In these regions I gathered some information about the huge serpent of which one hears occasionally in Borneo, called sahua by the Malays, and which, according to accounts, may attain a length of seven or eight metres. It is able to remain long under water, moves slowly on land, and can climb trees. Deer and pigs are its usual food, but at times it attacks and eats natives.
After exactly six hours Fabbrizia was reached a large place whose name, like that of Borgia, Savelli, Carafa and other villages on these southern hills, calls up associations utterly non-Calabrian; Fabbrizia, with pretentious new church and fantastically dirty side-streets. It lies at the respectable elevation of 900 metres, on the summit of a monstrous landslide which has disfigured the country.
We had barely got to ten metres, when loud cries from below and the disquieting noise of rushing water told me that something was wrong. I blew all tanks, surfaced, left the First Lieutenant on watch and went below. There were five centimetres of water on the battery boards, and I understood at once that we could never dive again.
It was a most fairy-like sight; the large cascade with its half-lying statues of the Seine and the Loire; the lower cascade beneath; the fountain rising twenty-seven metres; the large square basin with the ten little shell-shaped basins and the nine fountains spurting from gilded masques; the green lawns, the flower-beds, the shrubbery, all lit up by the blazing fireworks.
But the beech tree, having deviated a little, only rubbed against his loins, throwing him on his face, five metres away. The workmen dashed forward to lift him up. He had already arisen to his knees, stupefied, with bewildered eyes and passing his hand across his forehead, as if he were awaking from an attack of madness.
I assured them I would observe the same rule in my writings, and should always give the preference to business, before pleasure; to serious engagements before amusing ones; and to my friends before myself. The poems I recited consisted of a variety of subjects in different metres. It is thus that we who dare not rely for much upon our abilities endeavour to avoid satiating our readers.
A few hours later, thinking the natives might be coming, we got our arms ready: each of us had a revolver and a repeating rifle, the boys had old Sniders. The cutter lay about 200 mètres off-shore, and we could see everything that was going on on the beach. Behind the flat, stony shore the forest-covered hills rose in a steep cliff to a tableland about 100 mètres high.
But though I have wholly deserted the practice of poetry, and though I can by no means claim to be reckoned a poet, I do not in the least regret the years I gave to it. In the first place it was an intense pleasure to write. The cadences, the metres, the language, the rhymes, all gave me a rapturous delight.
It was another surprise, and our last, this snowy reef with jagged crest, at least 500 metres long, forming the finest display of an exposed filon we had as yet seen; but the first glance told us that it had been worked. We gave the rest of the day to studying and blasting the quartz-wall.
The wells of the Sahara are from twenty to eighty metres deep.-Desor, Die Sahara, Basel, 1871, p. 43. The ancient Egyptians were acquainted with the art of boring artesian wells. Ayme, a French engineer in the service of the Pacha of Egypt, found several of these old wells, a few years ago, in the oases.