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Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

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PAUL R.A.TCLIFFE'S ADVENTURES.

Newyddion
Dyfynnu
Rhannu

PAUL R.A.TCLIFFE'S ADVENTURES. A STORY OF WILD LIFE. -+-- CHAPTER IV. I CONSIDERED myself fortunate in having hit upon Peter Marburg; for he not only let me have as good a lot of oxen as could be found anywhere, but he also let me have them at a lower figure than I had ex- pected. And one other thing worked well for us. As Harry and I were making arrangements for getting the oxen to Port Elizabeth, two of the Boer's men came and offered their services. They were Hottentots, but had had so much intercourse with the people upon the coast that they had become decent, and even respect- able, in their habits. They had been at work for Mar- burg several years. You will want a driver," said one of them, whose name was Jot. He was an intelligent-looking fellow, with the high cheek bones and closely knotted hair pe- culiar to his race, but with an expression of civilisa- tion upon his countenance that entirely overcame the brutish look so common to the natives of that clime. I told him we should probably need two drivers. "Then take me and Sunam," he said. At this the second Hottentot grinned and bowed. He was larger of frame than Jot, and eemed almost as intelligent. I told them I would speak with their master. I ex- pected that the old Boer would object to their leaving him; but he did not. He said he had sold off a great toany of his cattle, and should sell more, and he could spare Jot and Sunam without inconvenience. And he furthermore assured me that I should not find two better drivers, or more faithful servants in the colony. After this I had little further hesitation. I talked awhile with the fellows, and then hired them; and when the bargain had been made, I believed I bad se- cured drivers who would not desert me in the first hour of danger. We returned to Port Elizabeth with our cattle- twenty-six in number-where we found that Andrew had purchased nearly all the small stores we should need. Oar next object was to look up two wagons, for it had been decided that we should need them. | They were easily found, though we had to pay a good price for them. However, they were now and well made, and, as it afterwards proved, we were fortunate in securing them, for a party of Englishmen, pur- chased two cheaper ones, which broke down when about two hundred miles from the coast. These wagons were simple in construction; and though loosely made, to accommodate themselves to the uneven track over which they must work, yet they were strong and lasting. The body, resting upon four wheels, was sixteen feet in length bv four feet in Width, with sidp8 thirty inches high. Upon the out- side of the rails were stout iron staples, placed eighteen inches apart, in which were fixed the boughs that formed the top. These boughs were drawn over and bound at the top, forming a series of arches, upon Which rested the final covering of thick waterproof canvas. Within these wagons we had our beds, and chests, and mess-tables; and though not very easy to side in, when the ground was rough, they were exceed- ingly convenient and valuable institutions. Of provisions and ammunition we laid in all that we Could possibly need; besides a few small kegs, which, as old Ben expressed it, "contained a little spirit for medicinal purposes." In addition to these we took quite a lot of fancy trumpery for trade with the natives, in the selection of which we were guided by the advice of an old Englishman, who had been just Where we were going. Four more servants were taken into our employ before we started. First, and of the most importance, Was an old Hottentot, named Bolus, who was to be our guide and interpreter. He had travelled all over the country of the interior, and understood the lan- guages of nearly all the tribes of the Bechuanas. He waa a powerful fellow, over fifty years of age, and Was to be trusted when he was sober. Next to the guide came the cook, another Hottentot, named Gash. He was about the age of Bolus, and the two had been much together; and, in addition to his know- ledge of the cuisine, he said he could keep Bolus sober. Besides these we hired two stout young fellows, of a ilozambique tribe, who were to assist the cook, or the drivers, or the guide-who, in short, were to be men- Of-all-work. One more item of explanation, and we are off. Each Wagon was drawn by twelve oxen. The two strongest oxen were yoked to the pole-the pole being much like the ordinary tongue, or pole, of the common American, ox- carts. Leading from this pole was a long, stout rope of buffalo-hide, called the treck- rope, to which were attached, at regular intervals, the yokes of the other oxen. The method of yoking and unyoking, or in- spanning" and outspanuing," as the Boers term it, is somewhat different from that in use among the farmers of- America. In place of the bow, which the Yankee has to take out and put back again every time he yokes, or unyokes, the Boer has two parallel bars fixed upon the under side of the yoke, which slip down upon each side of the neck of the ox, These bars are fixed firmly in the yoke, and are secured to the neck of the animal by a thong of tough hide passing about the ends at the throat. It is a simple contrivance, and an experienced driver has little trouble in yoking up his team, provided his oxen are Well trained and kindly handled. Of our arms I need not particularly speak. Suffice it for me to say that we had all we needed, and that they were good enough. My best rifle bore the name of Loren H. Wrisley as the maker, and I do not believe that a better piece was ever made. Harry Rusk had two of the same make. I may here mention that I had a few bullets made to please one of my whims. My. Wrisley rifle carried a conical ball weighing an ounce, and I had two hundred of these leaden cones armed with sharp steel points upon the forward end. I had seen soft lead flattened upon the tough hides of the rhinoceros and crocodile, and I proposed to find some- thing which could not be so easily turned from its course. And now I come to AN ADVENTURE WITH A WILD BOAR. One bright morning we set out upon our journey. Jot and Sunam had got the oxen under complete sub- jection, and I flattered myself that we had about as good and reliable a team as could be found in the country. The cook, and the two Mozambique servants, whose names were Mora and Tambet, rode in the Wagons when they pleased, and walked when they pleased. My boy Dan I allowed to ride one of my horses. We already had one extra pair of oxen, which were secured behind one of the wagons; and on the second day of our journey we bought another pair. It was possible that we might need them. On the tenth day we had got beyond the settlements of the Boers, and towards the latter part of the after- noon we fell in with a flock of dainty little antelopes of the Springbok variety. After a chase of almost an hour I succeeded in shooting one of them, while Harry Rusk shot two. So we had fresh meat for supper, and enough left for breakfast. On the twelfth day, while passing around the base of a high, sandy hill, I observed the skull of an ele- phant beneath a clamp of speck-broom bushes. Bolus informed me that there were a great many skeletons of the elephant in this section; and he said he could remember when large herds of them frequented the hills and valleys about us, but within the last twenty years the white hunters had so effectually thinned them out, and driven them northward, that one was rarely ever seen in our present neighbourhood. On the morning of the fourteenth day we started be. fore the sun was up, and made a tramp of ten miles before breakfast. We were now just entering the territory of the Bechuanas, and exppcted soon to be obliged to keep a sharp look out for danger. We had jurAt finished breakfast, and I ha'1 lighted my meer- schaum, when oar attention was attracted by a rustling and crashing in the bushes near at hand. Dan caught up one of my rifles and started in pursuit. The boy had proved himself a good shot, and I allowed him to use my inferior piece. Harry and Ben likewise started off, and as I thought they would be able to do all that was to be done, I remained behind and helped Jot to fix some of his yokes. In the course of fifteen minutes Harry Rusk came back, remarking that he guessed there was nothing to be found. He sat down under a tree, and lighted his pipe, and smoked thoughtfully. "A penny for your thoughts," said If as I joined him, after having seen the yokes all right. "I was thinking of the rascally fellow that sold me this pipe," he replied, with a long face. I laughed outright, and yet I pitied the poor fellow. He had bought the pipe of a dealer in Rotterdam for a pure meerschaum, and had paid a fabulous price; and the thing proved to be a composition of clay and plaster, stuffed with some sort of oil, or resin, which gave it a glossy finish. As he smoked it, it grew ieavy and etcoagj and caused him moxe than once ;to say things which were not proper. However, he generally kept his temper, and stoutly maintained, in the presence of Ben Gilroy, that the pipe was of the purest meerschaum imaginable. While Ave were thus smoking, old Ben came up, puffing and blowing, declaring that he didn't believe we had heard any sound in the bushes at all. The words had hardly escaped his lips when the air was startled by the sound of Dan's rifle, and Harry and I were upon our feet in a moment, with our rifles in our hands. Ben was too far gone with fatigue to join us; but Andrew, who had boon repacking some of the nick-nacks in one of the wagon-chests, took his piece and accompanied us. We had gone but a short dis- tance when we heard Dan's voice pitched to a note of alarm. I stopped to listen,, and heard him distinctly calling on Ben Gilroy for help. Harry was ahead, and as he caught the direction of the sound, he hastened on, Andrew and I keeping close upon his heels. The eries of the boy sounded louder and more startling, and we knew that he must be in mortal danger. Our way was through a dense mass of low, shrubby bushes, and by-and-by we came out at the foot of a barren hill, with an open plain stretching away before us. Harry, who had kept the lead, suddenly stopped upon the edge of the open space, and raised his rifle to his on, Andrew and I keeping close upon his heels. The cries of the boy sounded louder and more startling1, and we knew that he must be in mortal danger. Our way was through a dense mass of low, shrubby bushes, and by-and-by we came out at the foot of a barren hill, with an open plain stretching away before us. Harry, who had kept the lead, suddenly stopped upon the edge of the open space, and raised his rifle to his shoulder. As he fired I hurried forward, and asked him what he had seen. His reply was such as I need not write, though it is no wonder that he made it. He had fired and missed his mark; or, if he had hit it at all, he had only made a bad matter worse. I quickly saw the difficulty, and had raised my trusty rifle half way to my shoulder, when I hesitated, and shuddered. The scene was this:- At a distance of not much less than a hundred yards was my Caffre boy in the top of a tall, slender tree; and at the fcot of the tree was one of the largest wild boars I ever saw. The boar was digging away at the roots with his long snout, and tearing the fibres off with his teeth as he came to them. He was bleeding from two wounds-one in the neck, and one on the back. The boy must have wounded him first, and then climbed the tree to escape him when he became furious; and the second wound must have been given by Harry. As I lowered my rifle the boar had turned his haunches towards me. Dan saw us, the smoke of Harry's piece having guided his eye, and he called aloud for help. I heard him say the tree would soon be down; and I knew that he spoke the truth, for I could see that the slender trunk was already swaying to and fro as the maddened brute tore away at the roots. He knew that the boy was his enemy, and he was bound upon revenge. Smarting with the pain of his two wounds he gnashed his huge teeth, and plunged his snout into the soft earth. I waited a few seconds to see if the beast would not turn his side towards me; but he did not. The only thing left was for me to change my position. I ran one way, and directed Andrew to run the other. Ihadnot taken a dozen steps when I saw the tree begin to vibrate with a wider range, and presently I knew that it was going over. The last root had been rent asunder. I stopped, and caught my breath". I was upon the point of calling out to the boy to leap and run, when I saw that he had anticipated me. The moment that I dis- covered his intended movement, I asked Andrew to be ready with his rifle; and as I spoke, Harry pleased me by informing me that his rifle was again loaded. Dan, when he saw us so near him, became cool and collected, and seemed to be studying all his chances. As the tree began to topple over he prepared to spring. But-would he thoughtlessly run towards us ? No, no -he had calculated even that chance. He touched the < ground several yards from the tree, and struck off to- wards a point at my right, thus keeping clear of the line of omr aim. He started away at a pace of mar- vellous speed, and the boar leaped after him. There was not a moment to lose, for the distance between the pursuer and the pursued was very short, and the foam- ing, bleeding monster was covering fearful distances with his strides. In heaven's name," I eried, speaking to Harry, don't waste your shot!" Ready!" he replied, with his rifle at his shoulder. And as he spoke he fired. The boar staggered for an instant, as though he had lost his step. On the next moment I fired; and, as an echo, came the report of Andrew's piece. The boy turned an abrupt angle, and the boar kept on in a straight line; but his course was run- A few yards of staggering, swaying plunges, and he fell dead. I expected to find Dan weak with terror, but in this I was mistaken. "If I'd had my dagger," he said, "I should have dropped upon the bear feefore you came up." He had left his dagger sticking in a piece of meat by the fire. However, he was ready enough to acknowledge that he had come well out of it, and his gratitude was deep and sincere. He told us that when he fired upon the beast he supposed Ben Gilroy was close behind, ready to support him with a second shot; and it was not until the wounded monster had dis- covered him, and started towards him, that he became aware of Ben's absence. After that he had but one course open to him. He saw the tree, and fled to it for safety. We cut out such parts of the boar's carcase as we fancied for roast and broil, and left the rest for the birds and beasts; and if the birds and beasts found their share as sweet and juicy as we found ours, they llillilt have had a good meal. (To be continued.)

THE MURDER AT BOIVN.

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OUR" CITY" ARTICLE, 6

Money Macket.

The Produce Market.

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A RAMBLER'S JOTTINGS. --n

The Corn Trade.

Cattle Market.