HARRISON HIGHTOWER RETURNING FROM AFRICA, is an article from The New York Globe Telegraph.
HARRISON HIGHTOWER RETURNING FROM AFRICA
Harrison Hightower Ⅲ's Congo River Expedition
We hope you will enjoy this thrilling account of Harrison Hightower's recent expedition. We received this story by express delivery only few days ago, sent to us directly from Harrison Hightower Ⅲ himself from Africa. You can almost feel the heat of the jungle coming off the page!
Early next week, around December 28th, Harrison Hightower's yacht is expected to return to the New York Shipyards. On December 31th, New Years Eve 1899, he will hold a grand celebration parade down Park Avenue, which will end at Hotel Hightower where an exclusive party will be held. The exact plans have not yet been made public, bet we will share them with you at the first opportunity. We hope that you will be on hand at the docks on the 28th to cheer his triumphant return from Africa! And if you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the amazing and mysterious Shiriki Utundu!
A JOURNEY THROUGH DARKNESS - By Tiger Harrownashio
Eleven months ago Harrison Hightower Ⅲ embarked on the most challenging expedition in his life as an explorer. It was to be an epic exploration of the Congo River basin, one of the most dangerous and untamed regions in Africa.
The Congo River is a vast mosquito infested waterway, over two thousand miles long, which penetrates dense jungles and steaming swamps deep into unexplored regions of the Dark Continent, through lands that have been forgotten by time. Hightower had heard many spine-tingling tale, but was not afraid. He'd been in Africa before. He'd endured hardships throughout East Africa, and outwitted the clever tribes on the crags of Victoria Falls, but nothing in his previous voyages had prepared him for the dangers that awaited him along the streaming, crocodile-infested waters of the Congo.
January 1899: New York City was covered in snow, but at that moment Harrison Hightower Ⅲ stood on the deck of his private yacht, “Hightower's Pride”, as it steamed toward the port of Loango, French Congo along the west coast of Africa. The air was so hot and wet that the men looked like they were boiling alive. But Hightower laughed. “Buck up, Boys. It's bound to get hotter before we're through.”
The Congo has a fearsome reputation, and in spite of progress, it is still one of the most dangerous rivers in Africa. Although there is a French colonial presence along the coast, upriver areas are still under the dominion of hostile native tribes, many of whom practice primitive rited beyond the imagination of civilized minds. Hightower listened unmoved as the French colonial administrator begged him to abandon the expedition. “Zere is unrest upriver, Monsieur Hightower. Mon Dieu, it is much too dangerous for you.” But Hightower was determined to press on, no matter the cost in money or lives. He quickly assembled a small army of men, and soon they were paddling a convoy of canoes deep into Congo Free State.
He was accompanied by his valet Mr.Smelding, eighteen armed henchmen, three photographers, a cook, a translator and thirty native porters. But his most important companion was with him as well: his indomitable will The goal: to seek rare artifacts and precious works of African art, and rescue them from the savages who hoarded them in squalid seclusion. Hightower's motto: “Primitive art is wasted on primitive people.”
It proved to be an arduous journey, to say the least. Native tribes assaulted the expedition from both sides of the riverbank, frightening away many of the porters, and causing an equal number to lose their lives in grisly ways. By May two thirds of the expedition were gone, and he hadn't acquired a single artifact, because wherever they went the hostile natives attacked without mercy. The expedition was quickly becoming a fiasco, and several times the men begged Hightower to turn back. But as always, he was driven on by his relentless determination to wrestle victory from the jaws of defeat.
July 16th: Hightower's dwindling expedition found themselves paddling for their lives upriver, with an angry tribe in hot pursuit. Arrows were falling all around. Spears the size of flagpoles caused men to cry out in horror. Screams echoed from the pitiless jungle walls. Fierce, chanting natives in war canoes were gaining on Hightower's men. All seemed lost. But at that moment Hightower noticed, a twisted tree near the mouth of a tributary. A pair of green glowing eyes had been artfully painted onto one of the…[cut off]
...intuition gleaned from twenty-five years of adventure, steered his men up that tributary, and once they 'd passed beneath the eyes, the angry natives broke off their pursuit.
Hightower's interpreter recognized the green eyes, and fearfully said they were now in the territory of the feared Mtundu Tribe. Mtundu means "Mischievous" in the local dialect, for they are known to work black magic mischief against their enemies. The interpreter begged Hightower to turn back. But with the angry tribe waiting for them downriver, they paddled their canoes up the ominous tributary, through festering forests that were sickeningly overgrown with vivid green moss.
The men were overjoyed when the people of the Mtundu tribe welcomed the expedition with open arms and friendly faces, and bade them to come to their village for a celebration. They cautiously asked Hightower to extinguish his cigar, for they did not allow fires in their shabby little village. Their chief, a jolly but primitive fellow named Kijanji was particularly… [cut off]
During the ensuing celebration Hightower learned that the Mtundu tribe was protected by an ancient little idol called Shiriki Utundu, which they kept on an altar at the center of the village. It was an ugly little thing; carved from wood in an ancient time, and Other tribes in cooked with shards of metal and nails, which were supposedly pounded into it by a tribal shaman in order to make it work work that black magic. He also learned that Shiriki Utundu was one of the most valuable and important idols in the whole region. It would be quite a prize for an antiquities collector.
He asked Chief Kijanii if he could hold it and the Chief reluctantly allowed him himself. The two of them even posed for photograph with the idol commemorate the moment Hightower's African Art Collection. Hightower wanted to be fair, so he tried to purchase the idol with beads and small trinkets
The Chief was no longer smiling. He furiously snatched the idol out of Hightower's hands and placed it back on its altar. Hightower had been given no choice but to take the idol by force. On his command, Hightower's henchmen drew their hidden weapons, fully prepared to battle their way out of the village. But the tribe merely stood there, staring silently and expressionlessly as Hightower took Shiriki Utundu again from its altar. The ragged metal shards on the idol cut Hightower's hand, and although the Chief seemed to smile at the sight of Hightower's blood, he didn't raise a hand to prevent the abduction. The eyes of the villagers were filled with hatred, glaring horrible hatred, but their rotten toothy mouths were all smiling. Great wide grins of… [cut off]
…primitive people, in his experience, did many strange and inexplicable things. The interpreter said the idol might be cursed, but in the following days they discovered that Shiriki Utundu was a harbinger of good luck. The tribe that had pursed them earlier saw Hightower holding the idol aloft and immediately tossed their weapons in the river. They took the expedition back to their village and gave Hightower everything he asked for. The idol had the same effect in every village the expedition visited subsequently. Hightower roped it on the prow of his canoe, and was welcomed with open arms in every tribe up and down the vast Congo River. By the time he was through, he had collected more artifacts then he had ever before.