According to the latest report of the “European Schools Survey on Alcoholic Beverages and Drugs (ESPAD)”, the proportion of French teenagers taking drugs is 16%, which is much higher than the European average of 7.1%.
The French “European Times” reported on the 5th that the report also launched an investigation into the smoking and drinking of French teenagers. The results showed that 80% of French teenagers started drinking at the age of 16, which is slightly higher than the European average (79%). The highest proportion is in the Czech Republic, with 95% of 16-year-olds drinking. Regarding smoking, 45% of French adolescents have smoked before the age of 16, while it is higher in Italy, Latvia and Slovakia (all above 55%). It is worth noting that although the law prohibits young people from buying cigarettes, 60% of young French people say it is “very easy” to buy cigarettes.
Lieutenant Albert Werper could only thank the reputation of the name he had tarnished for hardly avoiding being expelled from military service. In the beginning, he had been humbly grateful that he had been sent to this God-abandoned Congolese military station instead of being brought to justice, as he had rightly deserved. But now it was six months of monotonous life, terrible isolation and loneliness brought about change. The young man was constantly thinking about his fate. His days were spent in morbid self-mourning, and this finally aroused in his weak and shaky mind anger against those who had sent him here — precisely those men whom he had initially thanked from the heart for saving him from the shameful loss of officer value.
He longed for the happy life of Brussels, far more than ever to repent of the sins that had dragged him away from this happiest capital, and as the days passed he began to direct his anger at its representative in Congo, who had driven him into exile – his own captain and immediate superior.
This officer was a cold, spoken man and aroused little love in his subordinates, but his small army of black warriors respected and feared him.
Werper used to sit for hours staring at his boss as they each smoked their evening cigarettes on the porch of their shared apartment in a silence that neither seemed to want to break. The lieutenant’s insane anger eventually grew into some kind of frenzy. He explained the captain’s inherent silence as a deliberate attempt to disgrace him for his past distractions. He imagined his boss despising him, and thus he was furious and agitated in his heart until one night his madness suddenly erupted into murder. He nodded the head of the revolver hanging from his side, his eyes narrowed and his forehead wrinkled. Finally he started talking.
“Now you have slandered me one last time!” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet. “I am an officer and a gentleman, and I will not suffer this anymore, but I demand an explanation from you, you pig!”
The captain turned his eyes toward the look of amazement on his face. He had seen men before as victims of jungle madness — madness caused by loneliness and endless contemplation, perhaps mixed with a little fever.
He got up and held out his hand to drop it on the other’s shoulder. There were soothing words on his lips, but he could no longer utter them. Werper perceived his superior’s movement as an attempt to attack him. His revolver was aimed at the captain’s heart, and this had barely taken a step when Werper pulled the trigger. Without letting any voice of complaint, the man sank to the rough floor of the porch, and as he fell, the mist that had covered Werper’s brain dissipated, so that he saw himself and the act he had just done in the same light as those who would come to judge him.
He separated the excited exclamations from the soldiers’ apartment and heard the men running towards him. They would arrest him, and if they did not kill him, they would take him along the Congo Stream to a place where the right to war under the regulations would do the same act just as effectively, albeit in a more regular way.
Werper had no desire to die. He had never before so much wanted to live as at the moment when he had so completely lost his right to life. The men approached him. What was he supposed to do? He looked around as if looking for something that seemed to be a valid reason for the crime, but saw only the body of the man he had so unduly shot.
He turned in despair and escaped the path of the approaching soldiers. He ran across the yard, the revolver still tightly squeezed in his hand. At the gate he was stopped by a guard. Werper did not stay to negotiate with him and did not take advantage of the benefits of his official position – he only raised his weapon and shot the innocent Negro to death. A moment later, the refugee had snatched the gate open and disappeared into the darkness of the jungle, however, having first taken possession of the dead guard’s gun and cartridge belts.
All that night Werper fled farther and farther into the depths of the primeval forest. Time and time again, the voice of the lion made him stop and listen, but then he went forward again, the gun ready to fire, for he feared more the human persecutors coming behind him than the wild beasts in front of him.
The day finally dawned, but the man still struggled forward. All the feelings of hunger and fatigue disappeared as he thought of the horrors of a possible trapping. He could only think of escaping. He did not dare to stop to rest or eat until all the danger of chasing was over, and so he swayed forward until he finally fell and could no longer stand up. He could not say how far he had escaped, nor did he try to find out. When he could not go any further, he did not know the end of his strength, for he was unconscious of mere exhaustion.
In this state he was found by the Arab Ahmet Zek. Ahmet’s companions would have wanted to spear into the body of their enemy, but Ahmet wanted another. He first planned to interrogate the Belgian. It was easier to interrogate a man first and then kill him than to kill him first and interrogate him afterwards.
So he transported Lieutenant Albert Werper to his own tent, and there the slaves gave the prisoner wine and food in small quantities until he finally came to his senses. As he opened his eyes, he saw the faces of strange black men around him, and just outside the tent, an Arab figure was visible. The uniforms of his own soldiers were nowhere to be seen.
The Arab turned and, seeing the prisoner’s open eyes aimed at himself, stepped into the tent.
“I am Ahmet Zek,” he announced. “Who are you and what are you doing in my country? Where are your soldiers?”
Ahmet Zek! Werper’s eyes widened, and his courage discouraged. He was in the clutches of the most notorious murderer – one who hated all Europeans, especially those in Belgian uniforms. For years, the Belgian Congolese military had waged a futile war against this man and his companions, and there had never been any requested or expected mercy on either side.
But now Werper had just seen a weak ray of hope in the man’s Belgian hatred. The Arab himself was a spirit of breath and outlawed. In that respect, they at least had common interests under scrutiny, and Werper decided to make the most of this state of affairs.
“I’ve heard of you,” he replied, “and I was looking for you! My people have turned against me. I hate them. Even now, their soldiers are looking for me to kill me. I knew that you you do to protect me from them, since you also hate them. In return, I move at your service. I am a trained warrior. I can fight, and your enemies are my enemies. ”
Ahmet Zek looked at the European voice. Many thoughts moved in his mind, and in the foreground was that that unfaithful lied. Of course, it was possible that he did not lie, and if he spoke the truth, his suggestion was worth considering, because there were never too many warriors — very white men with as good training and knowledge of war as every European officer.
Ahmet Zek looked gloomily ahead, and Werper’s courage was discouraged. But Werper did not know Ahmet Zek, who was able to look gloomily where the other smiled and smile where the other looked gloomy.
“And if you have lied to me,” said Ahmet Zek, “I will kill you at any time. What other compensation than your life do you expect from your services?”
“In the beginning, only my alimony,” Werper replied. “Later, if you find me deserving more, we’ll easily agree.”
Werper’s only wish at the time was to keep his life. This led to an agreement, and Lieutenant Albert Werper became a member of the notorious band of Ahmet Zek, who robbed ivory and slaves.
For months, a Belgian apostate rode with wild bandits. He fought fiercely unrestrained and malevolently cruel, as did the daring comrades. Ahmet Zek watched his student with sharp eyes and with increasing satisfaction, which eventually manifested itself in greater confidence in him. And the result was that Werper was allowed to act more and more independently.
When Ahmet Zek thus learned to trust the Belgian, he finally expressed his mind, which he had long incubated but had not yet been able to carry out. However, with the help of a European, it could easily be done. He gently spoke to Werper.
“Have you heard of a man called Tarzan?” he asked.
Werper nodded. “I’ve heard, but I did not know him.”
“If he didn’t exist, we could conduct our‘ trade ’safely and very successfully,” the Arab continued. “For years he has fought against us, driving us out of the richest part of the country, persecuting us and arming the natives to expel us when we come to ‘trade’. He is very rich. If we could come up with some way to force him to pay us many gold coins, that we may be avenged by him, and that we may be compensated for much of what we have not won because of him from the natives under his protection. ”
Werper took a cigarette from a jeweled case and lit it.
“Well, do you have a plan to get him to pay?” he asked.
“He has a wife,” replied Ahmet Zek, “which is said to be very beautiful. He would be paid a good price further north if we find it too difficult to get a ransom from Tarzan.”
Werper bent his head thoughtfully. Ahmet Zek stood waiting for his answer. The noble feelings still left in Albert Werper rose up against the idea of a white woman being sold into Mohammedan harem slavery and shame. He looked at Ahmet Zek. He saw the Arab’s eyes narrow and guessed that another had noticed him reluctant to do so. What would refusal mean to him? His life was in the hands of this half-brother, who held the spirit of the infidel in less esteem than the dog. Werper loved life. What really moved that woman? The woman was undoubtedly a European, a member of an organized society. He himself, Werper, was outlawed. The hand of every white man was against him. Tarzan’s wife was his natural enemy,
“You hesitate,” muttered the Arab.
“I’m just considering the chances of success,” Lied Werper, “and my reward. As a European, I can get into their home and company. You have no one else capable of it. My danger is great then. I’d like a good payment, Ahmet Zek.”
A smile of relief flickered on the bandit’s face.
“Well said, Werper.” Ahmet Zek patted his assistant on the shoulder. “You should get a good payment, and you will get it. Let’s sit down now to negotiate how best to do it.”
And they crouched on the soft carpet under the faded silk curtains of the magnificent tent of Ahmet in ancient times and spoke in a low voice late into the night. Both men were tall and bearded, and the influence of the sun and wind had given an almost Arabic skin color to the face of a European. In every detail of his costume, Werper imitated his boss, so he was outwardly as good an Arab as the other. Only late did he get up and retreat to his own tent.
The next day, Werper spent inspecting his Belgian uniform, removing from it any traces that would have shown its military purpose. Ahmet Zek retrieved a heat helmet and a European saddle from the Variegated Catch Warehouse and chose a number of carriers, chores and tent boys from his black slaves and companions as a modest safari, a convoy, for the great hunter. At the forefront of this party, Werper left the camp.