Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/129

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One spread a blanket for his royal highness to sit on; two or more busied themselves getting the food together; one, parasol in hand, planted herself behind him to shield his precious head from the few sunbeams that filtered through the overhanging leaves, fanning him vigorously all the while.

“With the serving of the meal and the uncorking of a bottle in which he kept what he called his ‘private stock,’ he gave me further details of his methods with the natives. When a chief was at war with another tribe, for instance, he would move into the first village he came to, spread his own tent and those of his wives, post his retainers, and then despatch one of his men to the other combatant, commanding a powwow the next morning. Everybody would come—everybody would talk, including himself, for he spoke Kinkongo and Bangala perfectly. Then when he had patched up their difficulties, he would distribute presents, get everybody drunk on palm wine, and would move on next day with a contribution of carriers from both tribes, adding with a wink, ‘And the trick works every time.’”

Herbert paused for a moment and his lips curled.