A VERY lively day today was preceded by almost as lively a night. It was known that some of the leading chiefs now in Kumassi, and even Prempeh himself, might endeavour to slip away during the night; therefore every road and bush path leading out of the place was quietly piqueted by our levy. During the day piquets had been posted on all the main paths, more for protecting villagers bringing in supplies to the market than for any defensive purposes. But after dark these piquets were strengthened, and extra ones were added to prevent egress as well as ingress by natives.
It was soon evident, from the prisoners whom the outposts secured, that the palace people were anxiously reconnoitring the various roads, only to find them all barred. John Ansah was seen by several of the piquets, and was finally captured by one posted on a by-path leading from the palace to the bush.
In the evening a council had been hastily summoned at the palace, and it sat nearly all the night.
After going round all the piquets, we put out our torches, and went as what is termed a "hanging patrol"—a party of men who "hang about" for a few minutes here and for an hour there, as the commander may deem desirable.
Our hanging about was chiefly near the palace. Twice we visited the sacred fetish grove, in front of it, where some newly-turned earth made one suspicious of hidden treasure that they might think necessary to dig up and remove to safer quarters.
Then we went and squatted in the shadow of some huts, and had hardly settled ourselves when a gleam of light came from the palace doorway, and a procession with torches issued forth? Was it Prempeh making off? The time was now three o'clock, and there was a thick, wet mist. The string of white-robed figures, looking most picturesque in the strong light of the torches, drew silently near, and then we saw, from the big hand-screen carried by the attendants, that the queen-mother was the leading notability in the group. Silently they passed up a by-street within twenty yards of us, and very softly we followed them until we had marked them down into the queen's residence. Then back to our ambush. In a few minutes more a councillor on his way home, attended by a slave boy carrying his stool, walked into our midst. He was too startled to speak before he had been told that silence would save his life. Soon a fast footed pair of men were heard pattering up. Just as they came close upon us, they suspected something. One of them stood within arm's length of me, peering into the darkness in the opposite direction. I stood up, and he did not move. I reached out and got hold of him, and luckily gripped the gun he was carrying. Others of the patrol were on to him in a moment, but he fought like a maniac, wriggling and twisting till he got one hand free and dived it into the back of his skirt; but he was pinned in good time, and a handsome knife in a leopard-skin scabbard was added to our spoil.
His companion had meantime made a dash for liberty, but was tripped up and caught by a couple of quick Adansis. He proved to be a servant carrying his master's spare clothes and bedding.
Hardly had these been stowed in the shade ere an old man was heard coming slowly, slipperty slop in his sandals, evidently loafing home after the council. We sat silent, and he passed between our ranks without ever dreaming that he was within arm's length of a dozen-enemies. One or two more councillors fell into our hands, and then reveille began to sound in one camp after another round the town; strings of water-carriers began to pass our lurking-place; the mist grew lighter overhead, and our night-watch was over. Prisoners were separately examined and released the armed man minus his gun, sword, and knife; and soon we were back in camp, breakfasting with the keenest of appetites, and cheered by the knowledge that we had got Prempeh and the queen-mother "marked down" all safe for the morning's doings.