The Leopard Woman
Stewart Edward White et al
Part 2 out of 5
No native of the porter intelligence has the slightest forethought for the
morrow, and very little for the day. If it is hot and he has started
early, his water bottle is empty by noon.
This wise program Kingozi entered upon carefully. The three hours' march
went well; the two hours followed with every one strong and cheerful; then
two hours more without trouble. Kingozi's men were picked, and hard as
nails. By now it was one o'clock; coming the hottest part of the day. The
power of the vertical sun attained its maximum. Kingozi felt as though a
heavy hand had been laid upon his head and was pressing him down. The
mirage danced and changed, its illusions succeeding one another momently
as the successive veils of heat waves shimmered upward. Reflected heat
scorched his face. His spirit retired far into its fastness, taking with
it all his energies. From that withdrawn inner remoteness he doled out the
necessary vitality parsimoniously, drop by drop. Deliberately he withdrew
his attention from the unessentials. Not a glance did he vouchsafe to the
prospect far or near; not a thought did he permit himself of speculation
or of wandering interest. His sole job now was to plod on at an even gait,
to keep track of time, to follow the spoor of the Leopard Woman's safari,
to save himself for later. If he had spared any thought at all, it would
have been self-congratulation that Simba and Cazi Moto were old and tried.
For Simba relieved him of the necessity of watching for dangerous beasts,
and Cazi Moto of the responsibility of keeping account of the men.
At the rest periods Kingozi sat down on the ground. Then in the relaxation
his intelligence emerged. He took stock of the situation.
Mali-ya-bwana and nine others were always directly at his heels. They
dropped their loads and grinned cheerfully at their _bwana_, their bronze
faces gleaming as though polished. If only they were all like this! Then
perhaps five minutes later a smaller group came in, strongly enough. The
first squad shouted ridiculing little jokes at them; and they shrieked
back spirited repartee, whacking their loads vigorously with their safari
sticks. These, too, would cause no anxiety. But then Kingozi sat up and
began to take notice. The men drifted in by twos and threes. Kingozi
scrutinized them closely, trying to determine the state of their strength
and the state of their spirit. And after twenty minutes, or even the full
half hour allotted to the rest period, Cazi Moto came in driving before
him seven men.
The wizened little headman was as cheerful and lively and vigorous as
ever. He, too, grinned, but his eyes held a faint anxiety, and he had
shifted his closed umbrella to his left hand and held the _kiboko_ in his
right. At the fifth rest period five of the seven men stumbled wearily in;
but Cazi Moto and the other two did not appear before Kingozi ordered a
resumption of the march.
But the mountains had moved near. When this had happened Kingozi could not
have told. It was between two rest periods. From an immense discouraging
distance, they towered imminent. It seemed that a half-hour's easy walk
should take them to the foothills. Yet not a man there but knew that this
nearness was exactly as deceitful as the distance had been before.
The afternoon wore on. Kingozi's canteen was all but empty, though he had
drunk sparingly, a swallow at a time. His tongue was slightly swollen. The
sun had him to a certain extent; so that, although he could rouse himself
at will, nevertheless, he moved mechanically in a sort of daze.
He heard Simba's voice; and brought himself into focus.
The gun bearer was staring at something on the ground. Kingozi followed
the direction of his gaze. Before him lay a dead man.
It was one of the common porters--a tall, too slender savage, with armlets
of polished iron, long, ropy hair--a typical _shenzi_. His load was
missing: evidently one of the _askaris_ had taken it up.
Kingozi's safari filed by, each man gazing in turn without expression at
the huddled heap. Only Maulo, the camp jester, hurled a facetious comment
at the corpse. Thereupon all the rest laughed after the strange, heartless
custom of the African native. Or is it heartless? We do not know.
The day's march had passed through the phase of coordinated action. It was
now the duty of each man to get in if he could. It was Kingozi's duty to
arrive first, and to arrange succour for Cazi Moto and those whom he
Twenty minutes beyond the dead man they came upon three porters sitting by
the wayside. They were men in the last extremity of thirst and exhaustion,
their eyes wide and vacant, their tongues so swollen that their teeth were
held apart. Nothing was to be done here, so Kingozi marched by.
Then he came upon a half-dozen bags of _potio_. They were thrown down
pellmell, anyhow; so that Kingozi concluded they had been surreptitiously
thrown away, and not temporarily abandoned with intent to return for them.
After that the trail resembled the traces of a rout. Every few yards now
were the evidences of desperation: loads of _potio_, garments, water
bottles emptied and cast aside in a gust of passion at their emptiness. At
intervals also they passed more men, gaunt, incredibly cadaverous,
considering that only the day before they had been strong and well. They
sat or lay inert, watching the safari pass, their eyes apathetic. Kingozi
paid no attention to them, nor to the loads of _potio_, nor to the
garments and accoutrements; but he caused Simba to gather the water
bottles. After a time Simba was hung about on all sides, and resembled at
a short distance some queer conical monster.
Then they topped the bank of a wide shallow dry streambed and saw the
remnants of other safari below them.
The Leopard Woman sat on a tent load. Even at this distance her erect
figure expressed determination and defiance. The Nubian squatted beside
her. Men lay scattered all about in attitudes of abandon and exhaustion;
yet every face was turned in her direction.
Kingozi descended the bank and approached, his experienced eye registering
every significant detail.
She turned to him a face lowering like a thundercloud, her eyes flashing
the lightnings, her lips scarlet and bitten. Kingozi noted the bloodied
"They won't go on!" she cried at him harshly. "I can't make them! It is
death for them here, but all they will do is to sit down! It is maddening!
If they must die----"
She leaped to her feet and drew an automatic pistol.
"_Bandika!_" she cried. "Take your loads! Quickly!"
She threatened the man nearest her. He merely stared, his expression dull
with the infinite remoteness of savage people. Without further parley she
fired. Although the distance was short, she missed, the bullet throwing up
a spurt of sand beneath the man's armpit. He did not stir, nor did his
Kingozi's bent form had straightened. An authority, heretofore latent,
flashed from his whole personality.
"Stop!" he commanded.
She turned toward him a look of convulsed rage. Then suddenly her
resistance to circumstances broke. She hurled the automatic pistol at the
porter, and flopped down on the tent load, hiding her face in her hands.
Kingozi paid her no further attention.
"Simba!" he called.
"Take one man. Collect all water bottles. Take a lantern. Go as rapidly
as you can to find water. Fill all the bottles and bring them back.
There are people in the hills. There will be people near the water. Get
them to help you carry back the water bottles."
Simba selected Mali-ya-bwana to accompany him, but this did not meet
"I want that man," said he.
Simba and one of the other leading porters started away. Kingozi gave his
attention to the members of the other safari.
They sat and sprawled in all attitudes. But one thing was common to all:
a dead sullenness.
"Why do you not obey the _memsahib?_" Kingozi asked in a reasonable tone.
No one answered for some time. Finally the man who had been shot at
"There is no water. We are very tired. We cannot go on without water."
"How can you get water if you do not go on?"
"_Hapana shauri yangu_," replied the man indifferently, uttering the
fatalistic phrase that rises to the lips of the savage African almost
automatically, unless his personal loyalty has been won--"that is not my
affair." He brooded on the ground for a space then looked up. "It is the
business of porters to carry loads; it is the business of the white man to
take care of the porters." And in that he voiced the philosophy of this
human relation. The porters had done their job: not one inch beyond it
would they go. The white woman had brought them here: it was now her
_shauri_ to get them out.
"You see!" cried the Leopard Woman bitterly. "What can you do with such
Kingozi directed toward her his slow smile.
"Yes, I see. Do you remember I asked you once when you were boasting your
efficiency, whether you had ever tried your men? Your work was done
smartly and well--better than my work was done. But my men will help me in
a fix, and yours will not."
"You are quite a preacher," she rejoined. "And you are exasperating. Why
don't you do something?"
"I am going to," replied Kingozi calmly.
He called Mali-ya-bwana to him.
"Talk to these _shenzis_," said he.
Mali-ya-bwana talked. His speech was not eloquent, nor did it flatter the
Leopard Woman, but it was to the point.
"My _bwana_ is a great lord," said he. "He is master of all things. He
fights the lion, he fights the elephant. Nothing causes him to be afraid.
He is not foolish, like a woman. He knows the water, the sun, the wind.
When he speaks it is wisdom. Those who do what he says follow wisdom.
Immediately this admonition was finished Kingozi issued his first command:
"Bring all loads to this place."
Nobody stirred at first.
"My loads, the loads of Bibi-ya-chui--all to this place."
Mali-ya-bwana and the other fourteen of Kingozi's safari who were now
present brought their loads up and began to pile them under Kingozi's
"Quickly!" called Kingozi in brisk, cheerful tones. "The water is not far,
but the day is nearly gone. We must march quickly, even without loads."
The import of the command began to reach the other porters. This white man
did not intend to camp here then--where there was no water! He did not
mean to make them march with loads! He knew! He was a great lord, and
wise, as Mali-ya-bwana had said! One or two arose wearily and stiffly, and
dragged their loads to the pile. Others followed. Kingozi's men helped the
weakest. Kingozi himself worked hard, arranging the loads, covering them
with tarpaulins, weighting the edges.
His intention reached also the Leopard Woman. She watched proceedings
without comment for some time. Then she saw something that raised her
"I shall want that box," she announced. "Leave that one out. And that is
my tent being brought up now."
Apparently Kingozi did not hear her. He bestowed the box in a space left
for it, and piled the two tent loads atop. The Leopard Woman arose and
glided to his side.
"That box----" she began.
"I heard you," replied Kingozi politely, "but it will really be impossible
to carry anything at all."
"That box is indispensable to me," she insisted haughtily.
"You have no men strong enough to carry a load: and mine will need all the
strength they have left before they get in."
He went on arranging the loads under the tarpaulins.
"Those loads are my tent," she said, as Kingozi turned away.
"We cannot take them."
Her eyes flashed. She whirled with the evident intention of issuing her
commands direct. Kingozi's weary, slow indifference fell from him. In one
bound he faced her, his chin thrust forward. His blue eyes had focussed
into a cold, level stare.
"Don't dare interfere!" he ordered. "If you attempt it, I shall order you
restrained--physically. Understand? I do not know how far you intend to
travel--or where; but if you value your future authority and prestige with
your own men, do not make yourself a spectacle before them."
"You would not dare!" she panted.
The tenseness relaxed. Kingozi became again the slow-moving, slouching,
indifferent figure of his everyday habit.
"Oh, I can dare almost anything--when I have to. You do not seem to
understand. You have come a cropper--a bad one. Left to yourselves you are
all going to die here. If I am to help you to your feet, I must do it
without interference. I think we shall get through: but I am not at all
certain. Go and sit down and save your strength."
"I hate you!" she flashed. "I'd rather die here than accept your help! I
command you to leave me!"
"Bless you!" said Kingozi, as though this were a new thought. "I wasn't
thinking especially of _you_; I am sorry for your boys."
Mali-ya-bwana, under his directions, had undone the loads containing the
lanterns. Everything seemed now ready for the start. All of Kingozi's
safari had arrived except Cazi Moto and five men.
"Have you any water left?" Kingozi asked the Leopard Woman.
She stared straight ahead of her, refusing to answer. Unperturbed, Kingozi
turned to the Nubian.
"Which is _memsahib's_ canteen?"
The Nubian silently indicated two of the three hung on his person. Kingozi
shook them, and found them empty. His own contained still about a pint,
and this he poured into one of hers. She appeared not to notice the act.
The march was resumed. Mali-ya-bwana was instructed to lead the way
following the scraped places on the earth, the twigs bent over, and the
broken branches by which Simba had marked his route for them. Kingozi
himself brought up the rear. Reluctantly, apathetically, the Leopard
Woman's men got to their feet. Kingozi was everywhere, urging,
encouraging, shaming, joking, threatening, occasionally using the _kiboko_
he had taken from one of the _askaris_. At last all were under way. The
Leopard Woman sat still on the load, the Nubian crouched at her back. The
long, straggling, staggering file of men crawled up the dry bank and
disappeared one by one over the top. Each figure for a moment was
silhouetted against the sky, for the sun was low. Kingozi toiled up the
steep, his head bent forward. In his turn he, too, stood black and massive
on the brink, the outline of his powerful stooped shoulders gold-rimmed in
light. She watched him feverishly, awaiting from him some sign that he
realized her existence, that he cared whether or not she was left behind.
He did not look back. In a moment he had disappeared. The prospect was
empty of human life.
She arose. For an instant her face was convulsed with a fairly demoniac
fury. Then a mask of blankness obliterated all expression. She followed.
ON THE PLATEAU
Two hours into the night Kingozi, following in the rear, saw a cluster of
lights, and shortly came to a compact group of those who had gone before
him. They were drinking eagerly from water bottles. Simba, lantern in
hand, stood nearby. A number of savages carrying crude torches hovered
around the outskirts. Kingozi could not make out the details of their
appearance: only their eyeballs shining. He drew Simba to one side.
"There are many _shenzis_?"
"Many, like the leaves of the grass, _bwana_."
"The huts are far?"
"One hour, _bwana_, in the hills."
"These _shenzis_ are good?"--meaning friendly.
"_Bwana_, the _sultani_ of these people is a great lord. He has many
people, and much riches. He has told, his people to come with me. He
prepares the guest house for you."
"It has been a long path since sunup, _bwana_. But I had water, and the
people gave me _potio_ and meat. I am strong."
"Cazi Moto is back there--in the Thirst," suggested Kingozi, "and many
others. And there is no water."
"I will go, _bwana_, and take the _shenzis_ with me."
He set about gathering the water bottles and gourds that had not been
emptied. Mali-ya-bwana and, unexpectedly, a big Kavirondo of Kingozi's
safari, volunteered. The rest prepared to continue the journey.
But another delay occurred. The Leopard Woman, who had walked indomitably,
now collapsed. Her eyes were sunken in her head, her lips had paled; only
the long white oval of her face recalled her former splendid and exotic
beauty. When the signal to proceed was given, she stepped forward as
firmly as ever for perhaps a dozen paces, then her knees crumpled under
"I'm afraid I'm done," she muttered to Kingozi.
In the latter's eyes, for the first time, shone a real and ungrudging
admiration. He knelt at her side and felt her pulse. Without hesitation,
and in the most matter-of-fact way, he unbuttoned her blouse to the waist
and tore apart the thin chemise beneath.
"Water," he commanded.
With the wetted end of his neck scarf he beat her vigorously below the
left breast. After a little she opened her eyes.
"That's better," said Kingozi, and began clumsily to rebutton her blouse.
A slow colour rose to her face as she realized in what manner she had been
exposed, and she snatched her garments together. Kingozi, watching her
closely, seemed to see in this only a satisfactory symptom.
"That's right; now you're about again. Blood going once more."
They proceeded. A man on either side supported the Leopard Woman's steps.
Shortly the hills closed around them. The dark velvet masses compassed
them about, and the starry sky seemed suddenly to have been thrust upward
a million miles. The open plain narrowed to a track along which they
groped single file. They caught the sound of running water to their left;
but far below. There seemed no end to it.
But then, unexpectedly, they found themselves on a plateau, with the mass
of the mountains on one side and the sea of night on the other, as though
it might be the spacious deck of a ship. A multitude of people swarmed
about them, shining naked people, who stared; and there seemed to be huts
with conical roofs, and a number of little winking fires that shifted
position. The people led the way to a circular hut of good size, with a
conical thatched roof and wattle walls. Kingozi stooped his head,
thrusting the lantern inside. The interior had been swept. A huge earthen
tub full of water stood by the door. The place contained no other
"Bring the _memsahib_ here," he commanded.
She was half dragged forward. Kingozi took her in his arms to prevent her
"Bring grass," he ordered.
The request was repeated outside in Swahili, and turned into a strange
tongue. Kingozi heard many feet hurrying away.
He stood supporting the half-fainting form of the Leopard Woman. Her head
rested against his shoulder. Her eyes were closed, her muscles had all
gone slack, so that her body felt soft and warm. Kingozi, waiting,
remembered her as she had looked the evening of his call--silk-clad,
lithe, proud, with blood-red lips, and haughty, fathomless eyes, and the
single jewel that hung in the middle of her forehead. Somehow at this
moment she seemed smaller, in her safari costume, and helpless, and
pathetic. He felt the curve of her breast against him, and the picture of
her as he had seen her out there in the Thirst arose before his eyes. At
that time it had not registered: he was too busy about serious things. But
now, while he waited, the incident claimed, belated, his senses. His
antagonism, or distrust, or coldness, or suspicion, or indifference, or
whatever had hardened him, disappeared. He stared straight before him at
the lantern, allowing these thoughts and sensations to drift through him.
Subconsciously he noted that the lamp flame showed a halo, or rather two
halos, one red and one green. By experience he knew that this portended
one of his stabbing headaches through the eyes. But the thought did not
hold him. He contemplated unwaveringly the spectacle of this soft, warm,
helpless but indomitable piece of femininity fronting the African
wilderness unafraid. Unconsciously his arms tightened around her, drawing
her to him. She gave no sign. Her form was limp. Apparently she was
either half asleep or in a stupor. But had Kingozi looked down when he
tightened his arms, instead of staring at the halo-encircled lantern, he
would have seen her glance sidewise upward into his face, he would have
discerned a fleeting smile upon her lips.
Almost immediately the people were back with armfuls of the long grass
that grows on the edge of mountainous country. Under Kingozi's directions
they heaped it at one side. He assisted the Leopard Woman to this
improvised couch and laid her upon it. She seemed to drop instantly
They brought more grass and piled it in another place. Mali-ya-bwana
superintended these activities zealously. He had drunk his fill, had
bolted a chunk of goat's flesh one of the savages had handed him, now he
was ready to fulfil his _bwana's_ commands.
"You will eat?" he asked.
But Kingozi was not hungry. His strong desire was for a tall _balauri_ of
hot tea, but this could not be. He knew it Was unsafe to drink the water
unboiled--it is unsafe to drink any African water unboiled--but this time
it could not be helped. He was not even very tired, though his eyes
burned. There was nothing more to do. Kingozi knew that Simba and Cazi
Moto would not attempt to come in.
They now had both food and water, and would camp somewhere out on the
"I will sleep," he decided.
Mali-ya-bwana at once thrust the savages outside, without ceremony,
peremptorily. When the _bwana_ of an African belonging to the safari class
wants anything, the latter gets it for him. The headman of the author of
these lines went single handed and stopped in its very inception a royal
_n'goma_, or dance, to which men had come a day's journey, merely because
his _bwana_ wanted to sleep! Kingozi was here alone, in a strange country,
for the moment helpless; but Mali-ya-bwana hustled the tribesmen out as
brusquely as though a regiment were at his back. Which undoubtedly had its
Kingozi sat down on the straw and blew out his lantern. The wattle walls
were not chinked; so the sweet night wind blew through freely; and
elusively he saw stars against the night. The Leopard Woman breathed
heavily in little sighs. He was not sleepy. Then everything went black----
When Kingozi awakened it was full daylight. A varied murmur came happily
from outside, what the Africans call a _kalele_--a compound of chatter,
the noise of occupation, of movement, the inarticulate voice of human
existence. He glanced across the hut. The Leopard Woman was gone.
"Boy!" he shouted.
At the sound of his voice the _kalele_ ceased. Almost immediately Cazi
Moto stooped to enter the doorway. Cazi Moto was dressed in clean khaki,
and bore in his hand a _balauri_ of steaming tea. Kingozi seized this and
drained it to the bottom.
"That is good," he commented gratefully. "I did not expect to see you,
Cazi Moto. Did all the men get in?"
"_Vema!_ And the men of the Leopard Woman?"
"Many died, _bwana_; but many are here."
Kingozi arose to his feet.
"I must have food. These _shenzis_ eat what?"
"Food is ready, _bwana_."
"I will eat. Then we must make _shauri_ with these people to get our
loads. My men must rest to-day."
"Come, _bwana_," said Cazi Moto.
Kingozi stooped to pass through the door. When he straightened outside, he
paused in amazement. Before him stood his camp, intact. The green tent
with the fly faced him, the flaps thrown back to show within his cot and
tin box. White porters' tents had been pitched in the usual circle, and
before each squatted men cooking over little fires. The loads, covered by
the tarpaulin, had been arranged in the centre of the circle. At a short
distance to the rear the cook camp steamed.
Cazi Moto stood at his elbow grinning.
"Hot water ready, _bwana_," said he; and for the first time Kingozi
noticed that he carried a towel over his arm.
"This is good, very good, Cazi Moto!" said he. "_Backsheeshi m'kubwa_ for
this; both for you and for Simba."
"Thank you, _bwana_," said Gaza Moto. "Simba brought the water, and it
saved us; and I thought that my _bwana_ should not sleep on grass a second
time before these _shenzis_."
"Who carried in the loads? Not our porters?"
"No, _bwana_, the _shenzis_."
Kingozi glanced at his wrist watch. It was only ten o'clock. "When?"
"They went back last night?"
"Yes, _bwana_. Mali-ya-bwana considered that it was bad to leave the
loads. There might be hyenas--or the _shenzis_----"
Kingozi slapped his thigh with satisfaction. This was a man after his own
"Call Mali-ya-bwana," he ordered.
The tall Baganda approached.
"Mali-ya-bwana," said Kingozi. "You have done well. For this you shall
have _backsheeshi_. But more. You need not again carry a load. You will
be--" he hesitated, trying to invent an office, but reluctant to infringe
upon the prerogatives of either Simba or Cazi Moto. "You will be headman
of the porters; and you, Cazi Moto, will be headman of all the safari, and
my own man besides."
The Baganda drew himself erect, his face shining. Placing his bare heels
together, he raised his hand in a military salute. Kingozi was about to
dismiss him, but this arrested his intention.
"Where did you learn to do that?" he asked sharply.
"I was once in the King's African Rifles."
[Footnote 7: Only, of course, Mali-ya-bwana gave the native name for these
"You can shoot, then?"
"Good!" commented Kingozi thoughtfully. Then after a moment: "_Bassi_."
Mali-ya-bwana saluted once more and departed. Kingozi turned toward his
It had been pitched under a huge tree, with low, massive limbs and a shade
that covered a diameter of fully sixty yards. Before it the usual table
had been made of piled-up chop boxes, and to this Cazi Moto was bearing
steaming dishes. The threatened headache had not materialized, and Kingozi
was feeling quite fit. He was ravenously hungry, for now his system was
rested enough to assimilate food. His last meal had been breakfast before
sunup of the day before. Without paying even casual attention to his
surroundings he seated himself on a third chop box and began to eat.
Kingozi's methods of eating had in them little of the epicure. He simply
ate all he wanted of the first things set before him. After this he drank
all he wanted from the tall _balauri_. Second courses did not exist for
Kingozi. Then with a sigh of satisfaction, he fumbled for his pipe and
tobacco, and looked about him.
The guest house had been built, as was the custom, a little apart from the
main village. The latter was evidently around the bend of the hill, for
only three or four huts were to be seen, perched among the huge
outcropping boulders that were, apparently, characteristic of these hills.
The mountains rose rather abruptly, just beyond the plateau; which, in
turn, fell away almost as abruptly to the sweep of the plains. The bench
was of considerable width--probably a mile at this point. It was not
entirely level; but on the other hand not particularly broken. A number of
fine, symmetrical trees of unknown species grew at wide intervals,
overtopping a tangle of hedges, rank bushes, vines, and shrubs that
appeared to constitute a rough sort of boundary between irregular fields.
A tiny swift stream of water hurried by between the straight banks of an
obviously artificial ditch.
But though the village was hidden from view, its inhabitants were not.
They had invaded the camp. Kingozi examined them keenly, with curiosity.
Naked little boys and girls wandered gravely about; women clung together
in groups; men squatted on their heels before anything that struck their
attention, and stared.
These people, Kingozi noted, were above middle size, of a red bronze, of
the Semitic rather than the Hamitic type, well developed but not obviously
muscular, of a bright and lively expression. The women shaved their heads
quite bare; the men left a sort of skull cap of hair atop the head.
Earlobes were pierced and stretched to hold ivory ornaments running up to
the size of a jampot. There were some, but not many, armlets, leglets, and
necklets of iron wire polished to the appearance of silver. The women wore
brief skirts of softened skins: the men carried a short shoulder cape, or
simply nothing at all. Each man bore a long-bladed heavy spear. Before
squatting down in front of whatever engaged his attention for the moment,
the savage thrust this upright in the ground. Kingozi, behind his pipe,
considered them well: and received a favourable impression. An immovable,
unblinking semicircle crouched at a respectful distance taking in every
detail of the white man's appearance and belongings, watching his every
move. Nobody spoke; apparently nobody even winked.
Now appeared across the prospect two men walking. One was an elderly
savage, with a wrinkled, shrewd countenance. He was almost completely
enveloped in a robe of softened skins. Followed him a younger man,
dangling at the end of a thong a small three-legged stool cut entire from
a single block of wood. The old man swept forward with considerable
dignity; the younger, one hand held high in the most affected fashion,
teetered gracefully along as mincingly as any dandy.
The visitor came superbly up to where Kingozi sat, and uttered a greeting
in Swahili. He proved to possess a grand, deep, thunderous voice.
"_Jambo!_" he rolled.
Kingozi stared up at him coolly for a moment; then, without removing his
pipe from his teeth, he remarked:
The old man, smiling, extended his hand.
[Footnote 8: Many African tribes shake hands in one way or another.]
Kingozi, nursing the bowl of his pipe, continued to stare up at him.
"Are you the _sultani?_" he demanded abruptly.
The old man waved his hand in courtly fashion.
"I am not the _sultani_," he answered in very bad Swahili; "I am the
headman of the _sultani_."
Kingozi continued to stare at him in the most uncompromising manner. In
the meantime the younger man had loosed the thong from his wrist and had
placed the stool on a level spot. The prime minister to the _sultani_
arranged his robe preparatory to sitting down.
Kingozi removed his pipe from his lips, and sat erect.
"Stand up!" he commanded sharply. "If you are not the _sultani_ how dare
you sit down before me!"
The youth whisked the stool away: the old man covered his discomfiture in
a flow of talk. Kingozi listened to him in silence. The visitor concluded
his remarks which--as far as they could be understood--were entirely
general: and, with a final courtly wave of the hand, turned away. Then
Kingozi spoke, abruptly, curtly.
"Have your people bring me eggs," he said, "milk, _m'wembe_."
[Footnote 9: A sort of flour ground from rape seeds.]
The old man, somewhat abashed, made the most dignified retreat possible
through the keenly attentive audience of his own people.
Kingozi gazed after him, his blue eyes wide with their peculiar aggressive
blank stare. A low hum of conversation swept through the squatting
warriors. Those who understood Swahili murmured eagerly to those who did
not. These uttered politely the long drawn "A-a-a-a!" of savage interest.
"Cazi Moto, where is my chair?" Kingozi demanded, abruptly conscious that
the chop box was not very comfortable.
"Bibi-ya-chui has it."
"Where is she?"
"Right behind you," came that young woman's voice in amused tones. "You
have been so busy that you have not seen me."
Kingozi turned. The chair had been placed in a bare spot close to the
trunk of the great tree. He grinned cheerfully.
"I was pretty hungry," he confessed, "and I don't believe I saw a single
thing but that curry!"
[Footnote 9: A sort of flour ground from rape seeds.]
"Naturally. It is not to be wondered at. Are you all rested?"
"I'm quite fit, thanks. And you?"
She was still in her marching costume; but her hair had been smoothed, her
face washed. The colour had come back to her lips, the light to her
expression. Only a faint dark encircling of the eyes, and a certain
graceful languor of attitude recalled the collapse of yesterday.
"Oh, I am all right; but perishing for a cigarette. Have you one?"
"Sorry, but I don't use them. Are not all your loads up yet?"
"None of them."
"Well, they should be in shortly. Cazi Moto has given you breakfast, of
"Yes. But nobody has yet gone for my loads."
"What!" exclaimed Kingozi sharply. "Why did you not start men for them
when you first awakened?"
She smiled at him ruefully.
"I tried. But they said they were very tired from yesterday. They would
"Simba!" called Kingozi.
"Bring the headman of Bibi-ya-chui. Is he that mop-headed blighter?" he
"Who? Oh, the Nubian, Chake. No; he is just a faithful creature near
myself. I have no headman."
"Who takes your orders, then?"
"Any of them." She made a mouth. "Don't look at me in that fashion. Is
that so very dreadful?"
"It's impossible. You can never run a safari in that way. Simba, bring all
Simba departed on his errand. Kingozi turned to her gravely.
"Dear lady," said he gravely, "I am going to offend you again. But this
won't do. You are a wonderful woman; but you do not know this game well
enough. I acknowledge you will handle this show ordinarily in tiptop
style; but in a new country, in contact with new peoples--it's a
specialist's job, that's all."
"I'm beginning to think so," she replied with unexpected humility.
"Already you've lost control of your organization: you nearly died from
lack of water--By the way, why didn't you push ahead with your Nubian, and
find the water?"
"I had to get my men on."
He looked on her with more approval.
"Well, you're safe out of it. And now, I beg of you, don't do it any
"Is my little scolding all done?" she asked after a pause.
"Forgive me. I did not mean it as a scolding."
She sat upright and rested her elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands.
Her long sea-green eyes softened.
"Listen: I deserve that what you say. I thought I knew, because always I
have travelled in a good country. But never the hell of a dry country. I
want you to know that you are quite right, and I want to tell you that I
know you saved me and my men: and I would not know what to do now if you
were not here to help me. There!" she made a pretty outward-flinging
gesture. "Is that enough?"
Kingozi, like most men whose natural efficiency has been hardened by wide
experience, while impervious to either open or wily antagonism, melted at
the first hint of surrender. A wave of kindly feeling overwhelmed the last
suspicions--absurd suspicions--his analysis had made. He was prevented
from replying by the approach of Simba at the head of eight of the
_askaris_. They slouched along at his heels, sullen and careless, but when
they felt the impact of Kingozi's cold glare, they straightened to
attention. Kingozi ran his eye over them.
"Where are the other four?" he demanded.
"Three are in the _shenzis'_ village. One says he is very tired."
"Take Mali-ya-bwana and Cazi Moto. Take the leg chains. Bring that one man
before me with the chains on him. Have him bring also his gun; and his
Ignoring the waiting eight, Kingozi resumed his conversation with the
"They are out of hand," said he. "We must impress them."
"_Kiboko?_" she inquired.
"Perhaps--but you have rather overdone that. We shall see."
"I heard you talk with that old man a few moments ago," she said. "And I
heard also much talk of our men about it. He is a very powerful chief--
next to the _sultani_. Are not you afraid that your treatment of him will
make trouble? You were not polite."
"What else have you heard?"
"This _sultani_ has apparently several hundred villages. They keep goats,
fat-tailed sheep, and some few cattle. They raise _m'wembe_, beans,
peanuts, and bananas. They have a war caste of young men."
Kingozi listened to her attentively.
"Good girl!" said he. "You use your intelligence. These are all good
points to know."
"But this old man----"
"No; I have not insulted him. I know the native mind. I have merely
convinced him that I am every bit as important a person as his _sultani_."
"What do you do next? Call on the _sultani_."
"By no means. Wait until he comes. If he does not come by, say to-morrow,
send for him."
Simba appeared leading a downcast _askari_ in irons. Kingozi waved his
hand toward those waiting in the sun; and the new captive made the ninth.
"Now, Simba, go to the village of these _shenzis_. Tell the other three
_askaris_ to come; and at once. Do not return without them."
Simba, whose fierce soul all this delighted beyond expression, started off
joyfully, trailed by a posse of his own choosing.
"What are you going to do?" asked the Leopard Woman curiously.
"Get them in line a bit," replied Kingozi carelessly. "I feel rather lazy
and done up to-day; don't you?"
"That is so natural. And I am keeping your chair----"
"I've been many trips without one. This tree is good to lean against----"
They chatted about trivial matters. A certain ease had crept into their
relations: a guard had been lowered. To a small extent they ventured to
question each other, to indulge in those tentative explorations of
personality so fascinating in the early stages of acquaintanceship. To her
inquiries Kingozi repeated that he was an ivory hunter and trader; he came
into this country because new country alone offered profits in ivory these
days; he had been in Africa for fifteen years. At this last she looked him
"You came out very young," she surmised.
"When my father took me out of the medical school to put me into the
ministry. I had a knack for doctoring. I ran away."
"Why did you come to Africa?"
"Didn't particularly. Started for Iceland on a whaling ship. Sailed the
seven seas after the brutes. Landed on the Gold Coast--and got left
She looked at him hard, and he laughed.
"'Left' with my kit and about sixty pounds I had hung on to since I left
home--my own money, mind you! _And_ a harpoon gun! Lord!" he laughed
again, "think of it--a harpoon gun! You loaded it with about a peck of
black powder. Normally, of course, it shot a harpoon, but you could very
near cram a nigger baby down it! And kick! If you were the least bit off
balance it knocked you flat. It was the most extraordinary cannon ever
seen in Africa, and it inspired more respect, acquired me more _kudos_
than even my beard."
"So _that's_ why you wear it!" she murmured.
"Nothing; go on."
"Just the sight of that awe-inspiring piece of ordnance took me the length
of the Congo without the least difficulty."
"Tell me about the Congo."
Apparently, at this direct and comprehensive question, there was nothing
to tell about the Congo. But adroitly she drew him on. He told of the
great river and its people, and the white men who administered it. The
subject of cannibals seemed especially to fascinate her. He had seen
living human beings issued as a sort of ration on the hoof to native
Simba returned with the other three _askaris_.
Kingozi arose from the ground and stretched himself.
"I'm sorry," said he, "I'm afraid I shall have to ask you for the chair
She arose, wondering a little. He placed the chair before the waiting line
of _askaris_, and planted himself squarely in it as in a judgment seat. He
ran his eye over the men deliberately.
"You!" said he suddenly, pointing his forefinger at the man in irons. "You
have disobeyed my orders. You are no longer an _askari_. You are a common
porter, and from now on will carry a load. It is not my custom to use
_kiboko_ on _askaris_; but a common porter can eat _kiboko_, and Mali-ya-
bwana, my headman of safari, will give you twenty-five lashes. _Bassi!_"
Mali-ya-bwana, well pleased thus early to exercise the authority of his
new office, led the man away.
Kingozi dropped his chin in his hand, a movement that pushed out his beard
in a terrifying manner. One after another of the eleven men felt the
weight of his stare. At last he spoke.
"I have heard tales of you," said he, "but I who speak know nothing about
you. You are _askaris_, soldiers with guns, and next to gun bearers are
the greatest men in the safari. Some have told me that you are not
_askaris_, that you are common porters--and not good ones--who carry guns.
I do not know. That we shall see. This is what must be done now, and done
quickly: the loads of your _memsahib_ must be brought here, and camp made
properly, according to the custom. Perhaps your men are no longer tired:
perhaps you will get the _shenzis_. That is not my affair. You
The answer came in an eager chorus.
He ran his eye over them again.
"You," he indicated, "stand forward. Of what tribe are you?"
The man uttered a mouthful of gutturals.
"That is not a good name for me. From now on you are--Jack."
"Do you know the customs of _askaris?_"
"H'm," Kingozi commented in English, "nobody would guess it. Then
understand this: You are headman of _askaris_. You take the orders: you
report to me--or the _memsahib_," he added, almost as an afterthought.
"To-morrow morning _fall in_, and I will look at your guns. _Bassi!_"
They filed away. Kingozi arose and returned the chair.
"Is that all you will do to them?" she demanded. "I tell you they have
insulted me; they have refused to move; they should be punished."
"That's all. They understand now what will happen. You will see: they will
not refuse again."
She appeared to struggle against a flare of her old rebellious spirit.
"I will leave it to you," she managed at last.
The squatting savages had not moved a muscle, but their shining black eyes
had not missed a single detail.
Six hours later the Leopard Woman's camp had arrived, had been pitched,
and everything was running again as usual. The new _askari_ headman, Jack,
had reported pridefully to Kingozi. The latter had nodded a careless
acknowledgment; and had referred the man to his mistress. She had
disappeared for a time, but now emerged again, bathed, freshened, dainty
in her silken tea gown, the braids of hair down her back, the band of
woven gold encircling her brow, the single strange jewel hanging in the
middle of her forehead. For a time she sat alone under her own tree; but,
as Kingozi showed no symptoms of coming to her, and as she was bored and
growing impatient, she trailed over to him, the Nubian following with her
chair. Kingozi was absorbed in establishing points on his map. He looked
up at her and nodded pleasantly, then moved his protractor a few inches.
"Just a moment," he murmured absorbedly.
She lit a cigarette and yawned. The immediate prospect was dull. Savages
continued to drift in, to squat and stare, then to move on to the porters'
camps. There a lively bartering was going on. From some unsuspected store
each porter had drawn forth a few beads, some snuff, a length of wire, or
similar treasure; and with them was making the best bargain he could for
the delicacies of the country. The process was noisy. Four _askaris_, with
their guns, stood on guard. The shadows were lengthening in the hills, and
the heat waves had ceased to shimmer like veils.
"That's done," said Kingozi at last.
"Thank the Lord!" she ejaculated. "This bores me. Why do we not do
something? I should like some milk, some eggs--many things. Let us summon
But Kingozi shook his head.
"That's all very well where the white man's influence reaches. But not
here. I doubt if there are three men in this people who have ever even
seen a white man. Of course they have all heard of us, and know a good
deal about us. We must stand on our dignity here. Let the _sultani_ come
to us, all in his own time. Without his goodwill we cannot move a step
farther, we cannot get a pound of _potio_."
"How long will it take? I want to get on. This does not interest me. I
have seen many natives."
"Two days of visit. Then perhaps a week to get _potio_ and guides."
"Impossible! I could not endure it!"
"I am afraid you will have to. I know the untamed savage. He is inclined
to be friendly, always. If you hurry the process, you must fight. That's
the trouble with a big mob like yours. It is difficult to feed so many
peacefully. Even in a rich country they bring in _potio_ slowly--a cupful
at a time. With the best intentions in the world you may have to use
coercion to keep from starving. And coercion means trouble. Look at
Stanley--he left hostilities everywhere, that have lasted up to now. The
people were well enough disposed when he came among them with his six or
eight hundred men. But he had to have food and he had to have it quickly.
He could not wait for slow, diplomatic methods. He had to _take_ it. Even
when you pay for a thing, that doesn't work. The news travelled ahead of
him, and the result was he had to fight. And everybody else has had to
fight ever since."
"That is interesting. I did not know that."
"A small party can negotiate. That's why I say you have too many men."
"But the time wasted!" she cried aghast.
"Time is nothing in Africa." He went on to tell her of the two travellers
in Rhodesia who came upon a river so wide that they could but just see
from one bank to the other; and so swift that rafts were of little avail.
So one man went back for a folding boat while the other camped by the
stream. Four months later the first man returned with the boat. The
"river" had dried up completely!
"They didn't mind," said Kingozi, "they thought it a huge joke."
An hour before sundown signs of activity manifested themselves from the
direction of the invisible village. A thin, high, wailing chant in female
voices came fitfully to their ears. A compact little group of men rounded
the bend and approached. Their gait was slow and stately.
"Well," remarked Kingozi, feeling for his pipe, "we are going to be
honoured by that visit from his majesty."
The Leopard Woman leaned forward and surveyed the approaching men with
some interest. They were four in number. Three were naked, their bodies
oiled until they glistened with a high polish. One of them carried a
battered old canvas steamer chair; one a fan of ostrich plumes; and one a
long gourd heavily decorated with cowrie shells. The fourth was an
impressive individual in middle life, hawkfaced, tall and spare, carrying
himself with great dignity. He wore a number of anklets and armlets of
polished wire, a broad beaded collar, heavy earrings, and a sumptuous robe
of softened goatskins embroidered with beads and cowrie shells. As he
strode his anklets clashed softly. His girt was free, and he walked with
authority. Altogether an impressive figure.
"The _sultani_ is a fine-looking man," observed Bibi-ya-chui. "I suppose
the others are slaves."
Kingozi threw a careless glance in the direction of the approaching group.
"Not the _sultani_--some understrapper. Chief Hereditary Guardian of the
Royal Chair, or something of that sort, I dare say."
The tall man approached, smiling graciously. Kingozi vouchsafed him no
attention. Visibly impressed, the newcomer rather fussily superintended
the unfolding and placing of the chair. The slaves with the plumed fan and
the gourd stationed themselves at either side. The other two men fell
Now the shrill chanting became more clearly audible. Shortly appeared a
procession. Women bearing burdens walked two by two. Armed men with spears
and shields flanked them. As they approached, it could be seen that they
were very gorgeous indeed; the women hung with strings of cowries, bound
with glittering brass and iron, bedecked with strings of beads. To one
familiar with savage peoples there could be no doubt that these were close
to the purple. Each bead, each shell, each bangle of wire had been passed
through many, many hands before it reached this remote fastness of
barbarity; and in each hand, you may be sure, profits had remained. But
the men were more impressive still. Stark naked of every stitch of cloth
or of tanned skins, oiled with an unguent carrying a dull red stain, their
heads shaved bare save for a small crown patch from which single feathers
floated, they symbolized well the warrior stripped for the fray. A beaded
broad belt supported a short sword and the _runga_, or war club; an oval
shield of buffalo hide, brilliantly painted, hung on the left arm; a
polished long-bladed spear was carried in the right hand. And surrounding
the face, as a frame, was a queer headdress of black ostrich plumes. Every
man of them wore about his ankles hollow bangles of considerable size; and
these he clashed loudly one against the other as he walked.
It made a great uproar this--the clang of the iron, the wild wailing of
the women's voices.
Kingozi moved his chair four or five paces to the front.
"I'm sorry," he told her, "but I must ask you to stay where you are. This
is an important occasion."
He surveyed the oncoming procession with interest.
"Swagger old beggar," he observed. "His guard are well turned out. You
know those markings on the shields are a true heraldry--the patterns mean
families, and all that sort of thing."
The chanting grew louder as the procession neared. The warriors stared
fiercely straight ahead. Before Kingozi they parted to right and left,
forming an aisle leading to his chair. Down this the women came, one by
one, still singing, and deposited their burdens at the white man's feet.
There were baskets of _m'wembe_, earthen bowls of eggs, fowls, gourds of
milk, bundles of faggots and firewood, woven bags of _n'jugu_ nuts,
vegetables, and two small sheep. Kingozi stared indifferently into the
distance; but as each gift was added to the others he reached forward to
touch it as a sign of acceptance. Their burdens deposited, they took their
places in front of the ranks of the warriors.
"Am I supposed to speak?" asked the Leopard Woman.
"Shouldn't we order out our _askaris_ with their guns to make the parade?"
"No. We could not hope to equal this show, possibly. Our lay is to do the
supercilious indifferent." He turned to his attentive satellite. "Cazi
Moto," he ordered, "tell our people, quietly, to go back to their camps.
They must not stand and stare at these _shenzis_. And tell M'pishi to make
large _balauris_ of coffee, and put in plenty of sugar."
Cazi Moto grinned understandingly, and glided away. Shortly the safari men
could be seen sauntering unconcernedly back to their little fires.
Suddenly the warriors cried out in a loud voice, and raised their right
arms and spears rigidly above their heads. A tall, heavily built man
appeared around the bend. He was followed by two young women, who flanked
him by a pace or so to the rear. They were so laden with savage riches as
to be almost concealed beneath the strings of cowrie shells and bands of
beads. In contrast the man wore only a long black cotton blanket draped to
leave one shoulder and arm bare. Not an earring, not a bangle, not even a
finger ring or a bead strap relieved the sombre simplicity of the black
robe and the dark skin.
"But this man is an artist!" murmured Bibi-ya-chui. "He understands
effect! This is stage managed!"
The _sultani_ approached without haste. He stopped squarely before
Kingozi's chair. The latter did not rise. The two men stared into each
other's eyes for a full minute, without embarrassment, without contest,
without defiance. Then the black man spoke.
"_Jambo, bwana_," he rumbled in a deep voice.
"_Jambo, sultani_" replied Kingozi calmly.
They shook hands.
With regal deliberation the visitor arranged his robes and sat down in the
battered old canvas chair. A silence that lasted nearly five minutes
"I thank you, _sultani_, for the help your men have given. I thank you for
the houses. I thank you for these gifts."
The _sultani_ waved his hand magnificently.
"It is not the custom of white men to give gifts until their departure,"
continued Kingozi, "but this knife is yours to make friendship."
He handed over a knife, of Swedish manufacture, the blade of which
disappeared into the handle in a most curious fashion. The _sultani's_
eyes lit up with an almost childish delight, but his countenance showed no
emotion. He passed the knife on to the dignitary who stood behind his
"This," said Kingozi, taking one of the steaming _balauris_ from Cazi
Moto, "is the white man's _tembo_."
The _sultani_ tasted doubtfully. He was pleased. He gave back the
_balauri_ at last with a final smack of the lips.
"Good!" said he.
Another full five minutes of silence ensued. Then the _sultani_ arose. He
cast a glance about him, his eye, avid with curiosity, held rigidly in
restraint. It rested on the Leopard Woman.
"I see you have one of your women with you," he remarked.
He turned, without further ceremony, and stalked off, followed at a few
paces by the two richly ornamented girls. The warriors again raised their
spears aloft, holding them thus until their lord had rounded the cliff.
Then, the women in precedence, they marched away. Kingozi puffed his pipe
The Leopard Woman was visibly impatient, visibly roused.
"Are you letting him go?" she demanded. "Do not you inquire the country?
Do not you ask for _potio_, for guides?"
"Not to-day," replied Kingozi. He turned deliberately to face her, his
eyes serious. "Please realize once for all that we live here only by force
of _prestige_. My only chance of getting on, our only chance of safety
rests on my ability to impress this man with the idea that I am a bigger
lord than he. And, remember, I have lived in savage Africa for fifteen
years, and I know what I am doing. This is very serious. You must not
interfere; and you must not suggest."
The Leopard Woman's eyes glittered dangerously, but she controlled
"You talk like a sultan yourself," she protested at length. "You should
not use that tone to me."
Kingozi brushed the point aside with a large gesture.
"I will play the game of courtesy with you, yes," said he, "but only when
it does not interfere with serious things. In this matter there must be no
indefiniteness, no chance for misunderstanding. Politeness, between the
sexes, means both. I will repeat: in this you must leave me free hand no
interference, no suggestion."
"And if I disobey your commands?" she challenged, with an emphasis on the
He surveyed her sombrely.
"I should take measures," he replied finally.
"You are not my master: you are not the master of my men!"
Kingozi permitted himself a slight smile.
"If you believe that last statement, just try to give an order to your men
counter to an order of mine. You would see. And of course in case of a
real crisis I should have to make myself master of you, if you seemed
likely to be troublesome."
"I would kill you! I warn you; I go always armed!"
From the folds of her silken robe she produced a small automatic pistol
which she displayed. Kingozi glanced at it indifferently.
"In that case you would have to kill yourself, too; and then it would not
matter to either of us."
"I find you insufferable!" she cried, getting to her feet.
She moved away in the direction of her camp. The faithful Nubian folded
her chair and followed. At the doorway of her tent she looked back.
Kingozi, his black pipe in his mouth, was bending absorbedly over his map.
THE IVORY STOCKADE
The Leopard Woman, emerging from her tent shortly after sunup the next
morning, saw across the opening her own _askaris_ being drilled by
Kingozi, Simba, and Cazi Moto. Evidently the instruction was in rifle
fire. Two were getting individual treatment: Simba and Cazi Moto were
putting them through a careful course in aiming and pulling the trigger on
empty guns. Kingozi sat on a chop box in the shade, gripping his eternal
pipe, and issuing curt orders and criticisms to the baker's dozen, before
him. When he saw the Leopard Woman he arose and strolled in her direction.
"That's the worst lot of so-called _askaris_ I ever saw," he remarked.
"Where did you pick them up?"
His manner was entirely unconscious of any discussions or dissentions. He
looked into her eyes and smiled genially.
"I took them from the recruiting man, as they came," she replied. As
always the deeps of her eyes were enigmatical; but the surfaces, at least,
of her mood answered his.
"They know how to load a gun, and that is about all. I don't believe one
of them ever fired a weapon before this trip. They haven't the most
rudimentary ideas of aiming. Don't even know what sights are for. My boys
will soon whip them into some sort of shape. I came over to see how much
ammunition you have for their muskets. They really ought to fire a few
rounds--after a week of aiming and snapping. Then they'll be of some use.
Not much, though."
"I really don't know," she answered his question. "Chake will look and
"Send him over to report when he finds out," requested Kingozi, preparing
"What move does your wisdom contemplate to-day?" she called after him.
"Oh, return his majesty's visit this afternoon. Like to go?"
"Well, I'll let you know when. And if you go, you must be content to stand
two or three yards behind me, and to say nothing."
She flushed, but answered steadily enough:
It was nearing sundown when Kingozi emerged from his tent and gave the
signal to move. He had for the first time strapped on a heavy revolver;
his glasses hung from his neck; his sleeve was turned back to show his
wrist watch; and, again for the first time, he had assumed a military-
looking tunic. He carried his double rifle.
"Got on everything I own," he grinned.
Simba and Cazi Moto waited near. From the mysterious sources every native
African seems to possess they had produced new hats and various trinkets.
Their khakis had been fresh washed; so they looked neat and trim.
The Leopard Woman wore still one of her silken negligees, and the jewel on
her forehead; but her hair had been piled high on her head. Kingozi
surveyed her with some particularity. She noted the fact. Her satisfaction
would have diminished could she have read his mind. He was thinking that
her appearance was sufficiently barbaric to impress a barbaric king.
They rounded the point of cliffs, and the village lay before them. It
rambled up the side of the mountain, hundreds of beehive houses perched
and clinging, with paths from one to the other. The approach was through a
narrow straight lane of thorn and aloes, so thick and so spiky that no
living thing bigger than a mouse could have forced its way through the
walls. The end of this vista was a heavy palisade of timbers through which
a door led into a circular enclosure ten feet in diameter, on the other
side of which another door opened into the village. Above each of these
doors massive timbers were suspended ready to fall at the cut of a sword.
Within the little enclosure, or double gate, squatted a man before a great
"They're pretty well fixed here," observed Kingozi critically. "Nobody can
get at them except down that lane. The mountains are impassable because of
the thorn. They must use arrows."
"Why?" asked the Leopard Woman.
"The form of their defence. They shoot between the logs of the palisade
down the narrow lane. If they fought only with spears, the lane would be
shorter, and it would be defended on the flank."
"Why don't they defend it on the flank also, even with arrows?" asked the
Leopard Woman shrewdly.
"'It is not the custom,'" wearily quoted Kingozi in the vernacular. "Don't
ask me _why_ a savage does things. I only know he does."
Their conversation was drowned by the sound of the drum.
The guardian did not beat it, but rubbed the head rapidly with the stick,
modifying the pressure scientifically until the vibrations had well
started. It roared hollowly, like some great bull.
The visitors passed through the defensive anteroom and entered the village
On the flat below the hills, heretofore invisible, stood a half-dozen
large houses. At the end, where the canon began to narrow, a fence gleamed
dazzlingly white. From this distance the four-foot posts, planted in
proximity like a stockade, looked to have been whitewashed.
People were appearing everywhere. The crags and points of the hills were
filling with bold black figures silhouetted against the sky. Men, women,
children, dogs sprang up, from the soil apparently. As though by magic the
flat open space became animated. Plumed heads appeared above the white
fence in the distance, where, undoubtedly, their owners had been loafing
in the shade. Another drum began to roar somewhere, and with it the echoes
began to arouse themselves in the hills.
Paying no attention to any of this interesting confusion Kingozi sauntered
straight ahead. At his command the Leopard Woman had dropped a pace to the
"The royal palace is behind the white fence," he volunteered over his
They approached the sacred precincts. But while yet fifty yards distant,
Kingozi stopped with an exclamation. He turned to the Leopard Woman, and
for the first time she saw on his face and in his eyes a genuine and
"My Lord!" he cried to her, "saw ever any man the likes of that!"
The white posts of which the fence was made were elephants' tusks!
"Kingdom coming, what a sight!" murmured Kingozi. "Why, there are hundreds
and hundreds of them--and the smallest worth not less than fifty pounds!"
Her eyes answered him whole-heartedly, for her imagination was afire.
"What magnificence!" she replied. "The thought is great--a palace of
ivory! This is kingly!"
But the light had died in Kingozi's eyes. "Won't do!" he muttered to her.
"Compose your face. Come."
Without another glance at the magnificent tusks he marched on through the
Other drums, many drums, were roaring all about. The cliff of the canon
was filled with sound that buffeted back and forth until it seemed that it
must rise above the hills and overflow the world. A chattering and
hurrying of people could be heard as an undertone.
The small enclosure was occupied by a dozen of the plumed warriors who had
now snatched up emblazoned shield and polished spear; and stood rigidly at
attention. Women of all ages crouched and squatted against the fence and
the sides of a large wattle and thatch building.
Kingozi walked deliberately about, looking with detached interest at the
various people and objects the corral contained. He had very much the air
of a man sauntering idly about a museum, with all the time in the world on
his hands, and nowhere much to go. Simba and Cazi Moto remained near the
gate. The Leopard Woman, not knowing what else to do, trailed after him.
This continued for some time. At last her impatience overcame her.
"I suppose I may talk," said she resentfully. "How much longer must this
go on? Why do not you make your call and have it over?"
"You do not know this game. Inside old Stick-in-the mud is waiting in all
his grandeur. He expects me to go in to him. I am going to wait until he
comes out to me. _Prestige_ again."
Apparently without a care in the world, he continued his stroll. Small
naked children ventured from hiding-places and stared. To some of these
Kingozi spoke pleasantly with the immediate effect of causing them to
scuttle back to cover. He examined minutely the tusks comprising the
stockade. They had been arranged somewhat according to size, with the
curve outward. Kingozi spent some time estimating them.
"Fortune here for some one," he observed.
At the end of an hour the _sultani_ gave up the contest and appeared,
smiling, unconcerned. The men greeted each other, exchanged a few words.
Women emerged from the house carrying _tembo_ in gourd bottles, and
smaller half-gourds from which to drink it. Their eyes were large with
curiosity as to this man and woman of a new species. Kingozi touched his
lips to the _tembo_. They exchanged a few words, and shook hands again.
Then Kingozi turned away, and, followed by the Leopard Woman and his two
men, walked out through the ivory gateway, down through the open flat,
under the fortified portal, and so down the lane of spiky walls. The drums
roared louder and louder. Warriors in spear, shield, and plumed headdress
stood rigid as they passed. People by the hundreds gazed at them openly,
peered at them from behind doors, or looked down on them from the crags
above. They rounded the corner of the cliff. Before them lay their own
quiet peaceful camp. Only the voice of the drums bellowed as though behind
them in the cleft of the hills some great and savage beast lay hid.
[Illustration: "Their eyes were large with curiosity as to this man and
woman of a new species.... Kingozi touched his lips to the _tembo_"]
"That seemed to be all right," suggested the Leopard Woman, ranging
"They didn't spear us, if that's what you mean. We can tell more about it
"What will happen to-morrow?"
"Yesterday and to-day finished the 'side' and ceremony. If to-morrow old
Stick-in-the-mud drifts around quite on his own, like any other _shenzi_,
and if the women come into camp freely, why then we're all right."
"Well, if the _sultani_ stays away, and if you don't see any women at all,
and if the men are painted and carry their shields--they will always carry
their spears--that won't be so favourable." "In which case we fight?"
"No: I'll alter my diplomacy. There's a vast difference between mere
unfriendliness and hostility. I think I can handle the former all right. I
wish I knew a little more of their language. Swahili hardly fills the
bill. I'll see what I can do with it in the next few days."
"You cannot learn a language in a few days!" she objected incredulously.
"Of course not. But I seem to know the general root idea of this patter.
It isn't unlike the N'gruimi--same root likely--a bastard combination of
She looked at him.
"You know," she told him slowly, "I am beginning to believe you _savant_.
You make not much of it, but your knowledge of natives is extraordinary.
You better than any other man know these people--their minds--how to
"I have a little knowledge of how to go at them, that's true. That's about
the only claim I have to being _savant_, as you call it. My book knowledge
and fact knowledge is equalled by many and exceeded by a great many more.
But mere knowledge of facts doesn't get far in practice," he laughed.
"Lord, these scientists! Helpless as children!" He sobered again. "There's
one man has the science and the psychology both. He's a wonderful person.
He knows the native objectively as I never will; and subjectively as well
if not better. It is a rare combination. He's 'way over west of us
somewhere now--in the Congo headwaters--a Bavarian, name Winkleman."
Had Kingozi been looking at her he would have seen the Leopard Woman's
frame stiffen at the mention of this name. For a moment she said nothing.
"I know the name--he is great scientist," she managed to say.
"He is more than a scientist; he is a great humanist. No man has more
insight, more sympathetic insight into the native mind. A man of vast
They had reached Kingozi's camp under the great tree. He began to unbuckle
"I'll just lay all this gorgeousness aside," said he apologetically.
But the Leopard Woman did not proceed to her own camp.
"I am interested," said she. "This Winkleman--he has vast influence? More
"That is hard to say," laughed Kingozi. "I should suppose so."
She caught at a hint of reluctant pride in his voice.
"Let us suppose," said she. "Let us suppose that you wanted one thing of
natives, and Winkleman wanted another thing. Which would succeed?"
"Neither. We'd both be speared," replied Kingozi promptly. "Positive and
negative poles, and all that sort of thing."
She puzzled over this a moment, trying to cast her question in a new form.
"But suppose this: suppose Winkleman had obtained his wish. Could you
overcome his influence and what-you-call substitute your own?"
"No more than he could substitute his were the cases reversed. I've
confidence enough in myself and knowledge enough of Winkleman to guarantee
"So it would depend on who got there first?" she persisted; "that is your
"Why, yes. But what does it matter?"
"It amuses me to get knowledge. I admire your handle of these people. You
must be patient and explain. It is all new to me, although I thought I had
"I am tired now. I go to the _siesta_."
Kingozi stared after her retreating figure. The direct form of her
questions had stirred again suspicions that had become vague.
"What's she driving at?" he asked the uncomprehending Simba in English. He
considered the question for some moments. "Don't even know her name or
nationality," he confessed to himself after a while. "She's a queer one. I
suppose I'll have to give her a man or so to help her back across the
Thirst." He pondered again, "I might take her _askaris_. Country will feed
them now. I'll have a business talk with her."
As the tone of voice sounded final to Simba he ventured his usual reply.
"Yes, suh!" said Simba.
The _sultani_ duly appeared the next morning; women brought in firewood
and products of the country to trade; all was well. The entire day, and
the succeeding days for over a week, Kingozi sat under his big tree,
smoking his black pipe. The _sultani_ sat beside him. For long periods at
a time nothing at all was said. Then for equally long periods a lively
conversation went on, through an interpreter mostly, though occasionally
the _sultani_ launched into his bastard Swahili or Kingozi ventured a few
words in the new tongue. Once in a while some intimate would saunter into
view, and would be summoned by his king. Then Kingozi patiently did the
(a) He performed disappearing tricks with a rupee or other small object;
causing it to vanish, and then plucking it from unexpected places.
(b) With a pair of scissors--which were magic aplenty in themselves--he
cut a folded paper in such a manner that when unfolded a row of paper
dolls was disclosed. This was a very successful trick. The pleased
warriors dandled them up and down delightedly in an _n'goma_.
(c) He opened and shut an opera hat. The ordinary "plug hat" was known to
these people, but not an opera hat.
(d) He allowed them to look through his prism glasses.
(e) On rare occasions he lit a match.
This vaudeville entertainment was always a huge success. The newcomers
squatted around the two chairs, and the conversation continued.
Bibi-ya-chui occasionally stood near and listened. The subjects were
trivial in themselves, and repeated endlessly.
Ten minutes of this bored her to the point of extinction. She could not
understand how Kingozi managed to survive ten hours day after day. Only
once was he absent from his post, and then for only a few hours. He went
out accompanied by Simba and a dozen _shenzis_, and shot a wildebeeste.
The tail of this--an object much prized as a fly whisk--he presented to
his majesty. All the rest of the time he talked and listened.
"It is such childish nonsense!" the Leopard Woman expostulated. "How can
you do it?"
"Goes with the job. It's a thing you must learn to do if you would get on
in this business."
And once more she seemed to catch a glimpse of the infinity of savage
Africa, which has been the same for uncounted ages, impersonal, without
history, without the values of time!
But had she known it, Kingozi was getting what he required. Information
came to him a word now, a word then; promises came to him in single
phrases lost in empty gossip. He collected what he wanted grain by grain
from bushels of chaff. The whole sum of his new knowledge could have been
expressed in a paragraph, took him a week to get, but was just what he
wanted. If he had asked categorical questions, he would have received
lies. If he had attempted to hurry matters, he would have got nothing at
About sundown the _sultani_ would depart, followed shortly by the last
straggler of his people. The succeeding hours were clear of _shenzis_, for
either the custom of the country or the presence of strangers seemed to
demand an _n'goma_ every evening. In the night stillness sounds carried
readily. The drums, no longer rubbed but beaten in rhythm; the shrill
wailing chants of women; the stamp and shuffle of feet; the cadenced
clapping of hands rose and fell according to the fervour of the dance. The
throb of these sounds was as a background to the evening--fierce,
After the departure of the _sultani_ Kingozi took a bath and changed his
clothes. The necessity for this was more mental than physical. Then he
relaxed luxuriously. It was then that he resumed his relations with the
Leopard Woman, and that they discussed matters of more or less importance
The first evening they talked of the wonder of the ivory stockade. Kingozi
had not yet had an opportunity to find out whence the tusks had come,
whether the elephants had been killed in this vicinity, or whether the
ivory had been traded from the Congo.
"It is very valuable," he said. "I must find out whether old Stick-in-the-
mud knows what they are worth, or whether he can be traded out of them on
any reasonable basis."
"You will not be going farther," she suggested one evening, apropos of
"Farther? Why not?" he asked rather blankly.
"You told me you were an ivory hunter," she pointed out.
"Ah--yes. But I have hardly the goods to trade--come back later," he
stumbled, for once caught off his guard. "I'm really looking for new
She did not pursue the subject; but the enigmatic smile lurked for a
moment in the depths of her eyes.
Every night after supper Kingozi caused his medicine chest to be brought
out and opened, and for a half-hour he doctored the sick. On this subject
he manifested an approach to enthusiasm.
"I know I can't doctor them all," he answered her objection, "and that
it's foolish to pick out one here and there; but it interests me. I told
you I was a medical student by training." He fingered over the square
bottles, each in its socket. "This is not the usual safari drug list," he
said. "I like to take these queer cases and see what I can do with them. I
may learn something; at any rate, it interests me. McCloud at Nairobi
fitted me out; and told me what it would be valuable to observe."
She appeared interested, and shortly he became enough convinced of this to
show and explain each drug separately. The quinine he carried in the
hydrochlorate instead of the sulphate, and he waxed eloquent telling her
why. Crystals of iodine as opposed to permanganate of potash for
antiseptic he discussed. From that he branched into antisepsis as opposed
to asepsis as a practical method in the field.
"Theory has nothing to do with it," said he. "It's a matter of which will
It was all technical; but it interested her for the simple reason that
Kingozi was really enthusiastic. True enthusiasm, without pose or self-
consciousness, invariably arouses interest.
"Now here's something you'll never see in another safari kit," said he,
holding up one of the square bottles filled with small white crystals,
"and that wouldn't be found in this one except for an accident. It's
"What is pilocarpin?" she asked, making a difficulty of the word.
"It is really a sort of eye dope," he explained. "You know atropin--the
stuff an oculist uses in your eyes when he wants to examine them--leaves
your vision blurred for a day or so."
"Yes, I know that."
"The effect of atropin is to expand the pupil. Pilocarpin is just the
opposite--it contracts the pupil."
"What need could you possibly have of that?"
"There's the joke: I haven't. But when I was outfitting I could not get
near enough phenacetin. I suppose you know that we use phenacetin to
induce sweating as first treatment of fever."
"I am not entirely ignorant. I can treat fevers, of course."
"Well, I took all they could spare. Then McCloud suggested pilocarpin.
Though it is really an eye drug, to be used externally, it also has an
effect internally to induce sweating. So that's why I have it."
She was examining the bottles.
"But you have atropin also. Why is that?"
"There's a good deal of ophthalmia or trachoma floating around some native
districts. I thought I might experiment."
"And this"--she picked up a third bottle--"ah, yes, morphia. But how much
alike they all are."
"In appearance, yes; in effect most radically and fatally different--like
people," smiled Kingozi.
But though Kingozi's scientific interest was keen in certain directions--
as ethnology, drugs, and zoology--it had totally blind spots. Thus the
Leopard Woman kept invariably on her table the bowl of fresh flowers; and
she manifested an unfailing liking to investigate such strange shrubs,
trees, flowers, or nondescript growths as flourished thereabouts.
"Do you know how one names these?" she asked him concerning certain
"I know nothing whatever about vegetables," he replied with indifferent
Several times after that, forgetting, she proffered the same question and
received exactly the same reply. Finally it became a joke to her. Slyly,
at sufficient intervals so that he should not become conscious of the
repetition, she took delight in eliciting this response, always the same,
always delivered with the same detached scorn:
"I know nothing whatever about vegetables."
In the meantime Simba, with great enthusiasm, continued his drill of the
_askaris_. Kingozi gave them an hour early in the day. They developed
rapidly from wild trigger yanking. An allowance of two cartridges apiece
proved them no great marksmen, but at least steady on discharge.
The "business conversation" Kingozi projected with the Leopard Woman did
not take place until late in the week. By that time he had pieced together
considerable information, as follows:
The mountain ranges at their backs possessed three practicable routes.
Beyond the ranges were grass plains with much game. Water could be had in
certain known places. No people dwell on these plains. This was because of
the tsetse fly that made it impossible to keep domestic cattle. Far--very
far--perhaps a month, who knows, is the country of the _sultani_ M'tela.
This is a very great _sultani_--very great indeed--a _sultani_ whose
spears are like the leaves of grass. His people are fierce, like the
Masai, like the people of Lobengula, and make war their trade. His people
are known as the Kabilagani. The way through the mountains is known;
guides can be had. The way across the plains is known; but for guides one
must find representatives of a little scattered plains tribe. That can be
done. _Potio_ for two weeks can be had--and so on.
Kingozi was particularly interested in these Kabilaganis: and pressed for
as much information as he could. Strangely enough he did not mention the
ivory stockade, nor did he attempt either to trade or to determine whether
or not the _sultani_ knew its value.
At the end of eight days he knew what he wished to know.
"I shall leave in two days," he told the Leopard Woman. "I should suggest
that you go to-morrow. I will send Simba with you to show you the water-
hole in the kopje. After that you know the country for yourself."
"But I am not going back!" she cried. "I am going on."
"That is impossible." He went on to explain to her what he had learned of
the country ahead: omitting, however, all reference to M'tela and his
warrior nation. "More plains: more game. That's all. You have more of that
than you can use back where we came from. And with every step you are
farther away. I am going on--very far. I may not come back at all."
She listened to all his arguments, but shook her head obstinately at their
"Your plan does not please me," said she. "I will go and see these plains
This was final, and Kingozi at last came to see it so.
"I was going to suggest that I relieve you of your _askaris_," said he,
"but if you persist in this foolish and aimless plan, you will need them
"Cannot we go together, at least for a distance?"
But to this he was much opposed.
"I shall be travelling faster than your cumbersome safari," he objected.
"I could not delay."
And in this decision he seemed as firm as had she in her intention to
proceed. After a light reconnaissance, so to speak, of argument, appeal,
and charm, she gave over trying to persuade him, and fell back on her
usual lazily indifferent attitude. Kingozi went ahead with his
preparations, laying in _potio_, examining kits, preparing in every way
his compact little caravan for the long journey before it. Then something
happened. He changed his mind and decided to combine safaris with the
THE TROPIC MOON
For several nights the plain below the plateau had been a sea of
moonlight, white, ethereal, fragile as spun glass. Each evening the shadow
of the mountains had shortened, drawing close under the skirts of the
hills. In stately orderly progression the quality of the night world was
changing. The heavy brooding darkness was being transformed to a fairy
delicacy of light.
And the life of the world seemed to feel this change, to be stirring, at
first feebly, then with growing strength. The ebb was passed; the tides
were rising to the brim. Each night the throb of the drums seemed to beat
more passionately, the rhythm to become quicker, wilder: the wailing
chants of the women rose in sudden gusts of frenzy. Dark figures stole
about in shadows; so that Kingozi, becoming anxious, gave especial
instructions, and delegated trusty men to see that they were obeyed.
"If our men get to fooling with their women, they'll spear the lot of us!"
And at last, like a queen whose coming has been prepared, a queen in whose
anticipation life had quickened, the moon herself rose serenely above the
Immediately the familiar objects changed; the familiar shadows vanished.
The world became a different world, full of enchantment, of soft-singing
birds, of chirping insects, of romance and recollections of past years, of
longings and the spells of barbaric Africa.
Kingozi sat with the Leopard Woman "talking business" when this miracle
took place. When the great rim of the moon materialized at the mountain's
rim, he abruptly fell silent. The spell had him, as indeed it had all
living things. From the village the drums pulsed more wildly, shoutings of
men commenced to mingle with the voices of the women; a confused clashing
sound began to be heard. In camp the fires appeared suddenly to pale. A
vague uneasiness swept the squatting men. Their voices fell: they
exchanged whispered monosyllables, dropping their voices, they knew not
The Leopard Woman arose and glided to the edge of the tree's shadow, where
she stood gazing upward at the moon. Kingozi watched her. He, old and
seasoned traveller as he was, had indeed fallen under the spell. He did
not consider it extraordinary, nor did it either embarrass or stir his
senses, that standing as she did before the moon and the little fires her
body showed in clear silhouette through her silken robe. Apparently this
was her only garment. It made a pale nimbus about her. She seemed to the
vague remnant of Kingozi's thinking perceptions like a priestess--her
slim, beautiful form erect, her small head bound with the golden fillet
from which, he knew, hung the jewel on her forehead. As though meeting
this thought she raised both arms toward the moon, standing thus for a
moment in the conventional attitude of invocation. Then she dropped her
arms, and came back to Kingozi's side.
Again it was like magic, the sudden blotting out of the slim human figure,
the substitution of the draped form as she moved from the light into the
shadow. But on Kingozi's retina remained the vision of her as she was. He
shifted, caught his breath.
As she came near him his hand closed over hers, bringing her to a halt.
She did not resist, but stood looking down at him waiting. He struggled
for an appearance of calm.
"Who are you?" he asked unsteadily. "You have never told me."
"You have named me--Bibi-ya-chui--the Woman of the Leopards."
She was smiling faintly, looking down at him through half-closed eyes.
"But who are you? You are not English."
"My name: you have given it. Let that suffice. Me--I am Hungarian." She
stooped ever so slightly and touched the upstanding mop of his wavy hair.
"What does it matter else?" she asked softly.
She was leaning: the moonlight came through the branches where she leaned;
the little fires--again the silken robes became a nimbus--and the drums of
the _n'goma_, the drums seemed to be throbbing in his veins----
He leaped to his feet and seized her savagely by the shoulders. The soft
silk slipped under his fingers. She threw back her head, looking at him
steadily. Her eyes glowed deep, and the jewel on her forehead. Kingozi was
"You are wonderful--maddening!" he muttered. This sudden unexpected
emotion swept him away, as a pond, quiet behind the dam, becomes a flood.
"I knew we could be such friends!" she said.
And then one of those tiny incidents happened that so often change the
course of greater events. In the darkness that still lingered the other
side of the camp an _askari_ challenged sharply some lurking wanderer.
According to his recent teaching he used the official word.
"_Samama!_" said he.
The metallic rattle of his musket and the brief official challenge
awakened Kingozi as would a dash of cold water. His instinct to crush to
his breast this alluring, fascinating, willing goddess of the moon was as
strong as ever. But across that instinct lay the shadow of a former day. A
clear picture flashed before his mind. He saw a man in the uniform of a
high office, and heard that man's words of instruction to himself. The
words had concluded with a few informal phrases of trust and confidence.
While these were being spoken, outside a sentry had challenged:
"_Samama!_" and as he moved, the metal of his accoutrements had clicked.
With a wrench Kingozi turned, dropping her shoulders. He deliberately ran
away. At the edge of his own camp he looked back. She was still standing
as he had left her. The moonlight, striking through the opening in the
branches, fell across her. At this distance she was merely a white figure;
but Kingozi saw her again as she had stood in invocation to the moon. As
though she had only awaited his turning, she raised her hand in grave
salutation and disappeared.
Kingozi was too restless, too stirred, to sit still. After a vain attempt
to smoke a quiet and ruminative pipe he arose and began to wander about.
The men looked up at him furtively from their little fires where
perpetually meat roasted. He strode on through the camp. His feet bore him
to the narrow lane leading to the village. Down the vista he saw flames
leaping, and figures leaping wildly, too, and the drums beat against his
temples. He turned back seeking quiet, and so on through camp again, and
past the Leopard Woman's tent. His mind was in a turmoil. No perception
reached him of outside things--once the disturbance of human creatures was
past. His feet led him unconsciously.
It was the old struggle. He desired this woman mightily. That he had been
totally indifferent to her before argued nothing. He had been suddenly
awakened: and he was in the prime of life. But the very strength of his
desire warned him. If he had really been on a hunt for ivory--well--he
wrenched his mind savagely from even a contemplation of possibilities.
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