Now, lead-mining has been stopped in Upper Wharfedale these thirty
years, but still a boy who has been brought up in a village there may
well have some general knowledge of ores and the methods of getting
them. The mining first began in those dim British days before the
Romans came, and it has continued on down through the centuries till
the influx of foreign lead brought prices below £25 a ton, and the
mines could not be worked at a profit.

Raw dumps and grass-covered dumps are traceable on every hand, and
though the older tunnels are obliterated, there are still enough shafts
and drifts and adits to be found in the gray stone hills to occupy many
months’ exploration.

George Carter had heard of the past glories of lead from his earliest
years, and old residents pointed to the ruined cottages that were
filled and flourishing when the village held 500 people who lived by
the mines, instead of the 200 who dwelt there now and made a lean
living out of a little limp farming. With pockets stuffed with
candle-ends he had splashed into the old levels and wandered for miles
in the heart of the limestone hills and hacked with rusty pickheads at
forgotten working faces; he had raked amongst the old ruined machinery
beside the dumps; he had studied the run of the water races, and as far
as a man with a natural engineering bent may reconstruct these things
from memorials of the past, he had done so most thoroughly, and, in the
old unscientific way, was as good a miner as any of those blue-gummed
ruffians of the past, and that without even having seen a lead mine in
real work.

Tin-stone he had seen in a not very well-equipped school museum; a tin
mine he knew only from an old book on Cornwall, which treated that
country more from the picturesque point of view than the mechanical or
the scientific.

But the thing that had fired his mind one baking day at Malla-Nulla was
a newspaper paragraph which spoke of the price of tin. Up till then,
like the majority of the human race, he had not troubled his head as to
whether tin was £5 a ton or £50. But here he saw that it had gone up
to no less a figure than £207 10s. per ton. He wished he could find a
tin mine, but concluding he might as well search that particular part
of steamy West Africa for great auk’s eggs, went no further than
framing the wish.

Then came the happenings at Mokki, and Ali ben Hossein’s parting gift
of the little gray stone duck which had unmistakable brown tin crystals
for its head, its wings and its feet, and on the top of all arrived
Kate’s cablegram. A sweating operator had read that message from under
sea, as it winked out in a darkened cable hut; runners had carried the
curt words along roaring beaches, paddlers had borne them by canoe up
muddy creeks, a great bank in far-off Hamburg had pledged the
performance of their promise. A day later the slatternly S.S. _Frau
Pobst_ lurched untidily up the muddy creeks, and commenced to ease the
factory buildings of their overflowing wealth of West African produce.

Carter itched to be off. It had come to this; he could not trust
himself in Kate’s neighborhood. Laura Slade saw, or fancied she saw
how things were, and bravely asked him one day to break their

But Carter drew her down onto the office chair beside him and put an
arm round her and kissed her. “Now,” he said, “tell out frankly who it
is that you like better than you like me?”

“It isn’t that, George.”

“Well, as Cascaes is the only alternative, I didn’t suppose it was.
Come now, out with it, what’s the trouble? I suppose you’re just going
to be a woman and tell me it’s my fault? I don’t agree with you. I’m
the same me as always was–red hair, large feet, and as big an appetite
as the Coast will allow.”

She put her face against his shoulder. “It’s Kate, George.”

“You must let me refer to her as Miss O’Neill,” said Carter dryly.
“You see, she’s my employer–or was–and we’re naturally not on
intimate terms– Well, what’s Miss O’Neill got to do with my marrying

“She’s always been opposed to it.”

“Twaddle! Now, look here, my dear, you’ve been nervy and upset ever
since that bit of a scrap at Smooth River. Now, haven’t you?”

“I suppose I have.”

“I’m sure of it. And it’s not surprising. That was a pretty tough
time for any girl to go through. Well, as I’ve told you, I’ve got my
nose onto a fortune that’s tucked away up in the bush, and I’m going to
look for it. In the meanwhile, as I managed to screw sixty golden
sovereigns out of that greedy old Balgarnie for curios that he’ll sell
for at least a hundred and forty, there’s just that amount of cash to
take you on a jaunt to Grand Canary for rose growing.”

“Rose growing?”

“To put color in your cheeks, then, you pale young person.”

“But I couldn’t take the money from you.”

“And pray who has a greater right to take care of you, and prescribe
what’s best for you, and look after you generally? D’you think I want
to marry a wife who isn’t in the pink of condition?”

“I like to look nice for you, dear, but I couldn’t take that money from
you now of all times.”

“How do you mean?”

“When you are just going off on some desperate expedition into the
bush, and want every penny that can be scraped together.”

Carter laughed. “There you go, wanting to lead me into temptation.
Wanting me to take money in my pocket to buy (presumably) kid gloves
and fire-escapes in the shops of the bush villages, and spend my nights
in local music halls. Fie on you that will one of these days have to
turn into a thrifty wife! I shall avoid these temptations. I shall
travel as unostentatiously as possible, and so ensure getting through.
I shall take with me White-Man’s-Trouble only, if the beggar will
condescend to go and live on native chop, for the best of all possible
reasons that it wouldn’t be possible to take a lot of carriers. Can’t
you see, my dear, that the choice lies between a three-thousand-pound
expedition, with carriers, and all the rest of it, and going quietly,
and being too obviously poor to rob?”

“I suppose there is something in that. Father went quietly.”

“Of course he did, and so shall I. Some day, if things pan out as I
hope, I may march up country at the tail end of a brass band, and do
the thing in style; but not to-morrow, thank you. So if you won’t take
charge of our superfluous £60 and decorate Grand Canary with it, I’m
hanged if I don’t dash it amongst the factory boys here, and have one
flaring jamboree before we part company.”

“Oh, George, you are good!”

“Don’t you fret about my goodness, old lady. I’m a pretty bad fellow
at the bottom, only I try and keep my worst points out of your sight.
Man has to, you know, with the girl he’s engaged to. It’s only playing
the game. Now, you let me go, and I’ll just slip across to the _Frau_
and blarney her old Dutch skipper into giving you the best room he’s
got to fight the cockroaches in.”

It was on a Thursday that the _Frau Pobst_ steamed away back down the
muddy creeks laden with one of the richest cargoes that one single
factory had ever collected in West Africa, and on that same day Carter
set off into the bush. Kate and Laura were to brave the terrors of the
steamer together as far as the Islands, and they found the boat even
more unspeakable than they had imagined her from the outrageous
descriptions of Captain Image and Mr. Balgarnie.

* * * * *

Now, as regards the matter of that £60, Carter, to put the matter
bluntly, had lied. With the King of Okky doing what he could to keep
the country side in a ferment, to go up into the bush even with a
strong party, and well provided, was risky. To go with empty pockets,
and with no following, seemed very little short of suicide.

But Carter refused to see it in this light. “I’m tough,” he told
himself, “and I’ve worked up a certain reputation for ju-ju. If I use
my wits I shall get through, and be successful. I absolutely refuse to
die here in Africa. I’ve promised to marry Laura, and, let it cost
what it may, I’m going to do it. I must; I’ve promised; and, besides,
she’s absolutely no other prospect before her. But I do wish to
goodness I’d a decent shotgun. I’m no kind of hand with this badly
balanced Winchester.”

So, with a high courage, he addressed himself to departure, and invited
White-Man’s-Trouble with the promise of goods, lands, goats, wives,
guns, and the other things that go to make up a Krooboy competency, to
accompany him. It was without surprise that he received a flat refusal.

“O Carter,” said his servant, “I no fit for lib for bush. I got
‘nother palaver too-much-important here at factory. Dem headman of
factory boys say to me, ‘Sar, you been stand-by-at-crane boy on
steamah? An’ I say, ‘Sar, I plenty-much-too-good educate.’ And he say
to me, ‘Sar, you fit for lib here an’ take dem job of second headman?’
An’ I say to him, ‘Sar, I fit.’ O Carter, if I lib for bush with you,
an’ let Okky-men spear me, an’ leopards chop me, I dam fool.”

“You’re a cheerful animal. If you think you are more likely to get an
archbishopric by staying here, by all means stay. Hope you’ll like the
Dutchmen when they come.”

White-Man’s-Trouble crooked a bunch of fingers, and scratched his ribs.
“O Carter, dem Dutchman all-e-same bush-Englishmen?”

“You’ve got it in once. I’ve no doubt they’re a most degraded lot.”

“Dem Dutchman he no have as much savvy as an Englishman?”

“Nowhere near. They wouldn’t have chucked up the factory in the first
instance if they had, and in the second no Englishman would have bought
it back again at such an absurd figure as they were fools enough to pay
Missy Kate.”

“O Carter?”


“I fit for steal small-small sometimes from Englishmen?”

“I can guarantee that, you scamp.”

“Then,” said White-Man’s-Trouble triumphantly, “I fit for steal
plenty-much-big from Dutchman, an’ he no savvy.”

“You’ll taste abundance of chiquot, my lad.”

The Krooboy snapped a piebald thumb and finger. “I take chiquot from
Englishman, not from bush-Englishman. If he flog me with chiquot, I
put ju-ju on him–” He picked up an empty bottle and handled it
thoughtfully. “Ju-ju, if dem Dutchmen give me chiquot.”

“Of the powdered-glass variety in his morning sausage,” said Carter
thoughtfully. “Well, it would be no use warning the poor devils,
because, in the first place, they wouldn’t believe me, and in the
second they’d get it all the same. I guess these new colonizers must
worry out the methods of dealing with the natives for themselves, as
their betters did before them. And for myself, I fancy a knapsack will
be the wear. Thank the Lord, I’ve tramped a good many hundred miles
with one before.”

* * * * *

Now, Carter was strong, and he carried, moreover, a high courage and a
fierce energy, which even the steamy atmosphere of the West Coast could
not damp. Malaria he had with a certain regular periodicity, but he
was one of those rare men who threw off the attacks with speed, and
suffered little from their after effects. He was essentially moderate
in his habits of life, carrying a healthy hunger but never overeating,
being neither a drunkard nor a teetotaller through fear of drink.
Moreover, he did not abuse quinine, coffee, tobacco or drugs. As a
consequence, in that much-anathematized climate he preserved a very
level health and energy, and owned a normal mind where most men were
either hysterical or morbid.

He had come ashore at Malla-Nulla, when he first landed on that ugly
beach from the _M’poso_, with two Gladstone bags. One of these had
been looted by some light-fingered merchant of the interior. The other
still remained with him, and had journeyed to Mokki. Its notable tint
of yellow had long since vanished. In places it was mottled black with
mildew, and the rest of the surface was a good mulatto brown. The
fastenings had burst, and been replaced by rope.

He looked at it with a moment’s indecision. It would make a vastly
ugly knapsack–but–it represented one of his few remaining possessions
in the world. (The £60, or, to be precise, the sum of £57 6s. 10d.,
which he had forced Laura to carry off, had emptied his purse to the
dregs.) And as he could not make up his mind to desert the bag, he
packed what things he thought essential within its leaky leather sides,
arranged rope beckets for his shoulders, slung it on his back, tucked
the Winchester aforesaid under his arm, and set off down the narrow
forest road which ben Hossein had indicated, without further word of
farewell with anybody.

The heat of noon had just faded, but the eighteen-inch wide road was
walled in with dense high bush, and the air down in that narrow cut was
breathless and stagnant. When the road curved away from the sun and
the high walls threw a shadow, Carter waited for a moment and panted;
when the sun teemed rays of molten brass directly down on him from
overhead, he hurried; and so moved on at an average gait of three miles
to the hour, which is good travelling for West Africa.

It is curious how the brain works in these hours of discomfort and
abnormal stress. The one thing that occupied Carter’s mind was a
rather good specimen of Okky war horn. It had been of ivory, massive,
well-carved, and with a mouthpiece of more than usual elaboration. In
fact, it was the finest specimen he had come across, and he was a
judge. He had purchased it from its native owner to copy for Mr.
Balgarnie’s markets. But he had seen Kate’s eye upon it just before
the _Frau Pobst_ took her away, and with the impulse of the moment had
given it to her. She took it at once, and thanked him lightly enough,
and he told himself, forgot it a moment later. A thousand times he
called himself an ass for trying to keep in her memory. What was he, a
factory clerk, to Miss O’Neill? And what, indeed, was Miss O’Neill to
him–an engaged man?

The bush rustled back at him: “Laura is–well, what you know. Laura’s
got a lick of the tar brush. Laura is probably the identical person a
certain reverend gentleman in Upper Wharfedale especially warned you
against. Laura may pass muster in Grand Canary, but she won’t do
further North. Fancy Laura in Wharfedale!” Good God, in Wharfedale!
Now he came to think of it, he had never talked to Laura about home,
and the moors, and the grouse, and the roses.

He laughed noisily at his fancies, and a flock of red and gray parrots
came on to the tree tops above and cawed at him. Well, after all,
there were plenty of Englishmen who lived out of England. He might
initiate a new era. He might be one of the first English colonists who
looked upon West Africa as a home, not a place of exile. He rubbed the
sweat from his face with a long forefinger and plodded on– Why not?
He seemed to have the knack of health. Why should not he and Laura
become powers in the Oil Rivers? They might well rise to the rule of
cities and territories.

Then a voice brought him to earth again. Someone hailed him from the
rear. “Carter, O Carter!”

It was the excellent White-Man’s-Trouble, who came up sullen,
frightened and abusive. His cheek-bones were whitened with lime, in
token of some ju-ju charm. He took over the battered Gladstone bag,
and balanced it on the centre plot of his own elaborately shaven

“I no fit for lib at dem factory an’ know you carry dem load in dem
dam-fool way,” said the Krooboy crustily.

They pulled up that night at a small terror-shivering village, and
quartered themselves on the headman. He made no secret of his
displeasure at their visit. Carter talked of the glories of Mokki, and
the advantages of having a steady stream of trade pouring through one’s
territory. The headman pointed out with peevish annoyance that the
King of Okky frowned upon Mokki in particular and trade in general, and
that the King’s displeasure was generally fatal to those on whom it
fell, even though they had the happiness to live beyond his marches.
But in spite of his gloomy reception, he set before his guests a portly
bowl of kanki, when his women had cooked it, and himself ate a pawful
from the calabash as a testimonial to its freedom from poison.

They spread their sleeping mats that night in the dark hut from which
the headman’s fowls had been driven to make room for them, and next
morning Carter collected some wing feathers and some bits of wood, and
made a windmill to amuse the children who swarmed about the compound.
Presently there arrived the headman, who saw the toy spinning in the
breeze, and annexed it. He and White-Man’s-Trouble harangued one
another with much noise and gesture, and then there was a bustle in the
village, and the cooking fires burned strongly. The headman’s gloom
had dropped from him like a discarded cloth; he wore in its place an
air of oily obsequiousness that showed he could be quite the courtier
upon occasion.

They breakfasted that morning on no mere kanki.

“Dem,” said White-Man’s-Trouble, pointing to the three great bowls,
“dem hen-chop, dem monkey-chop, an’ dem dug-chop.”

“Quack-quack dug?”

“No, bow-wow dug.”

“Ugh!” said Carter, “I’ll leave these rich dainties to you and His Nibs
there. Let me have a go at the stewed fowl. Great Christopher! No
wonder rubber’s so hard to collect in this country when they use up so
much to make legs for their chickens. Well, thank heaven for sound
teeth and a tough inside!”

“I tell dem headman,” said the Krooboy when they had started their
day’s march, “that dem windmill will be fine ju-ju. I say to him, ‘You
savvy dem fight at Smooth River factory?’ An’ he savvy plenty. All
the bush savvy of dem fight. So I tell him me an’ you, we keep dem
Okky-men away by ourselves, an’ shoot most of them, an’ kill more by
dem talking-god. So dem headman savvy we plenty-big ju-ju men, an’ we
no fit eat kanki for breakfast.”

“My dear Trouble, your powers of diplomacy are only equalled by your
personal appearance. Keep it up. If your eloquence can carry us
through the country on the free hotel list it will save a lot of
trouble both for us and for everybody else we come near. I like to
think of myself as an adventurous knight exploring the black heart of
Africa, but I suppose in the States they’d call us a pair of hoboes,
and set the watch-dogs at us– Gee! Look at that!”

The rifle dropped to Carter’s shoulder and cracked. A herd of small
deer were crossing the narrow road ahead of them, and one of them
tripped and fell, and there was payment for their next night’s lodging.

Thirteen days’ march Ali ben Hossein had called it to the hill where an
unnamed river scoured the foot of a red-streaked bluff, and Carter, who
was lean and strong and wiry, flattered himself on being able to walk
as well as any Moslem in Haûsaland. But the fact remained that more
than three times thirteen days passed before they reached the place,
and the perils of the way proved many and glaring. In some of the
villages the headmen proved hospitable; in others they would have
neither truck nor dealing with any callers whatever.

The country was full of war and unrest, and there was no doubt that it
was desperately poor. The cassava grounds were unplanted, the millet
was unsown, the banana gardens were wantonly slashed and ruined. The
small bush farmer is a creature of nerves, and he stands adversity
badly. Put him under a strong over-lord, and he will serve gladly and
efficiently. Leave him to himself, and when things go awry with him
for too many weeks together he is apt to suddenly give up the struggle,
and sit down with chin on his knees, and quietly starve to death. One
cannot reckon far upon the moods of a man who is ridiculously
unenthusiastic over his own life or his neighbors’.

But at one place they marched in upon red war.

The village lay amongst its farm lands in a break of the forest, and
the gaps between the houses had been filled with thorns. Shots came
from it at intervals, and were answered by the shots of invisible
marksmen who lay within the edge of the forest. The sun glared high
overhead in a fleckless sky. The air was salt with the smoke of the
crude trade powder.

White-Man’s-Trouble counselled retreat.

“Yes, that’s all right,” said Carter irritably. “No one wants to ram
his head into a scrap less than I do. But where the deuce can we go
to? There’s been no single branch to this road we’ve come along, and
the bush on each side is about the thickest in Africa. Nothing short
of a regiment of men with matchets would make a path through it
anywhere. Going back to that last village means getting skewered. All
the way along I’ve been wondering how on earth we got out of it without
having at least ten spears rammed into each of us.”

“O Carter, I no fit to go get mixed in dem fight palaver.”

“You’re so beastly unoriginal. Why go on repeating the same thing?
I’d like further to point out that we’ve not had a bite to eat for
twenty-four hours, and I personally can’t go on living on my own fat
without inconvenience, as you seem to do.”

“No savvy.”

“Well, to translate, I say I plenty-much fit for chop.”

White-Man’s-Trouble rubbed the waistband of his trousers tenderly.
“Me, too,” he admitted.

“Then, as there is only starvation and other unpleasant things behind,
I’m going ahead to prospect. Gee! There’s somebody on this side with
a rifle. And, by Christopher, there’s another rifle in the village
shooting back!”

The flintlock trade guns roared out at intervals, and every now and
again there came the sharp bark of smokeless powder, and its clean
whop-whop of a bullet from a modern rifle. By careful watching Carter
decided that there was only one rifle on each side, and he further made
out that one was bombarding the other to the exclusion of all lesser

Now when a man has hunger gnawing at the inside of his ribs, and knows,
moreover, that any movement in retreat will be fatal, it does not take
much to spur him on to an advance. So Carter went cautiously ahead,
keeping well under the fringe of the cover, and White-Man’s-Trouble,
who was copiously afraid, and who muttered evil things under his breath
in Kroo, hung on to the remains of the Gladstone bag and crouched along
at his heels.

Carter took a step at a time, and was cautious always not to rustle a
leaf or tread on a dead branch. So he pushed his way ahead, and when
the Krooboy, with less dexterity, blundered and made the shadow of a
noise, he turned upon him with such a look of ferocity that it awed
even so cross-grained a person as White-Man’s-Trouble. A dozen times
Carter nearly walked on to the heels of one or other of the attacking
force, and as often drew off unnoticed; and at last he made his way to
the place where he had located the rifle fire, and was closing in on it
from behind, when of a sudden he was confronted with a rifle muzzle
which suddenly spirted up from the middle of a clump of bush.

It swung up till it covered the left side of his chest, and hung steady
there for an appreciable number of seconds, and then a very well-known
voice said, “Well, Mr. Carter, I congratulate you on keeping your nerve
in spite of the climate.”

“Gee!” said Carter under his breath. “That’s old Swizzle-Stick Smith.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I said I’m sure that’s Mr. Smith.”

A bald head, garnished with an eyeglass, shaggy gray hair and a shaggy
beard, came forth. “May I ask what you are doing here? Thrown up your
commission by any chance?”

“Exactly that.”

“On your own?”

“Well, sir, starvation’s my master at present.”

“Oh, I beg pardon. Go into the mess and order what you’ll have. Or
look here, I’ve shot my man, so I’m free for the moment, and I’ll come
with you. Whiskey we’re out of, but I can recommend gin and soda. We
looted a sparklet machine, by the way, from the Frenchman.”

They worked cautiously back from the firing line, and came upon a mean
lean-to of boughs and thatch which Mr. Smith referred to as “my
headquarters.” As the mess-sergeant happened to be away, Mr. Smith
kindly produced from under the eaves a damp slab of translucent cassava
bread, which was obviously all the place contained in the way of food,
and extracting a square-faced bottle from a green box of trade gin,
poured out half a calabash full, added muddy water from a chattie, and
offered it to his guest.

“Come to think of it, that’s more healthy for you than soda, Mr.
Carter. So you’re not up here on O’Neill and Craven’s service, you
tell me?”

“No; handed in my papers, sir. I’m passing through here on urgent
private affairs.”

Mr. Smith put a hand inside his shabby pyjama coat and produced a piece
of new black-watered silk ribbon, on the end of which was an eyeglass.
He screwed this in place, and stared at his guest.

“Ah, then in that case, Mr. Carter, I shall have to hear more of your
projects before I can give you permission to pass through my territory.”

Carter stiffened. “Your territory? Oh, I remember. You’ve been
buying up rubber lands, of course, for the firm.”

“As a point of fact, I have not been worrying about the firm very
lately. When I said ‘my territory,’ I meant exactly that, neither more
nor less. Later I may turn it over to British protection. But
recently it was no man’s land, and as that infernal blackguard, the
King of Okky, was after it, I seized it for myself.”

“Hear, hear,” said Carter. “As the King of Okky was once indecently
keen on adding my head to his private collection, I can never be really
fond of that man, somehow.”

“Confound your head, sir! That had nothing to do with it. I didn’t
quarrel with the man for following out his ordinary African methods.
I’m going for him for letting in the French.”

Carter was clearly puzzled. “What on earth have the French to do with

“Exactly what they had to do with all the British West African
colonies. We hold a seaboard, and when the men on the spot try to
consolidate an influence in the hinterland, our Foreign Office promptly
truckles to the Anti-British party at home and tells them to drop it.
The Anti-British party says, ‘Oh no, we mustn’t make a sphere of
influence there. The Germans want it, or the French have set their
minds on it, or why shouldn’t poor dear Portugal have a chance there?
But whatever you do, don’t give it to nasty, greedy Great Britain.’
And unless the hand of the Foreign Office is absolutely forced, they
always do as the Anti-Britishers ask. You see the Anti-British party
is noisy and hysterical, and always shrieking that it can command
countless votes.” Mr. Smith limped across the hut and sat on a green
case and emphasized his further remarks with a powder-stained

“Well,” he said, “it’s an old game with me, and after all the official
kicks I’ve had I ought to have dropped it years ago. But somehow I
couldn’t resist the temptation. The King of Okky is our man by
geography and agreement. I have made representations to the F.O., till
I am sick of putting pen to paper, that he ought to be recognized and
patted on the back. They don’t even take the trouble to reply, much
less carry out the suggestions. Therefore the French, who have taken
hold of the hinterland, have done the obvious. They sent down a sort
of fourth-rate tin-pot sous-officier, and told him that if he fixed up
things all right for France they’d give him a commission and a 500
francs gratuity; and as he’d absolutely no competitors, he naturally
did the trick.”

“What a beastly shame!” Carter blurted out, and then felt surprised at
himself. It was about the first time in his life that the Englishman
that was within him had ever peeped out upon the surface.

“I know what the man’s expedition cost–practically nothing. I saw the
presents he gave old Kallee–£50 would have covered them. And for
that, and a mouthful of empty words, he gets half a million square
miles of territory, and trade of a present value of £100,000, and a
potential value of £750,000, at a low estimate. Well, Mr. Carter, I’m
braver than our F.O. I’m going to buck against the Anti-British party,
and I’m going to see that we keep in our own hands what rightly belongs
to us. I shall be called a pirate, but that doesn’t disturb me. I
lost all the reputation I had to lose at this same game years ago. I
was doing my duty here then in West Africa. A smug little beast of a
newspaper man got up in the House of Commons and demanded my dismissal.
He would never have been heard of if he hadn’t been consistently
Anti-British on every occasion when the country was in disagreement
with anyone else. But it was his dirty line, and it brought him a
certain disgraceful notoriety, which was what he was after. He could
command votes, or said he could, and the Government believed him. They
didn’t care particularly for England; their one interest was keeping
their party in office; and as I was a nuisance, I had to go. It wasn’t
a case of being actually broke, you must understand, Mr. Carter, but
they made things so awkward that I had to send in my papers all the
same. They tried the same game with Rhodes, and Curzon, and Milner,
the dirty little curs. They hate a man who tries to uphold Great
Britain’s dignity or give her another acre of territory.

“But here now, thank the Lord, I personally am unofficial, and I’m
doing exactly what I know to be best without fear or favor of anybody.”

“How far does your territory extend, sir?”

“As far as I can make it,” said Mr. Smith dryly.

“Are you going to let it be developed by the white man?”


“Then,” said Carter, “we shan’t clash, and I’m sure you will give me my
passports. I don’t know whether the place I am making for is in your
territory or the next king’s, but I’m going there purely for purposes
of development. I tell you frankly, I haven’t a bit of ambition at
present beyond making a pile. If ever I find myself a rich man I may
take a hand in the thankless game you are on at here. But that’s in
the future. In the meanwhile, if the question is not indiscreet, might
one ask if it was a Frenchman you were having that rifle duel with just

“The Frenchman’s down with fever. I was exchanging shots with a
soldier of fortune who is, I believe, an old acquaintance of yours.
Kwaka his name is.”

“Great Christopher! what a small place West Africa is. Old Kallee sent
Kwaka down to borrow my head for his collection, and after the way I
bamboozled that man I shouldn’t have been surprised if he’d been struck
off the Okky army list. Did you–er–make a clean job of him?”

“Winged only, I think. He kept very well to cover.”

“You were both blazing away for long enough.”

“Well,” chuckled Mr. Smith, “I’m afraid he hardly had a fair chance at
me. You see, I’d a boy with a trade gun lying under a log a dozen
yards to my right, and I’d a string from my foot to his trigger. When
I loosed off the Winchester I pulled the other gun too, and Kwaka shot
for the smoke every time, and made very good practice of it. That log
would be worth mining for lead.”

“When you take the place what shall you do with the Frenchman?”

“Just the same that he would do with me,” said the old man grimly.
“Now suppose we change the subject. The bush telegraphs have been
persistently talking about a white woman who’s been upsetting the face
of Africa, especially about our factories. Heard anything of her?”

Carter laughed shortly. “Of course I’ve heard. In fact, she’s why I’m
here. She’s Miss Kate O’Neill.”

The old man dropped his eyeglass to the end of its ribbon, fumbled for
it till he caught it again, and three times tried to screw it in place
before he got it fixed. “Kate O’Neill, you say? She’d be about
twenty–no, twenty-three years old?”

“I’m a bad judge, but I daresay she’d be about that. Why, do you know
her, sir?”

Mr. Smith straightened himself with an obvious effort. “As I have not
been to England for five-and-twenty years, is it likely? You said she
was English, I think?”

“As a point of fact, I did not, though presumably she is English. She
was not the late Godfrey O’Neill’s real relative. She was adopted, so
I heard. But he left her the business for all that, and she’s making
it hum. She’s marvellously able. But of course you have seen for
yourself more of her efforts than I have, sir.”

“I have seen them?”

Carter laughed. “I’m afraid you made the same mistake that everybody
else made, from Slade and old Image. She is the K. O’Neill of the
kindly-buck-up-and-get-it-done letters. She is the Mr. K. that you
chaffed me about at Malla-Nulla for admiring so much as a business man.”

“My God!” said Swizzle-Stick Smith, and sat back limply against the
wall of the hut, and then “My God!” he said again.

Carter hesitated, and then, “Did you,” he ventured, “know Miss Kate’s
own people before the late Godfrey took her over?”

Mr. Smith, with an obvious effort, pulled himself together. “I did,
Mr. Carter. Her mother–she–she died. Her father went under. He had
a pretty trying time of it first, but when the pinch came he went under
most thoroughly. Godfrey O’Neill, good fellow that he was, took the
child then, and so she got her chance, and, thank heaven, she’s used

Carter looked at the old man narrowly. “And is the father alive now?”

But by this time Mr. Smith was his old cool, profane self again. “How
the devil should I know? Do you think I keep track of all the failures
in Africa? You seem very interested in this young woman yourself. May
I ask if you’ve any aspirations in that direction?”

“If you mean have I any wish to marry her, I can answer that best by
telling you that I’m engaged to marry Laura Slade.”

“Ah, I see. Well, Mr. Carter, we will drop the subject, which is a
painful one to me for many reasons. Let us get on to your personal
schemes. In what way can I forward them?”

Tin Hill, when they got to it, carried riches that lay in full view of
the sky. The mountain of country rock which held the veins reared up
out of the dark green bush, red-streaked and barren, and the last day’s
march towards it lay through a heavy growth of rubber vines. Even the
Krooboy could not help noticing these.

“O Carter,” he said, “rubber lib for here. Dem Missy Kate she say
rubber-palaver beat oil-palaver, an’ kernels, an’ gum, all-e-same
cocked hat.”

“She didn’t. Those are my words of wisdom you’ve got hold of. Still I
admit the sentiments are Miss O’Neill’s. But the main thing is,
Trouble, that rubber takes capital and labor to handle, and this firm’s
short of both at the moment. We’ll leave rubber to Miss O’Neill for
the present.”

“O Carter, dem Missy Kate, she no fit for love you now?”

“She no fit,” said Carter, with a sigh, “because you savvy I fit for do
wife-palaver with dem Miss Laura.”

The last marches of Ali ben Hoosein’s road had been little travelled
during these latter months of political upheaval, and this meant that
the ever-growing bush had encroached, and passage was difficult.
Moreover, food was painfully scarce. Swizzle-Stick Smith, out of his
scanty store, had given them what he could, but this was soon eaten,
and once more they had been forced to fall back on that marvellous
thing, the kola nut. But though nibbling kola puts off the desire for
a meal, and makes one able to endure prolonged strains, it does not
fill gaps in the inside.

Both Carter and the Krooboy were very gaunt, and tattered, and
savage-looking when at last they arrived at the rock and the river; but
the omens seemed to change from that moment.

To begin with, Carter had a snap-shot at a gazelle and brought it down.
They lit a fire where they were, ate, and felt the blessedness of being
full for the first time for a fortnight. Then, whilst hunting for a
site for a hut, they came across a clump of plantains, wild certainly,
and coarse, but filling enough to men who had long outgrown any
niceties of palate. And at the farther side of the plantains, what
appeared to be a mere cubical mound of greenery disclosed itself upon
inspection to be a house.

“Ghosts,” whimpered White-Man’s-Trouble, and shrank back.

“I hope so,” said Carter. “They’d give us local news, anyway, and
might be amusing to talk to. But I never met ghosts outside a
story-book, and I’m afraid there’ll be none here. I wonder who lived
on this spot? Stone house, with limed walls three feet six thick, and
a flat cement roof. Inside area–phew! it smells musty–twenty feet by
twelve. No, by Christopher! there’s another room on beyond. Storeroom
that–oh, beg pardon, Mr. Snake. My mistake. Good-afternoon!”

He shot out into the open again by the doorway, and several snakes who
resided in the farther room made exit by the window.

“When in doubt as to the authorship of any West African monument, one
always puts it down to the early Portuguese,” Carter mused, “and we’ll
leave it at that for the present. Original occupants have been gone
any time these last two hundred years. Well, if we strip off these
vines and creepers from the outside, and light fires inside to sweeten
the air a bit, we shall have the most palatial quarters. The question
now is whether there is a mine and whether it is worth working.”

But that last point very quickly answered itself. Three great veins of
tin-stone sliced vertically into the mother rock. Two of them were
forty feet wide, the third was sixty. The face ran up at a steep
angle, and a great beer-colored river swilled away at its foot, and
undermined it, and with the help of the sun, kept chattering screes
always cascading down the slope.

“This isn’t a mine,” Carter shouted exultantly, “it’s a quarry! Bring
a steamer up alongside here, and every man that works could shovel two
hundred sovereigns’ worth of ore into her from these dumps each hour
without so much as putting a pick in. Why, the outcrops are scarcely
leached at all. When we’ve worked twenty yards or so into the veins
I’ll rig a temperley transporter and guy it to these rocks above, and
run the stuff straight from where it grew into a steamer’s holds.
Great Christopher! Kate had better look out: I’m not going to let her
be the only millionaire on earth.”

“Dem stones with yellow glass on him worth money?” asked


“In Liverpool?”

“Well, say Swansea or Cardiff; practically the same thing.”

“No worth money here?”

“I’d sell you a ton for a fill of tobacco.”

“How you get it to coast? You no fit to pay carriers.”

“By water, my pagan friend. We make steamah lib for here.”

“Steamah no fit,” said the Krooboy, and spat contemptuously into the
yellow stream. “Dem cappies no savvy way here. Dem ribber no savvy
way to Coast.”

“That’s a bit beyond my linguistic powers. You must translate some

“Dem ribber,” the Krooboy explained patiently, “no fit for run to dem

“Then where the deuce does it run to? Does a Ju-ju drink it?”

“Ju-ju no fit for touch dem ribber,” said White-Man’s-Trouble, taking
the question literally. “But dem ribber run into dem squidge-squidge,
an’ lib for die!”

“Runs into a swamp and gets lost! My great Christopher, the odds are
you’re right. But why in the name of thunder didn’t you tell me that

“I no savvy,” said the Krooboy simply, “where you come. O Carter, I
come after you from Mokki because I think you no fit for carry dem bag.”

Carter swung round and picked up White-Man’s-Trouble’s hand and shook
it heartily. “You’ve got a very white inside to you,” he said.

But the African was not flattered. He pulled away his limp hand as
soon as it was set free, and rubbed his abdomen nervously. “O Carter,
I no fit for white inside. I no ju-ju boy. I dam common Krooboy.”

Thence onwards there was impressed on Carter’s mind these three great
facts–One: He had found a mine of immense potential value. Two: He
could never turn his minerals into cash unless he could find a water
channel down to the Coast. And three: If he couldn’t discover that
channel himself no one else would, at any rate for his benefit.

He thought these matters over during one torrid night, and resolved to
devote the next day to exploration. He had had predecessors on the
place, house building predecessors who had left a series of
rust-streaks which he translated into mining tools. Presumably they
were Europeans. How did they propose to deal with this ore? Smelt it
on the spot, or bag it and get it to the Coast?

If they were West African Portuguese of the olden time, he was fully
aware that they would be using slave labor for everything, and he tried
to figure out if it was possible, even with slave porters, to carry
concentrates down to the Coast and leave a sufficient margin for
profit. Even with the most liberal estimates he could not make it so,
taking into account the slow-sailing ships, the crude smelting methods,
and the lower prices of the old days. Remained then the passage of the
creek and river channels, and if these old Portuguese had found a
waterway, why, then, so could he.

So next day he set out to hunt for a quay, or any other traces of
shipping ore, or perhaps some evidences of boat-building, and he
pressed his way through vine and bush, and over crag and scree, till
the scorching heat had drained his lean body of moisture, and his knees
zigzagged beneath him through sheer weakness and weariness.

Then he made a discovery, and sat down, and for the moment felt faint
and discouraged.

He had nearly walked in onto the top of a native village.

He had been going down-wind, or the smoke of their fires would have
warned him earlier. As it was, the bark of a scavenger dog gave him
the first hint of the village’s nearness, or he would have descended
onto its roofs. It lay beneath a small bluff, and its houses so
assimilated with the rest of the forest that even close at hand it was
hard to pick out the human dwellings.

It was the hour of heat, when only Englishmen and dogs (according to
the old libel) are wont to be abroad, and the village slept. Even the
dogs found the heat too great for wakefulness, so that only the
Englishman carried an open eye. But the smell of the place advertised
it as a village of fishers, and a closer scrutiny showed the harvest of
the river, gutted, and strung up upon the stripped boughs of trees to
dry in the outrageous sun-heat. There are always markets for these
dried river fish throughout all West Africa.

Carter backed into thicker cover, and waited till the sun began once
more to cast a shadow, and the village woke. First the dogs opened
their eyes and began their endless scavengers’ prowl. Then the
children came out to play in the dust. Next the women roused to do the
village work. And last of all, the men emerged from the clumps of
bush, which one had to accept as huts, spear-armed all of them, and sat
in the patches of purple shade, and oversaw all, to approve and direct.

“You lazy hounds,” said the Englishman to himself, “I should like to
set you to shoveling ore all day, and signing checks all night for your
women’s bonnet bills. But then,” he reminded himself with a sigh,
“there are some women these days who insist on working themselves,
however hard you may press your services.”

He reported his find to White-Man’s-Trouble on his return to the old
Portuguese house that evening, and that worthy was seized with his
usual tremors. “O Carter,” said he, “dem bushmen that live by
fish-palaver fit for be worst kind of bushmen. They come here one day
soon, an’ they throw spear till we lib for die, an’ they chop us
afterwards. You savvy?” said the Krooboy, with a whimper and a
shudder–“chop us after?”

“Don’t try and work up my feelings over the post-mortem, because you
can’t do it. Once dead, what happens to my vile corpse doesn’t
interest me. But I don’t intend to peg out yet, especially at the
hands of a pack of ignorant cannibals like these. Observe, Trouble.
You have seen me practise ju-ju already?”

“I fit.”

“And you have been my assistant in the black art?”

The Krooboy shuddered, but he said sturdily enough, “I fit.”

“Well and good. Then to-morrow we will weave infernal charms over this
pleasing spot, till no mere black man, be he cannibal or be he simple
fisherman, will dare to press his sacrilegious toes upon it.”

A stream of water poured over one part of the cliffs, that Carter
designed hereafter for a power-plant to handle his ores. But in the
meanwhile he turned it to a more immediate use. He cut wide bamboos,
and fitting them into one another, formed a great pipe which would
receive water and air together. With stones, and clay, and grasses he
built a box to receive the air and water, and made a cunningly devised
trap through which the water could escape, but not the air. Then with
more bamboos he built him organ pipes and set the mouths of these in
the box, so that the air should drive through them and blow a dismal
note. And next, with further ingenuity he fashioned a commutating
valve, also worked automatically by the water, which for a time would
shut off the water, and then set it going again to thrill the air with
the notes boo-paa-bumm, in ascending scale, and a minute later to reply

It was all extremely simple when one knew how it was done, and
extremely startling to walk in upon from the depths of a primeval
African forest, and the fishers of the village, when the sounds first
broke in upon their nervous ears, threw themselves down upon the dust,
and waited for the end of the world, which they felt sure was at hand.

To them then appeared a white man who was clothed from head to foot
with garlands of dark green leaves of the rubber vine, and had on his
head hair which was of the sacred color of red. He was followed by a
Krooboy bearing the blue tribal mark between his brows, and having a
sheaf of feathers stuck above his right ear, where the ordinary
tooth-cleaning stick should have been carried. These explained in
bold, clear tones that they were the chief ju-ju men of all Africa, and
that the portent which was even then _boo-paa-bumm-ing_ behind them was
sent by powers unseen to herald their coming. But they did not
represent the evil, the harmful ju-ju. If only they were treated with
the profound respect which was their due they would be a beneficent
influence, with a special protective eye to that village of fishers.
The catch should increase, the markets widen, and peace should hem in
the roads through which the villagers travelled.

“But each morning we must have an offering of fresh-caught fish,”
White-Man’s-Trouble proclaimed, “together with the wood necessary for
their cooking. (O Carter, I no fit for gather cook-wood when I ju-ju
man,” he explained to his companion.)

The scheme took; there was no doubt about that. Never were villagers
so pleased at securing the supernatural protection, which all Africans
desire, at so meagre a cost. Men, women and children, they got up from
the dust, and they slobbered over the Krooboy’s toes, and over the
remains of Carter’s canvas shoes, and to show their willingness, the
men went down to the marigold-smelling river then and there to procure
the wherewithal to make their initial offering.

White-Man’s-Trouble scratched himself thoughtfully and looked over
those that were left. “O Carter,” he said, “I no fit for cook dem food
when I ju-ju man. We take with us two-three, all-e-same slaves, to be
house-boy an’ do dem work.”

“No,” said Carter shortly, “we shall do nothing of the kind.”

The Krooboy stared. “Why you no fit?”

“I know what you’re after, and I’ve got my reasons, though you wouldn’t
appreciate them. However, I suppose I must invent something that will
appeal to you. If dem bushmen lib for house with us they soon see we
no real ju-ju men, an’ they tell their friends. Then their friends
come up some dark night and chop us. Savvy?”

“O Carter,” said White-Man’s-Trouble, “you plenty-great man!”

Now there are two ways of working a mine. One is to sell it to a
limited company which in return for certain concessions kindly puts up
the necessary capital for development; the other way is to find the
capital out of one’s own private resources, and annex all the resultant

But Carter had a poor opinion of the size of his own share if the first
of these methods were carried out. To begin with, he knew nothing of
company promoting. He would have to employ an expert, who would want
the lion’s share of the plunder; and indeed he quite realized that a
tin mine up an unknown river in the territory of no man’s land would
take a powerful lot of selling even to that gullible body of
mining-share purchasers of the British public. The more he thought
over the limited company idea, the less chance of profits did he see in
it for himself. And he wanted those profits badly. He had not risked
life and health to study African scenery and customs.

On the other hand, he was at the moment absolutely penniless. If he
did discover a waterway down to the coast–or rather when he had
discovered that waterway, for he was fully determined to do it–how
much forwarder would he be? What steamer could he charter? None. By
no means could he get one without giving up a large slice of his
precious mine to the man who ran the risk. He did not blame them. He
put himself in the traders’ places. If he were running a down-river
factory, and had a launch, and some tattered red-headed fellow came
down out of the back of beyond with a wild tale about a tin mine, and
asked for the loan of the launch, and promised to pay when a cargo was
brought down, and sent to a smelter in England and realized upon, what
would he say to such a preposterous offer? Why, he would laugh at it.
The proposition was not one that any business man would entertain.

No, he must get some capital, and buy that launch. And then came the
question of where was the capital to come from.

His father? Well, he was engaged to Laura, and he did not feel like
going near his father.

Slade?–Smith? Neither of them had a penny.

O’Neill and Craven? That meant Kate. He started as if he had been
stung at the idea of going to Kate and asking her for money. Kate was
successful, and she could loan it easily. Granted, and if she had been
successful so would he be, and without her help. He shook an angry
fist at Africa. “Curse you, if you’ve given her a fortune you’ve got
to give me one too, or I’ll take it in spite of you!”

He had a touch of fever that night, and White-Man’s-Trouble plied him
with decoctions of herbs of such appalling nastiness that (in his own
phrase) he decided to get well quickly, merely to avoid the drugs. But
it was a fancy built of that fever which put him on the path of success.

He imagined that the shades of the old Portuguese, who had built the
strong stone house in those far-off days, came in that night to visit
him. They were miners, too, or metal workers, he could not make out
which, and they strutted about in long patched cotton stockings which
reached to mid-thigh, and a combination garment of thick cloth that
covered all the rest of them. Even in that stifling room, and in that
baking climate, they wore metal helmets and metal body armor, and
Carter wondered how they could go abroad into the sunshine and not be
cooked alive in their shells.

But he did not content himself for long with this idle observation.
There was a method even in his fevered dreaming. He put the question:
Did they get their stuff down to the Coast on the heads of carriers?
The ghosts laughed at the idea of such a thing. “Why should we go
against our nature? We Portuguese–in the days when we lived, who
speak to you now–we were seamen and rivermen always. So we built
great flat boats and swam our goods down the rivers.”

“Christopher!” said the Englishman, “there’s just the tip I’ve been
waiting for. A sort of raft. By Gee! I’m going to shake hands with
you for bringing the news.”

But in that hospitable attempt he was stopped by the burly
White-Man’s-Trouble, who sat on his chest, till he promised to lie
still again.

A further brilliant idea came to Carter next morning that after all he
and White-Man’s-Trouble had been raising difficulties about the river’s
navigation that were quite unnecessary. There was a village of natives
close at their door who were river-farers. What was more likely than
that there were many men there who could pilot a canoe through a chain
of creeks till at last they heard the great Atlantic surf roaring on a
river bar?

White-Man’s-Trouble shook his head when he heard the suggestion. “Dem
bushmen savvy nothing,” said he contemptuously.

Upon experiment it proved that he was right. The villagers had
acquired the habit of fishing on the reaches which ran two miles up
stream and two miles down; they had adopted the customs of their
forefathers; no one of them had ever paddled beyond these limits. They
were an incurious people.

Their canoes were small, and narrow, and unwieldy. They were dug out
from cotton-wood trees with fire, and dubbed into vague shape with
native adzes, and through sheer idleness and incapacity the builders
had rarely selected straight timber. Even expert polers and paddlers
could not propel those miserable craft in a straight course. One thing
only were these fishers good at, and that was baling. But in this they
had abundant practice, for all the canoes were sun-cracked, and leaked
like baskets.

“I wish,” said Carter, “for a great raft that will carry twelve tons of
the shiny stones which fall from the mountain.”

They did not know what a raft was, neither did they appreciate the size
of a ton, but Carter demonstrated to them, and White-Man’s-Trouble kept
them from forgetting. The Krooboy had found a chiquot, and, from
having felt chiquots across all parts of his own person many a time,
was well qualified to wield such a baton of authority. Carter picked
out suitable cotton woods, and the Krooboy apportioned out the cutters,
and stayed beside them till their work was done.

They handspiked the logs down to the water, again having to be
instructed in this most elementary piece of mechanics, laid
cross-pieces at right angles, and lashed all tightly together with
lianes. Then when they had built up the interstices between the logs
with large pieces of tin-stone, they carried down the smaller ore in
baskets till the logs were sunk to three-quarters draught.

Next they built a house on the raft and covered it with thatch, and in
part of the house they piled a great store of dried fish as provision
for the voyage. And all the while the ju-ju organ behind them boomed
out at intervals its dismal boo-paa-bumm, bumm-paa-boo.

Now although Carter had been a trader long enough to get very African
notions of the negro and his ways, still he had an Englishman’s natural
bias against forced labor. White-Man’s-Trouble, who did not see the
desirability of working if others would do it for him, openly suggested
pressing what hands were required for navigation. But Carter said no.
He had no money to pay them with on arrival, and the lower castes of
Africans do not understand the delights of having outstanding accounts
with the white man for labor performed. The Krooboy and he must
struggle down the creeks and find the channel themselves.

White-Man’s-Trouble sniffed and scratched himself, and said they would
see. And presently when the time came for departure the usual African
surprise descended upon them surely enough. Seven naked savages from
the fishers’ village squatted on the raft and refused to budge. Their
arguments were simple. Carter was a great ju-ju man. They knew he was
great, because since he came the _boo-baa-bumm_ noises had been
incessant. Moreover, these were beneficent noises, since whilst they
filled the air no one had died in the village from leopard, crocodile,
or alien spear. They therefore adopted him as their master.

“Oh, but look here,” said Carter, “I can’t do this. It means I should
be a slave-holder, neither more nor less. Besides, with you seven
great lumps sitting there, the raft’s awash. If I take you I shall
have to jettison some of my tin-stone.”

But they had no further arguments. They sat placid. They had lived in
cousinship with fear all their squalid lives, and here at last had
arrived the strong man who could certainly protect them if he would.
And they intended he should.

Carter thought for a minute, and then, “I won’t have it,” said he.
“Trouble, drive them ashore.”

White-Man’s-Trouble spoke, and nothing happened. He laced into their
bare backs with his chiquot, but still they did not budge. One of
them, who seemed to be spokesman, merely talked to him quietly.

The Krooboy explained. “Dem bushmen very uneducate. Dey say if you no
take ’em dey lib for die. Dem big black fellow there wid one ear, he
say if you no take him, he walk into dem ribber an’ be crocodile chop.”

“They’ll do it, too, confound them,” Carter assured himself vexedly.

And so it came to pass, as he could not very well condemn the
enterprising seven to death–for that is what leaving them amounted
to–he was forced to take them with him, and very idle, inefficient
boatmen they proved. They knew nothing of the river, once the two
miles of their fishing had been passed; they had no idea of the obvious
set of currents, no eyes for the plainest shoal. If they were left to
themselves for a dozen minutes they would run the raft into the bush,
and as likely as not get on board a cargo of red ants that seemed to
have white-hot teeth when they started to bite. They gorged upon the
scanty store of dried fish if they were not watched, and never caught
more unless they were incessantly goaded. When the reeking yellow
river was more than usually full of crocodiles they would dangle their
legs over the side; and when the raft was drifting past a village which
was most probably hostile, they would break into song. They always
felt that the great white ju-ju man, under whose protection they had
elected to place themselves, was competent to shelter them if he so
desired. And if he willed otherwise, and they died, well, that did not
greatly concern them. They were very exasperating animals, and Carter
about three times a day much wished that the handling of them could be
transferred to some of those kind-hearted people at home who always
insist that the negro of the West Africa hinterland is a man and a

They had a small dugout canoe in tow, and greatly they needed it.
After twice running the big raft down streams that ended in impassable
morass, and having tediously to tow and punt her back against the
current, they always hereafter sent the lighter craft ahead on voyages
of discovery. Or to be more accurate, Carter had to go in her with one
of the fishers as assistant. The excellent White-Man’s-Trouble had
limits to his intelligence, and there was no driving into him that
water which would carry a canoe that drew three inches of water was too
shallow for a heavy raft that drew three feet.

The Winchester rifle and the remains of the Gladstone bag seemed the
only two things that linked them now with civilization. They lived in
the African manner upon African food; the intricate branching of the
creeks was charted in matchet-scratches upon the smoothed surface of a
log of wood; even English speech was discarded in favor of the native

Carter had shaved till the steamy atmosphere of the bush had turned his
razors into mere sticks of rust; and with the growth of his red stubble
of beard, all respect for his outward man had vanished. He caught
sight of himself one evening in a pool of black water. “Well,” he
commented, “I always thought that Swizzle-Stick Smith was a filthy old
ruffian, but at his worst he looks a prince to me now. That I suppose
is where gray has the pull over ginger.”

But it was the rescue of the King of Okky which really gave the turn to
the whole of Carter’s fortune. They had got the raft into a regular
cul-de-sac of reeds and water-lilies, and she lay there stuck on a
shoal in the face of a falling river. Creeks radiated all around them
like the spokes of some gigantic wheel. The place was alive with
crocodiles and flies. Not very far away an intertribal battle
advertised itself by an ugly mutter of firing.

“An’ chop no lib,” said White-Man’s-Trouble, by way of winding up the
sum of their difficulties.

“Well, find some,” Carter snapped. “Make spears, and stab the fish up
out of the mud if you can’t catch them with nets or hooks. Only see
that there’s a meal ready for me when I get back, or I’ll lam into you
with that chiquot you’re so fond of using.”

He went off then in the warped dugout, with the one-eared man as bow
pole, laboriously hunting for a passage into some main stream. The
river beneath them gave up fat bubbles of evil odors; the banks of
slime on either side reeked under the sun blaze. A dozen times Carter
thought he saw open water ahead, and pushed on, and a dozen times found
himself embayed. And always he had to jot down compass notes with a
nail on the well-scored gunwale of the canoe, so as to keep in touch
with the raft, and be ready against that forthcoming time when he would
have to pilot a steam launch up to Tin Hill. For though he barely
expected to escape with life out of this horrible labyrinth of creeks
and waterways, be it always understood he intended to return and demand
from the country a fortune, if so be he ever got down again to the

At last, however, he swung out into what was obviously a main channel,
and was on the point of turning back to fetch the raft, when his eye
was held by something that moved sluggishly in mid-stream.

It lay up towards the sun, and was hard to make out because of the
dazzle of radiance.

“Can you see what that is?” he asked his bow man in the native.

“It is just a man on a branch,” said that savage, with cheerful
indifference. “Presently the crocodiles will chop him. Shall we go
back now, Effendi, to the raft?”

“No, my callous friend. We’ll investigate the person in the tree
first. Full speed ahead!”

The clumsy dugout lurched and twisted down the broad marigold-smelling
river, and as there was a strong current under her, she soon drew the
obstruction into clearer view.

It was a tree clearly enough, swept down by some flood and stranded
here in mid-channel to form one of the myriad snags with which West
African rivers abound. In it was a black man who hung by his hands
from the upper branches, and was perpetually pulling up his toes like
some ridiculous jumping-jack. He was a very fat man, and his movements
were getting more feeble even as they watched him. But it was not till
they got close alongside that they saw the impelling motive of these

A twelve-foot crocodile was in attendance beneath the tree, and every
now and again it swam up with a great swirl and shot its grisly jaws
out of the water, and snapped noisily at the fat man’s toes.

Carter lifted his Winchester and waited for a chance, but of a sudden
his bow man turned to him with a face that was gray with fear. “That
man,” he said, “is the King of Okky, and if you save him, presently we
shall both die.”

“I had already recognized the gentleman, and I fancy he’s far more my
enemy than yours, but I’m going to pull him out of this mess for all
that, and give him a good level start again on dry land.”

Then as the crocodile jumped once more, he threw up his rifle and shot
it under the left foreleg, where the protective plates are absent.

[Illustration: Then, as the crocodile jumped once more, he threw up his
rifle and shot it under the left foreleg, where the protective plates
are absent.]

The brute jumped, and writhed, and swam away amid cascades of golden
spray, and as the bullet was soft-nosed and expanding there would
probably be, before many more hours were over, one less pest in Africa.
But Carter did not worry his head about that. He paddled the dugout to
the tree and called to the King.

His Majesty of Okky was fat, and though once he had been a giant in
strength, in these latter years of kingship he had grown soft and
flabby. He did all his journeyings in hammock and canoe, and had
slaves who saved him the smallest scrap of exercise; and, moreover, he
ate and drank to vast excess. So that when the immediate strain was
over it can be understood how he hung in the upper branches of that
tree too limp and exhausted even to lower himself into the canoe.
Carter had to climb onto the branch, and bear a hand before he could
get down.

The dugout sank perilously beneath his weight, but the King was no
amateur, and balanced cannily. Moreover, presently he panted himself
into articulate speech. “I fit for gin,” said the King of Okky.

“I bet you are,” Carter agreed. “But unfortunately the bar on this
packet’s closed for want of supplies just at the moment. Try a sup of
the local ditch-water out of the baler.”

The King did so, and made a face. “I have not drunk water since I
became a King,” said he. “O Carter, do not turn up stream. I have men
at a village down yonder.”

“I don’t doubt it. But having saved your skin, King, I’ve my own to
think of now.”

The King’s great body began to shake with laughter.

“Stop that,” said Carter sharply, “or you’ll burst the gunwales out.”

“O Carter,” said Kallee, speaking in Okky, “listen. It is only by my
favor that you have lived so long. We are both ju-ju men, and between
such it is useless to make pretence. But I can tell you all you did
since you left Mokki, and met Smith, and went to the cliff whereof ben
Hossein told you, and saw the stones which carry the brown glass which
you covet so much. I can tell you of your machine which says
boo-paa-bumm, and of the way you came down these creeks on a raft, and
how you labored prodigiously in the blind channels. I had arranged to
let you get so far. To-morrow, when you came abreast of my villages,
canoes would have come out–” Here the King screwed round his fat neck
and eyed Carter over his shoulder–“O Carter, do you think it strange
that I should have wanted a head such as yours?”

“You would not tell me this now if you still wanted that head.”

One could not deny that somehow the man had a certain regal dignity
about him. “O Carter,” he said, “if I have a King’s lusts, I have all
of a King’s gratitude. I was travelling down this river. My canoe was
overturned by a snag, and it and the paddlers were swept away down
stream, and if the crocodiles have not dealt with the men I will give
them their due presently. For myself, I climbed into that tree as you
saw, and could not have endured longer. What account was open between
us we will wipe from the tally. I owe you for my life now, and I will

“Are my Krooboy and the fishers included in the treaty?”

The King shrugged his great shoulders. “I could give you a better
servant than White-Man’s-Trouble, and better paddlers than those
fishermen. But if they please you, they shall remain alive and well
treated. Paddle now quickly down stream to the village, O Carter, and
we will drink Krug champagne till a goat is slain and chop prepared.”

The village, when they came to it, was not a pleasant sight. It had
been rebellious, and the King of Okky had been instilling discipline
with a strong hand. Furthermore, two of his canoemen had escaped from
the river and reported that the King was drowned. They were also
attended to in a way that prevented their ever erring again in this
world. The King dispensed champagne, and arranged great matters of
life and death with a massive impartiality. And between whiles he
found abundant time to talk with his guest, now using Coast English for
the sake of greater privacy. His knowledge of what had been going on
was at times almost uncanny.

“O Carter,” he said, “dem Laura, she lib for Teach-palaver house in Las

“She left for Las Palmas in the _Frau Pobst_ certainly. But I don’t
know where she is staying.”

“Teach-palaver house,” said the King placidly, “by Telde.”

“She was at school once at a convent on the Telde road.”

“She lib for there now.”

“I say, King, how the deuce do you know that?”

“Savvy plenty funny things,” said the King, and turned to do justice on
another culprit who was brought before him for trial.

The royal _ménage_ was simple. They dined off a couscousoo and a bowl
of stewed goat, such as any well-to-do native farmer might have set on
the floor before him for his meal, and thereafter they sat on mats of
elaborate straw-work upon the hard earth, and the King consumed at a
moderate computation one ounce of snuff before he was inclined for
further talk.

Then, “O Carter,” said he, “what for dis stone palaver?”

“When that stone is taken to my country they heat it in a furnace with
other things, and a white metal runs out.”

“Okky-man no fit for make him?”

“No, the job’s too complicated.”

“Dem stone worth lot o’ money, or you no fit for carry small-small load
all dem way to coast. And a whole hill of dem stone lib far up ribber.
So dem hill worth plenty-much lot o’ money.”

“There goes my pile,” thought Carter bitterly. “The greedy old
ruffian’s going to hook it for himself.”

The King went on. “Dem Kate, she fit for be O’Neill and Craven now?”

“I suppose you may say she is.”

“Smith an’ Slade all-e-same work-boy for O’Neill and Craven?”

“If you like to put it that way.”

“Good. And you,” went on this well-informed monarch, wagging a fat
forefinger, “you want marry Kate, same’s I wanted to marry Laura, an’
she no fit for have you, same’s Laura no fit for have me dem time?”

Carter dropped his chin onto his knees and said nothing. The King went
on, “O Carter, you fit for save my life dis day. If you no come wid
dem canoe, I lib for be crocodile chop this minute. So I do not take
your red–I do not make you lib for die as I say dis morning, but I fit
for make you glad. Dem Dutchmen hold dem factory now at Mokki?”

“They do.”

“Then I send my war-boys in at back an’ stop roads. But I take ju-ju
off roads to dem O’Neill and Craven factories at Smooth, an’ Monk, and

“That’s very good of you, I’m sure.”

“Then dem Kate she love you much when she find dem factory once more do

“I’m afraid, King, it would take a lot more than that to make Kate feel
attached to me. You see, I’m no longer in O’Neill and Craven’s
service. I chucked it when she sold Mokki, and I’ve been on my own
ever since.”

The King’s eyes gave the ghost of a twinkle. “Den I no fit for open
dem roads. So I make you dash another way. I send you for Coast in
big canoe of sixty paddles.”

“With White-Man’s-Trouble?”

“Wid your boy, an’ your cargo. I send you in three days’ time six more
canoes of sixty paddles, full of dem stone you wish. I dash you dem
hill of stone where you set up dem dam ju-ju boo-paa-bumm. I tell dem
men who lib for ribber banks that you be free for come an’ go on all my
country while I lib for King; an’ if any man he hurt you, I take dem
man an’ I nail him by hands an’ feet to a tree!”

Carter looked up. “Do you mean that?”

The King took snuff. “When I say to a man you lib for die, he die.
When I say ‘I let you lib,’ then he lib. When I say to a man, ‘I make
you dash,’ he get dem dash, even though I have to send my war-boys to
take it from somebody other to give it him. O Carter, I lib for be
real King.”

“You mean you’ve given me a fortune in return for the small thing I did
for you?”

“My life,” said the King dryly, “he seem small thing to you. But to
me”–he patted his rotundity–“to me dem life be plenty big.”

Three days Carter abode in the village, and kept to the inside of his
hut to avoid the sights of the place, which to a European eye are
unpleasant when an African King is visiting his displeasure upon unruly
subjects. He was ministered unto by White-Man’s-Trouble, who paid him
much unaccustomed deference, and forebore to steal the smallest thing.
And at nights he sat with the King, who had an educated palate in
champagne, and drank vintage wine at the rate of one case in four days.

“When I lib back for Okky City,” the King said once, “you fit for come
and see me there now?”

“Certainly, King, if you’ll name a date when you haven’t got a custom

King Kallee looked thoughtfully at his guest. “Dem English no fit for
like dem custom-palaver?”

“They don’t, one little bit.”

“For why?”

“Gets on their nerves.”

“Dem English King, he send his war-boys if I make dem custom-palaver

“It’s the common topic of conversation down the Coast as to when
England will send an expedition to cut you up.”

“Because I stop dem roads an’ spoil trade to factories?”

“Pooh, King! You know precious little about the British Government.
You may spoil all the trade in Africa if you like, you may even cut up
half a dozen factory agents or so, and the British Government won’t
care a little hang. But if you will go on in your simple way
crucifying slaves, and carving up your own subjects, why, then, it’s
only a question of time before they’ll pull you off your perch and send
you into an inexpensive exile in St. Helena.”

“Dem Swizzle-Stick Smith he say same thing.”

“It’s so obvious.”

“But he want me to let him hand dem Okky country over to England, so I
say I pull his skin off if I catch him again. What you want for

“Do you mean what do I stand to make out of the deal? Well, not much
beyond the satisfaction of keeping your crucifixion tree in a more
sanitary state. With the mining right you have given me, I shall be a
rich man.”

“But if dem English took Okky country?”

“Why, they’d tax the mine, and they’d clap on regulations, till they
made a very fine hole in the profits.”

“Say dem again.”

Carter explained more fully, and then for awhile the King of Okky sat
and took snuff in silence.

Then, “O Carter,” he asked, “dem King of England he got so many
war-boys as me?”

Carter nodded.

“And dey no have trade guns? All Winchesters?”

“I don’t know what the present regulation pump-gun is called, but we’ll
say it’s like the Winchester, only plenty-too-much better.”

Again the King thought in silence, and the hot night rustled and sighed
around them. The moonlight was strong enough to show even the fibre of
the fine state mats on which they sat. But at last he motioned away
the slave who carried his snuff-mull, and touched Carter’s knee with an
emphatic finger.

“I believe you speak for true about dem custom. Three days ago you no
care if I lib or die?”

“I may as well be frank, and say I should have preferred you dead.”

The King gave the ghost of a grin. “There are many like that. But

“Now I prefer you alive and King of Okky.”

“Dat is what I thought, an’ so I believe you say true when you tell me
what you say about dem customs. I do not see why Okky customs should
make dem English king fit for send his war-boys. But I no fit for want

“So you fit for stop dem customs?”

“I fit,” said the King, and by that decision gave respite, it has been
calculated, to at least eight thousand of his subjects each year who
had gone the red paths prescribed by ju-ju.

They drew up a memorandum on the subject there and then, in the form of
a letter from the King of Okky to him of Great Britain. Carter
suggested the British Foreign Secretary, but Kallee would not hear of
it. He as a King, he said, was the equal of any other King. So on a
sheet of damp, mildewed note-paper the message was written, and signed
by the King in an Arabic scrawl.

And next day it travelled down to the Coast in state inside the
battered remains of a once-yellow gladstone bag.