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Five Weeks in a Balloon

CHAPTER FOURTEENTH
The Forest of Gum-Trees.--The Blue Antelope.--The Rallying-Signal. --An Unexpected
Attack.--The Kanyeme.--A Night in the Open Air.--The Mabunguru.--Jihoue-la-Mkoa.--
A Supply of Water.--Arrival at Kazeh.
The country, dry and parched as it was, consisting of a clayey soil that cracked open with
the heat, seemed, indeed, a desert: here and there were a few traces of caravans; the bones
of men and animals, that had been half-gnawed away, mouldering together in the same
dust.
After half an hour's walking, Dick and Joe plunged into a forest of gum-trees, their eyes
alert on all sides, and their fingers on the trigger. There was no foreseeing what they
might encounter. Without being a rifleman, Joe could handle fire-arms with no trifling
dexterity.
"A walk does one good, Mr. Kennedy, but this isn't the easiest ground in the world," he
said, kicking aside some fragments of quartz with which the soil was bestrewn.
Kennedy motioned to his companion to be silent and to halt. The present case compelled
them to dispense with hunting-dogs, and, no matter what Joe's agility might be, he could
not be expected to have the scent of a setter or a greyhound.
A herd of a dozen antelopes were quenching their thirst in the bed of a torrent where
some pools of water had lodged. The graceful creatures, snuffing danger in the breeze,
seemed to be disturbed and uneasy. Their beautiful heads could be seen between every
draught, raised in the air with quick and sudden motion as they sniffed the wind in the
direction of our two hunters, with their flexible nostrils.
Kennedy stole around behind some clumps of shrubbery, while Joe remained motionless
where he was. The former, at length, got within gunshot and fired.
The herd disappeared in the twinkling of an eye; one male antelope only, that was hit just
behind the shoulder-joint, fell headlong to the ground, and Kennedy leaped toward his
booty.
It was a blauwbok, a superb animal of a pale-bluish color shading upon the gray, but with
the belly and the inside of the legs as white as the driven snow.
"A splendid shot!" exclaimed the hunter. "It's a very rare species of the antelope, and I
hope to be able to prepare his skin in such a way as to keep it."
"Indeed!" said Joe, "do you think of doing that, Mr. Kennedy?"
"Why, certainly I do! Just see what a fine hide it is!"
 
 
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