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´╗┐Title: Jock of the Bushveld
Author: Fitzpatrick, Percy, Sir, 1862-1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jock of the Bushveld" ***

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Jock of the Bushveld
By Sir Percy FitzPatrick
Illustrations by E. Caldwell
Published by Longmans, Green, and Co, London.
This edition dated 1922.
Jock of the Bushveld, by Sir Percy FitzPatrick.




"Sonny, you kin reckon it dead sure, thar's something wrong 'bout a
thing that don't explain itself."

That was Old Rocky's advice, given three-and-twenty years ago--not
forgotten yet, but, in this instance, respectfully ignored.

It happened some years ago, and this was the way of it: the Fox of
Ballybotherem having served three generations--in his native Tipperary,
in Kaffraria, and in the Transvaal--seemed entitled to a rest; and when,
in the half-hour before `lights out,' which is the Little People's
particular own, the demand came from certain Autocrats of the Nightgown:
"Now, tell us something else!" it occurred to the Puzzled One to tell of
Jock's fight with the table leg.  And that is how the trouble began.
Those with experience will know what followed; and, for those less
fortunate, the modest demand of one, comfortably tucked up tailorwise,
and emphasising his points by excited hand-shakes with his toes, will
convey the idea: "It must be _all true_! and don't leave out

To such an audience a story may be told a hundred times, but it must be
told, as Kipling says, "Just so!" that is, in the same way; because,
even a romance (what a three-year-old once excused as "only a play
tell") must be true--to itself!

Once Jock had taken the field it was not long before the narrator found
himself helped or driven over the pauses by quick suggestions from the
Gallery; but there were days of fag and worry when thoughts lagged or
strayed, and when slips were made, and then a vigilant and pitiless
memory swooped like the striking falcon on its prey.  There came a night
when the story was of the Old Crocodile, and one in the Gallery--one of
more exuberant fancy--seeing the gate open ran into the flower-strewn
field of romance and by suggestive questions and eager promptings helped
to gather a little posy: "And he caught the Crocodile by the tail,
didn't he?"  "And he hung on and fought him, didn't he?"  "And the Old
Crocodile flung him high into the air?  High!" and, turning to the two
juniors, added "quite as high as the house?"  And the narrator--
accessory by reason of a mechanical nod and an absent-minded "Yes"
passed on, thinking it could all be put right next time.  But there is
no escape from the `tangled web' when the Little People sit in judgment.
It was months later when retribution came.  The critical point of the
story was safely passed when--Oh; the irony and poetic justice of it--it
was the innocent tempter himself who laid his hand in solemn protest on
the narrator's shoulder and, looking him reproachfully in the eyes, said
"Dad!  You have left out the best part of all.  Don't you remember

And the description which followed only emphasises the present writer's
unfitness for the task he has undertaken.  In the text of the story and
in the illustration by my friend Mr Caldwell (who was himself subjected
to the same influence) there is left a loophole for fancy: it is open to
any one to believe that Jock is just beginning or just ending his aerial
excursion.  The Important People are not satisfied; but then the page is
not big enough to exhibit Jock at the top of that flight--of fancy!

From the date of that lesson it was apparent that reputations would
suffer if the story of Jock were not speedily embodied in some durable
and authoritative form, and during a long spell of ill health many of
the incidents were retold in the form of letters to the Little People.
Other Less Important Persons--grown-ups--read them and sometimes heard
them, and so it came about that the story of Jock was to be printed for
private circulation, for the Little People and their friends.  Then the
story was read in manuscript and there came still more ambitious
counsels, some urging the human story of the early days, others the wild
animal life of South Africa.  Conscious of many deficiencies the
narrator has left two great fields practically untouched, adhering to
the original idea--the story of Jock; and those who come into it, men
and animals, come in because of him and the life in which he played so
large a part.  The attempt to adapt the original letters to the symmetry
of a connected story involved, as one might have known, endless trouble
and changes, necessitating complete re-writing of most parts; and the
responsibility and work became still greater when, after a casual and
unforeseen meeting, my friend Mr Caldwell accepted the suggestion to
come out to South Africa and spend six months with us in order to study
the game in its native bush and to know the conditions of the life and
put that experience into the work of illustrating "Jock."

The writer is well aware that, from the above causes and one other,
there are grave inequalities in style and system, and in plane of phrase
and thought, in different parts of the book.  For this feature the `one
other' cause is alone put forward as a defence.  The story belongs to
the Little People, and their requirements were defined--"It must be _all
true_!  Don't leave out _anything_!"  It has been necessary to leave out
a great deal; but the other condition has been fully and fairly complied
with; for it is a true story from beginning to end.  It is not a diary:
incidents have been grouped and moved to get over the difficulty of
blank days and bad spells, but there is no incident of importance or of
credit to Jock which is not absolutely true.  The severest trial in this
connection was in the last chapter, which is bound to recall perhaps the
most famous and most cherished of all dog stories.  Much, indeed, would
have been sacrificed to avoid that; but it was unthinkable that, for any
reason, one should in the last words shatter the spell that holds Jock
dear to those for whom his life is chronicled--the spell that lies in `a
true story.'

Little by little the book has grown until it has come perilously near
the condition in which it might be thought to have Pretensions.  It has
none!  It is what it was: a simple record, compiled for the interest and
satisfaction of some Little People, and a small tribute of remembrance
and affection offered at the shrine of the old life and those who made
it--tendered in the hope that some one better equipped with
opportunities and leisure may be inspired to do justice to it and to
them for the sake of our native land.



Of the people who live lonely lives, on the veld or elsewhere, few do so
of their own free choice.  Some there are shut off from all their kind--
souls sheathed in some film invisible, through which no thrill of
sympathy may pass; some barred by their self-consciousness, heart hungry
still, who never learned in childhood to make friends; some have a
secret or a grief; some, thoughts too big or bad for comradeship.  But
most will charge to Fate the thoughtless choice, the chance, or hard
necessity, that drew or drove them to the life apart; they know the
lesson that was learned of old: "It is not good for man to be alone."

Go out among them, ever moving on, whose white bones mark the way for
others' feet--who shun the cities, living in the wilds, and move in
silence, self-contained.  Who knows what they think, or dream, or hope,
or suffer?  Who can know?  For speech among that hard-schooled lot is
but a half-remembered art.

Yet something you may guess, since with the man there often goes--his
dog; his silent tribute to The Book.  Oh, it's little they know of life
who cannot guess the secret springs of loneliness and love that prompt
the keeping of a trifling pet; who do not know what moves a man who
daily takes his chance of life and death--man whose "breath is in his
nostrils"--to lay his cheek against the muzzle of his comrade dog, and
in the trackless miles of wilderness feel he has a friend.  Something to
hold to; something to protect.

There was old Blake--"mad, quite mad," as everybody knew--of whom they
vaguely said that horses, hounds, coaches, covers, and all that goes
with old estates, were his--once.  We knew him poor and middle-aged.
How old to us!  Cheery and unpractical, with two old pointers and a
fowling-piece, and a heart as warm as toast.  We did not ask each
other's business there; and, judging by the dogs and gun, we put him
down as a `remittance man.'  But that, it seems, was wrong.  They were
his all.

He left no letters--a little pile of paper ash; no money and no food!
That was his pride.  He would not sell or give away his dogs!  That was
his love.  When he could not keep them it seemed time to go!  That was
his madness.  But before he went, remembering a friend in hospital, he
borrowed two cartridges and brought him in a brace of birds.  That was
old mad Blake, who `moved on' and took his dogs with him, because they
had always been together, and he could not leave their fate to chance.
So we buried him with one on either side, just as he would have liked

There was Turner, who shot the crocodile that seized his dog, and
reckless of the others, swam in and brought the dog to land.

There was the dog that jumped in when his master slipped from the rock,
and, swimming beside him, was snapped down in his stead!  And there was
the boy who tried a rescue in the dark--when a rustle, yelp and growl
told that the lions had his dog--and was never seen again.

So it goes, and so it went, from year to year: a little showing now and
then, like the iceberg's tip, from which to guess the bulk below.

There was a Boy who went to seek his fortune.  Call him boy or man: the
years proved nothing either way!  Some will be boyish always; others
were never young: a few--most richly dowered few--are man and boy
together.  He went to seek his fortune, as boys will and should; no
pressure on him from about; no promise from beyond.  For life was easy
there, and all was pleasant, as it may be--in a cage.  `To-day' is sure
and happy; and there is no `to-morrow'--in a cage.

There were friends enough--all kind and true--and in their wisdom they
said: "Here it is safe: yonder all is chance, where many indeed are
called, but few--so few--are chosen.  Many have gone forth; some to
return, beaten, hopeless, and despised; some to fall in sight outside;
others are lost, we know not where; and ah! so few are free and well.
But the fate of numbers is unheeded still; for the few are those who
count, and lead; and those who follow do not think `How few,' but cry
`How strong!  How free!'  Be wise and do not venture.  Here it is safe:
there is no fortune there!"

But there was something stronger than the things he knew, around,
without, beyond--the thing that strove within him: that grew and grew,
and beat and fought for freedom: that bade him go and walk alone and
tell his secret on the mountain slopes to one who would not laugh--a
little red retriever; that made him climb and feel his strength, and
find an outlet for what drove within.  And thus the end was sure; for of
all the voices none so strong as this!  And only those others reached
him that would chime with it; the gentle ones which said: "We too
believe," and one, a stronger, saying: "Fifty years ago I did it.  I
would do it now again!"

So the Boy set out to seek his fortune, and did not find it; for there
was none in the place where he sought.  Those who warned him were--in
the little--right: yet was he--in the greater--right too!  It was not
given to him as yet to know that fortune is not in time or place or
things; but, good or bad, in the man's own self for him alone to find
and prove.

Time and place and things had failed him; still was effort right; and,
when the first was clear beyond all question, it was instinct and not
knowledge bade him still go on, saying: "Not back to the cage.  Anything
but that!"

When many days had passed, it was again a friend who met him, saying:
"Commonsense is not cowardice.  You have made a mistake: repair it while
you may.  I have seen and know: there is nothing here.  Come back with
me, and all will be made easy."  And answer, in reason, there was none;
for the little truth was all too plain, and the greater not yet seen.
But that which had swelled to bursting and had fought within for freedom
called out: "Failure is the worst of all!"  And the blind and struggling
instinct rose against all knowledge and all reason.  "Not back to the
cage!  Not that!"

And the heart that had once been young spoke up for Auld Lang Syne: the
old eyes softened and dropped: "God speed you, Boy--Good-bye!"  And as
the mail-coach rumbled off the Boy put up his head--to try again.

The days passed, and still there was no work to do.  For, those who were
there already--hardened men and strong, pioneers who had roughed it--
were themselves in straitened case, and it was no place for boys.

So the Boy moved on again, and with him a man in, equal plight, but,
being a man, a guide and comfort to the Boy, and one to lead him on the
way.  Hungry, they walked all day; yet when the sun went down and light
began to fail the place where work and food and sleep should be was
still far off.  The mountain tracks were rough and all unknown; the
rivers many, cold and swift: the country wild; none lived, few ever
passed, that way.  When night closed in the Boy walked on in front, and
the man lagged wearily, grumbling at their luck.  In the valley at the
mountain foot they came at midnight upon water, black and still, between
them and the cabin's lights beyond; and there the man lay down.  Then
the Boy, turning in his anger, bade him come on; and, dragging him out
upon the further bank, had found--unknowing--some little of the fortune
he had come to seek.

Still, morning brought no change; still, was there no work to do.  So
the man gave up, and sagging back, was lost.  And the Boy went on alone.

Rough and straight-spoken, but kindly men and true, were those he came
among.  What they could they did: what they had they gave.  They made
him free of board and bed; and, kinder still, now and then made work for
him to do, knowing his spirit was as theirs and that his heart cried
out: "Not charity, but work!  Give me work!"  But that they could not
do, for there was no work they could not do themselves.

Thus the days and weeks went by.  Willing, but unused to fend for
himself--unfit by training for the wild rough life, heart and energy all
to waste, the little he did know of no value there--the struggle with
the ebbing tide went on; it was the wearing hopeless fight against that
which one cannot grapple, and cannot even see.  There was no work to be
done.  A few days here and there; a little passing job; a helping hand
disguised; and then the quest again.  They were all friendly--but, with
the kindly habit of the place: it told the tale of hopelessness too
well.  They did not even ask his name; it made no difference.

Then came a day when there was nowhere else to try.  Among the lounging
diggers at their week-end deals he stood apart--too shy, too proud to
tell the truth; too conscious of it to trust his voice; too hungry to
smile as if he did not care!  And then a man in muddy moleskins, with
grave face, brown beard, and soft blue eyes, came over to him, saying
straight: "Boy, you come along o' me!"  And he went.

It was work--hard work.  But the joy of it!  Shovelling in the icy
water, in mud and gravel, and among the boulders, from early dawn to
dark.  What matter?  It was work.  It was not for hire, but just to help
one who had helped him; to `earn his grub' and feel he was a man, doing
the work of his friend's partner, `who was away.'

For three full weeks the Boy worked on; grateful for the toil; grateful
for the knowledge gained; most grateful that he could by work repay a
kindness.  And then the truth came out!  The kindly fiction fell away as
they sat and rested on the day of rest.  "The claim could not stand two
white men's grub" had fallen from the man, accounting for his partner's

It was the simple and unstudied truth and calm unconsciousness of where
it struck that gave the thrust its force; and in the clear still air of
the Sunday morning the Boy turned hot and cold and dizzy to think of his
folly, and of the kindness he had so long imposed upon.  It was a little
spell before his lips would smile, and eyes and voice were firm enough
to lie.  Then he said gently: If he could be spared--he had not liked to
ask before, but now the floods were over and the river turned perhaps it
could be managed--he would like to go, as there were letters waiting,
and he expected news.

Up the winding pathway over rocky ledge and grassy slope, climbing for
an hour to the pass, the toil and effort kept the hot thoughts under.
At the top the Boy sat down to rest.  The green rock-crested mountains
stood like resting giants all around: the rivers, silvered by the sun,
threaded their ways between: the air was clear, and cool, and still.
The world was very beautiful from there.

Far, far below--a brownish speck beside the silver streak--stood the
cabin he had left.  And, without warning, all came back on him.  What he
had mastered rose beyond control.  The little child that lies hidden in
us all reached out--as in the dark--for a hand to hold; and there was
none.  His arms went up to hide the mocking glory of the day, and, face
buried in the grass, he sobbed: "Not worth my food!"

Science tells that Nature will recoup herself by ways as well defined as
those that rule mechanics.  The blood flows upward--and the brain's
awhirl; the ebb-tide sets--and there is rest.  Whatever impulse sways
the guiding hand, we know that often when we need it most there comes
relief; gently, unbidden, unobserved.

The Boy slept, and there was peace awhile.  Then came faint echoes of
the waking thoughts--odd words shot out, of hope and resolution;
murmured names of those at home.  Once his hand went out and gently
touched the turf, reaching for the friend and comrade of the past--one
who knew his every mood, had heard his wildest dreams described, had
seen him, hot-eyed, breathless, struggling to escape the cage; one to
whom the boyish soul was often bared in foolish confidence; one who
could see and hear and feel, yet never tell--a little red retriever left
at home; and the boy stirred and sighed, for answer to the soft brown

No!  It is not good for man to be alone.  A wisp of drifting cloud came
by, a breath of cooler air, and the fickle spirit of the mountain
changed the day as with a wand.  The Boy woke up shivering, dazed,
bewildered: the mountain of his dreams had vanished; and his dog was not
there!  The cold driving mist had blotted out the world.  Stronger and
stronger grew the wind, driving the damp cold through and through; for
on the bleak plateau of the mountain nothing broke its force.

Pale and shaken, and a little stiff, he looked about; then slowly faced
the storm.  It had not struck him to turn back.

The gusts blew stronger, and through the mist came rain, in single
stinging drops--portents of the greater storm.  Slowly, as he bent to
breast it, the chilled blood warmed, and when the first thunderclap
split overhead, and lost itself in endless roars and rumblings in the
kloofs and hills around, there came a warmth about his heart and a light
into his eye--mute thanksgiving that here was something he could battle
with and be a man again.

On the top of the world the storms work all their fury.  Only there come
mist and wind and rain, thunder and lightning and hail together--the
pitiless terrible hail: there, where the hare hiding in the grass may
know it is the highest thing in all God's world, and nearest to the
storm--the one clear mark to draw the lightning--and, knowing, scurries
to the sheltered slopes.

But the Boy pressed on--the little path a racing stream to guide him.
Then in the one group of ghostly, mist-blurred rocks he stopped to
drink; and, as he bent--for all the blackness of the storm--his face
leaped out at him, reflected for one instant in the shallow pool; the
blue-white flame of lightning, blinding his aching eyes, hissed down;
the sickening smell of brimstone spread about; and crashing thunder
close above his head left him dazed and breathless.

Heedless of the rain, blinking the blackness from his eyes, he sat still
for head to clear, and limbs to feel their life again; and, as he
waited, slowly there came upon a colder stiller air that other roar, so
far, so dull, so uniform; so weird and terrifying--the voice of the
coming hail.

Huddled beneath the shelving rock he watched the storm sweep by with
awful battering din that swamped and silenced every other sound--the
tearing, smashing hail that seemed to strip the mountain to its very

Oh! the wanton fury of the hail; the wild, destructive charge of hordes
of savage cavalry; the stamping, smashing sweep along the narrow strip
where all the fury concentrates; the long black trail of death and
desolation!  The birds and beasts, the things that creep and fly, all
know the portents, and all flee before it, or aside.  But in the
darkness--in the night or mist--the slow, the weak, the helpless, and
the mothers with their young--for them is little hope.

The dense packed column swept along, ruthless, raging, and unheeding,
overwhelming all...  A sudden failing of its strength, a little
straggling tail, and then--the silence!

The sun came out; the wind died down; light veils of mist came slowly
by--bits of floating gossamer--and melted in the clear, pure air.

The Boy stepped out once more.  Miles away the black column of the
falling hail sped its appointed course.  Under his feet, where all had
been so green and beautiful, was battered turf, for the time transformed
into a mass of dazzling brilliants, where jagged ice-stones caught the
sunlight on their countless facets, and threw it back in one fierce
flashing glare, blinding in its brilliance.

On the glittering surface many things stood out.

In the narrow pathway near the spring a snake lay on its back, crushed
and broken; beyond it, a tortoise, not yet dead, but bruised and
battered through its shell; then a partridge--poor unprotected thing--
the wet feathers lying all around, stripped as though a hawk had
stricken it, and close behind it all the little brood; and further
afield lay something reddish-brown--a buck--the large eyes glazed, an
ooze of blood upon its lips and nose.  He stooped to touch it, but drew
back: the dainty little thing was pulp.

All striving for the sheltering rocks; all caught and stricken by the
ruthless storm; and he, going on to face it, while others fled before--
he, blindly fighting on--was spared.  Was it luck?  Or was there
something subtle, more?  He held to this, that more than chance had
swayed the guiding hand of fate--that fortune holds some gifts in store
for those who try; and faith resurgent moved him to a mute Te Deum, of
which no more reached the conscious brain than: "It is good to be alive!
But... better _so_ than in the cage."

Once more, a little of the fortune that he had come to seek!

At sunset, passing down the long rough gorge, he came upon one battling
with the flood to save his all--the white man struggling with the
frightened beasts; the kaffir swept from off his feet; the mad
bewildered oxen yielding to the stream and heading downwards towards the
falls--and in their utmost need the Boy swam in and helped!

And there the long slow ebb was stayed: the Boy was worth his food.

But how recall the life when those who made it set so little store by
all that passed, and took its ventures for their daily lot; when those
who knew it had no gift or thought to fix the colours of the fading
past: the fire of youth; the hopes; the toil; the bright illusions gone!
And now, the Story of a Dog to conjure up a face, a name, a voice, or
the grip of a friendly hand!  And the half-dreamed sound of the tramping
feet is all that is left of the live procession long since passed: the
young recruits; the laggards and the faint; the few who saw it through;
the older men--grave-eyed, thoughtful, unafraid--who judged the future
by the battered past, and who knew none more nor less than man--
unconscious equals of the best and least; the grey-hued years; the
thinning ranks; the summons answered, as they had lived--alone.  The
tale untold; and, of all who knew it, none left to picture now the life,
none left to play a grateful comrade's part, and place their record on a
country's scroll--the kindly, constant, nameless Pioneers!



"Distant hills are always green," and the best gold further on.  That is
a law of nature--human nature--which is quite superior to facts; and
thus the world moves on.

So from the Lydenburg Goldfields prospectors `humping their swags' or
driving their small pack-donkeys spread afield, and transport-riders
with their long spans and rumbling waggons followed, cutting a wider
track where traders with winding strings of carriers had already
ventured on.  But the hunters had gone first.  There were great hunters
whose names are known; and others as great who missed the accident of
fame; and after them hunters who traded, and traders who hunted.  And so
too with prospectors, diggers, transport-riders and all.

Between the goldfields and the nearest port lay the Bushveld, and game
enough for all to live on.

Thus, all were hunters of a sort, but the great hunters--the hunters of
big game--were apart; we were the smaller fry, there to admire and to

Trophies, carried back with pride or by force of habit, lay scattered
about, neglected and forgotten, round the outspans, the tents of lone
prospectors, the cabins of the diggers, and the grass wayside shanties
of the traders.  How many a `record' head must have gone then, when none
had thought of time or means to save them!  Horns and skins lay in
jumbled heaps in the yards or sheds of the big trading stores.  The
splendid horns of the Koodoo and Sable, and a score of others only less
beautiful, could be seen nailed up in crude adornment of the roughest
walls; nailed up, and then unnoticed and forgotten!  And yet not quite!
For although to the older hands they were of no further interest, to the
new-comer they spoke of something yet to see, and something to be done;
and the sight set him dreaming of the time when he too would go
a-hunting and bring his trophies home.

Perched on the edge of the Berg, we overlooked the wonder-world of the
Bushveld, where the big game roamed in thousands and the "wildest tales
were true."  Living on the fringe of a hunter's paradise, most of us
were drawn into it from time to time, for shorter or longer spells, as
opportunity and our circumstances allowed; and little by little one got
to know the names, appearances, and habits of the many kinds of game
below.  Long talks in the quiet nights up there under waggons, in grass
shelters in the woods, or in the wattle-and-daub shanties of the
diggers, where men passed to and fro and swapped lies, as the polite
phrase went, were our `night's entertainments,' when younger hands might
learn much that was useful and true, and more that was neither.

It was a school of grown-up schoolboys; no doubt a hard one, but it had
its playground side, and it was the habit of the school to `drop on to'
any breach of the unwritten laws, to `rub in' with remorseless good
humour the mistakes that were made, and to play upon credulity with a
shamelessness and nerve quite paralysing to the judgment of the
inexperienced.  Yet, with it all, there was a kindliness and quick
instinct of `fair doos' which tempered the wind and, in the main, gave
no one more than was good for him.

There the new boy had to run the gauntlet, and, if without a watchful
instinct or a friendly hint, there was nothing to warn him of it.  When
Faulkner--dragged to the piano--protested that he remembered nothing but
a mere `morceau,' he was not conscious of transgression, but a delighted
audience caught up the word, and thenceforth he was known only as
`Ankore'--Harry the Sailor having explained that `more so' was a
recognised variant.

"Johnny-come-lately's got to learn" was held to be adequate reason for
letting many a beginner buy his experience, while those who had been
through it all watched him stumble into the well-known pitfalls.  It
would no doubt have been a much more comfortable arrangement all round
had there been a polite ignoring of each other's blunders and
absurdities.  But that is not the way of schools where the spirit of fun
plays its useful part; and, after all, the lesson well `rubbed in' is
well remembered.

The new assayer, primed by us with tales of Sable Antelope round Macmac
Camp, shot old Jim Hill's only goat, and had to leave the carcase with a
note of explanation--Jim being out when he called.  What he heard from
us when he returned, all prickly with remorse and shame, was a liberal
education; but what he remembers best is Jim's note addressed that
evening to our camp:

"Boys!  Jim Hill requests your company to dinner to-morrow, Sunday!"


As the summer spent itself, and whispers spread around of new strikes
further on, a spirit of restlessness--a touch of trek fever--came upon
us, and each cast about which way to try his luck.  Our camp was the
summer headquarters of two transport-riders, and when many months of
hard work, timber-cutting on the Berg, contracting for the Companies,
pole-slipping in the bush, and other things, gave us at last a `rise,'
it seemed the natural thing to put it all into waggons and oxen, and go
transport-riding too.

The charm of a life of freedom and complete independence--a life in
which a man goes as and where he lists, and carries his home with him--
is great indeed; but great too was the fact that hunting would go with

How the little things that mark a new departure stamp themselves
indelibly on the memory!  A flower in the hedgerow where the roads
divide will mark the spot in one's mind for ever; and yet a million
more, before and after, and all as beautiful, are passed unseen.  In
memory, it is all as fresh, bright and glorious as ever: only the years
have gone.  The start, the trek along the plateau, the crystal streams,
the ferns and trees, the cool pure air; and, through and over all, the
quite intoxicating sense of freedom!  Then came the long slow climb to
Spitzkop where the Berg is highest and where our ascent began.  For
there, with Africa's contrariness, the highest parts banked up and
buttressed by gigantic spurs are most accessible from below, while the
lower edges of the plateau are cut off sheer like the walls of some
great fortress.  There, near Spitzkop, we looked down upon the promised
land; there, stood upon the outmost edge, as a diver on his board, and
paused and looked and breathed before we took the plunge.

It is well to pitch one's expectations low, and so stave off
disappointments.  But counsels of perfection are wasted on the young,
and when accident combines with the hopefulness of youth to lay the
colours on in all their gorgeousness, what chance has Wisdom?

"See here, young feller!" said Wisdom, "don't go fill yourself up with
tomfool notions 'bout lions and tigers waitin' behind every bush.  You
won't see one in a twelvemonth!  Most like you won't see a buck for a
week!  You don't know what to do, what to wear, how to walk, how to
look, or what to look for; and you'll make as much noise as a traction
engine.  This ain't open country: it's bush; they can see and hear, and
you can't.  An' as for big game, you won't see any for a long while yet,
so don't go fool yourself!"

Excellent!  But fortune in a sportive mood ordained that the very first
thing we saw as we outspanned at Saunderson's on the very first day in
the Bushveld, was the fresh skin of a lion stretched out to dry.  What
would the counsels of Solomon himself have weighed against that wet

Wisdom scratched its head and stared: "Well, I am completely sugared!"

Of course it was a fluke.  No lions had been seen in the locality for
several years; but the beginner, filled with all the wildest
expectations, took no heed of that.  If the wish be father to the
thought, then surely fact may well beget conviction.  It was so in this
case, at any rate, and thus not all the cold assurances of Wisdom could
banish visions of big game as plentiful as partridges.

A party had set out upon a tiger hunt to clear out one of those
marauders who used to haunt the kloofs of the Berg and make descents
upon the Kaffir herds of goats and sheep; but there was a special
interest in this particular tiger, for he had killed one of the white
hunters in the last attempt to get at him a few weeks before.  Starting
from the store, the party of men and boys worked their way towards the
kloof, and the possibility of coming across a lion never entered their
heads.  No notice was taken of smaller game put up from time to time as
they moved carelessly along; a rustle on the left of the line was
ignored, and Bill Saunderson was as surprised as Bill ever could be to
see a lion facing him at something like six or seven yards.  The lion,
with head laid level and tail flicking ominously, half crouched for its
spring.  Bill's bullet glanced along the skull, peeling off the skin.
"It was a bad shot," he said afterwards, in answer to the beginner's
breathless questions.  "He wasn't hurt: just sank a little like a
pointer when you check him; but before he steadied up again I took for
the nose and got him.  You see," he added thoughtfully, "a lion's got no
forehead: it is all hair."

That was about all he had to say; but, little store as he may have set
on it, the tip was never forgotten and proved of much value to at least
one of our party years afterwards.  To this day the picture of a lion
brings up that scene--the crouching beast, faced by a man with a long
brown beard, solemn face, and clear unfaltering eyes; the swift yet
quiet action of reloading; and the second shot an inch or so lower,
because "a lion's got no forehead: it's all hair."

The shooting of a lion, fair and square, and face to face, was the Blue
Riband of the Bush, and no detail would have seemed superfluous; but
Bill, whose eye nothing could escape, had, like many great hunters, a
laggard tongue.  Only now and then a look of grave amusement lighted up
his face to show he recognised the hungry enthusiasm and his own
inability to satisfy it.  The skin with the grazed stripe along the
nose, and the broken skull, were handled and looked at many times, and
the story was pumped from every Kaffir--all voluble and eager, but none
eye-witnesses.  Bob, the sociable and more communicative, who had been
nearest his brother, was asked a hundred questions, but all he had to
say was that the grass was too long for him to see what happened: he
reckoned that it was "a pretty near thing after the first shot; but
Bill's all right!"

To me it was an absurd and tiresome affectation to show interest in any
other topic, and when, during that evening, conversation strayed to
other subjects, it seemed waste of time and priceless opportunity.  Bob
responded good-naturedly to many crude attempts to head them back to the
entrancing theme, but the professional interest in rates, loads, rivers,
roads, disease, drought, and `fly,' was strong in the older
transport-riders, as it should have been, but, for the time at least,
was not, in me.  If diplomacy failed, however, luck was not all out; for
when all the pet subjects of the road had been thrashed out, and it was
about time to turn in, a stray question brought the reward of patience.

"Have you heard if Jim reached Durban all right?"

"Yes!  Safely shipped."

"You got some one to take him right through?"

"No!  A Dutchman took him to Lydenburg, and I got Tom Hardy, going back
empty, to take him along from there."

"What about feeding?"

"I sent some goats," said Bob, smiling for a moment at some passing
thought, and then went on: "Tom said he had an old span that wouldn't
mind it.  We loaded him up at Parker's, and I cleared out before he got
the cattle up.  But they tell me there was a gay jamboree when it came
to inspanning; and as soon as they got up to the other waggons and the
young bullocks winded Jim, they started off with their tails up--a
regular stampede, voorloopers and drivers yelling like mad, all the
loose things shaking out of the waggons, and Tom nearly in a fit from
running, shouting and swearing."

Judging by the laughter, there was only one person present who did not
understand the joke, and I had to ask--with some misgiving--who was this
Jim who needed so much care and feeding, and caused such a scare.

There was another burst of laughter as they guessed my thoughts, and it
was Bob who answered me: "Only a lion, lad--not a wild man or a lunatic!
Only a young lion!  Sold him to the Zoo, and had to deliver him in

"Well, you fairly took me in with the name!"

"Oh!  Jim?  Well that's his pet name.  His real name is Dabulamanzi.
Jim, my hunting boy, caught him, so we call him Jim out of compliment,"
he added with a grin.  "But Jim called him Dabulamanzi, also out of
compliment, and I think that was pretty good for a nigger."

"You see," said Bob, for the benefit of those who were not up in local
history, "Dabulamanzi, the big fighting General in the Zulu War, was
Jim's own chief and leader; and the name means `The one who conquers the

Then one of the others exclaimed: "Oh!  Of course, that's how you got
him, isn't it: caught him in a river?  Tell us what did happen, Bob.
What's the truth of it?  It seemed a bit steep as I heard it."

"Well, it's really simple enough.  We came right on to the lioness
waiting for us, and I got her; and then there were shouts from the boys,
and I saw a couple of cubs, pretty well grown, making off in the grass.
This boy Jim legged it after one of them, a cub about as big as a
Newfoundland dog--not so high, but longer.  I followed as fast as I
could, but he was a big Zulu and went like a buck, yelling like mad all
the time.  We were in the bend of one of the long pools down near the
Komati, and when I got through the reeds the cub was at the water's edge
facing Jim, and Jim was dancing around heading it off with only one
light stick.  As soon as it saw us coming on, the cub took to the water,
and Jim after it.  It was as good as a play.  Jim swam up behind, and
putting his hand on its head ducked it right under: the cub turned as it
came up and struck out at him viciously, but he was back out of reach:
when it turned again to go Jim ducked it again, and it went on like that
six or eight times, till the thing was half drowned and had no more
fight in it.  Then Jim got hold of it by the tail and swam back to us,
still shouting and quite mad with excitement.

"Of course," added Bob with a wag of his head, "you can say it was only
a cub; but it takes a good man to go up naked and tackle a thing like
that, with teeth and claws to cut you into ribbons."

"Was Jim here to-day?"  I asked, as soon as there was an opening.  Bob
shook his head with a kindly regretful smile.  "No, Sonny, not here;
you'd 'a' heard him.  Jim's gone.  I had to sack him.  A real fine
nigger, but a terror to drink, and always in trouble.  He fairly wore me
right out."

We were generally a party of half a dozen--the owners of the four
waggons, a couple of friends trading with Delagoa, a man from Swaziland,
and--just then--an old Yankee hunter-prospector.  It was our holiday
time, before the hard work with loads would commence, and we dawdled
along feeding up the cattle and taking it easy ourselves.

It was too early for loads in the Bay, so we moved slowly and hunted on
the way, sometimes camping for several days in places where grass and
water were good; and that lion skin was the cause of many
disappointments to me.  Never a bush or ant-heap, never a donga or a
patch of reeds, did I pass for many days after that without the
conviction that something was lurking there.  Game there was in plenty,
no doubt, but it did not come my way.  Days went by with, once or twice,
the sight of some small buck just as it disappeared, and many times, the
noise of something in the bush or the sound of galloping feet.  Others
brought their contributions to the pot daily, and there seemed to be no
reason in the world why I alone should fail--no reason except sheer bad
luck!  It is difficult to believe you have made mistakes when you do not
know enough to recognise them, and have no extent your own ignorance;
and then bad luck is such an easy and such a flattering explanation!  If
I did not go so far on the easy road of excuse-making as to put all the
failures down to bad luck, perhaps some one else deserves the credit.

One evening as we were lounging round the camp fire, Robbie, failing to
find a soft spot for his head on a thorn log, got up reluctantly to
fetch his blankets, exclaiming with a mock tragic air:

"The time is out of joint; O cursed spite, That ever I was born to set
it right."

We knew Robbie's way.  There were times when he would spout heroics,
suggested by some passing trifle, his own face a marvel of solemnity the
whole time, and only the amused expression in his spectacled grey eyes
to show he was poking fun at himself.  An indulgent smile, a chuckle,
and the genial comment "Silly ass!" came from different quarters; for
Robbie was a favourite.  Only old Rocky maintained his usual gravity.

As Robbie settled down again in comfort, the old man remarked in level
thoughtful tones: "I reckon the feller as said that was a waster, he
chucked it!"  There was a short pause in which I, in my ignorance, began
to wonder if it was possible that Rocky did not know the source; or did
he take the quotation seriously?  Then Robbie answered in mild protest:
"It was a gentleman of the name of Hamlet who said it."

"Well, you can bet he was no good, anyhow," Rocky drawled out.  "`Jus'
my luck!' is the waster's motto!"

"They do say he was mad," Robbie replied, as his face twitched with a
pull-your-leg expression, "but he got off a lot of first-class things
all the same--some of the best things ever said."

"I da' say; they mostly can.  But a man as sets down and blames his luck
is no good anyhow.  He's got no sand, and got no sense, and got no
honesty!  It ain't the time's wrong: it's the man!  It ain't the job's
too big: it's the man's too little!"

"You don't believe in luck at all, Rocky?"  I ventured to put in.

"I don't say thar's no such thing as luck--good and bad; but it ain't
the explanation o' success an' failure--not by a long way.  No, sirree,
luck's just the thing any man'd like ter believe is the reason for his
failure and another feller's success.  But it ain't so.  When another
man pulls off what you don't, the first thing you got ter believe is
it's your own fault; and the last, it's his luck.  And you jus' got ter
wade in an' find out whar you went wrong, an' put it right, 'thout any
excuses an' explanations."

"But, Rocky, explanations aren't always excuses, and sometimes you
really have to give them!"

"Sonny, you kin reckon it dead sure thar's something wrong 'bout a thing
that don't explain itself; an' one explanation's as bad as two
mistakes--it don't fool anybody worth speaking of, 'cept yerself.  You
find the remedy; you can leave other folks put up the excuses."

I was beaten.  It was no use going on, for I knew he was right.  I
suppose the other fellows also knew whom he was getting at, but they
said nothing; and the subject seemed to have dropped, when Rocky,
harking back to Robbie's quotation, said, with a ghost of a smile: "I
reckon ef that sharp o' your'n hed ter keep the camp in meat we'd go
pretty nigh hungry."

But it seemed a good deal to give up all at once--the bad luck, the
excuses and explanations, and the comfort they afforded; and I could not
help thinking of that wretched wrong-headed stembuck that had actually
allowed me to pass it, and then cantered away behind me.

Rocky, known, liked and respected by all, yet intimate with none, was
`going North'--even to the Zambesi, it was whispered--but no one knew
where or why.  He was going off alone, with two pack-donkeys and not
even a boy for company, on a trip of many hundreds of miles and
indefinite duration.  No doubt he had an idea to work out; perhaps a
report of some trader or hunter or even native was his pole-star: most
certainly he had a plan, but what it was no living soul would know.
That was the way of his kind.  With them there was no limit in time or
distance, no hint of purpose or direction, no home, no address, no
`people'; perhaps a partner somewhere or a chum, as silent as
themselves, who would hear some day--if there was anything to tell.

Rocky had worked near our camp on the Berg.  I had known him to nod to,
and when we met again at one of the early outspans in the Bush and
offered a lift for him and his packs he accepted and joined us, it being
still a bit early to attempt crossing the rivers with pack-donkeys.  It
may be that the `lift' saved his donkeys something on the roughest roads
and in the early stages; or it may be that we served as a useful screen
for his movements, making it difficult for any one else to follow his
line and watch him.  Anyway, he joined us in the way of those days: that
is, we travelled together and as a rule we grubbed together; yet each
cooked for himself and used his own stores, and in principle we
maintained our separate establishments.  The bag alone was common; each
man brought what game he got and threw it into the common stock.

The secret of agreement in the veld is--complete independence!  Points
of contact are points of friction--nowhere more so; and the safest plan
is, each man his own outfit and each free to feed or sleep or trek as
and when he chooses.  I have known partners and friends who would from
time to time move a trek apart, or a day apart, and always camp apart
when they rejoined; and so remain friends.

Rocky--in full, Rocky Mountain Jack--had another name, but it was known
to few besides the Mining Commissioner's clerk who registered his
licences from time to time.  "In the Rockies whar I was raised" is about
the only remark having deliberate reference to his personal history
which he was known to have made; but it was enough on which to found the
name by which we knew him.

What struck me first about him was the long Colt's revolver, carried on
his hip; and for two days this `gun,' as he called it, conjured up
visions of Poker Flat and Roaring Camp, Jack Hamlin and Yuba Bill of
cherished memory; and then the inevitable question got itself asked:

"Did you ever shoot a man, Rocky?"

"No, Sonny," he drawled gently, "never hed ter use it yet!"

"It looks very old.  Have you had it long?"

"Jus' 'bout thirty years, I reckon!"

"Oh!  Seems a long time to carry a thing without using it!"

"Waal," he answered half absently, "thet's so.  It's a thing you don't
want orfen--but when you do, you want it derned bad!"

Rocky seemed to me to have stepped into our life out of the pages of
Bret Harte.  For me the glamour of romance was cast by the Master's
spell over all that world, and no doubt helped to make old Rocky
something of a hero in the eyes of youth; but such help was of small
account, for the cardinal fact was Rocky himself.  He was a man.

There did not seem to be any known region of the earth where prospectors
roam that he had not sampled, and yet whilst gleaning something from
every land, his native flavour clung to him unchanged.  He was silent by
habit and impossible to draw; not helpful to those who looked for short
cuts, yet kindly and patient with those who meant to try; he was not to
be exploited, and had an illuminating instinct for what was not genuine.
He had `no use for short weight'--and showed it!

I used to watch him in the circle round the fire at nights, his face
grave, weather-stained and wrinkled, with clear grey eyes and long brown
beard, slightly grizzled then--watch and wonder why Rocky, experienced,
wise and steadfast, should--at sixty--be seeking still.  Were the prizes
so few in the prospector's life? or was there something wanting in him
too?  Why had he not achieved success?

It was not so clear then that ideals differ.  Rocky's ideal was the
life--not the escape from it.  There was something--sentiment,
imagination, poetry, call it what you will--that could make common
success seem to him common indeed and cheap!  To follow in a new rush,
to reap where another had sown, had no charm for him.  It may be that an
inborn pride disliked it; but it seems more likely that it simply did
not attract him.  And if--as in the end I thought--Rocky had taken the
world as it is and backed himself against it--living up to his ideal,
playing a `lone hand' and playing it fair in all conditions, treading
the unbeaten tracks, finding his triumph in his work, always moving on
and contented so to end: the crown, "He was a man!"--then surely Rocky's
had achieved success!

That is Rocky, as remembered now!  A bit idealised?  Perhaps so: but who
can say!  In truth he had his sides and the defects of his qualities,
like every one else; and it was not every one who made a hero of him.
Many left him respectfully alone; and something of their feeling came to
me the first time I was with him, when a stupid chatterer talked and
asked too much.  He was not surly or taciturn, but I felt frozen through
by a calm deadly unresponsiveness which anything with blood and brain
should have shrunk under.  The dull monotone, the ominous drawl, the
steady something in his clear calm eyes which I cannot define, gave an
almost corrosive effect to innocent words and a voice of lazy

"What's the best thing to do following up a wounded buffalo?" was the
question.  The questions sprung briskly, as only a `yapper' puts them;
and the answers came like reluctant drops from a filter.  "Git out!"

"Yes, but if there isn't time?"

"Say yer prayers!"

"No--seriously--what is the best way of tackling one?"

"Ef yer wawnt to know, thar's only one way: Keep cool and shoot

"Oh! of course--_if you can_?"

"An' ef you can't," he added in fool-killer tones, "best stay right

Rocky had no fancy notions: he hunted for meat and got it as soon as
possible; he was seldom out long, and rarely indeed came back
empty-handed.  I had already learnt not to be too ready with questions.
It was better, so Rocky put it, "to keep yer eyes open and yer mouth
shut"; but the results at first hardly seemed to justify the process.
At the end of a week of failures and disappointments all I knew was that
I knew nothing--a very notable advance it is true, but one quite
difficult to appreciate!  Thus it came to me in the light of a
distinction when one evening, after a rueful confession of blundering
made to the party in general, Rocky passed a brief but not unfriendly
glance over me and said, "On'y the born fools stays fools.  You'll git
ter learn bymbye; you ain't always yappin'!"

It was not an extravagant compliment; but failure and helplessness act
on conceit like water on a starched collar: mine was limp by that time,
and I was grateful for little things--most grateful when next morning,
as we were discussing our several ways, he turned to me and asked
gently, "Comin' along, Boy?"

Surprise and gratitude must have produced a touch of effusiveness which
jarred on him; for, to the eager exclamation and thanks, he made no
answer--just moved on, leaving me to follow.  In his scheme of life
there was `no call to slop over.'

There was a quiet unhesitating sureness and a definiteness of purpose
about old Rocky's movements which immediately inspired confidence.  We
had not been gone many minutes before I began to have visions of
exciting chases and glorious endings, and as we walked silently along
they took possession of me so completely that I failed to notice the
difference between his methods and mine.  Presently, brimful of
excitement and hope, I asked cheerily what he thought we would get.  The
old man stopped and with a gentle graveness of look and a voice from
which all trace of tartness or sarcasm was banished, said, "See, Sonny!
If you been useter goin' round like a dawg with a tin it ain't any
wonder you seen nothin'.  You got ter walk soft an' keep yer head shut!"

In reply to my apology he said that there was "no bell an' curtain in
this yere play; you got ter be thar waitin'."

Rocky knew better than I did the extent of his good nature; he knew that
in all probability it meant a wasted day; for, with the best will in the
world, the beginner is almost certain to spoil sport.  It looks so
simple and easy when you have only read about it or heard others talk;
but there are pitfalls at every step.  When, in what seemed to me
perfectly still air, Rocky took a pinch of dust and let it drop, and
afterwards wet one finger and held it up to feel which side cooled, it
was not difficult to know that he was trying the wind; but when he
changed direction suddenly for no apparent reason, or when he stopped
and, after a glance at the ground, slackened his frame, lost all
interest in sport, wind and surroundings, and addressed a remark to me
in ordinary tones, I was hopelessly at sea.  His manner showed that some
possibility was disposed of and some idea abandoned.  Once he said
"Rietbuck!  Heard us I reckon," and then turned off at a right-angle;
but a little later on he pointed to other spoor and, indifferently
dropping the one word `Koodoo,' continued straight on.  To me the two
spoors seemed equally fresh; he saw hours'--perhaps a whole day's--
difference between them.  That the rietbuck, scared by us, had gone
ahead and was keenly on the watch for us and therefore not worth
following, and that the koodoo was on the move and had simply struck
across our line and was therefore not to be overtaken, were conclusions
he drew without hesitation.  I only saw spoor and began to palpitate
with thoughts of bagging a koodoo bull.

We had been out perhaps an hour, and by unceasing watchfulness I had
learnt many things: they were about as well learnt and as useful as a
sentence in a foreign tongue got off by heart; but to me they seemed the
essentials and the fundamentals of hunting.  I was feeling very pleased
with myself and confident of the result; the stumbling over stones and
stumps had ceased; and there was no more catching in thorns, crunching
on bare gritty places, clinking on rocks, or crackling of dry twigs; and
as we moved on in silence the visions of koodoo and other big game
became very real.  There was nothing to hinder them: to do as Rocky did
had become mechanically easy; a glance in his direction every now and
then was enough; there was time and temptation to look about and still
perhaps to be the first to spot the game.

It was after taking one such casual glance around that I suddenly missed
Rocky: a moment later I saw him moving forward, fast but silently, under
cover of an ant-heap--stooping low and signing to me with one hand
behind his back.  With a horrible feeling of having failed him I made a
hurried step sideways to get into line behind him and the ant-heap, and
I stepped right on to a pile of dry crackly sticks.  Rocky stood up
quietly and waited, while I wished the earth would open and swallow me.
When I got up abreast he half turned and looked me over with eyes
slightly narrowed and a faint but ominous smile on one side of his
mouth, and drawled out gently:

"You'd oughter brought some fire crackers!"  If only he had sworn at me
it would have been endurable.

We moved on again and this time I had eyes for nothing but Rocky's back,
and where to put my foot next.  It was not very long before he checked
in mid-stride and I stood rigid as a pointer.  Peering intently over his
shoulder in the direction in which he looked I could see nothing.  The
bush was very open, and yet, even with his raised rifle to guide me, I
could not for the life of me see what he was aiming at.  Then the shot
rang out, and a duiker toppled over kicking in the grass not a hundred
yards away.

The remembrance of certain things still makes me feel uncomfortable; the
yell of delight I let out as the buck fell; the wild dash forward, which
died away to a dead stop as I realised that Rocky himself had not moved;
the sight of him, as I looked back, calmly reloading; and the silence.
To me it was an event: to him, his work.  But these things were
forgotten then--lost behind the everlasting puzzle, How was it possible
I had not seen the buck until it fell?  Rocky must have known what was
worrying me, for, after we had picked up the buck, he remarked without
any preliminary, "It ain't easy in this bush ter pick up what don't
move; an' it ain't hardly possible ter find what ye don't know!"

"Game you mean?"  I asked, somewhat puzzled.

"This one was feeding," he answered, after a nod in reply.  "I saw his
head go up ter listen; but when they don't move, an' you don't jus' know
what they look like, you kin 'most walk atop o' them.  You got ter kind
o' shape 'em in yer eye, an' when you got that fixed you kin pick 'em up
'most anywhere!"

It cost Rocky an effort to volunteer anything.  There were others always
ready to talk and advise; but they were no help.  It was Rocky himself
who once said that "the man who's allus offerin' his advice fer nothin'
's askin' 'bout's much's it's worth."  He seemed to run dry of words--
like an overdrawn well.  For several days he took no further notice of
me, apparently having forgotten my existence or repented his good
nature.  Once, when in reply to a question, I was owning up to the hopes
and chances and failures of the day, I caught his attentive look turned
on me and was conscious of it--and a little apprehensive--for the rest
of the evening; but nothing happened.

The following evening however it came out.  I had felt that that look
meant something, and that sooner or later I would catch it.  It was
characteristic of him that he could always wait, and I never felt quite
safe with him--never comfortably sure that something was not being saved
up for me for some mistake perhaps days old.  He was not to be hurried,
nor was he to be put off, and nobody ever interrupted him or headed him
off.  His quiet voice was never raised, and the lazy gentleness never
disturbed; he seemed to know exactly what he wanted to say, and to have
opening and attention waiting for him.  I suppose it was partly because
he spoke so seldom: but there was something else too--the something that
was just Rocky himself.  Although the talk appeared the result of
accident, an instinct told me from the start that it was not really so:
it was Rocky's slow and considered way.

The only dog with us was licking a cut on her shoulder--the result of an
unauthorised rush at a wounded buck--and after an examination of her
wound we had wandered over the account of how she had got it, and so on
to discussing the dog herself.  Rocky sat in silence, smoking and
looking into the fire, and the little discussion was closed by some one
saying, "She's no good for a hunting dog--too plucky!"  It was then I
saw Rocky's eyes turned slowly on the last speaker: he looked at him
thoughtfully for a good minute, and then remarked quietly:

"Thar ain't no sich thing as too plucky!"  And with that he stopped,
almost as if inviting contradiction.  Whether he wanted a reply or not
one cannot say; anyway, he got none.  No one took Rocky on
unnecessarily; and at his leisure he resumed:

"Thar's brave men; an' thar's fools; an' you kin get some that's both.
But thar's a whole heap that ain't!  An' it's jus' the same with dawgs.
She's no fool, but she ain't been taught: that's what's the matter with
her.  Men ha' got ter larn: dawgs too!  Men ain't born equal: no more's
dawgs!  One's born better 'n another--more brains, more heart; but I
ain't yet heard o' the man born with knowledge or experience; that's
what they got ter learn--men an' dawgs!  The born fool's got to do
fool's work all the time: but the others larn; and the brave man with
brains 's got a big pull.  He don't get shook up--jus' keeps on thinkin'
out his job right along, while the other feller's worryin' about his
hide!  An' dawgs is the same."

Rocky's eyes--for ever grave and thoughtful--rested on the fire; and the
remarks that came from the other men passed unnoticed, but they served
to keep the subject alive.  Presently he went on again--opening with an
observation that caused me to move uneasily before there was time to
think why!

"Boys is like pups--you got ter help 'em some; but not too much, an' not
too soon.  They got ter larn themselves.  I reckon ef a man's never made
a mistake he's never had a good lesson.  Ef you don't pay for a thing
you don't know what it's worth; and mistakes is part o' the price o'
knowledge--the other part is work!  But mistakes is the part you don't
like payin': thet's why you remember it.  You save a boy from makin'
mistakes and ef he's got good stuff in him, most like you spoil it.  He
don't know anything properly, 'cause he don't think; and he don't think,
'cause you saved him the trouble an' he never learned how!  He don't
know the meanin' o' consequences and risks, 'cause you kep' 'em off him!
An' bymbye he gets ter believe it's born in him ter go right, an' knows
everything, an' can't go wrong; an' ef things don't pan out in the end
he reckon it's jus' bad luck!  No!  Sirree!  Ef he's got ter swim you
let him know right there that the water's deep an' thar ain't no one to
hol' him up, an' ef he don't wade in an' larn, it's goin' ter be his

My eyes were all for Rocky, but he was not looking my way, and when the
next remark came, and my heart jumped and my hands and feet moved of
their own accord, his face was turned quite away from me towards the man
on his left.

"An' it's jus' the same 'ith huntin'!  It looks so blamed easy he
reckons it don't need any teachin'.  Well, let him try!  Leave him run
on his own till his boots is walked off an' he's like to set down and
cry, ef he wasn't 'shamed to; let him know every pur-tickler sort o'
blamed fool he can make of himself; an' then he's fit ter teach, 'cause
he'll listen, an' watch, an' learn--at? say thank ye fer it!  Mostly you
got ter make a fool o' yourself once or twice ter know what it feels
like an' how t' avoid it: best do it young--it teaches a boy; but it
kind o' breaks a man up!"

I kept my eyes on Rocky, avoiding the others, fearing that a look or
word might tempt some one to rub it in; and it was a relief when the old
man naturally and easily picked up his original point and, turning
another look on Jess, said:

"You got ter begin on the pup.  It ain't her fault; it's yours.  She's
full up o' the right stuff, but she got no show to larn!  Dawgs is all
different, good an' bad--just like men: some larns quick; some'll never
larn.  But thar ain't any too plucky!"

He tossed a chip of green wood into the heart of the fire and watched it
spurtle and smoke, and after quite a long pause, added:

"Thar's times when a dawg's got to see it through an' be killed.  It's
his dooty--same as a man's.  I seen it done!"

The last words were added with a narrowing of his eyes and a curious
softening of voice--as of personal affection or regret.  Others noticed
it too; and in reply to a question as to how it had happened Rocky
explained in a few words that a wounded buffalo had waylaid and tossed
the man over its back, and as it turned again to gore him the dog rushed
in between, fighting it off for a time and eventually fastening on to
the nose when the buffalo still pushed on.  The check enabled the man to
reach his gun and shoot the buffalo; but the dog was trampled to death.

"Were you...?" some one began--and then at the look in Rocky's face,
hesitated.  Rocky, staring into the fire, answered:

"It was my dawg!"


Long after the other men were asleep I lay in my blankets watching the
tricks of light and shadow played by the fire, as fitfully it flamed or
died away.  It showed the long prostrate figures of the others as they
slept full stretch on their backs, wrapped in dark blankets; the
waggons, touched with unwonted colours by the flames, and softened to
ghostly shadows when they died; the oxen, sleeping contentedly at their
yokes; Rocky's two donkeys, black and grey, tethered under a
thorn-tree--now and then a long ear moving slowly to some distant sound
and dropping back again satisfied.  I could not sleep; but Rocky was
sleeping like a babe.  He, gaunt and spare--6 foot 2 he must have
stood--weather-beaten and old, with the long solitary trip before him
and sixty odd years of life behind, he slept when he laid his head down,
and was wide awake and rested when he raised it.  He, who had been
through it all, slept; but I, who had only listened, was haunted,
bewitched, possessed, by racing thoughts; and all on account of four
words, and the way he said them, "It was my dawg."

It was still dark, with a faint promise of saffron in the East, when I
felt a hand on my shoulder and heard Rocky's voice saying, "Comin'
along, Sonny?"

One of the drivers raised his head to look at us as we passed, and then
called to his voorlooper to turn the cattle loose to graze, and dropped
back to sleep.  We left them so and sallied out into the pure clear
morning while all the world was still, while the air, cold and subtly
stimulating, put a spring into the step and an extra beat or two into
the pulse, fairly rinsing lungs and eyes and brain.

What is there to tell of that day?  Why! nothing, really nothing, except
that it was a happy day--a day of little things that all went well, and
so it came to look like the birthday of the hunting.  What did it matter
to me that we were soaked through in ten minutes? for the dew weighed
down the heavy-topped grass with clusters of crystal drops that looked
like diamond sprays.  It was all too beautiful for words: and so it
should be in the spring-time of youth.

Rocky was different that day.  He showed me things; reading the open
book of nature that I could not understand.  He pointed out the spoors
going to and from the drinking-place, and named the various animals;
showed me one more deeply indented than the rest and, murmuring "Scared
I guess," pointed to where it had dashed off out of the regular track;
picked out the big splayed pad of the hyena sneaking round under cover;
stopped quietly in his stride to point where a hare was sitting up
cleaning itself, not ten yards off; stopped again at the sound of a
clear, almost metallic, `clink' and pointed to a little sandy gully in
front of us down which presently came thirty or forty guinea-fowl in
single file, moving swiftly, running and walking, and all in absolute
silence except for that one `clink.'  How did he know they were there,
and which way they would go, and know it all so promptly? were questions
I asked myself.

We walked with the sun--that is towards the West--so that the light
would show up the game and be in their eyes, making it more difficult
for them to see us.  We watched a little red stembuck get up from his
form, shake the dew from his coat, stretch himself, and then pick his
way daintily through the wet grass, nibbling here and there as he went.
Rocky did not fire; he wanted something better.

After the sun had risen, flooding the whole country with golden light,
and, while the dew lasted, making it glisten like a bespangled
transformation scene, we came on a patch of old long grass and, parted
by some twenty yards, walked through it abreast.  There was a wild rush
from under my feet, a yellowish body dashed through the grass, and I got
out in time to see a rietbuck ram cantering away.  Then Rocky, beside
me, gave a shrill whistle; the buck stopped, side on, looked back at us,
and Rocky dropped it where it stood.  Instantly following the shot there
was another rush on our left, and before the second rietbuck had gone
thirty yards Rocky toppled it over in its tracks.  From the whistle to
the second shot it was all done in about ten seconds.  To me it looked
like magic.  I could only gasp.

We cleaned the bucks, and hid them in a bush.  There was meat enough for
the camp then, and I thought we would return at once for boys to carry
it; but Rocky, after a moment's glance round, shouldered his rifle and
moved on again.  I followed, asking no questions.  We had been gone only
a few minutes when to my great astonishment he stopped and pointing
straight in front asked:

"What 'ud you put up for that stump?"  I looked hard, and answered
confidently, "Two hundred!"

"Step it!" was his reply.  I paced the distance; it was eighty-two

It was very bewildering; but he helped me out a bit with "Bush
telescopes, Sonny!"

"You mean it magnifies them?"  I asked in surprise.  "No!  Magnifies the
distance, like lookin' down an avenue!  Gun barr'l looks a mile long
when you put yer eye to it!  Open flats brings 'em closer; and 'cross
water or a gully seems like you kin put yer hand on 'em?"

"I would have missed--by feet--that time Rocky!"

"You kin take it fer a start, Halve the distance and aim low!"

"Aim low, as well?"

"Thar's allus somethin' low: legs, an' ground to show what you done!
But thar's no `outers' marked on the sky!"

Once, as we walked along, he paused to look at some freshly overturned
ground, and dropped the one word, `Pig.'  We turned then to the right
and presently came upon some vlei ground densely covered with tall green
reeds.  He slowed down as we approached; I tip-toed in sympathy; and
when only a few yards off he stopped and beckoned me on, and as I came
abreast he raised his hand in warning and pointed into the reeds.  There
was a curious subdued sort of murmur of many deep voices.  It conveys no
idea of the fact to say they were grunts.  They were softened out of all
recognition: there is only one word for it, they sounded `confidential.'
Then as we listened I could make out the soft silky rustling of the
rich undergrowth, and presently, could follow, by the quivering and
waving of odd reeds, the movements of the animals themselves.  They were
only a few yards from us--the nearest four or five; they were busy and
contented; and it was obvious they were utterly unconscious of our
presence.  As we peered down to the reeds from our greater height it
seemed that we could see the ground and that not so much as a rat could
have passed unnoticed.  Yet we saw nothing!

And then, without the slightest sign, cause or warning that I could
detect, in one instant every sound ceased.  I watched the reeds like a
cat on the pounce: never a stir or sign or sound: they had vanished.  I
turned to Rocky: he was standing at ease, and there was the faintest
look of amusement in his eyes.

"They must be there; they can't have got away?"  It was a sort of
indignant protest against his evident `chucking it'; but it was full of
doubt all the same.

"Try!" he said, and I jumped into the reeds straight away.  The
under-foliage, it is true, was thicker and deeper than it had looked;
but for all that it was like a conjuring trick--they were not there!  I
waded through a hundred yards or more of the narrow belt--it was not
more than twenty yards wide anywhere--but the place was deserted.  It
struck me then that if they could dodge us at five to ten yards while we
were watching from the bank and they did not know it--Well, I `chucked
it' too.  Rocky was standing in the same place with the same faint look
of friendly amusement when I got back, wet and muddy.

"Pigs is like that," he said, "same as elephants--jus' disappears!"

We went on again, and a quarter of an hour later, it may be, Rocky
stopped, subsided to a sitting position, beckoned to me, and pointed
with his levelled rifle in front.  It was a couple of minutes before he
could get me to see the stembuck standing in the shade of a thorn-tree.
I would never have seen it but for his whisper to look for something
moving: that gave it to me; I saw the movement of the head as it

"High: right!" was Rocky's comment, as the bullet ripped the bark off a
tree and the startled stembuck raced away.  In the excitement I had
forgotten his advice already!

But there was no time to feel sick and disgusted; the buck, puzzled by
the report on one side and the smash on the tree on the other, half
circled us and stopped to look back.  Rocky laid his hand on my

"Take your time, Sonny!" he said, "Aim low; an' _don't full!  Squeeze_!"
And at last I got it.

We had our breakfast there--the liver roasted on the coals, and a couple
of `dough-boys,' with the unexpected addition of a bottle of cold tea,
weak and unsweetened, produced from Rocky's knapsack!  We stayed there a
couple of hours, and that is the only time he really opened out.  I
understood then--at last--that of his deliberate kindliness he had come
out that morning meaning to make a happy day of it for a youngster; and
he did it.

He had the knack of getting at the heart of things, and putting it all
in the fewest words.  He spoke in the same slow grave way, with habitual
economy of breath and words; and yet the pictures were living and real,
and each incident complete.  I seemed to get from him that morning all
there was to know of the hunting in two great continents--Grizzlies and
other `bar,' Moose and Wapiti, hunted in the snows of the North West;
Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino, Lions, and scores more, in the sweltering heat
of Africa!

That was a happy day!

When I woke up next morning Rocky was fitting the packs on his donkeys.
I was a little puzzled, wondering at first if he was testing the
saddles, for he had said nothing about moving on; but when he joined us
at breakfast the donkeys stood packed ready to start.  Then Robbie

"Going to make a move, Rocky?"

"Yes!  Reckon I'll git!" he answered quietly.

I ate in silence, thinking of what he was to face: many hundreds of
miles--perhaps a thousand or two; many, many months--may be a year or
two; wild country, wild tribes, and wild beasts; floods and fever;
accident, hunger, and disease; and alone!

When we had finished breakfast he rinsed out his beaker and hung it on
one of the packs, slung his rifle over his shoulder, and picking up his
long assegai-wood walking-stick tapped the donkeys lightly to turn them
into the Kaffir footpath that led away North.  They jogged on into place
in single file.

Rocky paused a second before following, turned one brief grave glance on
us, and said!

"Well.  So long!"

He never came back!



Good dogs were not easy to get; I had tried hard enough for one before
starting, but without success.  Even unborn puppies had jealous
prospective owners waiting to claim them.

There is always plenty of room at the top of the tree, and good hunting
dogs were as rare as good men, good horses, and good front oxen.  A lot
of qualities are needed in the make-up of a good hunting dog: size,
strength, quickness, scent, sense and speed--and plenty of courage.
They are very very difficult to get; but even small dogs are useful, and
many a fine feat stands to the credit of little terriers in guarding
camps at night and in standing off wounded animals that meant mischief.

Dennison was saved from a wounded lioness by his two fox-terriers.  He
had gone out to shoot bush-pheasants, and came unexpectedly on a lioness
playing with her cubs: the cubs hid in the grass, but she stood up at
bay to protect them, and he, forgetting that he had taken the big
`looper' cartridges from his gun and reloaded with Number 6, fired.  The
shot only maddened her, and she charged; but the two dogs dashed at her,
one at each side, barking, snapping and yelling, rushing in and jumping
back so fast and furiously that they flustered her.  Leaving the man for
the moment, she turned on them, dabbing viciously with her huge paws,
first at one, then at the other; quick as lightning she struck right and
left as a kitten will at a twirled string; but they kept out of reach.
It only lasted seconds, but that was long enough for the man to reload
and shoot the lioness through the heart.

There was only the one dog in our camp; and she was not an attractive
one.  She was a bull-terrier with a dull brindled coat--black and grey
in shadowy stripes.  She had small cross-looking eyes and uncertain
always-moving ears; she was bad tempered and most unsociable; but she
was as faithful and as brave a dog as ever lived.  She never barked;
never howled when beaten for biting strangers or kaffirs or going for
the cattle; she was very silent, very savage, and very quick.  She
belonged to my friend Ted, and never left his side day or night.  Her
name was Jess.

Jess was not a favourite, but everybody respected her, partly because
you knew she would not stand any nonsense--no pushing, patting or
punishment, and very little talking to--and partly because she was so
faithful and plucky.  She was not a hunting dog, but on several
occasions had helped to pull down wounded game; she had no knowledge or
skill, and was only fierce and brave, and there was always the risk that
she would be killed.  She would listen to Ted, but to no one else; one
of us might have shouted his lungs out, but it would not have stopped
her from giving chase the moment she saw anything and keeping on till
she was too dead beat to move any further.

The first time I saw Jess we were having dinner, and I gave her a bone--
putting it down close to her and saying, "Here! good dog!"  As she did
not even look at it, I moved it right under her nose.  She gave a low
growl, and her little eyes turned on me for just one look as she got up
and walked away.

There was a snigger of laughter from some of the others, but nobody said
anything, and it seemed wiser to ask no questions just then.
Afterwards, when we were alone, one of them told me Ted had trained her
not to feed from any one else, adding, "You must not feed another man's
dog; a dog has only one master!"

We respected Jess greatly; but no one knew quite how much we respected
her until the memorable day near Ship Mountain.

We had rested through the heat of the day under a big tree on the bank
of a little stream; it was the tree under which Soltke prayed and died.
About sundown, just before we were ready to start, some other waggons
passed, and Ted, knowing the owner, went on with him intending to rejoin
us at the next outspan.  As he jumped on to the passing waggon he called
to Jess, and she ran out of a patch of soft grass under one of the big
trees behind our waggons.  She answered his call instantly, but when she
saw him moving off on the other waggon she sat down in the road and
watched him anxiously for some seconds, then ran on a few steps in her
curious quick silent way and again stopped, giving swift glances
alternately towards Ted and towards us.  Ted remarked laughingly that
she evidently thought he had made a mistake by getting on to the wrong
waggon, and that she would follow presently.

After he had disappeared she ran back to her patch of grass and lay
down, but in a few minutes she was back again squatting in the road
looking with that same anxious worried expression after her master.
Thus she went to and fro for the quarter of an hour it took us to
inspan, and each time she passed we could hear a faint anxious little

The oxen were inspanned and the last odd things were being put up when
one of the boys came to say that he could not get the guns and
water-barrel because Jess would not let him near them.  There was
something the matter with the dog, he said; he thought she was mad.

Knowing how Jess hated kaffirs we laughed at the notion, and went for
the things ourselves.  As we came within five yards of the tree where we
had left the guns there was a rustle in the grass, and Jess came out
with her swift silent run, appearing as unexpectedly as a snake does,
and with some odd suggestion of a snake in her look and attitude.  Her
head, body and tail were in a dead line, and she was crouching slightly
as for a spring; her ears were laid flat back, her lips twitching
constantly, showing the strong white teeth, and her cross wicked eyes
had such a look of remorseless cruelty in them that we stopped as if we
had been turned to stone.  She never moved a muscle or made a sound, but
kept those eyes steadily fixed on us.  We moved back a pace or two and
began to coax and wheedle her; but it was no good; she never moved or
made a sound, and the unblinking look remained.  For a minute we stood
our ground, and then the hair on her back and shoulders began very
slowly to stand up.  That was enough: we cleared off.  It was a mighty
uncanny appearance.

Then another tried his hand; but it was just the same.  No one could do
anything with her; no one could get near the guns or the water-barrel;
as soon as we returned for a fresh attempt she reappeared in the same
place and in the same way.

The position was too ridiculous, and we were at our wits' end; for Jess
held the camp.  The kaffirs declared the dog was mad, and we began to
have very uncomfortable suspicions that they were right; but we decided
to make a last attempt, and surrounding the place approached from all
sides.  But the suddenness with which she appeared before we got into
position so demoralised the kaffirs that they bolted, and we gave it up,
owning ourselves beaten.  We turned to watch her as she ran back for the
last time, and as she disappeared in the grass we heard distinctly the
cry of a very young puppy.  Then the secret of Jess's madness was out.

We had to send for Ted, and when he returned a couple of hours later
Jess met him out on the road in the dark where she had been watching
half the time ever since he left.  She jumped up at his chest giving a
long tremulous whimper of welcome, and then ran ahead straight to the
nest in the grass.

He took a lantern and we followed, but not too close.  When he knelt
down to look at the puppies she stood over them and pushed herself in
between him and them; when he put out a hand to touch them she pushed it
away with her nose, whining softly in protest and trembling with
excitement--you could see she would not bite, but she hated him to touch
her puppies.  Finally, when he picked one up she gave a low cry and
caught his wrist gently, but held it.

That was Jess, the mother of Jock!



There were six puppies, and as the waggons were empty we fixed up a
roomy nest in one of them for Jess and her family.  There was no trouble
with Jess; nobody interfered with her, and she interfered with nobody.
The boys kept clear of her; but we used to take a look at her and the
puppies as we walked along with the waggons; so by degrees she got to
know that we would not harm them, and she no longer wanted to eat us
alive if we went near and talked to her.

Five of the puppies were fat strong yellow little chaps with dark
muzzles--just like their father, as Ted said; and their father was an
imported dog, and was always spoken of as the best dog of the breed that
had ever been in the country.  I never saw him, so I do not really know
what he was like--perhaps he was not a yellow dog at all; but, whatever
he was, he had at that time a great reputation because he was
`imported,' and there were not half a dozen imported dogs in the whole
of the Transvaal then.  Many people used to ask what breed the puppies
were--I suppose it was because poor cross faithful old Jess was not much
to look at, and because no one had a very high opinion of yellow dogs in
general, and nobody seemed to remember any famous yellow bull-terriers.
They used to smile in a queer way when they asked the question, as if
they were going to get off a joke; but when we answered "Just like their
father--Buchanan's _imported_ dog," the smile disappeared, and they
would give a whistle of surprise and say "By Jove!" and immediately
begin to examine the five yellow puppies, remark upon their ears and
noses and legs, and praise them up until we were all as proud as if they
had belonged to us.

Jess looked after her puppies and knew nothing about the remarks that
were made, so they did not worry her, but I often looked at the faithful
old thing with her dark brindled face, cross-looking eyes and
always-moving ears, and thought it jolly hard lines that nobody had a
good word for her; it seemed rough on her that every one should be glad
there was only one puppy at all like the mother--the sixth one, a poor
miserable little rat of a thing about half the size of the others.  He
was not yellow like them, nor dark brindled like Jess, but a sort of
dirty pale half-and-half colour with some dark faint wavy lines all over
him, as if he had tried to be brindled and failed; and he had a dark
sharp wizened little muzzle that looked shrivelled up with age.

Most of the fellows said it would be a good thing to drown the odd one
because he spoilt the litter and made them look as though they were not
really thoroughbred, and because he was such a miserable little rat that
he was not worth saving anyhow; but in the end he was allowed to live.
I believe no one fancied the job of taking one of Jess's puppies away
from her; moreover, as any dog was better than none, I had offered to
take him rather than let him be drowned.  Ted had old friends to whom he
had already promised the pick of the puppies, so when I came along it
was too late, and all he could promise me was that if there should be
one over I might have it.

As they grew older and were able to crawl about they were taken off the
waggons when we outspanned and put on the ground.  Jess got to
understand this at once, and she used to watch us quite quietly as we
took them in our hands to put them down or lift them back again.  When
they were two or three weeks old a man came to the waggons who talked a
great deal about dogs, and appeared to know what had to be done.  He
said that the puppies' tails ought to be docked, and that a bull-terrier
would be no class at all with a long tail, but you should on no account
clip his ears.  I thought he was speaking of fox-terriers, and that with
bull-terriers the position was the other way round, at that time; but as
he said it was `the thing' in England, and nobody contradicted him, I
shut up.  We found out afterwards that he had made a mistake; but it was
too late then, and Jess's puppies started life as bull-terriers up to
date, with long ears and short tails.

I felt sure from the beginning that all the yellow puppies would be
claimed and that I should have to take the odd one, or none at all; so I
began to look upon him as mine already, and to take an interest in him
and look after him.  A long time ago somebody wrote that "the sense of
possession turns sand into gold," and it is one of the truest things
ever said.  Until it seemed that this queer-looking odd puppy was going
to be mine I used to think and say very much what the others did--but
with this difference, that I always felt sorry for him, and sorry for
Jess too, because he was like her and not like the father.  I used to
think that perhaps if he were given a chance he might grow up like poor
old Jess herself, ugly, cross and unpopular, but brave and faithful.  I
felt sorry for him, too, because he was small and weak, and the other
five big puppies used to push him away from his food and trample on him;
and when they were old enough to play they used to pull him about by his
ears and pack on to him--three or four to one--and bully him horribly.
Many a time I rescued him, and many a time gave him a little preserved
milk and water with bread soaked in it when the others had shouldered
him out and eaten everything.

After a little while, when my chance of getting one of the good puppies
seemed hopeless and I got used to the idea that I would have to take the
odd one, I began to notice little things about him that no one else
noticed, and got to be quite fond of the little beggar--in a kind of
way.  Perhaps I was turning my sand into gold, and my geese into swans;
perhaps I grew fond of him simply because, finding him lonely and with
no one else to depend on, I befriended him; and perhaps it was because
he was always cheerful and plucky and it seemed as if there might be
some good stuff in him after all.  Those were the things I used to think
of sometimes when feeding the little outcast.  The other puppies would
tumble him over and take his food from him; they would bump into him
when he was stooping over the dish of milk and porridge, and his head
was so big and his legs so weak that he would tip up and go heels over
head into the dish.  We were always picking him out of the food and
scraping it off him: half the time he was wet and sticky, and the other
half covered with porridge and sand baked hard by the sun.

One day just after the waggons had started, as I took a final look round
the outspan place to see if anything had been forgotten, I found the
little chap--who was only about four inches high--struggling to walk
through the long grass.  He was not big enough or strong enough to push
his way--even the stems of the down-trodden grass tripped him--and he
stumbled and floundered at every step, but he got up again each time
with his little tail standing straight up, his head erect, and his ears
cocked.  He looked such a ridiculous sight that his little tragedy of
"lost in the veld" was forgotten--one could only laugh.

What he thought he was doing, goodness only knows; he looked as proud
and important as if he owned the whole world and knew that every one in
it was watching him.  The poor little chap could not see a yard in that
grass; and in any case he was not old enough to see much, or understand
anything, for his eyes still had that bluish blind look that all very
young puppies have, but he was marching along as full of confidence as a
general at the head of his army.  How he fell out of the waggon no one
knew; perhaps the big puppies tumbled him out, or he may have tried to
follow Jess, or have climbed over the tail-board to see what was the
other side, for he was always going off exploring by himself.  His
little world was small, it may be--only the bed-plank of the waggon and
the few square yards of the ground on which they were dumped at the
outspans--but he took it as seriously as any explorer who ever tackled a

The others were a bit more softened towards the odd puppy when I caught
up to the waggons and told them of his valiant struggle to follow; and
the man who had docked the puppies' tails allowed, "I believe the rat's
got pluck, whatever else is the matter with him, for he was the only one
that didn't howl when I snipped them.  The little cuss just gave a grunt
and turned round as if he wanted to eat me.  I think he'd 'a' been
terrible angry if he hadn't been so s'prised.  Pity he's such an
awful-looking mongrel."

But no one else said a good word for him: he was really beneath notice,
and if ever they had to speak about him they called him "The Rat."
There is no doubt about it he was extremely ugly, and instead of
improving as he grew older, he became worse; yet, I could not help
liking him and looking after him, sometimes feeling sorry for him,
sometimes being tremendously amused, and sometimes--wonderful to
relate--really admiring him.  He was extraordinarily silent; while the
others barked at nothing, howled when lonely, and yelled when frightened
or hurt, the odd puppy did none of these things; in fact, he began to
show many of Jess's peculiarities; he hardly ever barked, and when he
did it was not a wild excited string of barks but little suppressed
muffled noises, half bark and half growl, and just one or two at a time;
and he did not appear to be afraid of anything, so one could not tell
what he would do if he was.

One day we had an amusing instance of his nerve: one of the oxen,
sniffing about the outspan, caught sight of him all alone, and filled
with curiosity came up to examine him, as a hulking silly old tame ox
will do.  It moved towards him slowly and heavily with its ears spread
wide and its head down, giving great big sniffs at this new object,
trying to make out what it was.  "The Rat" stood quite still with his
stumpy tail cocked up and his head a little on one side, and when the
huge ox's nose was about a foot from him he gave one of those funny
abrupt little barks.  It was as if the object had suddenly `gone off'
like a cracker, and the ox nearly tumbled over with fright; but even
when the great mountain of a thing gave a clumsy plunge round and
trotted off, "The Rat" was not the least frightened; he was startled,
and his tail and ears flickered for a second, but stiffened up again
instantly, and with another of those little barks he took a couple of
steps forward and cocked his head on the other side.  That was his way.

He was not a bit like the other puppies; if any one fired off a gun or
cracked one of the big whips the whole five would yell at the top of
their voices and, wherever they were, would start running, scrambling
and floundering as fast as they could towards the waggon without once
looking back to see what they were running away from.  The odd puppy
would drop his bone with a start or would jump round; his ears and tail
would flicker up and down for a second; then he would slowly bristle up
all over, and with his head cocked first on one side and then on the
other, stare hard with his half-blind bluish puppy eyes in the direction
of the noise; but he never ran away.

And so, little by little, I got to like him in spite of his awful
ugliness.  And it really was awful!  The other puppies grew big all
over, but the odd one at that time seemed to grow only in one part--his
tummy!  The poor little chap was born small and weak; he had always been
bullied and crowded out by the others, and the truth is he was half
starved.  The natural consequence of this was that as soon as he could
walk about and pick up things for himself he made up for lost time, and
filled up his middle piece to an alarming size before the other parts of
his body had time to grow; at that time he looked more like a big
tock-tockie beetle than a dog.

Besides the balloon-like tummy he had stick-out bandy-legs, very like a
beetle's too, and a neck so thin that it made the head look enormous,
and you wondered how the neck ever held it up.  But what made him so
supremely ridiculous was that he evidently did not know he was ugly; he
walked about as if he was always thinking of his dignity, and he had
that puffed-out and stuck-up air of importance that you only see in
small people and bantam cocks who are always trying to appear an inch
taller than they really are.

When the puppies were about a month old, and could feed on porridge or
bread soaked in soup or gravy, they got to be too much for Jess, and she
used to leave them for hours at a time and hide in the grass so as to
have a little peace and sleep.  Puppies are always hungry, so they soon
began to hunt about for themselves, and would find scraps of meat and
porridge or old bones; and if they could not get anything else, would
try to eat the raw-hide nekstrops and reims.  Then the fights began.  As
soon as one puppy saw another busy on anything, he would walk over
towards him and, if strong enough, fight him for it.  All day long it
was nothing but wrangle, snarl, bark and yelp.  Sometimes four or five
would be at it in one scrum; because as soon as one heard a row going on
he would trot up hoping to steal the bone while the others were busy

It was then that I noticed other things about the odd puppy: no matter
how many packed on to him, or how they bit or pulled him, he never once
let out a yelp; with four or five on top of him you would see him on his
back, snapping right and left with bare white teeth, gripping and
worrying them when he got a good hold of anything, and all the time
growling and snarling with a fierceness that was really comical.  It
sounded as a lion fight might sound in a toy phonograph.

Before many days passed, it was clear that some of the other puppies
were inclined to leave "The Rat" alone, and that only two of them--the
two biggest--seemed anxious to fight him and could take his bones away.
The reason soon became apparent: instead of wasting his breath in making
a noise, or wasting strength in trying to tumble the others over, "The
Rat" simply bit hard and hung on; noses, ears, lips, cheeks, feet and
even tails--all came handy to him; anything he could get hold of and
hang on to was good enough, and the result generally was that in about
half a minute the other puppy would leave everything and clear off
yelling, and probably holding up one paw or hanging its head on one side
to ease a chewed ear.

When either of the big puppies tackled the little fellow the fight
lasted much longer.  Even if he were tumbled over at once--as generally
happened--and the other one stood over him barking and growling, that
did not end the fight: as soon as the other chap got off him he would
struggle up and begin again; he would not give in.  The other puppies
seemed to think there was some sort of rule like the `count out' in
boxing, or that once you were tumbled over you ought to give up the
bone; but the odd puppy apparently did not care about rules; as far as I
could see, he had just one rule: "Stick to it," so it was not very long
before even the two big fellows gave up interfering with him.  The bites
from his little white teeth--sharp as needles--which punctured noses and
feet and tore ears, were most unpleasant.  But apart from that, they
found there was nothing to be gained by fighting him: they might roll
him over time after time, but he came back again and worried them so
persistently that it was quite impossible to enjoy the bone--they had to
keep on fighting for it.

At first I drew attention to these things, but there was no
encouragement from the others; they merely laughed at the attempt to
make the best of a bad job.  Sometimes owners of other puppies were
nettled by having their beauties compared with "The Rat," or were
annoyed because he had the cheek to fight for his own and beat them.
Once, when I had described how well he had stood up to Billy's pup,
Robbie caught up "The Rat," and placing him on the table, said: "Hats
off to the Duke of Wellington on the field of Waterloo."  That seemed to
me the poorest sort of joke to send five grown men into fits of
laughter.  He stood there on the table with his head on one side, one
ear standing up, and his stumpy tail twiggling--an absurd picture of
friendliness, pride and confidence; yet he was so ugly and ridiculous
that my heart sank, and I whisked him away.  They made fun of him, and
he did not mind; but it was making fun of me too, and I could not help
knowing why; it was only necessary to put the puppies together to see
the reason.

After that I stopped talking about him, and made the most of the good
points he showed, and tried to discover more.  It was the only
consolation for having to take the leavings of the litter.

Then there came a day when something happened which might easily have
turned out very differently, and there would have been no stories and no
Jock to tell about; and the best dog in the world would never have been
my friend and companion.  The puppies had been behaving very badly, and
had stolen several nekstrops and chewed up parts of one or two big
whips; the drivers were grumbling about all the damage done and the
extra work it gave them; and Ted, exasperated by the worry of it all,
announced that the puppies were quite old enough to be taken away, and
that those who had picked puppies must take them at once and look after
them, or let some one else have them.  When I heard him say that my
heart gave a little thump from excitement, for I knew the day had come
when the great question would be settled once and for all.  Here was a
glorious and unexpected chance; perhaps one of the others would not or
could not take his, and I might get one of the good ones...  Of course
the two big ones would be snapped up: that was certain; for, even if the
men who had picked them could not take them, others; who had been
promised puppies before me would exchange those they had already chosen
for the better ones.  Still, there were other chances; and I thought of
very little else all day long, wondering if any of the good ones would
be left; and if so, which?

In the afternoon Ted came up to where we were all lying in the shade and
startled us with the momentous announcement:

"Billy Griffiths can't take his pup!"

Every man of us sat up.  Billy's pup was the first pick, the champion of
the litter, the biggest and strongest of the lot.  Several of the others
said at once that they would exchange theirs for this one; but Ted
smiled and shook his head.

"No," he said, "you had a good pick in the beginning."  Then he turned
to me, and added: "You've only had leavings."  Some one said "The Rat,"
and there was a shout of laughter, but Ted went on; "You can have
Billy's pup."

It seemed too good to be true; not even in my wildest imaginings had I
fancied myself getting the pick of the lot.  I hardly waited to thank
Ted before going off to look at my champion.  I had seen and admired him
times out of number, but it seemed as if he must look different now that
he belonged to me.  He was a fine big fellow, well built and strong, and
looked as if he could beat all the rest put together.  His legs were
straight; his neck sturdy; his muzzle dark and shapely; his ears equal
and well carried; and in the sunlight his yellow coat looked quite
bright, with occasional glints of gold in it.  He was indeed a handsome

As I put him back again with the others the odd puppy, who had stood up
and sniffed at me when I came, licked my hand and twiddled his tail with
the friendliest and most independent air, as if he knew me quite well
and was glad to see me, and I patted the poor little chap as he waddled
up.  I had forgotten him in the excitement of getting Billy's pup; but
the sight of him made me think of his funny ways, his pluck and
independence, and of how he had not a friend in the world except Jess
and me; and I felt downright sorry for him.  I picked him up and talked
to him; and when his wizened little face was close to mine, he opened
his mouth as if laughing, and shooting out his red tongue dabbed me
right on the tip of my nose in pure friendliness.  The poor little
fellow looked more ludicrous than ever: he had been feeding again and
was as tight as a drum; his skin was so tight one could not help
thinking that if he walked over a mimosa thorn and got a scratch on the
tummy he would burst like a toy balloon.

I put him back with the other puppies and returned to the tree where Ted
and the rest were sitting.  As I came up there was a shout of laughter,
and--turning round to see what had provoked it--I found "The Rat" at my
heels.  He had followed me and was trotting and stumbling along,
tripping every yard or so, but getting up again with head erect, ears
cocked and his stumpy tail twiddling away just as pleased and proud as
if he thought he had really started in life and was doing what only a
`really and truly' grown-up dog is supposed to do--that is, follow his
master wherever he goes.

All the old chaff and jokes were fired off at me again, and I had no
peace for quite a time.  They all had something to say: "He won't swap
you off!"

"I'll back `The Rat'!"  "He is going to take care of you!"

"He is afraid you'll get lost!" and so on; and they were still chaffing
about it when I grabbed "The Rat" and took him back again.

Billy's failure to take his puppy was so entirely unexpected and so
important that the subject kept cropping up all the evening.  It was
very amusing then to see how each of those who had wanted to get him
succeeded in finding good reasons for thinking that his own puppy was
really better than Billy's.  However they differed in their estimates of
each other's dogs, they all agreed that the best judge in the world
could not be certain of picking out the best dog in a good litter until
the puppies were several months old; and they all gave instances in
which the best looking puppy had turned out the worst dog, and others in
which the one that no one would look at had grown up to be the champion.
Goodness knows how long this would have gone on if Robbie had not
mischievously suggested that "perhaps `The Rat' was going to beat the
whole lot."  There was such a chorus of guffaws at this that no one told
any more stories.

The poor little friendless Rat!  It was unfortunate, but the truth is
that he was uglier than before; and yet I could not help liking him.  I
fell asleep that night thinking of the two puppies--the best and the
worst in the litter.  No sooner had I gone over all the splendid points
in Billy's pup and made up my mind that he was certainly the finest I
had ever seen, than the friendly wizened little face, the half-cocked
ears and head on one side, the cocky little stump of a tail, and the
comical dignified plucky look of the odd puppy would all come back to
me.  The thought of how he had licked my hand and twiddled his tail at
me, and how he dabbed me on the nose, and then the manful way in which
he had struggled after me through the grass, all made my heart go soft
towards him, and I fell asleep not knowing what to do.

When I woke up in the morning, my first thought was of the odd puppy--
how he looked to me as his only friend, and what he would feel like if,
after looking on me as really belonging to him and as the one person
that he was going to take care of all his life, he knew he was to be
left behind or given away to any one who would take him.  It would never
have entered his head that he required some one to look after him; from
the way he had followed me the night before it was clear he was looking
after me; and the other fellows thought the same thing.  His whole
manner had plainly said: "Never mind old man!  Don't you worry: I am

We used to make our first trek at about three o'clock in the morning, so
as to be outspanned by sunrise; and walking along during that morning
trek I recalled all the stories that the others had told of miserable
puppies having grown into wonderful dogs, and of great men who had been
very ordinary children; and at breakfast I took the plunge.

"Ted," I said, bracing myself for the laughter, "if you don't mind, I'll
stick to `The Rat.'"

If I had fired off a gun under their noses they would have been much
less startled.  Robbie made a grab for his plate as it slipped from his

"_Don't_ do that sort of thing!" he protested indignantly.  "My nerves
won't stand it!"

The others stopped eating and drinking, held their beakers of steaming
coffee well out of the way to get a better look at me, and when they saw
it was seriously meant there was a chorus of: "Well, I'm hanged."

I took him in hand at once--for now he was really mine--and brought him
over for his saucer of soaked bread and milk to where we sat at
breakfast.  Beside me there was a rough camp table--a luxury sometimes
indulged in while camping or trekking with empty waggons--on which we
put our tinned-milk, treacle and such things to keep them out of reach
of the ants, grasshoppers, Hottentot-gods, beetles and dust.  I put the
puppy and his saucer in a safe place under the table out of the way of
stray feet, and sank the saucer into the sand so that when he trod in it
he would not spill the food; for puppies are quite stupid as they are
greedy, and seem to think that they can eat faster by getting further
into the dish.  He appeared to be more ravenous than usual, and we were
all amused by the way the little fellow craned his thin neck out further
and further until he tipped up behind and his nose bumping into the
saucer see-sawed him back again.  He finished it all and looked round
briskly at me, licking his lips and twiddling his stumpy tail.

Well, I meant to make a dog of him, so I gave him another lot.  He was
just like a little child--he thought he was very hungry still and could
eat any amount more; but it was not possible.  The lapping became slower
and more laboured, with pauses every now and then to get breath or lick
his lips and look about him, until at last he was fairly beaten: he
could only look at it, blink and lick his chops; and, knowing that he
would keep on trying, I took the saucer away.  He was too full to object
or to run after it; he was too full to move.  He stood where he was,
with his legs well spread and his little body blown out like a balloon,
and finished licking the drops and crumbs off his face without moving a

There was something so extraordinarily funny in the appearance and
attitude of the puppy that we watched to see what he would do next.  He
had been standing very close to the leg of the table, but not quite
touching it, when he finished feeding; and even after he had done
washing his face and cleaning up generally, he stood there stock-still
for several minutes, as though it was altogether too much trouble to
move.  One little bandy hind leg stuck out behind the table-leg, and the
bulge of his little tummy stuck out in front of it; so that when at last
he decided to make a move the very first little lurch brought his hip up
against the table-leg.  In an instant the puppy's appearance changed
completely: the hair on his back and shoulders bristled; his head went
up erect; one ear stood up straight and the other at half cock; and his
stumpy tail quivered with rage.  He evidently thought that one of the
other puppies had come up behind to interfere with him.  He was too
proud to turn round and appear to be nervous: with head erect he glared
hard straight in front of him, and, with all the little breath that he
had left after his big feed, he growled ferociously in comical little
gasps.  He stood like that, not moving an inch, with the front foot
still ready to take that step forward; and then, as nothing more
happened, the hair on his back gradually went flat again; the fierceness
died out of his face; and the growling stopped.

After a minute's pause, he again very slowly and carefully began to step
forward; of course exactly the same thing happened again, except that
this time he shook all over with rage, and the growling was fiercer and
more choky.  One could not imagine anything so small being in so great a
rage.  He took longer to cool down, too, and much longer before he made
the third attempt to start.  But the third time it was all over in a
second.  He seemed to think that this was more than any dog could stand,
and that he must put a stop to it.  The instant his hip touched the leg,
he whipped round with a ferocious snarl--his little white teeth bared
and gleaming--and bumped his nose against the table-leg.

I cannot say whether it was because of the shout of laughter from us, or
because he really understood what had happened, that he looked so
foolish, but he just gave one crestfallen look at me and with a feeble
wag of his tail waddled off as fast as he could.

Then Ted nodded over at me, and said: "I believe you have got the
champion after all!"  And I was too proud to speak.



After that day no one spoke of "The Rat" or "The Odd Puppy," or used any
of the numberless nicknames that they had given him, such as "The
Specimen," "The Object," "Number 6," "Bully-Beef," (because he got his
head stuck in a half-pound tin one day), "The Scrap"; and even "The Duke
of Wellington" ceased to be a gibe.  They still laughed at his
ridiculous dignity; and they loved to tease him to see him stiffen with
rage and hear his choky little growls; but they liked his independence
and admired his tremendous pluck.  So they respected his name when he
got one.

And his name was "Jock."

No one bothered about the other puppies' names: they were known as
"Billy's pup," "Jimmy's pup," "Old Joe's Darling," "Yellow Jack," and
"Bandy-Legged Sue"; but they seemed to think that this little chap had
earned his name, fighting his way without anybody's help and with
everything against him; so they gave up all the nicknames and spoke of
him as "Jock."

Jock got such a good advertisement by his fight with the table-leg that
every one took notice of him now and remarked about what he did; and as
he was only a very young puppy, they teased him, fed him, petted him,
and did their best to spoil him.  He was so young that it did not seem
to matter, but I think if he had not been a really good dog at heart he
would have been quite spoilt.

He soon began to grow and fill out; and it was then that he taught the
other puppies to leave him alone.  If they had not interfered with him
he might perhaps have left them alone, as it was not his nature to
interfere with others; but the trouble was they had bullied him so much
while he was weak and helpless that he got used to the idea of fighting
for everything.  It is probably the best thing that could have happened
to Jock that as a puppy he was small and weak, but full of pluck; it
compelled him to learn how to fight; it made him clever, cool, and
careful, for he could not afford to make mistakes.  When he fought he
meant business; he went for a good spot, bit hard, and hung on for all
he was worth; then, as the enemy began to slacken, he would start
vigorously worrying and shaking.  I often saw him shake himself off his
feet, because the thing he was fighting was too heavy for him.

The day Jock fought the two big puppies--one after the other--for his
bone, and beat them off, was the day of his independence; we all saw the
tussle, and cheered the little chap.  And then for one whole day he had
peace; but it was like the pause at low water before the tide begins to
flow the other way.  He was so used to being interfered with that I
suppose he did not immediately understand they would never tackle him

It took a whole day for him to realise this; but as soon as he did
understand it he seemed to make up his mind that now his turn had come,
and he went for the first puppy he saw with a bone.  He walked up slowly
and carefully, and began to make a circle round him.  When he got about
half-way round the puppy took up the bone and trotted off; but Jock
headed him off at once, and again began to walk towards him very slowly
and stiffly.  The other puppy stood quite still for a moment, and then
Jock's fierce determined look was too much for him: he dropped the bone
and bolted.

There was mighty little but smell on those bones, for we gave the
puppies very little meat, so when Jock had taken what he could off this
one, he started on another hunt.  A few yards away Billy's pup was
having a glorious time, struggling with a big bone and growling all the
while as if he wanted to let the world know that it was as much as any
one's life was worth to come near him.  None of us thought Jock would
tackle him, as Billy's pup was still a long way the biggest and
strongest of the puppies, and always ready to bully the others.

Jock was about three or four yards away when he caught sight of Billy's
pup, and for about a minute he stood still and quietly watched.  At
first he seemed surprised, and then interested, and then gradually he
stiffened up all over in that funny way of his; and when the hair on his
shoulders was all on end and his ears and tail were properly up, he
moved forward very deliberately.  In this fashion he made a circle round
Billy's pup, keeping about two feet away from him, walking infinitely
slowly and glaring steadily at the enemy out of the corners of his eyes;
and while he was doing this, the other fellow was tearing away at his
bone, growling furiously and glaring sideways at Jock.  When the circle
was finished they stood once more face to face; and then after a short
pause Jock began to move in closer, but more slowly even than before.

Billy's pup did not like this: it was beginning to look serious.  He
could not keep on eating and at the same time watch Jock; moreover,
there was such a very unpleasant wicked look about Jock, and he moved so
steadily and silently forward, that any one would feel a bit creepy and
nervous; so he put his paw on the bone and let out a string of snarly
barks, with his ears flat on his neck and his tail rather low down.  But
Jock still came on--a little more carefully and slowly perhaps, but just
as steadily as ever.  When about a foot off the enemy's nose he changed
his direction slightly, as if to walk past, and Billy's pup turned his
head to watch him, keeping his nose pointed towards Jock's, but when
they got side by side he again looked straight in front of him.

Perhaps he did this to make sure the bone was still there, or perhaps to
show his contempt when he thought Jock was going off.  Whatever the
reason was, it was a mistake; for, as he turned his head away, Jock flew
at him, got a good mouthful of ear, and in no time they were rolling and
struggling in the dust--Jock's little grunts barely-audible in the noise
made by the other one.  Billy's pup was big and strong, and he was not a
coward; but Jock was worrying his ear vigorously, and he could not find
anything to bite in return.  In less than a minute he began to howl, and
was making frantic efforts to get away.  Then Jock let go the ear and
tackled the bone.

After that he had no more puppy fights.  As soon as any one of the
others saw Jock begin to walk slowly and carefully towards him he seemed
to suddenly get tired of his bone, and moved off.

Most dogs--like most people--when their hearts fail them will try to
hide the truth from one another and make some sort of effort or pretence
to keep their dignity or self-respect or the good opinion of others.
You may see it all any day in the street, when dogs meet and stop to
`size' each other up.  As a rule the perfectly shameless cowards are
found in the two extreme classes--the outcasts, whose spirits are broken
by all the world being against them; and the pampered darlings, who have
never had to do anything for themselves.  Many dogs who are clearly
anxious to get out of fighting will make a pretence of bravery at
the time, or at least cover up their cowardice, with a
`wait-till-I-catch-you-next-time' air, as soon as they are at a safe
distance.  Day after day at the outspans the puppies went through every
stage of the business, to our constant amusement and to my unconcealed
pride; for Jock was thenceforth cock of the walk.  If they saw him some
distance off moving towards them or even staring hard and with his ears
and tail up, the retreat would be made with a gloomy and dignified air,
sometimes even with growls just loud enough to please themselves without
provoking him; if he was fairly close up when spotted they wasted no
time in putting on airs, but trotted off promptly; but sometimes they
would be too busy to notice anything until a growl or a rustle in the
grass close behind gave warning; and it was always followed by a jump
and a shameless scuttle, very often accompanied by a strangled sort of
yowling yelp, just as if he had already got them by the ear or throat.

Some of them became so nervous that we could not resist playing
practical jokes on them--making sudden strange noises, imitating Jock's
growls, tossing bits of bark at them or touching them from behind with a
stick while they were completely occupied with their bones--for the fun
of seeing the stampede and hearing the sudden howls of surprise and

One by one the other puppies were taken away by their new masters, and
before Jock was three months old he and Jess were the only dogs with the
waggons.  Then he went to school, and like all schoolboys learnt some
things very quickly--the things that he liked; and some things he learnt
very slowly, and hated them just as a boy hates extra work in play-time.
When I poked about with a stick in the banks of dongas to turn out mice
and field-rats for him, or when I hid a partridge or a hare and made him
find it, he was as happy as could be; but when I made him lie down and
watch my gun or coat while I pretended to go off and leave him, he did
not like it; and as for his lessons in manners! well, he simply hated

There are some things which a dog in that sort of life simply must learn
or you cannot keep him; and the first of these is, not to steal.  Every
puppy will help himself until he is taught not to; and your dog lives
with you and can get at everything.  At the outspans the grub-box is put
on the ground, open for each man to help himself; if you make a stew, or
roast the leg of a buck, the big three-legged pot is put down handy and
left there; if you are lucky enough to have some tinned butter or
condensed milk, the tins are opened and stood on the ground; and if you
have a dog thief in the camp, nothing is safe.

There was a dog with us once--a year or two later--who was the worst
thief I ever knew.  He was a one-eyed pointer with feet like a duck's,
and his name was Snarleyow.  He looked the most foolish and most
innocent dog in the world, and was so timid that if you stumbled as you
passed him he would instantly start howling and run for the horizon.
The first bad experience I had of Snarley was on one of the little
hunting trips which we sometimes made in those days, away from the
waggons.  We travelled light on those occasions, and, except for some
tea and a very little flour and salt, took no food; we lived on what we
shot and of course kept `hunter's pot.'

`Hunter's pot' is a perpetual stew; you make one stew, and keep it going
as long as necessary, maintaining a full pot by adding to it as fast as
you take any out; scraps of everything go in; any kind of meat--buck,
bird, pig, hare--and if you have such luxuries as onions or potatoes, so
much the better; then, to make the soup strong, the big bones are
added--the old ones being fished out every day and replaced by a fresh
lot.  When allowed to cool it sets like brawn, and a hungry hunter wants
nothing better.

We had had a good feed the first night of this trip and had then filled
the pot up leaving it to simmer as long as the fire lasted, expecting to
have cold pie set in jelly--but without the pie-crust--for early
breakfast next morning before going off for the day; but, to our
amazement, in the morning the pot was empty.  There were some strange
kaffirs--camp followers--hanging on to our trail for what they could
pick up, and we suspected them.  There was a great row, but the boys
denied having touched the pot, and we could prove nothing.

That night we made the fire close to our sleeping-place and moved the
kaffirs further away, but next morning the pot was again empty--cleaned
and polished as if it had been washed out.  While we, speechless with
astonishment and anger, were wondering who the thief was and what we
should do with him, one of the hunting boys came up and pointed to the
prints of a dog's feet in the soft white ashes of the dead fire.  There
was only one word: "Snarleyow."  The thief was lying fast asleep
comfortably curled up on his master's clothes.  There could be no
mistake about those big splayed footprints, and in about two minutes
Snarleyow was getting a first-class hammering, with his head tied inside
the three-legged pot for a lesson.

After that he was kept tied up at night; but Snarleyow was past curing.
We had practically nothing to eat but what we shot, and nothing to drink
but bush tea--that is, tea made from a certain wild shrub with a very
strong scent; it is not nice, but you drink it when you cannot get
anything else.  We could not afford luxuries then, but two days before
Ted's birthday he sent a runner off to Komati Drift and bought a small
tin of ground coffee and a tin of condensed milk for his birthday treat.
It was to be a real feast that day, so he cut the top off the tin
instead of punching two holes and blowing the milk out, as we usually
did in order to economise and keep out the dust and insects.  What we
could not use in the coffee that day we were going to spread on our
`dough-boys' instead of butter and jam.  It was to be a real feast!

The five of us sat down in a circle and began on our hunter's pot,
saving the good things for the last.  While we were still busy on the
stew, there came a pathetic heartbreaking yowl from Snarleyow, and we
looked round just in time to see him, his tail tucked between his legs
and his head high in the air, bolting off into the bush as hard as he
could lay legs to the ground, with the milk tin stuck firmly on to his
nose.  The greedy thief in trying to get the last scrap out had dug his
nose and top jaw too far in, and the jagged edges of the tin had gripped
him; and the last we saw of our birthday treat was the tin flashing in
the sunlight on Snarley's nose as he tore away howling into the bush.
Snarleyow came to a bad end: his master shot him as he was running off
with a ham.  He was a full-grown dog when he came to our camp, and too
old to learn principles and good manners.

Dogs are like people: what they learn when they are young, whether of
good or of evil, is not readily forgotten.  I began early with Jock,
and--remembering what Rocky had said--tried to help him.  It is little
use punishing a dog for stealing if you take no trouble about feeding
him.  That is very rough on the dog; he has to find out slowly and by
himself what he may take, and what he may not.  Sometimes he leaves what
he was meant to take, and goes hungry; and sometimes takes what was not
intended for him, and gets a thrashing.  That is not fair.  You cannot
expect to have a good dog, and one that will understand you, if you
treat him in that way.  Some men teach their dogs not to take food from
any one but themselves.  One day when we were talking about training
dogs, Ted told one of the others to open Jess's mouth and put a piece of
meat in it, he undertaking not to say a word and not even to look at
her.  The meat was put in her mouth and her jaws were shut tight on it;
but the instant she was free she dropped it, walked round to the other
side of Ted and sat close up to him.  He waited for a minute or so and,
without so much as a glance at her, said quietly "All right."  She was
back again in a second and with one hungry bite bolted the lump of meat.

I taught Jock not to touch food in camp until he was told to `take it.'
The lesson began when he got his saucer of porridge in the morning; and
he must have thought it cruel to have that put in front of him, and then
to be held back or tapped with a finger on the nose each time he tried
to dive into it.  At first he struggled and fought to get at it; then he
tried to back away and dodge round the other side; then he became dazed,
and, thinking it was not for him at all, wanted to walk off and have
nothing more to do with it.  In a few days, however, I got him to lie
still and take it only when I patted him and pushed him towards it; and
in a very little time he got on so well that I could put his food down
without saying anything and let him wait for permission.  He would lie
down with his head on his paws and his nose right up against the saucer,
so as to lose no time when the order came; but he would not touch it
until he heard `Take it.'  He never moved his head, but his little
browny dark eyes, full of childlike eagerness, used to be turned up
sideways and fixed on mine.  I believe he watched my lips; he was so
quick to obey the order when it came.

When he grew up and had learned his lessons there was no need for these
exercises.  He got to understand me so well that if I nodded or moved my
hand in a way that meant `all right,' he would go ahead: by that time
too he was dignified and patient; and it was only in his puppyhood that
he used to crouch up close to his food and tremble with impatience and

There was one lesson that he hated most of all.  I used to balance a
piece of meat on his nose and make him keep it there until the word to
take it came.

Time after time he would close his eyes as if the sight of the meat was
more than he could bear, and his mouth would water so from the savoury
smell that long streels of dribble would hang down on either side.

It seems unnecessary and even cruel to tantalise a dog in that way; but
it was not: it was education; and it was true kindness.  It taught him
to understand his master, and to be obedient, patient, and observant; it
taught him not to steal; it saved him from much sickness, and perhaps
death, by teaching him not to feed on anything he could find; it taught
him manners and made it possible for him to live with his master and be
treated like a friend.

Good feeding, good care, and plenty of exercise soon began to make a
great change in Jock.  He ceased to look like a beetle--grew bigger
everywhere, not only in one part as he had done at first; his neck grew
thick and strong, and his legs straightened up and filled out with
muscle.  The others, seeing him every day, were slow to notice these
things, but my sand had been changed into gold long ago, and they always
said I could not see anything wrong in Jock.

There was one other change which came more slowly and seemed to me much
more wonderful.  After his morning feed, if there was nothing to do, he
used to go to sleep in some shady place, and I remember well one day
watching him as he lay.  His bit of shade had moved away and left him in
the bright sunshine; and as he breathed and his ribs rose and fell, the
tips of the hairs on his side and back caught the sunlight and shone
like polished gold, and the wavy dark lines seemed more distinct and
darker, but still very soft.  In fact, I was astonished to see that in a
certain light Jock looked quite handsome.  That was the first time I
noticed the change in colour; and it made me remember two things.  The
first was what the other fellows had said the day Billy gave up his pup,
"You can't tell how a puppy will turn out: even his colour changes;" and
the second was a remark made by an old hunter who had offered to buy
Jock--the real meaning of which I did not understand at the time.

"The best dog I ever owned was a golden brindle," said the old man
thoughtfully, after I had laughed at the idea of selling my dog.  I had
got so used to thinking that he was only a faded wishy-washy edition of
Jess that the idea of his colour changing did not occur to me then, and
I never suspected that the old man could see how he would turn out; but
the touch of sunlight opened my eyes that day, and after that whenever I
looked at Jock the words "golden brindle" came back to my mind, and I
pictured him as he was going to be--and as he really did grow up--having
a coat like burnished gold with soft, dark, wavy brindles in it and that
snow-white V on his chest.

Jock had many things to learn besides the lessons he got from me--the
lessons of experience which nobody could teach him.  When he was six
months old--just old enough, if he had lived in a town, to chase a cat
and make a noise--he knew many things that respectable puppies of twice
his age who stay at home never get a chance of learning.

On trek there were always new places to see, new roads to travel, and
new things to examine, tackle or avoid.  He learnt something fresh
almost every day: he learnt, for instance, that, although it was shady
and cool under the waggon, it was not good enough to lie in the wheel
track, not even for the pleasure of feeling the cool iron tyre against
your back or head as you slept; and he knew that, because one day he had
done it and the wheel had gone over his foot; and it might just as
easily have been his back or head.  Fortunately the sand was soft and
his foot was not crushed; but he was very lame for some days, and had to
travel on the waggon.

He learned a good deal from Jess: among other things, that it was not
necessary to poke his nose up against a snake in order to find out what
it was.  He knew that Jess would fight anything; and when one day he saw
her back hair go up and watched her sheer off the footpath wide into the
grass, he did the same; and then when we had shot the snake, both he and
Jess came up very very cautiously and sniffed at it, with every hair on
their bodies standing up.

He found out for himself that it was not a good idea to turn a scorpion
over with his paw.  The vicious little tail with a thorn in it whipped
over the scorpion's back, and Jock had such a foot that he must have
thought a scorpion worse than two waggons.  He was a very sick dog for
some days; but after that, whenever he saw a thing that he did not
understand, he would watch it very carefully from a little way off and
notice what it did and what it looked like, before trying experiments.

So, little by little, Jock got to understand plenty of things that no
town dog would ever know, and he got to know--just as some people do--by
what we call instinct, whether a thing was dangerous or safe, even
though he had never seen anything like it before.  That is how he knew
that wolves or lions were about--and that they were dangerous--when he
heard or scented them; although he had never seen, scented or heard one
before to know what sort of animal it might be.  You may well wonder how
he could tell whether the scent or the cry belonged to a wolf which he
must avoid, or to a buck which he might hunt, when he had never seen
either a wolf or a buck at the time; but he did know; and he also knew
that no dog could safely go outside the ring of the camp fires when wolf
or lion was about.  I have known many town-bred dogs that could scent
them just as well as Jess or Jock could, but having no instinct of
danger they went out to see what it was, and of course they never came

I used to take Jock with me everywhere so that he could learn everything
that a hunting dog ought to know, and above all things to learn that he
was my dog, and to understand all that I wanted to tell him.  So while
he was still a puppy, whenever he stopped to sniff at something new or
to look at something strange, I would show him what it was; but if he
stayed behind to explore while I moved on, or if he fell asleep and did
not hear me get up from where I had sat down to rest, or went off the
track on his own account, I used to hide away from him on top of a rock
or up a tree and let him hunt about until he found me.

At first he used to be quite excited when he missed me, but after a
little time he got to know what to do and would sniff along the ground
and canter away after me--always finding me quite easily.  Even if I
climbed a tree to hide from him he would follow my track to the foot of
the tree, sniff up the trunk as far as he could reach standing up
against it, and then peer up into the branches.  If he could not see me
from one place, he would try another--always with his head tilted a bit
on one side.  He never barked at these times; but as soon as he saw me,
his ears would drop, his mouth open wide with the red tongue lolling
out, and the stump of a tail would twiggle away to show how pleased he
was.  Sometimes he would give a few little whimpery grunts: he hardly
ever barked; when he did I knew there was something worth looking at.

Jock was not a quarrelsome dog, and he was quick to learn and very
obedient, but in one connection I had great difficulty with him for
quite a little time.  He had a sort of private war with the fowls; and
it was due to the same cause as his war with the other puppies: they
interfered with him.  Now, every one knows what a fowl is like: it is
impudent, inquisitive, selfish, always looking for something to eat, and
has no principles.

A friend of mine once told me a story about a dog of his and the trouble
he had with fowls.  Several of us had been discussing the characters of
dogs, and the different emotions they feel and manage to express, and
the kind of things they seem to think about.  Every one knows that a dog
can feel angry, frightened, pleased, and disappointed.  Any one who
knows dogs will tell you that they can also feel anxious, hopeful,
nervous, inquisitive, surprised, ashamed, interested, sad, loving,
jealous, and contented--just like human beings.

We had told many stories illustrating this, when my friend asked the
question: "Have dogs a sense of humour?"  Now I know that Jock looked
very foolish the day he fought the table-leg--and a silly old hen made
him look just as foolish another day--but that is not quite what my
friend meant.  On both occasions Jock clearly felt that he had made
himself look ridiculous; but he was very far from looking amused.  The
question was: Is a dog capable of sufficient thinking to appreciate a
simple joke, and is it possible for a dog to feel amused.  If Jess had
seen Jock bursting to fight the table-leg would she have seen the joke?
Well, I certainly did not think so; but he said he was quite certain
some dogs have a sense of humour; and he had had proof of it.

He told the story very gravely, but I really do not even now know
whether he--Well, here it is: He had once owned a savage old watch-dog,
whose box stood in the back-yard where he was kept chained up all day;
he used to be fed once a day--in the mornings--and the great plague of
his life was the fowls.  They ran loose in the yard and picked up food
all day, besides getting a really good feed of grain morning and
evening; possibly the knowledge of this made the old dog particularly
angry when they would come round by ones or twos or dozens trying to
steal part of his one meal.  Anyhow, he hated them, and whenever he got
a chance killed them.  The old fowls learned to keep out of his way and
never ventured within his reach unless they were quite sure that he was
asleep or lying in his kennel where he could not see them; but there
were always new fowls coming, or young ones growing up; and so the war
went on.

One Sunday morning my friend was enjoying a smoke on his back stoep when
feeding time came round.  The cook took the old dog's food to him in a
high three-legged pot, and my friend, seeing the fowls begin to gather
round and wishing to let the old dog have his meal in peace, told the
cook to give the fowls a good feed in another part of the yard to draw
them off.  So the old fellow polished off his food and licked the pot
clean, leaving not a drop or a speck behind.

But fowls are very greedy; they were soon back again wandering about,
with their active-looking eyes searching everything.  The old dog,
feeling pretty satisfied with life, picked out a sandy spot in the
sunshine, threw himself down full stretch on his side, and promptly went
to sleep--at peace with all the world.  Immediately he did this, out
stepped a long-legged athletic-looking young cockerel and began to
advance against the enemy.  As he got nearer he slowed down, and looked
first with one eye and then with the other so as to make sure that all
was safe, and several times he paused with one foot poised high before
deciding to take the next step.  My friend was greatly amused to see all
the trouble that the fowl was taking to get up to the empty pot, and,
for the fun of giving the conceited young cockerel a fright, threw a
pebble at him.  He was so nervous that when the pebble dropped near him,
he gave one great bound and tore off flapping and screaming down the
yard as if he thought the old dog was after him.  The old fellow himself
was startled out of his sleep, and raised his head to see what the row
was about; but, as nothing more happened, he lay down again, and the
cockerel, finding also that it was a false alarm, turned back not a bit
ashamed for another try.

The cockerel had not seen the old dog lift his head; my friend had, and
when he looked again he saw that, although the underneath eye--half
buried in the sand--was shut, the top eye was open and was steadily
watching the cockerel as he came nearer and nearer to the pot.  My
friend sat dead still, expecting a rush and another fluttering scramble.
At last the cockerel took the final step, craned his neck to its utmost
and peered down into the empty pot.  The old dog gave two gentle pats
with his tail in the sand, and closing his eye went to sleep again.

Jock had the same sort of trouble.  The fowls tried to steal his food;
and he would not stand it.  His way of dealing with them was not good
for their health: before I could teach him not to kill, and before the
fowls would learn not to steal, he had finished half a dozen of them one
after another with just one bite and a shake.  He would growl very low
as they came up and, without lifting his head from the plate, watch them
with his little eyes turning from soft brown to shiny black; and when
they came too near and tried to snatch just one mouthful--well, one
jump, one shake, and it was all over.

In the end he learned to tumble them over and scare their wits out
without hurting them; and they learned to give him a very wide berth.

I used always to keep some fowls with the waggons, partly to have fresh
meat if we ran out of game, but mainly to have fresh eggs, which were a
very great treat; and as a rule it was only when a hen turned obstinate
and would not lay that we ate her.  I used to have one old rooster,
whose name was Pezulu, and six or eight hens.  The hens changed from
time to time--as we ate them--but Pezulu remained.

The fowl-coop was carried on top of everything else, and it was always
left open so that the fowls could go in and out as they liked.  In the
very beginning of all, of course, the fowls were shut in and fed in the
coop for a day or two to teach them where their home was; but it is
surprising how quickly a fowl will learn and how it observes things.
For instance, the moving of the coop from one waggon to another is not a
thing one would expect the fowls to notice, all the waggons being so
much alike and having no regular order at the outspans; but they did
notice it, and at once.  They would first get on to the waggon on which
the coop had been, and look about in a puzzled lost kind of way; then
walk all over the load apparently searching for it, with heads cocked
this way and that, as if a great big coop was a thing that might have
been mislaid somewhere; then one after another would jerk out short
cackles of protest, indignation and astonishment, and generally make no
end of a fuss.  It was only when old Pezulu led the way and perched on
the coop itself and crowed and called to them that they would get up on
to the other waggon.

Pezulu got his name by accident--in fact, by a misunderstanding.  It is
a Zulu word meaning `up' or `on top,' and when the fowls first joined
the waggons and were allowed to wander about at the outspan places, the
boys would drive them up when it was time to trek again by cracking
their big whips and shouting "Pezulu."  In a few days no driving or
whip-cracking was necessary; one of the boys would shout "Pezulu" three
or four times, and they would all come in and one by one fly and
scramble up to the coop.  One day, after we had got a new lot of hens, a
stranger happened to witness the performance.  Old Pezulu was the only
one who knew what was meant, and being a terribly fussy nervous old
gentleman, came tearing out of the bush making a lot of noise, and
scrambled hastily on to the waggon.  The stranger, hearing the boys call
"Pezulu" and seeing him hurry up so promptly, remarked: "How well he
knows his name!"  So we called him Pezulu after that.

Whenever we got new fowls Pezulu became as distracted as a nervous man
with a large family trying to find seats in an excursion train.  As soon
as he saw the oxen being brought up, and before any one had called for
the fowls, he would begin fussing and fuming--trying all sorts of dodges
to get the hens up to the waggons.  He would crow and cluck-cluck or
kip-kip; he would go a few yards towards the waggons and scratch in the
ground, pretending to have found something good, and invite them to come
and share it; he would get on the disselboom and crow and flap his wings
loudly; and finally he would mount on top of the coop and make all sorts
of signals to the hens, who took not the least notice of him.  As the
inspanning went on he would get more and more excited; down he would
come again--not flying off, but hopping from ledge to ledge to show them
the easy way; and once more on the ground he would scrape and pick and
cluck to attract them, and the whole game would be played over again and
again.  So even with new fowls we had very little trouble, as old Pezulu
did most of the teaching.

But sometimes Pezulu himself was caught napping--to the high delight of
the boys.  He was so nervous and so fussy that they thought it great fun
to play tricks on him and pretend to go off and leave him behind.  It
was not easy to do this because, as I say, he did not wait to be called,
but got ready the minute he saw the oxen coming up.  He was like those
fussy people who drive every one else crazy and waste a lot of time by
always being half an hour early, and then annoy you by boasting that
they have never missed a train in their lives.

But there was one way in which Pezulu used to get caught.  Just as he
knew that inspanning meant starting, so, too, he knew that outspanning
meant stopping; and whenever the waggons stopped--even for a few
minutes--out would pop his head, just like the fussy red-faced father of
the big family looking out to see if it was their station or an accident
on the line.  Right and left he would look, giving excited inquisitive
clucks from time to time, and if they did not start in another minute or
two, he would get right out and walk anxiously to the edge of the load
and have another good look around--as the nervous old gentleman gets
half out, and then right out, to look for the guard, but will not let go
the handle of the door for fear of being left.  Unless he saw the boys
outspanning he would not get off, and if one of the hens ventured out he
would rush back at her in a great state and try to bustle her back into
the coop.  But often it happens while trekking that something goes wrong
with the gear--a yokeskey or a nek-strop breaks, or an ox will not pull
kindly or pulls too hard where he is, and you want to change his place;
and in that way it comes about that sometimes you have to outspan one or
two or even more oxen in the middle of a trek.

That is how Pezulu used to get caught: the minute he saw outspanning
begin, he would nip off with all the hens following him and wander about
looking for food, chasing locusts or grasshoppers, and making darts at
beetles and all sorts of dainties--very much interested in his job and
wandering further from the waggons at every step.  The boys would watch
him, and as soon as they were fixed up again, would start off without a
word of warning to Pezulu.  Then there was a scene.  At the first sound
of the waggon-wheels moving he would look up from where he was or walk
briskly into the open or get on to an ant-heap to see what was up, and
when to his horror he saw the waggon actually going without him, he
simply screamed open-mouthed and tore along with wings outstretched--the
old gentleman shouting "Stop the train, stop the train," with his family
straggling along behind him.  It never took him long to catch up and
scramble on, but even then he was not a bit less excited: he was
perfectly hysterical, and his big red comb seemed to get quite purple as
if he might be going to have apoplexy, and he twitched and jerked about
so that it flapped first over one eye and then over the other.  This was
the boys' practical joke which they played on him whenever they could.

That was old Pezulu--Pezulu the First.  He was thick in the body, all
chest and tail, short in the legs, and had enormous spurs; and his big
comb made him; look so red in the face that one could not help thinking
he was too fond of his dinner.  In some old Christmas number we came
across a coloured caricature of a militia colonel in full uniform, and
for quite a long time it remained tacked on to the coop with "Pezulu"
written on it.

Pezulu the Great--who was Pezulu the Second--was not like that: he was a
game cock, all muscle and no frills, with a very resolute manner and a
real love of his profession; he was a bit like Jock in some things; and
that is why I fancy perhaps Jock and he were friends in a kind of way.
But Jock could not get on with the others: they were constantly
changing; new ones who had to be taught manners were always coming; so
he just lumped them together, and hated fowls.  He taught them manners,
but they taught him something too--at any rate, one of them did; and one
of the biggest surprises and best lessons Jock ever had was given him by
a hen while he was still a growing-up puppy.

He was beginning to fancy that he knew a good deal, and like most young
dogs was very inquisitive and wanted to know everything and at once.  At
that time he was very keen on hunting mice, rats and bush squirrels, and
had even fought and killed a meerkat after the plucky little rikkitikki
had bitten him rather badly through the lip; and he was still much
inclined to poke his nose in or rush on to things instead of sniffing
round about first.

However, he learned to be careful, and an old hen helped to teach him.
The hens usually laid their eggs in the coop because it was their home,
but sometimes they would make nests in the bush at the outspan places.
One of the hens had done this, and the bush she had chosen was very low
and dense.  No one saw the hen make the nest and no one saw her sitting
on it, for the sunshine was so bright everywhere else, and the shade of
the bush so dark that it was impossible to see anything there; but while
we were at breakfast Jock, who was bustling about everywhere as a puppy
will, must have scented the hen or have seen this brown thing in the
dark shady hole.

The hen was sitting with her head sunk right down into her chest, so
that he could not see any head, eyes or beak--just a sort of brown lump.
Suddenly we saw Jock stand stock-still, cock up one ear, put his head
down and his nose out, hump up his shoulders a bit and begin to walk
very slowly forward in a crouching attitude.  He lifted his feet so
slowly and so softly that you could count five between each step.  We
were all greatly amused and thought he was pointing a mouse or a locust,
and we watched him.

He crept up like a boy showing off until he was only six inches from the
object, giving occasional cautious glances back at us to attract
attention.  Just as he got to the hole the hen let out a vicious peck on
the top of his nose and at the same time flapped over his head,
screaming and cackling for dear life.  It was all so sudden and so
surprising that she was gone before he could think of making a grab at
her; and when he heard our shouts of laughter he looked as foolish as if
he understood all about it.



Jock's first experience in hunting was on the Crocodile River not far
from the spot where afterwards we had the great fight with The Old
Crocodile.  In the summer when the heavy rains flood the country the
river runs `bank high,' hiding everything--reeds, rocks, islands, and
stunted trees--in some places silent and oily like a huge gorged snake,
in others foaming and turbulent as an angry monster.  In the rainless
winter when the water is low and clear the scene is not so grand, but is
quiet, peaceful, and much more beautiful.  There is an infinite variety
in it then--the river sometimes winding along in one deep channel, but
more often forking out into two or three streams in the broad bed.  The
loops and lacings of the divided water carve out islands and spaces of
all shapes and sizes, banks of clean white sand or of firm damp mud
swirled up by the floods, on which tall green reeds with yellow
tasselled tops shoot up like crops of Kaffir corn.  Looked down upon
from the flood banks the silver streaks of water gleam brightly in the
sun, and the graceful reeds, bowing and swaying slowly with the gentlest
breeze and alternately showing their leaf-sheathed stems and crested
tops, give the appearance of an ever-changing sea of green and gold.
Here and there a big rock, black and polished, stands boldly out, and
the sea of reeds laps round it like the waters of a lake on a bright
still day.  When there is no breeze the rustle of the reeds is hushed,
and the only constant sound is the ever-varying voice of the water,
lapping, gurgling, chattering, murmuring, as it works its way along the
rocky channels; sometimes near and loud, sometimes faint and distant;
and sometimes, over long sandy reaches, there is no sound at all.

Get up on some vantage point upon the high bank and look down there one
day in the winter of the tropics as the heat and hush of noon approach,
and it will seem indeed a scene of peace and beauty--a place to rest and
dream, where there is neither stir nor sound.  Then, as you sit silently
watching and thinking, where all the world is so infinitely still, you
will notice that one reed down among all those countless thousands is
moving.  It bows slowly and gracefully a certain distance, and then with
a quivering shuddering motion straightens itself still more slowly and
with evident difficulty, until at last it stands upright again like the
rest but still all a-quiver while they do not move a leaf.  Just as you
are beginning to wonder what the reason is, the reed bows slowly again,
and again struggles back; and so it goes on as regularly as the swing of
a pendulum.  Then you know that, down at the roots where you cannot see
it, the water is flowing silently, and that something attached to this
reed is dragging in the stream and pulling it over, and swinging back to
do it again each time the reed lifts it free--a perpetual seesaw.

You are glad to find the reason, because it looked a little uncanny; but
the behaviour of that one reed has stopped your dreaming and made you
look about more carefully.  Then you find that, although the reeds
appear as still as the rocks, there is hardly a spot where, if you watch
for a few minutes, you will not see something moving.  A tiny
field-mouse climbing one reed will sway it over; a river rat gnawing at
the roots will make it shiver and rustle; little birds hopping from one
to another will puzzle you; and a lagavaan turning in his sunbath will
make half a dozen sway outwards.

All feeling that it is a home of peace, a place to rest and dream,
leaves you; you are wondering what goes on down below the green and gold
where you can see nothing; and when your eye catches a bigger, slower,
continuous movement in another place, and for twenty yards from the bank
to the stream you see the tops of the reeds silently and gently parting
and closing again as something down below works its way along without
the faintest sound, the place seems too quiet, too uncanny and
mysterious, too silent, stealthy and treacherous for you to sit still in
comfort: you must get up and do something.

There is always good shooting along the rivers in a country where water
is scarce.  Partridges, bush-pheasants and stembuck were plentiful along
the banks and among the thorns, but the reeds themselves were the home
of thousands of guinea-fowl, and you could also count on duiker and
rietbuck as almost a certainty there.  If this were all, it would be
like shooting in a well-stocked cover, but it is not only man that is on
the watch for game at the drinking-places.  The beasts of prey--lions,
tigers, hyenas, wild dogs and jackals, and lastly pythons and
crocodiles--know that the game must come to water, and they lie in wait
near the tracks or the drinking-places.  That is what makes the mystery
and charm of the reeds; you never know what you will put up.  The lions
and tigers had deserted the country near the main drifts and followed
the big game into more peaceful parts; but the reeds were still the
favourite shelter and resting-place of the crocodiles; and there were
any number of them left.

There is nothing that one comes across in hunting more horrible and
loathsome than the crocodile: nothing that rouses the feeling of horror
and hatred as it does: nothing that so surely and quickly gives the
sensation of `creeps in the back' as the noiseless apparition of one in
the water just where you least expected anything, or the discovery of
one silently and intently watching you with its head resting flat on a
sand spit--the thing you had seen half a dozen times before and mistaken
for a small rock.  Many things are hunted in the Bushveld; but only the
crocodile is hated.  There is always the feeling of horror that this
hideous, cowardly, cruel thing--the enemy of man and beast alike--with
its look of a cunning smile in the greeny glassy eyes and great wide
mouth, will mercilessly drag you down--down--down to the bottom of some
deep still pool, and hold you there till you drown.  Utterly helpless
yourself to escape or fight, you cannot even call, and if you could, no
one could help you there.  It is all done in silence: a few bubbles come
up where a man went down; and that is the end of it.

We all knew about the crocodiles and were prepared for them, but the
sport was good, and when you are fresh at the game and get interested in
a hunt it is not very easy to remember all the things you have been
warned about and the precautions you were told to take.  It was on the
first day at the river that one of our party, who was not a very old
hand at hunting, came in wet and muddy and told us how a crocodile had
scared the wits out of him.  He had gone out after guinea-fowl, he said,
but as he had no dog to send in and flush them, the birds simply played
with him: they would not rise but kept running in the reeds a little way
in front of him, just out of sight.  He could hear them quite
distinctly, and thinking to steal a march on them took off his boots and
got on to the rocks.  Stepping bare-footed from rock to rock where the
reeds were thin, he made no noise at all and got so close up that he
could hear the little whispered chink-chink-chink that they give when
near danger.  The only chance of getting a shot at them was to mount one
of the big rocks from which he could see down into the reeds; and he
worked his way along a mud-bank towards one.  A couple more steps from
the mud-bank on to a low black rock would take him to the big one.
Without taking his eyes off the reeds where the guinea-fowl were he
stepped cautiously on to the low black rock, and in an instant was swept
off his feet, tossed and tumbled over and over, into the mud and reeds,
and there was a noise of furious rushing and crashing as if a troop of
elephants were stampeding through the reeds.  He had stepped on the back
of a sleeping crocodile; no doubt it was every bit as frightened as he
was.  There was much laughter over this and the breathless earnestness
with which he told the story; but there was also a good deal of chaff,
for it seems to be generally accepted that you are not bound to believe
all hunting stories; and Jim and his circus crocodile became the joke of
the camp.

We were spending a couple of days on the river bank to make the most of
the good water and grazing, and all through the day some one or other
would be out pottering about among the reeds, gun in hand, to keep the
pot full and have some fun, and although we laughed and chaffed about
Jim's experience, I fancy we were all very much on the look-out for
rocks that looked like crocs and crocs that looked like rocks.

One of the most difficult lessons that a beginner has to learn is to
keep cool.  The keener you are the more likely you are to get excited
and the more bitterly you feel the disappointments; and once you lose
your head, there is no mistake too stupid for you to make, and the
result is another good chance spoilt.  The great silent bush is so
lonely; the strain of being on the look-out all the time is so great;
the uncertainty as to what may start up--anything from a partridge to a
lion--is so trying that the beginner is wound up like an alarum clock
and goes off at the first touch.  He is not fit to hit a haystack at
twenty yards; will fire without looking or aiming at all; jerk the rifle
as he fires; forget to change the sight after the last shot; forget to
cock his gun or move the safety catch; forget to load; forget to fire at
all: nothing is impossible--nothing too silly.

On a later trip we had with us a man who was out for the first time, and
when we came upon a troop of koodoo he started yelling, war-whooping and
swearing at them, chasing them on foot and waving his rifle over his
head.  When we asked him why he, who was nearest to them, had not fired
a shot, all he could say was that he never remembered his rifle or
anything else until they were gone.

These experiences had been mine, some of them many times, in spite of
Rocky's example and advice; and they were always followed by a fresh
stock of good resolutions.

I had started out this day with the same old determination to keep cool,
but, once into the reeds, Jim's account of how he had stepped on the
crocodile put all other thoughts out of my mind, and most of my
attention was given to examining suspicious-looking rocks as we stole
silently and quietly along.

Jock was with me, as usual; I always took him out even then--not for
hunting, because he was too young, but in order to train him.  He was
still only a puppy, about six months old, as well as I remember, and had
never tackled or even followed a wounded buck, so that it was impossible
to say what he would do; he had seen me shoot a couple and had wanted to
worry them as they fell; but that was all.  He was quite obedient and
kept his place behind me; and, although he trembled with excitement when
he saw or heard anything, he never rushed in or moved ahead of me
without permission.  The guinea-fowl tormented him that day; he could
scent and hear them, and was constantly making little runs forward, half
crouching and with his nose back and tail dead level and his one ear
full-cocked and the other half-up.

For about half an hour we went on in this way.  There was plenty of
fresh duiker spoor to show us that we were in a likely place, one spoor
in particular being so fresh in the mud that it seemed only a few
minutes old.  We were following this one very eagerly but very
cautiously, and evidently Jock agreed with me that the duiker must be
near, for he took no more notice of the guinea-fowl; and I for my part
forgot all about crocodiles and suspicious-looking rocks; there was at
that moment only one thing in the world for me, and that was the duiker.
We crept along noiselessly in and out of the reeds, round rocks and
mudholes, across small stretches of firm mud or soft sand, so silently
that nothing could have heard us, and finally we came to a very big
rock, with the duiker spoor fresher than ever going close round it down
stream.  The rock was a long sloping one, polished smooth by the floods
and very slippery to walk on.  I climbed it in dead silence, peering
down into the reeds and expecting every moment to see the duiker.

The slope up which we crept was long and easy, but that on the
down-stream side was much steeper.  I crawled up to the top on hands and
knees, and raising myself slowly, looked carefully about, but no duiker
could be seen; yet Jock was sniffing and trembling more than ever, and
it was quite clear that he thought we were very close up.  Seeing
nothing in front or on either side, I stood right up and turned to look
back the way we had come and examine the reeds on that side.  In doing
so a few grains of grit crunched under my foot, and instantly there was
a rush in the reeds behind me; I jumped round to face it, believing that
the crocodile was grabbing at me from behind, and on the polished
surface of the rock my feet slipped and shot from under me, both bare
elbows bumped hard on the rock, jerking the rifle out of my hands; and I
was launched like a torpedo right into the mass of swaying reeds.

When you think you are tumbling on to a crocodile there is only one
thing you want to do--get out as soon as possible.  How long it took to
reach the top of the rock again, goodness only knows!  It seemed like a
life-time; but the fact is I was out of those reeds and up that rock in
time to see the duiker as it broke out of the reeds, raced up the bank,
and disappeared into the bush with Jock tearing after it as hard as ever
he could go.

One call stopped him, and he came back to me looking very crestfallen
and guilty, no doubt thinking that he had behaved badly and disgraced
himself.  But he was not to blame at all; he had known all along that
the duiker was there--having had no distracting fancies about
crocodiles--and when he saw it dash off and his master instantly jump in
after it, he must have thought that the hunt had at last begun and that
he was expected to help.

After all that row and excitement there was not much use in trying for
anything more in the reeds--and indeed I had had quite enough of them
for one afternoon; so we wandered along the upper banks in the hope of
finding something where there were no crocodiles, and it was not long
before we were interested in something else and able to forget all about
the duiker.

Before we had been walking many minutes, Jock raised his head and ears
and then lowered himself into a half crouching attitude and made a
little run forward.  I looked promptly in the direction he was pointing
and about two hundred yards away saw a stembuck standing in the shade of
a mimosa bush feeding briskly on the buffalo grass.  It was so small and
in such bad light that the shot was too difficult for me at that
distance, and I crawled along behind bushes, ant-heaps and trees until
we were close enough for anything.  The ground was soft and sandy, and
we could get along easily enough without making any noise; but all the
time, whilst thinking how lucky it was to be on ground so soft for the
hands and knees, and so easy to move on without being heard, something
else was happening.  With eyes fixed on the buck I did not notice that
in crawling along on all-fours, the muzzle of the rifle dipped regularly
into the sand, picking up a little in the barrel each time.  There was
not enough to burst the rifle, but the effect was surprising.  Following
on a painfully careful aim, there was a deafening report that made my
head reel and buzz; the kick of the rifle on the shoulder and cheek left
me blue for days; and when my eyes were clear enough to see anything the
stembuck had disappeared.

I was too disgusted to move, and sat in the sand rubbing my shoulder and
thanking my stars that the rifle had not burst.  There was plenty to
think about, to be sure, and no hurry to do anything else, for the noise
of the shot must have startled every living thing for a mile round.

It is not always easy to tell the direction from which a report comes
when you are near a river or in broken country or patchy bush; and it is
not an uncommon thing to find that a shot which has frightened one
animal away from you has startled another and driven it towards you; and
that is what happened in this case.  As I sat in the shade of the thorns
with the loaded rifle across my knees there was the faint sound of a
buck cantering along in the sand; I looked up; and only about twenty
yards from me a duiker came to a stop, half fronting me.  There it stood
looking back over its shoulder and listening intently, evidently
thinking that the danger lay behind it.  It was hardly possible to miss
that; and as the duiker rolled over, I dropped my rifle and ran to make
sure of it.

Of course, it was dead against the rules to leave the rifle behind; but
it was simply a case of excitement again: when the buck rolled over
everything else was forgotten!  I knew the rule perfectly well--Reload
at once and never part with your gun.  It was one of Rocky's lessons,
and only a few weeks before this, when out for an afternoon's shooting
with an old hunter, the lesson had been repeated.  The old man shot a
rietbuck ram, and as it had been facing us and dropped without a kick we
both thought that it was shot through the brain.  There was no mark on
the head, however, and although we examined it carefully, we failed to
find the bullet-mark or a trace of blood; so we put our rifles down to
settle the question by skinning the buck.  After sawing at the neck for
half a minute, however, the old man found his knife too blunt to make an
opening, and we both hunted about for a stone to sharpen it on, and
while we were fossicking about in the grass there was a noise behind,
and looking sharply round we saw the buck scramble to its feet and
scamper off before we had time to move.  The bullet must have touched
one of its horns and stunned it.  My companion was too old a hunter to
get excited, and while I ran for the rifles and wanted to chase the buck
on foot he stood quite still, gently rubbing the knife on the stone he
had picked up.  Looking at me under bushy eyebrows and smiling
philosophically, he said:

"That's something for you to remember, Boy.  It's my belief if you lived
for ever there'd always be something to learn at this game."

Unfortunately I did not remember when it would have been useful.  As I
ran forward the duiker tumbled, struggled and rolled over and over, then
got up and made a dash, only to dive head foremost into the sand and
somersault over; but in a second it was up again and racing off, again
to trip and plunge forward on to its chest with its nose outstretched
sliding along the soft ground.  The bullet had struck it in the
shoulder, and the broken leg was tripping it and bringing it down; but,
in far less time than it takes to tell it, the little fellow found out
what was wrong, and scrambling once more to its feet was off on three
legs at a pace that left me far behind.  Jock, remembering the mistake
in the reeds, kept his place behind, and I in the excitement of the
moment neither saw nor thought of him until the duiker, gaining at every
jump, looked like vanishing for ever.  Then I remembered and, with a
frantic wave of my hand, shouted, "After him, Jock."

He was gone before my hand was down, and faster than I had ever seen him
move, leaving me ploughing through the heavy sand far behind.  Past the
big bush I saw them again, and there the duiker did as wounded game so
often do: taking advantage of cover it changed direction and turned away
for some dense thorns.  But that suited Jock exactly; he took the short
cut across to head it off and was close up in a few more strides.  He
caught up to it, raced up beside it, and made a jump at its throat; but
the duiker darted away in a fresh direction, leaving him yards behind.
Again he was after it and tried the other side; but the buck was too
quick, and again he missed and overshot the mark in his jump.  He was in
such deadly earnest he seemed to turn in the air to get back again and
once more was close up--so close that I the flying heels of the buck
seemed to pass each side of his ears; then he made his spring from
behind, catching the duiker high up on one hind leg, and the two rolled
over together, kicking and struggling in a cloud of dust.  Time after
time the duiker got on its feet, trying to get at him with its horns or
to break away again; but Jock, although swung off his feet and rolled
on, did not let go his grip.  In grim silence he hung on while the
duiker plunged, and, when it fell, tugged and worried as if to shake the
life out of it.

What with the hot sun, the heavy sand, and the pace at which we had
gone, I was so pumped that I finished the last hundred yards at a walk,
and had plenty of time to see what was going on; but even when I got up
to them the struggle was so fierce and the movements so quick that for
some time it was not possible to get hold of the duiker to finish it
off.  At last came one particularly bad fall, when the buck rolled over
on its back, and then Jock let go his grip and made a dash for its
throat; but again the duiker was too quick for him; with one twist it
was up and round facing him on its one knee, and dug, thrust, and swept
with its black spiky horns so vigorously that it was impossible to get
at its neck.  As Jock rushed in the head ducked and the horns flashed
round so swiftly that it seemed as if nothing could save him from being
stabbed through and through, but his quickness and cleverness were a
revelation to me.  If he could not catch the duiker, it could not catch
him: they were in a way too quick for each other, and they were a long
way too quick for me.

Time after time I tried to get in close enough to grab one of the buck's
hind legs, but it was not to be caught.  While Jock was at it fast and
furious in front, I tried to creep up quietly behind--but it was no use:
the duiker kept facing Jock with horns down, and whenever I moved it
swung round and kept me in front also.  Finally I tried a run straight
in; and then it made another dash for liberty.  On three legs, however,
it had no chance, and in another minute Jock had it again, and down they
came together, rolling over and over once more.  The duiker struggled
hard, but he hung on, and each time it got its feet to the ground to
rise he would tug sideways and roll it over again, until I got up to
them, and catching the buck by the head, held it down with my knee on
its neck and my Bushman's Friend in hand to finish it.

There was, however, still another lesson for us both to learn that day;
neither of us knew what a buck can do with its hind feet when it is
down.  The duiker was flat on its side; Jock, thinking the fight was
over, had let go; and, before I could move the supple body doubled up,
and the feet whizzed viciously at me right over its head.  The little
pointed cloven feet are as hard and sharp as horns and will tear the
flesh like claws.  By good luck the kick only grazed my arm, but
although the touch was the lightest it cut the skin and little beads of
blood shot up marking the line like the scratch of a thorn.  Missing my
arm the hoof struck full on the handle of the Bushman's Friend and sent
it flying yards out of reach.  And it was not merely one kick: faster
than the eye could follow them the little feet whizzed and the legs
seemed to buzz round like the spokes of a wheel.  Holding the horns at
arm's length in order to dodge the kicks, I tried to pull the duiker
towards the knife; but it was too much for me, and with a sudden twist
and a wrench freed itself and was off again.

All the time Jock was moving round and round panting and licking his
chops, stepping in and stepping back, giving anxious little whimpers,
and longing to be at it again, but not daring to join in without
permission.  When the duiker broke away, however, he waited for nothing,
and was on to it in one spring--again from behind; and this time he let
go as it fell, and jumping free of it, had it by the throat before it
could rise.  I ran to them again, but the picking up of the knife had
delayed me and I was not in time to save Jock the same lesson that the
duiker had just taught me.

Down on its side, with Jock's jaws locked in its throat, once more the
duiker doubled up and used its feet.  The first kick went over his head
and scraped harmlessly along his back; but the second caught him at the
point of the shoulder, and the razor-like toe ripped his side right to
the hip.  Then the dog showed his pluck and cleverness.  His side was
cut open as if it had been slashed by a knife, but he never flinched or
loosened his grip for a second; he seemed to go at it more furiously
than ever, but more cleverly and warily.  He swung his body round clear
of the whizzing feet, watching them with his little beady eyes fixed
sideways and the gleaming whites showing in the corners; he tugged away
incessantly and vigorously, keeping the buck's neck stretched out and
pulling it round in a circle backwards so that it could not possibly
double its body up enough to kick him again; and before I could catch
the feet to help him, the kicks grew weaker; the buck slackened out, and
Jock had won.

The sun was hot, the sand was deep, and the rifle was hard to find; it
was a long way back to the waggons, and the duiker made a heavy load;
but the end of that first chase seemed so good that nothing else
mattered.  The only thing I did mind was the open cut on Jock's side;
but he minded nothing: his tail was going like a telegraph needle; he
was panting with his mouth open from ear to ear, and his red tongue
hanging out and making great slapping licks at his chops from time to
time; he was not still for a second, but kept walking in and stepping
back in a circle round the duiker, and looking up at me and then down at
it, as if he was not at all sure that there might not be some fresh game
on, and was consulting me as to whether it would not be a good thing to
have another go in and make it all safe.

He was just as happy as a dog could be, and perhaps he was proud of the
wound that left a straight line from his shoulder to his hip and showed
up like a cord under the golden brindle as long as he lived--a memento
of his first real hunt.



When the hen pecked Jock on the nose, she gave him a useful lesson in
the art of finding out what you want to know without getting into
trouble.  As he got older, he also learned that there are only certain
things which concerned him and which it was necessary for him to know.
A young dog begins by thinking that he can do everything, go everywhere,
and know everything; and a hunting dog has to learn to mind his own
business, as well as to understand it.  Some dogs turn sulky or timid or
stupid when they are checked, but an intelligent dog with a stout heart
will learn little by little to leave other things alone, and grow
steadily keener on his own work.  There was no mistake about Jock's
keenness.  When I took down the rifle from the waggon he did not go off
into ecstasies of barking, as most sporting dogs will do, but would give
a quick look up and with an eager little run towards me give a whimper
of joy, make two or three bounds as if wanting to stretch his muscles
and loosen his joints, then shake himself vigorously as though he had
just come out of the water, and with a soft suppressed "Woo-woo-woo"
full of contentment, drop silently into his place at my heels and give
his whole attention to his work.

He was the best of companions, and through the years that we hunted
together I never tired of watching him.  There was always something to
learn, something to admire, something to be grateful for, and very often
something to laugh at--in the way in which we laugh only at those whom
we are fond of.  It was the struggle between Jock's intense keenness and
his sense of duty that most often raised the laugh.  He knew that his
place was behind me; but probably he also knew that nine times out of
ten he scented or saw the game long before I knew there was anything
near, and naturally wanted to be in front or at least abreast of me to
show me whatever there was to be seen.

He noticed, just as surely and as quickly as any human being could, any
change in my manner: nothing escaped him, for his eyes and ears were on
the move the whole time.  It was impossible for me to look for more than
a few seconds in any one direction, or to stop or even to turn my head
to listen, without being caught by him.  His bright brown eyes were
everlastingly on the watch and on the move: from me to the bush, from
the bush back to me.  When we were after game, and he could scent or see
it, he would keep a foot or two to the side of me so as to have a clear
view; and when he knew by my manner that I thought there was game near,
he kept so close up that he would often bump against my heels as I
walked, or run right into my legs if I stopped suddenly.  Often when
stalking buck very quietly and cautiously, thinking only of what was in
front, I would get quite a start by feeling something bump up against me
behind.  At these times it was impossible to say anything without risk
of scaring the game, and I got into the habit of making signs with my
hand which he understood quite as well.

Sometimes after having crawled up I would be in the act of aiming when
he would press up against me.  Nothing puts one off so much as a touch
or the expectation of being jogged when in the act of firing, and I used
to get angry with him then, but dared not breathe a word; I would lower
my head slowly, turn round, and give him a look.  He knew quite well
what it meant.  Down would go his ears instantly, and he would back away
from me a couple of steps, drop his stump of a tail and wag it in a
feeble deprecating way, and open his mouth into a sort of foolish laugh.
That was his apology!  "I beg your pardon: it was an accident!  I won't
do it again."

It was quite impossible to be angry with him, he was so keen and he
meant so well; and when he saw me laughing softly at him, he would come
up again close to me, cock his tail a few inches higher and wag it a bit

There is a deal of expression in a dog's tail: it will generally tell
you what his feelings are.  My friend maintained that that was how he
knew his old dog was enjoying the joke against the cockerel; and that is
certainly how I knew what Jock was thinking about once when lost in the
veld; and it showed me the way back.

It is easy enough to lose oneself in the Bushveld.  The Berg stands up
some thousands of feet inland on the west, looking as if it had been put
there to hold up the High veld; and between the foothills and the sea
lies the Bushveld, stretching for hundreds of miles north and south.
From the height and distance of the Berg it looks as flat as the floor,
but in many parts it is very much cut up by deep rough dongas, sharp
rises and depressions, and numbers of small kopjes.  Still, it has a way
of looking flat, because the hills are small, and very much alike; and
because hill and hollow are covered and hidden mile after mile by small
trees of a wonderful sameness, just near enough together to prevent you
from seeing more than a few hundred yards at a time.  Most people see no
differences in sheep: many believe that all Chinamen are exactly alike;
and so it is with the Bushveld: you have to know it first.

So far I had never lost my way out hunting.  The experiences of other
men and the warnings from the old hands had made me very careful.  We
were always hearing of men being lost through leaving the road and
following up the game while they were excited, without noticing which
way they went and how long they had been going.  There were no beaten
tracks and very few landmarks, so that even experienced hunters went
astray sometimes for a few hours or a day or two when the mists or heavy
rains came on and nothing could be seen beyond fifty or a hundred yards.

Nearly every one who goes hunting in the Bushveld gets lost some time or
other--generally in the beginning before he has learned to notice
things.  Some have been lost for many days until they blundered on to a
track by accident or were found by a search-party; others have been lost
and, finding no water or food, have died; others have been killed by
lions, and only a boot or a coat--or, as it happened in one case that I
know of, a ring found inside a lion--told what had occurred; others have
been lost and nothing more ever heard of them.  There is no feeling
quite like that of being lost--helplessness, terror, and despair!  The
horror of it is so great that every beginner has it before him; every
one has heard of it, thought of it, and dreamed of it, and every one
feels it holding him to the beaten track, as the fear of drowning keeps
those who cannot swim to shallow water.  That is just in the beginning.
Presently, when little excursions, each bolder than the previous, have
ended without accident, the fear grows less and confidence develops.
Then it is, as a rule, that the accident comes and the lesson is
learned, if you are lucky enough to pull through.

When the camp is away in the trackless bush, it needs a good man always
to find the way home after a couple of hours' chase with all its twists
and turns and doublings; but when camp is made on a known road--a long
main road that strikes a fair line between two points of the compass--it
seems impossible for any one to be hopelessly lost.  If the road runs
east and west you, knowing on which side you left it, have only to walk
north or south steadily and you must strike it again.  The old hands
told the beginners this, and we were glad to know that it was only a
matter of walking for a few hours, more or less, and that in the end we
were bound to find the road and strike some camp.  "Yes," said the old
hands, "it is simple enough here where you have a road running east and
west; there is only one rule to remember: When you have lost your way,
don't lose your head."  But indeed that is just the one rule that you
are quite unable to observe.

Many stories have been told of men being lost: many volumes could be
filled with them for the trouble of writing down what any hunter will
tell you.  But no one who has not seen it can realise how the thing may
happen; no one would believe the effect that the terror of being lost,
and the demoralisation which it causes, can have on a sane man's senses.
If you want to know what a man can persuade himself to believe against
the evidence of his senses--even when his very life depends upon his
holding to the absolute truth--then you should see a man who is lost in
the bush.  He knows that he left the road on the north side; she loses
his bearings; he does not know how long how fat, or how far he has
walked; yet if he keep his head he will make due south and must
inevitably strike the road.  After going for half an hour and seeing
nothing familiar, he begins to feel that he is going in the wrong
direction; something pulls at him to face right about.  Only a few
minutes more of this, and he feels sure that he must have crossed the
road without noticing it, and therefore that he ought to be going north
instead of south, if he hopes ever to strike it again.  How, you will
ask, can a man imagine impossible to cross a big dusty road twenty or
thirty feet wide without seeing it?  The idea seems absurd; yet they do
really believe it.  One of the first illusions that occurs to men when
they lose their heads is that they have done this, and it is the cause
of scores of cases of `lost in the bush.'  The idea that they may have
done it is absurd enough; but stranger still is the fact that they
actually _do_ it.

If you cannot understand a man thinking he had done such a thing, what
can you say of a man actually doing it?  Impossible, quite impossible,
you think.  Ah! but it is a fact: many know it for a fact and I have
witnessed it twice myself, once in Mashonaland and once on the Delagoa
road.  I saw men, tired, haggard and wild-eyed, staring far in front of
them, never looking at the ground, pressing on, on, on, and actually
cross well-worn waggon roads, coming from hard veld into a sandy
wheel-worn track and kicking up a cloud of dust as they passed, and
utterly blind to the fact that they were walking across the roads they
had been searching for--in one case for ten hours, and in the other for
three days.  When we called to them they had already crossed and were
disappearing again into the bush.  In both cases the sound of the human
voice and the relief of being `found,' made them collapse.  The knees
seemed to give way: they could not remain standing.  The man who loses
his head is really lost.  He cannot think, remember, reason, or
understand; and the strangest thing of all is that he often cannot even
_see_ properly--he fails to see the very things that he most wants to
see, even when they are as large as life before him.  Crossing the road
without seeing it is not the only or the most extraordinary example of
this sort of thing.  We were out hunting once in a mounted party, but to
spare a tired horse I went on foot and took up my stand in a game run
among some thorn-trees on the low spur of a hill, while the others made
a big circuit to head off a troop of koodoo.  Among our party there was
one who was very nervous: he had been lost once for six or eight hours,
and being haunted by the dread of being lost again, his nerve was all
gone and he would not go fifty yards without a companion.  In the
excitement of shooting at and galloping after the koodoo probably this
dread was forgotten for a moment: he himself could not tell how it
happened that he became separated, and no one else had noticed him.

The strip of wood along the hills in which I was waiting was four or
five miles long but only from one to three hundred yards wide, a mere
fringe enclosing the little range of kopjes; and between the stems of
the trees I could see our camp and waggons in the open a quarter of a
mile away.  Ten or twelve shots faintly heard in the distance told me
that the others were on to the koodoo, and knowing the preference of
those animals for the bush I took cover behind a big stump and waited.
For over half an hour, however, nothing came towards me, and believing
then that the game had broken off another way, I was about to return to
camp when I heard the tapping of galloping feet a long way off.  In a
few minutes the hard thud and occasional ring on the ground told that it
was not the koodoo; and soon afterwards I saw a man on horseback.  He
was leaning eagerly forward and thumping the exhausted horse with his
rifle and his heels to keep up its staggering gallop.  I looked about
quickly to see what it was he was chasing that could have slipped past
me unnoticed, but there was nothing; then thinking there had been an
accident and he was coming for help, I stepped out into the open and
waited for him to come up.  I stood quite still, and he galloped past
within ten yards of me--so close that his muttered "Get on, you brute;
get on, get on!" as he thumped away at his poor tired horse, were
perfectly audible.

"What's up, sportsman?"  I asked, no louder than you would say it across
a tennis-court; but the words brought him up, white-faced and terrified,
and he half slid, half tumbled, off the horse gasping out, "I was lost,
I was lost!"  How he had managed to keep within that strip of bush,
without once getting into the open where he would have seen the line of
kopjes to which I had told him to stick or could have seen the waggons
and the smoke of the big camp fire, he could never explain.  I turned
him round where he stood, and through the trees showed him the white
tents of the waggons and the cattle grazing near by, but he was too
dazed to understand or explain anything.

There are many kinds of men.  That particular kind is not the kind that
will ever do for veld life: they are for other things and other work.
You will laugh at them at times--when the absurdity is greatest and no
harm has been done.  But see it!  See it--and realise the suspense, the
strain, and the terror; and then even the funniest incident has another
side to it.  See it once; and recall that the worst of endings have had
just such beginnings.  See it in the most absurd and farcical
circumstances ever known; and laugh--laugh your fill; laugh at the
victim and laugh with him, when it is over--and safe.  But in the end
will come the little chilling thought that the strongest, the bravest,
and the best have known something of it too; and that even to those
whose courage holds to the last breath there may come a moment when the
pulse beats a little faster and the judgment is at fault.

Buggins who was with us in the first season was no hunter, but he was a
good shot and not a bad fellow.  In his case there was no tragedy; there
was much laughter and--to me--a wonderful revelation.  He showed us, as
in a play, how you can be lost; how you can walk for ever in one little
circle, as though drawn to a centre by magnetic force, and how you can
miss seeing things in the bush if they do not move.

We had outspanned in a flat covered with close grass about two feet high
and shady flat-topped thorn trees.  The waggons, four in number, were
drawn up a few yards off the road, two abreast.  The grass was sweet and
plentiful; the day was hot and still; and as we had had a very long
early morning trek there was not much inclination to move.  The cattle
soon filled themselves and lay down to sleep; the boys did the same; and
we, when breakfast was over, got into the shade of the waggons, some to
sleep and others to smoke.

Buggins--that was his pet name--was a passenger returning to "England,
Home, and Beauty"--that is to say, literally, to a comfortable home,
admiring sisters and a rich indulgent father--after having sought his
fortune unsuccessfully on the goldfields for fully four months.  Buggins
was good-natured, unselfish, and credulous; but he had one fault--he
`yapped': he talked until our heads buzzed.  He used to sleep
contentedly in a rumpled tarpaulin all through the night treks and come
up fresh as a daisy and full of accumulated chat at the morning outspan,
just when we--unless work or sport called for us--were wanting to get
some sleep.

We knew well enough what to expect, so after breakfast Jimmy, who
understood Buggins well, told him pleasantly that he could "sleep,
shoot, or shut up."  To shut up was impossible, and to sleep again--
without a rest--difficult, even for Buggins; so with a good-natured
laugh he took the shot gun, saying that he "would potter around a bit
and give us a treat."  Well, he did!

We had outspanned on the edge of an open space in the thorn bush; there
are plenty of them to be found in the Bushveld--spaces a few hundred
yards in diameter, like open park land, where not a single tree breaks
the expanse of wavy yellow grass.  The waggons with their greyish tents
and buck-sails and dusty wood-work stood in the fringe of the trees
where this little arena touched the road, and into it sallied Buggins,
gently drawn by the benevolent purpose of giving us a treat.  What he
hoped to find in the open on that sweltering day he only could tell; we
knew that no living thing but lizards would be out of the shade just
then, but we wanted to find him employment harmless to him and us.

He had been gone for more than half an hour when we heard a shot, and a
few minutes later Jimmy's voice roused us.

"What the dickens is Buggins doing?" he asked in a tone so puzzled and
interested that we all turned to watch that sportsman.  According to
Jimmy, he had been walking about in an erratic way for some time on the
far side of the open ground--going from the one end to the other and
then back again; then disappearing for a few minutes in the bush and
re-appearing to again manoeuvre in the open in loops and circles, angles
and straight lines.  Now he was walking about at a smart pace, looking
from side to side apparently searching for something.  We could see the
whole of the arena as clearly as you can see a cricket-field from the
railings--for our waggon formed part of the boundary--but we could see
nothing to explain Buggins's manoeuvres.  Next we saw him face the
thorns opposite, raise his gun very deliberately, and fire into the top
of the trees.

"Green pigeons," said Jimmy firmly; and we all agreed that Buggins was
after specimens for stuffing; but either our guess was wrong or his aim
was bad, for after standing dead still for a minute he resumed his
vigorous walk.  By this time Buggins fairly fascinated us; even the
kaffirs had roused each other and were watching him.  Away he went at
once off to our left, and there he repeated the performance, but, again
made no attempt to pick up anything and showed no further interest in
whatever it was he had fired at, but turned right about face and walked
across the open ground in our direction until he was only a couple of
hundred yards away.  There he stopped and began to look about him and
making off some few yards in another direction climbed on to a
fair-sized ant-heap five or six feet high, and balancing himself
cautiously on this he deliberately fired off both barrels in quick
succession.  Then the same idea struck us all together, and "Buggins is
lost" came from several--all choking with laughter.

Jimmy got up and, stepping out into the open beside the waggon, called,
"Say, Buggins, what in thunder _are_ you doing?"

To see Buggins slide off the ant-heap and shuffle shamefacedly back to
the waggon before a gallery of four white men and a lot of kaffirs, all
cracking and crying with laughter, was a sight never to be forgotten.

I did not want to get lost and be eaten alive, or even look ridiculous,
so I began very carefully: glanced back regularly to see what the track,
trees, rocks, or kopjes looked like from the other side; carefully noted
which side of the road I had turned off; and always kept my eye on the
sun.  But day after day and month after month went by without accident
or serious difficulty, and then the same old thing happened: familiarity
bred contempt, and I got the beginner's complaint, conceit fever, just
as others did: thought I was rather a fine fellow, not like other chaps
who always have doubts and difficulties in finding their way back, but
something exceptional with the real instinct in me which hunters,
natives, and many animals are supposed to have; though, in fact, I could
not get lost.  So each day I went further and more boldly off the road,
and grew more confident and careless.

The very last thing that would have occurred to me on this particular
day was that there was any chance of being lost or any need to take note
of where we went.  For many weeks we had been hunting in exactly the
same sort of country, but not of course in the same part; and the truth
is I did not give the matter a thought at all, but went ahead as one
does with the things that are done every day as matters of habit.



We were outspanned near some deep shaded water-holes, and at about three
o'clock I took my rifle and wandered off in the hope of dropping across
something for the larder and having some sport during the three hours
before the evening trek would begin; and as there was plenty of spoor of
many kinds the prospects seemed good enough.

We had been going along slowly, it may be for half an hour, without
seeing more than a little stembuck scurrying away in the distance, when
I noticed that Jock was rather busy with his nose, sniffing about in a
way that looked like business.  He was not sure of anything; that was
clear, because he kept trying in different directions; not as you see a
pointer do, but very seriously silently and slowly, moving at a cautious
walk for a few yards and then taking a look about.

The day was hot and still, as usual at that time of the year, and any
noise would be easily heard, so I had stopped to give Jock a chance of
ranging about.  At the moment we were in rather open ground, and finding
that Jock was still very suspicious I moved on towards where the bush
was thicker and we were less likely to be seen from a distance.  As we
got near the better cover there was a rasping, squawky cry in a
cockatoo's voice, "Go 'way; go 'way; go' way!" and one of those ugly
big-beaked Go 'way birds came sailing up from behind and flapped on to
the trees we were making for.  No doubt they have another name, but in
the Bushveld they were known as Go 'way birds, because of this cry and
because they are supposed to warn the game when an enemy is coming.  But
they are not like the tick bird or the rhinoceros bird, who stick close
to their friends and as soon as they see or hear anything suspicious
flutter straight up filling the air with twittering cries of alarm; the
Go 'way birds do not feed on ticks and have nothing to do with the game;
you find them where there is no game, and it always seemed to me that it
is not concern for the game at all, but simply a combination of vulgar
curiosity, disagreeableness and bad manners, that makes them interfere
as they do.

The reason why I do not believe the Go 'way birds care a rap about the
game and only want to worry you is that often one of them will make up
its mind to stick to you, and you can turn twist and double as many ways
as you like, but as soon as you begin to walk on again the wretched
thing will fly over your head and perch twenty yards or so in front of
you, screeching out "Go 'way" at the top of its voice.  There it will
sit ready to fly off again as you come on, its ugly head on one side and
big hooked bill like an aggressive nose, watching you mercilessly, as
vigilant as a hungry fowl and as cross as a tired nurse in a big family.
They seem to know that you cannot shoot them without making more row
and doing more harm than they do.

I stood still for a few minutes to give this one a chance to fly away,
and when it would not do so, but kept on screeching and craning its neck
at me, I threw a stone at it.  It ducked violently and gave a choking
hysterical squawk of alarm and anger as the stone whizzed close to its
head; then flying on to another tree a few yards off, screamed away more
noisily than ever.  Evidently the best thing to do was to go ahead
taking no notice of the creature and trusting that it would tire and
leave me alone; so I walked off briskly.

There was a slight rustling in the bush ahead of us as I stepped out,
and then the sound of feet.  I made a dash for the chance of a running
shot, but it was too late, and all we saw was half a dozen beautiful
koodoo disappearing among the tree stems.

I turned towards that Go 'way bird.  Perhaps he did not like the look on
my face or the way I held the rifle; for he gave one more snarling
shriek, as if he was emptying himself for ever of his rage and spite,
and flapped away.

Jock was standing like a statue, leaning slightly forward but with head
very erect, jaws tightly closed, and eyes looking straight in front, as
bright as black diamonds.

It was a bad disappointment; for that was the first time we had fairly
and squarely come upon koodoo.  However, it was still early and the game
had not been scared, but had gone off quietly; so hoping for another
chance we started off at a trot along the fresh spoor.

A big koodoo bull stands as high as a bullock, and although they have
the small shapely feet of an antelope the spoor is heavy enough to
follow at a trot except on stony ground.  Perhaps they know this, for
they certainly prefer the rough hard ground when they can get it.  We
went along at a good pace, but with many short breaks to make sure of
the spoor in the stony parts; and it was pretty hot work, although
clothing was light for hunting.  A rough flannel shirt, open at the
throat, and moleskin trousers dyed with coffee--for khaki was unknown to
us then--was the usual wear; and we carried as little as possible.
Generally a water-bottle filled with unsweetened cold tea and a
cartridge belt were all we took besides the rifle.  This time I had less
than usual.  Meaning to be out only for a couple of hours at most and to
stick close to the road, I had pocketed half a dozen cartridges and left
both bandolier and water-bottle behind.

It was not long before we came upon the koodoo again; but they were on
the watch.  They were standing in the fringe of some thick bush,
broadside on but looking back full at us, and as soon as I stopped to
aim the whole lot disappeared with the same easy movement, just melting
away in the bush.

If I had only known it, it was a hopeless chase for an inexperienced
hunter: they were simply playing with me.  The very things that seemed
so encouraging to me would have warned an old hand that running on the
trail was quite useless.  When they moved off quietly, it was not
because they were foolhardy or did not realise the danger.  When they
allowed us to catch up to them time after time, it was not because they
did not expect us.  When they stood on the edge of thick bush where we
could see them, it was not stupidity.  When they could disappear with an
easy bound, it was not accident.  It was all part of the game.  They
were keeping in touch with us so that we could not surprise them, and
whenever they stopped it was always where they could see us coming
through the thinner bush for a long way and where they themselves could
disappear in the thick bush in a couple of strides.  Moreover, with each
fresh run they changed their direction with the object of making it
difficult for us to follow them up, and with the deliberate purpose of
eventually reaching some favourite and safe haunt of theirs.

An old hand might have known this; but a beginner goes blindly along the
spoor--exactly where they are expecting him.  The chase was long and
tiring, but there was no feeling of disappointment and no thought of
giving it up: each time they came in sight we got keener and more
excited, and the end seemed nearer and more certain.  I knew what the
six animals were--four cows, one young bull, and a magnificent old
fellow with a glorious head and great spiral horns.  I carried his
picture in my eye and could pick him out instantly wherever he stood and
however motionless; for, incredibly difficult as it is to pick out still
objects in the bush before your eye becomes accustomed to it, it is
wonderful what you can do when your eye is in and you are cool and
intent and know what you are looking for.  I had the old bull marked
down as mine, and knew his every detail--his splendid bearing, strong
shaggy neck with mane to the withers and bearded throat, the soft grey
dove-colour of the coat with its white stripes, the easy balancing
movement in carrying the massive horns as he cantered away, and the
trick of throwing them back to glide them through the bush.

The last run was a long and hard one; and the koodoo seemed to have
taken matters seriously and made up their minds to put a safe distance
between us and them.  The spooring was often difficult and the pace hot.
I was wet through from the hard work, and so winded that further effort
seemed almost impossible; but we plodded away--the picture of the koodoo
bull luring me on, and Jock content with any chase.  Without him the
spoor would have been lost long before; it was in many places too faint
and scattered for me to follow, but he would sniff about quietly, and,
by his contented looks back at me and brisk wagging of that stumpy tail,
show that he was on it again, and off we would go on another tired
straggling trot.  But at last even his help was not enough: we had come
to the end of the chase, and not a spoor, scratch, or sign of any sort
was to be seen.

Time had passed unnoticed, and it was only when it became clear that
further search would be quite useless that I looked at my watch and
found it was nearly five o'clock.  That was rather a shock, for it
seemed reasonable to think that, as we had been out for pretty nearly
two hours and going fast for most of the time, it would take almost as
long to get back again.

I had not once noticed our direction or looked at the sun, yet when it
came to making for camp again the idea of losing the way never occurred
to me.  I had not the slightest doubt about the way we had come, and it
seemed the natural thing to go back the same way.

A short distance from where we finally gave up the chase there was a
rise crowned by some good-sized rocks and bare of trees; it was not high
enough to be fairly called a kopje, but I climbed it on chance of
getting a view of the surrounding country--to see, if possible, how far
we had come.  The rise was not sufficient, however, to give a view;
there was nothing to be seen, and I sat down on the highest rock to rest
for a few minutes and smoke a cigarette.

It is over twenty years since that day, but that cigarette is not
forgotten, and the little rise where we rested is still, to me,
Cigarette Kopje.  I was so thoroughly wet from the heat and hard work
that the matches in the breast pocket of my shirt were all damp, and the
heads came off most of them before one was gently coaxed into giving a
light.  Five minutes rest was enough.  We both wanted a drink, but there
was no time then to hunt for water in such a dry part as that, so off we
started for camp and jogged along for a good time, perhaps half an hour.
Then little by little I began to feel some uncertainty about the way
and to look about from side to side for reminders.

The start back had been easy enough: that part of the ground where we
had lost the spoor had been gone over very thoroughly and every object
was familiar; but further back, where we had followed the spoor at a
trot for long stretches and I had hardly raised my eyes from the ground
before me, it was a very different matter.  I forgot all about those
long stretches in which nothing had been noticed except the koodoo
spoor, and was unconsciously looking out for things in regular
succession which we had passed at quite long intervals.  Of course, they
were not to be found, but I kept on looking out for them--first feeling
annoyed, then puzzled, then worried.  Something had gone wrong, and we
were not going back on our old tracks.  Several times I looked about for
the koodoo spoor as a guide; but it might be anywhere over a width of a
hundred yards, and it seemed waste of precious time to search the dry
grass-grown and leaf-strewn ground for that.

At the first puzzled stop I tried to recall some of the more noticeable
things we had passed during the chase.  There were two flat-topped
mimosas, looking like great rustic tables on a lawn, and we had passed
between them; there was a large ant-heap, with a twisty top like a
crooked mud chimney, behind which the koodoo bull had calmly stood
watching us approach; then a marula tree with a fork like a giant
catapult stick; and so on with a score of other things, all coming
readily to mind.

That was what put me hopelessly wrong.  I began to look for particular
objects instead of taking one direction and keeping to it.  Whenever a
flat-topped thorn, a quaint ant-heap, a patch of tambookie grass, or a
forked marula came in sight, I would turn off to see if they were the
same we had passed coming out.  It was hopeless folly, of course; for in
that country there were hundreds and thousands of such things all
looking very much alike, and you could walk yourself to death zigzagging
about from one to another and never get any nearer home: when it comes
to doing that sort of thing your judgment is gone and you have lost your
head; and the worst of it is you do not know it and would not believe it
if any one could tell you so.  I did not know it; but it was
nevertheless the fact.

As the sun sank lower I hurried on faster, but never long in one line--
always turning this way and that to search for the particular marks I
had in mind.  At last we came to four trees in a line, and my heart gave
a great jump, for these we had certainly passed before.  In order to
make quite sure I hunted for koodoo spoor; there was none to be seen,
but on an old molehill there was the single print of a dog's foot.  "Ha,
Jock's!"  I exclaimed aloud; and Jock himself at the sound of his name
stepped up briskly and sniffed at his own spoor.  Close beside it there
was the clear mark of a heeled boot, and there were others further on.
There was no doubt about it, they were Jock's and mine, and I could have
given a whoop of delight; but a chilly feeling came over me when I
realised that the footprints were _leading the same way as we were
going_, instead of the opposite way.  What on earth did it mean?

I laid the rifle down and sat on an old stump to think it out, and after
puzzling over it for some minutes came to the conclusion that by some
stupid blunder I must have turned round somewhere and followed the line
of the koodoo, instead of going back on it.  The only thing to be done
was to right about face and go faster than ever; but, bad as the
disappointment was, it was a certain consolation to know that we were on
the track at last.  That at any rate was a certainty; for, besides the
footprints, the general appearance of the country and many individual
features were perfectly familiar, now that I took a good look at them
from this point.

At that moment I had not a shadow of doubt about the way--no more,
indeed, than if we had been on the road itself: no suspicion of the
truth occurred to me; yet the simple fact is we were not then on the
koodoo trail at all, but, having made a complete circle, had come on to
our own trail at the molehill and were now doing the circle the second
time--but the reverse way now.

The map on the opposite page is an attempt to show what happened; the
details are of course only guesswork, but the general idea is correct.
The koodoo themselves had moved in a rough circle and in the first
attempt to return to the waggons I had started back on their trail but
must have turned aside somewhere, and after that, by dodging about
looking for special landmarks, have made a complete circle.  Thus we
eventually came back to the track on which we had started for home, and
the things that then looked so convincingly familiar were things seen
during the first attempt to return, and not, as I supposed, landmarks on
the original koodoo trail.  Jock's footprints in the molehill were only
a few hundred yards from the Cigarette Kopje and about the same distance
from where we had lost the koodoo spoor; and we were, at that moment,
actually within a mile of the waggons.

It seems incredible that one could be so near and not see or understand.
Why should one walk in circles instead of taking a fairly straight
line?  How was it possible to pass Cigarette Kopje and not recognise it,
for I must have gone within fifty yards or less of it?  As for not
seeing things, the answer is that the bush does not allow you to see
much: the waggons, for instance, might as well have been a hundred miles
away.  As for Cigarette Kop--things do not look the same unless seen
from the same point; moreover there are heaps of things easily visible
which you will never see at all because you are looking only for
something else: you carry a preconceived idea, a sort of picture in your
eye, and everything that does not fit in with that is not noticed--not
even seen.  As for walking in circles, it is my belief that most people,
just like most horses, have a natural leaning or tendency towards one
side or the other, and unless checked unconsciously indulge it.  When
riding in the veld, or any open country, you will notice that some
horses will want to take any turn off to the right, others always go to
the left, and only very few keep straight on.  When out walking you will
find that some people cannot walk on your right hand without coming
across your front or working you into the gutter; others `mule' you from
the left.  Get them out in open country, walk briskly, and talk; then
give way a little each time they bump you, and in a very little while
you will have done the circle.  If you have this tendency in the
Bushveld, where you cannot see any distant object to make for as a goal,
any obstacle straight in front of you throws you off to the side you
incline to; any openings in the trees which look like avenues or easy
ways draw you; and between any two of them you will always choose the
one on your favourite side.  Finally, a little knowledge is a dangerous
thing in the veld, as elsewhere.  When you know enough to recognise
marks without being able to identify or locate them--that is, when you
know you have seen them before but are not sure of the when and the
where--goodness only knows what conclusion you will come to or what you
will do.

I had passed Cigarette Kopje, it's true; but when coming towards it from
a new side it must have looked quite different; and besides that, I had
not been expecting it, not looking for it, not even thinking of it--had
indeed said good-bye to it for ever.  When we turned back at the
molehill, beginning to do the circle for the second time, we must have
passed quite close to Cigarette Kopje again, but again it was from a
different opening in the bush, and this time I had thought of nothing
and seen nothing except the things I picked out and recognised as we
hurried along.  To my half-opened beginner's eyes these things were
familiar: we had passed them before; that seemed to be good enough: it
must be right; so on we went, simply doing the same circle a second
time, but this time the reverse way.  The length of my shadow stretching
out before me as we started from the molehill was a reminder of the need
for haste, and we set off at a smart double.  A glance back every few
minutes to make sure that we were returning the way we had come was
enough, and on we sped, confident for my part that we, were securely on
the line of the koodoo and going straight for the waggons.

It is very difficult to say how long this lasted before once more a
horrible doubt arose.  It was when we had done half the circle that I
was pulled up as if struck in the face: the setting sun shining into my
eyes as we crossed an open space stopped me; for, as the bright
gold-dust light of the sunset met me full, I remembered that it was my
long shadow _in front_ of me as we started from the molehill that had
urged me to hurry on.  We had started due east: we were going dead west!
What on earth was wrong?  There were the trees and spaces we had
passed, a blackened stump, an ant-bear hole; all familiar.  What then
was the meaning of it?  Was it only a temporary swerve?  No!  I tested
that by pushing on further along the track we were following, and it
held steadily to the west.  Was it then all imagination about having
been there before?  No, that was absurd!  And yet--and yet, as I went
on, no longer trotting and full of hope but walking heavily and weighted
with doubt, the feeling of uncertainty grew until I really did not know
whether the familiar-looking objects and scenes were indeed old
acquaintances or merely imagination playing tricks in a country where
every style and sample was copied a thousand times over.

A few minutes later I again caught sight of the sunset glow--it was on
my direct right: it meant that the trail had taken another turn, while I
could have sworn we were holding a course straight as an arrow.  It was
all a hopeless tangle.  I was lost then--and knew it.  It was not the
dread of a night out in the bush--for after many months of roughing it,
that had no great terrors for me--but the helpless feeling of being lost
and the anxiety and uncertainty about finding the road again, that
gnawed at me and made me feel tucked-up and drawn.  I wondered when they
would begin to look for me, if they would light big fires and fire
shots, and if it would be possible to see or hear the signals.  The
light would not last much longer; the dimness, the silence, and the
hateful doubts about the trail made it more and more difficult to
recognise the line; so I thought it was time to fire a signal shot.

There was no answer.  It was silly to hope for one; for even if it had
been heard they would only have thought that I was shooting at
something.  Yet the clinging to hope was so strong that every twenty
yards or so I stopped to listen for a reply; and when, after what seemed
an eternity, none came, I fired another.  When you shoot in the
excitement of the chase the noise of the report does not strike you as
anything out of the way; but a signal shot when you are alone and lost
seems to fill the world with sound and to shake the earth itself.  It
has a most chilling effect, and the feeling of loneliness becomes acute
as the echoes die away and still no answer comes.

Another short spell of tip-toe walking and intent listening, and then it
came to me that one shot as a signal was useless; I should have fired
more and at regular intervals, like minute-guns at sea.  I felt in my
pocket: there were only four cartridges there and one in the rifle;
there was night before me, with the wolves and the lions; there was the
food for to-morrow, and perhaps more than to-morrow!  There could be no
minute-guns: two shots were all that could be spared, and I looked about
for some high and open ground where the sound would travel far and wide.
On ahead of us to the right the trees seemed fewer and the light
stronger; and there I came upon some rising ground bare of bush.  It was
not much for my purpose, but it was higher than the rest and quite open,
and there were some rocks scattered about the top.  The same old feeling
of mixed remembrance and doubt came over me as we climbed it: it looked
familiar and yet different.  Was it memory or imagination?

But there was no time for wonderings.  From the biggest rock, which was
only waist high, I fired off two of my precious cartridges, and stood
like a statue listening for the reply.  The silence seemed worse than
before: the birds had gone to roost; even the flies had disappeared;
there was no sound at all but the beat of my own heart and Jock's
panting breath.

There were three cartridges and a few damp matches left.  There was no
sun to dry them now, but I laid them out carefully on the smooth warm
rock, and hoped that one at least would serve to light our camp fire.
There was no time to waste: while the light lasted I had to drag up wood
for the fire and pick a place for the camp--somewhere where the rocks
behind and the fire in front would shelter us from the lions and hyenas,
and where I could watch and listen for signals in the night.

There was plenty of wood near by, and thinking anxiously of the damp
matches I looked about for dry tindery grass so that any spark would
give a start for the fire.  As I stooped to look for the grass I came on
a patch of bare ground between the scattered tufts, and in the middle of
it there lay a half-burnt match; and such a flood of relief and hope
surged up that my heart beat up in my throat.  Where there were matches
there had been men!  We were not in the wilds, then, where white men
seldom went--not off the beaten track: perhaps not far from the road

You must experience it to know what it meant at that moment.  It drew me
on to look for more!  A yard away I found the burnt end of a cigarette;
and before there was time to realise why that should seem queer, I came
on eight or ten matches with their heads knocked off.

For a moment things seemed to go round and round.  I sat down with my
back against the rock and a funny choky feeling in my throat.  I knew
they were my matches and cigarette, and that we were exactly where we
had started from hours before, when we gave up the chase of tie koodoo.
I began to understand things then: why places and landmarks seemed
familiar; why Jock's spoor in the molehill had pointed the wrong way;
why my shadow was in front and behind and beside me in turns.  We had
been going round in a circle.  I jumped up and looked about me with a
fresh light; and it was all clear as noonday then.  Why, this was the
fourth time we had been on or close to some part of this same rise that
day, each time within fifty yards of the same place; it was the second
time I had sat on that very rock.  And there was nothing odd or
remarkable about that either, for each time I had been looking for the
highest point to spy from and had naturally picked the rock-topped rise;
and I had not recognised it, only because we came upon it from different
sides each time and I was thinking of other things all the while.

All at once it seemed as if my eyes were opened and all was clear at
last.  I knew what to do: just make the best of it for the night; listen
for shots and watch for fires; and if by morning no help came in that
way, then strike a line due south for the road and follow it up until we
found the waggons.  It might take all day or even more, but we were sure
of water that way and one could do it.  The relief of really
understanding was so great that the thought of a night out no longer
worried me.

There was enough wood gathered, and I stretched out on the grass to rest
as there was nothing else to do.  We were both tired out, hot, dusty,
and very very thirsty; but it was too late to hunt for water then.  I
was lying on my side chewing a grass stem, and Jock lay down in front of
me a couple of feet away.  It was a habit of his: he liked to watch my
face, and often when I rolled over to ease one side and lie on the other
he would get up when he found my back turned to him and come round
deliberately to the other side and sling himself down in front of me
again.  There he would lie with his hind legs sprawled on one side, his
front legs straight out, and his head resting on his paws.  He would lie
like that without a move, his little dark eyes fixed on mine all the
time until the stillness and the rest made him sleepy, and he would
blink and blink, like a drowsy child, fighting against sleep until it
beat him; and then--one long-drawn breath as he rolled gently over on
his side, and Jock was away in Snoozeland.

In the loneliness of that evening I looked into his steadfast resolute
face with its darker muzzle and bright faithful eyes that looked so soft
and brown when there was nothing to do but got so beady black when it
came to fighting.  I felt very friendly to the comrade who was little
more than a puppy still; and he seemed to feel something too; for as I
lay there chewing the straw and looking at him, he stirred his stump of
a tail in the dust an inch or so from time to time to let me know that
he understood all about it and that it was all right as long as we were

But an interruption came.  Jock suddenly switched up his head, put it a
bit sideways as a man would do, listening over his shoulder with his
nose rather up in the air.  I watched him, and thinking that it was
probably only a buck out to feed in the cool of the evening, I tickled
his nose with the long straw, saying, "No good, old chap; only three
cartridges left.  We must keep them."

No dog likes to have his nose tickled: it makes them sneeze; and many
dogs get quite offended, because it hurts their dignity.  Jock was not
offended, but he got up and, as if to show me that I was frivolous and
not attending properly to business, turned away from me and with his
ears cocked began to listen again.

He was standing slightly in front of me and I happened to notice his
tail: it was not moving; it was drooping slightly and perfectly still,
and he kept it like that as he stepped quietly forward on to another
sloping rock overlooking a side where we had not yet been.  Evidently
there was something there, but he did not know what, and he wanted to
find out.

I watched him, much amused by his calm businesslike manner.  He walked
to the edge of the rock and looked out: for a few minutes he stood
stock-still with his ears cocked and his tail motionless; then his ears
dropped and his tail wagged gently from side to side.

Something--an instinct or sympathy quickened by the day's experience,
that I had never quite known before--taught me to understand, and I
jumped up, thinking, "He sees something that he knows: he is pleased."
As I walked over to him, he looked back at me with his mouth open and
tongue out, his ears still down and tail wagging--he was smiling all
over, in his own way.  I looked out over his head, and there, about
three hundred yards off, were the oxen peacefully grazing and the herd
boy in his red coat lounging along behind them.

Shame at losing myself and dread of the others' chaff kept me very
quiet, and all they knew for many months was that we had had a long
fruitless chase after koodoo and hard work to get back in time.

I had had my lesson, and did not require to have it rubbed in and be
roasted as Buggins had been.  Only Jock and I knew all about it; but
once or twice there were anxious nervous moments when it looked as if we
were not the only ones in the secret.  The big Zulu driver, Jim
Makokel'--always interested in hunting and all that concerned Jock--
asked me as we were inspanning what I had fired the last two shots at;
and as I pretended not to hear or to notice the question, he went on to
say how he had told the other boys that it must have been a klipspringer
on a high rock or a monkey or a bird because the bullets had whistled
over the waggons.  I told him to inspan and not talk so much, and moved
round to the other side of the waggon.

That night I slept hard, but woke up once dreaming that several lions
were looking down at me from the top of a big flat rock and Jock was
keeping them off.

Jock was in his usual place beside me, lying against my blankets.  I
gave him an extra pat for the dream, thinking, "Good old boy; we know
all about it, you and I, and we're not going to tell.  But we've learned
some things that we won't forget."  And as I dropped off to sleep again
I felt a few feeble sleepy pats against my leg, and knew it was Jock's
tail wagging "Good night."



Not all our days were spent in excitement--far far from it.  For six or
seven months the rains were too heavy, the heat too great, the grass too
rank, and the fever too bad in the Bushveld for any one to do any good
there; so that for more than half of the year we had no hunting to speak
of, as there was not much to be done above the Berg.  But even during
the hunting season there were many off-days and long spells when we
never fired a shot.  The work with the waggons was hard when we had full
loads, the trekking slow and at night, so that there was always
something to do in the daytime--repairs to be done, oxen to be doctored,
grass and water to be looked for, and so on; and we had to make up sleep
when we could.  Even when the sport was good and the bag satisfactory
there was usually nothing new to tell about it.  So Jock and I had many
a long spell when there was no hunting, many a bad day when we worked
hard but had no sport, and many a good day when we got what we were
after and nothing happened that would interest any one else.  Every hunt
was exciting and interesting for us, even those in which we got nothing;
indeed some of the most interesting were those in which the worst
disappointments occurred, when after hard work and long chases the game
escaped us.  To tell all that happened would be to tell the same old
story many times over; but indeed, it would not be possible to tell all,
for there were some things--the most interesting of all, perhaps--which
only Jock knew.

After the fight with the duiker there was never any doubt as to what he
would do if allowed to follow up a wounded animal.  It made a deal of
difference in the hunting to know that he could be trusted to find it
and hold on or bay it until I could get up.  The bush was so thick that
it was not possible to see more than a very few hundred yards at best,
and the country was so dry and rough that if a wounded animal once got
out of sight only an expert tracker had any chance of finding it again.
Jock soon showed himself to be better than the best of trackers, for
besides never losing the trail he would either pull down the buck or, if
too big for that, attack and worry even the biggest of them to such an
extent that they would have to keep turning on him to protect themselves
and thus give me the chance to catch up.

But the first result of my confidence in him was some perfectly hopeless
chases.  It is natural enough to give oneself the benefit of any doubt;
the enthusiastic beginner always does so, and in his case the lack of
experience often creates a doubt where none should have existed; and the
doubt is often very welcome, helping him out with explanations of the
unflattering facts.  For the listener it is, at best and worst, only
amusing or tiresome; but for the person concerned it is different--for,
as Rocky said, `It don't fool any one worth speakin' of 'cept yerself.'
And `there's the rub.'  Whenever a bullet struck with a thud, and no
dust appeared to show that it had hit the ground, I thought that it must
have wounded the buck; and once you get the idea that the buck is hit,
all sorts of reasons appear in support of it.  There is hardly anything
that the buck can do which does not seem to you to prove that it is
wounded.  It bounds into the air, races off suddenly, or goes away quite
slowly; it switches its tail or shakes its head; it stops to look back,
or does not stop at all; the spoor looks awkward and scrappy; the rust
on the grass looks like dry blood.  If you start with a theory instead
of weighing the evidence all these things will help to prove that
theory: they will, in fact, mean exactly what you want them to mean.
You `put up a job on yerself'--to quote Rocky again--and with the sweat
of your brow and vexation of spirit you have to work that job out.

Poor old Jock had a few hard chases after animals which I thought were
wounded but were not hit at all--not many, however, for he soon got hold
of the right idea and was a better judge than his master.  He went off
the instant he was sent, but if there was nothing wounded--that is, if
he could not pick up a `blood spoor'--he would soon show it by casting
across the trail, instead of following hard on it; and I knew then there
was nothing in it.  Often he would come back of his own accord, and
there was something quite peculiar in his look when he returned from
these wild-goose chases that seemed to say, "No good: you were quite
wrong.  You missed the whole lot of them."  He would come up to me with
his mouth wide-open and tongue out, a bit blown, and stand still with
his front legs wide apart, looking up at me with that nothing-in-it sort
of look in his eyes and not a movement in his ears or tail and never a
turn of his head to show the least interest in anything else.  I got to
know that look quite well; and to me it meant, "Well, that job was a
failure--finished and done for.  Now is there anything else you can
think of?"

What always seemed to me so curious and full of meaning was that he
never once looked back in the direction of the unwounded game, but
seemed to put them out of his mind altogether as of no further interest.
It was very different when he got on to the trail of a wounded buck and
I had to call him off, as was sometimes necessary when the chase looked
hopeless or it was too late to go further.  He would obey, of course--no
amount of excitement made him forget that; but he would follow me in a
sort of sideways trot, looking back over his shoulder all the time, and
whenever there was a stop, turning right round and staring intently in
the direction of the game with his little tail moving steadily from side
to side and his hind legs crouched as if ready to spring off the instant
he got permission.

Twice I thought he was lost for ever through following wounded game.
The first occasion was also the first time that we got among the impala
and saw them in numbers.  There is no more beautiful and fascinating
sight than that of a troop of impala or springbuck really on the move
and jumping in earnest.  The height and distance that they clear is
simply incredible.  The impala's greater size and its delicate spiral
horns give it a special distinction; the springbuck's brilliant white
and red, and the divided crest which fans out along the spine when it is
excited, are unique.  But who can say which of the many beautiful
antelopes is the most beautiful?  The oldest hunter will tell you of
first one, then another, and then another, as they come to mind, just as
he saw them in some supreme unforgettable moment; and each at that
moment has seemed quite the most beautiful animal in the world.

It is when they are jumping that the impala are seen at their best.  No
one knows what they really can do, for there are no fences in their
country by which to judge or guess, and as they run in herds it is
practically impossible ever to find the take-off or landing-place of any
single animal.  Once when hunting along the Wenhla Mohali River we
managed to turn seven of them into an old run ending in a rocky gorge;
but suspecting danger they would not face the natural outlet, and
turning up the slope cleared a barrier of thick thorn scrub and escaped.
When we looked at the place afterwards we found that the bushes were
nine feet high.  We were not near enough to see whether they touched the
tops or cleared them; all we were sure of was that they did not hesitate
for a second to face a jump nine feet high at the top of a sharp rise,
and that all seven did it in follow-my-leader order with the most
perfect ease and grace.

Every hunter has seen a whole troop, old and young, following the
example of the leader, clear a road or donga twenty feet wide,
apparently in an effortless stride.  It is a fine sight, and the steady
stream of buck makes an arch of red and white bodies over the road
looking like the curve of a great wave.  You stand and watch in
speechless admiration; and the first gasp at a glorious leap is followed
by steady silent wonder at the regularity of the numbers.  Then suddenly
you see one animal--for no apparent reason: it may be fright or it may
be frolic--take off away back behind the others, shoot up, and sail high
above the arch of all the rest, and with head erect and feet comfortably
gathered, land far beyond them--the difference between ease and effort,
and oh! the perfect grace of both!  Something is wrung from you--a word,
a gasp--and you stand breathless with wonder and admiration until the
last one is gone.  You have forgotten to shoot; but they have left you
something better than a trophy, something which time will only glorify--
a picture that in daylight or in dark will fill your mind whenever you
hear the name Impala.

Something of this I carried away from my first experience among them.
There were a few minutes of complete bewilderment, a scene of the
wildest confusion, and flashes of incident that go to make a great
picture which it is impossible to forget.  But then there followed many
hours of keen anxiety when I believed that Jock was gone for ever; and
it was long before that day found its place in the gallery of happy

We had gone out after breakfast, striking well away from the main road
until we got among the thicker thorns where there was any amount of
fresh spoor and we were quite certain to find a troop sooner or later.
The day was so still, the ground so dry, and the bush so thick that the
chances were the game would hear us before we could get near enough to
see them.  Several times I heard sounds of rustling bush or feet
cantering away: something had heard us and made off unseen; so I dropped
down into the sandy bed of a dry donga and used it as a stalking trench.
From this it was easy enough to have a good look around every hundred
yards or so without risk of being heard or seen.  We had been going
along cautiously in this way for some time when, peering over the bank,
I spied a single impala half hidden by a scraggy bush.  It seemed queer
that there should be only one, as their habit is to move in troops; but
there was nothing else to be seen; indeed it was only the flicker of an
ear on this one that had caught my eye.  Nothing else in the land moved.

Jock climbed the bank also, following so closely that he bumped against
my heels, and when I lay flat actually crawled over my legs to get up
beside me and see what was on.  Little by little he got into the way of
imitating all I did, so that after a while it was hardly necessary to
say a word or make a sign to him.  He lay down beside me and raised his
head to look just as he saw me do.  He was all excitement, trembling
like a wet spaniel on a cold day, and instead of looking steadily at the
impala as I was doing and as he usually did, he was looking here there
and everywhere; it seemed almost as if he was looking at things--not for
them.  It was my comfortable belief at the moment that he had not yet
spotted the buck, but was looking about anxiously to find out what was
interesting me.  It turned out, as usual, that he had seen a great deal
more than his master had.

The stalking looked very easy, as a few yards further up the donga there
was excellent cover in some dense thorns, behind which we could walk
boldly across open ground to within easy range of the buck and get a
clear shot.  We reached the cover all right, but I had not taken three
steps into the open space beyond before there was a rushing and
scrambling on every side of me.  The place was a whirlpool of racing and
plunging impala; they came from every side and went in every direction
as though caught suddenly in an enclosure and, mad with fear and
bewilderment, were trying to find a way out.  How many there were it was
quite impossible to say: the bush was alive with them; and the dust they
kicked up, the noise of their feet, their curious sneezy snorts, and
their wild confusion completely bewildered me.  Not one stood still.
Never for a moment could I see any single animal clearly enough or long
enough to fire at it; another would cross it; a bush would cover it as I
aimed; or it would leap into the air, clearing bushes, bucks and
everything in its way, and disappear again in the moving mass.  They
seemed to me to whirl like leaves in a wind eddy: my eyes could not
follow them and my brain swam as I looked.

It was a hot day; there was no breeze at all; and probably the herd had
been resting after their morning feed and drink when we came upon them.
By creeping up along the donga we had managed to get unobserved right
into the middle of the dozing herd, so they were literally on every side
of us.  At times it looked as if they were bound to stampede over us and
simply trample us down in their numbers; for in their panic they saw
nothing, and not one appeared to know what or where the danger was.
Time and again, as for part of a second I singled one out and tried to
aim, others would come racing straight for us, compelling me to switch
round to face them, only to find them swerve with a dart or a mighty
bound when within a few paces of me.

What Jock was doing during that time I do not know.  It was all such a
whirl of excitement and confusion that there are only a few clear
impressions left on my mind.  One is of a buck coming through the air
right at me, jumping over the backs of two others racing across my
front.  I can see now the sudden wriggle of its body and the look of
terror in its eyes when it saw me and realised that it was going to land
almost at my feet.  I tried to jump aside, but it was not necessary:
with one touch on the ground it shot slantingly past me like a ricochet
bullet.  Another picture that always comes back is that of a splendid
ram clearing the first of the dense thorn bushes that were to have been
my cover in stalking.  He flew over it outlined against the sky in the
easiest most graceful and most perfect curve imaginable.  It came back
to me afterwards that he was eight or ten yards from me, and yet I had
to look up into the sky to see his white chest and gracefully gathered
feet as he cleared the thorn bush like a soaring bird.

One shot, out of three or four fired in desperation as they were melting
away, hit something; the unmistakable thud of the bullet told me so.
That time it was the real thing, and when you hear the real thing you
cannot mistake it.  The wounded animal went off with the rest and I
followed, with Jock ahead of me hot on the trail.  A hundred yards
further on where Jock with his nose to the ground had raced along
between some low stones and a marula tree I came to a stop--bush all
round me, not a living thing in sight, and all as silent as the grave.
On one of the smooth hot stones there was a big drop of blood, and a few
yards on I found a couple more.  Here and there along the spoor there
were smears on the long yellow grass, and it was clear enough, judging
by the height of the blood-marks from the ground, that the impala was
wounded in the body--probably far back, as there were no frothy bubbles
to show a lung shot.  I knew that it would be a long chase unless Jock
could head the buck off and bay it; but unless he could do this at once,
he was so silent in his work that there was little chance of finding
him.  The trail became more and more difficult to follow; the blood was
less frequent, and the hot sun dried it so quickly that it was more than
I could do to pick it out from the red streaks on the grass and
many-coloured leaves.  So I gave it up and sat down to smoke and wait.

Half an hour passed, and still no Jock.  Then I wandered about whistling
and calling for him--calling until the sound of my own voice became
quite uncanny, the only sound in an immense silence.  Two hours passed
in useless calling and listening, searching and waiting, and then I gave
it up altogether and made back for the waggons, trying to hope against
my real conviction that Jock had struck the road somewhere and had
followed it to the outspan, instead of coming back on his own trail
through the bush to me.

But there was no Jock at the waggons; and my heart sank, although I was
not surprised.  It was nearly four hours since he had disappeared, and
it was as sure as anything could be that something extraordinary must
have happened or he would have come back to me long before this.  No one
at the waggons had seen him since we started out together; and there was
nothing to be done but to wait and see what would happen.  It was
perfectly useless to look for him: if alive and well, he was better able
to find his way than the best tracker that ever lived; if dead or
injured and unable to move, there was not one chance in a million of
finding him.

There was only one kaffir whom Jock would take any notice of or would
allow to touch him--a great big Zulu named Jim Makokel'.  Jim was one of
the real fighting Zulu breed; and the pride he took in Jock, and the
sort of partnership that he claimed in tastes, disposition and exploits,
began the day Jock fought the table-leg and grew stronger and stronger
to the end.  Jim became Jock's devoted champion, and more than once, as
will be seen, showed that he would face man or beast to stand by him
when he needed help.

This day when I returned to the waggons Jim was sitting with the other
drivers in the group round the big pot of porridge.  I saw him give one
quick look my way and heard him say sharply to the others, "Where is the
dog?  Where is Jock?"  He stood there looking at me with a big wooden
spoon full of porridge stopped on the way to his mouth.  In a few
minutes they all knew what had happened; the other boys took it calmly,
saying composedly that the dog would find his way back.  But Jim was not
calm: it was not his nature.  At one moment he would agree with them,
swamping them with a flood of reasons why Jock, the best dog in the
world, would be sure to come back; and the next--hot with restless
excitement--would picture all that the dog might have been doing and all
that he might still have to face, and then break off to proclaim loudly
that every one ought to go out and hunt for him.  Jim was not practical
or reasonable--he was too excitable for that; but he was very loyal, and
it was his way to show his feelings by doing something--generally and
preferably by fighting some one.  Knowing only too well how useless it
would be to search for Jock, I lay down under the waggon to rest and

After half an hour of this Jim could restrain himself no longer.  He
came over to where I lay and with a look of severe disapproval and
barely controlled indignation, asked me for a gun, saying that he
himself meant to go out and look for Jock.  It would be nearer the mark
to say that he demanded a gun.  He was so genuinely anxious and so
indignant at what he considered my indifference that it was impossible
to be angry; and I let him talk away to me and at me in his exciting
bullying way.  He would take no answer and listen to no reason; so
finally to keep him quiet I gave him the shot gun, and off he went,
muttering his opinions of every one else--a great springy striding
picture of fierce resolution.

He came back nearly three hours later, silent, morose, hot and dusty.
He put the gun down beside me without a word--just a click of disgust;
and as he strode across to his waggon, called roughly to one of the
drivers for the drinking water.  Lifting the bucket to his mouth he
drank like an ox and slammed it down again without a word of thanks;
then sat down in the shade of the waggon, filled his pipe, and smoked in

The trekking hour came and passed; but we did not move.  The sun went
down, and in the quiet of the evening we heard the first jackal's
yapping--the first warning of the night.  There were still lions and
tigers in those parts, and any number of hyenas and wild dogs, and the
darker it grew and the more I thought of it, the more hopeless seemed
Jock's chance of getting through a night in the bush trying to work his
way back to the waggons.

It was almost dark when I was startled by a yell from Jim Makokel', and
looking round, saw him bound out into the road shouting, "He has come,
he has come!  What did I tell you?"  He ran out to Jock, stooping to pat
and talk to him, and then in a lower voice and with growing excitement
went on rapidly, "See the blood!  See it!  He has fought: he has killed!
Dog of all dogs!  Jock, Jock!" and his savage song of triumph broke off
in a burst of rough tenderness, and he called the dog's name five or six
times with every note of affection and welcome in his deep voice.  Jock
took no notice of Jim's dancing out to meet him, nor of his shouts,
endearments and antics; slowing his tired trot down to a walk, he came
straight on to me, flickered his ears a bit, wagged his tail cordially,
and gave my hand a splashy lick as I patted him.  Then he turned round
in the direction he had just come from, looked steadily out, cocked his
ears well up, and moved his tail slowly from side to side.  For the next
half-hour or so he kept repeating this action every few minutes; but
even without that I knew that it had been no wild-goose chase, and that
miles away in the bush there was something lying dead which he could
show me if I would but follow him back again to see.

What had happened in the eight hours since he had dashed off in pursuit
can only be guessed.  That he had pulled down the impala and killed it
seemed certain--and what a chase and what a fight it must have been to
take all that time!  The buck could not have been so badly wounded in
the body as to be disabled or it would have died in far less time than
that: then, what a fight it must have been to kill an animal six or
eight times his own weight and armed with such horns and hoofs!  But was
it only the impala? or had the hyenas and wild dogs followed up the
trail, as they so often do, and did Jock have to fight his way through
them too?

He was hollow-flanked and empty, parched with thirst, and so blown that
his breath still caught in suffocating chokes.  He was covered with
blood and sand; his beautiful golden coat was dark and stained; his
white front had disappeared; and there on his chest and throat, on his
jaws and ears, down his front legs even to the toes, the blood was caked
on him--mostly black and dried but some still red and sticky.  He was a
little lame in one fore leg, but there was no cut or swelling to show
the cause.  There was only one mark to be seen: over his right eye there
was a bluish line where the hair had been shaved off clean, leaving the
skin smooth and unbroken.  What did it?  Was it horn, hoof, tooth, or--
what?  Only Jock knew.

Hovering round and over me, pacing backwards and forwards between the
waggons like a caged animal, Jim, growing more and more excited, filled
the air with his talk his shouts and savage song.  Wanting to help, but
always in the way, ordering and thrusting the other boys here and there,
he worked himself up into a wild frenzy: the Zulu fighting blood on fire
and he `saw red' everywhere.

I called for water.  "Water!" roared Jim, "bring water"; and glaring
round he made a spring--stick in hand--at the nearest kaffir.  The boy
fled in terror, with Jim after him for a few paces, and brought a bucket
of water.  Jim snatched it from him and with a resounding thump on the
ribs sent the unlucky kaffir sprawling on the ground.  Jock took the
water in great gulpy bites broken by pauses to get his breath again; and
Jim paced up and down--talking, talking, talking!  Talking to me, to the
others, to the kaffirs, to Jock, to the world at large, to the heavens,
and to the dead.  His eyes glared like a wild beast's and gradually
little seams of froth gathered in the corners of his mouth as he poured
out his cataract of words, telling of all Jock had done and might have
done and would yet do; comparing him with the fighting heroes of his own
race, and wandering off into vivid recitals of single episodes and great
battles; seizing his sticks, shouting his war cries, and going through
all the mimicry of fight with the wild frenzy of one possessed.  Time
after time I called him and tried to quiet him; but he was beyond

Once before he had broken out like this.  I had asked him something
about the Zulu war; and that had started a flood of memories and
excitement.  In the midst of some description I asked why they killed
the children; and he turned his glaring eyes on me a and said, "Inkos,
you are my Inkos; but you are white.  If we fight to-morrow, I will kill
you.  You are good to me, you have saved me; but if our own king says
`Kill!' we kill!  We see red; we kill all that lives.  I must kill you,
your wife, your mother, your children, your horses, your oxen, your dog,
the fowls that run with the waggons--all that lives I kill.  The blood
must run."  And I believed him; for that was the Zulu fighting spirit.
So this time I knew it was useless to order or to talk: he was beyond
control, and the fit must run its course.

The night closed in and there was quiet once more.  The flames of the
camp fires had died down; the big thorn logs had burnt into glowing
coals like the pink crisp hearts of giant water-melons; Jock lay
sleeping, tired out, but even in his sleep came little spells of panting
now and then, like the after-sobs of a child that has cried itself to
sleep; we lay rolled in our blankets, and no sound came from where the
kaffirs slept.  But Jim--only Jim--sat on his rough three-legged stool,
elbows on knees and hands clasped together, staring intently into the
coals.  The fit worked slowly off, and his excitement died gradually
away; now and then there was a fresh burst, but always milder and at
longer intervals, as you may see it in a dying fire or at the end of a
great storm; slowly but surely he subsided until at last there were only
occasional mutterings of "Ow, Jock!" followed by the Zulu click, the
expressive shake of the head, and that appreciative half grunt, half
chuckle, by which they pay tribute to what seems truly wonderful.  He
wanted no sleep that night: he sat on, waiting for the morning trek,
staring into the red coals, and thinking of the bygone glories of his
race in the days of the mighty Chaka.

That was Jim, when the fit was on him--transported by some trifling and
unforeseen incident from the hum-drum of the road to the life he once
had lived with splendid recklessness.



Jock was lost twice: that is to say, he was lost to me, and, as I
thought, for ever.  It came about both times through his following up
wounded animals and leaving me behind, and happened in the days when our
hunting was all done on foot; when I could afford a horse and could keep
pace with him that difficulty did not trouble us.  The experience with
the impala had made me very careful not to let him go unless I felt sure
that the game was hard hit and that he would be able to pull it down or
bay it.  But it is not always easy to judge that.  A broken leg shows at
once; but a body shot is very difficult to place, and animals shot
through the lungs, and even through the lower part of the heart, often
go away at a cracking pace and are out of sight in no time, perhaps to
keep it up for miles, perhaps to drop dead within a few minutes.

After that day with the impala we had many good days together and many
hard ones: we had our disappointments, but we had our triumphs; and we
were both getting to know our way about by degrees.  Buck of many kinds
had fallen to us; but so far as I was concerned there was one
disappointment that was not to be forgotten.  The picture of that koodoo
bull as he appeared for the last time looking over the ant-heap the day
we were lost was always before me.  I could not hear the name or see the
spoor of koodoo without a pang of regret and the thought that never
again would such a chance occur.  Koodoo, like other kinds of game, were
not to be found everywhere; they favoured some localities more than
others, and when we passed through their known haunts chances of smaller
game were often neglected in the hope of coming across the koodoo.

I could not give up whole days to hunting--for we had to keep moving
along with the waggons all the time--or it would have been easy enough
in many parts to locate the koodoo and make sure of getting a good bag.
As it was, on three or four occasions we did come across them, and once
I got a running shot, but missed.  This was not needed to keep my
interest in them alive, but it made me keener than ever.  Day by day I
went out always hoping to get my chance, and when at last the chance did
come it was quite in accordance with the experience of many others that
it was not in the least expected.

The great charm of Bushveld hunting is its variety: you never know what
will turn up next--the only certainty being that it will not be what you
are expecting.

The herd boy came noon to say that there buck feeding among the oxen
only a couple of hundred yards away.  He had been quite close to it, he
said, and it was very tame.  Game, so readily alarmed by the sight of
white men, will often take no notice of natives, allowing them to
approach to very close quarters.  They are also easily stalked under
cover of cattle or horses, and much more readily approached on horseback
than on foot.  The presence of other animals seems to give them
confidence or to excite mild curiosity without alarm, and thus distract
attention from the man.  In this case the bonny little red-brown fellow
was not a bit scared; he maintained his presence of mind admirably; from
time to time he turned his head our way and, with his large but shapely
and most sensitive ears thrown forward examined us frankly while he
moved slightly one way or another so as to keep under cover of the oxen
and busily continue his browsing.

In and out among some seventy head of cattle we played hide-and-seek for
quite a while--I not daring to fire for fear of hitting one of the
bullocks--until at last he found himself manoeuvred out of the troop;
and then without giving me a chance he was off into the bush in a few
frisky skips.  I followed quietly, knowing that as he was on the feed
and not scared he would not go far.

Moving along silently under good cover I reached a thick scrubby bush
and peered over the top of it to search the grass under the surrounding
thorn-trees for the little red-brown form.  I was looking about low down
in the russety grass--for he was only about twice the size of Jock, and
not easy to spot--when a movement on a higher level caught my eye.  It
was just the flip of a fly-tickled ear; but it was a movement where all
else was still, and instantly the form of a koodoo cow appeared before
me as a picture is thrown on a screen by a magic-lantern.  There it
stood within fifty yards, the soft grey-and-white looking still softer
in the shadow of the thorns, but as clear to me--and as still--as a
figure carved in stone.  The stem of a mimosa hid the shoulders, but all
the rest was plainly visible as it stood there utterly unconscious of
danger.  The tree made a dead shot almost impossible, but the risk of
trying for another position was too great, and I fired.  The thud of the
bullet and the tremendous bound of the koodoo straight up in the air
told that the shot had gone home; but these things were for a time
forgotten in the surprise that followed.  At the sound of the shot
twenty other koodoo jumped into life and sight before me.  The one I had
seen and shot was but one of a herd all dozing peacefully in the shade,
and strangest of all, it was the one that was farthest from me.  To the
right and left of this one, at distances from fifteen to thirty yards
from me, the magnificent creatures had been standing, and I had not seen
them; it was the flicker of this one's ear alone that had caught my eye.
My bewilderment was complete when I saw the big bull of the herd start
off twenty yards on my right front pass away like a streak in a few
sweep-strides.  It was a matter of seconds and they were all out of
sight--all except the wounded one, which had turned off from the others.
For all the flurry and confusion I had not lost sight of her, and
noting her tucked-up appearance and shortened strides set Jock on her
trail, believing that she would be down in a few minutes.

It is not necessary to go over it all again: it was much the same as the
impala chase.  I came back tired, disappointed and beaten, and without
Jock.  It was only after darkness set in that things began to look
serious.  When it came to midnight, with the camp wrapped in silence and
in sleep, and there was still no sign of Jock, things looked very black

I heard his panting breath before it was possible to see anything.  It
was past one o'clock when he returned.


As we had missed the night trek to wait for Jock I decided to stay on
where we were until the next evening and to have another try for the
wounded koodoo, with the chance of coming across the troop again.

By daybreak Jock did not seem much the worse for his night's
adventures--whatever they were.  There were no marks of blood on him
this time; there were some scratches which might have been caused by
thorns during the chase, and odd-looking grazes on both hind quarters
near the hip-bones, as though he had been roughly gravelled there.  He
seemed a little stiff, and flinched when I pressed his sides and
muscles, but he was as game as ever when he saw the rifle taken down.

The koodoo had been shot through the body, and even without being run to
death by Jock must have died in the night, or have lain down and become
too cold and stiff to move.  If not discovered by wild animals there was
a good chance of finding it untouched in the early morning; but after
sunrise every minute's delay meant fresh risk from the aasvogels.  There
is very little which, if left uncovered, will escape their eyes.  You
may leave your buck for help to bring the meat in, certain from the most
careful scrutiny that there is not one of these creatures in sight, and
return in half an hour to find nothing but a few bones, the horns and
hoofs, a rag of skin, and a group of disgusting gorged vultures
squatting on a patch of ground all smeared, torn and feather-strewn from
their voracious struggles.

In the winter sky unrelieved by the least fleck of cloud--a dome of
spotless polished steel--nothing, you would think, can move unseen.  Yet
they are there.  In the early morning, from their white-splashed eeries
on some distant mountain they slide off like a launching ship into their
sea of blue, and, striking the currents of the upper air, sweep round
and upwards in immense circles, their huge motionless wings carrying
them higher and higher until they are lost to human sight.  Lie on your
back in some dense shade where no side-lights strike in, but where an
opening above forms a sort of natural telescope to the sky, and you may
see tiny specks where nothing could be seen before.  Take your
field-glasses: the specks are vultures circling up on high!  Look again,
and far, far above you will see still other specks; and for aught you
know, there may be others still beyond.  How high are they?  And what
can they see from there?  Who knows?  But this is sure, that within a
few minutes scores will come swooping down in great spiral rushes where
not one was visible before.  My own belief is that they watch each
other, tier above tier away into the limitless heavens--watching
jealously, as hungry dogs do, for the least suspicious sign--to swoop
down and share the spoil.

In the dewy cool of the morning we soon reached the place where Jock had
left me behind the evening before; and from that on he led the way.  It
was much slower work then; as far as I was concerned, there was nothing
to guide me, and it was impossible to know what he was after.  Did he
understand that it was not fresh game but the wounded koodoo that I
wanted?  And, if so, was he following the scent of the old chase or
merely what he might remember of the way he had gone?  It seemed
impossible that scent could lie in that dry country for twelve hours;
yet it was clearly nose more than eyes that guided him.  He went ahead
soberly and steadily, and once when he stopped completely, to sniff at a
particular tuft of grass, I found out what was helping him.  The grass
was well streaked with blood: quite dry, it is true; still it was blood.

A mile or so on we checked again where the grass was trampled and the
ground scored with spoor.  The heavy spoor was all in a ring four or
five yards in diameter; outside this the grass was also flattened, and
there I found a dog's footprints.  But it had no further interest for
Jock; while I was examining it he picked up the trail and trotted on.
We came upon four or five other rings where they had fought.  The last
of these was curiously divided by a fallen tree, and it puzzled me to
guess how they could have made a circle with a good-sized trunk some two
feet high intersecting it.  I examined the dead tree and found a big
smear of blood and a lot of coarse greyish hair on it.  Evidently the
koodoo had backed against it whilst facing Jock and had fallen over it,
renewing the fight on the other side.  There were also some golden hairs
sticking on the stumpy end of a broken branch, which may have had
something to do with Jock's scraped sides.

Then for a matter of a hundred yards or more it looked as if they had
fought and tumbled all the way.  Jock was some distance ahead of me,
trotting along quietly, when I saw him look up, give that rare growling
bark of his--one of suppressed but real fury--lower his head, and
charge.  Then came heavy flapping and scrambling and the wind of huge
wings, as twenty or thirty great lumbering aasvogels flopped along the
ground with Jock dashing furiously about among them--taking flying leaps
at them as they rose, and his jaws snapping like rat-traps as he missed

On a little open flat of hard-baked sand lay the stripped frame of the
koodoo: the head and leg-bones were missing; meat-stripped fragments
were scattered all about; fifty yards away among some bushes Jock found
the head; and still further afield were remains of skin and thigh-bones
crushed almost beyond recognition.

No aasvogel had done this: it was hyenas' work.  The high-shouldered
slinking brute, with jaws like a stone-crusher, alone cracks bones like
those and bigger ones which even the lion cannot tackle.  I walked back
a little way and found the scene of the last stand, all harrowed bare;
but there was no spoor of koodoo or of Jock to be seen there--only
prints innumerable of wild dogs, hyenas and jackals, and some traces of
where the carcase, no doubt already half-eaten, had been dragged by them
in the effort to tear it asunder.

Jock had several times shown that he strongly objected to any
interference with his quarry; other dogs, kaffirs, and even white men,
had suffered or been badly scared for rashly laying hands on what he had
pulled down.  Without any doubt he had expected to find the koodoo there
and had dealt with the aasvogels as trespassers; otherwise he would not
have tackled them without word from me.  It was also sure that until
past midnight he had been there with the koodoo, watching or fighting.
Then when had the hyenas and wild dogs come?  That was the question I
would have given much to have had answered.  But only Jock knew that!

I looked at him.  The mane on his neck and shoulders which had risen at
the sight of the vultures was not flat yet; he was sniffing about slowly
and carefully on the spoor of the hyenas and wild dogs; and he looked
`fight' all over.  But what it all meant was beyond me; I could only
guess--just as you will--what had happened out in the silent ghostly
bush that night.



Jock had learned one very clever trick in pulling down wounded animals.
It often happens when you income unexpectedly upon game that they are
off before you see them, and the only chance you have of getting
anything is with a running shot.  If they go straight from you the shot
is not a very difficult one, although you see nothing but the lifting
and falling hind quarters as they canter away; and a common result of
such a shot is the breaking of one of the hind legs between the hip and
the hock.  Jock made his discovery while following a rietbuck which I
had wounded in this way.  He had made several tries at its nose and
throat, but the buck was going too strongly and was out of reach;
moreover it would not stop or turn when he headed it, but charged
straight on, bounding over him.  In trying once more for the throat he
cannoned against the buck's shoulder and was sent rolling yards away.
This seemed to madden him: racing up behind he flew at the dangling leg,
caught it at the shin, and thrusting his feet well out, simply dragged
until the buck slowed down, and then began furiously tugging sideways.
The crossing of the legs brought the wounded animal down immediately and
Jock had it by the throat before it could rise again.

Every one who is good at anything has some favourite method or device of
his own: that was Jock's.  It may have come to him, as it comes to many,
by accident; but having once got it, he perfected it and used it
whenever it was possible.  Only once he made a mistake; and he paid for
it--very nearly with his life.

He had already used this device successfully several times, but so far
only with the smaller buck.  This day he did what I should have thought
to be impossible for a dog of three or four times his size.  I left the
scene of torn carcase and crunched bones, consumed by regrets and
disappointment; each fresh detail only added to my feeling of disgust,
but Jock did not seem to mind; he jumped out briskly as soon as I
started walking in earnest, as though he recognised that we were making
a fresh start, and he began to look forward immediately.

The little bare flat where the koodoo had fallen for the last time was
at the head of one of those depressions which collect the waters of the
summer floods and, changing gradually into shallow valleys, are
eventually scoured out and become the dongas--dry in winter but full
charged with muddy flood in summer--which drain the Bushveld to its
rivers.  Here and there where an impermeable rock formation crosses
these channels there are deep pools which, except in years of drought,
last all through the winter; and these are the drinking-places of the
game.  I followed this one down for a couple of miles without any
definite purpose until the sight of some greener and denser wild figs
suggested that there might be water, and perhaps a rietbuck or a duiker
near by.  As we reached the trees Jock showed unmistakable signs of
interest in something, and with the utmost caution I moved from tree to
tree in the shady grove towards where it seemed the water-hole might be.

There were bushy wild plums flanking the grove, and beyond them the
ordinary scattered thorns.  As I reached this point, and stopped to look
out between the bushes on to the more open ground, a koodoo cow walked
quietly up the slope from the water, but before there was time to raise
the rifle her easy stride had carried her behind a small mimosa tree.  I
took one quick step out to follow her up and found myself face to face
at less than a dozen yards with a grand koodoo bull.  It is impossible
to convey in words any real idea of the scene and how things happened.
Of course, it was only for a fraction of a second that we looked
straight into each other's eyes; then, as if by magic, he was round and
going from me with the overwhelming rush of speed and strength and
weight combined.  Yet it is the first sight that remains with me: the
proud head, the huge spiral horns, and the wide soft staring eyes--
before the wildness of panic had stricken them.  The picture seems
photographed on eye and brain, never to be forgotten.  A whirlwind of
dust and leaves marked his course, and through it I fired, unsteadied by
excitement and hardly able to see.  Then the right hind leg swung out,
and the great creature sank for a moment, almost to the ground; and the
sense of triumph, the longed for and unexpected success, `went to my
head' like a rush of blood.

There had been no time to aim, and the shot--a real snap shot--was not
at all a bad one.  It was after that that the natural effect of such a
meeting and such a chance began to tell.  Thinking it all out beforehand
does not help much, for things never happen as they are expected to; and
even months of practice among the smaller kinds will not ensure a steady
nerve when you just come face to face with big game--there seems to be
too much at stake.

I fired again as the koodoo recovered himself, but he was then seventy
or eighty yards away and partly hidden at times by trees and scrub.  He
struck up the slope, following the line of the troop through the
scattered thorns, and there, running hard and dropping quickly to my
knee for steadier aim, I fired again and again--but each time a longer
shot and more obscured by the intervening bush; and no tell-tale thud
came back to cheer me on.

Forgetting the last night's experience, forgetting everything except how
we had twice chased and twice lost them, seeing only another and the
grandest prize slipping away, I sent Jock on and followed as fast as I
could.  Once more the koodoo came in sight--just a chance at four
hundred yards as he reached an open space on rising ground.  Jock was
already closing up, but still unseen, and the noble old fellow turned
full broadside to me as he stopped to look back.  Once more I knelt,
gripping hard and holding my breath to snatch a moment's steadiness, and
fired; but I missed again, and as the bullet struck under him he plunged
forward and disappeared over the rise at the moment that Jock, dashing
out from the scrub, reached his heels.

The old Martini carbine had one bad fault; even I could not deny that;
years of rough and careless treatment in all sorts of weather--for it
was only a discarded old Mounted Police weapon--had told on it, and both
in barrel and breech it was well pitted with rust scars.  One result of
this was that it was always jamming, and unless the cartridges were kept
well greased the empty shells would stick and the ejector fail to work;
and this was almost sure to happen when the carbine became hot from
quick firing.  It jammed now, and fearing to lose sight of the chase I
dared not stop a second, but ran on, struggling from time to time to
wrench the breach open.

Reaching the place where they had disappeared, I saw with intense relief
and excitement Jock and the koodoo having it out less than a hundred
yards away.  The koodoo's leg was broken right up in the ham, and it was
a terrible handicap for an animal so big and heavy, but his nimbleness
and quickness were astonishing.  Using the sound hind leg as a pivot he
swung round, always facing his enemy; Jock was in and out, here, there
and everywhere, as a buzzing fly torments one on a hot day; and indeed,
to the koodoo just then he was the fly and nothing more; he could only
annoy his big enemy, and was playing with his life to do it.  Sometimes
he tried to get round; sometimes pretended to charge straight in,
stopping himself with all four feet spread--just out of reach; then like
a red streak he would fly through the air with a snap for the koodoo's
nose.  It was a fight for life and a grand sight; for the koodoo, in
spite of his wound, easily held his own.  No doubt he had fought out
many a life and death struggle to win and hold his place as lord of the
herd and knew every trick of attack and defence.  Maybe too he was
blazing with anger and contempt for this persistent little gad-fly that
worried him so and kept out of reach.  Sometimes he snorted and feinted
to charge; at other times backed slowly, giving way to draw the enemy
on; then with a sudden lunge the great horns swished like a scythe with
a tremendous reach out, easily covering the spot where Jock had been a
fraction of a second before.  There were pauses too in which he watched
his tormentor steadily, with occasional impatient shakes of the head,
or, raising it to full height, towered up a monument of splendid and
contemptuous indifference, looking about with big angry but unfrightened
eyes for the herd--his herd--that had deserted him; or with a slight
toss of his head he would walk limpingly forward, forcing the ignored
Jock before him; then, interrupted and annoyed by a flying snap at his
nose, he would spring forward and strike with the sharp cloven fore
foot--zip-zip-zip--at Jock as he landed.  Any one of the vicious
flashing stabs would have pinned him to the earth and finished him; but
Jock was never there.

Keeping what cover there was I came up slowly behind them, struggling
and using all the force I dared, short of smashing the lever, to get the
empty cartridge out.  At last one of the turns in the fight brought me
in view, and the koodoo dashed off again.  For a little way the pace
seemed as great as ever, but it soon died away; the driving power was
gone; the strain and weight on the one sound leg and the tripping of the
broken one were telling; and from that on I was close enough to see it
all.  In the first rush the koodoo seemed to dash right over Jock--the
swirl of dust and leaves and the bulk of the koodoo hiding him; then I
saw him close abreast, looking up at it and making furious jumps for its
nose, alternately from one side and the other, as they raced along
together.  The koodoo holding its nose high and well forward, as they do
when on the move, with the horns thrown back almost horizontally, was
out of his reach and galloped heavily on completely ignoring his

There is a suggestion of grace and poise in the movement of the koodoo
bull's head as he gallops through the bush which is one of his
distinctions above the other antelopes.  The same supple balancing
movement that one notes in the native girls bearing their calabashes of
water upon their heads is seen in the neck of the koodoo, and for the
same reason: the movements of the body are softened into mere
undulations, and the head with its immense spiral horns seems to sail
along in voluntary company--indeed almost as though it were bearing the
body below.

At the fourth or fifth attempt by Jock a spurt from the koodoo brought
him cannoning against its shoulder, and he was sent rolling unnoticed
yards away.  He scrambled instantly to his feet, but found himself again
behind: it may have been this fact that inspired the next attempt, or
perhaps he realised that attack in front was useless; for this time he
went determinedly for the broken leg.  It swung about in wild eccentric
curves, but at the third or fourth attempt he got it and hung on; and
with all fours spread he dragged along the ground.  The first startled
spring of the koodoo jerked him into the air; but there was no let go
now, and although dragged along the rough ground and dashed about among
the scrub, sometimes swinging in the air, and sometimes sliding on his
back, he pulled from side to side in futile attempts to throw the big
animal.  Ineffectual and even hopeless as it looked at first, Jock's
attacks soon began to tell; the koodoo made wild efforts to get at him,
but with every turn he turned too, and did it so vigorously that the
staggering animal swayed over and had to plunge violently to recover its
balance.  So they turned, this way and that, until a wilder plunge swung
Jock off his feet, throwing the broken leg across the other one; then,
with feet firmly planted, Jock tugged again, and the koodoo trying to
regain its footing was tripped by the crossed legs and came down with a

As it fell Jock was round and fastened on the nose; but it was no
duiker, impala or rietbuck that he had to deal with this time.  The
koodoo gave a snort of indignation and shook its head: as a terrier
shakes a rat, so it shook Jock, whipping the ground with his swinging
body, and with another indignant snort and toss of the head flung him
off, sending him skidding along the ground on his back.  The koodoo had
fallen on the wounded leg and failed to rise with the first effort; Jock
while still slithering along the ground on his back was tearing at the
air with his feet in his mad haste to get back to the attack, and as he
scrambled up, he raced in again with head down and the little eyes black
with fury.  He was too mad to be wary, and my heart stood still as the
long horns went round with a swish; one black point seemed to pierce him
through and through, showing a foot out the other side, and a jerky
twist of the great head sent him twirling like a tip-cat eight or ten
feet up in the air.  It had just missed him, passing under his stomach
next to the hind legs; but, until he dropped with a thud and, tearing
and scrambling to his feet, he raced in again, I felt certain he had
been gored through.

The koodoo was up again then.  I had rushed in with rifle clubbed, with
the wild idea of stunning it before it could rise, but was met by the
lowered horns and unmistakable signs of charging, and beat a retreat
quite as speedy as my charge.

It was a running fight from that on: the instant the koodoo turned to go
Jock was on to the leg again, and nothing could shake his hold.  I had
to keep at a respectful distance, for the bull was still good for a
furious charge, even with Jock hanging on, and eyed me in the most
unpromising fashion whenever I attempted to head it off or even to come
close up.

The big eyes were blood-shot then, but there was no look of fear in
them--they blazed with baffled rage.  Impossible as it seemed to shake
Jock off or to get away from us, and in spite of the broken leg and loss
of blood, the furious attempts to beat us off did not slacken.  It was a
desperate running fight, and right bravely he fought it to the end.

Partly barring the way in front were the whitened trunks and branches of
several trees struck down by some storm of the year before, and running
ahead of the koodoo I made for these, hoping to find a stick straight
enough for a ramrod to force the empty cartridge out.  As I reached them
the koodoo made for me with half a dozen plunges that sent me flying off
for other cover; but the broken leg swayed over one of the branches, and
Jock with feet planted against the tree hung on; and the koodoo, turning
furiously on him, stumbled, floundered, tripped, and came down with a
crash amongst the crackling wood.  Once more like a flash Jock was over
the fallen body and had fastened on the nose--but only to be shaken
worse than before.  The koodoo literally flogged the ground with him,
and for an instant I shut my eyes; it seemed as if the plucky dog would
be beaten into pulp.  The bull tried to chop him with its fore feet, but
could not raise itself enough, and at each pause Jock, with his watchful
little eyes ever on the alert, dodged his body round to avoid the
chopping feet without letting go his hold.  Then with a snort of fury
the koodoo, half rising, gave its head a wild upward sweep, and shook.
As a springing rod flings a fish the koodoo flung Jock over its head and
on to a low flat-topped thorn-tree behind.  The dog somersaulted slowly
as he circled in the air, dropped on his back in the thorns some twelve
feet from the ground, and came tumbling down through the branches.
Surely the tree saved him, for it seemed as if such a throw must break
his back.  As it was he dropped with a sickening thump; yet even as he
fell I saw again the scrambling tearing movement, as if he was trying to
race back to the fight even before he reached ground.  Without a pause
to breathe or even to look, he was in again and trying once more for the

The koodoo lying partly on its side, with both hind legs hampered by the
mass of dead wood, could not rise, but it swept the clear space in front
with the terrible horns, and for some time kept Jock at bay.  I tried
stick after stick for a ramrod, but without success; at last, in
desperation at seeing Jock once more hanging to the koodoo's nose, I
hooked the lever on to a branch and setting my foot against the tree
wrenched until the empty cartridge flew out and I went staggering

In the last struggle, while I was busy with the rifle, the koodoo had
moved, and it was then lying against one of the fallen trunks.  The
first swing to get rid of Jock had literally slogged him against the
tree; the second swing swept him under it where a bend in the trunk
raised it: about a foot from the ground, and gaining his foothold there
Jock stood fast--there, there, with his feet planted firmly and his
shoulder humped against the dead tree, he stood this tug-of-war.  The
koodoo with its head twisted back, as caught at the end of the swing,
could put no weight to the pull; yet the wrenches it gave to free itself
drew the nose and upper lip out like tough rubber and seemed to stretch
Jock's neck visibly.  I had to come round within a few feet of them to
avoid risk of hitting Jock, and it seemed impossible for bone and muscle
to stand the two or three terrible wrenches that I saw.  The shot was
the end; and as the splendid head dropped slowly over, Jock let go his

He had not uttered a sound except the grunts that were knocked out of



I am very much afraid that most people would consider him rather a bad
lot.  The fact of the matter is he belonged to another period and other
conditions.  He was simply a great passionate fighting savage, and,
instead of wearing the cast-off clothing of the white man and peacefully
driving bullock waggons along a transport road, should have been decked
in his savage finery of leopard skin and black ostrich-feathers, showing
off the powerful bronzed limbs and body all alive with muscle, and
sharing in some wild war-dance; or, equipped with shield and assegais,
leading in some murderous fight.  Yes, Jim was out of date: he should
have been one of the great Chaka's fighting guard--to rise as a leader
of men, or be killed on the way.  He had but one argument and one answer
to everything: Fight!  It was his nature, bred and born in him; it ran
in his blood and grew in his bones.  He was a survival of a great
fighting race--there are still thousands of them in the kraals of
Zululand and Swaziland--but it was his fate to belong to one of the
expelled families, and to have to live and work among the white men
under the Boer Government of the Transvaal.

In a fighting nation Jim's kraal was known as a fighting one, and the
turbulent blood that ran in their veins could not settle down into a
placid stream merely because the Great White Queen had laid her hand
upon his people and said, "There shall be peace!"  Chaka, the `black
Napoleon' whose wars had cost South Africa over a million lives, had
died--murdered by his brother Dingaan--full of glory, lord and master
wherever his impis could reach.  "Dogs whom I fed at my kraal!" he
gasped, as they stabbed him.  Dingaan his successor, as cruel as
treacherous, had been crushed by the gallant little band of Boers under
Potgieter for his fiendish massacre of Piet Retief and his little band.
Panda the third of the three famous brothers--Panda the peaceful--had
come and gone!  Ketshwayo, after years of arrogant and unquestioned
rule, had loosed his straining impis at the people of the Great White
Queen.  The awful day of 'Sandhl'wana--where the 24th Regiment died
almost to a man--and the fight on H'lobani Mountain had blooded the
impis to madness; but Rorke's Drift and Kambula had followed those
bloody victories--each within a few hours--to tell another tale; and at
Ulundi the tides met--the black and the white.  And the kingdom and
might of the house of Chaka were no more.

Jim had fought at 'Sandhl'wana, and could tell of an umfaan sent out to
herd some cattle within sight of the British camp to draw the troops out
raiding while the impis crept round by hill and bush and donga behind
them; of the fight made by the red-coats as, taken in detail, they were
attacked hand to hand with stabbing assegais, ten and twenty to one; of
one man in blue--a sailor--who was the last to die, fighting with his
back to a waggon-wheel against scores before him, and how he fell at
last, stabbed in the back through the spokes of the wheel by one who had
crept up behind.

Jim had fought at Rorke's Drift!  Wild with lust of blood, he had gone
on with the maddest of the victory-maddened lot to invade Natal and eat
up the little garrison on the way.  He could tell how seventy or eighty
white men behind a little rampart of biscuit-tins and flour-bags had
fought through the long and terrible hours, beating off five thousand of
the Zulu best, fresh from a victory without parallel or precedent; how,
from the burning hospital, Sergeant Hook, V.C., and others carried sick
and wounded through the flames into the laager; how a man in black with
a long beard, Father Walsh, moved about with calm face, speaking to
some, helping others, carrying wounded back and cartridges forward--
Father Walsh who said "Don't swear, boys: fire low;" how Lieutenants
Chard and Bromhead--V.C.s too for that day's work--led and fought, and
guided and heartened their heroic little band until the flour-bags and
biscuit-tins stood lower than the pile of dead outside, and the Zulu
host was beaten and Natal saved that day.

Jim had seen all that--and Ulundi, the Day of Despair!  And he knew the
power of the Great White Queen and the way that her people fight.  But
peace was not for him or his kraal: better any fight than no fight.  He
rallied to Usibepu in the fight for leadership when his King, Ketshwayo,
was gone, and Jim's kraal had moved--and moved too soon: they were
surrounded one night and massacred; and Jim fought his way out, wounded
and alone.  Without kith or kin, cattle, king, or country, he fled to
the Transvaal--to work for the first time in his life!

Waggon-boys--as the drivers were called--often acquired a certain amount
of reputation on the road or in the locality where they worked; but it
was, as a rule, only a reputation as good or bad drivers.  In Jim's case
it was different.  He was a character and had an individual reputation,
which was exceptional in a Kaffir.  I had better say at once that not
even his best friend would claim that that reputation was a good one.
He was known as the best driver, the strongest nigger, the hardest
fighter, and the worst drinker on the road.

His real name was Makokela, but in accordance with a common Zulu habit,
it was usually abbreviated to Makokel'!  Among a certain number of the
white men--of the sort who never can get any name right--he was oddly
enough known as McCorkindale.  I called him Jim as a rule--Makokel',
when relations were strained.  The waggon-boys found it safer to use his
proper name.  When anything had upset him it was not considered wise to
take the liberty of shouting "Jim": the answer sometimes came in the
shape of a hammering.

Many men had employed Jim before he came to me, and all had `sacked' him
for fighting, drinking, and the unbearable worry he caused.  They told
me this, and said that he gave more trouble than his work was worth.  It
may have been true: he certainly was a living test of patience, purpose,
and management; but, for something learnt in that way, I am glad now
that Jim never `got the sack' from me.  Why he did not, is not easy to
say; perhaps the circumstances under which he came to me and the hard
knocks of an unkind fate pleaded for him.  But it was not that alone:
there was something in Jim himself--something good and fine, something
that shone out from time to time through his black skin and battered
face as the soul of a real man.

It was in the first season in the Bushveld that we were outspanned one
night on the sand-hills overlooking Delagoa Bay among scores of other
waggons dotted about in little camps--all loading or waiting for loads
to transport to the Transvaal.  Delagoa was not a good place to stay in,
in those days: liquor was cheap and bad; there was very little in the
way of law and order; and every one took care of himself as well as he
could.  The Kaffir kraals were close about the town, and the natives of
the place were as rascally a lot of thieves and vagabonds as you could
find anywhere.  The result was everlasting trouble with the waggon-boys
and a chronic state of war between them and the natives and the banyans
or Arab traders of the place.  The boys, with pockets full of wages,
haggled and were cheated in the stores, and by the hawkers, and in the
canteens; and they often ended up the night with beer-drinking at the
kraals or reprisals on their enemies.  Every night there were fights and
robberies: the natives or Indians would rob and half-kill a waggon-boy;
then he in turn would rally his friends, and raid and clear out the
kraal or the store.  Most of the waggon-boys were Zulus or of Zulu
descent, and they were always ready for a fight and would tackle any
odds when their blood was up.

It was the third night of our stay, and the usual row was on.  Shouts
and cries, the beating of tomtoms, and shrill ear-piercing whistles,
came from all sides; and through it all the dull hum of hundreds of
human voices, all gabbling together.  Near to us there was another camp
of four waggons drawn up in close order, and as we sat talking and
wondering at the strange babel in the beautiful calm moonlight night,
one sound was ever recurring, coming away out of all the rest with
something in it that fixed our attention.  It was the sound of two
voices from the next waggons.  One voice was a kaffir's--a great, deep,
bull-throated voice; it was not raised--it was monotonously steady and
low; but it carried far, with the ring and the lingering vibration of a
big gong.

"Funa 'nyama, Inkos; funa 'nyama!"  ("I want meat, Chief; I want meat!")
was what the kaffir's voice kept repeating at intervals of a minute or
two with deadly monotony and persistency.

The white man's voice grew more impatient, louder, and angrier, with
each refusal; but the boy paid no heed.  A few minutes later the same
request would be made, supplemented now and then with, "I am hungry,
Baas, I can't sleep.  Meat!  Meat!  Meat!" or, "Porridge and bread are
for women and piccaninnies.  I am a man: I want meat, Baas, meat."  From
the white man it was, "Go to sleep, I tell you!"

"Be quiet, will you?"

"Shut up that row!"

"Be still, you drunken brute, or I'll tie you up!" and "You'll get
twenty-five in a minute!"

It may have lasted half an hour when one of our party said, "That's
Bob's old driver, the big Zulu.  There'll be a row to-night; he's with a
foreigner chap from Natal now.  New chums are always roughest on the

In a flash I remembered Bob Saunderson's story of the boy who had caught
the lion alive, and Bob's own words, "a real fine nigger, but a terror
to drink, and always in trouble.  He fairly wore me right out."

A few minutes later there was a short scuffle, and the boy's voice could
be heard protesting in the same deep low tone: they were tying him up to
the waggon-wheel for a flogging.  Others were helping the white man, but
the boy was not resisting.

At the second thin whistling stroke some one said, "That's a sjambok
he's using, not a nek-strop!"  Sjambok, that will cut a bullock's hide!
At about the eighth there was a wrench that made the waggon rattle, and
the deep voice was raised in protest, "Ow, Inkos!"

It made me choke: it was the first I knew of such things, and the horror
of it was unbearable; but the man who had spoken before--a good man too,
straight and strong, and trusted by black and white--said, "Sonny, you
must not interfere between a man and his boys here; it's hard sometimes,
but we'd not live a day if they didn't know who was baas."

I think we counted eighteen; and then everything seemed going to burst.


The white man looked about at the faces close to him--and stopped.  He
began slowly to untie the outstretched arms, and blustered out some
threats.  But no one said a word!

The noises died down as the night wore on, until the stillness was
broken only by the desultory barking of a kaffir dog or the crowing of
some awakened rooster who had mistaken the bright moonlight for the dawn
and thought that all the world had overslept itself.  But for me there
was one other sound for which I listened into the cool of morning with
the quivering sensitiveness of a bruised nerve.  Sometimes it was a long
catchy sigh, and sometimes it broke into a groan just audible, like the
faintest rumble of most distant surf.  Twice in the long night there
came the same request to one of the boys near him, uttered in a deep
clear unshaken voice and in a tone that was civil but firm, and
strangely moving from its quiet indifference.

"Landela manzi, Umganaam!"  ("Bring water, friend!") was all he said;
and each time the request was so quickly answered that I had the guilty
feeling of being one in a great conspiracy of silence.  The hush was
unreal; the stillness alive with racing thoughts; the darkness full of
watching eyes.

There is, we believe, in the heart of every being a little germ of
justice which men call conscience!  If that be so, there must have been
in the heart of the white man that night some uneasy movement--the first
life-throb of the thought which one who had not yet written has since
set down:

  "Though I've belted you and flayed you,
  By the living God that made you,
  You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!"


The following afternoon I received an ultimatum.  We had just returned
from the town when from a group of boys squatting round the fire there
stood up one big fellow--a stranger--who raised his hand high above his
head in Zulu fashion and gave their salute in the deep bell-like voice
that there was no mistaking, "Inkos!  Bayete!"

He stepped forward, looking me all over, and announced with calm and
settled conviction, "I have come to work for you!"  I said nothing.
Then he rapped a chest like a big drum, and nodding his head with a sort
of defiant confidence added in quaint English, "My naam Makokela!  Jim
Makokel'!  Yes!  My catchum lion 'live!  Makokela, me!"

He had heard that I wanted a driver, had waited for my return, and
annexed me as his future `baas' without a moment's doubt or hesitation.

I looked him over.  Big, broad-shouldered, loose-limbed, and as straight
as an assegai!  A neck and head like a bull's; a face like a
weather-beaten rock, storm-scarred and furrowed, rugged and ugly, but
steadfast, massive and strong!  So it looked then, and so it turned out:
for good and for evil Jim was strong.

I nodded and said, "You can come."

Once more he raised his head aloft, and, simply and without a trace of
surprise or gratification, said:

"Yes, you are my chief, I will work for you."  In his own mind it had
been settled already: it had never been in doubt.

Jim--when sober--was a splendid worker and the most willing of servants,
and, drunk or sober, he was always respectful in an independent,
upstanding, hearty kind of way.  His manner was as rough and rugged as
his face and character; in his most peaceful moments it was--to one who
did not understand him--almost fierce and aggressive; but this was only
skin deep; for the childlike simplicity of the African native was in him
to the full, and rude bursts of Titanic laughter came readily--laughter
as strong and unrestrained as his bursts of passion.

To the other boys he was what his nature and training had made him--not
really a bully, but masterful and over-riding.  He gave his orders with
the curtness of a drill sergeant and the rude assurance of a savage
chief.  Walking, he walked his course, giving way for none of them.  At
the outspan or on the road or footpath he shouldered them aside as one
walks through standing corn, not aggressively but with the superb
indifference of right and habit unquestioned.  If one, loitering before
him, blocked his way unseeing, there was no pause or step aside--just
"Suka!"  ("Get out") and a push that looked effortless enough but sent
the offender staggering; or, if he had his sticks, more likely a smart
whack on the stern that was still more surprising; and not even the
compliment of a glance back from Jim as he stalked on.  He was like the
old bull in a herd--he walked his course; none molested and none
disputed; the way opened before him.

When sober Jim spoke Zulu; when drunk, he broke into the strangest and
most laughable medley of kitchen-Kaffir, bad Dutch, and worse English--
the idea being, in part to consider our meaner intelligences and in part
to show what an accomplished linguist he was.  There was no difficulty
in knowing when Jim would go wrong: he broke out whenever he got a
chance, whether at a kraal, where he could always quicken the reluctant
hospitality of any native, at a wayside canteen, or in a town.  Money
was fatal--he drank it all out; but want of money was no security, for
he was known to every one and seemed to have friends everywhere; and if
he had not, he made them on the spot--annexed and overwhelmed them.

From time to time you do meet people like that.  The world's their
oyster, and the gift of a masterful and infinite confidence opens it
every time: they walk through life taking of the best as a right, and
the world unquestioningly submits.

I had many troubles with Jim, but never on account of white men: drunk
or sober, there was never trouble there.  It may have been Rorke's Drift
and Ulundi that did it; but whatever it was, the question of black and
white was settled in his mind for ever.  He was respectful, yet stood
upright with the rough dignity of an unvanquished spirit; but on the one
great issue he never raised his hand or voice again.  His troubles all
came from drink, and the exasperation was at times almost unbearable--so
great, indeed, that on many occasions I heartily repented ever having
taken him on.  Warnings were useless, and punishment--well, the shiny
new skin that made patterns in lines and stars and crosses on his back
for the rest of his life made answer for always upon that point.

The trials and worries were often great indeed.  The trouble began as
soon as we reached a town, and he had a hundred excuses for going in,
and a hundred more for not coming out: he had some one to see, boots to
be mended, clothes to buy, or medicine to get--the only illness I ever
knew him have was `a pain inside,' and the only medicine wanted--grog!--
some one owed him money--a stock excuse, and the idea of Jim, always
penniless and always in debt, posing as a creditor never failed to raise
a laugh, and he would shake his head with a half-fierce half-sad disgust
at the general scepticism and his failure to convince me.  Then he had
relations in every town!  Jim, the sole survivor of his fighting kraal,
produced `blulus,' `babas,' `sisteles,' and even `mamas,' in profusion,
and they died just before we reached the place, as regularly as the
office-boy's aunt dies before Derby Day, and with the same consequence--
he had to go to the funeral.

The first precaution was to keep him at the waggons and put the towns
and canteens `out of bounds'; and the last defence, to banish him
entirely until he came back sober, and meanwhile set other boys to do
his work, paying them his wages in cash in his presence when he returned
fit for duty.

"Is it as I told you?  Is it just?"  I would ask when this was done.

"It is just, Inkos," he would answer with a calm dispassionate
simplicity which appealed for forgiveness and confidence with far
greater force than any repentance; and it did so because it was genuine;
it was natural and unstudied.  There was never a trace of feeling to be
detected when these affairs were squared off, but I knew how he hated
the treatment, and it helped a little from time to time to keep him

The banishing of him from the waggons in order that he might go away and
have it over was not a device to save myself trouble, and I did it only
when it was clear that he could stand the strain no longer.  It was
simply a choice of evils, and it seemed to me better to let him go,
clearly understanding the conditions, than drive him into breaking away
with the bad results to him and the bad effects on the others of
disobeying orders.  It was, as a rule, far indeed from saving me
trouble, for after the first bout of drinking he almost invariably found
his way back to the waggons: the drink always produced a ravenous
craving for meat, and when his money was gone and he had fought his fill
and cleared out all opposition, he would come back to the waggons at any
hour of the night, perhaps even two or three times between dark and
dawn, to beg for meat.  Warnings and orders had no effect whatever; he
was unconscious of everything except the overmastering craving for meat.
He would come to my waggon and begin that deadly monotonous recitation,
"Funa 'nyama, Inkos!  Wanta meat, Baas!"  There was a kind of hopeless
determination in the tone conveying complete indifference to all
consequences: meat he must have.  He was perfectly respectful; every
order to be quiet or go away or go to bed was received with the formal
raising of the hand aloft, the most respectful of salutations, and the
assenting, "Inkos!" but in the very next breath would come the old
monotonous request, "Funa 'nyama, Inkos," just as if he was saying it
for the first time.  The persistency was awful--it was maddening; and
there was no remedy, for it was not the result of voluntary or even
conscious effort on his part; it was a sort of automatic process, a
result of his physical condition.  Had he known it would cost him his
life, he could no more have resisted it than have resisted breathing.

When the meat was there I gave it, and he would sit by the fire for
hours eating incredible quantities--cutting it off in slabs and
devouring it when not much more than warmed.  But it was not always
possible to satisfy him in that way; meat was expensive in the towns and
often we had none at all at the waggons.  Then the night became one long
torment: the spells of rest might extend from a quarter of an hour to an
hour; then from the dead sleep of downright weariness I would be roused
by the deep far-reaching voice; "Funa 'nyama, Inkos" wove itself into my
dreams, and waking I would find Jim standing beside me remorselessly
urging the same request in Zulu, in broken English, and in Dutch--"My
wanta meat, Baas," "Wil fleisch krij, Baas," and the old, old, hatefully
familiar explanation of the difference between "man's food" and
"piccanins' food," interspersed with grandiose declarations that he was
"Makokela--Jim Makokel'," who "catchum lion 'live."  Sometimes he would
expand this into comparisons between himself and the other boys, much to
their disadvantage; and on these occasions he invariably worked round to
his private grievances, and expressed his candid opinions of Sam.

Sam was the boy whom I usually set to do Jim's neglected work.  He was a
`mission boy,' that is a Christian kaffir--very proper in his behaviour,
but a weakling and not much good at work.  Jim would enumerate all Sam's
shortcomings; how he got his oxen mixed up on dark nights and could not
pick them out of the herd--a quite unpardonable offence; how he stuck in
the drifts and had to be `double-spanned' and pulled out by Jim; how he
once lost his way in the bush; and how he upset the waggon coming down
the Devil's Shoot.

Jim had once brought down the Berg from Spitzkop a loaded waggon on
which there was a cottage piano packed standing upright.  The road was
an awful one, it is true, and few drivers could have handled so
top-heavy a load without capsizing--he had received a bansela for his
skill--but to him the feat was one without parallel in the history of
waggon driving; and when drunk he usually coupled it with his other
great achievement of catching a lion alive.  His contempt for Sam's
misadventure on the Devil's Shoot was therefore great, and to it was
added resentment against Sam's respectability and superior education,
which the latter was able to rub in in safety by ostentatiously reading
his Bible aloud at nights as they sat round the fire.  Jim was a
heathen, and openly affirmed his conviction that a Christian kaffir was
an impostor, a bastard, and a hypocrite--a thing not to be trusted under
any circumstances whatever.  The end of his morose outburst was always
the same.  When his detailed indictment of Sam was completed he would
wind up with, "My catchum lion 'live.  My bling panyanna fon Diskop (I
bring piano from Spitzkop).  My naam Makokela: Jim Makokel'.  Sam no
good; Sam leada Bible (Sam reads the Bible).  Sam no good!"  The
intensity of conviction and the gloomy disgust put into the last
reference to Sam are not to be expressed in words.

Where warning and punishment availed nothing threats would have been
worse than foolish.  Once, when he had broken bounds and left the
waggons, I threatened that if he did it again I would tie him up, since
he was like a dog that could not be trusted; and I did it.  He had no
excuse but the old ones; some one, he said, had brought him liquor to
the waggons and he had not known what he was doing.  The truth was that
the craving grew so with the nearer prospect of drink that by hook or by
crook he would find some one, a passerby or a boy from other waggons, to
fetch some for him; and after that nothing could hold him.

If Jim ever wavered in his loyalty to me, it must have been the day I
tied him up: he must have been very near hating me then.  I had caught
him as he was leaving the waggons and still sober; brought him back and
told him to sit under his own waggon where I would tie him up like a
dog.  I took a piece of sail twine, tied it to one wrist, and, fastening
the other end to the waggon-wheel, left him.

A kaffir's face becomes, when he wishes it, quite inscrutable--as
expressionless as a blank wall.  But there are exceptions to every rule;
and Jim's stoicism was not equal to this occasion.  The look of
unspeakable disgust and humiliation on his face was more than I could
bear with comfort; and after half an hour or so in the pillory I
released him.  He did not say a word, but, heedless of the hot sun,
rolled himself in his blankets and, sleeping or not, never moved for the
rest of the day.



Jock disliked kaffirs: so did Jim.  To Jim there were three big
divisions of the human race--white men, Zulus, and niggers.  Zulu, old
or young, was greeted by him as equal, friend and comrade; but the rest
were trash, and he cherished a most particular contempt for the
Shangaans and Chopis, as a lot who were just about good enough for what
they did--that is, work in the mines.  They could neither fight nor
handle animals; and the sight of them stirred him to contempt and
pricked him to hostilities.

It was not long before Jim discovered this bond of sympathy between him
and Jock, and I am perfectly sure that the one bad habit which Jock was
never cured of was due to deliberate encouragement from Jim on every
possible opportunity.  It would have been a matter of difficulty and
patience in any case to teach Jock not to unnecessarily attack strange
kaffirs.  It was very important that he should have nothing to do with
them, and should treat them with suspicion as possible enemies and keep
them off the premises.  I was glad that he did it by his own choice and
instinct; but this being so, it needed all the more intelligence and
training to get him to understand just where to draw the line.  Jim made
it worse; he made the already difficult task practically impossible by
egging Jock on; and what finally made it quite impossible was the
extremely funny turn it took, which caused such general amusement that
every one joined in the conspiracy and backed up Jock.

Every one knows how laughable it is to see a person dancing about like a
mad dervish, with legs and arms going in all directions, dodging the
rushes of a dog, especially if the spectator knows that the dog will not
do any real harm and is more intent on scaring his victim, just for the
fun of the thing, than on hunting him.  Well, that is how it began.

As far as I know the first incident arose out of the intrusion of a
strange kaffir at one of the outspans.  Jock objected, and he was
forcing a scared boy back step by step--doing the same feinting rushes
that he practised with game--until the boy tripped over a camp stool and
sat plump down on the three-legged pot of porridge cooking at the camp
fire.  I did not see it; for Jock was, as usual, quite silent--a feature
which always had a most terrifying effect on his victims: it was a roar
like a lion's from Jim that roused me.  Jock was standing off with his
feet on the move forwards and backwards, his head on one side and his
face full of interest, as if he would dearly love another romp in; and
the waggon-boys were reeling and rolling about the grass, helpless with

A dog is just as quick as a child to find out when he can take
liberties; he knows that laughter and serious disapproval do not go
together; and Jock with the backing of the boys thoroughly enjoyed
him-self.  That was how it began; and by degrees it developed into the
great practical joke.  The curious thing to note was the way in which
Jock entered into the spirit of the thing, and how he improved and
varied his methods.  It was never certain what he would do; sometimes it
would be a wild romp, as it was that day; at other times he would stalk
the intruder in the open, much as a pointer approaches his birds in the
last strides, and with eyes fixed steadily and mouth tightly pursed-up,
he would move straight at him with infinite slowness and deliberation
until, the boy's nerve failed, and he turned and ran.  At other times
again he trotted out as if he had seen nothing, and then stopped
suddenly.  If the boy came on, Jock waited; but if there was any sign of
fear or hesitation, he lowered his head, humped up his shoulders--as a
stagey boxer does when he wants to appear ferocious--and gave his head a
kind of chuck forward, as if in the act of charging: this seldom failed
to shake the intruder's nerve, and as soon as he turned or backed, the
romp began.  Still another trick was to make a round in the bush and
come up behind unobserved, and then make a furious dash with rumbly
gurgly growls; the startled boy invariably dropped all he had, breaking
into a series of fantastic capers and excited yells, to the huge delight
of Jim and the others.

But these things were considered trifles: the piece that always `brought
the house down' was the Shangaan gang trick, which on one occasion
nearly got us all into serious trouble.  The natives going to or from
the goldfields travel in gangs of from four or five to forty or fifty;
they walk along in Indian-file, and even when going across the veld or
walking on wide roads they wind along singly in the footsteps of the
leader.  What prompted the dog to start this new game I cannot imagine:
certainly no one could have taught it to him; and as well as one could
judge, he did it entirely `off his own bat,' without anything to lead up
to or suggest it.

One day a gang of about thirty of these Shangaans, each carrying his
load of blankets, clothing, pots, billies and other valuables on his
head, was coming along a footpath beside the road some twenty yards away
from the waggons.  Jock strolled out and sat himself down in the middle
of the path; it was the way he did it and his air, utterly devoid of
hostile or even serious purpose, that attracted my attention without
rousing any doubts.  The leader of the gang, however, was suspicious and
shied off wide into the veld; he passed in a semicircle round Jock, a
good ten yards away, and came safely back to the path again, and the dog
with his nose in the air merely eyed him with a look of humorous
interest and mild curiosity.  The second kaffir made the loop shorter,
and the third shorter still, as they found their alarm and suspicions
unjustified; and so on, as each came along, the loop was lessened until
they passed in safety almost brushing against Jock's nose.  And still he
never budged--never moved--except, as each boy approached, to look up at
his face and, slowly turning his head, follow him round with his eyes
until he re-entered the path.  There was something extremely funny in
the mechanical regularity with which his head swung round.  It was so
funny that not only the boys at the waggons noticed it and laughed; the
unsuspecting Shangaans themselves shared the joke.  When half a dozen
had passed round in safety, comments followed by grunts of agreement or
laughter ran along the line, and then, as each fresh boy passed and
Jock's calm inspection was repeated, a regular chorus of guffaws and
remarks broke out.  The long heavy bundles on their heads made turning
round a slow process, so that, except for the first half-dozen, they
were content to enjoy what they saw in front and to know by the laughter
from behind that the joke had been repeated all down the line.

The last one walked calmly by; but as he did so there came one short
muffled bark, "Whoop!" from Jock as he sprang out and nipped the
unsuspecting Shangaan behind.  The boy let out a yell that made the
whole gang jump and clutch wildly at their toppling bundles, and Jock
raced along the footpath, leaping, gurgling and snapping behind each one
he came near, scattering them this way and that, in a romp of wild
enjoyment.  The shouts of the scared boys, the clatter of the tins as
their bundles toppled down, the scrambling and scratching as they clawed
the ground pretending to pick up stones or sticks to stop his rushes,
and the ridiculous rout of the thirty Shangaans in every direction,
abandoning their baggage and fleeing from the little red enemy only just
visible in the grass as he hunted and harried them, were too much for my
principles and far too much for my gravity.  To be quite honest, I
weakened badly, and from that day on preferred to look another way when
Jock sallied out to inspect a gang of Shangaans.  Between them, Jim and
Jock had beaten me.

But the weakening brought its own punishment and the joke was not far
from making a tragedy.  Many times while lying some way off in the shade
of a tree or under another waggon I heard Jim, all unconscious of my
presence, call in a low deep voice, almost a whisper, "Jock, Jock;
kaffirs; Shangaans!"  Jock's head was up in a moment, and a romp of some
sort followed unless I intervened.  Afterwards, when Jock was deaf, Jim
used to reach out and pull his foot or throw a handful of sand or a
bunch of grass to rouse him, and when Jock's head switched up Jim's big
black fist pointing to their common enemy was quite enough.

Jim had his faults, but getting others into mischief while keeping out
of it himself was not one of them.  If he egged Jock on, he was more
than ready to stand by him, and on these occasions his first act was to
jump for his sticks, which were always pretty handy, and lie in
readiness to take a hand if any of the gang should use what he
considered unfair means of defence, such as throwing stones and kerries
or using assegais or knives; and Jim--the friend of Jock, the avoided
enemy of all Shangaans, aching for an excuse to take a hand in the row
himself--was not, I fear, a very impartial judge.

There was a day outside Barberton which I remember well.  We were to
start that evening, and knowing that if Jim got into the town he might
not be back and fit to work for days, I made him stay with the waggons.
He lay there flat out under his waggon with his chin resting on his
arms, staring steadily at the glistening corrugated iron roofs of the
town, as morose and unapproachable as a surly old watch-dog.  From the
tent of my waggon I saw him raise his head, and following his glance,
picked out a row of bundles against the sky-line.  Presently a long
string of about fifty time-expired mine-boys came in sight.  Jim on his
hands and knees scrambled over to where Jock lay asleep, and shook him;
for this incident occurred after Jock had become deaf.

"Shangaans, Jock; Shangaans!  Kill them; kill, kill, kill!" said Jim in
gusty ferocious whispers.  It must have seemed as if Fate had kindly
provided an outlet for the rebellious rage and the craving for a fight
that were consuming him.

As Jock trotted out to head them off Jim reached up to the buck-rails
and pulled down his bundle of sticks and lay down like a tiger on the
spring.  I had had a lot of trouble with Jim that day, and this annoyed
me; but my angry call to stop was unavailing.  Jim, pretending not to
understand, made no attempt to stop Jock, but contented himself with
calling to him to come back; and Jock, stone deaf, trotted evenly along
with his head, neck, back, and tail, all level--an old trick of Jess's
which generally meant trouble for some one.  Slowing down as he neared
the Shangaans he walked quietly on until he headed off the leader, and
there he stood across the path.  It was just the same as before: the
boys, finding that he did nothing, merely stepped aside to avoid bumping
against him.  They were boys taking back their purchases to their kraals
to dazzle the eyes of the ignorant with the wonders of civilisation--
gaudy blankets, collections of bright tin billies and mugs, tin plates,
three-legged pots, clothing, hats, and even small tin trunks painted
brilliant yellow, helped to make up their huge bundles.  The last boy
was wearing a pair of Royal Artillery trousers; and I have no doubt he
regarded it ever afterwards as nothing less than a calamity that they
were not safely stowed away in his bundle--for a kaffir would sacrifice
his skin rather than his new pants any day.  It was from the seat of
these too ample bags that Jock took a good mouthful; and it was the
boy's frantic jump, rather than Jock's tug, that made the piece come
out.  The sudden fright and the attempts to face about quickly caused
several downfalls; the clatter of these spread the panic; and on top of
it all came Jock's charge along the broken line, and the excited shouts
of those who thought they were going to be worried to death.

Jim had burst into great bellows of laughter and excited--but quite
superfluous--shouts of encouragement to Jock, who could not have heard a
trumpet at ten yards.

But there came a very unexpected change.  One big Shangaan had drawn
from his bundle a brand new side-axe: I saw the bright steel head flash,
as he held it menacingly aloft by the short handle and marched towards
Jock.  There was a scrambling bound from under the waggon, and Jim, with
face distorted and grey with fury, rushed out.  In his right hand he
brandished a tough stout fighting stick; in his left I was horrified to
see an assegai, and well I knew that, with the fighting fury on him, he
would think nothing of using it.  The Shangaan saw him coming, and
stopped; then, still facing Jim, and with the axe raised and feinting
repeatedly to throw it, he began to back away.  Jim never paused for a
second: he came straight on with wild leaps and blood-curdling yells in
Zulu fighting fashion and ended with a bound that seemed to drop him
right on top of the other.  The stick came down with a whirr and a crash
that crimped every nerve in my body; and the Shangaan dropped like a

I had shouted myself hoarse at Jim, but he heard or heeded nothing; and
seizing a stick from one of the other boys I was already on the way to
stop him, but before I got near him he had wrenched the axe from the
kicking boy and, without pause, gone headlong for the next Shangaan he
saw.  Then everything went wrong: the more I shouted and the harder I
ran, the worse the row.  The Shangaans seemed to think I had joined in
and was directing operations against them: Jim seemed to be inspired to
wilder madness by my shouts and gesticulations; and Jock--well, Jock at
any rate had not the remotest doubt as to what he should do.  When he
saw me and Jim in full chase behind him, his plain duty was to go in for
all he was worth; and he did it.

It was half an hour before I got that mad savage back.  He was as
unmanageable as a runaway horse.  He had walloped the majority of the
fifty himself; he had broken his own two sticks and used up a number of
theirs; on his forehead there was a small cut and a lump like half an
orange; and on the back of his head another cut left by the sticks of
the enemy when eight or ten had rallied once in a half-hearted attempt
to stand against him.

It was strange how Jim, even in that mood, yielded to the touch of one
whom he regarded as his "Inkos."  I could not have forced him back: in
that maniac condition it would have needed a powerful combination indeed
to bring him back against his will.  He yielded to the light grip of my
hand on his wrist and walked freely along with me; but a fiery bounding
vitality possessed him, and with long springy strides he stepped out--
looking excitedly about, turning to right and left or even right about,
and stepping sideways or even backwards to keep pace with me--yet always
yielding the imprisoned arm so as not to pull me about.  And all the
time there came from him a torrent of excited gabble in pure Zulu, too
fast and too high-flown for me to follow, which was punctuated and
paragraphed by bursting allusions to `dogs of Shangaans,' `axes,'
`sticks,' and `Jock.'

Near the waggons we passed over the `battlefield,' and a huge guffaw of
laughter broke from Jim as we came on the abandoned impedimenta of the
defeated enemy.  Several of the bundles had burst open from the violence
of the fall, and the odd collections of the natives were scattered
about; others had merely shed the outside luggage of tin billies,
beakers, pans, boots and hats.  Jim looked on it all as the spoils of
war, wanting to stop and gather in his loot there and then, and when I
pressed on, he shouted to the other drivers to come out and collect the

But my chief anxiety was to end the wretched escapade as quickly as
possible and get the Shangaans on their way again; so I sent Jim back to
his place under the waggon, and told the cook-boy to give him the rest
of my coffee and half a cup of sugar to provide him with something else
to think of and to calm him down.

After a wait of half an hour or so, a head appeared just over the rise,
and then another and another, at irregular intervals and at various
points: they were scouting very cautiously before venturing back again.
I sat in the tent-waggon out of sight and kept quiet, hoping that in a
few minutes they would gain confidence, collect their goods, and go
their way again.  Jim, lying flat under the waggon, was much lower than
I was, and--continuing his gabble to the other boys--saw nothing.
Unfortunately he looked round just as a scared face peered cautiously
over the top of an ant-heap.  The temptation was, I suppose,
irresistible: he scrambled to his knees with a pretence of starting
afresh and let out one ferocious yell that made my hair stand up; and in
that second every head bobbed down and the field was deserted once more.

If this went on there could be but one ending: the police would be
appealed to, Jim arrested, and I should spend days hanging about the
courts waiting for a trial from which the noble Jim would probably
emerge with three months' hard labour; so I sallied out as my own herald
of peace.  But the position was more difficult than it looked: as soon
as the Shangaans saw my head appearing over the rise, they scattered
like chaff before the wind, and ran as if they would never stop.  They
evidently took me for the advance guard in a fresh attack, and from the
way they ran seemed to suspect that Jim and Jock might be doing separate
flanking movements to cut them off.  I stood upon an ant-heap and waved
and called, but each shout resulted in a fresh spurt and each movement
only made them more suspicious.  It seemed a hopeless case, and I gave
it up.

On the way back to the waggons, however, I thought of Sam--Sam, with his
neatly patched European clothes, with the slouchy heavy-footed walk of a
nigger in boots, with his slack lanky figure and serious timid face!
Sam would surely be the right envoy; even the routed Shangaans would
feel that there was nothing to fear there.  But Sam was by no means
anxious to earn laurels; he was clearly of the poet's view that "the
paths of glory lead but to the grave;" and it was a poor-looking
weak-kneed and much dejected scarecrow that dragged its way reluctantly
out into the veld to hold parley with the routed enemy that day.

At the first mention of Sam's name Jim had twitched round with a snort,
but the humour of the situation tickled him when he saw the too obvious
reluctance with which his rival received the honour conferred on him.
Between rough gusts of laughter Jim rained on him crude ridicule and
rude comments; and Sam slouched off with head bent, relieving his heart
with occasional clicks and low murmurs of disgust.  How far the new
herald would have ventured, if he had not received most unexpected
encouragement, is a matter for speculation.  Jim's last shout was to
advise him not to hide in an ant-bear hole; but, to Sam's relief, the
Shangaans seemed to view him merely as a decoy, even more dangerous than
I was; for, as no one else appeared, they had now no idea at all from
which quarter the expected attack would come.  They were widely
scattered more than half a mile away when Sam came in sight; a brief
pause followed in which they looked anxiously around, and then, after
some aimless dashes about like a startled troop of buck, they seemed to
find the line of flight and headed off in a long string down the valley
towards the river.

Now, no one had ever run away from Sam before, and the exhilarating
sight so encouraged him that he marched boldly on after them.  Goodness
knows when, if ever, they would have stopped, if Sam had not met a
couple of other natives whom the Shangaans had passed and induced them
to turn back and reassure the fugitives.

An hour later Sam came back in mild triumph, at the head of the Shangaan
gang; and, `clothed in a little brief authority,' stood guard and
superintended while they collected their scattered goods--all except the
axe that caused the trouble.  That they failed to find.  The owner may
have thought it wise to make no claim on me; Sam, if he remembered it,
would have seen the Shangaans and all their belongings burned in a pile
rather than raise so delicate a question with Jim; I had forgotten all
about it--being anxious only to end the trouble and get the Shangaans
off; and that villain Jim `lay low.'  At the first outspan from
Barberton next day I saw him carving his mark on the handle, unabashed,
under my very nose.

The next time Jim got drunk he added something to his opinion of Sam:

"Sam no good: Sam leada Bible!  Shangaan, Sam; Shangaan!"



The last day of each trip in the Bush veld was always a day of trial and
hard work for man and beast.  The Berg stood up before us like an
impassable barrier.  Looked at from below the prospect was despairing--
from above, appalling.  There was no road that the eye could follow.
Here and there a broad furrowed streak of red soil straight down some
steep grass-covered spur was visible: it looked like a mountain
timber-slide or the scour of some tropical storm; and that was all one
could see of it from below.  For perhaps a week the towering bulwarks of
the High veld were visible as we toiled along--at first only in
occasional hazy glimpses, then daily clearer higher and grander, as the
great barrier it was.

After many hard treks through the broken foothills, with their rocky
sideling slopes and boulder-strewn torrent beds, at last the Berg itself
was reached.  There, on a flat-topped terrace-like spur where the last
outspan was, we took breath, halved our loads, double-spanned, and
pulled ourselves together for the last big climb.

From there the scoured red streaks stood out revealed as road tracks--
for, made road there was none; from there, lines of whitish rock and
loose stones and big boulders, that one had taken for the beds of
mountain torrents, stood revealed as bits of `road,' linking up some of
the broken sections of the route; but even from there not nearly all the
track was visible.  The bumpy rumbling and heavy clattering of waggons
on the rocky trail, the shouts of drivers and the crack of whips, mixed
with confusing echoes from somewhere above, set one puzzling and
searching higher still.  Then in unexpected places here and there other
waggons would be seen against the shadowy mountains, creeping up with
infinite labour foot by foot, tacking at all sorts of angles, winding by
undetected spur and slope and ridge towards the summit--the long spans
of oxen and the bulky loads, dwarfed into miniature by the vast
background, looking like snails upon a face of rock.

To those who do not know, there is not much difference between spans of
oxen; and the driving of them seems merely a matter of brute strength in
arm and lung.  One span looks like another; and the weird unearthly
yells of the drivers, the cracks--like rifle-shots--of the long lashes,
and the hum and thud of the more cruel doubled whip, seem to be all that
is needed.  But it is not so: heart and training in the cattle, skill
and judgment in the driver, are needed there; for the Berg is a
searching test of man and beast.  Some, double-spanned and relieved of
half their three-ton loads, will stick for a whole day where the pull is
steepest, the road too narrow to swing the spans, and the curves too
sharp to let the fifteen couples of bewildered and despairing oxen get a
straight pull; whilst others will pass along slowly but steadily and
without check, knowing what each beast will do and stand, when to urge
and when to ease it, when and where to stop them for a blow, and how to
get them all leaning to the yoke, ready and willing for the `heave
together' that is essential for restarting a heavy load against such a
hill.  Patience, understanding, judgment, and decision: those are the
qualities it calls for, and here again the white man justifies his claim
to lead and rule; for, although they are as ten or twenty to one, there
is not a native driver who can compare with the best of the white men.

It was on the Berg that I first saw what a really first-class man can
do.  There were many waggons facing the pass that day; portions of
loads, dumped off to ease the pull, dotted the roadside; tangles of
disordered maddened spans blocked the way; and fragments of yokes,
skeys, strops, and reims, and broken disselbooms, told the tale of

Old Charlie Roberts came along with his two waggons.  He was `old' with
us--being nearly fifty; he was also stout and in poor health.  We buried
him at Pilgrim's Rest a week later: the cold, clear air on top of the
Berg that night, when he brought the last load up, brought out the
fever.  It was his last trek.

He walked slowly up past us, to "take a squint at things," as he put it,
and see if it was possible to get past the stuck waggons; and a little
later he started, making three loads of his two and going up with single
spans of eighteen oxen each, because the other waggons, stuck in various
places on the road, did not give him room to work double-spans.  To us
it seemed madness to attempt with eighteen oxen a harder task than we
and others were essaying with thirty; we would have waited until the
road ahead was clear.

We were half-way up when we saw old Charlie coming along steadily and
without any fuss at all.  He had no second driver to help him; he did no
shouting; he walked along heavily and with difficulty beside the span,
playing the long whip lightly about as he gave the word to go or called
quietly to individual oxen by name, but he did not touch them; and when
he paused to `blow' them he leaned heavily on his whip-stick to rest
himself.  We were stopped by some break in the gear and were completely
blocking the road when he caught up.  Any one else would have waited: he
pulled out into the rough sideling track on the slope below, to pass us.
Even a good span with a good driver may well come to grief in trying to
pass another that is stuck--for the sight and example are demoralising--
but old Charlie did not turn a hair; he went steadily on, giving a
brisker call and touching up his oxen here and there with light flicks.
They used to say he could kill a fly on a front ox or on the toe of his
own boot with the voorslag of his big whip.

The track he took was merely the scorings made by skidding waggons
coming down the mountain; it was so steep and rough there that a pull of
ten yards between the spells for breath was all one could hope for; and
many were thankful to have done much less.  At the second pause, as they
were passing us, one of his oxen turned, leaning inwards against the
chain, and looked back.  Old Charlie remarked quietly, "I thought he
would chuck it; only bought him last week.  He's got no heart."

He walked along the span up to the shirking animal, which continued to
glare back at him in a frightened way, and touched it behind with the
butt of his long whip-stick to bring it up to the yoke.  The ox started
forward into place with a jerk, but eased back again slightly as Charlie
went back to his place near the after-oxen.  Once more the span went on
and the shirker got a smart reminder as Charlie gave the call to start,
and he warmed it up well as a lesson while they pulled.  At the next
stop it lay back worse than before.

Not one driver in a hundred would have done then what he did: they would
have tried other courses first.  Charlie dropped his whip quietly and
outspanned the ox and its mate, saying to me as I gave him a hand:

"When I strike a rotter, I chuck him out before he spoils the others!"
In another ten minutes he and his stalwarts had left us behind.

Old Charlie knew his oxen--each one of them, their characters and what
they could do.  I think he loved them too; at any rate, it was his care
for them that day--handling them himself instead of leaving it to his
boys--that killed him.

Other men had other methods.  Some are by nature brutal; others, only
undiscerning or impatient.  Most of them sooner or later realise that
they are only harming themselves by ill-treating their own cattle; and
that is one--but only the meanest--reason why the white man learns to
drive better than the native, who seldom owns the span he drives; the
better and bigger reasons belong to the qualities of race and the
effects of civilisation.  But, with all this, experience is as essential
as ever; a beginner has no balanced judgment, and that explains
something that I heard an old transport-rider say in the earliest days--
something which I did not understand then, and heard with resentment and
a boy's uppish scorn.

"The Lord help the beginner's boys and bullocks: starts by pettin', and
ends by killin'.  Too clever to learn; too young to own up; swearin' and
sloggin' all the time; and never sets down to _think_ until the boys are
gone and the bullocks done!"

I felt hot all over, but had learned enough to keep quiet; besides, the
hit was not meant for me, although the tip, I believe, was: the hit was
at some one else who had just left us--one who had been given a start
before he had gained experience and, naturally, was then busy making a
mess of things himself and laying down the law for others.  It was when
the offender had gone that the old transport-rider took up the general
question and finished his observations with a proverb which I had not
heard before--perhaps invented it:

"Yah!" he said, rising and stretching himself, "there's no rule for a
young fool."

I did not quite know what he meant, and it seemed safer not to inquire.

The driving of bullocks is not an exalted occupation: it is a very
humble calling indeed; yet, if one is able to learn, there are things
worth learning in that useful school.  But it is not good to stay at
school all one's life.

Brains and character tell there as everywhere; experience only gives
them scope; it is not a substitute.  The men themselves would not tell
you so; they never trouble themselves with introspections and analyses,
and if you asked one of them the secret of success, he might tell you
"Commonsense and hard work," or curtly give you the maxims `Watch it,'
and `Stick to it'--which to him express the whole creed, and to you, I
suppose, convey nothing.  Among themselves, when the prime topics of
loads, rates, grass, water and disease have been disposed of, there is
as much interest in talking about their own and each other's oxen as
there is in babies at a mothers' meeting.  Spans are compared;
individual oxen discussed in minute detail; and the reputations of
`front oxen,' in pairs or singly, are canvassed as earnestly as the
importance of the subject warrants--for, "The front oxen are half the
span," they say.  The simple fact is that they `talk shop,' and when you
hear them discussing the characters and qualities of each individual
animal you may be tempted to smile in a superior way, but it will not
eventually escape you that they think and observe, and that they study
their animals and reason out what to do to make the most of them; and
when they preach patience, consistency and purpose, it is the fruit of
much experience, and nothing more than what the best of them practise.

Every class has its world; each one's world--however small--is a whole
world, and therefore a big world; for the little things are magnified
and seem big, which is much the same thing: Crusoe's island was a world
to him and he got as much satisfaction out of it as Alexander or
Napoleon--probably a great deal more.  The little world is less
complicated than the big, but the factors do not vary; and so it may be
that the simpler the calling, the more clearly apparent are the working
of principles and the relations of cause and effect.  It was so with us.
To you, as a beginner, there surely comes a day when things get out of
hand and your span, which was a good one when you bought it, goes wrong:
the load is not too heavy; the hill not too steep; the work is not
beyond them for they have done it all before; but now no power on earth,
it seems, will make them face the pull.  Some jib and pull back; some
bellow and thrust across; some stand out or swerve under the chain; some
turn tail to front, half choked by the twisted strops, the worn-out
front oxen turn and charge downhill; and all are half frantic with
excitement, bewilderment or terror.  The constant shouting, the battle
with refractory animals, the work with the whip, and the hopeless chaos
and failure, have just about done you up; and then some one--who knows--
comes along, and, because you block the way where he would pass and he
can see what is wrong, offers to give a hand.  Dropping his whip he
moves the front oxen to where the foothold is best and a straight pull
is possible; then walks up and down the team a couple of times talking
to the oxen and getting them into place, using his hand to prod them up
without frightening them, until he has the sixteen standing as true as
soldiers on parade--their excitement calmed, their confidence won, and
their attention given to him.  Then, one word of encouragement and one
clear call to start, and the sixteen lean forward like one, the waggon
lifts and heaves, and out it goes with a rattle and rush.

It looks magical in its simplicity; but no lecturer is needed to explain
the magic, and if honest with yourself you will turn it over that night,
and with a sense of vague discomfort it will all become clear.  You may
be tempted, under cover of darkness, to find a translation for `watch
it' and `stick to it!' more befitting your dignity and aspirations:
`observation and reasoning,' `patience and purpose,' will seem better;
but probably you will not say so to any one else, for fear of being
laughed at.

And when the new-found knowledge has risen like yeast, and is ready to
froth over in advice to others, certain things will be brought home to
you with simple directness: that, sufficient unto the yeast is the loaf
it has to make; that, there is only one person who has got to learn from
you--yourself; and that, it is better to be still, for if you keep your
knowledge to yourself you keep your ignorance from others.

A marked span brands the driver.  The scored bullock may be a rogue or
may be a sulky obstinate brute; but the chances are he is either badly
trained or overworked, and the whip only makes matters worse; the
beginner cannot judge, and the oxen suffer.  Indeed, the beginner may
well fail in the task, for there are many and great differences in the
temperaments and characters of oxen, just as there are in other animals
or in human beings.  Once in Mashonaland, when lions broke into a kraal
and killed and ate two donkeys out of a mixed lot, the mules were found
next day twenty miles away; some of the oxen ran for several miles, and
some stopped within a few hundred yards; two men who had been roused by
the uproar saw in the moonlight one old bullock stroll out through the
gap in the kraal and stop to scratch his back with his horn; and three
others were contentedly dozing within ten yards of the half-eaten
donkeys when we went to the kraal in the early morning and found out
what had happened.

There are no two alike!  You find them nervous and lethargic, timid and
bold, independent and sociable, exceptional and ordinary, willing and
sulky, restless and content, staunch and faint-hearted--just like human
beings.  I can remember some of them now far better than many of the men
known then and since:--Achmoed and Bakir, the big after-oxen who carried
the disselboom contentedly through the trek and were spared all other
work to save them for emergencies; who, at a word, heaved together--
their great backs bent like bows and their giant strength thrown in to
hoist the waggon from the deepest hole and up the steepest hill; who
were the standby in the worst descents, lying back on their haunches to
hold the waggon up when brakes could do no more; and inseparables
always--even when outspanned the two old comrades walked together.
There was little Zole, contented, sociable and short of wind, looking
like a fat boy on a hot day, always in distress.  There was Bantom, the
big red ox with the white band, lazy and selfish, with an enduring evil
obstinacy that was simply incredible.  There was Rooiland, the light
red, with yellow eyeballs and topped horns, a fierce, wild,
unapproachable, unappeasable creature, restless and impatient, always
straining to start, always moaning fretfully when delayed, nervous as a
young thoroughbred, aloof and unfriendly to man and beast, ever ready to
stab or kick even those who handled him daily, wild as a buck, but
untouched by whip and uncalled by name; who would work with a straining,
tearing impatience that there was no checking, ever ready to outpace the
rest, and at the outspan standing out alone, hollow-flanked and panting,
eyes and nostrils wide with fierceness and distress, yet always ready to
start again--a miracle of intense vitality!  And then there was old
Zwaartland, the coal-black front ox, and the best of all: the sober
steadfast leader of the span, who knew his work by heart and answered
with quickened pace to any call of his name; swinging wide at every
curve to avoid cutting corners; easing up, yet leading free, at every
steep descent, so as neither to rush the incline nor entangle the span;
holding his ground, steady as a rock when the big pull came, heedless of
how the team swayed and strained--steadfast even when his mate gave in.
He stood out from all the rest; the massive horns--like one huge spiral
pin passed through his head, eight feet from tip to tip--balancing with
easy swing; the clean limbs and small neat feet moving with the quick
precision of a buck's tread; and the large grave eyes so soft and clear
and deep!

For those who had eyes to see the book lay open: there, as elsewhere;
there, as always.  Jock, with his courage, fidelity and concentration,
held the secrets of success!  Jim--dissolute, turbulent and savage--
could yield a lesson too; not a warning only, sometimes a crude but
clear example!  The work itself was full of test and teaching; the hard
abstemious life had its daily lessons in patience and resource, driven
home by every variety of means and incident on that unkindly road.  And
the dumb cattle--in their plodding toil, in their sufferings from
drought and over-work, and in their strength and weakness--taught and
tested too.  There is little food for self-content when all that is best
and worst comes out; but there is much food for thought.

There was a day at Kruger's Post when everything seemed small beside the
figure of one black front ox, who held his ground when all others
failed.  The waggon had sunk to the bed-plank in gluey turf, and,
although the whole load had been taken off, three spans linked together
failed to move it.  For eight hours that day we tried to dig and pull it
out, but forty-four oxen on that soft greasy flat toiled in vain.  The
long string of bullocks, desperate from failure and bewilderment, swayed
in the middle from side to side to seek escape from the flying whips;
the unyielding waggon held them at one end, and the front oxen, with
their straining fore feet scoring the slippery surface as they were
dragged backwards, strove to hold them true at the other.  Seven times
that day we changed, trying to find a mate who would stand with
Zwaartland; but he wore them all down.  He broke their hearts and stood
it out alone!  I looked at the ground afterwards: it was grooved in long
parallel lines where the swaying spans had pulled him backwards, with
his four feet clawing the ground in the effort to hold them true; but he
had never once turned or wavered.

And there was a day at Sand River, when we saw a different picture.  The
waggons were empty, yet as we came up out of the stony drift, Bantom the
sulky hung lazily back, dragging on his yoke and throwing the span out
of line.  Jim curled the big whip round him, without any good effect,
and when the span stopped for a breather in the deep narrow road, he lay
down and refused to budge.  There was no reason in the world for it
except the animal's obstinate sulky temper.  When the whip--the
giraffe-hide thong, doubled into a heavy loop--produced no effect, the
boys took the yoke off to see if freedom would tempt the animal to rise!
It did.  At the first touch of the whip Bantom jumped up and charged
them; and then, seeing that there was nothing at all the matter, the
boys inspanned him and made a fresh start--not touching him again for
fear of another fit of sulks; but at the first call on the team, down he
went again.

Many are the stories of cruelty to oxen, and I had never understood how
human beings could be so fiendishly cruel as to do some of the things
that one heard of, such as stabbing, smothering and burning cattle; nor
under what circumstances or for what reasons such acts of brutality
could be perpetrated; but what I saw that day threw some light on these
questions, and, more than anything else, it showed the length to which
sulkiness and obstinacy will go, and made me wonder whether the
explanation was to be sought in endurance of pain through temper or in
sheer incapacity to feel pain at all.  This is no defence of such
things; it is a bare recital of what took place--the only scene I can
recall of what would be regarded as wanton cruelty to oxen; and to that
extent it is an explanation, and nothing more!  Much greater and real
cruelty I have seen done by work and punishment; but it was due to
ignorance, impatience, or--on rare occasions--uncontrollable temper; it
did not look deliberate and wanton.

There were two considerations here which governed the whole case.  The
first was that as long as the ox lay there it was impossible to move the
waggon, and there was no way for the others to pass it; the second, that
the ox was free, strong and perfectly well, and all he had to do was to
get up and walk.

The drivers from the other waggons came up to lend a hand and clear the
way so that they might get on; sometimes three were at it together with
their double whips; and, before they could be stopped, sticks and stones
were used to hammer the animal on the head and horns, along the spine,
on the hocks and shins, and wherever he was supposed to have feeling;
then he was tied by the horns to the trek-chain, so that the span would
drag him bodily; but not once did he make the smallest effort to rise.
The road was merely a gutter scoured out by the floods and it was not
possible either to drag the animal up the steep sides or to leave him
and go on--the waggon would have had to pass over him.  And all this
time he was outspanned and free to go; but would not stir.

Then they did the kaffir trick--doubled the tail and bit it: very few
bullocks will stand that, but Bantom never winced.  Then they took their
clasp knives and used them as spurs--not stabbing to do real injury, but
pricking enough to draw blood in the fleshy parts, where it would be
most felt: he twitched to the pricks--but nothing more.  Then they made
a fire close behind him, and as the wood blazed up, the heat seemed
unendurable; the smell of singed hair was strong, and the flames, not a
foot away, seemed to roast the flesh, and one of the drivers took a
brand and pressed the glowing red coal against the inside of the hams;
but, beyond a vicious kick at the fire, there was no result.  Then they
tried to suffocate him, gripping the mouth and nostrils so that he could
not breathe; but, when the limit of endurance was reached and even the
spectators tightened up with a sense of suffocation, a savage shake of
the head always freed it--the brute was too strong for them.  Then they
raised the head with reims, and with the nose held high poured water
down the nostrils, at the same time keeping the mouth firmly closed; but
he blew the water all over them and shook himself free again.

For the better part of an hour the struggle went on, but there was not
the least sign of yielding on Bantom's part, and the string of waiting
waggons grew longer, and many others, white men and black, gathered
round watching, helping or suggesting.  At last some one brought a
bucket of water, and into this Bantom's muzzle was thrust as far as it
would go, and reims passed through the ears of the bucket were slipped
round his horns so that he could not shake himself free at will.  We
stood back and watched the animal's sides for signs of breathing.  For
an incredible time he held out; but at last with a sudden plunge he was
up; a bubbling muffled bellow came from the bucket; the boys let go the
reims; and the terrified animal ridding himself of the bucket after a
frantic struggle, stood with legs apart and eyeballs starting from the
sockets, shaking like a reed.

But nothing that had happened revealed the vicious ingrained obstinacy
of the animal's nature so clearly as the last act in the struggle: it
stood passive, and apparently beaten, while the boys inspanned it again.
But at the first call to the team to start, and without a touch to
provoke its temper again, it dropped down once more.  Not one of all
those looking on would have believed it possible; but there it was!  In
the most deliberate manner the challenge was again flung down, and the
whole fight begun afresh.

We felt really desperate: one could think of nothing but to repeat the
bucket trick; for it was the only one that had succeeded at all.  The
bucket had been flung aside on the stones as the ox freed itself, and
one of the boys picked it up to fetch more water.  But no more was
needed: the rattle of the bucket brought Bantom to his feet with a
terrified jump, and flinging his whole weight into the yoke, he gave the
waggon a heave that started the whole span, and they went out at a run.
The drivers had not even picked up their whips: the only incentive
applied was the bucket, which the boy--grasping the position at once--
rattled vigorously behind Bantom, doubling his frantic eagerness to get
away, amid shouts of encouragement and laughter from the watching group.

The trials and lessons of the work came in various shapes and at every
turn; and there were many trials where the lesson was not easy to read.
It would have taken a good man to handle Bantom, at any time--even in
the beginning; but, full-grown, and confirmed in his evil ways, only the
butcher could make anything out of him.

And only the butcher did!



There is a spot on the edge of the Berg which we made our summer
quarters.  When September came round and the sun swung higher in the
steely blue, blazing down more pitilessly than ever; when the little
creeks were running dry and the water-holes became saucers of cracked
mud; when the whole country smelt of fine impalpable dust; it was a
relief to quit the Bushveld, and even the hunting was given up almost
without regret.

On the Berg the air was clear and bracing, as well it might be five to
seven thousand feet above the sea.  The long green sweeps of undulating
country were broken by deep gorges where the mountain streams had cut
their way through the uptilted outer edge of the big plateau and tumbled
in countless waterfalls into the Bushveld below; and behind the rolling
downs again stood the remnants of the upper formation--the last tough
fragments of those rocks which the miners believed originally held the
gold--worn and washed away, inch by inch and ounce by ounce ever since
the Deluge.  These broken parapets stood up like ruins of giant castles
with every layer in their formation visible across their rugged
time-worn fronts--lines, in places a few yards only and in others a mile
or more in length, laid one upon another as true as any spirit level
could set them--and a wealth of colouring over all that, day by day, one
thought more wonderful in variety and blend.  Grey and black and yellow,
white and red and brown, were there; yet all harmonising, all shaded by
growths of shrub and creeper, by festoons of moss or brilliant lichen,
all weather-stained and softened, all toned, as time and nature do it,
to make straight lines and many colours blend into the picturesque.

Paradise Camp perched on the very edge of the Berg.  Behind us rolled
green slopes to the feet of the higher peaks, and in front of us lay the
Bushveld.  From the broken battlements of the Berg we looked down three
thousand feet, and eastward to the sea a hundred and fifty miles away,
across the vast panorama.  Black densely-timbered kloofs broke the edge
of the plateau into a long series of projecting turrets, in some places
cutting far in, deep crevices into which the bigger waterfalls plunged
and were lost.  But the top of the Berg itself was bare of trees: the
breeze blew cool and fresh for ever there; the waters trickled and
splashed in every little break or tumbled with steady roar down the
greater gorges; deep pools, fringed with masses of ferns, smooth as
mirrors or flecked with dancing sunlight, were set like brilliants in
the silver chain of each little stream; and rocks and pebbles, wonderful
in their colours, were magnified and glorified into polished gems by the
sparkling water.

But Nature has her moods, and it was not always thus at Paradise Camp.
When the cold mist-rains, like wet grey fogs, swept over us and for a
week blotted out creation, it was neither pleasant nor safe to grope
along the edge of the Berg, in search of strayed cattle--wet and cold,
unable to see, and checked from time to time by a keener straighter gust
that leapt up over the unseen precipice a few yards off.

And there was still another mood when the summer rains set in and the
storms burst over us, and the lightning stabbed viciously in all
directions, and the crackling crash of the thunder seemed as if the very
Berg itself must be split and shattered.  Then the rivers rose; the roar
of waters was all around us; and Paradise Camp was isolated from the
rest by floods which no man would lightly face.

Paradise Camp stood on the edge of the kloof where the nearest timber
grew; Tumbling Waters, where stood the thousand grey sandstone sentinels
of strange fantastic shapes, was a couple of miles away facing Black
Bluff, the highest point of all, and The Camel, The Wolf, The Sitting
Hen and scores more, rough casts in rock by Nature's hand, stood there.
Close below us was the Bathing Pool, with its twenty feet of purest
water, its three rock-ledge `springboards,' and its banks of moss and
canopies of tree-ferns.  Further down the stream spread in a thousand
pools and rapids over a mile of black bedrock and then poured in one
broad sheet over Graskop Falls.  And still further down were the Mac Mac
Falls, three hundred feet straight drop into the rock-strewn gorge,
where the straight walls were draped with staghorn moss, like countless
folds of delicate green lace, bespangled by the spray.  We were felling
and slipping timber for the goldfields then, and it was in these
surroundings that the work was done.

It was a Sunday morning, and I was lying on my back on a sack-stretcher
taking it easy, when Jock gave a growl and trotted out.  Presently I
heard voices in the next hut and wondered who the visitors were--too
lazily content to get up and see; then a cold nose was poked against my
cheek and I looked round to see Jess's little eyes and flickering ears
within a few inches of my face.  For the moment she did not look cross,
but as if a faint smile of welcome were flitting across a soured face;
then she trotted back to the other hut where Ted was patting Jock and
trying to trace a likeness to The Rat.

It was a long time since mother and son had been together, and if the
difference between them was remarkable, the likeness seemed to me more
striking still.  Jock had grown up by himself and made himself; he was
so different from other dogs that I had forgotten how much he owed to
good old Jess; but now that they were once more side by side everything
he did and had done recalled the likeness and yet showed the difference
between them.  Many times as we moved about the camp or worked in the
woods they walked or stood together, sometimes sniffing along some spoor
and sometimes waiting and watching for us to come up--handsome son and
ugly mother.  Ugly she might be, with her little fretful hostile eyes
and her uncertain ever-moving ears, and silent sour and cross; but
stubborn fidelity and reckless courage were hers too; and all the good
Jock had in him came from Jess.

To see them side by side was enough: every line in his golden brindled
coat had its counterpart in her dull markings; his jaw was hers, with a
difference, every whit as determined but without the savage look; his
eyes were hers--brown to black as the moods changed--yet not fretful and
cross, but serenely observant, when quiet, and black, hot and angry,
like hers, when roused--yet without the look of relentless cruelty; his
ears were hers--and yet how different, not shifting, flickering and ever
on the move, nor flattened back with the look of most uncertain temper,
but sure in their movements and faithful reflectors of more sober moods
and more balanced temper, and so often cocked--one full and one half--
with a look of genuinely friendly interest which, when he put his head
on one side, seemed to change in a curiously comical way into an
expression of quiet amusement.

The work kept us close to camp and we gave no thought to shooting; yet
Jess and Jock had some good sport together.  We gave them courses for
breathers after Oribi in the open, but these fleetest of little
antelopes left them out of sight in very few minutes.  Bushbuck too were
plentiful enough, but so wily in keeping to the dark woods and deep
kloofs that unless we organised a drive the only chance one got was to
stalk them in the early morning as they fed on the fringes of the bush.
I often wondered how the dogs would have fared with those desperate
fighters that have injured and killed more dogs and more men than any
other buck, save perhaps the Sable.

Once they caught an ant-bear in the open, and there was a
rough-and-tumble; we had no weapons--not even sticks--with us, and the
dogs had it all to themselves.  The clumsy creature could do nothing
with them; his powerful digging claws looked dangerous, but the dogs
never gave him a chance; he tried hard to reach his hole, but they
caught him as he somersaulted to dodge them, and, one in front and one
behind, worried the life out of him.

Once they killed a tiger-cat.  We heard the rush and the row, and
scrambled down through the tangled woods as fast as we could, but they
fought on, tumbling and rolling downhill before us, and when we came up
to them it was all over and they were tugging and tearing at the
lifeless black and white body, Jess at the throat and Jock at the
stomach.  The cat was as big as either of them and armed with most
formidable claws, which it had used to some purpose, for both dogs were
torn and bleeding freely in several places.  Still they thoroughly
enjoyed it and searched the place afresh every time we passed it, as
regularly as a boy looks about where he once picked up a sixpence.

Then the dainty little klipspringers led them many a crazy dance along
the crags and ledges of the mountain face, jumping from rock to rock
with the utmost ease and certainty and looking down with calm curiosity
at the clumsy scrambling dogs as they vainly tried to follow.  The
dassies too--watchful, silent and rubber-footed--played hide-and-seek
with them in the cracks and crevices; but the dogs had no chance there.

Often there were races after baboons.  There were thousands of them
along the Berg, but except when a few were found in the open, we always
called the dogs in.  Among a troop of baboons the best of dogs would
have no show at all.  Ugly, savage and treacherous as they are, they
have at least one quality which compels admiration--they stand by each
other.  If one is attacked or wounded the others will often turn back
and help, and they will literally tear a dog to pieces.  Even against
one full-grown male a dog has little or no chance; for they are very
powerful, quick as lightning, and fierce fighters.  Their enormous jaws
and teeth outmatch a dog's, and with four `hands' to help them the
advantage is altogether too great.  Their method of fighting is to hold
the dog with all four feet and tear pieces out of him with their teeth.

We knew the danger well, for there was a fighting baboon at a wayside
place not far from us--a savage brute, owned by a still greater savage.
It was kept chained up to a pole with its house on the top of the pole;
and what the owner considered to be a good joke was to entice dogs up,
either to attack the baboon or at least to come sniffing about within
reach of it, and then see them worried to death.  The excuse was always
the same: "Your dog attacked the baboon.  I can't help it."  Sometimes
the dogs were rescued by their owners; but many were killed.  To its
native cunning this brute added all the tricks that experience had
taught, sometimes hiding up in its box to induce the dog to come
sniffing close up; sometimes grubbing in the sand for food, pretending
not to see the intruder until he was well within reach; sometimes
running back in feigned alarm to draw him on.  Once it got a grip the
baboon threw itself on its side or back and, with all four feet holding
the dog off, tore lumps out of the helpless animal.  A plucky dog that
would try to make a fight of it had no chance; the only hope was to get
away, if possible.

Not every baboon is a fighter like this, but in almost every troop there
will be at least one terrible old fellow, and the biggest, strongest and
fiercest always dominate and lead the others; and their hostility and
audacity are such that they will loiter behind the retreating troop and
face a man on foot or on horseback, slowly and reluctantly giving way,
or sometimes moving along abreast, a hostile escort, giving loud roars
of defiance and hoarse challenges as though ready on the least
provocation or excuse to charge.  It is not a pleasant position for an
unarmed man, as at the first move or call from the leader the whole
troop would come charging down again.  It is not actual danger that
impresses one, but the uncanny effect of the short defiant roars, the
savage half-human look of the repulsive creatures, their still more
human methods of facial expression and threatening attitudes, their
tactics in encircling their object and using cover to approach and peer
out cautiously from behind it, and their evident co-operation and
obedience to the leader's directions and example.

One day while at work in the woods there came to us a grizzled
worn-looking old kaffir, whose head ring of polished black wax attested
his dignity as a kehla.  He carried an old musket and was attended by
two youngsters armed with throwing-sticks and a hunting assegai each.
He appeared to be a `somebody' in a small way, and we knew at a glance
that he had not come for nothing.

There is a certain courtesy and a good deal of formality observed among
the natives which is appreciated by but few of the white men who come in
contact with them.  One reason for this failure in appreciation is that
native courtesy is in its method and expression sometimes just the
reverse of what we consider proper; and if actions which seem suggestive
of disrespect were judged from the native's standpoint, and according to
his code, there would be no misunderstanding.  The old man, passing and
ignoring the group of boys, came towards us as we sat in the shade for
the midday rest, and slowly came to a stand a few yards off, leaning on
his long flint-lock quietly taking stock of us each in turn, and waiting
for us to inspect him.  Then, after three or four minutes of this, he
proceeded to salute us separately with "Sakubona, Umlungu!" delivered
with measured deliberation at intervals of about a quarter of a minute,
each salutation being accompanied by the customary upward movement of
the head--their respectful equivalent of our nod or bow.  When he had
done the round, his two attendants took their turns, and when this was
over, and another long pause had served to mark his respect, he drew
back a few paces to a spot about half-way between us and where the
kaffirs sat, and, tucking his loin skins comfortably under him, squatted
down.  Ten minutes more elapsed before he allowed his eyes to wander
absently round towards the boys and finally to settle on them for a
repetition of the performance that we had been favoured with.  But in
this case it was they who led off with the "Sakubona, Umganaam!" which
he acknowledged with the raising of the head and a soft murmur of
contented recognition, "A-he."

Once more there was silence for a spell, while he waited to be
questioned in the customary manner and to give an account of himself,
before it would be courteous or proper to introduce the subject of his
visit.  It was Jim's voice that broke the silence--clear and imperative,
as usual, but not uncivil.  It always was Jim who cut in, as those do
who are naturally impatient of delays and formalities.

"Velapi, Umganaam?"  (Where do you come from, friend?) he asked, putting
the question which is recognised as courteously providing the stranger
with an opening to give an account of himself; and he is expected and
required to do so to their satisfaction before he in turn can ask all
about them, their occupations, homes, destination and master, and his
occupation, purpose and possessions.

The talk went round in low exchanges until at last the old man moved
closer and joined the circle; and then the other voices dropped out,
only to be heard once in a while in some brief question or that briefest
of all comments--the kaffir click and "Ow!"  It may mean anything,
according to the tone, but it was clearly sympathetic on that occasion.
The old man's voice went on monotonously in a low-pitched impassive
tone; but the boys hung intent on every word to the end.  Then one or
two questions, briefly answered in the same tone of detached philosophic
indifference, brought their talk to a close.  The old fellow tapped his
carved wood snuff-box with the carefully-preserved long yellowish nail
of one forefinger, and pouring some snuff into the palm of his hand,
drew it into each nostril in turn with long luxurious sniffs; and then,
resting his arms on his knees, he relapsed into complete silence.

We called the boys to start work again, and they came away, as is their
custom, without a word or look towards the man whose story had held them
for the last half-hour.  Nor did he speak or stir, but sat on unmoved, a
picture of stoical indifference.  But who can say if it be indifference
or fatalism or the most astute diplomacy?  Among white men opinions
differ: I put it down as fatalism.

We asked no questions, for we knew it was no accident that had brought
the old man our way: he wanted something, and we would learn soon enough
what it was.  So we waited.

As we gathered round the fallen tree to finish the cleaning and slip it
down to the track Jim remarked irrelevantly that tigers were `schelms,'
and it was his conviction that there were a great many in the kloofs
round about.  At intervals during the next hour or so he dropped other
scraps about tigers and their ways, and how to get at them and what good
sport it was, winding up with a short account of how two seasons back an
English `Capitaine' had been killed by one only a few miles away.

Jim was no diplomatist: he had tiger on the brain, and showed it; so
when I asked him bluntly what the old man had been talking about, the
whole story came out.  There was a tiger--it was of course the biggest
ever seen--which had been preying on the old chief's kraal for the last
six months: dogs, goats and kaffir sheep innumerable had disappeared,
even fowls were not despised; and only two days ago the climax had been
reached when, in the cool of the afternoon and in defiance of the
yelling herd boy, it had slipped into the herd at the drinking-place and
carried off a calf--a heifer-calf too!  The old man was poor: the tiger
had nearly ruined him; and he had come up to see if we, "who were great
hunters," would come down and kill the thief, or at least lend him a
tiger-trap, as he could not afford to buy one.

In the evening when we returned to camp we found the old fellow there,
and heard the story told with the same patient resignation or stoical
indifference with which he had told it to the boys; and, if there was
something inscrutable in the smoky eyes that might have hidden a more
calculating spirit, it did not trouble us--the tiger was what we wanted;
the chance seemed good enough; and we decided to go.  Tigers--as they
are almost invariably called, but properly, leopards--were plentiful
enough and were often to be heard at night in the kloofs below; but they
are extremely wary animals and in the inhabited parts rarely move about
by day; however, the marauding habits and the audacity of this fellow
were full of promise.

The following afternoon we set off with our guns and blankets, a little
food for two days, and the tiger-trap; and by nightfall we had reached
the foot of the Berg by paths and ways which you might think only a
baboon could follow.

It was moonlight, and we moved along through the heavily-timbered kloofs
in single file behind the shadowy figure of the shrivelled old chief.
His years seemed no handicap to him, as with long easy soft-footed
strides he went on hour after hour.  The air was delightfully cool and
sweet with the fresh smells of the woods; the damp carpet of moss and
dead leaves dulled the sound of our more blundering steps; now and again
through the thick canopy of evergreens we caught glimpses of the moon,
and in odd places the light threw stumps or rocks into quaint relief or
turned some tall bare trunk into a ghostly sentinel of the forest.

We had crossed the last of the many mountain streams and reached open
ground when the old chief stopped, and pointing to the face of a high
krans--black and threatening in the shadow, as it seemed to overhang
us--said that somewhere up there was a cave which was the tiger's home,
and it was from this safe refuge that he raided the countryside.

The kraal was not far off.  From the top of the spur we could look
round, as from the pit of some vast coliseum, and see the huge wall of
the Berg towering up above and half enclosing us, the whole arena roofed
over by the star-spattered sky.  The brilliant moonlight picked out
every ridge and hill, deepening the velvet black of the shadowed
valleys, and on the rise before us there was the twinkling light of a
small fire, and the sound of voices came to us, borne on the still night
air, so clearly that words picked out here and there were repeated by
our boys with grunting comments and chuckles of amusement.

We started on again down an easy slope passing through some bush, and at
the bottom came on level ground thinly covered with big shady trees and
scattered undergrowth.  As we walked briskly through the flecked and
dappled light and shade, we were startled by the sudden and furious rush
of Jess and Jock off the path and away into the scrub on the left; and
immediately after there was a grunting noise, a crashing and scrambling,
and then one sharp clear yelp of pain from one of the dogs.  The old
chief ran back behind us, shouting "Ingwa, ingwa!"  (Tiger, tiger).  We
slipped our rifles round and stood facing front, unable to see anything
and not knowing what to expect.  There were sounds of some sort in the
bush--something like a faint scratching, and something like smothered
sobbing grunts, but so indistinct as to be more ominous and disquieting
than absolute silence.

"He has killed the dogs," the old chief said, in a low voice.

But as he said it there was a rustle in front, and something came out
towards us.  The guns were up and levelled, instantly, but dropped again
when we saw it was a dog; and Jess came back limping badly and stopping
every few paces to shake her head and rub her mouth against her
fore-paws.  She was in great pain and breathed out faint barely-audible
whines from time to time.

We waited for minutes, but Jock did not appear; and as the curious
sounds still came from the bush we moved forward in open order, very
slowly and with infinite caution.  As we got closer, scouting each bush
and open space, the sounds grew clearer, and suddenly it came to me that
it was the noise of a body being dragged and the grunting breathing of a
dog.  I called sharply to Jock and the sound stopped; and taking a few
paces forward then, I saw him in a moonlit space turning round and round
on the pivot of his hind legs and swinging or dragging something much
bigger than himself.

Jim gave a yell and shot past me, plunging his assegai into the object
and shouting "Porcupine, porcupine," at the top of his voice.  We were
all round it in a couple of seconds, but I think the porcupine was as
good as dead even before Jim had stabbed it.  Jock was still holding on
grimly, tugging with all his might and always with the same movement of
swinging it round him, or, of himself circling round it--perhaps that is
the fairer description, for the porcupine was much the heavier.  He had
it by the throat where the flesh is bare of quills, and had kept himself
out of reach of the terrible spikes by pulling away all the time, just
as he had done with the duiker and other buck to avoid their hind feet.

This encounter with the porcupine gave us a better chance of getting the
tiger than we ever expected--too good a chance to be neglected; so we
cut the animal up and used the worthless parts to bait the big
tiger-trap, having first dragged them across the veld for a good
distance each way to leave a blood spoor which would lead the tiger up
to the trap.  This, with the quantity of blood spread about in the
fight, lying right in the track of his usual prowling ought to attract
his attention, we thought; and we fastened the trap to a big tree,
making an avenue of bushes up to the bait so that he would have to walk
right over the trap hidden under the dead leaves, in order to get at the
bait.  We hoped that, if it failed to hold, it would at least wound him
badly enough to enable us to follow him up in the morning.

In the bright light of the fire that night, as Jock lay beside me having
his share of the porcupine steaks, I noticed something curious about his
chest, and on looking closer found the whole of his white `shirt front'
speckled with dots of blood; he had been pricked in dozens of places,
and it was clear that it had been no walk-over for him; he must have had
a pretty rough handling before he got the porcupine on the swing.  He
was none the worse, however, and was the picture of contentment as he
lay beside me in the ring facing the fire.

But Jess was a puzzle.  From the time that she had come hobbling back to
us, carrying her one foot in the air and stopping to rub her mouth on
her paws, we had been trying to find out what was the matter.  The foot
trouble was clear enough, for there was a quill fifteen inches long and
as stiff and thick as a lead pencil still piercing the ball of her foot,
with the needle-like point sticking out between her toes.  Fortunately
it had not been driven far through and the hole was small, so that once
it was drawn and the foot bandaged she got along fairly well.  It was
not the foot that was troubling her; all through the evening she kept
repeating the movement of her head, either rubbing it on her front legs
or wiping her muzzle with the paws, much as a cat does when washing its
face.  She would not touch food and could not lie still for five
minutes; and we could do nothing to help her.



No one had doubted Jess's courage, even when we saw her come back alone:
we knew there was something wrong, but in spite of every care and effort
we could not find out what it was, and poor old Jess went through the
night in suffering, making no sound, but moving from place to place
weary and restless, giving long tired quivering sighs, and pawing at her
mouth from time to time.  In the morning light we again looked her all
over carefully, and especially opened her mouth and examined that and
her nostrils, but could find nothing to show what was wrong.

The puzzle was solved by accident: Ted was sitting on the ground when
she came up to him, looking wistfully into his face again with one of
the mute appeals for help.

"What is it, Jess, old girl?" he said, and reaching out, he caught her
head in both hands and drew her towards him; but with a sharp
exclamation he instantly let go again, pricked by something, and a drop
of blood oozed from one finger-tip.  Under Jess's right ear there was a
hard sharp point just showing through the skin: we all felt it, and when
the skin was forced back we saw it was the tip of a porcupine quill.
There was no pulling it out or moving it, however, nor could we for a
long time find where it had entered.  At last Ted noticed what looked
like a tiny narrow strip of bark adhering to the outside of her lower
lip, and this turned out to be the broken end of the quill, snapped off
close to the flesh; not even the end of the quill was visible--only the
little strip that had peeled off in the breaking.

Poor old Jess!  We had no very grand appliances for surgery, and had to
slit her lip down with an ordinary skinning knife.  Ted held her between
his knees and gripped her head with both hands, while one of us pulled
with steel pliers on the broken quill until it came out.  The quill had
pierced her lower lip, entered the gums beside the front teeth, run all
along the jaw and through the flesh behind, coming out just below the
ear.  It was over seven inches long.  She struggled a little under the
rough treatment, and there was a protesting whimper when we tugged; but
she did not let out one cry under all the pain.

We knew then that Jess had done her share in the fight, and guessed that
it was she who in her reckless charge had rolled the porcupine over and
given Jock his chance.

The doctoring of Jess had delayed us considerably, and while we were
still busy at it the old chief came up to say that his scouts had
returned and reported that there was no tiger to be seen, but that they
thought the trap had been sprung.  They had not liked to go close up,
preferring to observe the spot from a tree some way off.

The first question was what to do with Jess.  We had no collar or chain,
of course, and nothing would induce her to stay behind once Ted started;
she would have bitten through ropes and reims in a few minutes, and no
kaffir would have faced the job of watching over and checking her.
Finally we put her into one of the reed and mud huts, closing the
entrance with some raw hides weighted with heavy stones; and off we

We found the trap sprung and the bait untouched.  The spoor was a
tiger's, right enough, and we saw where it had circled suspiciously all
round before finally entering the little fenced approach which we had
built to shepherd it on to the trap.  There each footprint was clear,
and it appeared that instead of cautiously creeping right up to the bait
and stepping on the setting-plate, it had made a pounce at the bait from
about ten feet away, releasing the trap by knocking the spring or by
touching the plate with the barrel of its body.  The tiger had evidently
been nipped, but the body was too big for the teeth to close on, and no
doubt the spring it gave on feeling the grip underneath set it free with
nothing worse than a bad scraping and a tremendous fright.  There was
plenty of hair and some skin on the teeth of the trap, but very little
blood there, and none at all to be found round about.

That was almost the worst result we could have had: the tiger was not
crippled, nor was it wounded enough to enable us to track it, but must
have been so thoroughly alarmed that it would certainly be extremely
nervous and suspicious of everything now, and would probably avoid the
neighbourhood for some time to come.

The trap was clearly of no further use, but after coming so far for the
tiger we were not disposed to give up the hunt without another effort.
The natives told us it was quite useless to follow it up as it was a
real `schelm,' and by that time would be miles away in some inaccessible
krans.  We determined however to go on, and if we failed to get a trace
of the tiger, to put in the day hunting bushbuck or wild pig, both of
which were fairly plentiful.

We had not gone more than a few hundred yards when an exclamation from
one of the boys made us look round, and we saw Jess on the opposite
slope coming along full speed after us with her nose to the trail.  She
had scratched and bitten her way through the reed and mud wall of the
hut, scared the wits out of a couple of boys who had tried to head her
off, and raced away after us with a pack of kaffir mongrels yelping
unnoticed at her heels.  She really did not seem much the worse for her
wounds, and was--for her--quite demonstrative in her delight at finding
us again.

In any case there was nothing to be done but to let her come, and we
went on once more beating up towards the lair in the black krans with
the two dogs in the lead.

The guides led us down into the bed of one of the mountain streams, and
following this up we were soon in the woods where the big trees meeting
overhead made it dark and cool.  It was difficult in that light to see
anything clearly at first, and the considerable undergrowth of shrub and
creepers and the boulders shed from the Berg added to the difficulty and
made progress slow.  We moved along as much as possible abreast, five or
six yards apart, but were often driven by obstacles into the bed of the
stream for short distances in order to make headway at all, and although
there did not seem to be much chance of finding the tiger at home, we
crept along cautiously and noiselessly, talking--when we had to--only in

We were bunched together, preparing to crawl along a rock overhanging a
little pool, when the boy in front made a sign and pointed with his
assegai to the dogs.  They had crossed the stream and were walking--very
slowly and abreast--near the water's edge.  The rawest of beginners
would have needed no explanation.  The two stood for a few seconds
sniffing at a particular spot and then both together looked steadily
upstream: there was another pause and they moved very slowly and
carefully forward a yard or so and sniffed again with their noses almost
touching.  As they did this the hair on their backs and shoulders began
to rise until, as they reached the head of the pool, they were bristling
like hedgehogs and giving little purring growls.

The guide went over to them while we waited, afraid to move lest the
noise of our boots on the stones should betray us.  After looking round
for a bit he pointed to a spot on the bank where he had found the fresh
spoor of the tiger, and picking up something there to show to us he came
back to our side.  It was a little fragment of whitish skin with white
hairs on it.  There was no doubt about it then: we were on the fresh
spoor of the tiger where it had stopped to drink at the pool and
probably to lick the scratches made by the trap; and leaving the bed of
the stream it had gone through the thick undergrowth up towards the

We were not more than a hundred yards from the krans then, and the track
taken by the tiger was not at all an inviting one.  It was at first
merely a narrow tunnel in the undergrowth up the steep hillside, through
which we crept in single file with the two dogs a few yards in front;
they moved on in the same silent deliberate way, so intent and strung up
that they started slightly and instantly looked up in front at the least
sound.  As the ascent became steeper and more rocky, the undergrowth
thinned and we were able to spread out into line once more, threading
our way through several roughly-parallel game tracks or natural openings
and stooping low to watch the dogs and take our cue from them.

We were about fifteen yards from the precipitous face of the krans, and
had just worked round a huge boulder into a space fairly free of bush
but cumbered with many big rocks and loose stones, when the dogs stopped
and stood quivering and bristling all over, moving their heads slowly
about with noses well raised and sniffing persistently.  There was
something now that interested them more than the spoor: they winded the
tiger itself, but could not tell where.  No one stirred: we stood
watching the dogs and snatching glances right and left among the
boulders and their a shady creeper-hidden caves and recesses, and as we
stood thus, grouped together in breathless silence, an electrifying
snarling roar came from the krans above and the spotted body of the
tiger shot like a streak out of the black mouth of a cave and across our
front into the bush; there was a series of crashing bounds, as though a
stone rolled from the mountain were leaping through the jungle; and then
absolute silence.

We explored the den; but there was nothing of interest in it--no remains
of food, no old bones, or other signs of cubs.  It seemed to be the
retreat of a male tiger--secluded, quiet, and cool.  The opening was not
visible from any distance, a split-off slab of rock partly hiding it;
but when we stood upon the rock platform we found that almost the whole
of the horse-shoe bay in the Berg into which we had descended was
visible, and it was with a "Wow!" of surprise and mortification that the
kraal boys found they could see the kraal itself and their goats and
cattle grazing on the slopes and in the valley below.

Tigers do not take their kill to their dens unless there are young cubs
to be fed; as a rule they feed where they kill, or as near to it as
safety permits, and when they have fed their fill they carry off the
remainder of the carcase and hide it.  Lions, hyenas, and others leave
what they cannot eat and return to it for their next feed; but tigers
are more provident and more cunning, and--being able to climb trees--
they are very much more difficult to follow or waylay by means of their
kill.  They are not big fellows, rarely exceeding seven feet from nose
to tip of tail and 130 pounds in weight; but they are extraordinarily
active and strong, and it is difficult to believe until one has seen the
proof of it that they are able to climb the bare trunk of a tree
carrying a kill much bigger and heavier than themselves, and hang it
safely wedged in some hidden fork out of reach of any other animal.  I
have repeatedly seen the remains of their victims in the forks of trees;
once it was part of a pig, but on the other occasions the remains were
of horned animals; the pig was balanced in the fork; the others were
hooked in by the heads and horns.

A well-known hunter once told me an experience of his illustrating the
strength and habits of tigers.  He had shot a young giraffe and carried
off as much as he could put on his horse, and hid the rest; but when he
returned next morning it had disappeared, and the spoor of a full-grown
tiger told him why.  He followed the drag mark up to the foot of a big
tree and found the remains of the carcase, fully 300 pounds in weight,
in a fork more than twenty feet from the ground.

He left it there as a bait and returned again the following morning on
the chance of a shot; but the meat had once more been removed and on
following up the spoor he found what was left hidden in another tree
some two hundred yards away.

It would have been waste of time to follow our tiger--he would be on the
watch and on the move for hours; so we gave it up at once, and struck
across the spurs for another part of the big arena where pig and
bushbuck were known to feed in the mornings.  It was slow and difficult
work, as the bush was very dense and the ground rough.  The place was
riddled with game tracks, and we saw spoor of koodoo and eland several
times, and tracks innumerable of wild pig, rietbuck, bushbuck, and
duiker.  But there was more than spoor: a dozen times we heard the crash
of startled animals through the reeds or bush only a few yards away
without being able to see a thing.

We had nearly reached the kloof we were aiming for when we had the good
luck to get a bushbuck in a very unexpected way.  We had worked our way
out of a particularly dense patch of bush and brambles into a corner of
the woods and were resting on the mossy ground in the shade of the big
trees when the sound of clattering stones a good way off made us start
up again and grab our rifles; and presently we saw, outlined against the
band of light which marked the edge of the timber, a buck charging down
towards us.  Three of us fired together, and the buck rolled over within
a few yards of where we stood.

We were then in a `dead end' up against the precipitous face of the Berg
where there was no road or path other than game tracks, and where no
human being ever went except for the purpose of hunting.  We knew there
was no one else shooting there, and it puzzled us considerably to think
what had scared the bushbuck; for the animal had certainly been startled
and perhaps chased; the pace, the noise it made, and the blind
recklessness of its dash, all showed that.  The only explanation we
could think of was that the tiger, in making a circuit along the slopes
of the Berg to get away from us, must have put the buck up and driven it
down on to us in the woods below, and if that were so, the reports of
our rifles must have made him think that he was never going to get rid
of us.

We skinned and cut up the buck and pushed on again; but the roughness of
the trail and the various stoppages had delayed us greatly, and we
failed to get the expected bag.  We got one rietbuck and a young boar;
the rietbuck was a dead shot; but the pig, from the shooting standpoint,
was a most humiliating failure.  A troop of twenty or thirty started up
from under our feet as we came out of the blazing sunlight into the
gloom of the woods, and no one could see well enough to aim.  They were
led by a grand boar, and the whole lot looked like a troop of charging
lions as they raced by with their bristly manes erect and their tufted
tails standing straight up.

As we stood there, crestfallen and disgusted, we heard fresh grunting
behind, and turning round we saw one pig racing past in the open, having
apparently missed the troop while wallowing in a mudhole and known
nothing of our intrusion until he heard the shooting.  We gave him a
regular broadside, and--as is usually the case when you think that
quantity will do in place of quality--made an awful mess of it, and
before we had time to reload Jess and Jock had cut in, and we could not
fire again for fear of hitting them.  The boys, wildly delighted by this
irregular development which gave them such a chance, joined in the chase
and in a few seconds it became a chaotic romp like a rat hunt in a
schoolroom.  The dogs ranged up on each side and were on to the pig
together, Jess hanging on to one ear and Jock at the neck; the boar dug
right and left at them, but his tusks were short and blunt, and if he
managed to get at them at all they bore no mark of it afterwards.  For
about twenty yards they dragged and tugged, and then all three came
somersaulting over together.  In the scramble Jock got his grip on the
throat, and Jess--rolled and trampled on--appeared between the pig's
hind legs, sliding on her back with her teeth embedded in one of the
hams.  For half a minute the boar, grunting and snorting, plunged about
madly, trying to get at them or to free himself; and then the boys
caught up and riddled him with their assegais.

After the two bombardments of the pigs and the fearful row made by the
boys there was not much chance of putting up anything more, and we made
for the nearest stream in the woods for a feed and a rest before
returning to camp.

We had failed to get the tiger, it is true, and it would be useless
giving more time or further thought to him, for in all probability it
would be a week or more before he returned to his old hunting-ground and
his old marauding tricks, but the porcupine and the pig had provided
more interest and amusement than much bigger game might have done, and
on the whole, although disappointed, we were not dissatisfied: in fact,
it would have needed an ungrateful spirit indeed to feel discontented in
such surroundings.

Big trees of many kinds and shapes united to make a canopy of leaves
overhead through which only occasional shafts of sunlight struck.  The
cold mountain stream tumbling over ledges, swirling among rocks or
rippling over pebble-strewn reaches, gurgled, splashed and bubbled with
that wonderful medley of sounds that go to make the lullaby of the
brook.  The floor of the forest was carpeted with a pile of staghorn
moss a foot thick, and maidenhair fern grew everywhere with the
luxuriant profusion of weeds in a tropical garden.  Traveller's Joy
covered whole trees with dense creamy bloom and spread its fragrance
everywhere; wild clematis trailed over stumps and fallen branches;
quantities of maidenhair overflowed the banks and drooped to the water
all along the course of the stream; whilst, marshalled on either side,
huddled together on little islands, perched on rocks, and grouped on
overhanging ledges, stood the tree-ferns--as though they had come to
drink--their wide-reaching delicate fronds like giant green
ostrich-feathers waving gently to each breath of air or quivering as the
movement of the water shook the trunks.

Long-tailed greeny-grey monkeys with black faces peered down at us,
moving lightly on their branch trapezes, and pulled faces or chattered
their indignant protest against intrusion; in the tops of the wild fig
trees bright green pigeons watched us shyly--great big birds of a
wonderful green; gorgeous louries too flashed their colours and raised
their crests--pictures of extreme and comical surprise; golden cuckoos
there were also and beautiful little green-backed ruby-throated
honey-suckers, flitted like butterflies among the flowers on the sunlit
fringe of the woods.

Now and again guinea-fowl and bush-pheasant craned their necks over some
fallen log or stone to peer curiously at us, then stooping low again
darted along their well-worn runs into the thick bush.  The place was in
fact a natural preserve; a `bay' let into the wall of the Berg,
half-encircled by cliffs which nothing could climb, a little world where
the common enemy--man--seldom indeed intruded.

We stayed there until the afternoon sun had passed behind the crest of
the Berg above us; and, instead of going back the way we came, skirted
along the other arm enclosing the bay to have the cool shade of the
mountain with us on our return journey.  But the way was rough; the
jungle was dense; we were hot and torn and tired; and the shadow of the
mountain stretched far out across the foothills by the time the corner
was reached.  We sat down to rest at last in the open on the long spur
on which, a couple of miles away, the slanting sun picked out the red
and black cattle, the white goats, and the brown huts of the kaffir

Our route lay along the side of the spur, skirting the rocky backbone
and winding between occasional boulders, clumps of trees and bush, and
we had moved on only a little way when a loud "Waugh" from a baboon on
the mountain behind made us stop to look back.  The hoarse shout was
repeated several times, and each time more loudly and emphatically; it
seemed like the warning call of a sentry who had seen us.  Moved by
curiosity we turned aside on to the ridge itself, and from the top of a
big rock scanned the almost precipitous face opposite.  The spur on
which we stood was divided from the Berg itself only by a deep but
narrow kloof or ravine, and every detail of the mountain side stood out
in the clear evening air, but against the many-coloured rocks the grey
figure of a baboon was not easy to find as long as it remained still,
and although from time to time the barking roar was repeated, we were
still scanning the opposite hill when one of the boys pointed down the
slope immediately below us and called out, "There, there, Baas!"

The troop of baboons had evidently been quite close to us--hidden from
us only by the little line of rocks--and on getting warning from their
sentry on the mountain had stolen quietly away and were then
disappearing into the timbered depth of the ravine.  We sat still to
watch them come out on the opposite side a few minutes later and clamber
up the rocky face, for they are always worth watching; but while we
watched, the stillness was broken by an agonised scream--horribly human
in its expression of terror--followed by roars, barks, bellows and
screams from scores of voices in every key; and the crackle of breaking
sticks and the rattle of stones added to the medley of sound as the
baboons raced out of the wood and up the bare rocky slope.

"What is it?"

"What's the matter?"

"There's something after them."

"Look, look! there they come:" burst from one and another of us as we
watched the extraordinary scene.  The cries from below seemed to waken
the whole mountain; great booming "waughs" came from different places
far apart and ever so high up the face of the Berg; each big roar seemed
to act like a trumpet-call and bring forth a multitude of others; and
the air rang with bewildering shouts and echoes volleying round the
kloofs and faces of the Berg.  The strange thing was that the baboons
did not continue their terrified scramble up the mountain, but, once out
of the bush, they turned and rallied.  Forming an irregular semicircle
they faced down hill, thrusting their heads forward with sudden jerks as
though to launch their cries with greater vehemence, and feinting to
charge; they showered loose earth, stones and debris of all sorts down
with awkward underhand scrapes of their fore-paws, and gradually but
surely descended to within a dozen yards of the bush's edge.

"Baas, Baas, the tiger!  Look, the tiger!  There, there on the rock

Jim shot the words out in vehement gusts, choky with excitement; and
true enough, there the tiger was.  The long spotted body was crouched on
a flat rock just below the baboons; he was broadside to us, with his
fore-quarters slightly raised and his face turned towards the baboons;
with wide-opened mouth he snarled savagely at the advancing line, and
with right paw raised made threatening dabs in their direction.  His
left paw pinned down the body of a baboon.

The voices from the mountain boomed louder and nearer as, clattering and
scrambling down the face, came more and more baboons: there must have
been hundreds of them; the semicircle grew thicker and blacker, more and
more threatening, foot by foot closer.  The tiger raised himself a
little more and took swift looks from side to side across the advancing
front, and then his nerve went, and with one spring he shot from the
rock into the bush.

There was an instant forward rush of the half-moon, and the rock was
covered with roaring baboons, swarming over their rescued comrade; and a
moment later the crowd scrambled up the slope again, taking the tiger's
victim with them.  In that seething rabble I could pick out nothing, but
all the kaffirs maintained they could see the mauled one dragged along
by its arms by two others, much as a child might be helped uphill.

We were still looking excitedly about--trying to make out what the
baboons were doing, watching the others still coming down the Berg, and
peering anxiously for a sight of the tiger--when once more Jim's voice
gave us a shock.

"Where are the dogs?" he asked; and the question turned us cold.  If
they had gone after the baboons they were as good as dead already--
nothing could save them.  Calling was useless: nothing could be heard in
the roar and din that the enraged animals still kept up.  We watched the
other side of the ravine with something more than anxiety, and when
Jock's reddish-looking form broke through the bracken near to the
tiger's rock, I felt like shutting my eyes till all was over.  We saw
him move close under the rock and then disappear.  We watched for some
seconds--it may have been a minute, but it seemed an eternity--and then,
feeling the utter futility of waiting there, jumped off the rock and ran
down the slope in the hope that the dogs would hear us call from there.

From where the slope was steepest we looked down into the bed of the
stream at the bottom of the ravine, and the two dogs were there: they
were moving cautiously down the wide stony watercourse just as we had
seen them move in the morning, their noses thrown up and heads turning
slowly from side to side.  We knew what was coming; there was no time to
reach them through the bush below; the cries of the baboons made calling
useless; and the three of us sat down with rifles levelled ready to fire
at the first sight.  With gun gripped and breath hard held, watching
intently every bush and tree and rock, every spot of light and shade, we
sat--not daring to move.  Then, over the edge of a big rock overlooking
the two dogs, appeared something round; and, smoothly yet swiftly and
with a snake-like movement, the long spotted body followed the head and,
flattened against the rock, crept stealthily forward until the tiger
looked straight down upon Jess and Jock.

The three rifles cracked like one, and with a howl of rage and pain the
tiger shot out over the dogs' heads, raced along the stony bed, and
suddenly plunging its nose into the ground, pitched over--dead.

It was shot through the heart, and down the ribs on each side were the
scraped marks of the trap.



The summer slipped away--the full-pulsed ripeness; of the year; beauty
and passion; sunshine and storm; long spells of peace and gentleness, of
springing life and radiant glory; short intervals of reckless tempest
and destructive storm!  Among the massed evergreens of the woods there
stood out here and there bright spots of colour, the careless dabs from
Nature's artist hand; yellow and brown, orange and crimson, all vividly
distinct, yet all in perfect harmony.  The rivers, fed from the
replenished mountains' stores, ran full but clear; the days were bright;
the nights were cold; the grass was rank and seeding; and it was time to

Once more the Bushveld beckoned us away.

We picked a spot where grass and water were good, and waited for the
rivers to fall; and it was while loitering there that a small hunting
party from the fields making for the Sabi came across us and camped for
the night.  In the morning two of our party joined them for a few days
to try for something big.

It was too early in the season for really good sport.  The rank tropical
grass--six to eight feet high in most places, twelve to fourteen in
some--was too green to burn yet, and the stout stems and heavy seed
heads made walking as difficult as in a field of tangled sugar cane; for
long stretches it was not possible to see five yards, and the dew in the
early mornings was so heavy that after a hundred yards of such going one
was drenched to the skin.

We were forced into the more open parts--the higher, stonier, more
barren ground where just then the bigger game was by no means plentiful.

On the third day two of us started out to try a new quarter in the hilly
country rising towards the Berg.  My companion, Francis, was an
experienced hunter and his idea was that we should find the big game,
not on the hot humid flats or the stony rises, but still higher up on
the breezy hill tops or in the cool shady kloofs running towards the
mountains.  We passed a quantity of smaller game that morning, and
several times heard the stampede of big animals--wildebeeste and
waterbuck, as we found by the spoor--but it was absolutely impossible to
see them.  The dew was so heavy that even our hats were soaking wet, and
times out of number we had to stop to wipe the water out of our eyes in
order to see our way; a complete ducking would not have made the least

Jock fared better than we did, finding openings and game tracks at his
own level, which were of no use to us; he also knew better than we did
what was going on ahead, and it was tantalising in the extreme to see
him slow down and stand with his nose thrown up, giving quick soft
sniffs and ranging his head from side to side, when he knew there was
something quite close, and knew too that a few more toiling steps in
that rank grass would be followed by a rush of something which we would
never see.

Once we heard a foot stamp not twenty yards off, and stood for a couple
of minutes on tip-toe trying to pierce the screen of grass in front,
absolutely certain that eyes and ears were turned on us in death-like
silence waiting for the last little proof of the intruder that would
satisfy their owners and start them off before we could get a glimpse.
The silence must have made them suspicious, for at some signal unknown
to us the troop broke away and we had the mortification to see
something, which we had ignored as a branch, tilt slowly back and
disappear: there was no mistaking the koodoo bull's horns once they

After two hours of this we struck a stream, and there we made somewhat
better pace and less noise, often taking to the bed of the creek for
easier going.  There, too, we found plenty of drinking-places and plenty
of fresh spoor of the bigger game, and as the hills began to rise in
view above the bush and trees, we found what Francis was looking for.
Something caught his eye on the far side of the stream, and he waded in.
I followed and when half-way through; saw the contented look on his
face and caught his words: "Buffalo!  I thought so!"

We sat down then to think it out.  The spoor told of a troop of a dozen
to sixteen animals--bulls, cows, and calves; and it was that morning's
spoor: even in the soft moist ground at the stream's edge the water had
not yet oozed into most of the prints.  Fortunately there was a light
breeze from the hills, and as it seemed probable that in any case they
would make that way for the hot part of the day we decided to follow for
some distance on the track and then make for the likeliest poort in the

The buffalo had come up from the low country in the night on a course
striking the creek diagonally in the drinking-place; their departing
spoor went off at a slight tangent from the stream--the two trails
making a very wide angle at the drinking-place and confirming the idea
that after their night's feed in the rich grass lower down they were
making for the hills again in the morning and had touched at the stream
to drink.

Jock seemed to gather from our whispered conversation and silent
movements that there was work to hand, and his eyes moved from one face
to the other as we talked, much as a child watches the faces in a
conversation it cannot quite follow.  When we got up and began to move
along the trail, he gave one of his little sideways bounds, as if he
half thought of throwing a somersault and restrained himself; and then
with several approving waggings of his tail settled down at once to

Jock went in front: it was best so, and quite safe, for, whilst certain
to spot anything long before we could, there was not the least risk of
his rushing it or making any noise.  The slightest whisper of a "Hst"
from me would have brought him to a breathless standstill at any moment;
but even this was not likely to be needed, for he kept as close a watch
on my face as I did on him.

There was, of course, no difficulty whatever in following the spoor; the
animals were as big as cattle, and their trail through the rank grass
was as plain as a road: our difficulty was to get near enough to see
them without being heard.  Under the down-trodden grass there were
plenty of dry sticks to step on, any of which would have been as fatal
to our chances as a pistol shot, and even the unavoidable rustle of the
grass might betray, us while the buffalo themselves remained hidden.
Thus our progress was very slow, a particularly troublesome impediment
being the grass stems thrown down across the trail by the animals
crossing and re-crossing each others' spoor and stopping to crop a
mouthful here and there or perhaps to play.  The tambookie grass in
these parts has a stem thicker than a lead pencil, more like young
bamboo than grass; and these stems thrown cross-ways by storms or game
make an entanglement through which the foot cannot be forced: it means
high stepping all the time.

We expected to follow the spoor for several miles before coming on the
buffalo--probably right into the kloof towards which it appeared to
lead--but were, nevertheless, quite prepared to drop on to them at any
moment, knowing well how game will loiter on their way when undisturbed
and vary their time and course, instinctively avoiding the too regular
habits which would make them an easy prey.

Jock moved steadily along the trodden track, sliding easily through the
grass or jumping softly and noiselessly over impediments, and we
followed, looking ahead as far as the winding course of the trail

To right and left of us stood the screen of tall grass, bush and trees.
Once Jock stopped, throwing up his nose, and stood for some seconds
while we held our breath; but having satisfied himself that there was
nothing of immediate consequence, he moved on again--rather more slowly,
as it appeared to us.  I looked at Francis's face; it was pale and set
like marble, and his watchful grey eyes were large and wide like an
antelope's, as though opened out to take in everything; and those
moments of intense interest and expectation were the best part of a
memorable day.

There was something near: we felt it!  Jock was going more carefully
than ever, with his head up most of the time; and the feeling of
expectation grew stronger and stronger until it amounted to absolute
certainty.  Then Jock stopped, stopped in mid-stride, not with his nose
up ranging for scent, but with head erect, ears cocked, and tail
poised--dead still: he was looking at something.

We had reached the end of the grass where the bush and trees of the
mountain slope had choked it out, and before us there was fairly thick
bush mottled with black shadows and patches of bright sunlight in which
it was most difficult to see anything.  There we stood like statues, the
dog in front with the two men abreast behind him, and all peering
intently.  Twice Jock slowly turned his head and looked into my eyes,
and I felt keenly the sense of hopeless inferiority.  "There it is, what
are you going to do?" was what the first look seemed to say; and the
second: "Well, what are you waiting for?"

How long we stood thus it is, not possible to say: time is no measure of
such things, and to me it seemed unending suspense; but we stood our
ground scarcely breathing, knowing that something was there, because he
saw it and told us so, and knowing that as soon as we moved it would be
gone.  Then close to the ground there was a movement--something swung,
and the full picture flashed upon us.  It was a buffalo calf standing in
the shade of a big bush with its back towards us, and it was the
swishing of the tail that had betrayed it.  We dared not breathe a word
or pass a look--a face turned might have caught some glint of light and
shown us up; so we stood like statues each knowing that the other was
looking for the herd and would fire when he got a chance at one of the
full-grown animals.

My eyes were strained and burning from the intensity of the effort to
see; but except the calf I could not make out a living thing: the glare
of the yellow grass in which we stood, and the sun-splotched darkness
beyond it beat me.

At last, in the corner of my eye, I saw Francis's rifle rise, as
slowly--almost--as the mercury in a warmed thermometer.  There was a
long pause, and then came the shot and wild snorts of alarm and rage.  A
dozen huge black forms started into life for a second and as quickly
vanished--scattering and crashing through the jungle.  The first clear
impression was that of Jock, who after one swift run forward for a few
yards stood ready to spring off in pursuit, looking back at me and
waiting for the word to go; but at the sign of my raised hand, opened
with palm towards him, he subsided slowly and lay down flat with his
head resting on his paws.

"Did you see?" asked Francis.  "Not till you fired.  I heard it strike.
What was it?"

"Hanged if I know!  I heard it too.  It was one of the big uns; but bull
or cow I don't know."

"Where did you get it?"

"Well, I couldn't make out more than a black patch in the bush.  It
moved once, but I couldn't see how it was standing--end on or across.
It may be hit anywhere.  I took for the middle of the patch and let
drive.  Bit risky, eh?"

"Seems like taking chances."

"Well, it was no use waiting: we came for this!" and then he added with
a careless laugh, "They always clear from the first shot if you get 'em
at close quarters, but the fun'll begin now.  Expect he'll lay for us in
the track somewhere."

That is the way of the wounded buffalo--we all knew that; and old
Rocky's advice came to mind with a good deal of point: "Keep cool and
shoot straight--or stay right home;" and Jock's expectant watchful look
smote me with another memory--"It was my dawg!"

A few yards from where the buffalo had stood we picked up the blood
spoor.  There was not very much of it, but we saw from the marks on the
bushes here and there, and more distinctly on some grass further on,
that the wound was pretty high up and on the right side.  Crossing a
small stretch of more open bush we reached the dense growth along the
banks of the stream, and as this continued up into the kloof it was
clear we had a tough job before us.

Animals when badly wounded nearly always leave the herd, and very often
go down wind so as to be able to scent and avoid their pursuers.  This
fellow had followed the herd up wind, and that rather puzzled us.

A wounded buffalo in thick bush is considered to be about as nasty a
customer as any one may desire to tackle; for, its vindictive
indomitable courage and extraordinary cunning are a very formidable
combination, as a long list of fatalities bears witness.  Its favourite
device--so old hunters will tell you--is to make off down wind when hit,
and after going for some distance, come back again in a semicircle to
intersect its own spoor, and there under good cover lie in wait for
those who may follow up.

This makes the sport quite as interesting as need be, for the chances
are more nearly even than they generally are in hunting.  The buffalo
chooses the ground that suits its purpose of ambushing its enemy, and
naturally selects a spot where concealment is possible; but, making
every allowance for this, it seems little short of a miracle that the
huge black beast is able to hide itself so effectually that it can
charge from a distance of a dozen yards on to those who are searching
for it.

The secret of it seems to lie in two things: first, absolute stillness;
and second, breaking up the colour.  No wild animal, except those
protected by distance and open country, will stand against a background
of light or of uniform colour, nor will it as a rule allow its own shape
to form an unbroken patch against its chosen background.

They work on Nature's lines.  Look at the ostrich--the cock, black and
handsome, so strikingly different from the commonplace grey hen!
Considering that for periods of six weeks at a stretch they are anchored
to one spot hatching the eggs, turn and turn about, it seems that one or
other must be an easy victim for the beast of prey, since the same
background cannot possibly suit both.  But they know that too; so the
grey hen sits by day, and the black cock by night!  And the ostrich is
not the fool it is thought to be--burying its head in the sand!  Knowing
how the long stem of a neck will catch the eye, it lays it flat on the
ground, as other birds do, when danger threatens the nest or brood, and
concealment is better than flight.  That tame chicks will do this in a
bare paddock is only a laughable assertion of instinct.

Look at the zebra!  There is nothing more striking, nothing that arrests
the eye more sharply--in the Zoo--than this vivid contrast of colour;
yet in the bush the wavy stripes of black and white, are a protection,
enabling him to hide at will.

I have seen a wildebeeste effectually hidden by a single blighted
branch; a koodoo bull, by a few twisty sticks; a crouching lion, by a
wisp of feathery grass no higher than one's knee, no bigger than a vase
of flowers!  Yet, the marvel of it is always fresh.

After a couple of hundred yards of that sort of going, we changed our
plan, taking to the creek again and making occasional cross-cuts to the
trail, to be sure he was still ahead.  It was certain then that the
buffalo was following the herd and making for the poort, and as he had
not stopped once on our account we took to the creek after the fourth
crosscut and made what pace we could to reach the narrow gorge where we
reckoned to pick up the spoor again.

There are, however, few short cuts--and no certainties--in hunting; when
we reached the poort there was no trace to be found of the wounded
buffalo; the rest of the herd had passed in, but we failed to find blood
or other trace of the wounded one, and Jock was clearly as much at fault
as we were.

We had overshot the mark and there was nothing for it but to hark back
to the last blood spoor and, by following it up, find out what had
happened.  This took over an hour, for we spoored him then with the
utmost caution, being convinced that the buffalo, if not dead, was badly
wounded and lying in wait for us.

We came on his `stand,' in a well-chosen spot, where the game path took
a sharp turn round some heavy bushes.  The buffalo had stood, not where
one would naturally expect it--in the dense cover which seemed just
suited for his purpose--but among lighter bush on the _opposite_ side
and about twenty yards nearer to us.  There was no room for doubt about
his hostile intentions; and when we recalled how we had instantly picked
out the thick bush on the left--to the exclusion of everything else--as
the spot to be watched, his selection of more open ground on the other
side, and nearer to us, seemed so fiendishly clever that it made one
feel cold and creepy.  One hesitates to say it was deliberately planned;
yet--plan, instinct or accident--there was the fact.

The marks showed us he was badly hit; but there was no limb broken, and
no doubt he was good for some hours yet.  We followed along the spoor,
more cautiously than ever; and when we reached the sharp turn beyond the
thick bush we found that the path was only a few yards from the stream,
so that on our way up the bed of the creek we had passed within twenty
yards of where the buffalo was waiting for us.  No doubt he had heard us
then as we walked past, and had winded us later on when we got ahead of
him into the poort.  What had he made of it?  What had he done?  Had he
followed up to attack us?  Was he waiting somewhere near?  Or had he
broken away into the bush on finding himself headed off?  These were
some of the questions we asked ourselves as we crept along.

Well! what he had done did not answer our questions.  On reaching the
poort again we found his spoor, freshly made since we had been there,
and he had walked right along through the gorge without stopping again,
and gone into the kloof beyond.  Whether he had followed us up when we
got ahead of him--hoping to stalk us from behind; or had gone ahead,
expecting to meet us coming down wind to look for him; or, when he heard
us pass down stream again--and, it may be, thought we had given up
pursuit--had simply walked on after the herd, were questions never

A breeze had risen since morning, and as we approached the hills it grew
stronger: in the poort itself it was far too strong for our purpose--the
wind coming through the narrow opening like a forced draught.  The herd
would not stand there, and it was not probable that the wounded animal
would stop until he joined the others or reached a more sheltered place.
We were keen on the chase, and as he had about an hour's start of us
and it was already midday, there was no time to waste.

Inside the poort the kloof opened out into a big valley away to our
left--our left being the right bank of the stream--and bordering the
valley on that side there were many miles of timbered kloofs and green
slopes, with a few kaffir kraals visible in the distance; but to the
right the formation was quite different, and rather peculiar.  The
stream--known to the natives as Hlamba-Nyati, or Buffalo's Bathing
Place--had in the course of time shortened its course to the poort by
eating into the left bank, thus leaving a high, and in most places,
inaccessible terrace above it on the left side and a wide stretch of
flat alluvium on the right.  This terrace was bounded on one side by the
steep bank of the creek and walled in on the other side by the
precipitous kranses of the mountains.

At the top end it opened out like a fan which died away in a frayed edge
in the numberless small kloofs and spurs fringing the amphitheatre of
the hills.  The shape was in fact something like the human arm and hand
with the fingers outspread.  The elbow was the poort, the arm the
terrace--except that the terrace was irregularly curved--and the fingers
the small kloofs in the mountains.  No doubt the haunts of the buffalo
were away in the `fingers,' and we worked steadily along the spoor in
that direction.

Game paths were numerous and very irregular, and the place was a perfect
jungle of trees, bush, bramble and the tallest rankest grass.  I have
ridden in that valley many times since then through grass standing
several feet above my head.  It was desperately hard work, but we did
want to get the buffalo; and although the place was full of game and we
put up koodoo, wildebeeste, rietbuck, bushbuck, and duiker, we held to
the wounded buffalo's spoor, neglecting all else.

Just before ascending the terrace we had heard the curious
far-travelling sound of kaffirs calling to each other from a distance,
but, except for a passing comment, paid no heed to it and passed on;
later we heard it again and again, and at last, when we happened to
pause in a more open portion of the bush after we had gone half-way
along the terrace, the calling became so frequent and came from so many
quarters that we stopped to take note.  Francis, who spoke Zulu like one
of themselves, at last made out a word or two which gave the clue.

"They're after the wounded buffalo!" he said.  "Come on, man, before
they get their dogs, or we'll never see him again."

Knowing then that the buffalo was a long way ahead, we scrambled on as
fast as we could whilst holding to his track; but it was very hot and
very rough and, to add to our troubles, smoke from a grass fire came
driving into our faces.

"Niggers burning on the slopes; confound them!"  Francis growled.

They habitually fire the grass in patches during the summer and autumn,
as soon as it is dry enough to burn, in order to get young grass for the
winter or the early spring, and although the smoke worried us there did
not seem to be anything unusual about the fire.  But ten minutes later
we stopped again; the smoke was perceptibly thicker; birds were flying
past us down wind, with numbers of locusts and other insects; two or
three times we heard buck and other animals break back; and all were
going the same way.  Then the same thought struck us both--it was
stamped in our faces: this was no ordinary mountain grass fire; it was
the bush.

Francis was a quiet fellow, one of the sort it is well not to rouse.
His grave is in the Bushveld where his unbeaten record among intrepid
lion-hunters was made, and where he fell in the war, leaving another and
greater record to his name.  The blood rose slowly to his face, until it
was bricky red, and he looked an ugly customer as he said:

"The black brutes have fired the valley to burn him out.  Come on quick.
We must get out of this on to the slopes!"

We did not know then that there were no slopes--only a precipitous face
of rock with dense jungle to the foot of it; and after we had spent a
quarter of an hour in that effort, we found our way blocked by the krans
and a tangle of undergrowth much worse than that in the middle of the
terrace.  The noise made by the wind in the trees and our struggling
through the grass and bush had prevented our hearing the fire at first,
but now its ever growing roar drowned all sounds.  Ordinarily, there
would have been no real difficulty in avoiding a bush fire; but, pinned
in between the river and the precipice and with miles of dense bush
behind us, it was not at all pleasant.

Had we turned back even then and made for the poort it is possible we
might have travelled faster than the fire, but it would have been rough
work indeed; moreover, that would have been going back--and we did want
to get the buffalo--so we decided to make one more try, towards the
river this time.  It was not much of a try, however, and we had gone no
further than the middle of the terrace again when it became alarmingly
clear that this fire meant business.

The wind increased greatly, as it always does once a bush fire gets a
start; the air was thick with smoke, and full of flying things; in the
bush and grass about us there was a constant scurrying; the terror of
stampede was in the very atmosphere.  A few words of consultation
decided us, and we started to burn a patch for standing room and

The hot sun and strong wind had long evaporated all the dew and moisture
from the grass, but the sap was still up, and the fire--our fire--seemed
cruelly long in catching on.  With bunches of dry grass for brands we
started burns in twenty places over a length of a hundred yards, and
each little flame licked up, spread a little, and then hesitated or died
out: it seemed as if ours would never take, while the other came on with
roars and leaps, sweeping clouds of sparks and ash over us in the dense
rolling mass of smoke.

At last a fierce rush of wind struck down on us, and in a few seconds
each little flame became a living demon of destruction; another minute,
and the stretch before us was a field of swaying flame.  There was a
sudden roar and crackle, as of musketry, and the whole mass seemed
lifted into the air in one blazing sheet: it simply leaped into life and
swept everything before it.

When we opened our scorched eyes the ground in front of us was all
black, with only here and there odd lights and torches dotted about--
like tapers on a pall; and on ahead, beyond the trellis work of bare
scorched trees, the wall of flame swept on.

Then down on the wings of the wind came the other fire; and before it
fled every living thing.  Heaven only knows what passed us in those few
minutes when a broken stream of terrified creatures dashed by, hardly
swerving to avoid us.  There is no coherent picture left of that scene--
just a medley of impressions linked up by flashes of unforgettable
vividness.  A herd of koodoo came crashing by; I know there was a herd,
but only the first and last will come to mind--the space between seems
blurred.  The clear impressions are of the koodoo bull in front, with
nose out-thrust, eyes shut against the bush, and great horns laid back
upon the withers, as he swept along opening the way for his herd; and
then, as they vanished, the big ears, ewe neck, and tilting hind
quarters of the last cow--between them nothing but a mass of moving

The wildebeeste went by in Indian-file, uniform in shape, colour and
horns; and strangely uniform in their mechanical action, lowered heads,
and fiercely determined rush.

A rietbuck ram stopped close to us, looked back wide-eyed and anxious,
and whistled shrilly, and then cantered on with head erect and white
tail flapping; but its mate neither answered nor came by.  A terrified
hare with its ears laid flat scuttled past within a yard of Francis and
did not seem to see him.  Above us scared birds swept or fluttered down
wind; while others again came up swirling and swinging about, darting
boldly through the smoke to catch the insects driven before the fire.

But what comes back with the suggestion of infinitely pathetic
helplessness is the picture of a beetle.  We stood on the edge of our
burn, waiting for the ground to cool, and at my feet a pair of
tock-tockie beetles, hump backed and bandy-legged, came toiling slowly
and earnestly along; they reached the edge of our burn, touched the warm
ash, and turned patiently aside--to walk round it!

A school of chattering monkeys raced out on to the blackened flat, and
screamed shrilly with terror as the hot earth and cinders burnt their

Porcupine, ant-bear, meerkat!  They are vague, so vague that nothing is
left but the shadow of their passing; but there is one other thing--seen
in a flash as brief as the others, for a second or two only, but never
to be forgotten!  Out of the yellow grass, high up in the waving tops,
came sailing down on us the swaying head and glittering eyes of a black
mamba--swiftest, most vicious, most deadly of snakes.  Francis and I
were not five yards apart and it passed between us, giving a quick
chilly beady look at each--pitiless, and hateful--and one hiss as the
slithering tongue shot out: that was all, and it sailed past with
strange effortless movement.  How much of the body was on the ground
propelling it, I cannot even guess; but we had to look upwards to see
the head as the snake passed between us.

The scorching breath of the fire drove us before it on to the baked
ground, inches deep in ashes and glowing cinders, where we kept marking
time to ease our blistering feet; our hats were pulled down to screen
our necks as we stood with our backs to the coming flames; our flannel
shirts were so hot that we kept shifting our shoulders for relief.
Jock, who had no screen and whose feet had no protection, was in my
arms; and we strove to shield ourselves from the furnace-blast with the
branches we had used to beat out the fire round the big tree which was
our main shelter.

The heat was awful!  Live brands were flying past all the time, and some
struck us; myriads of sparks fell round and on us, burning numberless
small holes in our clothing, and dotting blisters on our backs; great
sheets of flame leaped out from the driving glare, and, detached by many
yards from their source, were visible for quite a space in front of us.
Then, just at its maddest and fiercest there came a gasp and sob, and
the fire devil died behind us as it reached the black bare ground.  Our
burn divided it as an island splits the flood, and it swept along our
flanks in two great walls of living leaping roaring flame.

Two hundred yards away there was a bare yellow place in a world of inky
black, and to that haven we ran.  It was strange to look about and see
the naked country all round us, where but a few minutes earlier the tall
grass had shut us in; but the big bare ant-heap was untouched, and there
we flung ourselves down, utterly done.

Faint from heat and exhaustion--scorched and blistered, face and arms,
back and feet; weary and footsore, and with boots burnt through--we
reached camp long after dark, glad to be alive.

We had forgotten the wounded buffalo; he seemed part of another life!


There was no more hunting for us: our feet had `gone in,' and we were
well content to sleep and rest.  The burnt stubbly ends of the grass had
pierced the baked leather of our boots many times; and Jock, too, had
suffered badly and could hardly bear to set foot to the ground next day.
The best we could hope for was to be sound enough to return to our own
waggons in two or three days' time.

The camp was under a very large wild fig tree, whose dense canopy gave
us shade all through the day.  We had burnt the grass for some twenty or
thirty yards round as a protection against bush fires; and as the trees
and scrub were not thick just there it was possible to see in various
directions rather further than one usually can in the Bushveld.  The big
tree was a fair landmark by day, and at night we made a good fire, which
owing to the position of the camp one could see from a considerable
distance.  These precautions were for the benefit of strayed or belated
members of the party; but I mention them because the position of the
camp and the fire brought us a strange visitor the last night of our
stay there.

There were, I think, seven white men; and the moving spirit of the
party--old Teddy Blacklow of Ballarat--was one of the old alluvial
diggers, a warmhearted, impulsive, ever-young old boy, and a rare good
sportsman.  That was Teddy, the `man in muddy moleskins,' who stretched
out the hand of friendship when the Boy was down, and said "You come
along o' me!" one of `God's sort.'

Teddy's spirits were always up; his presence breathed a cheery optimism
on the blankest day; his humour lighted everything; _his_ stories kept
us going; and his language was a joy for ever.  In a community, in which
such things savoured of eccentricity, Teddy was an abstainer and never
swore; but if actual profanity was avoided, the dear old boy all
unconsciously afforded strong support to those who hold that a man must
find relief in vigorous expression.  To do this, without violating his
principles, he invented words and phrases, meaningless in themselves but
in general outline, so to say, resembling the worst in vogue; and the
effect produced by them upon the sensitive was simply horrifying.  Teddy
himself was blissfully unconscious of this, for his language, being
scrupulously innocent, was deemed by him to be suited to all
circumstances and to every company.  The inevitable consequence was that
the first impression produced by him on the few women he ever met was
that of an abandoned old reprobate whose scant veil of disguise only
made the outrage of his language more marked.  Poor old Teddy!  Kindest
and gentlest and dearest of souls!  How he would have stared at this,
speechless with surprise; and how we used to laugh at what some one
called his `glittering paro-fanities!'  Pity it is that they too must
go; for one dare not reproduce the best of them.

It was between eight and nine o'clock on the last day of our stay;
Francis and I were fit again, and Jock's feet, thanks to care and
washing and plenty of castor oil, no longer troubled him; we were
examining our boots--re-soled now with raw hide in the rough but
effective veld fashion; Teddy was holding forth about the day's chase
whilst he cut away the pith of a koodoo's horns and scraped the skull;
others were busy on their trophies too; and the kaffirs round their own
fire were keeping up the simultaneous gabble characteristic of hunting
boys after a good day and with plenty of meat in camp.

I was sitting on a small camp stool critically examining a boot and
wondering if the dried hide would grip well enough to permit of the top
lacings being removed, and Jock was lying in front of me, carefully
licking the last sore spot on one fore paw, when I saw his head switch
up suddenly and his whole body set hard in a study of intense listening.
Then he got up and trotted briskly off some ten or fifteen yards, and
stood--a bright spot picked out by the glare of the camp fire--with his
back towards me and his uneven ears topping him off.

I walked out to him, and silence fell on the camp; all watched and
listened.  At first we heard nothing but soon the call of a wild dog
explained Jock's movements; the sound, however, did not come from the
direction in which he was looking, but a good deal to the right; and as
he instantly looked to this new quarter I concluded that this was not
the dog he had previously heard, or else it must have moved rapidly.
There was another wait, and then there followed calls from other

There was nothing unusual in the presence of wild dogs: hyenas, jackals,
wild dogs and all the smaller beasts of prey were heard nightly; what
attracted attention in this case was the regular calling from different
points.  The boys said the wild dogs were hunting something and calling
to each other to indicate the direction of the hunt, so that those in
front might turn the buck and by keeping it in a circle enable fresh or
rested dogs to jump in from time to time and so, eventually, wear the
poor hunted creature down.  This, according to the natives, is the
system of the wild pack.  When they cannot find easy prey in the young,
weak or wounded, and are forced by hunger to hunt hard, they first
scatter widely over the chosen area where game is located, and then one
buck is chosen--the easiest victim, a ewe with young for choice--and
cutting it out from the herd, they follow that one and that alone with
remorseless invincible persistency.  They begin the hunt knowing that it
will last for hours--knowing too that in speed they have no chance
against the buck--and when the intended victim is cut out from the herd
one or two of the dogs--so the natives say--take up the chase and with
long easy gallop keep it going, giving no moment's rest for breath; from
time to time they give their weird peculiar call and others of the
pack--posted afar--head the buck off to turn it back again; the fresh
ones then take up the chase, and the first pair drop out to rest and
wait, or follow slowly until their chance and turn come round again.
There is something so hateful in the calculated pitiless method that one
feels it a duty to kill the cruel brutes whenever a chance occurs.

The hunt went on round us; sometimes near enough to hear the dogs' eager
cries quite clearly; sometimes so far away that for a while nothing
could be heard; and Jock moved from point to point in the outermost
circle of the camp fire's light nearest to the chase.

When at last hunters and hunted completed their wide circuit round the
camp, and passed again the point where we had first heard them, the end
seemed near; for there were no longer single calls widely separated, but
the voices of the pack in hot close chase.  They seemed to be passing
half a mile away from us; but in the stillness of the night sound
travels far, and one can only guess.  Again a little while and the cries
sounded nearer and as if coming from one quarter--not moving round us as
before; and a few minutes more, and it was certain they were still
nearer and coming straight towards us.  We took our guns then, and I
called Jock back to where we stood under the tree with our backs to the

The growing sounds came on out of the night where all was hidden with
the weird crescendo effect of a coming flood; we could pick them out
then--the louder harsher cries; the crashing through bush; the rush in
grass; the sobbing gasps in front; and the hungry panting after.  The
hunt came at us like a cyclone out of the stillness, and in the
forefront of it there burst into the circle of light an impala ewe with
open mouth and haunting hunted despairing eyes and wide spread ears; and
the last staggering strides brought her in among us, tumbling at our

A kaffir jumped out with assegai aloft; but Teddy, with the spring of a
tiger and a yell of rage, swung his rifle round and down on assegai arm
and head, and dropped the boy in his tracks.

"Go-sh!--Da-ll!  Cr-r-r-i-miny!  What the Hex are you up to?" and the
fiery soft-hearted old boy was down on to his knees in a second, panting
with anger and excitement, and threw his arms about the buck.

The foremost of the pack followed hot foot close behind the buck--
oblivious of fire and men, seeing nothing but the quarry--and at a
distance of five yards a mixed volley of bullets and assegais tumbled it
over.  Another followed, and again another: both fell where they had
stopped, a dozen yards away, puzzled by the fire and the shooting; and
still more and more came on, but, warned by the unexpected check in
front, they stopped at the clearing's edge, until over twenty pairs of
eyes reflecting the fire's light shone out at us in a rough semicircle.
The shot guns came in better then; and more than half the pack went
under that night before the others cleared off.  Perhaps they did not
realise that the shots and flashes were not part of the camp fire from
which they seemed to come; perhaps their system of never relinquishing a
chase had not been tried against the white man before.

One of the wild dogs, wounded by a shot, seemed to go mad with agony and
raced straight into the clearing towards the fire, uttering the
strangest maniac-like yaps.  Jock had all along been straining to go for
them from where I had jammed him between my feet as I sat and fired, and
the charge of this dog was more than he could bear: he shot out like a
rocket, and the collision sent the two flying apart; but he was on to
the wild dog again and had it by the throat before it could recover.
Instantly the row of lights went out, as if switched off--they were no
longer looking at us; there was a rustle and a sound of padded feet, and
dim grey-looking forms gathered at the edge of the clearing nearest
where Jock and the wounded dog fought.  I shouted to Jock to come back,
and several of us ran out to help, just as another of the pack made a
dash in.  It seemed certain that Jock, gripping and worrying his enemy's
throat, had neither time nor thought for anything else; yet as the fresh
dog came at him he let go his grip of the other, and jumped to meet the
new-comer; in mid-spring Jock caught the other by the ear and the two
spun completely round--their positions being reversed; then, with
another wrench as he landed, he flung the attacker behind him and jumped
back at the wounded one which had already turned to go.

It looked like the clean and easy movement of a finished gymnast.  It
was an affair of a few seconds only, for of course the instant we got a
chance at the dogs, without the risk to Jock, both were shot; and he,
struggling to get at the others, was haled back to the tree.

While this was going on the impala stood with wide spread legs, dazed
and helpless, between Teddy's feet, just as he had placed it.  Its
breath came in broken choking sobs; the look of terror and despair had
not yet faded from the staring eyes; the head swayed from side to side;
the mouth hung open and the tongue lolled out; all told beyond the power
of words the tale of desperate struggle and exhaustion.  It drank
greedily from the dish that Teddy held for it--emptied it, and five
minutes later drank it again and then lay down.

For half an hour it lay there, slowly recovering; sometimes for spells
of a few minutes it appeared to breathe normally once more; then the
heavy open-mouthed panting would return again; and all the time Teddy
kept on stroking or patting it gently and talking to it as if he were
comforting a child, and every now and then bursting out with sudden
gusty execrations, in his own particular style, of wild dogs and
kaffirs.  At last it rose briskly, and standing between his knees looked
about, taking no notice of Teddy's hands laid on either side and gently
patting it.  No one moved or spoke.  Jock, at my feet, appeared most
interested of all, but I am afraid his views differed considerably from
ours on that occasion, and he must have been greatly puzzled; he
remained watching intently with his head laid on his paws, his ears
cocked, and his brown eyes fixed unblinkingly; and at each movement on
the buck's part something stirred in him, drawing every muscle tense and
ready for the spring--internal grips which were reflected in the
twitching and stiffening of his neck and back; but each time as I laid a
hand on him he slackened out again and subsided.

We sat like statues as the impala walked out from its stall between
Teddy's knees, and stood looking about wonderingly at the faces white
and black, at the strange figures, and at the fire.  It stepped out
quite quietly, much as it might have moved about here and there any
peaceful morning in its usual haunts; the head swung about briskly, but
unalarmed; and ears and eyes were turned this way and that in easy
confidence and mild curiosity.

With a few more steps it threaded its way close to one sitting figure
and round a bucket; stepped daintily over Teddy's rifle; and passed the
koodoo's head unnoticed.

It seemed to us--even to us, and at the moment--like a scene in
fairyland in which some spell held us while the beautiful wild thing
strolled about unfrightened.

A few yards away it stopped for perhaps a couple of minutes; its back
was towards us and the fire; the silence was absolute; and it stood thus
with eyes and ears for the bush alone.  There was a warning whisk of the
white tail and it started off again--this time at a brisk trot--and we
thought it had gone; but at the edge of the clearing it once more stood
and listened.  Now and again the ears flickered and the head turned
slightly one way or another, but no sound came from the bush; the
out-thrust nose was raised with gentle tosses, but no taint reached it
on the gentle breeze.

All was well!

It looked slowly round, giving one long full gaze back at us which
seemed to be "Good-bye, and--thank you!" and cantered out into the dark.



Snowball was an `old soldier'--I say it with all respect!  He had been
through the wars; that is to say, he had seen the ups and downs of life
and had learnt the equine equivalent of "God helps those who help
themselves."  For Snowball was a horse.

Tsetse was also an old soldier, but he was what you might call a
gentleman old soldier, with a sense of duty; and in his case the
discipline and honour of his calling were not garments for occasion but
part of himself.  Snowball was no gentleman: he was selfish and
unscrupulous, a confirmed shirker, often absent without leave, and upon
occasions a rank deserter--for which last he once narrowly escaped being

Tsetse belonged to my friend Hall; but Snowball was mine!  What I know
about him was learnt with mortification of the spirit and flesh; and
what he could not teach in that way was `over the head' of the most
indurated old dodger that ever lived.

Tsetse had his peculiarities and prejudices: like many old soldiers he
was a stickler for etiquette and did not like departures from habit and
routine; for instance, he would not under any circumstances permit
mounting on the wrong side--a most preposterous stand for an old salted
shooting horse to take, and the cause of much inconvenience at times.
On the mountains it often happened that the path was too narrow and the
slope too steep to permit one to mount on the left side, whereas the
sharp rise of the ground made it very easy on the right.  But Tsetse
made no allowance for this, and if the attempt were made he would stand
quite still until the rider was off the ground but not yet in the
saddle, and then buck continuously until the offender shot overhead and
went skidding down the slope.  To one encumbered with a rifle in hand,
and a kettle or perhaps a couple of legs of buck slung on the saddle,
Tsetse's protest was usually irresistible.

Snowball had no unpractical prejudices: he objected to work--that was
all.  He was a pure white horse, goodness knows how old, with enormously
long teeth; every vestige of grey or other tinge had faded out of him,
and his eyes had an aged and resigned look: one warmed to him at sight
as a "dear old pet of a Dobbin!" who ought to be passing his last years
grazing contentedly in a meadow and giving bareback rides to little
children.  The reproach of his venerable look nearly put me off taking
him--it seemed such a shame to make the dear old fellow work; but I
hardened my heart and, feeling rather a brute, bought him because he was
`salted' and would live in the Bushveld: beside that, all other
considerations were trivial.  Of course he was said to be a shooting
horse, and he certainly took no notice of a gun fired under his nose or
from his back--which was all the test I could apply at the time; and
then his legs were quite sound; his feet were excellent; he had lost no
teeth yet; and he was in tip top condition.  What more could one want?

"He looks rather a fool of a horse!"  I had remarked dubiously to Joey
the Smith, who was `willin' to let him go,' and I can recall now the
peculiar glint in Joey's eye and the way he sort of steadied himself
with a little cough before he answered feelingly:

"He's no fool, sonny!  You won't want to get a cleverer horse as long as
you live!"  And no more I did--as we used to say!  Snowball had one
disfigurement, consisting of a large black swelling as big as a small
orange behind his left eye, which must have annoyed him greatly; it
could easily have been removed, and many suggestions were made on the
subject but all of them were firmly declined.  Without that lump I
should have had no chance against him: it was the weak spot in his
defence: it was the only cover under which it was possible to stalk him
when he made one of his determined attempts to dodge or desert; for he
could see nothing that came up behind him on the left side without
turning his head completely round; hence one part of the country was
always hidden from him, and of course it was from this quarter that we
invariably made our approaches to attack.

So well did Snowball realise this that when the old villain intended
giving trouble he would start off with his head swung away to the right,
and when far enough away to graze in security--a hundred yards or so was
enough--would turn right about and face towards the waggons or camp, or
wherever the danger-quarter was; then, keeping us well in view, he would
either graze off sideways, or from time to time walk briskly off to
occupy a new place, with the right eye swung round on us like a

Against all this, however, it is only fair to admit that there were
times when for days, and even weeks, at a stretch he would behave
admirably, giving no more trouble than Jock did.  Moreover he had
qualities which were not to be despised.  He was as sound as a bell,
very clever on his feet, never lost his condition, and, although not
fast, could last for ever at his own pace.

Experience taught me to take no chances with Snowball.  After a hard day
he was apt to think that `enough was as good as a feast,' and then
trouble might be expected.  But there was really no safe rule with him;
he seemed to have moods--to `get out of bed on the wrong side'--on
certain days and, for no reason in the world, behave with a calculated
hostility that was simply maddening.

Hunting horses live almost entirely by grazing, as it is seldom possible
to carry any grain or other foods for them and never possible to carry
enough; and salted horses have therefore a particular value in that they
can be turned out to graze at night or in the morning and evening dews
when animals not immunised will contract horse-sickness; thus they feed
during the hours when hunting is not possible and keep their condition
when an unsalted horse would fall away from sheer want of food.

According to their training, disposition, and knowledge of good and
evil, horses are differently treated when `offsaddled'; some may be
trusted without even a halter, and can be caught and saddled when and
where required; others are knee-haltered; others are hobbled by a strap
coupling either both fore feet, or one fore and one hind foot, with
enough slack to allow walking, but not enough for the greater reach of a
trot or gallop; whilst some incorrigibles are both knee-haltered and
hobbled; and in this gallery Snowball figured upon occasion--a mournful
and injured innocent, if appearances went for anything!

It was not, as a rule, at the outspan, where many hands were available,
that Snowball gave trouble, but out hunting when I was alone or with
only one companion.  A trained shooting horse should stop as soon as his
rider lays hand on mane to dismount, and should remain where he is left
for any length of time until his master returns; some horses require the
reins to be dropped over their heads to remind them of their duty but
many can safely be left to themselves and will be found grazing quietly
where left.

Snowball knew well what to do, but he pleased himself about doing it;
sometimes he would stand; sometimes move off a little way, and keep
moving--just out of reach--holding his head well on one side so that he
should not tread on the trailing reins or the long weighted reimpje
which was attached to his bit for the purpose of hindering and catching
him; sometimes, with a troop of buck moving on ahead or perhaps a
wounded one to follow, this old sinner would rightabout-face and simply
walk off--only a few yards separating us--with his ears laid back, his
tail tucked down ominously, and occasional little liftings of his hind
quarters to let me know what to expect--and his right eye on me all the
while; and, if I ran to head him off, he would break into a trot and
leave me a little worse off than before; and sometimes, in familiar
country, he would make straight away for the waggons without more ado.

It is demoralising in the extreme to be expecting a jerk when in the act
of aiming--and Snowball, who cared no more for shooting than a deaf
gunner, would plunge like a two-year-old when he was play-acting--and it
is little better, while creeping forward for a shot, to hear your horse
strolling off behind and realise that you will have to hunt for him and
perhaps walk many miles back to camp without means of carrying anything
you may shoot.  The result of experience was that I had to choose
between two alternatives: either to hook him up to a tree or bush each
time or hobble him with his reins, and so lose many good chances of
quick shots when coming unexpectedly on game; or to slip an arm through
the reins and take chance of being plucked off my aim or jerked
violently backwards as I fired.  But it was at the `offsaddles' on long
journeys across country or during the rest in a day's hunt that trouble
was most to be feared, and although hobbling is dangerous in a country
so full of holes, stumps, and all sorts of grass-hidden obstacles, there
were times when consideration for Snowball seemed mighty like pure
foolishness, and it would have been no grief to me if he had broken his

To the credit of Snowball stand certain things, however, and it is but
justice to say that, when once in the ranks, he played his part well;
and it is due to him to say that during one hard season a camp of
waggons with their complement of men had to be kept in meat, and it was
Snowball who carried--for short and long distances, through dry rough
country, at all times of day and night, hot, thirsty and tired, and
without a breakdown or a day's sickness--a bag that totalled many
thousands of pounds in weight, and the man who made the bag.

"That wall-eyed brute of yours" was launched at me in bitterness of
spirit on many occasions when Snowball led the normally well-behaved
ones astray; and it is curious to note how strength of character or
clear purpose will establish leadership among animals, as among men.
Rooiland the restless, when dissatisfied with the grass or in want of
water, would cast about up wind for a few minutes and then with his hot
eyeballs staring and nostrils well distended choose his line, going
resolutely along and only pausing from time to time to give a low moan
for signal and allow the straggling string of unquestioning followers to
catch up.  When Rooiland had `trek fever' there was no rest for herd
boys.  So too with old Snowball: he led the well-behaved astray and they
followed him blindly.  Had Snowball been a schoolboy, a wise headmaster
would have expelled him--for the general good and discipline of the

On one long horseback journey through Swaziland to the coast, where few
white men and no horses had yet been seen, we learned to know Snowball
and Tsetse well, and found out what a horse can do when put to it.  It
was a curious experience on that trip to see whole villages flee in
terror at the first sight of the new strange animals--one brown and one
white: in some places not even the grown men would approach, but too
proud to show fear, they stood their ground, their bronze faces
blanching visibly and setting hard as we rode up; the women fled with
half-stifled cries of alarm; and once, when we came unexpectedly upon a
party of naked urchins playing on the banks of a stream, the whole pack
set off full cry for the water and, jumping in like a school of alarmed
frogs, disappeared.  Infinitely amused by the stampede we rode up to see
what had become of them, but the silence was absolute, and for a while
they seemed to have vanished altogether; then a tell-tale ripple gave
the clue, and under the banks among the ferns and exposed roots we
picked out little black faces half submerged and pairs of frightened
eyes staring at us from all sides.  They were not to be reassured,
either: the only effect produced by our laughing comments and friendly
overtures being that the head which deemed itself pointedly addressed
would disappear completely and remain so long out of sight as to make us
feel quite smothery and criminally responsible.

It is in the rivers that a man feels the importance of a good horse with
a stout heart, and his dependence on it.  There were no roads, and not
even known tracks, there; and when we reached the Black Umbelusi we
picked a place where there was little current and apparently an easy way
out on the opposite side.  It was much deeper than it looked; however,
we were prepared, and thirty yards of swimming did not trouble us; yet
it certainly was a surprise to us when the horses swam right up to the
other bank without finding bottom and, turning aside, began to swim up
stream.  Looking down into the clear depths we saw that there was a
sheer wall of rock to within a few inches of the surface.  Now, a horse
with a man on his back swims low--only the head and half the neck
showing above water--and by what instinct or means the horses realised
the position I do not know, but, with little hesitation and apparently
of one accord, they got back a yard or two from the ledge and, raising
first one fore foot and then the other, literally climbed out--exactly
as a man or a dog does out of a swimming bath--hoisting their riders out
with them without apparent difficulty.  That was something which we had
not thought possible, and to satisfy ourselves we dismounted and tried
the depth; but the ten foot reeds failed to reach bottom.

When it came to crossing the Crocodile River we chose the widest spot in
the hope that it would be shallow and free of rocks.  We fired some
shots into the river to scare the crocodiles, and started to cross; but
to our surprise Tsetse, the strong-nerved and reliable, who always had
the post of honour in front, absolutely refused to enter.

The water of the Crocodile is at its best of amber clearness and we
could not see bottom, but the sloping grassy bank promised well enough
and no hint reached us of what the horses knew quite well.  All we had
was on our horses--food, blankets, billy, rifles and ammunition.  We
were off on a long trip and, to vary or supplement the game diet,
carried a small packet of tea, a little sugar, flour, and salt, and some
beads with which to trade for native fowls and thick milk; the guns had
to do the rest.  Thus there were certain things we could not afford to
wet, and these we used to wrap up in a mackintosh and carry high when it
came to swimming, but this crossing looked so easy that it seemed
sufficient to raise the packs instead of carrying part of them.

Tsetse, who in the ordinary way regarded the spur as part of the
accepted discipline, promptly resented it when there seemed to him to be
sufficient reason; and when Hall, astonished at Tsetse's unexpected
obstinacy, gave him both heels, the old horse considerately swung round
away from the river, and with a couple of neatly executed bucks shot his
encumbered rider off the raised pack, yards away on to the soft grass--
water-bottle, rifle, bandolier and man landing in a lovely tangle.

I then put old Snowball at it, fully expecting trouble; but the old
soldier was quite at home; he walked quietly to the edge, sat down
comfortably, and slid into the water--launching himself with scarce a
ripple just like an old hippo.  That gave us the explanation of Tsetse's
tantrum: the water came up to the seat of my saddle and walking was only
just possible.  I stopped at once, waiting for Tsetse to follow; and
Hall, prepared for another refusal, sat back and again used his spurs.
No doubt Tsetse, once he knew the depth, was quite satisfied and meant
to go in quietly, and the prick of the spur must have been unexpected,
for he gave a plunge forward, landing with his fore feet in deep water
and hind quarters still on the bank, and Hall shot out overhead, landing
half across old Snowball's back.  There was a moment of ludicrous but
agonised suspense!  Hall's legs were firmly gripping Tsetse behind the
ears while he sprawled on his stomach on Snowball's crupper, with the
reins still in one hand and the rifle in the other.  Doubled up with
suppressed laughter I grabbed a fist full of shirt and held on, every
moment expecting Tsetse to hoist his head or pull back and complete the
disaster, while Hall was spluttering out directions, entreaties and
imprecations; but good old Tsetse never moved, and Hall handing me the
rifle managed to swarm backwards on to Tsetse's withers and scramble on
to the pack again.

Then, saddle-deep in the river--duckings and crocodiles forgotten--we
sat looking at each other and laughed till we ached.

The river was about three hundred yards wide there with a good sandy
bottom and of uniform depth, but, to our disappointment, we found that
the other bank which had appeared to slope gently to the water edge was
in fact a sheer wall standing up several feet above the river level.
The beautiful slope which we had seen consisted of water grass and reed
tops; the bank itself was of firm moist clay; and the river bottom close
under it was soft mud.  We tried a little way up and down, but found
deeper water, more mud and reeds, and no break in the bank; there was
not even a lagavaan slide, a game path, or a drinking-place.  There
seemed to be nothing for it but to go back again and try somewhere else.

Hall was `bad to beat' when he started on anything--he did not know how
to give in; but when he looked at the bank and said, "We'll have a shot
at this," I thought at first he was joking.  Later, to my remark that
"no horse ever born would face that," he answered that "any way we could
try: it would be just as good as hunting for more places of the same

I do not know the height of the bank, as we were not thinking of records
at that time, but there are certain facts which enable one to guess
fairly closely.

Tsetse was ranged up beside the bank, and Hall standing in the saddle
threw his rifle and bandolier up and scrambled out himself.  I then
loosened Tsetse's girths from my seat on Snowball, and handed up the
packed saddle--Hall lying down on the bank to take it from me; and we
did the same with Snowball's load, including my own clothes, for, as it
was already sundown, a ducking was not desirable, I loosened one side of
Tsetse's reins, and after attaching one of mine in order to give the
necessary length to them threw the end up to Hall, and he cut and handed
me a long supple rod for a whip to stir Tsetse to his best endeavours.
The water there was rather more than half saddle-flap high; I know that
because it just left me a good expanse of hind quarters to aim at when
the moment came.

"Now!" yelled Hall, "Up, Tsetse!  Up!"; and whack went the stick!
Tsetse reared up, right on end; he could not reach the top but struck
his fore feet into the moist bank near the top, and with a mighty plunge
that soused Snowball and me, went out.  The tug on the leading rein, on
which Hall had thrown all his weight when Tsetse used it to lever
himself up, had jerked Hall flat on his face; but he was up in a minute,
and releasing Tsetse threw back the rein to get Snowball to face it
while the example was fresh.

Then for the first time we thought of the crocodiles--and the river was
full of them!  But Snowball without some one behind him with a stick
would never face that jump, and there was nothing for it but to fire
some scaring shots, and slip into the water and get the job over as
quickly as possible.

Snarleyow was with us--I had left Jock at the waggons fearing that we
would get into fly country on the Umbelusi--and the bank was too high
and too steep for him; he huddled up against it half supported by reeds,
and whined plaintively.

To our relief Snowball faced the jump quite readily; indeed, the old
sinner did it with much less effort and splash than the bigger Tsetse.
But then came an extremely unpleasant spell.  Snowball got a scare,
because Hall in his anxiety to get me out rushed up to him on the warty
side to get the reins off; and the old ruffian waltzed around, dragging
Hall through the thorns, while Snarleyow and I waited in the water for

At that moment I had a poorer opinion of Snowball and Snarley than at
any other I can remember.  I wished Snarley dead twenty times in twenty
seconds.  Crocodiles love dogs; and it seemed to me a million to one
that a pair of green eyes and a black snout must slide out of the water
any moment, drawn to us by those advertising whines!  And the worst of
it was, I was outside Snarley with my white legs gleaming in the open
water, while his cringing form was tucked away half hidden by the reeds.
What an age it seemed!  How each reed shaken by the river breeze caught
the eye, giving me goose-flesh and sending waves of cold shudders
creeping over me!  How the cold smooth touch of a reed stem against my
leg made me want to jump and to get out with one huge plunge as the
horses had done!  And even when I had passed the struggling yowling
Snarley up, the few remaining seconds seemed painfully long.  Hall had
to lie flat and reach his furthest to grip my hand; and I nearly pulled
him in, scrambling up that bank like a chased cat up a tree.

When one comes to think it out, the bank must have been nine feet high.
It was mighty unpleasant; but it taught us what a horse can do when he
puts, his back into it!



Half-way between the Crocodile and Komati Rivers, a few miles south of
the old road, there are half a dozen or more small kopjes between which
lie broad richly grassed depressions, too wide and flat to be; called
valleys.  The fall of the country is slight, yet the rich loamy soil has
been washed out in places into dongas of considerable depth.  There is
no running water there in winter, but there are a few big pools--long
narrow irregularly shaped bits of water--with shady trees around them.
I came upon the place by accident one day, and thereafter we kept it
dark as our own preserve; for it was full of game, and a most delightful
spot.  It was there that Snarleyow twice cleaned out the hunter's pot.

Apart from the discovery of this preserve, the day was memorable for the
reason that it was my first experience of a big mixed herd; and I
learned that day how difficult the work may be when several kinds of
game run together.  After a dry and warm morning the sight of the big
pool had prompted an off-saddle; Snowball was tethered in a patch of
good grass, and Jock and I were lying in the shade.

When he began to sniff and walk up wind I took the rifle and followed,
and only a little way off we came into dry vlei ground where there were
few trees and the grass stood about waist high.  Some two hundred yards
away where the ground rose slightly and the bush became thicker there
was a fair-sized troop of impala, perhaps a hundred or more, and just
behind, and mostly to one side of them, were between twenty and thirty
tsessebe.  We saw them clearly and in time to avoid exposing ourselves:
they were neither feeding nor resting, but simply standing about, and
individual animals were moving unconcernedly from time to time with an
air of idle loitering.  I tried to pick out a good tsessebe ram, but the
impala were in the way, and it was necessary to crawl for some distance
to reach certain cover away on the right.

Crawling is hard work and very rough on both hands and knees in the
Bushveld, frequent rests being necessary; and in one of the pauses I
heard a curious sound of soft padded feet jumping behind me, and looking
quickly about caught Jock in the act of taking his observations.  The
grass was too high for him to see over, even when he stood up on his
hind legs, and he was giving jumps of slowly increasing strength to get
the height which would enable him to see what was on.  I shall never
forget that first view of Jock's ballooning observations; it became a
regular practice afterwards and I grew accustomed to seeing him stand on
his hind legs or jump when his view was shut out--indeed sometimes when
we were having a slow time I used to draw him by pretending to stalk
something; but it is that first view that remains a picture of him.  I
turned at the instant when he was at the top of his jump; his legs were
all bunched up, his eyes staring eagerly and his ears had flapped out,
giving him a look of comic astonishment.  It was a most surprisingly
unreal sight: he looked like a caricature of Jock shot into the air by a
galvanic shock.  A sign with my hand brought him flat on the ground,
looking distinctly guilty, and we moved along again; but I was shaking
with silent laughter.

At the next stop I had a look back to see how he was behaving, and to my
surprise, although he was following carefully close behind me, he was
looking steadily away to our immediate right.  I subsided gently on to
my left side to see what it was that interested him, and to my delight
saw a troop of twenty to twenty-five Blue Wildebeeste.  They, too, were
`standing any way,' and evidently had not seen us.

I worked myself cautiously round to face them so as to be able to pick
my shot and take it kneeling, thus clearing the tops of the grass; but
whilst doing this another surprising development took place.  Looking
hard and carefully at the wildebeeste two hundred yards away, I became
conscious of something else in between us, and only half the distance
off, looking at me.  It had the effect of a shock; the disagreeable
effect produced by having a book or picture suddenly thrust close to the
face; the feeling of wanting to get further away from it to re-focus
one's sight.

What I saw was simply a dozen quagga, all exactly alike, all standing
alike, all looking at me, all full face to me, their fore feet together,
their ears cocked, and their heads quite motionless--all gazing steadily
at me, alive with interest and curiosity.  There was something quite
ludicrous in it, and something perplexing also: when I looked at the
quagga the wildebeeste seemed to get out of focus and were lost to me;
when I looked at the wildebeeste the quagga `blurred' and faded out of
sight.  The difference in distance, perhaps as much as the very marked
difference in the distinctive colourings, threw me out; and the effect
of being watched also told.  Of course I wanted to get a wildebeeste,
but I was conscious of the watching quagga all the time, and, for the
life of me, could not help constantly looking at them to see if they
were going to start off and stampede the others.

Whilst trying to pick out the best of the wildebeeste a movement away on
the left made me look that way: the impala jumped off like one animal,
scaring the tsessebe into a scattering rout; the quagga switched round
and thundered off like a stampede of horses; and the wildebeeste simply
vanished.  One signal in one troop had sent the whole lot off.  Jock and
I were left alone, still crouching, looking from side to side, staring
at the slowly drifting dust, and listening to the distant dying sound of
galloping feet.

It was a great disappointment, but the conviction that we had found a
really good spot made some amends, and Snowball was left undisturbed to
feed and rest for another two hours.  We made for the waggons along
another route taking in some of the newly discovered country in the home
sweep, and the promise of the morning was fulfilled.  We had not been
more than a few minutes on the way when a fine rietbuck ram jumped up
within a dozen yards of Snowball's nose.  Old Rocky had taught me to
imitate the rietbuck's shrill whistle and this one fell to the first
shot.  He was a fine big fellow, and as Snowball put on airs and
pretended to be nervous when it came to packing the meat, I had to
blindfold him, and after hoisting the buck up to a horizontal branch
lowered it on to his back.

Snowball was villainously slow and bad to lead.  He knew that whilst
being led neither whip nor spur could touch him, and when loaded up with
meat he dragged along at a miserable walk: one had to haul him.  Once--
but only once--I had tried driving him before me, trusting to about 400
pounds weight of koodoo meat to keep him steady; but no sooner had I
stepped behind with a switch than he went off with a cumbrous plunge and
bucked like a frantic mule until he rid himself of his load, saddle and
all.  The fact is one person could not manage him on foot, it needed one
at each end of him, and he knew it: thus it worked out at a compromise:
he carried my load, and I went his pace!

We were labouring along in this fashion when we came on the wildebeeste
again.  A white man on foot seems to be recognised as an enemy; but if
accompanied by animals, either on horseback, driving in a vehicle,
leading a horse, or walking among cattle, he may pass unnoticed for a
long while: attention seems to be fixed on the animals rather than the
man, and frank curiosity instead of alarm is quite evidently the feeling

The wildebeeste had allowed me to get close up, and I picked out the big
bull and took the shot kneeling, with my toe hooked in the reins to
secure Snowball, taking chance of being jerked off my aim rather than
let him go; but he behaved like an angel, and once more that day a
single shot was enough.

It was a long and tedious job skinning the big fellow, cutting him up,
hauling the heavy limbs and the rest of the meat up into a suitable
tree, and making all safe against the robbers of the earth and the air;
and most troublesome of all was packing the head and skin on Snowball,
who showed the profoundest mistrust of this dark ferocious-looking

Snowball and I had had enough of it when we reached camp, well after
dark; but Jock I am not so sure of: his invincible keenness seemed at
times to have something in it of mute reproach--the tinge of
disappointment in those they love which great hearts feel, and strive to
hide!  I never outstayed Jock, and never once knew him `own up' that he
had had enough.

No two days were quite alike; yet many were alike in the sense that they
were successful without hitch and without interest to any but the
hunters; many others were marked by chases in which Jock's part--most
essential to success--too closely resembled that of other days to be
worth repeating.  On that day he had, as usual, been the one to see the
wildebeeste and had `given the word' in time; the rest was only one
straight shot.  That was fair partnership in which both were happy; but
there was nothing to talk about.

There was very little wanton shooting with us, for when we had more
fresh meat than was required, as often happened, it was dried as
`bultong' for the days of shortage which were sure to come.

I started off early next morning with the boys to bring in the meat, and
went on foot, giving Snowball a rest, more or less deserved.  By nine
o'clock the boys were on their way back, and leaving them to take the
direct route I struck away eastwards along the line of the pools, not
expecting much and least of all dreaming that fate had one of the worst
days in store for us: "From cloudless heavens her lightnings glance" did
not occur to my mind as we moved silently along in the bright sunshine.

We passed the second pool, loitering a few minutes in the cool shade of
the evergreens to watch the green pigeons feeding on the wild figs and
peering down curiously at us; then moved briskly into more open ground.
It is not wise to step too suddenly out of the dark shade into strong
glare, and it may have been that act of carelessness that enabled the
koodoo to get off before I saw them.  They cantered away in a string
with the cows in the rear, between me and two full-grown bulls.  It was
a running shot--end on--and the last of the troop, a big cow, gave a
stumble; but catching herself up again she cantered off slowly.  Her
body was all bunched up and she was pitching greatly, and her hind legs
kept flying out in irregular kicks, much as you may see a horse kick out
when a blind fly is biting him.

There was no time for a second shot and we started off in hot pursuit;
and fifty yards further on where there was a clear view I saw that the
koodoo was going no faster than an easy canter, and Jock was close

Whether he was misled by the curious action, and believed there was a
broken leg to grip, or was simply over bold, it is impossible to know.
Whatever the reason, he jumped for one of the hind legs, and at the same
moment the koodoo lashed out viciously.  One foot struck him under the
jaw close to the throat, `whipped' his head and neck back like a bent
switch, and hurled him somersaulting backwards.

I have the impression--as one sees oneself in a nightmare--of a person
throwing up his arms and calling the name of his child as a train passed
over it.

Jock lay limp and motionless, with the blood oozing from mouth, nose,
and eyes.  I recollect feeling for his heart-beat and breath, and
shaking him roughly and calling him by name; then, remembering the pool
near by, I left him in the shade of a tree, filled my hat with water,
ran back again and poured it over him and into his mouth, shaking him
again to rouse him, and several times pressing his sides--bellows
fashion--in a ridiculous effort to restore breathing.

The old hat was leaky and I had to grip the rough-cut ventilations to
make it hold any water at all, and I was returning with a second supply
when with a great big heart-jump, I saw Jock heel over from his side and
with his fore legs flat on the ground raise himself to a resting
position, his head wagging groggily and his eyes blinking in a very
dazed way.

He took no notice when I called his name, but at the touch of my hand
his ears moved up and the stumpy tail scraped feebly in the dead leaves.
He was stone deaf; but I did not know it then.  He lapped a little of
the water, sneezed the blood away and licked his chops; and then, with
evident effort, stood up.

But this is the picture which it is impossible to forget.  The dog was
still so dazed and shaken that he reeled slightly, steadying himself by
spreading his legs well apart, and there followed a few seconds' pause
in which he stood thus; and then he began to walk forward with the
uncertain staggery walk of a toddling child.  His jaws were set close;
his eyes were beady black, and he looked `fight' all over.  He took no
notice of me; and I, never dreaming that he was after the koodoo,
watched the walk quicken to a laboured trot before I moved or called;
but he paid no heed to the call.  For the first time in his life there
was rank open defiance of orders, and he trotted slowly along with his
nose to the ground.  Then I understood; and, thinking he was maddened by
the kick and not quite responsible for himself, and--more than that--
admiring his pluck far too much to be angry, I ran to bring him back;
but at a turn in his course he saw me coming, and this time he obeyed
the call and signal instantly, and with a limp air of disappointment
followed quietly back to the tree.

The reason for Jock's persistent disobedience that day was not even
suspected then; I put everything down to the kick; and he seemed to me
to be `all wrong,' but indeed there was excuse enough for him.
Nevertheless it was puzzling that at times he should ignore me in
positively contemptuous fashion, and at others obey with all his old
readiness: I neither knew he was deaf, nor realised that the habit of
using certain signs and gestures when I spoke to him--and even of using
them in place of orders when silence was imperative--had made him almost
independent of the word of mouth.  From that day he depended wholly upon
signs; for he never heard another sound.

Jock came back with me and lay down; but he was not content.  Presently
he rose again and remained standing with his back to me, looking
steadily in the direction taken by the koodoo.  It was fine to see the
indomitable spirit, but I did not mean to let him try again; the koodoo
was as good as dead no doubt, yet a hundred koodoo would not have
tempted me to risk taking him out: to rest him and get him back to the
camp was the only thought.  I was feeling very soft about the dog then.
And while I sat thus watching him and waiting for him to rest and
recover, once more and almost within reach of me he started off again.
But it was not as he had done before: this time he went with a spring
and a rush, and with head lowered and meaning business.  In vain I
called and followed: he outpaced me and left me in a few strides.

The koodoo had gone along the right bank of the donga which, commencing
just below the pool, extended half a mile or more down the flat valley.
Jock's rush was magnificent, but it was puzzling, and his direction was
even more so; for he made straight for the donga.

I ran back for the rifle and followed, and he had already disappeared
down the steep bank of the donga when, through the trees on the opposite
side, I saw a koodoo cow moving along at a slow cramped walk.  The donga
was a deep one with perpendicular sides, and in places even overhanging
crumbling banks, and I reached it as Jock, slipping and struggling,
worked his way up the other wall writhing and climbing through the tree
roots exposed by the floods.  As he rushed out the koodoo saw him and
turned; there was just a chance--a second of time: a foot of space--
before he got in the line of fire; and I took it.  One hind leg gave
way, and in the short sidelong stagger that followed Jock jumped at the
koodoo's throat and they went down together.

It took me several minutes to get through the donga, and by that time
the koodoo was dead and Jock was standing, wide-mouthed and panting, on
guard at its head: the second shot had been enough.

It was an unexpected and puzzling end; and, in a way, not a welcome one,
as it meant delay in getting back.  After the morning's experience there
was not much inclination for the skinning and cutting up of a big animal
and I set to work gathering branches and grass to hide the carcase,
meaning to send the boys back for it.

But the day's experiences were not over yet: a low growl from Jock made
me look sharply round, to see half a dozen kaffirs coming through the
bush with a string of mongrel hounds at their heels.

So that was the explanation of the koodoo's return to us!  The natives,
a hunting party, had heard the shot and coming along in hopes of meat
had met and headed off the wounded koodoo, turning her back almost on
her own tracks.  There was satisfaction in having the puzzle solved, but
the more practical point was that here was all the help I wanted; and
the boys readily agreed to skin the animal and carry the four quarters
to the camp for the gift of the rest.

Then my trouble began with Jock.  He flew at the first of the kaffir
dogs that sneaked up to sniff at the koodoo.  Shouting at him produced
no effect whatever, and before I could get hold of him he had mauled the
animal pretty badly.  After hauling him off I sat down in the shade,
with him beside me; but there were many dogs, and a succession of
affairs, and I, knowing nothing of his deafness, became thoroughly
exasperated and surprised by poor old Jock's behaviour.

His instinct to defend our kills, which was always strong, was roused
that day beyond control, and his hatred of kaffir dogs--an implacable
one in any case--made a perfect fury of him; still, the sickening awful
feeling that came over me as he lay limp and lifeless was too fresh, and
it was not possible to be really angry; and after half a dozen of the
dogs had been badly handled there was something so comical in the way
they sheered off and eyed Jock that I could only laugh.  They sneaked
behind bushes and tried to circumvent him in all sorts of ways, but fled
precipitately as soon as he moved a step or lowered his head and humped
his shoulders threateningly.  Even the kaffir owners, who had begun to
look glum, broke into appreciative laughter and shouts of admiration for
the white man's dog.

Jock kept up an unbroken string of growls, not loud, of course, but I
could feel them going all the while like a volcano's rumbling as my
restraining hand rested on him, and when the boys came up to skin the
koodoo I had to hold him down and shake him sharply.  The dog was mad
with fight; he bristled all over; and no patting or talking produced
more than a flicker of his ears.  The growling went on; the hair stood
up; the tail was quite unresponsive; his jaws were set like a vice; and
his eyes shone like two black diamonds.  He had actually struggled to
get free of my hand when the boys began to skin, and they were so scared
by his resolute attempt that they would not start until I put him down
between my knees and held him.

I was sitting against a tree only three or four yards from the koodoo,
and the boys, who had lighted a fire in anticipation of early tit-bits
which would grill while they worked, were getting along well with the
skinning, when one of them saw fit to pause in order to hold forth in
the native fashion on the glories of the chase and the might of the
white man.  Jock's head lay on his paws and his mouth was shut like a
rat-trap; his growling grew louder as the bombastic nigger, all
unconscious of the wicked watching eyes behind him, waved his
blood-stained knife and warmed to his theme.

"Great you thought yourself," proclaimed the orator, addressing the dead
koodoo in a long rigmarole which was only partly understood by me but
evidently much approved by the other boys as they stooped to their work,
"Swift of foot and strong of limb.  But the white man came, and--there!"
I could not make out the words with any certainty; but whatever the
last word was, it was intended as a dramatic climax, and to lend
additional force to his point the orator let fly a resounding kick on
the koodoo's stomach.

The effect was quite electrical!  Like an arrow from the bow Jock flew
at him!  The warning shout came too late, and as Jock's teeth fastened
in him behind the terrified boy gave a wild bound over the koodoo,
carrying Jock like a streaming coat-tail behind him.

The work was stopped and the natives drew off in grave consultation.  I
thought that they had had enough of Jock for one day and that they would
strike work and leave me, probably returning later on to steal the meat
while I went for help from the waggons.  But it turned out that the
consultation was purely medical, and in a few minutes I had an
interesting exhibition of native doctoring.  They laid the late orator
out face downwards, and one burly `brother' straddled him across the
small of the back; then after a little preliminary examination of the
four slits left by Jock's fangs, he proceeded to cauterise them with the
glowing ends of sundry sticks which an assistant took from the fire and
handed to him as required.  The victim flapped his hands on the ground
and hallooed out "My babo!  My babo!" but he did not struggle; and the
operator toasted away with methodical indifference.

The orator stood it well!

I took Jock away to the big tree near the pool: it was evident that he,
too, had had enough of it for one day.



There was no hunting for several days after the affair with the koodoo
cow.  Jock looked worse the following day than he had done since
recovering consciousness: his head and neck swelled up so that chewing
was impossible and he could only lap a little soup or milk, and could
hardly bend his neck at all.

On the morning of the second day Jim Makokel' came up with his
hostile-looking swagger and a cross worried look on his face, and in a
half-angry and wholly disgusted tone jerked out at me, "The dog is deaf.
I say so!  Me!  Makokela!  Jock is deaf.  He does not hear when you
speak.  Deaf! yes, deaf!"

Jim's tone grew fiercer as he warmed up; he seemed to hold me
responsible.  The moment the boy spoke I knew it was true--it was the
only possible explanation of many little things; nevertheless I jumped
up hurriedly to try him in a dozen ways, hoping to find that he could
hear something.  Jim was right; he was really stone deaf.  It was
pathetic to find how each little subterfuge that drew his eyes from me
left him out of reach: it seemed as if a link had broken between us and
I had lost my hold.  That was wrong, however!  In a few days he began to
realise the loss of hearing; and after that, feeling so much greater
dependence on sight, his watchfulness increased so that nothing escaped
him.  None of those who saw him in that year, when he was at his very
best, could bring themselves to believe that he was deaf.  With me it
made differences both ways: something lost, and something gained.  If he
could hear nothing, he saw more; the language of signs developed; and
taking it all round I believe the sense of mutual dependence for success
and of mutual understanding was greater than ever.

Snowball went on to the retired list at the end of the next trip.

Joey the Smith stood at the forge one day, trimming a red-hot
horse-shoe, when I rode up and dropping the reins over Snowball's head,
sang out "Morning, Joey!"

Joey placed the chisel on the shoe with nice calculation of the amount
he wanted to snip off; his assistant boy swung the big hammer, and an
inch cube of red-hot iron dropped off.  Then Joey looked up with, what
seemed to me, a conflict of innocent surprise and stifled amusement in
his face.  The boy also turned to look, and--the insignificant incident
is curiously unforgettable--trod upon the piece of hot iron.  "Look
where you're standing," said Joey reproachfully, as the smoke and smell
of burning skin-welt rose up; and the boy with a grunt of disgust, such
as we might give at a burned boot, looked to see what damage had been
done to his `unders.'  It gave me an even better idea of a nigger's feet
than those thorn digging operations when we had to cut through a solid
whitish welt a third of an inch thick.

Joey grinned openly at the boy; but he was thinking of Snowball.

"I wonder you had the heart, Joey, I do indeed!"  I said, shaking my
head at him.

"You would have him, lad, there was no refusin' you!  You arst so nice
and wanted him so bad!"

"But how could you bear to part with him, Joey?  It must have been like
selling one of the family."

"'Es, Boy, 'es!  We are a bit stoopid--our lot!  Is he still such a
fool, or has he improved any with you?"

"Joey, I've learned him--full up to the teeth.  If he stops longer he
will become wicked, like me; and you would not be the ruin of an
innocent young thing trying to earn a living honestly, if he can?"

"Come round behind the shop, Boy.  I got a pony'll suit you proper!"  He
gave a hearty laugh, and added "You can always get what you arsk for--if
it ain't worth having.  Moril!  Don't arsk!  I never offered you
Snowball.  This one's different.  You can have him at cost price; and
that's an old twelve month account!  Ten pounds.  He's worth four of it!
Salted _an'_ shootin'!  Shake!" and I gripped his grimy old fist
gladly, knowing it was jonnick and `a square deal.'

That was Mungo Park--the long, strong, low-built, half-bred Basuto
pony--well-trained and without guile.

I left Snowball with his previous owner, to use as required, and never
called back for him; and if this should meet the eye of Joey the Smith
he will know that I no longer hope his future life will be spent in
stalking a wart-eyed white horse in a phantom Bushveld.  Mungo made

There was a spot between the Komati and Crocodile rivers on the north
side of the road where the white man seldom passed and nature was
undisturbed; few knew of water there; it was too well concealed between
deep banks and the dense growth of thorns and large trees.

The spot always had great attractions for me apart from the big game to
be found there.  I used to steal along the banks of this lone water and
watch the smaller life of the bush.  It was a delightful field for
naturalist and artist, but unfortunately we thought little of such
things, and knew even less; and now nothing is left from all the
glorious opportunities but the memory of an endless fascination and a
few facts that touch the human chord and will not submit to be

There were plenty of birds--guinea-fowl, pheasant, partridge, knoorhaan
and bush pauw.  Jock accompanied me of course when I took the
fowling-piece, but merely for companionship; for there was no need for
him on these occasions.  I shot birds to get a change of food and
trusted to walking them up along the river banks and near drinking
pools; but one evening Jock came forward of his own accord to help me--a
sort of amused volunteer; and after that I always used him.

He had been at my heels, apparently taking little interest in the
proceedings from the moment the first bird fell and he saw what the game
was; probably he was intelligently interested all the time but
considered it nothing to get excited about.  After a time I saw him turn
aside from the line we had been taking and stroll off at a walking pace,
sniffing softly the while.  When he had gone a dozen yards he stopped
and looked back at me; then he looked in front again with his head
slightly on one side, much as he would have done examining a beetle
rolling his ball.

There were no signs of anything, yet the grass was short for those
parts, scarce a foot high, and close, soft and curly.  A brace of
partridges rose a few feet from Jock, and he stood at ease calmly
watching them, without a sign or move to indicate more than amused
interest.  The birds were absurdly tame and sailed so quietly along that
I hesitated at first to shoot; then the noise of the two shots put up
the largest number of partridges I have ever seen in one lot, and a line
of birds rose for perhaps sixty yards across our front.  There was no
wild whirr and confusion: they rose in leisurely fashion as if told to
move on, sailing infinitely slowly down the slope to the thorns near the
donga.  Running my eye along the line I counted them in twos up to
between thirty and forty; and that I could not have been more than half.
How many coveys had packed there, and for what purpose, and whether
they came every evening, were questions which one would like answered
now; but they were not of sufficient interest then to encourage a second
visit another evening.  The birds sailed quietly into the little wood,
and many of them alighted on branches of the larger trees.  It is the
only time I have seen a partridge in a tree; but when one comes to think
it out, it seems commonsense that, in a country teeming with vermin and
night-prowlers, all birds should sleep off the ground.  Perhaps they do!

There were numbers of little squirrel-like creatures there too.  Our
fellows used to call them ground-squirrels and "tree-rats"; because they
live underground, yet climb trees readily in search of food; they were
little fellows like meerkats, with bushy tails ringed in brown, black
and white, of which the waggon-boys made decorations for their slouch

Jock wanted a go at them: they did not appear quite so much beneath
notice as the birds.

Along the water's edge one came on the lagavaans, huge repulsive
water-lizards three to four feet long, like crocodiles in miniature,
sunning themselves in some favourite spot in the margin of the reeds or
on the edge of the bank; they give one the jumps by the suddenness of
their rush through the reeds and plunge into deep water.

There were otters too, big black-brown fierce fellows, to be seen
swimming silently close under the banks.  I got a couple of them, but
was always nervous of letting Jock into the water after things, as one
never knew where the crocodile lurked.  He got an ugly bite from one old
dog-otter which I shot in shallow water; and, mortally wounded as he
was, the otter put up a rare good fight before Jock finally hauled him

Then there were the cane-rats, considered by some most excellent and
delicate of meats, as big and tender as small sucking-pigs.  The
cane-rat, living and dead, I was one of the stock surprises, and the
subject of jokes and tricks upon the unsuspecting: there seems to be no
sort of ground for associating the extraordinary fat thing, gliding
among the reeds or swimming silently under the banks, with either its
live capacity of rat or its more attractive dead _role_ of roast

The hardened ones enjoyed setting this treat before the hungry and
unsuspecting, and, after a hearty meal, announcing--"That was roast rat:
good, isn't it?"  The memory of one experience gives me water in the
gills now!  It was unpleasant, but not equal to the nausea and upheaval
which supervened when, after a very savoury stew of delicate white meat,
we were shown the fresh skin of a monkey hanging from the end of the
buck-rails, with the head drooping forward, eyes closed, arms dangling
lifeless, and limp open hands--a ghastly caricature of some hanged
human, shrivelled and shrunk within its clothes of skin.  I felt like a

The water tortoises in the silent pools, grotesque muddy fellows, were
full of interest to the quiet watcher, and better that way than as the
"turtle soup" which once or twice we ventured on and tried to think was

There were certain hours of the day when it was more pleasant and
profitable to lie in the shade and rest.  It is the time of rest for the
Bushveld--that spell about middle-day; and yet if one remains quiet,
there is generally something to see and something worth watching.  There
were the insects on the ground about one which would not otherwise be
seen at all; there were caterpillars clad in spiky armour made of tiny
fragments of grass--fair defence no doubt against some enemies and a
most marvellous disguise; other caterpillars clad in bark, impossible to
detect until they moved; there were grasshoppers like leaves, and
irregularly shaped stick insects, with legs as bulky as the body, and
all jointed by knots like irregular twigs--wonderful mimetic creatures.

Jock often found these things for me.  Something would move and interest
him; and when I saw him stand up and examine a thing at his feet,
turning it over with his nose or giving it a scrape with his paw, it was
usually worth joining in the inspection.  The Hottentot-gods always
attracted him as they reared up and `prayed' before him; quaint things,
with tiny heads and thin necks and enormous eyes, that sat up with fore
legs raised to pray, as a pet dog sits up and begs.

One day I was watching the ants as they travelled along their route--
sometimes stopping to hobnob with those they met, sometimes hurrying
past, and sometimes turning as though sent back on a message or reminded
of something forgotten--when a little dry brown bean lying in a spot of
sunlight gave a jump of an inch or two.  At first it seemed that I must
have unknowingly moved some twig or grass stem that flicked it; but as I
watched it there was another vigorous jump.  I took it up and examined
it but there was nothing unusual about it, it was just a common light
brown bean with no peculiarities or marks; it was a real puzzle, a most
surprising and ridiculous one.  I found half a dozen more in the same
place; but it was some days before we discovered the secret.  Domiciled
in each of them was a very small but very energetic worm, with a
trap-door or stopper on his one end, so artfully contrived that it was
almost impossible with the naked eye to locate the spot where the hole
was.  The worm objected to too much heat and if the beans were placed in
the sun or near the fire the weird astonishing jumping would commence.

The beans were good for jumping for several months, and once in Delagoa,
one of our party put some on a plate in the sun beside a fellow who had
been doing himself too well for some time previously: he had become a
perfect nuisance to us and we could not get rid of him.  He had a mouth
full of bread, and a mug of coffee on the way to help it down, when the
first bean jumped.  He gave a sort of peck, blinked several times to
clear his eyes, and then with his left hand pulled slightly at his
collar, as though to ease it.  Then came another jump, and his mouth
opened slowly and his eyes got big.  The plate being hollow and glazed
was not a fair field for the jumpers--they could not escape; and in
about half a minute eight or ten beans were having a rough and tumble.

With a white scared face our guest slowly lowered his mug, screened his
eyes with the other hand, and after fighting down the mouthful of bread,
got up and walked off without a word.

We tried to smother our laughter, but some one's choking made him look
back and he saw the whole lot of us in various stages of convulsions.
He made one rude remark, and went on; but every one he met that day made
some allusion to beans, and he took the Durban steamer next morning.

The insect life was prodigious in its numbers and variety; and the
birds, the beasts, and the reptiles were all interesting.  There is a
goodness-knows-what-will-turn-up-next atmosphere about the Bushveld
which is, I fancy, unique.  The story of the curate, armed with a
butterfly net, coming face to face with a black-maned lion may or may
not be true--in fact; but it is true enough as an illustration; and it
is no more absurd or unlikely than the meeting at five yards of a
lioness and a fever-stricken lad carrying a white green-lined umbrella--
which is true!  The boy stood and looked: the lioness did the same.
"She seemed to think I was not worth eating, so she walked off," he used
to say--and he was Trooper 242 of the Imperial Light Horse who went back
under fire for wounded comrades and was killed as he brought the last
one out.

I had an old cross-bred Hottentot-Bushman boy once--one could not tell
which lot he favoured--who was full of the folklore stories and
superstitions of his strange and dying race, which he half humorously
and half seriously blended with his own knowledge and hunting
experiences.  Jantje had the ugly wrinkled dry-leather face of his
breed, with hollow cheeks, high cheek-bones, and little pinched eyes, so
small and so deeply set that no one ever saw the colour of them; the
pepper-corns of tight wiry wool that did duty for hair were sparsely
scattered over his head like the stunted bushes in the desert; and his
face and head were seamed with scars too numerous to count, the
souvenirs of his drunken brawls.  He resembled a tame monkey rather than
a human creature, being, like so many of his kind without the moral side
or qualities of human nature which go to mark the distinction between
man and monkey.  He was normally most cheery and obliging; but it meant
nothing, for in a moment the monkey would peep out, vicious, treacherous
and unrestrained.  Honesty, sobriety, gratitude, truth, fidelity, and
humanity were impossible to him: it seemed as if even the germs were not
there to cultivate, and the material with which to work did not exist.
He had certain make-believe substitutes, which had in a sense been
grafted on to his nature, and appeared to work, while there was no real
use for them; they made a show, until they were tested; one took them
for granted, as long as they were not disproved: it was a skin graft
only, and there seemed to be no real `union' possible between them and
the tough alien stock.  He differed in character and nature from the
Zulu as much as he did from the white man; he was as void of principle
as--well, as his next of kin, the monkey; yet, while without either
shame of, or contempt for, cowardice; he was wholly without fear of
physical danger, having a sort of fatalist's indifference to it; and
that was something to set off against his moral deficit.  I put Jantje
on to wash clothes the day he turned up at the waggons to look for work,
and as he knelt on the rocks stripped to the waist I noticed a very
curious knotted line running up his right side from the lowest rib into
the armpit.  The line was whiter than his yellow skin; over each rib
there was a knot or widening in the line; and under the arm there was a
big splotchy star--all markings of some curious wound.

He laughed almost hysterically, his eyes disappearing altogether and
every tooth showing, as I lifted his arm to investigate; and then in
high-pitched falsetto tones he shouted in a sort of ecstasy of delight,
"Die ouw buffels, Baas!  Die buffels bull, Baas!"

"Buffalo!  Did he toss you?"  I asked.  Jantje seemed to think it the
best joke in the world and with constant squeals of laughter and graphic
gestures gabbled off his account.

His master, it appears, had shot at and slightly wounded the buffalo,
and Jantje had been placed at one exit from the bush to prevent the herd
from breaking away.  As they came towards him he fired at the foremost
one; but before he could reload the wounded bull made for him and he ran
for dear life to the only tree near--one of the flat-topped thorns.  He
heard the thundering hoofs and the snorting breath behind, but raced on
hoping to reach the tree and dodge behind it; a few yards short,
however, the bull caught him, in spite of a jump aside, and flung him
with one toss right on top of the thorn-tree.

When he recovered consciousness he was lying face upwards in the sun,
with nothing to rest his head on and only sticks and thorns around him.
He did not know where he was or what had happened; he tried to move, but
one arm was useless and the effort made him slip and sag, and he thought
he was falling through the earth.  Presently he heard regular tramping
underneath him and the breath of a big animal: and the whole incident
came back to him.  By feeling about cautiously he at last located the
biggest branch under him, and getting a grip on this he managed to turn
over and ease his right side.  He could then see the buffalo: it had
tramped a circle round the tree and was doing sentry over him.  Now and
again the huge creature stopped to sniff, snort and stamp, and then
resumed the round, perhaps the reverse way.  The buffalo could not see
him and never once looked up, but glared about at its own accustomed
level; and, relying entirely on its sense of smell, it kept up the
relentless vengeful watch for hours, always stopping in the same place,
to leeward, to satisfy itself that the enemy had not escaped.

Late in the afternoon the buffalo, for the first time, suddenly came to
a stand on the windward side of the tree, and after a good minute's
silence turned its tail on Jantje and with angry sniffs and tosses
stepped swiftly and resolutely forward some paces.  There was nothing to
be seen; but Jantje judged the position and yelled out a warning to his
master whom he guessed to be coming through the bush to look for him,
and at the same time he made what noise he could in the tree top to make
the buffalo think he was coming down.  The animal looked round from time
to time with swings and tosses of the head and threatening angry
sneezes, much as one sees a cow do when standing between her young calf
and threatened danger: it was defending Jantje, for his own purposes,
and facing the danger.

For many minutes there was dead silence: no answer came to Jantje's
call, and the bull stood its ground glaring and sniffing towards the
bush.  At last there was a heavy thud below, instantly followed by the
report of the rifle--the bullet came faster than the sound; the buffalo
gave a heavy plunge and with a grunting sob slid forward on its chest.

Round the camp fire at night Jantje used to tell tales in which fact,
fancy, and superstition were curiously mingled; and Jantje when not out
of humour was free with his stories.  The boys, for whose benefit they
were told, listened open-mouthed; and I often stood outside the ring of
gaping boys at their fire, an interested listener.

The tale of his experiences with the honey-bird which he had cheated of
its share was the first I heard him tell.  Who could say how much was
fact, how much fancy, and how much the superstitions of his race?  Not
even Jantje knew that!  He believed it all.

The Honey-bird met him one day with cheery cheep-cheep, and as he
whistled in reply it led him to an old tree where the beehive was: it
was a small hive, and Jantje was hungry; so he ate it all.  All the time
he was eating, the bird kept fluttering about, calling anxiously, and
expecting some honey or fat young bees to be thrown out for it; and when
he had finished, the bird came down and searched in vain for its share.
As he walked away the guilty Jantje noticed that the indignant bird
followed him with angry cries and threats.

All day long he failed to find game; whenever there seemed to be a
chance an angry honey-bird would appear ahead of him and cry a warning
to the game; and that night as he came back, empty-handed and hungry,
all the portents of bad luck came to him in turn.  An owl screeched
three times over his head; a goat-sucker with its long wavy wings and
tail flitted before him in swoops and rings in most ghostly silence--and
there is nothing more ghostly than that flappy wavy soundless flitting
of the goat-sucker; a jackal trotted persistently in front looking back
at him; and a striped hyena, humpbacked, savage, and solitary, stalked
by in silence, and glared.

At night as he lay unable to sleep the bats came and made faces at him;
a night adder rose up before his face and slithered out its forked
tongue--the two black beady eyes glinting the firelight back; and
whichever way he looked there was a honey-bird, silent and angry, yet
with a look of satisfaction, as it watched.  So it went all night: no
sleep for him; no rest!

In the morning he rose early and taking his gun and chopper set out in
search of hives: he would give all to the honey-bird he had cheated, and
thus make amends.

He had not gone far before, to his great delight, there came a welcome
chattering in answer to his low whistle, and the busy little fellow flew
up to show himself and promptly led the way, going ahead ten to twenty
yards at a flight.  Jantje followed eagerly until they came to a small
donga with a sandy bottom, and then the honey-bird calling briskly,
fluttered from tree to tree on either bank, leading him on.

Jantje, thinking the hive must be near by, was walking slowly along the
sandy bed and looking upwards in the trees, when something on the ground
caught his eye and he sprang back just as the head of a big puff-adder
struck where his bare foot had been a moment before.  With one swing of
his chopper he killed it; he took the skin off for an ornament, the
poison-glands for medicine, and the fangs for charms, and then whistled
and looked about for the honey-bird; but it had gone.

A little later on, however, he came upon another, and it led him to a
big and shady wild fig tree.  The honey-bird flew to the trunk itself
and cheeped and chattered there, and Jantje put down his gun and looked
about for an easy place to climb.  As he peered through the foliage he
met a pair of large green eyes looking full into his: on a big limb of
the tree lay a tiger, still as death, with its head resting on its paws,
watching him with a cat-like eagerness for its prey.  Jantje hooked his
toe in the reim sling of his old gun and slowly gathered it up without
moving his eyes from the tiger's, and backing away slowly, foot by foot,
he got out into the sunshine and made off as fast as he could.

It was the honey-bird's revenge: he knew it then!

He sat down on some bare ground to think what next to do; for he knew he
must die if he did not find honey and make good a hundred times what he
had cheated.

All day long he kept meeting honey-birds and following them; but he
would no longer follow them into the bad places, for he could not tell
whether they were new birds or the one he had robbed!  Once he had
nearly been caught; the bird had perched on an old ant-heap, and Jantje,
thinking there was a ground hive there, walked boldly forward.  A small
misshapen tree grew out of the ant-heap, and one of the twisted branches
caught his eye because of the thick ring around it: it was the coil of a
long green mamba; and far below that, half hidden by the leaves, hung
the snake's head with the neck gathered in half-loop coils ready to
strike at him.

After that Jantje kept in the open, searching for himself among rocks
and in all the old dead trees for the tell-tale stains that mark the
hive's entrance; but he had no luck, and when he reached the river in
the early afternoon he was glad of a cool drink and a place to rest.

For a couple of hours he had seen no honey-birds, and it seemed that at
last his pursuer had given him up, for that day at least.  As he sat in
the shade of the high bank, however, with the river only a few yards
from his feet he heard again a faint chattering: it came from the
river-side beyond a turn in the bank, and it was too far away for the
bird to have seen Jantje from where it called, so he had no doubt about
this being a new bird.  It seemed to him a glorious piece of luck that
he should find honey by the aid of a strange bird and be able to take
half of it back to the hive he had emptied the day before and leave it
there for the cheated bird.

There was a beach of pebbles and rocks between the high bank and the
river, and as Jantje walked along it on the keen lookout for the bird,
he spotted it sitting on a root half-way down the bank some twenty yards
ahead.  Close to where the chattering bird perched there was a break in
the pebbly beach, and there shallow water extended up to the
perpendicular bank.  In the middle of this little stretch of water, and
conveniently placed as a stepping-stone, there was a black rock, and the
bare-footed Jantje stepped noiselessly from stone to stone towards lit.

An alarmed cane-rat, cut off by Jantje from the river, ran along the
foot of the bank to avoid him; but when it reached the little patch of
shallow water it suddenly doubled back in fright and raced under the
boy's feet into the river.

Jantje stopped!  He did not know why; but there seemed to be something
wrong.  Something had frightened the cane-rat back on to him, and he
stared hard at the bank and the stretch of beach ahead of him.  Then the
rock he meant to step on to gave a heave, and a long blackish thing
curved towards him; he sprang into the air as high as he could, and the
crocodile's tail swept under his feet!

Jantje fled back like a buck--the rattle on the stones behind him and
crash of reeds putting yards into every bound.

For four days he stayed in camp waiting for some one to find a hive and
give him honey enough to make his peace; and then, for an old snuff-box
and a little powder, he bought a huge basket full of comb, young and
old, from a kaffir woman at one of the kraals some miles away, and put
it all at the foot of the tree he had cleaned out.

Then he had peace.

The boys believed every word of that story: so, I am sure, did Jantje
himself.  The buffalo story was obviously true, and Jantje thought
nothing of it: the honey-bird story was not, yet he gloried in it; it
touched his superstitious nature, and it was impossible for him to tell
the truth or to separate fact from fancy and superstition.

How much of fact there may have been in it I cannot say: honey-birds
gave me many a wild-goose chase, but when they led to anything at all it
was to hives, and not to snakes, tigers and crocodiles.  Perhaps it is
right to own up that I never cheated a honey-bird!  We pretended to
laugh at the superstition, but we left some honey all the same--just for
luck!  After all, as we used to say, the bird earned its share and
deserved encouragement.

Round the camp fire at nights it was no uncommon thing to see some one
jump up and let out with whatever was handiest at some poisonous
intruder.  There was always plenty of dead wood about and we piled on
big branches and logs freely, and as the ends burnt to ashes in the
heart of the fire we kept pushing the logs further in.  Of course, dead
trees are the home of all sorts of `creepy-crawly' things, and as the
log warmed up and the fire eat into the decayed heart and drove thick
hot smoke through the cracks and corridors and secret places in the logs
the occupants would come scuttling out at the butt ends.  Small snakes
were common--the big ones usually clearing when the log was first
disturbed--and they slipped away into the darkness giving hard quick
glances about them; but scorpions, centipedes and all sorts of spiders
were by far the most numerous.

Occasionally in the mornings we found snakes under our blankets, where
they had worked in during the night for the warmth of the human body;
but no one was bitten, and one made a practice of getting up at once,
and with one movement, so that unwelcome visitors should not be warned
or provoked by any preliminary rolling.  The scorpions, centipedes and
tarantulas seemed to be more objectionable; but they were quite as
anxious to get away as we were, and it is wonderful how little damage is

One night when we had been watching them coming out of a big honeycombed
log like the animals from the Ark, and were commenting on the
astonishing number and variety of these things, I heard Jantje conveying
in high-pitched tones fanciful bits of information to the credulous
waggon-boys.  When he found that we too were listening--and Jantje had
the storyteller's love for a `gallery'--he turned our way and dropped
into a jargon of broken English, helped out with Hottentot-Dutch, which
it is impossible to reproduce in intelligible form.

He had made some allusion to `the great battle,' and when I asked for an
explanation he told us the story.  It is well enough known in South
Africa, and similar stories are to be found in the folklore of other
countries, but it had a special interest for us in that Jantje gave it
as having come to him from his own people.  He called it "The Great
Battle between the Things of the Earth and the Things of the Air."

For a long time there had been jealousy between the Things of the Earth
and the Things of the Air, each claiming superiority for themselves;
each could do something the others could not do; and each thought their
powers greater and their qualities superior.  One day a number of them
happened to meet on an open plain near the river's bank, and the game of
brag began again as usual.  At last the Lion, who was very cross, turned
to the old Black Aasvogel, as he sat half asleep on a dead tree, and
challenged him.

"You only eat the dead: you steal where others kill.  It is all talk
with you; you will not fight!"

The Aasvogel said nothing, but let his bald head and bare neck settle
down between his shoulders, and closed his eyes.

"He wakes up soon enough when we find him squatting above the carcase,"
said the Jackal.  "See him flop along then."

"When _we_ find him!" the Aasvogel said, opening his eyes wide.
"Sneaking prowler of the night!  Little bastard of the Striped Thief!"

"Come down and fight," snarled the Hyena angrily.  "Thief and scavenger

So the Things of the Air gathered about and joined in backing the Black
Aasvogel; and the Things of the Earth kept on challenging them to come
down and have it out; but nobody could hear anything because the Jackal
yapped incessantly and the Go'way bird, with its feathers all on end and
its neck craned out, screamed itself drunk with passion.

Then the Eagle spoke out:

"You have talked enough.  Strike--strike for the eyes!" and he swept
down close to the Lion's head, but swerving to avoid the big paw that
darted out at him, he struck in passing at the Jackal, and took off part
of his ear.

"I am killed!  I am killed!" screamed the Jackal, racing for a hole to
hide in.  But the other beasts laughed at him; and when the Lion called
them up and bade them take their places in the field for the great
battle, the Jackal walked close behind him holding his head on one side
and showing each one what the Eagle had done.

"Where is my place?" asked the Crocodile, in a soft voice, from the bank
where no one had noticed him come up.

The Things of the Earth that were near him moved quietly away.

"Your place is in the water," the Lion answered.  "Coward and traitor
whom no one trusts!  Who would fight with his back to you?"

The Crocodile laughed softly and rolled his green eyes from one to
another; and they moved still further away.

"What am I?" asked the Ostrich.  "Kindred of the Birds, I am of the
winged ones; yet I cannot fight with them!"

"Let him fly!" said the Jackal, grinning, "and we shall then see to whom
he belongs!  Fly, old Three Sticks!  Fly!"

The Ostrich ran at him, waltzing and darting with wings outspread, but
the Jackal dodged away under the Lion and squealed out, "Take your feet
off the ground, Clumsy, and fly!"

Then it was arranged that there should be two Umpires, one for each
party, and that the Umpires should stand on two high hills where all
could see them.  The Ostrich was made Umpire for the Things of the Air,
and as long as the fight went well with his party he was to hold his
head high so that the Things of the Air might see the long thin neck
upright and, knowing that all was well, fight on.

The Jackal asked that he might be Umpire for the Things of the Earth.

"You are too small to be seen!" objected the Lion gruffly.

"No!  No!" urged the Jackal, "I will stand on a big ant-heap and hold my
bushy tail on high where all will see it shining silver and gold in the

"Good!" said the Lion.  "It is better so, perhaps, for you would never
fight; and as soon as one begins to run, others follow!"

The Things of the Air gathered in their numbers, and the Eagle led them,
showing them how to make up for their weakness by coming swiftly down in
numbers where they found their enemies alone or weak; how to keep the
sun behind them so that it would shine in their enemies' eyes and blind
them; and how the loud-voiced ones should attack on the rear and scream
suddenly, while those with bill and claw swooped down in front and
struck at the eyes.

And for a time it went well with the Things of the Air.  The little
birds and locusts and butterflies came in clouds about the Lion and he
could see nothing as he moved from place to place; and the Things of the
Earth were confused by these sudden attacks; and, giving up the fight,
began to flee from their places.

Then the Jackal, believing that he would not be found out, cheated: he
kept his tail up to make them think they were not beaten.  The Lion
roared to them, so that all could hear, to watch the hill where the
Jackal stood and see the sign of victory; and the Things of the Earth,
being strong, gathered together again and withstood the enemy and drove
them off.

The battle was going against the Things of the Air when the Go'way bird
came to the Eagle and said:

"It is the Jackal who has done this.  Long ago we had won; but, Cheat
and Coward, he kept his tail aloft and his people have returned and are
winning now."

Then the Eagle, looking round the field, said, "Send me the Bee."

And when the Bee came the Eagle told him what to do; and setting quietly
about his work, as his habit is, he made a circuit through the trees
that brought him to the hill where the Jackal watched from the ant-heap.

While the Jackal stood there with his mouth open and tongue out,
laughing to see how his cheating had succeeded, the Bee came up quietly
behind and, as Jantje put it, "stuck him from hereafter!"

The Jackal gave a scream of pain and, tucking his tail down, jumped from
the ant-heap and ran away into the bush; and when the Things of the
Earth saw the signal go down they thought that all was lost, and fled.

So was the Great Battle won!



Mungo was not a perfect mount, but he was a great improvement on
Snowball; he had a wretched walk, and led almost as badly as his
predecessor; but this did not matter so much because he could be driven
like a pack donkey and relied on not to play pranks.  In a gallop after
game he was much faster than Snowball, having a wonderfully long stride
for so low a pony.

A horse made a good deal of difference in the hunting in many ways, not
the least of which was that some sort of excursion was possible on most
days.  One could go further in the time available and, even if delayed,
still be pretty sure of catching up to the waggons without much

Sometimes after a long night's trekking I would start off after
breakfast for some `likely' spot, off-saddle there in a shady place,
sleep during the heat of the day, and after a billy of tea start hunting
towards the waggons in the afternoon.

It was in such a spot on the Komati River, a couple of hundred yards
from the bank, that on one occasion I settled down to make up lost
ground in the matter of sleep, and with Mungo knee-haltered in good
grass and Jock beside me, I lay flat on my back with hat covering my
eyes and was soon comfortably asleep.

The sleep had lasted a couple of hours when I began to dream that it was
raining and woke up in the belief that a hail storm--following the
rain--was just breaking over me.  I started up to find all just as it
had been, and the sunlight beyond the big tree so glaring as to make the
eyes ache.  Through half-closed lids I saw Mungo lying down asleep and
made out Jock standing some yards away quietly watching me.

With a yawn and stretch I lay back again; sleep was over but a good lazy
rest was welcome: it had been earned, and, most comforting of all, there
was nothing else to be done.  In the doze that followed I was surprised
to feel quite distinctly something like a drop of rain strike my leg,
and then another on my hat.

"Hang it all, it is raining," I said, sitting up again and quite wide
awake this time.  There was Jock still looking at me, but only for the
moment of moving, it appears; for, a minute later he looked up into the
tree above me with ears cocked, head on one side, and tail held lazily
on the horizontal and moving slowly from time to time.

It was his look of interested amusement.

A couple of leaves fluttered down, and then the half-eaten pip of a
`wooden orange' struck me in the face as I lay back again to see what
was going on above.  The pip gave me the line, and away up among the
thick dark foliage I saw a little old face looking down at me; the quick
restless eyes were watchfully on the move, and the mouth partly opened
in the shape of an O--face and attitude together a vivid expression of
surprise and indignation combined with breathless interest.

As my eyes fairly met those above me, the monkey ducked its head forward
and promptly `made a face' at me without uttering a sound.  Then others
showed up in different places, and whole figures became visible now as
the monkeys stole softly along the branches to get a better look at Jock
and me: there were a couple of dozen of them of all sizes.

They are the liveliest, most restless, and most inquisitive of
creatures; ludicrously nervous and excitable; quick to chattering anger
and bursts of hysterical passion, which are intensely comical,
especially when they have been scared.  They are creatures whose method
of progress most readily betrays them by the swaying of a branch or
quivering of leaves, yet they can steal about and melt away at will,
like small grey ghosts, silent as the grave.

I had often tried to trap them, but never succeeded: Jantje caught them,
as he caught everything, with cunning that out-matched his wilder
kindred; pitfalls, nooses, whip-traps, fall-traps, foot-snares, drags,
slip-knots of all kinds, and tricks that I cannot now remember, were in
his repertory; but he disliked showing his traps, and when told to
explain he would half sulkily show one of the common kind.

The day he caught the monkey he was well pleased, and may possibly have
told the truth.  Baboons and monkeys, he said, can count just like men,
but they can only count two!  If one man goes into a mealie field and
waits for them with a gun, their sentry will see him, and he may wait
for ever; if two go and one remains, it is useless, for they realise
that only one has come out where two went in; but if three go in, one
may remain behind to lie in wait for them, for the monkeys, seeing more
than one return, will invade the mealie field as soon as the two are
safely out of the way.  That was only Jantje's explanation of the
well-known fact that monkeys and baboons know the difference between one
and more than one.

But, as Jantje explained, their cleverness helped him to catch them.  He
went alone and came away alone, leaving his trap behind, knowing that
they were watching his every movement, but knowing also that their
intense curiosity would draw them to it the moment it seemed safe.  The
trap he used was an old calabash or gourd with a round hole in it about
an inch in diameter; and a few pumpkin seeds and mealies and a hard
crust of bread, just small enough to get into the calabash, formed the

After fastening the gourd by a cord to a small stump, he left it lying
on its side on the ground where he had been sitting.  A few crumbs and
seeds were dropped near it and the rest placed in the gourd, with one or
two showing in the mouth.  Then he walked off on the side where he would
be longest in view, and when well out of sight sped round in a circuit
to a previously selected spot where he could get close up again and

The foremost monkey was already on the ground when he got back and
others were hanging from low branches or clinging to the stems, ready to
drop or retreat.  Then began the grunts and careful timid approaches,
such as one sees in a party of children hunting for the hidden `ghost'
who is expected to appear suddenly and chase them; next, the chattering
garrulous warnings and protests from the timid ones--the females--in the
upper branches; the sudden start and scurry of one of the youngsters;
and the scare communicated to all, making even the leader jump back a
pace; then his angry grunt and loud scolding of the frightened ones--
angry because they had given him a fright, and loud because he was
reassuring himself.

After a pause they began the careful roundabout approach and the
squatting and waiting, making pretences of not being particularly
interested, while their quick eyes watched everything; then the deft
picking up of one thing--instantly dropped again, as one picks up a
roasted chestnut and drops it in the same movement, in case it should be
hot; and finally the greedy scramble and chatter.

I have seen all that, but not, alas, the successful ending, when trying
to imitate Jantje's methods.  Jantje waited until the tugs at the gourd
became serious, and then, knowing that the smaller things had been taken
out or shaken out and eaten and that some enterprising monkey had put
its arm into the hole and grabbed the crust, he ran out.

A monkey rarely lets go any food it has grabbed, and when, as in this
case, the hand is jammed in a narrow neck, the letting go cannot easily
be done instinctively or inadvertently; the act requires a deliberate
effort.  So Jantje caught his monkey, and flinging his ragged coat over
the captive sat down to make it safe.  By pushing the monkey's arm
deeper into the gourd the crust became released and the hand freed; he
then gradually shifted the monkey about until he got the head into the
shoulders of the loose old coat, and thence into the sleeve; and worked
away at this until he had the creature as helpless as a mummy with the
head appearing at the cuff-opening and the body jammed in the sleeve
like a bulging overstuffed sausage.  The monkey struggled, screamed,
chattered, made faces, and cried like a child; but Jantje gripping it
between his knees worked away unmoved.

He next took the cord from the calabash and tied one end securely round
the monkey's neck, to the shrinking horror of that individual, and the
other end to a stout bush stick about seven or eight feet long; and then
slipped monkey cord and stick back through the sleeve and had his
captive safe; the cord prevented it from getting away, and the stick
from getting too close and biting him.  When they sat opposite and
pulled faces at each other the family likeness was surprising.

The grimacing little imps invariably tempt one to tease or chase them,
just to see their antics and methods; and when I rose, openly watching
them and stepping about for a better view, they abandoned the silent
methods and bounded freely from branch to branch for fresh cover, always
ducking behind something if I pointed the gun or a stick or even my arm
at them, and getting into paroxysms of rage and leaning over slang and
cheek me whenever it seemed safe.

Jock was full of excitement, thoroughly warmed up and anxious to be at
them, running about from place to place to watch them, tacking and
turning and jumping for better views, and now and then running to the
trunk and scraping at it.  Whenever he did this there was a moment's
silence; the idea of playing a trick on them struck me and I caught Jock
up and put him in the fork of a big main branch about six feet from the
ground.  The effect was magical: the whole of the top of the tree seemed
to whip and rustle at once, and in two seconds there was not a monkey

Then a wave in the top of a small tree some distance off betrayed them
and we gave chase--a useless romping schoolboy chase.  They were in the
small trees away from the river and it was easy to see and follow them;
and to add to the fun and excitement I threw stones at the branches
behind them.  Their excitement and alarm then became hysterical, and as
we darted about to head them off they were several times obliged to
scamper a few yards along the ground to avoid me and gain other trees.
It was then that Jock enjoyed himself most: he ran at them and made
flying leaps and snaps as they sprang up the trees out of reach.  It was
like a caricature of children in one of their make-believe chases; the
screams, grimaces, and actions were so human that it would have seemed
like a tragedy had one of them been hurt.  They got away into the big
trees once more, to Jock's disappointment but greatly to my relief; for
I was quite pumped from the romp and laughter.

The river at this point was broken into several sluices by islands
formed of piles of rocks on which there were a few stunted trees and
dense growths of tall reeds, and here and there little spits and fringes
of white sand were visible.  There was plenty of small game in that
part, and it was a great place for crocodiles.  As we were then about
half a mile below where Mungo had been left I strolled along the bank on
the look out for a shot, frequently stopping to examine
suspicious-looking rocks on the sand spits or at the borders of the reed
fringes on the little islands.

The shooting of crocodiles was an act of war: it was enmity and not
sport or a desire for trophies that prompted it, and when it did not
interfere with other chances we never missed a practice shot at these
fellows.  I picked out several `rocks,' so suspicious looking that I
would have had a shot at them had there been a clear chance, and twice,
while I was trying to make them out, they slid silently into the water
before there was time to fire.

However, further on there came a better chance than any: there was
something so peculiar about the look of this `rock' that I picked a good
spot and sat down to watch it; and presently the part nearest me turned
slightly, just enough to show that it was a crocodile lying on the flat
sand with his nose towards me and his tail hidden in the reeds.  It was
fifty yards away, and from where I sat there was not much to aim at, as
a Martini bullet would glance from almost any part of that polished hard
case if it struck at such an angle.

I was sitting on the bank above the shelving beach of the river on which
a dense mass of reeds grew, and the waving feathery tops partly obscured
the sight.  I know the bullet hit him somewhere, because he bounded with
astonishing strength and activity several feet in the air and his tail
slashed through the reeds like a mighty scythe.  The huge jaws opened
and he gave a horrible angry bellow--something between a roar and a
snarl--as he plunged into the river, sending masses of spray and water
flying every way.  He made straight across, apparently at me, swimming
on top of the water at amazing speed and throwing up a wave on either
side and a white swirl of foam from the propelling tail.

It was certainly a most surprising and unheard-of proceeding, and as he
reached my side of the stream, and because hidden from me by the screen
of reeds at my feet, I turned and bolted.  It may be that he came at me
with murderous intent; or it may be that, blinded by rage or pain, he
came towards me simply because he happened to be facing that way; but,
whatever the reason, it was painfully clear that if he meant business he
would be on to me before it was possible to see him in the reeds.  That
was enough for me.  It had never occurred to me that there was going to
be any fun in this for the crocodile; but one's sense of humour and
justice was always being stimulated in the Bushveld.

With twenty yards of open ground between us I turned and waited; but no
crocodile appeared, nor was there a sound to be heard in the reeds.  A
few minutes wait; a cautious return; a careful scrutiny; and then resort
to sticks and stones; but all to no purpose: there was neither sign nor
sound of the crocodile; and not being disposed to go into the reeds to
look for something which I did not want, but might want me, I returned
to Mungo--a little wiser, it is true, but not unduly `heady' on that

Half an hour's jogging along the bank having failed to propose anything,
I struck away from the river taking a line through the bush towards
camp, and eventually came across a small herd of blue wildebeeste.
Mungo's pricked ears and raised head warned me; but the grass being high
it was not easy to see enough of them from the ground to place an
effective shot, and before a chance offered they moved off slowly.  I
walked after them, leading Mungo and trying to get a fair opening on
slightly higher ground.

Presently half a dozen blackish things appeared above the tall grass;
they were the heads of the wildebeeste--all turned one way, and all
looking at us with ears wide spread.  Only the upper halves of the heads
were visible through the thinner tops of the grass, and even an ordinary
standing shot was not possible.  I had to go to a tree for support in
order to tip-toe for the shot, and whilst in the act of raising my rifle
the heads disappeared; but I took chance and fired just below where the
last one had shown up.

The wildebeeste were out of sight, hidden by grass six feet high, but a
branch of the tree beside me served as a horizontal bar and hoisting
myself chin high I was able to see them again.  In front of us there was
a dry vlei quite free of bush, some two hundred yards across and four
hundred yards long, and the wildebeeste had gone away to the right and
were skirting the vlei, apparently meaning to get round to the opposite
side, avoiding the direct cut across the vlei for reasons of their own.
It occurred to me that there must be a deep donga or perhaps a mud hole
in front which they were avoiding; but that it might be possible for me
to get across, or even half-way across, in time to have another shot at
them the next time they stopped to look back, as they were almost
certain to do; so I ran straight on.

One does not have to reason things out like that in actual practice: the
conclusion comes instantly, as if by instinct, and no time is lost.  To
drop from the branch, pick up the rifle, and start running were all
parts of one movement.  Stooping slightly to prevent my bobbing hat from
showing up in the grass tops, and holding the rifle obliquely before me
as a sort of snowplough to clear the grass from my eyes, I made as good
pace as the ground would allow.

No doubt the rifle held in front of me made it difficult to notice
anything on the ground; but the concentrated stare across the vlei in
the direction of the galloping wildebeeste was quite as much the cause
of what followed.  Going fast and stooping low, with all my weight
thrown forward, I ran right into a wildebeeste cow.  My shot had wounded
her through the kidneys, completely paralysing the hind quarters, and
she had instantly dropped out of sight in the grass.  The only warning I
got was a furious snort, and the black looking monster with great
blazing blood-shot eyes rose up on its front legs as I ran into it.

To charge into a wounded wildebeeste ready to go for you, just when your
whole attention is concentrated upon others two hundred yards beyond, is
nearly as unpleasant as it is unexpected; it becomes a question of what
will happen to you, rather than of what you will do.  That at any rate
was my experience.  The rifle, if it had hindered me, also helped: held
out at arms length it struck the wildebeeste across the forehead and the
collision saved my chest from the horns.  There was an angry toss of the
big head and the rifle was twirled out of my hand, as one might flip a
match away.

I do not know exactly what happened: the impression is of a breathless
second's whirl and scramble, and then finding myself standing untouched
five yards away, with the half-paralysed wildebeeste squatting like a
dog and struggling to drag the useless hind quarters along in its
furious efforts to get at Jock who had already intervened to help me.

The rifle lay within the circle of the big hooked horns; and the
squatting animal, making a pivot of its hind quarters, slewed round and
round, making savage lunges at Jock and great heaves at me each time I
tried to get the rifle.  It often happens that shots touching the
kidneys produce a paralysis, temporarily severe, which passes off to a
great extent after some minutes and leaves the wounded animal well able
to charge: it happened to me some years later while trying to photograph
a wounded sable.

I tried to hook the gun out with a stick but the wildebeeste swung round
and faced me at once, snapping the sticks and twirling them out of my
hands with surprising ease and quickness.  I then tried another game,
and by making feint attacks from the other side at last got the animal
gradually worked away from my gun; and the next attempt at raking was

When the excitement was over and there was a chance of taking stock of
the position, I found that Jock had a pretty good `gravel rash' on one
hip and a nasty cut down one leg; he had caught the wildebeeste by the
nose the instant I ran into it, and it had `wiped the floor' with him
and flung him aside.

I found my bandolier with a broken buckle lying on the grass; one shirt
sleeve was ripped open; the back of the right hand cut across; hands and
knees were well grated; and there were lumps and bruises about the legs
for which there was no satisfactory explanation.  I must have scrambled
out like an unwilling participant in a dog fight.

It was a long job skinning, cutting up, and packing the wildebeeste, and
when we reached the outspan the waggons had already started and we had a
long tramp before us to catch them.

I drove Mungo before me, keeping him at an easy-jog.  We had been going
for possibly an hour and it was quite dark, except for the stars and the
young moon low down on our right; the road was soft and Mungo's jogging
paces sounded like floppy pats; there was no other sound at all, not
even a distant rumble from the waggons to cheer us; Mungo must have been
sick of it and one might have thought him jogging in his sleep but for
the occasional pricking of his ears--a trick that always makes me wonder
how much more do horses see in the dark than we do.  I walked like a
machine, with rifle on shoulder and glad to be rid of the broken
bandolier, then transferred to Mungo; and Jock trotted at my heels.

This tired monotonous progress was disturbed by Mungo: his ears pricked;
his head went up; and he stopped, looking hard at a big low bush on our
left.  I gave him a tap with the switch, and without an instant
hesitation he dashed off to the right making a half circle through the
veld and coming into the road again fifty yards ahead, and galloped away
leaving a rising column of dust behind him.

I stood and faced the bush that Mungo had shied at, and the first thing
that occurred to me was that my bandolier and cartridges were with the
pony.  Then Jock growled low and moved a few steps forward and slightly
to the right, also sheering off from that bush.  I felt that he was
bristling all over, but there was neither time nor light to watch him.
I stepped slowly sideways after him gripping the rifle and looking hard
at the bush.

Our line was much the same as Mungo's and would take us some seven or
eight paces off the road--more than that was not possible owing to the
barrier of thorns on that side.  When we got abreast of the bush two
large spots of pale light appeared in the middle of it, apparently waist
high from the ground.

It is impossible to forget the tense creepy feeling caused by the dead
stillness, the soft light, and the pale expressionless glow of those
eyes--the haunting mystery of eyes and nothing more!

It is not unusual to see eyes in the night; but this was a `nervy'
occasion, and there is no other that comes back with all the vividness
and reality of the experience itself, as this one does.  And I was not
the only nervous one.  Mungo incontinently bolted--probably what he saw
warranted it; Jock, as ever, faced it; but when my foot touched his hind
leg as we sidled away he flew round with a convulsive jump.  He too was
strung to concert pitch.

As we moved on and passed the reflecting angle of the moon, the light of
the eyes went out as suddenly and silently as it had appeared.  There
was nothing then to show me where danger lay; but Jock knew, and I kept
a watch on him.  He jogged beside me, lagging slightly as if to cover
our retreat, always looking back.  A couple of times he stopped entirely
and stood in the road, facing straight back and growling; and I followed
suit.  He was in command; he knew!

There was nothing more.  Gradually Jock's subdued purring growl died
down and the glances back became fewer.  I found Mungo a long way on,
brought to a standstill by the slipping of his load; and we caught up to
the waggons at the next outspan.



We reached the Crocodile River drift on a Sunday morning, after a
particularly dry and dusty night trek.  `Wanting a wash' did not on such
occasions mean a mild inclination for a luxury: it meant that washing
was badly needed.  The dust lay inches deep on the one worn veld road,
and the long strings of oxen toiling along kicked up suffocating clouds
of fine dust which there was seldom any breeze to carry off: it powdered
white man and black to an equal level of yellowy red.  The waggons were
a couple of hundred yards from the river; and, taking a complete change,
I went off for a real clean up.

We generally managed to get in a couple of bathes at the rivers--real
swims--but that was only done in the regular drifts and when there were
people about or waggons crossing.  In such conditions crocodiles rarely
appeared; they prefer solitude and silence.  The swims were very
delightful but somewhat different from ordinary bathes; however remote
may have been the risk of meeting a crocodile when you dived, or of
being grabbed by one as you swam, the idea was always there and made it
more interesting.

Being alone that day I had no intention of having a swim or of going
into the open river, and I took a little trouble to pick a suitable pool
with a rock on which to stand and dress.  The water was clear and I
could see the bottom of the pool.  It was quite shallow--three feet deep
at most--made by a scour in the sandy bed and divided from the main
stream by a narrow spit of sand a couple of yards wide and twenty long.
At the top end of the sand spit was a flat rock--my dressing table.

After a dip in the pool I stood on to the sand spit to scrub off the
brown dust, keeping one unsoaped eye roving round for intrusive
crocodiles, and the loaded rifle lying beside me.  The brutes slide out
so silently and unexpectedly that in that exposed position, with water
all round, one could not afford to turn one's back on any quarter for
long.  There is something laughable--it seemed faintly humorous even
then--in the idea of a naked man hastily washing soap out of his eyes
and squeezing away the water to take a hurried look behind him, and then
after careful survey, doing an `altogether' dowse just as hastily--
blowing and spluttering all the time like a boy after his first dive.

The bath was successful and ended without incident--not a sign of a
crocodile the whole time!  Breakfast was ready when I reached the
waggons, and feeling very fit and clean in a fresh flannel shirt and
white moleskins, I sat down to it.  Jim Makokel' brought the kettle of
coffee from the fire and was in the act of pouring some into a big mug
when he stopped with a grunt of surprise and, looking towards the river,
called out sharply, "What is it?"

One of the herd boys was coming at a trot towards us, and the drivers,
thinking something had happened to the oxen, called a question to him.
He did not answer until he reached them and even then spoke in so quiet
a tone that I could not catch what he said.  But Jim, putting down the
kettle, ran to his waggon and grabbing his sticks and assegais called to
me in a husky shouting whisper--which imperfectly describes Jim's way of
relieving his feelings, without making the whole world echo: "Ingwenye,
Inkos!  Ingwenye Umkulu!  Big Clocodile!  Groot Krokodil, Baas!"

Then abandoning his excited polyglot he gabbled off in pure Zulu and at
incredible speed a long account of the big Crocodile: it had carried off
four boys going to the goldfields that year; it had taken a woman and a
baby from the kraal near by, but a white man had beaten it off with a
bucket; it had taken all the dogs, and even calves and goats, at the
drinking-place; and goodness knows how much more.  How Jim got his news,
and when he made his friends, were puzzles never solved.

Hunting stories, like travellers tales, are proverbially dangerous to
reputations, however literally true they may be; and this is necessarily
so, partly because only exceptional things are worth telling, and partly
because the conditions of the country or the life referred to are
unfamiliar and cannot be grasped.  It is a depressing but accepted fact
that the ideal, lurid--and, I suppose, convincing--pictures of wild life
are done in London, where the author is unhampered by fact or

"Stick to the impossible, and you will be believed: keep clear of fact
and commonplace, and you cannot be checked."

Such was the cynical advice given many years ago by one who had bought
his experience in childhood and could not forget it.  Sent home as a
small boy from a mission station in Zululand to be educated by his
grandparents, he found the demand for marvels among his simple country
relatives so great that his small experience of snakes and wild animals
was soon used up; but the eager suggestive questions of the good people,
old and young, led him on, and he shyly crossed the border.  The Fields
of Fancy were fair and free; there were no fences there; and he stepped
out gaily into the Little People's country--The Land of Let's Pretendia!
He became very popular.

One day, however, whilst looking at the cows, he remarked that in
Zululand a cow would not yield her milk unless the calf stood by.

The old farmer stopped in his walk, gave him one suspicious look, and
asked coldly, "What do they do when a calf is killed or dies?"

"They never kill the calves there;" the boy answered, "but once when one
died father stuffed the skin, with grass and showed it to the cow;
because they said that would do."

The old man, red with anger, took the boy to his room, saying that as
long as he spoke of the lions, tigers and snakes that he knew about,
they believed him; but when it came to farming!  No!  Downright lying he
would not have; and there was nothing for it but larruping.

"It was the only piece of solid truth they had allowed me to tell for
months," he added thoughtfully, "and I got a first-class hiding for it."

And was there no one who doubted Du Chaillu and Stanley and others?  Did
no one question Gordon Cumming's story of the herd of elephants caught
and killed in a little kloof? and did not we of Barberton many years
later locate the spot by the enormous pile of bones, and name it
"Elephants' Kloof?"

There are two crocodile incidents well-known to those whom time has now
made old hands, but believed by no one else; even in the day of their
happening they divided men into believers and unbelievers.  The one was
of `Mad' Owen--only mad, because utterly reckless--riding through Komati
Drift one moonlight night alone and unarmed, who, riding, found his
horse brought to a stop, plunging, kicking and struggling on the sand
bank in mid-stream where the water was not waist deep.  Owen looking
back saw that a crocodile had his horse by the leg.  All he had was a
leaded hunting-crop, but, jumping into the water he laid on so
vigorously that the crocodile made off, and Owen remounted and rode out.

There are many who say that it is not true--that it cannot be true; for
no man would do it.  But there are others who have an open mind, because
they knew Owen--Mad Owen, who for a wager bandaged his horse's eyes and
galloped him over a twenty foot bank headlong into the Jew's Hole in
Lydenburg; Owen, who when driving four young horses in a Cape cart flung
the reins away and whipped up the team, bellowing with laughter, because
his nervous companion said he had never been upset and did not want to
be; Owen, who--But too many things rise up that earned him his title and
blow the `impossible' to the winds.

Mad Owen deserves a book to himself; but here is my little testimony on
his behalf, given shamefaced at the thought of how he would roar to
think it needed.

I crossed that same drift one evening and on riding up the bank to
Furley's store saw a horse standing in a dejected attitude with one hind
leg clothed in `trowsers' made of sacking and held up by a suspender
ingeniously fastened across his back.

During the evening something reminded me of the horse, and I asked a
question; and the end of Furley's answer was, "They say it's all a yarn
about `horsewhipping' a crocodile: all we know is that one night, a week
ago, he turned up here dripping wet, and after having a drink told us
the yarn.  He had the leaded hunting-crop in his hand; and that's the
horse he was riding.  You can make what you like of it.  We've been
doctoring the horse ever since, but I doubt if it will pull through!"

I have no doubt about the incident.  Owen did not invent: he had no need
to; and Furley himself was no mean judge of crocodiles and men.  Furley
kept a ferry boat for the use of natives and others when the river was
up, at half a crown a trip.  The business ran itself and went strong
during the summer floods, but in winter when the river was low and
fordable it needed pushing; and then Furley's boatman, an intelligent
native, would loiter about the drift and interest travellers in his
crocodile stories, and if they proved over-confident or sceptical, would
manoeuvre them a little way down stream where, from the bank, they would
usually see a big crocodile sunning himself on a sand spit below the
drift.  The boys always took the boat.  One day some police entered the
store and joyously announced that they had got him--"bagged the old
villain at last!"; and Furley dropped on a sack of mealies groaning out
"Glory, Boys!  The ferry's ruined.  Why, I've preserved him for years!"

The other crocodile incident concerns "Lying Tom"--brave merry-faced
blue-eyed Tom; bubbling with good humour; overflowing with kindness; and
full of the wildest yarns, always good and amusing, but so steep that
they made the most case-hardened draw a long breath.

The name Lying Tom was understood and accepted by every one in the
place, barring Tom himself; for, oddly enough, there was another Tom of
the same surname, but no relation, and once when his name cropped up I
heard the real Simon Pure refer to him as "my namesake--the chap they
call Lying Tom."  To the day of his death Tom believed that it was the
other Tom who was esteemed the liar.

Tom was a prospector who `came in' occasionally for supplies or
licences; and there came a day when Barberton was convulsed by Lying
Tom's latest.

He had been walking along the bank of the Crocodile River, and on
hearing screams ran down just in time to see a kaffir woman with a child
on her back dragged off through the shallow water by a crocodile.  Tom
ran in to help--"I kicked the dashed thing on the head and in the eyes,"
he said, "and punched its ribs and then grabbed the bucket that the
woman had in her hand and hammered the blamed thing over the head till
it let go.  By Jimminy, Boys, the woman was in a mess: never saw any one
in such a fright!"

Poor Tom suffered from consumption in the throat and talked in husky
jerks broken by coughs and laughter.  Is there one among them who knew
him who does not remember the breezy cheeriness, the indomitable pluck,
the merry blue eyes, so limpidly clear, the expressive bushy eyebrows,
and the teeth, too perfect to be wasted on a man, and ever flashing with
his unfailing smiles?

Tom would end up with--"Niggers said I was `takati': asked for some of
my medicine!  Blamed got no pluck: would've let the woman go."

Of course this story went the rounds latest and best; but one day we
turned up in Barberton to deliver our loads, and that evening a whisper
went about and men with faces humorously puzzled looked at one another
and said "Lying Tom's a fraud: the crocodile story is true!"

For our party, shooting guinea-fowl in the kaffir lands along the river,
came upon a kraal where there sat a woman with an arm so scarred and
marked that we could not but ask what had caused it.  There was no
difference in the stories, except that the kaffirs after saying that the
white man had kicked the crocodile and beaten it with the bucket, added
"and he kicked and beat with the bucket the two men who were there,
saying that they were not men but dogs, who would not go in and help the
woman.  But he was bewitched: the crocodile could not touch him!"

Some of Tom's stories were truly incredible, but not those in which he
figured to advantage: he was too brave a man to have consciously gained
credit he did not deserve.  He died, slowly starved to death by the
cruel disease--the brave, kindly, cheery spirit, smiling unbeaten to the

That was what Jim referred to when he called me to kill the murderer of
women and children.  It pleased him and others to say that this was the
same crocodile; and I believe it was.  The locality was the same, and
the kraal boys said that it was in the old place from which all its
murderous raids had been made; and that was all we knew.

I took the rifle and went with the herd boy; Jim followed close behind,
walking on his toes with the waltzy springy movement of an ostrich,
eager to get ahead and repeatedly silenced and driven back by me in the
few hundred yards' walk to the river.

A queer premonitory feeling came over me as I saw we were making
straight for the bathing pool; but before reaching the bank the herd boy
squatted down, indicating that somewhere in front and below us the enemy
would be found.  An easy crawl brought me to the river bank and, sure
enough, on the very spot where I had stood to wash, only fifty yards
from us, there was an enormous crocodile.  He was lying along the sand
spit with his full length exposed to me.  Such a shot would have been a
moral certainty, but as I brought the rifle slowly up it may have
glinted in the sun, or perhaps the crocodile had been watching us all
the time, for with one easy turn and no splash at all he slid into the
river and was gone.

It was very disgusting and I pitched into Jim and the other boys behind
for having made a noise and shown themselves; but they were still
squatting when I reached them and vowed they had neither moved nor
spoken.  We had already turned to go when there came a distant call from
beyond the river.  To me it was merely a kaffir's voice and a sound
quite meaningless: but to the boys' trained ears it spoke clearly.  Jim
pressed me downwards and we all squatted again.

"He is coming out on another sandbank," Jim explained.

Again I crawled to the bank and lay flat, with the rifle ready.  There
was another sand streak a hundred yards out in the stream with two
out-croppings of black rock at the upper end of it--they were rocks
right enough, for I had examined them carefully when bathing.  This was
the only other sandbank in sight: it was higher than it appeared to be
from a distance and the crocodile whilst hidden from us was visible to
the natives on the opposite bank as it lay in the shallow water and
emerged inch by inch to resume its morning sun bath.  The crocodile was
so slow in showing up that I quite thought it had been scared off again,
and I turned to examine other objects and spots up and down the stream;
but presently glancing back at the bank again I saw what appeared to be
a third rock, no bigger than a loaf of bread.  This object I watched
until my eyes ached and swam; it was the only possible crocodile; yet it
was so small, so motionless, so permanent looking, it seemed absurd to
doubt that it really was a stone which had passed unnoticed before.

As I watched unblinkingly it seemed to grow bigger and again contract
with regular swing, as if it swelled and shrank with breathing; and
knowing that this must be merely an optical delusion caused by staring
too long, I shut my eyes for a minute.  The effect was excellent: the
rock was much bigger; and after that it was easy to lie still and wait
for the cunning old reptile to show himself.

It took half an hour of this cautious manoeuvring and edging on the part
of the crocodile before he was comfortably settled on the sand with the
sun warming all his back.  In the meantime the waggon-boys behind me had
not stirred; on the opposite side of the river kaffirs from the
neighbouring kraal had gathered to the number of thirty or forty, men,
women and children, and they stood loosely grouped, instinctively still
silent and watchful, like a little scattered herd of deer.  All on both
sides were watching me and waiting for the shot.  It seemed useless to
delay longer; the whole length of the body was showing, but it looked so
wanting in thickness, so shallow in fact, that it was evident the
crocodile was lying, not on the top, but on the other slope of the sand
spit; and probably not more than six or eight inches--in depth--of body
was visible.

It was little enough to aim at, and the bullet seemed to strike the top
of the bank first, sending up a column of sand, and then, probably
knocked all out of shape, ploughed into the body with a tremendous

The crocodile threw a back somersault--that is, it seemed to rear up on
its tail and spring backwards; the jaws divided into a huge fork as, for
a second, it stood up on end; and it let out an enraged roar, seemingly
aimed at the heavens.  It was a very sudden and dramatic effect,
following on the long silence.

Then the whole world seemed to burst into indescribable turmoil; shouts
and yells burst out on all sides; the kaffirs rushed down to the banks--
the men armed with sticks and assegais, and the women and children with
nothing more formidable than their voices; the crocodile was alive--very
much alive--and in the water; the waggon-boys, headed by Jim, were all
round me and all yelling out together what should or should not be done,
and what would happen if we did or did not do it.  It was Babel and
Bedlam let loose.

With the first plunge the crocodile disappeared, but it came up again
ten yards away thrashing the water into foam and going up stream like a
paddle-boat gone reeling roaring mad--if one can imagine such a thing!
I had another shot at him the instant he reappeared, but one could
neither see nor hear where it struck; and again and again I fired
whenever he showed up for a second.  He appeared to be shot through the
lungs; at any rate the kaffirs on the other bank, who were then quite
close enough to see, said that it was so.  The waggon-boys had run down
the bank out on to the first sand spit and I followed them, shouting to
the kaffirs opposite to get out of the line of fire, as I could no
longer shoot without risk of hitting them.

The crocodile after his first straight dash up stream had tacked about
in all directions during the next few minutes, disappearing for short
spells and plunging out again in unexpected places.  One of these sudden
reappearances brought him once more abreast, and quite near to us, and
Jim with a fierce yell and with his assegai held high in his right hand
dashed into the water, going through the shallows in wild leaps.  I
called to him to come back but against his yells and the excited shouts
of the ever-increasing crowd my voice could not live; and Jim, mad with
excitement, went on.  Twenty yards out, where increasing depth steadied
him, he turned for a moment and seeing himself alone in the water called
to me with eager confidence, "Come on, Baas."

It had never occurred to me that any one would be such an idiot as to go
into water after a wounded crocodile.  There was no need to finish off
this one, for it was bound to die, and no one wanted the meat or skin.
Who, then, would be so mad as to think of such a thing?  Five minutes
earlier I would have answered very confidently for myself; but there are
times when one cannot afford to be sensible.  There was a world of
unconscious irony in Jim's choice of words "_Come_ on!" and "_Baas_!"

The boy giving the lead to his master was too much for me; and in I

I cannot say that there was much enjoyment in it for the first few
moments--not until the excitement took hold and all else was forgotten.
The first thing that struck me was that in the deep water my rifle was
worth no more than a walking-stick, and not nearly as useful as an
assegai; but what drove this and many other thoughts from my mind in a
second was the appearance of Jock on the stage and his sudden jump into
the leading place.

In the first confusion he had passed unnoticed, probably at my heels as
usual, but the instant I answered Jim's challenge by jumping into the
water he gave one whimpering yelp of excitement and plunged in too; and
in a few seconds he had outdistanced us all and was leading straight for
the crocodile.  I shouted to him, of course in vain--he heard nothing;
and Jim and I plunged and struggled along to head the dog off.

As the crocodile came up Jock went straight for him--his eyes gleaming,
his shoulders up, his nose out, his neck stretched to the utmost in his
eagerness--and he ploughed along straining every muscle to catch up.
When the crocodile went under he slackened and looked anxiously about,
but each fresh rise was greeted by the whimpering yelps of intense
suppressed excitement as he fairly hoisted himself out of the water with
the vigour of his swimming.

The water was now breast-high for us, and we were far out in the stream,
beyond the sand spit where the crocodile had lain, when the kaffirs on
the bank got their first chance and a flight of assegais went at the
enemy as he rose.  Several struck and two remained in him; he rose again
a few yards from Jim, and that sportsman let fly one that struck well
home.  Jock, who had been toiling close behind for some time and gaining
slowly, was not five yards off then; the floundering and lashing of the
crocodile were bewildering, but on he went as grimly and eagerly as
ever.  I fired again--not more than eight yards away--but the water was
then up to my arms, and it was impossible to pick a vital part; the
brain and neck were the only spots to finish him, but one could see
nothing beyond a great upheaval of water and clouds of spray and
blood-stained foam.

The crocodile turned from the shot and dived up stream, heading straight
for Jock: the din of yelling voices stopped instantly as the huge
open-mouthed thing plunged towards the dog; and for one sick horrified
moment I stood and watched--helpless.

Had the crocodile risen in front of Jock that would have been the end--
one snap would have done it; but it passed clear underneath, and, coming
up just beyond him, the great lashing tail sent the dog up with the
column of water a couple of feet in the air.  He did as he had done when
the koodoo bull tossed him: his head was round straining to get at the
crocodile before he was able to turn his body in the water; and the
silence was broken by a yell of wild delight and approval from the bank.

Before us the water was too deep and the stream too strong to stand in;
Jim in his eagerness had gone in shoulder high, and my rifle when aimed
only just cleared the water.  The crocodile was the mark for more
assegais from the bank as it charged up stream again, with Jock tailing
behind, and it was then easy enough to follow its movements by the
shafts that were never all submerged.  The struggles became perceptibly
weaker, and as it turned again to go with the stream every effort was
concentrated on killing and landing it before it reached the rocks and

I moved back for higher ground and, finding that the bed shelved up
rapidly down stream, made for a position where there would be enough
elevation to put in a brain shot.  The water was not more than waist
high then, and as the crocodile came rolling and thrashing down I waited
for his head to show up clearly.  My right foot touched a sloping rock
which rose almost to the surface of the water close above the rapids,
and anxious to get the best possible position for a last shot, I took my
stand there.  The rock was the ordinary shelving bedrock, uptilted at an
easy angle and cut off sheer on the exposed side, and the wave in the
current would have shown this to any one not wholly occupied with other
things; but I had eyes for nothing except the crocodile which was then
less than a dozen yards off, and in my anxiety to secure a firm footing
for the shot I moved the right foot again a few inches--over the edge of
the rock.  The result was as complete a spill as if one unthinkingly
stepped backwards off a diving board: I disappeared in deep water, with
the knowledge that the crocodile would join me there in a few seconds.

One never knows how these things are done or how long they take: I was
back on the rock--without the rifle--and had the water out of my eyes in
time to see the crocodile roll helplessly by, six feet away, with Jock
behind making excited but ridiculously futile attempts to get hold of
the tail; Jim--swimming, plunging and blowing like a maddened hippo--
formed the tail of the procession, which was headed by my water-logged
hat floating heavily a yard or so in front of the crocodile.

While a crowd of yelling niggers under the generalship of Jim were
landing the crocodile, I had time to do some diving, and managed to fish
out my rifle.

My Sunday change was wasted.  But we got the old crocodile; and that was
something, after all.



On the way to Lydenburg, not many treks from Paradise Camp, we were
outspanned for the day.  Those were the settled parts; on the hills and
in the valleys about us were the widely scattered workings of the gold
diggers or the white tents of occasional prospectors.

The place was a well-known and much-frequented public outspan, and a
fair-sized wayside store marked its importance.  After breakfast we went
to the store to `swap' news with the men on the spot and a couple of
horsemen who had offsaddled there.

There were several other houses of sorts; they were rough wattle and
daub erections which were called houses, as an acknowledgment of
pretensions expressed in the rectangular shape and corrugated iron roof.
One of these belonged to Seedling, the Field Cornet and only official
in the district.  He was the petty local Justice who was supposed to
administer minor laws, collect certain revenues and taxes, and issue
passes.  The salary was nominal, but the position bristled with
opportunities for one who was not very particular; and the then occupant
of the office seemed well enough pleased with the arrangement, whatever
the public may have thought of it.

He was neither popular nor trusted: many tales of great harshness and
injustice to the natives, and of corruption and favouritism in dealing
with the whites, added to habitual drunkenness and uncertain temper,
made a formidable tally in the account against him; he was also a bully
and a coward, and all knew it; but unfortunately he was the law--as it
stood for us!

Seedling, although an official of the Boer Government, was an
Englishman; there were several of them on the goldfields in those days,
and for the most part, they were good fellows and good officials--this
one was an exception.  We all knew him personally: he was effusively
friendly; and we suffered him and--paid for the drinks.  That was in his
public capacity: in his private capacity he was the owner of the
fighting baboon of evil and cruel repute.

If ever fate's instruments moved unconscious of their mission and the
part they were to play, it is certain that Jock and Jim Makokel' did so
that day--the day that was the beginning of Seedling's fall and end.

It is not very clear how the trouble began.  We had been sitting on the
little store-counter and talking for over an hour, a group of half a
dozen, swapping off the news of the goldfields and the big world against
that from Delagoa and the Bushveld; Seedling had joined us early and, as
usual, began the morning with drinks.  We were not used to that on the
road or out hunting; indeed, we rarely took any drink, and most of us
never touched a drop except in the towns.  The transport-rider had
opportunities which might easily become temptations--the load often
consisting of liquor, easy to broach and only to be paid for at the end
of the trip; but we had always before us the lesson of the failures.
Apart from this, however, we did not take liquor, because we could not
work as well or last as long, run as fast or shoot as straight, if we
did.  And that was reason enough!

We had one round of drinks which was `called' by one of the horsemen,
and then, to return the compliment, another round called by one of us.
A few minutes later Seedling announced effusively that it was his
`shout.'  But it was only ten in the morning, and those who had taken
spirits had had enough, indeed, several had only taken a sip of the
second round in order to comply with a stupid and vicious custom; I
would not and could not attack another bottle of sour gingerbeer; and
thus Seedling's round was reduced to himself and the proprietor.  No man
however thirsty would drink alone in those days--it was taken a mark of
meanness or evidence of `soaking'--and the proprietor had to be ready at
any time to `take one for the good of the house.'

A quarter of an hour passed, and Seedling, who had said nothing since
his `shout' was declined, turned away and strolled out, with hands
thrust deep in the pockets of his riding breeches and a long heavy
sjambok dangling from one wrist.  There was silence as he moved through
the doorway, and when the square patch of sunlight on the earth floor
was again unbroken the man behind the counter remarked,--

"Too long between drinks for him!  Gone for a pull at the private

"Is that how it's going?"

"Yah! all day long.  Drinks here as long as any one'll call, but don't
do much shoutin' on his own, I tell you!  That's the first time I seen
him call for a week.  He wanted to get you chaps on the go, I reckon.
He'll be wrong all day to-day.  I know him!"

"Cost him two bob for nothing, eh!"

"Well, it ain't so much that; ye see, he reckoned you'd all shout your
turns, and drinks'd come regular; but he sees you're not on.  Twig?  I'm
not complainin' mind you--Lord no!  He don't pay any way!  It's all
`chalked up' for him, an' I got to wipe it off the slate when the next
loads comes and he collects my customs' duties.  His liquor's took him
wrong to-day--you'll see!"

We did see; and that before very long.  We had forgotten Seedling, and
were hearing all about the new finds reported from Barberton district,
when one of the waggon-boys came running into the store calling to me by
my kaffir name and shouting excitedly, "Baas, Baas! come quickly!  The
baboon has got Jock: it will kill him!"

I had known all about the vicious brute, and had often heard of
Seedling's fiendish delight in arranging fights or enticing dogs up to
attack it for the pleasure of seeing the beast kill the over-matched
dogs.  The dog had no chance at all, for the baboon remained out of
reach in his house on the pole as long as it chose, if the dog was too
big or the opening not a good one, and made its rush when it would tell
best.  But apart from this the baboon was an exceptionally big and
powerful one, and it is very doubtful if any dog could have tackled it
successfully in an open fight.  The creature was as clever as even they
can be; its enormous jaws and teeth were quite equal to the biggest
dog's, and it had the advantage of four `hands.'  Its tactics in a fight
were quite simple and most effective; with its front feet it caught the
dog by the ears or neck, holding the head so that there was no risk of
being bitten, and then gripping the body lower down with the hind feet,
it tore lumps out of the throat, breast, and stomach--pushing with all
four feet and tearing with the terrible teeth.  The poor dogs were
hopelessly out-matched.

I did not see the beginning of Jock's encounter, but the boys' stories
pieced together told everything.  It appears that when Seedling left the
store he went in to his own hut and remained there some little time; on
coming out again he strolled over to the baboon's pole about half-way
between the two houses and began teasing it, throwing pebbles at it to
see it dodge and duck behind the pole, and then flicking at it with the
sjambok, amused by its frightened and angry protests.  While he was
doing this, Jock, who had followed me to the store, strolled out again
making his way towards the waggons.  He was not interested in our talk;
he had twice been accidentally trodden on by men stepping back as he lay
stretched out on the floor behind them; and doubtless he felt that it
was no place for him: his deafness prevented him from hearing movements,
except such as caused vibration in the ground, and, poor old fellow, he
was always at a disadvantage in houses and towns.

The baboon had then taken refuge in its box on top of the pole to escape
the sjambok, and when Seedling saw Jock come out he commenced whistling
and calling softly to him.  Jock, of course, heard nothing: he may have
responded mildly to the friendly overtures conveyed by the extended hand
and patting of legs, or more probably simply took the nearest way to the
waggon where he might sleep in peace, since there was nothing else to
do.  What the boys agree on is that as Jock passed the pole Seedling
patted and held him, at the same time calling the baboon, and then gave
the dog a push which did not quite roll him over but upset his balance;
and Jock, recovering himself, naturally jumped round and faced Seedling,
standing almost directly between him and the baboon.  He could not hear
the rattle of the chain on the box and pole, and saw nothing of the
charging brute, and it was the purest accident that the dog stood a few
inches out of reach.  The baboon--chained by the neck instead of the
waist, because it used to bite through all loin straps--made its rush,
but the chain brought it up before its hands could reach Jock and threw
the hind quarters round with such force against him that he was sent
rolling yards away.

I can well believe that this second attack from a different and wholly
unexpected quarter thoroughly roused him, and can picture how he turned
to face it.

It was at this moment that Jim first noticed what was going on.  The
other boys had not expected anything when Seedling called the dog, and
they were taken completely by surprise by what followed.  Jim would have
known what to expect: his kraal was in the neighbourhood; he knew
Seedling well, and had already suffered in fines and confiscations at
his hands; he also knew about the baboon; but he was ignorant, just as I
was, of the fact that Seedling had left his old place across the river
and come to live in the new hut, bringing his pet with him.

It was the hoarse threatening shout of the baboon as it jumped at Jock,
as much as the exclamations of the boys, that roused Jim.  He knew
instantly what was on, and grabbing a stick made a dash to save the dog,
with the other boys following him.

When Jock was sent spinning in the dust the baboon recovered itself
first, and standing up on its hind legs reached out its long ungainly
arms towards him, and let out a shout of defiance.  Jock regaining his
feet dashed in, jumped aside, feinted again and again, as he had learnt
to do when big horns swished at him; and he kept out of reach just as he
had done ever since the duiker taught him the use of its hoofs.  He knew
what to do, just as he had known how to swing the porcupine: the dog--
for all the fighting fury that possessed him--took the measure of the
chain and kept outside it.  Round and round he flew, darting in, jumping
back, snapping and dodging, but never getting right home.  The baboon
was as clever as he was: at times it jumped several feet in the air,
straight up, in the hope that Jock would run underneath; at others, it
would make a sudden lunge with the long arms, or a more surprising reach
out with the hind legs to grab him.  Then the baboon began gradually to
reduce its circle, leaving behind it slack chain enough for a spring;
but Jock was not to be drawn.  In cleverness they were well-matched--
neither scored in attack; neither made or lost a point.

When Jim rushed up to save Jock, it was with eager anxious shouts of the
dog's name that warned Seedling and made him turn; and as the boy ran
forward the white man stepped out to stop him.

"Leave the dog alone!" he shouted, pale with anger.

"Baas, Baas, the dog will be killed," Jim called excitedly, as he tried
to get round; but the white man made a jump towards him, and with a
backhand slash of the sjambok struck him across the face, shouting at
him again:

"Leave him, I tell you."

Jim jumped back, thrusting out his stick to guard another vicious cut;
and so it went on with alternate slash and guard, and the big Zulu
danced round with nimble bounds, guarding, dodging, or bearing the
sjambok cuts, to save the dog.  Seedling was mad with rage; for who had
ever heard of a nigger standing up to a Field Cornet?  Still Jim would
not give way; he kept trying to get in front of Jock, to head him off
the fight, and all the while shouting to the other boys to call me.  But
Seedling was the Field Cornet, and not one of them dared to move against

At last the baboon, finding that Jock would not come on, tried other
tactics; it made a sudden retreat and, rushing for the pole, hid behind
it as for protection.  Jock made a jump and the baboon leaped out to
meet him, but the dog stopped at the chain's limit, and the baboon--just
as in the first dash of all--overshot the mark; it was brought up by the
jerk of the collar, and for one second sprawled on its back.  That was
the first chance for Jock, and he took it.  With one spring he was in;
his head shot between the baboon's hind legs, and with his teeth buried
in the soft stomach he lay back and pulled--pulled for dear life, as he
had pulled and dragged on the legs of wounded game; tugged as he had
tugged at the porcupine; held on, as he had held when the koodoo bull
wrenched and strained every bone and muscle in his body.

Then came the sudden turn!  As Jock fastened on to the baboon, dragging
the chain taut while the screaming brute struggled on its back, Seedling
stood for a second irresolute, and then with a stride forward raised his
sjambok to strike the dog.  That was too much for Jim; he made a spring
in and grasping the raised sjambok with his left hand held Seedling
powerless, while in his right the boy raised his stick on guard.

"Let him fight, Baas!  You said it!  Let the dog fight!" he panted,
hoarse with excitement.

The white man, livid with fury, struggled and kicked, but the wrist loop
of his sjambok held him prisoner and he could do nothing.

That was the moment when a panic-stricken boy plucked up courage enough
to call me; and that was the scene we saw as we ran out of the little
shop.  Jim would not strike the white man: but his face was a muddy
grey, and it was written there that he would rather die than give up the

Before I reached them it was clear to us all what had happened; Jim was
protesting to Seedling and at the same time calling to me; it was a
jumble, but a jumble eloquent enough for us, and all intelligible.
Jim's excited gabble was addressed with reckless incoherence to
Seedling, to me, and to Jock!

"You threw him in; you tried to kill him.  He did it.  It was not the
dog.  Kill him, Jock, kill him.  Leave him, let him fight.  You said
it--Let him fight!  Kill him, Jock!  Kill!  Kill!  Kill!"

Then Seedling did the worst thing possible; he turned on me with,--

"Call off your dog, I tell you, or I'll shoot him and your nigger too!"

"We'll see about that!  They can fight it out now," and I took the
sjambok from Jim's hand and cut it from the white man's wrist.  "Now!
Stand back!"  And he stood back.

The baboon was quite helpless.  Powerful as the brute was, and
formidable as were the arms and gripping feet, it had no chance while
Jock could keep his feet and had strength to drag and hold the chain
tight.  The collar was choking it, and the grip on the stomach--the
baboon's own favourite and most successful device--was fatal.

I set my teeth, and thought of the poor helpless dogs that had been
decoyed in and treated the same way.  Jim danced about, the white seam
of froth on his lips, hoarse gusts of encouragement bursting from him as
he leant over Jock, and his whole body vibrating like an over-heated
boiler.  And Jock hung on in grim earnest, the silence on his side
broken only by grunting efforts as the deadly tug--tug--tug went on.
Each pull caused his feet to slip a little on the smooth worn ground;
but each time he set them back again, and the grunting tugs went on.


It was not justice to call Jock off; but I did it.  The cruel brute
deserved killing, but the human look and cries and behaviour of the
baboon were too sickening; and Seedling went into his hut without even a
look at his stricken champion.

Jock stood off, with his mouth open from ear to ear and his red tongue
dangling, blood-stained and panting, but with eager feet ever on the
move shifting from spot to spot, ears going back and forward, and eyes--
now on the baboon and now on me--pleading for the sign to go in again.

Before evening the baboon was dead.


The day's excitement was too much for Jim.  After singing and dancing
himself into a frenzy round Jock, after shouting the whole story of the
fight in violent and incessant gabble over and over again to those who
had witnessed it, after making every ear ring and every head swim with
his mad din, he grabbed his sticks once more and made off for one of the
kraals, there to find drink for which he thirsted body and soul.

In the afternoon the sudden scattering of the inhabitants of a small
kraal on the hillside opposite, and some lusty shouting, drew attention
that way.  At distances of from two to five hundred yards from the huts
there stood figures, singly or grouped in twos and threes, up to the
highest slopes; they formed a sort of crescent above the kraal; and on
the lower side of it, hiding under the bank of the river, were a dozen
or more whose heads only were visible.  They were all looking towards
the kraal like a startled herd of buck.  Now and then a burly figure
would dart out from the huts with wild bounds and blood-curdling yells,
and the watchers on that side would scatter like chaff and flee for dear
life up the mountain side or duck instantly and disappear in the river.
Then he would stalk back again and disappear, to repeat the performance
on another side a little later on.

It was all painfully clear to me.  Jim had broken out.

We were loaded for Lydenburg--another week's trekking through and over
the mountains--and as we intended coming back the same way a fortnight
later I decided at once to leave Jim at his kraal, which was only a
little further on, and pick him up on the return journey.

I nearly always paid him off in live stock or sheep: he had good wages,
and for many months at a time would draw no money; the boy was a
splendid worker and as true as steel; so that, in spite of all the awful
worry I had a soft spot for Jim and had taken a good deal of trouble on
his account.  He got his pay at the end of the trip or the season, but
not in cash.  It was invested for him--greatly to his disgust at the
time, I am bound to say--in live stock, so that he would not be able to
squander it in drink or be robbed of it while incapable.

Jim's gloomy dignity was colossal when it came to squaring up and I
invited him to state what he wished me to buy for him.  To be treated
like an irresponsible child; to be chaffed and cheerfully warned by me;
to be met by the giggles and squirts of laughter of the other boys, for
whom he had the most profound contempt; to see the respectable Sam
counting out with awkward eager hands and gleaming eyes the good red
gold, while he, Makokela the Zulu, was treated like a piccanin--Ugh!  It
was horrible!  Intolerable!

Jim would hold aloof in injured gloomy silence, not once looking at me,
but standing sideways and staring stonily past me into the far distance,
and not relaxing for a second the expression of profound displeasure on
his weather-beaten face.  No joke or chaff, no question or reason, would
move him to even look my way.  All he would do was, now and again, give
a click of disgust, a quick shake of the head, and say: "Aug!
Ang-a-funa!"  ("I do not desire it!")

We had the same fight over and over again, but I always won in the end.
Once, when he would not make up his mind what to buy, I offered him
instead of cash two of the worst oxen in his span at the highest
possible valuation, and the effect was excellent; but the usual lever
was to announce that if he could not make his choice and bargain for
himself I would do it for him.  In the end he invariably gave way and
bargained with his kaffir friends for a deal, venting on them by his
hard driving and brow-beating some of the accumulated indignation which
ought to have gone elsewhere.

When it was all over Jim recovered rapidly, and at parting time there
was the broadest of grins and a stentorian shout of "Hlala Kahle!
Inkos!" and Jim went off with his springy walk, swinging his sticks and
jabbering his thoughts aloud, evidently about me, for every now and
again he would spring lightly into the air, twirl the stick, and shout a
deep throated "Inkos!" full of the joy of living.  A boy going home for
his holiday!

This time Jim was too fully wound up to be dealt with as before, and I
simply turned him off, telling him to come to the camp in a fortnight's


I was a day behind the waggons returning, and riding up to the camp
towards midday found Jim waiting for me.  He looked ill and shrunken,
wrapped in an old coat and squatting against the wall of the little hut.
As I passed he rose slowly and gave his "Sakubona!  Inkos!" with that
curious controlled air by which the kaffir manages to suggest a kind of
fatalist resignation or indifference touched with disgust.  There was
something wrong; so I rode past without stopping--one learns from them
to find out how the land lies before doing anything.

It was a bad story, almost as bad as one would think possible where
civilised beings are concerned.  Jim's own story lacked certain details
of which he was necessarily ignorant, it also omitted the fact that had
been drunk; but in the main it was quite true.

This is what happened, as gleaned from several sources: several days
after our departure Jim went down to the store again and raised some
liquor; he was not fighting, but he was noisy, and was the centre of a
small knot of shouting, arguing boys near the store when Seedling
returned after a two days' absence.  No doubt it was unfortunate that
the very first thing he saw on his return was the boy who had defied him
and who was the cause of his humiliation; and that that boy should by
his behaviour give the slenderest excuse for interference was in the
last degree unlucky.  Seedling's mind was made up from the moment he set
eyes on Jim.  Throwing the reins over his horse's head he walked into
the excited gabbling knot, all unconscious of his advent, and laid about
him with the sjambok, scattering and silencing them instantly; he then
took Jim by the wrist saying, "I want you"; he called to one of his own
boys to bring a reim, and leading Jim over to the side of the store tied
him up to the horse rail with arms at full stretch.  Taking out his
knife he cut the boy's clothing down the back so that it fell away in
two halves in front of him; then he took off his own coat and flogged
the boy with his sjambok.

I would like to tell all that happened for one reason: it would explain
the murderous man-hunting feeling that possessed us when we heard it!
But it was too cruel: let it be!  Only one thing to show the spirit:
twice during the flogging Seedling stopped to go into the store for a

Jim crawled home to find his kraal ransacked and deserted, and his wives
and children driven off in panic.  In addition to the flogging Seedling
had, in accordance with his practice, imposed fines far beyond the boy's
means in cash, so as to provide an excuse for seizing what he wanted.
The police boys had raided the kraal; and the cattle and goats--his only
property--were gone.

He told it all in a dull monotone: for the time the life and fire were
gone out of him; but he was not cowed, not broken.  There was a curl of
contempt on his mouth and in his tone that whipped the white skin on my
own back and made it all a disgrace unbearable.  That this should be the
reward for his courageous defence of Jock seemed too awful.  We went
inside to talk it over and make our plans.  The waggons should go on
next day as if nothing had happened, Jim remaining in one of the half
tents or elsewhere out of sight of passers-by.  I was to ride into
Lydenburg and lodge information--for in such a case the authorities
would surely act.  That was the best, or at any rate the first, course
to be tried.

There was no difficulty about the warrant, for there were many counts in
the indictment against Seedling; but even so worthless a brute as that
seemed to have one friend, or perhaps an accomplice, to give him
warning, and before we reached his quarters with the police he had
cleared on horseback for Portuguese territory, taking with him a led

We got most of Jim's cattle back for him--which he seemed to consider
the main thing--but we were sorely disgusted at the man's escape.

That was the year of the `rush.'  Thousands of new-comers poured into
the country on the strength of the gold discoveries; materials and
provisions of all kinds were almost unprocurable and stood at famine
prices; and consequently we--the transport-riders--reaped a golden
harvest.  Never had there been such times; waggons and spans were paid
for in single trips; and so great was the demand for supplies that some
refused transport and bought their own goods, which they re-sold on the
goldfields at prices twice as profitable as the highest rates of

Thus the days lost in the attempt to catch Seedling were valuable days.
The season was limited, and as early rains might cut us off, a few days
thrown away might mean the loss of a whole trip.  We hurried down,
therefore, for the Bay, doing little hunting that time.

Near the Crocodile on our way down we heard from men coming up that
Seedling had been there some days before but that, hearing we were on
the way down and had sworn to shoot him, he had ridden on to Komati,
leaving one horse behind bad with horse-sickness.  The report about
shooting him was, of course, ridiculous--probably his own imagination--
but it was some comfort to know that he was in such a state of terror
that his own fancies were hunting him down.

At Komati we learned that he had stayed three days at the store of that
Goanese murderer, Antonio--the same Antonio who on one occasion had
tried to drug and hand over to the enemy two of our men who had got into
trouble defending themselves against raiding natives; the same Antonio
who afterwards made an ill-judged attempt to stab one Mickey O'Connor in
a Barberton canteen and happily got brained with a bottle of his own
doctored spirit for his pains.

Antonio suspecting something wrong about a white man who came on
horseback and dawdled aimlessly three days at Komati Drift, going
indoors whenever a stranger appeared, wormed the secret out with liquor
and sympathy; and when he had got most of Seedling's money out of him,
by pretence of bribing the Portuguese officials and getting news, made a
bold bid for the rest by saying that a warrant was out for him in
Delagoa and he must on no account go on.  The evil-looking half-caste no
doubt hoped to get the horse saddle and bridle, as well as the cash, and
was quite prepared to drug Seedling when the time came, and slip him
quietly into the Komati at night where the crocodiles would take care of
the evidence.

Antonio, however, overshot the mark; Seedling who knew all about him,
took fright, saddled up and bolted up the river meaning to make for the
Lebombo, near the Tembe Drift, where Bob McNab and his merry comrades
ran free of Governments and were a law unto themselves.  It was no place
for a nervous man, but Seedling had no choice, and he went on.  He had
liquor in his saddle bags and food for several days; but he was not used
to the bush, and at the end of the first day he had lost his way and was
beyond the river district where the kaffirs lived.

So much is believed, though not positively known; at any rate he left
the last kraal in those parts about noon, and was next heard of two days
later at a kraal under the Lebombo.  There he learnt that the Black
Umbelusi, which it would be necessary to swim--as Snowball and Tsetse
had done--lay before him, and that it was yet a great distance to
Sebougwaans, and even then he would be only half-way to Bob's.  Seedling
could not face it alone, and turned back for the nearest store.

The natives said that before leaving the kraal he bought beer from them,
but did not want food; for he looked sick; he was red and swollen in the
face; and his eyes were wild; the horse was weak and also looked sick,
being very thin and empty; but they showed him the footpath over the
hills which would take him to Tom's--a white man's store on the road to
Delagoa--and he left them!  That was Tom Barnett's at Piscene, where we
always stopped; for Tom was a good friend of ours.

That was how we came to meet Seedling again.  He had made a loop of a
hundred and fifty miles in four days in his efforts to avoid us; but he
was waiting for us when we arrived at Tom Barnett's.  We who had hurried
on to catch him, believing that the vengeance of justice depended on us,
forgot that it has been otherwise decreed.

Tom stood in the doorway of his store as we walked up--five feet one in
his boots, but every inch of it a man--with his hands resting idly on
his hips and a queer smile on his face as he nodded welcome.

"Did a white man come here on horseback during the last few days from
the Drift?"


"On foot?"

"No, not the whole way."

"Is he here now?"  Tom nodded.

"You know about him, Tom?"

"Seedling! the chap you're after, isn't it?"

"Yes," we answered, lowering our voices.  Tom looked from one to the
other with the same queer smile, and then making a move to let us into
the store said quietly: "He won't clear, boys; he's dead!"  Some kaffirs
coming along the footpath from the 'Bombo had found the horse dead of
horse-sickness half a day away, and further on--only a mile or so from
the store--the rider lying on his back in the sun, dying of thirst.  He
died before they got him in.  He was buried under a big fig tree where
another and more honoured grave was made later on.


Jim sat by himself the whole evening and never spoke a word.



It was Pettigrew's Road that brought home to me, and to others, the
wisdom of the old transport-riders' maxim: `Take no risks.'  We all knew
that there were `fly' belts on the old main road but we rushed these at
night, for we knew enough of the tsetse fly to avoid it; however the
discovery of the new road to Barberton, a short cut with plenty of water
and grass, which offered the chance of working an extra trip into the
short Delagoa season, tempted me, among others, to take a risk.  We had
seen no `fly' when riding through to spy out the land, and again on the
trip down with empty waggons all had seemed to be well; but I had good
reason afterwards to recall that hurried trip down and the night spent
at Low's Creek.  It was a lovely moonlight night, cool and still, and
the grass was splendid; after many weeks of poor feeding and drought the
cattle revelled in the land of plenty.  We had timed our treks so as to
get through the suspected parts of the road at night, believing that the
fly did not trouble after dark, and thus we were that night outspanned
in the worst spot of all--a tropical garden of clear streams,
tree-ferns, foliage plants, mosses, maidenhair, and sweet grass!  I
moved among the cattle myself, watching them feed greedily and waiting
to see them satisfied before inspanning again to trek through the night
to some higher and more open ground.  I noticed then that their tails
were rather busy.  At first it seemed the usual accompaniment of a good
feed, an expression of satisfaction; after a while, however, the
swishing became too vigorous for this, and when heads began to swing
round and legs also were made use of, it seemed clear that something was
worrying them.  The older hands were so positive that at night cattle
were safe from fly, that it did not even then occur to me to suspect
anything seriously wrong.  Weeks passed by, and although the cattle
became poorer, it was reasonable enough to put it down to the
exceptional drought.

It was late in the season when we loaded up for the last time in Delagoa
and ploughed our way through the Matolla swamp and the heavy sands at
Piscene; but late as it was, there was no sign of rain, and the rain
that we usually wanted to avoid would have been very welcome then.  The
roads were all blistering stones or powdery dust, and it was cruel work
for man and beast.  The heat was intense, and there was no breeze; the
dust moved along slowly apace with us in a dense cloud--men, waggons,
and animals, all toned to the same hue; and the poor oxen toiling slowly
along drew in the finely-powdered stuff at every breath.  At the outspan
they stood about exhausted and panting, with rings and lines of brown
marking where the moisture from nostrils, eyes and mouths had caught the
dust and turned it into mud.  At Matolla Poort, where the Lebombo Range
runs low, where the polished black rocks shone like anvils, where the
stones and baked earth scorched the feet of man and beast to aching, the
world was like an oven; the heat came from above, below, around--a
thousand glistening surfaces flashing back with intensity the sun's
fierce rays.  And there, at Matolla Poort, the big pool had given out!

Our standby was gone!  There, in the deep cleft in the rocks where the
feeding spring, cool and constant, had trickled down a smooth black rock
beneath another overhanging slab, and where ferns and mosses had
clustered in one little spot in all the miles of blistering rocks, there
was nothing left but mud and slime.  The water was as green and thick as
pea-soup; filth of all kinds lay in it and on it; half a dozen rotting
carcases stuck in the mud round the one small wet spot where the pool
had been--just where they fell and died; the coat had dropped away from
some, and mats of hair, black-brown and white, helped to thicken the
green water.  But we drank it.  Sinking a handkerchief where the water
looked thinnest and making a little well into which the moisture slowly
filtered, we drank it greedily.

The next water on the road was Komati River, but the cattle were too
weak to reach it in one trek, and remembering another pool off the
road--a small lagoon found by accident when out hunting the year
before--we moved on that night out on to the flats and made through the
bush for several miles to look for water and grass.

We found the place just after dawn.  There was a string of half a dozen
pools ringed with yellow-plumed reeds--like a bracelet of sapphires set
in gold--deep deep pools of beautiful water in the midst of acres and
acres of rich buffalo grass.  It was too incredibly good!

I was trekking alone that trip, the only white man there, and--tired out
by the all-night's work, the long ride, and the searching in the bush
for the lagoon--I had gone to sleep after seeing the cattle to the water
and grass.  Before midday I was back among them again; some odd
movements struck a chord of memory, and the night at Low's Creek flashed
back.  Tails were swishing freely, and the bullock nearest me kicked up
sharply at its side and swung its head round to brush something away.  I
moved closer up to see what was causing the trouble: in a few minutes I
heard a thin sing of wings, different from a mosquito's, and there
settled on my shirt a grey fly, very like and not much larger than a
common house-fly, whose wings folded over like a pair of scissors.  That
was the "mark of the beast."  I knew then why this oasis had been left
by transport-rider and trekker, as nature made it, untrodden and

Not a moment was lost in getting away from the `fly.'  But the mischief
was already done; the cattle must have been bitten at Low's Creek weeks
before, and again that morning during the time I slept; and it was clear
that, not drought and poverty, but `fly' was the cause of their
weakness.  After the first rains they would begin to die, and the right
thing to do, now was to press on as fast as possible and deliver the
loads.  Barberton was booming and short of supplies and the rates were
the highest ever paid; but I had done better still, having bought my own
goods, and the certain profit looked a fortune to me.  Even if all the
cattle became unfit for use or died, the loads would pay for everything
and the right course therefore was to press on; for delay would mean
losing both cattle and loads--all I had in the world--and starting again
penniless with the years of hard work thrown away.

So the last hard struggle began.  And it was work and puzzle day and
night, without peace or rest; trying to nurse the cattle in their daily
failing strength, and yet to push them for all they could do; watching
the sky cloud over every afternoon, promising rain that never came, and
not knowing whether to call it promise or threat; for although rain
would bring grass and water to save the cattle, it also meant death to
the fly-bitten.

We crossed the Komati with three spans--forty-four oxen--to a waggon,
for the drift was deep in two places and the weakened cattle could not
keep their feet.  It was a hard day, and by nightfall it was easy to
pick out the oxen who would not last out a week.  That night Zole lay
down and did not get up again--Zole the little fat schoolboy, always out
of breath, always good-tempered and quiet, as tame as a pet dog.

He was only the first to go; day by day others followed.  Some were only
cattle: others were old friends and comrades on many a trek.  The two
big after-oxen Achmoed and Bakir went down early; the Komati Drift had
over-tried them, and the weight and jolting of the heavy disselboom on
the bad roads finished them off.  These were the two inseparables who
worked and grazed, walked and slept, side by side--never more than a few
yards apart day or night since the day they became yoke-fellows.  They
died on consecutive days.

But the living wonder of that last trek was still old Zwaartland the
front ox!  With his steady sober air, perfect understanding of his work,
and firm clean buck-like tread, he still led the front span.  Before we
reached the Crocodile his mate gave in--worn to death by the ebbing of
his own strength and by the steady indomitable courage of his comrade.
Old Zwaartland pulled on; but my heart sank as I looked at him and noted
the slightly `staring' coat, the falling flanks, the tread less sure and
brisk, and a look in his eyes that made me think he knew what was coming
but would do his best.

The gallant-hearted old fellow held on.  One after another we tried with
him in the lead, half a dozen or more; but he wore them all down.  In
the dongas and spruits, where the crossings were often very bad and
steep, the waggons would stick for hours, and the wear and strain on the
exhausted cattle was killing: it was bad enough for the man who drove
them.  To see old Zwaartland then holding his ground, never for one
moment turning or wavering while the others backed jibbed and swayed and
dragged him staggering backwards, made one's heart ache.  The end was
sure: flesh and blood will not last for ever; the stoutest heart can be

The worst of it was that with all the work and strain we accomplished
less than we used to do before in a quarter of the time.  Distances
formerly covered in one trek took three, four, and even five now.
Water, never too plentiful in certain parts, was sadly diminished by the
drought, and it sometimes took us three or even four treks to get from
water to water.  Thus we had at times to drive the oxen back to the last
place or on to the next one for their drinks, and by the time the poor
beasts got back to the waggons to begin their trek they had done nearly
as much as they were able to do.

And trouble begot trouble, as usual!  Sam the respectable, who had drawn
all his pay in Delagoa, gave up after one hard day and deserted me.  He
said that the hand of the Lord had smitten me and mine, and great
misfortune would come to all; so he left in the dark at Crocodile Drift,
taking one of the leaders with him, and joined some waggons making for
Lydenburg.  The work was too hard for him; it was late in the season; he
feared the rains and fever; and he had no pluck or loyalty, and cared
for no one but himself.

I was left with three leaders and two drivers to manage four waggons.
It was Jim who told me of Sam's desertion.  He had the cross, defiant,
pre-occupied look of old; but there was also something of satisfaction
in his air as he walked up to me and stood to deliver the great
vindication of his own unerring judgment:

"Sam has deserted you and taken his voorlooper."  He jerked the words
out at me, speaking in Zulu.

I said nothing.  It was just about Sam's form; it annoyed but did not
surprise me.  Jim favoured me with a hard searching look, a subdued
grunt, and a click expressive of things he could not put into words, and
without another word he turned and walked back towards his waggon.  But
half-way to it he broke silence: facing me once more, he thumped his
chest and hurled at me in mixed Zulu and English: "I said so!  Sam lead
a Bible.  Sam no good.  Umph!  M'Shangaan!  I said so!  I always said

When Jim helped me to inspan Sam's waggon, he did it to an accompaniment
of Zulu imprecations which only a Zulu could properly appreciate.  They
were quite `above my head,' but every now and then I caught one sentence
repeated like the responses in a litany: "I'll kill that Shangaan when I
see him again!"

At Lion Spruit there was more bad luck.  Lions had been troublesome
there in former years, but for a couple of seasons nothing had been seen
of them.  Their return was probably due to the fact that, because of the
drought and consequent failure of other waters, the game on which they
preyed had moved down towards the river.  At any rate, they returned
unexpectedly and we had one bad night when the cattle were unmanageable,
and their nerves all on edge.  The herd boys had seen spoor in the
afternoon; at dusk we heard the distant roaring, and later on, the
nearer and more ominous grunting.  I fastened Jock up in the tent-waggon
lest the sight of him should prove too tempting; he was bristling like a
hedgehog and constantly working out beyond the cattle, glaring and
growling incessantly towards the bush.  We had four big fires at the
four corners of the outspan, and no doubt this saved a bad stampede, for
in the morning we found a circle of spoor where the lions had walked
round and round the outspan.  There were scores of footprints--the
tracks of at least four or five animals.

In the Bushveld the oxen were invariably tied up at night, picketed to
the trek-chain, each pair at its yoke ready to be inspanned for the
early morning trek.  Ordinarily the weight of the chain and yokes was
sufficient to keep them in place, but when there were lions about, and
the cattle liable to be scared and all to sway off together in the same
direction, we took the extra precaution of pegging down the chain and
anchoring the front yoke to a tree or stake.  We had a lot of trouble
that night, as one of the lions persistently took his stand to windward
of the cattle to scare them with his scent.  We knew well enough when he
was there, although unable to see anything, as all the oxen would face
up wind, staring with bulging eyeballs in that direction and braced up
tense with excitement.  If one of them made a sudden move, the whole lot
jumped in response and swayed off down wind away from the danger,
dragging the gear with them and straining until the heavy waggons
yielded to the tug.  We had to run out and then drive them up again to
stay the stampede.  It is a favourite device of lions, when tackling
camps and outspans, for one of them to go to windward so that the
terrified animals on winding him may stampede in the opposite direction
where the other lions are lying in wait.

Two oxen broke away that night and were never seen again.  Once I saw a
low light-coloured form steal across the road, and took a shot at it;
but rifle-shooting at night is a gamble, and there was no sign of a hit.

I was too short-handed and too pressed for time to make a real try for
the lions next day, and after a morning spent in fruitless search for
the lost bullocks we went on again.

Instead of fifteen to eighteen miles a day, as we should have done, we
were then making between four and eight--and sometimes not one.  The
heat and the drought were awful; but at last we reached the Crocodile
and struck up the right bank for the short cut--Pettigrew's Road--to
Barberton, and there we had good water and some pickings of grass and
young reeds along the river bank.

The clouds piled up every afternoon; the air grew still and sultry; the
thunder growled and rumbled; a few drops of rain pitted the dusty road
and pattered on the dry leaves; and that was all.  Anything seemed
preferable to the intolerable heat and dust and drought, and each day I
hoped the rain would come, cost what it might to the fly-bitten cattle;
but the days dragged on, and still the rain held off.

Then came one black day as we crawled slowly along the river bank, which
is not to be forgotten.  In one of the cross-spruits cutting sharply
down to the river the second waggon stuck: the poor tired-out cattle
were too weak and dispirited to pull it out.  Being short of drivers and
leaders it was necessary to do the work in turns, that is, after getting
one waggon through a bad place, to go back for another.  We had to
double-span this waggon, taking the span from the front waggon back to
hook on in front of the other; and on this occasion I led the span while
Jim drove.  We were all tired out by the work and heat, and I lay down
in the dusty road in front of the oxen to rest while the chains were
being coupled up.  I looked up into old Zwaartland's eyes, deep, placid,
constant, dark grey eyes--the ox-eyes of which so many speak and write
and so few really know.  There was trouble in them; he looked anxious
and hunted; and it made me heart-sick to see it.

When the pull came, the back span, already disheartened and out of hand,
swayed and turned every way, straining the front oxen to the utmost; yet
Zwaartland took the strain and pulled.  For a few moments both front
oxen stood firm; then his mate cut it and turned; the team swung away
with a rush, and the old fellow was jerked backwards and rolled over on
his side.  He struggled gamely, but it was some minutes before he could
rise; and then his eye looked wilder and more despairing; his legs were
planted apart to balance him, and his flanks were Jim straightened up
the double-span again.  Zwaartland leaned forward once more, and the
others followed his lead; the waggon moved a little and they managed to
pull it out.  But I, walking in front, felt the brave old fellow
stagger, and saw him, with head lowered, plod blindly like one stricken
to death.

We outspanned on the rise, and I told Jim to leave the reim on
Zwaartland's head.  Many a good turn from him deserved one more from
me--the last.  I sent Jim for the rifle, and led the old front ox to the
edge of the donga where a bleached tree lay across it...  He dropped
into the donga under the dead tree; and I packed the dry branches over
him and set fire to the pile.  It looks absurd now; but to leave him to
the wolf and the jackal seemed like going back on a friend; and the
queer looks of the boys, and what they would think of me, were easier to
bear.  Jim watched, but said nothing: with a single grunt and a shrug of
his shoulders he stalked back to the waggons.

The talk that night at the boys' fire went on in low-pitched tones--not
a single word audible to me; but I knew what it was about.  As Jim stood
up to get his blanket off the waggon, he stretched himself and closed
off the evening's talk with his Zulu click and the remark that "All
white men are mad, in some way."

So we crawled on until we reached the turn where the road turned between
the mountain range and the river and where the railway runs to-day.
There, where afterwards Cassidy did his work, we outspanned one day when
the heat became so great that it was no longer possible to go on.  For
weeks the storm-clouds had gathered, threatened, and dispersed; thunder
had come half-heartedly, little spots of rain enough to pock-mark the
dust; but there had been no break in the drought.

It was past noon that day when everything grew still; the birds and
insects hushed their sound; the dry leaves did not give a whisper.
There was the warning in the air that one knows but cannot explain; and
it struck me and the boys together that it was time to spread and tie
down the buck-sails which we had not unfolded for months.

While we were busy at this there came an unheralded flash and crash;
then a few drops as big as florins; and then the flood-gates were opened
and the reservoir of the long months of drought was turned loose on us.
Crouching under the waggon where I had crept to lash down the sail, I
looked out at the deluge, hesitating whether to make a dash for my
tent-waggon or remain there.

All along the surface of the earth there lay for a minute or so a
two-feet screen of mingled dust and splash: long spikes of rain drove
down and dashed into spray, each bursting its little column of dust from
the powdery earth.  There was an indescribable and unforgettable
progression in sounds and smells and sights--a growth and change--rapid
yet steady, inevitable, breathless, overwhelming.  Little enough could
one realise in those first few minutes and in the few square yards
around; yet there are details, unnoticed at the time, which come back
quite vividly when the bewildering rush is over, and there are
impressions which it is not possible to forget.

There were the sounds and the smells and the sights!  The sounds that
began with the sudden crash of thunder; the dead silence that followed
it; the first great drops that fell with such pats on the dust; then
more and faster--yet still so big and separate as to make one look round
to see where they fell; the sound on the waggon-sail--at first as of
bouncing marbles, then the `devil's tattoo,' and then the roar!

And outside there was the muffled puff and patter in the dust; the
rustle as the drops struck dead leaves and grass and sticks; the blend
of many notes that made one great sound, always growing, changing and
moving on--full of weird significance--until there came the steady swish
and hiss of water upon water, when the earth had ceased to stand up
against the rain and was swamped.  But even that did not last; for then
the fallen rain raised its voice against the rest, and little sounds of
trickling scurrying waters came to tone the ceaseless hiss, and grew and
grew until from every side the chorus of rushing tumbling waters filled
the air with the steady roar of the flood.

And the smells!  The smell of the baked drought-bound earth; the faint
clearing and purifying by the first few drops; the mingled dust and
damp; the rinsed air; the clean sense of water, water everywhere; and in
the end the bracing sensation in nostrils and head, of, not wind
exactly, but of swirling air thrust out to make room for the falling
rain; and, when all was over, the sense of glorious clarified air and
scoured earth--the smell of a new-washed world!

And the things that one saw went with the rest, marking the stages of
the storm's short vivid life.  The first puffs of dust, where drops
struck like bullets; the cloud that rose to meet them; the drops
themselves that streaked slanting down like a flight of steel ramrods;
the dust dissolved in a dado of splash.  I had seen the yellow-brown
ground change colour; in a few seconds it was damp; then mud; then all
asheen.  A minute more, and busy little trickles started everywhere--
tiny things a few inches long; and while one watched them they joined
and merged, hurrying on with twist and turn, but ever onward to a given
point--to meet like the veins in a leaf.  Each tuft of grass became a
fountain-head: each space between, a little rivulet: swelling rapidly,
racing away with its burden of leaf and twig and dust and foam until in
a few minutes all were lost in one sheet of moving water.

Crouching under the waggon I watched it and saw the little streamlets,
dirty and debris-laden, steal slowly on like sluggard snakes down to my
feet, and winding round me, meet beyond and hasten on.  Soon the
grass-tufts and higher spots were wet; and as the water rose on my boots
and the splash beat up to my knees, it seemed worth while making for the
tent of the waggon.  But in there the roar was deafening; the rain beat
down with such force that it drove through the canvas-covered
waggon-tent and greased buck-sail in fine mist.  In there it was black
dark, the tarpaulin covering all, and I slipped out again back to my
place under the waggon to watch the storm.

We were on high ground which fell gently away on three sides--a long
spur running down to the river between two of the numberless small
watercourses scoring the flanks of the hills.  Mere gutters they were,
easy corrugations in the slope from the range to the river,
insignificant drains in which no water ever ran except during the heavy
rains.  One would walk through scores of them with easy swinging stride
and never notice their existence.  Yet, when the half-hour's storm was
over and it was possible to get out and look round, they were rushing
boiling torrents, twenty to thirty feet across and six to ten feet deep,
foaming and plunging towards the river, red with the soil of the
stripped earth, and laden with leaves, grass, sticks, and branches--
water-furies, wild and ungovernable, against which neither man nor beast
could stand for a moment.

When the rain ceased the air was full of the roar of waters, growing
louder and nearer all the time.  I walked down the long low spur to look
at the river, expecting much, and was grievously disappointed.  It was
no fuller and not much changed.  On either side of me the once dry
dongas emptied their soil-stained and debris-laden contents in foaming
cataracts, each deepening the yellowy red of the river at its banks; but
out in mid-stream the river was undisturbed, and its normal colour--the
clear yellow of some ambers--was unchanged.  How small the great storm
seemed then!  How puny the flooded creeks and dongas--yet each master of
man and his work!  How many of them are needed to make a real flood!

There are few things more deceptive than the tropical storm.  To one
caught in it, all the world seems deluged and overwhelmed; yet a mile
away it may be all peace and sunshine.  I looked at the river and
laughed at myself!  The revelation seemed complete; it was humiliating;
one felt so small.  Still, the drought was broken; the rains had come;
and in spite of disappointment I stayed to watch, drawn by the scores of
little things caught up and carried by--the first harvest garnered by
the rains.

A quarter of an hour or more may have been spent thus, when amid all the
chorus of the rushing waters there stole in a duller murmur.  Murmur it
was at first, but it grew steadily into a low-toned, monotoned, distant
roar; and it caught and held one like the roar of coming hail or
hurricane.  It was the river coming down.

The sun was out again, and in the straight reach above the bend there
was every chance to watch the flood from the bank where I stood.  It
seemed strangely long in coming, but come it did at last, in waves like
the half-spent breakers on a sandy beach--a slope of foam and broken
waters in the van, an ugly wall with spray-tipped feathered crest
behind, and tier on tier to follow.  Heavens, what a scene!  The force
of waters, and the utter hopeless puniness of man!  The racing waves,
each dashing for the foremost place, only to force the further on; the
tall reeds caught waist high and then laid low, their silvery tops
dipped, hidden, and drowned in the flood; the trees yielding, and the
branches snapping like matches and twirling like feathers down the
stream; the rumbling thunder of big boulders loosed and tumbled, rolled
like marbles on the rocks below; whole trees brought down, and turning
helplessly in the flood--drowned giants with their branches swinging
slowly over like nerveless arms.  It was tremendous; and one had to stay
and watch.

Then the waves ceased; and behind the opposite bank another stream began
to make its way, winding like a huge snake, spreading wider as it went
across the flats beyond, until the two rejoined and the river became one
again.  The roar of waters gradually lessened; the two cataracts beside
me were silent; and looking down I saw that the fall was gone and that
water ran to water--swift as ever, but voiceless now--and was lost in
the river itself.  Inch by inch the water rose towards my feet; tufts of
grass trembled, wavered, and went down; little wavelets flipped and
licked like tongues against the remaining bank of soft earth below me;
piece after piece of it leant gently forward, and toppled headlong in
the eager creeping tide; deltas of yellow scum-flecked water worked
silently up the dongas, reaching out with stealthy feelers to enclose
the place where I was standing; and then it was time to go!

The cattle had turned their tails to the storm, and stood it out.  They
too were washed clean and looked fresher and brighter; but there was
nothing in that!  Two of them had been seen by the boys moving slowly,
foot by foot, before the driving rain down the slope from the outspan,
stung by the heavy drops and yielding in their weakness to the easy
gradient.  Only fifty yards away they should have stopped in the
hollow--the shallow dry donga of the morning; but they were gone!
Unwilling to turn back and face the rain, they had no doubt been caught
in the rush of storm-water and swirled away, and their bodies were
bobbing in the Crocodile many miles below by the time we missed them.

In a couple of hours the water had run off; the flooded dongas were
almost dry again; and we moved on.

It was then that the real `rot' set in.  Next morning there were half a
dozen oxen unable to stand up; and so again the following day.  It was
no longer possible to take the four waggons; all the spare cattle had
been used up and it was better to face the worst at once; so I
distributed the best of the load on the other three waggons and
abandoned the rest of it with the fourth waggon in the bush.  But day by
day the oxen dropped out, and when we reached the Junction and branched
up the Kaap, there were not enough left for three waggons.

This time it meant abandoning both waggon and load; and I gave the
cattle a day's rest then, hoping that they would pick up strength on
good grass to face the eight drifts that lay between us and Barberton.



We had not touched fresh meat for many days, as there had been no time
for shooting; but I knew that game was plentiful across the river in the
rough country between the Kaap and Crocodile, and I started off to make
the best of the day's delay, little dreaming that it was to be the last
time Jock and I would hunt together.

Weeks had passed without a hunt, and Jock must have thought there was a
sad falling away on the part of his master; he no longer expected
anything; the rifle was never taken down now except for an odd shot from
the outspan or to put some poor animal out of its misery.  Since the
night with the lions, when he had been ignominiously cooped up, there
had been nothing to stir his blood and make life worth living; and this
morning as he saw me rise from breakfast and proceed to potter about the
waggons in the way he had come to regard as inevitable, he looked on
indifferently for a few minutes and then stretched out full length in
the sun and went to sleep.

I could not take him with me across the river, as the `fly' was said to
be bad there, and it was no place to risk horse or dog.  The best of
prospects would not have tempted me to take chance with him, but I hated
ordering him to stay behind, as it hurt his dignity and sense of
comradeship, so it seemed a happy accident that he was asleep and I
could slip away unseen.  As the cattle were grazing along the river bank
only a few hundred yards off, I took a turn that way to have a look at
them, with natural but quite fruitless concern for their welfare, and a
moment later met the herd boy running towards me and calling out
excitedly something which I made out to be:

"Crocodile!  Crocodile, Inkos!  A crocodile has taken one of the oxen."
The waggon-boys heard it also, and armed with assegais and sticks were
on the bank almost as soon as I was; but there was no sign of crocodile
or bullock.  The boy showed us the place where the weakened animal had
gone down to drink--the hoof slides were plain enough--and told how, as
it drank, the long black coffin-head had appeared out of the water.  He
described stolidly how the big jaws had opened and gripped the bullock's
nose; how he, a few yards away, had seen the struggle; how he had
shouted and hurled his sticks and stones and tufts of grass, and feinted
to rush down at it; and how, after a muffled bellow and a weak
staggering effort to pull back, the poor beast had slid out into the
deep water and disappeared.  It seemed to be a quite unnecessary
addition to my troubles: misfortunes were coming thick and fast!

Half an hour was wasted in watching and searching; but we saw no more of
crocodile or bullock, and as there was nothing to be done I turned up
stream to find a shallower and a safer crossing.

At best it was not pleasant: the water was waist high and racing in
narrow channels between and over boulders and loose slippery stones, and
I was glad to get through without a tumble and a swim.

The country was rough on the other side, and the old grass was high and
dense, for no one went there in those days, and the grass stood unburnt
from season to season.  Climbing over rocks and stony ground, crunching
dry sticks underfoot, and driving a path through the rank tambooki
grass, it seemed well-nigh hopeless to look for a shot; several times I
heard buck start up and dash off only a few yards away, and it began to
look as if the wiser course would be to turn back.  At last I got out of
the valley into more level and more open ground, and came out upon a
ledge or plateau a hundred yards or more wide, with a low ridge of rocks
and some thorns on the far side--quite a likely spot.  I searched the
open ground from my cover, and seeing nothing there crossed over to the
rocks, threading my way silently between them and expecting to find
another clear space beyond.  The snort of a buck brought me to a
standstill among the rocks, and as I listened it was followed by another
and another from the same quarter, delivered at irregular intervals; and
each snort was accompanied by the sound of trampling feet, sometimes
like stamps of anger and at other times seemingly a hasty movement.

I had on several occasions interrupted fights between angry rivals: once
two splendid koodoo bulls were at it; a second time it was two sables,
and the vicious and incredibly swift sweep of the scimitar horns still
lives in memory, along with the wonderful nimbleness of the other fellow
who dodged it; and another time they were blue wildebeeste; but some
interruption had occurred each time, and I had no more than a glimpse of
what might have been a rare scene to witness.

I was determined not to spoil it this time: no doubt it was a fight, and
probably they were fencing and circling for an opening, as there was no
bump of heads or clash of horns and no tearing scramble of feet to
indicate the real struggle.  I crept on through the rocks and found
before me a tangle of thorns and dead wood, impossible to pass through
in silence; it was better to work back again and try the other side of
the rocks.  The way was clearer there, and I crept up to a rock four or
five feet high, feeling certain from the sound that the fight would be
in full view a few yards beyond.  With the rifle ready I raised myself
slowly until my eyes were over the top of the rock.  Some twenty yards
off, in an open flat of down-trodden grass, I saw a sable cow: she was
standing with feet firmly and widely planted, looking fiercely in front
of her, ducking her head in threatening manner every few seconds, and
giving angry snorts; and behind, and huddled up against her, was her
scared bewildered little red-brown calf.

It seems stupid not to have guessed what it all meant; yet the fact is
that for the few remaining seconds I was simply puzzled and fascinated
by the behaviour of the two sables.  Then in the corner of my eye I saw,
away on my right, another red-brown thing come into the open: it was
Jock, casting about with nose to ground for my trail which he had
over-run at the point where I had turned back near the deadwood on the
other side of the rocks.

What happened then was a matter of a second or two.  As I turned to look
at him he raised his head, bristled up all over, and made one jump
forward; then a long low yellowish thing moved in the unbeaten grass in
front of the sable cow, raised its head sharply, and looked full into my
eyes; and before I could move a finger it shot away in one streak-like
bound.  A wild shot at the lioness, as I jumped up full height; a shout
at Jock to come back; a scramble of black and brown on my left; and it
was all over: I was standing in the open ground, breathless with
excitement, and Jock, a few yards off, with hind legs crouched ready for
a dash, looking back at me for leave to go!

The spoor told the tale; there was the outer circle made by the lioness
in the grass, broken in places where she had feinted to rush in and
stopped before the lowered horns; and inside this there was the smaller
circle, a tangle of trampled grass and spoor, where the brave mother had
stood between her young and death.


Any attempt to follow the lioness after that would have been waste of
time.  We struck off in a new direction, and in crossing a stretch of
level ground where the thorn-trees were well scattered and the grass
fairly short my eye caught a movement in front that brought me to
instant standstill.  It was as if the stem of a young thorn-tree had
suddenly waved itself and settled back again, and it meant that some
long-horned buck, perhaps a koodoo or a sable bull, was lying down and
had swung his head; and it meant also that he was comfortably settled,
quite unconscious of danger.  I marked and watched the spot, or rather,
the line, for the glimpse was too brief to tell more than the direction;
but there was no other move.  The air was almost still, with just a
faint drift from him to us, and I examined every stick and branch, every
stump and ant-heap, every bush and tussock, without stirring a foot.
But I could make out nothing: I could trace no outline and see no patch
of colour, dark or light, to betray him.

It was an incident very characteristic of Bushveld hunting.  There I
stood minute after minute--not risking a move, which would be certain to
reveal me--staring and searching for some big animal lying half asleep
within eighty yards of me on ground that you would not call good cover
for a rabbit.  We were in the sunlight: he lay somewhere beyond, where a
few scattered thorn-trees threw dabs of shade, marbling with dappled
shade and light the already mottled surface of earth and grass.  I was
hopelessly beaten, but Jock could see him well enough; he crouched
beside me with ears cocked, and his eyes, all ablaze, were fixed
intently on the spot, except for an occasional swift look up to me to
see what on earth was wrong and why the shot did not come; his hind legs
were tucked under him and he was trembling with excitement.  Only those
will realise it who have been through the tantalising humiliating
experience.  There was nothing to be done but wait, leaving the buck to
make the first move.

And at last it came: there was another slight shake of the horns, and
the whole figure stood out in bold relief.  It was a fine sable bull
lying in the shadow of one of the thorn-trees with his back towards us,
and there was a small ant-heap close behind him, making a greyish blot
against his black back and shoulder, and breaking the expanse of colour
which the eye would otherwise easily have picked up.

The ant-heap made a certain shot impossible, so I lowered myself slowly
to the ground to wait until he should begin feeding or change his
position for comfort or shade, as they often do: this might mean waiting
for half an hour or more, but it was better than risking a shot in the
position in which he was lying.  I settled down for a long wait with the
rifle resting on my knees, confidently expecting that when the time came
to move would get up slowly, stretch himself, and have a good look
round.  But he did nothing of the kind; a turn or eddy of the faint
breeze must have given him my wind; for there was one twitch of the
horns, as his nose was laid to windward, and without an instant's pause
he dashed off.  It was the quickest thing imaginable in a big animal: it
looked as though he started racing from his lying position.  The bush
was not close enough to save him, however, in spite of his start, and
through the thin veil of smoke I saw him plunge and stumble, and then
dash off again; and Jock seeing me give chase, went ahead and in half a
minute I was left well behind, but still in sight of the hunt.

I shouted at Jock to come back, just as one murmurs good-day to a
passing friend in the din of traffic--from force of habit: of course, he
could hear nothing.  It was his first and only go at a sable; he knew
nothing of the terrible horns and the deadly scythe-like sweep that
makes the wounded sable so dangerous--even the lioness had fought shy of
them--and great as was my faith in him, the risk in this case was not
one I would have taken.  There was nothing to do but follow.  A quarter
of a mile on I drew closer up and found them standing face to face among
the thorns.  It was the first of three or four stands; the sable, with a
watchful eye on me, always moved on as I drew near enough to shoot.  The
beautiful black and white bull stood facing his little red enemy and the
fence and play of feint and thrust, guard and dodge, was wonderful to
see.  Not once did either touch the other; at Jock's least movement the
sable's head would go down with his nose into his chest and the
magnificent horns arched forward and poised so as to strike either right
or left, and if Jock feinted a rush either way the scythe-sweep came
with lightning quickness, covering more than half a circle and carrying
the gleaming points with a swing right over the sable's own back.  Then
he would advance slowly and menacingly, with horns well forward ready to
strike and eyes blazing through his eyebrows, driving Jock before him.

There were three or four of these encounters in which I could take no
hand: the distance, the intervening thorns and grass, and the quickness
of their movements, made a safe shot impossible; and there was always
the risk of hitting Jock, for a hard run does not make for good
shooting.  Each time as the sable drove him back there would be a short
vicious rush suddenly following the first deliberate advance, and as
Jock scrambled back out of the way the bull would swing round with
incredible quickness and be off full gallop in another direction.
Evidently the final rush was a manoeuvre to get Jock clear of his heels
and flanks as he started, and thus secure a lead for the next run.

Since the day he was kicked by the koodoo cow Jock had never tackled an
unbroken hind leg; a dangling one he never missed; but the lesson of the
flying heels had been too severe to be forgotten, and he never made that
mistake again.  In this chase I saw him time after time try at the
sable's flanks and run up abreast of his shoulder and make flying leaps
at the throat; but he never got in front where the horns could reach
him, and although he passed and repassed behind to try on the other side
when he had failed at the one, and looked up eagerly at the hind legs as
he passed them, he made no attempt at them.

It must have been at the fourth or fifth stand that Jock got through the
guard at last.  The sable was badly wounded in the body and doubtless
strength was failing, but there was little evidence of this yet.  In the
pauses Jock's tongue shot and slithered about, a glittering red streak,
but after short spells of panting, his head would shut up with a snap
like a steel trap and his face set with that look of invincible
resolution which it got in part from the pursed-up mouth and in part
from the intensity of the beady black-brown eyes: he was good for hours
of this sort of work.

This time the sable drove him back towards a big thorn-tree.  It may
have been done without design, or it may have been done with the idea of
pinning him up against the trunk.  But Jock was not to be caught that
way; in a fight he took in the whole field, behind as well as in front--
as he had shown the night the second wild dog tackled him.  On his side,
too, there may or may not have been design in backing towards the tree;
who knows?  I thought that he scored, not by a manoeuvre, but simply
because of his unrelaxing watchfulness and his resolute unhesitating
courage.  He seemed to know instinctively that the jump aside, so safe
with the straight-charging animals, was no game to play against the side
sweep of a sable's horns, and at each charge of the enemy he had
scrambled back out of range without the least pretence of taking

This time the sable drove him steadily back towards the tree, but in the
last step, just as the bull made his rush, Jock jumped past the tree and
instead of scrambling back out of reach as before, dodged round and was
in the rear of the buck before it could turn on him.  There were no
flying heels to fear then, and without an instant's hesitation he
fastened on one of the hind legs above the hock.  With a snort of rage
and indignation the sable spun round and round, kicking and plunging
wildly and making vicious sweeps with his horns; but Jock, although
swung about and shaken like a rat, was out of reach and kept his grip.
It was a quick and furious struggle, in which I was altogether
forgotten, and as one more desperate plunge brought the bull down in a
struggling kicking heap with Jock completely hidden under him, I ran up
and ended the fight.

It always took him some time to calm down after these tussles: he became
so wound up by the excitement of the struggle that time was needed to
run down again, so to say.  While I was busy on the double precaution of
fixing up a scare for the aasvogels and cutting grass and branches to
cover the buck, Jock moved restlessly round the sable, ever ready to
pounce on him again at the least sign of life.  The slithering tongue
and wide-open mouth looked like a big red gash splitting his head in
two; he was so blown, his breath came and went like the puffing of a
diminutive steam-engine at full speed, and his eyes with all the
wickedness of fight--but none of the watchfulness--gone out of them,
flickered incessantly from the buck to me: one sign from either would
have been enough!  It was the same old scene, the same old performance,
that I had watched scores of times; but it never grew stale or failed to
draw a laugh, a word of cheer, and pat of affection; and from him there
came always the same response, the friendly wagging of that stumpy tail,
a splashy lick, a soft upward look, and a wider split of the mouth that
was a laugh as plain as if one heard it.  But that was only an
interruption--a few seconds' distraction: it did not put him off or
satisfy him that all was well.  His attention went back to the buck, and
the everlasting footwork went on again.  With his front to the fallen
enemy and his fore legs well apart he kept ever on the move forwards and
backwards, in quick steps of a few inches each, and at the same time
edging round in his zigzag circle, making a track round the buck like a
weather chart with the glass at `Changeable.'

"Silly old fusser!  Can't you see he's finished?"  He could not hear
anything, but the responsive wag showed that he knew I was talking to
him; and, dodging the piece of bark I threw at him, he resumed his
ridiculous round.

I was still laughing at him, when he stopped and turning sharply round
made a snap at his side; and a few seconds later he did it again.  Then
there was a thin sing of insect wings; and I knew that the Tsetse fly
were on us.

The only thought then was for Jock, who was still working busily round
the sable.  For some minutes I sat with him between my legs, wisping
away the flies with a small branch and wondering what to do.  It soon
became clear that there was nothing to be gained by waiting: instead of
passing away the fly became more numerous, and there was not a moment's
peace or comfort to be had, for they were tackling me on the neck, arms,
and legs, where the thorn-ripped pants left them bare to the knees; so,
slinging the rifle over my shoulder, I picked Jock up, greatly to his
discomfort, and carried him off in my arms at the best pace possible
under the circumstances.  Half a mile of that was enough, however: the
weight, the awkwardness of the position, the effort to screen him, and
the difficulty of picking my way in very rough country at the same time,
were too much for me.  A tumble into a grass-hidden hole laid us both
out sprawling, and I sat down again to rest and think, swishing the
flies off as before.

Then an idea came which, in spite of all the anxiety, made me laugh, and
ended in putting poor old Jock in quite the most undignified and
ridiculous plight he had known since the days of his puppyhood when his
head stuck in the bully-beef tin or the hen pecked him on the nose.  I
ripped off as much of my shirt as was not needed to protect me against
the flies, and making holes in it for his legs and tail fitted him out
with a home-made suit in about five minutes.  Time was everything; it
was impossible to run with him in my arms, but we could run together
until we got out of the fly belt, and there was not much risk of being
bitten as long as we kept up the running in the long grass.  It was a
long spell, and what with the rough country and the uncontrollable
laughter at the sight of Jock, I was pretty well done by the time we
were safely out of the `fly.'  We pulled up when the country began to
fall away sharply towards the river, and there, to Jock's evident
satisfaction, I took off his suit--by that time very much tattered and

It was there, lying between two rocks in the shade of a marula tree,
that I got one of those chances to see game at close quarters of which
most men only hear or dream.  There were no snapshot cameras then!

We had been lying there it may be for half an hour or more, Jock asleep
and I spread out on my back, when a slight but distinct click, as of a
hoof against a stone, made me turn quietly over on my side and listen.
The rock beside me was about four feet high, and on the other side of it
a buck of some kind, and a big one too, was walking with easy stride
towards the river.  Every footstep was perfectly clear; the walk was
firm and confident: evidently there was not the least suspicion of
danger.  It was only a matter of yards between us, and what little
breeze there was drifted across his course towards me, as he too made
for the river, holding a course parallel with the two long rocks between
which we were lying.  The footsteps came abreast of us and then stopped,
just as I was expecting him to walk on past the rock and down the hill
in front of me.  The sudden halt seemed to mean that some warning
instinct had arrested him, or some least taint upon the pure air softly
eddying between the rocks had reached him.  I could hear his sniffs, and
pictured him looking about, silent but alarmed, before deciding which
way to make his rush.

I raised myself by inches, close to the rock, until I could see over it.
A magnificent waterbuck bull, full-grown and in perfect coat and
condition, was standing less than five yards away and a little to the
right, having already passed me when he came to a stop: he was so close
that I could see the waves and partings in his heavy coat; the rise and
fall in his flanks as he breathed; the ruff on his shaggy bearded
throat, that gave such an air of grandeur to the head; the noble
carriage, as with head held high and slightly turned to windward he
sniffed the breeze from the valley; the nostrils, mobile and sensitive,
searching for the least hint of danger; and the eye, large and full and
soft, luminous with watchful intelligence, and yet mild and calm--so
free was it from all trace of a disturbing thought.  And yet I was so
close, it seemed almost possible to reach out and touch him.  There was
no thought of shooting: it was a moment of supreme enjoyment.  Just to
watch him: that was enough.

In a little while he seemed satisfied that all was well, and with head
thrown slightly forward and the sure clean tread of his kind, he took
his line unhesitatingly down the hill.  As he neared the thicker bush
twenty yards away a sudden impulse made me give a shout.  In a single
bound he was lost among the trees, and the clattering of loose stones
and the crackle of sticks in his path had ceased before the cold
shiver-down-the-back, which my spell-breaking shout provoked, had passed
away.  When I turned round Jock was still asleep: little incidents like
that brought his deafness home.

It was our last day's hunting together; and I went back to the dreary
round of hard, hopeless, useless struggle and daily loss.

One day, a calm cloudless day, there came without warning a tremendous
booming roar that left the air vibrating and seemed to shake the very
earth, as a thousand echoes called and answered from hill to hill down
the long valley.  There was nothing to explain it; the kaffirs turned a
sickly grey, and appealed to me; but I could give them no explanation--
it was something beyond my ken--and they seemed to think it an evil omen
of still greater ill-luck.  But, as it turned out, the luck was not all
bad: some days passed before the mystery was solved, and then we came to
where Coombes, with whom a week earlier I had tried--and failed--to keep
pace, had been blown to pieces with his boys, waggon, oxen, and three
tons of dynamite: there was no fragment of waggon bigger than one's
hand; and the trees all around were barked on one side.  We turned out
to avoid the huge hole in the drift, and passed on.

There were only twenty oxen left when we reached the drift below Fig
Tree.  The water was nearly breast-high and we carried three-fourths of
the loads through on our heads, case by case, to make the pull as easy
as possible for the oxen, as they could only crawl then.  We got one
waggon through with some difficulty, but at nightfall the second was
still in the river; we had carried out everything removable, even to the
buck-sails, but the weakened bullocks could not move the empty waggon.

The thunder-clouds were piling up ahead, and distant lightning gave
warning of a storm away up river; so we wound the trek-chain round a big
tree on the bank, to anchor the waggon in case of flood, and reeling
from work and weariness, too tired to think of food, I flung myself down
in my blankets under the other waggon which was outspanned where we had
stopped it in the double-rutted veld road, and settling comfortably into
the sandy furrow cut by many wheels, was `dead to the world' in a few
minutes.  Near midnight the storm awoke me and a curious coldness about
the neck and shoulders made me turn over to pull the blankets up.  The
road had served as a storm-water drain, converting the two wheel furrows
into running streams, and I, rolled in my blankets, had dammed up one of
them.  The prompt flow of the released water as soon as I turned over,
told plainly what had happened.  I looked out at the driving rain and
the glistening earth, as shown up by constant flashes of lightning: it
was a world of rain and spray and running water.  It seemed that there
was neither hope nor mercy anywhere; I was too tired to care, and
dropping back into the trough, slept the night out in water.

In the morning we found the waggon still in the drift, although partly
hidden by the flood, but the force of the stream had half-floated and
half-forced it round on to higher ground; only the anchoring chain had
saved it.  We had to wait some hours for the river to run down, and then
to my relief the rested but staggering oxen pulled it out at the first

Rooiland, the light red ox with blazing yellow eyes and topped horns,
fierce and untamable to the end, was in the lead then.  I saw him as he
took the strain in that last pull, and it was pitiful to see the
restless eager spirit fighting against the failing strength: he looked
desperate.  The thought seems fanciful--about a dumb animal--and perhaps
it is; but what happened just afterwards makes it still vivid and fitted
in very curiously with the superstitious notions of the boys.  We
outspanned in order to re-pack the loads, and Rooiland, who as front ox
was the last to be released, stood for a few moments alone while the
rest of the cattle moved away; then turning his back on them he gave a
couple of low moaning bellows and walked down the road back to the drift
again.  I had no doubt it was to drink; but the boys stopped their work
and watched him curiously, and some remarks passed which were inaudible
to me.  As the ox disappeared down the slope into the drift, Jim called
to his leader to bring him back, and then turning to me, added with his
usual positiveness, "Rooiland is mad.  Umtagati!  Bewitched!  He is
looking for the dead ones.  He is going to die to-day!"

The boy came back presently alone.  When he reached the drift, he said,
Rooiland was standing breast-high in the river, and then in a moment,
whether by step or slip, he was into the flood and swept away.  The
leader's account was received by the others in absolute silence: a
little tightening of the jaws and a little brightening of the eyes,
perhaps, were all I could detect.  They were saturated with
superstition, and as pagan fatalists they accepted the position without
a word.  I suggested to Jim that it was nothing but a return of
Rooiland's old straying habit, and probed him with questions, but could
get nothing out of him; finally he walked off with an expressive shake
of the head and the repetition of his former remark, without a shade of
triumph, surprise, or excitement in his voice: "He is looking for the
dead ones!"

We were out of the fly then, and the next day we reached Fig Tree.

That was the end of the last trek.  Only three oxen reached Barberton,
and they died within the week: the ruin was complete.



When the trip was squared off and the boys paid, there was nothing left.
Jim went home with waggons returning to Spitzkop: once more--for the
last time--grievously hurt in dignity because his money was handed to my
friend the owner of the waggon to be paid out to him when he reached his
kraal; but his gloomy resentment melted as I handed over to him things
for which there was no further need.  The waggons moved off, and Jim
with them; but twice he broke back again to dance and shout his
gratitude; for it was wealth to him to have the reims and voorslag, the
odd yokes and strops and waggon tools, the baking pot and pan and
billies; and they were little to me when all else was gone.  And Jim,
with all his faults, had earned some title to remembrance for his
loyalty.  My way had been his way; and the hardest day had never been
too hard for him: he had seen it all through to the finish, without a
grumble and without a shirk.

His last shout, like the bellow of a bull, was an uproarious good-bye to
Jock.  And Jock seemed to know it was something of an occasion, for, as
he stood before me looking down the road at the receding waggons and the
dancing figure of Jim, his ears were cocked, his head was tilted a
little sideways, and his tail stirred gently.  It was at least a
friendly nod in return!

A couple of weeks later I heard from my friend: "You will be interested
to hear that that lunatic of yours reached his kraal all right; but
that's not _his_ fault.  He is a holy terror.  I have never known such a
restless animal: he is like a change in the weather--you seem to feel
him everywhere, upsetting everything and every one the whole time.  I
suppose you hammered him into his place and kept him there; but I
wouldn't have him at a gift.  It is not that there was anything really
wrong; only there was no rest, no peace.

"But he's a gay fighter!  That was a treat: I never laughed so much in
my life.  Below the Devil's Kantoor we met a lot of waggons from
Lydenburg, and he had a row with one of the drivers, a lanky nigger with
dandy-patched clothes.  The boy wouldn't fight--just yelled blue murder
while Jim walloped him.  I heard the yells and the whacks, like the
beating of carpets, and there was Jim laying it on all over him--legs,
head, back, and arms--with a sort of ferocious satisfaction, every whack
being accompanied by a husky suppressed shout: `Fight, Shangaan!
Fight!'  But the other fellow was not on for fighting; he floundered
about, yelled for mercy and help, and tried to run away; but Jim simply
played round him--one spring put him alongside each time.  I felt sorry
for the long nigger and was going to interfere and save him, but just
then one of his pals called out to their gang to come along and help,
and ran for his sticks.  It was rare fun then.  Jim dropped the patched
fellow and went like a charging lion straight for the waggons where the
gang were swarming for their sticks, letting out right and left whenever
he saw a nigger, whether they wanted to fight or not; and in about five
seconds the whole lot were heading for the bush with Jim in full chase.

"Goodness knows what the row was about.  As far as I can make out from
your heathen, it is because the other boy is a Shangaan and reads the
Bible.  Jim says this boy--Sam is his name--worked for you and ran away.
Sam says it is not true, and that he never even heard of you, and that
Jim is a stranger to him.  There's something wrong in this, though,
because when the row began, Sam first tried to pacify your lunatic, and
I heard him sing out in answer to the first few licks, `Kahle, Umganaam;
Kahle, Makokel'!'  (Gently, friend; gently, Makokel'.) `Wow, Makokela,
y' ou bulala mena!'  (Wow, Makokela, you will kill me.)  He knew Jim
right enough; that was evident.  But it didn't help him; he had to skip
for it all the same.  I was glad to pay the noble Jim off and drop him
at his kraal.  Sam was laid up when we left."

It is better to skip the change from the old life to the new--when the
luck, as we called it, was all out, when each straw seemed the last for
the camel's breaking back, and there was always still another to come.
But the turn came at last, and the `long arm of coincidence' reached out
to make the `impossible' a matter of fact.  It is better to skip all
that: for it is not the story of Jock, and it concerns him only so far
that in the end it made our parting unavoidable.

When the turn did come it was strange, and at times almost bewildering,
to realise that the things one had struggled hardest against and
regarded as the worst of bad luck were blessings in disguise and were
all for the best.  So the new life began and the old was put away; but
the new life, for all its brighter and wider outlook and work of another
class, for all the charm that makes Barberton now a cherished memory to
all who knew the early days, was not all happy.  The new life had its
hours of darkness too; of almost unbearable `trek fever'; of restless,
sleepless, longing for the old life; of `home-sickness' for the veld,
the freedom, the roaming, the nights by the fire, and the days in the
bush!  Now and again would come a sleepless night with its endless
procession of scenes, in which some remembered from the past were
interlinked with others imagined for the future; and here and there in
these long waking dreams came stabs of memory--flashes of lightning
vividness: the head and staring eyes of the koodoo bull, as we had stood
for a portion of a second face to face; the yawning mouth of the
maddened crocodile; the mamba and its beady hateful eyes, as it swept by
before the bush fire.  And there were others too that struck another
chord: the cattle, the poor dumb beasts that had worked and died:
stepping-stones in a man's career; the `books,' the `chalk and
blackboard' of the school--used, discarded, and forgotten!  No, they
were not forgotten; and the memory of the last trek was one long mute
reproach on their behalf: they had paved the roadway for the Juggernaut

All that was left of the old life was Jock; and soon there was no place
for him.  He could not always be with me; and when left behind he was
miserable, leading a life that was utterly strange to him, without
interest and among strangers.  While I was in Barberton he accompanied
me everywhere, but--absurd as it seems--there was a constant danger for
him there, greater though less glorious than those he faced so lightly
in the veld.  His deafness, which passed almost unnoticed and did not
seem to handicap him at all in the veld, became a serious danger in
camp.  For a long time he had been unable to hear a sound, but he could
_feel_ sounds: that is to say, he was quick to notice anything that
caused a vibration.  In the early days of his deafness I had been
worried by the thought that he would be run over while lying asleep near
or under the waggons, and the boys were always on the look-out to stir
him up; but we soon found that this was not necessary.  At the first
movement he would feel the vibration and jump up.  Jim realised this
well enough, for when wishing to direct his attention to strange dogs or
Shangaans, the villain could always dodge me by stamping or hammering on
the ground, and Jock always looked up: he seemed to know the difference
between the sounds he could ignore, such as chopping wood, and those
that he ought to notice.

In camp--Barberton in those days was reckoned a mining camp, and was
always referred to as `camp'--the danger was due to the number of
sounds.  He would stand behind me as I stopped in the street, and
sometimes lie down and snooze if the wait was a long one; and the poor
old fellow must have thought it a sad falling off, a weary monotonous
change from the real life of the veld.  At first he was very watchful,
and every rumbling wheel or horse's footfall drew his alert little eyes
round to the danger point; but the traffic and noise were almost
continuous and one sound ran into another; and thus he became careless
or puzzled and on several occasions had narrowly escaped being run over
or trodden on.

Once, in desperation after a bad scare, I tried chaining him up, and
although his injured reproachful look hurt, it did not weaken me: I had
hardened my heart to do it, and it was for his own sake.  At lunch-time
he was still squatting at the full length of the chain, off the mat and
straw, and with his head hanging in the most hopeless dejected attitude
one could imagine.  It was too much for me--the dog really felt it; and
when I released him there was no rejoicing in his freedom as the hated
collar and chain dropped off: he turned from me without a sign or sound
of any sort, and walking off slowly, lay down some ten yards away with
his head resting on his paws!  He went to think--not to sleep.

I felt abominably guilty, and was conscious of wanting to make up for it
all the afternoon.

Once I took him out to Fig Tree Creek fifteen miles away, and left him
with a prospector friend at whose camp in the hills it seemed he would
be much better off and much happier.  When I got back to Barberton that
night he was waiting for me, with a tag of chewed rope hanging round his
neck, not the least ashamed of himself, but openly rejoicing in the
meeting and evidently never doubting that I was equally pleased.  And he
was quite right there.

But it could not go on.  One day as he lay asleep behind me, a loaded
waggon coming sharply round a corner as nearly as possible passed over
him.  The wheel was within inches of his back as he lay asleep in the
sand: there was no chance to grab--it was a rush and a kick that saved
him; and he rolled over under the waggon, and found his own way out
between the wheels.

A few days after this Ted passed through Barberton, and I handed Jock
over to him, to keep and to care for until I had a better and safer home
for him.


One day some two years later there turned up at my quarters an old
friend of the transport days--Harry Williams--he had been away on a long
trek `up north' to look for some supposed mine of fabulous richness of
which there had been vague and secret reports from natives.  He stayed
with me for some days, and one evening after the bout of fever and ague
had passed off and rest and good feeding had begun to pull him round, he
told us the story of their search.  It was a trip of much adventure, but
it was the end of his story that interested me most; and that is all
that need be told here.

They had failed to find the mine; the native who was supposed to know
all about it had deserted, with all he could carry off; they were short
of food and money, and out of medicines; the delays had been great; they
were two hundred miles from any white men; there was no road but their
own erratic track through the bush; the rains had begun and the fever
season set in; the cattle--they had one waggon and span--were worn-out;
the fever had gripped them, and of the six white men, three were dead,
one dying, and two only able to crawl; most of their boys had deserted;
one umfaan fit for work, and the driver--then delirious with fever--
completed the party.

The long journey was almost over; and they were only a few treks from
the store and camp for which they were making; but they were so stricken
and helpless it seemed as though that little was too much, and they must
die within reach of help.  The driver, a big Zulu, was then raving mad;
he had twice run off into the bush and been lost for hours.  Precious
time and waning strength were spent in the search, and with infinite
effort and much good luck they had found him and induced him to return.
On the second occasion they had enticed him on to the waggon and, as he
lay half unconscious between bursts of delirium, had tied him down flat
on his back, with wrists and ankles fastened to the buck-rails.  It was
all they could do to save him: they had barely strength to climb up and
pour water into his mouth from time to time.

It was midday then, and their dying comrade was so far gone that they
decided to abandon one trek and wait for evening, to allow him to die in
peace.  Later on, when they thought it was all over, they tried to
scrape out a grave for him, and began to pull out one old blanket to
wrap round him in place of a shroud and coffin.  It was then that the
man opened his eyes and faintly shook his head; so they inspanned as
best they could and made another trek.  I met the man some years
afterwards, and he told me he had heard all they said, but could only
remember one thing, and that was Harry's remark, that `two gin-cases
were not enough for a coffin, so they would have to take one of the
blankets instead.'

In the morning they went on again.  It was then at most two treks more
to their destination; but they were too weak to work or walk, and the
cattle were left to crawl along undriven; but after half an hour's
trekking, they reached a bad drift where the waggon stuck; the cattle
would not face the pull.  The two tottering trembling white men did
their best, but neither had strength to use the whip; the umfaan led the
oxen this way and that, but there was no more effort in them.  The water
had given out, and the despairing helpless men saw death from thirst
awaiting them within a few hours' trek of help; and to add to the horror
of it all, the Zulu driver, with thirst aggravating his delirium, was a
raving lunatic--struggling and wrenching at his bonds until the waggon
rattled, and uttering maniac yells and gabbling incessantly.

Hours had gone by in hopeless effort; but the oxen stood out at all
angles, and no two would pull together in answer to the feeble efforts
of the fainting men.  Then there came a lull in the shouts from the
waggon and in answer to the little voorlooper's warning shout, "Pas op,
Baas!"  (Look out, Master!), the white men looked round and saw the Zulu
driver up on his knees freeing himself from the reims.  In another
moment he was standing up full height--a magnificent but most unwelcome
sight: there was a thin line of froth along the half-opened mouth; the
deep-set eyes glared out under eyebrows and forehead bunched into
frowning wrinkles, as for a few seconds he leaned forward like a lion
about to spring and scanned the men and oxen before him; and then as
they watched him in breathless silence, he sprang lightly off the
waggon, picked up a small dry stick as he landed, and ran up along the

He spoke to the after-ox by name as he passed; called to another, and
touched it into place; thrust his way between the next one and the dazed
white man standing near it, tossing him aside with a brush of his arm,
as a ploughshare spurns a sod; and then they saw how the boy's madness
had taken him.  His work and his span had called to him in his delirium;
and he had answered.  With low mutterings, short words hissed out, and
all the sounds and terms the cattle knew shot at them--low-pitched and
with intense repression--he ran along the span, crouching low all the
time like a savage stealing up for murderous attack.

The two white men stood back and watched.

Reaching the front oxen, he grasped the leading reim and pulled them
round until they stood level for the straight pull out; then down the
other side of the span he ran with cat-like tread and activity, talking
to each and straightening them up as he had done with the others; and
when he reached the waggon again, he turned sharply and overlooked the
span.  One ox had swung round and stood out of line; there was a pause
of seconds, and then the big Zulu called to the ox by name--not loudly
but in a deep low tone, husky with intensity--and the animal swung back
into line again.

Then out of the silence that followed came an electrifying yell to the
span: every bullock leaned to its yoke, and the waggon went out with a

And he drove them at a half-trot all the way to the store: without
water; without help; without consciousness; the little dry twig still in
his hand, and only his masterful intensity and knowledge of his work and
span to see him through.

"A mad troublesome savage," said Harry Williams, "but one of the very
best.  Anyhow, we thought so; he saved us!"

There was something very familiar in this, and it was with a queer
feeling of pride and excitement that I asked:

"Did he ever say to you `My catchum lion 'live'?"

"By gum!  You know him?  Jim: Jim Makokel'!"

"Indeed I do.  Good old Jim!"


Years afterwards Jim was still a driver, working when necessary,
fighting when possible, and enjoying intervals of lordly ease at his
kraal where the wives and cattle stayed and prospered.



And Jock?

But I never saw my dog again.  For a year or so he lived something of
the old veld life, trekking and hunting; from time to time I heard of
him from Ted and others: stories seemed to gather easily about him as
they do about certain people, and many knew Jock and were glad to bring
news of him.  The things they thought wonderful and admirable made
pleasant news for them to tell and welcome news to me, and they were
heard with contented pride, but without surprise, as "just like him":
there was nothing more to be said.

One day I received word from Ted that he was off to Scotland for a few
months and had left Jock with another old friend, Tom Barnett--Tom, at
whose store under the Big Fig Tree, Seedling lies buried; and although I
was glad that he had been left with a good friend like Tom, who would
care for him as well as any one could, the life there was not of the
kind to suit him.  For a few months it would not matter; but I had no
idea of letting him end his days as a watch-dog at a trader's store in
the kaffir country.  Tom's trouble was with thieves; for the natives
about there were not a good lot, and their dogs were worse.  When Jock
saw or scented them, they had the poorest sort of luck or chance: he
fought to kill, and not as town dogs fight; he had learnt his work in a
hard school, and he never stopped or slackened until the work was done;
so his fame soon spread and it brought Tom more peace than he had
enjoyed for many a day.  Natives no longer wandered at will into the
reed-enclosed yard; kaffir dogs ceased to sneak into the store and
through the house, stealing everything they could get.  Jock took up his
place at the door, and hungry mongrels watched him from a distance or
sneaked up a little closer when from time to time he trotted round to
the yard at the back of the building to see how things were going there.

All that was well enough during the day; but the trouble occurred at
night.  The kaffirs were too scared to risk being caught by him, but the
dogs from the surrounding kraals prowled about after dark, scavenging
and thieving where they could; and what angered Tom most of all was the
killing of his fowls.  The yard at the back of the store was enclosed by
a fence of close-packed reeds, and in the middle of the yard stood the
fowl-house with a clear space of bare ground all round it.  On many
occasions kaffir dogs had found their way through the reed fence and
killed fowls perching about the yard, and several times they had burgled
the fowl-house itself.  In spite of Jock's presence and reputation, this
night robbing still continued, for while he slept peacefully in front of
the store, the robbers would do their work at the back.  Poor old
fellow!  They were many and he was one; they prowled night and day, and
he had to sleep sometimes; they were watchful and he was deaf; so he had
no chance at all unless he saw or scented them.

There were two small windows looking out on to the yard, but no door in
the back of the building; thus, in order to get into the yard, it was
necessary to go out of the front door and round the side of the house.
On many occasions Tom, roused by the screaming of the fowls, had seized
his gun and run round to get a shot at the thieves; but the time so lost
was enough for a kaffir dog, and the noise made in opening the reed gate
gave ample warning of his coming.

The result was that Tom generally had all his trouble for nothing; but
it was not always so.  Several times he roused Jock as he ran out, and
invariably got some satisfaction out of what followed; once Jock caught
one of the thieves struggling to force a way through the fence and held
on to the hind leg until Tom came up with the gun; on other occasions he
had caught them in the yard; on others, again, he had run them down in
the bush and finished it off there without help or hindrance.

That was the kind of life to which Jock seemed to have settled down.

He was then in the very prime of life, and I still hoped to get him back
to me some day to a home where he would end his days in peace.  Yet it
seemed impossible to picture him in a life of ease and idleness--a
watch-dog in a house sleeping away his life on a mat, his only
excitement keeping off strange kaffirs and stray dogs, or burrowing for
rats and moles in a garden, with old age, deafness, and infirmities
growing year by year to make his end miserable.  I had often thought
that it might have been better had he died fighting--hanging on with his
indomitable pluck and tenacity, tackling something with all the odds
against him; doing his duty and his best as he had always done--and died
as Rocky's dog had died.  If on that last day of our hunting together he
had got at the lioness, and gone under in the hopeless fight; if the
sable bull had caught and finished him with one of the scythe-like
sweeps of the scimitar horns; if he could have died--like Nelson--in the
hour of victory!  Would it not have been better for him--happier for me?
Often I thought so.  For to fade slowly away; to lose his strength and
fire and intelligence; to outlive his character, and no longer be
himself!  No, that could not be happiness!

Well, Jock is dead!  Jock, the innocent cause of Seedling's downfall and
death, lies buried under the same big Fig Tree: the graves stand side by
side.  He died, as he lived--true to his trust; and this is how it
happened, as it was faithfully told to me:

It was a bright moonlight night--Think of the scores we had spent
together, the mild glorious nights of the Bushveld!--and once more Tom
was roused by a clatter of falling boxes and the wild screams of fowls
in the yard.  Only the night before the thieves had beaten him again;
but this time he was determined to be even with them.  Jumping out of
bed he opened the little window looking out on to the fowl-house, and,
with his gun resting on the sill, waited for the thief.  He waited long
and patiently; and by-and-by the screaming of the fowls subsided enough
for him to hear the gurgling and scratching about in the fowl-house, and
he settled down to a still longer watch; evidently the kaffir dog was
enjoying his stolen meal in there.

"Go on!  Finish it!"  Tom muttered grimly; "I'll have you this time if I
wait till morning!"

So he stood at the window waiting and watching, until every sound had
died away outside.  He listened intently: there was not a stir; there
was nothing to be seen in the moonlit yard; nothing to be heard; not
even a breath of air to rustle the leaves in the big fig tree.

Then, in the same dead stillness the dim form of a dog appeared in the
doorway, stepped softly out of the fowl-house, and stood in the deep
shadow of the little porch.  Tom lifted the gun slowly and took careful
aim.  When the smoke cleared away, the figure of the dog lay still,
stretched out on the ground where it had stood; and Tom went back to
bed, satisfied.


The morning sun slanting across the yard shone in Tom's eyes as he
pushed the reed gate open and made his way towards the fowl-house.
Under the porch, where the sunlight touched it, something shone like
burnished gold.

He was stretched on his side--it might have been in sleep; but on the
snow-white chest there was one red spot.

And inside the fowl-house lay the kaffir dog--dead.

Jock had done his duty.


The End.



Snake stories are proverbially an `uncommercial risk' for those who
value a reputation for truthfulness.  Hailstorms are scarcely less
disastrous; hence these notes!


Mamba.--This is believed to be the largest and swiftest of the deadly
snakes, and one of the most wantonly vicious.  The late Dr Colenso
(Bishop of Zululand) in his Zulu dictionary describes them as attaining
a length of twelve feet, and capable of chasing a man on horseback.  The
writer has seen several of this length, and has heard of measurements up
to fourteen feet (which, however, were not sufficiently verified); he
has also often heard stories of men on horseback being chased by black
mambas, but has never met the man himself, nor succeeded in eliciting
the important facts as to pace and distance.  However that may be, the
movements of a mamba, even on open ground, are, as the writer has
several times observed, so incredibly swift as to leave no other
impression on the mind than that of having witnessed a magical
disappearance.  How often and how far they `travel on their tails,'
whether it is a continuous movement or merely a momentary uprising to
command a view, and what length or what proportion of the body is on the
ground for support or propulsion, the writer has no means of knowing:
during the Zulu war an Imperial officer was bitten by a mamba _while on
horseback_ and died immediately.


Hailstorms.--Bad hailstorms occur every year in South Africa, but they
do not last long (ten minutes is enough to destroy everything that
stands).  The distances are immense, and the area of disturbance is
usually a narrow strip; hence, except when one strikes a town, very few
people ever witness them.  This summer hailstorms were more general and
more severe in the Transvaal than for some time past.  A bad storm
baffles description.  The size of the hailstones is only one of the
factors--a strong wind enormously increases the destructiveness; yet
some idea may be gathered from the size of the stones.  The writer took
a plaster cast of one picked up at Zuurfontein (near Johannesburg), in
November 1906, which measured 4.5 inches long, 3.5 wide and 1.125 inches
thick--a slab of white ice.  In the Hekpoort Valley (near Johannesburg)
and in Barberton, about the same date, the veld was like a glacier; the
hail lay like snow, inches deep, and during the worst spells the general
run of the hailstones varied in size from pigeons' eggs to hens' eggs;
but the big ones, the crash of whose individual blows was distinctly
heard through the general roar, are described as `bigger than cricket
balls' and `the size of breakfast cups,' generally with an elongation or
tail--like a balloon.  Sheep and buck were killed, and full-grown cattle
so battered that some were useless and others died of the injuries;
wooden doors were broken in, the panels being completely shattered;
corrugated iron roofs were perforated, and in some cases the hailstones
drove completely through them.  The writer photographed a portion of a
roof in Barberton which had suffered thus, and saw plaster casts--formed
by pouring plaster of Paris into the indentations which two hailstones
had made in a flower bed--in diameter equalling, respectively, tennis
and cricket balls.

Near Harrismith, O.R.C., in 1903, two herd boys with a troop of about a
hundred goats and calves were caught by the hail.  The boys and all the
stock, except one old goat, were killed.



NOTE.--_The spelling of Cape Dutch and native names is in many cases not
to be determined by recognised authority.  The pronunciation cannot be
quite accurately suggested through the medium of English.  The figures
of weights and measurements of animals are gathered from many sources,
and refer only to first-class specimens.  The weights are necessarily


AASVOGEL (d), a vulture (_literally_. carrion bird).

ANT-BEAR, AARDVARK (d) (_Orycteropus jifer_).

ANT-HEAP, mound made by termites or `white ants.'  Usually formed by one
colony of ants; about two to four feet in base diameter and height, but
often in certain localities very much larger.  The writer photographed
one this year near the scene of the Last Hunt, eighteen feet base
diameter and ten feet high, and another in Rhodesia which formed a
complete background for a travelling waggonette and six mules.  In both
cases these mounds were `deserted cities,' and trees, probably fifty to
one hundred years old, were growing out of them.

ASSEGAI (_pronounced_ ass-e-guy) (n), native spear.

BAAS (d), master.

BANSELA (_pronounced_ baan-se-la) (n), a present.

BEKER (_pronounced_ beaker) (d), a cup.

BILLY, a small tin utensil with lid and handle, used for boiling water.

BUCK-SAIL, tarpaulin used for covering transport waggons, which are
known as buck-waggons.

BUFFALO, Cape buffalo (_Bos Caffer_).  Height, 5 feet 6 inches; weight,
possibly 1000 pounds; horns, 48 inches from tip to tip and 36 inches
each in length on curve.

BULTONG, or Biltong (_pronounced_ biltong) (n), meat cut in strips,
slightly salted, and dried in the open air.

BUSH BUCK, a medium-sized but very courageous antelope (_Tragelaphus
scriptus_).  Height, 3 feet; weight, 130 pounds; horns (male only), 18

BUSH VELD, properly Bosch veld (d), bush country; also called Low Veld
and Low Country.

CANE-RAT (_Thryonomys swinderentanus_).

CETYWAYO (_see_ Ketshwayo).

CHAKA, properly Tshaka (n), the first of the great Zulu kings and
founder of the Zulu military power.

DASSIE (_pronounced_ daas-ey) (d), rock-rabbit; coney (_Procavia (Hyrax)
capensis_) (_literally_. little badger).

DINGAAN, properly Dingan (e) (n), the second of the great Zulu kings;
brother, murderer, and successor of Chaka.

DISSELBOOM (d), the pole of a vehicle.

DONGA (n), a gully or dry watercourse with steep banks.

DOUGH-BOYS, scones; frequently unleavened dough baked in coals; also
ash-cakes, roaster cookies, stick-in-the-gizzards, veld-bricks, etc.

DRIFT (d), a ford.

DUIKER (_pronounced_ in English dyker, in Dutch dayker) (d), a small
antelope found throughout Africa (_Cephalophus grimmi_).  Gross weight,
30 to 40 pounds; height, 28 inches; horns, 5.5 inches.  (_literally_
diver, so called from its habit of disappearing and re-appearing in low
scrub in a succession of bounds when it first starts running).

GO'WAY BIRD, the grey plantain eater (_Schizorbis concolor_).

HARTEBEESTE (_pronounced_ haar-te-beast) (d), a large antelope, of which
there are several varieties, varying in gross weight from 300 to 500
pounds; height, 48 inches; horns, 24 inches.

HIGH VELD, properly Hoogeveld (d), high country; the plateau, about 5000
to 6000 feet above sea-level.

HONEY-BIRD, the honey guide (several species; family, _Indicatoriae_).

HONEY-SUCKER, sun bird (several species; family, _Nectariniidae_).

HORSE-SICKNESS, a lung affection prevalent during summer in low-lying
parts; generally fatal; caused by microbes introduced in the blood by
some insect.

IMPALA (n), an antelope (_Aepyceros melampus_); habitat, Bushveld;
weight, 140 pounds; horns, up to 20 inches, straight.

IMPI (_pronounced_ impey) (n), an army or body of armed natives gathered
for or engaged in war.

INDUNA (_pronounced_ in-doo-nah) (n), a head-man, captain, or chief,
great or petty.

INKOS (_pronounced_ in-kos--`os' as in verbose) (n), chief; used as a
term of respect in address or salutation.

INSPAN, properly Enspan (d), to yoke up, harness up, or hitch up.

ISANDHL'WANA, also 'SANDHL'WANA, incorrectly Isandula (_pronounced_
saan-shle-waa-na), meaning `the little hand', the hill which gave the
name to the battle in which the 24th Regiment was annihilated in the
Zulu War, 1879.

KAFFIR CORN, sorghum.

KAHLE (_pronounced_ kaa-shle, corrupted in kitchen-Kaffir to `gaashly')
(n), gently, carefully, pleasantly, well.  `Hamba kahle,' farewell, go
in peace.  `Hlala (_pronounced_ shlala) kahle,' farewell, stay in peace.

KEHLA (_pronounced_ keh-shlaa) (n), a native of certain age and position
entitled to wear the head ring.  Dutch, _ring kop_--ring head.

KERRIE, or KIRRIE, native sticks used for fighting, frequently knobbed;
hence, knob-kerrie.

KETSHWAYO (_pronounced_ ketsh-wy-o), incorrectly Cetywayo, fourth and
last of the great Zulu kings.

KLIPSPRINGER (d), a small antelope, in appearance and habit rather like
chamois (_Oreotragus saltator_) (_literally_. a rock-jumper).

KLOOF (d), a gorge.

KNEEHALTER (d), to couple the head to one fore leg by a reim or strap
attached to the halter, closely enough to prevent the animal from moving

KNOORHAAN, commonly, but incorrectly, Koorhaan or Koraan, (d), the
smaller bustard (_literally_ scolding cock).

KOODOO, properly KUDU (n) (_Strepsiceros capensis_).  Habitat, rugged
bushy country.  Height, 5 feet; weight, 600 pounds; horns, up to 48
inches straight, and 66 inches on curve.

KOPJE (_pronounced_ copy) (d), a hill (_literally_ a little head).

KRAAL (_pronounced_ in English crawl) (d), an enclosure for cattle,
sheep, etc, a corral; also a collection of native huts, the home of a
family, the village of a chief or tribe.

KRANS (d), often spelt KRANTZ (German) (D. _krans_, a circlet or crown),
a precipitous face or coronet of rock on a hill or mountain.

LAGAVAAN, a huge water lizard, the monitor.  Cape Dutch, _lagewaan_
(pure Dutch, _laguaan_) (_Varanus niloticus_).  Maximum length up to 8

LOOPER, round shot for fowling-piece, about four times the size of buck

MARULA, in Zulu UMGANO, a tree which furnishes soft white wood, which is
carved into bowls, spoons, etc; fruit eaten or fermented for drink
(_Sclerocarya caffra_).

MEERKAT (d), a small animal of the mongoose kind (properly applied to
_Suricata tetradactyla_, but loosely to several species).

MIDDLEVELD, properly MIDDELVELD (d), the mixed country lying between the
High veld and the Bushveld.

NEK-STROP (d), the neck-strap, or reim, which, attached to the
yokeskeys, keeps the yoke in place.

NIX (d), nothing (from D. _niets_).

ORIBI (n), a small antelope (_Ourebia scoparia_).  Weight, 30 pounds;
height, 24 inches; horns, 6 inches.

OUTSPAN, properly UITSPAN (d), to unyoke or unharness; also the camp
where one has outspanned, and places where it is customary, or by law
permitted, to outspan.

PAUW (_pronounced_ pow) (d), the great bustard (_literally_ peacock).

PANDA, properly 'MPANDE (n), the third of the great Zulu kings.

PEZULU (n), on top, up, above.

PARTRIDGE, PHEASANT, names applied somewhat loosely to various species
of francolin.

POORT (_pronounced_ pooh-rt) (d), a gap or gorge in a range of hills
(_literally_ gate).

QUAGGA, ZEBRA (correctly applied to _Equus quagga_, now extinct, but
still applied to the various species of zebra found in South Africa).

REIM (_pronounced_ reem) (d), a stout strip of raw hide.

REIMPJE (_pronounced_ reempy) (d), a small reim.

RIETBUCK, properly (d) Rietbok (_pronounced_ reet-buck), reed buck
(_Cervicapra arundinum_).  Height, 3 feet 6 inches; gross weight, 140
pounds; horns, male only, up to 16 inches.

SABLE ANTELOPE (_Hippotragus niger_; Dutch, _zwaart witpens_).  Habitat,
bushveld.  Height, 4 feet 6 inches; weight, 350 pounds; horns, up to 48
inches on curve.

SAKUBONA (n), Zulu equivalent of `Good-day.'

SALTED HORSE, one which has had horse-sickness, and is thus considered
immune (as in small-pox); hence `salted' is freely used colloquially as
meaning acclimatised, tough, hardened, etc.

SCHANS (_pronounced_ skaans) (d), a stone or earth breastwork for
defence, very common in old native wars.

SCHELM (d), a rascal; like Scotch skellum.

SCHERM (_pronounced_ skarem) a protection of bush or trees, usually
against wild animals.

SJAMBOK (_pronounced_ in English shambok, in Dutch saam-bok) (d),
tapering raw-hide whip made from rhinoceros, hippopotamus, or giraffe

SKEY (_pronounced_ skay), a yokeskey; short for Dutch _jukskei_.

SLOOT (d), a ditch.

SPAN (d), a team.

SPOOR (d), footprints; also a trail of man, animal, or vehicle.

SPRINGBUCK, properly SPRINGBOK (d), a small antelope (_Antidorcas
(Gazella) euchore_).  Habitat, high veld and other open grass country.
Height, 30 inches; weight, up to 90 pounds; horns, 19 inches (literally.
jumping buck).

SPRUIT (_pronounced_ sprait; also commonly, but incorrectly, sproot)
(d), a stream.

SQUIRREL, or TREE Rat, native name 'MCHINAAND (_Funisciurus palliatus_).

STEMBUCK (Cape Dutch, _stembok_ or _steinbok_, from the pure Dutch
_steenbok_, the Alpine ibex), a small antelope (_Raphicerus
campestais_).  Height, 22 inches; weight, 25 pounds; horns, 5 inches.

STOEP (_pronounced_ stoop) (d), a raised promenade or paved verandah in
front or at sides of a house.

TAMBUKI GRASS, also TAMBOOKIE, and sometimes TAMBUTI (n), a very rank
grass; in places reaches 15 feet high and stem diameter half inch.

TICK, or RHINOCEROS, BIRD, the `ox-pecker' (_Buphaga Africana_).

TIGER.  In South Africa the leopard is generally called a tiger; first
so described by the Dutch--_tijger_.

TOCK-TOCKIE, a slow-moving beetle, incapable of flight.  Gets its name
from its means of signalling by rapping the abdomen on the ground
(_tenebrionid_ beetle of the genus _Psammodes_).

TREK (d) (_literally_ to pull), to move off or go on a journey; a
journey, an expedition--_eg_, the Great Trek (or exodus of Boers from
Cape Colony, 1836-48); also, and commonly, the time, distance, or
journey from one outspan to another.

TREK GEAR, the traction gear, chain, yokes, etc, of a waggon.  The Boer
pioneers had no chains, and used reims plaited into a stout `rope';
hence _trek-touw_, or pulling-rope.

TSESSEBE, an antelope, one of the hartebeeste family (_Damaliscus
lunatus_; Dutch, bastard hartebeeste).  Height, 48 inches; weight. 300
pounds; horns, 15 inches.

TSETSE FLY, a grey fly, little larger than the common house-fly, whose
bite is fatal to domesticated animals.

TWIGGLE, little people's word for the excited movement of a small dog's
tail, believed to be a combination of wriggle and twiddle.

UMFAAN (n), a boy.

UMGANAAM (n), my friend.

UMLUNGU (n), the native word to describe a white man.

VELD (_pronounced_ felt) (d), the open or unoccupied country;
uncultivated or grazing land.

VLEI (_pronounced_ flay) (d), a small, shallow lake, a swamp, a
depression intermittently damp, a water meadow.

VOORLOOPER (d) (_literally_ front walker), the leader, the boy who leads
the front oxen; the _pat'-intambu_ (Zulu for `take the reim').

VOORSLAG (_pronounced_ foor-slaach) (d) (_literally_ front lash or
skin), the strip of buck hide which forms the fine end of a whip-lash.

WATERBUCK (_Cobus ellipsiprymnus_; Dutch, _kring-gat_).  Height, 48
inches; weight, 350 pounds; horns, males only, 36 inches.

WILDEBEESTE (_pronounced_ vill-de-beast) (d) (_literally_ wild cattle),
the brindled gnu, blue wildebeeste (_Connochaetes taurinus_).  Height, 4
feet 6 inches; weight, 400 pounds; horns, 30 inches.

WILD DOG, the `Cape hunting dog' (_Lycaon pictus_).

WOODEN ORANGE, fruit of the klapper (a species of _Strychnos_).

WOLF, the usual name for the hyena, derived from _tijger-wolf_, the pure
Dutch name for the spotted hyena.

YOKESKEY, the wooden slat which, coupled by nekstrops, holds the yoke in

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jock of the Bushveld" ***

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