The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Friday, August 20, 2010

How Not To Be Eaten

You can learn a lot from old books. In Explorations and Adventures of Henry M. Stanley, published 1891, on pages 152-154, you may learn how not to be eaten by an angry lion. For this exercise you will need a "clever native" (to quote the narrator directly) who will use a number of dry reeds and other inflammable matter to flush an angry lion out of deep cover. You will also need a panicky hunting party with horses who fire their guns in all directions at first sight of the flushed lion, one member who keeps his [or her I suppose] head, heavy boots, a tame ox, water and eau-de-cologne, a wide-awake hat, a door, and a brave dog. Once you have gathered these essentials, head for the African bush, find your lion, and prepare not to be eaten. I will let the narrator explain.

"In the Jaws of the Infuriated Beast

Quick as thought, the enraged animal left his first intended victim [a member of the party paralyzed by fear who was not firing at said lion, which was preparing to leap at him ... until the narrator fired one shot intended to hit the animal head on but only grazed him] and turned with a ferocious growl upon me. To escape was impossible. I thrust, therefore, no other resource being left me, the muzzle of my own gun into the extended jaws opened to devour me. In a moment the weapon was demolished [see how useful this is ... you can save your gun now, knowing that unloaded its barrel will not stop the lion]. My fate seemed inevitable, when, just at this critical juncture, I was unexpectedly rescued. One of my men fired, and broke the lion's shoulder. He fell, and, taking advantage of this lucky incident, I scampered away at full speed. But my assailant had not yet done with me. Despite his crippled condition he soon overtook me. [Okay, now we've learned two essential things. First, scampering is no replacement for full out, panic induced sprinting and second that you don't mess around with lions. If you intend to shoot a lion, do not wing it, do not shoot it in the shoulder. These things only make the animal justifiably angry!] At that moment I was looking over my shoulder, when unhappily, a creeper caught my foot and I was precipitated headlong to the ground. [More vital information: always watch where you are going, not where the lion is, when scampering away. There's nothing worse than being precipitated when attempting to escape pursuit!] In another instant the lion had transfixed my right foot with his murderous fangs. Finding, however, my left foot disengaged, I gave the brute a severe kick on the head, which compelled him for a few seconds to suspend his attack. [See how important heavy boots are? Running shoes would neither have held up against murderous fangs, nor would they make a lion let go if you kick with one of them, being so cushy and all.]

He next seized my left leg, on which I repeated the former dose on his head with my right foot; he once more, thereupon, let go his hold, but seized my right foot a second time. Shortly afterward he dropped the foot and grasped my right thigh, gradually working his way up to my hip, where he endeavored to plant his claws. [Note this: lions are no dummies. This lion is working his way up the narrator's leg, making it impossible for the narrator to kick him in the head again!] In this he partially succeeded, tearing, in the attempt, my trousers and body linen, and grazing the skin of my body. Knowing that if he got a firm hold of me here it would surely cost me my life, I quickly seized hm by his two ears, and, with a desperate effort, managed to roll him on his side, which gave me a moment's respite. [Ear grabbing is effective against enraged lions. Remember that. A Three Stooges eye poke may also be of use.]

See the friend, the lion, the narrator and the brave dog?
Hair-breadth Escape from a Terrible Death:

He next laid hold of my left hand, which he bit through and through, smashing the wrist, and tearing my right hand seriously. [Okay... so the ear pulling isn't such a good idea after all.] I was now totally helpless, and must inevitably have fallen a speedy victim to his fury had not prompt assistance been at hand. In my prostrate position I observed, and a gleam of hope sprung up, my friend advancing quickly toward me. The lion saw him too, and, with one of his paws on my wounded thigh, throwing his ears well back, he crouched, ready to spring at his new assailant. Now, if my friend had fired, in my present position I should have run great risk of being hit by the bullet [Good thing the narrator's friend wasn't a certain former vice president]; I hallooed out to him, therefore, to wait until I could veer my head a little. [Hallooing and veering will save your brain from your friend's bullets.] In time I succeeded, and the next instant I heard the click of the gun, but no report.

Another moment, and a well-directed ball, taking effect in his forehead, laid the lion a corpse alongside my own bruised and mutilated body. Quick as lightning, I now sprang to my fee, and darted forward toward my companions, whom I saw at no great distance. [See that, darting beats scampering. Dart away from the angry lion, not looking back, and save yourself much misery and ear pulling.] Once or twice I felt excessively faint, but managed, nevertheless, to keep my head up.

No sooner had my companion so successfully finished the lion than he mounted a horse hard by, and galloped off in the direction of our camp. In the meantime I was lifted upon a tame ox, which was led by a man preceding us. At about half-way to our camp two of my men came to assist me, bringing with them, to refresh me, some water and a bottle of eau-de-cologne. A drinking-cup we had not, but the crown of a wide-awake hat was a good substitute for one, and I drank the mixture of the two liquids greedily off. A few minutes afterward we were met by some of the servants carrying a door. Exchanging then my ox for this more commodious conveyance, I was carefully borne into camp. Up to this time I had retained perfect self-possession, but the moment my wounds were washed and dressed I swooned, and for three entire weeks remained in a state of complete unconsciousness. I have since perfectly recovered health, but, as you see, I am totally crippled in my left arm.

I must not omit to mention that my brave dog, although shot through one of his fore-legs [These guys are lousy hunters, shooting everything except the lion, including the long-suffering brave dog!], on seeing the lion rush upon me, came forward at the best of his speed, and in his turn sprang upon my grim assailant, and clung desperately to him until my companion's bullet put an end to the combat. [So, brave and clinging dogs are not so effective against lion attack. That's good to remember ... although I suppose a dog who hadn't already been shot by his own hunters might have put up a better fight.]

Encounters similar to this are the fate of all travelers in some parts of Africa, and many were Livingstone's narrow escapes upon this journey."

There you have it. That is how not to be eaten by a lion! I wish the narrator had been more specific as to which parts of Africa travelers should avoid, however. I think I'll just stay home.

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