Part 6 out of 8
The aspect of the country was entirely changed since the inundation.
It had made a lake of the plain where the termite village stood. The
cones of twenty ant-hills emerged, and formed the only projecting
points on this large basin.
The Coanza had overflowed during the night, with the waters of its
tributaries swelled by the storm.
This Coanza, one of the rivers of Angola, flows into the Atlantic, a
hundred miles from the cape where the "Pilgrim" was wrecked. It was
this river that Lieutenant Cameron had to cross some years later,
before reaching Benguela. The Coanza is intended to become the vehicle
for the interior transit of this portion of the Portuguese colony.
Already steamers ascend its lower course, and before ten years elapse,
they will ply over its upper bed. Dick Sand had then acted wisely in
seeking some navigable river toward the north. The rivulet he had
followed had just been emptied into the Coanza. Only for this sudden
attack, of which he had had no intimation to put him on his guard, he
would have found the Coanza a mile farther on. His companions and he
would have embarked on a raft, easily constructed, and they would have
had a good chance to descend the stream to the Portuguese villages,
where the steamers come into port. There, their safety would be
It would not be so.
The camp, perceived by Dick Sand, was established on an elevation near
the ant-hill, into which fate had thrown him, as in a trap. At the
summit of that elevation rose an enormous sycamore fig-tree, which
would easily shelter five hundred men under its immense branches.
Those who have not seen those giant trees of Central Africa, can form
no idea of them. Their branches form a forest, and one could be lost
in it. Farther on, great banyans, of the kind whose seeds do not
change into fruits, completed the outline of this vast landscape.
It was under the sycamore's shelter, hidden, as in a mysterious
asylum, that a whole caravan--the one whose arrival Harris had
announced to Negoro--had just halted. This numerous procession of
natives, snatched from their villages by the trader Alvez's agents,
were going to the Kazounde market. Thence the slaves, as needed, would
be sent either to the barracks of the west coast, or to N'yangwe,
toward the great lake region, to be distributed either in upper Egypt,
or in the factories of Zanzibar.
As soon as they arrived at the camp, Dick Sand and his companions had
been treated as slaves. Old Tom, his son Austin, Acteon, poor Nan,
negroes by birth, though they did not belong to the African race, were
treated like captive natives. After they were disarmed, in spite of
the strongest resistance, they were held by the throat, two by two, by
means of a pole six or seven feet long, forked at each end, and closed
by an iron rod. By this means they were forced to march in line, one
behind the other, unable to get away either to the right or to the
left. As an over precaution, a heavy chain was attached to their
waists. They had their arms free, to carry burdens, their feet free to
march, but they could not use them to flee. Thus they were going to
travel hundreds of miles under an overseer's lash. Placed apart,
overcome by the reaction which followed the first moments of their
struggle against the negroes, they no longer made a movement. Why had
they not been able to follow Hercules in his flight? And, meanwhile,
what could they hope for the fugitive? Strong as he was, what would
become of him in that inhospitable country, where hunger, solitude,
savage beasts, natives, all were against him? Would he not soon regret
his companion's fate? They, however, had no pity to expect from the
chiefs of the caravan, Arabs or Portuguese, speaking a language they
could not understand. These chiefs only entered into communication
with their prisoners by menacing looks and gestures.
Dick Sand himself was not coupled with any other slave. He was a white
man, and probably they had not dared to inflict the common treatment
on him. Unarmed, he had his feet and hands free, but a driver watched
him especially. He observed the camp, expecting each moment to see
Negoro or Harris appear. His expectation was in vain. He had no doubt,
however, that those two miserable men had directed the attack against
Thus the thought came to him that Mrs. Weldon, little Jack, and Cousin
Benedict had been led away separately by orders from the American or
from the Portuguese. Seeing neither one nor the other, he said to
himself that perhaps the two accomplices even accompanied their
victims. Where were they leading them? What would they do with them?
It was his most cruel care. Dick Sand forgot his own situation to
think only of Mrs. Weldon and hers.
The caravan, camped under the gigantic sycamore, did not count less
than eight hundred persons, say five hundred slaves of both sexes,
two hundred soldiers, porters, marauders, guards, drivers, agents, or
These chiefs were of Arab and Portugese origin. It would be difficult
to imagine the cruelties that these inhuman beings inflicted on their
captives. They struck them without relaxation, and those who fell
exhausted, not fit to be sold, were finished with gunshots or the
knife. Thus they hold them by terror. But the result of this system
is, that on the arrival of the caravan, fifty out of a hundred slaves
are missing from the trader's list. A few may have escaped, but the
bones of those who died from torture mark out the long routes from the
interior to the coast.
It is supposed that the agents of European origin, Portuguese for the
most part, are only rascals whom their country has rejected, convicts,
escaped prisoners, old slave-drivers whom the authorities have been
unable to hang--in a word, the refuse of humanity. Such was Negoro,
such was Harris, now in the service of one of the greatest contractors
of Central Africa, Jose-Antonio Alvez, well known by the traders of
the province, about whom Lieutenant Cameron has given some curious
The soldiers who escort the captives are generally natives in the pay
of the traders. But the latter have not the monopoly of those raids
which procure the slaves for them. The negro kings also make atrocious
wars with each other, and with the same object. Then the vanquished
adults, the women and children, reduced to slavery, are sold by the
vanquishers for a few yards of calico, some powder, a few firearms,
pink or red pearls, and often even, as Livingstone says, in periods of
famine, for a few grains of maize.
The soldiers who escorted old Alvez's caravan might give a true idea
of what African armies are.
It was an assemblage of negro bandits, hardly clothed, who brandished
long flint-lock guns, the gun-barrels garnished with a great number of
copper rings. With such an escort, to which are joined marauders who
are no better, the agents often have all they can do. They dispute
orders, they insist on their own halting places and hours, they
threaten to desert, and it is not rare for the agents to be forced to
yield to the exactions of this soldiery.
Though the slaves, men or women, are generally subjected to carry
burdens while the caravan is on the march, yet a certain number of
porters accompany it. They are called more particularly "Pagazis," and
they carry bundles of precious objects, principally ivory. Such is the
size of these elephants' teeth sometimes, of which some weigh as much
as one hundred and sixty pounds, that it takes two of these "Pagazis"
to carry them to the factories. Thence this precious merchandise is
exported to the markets of Khartoum, of Zanzibar and Natal.
On arriving, these "Pagazis" are paid the price agreed upon. It
consists in twenty yards of cotton cloth, or of that stuff which bears
the name of "Merikani," a little powder, a handful of cowry (shells
very common in that country, which serve as money), a few pearls, or
even those of the slaves who would be difficult to sell. The slaves
are paid, when the trader has no other money.
Among the five hundred slaves that the caravan counted, there were
few grown men. That is because, the "Razzia" being finished and
the village set on fire, every native above forty is unmercifully
massacred and hung to a neighboring tree. Only the young adults of
both sexes and the children are intended to furnish the markets.
After these men-hunts, hardly a tenth of the vanquished survive. This
explains the frightful depopulation which changes vast territories of
equatorial Africa into deserts.
Here, the children and the adults were hardly clothed with a rag of
that bark stuff, produced by certain trees, and called "mbouzon" in
the country. Thus the state of this troop of human beings, women
covered with wounds from the "havildars'" whips, children ghastly
and meager, with bleeding feet, whom their mothers tried to carry in
addition to their burdens, young men closely riveted to the fork, more
torturing than the convict's chain, is the most lamentable that can be
Yes, the sight of the miserable people, hardly living, whose voices
have no sound, ebony skeletons according to Livingstone's expression,
would touch the hearts of wild beasts. But so much misery did not
touch those hardened Arabs nor those Portuguese, who, according to
Lieutenant Cameron, are still more cruel. This is what Cameron says:
"To obtain these fifty women, of whom Alvez called himself proprietor,
ten villages had been destroyed, ten villages having each from one
hundred to two hundred souls: a total of fifteen hundred inhabitants.
Some had been able to escape, but the greater part--almost all--had
perished in the flames, had been killed in defending their families,
or had died of hunger in the jungle, unless the beasts of prey had
terminated their sufferings more promptly.
"Those crimes, perpetrated in the center of Africa by men who boast of
the name of Christians, and consider themselves Portuguese, would seem
incredible to the inhabitants of civilized countries. It is impossible
that the government of Lisbon knows the atrocities committed by people
who boast of being her subjects." _--Tour of the World_.
In Portugal there have been very warm protestations against these
assertions of Cameron's.
It need not be said that, during the marches, as during the halts, the
prisoners were very carefully guarded. Thus, Dick Sand soon understood
that he must not even attempt to get away. But then, how find Mrs.
Weldon again? That she and her child had been carried away by Negoro
was only too certain. The Portuguese had separated her from her
companions for reasons unknown as yet to the young novice. But he
could not doubt Negoro's intervention, and his heart was breaking at
the thought of the dangers of all kinds which threatened Mrs. Weldon.
"Ah!" he said to himself, "when I think that I have held those two
miserable men, both of them, at the end of my gun, and that I have not
This thought was one of those which returned most persistently to Dick
Sand's mind. What misfortunes the death, the just death of Harris and
Negoro might have prevented! What misery, at least, for those whom
these brokers in human flesh were now treating as slaves!
All the horror of Mrs. Weldon's and little Jack's situation now
represented itself to Dick Sand. Neither the mother nor the child
could count on Cousin Benedict. The poor man could hardly take care of
Doubtless they were taking all three to some district remote from the
province of Angola. But who was carrying the still sick child?
"His mother; yes, his mother," Dick Sand repeated to himself. "She
will have recovered strength for him; she will have done what these
unhappy female slaves do, and she will fall like them. Ah! may God put
me again in front of her executioners, and I--"
But he was a prisoner! He counted one head in this live-stock that the
overseers were driving to the interior of Africa. He did not even know
whether Negoro and Harris themselves were directing the convoy of
which their victims made a part. Dingo was no longer there to scent
the Portuguese, to announce his approach. Hercules alone might come to
the assistance of the unfortunate Mrs. Weldon. But was that miracle to
be hoped for?
However, Dick Sand fell back again on that idea. He said to himself
that the strong black man was free. Of his devotion there was no
doubt. All that a human being could do, Hercules would do in Mrs.
Weldon's interest. Yes, either Hercules would try to find them and put
himself in communication with them; or if that failed him, he would
endeavor to concert with him, Dick Sand, and perhaps carry him off,
deliver him by force. During the night halts, mingling with these
prisoners, black like them, could he not deceive the soldier's
vigilance, reach him, break his bonds, and lead him away into the
forest? And both of them, then free, what would they not do for Mrs.
Weldon's safety. A water course would enable them to descend to the
coast. Dick Sand would again take up that plan so unfortunately
prevented by the natives' attack, with new chances of success and a
greater knowledge of the difficulties.
The young novice thus alternated between fear and hope. In fact, he
resisted despair, thanks to his energetic nature, and held himself in
readiness to profit by the least chance that might offer itself to
What he most desired to know was to what market the agents were taking
the convoy of slaves. Was it to one of the factories of Angola, and
would it be an affair of a few halting-places only, or would this
convoy travel for hundreds of miles still, across Central Africa? The
principal market of the contractors is that of N'yangwe, in Manyema,
on that meridian which divides the African continent into two almost
equal parts, there where extends the country of the great lakes, that
Livingstone was then traversing. But it was far from the camp on the
Coanza to that village. Months of travel would not suffice to reach
That was one of Dick Sand's most serious thoughts; for, once at
N'yangwe, in case even Mrs. Weldon, Hercules, the other blacks and
he should succeed in escaping, how difficult it would be, not to say
impossible, to return to the seacoast, in the midst of the dangers of
such a long route.
But Dick Sand soon had reason to think that the convoy would soon
reach its destination. Though he did not understand the language
employed by the chiefs of the caravan, sometimes Arab, sometimes the
African idiom, he remarked that the name of an important market of
that region was often pronounced. It was the name Kazounde, and he
knew that a very great trade in slaves was carried on there. He was
then naturally led to believe that there the fate of the prisoners
would be decided, whether for the profit of the king of that district
or for the benefit of some rich trader of the country. We know that he
was not mistaken.
Now, Dick Sand, being posted in the facts of modern geography, knew
very exactly what is known of Kazounde. The distance from Saint
Paul de Loanda to this city does not exceed four hundred miles, and
consequently two hundred and fifty miles, at the most, separates
it from the camp established on the Coanza. Dick Sand made his
calculation approximately, taking the distance traveled by the
little troop under Harris's lead as the base. Now, under ordinary
circumstances, this journey would only require from ten to twelve
days. Doubling that time for the needs of a caravan already exhausted
by a long route, Dick Sand might estimate the length of the journey
from the Coanza to Kazounde at three weeks.
Dick Sand wished very much to impart what he believed he knew to Tom
and his companions. It would be a kind of consolation for them to be
assured that they were not being led to the center of Africa, into
those fatal countries which they could not hope to leave. Now, a few
words uttered in passing would be sufficient to enlighten them. Would
he succeed in saying those words?
Tom and Bat--chance had reunited the father and son--Acteon and
Austin, forked two by two, were at the right extremity of the camp. An
overseer and a dozen soldiers watched them.
Dick Sand, free in his movements, resolved to gradually diminish the
distance that separated him from his companions to fifty steps. He
then commenced to maneuver to that end.
Very likely old Tom divined Dick Sand's thought. A word, pronounced in
a low voice, warned his companions to be attentive. They did not stir,
but they kept themselves ready to see, as well as to hear.
Soon, with an indifferent air, Dick Sand had gained fifty steps more.
From the place where he then was, he could have called out, in such
a manner as to be heard, that name Kazounde, and tell them what
the probable length of the journey would be. But to complete his
instructions, and confer with them on their conduct during the
journey, would be still better. He then continued to draw nearer to
them. Already his heart was beating with hope; he was only a few
steps from the desired end, when the overseer, as if he had suddenly
penetrated his intention, rushed on him. At the cries of that enraged
person, ten soldiers ran to the spot, and Dick Sand was brutally led
back to the rear, while Tom and his companions were taken to the other
extremity of the camp.
Exasperated, Dick Sand had thrown himself upon the overseer. He had
ended by breaking his gun in his hands. He had almost succeeded in
snatching it from him. But seven or eight soldiers assailed him at
once, and force was used to secure him. Furious, they would have
massacred him, if one of the chiefs of the caravan, an Arab of great
height and ferocious physiognomy, had not intervened. This Arab was
the chief Ibn Hamis, of whom Harris had spoken. He pronounced a few
words which Dick Sand could not understand, and the soldiers, obliged
to release their prey, went away.
It was, then, very evident, for one thing, that there had been a
formal order not to allow the young novice to communicate with his
companions; and for another, that his life should not be taken.
Who could have given such orders, if not Harris or Negoro?
At that moment--it was nine o'clock in the morning, April 19th--the
harsh sounds from a "condou's" horn (a kind of ruminating animal among
the African deer) burst forth, and the drum was heard. The halt was
going to end.
All, chiefs, porters, soldiers, slaves, were immediately on foot.
Laden with their packs, several groups of captives were formed under
the leadership of an overseer, who unfurled a banner of bright colors.
The signal for departure was given. Songs then rose on the air; but
they were the vanquished, not the vanquishers, who sang thus.
This is what they said in these songs--a threatening expression of a
simple faith from the slaves against their oppressors--against their
"You have sent me to the coast, but I shall be dead; I shall have a
yoke no longer, and I shall return to kill you."
SOME OF DICK SAND'S NOTES.
Though the storm of the day before had ceased, the weather was still
very unsettled. It was, besides, the period of the "masika," the
second period of the rainy season, under this zone of the African
heaven. The nights in particular would be rainy during one, two, or
three weeks, which could only increase the misery of the caravan.
It set out that day in cloudy weather, and, after quitting the banks
of the Coanza, made its way almost directly to the east. Fifty
soldiers marched at the head, a hundred on each of the two sides of
the convoy, the rest as a rear-guard. It would be difficult for the
prisoners to flee, even if they had not been chained. Women, children,
and men were going pell-mell, and the overseers urged them on with the
whip. There were unfortunate mothers who, nursing one child, held a
second by the hand that was free. Others dragged these little beings
along, without clothing, without shoes, on the sharp grasses of the
The chief of the caravan, that ferocious Ibn Hamis, who had interfered
in the struggle between Dick Sand and his overseer, watched this whole
troop, going backwards and forwards from the head to the foot of the
long column. If his agents and he troubled themselves but little about
the sufferings of their captives, they must reckon more seriously
either with the soldiers who claimed some additional rations, or with
the "pagazis" who wanted to halt. Thence discussions; often even an
exchange of brutality. The slaves suffered more from the overseers'
constant irritation. Nothing was heard but threats from one side, and
cries of grief from the other. Those who marched in the last ranks
treaded a soil that the first had stained with their blood.
Dick Sand's companions, always carefully kept in front of the convoy,
could have no communication with him. They advanced in file, the neck
held in the heavy fork, which did not permit a single head-movement.
The whips did not spare them any more than their sad companions in
Bat, coupled with his father, marched before him, taxing his ingenuity
not to shake the fork, choosing the best places to step on, because
old Tom must pass after him. From time to time, when the overseer was
a little behind, he uttered various words of encouragement, some of
which reached Tom. He even tried to retard his march, if he felt that
Tom was getting tired. It was suffering, for this good son to be
unable to turn his head towards his good father, whom he loved.
Doubtless, Tom had the satisfaction of seeing his son; however, he
paid dear for it. How many times great tears flowed from his eyes when
the overseer's whip fell upon Bat! It was a worse punishment than if
it had fallen on his own flesh.
Austin and Acteon marched a few steps behind, tied to each other, and
brutally treated every moment. Ah, how they envied Hercules's fate!
Whatever were the dangers that threatened the latter in that savage
country, he could at least use his strength and defend his life.
During the first moments of their captivity, old Tom had finally made
known the whole truth to his companions. They had learned from him, to
their profound astonishment, that they were in Africa; that Negoro's
and Harris's double treachery had first thrown them there, and then
led them away, and that no pity was to be expected from their masters.
Nan was not better treated. She made part of a group of women who
occupied the middle of the convoy. They had chained her with a young
mother of two children, one at the breast, the other aged three years,
who walked with difficulty. Nan, moved with pity, had burdened herself
with the little creature, and the poor slave had thanked her by a
tear. Nan then carried the infant, at the same time, sparing her the
fatigue, to which she would have yielded, and the blows the overseer
would have given her. But it was a heavy burden for old Nan. She felt
that her strength would soon fail her, and then she thought of little
Jack. She pictured him to herself in his mother's arms. Sickness had
wasted him very much, but he must be still heavy for Mrs. Weldon's
weakened arms. Where was she? What would become of her? Would her old
servant ever see her again?
Dick Sand had been placed almost in the rear of the convoy. He could
neither perceive Tom, nor his companions, nor Nan. The head of the
long caravan was only visible to him when it was crossing some plain.
He walked, a prey, to the saddest thoughts, from which the agents'
cries hardly drew his attention. He neither thought of himself, nor
the fatigues he must still support, nor of the tortures probably
reserved for him by Negoro. He only thought of Mrs. Weldon. In rain
he sought on the ground, on the brambles by the paths, on the lower
branches of the trees, to find some trace of her passage. She could
not have taken another road, if, as everything indicated, they
were leading her to Kazounde. What would he not give to find some
indication of her march to the destination where they themselves were
Such was the situation of the young novice and his companions in body
and mind. But whatever they might have to fear for themselves, great
as was their own sufferings, pity took possession of them on seeing
the frightful misery of that sad troop of captives, and the revolting
brutality of their masters. Alas! they could do nothing to succor the
afflicted, nothing to resist the others.
All the country situated east of the Coanza was only a forest for over
an extent of twenty miles. The trees, however, whether they perish
under the biting of the numerous insects of these countries, or
whether troops of elephants beat them down while they are still young,
are less crowded here than in the country next to the seacoast. The
march, then, under the trees, would not present obstacles. The shrubs
might be more troublesome than the trees. There was, in fact, an
abundance of those cotton-trees, seven to eight feet high, the cotton
of which serves to manufacture the black and white striped stuffs used
in the interior of the province.
In certain places, the soil transformed itself into thick jungles, in
which the convoy disappeared. Of all the animals of the country,
the elephants and giraffes alone were taller than those reeds which
resemble bamboos, those herbs, the stalks of which measure an inch in
diameter. The agents must know the country marvelously well, not to be
lost in these jungles.
Each day the caravan set out at daybreak, and only halted at midday
for an hour. Some packs containing tapioca were then opened, and this
food was parsimoniously distributed to the slaves. To this potatoes
were added, or goat's meat and veal, when the soldiers had pillaged
some village in passing. But the fatigue had been such, the repose so
insufficient, so impossible even during these rainy nights, that when
the hour for the distribution of food arrived the prisoners could
hardly eat. So, eight days after the departure from the Coanza, twenty
had fallen by the way, at the mercy of the beasts that prowled behind
the convoy. Lions, panthers and leopards waited for the victims which
could not fail them, and each evening after sunset their roaring
sounded at such a short distance that one might fear a direct attack.
On hearing those roars, rendered more formidable by the darkness,
Dick Sand thought with terror of the obstacles such encounters would
present against Hercules's enterprise, of the perils that menaced each
of his steps. And meanwhile if he himself should find an opportunity
to flee, he would not hesitate.
Here are some notes taken by Dick Sand during this journey from the
Coanza to Kazounde. Twenty-five "marches" were employed to make this
distance of two hundred and fifty miles, the "march" in the traders'
language being ten miles, halting by day and night.
_From 25th to 27th April._--Saw a village surrounded by walls of
reeds, eight or nine feet high. Fields cultivated with maize, beans,
"sorghas" and various arachides. Two blacks seized and made prisoners.
Fifteen killed. Population fled.
The next day crossed an impetuous river, one hundred and fifty yards
wide. Floating bridge, formed of trunks of trees, fastened with
lianes. Piles half broken. Two women, tied to the same fork,
precipitated into the water. One was carrying her little child. The
waters are disturbed and become stained with blood. Crocodiles glide
between the parts of the bridge. There is danger of stepping into
their open mouths.
_April 28th_.--Crossed a forest of bauhiniers. Trees of straight
timber--those which furnish the iron wood for the Portuguese.
Heavy rain. Earth wet. March extremely painful.
Perceived, toward the center of the convoy, poor Nan, carrying
a little negro child in her arms. She drags herself along with
difficulty. The slave chained with her limps, and the blood flows from
her shoulder, torn by lashes from the whip.
In the evening camped under an enormous baobab with white flowers and
a light green foliage.
During the night roars of lions and leopards. Shots fired by one of
the natives at a panther. What has become of Hercules?
_April 29th and 30th_.--First colds of what they call the African
winter. Dew very abundant. End of the rainy season with the month of
April; it commences with the month of November. Plains still largely
inundated. East winds which check perspiration and renders one more
liable to take the marsh fevers.
No trace of Mrs. Weldon, nor of Mr. Benedict. Where would they take
them, if not to Kazounde? They must have followed the road of the
caravan and preceded us. I am eaten up with anxiety. Little Jack must
be seized again with the fever in this unhealthy region. But does he
_From May 1st to May 6th_.--Crossed, with several halting-places,
long plains, which evaporation has not been able to dry up. Water
everywhere up to the waist. Myriads of leeches adhering to the skin.
We must march for all that. On some elevations that emerge are lotus
and papyrus. At the bottom, under the water, other plants, with large
cabbage leaves, on which the feet slip, which occasions numerous
In these waters, considerable quantities of little fish of the silurus
species. The natives catch them by billions in wickers and sell them
to the caravans.
Impossible to find a place to camp for the night. We see no limit to
the inundated plain. We must march in the dark. To-morrow many slaves
will be missing from the convoy. What misery! When one falls, why get
up again? A few moments more under these waters, and all would be
finished. The overseer's stick would not reach you in the darkness.
Yes, but Mrs. Weldon and her son! I have not the right to abandon
them. I shall resist to the end. It is my duty.
Dreadful cries are heard in the night. Twenty soldiers have torn some
branches from resinous trees whose branches were above water. Livid
lights in the darkness.
This is the cause of the cries I heard. An attack of crocodiles;
twelve or fifteen of those monsters have thrown themselves in the
darkness on the flank of the caravan.
Women and children have been seized and carried away by the crocodiles
to their "pasture lands"--so Livingstone calls those deep holes where
this amphibious animal deposits its prey, after having drowned it, for
it only eats it when it has reached a certain degree of decomposition.
I have been rudely grazed by the scales of one of these crocodiles. An
adult slave has been seized near me and torn from the fork that held
him by the neck. The fork was broken. What a cry of despair! What a
howl of grief! I hear it still!
_May 7th and 8th_.--The next day they count the victims. Twenty slaves
At daybreak I look for Tom and his companions. God be praised! they
are living. Alas! ought I to praise God? Is one not happier to be done
with all this misery!
Tom is at the head of the convoy. At a moment when his son Bat made a
turn, the fork was presented obliquely, and Tom was able to see me.
I search in vain for old Nan. Is she in the central group? or has she
perished during that frightful night?
The next day, passed the limit of the inundated plain, after
twenty-four hours in the water. We halt on a hill. The sun dries us
a little. We eat, but what miserable food! A little tapioca, a few
handfuls of maize. Nothing but the troubled water to drink. Prisoners
extended on the ground--how many will not get up!
No! it is not possible that Mrs. Weldon and her son have passed
through so much misery! God would be so gracious to them as to have
them led to Kazounde by another road. The unhappy mother could not
New case of small-pox in the caravan; the "ndoue," as they say. The
sick could not be able to go far. Will they abandon them?
_May 9th_.--They have begun the march again at sunrise. No laggards.
The overseer's whip has quickly raised those overcome by fatigue or
sickness. Those slaves have a value; they are money. The agents will
not leave them behind while they have strength enough to march.
I am surrounded by living skeletons. They have no longer voice enough
to complain. I have seen old Nan at last. She is a sad sight. The
child she was carrying is no longer in her arms. She is alone, too.
That will be less painful for her; but the chain is still around her
waist, and she has been obliged to throw the end over her shoulder.
By hastening, I have been able to draw near her. One would say that
she did not recognize me. Am I, then, changed to that extent?
"Nan," I said.
The old servant looked at me a long time, and then she exclaimed:
"You, Mr. Dick! I--I--before long I shall be dead!"
"No, no! Courage!" I replied, while my eyes fell so as not to see what
was only the unfortunate woman's bloodless specter.
"Dead!" she continued; "and I shall not see my dear mistress again,
nor my little Jack. My God! my God! have pity on me!"
I wished to support old Nan, whose whole body trembled under her torn
clothing. It would have been a mercy to see myself tied to her, and
to carry my part of that chain, whose whole weight she bore since her
A strong arm pushes me back, and the unhappy Nan is thrown back into
the crowd of slaves, lashed by the whips. I wished to throw myself on
that brutal----The Arab chief appears, seizes my arm, and holds me
till I find myself again in the caravan's last rank.
Then, in his turn, he pronounces the name, "Negoro!"
Negoro! It is then by the Portuguese's orders that he acts and treats
me differently from my companions in misfortune?
For what fate am I reserved?
_May 10th_.--To-day passed near two villages in flames. The stubble
burns on all sides. Dead bodies are hung from the trees the fire has
spared. Population fled.
Fields devastated. The _razzie_ is exercised there. Two hundred
murders, perhaps, to obtain a dozen slaves.
Evening has arrived. Halt for the night. Camp made under great trees.
High shrubs forming a thicket on the border of the forest.
Some prisoners fled the night before, after breaking their forks.
They have been retaken, and treated with unprecedented cruelty. The
soldiers' and overseers' watchfulness is redoubled.
Night has come. Roaring of lions and hyenas, distant snorting of
hippopotami. Doubtless some lake or watercourse near.
In spite of my fatigue, I cannot sleep. I think of so many things.
Then, it seems to me that I hear prowling in the high grass. Some
animal, perhaps. Would it dare force an entrance into the camp?
I listen. Nothing! Yes! An animal is passing through the reeds. I am
unarmed! I shall defend myself, nevertheless. My life may be useful to
Mrs. Weldon, to my companions.
I look through the profound darkness. There is no moon. The night is
Two eyes shine in the darkness, among the papyrus--two eyes of a hyena
or a leopard. They disappear--reappear.
At last there is a rustling of the bushes. An animal springs upon me!
I am going to cry out, to give the alarm. Fortunately, I was able to
restrain myself. I cannot believe my eyes! It is Dingo! Dingo, who is
near me! Brave Dingo! How is it restored to me? How has it been able
to find me again? Ah! instinct! Would instinct be sufficient to
explain such miracles of fidelity? It licks my hands. Ah! good dog,
now my only friend, they have not killed you, then!
It understands me.
I return its caresses.
It wants to bark.
I calm it. It must not be heard.
Let it follow the caravan in this way, without being seen, and
perhaps----But what! It rubs its neck obstinately against my hands. It
seems to say to me: "Look for something." I look, and I feel something
there, fastened to its neck. A piece of reed is slipped under the
collar, on which are graven those two letters, S.V., the mystery of
which is still inexplicable to us.
Yes. I have unfastened the reed. I have broken it! There is a
letter inside. But this letter--I cannot read it. I must wait for
daylight!--daylight! I should like to keep Dingo; but the good
animal, even while licking my hands, seems in a hurry to leave me. It
understands that its mission is finished. With one bound aside, it
disappears among the bushes without noise. May God spare it from the
lions' and hyenas' teeth!
Dingo has certainly returned to him who sent it to me.
This letter, that I cannot yet read, burns my hands! Who has written
it? Would it come from Mrs. Weldon? Does it come from Hercules? How
has the faithful animal, that we believed dead, met either the one
or the other? What is this letter going to tell me? Is it a plan of
escape that it brings me? Or does it only give me news of those dear
to me? Whatever it may be, this incident has greatly moved me, and has
relaxed my misery.
Ah! the day comes so slowly. I watch for the least light on the
horizon. I cannot close my eyes. I still hear the roaring of the
animals. My poor Dingo, can you escape them? At last day is going to
appear, and almost without dawn, under these tropical latitudes.
I settle myself so as not to be seen. I try to read--I cannot yet. At
last I have read. The letter is from Hercules's hand. It is written on
a bit of paper, in pencil. Here is what it says:
"Mrs. Weldon was taken away with little Jack in a _kitanda_.
Harris and Negoro accompany it. They precede the caravan by three
or four marches, with Cousin Benedict. I have not been able to
communicate with her. I have found Dingo, who must have been
wounded by a shot, but cured. Good hope, Mr. Dick. I only think of
you all, and I fled to be more useful to you. HERCULES."
Ah! Mrs. Weldon and her son are living. God be praised! They have not
to suffer the fatigues of these rude halting-places. A _kitanda_--it
is a kind of litter of dry grass, suspended to a long bamboo, that two
men carry on the shoulder. A stuff curtain covers it over. Mrs. Weldon
and her little Jack are in that _kitanda_. What does Harris and Negoro
want to do with them? Those wretches are evidently going to Kazounde.
Yes, yes, I shall find them again. Ah! in all this misery it is good
news, it is joy that Dingo has brought me!
_From May 11th to 15th_.--The caravan continues its march. The
prisoners drag themselves along more and more painfully. The majority
have marks of blood under their feet. I calculate that it will take
ten days more to reach Kazounde. How many will have ceased to suffer
before then? But I--I must arrive there, I shall arrive there.
It is atrocious! There are, in the convoy, unfortunate ones whose
bodies are only wounds. The cords that bind them enter into the flesh.
Since yesterday a mother carries in her arms her little infant, dead
from hunger. She will not separate from it.
Our route is strewn with dead bodies. The smallpox rages with new
We have just passed near a tree. To this tree slaves were attached by
the neck. They were left there to die of hunger.
_From May 16th to 24th_.--I am almost exhausted, but I have no right
to give up. The rains have entirely ceased. We have days of "hard
marching." That is what the traders call the "tirikesa," or afternoon
march. We must go faster, and the ground rises in rather steep
We pass through high shrubs of a very tough kind. They are the
"nyassi," the branches of which tear the skin off my face, whose sharp
seeds penetrate to my skin, under my dilapidated clothes. My strong
boots have fortunately kept good.
The agents have commenced to abandon the slaves too sick to keep up.
Besides, food threatens to fail; soldiers and _pagazis_ would revolt
if their rations were diminished. They dare not retrench from them,
and then so much worse for the captives.
"Let them eat one another!" said the chief.
Then it follows that young slaves, still strong, die without the
appearance of sickness. I remember what Dr. Livingstone has said on
that subject: "Those unfortunates complain of the heart; they put
their hands there, and they fall. It is positively the heart
that breaks! That is peculiar to free men, reduced to slavery
To-day, twenty captives who could no longer drag themselves along,
have been massacred with axes, by the _havildars_! The Arab chief is
not opposed to massacre. The scene has been frightful!
Poor old Nan has fallen under the knife, in this horrible butchery!
I strike against her corpse in passing! I cannot even give her a
Christian burial! She is first of the "Pilgrim's" survivors whom God
has called back to him. Poor good creature! Poor Nan!
I watch for Dingo every night. It returns no more! Has misfortune
overtaken it or Hercules? No! no! I do not want to believe it! This
silence, which appears so long to me, only proves one thing--it is
that Hercules has nothing new to tell me yet. Besides, he must be
prudent, and on his guard.
* * * * *
ON May 26th, the caravan of slaves arrived at Kazounde. Fifty per
cent. of the prisoners taken in the last raid had fallen on the road.
Meanwhile, the business was still good for the traders; demands were
coming in, and the price of slaves was about to rise in the African
Angola at this period did an immense trade in blacks. The Portuguese
authorities of St. Paul de Loanda, or of Benguela, could not stop it
without difficulty, for the convoys traveled towards the interior
of the African continent. The pens near the coast overflowed with
prisoners, the few slavers that succeeded in eluding the cruisers
along the shore not being sufficient to carry all of them to the
Spanish colonies of America.
Kazounde, situated three hundred miles from the mouth of the Coanza,
is one of the principal "lakonis," one of the most important markets
of the province. On its grand square the "tchitoka" business is
transacted; there, the slaves are exposed and sold. It is from this
point that the caravans radiate toward the region of the great lakes.
Kazounde, like all the large towns of Central Africa, is divided into
two distinct parts. One is the quarter of the Arab, Portuguese or
native traders, and it contains their pens; the other is the residence
of the negro king, some ferocious crowned drunkard, who reigns through
terror, and lives from supplies furnished by the contractors.
At Kazounde, the commercial quarter then belonged to that Jose-Antonio
Alvez, of whom Harris and Negoro had spoken, they being simply agents
in his pay. This contractor's principal establishment was there, he
had a second at Bihe, and a third at Cassange, in Benguela, which
Lieutenant Cameron visited some years later.
Imagine a large central street, on each side groups of houses,
"tembes," with flat roofs, walls of baked earth, and a square court
which served as an enclosure for cattle. At the end of the street was
the vast "tchitoka" surrounded by slave-pens. Above this collection
of buildings rose some enormous banyans, whose branches swayed with
graceful movements. Here and there great palms, with their heads in
the air, drove the dust on the streets like brooms. Twenty birds of
prey watched over the public health. Such is the business quarter of
Near by ran the Louhi, a river whose course, still undetermined, is an
affluent, or at least a sub-affluent, of the Coango, a tributary of
The residence of the King of Kazounde, which borders on the business
quarter, is a confused collection of ill-built hovels, which spread
over the space of a mile square. Of these hovels, some are open,
others are inclosed by a palisade of reeds, or bordered with a hedge
of fig-trees. In one particular enclosure, surrounded by a fence of
papyrus, thirty of these huts served us dwellings for the chief's
slaves, in another group lived his wives, and a "tembe," still larger
and higher, was half hidden in a plantation of cassada. Such was
the residence of the King of Kazounde, a man of fifty--named Moini
Loungga; and already almost deprived of the power of his predecessors.
He had not four thousand of soldiers there, where the principal
Portuguese traders could count twenty thousand, and he could no
longer, as in former times, decree the sacrifice of twenty-five or
thirty slaves a day.
This king was, besides, a prematurely-aged man, exhausted by debauch,
crazed by strong drink, a ferocious maniac, mutilating his subjects,
his officers or his ministers, as the whim seized him, cutting the
nose and ears off some, and the foot or the hand from others. His own
death, not unlooked for, would be received without regret.
A single man in all Kazounde might, perhaps, lose by the death of
Moini Loungga. This was the contractor, Jose-Antonio Alvez, who agreed
very well with the drunkard, whose authority was recognized by the
whole province. If the accession of his first wife, Queen Moini,
should be contested, the States of Moini Loungga might be invaded by
a neighboring competitor, one of the kings of Oukonson. The latter,
being younger and more active, had already seized some villages
belonging to the Kazounde government. He had in his services another
trader, a rival of Alvez Tipo-Tipo, a black Arab of a pure race, whom
Cameron met at N'yangwe.
What was this Alvez, the real sovereign under the reign of an imbruted
negro, whose vices he had developed and served?
Jose-Antonio Alvez, already advanced in years, was not, as one might
suppose, a "msoungou," that is to say, a man of the white race. There
was nothing Portuguese about him but his name, borrowed, no doubt, for
the needs of commerce. He was a real negro, well known among traders,
and called Kenndele. He was born, in fact, at Donndo, or the borders
of the Coanza. He had commenced by being simply the agent of the
slave-brokers, and would have finished as a famous trader, that is to
say, in the skin of an old knave, who called himself the most honest
man in the world.
Cameron met this Alvez in the latter part of 1874, at Kilemmba, the
capital of Kassonngo, chief of Ouroua. He guided Cameron with his
caravan to his own establishment at Bihe, over a route of seven
hundred miles. The convoy of slaves, on arriving at Kazounde, had been
conducted to the large square.
It was the 26th of May. Dick Sand's calculations were then verified.
The journey had lasted thirty-eight days from the departure of the
army encamped on the banks of the Coanza. Five weeks of the most
fearful miseries that human beings could support.
It was noon when the train entered Kazounde. The drums were beaten,
horns were blown in the midst of the detonations of fire-arms. The
soldiers guarding the caravan discharged their guns in the air, and
the men employed by Jose-Antonio Alvez replied with interest. All
these bandits were happy at meeting again, after an absence which had
lasted for four months. They were now going to rest and make up for
lost time in excesses and idleness.
The prisoners then formed a total of two hundred and fifty, the
majority being completely exhausted. After having been driven like
cattle, they were to be shut up in pens, which American farmers would
not have used for pigs. Twelve or fifteen hundred other captives
awaited them, all of whom would be exposed in the market at Kazounde
on the next day but one. These pens were filled up with the slaves
from the caravan. The heavy forks had been taken off them, but they
were still in chains.
The "pagazis" had stopped on the square after having disposed of their
loads of ivory, which the Kazounde dealers would deliver. Then, being
paid with a few yards of calico or other stuff at the highest price,
they would return and join some other caravan.
Old Tom and his companions had been freed from the iron collar which
they had carried for five weeks. Bat and his father embraced each
other, and all shook hands; but no one ventured to speak. What could
they say that would not be an expression of despair. Bat, Acteon and
Austin, all three vigorous, accustomed to hard work, had been able
to resist fatigue; but old Tom, weakened by privations, was nearly
exhausted. A few more days and his corpse would have been left, like
poor Nan's, as food for the beasts of the province.
As soon as they arrived, the four men had been placed in a narrow pen,
and the door had been at once shut upon them. There they had found
some food, and they awaited the trader's visit, with whom, although
quite in vain, they intended to urge the fact that they were
Dick Sand had remained alone on the square, under the special care of
At length he was at Kazounde, where he did not doubt that Mrs. Weldon,
little Jack, and Cousin Benedict had preceded him. He had looked for
them in crossing the various quarters of the town, even in the depths
of the "tembes" that lined the streets, on this "tchitoka" now almost
Mrs. Weldon was not there.
"Have they not brought her here?" he asked himself. "But where could
she be? No; Hercules cannot be mistaken. Then, again, he must have
learned the secret designs of Negoro and Harris; yet they, too--I do
not see them."
Dick Sand felt the most painful anxiety. He could understand that Mrs.
Weldon, retained a prisoner, would be concealed from him. But Harris
and Negoro, particularly the latter, should hasten to see him, now in
their power, if only to enjoy their triumph--to insult him, torture
him, perhaps avenge themselves. From the fact that they were not
there, must he conclude that they had taken another direction, and
that Mrs. Weldon was to be conducted to some other point of Central
Africa? Should the presence of the American and the Portuguese be the
signal for his punishment, Dick Sand impatiently desired it. Harris
and Negoro at Kazounde, was for him the certainty that Mrs. Weldon and
her child were also there.
Dick Sand then told himself that, since the night when Dingo had
brought him Hercules's note, the dog had not been seen. The young man
had prepared an answer at great risks. In it he told Hercules to
think only of Mrs. Weldon, not to lose sight of her, and to keep her
informed as well as possible of what happened; but he had not been
able to send it to its destination. If Dingo had been able to
penetrate the ranks of the caravan once, why did not Hercules let
him try it a second time? Had the faithful animal perished in some
fruitless attempt? Perhaps Hercules was following Mrs. Weldon, as Dick
Sand would have done in his place. Followed by Dingo, he might have
plunged into the depths of the woody plateau of Africa, in the hope of
reaching one of the interior establishments.
What could Dick Sand imagine if, in fact, neither Mrs. Weldon nor her
enemies were there? He had been so sure, perhaps foolishly, of finding
them at Kazounde, that not to see them there at once gave him a
terrible shock. He felt a sensation of despair that he could not
subdue. His life, if it were no longer useful to those whom he loved,
was good for nothing, and he had only to die. But, in thinking in that
manner, Dick Sand mistook his own character. Under the pressure of
these trials, the child became a man, and with him discouragement
could only be an accidental tribute paid to human nature.
A loud concert of trumpet-calls and cries suddenly commenced. Dick
Sand, who had just sunk down in the dust of the "tchitoka," stood up.
Every new incident might put him on the track of those whom he sought.
In despair a moment before, he now no longer despaired.
"Alvez! Alvez!" This name was repeated by a crowd of natives and
soldiers who now invaded the grand square. The man on whom the fate
of so many unfortunate people depended was about to appear. It was
possible that his agents, Harris and Negoro, were with him. Dick Sand
stood upright, his eyes open, his nostrils dilated. The two traitors
would find this lad of fifteen years before them, upright, firm,
looking them in the face. It would not be the captain of the "Pilgrim"
who would tremble before the old ship's cook.
A hammock, a kind of "kitanda" covered by an old patched curtain,
discolored, fringed with rags, appeared at the end of the principal
street. An old negro descended. It was the trader, Jose-Antonio Alvez.
Several attendants accompanied him, making strong demonstrations.
Along with Alvez appeared his friend Coimbra, the son of Major Coimbra
of Bihe, and, according to Lieutenant Cameron, the greatest scamp in
the province. He was a dirty creature, his breast was uncovered, his
eyes were bloodshot, his hair was rough and curly, his face yellow;
he was dressed in a ragged shirt and a straw petticoat. He would have
been called a horrible old man in his tattered straw hat. This Coimbra
was the confidant, the tool of Alvez, an organizer of raids, worthy of
commanding the trader's bandits.
As for the trader, he might have looked a little less sordid than his
attendant. He wore the dress of an old Turk the day after a carnival.
He did not furnish a very high specimen of the factory chiefs who
carry on the trade on a large scale.
To Dick Sand's great disappointment, neither Harris nor Negoro
appeared in the crowd that followed Alvez. Must he, then, renounce all
hope of finding them at Kazounde?
Meanwhile, the chief of the caravan, the Arab, Ibn Hamis, shook hands
with Alvez and Coimbra. He received numerous congratulations. Alvez
made a grimace at the fifty per cent. of slaves failing in the general
count, but, on the whole, the affair was very satisfactory. With
what the trader possessed of human merchandise in his pens, he could
satisfy the demands from the interior, and barter slaves for ivory
teeth and those "hannas" of copper, a kind of St. Andrew's cross, in
which form this metal is carried into the center of Africa.
The overseers were also complimented. As for the porters, the trader
gave orders that their salary should be immediately paid them.
Jose-Antonio Alvez and Coimbra spoke a kind of Portuguese mingled
with a native idiom, which a native of Lisbon would scarcely have
understood. Dick Sand could not hear what these merchants were saying.
Were they talking of him and his companions, so treacherously joined
to the persons in the convoy? The young man could not doubt it, when,
at a gesture from the Arab, Ibn Hamis, an overseer, went toward the
pen where Tom, Austin, Bat and Acteon had been shut up.
Almost immediately the four Americans were led before Alvez.
Dick Sand slowly approached. He wished to lose nothing of this scene.
Alvez's face lit up at the sight of these few well-made blacks, to
whom rest and more abundant food had promptly restored their natural
vigor. He looked with contempt at old Tom, whose age would affect his
value, but the other three would sell high at the next Kazounde sale.
Alvez remembered a few English words which some agents, like the
American, Harris, had taught him, and the old monkey thought he would
ironically welcome his new slaves.
Tom understood the trader's words; he at once advanced, and, showing
his companions, said:
"We are free men--citizens of the United States."
Alvez certainly understood him; he replied with a good-humored
grimace, wagging his head:
"Yes, yes, Americans! Welcome, welcome!"
"Welcome," added Coimbra.
He advanced toward Austin, and like a merchant who examines a sample,
after having felt his chest and his shoulders, he wanted to make him
open his mouth, so as to see his teeth.
But at this moment Signor Coimbra received in his face the worst blow
that a major's son had ever caught.
Alvez's confidant staggered under it.
Several soldiers threw themselves on Austin, who would perhaps pay
dearly for this angry action.
Alvez stopped them by a look. He laughed, indeed, at the misfortune
of his friend, Coimbra, who had lost two of the five or six teeth
remaining to him.
Alvez did not intend to have his merchandise injured. Then, he was of
a gay disposition, and it was a long time since he had laughed so
Meanwhile, he consoled the much discomfited Coimbra, and the latter,
helped to his feet, again took his place near the trader, while
throwing a menacing look at the audacious Austin.
At this moment Dick Sand, driven forward by an overseer, was led
The latter evidently knew all about the young man, whence he came, and
how he had been taken to the camp on the Coanza.
So he said, after having given him an evil glance:
"The little Yankee!"
"Yes, Yankee!" replied Dick Sand. "What do they wish to do with my
companions and me?"
"Yankee! Yankee! Yankee!" repeated Alvez.
Did he not or would he not understand the question put to him?
A second time Dick Sand asked the question regarding his companions
and himself. He then turned to Coimbra, whose features, degraded as
they were by the abuse of alcoholic liquors, he saw were not of native
Coimbra repeated the menacing gesture already made at Austin, and did
During this time Alvez talked rapidly with the Arab, Ibn Hamis, and
evidently of things that concerned Dick Sand and his friends.
No doubt they were to be again separated, and who could tell if
another chance to exchange a few words would ever again be offered
"My friends," said Dick, in a low voice, and as if he were only
speaking to himself, "just a few words! I have received, by Dingo, a
letter from Hercules. He has followed the caravan. Harris and Negoro
took away Mrs. Weldon, Jack, and Mr. Benedict. Where? I know not, if
they are not here at Kazounde. Patience! courage! Be ready at any
moment. God may yet have pity on us!"
"And Nan?" quickly asked old Tom.
"Nan is dead!"
"And the last!" replied Dick Sand, "for we know well----"
At this moment a hand was laid on his shoulder, and he heard these
words, spoken in the amiable voice which he knew only too well:
"Ah, my young friend, if I am not mistaken! Enchanted to see you
Dick Sand turned.
Harris was before him.
"Where is Mrs. Weldon?" cried Dick Sand, walking toward the American.
"Alas!" replied Harris, pretending a pity that he did not feel, "the
poor mother! How could she survive!"
"Dead!" cried Dick Sand. "And her child?"
"The poor baby!" replied Harris, in the same tone, "how could he
outlive such fatigue!"
So, all whom Dick Sand loved were dead!
What passed within him? An irresistible movement of anger, a desire
for vengeance, which he must satisfy at any price!
Dick Sand jumped upon Harris, seized a dagger from the American's
belt, and plunged it into his heart.
"Curse you!" cried Harris, falling.
Harris was dead.
THE GREAT MARKET DAY.
Dick Sand's action had been so rapid that no one could stop him. A few
natives threw themselves upon him, and he would have been murdered had
not Negoro appeared.
At a sign from the Portuguese, the natives drew back, raised Harris's
corpse and carried it away. Alvez and Coimbra demanded Dick Sand's
immediate death, but Negoro said to them in a low voice that they
would lose nothing by waiting. The order was given to take away the
young novice, with a caution not to lose sight of him for a moment.
Dick Sand had seen Negoro for the first time since their departure
from the coast. He knew that this wretch was alone responsible for
the loss of the "Pilgrim." He ought to hate him still more than his
accomplices. And yet, after having struck the American, he scorned to
address a word to Negoro. Harris had said that Mrs. Weldon and her
child had succumbed. Nothing interested him now, not even what they
would do with him. They would send him away. Where? It did not matter.
Dick Sand, heavily chained, was left on the floor of a pen without a
window, a kind of dungeon where the trader, Alvez, shut up the slaves
condemned to death for rebellion or unlawful acts. There he could no
longer have any communication with the exterior; he no longer dreamed
of regretting it. He had avenged those whom he loved, who no longer
lived. Whatever fate awaited him, he was ready for it.
It will be understood that if Negoro had stopped the natives who were
about to punish Harris's murderer, it was only because he wished to
reserve Dick Sand for one of those terrible torments of which the
natives hold the secret. The ship's cook held in his power the captain
of fifteen years. He only wanted Hercules to make his vengeance
Two days afterward, May 28th, the sale began, the great "lakoni,"
during which the traders of the principal factories of the interior
would meet the natives of the neighboring provinces. This market was
not specially for the sale of slaves, but all the products of this
fertile Africa would be gathered there with the producers.
From early morning all was intense animation on the vast "tchitoka" of
Kazounde, and it is difficult to give a proper idea of the scene. It
was a concourse of four or five thousand persons, including Alvez's
slaves, among whom were Tom and his companions. These four men, for
the reason that they belonged to a different race, are all the more
valuable to the brokers in human flesh. Alvez was there, the first
among all. Attended by Coimbra, he offered the slaves in lots. These
the traders from the interior would form into caravans. Among these
traders were certain half-breeds from Oujiji, the principal market
of Lake Tanganyika, and some Arabs, who are far superior to the
half-breeds in this kind of trade.
The natives flocked there in great numbers. There were children, men,
and women, the latter being animated traders, who, as regards a genius
for bargaining, could only be compared to their white sisters.
In the markets of large cities, even on a great day of sale, there is
never much noise or confusion. Among the civilized the need of selling
exceeds the desire to buy. Among these African savages offers are made
with as much eagerness as demands.
The "lakoni" is a festival day for the natives of both sexes, and if
for good reasons they do not put on their best clothes, they at least
wear their handsomest ornaments.
Some wear the hair divided in four parts, covered with cushions, and
in plaits tied like a chignon or arranged in pan-handles on the front
of the head with bunches of red feathers. Others have the hair in bent
horns sticky with red earth and oil, like the red lead used to close
the joints of machines. In these masses of real or false hair is worn
a bristling assemblage of skewers, iron and ivory pins, often even,
among elegant people, a tattooing-knife is stuck in the crisp mass,
each hair of which is put through a "sofi" or glass bead, thus forming
a tapestry of different-colored grains. Such are the edifices most
generally seen on the heads of the men.
The women prefer to divide their hair in little tufts of the size of
a cherry, in wreaths, in twists the ends of which form designs in
relief, and in corkscrews, worn the length of the face. A few, more
simple and perhaps prettier, let their long hair hang down the back,
in the English style, and others wear it cut over the forehead in a
fringe, like the French. Generally they wear on these wigs a greasy
putty, made of red clay or of glossy "ukola," a red substance
extracted from sandal-wood, so that these elegant persons look as if
their heads were dressed with tiles.
It must not be supposed that this luxury of ornamentation is confined
to the hair of the natives. What are ears for if not to pass pins of
precious wood through, also copper rings, charms of plaited maize,
which draw them forward, or little gourds which do for snuff-boxes,
and to such an extent that the distended lobes of these appendages
fall sometimes to the shoulders of their owners?
After all, the African savages have no pockets, and how could they
have any? This gives rise to the necessity of placing where they can
their knives, pipes, and other customary objects. As for the neck,
arms, wrists, legs, and ankles, these various parts of the body are
undoubtedly destined to carry the copper and brass bracelets, the
horns cut off and decorated with bright buttons, the rows of red
pearls, called _same-sames_ or "talakas," and which were very
fashionable. Besides, with these jewels, worn in profusion, the
wealthy people of the place looked like traveling shrines.
Again, if nature gave the natives teeth, was it not that they could
pull out the upper and lower incisors, file them in points, and curve
them in sharp fangs like the fangs of a rattlesnake? If she has placed
nails at the end of the fingers, is it not that they may grow so
immoderately that the use of the hand is rendered almost impossible?
If the skin, black or brown, covers the human frame, is it not so as
to zebra it by "temmbos" or tattooings representing trees, birds,
crescents, full moons, or waving lines, in which Livingstone thought
he could trace the designs of ancient Egypt? This tattooing, done by
fathers, is practised by means of a blue matter introduced into the
incisions, and is "stereotyped" point by point on the bodies of the
children, thus establishing to what tribe or to what family they
belong. The coat-of-arms must be engraved on the breast, when it
cannot be painted on the panel of a carriage.
Such are the native fashions in ornament. In regard to garments
properly so called, they are summed up very easily; for the men,
an apron of antelope leather, reaching to the knees, or perhaps a
petticoat of a straw material of brilliant colors; for the women, a
belt of pearls, supporting at the hips a green petticoat, embroidered
in silk, ornamented with glass beads or coury; sometimes they wear
garments made of "lambba," a straw material, blue, black, and yellow,
which is much prized by the natives of Zanzibar.
These, of course, are the negroes of the best families. The others,
merchants, and slaves, are seldom clothed. The women generally act as
porters, and reach the market with enormous baskets on their back,
which they hold by means of a leathern strap passed over the forehead.
Then, their places being taken, and the merchandise unpacked, they
squat in their empty baskets.
The astonishing fertility of the country causes the choice alimentary
produces to be brought to this "lakoni." There were quantities of the
rice which returns a hundred per cent., of the maize, which, in three
crops in eight months, produces two hundred per cent., the sesamum,
the pepper of Ouroua, stronger than the Cayenne, allspice, tapioca,
sorghum, nutmegs, salt, and palm-oil.
Hundreds of goats were gathered there, hogs, sheep without wool,
evidently of Tartar origin, quantities of poultry and fish. Specimens
of pottery, very gracefully turned, attracted the eyes by their
Various drinks, which the little natives cried about in a squeaking
voice, enticed the unwary, in the form of plantain wine, "pombe," a
liquor in great demand, "malofou," sweet beer, made from the fruit
of the banana-tree and mead, a limpid mixture of honey and water
fermented with malt.
But what made the Kazounde market still more curious was the commerce
in stuffs and ivory.
In the line of stuffs, one might count by thousands of "choukkas"
or armfuls, the "Mericani" unbleached calico, come from Salem, in
Massachusetts, the "kanaki," a blue gingham, thirty-four inches wide,
the "sohari," a stuff in blue and white squares, with a red border,
mixed with small blue stripes. It is cheaper than the "dioulis," a
silk from Surat, with a green, red or yellow ground, which is worth
from seventy to eighty dollars for a remnant of three yards when woven
As for ivory, it was brought from all parts of Central Africa, being
destined for Khartoum, Zanzibar, or Natal. A large number of merchants
are employed solely in this branch of African commerce.
Imagine how many elephants are killed to furnish the five hundred
thousand kilograms of ivory, which are annually exported to European
markets, and principally to the English! The western coast of Africa
alone produces one hundred and forty tons of this precious substance.
The average weight is twenty-eight pounds for a pair of elephant's
tusks, which, in 1874, were valued as high as fifteen hundred francs;
but there are some that weigh one hundred and seventy-five pounds, and
at the Kazounde market, admirers would have found some admirable ones.
They were of an opaque ivory, translucid, soft under the tool, and
with a brown rind, preserving its whiteness and not growing yellow
with time like the ivories of other provinces.
And, now, how are these various business affairs regulated between
buyers and sellers? What is the current coin? As we have said, for the
African traders this money is the slave.
The native pays in glass beads of Venetian manufacture, called
"catchocolos," when they are of a lime white; "bouboulous," when
they are black; "sikounderetches," when they are red. These beads or
pearls, strung in ten rows or "khetes," going twice around the neck,
make the "foundo," which is of great value. The usual measure of the
beads is the "frasilah," which weighs seventy pounds. Livingstone,
Cameron, and Stanley were always careful to be abundantly provided
with this money.
In default of glass beads, the "pice," a Zanzibar piece, worth four
centimes, and the "vroungouas," shells peculiar to the eastern coasts,
are current in the markets of the African continent. As for the
cannibal tribes, they attach a certain value to the teeth of the human
jaw, and at the "lakoni," these chaplets were to be seen on the necks
of natives, who had no doubt eaten their producers; but these teeth
were ceasing to be used as money.
Such, then, was the appearance of the great market. Toward the middle
of the day the gaiety reached a climax; the noise became deafening.
The fury of the neglected venders, and the anger of the overcharged
customers, were beyond description. Thence frequent quarrels, and, as
we know, few guardians of the peace to quell the fray in this howling
Toward the middle of the day, Alvez gave orders to bring the slaves,
whom he wished to sell, to the square. The crowd was thus increased by
two thousand unfortunate beings of all ages, whom the trader had kept
in pens for several months. This "stock" was not in a bad condition.
Long rest and sufficient food had improved these slaves so as to look
to advantage at the "lakoni." As for the last arrivals, they could not
stand any comparison with them, and, after a month in the pens, Alvez
could certainly have sold them with more profit. The demands, however,
from the eastern coast, were so great that he decided to expose and
sell them as they were.
This was a misfortune for Tom and his three companions. The drivers
pushed them into the crowd that invaded the "tchitoka." They were
strongly chained, and their glances told what horror, what fury and
shame overwhelmed them.
"Mr. Dick is not there," Bat said, after some time, during which he
had searched the vast plain with his eyes.
"No," replied Acteon, "they will not put him up for sale."
"He will be killed, if he is not already," added the old black. "As
for us, we have but one hope left, which is, that the same trader will
buy us all. It would be a great consolation not to be separated."
"Ah! to know that you are far away from me, working like a slave, my
poor, old father!" cried Bat, sobbing aloud.
"No," said Tom. "No; they will not separate us, and perhaps we
"If Hercules were here!" cried Austin.
But the giant had not reappeared. Since the news sent to Dick Sand,
they had heard no one mention either Hercules or Dingo. Should they
envy him his fate? Why, yes; for if Hercules were dead, he was saved
from the chains of slavery!
Meanwhile, the sale had commenced. Alvez's agents marched the various
lots of men, women and children through the crowd, without caring
if they separated mothers from their infants. May we not call these
beings "unfortunates," who were treated only as domestic animals?
Tom and his companions were thus led from buyers to buyers. An agent
walked before them naming the price adjudged to their lot. Arab or
mongrel brokers, from the central provinces, came to examine them.
They did not discover in them the traits peculiar to the African race,
these traits being modified in America after the second generation.
But these vigorous and intelligent negroes, so very different from the
blacks brought from the banks of the Zambeze or the Loualaba, were all
the more valuable. They felt them, turned them, and looked at their
teeth. Horse-dealers thus examine the animals they wish to buy. Then
they threw a stick to a distance, made them run and pick it up, and
thus observed their gait.
This was the method employed for all, and all were submitted to these
humiliating trials. Do not believe that these people are completely
indifferent to this treatment! No, excepting the children, who cannot
comprehend the state of degradation to which they are reduced, all,
men or women, were ashamed.
Besides, they were not spared injuries and blows. Coimbra, half drunk,
and Alvez's agents, treated them with extreme brutality, and from
their new masters, who had just paid for them in ivory stuffs and
beads, they would receive no better treatment. Violently separated,
a mother from her child, a husband from his wife, a brother from a
sister, they were not allowed a last caress nor a last kiss, and on
the "lakoni" they saw each other for the last time.
In fact, the demands of the trade exacted that the slaves should be
sent in different directions, according to their sex. The traders who
buy the men do not buy women. The latter, in virtue of polygamy, which
is legal among the Mussulmans, are sent to the Arabic countries, where
they are exchanged for ivory. The men, being destined to the hardest
labor, go to the factories of the two coasts, and are exported either
to the Spanish colonies or to the markets of Muscat and Madagascar.
This sorting leads to heart-breaking scenes between those whom the
agents separate, and who will die without ever seeing each other
The four companions in turn submitted to the common fate. But, to tell
the truth, they did not fear this event. It was better for them to
be exported into a slave colony. There, at least, they might have a
chance to protest. On the contrary, if sent to the interior, they
might renounce all hope of ever regaining their liberty.
It happened as they wished. They even had the almost unhoped for
consolation of not being separated. They were in brisk demand, being
wanted by several traders. Alvez clapped his hands. The prices rose.
It was strange to see these slaves of unknown value in the Kazounde
market, and Alvez had taken good care to conceal where they came from.
Tom and his friends, not speaking the language of the country, could
Their master was a rich Arab trader, who in a few days would send them
to Lake Tanganyika, the great thoroughfare for slaves; then, from that
point, toward the factories of Zanzibar.
Would they ever reach there, through the most unhealthy and the most
dangerous countries of Central Africa? Fifteen hundred miles to march
under these conditions, in the midst of frequent wars, raised and
carried on between chiefs, in a murderous climate. Was old Tom strong
enough to support such misery? Would he not fall on the road like old
Nan? But the poor men were not separated. The chain that held them all
was lighter to carry. The Arab trader would evidently take care of
merchandise which promised him a large profit in the Zanzibar market.
Tom, Bat, Acteon, and Austin then left the place. They saw and heard
nothing of the scene which was to end the great "lakoni" of Kazounde.
THE KING OF KAZOUNDE IS OFFERED A PUNCH.
It was four o'clock in the afternoon when a loud noise of drums,
cymbals, and other instruments of African origin resounded at the
end of the principal street. In all corners of the market-place the
animation was redoubled. Half a day of cries and wrestling had neither
weakened the voices nor broken the limbs of these abominable traders.
A large number of slaves still remained to be sold. The traders
disputed over the lots with an ardor of which the London Exchange
would give but an imperfect idea, even on a day when stocks were
All business was stopped, and the criers took their breath as soon as
the discordant concert commenced.
The King of Kazounde, Moini Loungga, had come to honor the great
"lakoni" with a visit. A numerous train of women, officers, soldiers
and slaves followed him. Alvez and some other traders went to meet
him, and naturally exaggerated the attention which this crowned brute
Moini Loungga was carried in an old palanquin, and descended, not
without the aid of a dozen arms, in the center of the large square.
This king was fifty years old, but he looked eighty. Imagine a
frightful monkey who had reached extreme old age; on his head a sort
of crown, ornamented with leopard's claws, dyed red, and enlarged
by tufts of whitish hair; this was the crown of the sovereigns
of Kazounde. From his waist hung two petticoats made of leather,
embroidered with pearls, and harder than a blacksmith's apron. He
had on his breast a quantity of tattooing which bore witness to the
ancient nobility of the king; and, to believe him, the genealogy of
Moini Loungga was lost in the night of time. On the ankles, wrists and
arms of his majesty, bracelets of leather were rolled, and he wore a
pair of domestic shoes with yellow tops, which Alvez had presented him
with about twenty years before.
His majesty carried in his left hand a large stick with a plated knob,
and in his right a small broom to drive away flies, the handle of
which was enriched with pearls.
Over his head was carried one of those old patched umbrellas, which
seemed to have been cut out of a harlequin's dress.
On the monarch's neck and on his nose were the magnifying glass and
the spectacles which had caused Cousin Benedict so much trouble. They
had been hidden in Bat's pocket.
Such is the portrait of his negro majesty, who made the country
tremble in a circumference of a hundred miles.
Moini Loungga, from the fact of occupying a throne, pretended to be
of celestial origin, and had any of his subjects doubted the fact, he
would have sent them into another world to discover it. He said that,
being of a divine essence, he was not subject to terrestrial laws. If
he ate, it was because he wished to do so; if he drank, it was because
it gave him pleasure. It was impossible for him to drink any more. His
ministers and his officers, all incurable drunkards, would have passed
before him for sober men.
The court was alcoholized to the last chief, and incessantly imbibed
strong beer, cider, and, above all, a certain drink which Alvez
furnished in profusion.
Moini Loungga counted in his harem wives of all ages and of all kinds.
The larger part of them accompanied him in this visit to the "lakoni."
Moini, the first, according to date, was a vixen of forty years, of
royal blood, like her colleagues. She wore a bright tartan, a straw
petticoat embroidered with pearls, and necklaces wherever she could
put them. Her hair was dressed so as to make an enormous framework on
her little head. She was, in fact, a monster.
The other wives, who were either the cousins or the sisters of the
king, were less richly dressed, but much younger. They walked behind
her, ready to fulfil, at a sign from their master, their duties as
human furniture. These unfortunate beings were really nothing else. If
the king wished to sit down, two of these women bent toward the earth
and served him for a chair, while his feet rested on the bodies of
some others, as if on an ebony carpet.
In Moini Loungga's suite came his officers, his captains, and his
A remarkable thing about these savages, who staggered like their
master, was that each lacked a part of his body--one an ear, another
an eye, this one the nose, that one the hand. Not one was whole.
That is because they apply only two kinds of punishment in
Kazounde--mutilation or death--all at the caprice of the king. For the
least fault, some amputation, and the most cruelly punished are those
whose ears are cut off, because they can no longer wear rings in their
The captains of the _kilolos_, governors of districts, hereditary or
named for four years, wore hats of zebra skin and red vests for their
whole uniform. Their hands brandished long palm canes, steeped at one
end with charmed drugs.
As to the soldiers, they had for offensive and defensive weapons,
bows, of which the wood, twined with the cord, was ornamented with
fringes; knives, whetted with a serpent's tongue; broad and long
lances; shields of palm wood, decorated in arabesque style. For what
there was of uniform, properly so called, it cost his majesty's
treasury absolutely nothing.
Finally, the kind's cortege comprised, in the last place, the court
magicians and the instrumentalists.
The sorcerers, the "mganngas," are the doctors of the country.
These savages attach an absolute faith to divinatory services, to
incantations, to the fetiches, clay figures stained with white and
red, representing fantastic animals or figures of men and women
cut out of whole wood. For the rest, those magicians were not less
mutilated than the other courtiers, and doubtless the monarch paid
them in this way for the cures that did not succeed.
The instrumentalists, men or women, made sharp rattles whizz, noisy
drums sound or shudder under small sticks terminated by a caoutchouc
ball, "marimehas," kinds of dulcimers formed of two rows of gourds of
various dimensions--the whole very deafening for any one who does not
possess a pair of African ears.
Above this crowd, which composed the royal cortege, waved some flags
and standards, then at the ends of spears the bleached skulls of the
rival chiefs whom Moini Loungga had vanquished.
When the king had quitted his palanquin, acclamations burst forth from
all sides. The soldiers of the caravan discharged their old guns, the
low detonations of which were but little louder than the vociferations
of the crowd. The overseers, after rubbing their black noses with
cinnabar powder, which they carried in a sack, bowed to the ground.
Then Alvez, advancing in his turn, handed the king a supply of fresh
tobacco--"soothing herb," as they call it in the country. Moini
Loungga had great need of being soothed, for he was, they did not know
why, in a very bad humor.
At the same time Alvez, Coimbra, Ibn Hamis, and the Arab traders,
or mongrels, came to pay their court to the powerful sovereign of
Kazounde. "Marhaba," said the Arabs, which is their word of welcome in
the language of Central Africa. Others clapped their hands and bowed
to the ground. Some daubed themselves with mud, and gave signs of the
greatest servility to this hideous majesty.
Moini Loungga hardly looked at all these people, and walked, keeping
his limbs apart, as if the ground were rolling and pitching. He walked
in this manner, or rather he rolled in the midst of waves of slaves,
and if the traders feared that he might take a notion to apportion
some of the prisoners to himself, the latter would no less dread
falling into the power of such a brute.
Negoro had not left Alvez for a moment, and in his company presented
his homage to the king. Both conversed in the native language, if,
however, that word "converse" can be used of a conversation in which
Moini Loungga only took part by monosyllables that hardly found a
passage through his drunken lips. And still, did he not ask his
friend, Alvez, to renew his supply of brandy just exhausted by large
"King Loungga is welcome to the market of Kazounde," said the trader.
"I am thirsty," replied the monarch.
"He will take his part in the business of the great 'lakoni,'" added
"Drink!" replied Moini Loungga.
"My friend Negoro is happy to see the King of Kazounde again, after
such a long absence."
"Drink!" repeated the drunkard, whose whole person gave forth a
disgusting odor of alcohol.
"Well, some 'pombe'! some mead!" exclaimed Jose-Antonio Alvez, like a
man who well knew what Moini Loungga wanted.
"No, no!" replied the king; "my friend Alvez's brandy, and for each
drop of his fire-water I shall give him----"
"A drop of blood from a white man!" exclaimed Negoro, after making a
sign to Alvez, which the latter understood and approved.
"A white man! Put a white man to death!" repeated Moini Loungga, whose
ferocious instincts were aroused by the Portuguese's proposition.
"One of Alvez's agents has been killed by this white man," returned
"Yes, my agent, Harris," replied the trader, "and his death must be
"Send that white man to King Massongo, on the Upper Zaire, among the
Assonas. They will cut him in pieces. They will eat him alive. They
have not forgotten the taste of human flesh!" exclaimed Moini Loungga.
He was, in fact, the king of a tribe of man-eaters, that Massongo.
It is only too true that in certain provinces of Central Africa
cannibalism is still openly practised. Livingstone states it in his
"Notes of Travel." On the borders of the Loualaba the Manyemas not
only eat the men killed in the wars, but they buy slaves to devour
them, saying that "human flesh is easily salted, and needs little
seasoning." Those cannibals Cameron has found again among the
Moene-Bongga, where they only feast on dead bodies after steeping them
for several days in a running stream. Stanley has also encountered
those customs of cannibalism among the inhabitants of the Oukonson.
Cannibalism is evidently well spread among the tribes of the center.
But, cruel as was the kind of death proposed by the king for Dick
Sand, it did not suit Negoro, who did not care to give up his victim.
"It was here," said he, "that the white man killed our comrade
"It is here that he ought to die!" added Alvez.
"Where you please, Alvez," replied Moini Loungga; "but a drop of
fire-water for a drop of blood!"
"Yes," replied the trader, "fire-water, and you will see that it well
merits that name! We shall make it blaze, this water! Jose-Antonio
Alvez will offer a punch to the King Moini Loungga."
The drunkard shook his friend Alvez's hands. He could not contain his
joy. His wives, his courtiers shared his ecstasy. They had never seen
brandy blaze, and doubtless they counted on drinking it all blazing.
Then, after the thirst for alcohol, the thirst for blood, so imperious
among these savages, would be satisfied also.
Poor Dick Sand! What a horrible punishment awaited him. When we think
of the terrible or grotesque effects of intoxication in civilized
countries, we understand how far it can urge barbarous beings.
We will readily believe that the thought of torturing a white could
displease none of the natives, neither Jose-Antonio Alvez, a negro
like themselves, nor Coimbra, a mongrel of black blood, nor Negoro
either, animated with a ferocious hatred against the whites.
The evening had come, an evening without twilight, that was going to
make day change tonight almost at once, a propitious hour for the
blazing of the brandy.
It was truly a triumphant idea of Alvez's, to offer a punch to this
negro majesty, and to make him love brandy under a new form. Moini
Loungga began to find that fire-water did not sufficiently justify its
name. Perhaps, blazing and burning, it would tickle more agreeably the
blunted papillas of his tongue.
The evening's program then comprised a punch first, a punishment
Dick Sand, closely shut up in his dark prison, would only come out to
go to his death. The other slaves, sold or not, had been put back in
the barracks. There only remained at the "tchitoka," the traders, the
overseers and the soldiers ready to take their part of the punch, if
the king and his court allowed them.
Jose-Antonio Alvez, advised by Negoro, did the thing well. They
brought a vast copper basin, capable of containing at least two
hundred pints, which was placed in the middle of the great place.
Barrels holding alcohol of inferior quality, but well refined, were
emptied into the basin. They spared neither the cinnamon, nor the
allspice, nor any of the ingredients that might improve this punch for
All had made a circle around the king. Moini Loungga advanced
staggering to the basin. One would say that this vat of brandy
fascinated him, and that he was going to throw himself into it.
Alvez generously held him back and put a lighted match into his hand.
"Fire!" cried he with a cunning grimace of satisfaction.
"Fire!" replied Moini Loungga lashing the liquid with the end of the
What a flare and what an effect, when the bluish flames played on the
surface of the basin. Alvez, doubtless to render that alcohol
still sharper, had mingled with it a few handfuls of sea salt. The
assistants' faces were then given that spectral lividness that the
imagination ascribes to phantoms.
Those negroes, drunk in advance, began to cry out, to gesticulate,
and, taking each other by the hand, formed an immense circle around
the King of Kazounde.
Alvez, furnished with an enormous metal spoon, stirred the liquid,
which threw a great white glare over those delirious monkeys.
Moini Loungga advanced. He seized the spoon from the trader's hands,
plunged it into the basin, then, drawing it out full of punch in
flames, he brought it to his lips.
What a cry the King of Kazounde then gave!
An act of spontaneous combustion had just taken place. The king had
taken fire like a petroleum bonbon. This fire developed little heat,
but it devoured none the less.
At this spectacle the natives' dance was suddenly stopped.
One of Moini Loungga's ministers threw himself on his sovereign to
extinguish him; but, not less alcoholized than his master, he took
fire in his turn.
In this way, Moini Loungga's whole court was in peril of burning up.
Alvez and Negoro did not know how to help his majesty. The women,
frightened, had taken flight. As to Coimbra, he took his departure
rapidly, well knowing his inflammable nature.
The king and the minister, who had fallen on the ground, were burning
up, a prey to frightful sufferings.
In bodies so thoroughly alcoholized, combustion only produces a light
and bluish flame, that water cannot extinguish. Even stifled outside,
it would still continue to burn inwardly. When liquor has penetrated
all the tissues, there exists no means of arresting the combustion.
A few minutes after, Moini Loungga and his minister had succumbed, but
they still burned. Soon, in the place where they had fallen, there was
nothing left but a few light coals, one or two pieces of the vertebral
column, fingers, toes, that the fire does not consume, in cases of
spontaneous combustion, but which it covers with an infectious and
It was all that was left of the King of Kazounde and of his
A ROYAL BURIAL.
The next day, May 29th, the city of Kazounde presented a strange
aspect. The natives, terrified, kept themselves shut up in their huts.
They had never seen a king, who said he was of divine essence, nor a
simple minister, die of this horrible death. They had already burned
some of their fellow-beings, and the oldest could not forget certain
culinary preparations relating to cannibalism.
They knew then how the incineration of a human body takes place with
difficulty, and behold their king and his minister had burnt all
alone! That seemed to them, and indeed ought to seem to them,
Jose-Antonio Alvez kept still in his house. He might fear that he
would be held responsible for the accident. Negoro had informed him of
what had passed, warning him to take care of himself. To charge him
with Moini Loungga's death might be a bad affair, from which he might
not be able to extricate himself without damage.
But Negoro had a good idea. By his means Alvez spread the report that
the death of Kazounde's sovereign was supernatural; that the great
Manitou only reserved it for his elect. The natives, so inclined to
superstition, accepted this lie. The fire that came out of the bodies
of the king and his minister became a sacred fire. They had nothing to
do but honor Moini Loungga by obsequies worthy of a man elevated to
the rank of the gods.
These obsequies, with all the ceremonial connected with them among the
African tribes, was an occasion offered to Negoro to make Dick Sand
play a part. What this death of Moini Loungga was going to cost in
blood, would be believed with difficulty, if the Central Africa
travelers, Lieutenant Cameron among others, had not related facts that
cannot be doubted.
The King of Kazounde's natural heir was the Queen Moini. In proceeding
without delay with the funeral ceremonies she acted with sovereign
authority, and could thus distance the competitors, among others
that King of the Oukonson, who tended to encroach upon the rights of
Kazounde's sovereigns. Besides, Moini, even by becoming queen, avoided
the cruel fate reserved for the other wives of the deceased; at the
same time she would get rid of the youngest ones, of whom she, first
in date, had necessarily to complain. This result would particularly
suit the ferocious temperament of that vixen. So she had it announced,
with deer's horns and other instruments, that the obsequies of the
defunct king would take place the next evening with all the usual
No protestation was made, neither at court nor from the natives. Alvez
and the other traders had nothing to fear from the accession of this
Queen Moini. With a few presents, a few flattering remarks, they would
easily subject her to their influence. Thus the royal heritage was
transmitted without difficulty. There was terror only in the harem,
and not without reason.
The preparatory labors for the funeral were commenced the same day. At
the end of the principal street of Kazounde flowed a deep and rapid
stream, an affluent of the Coango. The question was to turn this
stream aside, so as to leave its bed dry. It was in that bed that the
royal grave must be dug. After the burial the stream would be restored
to its natural channel.
The natives were busily employed in constructing a dam, that forced
the stream to make a provisional bed across the plain of Kazounde.
At the last tableau of this funeral ceremony the barricade would be
broken, and the torrent would take its old bed again.
Negoro intended Dick Sand to complete the number of victims sacrificed
on the king's tomb. He had been a witness of the young novice's
irresistible movement of anger, when Harris had acquainted him with
the death of Mrs. Weldon and little Jack.
Negoro, cowardly rascal, had not exposed himself to the same fate as
his accomplice. But now, before a prisoner firmly fastened by the feet
and hands, he supposed he had nothing to fear, and resolved to pay
him a visit. Negoro was one of those miserable wretches who are not
satisfied with torturing their victims; they must also enjoy their
Toward the middle of the day, then, he repaired to the barrack where
Dick Sand was guarded, in sight of an overseer. There, closely bound,
was lying the young novice, almost entirely deprived of food for
twenty-four hours, weakened by past misery, tortured by those bands
that entered into his flesh; hardly able to turn himself, he was
waiting for death, no matter how cruel it might be, as a limit to so
However, at the sight of Negoro he shuddered from head to foot. He
made an instinctive effort to break the bands that prevented him from
throwing himself on that miserable man and having revenge.
But Hercules himself would not succeed in breaking them. He understood
that it was another kind of contest that was going to take place
between the two, and arming himself with calmness, Dick Sand compelled
himself to look Negoro right in the face, and decided not to honor him
with a reply, no matter what he might say.
"I believed it to be my duty," Negoro said to him it first, "to come
to salute my young captain for the last time, and to let him know how
I regret, for his sake, that he does not command here any longer, as
he commanded on board the 'Pilgrim.'"
And, seeing that Dick Sand did not reply:
"What, captain, do you no longer recognize your old cook? He comes,
however, to take your orders, and to ask you what he ought to serve
for your breakfast."
At the same time Negoro brutally kicked the young novice, who was
lying on the ground.
"Besides," added he, "I should have another question to address to
you, my young captain. Could you yet explain to me, how, wishing to
land on the American coast, you have ended by arriving in Angola,
where you are?"
Certainly, Dick Sand had no more need of the Portuguese's words to
understand what he had truly divined, when he knew at last that the
"Pilgrim's" compass must have been made false by this traitor.
But Negoro's question was an avowal. Still he only replied by a
"You will acknowledge, captain," continued Kegoro, "that it was
fortunate for you that there was a seaman on board--a real one, at
that. Great God, where would we be without him? Instead of perishing
on some breaker, where the tempest would have thrown you, you have
arrived, thanks to him, in a friendly port, and if it is to any one
that you owe being at last in a safe place, it is to that seaman whom
you have wronged in despising, my young master!"
Speaking thus, Negoro, whose apparent calmness was only the result
of an immense effort, had brought his form near Dick Sand. His face,
suddenly become ferocious, touched him so closely that one would
believe that he was going to devour him. This rascal could no longer
contain his fury.
"Every dog has his day!" he exclaimed, in the paroxysm of fury excited
in him by his victim's calmness. "To-day I am captain, I am master!
Your life is in my hands!"
"Take it," Sand replied, without emotion. "But, know there is in
heaven a God, avenger of all crimes, and your punishment is not
"If God occupies himself with human beings, there is only time for Him
to take care of you!"
"I am ready to appear before the Supreme Judge," replied Dick Sand,
coldly, "and death will not make me afraid."