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HE ninth miracle of Theodore Roosevelt was his record as a mighty hunter. Hercules ex
celled in the chase; he put an arrow through the heart of a deer, and killed a lion with his club now and then; but as a hunter of big game he was an amateur when compared with Roosevelt. It is a rule of human nature and of history that the greatest workers have also been the most enthusiastic at play. Roosevelt's hunting trips were both a rest and a tonic to him in his great achievements.
The magnitude of the hunting spirit in him can be seen in the fact that eight books, or almost one-fourth of all that he wrote, are devoted to hunting or game. How proud he was as a boy at Harvard when he killed his first deer in the Adirondacks, and of its head which he put up in his room as a trophy. He tells this story of the killing of his first grizzly as recorded by Halstead in his life of Roosevelt:
When in the middle of the thicket we crossed what was almost a breastwork of fallen logs, and Merrifield, who was leading, passed by the upright stem of a great pine. As soon as he was by it, he sank suddenly on one knee, turn. ing half-round, his face fairly aflame with excitement; and as I strode past him, with my rifle at the ready, there, not ten steps off, was the great bear, slowly rising from his bed among the great spruces. He had heard us, but apparently hardly knew exactly where or what we were, for he reared up on his haunches sideways to us. Then he saw us and dropped down again on all fours, the shaggy hair on his neck and shoulders seemed to bristle as he turned toward us. As he sank down on his forefeet I had raised the rifle; his head was bent slightly down, and when I saw the top of the white head fairly between his small glittering evil eyes I pulled the trigger.
Half rising up, the huge beast fell over on his side in the death throes, the ball having gone into his brain, striking fairly between the eyes as if the distance had been measured by a carpenter's rule. The whole thing was over in twenty seconds from the time I caught sight of the game; indeed, it was over so quickly that the grizzly did not have time to show fight at all or come a step toward us. It was the first I had ever seen, and I felt not a little proud, as I stood over the great brindled bulk, which lay stretched out at length in the cool shade of the evergreens. He was a monstrous fellow, much larger than any I have seen since, whether alive or brought in dead by the hunters. As near as we could estimate (for of course we had nothing with which to weigh more than very small portions), he must have weighed about twelve hundred pounds.
After this he had more tragical experiences and narrow escapes, in one of which an angry beast rushed upon him so suddenly that, catching the limb of a tree, he swung over the back of the grizzly and thus saved his life. In his African Game Trails he gives this account of his killing of the first and second lions in one day:
Right in front of me, thirty yards of, there appeared from behind the bushes which had first screened him from my eyes, the tawny, galloping form of a big maneless lion. Crack! the Winchester spoke; and as the soft-nosed bullet ploughed forward through his flank the lion swerved so that I missed him with the second shot; but my third bullet went through the spine and forward into his chest. Down he came, sixty yards off, his hind quarters dragging, his head up, his ears back, his jaws open and lips drawn up in a prodigious snarl, as he endeavored to turn to face us. His back was broken; but of this we could not at the moment be sure, and if it had merely been grazed, he might have recovered, and then, even though dying, his charge might have done mischief. So Kermit, Sir Alfred Pease, and I fired, almost together, into his chest. His head sank, and he died.
He makes this mention also of the killing of the second lion that same day:
I was still unable to see the lion when I knelt, but he was now standing up, looking first at one group of horses and then at the other, his tail lashing to and fro, his head held low, and his lips dropped over his mouth in peculiar fashion, while his harsh and savage growling rolled thunderously over the plain. Seeing Simba and me on foot, he turned toward us, his tail lashing quicker and quicker. Resting my elbow on Simba's bent shoulder, I took steady aim and pressed the trigger; the bullet went in between the neck and shoulder, and the lion fell over on his side, one foreleg in the air. He recovered in a moment and stood up, evidently very sick, and once more faced me, growling hoarsely. I think he was on the eve of charging. I fired again at once, and this bullet broke his back just behind the shoulders; and with the next I killed him outright, after we had gathered round him.
R. J. Cunningham, Colonel Roosevelt's hunting companion in East Africa, tells this story of the kill. ing of a huge elephant:
The Colonel was determined to get an elephant, and a tusker at that. I told him what that meant, and how much risk there was, but he said he was willing to face it. Well, we found an elephant in a forest on Genia Mountain. We had been hunting for three days, and it was really hard work for a man of the Colonel's bulk in that heat and at that altitude, 11,000 feet. At last I caught sight through a thick bush of an elephant hide and tusk, about thirty-five I never
feet away, just enough to tell me it was a fine specimen. I pointed it out to the Colonel, and he fired with complete coolness and got the elephant in the ear and dropped him. As the shot went off the forest all around roared with trumpetings. We were in the midst of a herd of cows and young bulls, and one of the latter thrust his head through the bushes right over the Colonel's head. I was right behind him and fired at once and bowled it over. Then I rushed up to the Colonel and said: "Are you all right, sir ?" But I could see he was before I spoke. He hadn't turned a hair. At any moment the cows might have blun. dered through the bush over us, but he never thought of that. He went up to the old chap he had killed and gave it the coup-de-grâce, and then let himself loose. saw a man so boyishly jubilant.
With the utmost courage, with his companions he hunted and slew the most dangerous wild beasts known to man, such as lions, rhinos, buffalos, ele 'phants, and leopards. Some of his experiences were thrilling and the escapes narrow.
We have in our family a trophy of this African hunting trip, a paperknife made out of the skin of one of the rhinos Mr. Roosevelt killed himself, which he sent as a wedding present to our daughter with a beautiful letter of congratulation written in his own tiny handwriting, The knife looks exactly, as though it were made of yellow celluloid.
Colonel Roosevelt went to Africa, not only as a hunter of big game, but also as a lover of nature and an explorer, to secure scientific facts for permanent record.
Primarily he went out under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington to secure specimens of fauna and flora of that continent, and our Hercules planned the expedition in great magnitude, taking with him as companions scientific men to collect, secure, prepare and transport these specimens.
Besides he had an army of between three and four hundred savages. The nature and extent of the expedition of this modern Hercules can be seen by the following official report to the government:
KHARTUM, March 15, 1910. To the Hon. Charles Walcott, Secretary of the Smithsonian: SIR:
I have the honor to report that the Smithsonian 'African expedition which was entrusted to my charge has now completed its work. Full reports will be made later by the three naturalists, Messrs. Mearns, Heller and Loring. I send this preliminary statement to summarize what has been done; the figures given are substantially accurate, but may have to be changed slightly in the final reports.
We landed at Mombasa on April 21, 1909, and reached Khartum on March 21, 1910. On landing we were joined by Messrs. R. J. Cunningham and Leslie J. Tarlton; the former was with us throughout our entire trip, the latter until we left East Africa, and both worked as zealously and efficiently for the success of the expedition as any other member thereof.
We spent eight months in British East Africa. We col. lected carefully in various portions of the Athi and Kapiti plains, in the Sotik and round Lake Naivasha. Messrs. Mearns and Loring made a thorough biological survey of Mt. Kenia while the rest of the party skirted its western base, went to and up the Guaso. Nyero, and later visited the Guas Ngishu region and both sides of the Rift valley. Messrs. Kermit Roosevelt and Tarlton went to the Laikipia Plateau and Lake Hamington, and Dr. Mearns and Mr. Kermit Roosevelt made separate trips to the coast region near Mombasa. On December 19th the expedition left East 'Africa, crossed Uganda and went down the White Nile.
North of Wadelai we stopped and spent over three weeks in Lado, and from Gondokoro Mr. Kermit Roosevelt and I again crossed into the Lado, spending eight or ten days in the neighborhood of Rejaf. At Gondokoro we were met by the steamer which the Sirdar, with great courtesy, had put at our disposal. On the way to Khartum we made collections at Lake No and on the Bahr-el-Ghazel and Barel-Zeraf. We owe our warmest thanks for the generous courtesy shown us and the aid freely given us not only