Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, March 31, 1912, EDITORIAL, Image 13

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    The Omaha Sunday Bee
VOL. XLI-NO. 41.
Copyright. 1912, fey Aawrlcaa-IiXMiilasr. Great Britain Rights Rsasrvee.
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No Jfmerican Girl Was
Ever Wooed Like This
One, Who Went All Over
,,Wv;5, IXvSx H';i:-.::-'-v
Cannibal Kinf No. 7 Bringtnf
CrocodS to Mita Sunoatoa u
an "Engagement" Present :
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a v m m m m m M m m w m m m M m mam m m m m m m m i m m jd - i j . . i - t i . i v
ac r v -- i. . a
The Wonderful Headdress Miss
Simonton Could Hare Worn
Had She Married Cannibal King
. No. 1 Who Ruled in the Congo.
only white woman who ever
went Into the African Jungle
unescorted by white men. Miss
81monton is a Pittsburgh girl, so
perhaps that was why she wasn't
frightened. To study the habits
and customs of the natives at
first hand, she spent a year in
the West African cannibal country
on the line of the equator, and
among the most Interesting of her
experiences were the proposals of
marriage she received from time
to time from some twenty cannibal
kings. She tells here for the first
time the strange story of this
romance of the jungle.
Miss Simonton is now engaged
In-writing a novel founded upon
her investigations in the jungle.
The book, entitled "Hell's Play
ground," Is to be published by the
' liac.Mlllan Company within the
next few months.
By Ida Vera Simonton
TWENTY proposals in twelve
months and all from canni
bal kings. That was part of
my experiences In the West African
jungle, and I think It constitutes a
record. ' '
Not that I am at all vain about It,
for, after all, I was the first white
woman these savages had ever seen,
and it was undoubtedly the novelty
of my appearance rather than any
personal charms I might have pos
sessed that led them to make ad
vances to me.
The scene of this romance was
on the Ogowe River, which- follows
the line of the equator in the French
Congo. The river is lined with
dense forests. Inhabited by gorillas,
apes, chimpanzees, pythons and
other tropical beasts. My object
was to study the natives of the
jungle at first hand, and as I could
get no white person to accompany
me I decided to go alone.
My companions on the steamer
which left me at Cape Lopez, a little
trading port on the coast, declared
that it was suicidal for me to ven
ture into the interior alone, but I
hadn't travelled all the way from
America to return without getting
what I was after, and I decided to
go through with it
At Cape Lopes there were only
twenty-one white men and not a
single white woman. I remained
there for three weeks waiting for
the sailing of the little steamer to
take me up the Ogowe River into
the interior. The boat was piloted
by a giant savage. As we sailed op
the river this savage called my at
tention from time to time to the
hideous monkeys jumping from tree
to tree, huge twenty-foot pythons
sunning themselves near the shore
and the noses of crocodiles sticking
op out of the mud.
The news that a white woman
was in the jungle travelled quickly,
and whenever the boat stopped the
shore was crowded with curious na
tives. The thing that strack them as
Miss Vera Simontoa Who Trarel
' ed All I Through : Savage and
Unknown Africa by Herself.
They serenaded ma night after
, Bight, making tha jungle hideous
with the everlasting racket tfley
made oa their tom-toms, goag-gongs
and the mlbambL Weird and wild
were their tunes, bat anything but
, musical. '
That ! escaped harm from these
rejected cannibals Is really miracu
lous, snd I owe my salvation mala
ly to the fear they all had for the
French Government, tinder whose
protection they knew I was. .. But
though It wss all very flattering. It
was dangerous, and although tha
i principal dangers of the African
jungle are believed to be the sleep
ing sickness, the wild beasts and
cannibalism, I think the principal
danger I ran was in rejecting the
addresses of -the twenty cannibal
kings who proposed to me.
most strange was the fact that 1 had
neither master nor husband, tor
among them every woman becomes
a wife at the age of ten or twelve.
and their status Is that of chattels.
Shortly before we arrived at
Lamberene, a government and mis
' sion station. I received my first
cannibal proposal. It- was from
Orungu, a Kkomi chief, who had
heard of me some days before and
. had traversed the jungle to meet
me. He came loaded with gifts
native knives, tom-toms, beads and
quaint musical instruments.
He offered to make me his chief
wife he had twelve already. I told
him through an Interpreter that
with us thirteen was unlucky, and
I was too superstitious to accept
bis offer. But he wouldn't be dis
missed. He said he would dismiss
one of his other wives and then I
would be the twelfth, and I laugh
ingly told him I couldn't consent
to that He got real angry.
"You think you too thin. Me
quick make you fat, like other
wives," he said, and I have no
doubt he would, for among these
savages fat is the cardinal point
of beauty In the course of my
travels in the Jungle I found that
when a slim girl from ten to fonr
teen is betrothed she is put in the
fattening bouse, where she is .kept
close and fattened In the most hor
rible manner. She is forced to eat
bananas all day long. The ration
for a man in the Jungle consists of
only three bananas a day, but these
poor girls are made to consume from
ten to twenty, t. sides a mass of
, foo-foo as the native banana bread
Is called. By the time the marriage
takes place, the bride is fairly wab
bling in fat, and that was the pros
pect the Kkomi cannibal held out
to me!
It was only by promising to con
sider the offer that I was able to
get rid of him.
I stayed at Lambarene for four
weeks, making many excursions
Into native towns snd studying the
savages at close range. In one town,
away op In the Ashlre forest. I was
approached by a delegation of three
native women rigged np in cos
tomes more ludicrous than any
thing ever seen in musical comedy
They had been sent by tte native
chief, a cannibal by the name oi
i 1 i ,k. IrMMr of hlS
" " v"" r usr n .1- ir- . . . n . t l. 11 '
wlves, and the two otners ww vi course sui ine rungs wan I propose to me at once, oui I leu uxe a utue gin in a susogv
. nng-around-a-rosy game, with the ring made op of tha 20 Kings and
their astonishing 'engagement' presents."
hr ..i.tintu Thev brought gnu
and wanted to take me back with
them to become a wife of the chief.
They enlarged upon the delicacy of
cannibal fare.
"Man ketch pass all other flesh
for sweet for black man's mouth,"
tney said, which translated Into
English, meana that "human flesh
is the best eating of all."
Respectfully. I declined their
offer, declaring that I had to con
tinue my travels.
When I left Lambarene, the
French commandant Insisted upon
furnishing me with a canoe, ped
dlers, an interpreter and a military
escort of savages. The latter he
claimed, were absolutely necessary,
for I was in the very midst of the
cannibal country, where two white
. men had just been devoured by the
savages, and he would not permit
me to go further inland without
. them.
I consented, and there I was,
practically all alone In. savage
Africa, surrounded by mystery and
the charm of the great forests
afloat upon numerous rivers in a
dug-out canoe with a small deck
house in the stent, with almost
nude negroes for paddlers, an Eng
lish mission native for interpreter
end Senegalese and Madagascar
native guards! The guards them
selves would nave stricken terror
into the hearts of most people, tor
they were cannibals at heart if not
in practise, but I had great confi
dence in their loyalty to the French.
On several occasions they saved me
from my paddlers snd servants, who
became intoxicated, mutinied and
would have destroyed me.
At Bight when I lay awake in my
little camp bed under e small tent
oppressed by the terrific heat end
thinking of the savagery all around
me and the wild beasts kept at bay
only by the fires built around us, I
occasionally reached out to Bubo, tie
big Senegalese guard stretched full
length on the ground at my feet
and he would quiet my fears, as
suring me that no barm would come
to me while he was around, and I
believed' him.
After travelling many miles Into
the interior, I made my permanent
headquarters on a small island ia
Lake Fernand-Vas, almost upon the
equator. "My nearest white neigh
bor was forty miles away. Cannibal
settlements were all around me, al
though on the Island itself the only
other human inhabitants besides
myself and my servants were a can
nibal chief and hla family.
I hadn't been oa the island many
' weeks before this chief, who had
undertaken to protect me, offered
to make me hla wife. He pointed
out that in that way I would be ab
solutely safe from the dangers of
the jungle, whereas, alone I wss
always at toe mercy of my servants,
who might at any time prove
Naturally, I had to be most diplo
matic In rejecting him, although ap
parently he was not at all sensi
tive about it for he let everyone
know how he had fared, and the
result was that I was besieged with
offers from other chiefs, who
thought they might be more suc
cessful. These chiefs had various ways of
proposing. The first I knew, in the
majority of cases, that I bad smit
ten the heart of a chief, was when
a messenger would arrive from his
highness bearing me gifts. These
gifts were of all kinds. A dead
snake, an elephant's ear, an alli
gator's eggs, skins of wild animals
heavy with decaying flesh and odor,
carved ebonies and Ivories, skulls
of apes, monkeys, antelopes, and
gorillas, ' hippo teeth and . snake
skins were among the most re
markable. Then, In the most matter-of-fact
manner the messenger would begin
to pack up my things for me and
announce bis readiness to lead the
way back to hla chief, taking It ab
solutely for granted that I would ac
cept When I refused to go, the
savage would be stricken almost
dumb with surprise. Later, his
chief would come in person, and
after I had convinced him that I
really couldn't accept the honor he
wished to confer on me, he would
march around my quarters examin
ing my furniture, pictures and other
household articles.
The thing that attracted them
most was a piece of white oilcloth,
which covered my dining table and
which was decorated with a bold
conventional floral design of flaming
tomato red. . The savage loves red,
and these oannlbala offered me all
kinds of inducements to part with It
Kings and chiefs who came to pro
pose, remained to trade, giving me
ivory, animals skins, fruits, eggs,
chickens and native trinkets for tha
things they coveted. One native
chief who had heard of the tomato
red oilcloth and visited me out of
curiosity, offered to make me his
chief wife If I would give It to him.
I remained on the Island eight
mrnths and ia the French Congo
twelve months altogether. During
that time, at least twenty of the
native kings snd chiefs proposed
marriage to me. They all offered
to fatten me, concluding that I re
jected them because of my thin
ness, for I weighed only 110 pounds.
They offered to make me a member
of their weird secret societies, even
of the sacred Bondo.
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Domo-ess of ' p i'J f
Cannibal 3 I
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King J u' - 1
No. 6' - I
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Who Vg 1
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Simonton C I '
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Offer of ri f r Xif'
Marriage. - A '"Mr