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31. CHAPTER THIRTY-FIRST. (continued)
"And what do you say to yon herd of gazelles, and those ostriches, that run with the speed of the wind?" resumed Kennedy.
"Those ostriches?" remonstrated Joe, again; "those are chickens, and the greatest kind of chickens!"
"Come, doctor, can't we get down nearer to them?" pleaded Kennedy.
"We can get closer to them, Dick, but we must not land. And what good will it do you to strike down those poor animals when they can be of no use to you? Now, if the question were to destroy a lion, a tiger, a cat, a hyena, I could understand it; but to deprive an antelope or a gazelle of life, to no other purpose than the gratification of your instincts as a sportsman, seems hardly worth the trouble. But, after all, my friend, we are going to keep at about one hundred feet only from the soil, and, should you see any ferocious wild beast, oblige us by sending a ball through its heart!"
The Victoria descended gradually, but still keeping at a safe height, for, in a barbarous, yet very populous country, it was necessary to keep on the watch for unexpected perils.
The travellers were then directly following the course of the Shari. The charming banks of this river were hidden beneath the foliage of trees of various dyes; lianas and climbing plants wound in and out on all sides and formed the most curious combinations of color. Crocodiles were seen basking in the broad blaze of the sun or plunging beneath the waters with the agility of lizards, and in their gambols they sported about among the many green islands that intercept the current of the stream.
It was thus, in the midst of rich and verdant landscapes that our travellers passed over the district of Maffatay, and about nine o'clock in the morning reached the southern shore of Lake Tchad.
There it was at last, outstretched before them, that Caspian Sea of Africa, the existence of which was so long consigned to the realms of fable--that interior expanse of water to which only Denham's and Barth's expeditions had been able to force their way.
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