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CrocodileCrocodiles were hunted for sport and it was very profitable to kill for skins. In a short span of sixty years, these magnificent animals that had survived for millions of years were almost wiped out. The Mason boys weren’t hunters but they certainly helped in the Crocodile demise as I will shortly explain.

But first I would like to go back to Mum and her superb education. She regularly quoted and taught me chunks of Shakespeare and recited Rudyard Kipling. Even in her final days in hospital, we sat reading and she recited Gunga Din flawlessly from start to finish.

One of her poems was Kipling’s ‘The Undertakers.’

The Undertakers

Is there a green branch and an iron ring

Hanging over a doorway?

The old mugger knows that a boy has

Been born in that house, and must some day

Come down to the Ghaut to play. Is a

Maiden married? The old Mugger knows

For he sees the men carry gifts back and

Forth; and she, too, must come down to the

Ghaut to bathe before her wedding and

- He is there.

Whether the Mason Brigade was familiar with Kipling’s poem, again I don’t know, but even if they were, they had no fear of crocodiles; not the sacred cold blooded hunting Muggers or the fish eating Gharyals. I once remember reading that the charge of a crocodile is an awesome spectacle and if you are at the water’s edge and see a big crocodile well out of the water suddenly disappear, it’s time to move away. But I am sure the Mason Brigade knew exactly what to do when they went out to play on the river banks.

‘Let’s go and smash some crocs eggs,’ one of them would cry, according to Basil. So after the female spent considerable time nest building by excavating deep sandy holes on the river bank, then subsequently laying her duck sized eggs several weeks later, along came the boys. And in one fell swoop, they quickly unearthed the eggs and started a game of ‘Egg Balls’ with them.

‘It was great fun and we always kept an eye open for the mother crocodile. As soon as we heard her growl we ran hell for leather as she chased us,’ he said.

Listening to these stories, it would seem that Basil had nine lives and regularly used them up.

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The Story of Beatrice Mary Mason. Written by F. J. Louis | Copyright © 2009