the edge of the stream below him, a huge alligator. This had struck
at him with its tail - the usual manner in which the alligator
supplies itself with food - and had it not been for the warning
cry of the Houssa, would have knocked him into the stream. Its mouth
was open and Frank, as if by instinct, fired the contents of both
barrels into its throat. The animal rolled over on to its back in
the water and then turned as if to struggle to regain the bank.
The Houssa, however, had run up, and, placing the muzzle of his
gun within a foot of its eye, fired, and the creature rolled over
dead, and was swept away by the stream.
The Houssa gave a loud shout which was answered in the distance. He
then shouted two or three words, and turning to Frank said: "Men
get alligator," and proceeded on his way without concerning himself
further in the matter.
On his return to camp in the evening Frank found that the alligator
had been discovered and fished out, and that its steaks were by no
means bad eating. Frank told Mr. Goodenough of the narrow escape he
had had, and the latter pointed out to him the necessity of always
keeping his eyes on the watch.
"Alligators frequently carry off the native women when engaged in
washing," he said, "and almost invariably strike them, in the first
place, into the river with a blow of their tails. Once in the water
they are carried off, drowned, and eaten at leisure. Sometimes,
indeed, a woman may escape with the loss of a foot or arm, but this
is the exception."
"What is the best thing to do when so attacked?" Frank asked. "I
don't mean to be caught napping again, still it is as well to know
what to do if I am."
"Men when so attacked have been known frequently to escape by
thrusting their thumbs or fingers into the creature's eyes. If it
can be done the alligator is sure to lose his hold, but it demands
quickness and great presence of mind. When a reptile is tearing
at one's leg, and hurrying one along under water, you can see that
the nerve required to keep perfectly cool, to feel for the creature's
eyes, and to thrust your finger into them is very great. The best
plan, Frank, distinctly is to keep out of their reach altogether."
After remaining for a fortnight at their camp they prepared for
a move. Another hippopotamus was killed, cut up and dried, and
the flesh added to the burdens. Then the tent was struck and they
proceeded farther into the mountains. Two days later they halted
again, the site being chosen beside a little mountain rivulet.
They were now very high up in the hills, Mr. Goodenough expecting
to meet with new varieties of butterflies and insects at this
elevation. They had scarcely pitched their camp when Frank exclaimed:
"Surely, Mr. Goodenough, I can hear some dogs barking! I did not
know that the native dogs barked."
"Nor do they. They may yelp and howl, but they never bark like
European dogs. What you hear is the bark of some sort of monkey or
This opinion was at once confirmed by the Fans.
"We will sally out with our guns at once," Mr. Goodenough said.
"I don't like the thought of shooting monkeys," Frank muttered, as
he took up his Winchester carbine.
"They are very excellent eating," Mr. Goodenough continued, "superior
in my opinion, and, indeed, in that of most travelers, to any other
meat. We shall meet with no other kind of creature fit for food
up here. The birds, indeed, supply us amply, but for the men it is
desirable that we should obtain fresh meat when we have the chance.
These baboons are very mischievous creatures, and are not to be
attacked with impunity. Let four of the Houssas with their guns
come with us."
Following the direction of the sounds they had heard, the travelers
came upon a troupe of great baboons. It was a curious sight. The males
were as big as large dogs, some were sitting sunning themselves on
rocks, others were being scratched by the females. Many of these
had a baby monkey clinging on their necks, while others were playing
about in all directions.
"I'd rather not shoot at them, Mr. Goodenough," Frank said.
"You will be glad enough to eat them," Mr. Goodenough answered, and
selecting a big male he fired. The creature fell dead. The others
all sprang to their feet. The females and little ones scampered
off. The males, with angry gestures, rushed upon their assailants,
barking, showing their teeth, and making menacing gestures. Mr.
Goodenough fired again, and Frank now, seeing that they were likely
to be attacked, also opened fire. Six of the baboons were killed
before the others abstained from the attack and went screaming after
the females. The dead baboons were brought down, skinned, and two
were at once roasted, the others hung up to trees. It required a
great effort on Frank's part to overcome his repugnance to tasting
these creatures, but, when he did so, he admitted that the meat
That night they were disturbed by a cry of terror from the men.
Seizing their rifles they ran out.
"There are two leopards, sar," Ostik said; "they have smelt the
The shouts scared the creatures away, and the natives kept up a
great fire till morning.
"We must get the skins if we can," Mr. Goodenough said. "The skins
of the equatorial leopard are rare. If we can get them both they
will make a fine group for you to stuff when you get back, Frank."
"Are you thinking of following their trail?" Frank asked.
"That would be useless," Mr. Goodenough answered. "In soft swampy
ground we might do so, but up here it would be out of the question.
We must set a bait for them tonight, but be careful while you are
out today. They have probably not gone far from the camp, and they
are very formidable beasts. They not unfrequently attack and kill
The Fans were much alarmed at the neighborhood of the leopards, and
none would leave the camp during the day. Two of the Houssas were
left on guard, although Mr. Goodenough felt sure that the animals
would not attempt to carry off any meat in the daylight, and two
Houssas accompanied each of the travelers while out in search of
Nothing was heard of the leopards during the day. At nightfall
a portion of one of the monkeys was roasted and hung up, so as
to swing within four feet of the ground from the arm of a tree, a
hundred yards from the camp. Mr. Goodenough and Frank took their
seats in another tree a short distance off. The night was fine and
the stars clear and bright. The tree on which the meat hung stood
somewhat alone, so that sufficient light penetrated from above to
enable any creatures approaching the bait to be seen. Instead of
his little Winchester, Frank had one of the Sniders with explosive
bullets. The Houssas were told to keep a sharp watch in camp, in case
the leopards, approaching from the other side, might be attracted
by the smell of meat there, rather than by the bait. The Fans needed
no telling to induce them to keep up great fires all night.
Soon after dark the watchers heard a roaring in the forest. It came
from the other side of the camp.
"That is unlucky," Mr. Goodenough said. "We have pitched on the
wrong side. However, they will probably be deterred by the fire
from approaching the camp, and will wander round and round: so we
may hope to hear of them before long."
In answer to the roar of the leopards the natives kept up a continued
shouting. For some hours the roaring continued at intervals,
sometimes close at hand, sometimes at a considerable distance. Frank
had some difficulty in keeping awake, and was beginning to wish that
the leopards would move off altogether. Two or three times he had
nearly dozed off, and his rifle had almost slipped from his hold.
All at once he was aroused by a sharp nudge from his companion.
Fixing his eyes on the bait he made out something immediately below
it. Directly afterwards another creature stole forward. They were
far less distinct than he had expected.
"You take the one to the left," Mr. Goodenough whispered; "Now!"
They fired together. Two tremendous roars were heard. One of the
leopards immediately bounded away. The other rolled over and over,
and then, recovering its feet, followed its companion, Mr. Goodenough
firing his second barrel after him.
"I'm afraid you missed altogether, Frank," he said.
"I don't think so, sir. I fancied I saw the flash of the shell as
it struck him, but where, I have not the remotest idea. I could not
make him out clear enough. It was merely a dim shape, and I fired
as well as I could at the middle of it.
"Shall we go back to the camp now?" Frank asked.
"Yes, we can safely do so. You can tell by the sound of the roars
that they are already some distance away. There is little chance
of their returning tonight. In the morning we will follow them.
There is sure to be blood, and the natives will have no difficulty
in tracking them."
The rest of the night passed quietly, although roars and howling
could be heard from time to time in the distance.
Early in the morning they started with the Houssas.
"We must be careful today," Mr. Goodenough said, "for a wounded
leopard is a really formidable beast."
There was no difficulty in taking up the traces.
"One of them at least must be hard hit," Mr. Goodenough remarked;
"there are traces of blood every yard."
They had gone but a short distance when one of the Houssas gave a
sudden exclamation, and pointed to something lying at the edge of
a clump of bushes.
"Leopard," he said.
"Yes, there is one of them, sure enough. I think it's dead, but
we cannot be too cautious. Advance very carefully, Frank, keeping
ready to fire instantly."
They moved forward slowly in a body, but their precaution was
unnecessary. There was no movement in the spotted, tawny skin as
they advanced, and when they came close they could see that the
leopard was really dead. He had been hit by two bullets. The first
had struck his shoulder and exploded there, inflicting so terrible
a wound that it was wonderful he had been able to move afterwards.
The other had struck him on the back, near the tail, and had burst
inside him. Frank on seeing the nature of the wounds was astonished
at the tenacity of life shown by the animal.
"I wonder whether I hit the other," he said.
"I have no doubt at all about it," Mr. Goodenough answered, "although
I did not think so before. It seemed to me that I only heard the
howls of one animal in the night, and thought it was the one I had
hit. But as this fellow must have died at once, it is clear that
the cries were made by the other."
A sharp search was now set up for the tracks of the other leopard,
the Houssas going back to the tree and taking it up anew. They
soon found traces of blood in a line diverging from that followed
by the other animal. For an hour they followed this, great care
being required, as at times no spots of blood could be seen for a
considerable distance. At last they seemed to lose it altogether.
Mr. Goodenough and Frank stood together, while the Houssas, scattered
round, were hunting like well trained dogs for a sign. Suddenly
there was a sharp roar, and from the bough of a tree close by
a great body sprang through the air and alighted within a yard of
Frank. The latter, in his surprise, sprang back, stumbled and fell,
but in an instant the report of the two barrels of Mr. Goodenough's
rifle rang out. In a moment Frank was on his feet again ready to
fire. The leopard, however, lay dead, its skull almost blown off.
"You have had another narrow escape," Mr. Goodenough said. "I see
that your ball last night broke one of his hind legs. That spoilt
his spring. Had it not been for that he would undoubtedly have
reached you, and a blow with his paw, given with all his weight
and impetus, would probably have killed you on the spot. We ought
not to have stood near a tree strong enough to bear him when in
pursuit of a wounded leopard. They will always take to trees if
they can, and you see this was a very suitable one for him. This
bough on which he was lying starts from the trunk only about four
feet from the ground, so that even with his broken leg he was able
to get upon it without difficulty. Well, thank God, you've not been
hurt, my boy. It will teach us both to be more careful in future."
That afternoon Frank was down with his second attack of fever,
a much more severe one than the first had been. Mr. Goodenough's
favorite remedy had its effect of producing profuse perspiration,
but two or three hours afterwards the hot fit again came on, and for
the next four days Frank lay half delirious, at one time consumed
with heat, and the next shivering as if plunged into ice water.
Copious doses of quinine, however, gradually overcame the fever,
and on the fifth day he was convalescent. It was, nevertheless,
another week before he was sufficiently recovered to be able
to resume his hunting expeditions. They again shifted their camp,
and this time traveled for three weeks, making short journeys, and
halting early so as to give half a day from each camping place for
Frank was one day out as usual with one of the Houssas. He had
killed several birds when he saw a butterfly, of a species which
he had not before met with, flitting across a gleam of sunshine
which streamed in through a rift in the trees. He told his Houssa
to wait where he was in charge of the two guns and birds, and
started off with his net in pursuit of the butterfly. The creature
fluttered away with Frank in full pursuit. Hither and thither it
flitted, seemingly taking an impish delight in tantalizing Frank,
settling on a spot where a gleam of sunlight streamed upon the
bark of a tree, till Frank had stolen up within a couple of paces
of it, and then darting away again at a pace which defied Frank's
best attempts to keep up with it until it chose to play with him
again. Intent only upon his chase Frank thought of nothing else.
At last, with a shout of triumph, he inclosed the creature in his
net, shook it into the wide pickle bottle, containing a sponge soaked
with chloroform, and then, after tightly fitting in the stopper,
he looked around. He uttered an exclamation of dismay as he did
so. He saw by the bands of light the sun was already setting, and
knew that he must have been for upwards of an hour in chase of the
butterfly. He had not the slightest idea of the direction in which
he had come. He had, he knew, run up hill and down, but whether he
had been traveling in a circle or going straight in one direction,
he had not the least idea. He might be within a hundred yards of
the spot where he had left the Houssa. He might be three or four
He at once drew out his revolver, which he always carried strapped
to his belt, and discharged the six chambers, waiting for half a
minute between each shot, and listening intently for an answer to
his signal. None came. The stillness of the wood was unbroken, and
Frank felt that he must have wandered far indeed from his starting
place, and that he was completely lost. His first impulse was to
start off instantly at the top of his speed, but a moment's thought
convinced him that this would be useless. He had not an idea of
the direction which he should pursue. Besides the sun was sinking,
twilight is short in the tropics, and in half an hour it would be
as dark as midnight in the forest. Remembering his adventure with
the leopard he determined to climb into a tree and pass the night
there. He knew that an active search would be set on foot by his
friends next morning, and that, as every step he took was as likely
to lead him from as towards the camp, it was better to stay where
He soon found a tree with a branch which would suit his purpose, and,
climbing up into it, lit his pipe and prepared for an uncomfortable
night. Frank had never smoked until he reached Africa, but he had
then taken to it on the advice of Mr. Goodenough, who told him
that smoking was certainly a preventive, to some extent, of fever
in malarious countries, and, although he had not liked it at first,
he had now taken kindly to his pipe, and smoked from the time when
the evening mists began to rise until he went to bed.
The time passed very slowly. The cries of wild creatures could
be heard in the woods, and although Frank did not expect to be
attacked, it was impossible to sleep with these calls of leopards,
with which the forest seemed to abound, in his ears. He had reloaded
his revolver immediately after discharging it, and had replaced
it in his pouch, and felt confident that nothing could climb the
tree. Besides, he had heard that leopards seldom attack men unless
themselves attacked. Sleep, however, was out of the question, for
when he slept he might have fallen from his seat in the crotch of
the tree. Occasionally, however, he dozed off, waking up always
with an uncomfortable start, and a feeling that he had just saved
himself from falling. With the earliest dawn of morn he descended,
stiff and weary, from the tree. Directly the sun rose he set off
walking. He knew at least that he was to the south of the camp,
and that by keeping the sun on his right hand till it reached the
zenith he must get in time to the little stream on which it was
pitched. As he walked he listened intently for the sound of guns.
Once or twice he fancied that he heard them, but he was quite
unable to judge of the direction. He had been out with the Houssa
about six hours before he strayed from him in the pursuit of the
butterfly, and they had for some time been walking towards the
camp, in order to reach it by nightfall. Thus he thought, that at
that time, he could only have been some three or four miles distant
from it. Supposing that he had run due south, he could still be but
eight miles from the stream, and he thought that in three hours'
walking he might arrive there. In point of fact, after leaving the
Houssa the butterfly had led him towards the southeast, and as the
stream took a sharp bend to the north a little distance above the
camp, he was many miles farther from it than he expected. This
stream was one of the upper tributaries of the Gaboon.
After walking for two hours the character of the forest changed.
The high trees were farther apart, and a thick undergrowth began
to make its appearance, frequently causing him to make long detours
and preventing his following the line he had marked out for himself.
This caused him much uneasiness, for he knew that he had passed
across no such country on his way from the camp, and the thought
that he might experience great difficulties in recovering it, now
began to press upon him.
CHAPTER XI: A HOSTILE TRIBE
Every step that he went the ground grew softer and more swampy, and
he at length determined to push on no farther in this direction,
but turning to his left to try and gain higher ground, and then to
continue on the line he had marked out for himself.
His progress was now very slow. The bush was thick and close, thorny
plants and innumerable creepers continually barred his way, and the
necessity for constantly looking up through the trees to catch a
glimpse of the sun, which was his only guide, added to his difficulty.
At length, when his watch told him it was eleven o'clock, he came
to a standstill, the sun being too high overhead to serve him as a
reliable guide. He had now been walking for nearly six hours, and
he was utterly worn out and exhausted, having had no food since
his midday meal on the previous day. He was devoured with thirst,
having merely rinsed his mouth in the black and poisonous water
of the swamps he had crossed. His sleepless night, too, had told
on him. He was bathed in perspiration, and for the last hour had
scarcely been able to drag his feet along.
He now lay down at the foot of a great tree, and for three or four
hours slept heavily. When he awoke he pursued his journey, the sun
serving as a guide again. In two hours' time he had got upon higher
ground. The brushwood was less dense, and he again turned his face
to the north, and stepped forward with renewed hopes.
It was late in the afternoon when he came upon a native path. Here he
sat down to think. He did not remember having crossed such a path
on the day before. Probably it crossed the stream at some point
above the encampment. Therefore it would serve as a guide, and he
might, too, come upon some native village where he could procure
food. By following it far enough he must arrive somewhere. He sat
for a quarter of an hour to rest himself, and then proceeded along
the path, whose direction seemed to be the northwest.
For an hour he proceeded and then paused, hearing a sudden outcry
ahead. Scampering along the path came a number of great baboons,
and Frank at once stepped aside into the bush to avoid them, as
these are formidable creatures when disturbed. They were of a very
large species, and several of the females had little ones clinging
around their necks. In the distance Frank could hear the shouts
of some natives, and supposed that the monkeys had been plundering
their plantations, and that they were driving them away. The baboons
passed without paying any attention to him, but Frank observed
that the last of the troop was carrying a little one in one of its
Frank glanced at the baby monkey and saw that it had round its waist
a string of blue beads. As a string of beads is the only attire
which a negro child wears until it reaches the age of ten or eleven
years old, the truth at once flashed upon Frank that the baboons
were carrying off a native baby, which had probably been set down
by its mother while she worked in the plantation. Instantly he drew
his pistol, leaped into the road, and fired at the retreating ape.
It gave a cry, dropped the baby and turned to attack its aggressor.
Frank waited till it was within six feet, and then shot it through
the head. He sprang forward and seized the baby, but in a moment
he was attacked by the whole party of baboons, who, barking like
dogs, and uttering angry cries, rushed at him. Frank stood his
ground, and discharged the four remaining barrels of his revolver
at the foremost animals. Two of these dropped, but the others who
were only wounded sprang upon him. Frank struck out with the butt
end of his pistol, but in a minute he was overpowered.
One monkey seized him by the leg with his teeth, while another bit
his arm. Others struck and scratched at him, and he was at once
thrown down. He tried to defend his face with his arms, kicking
and struggling to the best of his power. With one hand he drew the
long knife for skinning animals, which he wore at his belt, and
struck out fiercely, but a baboon seized his wrist in its teeth,
and Frank felt that all was over, when suddenly his assailants left
him, and the instant afterwards he was lifted to his feet by some
He had, when attacked by the apes, thrown the baby into a clump
of ferns close by, in order to have the use of both his hands, and
when he looked round he found that a negress had already picked it
up, and was crying and fondling it. The negroes appeared intensely
astonished at Frank's color, and he judged by their exclamations
of surprise that, not only had they not seen a white man before,
but that they had not heard of one being in the neighborhood.
Frank had been too severely bitten and mauled by the baboons to be
able to walk, and the negroes, seeing this, raised him, and four
of them carried him to their village, which was but a quarter of a
mile distant. Here he was taken to the principal hut, and laid on
a bed. His wounds were dressed with poultices formed of bruised
leaves of some plant, the natives evincing the utmost astonishment as
Frank removed his clothes to enable these operations to be performed.
By pointing to his lips he indicated that he was hungry and thirsty.
Water was brought to him, and cakes made from pounded yams pressed
and baked. Having eaten and drank he closed his eyes and lay
back, and the natives, who had before been all noisily chattering
together, now became suddenly silent, and stealing away left the
strange white visitor to sleep.
When Frank woke he could see by the light that it was early
morning. A woman with a child in her lap, whom Frank recognized as
the negress who had picked up the baby, was sitting on a low stool
by his side. On seeing him open his eyes she came to the bed, took
his hand and put it to her lips, and then raised the baby triumphantly
and turned it round and round to show that it had escaped without
damage. Then when Frank pointed again to his lips she brought him