Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/778

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salt, and knickknacks in exchange for their palm-oil, nuts, and ivory. The Europeans, of course, do not fail to make the bargains profitable to themselves. The unit of values is the "kru," and represents the quantity of goods which the man will receive for a definite quantity of his products. It is a very indefinite standard; for a kru of salt is not worth as much as a kru of cloth, and thus it varies according to the kind of goods in question. It may be rated at about twenty marks German. There are also the "kek," or the quarter-kru, and the "bar," or twentieth of a kru; whence apparently the kru may in the beginning have represented the English pound.

The exchange of his products keeps the Cameroons man very busy. He usually spends the day at the factory in bargaining. For the goods which he has actually brought for the satisfaction of his immediate wants, he usually receives a ticket or "book"; and this little paper is the one thing in the world for which he has a real respect, and by which he will swear. He can not read it, but he has learned that on presenting it he will receive what has been promised him. The mystery of this process seems to him a real enchantment, and he regards it accordingly; and the awe with which it inspires him is extended to all writing.

The objects offered in the factories are not produced by the Cameroons man. He is too idle for that, and prefers to be a middle-man. He buys the goods in "the bush," on such terms as to give him a tremendous profit in the whole transaction. In fact, he cheats the bushman, and because of it conceives a great contempt for him, which he expresses by calling every one whom he regards as dull a bushman.

From time to time the Cameroons man leaves his home, provisions his canoe, and, taking some of his wives with him, is rowed by his slaves into the bush, where he has his appointed trading posts and purveyors. When his boat or boats are filled, he returns to the Cameroons in grand style, and celebrates the end of his expedition with a feast.

The Cameroons man is also a sportsman on the water. The canoe is an exceedingly unstable craft when an inexperienced man is trying to manage it, but the blacks handle it with great skill, and, whether it be a large boat carrying many persons (some of them have capacity for sixty), or built for himself alone, he propels it swiftly, safely, and accurately. A canoe skimming over the water in the panoply of war offers an attractive sight. The boats are handsomely painted in gay colors, and have artistic figure-heads, chiefly representing birds or men, or creatures of fancy. The crew sit on the sides and propel it by dexterous manipulations of the paddles, which they hold with one hand at the end of the handle, and the other close down by the blade; and