Chapter 36 Summary
Fritz, Jack, and young Franz plan another hunting trip on their own. Just before they leave, their father notices Jack has slipped a basket with several pigeons onto the cart. He says nothing, believing Jack has done so as backup for food. Although pigeon meat is not tasty, the father surmises it is better than nothing.
The boys leave with the buffalo and the bull pulling the wagon in which Fritz and Franz ride. Jack has chosen to ride his ostrich, Hurricane, and is far ahead of them. Fawn and Bruno are the two dogs that accompany them.
After their departure, the father and Ernest continue constructing a sugar mill. The father notices Ernest seems to be hiding a smile, as if he has a secret. Later, when the father wonders what the boys might be doing, Ernest says they might be hearing news. Immediately, they hear a bird alight on the dovecote, the pigeons' housing structure. The father cannot see whether the bird is one of theirs, so Ernest says he will make sure everything is all right. When he returns, he hands his father a scrap of paper, a note Fritz attached to the pigeon's leg.
The note details a hyena attack that has killed one of their rams and two lambs at one of the family's outposts. The dogs caught the hyena, and the boys killed it. The father is glad his boys are doing well but is most excited they have devised a way to communicate while they are gone. Ernest says the next message might arrive in the evening.
Hearing of the note, Elizabeth is not as happy as her husband. She would rather hear all the news at once, upon her sons' return. In that way, there would be less suspense because her boys would be safely home. Nonetheless, they look forward to each new message.
After a couple of days, the family receives another message, very urgent. One of the family's huts has been completely destroyed and the cultivated fields around it are trampled and ruined. There are huge footmarks everywhere. Although safe, they urge their father to come as soon as he can because they are concerned that the unknown danger is too big for them to handle on their own.