IN THE WINTER of 1865, African exploration had captured the attention of London society. Explorers were the celebrities of the time. Their books, illustrated with drawings of naked bodies and strange customs in strange lands, were bestsellers. The possibility of reaching the Mountains of the Moon and filling in the 'blank spaces' on the map of Africa stirred the blood as, in a later age, would the exploration of space.
So when 44-year-old Samuel Baker returned from five years in Africa looking for the sources of the Nile, it was inevitable that he would be talked about. But he had something extra to offer, a beautiful young wife who, he was quick to tell, had devotedly accompanied him throughout his