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the Online Distributed Proofreading Canada Team at
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SANDERS OF THE RIVER

BY

EDGAR WALLACE

Author of "Four Just Men," "The Council of Justice," "The Duke in the
Suburbs," etc.

WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED
LONDON AND MELBOURNE




POPULAR NOVELS
BY
EDGAR WALLACE

Published by
Ward, Lock & Co., Limited.

_In Various Editions._


SANDERS OF THE RIVER
BONES
BOSAMBO OF THE RIVER
BONES IN LONDON
THE KEEPERS OF THE KING'S PEACE
THE COUNCIL OF JUSTICE
THE DUKE IN THE SUBURBS
THE PEOPLE OF THE RIVER
DOWN UNDER DONOVAN
PRIVATE SELBY
THE ADMIRABLE CARFEW
THE MAN WHO BOUGHT LONDON
THE JUST MEN OF CORDOVA
THE SECRET HOUSE
KATE, PLUS TEN
LIEUTENANT BONES
THE ADVENTURES OF HEINE
JACK O' JUDGMENT
THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
THE NINE BEARS
THE BOOK OF ALL POWER
MR. JUSTICE MAXELL
THE BOOKS OF BART
THE DARK EYES OF LONDON
CHICK
SANDI, THE KING-MAKER
THE THREE OAK MYSTERY
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG
BLUE HAND
GREY TIMOTHY
A DEBT DISCHARGED
THOSE FOLK OF BULBORO
THE MAN WHO WAS NOBODY
THE GREEN RUST


_Made and Printed in Great Britain by_
Ward, Lock & Co., Limited, London.




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER PAGE

I. - THE EDUCATION OF THE KING 5

II. - KEEPERS OF THE STONE 29

III. - BOSAMBO OF MONROVIA 47

IV. - THE DROWSY ONE 61

V. - THE SPECIAL COMMISSIONER 78

VI. - THE DANCING STONES 98

VII. - THE FOREST OF HAPPY DREAMS 117

VIII. - THE AKASAVAS 131

IX. - THE WOOD OF DEVILS 151

X. - THE LOVES OF M'LINO 169

XI. - THE WITCH-DOCTOR 189

XII. - THE LONELY ONE 208

XIII. - THE SEER 224

THE LAST. - DOGS OF WAR 243




SANDERS OF THE RIVER.


CHAPTER I.

THE EDUCATION OF THE KING.


Mr. Commissioner Sanders had graduated to West Central Africa by such
easy stages that he did not realise when his acquaintance with the back
lands began. Long before he was called upon by the British Government to
keep a watchful eye upon some quarter of a million cannibal folk, who
ten years before had regarded white men as we regard the unicorn; he had
met the Basuto, the Zulu, the Fingo, the Pondo, Matabele, Mashona,
Barotse, Hottentot, and Bechuana. Then curiosity and interest took him
westward and northward, and he met the Angola folk, then northward to
the Congo, westward to the Masai, and finally, by way of the Pigmy
people, he came to his own land.

Now, there is a subtle difference between all these races, a difference
that only such men as Sanders know.

It is not necessarily a variety of colour, though some are brown and
some yellow, and some - a very few - jet black. The difference is in
character. By Sanders' code you trusted all natives up to the same
point, as you trust children, with a few notable exceptions. The Zulu
were men, the Basuto were men, yet childlike in their grave faith. The
black men who wore the fez were subtle, but trustworthy; but the browny
men of the Gold Coast, who talked English, wore European clothing, and
called one another "Mr.," were Sanders' pet abomination.

Living so long with children of a larger growth, it follows that he
absorbed many of their childlike qualities. Once, on furlough in London,
a confidence trick was played on him, and only his natural honesty
pulled him out of a ridiculous scrape. For, when the gold-brick man
produced his dull metal ingot, all Sanders' moral nerves stood endways,
and he ran the confiding "bunco steerer" to the nearest station,
charging him, to the astonishment of a sorely-puzzled policeman, with
"I.G.B.," which means illicit gold buying. Sanders did not doubt that
the ingot was gold, but he was equally certain that the gold was not
honestly come by. His surprise when he found that the "gold" was
gold-leaf imposed upon the lead of commerce was pathetic.

You may say of Sanders that he was a statesman, which means that he had
no exaggerated opinion of the value of individual human life. When he
saw a dead leaf on the plant of civilisation, he plucked it off, or a
weed growing with his "flowers" he pulled it up, not stopping to
consider the weed's equal right to life. When a man, whether he was
_capita_ or slave, by his bad example endangered the peace of his
country, Sanders fell upon him. In their unregenerate days, the Isisi
called him "Ogani Isisi," which means "The Little Butcher Bird," and
certainly in that time Sanders was prompt to hang. He governed a people
three hundred miles beyond the fringe of civilisation. Hesitation to
act, delay in awarding punishment, either of these two things would have
been mistaken for weakness amongst a people who had neither power to
reason, nor will to excuse, nor any large charity.

In the land which curves along the borders of Togo the people understand
punishment to mean pain and death, and nothing else counts. There was a
foolish Commissioner who was a great humanitarian, and he went up to
Akasava - which is the name of this land - and tried moral suasion.

It was a raiding palaver. Some of the people of Akasava had crossed the
river to Ochori and stolen women and goats, and I believe there was a
man or two killed, but that is unimportant. The goats and the women were
alive, and cried aloud for vengeance. They cried so loud that down at
headquarters they were heard and Mr. Commissioner Niceman - that was not
his name, but it will serve - went up to see what all the noise was
about. He found the Ochori people very angry, but more frightened.

"If," said their spokesman, "they will return our goats, they may keep
the women, because the goats are very valuable."

So Mr. Commissioner Niceman had a long, long palaver that lasted days
and days, with the chief of the Akasava people and his councillors, and
in the end moral suasion triumphed, and the people promised on a certain
day, at a certain hour, when the moon was in such a quarter and the tide
at such a height, the women should be returned and the goats also.

So Mr. Niceman returned to headquarters, swelling with admiration for
himself and wrote a long report about his genius and his administrative
abilities, and his knowledge of the native, which was afterwards
published in Blue Book (Africa) 7943-96.

It so happened that Mr. Niceman immediately afterwards went home to
England on furlough, so that he did not hear the laments and woeful
wailings of the Ochori folk when they did not get their women or their
goats.

Sanders, working round the Isisi River, with ten Houssas and an attack
of malaria, got a helio message:

"Go Akasava and settle that infernal woman
palaver. - Administration."

So Sanders girded up his loins, took 25 grains of quinine, and leaving
his good work - he was searching for M'Beli, the witch-doctor, who had
poisoned a friend - trekked across country for the Akasava.

In the course of time he came to the city and was met by the chief.

"What about these women?" he asked.

"We will have a palaver," said the chief. "I will summon my headmen and
my councillors."

"Summon nothing," said Sanders shortly. "Send back the women and the
goats you stole from the Ochori."

"Master," said the chief, "at full moon, which is our custom, when the
tide is so, and all signs of gods and devils are propitious, I will do
as you bid."

"Chief," said Sanders, tapping the ebony chest of the other with the thin
end of his walking-stick, "moon and river, gods or devils, those women
and the goats go back to the Ochori folk by sunset, or I tie you to a
tree and flog you till you bleed."

"Master," said the chief, "the women shall be returned."

"And the goats," said Sanders.

"As to the goats," said the chief airily, "they are dead, having been
killed for a feast."

"You will bring them back to life," said Sanders.

"Master, do you think I am a magician?" asked the chief of the Akasava.

"I think you are a liar," said Sanders impartially, and there the
palaver finished.

That night goats and women returned to the Ochori, and Sanders prepared
to depart.

He took aside the chief, not desiring to put shame upon him or to weaken
his authority.

"Chief," he said, "it is a long journey to Akasava, and I am a man
fulfilling many tasks. I desire that you do not cause me any further
journey to this territory."

"Master," said the chief truthfully, "I never wish to see you again."

Sanders smiled aside, collected his ten Houssas, and went back to the
Isisi River to continue his search for M'Beli.

It was not a nice search for many causes, and there was every reason to
believe, too, that the king of Isisi himself was the murderer's
protector. Confirmation of this view came one morning when Sanders,
encamped by the Big River, was taking a breakfast of tinned milk and
toast. There arrived hurriedly Sato-Koto, the brother of the king, in
great distress of mind, for he was a fugitive from the king's wrath. He
babbled forth all manner of news, in much of which Sanders took no
interest whatever. But what he said of the witch-doctor who lived in the
king's shadow was very interesting indeed, and Sanders sent a messenger
to headquarters, and, as it transpired, headquarters despatched in the
course of time Mr. Niceman - who by this time had returned from
furlough - to morally "suade" the king of the Isisi.

From such evidence as we have been able to collect it is evident that
the king was not in a melting mood. It is an indisputable fact that poor
Niceman's head, stuck on a pole before the king's hut, proclaimed the
king's high spirits.

H.M.S. _St. George_, H.M.S. _Thrush_, H.M.S. _Philomel_, H.M.S. _Phoebe_
sailed from Simonstown, and H.M.S. _Dwarf_ came down from Sierra Leone
_hec dum_, and in less than a month after the king killed his guest he
wished he hadn't.

Headquarters sent Sanders to clear up the political side of the mess.

He was shown round what was left of the king's city by the
flag-lieutenant of the _St. George_.

"I am afraid," said that gentleman, apologetically, "I am afraid that
you will have to dig out a new king; we've rather killed the old one."

Sanders nodded.

"I shall not go into mourning," he said.

There was no difficulty in finding candidates for the vacant post.
Sato-Koto, the dead king's brother, expressed his willingness to assume
the cares of office with commendable promptitude.

"What do you say?" asked the admiral, commanding the expedition.

"I say no, sir," said Sanders, without hesitation. "The king has a son,
a boy of nine; the kingship must be his. As for Sato-Koto, he shall be
regent at pleasure."

And so it was arranged, Sato-Koto sulkily assenting.

They found the new king hidden in the woods with the women folk, and he
tried to bolt, but Sanders caught him and led him back to the city by
the ear.

"My boy," he said kindly, "how do people call you?"

"Peter, master," whimpered the wriggling lad; "in the fashion of the
white people."

"Very well," said Sanders, "you shall be King Peter, and rule this
country wisely and justly according to custom and the law. And you shall
do hurt to none, and put shame on none nor shall you kill or raid or do
any of the things that make life worth living, and if you break loose,
may the Lord help you!"

Thus was King Peter appointed monarch of the Isisi people, and Sanders
went back to head-quarters with the little army of bluejackets and
Houssas, for M'Beli, the witch-doctor, had been slain at the taking of
the city, and Sanders' work was finished.

The story of the taking of Isisi village, and the crowning of the young
king, was told in the London newspapers, and lost nothing in the
telling. It was so described by the special correspondents, who
accompanied the expedition, that many dear old ladies of Bayswater wept,
and many dear young ladies of Mayfair said: "How sweet!" and the outcome
of the many emotions which the description evoked was the sending out
from England of Miss Clinton Calbraith, who was an M.A., and
unaccountably pretty.

She came out to "mother" the orphan king, to be a mentor and a friend.
She paid her own passage, but the books which she brought and the school
paraphernalia that filled two large packing cases were subscribed for
by the tender readers of _Tiny Toddlers_, a magazine for infants.
Sanders met her on the landing-stage, being curious to see what a white
woman looked like.

He put a hut at her disposal and sent the wife of his coast clerk to
look after her.

"And now, Miss Calbraith," he said, at dinner that night, "what do you
expect to do with Peter?"

She tilted her pretty chin in the air reflectively.

"We shall start with the most elementary of lessons - the merest
kindergarten, and gradually work up. I shall teach him calisthenics, a
little botany - Mr. Sanders, you're laughing."

"No, I wasn't," he hastened to assure her; "I always make a face like
that - er - in the evening. But tell me this - do you speak the
language - Swaheli, Bomongo, Fingi?"

"That will be a difficulty," she said thoughtfully.

"Will you take my advice?" he asked.

"Why, yes."

"Well, learn the language." She nodded. "Go home and learn it." She
frowned. "It will take you about twenty-five years."

"Mr. Sanders," she said, not without dignity, "you are pulling - you are
making fun of me."

"Heaven forbid!" said Sanders piously, "that I should do anything so
wicked."

The end of the story, so far as Miss Clinton Calbraith was concerned,
was that she went to Isisi, stayed three days, and came back
incoherent.

"He is not a child!" she said wildly; "he is - a - a little devil!"

"So I should say," said Sanders philosophically.

"A king? It is disgraceful! He lives in a mud hut and wears no clothes.
If I'd known!"

"A child of nature," said Sanders blandly. "You didn't expect a sort of
Louis Quinze, did you?"

"I don't know what I expected," she said desperately; "but it was
impossible to stay - quite impossible."

"Obviously," murmured Sanders.

"Of course, I knew he would be black," she went on; "and I knew
that - oh, it was too horrid!"

"The fact of it is, my dear young lady," said Sanders, "Peter wasn't as
picturesque as you imagined him; he wasn't the gentle child with
pleading eyes; and he lives messy - is that it?"

This was not the only attempt ever made to educate Peter. Months
afterwards, when Miss Calbraith had gone home and was busily writing her
famous book, "Alone in Africa: by an English Gentlewoman," Sanders heard
of another educative raid. Two members of an Ethiopian mission came into
Isisi by the back way. The Ethiopian mission is made up of Christian
black men, who, very properly, basing their creed upon Holy Writ, preach
the gospel of Equality. A black man is as good as a white man any day of
the week, and infinitely better on Sundays if he happens to be a member
of the Reformed Ethiopian Church.

They came to Isisi and achieved instant popularity, for the kind of talk
they provided was very much to the liking of Sato-Koto and the king's
councillors.

Sanders sent for the missioners. The first summons they refused to obey,
but they came on the second occasion, because the message Sanders sent
was at once peremptory and ominous.

They came to headquarters, two cultured American negroes of good address
and refined conversation. They spoke English faultlessly, and were in
every sense perfect gentlemen.

"We cannot understand the character of your command," said one, "which
savours somewhat of interference with the liberty of the subject."

"You'll understand me better," said Sanders, who knew his men, "when I
tell you that I cannot allow you to preach sedition to my people."

"Sedition, Mr. Sanders!" said the negro in shocked tones. "That is a
grave charge."

Sanders took a paper from a pigeon-hole in his desk; the interview took
place in his office.

"On such a date," he said, "you said this, and this, and that."

In other words he accused them of overstepping the creed of Equality and
encroaching upon the borderland of political agitation.

"Lies!" said the elder of the two, without hesitation.

"Truth or lies," he said, "you go no more to Isisi."

"Would you have the heathen remain in darkness?" asked the man, in
reproach. "Is the light we kindle too bright, master?"

"No," said Sanders, "but a bit too warm."

So he committed the outrage of removing the Ethiopians from the scene of
their earnest labours, in consequence of which questions were asked in
Parliament.

Then the chief of the Akasava people - an old friend - took a hand in the
education of King Peter. Akasava adjoins that king's territory, and the
chief came to give hints in military affairs.

He came with drums a-beating, with presents of fish and bananas and
salt.

"You are a great king!" he said to the sleepy-eyed boy who sat on a
stool of state, regarding him with open-mouthed interest. "When you walk
the world shakes at your tread; the mighty river that goes flowing down
to the big water parts asunder at your word, the trees of the forest
shiver, and the beasts go slinking to cover when your mightiness goes
abroad."

"Oh, ko, ko!" giggled the king, pleasantly tickled.

"The white men fear you," continued the chief of the Akasava; "they
tremble and hide at your roar."

Sato-Koto, standing at the king's elbow, was a practical man.

"What seek ye, chief?" he asked, cutting short the compliments.

So the chief told him of a land peopled by cowards, rich with the
treasures of the earth, goats, and women.

"Why do you not take them yourself?" demanded the regent.

"Because I am a slave," said the chief; "the slave of Sandi, who would
beat me. But you, lord, are of the great; being king's headman, Sandi
would not beat you because of your greatness."

There followed a palaver, which lasted two days.

"I shall have to do something with Peter," wrote Sanders despairingly to
the Administrator; "the little beggar has gone on the war-path against
those unfortunate Ochori. I should be glad if you would send me a
hundred men, a Maxim, and a bundle of rattan canes; I'm afraid I must
attend to Peter's education myself."

* * * * *

"Lord, did I not speak the truth?" said the Akasava chief in triumph.
"Sandi has done nothing! Behold, we have wasted the city of the Ochori,
and taken their treasure, and the white man is dumb because of your
greatness! Let us wait till the moon comes again, and I will show you
another city."

"You are a great man," bleated the king, "and some day you shall build
your hut in the shadow of my palace."

"On that day," said the chief, with splendid resignation, "I shall die
of joy."

When the moon had waxed and waned and come again, a pencilled silver
hoop of light in the eastern sky, the Isisi warriors gathered with spear
and broad-bladed sword, with _ingola_ on their bodies, and clay in their
hair.

They danced a great dance by the light of a huge fire, and all the women
stood round, clapping their hands rhythmically.

In the midst of this there arrived a messenger in a canoe, who
prostrated himself before the king, saying:

"Master, one day's march from here is Sandi; he has with him five score
of soldiers and the brass gun which says: 'Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!'"

A silence reigned in court circles, which was broken by the voice of the
Akasava chief.

"I think I will go home," he said. "I have a feeling of sickness; also,
it is the season when my goats have their young."

"Do not be afraid," said Sato-Koto brutally. "The king's shadow is over
you, and he is so mighty that the earth shakes at his tread, and the
waters of the big river part at his footfall; also, the white men fear
him."

"Nevertheless," said the chief, with some agitation, "I must go, for my
youngest son is sickening with fever, and calls all the time for me."

"Stay!" said the regent, and there was no mistaking his tone.

Sanders did not come the next day, nor the next. He was moving
leisurely, traversing a country where many misunderstandings existed
that wanted clearing up. When he arrived, having sent a messenger ahead
to carry the news of his arrival, he found the city peaceably engaged.

The women were crushing corn, the men smoking, the little children
playing and sprawling about the streets.

He halted at the outskirts of the city, on a hillock that commanded the
main street, and sent for the regent.

"Why must I send for you?" he asked. "Why does the king remain in his
city when I come? This is shame."

"Master," said Sato-Koto, "it is not fitting that a great king should so
humble himself."

Sanders was neither amused nor angry. He was dealing with a rebellious
people, and his own fine feelings were as nothing to the peace of the
land.

"It would seem that the king has had bad advisers," he reflected aloud,
and Sato-Koto shuffled uneasily.

"Go, now, and tell the king to come - for I am his friend."

The regent departed, but returned again alone.

"Lord, he will not come," he said sullenly.

"Then I will go to him," said Sanders.

King Peter, sitting before his hut, greeted Mr. Commissioner with
downcast eyes.

Sanders' soldiers, spread in a semi-circle before the hut, kept the
rabble at bay.

"King," said Sanders - he carried in his hand a rattan cane of familiar
shape, and as he spoke he whiffled it in the air, making a little
humming noise - "stand up!"

"Wherefore?" said Sato-Koto.

"That you shall see," said Sanders.

The king rose reluctantly, and Sanders grabbed him by the scruff of his
neck.

Swish!

The cane caught him most undesirably, and he sprang into the air with a
yell.

Swish, swish, swish!

Yelling and dancing, throwing out wild hands to ward off the punishment,
King Peter blubbered for mercy.

"Master!" Sato-Koto, his face distorted with rage, reached for his
spear.

"Shoot that man if he interferes," said Sanders, without releasing the
king.

The regent saw the levelled rifles and stepped back hastily.

"Now," said Sanders, throwing down the cane, "now we will play a little
game."

"Wow-wow - oh, ko!" sobbed his majesty.

"I go back to the forest," said Sanders. "By and by a messenger shall
come to you, saying that the Commissioner is on his way. Do you
understand?"

"Yi-hi!" sobbed the king.

"Then will you go out with your councillors and your old men and await
my coming according to custom. Is that clear?"

"Ye-es, master," whimpered the boy.

"Very good," said Sanders, and withdrew his troops.

In half an hour came a grave messenger to the king, and the court went
out to the little hill to welcome the white man.

This was the beginning of King Peter's education, for thus was he taught
obedience.

Sanders went into residence in the town of Isisi, and held court.

"Sato-Koto," he said on the second day, "do you know the village of
Ikan?"

"Yes, master; it is two days' journey into the bush."

Sanders nodded.

"You will take your wives, your children, your servants, and your
possessions to the village of Ikan, there to stay until I give you leave
to return. The palaver is finished."

Next came the chief of the Akasava, very ill at ease.

"Lord, if any man says I did you wrong, he lies," said the chief.

"Then I am a liar!" said Sanders. "For I say that you are an evil man,
full of cunning."

"If it should be," said the chief, "that you order me to go to my
village as you have ordered Sato-Koto, I will go, since he who is my
father is not pleased with me."

"That I order," said Sanders; "also, twenty strokes with a stick, for
the good of your soul. Furthermore, I would have you remember that down
by Tembeli on the great river there is a village where men labour in
chains because they have been unfaithful to the Government and have
practised abominations."

So the chief of the Akasava people went out to punishment.

There were other matters requiring adjustment, but they were of a minor
character, and when these were all settled to the satisfaction of
Sanders, but by no means to the satisfaction of the subjects, the
Commissioner turned his attention to the further education of the king.

"Peter," he said, "to-morrow when the sun comes up I go back to my own
village, leaving you without councillors."

"Master, how may I do without councillors, since I am a young boy?"


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