London to Banana.
There was no time to spare. The ship sailed from Southampton in forty eight hours and I had only just arranged to accompany Lord Mountmorres on a tour in the Congo Free Stale. He was going out for the purpose of discovering the true condition of affairs in that country and of writing articles thereupon for the Globe but incidentally hoped to have some big game shooting. After one has read much about a country it is always interesting to visit it and as the prospect of good sport was added in this case, I at once decided to brave the cannibals, wild beasts, and—most dangerous of all—the climate, and to seize the opportunity to visit the Congo.
It was necessary to purchase a complete camp outfit, suitable clothes and much food-stuff and to arrange certain affairs at home. The first part was however rendered easy for it was only necessary to duplicate the order already given by Lord Mountmorres, and with a rapidity which could not be equalled anywhere else, the Army and Navy Stores and Messrs. Silvers packed and despatched tent, furniture and cases in a few hours.
As there are many and varied discomforts which cannot be avoided when travelling in the Congo, or any other tropical and half-civilised country, it is just as well not to add to their number by omitting to benefit by the experience of others. A few hints may therefore be inserted here without apology for the benefit of other travellers. The first articles to be considered are a tent, bed, and mosquito-net. Now when the usual oblong tent with a penthouse roof is pitched and the bed made, surmounted by the mosquito-net, the only place in which there is room for it, is in the middle of the tent between the two poles. The result is that as the roof slopes, it is absolutely impossible to stand upright on either side and much space is therefore wasted. It would be better to arrange for the bed to stand close to one side of the tent and for the net to be attached to the sloping roof leaving the middle and the other side free for table and chair. Circles of hooks for clothes should be attached to the poles and large pockets in the walls of the tent itself are useful. It is needless to specify particulars about furniture, and I will only say that the folding or concertina pattern bed, bath, washhandstand and table proved very comfortable and withstood the great strain of being packed and unpacked nearly every day for six months without breaking down. A strong, long lounge chair is absolutely necessary. In climates where there is much glare, everything should be made of green canvas. The well-known Lord's patent petrol lamp is certainly the best and although it necessitates carrying a good supply of oil, is cleaner and more convenient than candles. There is not space here to give a list of all the necessities for travelling and camping in the forests of Africa and it is enough to say that one has to carry a complete house, furniture, kitchen utensils and much food. Wheat and milk cows do not exist in the forest and very little grows which is edible....