The People of the River - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The People of the River ebook

Edgar Wallace

0,0

Opis

The setting is Nigeria a century ago, and British District Commissioner R.G. Sanders oversees the tribes. He discovers that Bosambo has been acting as chief without approval, but is so impressed with his skills Sanders allows him to remain in place, but Sanders heads to England to marry and unrest follows. The classic Commissioner Sanders stories about Africa by Edgar Wallace. This is the second collection in the series, following „Sanders of the River”. Wallace served in Africa and he gets the background right. Both books were written in the same year, when world powers were vying for colonial honor. Great humor, lots left to the readers imagination, but delightful stories about individuals and their interactions with Commissioner Sanders, British authority figure.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 371

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

I. A CERTAIN GAME

II. THE ELOQUENT WOMAN

III. THE AFFAIR OF THE LADY MISSIONARY

IV. THE SWIFT WALKER

V. BRETHREN OF THE ORDER

VI. THE VILLAGE OF IRONS

VII. THE THINKER AND THE GUM-TREE

VIII. NINE TERRIBLE MEN

IX. THE QUEEN OF THE N'GOMBI

X. THE MAN ON THE SPOT

XI. THE RISING OF THE AKASAVA

XII. THE MISSIONARY

XIII. A MAKER OF SPEARS

XIV. THE PRAYING MOOR

XV. THE SICKNESS MONGO

XVI. THE CRIME OF SANDERS

XVII. SPRING OF THE YEAR

I. A CERTAIN GAME

SANDERS had been away on a holiday.

The Commissioner, whose work lay for the main part in wandering through a malarial country in some discomfort and danger, spent his holiday in travelling through another malarial country in as great discomfort and at no less risk. The only perceptible difference, so far as could be seen, between his work and his holiday was that instead of considering his own worries he had to listen to the troubles of somebody else.

Mr. Commissioner Sanders derived no small amount of satisfaction from such a vacation, which is a sure sign that he was most human.

His holiday was a long one, for he went by way of St. Paul de Loanda overland to the Congo, shot an elephant or two in the French Congo, went by mission steamer to the Sangar River and made his way back to Stanley Pool.

At Matadi he found letters from his relief, a mild youth who had come from headquarters to take his place as a temporary measure, and was quite satisfied in his inside mind that he was eminently qualified to occupy the seat of the Commissioner.

The letter was a little discursive, but Sanders read it as eagerly as a girl reads her first love letter. For he was reading about a land which was very dear to him.

“Umfebi, the headman of Kulanga, has given me a little trouble. He wants sitting on badly, and if I had control... “ Sanders grinned unpleasantly and said something about “impertinent swine,” but did he not refer to the erring Umfeb? “I find M’laka, the chief of the Little River, a very pleasant man to deal with: he was most attentive to me when I visited his village and trotted out all his dancing girls for my amusement.” Sanders made a little grimace. He knew M’laka for a rascal and wondered. “A chief who has been most civil and courteous is Bosambo of the Ochori. I know this will interest you because Bosambo tells me that he is a special protege of yours. He tells me how you had paid for his education as a child and had gone to a lot of trouble to teach him the English language. I did not know of this.”

Sanders did not know of it either, and swore an oath to the brazen sky to take this same Bosambo, thief by nature, convict by the wise provision of the Liberian Government, and chief of the Ochori by sheer effrontery, and kick him from one end of the city to the other.

“He is certainly the most civilised of your men,” the letter went on. “He has been most attentive to the astronomical mission which came out in your absence to observe the eclipse of the moon. They speak very highly of his attention and he has been most active in his attempt to recover some of their property which was either lost or stolen on their way down the river.”

Sanders smiled, for he himself had lost property in Bosambo’s territory.

“I think I will go home,” said Sanders.

Home he went by the nearest and the quickest way and came to headquarters early one morning, to the annoyance of his relief, who had planned a great and fairly useless palaver to which all the chiefs of all the land had been invited.

“For,” he explained to Sanders in a grieved tone, “it seems to me that the only way to ensure peace is to get at the minds of these people, and the only method by which one can get at their minds is to bring them all together.”

Sanders stretched his legs contemptuously and sniffed. They sat at chop on the broad stoep before the Commissioner’s house, and Mr. Franks–so the deputy Commissioner was named–was in every sense a guest. Sanders checked the vitriolic appreciation of the native mind which came readily to his lips, and inquired:

“When is this prec–when is this palaver?”

“This evening,” said Franks.

Sanders shrugged his shoulders.

“Since you have gathered all these chiefs together,” he said, “and they are present in my Houssa lines, with their wives and servants, eating my ‘special expense’ vote out of existence, you had better go through with it.”

That evening the chiefs assembled before the residency, squatting in a semi-circle about the chair on which sat Mr. Franks–an enthusiastic young man with a very pink face and gold-mounted spectacles.

Sanders sat a little behind and said nothing, scrutinising the assembly with an unfriendly eye. He observed without emotion that Bosambo of the Ochori occupied the place of honour in the centre, wearing a leopard skin and loop after loop of glittering glass beads. He had ostrich feathers in his hair and bangles of polished brass about his arms and ankles and, chiefest abomination, suspended by a scarlet ribbon from that portion of the skin which covered his left shoulder, hung a large and elaborate decoration.

Beside him the kings and chiefs of other lands were mean, commonplace men. B’fari of the Larger Isisi, Kulala of the N’Gombi, Kandara of the Akasava, Etobi of the River-beyond-the-River, and a score of little kings and overlords might have been so many carriers.

It was M’laka of the Lesser Isisi who opened the palaver.

“Lord Franki,” he began, “we are great chiefs who are as dogs before the brightness of your face, which is like the sun that sets through a cloud.”

Mr. Franks, to whom this was interpreted, coughed and went pinker than ever.

“Now that you are our father,” continued M’laka, “and that Sandi has gone from us, though you have summoned him to this palaver to testify to your greatness, the land has grown fruitful, sickness has departed, and there is peace amongst us.”

He avoided Sanders’ cold eye whilst the speech was being translated.

“Now that Sandi has gone,” M’laka went on with relish, “we are sorry, for he was a good man according to some, though he had not the great heart and the gentle spirit of our lord Franki.”

This he said, and much more, especially with regard to the advisability of calling together the chiefs and headmen that they might know of the injustice of taxation, the hardship of life under certain heartless lords–here he looked at Sanders–and need for restoring the old powers of chiefs.

Other orations followed. It gave them great sorrow, they said, because Sandi, their lord, was going to leave them. Sandi observed that the blushing Mr. Franks was puzzled, and acquitted him of spreading the report of his retirement.

Then Bosambo, sometime of Monrovia, and now chief of the Ochori, from-the-border-of-the-river-to-the mountains-by-the-forest.

“Lord Franki,” he said, “I feel shame that I must say what I have to say, for you have been to me as a brother.”

He said this much, and paused as one overcome by his feelings. Franks was doubly affected, but Sanders watched the man suspiciously.

“But Sandi was our father and our mother,” said Bosambo; “in his arms he carried us across swift rivers, and with his beautiful body he shielded us from our enemies; his eyes were bright for our goodness and dim to our faults, and now that we must lose him my stomach is full of misery, and I wish I were dead.”

He hung his head, shaking it slowly from side to side, and there were tears in his eyes when he lifted them. David lamenting Jonathan was no more woeful than Bosambo of Monrovia taking a mistaken farewell of his master.

“Franki is good,” he went on, mastering himself with visible effort; “his face is very bright and pretty, and he is as innocent as a child; his heart is pure, and he has no cunning.”

Franks shifted uneasily in his seat as the compliment was translated.

“And when M’laka speaks to him with a tongue of oil,” said Bosambo, “lo! Franki believes him, though Sandi knows that M’laka is a liar and a breaker of laws, who poisoned his brother in Sandi’s absence and is unpunished.”

M’laka half rose from his seat and reached for his elephant sword.

“Down!” snarled Sanders; his hand went swiftly to his jacket pocket, and M’laka cowered.

“And when Kulala of the N’Gombi raids into Ala-mandy territory stealing girls, our lord is so gentle of spirit–”

“Liar and dog and eater of fish!”

The outraged Kulala was on his feet, his fat figure shaking with wrath.

But Sanders was up now, stiffly standing by his relief, and a gesture sent insulter and insulted squatting to earth.

All that followed was Greek to Mr. Franks, because nobody troubled to translate what was said.

“It seems to me,” said Sanders, “that I may divide my chiefs into three parts, saying this part is made of rogues, this part of fools, and this, and the greater part, of people who are rogues in a foolish way. Now I know only one of you who is a pure rogue, and that is Bosambo of the Ochori, and for the rest you are like children.

“For when Bosambo spread the lie that I was leaving you, and when the master Franki called you together, you, being simpletons, who throw your faces to the shadows, thought, ‘Now this is the time to speak evilly of Sandi and well of the new master.’ But Bosambo, who is a rogue and a liar, has more wisdom than all of you, for the cunning one has said, ‘I will speak well of Sandi, knowing that he will stay with us; and Sandi, hearing me, will love me for my kindness.’”

For one of the few times of his life Bosambo was embarrassed, and looked it.

“To-morrow,” said Sanders, “when I come from my house, I wish to see no chief or headman, for the sight of you already makes me violently ill. Rather I would prefer to hear from my men that you are hurrying back with all speed to your various homes. Later, I will come and there will be palavers–especially in the matter of poisoning. The palaver is finished.”

He walked into the house with Franks, who was not quite sure whether to be annoyed or apologetic.

“I am afraid my ideas do not exactly tally with yours,” he said, a little ruefully.

Sanders smiled kindly.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.