Colonial adventures in a 6 volume collection set on the 'Dark Continent'
In the first years of the twentieth century much of the African continent remained dark, mysterious and still full of strange and exotic possibilities. The British Empire ruled over vast areas of trackless plain and dense equatorial jungle, all had their fragile order maintained by a small cadre of government officials, policemen, soldiers and forces raised from the local populations. To those who only read about these remarkable men it seemed they led a life full of the potential for adventure of the most exciting kind. So it was unsurprising that popular authors of the day-including H. Rider Haggard and the author of these stories, Edgar Wallace, among them, readily chose colonial Africa—with its fierce tribes, witch doctors and magic, its dangerous animals and wild landscapes—as a rich and rewarding stage for their forays into fiction to meet the insatiable demand of the domestic audience. Wallace was a prolific author responsible for several series of popular novels featuring bold adventurers and crime fighters. For his series set in the highly evocative world of West Africa he created two of his most beloved and enduring characters, Colonial Administrator Sanders and his eccentric companion Lieutenant Tibbetts, known to all as 'Bones'. Sanders was probably based upon the real life character of Frederick Lugard who was the highly regarded creator and administrator of Northern Nigeria and whose incredible career can scarcely be said to have been less remarkable than that of his fictional counterpart. Those who love classic adventure especially set against an African backdrop will discover a rich vein of reading pleasure in the six Leonaur books (which include both short stories and novels) that comprise this special edition of the collected adventures of Sanders and Bones.
Volume one includes two books first published as individual volumes—Sanders of the River and The People of the River.
This series is available in softcover and hardcover with dustjacket for collectors.
Sanders took his steamboat, his Maxim gun, and his Houssa police, and went up the river, as far as the little stern-wheeler would carry him. At the end of every day’s journey he would come to a place where the forest had been cleared, and where, stacked on the beach, was an orderly pile of wood. Somewhere in the forest was a village whose contribution to the State this ever-replenished wood-pile was. Night and day two sounding men with long rods, sitting at the steamer’s bow, “stubbed” the water monotonously. Shoal, sandbank, channel, shoal. Sometimes, with a shuddering jar, the boat would slide along the flat surface of a hidden bank, and go flop into the deep water on the other side; sometimes, in the night, the boat would jump a bank to find itself in a little “lake” from which impassable ridges of hidden sand barred all egress. Then the men would slip over the sides of the vessel and walk the sandy floor of the river, pushing the steamer into deep water. When sixty miles from the Baptist Mission, Sanders got news from a friendly native:<br>
“Lord, the Lulungo came at early morning, taking away the missionary, his wife, and his daughter, to their city.”<br>
Sanders, yellow with fever, heavy-eyed from want of sleep, unshaven and grimy, wiped the perspiration from his head with the back of his hand.<br>
“Take the steamer up the river,” he said to Abiboo. “I must sleep.”<br>
He was awakened at four o’clock in the afternoon by the smashing of a water-bottle, which stood on a shelf by his bunk. It smashed for no apparent reason, and he was sprinkled with bits of glass and gouts of water.<br>
Then he heard a rifle go “pang!” close at hand, and as he sprang up and opened the wire-woven door of his cabin, Abiboo came to report.<br>
“There were two men firing from the bank,” he said. “One I have shot.”<br>
They were nearing the village now, and turning a sharp bend of the river they came in sight of it, and the little Zaire’s siren yelled and squealed defiantly.<br>
Sanders saw a crowd of men come down to the beach, saw the glitter of spears, and through his glasses the paint on the bodies of the men. Then six canoes came racing out to meet the steamer.<br>
A corporal of Houssas sat down nonchalantly on a little saddle-seat behind the brass Maxim, and gripped its handles.
“Five hundred yards,” said Sanders, and the corporal adjusted the sight without perceptible hurry.<br>
The canoes came on at a hurricane speed, for the current was with them. The man behind the gun polished a dull place on the brass water-jacket with the blue sleeves of his coat, and looked up.<br>
The canoes came nearer, one leading the rest in that race where hate nerved effort, and death was the prize.<br>
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!” laughed the little gun sardonically, and the leading canoe swung round broadside to the stream, because the men who steered it were dead, and half of the oarsmen also.<br>
There was a wild scramble on the second canoe; it swayed, capsized, and the river was full of black heads, and the air resounded with shrill cries.<br>
As for the remainder of the flotilla it swung round and made for safety; the machine-gun corporal slipped in another belt of cartridges, and made good practice up to nine hundred yards, from which two canoes, frantically paddled, were comparatively safe.<br>
Sanders put his tiny telegraph over to full speed ahead and followed.<br>
On the shore the Lulungo made a stand, and missiles of many kinds struck the little steamer. But the Maxim sprayed the village noisily, and soon there came a nervous man waving a palm leaf, and Sanders ceased firing, and shouted through his megaphone that the messenger must swim aboard.<br>
“Lord, we feel great shame,” said the man. He stood in a wet place on the deck, and little rills of water dripped from him. “We did not know we fought Sandi the lion, Sandi the buffalo, before the stamp of whose mighty feet—”<br>
Sanders cut him short.<br>
“There is a white man, a white woman, and a young girl in your city,” he said. “Bring them to the ship, and then I will sit in the palaver-house, and talk this matter over.”<br>
The man shuffled uneasily.<br>
“Master,” he said, “the white man died of the sickness; the woman is ill also; as for the girl, I know nothing.”<br>
Sanders looked at him, his head on one side like an inquisitive bird.<br>
“Bring me the white man, alive or dead,” he said softly; “also the white woman, well or ill, and the girl.”<br>
In an hour they brought the unfortunate missionary, having taken some time to make him look presentable. The wife of the missionary came in another canoe, four women holding her, because she was mad.<br>
“Where is the girl?” asked Sanders, He spoke very little above a whisper.<br>
The messenger made no answer.<br>
“The girl?” said Sanders, and lashed him across the face with his thin stick.<br>
“Master,” muttered the man, with his head on his chest, “the chief has her.”<br>
Sanders took a turn up and down the deck, then he went to his cabin and came out with two revolvers belted to his hips.<br>
“I will go and see this chief,” he said. “Abiboo, do you run the boat’s nose into the soft sand of the bank, covering the street with the Maxim whilst I go ashore.”<br>
He landed without opposition; neither gun banged nor spear flew as he walked swiftly up the broad street. The girl lay before the chief’s hut quite dead, very calm, very still. The hand to cut short her young life had been more merciful than Sanders dared hope. He lifted the child in his arms, and carried her back to the ship. Once he heard a slight noise behind him, but three rifles crashed from the ship, and he heard a thud and a whimper of pain.<br>
He brought the body on board, and laid it reverently on the little after-deck. Then they told him that the woman had died, and he nodded his head slowly, saying it was better so.<br>
The Zaire backed out into midstream, and Sanders stood watching the city wistfully. He wanted the chief of the Lulungo badly; he wanted, in his cold rage, to stake him out in spread-eagle fashion, and kill him with slow fires. But the chief and his people were in the woods, and there were the French territories to fly to.<br>
In the evening he buried the missionary and his family on a little island, then drove downstream, black rage in his soul, and a sense of his impotence, for you cannot fight a nation with twenty Houssa policemen.<br>
He came to a little “wooding” at dusk, and tied up for the night. In the morning he resumed his journey, and at noon he came, without a moment’s warning, into the thick of a war fleet.