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[ALL ltlGKTS RESERVED,] LUCK AT THE DIAMOND FI ELDS. BY DALRTMPLE J. BELGRAVE (BABRISTER-AT-LAW). A TALE OF THE KIMBERLEY I COACH. CHAPTER II-(Continued.) I When Kate got back to the Homestead she found that a young Van Beers, a son of the old farmer, had arrived from Kimberley. Jappie Van Beers was not a very pleasant type of the young Boer, but by no means an uncommon one. He was a noisy braggart, who might be heard wherever he went, shouting out in his broken English about himself and his belongings, and bragging about his shooting and riding, his horses, dogs, and guns. He some- times would express violent anti-English senti- ments, but for all that he imitated the people be professed to hate, and it was not at all difficult to see that he was half ashamed of being a Dutchman. He owned some very good claims in the Kimberley mines, and had made a good deal of money on the Fields. When he was at the Homestead he gave himself great airs, for he did not think it necessary for him to show much deference to the old people, since he wa& so much richer than they were, while their homely Dutch ways of life afforded him opportunities for the expression of considerable con- tempt. What made him more odious to Eate was, that he had taken it into his head to pay her an amount of attention that was very embarrassing to her. The truth was, that Jappie Van Beers had fallen head over ears in love with the pretty gover- ness at his father's house. He had contrasted her very favourably with the heavy, shapeless-looking Dutch young women whom his cousins and brothers chose for their wives, and had determined that she should be Mrs. Jappie. On the occasion of his last visit to the Homestead she had snubbed him most unmercifully, and she hoped that in future he would keep at a distance. There was something in his manner as he shook hands with her that told her he had got ovar any discomfiture he might have been made to suffer before. "Ah, Miss Gray, you're looking very well and pretty, though you seem to be just as proud as ever. Well, I have a little bit of news for you. I have met an old friend of yours on the field a friend of mine who knows you. He came up in the coach with you; he told me all about your goings on when you came up in the coach," he said to her after they had shaken hands. Kate looked extremely uncomfortable; the last subject she wanted to talk about was that journey and its incidents. Jappie Van Beers appeared to derive a considerable amount of satisfaction from her embarrassment. "Yes, Miss, my friend Aarons told me about you," be continued; a malicious grin coming across his stupid heavy face. Is that person a friend of yours ?" Kate asked; her expression showing that she did not think any the better of Jappie for his choice of friend. The other looked a bit put out. The truth was, that when he was in Kimberley he associated with a good many of the worst characters in the place, not because he was one of them, but because it suited their purpose to flatter him, and allow him to be as insolent and boorish as he pleased. Well, I know him to speak to, and he told me about you, and he gave me a message for you. 'Tell her,' he said that she is likely to see her old sweet- heart again, if she looks amongst the men working on the roads at Gordon.' Then he told me how you went on when you travelled with this Darrell, the thief whom they trapped at Red Shirt Rush. Aarons gave me a paper and said that perhaps you would like to read about the trial, and see what he had done." Jappie was surprised to see how little attention she paid to his chaff; but she took the paper from him very eagerly and turned over the pages until she came to the report of the trial. The report was short. Kate felt sure that Darrell was the innocent victim of a conspiracy, and the idea came at once into her mind that somehow that conspiracy had been carried out by the man who took care that she should learn how successful it had been. Yes, this seems to be the same man I came up with in the coach, but I don't know why your friend should take so much trouble to let me know about it," she said, making an effort to speak as if she had read the report with little interest. Jappie, feeling that his chaff had fallen rather flat, became silent, and contented himself with star- ing stupidly at her. She read and re-read the report. Five years of that degrading slavery-five years working with Kaffirs and white men who were more degraded than Kaffirs '-it seemed to her that he never would be able to survive his term of punishment. Well, Miss Gray, you're angry with me because I just chaffed you," said Jappie, flicking his whip against his boots and looking half ashamed of him- self I will tell you something that will make you forgive me. I have brought my little white horse, which you may ride. I know you like riding; and you can ride down to the river in the mornings with me and see the lines pulled up as you used to. I brought the little white horse because I knew you liked to ride him, and I will take out Kedult; he is the best horse in the Colony. I won a race with him the other day at Cradock, and beat all the imported horses." A morning ride with Jappie did not hold out a very pleasant prospect, but as he spoke there flashed vividly upon Kate's memory a sight that she noticed day after day the year before, when the used to go out in the morning with the children to see the lines pulled up. It was the sight of a party of convicts and convict-guards on the other side of the river; the former working, filling water-barrels, the latter listlessly watching them. This recollection made her determined to go out for those rides, however unpleasant they might be, and instead of refusing Japple s offer, she accepted it with an enthusiasm that flattered and delighted him. The next afternoon Darrell was at his task at the court-house with two or three ill-looking white men and a gang of Kaffirs, who appeared not to take their punish- ment much to heart. Watching them were two white convict-guards armed with carbines, who lounged about listlessly, finding their duty very tedious, and some Zulu police armed with rifles and a collection ef assagais, who looked as if they would deal out death and destruction, if not to the fugitive, certainly to some of the bystanders, should there be any attempt at an escape. Every now and then Darrell looked across the flat towards the river, where he had seen Kate go the day before, She had recognised him, he knew. What did she think of his disgraceful position ?-but what should she think ? She had only known him for a few days, and in that time she had learned more to his disadvantage than otherwise, he thought to him- self. For once the long weary afternoon's work had some interest should he see her again. he kept wondering? At last he saw her coming from the river-bank. He watched her, though he tried to look down so that their eyes should not meet. As she pasaed she took a hurried glance at the convi ct-guard, who were paying liitle attention to the prisoners. The white men were thinking of the hard luck that gave to them such a dreary dead-and-alive lot in life. The Zulus as they clutched their weapons were back again in their imagination at some scene of savage blood- shed, and were happy. Then she for a second managed to catch his eye, and as she did so she threw a crumpled-up piece of paper to him. He snatched it up, and half hiding behind part of the building he unfolded it, and read the few words written on it. You have a friend; look out for a signal to escape when you are at the river to-morrow. I know you are innocent." As he read this he felt a new man. He had even in his miserable position felt depressed to think that he had not a friend in the world. But here was some one who believed in him. Then he remembered that she would be likely to get into some trouble if she were mixed up in any plot to secure his freedom. But he had no means of warning her; he could only wait and wonder what the letter meant. At seven o'clock next morning, Darrell was marched as usual to the river-bank to carry water up to the magistrate's house and the public works. Drearily and hopelessly he laboured at the wretched work of filling the water-carts. What did that note mean, he kept asking himself ? How could that English girl in a strange country help him ? Perhaps she was acting for others, he thought, and the only part she took was to give him notice. If so she might not run any great risk of getting into trouble. But this theory had to be put on one side. Who was there in the country, or for :,he matter of that in the world who would take the trouble to help him? He looked at the distant range of hills far away across the river if he could only get there he would be free and safe, for not only was it native territory, but it was in a disturbed state, and there were bands of men collected together there, one or two of whom he happened to know who would welcome him as a comrade very heartily. The men worked at their tasks slowly enough; the con- vict-guards thought that they might just as well hang about the river-bank looking after convicts, as be any- where else engaged in the same dreary work, so they did not hurry them. After he had worked for some minutes, Darrell saw two figures on horseback across the river he recognised one of them as Kate, the other was a young Dutchman he bad seen ride towards the farm a day or two before. He looked at their horses, and he coveted the one the Dutchman was on. It was a good horse anywhere, and looked as if it were just suited for the country. If he were on it and had a fair start, he would save the Colony the cost of his board and lodging, and show his enemies a clean pair of heels. Of course he re- membered the letter, but he felt sure the young Boer would never be induced to help him. After they had ridden along the river to a place about a hundred yards down stream from where he stood, he saw the man dismount and leave his horse to be held by his companion. Darrell began to feel a thrill of excite- ment as he watched him go down to a boat, get into it, and drop some way down stream. He watched how the stream of the river ran, and he guessed how it would carry anyone who jumped in from where he was, across to the point where Kate was with the horses. The Dutchman had almost crossed the river, and was pulling up a fish on a line he had rowed up to. Darrell took in the situation, and his heart beat, and he felt a longing for liberty as he first looked at the good horse on which he could secure it, and then at the convict-guard near him who was yawning sleepily, as he sac with his carbine in his hand. Just then he saw Kate hold her handkerchief about her head and wave it. It was the signal, and he knew how good a chance he would have if he obeyed it. There was no time for delay, and in a second he had taken a header from the bank and was swimming for life and liberty. For a minute or so there was some wild shooting, as the guard aroused by the splash took a hurried shot at him, and the Zulus let off their guns recklessly. The sound of the shots startled Jappie, who had been intent on pulling up his fish. For a second he stared stolidly, and then as the oonvict came to the other side; hitting just upon the spot where the horses were, he saw what his object was. Allah Macter, but he is going to take my horse. Hi! Miss Gray, gallop the horse away keep away from him, he's going to take the horse." The guards on the other side had ceased firing, as they were afraid of hitting Kate and the horses. Kate did not make any attempt to get away from the convict; in fact Jappie felt certain that she was doing her best to help the fugitive. Jappie yelled and gesticulated, but it was no use. To his disgust he saw the con- vict come up the river-bank, jump into the saddle, and give a shout of triumph, and then gc. off across the veldt. Above all things, Jappie valued and swaggered about his horse. He had woa one or two races with him already, and hoped tQ win more, and he was never tired of boasting and bragging about what he hoped to do with him. 0 the skelltim 1-0 the scoundrel!—there is not a horse in the province that can catch him, and there is no one ready to follow him," he shouted out to no one in particular as he splashed clumsily across tha river against the stream. For once he thought of Kedult's pace and staying powers without much satisfaction. When he had got to the other side he stood shouting and yelling to the convict-guards, and watching Darrell growing smaller in the distance. It was something of a relief to him when he saw two troopers of the border police cross the drift. They had saddled up when they heard the alarm of the escape, and were starting in pursuit. Jappie ran after them, and shouted out some directions to which they paid very little heed. Ah, they will never catch him on Kedult; he will ride the horse to death first," he despondently said as he watched the troopers ride across the flat. Kate began to realise that she had probably got her- self into a good deal of trouble, for the part she had taken in the escape was pretty evident. She did not know what offences she might not have committed, still she felt that she would gladly do it again, and chance whatever punishment she might have to suffer, rather than have to see Darrell suffering his degrading punishment. Certainly he would be a fugitivo and an outlaw, but that would not be so bad for him, and he would have a better chance of proving his innocence than if he were a prisoner; so she hoped. "Well, Miss Gray, so ýou have played me a nice little trick, letting that skellum steal my horse. That was your doing. You think yourself very slim, to be able to fool me into leaving you with m y horse so that you could let your sweetheart have it to get away on; but you have made a mistake-I am going to go to the magistrate, and he shall know what you have done. You will find your- self in prison very soon for stealing my horse and helping a prisoner to escape," said the young Boer to Kate, when he met her at the door of the farmhouse as she rode back. He was half crying about the loss of his horse, and desperately angry; and yet, as he looked into the pretty English girl's face, a very different idea to that of revenge suggested itself to him. There was something he cared for even more than his horse. Look here, miss, you have lost me the best horse in the country, but I forgive you, because you're such a pretty girl. No Dutch girl would do what you have done; they would be ashamed to; but I like girls who have plenty of pluck. Be my sweetheart instead of that skellurn's, whom you will never see again, and I will say no more about what I saw. Look, I am rich; I have some of the best claims in the mine. and have ten good farms. I think there is no girl in the Colony who would not marry me, and I offer to make you my wife-a poor little English girl, whom I could send to prison if I thought right. Come, I have lost my horse and won a frow, for you must marry me or go to prison— which will you do?' To emphasise his declaration he threw one of his clumsy arms round her neck and tried to kiss her. Her answer came in a way that surprised him. She dodged away from his grasp, and as he came for- ward again she slashed him twice across his face with her whip, and then ran < away into the house, leaving him standing in the yard listening to the laugh of a Kaffir servant who had witnessed the scene. All the worse for you, missy," he cried, almost blubbering from the pain and from his anger. You shall suffer for this, and for stealing my horse." Then catching sight of the Kaffir's grinning face he relieved his feelings by cutting that unfortunate son of Ham across the back with his ox-hide whip till he yelled with pain. Somewhat calmed by this he walked down to the boat and went over to Gordon, deter- mined to let the law of the land revenge his wrongs. It turned out that his threat was not an idle one. Already the inhabitants of Gordon were discussing the part she had taken in the escape of the convict. One of the guards noticed her give the signal, and his evidence was confirmed by Jappie. Johnptone, who had been acting as magistrate, cursed his fate which obliged him to commit Kate to take her trial at Kimberley. But the affair was a serious one, and became more serious when the next day the border police came back without having found their man. "It.s a beastlv duty to have to discharge, par- ticularly for such a pitiful scraw as one gets from this cursed Colonial Government. But I had to do it on the evidence," he said to her when the inquiry was ended, and she was duly committed to take her trial, and circumstances allowed him to resume his non-official way of looking at things. You need not be nervous, however; jury won't bring themselves to convict you," he added, to reassure her. The case created immense excitement at Kim berley. From the first public feeling was with the prisoner. Jappie was considered to show great vindictiveness, and the story of his having been an unsuccessful suitor to the prisoner somehow got abroad. He had got his horse back too, it having been sent to him from Stellaland, and this, in the opinion of the public, made the animus he showed all the more vindictive- When the day of the trial came on, and the prisoner was seen in the dock, public opinion expressed itself most unanimously in her favour. The Crown prosecutor's arguments were very cogent, and the judge'a summing up dead against the prisoner; but the jury gave their verdict without ever turning round in the box. It was not guilty. There ain't such a crowd of pretty girls in this camp that we can afford to shut 'em up in prison," was the opinion expressed by the foreman as he par- took of champagne at the expense of a sympathiser with beauty in distress. In the mean time George Darrell found himself secure in Stellaland. After riding all day he had pulled up with his horse dead beat, at a house which had once been used as a store some miles on the other side of the river which marked the border of Griqua- land West. The house was inhabited by some white men, who constituted themselves into a body which somewhat resembled the free companies some centuries back-nominally fighting for the Kaffir chief, but really pretty much for their own hand. "Hullo, who the is this?" exclaimed one of these warriors, who was sitting on the bench outside the house as Darrell came up. Hullo, he has got 'em on-he has got 'em all on," said another of the company—a gentleman who in the course of his varied career had been a singer in a London East End music-hall, and now sang the songs of Houndsditch in a strange land-as he saw the fashion of Darrell's garb, Look here, it won't do it will bring the peelers on us." He's a good fellow; I know him—worth a dozen of you," said a black-haired, handsome, devil-may- care-looking young fellow, known as Black Jamie, who acted as the leader of the company. It's Darrell, who used to be working down the river. I heard he was run in some time ago "-and getting up, he came forward and shook the new arrival heartily by the hand. It was lucky for Jappie that Black Jamie bad a high opinion of Darrell; for it was on that account he was induced to give in to the other's wish that the horse should be sent back by a Kaffir to his owner —a proceeding which was thoroughly repugnant to the feelings of himself and the honourable company he commanded. He let Darrell have his way, how- ever, and then sent him on with some Kaffirs to their huts, where the police, even if they crossed the border, would not care to follow him. A day or two afterwards, when danger of pursuit was over, Darrell was enlisted as one of Black Jamie's troop in the service of Mankoron, the chief of the Bechuanas. (To be continued.)




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