-THE KONGO AND GUINEA COAST FOREST 727. Location and climate.—Persons sail ing along the west coast of Africa from Senegal to Angola will see three thousand miles of ocean waves breaking on the white, sandy beach that lies stretched at the foot of a dark green forest. The forest extends from the coast eastward to the Central African plateau, near Lake Tanganyika and Lake Albert. (Al, Fig. 445.) Twice each year, once in the fall and once like chimpanzee. With the forest people the word "arrive" is "to come out of the forest"; their word for "depart" is "to go into the forest" If a village is abandoned, vines soon climb over the huts and the forest quickly swallows up the little clearing. Man must fight this great forest for his very life. Is it any wonder that so few white men have gone to this country, and that the few who have gone have lived only a few years? Only the native negro, who has been there for ages, seems able to endure the climate.
729. Pests. — The heat and the moisture make a climate where man has less help and more trouble from animals than in any other part of the world. The heavy rains make ponds and swamps in which mosquitoes breed in countless millions. But mosquitoes do not buzz and bite alone. They are accompanied by biting gnats and flies, and by stinging insects that burrow themselves into one's flesh until it smarts like fire. One of these little pests may burrow under a toenail and perhaps make such a bad sore that the nail comes off. The worst of all the insect pests is the tsetse fly. Its bite carries to men and animals the disease called sleeping sickness. Sometimes al most all the people in certain districts die of this dreadful disease,which also kills cattle, horses, mules, and sheep, leaving much of the forest region without any beasts of burden whatever. Therefore, not having tamed the elephant which lives in this forest, man must become his own burden bearer (Fig. 533).
730. The are no roads here, but only little paths through the forest, and along these paths move the human freight trains of the jungle. Lines of sweating
black men and boys, walking barefooted and almost naked, but singing as they go, follow the forest paths. On his head each carries a bundle of freight weighing fifty or sixty pounds.
The train of carriers, creeping along the forest paths as ants creep through the grass, comes at last to a clearing, where the sun glares down on a village of grass houses. The village is surrounded by a stockade, or strong fence of logs. Black men are on guard at the gate to keep out possible enemies.
731. Village life in the equatorial forest.— The village is beside the deep, still-flowing Kongo, where the hippopotamus bellows in the night. By day the flat-bottomed river steamboat chugs along nature's great, wind ing water road beside the overhanging forest.
The forest path ends at the riverbank, and there the carriers put their bales of rubber, palm kernels, and ivory into the corrugated iron warehouse of a Belgian merchant. Soon the goods will be taken down to the sea by river boats, and trains that go around the falls. The carriers return along the forest path to their distant village home. This time their burden is cotton cloth, knives, and copper wire, also bright colored glass beads for the women and children. These things have come up the Kongo by boat and train. From what port? 732. The jungle school. — The jungle people have neither books nor schools, but the children study living things and learn from the parents. The jungle boy knows the animals and trees of his forest better than the average American boy knows anything, except possibly baseball. Jungle fathers teach the boys how to hunt and fish, and how to make all the things they need. The mothers and grandmothers teach the girls how to make a garden, to cook, and to take care of the children. The jungle peo ple have long known how to make iron, to tan leather, to spin, and to weave a little cloth.