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 Post subject: VICTORIA FALLS
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 9:01 pm 
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Joined: July 3rd, 2003, 11:15 am
Posts: 904
Location: on the edge of the big blue
" The Rainbow of the Morning "

"Not often are human plans and hopes realized as now."
But my voice is not heard. The voice of the Floods only,
fills the golden air behind. Before us, below us, tempest and
fury, mists and spray, death and destruction !

Our camp is in the Palm-grove near— yes, within sound of
the Falls, just as I had designed in London ! But London,
and all else, has become a dream, a tale that is told— just
a nightmare of a dream, of hideous noises, motor- 'buses,
hoots, chatter, cries various. That was life on earth, but we
have all surely died and are not on earth now ? or such is
the impression. Pigmies, and unreal to ourselves, we stand,
and gaze down and across, and unreal even becomes our
camp at the Zambesi edge hard by, where, but for the water-
thunder, the musical knock of tent-mallets might be heard,
as our happy, dusky servants chatter and erect our tents,
while others wash up cups and things in the rapids— so
swirling, so white, and always, always hurrying by to see
the sight beyond.

We had all left our Livingstone camp that morning ; tent
life is now our portion for long months to come. Our caravan
I, with two servants, had soon left behind, and we had struck
on into the forest, already moist with the spray of the " Five
Fingers " ahead— five foam-columns which rise eternally
into the blue.

Into the dream is woven my journey along the Zambesi
bank and how we pushed through the forest to find the river,
feeling like discoverers, explorers, and I picturing all the joy
and wonder of David Livingstone as he too pushed on, years
agone, wondering what lay ahead.

Suddenly Hymn-Book, ahead of me, stopped in his dignified
walk, held up his black hand, smiled, listened, and said,
" The Smoking Waters sing close, missis." I could not reply,
for as he bent back a branch for me to pass through to the
river-edge, my eyes absorbed my being and I had no words
left in me.

Away, softly, gently, rushed past us the fairy river, the
silver-and-blue Zambesi ! Broad it was, and quiet just here,
cool to the ear and lovely to the eye. Its solitary opposite
shore was a mile away ; its little emerald, palm-grown islands
between, looked as if floating on the water ; its edges were
fringed with gentle palms and bamboo and other sweet foliage
-and all, dear river, just as God made thee ! Not a boat,
not a human figure, not a hut-all as lonely, as untouched,
as if we had alighted on to the moon and discovered a moon-
river on it flowing into eternity.

The dream proceeded, we moving along the banks as if
led by the Spirit of the Waters. The very forest seemed to
sing now with gladness, and all the birds too. The scene is
changing. The music of an anthem is on the air. As the
thunder sound ahead of us grew, pealing higher to heaven,
and yet higher, the waters of the river hurried faster to its
call -'they broke into angry little rapids which tome sounded
impatiently, " Don't stop us, don't stop us ! We go to our
doom ! " and long before the Wonder of the World bursts
upon my view the earth under my hurrying feet is shaking
with its voice, " the voice of many waters."

The familiar faces of the rest of my party here appear to
have joined me, and I to have taken some one's hand and said, " Let us see it together, we shall never see such again."

It is the moment of a lifetime, something never to be
forgotten. . . .

This impresses itself dimly upon me. . . . Drink it all
in. . . . This one hour of joy, can never, shall never, return.

Now one finds oneself as in standing upon a mighty cliff
at the head of an abyss, well called " The Devil's Boiling
Pot." The very trees rock.

Here Dante might have stood and seen lost souls hurled
down into everlasting fire, hidden beneath the Shouting
Cataracts, which fall for one mile in length ahead of you into
their narrow cavern below — a dim, fearful vision of pointed
black rocks, now revealed, now hidden in bellowing surf
shooting up foam and spray nearly half a mile high.

The Wonder of the World lies before us. Surely eye hath
not seen nor ear beard such sight nor sound before ?

One attempts to lay hold of a slender sapling and glance
down, but the senses reel, for one slip, and annihilation would
be one's certain doom.

Upon the opposite cliff, densely wooded, and so close that,
but for the uproar, one could shout across, stand two figures,
staggering on a small promontor}'- of green grass against the
wind and the noise and the blinding spray. It is all so unreal
that they do not seem part of earth, but doomed creatures
who sinned ages ago and are suffering their endless punish-
ment. Soon pale hands may come up from the abyss and
draw them down, and so they cling to each other ; and the
Woman hides her face.

Through the roar I hear one of our party, who somehow
knows all about it, saying, as if from a long way off, " That
is Danger Point. . . . The green, wet forest on the cliff
farther on is the Rain Forest . . . there you must go wrapped
in waterproofs or oilskins, or else get wet to the skin. . . .
Maidenhair fern grows in it thickly, and the Falls rush down
the opposite chasm so very close that you could throw a
rope across. Then comes the ' Leaping Water ' Fall — in
many ways the grandest of all. The whole volume of that
part of the river literally leaps in one body over the cliff
upon you, as it were. You draw bock terrified . . . yet the
water is like liquid diamonds and gold."

"Let us go and see it," I breathe ; and so we pass round
the chasm-edge, ever and anon again leaning fearfully over,
holding our breath. Into the Devil's Glen we go, climbing
down, and see laughing monkeys swing from branch to branch
on monster trees far over our heads. Seeing the O 'Flaherty
standing admiring the leafy roof over his head, while we
stand above, he looks like a little toy-man in a giant
forest. We arrive at the narrow gorge through which pours
the whole expanse of water from the Falls. A strange, weird
quietness prevails here. The water boils, but quietly, as if it
knew the depths below (said to be unfathomable) but meant
to keep it a secret to itself. The great, the wonderful, Zambesi
Bridge spans the space from cliff to cliff far above our heads,
eight hundred feet high — a stupendous, yet fairy-like struc-
ture ; and soon we are climbing to the top of the cliff again
and now are in the Rain Forest. As we walk in this Wonder-
land of Eternal Rain and Eternal Sun combined, we each find
we are walking in a rainbow of our own, lovely little arches
which seem to move on while we move, and smaller baby
rainbows hang over our heads as if caught in every branch.
The soft, steady gush of the rain here (lasting now for cen-
turies) has caused fern-life to flourish in profusion. Maiden-
hair, hung with liquid jewels, borrowing colours from the
countless rainbows, makes a carpet that human feet seem
almost to desecrate.

Pink and crimson and yellow mushrooms will surely soon
(in this wondrous dream we arc walking in) have an elf or sprite sitting on each, with a small umbrella to keep its golden hair dry?

The Rain Forest ends, and we emerge into hot sunshine
now, and are opposite the " Leaping-Water " Fall. It seems
to threaten you — it is so impetuous, so angry, so vast, so
destructive A canoe went over a few days ago and was match-
wood before it even reached the cliff, and then was seen no
more. A native may have been in it — no one knows, or ever
will. At least he had a glorious grave. Who could wish a
grander funeral-dirge than this one of the ages, pealing forth
for all time to come ?

We return to the camp along the cliffs again, and it is
growing dusk ; the Falls shine white as snow opposite us,
night advancing behind them, and a moon at her second
quarter, like a slender silver boat, seems to be rocking in a
violet sea overhead, while a lunar rainbow hangs palely
over the chasm.

Stars are appearing as we turn the bend in the Palm Grove
and pause to see our whole camp lit by a monster log-fire,
silhouetted against the forest spreading on all sides around.
How quiet, how dark in the shadows it is here ! The thunder
of the Falls is behind us now. We shall sleep well.
to-night.

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Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass...


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 Post subject: Re: VICTORIA FALLS
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 10:08 pm 
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Joined: January 20th, 2003, 7:00 pm
Posts: 12090
Location: Simcoe County, Ontario
Adventures beyond the Zambesi of the O'Flaherty: the Insular Miss; the Soldier man; and the Rebel-woman (1913)

http://www.archive.org/stream/adventure ... t_djvu.txt

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