"Now, take care, Master Chico, what you are about," he observed. "You are not to touch that bottle, recollect."
Chico looked at the bottle with longing eyes for an instant, then turned away, as if it was a matter of perfect indifference to him. In a short time he came down, and began to examine the little stranger, who seemed, however, in no way pleased with his presence.
"Oh, we will soon make you good friends," said Natty. "I hope we shall have a happy family before long. Do you know, Andrew, we have already got several creatures, and have managed to tame many of them, so that they feed on the hill-side in view of the hut, and come back at night regularly, for fear of wild beasts."
"Now, boys," said David, "we have talked with Andrew long enough, and I think we must leave him to Kate's care again. Your chattering is too exciting, and he has not got strong yet."
"Oh, but we will be very quiet, and merely listen to him, if he is inclined to talk," said Leo.
"That is the very thing I do not wish him to do," observed David.
"I feel quite strong," I said. "Pray do not send the boys away unless they wish to go."
However, the doctor was inexorable. While we were speaking, Chico had stolen back to his corner. Presently I saw Leo eyeing him, and hiding his face for fear of laughing.
Chico by degrees made his way up to the bottle, and slily unhooking it, put the spout to his lips and began tugging away with might and main. Presently casting it from him, with a loud chattering he rushed back to his corner spluttering and spitting vehemently. Leo now gave way to his laughter, in which all the party joined. Even Kate could not resist laughing, nor could I, though my merriment was somewhat faint, I suspect. Chico looked indignantly at us, as if he did not at all like being made fun of.
"I told you," said David, holding up his finger, "if you would drink from that bottle you would repent it."
He now took the bottle, and offered the contents to Leo and Natty, which they naturally refusing, he emptied it, and washed it out thoroughly. "It is quite clean now for Master Koodoo," he observed.
"Now, boys, take off your new pet, and try how quickly, by gentle treatment, you can tame it."
"I must ask Chickango and Igubo to get me one," exclaimed Bella. "I should like to have a beautiful creature like that for a pet, and I am sure I could soon make it love me."
"That must depend on whether one happens to jump into a pit," said Leo. "That was the way this one was caught. The mother managed to scramble out, but was shot while attempting to help her young one."
"Yes, and it seemed very cruel to kill the creature at such a moment. I should not like to have done it," observed Natty.
"That I am sure of," whispered Bella. "Natty would never wish to hurt any creature."
The boys now led off the little koodoo. Stanley soon afterwards arrived, followed by Jack, with some beautiful birds and several rock-rabbits which they had shot. They congratulated me warmly on being so much better. I caught sight also of Timbo, Igubo, and his two sons.
"What has become of Chickango?" I asked, afraid, from not seeing him, that some accident had happened.
"The faithful fellow has gone to Walfish Bay with Senhor Silva," said Stanley. "We attempted in vain to find a native who would carry our message, and at last our Portuguese friend, though knowing the fearful risks he will run, undertook the journey, when Chickango insisted on accompanying him."
"Well, Mr Crawford, I am main glad you are getting well again," exclaimed Jack, when the rest of the party had retired. "I would have given my right hand for your sake, and often when I thought you were going to slip your cable, I was ready to burst out a-crying; but, as Timbo says, God is very merciful, and now I hope you will come round pretty quickly, since you have weathered the worst point, where, so to speak, there were most rocks and shallows, and are now in smooth water."
I saw Timbo watching at a distance, and as soon as Jack had gone, he too came up.
"Oh, Massa Crawford, it do my heart good to see your eye bright again, and colour come back to de cheek. Me now no fear. You soon all right. I pray God night and day dat you get well, dat I do, and I go on praying still, for God hear de prayer of de black fellow, just as he hear de white man. Oh, Massa Crawford, it a great t'ing to be able to pray. If I no do dat I t'ink my heart sink down to the bottom of de river where de crocodiles crawl about; but when I pray it rise up just like a bird wid de big wings, and fly up, up, up into de blue sky."
I thanked Timbo warmly for his regard, but still more for the prayers he had offered up; and I felt as sure as he did that they had not been disregarded. My father's exhortation, I am glad to say, often came back to my mind. It was very delightful lying there in the shade, with the beautiful landscape and its countless numbers of inhabitants, and listening to Kate reading the Bible, in which we often came to passages, some peculiarly applicable to our position—so it appeared to me—others describing the wonders of God's works which we saw displayed before us, and his love and mercy to man.
In a few days I had so much recovered that my friends insisted on carrying me down to take an excursion on the lake. The day was cool, for a fresh breeze played over the water. Leo and Natty begged to have the pleasure of paddling me.
"And we will go too, shall we not?" cried Bella to her sister. I was glad to find that Kate consented.
"And I must go to look after you," said David, "and Timbo will stay at home to take care of the house."
"Very well, if I go as captain," said Jack; "but I cannot let you go and run your noses into the mouth of a hippopotamus or alligator, either of which, I have a notion, you would be likely to do."
Stanley and the two black boys had gone off in the Giraffe, as he wished to shoot. I wished to walk down, but found, on attempting it, that I could not; indeed, I had become so thin that I was no great weight for my friends to carry. As soon as we had taken our places in the canoe, we shoved off. I was able to sit up and enjoy the scenery. To the west rose the lofty hills on the side of which our village was placed, for so I think I must call it, while on the left were woods with fine trees, and here and there a break through which the broad prairie could be seen extending as far as the eye could reach towards the south. We got glimpses of numerous animals moving in and about the woods, and some scampering over the plain. It was already late in the day when we embarked. As the weather was fine and the lake perfectly calm, we paddled down the centre to enjoy the greater purity of the air, away from the banks. The trip was so enjoyable that we were tempted to go further, perhaps, than was prudent. At length, unwillingly, David begged Jack to turn the canoe's head homewards. As we were paddling along, we caught sight of Stanley's canoe entering a creek out of the lake.
"Oh, see, see!" cried Bella, "what thousands of animals! I never saw so many collected together."
Such indeed was the case. On the point nearest the lake some twenty or more huge buffaloes were standing drinking at the stream. Further on a whole herd of quaggas had come down, while through the woods could be seen the graceful horns of a troop of koodoos and other deer, though it was difficult to distinguish them among the trees. But we were more immediately interested with the numerous birds we were passing. It would be difficult to describe them all; but David, who was a good ornithologist, told us their names. Amongst them was one which seemed to run about on the surface employed in catching insects. It had long thin legs, and extremely long toes, which enabled it to stand on the floating lotus leaves and other aquatic plants invisible to our eyes. A lotus leaf, not six inches in diameter, was sufficient to support its spread-out toes, just as snow-shoes enable a heavy man to get over the soft snow. It was the Parra Africana. Then there were numbers of the pretty little wader, which looked exactly as if it was standing on stilts, from the length of its legs, while its bill appeared to be bent upwards, instead of downwards, as Leo declared it ought to be. David called it an avocet. "See," said David, "the use of its bill!" It was wading in a shallow; and the form of its beak enabled it to dig up insects out of the soft sand far more easily than if it had been straight. We saw vast numbers of the large black goose walking about slowly and feeding. It had a strong black spur on the shoulder, with which it can defend its young. David told us that it forms its nests in ant-hills, and, of course, eats up the inhabitants. Among the several varieties of geese was the Egyptian or Chenalopex Aegyptiaca. It flew along over the surface, but appeared unable to rise. It would have been impossible to count the ducks which sat on the banks. Stanley fired among them, and almost filled his canoe with a few shots, as he afterwards told us. He had killed in one shot nearly twenty ducks and a couple of geese. But they were only some of the smaller birds. Further up were spoonbills with nearly white plumage; a tribe of stately flamingoes, such as I have before described; numbers of the demoiselle—an extremely graceful and elegant—looking bird—and a light blue crane, and another crane with light blue and white neck. We must have counted fifty or more specimens of the Ibis religiosa, and vast flocks of the large white pelican, which came following each other in a long-extended line, rising and falling as they flew. David cried out that they looked as if they were all fastened together like a thick rope made to move like a serpent. There were also innumerable plovers, snipes, curlews, herons, and other smaller birds. A number of those strange birds, the scissor-bills, were flying about near a sandbank on one side. They had snow-white breasts, black coats, and red beaks. We observed the hollows in which their nests were placed in the sandbanks, for they made no attempt to conceal them. "What brave little chaps they are!" exclaimed Leo. "See!" Some crows had approached as he spoke, when the scissor-bills flew after them and drove them off. As we drew near, however, the crows took to flight, when the little scissor-bills hung down one of their wings, and limped off, pretending to be lame. This trick did not, however, save the life of one of them, at which David fired for the sake of examining it. On getting the bird into the canoe, we found the lower mandible almost as thin as a carving-knife. The bird places it on the surface of the water as it skims along, and scoops up any minute insects which it meets with in its course. Its wings being very long, and kept above the level of its body, it can continue thus flying on for a considerable time, till it has supplied itself with an ample meal.
"By feeding at night, it probably escapes being snapped up by some hungry crocodile, which it would be if it fed thus close to the water in the day-time," observed David. "The scissor-bill has great affection for its young, as indeed have most water-birds."
On another bank we saw a number of pretty little bee-eaters congregated together. The bank was perforated with hundreds of holes conducting to their nests. As we passed by they flew out in clouds, darting about our heads. Then there were speckled kingfishers, and also beautiful little blue and orange kingfishers, which we saw dash down like shots into the water searching for their prey. There were sand-martins something like those seen in England; and from the trees also, as we passed under the banks, rose flocks of green pigeons. I must, however, bring my account of the feathered tribes we encountered in our trip to an end. Stanley's gun soon created dismay and astonishment among them, and often the air, as he fired, seemed literally filled with birds. The zebras and quaggas started off and took shelter in the woods; but the buffaloes more firmly stood their ground, eyeing us with astonishment, and evidently not understanding the effect which a bullet would produce should it hit one of them. Suddenly too, from out of the water rose several huge heads of hippopotami, which made Bella cry out with dismay, for though we were by this time well accustomed to them, she had never got over her alarm at seeing the monsters.
"Oh, let us paddle away from those dreadful creatures!" she exclaimed. "I am sure they are going to swim after us. See, see! Oh, how horrible if they should seize Stanley's boat! They are between him and us. He will never be able to come back."
"Do not be afraid, Miss Bella," said Jack. "The captain will give a good account of them. A bullet would soon send any one of them to the bottom."
Jack, however, shouted out to Stanley, and pointed to the hippopotami. He had by this time got his canoe so full of birds that he could scarcely carry more, and he now came paddling after us, utterly regardless of the monsters. As he passed by, though they gazed at him with their savage eyes, and mouths half open, they did not attempt to approach; and the blacks continued to shout and shriek to keep them at a respectful distance. Stanley, having put specimens of the birds he had shot into our canoe till we could scarcely receive more, went back to knock over, as he said, a further supply, while we paddled homewards. David had now plenty of occupation in examining our prizes, while the boys paddled slowly onwards, assisted by Jack, who not only paddled, but steered also. We found Timbo waiting for us at the landing-place with the litter to carry me. He had a gun over his shoulder, and appeared to be keeping a bright look-out on every side, shouting every now and then at the top of his voice.
"What is it, Timbo?" asked David.
"Me see big lion!" he answered. "He mean mischief. Just now roar and roar again. He would like carry off Massa Andrew, but we no let him."
"Oh, never fear," cried Jack. "We will keep the biggest lion at bay if he should come near us, and will give him a shot which will make him wish he had kept away."
"The lion is not likely to come near us when he sees so many people," said David; "but we will be on our guard against his approach."
I was immediately lifted on to the palanquin, and Jack and Timbo carried me up towards the house. All hands loaded themselves at the same time with birds, and Kate and Bella fastened as many at their backs as they could carry. Even then they were obliged to leave many behind for a second trip. David and Leo walked by the side of Bella, while Natty led the way. We had got halfway up the hill, when, from a thicket at some distance, a loud roar proceeded, and we saw the head of an enormous lion appearing from among the bushes.
"Roar away, old fellow," cried Jack. "It will be the worse for you if you come here."
"Shall I fire? I might kill him," said David.
"No, massa, no," answered Timbo. "If you hit him he come on in great rage. He now only angry because he dare not come near. Each time he roar we roar back, and dat keep him away;" and Timbo setting the example, the whole party set up a loud shout, with the exception of Kate. Little Bella, however, made her shrill voice distinctly heard. For my own part, I could not have attempted to shout. It showed me how prostrate I had been, for even now I had difficulty in slightly raising my voice.
Our shouting brought Chico to the door. As soon as he saw us he came hopping down the hill; but the next time the lion roared he gave a spring backwards, and turning round, rushed back into the hut.
"We must go down and warn the captain," said Jack; "for if he does not know that the lion is in the neighbourhood, the beast may surprise him; and, at all events, he will want assistance in bringing up the birds."
"We will go, then," said Leo and Natty; and they set off together.
David, in the meantime, secured our cattle-pen, which probably had attracted the lion to the spot. At each side of the entrance a circular hut had been built, answering the purpose of the gateway towers of a castle. Igubo and his two boys occupied one of them, and Jack and Timbo the other. They were built of reeds closely bound together, and the doors were of the same material. These were strong enough to resist the attack of any wild beast, and were always kept closely shut at night. I felt somewhat tired after my day's excursion; but some supper my kind cousins soon prepared restored my strength. They had got ready a more substantial meal for Stanley and his attendants, who now arrived.
"What do you think, Mr David?" I heard Jack exclaim. "If a big alligator has not got into the canoe and eaten up all the birds while we were away! It is fortunate we brought up as many as we did. However, the captain has got enough and to spare."
"We will be even wid him," said Timbo. "Igubo say he kill alligator. If he find him he get dem all back to-night."
"Tell him he had better not make the attempt," said Jack, "or maybe the lion will pick him up on his way to the river. We must give a good account of the brute to-morrow, or he will be doing us mischief."
There was ample work that evening in plucking the birds and in salting down the larger number. I should have mentioned that a salt spring had been found on the side of the mountain; without it, indeed, I doubt if we should have been able to remain at the place, for we had already finished our supply of that necessary article.
There was no necessity to warn the rest to secure their doors at night. One man, it was agreed, should keep watch, as it was very likely the lion would attempt to get into the cattle-pen. As I lay asleep in my hut the roar of the lion entered into my dreams. Sometimes I thought he was flying at Kate, and I was in vain endeavouring to defend her. Once he had carried off Natty; and I saw Leo, his namesake, seated on his back and digging a spear into him. At last I started up, and was sure the sounds I heard were real, and no mere fancies of the brain. The whole of the inmates of our camp were on foot, and I heard them calling to each other. Presently there was a shot, followed by another tremendous roar.
"Can you see him?" I heard Stanley cry out.
"No, sir; he has made off," answered Jack.
"I thought I hit him," exclaimed Stanley.
"T'ink not," said Timbo. "He no like sound of gun."
After a time they all went back to the huts. I think I said I slept in David's, for he acted as my nurse throughout my illness, and no one could have been more gentle and kind. Next morning Stanley and the boys hurried out to see if there were any marks of blood; but none were discovered, and it was therefore plain that the lion could not have been hit.
My companions had not been idle, I found, for they had cultivated a considerable piece of ground, and enclosed it, on one side of the cattle-pen. People in England have little notion how rapidly fruits come to perfection in the Tropics, where the account of Jonah's gourd is completely realised. Thus, in time, we had all sorts of vegetables, which contributed greatly to keep my companions in health, and to restore my strength. Stanley's gun also supplied us amply with animal food of the greatest variety, so that we were never on short allowance. Igubo and his sons were expert fishermen, and caught as many fish as we required. There were often more than we could eat fresh; the remainder were sun or smoke-dried, and, hung up, kept for a considerable time. The fishermen had to be careful not to fall into the jaws of crocodiles, who were constantly on the watch; and thus they often had to beat a rapid retreat to escape from the monsters.
Up to the time I am speaking of we had received no visits from the inhabitants, but Stanley, in his more extensive shooting excursions, had fallen in with a few, though the nearest village was about four miles off. It was situated in a valley to the north of us. The people appeared peaceably disposed. They seldom or never ventured far from their homes, having the means of supporting life and abundance of game round them. They also cultivated the soil sufficiently to obtain enough vegetables for their wants. Stanley had won their friendship by making them presents of birds and some animals, and in return they begged him to accept a supply of manioc, which Mango and Paulo brought to us. They look upon it as their staff of life, and as it is produced with very little labour, it well suits their habits. Stanley described the plantation which surrounded the village. The plants, he told me, grow to the height of six feet, and the leaves are often cooked as a vegetable; indeed, every part is useful. The roots are about four inches in diameter and eighteen long. To cultivate it the earth is formed into beds about three feet broad and one in height, and into these pieces of the stalk are placed about four feet apart. In about eight months, or sometimes rather more, the roots are fit to eat. There are two sorts, I ought to say. One is sweet and wholesome, and fit to eat when dried, and can at once be beaten into flour for making bread or cakes; the other is bitter, and contains poison, but is more quickly fit for food than the sweet sort. To get rid of the poison it is placed for four days in water, when it becomes partly decomposed. It is then taken out, stripped of the skin, and exposed to the sun. When thus dried it is easily pounded into a fine white meal. It is then prepared for food as ordinary porridge is made, by having boiling water poured upon it by one person, while another stirs it round till it is thoroughly mixed. Our black companions were very fond of it; but while we could obtain more substantial food, few of our party would condescend to eat it, except now and then as a change. The poison is of so volatile a nature that it is quickly got rid of by heat. Timbo made the meal into thin cakes, which, when baked on an iron plate, were pronounced very good. David told us that it was called cassava, as well as manioc, and that its scientific name was Jatropha manihot. After a few trials he contrived to manufacture a kind of starch, which I had often seen in England under the name of tapioca. He was delighted when he succeeded in producing it, and Kate at once made some very nice puddings from it, by mixing it with honey to give it flavour.
We obtained also from the village some yam roots, which had greatly the taste of potatoes, though of a closer texture. They also were placed in the sun to dry before being cooked, and we found by putting them in dry sand that they would keep well for a considerable time. The yam is the root of a climbing plant which David called the Dioscoreo-sativa. It had tender stems, eighteen to twenty feet in length, and sharp-pointed leaves on long foot stalks. From the base of the roots are spikes of small flowers. The roots are black and palmated, and about a foot in breadth. Within they are white, but externally of a very dark brown colour. Besides this another sort was brought to us a little time afterwards, called the Dioscoreo-alata, very much larger than the former. Some, indeed, were fully three feet long, and weighed nearly thirty pounds.
"How it would delight an Irishman's heart to see a potato as big as this root!" exclaimed Leo. "It would be a hard matter, however, to find a pot big enough to boil it in, or to steam it afterwards, to make it mealy."
INCIDENTS DURING OUR RESIDENCE ON THE MOUNTAIN.
The boys were continually asking Timbo and Igubo when they were going to catch them another pet. They were with me one day when the two men arrived loaded with the flesh of an animal which Stanley had shot. "What is that?" I asked.
"He bery good eat," was the answer; "like a little horse."
"But what is it called in England?" I inquired. "Him zebra," he answered; "mark over back. We cooky for supper."
"I wish Stanley had caught him alive," said Leo. "Now, Timbo, cannot you manage to get a young one for us, or a couple, and then we could break them in, and make them carry us."
"Him no carry no one," answered Timbo. "He wild. Kick off, even dough you stick on like Chico."
"But we could soon teach Chico to ride it. I suspect that it would puzzle even a zebra to kick him off."
"We will try," said Timbo. "We go and make many pitfalls; but take care, Massa Natty, you no tumble in when tiger or leopard dere."
I found that the men had already dug some pitfalls, though hitherto, excepting a koodoo, nothing had been caught in them.
Next morning they set off to visit the pits, accompanied by the boys. In rather more than an hour they came back, Leo and Natty dragging a beautiful little animal between them, while the two men brought the head and skin and a quantity of meat of another. David, who was with me, ran out to meet them.
"They have got a gemsbok!" he exclaimed; "one of the most interesting of the antelope tribe. It is known also as the oryx."
"How did you catch it?" he asked.
"We found it in the pit!" exclaimed the boys at once; "the mother and the young one. Poor little creature. The mother fought so furiously that the men were obliged to kill her, and not till then could we get the young one out. But it will make a capital playmate for the koodoo."
"It is very hungry," said David. "We will try if it will take some milk."
While Leo and Natty ran off to milk a goat, the men held the little animal, which, though it trembled, made no attempt to escape. David examined the head of the larger one. It had beautiful horns, nearly three feet in length, slightly curving backwards, and of a shiny black colour, and very slender. The mane and tail were very like those of a horse, while the shape of the head and the colour were those of an ass, the legs and feet, however, showing it to be an antelope. Both the horns were so exactly equal that I could fancy a person taking a side view of the animal might imagine them to be one and the same; and David said that the gemsbok has often therefore been supposed, by those who have seen it at a distance only, to be the unicorn which the ancients believed to exist. The little calf was of a reddish cream colour, and was so small that the horns had scarcely yet appeared. Timbo told us that the gemsboks were generally seen in small herds. Probably this one and its calf had been separated from their companions, as no others had been taken. It is one of the swiftest quadrupeds of Africa, indeed its speed is almost equal to that of the horse. Herds of them are generally found in districts devoid of water, as they can go a long time without drinking, having receptacles in their inside somewhat like those of a camel, though much smaller, for retaining fluid.
As soon as the milk was brought David tried to feed the little creature with a spoon instead of the bottle, and after a few attempts it willingly swallowed the milk. He then applied the bottle to its mouth, and as soon as it found out its contents it sucked it eagerly; he had hopes, therefore, of being able to bring it up. Kate and Bella, summoned by the boys, now came in to inspect their new pet. It allowed Bella to stroke it and pet it without evincing any fear, and when she fastened a handkerchief round its neck it followed her willingly.
"What a dear little creature!" she exclaimed. "We must give it a name, though. I do not think gemsbok is pretty. I like oryx better."
"I am afraid, however, when he gets his horns he will prove rather a dangerous companion," observed David, looking at the head of the larger animal which lay on the ground outside the hut. "It will fearlessly encounter the most savage animals of the desert, and instances have occurred where it has succeeded in killing even a lion or tiger which had incautiously sprung on its dagger-like weapon of defence."
"Oh, it will be a long time before those grow!" said Leo. "We can pad them, or cut off their tips, and then it can hurt no one, even in play."
Stanley and the two black boys were out hunting, and in the evening they appeared, the boys carrying slung on two poles an animal which we saw at once was alive.
"Why, it is a little horse!" cried Leo, running down the hill. "The zebra we have been so longing for!" exclaimed Natty.
They soon arrived at the encampment, Stanley highly delighted with his prize. It was curious that the two animals they had been so long wishing for should have been taken on the same day.
"He has given us a great deal of trouble," said Stanley, as the little creature was brought up to be inspected by the girls and I. "I doubt if we shall ever make him reconciled to captivity. He struggled and kicked so much that we had great difficulty in getting hold of him, and as to making him come along with us, that was impossible. The harder we pulled one way the more determined he was to go another, and at length Mango suggested that we should sling him as you see, and he could then no longer help himself. But it was no easy matter to get him into the slings."
The little zebra was somewhat more clumsily shaped than a pony's colt, and about the size of one three or four weeks old. A pen had been built for the koodoo, and into this the two animals were now introduced. Koodoo gazed at them with looks of astonishment, but in a short time ran up to the little oryx and seemed to welcome it.
"I do not know whether they understand each other's language," said Bella, "but it strikes me koodoo is telling little oryx that he is very well treated, and recommending him to be reconciled to his fate."
The zebra, however, would not go near them, and whenever they approached ran off round and round the pen. In a short time it became hungry, and David, accompanied by Timbo, with a calabash of milk, went in to try and feed it. Timbo had some difficulty in catching it, for whenever he drew near it kicked out viciously, and then scampered off. It was, however, at length caught, and though at first when David tried to put the milk into its mouth it kept its teeth closed just as as a child does when medicine is offered it, it at length allowed some to be poured down its throat.
I was now sufficiently recovered to walk about the camp with the aid of a stick. Sometimes Kate and Bella assisted to support me, and when Leo and Natty were within they were always ready to offer me their arms. We never ventured to leave the camp without a guard; for since the first visit of the lion I have described to our neighbourhood we had frequently heard his roar, although he had not ventured to come nearer. Our life, indeed, was not altogether free from anxiety, for we could not hide from ourselves the danger which the hunters especially ran from wild beasts, nor could we be certain either that the natives in the neighbourhood might not some day prove treacherous. Stanley, grown bold by immunity, increased the length of his expeditions, and frequently did not return till after nightfall. One day he went out accompanied by Igubo and his two sons, leaving the rest of us to work in the garden and to keep watch over the camp.
"How long shall you remain away?" asked Kate. "It makes us feel so anxious when you are absent."
"You can dispense with our protection for a couple of nights, I hope, at all events," he answered. "We have no enemies to fear; and, in truth, two nights spent in the wilds at a time are sufficient to satisfy even my love of sport. If we had waggons to carry our provisions, and horses to ride, the case might be different; but even if we get the game we cannot bring it back, so you may rely on our reappearance at the time I propose."
I did not see them in the morning, as they went away before I had risen. Stanley had been absent two days, when, as the weather was cool, the boys begged me and their sisters to come down and take a paddle on the lake. I was able, I thought, to walk down and back again with their assistance, and as David thought I should benefit by the amusement, he advised me to go, Timbo remaining, while Jack went as captain. Chico, as usual, accompanied us, and hopping into the canoe, took his seat in the bows. As we paddled along we had abundance of matter to interest us, in the numerous birds which skimmed along the water or sat perched on the trees. Bella pointed out some beautiful turtle-doves, which were sitting happily on their nests above the water gently uttering their low coos to each other. Not far off we espied an ibis perched on the stump of a tree, shattered probably by lightning.
"I should like to bring her down for her impertinence," cried Leo. "Listen to her loud 'Wa—wa—wa.' She is trying to drown the voices of your favourites, Bella."
Though we passed close by, the ibis seemed in no way disposed to move, but continued shouting "Wa—wa—wa." However, she was not allowed to cry alone, for near her sat three fish-hawks piping away in the same fashion. Leo was about to stop and take a shot at one of them, but Kate intreated him to let the bird alone, and we rowed on, leaving him and his companions piping away to their hearts' content. Presently we saw a moderately-sized bird, like a plover, darting here and there, and uttering a peculiar sound. "Tine—tine—tine," cried Leo; "what is that you say?" Presently a white-necked raven, which was sitting on a stump some way down, flew off, shrieking with fear, as the plover pursued it.
"Well, that is a coward," said Leo. "He is running away from a bird half his size."
"Very wise," observed Jack. "Timbo, when he was out with me the other day, told me they call him the 'hammering iron,' on account of his 'Tine—tine—tine' cry. But it is not his cry which makes the raven fly off. He has got a sharp spur on his shoulder, just like that on the heel of a cock, and he could dig it into the raven, and soon draw its life-blood."
On went the plover to a bank a little way ahead, where it pitched on what we thought at that distance was a log of wood. As we paddled up the seeming log turned into a huge crocodile basking in the sun.
"Stop paddling," I cried to the boys. "Let us see what the plover is about."
It ran along the back of the reptile, but stopped on the top of its snout, and then with perfect fearlessness actually flew down into its gaping mouth. I then recollected an account I had read of a bird on the Nile of that description, which is known by the name of siksak—the trochilus. It is stated by two or three credible witnesses that it performs the part of tooth-picker to the monster. Whether it was so occupied or not we could not tell, but presently the crocodile appeared to rouse itself up and to crawl towards the water, into which he plunged, diving down out of sight.
"There goes Master Tine—tine—tine flying away. I suppose he will go and warn his other friends," said Jack. "That is his business, so Timbo says; and when these birds are about you can never get a shot at a crocodile."
As we continued paddling on we were convinced that they had been warned of our approach, for they all betook themselves to the water long before we got near them. Proceeding we reached a part of the river where the banks were steep and composed of sand. Presently we saw a creature crawling out of the water, and making its way up the bank.
"What creature can that be?" asked Natty.
"A water-turtle!" I exclaimed; for I recognised it from the descriptions I had seen of it.
Presently it came to a steep part of the bank, and as it was climbing up it fell, and lay helpless on its back.
"We will make prize of him," cried Jack. "Paddle away, boys."
We were soon up to the bank, when Jack sprang out of the canoe, and before the turtle could recover itself he had seized it in his arms and placed it in the bottom of the canoe. There the creature lay utterly helpless. While the canoe's bows were on the shore, Chico, who had got tired of sitting so long in one position, made a spring on to the land to pick some fruit which grew on a low bush at no great distance. The boys were so interested in watching the turtle that, without seeing that Chico was absent, they shoved off, and had already got to some little distance when they discovered that we had left one of our company behind. Chico, having filled his paws with fruit, ran down the bank.
"Hillo, old fellow!" exclaimed Jack, "we will come in for you."
The current, however, just then took the canoe's head, and we drifted some way down before we could turn back. At that instant we saw a ripple in the water, and presently the huge head of a crocodile was projected above it. The monster darted forward; and poor Chico, before he was aware of his danger, was seized by its huge jaws. In vain we cried out and shrieked at the top of our voices. The crocodile had got hold of its prey. Chico struggled, but he was as helpless as a mouse in the fangs of a cat. "Oh, save him, save him!" shrieked out Bella; but it was too late. Though the boys paddled with might and main, before they reached the shore the crocodile sank beneath the surface, dragging the poor ape with him. A little circle alone marked the spot where it had gone down.
"There is one who will pay you off for that," cried Jack, looking into the water as if in search of the crocodile. "When Igubo hears of it he will be after you, depend on it."
We all felt sad at the loss of our pet, and much as we had enjoyed the early part of the trip, it certainly spoiled the pleasure of the remainder.
"Poor Chico!" exclaimed Natty every now and then. "I little thought you would come to so untimely an end."
Bella cried outright, and Kate could scarcely restrain her feelings. We now proceeded back to the landing-place, and Jack and the boys having drawn up the canoe to the spot where she usually lay concealed, we commenced our return home. My young cousins and Natty assisted me up the hill. We had got to about half the distance, when a loud roar came from the thicket I have before mentioned. "Roar away!" cried Jack, "you will not frighten us." Bella, and even Kate, could not, however, help trembling at the sound; indeed, there is something peculiarly terrific in the cry of the lion in his native wilds. I trusted that he would confine himself to roaring, and not attempt to approach nearer. The boys and Jack looked to their guns.
"We will be ready for him if he dares to show his face," cried Jack. "Now, you young gentlemen fire first, if he looks as if he was going to attack us. I will keep my fire in case you miss."
The lion, however, allowed us to gain our home, where we found David and Timbo looking out for us, and ready to fire at the beast should he approach.
"But where Chico?" cried Timbo when he saw us. Jack told him what had happened. "When I tell Igubo, he soon punish crocodile," he said. "Igubo great crocodile hunter."
"But what have you there, Jack?" asked David, as he saw the turtle which Jack had brought up on his back. "Well, you have indeed a prize, for the turtle will be a pleasant addition to our bill of fare."
When the girls went to their hut, we examined the water-turtle, which Timbo and Jack at once prepared for cooking. Opening it, we found that it had upwards of thirty eggs in its body. The shells were flexible, and the same size at both ends, like those of the crocodile.
"Dis make one bery fine dish," said Timbo, "and de liber is first-rate. We hab it ready for when de captain come back."
"We must leave the charge of cooking it to you," said David, "for I doubt whether my sisters will understand the art so well."
Part of the turtle was cooked, and supper made ready, but still our friends did not appear. Night drew on, and we became somewhat anxious. At last David advised his sisters to take supper and to return to their hut, while we sat up waiting for the party. Hour after hour passed by, and still they did not appear. At last David insisted on the boys and I going to bed, while he and Jack and Timbo kept watch. Every now and then we could hear the roar of the lion in the distance, replied to by their loud shouts to scare him away. I could only hope that my cousins were asleep: as for myself, I could not close my eyes. Not a breath of wind was stirring, not a sound was heard except that ominous roar which occasionally broke the silence of night. At length David came in, pretty well tired out, and lay down, saying that Jack had undertaken to keep the morning watch. I also, in spite of my anxiety, at last fell asleep. I awoke suddenly with the sound of the lion's roar in my ears. It seemed far louder and dearer than before. Could it be fancy? The morning light was streaming in through an opening over the door, which we had left to admit air. Again I heard that fearful roar. I started up, for it seemed to be in the very midst of our camp. I thought of my young cousins and the boys, who were likely enough to have gone out early. I sprang to the opening, and there I saw, in the very midst of the cattle-yard, an enormous lion, his head lifted up proudly, while his huge paws were placed on one of the animals he had struck down. Never had I seen so magnificent a creature—his vast mane covering his neck and shoulders, while his tail waved to and fro as a signal of defiance, looking up as if he saw an enemy approaching. The other animals, terror-stricken, were trying to force their way out of the yard. I could see no one. What had become of Jack and Timbo I could not tell. They could not have deserted their posts, for both had given too many proofs of courage to make me suppose so. Calling to David, who was yet sleeping soundly, I seized my gun; but when I returned, the lion had gone, with the animal he had struck down. David and I rushed out of the hut. At that moment there were several shots. Looking out in the direction from which the roars had previously come, I saw the lion bounding away along the hill, still apparently unwounded.
"Has he gone? has he gone?" I heard Leo and Natty shouting out. "Yes, yes! and he has carried off our little gemsbok!"
"But where are Jack and Timbo?" I asked. "How was it they let the creature come in?"
"They heard some shots in the distance, and thinking that they were fired as signals by Stanley and his party, they were just setting off to meet them, and the lion must have taken that opportunity of coming into our camp. They had not got far, and must have caught sight of the lion as he was making his escape. It is a mercy the girls are safe!"
As they were speaking, Jack and Timbo came back. "Well, I never did think he was going to play us so scurvy a trick," exclaimed Jack, "or we would not have left the camp. But what do you fancy those shots can mean, Mr Crawford?"
Both David and I agreed, however, that they were probably fired by Stanley or his companions, either at some animals, or as a signal to give us notice of their return; and we therefore begged Jack and Timbo to proceed as they had purposed, while we remained on the watch for the lion, should he venture to come back. Kate and Bella now came out of their hut, and great was their grief at hearing of the loss of one of their pets—the most promising, indeed, of all, for in a few days it had become so thoroughly tame, that it would follow them about like a lamb. They, like us, had been kept awake the greater part of the night, and, owing to this, had not been aroused by the sound of the lion's voice; indeed, the events I have described occupied less time than I have taken to write them. The boys now employed themselves in collecting the trembling animals, who had not yet recovered from the fright which the appearance of their dread enemy had given them. The little koodoo and zebra had, however, been safe in their pen, or they would probably have run off, and we should have seen no more of them.
"I did not fancy that a lion could have leaped so high a palisade," said David; "but I see we must take other measures to secure our camp for the future. I believe that even a lion cannot break through an enclosure of prickly-pear, and I propose that as soon as Stanley comes back we all set to work to surround our camp with a thick line of it; and if we fasten a fringe of its sharp leaves to the top of our fence, we shall be able to bid defiance to either lion or leopard. I doubt, indeed, if elephants, or even human beings, would willingly assail such a fortification as ours will then be."
I fully agreed with David, and we settled that we would immediately set to work and collect the cactus plants which grew in abundance on the hill-side.
"They will be very hungry when they do come back," said Kate, "and therefore, Bella, you and I will prepare breakfast for them forthwith."
David and I assisted them in getting the repast ready, and our anxiety was shortly relieved by Leo running in exclaiming that Stanley and all hands were coming up the hill. "They have got no end of game," he added—"birds and beasts enough to feed us all for a month to come, if we were in Siberia and could freeze the meat and keep it till we want it, instead of being in the middle of Africa. Unless we can salt it pretty quickly, however, it will not be fit for much by to-morrow morning."
Having thus delivered himself, he ran out again, and down the hill. In a short time our friends arrived, pretty well tired out, however, for they had been to a long distance, and found it impossible to reach home the night they had intended. They had therefore encamped a few miles off, and started again at dawn. The shots we had heard had, as we supposed, been fired by them to give us notice of their approach. They had pushed on without stopping for breakfast, and were duly grateful to Kate and Bella for enabling them thus speedily to satisfy their hunger.
Stanley said he had a long account to give us of their adventures. They had fallen in with a native village, the inhabitants of which appeared to be inclined to be friendly, and had invited them to join in a grand hunting expedition. "I will tell you all about it as soon as I have eaten something," said Stanley. "But what is this I hear of a visit from a lion? Did the brute actually dare to leap into the midst of our camp and carry off one of its inmates? It shall not be the fault of my rifle if he does not pay dearly for his freak before another sun rises."
STANLEY'S ADVENTURES AMONG THE PEOPLE OF KABOMBA.
We were, of course, eager to hear Stanley's adventures.
"Finding the day tolerably cool, though I doubt if our friends in England would have called it so, we pushed on further south than we have ever gone before," said Stanley. "The country, though wooded in parts, was generally open, and we had little difficulty in making our way across the prairie. I have never seen such large herds of buffaloes, zebras, gnus, rhinoceroses, and giraffes. Had we been mounted, we should have had no difficulty in coming up with them, but on foot it was a very different matter. Often, as we got up to them, almost within range of our rifles, they were off again, leaving us standing alone, without a hope of overtaking them. As the sun rose higher and grew hotter, the buffaloes and rhinoceroses retired to their coverts, as did many of the other animals, the zebras and giraffes alone defying the sun's rays. I now hoped, by keeping under shelter of the woods, we might the more easily surprise some of the animals we were in search of. Before proceeding further, however, I proposed that we should open our wallets and dine; and having selected a shady spot under tree at a little distance from the forest, where there was probability of our being surprised by any prowling leopard or hungry lion, we formed our noonday camp. We had not sat long, when Mango came in and told us that he had seen the head of a buffalo projecting from the forest at some little distance, and that he was sure there must be several there. I had been so annoyed at not killing anything, that, without finishing my dinner, I set off with Mango to try and reach the spot unobserved by our expected prey. We at once got under shelter of the wood, and worked our way along through the borders of the forest, hoping to get up to the spot without disturbing the herd. Mango at length made me understand by signs that we had now reached the place where he had seen the buffalo. I can tell you they are very different animals from those we met with further to the north. These are pictures of brute strength and ferocity, their horns, short and curling, but pointed like daggers, meeting at the roots, where they form a thick mass, serving as a helmet to the animal. I was afraid of coming suddenly upon them, for I knew that if startled they would be off before I could obtain a shot. Mango was positive that we were near them. He suggested at last that we should climb a tree, whence we might survey the neighbourhood. Finding one, we mounted it, and when I had got a steady footing, I looked round me, hoping to discover the animals. Not a living creature, however, stirred. At last my companion pointed out some dark objects just seen indistinctly through the thick foliage. They were the backs of the buffaloes, I had little doubt. I fired, but nothing moved, and I could not help supposing that I had mistaken some large stone for a living creature. To settle the matter, I again loaded and fired. At the report of the gun, half-a-dozen superb male buffaloes sprang to their feet, and, tossing their heads, sniffed the air for a few seconds, and darted off through the wood. My companion and I immediately descended the tree and I made chase in the hopes of coming up with them by following their tracks. We proceeded for some little way along the borders of the forest, when Mango stopping, pointed ahead, and I saw a vast herd of buffaloes—there might have been nearly three hundred of them—suddenly rushing out of the wood, overthrowing and stamping down every object they met with in their headlong course. We rushed back towards the wood, where alone we could hope for safety. A portion of it projected some way at an angle from that part whence the buffaloes had issued. They espied us, however, and came tearing on across the open. We dashed in among the underwood, but before we had got far they were at our heels. Two savage brutes led the way. The horns of the first were almost into poor Mango. A tree with low branches was near me. It would afford us the only prospect of safety. Had I stopped for a moment to fire, it would have been too late, and it might not have served to turn them in their course. I sprang to the tree, helping up the boy, who had barely time to get out of the way of the leader's horns, when the herd rushed by us. I turned round and fired, but having to cling to the tree, I had great difficulty in taking aim. The effect of the report was to bring the whole herd to a halt, and, facing round, they confronted us in one dark and formidable phalanx, as if they had resolved to besiege us in our tree. I remembered the way you, Andrew, had been caught by the elephant, and I fancied that the buffaloes were about to treat us in the same manner. One or two buffaloes might have been disposed of, but we had not ammunition sufficient to kill one half of our assailants, even should each bullet lay one low. They kept looking at us with savage glances, as if determined to punish us for our audacity. They looked, indeed, as if they could very easily have brought the tree in which we were perched down to the ground; and so they might, if they had known how to do it. I, however, resolved to try the effect of a few shots. I fired one, and felt sure I had hit the animal—a large bull—but he did not move. Again and again I fired, but, strange as it may seem, neither he nor any of the herd moved a foot, though they eyed me and my companion all the time with an ominous look, as if resolving how they should treat us. Every moment I expected them to charge. Suddenly, as I was about to fire for the fourth or fifth time, the whole herd, wheeling about with a curious shriek rather than a bellow, their heads lowered to the ground, and their tails swishing to and fro vehemently over their backs, off they set at a furious pace, which made the very ground tremble under their feet. Mango and I were left to follow them if we chose, or return to camp. We did the latter. I must confess I felt somewhat ashamed of my want of success when I resumed my seat by the fire. I consoled myself, however, with a couple of pigeons which Igubo had in the meantime roasted. Though we saw vast quantities of game of all sorts, we were equally unsuccessful, and at length I proposed to return, when Igubo pointed out some smoke rising over a belt of forest which appeared before us. He said that he was sure it arose from a native village, and as I was anxious to make the acquaintance of our neighbours, I resolved to push forward and visit them. I sent Igubo on ahead to win the confidence of the people by showing them that he was unarmed. He soon made a signal to us to come on, and I found him and the chief man apparently on the most friendly terms. The chief, a remarkably stout black, wore a scanty petticoat, with a fillet of crocodile's teeth round his head, a similar ornament on his neck, and bracelets on his arms. He was attended by a drummer, who, as I approached, beat with might and main to do me honour. His followers were armed with shields made of reeds, very cleverly woven, sufficiently long to protect the whole body and legs, and about three feet broad. At their backs hung quivers of iron-headed arrows, and two short broadswords were slung to their sides. The chief invited us into his hut. It was of good size, with a verandah in front. In a short time his wife and her attendants brought a large mess of manioc flour and some pieces of cooked meat, but what it was I did not at first inquire. After eating some, Igubo told me that it was zebra's flesh. In a hut opposite the chief's house, I observed the figure of an animal. On examining it I found that it was formed of grass, plastered over with soft clay. The eyes consisted of two cowrie shells; and a number of bristles, which appeared to be taken from elephants' tails, formed a sort of frill round the neck. It was more like a crocodile than any other animal; but Igubo inquiring, was told that it was a lion, though certainly it was very little like the king of beasts. On further inquiries, I found that it was the principal idol, or fetish, of the inhabitants, and that when the chief or any of the people are ill, their fetish men, or priests, assemble before it, and pray and beat drums, either to propitiate it or to arouse its attention, that it may drive away the evil spirits which they believe are the cause of the malady."
"Poor people, dey know no better," observed Timbo; for, with the privilege of an old servant, he did not scruple to join in our conversation at all times. "I go and talk to dem and tell dem better t'ings. I tell dem dat dere is one God who lubs dem, and when dey are ill dat dey pray to him. Dat he hear dem, when de fetish hab no ears to hear, and no way to do dem good."
"Oh yes, Timbo," said Natty, "I should like to go with you to those poor savages. It is sad to think that they should be so ignorant. I am sure it is our duty to try to tell them the truth."
"Yes, Massa Natty, we will go, please God," cried Timbo, looking at Natty with a glance of approbation.
"Timbo and I must beg your pardon for interrupting you, Captain Hyslop," said Natty. "Pray go on."
"Unfortunately, I could not understand their language sufficiently well to enter into such matters," observed Stanley. "I was going to say that their village was surrounded by palisades, very similar to those we have seen. The people were clothed in even more scanty garments than usual. On finding that we came without any hostile intentions, and were more likely to give than receive of them, they cordially welcomed us. They were in a state of commotion, nearly the whole village being prepared to turn out on a grand hunt. When they understood that we also were hunters, they invited us to accompany them. They had been forming for some time past a huge trap, called a hopo, about three or four miles away, near a stream in the neighbourhood, at which large numbers of game were accustomed to assemble. As the narrow end was toward the village, we were able to examine it on our way. The hopo consists of two hedges formed of stakes and boughs driven into the ground at a considerable distance from each other, toward the end opening into the wild part of the country where animals are likely to be found, and closing in toward each other till they almost approach. They then form a narrow passage, some sixty yards long, at the end of which a pit is dug, eight or ten feet deep, and fifteen or more in length and breadth. We found that trunks of trees were laid across the two ends, to prevent the animals which leap in from scrambling out again, which they would otherwise very easily do. The pit itself was also surrounded by high palisades, bound together by cross-pieces. Thus it formed a complete trap, from which it seemed almost impossible that any animals which have once entered could escape. The hole was likewise covered over with a sort of matting of green rushes, which concealed the pit below. As I and my dark-skinned companions proceeded along the hedge, I thought we should never come to the end of it. I calculated, indeed, that the hedges were upwards of a mile long, and the same distance apart at their extremities. The hunters now extended themselves, each man keeping within sight of the other, forming a circle round the broad entrance of the hopo of four or five miles in extent, thus surrounding a large area. I could see within it immense numbers of animals, giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, gnus, pallas, rhinoceroses, hartbeests, and, indeed, all sorts of deer, large and small. At a signal from their chief, which was passed along the line, they began to close in, shouting and shrieking at the top of their voices. On we went, the semicircle gradually decreasing, till we were within speaking distance of each other; and every mile we advanced the animals appeared to grow thicker and thicker, and I could count a dozen or more creatures of different species in sight at the same moment. Now a herd of a dozen buffaloes, now twenty zebras and as many cameleopards might be seen scampering over the plain, followed by numerous steinboks or koodoos, graceful oryxes or hartbeests leaping and bounding away before them. Now and then some of the animals would turn round and charge their pursuers, who fled on either side, darting their spears and often transfixing them. The zebras were amongst the most difficult to drive in. They seemed aware of their danger, and now one, open-mouthed, would charge at a hunter, who had to defend himself with his shield; and then a whole herd would break away, and, dashing through the cordon, gallop back to their native wilds. Still numbers were driven on. Buffaloes and giraffes were flying together, all fancying that they were escaping a common danger, while rushing on to destruction. At last the hedges of the hopo were reached, and on the outer side numerous hunters were stationed, shouting, and shrieking, and shaking their spears and shields, still further to increase the confusion of the terror-stricken animals. When any of them approached the hedge, a well-aimed spear was planted in their sides, the cries of the stricken animals increasing the terror of the rest. On pressed the hunters, driving the game closer and closer together, till, pressed up in one dense mass, even the most wary could no longer attempt to turn and fly. Fearful was the din of the shrieks and shouts which rent the welkin. The leading animals dashed madly forward, thinking to escape from their foes behind. The remainder followed, unable to see over the heads of those in front, but hoping that they had found a way to escape.
"By Igubo's advice, I had gone on the outside; for, in truth, the line of hunters which pressed on through the hopo was exposed to no little danger from the maddened beasts, which even now occasionally turning round, dashed through them, and the greatest activity alone could have saved the men from being trampled on by the terrified animals. Now a huge buffalo would leap into the pit through the slender covering of rushes; now a tall giraffe would go toppling over; an active koodoo or gemsbok would spring over their heads, to fall hopelessly into the same trap. In a short time the whole pit was filled with a living, moving, struggling mass of animals, fearful to look at. The savage hunters, wild with excitement, were spearing with relentless eagerness the poor creatures, those below being borne down by the weight of their hapless fellows who brought up the rear. A beautiful koodoo was among the latter. On it came, leaping away, having escaped the spears of its enemies. It reached the fatal pit. I could not help feeling an interest in the creature. Would it too be added to the victims? It hesitated not a moment, but bounding over the beams, seemed scarcely to touch the animals below, as with a spring it cleared the opposite side. In vain the hunters darted their spears. Off it dashed like the wind, and the satisfaction I felt at its escape made some amends to me for the misery and suffering I had beheld. I literally turned sick with horror, and hope I may never witness such a scene again. The savages, however, seemed to consider it magnificent sport, and stood over the pit plunging their spears into any animal which appeared moving. So far I was thankful, as it put them out of their misery. The hunters did not altogether escape. Some got severe kicks; several had been knocked over and trampled on, in spite of their activity. They had succeeded, however, in driving upwards of forty animals into the pit; for, of course, of those which had been first assembled, a large number had escaped, while a good many had been speared to death before reaching it, and others had escaped into the wilds with spears in their sides, there in most instances to die miserably. Their success put our new friends in excellent humour. They shouted, and shrieked, and danced as they hauled up the animals one by one out of the hopo, and eagerly commenced cutting them up and dividing the flesh. All was meat for their pots— the zebra and giraffe, as well as the buffalo and deer.
"It was nearly evening before the work was over. They pressed us to remain to see another on the following day, but I had had enough of it, and more than enough, indeed. I do not know how the case would have been if I had been very hungry and wanted food. Probably I might have experienced some of the satisfaction which our savage friends did. Igubo and his sons were highly delighted at the number of animals caught, at the same time he acknowledged that the way among his own people of catching game was far less cruel. Further to the north, large nets are spread round the trunks of trees, towards which the animals are driven, much in the manner I have just described. The nets, however, only serve for smaller animals, as large ones would break through them. People are stationed behind the trees to spear any creature of larger size which seems likely to break the nets.
"Our friends pressed on us some of the meat, which, as we had a few articles to give in exchange, we accepted, and parted very excellent friends.
"As I had no wish to spend a night in their huts, we pushed on as far as we could homewards, and did not stop while a ray of sunlight enabled us to see our way. We were pretty well tired with our day's exertions, but it was necessary to light fires, not only to cook our supper, but to guard ourselves against visits from any of the lions or hyenas which might be prowling about. We all therefore set to work to collect wood as fast as we could. While thus employed, I heard young Mango cry out; but on looking round in the direction where I had last seen him, he was nowhere visible. A dread seized me that a lion had carried him off; but again I heard him cry out, and on hurrying forward I was very nearly going head over heels into a deep pit, into which he had fallen. I shouted out to Igubo, who came to my assistance; and with the help of our belts we hauled him up. Mango's chief alarm had arisen from the dread of finding some animal at the bottom. I was very glad, when we drew him up, to discover that, excepting a few slight bruises, he was none the worse for his tumble.
"As may be supposed, we were cautious after this how we moved about, for we well knew that where one pit-fall had been formed, probably many more existed in the neighbourhood. We were glad when at last we had collected a sufficient supply of wood to last us through the night; and I almost fell asleep while putting the meat and cassava bread into my mouth. We had placed our packs by our sides, using some logs of timber for our pillows. Igubo had promised to keep the first watch; and so he did, I have no doubt, to the best of his ability. When, however, I at length awoke, I saw the fire very low, though there was just flame enough to cast its light on a creature stealthily creeping up towards us. I expected the next instant to be engaged in deadly combat with a panther or a lion. I sprang to my feet, seizing my rifle and calling to my companions. The next moment I saw that the creature was a jackal, and scarcely worthy of a shot. Still undaunted, he was on the point of seizing one of the packs nearest to him, when I hove a log of wood at his head. On this he beat a retreat, uttering a mocking shout of laughter—so it seemed to me—and quickly disappeared. The alarm he had caused prevented us wishing again to go to sleep; and well it was we did not, for directly afterwards the roar of a lion broke the silence of night. Igubo threw more logs on the five, and as the flames burst up we saw two or three huge monsters stalking round us, but afraid to approach. Now they came near enough for the light of the fire to shine on them; but directly afterwards, even before I could get my rifle ready to shoot, they had disappeared in the dark shades of the surrounding trees or bushes.
"As soon as it was daylight, we once more commenced our march. We had not gone far, when the two boys, who were a little in advance, came rushing back with countenances of dismay, to let us understand that they had suddenly come upon some huge beast which was on the point of springing on them. We advanced, in consequence, cautiously, expecting every moment to meet the monster. In a short time we caught sight of a gigantic tiger-wolf, or spotted hyena, sitting under a bush, and growling fiercely at us. I raised my rifle to fire, expecting the beast to spring; but it sat without moving. On getting nearer, what was my horror to see that his forepaws and the skin and flesh of the legs had been gnawed away! Still he showed his savage nature by endeavouring to crawl towards us. To put an end to his sufferings, I fired at his head, when he sank to the ground; and Igubo, running up to him, seized him by the tail, and struck him several times with his knife, though it was not until after repeated blows that an end was put to the creature's existence. How he had been thus mangled, I could not at first understand, till Igubo asserted that it had been done by a lion; that probably they had quarrelled over their prey, and that then the lion had attacked him and mangled him in the dreadful manner I have described. Had we not found him, he would certainly have died miserably in the course of another day or two, and very likely have fallen a victim to an army of soldier-ants.
"We met with several other adventures during the day, and managed somehow or other to lose our way, or we should have reached home before nightfall. Contrary to our intentions, we had therefore to camp out for another night. We had an ample supply of food, but no water could be found, and we had little more than a couple of pints to divide among us, which, though it might have been sufficient to supply an old lady with a cup of tea, was but little to satisfy the thirsty throats of travellers in this burning clime."
When Stanley heard of the attack made by the lion on our camp, he declared that he must set out at once and put a stop to his depredations. After a consultation, however, with Igubo, he agreed to wait till the evening, when they supposed the lion would go down to a spot near the river to drink. It was a small creek, rather, where the banks were sufficiently low and hard to allow the animals to reach the water without difficulty, which they could not do at many places along the borders of the lake on account of the wide fringe of reeds and thick underwood which encircled it.
"Is the gemsbok the only animal we have lost?"
"Oh no, indeed," cried Leo. "Poor Chico is gone!"
"What I did the lion carry him off?" asked Stanley.
"Oh no. A horrid monster of a crocodile," answered Leo. "I wish we could punish the brute."
Igubo seemed to understand what was said. "I do it," he remarked.
"Yes," said Timbo; "he say he kill crocodile; no 'fraid of crocodile!"
How he was going to manage it, however, he did not inform us.
As may be supposed, Stanley dropped to sleep over his breakfast, and was glad directly afterwards to go to bed. Igubo and his boys followed his example; but after a few hours' rest, they again appeared, as fresh as if they had not been undergoing severe exertion for a couple of days under an African sun.
"You come and see Igubo kill de crocodile," I heard Timbo say to Leo and Natty.
Igubo had provided himself with a piece of one of the animals which he had brought home, and which had become no longer eatable. He had fastened it to the end of a long rope, and his sons carried it down to the water. Timbo and Jack, with the two boys, set off after them; and, taking my rifle, I followed to see what would happen.
On reaching the river, Igubo threw in the meat as far as he could, fastening the end of the rope to the trunk of a tree. Then, on his making a sign to us to hide ourselves, we retired behind some bushes. In a short time the rope was violently tugged, and Igubo, throwing off his scanty garments, drew his sharp knife from its sheath, and sprang into the water. I could not refrain from crying out, and entreating him to come back; but he paid no heed to me, and swam on. Presently he disappeared, and I felt horror-struck at the thought that a crocodile had seized him; but directly afterwards the snout of the huge monster appeared above the water, Igubo rising at the same time directly behind it. The creature, instead of attempting to turn, made towards the bank, at a short distance off. Igubo followed; and I saw his hand raised, and his dagger descended into the side of the creature. Still the crocodile did not attempt to turn, but directly afterwards reaching the bank, climbed up it. Igubo followed, and again plunged his knife into the monster's side. Every instant I expected to see him seized by its terrific jaws; but the creature seemed terror-stricken, and made no attempt at defence. Again and again the black plunged in his knife, while the crocodile vainly endeavoured to escape. The next instant Igubo was on its back, and the creature lay without moving. A few minutes only had passed. It opened its vast jaws, each time more languidly than before, till at length it sank down, and, after a few struggles, was evidently dead. Igubo, springing up, flourished his knife over his head in triumph. Jack, running to the canoe, began to launch it. We all jumped in, and paddled off to the bank, Timbo bringing the rope with him. We fastened it round the crocodile's neck, and towed the body in triumph to the shore, up which we hauled it.
"Igubo say we find eggs not far off," said Timbo.
Mango and his brother, at a sign from their father, began at once hunting about, and in a short time called us to them. There was a large hole in the bank concealed by overhanging bushes. It was full of eggs, about the size of those of a goose. On counting them we found no less than sixty. The shell was white and partially elastic, both ends being exactly the same size. The nest was about four yards from the water. A pathway led up to it; and Igubo told Timbo, that after the crocodile has deposited her eggs, she covers them up with about four feet of earth, and returns afterwards to clear it away, and to assist the young out of the shells. After this, she leads them to the water, where she leaves them to catch small fish for themselves. At a little distance was another nest, from which the inmates had just been set free; and on a sandbank a little way down we caught sight of a number of the little monsters crawling about. They appeared in no way afraid of us as we approached, and Mango and his brother speared several. They were about ten inches long, with yellow eyes, the pupil being merely a perpendicular slit. They were marked with transverse stripes of pale green and brown, about half an inch in width. Savage little monsters they were, too; for though their teeth were but partly developed, they turned round and bit at the weapon darted at them, uttering at the same time a sharp yelp like that of a small puppy when it first tries to bark. Igubo could not say whether the mother crocodile eats up her young occasionally, though, from the savage character of the creature, I should think it very likely that she does, if pressed by hunger. As is well-known, the Ichneumon has the reputation on the banks of the Nile of killing young crocodiles; but Igubo did not know whether they ever do so in this part of the world. He and his boys collected all the eggs they could find, declaring that they were excellent for eating. They however told us that they should only consume the yoke, as the white of the egg does not coagulate. When it is known what a vast number of eggs a crocodile lays, it may be supposed that the simplest way of getting rid of the creatures is to destroy them before they are hatched. It would seem almost hopeless to attempt to exterminate them by killing only the old ones. However, I fancy they have a good many enemies, and that a large number of the young do not grow up. As we were walking along the bank, we saw, close to the water, a young crocodile just making his way into it; and Mango, leaping down, captured the little creature. Even then it showed its disposition by attempting to bite his fingers. On examining it, we found a portion of yoke, almost the size of a hen's egg, fastened by a membrane to the abdomen; and when we afterwards carried it up to David, he told us that he had no doubt it was left there as a supply of nourishment, to enable the creature to support existence till it was strong enough to catch fish for itself. Igubo declared that they caught the fish by means of their broad scaly tails. The eggs, I should say, had a strong internal membrane, and a small quantity only of lime in their composition.
We had some difficulty in inducing our friends to believe the account we gave them of Igubo's exploit. He however undertook, if they were not satisfied, to kill a crocodile in the same way another day.
"Oh! pray tell him not to make the attempt!" exclaimed Kate. "It is far too perilous; and though he may succeed once or twice, some day another crocodile may come in support of its companion and carry him off."
Igubo only laughed when this was said to him. He had killed crocodiles in that way since he was a boy, and there was no reason why he should not do so as long as he was able to swim.
While speaking of crocodiles, I should observe that the family of huge saurians, to which the monsters belong, is divided into three genera: Alligator is peculiar to America; Crocodilus is common both to the Old and New World; while a third, Gavialis, is found in the Ganges and other rivers on the continent of India. They differ in appearance from each other, but their habits in most respects are similar. The true crocodile, however, frequents occasionally the mouths of large rivers where the salt water enters, and it has been known to swim between different islands at considerable distances from each other. I believe that at the commencement of my journal I have sometimes inadvertently written alligator instead of crocodile, when speaking of the monsters we encountered so frequently.
STANLEY GAINS CREDIT AMONG THE NATIVES AS A LION-KILLER.
Again during the night the roar of the lion was heard. It put Stanley in a perfect fever; but David persuaded him not to go out and attempt to shoot the creature, as he was completely knocked up by the exertion of the previous days. The rest of us employed our time in collecting the prickly-pear for fortifying our post, as David had proposed. It was no easy matter, however, to cut the plants down.
"If we were to throw a rope over them, and draw the leaves on one side, we might do it," said Natty. "A good suggestion," I observed.
We carried it out. While the grown-up members of the party cut down the armed plants, the boys with ropes dragged them in large bundles up to the camp, round which we began to form with them a broad belt. It was hard work; but as there were numerous plants growing about, we had not far to go. We were encouraged to persevere by the assurance that our fortress would thus be almost impregnable to the attacks of wild animals. We yet further secured it by driving in stakes pointed at both ends outside the belt, which thus answered the purpose of a dry ditch, only it was more difficult even than a ditch would have been for unprotected feet to cross over.
At daylight next morning we continued our work, and had made considerable progress before the heat of the sun compelled us for a time to knock off. We had three fires lighted in the centre of our yard, and this probably prevented the lion making another attack, which he might otherwise have done. I was now so far recovered that I was able to accompany David and the boys on short shooting excursions. Although I never took pleasure in slaughtering animals for mere sport, yet it was necessary to kill them for the sake of supplying ourselves with food. The hills above the house swarmed with rock-rabbits, with which we could at all times plentifully supply our table. I had gone out the following morning with the two boys, keeping, of course, a careful look-out, lest a lion might still be in the neighbourhood, when Leo cried out, pointing to a rock above us—
"See, see! what a curious lump of feathers is up there!"
"What you suppose to be a lump of feathers has, I suspect, a head and wings and claws attached to them," said David. "If I mistake not, that is a bacha, a sort of falcon. Probably he is on the look-out for rock-rabbits, and he is hiding his head between his shoulders and crouching down that they may not discover him, but his sharp eyes are watching every movement of his prey. Before long, if we remain quiet, we shall see him pounce down on one of them should they venture out of their holes. The Dutch, I remember, call these rock-rabbits klipdachs. Poor creatures, they have good reason to be on their guard against the bacha. While he is there we are not likely to get a shot at one, for, cunning as he is, depend upon it some of the older ones have found out that he is in the neighbourhood."
We watched for some time. Now and then we saw a klipdach pop out of its hole, but presently draw back again, having caught sight of its powerful foe. Now another would come out, but hide away in its cave very quickly. Still the bacha remained without moving. He knew that in time the poor silly little klipdachs would grow careless, and, anxious for a game at play, would get too far from their homes to skip back before he could be down upon them. Presently what David said took place. First one klipdach appeared, and then another began running about or nibbling the grass close to the rocks, but it was clear that they were watching the bacha all the time. Still he did not move, and they began to run further and further out into the open ground. Then two or three came out together, and began leaping and frisking about. Presently the hitherto immovable bacha leaped off the rock, spreading wide its huge wings, and like a flash of lightning from a thunder-cloud darted down on a klipdach on which it had fixed its keen eye. In vain the unfortunate klipdach attempted to leap away. The bacha had cunningly noted the road it came. In an instant it was in its claws, the poor little creature screaming with terror. So rapid was its flight, that even if we had wished it we could not have killed the bird. Off it went to the pinnacle of the rock from whence it had descended, and there began tearing its prey, which, happily, it soon must have put out of pain. Though we waited some minutes, not another klipdach appeared, and we had to go on some considerable way before we again caught sight of any of the little creatures.
"Well," said David, "I do not know that it can matter much to the poor klipdachs whether they are shot by us or caught by the bacha, but at all events we will put them out of their suffering as soon as possible. Yet I do not think we ought to throw stones at him. He follows his nature, we follow ours."
After shooting as many rabbits as we required (by-the-by, their scientific name, David told me, is Hyrax capensis), we made a circuit, and took our way home along the plain. Leo and Natty were a little in advance, when they came running back saying they had seen a big snake, but before they could shoot it it had got away. Whether venomous or not, of course they could not tell, but Leo declared that, from its appearance, he was nearly certain it was so. It was a somewhat sandy open spot, though a few bushes were near, among which we supposed the snake had hid itself. We of course advanced carefully, when presently in the distance we saw running over the ground a couple of curious-looking birds, with long legs and a remarkable crest, which Leo declared looked like a lawyer's wig. We hid ourselves behind a bush, and the birds, not seeing us, came boldly on. On a nearer approach David pointed out some feathers which seemed to stick out behind the ear.
"They must be secretary birds," he whispered; "known as the Serpentarius cristatus. They are determined enemies of serpents, and will attack the most venomous without fear. The secretary bird is so called on account of that crest at the back of his head, which looks something like a pen stuck behind the ear. One might suppose, on account of his long legs, that he should be classed among the cranes and storks, but his curved beak and internal organisation show that he belongs to the falcon tribe. His feet are incapable of grasping, and thus he runs along as we see over the sandy ground with a speed which enables him to overtake the most active reptiles."
Presently we saw the birds dart off, and in another instant a large snake rose up before them. One stood still, while the other gave battle to the reptile. The serpent made every attempt to get back to its home, but the bird each time sprang before it with an active leap, and cut off its retreat. Whenever the serpent turned, the bird again placed itself in its front. At length the reptile, as if determined to try what courage would do, raised up its head, which swelled with rage, and displayed its menacing throat and inflamed eyes, hissing fiercely. No human being would have wished at that moment to have encountered it. For an instant the bird stopped, but it was not for want of courage; and spreading out its wings, it covered itself with one of them, while with the other, which was armed with horny protuberances like little clubs, it struck the serpent a blow which knocked it over. Again and again the serpent rose to receive the same treatment, till at length it lay quiet on the grass. The bird instantly flew upon it, and with one stroke of its powerful bill laid open its skull, and then immediately pressing it to the ground with its feet, held it fast. We were unable to see whether it swallowed the head or not, for its companion catching sight of us, they ran off with their prey to devour it at their leisure.
Curiously enough, we were to make the acquaintance of yet another bird before we got home; for, proceeding onwards, we caught sight of a zebra coming towards us. It advanced but slowly, now stopping, now moving on a little way. When it caught sight of us it turned round and attempted to go back. We then saw that a shaft was sticking in its side, from which the life-blood was flowing. It went on a little way, and then down it sank on the ground. We had no doubt that it was one of the creatures which had been speared at the hopo hunt when Stanley was present, and having escaped, had wandered thus far from its usual haunts. Scarcely had it disappeared, when we saw coming from a distance a large flight of crows, who with loud croakings descended to the ground. Presently a number of kites and buzzards approached from far and near, though an instant before not a bird was to be seen, and alighted on the same spot. We hurried on, wishing to get a sight of the spectacle; but before we got up, David pointed out, high above us in the air, a huge bird, which came wheeling round in a spiral line, seemingly out of the sky, towards the same spot.
"I know that fellow," he said; "he is an oricus. He builds his nest far up among the mountains, in the fissures of rocks. He equals in size the famed condor of America, and if we could kill one, we should find that across the wings when expanded he measures ten feet. No bird is bolder in flight. At daybreak he left his aerie, and mounting in the sky far beyond the reach of human vision, watched with telescopic eye the creatures wandering on the earth's surface. That poor zebra was seen by him probably long ago, and he knew well that he must shortly become his prey."
While David was speaking, numerous other oricus descended like the first. Their common name is the sociable vulture—Vultur oricularis. By the time we got up to the spot, the poor zebra was half torn to pieces by their powerful claws. The oricus having satisfied their hunger, and carried off what they required for their young, the buzzards approached, followed in a short time by the crows, who quickly denuded the bones of flesh.
On reaching home, we found that a stranger had arrived from the nearest village to the north of us, which Stanley had once visited. He came with a sad story. A young child had strayed out from the village the previous morning, and had been carried off by a lion, and the father and another man, going in search of the animal, had not since returned; but evident signs had been discovered that they also had been killed. A panic had seized the people, and they had sent to ask our assistance to destroy their fierce assailant with our guns. They knew well, from the way the lions attacked them, that they were accustomed to human flesh, which, when once a lion has tasted, it is said, he will always attempt again to obtain. The poor people declared that there would be no safety for them unless the lions were killed, for night after night they would come, and no one would be able to go beyond their enclosures without the risk of being seized. The difficulty was to find the lions, for they were as cunning as ferocious, and the blacks declared that, by eating men's flesh, they had obtained some of the sense of human beings.
"We will soon put that to the test," said Stanley, jumping up. "Tell him, Igubo, if he will go with you and I, and show us where we can fall in with the lion, we will soon give an account of him."
The stranger expressed his gratitude, and Igubo at once consented to accompany Stanley. I confess I felt somewhat unwilling that he should go, for he would thus completely put himself in the power of the strangers, of whose honesty we had had no proof. Igubo, however, fully believed them faithful, and would, I was sure, not desert him. I proposed that we should all go out in the day-time, and attempt to fall in with the lion man-eaters; but the stranger black said that would be useless, as they were sure to keep out of the way. He knew, however, he told us, of a spot which they were likely to visit in the early part of the night. It was a pool in a small stream which ran into the river, where numerous wild animals came to drink.
"But, dear Stanley, what is the use of you exposing yourself thus at night," said Kate. "The lions will surely visit the village, and could you not shoot them when they come? At the spot the stranger speaks of, you will be surrounded by ferocious creatures, and though you may kill one or two of them, the others may set upon you, and your life may be sacrificed."
Stanley laughed at the notion.
"In the first place, dear sister, the lions will not show themselves till some unfortunate person passes," he said. "Thus I might have to wait day after day without killing one. Now, our friend here declares that every night they go down to the water, so that I am sure to meet them. Let us manage it, and do not be afraid. We shall return in safety, and probably have been of service to these poor people, by getting rid of their savage enemies."
"Oh! let us accompany you," cried Leo and Natty. "We will take care of Stanley," said Leo; "so do not be afraid, Kate."
"Thank you; but the man-eaters might carry one of you off," answered Stanley; "so I must decline your company. I would rather have my two black-skinned friends as companions, for depend upon it they know more about the matter than any one else."
"Massa," said Timbo, "I ever go out shooting wid you. I no take care of you?"
"Yes, indeed you have," answered Stanley; "but I want you now to stay at home and look after the camp. If there is any risk, it is better that one should run it than both."
This answer satisfied Timbo, and Stanley having partaken of the supper which Kate and Bella insisted on preparing for him, set off with Igubo and the stranger. They carried the two best rifles, with a supply of powder and bullets. I found that Jack and Timbo had been busily employed in manufacturing a sort of infernal machine for the destruction of wild beasts. They had selected a musket with a large bore, and they proposed using this as a sort of spring-gun. Jack told me that while we had been away, a huge hyena had been seen in the neighbourhood, and as they are cunning animals and not easily overtaken, they thought it would be the best way of getting rid of so dangerous a neighbour. There was still sufficient light by the time they had finished preparing the gun to plant it in the neighbourhood. The boys and I accompanied them out. Timbo selected two trees, to which they lashed the gun in an almost horizontal position, the muzzle only pointing slightly upwards. A piece of wood about six inches long was fastened to the gun stock so as to move easily backwards and forwards. A piece of string connected the lower part of this with the trigger. To the upper end a long piece of cord was fastened, which was carried through one of the empty ram-rod tubes, and then tied to a lump of flesh, fastened round the muzzle of the gun. As can thus easily be understood, an animal seizing the flesh pulls the lever which draws the trigger, and at the same moment that it has the meat in its mouth, the probabilities are that its brains will be blown out. However, that it should not take the meat sideways, or come behind it and thus escape, Timbo formed a fence round the spot, leaving only a narrow opening just in front of the muzzle of the gun.
"Now," said Timbo, "here are five bits of meat to tempt de hyena to come up to de trap. You go dere, you go dere, you go dere;" and we all, as he pointed out, went in different directions round the spot to some distance, and then dragged the tainted meat up towards the trap. "Now, we go home; and to-morrow morning we find hyena dead," he said.
It was indeed time, as darkness was coming on, and it was just possible that the hyena might prefer one of us to the bait which we had so kindly left for him. Scarcely, however, had we reached home, when a loud report was heard.
"If dat hyena, I bery glad we did come away," said Timbo; "but we not go now. Perhaps other hyenas dere. We kill anoder to-morrow night."
It was quite dark when we got home. Our anxiety for the return of Stanley prevented any of us from going to bed. Three hours had passed away since nightfall, and still he did not make his appearance. I saw that Kate was becoming very anxious—indeed I could not help feeling so myself. At last I proposed to Timbo that we should go out and try and find him.
"Dat I will, Massa Andrew," he answered. "Dough he not let me go wid him, he no say dat I not to come afterwards."
With our rifles in our hands, and our long knives at our belts, we sallied forth.
"Thank you, Andrew," said Kate, as I was going out. "I cannot help fearing that some accident may have happened to Stanley, and you will do your utmost to find him. I am sure you will."
Timbo, who had several times accompanied his master to the village I have spoken of, was tolerably certain of the direction we should take. As we walked on, feeling our way in difficult places with the long poles we carried in our hands, our ears were assailed by the screeching of night-birds and the occasional roars and mutterings of wild beasts. A feeling of awe gradually crept over me, produced by the wild sounds and the peculiar scenery through which we were passing. On one side rose the hills, with dark rocks cropping out amidst the thick foliage; while, on the other, the river flowed by with a murmuring sound, reflecting the bright stars from the dark sky overhead. Far away to the right were sombre forests, with openings here and there, across which phantom forms were seen flitting to and fro, though so indistinct were they that we could not tell what animals they might be.
"I t'ink we get near where de captain come to shoot," said Timbo in a low voice. "We go slow now, and take care dat no lion or 'noceros see us."
We moved on, but could hear no sounds. Presently we saw, a little way below us, the stream of which we were in search.
"Can the captain have left it, and passed us on the way?" I whispered to Timbo. We were now close down to the stream. "What is that?" I asked, pointing to a huge mass on the opposite side. "Surely there lies the body of an elephant; and what are those creatures near us on the left?"
"Dey leopards," whispered limbo. "De captain hab been here and killed dem, no doubt about dat."
Just as he was speaking, emerging from a clump of low wood, there appeared directly before us a magnificent lion. The creature stopped and lifted up his head, moving his tail slowly to and fro, as if about to spring forward. Now he crept on and on. Presently he uttered a loud roar. I stepped back, instinctively bringing my rifle to my shoulder; but at that moment there was the flash of a gun, and a loud report came, apparently out of the ground close in front of us, and the huge lion sprang high up into the air. Scarcely, however, had the report ceased echoing in our ears, than from another clump, a little way on our right, I caught sight of an enormous rhinoceros, who seemed at that moment to have discovered that he had an enemy close to him. I felt sure it was Stanley who had fired. I shouted out to him. He answered me, "All right!" not apparently perceiving the approach of a new assailant. On dashed the huge rhinoceros, dipping his snout, as he descended into the water, beneath the surface, his eyes alone remaining above it. He was making directly for where I supposed Stanley lay hid. There was no time for him to reload, and I felt sure that the monster would gore him or trample over his body. I had never prided myself on my shooting, but I felt now or never was the time to take steady aim, or the life of my cousin might be sacrificed, while Timbo and I, indeed, were placed in no little danger. Aiming at the creature's head, near its left eye, I fired. Instantly it rose up, uttering a loud bellow, but still came floundering on across the stream. "Up, Stanley, up!" I shouted out. "Timbo, do you fire, or the captain may be killed!" Timbo drew his trigger. Again the creature was hit, but still his progress was not stopped. Wading or swimming, it had just reached the bank, close to where Stanley lay. Again I shrieked out to him. He was attempting to reload without getting up, for which, indeed, he had not time. In another instant I expected to see the sharp horn of the rhinoceros plunged into his side, when it suddenly stopped and rolled over into the stream.
"A capital night's sport!" exclaimed Stanley, springing up, his nerves in no way shaken by the fearful danger he had gone through—for I fully believe that had he missed the lion, which was on the point of springing on him, he must have been killed; and had we not been near to defend him from the rhinoceros, nothing could have saved him. Just as Stanley had finished loading his gun, a loud roar echoed through the woods, and we saw, coming out from behind the back of the elephant, another large lion. We could almost distinguish the grin on his features as he stood shaking his head, but yet not daring to approach. The ferocious beast, which we concluded from his size was one of the man-eaters, advanced boldly towards us. He seemed about to spring, and might have reached us across the stream with a bound, when Stanley, raising his rifle, fired, and the lion rolled over, shot through the heart. Igubo and the other black, uttering shouts of triumph, came running up. They had been concealed in a pit at a little distance, where it appeared that they also had shot a lion and a leopard.
"Why you go so far off?" said Timbo, when he saw them. "Is dis de way to look after de captain? Captain, you kill Miss Kate and Miss Bella wid fright if you go away like dis." Timbo had evidently scarcely recovered his alarm at the risk his master had run.