Edward Lucas White
by Edward Lucas White
"It stands to reason," said Twombly, "that a man must accept of his
own eyes, and when eyes and ears agree, there can be no doubt. He has
to believe what he has both seen and heard."
"Not always," put in Singleton, softly.
Every man turned toward Singleton. Twombly was standing on
hearthrug, his back to the grate, his legs spread out, with his habitual air
of dominating the room. Singleton, as usual, was as much as possible
effaced in a corner. But when Singleton spoke he said something. We
faced him in that flattering spontaneity of expectant silence which
invites utterance.
"I was thinking," he said, after an interval, "of something I both saw
and heard in Africa."
Now, if there was one thing we had found impossible, it had been to
elicit from Singleton anything definite about his African experiences.
As with the Alpinist in the story, who could tell only that he went up
and came down, the sum of Singleton's revelations had been that he
went there and came away. His words now riveted our attention at once.
Twombly faded from the hearthrug, but not one of us could ever recall
having seen him go. The room readjusted itself, focused on Singleton,
and there was some hasty and furtive lighting of fresh cigars. Singleton
lit one also, but it went out immediately, and he never relit it.
Chapter I
We were in the Great Forest, exploring for pigmies. Van Rieten had a
theory that the dwarfs found by Stanley and others were a mere
cross-breed between ordinary negroes and the real pigmies. He hoped

to discover a race of men three feet tall at most, or shorter. We had
found no trace of any such beings.
Natives were few, game scarce; food, except game, there was none; and
the deepest, dankest, drippingest forest all about. We were the only
novelty in the country, no native we met had ever seen a white man
before, most had never heard of white men. All of a sudden, late one
afternoon, there came into our camp an Englishman, and pretty well
used up he was, too. We had heard no rumor of him; he had not only
heard of us but had made an amazing five-day march to reach us. His
guide and two bearers were nearly as done up as he. Even though he
was in tatters and had five days' beard on, you could see he was
naturally dapper and neat and the sort of man to shave daily. He was
small, but wiry. His face was the sort of British face from which
emotion has been so carefully banished that a foreigner is apt to think
the wearer of the face incapable of any sort of feeling; the kind of face
which, if it has any expression at all, expresses principally the
resolution to go through the world decorously, without intruding upon
or annoying anyone.
His name was Etcham. He introduced himself modestly, and ate with
us so deliberately that we should never have suspected, if our bearers
had not had it from his bearers, that he had had but three meals in the
five days, and those small. After we had lit up he told us why he had
"My chief is ve'y seedy," he said between puffs. "He is bound to go out
if he keeps this way. I thought perhaps..."
He spoke quietly in a soft, even tone, but I could see little beads of
sweat oozing out on his upper lip under his stubby mustache, and there
was a tingle of repressed emotion in his tone, a veiled eagerness in his
eye, a palpitating inward solicitude in his demeanor that moved me at
once. Van Rieten had no sentiment in him; if he was moved he did not
show it. But he listened. I was surprised at that. He was just the man to
refuse at once. But he listened to Etcham's halting, difficult hints. He
even asked questions.

"Who is your chief?"
"Stone," Etcham lisped.
That electrified both of us.
"Ralph Stone?" we ejaculated together.
Etcham nodded.
For some minutes Van Rieten and I were silent. Van Rieten had never
seen him, but I had been a classmate of Stone's, and Van Rieten and I
had discussed him over many a campfire. We had heard of him two
years before, south of Luebo in the Balunda country, which had been
ringing with his theatrical strife against a Balunda witch-doctor, ending
in the sorcerer's complete discomfiture and the abasement of his tribe
before Stone. They had even broken the fetish-man's whistle and given
Stone the pieces. It had been like the triumph of Elijah over the
prophets of Baal, only more real to the Balunda.
We had thought
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