The Bafut Beagles
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In The Bafut Beagles Gerald Durrell describes a collecting expedition to the Cameroons, where with the assistance of a pack of African enthusiasts and mongrel dogs he captured almost everything from flying mice to booming squirrels. The unconscious humour of a supercilious toad or a hypocritical chimpanzee is only surpassed by the electric charm of the convivial Fon of Bafut himself.
raised our glasses,- chinked them together, beamed at one another, and then drank deeply. The Fon filled up the glasses again, and then sent one of his numerous retinue in search of a fresh bottle. By the time we had worked our way through most of this bottle we had mellowed considerably, and the Fon turned to me: you like musica? he inquired. yes, too much, I said, truthfully, for I had heard that the Fon possessed a band of more than usual skill. Good! We go have some musica, he said, and
their hands over their mouths, patting their lips and hooting, producing a noise that I, in my ignorance, had thought to be the prerogative of the Red Indian. We made our way through the doors, passages, and tiny courtyards, the concourse filing behind, still clapping and hooting. As we came out of the archway into the main courtyard there arose from the multitude a deafening roar of approval, accompanied by clapping and drumming. Amid this tumultuous reception the Fon and I walked along the wall
on the veranda I was in an elevated vantage point that commanded an excellent view of the road and the Fon’s courtyard and houses. Peering through the tattered fringe of bougainvillaea, I could watch the movements of the Fon’s numerous wives, offspring, and councillors, and the constant comings and goings of the Bafut population on the road. From the veranda I observed many a scene enacted below me, and by reaching out a hand for my field-glasses I could bring the actors so close that every
caught. If they caught nothing they were to come again early the following morning. Then I distributed cigarettes, and they wandered off down the road, talking earnestly to each other, and pointing their guns in all directions with great abandon. That evening one of the four young men turned up again carrying a small basket. He squatted down and gazed at me 22 : sorrowfully while he explained that he and his companions had not had very good luck with their hunting. They had been a
the liquid inside until I had frozen the maggot into immobility; then, with a scalpel, I enlarged the porthole slightly, stabbed the maggot with the end of the needle and withdrew it from its lair. As I pulled the wrinkled white horror out of the bloodstained hole, my helper left me suddenly and precipitately. I removed the second maggot, disinfected the gaping holes they had left and then joined her at the other side of the camp clearing. She explained that she was late for a lunch date,