**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Explorer
by [?]

“I have often imagined you, as you kept watch over your camp,” she went on, “and I have seemed myself to hear the savages and lions roaring outside the circle of fire, what time in the swamps the crocodiles were barking.”

“Yes,” he said.

“It must be a wonderful life.”


“If I were a man I should want to lead such a life; to get away from all this,” and she waved her hand round the room, “back to Nature. To know that I could not eat until I had first killed my dinner; that I could not live unless I slew the enemy! That must be fine!”

“Yes,” said Worrall.

“I cannot get Freddy to see it. He is quite content to have shot a few grouse … and once to have wounded a beater. There must be more in life than that.”


“I suppose I am elemental. Beneath the veneer of civilization I am a savage. To wake up with the war-cry of the enemy in my ears, to sleep with the–er–barking of the crocodile in my dreams, that is life!”

Worrall Brice tugged at his moustache and gazed into space over her head. Then he spoke.

“Crocodiles don’t bark,” he said.

Jocelyn looked at him in astonishment. “But in your book, Through Trackless Paths!” she cried. “I know it almost by heart. It was you who taught me. What are the beautiful words? ‘On the banks of the sleepy river two great crocodiles were barking.'”

“Not ‘barking,'” said Worrall. “‘Basking.’ It was a misprint.”

“Oh!” said Jocelyn. She had a moment’s awful memory of all the occasions when she had insisted that crocodiles barked. There had been a particularly fierce argument with Meta Richards, who had refused to weigh even the printed word of Worrall Brice against the silence of the Reptile House on her last visit to the Zoo.

“Well,” smiled Jocelyn, “you must teach me about these things. Will you come and see me?”

“Yes,” said Worrall. He rather liked to stand and gaze into the distance while pretty women talked to him. And Jocelyn was very pretty.

“We live in South Kensington. Come on Sunday, won’t you? 99 Peele Crescent.”

“Yes,” said Worrall.

. . . . .

On Sunday Jocelyn waited eagerly for him in the drawing-room of Peele Crescent. Her father was asleep in the library, her mother was dead; so she would have the great man to herself for an afternoon. Later she would have him for always, for she meant to marry him. And when they were married she was not so sure that they would live with the noise of the crocodile barking or coughing, or whatever it did, in their ears. She saw herself in that little house in Green Street with the noise of motor-horns and taxi-whistles to soothe her to sleep.

Yet what a man he was! What had he said to her? She went over all his words…. They were not many.

At six o’clock she was still waiting in the drawing-room at Peele Crescent….

At six-thirty Worrall Brice had got as far as Peele Place….

At six-forty-five he found himself in Radcliffe Square again….

At seven o’clock, just as he was giving himself up for lost, he met a taxi and returned to St. James’s Street. He was a great traveller, but South Kensington had been too much for him.

Next week he went back unmarried to the jungle. It was the narrowest escape he had had.