African Camp Fires eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about African Camp Fires.

Rickshaws, however, are very efficient and very cheap.  The runners, two in number, are lithe little round-headed Kavirondos, generally, their heads shaved to leave a skull cap, clad in scant ragged garments, and wearing each an anklet of little bells.  Their passion for ornament they confine to small bright things in their hair and ears.  They run easily, with a very long stride.  Even steep hills they struggle up somehow, zigzagging from one side of the road to the other, edging along an inch or so at a time.  In such places I should infinitely have preferred to have walked, but that would have lost me caste everywhere.  There are limits even to a crazy man’s idiosyncrasies.  For that reason I never thoroughly enjoyed rickshaws, save along the level ways with bells jingling and feet patpatting a rapid time.  Certainly I did not enjoy them going down the steep hills.  The boy between the shafts in front hits the landscape about every forty feet.  I do not really object to sudden death, but this form of it seemed unfair to some poor hungry lion.

However, the winding smooth roads among the forested, shaded bungalows of the upper part of town were very attractive, especially towards evening.  At that time the universal sun-helmet or double terai could be laid aside for straw hats, cloth caps, or bare heads.  People played the more violent games, or strolled idly.  At the hotel there was now a good deal of foolish drinking; foolish, because in this climate it is very bad for the human system, and in these surroundings of much interest and excitement the relief of its exaltation from monotony or ennui or routine could hardly be required.

FOOTNOTES: 

[6] Fifteen hundred whites to twelve thousand natives, approximately.

[7] This happened twice while I was in the country.

XV.

People.

Considered as a class rather than as individuals, the dark-skinned population is easily the more interesting.  Considered as individuals, the converse is true.  Men like Sir Percy Girouard, Hobley, Jackson, Lord Delamere, McMillan, Cunninghame, Allan Black, Leslie Tarleton, Vanderweyer, the Hill cousins, Horne, and a dozen others are nowhere else to be met in so small a community.  But the whites have developed nothing in their relations one to another essentially different.  The artisan and shopkeeping class dwell on the flats; the Government people and those of military connections live on the heights on one side of the little stream; the civil service and bigger business men among the hills on the other.  Between them all is a little jealousy, and contempt, and condescension; just as there is jealousy, and contempt, and condescension elsewhere.  They are pleasant people, and hospitable, and some of them very distinguished in position or achievement; and I am glad to say I have good friends among them.

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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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