“Out of the dead, miss, dead husbands of Asika from beginning of the world; what they call Munganas. Also always they make sacrifice to Yellow God. From far, far away them poor niggers send people to be sacrifice that their house or tribe get luck. Sometimes they send kings, sometimes great men, sometimes doctors, sometimes women what have twin babies. Also the Asiki bring people what is witches, or have drunk poison stuff which blacks call muavi and have not been sick, or perhaps son they love best to take curse off their roof. All these come to Yellow God. Then Asiki doctor, they have Death-palaver. On night of full moon they beat drum, and drum go Wow! Wow! Wow! and doctors pick out those to die that month. Once they pick out Jeekie, oh! good Lord, they pick out me,” and as he said the words he gasped and with his great hand wiped off the sweat that started from his brow. “But Yellow God no take Jeekie that time, no want him and I escape.”
“How?” asked Sir Robert.
“With my master, Major’s uncle, Reverend Austin, he who come try to make Asiki Christian. He snap his fingers, put on small mask of Yellow God which he prig, Little Bonsa herself, that same face which sit in your office now,” and he pointed to Sir Robert, “like one toad upon a stone. Priests think that god make herself into man, want holiday, take me out into forest to kill me and eat my life. So they let us go by and we go just as though devil kick us—fast, fast, and never see the Asiki any more. But Little Bonsa I bring with me for luck, tell truth I no dare leave her behind, she not stand that; and now she sit in your office and think and think and make magic there. That why you grow rich, because she know you worship her.”
“That’s a nice way for a baptized Christian to talk,” said Barbara, adding, “But Jeekie, what do you mean when you say that the god did not take you?”
“I mean this, miss; when victim offered to Big Yellow God, priest-men bring him to edge of canal where the great god float. Then if Yellow God want him, it turn and swim across water.”
“Swim across water! I thought you said it was only a mask of gold?”
“I don’t know, miss, perhaps man inside the mask, perhaps spirit. I say it swim across water in the night, always in the night, and lift itself up and look in victim’s face. Then priest take him and kill him, sometimes one way—sometimes another. Or if he escape and they not kill him, all same for that Johnnie, he die in about one year, always die, no one ever live long if Yellow God swim to him in dark and rise up and smile in his face. No matter if it Big Bonsa or Little Bonsa, for they man and wife joined in holy matrimony and either do trick.”