Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

“We are playing at prison-bars," said Rouvière; “this will end badly."......He retreats a second time; but the animal, now grown impatient, draws nearer to him, and seems to challenge him to the assault, as would a little dog wishing to play with his master. Mr. Rouvière, incited to action, is on the qui vive ; the belt supporting his harpoon is already unbuckled; but he declines the onslaught-he will not be the aggressor. The lion roars for the third time, again resumes his course among the rocks, and for the third time also opposes the Colonist's progress.

« Now we shall see !"

Rouvière leans against the crag of a rock, and puts one knee to the ground : a pistol is at his feet, and, with his finger on the trigger of his gun, he awaits his formidable opponent. The King of the Forest, with bristling mane, paws the ground, opens wide his panting jaws, elevates his tremendous head, couches down, rises again, and seems to say to his adversary, “ Strike! fire !” The calm eye of Rouvière plunges as it were into the burning eye of the lion. They are now separated by a distance of five or six paces, and for an instant one would imagine two friends reposing. “Oh! 'tis in vain," grumbled Rouvière ; "I will not begin."

Who will say now by what sentiments the lion was inspired ? After a struggle of patience and courage, but without combat, the terrible quadruped roars louder than ever, darts off like an arrow, and disappears in the depths of the neighbouring desert.

“ Did you not think that your last hour was come?” said I to Rouvière. “I was so far from thinking that,” answered he, “that I said within myself at the moment in which the lion's breath reached me,

my friends will be very astonished when I relate this adventure to them." And Mr. Rouvière's veracity at the Cape cannot be called in question, under pain of contempt and lapidation.

“He walks a little lame,” said I one day to one of his fellow citizens. .“ A young tiger he once had to deal with mutilated one of his thighs.” “ And that shoulder larger than the other?”—“A furious billow threw him violently on shore when he saved a young woman from drowning, and he had his shoulder broken.”......

6 And that scar upon his cheek ?”—“It was occasioned by the horn of a buffalo that was laying waste the great market-place, and which he succeeded in securing at the peril of his life.”......" And the two fingers wanting to his left hand ?”—“He amputated them himself when bitten by a mad dog that had already made many victims....., Look! he is going to leave the room."

Mr. Rouvière rose, and bowed around. The whole assembly rose with him, addressing him in the most affectionate manner, each family inviting him for several days following, and not one person would let him go out without shaking hands with him. The baker Rouvière is the bravest fellow I ever saw in

my

life. The day succeeding this evening party and the above-mentioned conversation, I met Mr. Rouvière at the French Consul's, where he, a baker, without any fortune, was received with the proudest distinction. I asked him fresh details of his adventurous life. “By-and-bye," replied he; "hitherto I have only related to you trifles, such as I call

......

diversions. My struggles with the elements have been far more terrible than those I have had to sustain with the wild beasts of this country. I ask no better than to resume the past, in order to draw from it strength for the present, and consolation for the future: I shall tell you very curious things, I assure you.”—“Is it true,” said I, “ that in the interior of your locations, you dread more the presence of a tiger than that of a lion ?"-"What an error! a lion is much more formidable than three tigers. Here, every one sets out with very

little preparation to pursue the tiger ; the lion hunt is far more imposingand you

shall have the sight since you are curious about it. That is a real drama, a drama with blood. When one comes from afar, one must have something new to relate on one's return : join then in a Lion Hunt !”......and thus he“ told his tale, as I tell to you."

The preparations are no trifling matter. The Chief who is at the head of the expedition must first select intrepid and devoted slaves, then endeavor to find robust buffaloes, and a wagon mounted with small cannon, which are of necessity fired, if, instead of one enemy, several be encountered.

Mr. Rouvière was always lucky. He superintended everything ; and one morning, before day-break, the caravan, composed of fourteen Europeans and Colonists, and seventeen Kaffres and Hottentots, set forward by hardly distinguishable roads. But the Kaffre conductor was renowned as one of the most skilful in the colony, therefore we were without apprehensions, and jogged cheerily along.

Without any incident worthy of notice, at noon we arrived at the location of Mr. Clark, where we were kindly received. We set out again, at three o'clock, now threading thick heaths in a country altogether wild. Elephant River was on our left, and from time to time we followed its banks, driving before us many a hippopotamus. In the evening we arrived at a plantation belonging to Mr. Andrews, who entertained Mr. Rouvière as one friend entertains another, and who told us that for several weeks past he had neither heard of tiger, rhinoceros, nor lion. “We'll go farther on, then,” replied our Chief ; “ for I must have a victim, were it but a lion as gentle as a lamb.”

We made but a short halt, and the buffaloes resumed their rapid and noisy step. Soon the aspect of the ground began to change, and the surface became sandy. The heat was oppressive, and we passed two or three hours stretched on our mattrasses. Sleep, sleep !" said Mr. Rouvière to us ; “I will awake

you when 'tis

necessary,

and

you will not want to sleep afterwards.”

We encamped for the night near a large pool of stagnant water, quietly awaiting the return of day. In the morning we had an alarm which' kept us all on the qui vive; but Rouvière, casting a scrutinising eye on the motionless buffaloes, re-assured us : “there is neither tiger nor lion here," said he; “ the buffaloes know it well. The noise you have just heard was the crash of something falling--perhaps that of a tree in the neighbouring forest, or perhaps the bursting of a meteor. Now let's start !”

The third day we were dining at Mr. Anderson's, when a Hottentot slave ran in to inform us that he had heard the roaring of the lion. “ He's welcome!” said Rouvière smiling. “ To arms, my friends ! let

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the cattle be put to, and let my orders be strictly observed.” More scared slaves came in to confirm the report of the first, and notwithstanding the entreaties of Mr. Anderson, who refused to accompany us, we set out towards a wood in which Mr. Rouvière thought the wild beast was reposing. Several of the planter's slaves had voluntarily joined our little caravan, and being well acquainted with the environs, they undertook to surround the wood, and, if possible, drive the enemy into the open plain. We halted in a glade bordered by the wood on one side, and on the other by the inequalities of the soil, and thus found ourselves in a kind of amphitheatre.

“ It is to be understood, my friends, that I alone command ; I alone am to be obeyed : without that, perhaps not one of us will see the Cape again,” said Mr. Rouvière, from time to time compressing his lips and pushing up his hair. “ The enemy is not far off: let the

wagon and buffaloes remain there; stand all here in a single row; behind you the Hottentots will hold a change of guns ready, and ammunition for loading. I will be at your head, two 'paces in advance: but, in the name of Heaven! do not come to my assistance should you see me in peril. Stand firm together, elbow to elbow, or you are dead men...... Silence .......I heard ....... Now look at our poor buffaloes.”

A distant noise had just resounded. The front animals had squeezed themselves together, their heads turned to one common centre, in order not to see the approaching danger. “Ah! ah!" said Rouvière, rubbing his hands, “the visitor hastens: we must receive him warmly."

A second sound, which came nearer, was soon heard. deuce !" cried our intrepid Chief ; "he walks fast, is strong, and will soon be here......and here he is !”

Mr. Rouvière was admirably sagacious and energetic. The lion had just turned out of the wood, and, at our appearance, stopped short; he then slowly approached, seemed to reflect, and laid down.

“He knows his trade," continued the brave baker; "he has fought more than once ; let us go towards him to make him stand up: follow me, and remember, elbow touching elbow !"

The lion rose up, and immediately advanced a few paces to meet us. “Aim well, comrades !” said Rouvière, with one knee to the ground ; “ aim well, and at the word of command, three,' fire !...... Attention ! one, two, three !"

We punctually followed the orders of our Chief. A general discharge took place, when we immediately seized hold of the other arms presented by our slaves. The lion had made a terrible bound upon the spot, and flakes from his coat were flying about in all directions.

6 How hard he is to kill I” said Rouvière. “ Look! he does not fall !”

But the ferocious animal sent forth 'shortened roars, interrupted by deep sighs; his tail lashed against his sides with extreme violence; his red tongue passed and repassed over the long silky hair of his wrinkled face, whilst his two fawn-colored burning eyes rolled about in their orbits. Not one of us spoke a word, but not one of us lost sight of the formidable enemy, who had twenty-five of us to encounter.

Mr. Rouvière, turning his head rapidly towards us, said in a low

- The

voice, as if to judge of our feelings, “Does not one's heart beat quickly! Courage! we shall succeed!”

The lion's blood flowed abundantly, and reddened the ground around him. “Come! come !" continued our Chief in a lowered tone;

a fresh general discharge, and, if it be possible, let every one aim at the head, or near it.”

We were going to fire when one of the shooters dropped his gun, and, in stooping to pick it up, disclosed the naked breast of the Hottentot behind him. At this sight, the formidable lion springs up as if seized with vertigo; his nostrils swell, open, and close with rapidity; he stretches himself, falls back upon his haunches, and swings his monstrous head from right to left, seeking to look again upon the prey he covets-he must have he will have. “ There is a man lost!” murmured Rouvière.......“ Me dead !” said the Hottentot.

The lion begins to pace about, and shakes his thick mane: he darts forward with the swiftness of an arrow, leaps over Rouvière, who is still in a stooping position, knocks down seven or eight hunters, seizes the Hottentot, and carries him ten paces off, there holds him under his weighty paw, and yet seems to deliberate whether he will shew him favor or grind him to pieces.

We had now wheeled about. “ Are you ready?” said Rouvière, who had resumed his post before us.—“Yes.”—“ Fire, my friends !”

The lion fell, and rose at the same instant. He passed and repassed over the Hottentot like a cat playing with a mouse. Rouvière then approached alone, and bade the unfortunate slave not to stir. Within arm's length, he discharged both his pistols at once at the lion's head. The animal sent forth a dreadful roar, opened wide his bleeding jaws, and the next moment his teeth grasped the breast of the Hottentot. A few minutes after, two dead bodies lay extended on the spot, stretched one upon the other.

“ You do not seem quite relieved yet,” said Rouvière to us in an easy tone,

" and I can understand you. It is a difficult matter to vanquish such adversaries. We are very fortunate in having to regret but one man !”

The battle with the lion may be compared to the storms of the mighty ocean: one would be sorry not to have witnessed them once, but one reflects a long while before one is desirous to expose oneself to either a second time.

[blocks in formation]

The tiger and lion hunt among the Kaffres is less dramatic, but more curious perhaps than that adopted by Mr. Rouvière. Stationed on the edge of a precipice, they place upon the ground a quarter of an animal in a state of putrefaction, and as soon as the screams of the tiger, the barking of the hyenas, or the roar of the lion are heard, they cling to the projecting crags of a rock, from whose top they balance, by means of a rope or long pole, a sort of rannikin, distant from them about three or four yards. The wild beast darts on the mannikin, which seems to dispute the prize with him, and falls to the bottom of the precipice, where other Kaffres at their post kill him instantly. Mr. Rouvière speaks of this hunt with the utmost contempt.

JACQUES ARAGO, VOL. XIX.-SECOND SERIES,No.111,

Ee

THE BRITISH ANGLER'S MANUAL*.

It is notorious that artists are for the most part extremely solicitous to keep inviolably secret the principles and processes of their vocation ; and it has frequently been a subject of regret that those most disposed to afford information are utterly incapable of gratifying their disposition from total ignorance of literary accomplishments. Mr. Hofland, who possesses both the ability and the inclination, comes forward,

“ With skilful hand to form a lovely sketch

Of stream-side scenery," in the double capacity of artist and angler, and in both displays considerable judgment and discrimination, giving practical instruction in the most pleasing form to the tyro, and amusing those “votaries of the craft, who, whatever adepts they may be in the “ mystery,” still feel that there is much to learn, and who read to increase their stock of knowledge.

Mr. Hofland's apology for submitting a new Treatise on Angling, when so many have been ably written on the subject, is an ardent love of the art, and a desire to communicate to his brothers of the angle the result of more than thirty years' practice in the principal rivers, lakes, and trout-streams of Great Britain. “In my account of the different fishing-stations (he continues), I have endeavored to lead the tourist to the most beautiful scenery on the banks of the streams described, to the best points of angling, and to the most comfortable inns for entertainment. In this part of the work, I flatter myself, much information will be found, as I am not acquainted with any other who has conducted the angler to the numerous trout-streams in the northern counties, or to the grand and romantic lake-scenery of Westmoreland, Cumberland, and the Highlands of Scotland. The excellent Walton, and his instructive and entertaining pupil Cotton, have indeed made us intimately acquainted with the delightful Dove; and other writers have described the Thames, the Lea, and various waters in the vicinity of London, where the angler may exercise his art; but a guide to the Tourist was still wanting, and I trust the opportunities given to me as an artist(travelling much for the purpose of storing my mind and sketch-book with images of all that is sublime, beautiful, or picturesque in landscape) -of visiting most parts of Great Britain, combined with many years practical experience, have enabled me to become that guide. The embellishments of the work consist of views, selected from stations where the sport to be found on the river, or lake, may give to the angler an additional interest in the scene; with accurate delineations of the various kinds of fish, a numerous list of artificial flies, and of the baits and materials used in angling.'

Of these embellishments there are fourteen on steel, four “flies," and ten landscapes, one (Whitewell, Yorkshire) painted by W. Linton,

* The British Angler's Manual, or the Art of Angling in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland : with some account of the principal Rivers, Lakes, and Trout Streams in the United Kingdom ; with Instructions in Fly-fishing, Trolling, and Angling at the Bottom, and more partie cularly for the Trout. By T. C. Hotland, Esq., embellished with numerous Engravings on Steel and Wood, from original Pictures and Drawings by the Author London : Whitehead and Co., Fleet Street; and R, Ackermann, Regent Street.

« ПредишнаНапред »