A r c h a i c m a n 139 had surprised and mauled a

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ar c h a i cm a n139had surprised and mauled a man in his sleep the day be­fore. In spite of the fire they swarmed into the hut 0f our cook who fled screaming over the stockade. Thenceforth there were no accidents throughout the whole of our journey. Such a day gave our Negroes food for thought. For us it was a simple multiplication of accidents, but for them the inevitable fulfilment of an omen that had occurred upon the first day of our jour­ney into the wilds. It so happened that we had fallen, car, bridge and all, into a stream we were trying to cross. Our boys had exchanged glances on that occa­sion as if to say : “ Well, that’s a fine start.” To cap the climax a tropical thunderstorm blew up and soaked us so thoroughly that I was prostrated with fever for sev­eral days. On the evening of the day when my friend had had such a narrow escape out hunting, I could not help saying to him as we white men sat looking at one another : “ It seems to me as if the trouble had begun still further back. Do you remember the dream you told me in Zürich just before we left ?” At that time he had had a very impressive nightmare. He dreamed that he was hunting in Africa, and was suddenly at­tacked by a huge mamba, so that he woke up with a cry of terror. The dream had greatly disturbed himtand he now confessed to the thought that it had portended the death of one of us. He had of course assumed that I was to die, because we always hope it is the “ other fellow.” But it was he who later fell ill of a severe malarial fe­ver that brought him to the edge of the grave.To read of such a conversation in a corner of the world where there are no snakes and no malaria-bear­ing mosquitoes means very little. One must imagine the velvety blue of a tropical night, the overhanging black masses of gigantic trees standing in a virgin forest, the mysterious voices of the nocturnal spaces, a lonely fire with loaded rifles stacked beside it, mosquito-nets, boiled swamp-water to drink, and above all the convic­tion expressed by an old Afrikander who knew what he was saying : “ This isn’t man’s country—it’s God’s country.” There man is not king; it is rather nature
140Modern Man in Search of a Soul—the animals, plants and microbes. Given the mood that goes with the place, one understands how it is that we found a dawning significance in things that anywhere else would provoke a smile. That is the world of unre­strained, capricious powers with which primitive man has to deal day by day. The extraordinary event is no joke to him. He draws his own conclusions. “ It is not a good place ”—“ The day is unfavourable ”—and who knows what dangers he avoids by following such warn­ings ?

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