Adventures and Letters HTML version
had gymkana races among the kroo boys. The most remarkable was their placing franc
pieces in tubs of white and red flour, for which the boys dived, they then dug for more
money into a big basket fitted with feathers and when they came out they were the most
awful sights imaginable. You can picture their naked black bodies and faces spotted with
white and pink and stuck like chickens with feathers. Then the next day we were all
hauled before a court and judged, and having all been found guilty were condemned to be
shaved and bathed publicly at four. Meantime the Italians, is it not the picture of them,
had organized a revolution against the Tribunal, with the object of ducking them. They
went into this as though it were a real conspiracy and had signs and passwords. At four
o'clock, in turn they sat us on the edge of the great tank on the well deck and splashed us
over with paste and then tilted us in. I tried to carry the Frenchman who was acting as
barber, with me but only got him half in. But Milani, one of the Italians, swung him over
his head plumb into the water. The Frenchman is a rich elephant hunter who is not very
popular. When the revolution broke loose we all yelled "A bas le Tribunal" "Vivela
Revolution"! and there was awful rough house. I made for the Frenchman and went in
with him and nearly drowned him, and everybody was being thrown into the tank or held
in front of a fire cross. After dinner there was a grand ceremony, the fourth, in which
certificates were presented by an Inspecteur d'Etat who is on board, and is a Deputy
Governor of a district. Then there was much champagne and a concert and Cecil and I sat
with the Captain, the Bishop, in his robes and berretta and the two inspectors and they
were very charming to both of us.
Compagnie Belge Maritime Du Congo.
S. S. February 13th, 1907.
We reached Banana yesterday morning, and the mouth of the Congo, and as the soldier
said when he reached the top of San Juan Hill, "Hell! well here we are!" Banana looks
like one of the dozen little islands in the West Indies, where we would stop to take on
some "brands of bananas," instead of the port to a country as big as Europe. We went
ashore and wandered around under the palm trees, and took photos, and watched some
men fishing in the lagoons, and we saw a strange fish that leaps on the top of the water
just as a frog jumps on land. It is certainly hot. Milani and I went in swimming in the
ocean, and got finely cool. Then we paddled the canoe back to the ship to show the
blacks how good we were, and got very hot, and the blacks charged us a franc for the
voyage. To-morrow we will be in Boma, the capital, which is much of a place with shops
and a lawn tennis court.
BOMA, February 15th.
Boma is more or less laid out and contains the official residences of the Government. I
walked all over it in an hour, and here you walk very slow. There are three or four big
trading stores AND a tennis court. It is, however, a dreary place. We called on the
missionary and his wife, but she does not speak English and their point of view of