This is a strange story that happened a few years ago. Rarely has there been an animal story quite like it.
In Malaya a fisherman was washing himself in a river when a crocodile slipped up, seized him by the middle, and dragged him in the deep water.
The fisherman knew at once that his chance of escaping death was not one in ten thousand. But he kept his wits about him, and before the crocodile could drag him under, he filled his lungs with air. He knew the crocodile would soon come to the surface again to get a better hold on him, and when that happened, he took another deep breath.
The crocodile had not hurt him with his teeth, but held him much as a cat would hold a mouse.
Soon the man found that he was being pushed under the arching roots of a mangrove tree, into the crocodile’s lunchbox! Desperately he needed another breath, but he was still entirely under water. He held onto the roots about him for a second or two and the crocodile backed away. Then he made his way quickly to the surface through and around those mangrove roots. At last he could get his nose above the water.
He filled his lungs with air, but found he could not get out of the water through the thick mat of roots. He was trapped.
He knew his friends were looking for him, but night was coming on, and they would never find him in the dark. If he was going to save his life, he would have to escape quickly, as at any moment the crocodile might come back for him. He must risk diving down out of the place the way he had been nosed in.
Before diving, he noticed a great commotion in the water. His captor was fighting another crocodile. As he watched, the fighting crocodiles moved out into midstream. Now was his chance!
Gulping air, he dropped down through the roots to the bottom of the river, then up to the top of the water. On dry land at last, he leaped into a tall mangrove tree, and did not stop until he was at the top.
There his friends found him in the morning, and what a story he had to tell them!
By Bert Rhoads
Reprinted from the June 20, 1956 issue of Guide.