wisibly," like the Fat Boy in
_Pickwick_.

No sooner had this difficulty been settled, however, than another one
arose. Owing to the boycott of the villagers, the boys could not even
get the use of a hut to sleep in at night, and had to camp out in the
open. They complained to me, and I told Schomburgk about it, but found
him unsympathetic. "If the Sumbu people won't lend them a hut, they
won't, and there's an end of it. I have no right to force them to.
Besides, it is good to sleep out in Africa. I've slept out hundreds of
nights when hunting elephants, and it never did me any harm, nor will
it them. Tell them I said so." I did as I was told, and the boys had
to sleep out for the rest of the time we remained in the neighbourhood.
But they didn't like it one bit.

In fact, towards the end of our stay here, some of them began to get
somewhat surly and discontented, not like their usual selves. One
reason for this probably was that, on quitting Mangu, their women had
all been left behind there. This had been done at their own wish,
as they said they were afraid to take them up-country to where we
were going. Nevertheless, they no doubt felt the separation keenly,
for natives temporarily divorced from their womenkind are like ships
without their rudders. They had all taken it for granted, by the way,
that I too was to be left behind in Mangu, and seemed greatly surprised
and anxious when they heard that I was going to accompany the caravan.
Indeed, just as we were about to start, all our personal boys came to
me in a body, and implored me not to go, saying that the Tschokossi of
the north were dangerous, and that they feared for the safety of their
"little white mother." I was greatly touched by their solicitude, but
of course I was unable to accede to their request, even had I a mind
to, which I had not. Later on I overheard Asmani, Schomburgk's personal
servant, while discussing the journey with another boy, exclaim: "Well,
I shall be glad when our little white mother is safe again on board the
steamer."

Another source of dissatisfaction, was that there was a shortage of
caravan food. For one thing, our European flour began to give out, and
we ourselves were obliged to eat bread made half of millet-meal and
half of flour. I didn't like it a bit. But for the Fulani, in fact,
we should have been, if not exactly on short rations, at all events
on restricted ones. These used to bring us, when they came with our
daily allowance of milk, huge calabashes of buttermilk, which the boys
used to purchase, and mix with their millet-meal, thereby obtaining a
welcome addition to their diet.

Meanwhile their clothing, what they had of it, was going from bad to
worse. Messa had to cut off the legs of his trousers above the knees,
in order to patch the portion covering that part of his anatomy on
which boys are birched at school. Alfred, the interpreter, was in an
even worse fix, because he had no trouser-legs left to utilise after
this fashion. He complained to me, saying that his appearance was not
decent. I was bound to agree with him as to this, but pointed out to
him that I could do nothing in the matter just then, as we had no
spare clothing with the caravan. When we got back to Mangu, I told
him, Schomburgk was going to rig out all our personal staff with new
clothes; in the meantime I suggested to him that he should wear a
"lavelap," which is a West African term for a whole piece of cloth
wrapped round the body. "Oh dear no, little mother," he replied, in
deeply shocked tones. "An interpreter cannot wear a 'lavelap,' he must
at least have a pair of trousers."

Next day I noticed that Messa, who was always a bit of a dandy, had
covered his bare legs, from the ankles to above the knees, with strips
of white cloth dipped in washing-blue, and arranged like putties. I
rallied him on his "improved" appearance, but he only smiled feebly
and somewhat sadly, so I asked him what was the matter. Thereupon he
confided to me that he was worried about his wife, who was lying ill at
Mangu. This was the same young lady whom, it will be remembered, he had
gone back to Kamina to fetch while we were on the road up from there to
Sokode, and her illness, or at all events the undue prolongation of it,
was largely his own fault.

She was always bright and bonny until we got to Paratau. Then, when
we resumed our march, she seemed to have changed altogether. She was
always tired, and appeared as if trying to elude our observation.
Messa, too, got sad and sulky, so one day, after we had camped, I went
over to their quarters to try and find out what was the matter. I found
the girl sitting disconsolate outside their hut, crying, and nursing
a frightfully swollen and ulcerated leg. I went and told Schomburgk,
who examined it, and at once diagnosed it as a very bad and greatly
neglected case of filaria, otherwise guinea-worm. These dangerous
parasites burrow under the human skin, generally in the feet or legs,
and the female lays eggs, giving rise to abscesses, and also causing
grave functional disturbances. They are removed by very slowly twining
them round a stick, and the natives assert, and apparently with some
measure of truth, that if the worm is broken in the process, the death
of the person affected will ensue. Messa had known all along, it
appeared, what his wife was suffering from, but fearing to have her
sent back, had tried to conceal it from us. Schomburgk gave the poor
girl some mercurial ointment, and afterwards several of the parasites
were removed in the manner described above, many of the natives being
exceedingly skilful in this matter. Now, it appeared, he was anxious,
fearing a relapse. As a matter of fact, on our return to Mangu, we
found the patient practically convalescent.



CHAPTER XIII

BACK TO MANGU


While in camp at Sumbu I had another adventure with a puff-adder, which
is, as I have explained elsewhere, one of the most venomous snakes in
all Africa. We were sitting outside my tent after dinner, enjoying our
coffee and cigarettes as usual, when my personal boy had occasion to go
inside on some errand or other. A moment or two later there came the
sound of a wild commotion from within. The boy was threshing about with
a stick, and calling out excitedly something we could not understand.
We jumped up, and the boy came running out, dangling the dead reptile
gingerly at the end of his stick. He had, he explained, nearly stepped
on it in the dark, and he showed us where it had been coiled, right
opposite my toilet table, where I should have stood on entering. The
curious instinct natives have about snakes, had warned him of his
danger, but had I gone in I should almost certainly have trodden on it;
and there would probably have been an end to me for good and all.

Soon after this incident a piece of very welcome news reached us.
A native runner came trotting up to our camp with a letter in a
cleft-stick, and wrapped in the usual oilskin. It proved to be a
cablegram from the Moving Picture Sales Agency in London--the firm
that is handling our films--telling us that the first lot of pictures
had been received and developed, and that they had turned out very
well indeed. Naturally, we were all immensely pleased and delighted,
for as we had no proper facilities for developing our cinematograph
negatives where we were, we had no means of judging how they were going
to turn out, and Schomburgk, with memories of the failure that had
attended his efforts during his former expedition, had been all along
very anxious about the matter. Now all our apprehensions were set at
rest, our spirits soared high, and we opened a bottle of champagne in
honour of the occasion. The cablegram had only left London thirty-six
hours previously. It had been re-transmitted by telephone from Lome
to Mangu, whence it had been dispatched by relays of runners to our
camp. The date stamp showed that it had left Mangu at ten o'clock
that morning, and it reached us at eight o'clock in the evening, the
distance from Mangu to Sumbu being approximately fifty-five miles. When
it is remembered that there is no proper road between the two places,
nor even a trail in many parts, that the heat in the daytime up here
is so terrific that even the natives ordinarily do not care to move
about in it, and that the letter had to be carried up hill and down
dale, as well as across rivers and streams, it must be admitted that
the performance was a good one. It had been brought to us by what is
known as "chief's mail," an institution peculiar to Togo. The letter,
message, telegram, or whatever it may be, is wrapped in oilskin by the
clerk at the issuing office, firmly fixed into the cleft of a stick,
and handed to a native runner, who at once dashes off with it to the
nearest village along the line of the route it is intended it shall
take. Arrived there, he calls out at the top of his voice "Chief's
mail!" and hands it to the first native he happens to meet, who at
once starts off with it at top speed to the next village, where the
operation is repeated. In this way messages can be dispatched to
practically any part of the country with marvellous celerity.

Our principal reason for remaining at Sumbu was because we wanted
to photograph some pictures of hippopotami, which were reported
to be fairly numerous in the Oti hereabouts. Schomburgk wanted to
secure a good picture of the ordinary hippo, in order to show the
contrast between these big fellows and the pygmy hippopotamus which
he discovered in Liberia, and also to show how the one is practically
always cooped up in some big pool, while the other, the little one,
roams at will all over the place in the forest; otherwise he did not
trouble greatly about game pictures. Day after day passed by, however,
and we saw none, and Schomburgk began to get anxious. Eventually he
sent natives out to look for them, promising a reward to whoever
succeeded. That evening a couple of Tschokossi came in, and reported
that they had located five of them some few miles up-stream, near a
village called Panscheli. This, of course, was welcome news, and very
early the following morning we set out for Panscheli, taking our camera
with us. We crossed the river, which was fairly deep and infested with
crocodiles, without mishap. I was being carried in a hammock, being a
bit run down, and I confess to being a little bit nervous, as I was
being carried by boys who were new to the business, and didn't know
how to handle the hammock properly. Besides this, the responsibility
of having to carry a white woman for the first time made them over
careful, and their progress was slow and tedious. Proper hammock boys,
like those who carried me from Atakpame to Sokode, are exceedingly
swift, smooth, and easy in all their movements. They "break step,"
like stretcher-bearers are trained to do, and sing a curious sort of
chanting melody as they trot along, which is very apt to lull one to
sleep.

Altogether, what with the crossing, and one or two enforced halts on
the way, the journey to Panscheli occupied about two and a half hours,
and a little way beyond the village, in a big and very deep pool, we
came up with the hippos--one big bull, one big cow, and three smaller
ones. This was the first time I had ever seen hippopotami in a wild
state, and Schomburgk was rather looking forward to my being impressed
at the sight. As a matter of fact, however, I wasn't a bit impressed.
The ungainly brutes only poked their heads above water at intervals to
breathe, then down again. I was far more interested in those I had seen
in captivity at the "Zoo" in Hamburg, and in Regent's Park, London.

So shy and wary were these Oti hippos, that even now we had tracked
them to their lair our operator found it impossible to take pictures
of them. So at length, hot, tired, and disgusted, we gave it up as a
bad job, and Schomburgk proceeded to vent his anger on the crocodiles,
shooting six or seven of them. He absolutely refused, however, to shoot
any of the hippos, saying that they were harmless creatures, not like
the beastly crocs, and that anyway it wouldn't be sport, but butchery,
because the poor brutes, although they were in their native element,
had not got the run of the river, but were cooped up in the pool, and
had to come to the surface to breathe. Eventually, however, he so far
relented as to give Hodgson permission to shoot one of the two big
hippos, telling him to remain behind for that purpose. "Perhaps," he
remarked, "you will never get another chance, and anyhow it will do for
meat for the boys."

Meanwhile, on an island in the middle of the pool, I saw the most
extraordinary sight I had ever beheld, an incident that I had often
heard about, but never really believed. The low sandy islet was covered
thick with innumerable water-fowl: teal, egrets, herons, and so forth.
And right in amongst them were five enormous crocodiles, lying basking
in the sun with their mouths wide open, and numbers of little white
birds running in and out, and pecking with their tiny beaks at the
interstices between the big cruel teeth. We promptly tried to cinema
the scene, and again we were disappointed; in fact our luck seemed dead
out on this particular day. The crackling of the dried grass alarmed
the reptiles, and they promptly closed their cavernous mouths, and slid
off the island into the river. Whether any of the poor little birds
were accidentally trapped inside, under the--for the crocs--altogether
exceptional circumstances of the case, I do not know, but Schomburgk
said not, as these birds are exceedingly quick in their movements, and
the crocodiles are careful not to hurt them. The little creatures are
generally known throughout Western Africa as "tick-birds," and they do
not go only with crocodiles, but with elephants, rhinoceri, buffaloes,
&c., as well as tame cattle and sheep. They feed on the vermin, and
especially on the ticks, that infest these creatures; hence their name.
Hence, also, the fact that they are never wantonly interfered with by
their hosts. Even the stupid crocodile has sense enough to know that
it is good for him to be rid of vermin, and to have his great ugly
yellow teeth picked and cleansed for him by these indefatigable little
scavengers.

Panscheli, where we halted for a brief spell on our way back to
Sumbu, is a prettily situated little village of the usual frowsy
Tschokossi type. It stands on the left bank of the Oti going up-stream,
Sumbu being on the right bank, and is surrounded by broad belts of
palm-trees. Curiously enough, the natives hereabouts seem to make no
use whatever of these valuable trees.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

AUTHORESS AND DEAD "HIPPO"

This young bull hippopotamus was shot in the Oti river in the far north
of Togoland. Lying in the water in the background of the picture is
another. These two hippos were the only ones shot by the expedition,
although many others were seen and photographed.]

Very late that afternoon, while we were resting at our base camp at
Sumbu, Hodgson came back and reported that he had shot the two big
hippos, leaving the three smaller ones. In acting thus, he explained,
he had not wilfully disobeyed Schomburgk's instructions, which were, it
will be remembered, to shoot only one, sparing the other four. He had
fallen into an error which, Schomburgk remarked, was quite excusable on
the part of a young hunter unaccustomed to the ways of these animals.
He had shot at one of the big hippos, which sunk, fatally wounded.
Directly afterwards the other big fellow popped up, and Hodgson,
thinking it to be the same hippo, fired again. Afterwards, when, on
coming back to see whether they had risen, he found, not one only,
but two dead hippopotami drifting on the surface of the pool, he was
greatly surprised and disgusted.

Next day we rode over to Panscheli to see the two hippos, taking our
boys with us to get them out. We found the carcases floating on the
surface of the pool, surrounded by innumerable crocodiles biting and
tearing at them. Despite of this our natives plunged fearlessly into
the water amongst them, and fixing long stout coils of native coir
rope round the bodies, soon had them hauled up on dry land. A hippo
when shot sinks immediately, but only takes about two hours to rise. A
crocodile, when fatally hit, jumps clean out of the water, then falls
back, and also immediately sinks. But it takes much longer to rise than
the hippo; thirty-six hours, or even longer, according to the state
of the weather. Consequently none of those shot by Schomburgk on the
previous day were visible, but on the island were above a score of the
loathsome creatures, gorged to repletion, their jaws wide open, and
their living toothpicks, the little tick-birds, to wit, running in and
out, and cleansing their mouths from the remnants of their disgusting
meal. By the way, Schomburgk tells me that the popular idea regarding
the strength and toughness of the "scaly defensive armour" of the
crocodile is all moonshine. The so-called "armour" is not really armour
at all, but merely a leather-like integument, and a modern bullet will
penetrate it almost as easily as it would so much blotting-paper.

While we were up at the island, discussing the chances of a cinema
picture, our boys were cutting up the dead hippos. I never witnessed
a more disgusting sight. The extremities had been gnawed off by the
crocodiles during the night, but the massive trunks, and the huge
heads, were intact, and the natives sliced up the meat, entrails and
all, and squabbled over the tit-bits, their faces, hands, and bodies
smothered in blood. I wanted to get away from the horrible scene, and
at my request Schomburgk took me for a short stroll up the river. Here,
in a bend on a shallow sand-spit, we came unexpectedly on a number
of big turtles. At our approach they popped up their heads like so
many snakes, then bobbed down again as swiftly. Schomburgk succeeded,
however, in shooting one, and I had visions of turtle soup for dinner.
But it sank, and could not be recovered. That night our boys gorged
themselves on hippo meat, and the next morning croton oil was at a
premium.

On January 16th we broke camp and started southward for Mangu. This is
the first stage on our return journey to London, and Schomburgk, at my
suggestion, utilised the occasion to take a "travel picture"--this is
the technical trade term--showing the making up and starting of the
caravan, striking the tents, porters taking up loads, and so forth. It
made a very interesting film, but in order to photograph it, we had to
get up much later than usual, and also delay the start, so as to get
the light, so that our first day's stage was an unusually short one.

We are now marching back across the Oti flats. The season is advancing,
and each day that passes, the heat increases in intensity. The very air
seems to palpitate with it, and even by eight o'clock in the morning
the sun's rays are so powerful that to sit in one's saddle exposed to
them is to endure a mild sort of torture. We camped that night in the
bush, far from any human habitation, under a big tree. It was near
to where I had seen the marabou on my way up, but these beautiful
creatures had now all disappeared. The burning sun had drunk up most of
the water in the "vley," reducing it to the dimensions of a good-sized
puddle, and the little depression, so full of bird life the week
before, was now silent and deserted. In a comparatively little while
the rainy season will set in, and soon afterwards all this district
where we now are will be under water, and consequently of course quite
impassable for man or beast. The antelope, which now cover the flats,
will retire to the higher ground away from the floods, and only the
hippopotami and the crocodiles, and of course the birds, will disport
themselves in and about what will be in effect a vast inland sea of
fresh water.

Next day we resumed our march, striking a new track a little nearer
the river bank. On the way we passed many big heaps of oyster shells.
These river oysters are small, but very sweet and nice, and in the
season they are consumed in enormous numbers by the natives, who come
down to the Oti at this spot on purpose to feast upon them, returning
to their homes in a few weeks' time as fat as butter. The native does
not trouble about an oyster knife in order to open what journalists of
the old school used to term the "succulent bivalves." He just dumps
the oysters down near a big fire, and waits for them to open of their
own accord. Some of these midden-like piles of old shells are of vast
extent, and are probably the accumulation of many years, possibly of
centuries. These shells are now used by the Mangu people for making
lime, and Schomburgk used to note the whereabouts of the heaps so that
they might be able to come up and fetch them away later on.

I was surprised and uneasy at observing, soon after we camped to-day,
that several Tschokossi savages, each with his bow and sheaf of
poisoned arrows, were prowling about in the bush in the distance,
evidently watching us, and taking stock of our movements. We tried to
get in touch with them, in order to find out what their intentions
were, but directly we made a movement in their direction, they as
promptly retired, to reappear once more when we withdrew, and resume
their silent spying upon us. It was somewhat disconcerting, but
Schomburgk did not attach any very great importance to it. No doubt,
he remarked, they were suspicious of our intentions, wondering what we
were doing so far away from the beaten track; since even in the more
remote parts of Togo, like that where we now are, there are certain
well-defined caravan routes, and the natives, treacherous and cunning
themselves, are always mistrustful of any white strangers who quit
these recognised travel lanes, in order to adventure themselves into
the bush on either side.

Nevertheless, when night fell and the camp was still, I felt strangely
uneasy. I could not sleep, and the story of the white man so nearly
slain in his tent by the poisoned arrows of these treacherous savages
kept recurring to my mind again and again. At first a camp in a typical
African bush is strangely silent, but after an hour or so there
invariably begins a regular succession of noises, continuing till just
before dawn. I heard, and perforce listened to them all, on that _nuit
blanche_. First it was a horse neighing, then a hyena yowling; monkeys
started chattering in the trees, a bush buck was bellowing to its mate.
A little later on an old owl started "ter-hoot! ter-hoot!" somewhere
near, and some crested cranes answered her with their rasping "honk!
honk!" like an asthmatical motor horn. My tent was pitched under some
dwarf trees, from which there proceeded a continual crackling of dry
branches. Hark! Surely there are human fingers stealthily groping
about the outside of my frail dwelling. I creep to the flap and look
fearfully out. Then laugh softly. It is only a tree lizard that has
fallen from above, and now runs pattering about the taut canvas. The
moonlight is flooding the country, and all the landscape for miles
around is as a level unbroken plain of snow, or frosted silver, save
that here and there a huge mis-shapen baobab rears its contorted form
and casts weird black shadows athwart the white brightness. I lie
down and close my eyes, determining to sleep, to be startled into
wakefulness again this time by the low gurgling cough of a leopard.
I go to the tent flap once more, and call softly to the horses, who
are commencing to neigh uneasily. As I stand there huge bat-like
moths circle about with whirring wings, or dash blindly into my
averted face; while from the river below comes an endless, monotonous
chorus from the throats of thousands of bull-frogs--"qua-ah! quah-ah!
quah-ah!" a million times repeated. At last I feel myself drifting into
slumberland. The weary eyelids close peacefully over aching eyeballs.
The tired brain ceases to concern itself automatically with things
past or with things present. Have I slept, or have I been awake all
the time, and only imagined the sleep that came not? I am not sure.
But I am at all events certain that I am now wide awake, and that the
camp is in an uproar. One of the horses had got loose, and being a
stallion, as indeed they all are, "goes for" the one next him. The two
fight furiously. The others start kicking and squealing. The boys rush
out, stumbling over the tent ropes in their excitement, and cursing
fluently meanwhile in half a dozen different dialects. And above the
din I can distinguish Schomburgk's voice, angrily inquiring of the
horse boys whose animal it is that has broken loose, and promising
punishment for the careless delinquent later on. That morning at dawn
comes to my tent the erring one, to beg me to intercede for him with
the "master." I promised to do my best. But Schomburgk is adamant. "An
example must be made," he says. "It is sheer downright carelessness. No
horse can break loose like that if it is properly tethered. Some night
we shall have the lot stampeded; or, worse still, one of them will
be fatally injured." Suddenly a happy thought strikes me. "It was a
leopard," I explain, lying fluently, for the leopard incident happened
hours before the horse broke loose. "I heard the brute myself." "Oh,
of course, that alters the case," he says. "A horse might conceivably
get loose if frightened by a prowling leopard. I will let the fellow
off with a talking to." So that little affair ends satisfactorily to
all concerned, and I congratulate myself on the fact that although I
have lied, I have at least lied for an unselfish object, and to some
purpose. Only later on did I learn that Schomburgk knew I was fibbing
all the while, since he was perfectly well aware that a leopard will
not go anywhere near a horse; only he was glad of an excuse to remit
the punishment without injury to discipline.

I start the day's march with aching eyes and head, due to lack of
sleep, and an aching heart, also, for I am obsessed with a curious
feeling of misfortune waiting for us ahead. In vain I try to shake
it off, and when presently a native runner is seen approaching with
a letter carried in the familiar cleft stick, I feel as certain as
certain can be that he is the bearer of bad news. And so it turns out.
The envelope, on being taken from its oilskin wrapper and opened,
proves to contain a telegram from Kamina to tell us that Baron Codelli
von Fahnenfeld's house there had been burned to the ground, and that
all our heavy baggage which we had left stored in it had gone up in
smoke. This was indeed terrible news. I cried nearly all day and the
best part of the next night. Practically the whole of my personal
belongings, including about £200 worth of jewellery, my books and
papers, the little presents and souvenirs that I had bought at Madeira
and elsewhere out of my hard-earned money as presents for the dear ones
at home, my best and daintiest frocks and underwear, to say nothing
of other valued odds and ends--all! all! nothing but dust and ashes!
It was really too awful. Schomburgk's loss was even more serious than
mine, but he took it more philosophically. His manuscripts had gone,
his private letters and papers, his army commissions, his medals and
decorations, photographs, &c., representing fifteen years' camera
work in the African wilds, his diaries, his clothes and uniforms, and
a whole lot of other valuable property, much of which can never be
replaced. We had intended to camp for the night at a place called Magu,
but were so disgusted with fate, and things in general, that, in order
to tire ourselves out and keep from brooding we pushed on as far as
Najo. Here we camped, spending most of our time lamenting, and the next
day, still very much down in the dumps, we rode into Mangu.



CHAPTER XIV

THROUGH THE KONKOMBWA COUNTRY


I found that the change in temperature at Mangu was very marked indeed
since we had left it not so very many days ago. The harmattan was
lifting, and the nights, as well as the days, had begun to get very
oppressive, so that I had no longer any difficulty in believing the
stories that had been told me concerning the tropical intensity of the
heat in the rainy season.

This harmattan, by the way, is a bit of a meteorological mystery.
In the reference books it is generally described as a hot dry wind,
blowing from the interior deserts of Africa, and laden with reddish
dust. This may be true as regards its inception, but to describe the
harmattan one encounters in Togoland as a "wind," is to convey an
altogether wrong impression. It more nearly resembles a dry fog, and is
yellowish rather than red, rendering the light effects most unsuitable
for photography of any kind, and especially so for cinematographic
photography. Its advent is, however, welcomed by the residents of the
colony, for it tempers the heat of the sun's rays in a most effective,
not to say extraordinary, manner. Directly it lifts, the temperature
goes up with a bound, and the heat, which, while it lasts, is at least
tolerable, becomes well-nigh insupportable.

My second stay in Mangu was not particularly eventful. The men went
out every day taking ethnological pictures. This was in the morning,
of course, before the worst of the heat began. I put in the time
riding round with Captain von Hirschfeld, watching the progress of the
building of the new station, and inspecting the soldiers on parade.
There are a great many soldiers in Mangu just now, as all the reserves
have been called up for training. It is wonderful to see the progress
these reservists make, not to mention the raw recruits, in the course
of their training. This is limited to ten days, but into that brief
period of time there is crammed almost an infinity of hard work. Their
ordinary hours of drill are ten a day. No white soldier could, or
would, stand it. But the black man seems absolutely to enjoy it.

We took the opportunity of the reserves being called up to film the
lives of these native soldiers, photographing them not only while
they were at drill and at work, but also while they were at play, and
resting in the bosom--or rather bosoms--of their families. Family life,
by the way, plays a big part in the existence of the black troops of
the Togo hinterland. There is no "marrying off the strength" for the
Togo "Tommy." Practically they are all married, and "with leave," and
most of them are very much married. An English Tommy, when he has saved
up money, and feels like enjoying himself, goes on furlough, and buys
beer. The Togo Tommy stops at home, and buys a wife. He has to ask
permission first, of course, but this is practically always granted,
provided he has enough funds standing to his credit. The cost of a wife
in Mangu is about sixteen shillings; in other places it is dearer,
in some few cheaper. It all depends on the number of unmarried girls
there are available; in other words, on the law of supply and demand.
Even in Mangu, however, the price varies. A young and attractive girl
of thirteen or fourteen may possibly be worth a sovereign. Girls marry
young in West Africa. On the other hand, a strong and experienced
woman who is a good cook and housewife, has also a good market value.
Practically every soldier in Togoland buys as many wives as he can
afford. The German Government--very wisely, I think--does not attempt
to interfere with native domestic customs, of which polygamy is one
of the oldest and most deeply-rooted. The women do not object in the
least. In fact, they rather like it, for many hands make light work,
and the more wives a man has to minister to his wants, the less arduous
are the duties any single one of them is called upon to perform.
Besides, in the days when inter-tribal fighting was the normal state
of affairs in Togoland, the women naturally greatly outnumbered the
men; for although in no single one of these perpetual little wars was
the death roll on either side considerable, the sum total of fatal
casualties soon mounted up, and the adult males were, therefore, always
in a minority as compared with the adult females. Consequently, if
monogamy were the rule, many Togo girls would have been, in the old
days, condemned to a life of celibacy, and a celibate female amongst
savages is unthinkable.

But I find I am wandering off the track. Soon I shall find myself
writing a Togoland "Golden Bough." Let us return to our sheep--in other
words, our films. Most of those taken at Mangu, as I have already
stated, were ethnological ones, and many of them created the liveliest
interest when they were shown later on in London at special meetings
of the various learned societies, such as, for instance, the Royal
Anthropological Institute and the Royal Geographical Society. But we
also utilised this, our second stay in Mangu, to photograph some of the
kind best described as semi-dramatic.

One of these was of very special interest to everybody there, natives
as well as whites, because it was an attempt to reproduce for the
cinema what will presently become Togo history. The incident chosen was
the attack on the old station at Mangu by the Tschokossi, mentioned
in a previous chapter, and amongst the hundreds of supers, soldiers
as well as natives, who took part in the film production, were many
men who had been in the actual fighting. We followed the true course
of events as nearly as possible in our mimic representation, the
authorities kindly placing at our disposal for the purpose practically
the entire Mangu garrison. In the film, as finally completed and
screened, two patrols are seen going out, one in the direction of
Tamberma Fort. The latter is attacked, overwhelmed, and cut to pieces,
only one badly wounded man escaping. The other patrol, going farther
afield, scouts up to a big native town, and finds the savages there
dancing their tribal war dances, yelling death to the Europeans, and
generally working themselves into a frenzy. The patrol returns to the
fort to report, and on the way picks up the wounded survivor from
the other party, who tells them of the fate that has overtaken his
comrades. The officer in charge of the fort sends a letter to the
commanding officer at headquarters asking for assistance, but before
the relief arrives the natives swarm up and attack the fort. The
garrison is hard pressed, and the officer in charge, uncertain as to
whether his first letter has got through to headquarters, calls for
a volunteer to take a second letter. A native soldier steps forward,
and quits the beleaguered fort disguised as a Hausa. By taking careful
cover he gets through the lines of the besiegers without being noticed,
delivers his letter to the officer commanding, whom he meets on the
road, and all ends happily, the final scene showing the assault,
followed by the arrival of the relieving force and the dispersal of the
assailants. Curiously enough, we had considerable difficulty in getting
the natives to act as supers in this film. They remembered the real
fighting, and having a wholesome fear of the soldiers, born of actual
experience, they were extremely loath to come to close quarters with
them.

On January 27th the Kaiser's birthday was celebrated in Mangu, sports
and games being organised for the natives, who took the keenest
interest in them. A water race for women caused great excitement.
They had to run a certain distance, carrying calabashes of water, the
prizes going to those who succeeded in spilling least. A blind-fold
pot-smashing competition was also the cause of a lot of fun. In
the afternoon Captain von Hirschfeld distributed the prizes to the
winners, and I also gave away some pieces of silk, cloth, and beads as
supplementary ones.

One morning an exceedingly smart-looking Hausa, from the heart of the
true Sudan, came into the station with a wild ostrich for sale. It
was a very fine bird, the biggest in fact, Schomburgk said, that he
had ever seen, and he promptly bought it. The bird had been tightly
tied up for some considerable while, and as a result it was all sore
and chafed about the legs. Schomburgk therefore set him loose. And
the bird showed its gratitude by immediately bolting. The result was
that we had to organise a party to recapture him. It was by no means
bad fun, however, and besides we were able to film an ostrich hunt on
the veldt. Everybody nearly enjoyed it first rate, including, I verily
believe, the ostrich. The one exception was our camera man, who soon
ran himself out of breath, and was as limp as a wet rag by the time we
had finished. Before this little episode he had been very keen on game
pictures, but it was noticeable that afterwards he studiously avoided
referring to them. However, he made a lovely film of this one, and we
were highly pleased, naturally.

We were due to leave Mangu for good on February 1st, and the last
few days were spent in packing up, sorting out our stores for the
downward journey, and disposing of such as we no longer required. A
lot of tinned stuff we gave away, and one of the horses that was ill
Schomburgk presented to the white non-commissioned officer at the
station. Our one hundred loads that we had started with had dwindled by
now to about forty.

Suddenly Schomburgk announced a most terrible and alarming discovery.
He had run out of cigarettes. A package supposed to contain a reserve
supply was found on being opened to be filled with packets of tea,
sugar, and other groceries. He flew to the telephone and sent an urgent
message to Sokode for a fresh supply, to be despatched by special
runner. Meanwhile he growled and grumbled like a bear with a sore
head. Nor did matters improve greatly when the cigarettes at length
arrived. The Sokode people had run out of the best Egyptians--his usual
smoke--which retail out there at sixpence a dozen, so they had sent him
a very inferior sort, known locally as "battle-axe brand," and costing
about sevenpence for fifty. They have been christened "battle-axes,"
Schomburgk explained, in between two long strings of swear words,
because two of them will knock you on the head and kill you. On the
same principle the Western American cowboy dubs the vile spirit sold
in the frontier cattle towns "forty-rod whisky." You walk forty rods
after drinking a glass of it, then you drop down dead. I cannot, of
course, speak as to the whisky; but the cigarettes fully deserved their
evil name. Navvy shag was simply "not in it" with them. When Schomburgk
started to smoke one, everybody ran away. I am told they are exported
to Togo from England for native consumption. All I can say is, I pity
the natives.

At last the day of parting came. I can hardly find words to express
how sorry I felt to leave Mangu and our dear little home. Captain von
Hirschfeld, who had shown us such splendid hospitality all through
our stay there, rode three miles with us on the return journey. We
are not travelling back along the same route we came up by, but are
setting a course some distance to the westward of it, so as to break
new ground. Our first camp had been fixed at a place called Unyogo,
and as the distance was comparatively short, Schomburgk and I did not
quit Mangu until three o'clock in the afternoon, having previously
sent our carriers on ahead to pitch the tents, and get everything
ready. Our boy we took with us on horseback to carry our water-bottles,
but he didn't keep up with us, and somehow he managed to tumble off
his horse. Naturally, the riderless animal promptly bolted back for
its comfortable stable at Mangu, with the boy hot a-foot after it.
As a result we had no water to drink during the stage, which was a
very hot one, with no shade whatever and clouds of dust. I suffered
considerably from thirst. So did Schomburgk, who, however, was able to
console himself by smoking "battle-axes" and swearing at intervals,
both palliatives denied to me. It was a glad moment for both of us when
at length we caught sight of our green tents under the trees outside
Unyogo.

Hodgson was already there, having gone on ahead on his bicycle. He was
greatly excited, and would hardly give us time to get a drink of water,
or a cup of tea, before plunging into a narrative of what he somewhat
grandiloquently termed his "adventure." It appeared that he had been
pedalling silently along on his bicycle, when a covey of grouse flew
up almost from under his front wheel, and cannoned into one another in
their fright and excitement with so great violence that six of them
fell to the ground. Dismounting, he picked up five of the birds quite
dead; the sixth was only stunned, and, recovering itself, fluttered
off into the bush. The incident was certainly a remarkable one, almost
incredible indeed, for grouse are notoriously hard birds to hit. But
there they were, all five of them, mute witnesses to the truth of his
story. None of them bore any shot, or other wound, to account for their
deaths; and besides, Hodgson had no gun with him. We cooked them for
supper, and very delicious they were. Afterwards, we sat outside our
camp in the moonlight talking and laughing, and in high spirits at the
thought of going home--all but Schomburgk, who declared that the trip
was far too short a one. "Some day," he remarked, "we will come out
here again, film some more pictures, and return home the other way."
"Other way?" I inquire dubiously. "Yes," he replied airily, "round by
Timbuctu, and north across the Sahara. It will be grand fun, and we
shall get some unique pictures." "Yes-s!" I reply feebly. And no more
is said. But I think a lot.

That night a woman palaver started right outside my tent. I
was awakened at dead of night by the cries of a female in
distress--shouting, howling, and sobbing. Jumping up, and throwing on
a wrap, I hurried outside, imagining that murder was being done at
the very least. The noise was being made by the wife of one of our
soldiers, who declared, on being questioned, that her husband had tried
to kill her. Schomburgk, whom the noise had also awakened, and who now
put in an appearance, promptly sent for the man, and cross-examined
first him and then his wife. The true facts of the case were thus
elicited. It turned out that the woman, having had a wordy quarrel
with her husband--no blows were struck--had announced her intention
of forthwith going back to Mangu. Her husband had, quite properly,
prevented her from carrying out her intention. Whereupon she had rushed
out of their hut, and over to our camp, where she had started howling
and yelling, hoping thereby to get her husband punished. Had Schomburgk
been an inexperienced African traveller, unused to the little wiles of
native women, she might possibly have succeeded in her design. But
he was too old a bird to be caught that way. Instead of punishing the
husband, who was obviously not to blame in the matter, he told him to
take his wife back to their hut, and if she didn't behave herself, he
had his (Schomburgk's) full permission to give her a hiding. I never
saw a woman so completely taken aback as this one was when she heard
the judgment delivered. Her jaw dropped, her look of hard defiance gave
place to one of abject fear, and without a word she followed her lord
and master to their joint domicile, where, for the rest of that night
at all events, peace reigned once more.

[Illustration:

  _Photo by_             _Miss M. Gehrts_

A FINE HEAD OF HAIR

A half-caste woman having her hair dressed. Girls of this class
frequently possess most luxuriant tresses, of which they are
inordinately proud.]

[Illustration:

  _Photo by_             _Miss M. Gehrts_

NATIVE HAIRDRESSING

Most tribes pay great attention to dressing the hair. The better-class
native girls usually have theirs dressed twice a week, and the
operation is a tedious and lengthy one, frequently lasting for two
hours, or even longer.]

Next morning at 3 A.M. we were off again, and rode the next stage, a
short one, to Djereponi. Here there is a rest-house, one of the old
square Sudan stations. It is quite an imposing-looking place, and
beautifully clean. Two square huts for sleeping in form one side of a
hollow square, the other three sides being formed by the huts intended
to accommodate the native dependents of European travellers. In the
middle is a mess hut for the rainy season. During the dry season in
Togoland, of course, as elsewhere in Africa, one eats invariably
out-of-doors, usually under a verandah, if there is one, if not, under
the awning of one's tent, or beneath a tree. Here there was a very
fine broad verandah, and the roof came down very low, giving plenty
of shelter and shade, very pleasant. All the buildings, and even the
hard beaten clay floors, were coated with fresh native whitewash. This
gave the place a beautifully cool and clean appearance, but I found
the glare, when the sun beat down upon it, somewhat trying to the
eyes. While we were resting here a soldier brought in five chameleons,
which he sold to us for three-halfpence each. It was very interesting
to watch them change their colour from grey to green, and back again
to grey. They have large staring eyes, which they roll about in the
most comical manner imaginable; and their slender tongues, when they
protrude them to their full extent, are nearly as long as their bodies.

The next stage was to Nambiri, where also there is a very nice
rest-house. The road was good, and we cantered or galloped nearly the
whole distance. As a result we arrived at our destination a long way in
advance of the carriers, who, after the sun rose, were unable to make
very rapid progress. There being nothing to eat, I rolled myself in my
horse rug, pillowed my head on my saddle, and fell fast asleep; when I
awoke, some two hours later, there were still no signs of the carriers,
and we were all three very hungry. Schomburgk sent the cook, who had
come along with us on a bicycle, to forage round for eggs, and on his
returning with a handkerchief full he boiled six of them hard and ate
them without any bread or salt. Hodgson and I preferred to wait, saving
up our appetites against what we knew was coming. Three hours after
our first arrival in camp the first of the carriers came straggling
in, looking very hot and exhausted. As luck would have it this advance
guard was carrying the chop boxes, and we pounced upon them forthwith.
We did not even wait for a wash, or for our chairs and tables, which
happened to be behind, but squatted down just as we were on the mud
floor, and enjoyed our tinned stuff better than a meal at the Savoy.
First we devoured three whole tins of sardines, then we ate an entire
_pâté de foie gras_, followed by a miscellaneous assortment of cheese,
crackers, and candied fruit. Schomburgk rather looked with disfavour on
these extravagant delicacies, having been used to more frugal bush diet
on his previous trips. But I considered that now we were homeward bound
we could afford to use up our reserve of luxuries.

And, speaking of luxuries, it was here that our personal boys had the
feed of their lives. It came about in this way. At different places
along the road I had bought a number of chickens, mainly on the
strength of the assertions of the sellers regarding their unrivalled
powers as layers, and these we carried with us in a big native coop,
releasing them at the end of each stage in order that they might give
free play to their supposed egg-laying proclivities. I write "supposed"
advisedly, for with the exception of one little bird, who did her duty
regularly by laying one egg at practically every place we stayed at,
hardly one single egg did the others produce between the lot of them.
Until we got to Nambiri! Then they laid no fewer than five. This was
all right--if they hadn't chosen to lay them in my bed. Moreover, I did
not discover the whereabouts of the eggs until I went to lay down at
night, and then only through making an improvised omelette of them.
Being new laid, fortunately, there was naturally no smell, but the mess
was awful. I would not have believed that five small eggs--and African
hens' eggs are exceedingly small--could have made one's bed in such
a state, to say nothing of one's night attire. Next morning I gave
away all my chickens--bar the regular-laying one--to our boys, who ate
them that night for supper. I also told Schomburgk about my mishap,
expecting him to condole with me. Instead he laughed himself nearly
into a fit; and when he had somewhat recovered, he started telling me
about a fox-terrier bitch he once owned, and who had deposited six
"new-laid puppies" in his bed. "And when I started to get in between
the sheets," he began; but I stopped my ears and ran away, refusing to
hear any more. Men are so unsympathetic.

We are now in the heart of the Konkombwa country, and Schomburgk
decided to stay over here for a couple of days in order to film
these most interesting savages. Everywhere around us the country is
most densely populated, little villages peeping through the trees
wherever one turns one's gaze, and we expected that we should have no
difficulty, therefore, in inducing sufficient numbers of natives to
attend. But in the beginning there was a hitch. Schomburgk had sent
round word for them to come up to the camp in the afternoon for a
dance, and they duly turned up, but undecorated. This, of course, was
not at all what we wanted, and Schomburgk asked them why they had left
off their head-dresses and other ornaments. They replied that it was
because they were afraid that the white men would take them from them;
but on receiving his personal assurance that nothing would be taken
from them by force, but only on fair payment, and even then not unless
they were perfectly willing to sell, they agreed to come the next day
dressed in their best.



CHAPTER XV

NAMBIRI TO TSCHOPOWA


The chief of Nambiri turned out to be a charming little old man; one
of Nature's gentlemen. He wore a long grey beard, and not much else
beside, but his manners were courtly and kindly, and he bore himself
with a certain savage stateliness, tempered by a deference that had
in it no trace of cringing or servility. Since parting with the old
Uro of Bafilo, I have met no African potentate who has impressed me so
favourably. Unlike so many village chiefs, he was not unduly intrusive.
He waited until we had had a bath and a sleep, then came with his
"presents." They were more than abundant, including, besides the usual
chickens, eggs, &c., a young calf. Schomburgk at first refused to
accept this, knowing that the return "present" expected would be of
considerable value; but the old man begged so hard, saying that the
first white woman to honour his town with a visit must be properly
feasted, that at last he consented. We gave him in return a piece of
silk cloth, and a number of brass and copper rods, with which he seemed
to be highly delighted, and all the rest of the day he kept pottering
round, trying in every way that lay in his power to make things
comfortable for us.

That night the soldiers killed the calf, and I distributed the meat to
our boys, keeping the best portions for ourselves. These I ordered to
be roasted at once, a precaution only too necessary with meat in this
climate, as otherwise it will go bad in a surprisingly short time. The
boys are greatly delighted when this happens, because the native has
no qualms whatever about eating tainted meat. They always pretend to
be very sorry when they come up to me with the news, "Missy, um meat
gone smell--um quite bad"; but it is easy to see by the irrepressible
glitter in their eyes that they are secretly delighted. Consequently,
they were rather crestfallen when I ordered that our share of the meal
should all be roasted there and then. They considered that a good meat
meal had, from their point of view, been practically stolen from them.

[Illustration:

  _Photo by_                     _Miss M. Gehrts_

YOUNG KONKOMBWA WARRIOR

Note the helmet-like shape of the hairdressing; the dependent horsehair
switch, a highly-prized ornament; the iron bell-rattle carried in the
hand; the bow, and sheaf of arrows all poisoned. The bead necklace
supports a whistle by means of which the natives can signal messages
from village to village, and even call one another by name, using a
sort of Morse telegraphic code invented by themselves.]

The Konkombwa villages round about here are the prettiest and neatest
I have seen in Togo. They are quite small, consisting mostly of from
five to ten huts, and each little community seems to be more or less
self-contained. The social system under which they live, in fact, may
be best described as a blend of the communal and the patriarchal. It is
very astonishing that these splendid savages, so warlike by training
and instinct, and of so fine and stalwart an appearance, should have
been, for as far back as their history or traditions extend, under the
domination of the neighbouring Dagomba tribe. The only explanation I
can think of is that the Dagomba have guns, and probably became
possessed of them, moreover, and learnt their use, at a very early
date, whereas the Konkombwa are still in the bow-and-arrow stage of
martial evolution. The Konkombwa women are by no means ill-looking; but
they are short and squat, and their good appearance is considerably
detracted from owing to their custom of cropping their hair quite
close, the cuttings being used, I was told, by the young warriors to
make up their own elaborate head-dresses. I wonder what a European
girl would say, if she were required to sacrifice her tresses for the
benefit of her brothers, her sweetheart, or her husband. I rather
think she would indignantly refuse; but these dusky belles take it
quite as a matter of course. It is the custom of the country, and
here, as elsewhere, it appears to be a more or less settled conviction
that whatever is, is right. As regards their behaviour, the Konkombwa
women compare very favourably with any in Togoland. Not only are their
manners modest and gentle, but they have a reputation for chastity--a
rare virtue amongst African natives--which inquiry led me to believe is
not undeserved. They all--barring the very young unmarried girls--wear
a loin cloth, mostly of some white material, and which they take a
pride in keeping exquisitely clean, and this, and the custom they
have of wearing pretty little white "pearl" anklets, and similar, but
broader, belts of "pearls" round their wrists, necks, and waists, gives
them quite a picturesque and pleasing appearance.

My first favourable impression of these charming people, however,
was destined to receive rather a set-back during the course of the
evening, although the incident that gave rise to it was an isolated
one, and probably of quite infrequent occurrence; and in any case, of
course, one has no right to generalise from a particular instance--a
fault which, by the way, is far too common. We were sitting outside
our hut in the cool of the evening, chatting together of home and
future prospects; Hodgson, who plays the mandoline rather nicely, was
strumming some old-time melody; the moon was shining as it only can
shine in the tropics; and all nature seemed at peace; when there rose
from the village near by a most terrific din. Women were screaming,
men shouting, and children crying. Naturally we all jumped up, and ran
over to see what was the matter. It proved to be a domestic row, and a
pretty serious one at that. A huge native, apparently mad drunk, was
beating his wife with a big, heavy stick, almost a club in fact, while
a score or more of others stood round yelling to him to desist, but
not caring apparently to take any active steps to compel him to do so.
When we arrived upon the scene, the poor woman was lying huddled up on
the ground, covered with blood, feebly moaning, and evidently too weak
to even attempt to ward off the blows which her better half was still
raining down upon her defenceless head. Schomburgk promptly bowled the
brute over with a left-hander straight in the face. Then, having got
possession of his big stick, he gave him a taste--several tastes, in
fact--of his own medicine until he howled for mercy. Meanwhile I had
run back to our camp for lint and bandages, and proceeded to bind up
the injured woman's hurts. I never in all my life saw such a sight
as the poor woman presented. He had beaten her almost to a jelly, so
that her features were well-nigh indistinguishable, and on the scalp
were six or seven deep wounds, extending to the bone. Her body was
simply drenched--I can use no other term--in blood. To my inexperienced
eyes it seemed well-nigh impossible that she could ever recover; yet
such are the recuperative powers possessed by these people, that
when I inquired about her not long afterwards I was informed that
she was going about her household duties as usual, her head swathed
in bandages, and her face all puffed up and swollen, but otherwise
seemingly little the worse for the terrible punishment she had
undergone. I tried to get her to tell me, before quitting Nambiri, what
was the origin of the affair, but beyond saying that it was "all her
own fault," I could get no explanation from her. The other women were
not so reticent, however, and from what they let drop I gathered that
her husband had caught her philandering with a young buck belonging to
a neighbouring village. So there you are! Conjugal chastity, or the
insistence upon it, has as its necessary corollary conjugal jealousy,
in Konkombwaland as elsewhere.

Next day the dancers turned up. There were about two hundred of them,
picked young warriors from every village within a big radius round
about Nambiri; and very smart they looked, with their ebony skins
set off by rows on rows of brass and copper anklets and wristlets,
their quivers of poisoned arrows; and their cowrie-shell helmets,
with long strings of similar shells dangling before and behind, and
surmounted either by the small graceful puku horns, or occasionally by
the yard-long horns of the roan antelope, worn in pairs. I had never
beheld, or even conceived of, a more magnificent yet barbaric sight.
Nearly every warrior carried a curious bell-like rattle, made of native
iron, with which they kept up a continuous ding-dong "duotonous"
tintinnabulation, each note separated by an octave, and continually
repeated over and over again.

We took great pains over this film, for these Konkombwa people are
exceedingly interesting from an ethnological point of view; they
have hardly ever before been visited by private travellers, and most
certainly have never before been photographed by a cinema camera. In
the pictures we took, the tribesmen, fully arrayed in all their finery,
are first seen in the act of parading for one of their big ceremonial
dances. Then comes the salute, followed by the actual dance itself.
The young braves rush into the circle, and perform various evolutions,
the whole being instinct with life and movement. The only hitch in
our arrangements, but that a sufficiently annoying one, was due to
the Konkombwa women, who insisted on dancing in between with their
children, thereby, of course, spoiling the film, and necessitating
its being done all over again. After the dances were over, a number
of warriors were photographed separately, and close up to the camera;
and in order to get good studies of facial expression, we told them to
talk into the machine, saying that it would take down whatever message
they gave it, and that it would afterwards be heard in Europe. The
result of this little manoeuvre fully came up to our expectations, each
warrior as he advanced close up to the camera delivering his message to
it with much energy and many gesticulations. Afterwards, I asked our
interpreter what it was they had been saying. His reply was that most
of the messages were of such a character that they would not bear being
repeated!

After it was all over we distributed tobacco and kola nuts amongst the
dancers, both of which were much appreciated, especially the nuts,
which are esteemed a great delicacy by the natives, and are highly
valued besides on account of their stimulating effects, and the curious
property they possess of enabling a person to go without food or other
refreshment for a considerable interval. These kola nuts are brought
into the interior from the coast belt by the Hausa traders. They have
to be carried very carefully, and must also be kept constantly damp.
Their value is from a halfpenny apiece upwards, being dearer the
farther north one goes. Two or three kola nuts are usually--provided
he can afford them--carried by a native when he goes out hunting, or is
called upon to perform any other feat of physical endurance, and one
nut will enable him easily to do without food or water for at least
a day. Some of the older natives, who are also well to do, and the
chiefs and mallams are very partial to the nuts, chewing them all day
long, much as the American girls chew gum. The result is a staining
of the inside of the mouth, lips, and teeth, a dirty reddish-brown,
very repulsive to look upon. I once tasted a kola nut, but found it
exceedingly bitter and unpalatable.

Very early on the morning after the dance we struck camp, and started
on our next stage to a place called Tschopowa. We only wanted fifty
carriers, but over two hundred turned up. Schomburgk naturally
objected, but the old chief explained that we need only pay on the
basis of the number of loads carried; the extra carriers were going on
their own initiative, and for the fun of the thing. They regarded it,
in fact, in the light of a pleasure excursion, and as they all helped
with the loads, which were constantly being changed voluntarily from
one to the other, we got over the ground in fine style, and at a great
rate. At almost every village we passed going along, too, other natives
joined in, singing, shouting, and capering, so that our caravan assumed
in the end a most imposing, yet barbaric appearance. As I felt somewhat
indisposed, I travelled all the way by hammock, and my boys swung me
along in great spirits at a five-mile-an-hour gait.

The curiosity aroused by my advent in the villages along this usually
little frequented route was very great; more so, in fact, than anywhere
else in Togo. Everywhere crowds of natives lined the roads to see me
pass, the women "ul-ul-ulling" a wild welcome, the men capering and
singing. While at the more important places, regular demonstrations
of welcome were organised, as though for royalty itself. Thus, at
Tschopowa, at a distance of fully three miles from the village, there
awaited us a great crowd of natives, all dressed in their best.
Schomburgk happened to be riding some little distance ahead at the
time, and when he appeared they seemed quite disappointed, and inquired
as to the whereabouts of the "White Queen" of whom they had heard so
much. He pointed over his shoulder as he cantered past, intimating that
"Her Majesty" would be along presently, and the reception I got when I
did ride up to where they were awaiting me was almost overpowering. At
most of the other larger villages it was much the same. The road used
to be lined three and four deep by hundreds on hundreds of Konkombwa
men, women, and children, all in gala attire, and I had to tell my
boys to throw up the curtains of the hammock, so that I could sit up
and smile my acknowledgments right and left, just as royalty does when
it appears on a festive occasion in the streets of, say, London or
Berlin. It quite made me blush for myself--and I am not ordinarily
over-shy--remembering how insignificant a personage I really was. Our
operator, however, was troubled by no such scruples; but getting his
camera in position, he usually managed to secure any number of good
pictures of the curious, unusual scenes. At Tschopowa the whole affair
culminated in a big dance, given in my honour.

It was at this dance that I made an interesting, and profitable
discovery. Surmounting the headdress of one of the male dancers,
I noticed a bunch of black, draggled looking objects, that closer
inspection showed me to be feathers. They were, however, altogether
different from any other feathers I had seen the natives wearing
elsewhere, and a sudden, quick, glad suspicion flashed into my mind.
I darted up to the native, and greatly to his surprise snatched the
plume from his headdress. One glance sufficed. "Marabou!" I shouted
to Schomburgk. "Marabou feathers at last!" Would the native sell? Of
course he would, and glad to. A brass rod changed hands. So, too, did
the feathers.

To heat some water was the work of a few minutes. Then I rinsed the
bedraggled objects in soapsuds, dried them by waving them to and fro,
and a little later they emerged the most beautiful objects conceivable,
soft fleecy things of snowy whiteness and exquisite purity. Yes, there
could be no doubt about it; they were marabou feathers, of perfect
texture, and large size. I wear them in my hat now occasionally in
London and elsewhere, to the envy and admiration of my women friends;
those, at least, who are not members of the Wild Birds' Protection
Association.

The feathers had been left hanging up in the smoky atmosphere of the
native's hut, which accounted for their black and draggled appearance.
But they had suffered no permanent deterioration, and after I had
washed them, they were, as I have already intimated, as good as ever.
That afternoon, without saying anything to Schomburgk, who had gone out
shooting, I sent for the native from whom I had bought my treasures,
and told him to let it be known in the village that I would give a
brass rod for every similar feather brought in. Soon the camp was alive
with Konkombwa bringing marabou plumes for sale. As fast as I secured
them, I rinsed them out in a big bath of soapsuds, and set the boys to
work drying them. When Schomburgk returned presently he was amazed to
see rows on rows of ebon-black natives engaged in gravely waving to and
fro a small forest of snow-white feathers. Even his personal boy had
been impressed for service, and he was inclined to grumble a little
thereat in consequence. But he quickly relented, when he realised the
nature of the bargain I had made. We had, at the time, a considerable
store of the rods left, which we wanted to get rid of. They were worth
to us about sixpence apiece, while marabou feathers are scarcely to be
had for money in Europe.

The rest-house at Tschopowa is of the old square Sudan pattern, like
an East African "tembe." It is beautifully situated on a little rise,
whence a fine view is obtainable for miles all around. This is in the
dry season, after the crops have been harvested. In the rainy season,
however, when the guinea corn stands some 15 or 20 feet high, and the
country is mostly under water, it cannot be at all a desirable place
to stay at. Near the rest-house was one of the biggest and finest
baobab trees I saw in Togo. The trunk was, I suppose, fully 60 feet
in circumference, and it was certainly many hundreds, and probably
some thousands, of years old. The wood of the baobab tree is of no use
commercially, being so spongy that a ·303 bullet will go clean through
even the biggest of them; but the bark, which is fibrous, is sometimes
stripped off by the natives, and used for making ropes, and a coarse
kind of cloth. The leaves are dried, and made into a powder called
"lalo," which is used by West Africans as a condiment. Only the female
baobab tree bears the fruit, which is the size of a small football.
Inside are a lot of kernels, enclosed in an acid pulp. This is said to
be a fine cure for blackwater fever, and it makes a most refreshing
drink, prepared with sugar, like lemonade.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

A HUGE COMMUNAL CORN-BIN

Bins built after this fashion are peculiar to the Konkombwa people.
The one shown in the illustration was photographed at a place called
Tschopowa. It has a movable top, is as big as a good-sized hut, and
when full will hold several tons of corn.]

Here we had a bow-and-arrow competition, the natives shooting at marks
for prizes, which caused a lot of interest and excitement. One warrior
greatly amused us by putting in an appearance in a sort of George
Robey hat, stuck full of feathers. No doubt he considered it the very
latest thing in head-dresses. We stayed at Tschopowa two days, while
Schomburgk and Hodgson went out to the Oti and filmed some pictures of
hippopotami. We also secured pictures of some enormous corn-bins of
curious construction. They are round, as big as a good-sized house, and
stand on three legs, with a covered-in top. When full some of them will
hold several tons of corn. These bins, built after this fashion, are
peculiar to the Konkombwa people.

In the evening we discovered that the baobab tree mentioned above
was full of bats; thousands on thousands of them. Our horse boys
from Sokode killed some scores of them with sticks, spitted them on
small skewers, and roasted them, esteeming them apparently as a great
delicacy. They brought me some on a stick, and laughed when I turned
away shuddering. I am a great favourite, by the way, with our boys.
When they transgress in any way, and Schomburgk, sitting in judgment,
condemns them to be fined or otherwise punished, they always come and
ask me to intercede with him for them. This I invariably do--unless it
is a very flagrant case--and Schomburgk, glad of an excuse to let them
off, will then remit the punishment, saying carelessly: "Oh, all right
if Puss says so"; or, "Now mind and don't let it happen again, and
remember you've got Puss to thank for this."

It was here that I saw one of the most beautiful white cocks I ever set
eyes on, riding on a donkey-load of stuff belonging to a Hausa trader.
I had seen similar cocks before in Mangu, and elsewhere, but never so
fine a one as this. These birds are carried all over Togoland by these
peripatetic pedlars, in order that they may arouse their owners in good
time in the morning by their crowing. They are, in fact, living alarum
clocks, a lusty, loud crower being greatly valued.



CHAPTER XVI

THE WOMEN MINERS OF BANJELI


From Nambiri as far as Kugnau, our next stage, there is no road, nor
practically any trail; only an immense variety of native tracks,
leading anywhere and everywhere. The country is so thickly populated,
that to pick out the right route is very difficult, and well-nigh
impossible without a guide. I went on ahead, with the guide, from
Tschopowa; and Schomburgk, who was to follow on later, instructed him
to "close the road." This means that whenever the guide came to a cross
trail, or a fork in the road, he was to place a piece of stick across
the wrong one, thereby "closing" it to the next traveller who came
along, assuming him to be bound in our direction. This, however, the
guide neglected to do in several instances, and as a result Schomburgk
wandered off the right track and got lost.

We crossed the Oti twice during this stage. The first crossing was
a somewhat difficult one. Not only were the banks covered in dense
jungle, but the path dipped down a very steep angle for about fifty
feet in sheer depth. I had to slide down assisted by my hammock boys,
and we had to exercise considerable care in order to get the horses
down, and safely across. I had a magnificent view of the river, which
is here about three hundred yards wide from bank to bank, but it being
now towards the end of the dry season, the actual stream was greatly
shrunken, revealing the presence of many islands, both up and down.
These islands were covered with thick tropical vegetation, the haunt of
innumerable birds. In the rainy season, all but a few of the higher and
larger islands will have disappeared beneath the risen waters, which
then fill the whole channel from bank to bank, and bank high.

The second crossing of the Oti was even more picturesque than the
first. It is here much broader, the banks are lower, and there are
many villages scattered about, from all of which came detachments of
natives to swell the welcome given to the first white woman. In the
end there must have been fully a thousand of them round my hammock, in
front and behind, shouting, dancing, and singing. The din was terrific,
the heat and dust awful. I felt I would have given almost anything if
they would only go away, and leave me in peace; and yet it was, of
course, impossible to get angry with them, or even be anything but
polite to them, their good intentions were so obvious. Some time after
our arrival Schomburgk turned up, hot, tired, and cross, and rated the
guide soundly for not having closed the road. He had, it appeared, gone
completely astray, and had been wandering about all over the place.

There is no rest-house at Kugnau, so we had to use our tents. But
there was no shade, the trees just about here being merely dwarf
ones, and the daytime heat rendered sleep out of the question.
Then at night came hordes of ferocious mosquitoes, some of which
got under my mosquito-net, and well I knew it. It was the duty of
Asmani, Schomburgk's personal boy, to attend to my bed. He was quite
a youngster, a long lanky slab of a boy, with arms on him like a
chimpanzee's; but he was so willing and good-tempered, that he was a
great favourite with all of us. He could not be made to understand,
however, the importance of tucking my mosquito-curtain in all round
under the mattress, so as to prevent the ingress of the bloodthirsty
little pests. I got so tired of talking to him about it, and so weary
of sleepless nights, that at last I used to send him regularly to
report himself to Schomburgk whenever I was bitten by mosquitoes. It
was very comical to see him go up to make this report in the morning,
his usually jolly, round face, long and woebegone. "Master," he would
say, "two" (or three or four, &c., as the case might be) "mosquitoes in
the 'little mother's' bed last night." "Ah!" Schomburgk would remark,
with becoming gravity. "Then you must be punished." And he would give
him two, three, or four light slaps on the face, one for each mosquito.
They were just such smacks as one gives in play to a child, and of
course did not hurt him physically in the least, but they hurt his
dignity, for Asmani, in virtue of being Schomburgk's personal servant,
was "head boy" of the caravan, and the other boys, whom he regarded as
being more or less under him, used to take a solid delight in crowding
round and sniggering their approval whenever he rolled up for his
"mosquito slaps."

I have said that Asmani was a willing boy. In fact, he was too willing.
When one gave him an order, his eagerness to obey led him to rush off
at top speed before he half understood what was required of him. The
results, very often, were ludicrous in the extreme; and occasionally
not a little annoying. Asmani got to be known, very early in the trip,
as the "cockroach," on account of his erratic, rapid movements; and
towards the end of our journey, whenever he was making ready to bolt
eagerly off before he had properly comprehended our meaning, it only
became necessary to cry out to him, while lifting a warning forefinger,
"Whoa, Asmani; don't cockroach!" in order to arrest him. He was one
of that type of servant--now, I am afraid, rare in effete Europe--who
regards his employer's interests as his own. Consequently, he was not a
great favourite with the other boys; who held, for the most part, views
widely divergent from these. To Messa, our cook, more especially, he
was the very reverse of a _persona grata_, for when Messa would come to
tell me, say, that the tea was all gone, or that he required more sugar
from store, Asmani, if he happened to be anywhere near, would be sure
to give vent to an incredulous, long-drawn "Oh-h-h!" Whereupon Messa
would glare at him, and presently there would ensue a rare hullabaloo
from behind the cook-house; Asmani and Messa "having it out."

It was while we were resting here that an incident occurred which
showed how easily an inexperienced European may be led astray in his
dealings with the natives, and so cause trouble without being at all
aware of it. It had reference to the Konkombwa cowrie-shell helmets, of
which mention has already been made. These beautiful and unique objects
always attract the immediate attention and admiration of European
travellers, who naturally try to acquire one or more to take away with
them. But the Konkombwa value them highly, and are usually, and for the
most part, very unwilling to sell them, even though tempted by what is,
for them, a very good price, either in coined money, or in brass or
copper rods, which they greatly prefer.

I have heard it hinted that, in the old days, Europeans were not too
careful of the rights of the natives in regard to their acquisition
of these curios. Now, however, strict orders have been issued by the
Duke of Mecklenburg that the Konkombwa are not to be unduly pressed to
part with their helmets or other trappings. They may be bought. But
the sale must be a genuine one, a fair price must be paid, and above
all, Europeans are warned to make certain, before purchasing, that the
Konkombwa are willing to sell, and that no secret intimidation has
been used to compel them to do so by the interpreters, soldiers, &c.,
attached to the caravan.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

THE "ROMAN FORT" AT IBUBU

This building, spite of its ancient-sounding name, is of quite modern
construction. It was originally erected with a view to overawing
the Konkombwa savages. Its interior is occupied by a multitude of
neatly-built huts belonging to the garrison.]

Now Schomburgk had already secured one of the helmets at Gerin-Kuka,
but he was open to purchase others, and sent one of the soldiers of
our escort into the village to say so. The man was strictly enjoined,
however, to use no compulsion. If the Konkombwa wished to do business,
well and good, but not otherwise. His part, in short, was simply to
act as a go-between, to introduce a willing seller to a willing buyer.
Well, the soldier went off on his errand, to return presently with
several natives marching at his heels, carrying helmets, quivers,
&c., about a dozen in all. "Are these for sale?" asked Schomburgk.
"Yes, all the lot," replied the soldier. Schomburgk thought this
suspicious, knowing how loath the Konkombwa are to part with these
things, so he sent the soldier away, out of sight and hearing, while
he cross-examined the natives. As a result it turned out that only one
man wanted to sell a helmet, and two others bows and quivers, and a
horse-hair switch. The others had been told that they had got to bring
the things up to our camp for sale, and that if they did not do so they
would be punished. Of course the unwilling ones were at once sent back
to their village with their helmets, &c., while the soldier was given a
severe lecture. In this connection Schomburgk told me of the following
amusing incident. During his last trip in the Konkombwa country, he
was travelling with the Duke of Mecklenburg. One man of the party, a
newcomer in the district, bought two helmets, and showed them, with
evident pride, to some members of the party. Said the Duke, using
his usual formula in such circumstances: "I suppose I may take it for
granted that there was no intimidation." "Oh dear no," was the reply,
"I just sent a soldier to the village to tell the Konkombwa I wanted a
couple of their helmets, and he brought 'em to me." A roar of laughter
greeted this naive admission, and even his Highness was unable to
repress a smile.

At 5.30 A.M. the following morning (February 8th) we resumed our
journey, and soon afterwards we crossed the Oti once more, and for the
last time. Schomburgk seized the opportunity to go off with Hodgson
and the camera to try and get some hippo pictures, but only two of the
creatures were visible, so he did not trouble. Afterwards he caught up
to me, just as my hammock broke down, letting me to the ground with a
bump. While it was being repaired, we consumed an alfresco breakfast by
the side of the road; very enjoyable. An hour or so later we arrived at
Ibubu; the end of the stage.

There is a spacious old rest-house here, but to our surprise we found
it very much dilapidated; almost in ruins, in fact. This is a very
unusual thing as regards the Togo rest-houses, the only explanation I
can think of being that this particular route is very infrequently used
by white people. Ibubu is the site of an old fort, called by Europeans
in Togo the "Roman Fort." I had heard it mentioned so often, that I
expected to see a quite imposing-looking building, and was greatly
disappointed at beholding nothing more startling or romantic than a
big mud wall, surrounding a huge conglomeration of native huts, set
closer together than any I had ever observed previously. No doubt,
however, it was once a place of considerable strength. It was built,
I was told, by Dr. Kersting, to overawe the Konkombwa in the old
days, when these savages, not having then sufficiently measured their
strength with that of the white men, were inclined to be aggressive
and troublesome. It is noticeable that the Konkombwa on this side of
the Oti are much wilder and more truculent than are those on the other
side, and still give the Government trouble from time to time, although
there has been no actual fighting for the last few years.

We are now in the Sokode district, and the supplies of food are
ridiculously small by comparison with what they were in the Mangu
district. We put up the flap of our tent under a big tree, the upper
branches of which were full of what I at first took to be some kind of
fruit, but which turned out afterwards to be a large species of bat,
a kind of flying-fox. We bought another ostrich here. He was a most
comical sight, having been plucked before being offered to us for sale.
I laughed till I cried, at the sight of him. He looked exactly like a
gigantic replica of one of those wooden egg-shaped toy birds that are
sold in the shops, with two sticks for legs. However, he turned out to
be a very fine, and unusually big, bird. So, too, did the other one,
that we bought in Mangu. Both ostriches are now in the Hamburg "Zoo,"
to which they were presented by Major Schomburgk, and the director
wrote, after our arrival in London, that everybody was amazed at their
enormous size, and that it was quite conceivable--although this is
not yet scientifically proved--that they are a new species of giant
ostrich. "In any case," he wrote, "they are quite out of the common."

The Ibubu people are very sullen; not a bit like those on the other
side of the Oti. The women, as well as the men, eyed us askance; and
the children edged away from us, and remained silent, when spoken to.
This I took to be a bad sign, for these people are not "savages," in
the sense that the far northern tribes are, and that they declined to
make friends was, therefore, clearly due to the influence of their
elders. Both Schomburgk and I--I flatter myself that I am getting quite
experienced in the ways of natives by now--had a sort of feeling, a
presentiment if you like, that all was not well; and so it turned out.

In the morning only twelve carriers turned up, whereas we wanted
at least fifty, and the interpreter reported that the chief either
could not, or would not, supply any more. Here was a pretty go. It
is difficult for an outsider to realise how completely a caravan in
the African hinterland is dependent on man transport. If we could not
secure a sufficiency of carriers, it meant either one of two things,
abandoning the bulk of our belongings--an unthinkable alternative--or
doing "relay work" backwards and forwards between Ibubu and Banjeli,
the next stage, the latter as heartbreaking and tedious an operation
as can well be conceived. Then, too, there was this further cause for
anxiety; an official who was acting for the Commissioner at Sokode--who
happened to be on leave at the time--had had bother with the natives at
this very village, and serious trouble was only narrowly averted.

Schomburgk acted at once, and in a manner which--I hope he will pardon
me for saying so--struck me at the time as being somewhat high-handed,
although I have no doubt now, from what subsequently transpired,
that it was the only way. He sent a peremptory demand for the chief
to attend before him at once. Soon he appeared, escorted by our two
soldiers. He was very cheeky, not to say overbearing. In effect he said
that the twelve carriers he had sent were all that were at present
available, and he "couldn't make carriers out of mealie cobs, could
he?" However, after talking to him for five minutes or so in terms the
reverse of polite, Schomburgk got a promise from him to let us have ten
more.

The chief was a tall, big man, and Schomburgk is of quite medium size;
consequently he had to bend his neck backwards at an angle, and look
up at the huge Konkombwa towering above him like a rock, in order to
address him. This, I think, made him even angrier than he otherwise
would have been. A short man carrying on an altercation with a tall man
is always at a disadvantage, be the taller black or white. Schomburgk
called him everything but a gentleman, "long slab of misery,"
being among the mildest term of abuse he applied to him, and when
the interpreter interpreted the chief at first looked puzzled, then
bowed and seemed quite pleased. Schomburgk couldn't make this out. He
thought the chief was, speaking vulgarly, "trying to take a rise out
of him," and it made him wilder than ever. Not until long afterwards
did it transpire that the interpreter, fearing for his own skin, had
interpreted all his abusive terms into eulogistic ones, "long slab of
misery" becoming "tall and strong chief," and so on.

Well, the promised ten carriers turned up, making twenty-two in all,
and Schomburgk sent me on with these, and one of the soldiers, he
remaining behind with the interpreter and another soldier. After
leaving Kugnau, the scenery changes. We are now quitting the Togoland
Sudan, and going back to the more thickly-wooded part of the country.
The scenery is magnificent. In the blue haze of the early morning one
can see the purple mountains outstanding round Banjeli, whither we are
now bound, and beyond, as far as Bassari, ridge upon ridge. Presently
Hodgson passed me on his bicycle, and I was surprised at seeing him,
as I supposed him to be staying behind helping Schomburgk. The latter
told me afterwards that Hodgson had gone off, leaving him to deal with
the bother alone, and he was very angry with him about it. In fact, he
hardly spoke to him again all that day.

Presently we begin to go uphill by a tortuous rocky path, and after a
while we came in sight of the village of Banjeli, beautifully situated
on the crest of a long rise, and backed by an imposing array of lofty,
wooded mountains. I had heard a lot about this place, partly because it
was the farthest point north that Schomburgk had got on his previous
trip, and also on account of its being the principal seat of the famous
iron industry, which affords occupation to large numbers of natives
throughout this district. Already, on our way up, we had passed several
of the curiously shaped furnaces, concerning which I shall have more
to say later on. The rest-house here is in the form of a square of
pretty round huts, from the windows of which one has at this season of
the year a lovely view of the mountains, their slopes lightly shrouded
in the haze of the harmattan, which, however, lies thick as a woollen
blanket in the valleys between.

Hardly had I got settled in the rest-house, when Schomburgk turned up
with a few carriers and some more loads, but not all. He told me that
he had had a lot of bother with the Kugnau people. First he had gone to
the village and collected a few women, telling the chief that as his
men would not carry, the women must. They did not seem to mind greatly,
and he promised them good pay, and put each woman by a load, arranging
everything beautifully, as he thought. Then he turned for a moment
to speak to the interpreter, and when he looked again, about half of
them had vanished. "I could not believe my eyes," he said, "and had
to rub them to make sure I was not dreaming. I never saw any manoeuvre
executed so swiftly and silently in my life. One moment they were
there, the next they were not. Talk about the disappearing trick! Why
those women could give points to Maskelyne and Devant."

At last, it transpired, he succeeded in collecting a few more carriers,
but still not enough for the loads. He had come on with these, leaving
the interpreter and the soldier behind to get other carriers as best
they could, and bring along the rest of the baggage. He also placed the
chief under arrest, and told the soldier to bring him along with him,
intending to hand him over to the authorities at Bassari, which station
has jurisdiction over all this part of the Konkombwa country.

The last batch of carriers, with the rest of the loads, shepherded by
the interpreter, turned up sooner than we had ventured to expect. With
them was the soldier, in charge of the chief. The latter looked very
crestfallen. All his cheeky, overbearing manner had gone, and he seemed
to wish he had behaved himself properly in the beginning. Amongst the
last arrived lot of carriers we found, to our surprise, ten women. This
seemed to show that the chief really could not prevail upon the men of
the village to carry, and made Schomburgk even more determined than
ever to take him on to Bassari and have the whole matter threshed out
there, since a chief who cannot impose his authority on his people,
when called upon to do so, is worse than useless from the Government's
point of view. Schomburgk also announced that only those carriers who
had come voluntarily in the morning would be paid for their work,
the others would get nothing. He expected them to be disappointed
and crestfallen on hearing this decision, but greatly to his disgust
they did not seem to care in the least, laughing and joking amongst
themselves about it, women as well as men, as though being docked of
their wages was the greatest fun imaginable. Whether they really did
not care, or whether they acted as they did in order to show their
independence, I am unable to say. It is practically impossible to
fathom the workings of the native mind in regard to a case like this.

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

BANJELI, THE CENTRE OF THE NATIVE IRON INDUSTRY

The smelting of iron by these primitive peoples is entirely of native
origin, and is, therefore, of considerable interest. The work is done
under conditions approximating fairly closely to those prevalent in
civilized countries, but the furnaces, etc., are, of course, of much
ruder construction.]

After we had been here a short while, a little native boy came into
our camp bringing me as a present a very pretty little green and gold
beetle. We gave him a pfenning (eight pfennings go to the penny)
for it, and seeing I was pleased with it, Schomburgk said he would
purchase at the same rate as many other similar beetles as he or the
other children cared to bring in. It proved to be a rash promise. The
wonderful news must have spread like wildfire amongst the village
urchins, who must, moreover, have immediately set to work with feverish
energy to secure a goodly store of beetles, for soon the camp was alive
with grubby little boys and girls, some carrying no more than a single
beetle, or two or three, others with both dirty little paws filled with
the pretty delicate insects. It was one of the most comical sights
I ever saw. There was Schomburgk dishing out pfennings in exchange for
beetles, and the more pfennings he distributed the more children came
rolling up with their beetles. They pressed and clamoured round him
like English children round a street hawker of toy paper windmills, so
that eventually he had to take refuge on a chair in order to escape
being mobbed by them, while I set to work to marshal them into a queue,
which, as regards both its extent and the happy eagerness of its
component parts, reminded me of that which assembles outside the Gaiety
on the first night of the production of a new musical comedy.

Whilst we were resting that afternoon, our mail arrived from Bassari.
It had come by post-runner to Bassari, whence it had been forwarded
by special messenger to Banjeli. At once everybody was on the alert
to secure his or her letters, and once secured we retired to a quiet
corner to read them. We got two mails together--a month's letters and
papers--on this occasion, so that we had plenty of reading matter to
occupy ourselves with. Afterwards we came together again to compare
notes, and tell each other tit-bits of personal news, talking and
chatting until dinner-time, and afterwards far into the night. Amongst
a bundle of papers sent out by my sister was a copy of the _Elegante
Welt_, Germany's leading fashion paper, and, womanlike, I was immensely
interested in seeing, out here in the wilds, what was being worn at
home by the "smart set" in Berlin, London, and the other European
capitals.

So utterly sick and tired of fowls had a lengthy sojourn in the African
wilds made me, that at Banjeli I decided to have for once a dinner of
roast pork, and sent Messa into the village with strict injunctions
to bring back a pig, no matter what the cost. He succeeded almost too
well, returning in about half an hour at the head of a procession of
natives, leading, driving, and carrying pigs of all sorts and sizes.
In only one respect were they alike. They were the ugliest-looking
lot of porkers I ever set eyes on; all black as to colour, and with
long bristly hair, not at all like the rosy-snouted little piglets
one sees in the German villages. However, I reflected that I was not
buying a pig to look at, but to eat, so I picked out one I considered
to be the best and fattest of the lot, paying for him what seemed to me
the ridiculously small sum of four shillings. Then, spurred on by my
success in the pig-killing line at Mangu, I superintended the similar
necessary operations here, only to find, however, when my porcine
purchase came to be cut up and dressed, that he was about as scraggy,
scrawny, lean, and generally unprofitable a specimen of his species as
one could possibly conceive of. What he had been fed on, Heaven only
knows. Sawdust and wood shavings, I should imagine, from the taste of
him. And this, I hasten to add, was not the fault of the cooking, for
from almost the beginning of the trip I have made the kitchen and its
conduct my own special care.

Taught in the first instance by that old Togoland campaigner, Captain
von Hirschfeld, I have, too, succeeded in perfecting a very excellent
system of keeping our drinks cool, and our cheese and butter from
running to oil. It is worked this way. In Togoland we have what is
called a "Hausa load." This is not a "load," as might be imagined,
but a long, narrow basket made of split bamboos laid closely together
lengthways, and bound together crossways with strips of bark. Into this
long wicker trough I used to put the things I wanted kept cool, wrapped
up and covered with sacks kept constantly wet. It was marvellous how
beautifully they were preserved by this simple expedient. Even on the
march, by detailing a boy to constantly sprinkle the sacks, I was able
to keep the butter quite solid, the bottles of liquid comfortably
cooled, and even perishable provisions, such as cooked meat for
instance, fresh and sweet.

It was Anton, our pet monkey, by the way, who was the alleged cause--as
a matter of fact he was quite innocent in the matter--of a grave
dereliction of duty on the part of seven of our boys. The affair
happened on the road to Ibubu, where the whole lot of them turned
up very late; a long way, in fact, in rear of the carriers, who, of
course, made ordinarily considerably slower progress with their heavy
loads than did our personal servants, who carry no loads. They had, it
transpired, met some friends on the road, who treated them to palm
wine and native beer; but their excuse was that Anton had scampered off
into the bush, and refused to be caught for some time, thereby delaying
them. Now this was an excuse that might easily have held water, for
we knew, and our boys knew that we knew, that Anton was addicted to
such tricks. But on this occasion their somewhat unsteady gait and the
strong smell of alcohol that hung about them convicted them, and one
by one they broke down under cross-examination, and confessed to the
truth. Then came the question of their punishment.

Very early in our trip Schomburgk had told me that the best way to
punish a lazy carrier was not by personal chastisement--for which they
care little unless it be carried to such an extent as to be inhuman,
which, of course, is not to be thought of--nor by fining them; but that
if a carrier was really lazy, coming in a long while after the others,
the best thing to do was to give him a load, and stand him with it
on his head in the middle of the camp, making him stay there for as
long a time as he had been behind his fellow-carriers. "Then," said
Schomburgk, "the others will all make game of him, and he will have
learnt a lesson he is not likely to forget."

[Illustration:

  _By permission of_      _Maj. H. Schomburgk, F.R.G.S._

SECTION OF OLD NATIVE IRON FURNACE

The portrait is that of the Chief of Banjeli, the seat of the native
iron industry of Togo. In these furnaces the iron ore, after being
laboriously dug out of the mountain side by native slave women, is
smelted, and afterwards made into axes, knives, spear and arrow-heads,
hoes, and so forth.]

Well, this plan had been carried out on several occasions with our
carriers, and we found that it worked excellently. So Schomburgk
decided to try its effect upon our boys, and that afternoon the
seven "beauties" were lined up in the middle of the camp, each with
a 60lb. load on his head. Also, as they had laid the blame on the
poor innocent monkey, he was fastened by a chain to the right leg of
our "washerwoman"--he of the ginger-beer-bottle fists--who had been
the last one to hold out in the lie about him. At first the culprits
treated the whole affair as a huge joke, laughing and chattering
amongst themselves. But little by little, as the afternoon wore away,
their faces grew longer and longer; the laughter and chatter grew
less, and finally died away altogether; they started shifting their
loads from the head, first to one shoulder, then to the other, until,
eventually, after Schomburgk had gone out with the camera, a benighted
appeal for mercy reached my ears. I was seated inside my tent at the
time, and for a little while I pretended to take no notice. But the
cries of "Little mother! Little mother! Have pity on your poor tired
children!" redoubled in intensity, so as Schomburgk had told me, before
quitting camp, to let them go when I thought fit, I gave them their
"ticket of leave."

Prior to our arrival at Banjeli, Schomburgk had made arrangements with
the chief there to film the iron industry, of which I wrote earlier
in this chapter. He was a nice old man, and, having met Schomburgk on
his previous visit, he had now promised in advance to have everything
ready for us. This promise he faithfully kept, and to the letter, an
attribute very rare in a native. Next morning we took the pictures.
First of all we started off at 6 A.M. to the mountain where the iron
ore is mined. We rode the first stage of the journey, accompanied by
our two ostriches, who seemed to imagine that we were going on trek
again, and intended giving them the slip. It was very comical to watch
them, especially after we dismounted, and started to climb the last
part of the journey to the top of the hill where the mine is situated,
about 1600 feet up. Eventually, however, we had to send them back, for
fear they might injure themselves.

The ore is mined by women, strong, but dirty-looking, with more of the
masculine element about them than the feminine. It was pitiful to see
some of them, with babes at their breasts, digging out the ore with
a curious kind of hoe-shaped tool. Besides being a hard occupation,
it is also a dangerous one. Only a day or so before our visit one of
the miners had been killed, owing to a shaft falling in. On inquiry,
I learnt that the women were slaves. I was assured that it was only a
mild form of slavery, a system of indentured labour, and that even if
liberated they would not go away. Still, I didn't like the idea, and
the sight impressed me the least favourably of anything that I had seen
in Togoland.

The other operations that centred round the iron industry, however,
interested me greatly. Here is a handicraft that is usually associated
with a more or less advanced degree of civilisation--the bronze age
everywhere preceded the iron age amongst primitive man--being carried
on by nude, or nearly nude, savages, in a fashion which, although it
has many points in common with our own methods of mining, smelting,
and so on, bears, nevertheless, unmistakable signs of being of purely
indigenous origin.

Taking it altogether, I am inclined to think that this film, which
was one of the last we took, was also one of the best, if not the
very best, of the lot, and when I came to see it screened later on in
London, I was amazed at its fidelity to life. First the women miners
are seen getting the ore out of the mines, as narrated above. The next
scene we filmed shows a long string of them carrying it in baskets on
their heads down the mountain-side to the primitive native furnace,
which the men load with wood, charcoal, and ore. We showed, too, the
method of regulating the ventilation of the furnaces by means of
holes round the bottoms, these being stopped by clay stoppers, very
ingeniously constructed, and which can be inserted and withdrawn at
pleasure by means of a wooden stick, embedded in the centre of the clay
stopper when it is first made. These furnaces, after being lighted,
burn for three days, when the pig-iron is taken out and carried to
the market at Bassari, where it is bought by the native blacksmiths.
These craftsmen, working with a round boulder for a sledge-hammer,
and curious hand-worked bellows, somewhat resembling bag-pipes in
appearance, forge the iron into axes, knives, spear and arrow heads,
hoes, and so forth, not forgetting the curious iron rattles mentioned
in a previous chapter, and which form a valued part and parcel of every
Konkombwa warrior's equipment. Speaking in regard to these industrial
films in general, a certain eminent scientist who presided at a recent
meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, remarked that he did not
think that at the present time any very great good was accomplished by
getting to the north or south pole, because both these very interesting
spots would be there five thousand years hence; but the men who went
out into the wild places of the earth in order to try and obtain
records of the out-dying customs of native tribes in these remote
regions, deserved the greatest praise. Even an ordinary written record
(he continued) is of acknowledged value. What, then, must be the value
of living pictures, such as these, showing every stage in processes of
primitive native industries which, from the nature of things, must,
in the not far distant future, become superseded, and so lost to us
forever. Similar views, I may add, were expressed in letters written to
Major Schomburgk after having viewed the films, by Mr. Atho Joyce, of
the British Museum, and by Sir Harry Johnston, the famous explorer.



CHAPTER XVII

IN A MOUNTAIN COUNTRY


I forgot to say that owing to the forethought of the chief of Banjeli,
in making all arrangements beforehand for us to film the iron industry
there, we were enabled to get away one day earlier than we anticipated.
According to the itinerary which we had drawn up, we should have left
there on February the 12th, whereas we got away early on the morning of
the 11th.

Up to now, from at all events as far north as Nambiri, my journey had
been one long triumphal progress, of a kind somewhat different from
anything of the kind I had experienced previously. All through the
thickly populated Konkombwa country, the roads--they are mere native
trails--are punctuated throughout their entire length with little
villages, strung out like beads on a string with intervals between
them, and from the very first one past a station there used to issue
in my direction crowds of women and children to welcome me. On meeting
me, they would separate on either side to let me pass, ul-ul-ulling
and waving their hands, then close in behind me, and follow me through
their own village, and on to the next, a mile or so distant, where the
welcome would be repeated by the women and children living at that
place, the others returning to their homes; and so on to the end, the
result being that I used to have a continuous bodyguard, perpetually
renewed, all the way from one station to the other.

Now all this came to an end. We are entering a wilder and more
mountainous country, where villages are few and far between, and the
inhabitants correspondingly sparse. From Banjeli to Bassari, for
instance, a distance of twenty-two miles, we did not pass a single
settlement that could properly be called a village. The road is a
narrow winding native path, just wide enough to allow of two people
riding abreast. Nothing more pleasant and exhilarating can be conceived
than to ride thus in the cool of the African morn along a road where
every turn reveals new beauties. It was nowhere level, but all up hill
and down dale, some of the steep ascents making us rather pity Hodgson,
who had gone on ahead, as usual, on his beloved "bike." Presently we
reached the Katscha River, which flows hereabouts at the bottom of a
deep gully, cut by the raging torrents that, during the rainy season,
hurl themselves down from the adjacent mountains. It is crossed by a
native wooden bridge, which, however, looked so frail and insecure, and
was moreover in so wretched a state of repair, that we preferred to go
through the river, now nearly dry.

The descent to the river bed was as nearly perpendicular as a steeply
sloping bank can be; nevertheless, our horses slithered down without
mishap, as only African ponies can. By the way, when I first came
to Togoland, I rather fancied myself as a fearless and accomplished
horsewoman. But I very quickly discovered that a morning canter in the
"Row," or even a stiff cross-country gallop to hounds, constituted but
a poor preparation for African bush-riding. Practically I had to begin
and learn equitation all over again. But I proved an apt pupil--or
at least so I was informed--and now even a deep and steep gully like
this possesses for me no terror, whatever it might have done at the
beginning of the trip.

The usual riverine belt of vegetation that is a feature of all the
Togoland streams had broadened, in the case of the Katscha, into a
beautiful shady forest, and here it had been our intention to halt
and partake of an open-air breakfast, but we had made such good time
on this, the early stage of our journey, that we decided to put on a
few more miles. Nearing Bassari, we came to a big native town, called
Beapabe, which reminded me very much of Bafilo, on account of the
number of houses, and the many fine baobab trees scattered about. Here
we struck the northern end of a fine, well-kept Government road, which
has been built out from Bassari, and which will ultimately extend
upward as far as Mangu, following approximately the route along which
we have come. We did not keep to this road, however, but left it to our
left, and rode through the native market-place, to emerge presently
into a perfectly straight and most beautifully kept avenue of mango
trees. These grew so thickly overhead as to form a complete arched
roof of solid greenery, altogether shutting out the burning rays of the
sun; the only disadvantage being that the fruit sometimes hung so low
down that, in riding along, it was liable, unless one was very careful,
to catch one in the face, with results the reverse of pleasant.
Following this avenue for about half a mile we arrived at Bassari.

The station is built very much on the lines of an old Norman castle,
with a castellated tower, and a broad raised verandah fronting a
level, well-kept parade ground shaded by fine trees, the whole backed
by forest-clad mountains. Here we were welcomed by Mr. Muckè, the
Sub-District Commissioner, one of the oldest officials of Togoland,
and one of Dr. Kersting's most able assistants. He has been in the
Government service ever since 1898, and has taken part in practically
every piece of Togo history that has been made during the intervening
years.

Schomburgk knew him through meeting him here during his previous trip,
and the worthy gentleman's only regret was that we had been unable
to be with him for the Christmas festivities, of which he gave us a
glowing description. We soon convinced him, however, that we could not
possibly have managed it; and he then led us, talking all the while,
to where he had prepared for us a most substantial and appetising
breakfast, to which, needless to say, we did full justice. He had also
very kindly got ready for us, and placed at our disposal, the "Massow
House," so called, I was informed, after a certain Lieutenant Massow,
a pioneer of empire who died in northern Togo in the early days, while
engaged in opening up that part of the territory. It is a square house,
standing ninety feet above the station, with baobab and other trees all
round it, affording a welcome shade. The view from it is one of the
finest I had yet seen in Togoland, with picturesque wooded mountains in
front and rear, and all around. Here we stayed five days, and were very
comfortable; what made it seem more than ordinarily homelike, being
the fact that it was provided with windows. This may not sound much to
untravelled Europeans, but it was the first windowed house I had slept
in since leaving Lome, six months previously, for although at Mangu
Captain von Hirschfeld's house had windows, ours had none.

There were, however, some slight drawbacks to residence here. One was
that there were no stables for our horses, these being down at the
station. We therefore had to tether them under some of the biggest of
the trees, for we were afraid that our horse boys would not look after
them properly, or at least not to our liking, once they were freed from
our constant personal supervision. Another drawback was the scarcity
of water. We had to buy every single drop we used, paying at the rate
of a halfpenny a calabash for it, from the natives, who brought it on
their heads all the way from the Kamaa River, a good two hours distant.
It was not good water either, being brown and nasty looking; but it had
to serve us for all purposes until Mr. Muckè detailed some prisoners
to fetch us water for our personal use from a spring situated some
distance up in the mountains that towered at the back of our house.
We still, however, had to purchase water for our horses, and for
washing purposes, &c. This came rather expensive at a halfpenny a small
calabash full, for we had seven horses, and they needed, of course, to
be watered regularly twice a day. However, there was no help for it,
and Mr. Muckè did his best to atone for the dearth of water by sending
us daily plentiful supplies of the most delicious, thirst-quenching
fruits--limes, oranges, paw-paws, bananas, &c.--and beautiful flowers
from his own garden.

We went out riding a good deal during our stay at Bassari. All round
the station--another legacy from Dr. Kersting's days--there are
beautiful tree plantations, similar to those at Mangu, and these are
kept in apple-pie order by Mr. Muckè, who is as proud of Bassari
almost as Bassari is of him. In the evening, after dinner, he used to
hold us spellbound by the hour together, telling us stories of the
olden days, when all the country round about was unsafe, and almost
unknown, and when warfare with the wild natives was practically
endemic. Muckè and Bassari! Bassari and Muckè! The two terms are
identical--interchangeable. He has been christened the "King of
Bassari," and with reason, for he rules his sub-district with a rod
of iron, and yet with a fine sense of justice that makes the natives
respect, and at the same time fear, him. Schomburgk, who has the
greatest respect and liking for him, remarked one day that he was of
the class that helps build up colonial empires without talking about
it, and I fancy that that very aptly describes him. If he has a fault
it is that he is rather too fond of his Bassari. A story is told of
him, which may or may not be true, but which at all events fits him
to a nicety. It concerns a visit he paid to Germany's capital during
one of his infrequent leaves of absence. He was asked what he thought
of it. "Ah--Berlin!" he is reported to have remarked, drawing out his
words in his slow, thoughtful, methodical way. "Well--yes! Berlin is
all very well, of course. But"--with a sudden brightening of the eyes
and a quick acceleration of speech--"give me Bassari." The yarn is
not new of course; it is merely one of the many variants of _Punch's_
old-time joke anent the Peeblesshire Scotsman who declared, after his
first trip to France, that Paris was "a graun' city, mon, but gie me
Peebles for playsur." But, as I have already intimated, it exactly
hits off Muckè, and Muckè's attitude towards that little unregarded
strip of West African soil whereon he reigns an uncrowned monarch. A
curious attribute of Muckè's is that, although the soul of hospitality,
his fondness for a practical joke will sometimes go to the length of
permitting a white stranger to pass his domicile; and this, in a land
where peripatetic white men are as rare as butterflies on an iceberg--a
more apt simile would be ice in Hades--is a sufficiently strange trait
to merit mention, the more especially as it was the cause of Hodgson
going without his breakfast for ten minutes longer than he otherwise
need have done. And for Hodgson to go without his breakfast for even
five minutes beyond the appointed time, was an eventuality that Hodgson
did not greatly appreciate. I need not say more.

Well, Hodgson had gone on ahead of us from Banjeli, as I have already
said, on his "bike," and when he cycled level with Muckè's house he
just gave it a sidelong, passing glance, and went on, never dreaming
but that if it were the residence of a fellow white man he would step
outside and give him a hail. Muckè, however, did nothing of the kind,
but sat tight, and when his boy rushed in crying, "Master! Master!
There's a white man gone past!" Muckè simply replied, "Is there? Well,
don't bother about that; he'll come back again." And he did, after
having over-shot his destination some little distance; whereupon Muckè
remarked, "You must be fond of cycling, but come inside now and have
some breakfast." Two more facts about Mr. Muckè. He owns the finest and
handsomest horse I saw in all my journeyings through Togoland. It is a
perfectly black stallion of Arab breed, and came from the far interior
of the French Sudan, whence it was brought by a Hausa trader, a journey
of many months' duration. Such horses are difficult to acquire, and
Schomburgk badly wanted to buy this one on his first trip, but Muckè
would not sell. Another great pet of Muckè's--he simply idolises his
horse--is a tame bush buck, which he keeps in a wire enclosure outside
his house.

Bassari is the principal market for the raw iron, which is mined and
smelted at Banjeli. Here it comes to be made up into the finished
articles, as mentioned in the previous chapter, and our reason for
staying here so long was that we wanted to film these finishing
processes, the native smiths at work, and so on. When we were not
taking pictures, we put in our time exploring the surrounding country,
which is exceedingly picturesque and pretty, and also densely
populated. The climate, too, is healthier and less enervating than
most other parts of Togo; the great drawback being the terrific
thunderstorms and the heavy moist heat of the rainy season.

We also paid a few visits to local notables, chief amongst whom is
the Mallam Mohammed. Everybody in Bassari, and for miles around,
knows the Mallam, who is a sort of local Pooh-Bah. For one thing, he
is the richest native in these parts. For another, his interests are
practically unlimited, so that he has a finger in every local pie. He
is, for instance, a great dealer in horses, trading as far north as
the French Sudan, and with Dahomey on the one side, and the Gold Coast
Colony on the other. He also occupies the important and responsible
post--as regards a big place like Bassari--of _sery-chi-songu_, or
head-keeper of the native rest-house and compound, known together
as the songu, and this carries with it the further responsible--and
lucrative--position of tax-collector to the Government. Besides
all these things he is head schoolmaster at an open-air school for
natives which he has established, and where the little children,
sitting cross-legged on mats under a shady tree, are taught the
Mohammedan religion, and to read and write. He is very proud of this
unique school, and with reason, for the scholars seemed to me to be a
wonderfully intelligent lot of laddies. I was especially struck with
their painstaking writing of the neat and pretty Arabic characters,
which is done on soft slabs of wood, with a pointed stick and native
made ink. It was really astonishing to see the beautiful results they
obtain with these primitive writing materials.

Of course he invited us to his house, where I was introduced,
collectively and separately, to his eight wives. These ladies possess
a certain degree of culture, and most of them are good-looking; one,
a Fulani girl of light, almost white complexion, being really pretty.
The chief wife showed me, with evident pride, all their household
treasures, their European crockery, brass dishes and cooking utensils,
and so forth. I was greatly struck by the contrast these afforded to
much of the native furnishings. For instance, her bed was made of mud,
baked hard, a mere raised platform, similar to that used by the Sumbu
women for grinding corn on, and on top of this was a mattress and rug
of native manufacture, surmounted by a European mosquito-curtain, of
which she was exceedingly proud. There were numbers of children about
the place, some quite pretty, and ranging in hue from jet black to
light chocolate colour.

Afterwards all the eight paid me a return visit at our house. I had
invited them to afternoon tea, but found out on their arrival that they
did not drink tea, preferring cocoa, which, to suit their palates, I
had to make inordinately sweet. They put in an appearance arrayed in
their smartest lavelaps, each one heavily be-jewelled, and with faces
rouged and powdered, and eyes and lashes and eyebrows painted black,
after the fashion of a stage actress's make-up. They chewed kola-nuts
incessantly, and their nails were dyed red with henna. But what struck
me most about my visitors was the inordinate quantities of scent they
used. What particular kind of scent it was, I do not know. I have never
smelt anything exactly like it before or since. But I do know that it
was so heavy and overpowering that I felt a difficulty in breathing the
same atmosphere. The slightest movements of their wraps sent invisible
clouds of it wafting and rolling about the room, and when once five of
them stirred suddenly and quickly in unison, they set going an aromatic
hurricane that made me gasp, and cough, and choke. However, the wild
bees, who swarmed in countless numbers in the big baobab trees near our
house, seemed to like it, for they buzzed round my visitors in clouds
incommoding them so greatly that, after two or three ineffectual
attempts to drive them off, they had to sit, during the remainder of
their stay, with their heads and shoulders shrouded in their lavelaps.

After they had been with me for some time an infant started to cry
lustily, to my great surprise, for I had seen no signs of a baby up
till then, nor had any mention been made of one. I suppose I looked the
astonishment I felt, for they all began to laugh, and the chief wife
rose, unrolled her outer lavelap, and after a further unwrapping of
shawls, produced a fine, healthy child of six weeks, or thereabouts,
from a sort of sling in which she had been carrying it between her
shoulders at the back. She then handed it to another of the wives, who
suckled it, so I suppose she was the mother. Then, when it had had its
fill, it was passed on to yet a third woman--not the chief wife--who
wrapped it up as before, and slung it behind her back under her lavelap.

[Illustration:

  _Photo by_      _Miss M. Gehrts_

A COUPLE OF YOUNG "SUPERS"]

[Illustration: A STUDY IN WHITE AND BLACK

Scene from a native drama being acted for the cinema.]

In order to amuse and entertain them, I showed them my European clothes
and jewellery. The former interested them greatly, but my rings and
bracelets did not appear to impress them. They seemed to consider them
too small and trivial to be of any particular value. They themselves
wore numbers of very large and heavy silver bangles and finger and
thumb rings, together with massive gold brooches of native workmanship
and design. That evening, on their return, they sent me food of
their own cooking. It was, however, so terribly peppered that a single
spoonful brought the tears to my eyes and nearly choked me; so I gave
it to my boys, who devoured it greedily, smacking their lips over it
with many grunts and gurgles of ecstatic approval.

During our stay at Bassari, Herr von Parpart, District Commissioner of
Sokode, arrived with his escort. They had ridden the whole distance
from Sokode to Bassari, about forty miles, in the one day, a truly
wonderful performance considering the roads they had to traverse, of
which more anon. As a result of their journey, Parpart was somewhat
tired, so I did not see him that night, and the following morning
very early he was up and away to Banjeli before I rose. I was rather
disappointed at being unable to make his acquaintance, but as it turned
out, it was only a pleasure deferred, for we were destined to see a
good deal of him later on during our stay at Sokode.

It was at Bassari one evening, on returning from our ride, that I first
heard close up, and was able to observe, the curious death wailing
and other ceremonious celebrations precedent to a native funeral,
concerning which I shall have more to say presently. I had frequently,
when on my travels, heard these same weird sounds afar off, but on this
occasion I was brought into actual contact with them, and the result
was an almost painful shock to my nervous system. The wailing and
lamentation emanated from the compound occupied by the native soldiers
attached to the station, and, on inquiring, I found that they were
mourning for a little child who had died that day, a baby of about two
weeks.



CHAPTER XVIII

A WOMAN "PALAVER"


I have entitled the following chapter "A Woman Palaver," and this it
is--no more. Men may skip it, if they like. Women, I venture to think,
will find it interesting. In what I have set down there is, I suppose,
little that is of real ethnographical or anthropological value.
Nevertheless, the facts were obtained at first hand, and are the result
of many long and confidential talks with the women of many diverse
native tribes, and of my own observations and deductions, taken and
recorded on the spot. The latter portion of the chapter, dealing with
caravan life and cookery from a white woman's point of view, I have
been led to insert in the hope, which I believe to be well founded,
that it may serve a useful purpose in the case of any other woman who
may in future visit the West African hinterland under circumstances
similar to those in which I found myself.

Marriage, and its natural corollary, the bearing and rearing of
children, constitute the main features in a native woman's life;
indeed, marriage may be said to be the pivotal point, as it were; round
which all else revolves. Broadly speaking, it is, as amongst most
primitive peoples, a matter of barter, of sale and exchange. Girls are
marketable commodities, just as are cattle, or goats, or fowls, and
are, in fact, interchangeable, a wife being bought by so many of one or
the other, or by so much salt, or coined money, as the case may be.

Frequently, instead of buying a wife outright, the prospective husband
will work for her, exchanging in fact his labour against her value with
his prospective father-in-law. In this way a man can obtain a wife, or
wives, without any capital outlay whatever, and for this reason the
plan is much favoured by the younger and more impecunious natives.
Those who are older and better off naturally prefer to pay cash on the
nail, or its equivalent.

Girls are frequently bought by far-seeing natives as soon as they are
born, and are then considered as betrothed from birth. The price of
such is naturally much less than when they are adult, or approaching
adolescence, for obviously the child may die before attaining to
marriageable age. A girl so betrothed is supposed to keep herself
chaste; but an unbetrothed girl is free by native law to indulge her
sexual appetite as she pleases. If a child is born out of wedlock,
however, it is not necessarily considered to belong to the mother. On
the contrary, the reputed father has the first claim to it by tribal
law; but he must claim it directly it is born, and if the girl disputes
his claim, he must make it good by evidence that will satisfy the
chief, or the village elders, as the case may be. If he fails, then
the child is retained by the mother, and goes with her to the man who
eventually marries her, and who becomes a father to it. As a rule, the
fact of a woman having previously given birth to one or more children,
is no bar to matrimony. Indeed, the native husband seems rather to
prefer it so, for reasons into which I need not enter.

Marriage customs vary widely amongst the different tribes. The
semi-wild Tschokossi people of the far north, for instance, seem to
have, so far as I could discover, no wedding ceremonies whatever of
a fixed settled character, although the occasion is always made one
of feasting and rejoicing. The Tschaudjo, on the other hand, who
profess Mohammedanism and are by comparison civilised, possess a very
elaborate series of marriage rites, which is strictly adhered to. Those
precedent to the actual ceremony, however, are secret, and strangers
are jealously excluded from any participation in them, nor may they be
present even as spectators.

One such wedding took place while I was at Paratau, but although I
tried to gain permission to see the thing from start to finish, I was
unable to. I gathered, however, that the principal feature of the
initial proceedings, so far as the bride was concerned, consisted in
a sort of very rough washing and massaging of her whole body, lasting
throughout the entire night immediately preceding the actual day of
the wedding. This operation took place in a hut set apart for the
purpose, the poor bride being rubbed and scrubbed vigorously by relays
of village women armed with pieces of porous stone, like pumice, and
rough wooden brushes or scrapers, shaped like hair-brushes, but minus
the bristles. The ordeal, which lasted practically from dusk till
dawn, must have been a pretty unpleasant one, judging from the shrieks
and yells that came from the interior of the hut where it was being
carried out. At the same time other women were engaged in buffeting and
harrying the bridegroom; although the treatment meted out to him, I
was informed, was nothing like so violent or painful as that which the
bride had to endure.

However, the latter looked, I am bound to say, none the worse when,
next day, dressed all in white from head to foot, she took her place
with her prospective husband in the bridal procession. Both were
mounted on fine horses--the Tschaudjo, as I have already explained, are
splendid horsemen--and were escorted by multitudes of people, shouting
and firing guns, to the mosque, where the actual ceremony was performed
in accordance with the Mohammedan law. The day's proceedings culminated
in a feast, after which husband and wife were escorted to their hut by
practically all the married women in the neighbourhood, who remained
outside all through the night, yelling at the top of their voices,
singing, capering, and beating drums.

Every native wife, it may be mentioned, is entitled by tribal law to
her own separate hut, no matter how many other wives her husband may
possess, and she can also lay claim to an equal share of his society
and attentions, the rule being for him to stay with each of his women
for five days and nights together in regular rotation. Thus, in the
case of a well-to-do native possessing eight wives, a favourite number
amongst those who can afford it, it takes him exactly forty days to "go
the rounds," so to speak. As I have already intimated, native women
do not resent polygamy in the least; and on the whole they seem happy
and contented. They take, too, considerable pride in their personal
appearance; and they are, speaking generally, far cleaner in their
personal habits than are the men. This is largely due, no doubt, to the
fact that they bathe two or even three times a day, when going down to
the river for water. The men usually bathe once a day, in the evening,
and then it is invariably a warm bath, the water for which is carried
and heated for them by the women. This, however, does not apply to some
of the remote pagan tribes, whose habits are filthy. Practically all
the women I came across spend a lot of time and trouble over dressing
their hair, with the exception of the Konkombwa, who, as already
related, crop their wool quite close. They are also very fond of
cleaning their teeth, using little pointed sticks of soft wood, which
they are everlastingly twiddling in their mouths with their fingers
as they go to and fro for the morning and evening water. Soap they
manufacture themselves in little black balls about the bigness of a
golf ball, and very good soap it is, giving a soft and abundant lather.

The savage woman looks forward to the ordeal of childbirth with none
of those fears and misgivings that so frequently beset her civilised
sister. To her, indeed, it can scarcely be counted an ordeal. She is,
as a rule, a perfectly healthy female animal, and her strong, supple
body has never been compressed by corsets, or had its natural growth
and development hindered by tight-fitting skirts, heavy "tailor-made"
costumes, and other similar sartorial abominations. Every woman, too,
has received during her early girlhood, and quite as a matter of
course, a training in midwifery; but of this I shall have more to say
presently.

Assuming the birth to take place at home, and in her own village,
which, however, by no means always happens, she is taken in hand by her
female friends and relations when the critical moment arrives, and as
a general rule all is over in two hours or thereabouts, and the mother
is frequently up and about again an hour or so later. They are as a
rule, skilful and careful midwives, with two exceptions. The umbilical
cord is nearly always severed in an exceedingly primitive, not to say
rough and ready, fashion, leaving a disfiguring protuberance, which in
after life, amongst peoples who almost invariably go nude, or nearly
so, is unpleasantly noticeable. The other exception has to do with the
observance of a proper degree of cleanliness on the part of the mother,
and those attendant on her, which is largely lacking. On the other
hand, the new-born baby is always well looked after, being given a warm
bath directly after it first enters the world, and otherwise carefully
tended.

When, as not infrequently happens, the birth takes place while the
woman is on a journey, or at work in the fields, the mother does not
allow the incident to unduly distress her. She is quite capable of
looking after herself in her "trouble," and does so, much as do the
wild bush animals amongst whom she lives, and from whom she has learnt
and adopted many practices. In such an eventuality she simply rests
for an hour or two, or perhaps three at the outside, then wraps the
baby in her lavelap, bunches it in a heap behind her back between the
shoulders, and goes on with her work or resumes her journey, as though
nothing untoward had happened. Nor does she appear to suffer any after
ill-effects; although that is not to say that they do not result. And
this is where white women in Africa might do a lot of good on lines
similar to those achieved by the Zenana missions in India; teaching the
native mothers, that is to say, the importance of personal hygiene at
this critical time, of obstetric cleanliness; and likewise impressing
upon native husbands--this is vital--the necessity of permitting women
with new-born babies to be released for a time from their hard domestic
duties.

The native mother suckles her child for from three to four years,
during which time she separates herself entirely from her husband,
who has, almost perforce, to take to himself another wife, assuming
him to be still a monogamist. One reason for this custom, no doubt, is
that the ordinary native food is not sufficiently sustaining for a very
young child, or rather it cannot assimilate enough of it, because its
little stomach is not big enough to hold a sufficient quantity. The
poor little mite does its best, and is assisted thereto by its mother,
who practises regularly upon it a system of forcible feeding of so
drastic and unpleasant a nature as would, I should imagine, quickly
break down the resolution of even the most stubborn of suffragettes.

The thick millet gruel, or thin porridge, called _fu-fu_, which is the
staple diet of the Togoland negro, is simply poured and crammed down
its little throat whenever feeding-time comes round, giving rise to the
peculiar pot-bellied appearance so noticeable in all native children.
One result of this lengthy suckling, coupled with an insufficiency of
any other sort of nourishing food, is a very high rate of infantile
mortality. The mother gets careless as time goes on, does not properly
attend to the cleanliness of her nipples, is guilty herself of all
sorts of imprudences of diet, with the result that the youngster
sickens and dies.

The negro baby at birth is not black. It is either white, or of a very
light yellowish colour; but this gradually darkens, until by the time
it is a month old, it has assumed a chocolate tint, which afterwards
deepens rapidly to the ordinary jet-black of the full-blooded negro.
Another peculiarity I noticed, in the new-born native baby, is its
long, straight hair. This, however, rapidly falls out, to be replaced
in due course by the well-known thick woolly thatch that does duty for
hair on the cranium of the African adult native.

African children learn to walk at a later age than do European
children. This is probably due to the fact that they have,
comparatively speaking, very little practice. As soon as the youngster
is born it is taken to the local ju-ju man, who bestows upon it, for a
consideration, certain charms, or fetishes--a small piece of bone, a
fragment of wood, or a bit of glass, say. These are carefully placed
in the middle of different-sized strings of beads, which are then made
into bracelets for its wrists, into anklets for its legs, and into a
waist-belt. So long as it wears these, which it does constantly, it is
supposed to be secure from the influence of the evil eye. But in order
to make assurance doubly sure, the mother rarely lets the little one
out of her sight. She carries it about with her constantly on her back,
shrouded in her lavelap, from the folds of which, in the case of a
very young child, not even the head protrudes. This method of carrying
the child is rendered easier, owing to the fact that all native women
wear round their waists big bead belts, drawn quite tight with a view
to making their hips look larger and more prominent; a greatly admired
feature. Into these belts the lower edge of the head lavelap is tucked,
affording a comfortable support to baby.

As soon as it does begin to toddle, however, it is, assuming it to
be a girl, given a tiny calabash, and taught to balance it, filled
with water, upon its little head. From now on it becomes a useful unit
in the tribal, or village, organisation. It accompanies its mother
regularly to the river when she goes with the other women to get water;
is taught to sweep out the hut with a little broom, to prepare _fu-fu_,
is taken into the forest and instructed what herbs and wild vegetables
are good for food, and which must be avoided. In short, the child is
trained in the ordinary domestic and other duties that fall to the lot
of the average native woman.

At about the age of ten or twelve, assuming her parents are able to
afford the expense, the little girl undergoes an extraordinary ordeal,
generally referred to euphemistically as being "sent into the bush."
This means that she quits her home and her parents, and is placed in
charge of a fetish woman, who leads her away to a hut, or rather a
collection of huts, in the forest, far from the habitations of men.
Here is a very important personage, a "mammy," generally referred to as
the "Women's Queen," and under her care and tuition, and that of her
assistant fetish women, the little girl remains for a period varying
from two to five or six months, or even longer.

During this period she receives instruction in the art and practice of
midwifery, and has to undergo the painful, and to our minds revolting,
operation of introcision, corresponding to the rite of circumcision,
to which her brothers, if she has any, are called upon to submit
themselves at about the same age. This much is known; but what other
practices are carried on in these women's fetish groves cannot be
told. No man may approach anywhere near any of them under penalty of
instant death, and the women's lips are sealed regarding them. Even
to their husbands, it is said, they dare not speak concerning them,
nor to any uninitiated women. I made several attempts to get them
to tell me personally something concerning the matter, but without
result. At Atakpame I made the acquaintance of one of these "women's
queens," a charming old pagan, rejoicing in the very Christianlike
name of Maria. She bore herself with the dignity of the abbess of
a cloister, as indeed in a sense she was, and she had the smallest
and most beautifully formed hands, wrists, and ankles I ever beheld
in a negress. She was most affable and courteous, and I tried hard
to get her to tell me something of herself and her work. Beyond,
however, telling me that her high office was hereditary, her mother,
grandmother, and great-grandmother having held it before her, and
that she "taught the girls for their good," she would vouchsafe me no
information whatever.

One thing, however, is certain; the woman who, either owing to the
poverty of her parents or from any cause, has not been "sent into the
bush" as a girl, is looked down upon as an inferior by all the other
women of her tribe. So much is this so, that women of twenty, or even
thirty years of age, who have been long married, and perhaps borne two
or three children, are not infrequently handed over to the fetish women
by their husbands, who themselves pay the initiation fees, in order
that the stigma may be removed from them.

The status of married women amongst the West African native tribes
varies widely. Among the pagan Tschokossi of the extreme north, the
wife is a chattel and a beast of burden, and her condition is very
little, if any, better than that of a domestic slave. The Tschaudjo
woman, on the other hand, is a household queen, lording it over
everybody, including her husband, who must yield implicit obedience to
her lightest whim. In between these two extremes come the great mass
of the native women, who are drudges certainly, but willing drudges,
and with their rights and privileges well defined and carefully guarded
by tribal law and custom. Probably they are neither better nor worse
off, according to their lights, than the majority of working wives
elsewhere. Certainly, they appear to be happy and contented; conjugal
quarrels are comparatively rare; and poverty, as we understand the
term in Europe, is practically unknown. The worst off are the widows,
who are usually looked down upon and disregarded, although there are
plentiful exceptions to this general rule. In the old days the wives of
a chief, or other big man, were buried with him; their legs and arms
being first broken with a heavy club, after which they were thrown,
still breathing, into the open grave. But these barbarous practices
have now been, to all intents and purposes, done away with; and now
the widow simply shaves her head, and wears a white bandage round her
forehead, as signs of mourning. On the man's grave are placed broken
guns, bows, arrows, and so forth; on the woman's are calabashes and
cooking-pots, also broken, and in each case there are supplies of food
to enable the dead person to subsist during his or her long journey to
the supposedly far-away land of shades.

The cultivating, gathering, and preparation of food constitutes the
most important part of the native wife's duties, as it does, I suppose,
amongst all primitive peoples. Native cooking may be almost entirely
summed up in one word--porridge. This, however, is not made altogether
of meal or flour, but is mixed with herbs and wild vegetables, and is
invariably so highly seasoned with native pepper, derived from the wild
pepper plant, as to be uneatable by Europeans.

For this reason, if for no other, one is obliged to carefully
superintend one's own cooking when on trek. The ordinary native cook
_will_ put pepper into all dishes, if he is not carefully watched,
and he uses the pepper-pot with no sparing hand. The matter of
superintendence and oversight of the culinary department fell to my
lot all the time we were on our travels. All our provisions were
carried with us up country from Atakpame in old kerosene tins, which
a native artisan had previously fitted with hinged lids and locks and
keys. These tins, carefully cleansed from all smell or taint of oil,
constitute the very best receptacles possible for the conveyance of
perishable commodities, as they are white-ant proof and weather-proof.

Each box, as I have previously explained, held a little of everything,
and I entered in my store book before starting the contents of each.
In this way it was easy at any time to get at any particular article,
and I was able to check any tendency to extravagance on the part of our
cook; a most necessary precaution when dealing with natives.

Cooking in the bush, I need hardly say, is a very different thing from
cooking at home. Largely it is carried out in the open; or at best in
a small low hut, with little or no ventilation, and of course minus a
chimney. In this latter case, as there is, of course, no outlet for the
smoke, the mistress--in this case myself--usually finds it impossible
to remain in her "kitchen" for more than a minute or so at a time, and
the superintendence of the preparation of a meal resolves itself into a
succession of dashes in and out--mostly out--and a continuous rubbing
and wiping of smarting eyeballs.

One thing I never dared trust to the cook, and that was the boiling of
the water; not only that used for drinking, but also that for washing
up in, and for our personal ablutions. It all had to be boiled for a
full ten minutes by my watch, and always under my personal supervision.
This was done outside the hut on a special stove, but the operation
was only carried out systematically and regularly by means of constant
pertinacity and insistence on my part, to which Messa, our cook, was
wont continuously to oppose as great a measure of passive resistance as
he dared. The one objection to boiled water is that, to quote Artemus
Ward's dictum anent "biled crow," it "ain't nice." Its taste is about
as insipid as it is possible to conceive, and a prolonged course of it
as a beverage is unthinkable. Consequently we drank tea when on trek
almost entirely; either hot or cold, and flavoured with limes.

Barring his rooted objection to boiling water, and his undue
predilection for the pepper-pot, traits which, I am given to
understand, he shared with all native servants, Messa was a good cook.
He could dish up a fowl so that it looked and tasted like anything
but a fowl; an invaluable attribute in a cook in a country where a
surfeit of fowls, as fowls, is so quickly and invariably produced.
He used to buy for a penny a bone as big as a small log of wood from
the villagers, split it open, and serve us delicious marrow on toast.
His soups, made out of the most unpromising materials--he used to
give us one kind the basis of which was burnt monkey-nuts that was a
gastronomic dream--were simply delicious.

His great fault was that he would use tinned stuff whenever possible,
even when other fresh food of the same kind was available. For
instance, we had amongst other canned vegetables several tins of
spinach, of which we were all very fond. Only when it was all gone did
I discover that spinach of a most delicious quality--far better than
the tinned--grew wild in the bush all along our line of route.

The greatest luxury in the vegetable line up in the bush is the
ordinary potato, which cannot be got to grow anywhere in Togo. We had
brought one load, 60 lb., up country with us; and when we wanted to
give anybody an extra special treat, we would cook them a few potatoes.
I remember on one occasion, on our way up, asking our good friend Mr.
Kuepers, the schoolmaster at Sokode, to breakfast with us at Paratau,
where we were living, the distance between the two places being about
three miles. He demurred somewhat, seeking excuses, for to come meant
an early rise and an early ride. But when I told him that we had got
eggs and bacon, and European fresh potatoes, he agreed to come like a
shot. Our great ambition was to take some of the potatoes on to Mangu,
and we did succeed, by exercising considerable self-denial, in saving
about 15 lb. Then, to our grief and consternation, they began suddenly
to go bad. Each morning Messa would sort them carefully out, laying
them to dry in the sun, and bringing the black ones to me, saying, with
a sorrowful face: "Little mother, four more--or six or seven as the
case might be--potatoes gone bad." Eventually, by bestowing upon those
remaining as much devoted care and attention as a fond mother does to
her new-born babe, or a dog fancier on a litter of pedigree puppies,
we got enough good ones into Mangu to give each European there three
for his Christmas dinner. Yams, which are the native equivalent to
our potatoes, I did not like at all at first; but in the end, mashed
and served with butter, I grew to find them at least palatable. Our
tinned butter, by the way, became after a while of the consistency
of oil, from the constant jolting on the carrier's heads, and could
only be used for cooking. The tinned bacon was the best of the canned
provisions, keeping good and sweet to the last. It was, however, very
expensive, costing 4_s._ 8_d._ a pound tin. Native eggs were everywhere
plentiful and cheap, costing about a shilling the hundred. They are
small, but nice tasting. Fruit, too, was plentiful, especially bananas,
of which Messa used to make all sorts of tasty dishes. But when I
wanted to give the men a real treat, I used to prepare for them a
special Hamburg dish, consisting of dried apples and plums, boiled with
bacon and little suet dumplings.



CHAPTER XIX

BACK IN SOKODE


The first stage of our journey to Malfakasa, the half-way house, so
to speak, between Bassari and Sokode, led us down to the Kamaa River
along a beautiful, well-kept road, planted on either side with mango
trees. The Kamaa in the dry season is, like most West African rivers,
practically without water; but during the rainy season it is frequently
quite unfordable, and many a poor native, I was informed, has lost his
life in its treacherous whirlpools, while attempting a crossing that
looks perhaps easy, but is in reality excessively dangerous.

[Illustration: A NATIVE VILLAGE IN NORTHERN TOGO

This village, though built in the Konkombwa style, is inhabited by
people of the Tschokossi tribe. The guinea corn stalks are left
standing round the place as a form of protection used in the old days
against the poisoned arrows of their enemies.]

To us, of course, the crossing presented no difficulty. The road on the
far side of the river, too, though rocky, is fairly good, undulating
up and down, and twining in and out amongst an open bush country until
the foot of the Malfakasa Mountain is reached. Then commences a fearful
climb of about two hours' duration. For the greater part of the way
riding was out of the question. We had to lead our horses, clambering
painfully up slippery slopes, dragging them after us, often threading
our way between huge boulders where there was hardly room for them
to pass. Arrived at the top of the shoulder of the mountain, we had to
go along the ridge for about half an hour, then followed an exceedingly
steep, well-nigh perpendicular descent of about two hundred feet, to
the almost dry boulder-strewn bed of a small stream; and out of which a
corresponding though not so steep rise led up to a little plateau where
the rest-house is situated.

From here a lovely view is obtained over the whole surrounding country,
reminding me somewhat of that seen from our old house at Aledjo. The
round huts, too, were very clean and comfortable; but, owing to lack
of room on the tiny plateau, they are situated rather too close to
the native compound and songu, whence the smell of cooking, and other
even more potent odours, was wafted in a manner more pronounced than
pleasant. I noticed this the more on account of a splitting headache
from which I suffered, due no doubt to the heat and the hardships
of the ascent. I was, too, exceedingly tired; so for the last time
I rolled myself in my horse-rug, with my saddle for a pillow, and
despite the pain from my throbbing temples, was soon lost in blissful
unconsciousness.

I awoke feeling almost my old self, and able to properly appreciate
the magnificent scenery that surrounded us on all sides. One needs
to spend, as I had done, two or three months traversing the brown
sun-baked veldt of the northern Togoland Sudan, in order to fully
enjoy the sight of these verdure-clad mountains. Here one seemed
alone with Nature, and with Nature's God. There was no village
near, only a few resident negroes to look after the rest-house
for European travellers, and its native equivalent, the songu.
To right and left, in front and behind, wherever the eye ranged,
it rested on a wilderness of wild mountain country, peak on peak
jumbled together in chaotic, yet magnificent confusion. To the north
was the outstanding mass of Tabalo Mountain, where is situated a
curious village, called by the natives Uro-Ganede-Bo, which means
"The-Place-where-the-Crown-Prince-is-educated." Here, in the olden days
of Togo native history, the eldest son of the reigning Uro, or king,
of Paratau, lived alone with his tutors, who instructed him in the
arts of war and of peace, and in the duties appertaining to a native
ruler. The place, I was informed, is practically impregnable to attack
from a native army, no matter how large, and even a European force
would find it a hard nut to crack. Here, in this mountain fortress, the
young prince remained closely secluded until he came of age, and even
afterwards he was only permitted to pay an occasional brief, flying
visit to Paratau, never permanently leaving his rocky retreat until
such time as his father, the old Uro, died, and he was called down with
much ceremony, and the beating of many drums, to reign in his stead.

We are now looking forward eagerly to a return to civilisation. At
Sokode, our next stage, we are in touch with the telegraph once more,
and there are rumours that a big motor car has been put upon the road
since we have been away, and is available for the journey down to the
rail-head at Atakpame. It is time we emerged from the wilderness, for
our stock of provisions is beginning to give out. Here at Malfakasa
we opened our last tin of condensed milk. The last of our coffee and
butter we used before reaching Bassari. Our table salt gave out long
previously, and we have had to make shift with the coarse native
article, carefully sifted.

The country round here is the home of a curious little bush fowl, which
looks exactly like an English bantam. We used to see them running
alongside the road on our way up, and when I first caught sight of
one I called out to Schomburgk: "Hullo! We must be nearing a village.
Here's a chicken straying about the track." Later on I learnt that they
were wild birds, and indigenous to the mountain regions of West Africa.

Malfakasa means "Long Gun"; malfa--gun, and kasa--long; and the story
goes that it derived its name from a famous outlaw who, many years
ago, used to sit up here with a gun and rob the caravans, and levy
blackmail on such solitary travellers as desired to pass. Of course
I cannot vouch for the truth of this yarn, which is in the nature of
a native tradition, but it seems to me that it is very likely to be
true. Anyhow, it is difficult to conceive a better place for a robber
stronghold than this rocky, isolated peak, with its steep, tortuous,
boulder-strewn approaches.

After resting the usual part of a day and a night at Malfakasa, we set
out for Sokode very early the next morning, the conversation during the
first part of the journey turning almost entirely on whether we should
be able to secure the motor car of which we had heard, to take us down
to Atakpame. If this is available, and native rumours crystallize as
to its existence, at all events, the nearer we get to Sokode, then we
shall be able to accomplish in one day what otherwise will take us
seven. Moreover, just south of Sokode one enters the tsetse-fly belt,
which extends downwards as far as a point above twenty-five miles north
of Lome; so if we cannot get the car, we must either travel by hammock
and bicycle, or else ride our horses down after dark, as these animals
cannot, of course, be taken through a fly-infested area in the daytime.

The view on the road leading down from Malfakasa is fully as beautiful
and picturesque as that leading up to it from the north. On quitting
the plateau, one sees far away to the north-east the Sudu Mountains,
and in between the great level Tim plain. This plain, or steppe, got
its name in rather a curious way. Mostly the various districts, or
areas of country, in West Africa take their names from the tribes
inhabiting them. Thus, one speaks of the Konkombwa country, the Gourma
country, and so on. Now the Tim plain is inhabited by our old friends
the Tschaudjo, who, as I have previously explained, came riding on
horses from the north, conquering or driving out the aborigines before
them, and harrying the country with fire and sword. The invaders were
called by the original inhabitants of the soil Kotokoli, which means
"warriors" or "robbers," the two terms being interchangeable, and,
amongst primitive peoples, frequently identical; and the strange,
barbaric "lingo" they spoke--strange and barbaric that is to say to
the peaceful aborigines--was dubbed by them "tim." When they took
possession of the plain, and settled there, the neighbouring tribes no
longer cared, perhaps no longer dared, to call them by the opprobrious
name of Kotokoli (robbers), and so they used to refer to them as the
folk who spoke "tim," and in time this became a general term for the
country inhabited by them. It is perhaps the only instance in West
Africa of a land being named after a language, and not after a people.

After a not unpleasant and interesting twenty-mile ride, we at length
reached Sokode, where the District Commissioner, Herr von Parpart,
being still absent, we made a bee-line for the post office. Here we
found a huge mail awaiting us, and many cablegrams. We soon set the
wires humming in return; in fact, we indulged in a regular telegraphic
orgie: after which we went over to the house of our old friend Mr.
Kuepers, the Government schoolmaster at the station, from whom we
received a most hearty and hospitable welcome. We also heard from him
full particulars concerning the motor car, about the very existence of
which up till now we had been more or less doubtful. It was, he told
us, a big and powerful automobile, capable not only of carrying our
entire party, but also of transporting our personal luggage, leaving
only the heavy baggage to be carried by man transport. It had been put
on the road by the Togo Company, and was now at Atakpame, whence it
could be summoned by telegraph, the cost of hiring it for the journey
being ninepence per mile.

This, of course, was splendid news, and put us all in the best of
spirits, which were further enhanced by the receipt of a second
communication from the Moving Picture Sales Agency in London, saying
that all the rest of the films to hand had turned out well, and were of
the highest possible quality. That night we stayed at the rest-house
near the station, and sat up late talking of home and friends. The
one drop of bitterness in our overflowing cup of happiness was the
knowledge that we should now have to part from our horses, to whom we
had become very much attached. Next day, however, we received a wire
from the Hon. W. H. Grey, whom we had met on the steamer on the outward
voyage, offering to take over all our animals, and to transport them
to Accra, where they would be well cared for and looked after. This,
again, was very acceptable news, for it would have caused us infinite
pain and regret to have had to sell the faithful animals, that had
carried us safely for so many hundreds of miles, back to the natives,
to be ill-treated as only a native can ill-treat a horse, and to be
tortured by the horrible bits they habitually use. Nevertheless, when
they left that night for the coast, after a final caress and a feed of
sugar, we all felt a bit down-hearted. I know I felt it like parting
from old friends. Schomburgk had detailed a soldier to accompany them
on the downward journey, and had given him the strictest and most
minute instructions as to each day's itinerary. He was also warned
on no account to permit them to travel before nightfall, after which
the dreaded tsetse-fly sleeps. This is, of course, the insect that is
responsible for the fatal sleeping-sickness in man. We, however, saw
no cases of this terrible disease while we were in Togo, although it
is known to exist there and according to some accounts is spreading.
As regards domestic animals--horses, oxen, and so forth--they can be
moved safely through the worst fly-belts if proper care be taken. They
must be shut up in a hut during the daytime, and for preference in a
hut situated in or near a village, since the tsetse invariably shuns
the habitations of man, preferring to live out its life in the low,
unhealthy localities it most frequents, near to water, stagnant if
possible, and with plenty of thick tropical undergrowth wherein it can
breed and take refuge from its many enemies.

We stayed five days in Sokode, paying visits, resting from the fatigue
of our long journey, and generally enjoying ourselves. Amongst other
notable people we called upon, was the Mallam of Dedaure. "Mallam," I
perhaps ought to explain, meant originally a priest or teacher, but the
term is now applied loosely in West Africa to any native who, owing to
his wealth or learning, has raised himself far above the common herd.
This particular Mallam struck me as being absolutely the finest-looking
native I had seen during our trip. Tall, beautifully proportioned,
with clear-cut aquiline features, a small well-kept beard, and always
exquisitely dressed, he would have been a striking figure anywhere,
let alone out here in the heart of the African bush. Schomburgk said
he was the best specimen of a native he had come across anywhere in
Africa, and I can quite believe him. I imagine, though, that he is by
no means a full-blooded Togo native, but has Arab blood in his veins,
and probably a goodly proportion of it. He was a well-educated man, and
before we left he wrote on a board in exquisite Arabic characters what
he assured me was a eulogistic account, and personal description, of my
humble self.

What impressed me most during my stay in Sokode, however, was the
splendidly-appointed Government school, of which Mr. Kuepers is the
principal. He is assisted by several native teachers, and it is really
wonderful to see the way in which the scholars--all boys--from the bush
villages hereabouts assimilate the knowledge that is put before them.
Mr. Kuepers assured me that they make far apter and better pupils than
do European children of a similar age. Their minds seem to be more
quick and ready to receive outside impressions. It is like writing
with a new pen on a perfectly blank sheet of paper, or sowing seed in
virgin soil. And this rapid progress they make is the more remarkable,
in view of the fact that these little African kiddies, when they begin
to attend school, have first to be taught the German language, or at
least enough of it to enable them to understand their lessons, to
grasp the purport of the questions asked, and to frame their answers.
Unfortunately, however, this quickness of perception, and the desire to
learn, does not last beyond a certain age. Directly the boy begins to
blossom into a man, which in this climate and amongst the black races
is somewhere between the thirteenth and the fourteenth year, he comes
to a dead stop as it were. Restless and uneasy, he cannot be brought
to fix his mind upon his tasks, and seizes the first opportunity to
return to his native village, where, it is to be feared, he quickly
forgets most, if not all, of what he has learnt. There are exceptions,
of course, but this is the general rule. In the pregnant words of one
of the native teachers, spoken with no touch of lightness, but solemnly
and even sadly: "When the young native Afrikander begins to think
about women, he thinks no longer any more about lessons."

On one of my visits to the school, I was asked to put some questions to
the children, and I asked a small boy of eight or thereabouts, "What
is a mouse?" His answer, transcribed word for word from my note-book,
was as follows: "A mouse is a small animal, with four legs, two eyes,
and a thin long tail; on its back are brown hairs, and it has white
hairs under its stomach." The description is incomplete, but I doubt
if one English or German child out of a hundred, of a like age, could
have given offhand as good a one. I also asked a class generally the
old, old "catch" question in mental arithmetic of our childhood's days:
"If a herring and a half cost three-halfpence, what is the price of
eleven herrings?" I had previously announced that I would give a penny
to every child who answered it correctly, and that I would allow them
three minutes by my watch to think it out. It was most interesting to
watch their thoughtful, intent little black faces, as they wrestled
inwardly with the puzzling problem. When time was called, hardly a
child but gave some sort of an answer, many being obviously mere
guess-work; but two of the scholars earned their pennies, and more
than earned them, for not only were their answers correct, but they
explained to me how they arrived at them.

[Illustration: KONKOMBWA AT ARCHERY PRACTICE

These people are still in the bow-and-arrow stage of martial evolution;
nor are the bows they use remarkable for power or strength of
construction. Their arrows, however, are invariably poisoned, and the
slightest scratch from one means death.]

The children are very prettily mannered. If one meets a group of them
on the road, they will line up, stand rigidly to attention, and give
one a smiling "Good morning." If, as frequently happens, one comes
across them seated by a stream, and repeating their lessons together
in the sort of a sing-song chorus they greatly affect, the same thing
happens. Of course, however, these children are picked children. Only
a certain number are taken from each village, and not above a certain
number in all. At present the sum total for whom accommodation is
available is about one hundred; but new school buildings are being
erected; then the classes will be very largely augmented. The children
are taken entire charge of by the Government during the time they
are at school. A small daily sum is allowed each child for food and
lodging, this being handed over _pro rata_ to certain approved native
women living in the village, who undertake in return to board and sleep
so many of them. Each child is also given by the Government a little
blue smock, and books, slates, pencils, and so forth are of course
provided free.

On the evening before the day we had fixed for our departure, Herr
von Parpart asked us to dinner. This gentleman, by the way, was not
at Sokode when we were here on our upward journey. If he had been, we
certainly should not have stayed at Paratau. He is a most courteous,
considerate man, who radiates energy, kindness, and good-nature;
altogether a splendid example of the best type of German official.
At the dinner-party were a Mr. and Mrs. Dehn, who were going up to
Bassari to relieve Mr. Muckè, who was going home on leave. It follows,
therefore, that she will be the second white woman in Togoland north of
Sokode.

Prior to going in to dinner, we were seated outside the house on a
little hillock, the top of which had been artificially flattened,
chatting together and enjoying the cool evening air. It was a dark
night, with very little moonlight. Suddenly, from a grove behind us,
came the sound of children's voices singing an old German part-song.
It was a choir of Mr. Kuepers' little scholars, and the musical treat
had been arranged by him in our honour. I never heard anything more
beautiful; or, under the circumstances, more affecting. Song after song
of our childhood's days the young choristers reeled forth. Mrs. Dehn,
who had only recently come out, started to use her handkerchief; and I
think I should shortly have followed suit, had not our host come up at
the crucial moment and led me into dinner.

The meal was a grand success, reminding me of the one Baron Codelli
had treated us to on our arrival at Kamina from the coast six months
previously. There was the same beautifully arranged table, the same
sheen of damask and glitter of silver, the same noiseless, trained
service, the same carefully chosen and perfectly cooked food. Everybody
was in the highest spirits, and I enjoyed myself immensely. We sat
late, and should have sat later at our host's urgent invitation, only
that the motor-car had arrived that day from Atakpame, and we were due
to start early in the morning. It seemed strange, by the way, to find
my hammock--thoughtfully provided by my kind host--waiting at the door
to take me home, in the same way as the electric brougham belonging to
the house waits at home to whisk away the late-departing guest.

We had told our boys to call us at 5 A.M., but I confess that, for my
part, it required no small effort of will to induce me to rise and
dress. Out in the bush one is not used to dissipation. I wished now
that I had refused that last half glass of champagne, or had dispensed
with the liqueur. I will say no more.

Outside, the cold morning air acted as a tonic. There was the big car,
panting to be off. It held seven people comfortably, and our ten boxes.
Soon we were speeding along our homeward road, and my spirits rose with
each succeeding mile. It was grand to fly along down the route up which
we had toiled so slowly, to cover in an hour a stage that had taken
us a whole day to traverse on cycles or by hammock. At Djabotaure,
however, there came a sudden halt. Our left-hand hind wheel tyre burst
with a loud report, and my heart sank within me at the prospect of
being stranded here in this desolate spot, two days--by carriers--from
Sokode and five from Atakpame. Luckily we carried a spare tyre, but it
was a non-skidder, and from now on our driver had to be very careful.

The road in the Sokode district was perfect, that in the Atakpame
district was not quite so good; and we were all more or less anxious,
for we carried no more spare tyres, and another breakdown would have
meant several days' delay. The bridges of planks, covered in some
instances with clay, were negotiated in fear and trembling, for they
had, of course, not been constructed for heavy motor traffic, and our
big car, with its load, weighed a good bit over a ton. The natives
we met seemed greatly interested in the new machine, which had not
yet lost its novelty for them, and stood gaping after it much as the
rustics used to do in Europe, I am told, when motor-cars first began to
be used there. One big negro varied the ordinary proceeding by standing
facing the car in the middle of the road, and backed as we approached,
at the same time edging sideways. As a result he tumbled over backwards
into a ditch, and the last I saw of him, as we sped by, was a pair of
big flat feet projecting upwards, and waving wildly from the side of
the road.

We overtook our horses at a village en route, and paused to see that
our instructions were being properly carried out. At Blita, too, we
stopped for breakfast, selecting this particular rest-house because
it is the only one between Sokode and Atakpame that boasts a table.
Here we used up absolutely the last of our provisions, and I remember
thinking to myself that if a breakdown were to occur now, we should
not only be subject to an irritating and vexatious delay, but that we
should probably go hungry into the bargain. However, nothing happened;
mechanism and tyres both held; and shortly after noon we rolled into
Atakpame, and thence to Kamina.



CHAPTER XX

KAMINA--LOME--HOME


We were expected in Kamina by our old friend Baron Codelli von
Fahnenfeld, and by the baroness, his wife, a young woman of about my
own age, whom he had recently brought out from Europe, a new-wed bride,
to share his home and fortunes in this out-of-the-way corner of the
German colonial empire.

All the week long I had been looking forward to this meeting with
the wife of one of my best friends, and picturing it in the rosiest
colours. We should have so much to say to each other, I said to myself,
for I had been so long cut off from all association with my own
sex--the meeting with Mrs. Dehn at Sokode being only a casual one--that
I was simply dying for a good long chat about--well, about the things
women love to talk of. Yet now, when the hour had come for our mutual
introduction, I felt a strange kind of bashfulness creep over me. I had
been so long in the bush, practically cut off from civilised society.
True, I had met a few men. But then men friends and acquaintances
are so different from women friends and acquaintances. They are less
critical; more apt to take one at one's own valuation.

Shall I like her? What is she like? Shall we get on together? The
questions one woman always asks herself of another woman whom she hopes
to favourably impress, surged uppermost. But my doubts and fears were
quickly dispelled. A tall, graceful girl, golden-haired and blue-eyed,
advanced towards me with hands outstretched in warm welcome. Soon we
were deep in an earnest, animated conversation; she asking all sorts
of questions about the "back of the beyond" of the country that was
now her home; I anxious to hear the latest "gup" of Berlin, of Paris,
of Vienna. But there was one piece of information that I wanted to
acquire, now and at once, that to me was all-important, and at the risk
of being thought ill-mannered, I blurted out the personal query: "My
boxes? My treasured boxes? What had become of them?"

It will be remembered that a wire had been forwarded to us by
post-runner from Mangu, telling us of their destruction by a fire
that had burned down Baron von Codelli's house at Kamina while he
was away in Europe. Since then we had received several more or less
contradictory reports from his employés. Some personal luggage had been
rescued from the flames, we were told at one time; at another, the
rumour reached us that everything that was on the premises when the
fire broke out had gone up in smoke. Now, to my unbounded relief and
delight, I learnt that all the boxes containing my personal belongings
were safe; only a few parcels containing hats, lingerie, and
comparatively valueless articles of personal apparel, had been burned.

I owed their safety, it transpired, to the efforts of my black boy,
Kabrischika, who had been with me during our stay at Kamina on the
upward journey, and who had become very much attached to me. It
appeared that a big grass fire was burning near Kamina, and that a
sudden change in the strength and direction of the wind had sent it,
roaring and raging, straight for Codelli's house, which was of wood,
thatched with many thicknesses of straw for coolness. The house was
unoccupied, of course, and, it being the end of the dry season, about
as inflammable as a box of matches. Kabrischika, quick to realise the
danger, had dashed through the flames and smoke and lugged my boxes out
of danger. He knew them, it seemed, because they were new; my name,
which was stamped in big letters upon each one of them, meaning nothing
to him.

We spent ten days in Kamina, recuperating, and filming the big wireless
station which Codelli is building there, and about which I wrote in
an earlier chapter. I was amazed at the progress which had been made
during our six months' absence. Kamina itself had changed utterly; had
grown tremendously. Everywhere were substantial stone houses; mostly
finished and ready for occupation, some few in course of erection.
The great steel towers, and the immense power-station, were finished,
contrasting curiously with the little wattle and straw huts that
had lodged the hundreds of workmen, whose labours were now nearing
completion. When the dynamos and turbines are installed, which they
will be by the time this book is in print, Kamina will be able to talk
direct with Berlin, 3450 miles distant. Even during my stay there,
although messages could not yet be transmitted, they could be received,
and each morning on our breakfast-table there lay a little type-written
broadsheet, our morning paper as it were, summarising for us the news
that had come through to the station overnight. In this way we knew
what was happening in Europe, almost as quickly as if we had been
living in, say, London, or Paris, or Berlin.

I need hardly say, however, that it is not for such comparatively
trivial purposes as these that this powerful installation has been
erected in the heart of the wilderness. The wireless station at Kamina
is intended to be the chief receiving and distributing centre for the
whole of Africa; so far, that is to say, as Germany is concerned. It
will communicate with the similar but smaller wireless station in the
Cameroons, and also with that at Windhuk in German South-West Africa,
as well as with Tabora in German East Africa. Furthermore, it will
in course of time constitute one of the principal links in the chain
of wireless stations with which Germany, like Britain, is seeking to
girdle the globe; connecting her East and West African possessions with
German New Guinea, with Samoa, and with the German protectorate of
Kiao-Chau, in the Chinese province of Shantung, which she holds from
China on a ninety-nine years' lease since January 1898.

A little railway connects Codelli's house with the northern part of
Kamina, where the receiving station is, and we used frequently to
remark, after dinner: "Now let us go up and listen to what they have
got to say in Berlin." It was, to me at all events, very weird and
wonderful to be able to place the receiver to my ears, and listen to
sounds having their origin at a point between three or four thousand
miles away. No words, of course, were audible, only the short and
long sounds of the Morse code; but I soon learnt enough to be able to
understand the purport, at all events, of what was coming through. The
signals sound very much like musical notes--a series of notes all of
the same tone and pitch--played on an ordinary whistle. This particular
brand of wireless is called in German the _telefunken_, meaning
"sounding spark"; and this exactly describes it. Sounding sparks! That
is what you are listening to.

The temporary receiving station, by the way, is the same building that
served me for a house during our stay in Kamina on the upward journey,
six months previously. It gave me quite a shock on my first visit to
it this time, to find the little home I had decorated and fitted up so
comfortably--we rigged up our studio here, you will remember--now all
bare and desolate, and filled with complicated wireless instruments.
Presently, I got another kind of shock, an unpleasant one. I remarked
to Codelli how dusty everything was, and he replied quite gravely
that that was so, it wanted a woman's deft hand; and, handing me a
cloth, he asked me if I would be so good as to wipe things over a
bit with it, while he adjusted the instruments. At the same time he
pointed to two little metal points, saying that it was important
that every speck of dust should be removed from these if the working
was to be satisfactory. In my innocence I did my best to carry out
his instructions, with the result that I suffered a mild sort of
electrocution. It was merely a practical joke of Codelli's, and not
enough electricity passed through me to hurt me, but it gave me a rare
start nevertheless.

I was, as I have already said, greatly interested in this wonderful
wireless installation; but I fear that I was also fully as much
interested--trivial though the confession must sound--in a new
nickel-plated collapsible dressing-table that the Baroness Codelli had
brought with her from Berlin. It was the first time for six months that
I had been able to see myself full length in a large mirror, and only
a woman can realise what this means to a woman. When I was first left
alone with it, I scrutinised myself closely and anxiously, turning
this way and that, peering close and drawing back. On the whole the
inspection was eminently satisfactory. My figure was fuller, rounder,
and harder, my face also had filled out; otherwise, I was surprised to
find how slight a difference half a year's roughing it in the wilds
had made in my personal appearance. Why, I have frequently been more
sunburnt after a week at the seaside, than I was by this long trek
through tropical Togoland. One reason for this was the care one always
takes to shade one's face from the sun's rays while on the march; not,
however, in order to preserve one's complexion, but with a view to
avoiding sunstroke. During the first part of my journey, I always wore,
when in the saddle, or out-of-doors even temporarily, a big slouch
hat of the cowboy type, but afterwards I discarded this for the pith
helmet, than which no more effectual safeguard against heat apoplexy
has yet been devised.

While their new stone house was in course of erection, the Baron and
Baroness Codelli had taken possession temporarily of the "Stranger's
House," a building set apart for the use of stray visitors to the
place who may be in want of accommodation, corresponding, in point of
fact, to the rest-houses of the up-country stations, but somewhat more
solidly constructed, and having a cement floor. There were, however,
two rooms completed in their new stone house, and these Codelli very
kindly placed at our disposal. But I, with the lately awakened instinct
of the bush woman, preferred to camp out in a small grass-and-wattle
hut, with only a mat curtain between myself and the outer air.

This was all very well for a couple of days. But the rainy season was
now near at hand, and on the third day one of those tornadoes, which
always precede the great rains, came on to blow. The wind set in motion
great clouds of dust, which filled my frail dwelling, and after a
short, sharp struggle between pride and inclination, the latter won,
and I took refuge behind stone walls. A day or two later great black
clouds came rolling up, threatening to break in one of those terrific
tropical thunderstorms of which I had heard such lurid accounts. Still,
however, the rain held off; indeed, I was assured, that Kamina had been
exceptionally fortunate in respect to its freedom from these storms
since the wireless station had been erected, the theory being that
the nine great steel towers in some way repelled the electric fluid.
Whether this theory has any scientific foundation in fact, I am, of
course, unable to say, but everybody seemed agreed that though all
round the station might be black, the sky overhead of Kamina was for
the most part clear.

At length the time came to say good-bye. Our heavy baggage had arrived
from Sokode, and all was ready to entrain. Our horses, none the worse
for their journey through the fly belt, had already been sent by rail
to Lome, there to await shipment to Accra. The two ostriches had been
sent on by road, in charge of their boys. There remained only our pet
monkey, Anton, and him I presented to the Baroness Codelli. This time
we took care to lay in a proper stock of provisions for the train
journey, so that it was at least endurable, if not enjoyable; and the
rain coming down just when it was beginning to get uncomfortably hot,
still further helped to mitigate the discomfort of what is at best a
somewhat tedious and trying trip.

At Lome we were to film the opening scene of our drama, _The White
Goddess of the Wangora_. We had already filmed all the other parts, but
the reader will of course understand that in cinema work the scenes are
not photographed consecutively; at least not necessarily so. In this
first scene, it will be remembered, I am supposed to be cast up by the
sea from a wreck as a baby and found by some black savages, and the
problem was whereabouts along the Togo coast were we to get a white
child of the proper age. It was the problem that had been haunting us
at the back of our minds ever since the beginning of the trip. Now it
had got to be solved somehow or other.

Various suggestions were brought forward, and gravely discussed. Could
we use a doll; and if so, could a sufficiently large and lifelike
doll be had in Lome? Would it be possible to paint a black baby white
without injury to the infant? Meanwhile Alfred, our interpreter, had
spread the news of what was wanted throughout Lome, and soon babies
of all sorts and sizes, accompanied of course by their mothers, began
to roll up. None of them, however, suited our requirements. Some were
too big; all were too black: nor were we able to find any mother who
could be induced to regard the whitewashing scheme in a sufficiently
favourable light to lend her own offspring for the experiment. They all
knew somebody else who had a baby they would no doubt be willing to
lend for the purpose, but when it came to the point the "somebody else"
invariably declined most emphatically to do anything of the kind. It
really looked at one time as if we should have to film the scene at
some English seaside resort, with a squad of burnt-cork beach "niggers"
as supers, an obviously most unsatisfactory alternative. Just,
however, as we were beginning to despair, a coast girl turned up with
a half-caste, khaki-coloured infant, of about the right age; and which
Hodgson opined might be made, by the liberal use of a powder puff, to
come out white on the film.

But when the scheme was explained to the mother, I could see that her
enthusiasm for it waned rapidly. The baby was to be hidden in a box
close to the edge of the surf. Yes-s-s! That was all very well. But
suppose one big wave come roll up, sweep baby away? What then? Oh!
No! No! No! And she clasped the little chocolate-coloured coon to her
bosom. There was a lot more palaver, but at length she gave a reluctant
consent. She was to be paid a sovereign for the loan of the infant, and
the clothes we provided, and which cost another ten shillings, were to
be hers to keep when all was over. Moreover, while the scene was being
filmed, she was to stand on one side of the camera, and I on the other,
so that we could both rush into the sea together to the rescue in case
of anything untoward happening. As a matter of fact nothing did happen.
The scene was filmed on the beach outside Lome, a time being chosen
when there was nobody about. We were, however, honoured by the presence
of the Governor, H.H. the Duke of Mecklenburg, who expressed himself
as being both surprised and pleased at the way we had drilled our black
supers to act their parts.

Our time passed very pleasantly in Lome. We had horses lent us by a
friend of ours, Lieutenant Manns, and used to go for rides round the
neighbourhood. The sea, too, was a source of never-ending pleasure
and delight to me, since first I caught a whiff of it towards the end
of our railway journey from Atakpame. We used to take walks along the
beach by moonlight, and Lome, beneath its silvery enchantment, seemed
to me an altogether ideal place of residence. In the daytime, when the
sun beat down upon it, and all was glare and dust, I held quite the
reverse opinion.

Herr Vollbehr, the famous Munich portrait painter, happened to be in
Lome while we were there, and he expressed a wish to paint me in the
native dress I wore whilst playing in the _White Goddess_ drama. So
I gave him some sittings in the gardens of the Duke of Mecklenburg's
palace, and I am told that the picture turned out very well, and
has been much admired at Munich, where it is now on exhibition. The
Governor's palace, by the way, is quite the finest building in Lome,
as indeed is only right. It is four-square, built round a central
courtyard, and must have cost no end of money. It is quite new, like
all the other buildings in Lome, for not so very many years ago--some
seventeen or eighteen, I believe--this town had no existence, at all
events as the capital of Togoland, which was then fixed at a place
called Little Popo, at the eastern extremity of the Togo seaboard.

The great drawback to Lome as a port is the heavy surf which breaks
almost incessantly on the low sandy beach, as indeed it does all
along the West African coast. Different methods of minimising the
inconvenience caused by this hindrance have been adopted at different
places. At Accra they have built a breakwater, which has cost a small
fortune, and is not, I hear, a great success. At Lome they have gone
the other way to work, and have erected a pier, or bridge, right out
into the sea, a third of a mile long, and connected with a massive
wharf, or quay, at the seaward end. This simplifies greatly the problem
of landing, although it has its drawbacks. One is that there are now
no surf boats there, or very few at all events, and the natives, I am
told, are forgetting how to handle them, even if any were available.
So when, some years back, the bridge which connects the wharf with the
shore was destroyed by a tidal wave, supposed to be due to some great
submarine volcanic upheaval, Lome was almost entirely isolated from
the outside world for a while. However, with commendable energy, the
authorities there soon set to work to rebuild their bridge; but because
they could not build it over the old foundations, it now takes a curved
course, which gives it a somewhat curious, lopsided appearance.

For the rest there is not much to say about Lome. It is a clean and
neat little place, like most of our German colonial towns, with
well-laidout streets shaded by palm and other trees, and bordered by
pretty little bungalows, or, in some cases, more substantially built
stone houses, set in well-kept tropical gardens. The native population
of Lome, however, did not impress me favourably. The up-country native
is a gentleman; the coast native is, too often, a caricature of the
street "corner boy" of London or Berlin. Far be it from me, a mere
girl, and a stranger and a sojourner in the colony at that, to set
myself up as a judge in such matters; but it seems to me that the negro
is not fitted for education, in the sense that we in Europe generally
understand that much-abused word. Certain it is that no white man I
ever came across, who knew his Africa, would hire as a "boy" one of the
mission-school type of negro; he would infinitely prefer the wildest
bush native from the remotest part of the hinterland.

At last the morning of the 13th of March dawned, the day on which we
were to say good-bye to Africa. Frankly I felt sorry. I had come here
six months previously, timid, and not a little apprehensive. There had
been times since, up in the lonely bush, when, weary with travel and
weakened with fever, I would have given anything to have gone to sleep
and waked in Europe. But not now. All these feelings were over and
done with, and in their place was a consuming regret for the things I
was leaving behind, that were passing out of my life; the long lone
trail leading onward, and ever onward, through lands new and strange;
the black peoples of the far interior unspoilt by civilisation, an
interesting study always; the stillness of the tropic night, the stir
of the tropic dawn.

We had previously paid off our boys, of course, but all those that were
in Lome at the time came down to the pier head to see us off. They
were sorry to part with us. One could see it in their black faces, for
the negro is nothing but a big child, and his features reflect every
passing mood. "You will come back, little mother," they called out in
unison, as the screw began to revolve. "Yes," I answered gravely, "I
will come back." And I meant what I said. Shall I ever be in a position
to redeem my promise, I wonder? Well! well! Time will show!

One thing rather pleased me. None of our boys were left stranded;
they all got jobs. Alfred, our interpreter, and Asmani, Schomburgk's
personal servant, took service with Baron Codelli at Kamina. Messa,
the cook, got employment in the Duke of Mecklenburg's kitchen. Indeed,
no boy who has been for any length of time with Europeans, and has a
good character, need be long out of employment in Togo. A character,
however, is an essential thing; and curiously enough they all seemed
to prefer my written recommendation to Schomburgk's. I suppose it was
because they had other characters from European men, and wanted to add
to their collection one from a European woman, in case others of my sex
wanted their services later. Schomburgk, however, said that a woman's
recommendation always goes further than a man's, because prospective
employers argue in this way: "Oh! so this boy has served under a woman,
has he? Well, I'll engage him, because a boy who can stick a woman, can
stick anybody--even me." Of course, this was said by way of a joke;
but like a good many words spoken in jest, there is a certain amount
of truth underlying these. Anyway, I believe it to be a fact that West
African personal boys, kitchen boys, and so on, do not care over much
to take service with a woman.

The ship that bore us back to England was named the _Eleonore
Woermamm_. She was a good staunch boat, and very seaworthy and steady,
like all those belonging to this fine line; but as we were steaming
against "the trades," we had a rather rough passage to Las Palmas.
There was a pleasant break here, and I went ashore to the "Stranger's
Club," where I played roulette for the first time. I knew nothing
whatever of the game, and threw down a coin at haphazard, and with
the usual luck of the novice I won again and again. In ten minutes I
was the richer by £7, and was already beginning to have visions of a
golden fortune ahead, when the screeching of the ship's siren called me
hurriedly aboard.

The rest of the voyage was uneventful up to the last day. Then, when we
were nearing Southampton, we had the very narrowest escape--so I was
assured--of going to the bottom. We were seated at dinner, all in the
highest spirits at the successful termination of our trip, when the
steamer suddenly sounded three sharp, angry blasts, then started to
heel over to starboard, sending all the plates and dishes with their
contents flying into our laps. Another steamer, it appeared, had come
right across our bows, and only the presence of mind of the officer
on the bridge of the _Eleonore Woermamm_ in putting the wheel hard
a-port, and so causing our ship to describe a circle to starboard, had
averted what would otherwise almost certainly have been a very terrible
disaster.



INDEX


  Accra, 286, 303, 307

  Agbandi, 62;
    native giant at, 63

  Aledjo, beauty and healthfulness of, 85;
    mission station at, 86;
    grass fires at, 87, 281

  Alfred, our interpreter, 54, 102, 103, 169, 244, 309

  Anâ, native village, 57, 60

  Antelope, 134, 151, 152, 153

  Arrows, poisoned, European shot by, 142

  Ashantis, 159

  Asmani, Schomburgk's personal "boy," 179, 229, 309

  Atakpame, 28;
    Catholic Mission at, 50, 63, 186, 275, 284, 286, 295

  Audassi, 66


  Babies, native, 270

  Bafilo, the bairam festival at, 90;
    cotton industry at, 92;
    artificial "pearls" made at, 95, 251

  Banjeli, 237; beautiful situation of, 238;
    arrival of mail at, 241;
    a pig purchased at, 242;
    punishing carriers at, 244;
    chief of, 245, 249, 250

  Bapure, 112

  Bassari, 239, 241;
    iron market at, 247, 250, 251;
    station house at, 252;
    Mr. Muckè, Sub-District Commissioner of, 252;
    our house at, 253;
    I entertain the wives of the Mallam Mohammed at, 257, 291

  Bats, a plague of, 139;
    as food, 225

  Beapabe, native town, 251

  Bedford, Duke of, 19

  Beer, native, 111

  Bees, wild, 259

  Beetles, beautiful, 240

  Berger, Dr., 57 _et seq._

  Betrothals in infancy of native girls, 264

  Birds, valuable feather-bearing in Northern Togo, 149, 150, 154

  _Bremen_, S.M.S., 26

  Buffalo, 20

  Butter, native, 139

  Bwete, native village, 145


  Cameras, damage to by heat, 136

  Cameroons, wireless station in, 299

  Chameleons, 209

  "Chief's mail," 184, 185

  Childbirth amongst native women, 268

  Children, native, government education of, 290

  Cinema acting, on board ship, 21;
    in Madeira, 24;
    at Kamina, 33;
    at Paratau, 77;
    at Lome, 305

  Cooking, native, 275

  Corn-bins, curious, at Tschopowa, 224

  Cotton industry, native, 92 _et seq._

  Cowrie shells, as money, 97

  Crocodiles, 145, 189, 190


  Dagomba tribe, 214

  Dahomeyans, 159

  Death, native ceremonies at, 261, 262

  Dedaure, Mallam of, 288

  Dehn, Mr. and Mrs., 291

  Djabotaure, 64;
    adventure at, 65, 293

  Djereponi, 208


  _Elegante Welt_, German fashion paper, 241

  _Eleonore Woermamm_, mail steamer, 310, 311

  Elephants, 18;
    old spoor of, 121


  Fahnenfeld, Baron Codelli von, 29, 31, 36, 47, 196, 292, 296;
    Baroness Codelli, 297, 301, 302

  Fetish groves, hidden practices in, 273

  Fever, 36, 101, 108

  Films, industrial, at Bafilo, 92 _et seq._, 97;
    ethnological, at Mangu, 136;
    travel, at Sumbu, 191;
    historical, at Mangu, 200, 201;
    Konkombwa, 218;
    hippopotami, 225;
    iron industry, at Banjeli, 246;
    at Bassari, 257

  Fishing by natives in the Oti, 135

  Francolin, a kind of partridge, 134, 149

  Fulani, 137, 156, 159, 180

  Fulbe, 137


  Gerin-kuka, boisterous welcome to by the Konkombwa people, 115;
    rest-house at, 117;
    native "songu" at, 118

  Gourma, 138, 141, 142, 168, 176

  Grass fires, 143, 146

  Grey, Hon. W. H., 286

  Grouse, remarkable incident in connection with, 206

  Gruner, Dr., 140


  Hagenbeck, Carl, 19

  Hammock travelling, delights of in the African bush, 61;
    being "sea-sick" in one, 66, 185

  Harmattan, 76;
    at Mangu, 131;
    a meteorological mystery, 198

  Hausas, 202, 203, 219, 225

  "Hausa load," 243

  _Henny Woermamm_, mail steamer, 21, 22, 26

  Hippopotami, 123, 146, 185 _et seq._, 225

  ---- pygmy, 19, 185

  Hirschfeld, Captain von, 125, 127, 128, 132, 133, 137, 140, 143,
      155, 199, 203, 205, 243, 253

  Hodgson, James, our camera man, 20, 50, 52, 97, 99, 100, 101, 119,
      123, 124, 135, 136, 148, 150, 152, 156, 172, 174, 187, 189, 203,
      206, 216, 225, 233, 237, 250, 256, 305

  Horses, our, waiting for us near Sokode, 67;
    am badly kicked by my favourite one, 83;
    accident to one, 109, 195, 286

  Hyena trapped, 138


  Ibubu, native village, 233;
    "Roman Fort" at, 233;
    trouble with carriers at, 235;
    arrest of chief of, 239;
    woman carriers from, 239, 243

  Insect pests, 38, 134

  Iron industry, native, at Banjeli, 245 _et seq._


  Jewellery, native, 260

  Johnston, Sir Harry, 248

  Joyce, Atho, Mr., 248


  Kabre Mountains, 137

  Kabrischika, native boy, saves my baggage from fire, 298

  Kabu, welcome hospitality at, 111

  Kabures, native tribe, 63

  Kaiser's birthday, 203

  Kamaa, river, 253, 280

  Kamina, wireless station at, 29;
    my house at, 29;
    life at, 30 _et seq._;
    an adventure, 48, 196, 292, 295, 296 _et seq._

  Kara, river, 122

  Katscha, river, 250, 251

  Kersting, Dr., 70, 85, 90, 234, 252, 254

  Kola nuts, 219, 259

  Konkombwa, first contact with, 112;
    boisterous welcome by at Gerin-Kuka, 115, 138, 147, 211 _et seq._;
    dancers, 217 _et seq._, 231, 234, 236, 239, 247

  Kuepers, Mr., Government schoolmaster at Sokode, 68, 278, 286, 288,
      289, 292

  Kugnau, native village, 227;
    incident with the Konkombwa at, 231, 232, 237


  Lange, Mr., engineer, 57

  Las Palmas, 25, 310

  Leopard, adventure with a, 100, 194, 196

  Lizards, 38, 194

  Lome, capital and port of Togo, 21, 27, 184, 253, 284, 303, 304,
      305, 307


  Madeira, 21 _et seq._, 196

  Magu, native village, 147, 197

  Malfakasa, 280;
    the outlaw of, 283

  Mallam Mohammed, of Bassari, 257;
    his house, 258;
    his wives, 259

  Mangu, northernmost Government station in Togo, 125;
    Mohammedans in, 130;
    timber plantations in, 130;
    new station house at, 131;
    climate of, 131;
    Christmas at, 133;
    New Year's Eve festivities at, 133;
    trees destroyed by beetles at, 134;
    prisoners, native, at, 137;
    stone quarry at, 137;
    plague of bats at, 139;
    native soldiers at, 199, 200;
    filming Togo history at, 201, 202;
    celebrating the Kaiser's birthday at, 203;
    departure from, 205, 251, 278

  Manns, Lieutenant, 306

  Marabou stork, discovered in Togo by Major Schomburgk, 154;
    feathers, 154

  Marriage customs, native, 264

  Mashukulumbwe people, anecdote concerning, 115

  Massow House, at Bassari, 252

  Mecklenburg, Duke of, Governor of Togo, 28, 51, 141, 231, 232, 305,
      306, 309

  Messa, our cook, supposed desertion of, 53 _et seq._;
    returns with a young wife, 55;
    he annexes our dining-table, 84, 160, 169, 180, 230, 277, 278, 309

  Monkey, our pet, 146, 243, 303

  Monkeys, wild, 47;
    shooting a "dog" monkey, 96

  Mosquitoes, 31, 122, 144, 229

  Moving Picture Sales Agency, London, 184, 286

  Muckè, Mr., of Bassari, 252, 254, 255, 256, 292


  Natives, as "supers," 33;
    averse to being photographed, 33;
    views of on matrimony, &c., 42 _et seq._;
    perversity of, 51;
    as carriers, 112;
    wars, inter-tribal, 200;
    as handicraftsmen, 247;
    school for at Bassari, 258;
    at Sokode, 288

  Najo, native village, 197

  Nambiri, 209; village chief of, 213, 249

  Nebel, Mr. Kay H., 67;
    accident while acting with, 77, 88, 89;
    leaves for Europe, 91

  Njamassila, 60


  "Odd Man Out," dramatic film, 21, 24, 91, 92

  Ostriches, 203, 234, 246, 303

  Oti, river, 122, 126, 134, 141, 144, 147, 148, 151, 156, 185, 188,
      192, 227, 233

  "Outlaw of the Sudu Mountains," dramatic film, 86;
    accident while rehearsing in, 88

  Oysters, fresh-water, in the Oti River, 192


  "Palaver," a woman, 101 _et seq._;
    a man, 104;
    at Unyogo, over a soldier's wife, 207

  Panscheli, native village, 142, 185, 186, 188

  Paratau, 69;
    native market at, 73;
    children at, 74;
    an unhealthy camp, 76, 278, 282, 291

  Parpart, Herr von, 261, 285, 291

  Plantations, timber, near Mangu, 130;
    near Bassari, 254

  Poisons, kinds used by natives on their arrows, 142

  Polygamy, 267

  Porteous, Dr., 143

  Potatoes, a luxury in Togo, 278


  Quinine, importance of in West Africa, 50


  Ramadam, Mohammedan fast, 65

  Rentzel, Lieutenant von, 28

  Royal Anthropological Institute, 201

  Royal Geographical Society, 201, 248


  Salt, paying carriers in, 118;
    as currency, value of in Northern Togo, 161, 171

  Schomburgk, Major Hans, 17 _et seq._, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 38, 40,
      50, 52, 55, 57, 61, 72, 78, 85, 88, 89, 95, 97, 100, 102, 104,
      106, 110, 113, 115, 121, 123, 131, 134, 139, 140, 141, 144, 146,
      147, 149, 152, 156, 170, 190, 195, 196, 203, 211, 223, 225, 227,
      233, 236, 245, 252, 287

  Sleeping sickness, 287

  Soap, native made, 267

  Sokode, 68, 103, 159, 186, 234, 261, 283, 284, 285, 288, 292

  Soldiers, native, 199, 200

  "Songu," native rest-house, 137

  Sumbu, native village, 156, 164 _et seq._;
    inhabitants of, 171, 177

  Snakes, adventure with a venomous, 100, 183

  Sudu Mountains, 284

  Tabalo Mountain, 282

  Tamberma Fort, 128;
    and people, 129, 130, 202

  Tax, head, native, 129

  Teneriffe, 25

  "Tick-birds," 188

  Tim plain, 284

  Tschaudjo, native tribe, 69 _et seq._;
    clever horsemanship of, 73;
    mounted supers, 77, 265, 274, 285

  Tschokossi, native tribe, 128, 141, 145, 147, 156, 168, 176, 185,
      192, 201, 265, 274

  Tschopowa, welcome by natives to, 221;
    ceremonial dance at, 222;
    marabou feathers worn by natives at, 222, 223;
    big baobab tree at, 224;
    curious corn-bins at, 225;
    bats at, 225

  Tsetse-fly, 284, 287

  Turtles in the Oti River, 190


  Unyogo, 205;
    a "woman palaver" at, 207

  Uro Djabo, paramount chief of the Tschaudjo, 69 _et seq._, 213

  Uro-Ganedo-Bo, 282


  Village, native, remarkable fortified, 164 _et seq._

  Vultures as scavengers, 98, 139

  Vollbehr, Herr, paints my portrait, 306


  Widows, hard fate of, 274

  Wedding ceremonies, native, 265

  "White Goddess of the Wangora," dramatic film, 32 _et seq._, 90, 304

  Windhuk, wireless station at, 299

  Wireless telegraphy between Kamina and Berlin, 300

  Women and girls, native, 40 _et seq._;
    a young philosopher, 45;
    filming the life of a native wife, 46;
    women weavers at Bafilo, 94;
    "abduction" of a girl, 102;
    modesty of, 105;
    wild at Sumbu, 164, 175, 200;
    Konkombwa at Nambiri, 215;
    a conjugal quarrel, 216;
    as carriers, 238, 239;
    slaves as iron miners at Banjeli, 246;
    marriage customs, 264;
    infant betrothals, 264;
    illegitimate births, customs regarding, 264, 265;
    wedding ceremonies, 265, 266;
    polygamy, 267;
    childbirth, 268;
    fetish women, 272;
    introcision, rite of, 272;
    initiation ceremonies at puberty, 273


  "Zoo," London, two of Major Schomburgk's pygmy "hippos" in, 19;
    Hamburg, 187, 235


          Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
          at Paul's Work, Edinburgh



Transcribers' Notes:


Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; inconsistent
hyphenation retained when there was no predominant usage.

Original book spelled "Ramadan" as "Ramadam" three times, and as
"Ramadan" once; none changed.

In the Foreword, "Woermamm" is a misspelling for "Woermann".

Page 88: "eerie" may be a misprint for "eyrie".





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 - The adventures, observations & experiences of a cinematograph actress in West African forests whilst collecting films depicting native life and when posing as the white woman in Anglo-African cinematograph dramas" ***

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