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LOUD SING CUCKOO !
In the Hinterland of the So great had been the hurry Gold Coast, in the later nine- when the Governor's plan was ties, there was a large piece of put into execution that the country some 250 miles from Officer despatched had had but the sea, claimed by both British a couple of hours' warning. and Germans, and known as His preparations had not been the Neutral Zone. Boundaries insufficient, they had been pracwere undefined, and the claims tically nil. Receiving his orders of both nations rested on dim at three o'clock, he had started treaties, made by scurrying at five, with eight carriers, his agents with the Kings, who cook, and his body boy. These had quite likely never set eyes with himself and his soldiers on a white skin, and who to comprised his party, which was save trouble o touched pen
to travel night and day, post with any one who came along haste, cover 200 miles, and once and had anything to give. established remain an indefinite
Not that the other parties to time. The soldiers were accusthese treaties relied much on tomed to going through the their validity, but they trusted country and living on it; the that they would be evidence on carriers would never starve and which to ground claims when could always find their way the partition of the country back; but when after he had took place.
start he halted to With the fall of the Ashanti arrange the march, the Officer power,
occupation of surveyed his personal estabKumassi, and the deportation lishment with some misgivings. of King Prempeh, the Gold Long Quashie, his cook, so Coast Hinterland began to be called from his altitude of six developed, and then cropped feet four, was a thin soft negro up at once the question of the with a vacant foolish face Neutral Zone. Both countries wearing a perpetual smile. He claimed it, both wrangled over
was afflicted ith a stiff kneeit, till the Governor of the cap, which made his master Gold Coast, taking the bull by wonder how long it would be the horns, despatched a small before he broke down, which party of Hausas under a white induced further speculation as officer, to travel day and night to what would become of him through the forests and the when he did. He combined open plains beyond; to "jump" the duties of cook and steward the “Neutral Zone,” and fix indifferently well, for he cried the first British post in those at the least reproof. regions at Salagha, a sacred Per contra, “Small Henry," city of the Mahommedans the body servant, was a little which lay on the left bank of black boy ten years of age, the great Volta river.
short in stature, very black in
skin, and of an arrogance and he heard a gentle sobbing, and impudence approaching the saw the long cook dissolved in sublime. The Officer felt but tears over the misfortune of his little compunction in taking small friend. Henry howled, him. Whatever misfortunes or Quashie sobbed, and the tiny hardships might befall them, column marched away, till as he realised they would be, so the was sinking they far as Henry was concerned, reached a ruined village, and absolutely for his good. Neither the Officer called a halt. The Quashie nor Henry made any men ate their rations, and the difficulty as to accompanying Officer ate his, but of the eight him. The cook was imbued carriers only six arrived; the with & melancholy affection other two appeared no more: toward his master, and a tired unable or unwilling to keep feeling compelled him to accept up the pace, they had thrown the condition of life in which their loads away and gone he happened to be. Small home. Henry boasted a dashing spirit The load of a Gold Coast of adventure, which promised carrier is anything up to 60 lb. to furnish incidents of inter- in weight. The way is hard est should such otherwise be and rough, the food scanty. lacking.
On ordinary marches he often The start once made and the comes in exhausted, long after marches arranged, the adven- the hammock has arrived. On turers took a few hours' sleep this forced march it was inby the wayside, and were off evitable he should drop farther again before day break, tramp- and farther behind. At the ing in single file along the end of the third day's scurry narrow track. On that first only four
with the day's march the cook’s stiff column. As they plunged knee was a perpetual joy to deeper into the forest, the Henry, who would hide in the marches grew more arduous, bushes and leap out on him, along narrow paths, amongst enjoying his jump of surprise the giant timber, through and the consequent falling of undergrowth so dense that the load of cooking pots that the air was almost unbreathQuashie carried. The joke able. Up rising ground where never failed, till it was ex- they steadily ascended and plained to him through the ascended, till at the ridge's media of the Corporal and a summit the ground flattened, cleaning rod that there was the thick undergrowth disa time for all things.
appeared, and they marched This taste of discipline was for hours among long colonthe first that Small Henry had nades of stiff fan-palms risexperienced since he left the ing fifty feet high in ordered Wesleyan Mission, an institu- columns from coarse rocky tion he had adorned for some ground. Again descending, two years. His master listened they found the jungle, and complacently to his howls, till in ten minutes exchanged the
fresh cool breeze of the plateau open rush-covered ground and for the hot thick air below. detached bushes, and then a They reached a district where long day of down-hill marchonly one of the party had ing, over rocky ground, across been before. The ground was mountain streams, brought covered with a vegetation half them to the edge of a mighty bamboo thicket, half thick swamp, beyond which rose the succulent reeds resembling im- grass - covered plains of the mense irises. These broke as
That night they crushed through them, they slept among the trees. wetting them with a viscous The swamp was three-quarters fluid from head to heel, cling- of a mile wide in its narrowest ing like water - weeds round part. At its edge, one of the their limbs. Five miles of biggest cotton - woods that the plateau were more easily grew in the great forest had traversed than a short half- blown down into it. In the mile of that wet jungle; but dry season, when the swamp in spite of all the difficulties had dried up, the tallest man of rocky hill and tropical standing beside the fallen undergrowth Long Quashie, giant could not touch with soft and limping, still bore his finger- tips the top of its on high his cooking-pots, and bole. Now the mud swung his stiff knee valiantly above it, and the Hausa who in the van, while Small Henry crept along it to find a path tore along breathless into the through the tangle bad to unknown, sustained by the feel for it with his feet. They spirits of adventure and essayed that swamp at the egoism.
earliest day break. It was ten By the ninth evening but o'clock before the first man two carriers were left the was across. It was five before
with the camp - bed, Long Quashie had achieved blankets, folding bath, and the passage.
The short twichair, the other who bore a light was fading ere “Small heavy load of stores the most Henry," so plastered with mud necessary. Abandoning bed, that he resembled a hedgehog bath, and chair, the Officer prepared for cooking in gipsy threw the blankets into the fashion, was hauled shrieking hammock and divided the on to firm ground by a strapheavy load into two. Then ping soldier. Henry, when in he unslung the hammock; feather, affected to despise the for the future he would only military, but he clung to the use it to sleep in, and would grinning Hausa as a monkey trudge the road with his to the organ-grinder. men.
There was no marching that And now they were nearing evening; there was no lightthe forest's boundaries. The ing of fires; they slept where heavy timber and under. they lay,—but the worst was growth gave way to lighter over. The track stretched out wood, then came patches of before them across park - like
plains and open
savannah Officer received and returned country. The land was green the official visits of the King with the coming of the late and Chiefs, and the occuparains, and at the scattered tion was a thing accomplished. villages they found
The Germans at their town of plantains, and millet. On the Bismarck raged furious, but fifteenth day. they crossed the while Berlin and London were Volta, and six hours later talking the local Government the Officer and his men, the had to hold its hand. two oarriers, four hammock- Once established in Salagha bearers, Long Quashie, and town the detachment sat down Small Henry, ran into Salagha to wait. It was not a particutown.
larly interesting place.
The To burst into a Mahommedan houses built of mud, thatched town without even mentioning with grass, and coated with that you are coming, to run up white lime-wash, clustered tothe Union Jack and state that gether on a dull plain of hard you are going to stop indefin- red earth covered with coarse itely, is not unlikely to raise a herbage, holding an occasional panic that may cause your tree somewhat resembling an untimely decease before you English poplar. The town itcan explain how blameless are self contained some five or six your motives. The detachment thousand people, but attached at first was in great peril, but to it was another town almost the Sergeant doffed his uniform, as large, in reality a great put on the turban and white annexe, built to house the cararobes, and found some of his vans which arrived in their own people among the head season from the North and men of the town. He spent East, to procure salt, powder, the day in grave and serious and most especially Kola nut, talk, and having seen that food which great Mahommedan luxand water were despatched to ury the distant forest produced the camp, attended the evening in enormous quantities. Now,
, prayers as & good Mahom- however, it was swept clean medan should. As for the and deserted, for the last caraOfficer, he was so tired that he van had come and gone a could not eat, and, after warn- month before. Outside the ing his men that the first who town grew great masses of low interfered with the townspeople cactus and prickly pear, and would be flogged, lay down patches of yam and cassava and slept like a dead man for and ground nuts, in which the eight hours. The next day the bush fowl and African partsoldiers built for themselves ridges ran and pecked. Beyond grass shelters; the Officer chose the farms the dusty plain a hut near by, making it less stretched out all around, and stuffy and more habitable by the horizon line was unbroken knocking holes in the mud by any rising ground. The walls.
The Union Jack was trees and bushes along the run up to a tall bamboo. The river banks across which the detachment had come, alone early, when they did not go afforded any relief.
into the town. Unfortunately The inhabitants, of the usual he was not a man of hobbies. Coast Mahommedan type, were There were some lovely birds, not particularly interesting, and the long grass harboured excepting in the caravan sea- strange beetles and insects; son, and then the town pre- there was a disused pit full of sented at every turn curious weird fossils, and once on his and noteworthy sights. Now walk he found
Now walk he found a curiouslyin its dead season a few visits veined quartz outcrop.
But exhausted its possibilities. In none of these things interested a raid not long before the Ger- him. A collection of birds' mans had burned it, and very skins, of beetles or butterflies many of the buildings were from that region, would not still in ruins, though the only have kept a man in his mosques had been rebuilt and position going, but have put a opened by a holy man, brought good round sum into his pocket. all the way from Khartoum to As for the fossils, but one man perform the ceremony.
on the Gold Coast had interWhen he had been there a ested himself in them, and in fortnight the days began to that quarry stood a door to hang heavy on the Officer's fame, ready to be opened; while, hands. In a month, time though the boom was not due seemed to stand still. The for some years, a find of quartzmen were drilled in the early bearing gold was always & morning, the huts inspected, secret worth knowing. But and the day's work was over
the Officer cared for none of there was nothing more to do these things. He stared at It was too hot to go anywhere, the butterflies and yawned at had there been anywhere to go. the great fossils, plainly outBy half-past six it was pitch- lined on the red sandstone, dark. At first he made it his and kicked the quartz outcrop, practice to walk for two hours wondering as he walked back every evening, accompanied by again what Quashie would conSmall Henry, an hour out over trive for dinner, and how long the plain and an hour back they were to be left in their again, or walk about the town isolated position. Once a fortand stare at the people sitting night he exchanged a formal about the narrow streets. Then visit with the King of the came dinner and the long black town, and that was his sole evenings. He had no litera- distraction. ture; his only light was from Time went on and the dea small calabash full of oil, in tachment seemed forgotten. which floated a wick of native No one of the missing carriers cotton. His one amusement had arrived. Two of the rewas to sit and listen to the maining six had been sent to chatter of Long Quashie and bring up stores, but neither of Small Henry over the cooking them returned.
A messenger fire, and they went to bed very sent at his request by the King