Page images
PDF
EPUB

When o'er the green undeluged earth
Heaven's covenant thou didst shine,

How came the world's gray fathers forth
To watch thy sacred sign!

And when its yellow lustre smiled

O'er mountains yet untrod,
Each mother held aloft her child

To bless the bow of God.

The earth to thee her incense yields,

The lark thy welcome sings,
When, glittering in the freshen'd fields,

The snowy mushroom springs.

How glorious is thy girdle, cast
O'er mountain, tower, and town,

Or mirror'd in the ocean vast
A thousand fathoms down!

As fresh in yon horizon dark,

As young thy beauties seem,
As when the eagle from the ark

First sported in thy beam.

For, faithful to its sacred page,

Heaven still rebuilds thy span;
Nor lets the type grow pale with age

That first spoke peace to man.

"This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you, and every living creature that is with you for perpetual generations:

"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

"And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

"And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh: and the waters shall no more become a Hood to destroy all flesh."

THE LION AND THE MISSIONARY

By David Livingstone

Note.—Few men have endured more hardships, dangers and excitement that did David Livingstone, missionary and African traveler, from whose writings this account of an adventure with a lion is taken. He penetrated to parts of Africa where no white man had ever been before, he suffered repeated attacks of African fever, he exposed himself to constant danger from wild beasts and wilder men; and he did none of this in his own interests. He was no merchant seeking for gold and diamonds, he was no discoverer seeking for fame; his only aim was to open up the continent of Africa so that civilization and Christianity might enter.

In 1840 Livingstone was sent as medical missionary to South Africa. Here he joined Robert Moffat, in Bechuanaland, where he worked for nine years. Learning from the natives that there was a large lake to the northward, he set out on his first exploring trip, and at length discovered Lake Ngami. Later, he undertook other journeys of exploration, on one of which he reached the Atlantic coast and then returned, crossing the entire continent. His greatest achievement was the exploration of the lake region of South Africa. So cut off was he, in the African jungles, from all the outer world that no communication was received from him for three years, and fears as to his safety were relieved only when Stanley, sent out by the New York Herald to search for Livingstone, reported that he had seen and assisted him.

In May, 1873, Livingstone died, at a village near Lake Bangweolo. His body was taken to England and laid in Westminster Abbey, but his heart was buried at the foot of the tree under whose branches he died.

[graphic]

RETURNING toward Kuruman, I selected the beautiful valley of Mabotsa (latitude 25° 14' south, longitude 26° 30') as the site of a missionary station, and thither I removed in 1843. Here an occurrence took place concerning which I have frequently been questioned in England, and which, but for the importunities of friends, I meant to have kept in store to tell my children when in my dotage. The Bakatla of the village Mabotsa were much troubled by lions, which leaped into the cattle pens by night and destroyed their cows. They even attacked the herds in open day. This was so unusual an occurrence that the people believed that they were bewitched,— "given," as they said, "into the power of the lions by a neighboring tribe." They went once to attack the animals, but, being rather a cowardly people compared to Bechuanas in general on such occasions, they returned without killing any.

It is well known that if one of a troop of lions is killed, the others take the hint and leave that part of the country. So, the next time the herds were attacked, I went with the people, in order to encourage them to rid themselves of the annoyance by destroying one of the marauders. We found the lions on a small hill about a quarter of a mile in length, and covered with trees. A circle of men was formed round it, and they gradually closed up, ascending pretty near to each other. Being down below on the plain with a native schoolmaster, named Mebalwe, a most excellent man, I saw one of the lions sitting on a piece of rock within the now closed circle of men. Mebalwe fired at him before I could, and the ball struck the rock on which the animal was sitting. He bit at the spot struck, as a dog does at a stick or stone thrown at him; then leaping away, broke through the opening circle and escaped unhurt. The men were afraid to attack him, perhaps on account of their belief in witchcraft. When the circle was reformed, we saw two other lions in it; but we were afraid to fire lest we should strike the men, and they allowed the beasts to burst through also.

If the Bakatla had acted according to the custom of the country, they would have speared the lions in their attempt to get out. Seeing we could not get them to kill one of the lions, we bent our footsteps toward the village; in going round the end of the hill, however, I saw one of the beasts sitting on a piece of rock as before, but this time he had a little bush in front. Being about thirty yards off, I took a good aim at his body through the bush, and fired both barrels into it.. The men then called out, "He is shot, he is shot!" Others cried, "He has been shot by another man too; let us go to him!" I did not see any one else shoot at him, but I saw the lion's tail erected in anger behind the bush, and turning to the people, said, "Stop a little, till I load again." When in the act of ramming down the bullets, I heard a shout. Starting, and looking half round, I saw the lion just in the act of springing upon me.

I was upon a little height; he caught my shoulder as he sprang, and we both came to the ground below together. Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a terrier dog does a rat. The shock produced a stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse after the first shake of the cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess, in which there was no sense of pain nor feeling of terror, though I was quite conscious of all that was happening. It was like what patients partially under the influence of chloroform describe, who see all the operation, but feel not the knife. This singular condition was not the result of any mental process. The shake annihilated fear, and allowed no sense of horror in looking round at the beast. This peculiar state is probably produced in all animals killed by the carnivora; and if so, is a merciful provision by our benevolent Creator for lessening the pain of death. Turning round to relieve myself of the weight, as he had one paw on the back of my head, I saw his eyes directed to Mebalwe, who was trying to shoot him at a distance of ten or fifteen yards. His gun, a flint one, missed fire in both barrels; the lion immediately left me, and, attacking Mebalwe, bit his thigh. Another man, whose life I had saved before, after he had been tossed by a buffalo, attempted to spear the lion while he was biting Mebalwe. He left Mebalwe and caught this man by the shoulder, but at that moment the bullets he had received took effect, and he fell down dead. The whole was the work of a few moments, and must have been his paroxysms of dying rage. In order to take out the charm from him, the Bakatla on the following day made a huge bonfire over the carcass, which was declared to be that of the largest lion they had ever seen. Besides crunching the bone into splinters, he left eleven teeth wounds on the upper part of my arm.

A wound from this animal's tooth resembles a gunshot wound; it is generally followed by a great

« PreviousContinue »