| Stories of the Gorilla Country|
|by Paul du Chaillu|
|Stories of the thrilling adventures and hair-raising escapes of Paul du Chaillu during his years of venturing into the interior of equatorial Africa, encountering animals and sights no white man had seen before. The accounts of his interactions with gorillas, snakes, and ants are especially engaging. Ages 11-14 |
MORE GORILLA STORIES
GORILLA HUNTING.—MY COMPANIONS MOMBON, ETIA, AND GAMBO.—ETIA KILLS A LARGER GORILLA.—WE MAKE UP A
LARGE PARTY.—CAMP STORIES ABOUT GORILLAS.—WE CAPTURE A YOUNG GORILLA.—HER UNTIMELY DEATH.
 QUENGUEZA had a slave named Mombon whom he loved greatly. Mombon was his overseer, chamberlain, steward, man of business, and
general factotum, the man whose place it was to take care of the king's private affairs, set his slaves to work, oversee
his plantations, and who had the care of the keys of the royal houses. Mombon was to see that I was made comfortable in
Quengueza had also another slave named Etia. Etia was his favorite hunter, and he gave him to me for a guide in the
bush. This Etia was a fine-looking old man, belonging to a tribe far in the interior, who had never heard that there was
such a thing as a white man in the world. He was living on a little plantation outside the town, where he had a neat
house, and a nice old wife, who always treated me in a kind, motherly way; she always had something to give me to eat.
Etia's business was to supply the royal larder with "bush meat," and he went out hunting almost every week for that
Etia and I became great friends, and loved each other
 much. I gave to Etia and to his wife many little presents, with which they always seemed very much pleased. Around the
house of Etia were arranged skulls of elephants, hippopotami, leopards, and gorillas, as trophies of his prowess.
Among the numerous guests of Quengueza was an Ashira chief, who had come on a visit to the king. He had a son called
Gambo, a noted hunter. Gambo was a very ill-looking fellow, but he had a fiery eye, great courage, and a kind heart. I
became very fond of Gambo, and Gambo became very fond of me. Sometimes Quengueza could not help saying to his people,
"See how hunters love each other, no matter if they come from different countries. See how my white man loves the black
hunters." In fact, we were always together. I had never seen the Ashira tribe to which Gambo belonged.
One day we had been going through the woods about three hours when at last we came upon fresh gorilla tracks. Etia now
set out alone, while Gambo and I walked silently in another direction. The gorilla is so difficult to approach that we
had literally to creep through the thick woods when in their vicinity. The hunter can not expect to see his enemy till
he is close upon him. The forest is so thick and gloomy that even when quite near the animal is but dimly visible. All
this makes hunting for the gorilla very trying to the nerves; for it is in the hunter's mind that if he misses—if
his bullet does not go to the most fatal point—the wounded and infuriated brute will make short work of his
As we crept silently along, suddenly the woods
re-  sounded with the report of a gun. We sped at once toward the quarter whence the report came, and there we found old Etia
sitting complacently upon the dead body of the largest female gorilla I ever saw. The total height of the animal was
four feet seven inches. This was a huge gorilla for a female, for they are always much smaller than the males.
Another time we made up a large party. We were to go a considerable distance to a spot where Etia gave me hopes that we
should catch a young gorilla alive. I would have gone through any hardship and peril to get one large enough to be kept
alive, and to be sent to Europe.
Etia, Gambo, myself, and ten men composed our party. Each was armed, and laden with provisions for a couple of days. The
men were covered with fetiches. They had painted their faces red, and had cut their hands in more than fifty different
places. This bleeding of the hands was done for luck. The fellows were nearly naked; but this is their usual habit.
As for me, I had also made extra preparations. I had blackened my face and hands with powdered charcoal and oil; and my
blue drilling shirt and trowsers and black shoes made me as dark as any of them. My revolvers hung at my side, with my
ammunition bag and brandy flask; my rifle lay upon my shoulder. All this excited the admiration of the crowd which
assembled to see us go out.
Quengueza was greatly delighted, and exclaimed, "What kind of ntangani (white man) is this? He fears nothing; he cares
for neither sun nor water; he loves nothing but the hunt."
 The old king charged the people to take great care of his white man, and to defend him with their lives, if need be.
We traveled all day, and about sunset came to a little river. Here we began at once to make a fire and build leafy
shelters for the night Scarcely was the fire-wood gathered, and we were safely bestowed under our shelter, when a storm
came up which lasted half an hour. Then all was clear once more. We cooked plantains and smoked some dried fishes.
In the evening the men told stories about gorillas.
"I remember," said one, "my father told me he once went out to the forest, when just in his path he met a great gorilla.
My father had his spear in his hand. When the gorilla saw the spear he began to roar; then my father was terrified, and
dropped the spear. When the gorilla saw that my father had dropped the spear he was pleased. He looked at him, and then
left him and went into the thick forest. Then my father was glad, and went on his way."
Here all shouted together, "Yes; so we must do when we meet the gorilla. Drop the spear; that appeases him."
Next Gambo spoke. "Several dry seasons ago a man suddenly disappeared from my village after an angry quarrel. Some time
after an Ashira of that village was out in the forest. He met a very large gorilla. That gorilla was the man who had
disappeared; he had turned into a gorilla. He jumped on the poor Ashira, and bit a piece out of his arm; then he let him
go. Then the man came back with his bleeding arm. He told me this. I hope we shall not meet such gorillas."
 Chorus—"No; we shall not meet such wicked gorillas."
I myself afterward met that man in the Ashira country. I saw his maimed arm, and he repeated the same story.
Then one of the men spoke up: "If we kill a gorilla to-morrow, I should like to have a part of the brain for a fetich.
Nothing makes a man so brave as to have a fetich of gorilla's brain. That gives a man a strong heart."
Chorus of those who remained awake—"Yes; that gives a man a strong heart."
Then we all gradually dropped to sleep.
Next morning we cleaned and reloaded our guns, and started off for the hunting ground. There is a particular little
berry of which the gorilla is very fond, and where this is found in abundance you are sure to meet the animal.
We had divided. Etia, Gambo, two other men, and I kept together, and we had hardly gone more than an hour when we heard
the cry of a young gorilla after his mother. Etia heard it first, and at once pointed out the direction in which it was.
Immediately we began to walk with greater caution than before. Presently Etia and Gumbo crept ahead, as they were expert
with the net, and were also the best woodsmen. I unwillingly remained behind, but dared not go with them, lest my
clumsier movements should betray our presence. In a short time we heard two guns fired. Running up, we found the mother
gorilla shot, but her little one had escaped; they had not been able to catch it.
 The poor mother lay there in her gore, but the little fellow was off in the woods; so we concealed ourselves hard by to
wait for its return. Presently it came up, jumped on its mother, and began sucking at her breasts and fondling her. Then
Etia, Gambo, and I rushed upon it. Though evidently less than two years old, it proved very strong, and escaped from us.
But we gave chase, and in a few minutes had it fast, not, however, before one of the men had his arm severely bitten by
the savage little beast.
It proved to be a young female. Unhappily, she lived but ten days after capture. She persistently refused to eat any
cooked food, or any thing else except the nuts and berries which they eat in the forest. She was not so ferocious as
"Fighting Joe," but was quite as treacherous and quite as untamable. She permitted no one to approach her without trying
to bite. Her eyes seemed somewhat milder than Joe's, but had the same gloomy and treacherous look, and she had the same
way as Joe of looking you straight in the eyes when she was meditating an attack. I remarked in her also the same
manœuvre practiced by the other when she wished to seize something—my leg, for instance, which, by reason of the
chain around her neck, she could not reach with her arm. She would look me straight in the face, then quick as a flash
would throw her body on one leg and one arm, and reach out with the other leg. Several times I had narrow escapes from
the grip of her strong big toe. I thought sometimes that when she looked at me she appeared cross-eyed, but of this I
could not make certain. All her motions were remarkably quick, and her strength was very great, though she was so small.
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