African Camp Fires eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about African Camp Fires.

So we tramped for a long time.  Every few moments Kongoni would want another look at that compass.  It happened that we were now going due north, and his notion was that the needle pointed the way to camp.  We profoundly hoped that his faith in white man’s magic would not be shattered.  At the end of an hour the rain let up, and it cleared sufficiently to disclose some of the mountain outlines.  They convinced us that we were in the main right; though just where, to the north, camp now lay was beyond our power to determine.  Kongoni’s detour had been rather indeterminate in direction and distance.

The country now became very rough, in a small way.  The feeble light of our leading lantern revealed only ghosts and phantoms and looming, warning suggestions of things which the shadows confused and shifted.  Heavily laden men would have found it difficult travelling by prosaic daylight; but now, with the added impossibility of picking a route ahead, we found ourselves in all sorts of trouble.  Many times we had to back out and try again.  The ghostly flickering tree shapes against the fathomless black offered us apparently endless aisles that nevertheless closed before us like the doors of a trap when we attempted to enter them.

We kept doggedly to the same general northerly direction.  When you are lost, nothing is more foolish than to make up your mind hastily and without due reflection; and nothing is more foolish than to change your mind once you have made it up.  That way vacillation, confusion, and disaster lie.  Should you decide, after due consideration of all the elements of the problem, that you should go east, then east you go, and nothing must turn you.  You may get to the Atlantic Ocean if nothing else.  And if you begin to modify your original plan, then you begin to circle.  Believe me; I know.

Kongoni was plainly sceptical, and said so until I shut him up with some rather peremptory sarcasm.  The bearers, who had to stumble in the dark under heavy burdens, were good-natured and joking.  This we appreciated.  One can never tell whether or not he is popular with a native until he and the native are caught in a dangerous or disagreeable fix.

We walked two hours as in a treadmill.  Then that invaluable though erratic sixth sense of mine awoke.  I stopped short.

“I believe we’ve come far enough,” I shouted back to C., and fired my rifle.

We received an almost immediate answer from a short distance to the left.  Not over two hundred yards in that direction we met our camp men bearing torches, and so were escorted in triumph after a sixteen-hour day.


[29] “The Land of Footprints.”

[30] Six months after I had reached home, one of these thorns worked its way out of the calf of my leg.



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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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