Gateway to the Classics: Lost in the Jungle by Paul du Chaillu
Lost in the Jungle by  Paul du Chaillu

I am Made a King

A great crowd of strangers.—I am made a king.—I remain in my kingdom.—Good-by to the young folks.

The village was crowded with strangers once more. All the chiefs of the tribe had arrived. What did it all mean?

They had the wildest notions regarding me. I was the most wonderful of creatures—a mighty spirit. I could work wonders—turn wood into iron, leaves of trees into cloth, earth into beads, the waters of the Rembo Apingi into palm wine or plantain wine. I could make fire, the matches I lighted being proof of it.

What had that immense crowd come for? They had met to make me their king. A kendo, the insignia of chieftainship here, had been procured from the Shimba people, from whose country the kendo comes.

The drums beat early this morning; it seemed as if a fête-day was coming, for every one appeared joyous. I was quite unprepared for the ceremony that was to take place, for I knew nothing about it; no one had breathed a word concerning it to me. When the hour arrived I was called out of my hut. Wild shouts rang through the air as I made my appearance—"Yo! yo! yo!" The chiefs of the tribe, headed by Remandji, advanced toward me in line, each chief being armed with a spear, the heads of which they held pointed at me. In rear of the chiefs were hundreds of Apingi warriors, also armed with spears. Were they to spear me? They stopped, while the drummers beat their tam-tams furiously. Then Remandji, holding a kendo in his hand, came forward in the midst of the greatest excitement and wild shouts of "The moguizi is to be made our king! the moguizi is to be made our king!"

When Remandji stood about a yard from me a dead silence took place. The king advanced another step, and then with his right hand put the kendo on my left shoulder, saying, "You are the spirit whom we have never seen before. We are but poor people when we see you. You are one of those of whom we have heard, who came from nobody knows where, and whom we never expected to see. You are our king. We make you our king. Stay with us always, for we love you!" Whereupon shouts as wild as the country around came from the multitude. They shouted, "Spirit, we do not want you to go away—we want you forever!"

Immense quantities of palm wine, contained in calabashes, were drank, and a general jollification took place in the orthodox fashion of a coronation.

From that day, therefore, I may call myself Du Chaillu the First, King of the Apingi. Just fancy, I am an African king! Of all the wild castles I ever built when I was a boy, I never dreamed that I should one day be made king over a wild tribe of negroes dwelling in the mountains of Equatorial Africa.

I will remain in my kingdom for a while, and see every thing strange that there is in it. In the mean time, dear Young Folks, I bid you good-by, promising that, should you like to hear more of the country I have explored, I will, in another year, bring you back to the strange land where you and I have had so many adventures together.

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