Harper's Young People, March 2, 1880 An Illustrated Weekly

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Excerpt A HUNTING ADVENTURE. I had been travelling in the interior of Africa, in company with a Portuguese ivory trader, for several weeks, greatly enjoying the wild and exciting life we were compelled to lead. The exercise had steadied and braced my nerves, which before setting out were in a shattered condition from the effects of a severe and long attack of fever. Constant practice had also made me an expert shot and a successful hunter. Indeed, if one only knew how to handle a gun, and went to work with proper precaution, the amazing abundance of animal life everywhere to be met with could not fail in making him more or less of a sportsman. In hunting the large game, such as the lion, the elephant, and the rhinoceros, there was always a spice of danger, and I had in two or three several instances found myself in positions of extreme peril, from which nothing but presence of mind or good fortune brought me safely out. But the danger incurred only lent additional charms to the pursuit; while a proud feeling of exultation would steal over the heart when, thinking that an insignificant and feeble man should be more than a match for such huge creatures in spite of their gigantic strength. One day, in our several canoes, we were paddling up a broad river; on either bank stretched an apparently impenetrable forest, many of the trees of which approached to the very water's edge, while the ends of creepers fell into, and huge plants actually raised their heads out of, the river itself. From the branches of the trees curious-looking monkeys gazed inquisitively at us, chattering to each other as if inquiring what business we had in invading their domains; numbers of brilliantly colored birds hovered on the wing, making the air resound with their varied and peculiar notes; the gentle gazelle would timidly approach to slake his thirst at the water; the noble lion would stalk out in all his majesty for the same purpose, while ever and anon, now close to the canoes, now yards away, a loud snort would startle us, and the huge ugly head of a hippopotamus would be thrust above the surface. Journeying thus by water is a pleasant and restful change from the everlasting tramp, tramp, through the forest, which, although enjoyable, sometimes becomes a little wearisome. This particular day of which I speak made the third we had thus progressed without any startling adventure occurring to interrupt our voyage; it was not, however, to have so peaceful a close as the other two. When within some few miles of the spot where we intended camping for the night, as our larder was low, I told the trader I would land and procure some fresh meat for supper, and that I would meet him before long at the trysting-place. My canoe was accordingly directed to the shore. Taking with me four of the natives, to carry my spare gun and what game I might shoot, I plunged into the forest. I did not go very far from the banks of the river, for, as the day was drawing to a close, I was in hopes of meeting with plenty of game on their way to the water; so I followed the course of the stream toward our camping-place. The sudden plunge from the dazzling brilliancy of the sun to the solemn gloom of the forest made it almost impossible to see anything clearly until my eyes got accustomed to the peculiar light; so I was perforce obliged for a short time to grope my way cautiously along. My four attendants followed: one, a lad, bearing my spare gun; two armed with long lances; and the fourth—whom I always called Nacko, and who was one of the best native hunters I have ever known, active, brave, and cool in the presence of danger—carrying a gun of his own, which he could use with something like skill. Nacko always kept close to my heels, for I think he looked upon himself as my shield and guardian, and thought his protection necessary to insure my safety; otherwise I should run into danger, and come to inevitable grief....
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