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´╗┐Title: Hunting the Lions
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hunting the Lions" ***

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HUNTING THE LIONS, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.



CHAPTER ONE.

BEGINS TO UNFOLD THE TALE OF THE LIONS BY DESCRIBING THE LION OF THE
TALE.

We trust, good reader, that it will not cause you a feeling of
disappointment to be told that the name of our hero is Brown--Tom Brown.
It is important at the beginning of any matter that those concerned
should clearly understand their position, therefore we have thought fit,
even at the risk of throwing a wet blanket over you, to commence this
tale on one of the most romantic of subjects by stating--and now
repeating that our hero was a member of the large and (supposed to be)
unromantic family of "the Browns."

A word in passing about the romance of the family.  Just because the
Brown family is large, it has some to be deemed unromantic.  Every one
knows that two of the six green-grocers in the next street are Browns.
The fat sedate butcher round the corner is David Brown, and the milkman
is James Brown.  The latter is a square-faced practical man, who is
looked up to as a species of oracle by all his friends.  Half a dozen
drapers within a mile of you are named Brown, and all of them are shrewd
men of business, who have feathered their nests well, and stick to
business like burrs.  You will certainly find that several of the
hardest-working clergymen, and one or more of the city missionaries, are
named Brown; and as to Doctor Browns, there is no end of them!  But why
go further?  The fact is patent to every unprejudiced person.

Now, instead of admitting that the commonness of the name of Brown
proves its owners to be unromantic, we hold that this is a distinct
evidence of the deep-seated romance of the family.  In the first place,
it is probable that their multitudinosity is the result of romance,
which, as every one knows, has a tendency to cause men and women to fall
in love, and marry early in life.  Brown is almost always a good husband
and a kind father.  Indeed he is a good, steady-going man in all the
relations of life, and his name, in our mind at least, is generally
associated with troops of happy children who call him "daddy," and
regard him in the light of an elephantine playmate.  And they do so with
good reason, for Brown is manly and thorough-going in whatever he
undertakes, whether it be the transaction of business or romping with
his children.

But, besides this, the multitudinosity of the Browns cuts in two
directions.  If there are so many of them green-grocers, butchers, and
milkmen--who without sufficient reason are thought to be unromantic--it
will be found that they are equally numerous in other walks of life; and
wherever they walk they do so coolly, deliberately, good-humouredly, and
very practically.  Look at the learned professions, for instance.  What
a host of Browns are there.  The engineers and contractors too, how they
swarm in their lists.  If you want to erect a suspension bridge over the
British Channel, the only man who is likely to undertake the job for you
is Adam Brown, C.E., and Abel Brown will gladly provide the materials.
As to the army, here their name is legion; they compose an army of
themselves; and they are all enthusiasts--but quiet, steady-going, not
noisy or boastful enthusiasts.  In fact, the romance of Brown consists
very much in his willingness to fling himself, heart and soul, into
whatever his hand finds to do.  The man who led the storming party, and
achieved immortal glory by getting himself riddled to death with
bullets, was Lieutenant Brown--better known as Ned Brown by his brother
officers, who could not mention his name without choking for weeks after
his sad but so-called "glorious" fall.  The other man who accomplished
the darling wish of his heart--to win the Victoria Cross--by attaching a
bag of gunpowder to the gate of the fortress and blowing it and himself
to atoms to small that no shred of him big enough to hang the Victoria
Cross upon was ever found, was Corporal Brown, and there was scarcely a
dry eye in the regiment when he went down.

Go abroad among the barbarians of the earth, to China, for instance, and
ask who is yonder thick-set, broad-chested man, with the hearty
expression of face, and the splendid eastern uniform, and you will be
told that he is Too Foo, the commander-in-chief of the Imperial forces
in that department.  If, still indulging curiosity, you go and introduce
yourself to him, he will shake you heartily by the hand, and, in good
English, tell you that his name is Walter Brown, and that he will be
charmed to show you something of Oriental life if you will do him the
favour to take a slice of puppy dog in his pagoda after the review!  If
there is a chief of a hill tribe in Hindustan in want of a prime
minister who will be able to carry him through a serious crisis, there
is a Brown at hand, who speaks not only his own language, but all the
dialects and languages of Hindustan, who is quite ready to assume
office.  It is the same at the diggings, whether of Australia,
California, or Oregon; and we are persuaded that the man whose
habitation is nearest to the pole at this moment, whether north or
south, is a Brown, if he be not a Jones, Robinson, or Smith!

Need more be said to prove that this great branch of the human family is
truly associated with all that is wild, grand, and romantic?  We think
not; and we hope that the reader is now somewhat reconciled to the
fact--which cannot be altered, and which we would not alter if we
could--that our hero's name is Tom Brown.

Tom was the son of a settler at the Cape of Good Hope, who, after
leading the somewhat rough life of a trader into the interior of Africa,
made a fortune, and retired to a suburban villa in Cape Town, there to
enjoy the same with his wife and family.  Having been born in Cape Town,
our hero soon displayed a disposition to extend his researches into the
unknown geography of his native land, and on several occasions lost
himself in the bush.  Thereafter he ran away from school twice, having
been seized with a romantic and irresistible desire to see and shoot a
lion!  In order to cure his son of this propensity, Mr Brown sent him
to England, where he was put to school, became a good scholar, and a
proficient in all games and athletic exercises.  After that he went to
college, intending, thereafter, to return to the Cape, join his father,
and go on a trading expedition into the interior, in order that he might
learn the business, and carry it on for himself.

Tom Brown's mother and sisters--there were six of the latter--were
charming ladies.  Everybody said what pleasant people the Browns were--
that there was no nonsense about them, and that they were so practical,
yet so lively and full of spirit.  Mrs Brown, moreover, actually held
the belief that people had souls as well as bodies, which required
feeding in order to prevent starvation, and ensure healthy growth!  On
the strength of this belief she fed her children out of that
old-fashioned, yet ever new, volume, the Bible, and the consequence was,
that the Miss Browns were among the most useful members of the church to
which they belonged, a great assistance to the clergymen and
missionaries who waited those regions, and a blessing to the poor of the
community.  But we must dismiss the family without further remark, for
our story has little or nothing to do with any member of it except Tom
himself.

When he went to school in England, Tom carried his love for the lion
along with him.  The mere word had a charm for him which he could not
account for.  In childhood he had dreamed of lion-hunting; in riper
years he played at games of his own invention which had for their chief
point the slaying or capturing of lions.  Zoological gardens and "wild
beast shows" had for him attractions which were quite irresistible.  As
he advanced in years, Richard of the Lion-heart became his chief
historical hero; Androcles and the lion stirred up all the enthusiasm of
his nature.  Indeed it might have been said that the lion-rampant was
stamped indelibly on his heart, while the British lion became to him the
most attractive myth on record.

When he went to college and studied medicine, his imagination was
sobered down a little; but when he had passed his examinations and was
capped, and was styled Dr Brown by his friends, and began to make
preparations for going back to the Cape, all his former enthusiasm about
lions returned with tenfold violence.

Tom's father intended that he should study medicine, not with a view to
practising it professionally, but because he held it to be very
desirable that every one travelling in the unhealthy regions of South
Africa should possess as much knowledge of medicine as possible.

One morning young Dr Brown received a letter from his father which ran
as follows:--

  "MY DEAR TOM,--A capital opportunity of letting you see a little of
  the country in which I hope you will ultimately make your fortune has
  turned up just now.  Two officers of the Cape Rifles have made up
  their minds to go on a hunting excursion into the interior with a
  trader named Hicks, and want a third man to join them.  I knew you
  would like to go on such an expedition, remembering your leaning in
  that direction in days of old, so I have pledged you to them.  As they
  start three months hence, the sooner you come out the better.  I
  enclose a letter of credit to enable you to fit out and start at once.
  Your mother and sisters are all well, and send love.--YOUR
  AFFECTIONATE FATHER, J.B."

Tom Brown uttered a wild cheer of delight on reading this brief and
business-like epistle, and his curious landlady immediately answered to
the shout by entering and wishing to know "if he had called and if he
wanted hanythink?"

"No, Mrs Pry, I did not call; but I ventured to express my feelings in
regard to a piece of good news which I have just received."

"La, sir!"

"Yes, Mrs Pry, I'm going off immediately to South Africa to hunt
lions."

"You _don't_ mean it, sir!"

"Indeed I do, Mrs Pry; so pray let me have breakfast without delay, and
make up my bill to the end of the week; I shall leave you then.  Sorry
to part, Mrs Pry.  I have been very comfortable with you."

"I 'ope so, sir."

"Yes, very comfortable; and you may be assured that I shall recommend
your lodgings highly wherever I go--not that there is much chance of my
recommendation doing you any good, for out in the African bush I sha'n't
see many men who want furnished lodgings in London, and wild beasts are
not likely to make inquiries, being already well provided in that way at
home.  By the way, when you make up your bill, don't forget to charge me
with the tumbler I smashed yesterday in making chemical experiments, and
the tea-pot cracked in the same good cause.  Accidents will happen, you
know, Mrs Pry, and bachelors are bound to pay for 'em."

"Certainly, sir; and please, sir, what am I to do with the cupboard full
of skulls and 'uman bones downstairs?"

"Anything you choose, Mrs Pry," said Tom, laughing; "I shall trouble my
head no more with such things, so you may sell them if you please, or
send them as a valuable gift to the British Museum, only don't bother me
about them; and do take yourself off like a good soul, for I must reply
to my father's letter immediately."

Mrs Pry retired, and Tom Brown sat down to write a letter to "J.B." in
which he briefly thanked him for the letter of credit, and assured him
that one of the dearest wishes of his heart was about to be realised,
for that still--not less but rather more than when he was a runaway
boy--his soul was set upon hunting the lions.



CHAPTER TWO.

SPORT BEGINS IN EARNEST.

Time, which is ever on the wing, working mighty changes in the affairs
of man, soon transported our hero from Mrs Pry's dingy little back
parlour in London to the luxuriant wilds of Africa.

There, on the evening of a splendid day, he sat down to rest under the
grateful shade of an umbrageous tree, in company with Major Garret and
Lieutenant Wilkins, both of whom had turned out to be men after Tom
Brown's own heart.  They were both bronzed strapping warriors, and had
entered those regions not only with a view to hunting lions, but also
for the purpose of making collections of the plants and insects of the
country, the major being a persevering entomologist, while the
lieutenant was enthusiastically botanical.  To the delight of these
gentlemen they found that Tom, although not deeply learned on these
subjects, was nevertheless extremely intelligent and appreciative.

The major was very tall, thin; strong, wiry, and black-bearded.  The
lieutenant was very short, thickset, deep-chested, and powerful.  Tom
himself was burly, ruddy, broad, and rather above middle size.

"Now this is what I call real felicity," observed the major, pulling out
a pipe which he proceeded to fill.  Tom Brown followed his example, and
Bob Wilkins, who was not a smoker, and had a somewhat facetious
disposition, amused himself by quizzing his comrades and carving a piece
of wood with his penknife.

"Does the real felicity, major, result from the tobacco or the
surrounding circumstances?" asked Wilkins.

"From both, Bob," replied the other with a smile, "and you need not
spoil my felicity by repeating your well-known set of phrases about the
evils of smoking, for I know them all by heart, and I dare say so does
Tom."

"Impossible," said Wilkins; "I have not yet been two weeks in his
company; he cannot, therefore, have heard a tithe of the irresistible
arguments which I bring to bear on that pernicious practice, and which I
hope some day to throw into shape and give to the public in the form of
a bulky volume."

"Which will end in smoke," interrupted the major.

"In a literal sense, too," added Tom Brown, "for it will be sold as
waste-paper and be made up into matches."

"We shall see," retorted Wilkins, cutting carefully round the right
nostril of a baboon's head which he had carved on the end of a
walking-stick; "meanwhile, major, as you are better acquainted than we
are with this outlandish country, and have taken on yourself the
leadership of the party, will you condescend to give Tom Brown and me
some idea of your intended movements--that is, if smoke and felicity
will permit you to do so?"

"With pleasure, my dear fellow," said the major puffing vigorously for a
few moments to get his pipe well alight.  "It was my intention to make
for Big Buffalo's Village, or kraal as they call it here, and, getting
the assistance of some of his sable Majesty's subjects, hunt the country
in his neighbourhood, but I heard from Hicks this morning, before we
left the camp, that a band of traders, at a kraal not far from us, are
about to start for the Zulu country, and it struck me that we might as
well join forces and advance together, for I prefer a large party to a
small one--there is generally more fun to be got out of it."

"Would it be well to tie ourselves to any one?" asked Tom Brown.  "I
have always found that a small party is more manageable than a large one
however, I do but throw out the suggestion in all humility."

"He shall not necessarily be tied to them," replied the major,
re-lighting his pipe, which had a bad habit of going out when he talked;
"we may keep company as long as we find it agreeable to do so, and part
when we please.  But what say you to the change of plan?  I think it
will bring us into a better hunting country."

"Whatever you think best, major, will please me," said Tom, "for I'm
ignorant of everything here and place myself entirely under your
directions."

"And I am agreeable," added Bob Wilkins.

"You are neither agreeable nor grammatical," said the major.

"Well, if you insist on it, I'm agreed.  But do put your pipe out, Tom,
and let us resume our march, for we have a long way to go, and much work
to do before reaching the camp to-night."

Thus admonished, Tom Brown made an extinguisher of the end of his
forefinger, put his short clay pipe in his waistcoat pocket, and,
shouldering his rifle, followed his companions into the forest, on the
edge of which they had been resting.

The country through which they passed was extremely beautiful,
particularly in the eyes of our hero, for whom the magnificence of
tropical vegetation never lost its charms.  The three sportsmen had that
morning left their baggage, in a wagon drawn by oxen, in charge of Hicks
the trader, who had agreed to allow them to accompany him on a trading
expedition, and to serve them in the capacity of guide and general
servant.  They had made a detour through the forest with a party of six
natives, under the guidance of a Caffre servant named Mafuta, and were
well repaid for the time thus spent, by the immense variety of insects
and plants which the naturalists found everywhere.  But that which
delighted them most was the animal life with which the whole region
teemed.  They saw immense herds of wolves, deer of various kinds,
hyenas, elands, buffalo, and many other wild beasts, besides innumerable
flocks of water-fowl of all kinds.  But they passed these unmolested,
having set their hearts that day on securing higher game.  As Wilkins
said, "nothing short of a lion, an elephant, a rhinoceros, or
hippopotamus" would satisfy them and that they had some chance of
securing one or more of these formidable brutes was clear, because their
voices had been several times heard, and their footprints had been seen
everywhere.

About an hour after resuming their walk, the major went off in hot
pursuit of an enormous bee, which he saw humming round a bush.  About
the same time, Wilkins fell behind to examine one of the numerous plants
that were constantly distracting his attention, so that our hero was
left for a time to hunt alone with the natives.  He was walking a
considerable distance in advance of them when he came to a dense thicket
which was black as midnight, and so still that the falling of a leaf
might have been heard.  Tom Brown surveyed the thicket quietly for a few
seconds, and observing the marks of some large animal on the ground, he
beckoned to the Caffre who carried his spare double-barrelled gun.  Up
to this date our hero had not shot any of the large denizens of the
African wilderness, and now that he was suddenly called upon to face
what he believed to be one of them, he acquitted himself in a way that
might have been expected of a member of the Brown family!  He put off
his shoes, cocked his piece, and entered the thicket alone--the natives
declining to enter along with him.  Coolly and very quietly he advanced
into the gloomy twilight of the thicket, and as he went he felt as
though all the vivid dreams and fervid imaginings about lions that had
ever passed through his mind from earliest infancy were rushing upon him
in a concentrated essence!  Yet there was no outward indication of the
burning thoughts within, save in the sparkle of his dark brown eye, and
the flush of his brown cheek.  As he wore a brown shooting-coat, he may
be said to have been at that time Brown all over!

He had proceeded about fifty yards or so when, just as he turned a
winding in the path, he found himself face to face with an old
buffalo-bull, fast asleep, and lying down not ten yards off.  To drop on
one knee and level his piece was the work of an instant, but
unfortunately he snapped a dry twig in doing so.  The eyes of the huge
brute opened instantly, and he had half risen before the loud report of
the gun rang through the thicket.  Leaping up, Tom Brown took advantage
of the smoke to run back a few yards and spring behind a bush, where he
waited to observe the result of his shot.  It was more tremendous then
he had expected.  A crash on his right told him that another, and
unsuspected, denizen of the thicket had been scared from his lair, while
the one he had fired at was on his legs snuffing the air for his enemy.
Evidently the wind had been favourable, for immediately he made a
dead-set and charged right through the bush behind which our hero was
concealed.  Tom leaped on one side; the buffalo-bull turned short round
and made another dash at him.  There was only the remnant of the
shattered bush between the two; the buffalo stood for a few seconds
eyeing him furiously, the blood streaming down its face from a
bullet-hole between the two eyes, and its head garnished with a torn
mass of the bush.  Again it charged, and again Tom, unable to get a
favourable chance for his second barrel, leaped aside and evaded it with
difficulty.  The bush was now trampled down, and scarcely formed a
shadow of a screen between them; nevertheless Tom stood his ground,
hoping to get a shot at the bull's side, and never for a single instant
taking his eye off him.  Once more he charged, and again our hero
escaped.  He did not venture, however, to stand another, but turned and
fled, closely followed by the infuriated animal.

A few yards in front the path turned at almost right angles.  Tom
thought he felt the hot breath of his pursuer on his neck as he doubled
actively round the corner.  His enemy could neither diverge from nor
check his onward career; right through a fearfully tangled thicket he
went, and broke into the open beyond, carrying an immense pile of
rubbish on his horns.  Tom instantly threw himself on his back in the
thicket to avoid being seen, and hoped that his native followers would
now attract the bull's attention, but not one of them made his
appearance, so he started up, and just as the disappointed animal had
broken away over the plain, going straight from him, he gave him the
second barrel, and hit him high up on the last rib on the off side, in
front of the hip.  He threw up his tail, made a tremendous bound in the
air, dashed through bush-thorns so dense and close that it seemed
perfectly marvellous how he managed it, and fell dead within two hundred
yards.

Note.  If the reader should desire fuller accounts of such battles, we
recommend to him _African Hunting_, a very interesting work, by W.C.
Baldwin, Esquire, to whom, with Dr Livingstone, Du Chaillu, and others,
I am indebted for most of the information contained in this volume,--
R.M.B.

The moment it fell the natives descended from the different trees in
which they had taken refuge at the commencement of the fray, and were
lavish in their compliments; but Tom, who felt that he had been deserted
in the hour of need, did not receive these very graciously, and there is
no saying how far he might have proceeded in rebuking his followers (for
the Brown family is pugnacious under provocation) had not the major's
voice been heard in the distance, shouting, "Hallo! look out! a buffalo!
where are you, Tom Brown, Wilkins?"

"Hallo!" he added, bursting suddenly into the open where they were
standing, "what's this--a--buffalo? dead!  Have 'ee killed him? why, I
saw him alive not two minutes--"

His speech was cut short by a loud roar, as the buffalo he had been in
chase of, scared by the approach of Wilkins, burst through the underwood
and charged down on the whole party.  They fled right and left, but as
the brute passed, Wilkins, from the other side of the open, fired at it
and put a ball in just behind the shoulder-blade.  It did not fall,
however, and the three hunters ran after it at full speed, Wilkins
leading, Tom Brown next, and the major last.  The natives kept well out
of harm's way on either side; not that they were unusually timid
fellows, but they probably felt that where such able hands were at work
it was unnecessary for them to interfere!

As the major went racing clumsily along--for he was what may be called
an ill-jointed man, nevertheless as bold as a lion and a capital shot--
he heard a clatter of hoofs behind him, and, looking over his shoulder,
observed another buffalo in full career behind.  He stopped instantly,
took quick aim at the animal's breast, and fired, but apparently without
effect.  There chanced to be a forked tree close at hand, to which the
major rushed and scrambled up with amazing rapidity.  He was knocked out
of it again quite as quickly by the shock of the tremendous charge made
by the buffalo, which almost split its skull, and rolled over dead at
the tree-root, shot right through the heart.

Meanwhile Tom Brown and the lieutenant had overtaken and killed the
other animal, so that they returned to camp well laden with the best
part of the meat of three buffaloes.

Here, while resting after the toils of the day, beside the roaring
camp-fires, and eating their well-earned supper, Hicks the trader told
them that a native had brought news of a desperate attack by lions on a
kraal not more than a day's journey from where they lay.

"It's not far out o' the road," said Hicks, who was a white man--of what
country no one knew--with a skin so weather-beaten by constant exposure
that it was more like leather than flesh; "if you want some sport in
that way, I'd advise 'ee to go there to-morrow."

"Want some sport in that way!" echoed Wilkins in an excited tone; "why,
what do you suppose we came here for?  _Of course_ we'll go there at
once; that is, if my comrades have no objection."

"With all my heart," said the major with a smile as he carefully filled
his beloved pipe.

Tom Brown said nothing; but he smoked his pipe quietly, and nodded his
head gently, and felt a slight but decided swelling of the heart, as he
murmured inwardly to himself, "Yes, I'll have a slap at the lions
to-morrow."



CHAPTER THREE.

IN WHICH GREAT DEEDS ARE DONE, AND TOM BROWN HAS A NARROW ESCAPE.

But Tom was wrong.  Either the report had been false, or the lions had a
special intimation that certain destruction approached them; for our
hunters waited two nights at the native kraal without seeing one,
although the black king thereof stoutly affirmed that they had attacked
the cattle enclosures nearly every night for a week past, and committed
great havoc.

One piece of good fortune, however, attended them, which was that they
unexpectedly met with the large party which the major had expressed his
wish to join.  It consisted of about thirty men, four of whom were
sportsmen, and the rest natives, with about twenty women and children,
twelve horses, seventy oxen, five wagons, and a few dogs; all under the
leadership of a trader named Hardy.

Numerous though the oxen were, there were not too many of them, as the
reader may easily believe when we tell him that the wagons were very
large, clumsy, and heavily laden,--one of them, besides other things,
carrying a small boat--and that it occasionally required the powers of
twenty oxen to drag one wagon up some of the bad hills they encountered
on the journey to the Zulu country.

The four sportsmen, who were named respectively Pearson, Ogilvie, Anson,
and Brand, were overjoyed at the addition to the party of Tom Brown and
his companions, the more so that Tom was a doctor, for the constitutions
of two of them, Ogilvie and Anson, had proved to be scarcely capable of
withstanding the evil effects of the climate.  Tom prescribed for them
so successfully that they soon regained their strength; a result which
he believed, however, was fully as much due to the cheering effects of
the addition to their social circle as to medicine.

Having rested at the kraal a few days, partly to recruit the travellers,
and partly to give the lions an opportunity of returning and being shot,
the whole band set forth on their journey to the Umveloose river, having
previously rendered the king of the kraal and his subjects happy by a
liberal present of beads, brass wire, blue calico, and blankets.

At the kraal they had procured a large quantity of provisions for the
journey--amobella meal for porridge, mealies, rice, beans, potatoes, and
water-melons; and, while there, they had enjoyed the luxury of as much
milk as they could drink; so that all the party were in pretty good
condition and excellent spirits when they left.  But this did not last
very long, for the weather suddenly changed, and rain fell in immense
quantities.  The long rank grass of those regions became so saturated
that it was impossible to keep one's-self dry; and, to add to their
discomforts, mosquitoes increased in numbers to such an extent that some
of the European travellers could scarcely obtain a wink of sleep.

"Oh dear!" groaned poor Wilkins, one night as he lay between the major
and Tom Brown on the wet grass under the shelter of a bullock-wagon
covered with a wet blanket; "how I wish that the first mosquito had
never been born!"

"If the world could get on without rain," growled the major, "my
felicity would be complete.  There is a particular stream which courses
down the underside of the right shaft of the wagon, and meets with some
obstruction just at the point which causes it to pour continuously down
my neck.  I've shifted my position twice, but it appears to follow me,
and I have had sensations for the last quarter of an hour which induce
me to believe that a rivulet is bridged by the small of my back.  Ha!
have you killed him this time?"

The latter remark was addressed to Tom Brown, who had for some time past
been vigorously engaged slapping his own face in the vain hope of
slaying his tormentors--vain, not only because they were too quick to be
caught in that way, but also, because, if slain by hundreds at every
blow, there would still have remained thousands more to come on!

"No," replied Tom, with a touch of bitterness in his tone; "he's not
dead yet."

"He?" exclaimed Wilkins; "do you mean to say that you are troubled by
only _one_ of the vile creatures?"

"Oh no!" said Tom; "there are millions of 'em humming viciously round my
head at this moment, but one of them is so big and assiduous that I have
come to recognise his voice--there! d'you hear it?"

"Hear it!" cried Wilkins; "how can you expect me to hear one of yours
when I am engaged with a host of my own?  Ah! but I hear _that_," he
added, laughing, as another tremendous crack resounded from Tom Brown's
cheek; "what a tough skin you must have, to be sure, to stand such
treatment?"

"I am lost in admiration of the amiableness of your temper, Tom,"
remarked the major.  "If I were to get such a slap in the face as that,
even from myself, I could not help flying in a passion.  Hope the enemy
is defeated at last?"

"I--I--think so," said Tom, in that meditative tone which assures the
listener that the speaker is intensely on the _qui vive_; "yes, I
believe I _have_--eh--no--there he--oh!"

Another pistol-shot slap concluded the sentence, and poor Tom's
companions in sorrow burst into a fit of laughter.

"Let 'im bite, sir," growled the deep bass voice of Hardy, who lay under
a neighbouring wagon; "when he's got his beak well shoved into you, and
begins to suck, he can't get away so quick, 'cause of havin' to pull it
out again! hit out hard and quick then, an' you're sure of him.  But the
best way's to let 'em bite, an' go to sleep."

"Good advice; I'll try to take it," said Tom, turning round with a sigh,
and burying his face in the blanket.  His companions followed his
example, and in spite of rain and mosquitoes were soon fast asleep.

This wet weather had a very depressing effect on their spirits, and made
the region so unhealthy that it began ere long to tell on the weaker
members of the sporting party; as for the natives, they, being inured to
it, were proof against everything.  Being all but naked, they did not
suffer from wet garments; and as they smeared their bodies over with
grease, the rain ran off them as it does off the ducks.  However, it did
not last long at that time.  In a few days the sky cleared, and the
spirits of the party revived with their health.

The amount of animal life seen on the journey was amazing.  All
travellers in Africa have borne testimony to the fact that it teems with
animals.  The descriptions which, not many years ago, were deemed
fabulous, have been repeated to us as sober truth by men of
unquestionable veracity.  Indeed, no description, however vivid, can
convey to those whose personal experience has been limited to the fields
of Britain an adequate conception of the teeming millions of living
creatures, great and small, four-footed and winged, which swarm in the
dense forests and mighty plains of the African wilderness.

Of course the hunters of the party were constantly on the alert, and
great was the slaughter done; but great also was the capacity of the
natives for devouring animal food, so that very little of the sport
could be looked upon in the light of life taken in vain.

Huge and curious, as well as beautiful, were the creatures "bagged."

On one occasion Tom Brown went out with the rest of the party on
horseback after some elephants, the tracks of which had been seen the
day before.  In the course of the day Tom was separated from his
companions, but being of an easy-going disposition, and having been born
with a thorough belief in the impossibility of anything very serious
happening to him, he was not much alarmed, and continued to follow what
he thought were the tracks of elephants, expecting every moment to fall
in with, or hear shots from his friends.

During the journey Tom had seen the major, who was an old sportsman,
kill several elephants, so that he conceived himself to be quite able
for that duty if it should devolve upon him.  He was walking his horse
quietly along a sort of path that skirted a piece of thicket when he
heard a tremendous crashing of trees, and looking up saw a troop of
fifty or sixty elephants dashing away through a grove of mapani-trees.
Tom at once put spurs to his horse, unslung his large-bore
double-barrelled gun, and coming close up to a cow-elephant, sent a ball
into her behind the shoulder.  She did not drop, so he gave her another
shot, when she fell heavily to the ground.

At that moment he heard a shot not far off.  Immediately afterwards
there was a sound of trampling feet which rapidly increased, and in a
few moments the whole band of elephants came rushing back towards him,
having been turned by the major with a party of natives.  Not having
completed the loading of his gun, Tom hastily rode behind a dense bush,
and concealed himself as well as he could.  The herd turned aside just
before reaching the bush, and passed him about a hundred yards off with
a tremendous rush, their trunks and tails in the air, and the major and
Wilkins, with a lot of natives and dogs, in full pursuit.  Tom was
beginning to regret that he had not fired a long shot at them, when he
heard a crash behind him, and looking back saw a monstrous bull-elephant
making a terrific charge at him.  It was a wounded animal, mad with rage
and pain, which had caught sight of him in passing.  Almost before he
was aware of its approach it went crashing through the thicket
trumpeting furiously, and tearing down trees, bushes, and everything
before it.

Tom lay forward on the neck of his steed and drove the spurs into him.
Away they went like the wind with the elephant close behind.  In his
anxiety Tom cast his eyes too often behind him.  Before he could avoid
it he was close on the top of a very steep slope, or stony hill, which
went down about fifty yards to the plain below.  To rein up was
impossible, to go down would have been almost certain death to horse and
man.  With death before and behind, our hero had no alternative but to
swerve, for the trunk of the huge creature was already almost over the
haunch of his terrified horse.  He did swerve.  Pulling the horse on his
haunches, and swinging him round at the same moment as if on a pivot, he
made a bound to the left.  The elephant passed him with a shriek like
that of a railway engine, stuck out its feet before it, and went sliding
wildly down the slope--as little boys are sometimes wont to do--sending
dust, atones, and rubbish in a stupendous cloud before him.  At the foot
he lost his balance, and the last that Tom saw of him was a flourish of
his stumpy tail as he went heels over head to the bottom of the hill.
But he could not stop to see more; his horse was away with him, and fled
over the plain on the wings of terror for a mile in the opposite
direction before he consented to be pulled up.

Tom's companions, meanwhile, had shot two elephants--one a cow, the
other a pretty old calf, and on their way back to camp they killed a
buffalo.  The other hunters had been also successful, so that the camp
resounded with noisy demonstrations of joy, and the atmosphere ere long
became redolent of the fumes of roasting meat, while the black bodies of
the natives absolutely glittered with grease.

On summing up the result of the day's work, it was found that they had
bagged six elephants, three elands, two buffaloes, and a variety of
smaller game.

"A good bag," observed the major as he sipped his tea; "but I have seen
better.  However, we must rest content.  By the way, Pearson, they tell
me you had a narrow escape from a buffalo-bull."

"So I had," replied Pearson, pausing in the midst of a hearty meal that
he was making off a baked elephant's foot; "but for Anson there I
believe it would have been my last hunt."

"How did he help you?" asked Tom Brown.

"Come, tell them, Anson, you know best," said Pearson; "I am too busy
yet to talk."

"Oh, it was simple enough," said Anson with a laugh.  "He and I had gone
off together after a small herd of buffaloes; Ogilvie and Brand were
away following up the spoor of an elephant.  We came upon the buffaloes
unexpectedly, and at the first shot Pearson dropped one dead--shot
through the heart.  We were both on foot, having left our horses behind,
because the ground was too stony for them.  After a hard chase of two
hours we came up with the herd.  Pearson fired at a young bull and broke
its leg, nevertheless it went off briskly on the remaining three, so I
fired and shot off its tail.  This appeared to tickle his fancy, for he
turned at once and charged Pearson, who dropped his gun, sprang into a
thorn-tree and clambered out of reach only just in time to escape the
brute, which grazed his heel in passing.  Poor fellow, he got such a
fright--"

"False!" cried Pearson, with his mouth full of meat.

"That he fell off the tree," continued Anson, "and the bull turned to
charge again, so, out of pity for my friend, I stopped him with a bullet
in the chest."

"It was well done, Anson, I'm your debtor for life," said Pearson,
holding out his plate; "just give me a little more of that splendid foot
and you'll increase the debt immeasurably; you see the adventure has not
taken away my appetite."

As he said this a savage growl was heard close to the wagon beside which
they were seated.  It was followed by a howl from one of the dogs.  They
all sprang up and ran towards the spot whence the sound came, just in
time to see a panther bounding away with one of the dogs.  A terrific
yell of rage burst from every one, and each hastily threw something or
other at the bold intruder.  Pearson flung his knife and fork at it,
having forgotten to drop those light weapons when he leaped up.  The
major hurled after it a heavy mass of firewood.  Hardy and Hicks flung
the huge marrow bones with which they happened to be engaged at the
time.  Tom Brown swung a large axe after it, and Wilkins, in
desperation, shied his cap at it!  But all missed their mark, and the
panther would certainly have carried off his prize had not a very tall
and powerfully-built Caffre, named Mafuta, darted at it an assegai, or
long native spear, which, wounding it slightly, caused it to drop its
prey.

The poor dog was severely hurt about the neck; it recovered, however,
soon afterwards.  The same night on which this occurred, one of the oxen
was killed by a lion, but although all the people were more or less on
the alert, the monarch of the woods escaped unpunished.

At an early hour next morning the train of wagons got into motion, and
the hunters went out to their usual occupation.



CHAPTER FOUR.

TOM SEES WONDERFUL SIGHTS, AND AT LAST HAS HIS DREAMS FULFILLED.

Thus the travellers advanced day by day--sometimes in sunshine,
sometimes in rain, now successful in hunting and now unsuccessful--until
they reached the Zulu country and the banks of the river Umveloose.

Here they called a halt for a time, and began to hunt vigorously in all
directions, aiming at every species of game.  Our hero's first
introduction to the river scenery was interesting, to himself at least,
and singular.  Having placed himself at the disposal of his friends to
be appointed to whatever duty they pleased, he was sent off in the small
boat belonging to the party with plenty of ammunition and provisions;
Lieutenant Wilkins being his companion, and the tall Caffre, Mafuta, his
guide and instructor in African warfare against the brute creation.

Between Tom Brown and this man Mafuta there had sprung up a species of
friendship, which grew stronger the more they became acquainted with
each other.  Mafuta was an unusually honest, affectionate and
straightforward Caffre, who had been much in the settlements, and could
speak a little English.  He first drew forth our hero's regard by
nursing him with almost womanly tenderness during a three-days' severe
illness at the beginning of the journey.  Thereafter Tom gained his
affection by repeated little acts of kindness, done in a quiet, offhand,
careless way, as though he had pleasure in being kind, and did not care
much whether the kindness were appreciated or not.  He also excited his
admiration by the imperturbable coolness and smiling good-humour with
which he received every event in life; from the offer of an elephant
steak to the charge of a black rhinoceros.  Mafuta was also fond of
Wilkins; but he worshipped Tom Brown.

On reaching the river the boat was launched on a part where there was
nothing particularly striking to merit notice, so Tom said: "D'you know,
Bob, I've taken a fancy to ramble alone for an hour along the banks of
this river; will you, like a good fellow, get into the boat with Mafuta,
and let me go along the banks on foot for a few miles.  As your work
will only be dropping down stream, you won't find it hard."

"By all means, Tom; a pleasant journey to you but see that you don't
fall into the jaws of a lion or a crocodile!"

Our hero smiled as he waved his hand to his companions, and, turning
away, was soon lost to sight among the bushes.

Now the fact was that Tom Brown, so far from being the unromantic
creature that his name is erroneously supposed to imply, had such a
superabundance of romance in his composition that he had, for some time
past, longed to get away from his companions, and the noise and bustle
of the wagon train, and go off alone into the solitudes of the great
African wilderness, there to revel in the full enjoyment of the fact
that he was in reality far far away from the haunts of civilised men;
alone with primeval Nature!

The day happened to be delightful.  Not too hot for walking, yet warm
enough to incline one of Tom's temperament to throw open his vest and
bare his broad bosom to any breeze that might chance to gambol through
the forest.  With characteristic nonchalance he pushed his wideawake off
his forehead for the sake of coolness, and in so doing tilted it very
much on one side, which gave him a somewhat rakish air.  He carried his
heavy double-barrelled gun on one of his broad shoulders with the butt
behind him, and his right hand grasping the muzzle, while in his left he
held a handkerchief, with which he occasionally wiped his heated brow.
It was evident that Tom experienced the effects of the heat much, but he
did not suffer from it.  He perspired profusely, breathed heavily, and
swaggered unwittingly, while a beaming smile played on his ruddy
countenance, which told of peace with himself and with all mankind.

Not so, however, with brute kind, as became apparent after he had
advanced about half a mile in a dreamy state down the banks of the quiet
river, for, happening to observe something of a tawny yellow colour
among the bushes, he brought his gun to the "present" with great
precipitancy, cocked both barrels, and advanced with the utmost caution.

Up to this period he had not been successful in accomplishing his great
wish--the shooting of a lion.  Many a time had he heard the strong
voices of the brutes, and once or twice had seen their forms dimly in
the night sneaking round the bullocks wagons, but he had not yet managed
to get a fair full view of the forest king, or a good shot at him.  His
heart now beat high with hope, for he believed that he was about to
realise his ancient dream.  Slowly, step by step, he advanced, avoiding
the dense bushes, stepping lightly over the small ones, insinuating
himself through holes and round stems, and conducting himself in a way
that would have done credit to a North American Indian, until he gained
a tree, close on the other side of which he knew the tawny object lay.
With beating heart, but steady hand and frowning eye, he advanced
another step and found--that the object was a yellow stone!

There was a sudden motion about Tom's jaws, as if he had gnashed his
teeth, and a short gasp issued from his mouth, but that was all.  The
compressed steam was off; a smile wrinkled his visage immediately after,
and quietly uncocking his gun he threw it over his shoulder and resumed
his march.

On rounding a point a few minutes after, he was again arrested by a
scene which, while it charmed, amazed him.  Often had he observed the
multitudes of living creatures with which the Creator has peopled that
great continent, but never before had he beheld such a concentrated
picture as was presented at that moment.  Before him lay a wide stretch
of the river, so wide, and apparently currentless, that it seemed like a
calm lake, and so perfectly still that every object on and around it was
faithfully mirrored on its depths--even the fleecy clouds that floated
in the calm sky were repeated far down in the azure vault below.

Every part of this beautiful scene teemed with living creatures of every
sort and size, from the huge alligators that lay like stranded logs upon
the mud-banks, basking in the sun, to the tiny plover that waded in
cheerful activity among the sedges.  There were tall reeds in many
places, and among these were thousands of cranes, herons, flamingoes,
and other members of that long-necked and long-legged family; some
engaged in solemnly searching for food, while others, already gorged,
stood gravely on one leg, as if that position assisted digestion, and
watched with quiet satisfaction the proceedings of their companions.
The glassy surface of the mirror was covered in places with a countless
host of geese, widgeons, teals and other water-fowl either gambolling
about in sport, or sleeping away a recent surfeit, and thousands of
other small birds and beasts swarmed about everywhere, giving a sort of
faint indication of the inconceivable numbers of the smaller creatures
which were there, though not visible to the observer.  But Tom's
interest was chiefly centred on the huge animals--the crocodiles and
hippopotami--which sprawled or floated about.

Not far from the bush from behind which he gazed, two large crocodiles
lay basking on a mudbank--rugged and rough in the hide as two ancient
trees--the one using the back of the other as a pillow.  A little beyond
these three hippopotami floated in the water, only the upper parts of
their heads and rotund bodies being visible.  These lay so motionless
that they might have been mistaken for floating puncheons, and the
observer would have thought them asleep, had he not noticed an
occasional turn of the whites of their small eyes, and a slight puff of
steam and water from their tightly compressed nostrils.

Truly it was a grand sight; one calculated to awaken in the most
unthinking minds some thoughts about the infinite power of Him who made
them all.  Tom's mind did rise upwards for a little.  Although not at
that time very seriously inclined, he was, nevertheless, a man whose
mind had been trained to think with reverence of his Creator.  He was
engaged in solemn contemplation of the scene before him, when a deep
gurgling plunge almost under the bush at his feet aroused him.  It was a
hippopotamus which had been standing on the river-brink within six yards
of the muzzle of his gun.  Tom cocked and presented, but thinking that
the position of the animal did not afford him a good chance of killing
it, he waited, feeling sure, at all events, of securing one of the
various huge creatures that were lying so near him.

It says much for Tom's powers of wood-craft that he managed to advance
as near as he did to these animals without disturbing them.  Few hunters
could have done it; but it must be remembered that our hero, like all
other heroes, was a man of unusual and astonishing parts!

While he hesitated for a few moments, undecided whether to fire at the
crocodiles or the hippopotami, one of the latter suddenly uttered a
prolonged snort or snore, and opened a mouth of such awful dimensions
that Tom's head and shoulders would have easily found room in it.  As he
gazed into the dark red throat he felt that the wild fictions of
untravelled men fell far short of the facts of actual life, in regard to
grandeur and horribility, and it struck him that if the front half of a
hippopotamus were sewed to the rear half of a crocodile there would be
produced a monster incomparably more grand and horrible than the
fiercest dragon St. George ever slew!  While these ideas were passing
quickly through his excited brain, the boat, which he had totally
forgotten, came quietly round the bend of the river above him.  But the
sharp-eared and quick-eyed denizens of the wilderness were on the alert;
it had scarcely shown its prow round the point of land, and the
hippopotamus had not quite completed its lazy yawn, when the entire
winged host rose with a rushing noise so thunderous, yet so soft and
peculiar, that words cannot convey the idea of the sight and sound.  At
the same time, many grunts and snorts and heavy plunges told that sundry
amphibious creatures had been disturbed, and were seeking safety in the
clear stream.

Tom hesitated no longer.  He aimed at the yawning hippopotamus and
fired, hitting it on the skull, but at such an angle that the ball
glanced off.  If there was noise before, the riot and confusion now was
indescribable!  Water-fowl that had not moved at the first alarm now
sprang in myriads from reeds and sedges, and darkened the very air.  The
two alligators just under Tom's nose spun their tails in the air with a
whirl of awful energy that seemed quite incompatible with their sluggish
nature, and rushed into the river.  The hippopotami dived with a splash
that covered the water around them with foam, and sent a wave of
considerable size to the shore.  The sudden burst of excitement, noise,
splutter, and confusion was not less impressive than the previous calm
had been, but Tom had not leisure to contemplate it, being himself
involved in the whirl.  Four shots from the boat told him that his
companions were also engaged.  One of the crocodiles re-appeared
suddenly as if to have another look at Tom, who discharged his second
barrel at it, sent a ball into its brain, and turned it over dead.  He
reloaded in great haste, and was in the act of capping when he heard a
loud shout in the direction of the boat, and looking up, observed that
Wilkins was standing in the bow gesticulating violently.  He listened
for a moment, but could not make out what he said.

"Hallo!" he cried, "shout louder; I don't hear you."

Again Wilkins shouted at the top of his voice, and waved his arms more
frantically than before.  Tom could not make out the words.  He judged,
however, that no man would put himself to such violent physical exertion
without good reason, so he turned and looked cautiously around him.
Presently he heard a crashing sound in the bushes, and a few moments
afterwards observed three buffaloes tearing along the path in which he
stood.  It was these that Wilkins had seen from the boat when he
attempted in vain to warn his friend.  Tom jumped behind a bush, and as
they passed tried to fire, but the foliage was so dense that he failed
to get a good aim.  Reserving his fire, therefore, he dashed after them
at full speed.  After running some distance the buffaloes stood still,
and the nearest bull turned round and looked at Tom, who instantly sent
a two ounce ball crashing into his shoulder.  This turned them, and they
all three made off at once, but the wounded one fell behind.  Tom
therefore stopped to reload, feeling pretty sure of him.  Starting off
in pursuit, he gained on the wounded animal at every stride, and was
about to fire again, when his limbs were for a moment paralysed, and his
heart was made almost to stand still at the sight of three full-grown
lions which sprang at the unfortunate brute from a neighbouring thicket.
They had no doubt gone there to rest for the day, but the sight of a
lame and bleeding buffalo was a temptation too strong for them.  The
lions did not leap upon him, but, seizing him with their teeth and
claws, stood on their hind legs and tried to tear him down with terrible
ferocity.

Our hero, who, as we have said, was for a few moments bereft of the
power of action, could do nothing but stand and gaze in amazement.  All
the dreams of his youth and manhood were as nothing to this!  The poor
buffalo fought nobly, but it had no chance against such odds, and would
certainly have been torn to pieces and devoured had not Tom recovered
his self-possession in a few minutes.  Creeping up to within thirty
yards he fired at one of the lions with such good aim that it fell dead
almost on the spot, having time only to turn and seize a bush savagely
with its teeth ere it died.  The second barrel was discharged, but not
with the same effect.  Another of the lions was wounded, and sprang into
the bushes with an angry roar.  The third merely lifted his head, looked
at Tom for a moment as if with indignant surprise, and then went on
tearing at the carcass as hard as ever.

With a feeling of thankfulness that this particular king of the forest
had treated him so contemptuously, Tom slunk behind a tree and recharged
his gun, after which he advanced cautiously and sent a ball crashing
through the lion's shoulder.  It _ought_ to have killed him, he thought,
but it did not, for he made off as fast as possible, just as Wilkins and
Mafuta arrived, panting, on the scene of action.

"What a magnificent fellow!" exclaimed Wilkins going up to the dead
lion.  "Bravissimo, Tom, you've done it at last."

"Done _it_!" cried Tom, as he loaded hastily, "why, I've all but done
_three_.  Follow up the trail, man, as fast as you can.  I'll overtake
you in no time!"

Wilkins did not wait for more, but dashed into the thicket after Mafuta,
who had preceded him.

Tom was quickly on their heels, and they had not gone far when one of
the wounded lions was found lying on the ground quite dead.  The other
was not overtaken, but, as Wilkins said, two lions, a buffalo, and a
hippopotamus, which latter he had shot from the boat, was not a bad
beginning!

That night they encamped under the shelter of a spreading tree, and as
they reclined at full length between two fires, which were kindled to
keep off the wild beasts, enjoying a pipe after having feasted
luxuriously on hippopotamus steaks and marrow bones, Tom Brown remarked:
"Well, my dream has been realised at last, and, upon my word, I have not
been disappointed."



CHAPTER FIVE.

MORE ABOUT LIONS!

As we have now introduced our readers to the lion, we think it but right
to say something about his aspect and character, as given by some of our
best authorities.

Dr Livingstone, that greatest of African travellers, seems to be of
opinion that untravelled men are prone to overrate the lion, both as to
his appearance and courage.  From him we learn that when a lion is met
with in the day-time--a circumstance by no means uncommon in Africa--the
traveller will be disappointed with the appearance of the animal which
they had been accustomed to hear styled "noble" and "majestic"; that it
is somewhat larger than the largest-sized dog, partakes very strongly of
the canine features, and does not much resemble our usual drawings of
lions, which he condemns as bearing too strong a resemblance to "old
women's faces in nightcaps."  The Doctor also talks slightingly of its
roar, and says that having made particular inquiry as to the opinions of
European travellers who have heard the roar of the lion and that of the
ostrich, he found they invariably admitted that they could not detect
any difference between the two when the animals were at a distance.

Now, really, although we are bound to admit that the Doctor's opinion is
of great weight, we cannot, without a humble protest, allow ourselves to
be thus ruthlessly stripped of all our romantic notions in regard to the
"king of beasts"!  We suspect that the Doctor, disgusted with the
"twaddle" that has undoubtedly been talked in all ages about the
"magnanimity" of the "noble" lion and his "terrific aspect," has been
led unintentionally to underrate him.  In this land we have
opportunities of seeing and hearing the lion in his captive state; and
we think that most readers will sympathise with us when we say that even
in a cage he has at least a very grand and noble _aspect_; and that,
when about to be fed, his intermittent growls and small roars, so to
speak, have something very awful and impressive, which nothing like the
bellowing of a bull can at all equal.  To say that the roar of the
ostrich is equal to that of the lion is no argument at all; it does not
degrade the latter, it merely exalts the former.  And further, in regard
to aspect, the illustrations in Dr Livingstone's own most interesting
work go far to prove that the lion is magnificent in appearance.

Thus much we dare venture to say, because on these points we, with all
men, are in a position to form a judgment for ourselves.  We, however,
readily believe the great traveller when he tells us that nothing he
ever heard of the lion led him to ascribe to it a noble _character_, and
that it possesses none of the nobility of the Newfoundland or St.
Bernard Dogs.  The courage of the lion, although not greater than that
of most large and powerful animals, is, without doubt, quite sufficient!
But he fortunately possesses a wholesome dread of man, else would he
certainly long ere now have become king of Africa as well as of beasts.
When encountered in the day-time, he usually stands a second or two
gazing, then turns slowly round and walks leisurely away for a dozen
paces or so, looking over his shoulder as he goes.  Soon he begins to
trot, and, when he thinks himself out of sight, bounds off like a
greyhound.  As a rule, there is not the smallest danger of a lion
attacking man by day, if he be not molested, except when he happens to
have a wife and young family with him.  Then, indeed, his bravery will
induce him to face almost any danger.  If a man happens to pass to
windward of a lion and lioness with cubs, both parents will rush at him,
but instances of this kind ere of rare occurrence.

It would seem that light of any kind has a tendency to scare away lions.
Bright moonlight is a safeguard against them, as well as daylight.  So
well is this understood, that on moonlight nights it is not thought
necessary to tie up the oxen, which are left loose by the wagons, while
on dark rainy nights it is deemed absolutely necessary to tether them,
because if a lion chanced to be in the vicinity, he would be almost sure
to attack, and perhaps kill, an ox, notwithstanding the vigilance of
guards and the light of the camp-fires.  He always approaches
stealthily, like the cat, except when wounded; but anything having the
appearance of a trap will induce him to refrain from making the last
fatal spring.  This is a peculiarity of the whole feline species.  It
has been found in India that when a hunter pickets a goat on a plain as
a bait, a tiger has whipped it off so quickly by a stroke of his paw
that it was impossible to take aim.  To obviate this difficulty a small
pit is dug, in the bottom of which the goat is picketed, with a small
stone tied in its ear to make it cry the whole night.  When the
suspicious tiger sees the appearance of a trap he walks round and round
the pit, thus giving the hunter in ambush a fair shot.

When a hungry lion is watching for prey, the sight of any animal will
make him commence stalking it.  On one occasion a man was very busy
stalking a rhinoceros, when, happening to glance behind him, he found to
his consternation that a lion was _stalking him_! he escaped by
springing up a tree.

The strength of the lion is tremendous, owing to the immense mass of
muscle around its jaws, shoulders, and forearms.  What one hears,
however, of his sometimes seizing an ox or a horse in his mouth and
running away with it, as a cat does with a mouse, and even leaping
hedges, etcetera, is nonsense.  Dr Livingstone says that most of the
feats of strength he has seen performed by lions consisted, not in
carrying, but dragging or trailing the carcass along the ground.

He usually seizes his prey by the flank near the hind leg, or by the
throat below the jaw.  He has his particular likings and tit-bits, and
is very expert in carving out the parts of an animal that please him
best.  An eland may be sometimes disembowelled by a lion so completely
that he scarcely seems cut up at all, and the bowels and fatty parts of
the interior form a full meal for the lion, however large or hungry he
may be.  His pert little follower the jackal usually goes after him,
sniffing about and waiting for a share, and is sometimes punished for
his impudent familiarity with a stroke of the lion's paw, which of
course kills him.

Lions are never seen in herds, but sometimes six or eight--probably one
family--are seen hunting together.  Much has been said and written about
the courage of the lion, and his ability to attack and kill any other
animal.  His powers in this respect have been overrated.  It is
questionable if a single lion ever attacks a full-grown buffalo.  When
he assails a calf, the cow will rush upon him, and one toss from her
horns is sufficient to kill him.  The amount of roaring usually heard at
night, when a buffalo is killed, seems to indicate that more than one
lion has been engaged in the fight.  They never attack any elephants,
except the calves.  "Every living thing," writes Livingstone, "retires
before the lordly elephant, yet a full-grown one would be an easier prey
to the lion than a rhinoceros.  The lion rushes off at the mere sight of
this latter beast!"

When a lion grows too old to hunt game, he frequently retires to spend
the decline of life in the suburbs of a native village, where he is well
content to live by killing goats.  A woman or a child happening to go
out at night sometimes falls a prey also.  Being unable, of course, to
alter this style of life, when once he is reduced to it, he becomes
habitually what is styled a "man-eater," and from this circumstance has
arisen the idea that when a lion has once tasted human flesh he prefers
it to any other.  In reality a "man-eater" is an old fellow who cannot
manage to get anything else to eat, and who might perhaps be more
appropriately styled a woman and child eater!  When extreme old age
comes upon him in the remote deserts, far from human habitations, he is
constrained to appease the cravings of hunger with mice!  The African
lion is of a tawny colour, like that of some mastiffs.  The mane in the
male is large, and gives the idea of great power.  In some the ends of
the hair are black, and these go by the name of black-maned lions, but,
as a whole, all of them look of a tawny yellow colour.

Having said thus much about his general character and appearance, we
shall resume the thread of our story, and show how the lions behaved to
Tom Brown and his friends the very night after the event narrated in the
last chapter.

The hunters had got back to the wagons, and were about to turn in for
the night, in order to recruit for the work of the following day, when
the sky became overcast, and gave every indication of a coming storm.  A
buffalo bull had been shot by Pearson an hour before the arrival of our
hero and his companions, and the Caffres were busily engaged on his
carcass.  A fire had been lighted, the animal cut up, and part of him
roasted, and the natives alternately ate a lump of roasted flesh and an
equal quantity of the inside raw!  When the sky began to darken,
however, they desisted for a time, and set about making preparations for
the coming storm.

It burst upon them ere long with awful fury and grandeur, the elements
warring with incredible vehemence.  Rain fell in such floods that it was
scarcely possible to keep the fires burning, and the night was so pitchy
dark that the hand could scarcely be seen when held close to the eyes.
To add to the horror of the scene, crashing peals of thunder appeared to
rend the sky, and these were preceded by flashes of lightning so vivid
that each left the travellers with the impression of being stone-blind.

After an hour or two the storm passed by, leaving them drenched to the
skin.  However, the fires were stirred up, and things made as
comfortable as circumstances would admit of.

Just a little before daybreak they were all wakened by the bellowing of
the oxen and the barking of dogs.

"Something there," muttered Hicks, leaping up and seizing his gun.

The major, Tom Brown, Wilkins, Pearson, and the others were immediately
on their feet and wide awake.  There was just light enough to
distinguish objects dimly when close at hand; but the surrounding woods
resembled a wall of impenetrable darkness.  Close to the wagon in which
our hero lay the natives had erected a temporary hut of grass, about six
feet high.  On the top of this he saw a dark form, which, by the sound
of his voice, he recognised to be that of a native named Jumbo, who was
more noted for good nature and drollery than for courage.  He was
shouting lustily for a percussion-cap.  Tom sprang on the top of the hut
and supplied him with several caps, at the same time exclaiming:--

"Hallo!  Jumbo, don't make such a row.  You'll scare everything away."

"Ho!  Me wish um could," said Jumbo, his teeth chattering in his head
with fear as he listened to the dying groans of a poor ox, and heard the
lions growling and roaring beside him.  They were not more than fourteen
yards off, but so dark was the night that they could not be seen.  The
ox, however, which was a black one, was faintly distinguishable; Tom
Brown therefore aimed, as near as he could guess, about a foot above him
and fired.  No result followed.  He had evidently missed.  While he was
re-loading, the major and Wilkins rushed forward and leaped on the hut,
exclaiming eagerly, "Where are they? have you hit?"  Immediately
afterwards, Pearson, Brand, Ogilvie, and Anson rushed up and attempted
to clamber on the hut.

"No room here," cried the major, resisting them, "quite full outside--
inside not safe!"

"But there's no room on the wagon," pleaded Pearson; "the niggers are
clustering on it like monkeys."

"Can't help it," replied the major, "there's not an inch of--"

Here a tremendous roar interrupted him, and a loud report followed, as
Jumbo and Wilkins, having caught sight of "something" near the carcass,
fired simultaneously.  Pearson and his companions in trouble vanished
like smoke, while the major, failing to see anything, fired in the
direction of the lions on chance.  Tom also fired at what he felt
convinced was the head of a lioness.  Still the animals appeared to be
unhurt and indifferent!  The sportsmen were busy loading when Tom became
aware, for one instant, that something was moving in the air.  Next
moment he was knocked backwards off the hut, head over heels, several
times, having been struck full in the chest by a lion's head.  Half
inclined to believe that he was killed he scrambled to his feet, still
holding fast to his gun, however, like a true hunter, and rushed towards
the wagon, where he found all the Caffres who could not get inside
sticking on the outside, as Pearson had said, like monkeys.  There was
literally no room for more, but Tom cared not for that.  He seized legs,
arms, and hair indiscriminately, and in another moment was on the top of
the living mass.  He had leaped very smartly to this point of vantage,
nevertheless he found Jumbo there before him, chattering worse than
ever!  The major and and Wilkins came up breathless next moment,
clambered halfway up, slipped, and fell to the ground with a united
roar; but making a second attempt, they succeeded in getting up.
Wilkins at once presented in the direction of the lions and again fired.
Whether any of them fell is a matter of dispute, but certain it is that
Wilkins fell, for the recoil of the gun knocked him back, his footing
being insecure, and he went down on the top of a tent which had been
pitched on the other side of the wagon, and broke the pole of it.  After
this several more shots were fired, apparently without success.  While
they were reloading a lion leaped on a goat, which was tethered to the
grass-hut, and carried it away before any one could fire.  Not daring to
descend from their places of security, there the whole party sat in the
cold during the remainder of that night, listening to the growling of
the lions as they feasted on their prey.  It was not till grey dawn
appeared that the enemy beat a retreat, and allowed the shivering
travellers to get once more between the blankets.  They had not lain
long, however, when a double shot aroused them all, and they rushed out
to find that Mafuta had killed a lioness!  She was a splendid creature,
and had succumbed to a bullet sent through her ribs.  It was found on
examination that another ball had hit her just behind the head, and
travelling along the spine, had stuck near the root of the tail.

"Me no hab fire at head," said Mafuta, with a disappointed look.  "Me
hit him in ribs wid wan bar'l, an' miss him wid tother."

"What is that you say?" cried Tom Brown examining the bullet-hole; "ha!
I claim that lioness, because I fired at her head last night, and there
you have the bullet-hole."

"Cut out the ball and see," said Hicks, drawing his knife.

When the ball was extracted it was indeed found to have been fired from
Tom's gun, so, according to sporting law in that region, which ordains
that he who first draws blood claims the game, the lioness was adjudged
to belong to Tom.

Our hero returned to his blankets once more, congratulating himself not
a little on his good fortune, when his attention was arrested by two
shots in succession at no great distance.  Seizing his gun he ran to the
place expecting to find that more game had been slain, but he only found
Hardy standing over one of the oxen which was breathing its last.  The
lions had driven it mad with terror during the night, and the trader had
been obliged to shoot it.  This was a great misfortune, for it was about
the best ox in the train.



CHAPTER SIX.

GIVES A FEW HINTS TO WOULD-BE HUNTERS, AND A FRIEND IN NEED IS
INTRODUCED.

In describing the principal incidents of a long journey, it is
impossible to avoid crowding them together, so as to give a somewhat
false impression of the expedition as a whole.  The reader must not
suppose that our hunters were perpetually engaged in fierce and deadly
conflict with wild beasts and furious elements!  Although travelling in
Africa involves a good deal more of this than is to be experienced in
most other parts of the world, it is not without its periods of calm and
repose.  Neither must it be imagined that the hunters--whom hitherto we
have unavoidably exhibited in the light of men incapable of being
overcome either by fatigues or alarms--were always in robust health,
ready at any moment to leap into the grasp of a lion or the jaws of a
crocodile.  Their life, on the whole, was checkered.  Sometimes health
prevailed in the camp, and all went on well and heartily; so that they
felt disposed to regard wagon-travelling--in the words of a writer of
great experience--as a prolonged system of picnicking, excellent for the
health, and agreeable to those who are not over-fastidious about
trifles, and who delight in being in the open air.  At other times,
especially when passing through unhealthy regions, some of their number
were brought very low by severe illness, and others--even the
strongest--suffered from the depressing influence of a deadly climate.
But they were all men of true pluck, who persevered through heat and
cold, health and sickness, until, in two instances, death terminated
their career.

It may not be out of place here to make a few remarks for the benefit of
those ardent spirits who feel desperately heroic and emulative when
reading at their own firesides, and who are tempted by descriptions of
adventure to set their hearts on going forth to "do and dare," as others
have done and dared before them!  All men are not heroes, and in many
countries men may become average hunters without being particularly
heroic.  In Norway, for instance, and in North America, any man of
ordinary courage may become a Nimrod; and even heroes will have
opportunities afforded them of facing dangers of a sufficiently
appalling nature, if they choose to throw themselves in their way; but
in Africa a man must be _really_ a hero if he would come off scatheless
and with credit.  We have proved this to some extent already, and more
proof is yet to come.  The dangers that one encounters in hunting there
are not only very great and sufficiently numerous, but they are
absolutely unavoidable.  The writer before quoted says on this point: "A
young sportsman, no matter how great among foxes, pheasants, and hounds,
would do well to pause before resolving to brave fever for the
excitement of risking the terrific charge of the elephant.  The step of
that enormous brute when charging the hunter, though apparently not
quick, is so long that the pace equals the speed of a good horse at a
canter.  Its trumpeting or screaming when infuriated is more like what
the shriek of a French steam-whistle would be to a man standing on the
dangerous part of a railroad than any other earthly sound.  A horse
unused to it will sometimes stand shivering instead of taking his rider
out of danger.  It has happened often that the poor animal's legs do
their duty so badly that he falls and exposes his rider to be trodden
into a mummy; or losing his presence of mind, the rider may allow the
horse to dash under a tree, and crack his cranium against a branch.  As
one charge of an elephant has often been enough to make embryo hunters
bid a final adieu to the chase, incipient Nimrods would do well to try
their nerves by standing on railways till the engines are within a few
yards of them, before going to Africa!"

Begging pardon for this digression, we return to our tale.  While our
sportsmen were advancing in company with the bullock-wagons one evening,
at the close of a long and trying day, in which they had suffered a good
deal from want of good water, they fell in with another party travelling
in the opposite direction, and found that they belonged to the train of
a missionary who had been on an expedition into the interior.

They gladly availed themselves of the opportunity thus afforded of
encamping with a countryman, and called a halt for the night at a spot
where a desert well existed.

As they sat round the fire that night, the missionary gave them some
interesting and useful information about the country and the habits of
the animals, as well as the condition of the natives.

"Those who inhabit this region," said he, "have always been very
friendly to us, and listen attentively to instruction conveyed to them
in their own tongue.  It is, however, difficult to give an idea to an
Englishman of the little effect produced by our teaching, because no one
can realise the degradation to which their minds have sunk by centuries
of barbarism and hard struggling for the necessaries of life.  Like most
other savages, they listen with respect and attention to our talk; but
when we kneel down and address an unseen Being, the position and the act
often appear to them so ridiculous, that they cannot refrain from
bursting into uncontrollable laughter.  After a short time, however,
they get over this tendency.  I was once present when a brother
missionary attempted to sing in the midst of a wild heathen tribe of
natives who had no music in their composition, and the effect on the
risible faculties of the audience was such that the tears actually ran
down their cheeks."

"Surely, if this be so," said Tom Brown, "it is scarcely worth your
while to incur so much labour, expense, and hardship for the sake of
results so trifling."

"I have not spoken of results, but of beginnings," replied the
missionary.  "Where our efforts have been long-continued we have,
through God's blessing, been successful, I sincerely believe, in
bringing souls to the Saviour.  Of the effects of long-continued
instruction there can be no reasonable doubt, and a mere nominal belief
has never been considered by any body of missionaries as a sufficient
proof of conversion.  True, our progress has been slow, and our
difficulties have been great; but let me ask, my dear sir, has the
slowness of your own journey to this point, and its great difficulty,
damped your ardour or induced you to think it scarcely worth your while
to go on?"

"Certainly not," replied Tom; "I don't mean to give in yet.  I confess
that our `bag' is not at present very large--nothing compared to what
some sportsmen have had; but then if we persevere for a few months we
are almost certain to succeed, whereas in your case the labour of many
years seems to have been very much in vain."

"Not in vain," answered the other, "our influence has been powerfully
felt, although the results are not obviously clear to every one who
casts a mere passing glance at us and our field of labour.  But you
speak of persevering labour in hunting as being almost certain of
success, whereas we missionaries are _absolutely_ certain of it, because
the Word, which cannot err, tells us that our labour is not in vain in
the Lord, and, besides, even though we had no results at all to point
to, we have the command, from which, even if we would, we cannot escape,
`Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.'"

"Well, sir," said the major, with the air of a man who highly approves
of the philanthropic efforts of all men, so long as they do not
interfere with the even tenor of his own way, "I am sure that your
disinterested labours merit the gratitude of all good men, and I
heartily wish you success.  In the course of your remarks to-night you
have happened to mention that peculiar bird the ostrich.  May I ask if
you have seen many of late?"

The missionary smiled at this very obvious attempt to change the subject
of conversation, but readily fell in with the major's humour, and
replied--

"Oh yes, you will find plenty of them in the course of a few days, if
you hold on the course you are going."

"Is it true that he goes at the pace of a railway locomotive?" asked
Wilkins.

"It is not possible," replied the missionary, laughing, "to give a
direct answer to that question, inasmuch as the speed of the locomotive
varies."

"Well, say thirty miles an hour," said Wilkins.

"His pace is not far short of that," answered the other.  "When walking,
his step is about twenty-six inches long, but when terrified and forced
to run, his stride is from twelve to fourteen feet in length.  Once I
had a pretty fair opportunity of counting his rate of speed with a
stop-watch, and found that there were about thirty steps in ten seconds;
this, taking his average stride at twelve feet, gives a speed of
twenty-six miles an hour.  Generally speaking, one's eye can no more
follow the legs than it can the spokes of a carriage wheel in rapid
motion."

"I do hope we may succeed in falling in with one," observed the major.

"If you do there is not much chance of your shooting it," said the
missionary.

"Why not?"

"Because he is so difficult to approach.  Usually he feeds on some open
spot where no one can approach him without being detected by his wary
eye.  However, you have this in your favour, that his stupidity is
superior to his extreme caution.  If a wagon should chance to move along
far to windward of him, he evidently thinks it is trying to circumvent
him, for instead of making off to leeward, as he might easily do, he
rushes up to windward with the intention of passing _ahead_ of the
wagon, and sometimes passes so near the front oxen that one may get a
shot at the silly thing.  I have seen this stupidity of his taken
advantage of when he was feeding in a valley open at both ends.  A
number of men would commence running as if to cut off his retreat from
the end through which the wind came, and although he had the whole
country hundreds of miles before him by going to the other end, he
rushed madly on to get past the men, and so was speared, for it is one
of his peculiarities that he never swerves from the course he has once
adopted, but rushes wildly and blindly forward, anxious only to increase
his speed.  Sometimes a horseman may succeed in killing him by cutting
across his undeviating course.  It is interesting to notice a
resemblance between this huge bird and our English wild duck or plover.
I have several times seen newly-hatched young in charge of a
cock-ostrich who made a very good attempt at appearing lame in order to
draw off the attention of pursuers.  The young squat down and remain
immoveable, when too small to run far, but they attain a wonderful
degree of speed when about the size of common fowls.  It requires the
utmost address of the bushmen, creeping for miles on their stomach, to
stalk them successfully; yet the quantity of feathers collected annually
shows that the numbers slain must be considerable, as each bird has only
a few feathers in the wings and tail."

"Well," observed the major, shaking the ashes out of his pipe, "your
account of the bird makes me hope that we shall fall in with him before
our expedition is over."

"Do you mean to be out long?"

"As long as we can manage, which will be a considerable time," answered
the major, "because we are well supplied with everything, except, I
regret to say, medicine.  The fact is that none of us thought much about
that, for we have always been in such a robust state of health that we
have scarce believed in the possibility of our being knocked down; but
the first few weeks of our journey hither taught some of us a lesson
when too late."

"Ah, we are often taught lessons when too late," said the missionary;
"however, it is not too late on this occasion, for I am happy to say
that I can supply you with all the physic you require."

The major expressed much gratification on hearing this, and indeed he
felt it, for the country into which they were about to penetrate was
said to be rather unhealthy.

"You are very kind, sir," he said; "my companions and I shall feel
deeply indebted to you for this opportune assistance."

"Are you quite sure," asked the missionary pointedly, "that you are
supplied with everything else that you require?"

"I think so," replied the major.  "Let me see--yes, I don't know that we
need anything more, now that you have so kindly offered to supply us
with physic, which I had always held, up to the period of my residence
in Africa, was fit only to be thrown to the dog."

The missionary looked earnestly in the major's face, and said--

"Excuse me, sir, have you got a Bible?"

"Well--a--really, my dear sir," he replied, somewhat confusedly, "I must
confess that I have not.  The fact is, that it is somewhat inconvenient
to carry books in such regions, and I did not think of bringing a Bible.
Perhaps some one of our party may have one, however."

None of the party replied to the major's look except Tom Brown, who
quietly said--

"There is one, I believe, in the bottom of my trunk; one of my sisters
told me she put it there, but I cannot say positively that I have seen
it."

"Will you accept of one?" said the missionary, rising; "we start at an
early hour in the morning, and before going I would like to remind you,
gentlemen, that eternity is near--nearer perchance than we suppose to
some of us, and that medicine is required for the soul even more than
for the body.  Jesus Christ, the great Physician, will teach you how to
use it, if you will seek advice from himself.  I feel assured that you
will not take this parting word ill.  Good night, gentlemen.  I will
give the drugs to your guide before leaving, and pray that God may
prosper you in your way and give you success."

There was a long silence round the camp-fire after the missionary had
left.  When night closed in, and the sportsmen had retired to rest, the
minds of most of them dwelt somewhat seriously on the great truth which
he had stated--that medicine is needed not only for the body but the
soul.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

DESCRIBES RIVER HUNTING.

"Well, major, what are your orders for the day?" asked Tom Brown one
fine morning after breakfast, while they were enjoying their usual pipe
under the shade of a large umbrageous tree.

"You'd better try the river that we have just come to," said the major.

"Do you think me amphibious, that you should always assign me that
work?" asked Tom.

"Not exactly, Tom, but I know you are fond of telling fibs, and perhaps
the amphibious animals may afford you some scope in that way.  At all
events they are capable of such astonishing feats that if you merely
relate the truth about them you will be sure to get credit in England
for telling fibs--like poor Mungo Park, who was laughed at all his life
for a notorious drawer of the long-bow, although there never was a more
truthful man."

"People won't judge _us_ so harshly, major," said Wilkins; "for so many
African travellers have corroborated Mungo Park's stories that the truth
is pretty well known and believed by people of average education.  But
pray is it your lordship's pleasure that I should accompany Tom?  You
know he cannot take care of himself, and no one of the party can act so
powerfully as a check on his inveterate propensity to inordinate smoking
as myself."

"You must have studied Johnson's dictionary very closely in your
boyhood," said Tom, puffing a prolonged cloud as a termination to the
sentence.

"But, major, if you do condemn me to his company, please let us have
Mafuta again, for Wilkins and I are like two uncongenial stones, and he
acts as lime to keep us together."

"Don't you think that Hicks had better be consulted before we make
arrangements?" suggested Pearson.

"Hear, hear," cried Ogilvie; "and I should like to know what is to be
done with Brand and Anson, for they are both very much down with fever
of some sort this morning."

"Leave Jumbo with them," said Tom Brown; "he's better at nursing than
hunting.  By the way, was it not he who nursed the native that died last
night in the kraal?"

"It was, and they say he killed the poor nigger by careless treatment,"
said Pearson.

"What nigger do you refer to?" asked Ogilvie.

"The one who died--but, I forgot, you were out after that hyena when it
happened, and so I suppose have not heard of it," said Pearson.  "We had
a funeral in the village over there last night, and they say that our
fellow Jumbo, who it seems was once a friend of the sick man, offered to
sit up with him last night.  There is a rumour that he was an enemy of
Jumbo's, and that our cowardly scoundrel made this offer in order to
have an opportunity of killing him in a quiet way.  Hicks even goes the
length of saying he is sure that Jumbo killed him, for when he saw the
sick man last he was under the impression what he had got the turn, and
gave him a powder that would have been certain to cure--"

"Or kill," interrupted Tom Brown; "I've no faith in Hicks's skill as a
practitioner."

"Of course not," said Wilkins, "proverbial philosophy asserts and
requires that doctors should disagree."

"Be that as it may," continued Pearson, "the native did die and was
buried, so that's an end of him, and yonder sits Jumbo eating his
breakfast at the camp-fire as if he had done a most virtuous action.
The fact is, I don't believe the reports.  I cannot believe that poor
Jumbo, coward though he is, would be guilty of such an act."

"Perhaps not," said the major, rising, "but there's no possibility of
settling the question now, and here comes Hicks, so I'll go and make
arrangements with him about the day's proceedings."

"They have a primitive mode of conducting funerals here," said Tom Brown
when the major had left.  "I happened to be up at the kraal currying
favour with the chief man, for he has the power of bothering us a good
deal if he chooses, and I observed what they did with this same dead
man.  I saw that he was very low as I passed the hut where he lay, and
stopped to look on.  His breath was very short, and presently he fell
into what either might have been a profound sleep, or a swoon, or death;
I could not be quite sure which, not being used to black fellows.  I
would have examined the poor man, but the friends kicked up a great row
and shoved me off.  Before the breath could have been well out of his
body, they hoisted him up and carried him away to burial.  I followed
out of mere curiosity, and found that the lazy rascals had shoved the
body into an ant-eater's hole in order to save the trouble of digging a
grave."

While Tom and his friends were thus conversing over their pipes, their
attention was attracted by a peculiar cry or howl of terror, such as
they had never heard from any animal of those regions.  Starting up they
instinctively grasped their guns and looked about them.  The utterer of
the cry was soon obvious in the person of Jumbo, who had leaped up
suddenly--overturning his breakfast in the act--and stood gazing before
him with his eyes starting out of their sockets, his teeth rattling
together like a pair of castanets, his limbs quivering, and in fact his
whole person displaying symptoms of the most abject terror of which the
human frame is capable.

The major and Hicks, who stood not far from him, were both unusually
pale in the face, as they gazed motionless before them.

The fixedness of their looks directed the eyes of Tom Brown and his
comrades towards a neighbouring thicket, where they beheld an object
that was well calculated to inspire dread.  It appeared to be a living
skeleton covered with a black skin of the most ghastly appearance, and
came staggering towards them like a drunken man.  As it drew nearer
Jumbo's limbs trembled more and more violently and his face became of a
leaden blue colour.  At last he became desperate, turned round, dashed
right through the embers of the fire, and fled wildly from the spot with
a howl that ended in a shriek of terror.

"No wonder he's terrified," observed Tom Brown to his alarmed comrades;
"I felt more than half certain the nigger was not dead last night, and
now it is beyond question that they had buried him alive.  Jumbo
evidently thinks it's his ghost!"

"_Won't_ he give his friend a fright?" said Wilkins, on observing that
the poor man went staggering on in the direction of the kraal.

"He will," said Hicks, laughing; "but they'll make up for their haste by
taking good care of him now.  I declare I thought for a moment or two
that it was a real ghost!  Come now, gentlemen, if you want good sport
you've got the chance before you to-day.  The last party that passed
this way left an old boat on the river.  I dare say it won't be very
leaky.  Some of you had better take it and go after the 'potimusses.
There's plenty of buffalo and elephants in this region also, and the
natives are anxious to have a dash at them along with you.  Divide
yourselves as you choose, and I'll go up to make arrangements with the
old chief."

In accordance with the trader's advice the party was divided.  Tom
Brown, Wilkins, and Mafuta, as on a former occasion, determined to stick
together and take to the boat.  The others, under the major, went with
Hicks and the natives after elephants.

"Another capital stream," remarked Tom to his companion as they emerged
from the bushes on the banks of a broad river, the surface of which was
dotted here and there with log-like hippopotami, some of which were
floating quietly, while others plunged about in the water.

"Capital!" exclaimed Wilkins, "now for the boat!  According to
directions we must walk upstream till we find it."

As they advanced, they came suddenly on one of the largest crocodiles
they had yet seen.  It was lying sound asleep on a mud-bank, not
dreaming, doubtless, of the daring bipeds who were about to disturb its
repose.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Wilkins, cocking and levelling his gun, "what a
splendid chance!"

It was indeed a splendid chance, for the brute was twenty feet long at
least; the rugged knobs of its thick hide showed here and there through
a coat of mud with which it was covered, and its partially open jaws
displayed a row of teeth that might have made the lion himself shrink.
The mud had partially dried in the sun, so that the monster, as it lay
sprawling, might have been mistaken for a dead carcass, had not a gentle
motion about the soft parts of his body given evidence of life.

Before Wilkins could pull the trigger, Mafuta seized him by the arm with
a powerful grip.

"Hold on!" he cried with a look of intense anxiety, "what you go do?
Fright all de 'potimus away for dis yer crackodl.  Oh fy! go away."

"That's true, Bob," said Tom Brown, who, although he had prepared to
fire in case of need, intended to have allowed his friend to take the
first shot; "'twould be a pity to lose our chance of a sea-cow, which is
good for food, for the sake of a monster which at the best could only
give us a fine specimen-head for a museum, for his entire body is too
big to haul about through the country after us."

Well, be it so, said Wilkins, somewhat disappointed, "but I'm determined
to kick him up anyhow."

Saying this he advanced towards the brute, but again the powerful hand
of Mafuta seized him.

"What you do? want git kill altogidder?  You is a fool!  (the black had
lost temper a little).  Him got nuff strong in hims tail to crack off de
legs of 'oo like stem-pipes.  Yis, kom back?"

Wilkins felt a strong tendency to rebel, and the Caffre remonstrated in
so loud a voice that the crocodile awoke with a start, and immediately
convinced the obstinate hunter that he had at least been saved broken
bones by Mafuta, for he never in his life before had seen anything like
the terrific whirl that he gave his tail, as he dashed into the water
some fifteen yards ahead.  Almost immediately afterwards he turned
round, and there, floating like a log on the stream, took a cool survey
of the disturbers of his morning's repose!

"It's hard to refuse such an impudent invitation to do one's worst,"
said Wilkins, again raising his gun.

"No, you mustn't," cried Tom Brown, grasping his friend's arm; "come
along, I see the bow of the boat among the rushes not far ahead of us,
and yonder is a hippopotamus, or sea-cow as they call it here, waiting
to be shot."

Without further delay they embarked in the boat, which, though small,
was found to be sufficiently tight, and rowed off towards the spot where
the hippopotamus had been seen.  Presently his blunt ungainly head rose
within ten feet of them.  Wilkins got such a start that he tripped over
one of the thwarts in trying to take aim, and nearly upset the boat.  He
recovered himself, however, in a moment, and fired--sending a ball into
the brute which just touched the brain and stunned it.  He then fired
his second barrel, and while he was loading Tom put two more balls into
it.  It proved hard to kill, however, for they fired alternately, and
put sixteen bullets--seven to the pound--into different parts of its
head before they succeeded in killing it.

They towed their prize to the shore, intending to land and secure it,
when a calf hippopotamus shoved its blunt nose out of the water close at
hand, gazed stupidly at them and snorted.  Tom at once shot it in the
head, and it commenced to bellow lustily.  Instantly the mother's head
cleft the surface of the water as she came up to the rescue and rushed
at the boat, the gunwale of which she seized in her mouth and pulled it
under.

"Quick!" shouted Tom, as he fired his second barrel into her ear.

Wilkins did not require to be urged, as the water was flowing into the
boat like a deluge.  He delivered both shots into her almost
simultaneously, and induced her to let go!  Another shot from Tom in the
back of her neck entered the spine and killed her.

By this time a large band of natives had collected, and were gazing
eagerly on the proceedings.  They had come down from the kraal to enjoy
the sport and get some of the meat, of which they are particularly fond.
They were not disappointed in their expectations, for the hippopotami
were very numerous in that place, and the sportsmen shot well.  Four
other animals fell before their deadly guns before another hour had
passed, and as the bay was shallow the natives waded in to drag them
ashore.

This was a very amusing scene, because crocodiles were so numerous that
it was only possible for them to accomplish the work safely by entering
the water together in large numbers, with inconceivable noise, yelling
and splashing, in order to scare them away.  They would not have
ventured in singly, or in small numbers, on any account whatever; but on
the present occasion, being numerous, they were very courageous, and
joining hands, so as to form a line from the shore to the floating
animals, soon dragged them out.

As the carcasses belonged to Hicks the trader, these black fellows knew
well enough that they were not at liberty to do with them as they
pleased, so they waited as patiently as they could for the glorious
feast which they fondly hoped was in store for them.

When the sportsmen at last landed to look after their game, they found
four fine sea-cows and the calf drawn up on the banks, side by side,
with upwards of a hundred Caffres gazing at them longingly!  Nothing
could be more courteous than the behaviour of these savages when Mafuta
cut off such portions as his party required; but no sooner was the
remainder of the spoil handed over to them than there ensued a scene of
indescribable confusion.  They rushed at the carcasses like vultures,
with assegais, knives, sticks, and axes, hallooing, bellowing, shoving,
and fighting, in a manner that would have done credit to the wildest of
the wild beasts by which they were surrounded!  Yet there was a distinct
sense of justice among them.  It was indeed a desperate fight to obtain
possession, but no one attempted to dispossess another of what he had
been fortunate enough to secure.  The strongest savages got at the
carcasses first, and cut off large lumps, which they hurled to their
friends outside the struggling circle.  These caught the meat thus
thrown, and ran with it, each to a separate heap, on which he deposited
his piece and left it in perfect security.

In order to introduce a little more fair play, however, for the benefit
of the weaker brethren, Mafuta dashed in among them with a terrible
sjambok, or whip, of rhinoceros hide, which he laid about him with
wonderful effect.  In a very short time the whole of the meat was
disposed of, not a scrap being left large enough to satisfy the cravings
of the smallest conceivable crocodile that ever dwelt in that river!

The effects of this upon the native mind was immediate and satisfactory.
That night the sportsmen received from the kraal large and gratifying
gifts of eggs, bread, rice, beer, pumpkins, and all the produce of the
land.

But we must not forestall.  Before these dainties were enjoyed that
night the other members of the expedition had to come in with the result
of their day's hunt.  Let us therefore turn for a little to follow their
footsteps.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

SHOWS THAT TOO HIGH A PRICE IS SOMETIMES PAID FOR SUCCESS IN HUNTING.

The successful commencement of this part of the day's hunt was somewhat
curiously brought about by the major.

Most people have a distinct and strong antipathy for some creature which
has the power of inspiring them with a species of loathing, amounting
almost to terror.  Some who would face a mad bull coolly enough spring
with disgust from a cockroach or a centipede.  Others there are who
would permit a mouse to creep about their person with indifference, but
would shudder at the bare idea of a frog happening to get under their
bedclothes.  Now Major Garret's peculiar horror was a serpent.  He was a
daring man by nature, and experience had made him almost foolhardy.  He
would have faced a lion, or an enraged elephant, any day without
flinching, and cared nothing for a buffalo-bull, however mad, provided
he had a trustworthy gun in his hand; but a serpent would cause him to
leap into the air like a kangaroo, and if it chanced to come at him
unawares he would fly from it like the wind, in a paroxysm of horror--if
not fear!

There was no lack of serpents in that region to trouble the worthy
major.  Numbers of them, of all kinds and sizes, were to be seen.  One
in particular, which Mafuta killed with an assegai, was eight feet three
inches long, and so copiously supplied with poison that one of the dogs
which attacked it, and was bitten, died almost instantaneously, while
another died in about five minutes.  Tom Brown, on another occasion,
knocked over one of the same species, and it continued to distil pure
poison from the fangs for hours after its head was cut off.  Besides
these there were the puff-adders, which were very dangerous; and several
vipers, as well as many other kinds which were comparatively harmless.
But the poor major's horror was so great as to cause him to regard the
whole family in one light.  He never paused to observe whether a serpent
was poisonous.  Enough for him that it was one of the hated race, to be
killed in a violent hurry or fled from in tremendous haste!

This being the case, it is not to be regarded as a wonder that, when the
party, early in the day, were passing a thicket out of which glided a
very large serpent, the major should give a shout and incontinently
discharge both barrels at it simultaneously.  It chanced to be a python
of great size, full fifteen feet long, and thicker than a man's thigh,
but a really harmless species of serpent.  The major, however, did not
know this, or did not care.  His shots, although fired at random, hit
the creature in the spine; nevertheless it retained power to raise its
head fully five feet in the air, and to open its mouth in a very
threatening manner within a few feet of the major's face.  This was more
than he could bear.  He turned, dropped his gun, and fled like a maniac,
while his comrades, who had recognised the species of serpent, stood
laughing at him heartily.  He did not stop until he dashed headlong into
a thicket, far away to the right of their line of march.  Here the
"wait-a-bit" thorns effectually checked his progress.

Now it chanced that in this very thicket, which would have been passed
by unnoticed but for the python, there was a portly young female
elephant with a very stout little daughter.  Amazed at the very sudden
and reckless intrusion of the sportsman, this anxious mother at once
sounded her war-trumpet and charged.  The major turned and fled back to
his friends as fast as he had run away from them.  The elephant did not
follow, but the hunters, having discovered her retreat, were not slow to
follow and attack her.

As they drew near, the mother elephant set herself on the danger side of
her little one, and putting her proboscis over it, as if to assure it of
protection, urged it to run, which it did pretty smartly.  But neither
of them galloped; their quickest pace was only a sharp walk, which,
however, was quick enough to oblige the pursuers to run at full speed.
The big one frequently glanced back, apparently to see if she were
gaining ground, and then looked at her young one and ran after it,
sometimes sideways, as if her feelings were divided between anxiety to
protect her offspring and desire to revenge the temerity of her
persecutors.  The hunters kept about a hundred yards in her rear, and as
they were pretty sure of securing her, the European sportsmen held back,
in order to have an opportunity of witnessing the method of attack
practised by the band of natives who were with them.

Presently they came to a rivulet, and the time spent by the elephants in
descending and getting up the opposite bank enabled the natives to get
within twenty yards of them, when they discharged their spears at them.
The old one received the most of these in various parts of her body, for
she did her best to shield the young one; but the latter received a few
notwithstanding.  After the first discharge the old one's sides ran down
with blood, and in a short time she bristled all over with spears like a
monstrous porcupine.  She soon seemed to give up all thought of
defending her young, and began to flee for her life, so that the calf
was quickly killed; but no sooner did the mother observe this, than all
fear forsook her; she stopped in her career, turned round, and, with a
shriek of rage, charged her pursuers, who fled right and left like a
band of huge black monkeys.  The elephant ran straight on and went right
through the whole party, but came near no one.  She then continued her
flight, in the course of which she crossed several rivulets, and at each
of these received fresh spears.  Several times she turned and charged,
but never in any ease did she run more than a hundred yards.

Gradually she grew weak from loss of blood, which poured from her like
rain; and at last, when she was making a charge, she staggered round and
sank down dead in a kneeling posture.

The natives were overjoyed of course at their success, and at the
prospect of a baked elephant's foot for supper, and Hicks was much
pleased with the tusks, which were large and valuable.  He surveyed them
with a complacent smile, and observed that he had much need of a little
ivory like that, for the expenses of a trading expedition were very
heavy.

"But you have reason to expect a good deal in this part of the country,"
said the major, "if all that is rumoured be true."

"No doubt there is some truth in what is reported; we shall see.
Meanwhile, yonder goes something to encourage us."

He pointed towards an opening in a thicket close at hand, where an
elephant was seen running towards them as if ignorant of their presence.

"Some one must be after that fellow," said Hicks.  About a dozen natives
emerged from the thicket as he spoke.  They were evidently driving the
elephant, which was a large bull, towards the hunters for the purpose of
letting them have a good shot; so the latter at once hid themselves.
When the elephant drew near it seemed to suspect danger ahead, for it
burned to the right when at a distance of about a hundred yards.  This
was a great disappointment, so the major, rather than be balked
altogether, tried a long shot and broke the animal's fore-leg.  Then,
running after him at a pace which even the supple natives could not
equal, he got close up and sent a ball into his head, which stunned him;
but it took four additional shots to kill him.

This was an unusually fortunate case, for elephants are not easily
killed.  The African elephant is in many respects different from that of
India, and is never killed, like the Ceylon elephant, by a single ball
in the brain.  Dr Livingstone tells us that on one occasion, when he
was out with a large party of natives, a troop of elephants were
attacked by them, and that one of these, in running away, fell into a
hole, and, before he could extricate himself, an opportunity was allowed
for all the men to throw their spears.  When the elephant rose he was
like a huge porcupine, for each of the seventy or eighty men had
discharged more than one spear at him.  As they had no more, they sent
for the Doctor to shoot him.  He, anxious to put the animal at once out
of pain, went up to within twenty yards, rested his gun on an ant-hill,
so as to take steady aim; but though he fired twelve two-ounce bullets,
all he had, into different parts, he could not kill it.  As it was
getting dark, they were obliged to leave it standing there, intending to
return in the morning in the full expectation of finding it dead; but
though they searched all that day, and went over more than ten miles of
ground, they never saw it again!

The female elephant killed by our hunters at this time was a
comparatively small one.  Its height was eight feet eight inches.  Many
of those which were afterwards killed were of much greater height.
Indian elephants never reach to the enormous size of the African
elephant, which is distinguished from that of India by a mark that
cannot be mistaken, namely, the ear, which in the African species is
enormously large.  That of the female just killed measured four feet
five inches in length and four feet in breadth.  A native has been seen
to creep under an elephant's ear so as to be quite covered from the
rain.  The African elephant has never been tamed at the Cape, nor has
one ever been exhibited in England.

But to return to our hunters.  Before that day had closed, the major and
his friends had made good bags.  The total result of the day's hunt by
both parties was, five sea-cows, four elephants, two buffaloes, a
giraffe, and a number of birds of various kinds.

Of course this set the natives of the kraal into a ferment of joyous
festivity, and the sportsmen rose very high in their estimation,
insomuch that they overwhelmed them with gifts of native produce.  Our
hero was an especial favourite, because, on several occasions, he turned
his medical and surgical knowledge to good account, and afforded many of
them great relief from troubles which their own doctors had failed to
cure or charm away.

Some time after this, when they were travelling through a comparatively
dry district, they encamped near a pool of water, and the sights they
saw there were most amazing; for all the animals in the neighbourhood
flocked to the pool to slake their burning thirst.

After supper, instead of going to rest, Tom Brown and most of the party
resolved to go and watch this pool--the moon being bright at the time.
They had not lain long in ambush beside it when a troop of elephants
came rushing into it, and began to drink with great avidity, spirting
the water over each other and shrieking with delight.  For some hours
the hunters remained on the watch there, and saw animals of all kinds
come down to drink--antelopes, zebras, buffaloes, etcetera, in great
numbers.

Thus they passed through the country, enjoying themselves, and adding
considerably to Hicks's stock of ivory, when an incident occurred which
threw a deep gloom over the party for some time.

One day they went out after some elephants which were reported to be
near to their encampment, and about noon rested a little to refresh
themselves.  They had set out as a united party on this occasion
accompanied by a large band of natives armed with spears.  Just after
leaving the spot where they rested, the major discovered that he had
left his knife behind him, and went back to look for it, in company with
Tom Brown.  As it was only quarter of a mile off, or less, they
foolishly left their guns behind them.  On nearing the spot, Tom stopped
a few moments, and bent down to examine a beautiful flower.  The major
walked on, but had not gone many paces when three lions walked out of a
thicket not twenty paces off.  Tom had risen, and saw the lions, and,
for the first time in his life, felt a sensation about the heart which
is popularly known as "the blood curdling in the vein."  The major,
being totally unarmed, stopped, and stood motionless like a statue.  The
lions stopped also, being evidently taken by surprise at the sudden and
unexpected apparition of a man!  Had the major turned and fled, it is
almost certain that his fate would have been sealed, but he stood firm
as a rock, and Tom observed that he did not even change colour as he
gazed with a fixed glassy stare at the lions.

Unused to such treatment, the animals winced under it.  Their own
glances became uneasy; then they turned slowly round and slunk away,
with the air of creatures which know that they have been doing wrong!
In a few moments they bounded off at full speed, their pace being
accelerated by the terrible yell which burst simultaneously from Tom and
the major, who found intense relief in this violent expression of their
pent-up feelings!

But this, good reader, is not the gloomy incident to which we have
referred.  It was just after the occurrence of this minor episode in the
proceedings of the day, that the party came upon fresh tracks of a troop
of elephants, and set off in pursuit.  The Englishmen were on horseback,
having obtained steeds from a trader whom they had met farther south,
but the natives--a very large band--were on foot.

While they were advancing through a somewhat open part of the country,
four lions were seen on the top of a low sandhill, which was covered
with bushes and a few stunted trees.  It was at once resolved that they
should be surrounded.  Accordingly, the natives were ordered to form a
wide ring round the hill.

"Now," said Hicks, who assumed command of the party in virtue of his
superior knowledge, "we must separate and advance from different
directions, and be sure, gentlemen, that you don't shoot the niggers.
Look well before you.  That hollow is a very likely place for one of
them to run along, therefore the best shot among you had better go up
there.  Who is the best shot?"

The trader smiled knowingly, for he knew that the major esteemed himself
the best.

"I think I am," said Wilkins, with an air of great simplicity.

There was a general laugh at this, for it was well known that Wilkins
was the worst shot of the party.

"Well, now," said he with a good-natured smile, "since you have insulted
me so grossly, I think myself entitled to name the best man; I therefore
suggest Tom Brown."

"Right," said Pearson.

The others being all agreed, Tom consented, with becoming modesty, to
take the post of honour and of danger.

"Are we to ride or walk?" he asked.

"Walk, of course," said Hicks.  "The ground is much too rough for
horses."

"And I trust, Tom," said Wilkins, "that you will permit me to follow
you.  I am the worst shot, you know, and the worst and best should go
together on the acknowledged principle that extremes meet."

This being arranged, the sportsmen dismounted, fastened their horses to
trees, and separated.

The circle of men gradually closed in and ascended the hill pretty near
to each other.  Presently Tom Brown observed one of the lions get upon a
piece of rock.  The major also saw him, and being anxious to secure the
first shot, fired somewhat hastily and hit the rock on which the
magnificent brute was standing, as if it had got up there to take a cool
survey of the field.  He bit at the spot struck, as a dog bites at a
stick or stone thrown at him.  Next moment Tom Brown sent a bullet
straight into his heart, and his tail made a splendid flourish as he
fell off his pedestal!

Almost immediately after two of the other lions broke cover, dashed
towards the circle of men, went right through them and escaped.  The
courage of the natives proved unequal to the danger of facing such a
charge.  A great shout--partly, no doubt, of disappointment--was given
when the lions escaped.  This had the effect of causing the fourth lion
to break cover and leap upon a rock as the first had done.  The hunter
nearest to him was Pearson, who was not farther off than shout thirty
yards.  He took good aim, fired both barrels at him, and tumbled him off
the rock into a small bush beside it.

"He is wounded," cried Hicks, "but not killed.  Have a care!"

Pearson was loading his gun as fast as possible, when he heard a loud
shout, and cries of "Look out!"  "Take care!"  Starting, and turning
half round, he saw the animal in the act of springing on him.  Before he
could move he was struck on the head, and next moment the lion and he
went down together.  Growling horribly, the enraged brute seized poor
Pearson and shook him as a terrier dog shakes a rat.  Although stunned,
he was able to turn a little to relieve himself of its weight, for the
lion had placed one paw on the back of his head.  Instantly the major,
Tom Brown, and Hicks ran up and fired six shots into him almost
simultaneously, and at a few yards' distance.  With a terrific roar he
left Pearson, and, springing on Hicks, caught him by the leg.  Mafuta
immediately rushed at him with a spear, but was caught by the lion on
the shoulder, and dragged down.  Seeing this, Tom Brown caught up the
spear and plunged it deep into the chest of the brute, which seized it
savagely in his teeth and snapped it in two like a twig, throwing Tom
down in the act; but another bullet from Wilkins, and the effects of the
previous shots, caused him to drop down suddenly quite dead.

It was found on examination that the injuries received by poor Pearson
were mortal.  As could just speak, but could not move.  A litter was
therefore hastily prepared for him, and one also for Hicks, whose leg
was severely injured, though fortunately not broken.  Mafuta's hurts
were trifling, and Tom Brown had only received one or two scratches in
his fall.  In a short time the litters were ready, and the party
returned to their encampment.

That night Pearson expressed a strong desire to have the Bible read to
him, and Tom Brown, who had done all that professional skill could
accomplish to relieve his comrade's suffering body, sought out from the
bottom of his box that precious book which the missionary had told him
contained medicine for the soul.  The dying man was very anxious.  As
gave Tom no rest, but questioned him eagerly and continuously during the
whole night about the things which concerned his soul.  His doctor could
not assist him much, and keenly did he feel, at that time, how awful it
is to postpone thoughts of eternity to a dying hour.  As did his best,
however, to comfort his friend, by reading passage after passage from
the sacred book, dwelling particularly on, and repeating, this
text--"The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth from all sin."
Towards morning Pearson fell into a lethargic sleep, out of which he
never awoke.  Next day they buried him under the shade of a spreading
tree, and left him there--alone in the wilderness.



CHAPTER NINE.

THE LAST.

From this period everything like good fortune seemed to forsake the
hunters.  The trader's wound became so painful that he resolved to
return to the settlements, and accordingly their faces were turned
southward.

But the way was toilsome, the heat intense, and the water scarce--more
so than it had been on the outward journey.  To add to their troubles,
fever and ague attacked most of the white men, and one of them (Ogilvie)
died on the journey.

At last Tom Brown, who had up to that time been one of the strongest of
the party, broke down, and it was found to be necessary to leave him
behind at a native village, for it would have been certain death to the
others to have remained with him, and their doing so could have done him
no good.

"I cannot tell you, Tom," said the major, as he sat beside his friend's
couch the night before they parted, "how deeply it grieves me to leave
you in this way, but you see, my dear fellow, that the case is
desperate.  You are incapable of moving.  If we remain here the most of
us will die, for I find that it is all I can do to drag one leg after
the other, and I have grave doubts as to whether I shall ever get out of
this rascally country alive.  As to poor Bob Wilkins, he is in a worse
condition than myself.  Now, our intention is to leave you all the
physic, push on as fast as possible to the nearest settlement, where we
shall get more for ourselves, and send out a party of natives under some
trustworthy trader to fetch you out of the country."

"You are very kind, major," said Tom languidly, "but I cannot allow you
to leave me all the physic.  Your own life may depend on having some of
it, and--"

"There, don't exhaust yourself, Tom, with objections, for Bob and I have
made up our minds to do it.  The very fact that every day we are getting
nearer the habitable parts of the world will keep our spirits up and
give us strength, and you may depend upon it, my poor fellow, that we
won't waste time in sending help to you."

The major's voice trembled a little, for he had become very weak, and
had secret misgivings that he would never see his friend again.

"We are going to leave Mafuta with you," he added quickly.

"That's right," exclaimed Tom, with an expression of satisfaction.  "If
any one is able to pull me through this bout, Mafuta is the man.  By the
way, major, will you do me the favour to open my portmanteau and fetch
me the Bible you will find there.  I mean to read it.  Do you know I
have been thinking that we are great fools to keep calling ourselves
Christians when we have scarcely any of the signs of Christianity about
us, and particularly in putting off the consideration of our souls'
interests to a time like this?"

"Upon my word, Tom, I agree with you," said the major.

"Well, then," said Tom, "like a good fellow, get the Bible for me, and
let me advise you as a friend to make use of the one the missionary gave
you.  I mean to turn over a new leaf.  My only fear is that if I get
well I shall become as indifferent as I was before."

"No fear of that, Tom, you are much too honest-hearted to be so
changeable."

"H'm, I don't know," said Tom, with an attempt at a smile; "I should not
be easy if my salvation depended on the honesty of my heart.  I rather
fear, major, that your method of comforting me is not what the
missionary would call orthodox.  But good night, old fellow; I feel
tired, and find it wonderfully difficult not only to speak but to think,
so I'll try to sleep."

Saying this our hero turned on his side and soon fell into a quiet
slumber, out of which he did not awake until late the following morning.

The major, meanwhile, sought for and found the Bible in his portmanteau,
and laid it on his pillow, so that he might find it there on awaking.
For a long time he and Wilkins sat by the sick man's side next morning,
in the hope of his awaking, that they might bid him good-bye; but Tom
did not rouse up, so, being unwilling to disturb him, they left without
having the sad satisfaction of saying farewell.

When Tom Brown awoke, late in the day, he found Mafuta sitting at his
feet with a broad grin on his dusky countenance.

"What are you laughing at, you rascal?" demanded Tom, somewhat sternly.

"Me laffin' at you's face!"

"Indeed, is it then so ridiculous?"

"Yis, oh yis, you's bery ri'clous.  Jist no thicker dan de edge ob
hatchet."

Tom smiled.  "Well, I'm not fat, that's certain; but I feel refreshed.
D'you know, Mafuta, I think I shall get well after all."

"Ho, yis," said Mafuta, with a grin, nodding his woolly head violently,
and displaying a magnificent double row of teeth; "you's git well; you
had slep an' swet mos' bootiful.  Me wish de major see you now."

"The major; is he gone?"

"Yis, hoed off dis morrownin."

"And Mr Wilkins?"

"Hoed off too."

Tom Brown opened his eyes and stared silently for a few minutes at his
companion.

"Then we are all alone, you and I," he said suddenly.

"Yis, all alone, sept de two tousand Caffres ob de kraal; but dey is
nobody--only black beasts."

Tom laughed to hear his attendant talk so scornfully of his countrymen,
and Mafuta laughed to see his master in such good spirits; after which
the former became grave, and, feeling a slight twinge of hunger, made a
sudden demand for food.  Mafuta rose and left the tent, and Tom, turning
on his side, observed the Bible lying on the pillow.  He opened it, but
forgot to read, in consequence of his attention being arrested by the
extreme thinness of his hands.  Recovering himself, he turned to the
twenty-first psalm, but had only read the first verse when the book
dropt from his fingers, and he again fell sound asleep.

This was the turning-point in his illness.  He began to mend a little,
but so slowly, that he almost lost heart once or twice; and felt
convinced that if he did not make an attempt to get out of the unhealthy
region, he should never regain strength.

Acting on this belief, he left the native village on foot, carrying
nothing but his rifle, which seemed to him, in his weak condition, to be
as heavy as a small cannon.  Mafuta went on in advance, heavily laden
with the blankets, a small tent, provisions, ammunition, etcetera,
necessary for the journey.

At first Tom could scarcely walk a mile without sitting down several
times to rest, on which occasions Mafuta endeavoured to cheer him up by
threatening to leave him to his fate!  This was a somewhat singular mode
of stimulating, but he deemed it the wisest course, and acted on it.
When Tom lay down under the shade of a tree, thoroughly knocked up, the
Caffre would bid him farewell and go away; but in a short time he would
return and urge him to make another attempt!

Thus Tom Brown travelled, day after day, under the broiling sun.  During
that period--which he afterwards described as the most dreadful of his
life--fever and ague reduced him to a state of excessive weakness.  In
fact it was a battle between the dire disease and that powerful
constitution for which the Brown family is celebrated.  For a
considerable time it appeared very doubtful how the battle would end.

One morning Tom was awakened by his faithful attendant to resume his
weary journey.  He got up with a heavy sigh, and almost fell down again
from weakness.

"I think, Mafuta," said Tom gravely, "that I'm pretty nearly used up.
You'll have to leave me, I fear, and make the best of your way out of
this wretched country alone."

"Dis a fuss-rate kontry," said the Caffre quietly.

"Ah, true, Mafuta, I forgot for a moment that it is your native land.
However, I am bound to admit that it is a first-rate country for sport--
also for killing Englishmen.  I don't feel able to move a step."

Tom sat down as he said this, and, uttering a sort of groan, leaned his
back against a tree.

"W'at, yous no' go fadder?"

"No," said Tom, with some asperity, for he felt too much exhausted to
speak.

"Berry good, me say good-bye."

Mafuta nodded his head as he spoke, and, gravely shouldering his load,
marched away.

Tom looked after him with a melancholy smile; for he quite understood
the _ruse_ by this time, and knew that he would return, although the
simple native sincerely believed that his motives and intentions had
been concealed with deep wisdom.  Tom was not sorry to get a respite,
and threw himself flat down, in order to make the most of it, but Mafuta
was more anxious than usual about his companion that morning.  He
returned in ten minutes or so, having sat for that period behind a
neighbouring tree to brood over his circumstances.

"Yous come on _now_, eh?" he said gently, regarding Tom with an anxious
expression of countenance.

"Well, well," replied our hero, getting up with a sort of desperate
energy, "let's push on; I can at all events walk till my legs refuse to
carry me, and then it will not be I who shall have given in, but the
legs!--eh, Mafuta?"

Smiling languidly at this conceit, Tom walked on, almost mechanically,
for nearly twenty miles that day, with scarcely any shelter from the
sun.

At night he reached a native village, the chief of which considerately
let him rest in an old hut.  When Tom flung himself down in a corner of
this, he felt so ill that he called his servant and bade him fetch the
package which contained his slender stock of medicine.

"Open it, Mafuta, and let's see what we have left.  I'm resolved to make
some change in myself for better or worse, if I should have to eat up
the whole affair.  Better be poisoned at once than die by inches in this
way."

"No more kineen," said the Caffre, as he kneeled by his master's side,
turning over the papers and bottles.

"No more quinine," repeated Tom sadly; "no more life, that means."

"Not'ing more bot tree imuttics, an' small drop ludnum," said Mafuta.

"Three emetics," said Tom, "and some laudanum; come, I'll try these.
Mix the whole of 'em in a can, and be quick, like a good fellow; I'll
have one good jorum whatever happens."

"Bot yous vil bost," said Mafuta remonstratively.

"No fear.  Do as I bid you."

The Caffre obeyed, and Tom swallowed the potion.  The result, however,
was unsatisfactory, for, contrary to what was anticipated, they produced
no effect whatever.  To make matters worse, the hut in which they lay
was overrun with rats, which were not only sleepless and active, but
daring, for they kept galloping round the floor all night, and chasing
one another over Tom's body and face.  After a time he became desperate.

"Here, Mafuta," he cried, "strike a light, and get me a long feather of
some sort out of a bird's wings."

The wondering native got up and did as he was commanded.

"Now, Mafuta, shove the feather down my throat.  Don't be afraid.  I'll
give you a dig in the ribs if you go too far."

The result of this operation was speedy and complete.  The sick man was
relieved.  In a short time he fell into a deep sleep, which lasted for
several hours.  After this he awoke much refreshed, and having obtained
some rice from the native chief, ate a little with relish.

Next day they resumed their journey, and travelled till four in the
afternoon, when the fit of ague prostrated Tom for a couple of hours, as
it had been in the habit of doing regularly at the same hour for some
time past, leaving him in a very exhausted state of body, and much
depressed in spirits.

In the course of a week, however, this extreme depression passed away,
and he managed to get along; painfully, it is true, but creditably.
They were fortunate enough, soon after, to meet with a trader, from whom
our hero purchased two stout horses, and thenceforward the journey
became more agreeable--at least Tom's returning strength enabled him to
enjoy it; for it could not be said that the fatigues or privations of
the way had decreased; on the contrary, in some respects they had
increased considerably.

One day, while Tom was ambling along the margin of a belt of thick wood,
with his sable guide riding in advance, he came suddenly in sight of a
herd of giraffes.  He had been short of fresh meat for a couple of days,
because, although there was no lack of game, his arm had not become
sufficiently steady to enable him to take a good aim; and, being
unwilling to resign the office of hunter to his attendant until reduced
to the last extremity, he had taken all the chances that occurred, and
had missed on every occasion!

Being determined not to miss _this_ opportunity, he at once put spurs to
his steed, and dashed after the giraffes at a breakneck pace.  The
ground was very rocky, uneven, and full of holes and scrubby bushes.
The long-necked creatures at once set off at a pace which tried Tom's
steed, although a good one, to the utmost.  There was a thick forest of
makolani trees about a mile away to the left, towards which the giraffes
headed, evidently with the intention of taking refuge there.  Tom
observed this, and made a detour in order to get between them and the
wood.  This made it necessary to put on a spurt to regain lost distance,
but on such ground the speed was dangerous.  He neared one of the
animals, however, and was standing up in his stirrups, intent on taking
a flying shot, when his horse suddenly put his foot in a hole, and fell
so violently that he rolled heels over head several times like a hare
shot in full career.  Fortunately his rider was sent out of the saddle
like a rocket, and fell a considerable distance ahead, and out of the
way of the rolling horse.  A friendly bush received him and saved his
neck, but tore his coat to tatters.  Jumping up, he presented at the
giraffe, which was galloping off about two hundred yards ahead.  In the
fall the barrel of his rifle had been so covered with dead leaves and
dust that he could not take aim.  Hastily wiping it with his sleeve, he
presented again and fired.  The ball hit the giraffe on the hip, but it
failed to bring him down.  A second shot, however, broke his leg, and
the stately animal rolled over.  Before Tom reached him he was dead.

Thus the travellers were supplied with a sufficiency of meat for some
days, and they pushed steadily forward without paying attention to the
game, which happened to be very plentiful in that district, as their
great desire was to get out of the unhealthy region as quickly as
possible.  Sometimes, however, they were compelled to shoot in
self-defence.

Upon one occasion, while Mafuta was looking for water in the bush, he
was charged by a black rhinoceros, and had a very narrow escape.  Tom
Brown was within sight of him at the time, engaged also in looking for
water.  He heard the crash of bushes when the monster charged, and
looking hastily round, saw Mafuta make a quick motion as if he meant to
run to a neighbouring tree, but the rhinoceros was so close on him that
there was no time.

"Quick, man!" shouted Tom, in an agony of alarm as he ran to the rescue,
for the Caffre had no gun.

But Mafuta, instead of taking this advice, suddenly stood stock still,
as if he had been petrified!

Tom threw forward his rifle, intending, in desperation, to try the
effect of a long shot, although certain that it was impossible to kill
the rhinoceros even if he should hit, while the risk of killing his
faithful servant was very great.  Before he had time to fire, however,
the animal ran past the motionless Caffre without doing him any injury!

Whether it is owing to the smallness of its eyes, or to the horns on its
nose being in the way, we cannot tell, but it is a fact that the black
rhinoceros does not see well, and Mafuta, aware of this defect, had
taken advantage of it in a way what is sometimes practised by bold men.
Had he continued to run he would certainly have been overtaken and
killed; but, standing perfectly still, he was no doubt taken for a tree
stump by the animal.  At all events it brushed past him, and Mafuta,
doubling on his track, ran to a tree, up which he vaulted like a monkey.

Meanwhile Tom Brown got within range, and sent a ball crashing against
the animal's hard sides without doing it any injury.  The second barrel
was discharged with no better result, except that a splinter of its horn
was knocked off.  Before he could reload, the rhinoceros was gone, and
Tom had to content himself with carrying off the splinter as a memorial
of the adventure.

That night the travellers made their encampment at the foot of a tree,
on the lower branches of which they hung up a quantity of meat.  Tom lay
in a small tent which he carried with him, but Mafuta preferred to sleep
by the fire outside.

During the day they had seen and heard several lions.  It was therefore
deemed advisable to picket the horses close to the tent, between it and
the fire.

"Mafuta," said Tom Brown, as he lay contemplating the fire on which the
Caffre had just heaped fresh logs, "give me some more tea, and cook
another giraffe steak.  D'you know I feel my appetite coming back with
great force?"

"Dat am good," said Mafuta.

"Yes, that is undoubtedly good," said Tom.  "I never knew what it was to
have a poor appetite until I came to this wonderful land of yours, and I
assure you that I will not pay it another visit in a hurry--although,
upon the whole, I'm very well pleased to have hunted in it."

"W'at for you come because of?" asked Mafuta.

"Well, I came for fun, as the little boys in my country say.  I came for
change, for variety, for amusement, for relaxation, for sport.  Do you
understand any of these expressions?"

"Me not onderstan' moch," answered Mafuta with great simplicity of
manner; "bot why you want for change?  Me nivir wants no change?"

"Ah, Mafuta," replied Tom with a smile, "you're a happy man?  The fact
is, that we civilised people lead artificial lives, to a large extent,
and, therefore, require a change sometimes to recruit our energies--that
is, to put us right again, whereas you and your friends live in a
natural way, and therefore don't require putting right.  D'you
understand?"

"Not moch," answered the Caffre, gazing into the fire with a puzzled
look.  "You say we lives nat'ral life an' don't need be put right; berry
good, why you not live nat'ral life too, an' no need be put right--be
always right?"

Tom laughed at this.

"It's not easy to answer that question, Mafuta.  We have surrounded
ourselves with a lot of wants, some of which are right and some wrong.
For instance, we want clothes, and houses, and books, and tobacco, and
hundreds of other things, which cost a great deal of money, and in order
to make the money we must work late and early, which hurts our health,
and many of us must sit all day instead of walk or ride, so that we get
ill and require a change of life, such as a trip to Africa to shoot
lions, else we should die too soon.  In fact, most of our lives consists
in a perpetual struggle between healthy constitutions and false modes of
living."

"Dat berry foolish," said Mafuta, shaking his head.  "Me onderstan' dat
baccy good, _berry_ good, bot what de use of clo'es; why you not go
nakit? s'pose 'cause you not black, eh?"

"Well, not exactly.  The fact is--"

At this point the conversation was interrupted by the low murmuring
growl of the lion.  The two men gazed at one another earnestly and
listened.  Tom quietly laid his hand on his rifle, which always lay
ready loaded at his side, and Mafuta grasped the handle of the knife
that hung at his girdle.  For some minutes they remained silent and
motionless, waiting for a repetition of the sound, while the camp-fire
glittered brightly, lighting up the expressive countenance of our hero,
and causing the whites of Mafuta's eyes to glisten.  Again they heard
the growl much nearer than before, and it became evident that the lion
was intent on claiming hospitality.  The horses pricked up their ears,
snuffed the night air wildly, and showed every symptom of being ill at
ease.  Tom Brown, without rising, slowly cocked his rifle, and Mafuta,
drawing his knife, showed his brilliant white teeth as if he had been a
dog.

Gradually and stealthily the king of the forest drew near, muttering to
himself, as it were, in an undertone.  He evidently did not care to
disturb the horses, having set his heart upon the meat which hung on the
tree, and the anxious listeners in the tent heard him attempting to claw
it down.

Tom Brown was hastily revolving in his mind the best mode of killing or
scaring away this presumptuous visitor, when the lion, in its wanderings
round the tree, tripped over one of the lines of the tent, causing it to
vibrate.  He uttered a growl of dissatisfaction, and seized the cord in
his teeth.

"Look out, Mafuta!" exclaimed Tom, as he observed the shadow of the
beast against the curtain.

He fired as he spoke.

A terrific roar followed, the canvas was instantly torn open, and the
whole tent fell in dire confusion on the top of its inmates.

Tom Brown did not move.  He always acted on the principle of letting
well alone, and, feeling that he was unhurt, lay as still as a mouse,
but Mafuta uttered a wild yell, sprang through the rent canvas, and
bounded up the tree in violent haste.  There he remained, and Tom lay
quietly under the tent for full ten minutes without moving, almost
without breathing, but as no sound was heard, our hero at last ventured
to raise his head.  Then he got slowly upon his knees, and, gently
removing the incumbent folds of canvas, looked out.  The sight that he
beheld was satisfactory.  An enormous lion lay stretched out at the font
of the tree quite dead!  His half random shot at the shadow had been
most successful, having passed right through the lion's heart.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Not long after this, Tom Brown reached the settlements, where he found
the major and Wilkins, who had quite recovered from the effects of their
excursion into the interior, and from whom he learned that a party had
been sent off in search of himself.

Thereafter he went to the Cape, where he joined his father in business.
He did not, however, give up hunting entirely, for he belonged to a
family which, as we have said elsewhere, is so sternly romantic and full
of animal life that many of its members are led to attempt and to
accomplish great things, both in the spiritual and physical worlds,
undamped by repeated rebuffs and failures.  Moreover, he did _not_
forget his resolutions, or his Bible, after he got well; but we are
bound to add that he did forget his resolve never again to visit the
African wilderness, for if report speaks truth, he was seen there many a
time, in after years, with Mafuta, hunting the lions.

THE END.





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