The Magician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 273 pages of information about The Magician.

Then I heard nothing of him till the other day, when our friend Miss Ley asked me to meet at dinner the German explorer Burkhardt.  I dare say you remember that Burkhardt brought out a book a little while ago on his adventures in Central Asia.  I knew that Oliver Haddo was his companion in that journey and had meant to read it on this account, but, having been excessively busy, had omitted to do so.  I took the opportunity to ask the German about our common acquaintance, and we had a long talk.  Burkhardt had met him by chance at Mombasa in East Africa, where he was arranging an expedition after big game, and they agreed to go together.  He told me that Haddo was a marvellous shot and a hunter of exceptional ability.  Burkhardt had been rather suspicious of a man who boasted so much of his attainments, but was obliged soon to confess that he boasted of nothing unjustly.  Haddo has had an extraordinary experience, the truth of which Burkhardt can vouch for.  He went out alone one night on the trail of three lions and killed them all before morning with one shot each.  I know nothing of these things, but from the way in which Burkhardt spoke, I judge it must be a unique occurrence.  But, characteristically enough, no one was more conscious than Haddo of the singularity of his feat, and he made life almost insufferable for his fellow-traveller in consequence.  Burkhardt assures me that Haddo is really remarkable in pursuit of big game.  He has a sort of instinct which leads him to the most unlikely places, and a wonderful feeling for country, whereby he can cut across, and head off animals whose spoor he has noticed.  His courage is very great.  To follow a wounded lion into thick cover is the most dangerous proceeding in the world, and demands the utmost coolness.  The animal invariably sees the sportsman before he sees it, and in most cases charges.  But Haddo never hesitated on these occasions, and Burkhardt could only express entire admiration for his pluck.  It appears that he is not what is called a good sportsman.  He kills wantonly, when there can be no possible excuse, for the mere pleasure of it; and to Burkhardt’s indignation frequently shot beasts whose skins and horns they did not even trouble to take.  When antelope were so far off that it was impossible to kill them, and the approach of night made it useless to follow, he would often shoot, and leave a wretched wounded beast to die by inches.  His selfishness was extreme, and he never shared any information with his friend that might rob him of an uninterrupted pursuit of game.  But notwithstanding all this, Burkhardt had so high an opinion of Haddo’s general capacity and of his resourcefulness that, when he was arranging his journey in Asia, he asked him to come also.  Haddo consented, and it appears that Burkhardt’s book gives further proof, if it is needed, of the man’s extraordinary qualities.  The German confessed that on more than one occasion he owed his life to Haddo’s rare power of seizing

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The Magician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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