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more the greater noise it makes. But these people have also a very remarkable instrument called the handja, whose sweet and silvery tones by no jf 'ns smnck of canuibalism. It consists of a light reed frame, three feet long by one and a half broad, into which are set and securely
of a hard red wood found in the forests. Each of these cylinders is of a different size, and all are so graduated that the set form a regular series of notes. A handja generally contains seven. The performer sits down, lays the fmme across his knees, and strikes the strips lightly with a stick. There are two sticks, one hard, the other soft, and the principle is the same on which music has been produced in France from a series of glasses. The tone is very clear and good; and though their tunes are very rude, they can play them with considerable skill.
It was while among the Fans that our traveler killed his first gorilla, a huge beast lacking but a few inches of being six feet in height. They had been cautiously hunting the dense jungle for some hours. "Suddenly Miengai uttered a little cluck with his tongue, which is the native's way of showing that something is stirring, and that a sharp look-out is necessary. And presently I noticed, ahead of us seemingly, a noise as of some one breaking down branches or twigs of trees.
"This was the gorilla, I knew at once, by the eager and satisfied looks of the men. They looked once more carefully at their guns, to see if by any chance the powder had fallen out of the pans; I also examined mine, to make sure that all were right; and then we marched on cautiously.
"The singular noise of the breaking of treebranches continued. We walked with the greatest care, making no noise at all. The countenances of the men showed that they thought themselves engaged in a very serious undertaking; but we pushed on, until finally we thought we saw through the thick woods the moving of the branches and small trees which the great beast was tearing down, probably to get from them the berries and fruits he lives on.
"Suddenly, as we were yet creeping along, in a silence which made a heavy breath seem loud and distinct, the woods were filled with the tremendous barking roar of the gorilla.
"Then the underbrush swayed rapidly just ahead, and presently before us stood an immense male gorilla. He had gone through the jungle on his all-fours; but when he saw our party he erected himself and looked us boldly in the face. He stood about a dozen yards from us, and was a sight I think never to forget. Nearly six feet high, with immense body, huge chest, and great muscular arms, with fiercely-glaring, large, deep gray eyes, and a hellish expression of face, which seemed to me like some nightmare vision: thus stood before us this king of the African forests.
"He was not afraid of us. He stood there, and beat his breast with his huge fists till it resounded like an immense bass drum, which is their mode of offering defiance; meantime giving vent to roar after roar.
"The roar of the gorilla is the most singular and awful noise heard in these African woods. It begins with a sharp bark like an angry dog, then glides into a deep bass roll, which literally and closely resembles the roll of distant thunder along the sky, for which I have sometimes been tempted to take it where I did not see the animal. So deep is it that it seems to proceed less from the mouth and throat than from the deep chest and vast paunch.
"His eyes began to flash fiercer fire as we
stood motionless on the defensive, and the crest of short hair which stands on his forehead began to twitch rapidly up and down, while his powerful fangs were shown as he again sent forth a thunderous roar. And now truly he reminded me of nothing but some hellish dream creature —a being of that hideous order, half man half beast, which we find pictured by old artists in some representations of the infernal regions. He advanced a few steps—then stopped to utter that hideous roar again—advanced again, and finally stopped when at a distance of about six yards from us. And here, as he began another of his roars and beating his breast in rage, we fired, and killed him.
"With a groan which had something terribly human in it, and yet was full of brutishness, it I fell forward on its face. The body shook con\vulsively for a few minutes, the limbs moved about in a struggling way, and then all was quiet—death had done its work, and I had leisure to examine the huge body. It proved to be five feet eight inches high, and the muscular development of the arms and breast showed what immense strength it had possessed.
"My men, though rejoicing at our luck, immediately began to quarrel about the apportionment of the meat—for they really eat this creature. I saw that we should come to blows presently if I did not interfere, and therefore said I should myself give each man his share, which satisfied all. As we were too tired to return to our camp of last night, we determined to camp here on the spot, and accordingly soon had some shelters erected and dinner going on. Luckily, one of the fellows shot a deer just as we began to camp, and on its meat I feasted while my men ate gorilla.
"I noticed that they very carefully saved the brain, and was told that charms were made of this—charms of two kinds. Prepared in one way, the charm gave the wearer a strong hand for the hunt, and in another it gave him success with women."
The evening was spent, as was usual on such occasions, in telling superstitious stories of the powers and evil doings of the mysterious brute, which has taken so strong a hold of the imaginatious of these Africans that it is in all these regions a household word of dread. We cull a few of the many curious stories which Mr. Du Chaillu thus gathered at different times abou. the camp-fire. He says: "I listened in silence to the conversation, which was not addressed to me, and was rewarded by hearing the stories as they are believed, and not as a stranger would be apt to draw them out by questions. One of the men told of two Mbondemo women who were walking together through the woods, when suddenly an immense gorilla stepped into the path, and, clutching one of the women, bore her off in spite of the screams and struggles of both. The other woman returned to the village, sadly frightened, and related the story. Of course her companion was given up for lost. Great was the surprise, therefore, when, a few days afterward, certain spirits of departed negroes. Such gorillas, the natives believe, can never be caught or killed; and, also, they have much more shrewdness and sense than the common animal. In fact, in these 'possessed' beasts, it would seem that the intelligence of man is united with the strength and ferocity of the beast. No wonder the poor African dreads so terrible a being as his imagination thus conjures up.
"One of the men told how, some years ago, a party of gorillas were found in a cane-field tying up the sugar-cane in regular bundles, preparatory to carrying it away. The natives attacked them, but were routed, and several killed, while others were carried off prisoners by the gorillas; but in a few days they returned home uninjured, with this horrid exception: the nails of their fingers and toes had been torn off by their captors.
"Some years ago a man suddenly disappeared from his village. It is probable that he was carried off by a tiger; but as no news came of him, the native superstition invented a cause for his absence. It was related and believed that, as he walked through the wood one day, he was suddenly changed into a hideous large gorilla, which was often pursued afterward, but never killed, though it continually haunted the neighborhood of the village.
"Here several spoke up and mentioned names of men now dead whoso spirits were known to be dwelling in gorillas.
"Finally was rehearsed the story which is current among all the tribes who at all know the gorilla: that this animal lies in wait in the lower branches of trees, watching for people who go to and fro; and, when one passes sufficiently near, grasps the luckless fellow with his powerful feet and draws him up into the tree, where he quietly chokes him."
Such stories as these, the wild imaginings of terror-stricken negroes, have, until now, passed current as at least largely founded in fact. They are gathered in Professor Owen's before mentioned very interesting Memoir of the Gorilla; and it seems a pity to wipe away at one blow so horrible and pleasing a picture as is thus made up. But Mr. Du Chaillu must be believed, and he says: "I am sorry to be the dispeller of such agreeable delusions; but the gorilla does not lurk in trees by the roadside, and drag up unsuspicious passers-by in its claws, and choke them to death in its vice-like paws; it does not attack the elephant and beat him to death with sticks; it does not carry off women from the native villages; it does not even build itself a house of leaves and twigs in the forest-trees and sit on the roof, as has been confidently reported of it. It is not gregarious even; and the numerous stories of its attacking in great numbers have not a grain of truth in them."
It lives in the loneliest and darkest portions of the dense African jungle, preferring deep wooded valleys and also rugged heights. It does not live much, if at all in trees, only the young ones sleeping in the branches, while the adults make their beds at the foot of some mon
arch of the woods, sleeping, as Mr. Du Chaillu thinks, in a sitting posture. Though the animal has such immense teeth and jaws, it is a strict vegetarian; its favorite food being pine-apple leaves, a small berry which grows near the ground, the soft pith of a tree, to get at which the gorilla uses his vast strength to break the tree down; and, lastly, a nut with a very hard shell, which it cracks with its strong jaws. It is not gregarious. The young are found in flocks of never more than five; and these, as well as females when found alone, make off in great haste from the hunter. But the adult male gorilla is neecr known to run from his enemy, man. This is not only the experience of Mr. Du Chaillu, but the universal testimony of the negroes. "When I surprised a pair of gorillas, the male was generally sitting down on a rock or against a tree, in some darkest corner of the jungle, where the brightest sun left its traces only in a dim and gloomy twilight. The female was mostly feeding near by; and it is singular that she almost always gave the alarm by running off, with loud and sudden cries or shrieks. Then the male, sitting for a moment with a savage frown on his face, slowly rises to his feet, and, looking with glowing and malign eyes at the intruders, begins to beat his breast, and, lifting up his round head, utters his frightful roar. This begins with several sharp barks, like an enraged or mad dog, whereupon ensues a long, deeply guttural rolling roar, continued for over a minute, and which, doubled and multiplied by the resounding echoes of the forest, fills the hunter's ears like the deep rolling thunder of an approaching storm. I have reason to believe that I have heard this roar at a distance of three miles. The horror of the animal's appearance at this time is beyond description. It seems as monstrous as a nightmare dream—so impossible a piece of hideousness that, were it not for the danger of its savage approach, the hunter might fancy himself in some ugly dream. At such a sight I could forgive my brave native hunters that they were sometimes overcome with superstitious fears, and ceased to wonder at the strange, weird 'gorilla stories' of the negroes."
It is a maxim with the well-trained gorillahunters to reserve their fire till the very last moment. Experience has shown them that— whether the enraged beast takes the report of the gun for an answering defiance, or for what other reason unknown—if the hunter fires and misses, the gorilla at once rushes upon him; and this onset no man can withstand. One blow of that huge paw, with its bony claws, and the poor hunter's entrails are torn out, his breastbone broken, or his skull crushed. It is too late to reload, and flight is vain. There have been negroes who in such cases, made desperate by their frightful danger, have faced the gorilla, and struck at him with the empty gun. But they had time for only one harmless blow. The next moment the huge arm came down with fatal force, breaking musket and skull with ono blow.'