Sacha Black has challenged her fellow bloggers to write about ‘The Edge’ this is my contribution.
“There’s no sense in going further, it’s the edge of civilisation.” Kipling.
“There is a white woman to see you.”
“Don’t be mad, there is no white woman for hundreds of miles.”
His servant handed him a small piece of card, ‘Miss Mary Kingsley’ – a visiting card, whoever sent visiting cards in the middle of Africa?
He stepped out of the room onto the veranda, a small woman sat there, she was wearing a tweed skirt and carried an umbrella.
She stood and held out her hand.
“Monsieur, I am sorry to disturb you but I wondered if you could assist me in hiring a boat.”
“Mademoiselle, that would be impossible.”
She looked curiously at him, then down towards the river, where more than a dozen canoes lay.
“Let me continue,” he said, “No one will go up river because it is impossible, the tribes that live there, the Fangwe are cannibals.”
“Oh no, I don’t want to visit the Fangwe.” He was puzzled, she pronounced the name in the native fashion, “You see, I have just come down river, I need a boat to take me to the coast.”
He looked in awe at the tiny woman. He knew it was impossible, but he knew it was true.
Mary Kingsley dressed for African exploration!
The African explorer Mary Kingsley (1862 – 1900) wore heavy fabrics, such as tweed, on her African expeditions and wrote of, ‘the blessings of a good thick skirt’. She used her umbrella to ward off both crocodiles and ‘over attentive natives’. On her descent from Mount Cameroon the French colonial authorities at first didn’t believe where she had been as it was impossible for a European to make the journey and survive.