The Baldwin Library
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH,
BY JULES VERNE.
AUTHOR OF â€œTWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA,â€
â€œBIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,â€ ETC., ETC.
FULLY ILLUSTRATED BY FERAT.
HENRY L SHEPARD & CO,,
(Successors to Shepard & Gill,)
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
HENRY L. SHEPARD & CO.,,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
Stereotyped and Printed by A. M. Lunt,
31 Hawley Street, Boston.
ON THE BANKS OF THE ORANGE RIVER Oa op. 9S)
CO BEICIALGERESENTATIONS (0 ctu Ves ss oP Ie
THE EQUIPAGE . Â° . . . Â° . . e . e 20
A HOTTENTOT VILLAGE : : . A es A oo . 26
BETTER ACQUAINTANCE Sete ar eae ee eee aT
GEODETICAL OPERATIONS PO Oo a gh
A KRAAL . Â® . . . . . . . a . ne 45
ORCA TD ee oi er ir Ged tee) tea ec
Be MUISSINGECOMEANION: 3) 0 (5 sg i st OS
A STATION TO SIR JOHNâ€™S LIKING pees cas ; ; . pW
PACIFICATION BY FIRE . Ã© 5 5 5 A ; 5 ; . 84
A DECLARATION OF WAR . . Â° . . . . . Â° 93
A GEOMETRIC PROGRESSION . . . . . . . . Â« 02
DANGER IN DISGUISE . . . . . . . . . Â» It
AN UNEXPECTED BLIGHT . . . . Â° Â° . . - %XIIg
THE DESERT . : ; â€˜ 5 5 ; . â€˜ . cei
SCIENCE UNDAUNTED . : : : : . . , eee)
STANDING A SIEGE : z Ã© : - 6 " . . + 151
SUSPENSE 6 . Fs : , ; 6 ; â€˜ " 0 - 6
HIDE AND SEEK . . . . . . . . Â° Â° - i&I7zi
HOMEWARD BOUND . 7 . 3 0 . : . Â» 184
Eis? OF JELUSTRA TIONS:
â€œThe bushman Mokoum.â€ i : : â€˜
A certain Moulibahan. Â§ i . Â«
â€œThe geodetical labors were commenced.â€
A Fortin theodolite.
â€œLarge fires were kindled.â€
â€œThe elephant slid by.â€
â€œHe cut off the tusks.â€
â€œTt was an immense hippopotamus.â€
â€œOn a stump sat Nicholas Palander.â€
â€œThe animal turned upon him.â€
â€œ The forest was on fire.â€ ; : : ; .
â€œEmery was thrown down.â€
A strange cloud.
â€œ The sudden attack surprised them.â€
An attack on Mount Scorzef. : Fi , .
The rice of the Boschjesmen.
â€œThe â€˜Queen and Czarâ€™ advanced.â€
â€œThey found game in abundance.â€
Palanderâ€™s combat with the chacma, . . . â€˜
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH.
ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER ORANGE,
N the 22d of February, 1854, two men, lying at the foot of
a large weeping-willow, were busily engaged in conversa-
tion, and were watching with earnest attention the waters of
the river Orange. This river, the Groote-stream of the Holland-
ers, the Gariep of the Hottentots, is a rival of the three great
African arteries, the Nile, the Niger and the Zambese. Like
these, it has its immense waters, its rapids and its cataracts.
Certain explorers, whose names are familiarly known, â€” Thomp-
son, Alexander and Burchell, â€” have each boasted of the clear-
ness of the current and the beauty of its banks.
In this place, the Orange, nearing the mountains of the
Duke of York, affords to the eye of the spectator a most sublime
spectacle. Impassable cliffs, imposing masses of rock, and
8 ADVENTURES IN THE
trunks of trees petrified by the action of time, deep caverns,
impenetrable forests, which have not yet yielded to the axe of
the settler: all these, framed by a baclsground of the Gariepius
mountains, together form a sight of incomparable magnificence.
Of these two men, whom the chances of an exploration had
doubtless allured into this portion of Southern Africa, one gave
only a vague consideration to the natural beauties afforded to
his gaze. This indifferent voyager was a bushman hunter, â€”a
fine type of his valiant race, and quick in his gestures, â€” whose
nomadic life was chiefly spent in the forest. The name of
bushmanâ€”an English word derived from the Hollandish Bosch-
jesmanâ€” literally means â€œa man of the bushes,â€ and is
applied to those wandering tribes who traverse the country in
the northwest of the colony of the Cape. No family of these
bushmen remain stationed in any one place; their whole life is
passed in that region comprised between the river Orange and
the Eastern ranges, where plundering and depredations form
their sole occupation.
This bushman, aged about forty years, was a tall man, and
possessed of a large amount of muscular force. Even while in
repose, his body manifested the appearance of action. The
cleanliness, the ease and freedom of his movements, denoted
an individual energy,â€”a sort of personage fashioned in the
mould of the celebrated Leather-Stocking, the hero of the
American prairies, but evincing less calmness, perhaps, than
was portrayed in Cooperâ€™s favorite huntsman.
_ The bushman was not a savage, like his congenital race, the
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 9
ancient Saguas. Born of an English father and of a Hottentot
mother, this mongrel, by his constant intercourse with strangers,
had gained more than he had lost, and spoke fluently his pa-
ternal language. His costume, half Hottentot and half Euro-
pean, comprised a shirt of red flannel, a coat and a pair of
breeches made of the skin of the antelope, and a suit of armor
for the knees made from the hide of the wild-cat. Around the
neck of this chassewr was suspended a small bag, containing a
knife, a pipe and some tobacco. A sort of sheep-skin cap sur-
mounted his head, and a heavy girdle encircled his waist.
Upon his wrists were bracelets of most elegantly carved ivory;
and from his shoulders floated a â€œ Kross,â€ â€”a species of draped
mantle, of tiger skin, and which descended as far down as the
knees. A dog of indigenous race was sleeping beside him.
The bushman was enjoying his pipe of tobacco, and in the fol-
lowing words gave token of his impatience.
â€œCome, come! Be quiet, Mokoum!â€ said his interlocutor to
him. â€œ You are certainly the most restless of men, â€” when you
are not off on the hunt! But understand, my worthy friend, that
we cannot alter circumstances. Those whom we now await will
arrive sooner or later, â€” and that will be to-morrow, if it is not
The companion of the bushman was a young man of about
twenty-five or twenty-six years of age. His quiet countenance
showed itself at all times. As regarded his origin, no one
would have doubted it. He was an Englishman. In one word,
that young man was not a mere adventurer, but a distinguished
10. ADVENTURES IN THE
scholar, â€” William Emery, the astronomer of the Cape Observa-
tory. He, a little foreign, perhaps, in the midst of this desert
region of Southern Africa, some hundreds of miles from Cape
Town, was thoroughly unable to stifle the natural impetuosity
of his comrade.
â€œMr, Emery,â€ said the bushman, in English, â€œit is now eight
days since we came to the river Orange and to the cataract of
Morgheda. It is a long time since a member of my family was
forced to remain eight days in one place. - You forget that we
are nomads, and that our feet are not accustomed to tarry
â€œMy friend Mokoum,â€ replied the astronomer, â€œthose whom
we await are on the way from England, and we ought, at least
to allow them eight days of grace. We must take into consid-
eration the long journeys to be performed, the delays which are
likely to occur from the ascent of the river Orange, â€”in a word,
the thousand and one difficulties that attend an enterprise of
this sort. Now, we have been told to prepare for an exploring
expedition into Southern Africa, and to await the presence
of my colleague, Colonel Everest, of the Cambridge Observa-
tory, at the falls of Morgheda. Here are the falls of Morgheda;
here is the place appointed for our meeting, and here let us re-
main. What more could you wish, my worthy bushman?â€
â€œYou are not deceived, are you, Mr. Emery?â€ replied Mo-
koum. Is it at the falls of Morgheda, and in the last of this
month of January, that this meeting is to take place?â€
â€œYes, my friend,â€ said William Emery. â€œHere is the letter of
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. IL
Mr. Airy, the director of the Greenwich Observatory, which will
prove to you that I am not deceived.â€
The bushman took the letter, and like a man totally unfamil-
iar with the mysteries of calligraphy, turned it over and over.
Then, returning it to its owner, he said: â€”
â€œ Read to me what that paper contains.â€
For the twentieth time the young scholar recapitulated the
facts contained in the letter. In the latter part of the preced-
ing year William Emery had received a letter, which acquainted
him of the near approach of Colonel Everest, and of an Interna-
tional Scientific Commission destined for Southern Africa.
What were the projects of this Commission? and why was it
bent upon such an expedition? Emery himself could not ex-
plain, inasmuch as the letter of Mr. Airy was silent on this .
point. The former, in strict obedience to the instructions which
he had received, had made haste to get ready at Lattakou, one
of the most northern stations of the Hottentot region, the wag-
ons, the provisions, and whatever else was deemed necessary.
Then, knowing by reputation, the huntsman, Mokoum, who had
accompanied Andersen in his adventures in Western Africa,
and the intrepid David Livingstone on his first visit to the Lake
Ngami and to the falls of the Zambese, he offered to him the
command of this caravan.
This done, it was agreed that the bushman, who thoroughly
understood the country, should conduct William Emery to the
banks of the Orange, to the falls of Morgheda, the place ap-
pointed. At this place the Scientific Commission had promised
12 ADVENTURES IN THE
to join them. This Commission had taken passage aboard the
British frigate Augusta, and were now on the way. William
Emery and Mokoum had come hither with wagons, which they
had left at the foot of the valley, and which were intended as the
medium of transportation for the English gentlemen and their
These facts having been repeated, and forcibly impressed
upon the mind of the bushman, the latter advanced to the edge
of the precipice, over which the waters fell with a rushing tor-
rent. The astronomer followed closely behind him.
For some moments Mokoum and his comrade watched with
great interest the surface of those waters which moved quietly
along, just a quarter of a mile beyond. Neither boat nor ob-
ject of any sort impeded their smooth course. It was three
o'clock by the watch. The month of January corresponds to
the month of July of northern lands, and the sun, almost per-
pendicular above the twenty-ninth parallel, inflames the air to a
temperature of one hundred and fifteen degrees, Fahrenheit, ir.
the shade. Were it not for the western breezes, which mod-
erate the atmosphere a little, this extreme heat could not be
sustained by any one save the bushmen.
After ten minutes of observation, Mokoum returned, beating
the earth with his feet. His eyes, whose sight was penetrating,
had discovered nothing.
â€œAnd so your people have not made their appearance?â€ said
he to the astronomer.
â€œThey will come, my brave. fellow,â€ replied William Emery.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 13
â€œThey are men of honor, and will keep their word. Do not re-
proach them! The letter announces their arrival at the end of
the month of January. It is now the twenty-seventh; and four
days still remain for them to reach the falls of Morgheda.â€
â€œ And what if they do not come then?â€ asked the bushman,
â€œWell, then it will be the time, or never, for us to exhaust
our patience; but we shall wait for them until there is enough
proof that they will not come!â€
â€œDieu Ko!â€ cried the bushman, â€œyou would be willing to
wait until these waters had all passed over the precipice!â€
â€œNo, sir,â€ replied Emery. â€œReason must control all of our
actions. Now, reason says to us: If Colonel Everest and his
companions, harassed by a hard voyage, in want, perhaps, of
the necessaries of life, and lost in this solitary place, should at
length come to the appointed rendezvous and find us gone
away, we should have to bear the blame. If any misfortune
should occur, the responsibility would fall on us. We ought to
remain at our post, so long as duty places us under the obliga-
The chasseur understood and appreciated this explanation.
He resolved, therefore, to while away the hours by a hunt in
the forest. Lions, hyenas, and leopards, the sole dwellers in
the African forests, did not baffle the courage of a Nimrod such
as he; and ere many moments had elapsed Mokoum and his
faithful dog were out of sight in a dense grove which las
beyond the cataract.
William Emery remained alone, and, while trying to sleep
14 ADVENTURES IN THE
idly reflected on the perilousness of his situation. At length,
ter long meditation, slumber overtook him and wrapped him
in her embrace. When he awoke the sun was already setting
behind the western hills; and it being well-nigh six oâ€™clock in
the evening, the time had arrived for the astronomer to look
after the wagons which had been left in the valley below.
On a sudden a loud noise was heard in the neighboring
bushes; and soon the bushman and his dog, Top, appeared at
the opening of the grove. Mokoum was dragging behind him
the carcass of some animal which his unerring rifle had killed.
â€œ Are you here, ready?â€ exclaimed William Emery; â€œand
what good thing have you brought for our supper?â€
â€œA spring-buck, Mr. Emery,â€ replied the chasseur, throwing
down the booty at the feet of his comrade.
It was a species of antelope, more generally known as the
â€œvaulting goat,â€™ which the traveller frequently meets with in
the regions of Southern Africa. It is a handsome-looking ani-
mal, and its flesh is considered one of the choicest delicacies.
The bushman and the astronomer, having fastened the buck
to a long pole, shouldered the latter, and departed from the
precipice overlooking the cataract. Ina half hour later they
had rejoined the two bushmen who had been placed in charge
of the wagons.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 15
URING the 28th, 29th, and 30th of January, Mokoum and
William Emery did not abandon the place of rendezvous.
While the bushman, carried away by his instincts of the hunter,
searched indiscriminately after game and deer, the astronomer
constantly surveyed the course of the river. The spectacle of
nature, grand and wild, delighted him, and filled his soul with
new emotions. He, a man of mere cipher, bent incessantly
upon his catalogues, night and day, devoted to his instruments,
watching the passage of the stars, and calculating the occulta-
tions of the planets, relished this free existence in open air,
surrounded by impenetrable forests, and girded by the desert
summits which the spray of the Morgheda forever covered with a
dense moisture. It was a joy for him to fathom the poesy of
these vast solitudes, so little known to man, and to refresh his
mind, wearied with mathematical speculations. The novelty
of the situation thus explained his unalterable patience which
the bushman was unable to share.
16 ADVENTURES IN THE
The 31st of January arrived, â€” the last day fixed by the letter
of Mr. Airy. If the learned men who had been announced
should not appear on this day, William Emery would be under
the necessity of leaving the cataract. This thought perplexed
â€œMr, Emery,â€ said the chasseur, â€œwhy shall we not go to
meet the strangers? We shall surely not miss them on the route.
There is but one way, and that along the river: if they ap-
proach by that way, as your letter states they will, we shall fall
in with them.â€ ;
â€œA most excellent idea that,â€ replied the astronomer. â€œ But,
do you know the true course of the Orange?â€
â€œYes, sir,â€ responded Mokoum; â€œI have journeyed twice
from the Volpas Cape to its juncture with the Hart on the fron-
tier of the Transvaal republic.â€
â€œAnd is the river navigable except at the falls of Mor-
â€œTt is, sir,â€ replied the bushman. â€œ Sometimes, at the close
of the dry season, the Orange is quite shallow up to within five
or six miles from its mouth. It then forms a bar against which
the surge from the west dashes with great violence.â€
â€œThat is of no consequence,â€ said the astronomer, â€œsince at
the season when the Europeans are likely to arrive the river
is navigable. There exists, therefore, no reason why they should
be delayed; therefore they will be on time.â€
The bushman made no reply. He placed his carbine over
his shoulder, summoned his dog, and preceded his comrade
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 17
into the direct path, which rejoined, four hundred feet below,
the waters of the cataract.
It was now nine oâ€™clock in the morning. The two explorers
descended the course of the river, along its left bank. Having
advanced some distance, they came to a place from whence they
could discern the river running in a straight line for a distance
of two or three miles. The channel of the river lay between
two embankments of about two hundred feet in height.
â€œLet us halt here,â€ said the astronomer, â€œand take a rest. I
have not your strong limbs, Mokoum, and I walk more in the
heavens than on the earth. Let us rest here. From this point
we can see two or three milesâ€™ length of water; and when the
mist shall have cleared away we shall discern even farther.â€
The bushman and his companion had not halted more than
half an hour, when William Emery saw that Mokoum, stationed
a few feet below him, had fixed his eye attentively on some ob-
ject. Was it a boat that had met his eye?
The astronomer approached the chasseur.
â€œWhat do you see, Mokoum?â€ asked the former.
â€œNothing; I see nothing, Mr. Emery,â€ replied the bushman;
â€œbu', if I am familiar with natural effects, it seems to me as if
the distant waters of the river are not so calm as usual.â€
Both men maintained perfect silence, and kept their ears open.
At length Mokoum said: â€”
â€œTI was deceived; itâ€™s only the winds sweeping across the
river.â€ Mokoum, notwithstanding this acknowledgment, was
not quite satisfied.
18 ADVENTURES IN THE
He descended still lower, and placed his ear to the waters.
â€œVes!â€ cried he, after some seconds, â€œI was not deceived!
Thereâ€™s a sound of oars splashing the current!â€
â€œProbably,â€ replied the astronomer, â€œthose whom we are
awaiting are not far off.â€
William Emery half doubted the assertion of his companion,
but said nothing.
thought that he beheld a boat coming towards him; but in this
he was deceived. At length the loud cry of the bushman re-
newed his expectation.
â€œA smoke!â€ shouted Mokoum.
William Emery looked, and had not the least doubt of it.
The steamer was slowly approaching, and marking its way by
a dense volume of smoke.
It was noon. The place where the two adventurers stood
being unfavorable for a debarkation, the astronomer resolved to,
retrace his steps to the foot of the cataract. Having reached
their destination on high ground, their eyes were feasted by the ~
sight of the British flag waving above the transport.
Having advanced within sight of the Morgheda, the men on
board the craft signalled their appearance by a loud report.
The chasseur responded by firing his carbine, of which the deto-
nation was repeated in a thousand echoes.
At length the steamer reached the landing.. A line was
thrown off, which was seized by Mokoum and attached to the
stump of a tree.
Soon a tall man made his appearance on the bank, and ad-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 19g
vanced towards the astronomer. His companions, likewise,
â€œColonel Everest?â€ asked the astronomer.
â€œMr. William Emery?â€ replied the Colonel.
The two gentlemen, after these salutations, indulged a hearty
â€œ shaking of the hands.
â€œGentlemen,â€ continued Colonel Everest, â€œallow me to in-
troduce to you William Emery, of the Cape Town Observatory,
who has been so kind as to meet us at the falls of the Mor-
The party of the Colonel numbered four in all, besides him-
self; and each in turn paid his respects to the young astrono-
mer. Then the Colonel presented them in the following
official manner : â€”
â€œMr. Emery, Sir John Murray, of Devonshire, your compa-
jot; Mr. Matthew Strux, of the Poulkowa Observatory; Mr.
cholas Palander, of the Helsinfors Observatory; and Mr.
Michacl Zorn, of the Observatory of Kiew,â€”three Russian
scientists, who are to represent the government of the Czar in
our International Commission,
20 ADVENTURES IN THE ~
HESE congratulations being ended, William Emery placed
himself at the service of the new-comers. In his position
of mere astronomer at the Observatory of the Cape, he found
himself hierarchally the subordinate of Colonel Everest, who was
delegated by the English government to share with Matthew
Strux the Presidency of the Scientific Commission. Matthew
Strux, aged about fifty years, a man chilling and methodical in
his manner, had an existence mathematically determined hour
by hour. Nothing escaped his watchful eye. His exactitude
in all things was not surpassed by that of the stars in crossing
the meridian. It might almost be said that all the actions of
his life were regulated to the chronometer. William Emery
knew as much; and hence he had never doubted that the
Scientific Commission would arrive at the appointed day.
The young astronomer waited for the Colonel to explain the
main purpose of his mission into Southern Africa. But the
Cr'+~el was silent on this point; and Mr. Emery hesitated to
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. i 21
put the question to him, thinking that perhaps the Colonel was
not quite ready to discuss the subject. William also knew by
reputation Sir John Murray, the competitor of James Ross and
of Lord Elgin, who, without an official title, reflected honor upon
England by his astronomical labors. Twenty thousand pounds
sterling had been consecrated by him to the establishment of a
gigantic telescope, a rival of the telescope at Parson â€˜Town, by
means of which the elements of a certain number of doubtful
stars had been determined. He was a man of some forty years
or more, dignified in his appearance, and of most scholarly
mind and unsullied character.
As regards the three Russians, Messrs. Strux, Palander, and
Zorn, they were not wholly unknown by reputation to William
Emery. But the young astronomer was not acquainted with
Of the Scientific party, there were thus three Englishmen and
three Russians. The name of the transport-boat was the
Queen and Czar; and the crew, ten in all, was equally divided
into English and Russians.
â€œMr. Emery,â€ remarked Colonel Everest, â€œnow that our mut-
ual congratulations are over with, I wish to tell you why it is
that we have come all the way from London to Cape Volpas.
For you I cherish the highest respect; and it was at my request
that the English government appointed you as cooperator
in our African journeys.â€
William Emery bowed low in token of his gratitude, and flat-
tered himself that now he was to learn the purpose of the Scien-
22 ADVENTURES IN THE
tific Commission. But the Colonel was not yet prepared to di-
â€œMr. Emery,â€ said the latter, â€œhave you concluded your
â€œWholly, Colonel,â€ replied the astronomer. â€œIn accordance
with the expressed wishes of the letter of Mr. Airy, I left Cape
Town a month ago, and betook myself to the Lattakou sta-
tion. There I brought together everything necessary to an
exploration into the interior of Africa,â€”including wagons
and provisions, horses and bushmen. An escort of a hundred
armed men will accompany you to Lattakou, under the com-
mand of a valiant and celebrated chasseur, whom allow me to
present to you, â€” the bushman Mokoum.â€
â€œThe bushman Mokoum!â€ cried Colonel Everest; â€œthe bush-
man Mokoum! I have heard of him.â€
â€œTt is the name of an able and intrepid African,â€ remarked
Sir John Murray, turning toward the chasseur, â€œwhom these Euro-
peans, with their immense dignity, will not look out of counte-
â€œ The chasseur Mokoum,â€ said William Emery, presenting his
â€œYour name is well known in the United Kingdom, bush-
man,â€ remarked Colonel Everest. â€œYou were the friend of An-
dersen, and the guide of the illustrious David Livingstone, who
honored me by his friendship. England, through me, expresses
her gratitude to you; and I congratulate Mr. Emery with hav-
ing secured you as leader of our caravan. A chasseur such as
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 23
you ought to be a great lover of fine weapons. We have with
us a thoroughly equipped arsenal, and I pray you to choose
therefrom the weapon which shall please you most. We feel
assured that it will be carried by worthy hands.â€
A smile of satisfaction played around the lips of the bush-
man. The reference which had been made to his former ser-
vices did not interest him half so much as the kind offer of Col-
onel Everest, for which he â€˜expressed a most solemn gratitude.
The young astronomer reiterated the details of the expedi-
tion organized by himself, and the Colonel declared himself per-
fectly satisfied. The latter then spoke of departing to the vil-
lage of Lattakou.
â€œBy what route do you wish to approach the village, Col-
onel?â€ inquired William Emery. |
â€œBy the river Orange, and one of its tributaries, the Kuru-
man, which flows by Lattakou.â€
After further deliberation, Colonel Everest divulged his or-
ders. The Queen and Czar was partially taken to pieces; and
its machinery having been lifted out, was placed upon the bank
of the river.
William Emery was much astounded at the simplicity of the
work, and the rapidity with which the debarkation was accom-
plished. Soon the wagon arrived, a somewhat primitive vehicle,
resting on four massive wheels, and forming, as it were, two
distinct carriages, separated one from the other by an interval of
about twenty feet. It was a veritable American â€œCarâ€ in re-
spect to its length.
A certain Moulibahan.â€” Page 29.
24 . ADVENTURES IN THE
The'crew of the Queen and Czar busied themselves with load-
ing up the wagon, and in such a manner as to insure an equi-
librium. They worked like old sailors. The stowage of the
vehicle was a slight task for them. The larger pieces of the
boat and its machinery rested evenly on the axle-trees, the
strongest part of the wagon. Between them, the cases, boxes,
barrels, and both light and heavy packages, found suitable
places. So far as the explorers were concerned, a tramp of four
miles was nothing but a promenade.
At three oâ€™clock in the afternoon, the stowage having been
â€œcompleted Colonel Everest gave the signal for the departure.
Both he and his companions, under the guidance of William
Emery, took the lead. The bushman, the boatâ€™s crew, and the
men in charge of the wagon, followed slowly after them.
The journey was performed without any fatigue. The slopes,
which were numerous around the upper course of the Orange,
facilitated the advance considerably. This was a fortunate cir-
cumstance for the heavily ladened wagon.
The various members of: the Scientific Commission climbed
the hills without the slightest difficulty. Their conversation was
general; but nothing was said with reference to the purpose of
the expedition. The Europeans very much admired the grand
sights around them. - Savage nature charmed them, as it had
previously charmed the young astronomer. The journey had
not yet opened upon the natural beauties of the African region,
and they wondered only with a silent wonder.
William Emery believed that it devolved upon him to do the
** The bushman Mokoum.â€â€” Page 22.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 25
honors of the host. He was perfectly at home in this respect,
and did not spare his guests a description of his African park.
About half past four the falls of Morgheda were passed.
The Europeans, having reached the plateau, saw the upper
â€œcurrent of the river winding slowly along as far as the eye
could reach. They rested on the bank, and awaited the arrival
of the wagon.
The vehicle hove in sight at about five oâ€™clock. Its journey
was happily accomplished; and the Colonel, gratified by the
same, announced that the march into the interior would begin
on the following morning.
The next day â€”it being February 1stâ€”the boat was put to-
gether and again launched; the signal for departure was given.
The small engine began to exert its motive power, the smoke
curled in dense masses from out the pipe, the paddle-wheels
revolved, and ere many moments had elapsed the Queen and
Czar had fairly marked out its onward course. Both passengers
and marines had embarked; leaving to the bushmen the care
and duty of urging on the wagon and its laden stores.
When the start was made, the Colonel remarked to the
astronomer : â€”
â€œBy the way, Mr. Emery, you know, of course, the reason
why we have come hither?â€
â€œT have my doubts.â€
â€œTt is very easily explained, Mr. Emery,â€ replied Colonel
Everest. â€œWe have come to measure an arc of meridian in
26 . ADVENTURES IN THE
A HOTTENTOT VILLAGE.
HE voyage upon the upper course of the river was being
rapidly accomplished. The weather, however, grew
cloudy, and torrents of rain began to fall; but the passengers,
comfortably installed in the cabin of the boat, did not suffer the
least inconvenience. The Queen and Czar threaded its way
along, opposed by neither rapids nor shallows.
The banks of the Orange continued to offer the same en-
chanting aspect. Magnificent forests loomed up on all sides,
and birds of variegated plumage rendered the air musical.
The bushman remarked these several beauties to Sir John
Murray, a great lover of game of all sorts. Thus a sort of inti-
â€œmacy sprang up between the latter and Mokoum, to whom, in
accordance with the promise of Colonel Everest, he had pre-
sented a most excellent rifle, of the Pauly manufacture. It is
needless to picture the satisfaction of the bushman at seeing
himself thus possessed of so magnificent a weapon,
In four days the boat had accomplished the two hundred
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 27
and forty miles which separate the falls of Morgheda from the
Kuruman, one of the tributaries which unites with the Oraage
near the village of Lattakou. From this point the river winds
off to the northwest three hundred miles distant, and loses itself
in the wooded district of the Transvaal republic.
" It was on the 5th of February, during the early hours of the
evening, and while the storm was still raging, that the Queen
and Czar reached the station of Klaarwater, a Hottentot vil-
lage, near which the Kuruman joins the Orange. Colonel Ever-
est, not wishing to lose a moment, passed by the village, and
entered the waters of the new tributary.
Amid this passage the bushman called the attention of his
companions to a large herd of hippopotamuses. These huge
monsters, termed by the Hollanders â€œmarine cows,â€ did not
manifest the least aggressive movement; but were readily fright-
ened away by the puffing of the engine. Sir John Murray
would willingly have levelled his rifle at the herd; but the bush-
man assured him that large numbers of these animals would be
met with at the end of the route, and thereby induced him to
withhold his powder and ball.
The one hundred and fifty miles which separated the mouth
of the Kuruman from the station of Lattakou, were passed over
in about fifty hours. On the 7th of February, at three oâ€™clock
in the afternoon, the point of destination was reached.
When the boat had reached the quay, a man of about fifty
years of age, with a grave demeanor, but with a good-natured
countenance, came aboard, and held out his hand to William
28 ADVENTURES IN THE
Emery. The astronomer presented the new-comer to his com-
panions, saying :â€”
â€œThe Reverend Thomas Dale, of the London Missionary
Society, and director of the station of Lattakou.â€
The Europeans saluted the Rev. Thomas Dale, who, in turn,
acknowledged the compliment, and placed himself at their ser-
The village of Lattakou is the farthest missionary station of
the Cape toward the north. It is divided into old and new Lat-
takou. The more ancient portion, near which the Qucen and
Czar had come to anchor, counted, at the beginning of the cen-
tury, twelve thousand inhabitants, who have since migrated to
the northwest. The spot is nowâ€™a confusion of ruins, in the
midst of which the acacia blooms in rare profusion.
The new Lattakou, to which the Europeans wended their
way, under the guidance of the clergyman, comprises about
forty groups of houses, and about five or six thousand inhabi-
tants, all belonging to the great tribe of the Bechuanas.
It was in this city that Doctor David Livingstone sojourned
for three months, in 1840, before initiating his first journey to the
Zambese; a journey which brought the famous explorer across
Central Africa, from the bay of Loanda at Congo, as far as the
harbor of Kilmane upon the coast of Mozambique.
Having arrived at the new Lattakou, Colonel Everest handed
to the missionary a letter of Doctor Livingstone, which recom-
mended the Anglo-Russian Commission to his friends of South-
ern Africa. Thomas Dale read this letter with the deepest sat-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 29
isfaction, and, returning it to the Colonel, remarked that it
might prove of service on the voyage of exploration, the name
of David Livingstone being both known and honored in this en-
tire part of Africa. ;
The members of the Commission were lodged at the house of
the missionary; and while they were there comfortably quar-
tered, the chief of the native tribe, residing at Lattakou, a cer-
tain Moulibahan, came to pay his respects. Moulibahan, a
sufficiently handsome man, having only a very slight resem-
blance to the negro race, was clad in a robe of skin sewed to-
gether with much taste and judgment, and a sort of apron,
termed â€œpukoje.â€ His head was surmounted by a leathern
cap, and he wore sandals upon his feet. Around his arms cir-
cled bracelets of ivory, and singularly shaped pendants of cop-
per hung down from his ears. His baton supported a tuft of
black ostrich feathers. As regarded the color of his skin, it
could hardly be distinguished beneath the thick glaze of ochre,
with which it was besmeared from head to foot.
Several incisions in the thighs, barely visible, indicated the
number of enemies slain by Moulibahan.
This chief, whose gravity was not surpassed by that of Mat-
thew Strux himself, approached the Europeans severally, and
took hold of them by the nose. The Russians were slightly dis-
mayed by this singular conduct; but the English withheld any
appearance of fear. They soon learned that this grasping of the
nose was, according to African manners, a solemn engagement
to fulfil towards the Englishmen all the duties of hospitality.
30 ADVENTURES IN THE
This ceremony being over with, Moulibahan retired, without
having uttered so much as even a word.
â€œAnd now, seeing that we are all naturalized Bechuanas,â€
remarked Colonel Everest, â€œlet us busy ourselves with our
occupations, without losing either a day or an hour.â€
Neither a day nor an hour was lost, â€” notwithstanding that the
organization of such an expedition required much care and
many details, â€” and the band was ready to start before the first
days of March.
At this time the season of rains was ended, and the waters
treasured in the bosom of the earth furnished an unending and
precious resource to the travellers of the desert.
The date of departure was fixed for the 2d of March. On
this day the whole caravan, abiding the orders of Mokoum, was
on hand. The Europeans bade farewell to the missionaries of
Lattakou, and left the village at seven oâ€™clock in the morning.
â€œWhere are we going to?â€ asked William Emery, just as the
caravan had passed the last house of the village.
â€œStraight ahead, Mr. Emery,â€ replied the Colonel, â€œuntil we
shall have arrived at some location fitted for the base of our
â€˜At eight oâ€™clock the caravan had skirted the wooded hills
which nestled in the village of Lattakou. There the desert,
with its attendant dangers, fatigues, and risks, unfolded itself
before the travellers.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 3r
HE escort, commanded by the bushman, numbered one
hundred men. These were all native Boschjesmen, in-
dustrious, patient, good-natured, and capable of supporting the
greatest physical burdens.
Ten wagons, like those which the bushmen had brought to the
falls of Morgheda, comprised the rolling stock of the expedi-
tion. â€˜Two of these wagons were, indeed, ambulant houses, and
afforded a certain comfort, and answered all the purposes of an
encampment for the Europeans. One of these wagons was re-
served for the entire use of Colonel Everest and his two compa-
triots, Sir John Murray and William Emery. The other was oc-
cupied by the three Russians. Two other vehicles built upon a
similar model, belonged, the one to the five Englishmen and
the other to the five Russians, who composed the equipage of
the Queen and Czar.
The other wagons were used for the transportation of the in-
struments, of the provisions, the packages of the explorers, their
weapons, ammunition, and other necessaries. Both oxen and
horses accompanied the expedition, â€” the former indigenous to
the Cape, the latter belonging to the Spanish breed.
32 ADVENTURES IN THE
Meanwhile, the expedition was slowly advancing. Now and
then the bushman remarked to Sir John Murray a magnificent
animal, which did not fail to excite his highest admiration. It
was a zebra, the color of whose hair, streaked with brown trans-
versal stripes, was of incomparable beauty. This zebra meas-
ured four feet to the withers, and seven feet from the mouth to
the tail. Defiant and suspicious by nature, it would recognize
no other master save Mokoum, who, in truth, had reserved it
for his own especial use.
But whither was the expedition going?
â€œ Straight ahead,â€ had been the response of Colonel Everest.
In reality, the Colonel and Matthew Strux had not as yet
fixed upon any stated direction. Before commencing their trigo-
nometric operations, they were in search of a vast level plain,
where might be established the base of the first of the triangles,
of which the net-work should cover the southern region of
Africa over an extent of many degrees.
Colonel Everest explained to the bushman the substance of his
future operations. With the accuracy of a savant to whom
scientific language is wholly familiar, the Colonel spoke of tri-
angles, adjacent angles, base, length of meridian, vertical dis-
tances, etc. The bushman listened attentively for some mo-
ments; then, interrupting him in a moment of impatience, he
â€œColonel, I know nothing of your angles, your bases, your
meridians. I havenâ€™t the slightest idea of what you are going
to do in the African desert. But, after all, thatâ€™s your business,
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 33
not mine. What do you want to find?â€”a beautiful and vast
plain, level and very regular? Well, we will show you that.â€
And, in accordance with the order of Mokoum, the caravan,
which had just passed the hills around Lattakou, took a south-
westerly turn. This direction would bring it a little to the south
of the village, â€” that is to say, towards that region of the plains
watered by the Kuruman. The bushman hoped to find at the
level of this tributary a tract of country sufficiently favorable to
the projects of the Colonel.
During the journey William Emery and Michael Zorn were
on the best of terms, and often indulged a quiet chat together.
Upon one occasion the conversation hinged upon the leaders of
â€œYes,â€ said Michael Zorn, in response to a remark of his
friend, â€œI have quite frequently noticed, during our passage
aboard the Augusta, â€” and it pains me to acknowledge it, â€” that
the Colonel and his coadjutor were exceedingly jealous of each
other. If Colonel Everest appears to be the commander of our
expedition, my dear William, Matthew Strux is by no means his
equal. The Russian government clearly defined the latterâ€™s
position. Both of our leaders are endowed with equal powers;
but, alas! a jealousy has sprung up between them,â€” and that,
too, of the very worst kind.â€
â€œThere is certainly no reason for such conduct,â€ replied
William Emery, â€œsince each of the parties holds high rank as
a discoverer, and each of us is to derive profit from the com-
mon efforts. But, if your remarks are just,â€”and I really be-
34 ADVENTURES IN THE
lieve that they are, my dear Zorn, â€”the existence of this jealousy
is very unfavorable to our expedition. In order to insure the
success of our endeavors, the strongest harmony is desirable.â€
â€œThat is beyond all doubt,â€ replied Michael Zorn; â€œand J am
of the opinion that this harmony does not exist. Just think of
our confusion, if every detail of operation, the choice of the
base, the method of calculation, the locating of the stations, the
verification of the ciphers, are always to give rise to an endless
â€œYou surprise me, my dear Zorn!â€ replied William Emery.
â€œTt would, indeed, be sad if, after having journeyed so far, the
members of this Commission should be separated by discord.
God grant that your fears are groundless!â€
â€œT hope as much, William,â€ said the Russian astronomer;
â€œput I say to you again, that, during our voyage, I listened to
certain discussions of scientific-methods, which proved that
there was a sure and indisputable stubbornness characteristic of
both the Colonel and his rival, and that it was fast leading to a
most miserable jealousy.â€
â€œ And yet,â€ said Mr. Emery, â€œthese two gentlemen appear to
be inseparable; â€” even more so than we!â€
â€œYes; they are inseparable so long as the day lasts, but they
do not exchange ten words. If they should separate, woe be
â€œAnd in that event,â€ asked William Emery, with a marked
hesitation, â€œwhich of the two would you stand by?â€
â€œMy dear William,â€ said Michael Zorn, â€œ1 should loyally
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 35
accept him whom I considered most worthy of my support.
In this scientific expedition, I have neither prejudice nor
patriotism. Matthew Strux and Colonel Everest are both
remarkable men, and both are valuable. England and Russia
ought equally to profit by their labors; and it is of small conse-
quence whether these labors be directed by an Englishman or
a Russian. Isnâ€™t that your opinion?â€
â€œ Absolutely, my dear Zorn,â€ replied William Emery. â€œLet
us not, however, give ourselves wholly up to despair, but rather
endeavor to ward off the impending crisis. Your compatriot,
â€œHe!â€ interposed Zorn; â€œhe sees nothing, hears nothing,
knows nothing. He is neither Russian, English, Prussian, nor
Chinese. He is not even an inhabitant of the sublunary globe.
He is Nicholas Palander, â€” that is all.â€
â€œT shall not speak of my compatriot, Sir John Murray,â€ re-
plied William Emery. â€œHis Honor is a thorough-bred English
gentleman, but he is also a determined huntsman, and would
count more on the tracks of a giraffe or of an elephant, than on
a discussion of scientific methods. Let us rely, then, upon our
own efforts, my dear Zorn, to bring about a reconciliation of the
hearts of our two chieftains. It is hardly necessary for me to
add, that if a crisis shall have come, you and I will remain
â€œTf it does come, â€” always!â€
Meanwhile the caravan, guided by the bushman, was continu-
ing its descent towards the regions of the Southwest. On the
36 ADVENTURES IN THE
4th of March, at noon, it reached the base of those long
wooded hills, which had been in sight since the explorers had
On the 5th, the journey was still being pursued. No incident
would have occurred to break in upon the monotony, if Sir
John Murray had not shot, at a distance of two hundred feet, a
most singular animal, whose nose was like that of an ox, whose
tail was both long and white, and whose forehead was armed
with sharp-pointed horns. It was a gnu, whose fall was accom-
panied by a most horrible groan.
Toward mid-day the caravan arrived at a vast prairie, as
smooth throughout its whole reach as the surface of the sea.
It was favorable as a basis of operations. Hence, the bush-
man, having examined it well, turned toward the Colonel, and
said to him: â€”
â€œColonel, the plain you asked for!â€
â€” Page 38.
The geodetical labors we
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 37
al geodetical labor which the Commission had under
taken to complete, was, as has already been said, one of
triangulation, having for its object the measure of an arc of
meridian. Now, the measurement of one or more degrees, di-
rectly, by means of metallic rules placed end to end, would be a
task absolutely impracticable, in view of mathematical exacti-
tude. No piece of ground, in any part of the globe, could be
sufficiently united upon a space of many hundreds of leagues,
so as to insure the execution of an operation so extremely deli-
cate. Very happily, however, a most satisfactory method can
be brought into use, by dividing the ground which the line of
meridian is supposed to traverse into a certain number of
â€œaerialâ€ triangles, the determination of which is less difficult.
These triangles are obtained by means of very precise instru-
ments, â€”the theodolite, and some natural or artificial signals,
such as bells, light-houses, reflectors, stakes, etc. At each signal
a triangle comes out, whose angles are given by the aforemen-
tioned instruments with a mathematical exactitude. Indeed,
38 ADVENTURES IN THE
any object whateverâ€”a bell, the day, a reflector, the nightâ€”
can be remarked with perfect accuracy by a capable observer,
who discerns them by means of a telescope, the object-glass of
which is half obscured by a threaded net. In this manner tri-
angles are obtained whose sides measure, oftentimes, many
miles in length. Thus it was that Arago succeeded in joining
the coast of Valencia, in Spain, to the Balearic Isles by an im-
mense triangle, of which one side measured eighty-two thousand
five hundred and fifty-five fathoms in length.*
It was during the journey of the 5th of March that the first
geodetical labors were commenced, to the great astonishment
of the Boschjesmen, who were utterly unable to comprehend the
purpose of the same. To measure the earth with rules six feet
in length, placed end to end, appeared to the chasseur a mere
amusement for the Jearned men. In every case Mokoum had
performed his duty. He had been asked to furnish them a
well-united plain, and had done so to the entire satisfaction of
The place which had been chosen was admirably adapted for
the direct measurement of a base. The plain, clothed in liv-
ing green, extended in one unbroken surface as far as the hori-
zon. Inthe background undulated a line of hills which mark
the extreme limit south of the desert of Kalahari. To the
north, the infinite. In the east vanished in gentle declivities
those heights which marked the plateau of Lattakou. In the
west, the plain was one broad marsh-land, which imbibed the
* Or about one hundred and twenty-five English miles,
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 39
stagnant waters which the tributaries of the Kuruman had failed
â€œT think, Colonel Everest,â€ said Matthew Strux, after he had
reconnoitered this level plain, â€” â€œI think that when once our
base shall have been fixed, we shall then be able to establish
the terminal point of the meridian.â€
â€œT shall think as you do,â€ replied Colonel Everest, â€œ after
we shall have determined the exact longitude of this point.
It is necessary in the first place to find out by a consultation of
the map, whether or not this arc of meridian does not meet
with any obstacles in its course which may interrupt our geodet-
â€œT do not think so,â€ responded the Russian astronomer.
* Let us see about it,â€ said the English astronomer. â€œLet us
measure the base in this place, inasnruch as this is the primal
operation, and we can then decide as to whether it will be possi-
ble to frame a series of auxiliary triangles to the net-work of
triangles which traverse the arc of meridian.â€
The Scientific Commission now resolved to proceed, without
further delay, to the measurement of the base. The task was
necessarily a long and tedious one, because the several gentle.
men wished to accomplish it with a most rigorous exactitude.
The orders for the encampment were then given, and a sort
of Boschjesman village, a species of â€œkraal,â€ was improvised
on the plain. The wagons were arranged like veritable houses,
and the small borough was divided into English and Russian
quarters, over which floated respectively the national colors.
40 ADVENTURES IN THE
On the outside of the circular line of wagons were pastured the
horses and cattle, under the surveillance of their keepers. Dur-
ing the night they were all brought into the circle, beyond the
reach of the smaller wild animals which are so abundant in
It was Mokoum who took upon himself the organization of
the hunting-corps, on which devolved the duty of procuring the
live game for the Commission.
Sir John Murray, whose presence was not indispensable to
the proper measurement of the base, united himself to this
corps; and to him belonged the sole management of the commis-
On the 6th of March the geodetical operations were begun.
The two younger members of the Commission were charged
with all preliminary proceÃ©dings.
â€œ At once to the work,â€ exclaimed Michael Zorn, joyously, to
William Emery; â€œand may God lend precision to our undertak-
The first operation consisted in tracing upon the most even
and smooth portion of the plain a rectilinear direction. The
position of the sun gave to this spot the oxcultation of the
southeast to the northwest. Its rectilinearism was obtained by
means of wooden pegs driven into the earth at a short distance
from each other. Michael Zorn, fortified with a netted tele-
scope, verified the location of these stakes, whilst the vertical
line divided all their focal images into equal parts.
It would prove of no especial interest to the reader, to detail
A Fortin theodolite.â€” Page 41.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 41
in consecutive order the several operations which had to be
gone through with before attaining the desired results. Suffice
it to say that the work progressed both slowly and surely, and
to the entire satisfaction of all concerned.
The series of operations continued on during thirty-eight
days. All figures were Kept in double entry, being verified, col-
lated, and approved by every member of the Commission.
Only a very few discussions arose between Colonel Everest
and his Russian colleague. Whenever a disagreement did hap-
pen to occur, it was always considered and decided upon by
The measurement of the base, as has already been said, re-
quired no less than thirty-eight days. Begun on the 6th of
March, it was not concluded till April 13th. Without losing a
single moment, the leader of the expedition resolved to hasten
the series of triangles.
On the 14th, the most precise observations were made in view
of determining the latitude of the place. Already, during the
preceding nights, whilst the operation of the base was sus-
pended, William Emery and Michael Zorn had obtained numer-
ous elevations of stars by means of a Fortin theodolite.
From these observations, so carefully repeated, it was possible
to deduce, with more than ordinary approximation, the latitude
of the southern extremity of the arc. This latitude was, in
decimal degrees, 27.95 4789.
The latitude having thus been determined, the longitude wag
next calculated. By consultation of a large map of the African
42 ADVENTURES IN THE
continent, on which were marked out the several routes of the
voyagers or naturalists, such as Livingstone, Andersen, Mag:
gar, Baldwin, Vaillant, Burchell, and Lichteinstin, the follow-
ing points of useful information were laid bare. k
That portion of Africa to which the expedition was soon to
wend its way was, indeed, covered by the desert of Kalahari,
a vast wilderness which extends from the banks of the river
Orange to Lake Ngami, or between the twenty and twenty-
ninth parallels of latitude. Its broadest width is that com-
prised between the Atlantic on the west and the twenty-fifth me-
ridian east longitude. It was on this meridian that Doctor
Livingstone found himself in 1849, whilst following out the
eastern limit of the desert, when he started on his journey to
Lake Ngami and to the falls of Zambese. As regards the
desert itself, it can barely be said to merit the designation.
The Kalahari produces a large vegetable growth, and is peopled
by a few sedentary tribes of bushmen and of Bakalaharis. In
the greater part of the year, however, water is rarely to be
found in this vast wilderness; and this is one of the obstacles
which renders any extended exploration hardly possible.
Inasmuch as it was now the wet season of the year, Colonel
Everest and Matthew Strux were both agreed that this vast and
desert waste presented every condition favorable to a successful
The new labors commenced as soon as possible, and pro-
gressed with equal rapidity, after the astronomer had chosen
station at which might be formed the apex of the first triangle.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH, 43
The work began on the 14th of April. Colonel Everest,
Michael Zorn, and Nicholas Palander calculated the angle
which the southeasterly extremity of the base formed with a
large, isolated tree, which had been selected as the first station;
while Matthew Strux, William Emery, and Sir John Murray, be-
taking themselves to the northwestern extremity, measured the
angle which that extremity formed with the same tree.
Meanwhile, the camp had been broken up, the cattle herded,
and the caravan, under the command of the bushman, was ap-
proaching the first station before mentioned. This was to serve
as a new halting-place. Two camels and their conductors, in
use for the transportation of the instrument, accompanied the
The weather was delightful, and the temperature was not
burdened with extreme heat. It had been decided that, should
the weather continue to hold good, the work should proceed
during the night, and observations should be made by means of
reflectors or of electric lamps, with which the Commission was
At the approach of evening, all the astronomers were gath-
ered together around the isolated tree.
It was an enormous baobab, measuring more than â€˜eighty
feet in circumference. Its bark, of the color of syenite, gave
to it a peculiar aspect. Beneath the immense branches of this
giant, the entire caravan found a resting-place, and supper was
prepared for the Europeans by the steward of the boat. The
chasseurs of the band had scoured the neighboring country, and
44 ADVENTURES IN THE
succeeded in slaying a certain number of antelopes. Soon the
odor of the roasting game had diffused itself, and whetted the
appetites of the scientific observers.
This repast being over, the astronomers retired to their spe-
cial quarters, whilst Mokoum stationed his sentinels along the
line of the encampment. Large fires were kindled around the
giant baobab, which served to hold at respectful distance the
numberless wild beasts which might otherwise have been
tempted to enact some fatal mischief.
However, after two hours of sleep, Michael Zorn and William
Emery arose. Their work as observers was not completed.
They wished to calculate the latitude of that station by first
ascertaining the elevation of certain of the stars. Both, un-
mindful of the fatigues of the previous day, armed themselves
with their telescopes; and whilst the barking of the \yeaas and
the roaring of the lions were distinctly audible and thew,
they again took up the united burden of their task
â€œLarge fires were kindled.â€ Page 44.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 45
URING this first series of operations, Colonel Everest
and Matthew Strux were rarely associated together.
They worked daily in stations separated from each other by
many miles; and this wide interval was a safe guarantee against
any dispute of jealousy. Evening having come on, each of the
gentlemen would retire to his own encampment, and there busy
himself with his own occupations. Some discussions, it is true,
arose relative to the choice of stations, which had to be decided
by common consent; but in no case did they cause any serious
altercations. Michael Zorn and his friend William, therefore,
took courage, and hoped â€” thanks to the separation of the two
tivals â€” that the geodetical operations might be continued with-
out any lamentable occurrence.
On the 15th of May the observers found that they were lo-
cated on the parallel of Lattakou. The African village was sit-
uated just thirty-five miles east of this station.
A large kraal had been recently established in this place.
46 ADVENTURES IN THE
It was, indeed, a natural halting-place; and, in obedience to the
proposition of Sir John Murray, it was decided that the expedi-
tion should tarry here several days. Michael Zorn and William
limery profited by this delay to take the elevation of the sun.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Palander busied his mind with mathemat-
ical deductions; and Sir John Murray, wearied of such tasks,
went off to study the beauties of nature.
The indigenes of Southern Africa term a moving village a
kraal. It is an enclosure comprising about thirty houses,
and peopled by many hundreds of inhabitants. The kraal
reached by the Anglo-Russian expedition comprised an im-
portant agglomeration of huts, circularly located along the bank
of a small tributary of the Kuruman. These huts, constructed
of mats fastened to upright wooden beams, had the appearance
of large beehives, of which the entrance, closed by a skin,
was so low and narrow that the occupant was obliged to
crawl in upon his hands and knees.
Upon the arrival of the caravan, the kraal was alive with
people. The dogs, attached to the door-post of each hut,
began to bark with hideous fury. The warriors of the village,
armed with battle-axes, knives, and clubs, and protected by large
leathern shields, bravely came forward. Their number was
estimated at about two hundred; which plainly indicated the
importance of the kraal, which could not have contained less
than seventy or eighty huts. However, the warlike aspects
of this people were soon obliterated when the chasseur Mokoum
had spoken a few words to one of their chieftains. The car-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 47
avan secured permission to encamp near the palisades and
upon the banks of the same river. The Boschjesmen did not
even dispute with the expedition the right of pasturage; and
the horses, the cattle and other ruminating animals, were
enabled to find rich fodder, without being in any way driven off
In due time, in accordance with the orders and directions
of the bushman, the encampment was organized after the usual
manner. The wagons were grouped in the form of a circle,
and the occupants of each one minded their own business
without meddling with those of another.
Sir John Murray, leaving then his companions to their cal-
culations and scientific observations, departed, without delay,
in company with Mokoum. The English hunter was mounted
on his ordinary steed, and Mokoum rode his domesticated
zebra. Three dogs followed behind them. Sir John Murray
and Mokoum were armed each with a carbine, and were
in hopes of making use of the same in the slaughter of
The two hunters went off in the direction of the northeast,
toward a wooded region, situated several miles distant from
the kraal. On the way, they engaged in a busied conver-
â€œJ hope, Master Mokoum,â€ said Sir John Murray, â€œ that you
will remember the promise which you made to me at the falls
of Morgheda, and conduct me into a region richly abounding
in game. But understand that I have not come into Southern
48 ADVENTURES IN THE
Africa for the purpose of shooting hares or chasing foxes. We
have all these in our highlands of Scotland. Before one hour
I wish to have brought to earthâ€”â€
â€œBefore one hour!â€ replied the bushman. â€˜ Your Honor will
permit me to say that that is counting up a little too fast, and
that before all things, you must be patient. As for me, I am
patient only in the chase. Do you not know, Sir John, that
in chasing a large animal there is need of vast science, and
that you must first learn the lay of the country, the habits of
the animals, their modes of escape, and then wait for hours,
perhaps, before opening on the pursuit? You must not utter
aloud noise, nor make a false: step, nor allow your eyes to
wander carelessly. I myself have spent whole days in trying
to sight a buffalo or a gemsbok, and then, when after thirty-six
hours of strategem and patience I at length killed the beast,
I did not think that I had wasted my time.â€
â€œVery good, my friend,â€ replied Sir John Murray. â€œI
shall grant to your service as much patience as you demand;
but let us not forget that this halt of the expedition will last
only three or four days, and that therefore we must lose neither
an hour nor a minute.â€
â€œThat is a consideration,â€ said the bushman, in a calm tone
of voice; â€œthat is a consideration. We shall kill only what
comes in our way, Sir John; we can have no choice. Antelope
or deer, gnu or gazelle: anything will be good enough for
hunters so hard pressed!â€
â€œAntelope or gazelle!â€ exclaimed Sir John Murray. â€œI
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 49
Â«snot ask even so much forâ€™ my first exploit on African soil.
Ret what do you hope to offer me, my brave bushman?â€
The chasseur eyed his companion with a singular gaze; then
in a sarcastic tone of voice he said :â€”
â€œSo soon as your Honor shall have declared himself satisfied,
T shall have nothing more to say. J think that nothing short
of a rhinoceros or a pair of elephants would make me feel
satisfied with the chase.â€
â€œ Chasseur,â€ responded Sir John Murray, â€œI shall follow
wherever you guide me. I shall kill whatever you tell me
to kill, But let us not waste time in idle talk.â€
The spurs were put to the steeds, and the hunters galloped
off at rapid rate toward the forest.
The plain which they were traversing rose almost imper-
ceptibly toward the northeast, and was dotted here and there
by small forests, from which issued most delicious perfumes.
In less than an hour after leaving the kraal, Sir John Murray
and Mokoum arrived at the edge of one of these forests, dense
with innumerable trees and shrubs, through which not even
a sunâ€™s ray could penetrate. However, the zebra of Mokoum
and the horse of Sir John did not hesitate to work out a path
in the midst of this tangled mass.
It must be said here that this first journey was not favorable
to Sir John Murray. The two hunters wended their way
through the grove; but no bird of plumage crossed their
path, and only once was Sir John induced to discharge his
carbine. Perhaps the close vicinity of the kraal had con-
5Â° ADVENTURES IN THE
tributed toward ridding the forest of its game. Mokoum
manifested neither surprise nor mortification. For him this
chase was no chase at all, but a rash progress through an
almost impassable wood.
At six oâ€™clock in the evening it was necessary to return to
camp. Sir John Murray was quite vexed, without wishing
to acknowledge it. He flattered himself with being able to
shoot the first animal, bird or quadruped, which should come
within range of his rifle.
Fortune favored him in this. The two hunters had gone
within about three miles from the kraal, when a rodent, one of
that African species designated under the name of â€œlepus
rupestris,â€ â€”a hare, in other words, â€” darted out from under a
bush about one hundred and fifty feet from Sir John. Sir
John did not hesitate, but sent whizzing after the inoffensive
animal a swift ball from his carbine.
The bushman uttered a loud cry of indignation. But the
Englishman hurried on in search of his fallen game.
Utterly useless! Not a trace of the hare was visible. There
was a small pool of blood on the ground, but no carcass. Sir
John examined under the bushes and among the tufts of grass,
â€”in vain. Even the dogs could not scent out the victim.
â€œT surely hit it!â€ cried Sir John.
â€œYou hit it too much,â€ replied the bushman. â€œWhoever
strikes a hare with a cartridge will rarely find so much as
a piece of him afterwards.â€ .
And true it was; the hare had literally been reduced
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 51
to atoms. Sir John, absolutely discouraged, remounted his
horse, and, without saying a word, regained the encampment.
On the following day, the bushman waited for Sir John to
make some new propositions. But the latter, for some reason
or other, avoided meeting his friend. He appeared to be
forgetful of every sporting project, and to be busying him-
self with verifying the instruments and making observations.
Then, by way of change, he visited the kraal, where he
paused to look at the men engaged in all manner of
On the early morning of the 17th of May, Sir John
Murray was awakened out of sleep by the following words
pronounced in his ear: â€”
â€œJT think, your Honor, that we shall be more fortunate to-day.
But let us not fire at any more hares with mountain-cannon!â€
Sir John Murray was not angered by this ironical recom-
mendation, and declared himself ready for departure. The
two hunters had travelled several miles beyond the left of the
encampment before their companions had arisen from their
couches. This time Sir John carried a simple fowling-piece,
much more suitable than the terrible carbine for the slaughter
of light game.
Just as Mokoum had prophesied, fortune favored the two
hunters. They succeeded in killing a couple of â€œharrisbucks,â€
a species of black antelopes, very rare and very difficult to
bring down. These harrisbucks were handsome creatures,
about four feet high, and with large horns diverging and
52 ADVENTURES IN THE
curved in the form of a cimeter. Their muzzles were thin
and literally compressed, and their feet black; their hair was
soft and compact, their eyes straight and pointed. Their belly
and face, white as the driven snow, beautifully contrasted with
the sable fur on the back. By all travellers the harrisbuck is
deemed one of the most admirable specimens of African
But that which caused the heart of the English hunter to
palpitate with unwonted intensity, was the discovery of certain
foot-marks near the edge of a dense copse.
â€œSir,â€ said Mokoum to him, â€œif to-morrow your Honor
wishes to come to this place, I shall counsel him, this time, not
to forget his carbine.â€
â€œWhy, what do you mean, Mokoum?â€ asked Sir John
â€œThose fresh imprints which you see on the moist
â€œWhat! these large traces are footprints of animals? But
then, the feet which made them are more than half a fathom in
â€œThat only proves,â€ replied the bushman, â€œthat the animal
â€˜which formed such imprints measures at least nine feet from
the sole to the shoulders.â€
â€œAn elephant!â€ exclaimed Sir John Murray.
â€œYes, your Honor; and, if I am not mistaken, a full-grown
male one, too.â€
â€œTo-morrow, then, bushman.â€
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. ; 53
â€œTo-morrow, your Honor.â€
The two hunters returned to the encampment, bearing with
them the harrisbucks, which had been placed on the horse
of Sir John Murray. These beautiful. antelopes, so rarely
captured, provoked the admiration of the whole caravan.
Every one congratulated Sir John, except perhaps the grave
Matthew Strux, who, so far as animals were concerned, de-
lighted in none save the Great Bear, the Dragon, the Centaur,
Pegasus, and other constellations of the celestial fauna.
The next day, at four oâ€™clock in the morning, the two com-
panions mounted on their steeds, and, accompanied by their
dogs, awaited near a wooded copse the arrival of the mammoth
Froop. From the new imprints they learned that the elephants
came, in bands, to quench their thirst in a neighboring pond
of water. Each of the hunters was armed with a carbine and
For fully a half-hour they remained nearly motionless
and speechless. At length they caught sight of their
Sir John Murray had seized his carbine, but the bushman
motioned with his hand for him to remain quiet.
Soon the gigantic living mass appeared. The earth seemed
to give way to the irresistible pressure; the wood crackled, and
the trodden brushwood was crushed into atoms. It was a
troop of elephants.. A half dozen of these gigantic animals,
nearly as large as their congenera of India, were slowly advancing
toward the water.
54 ADVENTURES IN THE
The growing dawn permitted Sir John to admire these power-
ful animals. One of them, a male, and of enormous size,
especially excited his attention. His dimensions were truly
colossal. His attitude and uncertain motion seemed to bespeak
his consciousness of approaching danger.
The bushman, pointing to this specimen, whispered in the
ear of Sir John Murray, and said: â€”
â€œThere, does that suit you?â€
Sir John replied in the affirmative.
â€œWell, then,â€ said Mokoum, â€œlet us separate him from
the rest of the troop.â€
At this moment the elephants reached the edge of the pond.
Their feet had already buried themselves in the soft soil. They
drew up the water with their trunks, and as it was passed into
the gullet a loud gurgling noise ensued. All the while, the
large male elephant was snuffing the air around him, as if to
find some stronger reason for his suspicion.
Suddenly the bushman yelled a loud cry. His three dogs,
realizing the meaning of this, bounded out from the copse
and rushed headlong toward the elephants. At the same
time, Mokoum, after having uttered to his companions this
word, â€œHold!â€ spurred on his zebra, and sought to cut off the
retreat of the male.
This magnificent animal did not attempt to flee. Sir John,
with his finger on the trigger of his carbine, maintained a
steady watch. The elephant continued to beat the undergrowth
with his trunk, and shook his tail frantically,â€”not as a sign of
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 55
fear, but of anger. Until then he had never encountered an
enemy. Now, as soon as he saw him, he pounced down upon
Sir John Murray was stationed only about sixty paces
from the animal. He waited until it had come within forty
feet, and then raising his carbine, he fired straight against the
animalâ€™s side. Unfortunately, a slight motion of his horse
caused him to miss his aim, and the ball only grazed the flank,
without producing any serious result. The elephant, maddened
by this, started on a precipitous gallop, and fairly out-distanced
the horse. The horse of Sir John, after prancing about,
dashed out of the copse, and on, with so furious a speed that
â€œhis master was unable to hold him in check. The elephant
kept on in the pursuit, snapping his ears, and pounding the
earth with his trunk. Meanwhile the hunter endeavored by
every possible method to keep himself in the saddle, and at
the same time to load up with a fresh cartridge.
Slowly but surely the beast was gaining upon him. Both
were soon bounding across the plain far from the woods. Sir
John again spurred the flanks of his steed. Two of the dogs,
barking all the while, were also fleeing, almost out of breath.
The elephant was only two lengths behind! Every instant
was one of life or death.
All at once the horse paused. The elephantâ€™s trunk, ele-
vated in mid-air, came down with a violent crash upon the
poor animal, who, uttering a loud cry of pain, stumbled, and
darted off to one side. This stumbling saved the life of Sir
56 ADVENTURES IN THE
John Murray! The elephant, in quick speed, slid by; but
as he passed, his trunk caught one of the dogs and tossed
it into the air with a violence most fearful.
Sir John had no other resource but to retreat under cover of
the woods. The instinct of his horse carried him thither.
The elephant, now his own master, still brandishing the
unfortunate dog, dashed its head against the trunk of a
sycamore tree, and then hurled it into the forest. The
horse, having reached a shelter, paused for an instant.
Sir John, exhausted, and completely bespattered with blood,
but with no lack of courage, shouldered his carbine and took
aim at the elephant. The ball, striking a bone, exploded.
The animal trembled; and, at the moment, a second discharge
lodged itself in his left flank. He fell upon. his knees near
a small pool of water, which lay partially hidden beneath the
grass. There, pumping up the water with his trunk, he began
to sprinkle his wound, and to give utterance to the most
Just then the bushman appeared. â€œHe is ours! he is
ours!â€ exclaimed Mokoum.
The giant beast was mortally wounded. His moans in-
creased; his respiration grew short; his tail was tossed about
with diminished violence; and his trunk, rising and falling in
the pool, tinged with blood and water the earth around him.
Then, his strength having completely exhausted itself, he
fell over and died.
At this instant Sir John Murray issued forth from his
â€œThe elephant slid by.â€â€” Page 56.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 57
hiding-place. He was partially nude; for of his hunting gar-
ments only a few shreds remained. He had, indeed, proven
himself a veritable sportsman.
â€œA famous animal, bushman,â€ said Sir John, whilst examin-
mg the elephant; â€œa famous animal; but a little too heavy
for the game-bag of a chasseur /â€
â€œGlorious!â€ replied Mokoum. â€œWe will cut him-up on the
spot, and carry back only the choicest parts. See what mag-
nificent means of defence nature has provided him with!
They weigh at least twenty-five pounds each; and ivory being
worth five shillings a pound, they will bring a large sum.â€
Whilst speaking these words, the chasseur proceeded to cut
up the animal. He cut off the tusks with his hatchet, and con-
tented himself with severing the feet and trunk, which are
considered of high value, and with which he wished to delight
the members of the Scientific Commission. This operation
consumed a considerable amount of time, and for this reason
the two hunters did not start upon their return to the encamp-
ment until the sun had reached its meridian.
There the bushman roasted the feet of the gigantic animal,
after the African fashion, by burying them in a hole previously
heated like an oven by means of some live coals.
It is hardly necessary to add that this mess was duly appre
ciated, even by the indifferent Palander, and secured for Si
John Murray the hearty well-wishes of the learned Commission.
58 ADVENTURES IN THE
URING their sojourn by the kraal, Colonel Everest and
Matthew Strux had been absolutely strangers. On the
eve of their departure for their divided labors, they had cere-
moniously taken leave one of the other, and had not since met.
The caravan continued its northward route, and the weather
being favorable, during the next ten days two fresh triangles
were measured. The vast verdant wilderness was intersected
by streams flowing between rows of the willow-like â€œ karree-
hout,â€ from which the Boschjesmen make their bows. Large
tracts of desert land occurred, where every trace of moisture dis-
appeared, leaving the soil utterly bare but for the cropping-up
occasionally of those mucilaginous plants which no aridity can
kill. For miles there was no natural object that could be used
for a station, and consequently the astronomers were obliged to
employ natural objects for their point of sight. This caused
considerable loss of time, but was not attended with much real
difficulty The crew of the Queen and Czar were employed
â€œHe cut off the tusks.â€â€” Page 57.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 59
in this part of the work, and performed their task well and rap-
idly; but the same jealousy that divided their chiefs crept in
sometimes among the seamen. Zorn and Emery did all they
could to neutralize any unpleasantness, but the discussions
took a serious character. The Colonel and Strux continually
interfered in behalf of their country, whether they were right or
wrong, but they only succeeded in making matters worse. Af-
ter a while Zorn and Emery were the only members of the party
who had preserved a perfect concord. Even Sir John Murray
and Nicholas Palander (generally absorbed as they were, the
(one in his calculations, the other in his hunting), began to join
One day the dispute went so far that Strux said to the Col-
onel, â€œYou must please to moderate your tone with astron-
omers from Poulkowa: remember it was their telescope that
showed that the disc of Uranus is circular.â€
â€œYes,â€ replied the Colonel; â€œ but ours at Cambridge enabled
us to classify the nebula of Andromeda.â€
The irritation was evident, and at times seemed to imperil the
fate of the triangulation. Hitherto the discussions had no in-
jurious effect, but perhaps rather served to keep every operation
more scrupulously exact.
On the zoth the weather suddenly changed. In any other
region a storm and torrents of rain might have been expected:
angry-looking clouds covered the sky, and lightning unaccom-
panied by thunder, gleamed through the mass of vapor. But
.condensation did not ensue,â€” not a drop of rain fell to the
60 ADVENTURES IN THE
thirsty soil. The sky remained overcast for some days, and the
fog rendered the points of sight invisible at the distance of a
mile. The astronomers, however, would not lose time, and de-
termined to set up lighted signals and work at night The
bushman prudently advised caution, lest the electric lights
should attract the wild beasts too closely to their quarters; and,
in fact, during the night, the yelp of the jackal and the hoarse
laugh of the hyena, like that of a drunken negro, could plainly
In the midst of this clamor, in which the roar of a lion could
sometimes be distinguished, the astronomers felt rather dis-
tracted, and the measurements were taken at least less rapidly,
if not less accurately. To take zenith distances while gleaming
eyes might be gazing at them through the darkness, required
imperturbable composure and the utmost sang-froid. But these
qualities were not wanting in the members of the Commission,
and after a few days they regained their presence of mind, and
worked away in the midst of the beasts as calmly as if they were
in their own observatories. Armed hunters attended them at
every station, and no inconsiderable number of hyenas fell by
their balls. Sir John thought this way of surveying delightful,
and whilst his eye was at his telescope his hand was on his gun,
and more than once he made a shot in the interval between two
Nothing occurred to check the steady progress of the survey,
so that the astronomers hoped before the end of June to meas-
ure a second degree of the meridian. On the 17th they found -
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 61
that their path was crossed by an affluent of the Kuruman. The
Europeans could easily take their instruments across in their
india-rubber canoe; but Mokoum would have to take the cara-
van to aford which he remembered some miles below. The
river was about half-a-mile wide, and its rapid current, broken
here and there by rocks and stems of trees embedded in the
mud, offered considerable danger to any light craft. Matthew
Strux did not fail to represent this, but finding that his compan-
ions did not recoil from the attempt, he gave way.
Nicholas Palander alone was to accompany the caravan in its
dÃ©tour. Ke was too much absorbed in his calculations to give
any thought to danger; but his presence was not indispensable
to his companions, and the boat would only hold a limited num-
ber of passengers. Accordingly, he gave up his place to an
Englishman of the crew of the Queen and Czar, who would
be more useful under the circumstances.
After making an arrangement to meet at the north of the
rapid, the caravan disappeared down the left bank of the stream.
leaving Colonel Everest, Strux, Emery, Zorn, Sir yohn, two sail-
â€˜ors, and a Boschjesman, who was the pioneer of the caravan, and
had been recommended by Mokoum as having much experi-
ence in African rapids. .
â€œA pretty river,â€ observed Zorn to his friend, as the sailors
were preparing the boat.
â€œVery so, but hard to cross,â€ answered Emery. â€œThese
rapids have not long to live, and therefore enjoy life. With
a few weeks of this dry season there will hardly remain
62 ADVENTURES IN THE
enough of this swollen torrent to water a caravan. Itâ€™ is soon
exhausted; such is the law of nature, moral and physical. But
we must not waste time in moralizing. See, the boat is
equipped, and I am all anxiety to see her performances.â€
In a few minutes the boat was launched beside a sloping bank
of red granite. Here, sheltered by a projecting rock, the water
quietly bathed the reeds and creepers. The instruments and
provisions were put in the boat, and the passengers seated
themselves so as not to interfere with the action of the oars.
The Boschjesman took the helm; he spoke but a few words of
English, and advised the travellers to keep a profound silence
whilst they were crossing. The boat soon felt the influence of
the current. The sailors carefully obeyed every order of the
Boschjesman. Sometimes they had to raise their oars to avoid
some half-emerged stump; sometimes to row hard across a
whirlpool. When the current became too strong they could
only guide the light boat as it drifted with the stream. The
native, tiller in hand, sat watchful and motionless, prepared for
every danger. The Europeans were half uneasy at their novel
situation; they seemed carried away by an irresistible force.
The Colonel and Strux gazed at each other without a word; Sir
John, with his rifle between his knees, watched the numerous
birds that skimmed the water; and the two younger astronomers
gazed with admiration at the banks, past which they flew with
dizzy speed. The light boat soon reached the true rapid, which
it was necessary to cross obliquely. At a word from the Bosch-
jesman, the sailors put forth their strength; but, despite all their
â€œTt was an immense hippopotamus.â€â€” Page 63.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 63
efforts, they were carried down parallel to the banks. The tiller
and oars had no longer any effect, and the situation became
really perilous; a rock or stump of a tree would inevitably have
overturned the boat. In spite of the manifest peril, no one
uttered a word. The Boschjesman half arose, and watched the
direction which he could not control. Two hundred yards dis-
tant rose an islet of stones and trees, which it was impossible
to avoid. Ina few seconds the boat apparently must be lost;
but the shock came with less violence than had seemed inevita-
ble. The boat lurched, and shipped a little water, but the pas-
sengers kept their places. They were astonished to observe
that what they had presumed to be rock had moved, and was
plunging about in the rush of the waters. It was an immense
hippopotamus, ten feet long, which had been carried by the cur-
rent against the islet, and dared not venture out again into the
rapid. Feeling the shock, he raised and shook his head, look-
ing about him with his little dull eyes, and with his mouth wide
open, showing his great canine teeth. He rushed furiously on
the boat, which he threatened to bite to pieces.
But Sir John Murrayâ€™s presence of mind did not forsake him.
Quietly shouldering his rifle, he fired at the animal near the ear.
The hippopotamus did not quit his hold, but shook the boat as
a dog would a hare. A second shot was soon lodged in his
head. The blow was mortal. After pushing the boat with a
last effort off the islet, the fleshy mass sank in the deep water.
Before the dismayed voyagers could collect their thoughts, they
were whirled obliquely into the rapid. A hundred yards below,
64 ADVENTURES IN THE
a sharp bend in the river broke the current; thither was the
boat carried, and was arrested by a violent shock. Safe and
sound the whole party leapt to the bank. They were about two
miles below the spot where they had embarked.
LAND Â©F THE BEHEMOTH. 65
A MISSING- COMPANION.
N continuing the survey the astronomers had to be on their
guard against the serpents that infested the region, veno-
mous mambas, ten to twelve feet long, whose bite would have
Four days after the passage of the rapid, the observers found
themselves in a wooded country. The trees, however, were not
so high as to interfere with their labors, and at all points rose
eminences which afforded excellent sites for the posts and
electric lamps. The district, lying considerably lower than the
rest of the plain, was moist and fertile. Emery noticed thou-
sands of Hottentot fig trees, whose sour fruit is much relished
by the Boschjesmen. From the ground arose a soft odor from
the â€œkucumakranti,â€ a yellow fruit two or three inches long,
growing from bulbous roots like the colchicum, and eagerly de-
youred by the native children. Here, too, in this more watered
country, reappeared the fields of colocynths and borders of the
mint so successfully naturalized in England. Notwithstanding
its fertility, the country appeared little frequented by the wan-
66 ADVENTURES IN THE
dering tribes, and not a kraal or a camp-fire was to be seen; yet
water was abundant, forming some considerable streams and
The astronomers halted to awaitthe caravan. The time fixed
by Mokoum had just expired, and if he had reckoned well, he
would join them to-day. The day, however, passed on, and no
Boschjesman appeared. -Sir John conjectured that the hunter
had probably been obliged to ford farther south than he had ex-
pected, since the river was unusually swollen. Another day
passed and the caravan had not appeared. The Colonel be-
came. uneasy; he could not go on, and the delay might affect
the success of the operations. Matthew Strux said that it had
always been his wish to accompany the caravan, and that if his
advice had been followed they would not have found themselves
in this predicament; but he would not admit that the responsi-
bility rested on the Russians. Colonel Everest began to pro-
test against these insinuations, but Sir John interposed, saying
that what was done could not be undone, and that all the re-
criminations in the world would make no difference.
It was then decided that if the caravan did not appear on the
following day, Emery and Zorn, under the guidance of the
Boschjesman, should start to ascertain the reason of the delay.
For the rest of the day the rivals kept apart, and Sir John
passed his time in beating the surrounding woods. He failed
in finding any game, but from a naturalistâ€™s point of view he
ought to have been satisfied, since he brought down two fine
specimens of African birds. One was a kind of partridge, a
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 67
francolin, thirteen inches long, with short legs, dark gray back,
red beak and claws, and elegant wings, shaded with brown.
The other bird, with a red throat and white tail, was a species
of falcon. The Boschjesman pioneer cleverly took off the
skins, in order that they should be preserved entire.
The next day was half over, and the two young men were
just about to start on their search, when a distant bark arrested
them. Soon Mokoum, on his zebra, emerged at full speed from
the thicket of aloes on the left, and advanced toward the
â€œWelcome,â€ cried Sir John, joyfully; â€œwe had almost given
you up, and apart from you I should be inconsolable. I am only
successful when you are with me. We will celebrate your re-
turn in a glass of usquebaugh.â€
Mokoum made no answer, but anxiously scanned and counted
the Europeans. Colonel Everest perceived his perplexity, and
as he was dismounting, said : â€”
â€œ For whom are you looking, Mokoum?â€
â€œFor Mr. Palander,â€ replied the bushman.
â€œTs he not with you?â€ said the Colonel.
â€œNot now,â€ answered Mokoum. â€œI thought I should find
him with you. He is lost!â€
At these words, Matthew Strux stepped forward.
â€œLost!â€ he cried. â€œHe was confided to your care. You
are responsible for his safety, and it is not enough to say he is
Mokoumâ€™s face flushed, and he answered. impatiently : â€”
68 ADVENTURES IN THE
â€œWhy should you expect meto take care of one who canâ€™t
take care of himself? Why blame me? If Mr. Palander is
lost, itis by his own folly. Twenty times I have found him ab-
sorbed in his figures, and have brought him back to the caravan.
But the evening before last he disappeared, and I have not seen
him since. Perhaps if you are so clever, you can spy him out
with your telescope.â€
The bushman would, doubtless, have become more â€˜irritable
still, if Sir John had not pacified him. Matthew Strux had not
been able to get in a word, but now turned round unexpectedly
to the Colonel, saying :â€”
â€œT shall not abandon my countryman. I suppose that if Sir
John Murray or Mr. Emery were lost, you would suspend opera-
tions; and I donâ€™t see why you should do less for a Russian
than for an Englishman.â€
â€œMr. Strux,â€ cried the Colonel, folding his arms, and fixing
his eyes on his adversary, â€œdo you wish to insult me? Why
should you suppose that we will not seek this blundering calcu-
â€œSir!â€ said Strux.
â€œYes, blundering,â€ repeated the Colonel. â€œ And to return to
what you said, I maintain that any embarrassment to the prog-
ress of the operations from this circumstance would be due to
the Russians alone.â€
â€œColonel,â€ cried Strux, with gleaming eyes, â€œyour words are
â€œMy words, on the contrary, are well weighed. Let it be un-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 69
derstood that operations are suspended until Mr. Palander is
found. Are -you ready to start?â€
â€œI was ready before you spoke a word,â€ answered Strux,
The caravan having now arrived, the disputants each went to
his wagon. On the way Sir John could not help saying : â€”
â€œtis lucky that the stupid fellow has not carried off the
â€œJust what I was thinking,â€ said the Colonel.
The Englishmen proceeded more strictly to interrogate Mo-
koum. He told them that Palander had been missing for two
days, and had last been seen alongside of the caravan about
twelve miles from the encampment; that after missing him, he
at once set out to seek for him, but being unsuccessful in all his
search, had concluded that he must have made his way to his
Mokoum proposed that they should now explore the woods to
the north-east, adding that they must not lose an hour if they
wanted to find him alive, knowing that no one could wander
with impunity for two days in a country infested like that with
wild beasts. Where any one else could find a subsistence, Pa-
lander, ever engrossed by his figures, would inevitably die of
starvation. At one oâ€™clock, guided by the hunter, they mounted
and left the camp. The grotesque attitudes of Strux, as he
clung uneasily to his steed, caused considerable diversion to his
companions, who, however, were polite enough to pass no
7o ADVENTURES IN THE
Before leaving the camp, Mokoum asked the pioneer to lend
him his keen-scented dog. The sagacious animal, after scenting
a hat belonging to Palander, darted off in a north-easterly di-
rection, whilst his master urged him on by a peculiar whistle.
The little troop followed, and soon disappeared in the under-
All the day the Colonel and his companions followed the dog.
who seemed instinctively to know what was required of him.
They shouted, they fired their guns, but night came on when
they had scoured the woods for five miles round, and they were
at length obliged to rest until the following day. They spent
the night in a grove, before which the bushman had prudently
kindled a wood fire. Some wild howls were heard, by no means
reassuring. Hours passed in arguing about Palander, and dis-
cussing plans for his assistance. The English showed as much
devotion as Strux could desire; and it was decided that all
work should be adjourned till the Russian was found, alive or
After a weary night the day dawned. The horses were sad-
died, and the little troop again followed the dog. Towards the
north-east they arrived at a district almost swampy in its charac-
ter. The small water-courses increased in number, but they
were easily forded, care being taken to avoid the crocodiles, of
which Sir John, for the first time in his life, now saw some
specimens. The bushman would not permit that time should
be wasted in any attack upon the reptiles, and restrained Sir
John, who was always on the gzz-vive to discharge a ball.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. qi
Whenever a crocodile, snapping its prey with its formidable jaw,
put its head out of water, the horses set off at a gallop to escape.
The troop of riders went on over woods, plains, and marshes,
noting the most insignificant tokens: here a broken bough;
there a freshly-trodden tuft of grass; or farther on some inexpli-
cable mark; but no trace of Palander.
When they had advanced ten miles north of the last encamp-
ment, and were about to turn south-east, the dog suddenly gave
signs of agitation. He barked, and in an excited way wagged
_his tail. Sniffing the dry grass, he ran on a few steps, and re-
turned to the same spot.
â€œThe dog scents something,â€ exclaimed the bushman.
â€œIt seems,â€ said Sir John, â€œhe is on a right track. Listen to
his yelping: he seems to be talking to himself. He will be an
invaluable creature if he scents out Palander.â€
Strux did not quite relish the way in which his countryman
was treated as a head of game; but the important thing now -
was to find him, and they all waited to follow the dog, as soon
as he should be sure of the scent.
Very soon the animal, with a loud yelp, bounded over the
thicket and disappeared. The horses could not follow through
the dense forest, but were obliged to take a circuitous path.
The dog was certainly on the right track now; the only question
was whether Palander was alive or dead.
In a few minutes the yelping ceased, and the bushman and
Sir John, who were in advance, were becoming uneasy, when
suddenly the barking began again outside the forest, about half
72 ADVENTURES IN THE
a mile away. The horses were spurred in that direction, and
soon reached the confines of the marsh. The dog could dis-
tinctly be heard, but, on account of the lofty reeds, could not
be seen. The riders dismounted, and tied their horses to a
tree. With difficulty they made their way through the reeds,
and reached a large space covered with water and aquatic
plants. In the lowest part lay the brown waters of a lagoon
half a mile square. The dog stopped at the muddy edge, and
â€œThere he is!â€ cried Mokoum.
And, sure enough, on a stump at the extremity of a sort of
peninsula, sat Nicholas Palander, pencil in hand, and a note-
book on his knees, wrapt in calculations. His friends could not
suppress a cry. About twenty paces off a number of crocodiles,
quite unknown to him, lay watching, and evidently designing an
â€œ Make haste,â€ said Mokoum, in a low voice; â€œI donâ€™t under-
stand why these animals donâ€™t rush on him.â€
â€œThey are waiting till he is gamey,â€ said Sir John, alluding to
the idea common among the natives that these reptiles never
touch fresh meat.
The bushman and Sir John, telling their companions to wait
for them, passed round the lagoon, and reached the narrow
isthmus by which alone they could get near Palander. They
had not gone two hundred steps, when the crocodiles, leaving
the water, made straight toward their prey. Palander saw noth-
ing, but went on writing.
i â€__ Page 72.
On a stump sat Nicholas Palander. age 7
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 73
â€œBe quick and calm,â€ whispered Mokoum, â€œor all is lost.â€
Both, kneeling down, aimed at the nearest reptiles, and fired.
Two monsters rolled into the water with broken backs, and the
rest simultaneously disappeared beneath the surface.
At the sound of the guns Palander raised his head. He
recognized his companions, and ran toward them waving his
note-book, and like the philosopher of old exclaiming â€œ Eureka!â€
he eried, â€œI have found it!â€
â€œWhat have you found?â€ asked Sir John.
â€œâ€œAn error in the last decimal of a logarithm of James
It was a fact. The worthy man had discovered the error, and
had secured a right to the prize offered by Wolstonâ€™s editor.
For four days had the astronomer wandered in solitude. Truly
Amptre, with his unrivalled gift of abstraction, could not have
74 ADVENTURES IN THE
A STATION TO SIR JOHNâ€™S LIKING.
O the Russian mathematician was found! When they asked
him how he had passed those four days, he could not tell;
he thought the whole story of the crocodiles was a joke, and did
not believe it. He had not been hungry; he had lived upon
figures. Matthew Strux would not reproach his countryman be-
fore his colleagues, but there was every reason to believe that in
private he gave him a severe reprimand.
The geodetic operations were now resumed, and went on as
usual till the 28th of June, when they had measured the base of
the 15th triangle, which would conclude the second and com-
mence the third degree of the meridian. Here a physical diff-
culty arose. The country was so thickly covered with under-
wood, that although the artificial signals could be erected, they
could not be discerned at any distance. One station was rec-
ognized as available for an electric lamp. â€œThis was a mountain
120Â¢ feet high, about thirty miles to the north-west. The choice
of this would make the sides of this triangle considerably longer
than any of the former, but it was at length determined to
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 75
adopt it. Colonel Everest, Emery, Zorn, three sailors, and
two Boschjesmen, were appointed to establish the lighted sig-
nal, the distance being too great to work otherwise than at
The little troop, accompanied by mules laden with the instru-
ments and provisions, set off in the morning. The Colonel did
not expect to reach the base of the mountain till the following
' day, and however few might be the difficulties of the ascent, the
observers in the camp would not see the lighted signal till the
night of the 29th or 3oth.
In the interval of waiting, Strux and Palander went to their
usual occupations, while Sir John and the bushman shot ante-
lopes. They found opportunity of hunting a giraffe, which is
considered fine sport. Coming across a herd of twenty, but so
wild that they could not approach within 500 yards, they suc-
ceeded in detaching a female from the herd. The animal set
off at first at a slow trot, allowing the horsemen to gain upon
her; but when she found them near, she twisted her tail, and
started at full speed. The hunters followed for about two miles,
when a ball from Sir Johnâ€™s rifle threw her on to her side, and
made her an easy victim.
In the course of the next night the two Russians took some
altitudes of the stars, which enabled them to determine the lati-
tude of the encampment. The following night was clear and
dry, without moon and stars, and the observers impatiently
watched for the appearance of the electric light. Strux, Palan-
der, and Sir John relieved guard at the telescope, but no light
76. ADVENTURES IN THE
appeared. They concluded that the ascent of the mountain had
offered serious difficulty, and again postponed their observations
till the next night. Great, however, was their surprise, when,
about two oâ€™clock in the afternoon, Colonel Everest and his
companions suddenly reappeared in camp.
- In answer to inquiries whether he had found the mountain in-
accessible, Colonel Everest replied that although in itself the
mountain was entirely accessible, it. was so guarded that they
had found it necessary to come back for reinforcements.
â€œDo you mean,â€ said Sir John, â€œthat the natives were assem-
bled in force?â€
â€œYes, natives with four paws and black manes, who have
eaten up one of out horses.â€
The Colonel went on to say that the mountain â€œwas only to
be approached by a spur on the south-west side. In the narrow
defile leading to the spur a troop of lions had taken up their
abode. These he had endeavored to dislodge, but, insufficiently
armed, he was compelled to beat a retreat, after losing one of
his horses by-a single blow of a lionâ€™s paw.
The recital kindled the interest of Sir John and the bushman.
Clearly it was a station worth conquering, and an expedition was
at once arranged. All the Europeans, without exception, were
eager to join, but it was necessary that some should remain at
the camp to measure the angles at the base of the triangle;
therefore the Colonel resolved to stay behind with Strux and
Palander, while Sir John, Emery, and Zorn (to whose entreaties
their chiefs had been obliged to yield), Mokoum, and three na-
. LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. q7
tives on whose courage he could rely, made up the party for the
They started at four in the afternoon, and by nine were with-
in two miles of the mountain. Here they dismounted, and
made their arrangements for the night. No fire was kindled,
Mokoum being unwilling to provoke a nocturnal attack from the
animals, which he wished to meet by daylight.
Throughout the night the roar of the lions could almost in-
cessantly be heard. Not one of the hunters slept for so much
as an hour, and Mokoum took advantage of their wakefulness
to give them some advice from his own experience.
â€œFrom what Colonel Everest tells us,â€ he said, calmly, â€œthese
are black-maned lions, the fiercest and most dangerous species
of any. They leap for a distance of sixteen to twenty paces,
and I should advise you to avoid their first bound. Should the
first fail, they rarely take a second. We will attack them as
they re-enter their den at daybreak; they are always less fierce
when they are well filled. Butthey will defend themselves well;
for here, in this uninhabited district, they are unusually fero-
cious. Measure your distance well before you fire; let the ani-
mal approach, and take a sure aim near the shoulder. We
must leave our horses behind; the sight of a lion terrifies them,
and therefore the safety of their rider is imperilled. We must
fight on foot, and I rely on your calmness.â€
All listened with silent attention: Mokoum was now the pa-
tient hunter. Although the lion seldom attacks a man without
srovocation, yet his fury, when once aroused, is terrible; and
78 ADVENTURES IN THE
therefore the bushman enjoined composure on his companions,
especially on Sir John, who was often carried away by his bold-
â€œShoot at a lion,â€ said Mokoum, â€œas calmly as if you were
shooting a partridge.â€
At four oâ€™clock, only a fewred streaks being visible in the far
east, the hunters tied up their horses securely and left their
â€œExamine your guns, and be careful that your cartridges are
in good trim,â€ continued Mokoum, to those who carried rifles;
for the three natives were armed otherwise, satisfied with their
bows of aloe, which already had rendered them good service.
The party, in a compact group, turned toward the defile,
which had been partially reconnoitred the evening before.
They crept, like Red Indians, silently between the trees, and
soon reached the narrow gorge which formed the entrance.
Here, winding between piles of granite, began the path leading
to the first slopes of the spur. Midway the path had been
widened by a landslip, and here was the cave tenanted by the
It was then arranged that Sir John, one of the natives, and
Mokoum, should creep along the upper edge of the defile, with
the intention of driving out the animals to the lower extremity
of the gorge. There the two young Europeans and the other
two Boschjesmen should be in ambush to receive the fugitive
beasts with shot and arrows.
No spot could be better adapted for the manceuvres. The
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 79
forked branches of a gigantic sycamore afforded a safe position,
since lions do not climb; and the hunters, perched at a consid-
erable height, could escape their bounds and aim at them under
William Emery objected to the plan as being dangerous for
Sir John and the bushman, but the latter would hear of no modi-
fication, and Emery reluctantly acquiesced.
Day now began to dawn, and the mountain-top was glowing
in the sun. Mokoum, after seeing his four companions installed
in the sycamore, started off with Sir John and the Boschjes-
man, and soon mounted the devious path which lay on the
right edge of the defile. Cautiously examining their path, they
continued to advance. In the event of the lions having re-
turned to their den and being at repose, it would be possible to
make short work of them.
After about a quarter of an hour the hunters, reaching the
landslip before the cave to which Zorn had directed them,
crouched down and examined the spot. It seemed a wide ex-
cavation, though at present they could hardly estimate the size.
The entrance was marked by piles of bones and remains of ani-
mals, demonstrating, beyond doubt, that it was the lionsâ€™ retreat.
Contrary to the hunterâ€™s expectation, the cave seemed de-
serted. Hecrept to the entrance and satisfied himself that it
was really empty. Calling his companions, who joined him im-
mediately, he said : â€”
â€œOur game has not returned, Sir John, but it will not be long:
I think we had better install ourselves in its place. Better to
8o . ADVENTURES IN THE
be besieged than besiegers, especially as we have an armed suc
cor at hand. What-do you think?â€
â€œT am at your orders, Mokoum,â€ replied Sir John.
All three accordingly entered. It was a deep grotto, strewn
with bones and stained with blood. Repeating their scrutiny,
lest they should be mistaken as to the cave being empty, they
hastened to barricade the entrance by piling up stones, the in-
tervening spaces being filled with boughs and dry brushwood.
This only occupied a few minutes, the mouth of the cave being
comparatively narrow. â€˜They then went behind their loop-holes
and awaited their prey, which was not long in coming. A lion
and two lionesses approached within a hundred yards of the
cave. The lion, tossing his mane and sweeping the ground with
his tail, carried in his teeth an entire antelope, which he shook
with as much ease as a cat would a mouse. The two lionesses
frisked along at his side.
Sir John afterwards confessed that it was a moment of no lit-
tle trepidation; he felt his pulses beat fast, and was conscious of
something like fear; but he was soon himself again. His two
companions retained their composure undisturbed.
At the sight of the barricade, the beasts paused, They were
within sixty paces. With a harsh roar from the lion, they all
three rushed into a thicket on the right, a little below the spot
where the hunters had first stopped. Their tawny backs and
gleaming eyes were distinctly visible through the foliage.
â€œThe partridges are there,â€ whispered Sir John; â€œlet us each
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. ; 81
â€œNo,â€ answered Mokoum softly; â€œthe brood is not all here,
and the report of a gun would frighten the rest. Boschjesman,
are you sure of your arrow at this distance?â€
â€œYes, Mokoum,â€ said the native.
â€œThen aim at the maleâ€™s left flank, and pierce his heart.â€
The Boschjesman bent his bow, and the arrow whistled
through the brushwood. With a loud roar, the lion made a
bound and fell. He lay motionless, and his sharp teeth stood
out in strong relief against his blood-stained lips.
â€œWell done, Boschjesman!â€ said Mokoum.
At this moment the lionesses, leaving the thicket, flung them-
selves on the lionâ€™s body. Attracted by their roar, two other
lions and a third lioness appeared round the corner of the de-
file. Bristling with anger, they looked twice their ordinary
size, and bounded forward with terrific roars.
â€œNow for the rifles,â€ cried the bushman; â€œwe must shoot
them on the wing, since they will not perch.â€
The bushman took deliberate aim, and one lion fell, as it were
paralyzed. The other, his paw broken by Sir Johnâ€™s bullet,
rushed toward the barricade, followed by the infuriated lion-
esses. Unless the rifles could now be brought successfully to
bear, the three animals would succeed in entering their den.
The hunters retired; their guns were quickly reloaded; two or
three lucky shots, and all would be well; but an unforeseen cir-
cumstance occurred which rendered the huntersâ€™ situation to the
last degree alarming.
All at once a dense smoke filled the cave. One of the wads,
82 ADVENTURES IN THE
falling on the dry brushwood, had set it alight, and soon a sheet
of flames, fanned by the wind, lay between the men and the
beasts. The lions recoiled, but the hunters would be suffocated
if they remained where they were. It was a terrible moment,
but they dared not hesitate.
â€œCome out! come out!â€ cried Mokoum.
They pushed aside the brushwood with the butt ends of their
guns, knocked down the stones, and, half choked, leaped out of
the cloud of smoke.
The native and Sir John had hardly time to collect their
senses when they were both knocked over. The African, struck
on the chest by one of the lionesses, lay motionless on the
ground; Sir John, who received a blow from the tail of the
other, thought his leg was broken, and fell on his knees. But
just as the animal turned upon him, a ball from the bushman
arrested her, and, meeting a bone, exploded in her body. At
this instant Zorn, Emery, and the two Boschjesmen appeared
opportunely, although unsummoned, hastening up the defile.
Two lions and one lioness were dead; but two lionesses and the
lion with the broken paw were still sufficiently formidable. The
rifles, however, performed their duty. A second lioness fell,
struck in both head and flank. The third lioness and the
wounded lion bounded over the young menâ€™s heads, and amid a
last salute of balls and arrows disappeared round the corner of
Sir John uttered a loud hurrah. The lions were conquered;
four carcasses measured the ground.
â€œThe animal turned upon him.â€â€” Page 82.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 83
With his friendâ€™s assistance, Sir John was soon on his feet
again; his leg was not broken. The native soon recovered his
consciousness, being merely stunned by the blow from the ani-
malâ€™s head. An hour later, the little troop, without further trace
of the fugitive couple, regained the thicket where they had left
â€œWell,â€ said Mokoum to Sir John, â€œI hope you like our
â€œDelightful! delightful!â€ said Sir John, rubbing his leg, â€œbut
what tails they have, to be sure!â€
84 ADVENTURES IN THE
PACIFICATION BY FIRE.
T the camp Colonel Everest and his colleagues, with
a natural impatience, anxiously abided the result of the
lion-hunt. If the chase proved successful, the light would
appear in the course of the night. The Colonel and Strux
passed the day uneasily ; Palander, always engrossed, forgot
that any danger menaced his friends. It might be said of him,
as of the mathematician Bouvard, â€œHe will continue to cal-
culate while he continues to live;â€ for apart from his calculations
life for him would have lost its purpose.
The two chiefs certainly thought quite as much of the
accomplishment of their survey as of any danger incurred by
their companions; they would themselves have braved any peril
rather than have a physical obstacle to arrest their operations.
At length, after a day that seemed interminable, the night
arrived. Punctually every half-hour the Colonel and Matthew
Strux silently relieved guard at the telescope, each desiring to
be the first to discover the light. But hours passed on, and
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 85
no light appeared. At last, at a quarter to three, Colonel
Everest arose, and calmly said, â€œ The signal!â€
The Russian, although he did not utter a word, could
scarcely conceal the chagrin which he felt at chance favoring
The angle was then carefully measured, and was found to
be exactly 73 degrees, 58 minutes, and 42.413 seconds.
Colonel Everest being anxious to join his companions as
soon as possible, the camp was raised at dawn, and by mid-
day all the members of the Commission had met once more.
The incidents of the lion-hunt were recounted, and the victors
During the morning Sir John, Emery, and Zorn had _ pro-
ceeded to the summit of the mountain, and had thence
measured the angular distance of a new station, situated a few
miles to the west of the meridian. Palander also announced
that the measurement of the second degree was now complete.
For five weeks all went on well. The weather was fine, and
the country, being only slightly undulated, offered fair sites
for the stations. Provisions were abundant, and Sir Johnâ€™s
revictualling expeditions provided full many a_ variety of
antelopes and buffaloes. The general health was good, and
water could always be found. Even the discussions between
â€˜the Colonel and Strux were less violent, and each seemed to
vie with the other in zeal for success, when a local difficulty
occurred which for a while hindered the work and revived
86 ADVENTURES IN THE
It was the 11th of August. During the night the caravan
had passed through a wooded country, and in the morning
halted before an immense forest extending beyond the horizon.
Imposing masses of foliage formed a verdant curtain which
was of indescribable beauty. There were the â€œgounda,â€ the
â€œmosokoso,â€ and the â€œmokoumdon,â€ a wood much sought
for ship-building; great ebony trees, their bark covering a
perfectly black wood; â€œbauhinias,â€ with fibre of iron; â€œbuch-
neras,â€ with their orange-colored flowers; magnificent â€œ roode-
blatts,â€ with whitish trunks, crowned with crimson foliage;
and thousands of â€œguaiacums,â€ measuring fifteen feet in cir-
cumference. There was ever a murmur like that of the surf
on a sandy coast; it was the wind, which, passing across the
branches, was calmed on the skirts of the forest. In answer
to a question from the Colonel, Mokoum said: â€”
â€œTt is the forest of Rovouma.â€
â€œWhat is its size?â€
â€œIt is about forty-five miles wide, and ten long.â€
â€œHow shall we cross it?â€
â€œCross it we cannot,â€ said Mokoum. â€œThere is but one
resource: we must go round either to the east or to the
At this intelligence the chiefs were much perplexed. In
the forest they could not establish stations; to pass round
would involve them in an additional series of perhaps ten
Here was a difficulty of no little magnitude. Encamping
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. . 87
in the shade of a magnificent grove about half a mile from:
the forest, the astronomers assembled in council. The ques-
tion of surveying across the mass of trees was at once set
aside, and it now remained to determine whether they should
make the circuit to the east or the west, since the meridian
passed as nearly as possible through the centre of the forest.
On this point arose a violent discussion between the Colonel
and Strux. The two rivals recovered their old animosity,
and- the discussion ended in a serious altercation. Their
colleagues attempted to interfere, but to no purpose. The
Englishman wished to turn to the right, since that direction
approached the route taken by Dr. Livingstone in his expe-
dition to the Zambese Falls, and the country would on that
account be more known and frequented. The Russian, on
the contrary, insisted on going to the left, but apparently for
no other reason than to thwart the Colonel. The quarrel went
so far that a separation between the members of the Commis-
sion seemed imminent. Zorn, Emery, Sir John, and Palander
withdrew and left their chiefs to themselves. Such was their
obstinacy that it seemed as if the survey must continue from
this point in two oblique series of triangles.
The day passed away without any reconciliation, and the
next morning Sir John, finding matters still in the same con-
dition, proposed to Mokoum to beat the neighborhood.
Perhaps meanwhile the astronomers would come to an under-
Standing: any way, some fresh venison would not be despised.
Mokoum, always ready, whistled to his dog Top, and the
88 ADVENTURES IN THE
two hunters ventured several miles from the encampment.
The conversation naturally turned on the subject of the
â€œT expect,â€ said the bushman, â€œwe shall be encamped some
time. here. Our two chiefs are like ill-paired oxen: one pulls
one way and the other another, and the consequence is that
the wagon makes no headway.â€
â€œTt is all very sad,â€ answered Sir John, â€œand looks like
a separation. The interests of science are compromised; other-
wise I should be indifferent to it all. I should amuse myself
with my gun until the rivals had made it up.â€
â€œDo you think they wz7 make it up? For my part, I am
almost afraid that our halt will be-indefinitely prolonged.â€
â€œJ fear so, Mokoum,â€ replied Sir John. â€œThe matter is
so trivial, and it is no question of science. Our chiefs would
doubtless have yielded to a scientific argument, but they will
never make concession in a matter of opinion. How unfor-
tunate that the meridian happens to cross this forest!â€
â€œHang the forests!â€ exclaimed the bushman; â€œdonâ€™t let
_them stop your measuring, if you want to measure. But I
canâ€™t see the good of your getting at the length and breadth
of the earth. Who will be any better off when everything
is reduced to feet and inches? I should just like to think-of
the globe as infinite; to measure it is to make it small. No,
Sir John, if I were to live forever, I could never undezstand
the use of your operations.â€
Sir John could not help smiling. They had often debated
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 89
the subject, and the ignorant child of nature could evideutly
not enter into the interest attached to the survey. Whenever
Sir John attempted to convince him, he answered eloquently with
arguments stamped with a genuine naturalness, of which Sir John,
half-savanÃ© and half-hunter, could fully appreciate the charm.
Thus conversing, the hunters pursued the rock-hares, the
shrill-toned plovers, the partridges (with brown, yellow, and
black plumage), and other small game. But Sir John had
all the sport to himself. The bushman seldom fired; he was
preoccupied. The quarrel between the two astronomers
seemed to trouble him more than it did his companion, and
the variety of game hardly attracted his notice. In truth
there was an idea floating through his brain, which, little by
little, took more definite form. Sir John heard him talking to
himself, and watched him as he quietly let the game pass by,
as engrossed as Palander himself. Two or three times in
the course of the day he drew near Sir John and said :â€”
â€œSo you really think that Colonel Everest and Mr. Strux will
not come to terms?â€
Sir John invariably replied that agreement seemed unlikely,
and that he feared there would be a separation between
Englishmen and Russians. The last time Mokoum received
this answer he added: â€”
â€œWell, you may be easy; I have found a means to satisfy
both the chiefs. Before to-morrow, if the wind is favorable,
they will have nothing to quarrel about.â€
â€œWhat do you mean to do, Mokoum?â€
go ADVENTURES IN THE
â€œNever mind, Sir John.â€
â€œVery well, I will leave it to you. You deserve to have your
name preserved in the annals of science.â€
â€œThat would be too great an honor for me, Sir John,â€
answered the bushman, and then continued silently to ponder
over his project. Sir John made no further inquiries, but could
not at all guess how the bushman proposed to reunite the twc
Towards evening the hunters returned to camp, and found
matters even worse than before. The oft-repeated intervention
of Zorn and Emery had been of no avail, and the quarrel had
now reached such a height that reconciliation seemed impos-
sible. It appeared only too probable that the survey would
be continued in â€˜two separate directions. The thought of this
was sorrowful to Emery and Zorn, who were now so nearly
bound by mutual sympathy. Sir John guessed their thoughts,
and was eager to reassure them; but however much he was
secretly disposed to trust to the bushman, he abstained from
raising any hopes that might be fallacious.
Throughout the evening Mokoum did not leave his ordinary
occupations. He arranged the sentinels, and took the usual
precautions. Sir John began to think that he had forgotten
his promise. Before going to rest he tried to sound Colonel
Everest, whom he found immovably resolved that, unless Strux
yielded, the English and Russians must part. â€œThere are
things,â€ added the Colonel, in a tone of decision, â€œthat
cannot be borne, even from a colleague.â€
â€œThe forest was on fire,
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 91
Sir John, very uneasy, retired to his bed, and being fatigued
with his dayâ€™s sport, was soon asleep. Towards eleven vâ€™clock
he was suddenly aroused by the natives running to and fro in
the camp. He quickly rose, and found every one on their
feet. The forest was on fire. In the dark night, against the
black sky, the curtain of flame seemed to rise to the zenith;
and in this incredibly short time the fire had extended for
Sir John looked at Mokoum, who, standing near, made no
answer to his glance; but he at once understood. The fire was
designed to open a road through that forest which had stood
impervious for ages. The wind, from the South, was favorable.
The air, rushing as from a ventilator, accelerated the confla-
gration, and furnished an ever fresh supply of oxygen. It
animated the flames, and kept the kindled branches burning
like a myriad brands. The scattered fragments became new
centres for fresh outbreaks of flame; the scene of the fire
became larger, and the heat grew intense. The dead wood
piled under the dark foliage crackled, and ever and anon louder
reports and a brighter light told that the resinous trees were
burning like torches. Then followed explosions like can-
nonades, as the great trunks of ironwood burst asunder with
a reverberaâ€˜ion as of bombs. The sky reflected the glow, and
the clouds carried the rosy glare high aloft. Showers of sparks
emitted] from the wreaths of smoke studded the heavens like
â€œhen, on every side were heard the howls, shrieks, and bel-
g2 ADVENTURES IN THE
lowings of herds of bewildered hyenas, buffaloes, and lions;
elephants rushed in every direction, like huge dark spectres,
and disappeared beyond the horizon.
The fire continued throughout the following day and night;
and when day broke on the 14th, a vast space, several miles
wide, had been opened across the forest. A passage was
now free for the meridian. The daring genius of Mokoum
had arrested the disaster which threatened the survey.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 93
A DECLARATION OF WAR.
LL pretext for quarrelling being now removed, the
Colonel and Strux, somewhat rancorous at heart,
_ recommenced their joint labors. About five miles to the
left of the gap made by the conflagration, rose an eminence
which would serve as the vertex of a new triangle. When
the requisite observations were complete, the caravan set off
across the burnt forest.
The road was paved with embers. The soil was still burning,
and here and there smouldered stumps of trees, while a hot
steam rose around. In many places lay the blackened car-
casses of animals which had been unable to make their escape.
Wreaths of smoke gave evidence that the fire was not yet ex-
tinct, and might still be rekindled by the wind. Had the flames
burst out again the caravan must inevitably have been de-
Stroyed. Towards the middle of the day, however, it was
safely encamped at the foot of the hill, Here was a mass
of rock which seemed to have been arranged by the hand of
94 ADVENTURES IN THE
man. It was a kind of cromlech,â€”a surprising erection to
find in that locality, â€” resembling the structures attributed
to the Druids, and which ever furnish fresh interest to the
archeologist. The most credible suggestion was that it must
be the remains of some primitive African altar.
The two young astronomers and Sir John Murray wished
to visit the fantastic construction, and, accompanied by the
pushman, they ascended the slope. They were not above
twenty paces from the cromlech when a man, hitherto con-
cealed behind one of the massy stones at the base, appeared
for a moment, and, descending the hill, stole quickly away into
a thicket that had been untouched by the fire. The momentary
glance was enough for the bushman. â€œA Makololo!â€ he
cried, and rushed after the native. Sir John followed, and
both in vain searched the wood. The native, knowing the
short paths, had escaped where the most experienced hunter
could not have traced him. When the incident was related
to Colonel Everest he sent for Mokoum, and asked him who
the man was, what he was doing, and why he had followed
â€œHe is a Makololo, Colonel,â€ replied Mokoum. â€œHe be-
longs to one of the northern tribes that haunt the affluents of the
Zambese. Not only is he an enemy of us Boschjesmen, but he
is a plunderer of all who venture into the country; he was
spying us, and we shall be lucky if we have not cause to regret
that we couldnâ€™t get hold of him.â€
â€œBut what have we to fear from a band of robbers?â€ asked
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 95
the Colonel; â€œare not our numbers sufficient to resist them?â€
â€œAt present, yes,â€ replied the bushman; â€œbut in the North
these tribes are more frequent, and it is difficult to avoid
them. If this Makololo is a spy, as I suspect, he will not
fail in putting several hundred of these robbers on our track,
and then, Colonel, I would not give a farthing for all your
The Colonel was vexed. He knew that the bushman was
not the man to exaggerate danger, and that all he said ought
to be duly weighed. The intentions of the native were cer-
tainly suspicious; his sudden appearance and immediate
flight showed that he was caught deliberately spying. No
doubt he would announce the approach of the Commission
to the tribes of the North. There was, however, no help for
it now; the caravan must continue its march with extra pre- .
On the 17th of August the astronomers completed their
twenty-second triangle, and with it the third degree of the
meridian. Finding by the map that the village of Kolobeng
was about 100 miles to the north-east, they resolved to
turn thither for a few daysâ€™ rest. For nearly six months they
had had no communication with the civilized world, and at
Kolobeng, an important village and missionary station, they
would probably hear news from Europe, besides being able
to re-provision the caravan.
The remarkable cromlech was at once chosen as the land-
mark whence subsequent operations should commence, and
96 ADVENTURES IN THE
the Colonel gave the signal for departure. With no furthe
incident the caravan reached Kolobeng on the 22nd. The
village was merely a mass of native huts, the uniformity of
which was relieved by the depÃ©t of the missionaries who
had settled there. Formerly called LepelolÃ©, it is marked
on some maps Litoubarouka. Here Dr. Livingstone stayed
for some months in 1843, to learn the habits of the Bechuanas,
or Bakouins, as they are more generally termed in this part
of the country.
With all hospitality the missionaries received the Europeans,
and put every available resource at their disposal. Living-
stone's house was still to be seen, sacked and ruined, as
when visited by Baldwin; the BoÃ©rs had not spared it in
their incursion of 1852.
All eagerly asked for news from Europe; but their curiosity
could not be immediately satisfied, as no courier had reached
the mission in the last six months; but in about a week the
principal said they expected journals and despatches, since
they had already heard of the arrival of a carrier on the banks
of the Upper Zambese. A week was just the period that the
astronomers desired for their rest, and all except Palander,
who constantly revised his calculations, passed the time in
a complete far niente. The stern Matthew Strux held himself
aloof from his English colleagues, and Emery and Zorn took
many walks in the neighborhood. The firmest friendship
united these two, and they believed that nothing could break
the closeness of their sympathy.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 97
On the 3oth the eagerly-expected messenger arrived. He
was a native of Kilmaine, a town by the delta of the Zambese.
A merchantman from the Mauritius, trading in gum and ivory,
had landed on that coast early in July, and delivered the
despatches for the missionaries. The papers were dated two
months back, for the native had taken four weeks to ascend
On the arrival of the messenger, the principal of the mission
had handed to Colonel Everest a bundle of European newspa-
_ pers, chiefly the â€œTimes,â€ the â€œ Daily News,â€ and the â€œ Fournal
NR a St Sy
des DÃ©bats.â€ The intelligence they contained had, under the cir-
cumstances, a special importance, and produced an unexpected
emotion among the entire party.
The members of the Commission were all together in the
chief room of the mission. Colonel Everest drew out the
â€œDaily Newsâ€ for the 13th of May, with the intention of reading
aloud to his colleagues. Scarcely had he glanced at the first
leading article, when his brow contracted, and the paper trem-
bled in his hand. In a few moments he recovered his usual
â€œWhat does the paper say, Colonel?â€ asked Sir John.
â€œTt is grave news, gentlemen,â€ said the Colonel, â€œthat I have
He kept the paper in his hand, and his colleagues waited
eagerly for him to speak. To the surprise of all, he rose, and
advancing to Matthew Strux, said: â€”
-â€œ Before communicating the intelligence conveyed in this
paper, I would wish to make an observation to y
98 ADVENTURES IN THE
â€œT am ready to hear anything you may say,â€ said Strux
The Colonel then said, solemnly: â€”
â€œMr. Strux, hitherto there has been between us a rivalry
more personal than scientific, which has rendered our cooper-
ation in the common cause somewhat difficult. This, I
believe, is to be attributed to the fact of there being â€˜wo of
us at the head of this expedition. To avoid antagonism, there
should be only one chief to every enterprise. You agree
with me, do you not?â€
Strux bowed in assent. The Colonel went on: â€”
â€œThis position, unpleasant for each of us, must, through
recent circumstances, now be changed. First, sir, let me say
that I esteem you highly, as your position in the scientific
world demands. I beg you to believe that I regret all that has
passed between us.â€
These words were uttered with great dignity, even with
pride. There was no humiliation in the voluntary apology,
so nobly expressed, and neither Strux nor his colleagues could
guess his motive. Perhaps the Russian, not having the same
incentive, was not equally disposed to forget any personal
resentment. However, mastering his ill-feeling, he replied: â€”
â€œWith you, Colonel, I think that no rivalry on our part
should be permitted to injure the scientific work with which
we are entrusted. I likewise hold you in the esteem that your
talents deserve, and in future I will do all in my power to
efface any personality from our relations. But you spoke of
a change; I do not understandâ€ â€”
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 99
â€œVou will soon be made to understand, Mr. Strux,â€ replied
the Colonel, with a touch of sadness in his tone; â€œbut first
give me your hand.â€
-â€œ Here it is,â€ rejoined Strux, with a slight hesitation. With-
out another word the astronomers joined hands.
â€œ Now you are friends,â€ cried Sir John.
â€œ Alas! no,â€ said the Colonel, dropping the Russianâ€™s hand;
â€œhenceforth we are enemies, separated by an abyss which must
keep us apart even on the territory of science.â€
Then turning to his colleagues, be added : â€”
â€œGentlemen, war is declared between England and Russia.
See, the news is conveyed by these English, French, and Rus-
f And, in truth, the war of 1854 had begun. The English,
â€” with their allies the French and Turks, were fighting
.. before Sebastopol, and the Eastern question was being sub-
â€ mitted to the ordeal of a naval conflict on the Black Sea.
The Colonelâ€™s words fell like a thunderbolt. The English
and Russians, with their strong sentiment of nationality,
started to their feet. Those three words, â€œWar is declared,â€
were enough. They were no longer companions united in
acommon labor, but already eyed one another as avowed
antagonists. Such is the influence of these national duels
on the heart of man. An instinctive impulse had divided
a the Europeans, â€” Nicholas Palander himself yielding to the
feeling: Emery and Zorn alone regarded each other with more
of sadness than animosity, and regretted that they had not
100 ADVENTURES IN THE
shaken hands before Colonel Everestâ€™s communication. No
further conversation ensued; exchanging bows, English and
This novel situation, although it would not interrupt the
survey, would render its continuation more difficult. For
the interest of its country, each party desired to pursue the
operations; but the measurements must be carried along two
different meridians. In a formal interview subsequently ar-
ranged between the chiefs, it was decided by lot that the
Russians should continue the meridian already begun, while
the English should choose an arc 60 or 80 miles to the west,
and unite it to the first by a series of auxiliary triangles; they
would then continue their survey as far as latitude twenty degrees.
All these arrangements were made without any outbreak;
personal rivalry was swallowed up by national feeling, and the
Colonel and Strux did not exchange an uncivil word, but kept
within the strictest limits of politeness.
The caravan was equally divided, each party preserving its
own stores. The steamboat fell by lot to the Russians.
Mokoum, especially attached to Sir John, followed the
English caravan. The pioneer, equally experienced, headed
the Russians. Each party retained its instruments and one
of the registers, :
On the 31st of August the Commission divided. The
English cordially thanked the missionaries for their kind
hospitality, and started first to connect their last station with
their new meridian.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 101
If, before their departure, any one had entered the privacy
of the inner room, he would have seen Emery grasping the
hand of Zorn, once his friend, but now, by the will of their
Majesties the Queen of England and the Czar of Russia, no
longer friend but foe.
102 ADVENTURES IN THE
A GEOMETRIC PROGRESSION.
FTER the separation the English astronomers continued
their labors with the same care and precision as hitherto.
Three had now to do the work of six, and consequently the sur-
vey advanced more slowly, and was attended with more fatigue;
but they were not the-men to spare themselves; the desire that
the Russians should not surpass them in any way sustained them
wn their task, to which they gave all their time and thoughts.
Emery had to indulge in fewer reveries, and Sir John could not
so often spare his time for hunting. A new programme was
drawn up, assigning to each astronomer his proper share of the
labor. Sir John and the Colonel undertook all observations
both in the sky and in the field; while Emery replaced Palander
as calculator. All questions were derided in common, and there
was no longer any fear that disagreement should arise. Mo-
koum was still the guide and hunter to the caravan. The Eng-
lish sailors, who formed half the crew of the Qucen and Czar,
had, of course, followed their countrymen; and although the
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 103
Russians were in possession of the steam vessel, the India-rub-
ber boat, which was large enough for ordinary purposes, was the
property of the English. The provision-wagons were divided,
thus impartially ensuring the revictualling of each caravan. The
natives likewise had to be severed into two equal troops, not
without some natural signs of displeasure on their part; far from
their own pasturages and water-courses, in a region inhabited by
wandering tribes hostile to the tribes of the South, they could
scarcely be reconciled to the prospect of separation. But at
length, by the help of the bushman and the pioneer, who told
them that the two detachments would be comparatively a short
distance apart, they consented to the arrangement.
On leaving Kolobeng the English caravan re-entered the
burnt forest and arrived at the cromlech which had served for
their last station. Operations were resumed, and a large trian-
gle carried the observers at once ten or twelve miles to the west
of the old meridian.
Six days later the auxiliary series of triangles was finished,
and Colonel Everest and his colleagues, after consulting the
maps, chose the new arc one degree west of the other, being
23 degrees east of the meridian of Greenwich. They were not
more than sixty miles from the Russians, but this distance put
any Collision between the two parties out of the question, as it
was improbable that their triangles would cross.
All through September the weather was fine and clear. The
country was fertile and varied, but scantily populated. The for-
ests, which were few, being broken by wide, open tracts, and
104 ADVENTURES IN THE
with occasional mounds occurring in the prairies, made the dis-
trict extremely favorable for the observations. The region was
well provided with natural productions. The sweet scent of
many of the flowers attracted swarms of scarabxi, and more
especially a kind of bee as nearly as possible like the European,
depositing in clefts of rocks and holes of trees a white liquid
honey with a delicious flavor. Occasionally at night large. ani-
mals ventured near the camp; there were giraffes, varieties of
antelopes, hyenas, rhinoceroses, and elephants. But Sir John
- would not be distracted; he resolutely discarded his rifle for his
Under these circumstances, Mokoum and some of the natives
became purveyors to the caravan, and Sir John had some diffi-
culty in restraining his excitement when he heard the report of
their guns. The bushman shot three prairie-buffaloes, the Bo-
kolokolos of the Bechuanas, formidable animals, with glossy
black skins, short strong legs, fierce eyes, and small heads
crowned with thick black horns. They were a welcome addi-
tion to the fresh venison which formed the ordinary fare.
The natives prepared the buffalo-meat as the Indians of the
North do their pemmican. The Europeans watched their pro-
ceedings with interest, though at first with some repugnance.
The flesh, after being cut into thin slices and dried in the sun,
was wrapped in a tanned skin, and beaten with flails till it was
reduced to a powder. It was then pressed tightly into leathern
sacks, and moistened with boiling tallowy suet collected from
the animal itself. To this they added some marrow and ber-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 105
ries, whose saccharine matter modified the nitrous elements of
the meat. This compound, after being mixed and beaten,
formed, when cold, a cake as hard as a stone. Mokoum, who
considered his pemmican a national delicacy, begged the as-
tronomers to taste the preparation. At first they found it ex-
tremely unpalatable, but, becoming accustomed to the flavor,
they soon learnt to partake of it with great relish. Highly
nourishing, and not at all likely to be tainted, containing, more-
over, its nutritive elements closely compacted, this pemmican
was exactly suited to meet the wants of a caravan travelling in
an unknown country. The bushman soon had several hundred
_ pounds in reserve, and they were thus secure from any imme-
Days and nights passed away in observations. Emery was
always thinking of his friend, and deploring the fate which had
so suddenly severed the bond of their friendship. He had no
one to sympathize with his admiration of the wild characteris-
tics of the scenery, and, with something of Palanderâ€™s enthusi-
asm, found refuge in his calculations. Colonel Everest was
cold and calm as ever, exhibiting no interest in anything beyond
his professional pursuits. As for Sir John, he suppressed his
murmurs, but sighed over the loss of his freedom. Fortune,
however, sometimes made amends; for although he had no
leisure for hunting, the wild beasts occasionally took the initia-
tive, and came near, interrupting his observations. He then con-
sidered defence legitimate, and rejoiced to be able to make the
duties of the astronomer and of the hunter to be compatible.
106 ADVENTURES IN THE
One day he had a serious rencontre with an old rhinoceros,
which cost him â€œrather dear.â€ For some time the animal had
been prowling about the flanks of the caravan. By the black-
ness of his skin Mokoum had recognized the â€œchucuroo â€ (such
is the native for this animal), as a dangerous beast, and one
which, more agile than the white species, often attacks man and
beast without any provocation.
On this day Sir John and Mokoum had set off to reconnoitre
a hill six miles away, on which the Colonel wished to establish
an indicating-post. With a certain foreboding, Sir John had
brought his rifle with conical shot instead of his ordinary gun;
for although the rhinoceros had not been seen for two days, yet
he did not consider it advisable to traverse unarmed an unknown
country. Mokoum and his companions had already unsuccess-
fully chased the beast, which probably now had abandoned its
designs. There was no reason to regret the precaution. The
adventurers had reached the summit of the hill, when at the
base, close to a thicket, of no large extent, appeared the chucu-
roo. He was a formidable animal; his small eyes sparkled, and
his horns, planted firmly one over the other on his bony nose,
furnished a most powerful weapon of attack.
The bushman caught sight of him first, as he crouched about
half a mile distant in a grove of lentisk.
â€œSir John,â€ he cried, â€œfortune favors you: here is your chu-
â€œThe rhinoceros!â€ exclaimed Sir John, with kindling eyes,
for he had never before been so near the animal.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH, 107
â€œYes; a magnificent beast, and he seems inclined to cut off
our retreat,â€ said the bushman. â€œWhy he should attack us, I
can hardly say; his tribe is not carnivorous: but any way, there
he is, and we must hunt him out.â€
â€œTs it possible for him to get up here to us?â€ asked Sir John.
â€œNo; his legs are too short and thick, but he will wait.â€
â€œWell, let him wait,â€ said Sir John; â€œand when we have ex-
amined this station, we will try and get him out.â€
â€˜They then proceeded with their reconnoitring, and chose a
spot on which to erect the indicating-post. They also noticed
other eminences to the north-west which would be of use in con-
structing a subsequent triangle.
Their work ended, Sir John turned to the bushman, saying,
â€œWhen you like, Mokoum.â€
â€œIam at your orders, Sir John: the rhinoceros is still wait-
â€œWell, let us go down. A ball from my rifle will soon settle
â€œA ball!â€ cried Mokoum; â€œyou donâ€™t know a rhinoceros.
He wonâ€™t fall with one ball, however well it may be aimed.â€
â€œNonsense!â€ began Sir John; â€œ that is because people donâ€™t
use conical shot.â€
â€œConical or round,â€ rejoined the bushman, â€œthe first will not
bring down such an animal as that.â€
â€œWell,â€ said Sir John, carried away by his self-confidence,
â€œas you have your doubts, I will show you what our European
Weapons can do.â€
108 ADVENTURES IN THE
And he loaded his rifle, to be ready to take aim as soon as he
should be at a convenient distance.
â€œOne moment, Sir John,â€ said the bushman, rather piqued;
â€œwill you bet with me?â€
â€œ Certainly,â€ said Sir John.
â€œT am only a poor man,â€ continued Mokoum, â€œbut I will
willingly bet you half-a-crown against your first ball.â€
â€œDone!â€ replied Sir John, instantly. â€œ Half-a-crown to you
if the rhinoceros doesnâ€™t fall to my first shot.â€ ,
The hunters descended the steep slope, and were soon posted
within range of the rhinoceros. The beast was perfectly mo-
tionless, and on that account presented an easy aim.
Sir John thought his chance so good, that at the last moment
he turned to Mokoum and said : â€”
â€œDo you keep to your bargain?â€
â€œYes,â€ replied the bushman.
The rhinoceros still being as motionless as a target, Sir John
could aim wherever he thought the blow would be mortal. He
chose the muzzle, and, his pride being roused, he aimed with the
utmost care, and fired. The ball failed in reaching the flesh; it
had merely shattered to fragments the extremity of one of the
horns. The animal did not appear to experience the slightest
â€œThat counts nothing,â€ said the bushman; â€œyou didnâ€™t touch
â€œ Yes, it counts,â€ replied Sir John, rather vexed; â€œI have lost
my wager. But come now, double or quits?â€
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 109
â€œ As you please, Sir John, but you will lose.â€
â€œ We shall see.â€
The rifle was carefully reloaded, and Sir John, taking rather
a random aim, fired a second time; but meeting the horny skin
of the haunch, the ball, notwithstanding its force, fell to the
ground. The rhinoceros moved a few steps.
â€œ A crown to me,â€ said Mokoum.
â€œ Will you stake it again?â€ asked Sir John, â€œ double or quits.â€
â€œ By all means,â€ said Mokoum.
This time Sir John, who had begun to get angry, regained his
composure, and aimed at the animalâ€™s forehead. The ball re-
bounded, as if it had struck a metal plate.
â€œ Half-a-sovereign,â€ said the bushman, calmly.
â€œVes, and another,â€ cried Sir John, exasperated.
The shot penetrated the skin, and the rhinoceros made a tre-
mendous bound; but instead of falling, he rushed furiously
upon the bushes, which he tore and crushed violently.
â€œT think he still moves,â€ said the bushman, quietly.
Sir John was beside himself; his composure again deserted
him, and he risked the sovereign he owed the bushman ona
fifth ball. He continued to lose again and again, but persisted
in doubling the stake at every shot. At length the animal,
pierced to the heart, fell, impotent to rise to its feet.
Sir John uttered a loud hurrah; he had killed his rhinoceros.
He had forgotten his disappointment, but he did not forget his
bets. It was startling to find that the perpetually redoubled
stakes had mounted at the ninth shot to 32/ Sir John con-
110 ADVENTURES IN THE
gratulated himself on his escape from such a debt of honor;
but in his enthusiasm he presented Mokoum with several
gold pieces, which the bushman received with his usual equa-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. i111
DANGER IN DISGUISE.
YY the end of September the astronomers had accomplished
half their task. Their diminished numbers added to their
fatigue, so that, notwithstanding their zeal, they occasionally
had to recruit themselves by resting for several days. The
_ heat was very overpowering. October in latitude 24 degrees
South, corresponds to April in Algeria, and for some hours
after mid-day work was impossible. The bushman was alone
â€˜ -uneasy at the delay, for he was aware that the arc was about to
pass through a singular region called a â€œkarroo,â€ similar to
that at the foot of the Roggeveld mountains in Cape Colony.
In the damp season this district presents signs of the greatest
fertility; after a few days of rain the soil is covered with a
dense verdure; in a very short time flowers and plants spring
up everywhere; pasturage increases, and water-courses are
formed; troops of antelopes descend from the heights and take
' possession of these unexpected prairies. But this strange effort
of nature is of short duration. In a month, or six weeks at
II2 ADVENTURES IN THE
most, all the moisture is absorbed by the sun; the soil becomes
hardened, and chokes the fresh germs; vegetation disappears in
a few days; the animals fly the region; and where for a while
there was a rich fertility, the desert again asserts its
This karroo had to be crossed before reaching the permanent
desert bordering on Lake Ngami. The bushman was naturally
eager to traverse this region before the extreme aridity should
have exhausted the springs. He explained his reasons to the
Colonel, who perfectly understood, and promised to hurry on the
work, without suffering its precision to be affected. Since, on
account of the state of the atmosphere, measuring was not
always practicable, the operations were not unfrequently
retarded, and the bushman became seriously concerned lest
when they reached the karroo its character of fertility should
_ have disappeared.
Meanwhile the astronomers could not fail to appreciate the
magnificence around. Never had they been in a finer country.
In spite of the high temperature, the streams kept up a con-
stant freshness, and thousands of flocks would have found
inexhaustible pasturage. Clumps of luxuriant trees rose here
and there, giving the prospect at times the appearance of an
Colonel Everest was comparatively indifferent to these beau-
ties, but the others were fully alive to the romantic aspect of
this temporary relief to the African deserts. Emery now
especially regretted the alienation of his friend Zorn, and often
â€œEmery was thrown down.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 113
thought how they would have mutually delighted in the charm-
ing scenery around them.
The advance of the caravan was enlivened by the movements
as well as by the song-notes of a variety of birds. Some of
these were edible, and the hunters shot some brace of
â€œkorans,â€ a sort of bustard peculiar to the South African
plains, and some â€œ dikkops,â€ whose flesh is very delicate eating.
They were frequently followed by voracious crows, instinctively
seeking to avert attention from their eggs in their nests of sand.
In addition to these, blue cranes with white throats, red flamin-
goes, like flames in the thinly scattered brushwood, herons,
curlews, snipes, â€œkalas,â€ often perching on a buffaloâ€™s neck,
plovers, ibises, which might have flown from some hieroglyphic
obelisk, hundreds of enormous pelicans marching in file, â€” all
were observed to find congenial habitats in this district, where
man alone is the stranger. But of all the varieties of the
feathered race, the most noticeable was the ingenious weaver-
bird, whose green nests, woven with rushes and blades of grass,
hung like immense pears from the branches of the willows.
Emery, taking them for a new species of fruit, gathered one or
two, and was much surprised to hear them twitter like sparrows.
There seemed some excuse for the ancient travellers in Africa,
who reported that certain trees in the country bore fruit produc-
ing living birds.
The karroo was reached while still it was lovely in its ver-
dure. Gnus, with their pointed hoofs, caamas, elks, chamois,
and gazelles abounded. Sir John could not resist the tempta-
114 ADVENTURES IN THE
tion to obtain two daysâ€™ leave from the Colonel, which he
devoted with all his energy to his favorite pastime. Under the
guidance of the bushman, while Emery accompanied as an ama-
teur, he obtained many a success to inscribe in his journal, and
many a trophy to carry back to his Highland home. His hand,
skilful with the delicate instruments of the survey, was at home
still more on his gun; and his eye, keen to discern the remotest
of stars, was quick to detect the merest movement of a gazelle.
It was ever with something of self-denial that he laid aside the
character of the hunter to resume the duties of the astronomer.
The bushmanâ€™s uneasiness was ere long renewed. On the sec-
ond day of Sir Johnâ€™s interval of recreation, Mokoum had espied,
nearly two miles to the right, a herd of about twenty of the
species of antelope known as the oryx. He told Sir John at
once, and advised him to take advantage of the fortune that
awaited him, adding that the oryx was extremely difficult to
capture, and could outstrip the fleetest horse, and that Cunning
himself had not brought down more than four.
This was more than enough to arouse the Englishman. He
chose his best gun, his best horse, and his best dogs, and, in
his impatience preceding the bushman, he turned towards the
copse bordering the plain where the antelopes had been seen.
In an hour they reined in their horses, and Mokoum, concealed
by a grove of sycamores, pointed out to his companion the
herd grazing several hundred paces to leeward. He remarked
that one oryx kept apart.
â€œ He is a sentinel,â€ he said; â€œand doubtless cunning enough.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. IIs
At the slightest danger, he will give his signal, and the whole
troop will make their escape. We must fire from a long dis-
tance, and hit at the first shot.â€ (
Sir John nodded in reply, and sought for a favorable posi-
The oryxes continued quietly grazing. The sentinel, as
though the breeze had brought suspicions of danger, often
raised his head, and looked warily around. But he was too far
away for the hunters to fire at him with success, and to chase
the herd over the plain was out of the question. The only
hope of a lucky issue was that the herd might approach the
Fortune seemed propitious. Gradually following the lead of
the sentinel male, the herd drew near the wood, their instinct,
perchance, making them aware that it was safer than the plain.
When their direction was seen, the bushman asked his compan-
ion to dismount. The horses were tied to a sycamore, and
their heads covered to secure them from taking alarm.
Followed by the dogs, the hunters glided through the creepers
and brushwood till they were within three hundred paces of the
troop. Then, crouching in ambush, and waiting with loaded
guns, they could admire the beauty of the animals. By a
strange freak of nature, the females were armed with horns
more formidable than those of the males. The whole herd
approached the wood, and awhile remained stationary. The
sentinel oryx, as it seemed, was urging them to leave the plain;
he appeared to be driving them, something like a sheep-collie
116 ADVENTURES IN THE
congregates a flock, into a compact mass. The herd seemed
strangely indifferent, and indisposed to submit to the guidance
of their leader. The bushman was perplexed; he could not
understand the relative movements of the sentinel and the
Sir John began to get impatient. He fidgetted with his rifle,
sometimes wanting to fire, sometimes to advance; and the bush-
man had some trouble to restrain him. An hour passed away
in this manner, when suddenly one of the dogs gave a ioud
bark, and rushed toward the plain. The bushman felt angry
enough to send a ball into the excited brute. The oryxes fled,
and Sir John saw at once that pursuit was useless; in a few sec-
onds they were no more than black specks in the grass. But
to the bushmanâ€™s astonishment it was not the old male which
had given the signal for flight. The oryx remained in its place,
without attempting to follow, and only tried to hide in the
â€œStrange,â€ said the bushman; â€œwhat ails the creature? Is
he hurt, or crippled with age?â€
â€œWe shall soon see,â€ said Sir John, advancing toward the
The oryx crouched more and more in the grass; only the tips
of his long horns were visible above the surface; but as he did
not try to escape, Sir John could easily get near him. When
within a hundred paces he took aim, and fired. The ball had
struck the head, for the horns sunk into the grass. The hunters
tan hastily to the spot. The bushman held in his hand his
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 117
hunting-knife, in case the animal should still live. This precau-
tion was unnecessary; the oryx was so dead, that when Sir John
' took hold of the horns, he pulled nothing but an empty, flabby
skin, containing not so much as a bone.
â€œBy St. Andrew! these things happen to no one but me,â€ he
cried, in a tone so comical that any one but the immovable
Mokoum would have laughed outright. But Mokoum did not
even smile. His compressed lips and contracted brow showed
_him to be utterly bewildered. With his arms crossed, he looked
quickly right and left. :
Suddenly he caught sight of a little red leather bag, orna-
mented with arabesques, on the ground, which he picked up and
â€œWhatâ€™s that?â€ asked Sir John.
â€œA Makololoâ€™s pouch,â€ replied Mokoum.,
â€œ How did it get there?â€
â€œThe owner let it fall as he fled.â€
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
â€œI mean,â€ said Mokoum, clenching his fists, â€œthat the Mako-
lolo was in the oryx skin, and you have missed him.â€
Sir John had not time to express his astonishment, when
Mckoum, observing a movement in the distance, with all speed
seized his gun and fired.
He and Sir John hastened to the suspected spot. But the
place was empty: they could perceive by the trampled grass
that some one had just been there; but the Makololo was gone,
and it was useless to think of pursuit across the prairie.
118 ADVENTURES IN THE
The two hunters returned, much discomposed. The presence
of a Makololo at the cromlech, together with his disguise, not
unfrequently adopted by oryx hunters, showed that he had sys-
tematically followed the caravan. It was not without design
that he was keeping watch upon the Europeans and their escort.
The more they advanced to the north, the greater danger there
would be of being attacked by the plunderers.
Emery was inclined to banter Sir John on his return from his
holiday without booty; but Sir John replied :â€”
â€œT hadnâ€™t a chance, William; the first oryx I hunted was dead
before I shot at him.â€
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 119
AN UNEXPECTED BLIGHT.
FTER the oryx hunt the bushman had a long conversa-
tion with the Colonel. He felt sure, he said, that they
were watched and followed, and that the only reason why
they had not been attacked before was because the Makololos
wished to get them farther north, where their hordes were
larger. The question thus arose whether, in presence of this
danger, they should retrace their steps; but they were reluctant
to suffer that which nature had favored to be interrupted by
the attacks of a few African savages. The Colonel, aware
of the importance of the question, asked the bushman to tell
him all he knew about the Makololos.
Mokoum explained that they were the most northerly
branch of the great tribe of the Bechuanas. In 1850 Dr.
Livingstone, during his first journey to the Zambese, was
received at Sesheki, the usual residence of Sebitouani, the
chief of the Makololos. This native was a man of remarkable
intelligence, and a formidable warrior. In 1824 he had
-menaced the Cape frontier, and, little by little, had gained
120 ADVENTURES IN THE
an ascendency over the tribes of Central Africa, and had
united them in a compact group. In the year before the
arrival of the Anglo-Russian expedition the chief had died
in Livingstoneâ€™s arms, and his son Sekeleton succeeded him.
At first Sekeleton was very friendly toward the Europeans
who visited the Zambese, and Dr. Livingstone had no com-
plaint to make. But after the departure of the famous
traveller, not only strangers but-the neighboring tribes were
harassed by Sekeleton and his warriors. To these vexations
succeeded pillage on a large scale, and the Makololos scoured
the district between Lake Ngami and the Upper Zambese.
Consequently nothing was more dangerous than for a caravan
to venture across this region without a considerable escort,
especially when its progress had been previously known.
Such was the history given by Mokoum. He said that
he thought it right to tell the Colonel the whole truth, adding,
that for his own part (if the Colonel so wished), he should
not hesitate to continue the march.
Colonel Everest consulted with his colleagues, and it was
settled that the work, at all risks, should be continued. Some-
thing more than half of the project was now accomplished,
and, whatever happened, the English owed it to themselves
and their country not to abandon their undertaking. The
series of triangles was resumed. On the 27th the tropic of
Capricorn was passed, and on the 3rd of November, with the
completion of the forty-first triangle, a fifth degree was added
to the meridian.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 121
For a month the survey went on rapidly, without meeting a
single natural obstacle. Mokoum, always on the alert, kept
a constant lookout at the head and flanks of the caravan, and
forbade the hunters to venture too great a distance away. No
immediate danger, however, seemed to threaten the little
troop, and they were sanguine that the bushmanâ€™s fears might
prove groundless. There was no further trace of the native
who, after eluding them at the cromlech, had taken so strange
a part in the oryx chase: nor did any other aggressor appear.
Still, at various intervals, the bushman observed signs of trepi-
â€˜dation among the Boschjesmen under his command. The
incidents of the flight from the old cromlech, and the â€˜strata-
gem of the oryx hunt, could not be concealed from them, and
they were perpetually expecting an attack. A deadly antipathy
existed between tribe and tribe, and, in the event of a col-
lision, the defeated party could entertain no hope of mercy.
The Boschjesmen were already 300 miles from their home, and
there was every prospect of their being carried 200 more. It is
_ true that, before engaging them, Mokoum had been careful to
inform them of the length and difficulties of the journey, and
they were not men to shrink from fatigue; but now, when to
these was added the danger of a conflict with implacable ene-
mies, regret was mingled with murmuring, and dissatisfaction
was exhibited with ill-humor, and although Mokoum pretended
neither to hear nor to see, he was silently conscious of: an
On the 2nd of December a circumstance occurred which
122 ADVENTURES IN THE
still further increased the spirit of complaint amongst this
superstitious people, and provoked them to a kind of rebellion.
Since the previous evening the weather had become dull. The
atmosphere, saturated with vapor, gave signs of being heavily
charged with electric fluid. There was every prospect of the
recurrence of one of the storms which in this tropical district
are seldom otherwise than violent. During the morning the
sky became covered with sinister-looking clouds, piled together
like bales of down of contrasted colors, the yellowish hue
distinctly relieving the masses of dark gray. The sun was
wan, the heat was overpowering, and the barometer fell rap-
idly; the air was so still that not a leaf fluttered.
Although the astronomers had not been unconscious of the
change of weather, they had not thought it necessary to sus-
pend their labors. Emery, attended by two sailors and four
natives in charge of a wagon, was sent two miles east of
the meridian to establish a post for the vertex of the next
triangle. He was occupied in securing his point of sight,
when a current of cold air caused a rapid condensation, which
appeared to contribute immediately to a development of elec-
tric matter. Instantly there fell a violent shower of hail,
and by a rare phenomenon the hail-stones were luminous,
so that it seemed to be raining drops of boiling silver. The
storm increased; sparks flashed from the ground, and jets of
light gleamed from the iron settings of the wagon. Dr.
Livingstone relates that he has seen tiles broken, and horses
atid antelopes killed, by the violence of these hail-storms.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 123
Without losing a moment, Emery left his work for the
purpose of calling his men to the wagon, which would afford
better shelter than a tree. But he had hardly left the top of
the hill, when a dazzling flash, instantly followed by a peal
of thunder, inflamed the air.
Emery was thrown down, and lay prostrate, as though he
were actually dead. The two sailors, dazzled for a moment,
were not long in rushing toward him, and were relieved to
find that the thunderbolt had spared him. He had been
enveloped by the fluid, which, collected by the compass which
he held in his hand, had been diverted in its course, so as to
leave him not seriously injured. Raised by the sailors, he
soon came to himself; but he had narrowly escaped. Two
natives, twenty paces apart, lay lifeless at the foot of the post.
One had been struck by the full force of the thunderbolt,
and was a black and shattered corpse, while his clothes
remained entire; the other had been locally struck on the
skull by thÃ© destructive fluid, and had been killed at once. The
â€˜three men had been undeniably struck by a single flash. This
trisection of a flash of lightning is an unusual but not unknown
Occurrence, and the angular division was very large. The
Boschjesmen were at first overwhelmed by the sudden death of
their comrades, but soon, in spite of the cries of the sailors
and at the risk of being struck themselves, they rushed back
to the camp. The two sailors, having first provided for the
Protection of Emery, conveyed the two dead bodies to the
Wagon, and then found shelter for themselves, being sorely Â°
124 ADVENTURES IN THE
bruised by the hailstones, which fell like a shower of marbles.
For three-quarters of an hour the storm continued to rage;
the hail then abated so as to allow the wagon to return to
The news of the death of the natives had preceded them,
and had produced a deplorable effect on the minds of the
Boschjesmen, who already looked upon the trigonometrical
operations with the terror of superstition. They assembled
in secret council, and some more timid than the rest declared
they would go no farther. The rebellious disposition began
to look serious, and it took all the bushmanâ€™s influence to arrest
an actual revolt. Colonel Everest offered the poor men an
increase of pay; but contentment was not to be restored
without much trouble. It was a matter of emergency; had
the natives deserted, the position of the caravan, without escort
and without drivers, would have been perilous in the extreme.
Aâ€˜ length, however, the difficulty was overcome, and after the
burial of the natives, the camp was raised, and the little troop
proceeded to the hill where the two had met their death.
Emery felt the shock for some days: his left hand, which had
held the compass, was almost paralyzed; but after a time it
recovered, and he was able to resume his work.
Tor eighteen days no special incident occurred. The Mako-
lolos did not appear, and Mokoum, though still distrustful,
exlibited fewer indications of alarm. They were not more
than 4fty miles from the desert; and the karroo was still ver-
dant, and enriched by abundant water. They thought that
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH, 125
neither man nor beast could want for anything in this region
so rich in game and pasturage; but they had reckoned without
the locusts, against whose appearance there is no security in
the agricultural districts of South Africa.
On the evening of the zoth, about an hour before sunset, the
camp was arranged for the night. A light northerly breeze
refreshed the atmosphere. The three Englishmen and Mo-
koum, resting at the foot of a tree, discussed their plans for
the future. It was arranged that during the night the astrono-
mers should take the altitude of some stars, in order accurately
to find their latitude. Everything seemed favorable for the
operations; in a cloudless sky the moon was nearly new, and
the constellations might be expected to be clear and resplen-
dent. Great was the disappointment, therefore, when Emery,
rising and pointing to the north, said: â€”
â€œThe horizon is overcast: I begin to fear our anticipations
of a fine night will hardly be verified.â€
â€œYes,â€ replied Sir John. â€œI see a cloud is rising, and if
the wind should freshen, it might overspread the sky.â€
â€œThere is not another storm coming, I hope,â€ interposed the
â€œWe are in the tropics,â€ said Emery, â€œand it would not be
surprising; for to-night I begin to have misgivings about our
â€œWhat is your opinion, Mokoum?â€ asked the Colonel of the
Mokoum looked attentively toward the north. The cloud
126 ADVENTURES IN THE
was bounded by a long clear curve, as definite as though traced
by a pair of compasses. It marked off a section of some
miles on the horizon, and its appearance, black as smoke,
seemed to excite the apprehensions of the bushman. At
times it reflected a reddish light from the setting sun, as
though it were rather a solid mass than any collection ot
vapor. Without direct reply to the Colonelâ€™s appeal, Mokoum
simply said that it was strange.
In a few minutes one of the Boschjesmen announced that
the horses and cattle showed signs of agitation, and would not
be driven to the interior of the camp.
â€œWell, let them stay outside,â€ said Mokoum; and in answer
to the suggestion that there would be danger from the wild
beasts around, he added, significantly, â€œOh, the wild beasts
will be too much occupied to pay any attention to them.â€
After the native had gone back, Colonel Everest turned to
ask what the bushman meant; but he had moved away, and
was absorbed in watching the advance of the cloud, of which,
too accurately, he was aware of the origin.
The dark mass approached. It hung low and appeared to
be but a few hundred feet from the ground. Mingling with
the sound of the wind was heard a peculiar rustling, which
seemed to proceed from the cloud itself. At this moment,
above the cloud against the sky, appeared thousands of black
specks, fluttering up and down, plunging in and out, and break-
ing the distinctness of the outline.
â€œWhat are those moving specks of black?â€ asked Sir John.
A strange cloud.â€” Page 126,
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 127
â€œThey are vultures, eagles, falcons, and kites,â€ answered
Mokoum; â€œfrom afar they have followed the cloud, and will
never leave it until it is destroyed or dispersed.â€
â€œBut the cloud?â€
â€œTt is not a cloud at all,â€™ answered the bushman, extending
his hand toward the sombre mass, which by this time had
spread over a quarter of the sky. â€œIt is a living host; to say
the truth, it is a swarm of locusts.â€
The hunter was not mistaken. The Europeans were about
to witness one of those terrible invasions of grasshoppers
which are unhappily too frequent, and in one night change
the most fertile country into an arid desert. These locusts,
now arriving by millions, were the â€œgrylli devastoriiâ€ of the
naturalists, and travellers have seen for a distance of fifty miles
the beach covered with piles of these insects to the height
of four feet.
â€œYes,â€ continued the bushman, â€œthese living clouds are
a true scourge to the country, and it will be lucky if we escape
â€œBut we have no crops and pasturages of our own,â€ said
the Colonel; â€œwhat have we to fear?â€
â€œNothing, if they merely pass over our heads; everything,
if they settle on the country over which we must travel. They
will not leave a leaf on the trees, nor a blade of grass on the
ground; and you forget, Colonel, that if our own sustenance
is secure, that of our animals is not. What do you suppose
will become of us in the middle of a devastated district?â€
128 ADVENTURES IN THE
The astronomers were silent for a time, and contemplated
the animated mass before them. The cries of the eagles and
â€˜falcons, who were devouring the insects by thousands, sounded
above the redoubled murmur.
â€œDo you think they will settle here?â€ said Emery.
â€œT fear so,â€ answered Mokoum; â€œthe wind carries them here
direct. The sun is setting, and the fresh evening breeze will
bear them down; should they settle on the trees, bushes, and
prairies, why, then, I tels youâ€” ;â€ but the bushman could not
finish his sentence. In an instant the enormous cloud which
overshadowed them settled on the ground. Nothing could be
seen as far as the horizon but the thickening mass. The camp
was bestrewed; wagons and tents alike were veiled beneath the
living hail. The Englishmen, moving knee-deep in the insects,
crushed them by hundreds at every step.
Although there was no lack of agencies at work for their
destruction, their aggregate defied all check. The birds, with
hoarse cries, darted down from above, and devoured them
greedily; from below, the snakes consumed them in enormous
quantities; the horses, buffaloes, mules and dogs fed on them
with great relish; and lions and hyenas, elephants and rhi-
noceroses, swallowed them down by bushels. The very
Boschjesmen welcomed these â€œshrimps of the airâ€ like ccles-
tial manna; the insects even preyed on each other, but their
numbers still resisted all sources of destruction.
The bushman entreated the English to taste the dainty.
Thousands of young locusts, of a green color, an inch to an
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 129
inch and a half long, and about as thick as a quill, were
caught. Before they have deposited their eggs, they are con-
sidered a great delicacy by connoisseurs, and are more tender
than the old insects, which are of a yellowish tinge, and some-
times measure four inches in length. After half an hourâ€™s
boiling and seasoning with salt, pepper and vinegar, the bush-
man served up a tempting dish to the three Englishmen. The
insects, dismembered of head, legs, and skin, were eaten just
like shrimps, and were found extremely savory. Sir John,
who ate some hundreds, recommended his people to take ad-
vantage of the opportunity to make a large provision.
At night they were all about to seek their usual beds; but
the interior of the wagons had not escaped the invasion. It
was impossible to enter without crushing the locusts, and to
sleep under such conditions was not an agreeable prospect.
Accordingly, as the night was clear and the stars bright, the
astronomers were rejoiced to pursue their contemplated opera-
â€˜tions, and deemed it more pleasant than burying themselves
to the neck in a coverlet of locusts. Moreover, they would not
have had a momentâ€™s sleep, on account of the howling of the
beasts which were attracted by their unusual prey.
The next day the sun rose in a clear horizon, and commenced
its course over a brilliant sky foreboding heat. A dull rustling
of scales among the locusts showed that they were about to
carry their devastations elsewhere; and towards eight o'clock
the mass rose like the unfurling of an immense veil, and ob-
Scured the sun. It grew dusk as if night were returning, and
130 ADVENTURES IN THE
with the freshening of the wind the whole mass was in motion.
For two hours, with a deafening noise, the cloud passed over
the darkened camp, and disappeared beyond the western
After their departure the bushmanâ€™s predictions were found
to be entirely realized. All was demolished, and the soil was
brown and bare. Every branch was stripped to utter naked-
ness. It was like a sudden winter settling in the height of
summer, or like the dropping of a desert into the midst of a
land of plenty. The Oriental proverb which describes the de-
vastating fury of the Osmanlis might justly be applied to these
locusts, â€œWhere the Turk â€˜has passed, the grass springs up
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. I3aI
T was, indeed, no better than a desert which now lay before
the travellers. When, on the 25th of December, they com-
pleted the measurement of another degree, and reached the
northern boundary of the karroo, they found no difference be-
tween the district they had been traversing and the new country,
. the real desert, arid and scorching, over which they were now
about to pass. The animals belonging to the caravan suffered
greatly from the dearth alike of pasturage and water. The last
drops of rain in the pools had dried up, and it was an acrid
soil, a mixture of clay and sand, very unfavorable to vegetation.
The waters of the rainy season filtered quickly through the
Sandy strata, so that the region was incapable of preserving, for
any length of time, a particle of moisture. More than once has
Dr. Livingstone carried his adventurous explorations across one
of these barren districts. The very atmosphere was so dry,
that iron left in the open air did not rust, and the distinguished
traveller relates that the leaves hung weak and shrivelled; that
the mimosas remained closed by day as well as by night; that
132. ADVENTURES IN THE
the scarabzi, laid on the ground, expired in a few seconds; and
that the mercury in the ball of a thermometer buried three
inches in the soil rose at mid-day to 134 degrees Fahrenheit.
These records which Livingstone had made were now verified
by the astronomers between the karroo and Lake Ngami. The
suffering and fatigue, especially of the animals, continually in-
creased, and the dry dusty grass afforded them but little nourish-
ment. Nothing ventured on the desert; the birds had flown be-
yond the Zambese for fruit and flowers, and the wild beasts
shunned the plain which offered them no prey. During the first
fortnight in January, the hunters caught sight of a few couples
of those antelopes which are able to exist without water for
several weeks. There were some oryxes like those in whose
pursuit Sir John had sustained so great a disappointment, and
there were, besides, some dappled, soft-eyed caamas, which vent-
ure beyond the green pasturages, and which are much esteemed
for the quality of their flesh.
To travel under that burning sun through the stifling atmos-
phere, to work for days and nights in the oppressive sultriness,
was fatiguing in the extreme. The reserve of water evaporated
continuously, so they were obliged to ration themselves to a
painfully limited allowance. However, such were their zeal and
courage that they mastered all their troubles, and not a single
detail of their task was neglected. On the 25th of January
they completed their seventh degree, the number of triangles
constructed having amounted to fifty-seven.
Only a comparatively small portion of the desert had now to
LAND UF THE BEHEMOTH. 133
be traversed, and the bushman thought that they would be able
to reach Lake Ngami before thÃ©ir provision was exhausted.
The Colonel and his companions thus had definite hopes, and
were inspirited to persevere. But the hired Boschjesmen, who
knew nothing of any scientific ardor, and who had been long
- ago reluctant to pursue their journey, could hardly be encour-
aged to hold out: unquestionably they suffered greatly, and
- were objects for commiseration. Already, too, some beasts of
burden, overcome by hard work and scanty food, had been left
behind, and it was to be feared that more would fall into the
same helpless condition. Mokoum had a difficult task to per-
â€˜form, and as murmurs and recriminations increased, his influence
- More and more lost its weight. It became evident that the
want of water would be a serious obstacle, and that the expedi-
tion must either retrace its steps, or, at the risk of meeting the
Russians, turn to the right of the meridian, to seek some of the
villages which were known to be scattered along Livingstoneâ€™s
It was not long, however, before the bushman one morning
came to the Colonel, and declared himself powerless against the
increasing difficulties. The drivers, he said, refused to obey
him; and there were continued scenes of insubordination, in
which all the natives joined. The Colonel perfectly well under-
Stood the situation; but stern to himself, he was stern to others.
He refused to suspend his operations, and declared that al-
though he went alone, he would continue to advance. His two
â‚¬ompanions of course agreed, and professed themselves ready
134 ADVENTURES IN THE
to follow him. Renewed efforts of Mokoum persuaded the
natives to venture a little farther: he felt sure that the caravan
could not be more than five or six daysâ€™ march from Lake
Ngami, and once there, the animals could find pasturage and
shade, and the men an abundance of fresh water. All these
considerations he laid before the principal Boschjesmen. He_
showed them that it was really best to advance northwards. If
they turned to the west, their march would be perilous, and to
turn back was only to find the karroo desolate and dry. The
natives at length yielded to his solicitations, and the almost ex-
hausted caravan continued its course.
Happily this vast plain was in itself favorable to all astro-
nomical observations, so that no delay arose from any natural
obstruction. On one occasion there sprang up a sudden hope
that nature was about to restore to them a supply of the water
of which she had been so niggardly. A lagoon, a mile or two-
in extent, was discovered on the horizon. The reflection was
indubitably of water, proving that what they saw was no mirage,
due to the unequal density of the atmospheric strata. â€˜The car-
avan speedily turned in that direction, and the lagoon was
reached toward five in the evening. Some of the horses broke
away from their drivers, and galloped to the longed-for water.
Having smelt it, they plunged in to their chests, but almost im-
mediately returned to the bank. They had not drunk, and
when the Boschjesmen arrived they found themselves by the
side of a lagoon so impregnated with salt that its water could
not be touched. Disappointment was keen; it was little short of
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 135
despair. Mokoum thought that he should never induce the na-
tives to proceed; but fortunately the only hope was in advancing,
and even the natives were alive to the conviction that Lake
Ngami was the nearest point where water could be procured.
In four days, unless retarded by its labors, the expedition must _
reach the shores of the lake.
Every day was momentous. To economize time, Colonel
Everest formed larger triangles and established fewer posts.
No efforts were spared to hurry on the progress of the survey.
Notwithstanding the application of every energy, the painful so-
journ in the desert was prolonged, and it was not until the 21st
of February that the level ground began to be rough and undu-
lating. A mountain 500 or 600 feet high, was descried about
fifteen miles to the north-west. The bushman recognized it as
Mount Scorzef, and, pointing to the north, said :â€”
â€œLake Ngami is there.â€
â€œThe Ngami! the Ngami!â€ echoed the natives, with noisy
demonstration. They wished to hurry on in advance over the
fifteen miles, but Mokoum restrained them, asserting that the
country was infested by Makololos, and that it was important to
keep together. Colonel Everest, himself eager to reach the
fake, resolved to connect by a single triangle the station he was
now occupying with Mount Scorzef. The instruments were
therefore arranged, and the angle of the last triangle which had
been already measured from the south was measured again from
the station. Mokoum, in his impatience, only established a
temporary camp; he hoped to reach the lake before night; but
136 ADVENTURES IN THE
he neglected none of his usual precautions, and prudently sent
out horsemen right and left to explore the underwood. Since
the oryx-chase the Makololos seemed, indeed, to have aban-
doned their watch; still he could not incur any risk of being
_ taken by surprise.
Thus carefully guarded by the bushman, the astronomers con-
structed their triangle. According to Emeryâ€™s calculations it
would carry them nearly to the twentieth parallel, the proposed
limit of their arc. A few more triangles on the other side of
Lake Ngami would complete their eighth degree; to verify the
calculations, a new base would subsequently be measured di-
rectly on the ground, and the great enterprise would be ended.
The ardor of the astronomers increased as they approached the
fulfilment of their task.
Meanwhile there was considerable curiosity as to what the
Russians on their side had accomplished. For six months the
members of the Commission had been separated, and it seemed
probable to the English that the Russians had not suffered so
much from heat and thirst, since their course had lain nearer
Livingstoneâ€™s route, and therefore in less arid regions. After
leaving Kolobeng, they would come across various villages to
the right of their meridian, where they could easily revictual
their caravan. But still it was not unlikely that in this less arid,
though more frequented country, Matthew Struxâ€™s little band
had been more exposed to the attacks of the plundering Mako-
lolos, and this was the more probable, since they seemed to have
abandoned the pursuit of the English caravan.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 137
Although the Colonel, ever engrossed, had no thought to be-
stow on these things, Sir John and Emery had often discussed
the doings of their former comrades. They wondered whether
they would come across them again, and whether they would
find that they had obtained the same mathematical result as
themselves, and whether the two computations of a degree in
South Africa would be identical. Emery did not cease to en-
tertain kind memories of his friend, knowing well that Zorn, for
his part, would never forget him.
The measurement of the angles was now resumed. To ob-
tain the angle at the station they now occupied, they had to ob-
serve two points of sight. One of these was formed by the
conical summit of Mount Scorzef, and the other by a sharp
peak three or four miles to the left of the meridian, whose di-
rection was easily obtained by one of the telescopes of the re-
peating circle. Mount Scorzef was much more distant; its po-
sition would compel the observers to diverge considerably to
the right of the meridian, but on examination they found they
had no other choice. The station was therefore observed with
the second telescope of the repeating circle, and the angular
distance between Mount Scorzef and the smaller peak was ob-
Notwithstanding the impatience of the natives, Colonel
Everest, as calmly as though he were in his own observatory,
made many successive registries from the graduated circle of
his telescope, and then, by taking the average of all his read-
ings, he obtained a result rigorously exact.
138 ADVENTURES IN THE
The day glided on, and it was not until the darkness pre-
vented the reading of the instruments, that the Colonel brought
Kis observations to an end, saying :â€”
â€œTam at your orders, Mokoum; we will start as soon as you
â€œAnd none too soon,â€ replied Mokoum; â€œbetter had we ac-
complished our journey by daylight.â€
The proposal to start met with unanimous approval, and by
seven oâ€™clock the thirsty party were once more on the march.
Some strange foreboding seemed weighing on the mind of
Mokoum, and he urged the three Europeans to look carefully to
their rifles, and to be well provided with ammunition. The
night grew dark, the moon and stars were repeatedly veiled in
mist, but the atmosphere near the ground was clear. The bush-
manâ€™s keen vision was ever watching the flanks and front of the
caravan, and his unwonted disquietude could not fail to be
noticed by Sir John, who was likewise on the watch. â€˜They
toiled through the weary evening, occasionally stopping to
gather together the loiterers, and at ten oâ€™clock they were still
six miles from the lake. The animals gasped for breath in an
atmosphere so dry that the hygrometer could not have detected
a trace of moisture.
Mokoum was indefatigable in his endeavors to keep the dis-
organized party close together; but, in spite of his remon-
strances, the caravan no longer presented a compact nucleus.
Men and beasts stretched out into a long file, and some oxen
had sunk exhausted to the ground. The dismounted horsemen
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 139
could hardly drag themselves along, and any stragglers could
have been easily carried off by the smallest band of natives.
Mokoum went in evident anxiety from one to another, and with
word and gestures tried to rally the troop; but his success was
far from complete, and already, without his knowledge, some of
his men were missing.
By eleven oâ€™clock the foremost wagons were hardly more than
three miles from their destination. In the gloom of night
Mount Scorzef stood out distinctly in its solitary height, like an
enormous pyramid, and the obscurity made its dimensions ap-
pear greater than they actually were. Unless Mokoum were
mistaken, Lake Ngami lay just behind Mount Scorzef, so that
the caravan must pass round its base in order to reach the
tract of fresh water by the shortest route.
The bushman, in company with the three Europeans, took the
lead, and prepared to turn to the left, when suddenly some dis-
tinct, though distant reports, arrested their attention. They
reined in their horses, and listened with a natural anxiety. In
a country where the natives use only lances and arrows, the re-
port of European fire-arms was rather startling. The Colonel
and Sir John simultaneously asked the bushman from whence
the sound could proceed. Mokoum asserted that he could per-
ceive a light in the shadow at the summit of Mount Scorzef,
and that he had no doubt that the Makololos were attacking a
party of Europeans.
â€œEuropeans!â€ cried Emery.
â€œYes,â€ replied Mokoum; â€œthese reports can only be pro-
duced by European weapons.â€
140 ADVENTURES IN THE
â€œ But what Europeans could they be?â€ began Sir John.
â€œBe who they may,â€ broke in the Colonel, â€œwe must go to
â€œYes; come on,â€ said Emery, with no little excitement.
Before setting off for the mountain, Mokoum. for the last
time, tried to rally the small band. But when the bushman
turned round the caravan was dispersed, the horses unyoked,
the wagons forsaken, and a few scattered shadows were flying
along the plain toward the south.
â€œThe cowards!â€ he cried; then turning to the English, he
said, â€œ Well, we must go on.â€
The Englishmen and the bushman, gathering up all remaining
strength of their horses, darted on to the north. After a while
they could plainly distinguish the war-cry of the Makololos.
Whatever was their number, it was evident they were making an
attack on Mount Scorzef, from the summit of which the flashes
of fire continued. Groups of men could be faintly distinguished
ascending the sides. Soon the Colonel and his companions
were on the rear of the besiegers. Abandoning their worn-out
steeds, and shouting loud enough to be heard by the besieged,
they fired at the mass of natives. The rapidity with which they
reloaded caused the Makololos to imagine themselves assailed
by a large troop. The sudden attack surprised them, and, letting
fly a shower of arrows and assagais, they retreated. Without
losing a moment, the Colonel, Sir John, Emery, the bushman,
and the sailors, never desisting from firing, darted among the
group of natives, of whose bodies no less than fifteen soon
strewed the ground.
â€œThe sudden attack surprised them.â€â€” Page 140.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 141
The Makololos divided. The Europeans rushed into the gap,
and, overpowering the foremost, ascended the slope backwards.
In a few minutes they had reached the summit, which was now
entirely in darkness, the besieged having suspended their fire
for fear of injuring those who had come so opportunely to their
They were the Russian astronomers. Strux, Palander, Zorn,
and their five sailors, all were there: but of all the natives be.
longing to their caravan, there remained but the faithful pio-
neer. The Boschjesmen had been as faithless to them as they
had been to the English.
The instant the Colonel appeared, Strux darted from the top
of a low wall that crowned the summit.
â€œThe English!â€ he cried.
â€œYes,â€ replied the Colonel, gravely; â€œbut now neither Rus-
sian nor English. Nationalities be forgotten; for mutual de-
fence we are kinsmen, in that we are one and all Europea is!â€
142 ADVENTURES IN THE
OBLE words were those just uttered by the Colonel. In
the face of the Makololos it was no time for hesitation or
discussion, and English and Russians, forgetting their national
quarrel, were now reunited for mutual defence more firmly than
ever. Emery and Zorn had warmly greeted each other, and the
others had sealed their new alliance with a grasp of the hand.
The first care of the English was to quench their thirst.
Water, drawn from the lake, was plentiful in the Russian camp.
Then, as soon as the Makololos were quiet enough to afford
some respite, the astronomers, sheltered by a sort of casemate
forming part of a deserted fortress, talked of all that had hap-
pened since their separation at Kolobeng.
It appeared that the same reason had brought the Russians so
far to the left of their meridian as had caused the English to
turn to the right of theirs. Mount Scorzef, half-way between
the two arcs, was the only height in that district which would
serve as a station on the banks of Lake Ngami. Each of the
meridians crossed the lake, whose opposite shores it was neces:
LAND OF TH& BEHEMOTH. 143
sary to unite trigonometrically by a large triangle. Naturally,
therefore, the two rival expeditions met on the only mountain
which could serve their purpose.
Matthew Strux then gave some details of his operations.
After leaving Kolobeng, the Russian party had continued with-
out irregularity. The old meridian, which had fallen by lot to
the Russians, fell across a fertile and slightly undulated country,
which offered every facility for the formation of the triangles.
Like the English, they had suffered from the heat, but they had
experienced no hardship from the want of water. Streams were
abundant, and kept up a wholesome moisture. The horses and
oxen had roamed over an immense pasturage, across verdant
prairies broken by forests and underwood. The wild animals
by night had been safely kept at a distance by sentinels and
fires, nor had any natives been seen except those stationary in
the villages in which Dr. Livingstone had always found a hos-
pitable reception.. All through the journey the Boschjesmen of
the caravan had given no cause for complaint, nor was it until
the previous day, when the Makololos to the number of 200 or
geo had appeared on the plain, that they had shown themselves
faithless, and deserted. For thirty-six hours the expedition had
now occupied the little fortress. The Makololos had attacked
them in the evening, after plundering the wagons left at the foot
Of the hill. The instruments, fortunately, having been carried
into the fort, were secure. The steamboat had also escaped the
Favages of the natives; it had been immediately put together by
the sailors, and was now at anchor in a little creek of Lake
144 ADVENTURES IN THE
Ngami, behind the enormous rocks that formed the base of the
mountain. Mount Scorzef sloped with sudden abrupmess
down to the lake, and there was no danger of an attack from
Such was Matthew Struxâ€™s account. Colonel Everest, in his
turn, related the incidents of his march, the fatigues and diffi-
culties, and the revolt of the Boschjesmen, and it was found by
comparison that the Russians had had a less harassing journey
than their rivals.
The night of the 21st passed quietly. The bushman and sail-
ors kept watch under the walls of the fort; the Makololos on
their part did not renew any attack, but the bivouac-fires at the
foot of the mountain proved that they had not relinquished
their project. At daybreak the Europeans left their casement
for the purpose of reconnoitring the plain. The early morning
light illumined the vast extent of country as far as the horizon.
Toward the south lay the desert, with its burnt brown grass
_ and barren aspect. Close under the mountain was the circular
camp, containing a swarm of 400 to 500 natives. The fires
were still alight, and some pieces of venison broiling on the hot
embers. The encampment was something more than temporary;
the Makololos were evidently determined not to abandon their
prey. Either vengeance or an instinctive thirst for blood ap-
peared to be prompting them, since all the valuables of both
caravans, the wagons, horses, oxen, and provisions, had fallen
into their power; or perhaps it might be that they coveted the
fire-arms which the Europeans carried, and of which they made
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 145
such terrible use. The united English and Russians held a
long consultation with the bushman, and it was felt that they
could not relax their watch until they should arrive at a definite
decision. This decision must depend on a variety of circum-
stances, and first of all it was necessary to understand exactly
the position of Mount Scorzef.
The mountain overlooked to the south, east and west, the vast
desert which the astronomers, having traversed it, knew ex-
tended southwards to the karroo. Inthe west could be dis-
cerned the faint outlines of the hills bordering the fertile coun-
try of the Makololos, one of whose capitals, Maketo, lies about
a hundred miles north-west of Lake Ngami. To the north the
mountain commanded a country which was a great contrast to
the arid steppes of the south. There were water, trees, and
_ pasturage. For a hundred miles east and west lay the wide
Lake Ngami, while from north to south its length was not more
; A than 30 to go miles. Beyond appeared a gentle, undulated
country, enriched with forests and watered by the affluents of the
_Zambese, and shut in to the extreme north by a low chain of
mountains. This wide oasis was caused by the great artery, the
Zambese, which is to South Africa what the Danube is to Eu-
rope, or the Amazon to South America.
â€˜The side of the mountain toward the lake, steep as it was,
Was not so steep but that the sailors could accomplish an ascent
and descent by a narrow way which passed from point to point.
They thus contrived to reach the spot where the Queen and Czar
lay hid, and, obtaining a supply of water, enabled the little gar-
146 ADVENTURES IN THE
rison to hold out in the deserted fort as long as their provisions
The astronomers wondered why this little fort had been
placed on the top of the mountain. Mokoum, who had visited
the country as Livingstoneâ€™s guide, explained that formerly the
neighborhood of Lake Ngami was frequented by traders in
ivory and ebony. â€˜The ivory was furnished by the elephants and
rhinoceroses; but the ebony trade was but too often another
name for that traffic in human beings which is still carried on
by the slave-traders in the region of the Zambese. A great
number of prisoners are made in the wars and pillages in the
â€˜interior of the country, and these prisoners are sold as slaves.
Mount Scorzef had been a centre of encampment for the ivory-
traders, and it was there that they had been accustomed to rest
before descending the Zambese. They had fortified their po-
sition, to protect themselves and their slaves from depredations,
since it was not an uncommon occurrence for the prisoners to
be recaptured for fresh sale by the very men who had recently
sold them. The route of the traders was now changed; they
no longer passed the shores of the lake, and the little fort was
falling into ruins. All that remained was an enclosure in the
form of the sector of a circle, from the centre of which rose a
small casemated redoubt, pierced with loop-holes, and sur-
mounted by a small wooden turret.
But notwithstanding the condition of ruin into which it had
fallen, the fortress offered the Europeans a welcome retreat.
Behind the thick sandstone walls, and armed with their rapidly:
UAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 14)
loading guns, they were confident that they could keep back an
army of Makololos, and, unless their provisions and ammunition
failed, they would be able to complete their observations. At
present they had plenty of ammunition; the coffer in which it
was contained had been placed on the same wagon which car-
ried the steamboat, and had therefore escaped the rapacity of
the natives. The great difficulty would be the possible failure of
provisions. The Colonel and Strux made a careful inspection
of the store, and found that there was only enough to last the
eighteen men for two days. After a short breakfast, the astron-
omers and the bushman, leaving the sailors still to keep watch
round the walls, assembled in the redoubt to discuss their situa-
â€œT cannot understand,â€ said Mokoum, â€œwhy you are so un-
easy. You say that we have only provisions for two days; but
why stay here? Let us leave to-morrow, or even to-day. The
Makololos need not hinder us; they could not cross the lake,
and in the steamboat we may reach the northern shore in a few
The astronomers looked at each other; the idea, natural as it
was, had not struck them before. Sir John was the first to
Â« But we have not yet completed the measurement of our me-
â€œWill the Makololos have any regard for your meridian?â€
asked the hunter.
â€œVery likely not,â€ answered Sir John; â€œbut we have a regard
148 ADVENTURES IN THE
for it, and will not leave our undertaking incomplete. I am
sure my colleagues agree with me.â€
â€œYes,â€ said the Colonel, speaking for all; â€œ(as long as one of
us survives, and is able to put his eye to his telescope, the sur-
vey shall go on: If necessary, we will take our observations
with our instrument in one hand and our gun in the other, even
to the last extremity.â€
The energetic philosophers shouted out their resolution to pro-
ceed at every hazard.
When it was thus decided that the survey should at all risks
be continued, the question arose as to the choice of the next
â€œ Although there will be a difficulty,â€ said Strux, â€œin joining
Mount Scorzef trigonometrically to a station to the north of the
lake, it is not impracticable. J have fixed on a peak in the ex-
treme north-east, so that the side of the triangle will cross the
â€œWell, said the Colonel, â€œif the peak exists, I do not see any
â€œThe only difficulty,â€ replied Strux, â€œconsists in the dis-
â€œWhat is the distance ?â€
â€œOver a hundred miles, and a lighted signal must be carried
to the top of the peak.â€
â€œ Assuredly that can be done,â€ said the Colonel.
â€œAnd all that time, how are we to defend ourselves against
the Makololos?â€ asked the bushman.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 149
â€œWe will manage that too.â€
Mokoum said that he would obey the Colonelâ€™s orders, and
the conversation ended. The whole party left the casemate,
and Strux pointed out the peak he had chosen. It was the
conical peak of Volquiria, 300 feet high, and just visible in the
horizon. Notwithstanding the distance, a powerful reflector
could thence be discerned by means of a magnifying telescope,
and the curvature of the earthâ€™s surface, which Strux had taken
into account, would not be any obstacle. The real difficulty
was how the lamp should be hoisted to the top of the mountain.
The angle made at Mount Scorzef with Mount Volquiria and
the preceding station would probably complete the measure-
ment of the meridian, so that the operation was all important.
-. Zor and Emery offered to take this journey of a hundred miles
in an unknown country, and, accompanied by the pioneer, pre-
iy pared to start.
One of the canoes of birch-bark, which are manufactured by
.- the natives with great dexterity, would be sufficient to carry
them over the lake. Mokoum and the pioneer descended to the
os Shore, where were growing some dwarf birches, and in a very
~ short time had accomplished their task, and prepared the canoe.
. At eight oâ€™clock in the evening the newly-constructed craft
Was loaded with instruments, the apparatus for the reverberator,
- provisions, arms, and ammunition. It was arranged that the
astronomers should meet again in a small creek known to both
Mokoum and the pioneer; it was also agreed that as soon as the
reverberator on Mount Volquiria should be perceived, Colonel
150 ADVENTURES IN THE
Everest should light a signal on Mount Scorzef, so that Emery
and Zorn, in their turn, might take the direction.
The young men took leave of their colleagues, and descended
the mountain in the obscurity of night, having been preceded
by the pioneer and two sailors, one English and one Russian.
The mooring was loosened, and the frail boat turned quietly
across the lake.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 15l
STANDING A SIEGE.
OT without anxiety had the astronomers witnessed the
departure of their young colleagues: they could not
tell what dangers awaited them in that unknown country.
Mokoum tried to reassure them by praising the courage of
the pioneer, and besides, he said, the Makololos were too much
occupied around Mount Scorzef to beat the country to the
north of Lake Ngami. He instinctively felt that the Colonel
and his party were in a more dangerous position than the two
The sailors and Mokoum kept watch in turns through the
night. But the â€œreptiles,â€ as the bushman termed the Mako-
lolos, did not venture another attack. They seemed to be
waiting for reinforcements, in order to invade the mountain
from all sides, and overcome by their numbers the resistance
of the besieged.
The hunter was not mistaken in his conjectures; and when
' daylight appeared Colonel Everest perceived a sensible increase
in the number of the natives. Their camp, carefully arranged
1g2 ADVENTURES IN THE
round the base of the mountain, shut off escape on every
side except that toward the lake. This side could not be in-
vested, so that unless unforeseen circumstances occurred,
retreat to the water was always practicable. But the Europeans
had no thought of escaping: they occupied a post of honor,
and were all agreed that it must not be abandoned. No allu-
sion was ever made to the war between England and Russia,
and both parties strove together to accomplish their scientific
The interval of waiting for the signal on Mount Volquiria
was employed in completing the measurement of the preceding
triangle and in finding the exact latitude of Mount Scorzef by
means of the altitudes of the stars.
Mokoum was called upon to say what would be the shortest
possible space of time that must elapse before Emery and Zorn
could reach Mount Volquiria. He replied that as the journey
was to be performed on foot, and the country was continually
crossed by rivers, he did not think that they could arrive in less
than five days at least. They therefore adopted a maximum of
six days, and portioned out their supplies to serve for that
period. Their reserve was very limited, consisting only of a
few pounds of biscuit, preserved meat, and pemmican, and had
already been diminished by the portion furnished to the
pioneerâ€™s little troop. Colonel Everest and his companions,
anxiously anticipating the sixth day, decided that the daily
ration must be reduced to a third of their previous allowance.
The thirteen men would doubtless suffer much from this small
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 153
amount of nourishment, but there was an unflinching deter-
mination to bear up bravely.
â€œ Besides,â€ said Sir John, â€œwe have room enough to hunt.â€
Mokoum shook his head doubtfully: he thought that game
would be rare on the mountain. However, his gun need not be
idle; and leaving the astronomers to examine and correct their
registers, he set off with Sir John.
The Makololos were quietly encamped, and apparently
patient in their intention of reducing the besieged by famine.
The two hunters reconnoitred the mountain. The fort occupied
a space of ground measuring not more than a quarter of a mile
in its widest part. The soil was covered with flints and grass,
dotted here and there with low shrubs, and bright with gladioli.
Red heaths, silvery-leaved protez, and erica with wavy fronds,
formed the flora of the mountain, and beneath the angles
formed by the projections of rock sprung up thorny bushes ten
feet high, with bunches of a sweet-smelling white flower. The
bushman was ignorant of its name, but it was doubtless the
Arduina bispinosa, which bears fruit like the barberry.
After an hourâ€™s search Sir John had seen no trace of game.
Some little birds with dark wings and red beaks flew out of the
bushes, but at the first shot they disappeared, no more to
return. It was evident that the garrison must not depend on
the products of the chase for sustenance.
â€œWe can fish in the lake,â€ said Sir John, standing and con-
templating the fine extent of water.
â€œTo fish without net or line,â€ replied the bushman, â€œis as
154 ADVENTURES IN THE
difficult as to lay hands on birds on the wing. But we will not
despair; chance has hitherto favored us.â€
â€œChance! nay, not chance, but Providence,â€ said Sir John.
â€œThat does not forsake us; it has brought us to the Russians,
and will no doubt carry us on to our goal.â€
â€œ And will Providence feed us, Sir John?â€ asked the bush-
â€œNo doubt, Mokoum,â€ said Sir John, encouragingly; and the
bushman thought to himself that no blind trust in Providence
should prevent him from using his own best exertions.
The 25th brought no change in the relative positions of
besiegers and besieged. The Makololos, having brought in the
plundered wagons, remained in their camp. Herds and flocks
were grazing in the pasturage at the foot of the mountain, and
some women and children, who had joined the tribe, went about
and pursued their ordinary occupations. From time to time,
some chief, recognizable by the richness of the skins which he
wore, ascended the slope of the mountain and tried to examine
the approaches to the summit; but the report of a rifle always
took him speedily back to the plain. The Makololos then
raised their war-cry, brandished their assagais, and all became
The following day the natives made a more serious attempt,
and about fifty of them at once scaled three sides of the moun-
tain. The whole garrison turned out to the foot of the enclo-
sure, and the European arms caused considerable ravage among
the Makololos. Five or six were killed, and the rest aban-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 155
doned their project, but it was quite evident that if several
hundred were to assault the mountain simultaneously, the
besieged would find it difficult to face them on all sides. Sir
_ John now thought of the mitrailleuse, which was the principal
weapon of the Queen and Czar, and proposed that it should be
brought up to defend the front of the fortress. It was a diffi-
7 cult task to hoist the machine up the rocks, which in some
: parts were almost perpendicular; but the sailors showed them-
_ â€˜selves so agile and daring, that in the course of the day the
_mitrailleuse was installed in the embrasure of the embattled
~ enclosure. Thence its twenty-five muzzles, arranged ig the
shape of a fan, would cover the front of the fort, and the
Â» Natives would thus early make acquaintance with the engine
of; death which in after-years was to effect such devastation
amongst the civilized armies of the European continent.
The dry air and clear sky had enabled the astronomers each
Right to pursue their observations. They had found the lati-
"tude of Mount Scorzef to be nineteen degrees and thirty-seven
_ Minutes, which result confirmed their opinion that they were
; less than half a degree from the northern extremity of their
Meridian, and that consequently the next triangle would com-
plete the series.
Â° . The night passed without any fresh alarm. If circumstances
had favored the pioneer, he and his companions would reach
Mount Volquiria the following day; therefore the astronomers
< kept unflagging watch through the next night for the appear-
â€œ@nce of the light. Strux and the Colonel had already pointed
An attack on Mount Scorzef.â€” Page 154.
156 ADVENTURES IN THE
the telescope to the peak, so that it was continuously embraced
in the field of the object-glass otherwise it would have been
difficult to discern on a dark night; as it was, the light would
doubtless be perceived immediately on its appearance.
All day Sir John beat fruitlessly the bushes and long grass.
He could not unearth a single animal that was fit to eat. The
very birds, disturbed from their retreats, had gone to the
underwood on the shore for shelter. Sir John was extremely
vexed, inasmuch as he was not hunting merely for personal
gratification, but to supply the necessities of the party. Per-
haps he himself suffered from hunger more than his three col-
leagues, whose attention was more riveted by their application
to science. The sailors and Mokoum suffered equally with Sir
John. One more day and their scanty reserve would be at an
end, and if the pioneerâ€™s expedition were delayed, they would
soon be exposed to a severe extremity of hunger.
The dark, calm night was passed in watching; but the horizon
remained wrapped in shade, and no light appeared in the object-
glass of the telescope. The minimum of time, however, allowed
to the expedition had hardly expired, and they felt that they
_ Were bound to exhibit patience for a while.
The next day the garrison ate their last morsel of meat and
biscuit; but their courage did not fail, and, though they should
be obliged to feed on what herbs they could gather, they
were resolved to hold out.
The succeeding night passed without any result. More
than once the astronomers believed that they had seen the
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 157
light, but it was always proved to be a star in the misty
On the 1st of March they were compelled absolutely to fast.
Having been for some time accustomed to meagre and inade-
â€œquate nourishment, they passed the first day without much acute
-. suffering, but on the morrow they began to experience the
pangs of craving. Sir John and Mokoum, haggard-eyed, and
- sensitive to the gnawings of hunger, wandered over the top
of the mountain; but no game whatever was to be seen. They
began to think that, as the Colonel had said, they should
literally have to feed on grass. If they only had the stomachs
of ruminants, thought poor Sir John, as he eyed the abundant
pasturage, they would be able to hold out; but still no game,
still not even a bird! He gazed intently over the lake, in
which the sailors had fished in vain ; and it was impossible to
get near the wary aquatic birds that skimmed the tranquil
At last, worn out with fatigue, Sir John and his companion
Jay down on the grass at the foot of a mound of earth
some five or six feet high. Here they fell, not precisely into
a sleep, but into a heavy torpor, which for a while benumbed
their sufferings. How long this drowsiness would have lasted
* ~ neither of them could have said; but in about an hour Sir John
was aroused by a disagreeable pricking. He tried to slumber
again, but the pricking continued, and at last impatiently he
Opened his eyes.
- He was entirely covered, face, hands, and clothes, with
158 ADVENTURES IN THE
swarms of white ants. He started to his feet, and his sudden
movement aroused the bushman, who was covered in the same
way. But to Sir Johnâ€™s great surprise, the bushman, instead
of shaking off the insects, carried them by handfuls to his
mouth, and devoured them greedily. Sir Johnâ€™s first sensation
was disgust at his voracity. -
a Come, eat, as I do!â€ said the bushman; â€œit is the rice
of the Boschjesmen.â€
And that was, in truth, the native term for these insects.
The Boschjesmen feed on both the black and white species,
but they consider the white to be of superior quality. The
only drawback is, that they must be swallowed in large
quantities to satisfy any longing for food. The Africans
generally mix them with the gum of the mimosa, thus render-
ing them capable of affording a less unsubstantial meal;
but as the mimosa did not grow on Mount Scorzef, the bush-
man had to content himself with his rice au natured.
Sir John, in spite of his repugnance, resolved to imitate him.
The insects poured forth by thousands from their enormous
ant-hill, which was none other than the mound of earth by which
the weary sufferers had reclined. Sir John took them by hand-
fuls, and carried them to his lips; he did not dislike the flavor,
which was a grateful acid; and gradually he felt his hunger
Mokoum did not forget his companions in misfortune. He
ran to the fort, and brought out the garrison. The sailors
were without difficulty induced to attack this singular food,
The rice of the Boschjesmen. â€” Page 158.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 159
and although the astronomers hesitated a moment, yet, en-
couraged by Sir Johnâ€™s example, and half dead with inanition,
they soon at least assuaged the intenseness of their hunger by
devouring considerable quantities of these ants.
But an unexpected incident procured for the starving men
a more solid meal. In order to lay in a provision of the
insects, Mokoum resolved to destroy one side of the enormous
ant-hill. It consisted of a central conical mound, with smaller
cones arranged at intervals round its base. The hunter had
already made several blows with his hatchet, when a singular
grunting sound from the centre attracted his attention: he
paused in his work of destruction, and listened, while his com-
panions watched him in silence. He struck a few more blows,
and the groan was repeated more audibly than before. The
bushman rubbed his hands, whilst his eyes evidently sparkled.
Once more attacking the ant-hill, he opened a cavity about
a foot wide. The ants were escaping on every side; but of
them he took no heed, leaving the sailors to collect them in
All at once a strange animal appeared at the mouth of the
hole. It was a quadruped with a long snout, small mouth,
and flexible tongue, which protruded toa great length; its ears
were straight, its legs short, and its tail long and pointed.
Long gray bristles with a reddish tinge covered its lank body,
â€˜and its feet were armed with enormous claws. Mokoum killed
it at once with a sharp blow on the snout. â€œThere is our
supper,â€ he said. â€œIt has been some time coming, but it will
160 ADVENTURES IN THE
not taste the worse for that. Now for a fire, and a ramrod for
a spit, and we will feast as we have never feasted in our
The bushman speedily began to skin the animal, which was
a species of octeropus or ant-eater, very common in South
Africa, and known to the Dutch at the Cape under the name
of â€œearth-pig.â€ Swarms of ants are devoured by this crea-
ture, which catches them by means of its long glutinous tongue.
The meal was soon cooked; perhaps it would have been
better for a few more turns of the spit, but the hungry men
were impatient. The firm, wholesome flesh was declared to be
excellent, although slightly impregnated with the acid of the
After the repast the Europeans felt re-invigorated, and ani-
mated with more steadfast purpose to persevere; and in truth
there was need of encouragement. All through the following
night no light appeared on Mount Volquiria.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 161
is mae now the ninth day since Zorn and Emery had started
on their expedition. Their colleagues, detained on the
summit of Mount Scorzef, began to give way to the fear that
they had fallen into some irretrievable misfortune. They were
all well aware that the young astronomers would omit nothing
that lay in their power to ensure the success of their enterprise,
and they dreaded lest their courageous spirit should have
exposed them to danger, or betrayed them into the hands of
the wandering tribes. They waited always impatiently for the
moment when the sun sank behind the horizon, that they might
- begin their nightly watch, and then all their hopes seemed con-
centrated on the field of their telescope.
All through the 3rd of March, wandering up and down the
slopes, hardly exchanging a word, they suffered as they had
never suffered before; not even the heat and fatigues of the
_ desert, nor the tortures of thirst, had equalled the pain that
arose from their apprehensions. The last morsel of the ant-
162 ADVENTURES IN THE
eater had been devoured, and nothing now remained but the
insufficient nourishment afforded by the ants.
Night came, dark and calm, and extremely favorable to their
operations; but although the Colonel and Strux watched alter-
nately with the utmost perseverance, no light appeared, and the
sunâ€™s rays soon rendered any longer observations futile.
There was still nothing immediate to fear from the Makolo-
los; they seemed resolved to reduce the besieged by famine,
and it seemed hardly likely that they would desist from their
project. The unhappy Europeans were tortured afresh with
hunger, and could only diminish their sufferings by devouring
the bulbs of the gladioli that sprang up between the rocks.
Yet they were hardly prisoners; their detention was volun-
tary. At any moment the steamboat would have carried them
to a fertile land, where game and fruit abounded. Several
times they discussed the propriety of sending Mokoum â€˜to the
northern shore to hunt for the little garrison; but this manceu-
vre might be discovered by the natives; and there would be a
risk to the steam-vessel, and consequently to the whole party, in
the event of finding other hostile tribes to the north of the lake:
accordingly the proposal was rejected, and it was decided that
they must abide in company, and that all or none must depart.
To leave Mount Scorzef before the observations were complete
was an idea that was not entertained for a moment; the astrono-
mers were determined to wait patiently until the faintest hope
of success should be extinguished.
â€œWe are no worse off,â€ remarked the Colonel in the course of
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 163
the day to his assembled companions, â€œthan Arago, Biot, and
Rodriguez were when they were measuring the are from Dun-
kirk to Ivica: they were uniting the Spanish coast and the
island by a triangle of which the sides were more than eighty
miles long. Rodriguez was installed on an isolated peak, and
kept up lighted lamps at night, while the French astronomers
lived in tents a hundred miles away in the desert of Las
Palmas. For sixty nights Arago and Biot watched for the sig-
nal, and, discouraged at last, were about to renounce their labor,
when, on the sixty-first night, appeared a light, which it was
impossible to confound with a star. Surely, gentlemen, if those
French astronomers could watch for sixty-one nights in the
interests of science, we English and Russians must not give up
at the end of nine.â€
The Colonclâ€™s companions most heartily approved the senti-
ment; but they could have said that Arago and Biot did not
endure the tortures of hunger during their long vigil.
In the course of the day Mokoum perceived an unusual agita-
tion in the Makololo camp. He thought at first that they were
about to raise the siege, but, after some contemplation, he dis-
covered that their intentions were evidently hostile, and that
they would probably assault the mountain in the course of the
night. All the women and children, under the protection of a
few men, left the encampment, and turned eastward to the
shores of the lake. It was probable that the natives were about
to make a last attack on the fortress before retiring finally to
-Maketo. The bushman communicated his opinion to the Euro-
164 ADVENTURES IN THE
peans. They resolved to, keep a closer watch all night, and to
have their guns in readiness. The enclosure of the fort was
broken in several places, and as the number of the natives was
now largely increased they would find no difficulty in forcing
their way through the gaps. Colonel Everest therefore thought
it prudent to have the steamboat in readiness fora retreat. The
engineer received orders to light the fire, but not until sunset,
lest the smoke should reveal the presence of the vessel to the
natives; and to keep up the steam,-in order to start at the first
signal. The evening repast was composed of white ants and
gladiolus bulbs, â€”a meagre supper for men about to fight with
several hundred savages; but they were resolute, and staunchly
awaited the engagement which appeared imminent.
Toward six oâ€™clock, when night was coming on with its trop-
ical celerity, the engineer descended the mountain, and pro-
ceeded to light the fire of the steamboat. It was still the
Colonelâ€™s intention not to effect an escape until the last extrem-
ity: moreover, he was firm in his determination to abide until
the night was advanced, that he might give himself the last
chance of observing the signal from Mount Volquiria. The
sailors were placed on the foot of the rampart, with orders to
defend the breaches to the last. All arms were ready, and the
mitrailleuse, armed with the heaviest ammunition that they had
in store, spread its formidable mouth across the embrasure.
For several hours the Colonel and Strux, posted in the nar-
tow donjon, kept a constant watch on the peak of Volquiria.
The horizon was dark, while the finest of the southern constel-
LAND OF fHE BEHEMOTH. 165
lations were resplendent in the zenith. There was no wind,
and not a sound broke the imposing stillness of nature. The
bushman, however, posted on a projection of rock, heard
sounds which gradually became more distinct. He was not
mistaken; the Makololos were at length commencing their
assault on the mountain.
Until ten oâ€™clock the assailants did not move; their fires were
extinguished, and camp and plain were alike wrapped in
obscurity. Suddenly Mokoum saw shadows moving up the
mountain, till the besiegers seemed but a few hundred feet from
the plateau on which stood the fort.
â€œNow then, quick and ready!â€ cried Mokoum.
The garrison immediately advanced to the south side of the
fort, and opened a running fire on the assailants. The Mako-
lolos answered by a war-cry, and, in spite of the firing, con-
tinued to advance. In the light caused by the flash of the
â€˜ guns, the Europeans perceived such swarms of natives that
resistance seemed impossible. But still they trusted that their
well-directed balls were doing considerable execution, and they
discerned that not a few of the natives were rolling down the
sides of the mountain. Hitherto, however, nothing arrested
them: with savage cries they continued to press on in com.
pacted order, without even waiting to hurl a single dart.
Colonel Everest put himself at the head of his little troop, who
seconded him admirably, not excepting Palander, who probably
was handling a gun for almost the first time. Sir John, now on
one rock, now on another, sometimes kneeling, sometimes lying,
166 ADVENTURES IN THE
did wonders, and his gun, heated with the rapidity of the
repeated loading, began to burn his hands. Mokoum, as ever,
was patient, bold, and undaunted in his confidence.
But the valor and precision of the besieged could avail noth-
ing against the torrent of numbers. Where one native fell, he
was replaced by twenty more, and, after a somewhat prolonged
opposition, Colonel Everest felt that he must be overpowered.
Not only did the natives swarm up the south slope of the-
mountain, but they made an ascent also by the side slopes.
They did not hesitate to use the dead bodies of the fallen as
stepping-stones, and they even lifted them up, and sheltered
themselves behind them, as they mounted. The scene revealed
by the flash of the fire-arms was appalling, and the Europeans
saw enough to make them fully aware that they could expect no
quarter, and that they were being assaulted by barbarians as
savage as tigers.
At half-past ten the foremost natives had reached the plateau.
The besieged, who were still uninjured (the natives not yet hav-
ing employed their arrows and assagais), were thoroughly con-
scious they were impotent to carry on a combat hand to hand.
The Colonel, in a calm, clear voice that could be heard above
the tumult, gave the order to retire. With a last discharge the
little band withdrew behind the walls. Loud cries greeted their
retreat, and the natives immediately made a nearer approach in
their attempt to scale the central breach.
A strange and unlooked-for reception awaited them. Sud-
denly at first, and subsequently repeated at intervals but of a
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 167
few minutes, there was a growling reverberation as of rolling
thunder. The sinister sound was the report of the exploding
mitrailleuse, which Sir John had been prepared to employ, and
now worked with all his energy. Its twenty-five muzzles
spread over a wide range, and the balls, continually supplied by
a self-adjusting arrangement, fell like hail among the assailants.
The natives, swept down at each discharge, responded at first
with a howl and then with a harmless shower of arrows.
â€œShe plays well,â€ said the bushman, approaching Sir John.
â€œWhen you have played your tune, let me play mine.â€
But there was no need for Sir John to be relieved; the
mitrailleuse was soon silent. The Makololos were struck with
consternation, and had sought shelter from the torrent of grape-
shot, having retired under the flanks of the fort, leaving the
plateau strewn with numbers of their dead.
In this instant of respite the Colonel and Strux regained the
donjon, and there, collecting themselves to a composure as com-
plete as if they were under the dome of an observatory, they
kept a constant eye upon their telescope, and scanned the
peak of Volquiria. When, after a short period of rest, the yells
of the Makololos made them aware that the combat was
renewed, they only persevered in their determination, and
resolved that they would alternately remain to guard their inval-
The combat, in truth, had been renewed. The range of the
Mitrailleuse was inadequate to reach all the natives, who, utter-
ing their cries of mortal vengeance, rallied again, and swarmed
168 ADVENTURES IN THE
up every opening. The besieged, protected by their firearms,
defended the breaches foot by foot; they had only received a
few scratches from the points of the assagais, and were able to
â€˜continue the fight for half an hour with unabated ardor.
Toward half-past eleven, while the Colonel was in the thick
of the fray, in the middle of an angry fusillade, Matthew Strux
appeared at his side. His eye was wild and radiant: an arrow
had just pierced his hat and quivered above his head.
â€œThe signal! the signal!â€ he cried.
The Colonel was incredulous, but ascertaining the correct-
ness of the welcome announcement, discharged his rifle for the
last time, and with an exuberant shout of rejoicing, rushed
toward the donjon, followed by his intrepid colleague. There,
kneeling down, he placed his eye to the telescope, and per-
ceived with the utmost delight the signal, so long delayed and
yet so patiently expected,
It was truly a marvellous sight to see these two astronomers
work during the tumult of the conflict. The natives had by
their numbers forced the enclosure, and Sir John and the bush-
man were contending for every step. The Europeans fought
with their balls and hatchets, while the Makololos responded
with their arrows and assagais.
Meanwhile the Colonel and Strux intently continued their
observations, and Palander, equally composed, noted down their
oft-repeated readings. More than once an arrow grazed their
head, and broke against the inner wall. of the donjon. But
their eye was ever fixed on the signal, and reading the indica-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 169
tions of the vernier, they incessantly verified each otherâ€™s calcu-
â€œOnly once more,â€ said Strux, sliding the telescope along the
graduated scale. An instant later, and it would have been too
late for any observations, but the direction of the light was cal-
culated to the minutest fraction of a second; and at that very
instant an enormous stone, hurled by a native, sent the register
_ flying from Palanderâ€™s hands, and smashed the repeating-
They must now fly in order to save the result which they had
obtained at the cost of such continuous labor. The natives
had already penetrated the casemate, and might at any moment
appear in the donjon. The Colonel and his colleagues caught
up their guns, and Palander his precious register, and all
escaped through one of the breaches. Their companions, some
slightly wounded, were ready to cover their retreat, but just as
they were about to descend the north side of the mountain,
Strux remembered that they had failed to kindle the signal. In
fact, for the completion of the survey, it was necessary that the
two astronomers on Mount Volquiria should in their turn observe
the summit of Mount Scorzef, and were doubtless anxiously
expecting the answering light.
The Colonel recognized the imperative necessity for yet one
more effort, and whilst his companions, with almost superhuman
energy, repulsed the natives, he re-entered the donjon. This
donjon was formed of an intricate framework of dry wood,
which would readily ignite by the application of a flame. The
170 ADVENTURES, IN THE
Colonel set it alight with the powder from the priming of his
gun, and, rushing out, rejoined his companions. In a few
moments, rolling their mitrailleuse before them, the Europeans,
under a shower of arrows and various missiles, were descending
the mountain, and, in their turn, driving back the natives with a
deadly fire, reached the steamboat. The engineer, according to
orders, had kept up the steam. The mooring was loosened, the
screw set in motion, and the Queen and Czar advanced rapidly
over the dark waters. They were shortly far enough out to see
the summit of the mountain. The donjon was blazing like a
beacon, and its light would be easily discerned from the peak
of Volquiria. A resounding cheer of triumph from English
and Russians greeted the bonfire they had left behind.
Emery and Zorn would have no cause for complaint; they
had exhibited the twinkling of a star, and had been answered
by the glowing of a sun.
â€œThe â€˜Queen and Czarâ€™ advanced.â€â€” Page 170.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 17!
HIDE AND SEEK.
HEN daylight reappeared, the vessel was nearing the
northern shore of the lake. There was no trace of
natives; consequently the Colonel and his companions, who had
been ready armed, laid aside their guns as the Queen and Czar
drew up in a little bay hollowed in the rocks. The bushman,
Sir John, and one of the sailors set out at once to reconnoitre
the neighborhood. They could perceive no sign of Makololos,
and fortunately they found game in abundance. Troops of
antelopes grazed in the long grass and in the shelter of the
thickets, and a number of aquatic birds frequented the shores
of the lake. The hunters returned with ample provision, and
the whole party could enjoy the savory venison, a supply of
which was now unlikely to fail them again.
The camp was arranged under the great willows near the
lake, on the banks of a small river. The Colonel and Strux
had arranged to meet on the northern shore with the pioneerâ€™s
little party, and the rest afforded by the few days of expectation
was gratefully enjoyed by all. Palander employed himself in
172 ADVENTURES IN THE
rectifying and adjusting the results of the latest observations,
while Mokoum and Sir John hunted most vigorously over the
fertile, well-watered country, abounding in game, of which the
Englishman would have been delighted, had it been in his power,
to complete a purchase on behalf of the British government.
Three days after, on the 8th of March, some gun-shots an.
nounced the arrival of the remainder of the party for whom
they tarried. Emery, Zorn, the two sailors, and the pioneer,
were allin perfect health. Their theodolite, the only instrument
remaining to the Commission, was safe. The young astrono-
mers and their companions were received with joyous congratu-
lations. In a few words they related that their journey had not
been devoid of difficulty. For two days they had lost their way
in the forests that skirted the mountainous district, and with
only the vague indications of the compass they would never
have reached Mount Volquiria, if it had not been for the shrewd
intelligence of the pioneer. The ascent of the mountain was
rough, and the delay had caused the young astronomers as much
impatience as it had their-colleagues on Mount Scorzef. They
had carefully, by barometrical observations, calculated that the
summit of Volquiria was 3200 feet above the level of the sea.
The light, increased by a strong reflector, was first lighted on
the night of the 4th; thus the observers on Mount Scorzef had
perceived it as soon as it appeared. Emery and Zorn had easily
discerned the intense fire caused by the burning fortress, and
with the theodolite had completed the measurement of the
â€œThey found game in abundance.â€â€” Page 171.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 173
â€œ And did you determine the latitude of the peak?â€ said the
Colonel to Emery.
â€œYes, most accurately,â€ replied Emery; â€œwe found it to be
1g degrees 37 minutes 35.337 seconds.â€
â€œWell, gentlemen,â€ said the Colonel, â€œwe may say that our
task is ended. We have measured, by means of sixty-three
triangles, an arc of more than eight degrees in length; and
when we have rigidly corrected our results, we shall know the
exact value of the degree, and consequently of the mÃ©Â¢re, in this
part of the globe.â€
A cheer of satisfaction could not be repressed amongst the
â€œAnd now,â€ added the Colonel, â€œwe have only to descend
the Zambese in order to reach the Indian Ocean: is it not so,
â€œIt is so,â€ answered Strux; â€œbut I think we ought still to
adopt some means of testing our previous operations. Let us
continue. our triangles until we find a place suitable for the di-
rect measurement of a base. The agreement between the
lengths of the base, obtained by the calculations and by the di-
rect measurement, will alone tell what degree of accuracy we
ought to attribute to our observations.â€
Struxâ€™s proposition was unanimously adopted. It was agreed
to construct a series of subsidiary triangles until a side could be
measured with the platinum rods. The steamboat, descending
the affluents of the Zambese, was to await the travellers below
the celebrated Victoria Falls. Everything being arranged, the
174 ADVENTURES IN THE
little troop, with the exception of four sailors on board the
Queen and Czar, started the next day at sunrise. Some stations
had been chosen to the east and the angles measured, and
along this favorable country, they hoped easily to accomplish
their auxiliary series. The bushman had adroitly caught a
quagga, of which, willing or unwilling, he made a beast of bur-
den to carry the theodolite, the measuring-rods, and some other
luggage of the caravan.
The journey proceeded rapidly. The undulated country af-
forded many points of sight for the small accessory triangles.
The weather was fine, and it was not needful to have recourse
to nocturnal observations. The travellers could nearly always
find shelter in the woods, and, besides, the heat was not insuffer-
able, since some vapors arose from the pools and streams which
tempered the sunâ€™s rays. Every want was supplied by the
hunters, and there was no longer anything to be feared from
the natives, who seemed to be more to the south of Lake
Matthew Strux and the Colonel seemed to have forgotten all
their personal rivalry, and although there was no close intimacy
between them, they were on the most perfect terms of courtesy.
Day after day, during a period of three weeks, the observa-
tions steadily proceeded. For the measurement of a base the
astronomers required a tract of land that should be level for
several miles, and the very undulations of the soil that were de-
sirable for the establishment of the points of sight were un-
favorable for that observation. They proceeded to the north-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 175
east, sometimes following the right bank of the Cnobi, one of
the principal tributaries of the Upper Zambese, in order to
avoid Maketo, the chief settlement of the Makololos. They
had now every reason to anticipate that their return would be
happily accomplished, and that no further natural obstacle
would occur, and they hoped that their difficulties were all at an
end. The country which they were traversing was compara-
tively well known, and they could not be far from the villages
of the Zambese which Livingstone had lately visited. They
thus thought with reason that all the most arduous part of their
task was over, when an incident, of which the consequences
might have been serious, almost compromised the result of the
Nicholas Palander was the hero, or rather was nearly being
the victim, of the adventure.
The intrepid but thoughtless calculator, unwarned by his es-
cape from the crocodiles, had still the habit of withdrawing
himself from his companions. In an open country there was
no great danger in this, but in woods Palanderâ€™s abstraction
might lead to serious consequences. Strux and the bushman
gave him many warnings, and Palander, though much aston
ished at what he considered an excess of prudence, promised to
conform to their wishes.
On. the 27th, some hours had passed since Strux and Mokoum
had seen anything of Palander. The little troop were travel-
ling through thickets of low trees and shrubs, extending as far
as the horizon. Jt was important to keep together, as it would
176 ADVENTURES IN THE
be difficult to discover the track of any one lost in the wood,
But seeing and fearing nothing, Palander, who had been posted,
pencil in one hand, the register in the other, on the left flank of
the troop, was not long in disappearing.
When, toward four oâ€™clock, Strux and his companions found
that Palander was no longer with them, they became extremely
anxious. His former aberrations were still fresh in their re-
membrance, and it was probable the abstracted calculator alone
by whom they had been forgotten. The march was stopped,
and they all shouted in vain. The bushman and the sailors dis-
persed for a quarter of a mile in each direction, beating the
bushes, trampling through the woods and long grass, firing off
their guns, but yet without success. They became still more
uneasy, especially Matthew Strux, to whose anxiety was joined
an extreme irritation against his unlucky colleague. This was
not the first time that Palander had served them thus, and if
the Colonel had laid any blame on him, Strux would not have
known what to say. Under the circumstances, the only thing
to be done was to encamp in the wood, and begin a more care
The Colonel and his companions had just arranged to place
their camp near a glade of considerable extent, when a cry, un-
like anything human, resounded at some distance to the left.
Almost immediately, running at full speed, appeared Palander.
His head was bare, his hair dishevelled, and his clothes torn in
some parts almost to rags. IIis companions plied him with
questions; but the unhappy man, with haggard and distended
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 177
eye, whose compressed nostrils still further hindered his short,
jerking respiration, could not bring out a word.
What had happened? why had he wandered away? and why
did he appear so terrified? At last, to their repeated questions,
he gasped out, in almost unintelligible accents, something about
The astronomers shuddered; the registers, on which was in-
scribed every result of their operations, and which the calcula-
tor had never allowed out of his possession, even when asleep,
these registers were missing. No matter whether Palander had
lost them, or whether they had been stolen from him; they were
gone, and all their labor was in vain! While his companions,
mutely terrified, only looked at each other, Matthew Strux could
no longer restrain his anger. He burst forth into all manner of
invective against the miserable man, threatening him with the
displeasure of the Russian government, and adding, that if he did
not suffer under the knout he should linger out his life in Siberia.
To all this Palander answered but by a movement of the
head: he seemed to acquiesce in all these condemnations, and
even thought the judgment would be too lenient.
â€œ But perhaps he has been robbed,â€ said the Colonel at last.
â€œWhat matters ?â€ cried Strux, beside himself; â€œwhat business
had he so far away from us, after our continual warning?â€
â€œTrue,â€ replied Sir John; â€œbut we ought to know whether he
has lost the registers or been robbed of them. Has any one
robbed you, Palander ?â€ continued he, turning to the poor man,
who had sunk down with fatigue.
178 ADVENTURES IN THE
Palander made a sign of affirmation.
â€œWho?â€ continued Sir John. â€œNatives? Makololos?â€
Palander shook his head.
â€œWell, then, Europeans?â€ asked Sir John.
â€œNo,â€ answered Palander, in a stifled voice.
â€œWho, then?â€ shouted Strux, shaking his clenched fists in
â€œThey were neither nativesâ€”-nor white menâ€”but mon-
keys,â€ stammered out Palander at last.
It was a fact that the unhappy man had been robbed by a
monkey, and if the consequences of the incident had been less
serious, the whole party would have broken out into laughter.
Mokoum explained that what had just happened was of frequent
occurrence. Many times, to his knowledge, had travellers been
rifled by these pig-headed chacmas, a species of baboon very
common in South African forests. The calculator had been
plundered by these animals, though not without a struggle, as
his ragged garments testified. Still, in the judgment of his
companions, there was no excuse to be made: if he had re-
mained in his proper place, this irreparable loss would not have
â€œWe did not take the trouble,â€ began Colonel Everest, â€œto
measure an arc of meridian in South Africa for a blunderer
like you â€”â€
He did not finish his sentence, conscious that it was useless
to continue to abuse the unhappy man, whom Strux had not
ceased to load with every variety of vituperation. The Europe-
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 179
ans were, without exception, quite overpowered by emotion; but
Mokoum, who was less sensitive to the importance of the loss,
retained his self-possession.
â€œPerhaps even yet,â€ he said, â€œsomething may be done to
assist you in your perplexity. These chacmas are always care-
ful of their stolen goods, and if we find the robber we shall find
the registers with him. But time is precious, and none must be
The bushman had opened a ray of hope. Palander revived
at the suggestion: he arranged his tattered clothes as best he
could, and having accepted the jacket of one sailor and the hat
of another, declared himself ready to lead his companions to
the scene of his adventure.
They all started off toward the west, and passed the night
and the ensuing day without any favorable result. In many
places, by traces on the ground and the bark of the trees, the
bushman and the pioneer recognized unmistakable vestiges of
the baboons, of which Palander affirmed that he was sure he
had seen no less than ten. The party was soon on their track,
and advanced with the utmost precaution, the bushman affirm-
ing that he could only count on success in his search by taking
the chacmas by surprise, since they were sagacious animals,
such as could only be approached by some device of secrecy.
Early the following morning one of the Russian sailors, who
was somewhat in front, perceived, if not the actual thief, yet one
of: its associates. He prudently returned to the little troop,
who came at once to a halt.. The Europeans, who had resolved
180 ADVENTURES IN THE
to obey Mokoum in everything, awaited his instructions.
The bushman begged them to remain in quietness where they
were, and, taking Sir John and the. pioneer, turned toward the
part of the wood already visited by the sailor, carefully keeping
under shelter of the trees and bushwood.
In a short time the bushman and his two companions caught
sight of one chacma, and almost immediately of nine or ten
more, gambolling among the branches. Crouching behind a
tree, they attentively watched the animals. Their long tails
were continually sweeping the ground, and their powerful mus-
cles, sharp teeth, and pointed claws, rendered them formidable
even to the beasts of prey. These chacmas are the terror of
the Boers, whose fields of corn and maize, and occasionally
whose habitations, are plundered by them.
Not one of the animals had as yet espied the hunters; but
they all continued their sport, yelping and barking as though
they were great ill-favored dogs. The important point for de-
termination was, whether the actual purloiner of the missing
documents was there. All doubt was put aside when the pio-
neer pointed out a chacma wrapped in a rag of Palanderâ€™s coat.
Sir John felt that this creature must be secured at any price,
but he was obliged to act with great circumspection, aware as
he was that a single false movement would cause the whole
herd to decamp at once.
â€œStay here,â€ said Mokoum to the pioneer; â€œSir John and I
will return to our companions, and set about surrounding the
animals; but meanwhile do not lose sight of them.â€
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 181
The pioneer remained at his post, while Sir John and the
bushman returned to Colonel Everest. The only means of
securing the suspected culprit was to surround the whole troop.
To accomplish this, the Europeans divided into separate
detachments; one composed of Strux, Emery, Zorn, and three
sailors, was to join the pioneer, and to form a semicircle around
him; and the other, comprising the Colonel, Mokoum, Sir John,
Palander, and the other three sailors, made a dÃ©Â¢our to the left,
in order to fall back upon the herd from the other side.
Implicitly following the bushmanâ€™s advice, they all advanced
with the utmost caution. Their guns were ready, and it was
agreed that the chacma with the rags should be the aim for
. Mokoum kept a watchful eye upon Palander, and insisted
upon his marching close to himself, lest his unguardedness
should betray him into some fresh folly. The worthy astrono-
mer was almost beside himself in consternation at his loss, and
evidently thought it a question of life or death.
After marching with the frequent halts which the policy of
being unobserved suggested, and continuing to diverge for half
an hour, the bushman considered that they might now fall
back. He and his companions, each about twenty paces apart,
advanced like a troop of Pawnies on a war-trail, without a
word or gesture, avoiding even the least rustling in the branches.
Suddenly the bushman stopped; the rest instantly followed his
example, and standing with their finger on the lock of their
guns, were ready to raise them to their shoulder. The band of
182 ADVENTURES IN THE
chacmas was in sight, they were already sensible of some dan-
ger, and seemed on the look-out. The great animal which had
stolen the registers had, to their fancy, an appearance of being
especially agitated. It had been already recognized by Pa-
lander, who muttered something like an imprecation between
The chacma looked as if it was making signs to its com-
panions: some females, with their young ones on their shoul-
ders, had collected in a group, and the males went to and fro
around them. The hunters still drew on, one and all keeping
a steady eye direct toward the ostensible thief. All at once, by
an involuntary movement, Palanderâ€™s gun went off in his hands.
Sir John broke out into an exclamation of disgust, and instantly
afterwards fired. Ten reports followed: three chacmas lay
dead on the ground, and the rest, with a prodigious bound,
passed over the huntersâ€™ heads.
The robber baboon alone remained: it darted at the trunk
of a sycamore, which it climbed with an amazing agility, and
disappeared among the branches. The bushman, having
keenly surveyed the spot, asserted that the registers were there
concealed, and fearing lest the chacma should escape across the
trees, he calmly aimed and fired. The animal, wounded in the
leg, fell from branch to branch. In one of its fore-claws it was
seen to clutch the registers, which it had taken from a fork of
At the sight, Palander, with a leap like a chamois, darted at
the chagma, and a:tremendous struggle ensued. The.cries of:
Palanderâ€™s combat with the chacma.â€” Page 183.
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 183
both man and beast mingled in harsh and discordant strain, and
the hunters dared not take aim at the chacma for fear of wound-
ing their comrade. Strux, beside himself with rage, shouted
again and again that they should fire,and in his furious agita-
tion he would probably have done so, if it had not been that he
was accidentally without a cartridge for his gun, which had
been already discharged. e
The combat continued; sometimes Palander, sometimes the
chacma, was uppermost. The astronomer, his shoulders lacer-
ated by the creatureâ€™s claws, tried to strangle his adversary.
At last the bushman, seizing a favorable moment, made a
sudden dash, and killed the ape with one blow of his hatchet.
Nicholas Palander, bleeding, exhausted, and insensible, was
picked up by his colleagues: in his last effort he had recap-
tured his registers, which he was found unconsciously grasping
to his bosom.
The carcass of the chacma was conveyed with glee to the
camp. At the evening repast it furnished a delicious meal to
the hunters. To all of them, but especially to Palander, not
only had the excitement of the chase quickened their appetite
for the palatable dish, but the relish was heightened by the
gratifying knowledge that vengeance was satisfied.
184 ADVENTURES IN THE
yALANDERâ€™S wounds were not serious; the bushman
dressed the contused limbs with herbs, and the worthy
astronomer, sustained by his triumph, was soon able to travel.
Any exuberance on his part, however, was of short duration,
and he quickly became again engrossed in his world of figures.
He only now retained one of the registers, because it had been
thought prudent that Emery should take possession of the
other. Under the circumstances, Palander made the surrender
with entire good-humor.
The operation of seeking a plain suitable, for a base was
now resumed. On the 1st of April the march was somewhat
retarded by wide marshes; to these succeeded numerous pools,
whose waters spread a pestilential odor; but, by forming larger
triangles, Colonel Everest and his companions soon escaped
the unhealthy region,
The whole party were in excellent spirits. Zorn and Emery
often congratulated themselves on the apparent concord that
existed between their chiefs. Zorn one day expressed his
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 185
hope to his friend that when they returned to Europe they
would find that peace had been concluded between England
and Russia, so that they might remain as good friends as they
had been in Africa. ,
Emery replied that he acquiesced entirely in the hope:
in days when war is seldom long protracted they might be
sanguine all would be terminated by the date of their return.
Zorn had already understood from Emery that it was HOE His
intention to return immediately to the Cape, and expressed his
hope that he might introduce him to the observatory at Kiew.
This proposal Emery expressed his desire to embrace, and
added that he should indulge the expectation that Zorn would
at some future time visit the Cape.
With these mutual assignations they made their plans for
future astronomical researches, ever reiterating their hopes that
the war would be at an end.
â€œ Anyhow,â€ observed Emery, â€œRussia and England will be
at peace before the Colonel and Strux; I have no trust in any
reconciliation of theirs,â€
For themselves, they could only repeat their pledges of mu-
tual good-will. Z
Eleven days after the adventure with the chacmas, the little
troop, not far from the Zambese Falls, arrived at a level plain
several miles in extent, and perfectly adapted for the establish-
ment of a base. On the edge of the plain rose a native village,
composed of a few huts containing a small number of inhab-
itants, who kindly received the Europeans. Colonel Everest
186 ADVENTURES IN THE
found the proximity of the natives very opportune, since the
measurement of the base would occupy a-month, and being
without wagons, or any materials for an encampment, he would
have had no resource but to pass the time in the open air,
with no other shelter than that afforded by the foliage.
The astronomers took up their abode in the huts, which were
quickly appropriated for the use of their new occupants. Their
requirements were but small; their one thought was directed
toward verifying their calculations by measuring the last side
of their last triangle.
The astronomers at once proceeded to their work. The
trestles and platinum rods were arranged with all the care that
had been applied to the earliest base. Nothing was neglected;
all the conditions of the atmosphere, and the variations of the
thermometer, were taken into account, and the Commission,
without flagging, brought every energy to bear upon their final
The work, which lasted for five weeks, was completed on the
1sth of May. When the lengths obtained had been estimated
and reduced to the mean level of the sea at the temperature
of sixty-one degrees Fahrenheit, Palander and Emery presented
to their colleagues the following numbers :â€”
New base actually measured . : : A 4 5075-25
The same base deduced trigonometrically from
the entire series p 5 ; P , . 5075.11
Difference between the calculation and the obser-
vation . 5 3 : 3 5 d 4 â€œ14
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH, 187
Thus there was only a difference of less than one-sixth of
a toise, that is to say, less than ten inches; yet the first base
and the last were six hundred miles apart.
When the meridian of France was measured from Dunkirk
to Perpignan, the difference between the base at Melun and
that at Perpignan was eleven inches. The agreement obtained
by the Anglo-Russian Commission was still more remarkable,
and thus made the work accomplished in the deserts of Africa,
amid dangers of every kind, more perfect than any previous
The accuracy of this unprecedented result was greeted by
the astronomers with repeated cheers.
According to Palanderâ€™s reductions, the value of a degree
in this part of the world was 57037 toises. This was within
a toise, the same as found by Lacaille at the Cape in 1752:
thus, at the interval of a century, the French astronomer and
the members of the Anglo-Russian Commission had arrived
at almost exactly the same result. To deduce the value of the
mÃ©tre, they would have to wait the issue of the operations
which were to be afterwards undertaken in the northern
hemisphere. This value was to be the one ten-millionth of the
quadrant of the terrestrial meridian. According to previous
calculations, the quadrant, taking the depression of the earth
into account, comprised 10,000,856 mÃ©tres, which brought the
exact length of the mÃ©tre to .013074 of a toise, or 3 feet o inches
11,296 lines. Whether this was correct the subsequent labors
of the Commission would have to decide.
* * * * * * *â€
188 F ADVENTURES IN THE
The astronomers had now entirely finished their task, and .
it only remained for them to reach the mouth of the Zambese
by following inverscly the route afterwards taken by Dr. Liv-
ingstone in his second voyage from 1858 to 1864.
On the 2sth of May, after a somewhat laborious journey
across a country intersected with rivers, they reached the Vic-
toria Falls. These fine cataracts fully justified their native
name, which signifies â€œsounding smoke.â€ Sheets of water
amile wide, crowned with a double rainbow, rushed from
a height twice that of Niagara. Across the deep basalt chasm
the enormous torrent produced a roar like peal after peal of
Below the cataract, where the river regained its calmness,
the steamboat, which had arrived a fortnight previously by
an inferior affluent of the Zambese, awaited the astronomers,
who soon took their places on board.
There were two to be left behind. Mokoum and the pioncer
stood on the bank. In Mokoum the English were leaving,
not only a devoted guide, but one whom they might call a
friend. Sir John was especially sorry to part from him, and
had offered to take him to Europe, and there entertain him as
long as he pleased to remain. But Mokoum had previous
engagements; in fact, he was to accompany Livingstone on the
second voyage which the brave traveller was about to undertake
up the Zambese, and Mokoum was not a man to depart from
his word. He was presented with a susbtantial recompense,
and, what he prized still more, the kind assurances of regard of
LAND OF THE BEHEMOTH. 189
the Europeans, who acknowledged how much they owed to
him. As the steamer left the shore to take the current in
the middle of the river, Sir Johnâ€™s last gesture was to wave
an adieu to his associate.
The descent of the great river, whose banks were dotted
with numerous villages, was soon accomplished. The natives,
regarding with superstitious admiration the smoking vessel â€˜as
it moved by mysterious mechanism, made no attempt to ob-
struct its progress.
On the 15th of June the Colonel and his companions arrived
at Quilimane, one of the principal towns at the mouth of the
Zambese. Their first thought was to ask for news of the war.
They found that it had not yet come to a termination, and that
Sebastopol was still holding out against the allied armies. This
was a disappointment to the Europeans, now so united in one
scientific object; but they received the intelligence in silence,
and prepared to start. An Austrian merchant vessel, â€œZa
Novara,â€ was just setting out for Suez; in that they resolved
to take their passage. :
Three days after, as they were on the point of embarking,
the Colonel assembled his colleagues, and in a calm voice
reminded them how in the last eighteen months they had
together experienced many trials, and how they had been
rewarded by accomplishing a work which would call forth
the admiration of all scientific Europe. He could not refrain
from giving expression to his trust that they would feel them-
selves bound in the common fellowship of a true alliance.
190 ADVENTURES IN THE
Strux bowed slightly, but did not interrupt the Colonel,
who proceeded to deplore the tidings of the continuation
of warfare. When he referred to the expected capitulation of
Sebastopol, Strux indignantly rejected the possibility of such an
event, which no union of France and England, he maintained,
could ever effect.
There was, however, it was admitted on all hands, a pro-
priety in the Russians and English submitting to the national
status of hostility. The necessities of their position were
thus clearly defined, and under these conditions they embarked
in company on board â€œ Za /Vovara.â€
In a few days they arrived at Suez. At the moment of
separation Emery grasped Zornâ€™s hand, and said :â€”
â€œ We are always friends, Michael!â€
â€œ Always and everywhere, William!â€ ejaculated Zorn; and
with this sentiment of mutual devotion they parted.
The Commission was dissolved.
â€” FINIS, â€”
Be AO aes