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

“That place ahead,” said he, “looks like a good place for rhinoceros.  Perhaps you’d better climb a tree.”

“There is a dikdik; a bush is big enough to climb for him.”

“Are you afraid of jackals, too?”

* * * * *

The fireflies were our regular evening companions.  We caught one or two of them for the pleasure of watching them alternately igniting and extinguishing their little lamps.  Even when we put them in a bottle they still kept up their performance bravely.

But besides them we had an immense variety of evening visitors.  Beetles of the most inconceivable shapes and colours, all sorts of moths, and numberless strange things—­leaf insects, walking-stick insects (exactly like dry twigs), and the fierce, tall, praying mantis with their mock air of meekness and devotion.  Let one of the other insects stray within reach and their piety was quickly enough abandoned!  One beetle about three-eighths of an inch across was oblong in shape and of pure glittering gold.  His wing covers, on the other hand, were round and transparent.  The effect was of a jewel under a tiny glass case.  Other beetles were of red dotted with black, or of black dotted with red; they sported stripes, or circles of plain colours; they wore long, slender antennae, or short knobby horns; they carried rapiers or pinchers, long legs or short.  In fact they ran the gamut of grace and horror, so that an inebriate would find here a great rest for the imagination.

After we had gone to bed we noticed more pleasantly our cricket.  He piped up, you may remember, the night of the first great storm.  That evening he took up his abode in some fold or seam of our tent, and there stayed throughout all the rest of the journey.  Every evening he tuned up cheerfully, and we dropped to sleep to the sound of his homelike piping.  We grew very fond of him, as one does of everything in this wild and changing country that can represent a stable point of habitude.

Nor must I forget one evening when all of a sudden out of the darkness came a tremendous hollow booming, like the beating of war drums or the bellowing of some strange great beast.  At length we identified the performer as an unfamiliar kind of frog!

XXXI.

THE LOST SAFARI.

We were possessed of a map of sorts, consisting mostly of wide blank spaces, with an occasional tentative mountain, or the probable course of streams marked thereon.  The only landmark that interested us was a single round peak situated south of our river and at a point just before we should cross the railroad at Tsavo Station.  There came a day when, from the top of a hill where we had climbed for the sake of the outlook, we thought we recognized that peak.  It was about five miles away as the crow flies.

Then we returned to camp and made the fatal mistake of starting to figure.  We ought to cover the distance, even with the inevitable twists and turns, in a day; the tri-weekly train passed through Tsavo the following night; if we could catch that we would save a two days’ wait for the next train.  You follow the thought.  We arose very early the next morning to get a good start on our forced march.

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