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FROM THE BUSH.
LOOKING back, it appears to completed the picture. So me to be little short of amazing much we realised at a glance why it should have taken us -the socks we were to see nearly three years to discover later ! that in our cook-boy Jim we Removing his boots at the had a truly unique character. edge of our clearing, he doffed
Jim was a Chesena boy, and his bonnet, and approaching hailed from the district sur- the place where we satm rounding the Sena Sugar “What will the Bwanas want Estates on the Zambesi River. for dinner ?” he asked in fearHe first swam into our ken ful English. “I am the new when we were shooting along cook !” the Zanque River. Our camp R. and I were so taken aback was pitched near the bush that for a moment speech trail, and one evening, as we failed us. R. looked at me were sitting outside our tent, and I looked at him, and à most gorgeous apparition then we laughed. As a matter appeared in the offing. It of fact, we did want a new was a boy, but a boy wearing cook, and, to cut a long story such a quantity of clothing short, we took the boy on : as to make of him a being Ri's observation, “ We've either quite apart. He wore a pair got a perfect jewel or a d-n of long white trousers, and fool,” summing up our ideas over these again a pair of upon the subject. khaki shorts. Of shirts he He turned out to be quite had three, worn one over the a good cook, and when a other, and as each was of a week or two later we decided different colour and length, to trek right through to they were all on view at the Nairobi—a journey of some same time. He had a white two thousand miles—he at once coat visible at the front, but a decided to come through with tweed shooting coat was worn us. It was then that we really over the top of it. A High- found him useful, for in a lander's tam-oʻ-shanter-a relic few days we were beyond of the war,—with a magnificent our linguistio boundary, and bunch of marabout feathers floundering in a sea of unstuck in the side of it, served known dialects. Through these him for headgear, while a pair shoals we were safely piloted of ancient ammunition boots by our new cook, and it seemed to us that he know light in his form ! To hear every dialect of the country. him, propped by the cookNaturally he, from being our house door, rendering the really sole means of communication beautiful hymns of the Church with the outside world, a0- to the jargon of “Doh-me-sohquired a unique position in me," all in a very high falsetto our party, and it was in- voice, was an education in evitable that he should be itself. more of the confidential assis- I remember receiving a letter tant and less of the cook-boy written in English from a as time went on.
Mission boy in Rhodesia, who Some 800 miles north of the was applying for a job as a Zanque River we found the personal boy. He gave as his Rovuma River, and for several qualifications for the vacancy reasons — though mainly be- that he had always been told cause we liked the look of it by his master at school “ to -we decided to make an ex- go quick with all letters and tended stay there. It is true not play on road," and that that about this time we did he had passed Standard IV. begin to realise that a lot of in tonic sol-fa. The latter acchicanery was being practised complishment lost him the job! behind our backs. We had an But I digress. idea that Jim was not trans- About his people Jim was lating our orders correctly to always reticent. Some days the boys, and that, when acting he told us one thing, and as our interpreter in cases of some days another. To the trouble amongst our own people, other boys this was very sushe was distorting our judg- picious, though, of course, it ments. Anyone who has had conveyed nothing to
us at the misfortune to be in a that time. I afterwards learned strange country and unable that a very ugly word was to speak the language will at used in referring to him—but once appreciate the enormous always behind his back. difficulties of the situation. We To us, then, came Jim one took the easiest line, and let morning with the request to the matter slide for the time be married. It appeared that being, though we applied our- the daughter of a near-by selves assiduously to learning Sultan had captured his wanthe Swahili tongue.
dering fancy, and he wanted Long before this we had dis- to be married at once. R., covered that Jim was a Chris- who had R.C. leanings, refused tian. I never discovered ex- to have anything to do with actly to which Mission he owed the matter, and I was perhis training, but if a chronio fectly indifferent. I did, howaddiction to the tonio sol-fa ever, ask him if he had the stands for anything, he must Sultan's permission, and he certainly have been a shining said “Yes ! ” We sent for
the Sultan to make quite sure, R. ran to look at the rifleand that worthy, being inter- rack, and found an old 8mm preted by Jim, said that his rifle missing. Together we daughter was really married dashed up the trail to the already, but that as her hus- village, and arriving there, found band had gone away over two Master Jim standing outside years ago and had not paid the Sultan's house terrorising for her, he, the Sultan, had a group of natives with our dissolved the marriage, and rifle. He was shouting and Jim could now have her. He gesticulating and crying as assured me that this was all though he were mad-and mad in order according to native he actually was, for we had ideas, and so the marriage quite a job to get the rifle took place. Jim came
up away from him. R. thrashed with his prayer - book and him soundly and ordered him wanted me to marry them back to the camp, and as soon “Christo," as he put it, but I as we got back we interviewed jibbed at that! We did, how- him again. ever, provide a wildebeeste for He was obviously half mad the marriage feast, and paid with rage, though he apolofor the native beer without gised profusely for taking the which no marriage ceremony, rifle. He told us that the and its attendant dance, can former husband had turned up be considered complete. The that afternoon, and had stolen dance lasted for three days Alleni and taken her to his and three nights, and had we house, four days' journey to not had a second cook-in the south. He asked for eight the shape of an extraordinary days' leave to go and fetch boy named (by us) Tom-we her back, and, feeling sorry should have fared badly, for for him, we at length agreed. Jim, I regret to say, spent the We admired his pluck as, taking three days in a most perfect only his big spear, he set off “blind,” in which state he into the darkness; for the was only equalled by his new village he mentioned we knew wife and the Sultan !
to be absolutely isolated, and It was a tragedy when he to reach it he would have to came rushing into our house sleep four nights in the bush one evening, a week later, to alone. say that Alleni, his wife, was Nine days passed without missing. We soothed him down any news, and on the morning as well as we could, and gave of the tenth he staggered into him leave to go and interview camp.
was absolutely the Sultan immediately. Offmazed from exhaustion and he went, and before half an hunger, and beyond the fact hour had passed we
were that he had not got the girl startled by the sound of a back, it was impossible to shot coming from the village. glean any information whatsoever. He managed to drink the personal presents he had some soup we had made for received from Jim on the occahim and then went to his hut, sion of the marriage. Aland for thirty-six hours we though a lot of the talk was saw nothing more of him. At over our heads, owing to our the end of that time he emerged, still feeble knowledge of the and after an enormous meal, language, we both agreed that came across to tell his story. the Sultan know more of the
It appeared that he had abduction than he would admit, made the village in record and we came to the conclusion time, but only to find that that the original husband had the man he wanted had not turned up again, and by paying been at home for over a month. money over to the Sultan had It was obvious, therefore, that obtained his permission to steal he had not taken Alleni back the girl. R. also held that to his own village. Jim was the girl had gone willingly, now at a standstill, but the since we had heard no disnext morning the headman had turbance ; and, taking everyclinched the matter by driving thing into consideration, we Jim from the village. He had agreed that it was too inno food, and the villagers volved a case for us to move would give him none, so he in with any advantage. was compelled to take the back By this time, amongst other trail again, and trust to luck things, we had acquired a con. to find food in the bush. He siderable local reputation as had lived on wild honey and “ doctors." The most obsti“masuku "-a species of wild nate cases of ophthalmia had plum; and if the camp had yielded to our simple treatbeen another day's journey ment of boracic acid douches, farther away I very much and the blind were, literally, doubt if he would have made seeing !. With a disease known it at all.
(a kind of Frontier It was after this episode sore) we had great success in that we first noticed a differ
carbolic treatment," and ence between Jim and the almost daily we had a hefty ordinary barn - door native. parade of the blind and the There was no doubt that Jim lame. In course of time our really did grieve over Alleni. reputation ceased to be a merely Hardly a day passed without local one, and before we realised his begging us to go down it, we were getting patients personally to the other village from over a week's journey and get her back for him. away. The sick parade grew As a matter of fact, I did beyond our capacity to handle, interview the Sultan, and I and Jim was called into the made him pay back to Jim profession as dresser-in-chief. the money he had received It was at this time that he for his daughter, and also began to use, for his second
name, the word Mganga, mean- dog against a somewhat autoing "medicine-man.” It was cratic form of discipline. really our own fault, because, It is necessary now to follow in our ignorance of native R. on his safari. credulity, we used facetiously Arriving at the village, which to refer to Jim-in the patient's we will call “ A,” R. interhearing—as“ Jim Mganga." To viewed the first husband of us it was merely a joke ; what the girl Alleni, who strongly it meant to the remainder of denied stealing her from our our staff will be seen later on. camp. Nothing could shake
Jim continued to enjoy our him upon that point, and as confidence in every way. He the girl was not in the village, was a good worker, and, as or at least could not be found, far as we knew, absolutely there was nothing further to loyal; while over the rest of be done. Jim was furious, the outfit he held a wonderful and but for Ri's presence, control, so much so, in fact, there would have been bloodthat we increased his wages ! shed. In the end R. said he
It was only natural, then, would put the whole case before that when R. went off on a the Portuguese governor. The long safari to the Fort he governor's village was on the should take Jim with him as route of the safari, and arriving chief of staff. It was perhaps there two days later, the whole four months or so since the case was submitted to his disappearance of Alleni, Jim's judgment. wife, but as soon as the latter There is no doubt, of course, heard of the projected safari that the judgment of Senor X. he got R. to promise that he was greatly influenced by the would go to the village, en presence of my partner R., route, and try and get Alleni who, from what he told me, back for him.
took a particularly strong line Well, in due course the safari with him. At any rate, in pulled out of the camp, and I the event, two native policewas left alone, except for a few men were sent out to the boys, in the silence of the bush, village of A, with orders to and was destined to see nothing bring in both the man and the further of my partner for over girl. three and a half months.
Chafing at the delay to the During this time I heard, safari, R. waited impatiently for I was now fairly proficient for four days, at the end of in Swahili, several grouses which time the police returned against the absent Jim. They with the culprits. Alleni was were indefinite grouses--I mean taken before the governor, who, I could not get to the root of needless to add, could not any one of thom—and I judged speak a word of any language them, one and all, to be the save his own Portuguese, and natural grousings of the under- asked with whom she wanted