Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 11 (1885–86), 418–27.
Mr. Wegg's Party on the Kissimmee
Henri Daugé, pseud. [Henrietta H Hammond]
Short Fiction, Travelogue
Gender, Natural History, Botany, Hunting, Natural Imperialism
The female narrator describes a hunting trip down the forbidding Kissimmee River in Southern Florida which 'no ladies had ever attempted [...] before', making occasional observations on the natural history of this 'remoter Southern country' (418). The enormous alligators that the party encounter in the Gum Swamp, for instance, make the 'night hideous by noises which were variously described by members of the party as "barking", "bellowing", "croaking", and "grunting"' (422), while the party also comes 'upon the true water-lily (Nymphæ odorata of the botanist), faintly fragrant, with its exquisite chalice of white and gold' (425). When one of the male hunters shoots an 'eight-foot' alligator, a female member of the party known as the 'Matron' demands to have the creature's skin and insists that it is killed 'with the prompt inconsequence of that sex which can even be cruel, it is said, when one offers to cross its will'. Her instructions to 'Cut off his head and sever the spine' are complied with by the men, and the 'monster, headless, moved a foot or thrust with its formidable tail now and then, but the horrified exclamations of the ladies were met with assurances that this was only muscular contraction'. (427)
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005-07
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