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A Middy of the Slave Squadron by Harry Collingwood

And practically the same width


I

was by this time quite free from pain, and apart from a feeling of extreme debility, which I had endured for some hours on the previous day, I was not much the worse for the alarming experience that I had undergone. The death of the savage who had been bitten after me, and undoubtedly by the same reptile, conclusively proved how very narrow had been my escape from a similar fate; and I naturally fell to wondering how it was that he had succumbed to his injury while I had recovered from mine. For it seemed to me at the moment that the remedial measure which he had adopted ought, from its very severe and drastic character, to have proved much more efficacious than my own; whereas the opposite was the case. But upon further reflection I came to the conclusion that while I had proceeded to suck the poison from the wound _at once_, or within a second or two of its infliction, the savage had wasted at least a minute in pursuing and slaying his enemy before cauterising his wound, and that this minute of delay, accompanied as it was by somewhat violent action on the part of the injured man, had sufficed for the poison to obtain a strong enough hold upon his system to produce fatal results. Whether or not this is the correct explanation I must leave to those who are better qualified than myself to judge.

Day after day we steadily pursued our course up the river, which, for the most part, retained the same dreary, monotonous aspect of low, bush- clad,

mangrove-lined banks, and practically the same width, save where, at occasional intervals, it widened out and became dotted with islands, some of considerable size. At length we arrived at a point where the land on the western bank rose into a range of hills some eight or nine hundred feet high, densely clothed with vegetation to their summits. This range of hills extended northward for a distance of about thirty miles before it once more sank into the plain; but before it sank completely out of sight astern more high land was sighted ahead, and two days later we found ourselves navigating among some very picturesque scenery, with high land on both sides of us, some of the peaks being twelve to fourteen hundred feet high. Late in the evening of the second day after entering upon this picturesque stretch of the river we arrived at a point where the stream forked into two of apparently equal width and depth, one branch striking away to the eastward, while the other continued its northerly course. Here my savage companions proceeded with the utmost caution, frequently landing and sending one or two of the party away to reconnoitre, and otherwise behaving as though they feared attack; but after a slow and anxious progress of some twenty hours' duration they seemed to consider the danger as past, and once more pressed boldly forward.

By this time I had completely recovered, not only from the effects of the snake-bite--at which my companions seemed greatly astonished--but also from the hardship and privation which I had experienced during the latter part of my voyage aboard _La Mouette_, and had begun to think very seriously of how I was to effect my escape from those who held me captive. Not that I was ill-treated by them, far from it; I enjoyed the same fare as themselves, and was never asked to share their labours, and that, I take it, was as much good treatment as I could reasonably expect under the circumstances. But I


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