When do you start downriver? And they will see to it that their Bwana does not mistake his direction. And she gave him a sharp look. Quiet submission was not what she had expected. It was not in his nature, and she felt uneasy.
Then it flashed into her mind that he might not be as well as he said he was. She smiled and said:. There were many words in Swahili speech that had no meaning for her, because the Abama dialect had no words to match them. He was silent, balancing an answer in his mind. But under his steady gaze she felt the blood rise to her head and pulse in her ears. To hide her confusion she got to her feet, and as she did so a deep-toned voice shouted her name. She turned quickly to see Ekoti come running across the clearing, the tails of his leopard-skin kroos whipping about his black, muscular legs.
He came to a stand before her, his great chest heaving as he fetched his breath. As Rick got to his feet the young chief's keen eyes came to focus on him. Stern disapproval was written on his face, and his greeting was coldly formal:. She could not find you, and when she came back she said she was sure that the young Bwana had taken—". Ekoti's eyes became uneasy. He looked up at the sky and then down at the ground.
Who dares to silence my drums?
Stories of Sheena - Queen of the Jungle by James Anson Buck (1 star ratings)
When the drum first spoke the witch doctors went to a secret meeting place, and when they came to their villages they told the people that the drum was the ghost-voice of Yamo Galagi. It was a great magic, they said, and that all the young warriors must make ready to trek into the Kalunda country. The chief took his time about answering, and that the worst had yet to come was made plain by his hesitation and the way he shifted from one foot to the other.
But the call of the drum was stronger than our taboo. When it spoke again a few young men stole away when all were sleeping. On the next night a few more. And so it has been every night.
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Aie, truly, it was as if a ghost walked into the villages, touched each man on the shoulder as he lay on his bed, and said: It was buried with him and no man knows where. She gave it to him, and he examined the ivory haft with a frown between his eyes. Then he nodded his head with a grunt of satisfaction and said: They tell a story of bygone days.
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And then he gave her a full account of all he had learned of the Abamas at Benguela. At first Sheena could not understand how he could know so much about her people, never having lived among them. But as he got deeper into the story she was remembering certain things N'bid Ela had told her, so long ago that she had forgotten them until this moment.
And once Ekoti, his eyes big with wonderment, broke in: I have heard the old ones speak of such days. But Sheena silenced him with a quick gesture, and Rick went on: It may be that the man who dropped it got it in trade," he concluded. No, the drum calls the Abama warriors to Massumba, I think. Sheena was silent for a moment, turning it all over in her mind. Her keen brain was quick to grasp the significance of what Rick had told her.
It must be silenced, Ekoti," she added, turning to the chief. If you are not afraid of ghosts, we two will go to Massumba—". Now, it flashed into her mind that, with the Abamas worked up, excited by the fetish-call of the big drum, she would not be able to get porters to take him to the coast.
And there was a meaner thought—it might be well for him to learn that to trek with a safari was one thing, and to trek with Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, quite another thing. Truly, such a trek would put an end, once and for all, to any notion he might have of living in the jungle with her. She laughed softly and said:. Rick's lips rounded to an oath, and he would have started to run after her had not Ekoti caught his arm. Always she will be in the trees ahead of us.
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You and I, we will follow on the ground, as real people must. Rick looked up the game trail, into the misty green of which Sheena had already vanished, rubbing the nape of his neck with his hand. He muttered something under his breath which would have made the Jungle Queen's ears burn had she heard it, then he turned to Ekoti and said gravely:.
Then he looked down at Rick's empty holster and asked: Ekoti soon spotted it, gleaming in the grass where it had been knocked from Rick's hand. He picked it up and gave it to Rick. I will teach him to shoot with it. But when he came back the Abama chief's face was set in stern lines. It will be good to speak of it before I take your gift. I know what is in your heart. Sheena's skin is white, your skin is white.
It would be good for you to mate with her, you think. It may be so. But I tell you now that if you try to take her to the coast with you this spear will drink your blood! For a time, black and white, both perfect specimens of their race, looked deeply each into the other's eyes. I will speak as plainly. I will take Sheena to the coast with me, but only when she asks me to do so.
Meanwhile, I wish to be your friend. Freely, I give you this gun, and I will teach you to shoot with it, even though the first bullet you fire finds my heart. Oh yes, we will be too old to fight then! FROM a projecting point of rock which dominated a broad expanse of tumbled uplands that had known the rack and twist of volcanic convulsion, Sheena watched Rick and Ekoti weaving their way between huge boulders and clumps of thorny mimosa bush. They were deep in the Kalunda country now, but far off still the head of the Buffalo Mountain stood against the sky in lines of vapory blue.
In the middle distance there were strange formations of crumbling sandstone, banded with the spectral white of quartz, queer piles designed by the gods in sardonic mood. To the north there was a great fault through which the river wiggled, its banks lined with thickets of thorny bamboo more impenetrable than any barbed-wire entanglement.
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Beyond rose the banks of the evergreen jungle, tall resin trees linked by fantastic creepers or spiky rattans. Only once before had Sheena ventured into this country. In this valley, she knew, lived the dwarf-people, the Kobi, wooly-haired and entirely naked. But they were meat-eaters, man-eaters, who hunted with tiny, poison-tipped arrows. She judged that the young men of the Abama clans, trekking for Massumba, would swing wide of this stretch of jungle on that account, and this meant that, by following the river, she could be at Massumba at least two marches ahead of them.
But it would be necessary for Rick and Ekoti to camp here and build a light raft. With this settled in her mind, the Jungle Queen's attention was drawn to Rick's battered topee bobbing above a patch of bush, and her eyes were clouded by a troubled look.