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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesIn The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 15
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In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 15 Post by :mentor4u Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :1532

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In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 15


Leo and Natty had been frequently begging me to accompany them to visit our friends to the south.

We agreed that we should greatly shorten the land journey by proceeding along the lake, and landing at a spot on its borders nearest the village, which we thought we could then reach in a few hours' march. Stanley had no objection to our going, provided we did not remain away more than three or four days. Mango was to accompany us as interpreter. From the experience we had had of the natives, we hoped that the garrison, though thus decreased, was still sufficient for the protection of our fortress, especially as the lions and leopards had for some time kept at a distance, finding out, probably, that we possessed ample means for their destruction. It is extraordinary what instinct wild animals exhibit, and how soon they desert a neighbourhood where they are frequently attacked. It is said that even hippopotami and crocodiles become more wary after being hunted; and though in the wilder districts they come out fearlessly to feed or to bask on the sandbanks, when hunters come to the neighbourhood they learn to conceal themselves in their watery retreats, and will only show their nostrils and eyes above the surface, keeping always in the most secluded parts.

The boys were greatly pleased at being allowed to take the proposed expedition. They made wallets to carry their food at their backs, and the articles they proposed to present to the natives, or to exchange for meat and other provisions should we not be able to supply ourselves. The village we were to visit, we learned from Igubo, was called Kabomba, and he seemed to consider it a very important place. To be sure, as Leo observed, he had never been in London, or even at Cape Town, so it was not surprising that he should look upon it with respect.

Our preparations were soon completed. Igubo gave his son charge to behave well, and to bring no discredit upon his white friends. Kate urged us all to take care of ourselves, and not to run into unnecessary danger. The whole party accompanied us down to the canoe. We had chosen the _Gazelle_, as the best of the two. As the wind was fair, we hoisted our sail and steered merrily down the river towards the lake. We had no difficulty, as we passed along, in supplying ourselves with food. Wild ducks of all sorts abounded. Among them were numbers of the Egyptian goose. We saw several of them ahead, and made chase. Being heavy of wing, we found they could not rise out of the water, and we caught four or five with our hands as we passed by. A little further on we neared a bank on which a large flock of ducks were seated. Leo and I fired at the same time, and on landing we picked up a dozen ducks and three geese which we had knocked over. Among them was a large black goose, which we saw in great numbers walking slowly about and picking up their food. The specimen we killed had a small black spur on its shoulder--as has the armed plover--and as strong as that on the heel of a cock; but the birds, it is said, never use them except in defence of their young. They are said always to choose ant-hills for their nests. The ants cannot hurt the eggs, and the material of which the hills are composed assists probably in hatching the eggs, as the sand does those of the ostrich.

I had hitherto held very little conversation with Mango. He had, however, picked up enough English to make himself understood, and during this trip I was able to ascertain some of his peculiar notions.

We kept for some time along the north shore of the lake. We were nearing a point when we saw a beautiful water-antelope, known under the name of _mochose_. Before I could stop him, Leo had lifted his rifle and fired. The poor animal was hit, and, as is always the case, instead of flying along the shore, leaped into the water and began to swim across the lake. We immediately made chase, for though we had ducks enough for food, venison was not to be despised. I saw Mango waving his hands and muttering in a peculiar manner. The mochose swam well, but we soon gained upon it; and I was anxious to put it out of its sufferings, for a red mark which appeared in its wake showed that it must have been badly wounded. Just as we neared it, a long snout projected above the water. It was that of a crocodile. The next instant the poor mochose and the hideous monster sank together. Mango uttered an expression of disappointment; and when I questioned him, he said that he had been praying to his fetish, who was himself a crocodile, that we might obtain the venison, but that the fetish would not hear him.

"That is a curious sort of religion," observed Leo; "for to my certain knowledge he and his father and brother supped off the crocodile Igubo killed the other day, and still he worships the beast."

I have not before mentioned it, but we had tasted the flesh Leo spoke of. It had a strong musky odour, which did not tempt us to try it again; though I do not know what we should have done had we been pressed by hunger. In a short time we came to a wide bay, across which we stood. The wind was fresh, and we flew rapidly over the water. The pure air raised our spirits, and we anticipated an interesting visit to our Kabomba friends. Mango pointed to a spot some way ahead, where he thought we might land; but at the same time said that if we continued further, we might possibly have a still shorter land journey to the village.

"It would be a pity to leave the canoe, as long as we can sail along so pleasantly," said Leo. "Do, Andrew, let us follow his suggestion."

As I saw no objection to it, we stood on down the lake. The breeze was increasing. I took two reefs in our sail, but still it was as much as the canoe could bear. Suddenly a strong blast came sweeping over the lake. I shouted to Natty, who was at the halliards. Almost before the words were out of my mouth, he had let them go. It was fortunate that he did so, or the canoe must inevitably have been upset. As it was, she heeled over so much that we took in a quantity of water. We set to work to bail it out; but the wind from that moment blew stronger and stronger, and in a few minutes the whole lake, which had hitherto been so calm, was covered with foaming seas. They increased every instant, and I saw that it would be dangerous to expose our light canoe broadside to them. Even as it was, they continued breaking over the sides, and it required active bailing to free her from water. Our only course, therefore, to escape being swamped, was to keep her directly before the gale. This carried us further and further down the lake, and drove us also off from the north shore. I told Natty and Leo to get out the paddles, while we set Mango to bail. We thus ran before the seas, and kept the canoe tolerably free from water. Night was approaching, and still there was no cessation of the gale. We could only see the land dimly on our right side, while we flew on, surrounded by the hissing and foaming waters. Much depended, I knew, on my steering well. The slightest carelessness might have allowed the canoe to broach to, when she must inevitably have been upset. Even had we clung to her, we should have lost our provisions, and we might have been picked up by some crocodile exploring the deeper water in search of prey; for I could not tell whether the monsters did not swim occasionally thus far from land. The boys plied their paddles energetically, as if they fancied our safety depended upon their exertions. Seeing this, I told them not to exhaust their strength, as it was only necessary to keep the paddles going sufficiently to assist me in steering the canoe. I tried to pierce the gloom ahead, but nothing could be seen but the troubled waters. It was different to any scene we had yet witnessed, for hitherto the lake had been calm as glass, unless when occasionally a ripple played over its surface.

"I say, Andrew, I wonder whether we are ever coming to an end of this?" exclaimed Leo. "If we go on at this rate, we shall be hundreds of miles away from Kate and the rest, and they will not know what has become of us."

"Not quite so far as that, I fancy," said Natty. "We must pray to be preserved, and hope for the best. I do not think we can do anything but that just now."

"Right, Natty," I said. "Do our best, and hope for the best. That is a right principle, and people who act thus are seldom led far wrong. Storms, in these latitudes, though they are very violent, do not last for any length of time; and I hope we may soon fall in with some island, under which we may take shelter."

"Suppose, though, we run against it. What shall we do then?" asked Leo.

"We must jump out and haul the boat up," answered Natty. "The shore is not dangerous like that of the sea-coast, and we shall have no great difficulty in saving ourselves, even if we are driven on it."

"We need not talk of such a contingency," I remarked. "I hope we may keep clear of all dangers till the gale drops, or till daylight returns."

Though I said this, I could not help feeling very anxious, particularly at the thought of being driven so far from home, for I knew that Kate would become alarmed should we not return at the time we proposed. Still we kept on; but often as I bent my head forward, trying to make out any object ahead, nothing could I see but the curling waves as before. I had no idea that the lake was so long, and expected every minute to find that we were approaching the end of it. Still on and on we went. Hour after hour passed by, and I calculated that morning must be approaching. The gale still increased, and as the light canoe flew over the foaming seas I dreaded every instant that they would break on board. She behaved beautifully, however, and though occasionally the top of a wave tumbled over her, we took in no great amount of water. At length, as I cast my eye towards the east, a faint light appeared in the sky. I hailed it as the harbinger of morning. At the same time the wind began to fall, and in a few minutes had evidently greatly decreased. I began to hope that our dangers were coming to an end, and that we should only have the trouble of paddling back again without visiting our Kabomba friends.

"I see the shore!" cried Leo, "on my right hand."

"And I see it on the left!" exclaimed Natty.

Just then Mango, who had been sitting quiet at the bottom of the canoe, lifted up his head as if listening, and then pointed to the south evidently in a state of alarm. He uttered a few words, but what he meant to say I could not make out. There was still so much sea that I was afraid of hauling the boat up: to attempt to reach the north shore. I therefore stood on as before, and in a short time found that we were entering either a narrow part of the lake or the commencement of a river flowing out of it, and I hoped every instant to reach some point where we could safely land. We had stood on some little way further, when I began to suspect, by the rapid way we passed the land, that we must have a strong current with us as well as the wind. Scarcely had I made this discovery when the loud roar of waters reached my ears. It was the deep, solemn sound which proceeds from a cataract. Now for the first time the truth broke on me. We were in a rapid current, which was hastily hurrying us on towards a waterfall. Not a moment was to be lost. I told the boys to lower the sail and to endeavour to get the canoe's head round so as to pull in for the shore; for as to making any way against the current and the wind combined, that I knew was impossible. They did their utmost, I helping them with my steering paddle, and Mango working away with a spare one; but still so heavy were the waves that they threatened every instant to capsize us, and I saw that we were being carried down almost as rapidly as before. In vain we paddled. We appeared to make no way. "Hope for the best, hope for the best!" cried Natty, exerting himself to the utmost. The perilous position in which we were placed pressed heavily on my mind. The loud roar of the cataract sounded louder and louder, and as daylight increased I made out in the distance a cloud of spray rising in the air. Down it there appeared every probability we should be carried, and what hope was there then of our escaping with life? I looked anxiously round on every side, and at length the increasing light revealed a small island a little way further down the stream. I trusted that by our exertions we might reach it. We continued straining every nerve. Rapidly the canoe was borne down sideways towards it. "A few strokes more and we shall be there," I cried out. "Work away, boys, work away." In spite of our exertions down glided the canoe, and the end of the island was passed. Still, we might reach some part of the side of the island. Had I been alone I might almost have leaped on shore. The moment was a fearfully anxious one. I could distinguish the southern end of the island. If we failed to reach that we must be lost. Trees overhung the banks. I gave a few more desperate strokes, and drove the canoe forward till her bows just touched the shore. "Leap out!" I cried. The canoe swung round. Natty seized the branch of a tree which hung down close to him, and swung himself up. I thought Leo and Mango had done the same, for I saw Leo clinging to a branch of a tree, and the black springing with the painter in his hand towards the shore. I therefore, seizing my gun and ammunition, leaped to the bank. What was my horror the next instant to see Leo fall back into the boat, the branch he had caught hold of breaking, and the black boy still holding on to the painter floating after the canoe. Leo seemed scarcely conscious of his own danger, but rushing to Mango, assisted to drag him in. My impulse was to spring into the water and try to regain the canoe, but just then Natty's voice reached me, crying, "Oh, help me, Andrew! help me!" and I saw that, though clinging to a branch, he could not manage, laden as he was, to climb along it so as to gain the shore in safety. I hurried to assist him, my heart sinking at the thought of what would become of Leo and Mango. I clambered along the tree, and at length got hold of Natty, but it required some caution to prevent us both falling off into the water. I got him, however, safe on shore, and then we hurried together to the south point, anxiously looking for the canoe. Leo and his companion had got out their paddles, and were working away in what appeared an utterly vain attempt to reach the north bank before the canoe would be hurried down the cataract. Natty wrung his hands in despair.

"Oh, how could it have happened?" he exclaimed, "I would have done anything rather than let Leo go. What is to be done? what is to be done?"

I had no consolation to offer him. Still the increasing light showed me that there were other islands intervening between the falls and the one we were on. It was barely possible, however, that the canoe would drift against one of them. We stood watching them with the deepest anxiety as the canoe was carried further and further down the current. Already she appeared to be in the rapids, from her quicker movement; and gliding faster and faster away, she soon was almost out of sight. It must be understood that there was a considerable distance between us and the cloud of vapour which I supposed to mark the situation of the fall. At length the canoe was hid from us altogether by a tree-covered island; but whether Leo and his companion had managed to reach it or not we were left in fearful doubt. It was some time before I could rouse myself. Poor Natty sat down on the ground with his head resting on his hands, completely overcome.

"But perhaps, after all, they may not have been lost!" he exclaimed, starting up, "and they may manage to tow the canoe along the bank of the river and come back to us. What do you think?"

"I dare not offer an opinion," I answered. "It is possible, just possible, and we must hope for the best."

Still we waited, looking in the direction we had last seen the two boys, anxiously hoping that they might reappear; but in vain. At length I began to feel somewhat faint, and Natty at last exclaimed, "Oh, I am so hungry!" It recalled us to the necessity of trying to find something on which we could support life. The island was so small, that had any birds been on it they would have flown away when we landed. I had, fortunately, a tinder-box in my pocket, so that we might light a fire if we could find anything to cook. At length Natty discovered a small fruit like a plum, growing on a tree covered with dark green leaves. He called me to it, and on examining it it struck me that it must be the _moyela_, which David had found near the banks of the river only a day or two before. This would at all events assist to satisfy the pangs of hunger, though it might not do to support us. I helped Natty up the tree, and he threw down to me as many as we thought we should require. We then sat down on the ground and discussed them, but the recollection of Leo made us too sad to talk.

"I am very thirsty," said Natty, "and must get a draught of water."

He went to the shore, and was stooping down to fill his hand full, when at that instant I saw a ripple in the water rapidly approaching. I had just time to spring up and pull him violently back, when a huge snout projected above the surface. The monster, startled by the fearful shriek Natty set up, and the loud cries I uttered, did not venture to approach, and slunk back again beneath the surface. I confess I was completely unnerved, and stood trembling all over, while Natty would have sunk to the ground had I not supported him. It was some minutes before I recovered.

"I must not again run the risk of being caught like that. I ought to have remembered the crocodiles," he said at last. "But I say, Andrew, don't you think it very likely that the creature may have its nest somewhere about the island? I will have a hunt."

Forthwith we began poking about in all directions with pieces of bamboo--a small grove of which grew on the island.

"Here is a hole," cried Natty at length, "and full of eggs, too. We will pay the crocodile off now for the fright he gave us."

I confess at first I could scarcely bring myself to think of eating crocodile's eggs. Natty had no such scruple. We filled our hats, and brought them to the beach, where, clearing away the grass to prevent an accident, we soon had a fire burning. As we had no pot to boil our eggs, we put them into the fire to roast, stirring them round and round with a stick. In spite of my repugnance, so excessive was my hunger that as soon as we thought the eggs were done, and Natty had pulled them out, I cracked one. The yolk alone had set, but that looked tolerably tempting; and on putting it to my mouth I could scarcely distinguish it, except by a peculiar flavour, from the yolk of a bird's egg. A couple, however, satisfied me.

"They will last the longer for not being too nice," observed Natty; "and we do not know how long we may have to stay here."

"We must think of means of getting away," I said; "for it is not likely that any canoes will pass by, and it is very certain that we must not attempt to swim on shore, though, were it only for the distance, I think I could do it, and carry you on my back."

"No, no, indeed!" exclaimed Natty. "We have had experience already of what would be our fate if we ventured into the water. But do you not think that the captain will come to look for us in the _Giraffe when we do not return? He will never give us up without a search."

"But you forget," I said, "our friends do not expect us back for two or three days, so that they will not think of setting out till after that time, when they find we do not return."

"And what shall we do in the meantime?"

Although an idea had occurred to me by which we could reach the shore, yet it was so perilous that I thought as long as we could find food on the island it might be prudent to stay there without attempting it. The day passed slowly away, and as evening approached I bethought me that we should wish to sleep.

"But what if a crocodile comes and picks us off?" said Natty. "That will not be pleasant."

"Too true," I said. "Then we must try and form a house in the trees."

There were not many on the island. We selected one with wide-spreading branches, into which we could without difficulty climb.

"But when we are there," said Natty, "how are we to sleep? As we cannot cling on like birds or monkeys, we should tumble off, for certain. I have it, though. Let us build a platform of bamboo; you have your hatchet, and we can soon form one large enough to hold us both."

The idea I thought excellent, and immediately set to work to cut down a good supply of bamboos. As I cut them I handed them up to Natty, who fastened the ends with flexible creepers, of which there was an abundance around us. Before it was dark we had formed a flooring about six feet long and as many broad. We now climbed up, and sat ourselves down to contemplate our performance.

"Suppose no canoe passes, how shall we ever be able to get from this," said Natty. "We are not going to live here for ever, I hope."

"I have thought of forming a reed raft, on which we can ferry ourselves across the narrowest part of the stream towards the north shore."

"But surely the current will carry us down?" he observed justly.

"I have thought of that; we must wait till a strong wind blows up the river, and then I have hopes that it will keep back the waters of the lake and probably greatly lessen the current. If so, and we can manufacture a mat sail, I think we shall be able to reach the nearest bank. It is dangerous, I grant, but I see no other way."

"Nor do I, indeed," he said; "but, by-the-by, I left our eggs near the river, and probably the mother crocodile will come to look for them and carry them off."

Without waiting for my reply he climbed down the tree, and was soon back again with our provisions. "I think I saw a snout just coming out of the water," he remarked; "and a minute later the creature would have got hold of them, I fancy. I did not stop to look a second time, however, for I was afraid that it would have caught me had I delayed."

"I am very glad you have brought the eggs, and still more that you escaped the monster. It is evident that we must be careful not to stand carelessly by the side of the bank, or go into the water," I answered. We were silent for some time.

"I think we should have prayers," I heard Natty observe. "Will you say them, Andrew?"

"Gladly," I replied; and to the best of my power I offered up a prayer for protection before we lay down to sleep. I was soon in the land of dreams, for I was thoroughly tired with the exertion I had gone through during the previous day. I was awaked by feeling Natty touch my arm.

"Look down there, Andrew," he whispered. "See! it is just as well we are safe up in the tree!"

As I cast my eyes down on the ground below us, I saw three huge crocodiles crawling slowly about; and though they generally take their food in the water, I had no doubt that they would not have objected to seize us for their suppers had they found us unprepared for resistance. It was rather difficult to go to sleep again with the knowledge that such creatures were in our vicinity. However, after watching them for a time, I felt my eyes closing, and shortly forgot all about them and everything else present. When I awoke the sun was shining through the branches of the trees. The crocodiles had disappeared, the wind was light, the sky blue, and the smooth water shone in the beams of the rising luminary of day. Voices reached my ears. A faint hope rose in my heart that they might proceed from Leo and Mango. I quickly descended the tree, and made my way to the edge of the island on the side whence they appeared to come. There I saw, at some distance, a canoe with four blacks in her, engaged in combat with a hippopotamus. One of them, standing up, was about to plunge his spear into the animal's neck. Several more animals were standing on the nearest reed-covered bank, while the heads of others protruded from among the reeds in the distance. Here was a means of escape, if we could make the blacks hear, and they were inclined to assist us. I called to Natty, who, descending the tree, was soon by my side. We shouted with might and main, but the blacks were so eagerly engaged in attacking the hippopotamus that they did not hear us. The monster, as he received the wound in his neck, turned round and attempted to seize the canoe; but the blacks, plying the paddles quickly, got out of his way, holding him, however, by a rope attached to the spear. Spear after spear was darted into his neck; and in a short time the blacks, taking him in tow, dragged him on shore, where, in spite of his struggles, they hauled him up, and several other people hurrying down to the bank, soon despatched him with their clubs. No sooner had they done so, than they set up loud shouts, and began dancing away in frantic joy at their success. I thought this was a favourable opportunity for again trying to attract their attention. We shouted and shouted, but still they did not hear us.

"I think, Andrew, you must fire your gun. They will hear that, at all events," said Natty.

I was about to do as he suggested; but then the question arose in my mind, whether we should be better off with the savages than we were by ourselves. Still, should we lose this opportunity of getting to the mainland, another might not occur. At length I fired. The effect was curious. The blacks ceased dancing, and looked about them with glances of astonishment. Presently five of them leaped into the canoe, and having pulled out from the shore, so as to allow the current to carry them directly towards it, began cautiously paddling down to the island. They, of course, knew its strength, and the necessity for care. As they approached, Natty and I each took a branch in our hands and waved it, hoping that they would understand it as a signal of friendship. As they drew near they stopped rowing, and gazed at us with looks of curiosity. I again waved to them, and showing them my gun, I placed it by my side, that they might understand I had no intention of using it. Except the usual small waist-cloth, the strangers had no clothing, though the man who sat in the stern guiding the canoe had a few ornaments about his head and on his neck, which showed that he was a chief. They began jabbering away to us, but of course we could not understand a word they said. I replied to them, therefore, by signs that we wished to be ferried over to the opposite shore. Natty fortunately recollected just then that he had a few beads, a clasp-knife, and one or two articles which he had put into his wallet just as we were coming away. He showed these to signify that we would pay them for the service they might render us. They seemed to understand our signs, and beckoned to us to step into the canoe, carefully turning her round, so that they might instantly paddle off again up the stream. We stepping in, they shoved off, exerting themselves to the utmost to stem the current. We made, however, but little way. As their backs were turned towards us, I could only judge of their disposition by watching the countenance of their chief. It was not particularly prepossessing, and the exertions he was making added not a little to its natural ugliness. He seemed to be regarding us with looks of intense curiosity, as if he had never before seen white people. After paddling along for a considerable time with the greatest exertion, they suddenly turned the canoe round and paddled across the current towards the shore. At length we got into a counter eddy, and now without difficulty they made way; the people who had been surrounding the hippopotamus running down along the bank to look at us. We soon reached a place where we could land, but for some minutes we were kept in the boat, while the tribe collected on the high banks above us, grinning down and gazing at us much as we should at a wild beast in its den in the Zoological Gardens. They were, I think, the ugliest savages we had yet met with.

"Well, I do declare I think poor Chico was a beauty to them," exclaimed Natty, as he looked up at them squatting in all sorts of attitudes on the bank. The women, (I must not call them the fair sex), were even less attractive than their lords and masters. Two or three of them had huge necklaces hanging down over their breasts and rings round their arms, which in no way added to their beauty. Some of them carried children slung to their backs by straps of buffalo hides, and the little creatures, as they looked down upon us, grinned from ear to ear, though, when their mothers approached nearer than they liked, they set up the most terrific cries, such as I should have thought no human beings could have uttered. At last the canoe-men allowed us to land, when the female portion of the spectators hurriedly retreated, as if we were some wild creatures likely to do them harm. My first object was to inquire whether they could give us any information about Leo and Mango; but they only shook their heads, and we could not tell what that intended to signify. I explained to them, as well as I could, that we had come in a canoe, which, with our companions in it, had been drifted down towards the cataract. Each time they only replied as before, with an ominous shake of the head. Their countenances brightened a little as I distributed among them the articles which Natty had brought, giving the chief a knife and a double allowance of beads. Some who had been in the background, and had not received any, now pressed forward, and looked very indignant when we showed them that we had no more to give. I now made signs to them that we wished to go down the banks to try and ascertain what had become of the canoe; but they put themselves before us, and intimated that they did not wish us to move to a distance. "But we must go, and we will go!" cried Natty. "We must find out what has become of Leo, and the whole tribe together shall not stop me!" It struck me, however, that probably they wished to cut up the hippopotamus and distribute it among the people; and that perhaps after this operation they might be willing to accompany us. Without hesitation, therefore, we walked along the bank towards the spot where the creature had been drawn ashore. I concluded that I was right, by seeing the chief and several men instantly begin to attack the monster. In a short time they had it skinned and cut up, each one taking a portion. The chief took none himself, but several men, whom I supposed to be slaves, were laden with larger portions than any of the rest, which, I have no doubt, were his share. This done, I again signified our wish to go down the banks to look for the canoe; and at length, greatly to my satisfaction, the chief and six of his companions began to move in that direction. Natty and I hurried on as fast as we could walk, though, indeed, had we not restrained our eagerness, we should soon have got ahead of our companions. The distance to the falls was far greater than I had supposed, for after we had gone some way we could still see the cloud of mist rising above them. When we got abreast of the islands to the south of the one we had landed on, we examined them narrowly; but no sign of the canoe could we discover. It was difficult, however, at all times to see across the river, on account of the thick wood which in many places fringed the banks and overhung the water. "Oh, they cannot be lost! they cannot be lost!" Natty exclaimed every now and then. I could only reply, I hoped not; and still, as I saw the rapid current rushing by, I dreaded to find my worst apprehensions fulfilled.

At length we got near the edge of the cataract. A dark ledge of rocks ran, it appeared, across the stream, some rising high above the water, which flowed with terrific force between them. There was, however, from the western shore on which we stood a point which ran out for some distance, and within this the water circled round, forming a back eddy. My only hope was, from not having seen the canoe on any of the islands, that she might have drifted into this eddy. We searched the shore on every side, but nowhere was she to be seen. That she could possibly have floated down the cataract without turning over, I feared was impossible. We, however, continued our way, not without difficulty, till we reached the lower level, and looking back, saw the stream rushing over its rocky bed, making a fall and leaping madly downwards to a depth of fifty or sixty feet, where it bubbled and foamed in a vast caldron, which sent up unceasing clouds of spray high into the air. Then after a time it began to flow more calmly, till it went gliding on as if fatigued by its hurried course. We now more narrowly examined the banks, not with any hope of finding our companions, but in the possibility that the canoe might have been drifted on shore, and that we might thus ascertain to a certainty their fate.

We went on till we readied another stream which ran into the main river. Here our companions placed themselves before us, and signified that we must go no further. I could only conjecture that they looked upon it as the border of their territory, and were afraid that should we pass it we should attempt to make our escape. I saw them looking out eagerly over the country beyond the stream, as if to ascertain whether any enemies were in the neighbourhood. They then signed to us that we must accompany them back again. As we returned we still continued examining the banks, in case we might have passed any spot where the canoe could be drawn up. We had not gone far when Natty, who had run through a narrow pathway leading down to the water, exclaimed, "Here, here! Andrew. I think I see the canoe a little way up the bank! Come and look!" I hastened to him. There, under some bushes at the end of a little point some few hundred yards from us, I saw an object which looked very like a canoe. Still, it might be that of some of the natives. We marked it well, and then hastened up again along the bank, examining the bushes that we might discover if there was any path through them. We searched about, however, for some time before we could find a pathway. At length one appeared, and Natty darting down it, made his way towards the water as last as he could run. It was like the former one, formed, I concluded, by elephants or rhinoceroses to reach their evening drinking-place. There was the canoe. The paddles, however, and everything in her, had been taken way. My heart beat with satisfaction and gratitude. Leo and Mango had escaped destruction in the cataract; but what, then, had become of them? We could discover no trace or sign, nothing whatever to give us any clue to their fate.

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In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 16 In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 16

In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 16
CHAPTER SIXTEEN. AMONG SAVAGES "What can have become of them?" exclaimed Natty for the twentieth time as we stood examining the canoe. "But here come the blacks. Perhaps they will find out." The chief and several of his followers assembled round the canoe, and began to talk eagerly to each other. They arrived at length at some conclusion, but what it was we could not divine. Then they examined the ground round, and seemed to discover certain marks, as one called the other to look at them. Then away they ran up the path, and began

In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 14 In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 14

In The Wilds Of Africa - Chapter 14
CHAPTER FOURTEEN STANLEY GAINS CREDIT AMONG THE NATIVES AS A LION-KILLER Again during the night the roar of the lion was heard. It put Stanley in a perfect fever; but David persuaded him not to go out and attempt to shoot the creature, as he was completely knocked up by the exertion of the previous days. The rest of us employed our time in collecting the prickly-pear for fortifying our post, as David had proposed. It was no easy matter, however, to cut the plants down. "If we were to throw a rope over them, and draw the