Two missionaries lost in the jungle. Can you smell that?
"Remember our house in Leeds, dear?" she asked to break the monotony of the day.
"Yes," I replied, and I did.
"Remember how the roses smelled in the morning, how the dew glistened on the petals in the morning sun?" she smiled. "I always thought the dew drops shined more brilliantly than any diamonds on Earth."
"Yes," I repeated, not knowing what else to say. "It was a nice house."
"We had such lovely friends there."
I said nothing. There was no use torturing myself with a scrap book recollection of all the good things I had enjoyed in my life. I had enjoyed them and that was enough.
But my wife seemed to want to escape for a moment. So I let her. What harm was there in that?
"I recall the time Noddie got her auto stuck in the ditch out front," she laughed abruptly, too loudly I thought. "She practically ruined our hedgerow." My wife paused for a moment, her voice assuming a nostalgic tone, "I wonder if those shrubberies you planted ever grew to match the rest of the hedge . . . ?"
It seemed silly to me at the moment, her worrying about a hedgerow growing on another continent, thousands of miles to the north. What purpose would it serve to know such a thing?
She started to cry again. "Oh," she moaned, "I wish we had never come to this God forsaken place."
"Now, now, dear," I soothed her, as I had been doing since our ordeal began yesterday. "Everything is going to be fine. You wait and see. Everything will turn out wonderful in the end, I'm certain of it."
But I didn't believe my own lies, not a word of it. My wife had stopped believing hours ago, but at least it was something to say . . . something to DO.
"Will we ever get out of here?"
"Yes, of course. You must have faith in that, darling. Try to, will you?"
She sniffled herself silent once more. "I'll try."
"That's a good girl."
My hands were numb from the restrictive bonds. The aborigines had left us tied up in the sun to sweat out our fate. I knew they would return soon to finish the terror they had begun.
The jungle was slowly dimming with the fall of night. In the distance there was a clatter of wood against wood, crude music to celebrate a crude ritual. Bonfires leapt into the sky.
I still wasn't certain if we had stumbled onto a cannibal tribe, or not. Not all Christian Missionaries in Africa enjoyed the favor of the heathens.
And it seemed there would be two less wretched souls in the forest by the time the sun rose tomorrow morning. I listened to my wife weeping for several minutes before I realized she wasn't alone. Sobbing helplessly, I surrendered myself to my fate.