African Camp Fires eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about African Camp Fires.

The game seemed blocked.  The kudu had evidently settled down for a snooze; it was impossible, in the situation, to shorten the distance without being discovered; the daylight was almost gone; we could make out no trace of him except through our glasses.  Look as hard as we could, we could see nothing with the naked eye.  Unless something happened within the next two minutes, we would bring nothing into camp but the memory of a magnificent beast.  And next day he would probably be inextricably lost in the wilderness of mountains.[31]

It was a time for desperate measures, and, to C.’s evident doubtful anxiety, I took them.  Through the glasses the mane of the kudu showed as a dim gray streak.  Carefully I picked out two twigs on a bush fifteen feet from me, and a tuft of grass ten yards on, all of which were in line with where the shoulder of the kudu ought to be.  Then I lowered my glasses.  The gray streak of the kudu’s mane had disappeared in the blending twilight, but I could still see the tips of the twigs and the tuft of grass.  Very carefully I aligned the sights with these; and, with a silent prayer to the Red Gods, loosed the bullet into the darkness.

At the crack of the rifle the kudu leapt into plain sight.

“Hit!” rasped C. in great excitement.

I did not wait to verify this, but fired four times more as fast as I could work the bolt.  Three of the bullets told.  At the last shot he crumpled and came rolling down the slope.  We both raised a wild whoop of triumph, which was answered at once by the expectant gunbearers below.

The finest trophy in Africa was ours!

FOOTNOTES: 

[31] Trailing for any distance was impossible on account of the stony soil.

XLVII.

THE MAGIC PORTALS CLOSE.

It seemed hopeless to try for a picture.  Nevertheless I opened wide my lens, steadied the camera, and gave it a half-second.  The result was fairly good.  So much for a high grade lens.  We sent Kongoni into camp for help, and ourselves proceeded to build up the usual fire for signal and for protection against wild beasts.  Then we sat down to enjoy the evening, while Mavrouki skinned the kudu.

We looked abroad over a wide stretch of country.  Successive low ridges crossed our front, each of a different shade of slate gray from its neighbours, and a gray half-luminous mist filled the valley between them.  The edge of the world was thrown sharp against burnished copper.  After a time the moon rose.

Memba Sasa arrived before the lanterns, out of breath, his face streaming with perspiration.  Poor Memba Sasa! this was almost the only day he had not followed close at my heels, and on this day we had captured the Great Prize.  No thought of that seemed to affect the heartiness of his joy.  He rushed up to shake both my hands; he examined the kudu with an attention that was held only by great restraint; he let go that restrain to shake me again enthusiastically by the hands.  After him, up the hill, bobbed slowly the lanterns.  The smiling bearers shouldered the trophy and the meat, and we stumbled home through the half shadows and the opalescences of the moonlight.

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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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