The Congo and Coasts of Africa eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about The Congo and Coasts of Africa.
Next morning we anchored in a dripping fog off Sekondi on the Gold Coast, to allow an English doctor to find his way to a fever camp.  For nine years he had been a Coaster, and he had just gone home to fit himself, by a winter’s vacation in London, for more work along the Gold Coast.  It is said of him that he has “never lost a life.”  On arriving in London he received a cable telling him three doctors had died, the miners along the railroad to Ashanti were rotten with fever, and that he was needed.

 [Illustration:  The “Mammy Chair” is Like Those Swings You See in
 Public Playgrounds.]

So he and his wife, as cheery and bright as though she were setting forth on her honeymoon, were going back to take up the white man’s burden.  We swung them over the side as we had the other two, and that night in the smoking-room the Coasters drank “Luck to him,” which, in the vernacular of this unhealthy shore, means “Life to him,” and to the plucky, jolly woman who was going back to fight death with the man who had never lost a life.

As the ship was getting under way, a young man in “whites” and a sun helmet, an agent of a trading company, went down the sea ladder by which I was leaning.  He was smart, alert; his sleeves, rolled recklessly to his shoulders, showed sinewy, sunburnt arms; his helmet, I noted, was a military one.  Perhaps I looked as I felt; that it was a pity to see so good a man go back to such a land, for he looked up at me from the swinging ladder and smiled understanding as though we had been old acquaintances.

“You going far?” he asked.  He spoke in the soft, detached voice of the public-school Englishman.

“To the Congo,” I answered.

He stood swaying with the ship, looking as though there were something he wished to say, and then laughed, and added gravely, giving me the greeting of the Coast:  “Luck to you.”

“Luck to you,” I said.

That is the worst of these gaddings about, these meetings with men you wish you could know, who pass like a face in the crowded street, who hold out a hand, or give the password of the brotherhood, and then drop down the sea ladder and out of your life forever.

II

MY BROTHER’S KEEPER

To me, the fact of greatest interest about the Congo is that it is owned, and the twenty millions of people who inhabit it are owned by one man.  The land and its people are his private property.  I am not trying to say that he governs the Congo.  He does govern it, but that in itself would not be of interest.  His claim is that he owns it.  Though backed by all the mailed fists in the German Empire, and all the Dreadnoughts of the seas, no other modern monarch would make such a claim.  It does not sound like anything we have heard since the days and the ways of Pharaoh.  And the most remarkable feature of it is, that the man who makes

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The Congo and Coasts of Africa from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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