One Of That First Gang
Of Boys Showed Self-Help To Such A Remarkable Degree That I
Christened Him Smiles.
His name - You-be-d - d - being both protracted
and improper, called for change of some sort, but even
no comfort to one still hampered with conventional ideas regarding
property, and frequent roll-calls were found necessary, so that the
crimes of my friend Smiles and his fellows might not accumulate to
an unmanageable extent.
This used to be the sort of thing - "Where them Nettlerash lib?" "He
lib for drunk, Massa." "Where them Smiles?" "He lib for town, for
steal, Massa." "Where them Black Man Misery?" But I draw a veil
over the confessional, for there is simply no artistic reticence
about your Kruman when he is telling the truth, or otherwise,
regarding a fellow creature.
After accumulating with this gang enough experience to fill a hat
(remembering always "one of the worst things you can do in West
Africa is to worry yourself") I bethought me of the advice I had
received from my cousin Rose Kingsley, who had successfully ridden
through Mexico when Mexico was having a rather worse revolution than
usual, "to always preserve a firm manner." I thought I would try
this on those Kruboys and said "NO" in place of "I wish you would
not do that, please." I can't say it was an immediate success.
During this period we came across a trader's lonely store wherein he
had a consignment of red parasols.
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