THE TOWN of Boma lay on the Congo River's north shore, about fifty miles in from the Atlantic Ocean. Besides its African inhabitants, sixteen whites lived there, most of them Portuguese—rough, hardbitten men used to wielding the whip and the gun—who ran a few small trading posts. Like Europeans for several centuries before them, these traders had never trekked inland through the forbidding jumble of rocks lining the great river on the tumultuous 220 miles of intermittent rapids that carried it down to sea level.
On August 5, 1877, an hour after sunset, four bedraggled black men walked out of the bush at Boma. They had come from a village some two days' walk inland and were carrying a letter addressed "To any Gentleman who speaks English at Embomma."
I have arrived at this place from Zanzibar with 115 souls, men, women, and children. We are now in a state of imminent starvation ... but if your supplies arrive in time, I may be able to reach Embomma within four days ... better than all would [be] ten or fifteen man-loads of rice or grain.... The supplies must arrive within two days, or I may have a fearful time of it among the dying.... Yours sincerely, H.M. Stanley, Commanding Anglo-American Expedition for Exploration of Africa.
At dawn the next day the traders sent Stanley porters carrying potatoes, fish, rice, and canned food. They realized instantly what the letter meant: Stanley had crossed the entire African continent, from east to west. But unlike Verney Lovett Cameron, the only European to do this before him, he had emerged at the Congo's mouth. He must therefore have followed the river itself, becoming the first white man to chart its course and to solve the mystery of where it came from.
Resupplied just in time, Stanley and the haggard survivors of his expedition slowly walked the rest of the way to Boma. Since leaving Zanzibar, just off the east coast, they had covered a zigzag course of more than seven thousand miles and had been traveling for more than two and a half years.
A Welshman masquerading as a native-born United States citizen, Stanley was both the Anglo and the American of his Anglo-American Expedition. The name, however, acknowledged that this trip, far more expensive and ambitious than his search for Livingstone, was financed both by James Gordon Bennett's New York Herald and Edward Levy-Lawson's London Daily Telegraph. Stanley's dispatches appeared in both papers, and he bestowed the names of their owners on his route across Africa: Mount Gordon-Bennett, the Gordon-Bennett River, the Levy Hills, Mount Lawson. He left his own name on Stanley Falls in the center of the continent and on a spot about a thousand miles downstream, at the head of the rapids, where the Congo River widened into a lake. He claimed that naming the latter was the idea of his second-in-command, Frank Pocock, who "cried out, 'Why ... this signal expanse we shall call Stanley Pool!'" Pocock was not able to confirm this; he drowned in the river soon after christening, or not christening, this portion of it.
On the eve of his formidable trans-African journey, Stanley had once again fallen in love, this time with Alice Pike, a seventeen-year-old American heiress. Falling for a flighty teenager half his age just before leaving for three years was not the most likely path to wedded bliss, which may have been just what attracted Stanley, who remained fearful of women. He and Alice agreed to marry on his return, signed a marriage pact, and fixed the date of the wedding.
It was after his new love that Stanley named the expedition's key means of transport. The Lady Alice was a forty-foot boat of Spanish cedar, divided into five sections. When the sections were fastened together, the boat could be rowed along African lakes and rivers; when they were separated and slung from poles, they could be carried overland by teams of porters for hundreds of miles.
Stanley was always uncomfortable with anyone whose talents might outshine his own. From the twelve hundred men who applied to join the expedition, some of them highly experienced travelers, he chose three unsuitable companions: a pair of sailor-fishermen, the brothers Frank and Edward Pocock, and a young hotel clerk named Frederick Barker. Edward Pocock's main skill seems to have been playing the bugle. None of the three had had any experience exploring.
When the four white men marched westward into the interior at the head of the Anglo-American Expedition, they led a group close to double the size of Stanley's expedition to find Livingstone—356 people all told. Forty-six were women and children, for some of the senior Africans had been granted the privilege of taking along their families. This miniature army carried more than sixteen thousand pounds of arms, equipment, and goods that could be traded for food along the way. On the march the column stretched for half a mile, a distance so long that halts had to be signaled by Edward Pocock's bugle.
The bugle calls were appropriate; for Stanley, continual combat was always part of exploring. He never bothered to count the dead that the expedition left behind it, but the number must have been in the hundreds. Stanley's party carried the latest rifles and an elephant gun with exploding bullets; the unlucky people they fought had spears, bows and arrows, or, at best, ancient muskets bought from slave-traders. "We have attacked and destroyed 28 large towns and three or four score villages," he wrote in his journal. Most of the fighting took place on lakes and rivers, with the explorer and his men flying the British and American flags and firing from the Lady Alice and dugout canoes. The thin-skinned Stanley was remarkably frank about his tendency to take any show of hostility as a deadly insult. It is almost as if vengeance were the force driving him across the continent. As he piloted the Lady Alice toward a spot on Lake Tanganyika, for instance, "the beach was crowded with infuriates and mockers ... we perceived we were followed by several canoes in some of which we saw spears shaken at us ... I opened on them with the Winchester Repeating Rifle. Six shots and four deaths were sufficient to quiet the mocking."
In the early months of the journey, Stanley was able to describe such skirmishes in newspaper stories carried by messengers to Africa's east coast, where they were relayed to England by sea and telegraph. There, they stirred a storm of outrage from humanitarian groups like the Aborigines Protection Society and the Anti-Slavery Society. Stanley "shoots negroes as if they were monkeys," commented the explorer and writer Richard Burton. The British foreign secretary, however, seemed far more upset that this brash writer for the popular press, who claimed to be an American, was flying the Union Jack. He sent Stanley a pompous message declaring that such display was not authorized.
To the New York Herald's vehemently anti-British publisher James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the controversy brought nothing but delight. He lashed out enthusiastically at Stanley's critics as "the howling dervishes of civilization ... safe in London ... the philanthropists...[whose] impractical view is that a leader ... should permit his men to be slaughtered by the natives and should be slaughtered himself and let discovery go to the dogs, but should never pull a trigger against this species of human vermin."
Among the achievements of this first stage of his travels, Stanley claimed, was telling the Emperor of Uganda about the Ten Commandments and converting him to Christianity. However, a French officer who happened to be visiting Uganda at this time later said that Stanley convinced the emperor only by telling him that Christians had eleven commandments. The eleventh was: "Honor and respect kings, for they are the envoys of God."
After months of carrying heavy loads, many of the expedition's porters mutinied, pilfered supplies, and fled. Again and again, Stanley dealt out swift punishment: "The murderer of Membé..." he wrote in his diary, "was sentenced to 200 lashes ... the two drunkards to 100 lashes each, and to be kept in chains for 6 months." Later, he wrote of his porters, "They are faithless, lying, thievish, indolent knaves, who only teach a man to despise himself for his folly in attempting a grand work with such miserable slaves."
With his fiancée, Alice Pike, he took a different tone, writing on his first Christmas of the expedition: "How your kind woman's heart would pity me and mine.... The camp is in the extreme of misery and the people appear as if they were making up their minds to commit suicide or to sit still inert until death relieves them." Always carrying her photograph with him, wrapped safely in oilskin, Stanley marked on his map an Alice Island and the Lady Alice Rapids.
"I do love dancing so much...." Alice wrote to him. "I would rather go to an opera ... than a party.... Almost every evening some fellows come in—I get awfully tired of them.... I have the most horrid sore finger all blistered from playing the harp. I am getting along quite well with it, only I never practice." She apparently had little idea of where Stanley was, or that letters from him, if they could be delivered at all, had to be carried through the bush for months. "You never write to me any more," she complained, "and I just want to know why??? I am real angry with Central Africa."
In the book he later wrote about this expedition, Through the Dark Continent, Stanley followed several rules he would use in books to come: stretch the account to two volumes (a total of 960 pages in this case); use "dark" in the title (In Darkest Africa and My Dark Companions and Their Strange Stories would follow); and employ every possible medium for telling the story. There are before-and-after photographs of the author showing his hair turned white by the journey; "extracts from my diary" (when compared with Stanley's actual journal, they turn out to be nothing of the sort); an elaborate foldout map marked with the route of the trip; more than a hundred drawings—of battles, dramatic meetings, a canoe being sucked into a whirlpool; floor plans of African houses; street plans of villages; lists of supplies. A cornucopia of diagrams shows everything from the lineages of African kings to the shapes of different canoe paddles. Stanley shrewdly sensed that his readers' ignorance of Africa would make them all the more fascinated by endless mundane details, such as a chart of prices showing that a chicken cost one bead necklace at Abaddi, while six chickens cost twelve yards of cloth in Ugogo. Readers got their money's worth. Pre-electronic though they were, Stanley's books were multimedia productions.
To read Stanley today is to see how much his traveling was an act of appropriation. He is forever measuring and tabulating things: temperature, miles traveled, lake depths, latitude, longitude, and altitude (which he calculated by measuring the temperature at which water boiled). Specially trusted porters carried fragile loads of thermometers, barometers, watches, compasses, and pedometers. It is almost as if he were a surveyor, mapping the continent he crossed for its prospective owners.
It is the second half of Stanley's journey which turns it into an epic feat of exploration. From Lake Tanganyika, where he had found Livingstone several years earlier, he and his diminished band of porters, including some rebellious ones who start the trip in chains, trek westward into the interior for some weeks, until they reach a large river, known locally as the Lualaba. No European explorer has ever gone downstream beyond this point, and no one knows where the Lualaba leads. Livingstone had thought it was the long-sought source of the Nile, since the Lualaba here flows north, straight toward Egypt.
Stanley, however, is sure the Lualaba is far too big to be the beginning of the Nile; for a time he thinks it might be the Niger, whose outlet, like the Nile's, is far to the north. Then, descending the river, he becomes increasingly convinced that it is the Congo. But he is not certain, for the estuary where the Congo empties into the Atlantic, half a continent away, is south of the point where his celestial bearings show him to be, on the shore of the northward-flowing Lualaba. On European maps, everything in between is blank.
According to Stanley, he stands on the banks of the mysterious river and addresses his assembled followers:
"Into whichever sea this great river empties, there shall we follow it.... On your lives depends my own; if I risk yours, I risk mine. As a father looks after his children, I will look after you.... Therefore, my children, make up your minds as I have made up mine, that, as we are now in the very middle of this continent, and it would be just as bad to return as to go on, we shall continue our journey, that we shall toil on, and on, by this river and no other, to the salt sea."
Frank Pocock, the faithful deputy, asks, "Before we finally depart, sir, do you really believe, in your inmost soul, that we shall succeed?"
To which Stanley replies: "Believe? Yes, I do believe that we shall all emerge into light again some time. It is true that our prospects are as dark as this night.... I believe [this river] will prove to be the Congo; if the Congo, then there must be many cataracts ... whether the Congo, the Niger, or the Nile, I am prepared.... Believe? I see us gliding down by tower and town, and my mind will not permit a shadow of doubt. Good-night, my boy! Good-night! and may happy dreams of the sea, and ships, and pleasure, and comfort, and success attend you in your sleep!"
Did Stanley really stand on the riverbank and speak words even remotely like these? We will never know, because none of the other three white men on the expedition survived. Long before Frank Pocock drowned, Fred Barker died of "aguish fits" so severe that "his blood seemed to stagnate in its veins" until "the congealed blood would not run, and ... the poor young man was dead." Edward Pocock became delirious. "I sprang to him," Stanley claims, "—only in time, however, to see him take his last gasp."
If the Lualaba was going to turn out to be the Congo, Stanley knew, the river had to somewhere make a 180-degree curve. As he and his expedition floated down it, or at the beginning sometimes marched alongside it, he frequently measured his latitude and longitude. For several hundred miles, the river mystifyingly continued to flow north. But at last it began to make a wide counterclockwise arc to the west, ending up flowing southwest toward its fearsome cataracts and the Atlantic.
Stanley's journey solved another geographical mystery. The Congo begins and ends below the equator, but the top part of its great half-circle lies above the equator. In central Africa, the equator is the rough dividing line between the dry and rainy seasons: when it is one above the line, it is the other below. Therefore, whatever the time of year, part of the Congo's course passes through land being drenched with rain and part through dry country. This explained why, over the course of a year, the Congo's flow varied much less than that of other tropical rivers.
The gigantic, steadily widening river, Stanley found, was a rich source of food for the people living near it. Since his time, scientists have counted more than five hundred species of fish in the river. These feed on an array of insects, on each other, and on fruit and leaves that fall into the water, especially during flood seasons, when the river rises above its banks and sheets of water sweep through the bordering forests and grasslands.
It is frustrating that the only African voices we hear are those recorded by Stanley himself. Every once in a while he does note or imagine such a voice, as if he had paused to take a quick, half-guilty glance in the mirror. Here is one such glance from his journal of September 12, 1876, which was, coincidentally, the very day that dignitaries in evening dress filed up the Royal Palace's marble staircase for the opening of King Leopold II's Geographical Conference in Brussels:
The White man in the opinion of the Waguhha:
"How can he be a good man who comes for no trade, whose feet you never see, who always goes covered with clothes, unlike all other people? No, there is something very mysterious about him, perhaps wicked, perhaps he is a magician, at any rate it is better to leave him alone and not disturb him."
Stanley's bloody progress down the river became part of local oral history, sometimes taking on the elements of legend, for the range and accuracy of his rifles seemed supernatural to those who had never seen such weapons. A traveler some years later heard one such account:
The chief of the strangers was covered with cloth, and his face was white, and it shone like sun-light on the river.... The stranger chief had only one eye.... It was in the middle of his forehead.... When the Basoko went out on the river in their war-canoes to fight and capture the strangers, they cried: "Meat! meat!" for they intended eating their bodies, but they were not to be captured, and they killed many of the Basoko with sticks, which sent forth thunder and lightning. They spoke words in a strange tongue. They ... drifted on down the river and passed the strong Basoko with jeers.
This Basoko image of Stanley as one-eyed could be a memory, filtered through many retellings, of seeing him squinting through a telescope or a rifle's sights. It also strangely echoes the image of the one-eyed creatures some medieval European geographers imagined Africans to be. We know from a later scrap of oral tradition that Europeans were often believed to have hoofs; not having seen shoes before, some Africans along the river thought them part of white anatomy.
Several hundred miles downstream from his starting point, Stanley had to portage around rapids, which he named Stanley Falls. After that, there were no more natural obstacles to his progress for a thousand miles, to Stanley Pool. It was clear sailing for the Lady Alice and the fleet of about two dozen canoes the expedition had bought or stolen from people living along the riverbank.
Stanley and his Zanzibari porters and soldiers watched in awe as the river grew in size, becoming at times so wide they could barely see across it. Its expanse was sprinkled with some four thousand islands, many of them inhabited. In the languages spoken along its banks it was known not as the Congo but, because of its many tributaries, as the Nzadi or Nzere,* meaning "the river that swallows all rivers." Stanley did not the magnificent cake venture up these side rivers, but as he passed one after another, each hundreds of yards across, he was impressed by their size. As well he might have been. Just one of the Congo's tributaries, the Kasai, carries as much water as the Volga and is half again as long as the Rhine. Another, the Ubangi, is even longer. Steamboats on this network, Stanley immediately saw, could travel long distances. It was as if he had found the equivalent of thousands of miles of railroad track, already laid. "The Power possessing the Congo..." he wrote, "would absorb to itself the trade of the whole of the enormous basin behind. This river is and will be the grand highway of commerce to West Central Africa."
The last leg of Stanley's extraordinary journey proved by far the hardest. At the head of the 220-mile final stretch of rapids, where the river bulged out to make Stanley Pool, the explorer's easy floating came to an end. He was prepared to portage around rapids and waterfalls, but what he did not realize was how much of the river's rush to the sea was through rock gorges that compressed the water into fast-moving, unnavigable chutes of white foam.
He grew steadily more dismayed. In many places the current, he estimated by timing tree trunks that floated past, was thirty miles an hour.
Take a strip of sea blown over by a hurricane ... and a pretty accurate conception of its leaping waves may be obtained.... There was first a rush down into the bottom of an immense trough, and then, by its sheer force, the enormous volume would lift itself upward steeply until, gathering itself into a ridge, it suddenly hurled itself 20 or 30 feet straight upward, before rolling down into another trough.... The base of either bank, consisting of a long line of piled boulders of massive size, was buried in the tempestuous surf. The roar was tremendous and deafening. I can only compare it to the thunder of an express train through a rock tunnel.
Hoping, usually in vain, for calm stretches of river between such rapids, the explorer ignored the advice of local Africans and for an almost fatally long time did not abandon the Lady Alice and his dugout canoes. It was particularly agonizing to move the canoes overland, for they could not be taken apart and carried like the Lady Alice. The largest canoe was fifty-four feet long and weighed three tons. The men had to cut and pile brush along a rough path, then drag the canoes forward. Sometimes they built tracks of logs and used other logs crosswise as rollers. It took thirty-seven days to go one stretch of thirty-four miles. Again and again the jagged Crystal Mountains threw up barriers; at one point the weary and emaciated men had to pull the boats up twelve hundred feet, then along three miles of relatively level ground, then down again. The rainy season arrived, with downpours that lasted five or six hours a day.
The perpetual noise of the rapids grew ever more oppressive. Men fainted from hunger. Stanley's last pair of boots disintegrated. One of his best men lost his mind and raced off into the bush, carrying only a parrot. Finally, after wasting months dragging the now-useless boats, the expedition abandoned them entirely. In Stanley's diary, as he despairingly records one death, mass desertion, or mutiny after another, his elegant handwriting becomes almost illegible and his prose incoherent. Altogether, it took him and his starving, disease-ridden band four and a half months to travel overland the 250 miles from Stanley Pool to the seaport of Boma.
The explorer was vague and contradictory in his numbers, but the death toll among the expedition's members was overwhelming. Many succumbed to festering wounds, dysentery, smallpox, or typhus, all exacerbated by spells of near-starvation. Stanley would not allow porters ill with smallpox to stay behind and convalesce, or even to walk off into the forest to die; he made them carry their loads until they dropped. And he drove himself almost as hard as he did his men; on the journey he lost more than sixty pounds. Several times the expedition ran perilously short of water; it endured snake and hippo attacks, spear grass, worms that bored into the soles of porters' feet, and paths that led over knife-sharp rocks. By the time the survivors reached Boma, they were numb with exhaustion, suffering from what today we would call posttraumatic stress syndrome. Several soon died of no apparent cause, waiting to sail home.
"What means have I to convey my heart's load of love to you," Stanley had written Alice Pike from the middle of the continent, "but this letter which must go through a thousand miles of savages, exposed to all dangers of flood and fire and battle until it reaches the sea?...Grant then that my love towards you is unchanged, that you are in my dream, my stay and my hope, and my beacon, and believe that I shall still cherish you in this light until I meet you."
When he brought his remaining porters and soldiers by sea back to their jumping-off point in Zanzibar, Stanley had a shock. Amid two years' worth of mail waiting for him was a newspaper clipping eighteen months old, announcing that Alice Pike had married an Ohio railway heir named Albert Barney. Stanley fell into a deep depression and never saw her again. *
In public statements after his trip, Stanley made the usual condemnations of the "Arab" slave trade, called for missionaries to come to Africa, fulminated about the way Africans went about in "the general indecency of their nakedness," and proclaimed that the aim of his journey was "to flash a torch of light across the western half of the Dark Continent." But business was never far from his mind. After leaving one district where he had been plagued by desertions and a flood, he wrote in his journal, "A farewell to it ... until some generous and opulent philanthropist shall permit me or some other to lead a force for the suppression of this stumbling block to commerce with Central Africa."
The opulent philanthropist was waiting.
In fact, the philanthropist was elated. For several months before Stanley emerged at Boma, Leopold had eagerly scanned the Times of London daily for news of his fate. At one point he wrote to an aide, "The first thing on the agenda ... seems to me to check again if Stanley has reached the Lualaba." As soon as Stanley reappeared, the king sent him a telegram of congratulations.
Now Leopold could read the long Daily Telegraph articles Stanley wrote about his journey, as well as the voluminous press reports on the accolades and banquets the explorer received in Cape Town, Cairo, and his other stops on his way back to England. A joint resolution congratulating him came from both houses of the United States Congress, and fellow explorers hailed his descent of the Congo as the century's greatest feat of exploration. Leopold was now certain that this vast territory in the middle of Africa, miraculously still unclaimed by any European power, could become the colony he craved. At last his long-dreamed-of production could reach the stage, and Stanley would be its star.
The king instructed his minister in London to keep him au courant regarding news about Stanley. Behind the elegant smokescreen of his International African Association, Leopold was maneuvering with great subtlety. Be discreet, he told the envoy: "I'm sure if I quite openly charged Stanley with the task of taking possession in my name of some part of Africa, the English will stop me. If I ask their advice, they'll stop me just the same. So I think I'll just give Stanley some job of exploration which would offend no one, and will give us the bases and headquarters which we can take over later on." Above all, Leopold told his man in London, "I do not want to risk ... losing a fine chance to secure for ourselves a slice of this magnificent African cake."
Firing off telegrams, Leopold mapped a plan to intercept Stanley on his way home and lure him to Brussels. In Alexandria, where the explorer stopped for a few days, the king arranged for someone to plant the idea with Stanley while he was the guest of honor at a dinner on board a yacht carrying former U.S. President Ulysses'S. Grant. Then, for the next step in his courtship, Leopold turned for help to an American friend in Brussels, General Henry Shelton Sanford. It was a brilliant choice: with Stanley so eagerly passing himself off as American, who better to appeal to him than a high-born countryman?
General Sanford was eager to take on this glamorous mission for Leopold. Born to a wealthy Connecticut family, he had been appointed by Abraham Lincoln as American minister to Belgium, and had stayed on after his eight-year tenure ended. He and his wife, a famous beauty much younger than he, entertained lavishly at their turreted, three-story country house outside Brussels. With his stovepipe hat, gold-headed cane, pince-nez, and handsome chestnut mustache and beard, Sanford was a familiar figure in the city's highest social circles. He had never been a soldier, however; the "General," as well as the sword and blue-and-gold uniform he wore for some years, were rewards for his having given a battery of cannon to an infantry regiment during the Civil War.
Sanford had invested in American railroads and Western real estate and in huge citrus orchards and other enterprises in Florida, giving the town that sprang up to house their workers the name of Sanford.* But, as with his military rank, Sanford's prowess as a financier was less than met the eye. He had the elegance of someone who had grown up with a fortune but not the shrewdness needed to make one, and he lost money on everything he touched. He never recovered the large sums he put into a series of odd patents—for a wool loom, a new type of whiskey still, and a little box designed to lubricate railroad car axles with water instead of oil. A silver mine in Nevada and a zinc mine in Arkansas proved disastrous. A Minnesota railroad went bankrupt. His cotton crop at a South Carolina plantation was devoured by caterpillars.
As Sanford saw his inherited fortune draining away, his connections at the Belgian court loomed larger for him. He even named one of his sons Leopold. Always a shrewd judge of people, the king understood what royal patronage would mean to Sanford, and he flattered him ceaselessly, knowing that someday he could use him. When Sanford failed in one of many fruitless efforts to win another American diplomatic post, Leopold's aide Baron Jules Greindl wrote to him, "The King is pleased that you will continue to reside among us where everyone loves and appreciates you." Like many Americans, Sanford had a fondness for royalty and Leopold valued him, he felt, in a way that his own country did not.
In January 1878, Leopold secretly dispatched Sanford and Greindl to intercept Stanley in France, where the explorer, still on his way to London, was due for another round of medals and banqueting. At the Marseilles railway station, the envoys caught up with Stanley, who was thin, ill, and exhausted, and followed him to Paris, where they formally offered him a job with the International African Association. He turned down their invitation but clearly was gratified. Always anxious about his reception in the upper reaches of society, Stanley never forgot that courtiers of the King of the Belgians—a baron and a general, no less—had sought him out on his return to Europe.
From France, Stanley at last headed home to London and a hero's welcome. Despite his claiming to be American, his heart was still in England. It was the Union Jack, he said at one banquet or white-tie dinner party after another, that ought to fly over the territory crossed by the great river. Stanley's hopes for British interest in the Congo basin rose when the Prince of Wales came to hear him talk, but all he said to the explorer afterward was that Stanley was wearing his medals in the wrong order. Already much of the world's map was filled with British dominions, colonies, and protectorates of one sort or another; with a recession at home and their hands full with various colonial crises and rebellions overseas, few Britons seemed interested in a new territory whose main transportation route was blocked by notorious cataracts.
"I do not understand Englishmen at all," Stanley wrote. "Either they suspect me of some self-interest, or they do not believe me.... For the relief of Livingstone I was called an impostor; for the crossing of Africa I was called a pirate." Nor was there enthusiasm in the United States for Congo colonization. James Gordon Bennett, Jr., in New York, now wanted to send Stanley off in search of the North Pole.
Leopold continued to press his suit. He had his minister in London invite Stanley to lunch. He sent Sanford across the Channel to talk to the explorer again. And he made sure that Stanley heard a few hints about his possibly making a deal with another explorer instead. Leopold knew his man. Five months after returning to Europe, Stanley accepted an invitation to visit Belgium.