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Forest & Frontiers by G. A. Henty

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By George A. Henty

Thrilling stories.

Mr. Cumming's attack on four lions

The most daring and adventurous of all hunters is Mr. Roualeyn Gordon
Cumming. Being an officer in the British service at the Cape of Good
Hope, his love of hunting adventures led him to resign his commission
in the army, and devote himself for five years to exploring the
interior of Africa, and hunting wild beasts. We shall quote his own
account of some of his adventures.

The first incident of his career, to which we invite the reader's
attention, is one which he calls an attack on four patriarchal lions.
It occurred in the interior of Africa, not far from the junction of
the rivers Mariqua and Limpopo. He thus describes it.

A few days after this, just as Swint had milked the cows, and was
driving them from the wooded peninsula in which we lay, athwart the
open ground, to graze with my other cattle in the forest beyond, he
beheld four majestic lions walking slowly across the valley, a few
hundred yards below my camp, and disappear over the river's bank, at a
favorite drinking place. These mighty monarchs of the waste had been
holding a prolonged repast over the carcases of some zebras killed by
Present, and had now come down the river to slake their thirst. This
being reported, I instantly saddled two horses, and, directing my boys
to lead after me as quickly as possible my small remaining pack of
sore-footed dogs, I rode forth, accompanied by Carey carrying a spare
gun, to give battle to the four grim lions. As I rode out of the
peninsula, they showed themselves on the banks of the river, and,
guessing that their first move would be a disgraceful retreat, I
determined to ride so as to make them think that I had not observed
them, until I should be able to cut off their retreat from the river,
across the open vley, to the endless forest beyond. That point being
gained, I knew that they, still doubtful of my having observed them,
would hold their ground on the river's bank until my dogs came up,
when I could more advantageously make the attack.

I cantered along, holding as if I meant to pass the lions at a
distance of a quarter of a mile, until I was opposite to them, when I
altered my course, and inclined a little nearer. The lions showed
symptoms of uneasiness; they rose to their feet, and, overhauling us
for half a minute, disappeared over the bank. They reappeared,
however, directly, a little farther down; and finding that their
present position was bare, they walked majestically along the top of
the bank to a spot a few hundred yards lower, where the bank was well
wooded. Here they seemed half inclined to await my attack; two
stretched out their massive arms, and lay down in the grass, and the
other two sat up like dogs upon their haunches. Deeming it probable
that when my dogs came up and I approached they would still retreat
and make a bolt across the vley, I directed Carey to canter forward
and take up the ground in the centre of the vley about four hundred
yards in advance; whereby the lions would be compelled either to give
us battle or swim the river, which, although narrow, I knew they would
be very reluctant to do.

I now sat in my saddle, anxiously waiting the arrival of my dogs; and
whilst thus momentarily disengaged, I was much struck with the
majestic and truly appalling appearance which these four noble lions
exhibited. They were all full-grown immense males; and I felt, I must
confess, a little nervous, and very uncertain as to what might be the
issue of the attack. When the dogs came up I rode right in towards the
lions. They sprang to their feet, and trotted slowly down along the
bank of the river, once or twice halting and facing about for half a
minute. Immediately below them their was a small determined bend in
the stream, forming a sort of peninsula. Into this bend they
disappeared, and next moment I was upon them with my dogs. They had
taken shelter in a dense angle of the peninsula, well sheltered by
high trees and reeds. Into this retreat the dogs at once boldly
followed them, making a loud barking, which was instantly followed by
the terrible voices of the lions, which turned about and charged to
the edge of the cover. Next moment, however, I heard them plunge into
the river, when I sprang from my horse, and, running to the top of the
bank, I saw three of them ascending the opposite bank, the dogs
following. One of them bounded away across the open plain at top
speed, but the other two, finding themselves followed by the dogs,
immediately turned to bay.

It was now my turn, so, taking them coolly right and left with my
little rifle, I made the most glorious double shot that a sportsman's
heart could desire, disabling them both in the shoulder before they
were even aware of my position. Then snatching up my other gun from
Carey, who that moment had ridden up to my assistance, I finished the
first lion with a shot about the heart, and brought the second to a
standstill by disabling him in his hind quarters. He quickly crept
into a dense, wide, dark green bush, in which for a long time it was
impossible to obtain a glimpse of him. At length, a clod of earth
falling near his hiding-place, he made a move which disclosed to me
his position, when I finished him with three more shots, all along the
middle of his back. Carey swam across the river to flog off the dogs;
and when these came through to me, I beat up the peninsula in quest of
the fourth lion, which had, however, made off. We then crossed the
river a little higher up, and proceeded to view the noble prizes I had
won. Both lions were well up in their years; I kept the skin and skull
of the finest specimen, and only the nails and tail of the other, one
of whose canine teeth was worn down to the socket with the caries,
which seemed to have affected his general condition.

Mr. Cumming Hunting Rhinoceroses.

Mr. Cumming thus describes his encounter with some rhinoceroses and an
eland, in the country of the Bechuanas.

It was on the 4th of June, 1844, that I beheld for the first time the
rhinoceros. Having taken some coffee, I rode out unattended, with my
rifle, and before proceeding far I fell in with a huge white
rhinoceros with a large calf, standing in a thorny grove. Getting my
wind she set off at top speed through thick thorny bushes, the calf,
as is invariably the case, taking the lead, the mother guiding its
course by placing her horn, generally about three feet in length,
against its ribs.

My horse shied very much at first, alarmed at the strange appearance
of "Chukuroo," but by a sharp application of spur and jambok I
prevailed upon him to follow, and presently, the ground improving, I
got alongside, and, firing at the gallop, sent a bullet through her
shoulder. She continued her pace with blood streaming from the wound,
and very soon reached an impracticable thorny jungle, where I could
not follow, and instantly lost her. In half an hour I fell in with the
second rhinoceros, being an old bull of the white variety.
Dismounting, I crept within twenty yards, and saluted him with both
barrels in the shoulder, upon which he made off, uttering a loud
blowing noise, and upsetting every thing that obstructed his progress.

Shortly after this I found myself on the banks of the stream, beside
which my wagons were outspanned. Following along its margin, I
presently beheld a bull of the borele, or black rhinoceros, standing
within a hundred yards of me. Dismounting from my horse, I secured him
to a tree, and then stalked within twenty yards of the huge beast
under cover of a large strong bush. Borele, hearing me advance, came
on to see what it was, and suddenly protruded his horny nose within a
few yards of me. Knowing well that a front shot would not prove
deadly, I sprang to my feet and ran behind the bush. Upon this the
villain charged, blowing loudly, and chased me round the bush. Had his
activity been equal to his ugliness, my wanderings would have
terminated here, but by my superior agility I had the advantage in the

After standing a short time eyeing me through the bush, he got a whiff
of my wind, which at once alarmed him. Uttering a blowing noise, and
erecting his insignificant yet saucy-looking tail, he wheeled about,
leaving me master of the field, when I sent a bullet through his ribs
to teach him manners. Of the rhinoceros there are four varieties in
South Africa, distinguished by the Bechuanas by the names of the
borele or black rhinoceros, the keitloa or two-horned rhinoceros, the
muchocho or common white rhinoceros, and the kobaoba or long-horned
white rhinoceros. Both varieties of the black rhinoceros are extremely
fierce and dangerous, and rush headlong and unprovoked at any object
which attracts their attention. They never attain much fat, and their
flesh is tough, and not much esteemed by the Bechuanas. Their food
consists almost entirely of the thorny branches of the wait-a-bit

Finding that rhinoceros were abundant in the vicinity, I resolved to
halt a day for the purpose of hunting, and after an early breakfast,
on the 6th, I rode south-east with the two Baquaines. They led me
along the bases of the mountains, through woody dells and open glades,
and we eventually reached a grand forest grey with age. Here we found
abundance of spoor of a variety of game, and started several herds of
the more common varieties. At length I observed an old bull eland
standing under a tree. He was the first that I had seen, and was a
noble specimen, standing about six feet high at the shoulder.
Observing us, he made off at a gallop, springing over the trunks of
decayed trees which lay across his path; but very soon he reduced his
pace to a trot. Spurring my horse, another moment saw me riding hard
behind him. Twice in the thickets I lost sight of him, and he very
nearly escaped me; but at length, the ground improving, I came up with
him, and rode within a few yards behind him. Long streaks of foam now
streamed from his mouth, and a profuse perspiration had changed his
sleek grey coat to an ashy blue. Tears trickled from his large dark
eye, and it was plain that the eland's hours were numbered. Pitching
my rifle to my shoulder, I let fly at the gallop, and mortally wounded
him behind; then spurring my horse, I shot past him on his right side,
and discharged my other barrel behind his shoulder, when the eland
staggered for a moment and subsided in the dust. The two Baquaines
soon made their appearance, and seemed delighted at my success. Having
kindled a fire, they cut out steaks, which they roasted on the embers;
I also cooked a steak for myself, spitting it upon a forked branch,
the other end of which I sharpened with my knife and stuck into the

The eland is a magnificent animal, by far the largest of all the
antelope tribe, exceeding a large ox in size. It also attains an
extraordinary condition, being often burdened with a very large amount
of fat. Its flesh is most excellent, and is justly esteemed above all
others. It has a peculiar sweetness, and is tender and fit for use the
moment the animal is killed. Like the gemsbok, the eland is
independent of water, and frequents the borders of the great Kalahari
desert in herds varying from ten to a hundred. It is also generally
diffused throughout all the wooded districts of the interior where I
have hunted. Like other varieties of deer and and antelope, the old
males may often be found consorting together apart from the females,
and a troop of these, when in full condition, may be likened to a herd
of stall-fed oxen.

The eland has less speed than any other variety of antelope; and, by
judicious riding, they may be driven to camp from a great distance. In
this manner I have often ridden the best bull out of the herd, and
brought him within gunshot of my wagons, where I could more
conveniently cut up and preserve the flesh, without the trouble of
sending men and packoxen to fetch it. I have repeatedly seen an eland
drop down dead at the end of a severe chase, owing to his plethoric
habit. The skin of the eland I had just shot emitted, like most other
antelopes, the most delicious perfume of trees and grass.

Having eaten my steak, I rode to my wagon, where I partook of coffee,
and having mounted a fresh horse, I again set forth accompanied by
Carollus leading a packhorse, to bring home the head of the eland and
a supply of the flesh; I took all my dogs along with me to share in
the banquet. We had not proceeded far when the dogs went ahead on some
scent. Spurring my horse, I followed through some thorny bushes as
best I might, and emerging on an open glade, I beheld two huge white
rhinoceroses trotting along before me. The dogs attacked them with
fury, and a scene of intense excitement ensued. The Old Gray, on
observing them, pricked up his ears, and seemed only half inclined to
follow, but a sharp application of the spur reminded him of his duty,
and I was presently riding within ten yards of the stem of the
largest, and sent a bullet through her back. The Old Grey shied
considerably and became very unmanageable, and on one occasion, in
consequence, the rhinoceros, finding herself hemmed in by a bend in a
watercourse, turned round to charge, I had a very narrow escape.

Presently, galloping up on one side, I gave her a bad wound in the
shoulder, soon after which she came to bay in the dry bed of a river.
Dismounting from my horse, I commenced loading, but before this was
accomplished she was off once more. I followed her, putting on my caps
as I rode, and coming up alongside, I made a fine shot from the
saddle, firing at the gallop. The ball entered somewhere near her
heart. On receiving this shot she reeled about, while torrents of
blood flowed from her mouth and wounds, and presently she rolled over
and expired, uttering a shrill screaming sound as she died, which
rhinoceroses invariably do while in the agonies of death.

The chase had led me close in along the northern base of a lofty
detached mountain, the highest in all that country. The mountain is
called, by the Bechuanas, the Mountain of the Eagles. The eland which
I had shot in the morning lay somewhere to the southward of this
mountain, but far in the level forest. Having rounded the mountain, I
began to recognise the ground.

I had the satisfaction to behold a few vultures soaring over the
forest in advance, and, on proceeding a short distance farther, large
groups of these birds were seated on the grey and weather-beaten
branches of the loftiest old trees of the forest. This was a certain
sign that the eland was not far distant; and on raising my voice and
loudly calling on the name of Carollus, I was instantly answered by
that individual, who, heedless of his master's fate, was actively
employed in cooking for himself a choice steak from the dainty rump of
the eland. That night I slept beneath the blue and starry canopy of
heaven. My sleep was light and sweet, and no rude dreams or hankering
cares disturbed the equanimity of my repose.

One of Mr. Cumming's most perilous adventures was with a black
Rhinoceros, which gave chase to him, and nearly run turn down. He thus
describes this affair.

On the 22d, ordering my men to move on to the fountain of Bootlonamy,
I rode forth with Ruyter, [Footnote: This is the name of a favorite
servant of Mr. Cumming.] and held east through a grove of lofty and
wide-spreading mimosas, most of which were more or less damaged by the
gigantic strength of a troop of elephants, which had passed there
about twelve months before.

Having proceeded about two miles with large herds of game on every
side, I observed a crusty looking old bull borele, or black
rhinoceros, cocking his ears one hundred yards in advance. He had not
observed us; and soon after he walked slowly toward us, and stood
broadside to, eating some wait-a-bit thorns within fifty yards of me.
I fired from my saddle, and sent a bullet in behind his shoulder, upon
which he rushed forward about one hundred yards in tremendous
consternation, blowing like a grampus, and then stood looking about
him. Presently he made off. I followed, but found it hard to come up
with him. When I overtook him I found the blood running freely from
his wound.

The chase led through a large herd of blue wildebeests, zebras, and
springboks, which gazed at us in utter amazement. At length I fired my
second barrel, but my horse was fidgety, and I missed. I continued
riding alongside of him, expecting in my ignorance that at length he
would come to bay, which rhinoceroses never do; when suddenly he fell
flat on his broadside on the ground, but, recovering his feet, resumed
his course as if nothing had happened. Becoming at last annoyed at the
length of the chase, as I wished to keep my horses fresh for the
elephants, and being indifferent whether I got the rhinoceros or not,
as I observed that his horn was completely worn down by age, and the
violence of his disposition, I determined to bring matters to a
crisis; so, spurring my horse, I dashed ahead, and rode right in his

Upon this the hideous monster instantly charged me in the most
resolute manner, blowing loudly through his nostrils; and although I
quickly wheeled about to my left, he followed me at such a furious
pace for several hundred yards, with his horrid horny snout within a
few yards of my horse's tail, that my little Bushman, who was looking
on in great alarm, thought his master's destruction inevitable. It was
certainly a very near thing; my horse was extremely afraid, and
exerted his utmost energies on the occasion. The rhinoceros, however,
wheeled about and continued his former course; and I being perfectly
satisfied with the interview which I had already enjoyed with him, had
no desire to cultivate his acquaintance any further, and accordingly
made for camp.

We left the fountain of Bootlonamy the same day, and marched about six
miles through an old grey forest of mimosas, when we halted for the
night. Large flocks of guinea-fowls roosted in the trees around our
encampment, several of which I shot for my supper.

On the 23d we inspanned by moonlight, and continued our march through
a thinly wooded level country. It was a lovely morning; the sun rose
in great splendor, and the sky was beautifully overcast with clouds.
Having proceeded about ten miles, the country became thickly covered
with detached forest trees and groves of wait-a-bit thorns. The guides
now informed us that the water, which is called by the Bechuanas,
"Lepeby," was only a short distance in advance; upon which I saddled
steeds, and rode ahead with the Bushman, intending to hunt for an hour
before breakfast. Presently we reached an open glade in the forest,
where I observed a herd of zebras in advance; and on my left stood a
troop of springboks, with two leopards watching them from behind a
bush. I rode on, and soon fell in with a troop of hartebeests, and, a
little after, with a large herd of blue wildebeests and pallahs. I
followed for aome distance, when they were reinforced by two other
herds of pallahs and wildebeests. Three black rhinoceroses now trotted
across my path.

Presently I sprang from my horse, and fired right and left at a
princely bull blue wildebeest. He got both balls, but did not fall,
and I immediately lost sight of him in the dense ranks of his shaggy
companions. The game increased as we proceeded, until the whole forest
seemed alive with a variety of beautifully colored animals. On this
occasion I was very unfortunate; I might have killed any quantity of
game if venison had been my object; but I was trying to get a few very
superior heads of some of the master bucks of the pallahs. Of these I
wounded four select old bucks, but in the dust and confusion caused by
the innumerable quantity of the game I managed to lose them all.

Encounter with a Lioness.

When Mr. Cumming was in that part of the interior of South Africa
inhabited by the tribe called the Griquas, he had a remarkable and
fearful encounter with a lioness. He had been shooting some of the
various kinds of antelopes which abound in that country, under various
names, such as wildebeests, springboks, blesboks, and pallahs, when
the adventure occurred, which he thus describes.

Suddenly I observed a number of vultures seated on the plain about a
quarter of a mile ahead of us, and close beside them stood a huge
lioness, consuming a blesbok which she had killed. She was assisted in
her repast by about a dozen jackals, which were feasting along with
her in the most friendly manner.

Directing my followers' attention to the spot, I remarked, "I see the
lion;" to which they replied, "Whar? whar? Yah! Almagtig! dat is he;"
and instantly reining in their steeds and wheeling about they pressed
their heels to their horses' sides, and were preparing to betake
themselves to flight. I asked them what they were going to do. To
which they answered, "We have not yet placed caps on our rifles." This
was true; but while this short conversation was passing, the lioness
had observed us. Raising her full, round face, she overhauled us for a
few seconds, and then set off at a smart canter toward a range of
mountains some miles to the northward; the whole troop of jackals also
started off in another direction; there was, therefore, no time to
think of caps.

The first move was to bring her to bay, and not a second was to be
lost. Spurring my good and lively steed, and shouting to my men to
follow, I flew across the plain, and, being fortunately mounted on
Colesberg, the flower of my stud, I gained upon her at every stride.
This was to me a joyful moment, and I at once made up my mind that she
or I must die.

The lioness having had a long start of me, we went over a considerable
extent of ground before I came up with her. She was a large, full-
grown beast, and the bare and level nature of the plain added to her
imposing appearance. Finding that I gained upon her, she reduced her
pace from a canter to a trot, carrying her tail stuck out behind her,
and slewed a little to one side. I shouted loudly to her to halt, as I
wished to speak with her, upon which she suddenly pulled up, and sat
on her haunches like a dog, with her back toward me, not even deigning
to look round. She then appeared to say to herself, "Does this fellow
know who he is after?"

Having thus sat for half a minute, as if involved in thought, she
sprang to her feet, and, facing about, stood looking at me for a few
seconds, moving her tail slowly from side to side, showing her teeth,
and growling fiercely. She next made a short run forward, making a
loud, rumbling noise like thunder. This she did to intimidate me; but
finding that I did not flinch an inch nor seem to heed her hostile
demonstrations, she quietly stretched out her massive arms, and lay
down on the grass. My Hottentots now coming up, we all three
dismounted, and, drawing our rifles from their holsters, we looked to
see if the powder was up in the nipples, and put on our caps, While
this was doing the lioness sat up, and showed evident symptoms of
uneasiness. She looked first at us, and then behind her, as if to see
if the coast were clear; after wnich she made a short run toward us,
uttering her deep-drawn, murderous growls.

Having secured the three horses to one another by their reins, we led
them on as if we intended to pass her, in the hope of obtaining a
broadside. But this she carefully avoided to expose, presenting only
her full front. I had given Stofolus my rifle, with orders to shoot
her if she should spring upon me, but on no account to fire before me.
Kleinboy was to stand ready to hand me my Purdey rifle, in case the
two-grooved Dixon should not prove sufficient. My men as yet had been
steady, but they were in a precious stew, their faces having assumed a
ghastly paleness, and I had a painful feeling that I could place no
reliance on them.

Now then for it, neck or nothing! She is within sixty yards of us, and
she keeps advancing. We turned the horses' tails to her. I knelt on
one side, and, taking aim at her breast, let fly. The ball cracked
loudly on her tawny hide, and crippled her in the shoulder, upon which
she charged with an appalling roar, and in the twinkling of an eye she
was in the midst of us, At this moment Stofolus's rifle exploded in
his hand, and Kleinboy, whom I had ordered to stand ready by me,
danced about like a duck in a gale of wind.

The lioness sprang upon Colesberg, and fearfully lacerated his ribs
and haunches with her horrid teeth and claws; the worst wound was on
his haunch, which exhibited a sickening, yawning gash, more than
twelve inches long, almost laying bare the very bone. I was very cool
and steady, and did not feel in the least degree nervous, having
fortunately great confidence in my own shooting; but I must confess,
when the whole affair was over, I felt that it was a very awful
situation, and attended with extreme peril, as I had no friend with me
on whom I could rely.

When the lioness sprang on Colesberg, I stood out from the horses,
ready with my second barrel for the first chance she should give of a
clear shot. This she quickly did; for, seemingly satisfied with the
revenge She had now taken, she quitted Colesberg, and slewing her tail
to one side, trotted sulkily past within a few paces of me, taking one
step to the left. I pitched my rifle to my shoulder, and in another
second the lioness was stretched on the plain a lifeless corpse.

In the struggles of death she half turned on her back, and stretched
her neck and fore arms convulsively, when she fell back to her former
position; her mighty arms hung powerless by her side, her lower jaw
fell, blood streamed from her mouth, and she expired. At the moment I
fired my second shot, Stofolus, who hardly knew whether he was alive
or dead, allowed the three horses to escape. These galloped
frantically across the plain, on which he and Kleinboy instantly
started after them, leaving me standing alone, and unarmed, within a
few feet of the lioness, which they from their anxiety to be out of
the way, evidently considered quite capable of doing further mischief.

Hunting the Blauwbok and Buffalo.

Among the various kinds of antelopes which inhabit South Africa, the
blauwbok, or blue buck, called by Mr. Cumming, the blue antelope, is
one of the most remarkable. It is six feet in length, three feet and a
half high to the back, and very compactly made. The horns are more
than two feet in length, round, closely annulated to within six inches
of the tips, bent back in a uniform but moderate curve, and very sharp
at the points. The general color of the hair is gray, with the insides
of the ears, a streak before each eye, the insides of the legs, and a
few hairs along the ridge of the neck, white. The hair on the body
divides on the line of the back, and is rather coarse and open.

The skin under it on the upper part of the living animal is a black,
which shining through the grey, produces a sort of raven-blue tint. It
is the epidermis only and not the mucous tissue which has this black
color, otherwise the hair would have it; and it fades when the animal
is dead, as is the case with a highly-colored epidermis in almost all

This animal was frequently pursued and shot by Mr. Cumming, in his
African hunts, and his flesh was found to be excellent.

The Cape buffalo, or African buffalo, was a more troublesome object of
chase. This animal, has a most formidable front, and its general
aspect is shaggy and formidable. The horns are the most compact, and
in their substance the heaviest of all the ruminating animals,
excepting only some of those of the antelopes. This animal is
considerably lower than the Indian buffalo; but it is firmer, though
shorter in the legs, rounder in the body; and the beard and short mane
give it a rugged appearance. This is by far the most formidable animal
of the genus. It has never been tamed, and the males are dangerous to
come near.

Mr. Cumming thus describes one of his encounters with this animal, by
himself and Ruyter, a Bushman, a favorite servant.

On the forenoon of the 26th, I rode to hunt, accompanied by Ruyter; we
held west, skirting the wooded stony mountains. The natives had here
many years before waged successful war with elephants, four of whose
skulls I found. Presently I came across two sassaybies, one of which I
knocked over; but while I was loading he regained his legs and made
off. We crossed a level stretch of forest, holding a northerly course
for an opposite range of green, well wooded hills and valleys. Here I
came upon a troop of six fine old bull buffaloes, into which I
stalked, and wounded one princely fellow behind the shoulder, bringing
blood from nis mouth; he, however made off with his comrades, and the
ground being very rough we failed to overtake him. They held for the
Ngotwani. After following the spoor for a couple of miles, we dropped
it, as it led right away from camp.

Returning from this chase, we had an adventure with another old bull
buffalo, which shows the extreme danger of hunting buffaloes without
dogs. We started him in a green hollow among the hills, and his course
inclining for camp, I gave him chase. He crossed the level broad
strath and made for the opposite densely wooded range of mountains.
Along the base of these we followed him, sometimes in view, sometimes
on the spoor, keeping the old fellow at a pace which made him pant. At
length, finding himself much distressed, he had recourse to a singular
stratagem. Doubling round some thick bushes which obscured him from
our view, he found himself beside a small pool of rain water, just
deep enough to cover his body; into this he walked, and facing about,
lay gently down and awaited our on-coming, with nothing but his old
grey face and massive horns above the water, and these concealed from
our view by rank overhanging herbage.

Our attention was entirely engrossed with the spoor, and thus we rode
boldly on until within a few feet of him, when springing to his feet,
he made a desperate charge after Ruyter, uttering a low, stifling
roar, peculiar to buffaloes, (somewhat similar to the growl of a lion)
and hurled horse and rider to the ground with fearful violence. His
horns laid the poor horse's haunches open to the bone, making the most
fearful ragged wound.

In an instant Ruyter regained his feet and ran for his life, which the
buffalo observing, gave chase, but most fortunately came down with a
tremendous somersault in the mud, his feet slipping from under him;
thus the Bushman escaped certain destruction. The buffalo rose much
discomfited, and, the wounded horse first catching his eye, he went a
second time at him, but he got out of the way. At this moment I
managed to send one of my patent pacificating pills into his shoulder,
when he instantly quitted the scene of action, and sought shelter in a
dense cover on the mountain side, whither I deemed it imprudent to
follow him.

Adventures with snakes.

The following stories of fascination by snakes, is copied from
"Arthur's Home Gazette." It is no fiction; but is contributed by a
gentleman of Tennessee, who is willing to vouch for the truth of what
he relates.

It has been a thousand times affirmed, and as often denied, that
certain serpents possess the power--independent of the touch--of
paralyzing their proposed victims. And it seems to be generally
admitted that this is done, if done at all, by the eye; for those
theorists who ascribe it to poison inhaled through the nostrils of the
charmed ones, offer us no example to confirm their theory, or to make
it worthy of a second thought. In extended rambles, alone as well as
with society, I have made the study of serpents a matter of amusement,
and familiarized myself--at least I had done so ten years back--to
handle them without any llesh-shrinking. As I got older, and my nerves
become weakened by long exposure to the seasons and to midnight
studies, more debilitating than Texas "northers," I must confess that
I am more timid; but I can yet join a hunt, or project one in good
"snake weather," with considerable gusto. I have never met with a
snake that could charm me, look he never so keenly, although I have
_faced them_ till they got tired, uncoiled, and beat an inglorious
retreat. And I am sure that I never _smell_ anything about a snake,
calculated to excite any other emotions or _motions_ except _holding
the nose_. And finally I never found a snake or snakelet that I would
turn my heel upon to flee, and for the very good reason that the
animal in question always runs first.

So, ye manufacturers of snake stories horrific, amusive, or
instructive, put that against your tales of blacksnakes, copperheads,
cotton-mouths, horn-tails, water-mocassins, and the whole tribe else.

But as to the _fascination_, what of that?

Why, although I have never been fascinated, or seen a person in that
singular situation, yet I am a firm believer in the art, a believer
against my wishes--because evidence indisputable has been furnished
me, and in abundance. Now I leave out of the question, all the
influences of fright, surprise, etc., also all the humbug stories of
novel writers and romancers in private life, and yet there is a
remainder that I cannot cast out. One or two anecdotes, and then I
come to my principal proof.

A gentleman of my acquaintance, passing along a bridle path, observed
a mouse running backwards and forwards, upon a fallen log, as if in
great terror. Reining in this horse, he paused full ten minutes, and
until the mouse disappeared on the farther side of the log. Drawing
nearer, and peeping over, his suspicions of Lucifer's guile were
verified--for mousey was within three inches of his open jaw,
"irresistibly attracted," said the narrator, "although he was drawing
back with all his might." The latter part of the tale is fishy--for
the gentleman was twenty feet off, and could not nave seen that--but
he saw the mouse finally disappear in that cavernous gullet; and when
he killed the snake-a large black one--the mouse lay in its stomach,
_without a wound_. How will that do?

Another, well authenticated. A young man, of some twenty years,
passing along the road to school, on foot, was observed by some of his
companions in the rear to pause suddenly and look down. His fellows
intent on their conversation, were several minutes coming up; but when
they did so they witnessed a veritable case of fascination--for the
young man was looking intently into the eyes of a large rattlesnake,
coiled at his feet; nor could the voices of all his friends arouse
him. Being jerked back with some violence, he instantly recovered his
senses, but seemed to be puzzled to recall the circumstances connected
with his first view of the snake. After a mental effort he explained,
while the cold sweat poured from his face, and his limbs were flaccid
as an infant's, that the sound of a rattle had caused him to stop
short--that a pleasant halo danced before his eyes, and sweet sounds
met his ears--and that from that instant until the conclusion of the
trance, "he was as happy as he ever expected to be!"

But now for the hardest knock of conviction. I will give it in the
language of the original narrator--premising that opponents to the
theory of serpent attraction auist knock under, or flatly contradict
my tale. In the latter event, I shall be compelled to settle the
question as Hodginson did his lawsuit, "by exhibiting the skin and
parading the witnesses."

"In the month of April, a few years back," commences the witness, "I
took my eldest chap, an eight year old boy, but stout and bold enough
for a twelve year old--and sauntered down to Beech river, to spend the
evening [Footnote: Evening, in this place, signifies from noon until
dark; that's the Southern and Western notion always.] fishing. Finding
a large beech, whose spreading roots formed a natural easy chair, with
arms to it, I threw my line into the stream, and myself into the
cavity, to take the thing deliberately as I generally do on such
occasions. There had been a rise in Beech river sufficient to muddy
the water, and I knew the only chance was for cat (_bull-pouts_ the
Yankees call them,) so I chose a big hook and baited with a chunk of
bacon, big enough for an eight-pounder at least. That hook was a
Limerick, for which I had sent all the way to Porter, of 'The Spirit'
--that hook I was never more to behold.

"The boy chose for himself a steep place about ten yards below me, and
after sticking his pole in the mud, like a lazy fellow, as he is,
amused himself by counting the stamens in some sorrel-flowers that
grew thick thereabouts. I listened to his chatter for a while as he
vacillated in his numbers--eight--nine--ten--twelve--until my own
thoughts took an interesting turn, and I heard to more of him for
several minutes. Then the sound of his voice again struck one, but a
little distance further down stream, as he tailed out--'Oh, Pa, look!'

"Being well accustomed to his 'mares' nests,' I did not turn until he
had repeated several times the same words, and it was the singularity
of his tones at last that caused me to do it. His voice was
indescribably plaintive, clear, but low, and each vowel sound was
drawn out at great length, thus--' Oh-h-h-h, Pa-a-a-a, loo-oo-oo-ook,
--with the diminuendo, soft as the ring of a glass vessel, when struck.
I have heard Kyle, the flutist, while executing some of his thrilling
touches, strike his low notes very much like it. Slewing myself partly
round in my seat, I observed the little fellow standing bent forward,
his hands stretched out before him as if shielding his face from a
bush, while his whole body worked to and fro like the subjects in
certain mesmeric experiments that I nave observed when first they are
brought under 'the influence' of the operator. His face was partly
turned from me, but the cheek, which I saw was pale as death, and his
cloth cap was trembling on the back part of his head, as if forced
there by the workings of the scalp.

"This was as much as I had time to oberve in the first hasty glance.
Astonished at his actions, though not at all alarmed--or the first
thought that occurred to me as that he was trying to catch a young
rabbit--I called out in a half-jocular tone, well, bubby boy, what is
it?' He made no reply, but continued that strange murmur of '--Oh-h-h,
Pa-a-a, loo-oo-ook,' and took a couple of paces forward, not as though
he wished to advance, but more in the style of a person who has leaned
too far forward and moves his feet to recover the perpendicular. I
arose, rather slowly, for it was a mere prompting of curiosity, and
walking towards him, called out in a tone of some authority, 'John,
come here!' Now I can say, without boasting, that my domestic
government is thorough, and my children will promptly obey my commands
in every thing, from the taking of a dose of quinine to the springing
out of bed at daylight of a frosty morning. My surprise, therefore,
was great to observe that the lad only answered my order, twice
repeated, by the same melancholy cry, and another stumble forward.

"I was now thoroughly aroused. I hastened my own steps, for a horror
came over me as though I was in the presence of a demon. I advanced
directly behind the child, and looking over him, observed a thick bush
of the Early Honeysuckle, (_Azalea nudiflora_.) Into and through this
I glanced, but I observed no object to excite my notice. I had got
within a pace of him, and was in the act of putting my hand with some
force upon his shoulder, when following more precisely the direction
of his eyes, I looked at the foot of the bush, then about six feet
from me, and how shall I describe the sequel!

"Like an electric shock, a sensation pervaded my whole frame, which,
although I can never forget, I must most imperfectly describe. I was
in a trance--the blood overcharged my brain--a murmuring sound, as of
an Aeolian, filled my ears-drops, like rain, oozed from my face--my
hat, first elevated to the very tips of the hairs, worked backwards
and fell to the ground--in brief, I was regularly, and for the first
and last time in my life, in a state of fascination.

"No sensation of languor troubled me, for although I felt no
inclination to go forward, yet I seemed to myself perfectly able and
willing to stay where I was, so long as the world lasted. I was
perfectly happy in spite of my bodily excitement. A bright halo of
changeable colors, for all the world like the changeable lights I have
seen displayed in front of the American Museum, New York, filled all
my vision, in the very focus of which gleamed two keen points, like
sparks from the blacksmith's anvil, and they were so vivid that they
seemed to pierce me through and through.

"How long this continued I cannot say, but I suppose only for a
minute. So far as my own perception of time's flight is concerned,
however, it might have been an age.

"I was awakened by the harsh crackling of some dry sticks upon which
the boy had stepped as he continued to shuffle forward. The recovery
was as sudden as the attack. In an instant I was disenchanted. The
bush looked familiar, and I heard the fall of water in the stream, but
a thought of imminent danger now possessed my mind; so shouting with a
voice that made the woods ring, I seized the lad around the waist, and
heavy as he was, ran with him quite a quarter of a mile without
stopping. I confess it most frankly that I didn't stop until I fell
exhausted in the public road. To tell the cowardly truth, I should
have ran on until now if I had been able. So we fell down together and
lay for a good while panting.

"Then I got up and propping myself against a poplar, took little John
on my knee. His nervous system was unstrung. He was weeping bitterly,
and sobbing as if his heart would break. His flesh was cold and
clammy, his pulse was almost still, and he hadn't strength to raise
his hands to his mouth.

"I had some root ginger in my pocket--I always carry a piece with me--
which I chewed and made him swallow. This revived him. Then I rubbed
him briskly, pinched his skin in divers tender spots, and by these
means and cheerful conversation, got him so that he could stand alone
and answer my questions. I never saw such a fool thing as he was! He
was not at all alarmed, very willingly consented to return with me--
for I'd die but what I'd see it but--thought there ought to be a perch
on his hook by this time, thought it was Sunday, thought there was
snow somewhere, 'twas so cold,--and all such notions as that.

"Every few minutes he would burst into an uncontrollable flood of
tears, but he couldn't tell for what.

"You will want to know how I felt all this time. Well, when I got a
minute's leisure from attending to him and could notice my own
feelings, I found that I was snivelling too! that my pulse was small,
my nose had been profusely bleeding, and the blood had drenched me to
the very boot tops, and I felt altogether as exhausted as one does who
has had a month's spell of the chills.

"We were a precious pair, daddy and son, as we sat under that poplar.
I am sure I never felt so foolish in all my life. Well, back we
started, for my spunk was up; and, beside that, I had left my hat,
handkerchief, dinner, and memorandum book, and was bound to have them.
I felt the most burning curiosity to understand the puzzle while my
mental faculties were completely obfuscated by it.

"Neither of us said a word of the affair itself, for John didn't seem
to know that he had been frightened, and I was afraid to alarm him by
speaking of it. He asked no questions of any sort, although in general
he is a miniature Paul Pry, expressed no surprise that I was
bareheaded and bloody, or that we had come so far from the fishing
place and left our tackle behind. His face expressed confusion, such
as a child will exhibit when he is waked suddenly by falling out of
bed, and commences grasping around the bedpost preparatory to getting
in again. I knew that something frightful was there, and felt that we
had escaped some great peril, but what the object or what the peril I
had no idea whatever. I am sure, however, that the notion of a snake
never entered my mind, but if any thing tangible, if was of a wild
cat, for the recollection of Cooper's panther story in the Pioneers
occurred to me, and I cut a stout hickory sapling to be prepared. We
arrived with slow steps at the haunted spot, for both were exhausted,
and I felt the value of prudence. There lay my basket by the beech
root, more by token that the hogs had found it and were just devouring
the last morsel of bread and meat so carefully deposited therein.

"There was my fishing line, but the eight-pounder had become weary and
worn, and carried off my Limerick hook. There was my hat near the
honeysuckle bush, but the phantom itself, with its diamond eyes and
mystic powers, was gone. Frightened probably by the hogs, unromantic
objects in every point of view, he had fled; but I found him within
fifty yards in the form of a _rattlesnake_, full six feet from tip to
tip, and glorying in fourteen full rattles.

"I had my revenge in every possible form. I looked at him for ten
minutes at a time, but the power was gone, and I only saw two keen,
devilish-looking eyes. Then I punched him till he spent all his venom
on my stick. Then I made him drunk on tobacco juice, ingloriously and
brutally drunk.

"Getting tired at last, I gave him the _coup de grace_, skinned him,
and returned home. He hangs now in loops over my family bed. Those
eyes that thrilled my heart so strangely are dim with dust. Those
fangs, which in a few minutes more would probably have sent death to
the heart's fountain of my boy, are now in Europe, a part of the
collection admired by countless crowds at the British Museum. The
subject is fast fading from my memory,'mid the cares of life, and had
you not asked me to write it out for you, I should have thought of it
but a little longer. Let it stand as another testimony, and a most
unwilling one, too, of the fascinating powers of serpents on the

So far my correspondent tells his own tale in language sufficiently
plain and explicit. If any figure him out as a man of feeble frame and
low stature, let them change their fancy at once.

He is a strong, muscular man, an old bear hunter, one who has fought
Indians in the Florida swamps; a person withal, of unquestionable
veracity, and in all respects the last man to impose on others, or be
imposed upon by anything, fish, flesh, or fowl.

Contests with Large Snakes

The family of snakes called Boidae, including the Boas and Pythons are
huge snakes confined to the hotter regions of the globe, and
formidable from their vast strength and mode of attack. They lurk in
ambush and dart upon their victim, which in an instant is seized and
enveloped in their folds, and crushed to death or strangled. For their
predatory habits they are admirably adapted; their teeth are terrible,
and produce a dreadful wound; the neck is slender, the body increasing
gradually to about the middle in diameter, and then decreasing. The
tail is a grasping instrument, strongly prehensile, and aided by two
hooklike claws, sheathed with horn, externally visible on each side,
beneath, just anterior to the base of the tail. Though externally
nothing beyond these spurs appear, internally is found a series of
bones, representing those of the hinder limbs, but of course
imperfectly developed; yet they are acted upon by powerful muscles,
and can be so used as to form a sort of antagonist to the tail while
grasping any object; they thus become a fulcrum giving additional
force to the grasp, which secured thereby to a fixed point, giving
double power to the animal's energy.

The emperor boa, or boa constrictor as well as all the others to which
the name boa applies are, according to Cuvier, natives of America. The
engraving represents one of these terrible snakes in the act of
strangling a deer.

The Aboma (_Boa cenchrea_) has scaly plates on the muzzle, and pits or
dimples upon the plates of the jaws.

Endowed with powers which in a semicivilized state of society must
operate powerfully on the mind; at ease and freedom alike on the land,
in the water, or among the trees; at once wily, daring, and
irresistible in their attack, graceful in their movements, and
splendid in their coloring--that such creatures, to be both dreaded
and admired, should become the subject of superstitious reverence, is
scarcely to be wondered at. The ancient Mexicans regarded the boa as
sacred; they viewed its actions with religious horror; they crouched
beneath the fiery glances of its eyes; they trembled as they listened
to its long-drawn hiss, and from various signs and movements predicted
the fate of tribes or individuals, or drew conclusions of guilt or
innocence. The supreme idol was represented encircled and guarded by
sculptured serpents, before which were offered human sacrifices.

"On a blue throne, with four huge silver snakes,
As if the keepers of the sanctuary,
Circled, with stretching necks and fangs display'd,
Mexitli sate: another graven snake
Belted with scales of gold his monster bulk."

It is probably of the boa constrictor, the emperor, the devin, that
Hernandez writes, under the name of Temacuilcahuilia, so called from
its powers, the word meaning a fighter with five men. It attacks, he
says, those it meets, and overpowers them with such force, that if it
once coils itself around their necks it strangles and kills them,
unless it bursts itself by the violence of its own efforts; and he
states that the only way of avoiding the attack is for the man to
manage in such a way as to oppose a tree to the animal's constriction,
so that while the serpent supposes itself to be crushing the man, it
may be torn asunder by its own act, and so die. We do not ask our
readers for their implicit faith in this. He adds, that he has himself
seen serpents as thick as a man's thigh, which had been taken young by
the Indians and tamed; they were provided with a cask strewn with
litter in the place of a cavern, where they lived, and were for the
most part quiescent, except at meal-times, when they came forth, and
amicably climbed about the couch or shoulders of their master, who
placidly bore the serpent's embrace. They often coiled tip in folds,
equalling a large sized cartwheel in size, and harmlessly received
their food.

In most accounts current respecting the mode in which boas and pythons
take their food, the snake, after crushing its prey, is described as
licking the body with its tongue and lubricating it with its saliva,
in order to facilitate the act of deglutition. It has been observed
with justice that few worse instruments for such a purpose than the
slender dark forked tongue of these snakes could have been contrived:
and that, in fact, the saliva does not begin to be poured out
abundantly till required to lubricate the jaws and throat of the
animal straining to engulph the carcass. We have seen these snakes
take their food, but they did not lubricate it, though the vibratory
tongue often touched it; we must, therefore, withhold our credence
from the common assertion.

The size attained by the boa is often very great, and larger
individuals than any now seen occurred formerly, before their ancient
haunts had been invaded by human colonization.

The Anaconda, (_Boa Scytale_), called by Linnaeus, Boa Murina, and by
Prince Maximilian, Boa Aquatica, is of an enormous size, from twenty
to thirty feet in length.

The boa cenchrea has scaly plates on the the muzzle; and dimples upon
the plates at the sides of the jaws. His color is yellowish, with a
row of large brown rings running the whole length of the back, and
variable spots on the sides. These are generally dark, often
containing a whitish semi-lunar mark. This species, according to Seba,
who describes it as Mexican, is the Temacuilcahuilia (or Tamacuilla
Huilia, as Seba writes the word) described by Hernandez. The species
here described, according to Cuvier, grow nearly to the same size, and
haunt the marshy parts of South America. There, adhering by the tail
to some aquatic tree, they suffer the anterior part of the body to
float upon the water, and patiently wait to seize upon the quadrupeds
which come to drink.

Our engraving represents him in the attitude of watching for a deer
which is seen, in the distance.

A specimen apparently of the boa scytale called in Venezuela "La
Culebra de Agua," or water serpent, and also "El Traga Venado," or
deer-swallower, which measures nineteen feet and a half in length, was
presented by Sir Robert Ker Porter to the United Service Museum. He
states that "The flesh of this serpent is white and abundant in fat.
The people of the plains never eat it, but make use of the fat as a
remedy for rheumatic pains, ruptures, strains, &c."

"This serpent," says Sir B. K. Porter, "is not venomous nor known to
injure man (at least not in this part of the New World;) however, the
natives stand in great fear of it, never bathing in waters where it is
known to exist. Its common haunt, or rather domicile, is invariably
near lakes, swamps, and rivers; likewise close wet ravines produced by
inundations of the periodical rains: hence, from its aquatic habits,
its first appellation. Fish and those animals which repair there to
drink, are the objects of its prey. The creature lurks watchfully
under cover of the water, and, whilst the unsuspecting animal is
drinking, suddenly makes a dash at the nose, and with a grip of its
back-raclining double range of teeth never fails to secure the
terrified beast beyond the power of escape."

It would appear that boas are apt to be carried out to sea by sudden
floods, and are sometimes drifted alive on distant coasts. The Rev.
Lansdown Guilding, writing in the Island of St. Vincent, says, "A
noble specimen of the boa constrictor was lately conveyed to us by the
currents, twisted round the trunk of a large sound cedar tree, which
had probably been washed out of the bank, by the floods of some great
South American river, while its huge folds hang on the branches as it
waited for its prey. The monster was fortunately destroyed after
killing a few sheep, and his skeleton now hangs before me in my study,
putting me in mind how much reason I might have had to fear in my
future rambles through St. Vincent, had this formidable animal been a
pregnant female and escaped to a safe retreat."

The pythons closely resemble the true boas, but have the subcaudal
plates double; the muzzle is sheathed with plates, and those covering
the mouth of the jaws have pits. These snakes, which equal or exceed
the boas in magnitude, are natives of India, Africa, and Australia.

Pliny speaks of snakes in India of such a size as to be capable of
swallowing stags and bulls; and Valerius Maximus, quoting a lost
portion of Pliny's work, narrates the alarm into which the troops
under Regulus were thrown by a serpent which had its lair on the banks
of the river Bagradas, between Utica and Carthage, and which
intercepted the passage to the river. It resisted ordinary weapons,
and killed many of the men; till at last it was destroyed by heavy
stones thrown from military engines used in battering walls; its
length is stated as a hundred and twenty feet. Regulus carried its
skin and jaws to Rome, and deposited them in one of the temples, where
they remained till the time of the Numantine war.

Diodorus Siculus relates the account of the capture of a serpent, not
without loss of life, in Egypt, which measured thirty cubits long; it
was taken to Alexandria. Suetonius speaks of a serpent exhibited at
Rome in front of the Comitium, fifty cubits in length.

Though we do not refuse credit to these narratives, it must be added
that in modern days we have not seen serpents of such magnitude; yet
they may exist. Bontius observes that some of the Indian pythons
exceed thirty-six feet in length, and says that they swallow wild
boars, adding, "there are those alive who partook with General Peter
Both, of a recently swallowed hog cut out of the belly of a serpent of
this kind."

These snakes, he observes, are not poisonous, but strangle a man or
other animal by powerful compression. The Ular Sawa, or great Python
of the Sunda Isles, is said to exceed when full-grown, thirty feet in
length; and it is narrated that a "Malay prow being anchored for the
night under the Island of Celebes, one of the crew went ashore, in
search of betel nut, and, as was supposed, fell asleep on the beach,
on his return. In the dead of night, his companions on board were
aroused by dreadful screams; they immediately went ashore, but they
came too late, the cries had ceased--the man had breathed his last in
the folds of an enormous serpent, which they killed. They cut off the
head of the snake and carried it, together with the lifeless body of
their comrade, to the vessel; the right wrists of the corpse bore the
marks of the serpent's teeth, and the disfigured body showed that the
man had been crushed by the constriction of the reptile round the
head, neck, breast, and thigh."

Mr. McLeod, in his voyage of H.M.S. Alceste, after describing the mode
in which a python on board, sixteen feet in length, crushed and gorged
a goat, the distressing cries of which on being introduced into the
serpent's cage, could not but excite compassion, goes on to say that
during a captivity of some months at Whidah, in the kingdom of
Dahomey, on the coast of Africa, he had opportunities of observing
pythons of more than double that size, and which were capable of
swallowing animals much larger that goats or sheep. "Governor Abson,"
he adds, "who had for thirty-seven years resided at Fort William, one
of the African Company's settlements there, describes some desperate
struggles which he had seen, or which had come to his knowledge,
between the snakes and wild beasts as well as the smaller cattle, in
which the former were always victorious. A negro herdsman belonging to
Mr. Abson, and who afterwards limped for many years about the fort,
had been seized by one of these monsters by the thigh; but from his
situation in a wood the serpent in attempting to throw himself around
him got entangled in a tree; and the man being thus preserved from a
state of compression, which would instantly have rendered him quite
powerless, had presence of mind enough to cut with a large knife which
he carried about with him, deep gashes in the neck and throat of his
antagonist, thereby killing him, and disengaging himself from his
frightful situation. He never afterwards, however, recovered the use
of his limb, which had sustained considerable injury from the fangs
and mere force of his jaws."

Ludolph states that enormous snakes exist in Ethiopia: and Bosman
informs us that entire men have been found in the gullet of serpents
on the Gold coast. In the "Oriental Annual" is the following
narrative, explanatory of a well-known picture by W. Daniell: "A few
years before our visit to Calcutta," says the writer, "the captain of
a country ship while passing the Sunderbunds sent a boat into one of
the creeks to obtain some fresh fruits, which are cultivated by the
few miserable inhabitants of this inhospitable region. Having reached
the shore the crew moored the boat under a bank, and left one of their
party to take care of her."

During their absence, the lascar who remained in charge of the boat,
overcome by heat, lay down under the seats and fell asleep. While he
was in this happy state of unconsciousness an enormous boa, python,
emerged from the jungle, reached the boat, had already coiled its huge
body round the sleeper, and was in the very act of crushing him to
death, when his companions fortunately returned at this auspicious
moment, and attacking the monster, severed a portion of its tail,
which so disabled it that it no longer retained the power of doing
mischief. The snake was then easily despatched, and was found to
measure, as stated, sixty-two feet and some inches in length. It is
hardly probable that the snake had fairly entwined round the man, for
the sudden compression of the chest, had the snake exerted its
strength, would have been instantly fatal.

In March, 1841, a singular circumstance occurred at the gardens of the
Zoological Society, which at the time caused no little surprise. A
python, eleven or twelve feet long, and one about nine feet long, were
kept together in a well-secured cage; both had been fed one evening,
the larger one with three guinea pigs and a rabbit; but, as it would
appear, his appetite was unsatiated. The next morning, when the keeper
came to look into the cage, the smaller python was missing--its escape
was impossible--and the question was what had become of it?

The truth was evident--its larger companion had swallowed it. There it
lay torpid, and bloated to double its ordinary dimensions. How it
accomplished the act is not known, but we mav imagine a fearful
struggle to have taken place, as wreathing round each other they
battled for the mastery; unless, indeed, the victim was itself torpid
and incapable of resistance.

The Tiger Python, (_Python, tigris_), is a native of India and Java,
and is often brought over to England for exhibition. It was, we
believe, from one of these species that Mr. Cops, the keeper of the
lion office was in imminent danger, as narrated by Mr. Broderip.

The animal was near shedding its skin, and consequently nearly blind,
for the skin of the eye, which is shed with the rest of the slough,
becomes then opaque, when Mr. Cops, wishing it to feed, held a fowl to
its head. The snake darted at the bird, but missed it, seizing the
keeper by the left thumb, and coiled round his arm and neck in a
moment. Mr. Cops, who was alone, did not lose his presence of mind,
and immediately attempted to relieve himself of the powerful
constriction by getting at the snake's head. But the serpent had so
knotted himself on his own head, that Mr. Cops could not reach it, and
had thrown himself on the floor in order to grapple with a better
chance of success, when two other keepers coming in broke the teeth of
the serpent, and with some difficulty relieved Mr. Cops from his
perilous situation. Two broken teeth were extracted from the thumb,
which soon healed, and no material inconvenience was the result of
this frightful adventure.

Mr. Cumming, to whose exploits we have so frequently referred, gives
the following account of a day's adventures, one of which was an
amusing affair with a large python.

On the 26th, I rose at earliest dawn to inspect the heads of the three
old buffaloes, they were all enormous old bulls, and one of them
carried a most splendid head. The lions had cleaned out all his
entrails; their spoor [Footnote: Spoor, _i.e.,_ track] was immense.
Having taken some buffalo breast and liver for breakfast, I despatched
Ruyter to the wagons to call the natives to remove the carcasses,
while I and Kleinboy held through the hills to see what game might be
in the next glen which contained water. On my way thither, we started
a fine old buck koodoo, which I shot, putting both barrels into him at
one hundred yards. As I was examining the spoor of the game by the
fountain, I suddenly detected an enormous old rock-snake stealing in
beside a mass of rock beside me. He was truly an enormous snake, and,
having never before dealt with this species of game, I did not exactly
know how to set about capturing him. Being very anxious to preserve
his skin entire, and not wishing to have recourse to my rifle, I cut a
stout and tough stick about eight feet long, and having lightened
myself of my shooting-belt, I commenced the attack. Seizing him by the
tail, I tried to get him out of his place of refuge; but I hauled in
vain; he only drew his large folds firmer together; I could not move
him. At length I got a rheim round one of his folds about the middle
of his body, and Kleinboy and I commenced hauling away in good

The snake, finding the ground too hot for him, relaxed his coils, and,
suddenly bringing round his head to the front, he sprang out at us
like an arrow, with his immense and hideous mouth opened to its
largest dimensions, and before I could get out of the way he was clean
out of his hole, and made a second spring, throwing himself forward
about eight or ten feet, and snapping his horrid fangs within a foot
of my legs. I sprang out of his way, and, getting hold of the green
bough I had cut, returned to the charge. The snake was now gliding
along at top speed: he knew the ground well, and was making for a mass
of broken rocks, where he would have been beyond my reach, but before
he could gain this place of refuge I caught him two or three
tremendous whacks on the head. He, however, held on, and gained a pool
of muddy water, which he was rapidly crossing, when I again belabored
him, and at length reduced his pace to a stand. We then hanged him by
the neck to a bough of a tree, and in about fifteen minutes he seemed
dead, but he again became very troublesome during the operation of
skinning, twisting his body in all manner of ways. This serpent
measured fourteen feet.

Adventure with Buffalo and Elephant.

The Cape Buffalo we have already described, and we now refer to him
again only for the purpose of quoting Mr. Cumming's account of a
spirited fight with one. He thus relates the affair.

On the evening of the next day I had a glorious row with an old bull
buffalo: he was the only large bull in a fine herd of cows. I found
their spoor while walking ahead of the wagon, and following it up, I
came upon a part of the herd feeding quietly in a dense part of the
forest. I fired my first shot at a cow, which I wounded. The other
half of the herd then came up right in my face, within six yards of
me. They would have trampled on me if I had not sung out in their
faces and turned them. I selected the old bull and sent a bullet into
his shoulder. The herd then crashed along through the jungle to my
right, but he at once broke away from them and took to my left. On
examining his spoor, I found it bloody. I then went to meet my wagons,
which I heard coming on, and, ordering the men to outspan, I took all
my dogs to the spoor. They ran it up in fine style, and in a few
minutes the silence of the forest was disturbed by a tremendous bay.
On running towards the sound I met the old fellow coming on towards
the wagons, with all my dogs after him. I saluted him with a second
ball in the shoulder; he held on and took up a position in the thicket
within forty yards of the wagons, where I finished him. He carried a
most splendid head.

In another part of his narrative, Mr. Cumming thus describes a
desperate battle with an elephant.

On the 27th I cast loose my horses at earliest dawn of day, and then I
lay half asleep for two hours, when I arose to consume coffee and
rhinoceros. Having breakfasted, I started with a party of natives to
search for elephants in a southerly direction. We held along the
gravelly bed of a periodical river, in which were abundance of holes
excavated by the elephants in quest of water. Here the spoor of
rhinoceros was extremely plentiful, and in every hole where they had
drunk the print of the horn was visible. We soon found the spoor of an
old bull elephant, which led us into a dense forest, where the ground
was particularly unfavorable for spooring; we, however, threaded it
out for a considerable distance, when it joined the spoor of other

The natives now requested me to halt, while the men went off in
different directions to reconnoitre. In the mean time a tremendous
conflagration was roaring and crackling close to windward of us. It
was caused by the Bakalahari burning the old dry grass to enable the
young to spring up with greater facility, whereby they retained the
game in their dominions. The fire stretched away for many miles on
either side of us, darkening the forest far to leeward with a dense
and impenetrable canopy of smoke. Here we remained for about half an
hour, when one of the men returned, reporting that he had discovered
elephants. This I could scarcely credit, for I fancied that the
extensive fire which raged so fearfully must have driven, not only
elephants, but every living creature out of the district, The native,
however, pointed to his eye, repeating the word "Klow," and signed to
me to follow him.

My guide led me about a mile through dense forest, when we reached a
little wellwood hill, to whose summit we ascended, whence a view might
have been obtained of the surrounding country, had not volumes of
smoke obscured the scenery far and wide, as though issuing from the
funnels of a thousand steamboats. Here, to my astonishment, my guide
halted, and pointed to the thicket close beneath me, when I instantly
perceived the colossal backs of a herd of bull elephants. There they
stood quietly browsing on the lee side of the hill, while the fire in
its might was raging to windward within two hundred yards of them.

I directed Johannus to choose an elephant, and promised to reward him
should he prove successful. Galloping furiously down the hill, I
started the elephants with an unearthly yell, and instantly selected
the finest in the herd. Placing myself alongside, I fired both barrels
behind his shoulder, when he instantly turned upon me, and in his
impetuous career charged head foremost against a large bushy tree
which he sent flying before him high in the air with tremendous force,
coming down at the same moment violently on his knees. He then met the
raging fire, when, altering his course, he wheeled to the right-about
As I galloped after him I perceived another noble elephant meeting us
in an opposite direction, and presently the gallant Johannus hove in
sight, following his quarry at a respectful distance. Both elephants
held on together, so I shouted to Johannus, "I will give your elephant
a shot in the shoulder and you must try to finish him." Spurring my
horse, I rode close alongside, and gave the fresh elephant two balls
immediately behind the shoulder, when he parted from mine, Johannus
following; but before many minutes had elapsed that mighty Nimrod
reappeared, having fired one shot and lost his prey.

In the mean time I was loading and firing as fast as could be,
sometimes at the head, sometimes behind the shoulder, until my
elephant's fore-quarters were a mass of gore, notwithstanding which he
continued to hold stoutly on, leaving the grass and branches of the
forest scarlet in his wake.

On one occasion he endeavored to escape by charging desperately amid
the thickest of the flames; but this did not avail, and I was soon
once more alongside. I blazed away at this elephant, until I began to
think that he was proof against my weapons. Having fired thirty-five
rounds with my two-grooved rifle, I opened fire upon him with the
Dutch six-pounder; and when forty bullets had perforated his hide, he
began for the first time to evince signs of a dilapidated
constitution. He took up a position in a grove; and as the dogs kept
barking round him, he backed stern foremost amongst the trees, which
yielded before his gigantic strength. Poor old fellow! he had long
braved my deadly shafts, but I plainly saw that it was all over with
him; so I resolved to expend no further ammunition, but hold him in
view until he died. Throughout the chase this elephant repeatedly
cooled his person with large quantities of water, which he ejected
from his trunk over his back and sides; and just as the pangs of death
came over him, he stood trembling violently beside a thorny tree, and
kept pouring water into his bloody mouth until he died, when he
pitched heavily forward, with the whole weight of his fore-quarters
resting on the points of his tusks.

A most singular occurrence now took place. He lay in this posture for
several seconds, but the amazing pressure of the carcase was more than
the head was able to support. He had fallen with his head so short
under him that the tusks received little assistance from his legs.
Something must give way. The strain on the mighty tusks was fair; they
did not, therefore, yield; but the portion of his head in which his
trunk was imbedded, extending a long way above the eye, yielded and
burst with a muffled crash. The tusk was thus free, and turned right
round in his head, so that a man could draw it out, and the carcase
fell over and rested on its side. This was a very first-rate elephant,
and the tusks he carried were long and perfect.

Hunting the Orix and the Lion.

Mr. Cumming was extremely desirous to fall in with an oryx, and carry
off his fine head with its splendid long horns as a trophy. He thus
describes a long but successful chase for one.

At at early hour on the morning of the 16th, Paterson and I took the
field, accompanied by our three after-riders, and having ridden
several miles in a northerly direction, we started an oryx, to which
Paterson and his after-rider immediately gave chase. I then rode in an
easterly direction, and shortly fell in with a fine old cow oryx,
which we instantly charged. She stole away at a killing pace, her
black tail streaming in the wind, and her long, sharp horns laid well
back over her shoulders. Aware of her danger, and anxious to gain the
desert, she put forth her utmost speed and strained across the bushy
plain. She led us a tearing chase of upwards of five miles in a
northerly course, Cobus sticking well into her, and I falling far
behind. After a sharp burst of about three miles, Cobus and the grey
disappeared over a ridge about half a mile ahead of me. I mounted a
fresh horse, which had been led by Jacob, and followed. On gaming the
ridge, I perceived the grey disappearing over another ridge, a
fearfully long way ahead. When I reached this point I commanded an
extremely extensive prospect, but no living object was visible on the
desolate plain.

Whilst deliberating in which direction to ride, I suddenly heard a
pistol-shot, some distance to my left, which I knew to be Cobus's
signal that the oryx was at bay. Having ridden half a mile, I
discovered Cobus dismounted in a hollow, and no oryx in view. He had
succeeded in riding the quarry to a stand, and, I not immediately
appearing, he very injudiciously had at once lost sight of the buck
and left it.

Having upbraided Cobus in no measured terms for his stupidity, I
sought to retrieve the fortunes of the day by riding in the direction
in which he had left the oryx. The ground here was uneven and
interspersed with low hillocks. We extended our front and rode on up
wind, and, having crossed two or three ridges, I discovered a troop of
bucks a long way ahead. Having made for these, they turned out to be
hartebeests. At this moment I perceived three magnificent oryx a short
distance to my left. On observing us, they cantered along the ridge
towards a fourth oryx, which I at once perceived to be "embossed with
foam and dark with soil," and knew to be the antelope sought for. Once
more we charged her. Our horses had now considerably recovered their
wind, but the poor oryx was much distressed; and after a chase of half
a mile I jumped off my horse and sent a bullet through her ribs, which
brought her to a stand, when I finished her with the other barrel. She
proved a fine old cow with very handsome horns; the spot on which she
fell being so sterile that we could not even obtain the smallest
bushes with which to conceal her from the vultures, we covered her
with my after-rider's saddle-cloth, which consisted of a large
blanket. The head, on which I placed great value, we cut off and bore
along with us.

On my way home I come across Pater-son's after-rider, "jaging" a troop
of gemsboks, but fearfully to leeward, his illustrious master being
nowhere in sight. An hour after I reached the camp Paterson came in,
in a towering rage, having been unlucky in both his chases. I now
despatched one of my wagons to bring home my oryx. It returned about
twelve o'clock that night, carrying the skin of my gemsbok and also a
magnificent old blue wildebeest (the brindled gnoo,) which the
Hottentots had obtained in an extraordinary manner. He was found with
one of his fore legs caught over his horn, so that he could not run,
and they hamstrung him and cut his throat. He had probably managed to
get himself into this awkward attitude while fighting with some of his
fellows. The vultures had consumed all the flesh of the oryx, and
likewise torn my blanket with which I had covered her.

Mr. Gumming thus describes an innumerable herd of blesboks which he
encountered in the plains of Africa.

The game became plentiful in about ten days after we left Colesberg,
but when we came to the Vet River I beheld with astonishment and
delight decidedly one of the most wonderful displays which I had
witnessed during my varied sporting career in Southern Africa. On my
right and left the plain exhibited one purple mass of graceful
blesboks, which extended without a break as far as my eyes could
strain: the depth of their vast legions covered a breadth of about six
hundred yards. On pressing upon them, they cantered along before me,
not exhibiting much alarm, taking care, however, not to allow me to
ride within six hundred yards of them. On, on I rode, intensely
excited with the wondrous scene before me, and hoped at length to get
to windward of at least some portion of the endless living mass which
darkened the plain, but in vain. Like squadrons of dragoons, the
entire breadth of this countless herd held on their forward course as
if aware of my intention, and resolved not to allow one to weather

At length I determined to play upon their ranks, and, pressing my
horse to his utmost speed, I dashed forward, and, suddenly halting,
sprang from the saddle, and, giving my rifle at least two feet of
elevation, red right and left into one of their darkest masses. A
noble buck dropped to the right barrel, and the second shot told
loudly; no buck however, fell, and, after lying for half a minute the
prostrate blesbok rose, and was quickly lost sight of amongst the
retreating herd.

In half a minute I was again loaded, and after galloping a few hundred
yards let drive into them, but was still unsuccessful. Excited, and
annoyed at my want of luck, I resolved to follow them up, and blaze
away while a shot remained in the locker, which I did; until, after
riding about eight or ten miles, I found my ammunition expended, and
not a single blesbok bagged, although at least a dozen must have been
wounded. It was now high time to retrace my steps and seek my wagons.
I accordingly took a point, and rode across the trackless country in
the direction for which they were steering.

I very soon once more fell in with fresh herds of thousands of
blesboks. As it was late in the day, and I being on the right side for
the wind, the blesboks were very tame, and allowed me to ride along
within rifle-shot of them, and those which ran barged resolutely past
me up the wind in long-continued streams. I took a lucky course for
the wagons, and came right upon them, after they had outspanned on the
bank of the Vet River. I could willingly have devoted a month to
blesbok-shooting in this hunter's elysium.

The following is one of Mr. Cumming's most remarkable lion hunts.

We trecked up along the banks of the river for the Mariqua, and a
little before sundown fell in with two enormous herds of buffaloes,
one of which, consisting chiefly of bulls, stood under the shady trees
on one side of the bank, whilst the other, composed chiefly of cows
and calves, stood on the opposite side, a little higher up the river.
In all there were at least three hundred. Thinking it probable that if
I hunted them I might kill some old bull with a head perhaps worthy of
my collection, I ordered my men to outspan, and, having saddled
steeds, I gave chase to the herd of bulls, accompanied by Booi and my
dogs. After a short burst they took through the river, whereby I lost
sight of an old bull which carried the finest head in the herd. My
dogs, however, brought a cow to bay as they crossed the river, which I
shot standing in the water, but not before she had killed a
particularly favorite bull-dog, named Pompey.

I then continued the chase, and again came up with the herd, which was
now considerably scattered: and after a sharp chase, part of which was
through a wait-a-bit thorn cover, I brought eight or nine fine bulls
to bay in lofty reeds at the river's margin, exactly opposite to my
camp; of these I singlep out the two best heads, one of which I shot
with five balls, and wounded the other badly, but he made off while I
was engaged with his comrade.

In the morning I instructed four of my people to cross the river, and
bring over a supply of buffalo meat. These men were very reluctant to
go, fearing a lion might have taken possession of the carcase. On
proceeding to reconnoitre from our side, they beheld the majestic
beast they dreaded walk slowly up the opposite bank from the dead
buffalo, and take up a position on the top of the bank under some
shady thorn-trees. I resolved to give him battle, and rode forth with
my double-barrelled Westly Richards rifle, followed by men leading the
dogs. Present, who was one of the party, carried his _roer_, no doubt
to perform wonders. The wind blew up the river; I accordingly held up
to seek a drift, and crossed a short distance above where the buffalo
lay. As we drew near the spot, I observed the lion sitting on the top
of the bank, exactly where he had been seen last by my people.

On my right and within two hundred yards of me, was a very extensive
troop of pallahs, which antelope invariably manage to be in the way
when it is not wanted. On this occasion, however, I succeeded in
preventing my dogs from observing them. When the lion saw us coming,
he overhauled us for a moment, and then slunk back for concealment;
being well to leeward of him I ordered the dogs to be slipped, and
galloped forward. On finding that he was attacked, the lion at first
made a most determined bolt for it, followed by all the dogs at a
racing pace; and when they came up with him he would not bay, but
continued his course down the bank of the river, keeping close in
beside the reeds, growling terribly at the dogs, which kept up an
incessant angry barking.

The bank of the river was intersected by deep watercourses, and the
ground being extremely slippery from the rain which had fallen during
the night, I was unable to overtake him until he came to bay in a
patch of lofty dense reeds which grew on the lower bank, immediately
adjacent to the river's margin. I had brought out eleven of my dogs,
and before I could come up three of them were killed. On reaching the
spot I found it impossible to obtain the slightest glimpse of the
lion, although the ground favored me, I having the upper bank to stand
upon; so, dismounting from my horse, I tried to guess, from his horrid
growling, his exact position, and fired several shots on chance, but
none of these hit him. I then commenced pelting him with lumps of
earth and sticks, there being no stones at hand. This had the effect
of making him change his position, but he still kept in the densest
part of the reeds, where I could do nothing with him.

Presently my followers came up, who, as a matter of course, at once
established themselves safely in the tops of thorn trees. After about
ten minutes' bullying, the lion seemed to consider his quarters too
hot for him, and suddenly made a rush to escape from his persecutors,
continuing his course down along the edge of the river. The dogs,
however, again gave him chase, and soon brought him to bay in another
dense patch of reeds, just as bad as the last.

Out of this in a few minutes I managed to start him, when he bolted up
the river, and came to bay in a narrow strip of reeds. Here he lay so
close that for a long time I could not ascertain his whereabouts; at
length, however, he made a charge among the dogs, and, coming forward,
took up a position near the outside of the reeds, where for the first
time I was enabled to give him a shot. My ball entered his body a
little behind the shoulder. On receiving it he charged growling after
the dogs, but not farther than the edge of the reeds, out of which he
was extremely reluctant to move I gave him a second shot, firing for
his head; my ball entered at the edge of his eye, and passed through
the back of the roof of his mouth.

The lion then sprang up, and, facing about, dashed through the reeds,
and plunged into the river, across he swam, dyeing the waters with his
blood; one black dog, named "Schwart," alone pursued him. A huge
crocodile, attracted by the blood, followed in their wake, but
fortunately did not take my dog, which I much feared he would do.
Present fired at the lion as he swam, and missed him; both my barrels
were empty. Before, however, the lion could reach the opposite bank, I
had one loaded without patch, and just as his feet gained the ground I
made a fine shot at him neck, and turned him over dead on the spot.
Present, Carollus, and Adonis then swam in and brought him through. We
landed him by an old hippopotamus footpath, and the day being damp and
cold, we kindled a fire, beside which we skinned him.

While this was going forward I had a painful duty to perform, viz. to
load one barrel, and blow out Rascality's brains, whom the lion had
utterly disabled in his after-quarters. Thus ended this protracted and
all but unsuccessful hunt; for when I at length managed to shoot him,
the dogs were quite tired of it, and, the reeds being green, I could
not have set them on fire to force him out.

The lion proved to be a first-rate one; he was in the prime of life,
and had an exquisitely beautiful coat of hair. His mane was not very
rank; his awful teeth were quite perfect, a thing which in lions of
his age is rather unusual; and he had the finest tuft of hair on the
end of his tail that I had ever seen in a lion.

In the chase, my after-rider, who fortunately did not carry my rifle,
got a tremendous capsize from bad riding, a common occurrence with
most after-riders who have been employed in my service. The afternoon
was spent in drying the mane of the wet lion, skinning out the feet,
and preserving the skin with alum and arsenical soap.

Hunting the Giraffe.

Mr. Cumming thus describes the giraffe. These gigantic and exquisitely
beautiful animals, which are admirably formed by nature to adorn the
fair forests that clothe the boundless plains of the interior, are
widely distributed throughout the interior of Southern Africa, but are
nowhere to be met with in great numbers. In countries unmolested by
the intrusive foot of man, the giraffe is found generally in herds
varying from twelve to sixteen; but I have not unfrequently met with
herds containing thirty individuals, and on one occasion I counted
forty together; this, however, was owing to chance, and about sixteen
may be reckoned as the average number of a herd. These herds are
composed of giraffes of various sizes, from the young giraffe of nine
or ten feet in height, to the dark chestnut-colored old bull of the
herd, whose exalted head towers above his companions, generally
attaining a height of upwards of eighteen feet. The females are of
lower stature and more delicately formed than the males, their height
averaging from sixteen to seventeen feet.

Some writers have discovered ugliness and a want of grace in the
giraffe, but I consider that he is one of the most strikingly
beautiful animals in the creation; and when a herd of them is seen
scattered through a grove of the picturesque parasol-topped acacias
which adorn their native plains, and on whose uppermost shoots they
are enabled to browse by the colossal height with which nature has so
admirably endowed them, he must indeed be slow of conception who fails
to discover both grace and dignity in all their movements.

On the 24th, at the dawn of day, we inspanned, and trekked about five
hours in a northeasterly course, through a boundless open country,
sparingly adorned with dwarfish old tree. In the distance the long-
sought mountains of Bamangwato at length loomed blue before me. We
halted beside a glorious fountain, which at once made me forget all
the cares and difficulties I had encountered in reaching it.

The name of this fountain was Massouey, but I at once christened it
"the Elephant's own Fountain." This was a very remarkable spot on the
southern borders of endless elephant forests, at which I had at length
arrived. The fountain was deep and strong, situated in a hollow at the
eastern extremity of an extensive vley, and its margin was surrounded
by a level stratum of solid old red sandstone. Here and there lay a
thick layer of soil upon a rock, and this was packed flat with the
fresh spoors of elephants. Around the water's edge the very rock was
worn down by the gigantic feet which for ages had trodden there.

The soil of the surrounding country was white and yellow sand, but
grass, trees, and bushes were abundant. From the borders of the
fountain a hundred well-trodden elephant foot-paths led away in every
direction, like the radii of a circle. The breadth of the paths was
about three feet; those leading to the northward and east was most
frequented, the country in those directions being well wooded.

We drew up the wagons on a hillock on the eastern side of the water.
This position commanded a good view of any game that might approach to
drink. I had just cooked my breakfast, and commenced to feed when I
heard my men exclaim, "Almatig keek de ghroote clomp cameel;" and
raising my eyes from my sassayby stew, I beheld a truly beautiful and
very unusual scene. From the margin of the fountain there extended an
open level vley, without tree or bush, that stretched away about a
mile to the northward, where it was bounded by extensive grooves of
wide-spreading mimosas. Up the middle of this vley stalked a troop of
ten colossal giraffes, flanked by two large herds of blue wildebeests
and zebras, with an advance guard of pallahs. They were all coming to
the fountain to drink, and would be within rifle-shot of the wagons
before I could finish my breakfast. I, however, continued to swallow
my food with the utmost expedition, having directed my men to catch
and saddle Colesberg.

In a few minutes the giraffes were slowly advancing within two hundred
yards, stretching their graceful necks, and gazing in wonder at the
unwonted wagons. Grasping my rifle, I now mounted Colesberg, and rode
slowly toward them. They continued gazing at the wagons until I was
within one hundred yards of them, when, whisking their long tails over
their rumps, they made off at an easy canter. As I pressed upon them
they increased their pace; but Colesberg had much the speed of them,
and before we had proceeded half a mile I was riding by the shoulder
of the dark chestnut old bull, whose head towered above the rest.
Letting fly at the gallop, I wounded him behind the shoulder; soon
after which I broke him from the herd, and presently going ahead of
him, he came to a stand. I then gave him a second bullet, somewhere
near the first. These two shots had taken effect, and he was now in my
power, but I would not lay him low so far from camp; so having waited
until he had regained his breath I drove him half way back toward the
wagons. Here he became obstreperous; so loading one barrel, and
pointing my rifle toward the clouds, I shot him in the throat, when,
rearing high, he fell backward and expired.

This was a magnificent specimen of the giraffe, measuring upwards of
eighteen feet in height. I stood for nearly half an hour engrossed in
the contemplation of his extreme beauty and gigantic proportions; and
if there had been no elephants, I could have exclaimed, like Duke
Alexander of Gordon, when he killed the famous old stag with seventeen
tine, "Now I can die happy." But I longed for an encounter with the
noble elephants, and I thought little more of the giraffe than if I
had killed a gemsbok or an eland.

There are various modes of capturing giraffes. The Americans, who seek
them for their menageries, have the Mexican lasso, a long cord which
is thrown over the animal's head; and by casting him to the ground and
surrounding him by a large force of hunters, he is then captured
without difficulty.

Mr. Cumming thus notices the pitfalls used by the natives of Africa
for taking the giraffe and other animals:--Starvation was written in
the faces of these inhabitants of the forest. In their miserable
villages were a few small gardens, containing watermelons and a little
corn. Occasionally they have the luck to capture some large animal in
a pitfall, when for a season they live in plenty. But as they do not
possess salt, the flesh soon spoils, when they are compelled once more
to roam the forests in quest of fruits and roots, on which, along with
locusts, they in a great measure subsist. In districts where game is
abundant, they often construct their pits on a large scale, and erect
hedges in the form of a crescent, extending to nearly a mile on either
side of the pit. By this means, the game may easily be driven into the
pitfalls which are easily covered over with thin sticks and dry grass;
and thus whole herds of zebras and wildebeests are massacred at once,
which capture is followed by the most disgusting banquets, the poor
starving savages gorging and surfeiting in a manner worthy only of the
vulture or hyaena. They possess no cattle, and, if they did, the
nearest chief would immediately rob them. All parts of the country
abounded with pitfalls made by these and others of the Bakalahari.
Many of these had been dug expressly for the giraffe, and were
generally three feet wide, and ten long; their depth was from nine to
ten feet. They were placed in the path of the giraffe, and in the
vicinity of several of these we detected the bones of giraffes,
indicating the success that had attended their formation.

M'Dougal and the Indian

Several years previous to the Revolution a Scotchman and his wife,
named M'Dougal, emigrated to America. Having but very little money, he
purchased land where it was then sold for almost nothing, in a country
thinly peopled, and on the extreme verge of civilization.

His first care was to construct a house and clear away some of the
trees around it This done, he spent his whole time, early and late, in
making a garden and cultivating a few fields. By unwearied industry
and with the occasional help of older settlers, he by degrees acquired
a stock of cattle, sheep, and pigs, and was in a rough way, possessed
of a comfortable independence. His greatest discomforts were, distance
from his neighbors, the church, market, and even the mill; but, above
all, the complete separation from his friends; and this he would have
felt still more had he been an idle man.

One day, Farmer M'Dougal, having a quantity of corn to grind, knowing
that the distance was considerable, and the road none of the
smoothest, set out in the morning at sunrise, hoping he should reach
home again before dark.

When the farmer was at home he always drove up the cows for his wife
to milk, morning and evening; but now this care devolved on her, and
the careful woman went out in quest of them. Not accustomed to go far
from the house, she found herself in an unknown country, and, with
neither pocket compass nor notched trees to guide, it is not to be
wondered that she wandered long and wearily to very little purpose.
Tall trees seemed to encompass her on every side, or where the view
was more open, she beheld the distant blue hills rising one behind
another; but no village spire or cottage chimney was there to cheer
her on her way, and fatigued with the search, and despairing of
finding the cattle, she resolved while it was yet light, to retrace
her steps homeward.

But this resolution was more easily formed than executed; she became
completely bewildered; she knew not in which direction to turn, and,
at length, with tears in her eyes, and her mind agitated almost to
distraction, she sunk on the ground. But she had not rested there many
minutes before she was startled by the sound of approaching footsteps,
and, on looking up, she beheld before her an Indian hunter.

Although Mrs. M'Dougal knew that there were Indians living in the
neighborhood, she had never yet seen one, and her terror was very
great. The Indian, however, knew her; he had seen her before, he knew
where she lived, and he instantly guessed the cause of her distress.
He could speak but a few words of English; but he made signs for her
to follow him. She did so, and after a few minutes' walk, they arrived
at the door of an Indian wigwam. He invited her to enter, but not
being able to persuade her to do so, he darted into the wigwam, and
spoke a few words to his wife, who instantly appeared, and by the
kindness of her manner induced the stranger to enter their humble
abode. Venison was prepared for supper, and Mrs. M'Dougal, though
still alarmed at the novelty of her situation, could not refuse to
partake of the savory meal.

Seeing that their guest was weary, the Indians removed from their
place two beautiful deer skins, and, by stretching and fixing them
across, divided the wigwam into two apartments. Mats were then spread
in both, and the stranger was made to understand that one division was
for her accommodation. But here again her courage failed her, and to
the most pressing entreaties she replied that she would sit and sleep
by the fire. This determination seemed to puzzle the Indian and his
squaw sadly. They looked at one another, and conversed softly in their
own language; and at length, the squaw taking her guest by the hand,
led her to her couch and became her bedfellow.

In the morning she awoke greatly refreshed, and anxious to depart
without further delay; but this her new friends would not permit,
until she had eaten of their corn cakes and venison. Then the Indian
accompanied his guest, and soon conducted her to the spot where the
cattle were grazing. These he drove from the wood, on the edge of
which Mrs. M'Dougal descried her husband, who was equally delighted at
seeing her, as her absence from home all night had caused him great
uneasiness. They invited their Indian benefactor to their house, and,
on his departure, presented him with a suit of clothes.

Three days after, he returned and endeavored, partly by signs, and
partly by broken English, to induce Farmer M'Dougal to follow him into
the forest; but he refused. Time was precious to him, who had to work
hard for every thing he possessed, and the Indian repeated his
entreaties in vain. The poor fellow looked grieved and disappointed;
but a moment after, a sudden thought struck him. He hit on an
expedient which none but an Indian hunter would have thought of.

Mrs. M'Dougal had a young child, which the Indian's quick eye had not
failed to notice; and, finding that his eloquence was completely
thrown away upon the parents, he approached the cradle, seized the
child, and darted out of the house with the speed of an antelope. The
father and mother instantly followed, calling loudly on him to return;
but he had no such intention. He led them on, now slower, now faster,
and occasionally turning towards them, laughing, and holding up the
child to their view.

It is needless to go into all the details of this singular journey,
further than to say that the Indian, instead of enticing them to his
own wigwam, as they expected, halted on the margin of a most beautiful
prairie, covered with the richest vegetation, and extending over
several thousand acres. In a moment the child was restored to its
parents, who, wondering what so strange a proceeding could mean, stood
awhile panting for breath, and looking at one another with silent

The Indian, on the other hand, seemed overjoyed at the success of his
manoeuvre, and never did a human being frisk about and gesticulate
with greater animation. We have heard of a professor of signs, and if
such a person were wanted, the selection would not be a matter of
difficulty, so long as any remnant exists in the aborigines of North
America. All travellers agree in describing their gestures as highly
dignified, and their countenances intelligent; and we have Mr.
M'Dougal's authority for stating that the hero of this tale proved
himself a perfect master of the art of eloquence his broken English
was nearly in these words:

"You think Indian treacherous; you think him wish steal the child. No,
no; Indian has child of his own. Indian knew you long ago; saw you
when you not see him; saw you hard working man. Some white men bad,
and hurt poor Indian. You not bad; you work hard for your wife and
child; but you choose bad place; you never make rich there. Indian see
your cattle go in forest; think you come and catch them; you not come;
your wife come. Indian find her faint and weary; take her home; wife
fear go in; think Indian kill her! No, no; Indian lead her back; meet
you very sad; then very glad to see her. You kind to Indian; give him
meat and drink, and better clothes than your own. Indian grateful;
wish you come here; not come; Indian very sorry; take the child; know
you follow child. If Indian farm, Indian farm here. Good ground; not
many trees; make road in less than half a moon; Indians help you;
Indians your friends; come, live here."

M'Dougal immediately saw the advantage that such a change would be to
him, and, taking the Indian's advice, the day was soon fixed for the
removal of the log-house, along with the rest of his goods and
chattels; and the Indian, true to his word, brought a party of his red
brethren to assist in one of the most romantic removals that ever took
place, either in the Old World, or the New.

In a few days a roomy log-house was raised, and garden marked out in
the most fertile and beautiful part of the prairie. The Indians
continued friendly and faithful, and the good understanding; between
them and the white settlers was a source of great comfort to both

Contests with Jaguars

Nature, ever provident, has scattered with a bounteous hand her gifts
in the country of the Orinoco, where the jaguar especially abounds.
The savannahs, which are covered with grasses and slender plants,
present a surprising luxuriance and diversity of vegetation; piles of
granite blocks lie here and there, and, at the margins of the plains,
occur deep valleys and ravines, the humid soil of which is covered
with arums, heliconias, llianas. The shelves of primitive rocks,
scarcely elevated above the plain, are partially covered with lichens
and mosses, together with succulent plants and tufts of evergreen
shrubs with shining leaves. The horizon is bounded with mountains
overgrown with forests of laurels, among which clusters of palms rise
to the height of more than a hundred feet, their slender stems
supporting tufts of feathery foliage. To the east of Atures other
mountains appear, the ridge of which is composed of pointed cliffs,
rising like huge pillars above the trees.

When these columnar masses are situated near the Orinoco, flamingoes,
herons, and other wading birds perch on their summits, and look like
sentinels. In the vicinity of cataracts, the moisture which is
diffused in the air, produces a perpetual verdure, and wherever soil
has accumulated on the plains, it is adorned by the beautiful shrubs
of the mountains.

Such is one view of the picture, but it has its dark side also; those
flowing waters, which fertilize the soil, abound with alligators:
those charming shrubs and flourishing plants, are the hiding places of
deadly serpents; those laurel forests, the favorite lurking spot of
the fierce jaguar; while the atmosphere, so clear and lovely, abounds
with musquitoes and zancudoes, to such a degree that in the missions
of Orinoco, the first questions in the morning when two people meet,
are, "How did you find the zancudoes during the night? How are we
to-day for the musquitoes?"

It is in the solitude of this wilderness, that the jaguar, stretched
out motionless and silent, upon one of the lower branches of the
ancient trees, watches for its passing prey; a deer, urged by thirst,
is making its way to the river, and approaches the tree where this
enemy lies in wait. The jaguar's eyes dilate, the ears are thrown
down, and the whole frame becomes flattened against the branch. The
deer, all unconscious of danger, draws near, every limb of the jaguar
quivers with excitement every fibre is stiffened for the spring; then,
with the force of a bow unbent, he darts with a terrific yell upon his
prey, seizes it by the back of the neck, a blow is given by his
powerful paw, and with broken spine the deer falls lifeless to the
earth. The blood is then sucked, and the prey dragged to some favorite
haunt, where it is devoured at leisure.

Humboldt surprised a jaguar in his retreat. It was near the Joval,
below the mouth of the Cano de la Tigrera, that in the midst of wild
and awful scenery, he saw an enormous jaguar stretched beneath the
shade of a large mimosa. He had just killed a chiguire, an animal
about the size of a pig, which he held with one of his paws, while the
vultures were assembled in flocks around. It was curious to observe
the mixture of boldness and timidity which these birds exhibited; for
although they advanced within two feet of the jaguar, they instantly
shrunk back at the least motion he made. In order to observe more
clearly their proceedings, the travellers went into their little boat,
when the tyrant of the forest withdrew behind the bushes, leaving his
victim, upon which the vultures attempted to devour it, but were soon
put to flight by the jaguar rushing into the midst of them.

The following night, Humboldt and his party were entertained by a
jaguar hunter, half-naked, and as brown as a Zambo, who prided himself
on being of the European race; and called his wife and daughter, who
were as slightly clothed as himself, Donna Isabella and Donna Manuela.
As this aspiring personage had neither home nor hut, he invited the
strangers to swing their hammocks near his own between two trees, but,
as ill-luck would have it, a thunder storm came on, which wetted them
to the skin; but their troubles did not end here, for Donna Isabella's
cat had perched on one of the trees, and frightened by the
thunderstorm, jumped down upon one of the travellers in his cot; he
naturally supposed that he was attacked by a wild beast, and as smart
a battle took place between the two, as that celebrated feline
engagement of Don Quixotte; the cat, who, perhaps had most reason to
consider himself an ill-used personage, at length bolted, but the
fears of the gentleman had been excited to such degree, that he could
hardly be quieted. The following night was not more propitious to
slumber. The party finding no tree convenient, had stuck their oars in
the sand, and suspended their hammocks upon them. About eleven, there
arose in the immediately adjoining wood, so terrific a noise, that it
was impossible to sleep. The Indians distinguished the cries of
sapagous, alouates, jaguars, cougars, peccaris, sloths, curassows,
paraquas, and other birds, so that there must have been as full a
forest chorus as Mr. Hullah himself could desire.

When the jaguars approached the edge of the forest, which they
frequently did, a dog belonging to the party began to howl, and seek
refuge under their cots. Sometimes, after a long silence, the cry of
the jaguars came from the tops of the trees, when it was followed by
an outcry among the monkeys. Humboldt supposes the noise thus made by
the inhabitants of the forest during the night, to be the effect of
some contest that had arisen among them.

On the pampas of Paraguay, great havoc is committed among the herds of
horses by the jaguars, whose strength is quite sufficient to enable
them to drag off one of these animals. Azara caused the body of a
horse, which had been recently killed by a jaguar, to be drawn within
musket-shot of a tree, in which he intended to pass the night,
anticipating that the jaguar would return in the course of it, to its
victim; but while he was gone to prepare for his adventure, behold the
animal swam across a large and deep river, and having seized the horse
with his teeth, dragged it full sixty paces to the river, swam across
again with his prey, and then dragged the carcass into a into a
neighboring wood: and all this in sight of a person, whom Azara had
placed to keep watch. But the jaguars have also an aldermanic gout for
turtles, which they gratify in a very systematic manner, as related by
Humboldt, who was shown large shells of turtles emptied by them.

They follow the turtles toward the beach, where the laying of eggs is
to take place, surprise them on the sand, and in order to devour them
at their ease, adroitly turn them on their backs; and as they turn
many more than they can devour in one night, the Indians often profit
by their cunning. The jaguar pursues the turtle quite into the water,
and when not very deep, digs up the eggs; they, with the alligator,
the heron, and the gallinago vulture ore the most formidable enemies
the little turtles have. Humboldt justly remarks, When we reflect on
the difficulty that the naturalist finds in getting out the body of
the turtle, without separating the upper and the under shell, we
cannot enough admire the suppleness of the jaguar's paw, which empties
the double armor of the _arraus_, as if the adhering parts of the
muscles had been cut by a surgical instrument.

The rivers of South America swarm with alligators, and these wage
perpetual war with the jaguars. It is said, that when the jaguar
surprises the alligator asleep on the hot sandbank, he attacks him in
a vulnerable part under the tail, and often kills him, but let the
alligator only get his antagonist into the water, and the tables are
turned, for the jaguar is held under the water until he is drowned.

The onset of the jaguar is always made from behind, partaking of the
stealthy treacherous character of his tribe; if a herd of animals, or
a party of men be passing, it is the last that is always the object of
his attack. When he has made choice of his victim, he springs upon the
neck, and placing one paw upon the back of the head, while he seizes
the muzzle with the other twists the head round with a sudden jerk
which dislocates the spine, and deprives it instantaneously of life:
sometimes, especially when satiated with food, he is indolent and
cowardly, skulking in the gloomiest depths of the forest, and scared
by the most trifling causes, but when urged by the cravings of hunger,
the largest quadrupeds, and man himself, are attacked with fury and

Mr. Darwin has given an interesting account of the habits of the
jaguar: the wooded banks of the great South American rivers appear to
be their favorite haunt, but south of the Plata they frequent the
reeds bordering the lakes; wherever they are they seem to require
water. They are particularly abundant on the isles of the Payana,
their common prey being the carpincho, so that it is generally said,
that where carpinchos are plentiful, there is little fear of the
jaguar; possibly, however, a jaguar which has tasted human flesh, may
afterwards become dainty, and like the lions of South Africa, and the
tigers of India, acquire the dreadful character of maneaters, from
preferring that food to all others.

It is not many years ago since a very large jaguar found his way into
a church in Santa Fe; soon afterward a very corpulent padre entering,
was at once killed by him: His equally stout coadjutor, wondering what
had detained the padre, went to look after him, and also fell a victim
to the jaguar; a third priest, marveling greatly at the unaccountable
absence of the others, sought them, and the jaguar having by this time
acquired a strong clerical taste, made at him also, but he, being
fortunately of the slender order, dodged the animal from pillar to
post, and happily made his escape; the beast was destroyed by being
shot from a corner of the building, which was unroofed, and thus paid
the penalty of his sacrilegious propensities.

On the Parana, they have even entered vessels by night. One dark
evening the mate of a vessel, hearing a heavy but peculiar footstep on
deck, went up to see what it was, and was immediately met by a jaguar,
who had come on board, seeking what he could devour; a severe struggle
ensued, assistance arrived, and the brute was killed, but the man lost
the use of the arm which had been ground between his teeth.

The Gauchos say that the jaguar, when wandering about at night, is
much tormented by the foxes yelping as they follow him: this may
perhaps serve to alarm his prey, but must be as teasing to him as the
attentions of swallows are to an owl, who happens to be taking a
daylight promenade; and if owls ever swear, it is under these

Mr. Darwin, when hunting on the banks of the Uruguay, was shown three
well-known trees to which the jaguars constantly resort, for the
purpose, it is said, of sharpening their claws. Every one must be
familiar with the manner in which cats, with out-stretched legs and
extended claws, will card the legs of chairs and of men; so with the
jaguar; and of these trees the bark was worn quite smooth in front; on
each side there were deep grooves, extending in an oblique line nearly
a yard in length. The scars were of different ages, arid the
inhabitants could always tell when a jaguar was in the neighborhood,
by his recent autograph on one of these trees.

The Indian Parents.

Captain William Wells was a noted hunter and ranger in the western
country. He was captured by the Indians when but a child, and raised
among them. When the Indians defeated the United States troops, who
were under the command of Generals Harmer and St. Clair, Captain Wells
fought among the red men, and distinguished himself by his courage and
skill. But when General Wayne was placed at the head of the United
States forces in the west,

Captain Wells came over to the side of the whites, and received the
command of a company of rangers, or woodmen, who acted as spies and
scouts for General Wayne. The captain performed many daring exploits,
and caused the Indians to feel that in losing him they had gained a
terrible enemy.

Captain Wells was desperate in battle, but he often displayed much
kindness and generosity. On one of his excursions with a party of
rangers, through the Indian country, he came to the bank of the river
St. Mary, and discovered some Indians in canoes coming across the
stream. The captain dismounted, and concealed his men near the bank of
the river, while he went to the bank in open view, and called to the
Indians to come over. As he was dressed nearly in the Indian style,
and spoke to them in their own language, the Indians, without
suspicion of danger came across the river. The moment the first canoe
struck the shore, Wells heard the clicking of the locks of his
comrades' rifles, as they prepared to shoot the Indians. But who
should be in the canoe, but his Indian father, mother, and their
children! As his comrades were coming forward with their rifles
cocked, ready to pour in the deadly storm, Wells called upon them to
hold their hands. He then informed them who the Indians were, and
solemnly declared, that the man who would attempt to injure one of
them should receive a ball in his head. He continued, "That family fed
me when I was hungry, clothed me when I was naked, and kindly nursed

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