Now I Do Not
Want To Arrive At The Rembwe In A Smoked Condition, Even Should My
Fragments Be Neat,
And I am going in a different direction to what I
said I was when leaving Kangwe, and there are
So many ways of
accounting for death about here - leopard, canoe capsize, elephants,
etc. - that even if I were traced - well, nothing could be done then,
anyhow - so will only take three Fans. One must diminish dead
certainties to the level of sporting chances along here, or one can
never get on.
No one, either Ajumba or Fan, knew the exact course we were to take.
The Ajumba had never been this way before - the way for black traders
across being via Lake Ayzingo, the way Mr. Goode of the American
Mission once went, and the Fans said they only knew the way to a big
Fan town called Efoua, where no white man or black trader had yet
been. There is a path from there to the Rembwe they knew, because
the Efoua people take their trade all to the Rembwe. They would,
they said, come with me all the way if I would guarantee them safety
if they "found war" on the road. This I agreed to do, and arranged
to pay off at Hatton and Cookson's subfactory on the Rembwe, and
they have "Look my mouth and it be sweet, so palaver done set."
Every load then, by the light of the bush lights held by the women,
we arranged. I had to unpack my bottles of fishes so as to equalise
the weight of the loads. Every load is then made into a sort of
cocoon with bush rope.
I was left in peace at about 11.30 P.M., and clearing off the
clothes from the bench threw myself down and tried to get some
sleep, for we were to start, the Fans said, before dawn. Sleep
impossible - mosquitoes! lice!! - so at 12.40 I got up and slid aside
my bark door. I found Pagan asleep under his mosquito bar outside,
across the doorway, but managed to get past him without rousing him
from his dreams of palaver which he was still talking aloud, and
reconnoitred the town. The inhabitants seemed to have talked
themselves quite out and were sleeping heavily. I went down then to
our canoe and found it safe, high up among the Fan canoes on the
stones, and then I slid a small Fan canoe off, and taking a paddle
from a cluster stuck in the sand, paddled out on to the dark lake.
It was a wonderfully lovely quiet night with no light save that from
the stars. One immense planet shone pre-eminent in the purple sky,
throwing a golden path down on to the still waters. Quantities of
big fish sprung out of the water, their glistening silver-white
scales flashing so that they look like slashing swords. Some bird
was making a long, low boom-booming sound away on the forest shore.
I paddled leisurely across the lake to the shore on the right, and
seeing crawling on the ground some large glow-worms, drove the canoe
on to the bank among some hippo grass, and got out to get them.
Enter page number
Page 132 of 371
Words from 68997 to 69541