My Apingi Kingdom - Paul du Chaillu
I MUST LEAVE MY KINGDOM.—ASSEMBLING OF THE PEOPLE.—THEY COME TO SAY GOOD-BY.—I MAKE A SPEECH.—REMANDJI'S REPLAY.—A HEAVY PRESENT.—PRESENTS TO REMANDJI.—THEY ARE SORRY I MUST GO AWAY.
At last the day is approaching when I must quit my kingdom and bid good-by to the Apingi people. I am getting very poor. When I look at the stock of beads I have on hand, I feel that it is time for me to leave, for the Apingi people think I have power to make them; and if I had none to give them they would think that I did not love them any more, and the consequence might be that they would become afraid of me. Besides, I feel very weary and lonely. Hardship and disease have prostrated my body; when I look in the looking-glass I can see how sunken are my eyes, and how hollow and pallid are my cheeks. My lips have lost their color, and my poor emaciated body says to me "what a hard time you have had," and warns me that perhaps I shall never go home. I have a longing to see the deep blue ocean again, to see my dear little village of Washington, to see the River Commi, the big pelicans that swim on it, and to get a peep at the big cranes that waddle on its shores, and the herds of huge hippopotami which are always in sight of my settlement.
A fine morning, just a little after sunrise, when the birds were singing, I went to the hut of Remandji and told him that I wanted him to send messengers to all the villages of the Apingi, for the Moguizi wanted to leave the country, and bid the people good-by. Good old Remandji looked me in the face steadily, and said, with a sad voice, "Moguizi, must you go—must you leave our land?" Then he called Minsho, the great-grandnephew of the King of the Ashira, who had brought me from that country of his, and said to him," The Spirit must go back; we are all sorry, but it is his will, and we must submit."
Then Remandji, with a heart too full to speak any more, got up and disappeared back of his house, and went into the house of the Alumbi, where the heads of some of his great ancestors were, and the ochre upon which they had rested. He rubbed his forehead, the middle of his chest, and all along his arm with it, and then came out.
There was a great commotion in the place when they heard I was going.
Messengers were sent to all the villages of the Apingi country, and the next day the people began to pour in from every quarter, loaded with provisions. The village could not hold all the people, so olakos, or "encampments" were made in the forest by them. Chief after chief made his appearance. These were the representatives of all the Apingi clans. The forest surrounding our village was filled with people who had come from the mountains, from down the river, and from the valleys.
The day for saying good-by had arrived. Two seats were placed in the middle of the street, close together—one for Remandji, the other for me. The drummers ranged themselves in a semicircle on one side, covered with fetiches. The chiefs or heads of clans had collected at Remandji's house. Suddenly the drums began to beat, and Remandji and the chiefs advanced toward my hut. The people, who completely filled the village, chanted a plaintive hymn, and when they came in front of my hut they stopped, and I came out and followed them. Remandji and I seated ourselves on the seats that had been reserved for us, while the old men and chiefs seated themselves on the ground in front of us. A profound silence reigned. Not a whisper could be heard. The eyes of every one were turned toward me.
The Ashiras who had taken me to the Apingi country were seated near me; in front, between the Apingi chiefs and Remandji and myself.
I got up, and took from off my shoulder the kendo with which I had been invested when made a king, and which I have described to you in "Lost in the Jungle," and rang it; then, with as loud a voice as I could possibly muster, I said to them, "Apingi, the Spirit, who loves you, is going away. The sun will not rise twice again over your village before I shall be far away, for to-morrow morning I shall start in the direction where the sun disappears beyond yonder forest, and where it sets. My voice you will hear no more. With your women and with yourselves I shall talk no more. Your children will not play with me any more. The ticking of my clock (pointing in the direction where it was) will go with me. Apingi, I love you. Apingi, you have been good to the Spirit. The Spirit will never forget you. Remandji, you are my friend; Remandji," said I once more, taking his two hands in mine, "you are my friend," and I looked steadily in his face.
THE SPIRIT TAKING LEAVE.
Then, ringing the kendo once more, I shouted with all my power, "Apingi, it is the last time I shall ring the kendo in your land. When you made me king you gave it to me, and as your chief I had to wear it. To you, Remandji, I now return it." But as I was ready to hand the kendo to Remandji, the people, with one voice, shouted, "Keep it! keep it in remembrance of us. Keep it, Spirit! keep it; for we want you to ring the kendo in the land of the spirits." So, in the midst of tremendous and exciting cheers, I replaced the kendo on my shoulder, and then seated myself. I have since presented the kendo to my much-venerated friend, Sir Roderick Murchison.
Then Remandji got up and said: "Apingi people, the Spirit is going away. The Spirit is to leave us. But the Spirit, can not be angry with us. The Spirit has said, and you have heard him say it, that he loved me and that he loved you. To-morrow morning the Spirit is going away. I have seen the Spirit; you have seen the Spirit. We have heard him talk, and he has given, us his hands many a time. Many of the things he has given us we wear. But many have not seen him; many have been afraid of him. By-and-by, when they come into our villages and do not see the Spirit, and we tell them once he was amongst us, they will say it is a lie—it is a lie; the Spirit has never come among you."
Then he seated himself, and immediately after the drums began to beat, and the people sung:
"The good Spirit is going away.
The good Spirit is going where the sun goes.
The good Spirit will talk to us no more.
The good Spirit will not hunt any more in our woods.
The good Spirit is the friend of Remandji.
The good Spirit loves Remandji.
Oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! oh!"
Then a large anvil of iron was brought before me by two slaves, and presented to me. It was used by the people in their blacksmithing operations, and must have weighed, I thought, about one hundred pounds. It was too heavy to carry away, and, besides, as it came from a far interior country, and was not made by the Apingi, I thought the people wanted it a good deal more than I did. So I said, "Apingi, take this anvil; you want it to work upon. It would be hard for you to get another. The Spirit wants you to work, for he loves people to be blacksmiths."
Then Remandji gave me two beautiful caps made of palm leaves, done in fine crochet work. These I have always kept, and they have excited the admiration of many ladies for the neatness of the work.
Then a great quantity of food was laid at my feet—bananas, sugar-cane, pea-nuts, pine-apples, plantains, fowls, smoked fish, etc. These things made a big pile before me, and the people shouted, "Moguizi, these you will eat on your way toward where the sun sets, while you are traveling in the big forest."
Then, in the presence of all the people, I gave to Remandji my knife and fork—the very knife and fork with which the people had seen me eat every day while I was among them.
Then, taking a pair of scissors from a bag at my side, I cut of a long lock of my black hair, and presented it to Remandji, telling him to keep it in remembrance of me. Here the excitement of the people became intense. Loud shouts rang from one end of the village to the other; the people became wild, jumped to and fro, and danced and sang—
"The Spirit has given his hair to Remandji,
The Spirit truly loves Remandji,
Remandji will always keep the hair of the Spirit."
When this was finished they came toward me in a half-sitting posture, looking me in the face, and clapping their hands, and singing—
"Spirit, why do you leave us?
Spirit, why are you going away?"
When these ceremonies were over the people separated and returned to their huts, or to their olakos in the forest.
In the afternoon I went into Remandji's house, and, at his own special request, I covered the walls with New York papers, which I had received while in the Ashira country. They had been left for me by some stray vessel on the coast, had found their way to Washington, and from Washington had gone to Goumbi, and from Goumbi Quengaeza had sent them to me at the head-waters of the Ovenga. Among them were copies of "Harper's Weekly," and of all the dailies that were at that time published in New York. What a treat it was!
He was very proud of these decorations, and said that when another Spirit came to see him he would show them to him; and if the people should say, "It is a lie, the Spirit has never come to your country," he would point to these papers as proof of his assertion. I warned him to guard against the white ants, as they are very fond of paper.
AN APINGI VILLAGE.