Paul Belloni Du Chaillu.

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the tallest. His height was five feet six inches. His
arms had a spread of seven feet two inches. His broad
brawny chest measured fifty inches round. The big toe
of his foot measured five inches and three quarters in
circumference. His arms seemed like immense bunches
of muscle only ; and his legs and claw-like feet were so
well fitted for grabbing and holding, that I could see
how easy it was for the negroes to believe that these an-
imals, when they conceal themselves in trees and watch
for prey, can seize and pull up with their feet any living
thing, leopard, ox, or man, that passes beneath.

The face of this gorilla was intensely black. The vast
chest, which proved his great power, was bare, and cov-
ered with a parchment-like skin. His body was covered
with gray hair. While the animal approached us in its
fierce way, walking on its hind legs and facing us as few
animals dare face man, it really seemed to me to be a hor-
rid likeness of man.







WITH Quengueza I resumed the ascent of the River
Ovenga. "We were bound to the town of a chief named
Aguailai. The place was called N'calai Boumba.

We left Obindji early in the morning. On the way
we passed several Bakalai villages, the largest of which,
Npopo, I afterward visited. The river banks, all the
way up, were densely wooded, but very sparsely inhabit-
ed by beasts. We saw no animals the whole day except
one monkey and a few birds.


Aguailai, who was .one of the vassals of Quengueza,
and a powerful Bakalai chief, and whom I had met at
Obindji's, received us well.

Aguailai's town is the hottest place I ever saw in
Africa. N'calai Boumba was set in a hollow, and the
houses were so small and close as to be quite unendur-
able to me. The village was only a little more than a
year old. The people had come lately from the interior.
Plantations of plantains were very abundant.

Toward the end of April I was brought down to my
bed with fever. This was the severest attack I had yet
experienced in Africa. It entirely prostrated me. I
looked like a corpse. Not a single particle of color
could be seen on my face. I had no strength. I could
not eat. I could not walk.

For three days I had violent returns of the fever.
The blood rushed to my head, and my mind wandered
at times ; so the natives told me. Of course I can not
remember what I said. I only know that my head
burned like fire, and that I was almost mad with pain.
Between the attacks of fever I really thought I should
die, and I commended my soul to God.

While I lay sick, people came and entreated me not
to hunt so much and so constantly. They said, " Look
at us ; we hunt one day ; we rest two. When we hunt
three days, we rest for many days after it. But you go
out every day."

I thought to myself, they are right, and I shall follow
their rule hereafter. But it was hard to do so ; for I
felt that no one else was in the field ; that in such an
unhealthy climate no one can live very long, and I want-
ed to do as much work as I could. I wanted to bring


all the wonders of that part of the world to light ; and
I felt that I was getting older and older, and there was
yet very much work to be done. So I prayed God to
give me strength for the work that was intrusted to my

I shall never forget the kindness of those native wom-
en to me while I was sick. Poor souls ! they are sadly
abused by their task-masters. They are the merest slaves.
They have to do all the drudgery. They receive blows
and ill usage. And yet, at the sight of suffering, their
hearts soften, just as women's hearts soften in our own
more civilized lands. No sooner did sickness attack me
than these kind souls came to nurse and take care of me.
They sat by me to fan me ; they brought more mats for
my bed ; they bathed my burning head with cold water;
they got me refreshing fruits from the woods. At night,
when I woke up from a feverish dream, I used to hear
their voices, as they sat around in the darkness, pitying
me and contriving ways to cure me.

When I think of these things I can not help thanking
God for them ; that, wherever I have gone, He has made
human hearts tender and kind to me ; that, even under
the black skin of the benighted and savage African, He
has implanted something of His own compassionate love.

Aguailai and Quengueza were sadly alarmed at my
illness. Aguailai accused his people of wickedly be-
witching me. One still night he walked up and down
the village, threatening, in a loud voice, to kill the sor-
cerers if he could only find them. I had to get up and
tell Aguailai that I was sure his people and the Bakalai
loved me too much to wish me to be sick, whereupon
they all shouted at once, " It is so ; it is so."


After a few days I was able to walk again a little,
and I went and lived in the forest, where I suffered less
from the heat than in our little houses.

How sorry I often felt that these kind-hearted ne-
groes were given to superstitions which led them to
commit the most horrid cruelties. A little boy, about
ten years old, had been accused of sorcery. On being
examined, he confessed that he had made a witch.
Thereupon the whole town seemed to be seized with the
ferocity of devils. They took spears and knives, and
actually cut the poor little fellow to pieces. I had been
walking out, and returned just as the dreadful scene
was over. I cOuld not even make the wretched men feel
shame at their bloody act. They were still frantic with
rage at the thought that this little fellow had made a
witch to kill some of them, and they were not quiet for
some hours after.

I felt so badly that I went into the woods, and took
the path that led to the village of Npopo, which was not
far distant from N'calai Boumba. I wanted to see if
the people had returned ; I wanted to see Aguailai the
chief. He was the doctor who had come to Goumbi to
drive off the aniemba. When I went down to Npopo
the first time I found the people all gone into the bush.
Every thing was open and exposed to thieves ; chickens
and goats were walking about ; and I wondered to see
such carelessness in the village. But in the centre, look-
ing down on every thing, stood the mbuiti, or god of
Npopo, a copper-eyed divinity, who, I was informed,
safely guarded every thing. It seemed absurd ; but I
. was assured that no one dared steal, and no one did steal,
with the eyes of this mbuiti upon him.


This uncommonly useful idol was a rudely-shaped
piece of ebony, about two feet high, with a man's face,
the nose and eyes of copper, and the body covered with

At last we started for the ebony woods. Our new
location was about nine miles from the river, on the side
of a long hill, and close by where a cool sparkling rivu-
let leaped from rock to rock down into the plain, making
the pleasantest of music for me as I lay, weak and sick,
in the camp. Five huge ebony-trees lifted their crown-
ed heads together in a little knot just above us. All
around were pleasant and shady woods. It was a very
pleasant camp, but proved to have one drawback we
nearly starved to death. I sent out the hunters imme-
diately on our arrival. They were gone two days, but
brought back nothing. Game was very scarce there;
and, without an ashinga, or net, such as many Bakalai
villages have, not much was to be got.






AT last I got better. I could not stand hunger and
gouamba any longer, and determined to make up a reg-
ular hunting-party, and stay out till we got something to
eat. Malaouen told me that if we went off about twenty
miles we should come to a better game country. So we
started in the direction he pointed out, and where he
thought we should find the gorilla, or perhaps the nshiego

The men were covered with greegrees, or fetiches, and
had cut their hands for luck. Aguailai told me that his
ogana (idol) had told him that to-morrow the heart of
the otanga (the white man) would be made glad, for we
should kill game.

For some hours after we started we saw nothing but
old tracks of different wild beasts, and I began to think
that Aguailai's ogana had been too sanguine. Finally,
toward twelve o'clock, when we were crossing a kind of
high table -land, we heard the cry of a young animal,
which we recognized to be a nshiego mbouve". At once
all my troubles left me. I no longer felt either sick or


We crawled through the bush as silently as possible,
still hearing the baby-like cry. At last, coming out into
a little place where there was very little undergrowth,
we saw something running along the ground toward
where we stood concealed. We hardly dared to breathe
for fear of awakening the animal's suspicions.

When it came nearer, we saw it was a female nshiego
mbouve*, running on all-fours, with a young one clinging
to her breast. She was eagerly eating some berries, while
with one arm she supported her little one.

Querlaouen, who had the fairest chance, fired, and
brought her down. She dropped without a struggle.
The poor little one cried " Hew ! hew ! hew !" and clung
to the dead body, sucking her breasts, and burying his
head there, in alarm at the report of the gun.

We hurried up in great glee to secure our capture. I
can not tell my surprise when I saw that the nshiego
baby's face was as white as that of a white child.

I looked at the mother, but found her black as soot
in the face. What did it mean? the mother black, the
child white ! The little one was about a foot in height.
One of the men threw a cloth over its head, and secured
it till we could make it fast with a rope ; for, though it
was quite young, it could walk. The old one was of the
bald-headed kind, of which I had secured the first known
specimen some months before.

I immediately ordered a return to the camp, which we
reached toward evening. The little nshiego had been
all this time separated from its dead mother, and now,
when it was put near her body, a most touching scene
ensued. The little fellow ran instantly to her. Touching
her on the face and breast, he saw evidently that some


great change had happened. For a few minutes he ca-
ressed her, as though trying to coax her back to life.
Then he seemed to lose all hope. His little eyes became
very sad, and he broke out in a long, plaintive wail,
" Ooee ! ooee ! ooee !" which made my heart ache for
him. He looked quite forlorn, and as though he really
felt his forsaken lot. All in the camp were touched
at his sorrows, and the women especially were much

All this time I stood wonderingly staring at the white
face of the creature. It was really marvelous, and quite
incomprehensible. A more strange and weird -looking
animal I never saw.

While I stood there, up came two of my hunters and
began to laugh at me. " Look, Chaillie," said they, call-
ing me by the name I am known by among them, " look
at your friend. Every time we kill gorilla, you tell us
look at your black friend, your first cousin. Now, you
see, look at your white friend." Then came a roar of
laughter at what they thought a tremendous joke.

" Look ! he got straight hair, all same as you ! See
white face of your cousin from the bush ! He is nearer
to you than the gorilla is to us !"

Then they roared again.

" Gorilla no got woolly hair like me. This one straight
hair like you."

" Yes," said I ; " but when he gets old his face is
black ; and do you not see his nose, how flat it is, like
yours ?"

Whereat there was a louder roar than before.

The mother was old, to judge by her teeth, which were
much worn ; but she was quite black in the face ; in fact,


her skin was black. Like all the nshiego mbouvd, she
was bald-headed.

Now I must give you an account of the little fellow
who excited all this surprise and merriment. He lived
five months, and became perfectly tame and docile. I
called him " Tommy," to which name he soon began to

Three days after his capture he was quite tame. He
then ate crackers out of my hands, devoured boiled rice
and roasted plantain, and drank the milk of a goat.
Two weeks after his capture he was perfectly tamed,
and no longer required to be tied up. He ran about the
camp, and, when we went back to Obindji's town, he
found his way about the village and into the huts just
as though he had been raised there.

He had a great affection for me, and used to follow
me about. When I sat down, he was not content till he
had climbed upon me, and hid his head in my breast.
He was extremely fond of being petted and fondled, and
would sit by the hour while any one stroked his head or

He soon began to be a very great thief. When the
people left their huts, he would steal in, and make off
with their plantains or fish (for he could then eat any
thing). He watched very carefully till all had left a
house, and it was difficult to catch him in the act. I
flogged him several times, and, indeed, brought him to
the conviction that it was wrong to steal ; but he could
never resist the temptation.

From me he stole constantly. He soon found out that
my hut was the best supplied with ripe bananas and oth-
er fruit. He also discovered that the best time to steal


from me was when I was asleep in the morning. At that
time he used to crawl slowly and carefully on tiptoe to-
ward my bed, and look at my closed eyes. If he saw no
movement, with an air of great relief he would go and
pick up several ripe plantains. If I stirred in the least
he was off like a flash, and would presently re-enter for
another inspection.

If my eyes were open when he came in on such a pred-
atory trip, he would come directly to me, with an honest
face, and would climb upon me, and caress me ; but I
could easily detect an occasional wistful glance toward
the bunch of plantains.

My hut had no door, but was closed with a mat. It
was very funny to see Tommy gently raising one corner
of this mat, and popping his head in to see if I was asleep.
Sometimes I feigned sleep, and then stirred just as he was
in the act of taking off his prize. Then he would drop
every thing, and make off in the utmost consternation.

He kept the run of meal-times, and was present at as
many meals as possible ; that is, he would go from my
breakfast to half a dozen others, and beg sometimes at
each. But he never missed my own breakfast and din-
ner, knowing by experience that he fared best there.

I had a kind of rude table made, on which my meals
were served, in the open part of my house. This was too
high for Tommy to see the dishes, so he used to come in
before I sat down, when all was ready, and climb up on
the pole that supported the roof. From here he would
attentively survey every dish on the table, and having
determined what to have, he would descend and sit down
at my side. If I did not immediately pay attention to
him he would begin to howl, " Hew ! hew ! hew !" loud-

" TOMMY" A PET. 289

er a.nd louder, till, for peace sake, his wants were satis-
fied. Of course I could not tell what he had chosen for
dinner of my different dishes, and would offer him first
one, then another, till the right one came. If he received
what he did not want, he would throw it down on the
ground with a little shriek of anger and a stamp of his
foot, and begin to howl, and this was repeated till he was
served to his liking. In short, he behaved very much
like a spoiled child.

If I pleased him quickly, he thanked me by a kind of
gentle murmur, like " hoohoo," and would hold out his
hand to shake mine. He knew perfectly how to shake
hands. He was very fond of boiled messes, particularly
boiled fish, and was constantly picking the bones he found
lying about the village. He wanted always to taste of
my coffee, and when Macondai brought it, would beg
some of me in the most serious manner.

I made him a little pillow to sleep on, and he became
very fond of it. After he was accustomed to it, he would
never part with it, but dragged it after him wherever he
went. If by any chance it was lost, the whole camp knew
it by his howls. Now and then, on some forest excursion,
he would mislay it, and then I had to send people for it
in order to stop his noise. At other times the people
would hide it, just to tease him. He slept on it, coiled
up in a little heap, and only relinquished it when I gave
him permission to accompany me into the woods.

As he became more and more used to our ways, he
grew more impatient of contradiction, and more fond of
being caressed ; and whenever he was thwarted he would
howl in his disagreeable way. Now and then I gave him
a flogging to teach him better manners.



As the dry season came on it became colder, and
Tommy began to wish for company when he slept, to
keep him warm. The negroes would not have him for
a companion, for he seemed too much like one of them-
selves. I did not like to have him in bed with me. So
poor Tommy was reduced to misery, as he seemed to
think nobody would have him. But soon I found that
he waited till every body was fast asleep at night, and
then crawled in softly next to some of his black friends,
and slept there till the earliest dawn. Then he would
get up and get away undiscovered. At other times he
felt too warm and comfortable to get up, and was caught
and beaten, but he always tried it again.

He showed an extraordinary fondness for strong drink.
Whenever a negro had palm wine Tommy was sure to
know it. He had a decided taste for Scotch ale, of which
I had a few bottles, and he even begged for brandy. In-
deed, his last exploit was with a brandy bottle. One day,
before going out to the hunt, I had carelessly left the
bottle on my chest. The little rascal stole in and seized
it ; and, being unable to get out the cork, in some way he
broke the bottle. When I returned, after some hours'
absence, I found my precious bottle broken in pieces !
It was the last ; and to an African traveler brandy is as
indispensable as quinine. Master Tommy was coiled up
on the floor amid the fragments in a state of maudlin
drunkenness. When he saw me he got up, and tried to
stagger up to me ; but his legs tottered, and he fell down
several times. His eyes had the glare of human drunk-
enness ; his arms were extended in vain attempts to reach
me ; his voice came thick ; in fact, he looked disgusting-
ly and yet comically human. It was the maudlin and


sentimental stage of human drunkenness very well rep-
resented. I had seen men looking exactly as Tommy
did, and I wished these drunkards could have seen him ;
they might then, perhaps, have become so disgusted with
themselves that they would have given up their horrid
vice. I gave him a severe thrashing, which seemed to
sober the little toper somewhat; but nothing could cure
him of his love for liquor.

He was also very fond of tea and coffee, but wanted
both to be well sweetened. He could drink out of a
cup. Sometimes, to tease him, I would not put in any
sugar ; then he would throw down the cup and begin to
howl, and he would make the whole place resound with
his noise.

He had a great deal of intelligence ; and, if I had had
leisure, I think I might have trained him to some kind
of good behavior, though I despaired of his thieving dis-
position. The older he grew, the greater thief he be-

He lived so long, and was growing so accustomed to
civilized life, that I began to have great hopes of carry-
ing him alive to America.

Sometimes he would come round the fire where my
men were, and warm himself with them. How comical
he then looked ! At other times, when they took their
meals, and ate out of a common dish, Master Tommy
would join the party ; and when they would all put their
hands into the dish, he would put his in also, and take a
little handful of cooked and smoked fish. In fact, he
kept time with them.

But alas ! poor Tommy ! One morning he refused his
food, seemed downcast, and was very anxious to be pet-


ted, and held in our arms. I got all kinds of forest ber-
ries for him, but he refused all. He did not seem to
suffer, but he ate nothing ; and next day, without a strug-
gle, he died. Poor fellow ! he seemed sorry to leave us.
I was grieved ; and even the negroes, though he had
given them great trouble, were mournful at his death.
-He had hardly expired when the news spread through
the village that little Tommy was no more. They all
came to see him ; he looked as if he were asleep.

It seemed as if we had lost a friend. We missed his
mischief and noise ; and for many days we all mourned
for Tommy, and wished him back among us.

Tommy turned darker as he grew older. At the time
of his death he was yellow rather than white. If he had
lived to be old, he would, no doubt, have become black,
like his mother.

And now, young friends, for the present I have done.
I have told you many things about Africa, about its
strange animals, its terrible gorillas, its savage Canni-
bals ; and all that I have told you is true, for it is what
I have seen with my own eyes.

But I have not told you all that I saw and heard in
that far-distant country. I have many more singular
sights to describe, and queer adventures to recount to

So I will not bid you farewell ; I will say to you "Au
revoir /" That means, " Good-by till I come again."







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Online LibraryPaul Belloni Du ChailluStories of the gorilla country → online text (page 17 of 18)