Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

my legs, another would be third would

the terrijf

Abadabur Nullah. Ini

snow but he gotten,

spread blankets for me to sit on and so for him, he fooled us again. We had I would snuggle up to the fire, yawning waited for him too long and as a result and shivering, and getting smoke into we had to descend a very steep mounmy eyes until I cursed the day that tain in the dark — a somewhat hazardI ever came on an ibex hunt. Mean- ous proceeding. time one coolie would be massaging The next day at last luck was with my legs, another would be tying on my us. We found the old ibex asleep in grass shoes while yet a third would the terrible chasm that divides the bring me a breakfast that I was almost right wall of Abadabur Nullah into too sleepy to eat, and after all that two halves. That place is a veritable the day's hunt proved to be merely a gorge of death into which rocks are repetition of the last.

forever hurling themselves down the We made a very long detour and shelving gneiss that acts as a floor of would have gotten very close to the the chasm. The ibex was lying down, ibex but he heard the crunch of the some three hundred yards away, alsnow and from below us he circled un- most vertically beneath me. To shoot seen and then suddenly peeped down I literally had to lean over the edge, at us over a ledge about four hundred my shikari holding onto my legs as yards away. I looked at him through I fired, and, to say the least, I surthe telescope for about the one- prised myself by killing him. Several hundredth time, and wondered, as I other ibex ran across the floor of the gazed at the curious horns, if I would chasm when I fired. One male was alever have the pleasure of seeing them most hit by a falling rock and I saw in camp. Then he went right up to the him jump skillfully behind a projecting very summit of the mountain. I sank ledge as the rock went crashing by. back into the snow, very disgusted Then for some time I watched them with it all for it looked well-nigh hope- climb the wall on the far side. Now less. From below the roar of unseen and then they got into very tight waters racing down the chasm sud- places that necessitated a careful study denly came up strong on the wind. of the ground, followed by three or four For a moment the sound filled the air. flying leaps that nearly made my hair Then it grew fainter and fainter and stand on end to see, and I burst out was swallowed up again in endless with a ‘Gee! Did you see that Rahima ?' space just as the voice of a child is Two small ibex were following their swept away and lost in a storm. The mother at the end of the line, until mountain-side was in silence.

they came to a spot which they simply Rahima did not want to look at me. could not manæuvre. When they were He kept his eyes turned away and fin- getting left far behind, they showed gered his stick. I took out my field some initiative and, turning back down glasses. The ibex was struggling into the chasm again, they came up by through deep snow up near the sum- another route, going all the time just as mits. I watched him till he lay down fast as they could go until they caught on a slab of bare rock. 'Rahima,' I up with the others. said, 'what doing now?' 'See dem, see When the excitement was over and dem,' was his characteristic reply. I looked back at the fallen ibex, I hard*Pleases now sitting,' he went on. ly knew what to think. It would be ‘Evening kail down coming for food- impossible to describe the many, vaing.' And the ibex did come down that ried, and conflicting emotions that I evening, and, though we were ready have experienced in shooting game.

[ocr errors]

defense andary for 12 of a

Sometimes it is great glee, sometimes made him a more clever and a more regret, sometimes a combination of skillful hunter. On two occasions I had pity and sorrow and a strong distaste the rare pleasure of seeing Defosse in for the whole business. On this occa- action and it is something I can never sion I think there was a certain satis- forget. fied feeling of “Well, at last.' At the It was to Defosse that the Moys same time a natural feeling of regret, came with their troubles, for he spoke for it seems that the longer the chase Annamite, Moy, English, and French continues, the more of a friend the with remarkable fluency. For the two object of the chase becomes. You get months in the jungle we were always to know him pretty well — his little more or less surrounded by Moys who tricks and habits, his favorite haunts served us as coolie porters and trackers, and feeding grounds — and it is im- and they were a constant source of possible therefore that one should expe- interest. They are the original Malays rience only a feeling of glee when the of Indo-China and as far back as their big head has fallen and his battle is traditions go they have lived in the at an end.

interior. To the Moys the jungle is the whole world. In olden days a tribal

war caused the erection of a mud wall In Peking I heard of Defosse, whose as a boundary for the Moys and a reputation as a man, guide, and hunter defense against the Annamites who has traveled far. I set about then and were invading the sea coast. The wall there to try to secure his services and still exists and so successfully has it was so fortunate that by the first week landlocked the Moys that even to-day, of January, 1923, I was setting out although some tribes live within 50 with the great hunter for the jungles of kilometres of the coast, they have abIndo-China. Defosse is an old man of solutely no knowledge of the sea. the jungle. For eighteen years he has The Moys have one great god of the made his living as a hunter, and he has jungle, and subordinate gods for each a knowledge of the jungle that few men different species of animal. In the of to-day possess. A typical white event that they make a killing with man of the tropics, he has fought the their crossbows and poisoned arrows, a fever all his life. He is thin and drawn propitiation to the God of that species looking, and his eyes are heavy. Only is necessary. In the case of an elephant, his tremendous feet and hands tell of the propitiation lasts eight days and the man he might have been. But the ceremony takes on the form of a when his rifle is at his shoulder, steady “Kaniau,' or drunken debauch. It is as a rock, he is beautiful to see. As a held about the carcass of the dead young man he was 'first shot’ of the animal. A Moy will never give any French regiment in which he came to information as to the whereabouts of Indo-China, and his skill with the rifle dangerous game, for surely the animal has been increasing ever since. In the would know and revenge himself on early days of his hunting he had many that Moy. Thus at one of our camps, an accident. He has been on the horns although the Moys found a fresh tiger's of wild buffaloes, he has been caught kill a short distance away, they never by an elephant, he has been gored by a told us a thing about it till three days wild boar, and he has had to run for later when the kill was devoured and his life from a wounded tiger; yet these the tiger gone. To the Moys a tiger is and other experiences have simply "Ong Cop' – Mr. Tiger — and is spo

he ceremon

is beautiful tider, steady

ieve thanat whenhack to co find

ken of quietly and with great respect; picture himself regretfully crawling but Mr. Elephant - 'Ông Bô' - is out of bed into the pitch darkness of a rarely even mentioned.

cold misty morning. A dreary breakThe white man is something the fast and we are glad to get under way. Moys as yet cannot explain quite Dawn has just broken and the mist lies satisfactorily. He is a born master, black and heavy over the forest. A few can do anything he likes, and, for the tall trees out in the open lift their heads reason that he does not have to trouble above its surface. They are the trees of himself with propitiations, he is almost a dream, weird and unsupported, and a sort of semi-god himself. And yet their great black trunks disappear into nothing that the white man does do the blacker mist below. The trail leads the Moys consider wonderful. Any a way through the accursed elephant people who can build a contrivance grass. It is wet and the cold clammy that wood and water will cause to run dew soaks us to the skin. We see fresh at great speed, hauling any number of tiger tracks. The fellow has passed wagons, can do anything; and with that camp during the night. their wonder ceases. A rifle, a telescope, As Kipling says, “the dawn comes and such things do not even cause up like thunder,' and in a few minutes curiosity. “Why!'they say simply, with a sickly green disk arises over the rim a shrug of their shoulders, 'white man's of the great forest. The mist begins to work,' and that is the end of it. The move this way and that and the sun Moys believe that a compass points to turns to livid orange and to pale yellow. the game, and that when you want to The jungle cocks are crowing and the return it points directly back to camp. long-tailed peacocks are hurling their No wonder the white man can find raucous notes over the open spaces as game and no wonder he can go straight we step into the jungle. It is dark there, back home through the jungle. There and cool, and dripping, and we cannot is nothing remarkable about it. It is see our rifle-sights. Of a sudden there 'white man's work.

is a great shaking of branches overhead, We had moved camp into good ele- and a flock of little gray monkeys runs phant country where there was plenty away like squirrels through the tree of ‘sign and for several days we had tops; and so we push on through the been hard at work burning down the jungle, the vines and giant creepers long grass. During the night we had and thorny bushes catching at our heard elephants trumpeting, and De clothing. fosse had expressed a feeling that on Very soon we come on the fresh the morrow an elephant would be shot. tracks of a large elephant herd and the

Elephants are very numerous in sensation and thrill that creep over us Indo-China, but, owing to the thick as we step gingerly about, examining jungle they inhabit, it is extremely these great tracks, is wonderful. For a difficult to get them, unless you are so long time the elephants had just been fortunate as to catch them in the open milling around this way and that. early or late. They come out to the Then they separated into two herds, watering holes during the night but one going back deep into the jungle, usually beat a hasty retreat to the cool the other circling out over the open of the forest at the first sign of day. spaces, through the elephant grass. This is especially true in the dry season. These we follow and on the way we see So I must ask my reader to step with the dancing-place of the elephants me for a moment into the jungle and to which Kipling describes in the Jungle VOL. 194 - NO. 1

Book story of 'Little Tumai.' Grass It is getting exciting and I wait and earth alike have been stamped to resting against a tree trying in vain to the hardness of cement. On and on we make out a head to shoot at. To be follow till the sun swings high, white sure, I can occasionally see a trunk or and blistering. As we pass a narrow a bit of a flapping ear, but it would be island of jungle that is surrounded by folly to risk a shot, especially as it open grass I say to Defosse, 'Let's step seems to be merely a matter of time into the shade and rest a while. until a good opportunity presents it

It is an idea that, I must confess, is self. Then the wind changes. Just a ever present when the sun is up and it puff of air is wafted through the jungle merely requires a good opportunity as toward the elephants. Defosse swears. an excuse to effect it. Well, we do, and Suddenly there is tremendous crashing I have hardly lifted my canteen to my and all the trees in the jungle seem to lips when we hear loud crashing close be shaking. The crashing ceases and by. “The elephants,' whispers Defosse, we hear the swishing of tall grass. in a tone which fairly sets me tingling ‘Shoot in the air and run to the big inside. The two Moy natives show tree. I obey and Defosse and I run great alacrity in getting up a tree and for the tree. At sound of the shots the then turn and grin down at us from elephants wheel and hurl themselves their perch like a pair of monkeys. back into the jungle. We make our way toward the sound. The terrific crashing grows louder.

In Defosse's language — I know Defosse and I stand by the tree tense that we are ‘attacking the elephants.' and ready. The elephants stop. 'They Working into the interior of the patch are looking for trouble,' whispers of jungle we find that it opens up a bit Defosse. One moves on. He is not for a distance of about forty yards. The coming straight for us. He circles elephants are not thirty yards from around and passes directly beneath one end of this little glade. We can see the tree the Moys are sitting in. We the trees shaking, hear the breaking can see the Moys, but so thick is the branches, and the dull flap of elephant mass of creepers below that we cannot ears, but to see the elephants is im- see the elephant and we do not dare possible. We make a circle back go into the thick jungle and try to through the jungle behind to assure 'head' them. I can see the Moys lookourselves that we are not surrounded, ing straight down. If we shoot the

thick section of the jungle in which the have to step on his back getting down elephants are browsing. Then Defosse off the tree. For a moment I have explains that, since this strip of jungle visions of the elephant reaching up is surrounded by open grass, my first with his trunk and grabbing them. It shot will bring them racing back through would be so easy for him. Then he the jungle in our direction as they will passes around us in a circle leaving an not dare to risk crossing the open. open trail behind him where before ‘Therefore,' he says, “as soon as you there was an impenetrable mass of shoot, we will run back to that big creepers. tree and that will give us thirty yards Now the other elephants come on. of clear jungle to kill in. Don't stop There is loud crashing in front and shooting until there are no more ele- behind as the elephants smash their phants facing us and remember: not way through the forest. But they have below the line of the eyes!'

located us perfectly by that first puff

of wind and they all circle by and move on and we do not get in one shot. The strip of jungle at this point is not more than seventy yards wide, and we are in the middle of it, and yet five elephants pass us in that narrow strip and we are unable to get in a single shot.

I look back on the scene I know that it is an impression that will not soon be forgotten. But we are getting near camp now and I hurry on ahead.

“What's the hurry?' asks Defosse. ‘Beer,' I answer, and hurry faster and at the same time I laugh at myself. Such is the human being, I thought.

phants on foot, so we start for camp. system was concentrated on elephants The sun is hotter than ever and the and now — how ignominious — it seems miles are long. I cannot help thinking to be equally concentrated on beer. how quickly things change. We were To-night as I write, the jungle moon having such fun a short time ago and is sailing a cloudy sea, and the Southnow it is back to the same old story of ern Cross stands over there on the rim sweating along through the accursed of the great forest. The soft air flowing sword grass under the doubly accursed in among the black tree-trunks brings broiling sun. Defosse stops to light his in the noises of the jungle — the bell pipe and I hate him for stopping. How of the sambur stag, the yelp of the any man can stop to light a pipe under hog deer, the sharp bark of the muntthat sun I cannot understand. Then jac, the songs of night birds and crickhe shows me where he and a Belgian ets and lizards, and now in the distance had been forced to kill five elephants; the roar of angry elephants, Kipling's but I am not a bit interested in the ‘pin prick of sound in the darkness.' elephants that somebody else has shot. And Defosse — 'l'empereur des forOur elephants have slipped right êts,' as the French call him, an old through our fingers and the idea rankles. man of the jungle, with ninety-eight

Nevertheless I have had my first elephants and forty-five tiger notches real elephant hunt and have enjoyed on his gun — waves a careless hand it tremendously. I have seen gigantic out into the night. bodies that for all the world might ‘And I have all that just for the have been mastodons smashing their asking,' he says. And I do not have way through a primeval forest and as to pay.'

orced ere he antand. Ther

« ElőzőTovább »