Lander's Travels eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,054 pages of information about Lander's Travels.

The canoes made here are of a particular description, very much resembling what are called punts in England, but are perfectly straight and flat bottomed.  They are generally formed out of one log of wood, and are of an immense size; that which the Landers purchased, was about fifteen feet in length and four in breadth, but they are sometimes made nearly as large again.  To this offer the Landers most willingly acceded, and as soon as all the goods were transferred into the purchased canoe, they found, after all, that it was not nearly large enough for their purpose, independently of its being extremely leaky, and patched up in a thousand places; they had been prevented from perceiving the canoe’s defect before, by the excitement of preparation, and the hurry of departure.  They now saw that they had been cheated by the artful king of the dark water, but rather than enter into an interminable dispute on the subject, which might involve them in further difficulties, they held their peace and put up with the imposition without a murmur; after, getting all their luggage into her, they waited for the arrival of a messenger, who was to have accompanied them a little way on their journey, but as he did not come, they resolved to depart without him, so bidding farewell to the king of the dark water, and hundreds of spectators who were gazing at them, they fired two muskets, and launching out into the river, they were soon out of sight of Zagozhi.


They paddled along the banks at a distance of not less than thirty miles, every inch of which they had attentively examined, but not a bit of dry land could anywhere be discovered, which was firm enough to bear their weight.  Therefore, they resigned themselves to circumstances, and all of them having been refreshed with a little cold rice and honey, and water from the stream, they permitted the canoe to drive down with the current, for their men were too much fatigued with the labours of the day to work any longer.  But here a fresh evil arose, which they were unprepared to meet.  An incredible number of hippopotami arose very near them, and came plashing and snorting and plunging all round the canoe, and placed them in imminent danger.  Thinking to frighten them off, they fired a shot or two at them, but the noise only called up from the water, and out of the fens, about as many more of their unwieldy companions, and they were more closely beset than before.  Their people, who had never in all their lives been exposed in a canoe to such huge and formidable beasts, trembled with fear and apprehension, and absolutely wept aloud; their terror was not a little increased by the dreadful peals of thunder, which rattled over their heads, and by the awful darkness which prevailed, broken at intervals by flashes of lightning, whose powerful glare was truly awful.

However, the hippopotami did them no kind of mischief whatever; no doubt at first when they interrupted them, they were only sporting and wallowing in the river for their own amusement, but had they upset the canoe, the travellers would have paid dearly for it.

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Lander's Travels from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.