Page images
[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

It was night; the moon had just risen, and threw a strange glare on everything around. I was in the prairie, and had been there since ten o'clock in the morning, looking for wild beasts.

At last I saw five hippopotami grazing. I approached with cautious steps, or rather, I crawled on the ground toward the huge beasts, till I came near enough to see the shadows their immense bodies threw around them.

The question was how to get within gunshot without being seen. There was nothing to protect me from their view, for the grass had been burned; there was nothing, either, to protect me from their assault.

Supposing that I killed the one I should shoot at, the others might take it into their heads to charge

upon me.

Not a tree was within reach. Now, I had been so accustomed to hunt wild beasts that I was not afraid of any of them, but I knew that I could not kill five hippopotami at once.

Suddenly the animals turned round and gradually approached a grove of trees. But what was to be done? The wind almost blew from that grove toward them! “ At any rate, I will try,” said I to myself, “ to go there; but I must take a roundabout way.” How careful I had to be in order not to be seen!

I felt very much excited, and when I reached the little island, or grove, of trees without being discovered, I was pleased with myself. It was, I thought, a splendid piece of woodcraft on my part.

I had reached the grove from the opposite side from where I supposed the hippopotami to be. The only sure way for me to come close to them was to go through the grove and wait until they should come within gunshot from the other side.

The trees were not very thick, and I could pass through the underbrush without making much noise. I thought, perhaps, there was a leopard there, and if so, he would leap upon me before I was aware. It was just the time of night when leopards are out, and they abounded in that region. I therefore entered the woods, looking to the right and left ahead of me, in order not to be surprised; and I met several hippopotami tracks.

Just as I was in the midst of the grove I suddenly

heard a great crash in the direction I was going. Then followed several other crashes coming from other parts. I listened; they were the hippopotami; they had entered the grove by several paths converging toward me.

I kept still. I do believe my hair must have stood up on my head, for I was awfully excited. The hippopotami were coming just where I was.

I cocked my gun, hid myself behind a big tree, and waited. I heard the crash of branches in all directions except one, and finally I saw the branches of the trees moving not far from me, and by the dim moonlight piercing through the not very thick foliage, I perceived a monster hippopotamus, the male of the herd, coming sideways so as to pass within a few yards of me.

Suddenly he stopped; gave one of his sonorous grunts, and then advanced. What a monster he was ! what a huge body! what short legs !

At last, just as he had passed me, so that he could not face me without turning his unwieldy body, I fired into his ear, and the monster dropped on the spot, with scarcely a struggle.

But I wish you had been with me to hear the rush of the others. I thought all the trees were coming down! One of the beasts in his fright came in my direction. I thought he was charging me, so I fired.

I heard the bullet strike some part of his body, probably one of his tusks, for it made a great noise ; but that was all. He passed on with a rapidity of which I thought these beasts perfectly incapable. I was glad when they were all out of the way. [Abridgment.]



On thy fair bosom, silver lake,

The wild swan spreads his snowy sail,
And round his breast the ripples break,

As down he bears before the gale.

[ocr errors][merged small]

The waves along thy pebbly shore,

As blows the north wind, heave their foam,
And curl around the dashing oar,

As late the boatman hies him home.

How sweet, at set of sun, to view

Thy golden mirror spreading wide,
And see the mist of mantling blue

Float round the distant mountain side.

On thy fair bosom, silver lake,
Oh, I could ever sweep


oar, When early birds at morning wake, And evening tells us toil is o'er!




DANIEL WEBSTER was born at Salisbury, New Hampshire, Jan. 18, 1782. His father was a farmer, and the son proved to be the most notable product of the hill-country. After considerable effort the boy was enabled to obtain a classical education at Dartmouth College. He became a lawyer, but it was not till 1816 that he removed to Boston for the practice of his profession. He had already served New Hampshire as a representative in Congress, and in Massachusetts (1823) he was chosen to a like position. In 1827 he was elected to the Senate. In 1840 he

became Secretary of State, and in this capacity negotiated an important treaty with Great Britain. In 1850 he again filled the same office. Mr. Webster is regarded by many as the ablest constitutional lawyer and the most eloquent and powerful orator of America, and he ranks with Demosthenes, Cicero, and the elder Pitt, as one of the greatest orators of history.

He died at his home in Marshfield, Oct. 24, 1852.


Venerable men! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty years ago, this very hour, with your brothers and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country.

Behold, how altered ! The same heavens are indeed over your heads; the same ocean rolls at your

« PreviousContinue »