African Camp Fires eBook

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

We slipped over to the other side, and by good fortune caught sight of a dozen zebras feeding in scrub half-way down the hill.  They were out of their proper environment up there, but we were glad of it.  Down on our tummies, then, we dropped, and crawled slowly forward through the high, sweet grasses.  We were in the late afternoon shadow of the hill, and we enjoyed the mild skill of the stalk.  Taking advantage of every cover, slipping over into little ravines, lying very flat when one of the beasts raised his head, we edged nearer and nearer.  We were already well within range, but it amused us to play the game.  Finally, at one hundred yards, we came to a halt.  The zebra showed very handsome at that range, for even their smaller leg stripes were all plainly visible.  Of course at that distance there could be small chance of missing, and we owned one each.  The Wakamba, who had been watching eagerly, swarmed down, shouting.

We dined just at sunset under a small tree at the very top of the peak.  Long bars of light shot through the western clouds; the plain turned from solid earth to a mysterious sea of shifting twilights; the buttes stood up, wrapped in veils of soft desert colours; Kilimanjaro hung suspended like a rose-coloured bubble above the abyss beyond the world.

XXI.

Riding the plains.

From the mere point of view of lions, lion A hunting was very slow work indeed.  It meant riding the whole of long days, from dawn until dark, investigating miles of country that looked all alike and in which we seemed to get nowhere.  One by one the long billows of plain fell behind, until our camp hill had turned blue behind us, and we seemed to be out in illimitable space, with no possibility, in an ordinary lifetime, of ever getting in touch with anything again.  What from above had looked as level as a floor now turned into a tremendously wide and placid ground swell.  As a consequence we were always going imperceptibly up and up and up to a long-delayed sky-line, or tipping as gently down the other side of the wave.  From crest to crest of these long billows measured two or three miles.  The vertical distance in elevation from trough to top was perhaps not over fifty to one hundred feet.

Slowly we rode along the shallow grass and brush ravines in the troughs of the low billows, while the dogs worked eagerly in and out of cover, and our handful of savages cast stones and shouted.  Occasionally we divided forces, and beat the length of a hill, two of us lying in wait at one end for the possible lion, the rest sweeping the sides and summits.  Many animals came bounding along, but no lions.  Then Harold Hill, unlimbering a huge, many-jointed telescope, would lie flat on his back, and sight the fearsome instrument over his crossed feet, in a general bird’s-eye view of the plains for miles around.  While he was at it we were privileged to look about

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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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