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´╗┐Title: Off to the Wilds - Being the Adventures of Two Brothers
Author: Fenn, George Manville, 1831-1909
Language: English
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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.

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Off to the Wilds, Being the Adventures of Two Brothers, by George
Manville Fenn.

________________________________________________________________________

The setting is the northern part of what is now South Africa, in the
middle of the nineteenth century.  Mr Rogers is a British settler in
South Africa, a "cottage farmer".  The earlier Dutch farmers and
settlers are called Boers.  The two teenage sons, Jack and Dick, have
often asked if they could all go out on a trek to visit the northern
parts of the country, for a natural history collecting expedition.  They
had come out to South Africa for the health of Mrs Rogers, but she had
died, and of the two boys, Dick was not very strong, while Jack was very
robust.

Off they go, together with two Zulu boys who live on their land, the
Zulu boys' father, who is a Chieftain whom they nickname "The General",
and an Irish cook, who is always getting into trouble in every
situation, in a most infuriating manner.  There is also Peter the
driver, and Dirk who is a foreloper, the man who walks ahead of the oxen
to guide them into the best way.

They expect to pay for the trip with ivory from elephants, feathers from
ostriches, animal skins, etc.

The various adventures include encounters with snakes, rhino, hippo,
giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, cataracts, tsetse fly, marauding native
tribes, a bush fire, hundreds of miles of dreary grinding effort taking
many months just to cover the ground, scorching heat, and sometimes
cold.  And more besides.

As usual with this author there is sustained tension throughout the
book.  An interesting and instructive book.

________________________________________________________________________

OFF TO THE WILDS, BEING THE ADVENTURES OF TWO BROTHERS, BY GEORGE
MANVILLE FENN.


CHAPTER ONE.

COFFEE AND CHICORY, BUT NOT FOR BREAKFAST.

"Just look at him, Dick.  Be quiet; don't speak."

"Oh, the dirty sunburnt little varmint!  I'd like the job o' washing
him."

"If you say another word, Dinny, I'll give you a crack with your own
stick."

"An' is it meself would belave you'd hurt your own man Dinny wid a
shtick, Masther Jack?  Why ye wouldn't knock a fly off me."

"Then be quiet.  I want to see what he's going to do."

"Shure an' it's one of the masther's owld boots I threw away wid me own
hands this morning, because it hadn't a bit more wear in it.  An' look
at the dirty unclane monkey now."

"He'll hear you directly, Dinny, and I want to see what he's going to
do.  Hold your tongue."

"Shure an' ye ask me so politely, Masther Jack, that it's obliged to be
silent I am."

"Pa was quite right when he said you had got too long a tongue."

"Who said so, Masther Jack?"

"Pa--papa!"

"Shure the masther said--and it's meself heard him--that you was to lave
your papa at home in owld England, and that when ye came into these
savage parts of the wide world, it was to be father."

"Well, father, then.  Now hold your tongue.  Just look at him, Dick."

"It's meself won't spake again for an hour, and not then if they don't
ax me to," said Dennis Riley, generally known as "Dinny," and nothing
more.  And he, too, joined in watching the "unclane little savage," as
he called him, to wit, a handsome, well-grown Zulu lad, whose skin was
of a rich brown, and who, like his companion, seemed to be a model of
savage health and grace.

For there were two of these lads, exceedingly lightly clad, in a
necklace, and a strip of skin round the loins, one of whom was lying on
his chest with his chin resting upon his hands, kicking up his feet, and
clapping them together as he watched the other, who was evidently in a
high state of delight over an old boot.

This boot he had found thrown out in the fenced-in yard at the back of
the cottage, and he was now seated upon a bank trying it on.

First, he drew it on with a most serious aspect, held out his leg and
gave it a shake, when, finding the boot too loose, he took it off and
filled the toe with sand; but as the sand ran out of a gap between the
upper leather and the sole close to the toe and as fast as he put it in,
he had to look out for something else, which he found in the shape of
some coarse dry grass.  With this he half filled the boot, and then,
with a good deal of difficulty, managed to wriggle in his toes, after
which he drew the boot above his ankle, rose up with a smile of
gratified pride upon his countenance, and began to strut up and down
before his companion.

There was something very laughable in the scene, for it did not seem to
occur to the Zulu boy that he required anything else to add to his
costume.  He had on one English boot, the same as the white men wore,
and that seemed to him sufficient, as he stuck his arms akimbo, then
folded them as he walked with head erect, and ended by standing on one
leg and holding out the booted foot before his admiring companion.  This
was too much for the other boy, whose eyes glittered as he made a snatch
at the boot, dragged it off, and was about to leap up and run away; but
his victim was too quick, for, lithe and active as a serpent, he dashed
upon the would-be robber, and a fierce struggle ensued for the
possession of the boot.

John Rogers, otherwise Jack, a frank English lad of about sixteen,
sprang forward to separate the combatants, but Dinny, his father's
servant, who had been groom and gardener at home, restrained him.

"No, no, Masther Jack," he cried, "let the young haythens fight it out.
It'll make them behave betther by-an'-by."

"I won't; I don't like to see them fight," cried Jack, slipping himself
free, and seemingly joining in the fray.

"Don't, Masther Jack," cried Dinny; "they'll come off black on your
hands.  Masther Dick, sir, tell him to lave them alone."

The lad appealed to, a pale delicate-looking youth, clenched his fists
and sprang forward to help his brother.  But he stopped directly and
began to laugh, as, after a short scuffle, Jack Rogers separated the
combatants, and stood between them with the boot in dispute.

For a moment it seemed as if the two Zulu lads were about to make a
combined attack, but there was something about the English lad which
restrained them, and they stood chattering away in their native tongue,
protesting against his interference, and each laying claim to the boot.

"Speak English," cried Jack.  "And now you two have got to shake hands
like Englishmen, and make friends."

"Want a boot! want a boot! want a boot!" the Zulu lads kept repeating.

"Well, you do as I tell you, and you shall each have a pair of boots."

"Two boot?  Two boot?" cried the boy who had lost his treasure.

"Yes; two boots," said Jack.  "You've got an old pair, haven't you,
Dick?"

"Yes; they can have my old ones," was the reply.  "Go and get them,
Dinny."

"And my old lace-ups too," said Jack.

"Ugh!" ejaculated Dinny, spitting on the ground in token of disgust.
"Ye'll both repint being such friends with cannibal savages like them,
young gentlemen.  They'll turn round on ye some day, and rend and ate ye
both."

"Not they, Dinny," laughed Jack.  "They'd prefer Irishmen, so we should
be safe if you were there."

"Ah, ye may laugh," said Dinny, "but they're a dangerous lot, them
savages, and I wouldn't trust 'em the length of my fut."

Dinny went towards the back door of Mr Rogers' roomy,
verandah-surrounded cottage farm, high up in the slopes of the
Drakensberg, and looking a perfect bower with its flowers, creepers, and
fruit-trees, many being old English friends; and Jack proceeded to make
peace between the two Zulu boys.

"Now look here, Sepopo, you've got to shake hands with your brother," he
cried.

"No!" cried the Zulu boy who had been lying down when he snatched the
boot, and he threw himself in a monkey-like attitude on all fours.

"Now you, Bechele, you've got to make friends and shake hands,"
continued Jack, paying no heed to Sepopo's defiant attitude.

"No!" cried the last-addressed, emphatically.  "'Tole a boot!  'Tole a
boot!"  And he too plumped himself down upon all fours and stared at the
ground.

"I say yes!" cried Jack; when, as if moved by the same influence, the
two Zulu boys leaped up, ran a few yards, and picked up each his "kiri,"
a short stick with a knob at the end nearly as big as the fist, ran back
to where the English lads were standing, and with flashing eyes began to
beat the sand with their clubs.

"Come along, Dick!" cried Jack.  "They shan't fight.  You take Sepopo,
I'll take Bechele.  No; don't!  It will make you hot, and you're not
strong.  I'll give it them both."

Jack, who was very strong and active for his age, made a dash at the
young Zulus just as they began threatening each other and evidently
meaning to fight, when for a few moments there was a confused struggle,
in which Jack would not have been successful but for his brother's help,
he having overrated his strength.  But Dick joined in, and in spite of
their anger the Zulu boys did not attempt to strike at their young
masters, the result being that they allowed their kiris to be wrenched
from their hands, and the next minute were seated opposite to each other
on the ground.

"They're as strong as horses, Dick," panted Jack.  "There!  Now, you
sirs, shake hands!"

"No!" shouted one.

"No!" shouted the other; and with a make believe of fierceness, Jack
gave each what he called a topper on the head with one of the kiris he
held.

"Now will you make friends?" cried Jack; and again they shouted, "No!"

"They won't.  Let them go," said Dick, languidly; "and it makes one so
hot and tired."

"They shan't go till they've made friends," said Jack, setting his
teeth; and thrusting his hand into his pocket he brought out a piece of
thick string, the Zulu boys watching him intently.

They remained where Jack had placed them, and going down on one knee he
seized the right hand of each, placed them together, and proceeded to
tie them--pretty tightly too.

"There!" cried Jack.  "Now you stop till you're good friends once more."

"Good boy now," cried one on the instant.

"Good boy now," cried the other.

"Then shake hands properly," said Jack.

"Give him the boot," cried Sepopo, as soon as his hand was untied, and
he had gone through the required ceremony with his brother.

"No, no; give him the boot," cried the other.

"Hold your tongues," cried Jack.  "I say, Dick, let's call them
something else if they are going to stop with us, Sepopo!  Bechele!
What names!"

"Well," said Dick, languidly, as he sat down in a weary fashion: "one's
going to be your boy, and the other mine.  Let's call them `Black Jack'
and `Black Dick.'"

"But they are brown," said his brother.

"Yes, they are brown certainly," said Dick, thoughtfully.  "Regular
coffee colour.  You might call one of them `Coffee.'"

"That'll do," said Jack, laughing, "`Coffee!' and shorten it into
`Cough.'  I say, Dick, I'll have that name, and I can tell people I've
got a bad `Cough.'  But what will you call the other?"

"I don't know.  Stop a moment--`Chicory.'"

"And shorten it into `chick'.  That will do, Dick; splendid!  Cough and
Chick.  Now you two, one of you is to be Cough and the other Chick; do
you hear?"

The Zulu boys nodded and laughed, though, in spite of the pretty good
knowledge of the English language which they had picked up from their
intercourse with the British settlers, it is doubtful whether they
understood the drift.  What they did comprehend, however, was, that they
should make friends; and this being settled, there was the old boot.

"Give me boot, and show you big snake," cried Chicory.

"No, no, give me; show more big snake," cried Coffee.

Just then Dinny came up with two old pairs of the lads' boots, which he
threw down upon the sandy earth; and reading consent in their young
masters' eyes, the Zulu lads pounced upon them with cries of triumph,
Coffee obtaining the two rights, and Chicory the two lefts, with which
they danced about, flourishing them over their heads with delight.

"Come here, stupids!" cried Jack; and after a little contention, the
boys being exceedingly unwilling to part as they thought with their
prizes, he managed to make them understand that the boots ought to go in
pairs; and the exchange having been made, each boy holding on to a boot
with one hand till he got a good grip of the other, they proceeded to
put them on.

"Ugh! the haythen bastes," said Dinny, with a look of disgust.  "Think
of the likes o' them wearing the young masthers' brogues.  Ah, Masther
Dick, dear, ye'll be repinting it one of these days."

"Dinny, you're a regular prophet of evil," said Dick, quietly.

"Avic--prophet of avil!" cried Dinny.  "Well, isn't it the truth?
Didn't I say avore we left the owld counthry that no good would come of
it?  And avore we'd been out here two years didn't the dear misthress--
the saints make her bed in heaven--go and die right away?"

"Dinny! how can you!" cried Jack, angrily, as he saw the tears start
into his brother's eyes, and that in spite of the sunburning he turned
haggard and pale.

"Don't take any notice, Dick," he whispered, in a tender, loving way, as
he laid one arm on his brother's shoulder and drew him aside.  "Dinny
don't mean any harm, Dick, but he has such a long tongue."

Dick looked piteously in his brother's face, and one tear stole softly
down his cheek.

"I say, Dick," cried Jack, imploringly, "don't look like that.  It makes
me think so of poor mamma.  You look so like her.  I say don't, or
you'll make me cry too; and I won't," he cried, grinding his teeth.  "I
said I'd never cry again, because it's so childish; and I won't."

"Then I'm childish, Jack," said Dick, as he rubbed the tear away with
one hand.

"No, no.  You have been so weak and delicate that you can't help it.
I'm strong.  But I say, Dick, you are ever so much stronger than when we
came out here."

"Yes," said Dick, with a wistful look at his brother's muscular arms.
"I am stronger, but I do get tired so soon, Jack."

"Not so soon as you did, Dick; and father says you'll be a strong man
yet.  Hallo! what's the matter?  Look there."

The brothers turned round, and hardly knew whether to laugh or to be
alarmed; for a short distance away there was Dinny dancing about, waving
his arms and shouting, while Coffee and Chicory, each with his kiri,
were making attacks and feints, striking at the Irishman fiercely.

"Ah, would you, ye black baste?" shouted Dinny, as roaring now with
laughter the brothers ran back.

"Shoo, Shoo! get out, you dirty-coloured spalpeen.  Ah, ye didn't.  Kape
off wid you.  An' me widout a bit of shtick in me fist.  Masther Dick,
dear!  Masther Jack! it's murthering me the two black Whiteboys are.
Kape off!  Ah, would ye again!  Iv I'd me shtick I'd talk to ye both,
and see if your heads weren't thick as a Tipperary boy's, I would.
Masther Dick!  Masther Jack! they'll murther me avore they've done."

As aforesaid, the two Zulu boys had picked up a great deal of the
English language, but their understanding thereof was sometimes very
obscure.  In this instance they had heard Dinny talking to his young
masters in a way that had made the tears come in Dick's eye, and driven
him and Jack away.  This, in the estimation of the Zulu boys, must be
through some act of cruelty or insult.  They did not like Dinny, who
made no attempt to disguise his contempt for them as "a pair of
miserable young haythens," but at the same time they almost idolised the
twin brothers as their superiors and masters, for whom they were almost
ready to lay down their lives.

Here then was a cause for war.  Their nature was to love and fight, as
dearly as the wildest Irishman who was ever born.  Dinny had offended
their two "bosses"--as they called them, after the fashion of the Dutch
Boers, and this set their blood on fire.

Hardly had the brothers walked away than, as if moved by the same
spirit, they forgot the beauty of the old boots in which they had been
parading--to such an extent that they kicked them off, and kiri in hand
made so fierce an attack upon unarmed Dinny that, after a show of
resistance, he fairly took to his heels and ran back to the house, just
as the brothers came up.

"Popo give him kiri," cried Chicory.

"Bechele de boy make Boss Dinny run," cried the other, his eyes
sparkling with delight.  "No make de boss cry eye any more."

"No make Boss Dick cry eye any more," repeated Chicory.

The brothers looked at each other as they comprehended the meaning of
the attack.

"Why, Jack," said Dick, "what faithful true fellows they are.  They'll
never leave us in a time of trouble."

"No, that they won't," cried Jack; and just then a tall, stern, sunburnt
man, with grizzled hair and saddened eyes, came up to where they stood.
Laying his hand affectionately on the shoulder of Dick,--

"Come, my boys," he said, "dinner is ready.  Let's be punctual while we
are leading a civilised life."

"And afterwards, father, as punctual a life as we can," said Dick,
smiling.

"Hurray!" cried Jack, giving his cap a wave in the air.  "Only another
week, and then, father--"

"Yes," said Mr Rogers, with a quiet, sad look, "then, my boy, good-bye
to civilisation."

"Only for a time, father," said Dick, quietly.

"Till you win health and strength, my boy," said Mr Rogers, with an
affectionate glance.

"And that we'll soon find," cried Jack; "for we are off to the wilds."



CHAPTER TWO.

WHY THEY WENT AWAY.

It was about two years before this that Mr Edward Rogers, a gentleman
holding a post of importance in the City of London, had purchased some
land and come out to dwell in Natal.  For physician after physician had
been consulted, seaside and health resort visited, but as the time
glided on the verdict of the doctors became more and more apparent as a
true saying, that unless Mrs Rogers was taken to a warmer climate her
days would be few.

Even if she were removed the doctors said that she could not recover;
but still her days might be prolonged.  What was more, they strongly
advised such a course in favour of young Richard, who was weak and
delicate to a degree.

"Then you really consider it necessary?" said Mr Rogers to the great
physician who had been called in.

"I do indeed.  As I have said, it will prolong your wife's days, and
most probably it will turn that delicate, sickly boy into a strong man."

On being asked further what country he would recommend, he promptly
replied,--

"South Africa."

"Natal is the place," he continued.  "There you have the Drakensberg,
and you can choose your own elevation, so as to get a pure, temperate
climate, free from the cold of the mountains and the heat of the
plains."

Mr Rogers was a man of prompt action, for the health of those dear to
him was his first consideration.  The consequence was that after rapidly
making his arrangements, and providing the necessaries for his new home,
he took passage to Durban, arrived there in safety with his wife, two
sons, and Dennis; then made his way to Maritzburg; and soon after he had
purchased an extensive tract of land, and a pleasantly situated home,
with garden in full perfection, the owner of which, having made money in
the colony, wished to retire to England.

Here for a time Mrs Rogers had seemed better, and undoubtedly her life
was considerably prolonged.  Gardening, farming, and a little hunting
formed the occupations of the father and sons, and for a time all was
happiness in the sunny far-off home.  Then the much-dreaded day came,
and they were left to mourn for a tender wife and mother, whose loss was
irreparable.

Richard, who partook greatly of his mother's nature, was, like his
father, completely prostrated by the terrible loss; and though time
somewhat assuaged his grief, he seemed to have gone back in his health,
and lost the way he had made up since he left England, and he had become
so weak and delicate that Mr Rogers had consulted the doctor, who from
time to time visited their far-off home.

"Medicine is of no use, my dear sir," he said frankly.  "I can do him no
good.  I suppose he sits indoors a good deal and mopes?"

"Exactly."

"Then look here, my dear sir, give him a thorough change.  You are not
tied to your farming in any way?"

"Not in the least."

"Then fit up a waggon, take your horses, and have a few months' campaign
in the wilds yonder.  You want a change as badly as the boy, and you
will both come back, I'll venture to say, doubled in strength.  Why, the
ivory and skins you'll collect will pay your expenses.  I wish I had the
chance to go."

It was settled then, and the waggon was being fitted up with ammunition
and stores; horses, guaranteed to be well-salted, had been purchased for
Mr Rogers and his boys.  The two young Zulus who had been hanging about
the place for months, making little trips with Dick and Jack, were to
go; and in addition a couple of trustworthy blacks, experienced as
waggon-driver and foreloper, had been engaged; so that in a very few
days they would say good-bye to civilisation for months, and go seek for
health in the far-off wilds.

The boys were delighted, for Mr Rogers proposed that they should aim
for the Zambesi River, and seek some of the seldom-traversed lands,
where game abounded, and where the wonders of nature would be opened to
them as from an unsealed book.

If Dick and Jack were delighted, the two Zulu boys were half mad with
joy.  As soon as they knew that they were to be of the party they seemed
to have become frantic, going through the actions of hunting and
spearing wild beasts--knocking down birds with their kiris, which they
threw with unerring aim--pantomimically fighting lions, one of them
roaring and imitating the fierce creature's "oomph, oomph," in a way
that sounded terribly real, while the other threatened him with his
assegai.

Then they were always showing their cleverness as hunters by stalking
people--crawling up to them through the long grass, taking advantage of
every irregularity of the ground or shrub to get nearer, and grinning
with delight on seeing the surprise and fear of the person stalked.

For it was only during the past year that they had been so much amongst
the settlers in Natal.  Their early days had been spent with their tribe
in the north, their father being a redoubtable chief; but he had given
great offence to the king, and had been compelled to fly for his life,
finding refuge amongst the English, with his boys.

Mention has been made of well-salted horses, which to a sailor would
immediately suggest commissariat beef in pickle in good-sized tubs; but
pray don't imagine that the satisfactory condiment, salt, has anything
to do with a salted horse in South Africa.  A salted horse is one that
is seasoned to the climate by having passed through the deadly horse
sickness, a complaint so bad and peculiar to the land that very few of
the horses seized with it recover.  When one does recover he is called a
salted--that is, seasoned--horse, and his value is quadrupled.

Mr Rogers had spared no expense in getting together good cattle.  His
team of little Zulu oxen were the perfection of health and strength, and
far more docile than is generally the case with these animals; though
even these, in spite of their good behaviour, were exceedingly fond of
tickling each other's ribs with their long horns, and saving the driver
trouble, for the pair nearest the waggon would stir up the pair in front
of them, and as these could only retaliate on their aggressors with
their tails, they took their revenge on the pair in front; these again
punished the pair in front; and so on, and on, to the leading oxen, the
result of the many applications being a great increase of speed.

Then the horses were excellent.  Mr Rogers had three for his own
riding; a big bay, a dark grey, and a soft mouse-coloured chestnut, more
famous for speed than beauty, and with a nasty habit of turning round
and smiling, as if he meant to bite, when he was mounted.

Dick was clever at names, and he immediately suggested "Smiler" as an
appropriate name for the chestnut.  The dark grey he called "Toothpick,"
because of his habit of rubbing his teeth on the sharp points of the
fence; while he called the big bony bay the "Nipper," from his being so
fond of grazing on, and taking nips from, the manes and tails of his
companions, when he could get a chance.

Mr Rogers provided three horses for his own riding, but it was with the
idea of giving either of his sons an extra mount when necessary, for it
was certain that there would be times when the arch-necked swift little
cobs purchased for his boys would want a rest.

It was a stroke of good fortune to get such a pair, and the boys were in
ecstasies when they were brought up from Maritzburg, for a handsomer
pair of little horses it would have been hard to find.  They were both
of that rich dark reddish roan, and wonderfully alike, the differences
being in their legs; one being nearly black in this important part of
its person, the other having what most purchasers would call the blemish
of four white legs--it being a canon amongst the wise in horseflesh that
a dark or black-legged horse has better sinews and lasting powers.  In
this case, however, the theory was wrong, for white legs was if anything
the stronger of the two.

The lads then were delighted, and this became increased when they found
the little nags quite ready to make friends, and willing to eat apples,
bread, or as much sugar out of their hands as they would give.

"That's right, my boys," said Mr Rogers, who found his sons making
friends in this way with the new arrivals; "always feed your horses
yourselves, and treat them well.  Pet them as much as you like, and win
their confidence by your kindness.  Never ill-use your horse; one act of
ill-treatment and you make him afraid of you, and then perhaps some day,
when in an emergency and you want to catch your horse, he may gallop
away.  Go on like that, and those cobs will follow you about like dogs.
But you must each keep to his own horse.  Which one would you like,
Jack?"

"Oh! the--"

Jack stopped, and glanced at his brother, whose face was slightly
flushed.

Dick was weak and delicate, while Jack was the perfection of boyish
vigour; and feeling that his brother did not enjoy life as he did
himself, he stopped short just as he was going to say White Legs, for
there was something in the cob's face that he liked, and the little
horse had let him stroke its velvet nose.

"Poor old Dick has taken a fancy to him," he said to himself; "and the
other will do just as well for me."

"Let Dick choose first," he said aloud.

"Very well," said Mr Rogers.  "Now then, Dick, which is it to be?
though you can't be wrong, my boy, for there is not a pin to choose
between them, and they are brothers."

"Should you mind if I chose first, Jack?" asked Dick.

"Not a bit," said Jack, stoutly, though his feeling of disappointment
was keen, for he felt now that he would dearly love to have the
white-legged cob.

You may guess then his delight when Dick declared for the black-legged
one.

As soon as he heard the decision Jack had his arm over the white-legged
cob's neck and had given it a hug, the horse looking at him with its
great soft eyes, and uttering a low snort.

"Up with you then, my boys, and have a canter."

"Without a saddle, father?" said Dick, nervously.

Jack was already up.

"Have it saddled if you like, my boy," said Mr Rogers, kindly.

But Dick flushed, gave a spring from the ground, and was on the little
cob's back.

They were both skilled riders, but Dick's illness made him timorous at
times.  He, however, fought hard to master his weakness; and when Jack
cried, "Come on, Dick; let's race to the big tree and back," he stuck
his knees into the cob's plump sides and away they went, with the wind
rushing by their ears, and the cobs keeping neck and neck, rounding the
big tree about a mile away on the plain, and then making the dusty earth
rise in clouds as they tore back, and were checked with a touch of the
bridle by the home field.

"Why, Dick, my boy, I would not wish to see a better seat on a horse,"
cried Mr Rogers, patting the cobs in turn.  "Jack, you set up your back
like a jockey.  Sit more upright, my boy."

"All right, father; I'll try," said Jack, throwing himself right forward
so as to hug his cob's neck.  "But I say, father, isn't he lovely?  I
felt all the time as if I was a bit of him, or we were all one."

"You looked like it, my boy," said Mr Rogers, smiling in his son's
animated face.  "I wish Dick had your confidence, and you a little more
of his style."

"All right, father, we'll try and exchange a bit a-piece," laughed Jack.
"But I can't half believe it, father, that these are to be our own
horses."

"You may believe it, then," said his father.  "And now get them to the
stable."

"Oh, I say, Dick, what beauties!" cried Jack.  "What shall you call
yours?"

"I don't know yet," replied his brother.  "He's very fast.  `Swift'
wouldn't be a bad name; and we might call yours `Sure.'"

"Hum!  I don't think much of those names.  Hold up!" he continued,
examining the hoofs of his brother's nag.  "I say, Dick, what fine thick
shoes he has got."

"That's a good suggestion," said Dick, laughing, and looking brighter
than he had seemed for weeks.  "Let's call him `Shoes,' and his brother
with the white legs `Stockings.'"

"Shoes and Stockings!" cried Jack; "but those are such stupid names.  I
don't know though but what they'll do."

The question was not discussed, for the lads busied themselves in
bedding down their own horses; and for the rest of that, day the stable
seemed to be the most important part of the house.



CHAPTER THREE.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE JOURNEY.

"What is it ye're doing?" said Dinny, a day or two before that proposed
for the start.

Coffee and Chicory looked up from their task, grinned, and then went on
sharpening the points of a couple of assegais upon a heavy block of
stone, which they had evidently brought from a distance.  Their faces
glistened with perspiration; their knees were covered with dust; and
they were in a wonderful state of excitement.  Resuming their work on
the instant, they tried to bring the weapons to a keen point.

"Kill lion," said Coffee, laconically; and he worked away as if the lion
were round the corner waiting to be killed.

"Then ye may just as well lave off, ye dirty little naygars; for it's my
belafe that you're not going at all."

Dinny went off into the house leaving the two boys apparently paralysed.
They dropped the assegais, stared at each other, and then lay down and
howled in the misery of their disappointment.

But this did not last many seconds; for Coffee sprang up and kicked
Chicory, who also rose to his feet, and in obedience to a word from his
brother they took their assegais and hid them in a tree which formed
their armoury--for out of its branches Chicory took the two kiris or
clubs; and then the boys ran round to the front, and stood making signs.

The brothers had such a keen love of anything in the way of sport that,
expecting something new, they ran out and willingly followed the two
young blacks out into the grassy plain about a mile from the house, when
after posting their young masters behind a bush, Coffee and Chicory
whispered to them to watch, and then began to advance cautiously through
the grass, kiri in hand, their eyes glistening as they keenly peered
from side to side.

"What are they going to do?" said Dick.

"I don't know.  Show us something.  I wish we had brought our guns.
Look out!"

There was a whirring of wings, and the two Zulu boys struck attitudes
that would have been models for a sculptor; then as a large bird similar
to a partridge rose up, Coffee sent his knobbed club whizzing through
the air; another bird rose, and Chicory imitated his brother's act; and
the result was, that the cleverly thrown kiris hit the birds, which fell
in amongst the long grass, from which they were retrieved by the lads
with shouts of triumph--the birds proving to be the coranne, so called
from the peculiarity of their cry.

"Well done, boys!" cried Jack.  "They'll be good eating."

"Boss Dick, Boss Jack take Zulu boys, now?" said the kiri-throwers,
eagerly.

"Why, of course.  You know you are going," replied Dick.

"Dinny say Zulu boys not going," cried Chicory.

"Then Dinny knows nothing about it," said Dick, angrily.  "If he don't
mind he'll be left behind himself."

Coffee sent his kiri spinning up in the air, Chicory followed suit, each
catching the weapon again with ease; and then they both dashed off
across the plain as if mad, and to the astonishment of the brothers, who
took the brace of birds and walked back towards the house, to continue
the preparations for the start.

For there was so much to do, packing the great long tilted waggon with
necessaries, in the shape of tea, sugar, coffee, and chocolate.  Barrels
of mealies or Indian corn, and wheaten flour, besides.  Salt too, had to
be taken, and a large store of ammunition; for in addition to boxes well
filled with cartridges, they took a keg or two of powder and a quantity
of lead.  Then there were rolls of brass wire, and a quantity of showy
beads--the latter commodities to take the place of money in exchanges
with the natives--salt, powder, and lead answering the same purpose.

It was a delightful task to the boys, who thoroughly enjoyed the
packing, and eagerly asked what every package contained, when they had
no opportunity of opening it; while Mr Rogers looked on, smiling at the
interest they took.

"Here y'are, young gentlemen," said Dinny.  "The masther seems to think
that you're going to do nothing but suck sweet-stuff all the time you're
out."

"Why, what's that, Dinny?" cried Dick, who had just brought out a heavy
box.

"Sure, it's sugar-shticks and candy," said Dinny; and he went off to
fetch something else.

"Why, so it is, Dick," said Jack.  "I say, father, are we to pack this
sweet-stuff in the waggon?  We don't want it."

"Indeed, but we do," said his father, coming up.  "Why a handful of
sweet-stuff will make friends with a Boer, when everything else fails.
Here, put this in the fore box.  Perhaps, when I bring this out you'll
be glad to get at the sweet-stuff."

"What is it, father?" said Dick.

Mr Rogers opened the little deal case and turned it out, to begin
packing it again.

"Here's a bottle of chloroform, and another of castor oil; two bottles
of chlorodyne; a pound of Epsom salts; four large boxes of pills; a roll
of sticking-plaster; a pot of zinc ointment; and a bottle of quinine and
one of rhubarb and magnesia."

Jack's countenance was a study.  For as his father carefully repacked
the little box the lad's face grew into a hideous grimace.  He waited
till Mr Rogers had finished his enumeration, and then clapping his
handkerchief over his mouth, he uttered a loud "Ugh!" and ran and stood
a few yards away.

"I shan't go," he cried.

"Why not?" said Mr Rogers, smiling.

"Why the waggon will smell, of nothing but physic.  What's the good of
taking it, father?"

"The good?  Well, my boy, there's nothing like being prepared; and we
are going far away from doctors, if we wanted their help.  We may none
of us be unwell, but it is quite likely that we may, either of us, get a
touch of fever.  Besides, we might meet with an accident; and for my
part, as I have a little knowledge of medicine and surgery, I know
nothing more painful than to find people sick and to be unable to give
them the remedy that would make them well.  We shall be sure to find
some sick people amongst the natives, and they have a wonderful
appreciation of the white man's medicine."

"Well, look here," said Jack, "if you'll shut the box up very tightly,
I'll consent to come."

Mr Rogers smiled, and did shut the little box up very tightly, after
which the preparations went on; and it was perfectly wonderful to see
what that waggon would hold.

There was a moderate case of wines and spirits, also to act as
medicines; several dozens of coloured blankets for presents; waterproof
sheets.  A cask of paraffin oil was swung under the floor, and by it a
little cooking-stove, while beside these swung a long box containing
spades and shovels, for digging the waggon-wheels out of holes, tools
for repairs, wrenches, and jacks and axes, till it seemed as if there
would be no end to the stores and material.

Then leather slings were nailed up under the tilt for the rifles and
guns, so that they might always be ready to hand; for they were going
into the land of wild beasts and savage men.  Above all, their stores
had to be so packed that their positions could be remembered, and they
could be obtained when wanted, and yet leave space for blankets to be
spread, and the travellers find room to sleep beneath the tilt upon the
top.

The preparations went on; the black driver who was to manage the oxen
busied himself along with the foreloper, whose duty it is to walk with
the foremost oxen, in getting their great whips in trim, and in seeing
the trek-tow and dissel-boom--as the great trace and pole of the waggon
are called--were perfect; and they practised the team as well.

Many of the readers may not know that for an expedition like this, where
the waggon party expect to be travelling for months, perhaps for a year,
through a country where roads are almost unknown, and where the great
heavily-laden, but wonderfully strongly-made waggon, has to be dragged
over rocks, through swamps, and into and out of rivers, a team of
fourteen, sixteen, or, as in this case, even twenty oxen, will be yoked
to the great chain or rope called the trek-tow.  For some of the poor
animals are sure to succumb during the journey; or they may be killed
for food, the loss being not so much felt when a superabundant number is
taken.

With the leading pair of oxen walks the foreloper, whose duty it is to
choose the best road, and to avoid stones and marshy places where the
wheels would sink in; and the success of an expedition depends a good
deal upon having a good foreloper.

In this case Mr Rogers had secured a trusty Kaffir, who had been
frequently into the interior; but his appearance was against him, for he
had lost one eye, from a thrust of a bullock's horn.  But Dinny said
that the one left was as good as two, for when Dirk looked at you, it
seemed to go right through your head and tickle the hair behind.

Off to the Wilds--by George Manville Fenn



CHAPTER FOUR.

INSPANNING FOR THE TRIP.

The eventful morning at last!  Bright, clear, and the dew lying thick
upon the thirsty earth.  All the arrangements had been made; the waggon
stood ready.  Peter the driver was upon the box in front of the waggon;
the boys were mounted, and a couple of neighbours had ridden over to see
them start; but to the infinite vexation of Dick and Jack, the young
Zulus had not returned.  They had started off on the day when they
killed the coranne, and that was the last that had been seen of them.

"Now, Dinny, you may let the dogs loose," cried Dick, who looked
brighter and better, his father thought, than he had been for days.
Dinny at once obeyed; when, yelping and barking with delight, the four
dogs--Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and Rough'un--came bounding about,
leaping up at their masters, and taking short dashes out into the plain
and back.

"Where are those two boys?" said Mr Rogers suddenly.  "I haven't seen
them for days."

"Dinny offended them," said Jack petulantly, as he patted the arched
neck of Stockings.  "He told them they shouldn't go."

"Sure I only hinted to the black young gintlemen that it was just
possible the masther might lave them behind, when they took themselves
off in the most ondacent way; and that's all I know, sor."

"Here they are!" cried Jack suddenly, "Hi-yi-yi-yi--Coff!  Hi-yi-yi-yi--
Chick!"

"Hi-yi-yi-yi-yi!" echoed back; and the two boys came running up, one on
either side of a fierce-looking, very powerfully-built Zulu--a handful
of assegais, and his long, narrow, oval shield in one hand, and for
costume a fringe of skins round the waist, a sort of tippet of the same
over his back and chest, and smaller fringes just beneath each knee.
His back hair was secured in a knot behind, and depending from it were
some feathers, one of which drooped right down his back.

He was a noble-looking specimen of humanity, and as he came up he gazed
almost haughtily round at the party, seeming as if he had come as an
enemy, and not as a friend.

"Been fetch de father," cried Coffee, pushing the great Zulu towards Mr
Rogers.  "Father going to boss.  Kill and hunt lion."

Mr Rogers raised his eyebrows a little, for he had not reckoned upon
this; but one more or less on such an expedition did not matter, for
plenty of provisions would be killed; and a man like this was no little
addition to their strength.

"Oh, very good," he said.  "Dinny, run into the house, and fetch the
bread and meat we left.  I daresay the boys are hungry."

Coffee and Chicory understood that, and they began to grin and rub their
"tum-tums," as they called a prominent part of their persons; but the
next moment they had dragged their father to introduce him to Boss Dick
and Boss Jack, smiling with delight on seeing their young masters shake
hands with the Zulu warrior.

Dinny did not look at all pleasant as he brought out the bread and meat,
which was rapidly shared by the Zulu and his boys, who evidently meant
to eat the food as they went along; so after one more look round, and a
glance at the two great water-casks swung behind the waggon, Mr Rogers
gave the word, Peter the driver stood up on the great chest strapped in
front, cracking his whip with both hands, and Dirk the foreloper
followed suit.

"Trek Hans!  Trek Buffler!  Trek Zulu!  Trek boys!  Trek!" shouted
Peter, dancing about on the chest in his excitement.

"Trek, beauties!  Trek, beauties!  Trek!  Trek!  Trek!" yelled Dirk.

The oxen slowly tugged at their yokes, the great trek-tow tightened, the
wheels of the fine new waggon creaked; and as Mr Rogers mounted the big
bay, his sons took off and waved their caps, giving a loud cheer, for
now they were really off to the wilds.



CHAPTER FIVE.

A TASTE OF SOMETHING TO COME.

There was but little in the way of incident for some time.  The dogs
seemed to be never weary of hunting here and there, thrusting their
noses under every rock, their heads into every hole; but they found
nothing till after the midday halt, when a furious barking from the
setter Rough'un took the attention of all, and Mr Rogers and the boys
cantered up to a thin cluster of trees, where, on what seemed to be at
first a broken stump, but which on nearer inspection proved to be a tall
ragged ant-hill, a vicious-looking snake was curled, swinging its head
about threateningly, and darting out its forked tongue at the dog, which
kept its distance, barking furiously.

"A poisonous fellow--cobra evidently.  Now, Dick, bring it down."

"No; let Jack shoot, father," said Dick.  "My head aches, and I'm tired.
Well, yes, I will."

"That's right, my boy.  I want you to master this weakness," said his
father.  "And besides, I want you to try how your horse stands fire.
Nip him tightly with your knees."

Dick cocked his double-barrelled breechloader--fired--and the serpent
hissed loudly and began to descend, but a shot from Jack's rifle laid it
writhing on the ground, when, before it could be prevented, Rough'un
seized it behind the head, worrying it furiously.

Fortunately the creature was mortally wounded, or it might have gone
hard with one of the dogs, its poison being very violent; and the others
coming up soon tore it to pieces.

"Your horses behaved admirably," said Mr Rogers.  "You must train them,
my boys, so that they will stand where you leave them, and take no more
notice of a shot fired over their heads than at a distance."

They halted directly after for a midday meal, the oxen finding a
plentiful supply of fresh grass and water, and after a good rest they
were once more on the way, the horses behind under the care of Dinny and
the Zulu warrior.

Mr Rogers and his sons were close to the oxen, Coffee and Chicory were
close behind, and they were inspecting the team, which was pulling
steadily and well, when Mr Rogers said,--

"Well, boys, we may as well get our guns.  We shall soon be in the
hunting country now."

"Hi!  Yup-yup-yup!" shouted Coffee.

"Ho!  Yup-yup-yup!" yelled Chicory.  The dogs began to yelp and bark;
and in the excitement, as they saw an animal like a great long-eared
spotted cat dash out of a clump of trees and make for some rocky ground,
all joined in the chase; Mr Rogers ran as hard as the rest, forcing his
pith hunting-helmet down over his head.  Coffee got well in front,
waving his arms and shouting; but Chicory trod upon a thorn and began to
limp.  As for Jack, in his excitement he tripped over a stump, and fell
sprawling; while Dick had hard work to save himself from a similar
mishap.  Last of all, whip in hand, came the foreloper, who had left the
oxen in his excitement, flourishing and cracking his lash.

There was a sharp hunt for a few minutes, during which the followers
toiled on over the rocky ground, seeing nothing after their first
glimpse of the lynx--for such Mr Rogers declared it to be; then they
met the dogs coming back, looking very stupid, and quite at fault.

Rough'un, however, went on with Coffee, and Jack followed, to find that
the lynx had evidently gone down a deep rift, where it was impossible to
follow it; so they went back to the waggons, both Jack and his father
determining that in future they would never be without either gun or
rifle in hand.

Every minute, almost, as they journeyed on, the boys realised the value
of having the waggon made in the best manner, and of the strongest wood
that could be obtained, for it bumped and swayed about, creaking
dismally beneath its heavy load, and making the casks and pots slung
beneath clatter together every now and then, as it went over some larger
stone than usual.  They saw too the value of a good foreloper; for if a
careless man were at the head of the oxen, the waggon might at any
moment be wrecked over some rugged rock or sunk to the floor in a black
patch of bog.

The dogs seemed rather ashamed of themselves after the chase of the
lynx, and went with lolling tongues to trot behind the waggon, Pompey
now and then making an angry snatch at Caesar, while Crassus threw up
his muzzle and uttered a dismal yelp.  Rough'un, too, did not seem
happy, but to have that lynx on his conscience; for he kept running out
from beneath the waggon, and looking back as if bound to finish the
chase by hunting the cat-like creature out; but he always altered his
mind and went under the waggon once more, to walk close to the heels of
the last pair of oxen, one of which looked back from time to time in a
thoughtful meditative way, with its great soft eyes, as if in
consideration whether it ought to kick out and send Rough'un flying.

This act made Rough'un run forward, and as the ox bent down snuffing at
it, the dog leaped up at its muzzle, then at that of the next ox, and
went on right along the whole span, saluting all in turn without getting
trampled, and ending by retaking his place beneath the waggon front.

For Rough'un was a dog of a different breed to his fellows, and though
he hunted with them he did not associate with them afterwards, but kept
himself to himself.

There was not much to interest the boys after the first excitement of
the start was over, for they had to travel over plain and mountain for
some distance before they would reach ground that had not been well
hunted over by the settlers; but every step took them nearer, and there
were endless matters to canvass.  For instance, there were the
capabilities of their horses, which grew in favour every time they were
mounted; the excellences of their guns, presented to them by their
father for the expedition, light handy pieces, double-barrelled
breechloaders, the right-hand barrel being that of an ordinary shot-gun,
the left-hand being a rifle sighted up to three hundred yards.

It would be hard to say how many times these guns were loaded and
unloaded, slung across their owners' backs and taken down again, while
the eagerness with which they looked forward to some good opening for
trying their skill was notable.

But beyond an occasional bird which fled with a loud cry at the approach
of the waggon, and a little herd of springbok seen upon the edge of a
low hill quite a mile away, there was little to break the monotony of
the journey over the hot sandy waste, and every one was pretty weary
when, just at sundown, they came in sight of a low house, the abode of a
Boer who had settled there some years before, and who, with his large
family, seemed to be perfectly content, and who smiled with satisfaction
on being presented with some sweets in return for his civility in
pointing out the places where the out-spanned oxen could find an
abundance of grass and water.

Here the first experience of sleeping in a waggon was gone through, and
very comical it seemed to boys who were accustomed to the comforts of a
well-regulated home.

Dick laughed, and said that it was like sleeping in the attic, while the
servants slept in the kitchen, for the drivers and the three Zulus made
themselves snug under the waggon, Dinny joining them very unwillingly,
after a verbal encounter with Dick, who, however much he might be
wanting in bodily strength, was pretty apt with his tongue.

"Sure, Masther Dick, sir, Dinny's the last boy in the world to grumble;
but I'm a good Christian, and the blacks are as haythen as can be."

"Well, Dinny, and what of that?"

"Why, ye see, Masther Dick, I'm a white man, and they are all blacks;
and," he added with a grin, "I shouldn't like to catch the complaint."

"What complaint, Dinny?"

"Why, sure, sir, it would be very painful to you and Masther Jack there,
and the masther himself, if you found poor Dinny get up some fine
morning as black as a crow."

"Get along with you," cried Jack.

"Oh, be easy, Masther Jack, dear," cried Dinny; "and how would you like
to slape under a waggon wid five sacks of smoking and living coals like
them Zulus and Kaffirs is?"

"I wouldn't mind," replied Jack.  "We are on a hunting expedition, and
we must take things in the rough."

"Sure an' it is rough indade," grumbled Dinny.  "I'm thinking I'd rather
go sthraight home to my poor owld mother's cabin, and slape there dacent
like, wid nothing worse in it than the poor owld pig."



CHAPTER SIX.

A FALSE ALARM.

Mr Rogers had felt a little hesitation in giving the fierce-looking
Zulu permission to make one of the party, but as they journeyed on
across the apparently interminable plains between the Vaal and the Great
Crocodile rivers, he awoke more and more to the fact that he had secured
a valuable ally.  For the old warrior entered into the spirit of the
expedition at once, helping with the oxen or to extricate the waggons in
difficult places, showing himself quite at home in the management of
horses, and being evidently an excellent guide, and above all a hunter
of profound knowledge and experience.

As soon as he realised the intentions of Mr Rogers, he became most
earnest in his endeavours to get the party well on their way farther and
farther into the wilds, making the eyes of the boys dilate as he told
them in fair English of the herds of antelope and other game he would
soon show them in the plains; the giraffes, buffaloes, elephants, and,
above all, the lions, whose haunts he knew, and to which he promised to
take them.

Whenever the father began to talk in this strain his two sons grew
excited, and started to perform hunting dances, in which the number of
imaginary lions and buffaloes they slew was something enormous.  Every
now and then, too, the boys killed some imaginary elephant, out of whose
unwieldy head they made believe to hack the tusks, which they invariably
brought and laid at their young masters' feet, grunting the while with
the exertion.

Dick soon grew tired of it however.

"It's all very well," he said; "but if that is the way we are to load
the waggons with ivory, we shall be a long time getting enough to pay
the expenses of the journey."

Mr Rogers joined them one day as they were walking along in advance of
the slow-moving waggon, and began to question the Zulu about the game in
the wilds north of where they were; and in his broken English he gave so
glowing an account that his hearers began to doubt its truth.

He said that when he had had to flee from his own people for his life,
he had at first gone right away into the hunting country, and stayed
there for a year, finding out, in his wanderings, places where hunting
and shooting people had never been.  Here, he declared, the wild
creatures had taken refuge as in a sanctuary; and he declared that he
should take the boss who had been so kind to his boys, and both the
young bosses, to a wild place where they would find game in abundance,
and where the forests held the great rhinoceros, plenty of elephants,
and amongst whose open glades the tall giraffe browse the leafage of the
high trees.  There in the plains were herds of buffalo too numerous to
count, quagga, zebra, gnu, eland, and bok of all kinds.  There was a
great river there, he said, full of fish, and with great crocodiles
ready to seize upon the unwary.  The hippopotamus was there too, big and
massive, ready to upset boats or to attack all he could see.

Mr Rogers watched his sons attentively as the Zulu narrated his
experience of the land, and he was delighted to see how much Dick was
already leaving off his dull languid ways, and taking an interest in
what was projected.  One thing the father wished to arrive at, and that
was whether Dick would be frightened through his weakness, and the
hunting parties consequently do him more harm than good.  But just then
a question put by his son showed him that he was as eager as his brother
for an encounter with the wild creatures of the forest and plains.

"And do you say there are lions?" said Dick.

"Yes, plenty lion," said the Zulu.  "They come to camp at night, and try
to get the ox and horse."

"Oomph! oomph! oomph!" growled Coffee, in an admirable imitation of the
lion's roar.

"Keep big fire," said the Zulu, "then no lion come."

"Well, Dick," said Mr Rogers, "how do you feel?  Ready for the fray?"

"Yes, father, I am longing for the time when we shall get amongst the
wild beasts.  I want to try my gun; and I want to grow strong and manly,
like Jack."

"All in good time, my boy," replied Mr Rogers, smiling.  "We shall soon
be leaving civilisation almost entirely behind, and then you shall make
your first attempts at becoming a mighty hunter."

Comparatively uninteresting as the journey was, they still had plenty to
take their attention--grand views of distant mountains; wondrous
sunsets; great flights of birds; but the absence of game was remarkable;
and twice over, in spite of their being so well armed and provided, Mr
Rogers was glad to purchase a freshly-killed springbok of a Boer, at one
of the outlying farms that they passed.

On the seventh night out though, their fortune was better, for they had
out-spanned, or loosened their oxen from the waggon, just by a clump of
trees in a wide plain, and the Zulu went off the moment they stopped.

Both Peter and Dirk began to complain, for they expected help from their
black companion; but upon this occasion they had their work to do
without aid, Coffee and Chicory having also gone off with their kiris in
search of game.

Mr Rogers and his sons started off to see if they could provide
anything palatable for supper; but though there was a swampy lagoon
about a mile away, they did not catch sight of a single duck, and were
returning tired and disappointed when they caught sight of the Zulu
signalling to them to come.

"He has found something," cried Jack eagerly; and they hastened over the
rugged intervening space, to find that the father of Coffee and Chicory
was evidently a keen hunter, and ready enough in knowing where to look
for creatures that would do for food.

With almost unerring instinct he had found out this clump of trees,
evidently one where guinea-fowl came to roost; and full of hope that
they would now obtain a good addition to the larder, or, in plain
English, a few birds to roast for supper, guns were supplied with
cartridges, and the little party waited for the coming of the spotted
birds.

The pleasurable anticipations of the boys, who had a lively recollection
of the toothsome bird with a flavour half-way between roast fowl and
pheasant, seemed likely to be damped, for they had been waiting quite
half an hour without hearing or seeing anything, when suddenly the Zulu
laid his hand upon Jack's arm, and pointed in a direction opposite to
the waggon.

"Well, what are you pointing at?" said Jack.  "I can't see anything.
Yes, I can; there they are, father.  Look out!"

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!

Half-a-dozen rapid shots, and then, amidst the whizzing of wings and
cries of the birds, some of which flew off, while others ran through the
short grass at an astounding rate, Coffee, Chicory, and their father ran
out beneath the trees; and the result of the firing was brought in--ten
fine plump birds for their supper.

This was the first night that they had passed in the open, the previous
halts having been made at some farm; so after the supper the blacks were
set to gather in more wood, the fire was well made up, and the oxen
secured, it being decided to begin at once upon the regular plan that
they would have to adopt in the enemy's country, the enemy being formed
of the various wild creatures against whom they were having their
campaign.

Years back the spot where they were encamped had been famous for lions,
but from what Mr Rogers had heard, none had been seen here now for a
considerable time.  Still he thought it better to take precautions, the
party being divided into three watches, the first of which he took
himself, with Chicory for a companion; Jack was to take the second, with
the Zulu; and Dick, Coffee, and Dinny were to form the third.

The oxen and horses having been all secured, the fire was piled up, and
those who were to rest gladly availed themselves of the opportunity, and
in a very short time nothing was to be heard but the fluttering noise
made by the burning fire, and the snorting sigh of one or the other of
the horses.

In due time Jack was aroused, to sit up and stare at his father.

"What's matter?" he said sleepily.

"Nothing, only that it is your turn to watch," said his father.

"Why, I've only just lain down," replied Jack.  "It can't be time yet."

But a good rub at his eyes seemed to bring a little thoughtfulness as
well, and he climbed put of the waggon and descended to the ground.

"I don't think you will have anything to alarm you, my boy," said his
father.  "Wake me up though if there is the slightest sign of danger."

Jack promised, and, shivering and uncomfortable, he crept up to the
fire, which the Zulu renewed; but though he roasted his face and knees,
his back felt horribly cold, and he heartily wished himself at home, and
in his snug bed.  But the Zulu began to look round at the cattle, to
satisfy himself that all were safe; and then seating himself with his
assegai across his knees close to the fire, he began to tell the young
Englishman about the dangers that would have surrounded them if they had
encamped here a few years earlier; and, then he lapsed into such vivid
accounts of his own hunting adventures and escapes, that the four hours'
watch seemed to have passed like magic, and Jack was ready to finish the
next; but recalling the last injunctions he had received from his
father, he went to the waggon, roused up Dick, and from under it Dinny
and Coffee, and soon after left them to finish the morning watch.

Jack felt as if it would be of no use to try and sleep again; but
knowing that their next day's journey would be very fatiguing, he lay
down in his brother's place, found the blankets very warm and cosy, and
then, with the sound of Dinny yawning loudly, he fell fast asleep.  He
seemed hardly to have closed his eyes, when a shout aroused him, just as
he heard his father seize his double rifle, and go to the front of the
waggon.

Jack did likewise, with as much speed as his sleepy confusion would
allow; and on reaching the opening he found that it was still dark, so
that he could not have been long asleep, the fire was burning
brilliantly, and every one was on the alert.

"Yes, I seemed to hear it myself in my sleep," said Mr Rogers, in
answer to some words spoken by Dick.  "Did it sound near?"

"Sure, sor, it was close by, and I thought the bastes had got one of the
bullocks."

The Zulu was with them now, having sprung from his place beneath the
waggon, asking eagerly what was wrong.

"They heard a lion prowling round," replied Mr Rogers.

"No, no," said the Zulu.  "No lion here."

"But I heard it quite plainly," said Dick, who felt angry at being
doubted.

"Sure and I did too, so close to me shoulder that I could feel the
baste's breath blow over on to me chake."

"No, no," said the Zulu.  "Look! see!"

He pointed towards the oxen and horses in turn.

"But it would be impossible to see it in this darkness," said Mr
Rogers.

"Yes, but the oxen," said the Zulu.  "They would not lie quiet if there
was a lion."

"Of course not," said Mr Rogers, envying the savage his knowledge.
"Then what caused the alarm?"

There was no reply; and after satisfying themselves that all was safe,
and piling up the rest of the wood upon the fire--for the streaks of the
coming dawn could be seen--the tired watchers returned to the waggon,
and slept until roused for breakfast, when the secret of the alarm came
out, Coffee having been afraid to confess at the time that he knew it
was his brother imitating the lion's cry in his sleep, his proximity to
Dick and Dinny making it seem the more real.  Feeling sure that he would
be punished if he spoke, Coffee had remained silent, and so the matter
ended, Dick laughing heartily at the false alarm, though Dinny would not
believe that the cry emanated from the boy.

"Jist as if I was such a biby as to belave that story, Masther Jack," he
said.  "I tell ye it was the lion himself attacking the bastes, and
you'll see he'll be about the camp now every night, as regular as
clockwork.  It's very good of the masther to try and put one at his aise
about the wild bastes; but that there was a lion--I know it was; and if,
Masther Jack, dear, I'm missing some night, ye may know that there's a
lion aiting of me; and I hope ye'll take me bones back and give me a
dacent burying somewhere among Christians, and not lave them kicking
about out here in a foreign land."

"But how can you be so stupid, Dinny?  Father says it was Chicory, and
you know how he imitates the wild beasts."

"Ah, do ye take me for a baby, Masther Jack?" said the man,
reproachfully.  "There, let it go.  I'm your father's servant, and he
must have his own way; but it's cruel work this coming out into such
savage lands; and there's one man as will niver see home parts again."

When once Dinny had got an idea in his, head, to use his own words, "a
shillelagh would not knock it out;" so he remained perfectly certain
that the camp had been attacked by a lion; and he went about prophesying
that the coming night would produce two.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

HOW THE BOYS FOUND IT WAS NOT EASY TO SHOOT.

The oxen were in-spanned and the horses saddled, on as glorious a
morning as ever shone over the great African continent.  The breakfast
things had been stowed away, a glance given round to see that nothing
had been left behind; the driver's and foreloper's whips cracked; and
with loud shouts of, "Trek, boys, trek!" the great waggon slowly went on
its course, every one forgetting the troubles of the disturbed night, in
the glorious sunshine and dew-glittering herbage.

Coffee and Chicory ran and bounded and spun their kiris in the air,
catching them again, and then running on beside the cantering horses of
their young masters, while their father ran beside Mr Rogers' big bay.
Above all, the dogs showed their delight by barking, yelping, and making
insane charges here and there, Rough'un's great delight being to run his
head into one or other of the holes made by the burrowing animals of the
plains, and then worrying and snapping at nothing until he was called
away.

As the waggon lumbered on, father and sons wandered off to left or
right, exploring, examining the trees and strange plants, and sometimes
bringing down some bright-plumaged bird, which was carefully laid in a
tin case carried for the purpose by the Zulu, ready to be skinned and
dressed to keep as a specimen on their return.

That they were approaching the game country was now hourly becoming
plainer, for from time to time little knots of bok could be seen upon
the hills; but when Dick or Jack eagerly drew the attention of the Zulu
to the fact, he laughed, and said it was nothing, bidding them to wait.

"We must have some venison for dinner to-day, boys," said Mr Rogers,
cantering up; "so one of you had better try your rifle.  Who's it to
be?"

"Let it be Jack, father," said Dick, quietly; "my hands are not steady
yet."

"Very good," said Mr Rogers; while the Zulu listened attentively,
trying to comprehend every word.  "Now then, Jack, how shall you go to
work?  There is a little herd of half-a-dozen springbok there, on that
hill, nearly a mile away."

"Get close and shoot them," replied Jack, stoutly.

"Say, if you can, my boy," replied Mr Rogers, smiling.  "Now look here,
Jack, this is the way the Boers shoot springbok, and I don't think you
will find a better plan.  Have a few cartridges handy, so that you can
load quickly, and then gallop easily towards the herd, which will begin
playing about, till they grow too alarmed to let you get nearer, and
then they'll bound off.  This is your time: gallop up as close as you
can, and when you see they are about to go, leap from your horse and
fire--reload, and fire again.  If you are very quick you may get three
shots at the herd before they are out of range."

"But suppose I miss, father?" said Jack.

"Don't suppose anything of the kind, my boy," said Mr Rogers, smiling;
"but go and do it.  Time enough to consider failure when you have
failed."

Jack nodded, opened the breech of his gun, placed half-a-dozen
cartridges ready, leaped down to tighten the girths of his saddle, the
cob standing perfectly still.  Then mounting once more, he waved his
hand, touched his horse's sides with his heels, and away it went like
the wind.

As he started, Chicory, who seemed to have adopted him as his leader,
made a bound at the saddle, caught hold of the pommel, and ran by his
side with marvellous speed.

The springbok seemed to pay not the slightest heed to their approach,
and Jack was beginning to feel excited with the chase, and to calculate
how far they should be able to get before having to dismount, when all
at once there was a sudden check; he went flying over his horse's head,
his double barrel escaped from his hand, and he found himself lying on
the hard sandy earth, confused and puzzled, with Chicory trying to pull
him up; and Stockings standing close by, snorting and shivering with
fear.

Jack got up, and limped to where his rifle lay, feeling stupid, and
wondering how it was that he had been thrown; and he had but regained
his piece, and was ruefully examining it, when his father and Dick came
galloping up.

"Much hurt, my boy?" cried Mr Rogers, eagerly.

"Only my leg and arm a little," said Jack, rubbing first one and then
the other; "but I did think I could ride better than that, father."

"Ride, my boy?  Why, no one could have helped that.  Don't you know how
it was?"

"I know Stockings threw me," replied Jack.

"Threw you?  Nonsense, boy!  He set his fore feet in an ant-bear hole,
and turned a complete somersault.  We were afraid that he had rolled
upon you."

"Then a good rider couldn't have helped it, father?"

"Helped it?  No, my boy."

"Oh, I feel better now," said Jack, laughing; and, limping up to his
horse, he patted its neck and remounted, though not without difficulty.
"Where's the bok, Chicory?"

Chicory pointed to where they were, nearly a mile away, and looking
exceedingly small, but quite clear in the bright African atmosphere; and
without a word he set off again.

"Ought he to go, father?" said Dick.

"Yes, my boy.  He is not much hurt, and it will be a lesson to both him
and his horse.  I am glad to see that he has so much spirit."

A short chuckle close by made Mr Rogers turn his head, and he saw that
the Zulu understood his words, and was smiling approval.

"Brave boy!  Make big hunter warrior, some day," said the Zulu.

"Boss Dick big brave hunter too," cried Coffee indignantly, as he went
and laid a hand upon the neck of Dick's horse.  "Boss Dick go shoot
bok?"

"Not now, Coffee," replied Dick, smiling; and then the little group
remained watching Jack, who was in full chase of the springbok, which,
as he came nearer, began to skip and bound and gambol together, leaping
over each other's backs, but all the time watching the coming enemy.

It was an exciting time for Jack, and in it he forgot the pain in his
shoulder and the stiffness of his leg.  He had the rifle-barrel ready
cocked, and his feet out of the stirrups, and at last, when he had
galloped up to within a couple of hundred yards, he saw such evident
preparations for flight on the part of the little bok, that he leaped
down, dropped upon one knee, and fired straight at the flying herd.

Before the smoke had risen he had another cartridge in the rifle, and
fired again.  Once more he threw open the breech and loaded--and fired,
though by this time the bok were seven or eight hundred yards away.  But
in spite of the care in the aim taken, no bok fell struggling to the
ground, and Jack rode back slowly to join his father, wondering whether
the bore of his rifle was true, for he knew, he said to himself, that he
had aimed straight.

When he hinted at the possibility of the rifle being in fault, his
father smiled, and Dick gave him so comical a look that Jack said no
more, but rode on silently by the side of the waggon, till, seeing his
disappointment, his father joined him.

"Why, you foolish boy," he exclaimed, "it was not likely that you would
hit one of those flying bok.  It is a matter of long practice; and even
the Boers, who have studied such shooting for years, often miss."

"But you see, father, I did make such a dreadful mess of it," pleaded
Jack.  "I came off my horse; and then I shot over and over again, and
missed.  I can't help feeling what a muddle I made."

"Well, for my part," said his father, "I am rather glad that you failed.
If you had succeeded, my boy, without effort at the first trial, it
would have made you careless.  These failures will teach you the
necessity for using care, and trying to perfect yourself as a marksman."

"But there'll be no bok for dinner," said Jack ruefully.

"Never mind," replied Mr Rogers.  "I daresay the boys will bring in
something."

He was right, for Coffee and Chicory brought in six great plain
partridges, which they had knocked down with their kiris, and these were
roasted at the midday meal, and eaten with the appetite found in the
desert.

As the day wore on, and after the refreshed oxen were once more doing
their duty, the effects of the last night's scare began to show itself,
Peter, Dirk, and Dinny declaring that they had seen lions creeping after
the waggon in the distance, ready to pounce upon the oxen as soon as it
was dark.

Dirk reported this to Mr Rogers, who gave them all a good, talking to
about their cowardice.

"Why, look at these Zulu boys," he cried; "they don't show any fear,
while you grown men are almost as bad as children."

"Sure, sor, an' the Zulu boys don't know any better," said Dinny.
"They're little better than the bastes themselves."

"Well, there are my own boys," exclaimed Mr Rogers.  "They are not
afraid.  I wonder at you, Dinny, an Irishman, and to set such a bad
example to these blacks."

"And is it afraid?" said Dinny.  "Not a bit of it.  I'm not a bit afraid
at all; but I can't help thinking of what my poor mother's feelings
would be if she came to know that her only son Dennis had been aiten up
by wild bastes.  I don't mind a bit, but I wouldn't hurt her feelings
for the world."

"Then oblige me, Dinny, by holding your tongue, for if I hear any more
complaints I shall send you back."

"Sind me back!" ejaculated Dinny, as soon as his master had gone.  "Sind
me back across the big desert all alone by meself.  Why, it would be
worse than murther.  It's meself wishes I hadn't come."

Whatever he may have wished, these sharp words had the effect of
silencing Dinny for the time being; but when the Zulu had led them at
last, just at sundown, into a dense patch of forest, where the
overhanging trees made the gloom quite oppressive, Dinny's eyes showed
white circles round them; and if it had not been for the fact that they
found a Boer and his family encamped by the water they had been seeking,
the Irishman would have probably turned, and at all risks have fled.

People are ready enough to make friends out in the desert, and the Boer
gladly offered the use of the fire he had made, and a part of the
springbok he had shot, on receiving a share of some of the good things
brought by the newcomers.  Then, with the great camp-kettle simmering
over the fire, and with the boys patiently waiting for their share of
the provisions, guns were cleaned and laid ready for use, the men the
while busily attending to the oxen and horses, while the Zulu and his
boys collected wood into a pile to keep up the fire.

"Sure an' it's a dreadful melancholy-looking place," said Dinny with a
shudder.  And then he listened attentively while the Boer expressed his
belief that there were lions in the neighbourhood, though they were not
often seen.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

HOW NATURE WAS STRONGER THAN TRAINING.

Days and days of steady travel, and the slowly gained miles mounted up
till they had journeyed far into the interior.  Mr Rogers, yielding to
the importunities of his boys, had several times over been ready to come
to a halt; but the Zulu still pointed forward, and feeling that there
must be much truth in his declarations regarding the game country on
ahead, he was allowed to act as guide.

It was a long journey, but though they did not have much sport, it was
not monotonous, for Mr Rogers was a good naturalist, and eager to
collect everything curious in beetle, butterfly, and bird, so that all
hands were pretty busy from dawn to dark.  Coffee and Chicory, after
they had been taught not to pull off the feathers, became very clever at
skinning birds, some of which had been denizens of the woods, some of
the lagoons and marshes they had passed, and which were shot at
daybreak, or else after sunset, from amongst the great beds of reeds.
Then if they were ducks, the bodies became occupants of the great pot;
if they were not considered eatable they fell to the share of the dogs.

That great iron pot, which was always suspended from three poles over
every fire that was made, became an institution.  The idea was taken
from a hint given by a hunting-party, one of the gentlemen forming it
telling Mr Rogers that, upon returning weary and exhausted to camp,
there was nothing so restorative us good rich soup.  Consequently,
whenever a buck was shot, great pieces of its flesh were placed in the
pot, and allowed to stew till all their goodness was gone, when the
blacks considered them a delicacy, the rich soup being the portion of
the hunting-party.

Game was scarce, but they got a sufficiency of either small bok or birds
to supply their wants; and, whether it was the constant change, the
fresh air, the rich meat essence which Dick partook of with avidity, or
whether it was a combination of the effect of all these, the change in
the boy was magical.  He could take a long ride now without feeling
weary, and wanting in appetite; he was ready to buckle to and help when
the waggon was stuck, literally putting his shoulder to the wheel with a
will, and in place of hanging back, he was now the first to spy out
game, and set off in chase, making Jack quite envious by coming back in
triumph with a couple of springbok hanging from his saddle-bows, both
having had to succumb to his rifle.

But this was not to be borne; and Jack at once took Chicory into his
confidence.

"I must shoot a springbok, Chick," he said.  "Dick has shot two."

"Boss Jack shoot springbok to-morrow," said the boy, decisively; and
soon after daybreak roused his young master, and pointed out across the
plain towards the rising sun.

"Bok," he said laconically; and while Jack was giving a finishing touch
or two to his dress, the boy ran off, and began to saddle Stockings,
having the little horse ready by the time Jack was prepared to mount.

The others were not awake, saving the Zulu and Dick, who had the morning
watch; so Jack got off unquestioned, and rode away in the direction
pointed out by Chicory, whose dark eyes made out the presence of the
little bok long before they could be seen by his young master, who began
to think that he had been deceived, and expressed his doubts upon the
point.

But Chicory smiled, and laid his hand upon Jack's arm, pointing to where
some shadow shapes of animals could be seen through the faint mist
hanging over a low clump of hillocks; and with a cry of joy the boy
pressed his horse's sides, and went off at a swinging canter, without
discomposing Chicory in the least, for the boy held on to a strap at the
pummel of the saddle as before, and there being no ant-bear hole in the
way, or, the horse having learned better through his fall, they rapidly
neared the little herd, which began the antics peculiar to these
animals, till the lad was getting close up, when they began to flee at a
tremendous rate.

Quick as thought, Jack had sprung from his saddle, and sent a bullet
after the herd; then another, and another; but all apparently without
result.  Then disappointed and vexed, Jack turned to Chicory as if it
was his fault.  But the boy had climbed an old ant-hill, and was
watching the flying herd with his eyes shaded by his hand.

"One down--two down," he cried, sending joy through Jack's breast; for,
on galloping after the herd, it was to find one bok lying dead, and
another so badly wounded that it became an easy capture.

It was with no little importance then that Jack rode back with his two
bok, ready to receive the congratulations of his father, for his
manifest improvement in handling his rifle, and in hunting the bok
according to the accepted plan.

At last their guide, after looking-on with something almost supercilious
in his face at this, to him, puny style of hunting, and contentment with
such small game as birds, springbok, and the like, announced that the
next day they would be entering upon what he termed his hunting country.

The travellers had now reached a more rugged tract of land, scored with
deep ravines, along which, at some time or another, small rivers must
have coursed, while now the narrow stony tracks were found convenient
for waggon tracks, though often enough the way was cruelly difficult,
and all had to set to and clear a passage for the wheels by bodily
removing some of the worst of the stones.

There was no hesitation or hanging back at such times, for all had to
set to, even Dinny playing a pretty good part, considering that he
abhorred manual labour.

Quite a change seemed to have come over the General, as Dick aptly
dubbed their Zulu guide; for though he gave way in everything connected
with the management of the waggon, and was exceedingly respectful to Mr
Rogers, no sooner did any hunting matter come to the front, or a
question of the best direction to take, than he seemed to take the lead
as if in spite of himself.

At first Mr Rogers felt annoyed, and ready to put the man down; but in
a very short time he saw that the Zulu's sole thought was for the
success of the expedition, and that his actions were the natural results
of his former life; for, savage though he was, and servant to this
expedition, he had been a prince in his own tribe, and a leader amongst
the people.

The night was coming on fast, when one day, after a long and weary trek,
the heavily-laden waggon was approaching a belt of elevated forest-land,
where the General had assured Mr Rogers they would find water.

It had been a toilsome day, hot and dusty, and at their midday rest
there had been hardly a mouthful of herbage for the tired oxen, while
water there was none.  The contents of the two casks swinging behind the
waggon were jealously guarded for the travellers' use; but so miserable
did the cattle seem that the two boys asked their father to tap one of
them for the oxen and horses.

"It will be but a taste a-piece," he said; "but perhaps you are right,
boys."

Then the tap being set running, every ox and horse had a refreshing
taste, though it was hard work to get the pail away from each thirsty
mouth.

Then all through that long parching afternoon they had toiled on, with
the draught cattle growing more listless, the horses sluggish and
restless; and a general feeling of weariness seemed to have seized upon
all.

The result was shown in the silence with which they progressed.  The
driver and foreloper ceased to shout and crack their whips; the Zulus
trudged slowly on behind the waggon; and out of compassion for their
horses, Mr Rogers and his sons walked beside the weary beasts.

"You are sure we shall find water at sundown?" said Dick to the General.

"Nothing is sure out in the wilds, young master," said the Zulu gravely.
"There should be water there.  If there is not, we must trek on through
the night, to the first river or spring."

"But will there be water there?"

"We shall be in the game country then, and I can soon find where the
game goes to drink, and can lead you there."

This was satisfactory, and they trudged on and on, with the land
gradually rising, making the pull more heavy for the oxen, whose tongues
were lolling out, and whose efforts at last became so painful that Mr
Rogers at once accepted his sons' proposal, which was that the horses
should help.

A halt was called, and great stones were placed beneath the wheels to
make sure that there should be no running backwards on the part of the
waggon, and then the tethering ropes were fastened to the horses'
saddles; the Zulus and the boys took their head; the word was given to
start; the ropes that had been secured to different parts of the waggon
tightened; and though the horses could not pull as if they were properly
harnessed, the impulse they gave relieved the weary oxen, and after half
an hour's toilsome drag, the waggon was drawn to the top of the incline,
and the travellers had the pleasure of seeing that a tolerably level way
lay before them.

But there was no sign of water, and Mr Rogers looked serious as he
swept the dimly seen country before him with his glass.

"Had we not better outspan here?" he said, "and let the oxen rest.  We
could start again at daybreak."

But the General shook his head.

"No, boss," he replied.  "Let us go on.  We may find water yet."

Mr Rogers gave way, and in a listless, weary fashion the heavy waggon
was dragged on.

"Oh, I am so tired," cried Jack; "and I'd give anything to be able to
walk right into a big pond and drink, and soak myself outside.  My skin
feels as if it was cracking."

"I'm very tired, too," said Dick; "but not so tired as I thought I
should be.  Why I must have walked twenty miles to-day.  I wonder
whether that means that I am growing stronger."

"You need not wonder," said Mr Rogers, who had heard his words.  "You
may be sure, my boy.  But how dark it is growing!  There are the stars."

"What's the matter with the bullocks?" cried Jack suddenly.  "Why,
father, they're gone mad with thirst."

"Water," cried the General, pointing ahead.  "They smell the water."

The sensitiveness was caught up by the horses, which, like the oxen,
quickened their pace, craning with outstretched muzzles, their fine
instinct telling them that there was water on ahead, towards which they
struggled to get.

Great care was needed now lest the water should prove to be merely a
well or pool, into which the bullocks would rush, muddying the water,
and perhaps trampling one another to death in their efforts to reach the
refreshing liquid.  But strive hard as they would, it proved to be
impossible to keep the thirsty creatures back.  The waggon had not
proceeded so fast since they started; and the speed was growing greater,
causing the great lumbering vehicle to rock and sway in a most alarming
fashion.  If they had encountered a rock, however small, there must have
been a crash.  But as it happened, they came on very level ground,
sloping gently towards the north.

Klipmann, the foremost ox, a great black fellow with long horns, had
proclaimed the find, and communicated the fact with a deep-mouthed
bellow; and the next minute all was excitement and shouting, as the
great waggon thundered and groaned along.

The first thing to be done was to detach the horses, which was no sooner
done than they seemed to take fright, and went off at a gallop into the
gloom ahead; then, amidst the yells and shoutings of Peter and Dirk, who
danced about as if mad, efforts were made to check the oxen; but the
poor beasts were frantic with thirst, and any serious attempt to stop
them would have meant goring, trampling down, or being crushed by the
wheels of the ponderous waggon.

The wild race lasted for a mile, during which every moment threatened to
be the waggon's last.  The oxen lowed and trotted on, the waggon
creaked, and the loose articles rattled and banged together.  Mr Rogers
and his sons panted on at the sides, momentarily expecting to see it go
over, and Coffee and Chicory, who had been very slow and silent for
hours, whooped and yelled and added to the excitement.

"It's all over with our trip, Jack," panted Dick.  "We shall have to
pick up the pieces to-morrow and go back."

"Wait a bit, and let's see.  Why, what's the General going to do?"

For all at once the Zulu had darted on ahead after snatching a kiri from
Chicory's hand, seized the foremost bullock, old Klipmann, by the horn,
and, at the risk of being impaled or trampled down, he beat the stubborn
bullock over the head with the club, and treating the other, its
yoke-fellow, the same, he forced them into taking a different course,
almost at right angles to that which they were pursuing.

"Stop, stop!" roared Mr Rogers.  "You will upset the waggon."

But he was too late.  The course of the leading oxen being changed, the
others swerved round, giving such a tug at the dissel-boom that the
waggon's wreck seemed certain.  The whole team taking, as it did, a
different course, the waggon was dragged side-wise, and for a few
seconds tottered on its two nearside, or left-hand, wheels.

It seemed as if it must go over crash--that nothing could save it; and
Jack uttered a cry of dismay, and warning to his brother to get out of
the way.  Then, as if by a miracle, it fell back with a heavy thud on to
the other wheels, and bumped and jolted on after the long team of oxen
into the obscurity.  And then, when ruin seemed to have come completely
upon the expedition, _wish-wash_! _splish-splash_! the foaming of
water--the crunching of wheels over stones and sand--a quick rush--and
the waggon was standing, axletree deep, in a swiftly flowing river, down
whose shelving bank it had been dragged, and in whose cool waters the
oxen and horses were washing their legs, and drinking deeply with
delight.



CHAPTER NINE.

AN AWFUL FORD TO CROSS.

It was a wonderful relief, and following the example of the animals,
every one waded into the cool stream above the oxen, and drank deeply of
the delicious water.

"Oh, I say, father," cried Jack, "I never thought water was so good
before.  This _is_ a river."

And really Jack had an idea that he had tumbled upon a stream whose
waters were wine-like in their flavour; and but for a few words of
warning he would have gone on drinking more deeply still.

"Thank goodness!" cried Mr Rogers, as soon as he could gain his breath.
"But what an escape!  The waggon nearly went over.  Where is that
scoundrel of a Zulu?  Oh there you are," he cried excitedly.  "How dared
you touch the oxen, sir!  Your mad folly nearly spoiled our journey."

The General looked back at Mr Rogers, drawing himself up in savage
pride, and his eyes seemed to flash in the darkness; but he did not
speak, only turned away with a dignified look of displeasure.

"I know why he did it, father," cried Dick, excitedly.  "Look, don't you
see?  The ground slopes down here to the water.  Up there it's all rock,
and the team would have gone over a precipice.  See, it's twenty feet
deep."

"Of course!  To be sure!" cried Mr Rogers eagerly.  "His keen sight
showed him the danger.  I beg your pardon, my man," he cried, "I did not
know the reason, and ought not to have acted and spoken so rashly."

He held out his hand to the stern scowling Zulu, as he spoke; but for a
moment the savage hot blood that had been roused by his leader's
injustice refused to be tamed down, and he remained with his arms
folded; but glancing at Dick's eager countenance, and recalling how it
was due to him that the real truth of his actions was made known, the
General let his better feelings prevail, and snatching Mr Rogers' hand
in his, he held it for a moment to his broad breast, and then let it
fall.

"Why you saved the waggon," said Mr Rogers, after walking to the edge
of the sudden descent where the rock went down sheer to the water, which
bubbled and foamed against its side.

"Yes; all gone over together," said the General quietly.  "Now all go
across."

"But is it wise--is it safe--to attempt to cross to-night?" said Mr
Rogers.

"Will see," replied the General; and going down into the water, he
walked straight out past the heads of the oxen, literally disappearing
into the darkness as he waded on.

"Isn't he very brave to do that, father?" asked Jack, who had watched
the Zulu go from where they stood by the hind part of the waggon, whose
back wheels were on the dry sand.

"Coffee no 'fraid to go," said that young gentleman.

"Chicory go too after father," said his brother; and the two boys dashed
into the rushing water past the oxen, and then disappeared.

"What madness!" said Mr Rogers.  "Why the stream runs swiftly enough
for them to be swept away."

Both Jack and Dick gazed eagerly out over the swift river; but the black
figures of the young Zulus seemed to disappear in the darkness, and for
some few minutes there was an excited pang while they listened to the
bubbling of the water against the fore wheels of the waggon, or the
plashing made by the oxen as they lazily moved their legs, apparently
enjoying the pleasant coolness of the water after their toilsome march.

"I ought not to have allowed them to go," said Mr Rogers suddenly.
"Here, Dinny, bring me the bay.  I'll mount, and try and ride over to
their help."

"Bring the what, sor?" said Dinny.

"The bay," cried Mr Rogers.  "Quick, man! quick!"

"An' how'll I be getting at him, sor?" said Dinny.  "Sure he's standing
out there in the wather catching cowld, and I couldn't reach him widout
getting very wet."

"Why you did wade in to drink," cried Jack, indignantly.

And with a rush and a splash he ran into the water, to where he could
dimly make out the form of the big bay; and catching it by the halter,
he drew it after him, the rest of the thirst-quenched horses coming
_plash_! _plash_! out of the water, and following the bay like so many
sheep.

Mr Rogers was about to mount, when the General's voice was heard
hailing Peter and Dirk; and directly after their hearts were set at rest
about Coffee and Chicory, who could be heard laughing in the darkness.

"All shallow water," cried the General.  "Trek, Peter; trek, Dirk.  Good
place all across."

Mr Rogers hesitated as to the advisability of crossing in the darkness;
but the oxen were already in, the waggon was also nearly in the river,
and if allowed to stay for a few hours it would probably sink deeply in
the sand.  So, leaving his men to pursue their own course, he also waded
in, while Dirk cracked his whip, Peter mounted on to the box and
followed suit, and Klipmann, the black bullock, headed on into the
stream.  The shadowy-looking team could be dimly seen to straighten out;
there was a heavy pull at the waggon, and another, and another, before
its fore wheels were extricated from the sand in which they were sinking
fast, showing the wisdom of at once proceeding; and then, _plash_!
_plash_! and with the water rushing against them, the party began to
cross.

"My! how strong the current is," cried Jack.

"Take hold of the waggon, my boy," said Mr Rogers.

But as the water did not come up to his waist, Jack did not mind.  And
so the heavy load was dragged slowly through the stream.

"I say, Jack," said Dick, suddenly, just as they started, "there are
crocodiles in these rivers, ain't there?"

"Oh, murther!" ejaculated Dinny, who had gone into the water very
unwillingly, and had wanted to ride, but Mr Rogers had refused to have
the waggon loaded any more, preferring himself to walk.

Then there was a rush and a splash, that passed unnoticed in the bustle
of crossing; and at the end of ten minutes, by the General's guidance
the team was led to a gentle slope, which they easily mounted, and
dragged the dripping waggon forth on to a level grassy plain.

The horses had followed, to stand about snorting and stamping, fresh and
bright with their bathe; and it was now determined, dark as it was, to
trek on for a couple of miles to a rich grassy spot that the General
said was ahead, and would be a good place for outspanning and camp, when
a dismal yell was heard from the farther shore.

"What's that?" exclaimed Mr Rogers.

But no one answered.

"Some one must be in the river," cried Dick, excitedly.  "Where's
Coffee?"

"Here Coffee," cried the Zulu boy, who had quite accepted his name.

"Then who is it?" said Jack, looking round in the darkness.  "Here's
Chicory."

"Why, it's Dinny," cried Dick.  "Ahoy!  Dinny!"

"Ahoy!  Help now, Masther Dick, sor," came from some distance off.

"The poor fellow is being swept down the river," exclaimed Mr Rogers,
leaping on the bay to ford or swim down to the drowning man.  "Dinny!
Shout, man!  Where are you?" he cried.

"Sure, I'm here.  How'll I get over at all?" came back.

"What!  Are you ashore?" cried Mr Rogers.

"Yis, sor."

"Then wade across, man.  It isn't deep."

"Sure, sor, and I daren't."

"Dare not!" cried Jack.  "Why we did."

"Yis, sor; but a great baste of a thing laid howlt o' me, and I had to
go back."

"Are there any crocodiles here?" said Mr Rogers, to the Zulu.

"No, boss; no crocodile.  All in Limpopo river."

"I thought so.  Here, Dinny."

"Yis, sor."

"Come across directly, man!  There's nothing to be afraid of!"

"Sure, sor, I'm not afraid a bit!" yelled Dinny.

"Then come over."

"If I did, sor, the crockydiles would be aiting me, and thin what would
you do?"

"Let me fetch him, father," cried Jack.  "I'll wade over."

"No, let me," said Dick.  "I'm not afraid."

"I don't think a second wetting will do either of you any good," replied
their father.  "Here, Dick, take the bay and go across, and make the
stupid fellow hold on by your stirrup-leather.  Take care to go
straight."

"Help.  What'll I do now?  Are ye going to lave me?" cried Dinny, in
piteous tones.

"He really deserves to be left," said Mr Rogers.  "We shall have to
cure him of this cowardice.  Go on, Dick."

Dick leaped into the saddle, touched the willing bay's sides, and the
horse began to ford the rapid stream, hesitating just a trifle as they
reached the middle, where the current pressed most hardly against his
flanks; but keeping steadily on till he was safe across.

"Ah, Masther Dick, dear!" whined Dinny.  "An' it's you, thin?"

"Yes, it's me, my brave Irish boy!" said Dick.

"An' ye didn't bring another of the horses for me, sor?"

"No, Dinny, I didn't," replied Dick, smiling at the other's cowardice.
"My father said you were to hold on by the stirrup-leather."

"What, and walk acrost?"

"To be sure."

"Saints alive!  I daren't do it, Masther Dick, dear.  Sure the bottom of
the say--I mane the river--there's paved wid crockydiles; an' every step
I took I could feel them heaving up under me."

"What, as you were going across, Dinny?"

"Yis, sor.  Not as I minded as long as they kep' quiet; but whin one
hungry baste laid howlt toight o' me trousers, and scratched me leg wid
his ugly teeth, I felt that it was time to be off back, and I jist
escaped."

"Hoi, there, Dick!  Look sharp!"

"Coming!" roared Dick.  "Now then, Dinny.  There are no crocodivils
here."

"Hark at him now!" cried Dinny.  "Why the river swarms wid 'em.  Did
they ate the black boys?"

"No, of course not.  What nonsense!  Come, catch hold, and let's go."

"Masther Dick, dear, I've a mother at home in the owld country, and if
anything was to happen to me, she'd never forgive the masther."

"Catch hold, Dinny.  I tell you there's nothing to fear."

"Sure, Masther Dick, dear, an' I'm not afraid--not the laste bit in the
worrld; but I couldn't go across there to-night.  Wouldn't ye fetch one
of the horses, Masther Dick?"

"No," cried Dick impatiently.  "I couldn't do that.  Here, I'll get down
and wade, and you can ride."

"Thank ye, Masther Dick, dear.  Sure, it's an honourable gintleman ye'll
make, if ye don't let the crockydivils get ye before your time.  That's
betther," he said, mounting.  "Howlt on very tight to the horse's mane,
Masther Dick; and if ye feel one of the bastes feeling and poking ye
about wid his nose before getting a good grip, jist you call out, and
I'll put on the speed to drag ye away."

"I wouldn't let my feet dabble in the water, Dinny," said Dick,
wickedly.  "The crocodiles snap at hands or feet held over in their
track."

"What'll I do, then?" cried Dinny, in alarm.

"I'd put my feet in my pockets, if I were you," said Dick.

"Sure, an' it's a boy ye are for a joke, Masther Dick," cried Dinny
grimly.  "I'll howlt me legs up very high.  Ah! what are ye shouting
about?  We're coming."

"Make haste there, Dick.  Is anything wrong?"

"No, father!" shouted back Dick.  "There, get along with you.  Give him
his head, Dinny, and he'll go straight across."

"I'd better make him canter, hadn't I, Masther Dick, dear?"

"Canter?  Nonsense!  Why, the poor thing has enough to do to keep his
feet walking."

"Then it isn't safe at all crossing the river, Masther Dick, dear.  And
ah, I daren't go like this, wid me riding the good honest baste and you
walking.  What'll the masther say?"

"That you are a terrible coward, Dinny," replied Dick.

"Be aisy, Masther Dick.  It isn't being a coward, it's thinking av my
poor mother, and taking care of meself for the poor owld sowl's sake.
Whisht, Masther Dick, dear, jump up behind and hold on by me, and the
baste'll carry us both over."

"It's rather hard on the horse, Dinny, but I don't want to get wet, so
here goes.  Hold tight."

Dick took a leap, "fly the garter" fashion, and came down astride the
bay, but startling it so that it began to rear and plunge.

"Aisy, Masther Dick, dear, or I'll be off.  Be quiet, ye baste.  What's
the matter wid ye?  Quiet, now!"

"Is anything the matter there?" came from out of the darkness across the
river.

"No-o-o-o!" roared Dick, drumming the bay's ribs with his heels.  "Trek!
go on, old fellow."

"Oh, take care, Masther Dick, dear, whatever ye do," whined Dinny.

"Oh, I'll take care," cried Dick, assuming the lead, and leaning forward
so as to get the reins.  "There, I'll guide; you hold him tightly with
your knees.  Go on, bay."

On went the bay steadily enough; and there was no disposition to waver
now, even in the sharpest parts of the stream, for the extra weight upon
his back made him firmer.  But just as they reached the middle of the
river a mischievous idea entered Dick's head, and suddenly with one foot
he made a splash, while with the other he pressed Dinny's leg against
the horse's side.

"Murther!  Help!" yelled Dinny.  "He's got me at last!" and throwing
himself in the opposite direction, Dick only managed to save himself by
nipping the horse.  As for Dinny, he went head over heels into the
running stream, being borne back, however, by the current against Dick's
legs, when, grasping him by the collar, Dick urged the horse on, Dinny
supplementing his young master's hold by a most tenacious grasp, till
the horse's hoofs began to plash in the shallower water, and poor Dinny
was dragged out on to dry land.

"Why, what have you been about, Dinny?" cried Mr Rogers angrily.  "Why
didn't you come over with us?"

"Sure, sor, I'm kilt entoirely," groaned Dinny, rubbing his leg.  "Twice
over the savage bastes have had hold of me, and if I hadn't thrown
meself on the other side of the bay horse, it's this minute they'd be
aiting of me up."

"Jump up and come along," cried Mr Rogers.  "It's my belief, Dinny,
that you are a great coward.  Here, make haste, the waggon's nearly a
mile ahead."

"Oh, masther, it was a narrow escape," groaned Dinny, who did not
attempt to move.

"It will be a narrower one, Dinny, if you stay there, for the Zulu tells
me that this is a favourite spot for lions to lie in wait for the bok
and zebra that come down to drink."

"Oh, masther dear, why didn't ye say so before?" cried Dinny, jumping up
with alacrity.  "Sure I'd be the first to tell a man if he was in
danger."

Mr Rogers did not reply, but went on with his son, Dinny keeping very
close behind, till they overtook the waggon just as it reached the
camping-place, where a fire was soon burning, and the oxen contentedly
cropping the ample supply of excellent grass.



CHAPTER TEN.

A GLORIOUS SIGHT FOR A HUNTER.

Watch was set in the usual manner, so that the fire might be well kept
up, and after a good dry, and a hearty meal--such a one as is made by
those who have toiled all day in the open air--those who were at liberty
so to do soon sought their blankets, and slept soundly and well.

To Dick and Jack it seemed that they had only just lain down, when there
was a firm hand laid upon them, and they were awakened by the General,
who signed to them in the grey morning light to get up.

They crept out of the waggon yawning, but that sign of slothfulness was
soon chased away, and their father joining them, they took their guns
and followed the General, leaving Dinny with orders to wake the boys,
and to get breakfast ready by their return.

"Where are we going, father?" asked Dick.

"I can't say, my boy.  The Zulu awakened me as he did you.  He has
something to show us, I suppose."

Their way lay up a woodland slope, where the trees had a park-like
aspect, and beneath their shade it was still quite dim, but here and
there they caught glimpses of the sky, which was flecked with little
clouds of orange, and vermilion, and gold, while the light was rapidly
growing in the east.

The General went on rapidly, as if quite sure of his route, and it
seemed that the point at which he was aiming was the highest part of a
ridge.

And so it proved, for when he had reached the summit the Zulu chief
walked cautiously along for a short distance, and then stopped and
stooped down, motioning to those who followed to do the same.

They obeyed him implicitly, preparing their pieces at the same time.
Then creeping up to him cautiously, they found that they were on a ridge
looking down into a widespread valley, flooded with the light of the
approaching sunrise.

It was a glorious scene, and worth all the trouble and patience of their
long journey to see.  It was almost breathlessly that they gazed at the
broad, grassy valley, with its clumps of trees, patches of wood, and
portions dotted with masses of rock, whose tops were bathed in the amber
morning tints, while in the direction where the little party gazed the
shadows of tree and stone lay dark.

Facing them in the east the clouds were now gorgeous in their hues, one
layer forming a grand arch of light, towards which darted upwards the
rays of the coming sun.

But it was not only the sunrise that was glorious in the extreme, nor
the beauty of the broad valley that held the spectators' eyes, but the
occupants of the scene below.

The General had undertaken to guide them to what he called the great
game country, and he had kept his word.  For below them--to right, to
left, and away towards the golden burst of glory where the sun was about
to rise--the land was literally alive with game.

Down to their right spread broad marshy lagoon after lagoon, in which
swam, dived or waded, countless ducks and crane.  Here, writhing its
snaky neck and curious head and beak, was the flamingo, all white and
rose; there, soft grey cranes and others, with a lovely crest, as if in
imitation of the rays of the rising sun.

But it was not the wondrous variety of birds alone that took their
attention, but the large game, feeding, gambolling, and careering in
countless herds.  To the left were zebras, and beyond some quaggas, or
wild asses, the peculiar bray or cry of _quay-gah_! _quay-gah_! reaching
to their ears.  On their right there were gnus, or wildebeestes, as the
Boers called them, brindled and the blue--curiously fierce-looking
little animals, partaking both of the character of the deer and the
buffalo.  Some grazed placidly in the morning light, others were engaged
in tilting at each other with their horns, while their companions looked
on as if waiting for their turn; and every now and then the sound of the
striking horns ascended to the woody ridge with a loud crash.

But while these creatures contended together, groups of antelopes were
dotted here and there, while others careered at lightning speed over the
plain.

The sight was wonderful, and the boys felt as if they would never tire
of watching the evolutions of the graceful creatures, which, with their
skins glistening and horns looking golden in the morning light, seemed
to be going through a series of military evolutions with the greatest
precision.

"Koodoo, pronghorn," said Mr Rogers, looking at the herd through his
glass.  "There are a dozen elands too," he continued, and then passed
the glass to his sons.

"Oh, this is grand," cried Dick enthusiastically.  "I could stay here
for ever watching the graceful creatures."

"So could I," said Jack, after breakfast.  "I say, father, hadn't we
better shoot something--the stock's getting low?"

"Yes," said Mr Rogers quietly; and he longed to go himself and bring
down a good fat buck for the replenishment of the larder; but the
expedition was for his sons, and he gave place to them.  "Now, Dick," he
continued, "here is a chance for you to try and stalk one of those
hartebeestes; or better still, a nice fat antelope.  Pick out one with a
fine head of horns, and then aim straight at the shoulder, and be sure
and bring him down."

"At what distance would you fire, father?" asked Dick.

"I'd get as close as I could, my boy, but I'd fire at six or seven
hundred yards sooner than miss a shot.  Now go!"

Dick crept off, his father giving him a warning word about not losing
his way, but to impress the land-marks upon his memory, so as to
recognise them if he went astray.

As he disappeared down the valley side of the slope, Mr Rogers turned
to Jack.

"Well, my boy, would you like a try as well?"

Jack's whole face, as well as his tongue, said yes, and Mr Rogers
smilingly pointed down into the valley, in the other direction.

"Be careful," he said, "and don't fire either in our direction or in
your brother's, for a rifle-bullet flies far."

"All right, father," cried Jack; and he too crept down the slope from
bush to bush, to try and stalk one of the bok that came nearest to the
clump of wood upon his right.

"So this is the game country?" said Mr Rogers.

"Yes, boss, this the game country, but only bit outside.  I show you big
game yet--elephant, lion, all the big animal, only wait."

Mr Rogers was ready to set self aside in every way in his efforts to
educate his sons, so he took out his glass and sat down beside the
General, watching the various herds of wild animals in the glowing
morning light, and thinking how grateful he ought to be to see his boys
daily growing in health, strength, and confidence.  For it was
unmistakable; Dick, the weak, half-consumptive lad, was altering
rapidly, and the anxious father's heart rejoiced as the dark shadow that
had hovered over his life seemed to be chased away.

As he sat there thinking, and bringing his glass to bear upon the
various herds, while waiting for them to take the alarm, he could not
help feeling that Dick and Jack were managing uncommonly well to have
gone on so long without alarming the game.  It showed thoughtfulness,
and ability in the hunter's craft; not, of course, that he wished them
to turn out hunters, but he believed in thoroughness, and he used to say
that if it was only play it ought to be done well.

He was letting the glass rest upon his knees, with his eyes running
dreamily over the landscape, when he became aware of the fact that the
Zulu was watching him intently, as he sat there with a couple of
assegais across his knees.

"I am sorry I was so unjust to him that night," thought Mr Rogers.  "It
is a pity one's nature prompts one to be so hasty and suspicious."

Then as his eyes met those of the General, as it was fast becoming the
custom to call him, he cudgelled his brains for some way of showing his
confidence in him, who was so completely their guide.

Suddenly a soft smile beamed on the Zulu's fierce countenance, and he
said gently,--

"Boss thinking about his boys.  Fine brave boys; make big warriors and
chiefs.  Zulu wish his boys here too.  Love his boys same as white man."

Mr Rogers stretched out his hand to the Zulu on the instant, for he had
touched the chord of their common humanity, and white man and black man,
as their hands joined in one firm grip, felt that henceforth they would
be friends who could trust each other to the end.

"Look!" cried the Zulu suddenly; and he pointed down into the plain,
where the alarm had been taken in the direction taken by Dick.

Antelopes that had been feeding, suddenly threw up their heads and
galloped together, seeming to form square--first with horns outward to
resist attack; then they reformed, and charged in one direction; halted,
turned, and charged in another--as if alarmed, and yet not knowing which
way to go.

The wildebeestes that had been fighting stopped, erected their tails,
pawed the ground, and then, throwing their heads side-wise, began to
plough it with one horn, but only to snort loudly and tear over the
plain; while the zebras and quaggas began to toss their heads and tear
about over the grassy wild, kicking and plunging, and scattering the
light antelopes like the wind.

Suddenly there was a puff of smoke from a clump of bushes quite a mile
away, and after an interval the faint crack of a rifle.

"That's Dick's gun, General," said Mr Rogers, bringing his glass to
bear upon a little herd of antelopes that must have formed the object of
the shot; but not one of them fell, neither did either of them seem to
be lamed.

"Miss, this time," said the General, quietly.

Just then there was another report, evidently a shot at long range; but
the only effect was to drive the game more in the direction of Jack's
position, or what they supposed to be Jack's position.

Seeing then that Dick was not likely to get another shot, Mr Rogers
turned his glass in the other direction; but there was nothing to see
but the great herds of game, going more and more towards a clump of
timber--trees that were of glorious shades of green in the morning sun.
But, all at once, as a troop of gnus were trotting by, three or four
large birds came rushing out, as if alarmed, and the gnus took fright,
tearing off at a frantic pace.  But before they had gone far there was a
white puff of smoke from the end of the clump.

"Well done!" cried Mr Rogers.  "He did well to get so far.  But it is
another miss.  We must not depend on the boys yet for our dinners."

The whole plain seemed to be now alive, and herd after herd of game,
that had been hidden from them by the trees, had rushed into sight, and
was now careering onward, and away from the dangerous proximity to the
woods.

"Poor boys!  All their trouble for nothing," said Mr Rogers, closing
his glass.  "I wish I had gone too.  I might have hit something."

"Boss Jack has hit," said the Zulu, pointing.

And just then, to the father's great delight, he saw one of the curious
antelopes suddenly stop short, the rest of the herd galloping onwards.
Then it shook its head, turned, and seemed giddily to gallop back, and
finally fell dead.

Almost at the same moment they saw Jack run out from the clump of
timber, gun in one hand, cap in the other, which latter he began to wave
frantically above his head.

"Well done, boy!  A good shot," cried Mr Rogers.  "Ah, there's Dick."

For Dick now showed himself, a mile away to the left, and began to cross
the open to join his brother, whose success he must have seen.

"The next thing is to get the game home," said Mr Rogers.  "We'll go
back, and send Peter and Dirk."

He placed a shrill little whistle to his lips as he spoke, and as its
piercing note rang out, the boys, who had been making for the fallen
gnu, turned to come back.

"I'll go!" said the General.  "Mustn't leave the game.  Look, boss."

He pointed, and in the distance there was a great vulture winging its
way towards the fallen gnu; and, directly after, another and another
came into sight, sailing heavily along upon its great dusky flapping
wings.

It seemed as if telegrams had been sent in all directions to the
vultures' roosting-places that there had been a wildebeeste slain; and
it was so evident that, if steps were not taken to save it, the vultures
would destroy the provisions of three or four days, that Mr Rogers
rapidly blew twice upon his whistle--a preconcerted signal, which made
the boys turn and go towards the game.

As it was, a vulture would have reached the fallen animal before them
but for a shot from Dick's gun, which had the effect of more than
scaring it as it was just alighting, for, evidently hit by the bullet,
it flew a few yards, and then fell, flapping its wings for a few
moments, and then lay still.

This checked the others for the time, and Mr Rogers waited till the
General should set the boys at liberty, when he meant to return to the
waggon.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

GETTING INTO WORK.

It seemed some little time before the Zulu appeared at the bottom of the
slope; but when he emerged from the woods, Mr Rogers could see that he
had been cutting some sticks, and on bringing the glass to bear he made
out that the Zulu was straightening them as he ran.

The boys saw him coming, and waved their caps; while, when the General
joined them, they all bent over the game together, the Zulu apparently
being very busy, and making Mr Rogers impatient, for he wanted to get
back to breakfast, which must then be ready.

"There is some reason for it, I dare say," said Mr Rogers, gazing
through his glass.  "Why, they are all coming away!  The animal will be
devoured.  It is bad, perhaps."

He waited patiently, seeing the little party return; and as they left
the fallen gnu he saw the vultures come dropping down from the trees
where they had been waiting, till there were over twenty by the game,
round which they formed a circle, but they did not approach near.

"Strange!" thought Mr Rogers.  "I wonder they don't tear it up.
Perhaps it is still alive.  If so they ought to have put the poor thing
out of its misery.  I shall speak sharply to Master Dick about such
wanton cruelty."

Mr Rogers wanted his breakfast, and, as he had had no excitement, he
felt cross, so that it seemed as if the boys would get what Jack
irreverently called a wigging.  But the sight of his sons' bright
excited faces as they ran up the slope, drove away his ill-humour.

"Why, Dick!" he cried, "how you run!"

"Do I, father?" cried the boy, excitedly, "But did you see what a
splendid shot Jack made?  I missed twice, but he brought his gnu down.
It's a fine young bull."

"Then you are not jealous of his luck?" said his father.

"Oh, no," laughed Dick.  "It will be my turn next time."

"Bravo, Jack!" cried Mr Rogers.  "But why did you leave the game to the
vultures?  Dick says it was a fine young bull."

"Oh, it's all right, father," cried Jack, who now ran panting up to his
father's side.  "The General has cut it up partly, and has brought the
liver and kidneys, and a bit or two to cook for breakfast."

"But it was a pity to leave so much good meat, my boys; I don't like
wanton waste."

"But it's all right, father," said Dick.  "The General has stuck some
pieces of wood round and over it, and he says the vultures won't go near
it for hours, for fear it should be a trap."

Mr Rogers opened his glass, and looked at the fallen game; and sure
enough there sat the vultures in a ring, contemplating the sticks that
the General had stuck up round it, but not one went near.

The Zulu smiled as he came up, bearing the delicate portions of the gnu
skewered upon one of his assegais; and hurrying back to the camp, Peter
and Dirk were given full directions which way to go, and sent off with
three oxen, and a roughly-contrived carriage for the game formed by
cutting down a great forked branch of a tree to attach to the oxen
yokes.  But when ready for starting they suggested the advisability of
their having guns, which being supplied, they started off, looking
rather longingly though at the preparations for breakfast.

A good fire was burning, and coffee was made, Dinny looking very
disconsolate and miserable; but the sight of the fresh meat seemed to do
him good, for a broad grin expanded his features, and getting the
frying-pan out of the box that held the cooking apparatus, he soon had
some savoury morsels peppered, salted, and sputtering on the fire.

"I feel as if I could eat heaps," said Jack.  "Oh, I say, father, isn't
breakfast lovely out here under these green trees?"

Mr Rogers agreed that it was; and certainly nothing could have been
more glorious than the scene--the deep blue sky, the glorious sunshine,
the bright green of the trees, the chirping, whistling, and screaming of
the birds that thronged the brambles, and above all the delicious
fragrance of the endless flowering shrubs and flowers.

It was all enjoyable in the extreme, the abundant breakfast adding
wonderfully to the pleasure.  Even the oxen and horses seemed perfectly
happy, for there was an abundance of short, sweet grass for them to
crop, while the little Zulu party seemed happiness itself.

A goodly portion of the gnu had been given over to the General, and
despising the frying-pan, he and his boys toasted the pieces of flesh in
the fire, and ate them hissing hot; the effect upon Coffee being that he
did nothing but grin, and rub the portion of his brown person which he
called his "tum-tum," while his brother gave vent to his excitement and
pleasure by either lying down and rolling himself over and over, or else
by trying to stand upon his head, a very agreeable style of acrobatic
trick, but decidedly inconvenient at breakfast-time.

As, however, just when he had arrived at a perfect equilibrium, and had
his heels straight up in the air, he overbalanced himself, and instead
of coming back upon his toes he went over upon his heels, which he
planted in the hot ashes, Chicory thought the performance had gone
sufficiently far, and went on eating his breakfast in what Dinny called
a more Chrishtanly-like way.

Just as they had finished, and Jack had thoroughly recovered from a
violent fit of coughing and choking, consequent upon seeing Chicory
stick his heels in the fire, while he--Jack--was drinking his coffee,
there came from behind them the crack of a whip, and Peter's harsh voice
shouting, "Trek, boys! trek!" accompanied by the rustling, scrambling
noise made by a great branch being drawn over the ground; and directly
after the slow, patient oxen came into sight, chewing away at their
cuds, as they used their tails to whisk away the flies, and dragged
Jack's game into camp.

It proved to be a splendid young gnu, and the boys examined with
curiosity its shaggy head, with its curiously bent down and curved up
horns, and general likeness to horse, antelope, and bull, as if it were
related to each.  Then the Zulu, with Dirk's help, rapidly skinned it;
portions were set apart for immediate use, some of the best cut up in
strips by the General, and hung in the sun upon the bushes to form what
is called "biltong," that is, strips of sun-dried meat, the sun baking
it up so quickly that it has not time to go bad, and the rest was left
for another fate.

For it was most amusing to watch the dogs, sitting all four in a row,
hungrily looking at the skinning and cutting up of the gnu.  They
watched with the most intense interest the whole process, following the
General to and fro, and thankfully swallowing any scraps he threw them.

When the skin was taken off and spread upon the waggon-tilt to dry,
Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus followed, as if to see that it was properly
spread out, Rough'un being the only one who protested against the plan,
for his look plainly said that he wanted to lick that skin on the fleshy
side; and as he was not allowed to go through that process, he kept
uttering low, dissatisfied whines, to Jack's great delight; while, when
he saw Peter climb up, and Dirk hand him the skin, he uttered a yell of
disappointment at what he evidently considered to be the waste of so
much good fat.

This yell from Rough'un had its effects upon Pompey, Caesar, and
Crassus, which triumvirate did not behave at all after the manner of the
stolid, patient, noble Romans whose names they bore; but one and all set
up their noses as high as they could, getting mouth and throat in a
direct line, and sang a trio--but so dolefully out of tune, that Dinny
picked up the General's assegai, and gave each one a tap on the head
with the handle.

At least he meant to do so.  He certainly hit Pompey and Caesar sounding
cracks; but Crassus made a movement, and received his blow on the neck--
so unfair a place, he evidently supposed, that it roused his temper, and
he snapped at and seized the handle of the assegai in his teeth.

Now Dinny's hands were greasy with helping to skin the gnu, and the
handle of the assegai kept slipping through his fingers, and threatening
to cut them against the blade; to avoid which, as the dog tugged
fiercely and dragged at the handle, Dinny kept taking a fresh hold hand
over hand, as if he were hauling rope, abusing the dog at the same time.

"Ah, get out, ye dirty baste," he cried.  "Let go, will ye?"

_Worry_! _worry_! _worry_! growled Crassus, holding on with all his
might of jaw, which was really great; and seeing the successful effort
made by their companion, Pompey and Caesar began to bark and bay at
Dinny on either side of Crassus.

"Oh, here's a game, Dick!" cried Jack, holding his sides and laughing.

"Call 'em off, will ye?" cried Dinny.  "Ah, get out, ye dirty, yelping
bastes."

"Serve you right, for hitting them in that cruel way," said Dick
cynically; while seeing the fun, as they seemed to consider it, Coffee
and Chicory each seized his kiri, and began to perform a war-dance round
Dinny and the dogs.

"Lave go, will ye?" cried Dinny to Crassus.  "Sure it's a taste of the
other end I'll be giving ye dreckerly."

Crassus evidently believed him, for he held on all the tighter.  Dinny
dragged hard, but the dog's jaws had closed upon the wood like a steel
trap, and though Dinny dragged him here and there, he did not leave go;
and so sure as the man began to obtain a little advantage, Pompey and
Caesar made such a desperate attack upon his rear that he immediately
lost ground, and the French and English tug-of-war continued, the dogs
barking, Dinny abusing them, and the boys, black as well as white,
shouting with delight.

This was very good fun for the latter, but anything but pleasant for
Dinny.  In fact, so bad was his case, and so threatening the aspect of
the dogs, that any one who would have insured the legs of Dinny's
trousers from being torn by the dogs, would have been guilty of a very
insane act, especially as Rough'un, after sitting up on end encouraging
Crassus to hold on to the assegai staff by a loud bark now and then,
suddenly took it into his head to join in the fray.

For Dinny had not been particularly friendly to him since they started.
Upon one occasion Dinny had tickled him--so he called it--with Peter's
whip, the tickling consisting in giving the dog so severe a flick that
it seemed like taking out a piece of the flesh; while no later than that
morning Rough'un felt that he had been misused in the matter of the skin
that he wanted to lick.

So, unable to bear matters any longer, Rough'un, who had momentarily
grown more excited, suddenly made an open-mouthed onslaught upon the
assegai stock.

"Carl him off, Masther Dick, Masther Jack.  Oh, murther, what'll I do.
Ah! get out--get--"

Dinny said no more, but loosed his hold of the assegai, and fled,
leaping on to the front box of the waggon, and then climbing in beneath
the tilt, while the dogs chased him, barking and baying him furiously.

This did not last, however, for the denuding of the gnu's bones was
pretty well ended, and one of the oxen dragged the remains into the
forest, when the dogs were called up, and Dinny was forgotten.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

A BUFFALO RUN.

The General owned that there would be good hunting here, but he wanted
to get the party well into the interior, where, taking up a central
position, they could make excursions in any direction according to the
way in which the game lay.  If they stayed where they were, all they
would do would be to drive the game away, and it would grow more scarce.

The boys were as eager as the General, and looking upon the interior as
a land of mystery and romance, they readily backed up the proposal to go
farther.

"Well, my boys, I hardly know what to say," replied Mr Rogers.  "I want
for you both to grow sturdy, manly, and inured to danger; but I scarcely
like running the risk of taking you where we may be constantly
encountering the lion, the rhinoceros, and the elephant and
hippopotamus."

"But we shall be very careful," said Jack.

"And we are growing better marksmen every day, father," exclaimed Dick.

"Yes, my boys, I dare say you are," replied Mr Rogers.  "But please
remember that taking aim at and shooting a timid deer is one thing;
standing face to face with some fierce beast ready to take your life,
quite another."

"Oh, yes, father, I know that," said Jack; "and I dare say I should be
horribly frightened, but I wouldn't run away."

"It might be wiser to do so than to provoke the animal by firing," said
Mr Rogers, smiling.  "What do you say, Dick?"

"I say I should like to go on, father, in spite of the risk," replied
Dick.  "Now we have come so far, I want to see more of the wonderful
Central African land, and I should like to shoot a lion, an elephant, a
rhinoceros, and a hippopotamus."

"And a giraffe, a crocodile, and a boa-constrictor," said Jack.

"And would you both like to make that bag in one day, young gentlemen?"
said Mr Rogers, smiling.

"Ah, now you are laughing at us, father," said Dick.  "Of course we
don't expect to shoot all those creatures, but we should like to try."

"Yes," added Jack; "that's it, Dick.  We should like to try."

"Then you shall try," said Mr Rogers, quietly; "on condition, mind,
that you will neither of you do anything rash, but follow out either my
advice or that of the General, whom I feel disposed to trust more and
more."

The country seemed to grow more romantic and grand the farther they
trekked on away from civilisation, and they travelled now very few
hundred yards without seeing something new and full of interest.  Game
was so abundant that there was no difficulty in keeping up a plentiful
supply.  Dinny even threatened to lose the frying-pan, for, as he said,
he was frying steak morning, noon, and night; but as he loved dearly to
fry one particularly juicy piece always for a gentleman named Dinny,
there was not much fear of his keeping his word.

But somehow Dinny did not add to the harmony of the expedition.  He
proved himself again and again to be an arrant coward; and, coward-like,
he tried to tyrannise over the weaker.

He was afraid of the General; and when, upon one or two occasions, he
had quarrelled with Peter or Dirk, those gentlemen had displayed so much
pugnacity that Dinny had prudently resolved to quarrel with them no
more.  He, however, made up for this by pouring out his virulence upon
Coffee and Chicory, the dogs having been too much for him; and the Zulu
boys bore it all in silence, but evidently meant to remember Dinny's
behaviour when the time came.

One day, soon after entering the game country, the General, who was on
ahead alternately scanning the horizon and the ground, while the oxen
slowly lumbered on behind, suddenly stopped, and began to examine some
footprints in a marshy piece of ground which he had just told Dick to
avoid.

"What is it?" said Dick, coming up.

"Look," said the General, pointing to the great footprints.

"Why, it looks as if a great cat had been here," said Dick.

"Yes; great cat; lion!" said the Zulu.

And when Mr Rogers and Jack had cantered up, and seen the spoor, as
such footprints were generally termed in South Africa, they knew that
there would be real danger now hovering about their nightly camps.

That afternoon, as they were passing through a woody portion of the
country, Chicory, who was well ahead, assegai in hand, eagerly looking
out for game, was heard suddenly to yell out as if in agony; and as all
ran to his help, he was found to be rolling on the ground, shrieking the
native word for "Snake! snake!"

Mr Rogers was the first to reach him, being mounted, and as he drew
rein by the prostrate boy, he saw a long thin snake gliding away.

He was just in time, and leaning forward he took rapid aim with his
fowling-piece; and as the smoke rose, a long thin ash-coloured snake was
seen writhing, mortally wounded, upon the ground.

The General caught the boy by the shoulder, and proceeded to divide his
jet-black hair, examining his scalp carefully, but without finding any
trace of a wound; though Chicory declared that he was killed, and that
the snake had seized him by the head as he was going under a tree.

He had felt it, and when he threw himself forward to avoid it, the
creature writhed and twisted about his neck, till in his horror he
rolled over and over, partly crushing the reptile, which was making its
escape when Mr Rogers's gun put an end to its power of doing mischief.

The General having satisfied himself that his boy was not hurt, sent him
forward with a cuff on the ear, before giving his master a grateful look
for destroying a virulently poisonous serpent--one, he assured them,
whose regular practice was to hang suspended by the tail from some low
branch, and in this position to strike at any living creature that
passed beneath.

"He would have been dead now," said the General, "if the snake's teeth
had gone through his hair."

It was with no little satisfaction then, after this adventure, that the
hunting-party passed through the woody region they were then in, and
came into the open, for during the last few hours everybody's eyes had
been diligently directed at the overhanging branches of the trees, Dinny
being so observant that he two or three times tripped over prostrate
boughs, and went down upon his nose.

As they passed out into the open they were in a rough plain, covered as
far as they could see with coarse herbage; and hardly had the waggon
emerged before Mr Rogers, who was using his glass, drew the General's
attention to some dark objects upon a slope some distance ahead.

The Zulu glanced at the dark shapes for a few moments, and then cried
eagerly,--

"Buffalo!"

"Come along, Dick," shouted Jack.

"Stop, stop!" exclaimed their father.  "What are you going to do?"

"Shoot a buffalo, father."

"If we can," added Dick.

"But you must be careful.  These buffalo are pretty fierce creatures,
and dangerous at times."

"Yes, very dangerous," assented the Zulu.  "Boss Jack--Boss Dick shoot
one, and the boys drive one to him."

The General undertaking to do his best to keep his sons out of danger,
Mr Rogers consented to let them go; and soon afterwards, having made
his plans, the General started off with his boys, pointing out a course
for Jack and Dick to take upon their cobs, advising them both to fire at
the same buffalo as it galloped past them, and then to keep hidden till
the herd had gone by.

This they undertook to do; and away they cantered in one direction, the
General and his boys going in another, so as to get ahead of the herd,
and then show themselves, and that, they expected, would drive them
towards the young hunters.

All turned out exactly as anticipated.  Dick and Jack sat like statues,
in a low hollow, with rifles cocked, and cartridges handy for a second
shot, waiting for the coming of the herd; and at last, just as they had
given up all expectation of seeing them, there was a low rushing sound
in the distance as of wind--then a roar, ever increasing, until it was
like thunder; and then down came the vast herd of heavy animals,
surprising the boys at first by their number, so that they had nearly
all gone by before either of the brothers thought of firing.

Dick was the first to rouse himself from his surprise.

"Now then, Jack," he cried, as their horses stood motionless, watching
the passing drove; "fire at that slate-coloured bull.  Now then, take
aim together--fire!"

The two rifle-shots pealed almost like one, and, to the delight of the
boys, they saw the young bull they had shot stagger forward on to its
knees, and then roll over upon its side.

"Hurray!  First buffalo!" cried Jack; and together the boys cantered out
into the plain, when, to their intense astonishment, instead of the herd
continuing its flight, about a dozen bulls stopped short, stared at
them, pawed the ground, stuck up their tails, wheeled round, uttered a
fierce roar, and charged.

Even if the boys had felt disposed to meet their enemies with a couple
more shots, the cobs would not have stood still.  They were well-broken,
and trusty; day by day they had seemed to gain confidence in their
riders, and they would stand perfectly still if their bridles were drawn
over their heads and allowed to trail upon the ground; while if Jack or
Dick liked to make a rifle-rest of their backs, they were perfectly
content, and stood as rigidly as if carved out of stone.

But there are bounds even to the confidence of a horse.  When the little
steeds saw the fierce looks of the buffaloes, heard their angry
bellowings, and found that with waving tails, menacing horns, and hoofs
that seemed to thunder as they tore up the ground, the bulls were coming
nearer and nearer, and evidently with the full intent of burying those
sharp horns in their chests, Shoes and Stockings snorted violently,
turned round so suddenly that had not Jack and Dick been excellent
horsemen they would have been thrown, and tore away over the plain.

This was a reverse of circumstances; and naturally feeling startled at
such a change, their boys gave their horses their heads, sat well down,
and kept giving furtive glances behind to see if the bulls were gaining
upon them.

At the end of a few moments, though, it occurred to Dick that their
speed was greater than that of the buffaloes, and consequently that they
would have no difficulty, failing accidents, in galloping away.  Then he
began to think of his rifle and ammunition, but felt that under the
circumstances fire-arms were useless.

Last of all he began to feel very much ashamed of his position, in being
hunted like this.

The same feeling seemed to have affected Jack, who looked at his brother
as they raced on side by side.

The consequence was that all of a sudden they both sat up more erect in
their saddles, and took a pull at the reins, bringing Shoes and
Stockings by degrees into a hand gallop, instead of the _ventre a terre_
progress they were making before.

"This won't do," cried Dick, as he glanced back to find that the bulls
were still lumbering on behind them, snorting savagely, and shaking
their horn-armed fronts.

"No," said Jack, "we are taking them right down on the waggon, and
they'll charge straight over the camp."

"Yes; let's turn off to the left," shouted Dick; and as if by one
impulse they wheeled round to the left, and galloped on over the plain.
"I tell you what," he cried, as a happy idea struck him; "let's wheel
round to the right now."

"What for?" shouted back his brother.

"So as to ride round and round the waggon in a circle.  Father will
bring one or two of them down."

For answer Jack wheeled to the right, and if the manoeuvre had been kept
up it would have answered; but, as it happened, Mr Rogers had gone away
from the waggon in search of some beautifully plumaged birds which had
settled in the trees above the camp, and then gone on to a grove a mile
or so away.

The General and his boys were of course far away out on the plain, where
they had been driving the buffalo, and therefore Dinny was the principal
man in camp.

He was busy with the frying-pan frizzling himself a venison steak, when,
hearing the thunder of hoofs, he dropped the pan in the wood ashes, and
stood staring with horror.

"What'll I do now?" he cried.

Then a bright idea seized him, and pulling his knife from his belt, he
dashed at the place where his enemies the dogs were tied up by stout
thongs to the waggon-wheels, and divided them one by one.

"There, ye bastes," he cried, "be off and get tossed."  And as the dogs
rushed off, delighted with their freedom, Dinny chose what he thought
was the safest place in the camp, namely, the space between the four
wheels beneath the waggon, and there lay down and wished himself back
safely in his mother's cabin.

The dogs had been for some moments past tearing at their thongs to get
away, so that no sooner were they freed than, barking and baying
fiercely, they raced down after the buffaloes, and Dinny never did a
better act in his life.  Certainly it was prompted by cowardice; but it
had its good fruits, for it was the saving of poor Dick's life.

The boys had galloped on as had been suggested, gradually inclining to
the right, so that they drew the little herd of bulls into following
them in a circle; and in this way they had nearly gone round the waggon
at about a couple of hundred yards' distance, wondering why their father
did not shoot, when, all at once, just as the baying of the dogs reached
their ears, Dick turned a piteous look at his brother.

"I'm--I'm not strong, yet, Jack," he faltered.  "Ride on fast."

To Jack's horror he saw his brother's eyes close, and that he fell
forward upon his horse's neck; the next moment he had glided as it were
out of his saddle, and fallen--his horse, from its good training,
stopping short by his side.

The buffaloes were only about thirty yards behind, and as Jack reined
in, and turned to help his brother, the bulls lowered, their horns, and
in another moment or two they would have been trampled and gored,
perhaps killed; but just as the great shaggy animals were upon them, the
dogs made their attack, Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus each seizing a bull
by the lip, while Rough'un kept up a furious barking as he tore at the
various animals' heels.

The effect was magical upon the buffaloes, which tossed their heads
furiously in the air, and dislodging their assailants, turned and rushed
off, with the dogs now biting their heels or leaping viciously at their
flanks, all attack now being changed to flight.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

"OOMPH!  OOMPH!  OOMPH!"

"Are you much hurt, Dick?" cried Jack anxiously, as he knelt on one knee
by his brother.

"No, I think not," panted Dick, opening his eyes.  "I came over all
giddy, and couldn't sit my horse.  Did he throw me?"

"No: you fell."

"But where are the buffaloes?"

"Yonder they go," replied Jack.  "Don't you hear the dogs?  There, lean
on me, and let's walk in to the camp."

"Oh, no," cried Dick.  "I'm better now."

"No, no; don't try to mount."

"Yes, I shall," was the reply.  "I was overdone from being weak; but I'm
better now, and I'm going with you to bring in the buffalo we shot."

"Oh no, Dick, don't try," cried his brother anxiously.

But Dick would not be persuaded, and, mounting his horse, he rode with
his brother up to the waggon, gave the necessary instructions to Peter
and Dirk, and in a few moments those sable gentlemen were leading a
small ox-team over the plain to where the General and his boys were
busily dressing the fallen bull; and by the time Mr Rogers reached the
waggon, the choicest parts of the buffalo were there, the remainder
having been left for the vultures and wild creatures of the plain.

They trekked on for some miles that evening, and soon after sundown
halted by the side of a wood, whose edges were composed of dense thorns,
and here, at the General's suggestion, all set to work, after the waggon
had been drawn up in a suitable position, to cut down the bushes so as
to make a square patch, with the dense thorns on three sides and the
waggon on the fourth, the lower part of the waggon being fortified with
the bushes that were cut down.

The object was to form a sound enclosure, which was duly strengthened,
so as to protect the horses and bullocks from the wild beasts that
haunted the neighbourhood.

It was very hard work, and Dinny grumbled terribly, till Dick said
quietly to his brother, in Dinny's hearing,--

"I wonder that Dinny don't work harder.  The General says this part
swarms with lions; and they'll be down upon us before we've done if he
don't make haste."

Dinny seemed to be turned for the moment into stone, at the bare mention
of the word lion; but directly after he was toiling away with feverish
haste, and in quite a state of excitement, bullying Coffee and Chicory
for not bringing in more dead wood for the fire.

By dint of all working hard, however, a satisfactory place was
contrived, into which, after a good long feed, and a hearty drink of
fresh water from a bubbling stream, the bullocks and horses were shut,
the horses having a division of their own, where they would be safe from
the horns of their friends as well as the teeth and claws of their
enemies.  Then the blazing fire in front of the waggon was utilised for
cooking purposes, and buffalo steaks and thick rich soup from Dinny's
big pot soon restored the losses felt by the little party in their
arduous evening toil.

The waggon was on the very edge of the forest, and a couple of trees
stood out on either side, spreading their branches over it as shelter,
while the ruddy fire that was being steadily fed to get it into a good
glow, with a bright blaze free from the blinding smoke emitted by
burning wood, seemed to turn the waggon and trees into gold.

"I'll take the first watch, my boys," said Mr Rogers, who, after their
hearty supper, had read his sons a lecture about the necessity for care
in hunting, "for," said he, "but for the dogs your lives would certainly
have been sacrificed."

"Yes, father, we'll be more careful; but how is it the dogs have not
come back?"

"They overtook and pulled down one of the buffaloes," said Mr Rogers.
"They will glut themselves, and, after a long sleep, take up our trail
and follow us.  I dare say they'll be here to-morrow."

The boys, who were fagged out, gladly crept into the waggon, the last
thing they saw being Dinny putting some pieces of buffalo flesh and half
a pail of water in the big pot, so as to let it stew by the fire all
night.  Then they drew up the canvas curtains of their tent-bed as they
called it, leaving Mr Rogers and Peter to keep up the fire, and to call
them in four hours' time, the boys having begged that they might keep
one of the watches together.

They were fast asleep directly, and in five minutes' time--so Jack
declared--Mr Rogers aroused them to relieve guard.

"Come, boys," he said, "be quick.  Do you know how long you've been
asleep?"

"Five minutes," said Jack, sleepily.

"Nearly five hours, sir."

"Then they weren't good measure," grumbled Jack.

"There's plenty of wood, Dick," said Mr Rogers, "and I'd keep up a good
blazing fire.  I have not heard a sound; but if you are alarmed, a piece
of blazing wood thrown in the direction is better than firing at random;
but keep your rifles ready."

These words drove drowsy sleep from the boys' eyelids, and clambering
out of the waggon, the fresh cold night air finished the task.

They saw Mr Rogers climb into the waggon and their black followers
crawl under it; then taking the rifles, they saw to there being a ball
cartridge in each, and big slugs in the shot barrel; and after throwing
on a few sticks to make the fire blaze, they walked slowly up and down.

"How dark and strange the forest looks, Jack," said Dick, "I say, I'm
not ashamed to say that it does make one feel timid."

"It makes two feel timid," said Jack, sturdily.  "Look at the dark
shadows the fire throws.  Why it almost looks as if there were all sorts
of horrible creatures watching us.  If I didn't feel that father had
been sitting here watching, and wasn't afraid I'd give it up."

"Perhaps he did feel afraid," said Dick.

"Not he," said Jack sturdily.  "If he had felt afraid, he wouldn't have
let us watch here."

"Oh, yes, he would," said Dick thoughtfully.  "Father wants us to grow
up manly and strong, and ready to laugh at what would alarm some lads.
Hark! what's that?"

He caught his brother's arm, for just then, apparently from beneath
their feet, they heard a peculiar noise.

"Oomph! oomph! oomph!" a peculiar, vibrating, shuddering, deep-toned
cry, which seemed to make the air, and the very earth beneath them,
vibrate.

There was no mistaking it.  Over and over again they had heard Coffee
and Chicory imitate the cry; but how pitiful their attempts seemed now,
as compared to the noise heard there in the solemnity of the silent
night!  "Oomph! oomph! oomph!" a peculiar grunting, shuddering roar,
which made a perfect commotion in the strongly-made cattle-kraal or
enclosure, the oxen running about in their dread, and the horses
whinnying and stamping upon the hard ground.

"How close is it!" whispered Jack, stretching out his hand to get hold
of his rifle.

"I don't know.  It seems sometimes just by this patch of bushes, and
sometimes ever so far away.  Hark! there's another."

"Yes, and another."

"Or is it all made by one lion?" said Dick.

"I don't know," replied Jack, in an awe-stricken whisper.

"Shall we call father, and tell him there are lions about?"

"No," said Dick sturdily.  "He'd laugh at us for cowards.  We've got to
get used to lions, Jack; and it's our own doing--we wanted to come."

"Yes, but I didn't know they'd come so close," replied Jack.  "Hark at
that!"

There was a deep-toned quivering roar, apparently from the other side of
the fire, and Dick felt his heart beat rapidly as he threw a handful of
small twigs upon the fire to make it blaze up.

"Let's go and talk to the horses," he said.  "Yes; that's right," for
Jack had also added an armful of dry wood to the fire, which now blazed
up merrily.

They went to the thorny hedge which protected the horses, and on making
their way through to where they were haltered to a pole, carried on the
waggon for the purpose, they found the poor creatures trembling, and
with dripping flanks, while when they spoke to them they rubbed their
noses against their masters' hands, and whinnied with pleasure, as if
comforted by the presence of the boys.

"What's that, Dick?" cried Jack excitedly, for there was a crashing
noise as if something had leaped at the hedge.

The answer came in the panic of the bullocks and the dread of the
horses; and, without hesitating, Jack lowered his piece in the direction
of the sound, to fire both barrels rapidly one after the other.

There was a savage roar for response, and a rush as of some creature
bounding through the bushes.  Then all was silent.

"I wonder whether I hit him," said Jack, proceeding to throw out the
empty cartridges and reload.

"Is anything wrong?  Shall I come?" shouted Mr Rogers, from within the
waggon.

"No, father," replied Dick steadily.  "You needn't come.  We only fired
at a lion."

But as they reached the fire again, a tall dark figure crawled to their
side, and nodded to them gravely.

"Plenty of lion here.  I stop and help you."

It was the General, and glad enough the boys were of his company.

Almost before they had seated themselves they heard a sound on the
right, and taking a burning stick from the fire the General whirled it
in the direction, the wood blazing up in its rapid passage through the
air, and falling amongst some dry grass, which it set on fire, to burn
for a few moments vividly, and then leave the surroundings apparently
darker than before.

As the burning brand fell in the forest there was an angry snarl, and
these snarls were repeated again and again as from time to time the
General skilfully threw the wood wherever his quick ears told him there
was one of the lurking beasts.

"Is there more than one lion?" said Dick, in a whisper at last.

"Three, four, five," said the General.  "They want horse or bullock.
Hist! look! see!"

He pointed to a dark patch at the edge of the forest, where, upon Dick
directing his eyes, he could see nothing; but the next moment there was
the reflection of the fire to be seen in a couple of glaring orbs.

"Can you shoot him?" said the General.

"Let me by, Dick.  My hand's steady," whispered Jack.  "I think I could
hit him."

"Go on," was the whispered reply.

To fire it was necessary for Jack to take aim across the Zulu, who
leaned forward so that the barrel of Jack's rifle rested upon his
shoulders; while, kneeling, the boy took along and careful aim, right
between the two glowing orbs, and drew trigger.  There was the sharp
report, a furious roar, a rush, the falling of some heavy body, and the
scattering of the fire-brands.  Then all was silent; and they rapidly
collected the scattered embers to make the fire blaze up again; for the
lions, far from being scared by the noise of the shot, renewed their
awe-inspiring "Oomph! oomph!" on all sides; and the fear of the cattle
was such that they threatened to break out of the kraal.

Again Mr Rogers roused himself, and asked if there was any need for him
to come.  But Dick replied steadily that there was not--feeling as he
did pretty confident, in spite of his dread, that they could keep the
lions at bay.

The fire blazed up so brightly, that the boys glanced anxiously at the
supply of wood, thinking of the hours they had yet to pass before
daylight, and what would be the consequences if the fire went out.

One thing was very certain, and that was that a large fire would be
necessary now every night.  And though the boys felt a strange kind of
tremor as they felt the risks they were incurring, there was so much
romantic excitement in the life they were leading, that they would not
have given it up on any consideration.

The lions roared and prowled about them during the remainder of the
night, sometimes coming very close, sometimes retreating, for the fire
was very bright.  And then came the two boys, Coffee and Chicory, with
Peter the driver, to relieve them, just as day was breaking, and the
young travellers gladly went back into the waggon for a sleep.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

TRACKED BY AN ENEMY.

They did not have a long sleep, for Mr Rogers soon roused them to say
that breakfast was ready; which meal being discussed, the oxen were
in-spanned, and the horses mounted, so as to have a good long trek
towards the Limpopo, or Crocodile River, before the heat of the day.

Before leaving their camp the boys had a good look round with the
General, in the expectation and hope of seeing the lion at which Jack
had shot, lying dead.  But though he felt certain that he had hit the
monster, and though footprints were about in all directions, there was
no dead lion, and they had to hope for better luck the next time.

"I don't care," said Jack discontentedly; "I'm as sure as can be that
this gun don't shoot straight."

"Try again, Jack," said his father, laughing.

And on they walked, over what was now a plain covered with great coarse,
reedy grass, such as would afford plenty of cover for game.

This, however, was scarce, and beyond the boys knocking down three or
four large birds of the partridge kind, there was very little done.

The General, for some reason which he did not explain, had taken his
great Zulu shield from where it hung behind one of the waggon-wheels,
and, armed with a couple of assegais, kept making expeditions to right
and left--and quite as often hung back, watchfully keeping an eye to the
rear.

It was a case of man's cunning against that of a beast; and after being
away some hours, he came up with the not very pleasant information that
a huge lion, one of the ferocious maneless kind, was tracking the
waggon, and would no doubt hang upon their trail until it had pounced
upon one of the horses, and carried it off.

"Oh, that would be horrible," cried Jack.  "I'd almost sooner that he
would take me than my horse."

"Have you seen it, General?" said Dick; "or do you think it is following
us, from its footprints?"

"I have seen it," said the General gravely.  "I felt sure from some
footmarks I had seen that some great beast was following us--one of
those that scented the horses last night.  Once or twice I thought the
steps might be those of some lion that had passed this way; but, after
watching, I found them so often that at last I lay down amongst the long
grass, covered myself with my shield, and waited.  It was very, very
long, and nothing came, and I thought again that I was mistaken; but I
knew that if it was a lion, tracking down the horses and bullocks, he
would come close between the wheel marks of the waggon, and there slay."

"And did you mean to kill him, General?" said Dick eagerly.

"One man cannot kill a lion with an assegai, Boss Dick," said the Zulu,
"and live afterwards and hunt with his friends.  It takes the little
bullet from a gun to kill a lion well, for you can stand and shoot
farther off than a lion can spring.  No, I only wanted to know and be
sure; and if I was sure I said, Boss Dick or Boss Jack will shoot him.
So I waited till I thought he would not come, and then I was going to
follow the waggon, when I heard something come steal--steal--steal
along; and when at last I looked from under my shield, there he stood
amongst the grass, close to me, watching the waggon.  If I had stood up
I could have speared him; but I was lying down, and if I had tried to
get up he would have sprung upon me, the great thing; so I held the
shield more over me, like an animal with a shell, and crept a little way
on to meet him, and then made a jump at him, and he roared and dashed
away."

"But why didn't he seize you?" said Jack.

"He did not see I was a man, and he did not understand what the long
thing with black legs was that jumped at him; and a lion is big and
strong, but he is a coward about what he does not understand."

"And have you frightened him right away?" asked Dick.  "Fancy
frightening away a lion!"

"No," said the Zulu; "only a little way.  He is following the waggon
now, crawling softly through the grass; and I am sure it is the one Boss
Jack has shot last night, for there was a mark and blood upon his
forehead.  It is a great lion, with no mane; and he is savage and wild,
and will follow the waggon always till he is killed.  We must kill that
lion soon."

"An' is he following us up, Muster Gineral?" said Dinny, who had heard
some of the last words.

The Zulu nodded; and Dinny looked from one to the other with such a look
of hopeless dread in his countenance, that even Mr Rogers could not
forbear to smile.

"Sure it's the onsafest place I iver came noigh, sor; and it's not
meself that will stir away from the front of the waggon till that great
baste is killed."

The General's account of his proceedings, and his conversation as a
rule, was not in the plainest of English, so it is more convenient to
give it in ordinary colloquial form; but he was very earnest, and tried
hard to make himself understood.

When Mr Rogers consulted him as to the best means of getting rid of so
unpleasant a follower, the Zulu said that the only way would be to ride
on in front of the waggon, and then suddenly strike off to right or
left, form a wide curve, and ride inward so as to strike the track of
the waggon quite a mile behind.

By this means, the General said, they would probably get a shot at the
monster as he was crawling furtively after the horses, and probably
bring it down.

"It is a risk," said Mr Rogers thoughtfully; "but it will be impossible
for us to go on with an enemy like that always in our wake."

"When do you think he will try to attack us, General?" said Dick.

"When the sun has gone down, Boss, and the horses and oxen are having
their evening feed."

"And he might take my beautiful Shoes," said Dick.

"Or my lovely old Stockings," cried Jack, quite unconscious of how
absurd his words sounded.

"We shall have to follow out the Zulu's plan, my boys," said Mr Rogers;
"and the sooner we try the better."

The midday halt was called by a beautifully transparent pool of water,
where some richly succulent grass awaited the cattle, and which for some
hours they cropped, the heat being intense, and any object exposed to
the full power of the sun soon becoming hot enough to burn the hand.

Hot as it was, Dinny, being assured that the lion was not likely to
attack in open daylight, lit a roaring fire, and soon had the pot
simmering with its rich thick meat gravy, a basin round of which, and a
portion of a cake made and baked upon an iron plate brought for the
purpose, formed their dinner.

Then there was a siesta, and at last, the most fiery hours being gone
by, broad-brimmed straw hats were taken from the waggon--for it was
still intensely hot--and the Zulu undertaking to lead the team on
between two mountains through which the broad valley ran, the horses
were saddled, rifles taken, and father and sons mounted to go on what
might prove to be a very dangerous adventure.

The first thing done was to carefully take in the bearings of the
country, and then, after a few words of advice from the General--whom
Mr Rogers would have liked to have, only his presence was necessary
with the waggon, he being the most trustworthy of their followers--they
rode on at a brisk canter through the crisp long grass, and amongst the
bushes, and always onward towards the head of the valley, where,
towering up, stood the twin mountains, which were like the ends of a
couple of ridges or chains.

Scrupulously following out the General's advice, they struck off to the
left, and taking quite a two-mile circuit, they saw the waggon crawling
along in the distance, while they cantered on, feeling wonderfully free
and light in spite of the heat, till they were a long distance behind
the waggon, when they halted and carefully swept the surface of the
country.

"Nothing in sight," said Mr Rogers.

"I hope we shan't have our trip for nothing, father," replied Dick.

"Are you eager to meet with the lion, then?" said his father, smiling.

"I don't know, father; but I should like to shoot him," replied Dick
quietly.

"Well, my boys, I hope we shall shoot the animal; and as we are now a
couple of miles at least behind the waggon, if he is following it he
should be before us now, so come along."

Rifles were cocked, and every eye carefully scrutinised the dry
drabby-yellow grass through which the lion would be stealing its way,
and so much like the withered stems in colour that, unless moving, it
was quite possible to miss seeing such a creature as they rode along.

The plan arranged was, that no sooner was the lion sighted than they
were all to dismount, and fire as opportunity occurred, loading again as
rapidly as possible for a second shot.

But though they followed steadily on in the waggon track, riding all
three abreast, and scanning every clump and bush, they had approached
the bend of the valley without seeing anything but a few bok, which
offered tempting marks now that they did not want to shoot.

The waggon had evidently passed through the opening, for it was quite
out of sight, and the sinking sun was casting long shadows.  So at last
Mr Rogers grew impatient and spoke out,--

"We had better ride on, my boys, and catch the waggon.  I want to halt
early and form a good stout fence for our protection.  We shall see
no--"

"Lion!" said Dick sharply.  "Dismount."

He threw himself from his horse on the instant, and stood ready to fire,
his father and brother imitating his example.

"Where?" said Mr Rogers quietly.  "I see nothing, Dick."

"There," replied Dick, "fifty yards away, stealing through those thick
sedgy grasses.  Don't you see?"

"Yes," said his father, "I see the monster now.  Keep cool, boys, and
make your shots tell.  If he is wounded and charges, you must stand firm
and fire again."

Mr Rogers waited a few moments, during which the lion, a monstrous
yellow, maneless fellow, was half-crawling, half-creeping, through the
long sedgy grass; and at last he showed so plainly that Mr Rogers took
careful aim, fired, and evidently hit, for the lion uttered a furious
roar, and made a tremendous bound to escape, with the result that Dick's
cob started, and threatened to dash off; but a few words from its master
calmed it; and taking advantage of the good view he had of the lion,
Dick now fired, a shot from Jack's rifle following directly after.  But,
so far from the monster being crippled, it ceased its efforts to escape,
and turning, took a few steps forward, crouched like a cat, and then
bounded at Jack.

"Stand firm and fire!" cried Mr Rogers.

Jack obeyed, and as he fired the lion was in the air launching itself at
him, but falling short, rolling over upon its side, and beginning to
tear and gnaw at the dry grass in its death agony.

Mr Rogers approached, but drew back in favour of Dick.

"Go and give it the _coup de grace_, my boy," he said.  "You may as well
have the honour of killing the monster, for a monster it is."

Dick had replaced his empty cartridge with a full one, and was
approaching boldly to fire the necessary shot, when, to his horror and
astonishment, the lion rose, crouched, and showed its glistening teeth.
But in spite of the terror that seized him he stood firm, took careful
aim, fired, and with a savage roar, the lion rolled over, dead.

It was indeed a monster, and its glistening fangs were very long, while
upon examination there was the mark of Jack's last night's bullet, which
had ploughed up the skin between the creature's ears, though the wound
was now half dry.

The shots brought the Zulu into sight with his boys, for the waggon was
halting at a pleasant spring at the foot of one of the mountains not a
mile away, for here were wood and a good place for forming a kraal.

The General and his sons raced down, and the boys danced round the lion
and called it names.  But there was no time to lose, and it was
impossible to stop and skin the animal that night, so the General stuck
some branches round it, and then led the way to camp, which was rapidly
formed.  And though they heard lions in the distance, they had a less
disturbed night than the preceding one, greatly to the satisfaction of
all, especially Dinny, who declared that it was a blessing that the lion
was killed, for now they would be at peace.

But Dinny was wrong, for there were other lions in the land.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

GOOD PRACTICE FOR GUNNERS.

The day had hardly broken before Coffee and Chicory were shouting at the
opening of the waggon for Boss Dick and Boss Jack to "come and 'kin a
lion."

They wanted but little rousing up, and after a good souse in the pure
cool spring, that ran bubbling over and amongst some rocks with
delicious-looking broad-fronded ferns drooping gracefully over, they
went and rubbed their horses' muzzles, patted their arched necks, and
gave each a taste of sugar--for which Shoes and Stockings regularly
looked now, and would follow their masters like dogs to obtain--they
shouldered their rifles, and followed the General to the place where the
lion lay.

Rested and refreshed, everything around looked lovely, for they were at
the head of a very fertile valley, where flowers bloomed in profusion,
and the springs that rose in the sides of the mountains sent down
moisture enough to keep miles of the country round of a perpetual green.

"Plenty game here," said Chicory, pointing to a bare, muddy spot by a
water-hole.

The General turned aside, and stooped down to look at the hundreds of
footprints in the soft mud.

"Koodoo," he said, "eland, buffalo, bok, wildebeeste, quagga, zebra,
lion," and he pointed out in turn the spoor, or footprints, of the
various beasts he named.  "Yes, plenty of game here."

As they went on, the boys noticed the abundance of the pretty little
whidah bird, a lovely little creature, about the size of a lark, but
with a tail of such enormous length that in a breeze the power of the
wind upon the tail drives the bird to take flight into shelter, so that
it shall not be blown away.  Pigeons in abundance flew over their heads,
and parrots of such gaudy colours that Dick felt obliged to shoot three
or four as specimens, to skin and add to their collection.

But the lion pretty well filled the thoughts of all, and Jack was
intensely eager to see the monster that he took to himself the credit of
having shot.

As they drew near the place where the adventure of the previous night
had taken place, the verdure began to give place to brown, parched-up
sedgy grass, and the boys could not help noticing how much it seemed to
harmonise with the skin of the beast of prey they had slain.

As they drew nearer there was no difficulty in finding the spot, for a
party of great, dusky, bare-necked vultures were sitting about, gazing
hungrily at the dead beast, but afraid to approach on account of the
sticks and branches stuck about to imitate a trap.

They were so near now that they could make out the shape of the lion
amongst the dry grass, when, apparently always upon his guard, the
General suddenly presented the point of his assegai.  Coffee and Chicory
said nothing, but they did the same; and Dick and Jack, fully under the
impression that the lion had come back to life, cocked their rifles and
stood ready to fire.

Just then there was a low muttering growl, a moving of the long grass as
if something was passing through, and a smooth-coated lion bounded into
sight, gazing at them menacingly, and lashing its sides with its tail.

Wisely or no, the boys' rifles were at their shoulders on the instant,
and they fired together as Coffee and Chicory threw their spears.

There was a tremendous roar, a bound, a crash, and then silence, broken
only by the clicking of the mechanism of the rifles, as the boys rapidly
reloaded them with heavy ball.

As the smoke cleared away the General beckoned Dick and Jack to his
side, and they advanced cautiously through the grass, which they pushed
aside with the assegai and the muzzles of the rifles, till they saw, a
short distance off, the handle of an assegai sticking up.

"There him is," shouted Coffee; "my assegai!"  And he seemed ready to
run forward and get it, but was checked by a sign from his father.

The young hunters raised their rifles to their shoulders, ready to fire
again, at the sight of the lion; but the staff of the assegai did not
even quiver; and, gaining confidence, the General went closer and parted
the grass, for his young companions to fire.

The next moment he had sprung forward, and shouted and waved his spear
above his head; for there, upon its side, lay the lion, quite dead, the
second within twenty-four hours.

"That was your shot, Dick," said Jack.

"No, no: yours," said Dick.

"No; I felt as if I didn't hit it far enough forward," cried Jack.  "But
we'll soon see."

"Ah, yah, yah!  Inyami, Inyami!" shouted Coffee and Chicory; and they
began to kick and bang the dead lion with their kiris, till their father
stopped them, and bade one of them go and fetch Peter or Dinny to come
and help to skin.

As it proved, there was a bullet right in the centre of the second
lion's forehead, and another in the shoulder, which ball Jack claimed,
so that Dick had, as he really deserved, the honour of shooting the
monster, and he gazed with no little pride at its tremendous
proportions.

But big as it was, it was a lioness, and slighter in build than the
tawny monster killed upon the previous evening, to which they now
turned, looking in awe at its huge claw-armed paws, and legs one mass of
muscle.  There was something almost stupendous in the power that seemed
to be condensed in its short thick neck, and broad deep shoulders, for,
being one of the maneless kind every muscle of the neck, throat, and
shoulders could be plainly seen.

"Why, Jack, we should be like rats in the jaws of a cat if he took hold
of us," said Dick.

"More need to practise our shooting.  Dicky, I shall always aim at their
eyes."

"I want to get back and tell father," said Dick.  "Oh, look! here he
comes."

In effect, Mr Rogers, who had heard the firing, was coming on at a fast
run, in dread lest anything should be wrong; but a smile of satisfaction
appeared upon his face as he came up, and heard Dick's joyful cry,
"Father, I've shot a lion."

The skinning of the dangerous monsters was a tough job; but in the
Zulu's skilful hands it seemed comparatively easy, for he knew exactly
where to divide the muscles to make the limbs give way, and how to
thrust the point of his knife through various membranes; so that by
breakfast-time, with the help of Peter, both trophies were removed, and
borne to the camp in triumph.

The place being so lovely, and game being evidently abundant, Mr Rogers
decided to stay where they were for a day or two, especially as the work
of making a kraal of thorns every night became an arduous task and there
was nothing to be gained by hurrying through the wonderful country
without stopping to examine its beauties.

Then, too, the abundance of rich fine grass growing near the rivulets
that came down from the mountains was invaluable for the oxen, which had
begun to look a trifle thinner; and as the good patient beasts worked so
willingly and well, it was a pleasure to see them knee-deep in grass,
placidly munching away at the rich herbage, and in company with the
horses.

So holiday for the animals was proclaimed; Dinny, Peter, and Dirk were
ordered to keep a watchful eye upon the grazing cattle, and Mr Rogers
proposed a short walking, shooting, and natural-history-collecting
expedition.

Of course it was all nonsense, but Dick vowed that Rough'un went and
told what was to be; for the dog, who had been looking at his masters
with bright, intelligent eyes, suddenly jumped upon all fours and barked
twice, after which he trotted off to where Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus
were tied to the wheels of the waggon, put his nose to each, and barked;
and in the place of a patient attack upon tormenting flies and fleas,
the dogs leaped up, strained at their thongs, and barked and bayed
furiously.

"Let them loose, boys," said Mr Rogers, to Coffee and Chicory, who ran
to perform his orders, but found it hard work; for the dogs leaped at
them, twisted the thongs between and round their legs, and upset them
twice; while as soon as they were at liberty they seemed to have
mutually agreed that this was one of the dog-days, and that it was their
duty to go right off mad.

Their antics were wonderful.  First they rushed off as hard as they
could tear, as if going straight back home to Mr Rogers' farm; the next
minute they were back, as if they had forgotten to kill Rough'un first,
for they charged down upon him, rolling him over and over, biting,
worrying, and tumbling upon him in the exuberance of their delight;
while Rough'un retaliated by biting again, and getting such a good grip
with his teeth on Pompey's tail that this sturdy fellow dragged him for
yards before Rough'un let go.

Altogether, for a few minutes there seemed to be what Dick called a
dog-storm, after which they all crouched down, with open mouths,
starting eyes, and quivering tongue, staring at the preparations going
on, and ready to be off.

"Good old dogs!  Old Pomp! old Caesar!  What old Cras!  Hi, Rough'un!"
cried Jack, caressing all the dogs in turn, and patting their heads,
with the effect of making them seize and pretend to worry him, seizing
his legs, jumping up, and showing their delight in a dozen ways.

Then the ammunition had to be obtained, satchels stored with provisions,
Coffee and Chicory carrying a supply for their own and their father's
use; and when the grim-looking old warrior held up a warning finger at
them and said they were not to eat the provisions, they brought a smile
to his lips by running off together and pretending to devour the
contents of the bag.

At last all was ready, and after a few words of warning to Dinny and the
others to be watchful, the little party started, Mr Rogers referring to
a small compass he carried in his pocket, and taking the bearings of the
two mountains, so as to be sure of their return.

For though the General was with them there was always the possibility of
being separated; and missing the way back in the great African wilds may
mean missing one's life.

There was plenty to see.  Flowers grew in abundance in the rich moist
places; fleshy plants abounded in the sterile rocky parts; and in every
shady niche the ferns were glorious.  The trees alone were enough to
satisfy any one with a love of beauty.  Great candelabra-shaped
euphorbias, with wondrous thorns and lovely scarlet blossoms; huge
forest-trees that seemed to have lost their own individuality in the
wreathing clusters of creeping flowering plants they bore.  Everything
was beautiful; and as they walked on in the glowing sunshine, they
seemed to have come to one of the most glorious spots of earth.

They had not proceeded far beside one of the little rivers that came
bubbling down from the mountain they were approaching before Rough'un
began to bark.

_Click_, _click_, went Dick's rifle.

"Look, father, look! a crocodile!" cried Jack.  "I wanted to see a
crocodile."

There was a rush, a splash, and a scurry, and Rough'un came out of the
water, looking about him and staring up at his masters, as if asking
what they had done with the reptile he had chased.

"It was not a crocodile, Jack, but a large water-lizard," said Mr
Rogers.

"Plenty of crocodiles soon," said the General, "big as three of me."

He marked off a space of about twenty feet upon the ground, to show the
length the reptiles of which he spoke, and then roughly marked out their
shape.

"Not here," he said; "over there."  And he pointed to the north.

"Here's another," cried Dick.

And this time it was Pompey and Caesar who had hunted out a reptile,
which hissed, and snapped, and fought vigorously for a few moments when
driven to bay, but its defiance was short lived.

While the engagement went on, the reptile looked dragon-like in aspect,
with its ruffled and inflated throat, serrated back, and writhing tail;
but in a very short time the dogs had obtained the mastery, and the
creature was examined, proving to be a kind of iguana, nearly six feet
in length, a great deal of which, however, was the attenuated tail.

The cracks and rifts in the hot bare stones as they climbed higher
seemed to swarm with lizards of all kinds, ready to dart into their
holes upon the approach of the dogs, while several times over the two
Zulu boys came running back, beckoning to Dick and Jack to go and see
some snake basking, twisted in a knot in some sunny spot.

Upon one of these occasions Jack was so struck by the peculiar swollen,
short appearance of the little serpent that he ran back and hailed his
father, who came up just as Coffee and Chicory were assuring Dick that
if he did what he had proposed to do, namely, taken up the short, thick
serpent, he would never have gone hunting any more.

In fact as soon as Jack had gone the serpent moved slightly, and wishing
his father to see it, and eager to stop its escape, Dick had attempted
to pick it up, when Coffee and Chicory threw themselves upon him, and a
short struggle ensued, which made Dick very angry, and he was very
nearly coming to blows.

"The boys are quite right," said Mr Rogers sharply.  "Dick, you ought
to have known better.  Don't you know what that thick, short serpent
is?"

"No, father," said Dick, in an injured tone.

"Then you ought to know, my boy, for I have described it to you when
talking about the reptiles of this part of the world.  What do you say
it is, Jack?"

"I don't know, father; I'm not sure," replied Jack, glancing at Dick,
and feeling that it would hurt him to profess to greater knowledge than
his brother.

"Nonsense!  I'm sure you do know," said Mr Rogers impatiently.

"Is it the puff-adder, father?" said Dick hesitatingly.

"Of course it is, and you ought to have known the deadly pest.  No, no,
don't waste a charge upon it, and it may alarm any game.  Let one of the
boys kill it."

That was soon done, for Chicory made a sign to his brother, who touched
the puff-adder's tail and began to irritate it, making it turn and
strike viciously at the blade of his assegai.

That was what Chicory wanted.

The next moment his blade whished through the air, and the puff-adder's
head lay upon the ground.

"You cannot be too careful, boys," said Mr Rogers, picking up the flat
spade-shaped head, and opening the jaws with the point of his knife.

"Look, boys," he continued, as he made the jaws gape, and then raised up
a couple of keen transparent fangs that lay back upon the roof of the
creature's mouth.  "Do you see?  There are the hollow fangs through
which a drop of deadly poison is injected in the blood and causes death.
Don't let's destroy life unnecessarily; but if we want food, or come
across any poisonous or dangerous beast, I think it is sentimentality to
refrain from ridding the world of such a pest."

Dick felt very ignorant, and wished he had known better; but he could
not help being pleased at his brother's manner; and the incident was
forgotten the next moment in one of those natural history adventures of
which they had all read, but had little expected to share in their
lives.

As they had climbed higher they had found the mountain more rugged, and
broken up into deep crevices and defiles, all of which were full of
interesting objects--flowers, plants, and foliage--such as they had
never before seen; while in the sheltered and often intense heat,
beetles and butterflies seemed to have found these rifts a perfect
paradise.

Dick had gone on first, and turning a corner he had found quite a rugged
shelf running alone the steep side of a ravine, the bottom of which was
carpeted with flowers that grew amongst the stones.

It was a very interesting spot, but as it seemed to lead right away into
the heart of the mountain he was about to turn back and rejoin his
party, when he caught sight of a gracefully-shaped large-eared gazelle
about fifty yards away, gazing apparently in another direction.

He could have shot it easily, but it seemed so quiet and tame that he
did not raise his piece, though if it had attempted to run, the thought
of the delicious roast it would make would undoubtedly have made him
bring it down.

Besides he wanted all the practice he could get with his rifle, and a
shot at a running antelope or gazelle was not to be missed.

Half wondering why it did not feed, he remained watching it, supposing
that it had heard some of the party lower down; when all at once the
sun's rays seemed to glance off something glistening and bright, and
straining forward to get a better view, Dick became aware of the fact
that a large serpent was twining fold after fold one over another, and
as, half petrified, he watched the reptile, he suddenly saw a monstrous
neck and head reared up in front of the gazelle.

The creature seemed to be all glistening umber brown and dusky yellow,
and its surface shone like burnished tortoiseshell in the glowing sun,
while to the boy's eyes it seemed, from the height to which the swaying
head was raised, that the body, half hidden from him by the herbage,
must be monstrous.

And all the time, fascinated as it were, or more probably paralysed by
fear, the gazelle stood perfectly still, watching the undulations of the
serpent's neck, and calmly awaiting its end.

Dick was so interested that he forgot that he held a rifle and shot-gun
in his hand.  He knew that the serpent was, as it were, playing with its
prey before seizing it, feeling probably, if it thought at all, quite
certain of the trembling creature whenever it felt disposed to strike,
and preparing itself for its banquet by writhing its body into a more
convenient place.

It was a horrible sight, and Dick waited to see the serpent seize the
gazelle, wrap round it and crush its quivering body out of shape, and
then slowly swallow it, till it formed a knot somewhere in the long
tapering form, and go to sleep till it was hungry again.

"Ugh, you beast!" ejaculated Dick; and the sound of his own voice seemed
to break the fascination of interest by which he had been held.

The next instant he was pitying the gazelle, and as he saw the serpent
draw back its head he laid the barrel of his piece against a block of
stone, waited until the quivering head was still and the jaws began to
distend, and then his trembling hand grew firm, and he drew the trigger.

The puff of smoke obscured everything for the moment, and he could not
start forward or he would have gone over the precipice, so he had to
wait till the vapour had passed away, when, to his great disgust, he
could see nothing.

The gazelle and serpent were both gone; so he began to load again,
wishing he could take better aim, when he heard a shout, and Chicory
came running up, followed by Coffee.

"Boss Dick shoot um?  Boss Dick shoot noder lion?" cried Chicory.

"No," said Dick; "it was a miss this time."

"No," cried Coffee; "I see um.  Look, boss, look!"

Mr Rogers and Jack came hurrying up just then, and looking in the
direction pointed out, there was the serpent, writhing and twining in
the most horrible manner down in a narrow rift, out of which it now
glided in a blind purposeless way, writhing, whipping the herbage with
its tail, and tying itself in what seemed to be impossible knots.

"Coffee and Chick go and kill um," said the latter, letting himself down
the face of the precipice, followed by his brother; and, apparently
quite without dread of the monster, they scrambled down over the rough
stones till they came to the serpent, when, watching his opportunity,
Coffee seized its tail and tried to drag it, but the creature seemed to
whip him off, and Coffee uttered a yell as he was driven staggering
back.

"Go down, Dick, and try and give the monster another shot," said Mr
Rogers.  "No, stop; I dare say the boys will finish it."

For just then, evidently enraged at the treatment his brother had
received, Chicory drove his assegai through the serpent, and then again
and again, the creature's struggles being blind of purpose, for its head
had been shattered by Dick's shot; while fiercely leaping up, Coffee
raised his own assegai, and holding it chopper fashion, he waited his
time till the serpent's head was handy, when he hewed it off.

The writhings now grew faint; and the General coming up, and descending
with Mr Rogers and his sons and the dogs, which kept making rushes at
the waving form and not biting it, the serpent was dragged out full
length and measured, Mr Rogers making seven fair paces by its side, and
setting it down at about eighteen feet in length.

"A nice monster to meet, Master Dick," he said.  "I congratulate you
upon your success."

"Have it skinned, father," exclaimed Jack eagerly.  "It would be such a
capital thing to have, stuffed and coiled up, at home."

Mr Rogers glanced at the great faintly-writhing monster, with its
tortoiseshell markings, and shook his head.

"No, my boy," he said; "I must confess to too great a dislike to the
serpent race to care to carry about their skins.  Besides, if we are
going on like this, killing a lion a day, we shall have only room for
the skins of our big game.  Let's leave the creature here."

They climbed up out of the ravine, and after a couple of hours' more
walking, full of interest if not of incident, they went slowly back,
glad to get in the shade of the trees beneath which the waggon was
halted, and finding everything right.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

HOW THE LITTLE GINTLEMEN INTERFERED WID DINNY.

A few days were very pleasantly spent here collecting, for Mr Rogers
was an enthusiastic naturalist.  Birds of brilliant feathering were
shot, skinned, preserved with arsenical paste, filled with cotton wool,
and laid to dry with their heads and shoulders thrust into paper cones,
after which they were transferred to a box which had to be zealously
watched to keep out the ants.  Certainly scores of these were killed
through eating the poison smeared upon the skins, but that was little
satisfaction if they had first destroyed some delicate bird.

Butterflies, too, and beetles were obtained in great numbers, being
carefully killed, and pinned out in boxes lined with camphored cork.
These insects the two Zulu boys soon learned to capture with the
greatest ease, and after a little teaching they would bring in a
handsome butterfly or moth, without crushing and disfiguring it first so
that it was useless for preservation.

Bok or antelope of various kinds were plentiful enough to make the party
sure of plenty of food; and both Dick and Jack were getting so skilful
with the rifle that they could be depended upon to bring down a koodoo
or springbok at four or five hundred paces.

The kraal had been strengthened, so that they felt no fear of a lion
getting through; but fires were kept up every night, wood being
plentiful, and the bright glow seemed to give confidence to the
occupants of the camp, as well as to the horses and oxen.  Watch was
kept too, but though lions were sometimes heard at a distance they did
not molest the travellers, and but for the stern suggestions of the
General they would have grown careless in the extreme.

For experience and skill in the use of fire-arms made Dick and Jack more
confident.  They had looked upon a lion as a monster of such prowess,
and of so dangerous a character, that they were quite surprised at the
ease with which a good shot with a rifle could hold the king of beasts
at his mercy.

As for Coffee and Chicory, the General several times punished them for
being so daring and running such risks, especially as they were in a
part of the country where lions really were plentiful, although, so far,
little molestation of the travellers had taken place.

It had been decided that upon the next day they would trek onward for
some distance, and perhaps on and on for days, according to the
attractiveness of the country they were passing through, and the
plentifulness of the game.

The General heard Mr Rogers' decision with a smile of satisfaction.

"I want to take you where the great tusker elephants are," he said, "and
let you shoot the giraffe and rhinoceros.  We have hardly begun yet."

He made the boys' eyes glow with excitement as he told them of the size
of the hippopotami and elephants they would encounter, the height of the
giraffes, and the furious nature of the rhinoceros, which beast seemed
to be always mad if it saw a human being.

As they were going to start next day it was decided to let the horses
graze in peace with the oxen, which, after a fortnight's rest, looked
sleek-coated and in far better condition; but Peter, Dirk, and Dinny
were bidden to keep a strict watch over the cattle, for just before
starting the General announced that he had seen a lion-spoor, apparently
two days old.

The day was passed very pleasantly, collecting, by Mr Rogers and his
sons, several very beautiful birds falling to their guns, and their
boxes being filled with splendidly burnished beetles; and at last tired
out, they turned to get back to the little camp by midday, hoping to
find a satisfactory meal ready, for the General had gone out with a
rifle in search of a bok; and his two boys had taken their kiris and
assegais, to see if they could not knock down a few of the large
partridge or quail-like birds.

What was their disappointment then to find that neither the General nor
his sons had returned, while Dinny was in great distress.

"Sure," he said, "I thought I'd take a fishing-line and a shtick, and go
to the big pool by the little river over yonder, and catch a few of the
fish things; bad cess to 'em, they're no more like the fine salmon and
throut of my own country than this baste of a place is its aiqual."

"Well, Dinny, and you went and didn't catch anything," said Dick.

"Sure, Masther Dick, an' you weren't there," said Dinny; "but ye're
right there; I didn't catch a single fish, for the little gintlemen
wouldn't let me."

"Little gentlemen, Dinny?" said Mr Rogers eagerly.  "Did you see any
natives?"

"An' is it natives ye'd call the dirthy undersized little craytures?"
cried Dinny indignantly.  "Sure I'd take a couple of 'em up under my
arms and run away wid 'em."

"But you say they interfered with you, and wouldn't let you fish," said
Mr Rogers.

"Faix, sor, an' that's what they did.  Ye know the big pool."

"To be sure," said Mr Rogers.  "There are silurus in it."

"Are there though, sor?" said Dinny.  "And there's the big rocks up
behind it, where the prickly trees wid red flowers and no leaves at all
grow."

"Yes, I know the place," said Mr Rogers impatiently; "go on."

"Well, sor, I sits meself down comfortable, baits my hook wid a nice bit
of fresh mate as any dacent fish would like to have, and then I says to
meself, `Dinny,' I says, `while ye're waiting to hook a nice fish for
the masther's dinner, I'd have jist a whiff o' tibakky if I were you.'
`Ye're right and I will,' I says; and I outs wid my pipe, fills it, and
was just going to light up, when _splash_!  There was a great big stone
thrown in the wather.

"`Ah, be aisy, Masther Jack,' I says, for I knew it was you."

"Why, I was away with my father," cried Jack.

"To be sure ye were, Masther Jack, dear; but don't ye see I thought it
was your thrick; and bang comes another big stone down be me side.

"`I'll tell the masther if ye don't lave off,' I says.  `That's you,
Masther Dick, as throwed that.'

"Splash comes another, and then I recklected as ye'd both be far away,
and that it must be one of them dirthy little varmints, Coffee or
Chicory.  So I lays down me rod and line, as nice and sthrait a rod as
ye'd cut out of the woods anywhere, ye know, sor, and I picked up my bit
of stick ready for them.

"`I'll wait till ye throw again, me beauties,' I says; and just as I
says it to meself, a big stone hits me on the back, and another goes in
just by me line.

"`Now ye shall have it, ye wicked little villains,' I says; and jumping
up I was going to run at 'em, when, murther! there was about a dozen of
the craytures coming down from the rocks, shouting and chattering, and
throwing stones.

"`Will ye be off?' says one, `ye've no business fishing there widout
lave.'"

"How do you know he said that?" said Dick dryly.

"Sure an' what else would he say, Masther Dick, dear?  An' ah, ye never
saw such ugly little divils, widout a bit of nose to their dirty faces,
and a grin as if they were all teeth.

"`Sure I was only catching a fish for the masther's dinner, gintlemen,'
I says, when, murther! if they didn't run at me like mad, and if I
hadn't walked away I belave they'd have killed me.  As it was one
cowardly villain instead of hitting me dacently on the head wid his
stick like a Christian, comes at me and bites me in the leg."

"Let's look, Dinny," said Dick, for Mr Rogers listened but did not
speak.

"Oh ye can look, Masther Dick.  He tuk a pace out of me throusis, and
he'd have tuk a pace out of me leg as well, if I hadn't expostulated wid
him on the head wid me shtick.  Sure I was obliged to run then or they'd
have torn me to pieces; and it's my belafe they've been using the
fishing-line ever since."

"And so you've had an interview with the natives, have you, Dinny?" said
Mr Rogers dryly.

"Ah, I wouldn't call them natives, sor," said Dinny.

"What then, baboons?" said Mr Rogers.

"Sure, sur, I don't know the name of the thribe, but they're a
dirthy-looking little lot, and as hairy as if they never shaved
themselves a bit."

"Why he's been pelted by monkeys," cried Dick, indignantly; and Jack
burst out laughing.

"Faix, Masther Dick, dear, they behaved like monkeys more than men, and
they're an ugly little thribe of natives; and if I'd had a gun I'd have
given some of them the headache, that I would."

"Ah, here's the General," cried Mr Rogers, as the great Zulu came
striding up with a bok over his shoulder.

As he entered the little camp he threw down the bok, and began to skin
it, looking about for Coffee and Chicory.

"Where are the boys?" he said at last.

"Sure they haven't come back," said Dinny; "and I hope they never will,"
he added, taking the bok to cut up and cook a portion, for Dinny's leg
was very sore and bleeding from a severe bite, and his temper was also a
little more sore from the doubt with which his story had been received.

The Zulu darted a fierce glance at him, but he did not speak.  He only
walked to the waggon, where Mr Rogers was examining some of the
specimens he had killed, and said simply,--

"May I take the rifle, boss, and go and find my boys?"

"Yes, of course," exclaimed Mr Rogers.

"I'll go with you, General," cried Jack eagerly.

"But you are too tired," said his father.

"Oh, no," cried Jack.  "I don't mind.  I'll go with the General."

The Zulu darted a grateful look at Jack, and the latter took his rifle
and bullet cartridges, starting off directly after in the way that the
boys had been seen to go.

Jack began chatting to the Zulu as they went along, but after a few
remarks he noticed that the General was very quiet and reserved, while
when he glanced at his countenance it looked so strange that Jack felt
startled, and began to think of how awkward his position would be if the
Zulu were to prove unfaithful, and turn upon him.

But the next minute he was reassured, and found that it was anxiety upon
the General's part about his boys.

"I am afraid, Boss Jack," he said hoarsely.  "It frightens me to think.
They may be killed."

"Oh, no," cried Jack hopefully.  "They have only gone farther away, and
have not had time to return."

The Zulu shook his head, but he glanced eagerly at the speaker as if to
silently ask him if he really felt like that.

"No," he said softly; "one of them would be back by now, I am afraid."

Jack tried again, but it was of no avail; and the Zulu having struck the
boys' trail, he had to be left to follow it without interruption, and
this he did, all through the heat of that glowing afternoon.

Several times poor Jack felt as if he would faint, but his spirit kept
him up, and at last they came upon Chicory, sitting down by a little
pool of water with his assegai beside him, bathing his bleeding feet.

The Zulu uttered a low sigh of satisfaction as he saw one of his boys,
and Chicory jumped up, and seizing his assegai, ran to meet them.

"My brother; has he got back?" he asked in his own tongue.

"No; I came to find you both.  Where is he?" said the General sternly.

"Lost," said Chicory disconsolately.  "We got no birds and would not go
back without, and we went on and parted.  He is lost."

"Lost!" said the Zulu scornfully; "my boy lost!  Go find him.  Watch the
spoor.  He must be found."

Poor Chicory turned without a word, and in obedience to his father's
order he went off in the direction where he and his brother had
accidentally parted, and at last led them to a beautiful park-like tract
of land.  Forest-trees sprang up in every direction, for the most part
draped with creepers; clumps of bushy growth, and clusters of prickly
succulent plants, grew on every side.  It was in fact a very nature's
garden, but though they searched in all directions through the lovely
glades, golden with the rays of the scorching sun, there was no trace of
poor Coffee; and after separating, when they met again from time to time
poor worn out Chicory looked his despair.

Again they separated, Jack following, however, pretty closely upon poor
Chicory's steps, till the excitement that had kept him up so long began
to fail, and he sat down pretty well exhausted, with his rifle across
his knees and his back against a tree.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

JACK ROGERS GOES TO SLEEP.

Jack could hardly tell afterwards how it all happened, for he felt that
he must have gone off fast asleep from utter exhaustion, but his sleep
could not have lasted above an hour, for when he awoke with a start the
sun had only just dipped down out of sight, and there was a faint glow
still amongst the trees.

All was very silent and he was drowsy, but a feeling of alarm now began
to oppress him, and he wondered whether Chicory and the General would
soon be there.

His next thought was about his rifle, which still lay across his knees;
and feeling that he might at any moment be called upon to use it in his
defence, he cocked both barrels, and was then about to get up and shout,
when, not a hundred yards away down a broad vista of the open forest, he
saw something which made him present his rifle and then sit motionless,
with his heart going thump, thump, heavily beneath his ribs.

For there, stealing softly along, with its belly almost sweeping the
ground, was a huge lion--not a smooth, maneless lion, such as the two
they had slain, but a big-muzzled, rugged-maned, hairy monster, such as
he was familiar with in pictures--the natural history lion that he had
seen a hundred times.

To have attempted to fire would have been madness at that distance, and
it was evident that he was at present in no danger, for seated as he was
in the shadow, with his back to the trunk of a great tree, the lion had
not seen him.

The next moment Jack saw why he passed unnoticed.

The lion was cautiously stalking some dark animal that was softly
gliding through the bushes, following it step by step awaiting the time
to spring.

It was an interesting sight, though painful; and Jack thought of his
brother's adventure with the serpent, and whether he was not in duty
bound to save this animal from its pursuer as his brother saved the
gazelle.

The next moment Jack's heart seemed to stand still, for the dark animal
passed out of the bushes into sight, and he saw that it was no wild
animal, but poor Chicory, bending down, and evidently carefully tracing
some spoor, perhaps his brother's, while the lion was following to
strike him down.

It was a terrible position; for young as he was in woodcraft, Jack had
not yet acquired the firmness in critical moments that comes to the old
hunter, and for the time he felt paralysed.

He was a brave, self-denying boy, but in that emergency he could only
sit there, turned as it were to stone, and watch the motions of poor
Chicory, and the merciless beast that was stealthily creeping along in
his wake without a sound.

Jack knew that Chicory's position was critical in the extreme, and that
if he did not save him by a lucky shot the lion would strike him down;
but he could not move; the muscles of his whole body refused to act, as
if he was in a nightmare; all he could do was to move his eyes and watch
the terrible tragedy about to be enacted.

The boy felt as if he would have given worlds to be able to fire, or
even shout; but he could do nothing but wait, and see Chicory creeping
patiently along in and out among the trees and bushes, now hidden, now
coming into sight for a few moments, but always so intent upon the
footprints he was examining, that he did not hear his enemy.

And what an enemy!  There was the great powerful beast, with glaring
eyes and horrent mane, creeping along with its fur brushing the grass,
and every foot touching the ground like velvet.  At times Jack could see
the great muscles moving beneath its skin, and the pliant tail swaying
and quivering as it softly lashed it to and fro.

Several times over it crouched down, as if about to spring, but a quick
movement on the part of the Zulu boy caused it to pause--and still the
hunt went on.

As Jack sat there the great drops of perspiration gathered upon his
forehead, and trickled down his face.  The sun's light reflected from
the glowing clouds grew less, and there was a grey gloom gathering
round, which made the scene before him more painful.  At one time he
thought that as darkness came on Chicory might give up, become aware of
his danger, and so escape.  Even now, if he could have warned him the
boy would have doubtless bounded into a tree, for he was as quick and
active as a monkey; but no warning passed from Jack's lips, and the
strange weird scene went on.

The forest glade before him might have been a maze whose path Chicory
was trying to thread, and the lion some faithful attendant beast,
watchfully following in his very steps.  But though Jack's body was as
it were enchained, his mind was in a fearful state of activity; and not
only did he follow as if fascinated every step, but his thoughts even
went in advance, and he felt sick as he thought of the catastrophe about
to happen, seeming to see the lion make its final crouch and spring,
hearing too the boy's death-shriek; and as the actors in the terrible
scene drew nearer to him, Jack strove with all his might to cast off his
inaction.

On still, and in and out, in a heavy weary way, as if he could hardly
put one leg before the other, went poor Chicory; and slowly and
carefully followed the lion, the massive jaws thrust forward, and each
great paw raised and set down without a sound.

It could not have lasted more than a few minutes, this exciting scene,
but it seemed never ending to Jack as he sat there, till in one instant
he was roused back into action, and to try and the poor boy.

In his wanderings in and out, as has been said, Chicory came nearer to
where his young master sat, with his back to the trunk of the great
forest-tree, and more than once Jack wondered that the lion had not seen
him; though this was easily explainable--he remained perfectly
motionless, and the animal was intent upon his prey.

Chicory had come on nearer and nearer then, till he was not above thirty
yards from Jack, when, turning in amongst some long grass, the positions
were suddenly reversed, for in place of following the Zulu boy, the lion
crept round a clump of bushes so as to come face to face with him, and
then crouched ready to spring--just as Chicory stopped short, leaning
forward over something in the long grass, and, dropping his assegai,
uttered a piercing shriek.

Not thirty yards away, and just in face of where Jack was; and he knew
that Chicory had come upon something terrible, perhaps the body of his
brother, while he, Jack, had been sitting there quite unconscious, and
had even in his ignorance gone to sleep.

It was that cry that roused Jack into action, for, almost as the boy
dropped his assegai and leaned over that something in the long grass,
the lion gathered itself for its spring, and the watcher's rifle rose to
his shoulder.  There was one quick aim--the sharp crack, followed by a
multitude of echoes; and Jack sprang to his feet and on one side, to
avoid the charge should the lion come his way.

There was a deafening roar, and the lion, which had fallen short in his
spring and rolled over, evidently badly hit, struggled to his feet, and
made at Jack, who sheltered himself behind the nearest tree; and when
the great brute came on, with distended claws and bristling mane, he
fired again, at a distance of a couple of yards, forgetting that his
charge was but small shot.

At that distance, though, small shot were as good as a bullet, and the
lion fell in his tracks, snarling and growling horribly, as he struck
impotently at his slayer; then his head fell back, the mighty paws grew
inert, and he lay over more upon his side--for with a furious cry of
rage Chicory forgot his weariness, and picking up his assegai, drove it
deep into the animal's chest.

Hardly believing it true, Jack rapidly reloaded, congratulating himself
upon what he had done, when he heard the rustling of leaves, and
presented his piece, fully expecting that it was the lion's mate.

But no: it was the General, who ran panting up, having heard the sound
of the rifle, and as he reached them Chicory took his hand, and led him
to the patch of grass without a word.

Jack followed, instinctively knowing that something terrible was there.
And then his heart seemed to stand still, as he heard a deep groan burst
from the General's breast, and he sank down by the body of the son he
had come to seek.

"Is--is he dead?" said Jack, in a hoarse whisper, as he gazed down in
the gathering darkness at poor Coffee's bleeding form.

For answer the General was feeling the boy's chest, and he then laid his
ear against his side.

"No, not dead!" he cried excitedly.

Then lifting the boy in his arms, he started off back towards the
waggon, Jack and Chicory following behind, but not until the latter had
rushed back to where the lion lay, and plunged his assegai once more
deeply into the monster's chest.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE CAPTURE OF A CAT.

It was a long and toilsome walk back, for the night had come on quickly,
and every now and then the roar of some beast of prey, or the crash of
some animal through the trees, was heard.  But nothing interfered with
them; and when from time to time they halted for a few moments, the
General gladly made use of the strips torn by Jack from his handkerchief
and shirt to bind up the poor boy's bleeding wounds.

It seemed wonderful to Jack that strength and determination on the part
of the General, almost as wonderful as the unerring instinct with which
he made straight for the camp.

He did not speak once, but there was something exceedingly tender in the
way in which he tried to carry the wounded boy, so as not to cause him
pain; for he did not realise that poor Coffee was quite insensible to
suffering, and had not felt anything since he had been struck down.

At last, when Jack felt that he could no longer plant one leg before the
other, there was the bright glow of the fire at the little camp, where
they found Mr Rogers in a terrible state of uneasiness at their
prolonged absence.

The moment, however, he found what was wrong, his surgical skill, which
was not slight, was brought to bear, and the terrible gaping wounds of
the poor boy were sewn up and bandaged.

Read by the light of all that Jack had to tell, it was plain enough what
had befallen poor Coffee.  He had been stalked, by the same lion
probably as that which Jack had shot.  The monster had sprung upon him,
clawing his bare back and shoulder; and then, probably being surfeited
with devouring some unfortunate beast, he had left the boy, and had been
roused again by another intruder upon his domains, while, but for Jack's
rifle, poor Chicory would have shared his fate.

"But a' didn't kill Chick, Boss Jack.  Boss Jack kill um, and Boss Jack
and Chick go and kill all a lion now, and not leave not one."

This was the next morning, when the events of the past night had been
talked over, and Mr Rogers had expressed a hope that the boy might
live.

But, as he told his sons, it was very doubtful, for he had been horribly
clawed by the lion, though fortunately upon his back.  Had the creature
seized him in front, he must have lost his life.

All attempts at continuing the journey were of course put off, a
comfortable bed being made up for Coffee where he would feel the cooling
breeze and be sheltered from the sun, while his father took his place by
him, and sat and kept the bandages over the wounds wet and cool.

It was Chicory who proposed that the lion's skin should be fetched in;
and after a promise to be careful, the boys started off, taking with
them Peter to skin the lion, Mr Rogers feeling that he could not leave,
with Coffee in such a state.  In fact he hesitated about letting his
sons go, after such a shock, though he could not help feeling that they
were beginning to display a courage and decision that was most
praiseworthy, especially as it was linked with so much self-denial.

"But the skin would be such a trophy, father," said Jack.  "I should
like to have it."

"Go and get it, then," said Mr Rogers; "but don't stop.  You may as
well shoot a few birds, though, or any small bok, if you can.  We must
make our beef-tea of venison, Dinny says," he added with a smile, "for
the invalid must have plenty of support."

Jack went to have a look at poor Coffee as he lay there insensible, and
softly placed his cool hand upon the poor boy's burning head.

Then he started, for, to his surprise, the General was at his feet with
his arms round his legs, and embracing them closely.

He did not understand it then, but the Zulu was swearing fidelity, and
to lay down his life for him who had saved, as he felt, both his boys.

Just then there was a yelping and baying amongst the dogs, a snarling
noise, and Dinny's voice heard shouting--when Jack ran out, just in time
to see something yellowish and spotted rush among the trees, sending the
oxen into a terrible state of excitement, and making the horses gallop
up to the waggon for protection.

Mr Rogers was out in the open with a gun--but it was too late, there
was nothing to shoot, and the dogs, which had been off after the animal,
came trotting back.

"What was it, Dinny?" said Mr Rogers.

"Sure, sor, an' it was a great big yellow tom cat, wid splashes like
brown gravy all over his dirthy body; an' he came sneaking out of the
wood and made a pounce on Rough'un there; but the dog was too quick for
him, an' run bechuckst the big waggon-wheels, an' thin I threw a pot at
him and aff he went, and the dogs after him."

"How big was it, Dinny?" cried Dick excitedly.

"About as big as ten tom cats, Masther Dick, if they was all biled down
and made into one."

"Get along," cried Dick.  "What would it be, father--a leopard?"

"Yes, my boy, undoubtedly.  They are very fond of dogs, and will dash
under the waggons sometimes after one.  Rough'un has had a narrow
escape.  We must look out, for the creature may come again."

It was a long walk to the glade where the lion was shot, but they killed
a couple of the dangerous puff-adders, and shot three or four beautiful
birds, besides bringing down a small gazelle, which they protected with
sticks to keep off the vultures.  But the most interesting part of their
journey was during the first mile of their way.  They had all separated
so as to look out for game, and were crossing a patch of dense dried-up
yellow grass where they expected to spring a large bird or two, when,
all at once, something of a rich yellow and brown darted out before
Dick, leaving one clump to make for another, closely followed by a
little dun-coloured animal, evidently its young.

Dick's rifle was to his shoulder on the instant, and a bullet through
the animal laid it low, while the young one leaped upon it, and turned
and snarled, and spat at its mother's slayer.

"Why it's the leopard that came after poor Rough'un, I'll be bound,"
cried Jack, coming up.  "It has got a young one, and that's what made it
so daring.  Hullo, little chap!  We'll take you back for a pet."

But the young leopard was already in a pet, and it scratched, and swore,
and behaved so cat-like, that it was no easy task to secure it.  This,
however, was done in a strong game-bag, which was hung in a tree while
the mother was skinned for the sake of her beautiful hide.

As they neared the place where Jack's lion lay, Dick drew his brother's
attention to the vultures that were winging their way overhead.

"You'll see if they haven't been at your lion," he said.

He proved a true prophet, for as they drew near the glade--Jack feeling
a strange chill of horror as he recalled the last night's adventure--
first one and then another vulture flew up, and when Chicory made a dash
forward they rose in a cloud.

"Your skin's spoiled, Jack," said his brother.

But he was wrong, for the vultures had found two assegais leaning
against a bush, and looking so ominous with their bright blades where
the General had left them, that they had not dared to touch the lion,
and the consequence was that a magnificent skin was obtained, one that
proved to be no light load for Peter and Chicory, who carried it
swinging from a pole resting upon their shoulders.

The load was increased as they picked up the skin of the leopard, while
the boys carried the game.

The young leopard proved to be quite safe in the game-bag, which formed
a comfortable hammock for it as it hung in a tree, but no sooner was it
swung from Jack's shoulder, and felt the motion of the walker, than it
became furious, spitting and tearing, and trying to get out.

One way and another they were so loaded that the sight of the waggon
proved very welcome, and all were only too glad to partake of a good
basin of what Mr Rogers called "Dinny's restorative," namely the rich
thick venison soup always stewing in the great pot, and being added to
every day.

And it was wonderful how invigorating this rich meat essence proved.  No
matter how weary they were, a basin of it could be enjoyed, and its
effect seemed to be almost instantaneous.

After a good dinner in the shade of the big tree by the waggon, both
Jack and Dick had another look at poor Coffee, to find that he slept a
good deal, and quite easily, Mr Rogers saying that he was less
feverish.

"Well, boys, what do you think of the medicine-chest now?  Was I not
right in being prepared for emergencies?"

The boys agreed that it was right, and hoped all the same that they
would never have to make any demands upon it, either for doses or lint
and plaister--invaluable in poor Coffee's case now.

Then the lion's skin was admired, and laid out to dry.  The leopard's
followed, and was greatly praised by Mr Rogers; and indeed it was
beautiful in the harmony of its brown and creamy-yellow tints.

"Bedad and that's the very baste," cried Dinny.  "I know him by that
spot at the back of his left ear, and the payculiar twisht of his tail."

"Now, Dinny," said Dick, "how could you tell it again when you saw it
for a moment only."

"An' d'ye think it takes half-an-hour for one of me eyes to catch soight
of a craythure like that, Masther Dick?  Sure I knowed it the moment I
set oise upon it as the very same baste."

"Then you must have excellent eyesight, Dinny," said Mr Rogers.

"Sure an' I have that same, sor," said Dinny proudly, as the boys next
brought out the young leopard, which had to be held pretty tightly by
the back of the neck to keep it from taking its departure, while the
dogs gathered round muttering growls, and longing to take revenge upon
the young leopard for the insult put upon them that morning by the
mother.

"I think Dinny's right, boys," said Mr Rogers, as he looked at the
clumsy young leopard, which had a peculiarly heavy kittenish aspect.  "I
should say it was undoubtedly the mother that dashed in after the dogs,
her young one making her the more daring."

"Sure an' I knew I was right," said Dinny complacently.  "It was an
avil-looking baste, in spite of its foine skin."

"What are you going to do with the leopard?" said Mr Rogers.

"Keep it, of course, father," said Jack.

"I don't see any, `of course,'" he replied, smiling; "but try and keep
it if you can, though I'm afraid you will find it an awkward customer to
tame."

"Well, let us try," said Jack; and setting to work he soon contrived a
collar of stout wire, which was wrapped round and round with thin
leather, a dog-chain attached, and then the dogs were called by Dick.

"I say, what are you going to do?" cried his brother; "they'll kill the
poor little thing."

"Oh no, they will not," said Dick confidently.  "I'm going to give them
a lesson."

The dogs came bounding up, having been driven away during the
manufacture of the collar; and now, evidently under the impression that
they were to kill the young leopard, they became in a high state of
excitement.

"Oh, Dick!" cried Jack.  "Mind what you are about."

"Down, down, down!" cried Dick sternly; and the dogs all crouched,
awaiting the order to attack.  "Now, Rough'un, smell him."

Rough'un sprang up, and Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus made a rush; but a
tap each from the stick Dick held stopped them, and laying hold of
Rough'un's ear, Dick pushed the dog's nose close to the vicious-looking
little leopard.

"Now, sir, you're not to touch him; do you hear?"

Rough'un evidently heard, and after smelling at the little animal, he
looked up in a puzzled way at his master.

"Lie down, sir," said Dick, and the dog obeyed.  "Now, dogs!  Pomp,
Caesar, Cras, old boy."

There was a volley of barks here, and the dogs evidently thought that
their time had come; but a few stern words and a sharp tap or two from
the stick made them perfectly obedient, and they contented themselves
with sniffing at the little animal, which, on its part, finding that it
was not molested by the dogs, left off its angry demonstrations, gave
each one a gentle dab on the nose, and then rolled upon its back and
began to play.

The dogs looked more puzzled than before, Crassus uttering a loud whine
and giving his strong jaws a snap; but just then Rough'un accepted the
invitation to play, and began to pat and push the little animal, which
responded at once by rushing off and dashing back, rolling over, biting
playfully, and in less than a minute he and the young leopard were
leaping one over the other and gambolling as eagerly as if they were the
oldest of friends.

Pompey also played a little, and Caesar and Crassus looked tolerantly
on, but they did not join in themselves, beyond smelling the leopard a
few times over.  Still there was no fear of their molesting the little
captive, which was tied up to a wheel of the waggon, and from that time
became one of the occupants of the camp.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

FIRST SIGHT OF OSTRICH.

As soon as poor Coffee showed the slightest sign of amendment, he was
carefully lifted on to a comfortable bed made for him at the back of the
waggon, where he lay patiently smiling at those who came to look at him;
the oxen were in-spanned, and once more the waggon creaked and groaned
over the rough land towards a fresh halting-place.

Game was plentiful enough, and Dinny always had an ample supply for his
iron pot, but more than once the difficulties with regard to water were
very serious, and very long treks had to be made before a spring or
river could be reached.

But they pushed steadily on, the excitement of their hunting and
shooting excursions making them forget the troubles of their journey.

Whenever Mr Rogers talked of halting and making some snugly-sheltered
position their headquarters, the General smiled and pointed north,
promising more wonders if they kept on, and finer game.

Coffee did not seem to suffer much, his greatest trouble being his
weakness, and the difficulty his surgeon had to deal with that of
keeping him in his bed; but he was very patient, and grateful for what
was done, while the General seemed to wait on Mr Rogers' every look and
word as if he would never be weary of attending to him.

They were getting close to the neighbourhood of the river Limpopo, when
one evening, towards sundown, Mr Rogers became separated from his sons
as they were journeying back towards the waggon, in his anxiety to shoot
one of the curious fox-like animals that he had several times seen but
had never had a chance to hit.  They were beautifully marked, with long
ears almost like those of a hare, and carried brushes that would have
made an English fox envious; but even out there in the African wild they
seem to partake of the cunning of their European relatives, and the more
Mr Rogers tried, the less likely he seemed to succeed.

Upon this occasion he had seen one or two, and in his anxiety to obtain
a shot he had dashed off into the bush, where the little animals seemed
to delight in luring him on, showing for a moment and then disappearing.

It was a glorious evening, and the sky was one glow of warmly-tinted
cloud, while his proximity to the waggon, which he knew was not far-off,
kept him from feeling uneasy about the others getting back.

"There it is again," he exclaimed, as he saw the little fox-like animal
dart amongst the bushes; and going cautiously in pursuit, he went on
till the gathering mists of the coming night warned him to return.

He had hardly turned to make for the waggon when he saw something that
completely enchained his attention, for looming up through the mist, and
appearing of almost gigantic size, he saw what appeared to be three
large ostriches; but while he gazed they seemed to fade away into the
evening darkness, and were gone.

He had not gone far on his way back before he heard voices, and luckily
came upon the boys and the General, Chicory having been left behind to
attend to his brother.

"I think I have seen ostriches this evening," said Mr Rogers.  "Are
there many here, general?"

The Zulu said No, but that there might be a few.  If there were any he
thought they might get a shot at them for the sake of their glorious
plumes; and promising to be on the look out for their footprints, they
went on chatting about them till the waggon was reached, to find that a
couple more waggons, the property of an ivory-trader travelling south,
had been out-spanned close by, so that there would be company for the
night.

The ivory-trader proved to be an intelligent man, and he said that there
were plenty of elephants in the neighbourhood, but warned them to beware
of the rhinoceros and crocodile, while he declared that one or two of
the tribes farther north were worse than either.

Lions were heard in the distance, but the fires kept up proved
sufficient to warn them off, and a very good night was spent; but just
as breakfast was being got ready Peter gave the alarm, Chicory echoed
it; there was a rush for rifles and guns, and a general state of
excitement, for five ostriches had suddenly made their appearance, right
up close to the camp, their tall necks with their flat stupid-looking
heads undulating like snakes above the long grass.

For a few moments they had appeared to be perfectly astounded at the
sight of the various strange objects, the waggons and their
accompaniments.  Then the shouts alarmed them, and as the guns were
handed out of the waggons and the huntsmen prepared to fire, the
ostriches were getting up speed, running faster and faster, till, as
Dick said, their legs seemed to twinkle; and the shots that were sent
after them, though they might have whistled past, had not the good
fortune to bring them down.

"Well," exclaimed Dinny who was standing by the fire.  "Of all the
things I ever did see run, them there do beat, and no mistake."

Certainly the speed with which their long, powerful legs sent the large
birds over the ground was wonderful, and in a very short time, long
before horses could have been saddled, they were out of sight.

"Why, thim birds can run almost as fast as my big brother," said Dinny
musingly, as the last ostrich disappeared.

"Could he run fast, Dinny?" asked Dick, smiling at his brother, as much
as to say, "Now you listen to him, and hear what he says."

"An' is it run fast, he asks?" cried Dinny.  "Why, he was the fastest
runner in Oireland, and they used to make races for him to run, and
match him against toime, and he always won.  Why, wheniver he run he
came in widout his boots."

"Came in without his boots?" said Jack, laughing.

"To be sure he did, sor, always.  They managed to kape up wid him
ginerally about half the way, and thin they got so slow he always had to
lave thim behind."

"It's a pity we haven't got your big brother here, Dinny," said Dick
sarcastically.  "He could have caught the ostriches for us."

"Caught 'em, Masther Dick.  I should think he would, in no time."

"Would he have been as much afraid of the lions as you are, Dinny?"

"Hark at him, now," said Dinny, looking round at the dogs, which had had
a race after the ostriches, and had now come back, with their tongues
out and curled up at the tip as they sat there panting.  "Hark at him
now.  Jist as if I was the laste taste of a bit afraid of all the lions
in Africky.  Why I says to meself, `Dinny,' I says, `ye'll have to tak'
care of yerself,' I says, `and not let the wild bastes ate ye till ye
come back; for what would poor weeny, sickly Masther Dick do widout a
good cook to make broth and stews to kape him alive?  Take care of
yerself, Dinny, for the poor sick gossoon's sake,' and so I do, Masther
Dick; for it's not on account of meself, only for you."

"Why you said the other day, Dinny, that it was because of your mother,"
cried downright Jack.

"And small blame to a man for being fond of his mother, Masther Jack.
Sure I always was a good son."

Dinny was always ready with an excuse, and in spite of his idleness and
downright cowardice, he was generally merry and good-humoured, and the
first with a laugh.

The coming of the ostriches was, however, quite an excitement, and there
was plenty of talk about how to get hold of some of them for their
plumes; but nothing was done until the strangers had gone, when, after
moving on to a more suitable place for a few days' camp, and cutting
down and piling up the thorns for a good safe kraal, whose fence would
keep marauding beasts from molesting the cattle, glasses were got out,
and the beautiful park-like plain at whose edge they were now encamped,
was scanned for game.

There was no difficulty found in supplying the big pot, and finding
pieces for a good roast; for little herds of various kinds of antelope
were often in sight, and with a fair amount of stalking one could
generally be brought down.  But the great aim now was to obtain a few
ostriches, and try how they would, these wary birds refused to let them
get within shot.

"If we shoot one," said the General quietly, "I get plenty."

But the job was to shoot the first one.  The General tried creeping
continually from bush to bush, out and over the plain; but either the
ostriches saw the glint of the sun upon the gun-barrel, or caught a
glimpse of his dark skin, for they were off swift as the wind, with
their legs twinkling like the spokes of a carriage wheel as they ran.

Then Mr Rogers tried again and again with the boys; but they had worse
luck than the Zulu, for they never got near enough for anything but very
doubtful long shots at many hundred yards, with the sole result of
making the birds more shy.

If they could have known where the ostriches were likely to appear, and
could have gone and lain wait, the task would have been easy; but the
birds came into sight in the most out-of-the-way places, and at the most
unexpected times, and not a plume came to be stuck up as a valuable
trophy in the waggon.

The General, clever hunter as he was, felt hurt at his ill-success, and
pointed out the reason; and that was that the few birds about them had
taken refuge here from the pursuit of hunters, having been chased most
persistently in all the country round.

"You must get an ostrich, Chicory," he said to his son in his own
language, as the boy was squatted down by his brother, who was
recovering with rapid strides.

"Chicory shoot one," said the boy.

And without a word he went to Dinny, and obtained some strips of dried
bok for provender, and then started off upon his quest.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

DRUMSTICKS AND LIONS.

Chicory came back the next day, for his brother's assegais, having lost
his own, as he said, sticking in an ostrich's back.

"Bring him back soon," he said, as he sat down and ate tremendously for
about an hour, after which he lay down and went to sleep by his wounded
brother, and did not awake till his father came back with a little bok
slung over his shoulder, and stirred him with his foot.

Chicory sprang up as if pricked, and in reply to his father's angry
words in the Zulu tongue, the boy made a reply which calmed the
General's wrath directly, and then went away.

When breakfast was ready the next morning, and Dinny brought a number of
skewers of wood laden with hot sputtering venison cutlets, to place
before each hungry meal-seeker, Chicory was not visible; and on being
asked, Coffee said his brother had gone as soon as the lions had left
off roaring; but he came back before evening in a wonderful state of
excitement, begging Dick and Jack to mount their horses and come to
fetch in the ostrich he had speared.

"Where is it?" cried Dick.

The Zulu boy pointed towards the east, and just then Mr Rogers came up.

"He has speared an ostrich, father," cried Dick eagerly.

"Indeed!  How did you manage it, Chicory?" said Mr Rogers.

"So!" said the boy, throwing himself into a peculiar attitude, and
holding up one arm with the hand bent down, so that side-wise his figure
took something of the aspect of the long-necked bird.

"Then the ostrich must have been stupid," cried Jack, laughing.

"Yes, 'tupid bird," said Chicory, grinning.  "Never be 'tupid any more.
Come fetch him."

The horses were soon ready, and they were about to start when Dinny
expressed a desire to go.

"Shure, I haven't sthretched me legs these three days, Masther Dick,
dear, and I wouldn't mind exercising one of the big horses if the
Masther loiked."

But "the masther" didn't "loike," not feeling disposed to trust a
valuable animal to Dinny's tender mercies; so that gentleman turned upon
his heel, and went back to the waggon-fire in disgust, and sat over it
to "warrum" himself, though every one else was complaining of the heat.

It was a long ride, but Chicory did not seemed tired.  He laid hold of
the mane of Dick's or Jack's horse, and ran easily along by the side.
And had there been any doubt of the spot in which the game lay, the
vultures going straight in one direction would have pointed it out.

The sun was getting very low as they neared the place to which Chicory
pointed; and when they came up a perfect crowd of vultures rose, having
been seated at a respectful distance, watching the bower of sticks with
which Chicory had surrounded his prize.

It proved to be a full-grown ostrich, but it was in wretched plumage,
and a little examination showed that there was a reason for Chicory's
success, the bird having been shot at and a good deal injured.

It was such a miserable object that it would have been left behind had
not the little party known that the General wanted it for a particular
purpose; so it was strapped on to the back of Mr Rogers's saddle, to
the great discomfort of the big bay, which immediately began to kick
furiously.

This kicking process caused the ostrich's long legs and neck to fly
about and belabour the horse's sides, driving it almost frantic, and had
he not been securely held he would have gone off at full gallop over the
plain, probably to go on till he dropped or was pulled down by the
lions.

"Look at the old drum," cried Dick eagerly; "and how the drumsticks are
giving it to his sides," a remark which ensured for the old bay horse
the nickname of the "Drum" to the end of the journey.

Fortunately for the party the moon in its first quarter was well
advanced, and as the sunlight faded in the west they had the advantage
of the soft silvery rays to guide them on their way.  But all the same,
the journey back was toilsome and dangerous; for no sooner did they
attempt to go fast--Chicory being mounted in turn behind one or other of
the boys, than, as Dick said, the sticks began to beat the drum, and the
drum began to go mad, and snort and kick most violently.

"Ah, father," cried Jack, "what a shame it was you did not lend Dinny a
horse; it would have been such fun to have seen him with the ostrich
tied on behind."

"Shure, he'd have been kilt intoirely," said Dick, mimicking Dinny's
accent.

"I should not envy him his ride if it would have been anything like
mine," said Mr Rogers drily.  "Hark, boys! there's a lion."

"Oomph! oomph!" came the low deep roar, like muttering thunder at home
on a summer's night; and over and over again they noticed the
peculiarity of the deep-toned growl.  For it was as if some
ventriloquist were imitating the cry in different parts of the
wilderness.  Now it sounded close by, and the horses shivered and pawed
the ground impatiently; then it seemed a little farther off; and again
it was close by.

They would gladly have galloped on if it had not been for the
drumsticks, as Dick called the ostrich's neck and legs, these
necessitating a very gentle progress; and all the time the deep roar of
the lion grew nearer.

"Want the horses," said Chicory.  "Two--three--four lion."

He pointed his hand in different directions; and now it was quite
evident that that was no animal ventriloquism, but several lions
attracted by the horses were cautiously approaching so as to make a
successful spring.

At last their unpleasant neighbours grew so demonstrative, that Mr
Rogers gave the word, and they drew rein at the edge of a patch of wood,
where there was an abundance of dry brush and grass.

"We must not go any further, boys," exclaimed Mr Rogers.  "Dick, sit
fast, and hold the reins of Jack's and my horses.  We'll jump down and
make a fire.  Come, Chicory, dead dry grass."

The boy no sooner understood what was wanted than he began rapidly to
gather up the dry grass into a heap, while Jack and his father drew
their heavy hunting-knives and chopped off the brushwood; but it was
nervous work, for the low, muttering roar came ominously close, and at
any moment Dick felt that one of the great cat-like creatures, which
have a terrible hunger after horseflesh, might spring upon one of the
poor creatures, which trembled and whinnied, and tugged at the reins.

"I shan't do much good, father," cried Dick, "but I'm going to shoot
where I think the lions are."

"Yes, fire," cried his father, who was down upon his knees, vainly
trying to get the dry grass to burn; "fire as quickly as you can load."

_Bang_, _bang_, went Dick's double gun on the instant; and apparently
comforted by the noise, and perhaps an instinctive knowledge that the
firing was for their protection, the horses ceased to embarrass their
caretaker by tugging to get away, and crowded together, pressing one
upon the other in their dread.

There was a pause of about a minute's duration, and then the lions' cry
was heard again a little more distant, but coming nearer and nearer; and
still the fire would not burn, but kept on emitting a dense blinding
smoke, which hid one great beast from Dick's eyes, where he had
distinctly seen the animal creeping along towards them.  Directly after,
though, he saw another quite plainly in the bright moonlight, creeping
cautiously onwards, and stooping from time to time as if about to
spring.

Dick had reloaded by this time, and taking careful aim he fired again,
when there was a furious roar, and they all heard quite plainly the snap
and gnashing of the monster's teeth.

"You've hit him, Dick.  Keep it up, my boy.  Chicory, here!  Come and
blow.  I can't get this fire to burn."

Chicory threw himself upon his hands and knees, and as Dick, with
agitated fingers, hastily reloaded, and tried to see the next lion so as
to have a shot at it, there came a deep-mouthed roar from behind.  Then
another and another, and the horses grew frantic, for the beasts were
evidently going to make their attack.

Dick raised his piece to his shoulder and prepared to fire, longing the
while for some relief, when, all at once, there was a bright flash, and
the fire that had refused for so long to burn, burst into a brilliant
flame, showing three lions quite plainly, creeping along at a short
distance; and as soon as they were a little farther off, they began
growling again.

Jack and Chicory had, however, gathered together a goodly portion of
combustible wood, and there was plenty more at hand, so that a roaring
fire was soon casting its light away from the wood, which somewhat
sheltered them behind; and as soon as some of the good-sized pieces of
bush were well ablaze, Chicory began to send them flying in the
directions where a low ominous growl or two told that the lions were
waiting their time.

Farther progress was impossible, and, with the knowledge before them
that they would have to pass the night where they were, a steady
onslaught was kept on at the trees and bushes, goodly pieces of which
were hacked off and used to feed the fire.

Every now and then, in spite of the blaze, some hungry lion would make a
charge, one which Dick, being pretty well experienced in such matters
now, met by hurling a blazing stick at the beast, several of which
sticks he kept burning and ready to his hand.

For firing in the deceptive light at creatures whose colour assimilated
so with that of the ground, was not only doubtful but dangerous, from
its likelihood to wound and infuriate the savage beasts.  When it was
tried before the fire blazed up, it was as a last resource, and in the
hope that the flash might help to intimidate, which, as it happened, in
this case it did.

There was very little rest, for, being unprovided with an axe, it was
hard work to hack off the boughs with the hunting-knives, but as the
night wore on and their enemies made no determined attacks, but, as it
were, kept on skirmishing, one of the party did have a bit of a nap from
time to time, though the horses neither ate nor slept, but stood
shivering together, most probably longing, like their masters, for the
morning light.

It was only natural that Mr Rogers should feel sincere regret that he
had left the camp so late in the day, but he told himself that it was a
lesson, hard as it was to learn; and the boys pretty well took it to
heart as they sat there listening to the fierce muttering growls that
came from all around.  Nearer and nearer when the fire was allowed to
burn a little lower, more distant when the blaze sprang up, and a few
burning pieces were sent whizzing through the air like fireworks, Dick
being particularly clever at making the burning brands spin round
Catherine-wheel fashion, blazing furiously as they flew.

That weary night seemed as if it would never end, and to the dismay of
all, it became very plain that the lions were madly excited at the
presence of the horses, and that their hunger was beginning to make them
think less of the fire and the burning brands.

So close were two or three of the rushes that it was all Mr Rogers and
his sons could do to keep the horses from dashing away, one lion in
particular coming so well into sight that Jack could not resist the
temptation to fire; and so well placed was the bullet that the lion fell
paralysed, and lay struggling impotently, till a second well-aimed
bullet put an end to its pain.

This was one enemy the less, but matters looked more ominous than ever,
for the supply of wood within reach was exhausted, and the last armful
had produced more smoke than blaze.

There seemed to be nothing else for it then but to mount and ride for
their lives, irrespective of the darkness, and trust to their good
fortune to bring them safe away.

"When I give the word `Mount!' leap on your horses, and dash off," said
Mr Rogers at last, for the mutterings of the lions were growing nearer
and nearer.

"And how about you, father?" asked Dick.

"I shall be close behind you, my boy."

"And Chicory?" said Jack.

"I shall cut the ostrich loose, and Chicory will jump up behind me, and
hold on as best he can."

"Let him come behind me, father," said Dick.

"No, behind me," cried Jack.

"Silence!" exclaimed Mr Rogers.  "There is no time for argument.  Be
ready.  We'll all throw at the lions together as they come on, and then
mount and off before they recover from their confusion."

Each stood to his horse's head then, and held a piece of blazing wood
ready--when Mr Rogers uttered a thankful sigh.

"Morning at last, my boys!" he exclaimed, as a faint light began to make
the trees around visible; and by rapid degrees the fire began to pale,
and the various objects grow more plain.

Then there were a few golden clouds high up above their heads; and the
big bay suddenly uttered a loud neigh, which was answered by a roar
close at hand.  But Dick hurled his burning brand in that direction, and
there was a savage snarl, after which the weary party had peace, for the
lions seemed to have departed.  While the moment the sun's edge appeared
above the plain, all mounted, and keeping a sharp look out, went off at
full gallop towards the camp.

They reached it without molestation, the horses seeming almost to fly;
and there they found that all had been very uneasy, and that they had
passed the night keeping up a blazing fire, and firing guns at
intervals, so as to guide them back.

"But it's a wonder ye found us at all at all, sor," said Dinny.

"Why?" asked Mr Rogers.

"Shure, sor, the lions have been rampaging around the waggon the whole
night through, and I had to kape them off by throwing burning sthicks
and shouting at 'em, for Pater and Dirk were about as much good as a
couple of babbies, and the big Sooloo went to slape and snored."

"That's just what I'm going to do, Dinny," said Jack, yawning.

And to show that he meant it, no sooner had he tied up and seen to his
horse, than he threw himself down, his example being followed by the
others, so that it was getting close upon noon before breakfast was
attacked.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

A LESSON IN OSTRICH HUNTING.

That same afternoon Dick, who had taken the glass and mounted a tree for
a look round, announced ostriches in sight, and the General smiled and
said it was his turn now.

While the others had slept he had been very busy, skinning the ostrich,
and stuffing its long neck, and, to the astonishment of Dinny, he placed
four or five little assegais ready, and then threw the skin of the
ostrich over his head and shoulders, holding up the head by means of a
stick run through the neck, and then, turning on one side, only his bare
legs were visible.

Jack burst into a roar of laughter, and Chicory began to get rid of his
superfluous excitement in his usual way--by dancing round and round and
indulging in a few kicks and jumps.

It was a very clumsy imitation of an ostrich, but experience had often
proved it to be sufficiently near to beguile the great birds, especially
when, after stalking along for a short distance, the head was lowered to
the ground, for there were the head, neck, and feathers, and that seemed
enough for the birds.

Thus accoutred, then, the General moved out of camp, laughingly asking
that no one should follow and shoot him by mistake for one of the birds.

The three boys followed, Dick carrying a glass; and poor Coffee
wistfully watched their departure.

They could not, however, go far, lest they should scare the birds, so
they kept in the cover of the wood for nearly a mile, and then stood
watching the proceedings of Chicory's father.

The General went steadily on, with the ostrich's head held well erect;
but every now and then he paused, lowered the long neck, and seemed to
be engaged in feeding; and at such times he walked side-wise and away
from the little group of three ostriches, which were feeding about a
mile away.

As the Zulu got to be more distant, his motions had a very natural
appearance; so much so that Dick and Jack began to feel that had they
seen him without being prepared, they would certainly have had a shot at
him, believing him to be the real thing.

He took advantage of every bit of cover he could see, passing amongst
the trees and bushes, and whenever he was out of sight, hastening his
steps till he was nearly abreast of the ostriches, when he came into
sight again.

As he did so the three birds paused in their feeding, ran together, and
for a moment it seemed as if all the labour was about to be lost.  It
was very plain that they were diligently scrutinising the new comer; and
this was the critical time.  A moment's haste, the slightest false move,
and the three birds would have gone off like the wind.  But as they saw
the stranger turn a little away from them, lower its head, and
apparently make a dart at some great beetle or locust amongst the
herbage, and then hunt out another and another, their timidity passed
away, they troubled themselves no more about the new comer, and went on
feeding.

It was very interesting to watch the disguised Zulu, apparently feeding
away from the ostriches, but all the time softly edging himself nearer
and nearer.

"Oh, I say! what stupids they are!" said Jack.  "Look at his legs.  They
arn't a bit like ostrich legs, and yet they don't see."

"All 'toopids," said Chicory delightedly.  "Wait a bit."

From where they stood the General now seemed to be touching the wary
birds; but this could not be the case they knew; and they stood watching
attentively, taking the greatest of care not to show themselves, lest
they should alarm the ostriches, for experience had shown them that they
would dash off if they saw any one a mile away.

"Now look," cried Dick excitedly.  "Look!"

For the biggest bird of the group had suddenly seemed to take umbrage at
the appearance of the stranger, and stalking straight up to it darted
its head sharply, evidently giving a vicious peck.

The next instant it was seen to make a bound forward, and fall over upon
its side, apparently kicking feebly.

The other two raised their heads and seemed alarmed; but one began
feeding again, and the other stalked gravely up to continue the
punishment the first had commenced.

This time, by the help of the glass, Dick saw the Zulu stoop down, and
deliver a thrust with an assegai, and this bird toppled forward and
fell.

The third seemed alarmed, but it did not take flight, only stood still
while the General, imitating the gait of the other birds, ran up
alongside it, and seemed to be staring like the other at the fallen
birds.

This time they saw no motion on the General's part, only that the third
he struck suddenly took to running at a tremendous rate, but dropped
like a stone before it had gone a quarter of a mile, and the General rid
himself of what must have been a very hot and uncomfortable disguise,
and mounting an ant-hill signalled to them to come.

"Three ostriches," cried Dick delightedly; "their feathers ought to be
worth a great deal.  Run back and fetch my father, Chicory."

But there was no need, for Mr Rogers had seen the manoeuvres of his
follower, and now came out of the camp, followed by Dinny.

"Ah," said the latter to the boys, "it was moighty well done, and I've
come to help pick the big birds.  They tell me that some of the payple
here kape the horse-stretches like chickens in Connaught, and that they
lay beautiful foine new-laid eggs.  Bedad, one of them ladies ought to
lay a dacent-sized egg, and I wouldn't mind having one for breakfast by
way of a change."

It was with no little delight then that Dick pointed out the fact to
Dinny that they were all cock-birds, when they got up and found each had
been pierced through the heart with an assegai.

Their plumage was splendid, and after a great deal of tough, hot work
several bundles of the valuable feathers were made up and carried to the
camp, to spread out and dry and then store away, to help pay for the
expenses of the trip.

The party had hardly turned their backs upon the denuded birds before
the vultures, which had been gathering for some time, suddenly began to
drop down to act their part of scavengers; and before night fell, there
were only a few scattered bones to show where the ostriches had been.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

LOOK BEFORE YOU STEP: 'WARE SNAKES.

Coffee was gathering strength every day, and the wounds in his healthy
young flesh healing rapidly.  So much better was he that there was no
occasion to study him any longer on the question of danger in moving, so
the well-fed oxen were in-spanned, and a few more treks brought the
party to one of the tributaries of the Limpopo, whose main stream they
hoped to reach on the following day.

The country here was much less regular, and the work for the oxen grew
more difficult, but they found capital quarters, with plenty of good
grass, strong thorn bush for a kraal; and as the place promised sport,
and plenty of natural history specimens amongst the rocks and rifts into
which the land was broken, Mr Rogers determined to rest here for a day
or two.

So a kraal was formed, the cattle sent to graze; the boys mounted Shoes
and Stockings, and starting to get something in the way of game, were
pretty successful, bringing in a plump young bok; and as evening came on
and they were resting, Dinny suddenly made his appearance with a long
stout stick and a line.

"I've been looking," he said, "and there's some moighty foine water
close by here, and a bit of salmon wouldn't be amiss."

"There are no salmon here, Dinny," said Dick.

"Then there are some good big fish, anyhow," said Dinny; and he went off
some fifty or sixty yards to where the narrow little stream ran at the
bottom of rather a steep declivity.

"Mind you don't have any of the gintlemen throwing stones at you,
Dinny," shouted Dick.

"Ah, you'd better be careful," said Mr Rogers, smiling; "Those rocks
look a likely place for baboons."

"Whist, schah!" exclaimed Dinny contemptuously; "as if I'd be afraid of
a monkey;" and he soon disappeared from sight.

The soft coolness of the evening was creeping on, the occupants of the
little camp were restfully listening to the _crop_, _crop_! of the
cattle, and Mr Rogers was about to give orders for them to be driven
into the kraal, when the peace of the camp was broken by a loud cry from
towards the little river.

"Murther! help! masther dear.  Help, or it's dead I'll be!" yelled the
familiar voice of Dinny.

Guns always lay handy, and they were seized, and all ran towards where
Dinny was yelling for help, a sharp look out being kept for baboons.

"I dare say they've attacked him," said Mr Rogers.  "They are very
vicious, and tremendously strong.  Why, where is he?  Dinny!  Dinny!"

"Hee-ar!  Help!" cried Dinny.  And running in the direction of the
sound, they came upon Dinny's boot-soles, and were just in time to save
him from gliding into the little river, head first, the tuft of grass to
which he was clinging having given way.

"An' did ye see the murthering baste?" cried Dinny, who looked white
through his sunburning.

"No, I saw nothing," cried Mr Rogers.

"Ah, but he's down there in the muddy water.  Shure I'd caught one great
ugly fat fish like an overgrown son of an eel; there he lies where he
wriggled himself," said Dinny, pointing to a fine silurus lying in a
niche of the rock.  "And I'd hooked another, when a great baste of a
thing wid the wickedest oi ye ever see, and a smile as wide as the mouth
of the Shannon, came up and looked at me.  `Oh, murther!'  I says; and
he stared at me, and showed me what a fine open countenance he had; and
just then the big fish I'd hooked made a dash, and gave such a tug that
I slipped as I lay head downwards, bechuckst thim two bits o' bushes,
and I couldn't get meself back agin."

"Why, there's the fish on the line still," cried Jack, seizing the rough
rod, and trying to land the captive of Dinny's hook.

"Ah, and ye'll take care, Masther Dick, for I belave it's that great
baste has swallowed the fish, and ye'll be pulling him to land."

Dinny was not right; and full of excitement, Jack was trying hard to
land the fish, when there was a rush and a swirl in the water, and as
they caught sight of the head and jaws of a good-sized crocodile the
line was snapped, and the little party stood gazing at the muddy stream.

"Shure an' that's him," said Dinny.  "Did ye ever see such a baste?"

"A warning not to bathe," said Mr Rogers; and after watchfully waiting
to see if the reptile would give them an opportunity for a shot, they
walked back to the camp, Dinny carrying his fish, and bemoaning the loss
of the other and his tackle.

"How big should you think that was, father?" said Dick.

"About twelve feet long, to judge from the size of his head," said Mr
Rogers.  "You must be careful, boys, and mind that the cattle are
watched when they go down to drink.  The crocodiles are most
objectionable beasts, and I suppose the Limpopo and its tributaries
swarm with them."

They seemed now to have got into quite a reptilian paradise.  Low down
by the river the land was swampy, hot, and steamy to a degree; and here
amidst the long rank reeds, canes, and herbage the crocodiles revelled,
while water-lizards of great size made their tracks along the banks.
Higher up out of the ravine where the river ran, the land was rocky and
full of nooks and corners, which the sun seemed literally to bake.  Here
came flies innumerable, buzzing and stinging viciously when their abode
was invaded, and over and about the sun-parched rocks the various kinds
of lizards swarmed, and preyed upon the flies and beetles.

They were very beautiful, these flies and beetles, and lizards--the
former with their brilliant colours and gauzy wings, the latter in their
jewelled and polished armour, often of the most brilliant metallic
tints, and always glistening in the sun.

Hundreds of the brightly armoured beetles were captured, and transferred
to the boxes kept for the purpose; but it was dangerous work, for
poisonous snakes lurked amongst these sun-baked rocks, twisted in sleepy
knots, and so like in hue to the stones amongst which they lay that a
foot might at any moment be inadvertently placed upon them.

Jack had an adventure of this kind the very day after their arrival.

There had been some talk of going, as the General proposed, after one or
other of the herds of antelope feeding upon a plain a couple of miles
distant; but Mr Rogers said the larder was well filled, and his idea of
a pleasant hunting trip was not one where mere butchery was the rule,
but where a sufficiency was killed for their daily use.

"By all means, let us destroy such noxious animals as we come across,"
he said; "and I am keen sportsman enough to want to shoot some of the
large game; but let us be naturalists, boys, and not simply slayers of
all we see."

The result was that they spent that day collecting insects and small
reptiles, Chicory accompanying them to carry a large open-mouthed bottle
of spirits with stopper and sling, and the glass protected by a stout
network of soft copper wire.

Into this spirit-bottle little vipers, scorpions, spiders, and similar
creatures, were dropped, Chicory holding the stopper, and throwing back
his head and grinning with delight as some wriggling little poisonous
creature was popped in.  In fact, Chicory was an indefatigable hunter of
great things and small, taking readily to natural history pursuits; but
he had his drawbacks, one of which was a belief that the little snakes
and tiny lizards dropped into the spirits of wine were to make some kind
of soup; and he had to be stopped just in time to prevent his well
amalgamating the contents of the great flask by giving it a good shake
up.

"Dere's one, Boss Dick.  Dere's nother one, Boss Jack," he kept on
saying, his quick restless eyes discovering the various objects long
before his English companions.

They were up in one of the superheated rifts among the rocks, with the
sun pouring down so powerfully that the whole party were very languid
and disposed to seek the first shelter, when an incident that might have
had a fatal termination came upon them like a shot.

Jack was in advance, and about to climb up to a shelf of rock in pursuit
of some brilliant little lizards that were darting in and out of the
crevices when Chicory shouted out,--

"Boss Jack! mind snake!"

It was too late.  There was a great dust-coloured puff-adder lying in
his way, with its thick clumsy body nestled in amongst the hot stones;
and even as the Zulu boy's warning was uttered, Jack's boot pressed
heavily upon the lower part of the dangerous reptile's body.

Sluggish and dull before, this assault brought the reptile into a state
of activity that was almost wonderful, and before Jack could realise his
peril the short thick viper had struck twice at his leg.  Before,
however, it could strike again, its head lay upon the stones, cut off by
a blow from Chicory's long-bladed assegai, and the body of the dangerous
beast was writhing amongst and rattling the stones.

"Chicory 'fraid he broke a bottle," said the boy, who had dropped it in
his excitement.

But the flask and its natural history contents formed a very minor
consideration just then.

"Are you hurt, my boy?" cried Mr Rogers quickly.  "Sit down there.
Here, Dick, the spirit-flask.  Now then, draw up your trouser-leg."

Jack obeyed, and Mr Rogers immediately stripped down the lad's rough
worsted stocking, taking out his penknife and preparing to make the tiny
punctures bleed freely, and to suck the fatal poison from the wounds.

"Does it pain you much?" said Mr Rogers excitedly; and his hands
trembled for a moment, but only to grow strong directly.

"No," said Jack stoically.

"Don't be afraid, my boy; be a man.  Now where was it?"

"I won't be afraid," replied Jack.  "I won't mind the knife, father."

"Quick!  Show me.  Where was the wound?" exclaimed Mr Rogers.

"I don't know.  It bit at me twice," replied Jack; "somewhere below the
knee."

"These creatures' teeth are like needles," said Mr Rogers.  "Look,
Dick; can you see? two tiny punctures together?"

"Would it bleed, father?" said Dick.

"Most likely not."

"I don't see the wound, father."

"Nor I, my boy; but my head swims, and I feel giddy.  It is as if there
was a mist before my eyes.  Oh, my boy! my boy!"

"Snake never bite um at all," cried Chicory sturdily.  "All swellum and
look blue by dis time.  Only bite leggum trousers."

Jack burst into a roar of laughter, and a strange reaction took place,
for Chicory was undoubtedly right: the loose trouser-leg had caught the
virulent little reptile's fangs, and averted the danger.

For there was no gainsaying the matter.  Jack felt nothing the matter
with him, when, if he had been injured, he would have been under the
influence of the terribly rapid poison by then, whereas he was ready to
jump up and laugh at the mistake.

He did not laugh much, however, for his father's serious looks checked
him.  And soon after, when they were alone, Mr Rogers said something to
his son about thankfulness for his escape which brought the tears into
the boy's eyes.  The next minute, though, father and son joined hands,
and no more was said.

It was another warning to be careful, and of the many dangers by which
they were surrounded, and the boys promised to temper their daring with
more discretion for the future.

They afterwards called that the reptile day, for the number of scaly
creatures they saw was prodigious.

"But I want to see one of those tremendously great boa-constrictors,"
said Dick, "one of the monsters you read of in books."

"As big round as the mast of a man-of-war, and as long, eh?" said his
father.

"Yes," said Dick.

"Then I'm afraid, my boy, that you will be disappointed, for from my own
experience I think those creatures exist only in the imaginations of
writers.  I dare say they may grow to thirty feet long, but you may take
a boa of eighteen or twenty feet as a monster, and as big as you are
likely to see.  That was a very large serpent you shot in the valley
there."

"Oh," said Dick; "I don't call that a long one."

"This is just the sort of place to find a large one, I should say,"
continued Mr Rogers.  "Hot, dry, stony places for basking, and dense,
hot, steamy nooks down by the little river and lagoons where it would be
likely to lie in wait for its prey."

But though they looked well about, they saw nothing, and the heat having
now become intense, they found a clump of trees close by a trickling
streamlet that ran along from the rocks to the river, and sat down to
rest and eat their lunch.

They felt too drowsy and tired with their morning's walking to care to
do much in the afternoon, and they were quietly looking over their
captures after shifting their places twice to get out of the sun as the
shadow swept on, when Dick suddenly caught his father's arm, and pointed
towards the rocks.

"What's that shining over there?" he said quickly.

Chicory had been asleep the moment before, but Dick's movement and
question roused him on the instant, and he glanced in the direction
indicated.

"Big snake," he said decisively.  "Chicory go and kill um."

The boy ran towards the rocks, and, picking up their guns, the rest
followed--to see that it was a large serpent from whose scales the sun
had gleamed.  They could not even guess at its length it was so knotted
up in folds; but its body was nearly as big round as that of Chicory,
who seemed in nowise afraid of the great reptile, but picked up a mass
of rock larger than his head, balanced it on one hand, and advanced
towards the sleeping serpent, which had chosen one of the hottest
portions of the rock for its siesta.

"_Yap_! _yap_! _yap_!" shouted Chicory; and the creature moved slowly,
its whole body seeming to be in motion.

This was not enough for Chicory, who drew his kiri out of his waistband,
and threw it heavily at the reptile.

This seemed to rouse it into action, and after a more rapid gliding of
one coil over the other, the creature's evil-looking head rose up,
hissing menacingly at its disturber, who raised the piece of rock with
both hands above his head, and dashed it down upon the serpent's crest,
crushing it to the ground, after which the boy nimbly leaped away, to
avoid the writhing of its body and the fierce whipping of the creature's
tail.

"Well done, Chicory, my brave boy," cried Mr Rogers, patting the Zulu
lad upon the shoulder.

"Yes, Chicory very brave boy," said the lad, smiling complacently, and
quite innocent of his words sounding conceited.  "Chicory kill all big
snake for boss.  Boss boys very kind to Coffee, and father love 'em."

This was a long speech for Chicory, who nodded and smiled, and ended by
waiting his opportunity, and then seizing the boa's tail and running
away with it to stretch the creature out.  But it was too heavy, and its
writhings continued even after the boys had fired a charge of small shot
at close quarters through the reptile's head.

They wanted to measure it, but that was impossible from its writhings.
Mr Rogers, however, made an approximate calculation, and then said,
quietly,--

"I should say it was as near as can be nineteen feet long, and unusually
large in girth."

"Oh, father," cried Jack; "it must be thirty-nine feet long."

"Ah, Jack, my boy," replied his father, laughing, "that's old
travellers' measurement--and they always allowed six feet to the yard--
that is, twenty-four inches to the foot; and that's why ourang-outangs,
and whales, and serpents were always so large."

But they had not yet arrived at the end of their reptile adventures.

They waited for some time to see if the boa would cease its writhings;
but the muscular contractions still continuing, and the dark
tortoiseshell-like markings of brown and yellow and black glistening in
the sun quite two hours after the creature might reasonably have been
said to be killed, they gave it up and went further afield.

"Suppose we leave this series of red-hot rocks, boys, and go down
towards the water.  From the appearance of the country over yonder I
fancy that the stream widens out into a lake."

"How do you know, father?" asked Dick.

"From the character of the trees and other growth.  Don't you see how
much more leafy and luxuriant it looks.  Keep your eyes well opened and
your pieces ready.  I dare say we may meet with a rare bird or two,
perhaps some kind of water-buck--ready for the camp to-morrow!"

As Mr Rogers had predicted, a couple of miles walking brought them to
what in parts was quite a marsh full of canes and reeds; but every here
and there were beautiful pools of breeze-rippled water, spread with
lovely lilies and other water-plants, while the edges were fringed with
willow-like wands and waving sedges.

So beautiful was the scene where the little river widened, and wound
through the low ground, that as they wandered about amongst the firmer
ground they forbore to shoot, but paused from time to time to watch the
lovely plumage of the various ducks and cranes that made the lagoons
their home.

Not a shot then had been fired, and as they wandered in and out they
found plenty to take their attention.  Every here and there Chicory
found for them some nest in amongst the reeds--the nursery of duck or
crane.  But the most interesting thing that they saw in the shape of
nests was that of a kind of sociable grossbeak, a flock of which had
built a town in a large tree, quite a hundred nests being together in
common; while in another tree, whose branches drooped over the water,
there were suspended dozens of a curiously woven bottle-shaped nest,
with its entrance below, to keep the young birds from the attack of
snakes.

"What's that noise?" said Jack, suddenly, as he was on about a quarter
of a mile ahead with his brother, Mr Rogers being busily transferring
some water-beetles to Chicory's spirit-bottle, which escaped breaking
after all from the toughness of the wire.

"I don't know," replied Dick.  "It sounds like some animal.  And there's
a scuffling noise as well.

"It's just like a cow moaning, a very long way off.  I wonder what it
is?"

"I don't think it's a long way off.  It seems to me to be pretty close."

They moved about among the reeds and bushes, but could see nothing.

"I know what it is," said Jack, laughing.  "It's some kind of big frog
or toad: they live in such marshy places as this, and they croak and
make noises that seem to be ever so far-off, when they are close by."

"Oh!  Look, Jack!  Oh, poor thing!" cried his brother.

"Where?  Where?"

"Over yonder, across the water."

Jack caught sight of the objects that had taken his brother's attention,
and for a few moments the boys seemed passive spectators of the horrible
scene.

Across the lagoon, and some fifty yards away, a beautiful antelope, with
gracefully curved spiral horns, had apparently come out of the bushes to
drink, at a point of land running a little way into the lake, when it
had been seized by a hideous-looking crocodile.  The monster's
teeth-armed jaws had closed upon the unfortunate antelope's muzzle, and
a furious struggle was going on, during which, as it uttered its piteous
feeble lowing noise, something between the cry of a calf and a sheep,
the crocodile, whose tail was in the water on the side of the point
farthest from where the spectators stood, was striving to drag its prey
into the lagoon.

The antelope made a brave struggle, but the tremendous grip of the
reptile and its enormous weight, rendered the efforts of the poor beast
vain: and as the boys gazed across, they saw the poor brute dragged down
upon its knees and chest, and the crocodile shuffling slowly back into
the water, an inch at a time.

"Oh, the poor, poor beast!" cried Dick piteously.  "Oh, Jack, how
dreadful!"

"Poor old crocodile!" said Jack coolly, for he had now recovered
himself.  "If he's going to eat all that buck for his dinner he'll
suffer from indigestion.  I say, Dick, let's give him a couple of
pills."

As he spoke, Jack sank upon one knee in the reeds so as to rest his
rifle well, and catching at his brother's idea, Dick followed suit.

"Take a good, steady aim, Dick, right behind his eye, so as not to hit
the antelope: and when I say fire, pull trigger as softly as you can.
Take it coolly.  Ready?"

"Yes."

"Fire!"

It was none too soon, for the antelope was being dragged along, growing
more helpless and its struggles more faint moment by moment, while the
body of the crocodile was disappearing backwards down the slope of the
point of land.

But that loathsome-looking head was still visible, dragging the
helpless, striving antelope, whose piteous rolling eyes could be plainly
seen by the boys.

The next instant, though, they had concentrated their gaze on the
gleaming orb of the crocodile, thrown all their power of nerve into that
aim, and, so as not to disturb their rifle-sights by the slightest
movement, softly drew trigger.

The reports of the rifles were almost simultaneous, and for a few
moments the boys could see nothing for smoke: but as the tiny cloud of
vapour lifted, they looked eagerly across.

There was nothing to be seen.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

AN INTERFERENCE WITH WASHING, AND THE RESULT.

"Oh," cried Jack, "we both missed, and he has drawn the poor thing in."

"I don't believe I missed," said Dick.  "No: look, Jack!"

For at that moment they saw a movement amongst the undergrowth behind
where the antelope had been kneeling; and the poor beast, with bleeding
nostrils and starting eyes, staggered down to the water's edge, drank
with avidity, and then bounded back as another or the same crocodile
half leaped out of the water to catch it.

But the antelope, weak and exhausted though it was, escaped, and bounded
away into the dense reeds, while Jack as he coolly reloaded his
rifle-barrel said,--

"Nice place this, Dicky.  Let's take our clothes off and have a bathe."

"Ugh!" shuddered Dick.  "The monsters!"

"What have you shot, boys?" said Mr Rogers, hurrying up.  "I was afraid
it was an accident, the two rifles went off like one."

They told him, and being eager to see if there was any trace of the
crocodile, they went round the shores of the little lake to the other
side of the point, for the river wound so that the incident took place
on their own bank; but for a few minutes they could see nothing but
muddy water.

"I'm afraid you did not kill him, boys," said Mr Rogers.

"But we frightened him off," cried Jack; "and that's something."

"Chicory find him; look!" cried the boy, pointing where he stood.

They went to his side, and there sure enough, with its light underparts
showing, lay a great crocodile, its tail moving feebly to and fro, and,
most satisfactory sight of all to the boys, a couple of threads of blood
rising slowly from the monster's head through the clear water.

"Hah!"

It was Chicory who shouted, and as he did so he struck back his young
masters.  For his quick eyes had seen what looked like a dark shadow in
the river; and his effort was just in time, for a huge crocodile threw
itself half out of the water, disappearing again with a sullen plunge as
it missed its prey.

"I think that will do for to-day, boys," said Mr Rogers.  "Let's get
back to the waggon.  For my part I feel disposed to spend the rest of
our time shooting crocodiles, so as to try and rid the country of a few
of the pests."

"Only all we could kill would be as nothing, would they, father?" said
Dick.

"No, they would hardly count," replied Mr Rogers; and they made the
best of their way back to the waggon, only too glad of the meal Dinny
had ready for them, roast and boiled.

Chicory turned a rough kind of somersault as he caught sight of his
brother sitting up and doing that which was dear to Chicory's own
heart--eating; and as there was a good share of food beside Coffee, the
tired brother made no scruple about going to join him and help him eat.

It was wonderful what that boy could eat when he was thoroughly hungry.
Dinny would stare at him, rub his ears, and screw up his face with a
look of disgust, while the very dogs seemed envious of his powers.
Rough'un would wait patiently for some time bearing it all apparently as
he abided his own time; but when he saw Chicory keep steadily on he
began to bark furiously, as if such behaviour were not to be borne.

"Shure, Masther Dick, it's my honest belafe," said Dinny, "that if you
put down enough mate before them two Sooloo boys they'd kape on aiting
till they got to be hungry again."

In spite of the heat of the weather, the performances of Dick and Jack
upon strong venison essence and roast gazelle were enough to startle any
housekeeper of small income and an anxiety about the state of the
butcher's bill.  But of course the outdoor life and constant exertion
produced a tremendous appetite; and as Mr Rogers noted the change in
Dick, whose palate had to be tempted only a short time back, he felt
thankful to see the difference.

Dinny had outdone himself that day in the matter of cookery; and a
hearty meal having been eaten, the boys spent half-an-hour with their
pets, the leopard being so far particularly docile, and their horses
whinnying with satisfaction as soon as they heard their masters' steps.
Then there were the cattle to look at, all of which were sleek and well;
and lastly, the various specimens to arrange before going to rest.

The sun was getting low by this time, and the stillness of the wilds was
only broken by the twittering of a little flock of birds in the adjacent
trees, when Dinny came running from the river-side--

"Hoi, sor! bring the roifles, an' ye plaze.  Here's Pater being
swallowed down by one of thim great crocodivils!"

"Quick, boys!" cried Mr Rogers; but there was no need to speak, for the
rifles had been already seized, and away the little party ran, towards
the river.

The water was not visible till they were close upon it, on account of
the conformation of the land; but when they did come in sight, the scene
was so curious that they halted with cocked pieces, gazing down from the
rocks at black Peter the driver.

Peter being a particularly cleanly man had taken a pair of his linen
drawers down to the stream to wash, with Dinny sitting on the edge of
the rock smoking his pipe, and looking-on.  All had gone well till Peter
was beating the garment about in the water for a final rinse, when
suddenly the jaws of a huge crocodile were protruded from the surface,
not a yard away.

As might have been expected, Peter dropped his drawers, and darted back,
while the crocodile remained staring at him, and Dinny rushed off
shouting for help.

They learned afterwards that what they had now seen had been repeated
several times.  For just as they paused, Peter was creeping cautiously
forward towards where his drawers lay upon the sand, stooping with
outstretched hand to seize them, when there was the slightest
disturbance possible in the water, and the head of a monstrous crocodile
appeared.

Back darted Peter, and the head of the crocodile sank slowly beneath the
water, when, unaware that help was at hand, Peter waited a minute or
two, and then once more stole gently and on tiptoe towards his
much-coveted garb.

This time his hand was almost upon it when out came the crocodile's
head, and Peter nimbly darted back, but only to come on again as quietly
as possible, apparently quite ignorant of the fact that it was by the
eye that the reptile distinguished his coming, and not by ear.

Twice more was this watched, when Mr Rogers, feeling alarmed lest the
driver should be too venturesome, whispered to his sons to shoot.

"No, father," whispered back Dick; "we want to see you shoot this one."

Mr Rogers hesitated a moment, and then lying down upon his chest he
rested the barrel of his rifle on the edge of the rock where it went
perpendicularly down to the little strand, and waited for the next
appearance of the dangerous monster.

He had not long to wait, for Peter seemed to be determined this time to
make sure of his garment, and cautiously stealing forward he had almost
touched it, when out came the crocodile's head once more, and as Peter
darted back it remained stationary, its hideous eyes watching the black
driver, when Mr Rogers' rifle spoke out, and Peter fell upon his back,
yelling for help; while the stream, that had quietly rippled over where
the crocodile lay, was suddenly beaten by the monster's struggles into a
tempest of foam.

"Are ye kilt, Pater, ma black bouchal?" cried Dinny piteously, as he
leaped down to the aid of his fellow-servant.

"Mind the crocodile, Dinny," shouted Dick maliciously.

"Oh! murther!" roared Dinny; and he scrambled up the rock again, and sat
there panting, as the boys roared with laughter.  "Ah, and it's moighty
funny, I've no doubt, Masther Dick, sor, but how would you fale yourself
if one of the great crocodivils had got hold of ye?"

"Very bad, Dinny," said Dick.  "There, go and help Peter; he isn't hurt,
only frightened."

"Thought boss shot me," said Peter, making a rush, and then triumphantly
waving his drawers over his head, before withdrawing to a place of
safety, where he could watch with the others the dying struggles of the
crocodile, which grew weaker and weaker, and then ceased; and the stream
flowed calmly on, sweeping away the mud and sand, and revealing the body
of the monster, apparently quite dead, at the bottom of the shallow
water.

Generally speaking these reptiles get away into the depths of the
rivers, or into some deep hole beneath the banks, but this one had
apparently been hit so badly that it had not had time to get away, and
the sight of the monster so excited the boys, that they begged hard to
have it dragged out on to the strand.

"But it is of no use, and its musky odour will be very offensive," said
Mr Rogers.

"But we want to see it, father--to measure it, and see how long it is,
and how big round."

"Very well," said Mr Rogers, "then you shall.  Peter, get one of the
oxen and a rope, and we'll drag the brute ashore.  Dinny, go and ask the
General to come."

The Zulu chief, and Peter with his ox, arrived at about the same time,
when no sooner did the former hear what was wanted than he made a big
loop, waded into the water, and slipped the noose over the monster's
head.

This noose was pulled tight, the rope attached to the yoke of the ox,
the word given, and the crocodile drawn not only out of the water on to
the strand, but through an opening in the rock and on to the firm ground
above.

Here the General proceeded to unfasten the rope, Mr Rogers curiously
examining the mark made by his bullet just behind the creature's eye,
when, to the astonishment of all present, the reptile made a tremendous
snap with its awful jaws, and as the General darted aside, the creature
began to thrash the air with its tail, sweeping it from side to side,
and snapping its jaws as it began to move off towards the edge of the
little cliff.

Both Dick and Jack stood there paralysed for a few moments, for they had
believed the reptile dead; but Dick soon recovered, and as the crocodile
was slowly progressing, snapping its jaws menacingly as it went, the boy
went close up and fired at its eye.

There was a terrible convulsion; then the monster levelled shrubs and
herbage in all directions, after which it suddenly seemed to succumb,
when getting Peter to help him, the Zulu thrust one of the reptile's
legs beneath it, got hold of the other, and the crocodile was hauled
over upon its back, and the keen knife of the Zulu cut its head nearly
off, and ripped it open from end to end.

"He'll never get over this," said Jack.  "I dare say this wretch has
killed hundreds of innocent creatures in its day, and I'm glad it's
done."

They were not disturbed by lions that night, but the mosquitoes and
sand-flies made up for it, tormenting them so that morning was gladly
hailed, and Jack and Dick went off with a measuring tape to get the
length and girth of the great reptile as a trophy.

"I say eighteen feet long," said Jack decidedly, as they walked along.

"Do you remember what father said about the travellers' measurements?"
said Dick drily.  "No, Jack, he is not eighteen feet long, nor sixteen.
I should say fifteen feet."

"But I read that they grow to twenty-five and thirty feet long," said
Jack.

"Perhaps they do," replied Dick, "but our one hadn't time to grow so
long, and--hallo!"

"Hallo!" said Jack.

"Hallo!" said Dick again.

"Father must have had it dragged back into the stream, so let's go back.
Pah! how busy the vultures have been."

They had evidently been gorging themselves upon the crocodile's vitals
since daybreak, and a perfect flock of them flew sluggishly away as the
boys made sure that the reptile was not where it had been left, and then
went back to ask their father about the monster.

"No," he said, "I have not had the creature touched.  I'll go with you.
Here, General."

The Zulu strode up, and Chicory followed; and thus strengthened they
went back to the place where the crocodile had been left, and the
General pointed out the exact spot where it had lain.  Then bending
down, he pointed with his finger to certain marks leading to the edge of
the little cliff, and then showed that it was evident that the crocodile
had struggled to the edge, and fallen over some six feet on to the sand
and stones below.

"But he couldn't have gone down there," cried Dick.  "Father shot him
dead, and then I did."

"Was that you speaking, my boy, or Dinny?" said Mr Rogers, smiling.

"Ah, but you know what I mean, father," cried the boy; and then they all
looked down on to the strand, but not without keeping a watchful eye
upon the water.

Here the General showed the impression made by the crocodile in the
sand, and also the marks of its claws and tail as it crawled into the
river, and then they all stared at each other.

"Why, it must have come to life again," said Jack.

"No kill some crocodiles," said the Zulu solemnly; and then, after a
little more examination of the spot, Mr Rogers turned back towards the
camp, Dick and Jack remembering that it was breakfast-time, and feeling
quite ready for another hearty meal.

"But could the crocodile come to life again, father?" asked Jack.

"Certainly not, my boy.  It could not have been killed; and horrible as
its injuries were, it seems to have had life enough to enable it to
crawl back into the river, where probably it now lies dead at the bottom
amongst the mud."



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

JACK ROGERS AND THE RUNAWAY HERDS.

The General found a shallow fording-place, when the Limpopo itself was
reached; and no little excitement was displayed by Dinny at the thought
of recklessly plunging into a river that was as full as a Pay shuck, he
said, of crocodivils.

But the river had to be crossed; and when all was ready the order
"Trek!" was given, Peter's whip cracked, and the team went down a slope
into the river at a trot, Dirk bravely walking by the side of the
foremost oxen on finding Jack and Dick, on horseback, ready to lead the
way.

Dinny groaned, and crept into the waggon unseen by any one; while
Coffee, Chicory, and the General took over the horses side by side with
Mr Rogers.

The stream ran fast, but it was very shallow, and the bottom was hard,
so that the waggon was got over in safety, the oxen dragging it well up
on the other side before they were allowed to halt; and so successful
had the passage been that there might not have been a crocodile in the
river.

The fact was of course that the trampling and disturbance of so many
hoofs kept the reptiles at a distance; but as the waggon was halted, and
Mr Rogers gave a glance under to see that all was right, the dogs began
running and snuffing about amongst the reeds and grass at the side, when
Pompey suddenly uttered a hideous yell, and bounded away, careering over
the plain with his tail between his legs, having had a very narrow
escape from a small and active crocodile, which had literally thrown
itself out of the water in its endeavour to catch him.

The land presented an entirely different aspect now, vast plains running
away towards the horizon; and in places it looked rather ominous, for it
was parched and dry.  Plenty of good grass and water were absolute
necessities for the success of their expedition, so Mr Rogers paused to
consult with the General, who pointed to the fact that there were great
herds of game upon the plain, a sign which indicated that there must be
pasture and water, and as he expressed his thorough conviction that
plenty of grass would be found on in advance, the order was given once
more to trek.

"But where's Dinny?" cried Mr Rogers; "surely we have not left him
behind."

"No, sor," said a whining voice; "shure I was putting things a bit
sthrait in the waggon.  Are we safe across the wather yet?"

"Safe?" cried Dick contemptuously; "no! not a bit.  Look out, Dinny, or
we shall have one of the crocodiles pursuing us on horseback on purpose
to have a snap at you."

"Shure an' ye's joking," said Dinny thrusting his head out of the back
of the waggon; "and maybe he'd prefer you, Masther Dick, as being
tinderer to his teeth and more gintale."

The journey during the next few days was more laborious than
interesting.  It was intensely hot; water was scarce, so was pasture;
and but for the wise provision of the couple of goodly-sized tubs strung
behind the waggon, there would have been a great deal of suffering.
Nobody knew the position of those tubs better than Pompey, Caesar, and
Crassus, unless it was Rough'un, for no sooner did they become thirsty,
and fail to discover water, than they took their places behind the
waggon and watched the barrels, "dhrinking 'em dhry wid their eyes," so
Dinny said, and barking loudly whenever a drop was drawn.

The plains they crossed seemed to be endless, so did the herds of
various kinds of game; and one evening the party separated in search of
something for the larder, which had become low.

The General went in one direction with Dick, Mr Rogers went in another
with Chicory, and in a very independent spirit Jack shouldered his
rifle, and went off by himself to see what he could bring down.

About a mile from the bank he came upon what promised to be a capital
place for stalking one or other of the herds grazing on the plain,
namely, the bed of a nearly dried-up river, dotted with pools of water,
one which had cut its way in stormy seasons through the rocky soil,
leaving on either side a steep well-marked bank of about four feet high.

The bed of the little river was dotted with tall clumps of
feathery-flowered grass, which with the bank would form excellent cover,
so that the hunter could go for miles either way in a natural trench,
towards whose water pools the antelopes would most probably graze.

It was a great advantage, but the place had its disadvantages as well,
and Jack found them out before long.

At first he started full of hope, congratulating himself on the fact
that he had on his high riding-boots, and could wade dry shod through
some of the pools.  But before he had gone far he began wishing that he
had brought the dogs, to search the different clumps of high grass,
every one of which looked to be a certain lurking-place for a lion; and
knowing now full well what capital stalkers they were, he kept glancing
over his shoulder at the various clumps, fully expecting to see an
enemy.

There were two or three rushes and rustling noises to make him start,
but as they only proved to be made by water-lizards Jack grew more
confident, and creeping cautiously along, he began to make for a couple
of herds feeding upon the plain--one, the gnu, or wildebeeste as the
Boers call them; the others, the graceful, shapely blessbok.

The appearance of the fierce shaggy gnu is not such as to give promise
that he will prove good eating, so Jack naturally turned his attention
to the blessboks, creeping cautiously along so as to get within shot;
but though he was perfectly certain that he had not shown so much as the
barrel of his gun, the blessbok suddenly took alarm, and went off like
the wind.

Their very first dash alarmed the gnu, some thirty strong, and they
dashed off in another direction.

"And I was so careful!" cried Jack passionately; but the next instant,
just as he was about to show himself, and get out of the cramped
position he had occupied close to a clump of grass, he had the
satisfaction of seeing that the blessboks had not been alarmed at him,
for they had suddenly wheeled round, and were coming right for him as
hard as they could gallop.

"Well, I shall get one this time," cried Jack, bringing his rifle to
bear, and waiting for an opportunity as the beautiful animals galloped
along; when a heavy beating noise behind him caught his ear, and turning
he found that the gnus had also altered their course, and were coming
back, with their heads down, tails up, and their horns half pointed, as
if to charge the young hunter where he crouched.

There was no mistake about it; the gnu herd was coming straight for him,
and in another minute they would have leaped down into the half dry
watercourse, and trampled him into the sand.

It was a time for displaying a little presence of mind, and to show the
power of man--in this case, boy--over the beasts of the field.  If the
gnus had kept on, they would have crushed Jack on the instant, each one
being in strength much more than a match for a man; but on seeing him
start up on one knee, and shout and wave his gun, they swerved off to
the right, and thundered by, just as a lighter beating noise of feet was
heard; and as Jack turned, there to his disgust was the last of the
little herd of blessboks, almost close to him, galloping by.

Running round to the other side of the patch of grass he went down on
one knee and fired; but the excitement had disarranged his nerves, and
the bullet went over the last blessbok's back; while before he could get
in another cartridge and climb out of the watercourse, his chance was
gone.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

NEARLY A WAGGON-WRECK.

There were no temptations to tarry much upon these plains, where there
were certainly plenty of antelopes, quagga, and zebras, but little else
to interest them.  Lions were pretty common, but somehow they did not
trouble the travellers much, being pretty well supplied from the herds
of antelopes and the like; but the hyaenas proved to be a perfect pest,
howling about the cattle-kraal of a night, and harrying the oxen so that
they could not rest in peace.  Upon two successive nights it was hard
work to save the cattle from making a regular stampede, for the poor
creatures were so alarmed that they broke down the thorn fence and would
have galloped over the plains but for the efforts and voices of their
drivers and the Zulus.

So bad did the hyaenas become, that the first moonlight night it was
resolved to lie in wait and try and shoot two or three.

The boys were delighted with the idea, but the sole result was the loss
of the night's rest, for though they could hear the ugly brutes uttering
their dismal howl all round the camp, not one was seen; and Dick at last
declared that they were ventriloquists, and lay in a hole and sent their
voices all around.

The next day's trekking was very arduous, for the ground was dry and
sterile, awkward pieces of rock, each big enough to wreck the waggon,
protruding from the sand in all directions.  The dryness, too, was
excessive, and they seemed to have got into a most terribly sterile
tract, which now and then was cut by great deep crevices, which were as
if the ground had cracked, each of these cracks being big enough to
swallow waggon and team if they had inadvertently gone in.

The poor beasts suffered terribly from thirst; but as evening was coming
on, the black clouds gathered, and it soon become evident that before
long there would be a perfect deluge of rain.

It was upon them before they knew it, almost literally streaming down,
and soaking everything; but in spite of the discomfort it was delightful
to see the thirsty oxen stop to drink with avidity from the great pools
that the rain soon formed.  In fact, the storm was so cooling and
refreshing that Chicory seemed to revel in it, his dark skin shining
with moisture; and the boys themselves did not seem to mind getting wet;
but as the night came on intensely dark, and in addition to the pitiless
rain there set in a tremendous thunderstorm, with deafening peals, and
vivid lightning cutting the black clouds in all directions, the position
of the travellers began to get uncomfortable.

The General promised a good halting-place further on; but the darkness
grew so intense that the foremost oxen had to be led, and Mr Rogers,
and the General, armed with a long pole, went on in advance.

If they could have halted where they were they would gladly have done
so; but it seemed madness to stop in that wretched wilderness, and so
they crept slowly on, drenched, depressed, and miserable, the thunder
deafening them with its peals, and the lightning seeming to crackle as
it fell in jagged lines from the skies.

Even the oxen seemed to participate in the general depression, for they
went on very slowly, step by step, as if helping their leaders to find a
suitable track, so as not to overturn the waggon against some piece of
rock.

Suddenly the General gave a warning cry, one that was echoed by Mr
Rogers, and the bullocks were pulled up short just as they touched the
leaders.

The warning was needed, for as he felt his way onward with the pole the
General had suddenly felt it go down into a rift stretching right across
their road; and as it proved to be bottomless as far as he could tell,
and went to right and left for some distance, there was nothing to be
done but to camp just as they were, and wait through the cold wet night
for morning.

It was a pitiless and a bitter night, and those who believe in Africa
being a land of intense heat would have felt their preconceived ideas
shaken had they sat and shivered in that waggon, through whose double
tilt covering the wind seemed to pierce as though it was so much open
canvas.  Far worse was it beneath, where, sheltering themselves as best
they could, the black servants, Dinny, and the Zulus huddled together
for mutual warmth.  Even the dogs refused to be excluded, and, in spite
of Dinny's rather unmerciful kicks, kept crawling under the waggon, till
Chicory took pity upon them and curled up in company, forming such a
knot that it was hard to make out which was Chicory and which was dog.
But the Zulu boy said it was nice and warm, all but one little place
where there was no Pompey, and one leg which he couldn't get under
Crass.

Fortunately the roar of the elements was sufficient to keep the
predatory beasts in their lairs, or they would have had an easy task to
seize upon oxen or horses, for it was as impossible in the darkness to
find thorns and build a kraal, as it was in the wet to get a fire to
burn.

Dick said the night was "as miserable as mizzer," and that Jack got all
the blanket; but, like all other things, that miserable night came to an
end, and as the sun rose up warm and bright, up sprang the spirits of
all with it; and as the steam reeked from the soaked waggon, they turned
from it to look with a curious sense of shrinking at the narrow escape
they had had.

For where the foremost oxen had been checked, consequent upon the
General's warning, there was a great crack right across their path, some
twenty feet wide, double that distance deep, and running for several
hundred yards right and left.

But for the General's timely warning the whole team would have gone in,
dragging after them the waggon, and the horses which were haltered on
behind, producing such an awful wreck that the expedition must have
stopped; and then there would have been the problem to solve, how should
they get back to Natal.

As the sun grew warmer, and a fire had been lighted, food cooked, and a
hearty breakfast made, the troubles of the past night were forgotten,
and in the best of spirits they went on again, after a detour to avoid
the chasm, the moistened earth smelling delicious, and the birds
twittering and singing joyously in every tree.

So far they had avoided the kraals or villages of the various peoples of
these parts of Africa, but now the General announced that they were at
last approaching the big river, where they would have to ask the black
king's permission to hunt, and make him a present for his concession.

For in his land there were the giraffe, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and
elephant--huge beasts, the names of which made the boys' pulses throb
with excitement.

There were crocodiles too in plenty in the big river, so the General
said; and it was there that the river fell.

The idea of seeing the wondrous falls of the Zambesi had long been
nurtured in Mr Rogers' heart; and as they had in their many months'
journey come so far, he determined that they would if possible reach
that part of the river, and see the falls, even if they did not go
farther.

There seemed to be no reason why they should not, for every one, thanks
to his care and management, was in the best of health, the change in
Dick being wondrous.  Certainly there was poor Coffee: but he was
growing stronger day by day, and vowing vengeance against every lion in
the land.

That they were approaching a more inhabited tract they soon had warning
in the increasing scarcity of the game.  In place of the vast herds they
had so often encountered, the herds were small, and so shy that it was
only by lying in ambush, while the others went miles round to show
themselves and make the antelopes take flight in the direction of the
hidden hunters, that a sufficiency was obtained for the daily needs.

The boys, however, managed to supplement the animal food with the birds
that were shot, or knocked down with kiris; and fishing became a
favourite pursuit in some one or other of the rocky pools in the
river-beds that they had to cross, silurus and other kinds being
frequently captured with a hook and line.

They were curious fish these silurus, and, of course in happy ignorance
of the meaning of angling, readily took the bait thrown to them in the
deep pools; but when hooked their behaviour was almost startling, from
the tremendous rushes they made in all directions.  Being very much of
the same configuration as the eel, they partook of that long, lithe
fellow's strength in the water; so that it was no uncommon thing for one
that was hooked, and had been played for some time, to break away and
carry with it half of a good line.  Several were lost, but many were
taken, and found famous when cooked, though Dinny avoided them as
"avil-looking bastes."

Game grew scarcer still; and Mr Rogers, the boys, and Chicory were
sitting in the long grass, partaking of some lunch they had brought,
after a long toilsome walk in search of hartebeeste, a herd of which
curiously-formed animals had been seen from a distance, when Chicory
suddenly pricked up his ears, leaped to his feet, and then signed to his
white companions to look.

About a mile away, but coming on at a tremendous rate, was a little herd
of zebras, whose beautiful forms and clearly-marked stripes could easily
be distinguished as they ran through the long grass.

Just about the size of an ordinary donkey, but with the build and sturdy
shapeliness of a well-bred pony, they literally spurned the ground with
their hoofs in their efforts to get away, for after them in swift chase
came three Kaffirs, well-mounted upon sturdy cobs, and armed with
assegais.

As they came abreast of Jack and Dick, the pursuers were close upon the
tail of the herd, the speed and stride of the horses telling in a long
race; and as they passed, the boys could see that the Kaffirs were nude
all but a loin-cloth, and that in place of a saddle they used for their
horses merely a small skin.

The pace was tremendous.  And growing excited at what they saw, Dick and
Jack, while longing for their own cobs, so as to join in the chase, set
off at a run, followed by their father and Chicory.

As they ran on they saw one of the Kaffirs overtake the hindmost zebra,
ride alongside for a few moments, and then spear it, the unfortunate
beast stumbling as the assegai was driven home, and then falling
headlong to the ground.

The Kaffir's companions kept on the chase, singling out two more of the
zebras, one of which was directly after brought down by a well-directed
spear-thrust, but the other managed to escape, the hunters being content
with their success.

The approach of the party of whites was looked upon as dangerous, and
getting together, spear in hand, the three hunters seemed to be
preparing to meet the white strangers as men of war.

Seeing this, Mr Rogers sent Chicory on as an ambassador to assure the
strangers of their friendly feelings: and on seeing the Zulu boy advance
alone, they waited, heard what he had to say, and then cantered up,
holding out a hand in token of friendship.

They were fine manly-looking young fellows, and said through Chicory
that they had come many journeys after zebras; and they smiled with
delight on being presented each with a common pocket-knife.

The coming of the General somewhat disturbed their equanimity; but on
hearing his friendly words they readily accepted his help in skinning
the zebras, whose hides, with some of the choicest portions of the meat,
they packed in front of them upon the horses: and after a little
conversation respecting the town upon the river to which they were
bound, the three Kaffirs rode off; and the great flap-winged vultures
swept down, one after the other, attacking the unfortunate zebras: and
shortly there was nothing left but a few scattered bones.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

HOW DINNY HEARD A LION WID A BAD COWLD.

"They're avil-looking birruds thim vultures, Masther Dick," said Dinny,
as he saw the great flap-winged birds sailing slowly through the air,
some of them always being in attendance upon the waggon, knowing,
apparently by instinct, that the companionship of the hunting-party
meant food for them.

They kept at a respectful distance, though; not on account of the guns
and rifles, for they seemed to know that they would not be molested, but
because of the dogs, who resented their attendance as an insult, and as
likely to deprive them of many a pleasant bone.

Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus would make a dash at the great birds
whenever they saw them upon the plain, charging down upon them
open-mouthed, while Rough'un went at them in a way full of guile,
hanging his head down, and keeping his nose close to the ground, as if
in search of something he had lost.  He never seemed to be taking the
slightest notice of the vultures, even turning his head away, but all
the time he was sidling nearer and nearer, till feeling that he was
within easy reach, he would make a dash at the nearest bird.

But Rough'un succeeded no better than Pompey and his brethren, for the
vultures would take a few hops, spread their wings, and float up in the
air, as the dog rushed under them, leaving him barking most furiously at
the birds as they went.

"Ah, they're avil-looking birruds, thim vultures," said Dinny, "and we'd
never suffer 'em in ould Oireland.  Shure, Saint Pathrick would have
dhruv out ivery mother's son of 'em before he'd set his foot in the
counthry.  They're avil-looking bastes.  I'll be asking the masther to
lind me a gun, and I'll go out shooting of 'em."

"I don't think father will let you, Dinny," replied Dick.  "They're very
useful in their way, and clear off all the foul decaying carcases of the
animals that die on the plains."

"Shure and the flies would do all that a dale nater and claner," cried
Dinny.  "And, oh, murther, Masther Dick, but it's hard work to keep the
flies off the mate out here.  They come in shwarms, and I'm doing
nothing all day but kill 'em.  I say, Masther Dick, dear, whin are we
going back?"

"Going back?" cried Dick.  "I don't know.  Not yet for months, I hope."

"Oh, murther, an' what'll become of us all?  Sure we're never going near
any more of thim rivers, Masther Dick?"

"But we are, Dinny, we're trekking straight for one now."

"Not one with thim murthering crocodivils in it, Masther Dick?"

"Yes, Dinny; the Zambesi swarms with them, I believe, and they run very
large."

"Och, mother, mother! and it's a good thing ye don't know where yer poor
boy is all among black haythens, and lines, and crocodivils, and other
foreign bastes of prey.  I niver thought I'd come to such a thing as
this.  Shure it's a horrid counthry altogether."

"I think it a grand country, Dinny," cried Dick; "and I shall ask father
to stop out here for long enough."

"Ah, be aisy, Masther Dick, dear, and don't demane yerself to stop out
here among the dirty blacks.  Shure ye're meant for better things.  Jist
think of it, darlin', out here in the wildherness all these long months,
and never once tasted mutton or beef."

"But you've been living on prime venison and other game, Dinny."

"An' is it living ye call it--aiting thim bucks and doe things, like a
black, or a wild baste?" said Dinny in tones of contempt.  "Not so much
as a pitaytie even or a pay.  Shure I call it shtarving," grumbled
Dinny.  "Look at that now."

"That" was poor Coffee, who was so much better that he had been out once
or twice upon short hunting expeditions, and was now tramping behind the
waggon with his brother, engaged in what cannot better be described than
as a game of romps with the dogs.

For these welcomed the advances of the Zulu boys with delight, racing
and careering round them, making fierce attacks, and allowing themselves
to be seized and thumped and rolled over, in what at times was a regular
tangle of dogs and boys, after which there was a run to overtake the
waggon.

Dinny, in spite of his grumbling, was a good deal pleased upon this day,
for the route of the waggon took them by several salt-pools, whose
waters the dogs rushed to lap, but came back shaking their heads and
barking furiously, growling at Dick and Jack, who laughed at them, as if
they were resenting a trick that had been played at their expense.

These salt-pools were very interesting, the salt forming in quite a
crust, like ice, some inches below the surface; while to the surprise of
Mr Rogers, he found beautiful palm and the queerly-shaped baobab-trees,
flourishing in the salt-impregnated soil.

The long weary trek brought them in sight of the fine broad river along
whose banks they had now to journey till they reached the black king's
town; and they had not gone far before they saw in the distance a couple
of canoes upon the water, while directly afterwards they passed a clump
of trees and came upon a fishing-party, three of the number being in a
large dug-out canoe, the other upon a mass of rock surrounded by reeds.

So intent were the fishermen upon their work amongst the great
water-lilies that dotted the quiet surface of the river close in shore,
that they did not see the approach of Dick and Jack, closely followed by
Mr Rogers to protect them from harm.  The sight was so novel that the
young Englishmen stood still amongst the reeds watching the blacks, one
of whom managed the canoe by means of a pole, while the others watched
their opportunity, and then darted their long slender fish-spears down
into the transparent water, and several times over brought up a
good-sized fish.

They were strong, well-built savages, whose belief in clothing went as
far as a little apron; and one of them had his hair carefully twisted,
and tied up into an absurd-looking pigtail, which stood straight up from
the back of his head.

The English party stood watching them for some minutes, and then
advanced towards the shore, making signs.  But the moment their presence
was discovered the men in the canoe uttered a shout, and their companion
on the shore plunged into the water to join them, the whole party
paddling rapidly off as soon as their companion was hauled in to the
bottom of their canoe, a feat not performed except at great risk of
overturning the heavy clumsily-formed boat.

The General was beckoned up to join them by Mr Rogers, but they paid no
more heed to him than to the Englishman, their sole thought being how
best they could make their escape.

"They'll go and announce our coming as that of enemies, I suppose," said
Mr Rogers, who longed for a better knowledge of the people's tongue.

There was no help for it; and as decidedly the best plan was to journey
through on to the royal city, the waggon was kept going, and that night
they camped at a short distance from the river, hearing no lions.  But
as they sat by their watch-fire, there was a peculiar hoarse loud
bellowing noise, evidently coming from the river-side.

As very often happened to be the case when there was anything unusual
heard, Dinny was sitting with Jack keeping the first watch, and a good
blazing fire.

"Hark at that now!" he said.  "Hark at that, Masther Jack!"

And he half rose and made as if to flee to the shelter of the waggon.

"Yes, I heard it, Dinny," said Jack quietly.  "It was pretty loud wasn't
it?"

"Loud, Masther Jack?  It was horrid, shure!  And why don't ye shoot?"

"Because there's nothing to shoot at."

"Nothing to shute at?  Jist hark at him!  Why, there it is again."

As Dinny said, there it was again; and certainly the noise was terrible
and awe-inspiring, heard in the stillness of the night by the crackling
of the great fire, whose glow lit up waggon and trees around in a
strange way, casting grotesque shadows behind.

"Well, it's ever so far-off; and I don't know what it is.  Perhaps it's
an elephant," said Jack.

"An illephant!" said Dinny, in tones of disgust; "jist as if an
illephant ever made a noise like that!  Why, it's a lion, Masther Jack."

"Nonsense, Dinny!  Lions don't make a noise like that."

"Shure, an' arn't we close to the river, where it's mortial damp?"

"To be sure we are; but it isn't damp here, Dinny."

"Shure, but it is!" cried Dinny.  "There's a hoarse roar for ye!"

The peculiar noise came again, and was repeated from a distance, and
again in the other direction.

"That's no lion, Dinny," said Jack.

"Not a lion?  Bedad, and I'd bet me head that it is, and a lion that's
hoarse wid a horrid bad cowld--jist the same as meself, and a sore
throat in the bargain, after that wet night we had the other day."

"No, that can't be a lion," said Jack again.  "Hulloa! who's there?"

The _click_-_click_ of Jack's gun was heard as a dark form was seen
approaching.  But the familiar voice of Mr Rogers made the boy lower
his piece.

"I thought I'd come and have a look at you, my boy," said Mr Rogers.
"Do you hear the hippopotamus?"

"Shure, no, sor; but there's a great big lion wid a terrible cowld,
roaring away for his mate; and I'd thank ye kindly if ye'd shute him at
once.  There he goes, sor!"

"That's not a lion, Dinny.  That's a hippopotamus," replied Mr Rogers,
smiling.

"Shure, an' if he can roar like that, he'll be worse than a lion, sor,"
said Dinny, "so hadn't ye betther shute at once?"

"Dinny doesn't want you to shoot at the hippopotamus, father," said
Jack, laughing.  "He wants you to shoot at shadows!"

Mr Rogers laughed, and after staying a little while by the fire,
listening to the distant noises of the huge amphibious animals that
abounded in the great stream, he quietly went back to the waggon.

The departure of his master was the signal for the renewal of Dinny's
fears, which he showed in a very peculiar way.

Jack had just thrown a few more pieces of wood upon the fire, which
blazed up directly; and then, taking his place again, he was making
himself comfortable, when there was a tremendous hollow roar, made by a
hippopotamus, apparently pretty close to them.

Dinny immediately shifted his position, getting close up to Jack, who
did not say anything, but feeling uncomfortably warm dodged a little
farther off.

That was of no avail, for Dinny followed him, getting closer still, with
the result that in the course of the next hour Jack was driven right
round the fire; and he was just about to commence a second tour when the
General came, with Dick, to relieve the watch, and Jack went off to bed.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

MARKED DOWN BY VULTURES.

They were still many miles from King Moseti's town, and the larder being
again low, consequent upon the impossibility of keeping meat, a
hunting-party was instituted, and Mr Rogers was about to go off with
the boys; but on second thoughts, as they had been seen by the people on
the river, no doubt the news of their coming was known all through the
country, and it was possible that some of the natives might come down.

This he felt would be unsatisfactory if he was away, so he decided to
stop; and then feeling that it would be better to have some trustworthy
man to help guard the waggon, and not feeling that either Dinny, Peter,
or Dirk, was that man, he decided to tell the General to stay.

So the hunting-party consisted of the four boys, who were warned not to
go too far, but to be sure and get something in the shape of meat as
soon as they could.

They went off in high glee, Coffee being delighted to be able to take
his place in the party; and nothing would do but he must perform all
sorts of feats, to show how strong he had grown once more.

Acting upon Mr Rogers' advice, they made straight for the high, open,
park-like land, about a couple of miles south of the river; and here
Coffee soon showed his talent as a tracker, by pointing out some
footprints in a patch of soft earth and mud close to a clear pool of
water.

"Lion!" he said, pointing to the great round impression: and he spat and
stamped, and then struck the ground fiercely with his kiri.

"Elfant!" cried Chicory just then; and his discovery so far transcended
his brother's, that there was a rush to see the huge round footprint,
that looked as if some one had been standing portmanteaus on end all
over the bog, and leaving their impressions there.

Then there were buffalo tracks, and the footprints of innumerable other
beasts that had been to drink, or else gone on, making a complete
roadway in the direction of the big river.

Just then Coffee pulled Jack's sleeve and pointed to quite a
freshly-made series of footprints.

"Why, that's some kind of antelope," cried Jack.

"Yes, big bok--eland," cried Coffee.  "Come along."

This was as good as saying that the animal had lately been there to
drink: and in fact its tracks looked surprisingly fresh, so much so that
the boys, after glancing at their guns, followed Coffee as he trotted on
ahead with his eyes fixed upon the footprints, which were here and there
so clearly-marked in the soft earth that he followed them at a run.

Knowing what he did of the habits of animals, and that the great
antelope might be many miles away by this time, Dick was about to
protest against such an exercise of speed, feeling that a slow and sure
progress would be the safest: but Coffee proved to be right, for before
they had gone half-a-mile, he slopped short and made signs to the others
to close up.

They were in a wooded tract of land sprinkled with bushes and fine
timber trees; and as the boys came up, there, about a hundred yards in
front, was a magnificent eland, and so great was the surprise of both as
they saw the size of the animal, equal in bulk as it was to an ox, only
longer and more gracefully-shaped, that they forbore to fire; when the
great antelope, catching sight of them, went off at full speed, and they
had to renew the chase.

Quite an hour elapsed before a sign from Coffee announced that he could
once more see the game.

This time both Dick and Jack were more upon the alert; and creeping
cautiously up through the bushes, they caught sight of the eland
grazing, just at the edge of a patch of forest about a hundred and fifty
yards away.

This they felt was a long shot at so large an animal; but it was
impossible to get nearer on account of the intervening open ground; so
kneeling together they took careful aim at the shoulder, and fired
almost simultaneously.

"Hit," cried Jack, as he jumped up and ran forward beyond the reach of
the smoke; but there was no eland lying in its tracks; and as the Zulu
boys came up, they made out that it had dashed through a patch of dense
growth, and there its footprints were lost in a broad trail made by
thousands of animals on their way to and from the river.

Both Coffee and Chicory exerted themselves to the utmost; but their
efforts were in vain, and at last they turned to Dick shaking their
heads.

"No good gun," said Coffee.  "Ought to shoot um dead."

"It's a bad job," said Jack; "but it's of no use to grumble.  Come,
boys, we must hunt out something else."

"I wish we had brought the dogs, Jack," said Dick.

"Coffee find him soon--that way."

He pointed with an exultant look in his face at a great flap-winged
vulture flying directly over his head, and for a moment both Jack and
Dick were puzzled; but seeing the boys both set off at a run, they
followed, recalling as they went what they had seen and heard about the
vultures tracking the wounded or sickly game, and it was evident that
the bird they had seen was on the track of the wounded eland.

An hour's tramp decided the point, Coffee and Chicory coming up with the
wounded beast, defending itself with its horns against the attacks of
the vultures that were collecting round and making furious darts at its
eyes.

A merciful bullet ended the poor creature's miseries, and as the animal
was so fine it was decided to load up with as much as they could
conveniently carry, then place sticks about the carcase, and leave it to
be fetched in by Peter and Dirk with a yoke of oxen.

All this was done, and they were about half-way back when, to their
utter astonishment, a party of about half-a-dozen blacks, armed with
assegais and clubs, rushed out from behind some bushes, and began to
advance with fierce and threatening gestures.

"I say, Dick, what's to be done?" said Jack.  "Shall we throw down the
meat and run away?"

"No," said Dick, who looked very pale.

"Shall we offer them our guns and ammunition if they will let us go?"

"No," replied Dick.  "If we do that they will strip us to the skin."

"What shall we do then?"

"Show fight," said Dick.  "I don't want to, but we must."

"But they are big fighting men, and we are only boys," said Jack.

"But we are English boys, and they are only savages," retorted Dick; "so
come along."

Meanwhile the Matabele warriors--for such it afterwards proved they
were--kept on advancing, shouting savagely, while Coffee and Chicory had
been watching their masters attentively, waiting to see what course they
would take.

They took their dues from the behaviour of the young Englishmen, and in
place of cowering behind, they ran to the front, flourishing their
kiris, striking the ground with them, and shouting in their own tongue
the while.

"Out of the way, black dogs!" cried Coffee.  "Let my lords the big
lion-killers with their wonder-guns, come by."

Feeling that they must put on a bold front, the two boys advanced with
rifles ready; and, seeing this, and hearing the words of Coffee and
Chicory, which they understood, the black warriors stopped short, spoke
to one another for a few moments, and then, changing their tone, began
to beg for some of the meat.

"Say they're very hungry.  Want meat," said Chicory.

Dick spoke to Jack, and then told Coffee to be the interpreter of their
wishes, explaining to him what to say.

Coffee jauntily flourished his kiri, and with a bold, defiant bearing,
marched close up to the warriors, and showing them the scars made by the
lion's claws, told them that they were made by the biggest lion in the
world, and his young masters went and killed it with their wonder-guns.

"And now the young kings say you may go and eat the big eland they shot,
and fill yourselves full."

The men set up a shout, flourished their weapons, and began to dance,
after which they threw themselves upon the ground, as if they wanted to
make themselves into black door-mats, Dick said; and ended by taking up
and turning back on the little hunting-party's trail till they found the
eland.

"Yes," said Mr Rogers, as they related their experience; "you were
quite right.  These people seem to me more like children than men, and a
good bold front will generally make them respect the white man;
especially, my boys, if he is firm and, above all, perfectly just."



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

THE VISIT TO THE BLACK KING.

The good dinner of eland, and the rest the oxen and horses had had
amidst abundant grass and water, made all ready for the afternoon trek.
Several natives had been to the little camp; and as they would be
expected at the king's town, the oxen were in-spanned, the horses
mounted to make the party look imposing, and they moved off, keeping
along the open ground about half a mile from the river's bank.

At the end of a few miles they came in sight of the town, a collection
of thatched huts in the midst of some trees, evidently a sort of summer
residence, for they could see on the right a couple of men, busily tying
together the uprights to form a fresh hut.

There were plenty of people about, but no one seemed to take notice of
their approach, till suddenly the firing of guns made all start and
halt, so as to be prepared for attack.

The General, however, warned Mr Rogers that it was only friendly
firing, for the king was evidently coming to meet them; and directly
after there was a little procession seen to be on the way.

Under these circumstances Mr Rogers drew up his little force, every one
being well armed, and with the horses that were not mounted held by the
head.

Then they waited.

"Don't laugh, my boys," said Mr Rogers, as the procession drew nearer.
"He is a ruler over his people, so deserves respect.  If you ridicule
what will no doubt seem very absurd, we shall make an enemy instead of a
friend."

"We'll try and behave rightly, father," said Dick quietly; and so both
he and his brother did, but it was hard work.

His Majesty King Moseti, had evidently determined to impress the white
men with a sense of his greatness; so he came attended by his band and
body-guard, while he himself wore his regal robes, which consisted of an
ordinary English Oxford-cut blue coat and waistcoat, with white flannel
cricketing trousers, and a straw hat.  He had on patent leather boots,
and carried a handsome ebony walking-stick; but his majesty, probably on
account of the heat of the climate, wore no shirt.  He had, however, a
couple of rows of common glass beads round his neck, walked with his
left-hand in his pocket, and stared about him as if the visitors were
not of the slightest consequence, so that his appearance was
sufficiently imposing.

"Jist look at 'em now," said Dinny; "call themselves men, and to go
about like that, widout a bit o' rag to their backs, and only a scrap of
a skin apron hanging before and behind.  Oh, go along now wid ye, ye
ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

"Hold your tongue, Dinny," cried Mr Rogers.

"Certainly, sor," said Dinny.  "An' murther, hark at the music.  Hadn't
I better go and take the gun away from that naygur as keeps letting it
off, sor?  He'll be shuting some one directly."

"Well yes, Dinny," said his master, to Dinny's great astonishment; "go
and take away his gun.  We'll go on.  Do you hear?"

"Shure, sor, he mightn't like it if I did," said Dinny.

"Then stop where you are, and don't brag," said Mr Rogers sharply.

"Hark at that now," muttered Dinny.

Meanwhile the king and his court was approaching, with one of the
body-guard loading and firing an old musket in the air as fast as he
could.  In front came a couple of men, hugging what at first sight
looked like cannons, but which proved to be drums, about four feet long,
secured round their necks by a skin strap, and which drums they bestrode
as they beat them with their hands.

Next came a couple more with evidently the kettle-drums, hung from their
necks and beaten, like an Indian tom-tom, at both ends.  Then the chief
musician came with a large wooden harmonicon hung from his neck.  This
instrument, the marimba, he beat with a couple of round hammers,
bringing forth a barbarous, modulated kind of music, not unlike that of
the marrow-bones and cleavers of the London butcher-boys, as given by
them on old-fashioned state occasions.

The instrument took Dick's attention a good deal, and he saw that it,
and another in the band, were formed by fastening so many dry hollow
gourds in a frame, over which were placed a graduated scale of pieces of
hard wood, which emitted a musical metallic sound when struck.

There was another drummer, who worked hard to earn his salary, whatever
it might be; and then came the body-guard, armed with axes, assegais,
and kiris, one and all looking, as Dinny said, as if they were the
finest fellows under the sun.

"Shure, and I'd bate the whole lot wid one stick," he muttered; and then
aloud,--

"Oh, the dirty haythen; what a noise to call music!  Faix, I'd pay
something if Teddy Flaherty was here to give 'em one lilt o' the pipes.
They'd know then what music was."

The marimba players beat their instruments more loudly as they
approached the waggon, the drummers drubbed the skins of their drums,
the man behind fired his gun, the horses snorted and grew uneasy, and
Rough'un threw up his head and uttered a most dismal howl, tucked his
tail between his legs, and ran off as hard as he could go; an example
followed by Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus, as far as the howling was
concerned, the chains by which they were secured to the waggon
preventing any running away.  They, however, made up for it by barking
with all their might.

The king seemed to take it as a compliment, for he came up, shook hands,
and condescended to drink a glass of wine, and to eat some sweet
biscuits and sugar-sticks, speaking in pretty good English, which he had
picked up from the missionaries, and ending by inviting Mr Rogers and
his sons to dinner.

The present of a sporting knife at the end of his visit quite won his
heart, and he seemed never weary of opening and shutting the blades,
pulling out the toothpick, tweezers, corkscrew, and lancet, with which
it was provided.  After this he took his departure in the same style as
that in which he came.

"Well, we may as well pay him a barbarous compliment, boys," said Mr
Rogers.  "Fire off all your barrels at once.  Now, make ready! fire!"

Six shots went off in rapid succession, followed by six more from Mr
Rogers' revolver.

The result was different from what was intended, for, evidently under
the impression that they were being attacked in the rear, the royal
party made a rush to escape, the king heading the flight, and, like his
warriors, getting on pretty well; but the marimba players fell over
their instruments, and the drummers got into worse difficulties still.

All at once, as there was no more firing, the king found it was a false
alarm, and came back laughing, to bang his musicians about with his
cane, and call them cowards.  After which he came back to the waggon and
asked to see the revolver let off, flinching very little, and then
strutting off before his people, as much as to say, "See what a fine
brave fellow I am!"

"Look at that now," said Dinny complacently.  "Why of all the cowards I
ever see--"

"I say, Dinny," said Dick, "I wonder whether the king's afraid of
lions?"

"Shure an' I'd go an' ask him, Masther Dick, if I was you," said Dinny
sulkily; and the subject, a very sore one with Dinny, was dropped.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

THE GENERAL IS OVERCOME BY GIN--A TRAP.

A very quiet-looking black came up directly after, to say that the king
had sent him to show the party where to camp: and he led the way to a
pleasant little grove, where there was a pool of water, and ample grass
for the cattle; and after the new arrivals were settled down--far too
near the "naygurs" to satisfy Dinny's sensitive nature, a return visit
was paid to the king, who readily gave his permission for the party to
hunt when and where they pleased in his dominions.

This was satisfactory, and it was determined that no time should be lost
in getting amongst the large game, but not until they had had a shot or
two at the large hippopotami, which were abundant in the marshes about
the river.

Still they would be obliged to remain for a few days at their present
camp out of civility to the king, who, they found, would be perfectly
willing to accept a few donations of meat, the supply kept up by his own
hunters being intermittent, so that his majesty had frequently to go
without.

All the same, though, the king's hunters were ingenious and clever in
their schemes, as Mr Rogers and his sons found out before many hours
had passed.

The king presented his visitors with fried fish and Kaffir beer in a
calabash, and as everything seemed very clean and satisfactory, Dick and
Jack made no scruple about eating heartily.  After this they had to be
admired and have their heads patted by the queens, who declared that
they were capital boys.

At last they returned to the waggon, where, there being no necessity to
put up a fence to keep off lions, so near the town, the rest of the
evening was spent in a thorough good clean up and oiling of the guns.

The General was absent, or he would have willingly helped; but Coffee
and Chicory said that he had gone off to get birds, so it was concluded
that he would be back before long.

The oxen were all secured to the dissel-boom and trek-tow; and the
horses were haltered up to the wheels, everything being made safe and
sound.  Then a fire was lit, and preparations made for passing the
night; but still the General did not come back.

His two boys, however, did not seem to be in the slightest degree
uncomfortable about his absence, saying that he would be back before
long; so, as they knew their father's ways better than he, Mr Rogers
concluded that there was no cause for anxiety, for the Zulu warrior
would return in his own good time.

Dick and Chicory kept the first watch, and then called Mr Rogers, who
relieved them, with Peter.  But there was nothing to report, only that
there had been a great deal of drumming and tomtoming up in the town,
and that when the music and singing had ceased, the hippopotami on the
river's brink had commenced roaring, snorting, splashing, and making
noises that were quite startling in the silence of the night.

Fully expecting to see the Zulu warrior return every minute, Mr Rogers
replenished the fire, and sat listening to the monsters on the river's
bank, and wishing that he were lying ensconced there in some sheltered
position where he could get a shot at one of the huge beasts; but that
was a pleasure to come, and one which he hoped to give his sons.

His watch went by, and then Jack and Coffee were roused up to relieve
him, and being weary Mr Rogers was glad to find his blanket once more,
lying till he was roused by Dinny for breakfast.

"Has the General come back?" asked Mr Rogers, as he joined Dick and
Jack.

"No, father, and the boys are getting anxious about him.  They're gone
off to find him, and I am expecting them back."

So said Dick, and as he spoke the two Zulu boys came running up in a
terrible state of excitement.

"Want our father," they exclaimed angrily.  "Father killed.  Come and
find."

There was something so tragic in the words of the boys that Mr Rogers
and his sons seized their guns, and telling Coffee and Chicory to lead,
they went straight for the forest-land towards which Coffee said he had
seen his father go.

Coffee was quite right, for the General had started off in this
direction, assegai in hand, and a kiri in his skin belt, partly to see
what hunting capabilities the land possessed, partly to try and obtain a
few birds or a small gazelle.

He went straight off to the forest, and with all the instinct of a good
hunter he examined the spoor of the animals going to and from the water,
and also made himself acquainted with the drinking-spots, taking in at a
glance the suitability of the places for a hunter to lie in ambush, and
then he went on once more.

To his great satisfaction, he found in addition to the spoor of
antelopes of all kind, those of the hippopotamus near the river,
elephants, giraffes, and the rhinoceros.  There, too, he found an
abundance of footprints of buffalo, so that there would be ample game
for his masters to exercise their skill.

But he was not satisfied yet, and regardless at last of the coming
darkness, he went on with the instincts of the true hunter who has spent
the greater part of his life in the woods, searching here, examining
there, and he grew more and more elate and satisfied.

He had obtained nothing for the waggon larder, but that did not trouble
him, as he had made so many satisfactory discoveries; and at last, just
as the moon was shining brilliantly through the trees, he entered a
broad drink-trail, one used by the animals on the way through the forest
to the river, and prepared to make the best of his way back.

The course was pretty open, and he paused for a moment to listen whether
he could hear anything coming; but all was perfectly still, and he
started again, increasing his walk to a trot over the well-trodden
track, and this trot to a greater speed, when all at once he felt the
ground giving way beneath his feet, and instinctively making a spring
forward, he tried to clear the hollow; but he had no power in his start,
and he only touched the farther side, and then fell with a crash through
the screening brushwood into a deep hole.

He fell so heavily that for the moment he was stunned, and lay there
perfectly helpless, listening to a furious snarling howl, and feeling
the scuffling and twining about of a number of reptiles which his fall
had disturbed.

The Zulu knew well enough where he was, and that he had been unfortunate
enough to leap into one of the many pitfalls some tribes dig in the
woods to capture large game.

He knew exactly how such a pit would be dug, widening out from the top
to the bottom, so that the creatures which fell in would be unable to
escape; and he understood the hideous snarling of some beast, for as he
cautiously rose to a standing position the moonlight showed him, impaled
upon the horribly sharp stake formed by fining down a good-sized tree
and planting it in the bottom, a hideously wolfish-looking hyaena,
which, less fortunate than himself, had fallen upon the sharp spike,
which had gone completely through the wretched animal's body, leaving it
writhing, snarling, and clawing the air with its paws in its vain
efforts to get free.

It was a terrible neighbour to have in such close proximity, and for the
moment the General thought of thrusting it through and killing it out of
its misery; but his assegais had quitted his hand in his fall, and to
have found them again meant to search amidst the broken twigs and bushes
at the bottom of the pit, where he could feel and hear the snakes.

Even as he thought all this he could feel the cold scaly bodies of the
reptiles gliding over his feet, and against his bare legs; and hence he
was obliged to stand perfectly motionless, lest--though he had escaped
when he fell, his sudden dash having alarmed them, no doubt--the
slightest movement of his feet might be followed by a bite, for amongst
so many as he could feel there were, some were certain to be of a deadly
nature.

So there he stood, unarmed, with the serpents gliding about the bottom
of the pit, the moonlight glinting in through the trees, and only a foot
or two from his face that hideous snarling animal, which snapped at him
angrily, evidently looking upon him as being the cause of its
sufferings.  Even if he had dared to move it would have been very
doubtful whether the General could have clambered out of the cunningly
contrived pitfall; but situated as he was, and surrounded by such
dangerous enemies, the Zulu made a virtue of necessity, and stoically
determined to wait for daylight before making any attempt to escape.

But all the same it was a terrible position, and required all the
firmness and nerve of a strong man to stand there patiently, feeling the
hideous little serpents gliding about his bare feet, and listening to
the hideous howlings of the hyaena.

But the longest and most painful nights have an end, and in due time the
day broke, and the Zulu began to consider how he could get out.  With
the broad daylight he saw the wisdom he had practised in waiting, for
several very dangerous serpents were amongst those which had fallen in,
and their number was great enough to make even him, a thorough hunter,
shudder.

But the General was not destined to suffer much longer; soon after
sunrise he fancied he heard a well-known call, and then there was no
doubt about it; the call was repeated, and he sent forth a stentorian
reply.

These calls and answers soon brought Coffee and Chicory to the mouth of
the pitfall, closely followed by Mr Rogers and the boys, and amongst
them by help of their guns the unfortunate General reached the track in
safety, and leaving the hyaena dead, they set off back to the waggon,
the General congratulating himself on having escaped from a terrible
death.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

THE KING'S HUNTING-PARTY.

There was no mistaking the joy of Coffee and Chicory at finding their
father safe and sound, and they showed it by performing some most
ridiculous antics, making even the stern warrior smile with
satisfaction.

Mr Rogers also noticed it a good deal, and from that time the two Zulu
boys stood far higher in his estimation than of old.

They had a visit at the camp that morning from the king, one of the
first of whose questions, as he partook of a sugar-stick with great
gusto, was, had they heard the hippopotami shouting in the night, and
were they frightened?

Both Dick and Jack declared that they were not in the least alarmed; and
thereupon the king, who seemed to get on far better with them than with
their father, proposed that they should come up the little river, and
see his warriors hunt the great river-horse.

Mr Rogers consented with a nod; and taking their rifles, the boys
accompanied the king back to the town, where, orders being given, his
majesty's big canoe was prepared, and half-a-dozen great hunters, armed
with throwing-spears, each entered a canoe of his own--a frail
rickety-looking affair, that threatened to turn over at any moment, even
with the weight of one man, but which its occupant sent through the
water at a famous rate, by his clever management of a long paddle.

The king's boat was none too safe a structure, and the boys laughed the
one at the other as they took their seats before their host.

"If we are overturned, Jack, make for the shore at once, and try and
save your rifle."

"To be sure, Dick.  But how about the crocodiles?"

"And the hippos, Jack?"

"Feel afraid?"

"No.  Do you?"

"Not a bit!"

The king seemed a little nervous about the boys' rifles when he saw the
deadly weapons in their hands, and he asked if they were safe.

"A deal safer than your boat, Mr King," said Dick, laughing.

"Yes, that they are," said Jack, giving the boat a sway to and fro.

Then the king laughed, and the boys laughed again, and distributed some
more acid-rock sticks, of which his majesty highly approved.  Then he
gave the word, the rowers dipped their paddles, and six men propelled
the canoe pretty swiftly.

"I say, Dick," whispered Jack, "black kings are not such bad fellows
after all, are they?"

"Not at all.  I like this one.  But don't whisper; it will make him
think we are talking about him.  How many cartridges have you got?"

"Twenty four.  How many have you?"

"Two dozen."

The boys laughed and compared their cartridges, when the king, who had
felt suspicious of their whispering, also smiled, and took great
interest in the breech-loading guns, exhibiting quite a childish delight
in seeing the breech opened, and in being able to look right through the
shining barrels.  After which he had the pleasure of thrusting in the
cartridges with his own fingers; but when they were closed he expressed
his opinion that they were not safe.

Meanwhile, after being propelled for some distance up the great river,
the canoes were turned off into a side stream of no great width, and
whose sluggish waters serpentined amidst muddy beds of reeds, with a
palm-tree raising its ornamental fronds here and there to relieve the
monotony of the scene.

The canes and reeds seemed to swarm with ducks and other water-fowl; and
here and there, riding in the calm reaches, they saw for the first time
that curious water-bird, the darter, swimming with its body nearly
submerged, and its long, snaky neck ready to dart its keen bill with
almost lightning rapidity at the tiny fish upon which it fed.

"Oh! what a splendid place for a day's fishing, Dick!" whispered Jack.
"This place must swarm, I know.  I wish I had brought the tackle."

"There's something more interesting than fishing to see," replied Dick.
"Look! look!"

He pointed to the side of the river, a hundred yards ahead, where a
huge, clumsily-formed hippopotamus slowly waded into the water and sank
out of sight.

"What a brute!" said Dick.  "Why, he could upset us.  I say, King
Moseti, couldn't one of those fellows upset the boat?"

"Yes," said the king; "then all swim ashore if he no catchee."

"That's pleasant," said Dick.  "But look, Jack! what's that?"

He pointed ahead to something black, seen just above the surface of the
water, and several feet in front of it two prominences; then two more
appeared slowly above the water.  There was a sort of gasping sigh, and
a couple of little puffs like those emitted by a small steam-engine, and
the black knobs and the black surface disappeared.

"What a monster!" cried Jack.

"Now going to begin," said the king.

But they paddled on another half-mile before they really began.

They were in a very winding part of the river now, the serpentine curves
being so sharp that the banks seemed to be a succession of muddy points
and reedy bays.

On one of these points a large, broad-nosed hippo was standing, looking
as shapeless as if it had been roughly modelled in mud, and set upon
four legs of the shortest and squattiest kind.  Nearer to them, and in
the water, several of the great amphibious creatures were playing about,
raising their heads occasionally, sometimes only their eyes and
nostrils, which the boys could see opened and shut like a valve, to
admit air and keep out the water.

The canoes now stopped, and it was not a very pleasant feeling, to be
aware that beneath them, and all around, these monstrous beasts were
walking about at the bottom of the muddy river, ready to rise up at
will, and upset the canoes, or perhaps take a piece out with their
teeth.

"Now going to begin," said the king.

And in obedience to a signal made with his stick, three of the little
canoes went in advance, their occupants managing the paddles with one
hand, their assegais with the other, and gliding cautiously over the
surface of the river, to the attack of one of the great hippopotami.

"I wish they hadn't got such long names," said Jack, who was getting
deeply interested; "it's quite a mouthful."

"Never mind, they've got good broad backs and heads," said Dick.  "I
say, Jack, look at that one!  What a mouth!  It's like a great leather
portmanteau being opened."

"Or a big carpet-bag," replied Jack; "and what teeth!"

They were indeed monstrous, and as the animal raised its ears and eyes
above the water, and just displayed a portion of its prominent nostrils,
it was plain to see why the ancients called them river-horses; for, seen
like this, the head bore a remarkable resemblance to that of some large
horse.

"Now look!" said the king, who then started, for the boys involuntarily
cocked their rifles.  For one of the canoes, with the hunter therein,
approached the great beast just named, the hunter standing up to work
his paddle, and holding his assegai poised for throwing, while the huge
brute upon the point of land where he stood out as if displaying his
mighty proportions, kept uttering grunts of dissatisfaction.

Just as the canoe approached the beast in the water, it allowed itself
slowly to subside; but it rose again directly after, a few yards farther
off, when, giving his paddle a sweep, the hunter poised and hurled his
assegai with such force, and so true an aim, that it was seen sticking
in the hippo, just where the neck joins the shoulder.

The moment he had thrown, the hunter stooped and picked up another
spear; but even as he did so the hippopotamus made a dash at his canoe,
bit at the side, shook it, and the man was precipitated into the water.

In another instant the hippopotamus would have had him in his jaws; but
now was the time for the other hunters, whose canoes skimmed over the
surface side by side, and before the animal could reach the man in the
water, first one and then another spear was hurled, taking effect in its
neck.

This took off the monster's attention for a few moments; just sufficient
to enable the owner of the overturned canoe to get ashore, right his
boat, pour out all the water, and once more return to the attack.

Meanwhile, the other three canoes had gone into the _melee_, each man
sending a spear into the neck or shoulder of the huge hippopotamus
whenever he pressed one of the other hunters too hard.

This went on for some time, with the monster growing weaker in his
resistance, the plan adopted being to weary him out by constant assault;
and all this time the great fellow on the mud point had looked on,
giving a fierce grunt now and then, and at times prolonging this grunt
into a deafening bellow.  He evidently mightily disapproved of what was
being done to his fellow; but it did not seem to enter into his brain
how he was to help him.

The idea seemed to come at last; for, turning his head towards the
king's canoe, he opened his mouth to its fullest extent displaying the
great worn-down tusks, and uttered a tremendous roar, that can only be
rendered on paper by a repetition of the words, "Hawgnph! hawgnph!" sent
through a huge waterpipe, by the blast of a steam-engine of mighty
power.

This done he closed his mouth with a tremendous chop, and rushed into
the water and disappeared.

"What a brute!" cried Dick.

"He's coming right for us, I know," cried his brother.  "You see if he
don't come up close here."

The king seemed to expect it too, and he gave orders to his men; but
before the large canoe could be got under weigh the monster rose quite
close to them, opened its huge jaws, its little pig-like eyes glowing
with fury, and took a piece out of the canoe.

Half the paddlers leaped overboard in their dread, as the monster opened
its huge jaws for a second bite, this time close to where the two boys
and the king were seated, the latter seeming paralysed at the imminence
of the danger.

No word was spoken, one will seeming to guide both Dick and Jack, who,
without raising their rifles to their shoulders, rested them
pistol-fashion upon the side of the canoe, and fired straight into the
monster's mouth.

There was a tremendous clap-to of his jaws, but not upon the side of the
canoe; and then the huge head slowly sank down out of sight, as a couple
of fresh cartridges were thrust into the rifles.

But now there was a fresh danger, water was coming in over the side
where the piece was taken out; and it took a great deal of shouting, and
no little help with the spare paddles, given by his majesty and his two
visitors, to get the canoe run aground before she could sink.

Wet legs were the worst misfortune, and as they leaped ashore the men
set to, hauled up the canoe, and emptied out the water, and in an hour
they had sewn on a thick skin so as to temporarily keep out the water at
the side, thin canes answering for needle and thread, after which they
embarked.

It was none too soon; for as the last man got on board and the canoe was
pushed off, there was a loud snorting and rustling in the reeds, and a
hippopotamus rushed at them, giving the lads such an opportunity that
they both sent a bullet into it as it entered the water, and they saw it
no more.

Meanwhile the six hunters had not only killed their hippo, but had seen
the monster shot by the boys aground, quite dead, upon one of the sandy
bits of land, and they had steered their own trophy to its side, where
they were busy drawing out the spears with which it bristled, as the
king's canoe came up.

A rope was made fast to each of the monsters then, and they were towed
down stream and out into the big river, where, upon their reaching the
town, an attack was made upon the great beasts, and the flesh hewed off
amidst a great deal of shouting, singing, and drumming, the boys feeling
no great temptation to eat hippopotamus, but being proud enough to
display the head of the monster they had shot--a head that was even
startling in its size and weight.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

A ROW UP STREAM, AND A RUN DOWN.

Naturally attracted by his sons' success, Mr Rogers agreed to go up the
river with the king on an expedition to last a couple of days, during
which they were to shoot hippopotamus, crocodile, and perhaps get a shot
at a giraffe; and in due time a couple of large canoes were got ready,
and in one was placed a tub of spirit for curiosities, and a chest to
hold the skins of any choice birds that might be shot.

In the other Mr Rogers had his guns and ammunition, with necessary
stores in a chest; and so as to superintend and direct the men, it was
settled that the king should go in one boat, Mr Rogers and Dinny in the
other, each boat having four stout rowers to handle the long paddles
they used.

All in good time they started, greatly to Dinny's disgust; for he felt
certain that the canoe would sooner or later overturn, and that he
should be shot right into the mouth of one or other of the crocodiles.

"They'll know fast enough, Masther Dick," he said piteously; "and you'll
see if they don't come following the canoe like sharks afther a boat.
Oh, murther, it was a sad day whin I took sarvice with the masther."

Dinny took care, however, that Mr Rogers should not hear any of his
plaints, and in due time the canoes started, and went well for the first
part of the journey, the men paddling and singing, and a halt being made
for midday and evening meal, which was made savoury with the large ducks
that abounded in the reed beds, close in shore.  Two or three good shots
sufficed to provide enough for the whole party, and the men were in high
glee, laughing and chatting as they picked the birds, which Dinny
roasted before a good fire.

At night they halted and drew up the canoes, proceeding afterwards to
make a couple of large tents of reeds, which they cleverly cut, tied in
bundles, and secured together--no mean shelter in a journey through the
wilds; but Dinny found terrible fault with the arrangements, and had to
be severely snubbed to bring him to a more patient state.

They started in good time the next morning, so as to be early at the
ground where the king promised game; but here the character of the
country had altered, and in place of the swift, smoothly-flowing river,
they had entered upon a part where it was broken up with rapids, long
ranges of rocks stretching across the river like weirs and keeping the
waters back, but making a series of rapids, down which the river rushed
at a furious rate.

"Shure, sor, my mother's name is--"

"Hold your tongue, you foolish fellow," cried Mr Rogers, as Dinny half
rose in dismay, and asked if the boats were going up there.

"Shure, sor, I only wanted ye to know my pore mother's direction, so as
ye could sind her word I was dhrowned in the big river out in Afrikky."

"Will they be able to take us up there, king?" said Mr Rogers.  "Hadn't
we better land, and let them drag the canoes round?"

The king laughed, and clapped his hands for the men to bend to their
task, when they made the paddles flash in and out of the water, but it
was soon evident that they would not surmount the rapids.

The boat Mr Rogers was in got half-way up, and then was carried back at
a tremendous speed, being swept round by an eddy beneath some trees, to
one of the branches of which Mr Rogers held on, and so steadied the
canoe, while a stalwart black thrust down his paddle from the bows, and
kept the great vessel steady.

Just then Dinny, who followed his master's actions as nearly as he
could, laid hold of a goodly branch from the stern; but instead of
taking the boat with him he thrust it away, and the next moment he was
hanging from his branch, shouting "Masther!" and "Masther, dear!" with
all his might.

"Faix and I knowed it would come to it," he yelled, as the branch swayed
up and down, and his legs went lower and lower in the water.  "There's a
great crocodivil coming.  Masther, darlin', bring back the boat."

This was done at last, but the black could scarcely paddle for laughing,
and when the boat was under him poor Dinny hardly dared let go.  He let
himself subside in the bottom at last, and was wiping the perspiration
from his face, and squeezing the water from his legs, when a shout from
the big man in the bows drew Mr Rogers' attention, and he ran forward
to see that the other canoe was upset, and that the men were being
pitched into the rapids.

For they had made three efforts to get up, each time being driven back;
and at the fourth they were so much weakened and so weary, that when
about half-way up they wavered, the stream caught the head, twisted it
broadside, and, in a moment, king, subjects, box, and barrel were tilted
out, and all went floating rapidly down the stream.

The stalwart black in the bows needed no telling, and the boat Mr
Rogers was in was sent down and across the stream below the rapids,
picking up the king first, and then man after man, till Dinny, who was
emptying the water out of his boots, declared that the boat was too
full, and must sink.

It did not, however, and the overturned boat being guided ashore, it was
soon emptied and afloat again, with its crew looking none the worse,
for, as Dinny said, it did not take their clothes long to dry.

The king was of Dinny's opinion, for his garments of English make being
very clingy and uncomfortable, he imitated the uniform of his subjects,
and as everything that had floated out had been recovered, they were
once more ready for an attack upon the rapids.

But the king said no; they wanted more rowers; and Dinny uttered a loud
"Hurroo!" as the canoes were allowed to float back towards the town,
where they at last landed, to Dinny's great delight, safe and sound.



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

WARM WORK IN THE WILDS.

"It was all through taking you, Dinny, that father had such bad sport, I
know," said Dick.

"Shure the ongratitude of the human being is wonderful," said Dinny,
addressing nobody.  "Here, I save his parint's life by keeping him from
going any farther and getting himself dhrowned."

"Ah, well, Dinny, you're not going to be drowned any more," said Dick;
"father has decided to go on with the waggon to-morrow."

"Back home?" cried Dinny, slapping the shrunken leg of his trousers.

"No: farther away; after elephant and rhinoceros."

"Bad luck to the illiphant and rhinoceros!" cried Dinny.  "But anyhow,
we shall be on dhry land."

The king was disappointed at the party going so soon; but a present of a
bottle of sweets, and some ammunition, brought smiles into his face--
smiles that grew broader as he heard that they would stop if possible at
the town as they came back.

They started at sunrise, so as to get a good trek over before the heat
of the day should commence, and with oxen well rested and in excellent
condition they got over the ground pretty swiftly for an oxen-team.  The
horses too were fresh, and so full of excitement and fun that the dogs
were taken, after the particular mountain to which they intended to make
had been marked down; and the boys had a good canter, Coffee and Chicory
thoroughly enjoying the excitement, and keeping up with the two cobs
with the greatest ease.

The mountain was reached in due time, a midday halt indulged in, and
after a good long rest they continued their journey, so as to get well
beyond reach of Moseti's town, and away from the interruptions that
might have resulted in their being too near the king.  But the General
had no intention of going far after the fine promise he had seen for
game; and two days' march away from the town he proposed that they
should halt, and make a good strong kraal for the horses in the place he
selected.

It was admirably adapted for the purpose, there being an abundance of
thorns, with a steep rocky escarpment to act as the back of the kraal.
Besides this, there was a spring of beautifully clear water gushing from
amongst the rocks, which rose right up here into mountains.

The General's advice had always proved so good that the halt was called,
and quite a fortification of thorns made, large enough to protect the
cattle.

The fire was started again, and as much care taken as if they had been
in an enemy's country.  And so they soon found that they were, though
their enemies were not near.

The very first night at the new camp they were visited by lions, which
were audacious enough, in spite of the fire, to pretty well frighten the
oxen into a stampede; but they were ultimately calmed down; while the
poor horses suffered so that they were haltered up to the side of the
waggon, with their heads so near the tilt that they could hear their
masters' voices; and this had the effect of calming them, when the lions
were most daring.

Snakes too proved to be more plentiful here than they had been found
since they left the glen at the head of the valley, where Jack had his
imaginary bite.  They were principally the puff-adder, which would come
out from among the stones to get within reach of the fire, where it
would lie and bask, quite regardless of the presence of the people; and
several of these creatures had to pay dearly for their temerity.

The day after they had settled here they found another unpleasant
neighbour, in the shape of a boa, this being the third of these large
serpents they had met with in their journey.

The General saw the creature up in the mountain amongst the stones,
about a quarter of a mile from the camp, and came back to announce his
discovery.

There was magic to the boys in the word snake, and catching up their
guns, they followed the Zulu up the rocks--quite a stiff climb in the
hot sunshine--and there upon a little sandy plain lay the monster,
knotted together, apparently asleep.

They had been afraid to bring the dogs lest one of them should be
crushed by the great boa, and now, as it lay so passive, they had to
attempt some plan for rousing it so as to make it raise its head for a
shot; and on being warned of what was wanted, the General offered to go
up and rouse the creature with the handle of his assegai.

But this Mr Rogers would not permit, bidding the Zulu throw stones at
the reptile.

This the General did, the second he pitched being so well-aimed that it
struck the serpent right amongst its thickest folds, when, in an
instant, the creature was all in motion, with its scales glittering in
the sun, and its head raised in angry menace, though it did not seem to
see who had disturbed it, and ended by striking fiercely at the
offending stone.

It would have been easy enough to have shot the creature now, but every
one was so much interested in watching its actions that they forebore,
though their guns were presented, ready to fire at the slightest
indication of danger.

The serpent writhed, and turned itself over and over, and seemed too
angry to settle itself down again to rest: but at the end of a few
minutes the warmth of the sun, and the sand upon which it was gliding
about, were so pleasant, that it coiled itself up once more, laying its
head over two or three of the coils in the centre, and then appeared to
be settling down once more to sleep.

Another stone from the General threw it into violent agitation once
more; the body writhed about upon the sand, the tail lashed it, the
broad head rose up with a loud angry hiss, and began to undulate and
menace the party; and when the General took a step or two forward, as if
to strike it, the serpent made darts, as if measuring the distance
before trying to throw round him a coil of its muscular body.

So menacing did the creature grow at last that Mr Rogers gave the word,
and there was a rapid double shot, the reptile falling to Dick's gun,
and lying shot through the head, and writhing upon the sand.

This serpent measured just over twenty feet in length, and its girth was
enormous; so thick and heavy was it that the amount of muscular power in
its body must have been tremendous.  So rapid and graceful was every
motion, and so full of strength was it even now, with its head
shattered, and when it might reasonably have been looked upon as dead,
that it was dangerous to approach within reach of its coils, Dick having
a very narrow escape.

They worked hard now collecting the lovely birds that abounded in the
forest, and the gloriously tinted beetles and butterflies, Coffee and
Chicory having by this time grown invaluable as collectors.

Then there was the regular hunting to do for supplying the needs of the
camps, and this generally fell to the lot of Dick and Jack, both of whom
were wondrous expert on horseback, as they had grown to be with a rifle.

"But mind," Mr Rogers had said, "no wanton slaughter.  Kill as many
dangerous creatures as you meet, but only shoot the innocent game as we
need it for food."

The boys kept to their word, and many a tempting shot was given up,
because they felt that it was not necessary, the larder being stocked.

Game was abundant here, but though they could have shot eland, koodoo,
blesbok, gemsbok, quagga, hartebeeste, zebra, and gnu, they had not seen
elephant or giraffe, and these latter were in the boys' minds
continually.

"Well," said Mr Rogers, "I'll take the glass and have a ride out with
you to-day.  Perhaps we may have better luck.  We must have a skin or
two of the giraffe to take back."

"And we haven't seen a buffalo yet, father," cried Jack.  "Isn't game
scarce?"

"Go and look at the footprints by the pool, my boy, and answer that
question for yourself," said Mr Rogers, smiling.

But Jack did not go.  He knew that he had asked a foolish question, so
he passed it off.

The day was wonderfully hot, and quietly as they went, they felt
scorched, while Pompey and Caesar, who were taken as a treat, ran with
their tongues lolling out, and stopped to drink at every pool they
passed.

The route chosen was a different one this day, leading over a wide
undulating plain covered with an enormous thickness of rough herbage,
and dotted here and there with bushes.  It was just the place to expect
to find a lion--offering the beast abundant chances for concealment; but
after being out four hours, they had seen nothing but antelopes, at
which they did not care to fire, since it would only have been to add a
fresh skin to their collection, and glut some of the vultures flying
slowly overhead.  The glass was used again and again in vain, and at
last, so as to cover a wider view, Mr Rogers rode away about a mile to
the left, bidding his sons mind the land-marks so as to be able to reach
the waggon again.

Dick and Jack did not separate, and after a glance round to see if they
could make out any game, they resigned themselves to their fate, and
rode gently along.

"I'm hotter and more tired than I have ever been since we came out,"
cried Jack.

"So am I," said Dick.  "Let's sling our guns over our shoulders.  Oh,
isn't it hot."

"If we sling our rifles we shall come upon a lion, or something big."

"Well, let us.  I'm too hot to shoot, and he'd be too hot to attack.
What does that little bird keep flying to us for, and then going away?"

"Got a nest somewhere here, and afraid we shall take its young."

"Perhaps so," said Dick lazily.  "No, it isn't.  I know what it is," he
cried excitedly, forgetting the heat and his idle languor.

"Well, what is it?" said Jack.  "I know.  It's a bird."

"It's the honey-guide," cried Dick, watching the twittering little thing
as it flew to him and then back, trying hard to draw their attention,
and to get them to follow it.

"I don't believe it would take us to any honey if we went after it."

"Well, let's try," said Dick.  "Where's father?"

"Oh, right over there: a mile away.  You can just see him."

"Well, we'll follow the bird," cried Dick.  "I should like some honey.
It would be quite a treat."

"Come along, then," said Jack.  "I'll do anything if it isn't too much
trouble.  Come along.  What's old Pomp found?"

They turned their horses, and were about to ride after the honey-guide,
when Pompey suddenly began baying furiously at a clump of very high
ferns and bushes, and Caesar went and joined him.

"Get your gun ready, Jack," said Dick excitedly.  "It's a lion."

"Not it," replied Dick, "or those dogs wouldn't face it as they do.
They've only found a lizard.  Here, here, here, Pomp, Caesar, Pomp.
Hey, dogs, then!  Look out, Jack!  Gallop?"

Dick fired a random shot at something that charged at them from out of
the high grass.  The next instant their horses had swerved round and
were galloping away over the rough surface as hard as they could go.

They had been grumbling at not being able to find any large game.  Now
they had found some with a vengeance, for a monstrous rhinoceros had
been disturbed by the dogs, and with all its angry passions roused it
was charging down upon the young horsemen as hard as it could go.

It seemed incredible that so great and clumsy an animal could gallop so
fast; but gallop it did, at a tremendous rate, paying no more heed to
the bitings and yelpings of the dogs than if they had been flies.  But,
tossing its curious snout, armed with two horns, high in the air, it
uttered a loud, angry, snorting noise as it thundered along threatening
to overtake the horses at every stride.  The dogs behaved very well, but
they might as well have snapped at the trunk of a tree as at that horny
hide, and at last in despair they contented themselves with galloping on
by the animal's side.

To shoot was impossible; to avoid the creature, just as impossible; and
so the boys used their whips more than once to try and get their cobs
faster over the ground.

It went against the grain to use a whip to the sleek sides of the cobs,
but the rhinoceros was gaining upon them, and to be overtaken meant to
be trampled to death.

"Come along, Jack; use your whip again," cried Dick.  "We can't shoot."

"Shall we separate?" said Jack back from his horse, as they tore over
the grass.

"No, no; let's keep together."

"Very well, then; but where shall we go?  Which way shall we turn?
Shall we try for that wood in front?"

"No, no, no," cried Dick.  "We should not be able to get through, but
that beast would go past bushes as if they were paper.  That's a thorn
wood, too."

"Where's father, I wonder?" cried Jack.

Dick looked over his shoulder.

"There he comes, full gallop.  He sees what a mess we are in."

"But he can't help us," cried Jack.  "Sit close, Dick, old fellow; and
look out for holes in front, whatever you do."

Away they went in their mad gallop, longing for the rhinoceros to give
up his hunt of the hunters, but the huge beast came thundering along in
the most persistent way, close at their heels, but now, to the delight
of the boys, not gaining upon them.  The only thing they had to fear
then was a slip or a stumble, or that in its pertinacious hunt the
rhinoceros would tire their horses down.

"He's gaining on us now," cried Dick suddenly.  "Jack, we must separate,
and let him run after one while the other fires at him."

"You couldn't do it, Dick.  No, no, let's keep together, and we shall
beat him yet."

"But we mustn't take him down to the camp.  Oh, thank goodness, at
last."

"No, no, don't say that, Dick," cried Jack, in agony, as the rhinoceros
suddenly stopped, whisked round, and went straight back upon its trail.
"Let's hunt him now, for he's going straight for father.  Don't you
see?"

"Yes," said Dick; and turning their trembling half-blown cobs, they
galloped after the rhinoceros in turn.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

THE TABLES TURNED.

The rhinoceros did not see Mr Rogers at first, but went straight back
upon its own trail, lowering its head from time to time, and literally
ploughing its way through the tangled grass with its horn, which, driven
by the weight behind, scattered the roots and fragments on either side.

The dogs, rejoicing in the change of position, snapped and barked at its
heels; and as the boys galloped on, with their rifles ready and at full
cock, they could note more at their ease the peculiarity of the animal's
make.  This was ponderous to a degree, and the great folds of skin at
the shoulders and haunches as they worked while the beast galloped
along, made it look as if the greater part of its body was covered by a
huge shell like that of a tortoise.

But now all at once the monster seemed to have caught sight of Mr
Rogers and the big bay, for it uttered a peculiar hoarse squeal, gave
its little tail a twist, tossed its head as it leaped clumsily from the
ground, and then, lowering its horn, dashed straight at the new enemy
before it.

Upon seeing this change of front Dick leaped from his horse, and Jack
did likewise, the cobs standing perfectly still, with the reins thrown
over their heads to trail upon the ground at their feet.  Then going
down upon one knee as the rhinoceros, instead of being tail on, now
presented its side, they took careful aim and fired.

_Crack_! _thud_!

_Crack_! _thud_!

The reports of the two rifles were followed by what seemed to be a dull
echo, telling them plainly enough that their shots had told.

The rhinoceros stopped short and shook its head, and they saw it try to
turn it, as if to touch a tender or ticklish place with its nose.

The next moment there was another report, as Mr Rogers fired, and the
thud that followed told of a fresh hit.

The rhinoceros shook its head again, whisked round in the most absurd
way, and went off at a clumsy gallop, followed by a couple more shots
from the boys' rifles.

"Waste of lead! waste of lead!" cried Mr Rogers, cantering up.  "Well,
what do you think of the rhinoceros?"

"Oh, what a brute, father!" cried Dick, remounting.  "Let's go on after
it.  He's badly hit."

"He's hit, certainly," said Mr Rogers; "but unless you can well choose
your spot those shots of ours would do very little more than make a sore
place under the creature's hide.  He's like an old-fashioned man-at-arms
in his buff jerkin."

"But let's go after it, father," cried Jack.

"No, I would not to-day, my boy.  `Discretion,' you know, is the better
part of valour, and the horses are overdone as it is.  We shall know
where to go another time, so let it rest for the present."

"But that great brute will be rushing out at us at all sorts of times,"
said Jack.

"Then you must keep the better look out.  If you fire at it again, you
must aim before the shoulder, mind; take him as he's coming, if you
don't feel too nervous."

Jack looked at his father, and then at Dick, and then they both laughed.

"Well father, it does make you feel queer to have that great brute
thundering down upon you," said Dick.

"You would be curious beings if you did not," said Mr Rogers, laughing.
"But you must take care, boys, for the rhinoceros is a very dangerous
beast; and it will charge at anything, even at a tree if it is in its
way."

"Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!" laughed Jack.

"What are you laughing at?" said his father.

"I was just thinking that I should like to see that great brute after
Dinny, and Dinny scuffling up a tree to get out of its way."

"Yes, it would be good fun," said Dick; "but I should like Dinny to have
a good start."

"He would need it," said Mr Rogers gravely; and they rode on gently
back to the camp.

There was fresh news here, for both the General and Coffee had to report
that they had seen rhinoceros, and upon comparing notes, it was very
evident that it could not be the same, unless the creature could have
been in three places at once.

This was promising, for, in spite of the danger, they all wanted to
number one of the great beasts in the list of the game they shot.

But during the next few days, with the exception of the daily shooting
of an antelope for the larder, they saw no great game, even failing to
put up the big rhinoceros when they rode over the same ground again.

They found the lair in amongst the thick bushes and dried grass, the
dogs running through it from side to side, while the three hunters sat
with presented pieces, ready to shoot at the first charge.  They kept
well apart too, so as to be ready to help the one at whom the rhinoceros
came; but they saw nothing of the beast, and it was evident that it had
shifted its quarters.

The weather had been intensely hot and dry, so that the long reedy grass
crackled and rustled as they passed along, and in places the tramp of
the horses' hoofs sent the dust flying in clouds.

One evening towards sunset they were about ten miles from the camp, and
wearied out with the heat and sultriness of the air which for days past
had threatened a storm; they were riding listlessly across a wide plain
that was being rapidly turned into a regular desert for want of
refreshing rain.

Nobody had spoken for some time, when suddenly Jack exclaimed,--

"Look! the plain is on fire."

The horses were reined in, and as they gazed in the direction pointed
out, it was evident that there was what seemed to be a very large fire
rolling across the plain; the white smoke-clouds rising quite high.

"Is it the grass on fire?" said Dick, as Mr Rogers brought his little
double glass to bear.

"It is no fire at all," said his father, "but dust.  There is a great
herd of buffalo crossing the plain, and we ought to get a shot."

Click! click! went the lock of Jack's rifle, and he leaped down to
tighten his girths.

"No!" said Mr Rogers; "they are oxen and horsemen.  It is a large party
crossing the plain--an emigration of Boers, I'll be bound."

They rode gently on towards the long line of dust-clouds, which was
passing at right angles to them; and as they drew nearer they could
plainly see beneath the lurid sky figures of men on horseback, blacks
mounted on oxen, and waggon after waggon with its enormously long team.

As they approached, some of the sun-tanned, dejected-looking men riding
in front turned their heads, and stared sullenly at the little party,
but they seemed to have no desire for any friendly intercourse; and when
Mr Rogers spoke to them they replied sullenly in broken English mixed
with Dutch, that they were going north.

They were curious-looking men from an English point of view, and would
have been greatly improved by the use of a pair of scissors to their
long, abundant, fair hair.  Each man carried his rifle ready for the
first enemy that might cross his path, and their numerous black servants
trudged on with loads or rode the oxen.

These blacks, too, took the attention of the boys, one being a perfect
giant in his way, a great square shouldered fellow of quite six-feet-six
in height; while another, mounted upon an ox, had his hair twisted up
into a couple of points, standing up from his head like the horns of an
antelope.

Every one looked jaded and worn out, as if with a long journey; and the
dejected aspect of the masters was traceable even in their dogs, one of
which went on in front with his head, down and tongue lolling out,
aiming evidently at some particular point.

So surly were the leaders of the party that Mr Rogers made no further
effort to be friendly, but sat with his sons looking-on, till the whole
troop, extending several hundred yards, had filed by, under the cloud of
dust shuffled up by the oxen's feet; and then, as the little
hunting-party rode on, they could see as it were a cloud go rolling
slowly over the plain, the emigrant party being quite hidden by its
folds, till the dreary dust-covered plain was passed.

"How are we to get at these rhinoceroses?" said Mr Rogers, as they rode
homeward.  "We must have one, boys; but I don't want to have out the
Zulus to track, for fear of their getting injured."

"Perhaps we shall come across one, father, when we don't expect it,"
said Dick.  "Let's try to get a giraffe or two, and we may find a
rhinoceros without hunting for it."

"Very wisely said," replied Mr Rogers; "perhaps we shall."



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

HOW THE WAGGON WAS PUT STRAIGHT.

The remark made by Dick as he rode home with his father was much nearer
fulfilment than he expected.

The morning broke dark and lowering, with great thunder clouds in the
north; and as it was evident that it was raining hard, as it can rain
sometimes in South Africa, and they might get caught, it was decided to
spend the morning at home, and devote that day to a general clean up of
arms, and a repacking of the waggon, which needed doing sadly.  Besides
which there were cases of stores that they had not yet been able to get
at; and these it was advisable to have, especially a whole barrel of
fine flour, which was right at the bottom.

Arms were cleaned, then, till Dinny announced breakfast, with three hot
roast quails, that had been knocked down by Chicory that morning.

These were a delicious treat, being about three times the size of the
little English quail; and the hearty breakfast having come to an end,
Mr Rogers climbed into the waggon, followed by the boys, the General
and his sons went off to collect wood for firing, while Peter and Dirk,
with a yoke of bullocks, brought it to the camp and made a stack, upon
which Dinny soon began to make inroads for culinary purposes, as he had
cakes to bake, and a large joint of eland to cook for an early dinner--
for if it seemed likely to hold up, an expedition was determined on in
search of giraffes for the afternoon.

It was very busy and very warm work under the tilt of the waggon, but
the two boys toiled away with a will, and package after package of
forgotten luxuries was unearthed, and placed where it could be used.

"Hurray, father!" cried Jack, "here's a box of cornflour."

"And here's another bag of rice," cried Dick.

"Better still," said Mr Rogers, laughing.  "Here's something that will
suit you, Dick."

"What?  More sugar, father?"

"No.  You were grumbling about always drinking your coffee without milk;
here's a case of Swiss condensed."

"If the sugar ran out," said Jack, "we could get honey."

"Yes," said his father.  "You boys must be on the look out for the
honey-guide."

"Why, we saw one, father," cried Jack.

"Yes, and the rhinoceros drove it out of our head," said Dick, "and--"

"Why, what's the matter?" cried Mr Rogers.  "Rifles, boys!"

They were just engaged in moving a big chest, and had the greater part
of the waggon's contents piled up on one side, that nearest the kraal of
growing and piled up thorns, when there was a loud yelping of the dogs,
a peculiar grunting snort, a tremendous crash, and the dissel-boom was
driven on one side, and the fore part of the waggon itself actually
lifted and nearly overturned.

There was a tremendous crash, and splinters flew as it was struck; and
another crash as it came down upon the earth again, one wheel having
been lifted quite a couple of feet.

Then, as Jack held on by the great laths of the waggon cover, and looked
over the chests, he saw the shoulders of a great rhinoceros, as it
wrenched its horn out of the woodwork that it had driven it through;
then it whisked round, and charged straight at the fire, rushing through
it, trampling the embers, and tossing the burning sticks in all
directions.

"Murther! master, help!  Here's a big thief of a--Murth--"

Dinny did not finish his sentence, for, seeing him standing there
shouting as his cooking-place was "torn all to smithereens," as he
afterwards expressed it, the rhinoceros dashed at him, and with one lift
of his horn sent poor Dinny flying into the thorny hedge of the
cattle-kraal.

The rhinoceros now stood snorting and squeaking, in search of some other
object upon which to vent its rage; and seeing this in some newly-washed
clothes laid out to dry upon a bush, it charged at them, dashing through
the bush, and carrying off a white garment upon its horn, with which it
tore right away, never stopping once while it was in sight.

"Well, when you have done laughing, young gentlemen," said Mr Rogers,
"perhaps you will let me pass and see what damages we have suffered."

"Laugh!" cried Jack.  "Oh, father, I ache with laughing.  Did you ever
see such a comical beast?"

"It certainly has its comical side," said Mr Rogers; "but it is
terribly mischievous and dangerous."

"But you should have seen it toss Dinny, father," said Dick, wiping his
eyes.  "I hope he wasn't hurt."

They leaped out of the waggon rifle in hand, just as a piteous groan
came from the top of the kraal fence.

"Ah, masther, and that was the only dacent shirt I had left.  Oh,
masther, dear, help me down.  I'm kilt and murthered here wid the great
thorns in my back."

The boys could hardly help for laughing, poor Dinny's aspect was so
ludicrous; but by dint of placing the broken dissel-boom up to where he
was sitting, and crawling up to him, Dinny was aided to drag himself
out.

"Aisy then, Masther Jack, aisy," he cried; "don't ye see the nasty
crukked thorns have got howlt of me?  Ye'd be pulling me out of my
clothes, instead of my clothes out of the thorns.  Arrah, sor, d'ye
think that great pig baste wid a horn on his nose will ever bring me
clane shirt back?"

"Very doubtful, Dinny; but are you much hurt?" said Mr Rogers.

"An' am I much hurt?" cried Dinny, "whin there isn't a bit of me as big
as saxpence that hasn't got a thorn shtuck in it?"

"Oh, never mind the thorns," said Mr Rogers, laughing.

"Shure, I don't, sor; they moight all be burnt for the bit I'd care.
But shure, sor, it isn't at all funny when you've got the thorns in ye."

"No, no, of course not, Dinny," said his master, "and it is unfeeling to
laugh.  But are you hurt anywhere?"

"Shure, sor, I'm telling ye that I'm hurt all over me, ivery-where."

"But the rhinoceros--"

"The which, sor?  Sure, I didn't know that any part of me was called a
rhinoceros."

"No, no, I mean the animal that charged you."

"An' that's a rhinoceros is it, sor?  Shure, I thought it was a big
African pig wid a horn in his nose."

"Yes, that's a rhinoceros, Dinny.  Come, did it hurt you when it charged
you?"

"Shure, I'd like to charge it the price of me best shirt, I would,"
grumbled Dinny, rubbing himself softly.  "No, he didn't hurt me much; he
lifted me up too tinderly wid his shnout; but that was his artfulness,
the baste; he knew what the crukked thorns would do."

"Then you have no bones broken, Dinny?" said Dick.

"An is it a pig I'd let break me bones?" cried Dinny, indignantly.  "A
great ugly baste!  I'd like to have the killing of him any day in the
week.  Just look at me fire flying all over the place.  Shure, I'll be
very glad when we get home again;" and he went grumbling away.

The damage to the waggon was not serious.  The horn of the great beast
had gone right through the plank of the forepart, where the chest
generally stood on which the driver sat, and that could easily be
repaired; while they were carpenters enough to splice the broken
dissel-boom, or if needs be, cut down a suitable tree and make another;
so that altogether there was nothing much to bemoan.  A good deal of
laughter followed, Dick and Jack being unable to contain their mirth, as
they thought of Dinny's discomfiture.

"Oh, yis; it's all very foine, Masther Jack; but if you'd been sent
flying like I was then, it isn't much ye'd have laughed."

"No, I suppose not, Dinny," said the lad frankly; "but never mind about
the thorns."

"Shure, it isn't the holes in me shkin," said Dinny; "they'll grow
again.  I was thinking about me shirt."

"I'll ask father to give you one of his, Dinny," said Dick.

"One o' thim flannel ones wid blue sthripes?" said Dinny eagerly.

"Yes, one of those if you like, Dinny."

"Whoop! good luck to the big pig and his horn on his nose," cried Dinny.
"He's welkim to me owld shirt; for it was that tindher that I had to
put on me kid gloves to wash it, for fear it should come to pieces,
Masther Dick.  But, Masther Dick, asthore, d'ye think the big baste will
come back and thread on me fire again?"

"I think we shall have to be on the look out for him to stop him," said
Dick.  "But his skin's so thick there's no getting a bullet through."

"An' is it a pig wid a shkin as thick as that!" said Dinny,
contemptuously.  "Arrah, I'll be after shooting the baste meself.  I
wouldn't go afther the lines, but a big pig!  Shure, if the masther will
let me have a gun and powther, I'll go and shute the baste before he
knows where he is."



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

HOW DINNY HANDLED HIS GUN.

In expectation of another visit from the rhinoceros, the greatest
precautions were taken; but the days went by, and hunting and collecting
took up plenty of attention, and no more visits from the rhinoceros were
received.

The boys were certain that this was not the animal that had charged them
out upon the grass plain, and proof of this was found one day when, in
company with their father, the boys were following a honey-guide.
Coffee and Chicory were with them, and eagerly joined in the pursuit,
till the bird which had been flitting from bush to bush, and from tree
to tree, suddenly perched itself upon one at the edge of a patch of
forest.

Then Chicory ran right to a particular tree, and pointed to a spot
where, about twenty feet from the ground, the bees could be seen flying
in and out.

To the great disappointment of the bird, the wild hive was left for that
occasion, it being a pity to waste any of the honey, so they returned by
another route towards the camp, the bird twittering and showing no
little excitement at what it evidently looked upon as the folly of men
at neglecting the sweet treasure.

The place was, however, marked, and with the intention of returning next
day, armed with hatchet, fire, and a couple of zinc buckets to hold the
spoil, they rode round the other side of the forest-patch, looking out
for brightly-plumaged birds, whose skins could be added to the
collection already made.

"Yes," said Mr Rogers, "it is a curious natural history fact, but there
it is, plainly enough.  The bird knows that man can get at the honey
when it cannot, so it leads him to the place hoping to get its share of
the spoil."

"Then you don't think it is done out of love for man, father?" said
Jack.

"What do you think, Dick?" said Mr Rogers.

"I think it's done out of kindness to the bird," said Dick, smiling.

"So do I," replied his father, "and that bird its own self."

"Look at the vultures," cried Jack, just then, as quite a cloud of the
great birds rose from a clump of trees on their left; and upon riding up
there lay a great rhinoceros, or rather its remains, for, in spite of
its tough hide, the carrion birds had been busy at it; but not so busy
but that the marks of a couple of bullets were seen in its neck and
fore-shoulder, from the effects of which it had evidently died.

"That's our rhinoceros," cried Jack eagerly.

"You shall have your claim, boys," said Mr Rogers drily; "my shot shall
not count."

"I said `our,' father; so let's share it amongst us."

The boys would have liked to have the horn hacked off, but the animal
was in such a terrible state that their father thought it unfair to set
either of the Zulus to execute the task; so they had to be content with
the trophy in expectation; the boys promising to have off the horn from
the next that was shot.

While they were enjoying a hearty meal after their return to the camp,
Dinny suddenly began to make advances to Chicory, giving him pieces of
cake, and choice bits of meat, which he had roasted, and all to the
boy's great surprise, for heretofore Dinny had been anything but civil
to him.  But Chicory took it all in good part, and smiled and nodded;
and when at last Dinny signed to him to come away from the camp, the boy
followed without a word.

"Look ye here, my little naygur," said Dinny confidentially, as soon as
they were in the shelter of the trees; "d'ye undherstand what I'm saying
to ye?"

Chicory nodded eagerly.

"Yes, yes; understand," he said.

"Then look here, ye dark-looking little image; I want ye to help me."

"Yes; help," said Chicory wonderingly.

"Iv ye'll help me, I'll help you, little naygur; and ye shall always
have plenty of what's good out of the pot, and roast mate, and cake.
D'ye understand that?"

"Yes; Chicory know.  Give him plenty meat."

"That's right, my young son of a dark night," cried Dinny.  "Well, now
then, look here.  Ye know that grate big pig wid the horn on his nose
came and upset me fire, and run away wid me wardrobe?"

Chicory shook his head.

"Well then, wid me clane shirt.  D'ye undherstand now?"

"Yes, yes," said Chicory, laughing.  "Don't know big pig."

"Yes, yes, you do, my young piece of black velvet; the big rise
nosserus."

"Yes, rhinoceros, big beast, big horn.  Oorrr! houk! houk! houk!"

This was supposed to resemble the noise made by the great animal; and
Chicory illustrated his cry by going down on hands and knees in a clumsy
gallop, which ended with a toss of the head in the air.

"Yes; that's him," said Dinny.  "Well, I want ye to find the way to
where he lives by his futmarks, and then come and tell me, and I'll go
and shute him."

Chicory nodded his head, and they went back to the waggon, where Dinny
presented himself to his master all at once with a request for a gun.

"A gun, Dinny?  And what do you want with a gun?"

"Shure, sor, everybody else learns how to shute, and I thought I'd like
to be able to shute a line or a hippo--what's his name, or any other of
the savage bastes if they came near the waggon while ye were away."

"Well, Dinny, I have no objection, if you promise to be careful."

"But I want one o' them that shutes big bullets, sor, and not the little
pishtol things that only shutes small shot, sor."

"You shall have a good rifle, Dinny," said his master.  "Dick, get the
Snider--the short Snider--out of the waggon, and give him twenty
cartridges."

This was done, and the rifle placed in Dinny's hands.

"You must be very careful how you shoot with it, Dinny," said Mr
Rogers.

"Shure and I will, sor."

"But be particularly careful not to fire in the direction where any one
is coming.  Remember a Snider is dangerous at a mile."

"Is it now?" said Dinny.  "But shure, sor, I want a gun, and I don't
care for your Sniders at all.  What's a Snider to do wid me?  It's a gun
I want."

"To kill wild beasts, Dinny?"

"That same, sor."

"Well, then, take that Snider-rifle; it will kill at a tremendous
distance."

"What, that little bid of a thing, sor?"

"To be sure, man.  Now take care, and you'll have to keep it clean and
free from rust as well."

"Thanky, sor, and I will, and it will have too much to do for it to get
rusty."

"Well, Dinny, I trust you, mind, so be careful with your weapon."

"Shure, sor, and I will," said Dinny; and taking the Snider very
carefully in his hands, he asked Jack to give him "a bit of showing how
to trim thim," and this Jack did till he was perfect, when Dinny went
off with the rifle, muttering to himself.

"Think o' that now!" he kept on saying, "that bit of a thing shooting a
baste at a mile!"

Nothing more was said by Dinny, who had made his plans, and he kept his
own secret of what he intended to do.  On the following afternoon
Chicory came to him in high glee, to claim the roast meat and cake
promised, and he announced that he had found where the rhinoceros lived.

"How did you find him out?" said Dinny doubtingly.

"Track.  Follow spoor," said Chicory proudly.

"Oh, ye followed his spoor, did ye?" said Dinny.  "Very well thin, it's
going to be a bright moonlight night, so ye can follow his spoor, and
tak' me wid ye."

Chicory nodded eagerly, and in the course of the evening he came and
beckoned to Dinny, who took the Snider, and put the cartridges in his
pocket.

"Where are you going, Dinny?" said his master.

"Shure, jist for a bit o' pleasure, sor," he replied.

"Well, look out for the lions," said Dick maliciously.

"Shure I niver thought o' the lines," muttered Dinny, "and they goo out
a-walking av a night.  I'd better shtay at home.  Bother!" he cried
angrily.  "Shure the young masther did it to frecken me, and it'll take
a braver boy than him to do it anyhow."

So Dinny marched off, and following Chicory, the boy led him at once
over a rugged mountainous hill, and then into a part of the forest that
was particularly dark, save where the moon, pretty well at its full,
threw long paths of light between the trees.

Enjoining silence, the boy went cautiously forward, threading his way
through the dark forest, till he halted beside a fallen monarch of the
woods, a huge tree of such enormous proportions, that its gnarled trunk
and branches completely stopped further progress; for it formed a stout
barrier breast high, over which a man could fire at anything crossing
the moonlit glade beyond.

The shape of the tree was such that a branch like a second trunk ran
almost parallel to the main trunk, arching over the head of whoever used
the old tree for a breastwork, and forming an additional protection
should the occupant of the breastwork be attacked by any large animal.

"Stop there, you see noseros," whispered Chicory.

"But shure ye wouldn't have a man shtand there by himself, and all in
the dark?  Faix, there's some wild baste or another shlaying me now."

"See noseros then shoot," whispered Chicory.  "I stay here."

The boy caught hold of a branch and swung himself up into a tree, where
he perched himself and waited.

"Faix, he's just like a little monkey, and not fit for the shociety of
Christians," muttered Dinny as he took his place by the great barrier,
and, resting his rifle upon the trunk, waited.

Dinny felt in anything but a courageous mood, but as he had come so far
upon his mission, he strung himself up to go on with it, and watched the
open space before him, lit up by the moon which shone full upon his
face.

"Maybe he's only playing wid me, the black little haythen," thought
Dinny, "and there's no big pig to be seen here at all.  But he shan't
see that I'm a bit freckened annyhow, for I'll shtand my ground till he
comes down and says we'd better go."

So Dinny stood watching there till he began to feel drowsy, and this
made him lean against the great trunk, his head began to nod, and twice
over he was pretty well asleep.

"Shure, an' I'll catch cowld if I do that," he said to himself, as he
gave himself a bit of a shake.  "I don't see what's the good o' waiting
here, and--murther! look at that now."

Dinny felt as if cold water was being poured over him as, all at once,
he saw the great proportions of a rhinoceros standing out quite black
against the bright moonlight, the animal being as motionless as if
carved from the rock that lay in great masses around.

"Shure an' it's a big shtone, and nothing else, and--murther, it's
moving, and coming here."

Dinny hardly knew himself how he did it, but in a kind of desperation he
took aim at the rhinoceros, and drew trigger.

The result was a sharp crack, that seemed to echo into distance far
away, and mingled with the echoes there was a furious grunting roar.

For Dinny had hit the rhinoceros.  In fact, aiming at it as he did, with
the barrel of his piece upon the large trunk, it would have been almost
impossible to miss.  But as he heard the roar Dinny turned and ran,
stumbled, saved himself, and hid behind a tree.

"Murther, but it's awful work," he muttered, as his trembling fingers
placed a second cartridge in the rifle.

Then, all being silent, Dinny stole out, and peering cautiously before
him, crept towards the prostrate tree.

"Shure, I belave I've shot him dead," he muttered, as he peered out into
the open glade; but as he showed his face in the moonlight there was a
furious snort, and Dinny turned and fled; for the rhinoceros charged
right at the white face behind the prostrate tree, thrusting its
monstrous head between the two huge limbs; and then, in spite of its
prodigious strength being unable to get any further, it drew back,
charged again, placed one hoof on the tree--but its efforts were in
vain.  Then it wrenched its head back, and retiring a short distance
charged once more, Dinny watching it from behind a tree with blanched
face and hands, trembling with excitement.

A practised hunter would have sent bullet after bullet crashing into the
monster's brain; but Dinny was not practised, and it was not until he
had thoroughly convinced himself that the animal could not get through,
that he stole out, and bending down, cautiously advanced nearer and
nearer to the huge beast, which snorted, and grunted, and squealed in
its futile efforts to get at its assailant.

If it had gone twenty yards to its left, it could easily have passed the
obstacle; but it was pig-like enough in its nature to keep on trying to
force itself through the obstacle it had tried to pass, and seeing this,
Dinny went on, gaining a little courage the while.

"Shure I'll go close enough to make quite sartain," he muttered; "but
it's like having a bad dhrame, that it is.  Now where had I better shute
him--in the mouth or the eye?"

He decided for the eye, and raising the rifle at last he took a long aim
at not six feet distance, when the great beast uttered so furious a roar
that Dinny turned once more, and fled behind the tree.

"Shure and what'd I be freckened of?" he said angrily.  "Not of a baste
like that."  And walking out once more he repeated his manoeuvres,
approaching cautiously; and as the rhinoceros began straining, and
sprang to force its way through, Dinny took careful aim at the monstrous
beast, and fired.

"Shure it's aisy enough," he said, as the beast started back; and
placing a fresh cartridge in his piece, he fired again at where the
animal stood in the full moonlight swaying its head to and fro.

It was impossible to miss; and Dinny fired again and again, nine shots
in all, growing encouraged by his success; and the result was that the
monster fell over upon its side at last with a heavy thud, just as
Chicory dropped to the ground, and made the hero jump by touching him on
the back.

"Ah, be aisy; what are ye thrying to frecken a man for like that?" said
Dinny.  "But look at that, ye little haythen; that's the way to shute.
Now let's go back and tell them they needn't be alarmed about the big
pig, for its Dinny himself that has done the thrick."



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

DINNY RELATES HIS ADVENTURE.

Dinny's story was hardly believed when he walked into camp, but Chicory
was there to corroborate his words, and the astonishment felt was
intense.

"You--you shoot a rhinoceros, Dinny!" said his master.

"Shure and why not, yer hanner?" said Dinny.  "Didn't I borry the gun a'
purpose for that same? and didn't the big baste stale my gyarments in
the most ondacent way?"

"But how?  Where?  Where?" was asked by father and sons, in a breath.

"Shure an' I'm the laste bit weary wid my exertions," said Dinny, "and
I'll jist light me pipe and sit down and rest, and tell ye the while."

All in the most deliberate way, Dinny proceeded to light his pipe and
rest; and then, with Chicory sitting in front with his arms tightly
embracing his knees, and his eyes and mouth open, Dinny related his
adventure with the rhinoceros.

The late Sir Walter Scott in speaking of embellishing and exaggerating a
story called it adding a cocked-hat and walking-stick.

Dinny put not merely a cocked-hat and walking-stick to his story, but
embellished it with a crown, sceptre, and royal robes of the most
gorgeous colours.  It was wonderful what he had done; the furious
conduct of the rhinoceros, the daring he had displayed, the precision
with which he had sought out vital parts to aim at.  A more thrilling
narrative had never been told, and Chicory's eyes grew rounder and his
mouth wider open in his astonishment and admiration, the hero going up
wonderfully in the boy's esteem, especially as he read in Dinny's looks
the promise of endless snacks and tastes when he was hungry.

But all the same, Dinny's flights of fancy grew a little too lofty for
his other hearers.

"Oh, I say, Dinny, come now," said Dick, as his father sat back
listening with a good-humoured smile upon his lip.  "I'm not going to
believe that a rhinoceros rose up on its hind legs and fought at you
with its fore paws, while you stood still and aimed at it."

"Shure, Masther Dick, dear, did you ever know me say anything that
wasn't thrue?  If ye doubt me word, there's Masther Chicory there, as
brave a boy as ever stepped in--I mane out of shoe leather, and spread
his little black toes about in the sand.  He was there all the toime,
and ye can ax him if he didn't see it."

"Yes," said Chicory, "nosros try to get through big tree, and Dinny
shoot um."

"There," said Dinny triumphantly, "what did I tell you?  Why, if ye
don't believe me, there's the baste itself lying as dead as a hammer
where I shot him."

"Then it's only a little pig or a young rhinoceros, Dinny," said Jack.

"Little pig!" cried Dinny.  "By this an' by that, he's as big as the
waggon there, tub an' all.  Sure a bigger and more rampaging baste niver
fought wid a human man, and tried hard to ate him."

"Why that shows what stuff you are telling us, Dinny.  A rhinoceros
wouldn't eat a man; he'd trample him to death," cried Dick, who had been
a studious boy for years.  "A rhinoceros is an herbivorous beast, and
has a prehensile upper lip."

"A what sort o' baste?" said Dinny, staring.

"Herbivorous."

"Shure an' what's that got to do wid it?  I tell you it tried to ate me
at one mouthful, in spite of his what sort o' upper lip.  Shure the poor
baste couldn't help having that the matter wid his lip.  Why as soon as
I set eyes on him, `Ah, Dinny,' I says, `yer work's cut out, me boy,' I
says, `for if ever there was a baste wid a stiff upper lip that's the
one.'"

"But I said a prehensile upper lip, Dinny," cried Dick.

"Shure I heard what ye said, Master Dick.  I know.  And a pretty
rampaging baste he was.  Wirra!  If ye'd seen him foight.  If ye'd heard
him roar, and saw how I battled wid him till I'd laid him low wid tin
bullets in his jacket.  Ah, it was wonderful.  But ye shall see the
baste."

"Yes, I want to see him, Dinny," said Jack.

"Shure an' I'll be glad to take ye, Masther Jack, as soon as it's light.
But he was a brave baste, and fought well; and I felt sorry-like when I
seen him go down."

"Did you though, Dinny?"

"Shure an' I did, Masther Dick, for I says to myself, `Ye're a brave
boy, an' I dessay ye've got a mother somewhere as is very proud of ye,
just as I've got wan meself.  But I must shute ye,' I says, `for the
sake of the gintlemen wid the waggon, and the mischief ye've done,' and
so I did; an' there he lies, Masther Dick, stretched out on his side;
and pace to his ashes.  I've done."

"Well, boys," said Mr Rogers, speaking for the first time for some
minutes, "I think we ought to congratulate ourselves upon the great
accession we have discovered in Dinny.  In future he shall accompany us
in our attacks upon the lions and other furious beasts.  I should not
think of going after elephant now without Dinny."

That gentleman's face was a study, as he listened to his master's words.
His nostrils twitched, his brows grew full of wrinkles, and his jaw
dropped, letting his pipe fall from his lips; and though he picked it up
directly after, the tobacco had gone out, and Dinny looked as if all the
enjoyment had gone out of his life.

Beyond the roaring of a lion or two, the night passed off very quietly,
and as soon as it was broad day Chicory stood ready to lead the party to
see the rhinoceros.

"Come, Dinny, aren't you ready?" cried Dick.

"Shure an' I don't want to go, Masther Dick.  I seen enough of the baste
last night."

"Yes, but you must come and show us."

"Shure an' Masther Chicory there will lade you to the very spot, and I
couldn't do any more.  He lies did bechuckst two big lumps of sthone,
an', as I said, he's as big as a waggin."

"Oh, but Dinny must come," said Mr Rogers.

"Shure an' how will I get the breakfast riddy if I come, sor?" persisted
Dinny.  "I did my duty last night.  You gintlemen must go and fetch him
home."

But Dinny's protestations passed unheeded, and he had to go with the
party, shouldering his rifle like a raw recruit, but glancing uneasily
to right and left as they went along.

Dick observed this, and said quietly,--

"What a lot of poisonous snakes there are amongst these stones!"

Dinny gave a spasmodic jump, and lifting his feet gingerly, deposited
them in the barest places he could find; and for the rest of the journey
he did not once take his eyes off the ground.

As it happened they had not gone fifty yards farther before they came
upon a great swollen puff-adder, lying right in their path.

Chicory saw it first, and shouted a word of warning, which made Dinny
wheel round, and run away as hard as he could go, till the shouts of the
others brought him back, looking terribly ashamed.

"Oh, it's wan o' thim things, is it?" he said, looking at the writhing
decapitated viper.  "Shure I thought it was the jumping sort that
springs up at yer ois, and stings ye before yer know where ye are.
There was a cousin, of me mother's went to live in Hampshire, and she
got bit by wan o' thim bastes in the fut, and it nearly killed her.  Ye
can't be too careful."

Dinny felt as if he was being laughed at for the rest of the way, and
looked quite sulky; but the sight of the great fallen tree, and the huge
rhinoceros surrounded by vultures busily working a way through the tough
hide, revived him, and he marched forward to examine his bullet holes
with the look of pride worn by a conqueror.

It was quite refreshing to see him walk up the hind leg of the
rhinoceros, and then along its huge horny-hided body to the shoulder,
where, lowering the rifle he carried, Dinny placed the stock upon the
creature's neck, and rested his arm upon the barrel, regarding his
fallen foe in quite a contemplative manner.

"Mind that rifle don't go off, Dinny," cried Jack.

Dinny leaped off the rhinoceros and stared.

"It's a very dangerous thing to rest your arms on the muzzle of a gun,"
said Dick, who enjoyed poor Dinny's discomfiture.

"Well, Dinny," said his master, "I congratulate you upon having slain a
monster.  Where did you stand?"

"Oh, over yonder somewhere," said Dinny cavalierly.  "Anywhere to get a
good soight ov him."

"Stood here behind tree where nosros no get at um," said Chicory,
innocently, in his eagerness to explain all he could.

"Ah, ye avil little baste," muttered Dinny.  "See if I give ye the laste
taste of anything I've got.  Ah, yes," he said aloud, "I did get one
shot at him from behind that big tree; but I cud see him best out in the
open yander.  Shure an' how big is the baste, sor?" he added, as Mr
Rogers ran a measuring tape along the animal from nose to tail.

"Just over eleven feet, Dinny," said Mr Rogers; and leaving the General
to hew off the great blunt horn, they returned to breakfast.



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

DICK TRIES THE VEGETABLE FISH-HOOKS.

Directly breakfast was over they started--this time without Dinny, who
seemed to be very nervous for fear he should be asked to go--to get some
of the honey, Coffee and Chicory each carrying a zinc pail, and the
General a small tub.

Long before they reached the patch of forest-trees the little bird came
fluttering and twittering about them, having apparently forgiven their
past neglect, and then went on, and flew from bush to bush, leading them
straight to the big trees, perching as before upon one close by, and
then silently watching the manoeuvres of the party.

The General was about to take the lead, but Coffee and Chicory uttered
such a strong protest in their native tongue, that he smilingly handed
his hatchet to Coffee; while Chicory collected some tolerably dry peaty
growth, struck a light and set it on fire, causing a dense cloud of
smoke to rise up round the tree that contained the wild honey, and
stupefying and suffocating the bees that flew to and fro.

The boys grinned with delight at their task, and danced about, heaping
up the smoke-producing leaves and stalks, till feeling satisfied that
they might ascend, there was a bit of an altercation as to who should
go, ending in Chicory giving way to his brother as he had been ill.

Coffee then took the axe and stuck it in his loin-cloth, and a patch of
burning turf in his hand.  Then nimbly climbed up to the hole, where he
held the smoking turf before him, to keep off the bees from his naked
body, and clinging tightly with his legs, he proceeded to ply the axe so
vigorously, and with such skill, that the rotten bark soon gave way, the
tree being little more than a shell, and he laid bare range upon range
of the beautiful comb.

A little more tearing away of the bark was necessary, and then Coffee
descended for a pail and a knife, dispensing now with his burning turf,
and going up to return with the pail full of delicious comb.

This was turned into the General's tub, and the boy ascended again,
filled his pail and descended, and once more going up filled the other.

The General then solemnly took a piece of the comb and placed it in the
fork of a tree for the honey-guide, assuring those who looked on, that
it was necessary to propitiate the bird and pay it for its services--a
plan of which the little thing seemed highly to approve, for it flew to
the comb at once, and began to feed.

Enough having been procured to fill the pails and tub, Chicory,
evidently approving of his brother's sticky state, went up the tree in
turn, and cut out three combs for present use, offering some to each of
his masters, and then dividing the remainder between his father,
brother, and self.

In fact, after removing to a little distance from the hive-tree, all sat
down and had a good feast of the delicious honey, Coffee and Chicory
grinning with delight as they munched up the wax and sweet together.

"Well, of all the sticky objects I ever saw, they beat everything," said
Dick, laughing.  "Why, Coffee's all over honey."

"Yes, tick all over," said the boy, rubbing his finger down his chest,
and then sucking it, for he had got to be pretty thickly smeared in
carrying the honey down.

"Didn't the bees sting?" said Jack.

"Only tiddlum's back;" said Coffee, giving himself a writhe.

"Yes, tiddlum's back," said Chicory, applying honey to three or four
places upon his arms.  "Don't mind."

"No, don't mind," assented Coffee; and they filled their mouths full of
honey and wax and cried, "Good, good, good."

They had spent so long over the journey for the honey that evening was
coming on fast as they began to ride slowly back, Dick and Jack making
excursions here and there in search of something fresh as they crossed a
bushy plain strewn with great masses of stone, which rendered their
progress very slow, any attempt at a trot or canter being absolutely
madness, unless they wished to lame their steeds.

"I wish we had got father's glasses," said Jack, "we might have seen
something from this high ground."

"I have got them," said Dick, gazing through the binocular at the
prospect of undulating plain, across which his father and the Zulu were
making their way now, quite a mile in advance.  "I've got them, but I
can only see some quagga right over yonder."

"I can see something close by," cried Jack, pointing at a tall, dimly
seen object that slowly passed out of a clump of bushes, and then went
slowly forward into another.

"What can you see?" said Dick.

"Giraffe!" cried Jack.

"Nonsense!  Where?"

"It just went into that clump of bushes there.  Come on."

"No," said Dick, "father's making signals for us to go to him."

"But it's such a pity to miss a chance," cried Jack, unslinging his
rifle.

"Yes," said Dick, "so it is, but I shouldn't like father to think we did
not attend to his signals.  Mark the clump.  There, we shall know it by
these stones on this high ground; and--yes, Jack, you're right.  That
must be a giraffe."

They stood watching the tall neck passing amongst the bushes, but it was
getting very dark now, and they hurried on, so as to overtake the
honey-bearers, reaching camp afterwards quite safely, where, over their
late dinner, the coming of the giraffes was discussed.

"I'd have breakfast at daybreak, boys, if I were you," said Mr Rogers,
"and be off directly after."

"But you'll come too, father?" said Jack.

"No, my boys, I thought you would like to have a hunt by yourselves,"
said Mr Rogers; when, seeing how disappointed the lads looked, he
consented to come.

The General stopped to keep the camp, and Coffee and Chicory seemed
terribly disappointed at not being of the party; but upon receiving
permission to take the dogs for a run, and a hunt all to themselves,
they brightened up, and saw their masters go off without a murmur.

It was a ride of some hours' duration to get to the high ground where
the giraffe had been seen, the fact of there being one, Mr Rogers said,
showing that there was a little herd somewhere close by, and so it
proved, for after cautiously approaching the place, riding with the
greatest care, so as to avoid the great masses of stone hidden amongst
the grass, three tall heads were seen peering about in a patch of trees
quite half a mile away.

A quiet approach was contrived, the hunters making, their way round to
the far side of the clump of bushes, where some higher trees sheltered
their approach--very barely though, for the giraffe's long necks enabled
them to peer over bushes and saplings of no mean height.

But for this shelter the little herd would have been off at once, and
they could have followed them at little better than a walk, on account
of the rough stones and masses of rock.

Practice had made them skilful at stalking, and keeping pretty close
together, they gradually approached the patch of tall growth, when, in
obedience to a signal from Mr Rogers, they separated, Dick and Jack
going in opposite directions, and Mr Rogers waiting for a few moments
to let the boys get a start, and then entering the bush himself.

So well had the arrangement been timed, that father and sons met
together just upon the other side, staring the one at the other.

"Why, where are the giraffes?" cried Jack.

"Yes, where are they?" said Dick, looking at his father, as if he
thought he had taken them away.  "Haven't you seen them?"

"Not I," said Mr Rogers, laughing.  "Why, boys, we must be sharper than
this another time."

"But when did they go?" cried Dick.

"I cannot tell," replied his father, "unless it was when we were out of
sight.  They must have suspected danger, and gone off at full speed."

"What's to be done now then?" said Jack.

"Get up to the top of the nearest hill, and look round with the glass,"
suggested Dick; and this was so evidently the best plan, that they
started for an eminence about a mile away.

Here they had not been a moment, and Mr Rogers had not had time to get
out the glass, before Jack cried,--

"There they go: I see them: scudding along through those bushes in the
hollow there."

Stalking having proved unsuccessful the last time, they almost gave it
up on this occasion, save that they trotted down the side of the hill
away from the giraffes, and then cantered on so as to reach the same
point as that for which the giraffes seemed to be making a long sweep of
open plain, where they could put their horses to full speed.

This time the giraffes were in sight as they rounded the corner of the
hill, and shouting to the boys to each pick out one, Mr Rogers pushed
his horse forward, and selecting the tallest of the herd, galloped on to
cut it off from the rest of the herd.

This needed little care, for the tall ungainly beast realised directly
that it was being pursued, and separating from the herd, went off at a
clumsy gallop, its neck outstretched, and its tail whisking about as it
kept looking back at its pursuer.

Jack picked out another, which made for the denser part, where the trees
were thick, and in his excitement he gave his cob the rein, and away
they went at racing pace.

But Jack did not gain much upon the giraffe he had chosen, for almost
before he had seen the colour of its spots at all closely, his horse,
participating in its master's eagerness, went at full speed under a
long, low branch, and came out on the other side of the wood, but
without Jack, who was swept violently out of his saddle by the low
bough, which swung violently to and fro for a few moments, and then
deposited Jack softly in a sitting posture upon the ground.  The boy
rose to rub his chest very softly, and then feeling to see whether he
was all right, he went on in chase of his horse, which he overtook
standing very patiently just outside the patch of forest, looking
wonderingly at him, as if asking why he had left its back.

"What a nuisance!" grumbled Jack; "and I daresay they've both shot
giraffes by this time.  How unlucky, to be sure!"

He lifted the reins from his horse's feet, and thrusting them over its
head, mounted again, but not comfortably, for Jack felt very sore across
the chest where the bough had struck him.

From this post of vantage he could see his father in the distance still
in chase of the giraffe; but though he looked in various directions,
there was no Dick.

"Whoo-hoo-hoo-hoop!"

Jack started to look in the direction from whence the sound had come,
but he could see nothing.  He, however, responded to the call, and it
was repeated, evidently from a patch of wood half a mile distant.

As he cantered towards it, the signal rang out again.

"Dick's brought down his giraffe very quickly," said Jack.
"Whoo-hoo-hoo-hoop!"

"Here!  Hoi!  Jack!" came now from pretty close to him--but in a dense
part of the patch of trees; and riding up, there was Dick, with his
horse standing perfectly still and looking at him.

"Come along," cried Jack.  "Where's your giraffe?"

"I don't know.  Where's yours?"

"Miles away.  I galloped under a tree, and was pulled off my horse, such
a bang."

"We came right into these thorns," said Dick, "and have been here ever
since."

"What! can't you get out?"

"Get out?  No.  It's horrible.  I'm caught all over, and poor old Shoes
just the same.  Directly I try to make him stir, he begins to kick, and
when he kicks it's awful.  They're like fish-hooks, and I'm torn to
pieces."

Jack began to laugh.

"Ah, yes, you may laugh," said his brother; "but you wouldn't like it."

"No," laughed Jack, "but you do look such a jolly old guy stuck up
there, I can't help laughing."

"But do try and help me out."

"How?" said Jack.

"Oh, I don't know.  Stand still, Shoes, do!  Oh, I say, don't kick
again, pray don't!  Good old horse then."

Shoes whinnied as his master patted and talked to him, but the thorns
pricked him so at even this light movement, that the poor animal stamped
angrily, and snorted as he pawed the ground.

In spite of his intense desire to laugh, Jack saw that matters were
really serious for his brother; and leaping off, he threw down his reins
at his horse's feet, whipped out his great hunting-knife, and proceeded
to cut and hack away the thorns by which his brother and his horse were
surrounded.

They were indeed like fish-hooks, and so sharp and strong, that once in
amongst them no one could have escaped without having clothes and skin
ploughed and torn in a terrible way.

Shoes stood perfectly still now.  He snorted at times and twitched the
skin of his withers, turning his great eyes appealingly to Jack, who
plied his heavy sheath-knife so effectively that at last the mass of
thorns was sufficiently hacked away to allow horse and rider to move.

Fortunately for Dick, he was a clever horseman.  Had he ridden like some
people, who hang a leg on each side of a horse and call that riding, he
must have been thrown.  For at the first touch to start him, Shoes was
so eager to get out of the thorny torture to which he had been
subjected, that he made a tremendous bound, and alighted clear,
trembling and sweating profusely.

"Oh, I say, Jack, I am scratched," grumbled Dick, giving himself soft
rubs all over.  "Don't laugh.  It does hurt so."

"But I feel as if I can't help it," cried Jack, who burst into a fresh
roar.

"I don't think I should have laughed at poor old Dinny, if I had known
how it hurts.  Those thorns are nearly as sharp as needles."

"Well, there, I won't laugh any more; but you weren't tossed up on the
thorns by a rhinoceros.  Come along.  Let's go after father;" and they
set off, but very gently, for Dick's face was screwed into a fresh
grimace at every motion of the horse, while the poor beast itself was
marked with little tiny beads of blood all over its satin skin.



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

FATHER SHOOTS A GIRAFFE.

Meanwhile, believing that the boys were in full chase of a giraffe
a-piece, Mr Rogers had galloped on after the great creature he had cut
off from the herd, though for a time he could not gain upon it at all.
The beast's mode of progression was very ungainly, and its great stilted
legs moved in an awkward manner, but it got over the ground very fast.

Still the plain was open and offered good galloping ground, and after a
very long stern-chase Mr Rogers saw tokens of the great beast beginning
to give way, and thereupon pushed forward, the bay responding to the
calls he made upon it, so that he was soon alongside.

His rifle was ready, but he hesitated to use it, preferring to gallop on
and watch the great creature which towered up to double the height he
sat upon his horse.  It kept panting on, whisking its tail, and once or
twice it made an awkward side-wise kick at the horse, but it was
ill-directed and of none effect; while at last feeling that he was
torturing the great beast, he levelled his gun, but his sight was
disarranged by another fierce kick, which made the horse bound aside.

Again they thundered on for some distance, when, steadying his horse so
as to get a good aim, Mr Rogers levelled, fired, and the monster came
down with a crash, shot through the head.

As the great giraffe lay motionless, Mr Rogers leaped down, after
looking to see if his boys were coming; and then loosening his horse's
girths he let it graze amongst the rich grass that grew in patches here
and there, while, after refreshing himself a little, he drew his
hunting-knife and proceeded dexterously to skin the great animal, which
must have stood about nineteen feet from horn to hoof.

For the skin of the giraffe--if a fine one--is worth three or four
pounds, and this was in magnificent condition.

It was a hard task that skinning, but the long legs acted as levers when
he wanted to turn the creature over, and the busily employed time
skipped away, quite three hours having elapsed before Dick and Jack rode
up.

"Why, what a magnificent skin, father," cried Dick, as he stood admiring
the creamy drab, splashed and spotted with great patches of a rich
yellowish brown.  "What a monster, and what a height!"

"Yes," said Mr Rogers.  "But I've had enough of this, boys.  The great
gentle beast looked so piteous and appealing at me that I feel ashamed
of having killed it.  You must shoot one a-piece I suppose, but after
that let's get to the savage animals again.  One feels to have done a
good deed in ridding the country of one of those brutes.  Did you both
kill yours?"

"No, father," they cried in chorus; and after helping to cut off the
marrow-bones of the great beast to carry home, for a roast, the marrow
being esteemed a delicacy; the heavy skin was mounted before Mr Rogers,
and a couple of marrow-bones a-piece proving a load, they rode slowly
for the camp, Mr Rogers listening to the account of his boys' mishaps,
both showing traces of having been in the wars.

Evening was coming on fast, and their progress was necessarily slow; but
it was not until it had turned quite dark, that the fact became evident
that they had lost their way out there on that great wild.

They drew rein and looked around, but not a single familiar landmark was
in sight.  On the contrary, all loomed up strange and peculiar.

To have gone on meant only wearying themselves in vain, and perhaps an
unpleasant encounter with lions; so they made straight for the nearest
patch of wood, secured their horses, and rapidly hacked off and
collected enough wood for a fire, to do duty in a threefold way--giving
them warmth, safety from prowling beasts, and cooking the huge
marrow-bones, which were soon set down to roast, and formed, with the
biscuits they carried, no despicable meal.

Such nights passed by a blazing fire on the edge of a wood sound very
romantic, but they lose their attraction when tried.  Hot as Africa is
by day, icy winds often blow by night, and they will freeze the hunter
inside the shelter of a tent; the coolness then of a night without
shelter can be understood.  The fire burnt one side, but, as Jack said,
without you made the fire all round you, it was no good, and that they
could not do.

No one felt disposed to sleep, so they sat and warmed themselves as best
they could, drawing the great giraffe skin round them for warmth.  Then
they talked till they were weary, and afterwards got up to pat and
comfort their horses.

It was very wearisome that night, but free from adventure; and the
moment it was light they mounted and rode to the nearest eminence, from
which they made out land-marks which enabled them to find their way back
to camp, where the General and his two boys were missing, having gone
out, as they said in their trouble, because Mr Rogers and the boys had
not returned--"to look for Boss;" their joy knowing no bounds when they
came back in a couple of hours, without finding those they had sought,
and seeing them waiting there.



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

HOW DICK CAPTURED FOUR YARDS OF ANIMAL.

Mr Rogers' description of the death of the gentle, harmless beast--its
piteous looks, the great tears rolling from its expressive eyes, and its
many struggles to get away, somewhat damped the ardour of Dick and Jack,
who settled in council that it was too bad to shoot giraffe, and as they
had a skin of the great creature, which was stretched out to dry, they
would shoot no more.

As for that magnificent skin, Rough'un seemed to consider that it was
placed there for his especial benefit; and to the great disgust of
Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus, who were tied up and could not join, but
had to be content at straining at their chains and looking-on, Rough'un
amused himself by licking the skin, especially where there were little
bits of fat, till he was tired, and then creeping under the hairy side
to sleep.

This he kept up for a whole day.  The second day he gave it up, for the
skin was rapidly assuming the character of a hard board; but the
triumvirate were as impatient as ever, and barked incessantly.

This annoyed Dinny, who borrowed Peter's great whip to administer
punishment; but at the first crack and howl, Rough'un, who was loyalty
itself to his kind, left the hard skin that he had been smelling and
scratching with his forepaw, and flew at Dinny, exclaiming in dog
language,--

"Let them alone, you coward; you wouldn't dare to hurt them if they were
free."

"Ah, get out, ye ugly murthering baste," roared Dinny, cracking the
whip, but in no way intimidating Rough'un, who seemed to know that he
was perfectly safe, the whip being only available for use at long
distances, and Rough'un keeping close to, and baying and charging at
Dinny's legs.

"Be off, or I'll be the death of you," said Dinny, cracking the whip
again; but in nowise dismayed, Rough'un kept up the attack, till Dinny
literally turned, and fled to obtain his rifle; when Rough'un gave a
final bark, and growled at the triumvirate, and the triumvirate were so
much obliged that they growled at Rough'un, who coiled himself up in the
sun on the malodorous skin and went to sleep.

Dick and Jack were busy saddling their horses while this took place, and
stood laughing and enjoying the scene.  They were joined directly after
by their father, who with the help of Dick had been doing a little
amateur farriery work, and freshly nailing a couple of loose shoes on
his horse's hoofs.  Then, after providing themselves with some dried
meat and biscuit, they rode off through the forest on to the plain,
leaving the General, Coffee, and Chicory, to provide something for the
larder.

This was to be their last day here, for Mr Rogers was anxious that they
should get on, for the twofold object of seeing the great falls of the
big river, and also getting amongst the elephant.

He could not help smiling with satisfaction, as he saw Dick raise one
foot to the stirrup, and spring into the saddle; the boy seeming to have
grown lithe and strong as the young leopard with his healthy life in the
open air.

There was no need to coax his appetite now with luxuries, for his father
used to banter him laughingly about its wolfishness, and compare his
food-assimilating powers to those of Coffee and Chicory--boys who could
literally graze upon meat by the hour together, and then grin, and show
their teeth with satisfaction.

With his returning health, Dick had grown daring to a degree that was
almost rash, so that Jack felt at times quite thrown into the shade.

Dick winced a little upon this occasion, for the tremendous scratching
he had had from the thorns had left him rather sore; but he soon forgot
all this, and away the party rode, to have a sort of naturalists'
equestrian ramble, to see if they could pick up anything fresh before
they went away.

They rode right off to the plain, noting the various birds among the
bushes, and snakes and lizards wherever there was a dry sandy patch
amongst rocks and stones.  As they reached the part where the trees were
scattered in park-like patches they encountered one of the
bees'-honey-guides too; but as they had an ample supply at the waggon,
and all the buckets being, to Dinny's great annoyance, still in use, the
bees were left in peace.

Game seemed to be scarce upon the plain that morning; but after a time
as they rode round the edge of a clump of trees, so beautiful in their
disposition that they seemed to have been planted there for ornament,
Mr Rogers saw, a couple of miles away upon the open plain, a herd of
something different to any of the animals they had before encountered.

He took out his glass and carefully inspected them, but declared himself
no wiser.

"Well, boys," he said, "whether we shoot one or no, we'll have a canter
after them.  Let's keep down in that hollow, and round the little hill
there, so as to approach unseen.  Look out for ant-bear holes.  And now,
one--two--three--forward!"

A touch from the heel made the beautiful animals they rode bound away,
but with a cry of pain Dick reined in.

"My dear boy, what's the matter?" said Mr Rogers, pulling up, while
Jack returned with a blank look of dismay upon his face.

"Thorns!" cried Dick viciously, as he gave a writhe in his saddle.

"Stop and pick 'em out with a pin," cried Jack.  "Come along, father.
Haw! haw! haw!  I thought he was hurt!"  Then sticking his knees into
his nag's side, he bounded off.

"Poor old fellow!" cried Mr Rogers, laughing.  "You'll soon forget
them."  And he too galloped off, to try and circumvent the herd.

"Go on! ugly old Jack," shouted Dick, as he sat fast, checking his
horse, which wanted to follow.  "You'll get a thorn or two in yourself
some day."

He might have shouted this through a speaking trumpet, and his brother
would not have heard, as, sitting well down in his saddle, he led the
way into the hollow, his father close behind, and both thoroughly
enjoying their gallop.

"I don't care!" cried Dick sulkily, as he sat and watched them.  "Pick
out the thorns with a pin, indeed!  See if I don't stick a pin in old
Jack when he's asleep to-night--and how will he like it?"

Dick gave another writhe as he watched the two riders out of sight, and
then muttering in an ill-used way, "Pick 'em out with a pin indeed!" he
half turned in his seat, lolling in his saddle, and patting and playing
with his horse, when lazily turning his eyes round amongst the clumps of
trees, he saw something moving amongst the leaves.

"Boa-constrictors!" he cried in his astonishment.  "Monsters!  Ugh!  No,
they're those great long-necked giraffes.  They looked just like huge
snakes raising themselves amongst the trees."

Dick forgot all about the thorns as he nipped his nag's sides with his
knees, turned its head, and went off at a canter for the place where the
giraffes, seven or eight in number, were browsing upon the lower
branches of the trees, their long necks seeming to writhe in and out
amongst the branches in a way that quite justified Dick's idea of their
being serpents, for their bodies were invisible among the undergrowth.

For a few minutes the great animals did not see the approach of the
young hunter; but the moment they caught sight of the fleet cob bounding
over the sunburnt grass, they went off at a clumsy, waddling gallop,
scattering as they went, their necks outstretched and eyes rolling;
while the cob seemed to single out a beautifully marked calf, about
two-thirds grown, whose creamy skin was regularly spotted with rich
light brown.

Dick's rifle was slung over his back, but he never once thought of using
it.  In fact, he hardly knew in the excitement of the chase what he
intended, and so he raced on past patch after patch of scattered trees,
and past clumps of thorns, which both he and the cob carefully avoided.

Now they gained a little; but directly after the giraffe whisked its
tail straight up over its back and put on more power, leaving the hunter
some distance behind; and so the race went on for a couple of miles,
Dick never once remembering his thorns, as he knew that it was only a
question of time to run the great animal to a stand.

"Why, I could catch it then," cried Dick excitedly; and sticking his
heels into his horse, away they went over the grassy plain, gaining
rapidly now; and though the giraffe kept on making an effort to increase
the distance, it was of no avail, for the cob raced on closer and
closer, and then avoiding the vicious kicks of the creature, delivered
with tremendous force by its bony legs, the cob raced on alongside.

There was a wonderful difference in the progress of the two animals--the
one awkward, and seeming as if running on stilts; the other compact,
muscular, and self-contained, evidently possessing double the endurance
with an equal speed to the giraffe.

On still and on, with the cob's sides flecked with foam, and the giraffe
blundering now as it progressed.  Once it turned sharp off to the left,
but without a touch the cob wheeled as well, and kept alongside,
watchfully keeping clear whenever he saw the giraffe about to kick,
which it tried to do if there was a chance.

Dick was excited with the chase, so was the cob, which stretched out
more and more greyhound fashion as it raced along.

Fortunately, the grassy prairie-like stretch of land was clear of
obstacles, no ant-bear or other burrow coming in their path, or horse
and rider would have fallen headlong; the eyes of both being fixed upon
the beautiful spotted coat of the giraffe, which, after rolling heavily
in its gait for a while, made one more effort to wheel round and
distance its pursuers, but stumbled in the act, and fell heavily upon
its flank.

The cob stopped as if by instinct; and hardly knowing what he was about,
Dick leaped down, avoided a kick by a quick jump, threw himself on to
the giraffe, kneeling upon its neck, and treating it as people do a
fallen horse, holding down its head upon the ground.

"Ah, you may kick and plunge," muttered Dick, panting and hot with his
exertions; "if a horse can't get up with his head held down, you can't."

And so it proved, for though the unfortunate giraffe kicked and plunged
as it lay upon its flank, going through the motions of galloping, it was
completely mastered without much call for effort.  Certainly Dick's gun
was in his way, but he managed to unsling it with one hand, and threw it
and his hat upon the grass, while the cob stood by, snuffing, snorting,
and excited for a few moments at the giraffe's plunges, but settled down
directly after to graze.

The grass was torn up by the giraffe's hoofs, but finding its efforts
vain, it soon lay perfectly still, uttering a piteous sigh, as much as
to say, "There, kill me out of my misery!" to which Dick responded by
patting its neck and stroking its nose, as he gazed in the great
prominent appealing eye, and noted the gentle mien of the tall animal.

Just as he had made the giraffe be perfectly still, he heard a distant
hail, and looking up, there was Jack coming up at full gallop, waving
his gun over his head, and with his father close behind; for,
unknowingly, the race had led Dick somewhat in the direction taken by
his father and brother, who, after an unsuccessful gallop after a very
wild herd, had drawn rein and witnessed the end of the giraffe chase
through the glass.

"Why, Dick, where are the thorns?" cried his father, as they cantered
up.

"Forgot all about 'em, father.  Isn't he a beauty?"

"Where is he shot?" said Mr Rogers.

"Shot?  He isn't shot.  I ran him down," cried Dick.

"Don't kill him, then," cried Jack.

"Not I.  Shall I let him go?"

"No, no," cried Jack.  "Let's take him back, and tame him."

"I think the taming is already done," said Mr Rogers.  "Here, halter
him round the neck, and muzzle him with this, and you can tie another
thong on at the other side."

As he spoke he took a tethering halter from his saddle-bow; it was
slipped over the giraffe's head, another cord attached so that it could
be held on either side; and when this was done, Mr Rogers held one
rope, Jack the other, and Dick got off the giraffe on the side farthest
from its legs.

But there was no more kick left in the tall creature, which raised its
head, looking humbly at its captors, and then slowly rose, shivering,
and as gentle as a lamb.

"There, Dick, sling your gun and mount," cried his father; "unless you
would rather ride the giraffe."

"Oh, no, thank you," said Dick, slinging his gun and picking up his hat,
prior to mounting his docile cob, after which his father handed him the
end of the rope.

After a sniff or two at their tall companion, the two cobs walked gently
on forward, with the giraffe towering up between.  The poor beast made
no objection to its captivity, beyond sighing a little, but gazed
dolefully at its leaders in turn; the only difficulty experienced in
getting it to the waggon, being how to accommodate the horses' stride to
that of the captive, which stalked contentedly along, with Mr Rogers
bringing up the rear.



CHAPTER FORTY.

ONWARD TO WONDERLAND.

"Bedad, an' his mother must have wathered him well whin he was a babby,
to make him grow like that," cried Dinny, as he saw the tall captive
haltered to a tree by the waggon, and contentedly beginning to browse
upon the tender shoots within its reach.  "Is thim legs rale, Masther
Dick?"

"Real?  Of course, Dinny," said Dick, laughing.

"Shure, an' I didn't know there was any av coorse in the matther," said
Dinny sententiously.  "I thought the injanious baste might have been
brought up in a wet place, and made himshelf shtilts."

"What nonsense, Dinny!" cried Jack.

"Ah, an' I dunno about nonsense, Masther Jack; for I've seen some
wondherful things since I've been in these parts.  An' so we're going to
pack up and go home to-morrow, ain't we?"

"We're going to pack up and go farther into the wilds," said Dick.

"Oh, murther!"

"There's the great fall to see yet, and we've got elephants to shoot."

"Shure an' I don't want any great falls, or for anny one to see it."

"Nonsense, Dinny.  I mean to see the cataract," said Dick.

"Shure, an' it's you as is talking the nonsense now, Masther Dick; for
how could ye see if ye'd got a catharact?"

"What do you mean, Dinny?"

"What do I mane?  Shure it was my own cousin by me mother's side that
had a couple o' bad catharacts in his eyes, and couldn't see a bit till
they took him to the hoshpittle and had 'em out.  Ah, they're mortial
bad things, Masther Dick."

"No, no; I mean a cataract or fall of the river, where it tumbles over
rocks."

"An' what would a river go tumbling off rocks for, Masther Dick?  Why
don't it go along quietly?"

"Ah, you'll see when we get there," said Dick.  "It's a fall like that
where you nearly got drowned, only hundreds of times as big."

"An d'ye expect me to get in a boat at a place like that, Masther Dick?
Now, by this and by that, ye don't if I know it."

"Never mind then, Dinny.  You shall take your gun and shoot elephants.
You know what they're like?"

"Shure, I sin a picture o' one wance," said Dinny.  "It was a little
thing wid two tails, one at aych ind; and the boy as showed me telled me
as they're made of ingy-rubber."

"Ah, yes, they're very little things," said Dick, laughing; and then
they went to their dinner under the tree.

That evening the new pet was well attended to; and the leopard, now
growing a fine sleek beast that loved to roll and gambol with the dogs,
given his evening meat; and the remains of the daylight were spent in
packing.

Next morning early, with the skin secure on the waggon-tilt, the sleek
oxen were once more in-spanned, and the waggon rolled merrily on towards
the falls of the Zambesi.

Four days trekking through a beautiful country brought them to where a
continuous vibrating roar was always in the air, and in the distance
what seemed to be one continuously changing cloud, which was lit up by
the sun in a wondrous succession of hues.

The boys grew excited with expectation; and Dinny's face became very
blank as he whispered to Dick,--

"Shure, the river don't always go on tumbling like that, Masther Jack,
do it?"

"Always, Dinny," said Jack, as he too listened, with a feeling of awe,
to the falling water.

"Thin it must be giving itself a moighty hard whack upon the shtones it
falls on, to make it roar like that," said Dinny in a serio-comic
fashion, and he went off to attend to the fire as, the General having
pointed out a capital place for a halt, Mr Rogers gave the word, and
the camp was rapidly formed.

They had come through plenty of beautiful scenery, but the rich verdure
and beauty of the palms, ferns, and other foliage-growths, watered as
they were by the soft hazy spray that came from the mighty falls, was
beyond anything they had yet seen, and fully justified Mr Rogers'
remark, half made aloud,--

"What a glorious place this world is after all!"

A strong thorn kraal was formed, and after a good feed the horses and
oxen were secured, and resisting the temptation to go that night to
inspect the falls--a very dangerous experiment in the dark--the fire
blazed up, watch was set, and the sight deferred to the following day.

All that night Dick and Jack, when they they were not on watch, dreamed
of roaring lions, and falls of water, and then of thunderstorms; but
towards morning the heavy dull hum lulled them to sleep, a sleep so
sound that Coffee and Chicory amused themselves for ten minutes tickling
their noses with strands of grass, before they could get them awake.

Then they both jumped up in an ill-temper, each seizing a
dark-complexioned tormentor to punch and bang; but the sight of the Zulu
boys' merry laughing faces, lit up by their bright eyes and white teeth,
disarmed all anger, and Dick and Jack rubbed the last relic of the
night's sleep out of their eyes, and went to breakfast.

The General had been at the falls before, and as soon as the camp was
considered straight, Dinny, Peter, and Dirk were left behind, and the
three bosses, as Chicory called them, went off, with the father to
guide, the Zulu boys carrying a basket of food.

The brilliancy of the greens of the various trees around gave an
additional charm to what was always a very beautiful landscape, for here
it was never dry, and the consequence was that every tree, plant, and
tender herb was in the highest state of luxuriance.

They kept a sharp look out for enemies in the shape of large animals,
but nothing was seen; and following the General in single file, they
went on and on, with the awful thunder in the air growing deeper and
louder at every step.

No water was in sight as they went carefully through the trees and huge
fronded ferns; nothing but verdure of the richest hues, the sun shining
through it, and making the dewy leaves glisten with a sheen like that of
many precious stones.

So loud though was the roar of the water that they knew that they must
now be near, when all at once they reached an opening in the forest, and
Mr Rogers and his sons involuntarily paused, to gaze at a rainbow of
such beauty, and apparently so near that it was hard to believe that by
stretching out the hand it could not be touched.

Even as they gazed it disappeared, but only to appear again a little
farther off, and in a slightly different position.  Then it was gone
again, and so on and on, a dozen times or so; but always beautiful
beyond the power of description.

When they were weary of gazing the General smiled, and went on again
towards a soft pearly-looking mist, almost like the thinnest smoke; and
for this the boys took it, till Mr Rogers whispered that it was the
fine spray rising in clouds from the falls.

On they went, slowly, down amongst fern-hung rocks, and narrow ravines
full of rich foliage, while tall palms stood up every here and there
like columns; and then all at once the General stood aside, and the
party, with the earth trembling beneath their feet, passed through a
screen of trees, and stood gazing at one of the wonders of the world.

Right and left, as far as they could see for the trees, and
comparatively close to them, the waters of the great river were passing
over and between a vast barrier of rocks, forming numberless cataracts,
some small, some of large volume.  In places these fell in a smooth
glassy body of water towards them, in a glistening curve, down far below
and out of their sight, while others fell from rocky shelf to shelf, to
be broken up into foam and spray as, glistening and white, they hurried
down to join more broken water, as far down as they could see.

Where they stood was thirty or forty feet below the level of the river
before it made its spring; but how far down it fell into the awful gulf
at their feet they could not tell, but the depth seemed to be immense.
Mr Rogers afterwards said it was 400 feet.

The first instinct of the boys was to go nearer, but, with a look of
alarm, the General grasped Jack by the arm, and showed him that the
ground sloped so and was so slippery, that to get near enough to see the
bottom of the fall would have been to run the greatest risk of falling
headlong into the awful abyss.

In mute amazement then they stood, watching the long line of cataracts,
endless as it were in the beauty and variety of their forms.

Wonder upon wonder seemed to greet the eye in the colour of the waters
as they flashed in the sun, some descending in huge solid glassy masses
of water, others in tiny spirts that seemed to make a leap on their own
account into the vast chasm, falling at last like a shower of fine rain.

"I could stand and look at it for ever, father," said Dick, in a low,
awe-inspired voice.  "Look at the foam there! look at that spray!  The
water is quite white there!  And that great fall there, see how it
glistens!  Oh, how I should like to be below, and see where the water
strikes, and churns up together.  Could a boat get there?"

Mr Rogers smiled, and shook his head.

"Then I should like to be a bird," said Dick quietly, "and fly softly
through that great gulf."

"Till the water made your wings wet, and you fell in and were drowned,"
said matter-of-fact Jack.  "I shouldn't; but I should like to get close
to the edge, and see the falls from the bottom to the top."

But the General shook his head, and said that it could not be done.

As they grew more used to the scene, they made out that the range of
cataracts was much farther away than they had at first thought, being
quite a couple of hundred yards; but the awful thunderous roar, the
trembling of the earth beneath their feet, and the strange vibration in
the air, seemed to confuse them, so that everything seemed unreal and
strange, and the whole vision like some dream.

They gazed on, never weary of the beauty of the great falls; and then,
following their guide, he led them from place to place, so that they
could see the huge serpentine gorge in which the river ran after its
fall, rushing wildly between two grand walls of rock, its rage becoming
the more furious from its being a mighty broad river above the falls,
and then having to compress itself into a gorge not a thirteenth part of
its original width.

The speed of the river as it foamed along in this terrible ravine,
seemed absolutely frightful, and in places where the rocks had to bear
the brunt of the current as it made some sudden turn, the din was
terrific.

Hours were spent in gazing at the verdure-carpeted rocks, the brilliant
rapids, the wondrous twining creepers, and, above all, at the beauties
of this wonder of the world; and then at last they tore themselves
unwillingly away, to attend to such ladly matter-of-fact affairs as
eating and drinking.  After this, as sunset was growing near, they
stopped to see the gorgeous tints upon the clouds of vapour, and the
fresh rainbows that kept coming and going as if by magic.

At last they tore themselves away, silent and awe-inspired at the
wonders upon which they had gazed, the deep thunder of the falling
waters rolling in their ears as they journeyed on, and keeping up its
solemn boom night and day.

Now as the wind wafted it towards them it came in a deep roar, but only
to soften and become distant, swelling, and rising, and falling, filling
their dreams again, as they lay beneath the shelter of the canvas tilts,
and seeming to wake them at the break of day.



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

ONWARD FROM WONDERLAND.

They lingered about the falls for days, to revel in the beauties of the
mighty cataract and the great gorge through which the waters afterwards
ran.  Then unwillingly the oxen were in-spanned, and their course was
directed up the river, beyond the beautiful islands, and on mile after
mile, till the bright transparent river flowed smoothly downward, and
from its reedy banks plenty of game was obtained, the birds being
plentiful, and very welcome as a change.

It was rather a dangerous haunt here on account of the crocodiles, but
Jack was so passionately fond of fishing that he was humoured at times,
and some transparent nook was chosen where the others could keep a look
out for crocodiles; and as Jack fished, Dick would lie down upon the
bank, with his face at times close to the water, and gazing through its
limpid depths he tried to trace the long stalks of the water-lilies
which rose from the depths to expand their broad leaves and cap-like
flowers on the surface.  The great reeds, too, rising joint by joint
till their arrowy heads and green streamer-like leaves were in the broad
sunshine, seemed to be moving and to quiver in the clear water.

This sub-fluvial growth was so beautiful that Dick never grew weary of
watching it; while the coming and going of the many brightly-tinted
fish, darting about among the water-plants or hanging poised in the
sunlit depths, with their burnished scales flashing silvery and
steel-blue rays, added greatly to the interest of the scene.

"Let us know when you see one coming," Jack would say; and now and then
Dick would whisper that a large perch-like fish, or perhaps one of the
huge eely siluri, was approaching; though just as often Coffee or
Chicory would utter a word of warning, when a rifle-bullet would be sent
to startle some great crocodile, floating in fancied security down the
calm waters, its hideous eyes turned from side to side in search of
prey.

Once only did they succeed in getting the monster ashore, the others,
when hit, sinking sullenly to the bottom, or descending with a rush that
made the water foam.

The want of a boat prevented them from having far more sport upon the
river; but, as Mr Rogers said, they had come upon a land expedition,
and their horses were getting fresh for want of work.  So Jack had to
bring his fishing to an end; though, truth to tell, it was not much of a
loss, for his additions to the larder in the way of fish were not
particularly large, nor so toothsome as they might have been.

The good old round-hand copy slip, "Familiarity breeds contempt," is
thoroughly exemplified in South Africa; and it is fortunate that this is
the case, or it would be hard work travelling across a country where
every stone may conceal a poisonous serpent, every clump of rocks hold
the lurking-place of a boa-constrictor, and every patch of grass its
prowling lion or fierce rhinoceros--where a walk along a river's bank
may invite a charge from the fierce hippopotamus, and no man can bathe
without running the risk of being pulled under water and devoured by
that loathsome saurian lizard the crocodile.

But familiarity breeds contempt, and after the first nervousness has
worn off people go about in South Africa in a calm matter-of-fact way,
without troubling themselves about their hidden enemies, otherwise than
by taking ordinary precautions, and keeping what a sailor would call a
sharp look out for squalls.

If this were not so life would be almost intolerable, and every one
would exist in a state of nervous trepidation as hard as that of the
classical gentleman who passed his time with a keen sword suspended over
his head by a single hair--no doubt of a kind such as would make an
admirable roach-line for a fisherman.

The members of Mr Rogers' hunting expedition thus passed their time
happily enough in the continuous round of excitement, taking the
pleasure and the pain turn and turn as they came; not grumbling at
thorns, or weariness, or mosquito bites; resting when they grew weary,
and putting up with hard couches, hunger, and thirst, as they came,
without a murmur.  They looked out for danger in a sharp matter-of-fact
way, and by consequence rarely had a mishap; while Dinny, who was a
perfect slave to his fears, and never stirred without taking the most
wonderful precautions, generally managed to come in for the worst of the
misfortunes that affected the camp.

It was he who would manage to run his head in the dark amidst the
prickly euphorbias.  If there was a cloud of vicious gnats, Dinny
generally got bitten.  If there was a poisonous snake anywhere near the
camp, Dinny tried to put his foot upon it; and over and over again when
near the crocodile-haunted streams he sauntered regularly into the
ferocious creature's way.

The General and his boys saved him from several perils, over and over
again.  But Dinny never seemed to realise that his own want of care got
him into trouble, always declaring that it was "a baste of a place," and
no more to be compared to Ould Oireland than a beggar was to a king.

Dinny's grumblings would soon have proved to be a nuisance, but for a
certain quaintness of humour in the man, which supplied matter for mirth
when he was most disagreeable; and in spite of his defects, he was very
useful in his way.

While camp was kept up near the great falls, Jack and Chicory had some
splendid nesting expeditions, the pendulous weaver, birds' nests coming
in largely for their attention.  They disturbed very few though, for, as
Jack said, it was hard upon the poor birds, seeing what a lot of enemies
they had--artful monkeys slipping down the long thin branches, till they
could hang by one hand, and thrust the other little thin brown extremity
up the bottle-neck shaped opening, to forage for eggs or young birds, as
the case might be.

Then there were the snakes--long, thin, twining creatures, a yard or a
yard and a half long, but no thicker than the finger.  These showed no
little cleverness in ascending trees, and proceeding along the branches
till they found their way to a nest, where, in spite of the frantic
cries and flutterings of the birds, the little serpent would glide in,
and the parents might go and start afresh, for their labours would prove
to have been only to find the little snake a pleasant larder, where it
could coil up and glut itself with food.

Many of these twining little creatures fell victims to Jack's shot-gun,
as well as to that of his brother, the guns being constantly in use as
well to bring down the brilliantly plumaged birds that abounded in the
rich forest growth of this well-watered land.

The glorious scenery of wood, rock, and water had to be left, though, at
last; and at the General's suggestion, and by way of change, the more
rugged part of the country was now sought; though even here there was
plenty of wood, and they passed along the banks of a pleasant stream
that had its rise somewhere in the mountainous region ahead.

And now Mr Rogers began to look out anxiously for a danger that, though
small, was terribly insidious, and one which, if not avoided, would
bring a misfortune upon them that they would have given anything to
avoid.

This danger was the notorious tsetse fly, whose bite was generally fatal
to horses, the poisonous nature of the little creature so infusing
itself in the blood of the unfortunate horses bitten that they gradually
died off without their owners being able to do anything to save them.

Fortunately the limits of the land occupied by these dangerous little
creatures is pretty well-known, and those who venture upon it with
horses do so at their own risk.

Game had been rather scarce for some days, when, mounting their horses,
Dick and Jack left their father with the waggon, and went in search of
something suitable for present use.

Partly for the sake of their help, but more particularly to give them a
change, Pompey and Caesar were let loose, the latter following Dick down
to the low land at the side of the stream.

It was a tolerably open place, dotted with willow-like trees rising from
amongst the thick grass; and they had not gone far before, after a good
deal of rustling about among the reeds and grass, Caesar started
something, which, however, refused to come into sight, but kept running
from cover to cover, till at last, as Caesar was diligently hunting it
by scent, Dick caught sight of a dark back, and a head bearing a pair of
stout, fully-ringed horns, curved back in a remarkable way, and ending
in very sharp points.

It was but a moment's glance, and he had no time to fire before the
creature was out of sight again; and he rode on right to the very edge
of the stream, where he arrived just in time to see the antelope leaving
the water, across which it had swum, and Caesar puffing and panting as
he swam on in the creature's wake.

The antelope looked so playful and full of life as it shook its head to
get rid of the water that streamed from it, with the drops flashing in
the sun, that Dick sat like a statue upon his cob; and though he held
his rifle ready, he forgot to fire, but let the buck bound out of the
shallow water on to the bank and disappear amongst the trees, where it
went off at a tremendous rate, while Caesar, as he reached the bank in
turn, paused to get rid of some water by a good shake, and then stood
and gazed at his master, and howled with disappointment that he should
not have attempted to shoot.

The consequence was that Dick, after a long ride returned empty to camp,
where Jack, however, had preceded him, having been less scrupulous, and
bearing before him a good-sized springbok, which he had brought down
with the longest shot he had ever made.



CHAPTER FORTY TWO.

A QUARREL BETWEEN TWO ENEMIES.

They struck off next day into a wilder portion of the country still, the
oxen trekking up close to the foot of the mountains, the intention being
to leave the plains for the present, their attractions beginning to
fail, especially as the party had no desire to keep on slaughtering the
many varieties of antelope that offered themselves as easy victims to
their rifles.

"Let's have something more exciting and manly, father," exclaimed Dick.
"Of course we must keep on shooting for the pot, just as a sheep has to
be killed now and then at home.  But we don't want to turn butchers."

The General nodded approval, and said that they would now be amongst the
lions again, while on the other side of the stretch of rocky country in
which they were, he was sure that they would find elephant and buffalo.

The elephants had kept so long out of their sight that the boys began to
despair of ever coming in sight of one of the monsters; but when they
said so to the old Zulu warrior, he only laughed, and said, "Wait."

"It seems to me as if they have all been shot," said Jack.

But the General shook his head.

"Plenty of elephants," he said; "only wait."

Pieces of stone had to be used in addition to thorns to make the
cattle-kraal where they now halted, for the land was comparatively
sterile after the lush vegetation of the plains; but a little valley
supplied ample pasturage for the cattle, and abundant water, and the
rocky defiles around promised sport of a different kind to any they had
before enjoyed.

Hardly had they pulled up at the spot chosen for the temporary camp,
before Dick called his brother's attention to a couple of huge birds,
sailing round and round upon extended motionless wings over and about
the rocky crags and points far above their resting-place.

"Eagles!" cried Jack excitedly.

And as he spoke the boys saw one of the great birds swoop down behind a
peak and disappear, rising almost directly after with something dark in
its talons, and flying straight off to a shelf of rock far away.

This was new game indeed, and the boys were eager to go off after the
great birds; but they had to help settle camp-matters first, the rule
being that at every halt the first thing attempted was to put the place
in a state of defence.

When this was done there were the pets to see to--the leopard and
giraffe, both of which had grown perfectly tame, the leopard being as
playful as a kitten, and the giraffe calmly bringing its head down low
enough to have its nose rubbed, while it munched at the handful of fresh
tender shoots offered as a token of good will.

Then there were the horses to watch and tend, wood to cut, and fire to
make; so that there was plenty of work for all.  But "willing hands make
light work," as the saying goes, and they were just congratulating
themselves upon the successful nature of their arrangements, the little
camp presenting all they required as a centre from which to start upon
hunting expeditions--to wit, good pasturage, abundant water, and
security against the attack of lions who might mistake their cattle for
the wild creatures of the plains.

"This place ought to do for a week, boys," said Mr Rogers; "and now
we'll take our rifles and have a look round to see what game we are
likely to find, and also keep a sharp look out for danger."

"Danger?" said Jack.  "What sort?"

"Well, I should say there would be plenty of serpents in amongst those
sun-baked crags up above, probably a lion or two, plenty of eagles,
and--ah, it is impossible to say what we may meet with in a place like
this."

"I shall tell Dinny that crocodiles very likely swarm up here, that they
come up out of the river at this season of the year, and lie in wait
amongst the rocks."

"I think I would confine myself to the truth, Jack," said his father
drily.  "Now, are you both loaded?  Then come along."

It was a steep climb upwards, far more so than it looked from below, and
they were toiling up over the sunburnt grass towards where the rocks
rose up precipitously on either side of the narrow gully, when a word of
warning from the General arrested them, and the rifles of all were held
ready.

For all at once, from behind a mass of rock a couple of hundred yards in
front and above them, a large black rhinoceros trotted into view,
holding up its head, and displaying its two horns against the grey rock
behind him; and then seeing the hunting-party, it snorted and squealed
in a most peculiar pig-like fashion, and began to trot towards them.

"Don't fire unless you have a good chance," cried Mr Rogers; "and mind,
everybody must make for the rocks, and climb up for safety."

But there was no need for flight.  Hardly had the clumsy-looking monster
commenced its headlong charge, when the precipitous rocks echoed to a
hollow roar, and a patch of dry grass seemed to have been suddenly
endowed with life, and to fling itself upon the shoulders of the
charging beast.

No one thought of firing; but the whole party stood there watching the
novel sight, as a huge lion, which might have made one of them its
victim, fixed its teeth and claws in the neck and shoulders of the
rhinoceros; and as the furious frightened beast tore on down the defile,
dragging the lion with it, the latter seemed to give a spring, and fixed
its hind quarters firmly upon the tough pachyderm's back.

"Big lion much hungry," said Coffee quietly.  "Nosros' skin very hard."

As he spoke Jack had gone down upon one knee, and sent a bullet after
the fast-receding pair, the echoes of the rifle report mingling with the
hoarse snorting bellow of the rhinoceros.

Dick, roused by his brother's example, also took aim and fired, his
father following last.

Then the two animals disappeared from view, evidently passing pretty
near the waggon, but fortunately missing the little valley where the
cattle were grazing.

"Coffee is right," said Mr Rogers; "that lion must have been ravenous,
or it would not have attacked such a beast as that.  Well, boys, you
must keep a bright look out, for we, shall have to meet the enemy here."

"Hadn't we better go after the rhinoceros?" said Dick.

"What would be the use?" said his father; "the monster is going at a
tremendous rate.  No: let's go higher up amongst the rocks."

They passed several snakes, and found one boa-constrictor, a
comparatively small one though, which Coffee and Chicory attacked as it
lay basking in the sunshine, its bright brown and yellow markings
glistening in the bright light.

The boys made their arrangements very quickly, and without the slightest
hesitation Coffee walked up to the reptile, and as it raised its head
menacingly he struck it down with a blow of his kiri, and a dexterous
chop from Chicory's long-bladed assegai took off its head.

What had before seemed a sluggish inert body, now, as in a former case,
became instantly endowed with spasmodic life, leaping from the stones,
twisting, twining, knotting itself, and then unfolding and reknotting
itself in the most extraordinary manner, the grey rocks around being
spattered with the blood from the bleeding neck, while the severed head
lay slowly gasping, and biting impotently at a few dry blades of grass.

Dick and Jack seemed as if they would have never tired of watching the
reptile, but their father suggested a move onward.

"How long do you think that was, father?" said Dick, as they climbed on,
each step bringing them to a more toilsome way.

"Probably a dozen feet, and a good deal thicker than my arm," replied
Mr Rogers.  "I should like to see one seize its prey, though, and watch
the whole course of its constricting and swallowing the animal it has
caught.  And now, boys, I think we will go up as far as the end of this
narrow pass, and then turn back and close the camp for the evening."

They went to the end, always rising, with the scenery growing wilder and
more grand at every step; and at last Mr Rogers paused.

"Oh, let's go up to the top now," cried Dick eagerly.

"You can, boys; but make haste," said their father.

"The top" was the edge of a ridge some four hundred feet above their
heads, and as Mr Rogers sat down to rest, the boys climbed on, finding
the difficulties of the ascent greater than they had expected; but they
kept on, manfully helped by Coffee and Chicory, who were always ready to
push, to pull, or hold a rifle, and in this way they reached what proved
to be quite a narrow edge, with some jagged pinnacles on their right,
and a steep slope in front.  But what took their attention most was an
eagle in full pursuit of a lovely little slender-legged gazelle, which
was straining every effort as it came up a long narrow defile to escape
from its terrible enemy.

The gazelle was quite a hundred yards below them to their left as they
saw it first, and they watched its progress with a fascinated interest
as it came nearer as if to pass them, with the eagle gliding along over
it as it bounded along, and then making dart after dart at it with its
tremendous claws.

The eagle looked as huge as the gazelle looked graceful and tiny; and
each moment the boys made sure that it was struck, but the baffled eagle
rose again and again for another swoop, till, unable to bear it longer,
Dick threw himself upon his face, rested his rifle upon the ridge in
front, took a careful aim, fired; and Jack shouted "Hurray!" for as the
smoke rose, and the echoes died away in the distance, the eagle could be
seen lying flapping its wings upon the ground, raising a cloud of dust
about it, and the gazelle disappeared round some rocks; while Coffee and
Chicory, kiri in hand, were sliding down the rocky face of the
precipice, to cross a narrow chasm below, bent upon finishing the
monstrous bird's struggles with the kiris they grasped in their hands.

The place they descended was almost dangerous at times, but the two Zulu
boys made nothing of it, and were soon approaching the spot where the
bird had fallen.

As it saw them approach, it left off flapping its wings, turned itself
upon its back, and struck at them savagely with its powerful talons.

The boys were not daunted though, and making a dash in, Coffee struck at
the bird and missed it, receiving, in return for his intended blow, an
ugly scratch from the eagle, which was about to bury its beak in his leg
when Chicory's kiri struck it heavily upon the neck, and the fight was
over; the bird's head dropping upon one side, and its powers of doing
mischief for ever gone.

Then each seized a wing, and they bore it in triumph to their young
leaders, who in turn helped to carry the majestic bird down to where Mr
Rogers was waiting, ready to take great interest in their prize, but
also eager to hurry them back to the waggon, where they arrived to find
all right, and the cattle carefully secured in their kraal.



CHAPTER FORTY THREE.

DINNY IN "THROUBLE" AGAIN.

"An' if there was one there was over a thousand of thim, sor," cried
Dinny, a day or two later, when he had been out with Peter to bring back
a strayed ox.  "Ye niver see such savage little men in yer loife, sor.
They came at us shouting bad language, and calling us all the blayguards
they could lay their tongues to; and then one avil-looking owld
reprobate ups wid a shtone and throws it at me.  That was jist what the
others wanted--a bad patthern, sor--and they began shying shtones as
hard as they could, till Pater and me was obliged to re-threat."

"And you ran away, Dinny?" said Dick; "you let the baboons drive you
back?"

"The which, sor?"

"The baboons, Dinny; the apes."

"Ah, ye can call 'em by that name, Masther Dick, if ye loike; I calls
'em little stumpy men, and as ugly as anything I iver see."

"Well, we shall have to go and pepper them," said Jack.  "Let's go and
tell father, Dick."

"Shure, ye may pepper and salt 'em too, Masther Jack," said Dinny,
grinning, "but ye'll niver make anything of 'em but the toughest mate ye
iver saw in yer loives."

"Ah, well, Dinny, we'll see," said Jack; and the two boys went and told
Mr Rogers of Dinny and Peter having been attacked by a troop of
baboons, that were close up to the camp amongst the rocks.

"How much of it is exaggeration?" said Mr Rogers, who was busy filling
out some choice bird-skins, the bright plumed coverings of some of the
natural history treasures he had secured.

"Some of it, of course, father," replied Dick.  "But they are both cut
about the faces with stones."

This being the case, it was decided to try and scare off the little
vicious animals with a few charges of duck-shot, reserving the bullets
in their rifles in cases of extremity.

Dinny said he was too much hurt to go to the attack; but the rest of the
forces were collected, and, led by Peter, they made their way up over
the ridge into the next valley; but no baboons were in sight, and though
they went on their trail for some little distance, it seemed to be a
useless task; so, sending part of their little company back, Mr Rogers
went in one direction, the boys in another, to pass round a rocky hill
and meet upon the other side.

Everything was very silent in the stillness of the hot midday, and what
with the sun's torrid beams, and the reflection from the rocks, progress
was very slow, till a faint bleating noise, that seemed to come from
behind a patch of rocks, made the boys cock their pieces, and approach
cautiously.

They were so accustomed to hunting now, that they had no difficulty in
stalking up to the clump of rocks, and there, sheltered behind some
bushes, they stood with presented pieces, ready to fire, but hesitating
for a time before the novelty of the scene.

Just in a depression amongst the rocks, where there was an open patch of
fine grass, crouched an antelope, with a glossy black skin, and a pair
of the longest and most beautifully curved horns they had ever seen.

Dick knew it in a moment as the swart vitpense, or lion-killer, as it
was called by the Boers; and sure enough it was there at bay before a
large tawny lion, crouched ready to spring, but hesitating to bound and
impale itself upon those two finely pointed horns, which the antelope's
lowered head pointed straight for the charge.

Twice over the monster seemed about to spring, but each time it
hesitated, shuffling its feet beneath it, and altering its position more
to the right; but the antelope had no intention of being taken in flank,
and kept changing front so as to meet the attack.

Then for the first time, they saw that the antelope had its little one
beneath it, and with all a mother's instinct she was protecting it with
her horns.

This roused the boys on the instant.  They had no sooner seen the head
of that antelope and its wondrously beautiful horns, than they made up
their minds to add it and its skin to their collection.  But the brave
mother's defence of her offspring won the young hunters to her side, and
they had just levelled their rifles for a deadly shot at the lion, when
it took them unawares, making a sudden spring, meaning to seize the
antelope on the shoulder; but she had twisted a little round, so that
the great cat threw itself right upon the two keen points, which passed
completely through its body.

At the same moment the little antelope dashed away, and there was a
horrible struggle going on upon the patch of grass, the lion growling
and snarling hideously as it struck at the antelope, and then strove to
get free from the horns which the swart vitpense dragged out, and then
stood up shivering by its assailant, which, far from thinking of
attacking again, lay upon its side, biting the grass and tearing at the
ground in its impotent fury.

Dick would have fired, but the monster had evidently received its death
wound; and it was well he and his brother reserved their charges, for,
as the injured lion lay wallowing in its blood, making the rocks echo to
its agonised roar, and as the poor torn antelope stood shivering and
bleeding there, another fierce roar was heard, and a second lion bounded
into the depression, crouched, and sprang.

But quick as he was, the wounded antelope was quicker.  Dropping upon
her knees, her head was lowered, and the second lion leaped right upon
her horns, dragging itself back, spitting and snarling with rage and
pain, and then rolling over with a couple of bullets through its
shoulder.

The boys loaded, and fired again at the second lion, which, though half
paralysed, strove furiously to get at its aggressors; but in vain, for a
third bullet made it roll over dead.

The first lion was already at its last gasp, and there was no longer any
need for caution; so, running forward, Dick made for the black antelope
that was lying upon its side, horribly torn, and with its eyes fast
glazing; for the weight of the second lion in its bound upon her horns
had dislocated her neck.

"Poor creature!" cried Dick.  "Oh, Jack, I'd give something to be able
to bring the poor thing back to life."

"Why, Dick?" asked his father, who had heard the firing and ran with the
General to join them.  "Yes," he said, when he had heard his sons'
narrative; "poor brave creature!  I would gladly see it bounding over
the plains again.  Why, boys, you are growing quite mighty hunters in
the land.  Only," he added, smiling, "the antelope would have killed the
lions without your help.  But what a head--what horns!  That skin must
be taken off carefully, boys, and the head preserved as our greatest
trophy.  Yes," he said, measuring, "the horns are quite--no--three
inches short of five feet long, and as sharp as needles at the points.
You know what it is, of course?"

"Yes," said Dick, admiring the jetty black skin and white underneath
parts, "the swart vitpense."

"Yes, or sable antelope," said Mr Rogers.  And then all set to work
skinning, and a hard, hot, weary task they had before the two lions' and
the sable antelope's skins, were lying upon the ground, when the
vultures, patiently waiting at a distance, were allowed to come on to
their banquet.

By this time Coffee and Chicory had come up on their trail, and helped
to carry back the spoil.



CHAPTER FORTY FOUR.

ELEPHANTS IN SIGHT.

In spite of their searching, the baboons were not seen till camp was
being moved again to cross the ridge and descend into the plain, when
the vicious little animals made so desperate an attack upon the party,
throwing stones with such accuracy, that they had to be treated to a
volley, and then to a second, before the troop, quite a hundred strong,
took to flight; and the dogs killed the wounded left upon the ground,
but only at the expense of some vicious bites from the dying apes.

They were fired at with no little compunction, for mingled with their
dog-like aspect there was a great deal that was terribly human, and
after shooting one of the largest and fiercest, Dick said he felt as if
he had committed a murder.

It was, however, a work of necessity, and nothing but a vigorous attack
sufficed to drive the malicious little monsters away.

"Anywhere near the Boer settlements these creatures do infinite
mischief," Mr Rogers said, "watching for, and destroying the lambs to a
terrible extent."

Days of weary trekking across plains before they came into pool-strewn
land, where the footprints of buffalo were here and there obliterated by
the monstrous round track left by the elephant.

And now for the last time before beginning the return journey they
formed camp, and prepared for some of the most serious part of their
hunt.

The General said that the elephants must be plentiful, and promised to
show them the next day; but the boys seemed hardly to have sunk into a
profound slumber, when they were roused by Chicory to tell them that
there were elephants in the open forest close at hand.

The news was electrical, and in a very few minutes they were standing
ready with their father; and strict silence being enjoined, they
followed the Zulu warrior through the thin forest by the light of the
moon, till, advancing very cautiously, the General made an observation
or two, and then came back and led the little party to where they could
peer from amidst the trees and dimly see, looming up from the edge of a
great pool, the bodies of twenty or thirty elephants of all sizes,
busily drawing up water in their trunks and squirting it into their
mouths.

This they continued for some time, grunting, snorting, and uttering a
peculiar sigh now and then, when, to Dick's surprise, he suddenly seemed
to see the huge bodies of the elephants more plainly, and knew that the
day was breaking.

There was one great beast standing not forty yards from him, swinging
its trunk to and fro, and flapping its enormous leather-like ears
against its neck; when, unable to resist the temptation, and without
pausing to consider whether it was wise or no, he took a quick aim at
the back of the huge creature's head; there was a flash, and as the
report of Dick's piece rang out, a tremendous rush, and the elephant
herd had gone thundering over the plain.

But not all.  The large tusker had fallen over upon its side by the
pool, and on making a circuit so as to get at it from the side of the
plain, Dick advanced to find that he had made a most fortunate shot, and
as he drew near felt struck with wonderment at the huge proportions of
his first elephant.

After feasting their eyes, the party returned to camp for something
substantial in the way of breakfast, made toothsome with guinea-fowl, of
which they shot several; and directly after the General went off to chop
out the splendid pair of tusks, Dinny accompanying him to have a look at
the "ingy-rubber."

This done, they started to follow up the trail of the elephants, for it
was Jack's turn now, and his father wished to add a few tusks to the
load of treasures in skins they were to take back.

A long and wearisome following of the trail had no result, for it was
evident that they had been so scared by the loss of their companion that
they had gone straight off without pausing to feed, in search of safer
ground.

The heat was terrible, and at last they were compelled to halt beneath
the shade of a clump of trees to rest and refresh.

This was followed by a nap, and afterwards, they felt so disheartened
and footsore that they decided to return.

"Let's go back, father," Dick had said, "and come on to-morrow morning
with the horses."

"To be sure," said Jack.  "We could canter straight here without loss of
time."

"What do you say, General?" asked Mr Rogers.

"I say it would be wise," replied the Zulu.  "The elephants leave their
path behind them, and you can come up rested and ready to fire."

Even without these remarks Mr Rogers would have returned, for the dread
of over-fatiguing Dick, would have been quite sufficient to make him
pause.  The boy had altered wonderfully; but still there were limits to
the fatigue he could bear.

They went quietly back, then, as the sun was getting low, and contented
themselves with a few shots at the guinea-fowl which came over by
hundreds, on their way to particular spots to roost.

Before daylight, though, the next morning, they were in the saddle,
carrying with them provisions and water; and they were miles along the
track before the sun showed, by a robe of orange and a crown of ruddy
rays, that he was about to flood the earth once more with light.

The consequence was that they reached the spot where they had left off
tracking quite early in the morning, the General, Coffee, and Chicory,
although they had run all the way, seeming to be as fresh as when they
had started, and laughing at the idea of their feeling fatigue.

Mr Rogers, however, decided that it would be better to proceed with
judgment, so a second breakfast was eaten under the shade of the trees
where they had rested on the previous day, there being a limpid pool of
water close at hand.

"That's the best way to carry food, Dick," said Jack, laughing.  "I like
to have mine in my inside pocket, where it isn't in the way;" and he
laughed, as he took a great bite out of a piece of cake baked on an iron
plate.

"Ready, boys?" said Mr Rogers, just then.

"Yes, father."

"Mount then, and off."

They were in their saddles on the instant, and made a fresh start, with
the two Zulu boys following the track at a run, till, the sun, growing
exceeding hot, a fresh halt was made, but not until the General had
declared from sundry signs he saw that the elephants had been going
leisurely now, and that he did not think that they were many miles
ahead.

The boys were for immediate pursuit, but common sense suggested a wait,
for a pleasant grove was found close to where the forest seemed to
commence in a very dense thicket, and here a good halt was made.

The sun poured down here with greater violence than they had felt
before, and after lightening their load once more by reducing their
stock of provisions, in spite of their efforts such a drowsiness set in
that in a very short time the whole party were asleep.

Dick was awakened by Coffee laying his hand upon his mouth and shaking
him, whispering the word "Elephant!" in his ear, as he opened his eyes;
while at the same time, Chicory and the General were performing the like
duty for Jack and his father.

Obeying the advice of the General, they all stole off cautiously towards
the dense thicket close at hand, from which came the noise of breaking
branches, and strange snorts and sighs mingled with the squirting and
splashing of water.

In a few words the General explained that the elephants had returned
upon their track to the forest in front, and upon cautiously creeping
from bush to bush to stalk them, each of the party under the guidance of
a Zulu, they found that the dense thicket was a mere band, and that all
beyond it was open park-like land, with several pools scattered about,
in which the elephants were standing, splashing the water, sucking it up
and squirting it over their dark skins, uttering a low sigh of
satisfaction from time to time.

Dick was in an unlucky position, for, while both his father and Jack
were so placed as to get an easy shot at an elephant, he could only fire
at long range.  This, however, he decided to do as soon as his father
and brother had had a shot.

Meanwhile Mr Rogers had marked out for himself a fine young elephant
with moderate tusks.  There was one with bigger tusks behind, but not
being armed with an elephant gun he felt that it would be better to make
sure of the smaller one than risk the loss of all; so approaching
cautiously he did not perceive that the ground before him was swampy,
and fell headlong in the mud and water.

He lay perfectly still, though, and fortunately--unfortunately for him--
the herd did not take flight, but attributing the noise to one of their
fellows, they went on splashing and cooling their sides, breaking off
boughs to tuck into their capacious mouths, writhing and twisting their
probosces about the while.

After a few moments Dick saw his father rise, walk forward to the side
of some bushes, take aim at the elephant he had marked down, and just as
it was passing along towards one of the pools he fired.

The piece made such a strange noise that it alarmed Jack and the
General.  As for Dick, to his horror he saw the rifle fly to pieces, and
his father fall backwards upon the grass.

Dick took no notice of the elephants, which went crashing amongst the
trees, Jack getting a bullet home as they broke towards Dick, nearly
trampling him down in their course as he ran to his father's side.

To his horror Mr Rogers was insensible, surrounded by the fragments of
his shattered gun, his face bleeding profusely, and for the moment Dick
was ready to stand there wringing his hands.

But common sense prevailed.

There was no running into the next street to fetch a doctor, so he
hastily knelt down, and began to pour the contents of his bottle upon
his handkerchief, washing away the blood, and bandaging up the cuts upon
his father's forehead.

This cooling application of water had the effect of making the injured
man open his eyes, and reply to the eager inquiries of his sons.

"Only a bit stunned, my boys, and a few cuts," he said.  "It is a mercy
I was not killed."

"What a bad rifle!" exclaimed Jack indignantly, as he helped his father
to rise.

"What a bad sportsman, you should say, my boy," replied his father,
whose face now looked less pallid.  "I ought to have known better.  My
rifle must have been plugged with mud from my fall, and I did not
examine it first.  That would burst the best gun ever made."

He found he could walk without assistance, and after kneeling down by a
pool that had been left unsullied by the elephants, and having a good
drink and bathe at his wounds, he rose up refreshed, and turned with the
boys to see what was the result of their shots.

Better than they had expected.  Two elephants were badly wounded, and
Chicory had marked them down in a clump of trees half a mile away.

It required caution now to approach them, for the beasts would probably
be furious; but by skilful management they were staked, and the boys,
after two or three shots a-piece, succeeded in laying the monsters low,
each falling over upon its side with a terrible crash.

The General soon hacked out the good-sized tusks, and these were borne
to the grove where the horses had been left to graze.

"It never rains but it pours," said Mr Rogers quietly, as he slapped
the flanks and neck of his horse rapidly.  "Quick, boys, look at your
own, and if they have nothing on them--no little flies something like
house flies--take a tusk each, and ride back along the track as quick as
you can go."

The boys eagerly obeyed, and seeing no trace of flies, mounted, each
with a tusk before him, and cantered away, Mr Rogers following more
slowly with the bay and the Zulus--for the mischief was done; the
terrible tsetse fly had attacked the fine old horse, and it was only a
question of days or weeks before the poison would have finished its
work.

As it proved the two cobs had escaped almost by a miracle; but the
adventure was a warning to the party not to venture further, for they
had evidently made their way into a part of the country where this
terrible enemy to horses abounds.



CHAPTER FORTY FIVE.

A FLIGHT FROM A FLY.

There was no time to lose, for, to the dismay of all, Peter announced
that he had found tsetse fly that afternoon upon the two horses that had
been grazing near the waggon.

"Three horses gone, boys," said Mr Rogers.  "It is a bad job; but it
would have been worse if it had happened to your pets.  We must be well
on the way back into a more wholesome country before day, so lie down
and have a rest at once.  The General or the boys shall go on with you,
so that you may try to save your nags.  I'll come on with the rest."

"But your horses don't seem any the worse for it, father," said Dick.

"No, my boy, and it may not show for days; but the poison will work, and
they will gradually grow weaker and weaker.  They are all doomed."

"But is there no cure for it, father?"

"None that I know of, my boys; and it must act as a preventative to the
opening out of this grand country to civilisation, unless man can
improve these poisonous little pests off the face of the earth."

"It is wonderful," cried Dick; "such a little fly to do so much
mischief."

Coffee and Chicory aroused them hours before it was day, and with the
understanding that they were to keep on till night straight back upon
their old track, the boys started, enjoying to a certain extent the
journey without the waggon, but feeling the awful loneliness of the
country now more and more.

They made the best of their way on, however, getting over all the ground
possible, not halting till it was almost dark, and hardly leaving
themselves time to collect enough wood for a roaring fire, which they
kept blazing turn and turn, for they were in a place where from the
sounds they heard lions seemed to be plentiful once more.

The next morning they were able to add some guinea-fowl and a little
gazelle to their scanty store of dried meat, and as they had nothing now
to do but wait for the coming of the waggon, they amused themselves by
exploring a little here and there as their horses grazed, their ramble
resulting in the discovery of many beautiful flowers and insects, such
as they had not seen before.

That day went by, but still no waggon arrived; and as they again made up
their roaring fire, the boys felt no little uneasiness, till they began
to recall what a slow leisurely crawl was that of the ox-team, and that
they had come over the greater part of their journey at a brisk canter,
with which, by holding on to the cob's mane, the two Zulu boys seemed to
have no difficulty in keeping up.

But all doubts were solved the next morning by the arrival of the
waggon, those who accompanied it being only too ready to join in the
roast ready for breakfast.

There had been no delay; the length of time was only due to the slow
progress of the oxen; and this slow progress continued, as, avoiding the
back track, they made their way by another route to where King Moseti
was ready to receive them with open arms, and was made happy by the
presentation of some of the surplus store of beads and other trifles,
Mr Rogers retaining merely enough for their wants on the way back.

The king was eager enough to be generous in turn, presenting his guests
with several tusks aid some beautiful skins and ostrich feathers, which
added in no little decree to the travellers' store.

Here Mr Rogers shot a couple of hippopotami, and the boys made some
good practice amongst the hideous crocodiles that were every day killing
some one or other of the king's subjects.  Now it was a girl gone down
to draw water; at another time a boy venturing to bathe.  And the
travellers could not help admiring the love of cleanliness amongst these
people, for too often they had to risk their lives for the sake of a
bathe.

The horses had now begun to show signs of having been bitten by the
tsetse fly, the chestnut and grey displaying roughened skins and a
general uneasiness; while the bay, though slightly roughened about the
coat, still held out.

They lost no time then in getting on with their journey southwards,
meeting with plenty of vicissitudes in the shape of hunger, heat, and
thirst, but taking these calmly, along with the good things; and at last
the Limpopo was once more reached.

The reader of this, who knows how easily a person may have his tea in
London and his breakfast the next morning in Scotland--400 miles--may be
surprised to hear that to get over such a distance in South Africa with
a heavy waggon and an ox-team takes over a month; and a driver and
foreloper would consider that they had done well if they had achieved so
much.

For hurrying means losing ground.  The oxen must be kept well-fed with
good pasture, and not overworked, or in a few hours sores will be
produced by the harsh yokes that will take a month to cure, if they ever
heal at all.

But the country was grand, and the weather exceptionally lovely, as they
made their way southward, crossing the Limpopo without accident, in
spite of the crocodiles, Dinny managing to get a place on the top of the
waggon-tilt just before they started to ford the stream.

"Why, what are you doing there, Dinny?" cried Dick, who was the first to
see him.

"Shure, Masther Dick, dear, I was feared for these valuable skins that
lie stretched out here, for I says to meself, `Dinny,' I says, `if the
masther was to have thim skins slip off into the dirthy river, he'd
never forgive himself.'"

So amidst a good deal of laughter Dinny crossed over the crocodile river
on the top of the tilt; while, as much alarmed as he, the dogs, taught
by experience, kept close behind the aftermost oxen's heels, swimming
with the protection of the waggon-wheels on either side.

Mr Rogers proposed that they should go back by way of the district
where there were some curious caves, saying that it would be a pity to
be within reach and not to see them.  So with the intent of making a
halt near them, the General announcing his intention of finding the
place, though he had never been there before, the return journey was
continued.

This return journey was, as maybe supposed, one of months, but it was
not uneventful.  The constant demands of the larder rendered hunting
necessary almost every day; and in these hunting expeditions beautiful
skins, and horns of great size and peculiarity, were obtained.  Every
day, too, added to the collection of gorgeously-plumaged birds and
bright beetles; several times over, too, they were able to add a goodly
bundle of ostrich plumes to the store.

It may sound strange, but over this even Dinny felt aggrieved, coming to
Dick coolly enough one night, just before sleeping time, with,--

"Would ye mind handing me out two or three of thim bundles o' feathers,
Masther Dick, dear?"

"What for, Dinny?" he asked in astonishment.

"An' is it what for?" said Dinny indignantly; "shure, an' ye wouldn't
have a boy slape on the bare flure, when ye've got hapes of feather to
make beds with inside?"

Poor Dinny was sent to the right about, and the feathers had a very
narrow escape the very next day from being burned to blackened ashes.



CHAPTER FORTY SIX.

THE BAY RUNS HIS LAST RACE.

During the long backward journey, poor Smiler the chestnut and Toothpick
the grey succumbed to the poison of the tsetse fly, gradually waning
away so, poor beasts, that Mr Rogers felt glad when on one occasion a
lion leaped upon the half-dead chestnut and dragged it down--dying in
the act though, for Dick's rifle sent a bullet crashing through the
monster's head.

There was the same feeling about poor Toothpick the grey, which lay down
to rest one night, and was found stretched out dead the next morning.

The bay, however, held out; and it was wonderful what vitality he
possessed.  Poor beast! he was faithful to the end, his last act being
the saving of his master's life.

They had out-spanned one night at the edge of avast plain, meaning to
start again early the next morning; but as they rose and gazed at the
vast expanse of sun-dried grass and bushes, dotted all over with great
herds of pallah, koodoo, hartebeeste, and springbok, with zebras and
quaggas, more than they had before seen, both Mr Rogers and the boys
felt that they must have one more day's hunting amongst them; and, each
with his faithful Zulu, they set off to try and stalk one of the herds.

The horses were brought into requisition, and the miles of space
intervening was got over before, by means of his glass, Mr Rogers saw
that they were not alone in the field.

He could just discern horsemen and a waggon on the far side of the
plain, miles away, but their shapes distinctly visible with the glass in
that pure atmosphere, as they lay on a distant ridge, the waggon
standing out against the sky.

They had excellent sport, consequent upon the party on the other side
driving the game in their direction, and, lured on by the fascination of
the pursuit, Mr Rogers had gone farther and farther, till suddenly he
heard a shout from the General.

He needed no telling why the Zulu had been guilty of so unsportsmanlike
a proceeding, for on his right, travelling before the wind at a
tremendous rate, was a perfect hurricane of fire.  By some means the
Boers on the other side had set light to the thick dry grass and bushes,
and to his horror Mr Rogers saw that unless he could get back to where
he had left his horse and gallop off, he would be overtaken by the
flames.

What was worse, he found that the fiery tempest might overtake his sons
unawares, for the probabilities were that the horses would not stand.

Signing to the Zulu to run to the horse, he set off himself, with the
air becoming thick and murky with smoke, so that he feared that he had
lost his way.  But, to his intense delight, upon turning the corner of a
clump of bushes there stood the faithful bay where he had left it, and
with the Zulu at its head holding the reins.

Mr Rogers leaped into the saddle, the General caught hold of the mane,
and away they went at a rapid trot in the direction in which the boys
were believed to be.  But the fire gained upon them so fast that the
rider insisted upon the Zulu mounting behind him, in spite of his
remonstrances.

"Quick!" he cried angrily.

On this the General leaped up behind, and they went at full gallop,
tearing over the ground, the bay straining its sinews to the utmost,
while, as he saw the fire gaining upon him fast, Mr Rogers' heart sank
within him, for he could see no sign of either Dick or Jack, and yet he
was obliged to dash on, for the fire was wrapping round from his left as
if to cut him off.

"Where are the boys?" he groaned as he reached the top of a small
eminence, and drew rein to look around.

"There!" cried the Zulu, pointing.

To his great relief Mr Rogers saw the boys galloping towards him,
evidently coming to his aid.

Waving his hand to them to go back, he galloped down, and before long
had overtaken them, and they rode on side by side, each with a Zulu
behind his saddle, for the fire seemed to come on now with lightning
speed.

"The waggon stands just in the way of the fire, boys," groaned Mr
Rogers, "and we shall never save it unless the oxen are already
in-spanned."

It seemed to be only too true, and they urged on the horses to their
fullest speed.

It was a race for life, and they could hear the flames roaring hungrily
behind them as they tore along, the horses needing neither whip nor spur
to send them at their best pace over the crackling grass.

"Hurrah!" cried Jack.  "I see the waggon."

"And the oxen?" cried Mr Rogers.

"Yes, father--in-spanned.  And they are flying from the fire!"

Mr Rogers uttered a prayer of thankfulness as he rode on, till at the
end of a quarter of an hour they were close up with the waggon, while
the oxen, with Dirk the foreloper at the head and Peter on the box, were
going along in a clumsy gallop, urged by the shouts of their drivers and
their natural dread of the fire, coming after them with the fury of a
whirlwind.

The smoke was now blinding, the heat increasing, and it was hard work to
check the horses, who strove to gallop madly away as soon as they were
lightened of half their loads; for Coffee and Chicory followed the
example of their father in leaping down and running to the side of the
team to help urge on the frightened oxen, till they plunged along in
their clumsy race.

Faster and faster in the wild race for life! the flames roaring as they
came nearer! the waggon thundering over the ground, swaying from side to
side, and threatening each moment to overturn!

Twice it ran upon two wheels for some distance, and the boys knew that
if a stone of any size was met the waggon must be irretrievably wrecked,
and they saw in anticipation the flames overtaking it, scorching up the
valuables it contained, and ending by reaching the ammunition, when
everything must be blown to atoms.

Mr Rogers felt that the case was hopeless.  The flames were close upon
them, and he was about to shout to the people to cut loose the oxen and
leave the waggon to its fate, when he saw Dick spring forward to the
side of the Zulu, who was with Dirk the foreloper, by the leading oxen.

Mr Rogers could not hear what his son said in the deafening roar, but
he saw him point, and the foreloper and the General urged the leading
oxen out of the course they were taking before the flames to one nearly
at right angles, turning them so sharply that the waggon again nearly
overset.  It rose upon two wheels, but sank back on the others with a
crash; the oxen lumbered along in their awkward gallop, and the whole
business seemed madness.

Five minutes later, though, the leader saw that his son's act had been
guided by sound reasoning, for he had directed the team into a broad
open space where there was nothing to feed the flames.  The consequence
was that as the wall of fire reached the edge of the opening it
gradually flickered out there, but rushed along on either side in two
volumes of flame, which joined hands, as it were, below them, and the
fire went roaring along as swiftly as before.

Where they were grouped, in the midst of the open space, they felt the
scorching, were blinded by the smoke, and had a hard matter to keep the
beasts quiet, the leopard howling dismally, and the giraffe thrusting
its head beneath the back of the waggon-tilt, while the horses snorted
and plunged, and the oxen shook their heads, elevated their tails, and
behaved unpleasantly to each other with their horns.

But the danger was past, and at the end of an hour they were able to
trek on over the blackened plain, till they reached the first pool,
where, unpromising as everything was, they were glad to outspan and rest
for a few hours before once more resuming their journey.

But there was no renewal of the journey for the bay.  Poor beast, it had
used up its remaining strength in that, last gallop, and when the time
had come for the renewal of the journey the bay was lying down.

Mr Rogers spoke to it, and the poor animal made an effort to rise, but
merely laid its head quietly down again, uttering a low sigh--and the
faithful beast was dead.



CHAPTER FORTY SEVEN.

HOW DINNY WAS LOST UNDERGROUND.

"I shall be glad to get back home, boys," said Mr Rogers the next
morning, "for the pleasure seems to have gone out of the trip now my
horses are all gone.  Still there is one good thing, boys, yours are
safe."

This was as they were at last getting out of the course of the fire and
on to a tract of grass, so little scorched by the sun and so fertilised
by the stream that ran through that the oxen were out-spanned for a good
feed, as it was doubtful when they might obtain another.

Then followed days and weeks of trekking before they reached the part of
the country where the caverns were, and out-spanned one night at
Wonderfontein, where, for a promise of payment, the son of a Boer living
hard by undertook to provide lights and to show them the wonders of the
underground region.

The Boer lad said that they would require a light-bearer besides
himself, so Dinny was told to come, and after a little opposition he
followed his master and their guide to the extent of about a mile, when
the lad began to creep and slide down a well-wooded place in the plain
that looked like the crater of an old volcano.

Here Dinny began to hesitate again.

"An' is it go down there, sor?" he asked.  "Shure and suppose the place
has no bottom to it at all."

"Go on.  Dinny, and don't be stupid," cried Dick; and poor Dinny found
himself pretty well hustled down to the bottom of the funnel-like place,
which seemed to bend round at the bottom and to lead into a little
brook.

Here the guide lit a couple of roughly-made torches: he handed one to
Dinny and retained the other, advising all the party to tuck up their
trousers; and the reason for this was soon evident, for the floor of the
grotto they were about to explore formed the bed of the transparent
little river that had found its way into this strange crack in the rock,
and gradually enlarged it to give itself more room.

"Ah, bedad, and the wather's cowld," cried Dinny.  "Shure, Masther Dick,
we're niver going on along there?"

"Indeed we are, Dinny, with you to light us, like the brave, man you
are," said Dick.

Then Dinny growled out something about its being a shame to make such a
naygur of a white man, and seeing no alternative, went on behind the
guide, being followed by Mr Rogers, the boys bringing up the rear.

The first part of their journey was for some distance through narrow
passages, where they often had to bend double, with only an opportunity
now and then for straightening themselves upright; but by degrees, as
they went on splash, splash, through the water, the roof rose higher and
higher, till its summit seemed to be lost in gloom, while the grey walls
looked wild and romantic in the extreme.

A glance to right and left of the narrow way showed that in some great
convulsion of nature, the rock had been split and separated to a small
extent, and the result was the formation of this cavern; for so similar
were the sides that had the natural action been reversed, the two sides
would have fitted together, save where the water had worn the rock away.

It was a weird journey, made the more mysterious by the guide, who
pointed out side passages where the water grew deeper, which passages,
he said, had never been explored; and at last, after they had been
travelling slowly along the solemn echoing place, Dinny appealed to his
master to go back.

"Shure I'm not a bit freckened," he said; "but, sor, there's danger to
us all if we go on there."

"Absurd, Dinny," cried his master.  "Go on.  What is there to be afraid
of?"

"Oh, nothing at all, sor.  It isn't that I mind, but we shall be coming
upon some great big water-baste or a wather-shnake or something, and
then what'll we do at all?"

"Let it eat us, Dinny," shouted Dick; and his voice sounded echoing and
strange.

"Oh, an' is it ate us, Masther Dick?  Shure ye'll have--murther!
murther! murther!" shrieked Dinny.  "I towld ye so.  Oh!  Help, here!
Help!"

Down went Dinny's torch into the water, to be extinguished upon the
instant, and the scared fellow kept on yelling with all his might.

"What is the matter?" cried his master angrily.

"Shure I towld ye so.  A great big thing, wid awful black wings, flew at
me and bit at me face, sor, and I belave he'd ha' killed me if I hadn't
put me light out so as he shouldn't see where I was."

"Oh, Dinny, Dinny.  If I were you I wouldn't be frightened of a bat,"
cried Dick.

"An' is it freckened of a bat I'd be, Masther Dick?  I tell ye it was a
great big thing as large as a man, wid long black wings, an' it sent a
shudder all through me, sor, to see the great baste come at me."

"Which did you see, Dinny, the bat or the shadow?" asked Dick.

"Ah, ye're laughing at me," said Dinny; "but wait a bit and ye'll see."

Dinny's torch was fished out of the water, and after a good deal of
beating and shaking to get rid of the moisture they managed to get it to
burn once more, when Jack volunteered to carry it, and Dinny grumblingly
took his place in the rear.

"Ah," he muttered, in Dick's hearing, "it's a dirthy counthry this
Afrikky.  Wild bastes, and shnakes, and holes under the airth.  Faix, it
isn't fit for a dacent boy to live in at all."

Dinny and his mutterings were little heeded, and they went on and on
through the interminable place, following its windings and zigzag turns,
where the rock had split, till they were tired, and Dick said that they
had seen no more during the last hour than during the first five
minutes, for the place was almost all alike--one great jagged rift with
the little stream flowing over the floor.  Now the roof looked far above
them in the gloom, and now again it was close enough to crush their
heads, while by the same rule there were times when they could touch the
walls on either side by stretching out their hands, while at others the
sides receded so that the space was quite a chamber.

"Well, then," said Mr Rogers, "suppose we turn back.  Dinny, as you are
last now you'll be first going back, and ought to make a good leader; so
take the light."

Dinny did not reply.

"Do you hear what my father said, Dinny?" cried Dick.

Still there was no answer.

"Why, father," cried Dick; "he is not here!"

"Nonsense! absurd!" cried Mr Rogers.  "Here, Dinny!" he shouted.

"Ny-ny-ny-ny!" came softly repeated like a mockery of his cry.

"Dinny!" cried Mr Rogers again; and once again the echo was the only
answer.

"Dinny!" shouted Dick and Jack together, with all their might; but the
echo was the only response; and a cold chill of horror began to run
through the little party as they stood there.

"Poor fellow!" exclaimed Mr Rogers; "surely he has not sunk down
fainting from fright.  Oh, surely not; the idea is too horrible!
Dinny!"

He shouted with all his might, and the boys took up the cry, but there
was nothing but the echo to reply.

"Has anybody ever been lost here?" said Mr Rogers, turning sharply on
the Boer guide.

"Dot one dat I know," said the Boer lad.  "Dere was leedle mans lost one
days, bud dey found der leedle mans again fasd ashleep on der rock."

"He has grown tired, boys; quick!" said Mr Rogers.  "Let's make haste
back, and we shall find him sitting down somewhere."

Though he said this, he did not feel at all hopeful; but still there was
the chance of finding that Dinny, taking advantage of being behind, had
climbed on to one of the big shelves of rock to await their return,
though Mr Rogers felt that it was very doubtful, and that the poor
fellow would be too great a coward to sit there alone in the dark.

It was then with sinking hearts, and a horrible sense of finding that
their expedition had a terrible ending, that they hurried along the dark
passages of the weird grotto, pausing every now and then to shout, as
they searched the side-turnings with their light, and shouted down them
in case the poor fellow had strayed away by mistake, though the chances
were very small, for it seemed impossible that Dinny could have followed
any route but the one indicated by the light in front.

No, think of the matter how they would, there seemed no other
explanation of Dinny's disappearance than that he had sunk down in the
water where it was deeper than usual, and been drowned from sheer
fright.

"It seems so shocking," said Dick, in a whisper, that, low as it was,
seemed to run on before them; "that after going through all that
journey, and escaping from lions and crocodiles, and all sorts of
dangerous beasts, we should lose one of our party in such a miserable
way."

Dick had unconsciously spoken his father's thoughts as they went on
redoubling their exertions till, to their horror, they reached the
bottom of the funnel-shaped entrance without finding a vestige of him
they sought.

"Back again!" cried Mr Rogers; and returning, they again searched the
gloomy passages for hours, till they were obliged to return to the mouth
of the cavern for fresh lights.

The Boer lad looked horrified, and he anxiously ran off for fresh
torches, feeling himself to blame as guide, for having lost one of the
party.

"Jack," said Mr Rogers hoarsely, "run to the waggon, and fetch some
biscuits, a little brandy, and the two large lamps, with a few extra
candles.  Be quick!"

"I'll go too, father," cried Dick eagerly.  And the boys were about to
start, when Dick added, "Shall I bring over the General, father?"

"Yes, and his boys.  We must find Dinny."

Dick and Jack, weary and wet as they were, ran off to the little camp,
the smoke of whose fire they could see, and on reaching it, panting and
exhausted, the first object they saw was Dinny, lying under a tree with
his mouth open, fast asleep.

"Oh, I am glad," cried Jack.

"So am I," cried Dick; "and sorry--and cross," he added, running up to
Dinny, and giving him a kick in the ribs.

"Aisy there," said Dinny, yawning and opening his eyes.  "Shure, I'm
coming.  Ah, Masther Dick, and have ye got back out of the black hole?"

"How came you here?" cried Dick angrily.

"How kim I here, Masther Dick?  Shure it was on me own handsome pair o'
legs."

"But we thought you were lost."

"Lost! bedad, not I.  Shure, I sez, they're going to carry the light
themselves, an' they don't want me anny longer; so I just sat down on a
big shtone, while I took out me matchbox, and lit me morsel of candle I
had in me pocket, and I kim back, and afther getting me dinner ready, I
laid down for a rest."

"Oh!" cried Dick wrathfully.

He could say no more; but his brother spoke for him in a way that made
Dinny uncomfortable, as the boys turned sharply and ran back, reaching
the mouth of the cavern just as the Boer lad came up with his torches.

Mr Rogers started up.

"Where are the lanterns?" he cried.  Then, seeing that the boys had
something to say he eagerly listened; and the next moment, with his brow
knotted with anger, he strode off to the waggon.

"Jack," whispered Dick, "I never saw father look so cross as that."

He was angry indeed, and they saw him seize Dinny by the throat, force
him upon his knees, and raise his clenched fist to strike; but the next
moment education and manliness prevailed, his hand dropped to his side,
and he stood there talking to Dinny for some time in a way that made
that gentleman slink away and go about his work with a very hangdog
expression of countenance.



CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT.

THE LAST ADVENTURE.

Days of slow, steady trekking homeward, and then, to the consternation
of all, they learned from a Boer, fleeing with his waggon and belongings
to another part of the country, that it would not be safe to go farther,
for a war had broken out between a powerful Zulu tribe and the
Amaswazis, both sides taking advantage of the disturbed state of the
country to rob and plunder in every way they could.

"Dey dake away all dose caddles," said the Boer, "and kill you all.  I
go away."

He went away, and the General was called into consultation.

"What shall we do?" said Mr Rogers, who, without fearing for their
lives, had a horror of losing the fruits of their long journey into the
interior.

"Go straight on home like brave men," said the Zulu, sturdily.  "The
boss may not see enemies in the way.  If he does, we shall see the boss,
who can fight lions, will not be afraid of men.  Man sees boss not
afraid, he will not fight."

"I shall take your advice, General," said Mr Rogers; and to the horror
of Dinny, who from that moment began to contrive a hiding-place in the
biggest chest, the order was given, "Forward!"

They came upon danger sooner than they expected, for, steadily trekking
on, they had halted for the day in an open plain, when, to Mr Rogers'
horror, he found that he had inadvertently halted in what was about to
be the battle-ground of the contending tribes.

It was almost like magic.  One hour the valley was empty, the next it
was swarming with contending men.

Escape was impossible, and in a very short time the waggon was put in as
good a state of defence as could be, and they were surrounded by the
enemy; but before hostilities between them could commence, the Zulu
tribe came swarming down from the hills behind them, advancing with a
regular dancing tramp, forming themselves into a crescent, and dashing
on to the attack.

The Amaswazis who had first surrounded the waggon were largely armed
with rifles; but in spite of the superiority this gave them, they gave
way before the determination of the assegai-armed Zulu warriors, who
came trooping by the waggon, the greater portion of them thorough
counterparts of the General, till some fifty remained about the waggon
in company with three fierce-looking chiefs.

"What are we to do, General?" said Dick stoutly, as he stood there with
his rifle--"fight?"

"Wait and see," said the General calmly; and followed by Coffee and
Chicory, he walked out from the waggon to meet the Zulu chiefs.

A short conference ensued, and then the three chiefs came back with the
General, to hold out their hands to Mr Rogers and his sons.

"They say I am to tell you that they thank you in the name of our people
for making us your brothers in the hunt," said the General quietly, "and
that they will all fight for you and see you safe."

Then, in obedience to the General's directions, the oxen were
in-spanned, ready to go forward if necessary, or to retreat with the
Zulu tribe should it be beaten.

This latter misfortune, however, did not occur, for before a quarter of
an hour had elapsed the Amaswazis tribe was being chased by the Zulus,
and seeking safety in flight; while after making presents to the chiefs,
to the General's great pride and gratification in spite of his calm
demeanour, they parted with mutual feelings of goodwill.

"Saved from wreck," said Dick, who had made the principal chief happy,
by taking off his belt with the stout, keen hunting-knife and sheath,
and himself buckling it on, the others receiving similar gifts from Mr
Rogers, and Jack.

Three weeks' long journey was yet before them, during which the oxen
suffered much from the prevailing drought, but there was little of
adventure upon the rest of their road; and it was with no little relief
that the familiar land-marks in the neighbourhood of their home were at
last made out, the oxen trekking well during the last few miles, as if
they scented plenty of water and fresh green pasture at the farm.

The full moon was shining brightly as the waggon trekked up to the
house, several friends having ridden out to welcome them, as soon as it
was known that the hunters were in sight; and then once more, as soon as
the dumb creatures were seen to, they sat down at a table to an
old-fashioned English meat tea with their friends, glad to be able to
recount that they had returned without a single loss, save that of the
horses from the dreaded tsetse, while the prime object of their journey
had been attained--Dick sat amongst them completely restored, and
glowing with vigorous health.

"I should think, boys, you will be glad to sleep once more in a soft
bed," said Mr Rogers, smiling; but before either Dick or Jack could
answer, Dinny presented himself at the door.

"Av ye plaze, sor--"

"Well, Dinny?"

"I'd thank ye to come and shpake to the naygurs.  We've put up a bed and
blankets for them in the best barn, and they won't go there, but are
making up a camp again, wid a fire, under the waggon."

"Well, Dinny, if it pleases them, let them alone," said Mr Rogers
quietly.

"Shure, sor, I don't mind," said Dinny; "but it's the naybours, sor, and
what they'll think."

"Never mind what the neighbours think," said his master.  "Dick, go and
see that the General and his boys have everything they want."

"Av ye plaze, sor," said Dinny, "I want to ax ye a favour."

"What is it, Dinny?"

"Shure, sor, we've had a long journey, and I'm moighty toired."

"Then go to bed and have a good sleep."

"That's just what I'm axing of yer honour.  I want a holiday."

"What for, Dinny?"

"To go to shlape for a week."

Dinny had as much sleep as he liked, but he contented himself with
twenty-four hours, and then helped to unpack the treasures from the
waggon, the store of feathers, skins, and curiosities far more than
paying the cost of the expedition, even counting the loss of the horses.
The boys' pets too, the leopard and giraffe, had to be sold, for they
could not keep them; but they fetched handsome sums for exportation to
Europe.

At last there was nothing to do but to recompense the General and his
sons; not that they were going away, for they preferred staying about
the farm.

Mr Rogers took his sons into his confidence, and the result was the
presentation to the three Zulus of gifts which they esteemed most highly
of anything they could receive, and these were the three double rifles
of the father and sons, whose accuracy the Zulus had so often seen
proved.

Dick was right when he said the present was better than diamonds, for
the stern old warrior's face lit up with joy, and when Coffee and
Chicory could be made to understand that they were to have the rifles to
keep, their excitement was something wonderful to see.

"Shure an' the master must be aff his head to give them boys such
things," grumbled Dinny to Peter and Dirk, who were quite content with
the presents they had received in clothes additional to their pay.

Right or wrong, he gave great satisfaction on all sides; and health
being restored, and the sorrows of the past somewhat assuaged, the
regular duties of civilised life were resumed, and many a long evening
was spent in arranging the various natural history objects brought home.
Now and then, so pleasant were the recollections of the exciting trip,
the boys have brought the blood flushing into the dusky cheeks of Coffee
and Chicory, and a flash into their father's eyes, on saying that they
wonder whether their father will ever organise another such trip, while
Dinny has been heard to say spitefully that they may drive in that
waggon to Novy Sembley, New Zealand, or the big islands of the say, he
don't care a sthraw, so long as they'll only lave him at home.

THE END.





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