The Project Gutenberg EBook of Wide World Magazine, Vol. 22, No. 132,
March 1909, by Various

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Title: Wide World Magazine, Vol. 22, No. 132, March 1909

Author: Various

Release Date: June 25, 2016 [EBook #52408]

Language: English

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Magazine Cover

Table of Contents

HOW I GOT MY JAGUAR-SKIN. By Dr. T. A. Stoddard. 523
OUT OF THE SKIES. Told by Lionel Beakbane and Set Down by L. H. Brennan. 525
A NIGHT ADVENTURE IN YOKOHAMA. By P. V. Alpiser, of the Bureau of Posts, Manila, Philippine Islands. 528
TEN LIONS in a DAY! By Walter Cooper. 531
MY FRIEND DALTON: A Tale of the Klondike. By HARRY DE WINDT. 538
TWO GIRLS IN JAPAN. By Irene Lyon. 544
THE LAST CREEK. By John Mackie. 550
HOW WE CAPTURED THE REBEL CHIEF. By E. F. Martin, late of the Royal Niger Company's Service. 566
ROUND THE WORLD WITH A BILLIARD-CUE. By Melbourne Inman, British Billiard Association Champion. 573
AN EVENING CALL. By Ernest Law. 580
THE LONGEST CHASE ON RECORD. By Vincent M. Hemming. 601
THE WIDE WORLD: In Other Magazines.   618
MAP.   624

[pg 522]


(SEE PAGE 525.)

[pg 523]

The Wide World Magazine.

No. 132. Vol. XXII. MARCH, 1909.


A further instalment of a budget of breezy little narratives—exciting, humorous, and curious—hailing from all parts of the world. This month's collection deals with a thrilling fight between a jaguar and a boa-constrictor, the tragic fate of a Canadian cowboy, and a night adventure in Japan.


By Dr. T. A. Stoddard.


IN the month of November, 1907, I arrived at the Isthmus of Panama to do some zoological work, and incidentally to get a better knowledge of the geography of the infant republic. I landed at Colon, a dirty, dingy town of about eight thousand inhabitants, built on a low, swampy island separated from the mainland by a narrow but deep lagoon. Here I secured the services of two Spaniards to act as carriers, and, going by boat some ten miles up the coast, disembarked in a drenching rain near the mouth of the Santa Rita River.

I carried a small supply of tinned and tabloid foods, and these we packed through the jungle to the highest point of the Santa Rita mountains, a distance of ten miles. We made a very comfortable camp, and after a hearty meal turned in for the night.

I slept very little, tired though I was, being kept awake by the howlings of jaguars, cougars, and bobcats. However, after a hasty breakfast in the early morning, I started out alone with my Winchester strapped on my back and carrying a single-barrelled sixteen-gauge shot-gun in my hand. I also carried a short but sharp and heavy machete, without which it is impossible to travel in this impenetrable jungle of mahogany, cedar, yellow-wood, and palms of various kinds, all supporting vines of every size and character. Some of these vines hang from a height of seventy-five feet, touching the ground and sending out tendrils which climb to unknown heights on other trees, thus forming a most intricate network, through which it is impossible to see more than a few feet ahead.

From a Photograph.

I had been travelling for about an hour, trying to locate the source of the Santa Rita, and winning every inch of ground by hacking and slashing with the machete, when I was startled by a most fearful scream, which seemed to come from somewhere immediately behind me. To say that my blood "froze in my veins," even in this tropical climate, would be but a poor and inadequate figure of speech to describe my feelings. I had heard of the treachery of the San Blas Indians who inhabit the country to the eastward, and my first thought was of them. Turning round and looking back anxiously over the trail I had just made, I saw a great commotion taking place among the vines, dead leaves, and decaying branches which carpeted the ground, and the blood-curdling screams I had heard rang out again and again. For what seemed hours to me, but were really only seconds, I could not comprehend what was transpiring so close to me, and what kind of creature was giving utterance to such agonizing cries. At length, however, venturing a little nearer, I discovered it to be a "tiger," or, properly speaking, a jaguar or American leopard, and [pg 524] it was writhing in the coils of an enormous boa-constrictor. The great snake appeared to have the side of the jaguar's head in its mouth, and a coil or two of its body around the neck of the beast, which was making frantic efforts to regain its liberty. The snake had its tail coiled round a small ebony tree about a foot in diameter, and whenever the hapless jaguar relaxed its efforts the serpent would swiftly release itself from the tree and make an attempt to get another coil around the body of its opponent.

I stood there fascinated with horror, and yet forgetting my fear in the interest I was taking in this terrible fight between beast and reptile. Presently the snake, with an incomprehensibly quick movement—in fact, almost too quick for the eye to follow—succeeded in getting two more coils around the body of the jaguar, but not without receiving several severe lacerations from the formidable claws of its victim. Then letting go the jaguar's head, where it seemed to have a firm hold, the boa-constrictor raised its head, seemingly in triumph, and, with its tail still wrapped round the tree, lifted the body of the jaguar up in the air. I heard the bones crack under the fearful strain, and with one awful, despairing scream the jaguar fell back—dead!

During all this time I stood rooted to the spot, too spellbound to stir. Now, however, I realized that I stood in considerable danger, for other constrictors might be near, who would treat me in the same manner as this one had treated the unfortunate jaguar. Taking a hasty look around I saw nothing but trees and hanging vines in all directions. I then decided that I wanted the jaguar as much as the snake did, and, moreover, that I wanted to kill the snake. I had a charge of small shot in the gun which I carried in my hand, and, withdrawing this, I replaced it with a cartridge containing B.B. shot. By this time the serpent had uncoiled himself from his dead victim and also from the tree, and seemed to be dressing his wounds, for he was rubbing his nose, if a snake can be said to have such an organ, over the lacerations caused by the claws of the jaguar. Raising my gun and taking deliberate aim, I was about to shoot the reptile through the head, when I detected a slight rustling from the direction in which I had been travelling. Turning round suddenly, I peered through the hanging vines and leaves of the jungle, but could see nothing. Then, wiping the perspiration from my forehead and out of my eyes, I looked again carefully, but could not see anything animate.


I was about to wheel again to secure my snake when I noticed that one of the vines was swinging as if disturbed by the wind. Looking up, I saw that not a leaf was stirring on the trees; there was no breeze whatever. I thought this somewhat strange, and decided to investigate more closely. So, taking my machete out [pg 525] of the sheath, I leaned the gun against a tree and started cutting my way towards the swinging vine. I had taken but a few steps when the vine swung rapidly towards me. Then, to my intense horror, I discovered it to be another boa-constrictor, hanging from the bough of a mahogany tree, its mouth wide open.

Instinctively I screamed, ducked, and slashed savagely at it with my machete. I drew some blood from its neck, but almost before I could recover myself the creature swung viciously towards me again. I repeated my first performance, not forgetting the yell, for I was far too frightened to run. This time, however, I succeeded much better with the machete, for I inflicted a severe wound over the reptile's eye.

Again it retreated and again swung towards me, and thus we fought, I succeeding at each swing in doing my adversary some damage. Once it struck me on the left shoulder with the point of its lower jaw, sending me reeling to the ground. Wildly I sprang to my feet and dashed with renewed vigour into the struggle, cutting, slashing, and screaming continually, without presence of mind enough to run or think of my gun. Finally, in maddened desperation, I made a frantic slash as the horrible thing was swinging towards me, and by the merest good fortune caught it fairly behind the head with the sharpest and broadest part of the machete, almost severing its head from its body. Its tail uncoiled from the limb above and its sinuous body fell with a crash to the ground. A second later there was another fall—myself. I lay there trembling with weakness, fully conscious, but dripping with perspiration and too much exhausted to stand.

After some time I remembered the jaguar and the live snake which lay but a few yards away, and at once sprang to my feet, caught up my gun, and turned to investigate. I speedily discovered the reason for the snake's quiescence. The jaguar was rapidly disappearing down the capacious throat of his successful enemy. Again I took careful aim, and put the whole load of large shot fairly through the body of the snake about two feet from its head and about two inches from the nose of the jaguar, which was being swallowed whole. Having killed the snake, I secured the skin of the jaguar, which measured from tip of tail to nose nine feet four inches; it was a male, and beautifully marked. The constrictor that killed the jaguar measured twenty-nine feet two inches in length and twenty-eight inches round at the largest part. The one with which I had the encounter was twenty-five feet long and twenty-two inches round.

I reached camp about noon, covered with blood, but proudly carrying my jaguar-skin, and just for fun I informed the Spaniards that I had killed the animal with my ·22. They examined the skin for the bullet-hole, but failed to find it. Thereupon I calmly told them that I always shot animals like that in the eye, so as not to spoil the skin! They now think the "Gringo" a mighty hunter indeed.


Told by Lionel Beakbane and Set Down by L. H. Brennan.

In 1907 I was employed as a cowboy on the Wally Ranch, situated a little to the north of Fort Saskatchewan, in Alberta, Canada. It was there that an incident occurred which I shall never forget as long as I live. Such a thing has never happened before in Canada, so far as I am aware, and I hope it will never happen again.

During the particular week I have in mind we had a pretty rough time of it and were all more or less tired out, but we had to keep going. There had been some heavy storms and the cattle were unusually restive, needing a lot of attention. One Thursday, about two in the morning, we were seated round the camp fire getting something to eat. There were five of us there, amongst us a comparative new-comer named Harry Munroe. He was a splendid young fellow, and took to the work from the first. He was a capital rider and a first-class shot. I had always liked him, and used to take him with me to outlying posts on every possible occasion. On this particular night we had a mob of about two thousand five hundred head of cattle to look after. The weather outlook had been very threatening for a long time. Great clouds rolled one after the other across the face of the moon, and presently the latter disappeared behind them altogether. The next moment, without warning, the storm burst upon us. In an instant we were on our horses, everyone ready for action, for each man of us knew that at the first flash of lightning the cattle would stampede. Only those who have experienced the spectacle of a thunderstorm on the American prairies can have any idea of its grandeur. It is a magnificent display of Nature's powers for a human being who can understand and appreciate it, but a terrifying thing indeed for a herd of helpless beasts.

I thought it best to take young Munroe along with me, as he was not experienced enough in following a stampede to go alone. The three [pg 526] others were old hands and needed no directions. Very often the cattle will suddenly turn right about without any warning, and it needs an experienced and cool-headed man to keep his saddle and save his life when such a thing occurs.

We had not long to wait—only a few seconds—and then our work began. A flash of baleful light zigzagged across the skies, and the terror-stricken beasts rushed off headlong into the night. It was an appalling sight to see the fear-maddened brutes racing over the prairie. Heads upraised, mouths open, and tails lashing the air, they neither knew nor cared where they were going. Sometimes one would stumble and fall, only to be immediately trodden under foot by his comrades, and the thudding of their feet could be heard as a dull rumble in the lulls of the storm.

On and on they went in their mad career, horses and men close behind them. We could do nothing but follow them and, when the storm abated, collect them and drive them back to the station. The rain came down in torrents and the lightning almost blinded one, so vivid and terrific were the flashes, while the claps of thunder which followed seemed to shake the earth. We had been going at a tremendous pace for perhaps ten minutes, when a small range of hills loomed up in front. I knew what would happen when the cattle reached this, and was of course prepared. I yelled out to Munroe to keep close to me, so as to follow my instructions.

"The beasts will stop at these hills and either wheel round or else turn off to the right or left," I shouted.

Suddenly the whole herd stopped and, sniffing the air for a moment, seemed undetermined what course to take. At that critical moment an awful flash of lightning rent the air, completely blinding me for a moment, and simultaneously I heard a terrific report immediately behind me. These two occurrences decided the cattle, and they turned and went pell-mell along the foot of the hills to the right. For the moment I scarcely knew what had happened, but as the last of the herd disappeared I turned round and called to young Munroe. "Are you there, Harry?" I cried, but I got no answer. Again and again I shouted, riding a little distance after every shout, but no answering hail reached me. I knew Munroe would not follow the herd without me, and at length I came to the conclusion that something must be amiss with him. Perhaps his horse had stumbled and thrown him, or he had been caught and overwhelmed by the passing herd. There was nothing to be done, however, but to wait for the daylight; I dare not move in the pitch blackness for fear of trampling upon him.

Already drenched to the skin, and with the rain still pouring down in torrents, the lightning and the deafening peals of thunder combined to make that night the most miserable of my existence. I had to keep on the look-out, too, for any signs of the cattle, as they might easily, from some cause or another, return along the base of the hills.

They did not appear, however, and so I kept my watch through that awful night alone. I do not know how long the storm lasted, but it must have been two or three hours at least.

From a Photograph.

At last, to my infinite relief, the dawn arrived, and I looked round anxiously for some signs of Harry Munroe. I had not gone far when, at a short distance, I discerned the figures of poor Harry and his horse, lying motionless on the ground. Leaving my own horse I ran towards them. It was apparent, [pg 527] long before I reached them, that both man and horse were dead.


"Good heavens!" I involuntarily exclaimed, as I came nearer. "What has happened?" Then, suddenly, I realized the awful thing that had occurred. The lightning had struck Munroe's cartridge-belt, exploding the whole of the cartridges simultaneously, and killing man and horse on the spot. Poor Munroe! It was a terrible end; the only consolation was that it must have been instantaneous.

Shocked and saddened by this awful calamity I stayed by my dead friend, for I knew the boys would soon be coming to seek us. Then, a very quiet procession, we bore our poor comrade's body off to the ranch for burial.

[pg 528]


By P. V. Alpiser, of the Bureau of Posts, Manila, Philippine Islands.

The traveller who has visited Japan has, as a general rule, nothing but good to say of the land and its very polite people; and as a rule, also, it may be said that such praise is well merited, for the Japanese certainly try exceedingly hard to please all visitors, and, if they do not always succeed, the fault in all probability lies with the visitors and not with the people. Unpleasant experiences rarely occur to the foreigner in the domains of the Mikado. The Japanese cities and the country are perfectly policed, and robberies are seldom heard of. However, I can testify from personal experience that one can meet with unpleasant incidents in this well-regulated kingdom.

In the early spring of 1903 I was journeying to the Philippines, and arrived in Yokohama during the latter part of April—in the midst of the cherry-blossom season, a most delightful time to visit Japan. The air was full of the agreeable aroma of the cherry blossoms, and all Yokohama was in festival attire, making a scene of great animation and gorgeousness.

On the evening of my last day, after dinner, I strolled through the main streets of the city, down gay Theatre Street, with its rows of flaunting, unreadable banners, and far out along a broad avenue across a number of oddly-constructed wooden bridges, not noticing and not caring whither I went.

My walk took me much farther than I had supposed, and when I started to return I discovered that a strong wind was blowing and a storm threatening. When about half-way back to the steamship pier I found, to my annoyance, that I had lost one of my gloves, and decided that I had left it in the small restaurant where I had had dinner—a very nice place kept by a Japanese family who had lived in Boston, Massachusetts, for a number of years, and which the doctor of our ship had highly recommended. It seemed to me that I could not be very far from this place, and I decided to call in for my glove. The restaurant was located in a side street in the curio district of the city, branching off from the main thoroughfare I was on.

When I turned down this side-street it was entirely deserted. Not a living thing was in sight and the road was absolutely and totally dark, neither the city nor the residents, apparently, providing any lights to illuminate the street. I had gone some little way down this gloomy lane when a door on the opposite side of the street suddenly burst open and two men jumped out and came running towards me. I stopped and asked them the whereabouts of the restaurant. One of them answered gruffly, and in bad English, that he did not know. I turned to go on, noting out of the tail of my eye that the men, after speaking together for a moment, followed me.

As I walked slowly away one of the pair gave a peculiar call.

It was instantly responded to by two more men, who stepped into the street from a house just behind me, and as the light from within the doorway shone upon them for a brief moment I plainly saw the glint of steel from a long knife one held in his hand.

Late that afternoon, as it happened, I had bought a heavy, curiously-carved cane as a souvenir, and, fortunately, I had this cane with me. Now, realizing that I was in a tight corner, I increased my pace somewhat, swinging the cane with the small end in my hand, and watching narrowly to prevent any one of the four from getting in front of me, or stealing upon me unawares from behind.

In another moment I saw they were preparing for a rush, and I knew that, although I might down one or two of them with my stick, the others would easily overpower me. Vainly I looked up the street; no one was to be seen! The houses on both sides were as black as pitch; there was not a light anywhere! Not even a star twinkled above, for heavy clouds obscured the sky.

For some reason it did not occur to me to call for help. In fact, I have always been a rather silent man, doing my work in the quietest manner possible, and taking my diversions in the same manner. I do not think I should have uttered a sound if these ruffians had ended my career then and there. Perhaps a cry would have brought me ready assistance from a score of adjacent houses, but it never occurred to me to give it.

I had proceeded but a short distance, always with an eye on my followers, when I saw, or felt, perhaps, that the rush was coming. I heard no sound, for the rascals were absolutely noiseless in their movements.

Hastily I jumped to the nearest house and, with my back to it, prepared to lay about with my stout stick. The four villains were right at my heels, he with the knife a little in advance of the others. A picture of the group at that moment would have made a most interesting souvenir of Japan.

[pg 529]

I was just beginning to regret that I had not suffered the loss of my glove without protest, when the foremost scoundrel made a lunge towards me. Simultaneously, a loud ringing, clanging sound smote my ears, and the quartet disappeared from my view like magic. I am not sure now that I did not rub my eyes vigorously to see if I was awake.

The noise that had saved me proceeded from the next side-street parallel to the one I was on, and I was at a loss to account for it. It was repeated time after time, gradually growing fainter, and finally ceasing altogether.

Needless to say, I took instant advantage of the respite thus afforded me, and hurried along at my best pace. I felt sure that my late assailants would not give up their attempt so easily, and before I had gone thirty steps my fears were realized.

Glancing back nervously every few yards, I presently saw several dark shadows gliding along behind me, and I unconsciously drew over towards the opposite side of the street. As I passed very near the door of a house that protruded into the street some little way beyond the other buildings a side door burst open ahead of me and a young Jap stood in the doorway just long enough for the lamplight to strike squarely on his face and to reveal, to my surprise, the features of my rickshaw man of that very afternoon!

A low whistle sounded from behind me and the man jumped out of the door and stepped in front of me. It was quite plain to me that this rickshaw man, having seen that I carried considerable money that day, had organized this attempt to rob me, and that he was determined to succeed at any cost.

I was surrounded, but, so far as I knew, only one of the precious lot had a weapon—the man with the knife. I felt the rush again, the one in front and the two or three behind, and I jumped towards the house, but was compelled to turn before reaching it and defend myself.

My rickshaw man was the first upon me, and I had the sweet satisfaction of laying him flat on his back with a tremendous crack over the head. At the same instant, before I could turn, I felt the sharp swish of something flying past my head and heard the ripping of cloth at my side.

From a Photograph.

The man with the knife had slashed at me and had cut my clothes open from my right shoulder to my hip, but, luckily, so far as I could feel, without even scratching the skin. I swung about quickly, and as he raised his arm for another and perhaps more effective stroke brought my cane down fiercely on his arm; the knife fell to the ground with a clatter. Another of the rascals stooped to pick it up, while the rickshaw man began to sit up. It was a critical moment, but the age of miracles is not yet past!

Again that harsh, ringing clang broke through the blackness of the night, and this time from almost at my side, and a moment later into the street, a few doors away, there stepped a black figure, and brought a long steel rod down on the hard ground with a noise that sent all four of my assailants scuttling away into complete obscurity for once and all.

My rescuer was clad in a long black cloak with a sort of helmet on his head, also black, and carried a steel rod, perhaps eight feet long, to which were attached several iron rings and a long chain. He was, it appeared, a night-watchman, and as he proceeded on his rounds he struck the ground with the rod, thus announcing to all, evil-doers and righteous as well, that an arm of the law was at hand. This quaint old watchman—for he was quite old and grizzled—in his queer costume, seemed a relic of the Middle Ages; he was quite different from the regular Japanese policemen in their smart and jaunty uniform.

I stepped forward and, kicking something with my foot, stooped to see what it was, and found the knife which the would-be robbers had failed to carry off with them. The watchman silently surveyed me for a time, and then to my surprise spoke slowly in English. "You no good here!" he said; "go hotel soon!"

I lost no time in taking his advice, and in about an hour's time reached the hotel near the pier. To my intense astonishment, however, I found the doors locked. I tried for a few minutes to rouse someone, but failed entirely.

I then went to three other hotels, without better result. This consumed some time, of course, and finally, giving up in disgust, I walked back to the pier, entered the Customs House, and saw it was but a little past eleven o'clock. [pg 530] Think of it! Hotels closed, locked, and barred at 11 p.m.! This was another new experience for me; I had evidently not yet learned everything about Japan.


I then tried to get a boatman to take me out to my ship, but none would do so, all saying that a typhoon was blowing. "No can do; too much typhoon; turn boat down up!" There was nothing to be done, therefore, but to wait in a corner of the Customs House for daylight. When it came I hailed a sampan and went to the steamer, taking with me my cane and the knife—interesting souvenirs of my night's adventure.

[pg 531]


By Walter Cooper.

The story of an exciting day's sport on the Athi River, British East Africa. The lions came not singly, but in troops, and no fewer than ten fell to the rifles of the party of three! The last lion, however, nearly bagged a member of the party before being killed by a plucky native.


WE were visiting British East Africa in quest of big game, and on our arrival at Mombasa at once proceeded by the railway to Stony Athi Station, taking with us a Swahili headman named Abdullah, a cook, four gun-bearers, three tent boys, and over fifty porters, who had been engaged in advance for us by one of the leading trading houses.

Soon after leaving Mombasa one gets into a very desolate thorn-bush country, which continues without intermission till one reaches Voi. After Voi one catches occasional glimpses of antelope in the thin thorn-bush, but it is not until the Capiti plains are reached that they are seen in numbers.

The vibration of the train unfortunately made the use of field-glasses impossible, but for all that we saw numbers of zebras and Grant's and Thomson's gazelle; and once we descried a rhino walking ponderously along about half a mile off. The country from here onward is similar in character, being perfectly open plain with short grass, occasionally broken by a dry watercourse, whilst on either side hills, or rather rows of kopjes, rose up in clumps. From the dak bungalow at Kia we could see Kilimanjaro, rising majestically from the flat plain and looking about four miles off instead of the seventy odd which we knew it to be. It was cold at this point, as we arrived quite early in the morning, and we were very thankful for our excellent breakfast.

We all felt rather forlorn, being dumped down on to the station platform with no one but a Babu station-master to give us advice, for we were all new at the game except Captain H——, who had done a little shikar in India. He had brought with him his sister, Miss Sybil H——, who, being a born sportswoman, was anxious to try her hand at big game.

The station-master soon fired our imaginations by telling us that five lions came to drink at a spot close by at which, as it was too late that day to go farther, we should have to camp. We got our loads carried there, and soon had the tents up. We also built roaring fires all about the camp, for, though we were very anxious to meet a lion, we did not want our first encounter to take place in the middle of the night. However, none turned up, so next day we made a march of about eight miles to Lucania, a kopje of considerable height, round which lions were said to be numerous.

[pg 532]

Daybreak showed us a herd of hartebeeste within half a mile of us, whilst farther off were two small herds of zebra and several lots of Grant's gazelle and "Tommies," as Thomson's gazelle is usually called. They were all somewhat shy, but we each managed to bag something, Miss H—— getting two wildebeeste and Captain H——an impala.

These uncanny-looking beasts were scarce where we were at that particular time; we were told they migrated to Kilimanjaro and returned later. This certainly seemed to be correct, as later on we saw them blackening the plain quite close to Nairobi. I was with the young lady when she bagged them, and it occurred in rather a lucky way. We were sitting under a thorn-bush in a little depression, when we saw the two wildebeeste coming towards us at a trot. As they got near their movements became most threatening. After standing for a few moments surveying us they threw up their heels and, with heads down and tails waving, charged savagely straight at us. They made several stoppages in order to inspect us better, but the demonstrations grew more and more savage, and they had got within sixty yards when Miss H—— took a steady aim at the biggest and fired. He turned and rushed off at a terrific pace, the other following suit. Number one, however, had not covered more than fifty yards when he fell dead, and his comrade, pulling up to see what was happening, was killed by a second shot from Miss H——'s Mauser.

We were much elated at her success, as wildebeeste are most imposing-looking. We afterwards learnt that the apparently savage charge was nothing more than sheer curiosity concerning an object which they could not distinctly identify. Hassan, Miss H——'s gun-bearer, being a devout Mohammedan, rushed up to "chinja" the animals, their religion prescribing that unless the throat has been cut from ear to ear, and the blood allowed to flow, the meat is unclean. The Swahilis were very particular about this so long as it in no way interfered with their convenience.

The following morning we had just started breakfast when one of the porters came running in to say that whilst he was gathering firewood he had seen seven lions, including three fine maned ones. We started at once, accompanied by our gun-bearers and two Masai boys who were recommended to us to carry second guns. We were all armed alike, having Rigby's ·275 Mausers loaded with double ·450 cordite.

The plain hereabouts was broken up by watercourses, in some of which water still remained, and owing to the moisture there were some large trees and more bush marking the course than in other parts; indeed, we could tell exactly where the watercourses were by the lines of vegetation. Large beds of high reeds covered some of these depressions.

On our way to the place where the lions had been seen we had to cross a perfectly open grassy plain, intersected every now and then by small, dry watercourses. Any one of these might hold a lion, as he is an animal who likes to slink along unseen. Every donga we came to, therefore, we searched, expecting to find lions. We passed a lot of game on the way, but were afraid to fire for fear of disturbing the lions. Miss H—— was radiant at the prospect, and it required all our firmness to prevent her rushing on ahead, such was her eagerness. Personally I was also very keen to get a lion, but I had a lurking consciousness of my inexperience, which was not improved by the fearful lion stories, true and otherwise, with which we had been regaled by every man we met. Captain H—— showed no emotion of any sort. He was an old hand at meeting danger, but I could not help admiring his unmoved expression, which showed that he knew what danger was and was prepared to meet it. Miss H——, on the other hand, had forgotten all about danger, and her only thought was to get to close quarters with the utmost speed.

From a Photograph.

[pg 533]

We were not far from the trees when we saw a lion slinking along a depression in the ground towards a clump of dry reeds, which he entered. After a council of war, it was decided that one of the men should go round and set fire to the reeds, whilst we posted ourselves as for a pheasant drive. Miss H—— was in the middle, facing the reeds, whilst Captain H—— was on her left and I was on her right. Soon the reeds were blazing high, with a noise like a waterfall. A crashing, as of a big beast coming in our direction, made our hearts beat faster, and soon out came, not a lion, but a poor little female reedbuck, followed soon after by her lord. We let them go with a shock of disappointment, not unmixed with relief.

An instant later, however, straight in front of Captain H——, a large lioness bounded across a gap in the reeds, followed by several other forms not easily distinguishable. She had evidently seen us, for immediately after the rushing sound stopped and growls succeeded, increasing in volume as the flames came nearer.

Suddenly, without the slightest warning, out rushed no fewer than seven lions, no doubt the ones the porter had previously seen. They passed between Miss H—— and myself, and appeared to be in full flight, when two lionesses, apparently attracted by the movement the young lady made in putting up her gun, turned and made straight for her. They were exactly in a line between me and her, so that I was unable to shoot. Miss H—— had not descended from a long line of soldiers for nothing. Standing up boldly, she put in three shots as they advanced. The first lioness went over like a rabbit, with a bullet in its left eye which penetrated the brain; the two other shots merely checked the second. Unable to do anything to help her, in another instant I expected to see Miss H—— hurled to the ground and worried to death by the enraged beast. But at this critical juncture her gun-bearer, Hassan, thinking matters were getting somewhat too exciting, took to his heels.

From a Photograph.

The lioness, attracted by the sight of the fleeing man, or else afraid of the fearless figure in front, who was not to be intimidated by her charge, swerved off suddenly and made after the fugitive. The man had not more than twenty yards start, and the great brute rapidly overtook him. Miss H—— fired again, and we men both fired as well, but we were not near enough to make a good running shot. The wretched man, with a courage born of desperation, turned at the last moment and hit at the lioness with his rifle. The blow fell a bit short, and the enraged brute, snapping at what came nearest, caught the weapon in her mouth at the muzzle. The pace at which she was travelling was so great that Hassan was hurled backwards, and in falling his finger caught the triggers, letting [pg 534-5] off both barrels. By the most extraordinary piece of luck the rifle was pointing straight down the beast's throat at the moment, and down she went, with her head nearly shot away, right on top of him. When we had at length hauled him out he was a deplorable-looking object, simply smothered in blood, chiefly the lioness's, for his only wounds were claw-marks on his thigh, caused by the contraction of the animal's muscles after death. These were slight, however, and as soon as Hassan realized he had, albeit accidentally, shot the lioness himself, he began to strut about in a ludicrous fashion, bragging to the other men as to what a great lion-killer he was.


Miss H——, who, in spite of the narrow escape she had had, seemed to have forgotten it already in her pride at having killed her first lioness, insisted on following up the others, who had now gone into some long grass on the open plain. We therefore advanced in line, about eighty yards apart. We had gone about a mile when my gun-bearer pointed out the top of a lion's head and ears, just visible above the grass in a hollow. We passed the word along and at once made for the place. There was a dry watercourse here, and just in front of Miss H—— along the edge of it were some big rocks. She was within fifty yards when, in the gap between the stones, she saw a head. She fired, and it disappeared. A moment later up it came again. Another shot, and again it disappeared, only to reappear a third time. Once more she pulled trigger, and then there was a veritable stampede, for a lion and five lionesses broke out of the grass, galloping in huge bounds across the plain. They passed right across my front, and my second bullet knocked over the lion as dead as a door-nail and my fourth a lioness, which I got with a lucky shot at the back of its head.

From a Photograph.

Captain H——, who had seen them coming, had kept down out of sight, for fear they should pass out of range, and they went straight towards him. On seeing him they stopped, giving him an easy shot at about forty yards. He killed one lioness, and then, taking his ·450 from his gun-bearer, took the neatest right and left I ever expect to see at the other two, who, having separated, were rushing past him at about sixty yards' distance. This made seven lions that we had seen dead, or as good as dead, and we expected to find the eighth, which Miss H—— had had three shots at. What was our amazement and delight when, after a very cautious approach to the rocks, we found not one, but three fine maned lions lying dead in a heap, a Mauser bullet through the brain of each! Two had [pg 536] light-coloured manes, whilst the other had a black one.


They must have been a different lot entirely to the other troop, and, as each one fell, the next one, excited by curiosity, must have stepped on to a slab of rock which enabled him to see through the gap in the rocks. Hence, what appeared to be the same lion was in reality a different one each time. It was an extraordinary piece of luck, as they evidently could not quite understand what Miss H—— was, as she and her gun-bearer were sitting down, and, the distance being short, she was able to make a dead shot at each.

Captain H—— had just left us to look at my two lions, when we heard a terrific growl and my apparently dead lion rose up as if unhurt and jumped at Captain H——. He did not [pg 537] spring; he simply pushed him over. The Captain had no time to do anything, and went down like a log, the impetus of the lion's movement sending him yards away. Miss H—— and I, after an instant of absolute stupefaction, rushed for our guns, which we had put down. Before we had time to shoot, however, it was all over. The Masai boy, who was following close beside Captain H——, with the splendid pluck of his race, drew his simé (a sort of sword, with all its weight at the business end) and hit the lion across the spine. The beast simply stiffened spasmodically, and before it had time to fall over the plucky Masai had sheathed his weapon in the beast's shoulder three or four times. Then we rushed up to Captain H——, who looked in a terrible plight; he was covered with blood from head to foot, and unconscious.

We had, during the chase, got nearer the railway line, and we could see a train in the distance puffing slowly up the incline towards Athi River Station. The Masai are very fine runners, so we dispatched one of them to stop the train, and proceeded to contrive some sort of a litter to carry Captain H—— in. Miss H——, with a woman's wit, at once proposed to skin a lion and use its hide. We accordingly started to rip off the skin of the very beast which had mauled him, having first propped up our coats over Captain H—— to give him a little shade. What was our joy, in the middle of our work, to hear his voice and see him sitting up, smiling as well as he could from a face that was all blood except what was dirt. He said he felt perfectly well, and could easily walk back to camp.

It appeared that he had simply been stunned by the terrific fall he had had, and that he remembered nothing more till he woke and found himself under a canopy made of our coats. On examining him, expecting to find a shattered arm, we were astounded to find he had only received some very nasty-looking gashes. The explanation of this we soon saw. My shot, which appeared to have killed the lion, had hit the beast at the base of the jaw, smashing the bone to pieces and stunning him. When he dashed at Captain H—— his lower jaw was absolutely useless, so that the upper teeth only acted as a rake instead of nut-crackers.

However, the wounds looked serious enough, for we knew that very few men recover from lion-bites, most of them dying of blood-poisoning. Captain H——, however, was able with assistance to walk very comfortably the mile which separated us from the line, and before we got to it we were met by an engineer on the railway, who had his travelling carriage attached to a goods train. He at once placed the carriage and train at our disposal, and, best of all, produced a bottle of carbolic crystals. He insisted that the carbolic should be put in undiluted, as the action of the pure acid is so rapid that it kills the tissues which it touches so quickly that no pain is felt.

Certainly this seemed to hold good, for Captain H—— took it quite calmly, and assured us he was in no great pain. We all took the train for a few miles to the point nearest our camp, when I left them. It was arranged that I was to pack up the camp and follow into Nairobi, Miss H—— and the engineer attending the patient to the hospital, where, it appeared, he would have to stay for a period, as a high temperature was by this time apparent, coupled with a feeling of extreme exhaustion, caused by reaction after his narrow escape. I had also to superintend the skinning of the lions, which Captain H——, in spite of his condition, was most anxious about. I was much relieved to hear the next day that he was going on splendidly, though still prostrated by the shock and likely to be detained in hospital for the next few weeks to get his arm healed.

The Masai boy we sent away rejoicing with a present of a cow, as well as some smaller gifts in money and kind. Cattle are the one and only form of riches amongst the Masai—except, perhaps, wives—so he was proportionately pleased, and promised to join us again as soon as we were ready to start. But we hardly expect to bag ten lions in a day again.

From a Photograph.

[pg 538]

MY FRIEND DALTON: A Tale of the Klondike.

Twice—and twice only—the famous explorer met "Dalton," the gentleman wanderer, and he here relates the story of the two encounters and the tragic episode which finally revealed to him the man's real character.



GOOD-BYE, De Windt; I don't envy you the trip," were the last words that rang in my ears as the lights of Vancouver faded away in the wintry darkness.

My friends were right. Business of vital importance called me, or I should certainly not have left Vancouver at a season when the journey to Montreal is generally attended with discomfort, not to say danger. In the summertime it is pleasant enough, for the scenery outrivals that of Switzerland, and the Canadian Pacific Railway is justly noted for the perfection of its cars and cuisine. But now the passes were blocked by snow, and a train had recently been "held up" in the wild, mountainous district between Banff and Calgary. It was Christmas Eve, so that I had the cars pretty much to myself. Indeed, east of Lytton, where a party of Victorians left us to spend the New Year, the train was practically empty. We numbered, after leaving Lytton, a dozen passengers in all; none too many to dig a way through the drifts which, to judge from the steadily-falling snow, were grimly looming ahead.

The prospect of a week or more of weary travel was not inviting, and I dined the first evening unable to appreciate a dinner worthy of the Paris boulevards. The cheerless meal over, I smoked a solitary cigar in a dimly-lit and silent "smoker," and towards bedtime summoned the conductor, in sheer desperation, to share a hot grog. Afterwards I sought my couch. But the frequent stoppages due to the tempest and driving snow kept me awake—a revolver handy in case of a "hold-up"—until a cold grey dawn was peering through the window-blinds. For notes to the amount of thirty thousand dollars reposed in a note-case under my pillow, and the fact that a friend in Montreal was awaiting them did not tend to lessen my anxiety.

But fortune and the Arctic weather favoured us, for a starving wolf would scarcely have faced that blinding blizzard, let alone a train-robber. We were detained for a time by a fallen snow-shed, but we forged steadily ahead through minor difficulties, and, on the morning of the third day, steamed safely into Calgary. Here I put away my pistol with an easy mind, for open country now lay before us. The robbers who lurked in the mountains, where trackless forests on either side of the line afford an easy means of escape, were not likely to trouble us on the plains.

Dark days were now followed by a blue sky and brilliant sunshine as we rattled over the prairie, clad in a mantle of dazzling snow. The monotony of this journey can only be realized by those who, day after day, have watched the same dreary landscape unfold, as void of life and colour as the moon itself. A desert, in summer, of withered grass; in winter the scene of snow-clad desolation so wearies the eye that the sight of a ruined log-hut or a solitary crow comes as a positive relief. It was therefore some consolation when, at the little log-town of Regina, a solitary passenger entered the train.

I surveyed the new-comer with an interest engendered by three days of solitary boredom. He was middle-aged, with the clean-shaven, clear-cut face and keen grey eyes common in America, but which, upon this occasion, were clearly imported. For, although the man's appearance betrayed rough experiences, his tattered tweeds retained a certain symmetry more suggestive of Bond Street than Broadway. A "Zingari" ribbon round his shabby grey hat also hinted at the wearer's nationality, which was further proclaimed when he called in pure English for a whisky and soda. The speaker was a gentleman, as shown by his manner and certain subtle signs that denote the species all over the world. At first I put him down as a wealthy sportsman, but the usual arsenal and piles of personal baggage were missing. The traveller, whoever he was, was uncommunicative, for he drained his whisky at a draught with a sigh of relief, lay full length upon the cushions, and slept like a baby until dinner-time.

I generally mistrust the chance acquaintance on Canadian railway cars, but there was nothing of the "sport" or "bunco-steerer" about this man. At dinner we got into conversation, and the discovery of mutual acquaintances in England banished any lingering suspicions on my part; my companion was apparently glad, [pg 539] after many months of solitude, to exchange ideas with a fellow-countryman. The stranger had not seen England for seven years, during which period he had apparently tried his luck at most things—from gold at Coolgardie to rubies in Rangoon, in the lazy, desultory fashion of one to whom money is no object. His name, "Edgar Dalton," told me nothing, but the magic words, "Turf Club," in a corner of his card augured much. I expressed surprise at this lengthened and voluntary exile, but Dalton's sudden change of manner warned me that I was skating on thin ice. Domestic trouble, perhaps, or a woman, had sent him aimlessly roving over the world, and, anyhow, it was no business of mine. My eccentric friend had lately turned his attention to fur trading, he told me, and was now returning to Chicago from York Factory on Hudson Bay. The winter journey is a perilous one, but Dalton spoke of a thousand miles in a dog-sled as though it were a summer picnic. "I like roughing it," he said, frankly; "civilization bores me, and I loathe the very sight of a frock-coat!" I did not quite believe him, for the most ardent globe-trotter occasionally yearns for a sight of Piccadilly; but, anyhow, as I have said, it was no business of mine.

The evening passed pleasantly, for Dalton was excellent company, and we sat long and late over our cigars, chatting over his reminiscences, which would have filled an entire issue of The Wide World Magazine. It was only towards bedtime that a subject was broached destined to bring about strange consequences. "You say you know Milford well," said Dalton, naming a small town in Yorkshire; "did you ever meet a Mrs. W—— there?" The words were spoken with a hesitation that made me glance sharply at the speaker. Could this be the secret of his life—a hopeless passion for the beautiful woman whose sufferings had excited universal sympathy and whose love so many had sought in vain? To know Milford was to know or, at any rate, to have heard of Mary W——, who, a few years since, had figured as the innocent heroine of a notorious forgery case. The affair never reached a criminal court, for James W—— had successfully absconded with a large sum of money, and had never since been seen or heard of. Rumours were rife; some said he had gone to Australia, others that he was in the Argentine, others that suicide had wiped him out of existence as completely as a pebble dropped into the sea. And he would have been no great loss, for, according to all accounts, a more heartless scoundrel never breathed. But Mary W—— was still leading a quiet and lonely life, although she might legally have chosen a second husband from among the many men who had sought her hand. W—— I had never known, but his portrait had been freely circulated at the time of the crime, and a momentary suspicion that Dalton might himself be the man was quickly dispelled when I recalled the portly frame and bearded countenance of the forger. Not only did I know Mrs. W——, but I had, only the preceding winter, saved her life in an ice accident—a fact which raised me considerably in my fellow-traveller's estimation.

"I only asked you if you knew her," he said, "because I happened to know him. Poor beggar! He was shot last year in a gambling hell in Coolgardie."

Here the subject might have dropped, but that fleeting hours and the frequent reappearance of the conductor with refreshments revived it. There had clearly been something between Dalton and the forger's beautiful wife, either before or after her marriage. "I may tell you in confidence," were his last words that night, "that Mary W—— is and always has been very dear to me." A cloud passed over Dalton's face as he continued: "If things were different I should have been a better and a happier man. There, I won't bore you with my troubles, but here's my hand, Mr. de Windt, for saving that brave, unselfish woman's life. And remember, if ever you need a friend you'll find one in Edgar Dalton."

I was right, then, after all. This was but another victim who had worshipped vainly at the shrine of pretty Mary W——, and I wondered vaguely, as I dropped off to sleep, whether the "good angel of Milford," as she was called, had yet heard of her merciful release. For here, possibly, was a man who might bring some sunshine into her lonely life.

The next morning found Dalton seated at breakfast with a mysterious individual who had joined the train during the night. The stranger was a stout, florid man of about fifty, with shifty blue eyes, grey whiskers, and a perpetual smile. He wore a serge suit and a yachting cap, also a profusion of tawdry jewellery, and might have been anything from a prosperous drover to the skipper of a tramp steamer. The new-comer addressed Dalton as "Cap," and until the mystery was explained I marvelled at his apparent familiarity with the quiet, refined Englishman. But Mr. Hiram Knaggs, it appeared, had acted as agent in Chicago for Dalton during his northern trip, and had now met him by appointment to settle about the disposal of a consignment of valuable furs. Knaggs was a cheery, amusing fellow, notwithstanding his vulgarity and a painful habit of parading his [pg 540] wealth. At dinner that night he displayed a bulky pocket-book with which he pleasantly averred he could buy up the train and everyone in it. Encouraged, perhaps, by champagne and good fellowship, I then carelessly alluded to the comparatively modest sum that had caused me such anxiety, but a significant look from Dalton closed my lips. "Knaggs, of course, is all right," he explained afterwards, "but in a public car you can never be too careful." The incident struck me as being curious, for at the time there was no one within earshot of our table.

Dalton and his agent were leaving us at Winnipeg, and we had reached that town—then far from being the bustling city it has now become—when I awoke on the following morning. The berths lately occupied by my friends were empty, and I was surprised that Dalton, at any rate, should have left without a word of farewell. There was yet half an hour before departure, and I dressed hastily, intending to alight for a breath of fresh air. But a terrible shock was in store for me. My heart stood still and a cold sweat bedewed my temples, for when I placed my hand under the pillow it encountered only a worthless silver watch. My pocket-book and the thirty thousand dollars had gone!

I was about to call loudly for help, when a touch on the shoulder arrested me. It was Dalton, with a smile upon his face and the missing note-case in his hand.

"I was the thief," he said, quietly. "Here are your notes, but take my advice. Never talk about your money before strangers." Intense relief overcame a feeling of resentment at the trick played upon me, and, after all, was it not in my own interest? So I put my pride—and my notes—in my pocket and thanked my friend for the service he had rendered me, which I never duly appreciated until long afterwards.


On the platform we found Knaggs in a very surly frame of mind, which Dalton laughingly ascribed to overnight indulgence in "tanglefoot." [pg 541] But the joke was apparently ill-timed, for the American turned and left us with an oath, to his friend's amusement.

"Good-bye, De Windt," said the latter. "We may meet again, and if ever I can do you a turn, for Mary W——'s sake, count upon me."

Three or four months elapsed, during which period I heard nothing more of my fellow-travellers, but I received a letter from Mrs. W——, who had been informed of her husband's death by an anonymous correspondent—Dalton, no doubt. This was in the spring of 1897, however, and my mind was too much engrossed with personal affairs to give the matter much attention. A bad attack of the gold-fever then raging on the Pacific Coast had resulted in my resolve to leave Vancouver and seek a fortune in the Klondike. I need not describe the now familiar perils and privations of that ghastly voyage: the grim passes, stormy lakes, and treacherous rapids; the cold and starvation that littered the dark and dangerous road to the "Arctic El Dorado" with dead and dying victims. Suffice it to say that I eventually reached my destination, and in less than a year had "struck it rich" enough to acquire several good claims. Early in March, 1898, I returned from my claim up the Koyukuk to Dawson City, and took up my quarters at an hotel, intending to return by the first steamer to St. Michael, and thence, by the sea route, home.

The River View Hotel was not a cheerful residence, although its numerous guests were very festively inclined. The restaurant at dinner-time resembled a bear-garden, and between meals dapper New York barmen ministered to the wants of a rowdy mixture of nationalities from all ends of the earth. Time hung heavily on my hands, although there was plenty of gaiety of the disreputable kind to be found in most mining camps. Dawson swarmed with gambling and drinking saloons, but crime was rare, for the North-West Police keep a sharp eye on evildoers, especially the harpies of both sexes who fleece lucky miners. You did not need, in those days, to go to the creeks for gold, for the dust was flung about so recklessly that modest incomes were made by sweeping out the dancing halls. One night of debauchery often left wealthy men as poor as when they first started out from home without a penny. And there was some excuse for the poor prospector, coming straight from months of cold, hunger, and hard work on some lonely gulch into a crowded, brightly-lit saloon, with champagne, music, and friends galore, to say nothing of a gambling table in the background. Even I, who should have known better, was occasionally drawn into some dazzling pandemonium which, by daylight, would have sickened me to contemplate.

Thus it came to pass that I found myself one night at the Imperial Casino in company with a friend who, like myself, was heartily sick of his gloomy bedroom at the River View Hotel. The Imperial, like most of its kind, consisted of a dancing-hall leading into a smaller compartment screened with green baize, which occasionally parted to disclose a roulette table. The noise and stifling air of the first room were, as usual, unbearable, and we struggled through a rowdy crowd of men and women to the inner sanctum, where a number of players were assembled. For a time we watched the game with interest, for the high stakes would have attracted a crowd at Monte Carlo, but these ragged, mud stained gamblers lost or won their money gracefully and without the push or wrangle that often occurs on the Riviera. I have seen more fuss made over a five-franc piece at Monte Carlo than over a thousand dollars in Klondike.

To this day I don't know what induced me to fling a stake upon the table. My friend, sick of the fetid atmosphere, had left me, and I was following him, when the solitary number I had backed turned up. I then carelessly heaped my winnings on the zero and became the unwilling object of all eyes when the ivory ball jumped into the space numbered by that wicked little circle. From that moment I won without cessation, chiefly, I suppose, because of my absolute indifference to loss. In an hour I was the gainer of an enormous sum, which, consisting largely of nuggets and gold-dust, was difficult to handle. A carpet-bag was borrowed from the proprietor, by whose friendly advice I made my exit through a back door, and hastened along the snowy, silent street to my hotel. As I neared my hotel a figure stood out from the doorway of the River View, and I recognised Barlow, of the North-West Mounted Police, who a few hours previously had been my guest at dinner.

"Don't shoot, old man," said my friend, as a revolver gleamed in the moonlight; "it's only me. We have got a big job on. The safe in the office here was rifled last night, and the thief is supposed to be living in the hotel. J——, of Scotland Yard, and ten of my men are inside; so if the joker tries any games on to-night it will be all up with him. By the way, you look a bit suspicious with that bag. Gold from Gluckstein's, is it? Whew! Oh, pass in; you're a match for any hotel sneak." And with a cheery "Good night" I left my friend vainly endeavouring to keep warm in a temperature that would have tried the patience of a Polar bear.

[pg 542]


The barrack-like building was in darkness, and by the aid of a wax match I groped my way to my bedroom, a garret for which I paid, daily, the sum of twenty dollars. The door was fitted with a cheap lock which a missing key rendered useless, but I secured my winnings, which I carefully locked up, and then retired to rest with a mind at ease, thanks to a revolver under my pillow. I must have dropped off to sleep suddenly, for when I awoke the fag-end of my candle was sputtering in the socket. The next moment it had gone out, leaving me with no matches and an unpleasant suspicion that, while I slept, someone had entered the room. Conviction followed when I heard a moving body and loudly challenged the intruder. But there was no reply.

"If you don't answer, I shoot!" I cried [pg 543] through the darkness. There is short shrift for thieves in mining camps, and the next moment I had fired at random in the direction of the sound. Simultaneously the door was thrown open with a crash and the room flooded with the light of many lanterns. J——, the Scotland Yard man, and half-a-dozen policemen were soon surrounding a prostrate figure, clad in a grey sleeping-suit, which lay with a dark crimson mark over the heart, showing where my bullet had reached its mark. Great heavens! Had I killed him?

The bare idea filled me with horror, as I pushed my way through a ring of excited men and, kneeling by the side of the wounded man, gently raised his head. The features were already twitching in the death agony, the eyes were dull and glazed, but a faint smile flickered over the face as I realized, with the appalling terror of a nightmare, that I was looking upon the features of Edgar Dalton.

"Forgive me," he gasped, faintly, as I bent closer to catch his whispered words. "I never knew it was you. Knaggs will tell you. Give her——" The hand was raised, with a last effort, towards a thin gold chain around the neck, but death arrested it half-way. Edgar Dalton, killed by my hand, had expired in my arms!

"Come, sir, we can do no good," said J——, presently, as I continued to gaze vacantly upon the ashy face of the corpse. It was borne away by six stalwart troopers through the now crowded passages and stairway. "You've no need for remorse," added the detective, "for you've rid the world of as clever and cruel a scoundrel as it's ever been my lot to come across—and I have seen a few. Why, he has murders enough on his hands in Australia alone to hang him ten times over."

"Mr. Edgar Dalton?" I asked, almost speechless with amazement.

"Is that the name you knew him by?" said the Scotland Yard man, with ill-disguised pity for my ignorance. "Edgar Dalton, indeed! Why, the Australian Government has offered a reward of one thousand pounds for this man, dead or alive, for the past three years. I have been after him for seven years as James W——, the forger, and I think I am fairly entitled to the reward," he added. "For, you see, I have netted both birds this time. There's the other"—and he pointed to a man standing handcuffed between two troopers by the open doorway. His dejected appearance contrasted oddly with a gay suit of pink pyjamas, but although the smiling lips were now screened by a bristly moustache, and a carefully-curled auburn wig concealed the scanty grey locks, I had little trouble in recognising my old friend and fellow-traveller, Mr. Hiram Knaggs.

I was permitted to visit him the next day, and found him shivering, heavily ironed, in a cold, miserable shanty known as the town jail. Knaggs made light of his discomfort and the long term of imprisonment before him, but was inconsolable at the death of his leader. "A whiter man never breathed, Mr. de Windt," said the man, with tears in his eyes; and although I knew Knaggs for a consummate villain, I could scarcely restrain a feeling of pity for the abject figure before me. Nor, indeed, could I think of the dead man without compunction, for I could not forget the feeling of gratitude that had prompted him to save my notes from the greedy grasp of his confederate.

"He always spoke well of you," said the man, "and if he'd only known last night that the swag was yours he'd have been alive now. But I suppose the game was up, anyhow, with that J—— on our tracks."

From a Photograph.

And Hiram ground his teeth in silent rage as I left him—to be eventually sentenced to ten years "on the wood-pile," a local form of punishment which, owing to the Arctic climate, is seldom endured for long.

I was permitted to retain the gold chain and medallion, which contained a faded portrait of W——'s wife. Mary W—— still wears the little locket in memory of the worthless scamp who wrecked her life, but who, nevertheless, had loved her in his own wild way.

[pg 544]

Two Girls in Japan.

By Irene Lyon.

After six weeks of conventional sight-seeing in Japan the authoress and her friend decided that they had not yet seen the real thing, and so they decided to spend a week off the tourist track, living as far as possible the life of the natives. This amusing little article shows how they fared during their pilgrimage.


GLADYS and I had been six weeks in Japan; we had worked hard at sight-seeing, and done all that was expected of us during that time, and yet we were not satisfied. Why? Well, we had luxuriated all the while in the most charming European hotels; we had slept in cosy beds with soft, springy mattresses; we had lounged in easy-chairs, eaten with knives and forks, and had been waited on hand and foot by noiseless Japanese "boys," who anticipated our every want. Within a week of our departure for Australia the full extent of our slackness was borne in upon us, and we at once decided to make up for lost time and to sacrifice personal comfort in a final effort to "see" Japan—the real Japan.

A trip down the Inland Sea was arranged, as affording a suitable opportunity to carry out our resolves, and one bright spring morning we set off from Kobe, armed with a basket of provisions and eating utensils—to be used only in case of dire necessity!

We travelled all day in an up-to-date, conventional train, and arrived at Onomichi towards evening. The proprietor of the principal inn had been informed of our intended arrival, so he came in person to meet us at the station, and we set off on foot for our new abode with an escort of some twenty to thirty of the inhabitants.

The "hotel" was a two-storeyed, wooden house, like most of its fellows. On reaching the threshold we discarded our shoes, took a surreptitious peep at our stockings, in order to assure ourselves that no holes were visible, and boldly entered.

From a Photograph.

[pg 545]

From a Photograph.

A hearty—but unintelligible—welcome was extended to us by "madame" and her surrounding bevy of profusely-bowing attendants, and we were ushered into a room on the first floor which had been set aside for our use.

Our apartment was divided from the adjoining one by sliding panels which made no pretence at reaching the ceiling; it was entirely destitute of furniture, but at one side was a tiny alcove where a single vase reposed upon a raised dais, while hanging on the wall at the back was an elaborate "kakimono." The floor was covered with fine matting, and the inner walls were made of opaque white paper divided into diminutive squares. Round the outside of the house ran a tiny veranda, which was closed in at night with wooden panels.

Previously to starting Gladys and I had thoroughly primed ourselves as to the correct behaviour in Japanese circles, and as we knew that we should be expected to take a hot bath immediately on arrival we inquired at once for the bathroom. Another reason for not wishing to delay the important function of bathing sprang from our vague fear that every member of the household would perform his ablutions in the same water, and we were naturally anxious to have the first "look in."

After inspecting the bathroom our determination wavered,—but we pulled ourselves together and descended to the lower regions armed with towels and wrappers. Our first difficulty was with the entrance-panel, which, in addition to having no locks or bolts, absolutely refused to close properly. After several vain attempts the gap was eventually stuffed up, and we entered the dressing-room. I have yet to discover the intended use of the latter apartment, as for all the privacy it provided one might just as well have undressed in the public passage. About three yards square, and communicating with the bathroom, it was furnished with two large windows looking on to the hall, and there was not even so much as a pane of glass to obstruct the view of the passers-by. Gladys and I spent a considerable time in carefully filling these openings, and then, having satisfied ourselves that we were beyond the public gaze at last, we began, very diffidently, to undress, and afterwards entered the bathroom together, as we simply dared not venture in alone.

The bath itself—which looked like a large box—was a wooden structure built into a corner, and all round the inside ran a convenient ledge, for sitting on. The water being little short of boiling, our movements were decidedly cautious, and, curling ourselves up on the ledge, we tried to grow accustomed to the temperature by degrees before plunging right in. When, thinking to remove the traces of our journey by a vigorous application of soap, we began to scrub ourselves, it suddenly occurred to us that such a proceeding was not "etiquette," out of consideration [pg 546] to the other bathers. So we stepped out, soaped ourselves well, and rinsed our bodies with the wooden ladles supplied for the purpose, before getting back into the water again.

From a Photograph.

We were sitting on the ledge, chatting peacefully, when a sudden premonition of danger made me look up, and the spectacle which greeted my eyes caused me to utter one agonized gasp and then sink rapidly out of sight. The pains we had taken to block up the gap at the entrance had all been in vain, for the various garments which we had used for the purpose lay scattered on the floor, and the opening was occupied by a line of little heads, one above the other, whilst ten gleaming eyes were interestedly fixed upon us! Having followed the direction of my horrified gaze, Gladys gave a shriek of dismay and joined me at the bottom of the bath with surprising celerity; and there we remained in agony, feeling as though we were being boiled alive, and gazing ruefully at our garments, which all lay well out of reach. Help came at length in the shape of the proprietor, who, lighting upon the little group of spectators, immediately sent them off about their business. Feeble and helpless, we eventually emerged from our retreat and retired behind our towels to dry; but our trials were not yet over, for Gladys, leaning too heavily against the flimsy framework which constituted the partition wall, suddenly disappeared from sight, and the whole wall with her! Fortunately, the only occupant of the passage at that moment was a little maid-servant, who speedily rushed to her assistance, and the damage was soon repaired. Feeling much shattered in mind, we at length departed from the scene of our disasters and returned to our own apartment. With the help of two merry little "nésans," who thoroughly enjoyed the proceedings, we succeeded in donning kimonos and obis more or less after the correct manner, and then, determined to carry out the programme quite properly, we sat down on our heels to partake of our evening meal before a table three inches high. We drank fish soup out of lacquer bowls, we dissected unfamiliar concoctions with chopsticks (no easy matter) and tried manfully to do our duty by them, but when a large bowl of rice made its appearance we flung etiquette—and chopsticks—to the winds and fell back upon spoons, as being the only way of ensuring ourselves anything to eat. Also, when we were certain of being unobserved (as certain as it is possible to be in a land of paper walls and sliding panels), we hastily demolished huge chunks of bread from our [pg 547] private provision store, as, though we did not wish to hurt the feelings of the "chef," we felt that our inward cravings must have something substantial to satisfy them.

After dinner we ventured on a stroll through the town; but the fact that we were repeatedly obliged to retrace our steps in order to pick up our sandals—which showed an extraordinary facility for parting company with our feet—considerably hindered our progress, and the close companionship of many of the inhabitants, who were vastly interested in us, prevented us from gaining a very good view of the streets.

When we returned to our abode the little maids made us up beds on the floor out of "futans" (thick quilts) which were pulled forth from wonderfully hidden cupboards, and we retired to rest, thoroughly wearied out by our first day of Japanese life.

The next morning we were awakened early by the arrival of green tea in baby cups with no handles, and big, luscious peppermint creams. After tasting both, and appreciating the latter, we rose to dress. Our landlord had entertained European visitors before and considered that he was thoroughly acquainted with their habits, as well as knowing how to provide for their comfort; consequently, the pride of his heart was a wash-stand—which was an object of wonderment to the whole household—and that useful article of furniture was placed on the outer veranda, in full view of the main street! It went to our hearts to hurt the feelings of "mine host," but in this case we felt it to be unavoidable, and the household treasure was removed to a more secluded spot before we performed our ablutions.

Later in the morning we took steamer to Myajima, and sailed all day down the beautiful Inland Sea. There were no seats on board, so we made ourselves comfortable on a big coil of rope, and as there was also no buffet we were obliged to picnic for our meals. We reached Myajima at dusk and halted in mid-stream. A sampan came out to take us on shore, and we were hauled down the side of the steamer by a piece of rope, swaying feebly about in mid-air before being unceremoniously seized by the feet and deposited in safety.

As we crashed on to the pebble beach a number of girls came round from the hotel to meet us, each one carrying a paper lantern, which waved fantastically to and fro from the end of a long pole. We were escorted by them round the narrow, winding path to our quarters, which consisted this time of a little summer-house away from the main building of the hotel and in the midst of a delightful wood. We were too tired to examine our surroundings that night, and tumbled as soon as possible on to our lowly couches, where we slept "the sleep of the just."

From a Photograph.

On opening our eyes next morning our first thought was that we had wandered into fairy-land; the smiling-faced "nésan" had arrived during our slumbers and pulled back the outer wooden shutters, and as one of the inner panels was ajar we could look straight out on to the [pg 548] woods. The sun was shining brightly through the green of the trees, a spring of clear water trickled musically down by the side of our hut, and but a few hundred yards away lay the Inland Sea itself, looking like a huge lake amidst the surrounding chain of misty, blue-grey mountains.

From a Photograph.

Our tiny habitation, which consisted of two compartments and a small veranda only, was scrupulously clean, and we could have eaten off the floor, as well as sit on it, without the least misgiving.

Every morning we interviewed the landlord on the subject of our day's menu, as, after the first evening, we decided that a strictly Japanese diet would not be conducive to either strength or comfort. There was not much variety in the food which we managed to obtain, but it was both healthy and harmless, consisting chiefly of fried fish, omelettes, and wild strawberries.

Myajima is a sacred island, and no means of conveyance are allowed to profane its shores. The temple is built out into the sea, a unique specimen of its kind, and a great, dark torü rises from the water some yards in front; all along the main coast, and built at irregular intervals, are the sacred stone lanterns, five hundred in number.

For three days we spent our time in wandering about the island, swimming, lounging on our tiny veranda, and darning, European stockings being scarcely equal to Japanese "tabi" in the matter of endurance. The third evening being beautifully fine and calm, we arranged—by paying a very modest sum—to have all the five hundred lanterns lit up for our benefit, and rowed out in a sampan to see the effect from the water. Nature seemed to be at her devotions, and such a wonderful hush spread over all around that the scene was impressive as well as beautiful.

[pg 549]

On the fourth day it began to rain. A Japanese inn does not exactly lend itself to either comfort or amusement in wet weather, our stock of literature was limited, and by midday we were at our wits' end. And still it rained.

Finally, in desperation, we invested in brilliantly-coloured oil-paper Japanese umbrellas, and wandered about holding these huge structures over our heads, so that only our feet—mounted on high, wet-weather "geta"—were visible. Still it rained, and rained unceasingly. On the evening of the fifth day—the deluge showing no signs of abatement—we packed up our baggage and sorrowfully departed, taking our seats in the evening express for Kobe, after a damp passage across to the mainland in a sampan.

The train was crowded with Japanese, and as each person was accompanied by at least four mysterious and peculiar-shaped bundles there was not much room to spare, and before long I had a pile of "luggage" two yards high in front of me. When some of the little ladies in the carriage with us grew tired of sitting up in European fashion they slipped off their sandals and climbed right on to the seat, where they sat comfortably on their heels and were happy at last.

When night came the long seat was divided up into portions, the upper berths were pulled down, and we all huddled into our respective bunks, men and women mixed up together. It was distinctly trying to be obliged to hoist oneself up into a high upper berth before a mixed assembly, and more trying still to descend in the morning with the very incomplete toilet which one was enabled to make in a reclining position, but the blissful ignorance of our Japanese neighbour that there was anything unusual in such a proceeding considerably relieved our embarrassment. His attitude and calm matter-of-factness was very reassuring, and the wonderfully cheerful conductor who brushed our clothes and fastened our blouses seemed to consider himself specially suited for the post of lady's-maid.

We arrived back at our hotel in Kobe feeling that for the first time in our existence we had really seen life in a different aspect, and a few days later we left Japan with a clear conscience, satisfied that we had fully accomplished our duty, as well as considerably added to our experiences.

From a Photograph.

[pg 550]


By John Mackie.

The story of an eventful journey in the Australian bush, with hostile blacks on the track. Mr. Mackie got through, but the passage of the last creek was a distinctly touch-and-go affair.


SCHOONERS must have grub, and I had accompanied ours round to Normanton for supplies, leaving only one white man, a Malay, a Cingalese, and two semi-civilized black boys to look after the station and store I had established on the lonely Calvert River, in the south-western corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Now a bushman had just arrived at Normanton who had passed my place on the Calvert a few days before. He told of a sorry state of affairs. My men had run out of rations and, what was worse, powder and shot. They were now subsisting on a little rice, what few fish they could catch in the swollen river, 'possums, iguanas, and snakes. This was certainly pretty near bed-rock; but people in the Gulf country in those days did not trouble much about their bill of fare; it was the blacks, flies, and fever that concerned them most, and the blacks near my place just then were particularly bad. They had come down in a body some days previously, killed two or three of my remaining horses, and tried their level best to get at my men. Fortunately, after a ruinous consumption of powder and shot, they had been driven off.

There was only one thing for it—I must get to my station at any cost, and that at once. To have it left to the mercy of the blacks was to have it looted and burned to the ground, and all my schemes knocked on the head.

More important, still, there were my men. I knew that if they attempted to go eastward they would find themselves hemmed in by the great creeks, and must be drowned or perish for want of food. I did not take two minutes to make up my mind. I was young, of a girth that is denied to most men, and the love of adventure ran hot in my blood. It was now late in the evening, but I would start before sunrise in the morning, and some time on the following day, if I had luck, would reach my place. I had swum dozens of swollen rivers before, with a horse and without a horse; and as for the blacks, I had got used to them like the flies, and I had my Colt.

Next morning, while it was yet grey-dark, I strapped a small knapsack on my back, containing a quart bottle full of powder, some small shot, and other essentials, and prepared to start out. I told my partner to push round to the Calvert River with the schooner as soon as the gale abated, and was rowed to the eastern bank of the river in the dinghy. The landing was bad, and here I had my first accident; for while the man who rowed the boat was throwing after me the packet of bread and meat that was to sustain me on my sixty-odd miles walk, it fell short and splashed into the river. Back to the boat for more I would not go; there was a considerable vein of old Highland superstition deep down in my composition somewhere. I had gone, on more than one occasion, without food for two or three days; I could surely do it now for some thirty-six hours or so, even although I had not troubled about breakfast before starting.

Sixty-odd miles of partially-flooded country infested by niggers! It hardly gave me a thought in those days. My revolver was in my belt, the cartridges were waterproof, the load on my back was light, and had it not been for the thought of those poor chaps on the banks of the Calvert my heart would have been still lighter.

I had traversed that uncertain track before on horseback, and, being a fairly good bushman, there was not much danger of my losing it. I wended my way through a gloomy pine-scrub, but as the rain had packed the sandy soil the walking was fairly good, and I did my first few miles as easily as if I had been walking on a macadamized road. Then I came to an open [pg 551] patch of lightly timbered country, and sat down on the crooked stem of a ti tree for a few minutes to fill and light my pipe.

A sickly, wan light had by this time appeared in the eastern sky. A laughing jackass crashed into the tender spirit of the dawn, and startled me for the moment by shrieking hysterically from a high gum tree. A pale lemon glow showed over the tree-tops to the east, spread upwards and outwards, and then gave place to a tawny yellow; the few faint stars went out one by one, like lights in a great city at break of day; a little bird among the boughs called sleepily to its mate, and in another minute a noisy flock of parrakeets flew screeching past. It was a wet, melancholy world, and when the sun showed behind the trees like a great white quivering ball of fire, and a thin, gauze-like mist arose from the damp sandy soil, I knew that the fierce tropical day had once more set in.

I stepped gaily out again. Dangers? Why, the walking was almost as good and pleasant as it was in any settled part of the country. Then, all at once, my feet went splash! splash! into what seemed to be a large pool of water; still on I went. In a few yards the water was over my ankles; some fifteen or twenty yards more, and I realized that it was up to my knees—fresh, warm, pellucid rain-water with dead leaves and forest débris floating through it. It was heavy wading, and I paused for a moment to gain breath and look around.

There was water everywhere; it spread out like a great carpet over the fairly level ground, and only the fine points of the very highest grasses could be seen. Soon the flood was up to my armpits, and then I began to swim. Even had I not been a strong swimmer, I could hardly have been drowned, for all I had to do was to climb into a tree and rest in the branches. In a few minutes more I came to a comparatively open space and was swimming among the shaggy, drooping heads of Pandanus palms. Then, all at once, I found I was being carried away by a powerful current. I must get across that creek, wherever it was, or else my strength must necessarily give out. Luckily my light linen trousers and cotton shirt did not impede me much; my watertight knapsack was but a trifling inconvenience; it was my boots that were tiring me. I did not want boots, anyhow, in that sandy soil. I swam hand over hand to a gum tree that reared its head above the water, and, grasping a strong limb, drew myself up. I left my boots, tied together by the laces, dangling over a bough, and was descending the limb when, to my consternation, I saw just beneath me one of the largest tiger-snakes I ever in my life had the good or ill fortune to meet. It had doubtless been coiled round one of the upper branches when I first came to the tree, and, being as much afraid of me as I now was of it, had again made for the trunk, only to find its retreat cut off. There was no time to cut a stick and have a sportive five minutes; besides, I had but scanty footing and room to fight nimble tiger-snakes, and so there was only one thing for it. The reptile, when I threw a small piece of dry wood at it, positively refused to budge. I took one last disgusted look at its gleaming, mottled, sinuous coils and flat, repulsive head, from which its black, wicked, basilisk eyes looked dully out, and flopped into the water from my perch, a distance of some ten or twelve feet. At one place the current resembled a mill-race; this was doubtless the creek proper. In ten minutes more I touched bottom with my feet, and soon, to my great joy, I was stepping along on the firm sand again. I soon found the track, but on it I also found what I least desired to see—the tracks of savages going in the same direction as myself. I kept a sharp look-out after that.

The sun shone out all through that long, arduous day with a fierce, intense heat, but there was no time for rest. I swam several creeks, which carried me hundreds of yards down stream at a pace which meant certain death if I ran against the business end of a snag; and I waded and swam for many hundreds of yards at a stretch along the track in places where it was flooded. By drinking copiously of the lukewarm water I kept off the cravings of a healthy hunger. My pipe had slipped from my pouch, and, anyhow, my tobacco and matches, which I carried inside my hat, had got wet when I dropped from the tree; and this, to me, was the greatest drawback of the situation. The sun rounded slowly towards the west, and it was fast becoming dark, when suddenly I heard the jabbering of blacks at some little distance. To climb into a thick pine tree and conceal myself in its branches was the work of a few minutes. I had hardly done so before a straggling mob of blacks passed slowly underneath; the bucks, or warriors, went first with spears and boomerangs in their hands, and the gins followed, carrying the piccaninnies and household goods slung in numerous dilly-bags over their backs. A few wretched half-tame dingoes brought up the rear, snarling and fighting with one another. It seemed strange to me that these savages should be journeying along the track, for at other times they were rather anxious to avoid it. Perhaps they did it for the sake of the novelty of the situation, naturally supposing that their enemies, [pg 552] the whites, would not be travelling during the wet season. There might have been fifty or sixty of them altogether in the band. To my intense annoyance they went on about a couple of hundred yards, and halted, to camp for the night, on what was evidently a drier piece of ground than usual. There was no help for it—I should have to pass the night in that tree. It would be folly to wander about in the dark; besides, I was dead tired and could hardly keep my eyes open.


I unslung my knapsack, wedged myself into a sitting position among the close, dense boughs, and, in spite of the proximity of danger and a few stray mosquitoes, was asleep in two minutes. Had I descended the tree and camped on the ground, sleep must have been almost impossible on account of the insects. The blacks lit numerous tiny fires, or "smudges," to drive them off.

I awoke about an hour before dawn, stiff and chilled to the bone on account of my cramped, airy position, strapped my knapsack on my back, and descended the tree. There was a silence as of death in the blacks' camp. Taking my bearings, I made a wide detour and passed round them safely. After that I avoided the track as much as possible. I must have walked nearly [pg 553] thirty-five miles on the previous long day, but it should be borne in mind that it was one of continuous, determined toil.

I walked on steadily all that day, hardly pausing to rest, swimming flooded creeks and wading in places up to my armpits, but my progress was better than on the preceding day. I felt the pangs of hunger more keenly, but I continued drinking large quantities of water, and this, as I had often found before, to a certain degree stood me in good stead. At noon I came to a wild, broad water-course called Scrubby Creek, and I knew I was now within fifteen miles of my destination. I had been speculating all day as to the state of affairs at my camp—wondering if my men had deserted it, and if I should find it in the possession of the savages. If so, I should have to be wary in making my approach; I should have to follow the river down towards the sea and wait and starve until the boat came round. The prospect was not cheerful, but still I never for one moment allowed it to affect the course I was pursuing. If I failed, then I had done my level best to do what I could, and at least no soul-harrowing reflections would be mine.

I was just about to step into the swirling, hurrying current of Scrubby Creek when, happening to glance round, I saw something that made my heart throb wildly and arrested my further progress in an instant. A large number of savages were following me up, and there was not one of them but carried a spear or weapon of some sort in his hand. I wheeled about in an instant and drew my revolver, resolved to give them something more than they bargained for.

The blacks stopped short when they found they were discovered, and spread out in the form of a semicircle; then they closed in until, with their wimmeras, they could make sure of throwing their spears with precision and effect. I waited until I also could make sure of my man, and then, as one of them drew back his arm to lever his spear home, I raised my revolver and fired. He dropped all of a heap, like a bullock that has been knocked on the head with an axe. A spear whizzed past me and buried itself in the thick bark of a ti tree close to my head. My blood was up, but I took deliberate aim, and the savage who had thrown it also bit the dust. At eighty yards my Colt was almost as deadly as a rifle. Somewhat taken by surprise, the blacks retired, and I emptied the remaining chambers of my revolver at them with effect. I even made to follow them up, reloading as I walked, and they actually broke and ran before me.

This was exactly what I wanted, and I seized my opportunity. I turned and dived into the brown, tawny-crested creek, and by vigorous side-strokes made for a narrow, island-like strip of wooded land that stood right in the middle of the stream. I had all but passed it when I caught hold of an overhanging bough and drew myself into a thick clump of reeds and undergrowth. I stood up to the arm-pits in water. There was now some seventy yards between me and the bank I had just left—about half the distance I had yet to accomplish. As I expected, the blacks, who had rallied, now appeared on the scene. Quick as thought I placed my soft-felt hat brim downwards on the water, and away it went sailing down that boiling torrent. The blacks saw it, and thought they had me now safely enough; they directed spear after spear at it, but I noticed that none of them took effect; they ran along the bank in a great state of excitement, shouting and skipping, and in a few minutes more were out of sight. If my hat would only continue to float it might lead them quite a nice little goose-chase.

I waited for some time, and was just about to strike out for the opposite shore when, to my no little surprise and chagrin, two of the savages returned. They went for some little distance up-stream, and then made straight for my little island. Evidently they had thought there was something suspicious about my hat. Only my mouth, eyes, nose, and my revolver-hand were above water now, and I waited for them to come on.

And what a wait that was! Every moment seemed an eternity. I could hardly control the intense longing that possessed me to be up and at them. But I knew I must bide my time and make sure of both, otherwise they could easily elude me in the water, attract the attention of the other blacks, and then it would be all up with me. I knew the chances of my coming out of that creek alive were very slight indeed; but life seemed sweet just then. Every now and again a little wave would unexpectedly dash over my face, and I would be nearly suffocated. Were these savages never going to reach me? The suspense was too terrible.

They reached my island and came down the narrow strip, prodding the undergrowth with their spears. In another second they were within a few yards of where I was ambushed. Both of them saw me at the same instant, and up went their spears. Fortunately, one was almost behind the other, and this interfered with their concerted action. I fired point-blank into the grinning face of the foremost savage, and he dropped where he stood; I saw the little round hole my bullet had made right in the [pg 554] centre of his forehead. The flint spear-head of the second black ripped open my shirt and made an ugly gash in the fleshy part of my arm. He was within six feet of me, and I levelled my revolver at him and pulled the trigger. To my dismay the weapon snapped uselessly, and I realized that my last cartridge had been fired. In another moment that savage and I were wrestling together in deadly grips. Once he had me under water and I experienced all the first horrors of drowning, with the waters thundering in my ears. It was surely all up with me now! But by one supreme effort I pulled the rascal down, and then it was my turn. When I had done with him I knew he would give me no more trouble. Next I tore off part of my shirt into a long strip and bound it tightly round my injured arm in a rough-and-ready but effectual fashion. Then, with only one arm which was of any real use, I essayed to cross the remaining strip of hurrying flood. In a few minutes more I was on the other side, more dead than alive. Thank God! It was the last creek I had to cross.


[pg 555]


By Harold J. Shepstone.

An interesting article describing how Mr. Carl Hagenbeck, the famous animal dealer, collects his curious merchandise. Often, to secure specimens of some particularly valuable species, special expeditions have to be organized. These are frequently away for many months, traversing thousands of miles of practically unexplored country and meeting with all sorts of exciting adventures.


A LITTLE way outside the busy shipping port of Hamburg is the pretty little suburban village of Stellingen. Here is located the largest wild-animal exchange in the world—the one place where strange and curious beasts from the four quarters of the earth are received and housed until wanted by the great zoological gardens and menageries. It is hardly necessary to add that this unique establishment is presided over by Mr. Carl Hagenbeck, famous as the most successful animal dealer the modern world has ever seen, and as the creator of a decidedly original zoological garden.

At Mr. Hagenbeck's great depôt there may be seen at any time the finest and rarest collection of animals in the world. When the writer was in Stellingen recently the value of the wild beasts gathered there was put down at fifty thousand pounds, and they certainly included almost every living creature one could name, among them being many very rare species.

Naturally, the most romantic part of the whole business is the way in which the animals are captured in their native wilds and brought—sometimes thousands of miles—to the depôt, and the object of the present article is to describe this side of a strange yet fascinating trade.

There is a vast difference between the hunter who kills for pleasure and the hunter whose business it is to capture his quarry alive. The former merely seeks his quarry, shoots it, secures a skin or horn as a trophy, and then returns. True, he meets with many adventures and has often exciting stories to tell of fights with enraged beasts. But the collector stands on a different plane; his mission is not to exterminate, but to preserve for the education and benefit of civilized man. He may rightly be described as the humane invader of the forest, jungle, desert, and plain, for he never kills unless it is necessary for self-preservation. He sets out with the determination to bring back typical specimens of the wild life of out-of-the-way parts of the earth, so that those who pursue more peaceful callings at home may obtain some idea of the characteristics and habits of the curious beasts that inhabit the more inaccessible parts of the globe.

Needless to say, the animal-catcher's task is much more difficult than that of the ordinary hunter; from first to last every quest is one long period of anxiety. The simplest part of the work, in many cases, is the capture of the beasts. Thereafter his chief concern is their welfare. He has to attend to their many and varied wants, doctor them when they are sick, and transport them safely for many thousands of miles—often across trackless and practically [pg 556] unexplored country. Not only must he know how to deal with the savage beast, but with the savage man as well, for to accomplish his purpose he has frequently to rely upon the natives to assist him, and he can only do this efficiently by knowing how to handle them. Indeed, there are few callings demanding more qualifications than that of the seeker after live wild animals. The modern collector is a hunter, explorer, and zoologist rolled into one.

Naturally, it is the rarer species, such as the rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffe, and zebra, that the dealers most prize. And here a word of explanation is necessary. A traveller returning from the wilds of Africa will tell you how he detected hippos floating down the streams and spotted giraffes on the horizon; he will also relate to you how many had been shot in the district only a short while before by some famous sportsman. Yet, if you wished to procure a live rhinoceros to-day, you would probably have to give as much as eight hundred pounds for it, and almost as much for a hippopotamus. Why, one may well ask, this enormous price for a single specimen of these creatures, when they appear to be fairly plentiful in the land of their birth? The reason is easily explained.

From Photographs.

To-day no hunter would dream of trying to capture a full-grown hippo or rhinoceros. Indeed, it would be practically impossible to hold such an animal, and, even were it possible to entice one into a cage, it would probably only kill itself in its frenzied efforts to escape, or refuse to eat, and so die of starvation. What the hunter endeavours to do, therefore, is to secure the young ones. This he does by hunting along the river banks until he happens to discover a hippo and her young. The thing then is to capture the calf.

Mr. Hagenbeck's hunters, or rather the natives engaged by his men, resort to two methods in catching the hippopotamus. The so-called Hawati, or water-hunters, of the Soudan, all of whom are excellent and daring swimmers, harpoon their victims at the noon hour, when they [pg 557] are sunk in deep slumber. Then they pull them to the bank by means of a cord attached to the harpoon, and there make them fast. The hunters use for this a special kind of harpoon, made in such a way that it does not make a deep wound. Fully three-quarters of the hippopotami exhibited in Europe have been captured in this way.

From a Photograph.

From a Photograph.

Hippopotamus hunts are also conducted on land. There advantage is taken of the fact that the female hippopotamus makes her young walk in front of her. The reason for this is that the beast, being well protected in the rear by its abnormally thick skin, prefers to have its offspring in front, where it can guard them better against danger. But, in spite of its affection for its children, the mother hippo has no particular desire to meet danger when it comes. So the [pg 558] hunters dig large pits in the forest, cover them over until they are fully concealed, and then lie in wait near by. Presently a female hippopotamus comes along with her child trotting before her. Suddenly, without warning, the young one disappears before its mother's eyes. This is too much for the old animal. She dashes away leaving the little one at the mercy of its enemies.

A fence is built at once around the pit and the captive is ensnared, thrown to the ground, and securely tied. Then it is placed on a sort of litter and carried by native carriers through the dense forest to the hunter's camp. This is arduous work, as a two-year-old hippo weighs from 1,000lb. to 1,200lb.


From a Photograph.

Having secured the object of his mission, the next thing the hunter has to do is to feed his prize. Now, a baby hippo will drink thirty pints of milk a day and bellow for more, so that the question of an adequate supply is very important. The nutriment is supplied by goats, which have to be brought along with the expedition. This means, of course, that the hunter's caravan is an unwieldy affair, and can only move across country very slowly. Every step it advances it increases in size, being continually added to, for in addition to collecting live animals the collector also gathers skins and other things of value to the dealer.

All the great animal collectors are agreed that the finest hunters in the world are the natives themselves. They know how to frighten and confuse the parent animals, and are quick at seizing an opportunity for snatching up the young, a thing which has to be done quickly and without the slightest hesitation, or the consequences may prove serious.

In catching giraffes the hunter engages only natives who are expert horsemen; he may recruit as few as a dozen or a corps of a couple of hundred. Scouts are sent out until a herd is sighted, and then off go the natives on their speedy Abyssinian ponies. Having come up with the herd, with yells and shouts they dash towards the animals. Frightened out of their wits by the din, the long-necked creatures turn and bolt for dear life. For some time the chase is kept up at furious speed, until one by one the young ones fall behind exhausted. Instantly they are cut off from the others by a couple of men on horseback and headed towards the camp, soon becoming entirely exhausted and falling an easy prey to their captors. Halters are then fastened round their heads and they are led and driven back to the camp. They are fed principally on goats' milk, corn, and various kinds of green stuff.

It would be practically impossible to secure a full-grown giraffe, for if you managed to corner one you could not hold it. This animal is more plentiful now than it was a few years ago, on account of the opening up of the Egyptian Soudan. Indeed, between the years 1880 and 1900 only three giraffes were imported into Europe, two coming from South Africa and one from Senegal. "I have had rather bad luck with giraffes lately," said Mr. Hagenbeck. "Out of six recently sent to us from the interior of Nubia, only one arrived alive; the remainder all died on the way. Last year, out of eight, only two reached Hamburg."

A more hardy animal, and one that is decidedly more plentiful, is the zebra—that is to say, the common mountain kind. Certain species of this beautifully-striped African horse, however, are getting very scarce, including the Grévy and Burchell. Zebras are caught by "drives." First of all, the hunter builds a large stockaded enclosure with a kind of funnel-shaped opening. As many as three to five thousand natives are then called into requisition. Some of them come mounted on their swift ponies, the majority, however, being on foot. Each man carries a harmless-looking little flag on the end of a stick. Scouts are sent out in various directions, and when they report the presence of a herd the army of natives quietly files out of camp and for hours tramps over the ground, spreading out in the form of a vast semicircle, measuring perhaps five miles across at its widest part. In this way [pg 559] they manage to surround the unsuspecting zebras. Then, at a given signal—generally a pistol-shot—they commence shouting and beating tom-toms, moving meanwhile towards the animals.

The frightened zebras retreat at once, dashing towards the stockade. As they approach it other animals are surprised, including, perhaps, antelope, eland, deer, buffalo, and perhaps a giraffe. The one aim of the four-footed fugitives is to get away from the cordon of yelling natives, which now surrounds them on every side. There is only one outlet, which leads into the stockade, and into this they plunge panic-stricken. Once inside, the entrance is immediately closed. At a recent drive, organized by one of Mr. Hagenbeck's hunters in German East Africa, fully four hundred zebras and a large number of antelopes and other animals were surrounded in this way. As the corral was not large enough to hold such a number the greater portion were allowed to escape, and finally eighty-five zebras and fifteen antelopes were secured.

When first captured the zebra is very wild, dashing about the stockade at lightning speed, but in a few days he recognises that it is hopeless to try to escape, and philosophically accepts the situation. In German East Africa the settlers often tame these newly-caught zebras and ride them like horses.

Curiously enough, the big cats—such as lions, tigers, and leopards—do not give the hunter so much trouble as some of the hoofed animals. In the case of lions they are now only taken when cubs. This work is done by the natives; the collector merely tells them that he is wanting lions, and in a short time they return with the desired number. These men track the lioness to her den, rushing in suddenly and raining spears upon her till she is dead. The little ones are then wrapped up in pieces of cloth and handed over to the hunter at the camp. They are fed on goats' milk—which they drink out of a bottle—and pieces of fowl until they are old enough to travel, when they are sent down to the coast in little wooden boxes on the backs of camels and shipped to Europe.

Occasionally when the cub-hunters visit a den they find both parents away, and then their task is easy. Should the mother return, however, there is at once a fierce fight, and unless she is quickly overpowered it goes hard indeed with the natives. There is no creature more fierce than one of these big cats when it comes to protecting her young, and the cries of the infuriated mother will sometimes bring her mate to the scene, and an enraged male lion strikes terror into all but the stoutest hearts.

Abyssinia is now the great lion-hunting ground. The best lions were those obtained from the Atlas Mountains in North Africa, but this species is now practically extinct. At Mr. Hagenbeck's depôt there are at present some forty-six lions of all ages. They have come from the Congo, from the Egyptian Soudan, from Senegal, and from South and East Africa. Some of these animals are worth as much as three hundred pounds apiece. In the same section there may also be seen some twenty-two tigers, representing several very rare species. There are some, for instance, from Siberia, magnificent creatures, with beautifully-striped coats, and worth over two hundred pounds apiece.

Tigers are captured as cubs and also when fully grown; often the animal hunter, to the delight of the natives, will entrap some much-dreaded man-eater. Tigers are caught in large pitfalls, and various methods of securing the animals when once they are in the pit are adopted. In some cases a strong wooden trap is fixed in the pit, and when the animal falls [pg 560] through the lightly-covered mesh at the top it traps and cages itself automatically. In others it merely falls into a big hole, and has to be secured and dragged out by ropes. In certain parts of India the natives are so daring that they will place a collar, from which hang a number of twenty-foot ropes, round the neck of a newly-caught tiger. To the end of each a man will hang on for dear life, and by pulling against each other guide the infuriated brute along the path they wish it to follow. In this way they literally walk the tiger to market.

From a Photograph.

Everyone knows how they catch elephants in India—by driving them into a kheddah or stockade, and then sending in trained elephants to subdue their newly-caught brethren—so that no description of this method need be given here. Naturally, no dealer would ever dream of organizing an expedition to hunt this great creature, save, perhaps, the African variety, which is now very rare and valuable. In the course of a single year Mr. Hagenbeck will dispose of as many as thirty to fifty elephants. On one occasion he received a cable ordering thirty, and they were duly shipped by the next steamer.

From a Photograph.

Some few years ago the famous dealer had a remarkable experience with an African elephant, which stood eight feet in height and was a magnificent creature of its kind. It was sold to the proprietor of an American circus, who was then touring in Europe. Mr. Hagenbeck's instructions were to send the animal by [pg 561] rail from Hamburg to Dresden. A special wagon was ordered to convey the creature, and when all was ready it was walked from the depot down to the station.

"He went as quietly as a lamb," said Mr. Hagenbeck. "Arriving at the station, I fixed a stout rope to one of his forelegs, in case the animal should get a little nervous or excited. The elephant was just about to enter its wagon when an express train ran through the station, blowing its whistle rather loudly as it did so. This frightened the creature. He commenced to trumpet, spread out his long ears, and then, with a twist of his foot, smashed the rope as if it had been a piece of thread. Realizing he was about to bolt I jumped up and clung to one of his ears, hoping by this means to prevent the beast from dashing away and causing endless damage everywhere.

"I had hardly grasped his ear, however, before he started off. I had no option then but to hang on, for if I had dropped I should probably have been trampled upon, so to the animal's ear I clung for dear life. At the bottom of the railway yard was a large iron gate. When we first came through we had closed it behind us, and I thought that this barrier, perhaps, might stop the elephant's mad career. But it did nothing of the kind. The brute simply charged it full force with his head, without in the least slackening speed, and the stout gate was smashed, portions of the iron bars being hurled a great distance.

From a Photograph.

[pg 562]

From a Photograph.

"Out into the busy streets of Hamburg bolted the elephant, trumpeting madly and frightening both horses and pedestrians as he rushed along. Past electric trams and carriages he dashed, with me still dangling from one of his ears. He went straight back to the depôt, the same way as he had come—by a road which he had never travelled before. When he arrived at the depôt the iron gate there was closed, but this was quickly broken down and the creature dashed into his stable. Entering the latter, he stood still for a second or two, and then jumped on to the platform where he had been in the habit of standing and commenced eating hay as if nothing had happened!"

Here is an interesting instance of the famous dealer's enterprise. When the Russian traveller, Prjevalsky, startled the zoological world a few years ago by the announcement that he had seen in the deserts of Sungaria, in Central Asia, a new species of wild horse, Mr. Hagenbeck decided to secure some specimens, and an expedition was at once organized. His travellers penetrated to the northern border of the Gobi Desert, where they found themselves in the land of the Kirghiz, a tribe noted for its horses and expert horsemanship. Engaging the services of nearly two thousand Kirghiz riders, and taking with them fifty brood mares in foal, the collectors sought the desert home of the wild horse. After a series of exciting adventures the travellers succeeded in capturing fifty-two young colts of the wild horse species.

These were mothered by the domesticated mares that had been taken along with the expedition for that purpose, and then, after a rest, the long and arduous homeward journey was begun. It took three months for the caravan to reach the Siberian Railway and depart for Hamburg. During the trip twenty-eight of the wild colts succumbed, and only twenty-four reached Hamburg alive. The expedition was in the field nearly eighteen months, and its expenses totalled some ten thousand pounds.

When I was in Stellingen Mr. Hagenbeck was daily expecting the return of an expedition which he had dispatched to Northern Siberia. His men were bringing him home some rare deer, bears, wolves, pheasants, and a host of other creatures. Another hunter was on his way back from West Africa with some young gorillas and other interesting creatures, while yet another was bringing home elephants from Ceylon, and still a fourth Polar bears and young walruses from Spitzbergen.

These collectors journey far into the wilds and literally take their lives in their hands. They never know what danger awaits them. On one occasion a caravan was quietly making its [pg 563] way along the dry bed of a stream in Central Asia, the chief hunter happy in the knowledge that his mission had been successful, and that he was bringing home a really valuable collection of wild beasts. Suddenly the heavens grew dark and loud peals of thunder were heard, followed by vivid lightning-flashes. The hunter knew what it meant—unless he got out of that river-bed soon he and his men and their valuable freight would be washed away. He hastened them forward with all speed, but before they could find a track up the steep sides the waters were upon them, and in a few minutes what had previously been a smooth roadway was a roaring torrent, with men and horses, mixed up with all kinds of wild creatures, fighting for their lives Most of the men managed to escape, but three-fourths of the valuable animals were lost.

From a Photograph.

From a Photograph.

To describe how every beast one sees in a well-organized zoo is caught would naturally occupy a great deal of space. The various species of Siberian deer are taken when young. A herd is driven by the natives into deep snow, into which the young ones sink and are unable to extricate themselves. Most of the bears, too, are also secured when mere cubs. In the [pg 564] case of the giant Polar bear, the cubs are taken from their mothers, dumped into barrels, and brought across the ocean in ships to the dealer, often arriving in a very sorry plight. The Indian hunter will catch snakes for you by setting fire to the grass where they are known to exist, and securing them in nets as they try to escape. Those of the boa-constrictor type are taken either when they have gorged themselves with food, and are more or less lifeless, or else secured in traps.

The whole business is vastly exciting, and Mr. Hagenbeck can narrate many adventures he has had while handling his strange merchandise. When a young man he often went out himself hunting animals. While bringing home a large consignment once from Africa a full-grown lion got loose on board ship. It was very early in the morning, and the dealer was asleep in his cabin at the time. He was quickly roused by the captain, who was very much frightened, as were also the members of his crew. Placing a "shifting den" in position, the dealer took his large whip and sought the lion. He found him in a crouching position, his eyes glaring, and in no mood to be played with. Cracking the whip several times, by a series of manœuvres he managed to get behind the beast and slowly drove him forward. It was very tricky work, and several times it looked as if the big revolver would have to be drawn and the animal shot. Then, as sometimes happens, the animal suddenly lost heart, bolted into his cage, and was safely secured.

In Suez, once, a full-grown giraffe ran away with Mr. Hagenbeck, who held him by a rope twisted round his wrist. Not being able to free himself he was dragged along the streets and fearfully knocked about. When he did get loose he was so exhausted and bruised that he had to lie quite still for a quarter of an hour without moving. On another occasion, while unloading a hippopotamus, the animal got loose and started after him. He ran into its den, and managed to escape through the bars at the other end just as the beast was upon him.

From a Photograph.

[pg 565]

Animals sometimes start fighting among themselves, and to separate them is exceedingly dangerous. Perhaps the queerest encounter ever witnessed at this remarkable animal exchange was that which took place between a hippopotamus and a kangaroo. "The latter," said Mr. Hagenbeck, "was the largest kangaroo I ever had in my possession; it was over six feet high, and a very powerful animal. It occupied a stable close to that of the hippo, and one night the kangaroo jumped over its fence into the hippo's pen. The kangaroo landed in the hippo's tank, which was empty.

"It was two o'clock in the morning when the incident occurred, and when I arrived on the scene I could not help smiling, the whole affair being so comical. There stood the monster hippo with his enormous mouth open, snapping at the kangaroo down in the tank below. The moment the hippo moved down towards the tank the kangaroo sprang into the air and smacked his opponent in the face with his great forefeet. When the hippo got too venturesome, by endeavouring to walk into the tank despite the blows, the kangaroo took a mighty leap upwards and struck his enemy with his hind feet, inflicting terrible scratches with his claws.

"Try as he would the hippo could not get into that tank to attack the kangaroo. To separate the combatants was a puzzle. We did it ultimately by fixing up an arrangement by which we dropped a large seal net over the kangaroo, and then, drawing in the cords, secured him. To divert the hippo's attention, the moment the net was lowered over the kangaroo one of my men pretended to enter the cage. The ruse succeeded, and the kangaroo was safely released and taken back to his proper quarters.

"I could tell you many more adventures," said Mr. Hagenbeck, as we shook hands on parting, "but the fact is I have just written a book in which I have given a complete story of my life, and I have embodied in it the little adventures I have had while hunting, collecting, and handling my strange merchandise." That book certainly ought to make good reading.

[pg 566]


By E. F. Martin, late of the Royal Niger Company's Service.

A powerful native chief was stirring up trouble against the white man, and the order went forth that he was to be arrested and brought in for trial. The author was in charge of the expedition, and here relates the thrilling happenings that befell his little band ere the "wanted" rebel was safely caged at head-quarters.


IT was the month of July, in the year 1898, and we were kicking our heels in idleness about Asaba, waiting for the return of the Chief Justice to decide an important local matter, when the senior executive officer of the district requested me to take political charge of a mission into the Hinterland, to bring in the paramount chief of a great secret organization, which was the cause of grave unrest in the territory behind Benin, its members having vowed to drive the white man out of the country. Overjoyed at the news, I ran across to the bungalow of Lieutenant Townsend, the officer commanding the local detachment of the Royal Niger Constabulary, and handed him the order to accompany me with an escort of fifty men. After luncheon we mounted the Maxim gun belonging to the station on Townsend's veranda, and practised, in turn, on logs floating down the great sluggish Niger, which passes in a wide sweep by the foot of the slope on which Asaba nestles.

Our target-practice over, we set to work to review the light column that had, meanwhile, been getting ready to accompany us on the morrow on our adventure into the unknown. The fifty Hausa soldiers looked wonderfully smart and keen in their light khaki marching-kit.

At daylight next day we set out, our transport consisting of sixty coolie carriers. The dreary pattering of the rain on the myriad leaves of the forest trees, and the splash, splash of many feet on the flooded pathway, provided a melancholy accompaniment to the hushed whispers of the men and our own serious thoughts.

We passed round the native town to the right and plunged up to our waists in muddy water, through which the pathway led right into the darkness of the forest. For several hours it rained incessantly; the whole land was dank and sodden, and reeked of wet, rotting vegetation. Later on the rain ceased, and on one occasion, when we emerged from the depths of the forest into open farm lands, we were bathed in a blaze of sunshine, only to plunge into the cool of the forest glades again. We pitched camp at [pg 567] Openam, where far into the night I lay awake, listening to the many strange noises of that strange land. The beating of the corn for next day's meal sounded like the possible building of stockades by some malignant enemy preparing to entrap us, and the cries of the night-birds and prowling beasts seemed like so many uncanny voices of woodland spirits, warning us of some impending doom.

We were early astir, and after a quick light breakfast set out towards our goal—the town of Issèlé. At Issèlé M'patimo we were stopped by a stockade, and it was only after much persuasion and many assurances of friendship that we were allowed to pass through—not, however, before every soul in the place had disappeared. Not a house was to be seen. We entered a great clearing completely fenced in by impenetrable barriers of living trees, whose leafy branches interlaced in inextricable folds. Somewhere behind these barriers were the houses. We could see no trace of the hundreds of eyes that we felt—we knew—were staring at us from all sides; no inkling of the countless black muzzles of the Long Dane guns that were covering us. Nobody appeared, however, and we marched through this silent clearing without mishap. But we had hardly got beyond the confines of this curious city of the woods before heavy firing broke out in our immediate rear. We

felt certain that we were in for it, but our guide reassured us, saying that the townspeople were only giving vent to their feelings of relief at our not having molested them.

That night we camped in a village outside Issèlé, and on interviewing the chief found that he had with him a daughter of the man we wished to capture, and persuaded her to come with us next morning into Issèlé.

On reaching that town we drew the men up in square before the King's house—a lofty building of enormous circumference, painted or washed a pink colour—and demanded to see His Majesty. After a lot of parleying I entered the building, leaving Townsend outside, but taking my interpreter and four soldiers with me as a body guard. I was shown into a large courtyard, surrounded on all sides by a veranda, whilst in the centre stood a kind of idol on a rude column. Overhanging the palace outside, an enormous cotton-tree rose some two hundred feet into the air. Not a leaf or a vestige of bark adorned its mournful, lonely majesty. From every branch, however, hung some ghastly offering to the ruling fetish of the place—here a dead fowl, there a skull dangling by a matted bunch of hair, and many another gruesome thing. It cast a shadow and a hush of Death over everything; the people seemed to live in continual fear of some unknown terror. As I waited in this strange courtyard with my five companions, I took the opportunity to get my bearings. The doorway by which I had entered led out into the square by some steps, and was about six feet above the level of the ground outside. Its heavy, iron-studded wooden door stood ajar. The only other entrance to the courtyard was opposite this one, and led into the private apartments of the palace. The middle of the courtyard was some two feet below the level of the surrounding veranda.

Suddenly the private door flew open, and a swarm of men entered, armed with guns, spears, swords, and bows and arrows. At a sign from me my men quietly fixed bayonets. Then the King came in, gorgeously robed in red velvet, and sat down on a chair near me, after shaking hands and indicating another chair that had been brought for me. I then, through my interpreter, explained my mission. As the King proved to be on bad terms with Ozuma Munyi, the man I sought, he was quite willing to give me a free hand, but did not dare to take any open action himself, as Ozuma was head of a very powerful party and might prove nasty later on. He, however, agreed to send a messenger to call him. We waited for fully half an hour, not knowing whether the rebel chieftain would come or not. Needless to say, that half-hour was one of poignant anxiety, as on that message depended the success or failure of our expedition. The messenger was told to say that Ozuma's daughter was with us, and that if he himself would not come we should return to Asaba with her. Meanwhile I called Townsend in, and we arranged that, as Ozuma's party entered, Townsend and twelve men should manage to intermingle with them, and thus, unnoticed, get into the courtyard. We felt that to fill the place with soldiers beforehand might frighten our man.

Soon the messenger returned with the good news that Ozuma Munyi was coming, and shortly afterwards a body of men, armed to the teeth, entered from the square outside, accompanied by Townsend and some of his men. When Ozuma and I had shaken hands the tug-of-war began. He was an enormous, powerfully-built man, and nothing that I could say would move him to accompany us. At last, seeing that persuasion was useless, I glanced across at Townsend and nodded. He uttered one word that had the result of an explosion. A flash of bayonets and a rush of khaki-uniformed men from behind the veranda columns, and the whole place was in an uproar. The King and his followers promptly disappeared through the inner doorway, and Ozuma's men were kept at [pg 568] bay by the bayonets of my four Hausa guards, whilst our rebel himself, and the twelve men told off to capture him, rolled and tumbled and fought all over the courtyard—one man against twelve—amid Ozuma's frenzied shouts of "The King has sold me! The King has sold me!" Then, crash! out through the doorway he hurtled, with five men on top of him. By the time Townsend and I reached the bottom of the steps, however, the struggle was over, and half the column was sitting on the prostrate body of our prisoner.


Having called the men off and pinioned his arms securely, we lost no time in forming up into marching order and setting out for home, as our surroundings began to take on a threatening aspect. Hundreds of armed blacks were gathering from all sides, wondering at the happenings which were being enacted in the shadow of their mystery-tree.

We decided to give the Ozuma party the slip by getting out of the place by a different route to that by which we had come, and, once clear of the town, set off at the double. That was the hardest and most desperate race I have ever run. At every few yards great trees had been thrown across the track, and we had to scramble over these, or, wherever practicable, dive underneath. We ran for some miles along this tangled forest path, and then called a halt at the foot of a short hill, crowned by a town called Nburu-Kitti. Forming up we marched to the summit, and halting in the marketplace sent for the King. His Majesty refused to come, so we informed him that, on a second refusal, we would fire into his house. Then he came quickly enough. We told him that all we wished him to do was to promise that we should not be molested by his people, and this promise he readily gave. I then took the head of the [pg 569] column, followed by five or six men; then came the Maxim gun and our prisoner and his escort, followed immediately by Townsend and the rest of the force. As we were passing the last row of huts the crack of a musket rang out. I turned, thinking that some soldier had let off his rifle by mistake, but before I could ask what it was that had happened the whole column was blazing away right and left. Going back to the Maxim, I had it fixed up and trained on the town, whence a heavy fire had been opened on us through the doors and windows and from behind the walls of the compounds. It was obvious that the local King meant to do his best to rescue his friend, Ozuma Munyi.


I had barely taken my seat behind the gun when my helmet was shot away by a slug that tore a slight flesh wound over my right temple. I had the satisfaction, however, of seeing a whole section of wall crumble away under my first sweeping fire with the Maxim, and five dark forms fall across the ruins. Then a blinding rush of blood poured down my face, and almost simultaneously the gun jammed. Wiping the blood from my eyes, and getting a Hausa to tie a handkerchief round my head, I turned to call Townsend to have a look at the weapon, when, to my consternation, I saw him lying on the ground, with two men bending over him. Several others had also fallen. The fire from the houses was getting heavier each second, and I realized that unless we mastered it speedily we might find ourselves in a serious position. So, snatching up Townsend's sword and brandishing my revolver in my left hand, I called on some of the men to follow me and help clear the compounds. Twenty at once volunteered, and with a yell we dashed straight for the wall that had crumbled under the Maxim fire. Leaping over the foot or two remaining, we rushed in amongst a frightened crowd of savages, who, astonished at the sudden onslaught, [pg 570] tried to retreat through a narrow inner doorway. With bayonets and rifle-butts, bullets and sword-thrusts, we hacked and hammered at the seething mass of yelling blacks. Out of twenty-five that made for the exit, only seven got through, three of whom fell to my revolver before getting any farther. Shouting to the men to follow me, I next ran back into the roadway, ordering the native sergeant-major to form square, with the prisoner in the middle, and await further instructions. Then, with my volunteers, I made for the King's house, where we battered down the door and rushed in. As we appeared the folk inside, dropping their weapons, ran away through various huts and doorways. Some we shot down, others were bayoneted. I and a native N.C.O. went after the chief. Through some huts, and around others, dodging in and out between mud walls and partitions of matting, we followed him until at last we cornered him, as we thought, in a house that seemed to close all exit from the compound in that direction. The King dashed in, I after him, and the N.C.O. at my heels.

The house was divided into three rooms, cutting it into three equal parts. When we reached the third room, the farthest from the entrance, we came to a standstill, for it was pitch dark, and there seemed to be no windows. The heavy wooden door that led into the place stood ajar, and the N.C.O. pushed past me and rushed into the darkness. Fearing treachery, I

tried to stop him, but did not succeed in doing so. Just then there was a noise behind me like the banging of a door. I turned, but some instinct seemed to hold me where I stood. A dead silence had fallen on the place, and I must confess to a feeling that something uncanny was in the air. I could hear through the silence, as though from miles and miles away, faint shouts, and now and then a distant shot, but in the rooms around me absolute stillness prevailed. What had become of the fugitive King and my too eager N.C.O.?

At last, overcoming the strange feeling of apathy that like a spell had come over me, I called to my companion, inquiring where on earth he had got to. The sound of my voice rang hollow and strange in that gloomy place, and seemed to echo faintly, but there was no reply. Feeling certain now that some kind of treachery was at work, I felt in my tunic for a match, but found that I had either dropped my only box or my orderly had relieved me of it that morning, for some reason best known to himself. The solitary window in the middle room, where I had come to a full stop, was shuttered—actually nailed up. The only light that came in filtered through the chinks. I tried to burst the shutter open, but it resisted all my efforts. Then, bethinking me of my revolver, I went to the entrance of the innermost room once more, and, aiming at the floor, fired. The flash revealed the interior to me for an instant. It seemed absolutely empty! Where were the two men who had entered? Had they gone out, by any chance, through the roof, I wondered? Yet there was no sign of daylight anywhere to indicate an exit under the palm-thatch, and there was no doorway visible in the farther walls. There was nothing in the room, with the exception of a few mats lying in the middle of the floor. With the intention of going round outside the house and trying to discover for myself what the solution of the mystery could be I turned on my heel and retraced my steps, crossed the middle room once more, and passed through the doorway into the first of the three rooms.

Then I started back, nearly suffocated. A great rolling cloud of thick yellow smoke met me and completely enveloped me. In an instant I realized what it meant—the house was on fire! Making a wild dart for the shuttered window of the middle room, I banged and hammered at it with all my might and main, using both the hilt of Townsend's sword, which I carried, and the handle of my revolver, but all to no purpose. There was no doubt about it: I was completely trapped. But, meantime, what had become of all my men—the twenty enthusiastic volunteers who had smashed in the door of the compound and rushed in along with me—where had they got to? A smell of hot smoke filled the room, and from outside the roaring as of a mighty wind, accompanied by the crackling of musketry, was all the sound that I could hear. Then it suddenly dawned upon me that the crackling was not that of musketry, the roaring not that of wind—but of the town and compound on fire and fiercely blazing like the house I was entrapped in. There was no mistaking those ominous red gleams that now began to be reflected through the imperfectly-fitted shutter. Suddenly the roar became deafening, and a great lurid tongue of flame shot across the room, accompanied by a blast of heat that nearly choked me. I had barely time to make a dash for the third chamber before the fire took complete possession of the middle one. The heat and the smoke were terrible. I made a spring for the farther wall in order to try to force my way through the roof, which at this, the extreme, end of the house had not yet caught alight. Three times did I make the attempt, but each time fell back, unable to get a hand-hold on the top of the wall. At the third attempt, on staggering back, my foot got [pg 571] entangled in one of the mats that were lying on the floor and I tripped and fell, half fainting from the terrible smoke and heat. As I went down the mats seemed to give way, and with great force the lower half of my body—my left hip and leg—struck against the side of some kind of cavity, into which I found I had half fallen, for, whilst I had come on the floor with my hands, the rest of me swung into space. In that moment I understood, to some extent, why that house held such strange echoes.

The roaring flames overhead and the dense, stifling smoke, that, but for the excitement of my fall, would already have rendered me unconscious, now precluded any possible thought of making my escape through any of the rooms of the house, and so I turned my attention to my latest discovery, hoping against hope that it would enable me to save my life. The sides of the well seemed to be made of smooth, hardened earth, and were damp and covered with slime. Using all my strength, I let myself down to the full length of my arms until I hung well below the level of the floor. Here I managed to draw one of the mats over my head, and clung to the walls of that gloomy pit like a beetle. Kicking against the sides with the toes of my boots, I managed to make holes in the hard clay, large enough to allow of my resting my feet sufficiently to take off some of the strain from my fingers and arms. What my thoughts were at that time I do not pretend to know; I do not think I had any. For the time being I was no better than any other beetle, clinging desperately to the side of the pit, of the depth of which I had no idea. A cold, damp draught of foul air seemed to blow up from below me, and a mouldy stench sickened my nostrils.

Suddenly my dulled senses were awakened by a tremendous crash, accompanied by much hissing and spluttering, and the red light above the mat covering my head went out. As I looked up, wondering what this could mean, something fell upon the mats, forcing the one directly over me inwards and sending it floating down past me into the darkness beneath. The falling object also crushed my right hand at the same time, and the sudden pain caused me to loose my hold, so that for one awful moment I dangled helplessly, suspended only by my left hand, over that reeking pit.

Having secured another hand-hold, I stared anxiously up through the smoke. The cause of all the commotion, I discovered, was a burning rafter, all blackened and charred, which had toppled down when the roof collapsed. The fall of the thatch appeared to have temporarily quenched the fire, and it seemed as good an opportunity of escape as I was likely to get, so, drawing myself up by my left hand, I managed to get my right arm round the still smouldering beam and, with a supreme effort, dragged myself out of the mouth of the well once more, getting astride of the charred and smoking beam, and thence on to the floor. Bruised and scorched, with my clothes burning and my helmet gone, I managed to clamber up the wall of the room by means of the many pieces of blackened and half-burnt bamboo that had come down with the roof, and flung myself recklessly over the farther side. I fell on my back, and by rights ought to have had some bones broken, but somehow I escaped with a few severe contusions. Picking myself up, I rushed through the flaming compound, with red-hot ashes swirling about my face, acrid smoke filling my lungs, and my eyes streaming water from the fearful heat. Escaping by a miracle more than once, as a roof collapsed or a wall fell out with a crash across my path, and leaping over the bodies of natives at every turn, I eventually emerged into the market-place more dead than alive.

The troops were formed in square as I had left them. Men were issuing from the burning compounds, singly and in twos and threes. All firing had ceased, and not a native of the place was to be seen anywhere. As I approached the square at a staggering trot I ran a great risk of being shot, for—as I learnt subsequently—the men were so startled at my appearance that they were seriously thinking of putting a bullet through me. They told me afterwards that I looked more like a devil than anything they had ever seen, and they took me for the fire-spirit that lived in the flames. Some of the coolies even started to bolt, until reassured by their companions and by the sound of my voice.

I ordered the "Fall in" to be sounded, so as to collect my scattered volunteers, and then set about seeing what I could do to ease the horrible pains of my burns. This I accomplished, to some extent, with various ointments that I found in the medicine-chest we had brought with us. I then turned my attention to Townsend. On examining him I found that he had been hit in the shoulder. He had swooned at the time, but was now quite conscious again. We concluded that it was nothing very serious, did what we thought best at the moment, and bandaged the wound up well. Then, with Townsend in a hammock, and carrying our wounded coolies along with us—no soldiers had been hit—we set out for Asaba once more with our prisoner.


After half an hour's marching we met a friendly native, who told us that we were to be ambushed some quarter of a mile farther on. On receipt of this cheerful piece of [pg 572] information we retraced our steps; we had had our fill of fighting for that day, especially as our instructions were to avoid bloodshed if we could possibly do so. The alternative route we determined to take added five miles to our journey, and I shall never forget the weariness and uncertainty of that long détour. The knowledge that, at any moment, a stealthy and wary enemy might suddenly start blazing away at us from five yards on either side of the path, which was shut in with dense undergrowth to right and left, surmounted with towering trees, made the journey seem endless, and the strain on our nerves was terrible. We marched for hour after hour in a gloomy twilight; not a single ray of sunlight filtered through the thick leafy canopy overhead. Then, all at once, the path opened out, and to our unutterable joy we entered the principal avenue of Openam. We were in friendly country once more—or as nearly friendly as anything in the Hinterland of Asaba could be.

Here we rested for half an hour, while I attended to Townsend and our other wounded. We then set out on our final march, and without further incident reached Asaba at 8.30 p.m., all utterly tired out, but happy in the consciousness that we had accomplished our mission.

The N.C.O. who had so mysteriously disappeared at Nburu-Kitti, and whom I had given up for lost, arrived at Asaba a few hours after the column. He came to my bedside and woke me from my well-earned sleep, whereupon I stared at him in utter amazement. On asking him to prove that he was not a ghost, he explained that, when he rushed into that end room in pursuit of the flying chief, he pitched headlong down the well and nearly broke his neck. The bottom, however, consisted of oozy mud, which considerably softened his fall. After lying stunned for how long he could not tell, he began to explore the pit, and discovered a tunnel about five feet from the bottom of the well. Crawling into this, he followed it without difficulty until he emerged into another compound beyond that of the chief's. It is to be supposed that the fugitive King must have made his escape in the same manner, but, as the N.C.O. naively said, he did not wait to inquire.

[pg 573]

Round The World With A Billiard-Cue.

By Melbourne Inman, British Billiard Association Champion.

In this amusing article the well-known professional describes some of the curious experiences that befell him during his recent tour round the world—a tour on which his "only visible means of support" was his cue. He met all sorts and conditions of men, and—what was more important—all sorts and conditions of billiard-tables, but, as this narrative shows, managed to extract not a little amusement from his misadventures.


THE hundred and one minor accidents which occur in the average globe-trotter's journeyings were, in my case, added to and enlarged by the fact that to a certain extent my tour depended upon the amount of patronage I received. To travel round the world with a billiard cue and case as one's only visible means of support is an undertaking which requires a considerable amount of doing. That I succeeded so well I put down to the fact that the Britisher abroad is a sportsman of the best sort, and will do anything and pay anything to see one of the Mother Country's champions playing his game, no matter what that game may be. During my journey I went completely round the world, visiting Ceylon twice, Australia three times, New Zealand twice, Tasmania, China, the Straits Settlements, India, and Burma, the total distance covered being close on a hundred thousand miles, and the time occupied by the tour over eighteen months.

From a Photograph.

My chief difficulties were the tables which were provided. I did not expect to meet with absolutely correct ones, but sometimes I would be led into a room and introduced to some bedraggled wreck on four or five legs and blandly informed that that was the thing upon which I had to show my powers as a billiard-player! The only thing which saved me from a sudden and total loss of reputation was the fact that my opponent usually did a great deal worse than I, and my efforts to avoid the unorthodox pitfalls, such as open gaps in the cloth, grooves at the pockets, and so forth, were seen and appreciated by the habitués of the place who used the table themselves, and were only too familiar with its peculiarities.

My first really amusing adventure occurred at Colombo, Ceylon. I was booked to play a Mr. G——, who was a well-known personage, being sub-editor of the local paper, and had to give him eight hundred start in a game of twelve hundred up. The match took place at the [pg 574] Globe Hotel, and when I entered the room I saw that a good crowd of natives had gathered to watch the game. They were evidently very anxious to see their champion win, and chattered away volubly while the game was in progress. Now silence is indispensable if good billiards is to be played, but I stuck to my work until suddenly dull thuds began to sound on the ceiling above. The lights over the table quivered and danced with the reverberations, and presently, in despair, I called the proprietor to one side and asked him what on earth was happening up there.

"Oh, that's all right," he said, cheerily. "There's a troupe of dancing girls come here to practise every evening, and they are doing it now!"

With a stifled groan I went back to my task, but the din grew louder and louder, and at last became so continuous that I could not hear the marker's voice registering the score, while the vibration was positively alarming. At last, feeling I could endure it no longer, I went over to the marker and informed him that I was going to stop. Handing him my cue, I told him to put it away in my case, as I would play no more.

He took my cue from me and, turning to the spectators, cried, stolidly:—

"There will be an interval of ten minutes for refreshments."

The cool way in which he gave out this announcement tickled me, and I forgot my annoyance. Presently, the landlord having prevailed upon the nautch girls to cease their gyrations, the game was continued.

I was in the middle of a decent "break," and rapidly overhauling my opponent, when I noticed a black shadow whizzing about the table legs and flashing up and down among the spectators. Now, anyone who plays billiards will know that the light on the table makes it extremely difficult for the eyes to follow movement in the shadows around the room, and it was not until the thing brushed against my legs that I stopped playing and looked around.

The audience was standing up, wildly excited. I thought at first that it was my play which made them do this, but the flattering idea was quickly dispelled. I saw a lean brown arm sweep down and a wildly-spitting, furry object swung across the room and shot out of the window.

"What on earth was that?" I asked, startled.

"It's all right, Mr. Inman," replied the marker. "A wild cat has been rushing around here for the last ten minutes, but one of the gentlemen has just pitched it out of the window!"

I succeeded in winning the game all right, but did not finish until long after one o'clock in the morning. As we started at 9 p.m. and the heat during the whole four hours was terrific, it may be imagined that, what with interruptions from nautch girls and wild cats, I considered I had earned my fee, and a trifle over.

I came across something really unique in the way of rules in an hotel at Newara-Eliya, where I was booked to play. In the billiard-room, immediately opposite the table, where everyone could see it, hung a card bearing the following announcement:—

Gentlemen cutting the cloth will pay—
For first cut 100 rupees.
Second cut 50 rupees.
Third cut 20 rupees.
Any subsequent cut 10 rupees.

Judging from the appearance of the cloth, I should think that table must have been a veritable gold-mine to its proprietor, if he collected all the fines. Evidently his motto was "Cut and come again."


While staying at Wellington, New Zealand, I was invited to play at the Tararua Club, Pahiatua, some hundred and twenty miles away. I accepted the offer and, assuming that my stay there would be very short, left my wife at Wellington and travelled up to Pahiatua alone. I was met at the station by a number of gentlemen, and, after the usual liquid refreshment, went along to see the table on which I had to play. When I entered the room I saw a long, thin man squatting cross-legged in the centre of the table, stitching away at the cloth for all he was worth. Somewhat surprised, I introduced myself, whereupon the man explained that he was the local tailor, "jest puttin' things to rights a bit" for me.

[pg 575]


[pg 576]

From a Photograph.

The table itself wasn't at all bad, but when I looked at it closely I noticed that the billiard spot (the black spot on the table which indicates where the red ball is usually placed) was at least three inches too far to one side.

I had become fairly hardened to trying conditions by this time, but to attempt to play with the red ball inches out of its recognised position was more than I dared do.

"What's the matter with that spot?" I asked. "It isn't right, is it?"

The man of the needle slued around on the cloth and squinted at the spot.

"Seems sorter crooked," he agreed, slowly; "but the fac' of the matter is that we change the position of that yere spot once a week. Otherwise it'd work a hole in the cloth!"

That beat me. I fled for the hotel and sought out the gentleman who had invited me to come there. He listened to my tale of woe and then, asking me to wait for a moment, disappeared.

I don't know whether they balloted or not, but the spot was moved into its right place, and the situation—so far as I was concerned—saved.

I had been told when I arrived there that, although there were no passenger trains from Pahiatua to Wellington at that hour of the night, I should still be able to get to Wellington when the game was over, as a goods train, known locally as the "Wild Cat," stopped at Pahiatua some time about midnight on its way down-country.

When the game was over, however, and I got back to the hotel, I found that the "Wild Cat" was a very doubtful kind of train and only stopped at Pahiatua when it thought it would! This particular night, it soon appeared, was one of its "off" nights—it never showed up at the station at all!


Everybody was very kind to me and made me as comfortable as possible. While I sat in the bar, waiting for the train which never came, I noticed in a corner a couple of men with their heads together, talking very earnestly. One of them was an old squatter, the other an obvious new-comer, and their argument seemed so heated and absorbing that I gradually edged [pg 577] my way along the seat towards them to try and hear what it was they found so engrossing.

I half expected it would be sheep, or land values, or old-age pensions, but when I came within hearing distance the squatter was saying:—

"I tell you, sonny, the 'uman race started from monkeys—and don't you forget it!"

Darwin's theory in the back-blocks of New Zealand! I went straight to bed after that. To run up against a philosophical tailor, a movable billiard spot, a train with ideas of its own, and Darwin's theory, all in the same afternoon, was putting too severe a strain on a mere perambulating billiardist.

Even then, however, I had not finished with Pahiatua. In the small hours of the morning I awoke and saw that the room was filled with a dense, pungent mist. It would clear away for a moment, and the daylight would filter into the room; then down would come the fog, and the same peculiar smell would rise to my nostrils again. I lay still, watching this peculiar phenomenon for some time. I had seen so many strange things happen in the country that I accepted this as another of them.

Presently I heard heavy footsteps crossing my room.

"Who's that?" I asked.

"Only me, Mr. Inman," answered the voice of one of my friends of the previous night. "I've just come along to tell you not to be scared. The fire is nearly out."


Fire! I jumped from the bed and raced to the window. Immediately opposite the hotel I saw a huge pile of blackened wood, from which thick clouds of smoke were slowly curling. The mournful heap represented all that was left of a huge store, whose proprietor I had met and chatted with some eight hours before.

From a Photograph.

I turned to my friend and saw that he was fully dressed.

[pg 578]

"How long have you been up?" I asked.

"Three or four hours," he replied. "You see, the flames were coming over this way, and we all lent a hand to get it under."

"But, bless my soul," I said, "why on earth did you let me sleep on here?"

"Oh, you were all right," he returned, airily. "We didn't want to disturb you till the last minute. You've a long journey before you."

I knew that it was kindly meant, but at the time, at least, I did not quite appreciate it. I had been a sort of unconscious Casabianca for the best part of the night, and that "last minute" might have been a very exciting one. Yes, Pahiatua is one of the places I shall not easily forget.

I suppose one does get used to these little eccentricities of Nature. I remember, when I visited far-away Thursday Island, the landlord of the Grand Hotel, who had arranged a match for me, said in a confidential aside to me just as I landed on the quay:—

"I don't think you will find the table very straight, Mr. Inman. We had a bit of an earthquake here last night, which shook it up a bit!"

"That's nice, cheerful news," I said. "How often do you have earthquakes?"

"Well, we're not so bad as some places," he answered. "They only happen about three times a week!"

My stay at Thursday Island lasted exactly twenty-four hours; I am not anxious to acquire an intimate knowledge of earthquakes. I brought away with me as a souvenir a copy of what is proudly claimed to be "the smallest newspaper in the world," the Thursday Island Pilot, a facsimile of which is here reproduced. It is a single sheet, measuring about fourteen inches by eight.

On one occasion I "put my foot in it" fairly. It happened in Southern India, at a place where I was booked to play at the local club. The journey took twelve hours by boat, and when I arrived I was told that a gentleman was waiting for me. I thought that he was bound to be the secretary of the club, who had arranged all details with me, and chatted to him as we made our way towards the village.

Presently we passed a ramshackle-looking building, the walls of which, as far as I could judge, were made out of empty biscuit-tins and soap-boxes. It straggled over half an acre of ground, and troops of hungry dogs were sniffing around it.


I thought that I might venture on a little humour just to liven up the conversation, so, pointing to the building, I said:—

"A cow shed, I suppose?"

[pg 579]

He followed the direction of my outstretched finger, and a pained look came into his eyes.

"That's the hotel you're going to stay at," he said.

I gasped, but blundered on.

"What a horrible-looking hole!" I cried. "I shall never be able to get my wife to stay there."

"It's not so bad inside," was the reply, in rather a peculiar tone of voice.

The rest of our tramp was finished in a strained silence. I thought that, perhaps, as secretary of the club, my new friend was afraid that the accommodation would not please me. On the steps of the club I was met by a dapper little gentleman, and my companion, nodding to both of us, turned on his heel and disappeared.

"I am Mr. ——, Mr. Inman," said the man on the steps, and mentioned the name of the secretary with whom I had been in communication.

"Then who was that gentleman I have just left?" I asked, in surprise.

"That is the landlord of the hotel!" he explained.

Then, of course, I saw my mistake, and, when I met mine host again, hastened to make my apologies and patch things up as best I could. I am sure, however, that, deep down in his heart, my thoughtless words rankled. Both my wife and I took it in turns to praise everything whenever we saw him listening, but, alas! to the very end of our stay he wore a look of anxiety and care. Only when we stood on the deck of the little steamer and waved our farewells to him did the faintest suspicion of a smile flicker on his brown face. It may have been the fact that he was seeing the last of us that conjured the smile up, but I hope not.

One other little incident, and I have done. While playing at Kalgoorlie, Australia, I was approached by a resident and asked to call at his house to give a few lessons to his wife. The terms he offered were so high that I could not refuse, and so, when I had a few hours to spare, he and I went to his home.

I was introduced to his wife—a charming woman with all the true Colonial hospitality and kindliness—and we sat down in what was obviously the best room in the house and chatted for about half an hour. Finally, thinking that I ought to be up and doing something for my money, I suggested that, if the lady was quite ready, we ought to adjourn to the billiard-room, so that the lessons might commence.

"This is our billiard-room," said my host.

I looked round in amazement. "But where is the table?"


He went to one corner of the room, lifted a small three-feet-by-six miniature table top, and placed it on the dining-table in front of me.

"This is our table," he said, proudly.

I felt as though it was taking money under false pretences to try to teach billiards on such a makeshift affair, and said as much, but the old gentleman would have none of it, so I set to work and did my best. But it was an ordeal which I have no wish to repeat, for cue, balls, and everything else were in proportion to the size of the table. In fact, I believe that the old fellow could do more on the thing than I could. Anyhow, he seemed a little hurt at my inability to run up a three-figure break on it, and on the way back to town again regaled me with yarns of what several of his squatter friends could do on that table in the way of piling up centuries.

We parted good friends, but I don't think he thought quite so much of my billiard-playing then as he had done at first. He was pained, perhaps, to find that it had limitations, and that a three-feet-by-six table was one of them!

[pg 580]

When "Tenderfeet" Go Hunting Bears.

"Tenderfeet," as our readers probably know, is the expressive term applied out West to new-comers, or greenhorns. When such men meet Bruin, or Bruin meets them, there is apt to be trouble sometimes ending in tragedy, sometimes in the broadest comedy. The instances here given belong to the latter category, and will be found extremely amusing.


By Ernest Law.


IT was June, 1906, and I was working at a small portable sawmill near Armstrong, British Columbia. George (the boss), Frank, "Texas," Jim, and myself made the entire crew. "Texas" was so called because of his frequent references to the State of his birth. For myself, being English, I was dubbed "Charlie," though it wasn't my proper name.

We had rigged up a fairly decent shack, and, with Jim at the head of the culinary department, managed to make ourselves pretty comfortable. The country round was well settled and we were only about six miles from Armstrong, a rapidly-growing town. There was plenty of bush-land about, however, some of it very rough, and deer, coyotes, and cougars were frequently seen, but seldom a bear.

On the evening I am writing about Frank had ridden into town directly after supper to "have a good time," as he expressed it, and we didn't expect him back till early morning. The rest of us were sitting around telling yarns. "Texas" was giving us something extra fine concerning his good work with a gun. He could usually hold his own at story-telling, could "Texas," but Jim, in particular, always openly doubted him. On this occasion he related how he had once bagged a doe and two fawns with a single shot. Jim guffawed incredulously, and was rewarded with a look of mild reproach.

"Any o' you fellers seen them bear tracks t'other side the creek?" asked George, suddenly.

No one had.

"When did you strike them, George?" asked "Texas."

"Just this morning, when I was waterin' the cayuse. They looked kind of fresh, too."

Now, George was a quiet sort of fellow, but I fancy he knew as much about hunting as the rest of us put together, and wasn't taking much notice of the boasting.

"What do you say to a hunt, Jim?" I ventured.

"No, sir; not me," replied Jim, hastily. "I ain't lost no bear."

"You're not scared of a brown bear, surely, Jim?" observed the Texan, with a grin.

"Well," said Jim, "if there were three bears I'd maybe look around and have a plug at them, but I don't waste no shell on just one ornery bear."

"No, I guess not," said "Texas," dryly.

"D'you ever see a live bear?" pursued Jim, offensively.

"Well, I guess I've shot more bear than you've ever seen, Jim," retorted the American.

"Maybe you'll hunt this one for us, then," suggested Jim, sarcastically. "We're all dead scared to sleep here."

"If I run across him at all, I guess there'll be a dead bear around mighty quick," replied "Texas."

Jim was silent for a moment, then he looked up quickly, struck by a sudden idea. "Say, Texas," he cried, "s'pose the bear comes around here, will you take a shot at him?"

[pg 581]

"You betcher life!" snapped "Texas."

Thereupon Jim rose, with a look of determination on his face, and proceeded to set fire to a few sticks. Next, going indoors, he brought out some sugar, which he threw on the blaze. I had heard somewhere that the smell of burnt sugar attracted bears from a long distance, and began to understand what he was about.

Meanwhile, "Texas" looked on cynically, suggesting that if Jim were to whistle it would have just as much effect. But Jim only said, "You wait a bit."

Well, we waited a bit, discussing the approaching festivities in town on the 1st of July (Dominion Day) until the others, I think, had forgotten all about the bear. About nine o'clock we turned in. We had bunks fixed up at the end of the shack farthest from the door—three in a row a little way above the floor, and two more above them. The table stood right in the centre of the room, and the stove in a corner by the door.

About eleven o'clock I woke with a start, aroused by an unholy racket outside. My first thought was that the bear had arrived, but soon I distinguished the husky tones of Frank, expostulating with the cayuse while he was taking his saddle off. In a few minutes he stumbled in, leaving the door wide open, and after a muttered conversation with the lantern managed to get it alight. By this time all of us were awake, and we could see that our companion had been imbibing heavily. He had brought a bottle of whisky back with him, and now, rolling it on the floor, he started to show us how they rode logs "back home."

After one or two futile attempts to balance himself on the bottle, he collapsed miserably in a heap, just as Jim flung a heavy logging-boot at him. He missed Frank, but smashed the lantern, leaving us in the dark. Frank was grunting and cursing on the floor, trying to strike the wrong end of a match.


George had just scrambled out of bed to close the door when we heard a rattling among the old cans and general débris outside the shack, and a moment later we saw in the doorway, a black blot against the dark-blue sky, the bear himself! At that critical moment Frank struck a light. When he looked up and saw the bear he let out a yell like a redskin war-whoop, and I think he got sober on the spot. Anyway, when the brute started to come inside Frank knew enough to go round the other side of the table. Thence he dodged out of the doorway and off down the road at terrific speed.

[pg 582]

Meanwhile, the bear went sniffing along on the other side to where our bunks were, while George, Jim, and I cleared out hurriedly. It was quite dark inside the hut, and we all thought "Texas" was with us. Jim was certainly scared. Once outside, he picked up an axe and went away down the road so fast that the tail of his nightshirt flew out stiff behind him. He must have flung the axe away after a while, to expedite his flight, for we found it quite a long way off in the morning.

Now, "Texas," it subsequently appeared, had slept right on till Frank gave his yell. Then he sat up, rubbed his eyes leisurely, and caught sight of the bear. Then he in turn let out a yell or two. Mr. Bear, somewhat startled, went to the other end of the hut. While he stood there, sizing up "Texas," and while "Texas" was wishing he was in mid-ocean, or on a cloud, or some place where there weren't any bears, George crept in and grabbed his rifle.

Fortunately, he kept his head and didn't fire, or "Texas" might have got hit, for it was impossible to distinguish objects plainly inside the shack. Instead of shooting, he started to throw all the small articles he could lay hands on in the direction of the snuffling and grunting, and finally the bear went out again. During the latter part of these proceedings "Texas" had been trying to tear a hole in the roof, and, standing on his bunk—one of the top ones—had been successful in ripping off a shingle or two.

Directly Bruin got clear of the shack George let drive. He must have hit him in the leg, I think, for the brute seemed to limp afterwards. I was up a tree at the time, and when the next cartridge jammed I fully expected to see George have a lively time. According to precedent the bear should have got savage on being hit and made things interesting; but he must have known better, for he just walked calmly into the bush and we lost sight of him.

When we tried to get into the shack again we found that the door wouldn't open. We hammered and yelled, while George showed his mastery of English idiom, and after a while we heard "Texas" inside moving one or two pieces of furniture away. You can imagine how sheepish he looked when we went in, but nobody said a word as we put back the table and things.

Frank was sitting outside on a pile of stove-wood, ruminating deeply. I think he had an idea he had seen an imaginary bear, for he vowed eternal teetotalism for about ten minutes on end. Jim came in last, shivering with cold, for the evenings in that part of the country are chilly for a promenade in one's nightshirt.

We all climbed into our bunks again and went to sleep, and I don't think any of us felt inclined to boast about our evening's work. George was the only one who had kept cool. But the figure "Texas" had cut, after all his boasting, was lamentable. He left us a day or two after, and none of us heard any more of him.

We followed up the bear's tracks next day, but lost them in the thick bush after a few hundred yards. I think, however, that it was "our" bear a Siwash Indian shot a little while afterwards about half a mile off. This tale has now been improved beyond recognition in the neighbourhood, but mine is the correct version.


By A. Wright.

In Chatham Straits, Alaska, only a stone's throw from the mainland, there is a little island called Kilasnoo. It boasts of a tiny Indian village named after the island, and a factory where they turn out fish-oil. At a little wharf belonging to the factory, in the summer of 1895, lay the United States survey steamer Patterson, on board which Charles Henderson, a native of Gefle, Sweden, and myself were able seamen. We were fast friends, and had agreed to be sporting companions whenever we got the opportunity. Up to the present time we had never done any hunting, although we owned two guns. The only things we had shot at so far were condensed milk cans, which we threw into the water and fired at from behind a bush, at a distance of about fifty feet. I regret to add that we never hit one. It was our first year up there, and so far we had had no chance of showing what we could do against big game, but the chance came along rather sooner than we expected.

One Saturday afternoon, seated in a canoe, Henderson and I paddled off to the opposite shore. Landing just above a large inlet called Hood's Bay, we hauled our canoe up into the edge of the wood, and then, taking our fishing-tackle and guns, we started off along a trail which brought us, after a three-mile tramp through the wood, to the shores of a lake where we intended to fish for trout. Although we had brought our guns, we knew that no game had been seen around there for years—at least, so the Indians told us. We carried our guns, therefore, [pg 583] but there was no likelihood of them being required, and I believe in our hearts we were both glad of it—I know I was, at any rate.

Presently, tramping steadily through the woods, we arrived at a clearing or flat at the head of the lake, where, for a space of about twenty yards, from the edge of the forest to the water, the ground was bare, save for a solitary dead tree in the middle. We were crossing this barren stretch when, all of a sudden, a sight met our gaze which brought us to a standstill. There, coming round the corner of the clearing, was a bear! I had seen one before at a zoo, and knew at once what it was, only this bear looked about three times as big as the beast at the zoo.

From a Photograph.

I will not speak for Henderson, but if I could have moved just then I should have taken a header into the lake. When we got our breath after the first shock of surprise, my companion shouted excitedly, "Shoot! Shoot!" He yelled so loud that the bear stopped in surprise, had a good, comfortable look at us, gave what sounded like a grunt of disgust, and then turned tail and quietly trotted off along the trail in the direction we had come from. Directly he had disappeared we unslung our guns and consoled each other by declaring that the reason we had not fired at the bear was not because we were scared, but because we were fascinated by our first sight of a real wild bear. Nevertheless, it was remarkable how quickly and with what touching unanimity we climbed up that dead tree in the middle of the flat, in case Bruin should take it into his head to return. Seated in its branches we at least felt more comfortable, until Henderson suddenly remembered that bears could also climb. To make matters worse for us, it was now getting late in the afternoon, and the sun had already dipped behind the mountains. The thought of sitting up in that tree all night was no joke; but, still, we considered it better than going back through the woods, with thick undergrowth on both sides of the trail, in which countless bears could lie in wait for us.

Presently Henderson suggested lighting a fire.

"All right," I replied. "You get down and collect the sticks; I'll keep watch up here."

But this brilliant suggestion found no favour with my companion.

"No," he said; "let's toss for it." So we did, and I won. Henderson got down—not so quickly as he got up, however—and began to look round for sticks, circling warily round and round the tree at arm's length. He did this two or three times, and then suddenly he shouted out loudly, "There are no sticks down here." The yell so scared me that I lost my balance and toppled down off my perch, landing with a crash on the ground. When I picked myself up, fortunately unhurt, Henderson was half-way up the tree, and I soon followed suit. Neither of us had the pluck to descend again, so all night we sat perched up in the tree, afraid to sleep lest we should fall, and shaking with cold, fear, and hunger. The night was terribly dark, and the stillness all around us was something that could almost be felt. The man who says he never knew fear when spending his first night in the primeval forest can have no respect for the truth. It is not excitement or nervousness, but absolute fear of the unknown, and I know it from experience, for Henderson and myself killed many a bear and spent many a night in the forest after that first one. But we never experienced the same sensation again.

When daylight arrived we clambered stiffly down from our perch, crouching in a hollow at the foot of the tree, and held a consultation. We finally decided to wait until the sun was well up above the trees before making a move, as otherwise we might lose the trail.

We had sat there chatting and smoking for about half an hour, when suddenly I heard the sound of breaking twigs. It sounded rather faint at first, but gradually got louder. "The bear!" I whispered excitedly to Henderson, and we both grabbed our guns and knelt upon a little stump ready to fire, our hearts beating like steam hammers behind our ribs.

We had not long to wait. Within a couple of seconds we saw Bruin's head between two trees, about a hundred yards in front of us: he [pg 584] was coming along at a quiet trot, with his shaggy head swaying from one side to the other. He did not look half so large as he had done the night before; perhaps it was because we were not so scared. "You cover his head and fire first," whispered Henderson.


Well, I did my best to cover his head, but speedily discovered that, though I could have covered anything the size of Ireland, I could tackle nothing smaller; I was shaking like a scarecrow in a gale. "Let him get right in front of us before we fire," said I, unwilling to confess my weakness. My companion did not answer, for just at that moment he fell off the stump on to his face and his gun went off. The report scared poor Bruin so badly that he stopped, bellowing loudly. Thereupon I fired three shots at his head, or as near as I could get to it. By this time Henderson had scrambled up in a mighty hurry, and Bruin started off at a gallop. We fired about twelve rounds at him before he disappeared into the bush, but did not go to see if he was wounded or dead, because we shrewdly suspected he had not been touched. He was moving too lively when we last saw him to have been hit—unless he dropped dead with fright at the noise we made.

When the bear had vanished we decided to let well alone and cleared out for the ship, which we reached without accident. We told no one on board of our adventure—simply said we had seen a bear's fresh tracks, and had waited all night to have a shot at it in the morning. "You're hunting mad," growled the boatswain. "Never mind," said I, sagely; "there's no sport like it."


By G. Bennett.

The Arctic Red River, a stream which has its source on the east side of the Rocky Mountains and flows in a series of rapids and treacherous falls into the Mackenzie, has tempted many a band of adventurous spirits to brave its difficulties in the hope of finding that elusive "mother-lode" which every miner is convinced exists to supply the rich alluvial deposits that have made the fame of the Klondike fields.

A little band of three had struggled about two hundred miles up the stream in the face of apparently insurmountable difficulties, having to [pg 585] unload their boat and "portage" the whole of their year's provisions over rocky, precipitous banks, which were often densely wooded, or tow her up rapids, under the fierce Canadian sun, when the strain on the rope must not be relaxed for a single moment lest the bows of the boat should be wrenched round by the current and the towers jerked backwards into the boiling waters.

They camped at last on a part of the bank that was low and grassy and clear of the eternal spruce trees for a short distance. Here they built a rough shack, laid up the boat, and took a spell of prospecting. Into their camp on the second day limped a tattered, woe-begone, helpless-looking individual, a Swede, who explained in broken English, almost on the verge of tears, that he and his friends, seeing the business-like way in which the others had prepared to meet the difficulties of the river, had come to the conclusion that they were old hands, and followed at a safe distance, hoping to be able to keep modestly in the background till those in front had made a find, and then, as the Yankee of the party put it, they were ready to "whirl in and get the pickings of a right soft job." However, they had been forced to come into undue prominence because their boat had become hopelessly jammed between two rocks in a rapid and they could not move her without help. He ended his tale of woe and stood looking from one to the other of the three disgusted men who faced him.

"Well, of all the derndest cheek!" said the Yankee. "To explain so nicely how they planned to jump us, and then expect help so's they can do it!"

"We must sho'ly lend a ha-and," drawled the Southerner.

"Oh, yes," said the Englishman, the youngest of the party. "Of course we must help the poor beggars."

It was arranged at last that Bantling and Fox, the two Americans, should go to the rescue, while Rogers, the Englishman, kept camp.

They had dinner, and then, with the Swede as guide, started off down the river bank to the rapids.

Left alone, Rogers washed up the dinner-things, put up some grub, got his blanket and a rifle, and set off into the scrub. The day before, when getting wood, he had come upon the track of a moose, and was determined to try for a shot at him, picturing to himself the delight of the other two when they returned, to find a store of fresh meat. He followed the trail through a thicket of ground alder and willow, stumbling into muskegs and bursting through tangled undergrowth. It was frightfully hot, for this was the Canadian summer, and when he at last reached a small clearing, through which ran a little stream from a "sienega" or small lake higher up, he thankfully camped there for the night.

The next morning, having had some breakfast, he found the trail of the moose clear and straight before him, and decided to return to the shack for more food before setting out on a hunt that might last days. So, leaving his blanket and rifle behind, he set out. It was much easier going back, as he had forced a fairly clear path and knew the way. He was surprised how quickly he found himself once more at the edge of the clearing round the camp, and was just about to cross the open to the shack, when a curious, exasperated, whining growl made him draw quickly back into the shadow of the trees, wishing, too late, that he had brought his rifle with him. At the foot of one of the slim pines upon which they had built the platform for their "cache" stood an immense "cinnamon" bear, nearly as large as a fair-sized bull, stretching his enormous fore-legs as far as possible above his head in a vain endeavour to reach the dainties he could smell above him. But though he could reach twelve good feet, the "cache" was up fifteen, and the trees that supported it were young and slim, so that, when he tried to get a grip to climb, his fore-paws overlapped; and no bear can climb a tree unless it is bigger than the circle of his arm, so that he can grip it with his claws.

If he had not been in such an awkward predicament, Rogers would have been immensely tickled at the antics of the big brown beast. He stretched himself upon tip-toe in his efforts to reach the platform, giving little jumps, for all the world like a small boy in a jam cupboard. Then he backed slowly away, staring at the unattainable with grunts and whines, shaking his great heavy head from side to side.

Next he squatted on his haunches, as if thinking deeply; then made a sudden rush at one of the trees and, clasping it, shook it viciously, but finding that of no avail lost his temper completely, and gave it an angry slap with his heavy paw, tearing off a great strip of bark.

Then he turned his back as if disgusted and, ambling to a sasketoon bush, took the branches between his paws and pulled off the berries, which are like bilberries, with his mouth, as daintily as a girl eating raspberries.

But the stores upon the platform drew him once more. He tried each tree in turn for a grip, scoring great grooves with his claws, and rocking stiffly on all four feet in sullen anger at his failure. Finally he started on a reconnoitring tour round the "cache," which brought him [pg 586] near the tree behind which Rogers crouched, weaponless save for a pocket-knife.

To the man's horror the bear stood suddenly still, and, throwing up his head, sniffed suspiciously, looking round him meanwhile. Then, with a curious twitch, he tilted the end of his great nose up and back, thus lifting the upper lip clear of the great white fangs—an unpleasant and terrifying trick he shares in common with the "huskie" dog.

The perspiration streamed from every pore of the man behind the tree, and with some vague idea of selling his life as dearly as possible he was beginning to fumble stealthily for his pocket-knife, when, to his inexpressible relief, the bear swung round in his tracks and trotted back to the "cache."


Here he found an empty beef tin, which he eagerly seized upon, tucking it securely into the crook of one arm, while he investigated inside with the other paw. Holding it between both paws, he licked the inside, his long, red tongue worming into every crevice. Before finally discarding it, he held it up before him on one paw, gravely considering it.

The effect being so ludicrously like a woman taking in the points of a new bonnet, Rogers would have found it difficult not to laugh, had not the bear at that moment ungratefully smashed the tin flat with his paw and, getting purposefully to his feet, started off once more towards Rogers's sheltering tree.

The strain was beginning to tell, and the man could have shrieked aloud for very terror. The sweat poured down his face, blinding him, and he dared not lift a hand to wipe it away for fear of making some tell-tale sound. On came the bear at a curious jog-trot, his heavy head wagging to the motion, saliva dripping from his jaws.

He came within twenty feet of the tree; then, as if deliberately playing with his victim, once more swung round and went back to the "cache." He made no more futile attempts to reach the platform, but, squatting on his haunches at the foot of one of the trees, appeared to sink into a profound meditation upon the difficulties of the situation.

There they were, the bear and the man, each crouching against a tree, each mind busily scheming how to obtain the unobtainable—the man his rifle, and the bear the stores.

Suddenly Rogers realized that he was hungry, and smiled grimly as he saw that this was another point of similarity between them; the bear was also very hungry.

The day was wearing on, and the clouds of [pg 587] mosquitoes that always come with the sunset found in Rogers a victim powerless to resist. The first cloud sounded the glad news in the shrill trumpeting buzz that has no counterpart in sound, and clouds more came hurrying gladly to the attack.

He was just beginning to think that if he did not die of bear he would of mosquito, and that on the whole the bear might be the lesser evil, when to his delight he heard, faint in the distance, the voices of the returning rescue party.

The bear heard them too, and with many grunts and backward looks at the "cache" rolled off into the scrub.

It was now perfectly safe for Rogers to cross the open to the shack, but so shaken were his nerves that he could not have left the shelter of the tree for all the gold in Canada.

He waited till he could see the figures of the returning men moving in the scrub, and then sent forth a long hail.

"Boys! Oh, boys! Come quick and bring a gun!"

A figure halted, listened, then started at a run towards him, slipping cartridges into a Winchester as he came. It was Fox, the Southerner, and as he caught sight of Rogers his natural ironical speech slipped from him.

"Why, sonny," he said, "you are sho'ly playing touchwood."

And Rogers realized with something of a shock in what a limp, nerveless manner he was clinging to that friendly pine. He straightened himself up with a shaky laugh.

"No," he said, "it's been puss-in-the-corner, with the biggest cinnamon I have ever seen. He went off there to the right when he heard you coming. For Heaven's sake, try for a shot at him."

But Fox was already off through the scrub, murmuring to himself as he hurried, "Puss in-the-corner! My sakes! An' whatever ha-ad the young fool done with his gun?"

Rogers crossed over to the shack, where he found Bantling anxious to hear the trouble, but casting a concerned and hungry eye round in search of the supper that should have been awaiting them, and was not. However, a fire of dry pine-knots was soon lit, a frying-pan put on with cold pork and beans, tea made, and they exchanged accounts of adventures as they ate.

It seemed that Fox and Bantling had been led by the Swede about two miles down the river bank, over very bad ground full of muskegs, which are patches of slimy bog and water. When they reached the scene of the catastrophe, they found three men calmly sitting round a fire they had built on the bank, smoking their pipes and staring at their boat, which they had left forlornly wedged between two rocks, not far out from the bank, without even attempting to unload her. It was a queer-looking craft, like an enormous punt, with a great square sail, heaped untidily with a mixed pile of stores without any attempt at balance. The wonder was that they had managed to get so far.

It was a typical case of incompetence expecting to succeed in a country that will only consent to accept the best that every man has to give. Men start off to venture up the unknown reaches of these Arctic rivers without the slightest knowledge of what is before them. They will vaguely announce that the only essential is "grit," and deem such things as a knowledge of carpentry and shipbuilding and a smattering of geology entirely superfluous.

Such a party were these four men, all their boasted grit taken clean out of them, by hardship, sitting down before their stranded boat, trading on the unwritten law of the wild that each man must help his brother.

Bantling and Fox set them to work unloading, which they did with much grumbling; then yoked them into the tow-lines and set them to haul, while they stood up to their waists in water levering up the boat with spruce poles. When she at last floated it was with several seams badly sprung, which meant she had to be beached and caulked.

Having seen to this, and feeling they had done enough, the two Americans started back, having been away nearly two days.

Bantling had just finished the account of their labours, and he and Rogers had had supper and been back to the other clearing to fetch the latter's blanket and rifle, when Fox strode disgustedly up to the fire.

"Get him?" he repeated scornfully, in reply to their eager inquiries. "Never got a sight of him. If you hadn't been so unmistakably scared limp, Rogers, I should think you'd been pulling my leg."

Rogers, in proof of good faith, recounted his harrowing experience once more.

"But you never left your gun behind along with your blanket?" demanded Fox.

"Well," said Rogers, hesitatingly, "you see, it was so hot, and I was only just coming back to see everything was all right and get some grub. It seemed so useless to bring it up here just to lug it back."

"An' you air supposed to know the country!" was the Southerner's comment upon these excuses, delivered in tones of deepest scorn.

For the rest of the evening, smoking round their glowing fire, the three men raked over their [pg 588] memories in search of queer experiences with which to cap the events of the day.

They turned in at last about ten o'clock. Fox and Bantling had bunks on either side of the shack beyond the stove. Rogers's was across the end, opposite them. He was just slipping into that moment of exquisite rest before sleep comes when it is positive pain to be roused, when a drawling voice said:—

"Oh, sonny, next time you go out walkin' in this little ol' country don't use rifles to prop trees with; it's quite likely to come expensive. An' don't get dreamin' of bears—if you can help it," he added, with a chuckle.

A disgusted grunt was the only answer, as Rogers dived still deeper under his blankets. "Bang!" Bantling awoke with a start and felt for his revolver, with a vague idea of Indians. "Bang!" Something fell with a crash and a rattle. "It's the stove-pipe," thought Bantling. "Bang!" And he heard the thud of a bullet entering wood.

The Yankee collected his scattered wits and lit a candle. By its light he discovered the Southerner sitting up in bed, his usually calm, lean, brown face working with excitement, blazing wildly in every direction.

Rogers had bolted from his bunk and was crouching in the farthest corner. A large flake of wood chipped from a log above him had fallen on his pillow, and lay there to show what had awakened him to the dangers of the situation. The sheet-iron stove-pipe which carried off the smoke through the roof hung limply in two, a shot having undermined the strength of the joint at the elbow, and, as Bantling was taking in all this, a tiny looking-glass that one of them had hung on the wall fell in a tinkling shower of splinters from another shot, while Fox muttered wildly:—

"Mind that bear! Don't let him get away on you. I've hit him once in the shoulder."

To be shut up in a shack fourteen feet by ten with a man afflicted by nightmare in the form of imaginary bears to be shot is not an enviable situation, and for Rogers it was an extremely dangerous one, as Fox was shooting straight at him. Bantling slipped from his bunk and, striding across the hut, seized the dreamer's wrist in a paralyzing grip. With the touch Fox's eyes, which had been wide open all the time, lost their unseeing stare. He turned a bewildered gaze from the hand on his wrist to the angry face above him.

"There was a bear," he explained, mildly. "Did I get him?"

"Get him!" said Bantling, wrathfully. "You fool! You nearly got Rogers! And look at the damage you've done!"

As the situation dawned on Fox his dismay knew no bounds.

From a Photograph.

"I'm real sorry, you fellows," he said. "I guess I've had a touch of the worst kind of nightmare. Bantling, you'd better take charge of my six-shooter."

"You bet your life!" replied Bantling, briefly, but with immense feeling, as he took possession.

"I'm real sorry," said Fox again, turning to Rogers, "to have given you such a time. It appears it isn't me who ought to tell folks not to dream about bears, and I guess it'll be as well for the health of you fellows, if not my own, that I shouldn't eat quite such a hearty meal in future just before turnin' in."

[pg 589]

The Life of a Steeplejack.

By Will Larkins.

In this impressive article, Mr. W. Larkins, the well-known steeplejack, of Bow, London, sets forth some of his most exciting experiences in the way of felling chimneys and repairing steeples—a form of "high art" which has perils peculiarly its own. The striking photographs which accompany the text lend additional realism to a straightforward narrative.


I  COME of a race of steeplejacks. My father earned his living at the business, and met his death at it, falling from a church spire at Dumbarton, in Scotland.

Strictly speaking, the work is not really and truly so extraordinarily hazardous as people seem to think—that is to say, if a man takes proper precautions. Steeple-climbing is very much like mountaineering in this respect: it is the foolhardy folk who get hurt, and those who are inexperienced or careless.

Look at myself, for instance. I have been climbing since I was seven, and am now past thirty, and I have never met with an accident. But, then, I am a life-long abstainer and non-smoker, and I take no risks that forethought is able to provide against.

Narrow escapes I have had in plenty, but they hardly count in my line of business. All dangerous trades involve risks to those following them.

A rotten coping; a puff of wind, coming up unexpectedly from nowhere in particular; a loose brick, or a piece of decayed ironwork—any one of these may easily spell death.

Then, too, there are what, for want of a better term, I may call "outside risks": outside the regular run of our hazards, that is to say. For example, I once came very near to losing my life through being attacked by a swarm of bees while repairing a tower at Culmstock, in Devonshire. I had to descend very quickly, but I returned at two o'clock in the morning and asphyxiated the lot while they were asleep. Incidentally, I secured for myself thirty pounds of very excellent honey. The insects had been there for years, having found their way into the interior through a cavity left by a scaffold-pole used in erecting the edifice.

Another nasty experience that befell me occurred so recently as October, 1908. I was engaged to fell two lofty stacks at Millwall. They were each about a hundred feet high,

and were known locally as the "leaning chimneys," being about four feet six inches out of the perpendicular.

This peculiarity made the task of cutting into their bases a somewhat ticklish one, since it was difficult to say, even approximately, when they were going to fall. Also, of course, I had to perform the work on the side to which they were inclined.

From a Photo. by F. W. Pickford.

However, the first one toppled over all right, the "groaning" of the undermined mass, as it swayed ever so slightly to its fall, giving me timely warning of what was about to happen. [pg 590] But the second one collapsed far more suddenly, with the result that the "heel" of the falling portion actually "kicked" me clean off the base that remained standing! I fell fifteen feet, turning a complete somersault and alighting on all fours. I was somewhat shaken, but quite uninjured.

The biggest job I have undertaken up till now has been the decorating and repairing of the Nelson column in Trafalgar Square. This was my Matterhorn, so to speak.

I carried out the decorations to the order of the Navy League. It was the year 1905, the centenary of the great Admiral's crowning victory and death, and it was determined to do the thing in style. Nearly forty tons of laurel were used, and the greater portion of this had to be carried aloft and fixed to the column at varying heights right up to the top.

My orders as to not damaging the memorial in any way were most stringent; no nails or spikes of any kind were to be driven into it. This meant devising an altogether new method of ascent.

I thought out many plans, but eventually decided to lash ladders to the structure by means of ropes passed round and round it. It was a ticklish, trying job, but it was accomplished without hitch or mishap of any kind.

From a Photograph.

Two sets of ladders were used, placed opposite to one another. This was necessary, as the column measures forty feet in circumference—too far to pass a rope round with ease. The most difficult part of the ascent to negotiate was the [pg 591] cornice at the top of the column. This is the heaviest projection for "throw-back" work in England, and I had to climb up and over it with my back to the ground, for all the world like a fly on a ceiling.

From a Copyright Photo.
by The Sport and General Illustrations Co.

I am not ashamed to confess that I breathed more freely when I had rounded the obstruction, and was able to cautiously slide myself on to the platform which supports the statue. From below this appears flat, but it is really bevelled, with a sharp slope outwards. I found it, too, covered with an inch-thick layer of greasy soot; so that [pg 592] to walk about on it was exceedingly risky. However, once I got the life-line secured to the statue all was plain sailing.

I discovered a crack in the hero's arm, which I afterwards repaired. When I tell people this they not infrequently ask, on the spur of the moment, "Which arm?" Of course, the figure has only one.

By the way, I have read many accounts of the statue, professing to give its size and dimensions, and they are nearly all wrong. The exact measurements, as taken by my assistant, and afterwards carefully verified by myself, are as follows.

The figure itself is seventeen feet four and a half inches in height, and it measures five feet three inches across the shoulders. The sword which hangs by its side is seven feet nine and a half inches long.

Besides repairing the statue I also re-pointed the column from top to bottom. It is a splendidly-executed piece of work, solid granite throughout, and should have lasted for centuries, but the authorities have allowed an underground railway station to be excavated right at its base, and this must undoubtedly have weakened the foundations. I do not wish to pose as an alarmist, but I should not be greatly surprised if, owing to this cause, the memorial suddenly collapsed some day, like the Campanile at Venice.

Speaking of statues, I had the task of repairing that of the first Duke of Sutherland. It stands out in my memory as the very coldest and most uncomfortable piece of work I ever undertook. The memorial is situated on top of Ben Bhragie, a mountain more than twelve hundred feet high, near Golspie, Sutherlandshire. The figure is of colossal size—thirty-three feet six inches from heel to head—and the pedestal on which it stands measures ninety feet from base to summit.

From a Copyright Photo.
by Gale & Polden, Ltd.

The time was mid-winter; there was five feet of snow on the mountain, and gale followed gale with irritating persistency. Ladders and gear froze solid during the night, so that it became necessary in the morning for me to chop my way to the top through the ice that had accumulated [pg 593] meanwhile. The ascent and descent of the mountain, too, proved so long and arduous that I could only put in about two hours' work in a day. Altogether, I was not sorry when the job was completed.

From a Copyright Photo.
by The Sport and General Illustrations Co.

Personally, I consider there is more risk in felling chimneys and such-like structures than in climbing them; that is to say, when they are felled in "my" way. The old-fashioned method was to undermine the base and prop it up with timber. This was then saturated with a mixture of oil and tar and set on fire. When it burnt through, down came the chimney.

The other way, which I may truthfully lay claim to have invented, is to cut away the bricks without under-pinning, keeping a sharp look-out aloft meanwhile. Sometimes I stand a small, straight twig upright in the gash. When this bends ever so little it is a sign to me that the thousand tons or so of masonry above me is inclining away from the perpendicular, and that its collapse is imminent.

One has to be very careful and very agile. I remember felling a shaft at Summerstown, near Tooting. It was brick-built and circular, a hundred and forty feet high, and weighed about eight hundred tons. Experience has taught me that this kind of chimney can usually be cut about halfway through at the base before it shows signs of giving way.

On this occasion, however, the collapse came when I was barely a third of the way through, and with scarcely any warning. I leapt aside, but the descending stack grazed my scalp as I slipped from under. I was able to realize then something of the feelings of Marmion when he galloped out of Tantallon Castle across the rising drawbridge, and felt the falling portcullis bars "raze his plume."

There were probably not far short of a thousand people present, and in the silence that followed the fall of the stack they sent up, as with one voice, a loud cry of horror. I was completely hidden from view by the clouds of dust that always arise on these occasions, and they were quite sure I had been killed. All I lost, however, were my tools and cap and jacket, which were buried under the mass of masonry. They are there now.

It transpired afterwards that the chimney had been built too close to the banks of the Wandle River, so that its foundations had become undermined—hence its premature collapse.

One reads not infrequently of fights with [pg 594] madmen in mid-air. I used to regard these as fiction pure and simple, until such an adventure actually befell myself.

It happened at Deptford, about two years ago. I had been engaged to repair the outside of the top of the shaft at the waterworks there. The fires were not drawn, and the heated fumes and smoke that were continually being belched from the mouth of the chimney made the job a far from pleasant one, especially as the day happened to be exceptionally warm, with scarcely a breath of air stirring.

Still, a "jack" takes but little notice of these things, and I and my two assistants worked steadily on for some hours. I was just thinking of giving the word to knock off for dinner, when the man nearest me suddenly stopped of his own accord, threw down his tools, straightened himself up on the coping, facing inwards, and clasped his hands above his head, like a man about to take a dive—which was, in point of fact, precisely what he was going to do. Only, it was not into water that he intended plunging, but straight down the reeking chimney, to be presently incinerated by the flaming furnaces far below!

I think the two of us that were left divined his intention at the same moment. "Quick! Grab him!" I cried, and we both dashed at him. Only just in time, for his head and shoulders were disappearing within the mouth of the shaft as we clutched him by the legs. It was a wonder that he did not drag us down with him, for he struggled fiercely. But it was two to one, and eventually we overpowered him and hauled him out on the coping.

There he lay, limp and gasping, half choked with the fumes, while we bound him hand and foot with a ladder-rope. Then, with assistance, we managed to lower him to the ground. The doctors said that the heat of the sun had temporarily affected his brain.

Another nasty turn I had was while I was engaged in repairing the steeple of a church in Wiltshire. I was sitting in a cradle under a coping, while my man was standing on the projection immediately above my head. He leaned over to ask me a question, lost his balance, and the next thing I knew was that his body was hurtling downwards past me through the empty air. I nearly followed him, so sick and unnerved was I at the sight.

From a Copyright Photo.
by The Sport and General Illustrations Co.

This may sound strange, but I think any man who has done much climbing, whether on mountains or on steeples and other high artificial erections, will bear me out when I say that to [pg 595-8] witness an accident of this kind, and to know oneself impotent either to prevent or assist, is one of the most terrifying experiences that it is possible to conceive. Whymper has left it on record how, when during his most memorable ascent Lord Frederick Douglas and his friend fell to their deaths, he was so utterly unnerved for the time being that he could only cling to the face of the precipice, trembling and crying, unable to move a step one way or the other.

From a Copyright Photo.
by The Sport and General Illustrations Co.

From a Copyright Photo.
by Gale & Polden, Ltd.

Luckily the end of my little adventure partook rather of the nature of comedy than tragedy. When I mustered up courage to look down, I saw my mate sitting on the corrugated iron roof of a building far below, vigorously rubbing that portion of his anatomy upon which schoolboys are popularly supposed to be birched.

He had fallen squarely upon it, and the resilient roof, acting like a spring mattress, had broken his fall, bouncing him up and down some half-a-dozen times with continually decreasing momentum until at last he came to rest. He was much bruised and shaken, but no bones were broken, and after a few days' rest was as fit as a fiddle again.

Most jobs a steeplejack has to undertake are hard ones; hard, that is to say, from the point of view of manual labour. Occasionally, however, one drops across one that is ridiculously easy.

For example, I was called to Truro because the vane on top of the steeple of its famous cathedral refused to work. Residents were making obvious jokes about its being a weatherhen, and not a weathercock at all, because it "sat so tight."

I travelled three hundred miles on the level, and then climbed four hundred feet into the air, with visions of displaced masonry and fractured ironwork before my eyes, only to find that the socket in which the vane worked was badly in need of oiling. I rather think that that is a record in big efforts for little objects. Three hundred miles by rail, four hundred feet by ladder—and all to grease a weathercock!

This, by the way, was the highest steeple I ever climbed, also the most southerly, except the French Cathedral, Jersey. The most northerly was that which surmounts Dornoch Cathedral. This is Mr. Andrew Carnegie's regular place of worship, and quite close to his residence, Skibo Castle.

From a Photograph.

[pg 599]

From a Copyright Photo.
by The Sport and General Illustrations Co.

"I suppose," I remarked to some of the local residents, "that Mr. Carnegie is pretty generous round here?"

"No," they replied; "he has made it a rule not to give anything to any charity that is situated within twenty miles of Skibo."

At the time I thought this was hard, not to say foolish. On further reflection, however, I can see he is wise; he does not want his demesne to become a magnet, drawing hospitals, almshouses, and what not to its immediate vicinity from the uttermost ends of the earth.

When I am given a job, I usually keep quiet about it beforehand. It is no use attracting a crowd, and that is precisely what happens if the news gets spread abroad. The work of a steeplejack seems to exercise a quite extraordinary fascination over all sorts and conditions of men.

Thus, at Aldershot recently, some twenty thousand people assembled to see me throw two chimneys. They flocked to the scene from the surrounding neighbourhood, and Aldershot itself made high holiday of the occasion, most of the big works being closed.

The authorities kept the ground clear, although I must say that the crowd showed no disposition to invade the immediate proximity of the stacks, when once we had got fairly to work on them. Even the dwelling-houses within a possible radius of the falling masses were deserted, and one family erected a tent in a neighbouring field and camped out in it until all danger was at an end.

They need not have been scared, however, for the stacks fell exactly upon the lines I had chalked out for them. Outsiders can rarely be made to understand how comparatively simple it is for a steeplejack who knows his business to make a chimney fall precisely where he wills it to.

In many instances exactitude in this matter is the first essential. In the case of the great Par stack, in Cornwall, for example, I was under forfeit of two hundred pounds not to deviate more than a yard either way from the space marked out for it, which was only a foot or two wider than its own diameter.

This insistence was quite reasonable, for the chimney was surrounded with cottages, and stood close alongside the main line of railway. [pg 600] Officials and populace were alike alarmed, and the former begged of me to desist. When I declined, they held up the traffic as a measure of precaution until I had completed the job. As a matter of fact, not even a window in the cottages was broken nor a shilling's-worth of damage done to the railway line.

People are always asking me to take them with me to the tops of shafts and steeples. Usually I decline, but I have to make exceptions. I have piloted some scores of clergymen to the summits of the steeples of their own churches; and once I escorted the reverend incumbent's daughter, a sprightly girl of eighteen. I was rather nervous about it, but I need not have been. She was the steadiest and coolest climber, for an amateur, that I ever had any dealings with.

I cannot end this article without speaking about what I always call "my most romantic climb." This was at Athenry, in County Galway. A steeple had been struck by lightning and knocked out of the perpendicular. After this it had been taken down—an easy job—but nobody could be found who could put it up again. When several other steeplejacks had failed I was sent for as a forlorn hope, and succeeded. The romance of the climb, however, lies not in this feat, but in the fact that it was from the spire, after its replacement, that I first caught sight of the young lady who is now my wife.

From a Photo. by H. Allison & Co.

[pg 601]


By Vincent M. Hemming.

Being the strange experience of Detective Albert Brissard, who searched France, England, Belgium, and America for a "wanted" man, finally landing his quarry by accident ten months after the search began and seven and a half years after the crime was committed.


NEVER in the annals of police history has a detective officer been so long engaged in the search for a fugitive from justice as in the case I am about to relate. There have been and are many men "wanted" for whom warrants are held indefinitely, but never before has an officer spent ten entire months with but one aim—to "get his man," and that after an interregnum of more than seven years. On June 3rd, 1900, the Baroness de Martigny, of Paris, took into her employment as footman an intelligent, good-looking young man, who had previously been in the service of General Pellissier, of the French army. The Baroness, the grand-daughter of a famous soldier who had been one of Napoleon's closest friends, lived in a beautiful hotel in the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, and also occupied a villa for the season each year at Nice. Her collection of jewels was the envy of the ladies of the French aristocracy, and she had times without number been offered enormous sums for them by dealers and collectors. Many of the ornaments had once belonged to the Queens of France, and one pearl necklace was even said to have at one time adorned the person of an Egyptian princess famous in history. These jewels were always kept in a leather-covered steel box, made expressly for the purpose. When not deposited at her bankers', this box was in the keeping of a trusted maid, who was in turn guarded by a "valet de pied" at times when the Baroness might have occasion to take her jewels with her when travelling.

In December, 1900, the Baroness, accompanied by two maids and the valet engaged some months before, was to travel to London for a few days' stay in the capital on a visit to friends. She seldom carried all her jewels with her, but on this occasion she did so, as an august personage had expressed a desire to see them. Two servants of the bank, under the eye of a sub-manager, had delivered the morocco-covered box to the Baroness in person, and she in turn gave it over to her maid, Marcelle.

All the luggage had gone on ahead, and the brougham was at the door to take the Baroness to the Gare St. Lazare Station, when the maid, Marcelle, came running into the lady's presence and attempted to speak. Her tongue refused to move, however, and there the girl stood, her eyes almost out of her head, shivering from head to foot. When at last she gained control of herself she stammered, "Madame—the jewel-case—it is gone!"

The Baroness tried to get the girl into a rational frame of mind, saying the box could not have been removed from the house; Marcelle must have placed it somewhere else than in its accustomed place. No; the girl was positive she had put the treasure-box on milady's dressing-table just for a moment while she had gone for her hat and coat. When she returned the case was gone!

Orders were at once given to lock the doors, and all the servants were called together and questioned, but no one knew anything at all about the matter. Had anyone entered the house? Had anyone left it? Only Henri, milady's valet. He was at the door with the brougham. "Let him be called," ordered the Baroness. One of the servants went to the door. The brougham was there, as was also the coachman, but Henri was nowhere to be seen.

"Henri has gone to the station," said the coachman. "Yes, he had a leather bag or box with him." This information was duly transmitted to the Baroness.

"Very unusual for him to do such a thing," she commented; "but perhaps he was anxious about the jewels."

Thereupon the trustful lady sent them all about their business, got into her brougham, and was driven to the station. But where was Henri? Well, to cut a long story short, Henri had not gone to the station, and the noble lady, now disillusioned, at once postponed her London journey, and set the machinery of the law in motion to discover the young man who had ten thousand pounds' worth of jewels and five hundred pounds in cash in his possession. No sooner were the police notified than the criminal quarters of Paris were literally "turned inside out." The Baroness de Martigny was not only a lady of great prominence and influence, but she offered enormous rewards for the recovery of her property. The intrinsic value of the jewels was a secondary consideration, their romantic associations and the fact of their having been family heirlooms making [pg 602] them priceless in the lady's eyes. Every possible loophole of escape was watched, and Herculean efforts were made by the police; but for the moment the thief had made good his escape, leaving no clue behind him, and three long weeks elapsed before anything tangible manifested itself. Then, one morning the bell rang at the Baroness's house in the Bois de Boulogne, and a gentleman presented himself, asking that his card should be taken to the Baroness. It read, "Monsieur Albert Brissard—Agent." The caller was asked to state his business, and answered by saying, simply, "Henri Dessaure." This gained him the desired audience, and half an hour later M. Brissard left the house, having induced the loser of the steel box and its precious contents to place the whole matter unreservedly in his hands.


M. Brissard, who was known among his intimates as "The Ferret," had left the French detective service some time previously and started an inquiry agency of his own. In starting work upon this jewel-case he followed the idea usually worked on by detectives in such cases, at least on the Continent—"Look for the woman," and succeeded where several other officers, working on the case officially, had hitherto failed. He found the woman.

In the Rue de Mesrominil there was a little brasserie, or public-house, much frequented by servants of the upper class. This place was owned by a man named Edouard Morant, whose daughter, a girl of eighteen, had been the sweetheart of Henri Dessaure, the absconding footman. This girl, learning that Dessaure had been false to her, made it her business to find out who had supplanted her in the affections of her sweetheart, and discovered that Dessaure had been seen very often in the company of a dancing-girl from the Bal Boullier, and also that this girl had left Paris only a few days ago, having purchased a second-class ticket to New York. She further ascertained that the girl had been somewhat in debt, but that shortly before leaving she had discharged her obligations, and also purchased a large amount of clothes and finery. All this the jealous Mlle. Morant told M. Brissard. It was now Saturday, and the dancing-girl had sailed for America on Wednesday. M. Brissard at once communicated with the American police, and when the French Line steamer La Touraine arrived at New York a certain young lady, a second-cabin passenger, was closely followed when she left the ship. No one was at the docks to meet her, but after her luggage had passed the Customs inspection she engaged an express wagon to convey her trunks and bags to an address in First Avenue, near Twelfth Street, giving the address to the driver from a card on which it had been written, no doubt for her guidance. One detective followed the luggage, while a second kept his eye on the girl. Calling a cab, she again showed the card [pg 603] and was driven off, followed by Officer O'Brien, whose colleague, Kernohan, remained with the express wagon. Arrived at her destination, the girl, looking up to make sure of the number, ascended the stairs of a four-storey brick building, the ground floor of which was occupied by a small French restaurant. The cab waited, and shortly a young man came down, who proceeded to pay the driver. The young man exactly answered the description sent over from Paris of the missing Henri Dessaure!

After paying the cab fare he returned into the house, while Officer O'Brien called a policeman and instructed him to telephone to head-quarters. So it happened that just about the time Detective Kernohan appeared with the express-man, a third detective arrived on the scene with a provisional warrant, granted by the magistrate at Jefferson Market police-court, for the arrest of Dessaure on suspicion of being a fugitive from justice.

The express-man proceeded to unload his wagon, having first rung the door-bell, and once again the young man who bore so striking a resemblance to the Baroness de Martigny's late valet came to the door. This time he was confronted by two officers, who promptly informed him that he was under arrest.

"We believe you to be Henri Dessaure, late of Paris," said Detective O'Brien.

The accused turned pale, then, pulling himself together, answered in French (in which tongue the detective had addressed him), "That is my name. It is no use my trying to deny it. Surely you have something to work upon, or you would not be here."

The officers next searched the rooms occupied by Dessaure, but found only some fifteen hundred dollars in American money and a few French franc pieces.

"Come," said Officer Kernohan, "you may as well give up the jewellery. It will save you much unpleasantness."

"I know of no jewellery," replied Dessaure. "I have come to America to be married; I have done no wrong."

Seeing that the man could not be induced to speak he was taken to police head-quarters, and the next morning, having been formally charged with being "wanted" by the French authorities, he was remanded and the French police notified. Ten days later two detectives from Paris arrived with a servant from the household of the Baroness for the purpose of identifying the prisoner. This accomplished, his extradition was asked for. Dessaure protested his innocence, and it is quite likely would have succeeded in resisting successfully, had not for a second time a woman proved his undoing. The detectives arrested the dancing-girl as an accomplice, and she at once turned informer, saying that Dessaure had told her in Paris that he had safely stored away "enough jewels to give us every comfort for life." Believing him, she had come to America, Dessaure having given her two thousand five hundred francs for that purpose, and to purchase some necessary things. Confronted with this statement, the ex-footman assumed an air of bravado, saying, "You have got me, but you'll never get what it took me many hours of thought to annex. Now let us see just how clever you are."

Dessaure returned to Paris some days later in the company of the French officers, the girl having been released. Once in the French capital, he was lodged in the Santé Prison to await his trial, and meanwhile every effort was made to get some clue as to the whereabouts of the steel box and its contents; but the police could make no impression on Dessaure, who absolutely refused to speak. Promises and threats were alike useless, and finally he was brought to trial. The newspaper notoriety given to the matter had completely turned the ex-valet's head, and he imagined himself a hero. He entered the court-room with a smiling face and answered questions in a most flippant manner. Even at this late stage the Baroness de Martigny offered to withdraw the prosecution—at least, so far as she was concerned—if he would divulge the hiding-place of the gems. But Dessaure merely folded his arms and said: "Whatever happens, you cannot kill me. You were clever enough to capture me; now find the jewels."

Evidence was given by a housemaid who had seen the footman in milady's rooms and the coachman who had noticed him leave the house with the morocco-covered box in his hand, carrying it openly by the handle as though sent out with it. It was also proved that Dessaure had changed a thousand-franc note at the little brasserie in the Rue Mesrominil on the evening of the day of the robbery; and, lastly, Detective Brissard came forward with a small antique necklet—the property of the Baroness—which Dessaure had given to the daughter of the brasserie keeper. On this evidence Dessaure was found guilty and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, the judge remarking that on his release, no doubt, such a close watch would be kept on his movements that a further charge would be made should the prisoner at any time be found in possession of the stolen jewels.

The prisoner took his sentence most coolly, and, as the officers were leading him away, turned towards the persons in the court-room and, bowing low, said, "Until then, gentlemen, au revoir!"

[pg 604]

For some months Dessaure was left to serve his sentence in peace, the detectives believing that a taste of prison life might have a salutary effect on him, or at least induce him to confess where the stolen jewels were. True, no promises could be made to him, but at the same time it certainly would not add to his sentence should he divulge the hiding-place of the Baroness de Martigny's jewels. Detective Brissard had several long talks with the convict, but they all ended in the same way, Dessaure saying, "I will serve my sentence and then enjoy what I have earned; you will not catch me a second time."

Spite of this uncompromising attitude the detective worked assiduously, doing his utmost to locate the jewels, the hiding-place of which one man alone knew. Finally, however, M. Brissard was obliged to consider the case closed, for the time being, and gave his attention to other matters.

So time went on, until Dessaure had but a few months more to serve. Then one day he wrote a letter, in which he asked the person to whom it was addressed, for old times' sake, to supply him with a new suit of clothes and other articles of wearing apparel, saying he would repay the kindness a hundredfold. This letter came back to the prison, the addressee—Mlle. Morant, daughter of the brasserie keeper—having removed several years back. This upset Dessaure greatly, and he asked and received permission to write another letter, which was addressed to the girl's father. Again the letter came back, marked as before. Dessaure's excitement was now great; he cursed and cried in turn. The warders reported that he did not sleep at night, and ate scarcely any food.

At last came the morning of his release. The liberated man left the prison almost a wreck from mental anguish. He was met at the gates by an aged aunt, who gave him a few francs and took him home with her to her house in the environs of Paris. Dessaure could not be induced to eat, and he would not sit down quietly, but walked about the small house, gazing continually out of the window. No sooner was it dark than he left the place, looked quickly about him, then hurried to the nearest point whence he could get an omnibus cityward. Mounting to the top of the vehicle, he looked about him every few moments to see if he was being followed. He left the bus at the Madeleine; then, cutting through the back streets, made his way to the Rue de Mesrominil. He walked on the right-hand side of the street until he came to the place where the brasserie of M. Morant had been located. Yes, there was still a business of the same kind there, but the place had changed hands.

Dessaure crossed the street and entered the little wine-shop, the floors above which were rented out to lodgers, as formerly. In the basement was a long room used as a dining-room for the guests of the house; behind this was a kitchen, and to the left, at the end of a short passage, a small yard which was used to store empty casks and bottles. Dessaure called for a drink and ordered some food; then, as though an old customer thoroughly familiar with the place, he deliberately went down into the basement. The cook had received Dessaure's order, and the latter stood in the doorway chatting to her. After a moment or two he slowly walked through the passage and stood in the yard whistling. The cook was busy getting his meal ready and offered no objection to his proceedings. One stealthy backward glance, and Dessaure swiftly crossed the yard. Taking a short iron bar, flattened at one end, from his pocket, he pushed it deeply into the ground exactly in the corner of the yard, next a brick wall. Again and again he did this; then, in a frenzy, he tore up the earth to a depth of two feet, but nothing rewarded his efforts. Jumping to his feet, shaking with rage, he shrieked out, "All for nothing! All for nothing!" Then, like a wild man, he rushed up the steps and out of the place, knocking over a waiter in his headlong flight.

The half-crazed man made his way to the Seine embankment, where he walked up and down, trying in vain to think calmly. When he left the Baroness de Martigny's house with the stolen jewel-case he had made direct for the brasserie in the Rue de Mesrominil, in accordance with a plan he had thought out. He hid the jewel-case as much as possible under his long servant's coat, and, after having a drink, went down into the yard described and buried the jewels with the aid of a shovel he had previously placed there in readiness. Then, covering the case over, he stamped the ground down solidly, threw some earth and stones on the spot, and returned upstairs. Dessaure, however, as transpired later, had not taken the precaution to ascertain whether anyone was watching him from the windows overlooking the yard. It was obvious to him now that someone must have seen him bury the gems, or else have discovered them subsequently. And now they were for ever lost to him! Covering his face with his hands, the heart-broken man repeated to himself the words, "All for nothing! All for nothing!" Suddenly he pulled himself together, and, walking toward the embankment balustrade, stood there for a moment gazing hesitatingly into the [pg 605] waters of the Seine. Then a hand was placed on his shoulder, and a voice said:—

"Don't do it, Dessaure! Life is all too short in any case."

The startled man wheeled round, to behold Detective Brissard at his elbow! Dessaure was about to speak, when the officer anticipated him.

"I have watched you ever since your release this morning," he said. "Come, don't be a fool. We will go to my place and have a talk."

Dessaure, unnerved by the loss of the jewels, for the sake of which he had served those long years of imprisonment, was as a child in the hands of the shrewd Brissard, and very soon the two men were talking the matter over in Brissard's rooms. Dessaure now told the entire story of how he had stolen the jewels, and the detective in turn informed him that the large reward offered for their recovery was still open, and that, if Dessaure cared to assist him, they might yet obtain possession of them and return them to their owner. The ex-valet, eager to obtain revenge against the unknown who had annexed "his" property, readily agreed. So the curious situation arose of "setting a thief to catch a thief."

Next morning Detective Brissard made diligent inquiries as to the movements of the Morant family, and these inquiries led to what developed into the longest chase on record. Just one year after Dessaure's conviction, it appeared, the former wine-shop proprietor had sold his business in the Rue de Mesrominil and removed with his wife and daughter to London, where he opened a restaurant in Greek Street, Soho, but, curiously enough, under another name. He had been in business there for some months, when one day a former customer at the Paris wine-shop entered and recognised M. "Martin," the proprietor, as Morant. He thought nothing of this, as people often change their names for business purposes when in other countries. But what did strike the customer was the fact that Mme. "Martin" was wearing a pair of earrings of very great value. Now where did Morant, who had owned only a third-class wine-shop in Paris, get possession of jewels worth at least several thousand pounds—for madame wore also several costly rings and a brooch? The customer jocularly remarked that M. "Martin" must have "backed a winner." The latter, instead on answering in like manner, turned pale, and gruffly told his former patron to mind his own business. Within three days the little restaurant in Greek Street had changed hands, and the "Martin" family disappeared.


All this Detective Brissard learnt by judicious inquiries in Soho, London. Then the search for M. Morant began in real earnest. Dessaure made friends with many of the French people in this part of London, ever seeking information. The owner of the restaurant formerly run by "Martin" was not the man who had purchased the place from him. His predecessor, however, was, and could be found at an address in Brussels. To this city Detective Brissard now went, leaving Dessaure in London. Yes; the Belgian knew where M. "Martin" had gone, for a trunk was left behind which he had sent to a house in Houston Street, New York City, U.S.A. Also, the daughter of M. "Martin" was living, he believed, in Brussels, she having married a travelling jeweller.

Brissard cabled to America, and received an answer from the American police to the effect that the address given was the office of a transfer company, and they were looking over the books to see what disposal had been made of [pg 606] the trunk. Brissard next began a search for the former Mlle. Morant in Brussels. As, however, there were some hundreds of jewellers in that city, this was no small undertaking. Successful detectives often admit that "luck" is a potent factor in their work, and the French detective now experienced a little good fortune. The various cities prominent as diamond markets are possessed of clubs at which congregate buyers and sellers of precious stones, and which also serve the purpose of a market where the members do business among themselves. With the assistance of a Belgian official, Brissard was introduced into such a club in Brussels, and here he learnt that a young Belgian—not a member, but a good judge of stones—had married a French girl named Martin. The fact was remembered because the young man had, shortly after his marriage, become possessed of several uncommonly valuable emeralds and diamonds. This man's address was given to M. Brissard, who at once called there—first, however, changing his appearance as a measure of precaution.

The jeweller was not at home, he learnt; he was in Amsterdam, but was returning on the morrow. M. Brissard, posing as a brother jeweller, said he would call again. The lady of the house now came forward, and asked if there was anything she could do. One glance was enough for the detective—she was the daughter of the man Brissard was searching for! But he still was a long way from M. Morant himself, as after events proved.

Calling the next day in company with a Belgian detective officer, M. Brissard was ushered in and presently the jeweller came into the room. The detective briefly made known his business, informing the jeweller that it rested with him whether he would be arrested or not, for it was known that some of the stolen jewels had been in his keeping. Thereupon the man told a most straightforward story to the following effect.

He had been to London on business, and took his meals as usual in the locality frequented by his compatriots, dining at "Martin's." There he met his present wife, they fell in love with each other, and he was accepted as a prospective son-in-law. Being an authority on the value of precious stones, M. "Martin" confided to him that an aged sister had left him a few heirlooms, her husband having been a wealthy man. Would his future son-in-law appraise them? He had done so, greatly surprised at their value and size, and had further, shortly after his marriage, undertaken to sell several unset stones for his father-in-law. His wife was absolutely ignorant of all this, and not until that moment did he know that her real name was other than Martin.

The young woman was called and questioned, and it soon became evident that she knew nothing of her father's affairs. He had changed his name and impressed upon her that under no circumstances must she use the name of Morant, and thus she had been led to deceive even her husband. The gems given him for disposal, the jeweller added, had been sold in Amsterdam to a buyer there, a Mr. H. Van Kloof, for twenty thousand francs (eight hundred pounds). He had not heard from his father-in-law for two years, his last address being in Second Avenue, New York City. M. Brissard, convinced of the truth of this story, took his leave, after having given certain instructions to the Belgian detectives.

On his return to his hotel he found the following cablegram awaiting him: "Trunk forwarded Martin, Second Avenue; receipt signed 'Mrs. Martin.'"

Brissard now communicated with the American authorities, only to learn that no such person as Martin had resided at the number in Second Avenue in the memory of the present tenant, the place being a French boarding-house.

The detective now returned to London, where Dessaure met him, frantically excited. He had found a countryman who had seen Morant in New York, where he held the position of chef at a prominent and fashionable hotel. This was only six months ago, but the man could not remember the name of the hotel, having lost or mislaid the card Morant had given him. One thing he did remember, however—Morant was going under the name of "Melin."

M. Brissard, believing that Morant was still in New York and that he could expedite matters by going there himself, promptly took passage with Dessaure. It struck him as peculiar that a man who was in possession, or had been in possession, of what was practically a small fortune should seek employment; but the officer did not know, perhaps, that the position of chef in a large hotel is a most lucrative one. The two searchers arrived in due course in New York and rooms were taken in the French quarter of the city, both men posing as wine merchants. Dessaure, who had been in America before, took rooms in a house much frequented by cooks, while Brissard lived in a small French hotel near by. For several weeks the two worked with untiring energy, making careful inquiries. Brissard himself visited every hotel of prominence in New York and Brooklyn, inquiring there of the hotel detectives for a M. Melin, and being quietly taken into the kitchen to look over the various staffs. Not until three long months had [pg 607] passed, however, did they come upon even the semblance of a clue. Then, one evening, as M. Brissard and Dessaure were sitting at a small table in the bar-room of Brissard's hotel, there entered a young man whom the detective knew. He had at one time been a pastry-cook in the household of a French diplomat, and had been an habitué of Morant's wine-shop in Paris. Greetings were exchanged, and after some conversation Brissard casually remarked, "I wonder what became of old Morant?"

The young Frenchman looked up sharply. "It's strange that you should speak of him," he said. "Only two weeks ago he took rooms at the house where I am living. It happened that I was going out just as he came in. I greeted him, but he refused to recognise me, and, stranger still, after paying a month's rent in advance he never came near the house again."

Here, at last, was something to work on—Morant was still in New York. Brissard now began what was practically a house-to-house search, for every place patronized by foreigners was visited, the detective taking one district and Dessaure another. It was tedious work, but Morant was somewhere in New York and Brissard meant to find him, his assistant being perhaps even more eager than himself. For two more weeks the pair searched for many hours each day; but it was Dessaure who got the first tangible evidence as to Morant's whereabouts, and this was in the identical house where Dessaure had lived on his first visit to America some years before! Dessaure himself had quite forgotten this, and when the ring of the bell was answered by a maid, he politely asked if "M. Melin" was living there.

"No one of that name is known here," was the answer. Dessaure, as usual, then produced a photograph of Morant.

"Ah," said the girl; "that is M. Martin, who has been here some four weeks. He and madame left only yesterday. They are returning to France."

Dessaure at once looked up Brissard and told him of his discovery. Together they returned to the house, and Brissard succeeded in gaining admittance to the rooms only just vacated by the Morants, where every scrap of paper in the rooms and wardrobe was carefully collected. Brissard had an interview with the proprietor of the place, and then hurried to police headquarters, from where men were sent to the different steamship offices to look over the bookings. The French authorities were notified, and the ships which had sailed the day before and on that day were communicated with by wireless telegraphy.

Meanwhile, Brissard had found the expressman who had removed Morant's belongings, taking them to the docks of the French line of steamers labelled for the ship sailing on the following day. This was getting close. With the assistance of the American police it was now ascertained that the luggage and its owners were booked under the name of "Martin," and a man was detailed to watch the trunks in case M. "Martin" changed his mind about sailing. Next morning, M. Brissard, Dessaure, and two American detectives, armed with a provisional warrant, awaited the appearance of the much-wanted man. The ship was to sail at noon, and shortly after ten a well-dressed woman walked slowly into the receiving dock and inquired the way to that portion of the pier where was located the letter "M" (all luggage being collected under the initial of its owner). She was directed some distance ahead, and, arriving at the location, inspected some of the luggage.

Evidently satisfied that everything belonging to her was there, she slowly walked away and out of the dock, apparently not caring to board the ship so early.

Detective Brissard watched this woman closely, but not quite closely enough. It was Mme. Morant, and she had seen him and recognised him, having been sent by her husband to see if the coast seemed clear for their flight. On reaching the street she took a handkerchief from a bag hanging at her waist and passed it across her face, an action which M. Morant observed from the window of a restaurant opposite, where he was anxiously watching. Brissard, not knowing he had been recognised, or that Morant had heard of the inquiries being made about him, followed Mme. Morant to the Elevated Railway. As she had still some two hours before sailing-time the detective naturally supposed she was going to meet her husband.

Mme. Morant left the train at Forty-Second Street, and made her way to the Grand Central Railway Station. There she turned round suddenly, as if looking for someone, and the detective instinctively felt that the woman knew she was being followed. Throwing discretion to the winds, Brissard now deliberately approached, and, raising his hat, said:—

"Good morning, Mme. Morant."

The woman smiled sweetly. "I seem to know your face," she replied, "but for the life of me I cannot recall your name."

"I will assist you, madame," said the officer. "I am M. Brissard, of Paris, detective agent."

Without showing the least perturbation, Mine. Morant held out her hand. "Ah, yes," she replied. "It is so long since I have been in Paris; I had forgotten. How do you do?"

M. Brissard assured the lady he was enjoying [pg 608] the best of health, and in turn asked after madame's husband.

"Ah, poor Morant!" was the answer. "He has been dead some years; I have married again."

Brissard sympathized with her. He was extremely sorry to trouble her, he said, but a certain event in the life of the late M. Morant was being looked into by the police, and he, Brissard, was afraid that madame would have to accompany him—simply to answer a few questions. The woman kept remarkably cool, only the pallor of her face giving evidence of the emotion she was trying so hard to control.

"Certainly I will go," was her reply. "Only you must excuse me for a moment."

M. Brissard gently pointed out that this was impossible, a cab was called, and Mme. Morant was driven to police head-quarters. Now, American police methods may be somewhat strenuous, but in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they are successful. American officers brook no nonsense, treating criminals as they should be treated, and it must be admitted they seldom make mistakes. Madame was at once searched by a female attendant, and then she was asked a few questions by a detective inspector.

The "strenuous method" bore good results, for the Frenchwoman admitted that Morant was very much alive. When it came to divulging his whereabouts, however, she remained adamant. The trunks were now brought up from the docks and searched, but absolutely nothing was found in any way bearing on the missing jewels. Madame herself wore three very fine rings and a bar brooch containing two large diamonds, but all these were in modern settings, and, if they were part of the Martigny jewels, had been reset. But, careful as she and her husband had evidently been, they had not been quite careful enough, for madame was wearing a small watch encrusted with pearls, on the inside of which was inscribed, "12 Avril, 1877. C. J. de M."

This was evidence absolute, but Mme. Morant now resolutely refused to say another word, and the search for the erstwhile keeper of the little wine-shop in Paris had to be renewed. Meanwhile legal machinery was set in motion which resulted in Mme. Morant being extradited as an accessory, and shortly she was taken back to Paris in custody. Brissard and Dessaure were now assisted in their man-hunt by the authorities, and again several weeks went by uneventfully. Then M. Brissard heard from Brussels to the effect that Morant's daughter had gone to Paris to visit her mother, and also that she had paid several visits to Ostend. Following immediately on this came word to Dessaure that Morant had been seen in London and also in Ostend. Then came another piece of conclusive evidence. A man named O'Keefe, who travelled to and from Tilbury Docks in charge of cattle, was arrested in New York for creating a disturbance while under the influence of liquor. On him was found a valuable unset emerald. O'Keefe admitted stealing the jewel from a man who had worked his passage over on a cattle-boat, saying the stone had been dropped by this man. He, O'Keefe, had picked it up and kept it. He described the man, and beyond question it was Morant. Brissard and Dessaure at once crossed the Channel and looked up Dessaure's informant in London. The latter told them he had seen the wanted man in a restaurant, where he received a letter addressed to him. The proprietor of the eating-house, on being questioned, remembered the letter, and also that it bore a Belgian stamp. Furthermore, he said Morant had looked up the time of the boat-trains, and he was certain that he had gone to Ostend. Thither the searchers now went, and one of the first persons they saw after arriving was M. Morant's daughter. She was taking the train for Brussels, and M. Brissard at once went up to her. "Madame," he said, "you will at once tell me where your father is, or I must have you arrested."

The young woman staggered and would have fallen had not the detective assisted her. "Believe me, I do not know," she answered, piteously. "My mother sent me here with a message. I was to meet my father at the station. I have been here all day and have not seen him, so am returning."

Brissard hurriedly spoke to Dessaure, and then boarded the train which carried the young woman to Brussels. Dessaure now wore a full beard, and was not recognised by his former sweetheart. He went to a small hotel and had some food, then returned, as he had been told to do, to the railway station, to await word from M. Brissard at the telegraph office.

At a late hour this arrived, telling Dessaure to go on to Paris at once. This he did, meeting the detective the next day at the latter's rooms. Brissard seemed in very good spirits. "Our man is here in Paris," he said; "he is human, and has followed his wife. The son-in-law is an honourable fellow, and, although he has helped his father-in-law, is desirous of putting an end to all this. He will induce Morant to give himself up. I have every faith in him."

"But what about the reward?" asked Dessaure.

"We will see to that," replied the detective, confidently.

[pg 609]

At nine o'clock the two men walked down the boulevards to the Montmartre district. Arriving in the vicinity of a wine-shop there, M. Brissard stationed himself directly opposite. Dessaure did not quite understand all this, nevertheless he did as he was told. Looking up casually toward a cross street, he saw approaching on the opposite side a man whom he thought he recognised. The man wore a light overcoat and a straw hat, and seemed to be looking for someone. With a cry Dessaure, unable to restrain himself, rushed across the street, and grasping the man by the throat struck him repeatedly in the face. It was the long-sought Morant! The men were separated by Morant's son-in-law, who had been waiting for him, and who upbraided M. Brissard for being there. He said he had given his word that he would bring Morant to the police, and that Brissard had broken faith with him.

"You are quite welcome to carry out your agreement," replied the detective. "All I want is the jewels this man has in his possession, and I thought it advisable to get them in case—well, in case he decided to leave them elsewhere before giving himself up."

The four men now proceeded to the Prefecture of Police, where Morant, on being searched, was discovered to have on his person more than half of the twice-stolen jewels.

He now told his story. How his wife, sitting at a third-storey window, drying her hair after a shampoo, had been an interested spectator of Dessaure's manœuvres in burying the box, and after his departure had informed her husband. Morant had promptly dug the case up and, on discovering what it contained, at first intended to hand it over to the police. Then greed overcame him, and, despite the protestations of his wife, he decided to keep them. He narrated how he reburied the jewels in another spot, in case Dessaure should divulge their original hiding-place to the police, and how he waited for some months alter Dessaure's conviction before selling his café. Then he departed for London and opened a restaurant there. He knew the detectives in America were searching for him, he said, and so took a situation as chef in another name. The jewels had proved a curse to him throughout. Morant's story was listened to by the Prefect, and he was then placed under arrest as an "accessory after the fact."

He was tried some weeks later, convicted, and sent to prison for a term of three years. His nerves had been completely shattered by his long ordeal, however, and five weeks after his reception at the Santé Morant died in the prison hospital.


[pg 610]



By Frederic Lees.

Nowhere in France are curious beliefs so rife as in Finistère, the Morbihan, and the Côtes-du-Nord, where most of the little-known facts contained in the following pages were collected. As to the photographs by M. Paul Géniaux, the well-known authority on Breton folk-lore, they are unique, since they represent for the first time a number of the superstitious ceremonies to which the Bretons, in spite of the spread of education, still pin their faith.


WE were cycling through Brittany—my Breton friend and I—and the turn of the road suddenly brought us within sight of a typical Finistère village, with its picturesque grey cottages surrounded by verdant orchards. Slackening speed, we began to look about us, and it was then that, glancing to my right down a narrow side road, I beheld a scene that made me dismount and call to my companion.

"I say, Géniaux, whatever are they doing to the little chap?" I cried. "Are they grilling him for supper?"

My friend's only reply was a chuckle and the click of the shutter of his camera, which, on coming to me, he had instinctively swung into the right position for a snapshot. Not until the photographic record had been obtained and the plate had been changed did he vouchsafe to give me an explanation of what we saw before us. In the middle of the road a small bonfire was merrily crackling. Over it a boy of six or seven was being held by a man and a woman, whilst three other peasant-women and some children looked on with solemn faces. What could be the meaning of this extraordinary proceeding, which looked for all the world like a human sacrifice?

"No; he's not being prepared for supper," replied Paul Géniaux, with another chuckle. "That boy has something the matter with his leg—hip-disease, I should say; and these good people think they are going to effect a cure by holding him over a bonfire on St. John's Day. I hope they'll succeed. Poor little chap! We are lucky to have seen the ceremony and got a [pg 611] photograph, for this is one of the most curious of our Breton superstitions. I'd quite forgotten that to-day was the 'Jour de Saint-Jean.' Many a bonfire will be lit in Brittany to-night, and many a cripple will be submitted to this ordeal of fire."

Whilst my friend was speaking the ceremony had come to an end and the little boy had been handed over to his mother, who departed on her way, probably rejoicing. As the other members of the group were about to disperse we drew near, with the usual salutations, and entered into conversation. Though I knew that my fellow-traveller's knowledge was quite equal to that of these simple peasant folk, I was anxious to learn something from their own lips, and above all to judge for myself of their sincerity. At first they were decidedly shy, but when my friend spoke a few words to them in their native Breton they became quite open, and evidently no longer regarded us as "strangers."

From a Photograph.

"Yes; we were quite right," explained the man. "The boy was suffering from hip-disease; and as all the doctors in the district had failed to do him any good they were trying a remedy in which they had every faith. It was a great pity that the mother had not resorted to it sooner. But she was a young woman, full of all sorts of new ideas, and she had preferred to waste her money on the doctors. He was a believer in the old remedies. He had known a 'feu de Saint-Jean' perform miracles. But to be thoroughly effective it was essential that the two people who held the child should concentrate their thoughts on the work and have perfect faith. Nothing could be done without faith."

There was such a ring of sincerity in his voice that we two sceptics were disarmed. It was useless to try to disillusionize the man, so we asked him further questions and obtained the additional information that a "feu de Saint-Jean" was good for other things besides complaints and diseases. A horse, for instance, that had been passed through the fire was rendered proof against illness, and would perform its work much better than one that had not undergone the ordeal. This chance meeting with an interesting example of Breton superstition prompted an idea. We determined that whilst on our journey through Brittany we would collect as many similar examples as we could, so as to form the nucleus of a book on the folklore of that part of France. And wherever we went we found something to add to our records, as the following examples will show.

A very large number of the superstitions of Brittany apply to ailments. Poor food, the excessive use of alcohol, and profound ignorance of the laws of health make the Bretons subject to numerous complaints, which they endeavour to cure by means that were adopted by their forefathers as far back as the fourteenth century. On reaching a little village near Tréguier we were advised to see the tomb of St. Yves in the church-yard, and on going there found an old [pg 612] woman—a hunchback—creeping through a narrow aperture with which that beautiful monument is pierced. Though she had been deformed since childhood, she was quite convinced that the saint, who had been renowned during his life-time for the miraculous healing of the sick, might still be able to do something for her. This "Hunchbacks' Hole" in the tomb of St. Yves had already cured quite a number of bossus, in accordance, legend said, with a promise made by the holy man. He himself, in his youth, had been hunchbacked. Remembering this when on his death-bed, he gave instructions that his tomb should be fashioned in the particular form in which it is to-day, at the same time promising that every cripple who crept through it should have the benefit of his prayers in heaven.

From a Photograph.

The minor troubles to which poor humanity is subject are also "cured" by the carrying out of certain other peculiar ceremonies. When a Breton girl suffers from warts, for instance, she has herself blindfolded, takes a handful of haricot beans, and feels her way to the nearest well, into which she must throw the beans one by one, at the same time wishing. Should the well be a holy one—and most wells in Brittany have been blessed by the priests and are therefore [pg 613] considered to be "holy"—all the better; for her warts will disappear the very next day. In the case of an ordinary well, however, they will not be "charmed away" anything like so rapidly. Still, in the end the sincere wisher will get rid of them. To combat acute forms of headache a very curious method is employed near Billiers, in the Morbihan. The sufferer pricks his or her forehead with a needle until blood flows; then, with the same needle, he or she pricks a certain cross that was erected in 1874 near the village. By this means it is believed that the headache is made to "enter the wood," where it will remain for at least a fortnight. This "cure" is attributed to the intervention of the Virgin Mary, who is said to have appeared in the above-mentioned year where the cross is erected, with a promise that she would perform miracles "to prove her descent at that spot." Adjoining the cross for curing headaches is another that is reputed to be of great service in the cure of diseases of the scalp. All that the sufferers need do is to come and pray there, leaving their bonnets or caps behind them, attached to a forked branch stuck in the earth.

From a Photograph.

From a Photograph.

[pg 614]

When, in the case of serious ailments, a cure is not effected by one or other of these means, the sufferer considers that he has received a very bad sign. Everyone must die sooner or later, and he recognises that he has received a warning. Sometimes the "warning" is a very definite one, as we were told on passing through a place called Muzollac. A candle is seen to float out through the church door and fall down the chimney of the house of the sick person! Death is not far off when that phenomenon is observed, and one of the first things that the relatives do, should there be bees in the garden, is to cover one of the hives with crape. If this is not done they believe the bees will all fly away and seek another master!

There are all sorts of superstitions in Brittany connected with candles and death. On the occasion of a marriage, for instance, the bride and bridegroom take great care to give an extra large tip to the choir-boy whose duty it is to light the candles on the altar and see that they burn well throughout the ceremony. For, should one of the candles begin to flicker and go out, it is certain that someone is going to die within a year. If it is one in front of the bride, then she is to be the victim; if it is one opposite the bridegroom, then the misfortune is to descend upon him.

From a Photograph.

The majority of the strange beliefs of ancient Brittany apply, however, not to so gloomy a subject as death, but to the joyful one of love and marriage. Especially are the maidens of that part of France believers in signs and portents. They begin at the age of sixteen or seventeen with the floating needle superstition. In little parties of three to six they set out for a walk in the country, choosing a day when there [pg 615] is not much wind, for there must be hardly a ripple on the surface of the pool where they intend to question the future.

When, in the beautiful, orchard-covered suburbs of Quimper, we met one of these bright-faced, laughing groups of lasses, the object of whose journey was evident from the plaster statuette of St. Catherine which one of them carried in her arms, we asked to be allowed to accompany them. Hearing that their portraits were to be taken they willingly consented. So we set off across the fields together and soon arrived at a shaded pool of clear spring water.

From a Photograph.

The statuette of St. Catherine—the patron saint of old maids—was then placed on one of the banks, and the girls, taking out their needles, began to see if they would float on the surface of the water. If they succeeded twice out of three times in making them float, then the saint had answered in the affirmative; they were to have a husband, and perhaps before many months had gone by. But if the needles went to the bottom, then they would remain spinsters all their lives. In the eyes of the Breton girl this is a terrible fate; and Géniaux told me, as we continued on our way towards the ancient cathedral city, that sometimes those who go on needle-floating excursions do not play fair: they take care to grease their needles well, so that they cannot do anything else but float!

In other parts of Brittany, especially in the northern departments, another method of questioning St. Catherine is adopted. The statuette is affixed to a tree in an orchard. One after the other the girls then arrange a head-dress above the saint's head. If the wind blows the coiffure down to the right, it is regarded as proof that the girl to whom it belongs will make a happy marriage; but if it falls to the left, she will be an old maid all her life. To the girls in the Côtes-du-Nord this is an absolutely reliable test, and no amount of argument will make them believe that St. Catherine does not control the wind in such a manner that it answers "yes" or "no."

From a Photograph.

From a Photograph.

Before leaving the subject of marriage superstitions, I must not omit to mention the belief that is common around Pont-l'Abbé to the effect that no marriage will turn out a happy one unless the fiancé deposits a sum of money, varying from fifty to five hundred francs, according to his social position, with his intended. Parisians are well acquainted with this custom in the case of their tailors, who, when a customer is not very well known, insist on a deposit. "On est prié de laisser des arrhes" is a common notice in the shops of French tailleurs; but [pg 616-7] until I went to Brittany I was not aware that it was also observed in the marriage market. The money is deposited, as I have said, in order to assure a happy union; but should no marriage take place, and this through the fault of the fiancée, the sum must be returned. If the engagement is broken off by the man, then he loses his deposit. When at Pont-l'Abbé we were told an amusing story in this connection.

A certain shrewd Breton maiden, whom the inhabitants of the little town still called "the perpetual fiancée," got herself engaged no fewer than seven times in succession, and each time she succeeded in forcing her fiancé to break the engagement. In this way she collected close on one thousand francs. After the seventh young man of Pont-l'Abbe had been cast aside she could not succeed in finding an eighth, for everybody fought shy of her. One day, however, the announcement went forth, to everybody's amazement, that "the perpetual fiancée" was to be married. The fortunate, or unfortunate, bridegroom turned out to be a sailor of the neighbouring port of Loctudy, who had been away on a long voyage, and to whom, people said, the girl had been engaged all the time. During his absence she had simply been collecting a little dowry for the man of her heart!

As will be seen, superstition enters so largely into the daily life of the Breton that wherever you go you are sure to find instances of it. The millers of Pont-l'Abbé and district nail a pair of sabots to their water-wheels in order to make them turn well and grind the corn to perfection.

Even the sportsmen, whom you would think would depend entirely on their skill, are superstitious. Near Billiers we came across one of them who was busily engaged in searching for the pellets with which he had killed a fine hare. After a good deal of difficulty he found three or four. He then proceeded to fill some new cartridge-cases, putting one of the used shot into each case; for this, he said, was an absolutely certain means of killing every time that he raised his gun to his shoulder. This was, perhaps, the strangest of all the superstitions encountered during our wanderings through ancient Armorica.

The inhabitants of Billiers put a large cross in whitewash over the doors of their cottages, so as to protect them against lightning; they stretch cords over their huge iron stew-pots, and sit watching them for hours to see if they are vibrated by some unseen power—vibration being a sure sign that those who take part in the experiment are to be happy for the remainder of the year; and on the fish-women receiving the first proceeds of a sale they fall down on their knees to make the sign of the cross, which will ensure them having a profitable day's work.

From a Photograph.

[pg 618]

THE WIDE WORLD: In Other Magazines.


I N the village church of Comfort (near Pont-Croix), in Western Brittany, is a very good specimen of the now rare "Wheel of Fortune." It is made of wood, with a row of bells on its outer rim and pivoted between a couple of rough beams—altogether very primitive workmanship. By means of a cord attached to a crank the wheel can be made to revolve and set all the bells a-jangling. The peasants believe that it has miraculous power of healing when rung over the head of a sufferer who has placed a sou in the box to which the rope is padlocked.—"THE STRAND MAGAZINE."


THE negro attendant in the cloak-room of a palatial establishment of this sort in San Francisco was uncommonly sharp. Several prominent men in Australia had come to Tasmania to inspect the irrigation Colonies there, and amongst them was the Premier of Victoria. He was told during his visit that this particular negro could, without a moment's hesitation, hand out the right hat to every visitor. The colonial statesman was a little incredulous at such a statement, and was determined to put the man to the test. So he went up to the counter and asked the man for his hat, which he turned over and over, as if in doubt, and regarded critically. At last he said, "Are you sure this is my hat?" "No, sah," was the instant response; "I don't know whose hat it is, but I do know you gave it me." The Ethiopian scored, and the Australian was convinced.—"TIT-BITS."


N EW YORK is just now passing through a roller-skating craze which threatens to attract the attention of the police. The skating is not confined to rinks, but is indulged in on the streets by boys and girls, men and women, who fly along, brushing by innocent pedestrians, and not infrequently bowling them over. The pavements are rendered unsightly by the marks of the skates and the dropping of the oil from the "ball bearings," and at last householders have complained, and the police have been ordered to arrest skaters who pursue their pastime in certain sections of the city.—"WOMAN'S LIFE."

Kentia Palm


WINTER, beginning early in October and continuing until March, renders life in Kabul difficult and uncomfortable. Charcoal is the chief fuel; and as the houses, owing to numerous doors and windows, are very draughty, the supply of wood very limited, and coal unobtainable, it is necessary to wear, even in the house, treble thicknesses of clothing, and the longest, warmest, and thickest of fur coats outside the doors. Meal times, under such rigorous conditions, are a distinct misfortune. All food-stuffs freeze solid; bread has to be chopped with an axe and drinking water broken with a hammer. Pickles, sauces, jams, and ink are better put away till the spring. Joints must be served piping hot from the fire and lying over a pan of glowing charcoal—even then the centre will probably be unthawed; while the matutinal cup of tea or the nocturnal cup of cocoa must be gulped rapidly if it is not to freeze before it is swallowed.—"THE SUNDAY STRAND."


THE annexed photograph, which depicts a very fine specimen of a Kentia in full bloom, will be especially interesting to those who have travelled in Eastern countries and have had the privilege of seeing it growing in its native wilds. Unfortunately, our climate is too inclement for this beautiful plant, and it is very rarely, if ever, that a specimen is to be seen in bloom in this country.—"COUNTRY LIFE."

[pg 619]

Odds and Ends.

A Piscatorial Acrobat—An Extraordinary Juggling Feat—The Fakir's Couch, etc.


THE striking photograph below depicts "Abe Ruef," a piscatorial acrobat who lives in a fountain in St. James's Park, San Jose, California, and his trainer and friend, Charles Riley. "Abe Ruef" is a carp about a foot long, and his master claims that he is the only trained fish in the world. The education of "Abe" was begun a year ago by Riley, who is one of the gardeners in the park, and has been kept up continuously, so that now "Abe" prances around his little sphere of action with all the alertness and agility of a trapeze artiste. Whether the fish can hear the commands which are given him or not, he certainly understands what is wanted of him and performs his "tricks" promptly and with exactness. One of his favourite pranks is to wriggle over the edge of the porcelain bowl of the fountain into Riley's hands. The picture here reproduced was taken just as he was coming over the edge one day, and the photographer made seventeen attempts before he succeeded in getting the picture. "Abe" will also squirm over or under a stick held in the water, will crawl between Riley's fingers, will go half-way under and then back out, and will swim backward around the tank at the word of command. He takes particular delight in swimming up to the surface of the water and having his back stroked by his master. Riley is an animal trainer of considerable efficiency, and at his home he has the dog and cat, and even the cow, trained to do tricks; while a number of chickens will beg for food and jump over sticks at their master's order.

From a Photograph.

[pg 620]

From a Photograph.

The photograph reproduced above shows the "skullery" at Naters, in the Rhone Valley. At this village, and at various others in Switzerland, a curious custom prevails in connection with burials. One is not allowed to rest peaceably in one's grave for ever, as is the practice in this country; the grave is permanent, but the occupation of it is a strictly temporary tenancy, and when needed for a later arrival the previous occupant is disinterred and his bones are stacked away in the "skullery," as here seen.

It is not uncommon, both in China and India, to see conjurers going about from place to place, reminding one of the peripatetic scissor-grinders who abound in our own country. All the paraphernalia with which they perform their many and varied tricks is carried in two boxes, suspended from the ends of a long pole resting on the shoulder, and for a very small sum they will give a performance lasting an hour or so. Besides the common sleight-of-hand tricks, such as the appearance and disappearance of balls, artificial flowers, jars full of water, live fish, etc., and the spinning and throwing of crockery, balls, and knives, there are certain other feats which require more than mere dexterity of hand. For instance, a sleigh-bell is swallowed, and can be heard tinkling in the stomach as the "artiste" jumps about. Then a sword is thrust down the throat, and can be heard to strike against the bell. The bell, needless to say, is later recovered. But the special and rather disgusting feat illustrated by the striking pictures on the opposite page, and performed by a Chinese juggler, seems to outrival anything else of the kind. It consisted in threading two snakes up the nostrils and out through the mouth! The conjurer performed this feat at the house of a Wide World reader living near T'ungchou, about fourteen miles from Peking, China. The first photograph shows him standing behind one of the long round boxes which contain his outfit. On the top of the box is a basket containing a number of live snakes, from which he selects two of the smoother and more docile ones, though he afterwards confessed that one of the snakes had several times bitten him as it passed through the nose. These snakes were a foot and a half long, and about as large round as a man's little finger. By the conjurer's side stood a small boy who acted as his assistant. In the second picture the conjurer is seen at work, threading the head of the first snake into his nostril. Needless to say, this is a delicate operation, and even the little assistant seemed interested. The bringing back of the head of the snake, after penetrating the nasal passages and beginning to pass down into the throat, is accomplished in the following manner. The performer puts two fingers far back into his mouth, the approach of the fingers and the arrival of the snake naturally bringing on a muscular spasm of the throat, which throws forward the head of the reptile and enables it to be grasped,[pg 621-2] drawn from the mouth, and allowed to dangle several inches away from the lips. In the third and fourth pictures the conjurer has succeeded in accomplishing the feat, having forced the second snake into as uncomfortable a position as the first. In these photographs the heads of the two snakes are clearly seen hanging from the man's mouth, while the squirming tails, for convenience, are snugly curled about his ears! Self-control and resignation fairly beam from the countenance of the poor fellow, as he seeks to assume an attitude favourable for the photographer, and yet affording a modicum of comfort to himself. The development of this conjurer's throat was remarkable. Long practice in sword and bell swallowing had evidently not only enlarged the muscles, but also toughened the membranes. Otherwise, it would seem impossible for a man to endure, without serious inconvenience, the wriggling and crawling of snakes in this most sensitive part of the anatomy.

From Photographs.

We have published several photographs of religious mendicants in India, showing the extraordinary penances they inflict upon themselves to gain merit—and incidentally the alms of the faithful—but none more striking than that here reproduced, which shows a fakir at Jubbulpore seated on a couch of sharp-pointed nails. Here, with eyes closed, wrapped in profound meditation, he sits all day long, apparently oblivious to the pricking of the spikes. There is no deception about the business; the nails are quite sharp, but probably long usage has hardened the fakir's epidermis to such an extent that the discomfort is hardly felt.

From a photo.   by H. Hands.

Twenty years ago, when the villagers living on the borders of Reigate Heath, Surrey, had no place of worship nearer than the parish church, a service was held in a schoolroom [pg 623] close by, and was so well attended that the authorities looked around for a suitable permanent building. The erection of a church was out of the question, but there stood on the Heath the remains of an old mill, a picturesque feature in a beautiful bit of landscape. Inspection showed that once the rats were got rid of a comparatively small outlay would furnish and render the mill fit for public worship, and soon it was opened as the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The circular brick walls of this odd chapel are mostly ivy-clad, and as the entrance is reached the vestry is seen on the left. Originally it is reputed to have been a carpenter's shed, and, except that a few pegs and chairs have been added, its primitive state is well preserved. The interior of the chapel arouses interest. Four buttresses, four feet thick by six feet in height, serve as rests for two massive beams, which cross each other in the centre and support an upright shaft, cracked with age and strongly bound with iron bands. The roof slopes down from the vertex of the shaft to the circular wall, and consequently the building, though no more than thirty feet in diameter, is of considerable loftiness. The buttresses make four natural alcoves. The entrance door stands in one, and immediately opposite is the altar; the harmonium is placed in a third, and the bell-ringer sits close beside it and rings his bell; the fourth is occupied by the congregation. The chairs are arranged so as to leave an aisle from the doorway to the altar, down which only one person can pass at a time. Above the altar and the doorway are the windows. The light is fairly good, but there are glass lanterns filled with candles in the alcoves, and a candelabrum holding nine lights hangs in front of the altar. All the seats are free, and as many as fifty people can be accommodated. There is no pulpit, the preacher standing between the prayer-desk and the lectern. A nominal rental of a shilling a year is paid to the owner of this curious church.

From a Photo.
by View and Portrait Supply Co.

The horrible-looking head seen in the photograph below is a fetish which was, until quite recently, in use among the natives of Sierra Leone. It is said to be covered with human skin, [pg 624] and the gruesomeness of its appearance was intentionally exaggerated, as it was intended to act as a kind of household god and a defence against evil spirits. These superstitions, it is interesting to note, are gradually becoming extinct under the pressure of British civilization.

From a Photograph.

The photograph reproduced on this page was taken on the station platform at Ginginhlovu, in Zululand. The young Zulu girl here seen was waiting for a train, and had picked up a Wide-World Magazine which had been inadvertently left behind by some passenger—no doubt much to his sorrow. Although the vast majority of the natives cannot read or understand English, they are very fond of looking at pictures, and this Zulu belle was much interested in her find.

From a Photograph.


Transcriber's Note:

The Magazine Cover and Table Of Contents were created by the transcriber and are placed in the public domain.

Some illustrations have been moved slightly, to avoid interrupting the flow of the text.
Some illustrations have been partially cleaned, where it was safe to do so.

There are instances of hyphenated and unhyphenated variants of a number of words.
All have been retained.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Wide World Magazine, Vol. 22, No. 132,
March 1909, by Various


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