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´╗┐Title: Wild Adventures in Wild Places
Author: Stables, Gordon, 1840-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wild Adventures in Wild Places" ***

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Wild Adventures in Wild Places
By Gordon Stables
Published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co, London, Paris & New York.
This edition dated 1881.

CHAPTER ONE.

PART I--THE MOORS AND FENS OF ENGLAND.

IN THE DEPTHS OF THE FOREST--FRANK AND HIS TOAD--A DAY WITH THE HOUNDS--
THE FURIES' LEAP--"THAT FOX WAS MY FATE."

There is no doubt at all that when young Frank Willoughby brought out
his book with him, and seated himself on the trunk of the old fallen
tree, he meant to read it; but this intention had soon been abandoned,
and, at the moment our tale commences, the book lay on the grass at his
feet, and Frank was dreaming.  He was not asleep, not a bit of it; his
eyes were as wide open as yours or mine are at this moment; but there
was a far-away look in them, and you could tell by the cloud that seemed
to hang on his lowered brow that his thoughts were none of the
pleasantest.  He was not alone, at least not quite, for, not a yard away
from his feet, there sat gazing up into his face--why, what do you
think?  A great toad!  Do not start; men in solitude have taken up with
stranger companions than this.  And Frank was solitary, or at least he
conceived himself to be so; and day after day he left his home on the
borders of the great forest of Epping, and wandered down here into the
depths of the wood, and seated himself idly on that log as we see him
now.  The toad had come to know him, and he to know the toad.  He even
brought crumbs for him, which the batrachian never failed to discuss,
and seemed to enjoy.  So the two took a kindly interest in each other's
welfare.

On this particular forenoon the summer sun was very bright; it shimmered
down through the trees like a shower of gold, it glittered on the
grass-stems, it brightened the petals of the wild flowers, and burnished
the backs of myriads of beetles, as they opened their cloaks and tried
to fly in it.  No wonder that on this glorious morning the birds sang in
every tree, and that the happy hum of insect life was everywhere around.

"Well, old gentleman," said Frank at last, addressing the toad, "you are
like myself, I think; you are not over happy."

"Pooh!" the toad seemed to reply.  "I'm enjoying the sunshine and the
free, fresh air, ain't I?  My house isn't many yards round the corner.
I'm a jolly old bachelor, that's what I am, and there's no life like it.
No, I'm not unhappy, if you are.  Pooh!"

"Heigho!" sighed Frank.

But list!  There is some one singing, some one hidden at present by the
trees, but evidently coming nearer and nearer to where Frank is
sitting--a rich, mellow, manly voice; and the song comes directly from
the heart, that you can easily tell, and from a gladsome heart, too, and
one in unison with the freshness and brightness to be seen on every
hand--

  "I wish I were as I have been,
  Hunting the hart in forests green.
  With bended bow and bloodhound free;
  For that's the life that's meet for me."

Next moment, brushing the boughs aside, a tall, handsome young man of
some five-and-twenty years appeared upon the scene.  Brown he was as to
beard and whiskers, bronzed as to cheeks and brow, and clear in eye as a
little child.

"Why, Chisholm!" cried Frank, starting up and grasping his friend's
extended hand.

"Why, Frank!" cried Chisholm, "you terrible old recluse; and so I have
found you at last, have I?  Fairly ferreted you out.  Sit down, old man,
and give an account of yourself."

"Well, you see," said Willoughby, "I--I want to go up for my degree, and
I--the fact is I've been reading."

"Ha, ha, ha!" roared Chisholm, laughing till the forest rang again.
"Been reading, have you?"  As he spoke he kicked the book that lay on
the grass.  "Been reading Byron--ha, ha, ha!  I do believe the boy's in
love."

Young Frank turned red all over.

"Why, how do you know?" he said, "and how did you find me out, here in
the forest?  Chisholm, you're a wizard, or something worse."

"Been to your father's house, dear boy," replied Chisholm, explaining.
"Splendid fellow, your father, by the way.  Enjoyed some rare sport and
fun--but missed you sadly, you may be sure; but your father told me
everything.  `My young rascal,'--these are his very words, Frank--`my
young rascal,' he said, `has fallen in love, and wants to marry right
away; of course I couldn't give my consent, because he is only a boy,
you know, so he went into a pet, and has taken lodgings somewhere on the
borders of Epping Forest, under the pretence of reading.'  And that,
Frank, was the only clue to your whereabouts that I could get; but you
see I've found you, my boy.  And now tell me all about it."

"A most modest request, I do declare," said Frank, with a smile; "but
never mind, I never did have a secret from you, and it may do me good to
unburden my mind."

"That it will," said Chisholm; "but before you begin just pitch Byron at
that ugly toad there, will you?"

"That I certainly won't; he has been my only companion for weeks."

"Well, well, well," said Chisholm, "buried in the depths of Epping
Forest, his only companion a toad, the once gay and jolly Frank
Willoughby.  Why you must be _deeply_ in love."

"I am, and that is a fact, and if you only saw the object of my
affections, I do not think you would wonder much.  She is--"

"Now Frank, dear boy," Chisholm said, "I must apologise for interrupting
you; but pray do not begin to dilate on the charms of your fair
enslaver.  I know she must be everything that is good and beautiful,
else she never could have captivated you.  Just tell me how it happened,
and where it happened."

"It happened down in Wales," replied Frank, "that is _where_ it
happened; but the day, Chisholm, that was big with my fate, was a day
with the hounds.  You know how fond I am of hunting, don't you?"

"I know," said Chisholm, laughing, "that there used not to be a better
man than yourself, Frank, in the field; that you crossed the very
stiffest country at the very heels of the hounds, and though you often
said you didn't like to see a poor fox broken up, you managed,
nevertheless, to be always in at the death.  That is what you _used_ to
be, my boy.  What you are now may be quite another thing, since a lady
has come to be woven up in the web of your history.  Remember the story
of Hercules, Frank."

"Oh! bother Hercules," cried Frank impatiently; "pray let me get on with
my own story."

"Heave round then," said Chisholm.

"Well, then, when I arrived this year, early in spring, back from my
little trip to Malta, I brought with me a letter of introduction to
General Lyell, of Penmawhr Castle, in Brecknockshire.  He keeps a nice
little pack of smallish foxhounds--oh! such rare ones for a run--they
can puzzle out the coldest scent, and when they find, they follow in
such beautiful form, that it seems to me you could cover the pack with
the mainsail of my father's yacht."

"Go on," cried Chisholm, "you're warming to your subject; there's life
in you yet."

"You may be sure," continued Frank, "that I did not take long to forward
my letter, and in due course an invitation followed.  `Hounds meet at
the Three Cross Roads,' ran the epistle, `on Tuesday, the 9th.  Come and
spend the Easter holidays with us, and take us as you find us.'  There
were three clear days before the 9th, but my impatience would not let me
wait.  I sent Bob, my man, down with my mare the next morning, and
followed on the same evening.  My man had chosen the best inn in the
village, for I meant to meet the general for the first time with the
hounds, and show him what sort of metal my mare and I were made of.

"Next morning, to my sorrow, the ground was hard with frost, the sky
clear and blue, and the wind blowing high from the east.  The day after
there was no improvement, and my heart sank to zero; but my spirits rose
that day, because down went the glass, and the wind veered round to
about a south and by west.  The sunset was a gorgeous one, and long
after the god of day had sunk behind the hills, crimson clouds lying
along in a sky of palest, purest yellow, shading off into the blue dome
above, where bright stars shone, gave token of a beautiful to-morrow.  I
was up betimes, you may be certain, and found to my joy that a little
rain had fallen.  I ate a huntsman's breakfast, and then dressed.  I
donned a new coat of scarlet--in fact, it was so new that I felt ashamed
of it, and had half a mind to make Bob splash it a bit with mud.  It was
well splashed before night, I can tell you.

"The meet wasn't a large one, but men and hounds and horses all looked
as if they had plenty of go in them, and they required it too.  The
country is a rough, rolling one, and there is no want of stone fences;
so you need pith and pluck if you'd keep the hounds in view.

"Not knowing any one, I kept aloof for a time until they drew a cover or
two, until the mellow music of the hounds, mingling with the cheering
notes of the huntsman's horn, told me they had found, and that the run
had commenced.  Across country, straight almost as the crow could fly,
for ten miles, that old fox led us.  Then he changed course near a
plantation, and took us five miles in another direction.  Then, doubling
round, he took us almost straight away back, so that the stragglers once
more had a chance of joining the hunt.  But the terribly rough state of
the country told on all but the best of us, and if we were few in number
to start, we were still less numerous when the fox finally took to earth
and refused to show again.  A fine old gentlemanly fox, I can assure
you, who had apparently enjoyed the run as much as any of us, and having
done so, bade us good-morning and retired.

"I had made acquaintance with the general, and we were laughing and
talking together when he suddenly started and turned pale.

"`Great heavens!' he cried, `it is Eenie, my daughter.  Black Bess, her
mare, has bolted with her, and is heading straight for the Furies' Leap.
She is lost! she is lost!'

"I hardly heard the last word.  I had struck the spurs into my own good
mare, and was off like a meteor.  I could see the lady's terrible
danger.  She was heading for an awful precipice.  I saw I might
intercept her if I crossed her bows, as a sailor would say.  It was a
ride for life--we near each other, riding swift as arrows.  Onward she
comes--onwards I dash, and we are barely fifty yards from the Furies'
Leap, when our horses come into collision with fearful force.

"I remember nothing more until I open my eyes and find myself in bed,
powerless to move.  But a beautiful young girl rose from a seat near the
window, and, approaching the bed, gave me to drink, but enjoined me to
be still.  This was Miss Lyell; she nursed me back to life, and the next
few weeks seemed all one happy dream."

"She loves you?"

"She does, and has promised never to be another's."

"And she'll be yours, Frank, my boy.  Come, I've news to give you.
Neither your father nor her father object, except on the score of your
youth and hers, and your inexperience of the world.  Now, depend upon
it, Frank, what your father advises is best.  He wants you to spend your
next few years in travelling."

"And I will," cried Frank; "I'll seek adventures and dangers in every
part of the globe--among the snows of the north, amidst the jungles of
India, in Afric's bush, and the wild plain-lands of far distant
Australia.  I care not if I am killed; life without my Eenie is not
worth having."

"Bravo!  Frank," cried Chisholm, jumping up and shaking him by the hand.
"I'll go with you; and my friend, Fred Freeman, will go too.  There's
luck in odd numbers.  But don't talk about being killed; it is time that
we want to kill, and all the wild beasts we can draw a bead upon."

Frank left the gloomy forest a happier man than he had entered it.  He
was laughing right merrily too.

"Bless that dear old fox, though," he was saying; "may he always be
jolly and fat and frolicsome 'mid summer's sunshine or winter's snow.
That fox was my fate."

CHAPTER TWO.

FRANK UNDERGOES THE PROCESS OF "HARDENING OFF"--CAMP-LIFE ON THE BANKS
OF THE THAMES--A WEEK AMONG RABBITS--"'WARE HARE."

There was something about Fred Freeman which is difficult to describe,
but which caused everybody to like him.  He had the manners of a
high-bred English gentleman, but that did not, of course, constitute the
something that made him a favourite, because _bon ton_, manners are
happily not rare.  However, there's no harm in my trying to describe him
to you, because he is one of our three heroes.  Fred wasn't much, if
any, above the middle height; he had a short dark beard and moustache--
they were not black, however.  He was very regular in features--
handsome, in fact, handsome when he was in his quiet moods, which he
very frequently was, and even more so when merry, for then he was simply
all sunshine, and it made you laugh to look at him.  He was very
unobtrusive.  He was a capital shot, and a daring hunter and sportsman,
but never boasted about his own doings.  His constitution was as tough
as india-rubber, and as hard as nails.  If there be anything wanting in
this description, the reader must supply it himself.  Anyhow, Fred was a
genuine good fellow.  He had hitherto travelled a good deal,
sport-intent, chiefly on the Continent; but he jumped at the proposal to
go round the world on "a big shoot," as he called it.

Freeman was a bachelor, and said he would always remain so; Chisholm
O'Grahame was also a bachelor.  Perhaps he was seen to the best
advantage when his foot was on his native heath, and a covey of grouse
ahead of him.  He was one of the so-called "lucky dogs" of this world.
On the death of an uncle, he would come into a fine old Highland estate.
Meanwhile he had nothing to do, and plenty of time to do it in.  After
his visit to Frank, he went back to see Frank's father, who was
delighted at the success of his mission.

"Ah," said he, "I'm so pleased!  And so you must take the young dog off,
and show him the world.  But look here, he's in your charge, mind you;
and if you take my advice, you'll show him some shooting in England
before you go abroad.  He's only a hot-house plant as yet; he wants
hardening off."

Chisholm laughed.  "I'll harden him off," he said.

And so the hardening-off process commenced at once.  Frank was not
sorry, after all, to leave the gloom of Epping Forest, and commence a
sportsman's life in earnest.  The plan adopted by Chisholm and his
friend, Fred, to "break young Frank in, and to harden him off," was, I
think, a good one.  They were to travel a good deal in England, be here
to-day and away to-morrow, and visit any of the fens or moors or shores
where there was the chance of a week or two of good shooting.

That was one part of the plan.  The other was that they were, as Fred
called it, "to forswear civilisation, and to live in tents;" in other
words, to do a deal of camping out, instead of living in hotels or
houses of any kind.

"How do you think you will like that kind of thing?" asked Chisholm.

"Oh, I think it will be perfectly delightful," said Frank,
enthusiastically.

"But Frank _is_ a bit of a shot, isn't he?" asked Fred.

"Always during vacation times," said Frank, speaking for himself.  "I
used to potter around my father's property.  I have done so ever since I
was a boy."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Chisholm.  "Why, you're only a boy yet."

"All stuff," said Frank stoutly.  "I'll be twenty next birthday."

"Well, well," said Chisholm; "but tell Fred what you used to shoot."

"Oh, anything about the farms, you know, bar the song-birds; father
thought it cruel to kill them.  But there were rats, such lots of rats,
and sometimes a hawk or a rabbit, or even a hare.  Then there were the
wild pigeons--wary beggars they are, too; I used to wait for them under
the fir-trees."

"What, and kill them sitting?" asked Fred.

"Well," said Frank, "it isn't sportsman-like, I know; but I could hardly
ever get near them else.  Then the young rooks were great fun in spring;
and mind you, there is many a worse dish to set before a hungry man than
rook-pie."

"I believe you, lad," said Fred.

"Well, I've shot stoats and weasels by the score; and I once shot a
polecat, and another day an otter, and another day an owl."

"Well, well, well," cried Fred.  "What bags you must have made, to be
sure!  Never mind, you've got the makings of a good sportsman in you.
Chisholm and I will bring you out, never fear.  Did you often go
owl-shooting?"

"No," replied Frank; "I only remember one owl, and I don't know which of
the two of us had the bigger fright--Ponto the pointer, or myself.  I
had killed nothing that day but one old rook, a few field-mice, and a
snake or two, and we were coming home in the dusk, when some great bird
flew heavily out of the ivy-covered old tree near the churchyard.  `Down
you come, whatever you are,' says I; and bang! bang! went both barrels.
He flew a goodly way, but finally fell; and off went Ponto, and off went
I in search of him.  Ponto _was_ in a way, I can tell you; he wasn't
pointing half prettily.  `Hoo! hoo! hoo!' the owl was screaming.  `Come
a bit nearer, and out come both your eyes.'  `I'll stand here, anyhow,'
Ponto seemed saying, `till master comes up.'  Well, Chisholm, when I
came up and saw the creature, it looked so like one of the winged images
you see on tombstones, that, troth, I thought I'd shot a cherub of some
sort."

"Well done, Frank," cried Chisholm, laughing.  "Now," he continued,
pulling a letter from his pocket, "How will this suit?  It is from a
farmer friend of mine in Berkshire, a rough and right sort of a fellow.
He farms about five hundred acres close to the Thames.  He invites us
down for a rabbit shoot, shall we go?"

"Oh! by all means," cried Frank.

"I'm ready," said Fred quietly.

And that "rabbit shoot" began Frank Willoughby's sporting adventures.
They had a whole week of it, and very much they enjoyed it.  Chestnut
Farm was a dear old-fashioned, rustic, rumble-tumble of a place, with a
rolling country all around it, and the river quietly meandering through
its midst.  They pitched their tent not far from the river; under canvas
they lived and ate and slept.  Fred Freeman was a capital cook; he built
his fire of wood and hung his kettle-pot gipsy fashion on a tripod, and
the curries and stews he used to turn out were quite delightful.  The
farmer and his wife would fain have had them to live in their hospitable
dwelling, but being told that Frank was undergoing the process of
hardening off and general tuition in camp and sporting life, the good
farmer looked at the young man for a moment or two from top to bottom,
just as if he had been a colt.

"Oh!" he said, with a grunt of satisfaction, "bein' broke, is he?  Well,
a rare, fine, upstanding one he be.  He'll do."

But the farmer's wife sent to the tent every day the freshest of butter
and sweetest of creamy milk, with eggs that never had time to get cool,
and so, on the whole, they were very well off.

It was deliciously comfortable, so thought Frank, this camping out.  His
bed was a hammock, and, though there were at first some things he looked
upon as drawbacks, he soon got used to them.  If a heavy shower came on
it made noise enough to waken the seven sleepers, and large drops used
to ooze in through the canvas.  The gnats' bites were hard to put up
with, but Chisholm comforted him by bidding him "just wait until he went
to India and had a touch of the jungle bugs."  Early to bed and early to
rise was our heroes' motto; early to bed to calm and dreamless slumber,
such as your dwellers within brick walls never know; early to rise to
have a header in the river, and to return to breakfast as fresh as a
jack; early to rise to get the lines and punt clear and ready for a few
hours' fishing; early to rise if only to hear the birds singing, to
watch the squirrels skipping about aloft among the trees, or to observe
the thousand-and-one queer ways of the tiny dwellers by the river side,
friends in fur and friends in feather.  Why, in one week Frank felt
himself growing quite a naturalist.

They had come down to shoot rabbits, but it must not be supposed that
this was all the sport they had down by the charming river; for many
wild-fowl fell to Frank's gun, and he procured a good many beautiful
specimens of birds, which he took the pains to skin and preserve for the
purpose of having them stuffed.  A good deal of their time was spent in
fishing.  They did not catch a Thames salmon, it is true, and grayling
were not in season; but there were trout and perch and jack in
abundance, and one day, greatly to his joy, Frank landed a lordly pike.

"I must tell you this, Mr O'Grahame and gen'l'm'n all," said the farmer
to our friends on the very first day of their arrival, "I have an order
to kill five hundred to seven hundred rabbits, so there is plenty of
sport for you all, and 'specially for the young 'un that's bein' broke;
but mind, gen'l'm'n, 'ware hare, that's wot I says, 'ware hare.  My
man'll go with ye and see it is all right like, and my boys will carry
the bags."

"Whatever does he mean by `'ware hare'?" asked Frank afterwards.

"Why, that we mustn't shoot a hare on any account," replied Chisholm;
"rabbits and nothing but rabbits."

"Gearge," the farmer's man, went with them every day to help to carry
the rabbits our sportsmen killed.  On the other hand, there were boys in
the rear to help Gearge.  Besides Gearge and the boys, there were two
dogs--a beautiful setter and a pointer, but good useful country dogs--
dogs that did not think it beneath their dignity to retrieve as well as
set and point.  The most curious part of the whole business to young
Frank, was the fact that these dogs knew a hare from a rabbit at first
sight far better than he did.  Well, to a young sportsman, to see a
beautiful hare pass within easy shooting distance was a great temptation
to fire.  Frank had his doubts whether Gearge always knew one from the
other, or t'other from which, because, no matter what it was, if Gearge
saw only a bit of brown fur flitting from one bush to another, he sang
out in stentorian tones, "'Ware hare."

So it was "'Ware hare" all day long with Gearge.  But once Frank did
make a mistake, or his gun did, for the latter seemed to rise to his
shoulder of its own accord, and next moment a hare was dead.

The pointer brought it and laid it solemnly down at Frank's feet, and
looked up into his face.

"See what you've done," he seemed to say; "here is a pretty kettle of
fish.  What do you think of yourself? and how do you feel?"

And when Gearge came up and saw the result of the accident, his red,
round face, which, as a rule, was wreathed in smiles, got long, and his
jaw fell, while his eyes seemed wanting to jump out of their sockets.

"Well, I never?" said Gearge, rubbing the palms of his hands nervously
in his cow-gown, "and I warned ye sir, too."

"Bag him," said Frank, "and never mind."

"Bag 'im!" cried Gearge, aghast.  "Bag _he_, bag a _hare_!  No, sir, not
if I knows it.  Master'd give me the sack myself.  We'll leave 'im to
the blue-bottles and the beetles; but oh! sir, in future, 'ware hare."

"You seem fond of hare-shooting," said Fred that evening, when Frank
told him his adventure, or rather misadventure.  "Why, if you had been
where I was last winter you would have had hare-shooting to your heart's
content."

"Beaters was it you had?" asked Chisholm.

"Yes, we had no dogs; but good sport, mind you--right and left
sometimes, and one to each barrel if you only chose to hold straight."

About the third morning, when Gearge came to the tent as usual, his face
seemed rounder and redder than ever; his eyes, too, were so wreathed in
smile-begotten wrinkles that they had almost disappeared.  It was
moreover observed that the pockets of his cow-gown were more bulky than
usual.

"We'll have a rare lark to-day," said Gearge, pulling out first one
polecat ferret and then another.

And so they had; for what with working the banks all the morning and
shooting the rabbits in the open that succeeded in running the blockade,
they had wonderful bags.  Though Frank didn't say much, he was glad to
get back to the tent; his feet were swollen, and he could hardly carry
his gun.  He was certainly "bein' broke" with a vengeance.

CHAPTER THREE.

FRANK IS THOROUGHLY "HARDENED OFF"--DEER-STALKING IN THE HIGHLANDS--
PARTRIDGE, PHEASANT, AND DUCK SHOOTING--"GOOD-BYE"--"NONE BUT THE BRAVE
DESERVE THE FAIR."

"How does he harden, Fred?" cried Chisholm, bursting all unannounced one
morning into the dining-room of a North Wales hotel, where Freeman and
young Willoughby were just putting the finishing touches to a glorious
breakfast, with boiled eggs and mountain trout.  Chisholm had been
absent for a whole week.  "How does he harden?"

"I think he is getting on famously.  He's curing nicely."

"I declare," said Frank, laughing, "you talk of me as if I were a ham or
something; and Chisholm asks about me in the same tone of voice he would
use if he wanted to know how your meerschaum coloured."

"'Cause we're interested in you, dear boy," said Chisholm, feeling
Frank's arm.  "But, bless my heart," he continued, "there is a biceps
for you; why, it's as hard as a hawser!  And there's a sunburnt face for
you!  Waiter, bring the beef.  And what are you doing, boys?"

"Well," said Fred, "you know we've been two months now under canvas, so
we thought we would try a week of civilisation.  But we've had rare
sport enough, fishing in river and fishing in lake, and shooting almost
whatever we came across--rabbits, leverets, pigeons, plovers, anything."

"Bad boys," said Chisholm.  "But never mind, we're off to-morrow."

"Where away?"

"To the Highlands, the stern Scottish Highlands," said Chisholm.  "I'm
promised a week among the deer.  You're hard enough for that now,
Frank."

"What a ubiquitous trio we are, to be sure!" said Fred.

They certainly seemed so, reader; for two days after the foregoing
conversation they were dining at a quiet little hotel in Beauley, and by
four of the clock next morning they were on their way to the house of
Duncan McPhee, the head keeper of the great forest of Cairntree, one of
the wildest tracts of country in the wild North.  Though termed a
forest, it is only partially wooded; for gigantic hills, bare and
rugged, tower skywards every here and there from amidst the pine-trees,
and there are, too, vast tracts of bare brae or moorland, covered only
with heather, the home of the grouse and the ptarmigan.  Deer abound in
this forest in countless herds; but, saving the houses of the keepers,
you might journey for days in all directions without seeing the smoke
from a single habitation.

Early as our heroes were abroad, Duncan and his dogs were there to meet
them.  But their first day was a blank, and they returned very tired and
somewhat disheartened to the keeper's house, where, putting up with
Highland fare, they determined to stay all night.  The next day they
were rewarded with the sight of deer in hundreds, but that was all; the
deer were too wild and wary to reach.  More than once that day, as some
noble stag stood for a moment on knoll or brae-top, scenting the wind,
then dashing wildly off adown the glen, the words of Walter Scott came
to Frank's mind--

  "The crested leader, proud and high,
  Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky,
  A moment gazed adown the dale,
  A moment snuffed the tainted gale;
  Then, as the headmost foe appeared.
  With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
  And stretching forward free and far,
  Sought the wild heaths of Uam Var."

But the third was a never-to-be-forgotten day, for Frank brought down
his first stag, and it was a "royal."  Luck seemed to set in after this.
It never rains but it pours, you know, and nobody had any reason to be
dissatisfied with that week spent among the red deer in the wilds of
Cairntree.

I wish I had space wherein to tell you of one-half of the delightful
sporting adventures our heroes had during the many months Frank was
"bein' broke," or of the many happy, pleasant days they had to look back
to, when afterwards sojourning with wild beasts and wilder men--of days
spent among the partridges, or with the cockers at work, or following
the pheasants.  They all agreed that there was but little true sport
attached to pheasant-shooting, the birds are so tame.

"It's just like shooting hens," Chisholm remarked.

But perhaps their dearest recollections went back to the time they spent
in duck shooting.  These were days they might have marked in their
diaries with a red cross--spent entirely under canvas they were, in true
gipsy fashion; for although the season was autumn, the weather was still
bright and warm, and the nights just cool enough to be pleasant.  By
marshes or lonely moorlands, by inland lakes and ponds, or by wooded
friths and estuaries, following up the wild-fowl never failed to give
them the very greatest of pleasure and sport.  In these adventures their
chief companion was a dog of the Irish water-spaniel type, and Pattie by
name.  Red all over was Pattie, and one mass of ringlets, which even a
whole day's swimming in sea or river failed to unravel; he even had a
fringe or top-knot over his bonnie brow, which quite set off his
peculiar style of beauty.  Pattie's style of beauty was what would be
designated in Scotland "the daft."  Mind, you couldn't help loving
Pattie--I defy you not to love him if you tried; but he had such queer
ways, and such a funny face, that you couldn't look at him long without
laughing.  Pattie was truly Irish, but grand at his work nevertheless,
whether retrieving a dead duck or a maimed one.  When plunging into the
water after the latter, "Be quiet wid yer skraiching," Pattie would seem
to say.  "Sure I'll fetch you out, and you'll never feel it at all, at
all."  But you ought to have seen Pattie coming up out of the river with
a dead duck that he probably had had to swim a long distance against the
tide for; there was a pride in his beaming eye that my pen would attempt
in vain to depict.  "What do ye think av me now?"  Pattie would seem to
say.

But summer and autumn and the first months of winter wore away, and,
after spending a whole fortnight at the white hare-shooting among the
mountains of Perthshire--and harder work I defy you to find--Frank was
at last declared thoroughly broken in, completely hardened off.

"A man," said Chisholm, "that can stand a week or two among white hares,
and not feel too tired to sleep at night, is fit for anything.  Now,
boys," he added, "what do you say to a run right away up to the polar
ice-fields?"

"I'm in," said Fred quietly.

"Oh!" said Chisholm, "you're always in for anything.  If I asked you to
take a trip to the moon you'd jump at it."

"Or over it," said Fred, smiling, "like the cow in the poem of `Hey,
diddle diddle;' but are you in earnest about the ice-fields?"

"Downright."

"Well," said Frank, with assumed modesty, "if you think I'm `broke'
enough, please I'd like to go too."

"Bravo!" cried Chisholm O'Grahame, "that settles the question."

They made arrangements to sail in a seal-and-whale ship in February.
They got an introduction to a captain of one of these, and he gladly
undertook to convey them to Greenland and back, "free, gratis, and for
nothing, except the pleasure of their company, and the skins and blubber
they would no doubt kill."  That was how the captain expressed it.
"But, mind you," he said, "you'll have to rough it a bit."

"We don't mind that," said Chisholm.

Before he left for the far distant north, Frank Willoughby spent some
weeks at General Lyell's castle.  Happy, happy weeks they were, and how
quickly, too, they fled away!  I could make you feel very sentimental
and "gushive," reader, if I told you all that passed between the lovely
young Eenie and our hero Frank, but I never tell tales out of school, so
there.  I may just say, however, that, when the last moment _did_ come,
poor Eenie could hardly breathe the fond "good bye" for the tears that
she could not repress.

The General's adieu was a hearty one.

"Good-bye," he said, "keep up a good heart, and," he added laughingly,
as he patted Frank on the back, "remember--

"`None but the brave deserve the fair.'"

CHAPTER FOUR.

PART II--THE POLAR ICE-FIELDS.

OUTWARD BOUND--NIGHT IN THE PACK--THE AURORA--THE AWFUL SILENCE OF THE
ICE-FIELDS--SEALS!  SEALS!--THE BATTLE WITH THE BLADDER-NOSES--JACK IN
THE BOX WITH A VENGEANCE--A FIGHT WITH WALRUSES.

The good ship _Grampus_ slipped away from her moorings on the 13th of
February, 18--, and steamed slowly seaward from the port of Peterhead,
North Britain, hound for the wild and desolate regions that surround the
pole.  She steamed slowly away in the very teeth of a breeze of winds
that might have frightened a man of less daring and pluck than Captain
Anderson, for the sea was grey and stormy, the sky was leaden and
threatening, and the very sea-birds that screamed around the vessel's
bows seemed to warn him that there was danger on the deep.  But the
Captain heeded them not.  He had said he would sail on this day, and he
did, for well he knew what his vessel could now do, and had done before;
besides, he was a true sailor, and had all a sailor's impatience to
begin the voyage.

"It looks a bit squally," he said to the pilot as he bade him adieu,
"and we may have a dirty day or two, but the _Grampus_ can stand it, and
I'm not the man to linger in the harbour one half-hour after I'm ready
to start.  Good-bye, old man."

The _Grampus_ was a steam brig of some three hundred and fifty tons,
fitted with powerful engines, and a screw that could be hoisted up out
of the water when sail was on her.  Built of wood, she was as stout and
strong a ship as ever clove the waves.  And she needed all her strength
too--there was a wide and stormy ocean to cross, and there was ice to
plough through that no fragile ship dare ever face.  The captain was the
owner of the vessel; and many a voyage, and not unsuccessful ones
either, had he made to the polar ice-fields, but the present one was
fated to be the most eventful of all.

From the very commencement of the cruise, until the first ice was
sighted, the wind kept steadily ahead, and the seas kept washing over
the brave brig from stem to stern.  But she was not to be daunted, so
steadily she steamed on northwards, ever northwards.

A week after the last of the lonely isles of Shetland had sunk like a
little cloud beneath the southern horizon they were far away at sea--
indeed, there was nothing to be seen from the masthead, only the great
tumbling seas that dashed their sprays high over the funnel.  Even the
birds had left them, all save that strange mysterious creature that is
ever seen wheeling around ships sailing over the broad Atlantic, or
crossing the northern seas, and which naturalists call the stormy
petrel, and mariners Mother Carey's chicken.  No wonder sailors look
upon this bird with something akin to superstition and awe, so dark and
dusky is the creature, the very little white about it serving but to
make its blackness visible; it flits from stormy wave to stormy wave
like a veritable evil spirit.

Our friend Frank, in his voyage to the polar ice-fields, suffered
somewhat from _mal de mer_--it sounds far nicer in French than in
English--but he bravely stuck to the deck.  He was more than once washed
into the lee scuppers, but he had on an oilskin suit of fear-nothing
dimensions; so he just scrambled up again, or in other words, like the
cork leg of the merchant of Rotterdam, he got up "and went on as
before."

The farther north the _Grampus_ got, the shorter grew the days.  Indeed,
they seemed to be sailing into the home of eternal night, only it must
be remembered that the season was yet early, and that in the polar
regions for three months of the year the sun never appears above the
horizon.  If the nights were long, however, it cannot be said they were
dark; they were lighted up with a magnificence never seen in more
southern latitudes.  The sky itself was at times of a deep and
indescribably dark-blue colour, and the stars were great wheels of
sparkling light.  This was in itself a beautiful sight, and our heroes
used to linger on deck till far on in the night, as if under some
pleasant spell.  But what pen can describe the gorgeous splendour of the
northern lights, or Aurora.  Imagine if you can a vast and broad bow, or
arc of a circle, stretched athwart the heavens, twenty times as broad as
any rainbow, and seeming to be ever so much farther away; imagine this
bow to be composed of spears or needles of light--green, blue, crimson,
and yellow--and imagine these spears in constant motion, shooting
upwards and downwards, changing places incessantly, changing colours
constantly, and this too with inconceivable rapidity, and you will be
able to form some faint notion of the wonderful sight the Aurora
presented to the eyes of our astonished travellers.

Reader, I have been alone in the ice-fields by night, while the Aurora
was playing in the heavens above.  You cannot conceive of the solitude
and lonesomeness of such a situation, nor can you form any conception of
the deep, the indescribable silence that reigns in the frozen ocean.
Well, upwards as I gazed at the northern lights, I have heard sounds
emanating from them.  That I do not remember having ever read of
anywhere.  A line of spears would advance from the east and another from
the west; they would meet and commingle with a subdued clashing and
hissing noise, such as you might make by rubbing the palms of the hands
rapidly together.  What this strange sound can be is a mystery that may
never be revealed.

Captain Anderson told our heroes that he never thought the voyage had
begun until the crow's-nest, or out-look barrel, was hoisted to the
mainmast head.

One morning our travellers were awakened by the sound of singing and
shouting, and on going on deck they found the brave skipper rubbing his
hands with glee, as he gazed up at the ascending nest.

"Cheerily does it!" he was crying.  "Heave, lads! heave, heave, and she
goes.  Now, young gentlemen," he continued, "are your rifles in order?
In two days more, if all goes well, I'll show you such sport as you
couldn't even have dreamt of before."

And sure enough, in two days' time they had made "the country," as the
ice-fields are termed.  If, however, any one on board had expected to
find wealth, in the shape of plump seals, lying thereon ready for the
gathering, he was much mistaken.  There was the ice, to be sure, but
never a seal in sight, neither in the water nor out of it, for it seemed
that the country was unusually open that year.

"Well," said Anderson, one day, "I'm tired of this north Greenland work;
I'll bear away for the west land."

A week's steaming through fields of slushy ice and floating snow, and
streams of flat snow-clad bergs, brought them into open water, and they
sighted the lofty and desolate shores of Greenland West, and much to
their surprise, found a large three-masted Dutchman quietly lying at
anchor in a bay, sails all clewed up, and men away on the ice.  It was
not long ere the _Grampus_ had followed her example, so far as letting
go the anchor went, and making all snug and ready for action.  A great
bear--always a sign seals are about--stood sniffing on the edge of a
floe.  Perhaps he had never seen a steamship before, or perhaps he was
wondering what the crew were having for breakfast.  Frank got his
Henri-Martini up, and began potting at him with a long-range sight, and
presently Master Bruin remembered an appointment he had, and made tracks
to keep it.

It was a glorious morning when the boats were called away.  All hands
were half frantic with joy at the thought they would soon be among the
seals.  In they trundle, and down go the boats with a splash into the
water, and next moment they are off.  Frank and Chisholm are in one
boat, Fred Freeman in another, and there is a grand race between the two
to see who shall first touch the ice and fire the first shot.  The boats
seemed to fly over the water, and when they at last ran alongside the
floe and the crew jumped on shore, there was hardly a yard's length
between them; but Fred was declared winner.

And now the day's work was begun.  Warily at first, the riflemen had to
creep towards their prey on hands and knees, taking advantage of every
hummock or boulder to screen themselves from view.  On each piece of ice
some forty or fifty seals lay, and each "patch" had a sentry set.  When
they succeeded in killing him, the others were very much at their mercy;
but oftentimes the seal on watch would succeed, even before his eyes
closed in death, in giving his companions warning.  Then, almost ere
another bullet could reach them, they had leapt helter-skelter into the
water.  But when the sun got higher, the seals seemed to get almost too
lazy to move; they could then be approached very much more closely, and
the work of death was carried on with an earnestness and energy that was
terrible to behold.  Indeed, a kind of madness to shed blood seemed to
take possession of every man on the ice.  There was no thought but to
slay.  The excitement was intense--awful in its intensity.  The sun went
slowly round and down, and as he set behind the rugged hills, his disc
seemed to reflect the blood on the ice.  Even his parting beams had
borrowed the self-same hue, and the tops of the highest icebergs looked
as if dipped in gore.

When the shadows fell, tired and weary enough now, our heroes went
slowly back towards the boats.

"Oh! boys," cried Fred, "don't you remember how bright and lovely the
snow was in the morning?  Behold it now!"

"Ay, behold it now," said Chisholm.  "Indeed, Fred, this is murder.  I
don't feel I can call it by any other name, and I'm half ashamed of
myself."

"So am I," said Frank, "for a seal can't defend itself."

"But the bladder-nosed seals can," said the first mate, who had just
joined the trio.  "They are terrible beasts to deal with.  I'd rather
fight a bear single-handed than I would one of these.  Once they fill
that kettle-pot-like bladder over their noses, they mean mischief, I can
tell you.  A rifle bullet has no more effect on it than a pea from a
pea-shooter."

"Is that so?" said Fred.

"Five years ago," continued the mate, "I was one of the crew of a boat,
of ten men in all, that were attacked by these monsters of the deep.
They seemed mad with rage and fury; they swarmed up from the sea to the
ice where we stood, with blazing eyes and flashing teeth, by the dozen
and by the score.  We all fought like fiends; we fought with spears and
axes and our rifles clubbed, but the faster we killed them the faster--
they came.  Our shouts brought assistance from the ship, but not before
a whole hour was spent in this battle with the bladder-noses, and not
until we were quite exhausted, with three of our number lying dead on
the ice."

They were walking over a floe of thick bay ice as the mate told his
story.  No sooner had he spoken the last words than--

"Down, men, down!" he cried; "the ice is rising ahead."

They followed the mate's advice, and threw themselves on their faces.

In two places the ice was heaving and rising.  Then all at once it gave
way, with a noise like the firing of great guns, and up from the depths
of the dark sea rose two gigantic forms, with wild eyes and yard-long
tusks, and of such fearful aspect that Frank's heart almost stood still
with dread.

"By George!" cried Chisholm, "this is playing at Jack in the box with a
vengeance."

Bang, bang, bang went the rifles, and down sank the apparitions, leaving
the broken ice all red with blood.

"They are only wounded," said the mate; "they'll have revenge if it is a
month hence, depend on that."

The _Grampus_, sealing intent, steamed farther and farther north, and
the nearer to the pole they got, the heavier grew the ice.  There was
shooting every day now for three months and more--seals and bears, and
sometimes a fox--and, when there was nothing else to go for, they
brought down gulls for their feathers, and looms for the sake of fresh
meat.  Sometimes they were rewarded by the sight of the lonely narwhal,
or giant unicorn of the sea--a creature which always makes direct for a
boat as soon as it spies one, and has been known to attack and sink a
whaler or gig.

They were after the looms one day, Chisholm and Frank being as usual in
one boat, with the first mate steering.

Suddenly, "Stand by your clubs and guns, men!" cried the mate; "Here
they come.  Now we're in for it.  I knew they'd seek revenge."

The sea around them seemed alive with the great tusked heads of
walruses, coming from all directions and making straight for the boat.

"In oars, and keep cool, lads," said the mate, seizing an axe; "but for
mercy's sake keep the boat trimmed.  If she capsizes we are all dead
men."

How long they fought with those desperate brutes Frank could never tell;
but it seemed to him an age ere the other boats came to their relief,
and poured volley after volley into the midst of the pack of walruses.
Then they disappeared, and but for the sea around them, all reddened
with blood, and the floating corpses--which, however, speedily sank--
there was not a sign of the fearful hand-to-hand and all-unequal
contest.

CHAPTER FIVE.

THE WEST LAND OF GREENLAND--A FALL!  A FALL!--DANGER ON ALL SIDES--"MAN
THE ICE-SAWS"--WORKING FOR LIFE--BESET IN THE DREARY PACK.

"I feel," said the captain one day, at breakfast, "that I am making a
dangerous experiment.  I am keeping far in to the west land; I am all
but hugging the shore; and if it were to come on to blow from seawards,
we would--Steward, I'll have another cup of coffee."

"You think," said Chisholm, "our chances of further cups of coffee
wouldn't be very great, eh?"

"I don't think they would," said the captain.  "Well, lads, I've shown
you a bit of sport, haven't I?  And if we had only a little more blubber
in her, troth, I'd bear up for bonnie Scotland.  I've just come down
from the crow's-nest, and what do you think I've spied?  Why, open water
for miles ahead, stretching away to the north as far as eyes can reach.
There are whales there, boys, if we can but wait for them."

After breakfast it was, "All hands assist ship!"

Up sprang the men, and ere one could wink, so to speak, half the crew
were at the side with poles, pressing on the ice to make room for the
_Grampus_.  It was strange work, and it seemed at first impossible that
twenty men with a spar could move a floe.  But they did, and three hours
afterwards they were in this mysterious open sea.

"Why," cried Frank, "I declare there is the Dutchman dodging yonder with
foreyard aback.  A sailing ship beat a steamer!"

"Ay, she's got the pull on us, boys," the captain said.  "And see, she
is flenshing [skinning] a whale; the crang [the skinned corpse] lies
beside her.  She has met with a lane of open water, and taken advantage
of it."

Just at that moment came the cry, "A fall! a fall! on the weather
quarter!"

"A fall! a fall!"  Surely never was excitement seen like this before,
thought Frank.

There was no waiting for orders.  The ship seemed to stop of her own
accord, and the escaping steam roared uselessly through the funnel.

"A fall! a fall!"  Up tumble the men, many undressed, with their clothes
in a bundle.  They spring to the boats, our heroes follow the example,
and in three minutes more are tearing through the water towards the
coveted leviathan.  The Dutchman has spied the monster too, and her
boats are soon afloat.  Who shall be first?

[The origin of this cry is this, I think.  "Whaol" is the ordinary
Scotch for "whale," but Aberdonians use the "f" instead of the "wh" in
such words as "what," "where," etc, which they pronounce "fat" and
"far."  Hence "whale" would become "faul," or "fall."]

"Pull, lads, pull!  Hurrah, lads, hurrah!  We'll never let a Dutchman
beat us!"

Is the whale asleep, that she lies so quietly?  Nay, for now she scents
the danger, and, lashing her tail madly skywards, is off; but not before
the roar of the harpoon gun from the foremost boat has awakened the
echoes of the Greenland sea.

"A fall! a fall!  She is struck! she is struck!"  Vainly now she dashes
through the surging sea; another boat pulls around to intercept her, and
again she is struck; the lines whirl over the gunwale of Frank's boat
till it smokes again.  There is blood now in the great beast's wake, and
her way is not so swift; she dives and dives again, but she is
breathless now.  Dreadful her wound must be--for see, she is spouting
water mingled with blood; and now she lies still on the surface of the
ocean.

"In line, men!" cries the mate, springing up and seizing his long lance,
and standing bravely up in the bows.  "Pull gently alongside, and stand
by to back water the moment I spear the fall."

"How bold and daring he looks!" thinks Frank; all thought of danger
swallowed up in admiration of the man who stands, spear in hand, in the
boat's bows.

They are close now.  Swish!  Quick as lightning the spear is sent home;
quickly it is turned, to sever the carotid; next moment the backing boat
is almost swamped in blood.  But not quickly enough can they back, I
fear, to save the boat from destruction, themselves from speedy death.
High, high in air is raised that dreadful tail; half the animal seems
out of the water; they are under the shadow of it; and now it descends,
and every oar on the port-side of the boat is broken off close to the
rowlocks.  But the boat is saved.  For fully half an hour the whale
flaps the sea in her dying agony, and the noise may be heard for miles
around, while the waters around her are churned into crimson foam.  Then
there is one more terrible convulsion; her great jaw opens and shuts
again.  The leviathan is dead.  The men of the brig and the men in the
boats answer each other with boisterous cheers; but the Dutchman fills
her sails, puts about, and bears sullenly up for the south.

Well would it have been for the _Grampus_ had Captain Anderson followed
her example; but he would not.

"She can go," he said; "she is a full ship, and only a sailing ship.
Now let us get but two other `fish,' then hey for the sunny south,
boys."

For a whole month they remained dodging about in that open sea, but
without seeing another whale.  All their good luck seemed to have gone
with the Dutchman, and the captain was about to bear up, and force his
way once more out through the southern ice to the open sea beyond, when
suddenly a change came o'er the spirit of the scene.  To their surprise,
if not to their horror, the ice began to close in around them in all
directions.  Nearer and nearer came the mighty floes.  They came from
the north; they came from the south and the east; they even deployed
into two long lines, or horns, that crept along the land until they met.
At the same time a heavy swell began to roll in from seawards.

"There is a gale of wind outside," the captain said to Chisholm, "and
this is the result; but come, I don't mean to be caught like a mouse in
a trap."  Then, addressing the mate, "Call all hands, Mr Lewis.  Get
out the ice-saws and anchors."

"Ay, ay, sir," replied the mate.

"Now, my lads," continued the captain, when the men came aft in a body,
"you've all been to Greenland before, and you know the danger we are in
as well as I can tell you.  If we are caught between two floes in that
heaving pack, we'll be crunched like a walnut-shell.  So we'll have to
work to make a harbour.  That alone can save us.  Call the steward.
Steward! we'll splice the main brace."

The men gave a cheer; they stripped off coats and jackets, and even
their gloves.  They meant business, and looked it.  Meanwhile the
_Grampus_ was going ahead at full speed, straight towards the ice in
shore.  Why, it looked to our heroes as if the captain was positively
courting destruction; for he was steering for the very largest berg he
could find, and presently he was alongside it.  The ship was stopped,
and every man that could be spared sent over the side.  The anchors were
got out speedily, and made fast to the berg.  Then the men began to
work.

The iceberg against which they directed their operations was indeed a
mighty one.  Although not very high close to the edge, it towered above
them many hundreds of feet, a snow-clad mountain of ice, its green and
rugged sides glittering in the beams of the mid-day sun.  It was soon
evident to Chisholm O'Grahame that the captain's object was to hollow
out a temporary harbour in the side of the berg, sufficiently wide to
enable the ship to fit into it, so that she might be safe from being
ground into matchwood when the whole pack was joined.

"Come," he cried, to his comrades, "three hands of us here idle!  We can
work too, captain.  Only tell us what to do, and we'll do it."

"Bravo! my lads," said the captain, cheerily.  "Over the side with you
then, and help with the ice-saws."

Those great ice-saws were about twenty feet long, and had four cross
handles at the top, so that when let down, on the perpendicular, against
the piece, four men standing above could work one saw.  Frank and his
two friends, with Mr Lewis, the mate, took charge of a saw, and the
work went on cheerily.  The men sang as they laboured, and there was as
much laughing and joking as if they had been husbandmen working together
in the harvest-field, instead of men working for their dear lives.  By
eight o'clock the harbour was complete.

By eight o'clock the ice had almost closed upon them.

And now to get the ship into this _portus salutis_.  There was so little
time; other giant bergs were close aboard of them, rising and falling on
the swelling waves with a noise that was simply appalling.  The captain
had to give his orders through the speaking-trumpet, and even then his
voice was often drowned by the grinding, shrieking din of the heaving
floes.  But at last they have worked her in, and now for a time at least
she is safe, for she rises and falls with the ice; and, though hemmed in
on all sides, has nothing to fear.

The _Grampus_ was "beset;" and from that very hour began one of the
dreariest seasons of imprisonment that ever a beleaguered ship's crew
experienced.  They were far away from aid of any kind that they knew of,
the ice was terribly heavy, and, worse than all, the summer season was
far advanced, and already the sun dipped very close to the northern
horizon at midnight.

The storm abated; in twelve hours the ice had ceased to rise and fall,
and a silence, deep as death, reigned once more over the frozen sea.

"We must do the best we can," said brave Captain Anderson, "to amuse
ourselves and each other.  God only knows when we may get clear, but we
can trust in Him who rules the sea as well as the dry land."

"Amen!" said Chisholm, in a quiet and earnest voice.

"We'll make off skins now for a week or two," said the captain; "that
will help to pass the time."

So it did, reader, and it also brought the birds around them in
millions.  These, as usual, they shot for feathers and fresh meat.
Bears in twos, and sometimes in threes, prowled round the ship to pick
up the offal.  Ugly customers they looked, and ugly customers they were.
Poor Tom Reid, the cooper's mate, sat on a bit of ice one day smoking,
not far from the ship.  A monster bear crept round a corner and clawed
his heart and lungs out with one stroke of his mighty paw.  The
carpenter and captain were both on the ice one day, when they were
suddenly confronted with the man-eater.  They had no arms, and would
have been instantly killed had not the danger been perceived by Fred
Freeman; he fired from the deck of the _Grampus_, wounded the bear, and
saved their lives.  After this it was determined to hunt and kill the
bears, and many good skins were thus procured.  One day Fred surprised
the man-eater in a corner, licking his wounded foot.  The bear bellowed
like a bull, and prepared to spring.  Fred was too fast for him, and
rolled him over at ten paces distance.  Poor Fred! he did not see that
this bear had a companion within hail, and that he was coming up fast
and furiously and intent on revenge, not fifty yards away.  Men are
behind him, but they fear to fire, lest they kill Fred.  Chisholm is on
an adjoining floe, but the warning he shouts comes all too late; for
next moment his poor friend lies helpless and bleeding in the talons of
the terrible ice-king.  Chisholm kneels to fire.  It is a fearful risk,
but it is Fred's only chance.  The sound of the rifle rings out on the
silent air, the bear quits his victim, springs upwards with a convulsive
start, then falls dead beside the man he would have slain.  It is three
weeks ere Fred can crawl again.

Meanwhile the whole of the skins have been "made off."  [The seal-skins,
with blubber about three inches thick, are spread on boards on idle days
in Greenland ships, and the fat pared off.  The skins are then rubbed in
salt and stowed away in a tank; the blubber also is put in tanks by
itself.  This is called "off."]  There are no more bits of flesh and fat
thrown overboard, so the birds all leave them, then the bears; and,
except that a wondering seal sometimes lifts its black head for a moment
out of a pool of water to stare at the ship, there is no sign or sound
of animal life on all the dreary pack.  They feel more lonely now than
ever, but they play games on the ice and games on board, and they read
much and talk a great deal about home.  This last makes them feel the
time still more long and monotonous, but one day--

"Happy thought!" says Fred, "let us get up theatricals."

Well, this passed the time away pleasantly enough for a whole month, but
they tired at last even of theatricals; and then a dense fog rolled in
from the south and the west, and enveloped the whole pack as with a dark
pall.  They saw no more of the sun for two weary months, but they knew
he _set_ now, and that the order of day and night had been restored; but
alas! they knew likewise that it would, in a few weeks more, be all one
long night, and their hearts sank at the very thoughts of it.

The mist rolled away at last, but shorter and shorter grew the days and
colder and colder the weather.  I hesitated before I wrote that last
word "weather," for really in that ice-pack there was no weather.  Never
a cloud in the blue vault of heaven, and never a breath of wind--not
even as much as would suffice to raise one feathery flake of the starry
snow.  But the silence--it was a silence that was felt at the heart; you
could have heard a whisper almost a mile away, there was nothing to
break it.  Nature seemed asleep, and all things seemed to fear to wake
her.  No wonder that poor Frank said one day, as he closed his book--

"Heigho! boys, it is _such_ a treat to hear the clock tick."

Night was the most trying, cheerless time; for after they had turned
into their box-like bunks, they would lie for hours before it was
possible to get warm.  Then in the morning each bunk looked like a
little cave of snow, the breath of the occupant during the night having
been frozen into hoar-frost, which covered the sides and the top, and
lay half-an-inch thick on the coverlet.  It was, indeed, a dreary time.

CHAPTER SIX.

WINTER IN THE ICE-FIELDS--THE ICE BREAKS UP--SAILING SOUTH--A SLEDGE
ADVENTURE--THE STORM AND SHIPWRECK--AFLOAT ON AN ICEBERG--LAND!  LAND!--
A TERRIBLE JOURNEY--CRONSTADT.

Was it always so silent and still in that lonely ice-pack as I have
tried to describe it?  Not always: there were times when the floes
around the ship began to move slowly up and down, telling of a swell
beneath them; then the rending, shrieking, and groaning noises were
indescribable.  But only twice during the months of darkness did a
breeze blow, and, when it did, snow fell, or rather was borne along on
the wings of the wind, with a fierce bitterness that no living being
could be exposed to for an hour and live.  A snow-house was built over
the decks, and this served in some slight measure to mitigate the
terrible cold.

And so the winter wore away, for the longest time has an end.  Our
heroes had borne their privations and their deprivations nobly.  They
did not even let down their hearts when the captain told them they would
have to go on "short commons," and only laughed when the steward
reported the eggs finished, and the last potato vanished.  The biscuits
held out, however, and the soup in bouilli, so they rejoiced
accordingly, and were thankful.

But when the sun showed face one day, there were no bounds to the joy
that every one on board manifested.  They even manned the rigging, and
gave him three times three heartfelt cheers.  Even Rouskia, the ship's
dog, seemed glad to see the light of day again, and joined in the
cheering with a kind of half hysterical bark, as if the tears were in
his throat and partially stopped his utterance.  The sun did not stop to
look at them long, but, like an invalid in the stage of convalescence,
he stayed up longer and longer every day, and his presence soon began to
work a change in the appearance of the ice; the snow on the top of it
became less dry, and the cold to a large extent left the air.  Then the
ice began to float farther apart, and, on taking the reckoning one day,
the captain found, to his joy, that the whole pack was moving slowly
southwards.

After many days the _Grampus_ left her harbour, and began "boring" her
way through the ice.  It was slow, tedious work; but slow as it was they
were homeward bound, so there was happiness at the hearts of all on
board.  But their hopes of escape were doomed to be blighted; for once
again the light wind which had begun to blow from the gentle south fell
to a dead calm, winter once more resumed his sway, and the good ship
_Grampus_ was beset a second time.  Although the ice was not heavy, but
hummock-covered or flat, it was dangerous enough in all conscience.

One day they were surprised by a visit from some natives, with sledges
drawn by dogs.  They brought fish with them, and the carcase of a
reindeer, and begged, in their strange but musical labial language, for
blankets and tobacco.  They came from land that was visible on the
starboard bow, and this country, or island, or whatever it was, Chisholm
begged leave of the captain to be allowed, with his friends, to visit.

"It must be at your own risk, then, gentlemen," the captain replied;
"for, although we are most likely to lie here for six weeks to come, the
ice may break up at any moment."

But our heroes did risk it.  They packed a sledge with many things which
they knew the natives would appreciate, and off they started, the
captain waving his hand and wishing them luck.  It was more pleasant to
run for a little way on first starting; but having by this means
succeeded in starting the circulation of the blood, as Chisholm phrased
it, they handed the whips to the natives, and squatted on the tops of
the curious and primitive sledges.

They found the Esquimaux very friendly, and willing to barter.  Their
huts were mere mole-hills, and far from cleanly inside, and were built
with no attempt at architecture; but they were strong, nevertheless.
The only kind of religion these people had was a kind of sun worship.
They were expert in hunting and fishing, and very brave and daring.
Chisholm soon found that he could accomplish the journey from the ship
to the village of Redinvolsk in an hour; so he started a sledge, drawn
by two dogs, and, great though the risk was, went on shore almost every
day.  But these little trips of his had a sad and all but fatal ending.
His team one day took fright, and, instead of running directly for the
village, dashed over a precipice.  Half-way down the crevasse the sledge
was brought up by a snow-covered shelf of rock.  But kindly aid was at
hand, a rope was lowered by some friendly natives, and a sheathed knife.
With the latter he cut the poor plunging dogs adrift, sorry in his
manly heart that he had to leave them to their fate.  He was then drawn
to bank much bruised and shaken, but thankful to escape with life.

One morning clouds began to bank up in the sky, and that very day the
ice broke up, steam was got up, and, more quickly than before, the
_Grampus_ headed homewards.

There was an air of greater gravity about the captain, as he came below
to dinner that day, than ever Frank and his friends had seen.

"I hope there is nothing serious the matter, captain?"  Chisholm
inquired.

"Not as yet, gentlemen," replied the captain, with an uneasy kind of a
smile, "but the glass is going tumbling down, and the ice grows heavier
and more dangerous the nearer to the open sea we get.  I fear we're
going to have a blow."

He soon after went on deck, whither our heroes followed him.  The floes
were of great size, heavy, mischievous-looking pieces, covered with snow
on the top, but with a deal of hard green stuff under water.  Against
these the ship was constantly bumping, with a violence that made every
one on deck stagger and reel.  The captain himself was on the bridge
giving constant orders, for the ship was being steered by the ice; the
object being to strike the pieces stem on, and so save the more
vulnerable bows or quarters.

The day wore gloomily away, and the night closed in dark and stormy.  No
one cared to lie down or seek for rest; there was a cloud on the heart
of every one on board--a strange foreboding of evil to come.  The wind
soon increased to all the fury of a gale; the waves dashed over the ship
with such violence that when struck you couldn't have told whether it
was with a piece of ice or a green sea.

It was just two bells in the morning watch, and the night was at its
darkest, when the good ship was caught with tremendous force between two
mighty floes, which, as soon as they had done the mischief, began to
part and leave the sinking ship to her sad fate.  The next moment the
engineer had rushed on deck to say the engines had stopped.  All was now
confusion on board, for there was a strange steadiness about the vessel
that told she was sinking fast.

Boats were of no use in that terrible tempest-tossed ocean, so orders
were given to get ready the ice-anchors.  By dint of courage and
strength, the anchors were thrown, and the ship made fast for a time, to
the nearest berg.  It was but for a time, alas!  And now commenced all
the hurry and horror of this pitiful disembarkation.  The waves washed
over both ship and berg, making the former quiver all over like some
creature in the throes of death, and causing the berg itself to heel
over like a great raft.

Morning broke grey and cold and dismal; but hours before, the _Grampus_
had slipped her ice-anchors, and gone down head foremost; and, out of
all her crew of fifty men, fifteen only were alive to see the sunrise,
and thank the God who had spared their lives--fifteen, and the ship's
dog.  Our heroes were saved, or this story would not be written; but,
with the exception of Captain Anderson, every other officer met with a
watery grave.

I have not the heart to harrow the feelings of my youthful readers with
a relation of the horrors the survivors of the foundered ship had to
endure on that floating iceberg.  For a whole week they were tossed
about among the stormy waves of that cold ocean, drifting before an
eastern gale that blew with almost the force of a hurricane.  But if
their half-frozen hearts were still capable of feeling one atom of joy,
they must surely have beat faster when the captain, glass in hand, but
half buried in spray, shouted--"Land, land!  I see it, I see it!"

Ah! there were hearts on that berg that would never beat again, for at
that moment six of the original fifteen lay dead on the berg.

The storm now abated, and the sea went down; but yet another danger had
to be encountered, for strange black monsters, with fierce eyes, rose up
from the depth of ocean and sought to scale the berg.  Was it after the
dead they had come?

Boats at last!--only the boats of native Indians, but they came with
friendly intentions.

So they committed the bodies of their late comrades to the deep, and,
embarking with the Indians, were rowed on shore to a new land.  Frank
was in a sad way: he was carried to the hut of a chief; medicine men
were sent for to look upon him and administer to him herbs strangely
compounded, and wise old squaws uttered their spells over his prostrate
form; but it was the nursing he received, after all, from Chisholm and
Fred that at last brought him round.

Their fare while they lived among the Indians was very poor of its kind;
but then, a gift-horse should not be looked in the mouth.  These poor
people gave them a portion of all they possessed, and they gave it, too,
with right good will.  Captain Anderson could speak their language--a
kind of Yack _patois_--and held many long conversations with the chief--
a great man in the estimation of the tribe, and in reality a true man,
although only a savage.  Anderson held him spell-bound, as he told of
some of the strange cities and countries there were in the world.  He
liked to hear the captain talk, and still, from the sinister look and
incredulous smile on his face as he listened, you could see that he
thought the narrator was drawing largely on his imagination.

It was very kind of this chief to invite the captain, our heroes, and
the survivors of the melancholy shipwreck to stay with him for the rest
of their lives.

"Blubber," he said, "would never fail them; salt fish and seal's flesh
could always be had in abundance, with now and then a bit of a whale as
a treat.  Then they could take them wives from the daughters of his
people, and the smoke from their wigwams would ascend for ever."

It was a pretty picture, Anderson allowed; but--there is no accounting
for taste; he loved his own home in England better.

"Then in that case," said Kit Chak--and here spoke the noble savage--"I
and my brother will guide you through the great forest to Inchboon,
where lies a Danish whaler.  The journey will take us one moon."

One moon!--nearly thirty days.  It was a fearful undertaking; but what
will not men do for home and country?  So all preparations were made for
the march, and in three days they were ready to start.

"You do well to wrap up, Frank, my boy," said Chisholm to his young
friend; "but, beside the captain, you _do_ look odd."

In twenty-five days, after sufferings and hardships that they never
forgot, they arrived at Inchboon, and sure enough they found the Danish
ship.  She was bound to Russia, though; if that would suit them, said
the captain, his vessel was at their service.

They gladly accepted his offer, bade brave Kit Chak and his brother
adieu (not without well rewarding them), and in six weeks' time they
were landed at Cronstadt.

Our travellers now were as happy as kings; but where, they wondered,
would they turn up next?

CHAPTER SEVEN.

PART III--THE RUSSIAN STEPPES.

QUIET DAYS ON THE KYRA--CAPTAIN VARDE'S HAPPY HOME--FRED FREEMAN'S
RUSTIC RUSSIAN--THE CAPTAIN TELLS A TALE OF ADVENTURE.

The captain of the Danish barque, who had brought our three heroes
safely into Russian waters, was one of those individuals who are never
so happy as when ministering to the comfort and pleasure of others.

"Having landed you in Europe," he said, on the very last day they dined
together on board, "I dare say I ought to let you go, but I assure you,
gentlemen, I am not tired of you, and if you will accept of a few weeks
of the kind of rude hospitality I can offer you, at my little country
home on the banks of the Kyra, I shall be delighted."

"Stop," he continued, smilingly, holding up his hand as Chisholm was
about to speak, "I know everything you would say, so there is no
occasion to say anything.  I have been kind to you, and you feel so much
indebted to me already, that you are unwilling to trespass further on my
goodness.  That is what you would say; but, dear gentlemen, if you do
feel under an obligation to me, you can amply repay me, and even confer
a favour on me, by giving me a few weeks of your company."

"What say you, Fred?" asked Chisholm.

"Oh!"  Fred replied, "I am delighted at finding such a pleasant `new way
of paying old debts.'  Let us go by all means."

"As for me, my friends," said Captain Anderson, "I must leave you
to-morrow.  Although the loss of my ship was no fault of mine, it was a
terrible misfortune, and one which it will be long ere I can forget, and
longer still ere it will be forgotten against me."

"We need not tell you," said Chisholm, "how truly sorry we are to part
with you.  We will live in the hopes of meeting you some day in England,
and renewing our acquaintance with one in whose ship we sailed so long
and spent so many happy hours."

So next day the captain of the lost brig _Grampus_ and our friends
parted.  They stayed just one week in Cronstadt, communicating by
telegraph with those at home, then, in company with their new friend,
started for his cottage on the Kyra.  They were not sorry when, three
days after leaving Saint Petersburg, they found themselves down in the
very heart of the cool green country, and in a spot which, but for the
different dress and language of the people they met, they could easily
have fancied was a part of England itself.  If they were delighted with
the country, they were not less so with the house and home itself of
Captain Varde, their kindly host.  Half buried in trees, it was
approached by a broad and beautiful avenue, which led through well-kept
lawns to what you would have been bound to have styled the hall door, or
front entrance, but the truth is Captain Varde's house had no front, or,
in other words, it had two; for the spacious hall led you straight
through to the wide terraced lawn and flower garden, that skirted the
lovely river.

"When we go down to the village," said Varde, "which is situated about
three miles from here, we sometimes go by boat, and sometimes with the
horses in the conveyance I have landed you in to-day.  But here comes my
wife and daughter, the only two beings I love on earth."

The first greetings betwixt himself and family being ended, Captain
Varde introduced our heroes, who were very kindly welcomed, and made to
feel perfectly at home; so much so that before the first day of their
visit had come to an end, they seemed to have known this family all
their lives.

When, after dinner, the ladies had retired, and the gentlemen lingered
over the walnuts and wine,--

"Captain Varde," said Fred Freeman, "I cannot tell you how much
astonished I and my comrades feel at all we see around us in this pretty
home of yours.  It is so different from anything we could have expected
to meet with in Russia."

"It is, indeed," added Chisholm, "there is an air of refinement
everywhere, and, if you will excuse me for saying so, captain, the
English spoken by Mrs and Miss Varde, with the exception of a slight
foreign accent, which, in my opinion, adds a charm to it, is as perfect
as any you will hear in London."

"We have travelled a good deal, even in your country," said the Danish
captain, with a smile.

"Yes, but," said Fred, "you would travel a very long way in England
without meeting with a family who could talk the Russian language.  As
linguists, the people of this country undoubtedly beat us.  Now, my idea
of a Russian peasant, or small farmer, was somewhat as follows--shall I
offend you if I describe my beau-ideal rustic Russian?"

"Certainly not; though my wife and child are Russians by birth, I myself
am a Dane."

"Well, then," said Fred, "the rustic Russian that I had on the brain,
and whose prototype I look for here in vain, was indeed a sorry lout--a
short, stout, rough, and unkempt fellow, with less appearance of good
breeding about him than a Nottingham cowherd, and less manners than a
Newcastle navvy, with a good deal of reverence about him for the
aristocracy, and an extraordinary relish for rum.  He was guiltless of
anything resembling ablution; dressed in sheep's skins, with the hairy
side next the skin; slept in this same jacket, and never changed it from
one year's end to another, except for the purpose of taking a bath,
which operation he performed by getting inside the stove and raking the
hot ashes all about him; his principal diet was the blackest of bread,
and the greatest treat you could give him a basin of train-oil and a
horn spoon."

Captain Varde laughed.  "Anyhow," he said, "I am glad you have already
found yourselves undeceived, and I do not doubt but that, in your
intercourse with the people of this country, you will find many of them
brave, generous, and gentlemanly fellows, and quite worthy of being
reckoned among the number of your friends."

And Captain Varde was right.

The first two or three months of their life at the house of their
newly-found friend was quite idyllic in its simplicity.  Much of their
time was spent in fishing and shooting, or in climbing the hills to
obtain a view of the wild but beautiful country around them; but in
whatever way the day had been passed, the afternoon always found them
gathered around the hospitable board of their worthy host.  Then the
evening would be spent in pleasant conversation, with music and
story-telling, the stories nearly all coming from the captain himself.
He had spent a great deal of his life at sea, and had come through
innumerable adventures both on the ocean and on land.

"Old sailors," said Varde, once, "are sometimes accused of spinning
yarns, with less of facts about them than there might be; but, for my
own part, I think that a man who has knocked about the world for about
twenty years has little occasion to draw upon his imagination."

"I fought a bear one time," he continued, "single-handed, face to face--
ay, and I may say breast to breast."

"No easy task that, I should say," remarked Chisholm, "if he were of any
size."

"He was a monster," said Varde, "of Herculean strength; yonder is his
skin on the couch.  You may be sure though that I did not court the
struggle, nor am I ever likely to forget it, for two reasons--the first
is that in my right leg I still carry the marks of the brute's talons;
the other reason is a far dearer one."

Captain Varde paused, and took his wife's hand in his, gazing at her
with a look of inexpressible tenderness.

"But for that bear adventure I never should have met with my wife.  How
my Adeline's father came to settle down for life in the wild unpeopled
district where I first made his acquaintance and hers, I can hardly
tell.  In his youth he had been a merchant and a dweller in cities; in
his old age he built himself a house many many versts even from a
village of any pretensions, on the confines of a great gloomy forest,
and close by a lake that people say is far deeper than the great hills
around it are high.  Here he lived the life of a recluse and a bookworm.

"In the summer of 1845, myself and a few friends had encamped in the
neighbourhood of this lake, chiefly to enjoy the excellent fishing there
to be obtained.  Not that we did not find work for our guns as well, for
there was abundance of both fur and feather; but my chief delight lay in
the gentler art.  One of my friends, Satiesky by name, could do enough
gunning for the whole camp, so I at least was content, and the time was
spent most pleasantly until it set in for settled wet weather.

"At last after several days' rain it was evident the weather was broken,
and the summer gone; so, very reluctantly, we prepared to pack our
horses and trudge back again to the distant city.  Packing did not take
us long, and, having packed, we started.  A march of six or eight versts
brought us to the little village or hamlet of Odstok.  We had just
reached its first house--a small outlying farm built on a wooded
eminence.  It was well for us we had, for in less than ten minutes the
low land that we had just passed was completely covered with water.
What had been fields before was now an inland sea.  Swollen by the
mountain torrents, the river had burst its bounds and swept down the
valley with terrible force, carrying before it fences and trees, and
even the scattered houses which stood in its way, and drowning oxen,
horses, sheep, and alas! human beings as well.

"For three whole weeks we were in a state of siege.  Not that we wanted
food, however; Jerikoff the farmer's larder was well stored, and he was
very good to us indeed.  He found his old boat, in which he used to
paddle about in a little canal before the floods, very handy now.  I
shouldn't have cared to risk my life in the ricketty tub; but Jerikoff
did, and used to make voyages to a distant shop, and return laden with
many a little Russian dainty.  Once he brought in a haul of hares and
rabbits from the flood.  They had doubtless taken refuge on a tree as an
extemporised island; but when that island itself became flooded, down
the stream, _nolens volens_, they had to float.  It is an ill wind that
blows nobody good, and Jerikoff set out in great glee to reap this rich
harvest of living fur.  His face was a study while so engaged.  `Oh! my
pretty dears,' he said, addressing his victims; `I couldn't think of
seeing you drown before my very face.  Come into my boat; there is room
for you all.'  But when the old man, before landing, began to knock them
on the head, I daresay the little mariners thought they had got out of
the frying pan into the fire.

"But about my bear, gentlemen.  Well, I am coming to that."

CHAPTER EIGHT.

THE CAPTAIN'S TALE CONTINUED--WINTER BRINGS THE BEARS FROM THE
MOUNTAINS--THE TRAGEDY IN THE FOREST--BEARS AT BAY--BREAST TO BREAST
WITH BRUIN--FRED FREEMAN FALLS IN LOVE!

"Kind and all as our host Jerikoff was," continued the captain, "none of
us were sorry when the floods began to abate and finally disappeared.
But hardly had they gone when yet another change came over the
landscape; for hard frost set in, then small powdery snow began to fall,
followed shortly by great flakes, and before twenty-four hours were over
our heads the whole country was locked in the embrace of an early
winter.  We weren't altogether sorry for this, for we could now prolong
our stay with prospects of good duck and wild-goose shooting, for both
these and many other kinds of game would visit the running streams.  We
would also have an opportunity of doing old Jerikoff a favour by filling
his larder for him.  Your Russian rustic, Mr Freeman, is oftentimes as
proud as a prince.  Jerikoff was, at all events; and we dared not insult
him by the offer of a single rouble.

"Our host used to do a little shooting himself.  One day he met a young
peasant leading his horse from the forest, where he had been for wood.
The little lad's eyes were as round and apparently as big as
saucers--_he had seen a bear_.  Jerikoff made haste home to tell us, and
we determined to go in search of Mr Bruin.  Hardly had we made up our
minds and got ready our guns when another report, and that a very
singular one indeed--although we had no reason to doubt the truth of
it--reached us.

"A farmer's sledge drawn by three horses, and on its way to the very
hamlet in which we now dwelt, had been attacked by a bear of monstrous
size and terrible ferocity.  It was not the horses, however, but human
flesh on which this brute made up his mind to regale himself.  He had
sprung from an ambush, alighting in the very centre of the sledge.  The
poor kyoorshik's struggles I trust were brief, but very dreadful
nevertheless; his screams were heard by more than one individual--
powerless, however, to render aught of assistance--as the terrified
horses plunged madly through the forest, a tragedy being acted behind
them which it makes one's blood run cold even to think of.  The poor
beasts pulled up at last with the shattered remains of the sledge, and
the mutilated body of the unhappy driver, at the very door of the little
village inn; but of the bear there were no signs save the ghastly work
he had accomplished.

"News like this only served to stimulate our desire for revenge on this
bold and ferocious bear, and we set out in all haste to seek him in the
forest.  There were four of us, all told, with two moudjiks in two
sledges drawn by six horses.  We were all armed to the teeth, but this
did not prevent us from taking proper precautions to avoid a sudden
surprise.  Farther than the confines of the great forest it was
impractical to take our sledges; but the horses were unlimbered, and
accompanied us until we came upon the trail of our first bear.  They
were then fastened to trees, and left in the charge of the moudjiks.

"`Now,' said Satiesky, one of my friends, `these tracks are very recent.
Mr Bruin cannot therefore be very far away, and as it will be unsafe
to go a long distance from our horses, let us try the effects of a
little ruse.  I have come all prepared to carry it out.'

"To build a fire, camp-fashion, was with Satiesky the work of but a few
minutes.  He piled it in an open space or glade in the forest, so that
the heat should not bring down the snow from the pines over it.  Having
got it well alight, he hung from the tripod above a three-pound piece of
ham, which was soon frizzling away in fine style, and making us all
hungry with its fragrance.

"`Let us get under cover, now,' said Satiesky; `if a bear is any where
within six versts, you'll soon see him prowl round, licking his chops,
and looking for dinner, which pray Providence we will serve up to him
hot.'

"We took up a position, as he spoke, as well screened as possible by the
snow-laden branches, and waited.  Half-an-hour went wearily past, and
after that every minute seemed interminable.  We were rewarded at last,
though, but in a way we little expected.  Some of us know, to our cost,
the terrible bull-like bellow which a bear emits from his stentorian
lungs, when he is suddenly disturbed and means mischief.  This is
intended, no doubt, to startle and paralyse the victim on which he means
to spring.  Be this as it may, such was now the sound we heard, yet not
anywhere near the fire, but close in the rear of our position.  It was
an immense bear, probably the very same that had attacked and killed the
poor sledge-driver; for, as Satiesky afterwards said, having once tasted
human flesh, he would prefer it to the best bit of bacon that ever was
frizzled.

"He gave us little time now for consideration.  But Satiesky was quick;
he discharged his rifle almost point-blank at the charging beast.  Down
rolled Bruin, not dead, but so dreadfully wounded that it was an easy
enough matter for us to dispatch him with our pikes.

"Hardly had he ceased to writhe, when down the wind came the sharp ring
of another rifle.

"`Hark!' cried Satiesky, springing out into the open; `that sound comes
not from the direction where we left our horses.  There is another party
in the forest as well as ourselves.'

"Satiesky's surmise was right, as he knew a moment afterwards to his
sorrow.  The strange hunting party had wounded a bear, and were
following him up, and, in his desperation, he charged our companion.  He
had no power or time for defence, and next moment we saw him laid
senseless on the snow; while over him stood his terrible antagonist, his
eyes flashing fire, his jaws dripping blood.

"I will not attempt to describe to you, gentlemen, the wild _melee_ that
followed.  Bar a shot at close quarters with a revolver, there was no
time for using fire-arms.  With pikes and axes and rifles clubbed, we
fought the giant beast until strength succumbed to skill, and he lay
dead beside Satiesky.  With the exception of a few scratches, nobody was
any the worse, and we found, to our delight, that our fallen companion
was merely stunned.

"You should have seen the spread that Jerikoff placed before us that
evening, on our return.  Jerikoff excelled himself for once; and it
needed but little wine-drinking, I can tell you, to make the feast pass
merrily by.

"Jerikoff would have bear hams all the winter.  That was the reason he
was so pleased; that was the reason he invited a pair of inseparable
companions, in the shape of an old fiddler and a dancing bear, to
minister to our amusement after dinner was over.

"Next day we bagged three more bears.  We had, however, no adventure to
speak of; they succumbed to their fate with a kind of sleepy dignity,
after they had been pitted by some peasants hired for the occasion.

"On this particular day I had wandered some distance away from my
companions.  I had got clear out of the forest, and had climbed an
eminence, where I could see well about me, accompanied by an armed
servant; but certainly apprehending no danger, for the coast all around
seemed well clear.  I had reckoned without my host, however.  My host on
this occasion was an enormous bear, who had probably been asleep in the
sun behind a boulder, and a very disagreeable entertainment he had
provided for me."

"He wasn't very hospitable, then?" said Chisholm, smiling.

"Rather much so, I might say," said the captain; "indeed, he received me
with open arms.  He was too affectionate altogether, and even now I
think I hear the roar of delight he gave vent to as he commenced the
fearful hug.  I tried to prick him under the ribs with my knife.  It
broke on a bone, which caused the brute to increase rather than diminish
the pressure.  I could feel my bones crack, and my breath was squeezed
out of me.  Why at this awful moment my scared moudjik should hand me
his knife, instead of using it himself, I never could tell; but God gave
me strength to handle it, gentlemen.  I had one hand free, and with that
I plunged the weapon into the animal's chest, and we both rolled down
together.

"That evening two sledges in particular left the forest, going in
different directions.  One dashed along as fast as three horses could
carry it, towards the house of my dear Adeline's father.  It was the
nearest house to the forest; therefore thither was I borne, all but
lifeless from loss of blood.  The other sledge went more slowly, of
course, towards the village we had that morning left so merrily
together.  That sledge brought Bruin home.  Gentlemen," said the
captain, concluding his narrative, and once more taking his wife's hand,
"I need not tell you how kind the old merchant was to me.  Here is a
proof of it.

"The house where he and Adeline used to reside is now tenanted by some
relations of ours, for my father-in-law has long since crossed the
bourne whence no traveller ever returns; but we often visit the dear old
home by the lake, and spend a few weeks there.  We hope to do so this
Christmas, and if you will but prolong your stay till then and accompany
us, I think I can show you some nice sport."

What could our heroes reply to so kind an invitation, but that they
would be delighted to do so?  One of them, indeed, was much more
delighted than either of the other two; and that was Fred Freeman.
Would you know the reason why, reader?  You may learn it, then, from the
following fragment of a conversation which took place between the trio
one evening when they were alone together:--

"Chisholm O'Grahame," said Fred, "we used to laugh at poor Frank for
being so deeply in love with his beautiful Eenie Lyell.  You must laugh
alone now, my boy, for I can feel for him."

"What!" cried Chisholm, delightedly, "Are you too in for it?"

"I fear it's a fact," said Fred; "and so you two can leave me here to my
fate, if you choose, and go on with your adventures by yourselves--that
is, if Miss Varde will look kindly on me."

"Ridiculous!" said Chisholm.  "No, no, Fred, my lad, engage yourself if
you like, and return some other day for this charming girl; but round
the world with us you come, and, indeed, I think the sooner we start the
better."

"Heigho!" sighed Fred, and Frank felt for him if Chisholm did not.

CHAPTER NINE.

THE RUSSIAN STEPPES (CONCLUDED).

PLEASANT TIMES--A GLORIOUS HIDE--A HAPPY CHRISTMAS--BOAR-HUNTING--
ATTACKED BY WOLVES.

Still pleasantly passed the time of our heroes away at Captain Varde's
delightful residence.  He did all in his power to render them happy and
comfortable; he even invited friends from a distance to visit at the
house, in case they should be dull in the evenings, with no one to talk
to but himself; and very pleasant people they turned out to be.  As
autumn wore away, and the days got shorter and colder, they were, of
course, confined a good deal to the house; but, what with whist and
chess, music and dancing, they never thought a day too long.

Fred's "little love affair," as Chisholm somewhat irreverently styled
it, flourished apace.  In fact he was engaged to Miss Varde, and the
engagement received the sanction of her parents.

"What a pity it is," said Captain Varde, one day, "that I cannot find a
match for you, Mr O'Grahame."

"You are very kind, I am sure, to think of me," said Chisholm.

"Yes," continued Varde, "for then, you know, there would be no more
occasion for you to leave Russia."

"Ah! but," said Chisholm, "I have that young dog, Frank, to show the
world to.  He is in my charge and in Fred's.  After we have done the
needful by him, we may return--Fred is bound to--and then there is no
saying what might happen."

One day, when our friends came out to have their usual run before
breakfast, they found the ground all white with snow.  This would have
warned them, if nothing else had, that Christmas was on ahead; but they
also found the moudjiks busy at work getting ready the sledges, and
preparations going on everywhere for a long journey.

The morning arrives, and the sledges are brought round, and soon filled
with as happy a party, probably, as ever set out on a long dreary
mid-winter journey in the wilds of Russia.  Crack go the whips; the
horses toss their saucy heads and manes in the air; then, with a brave
plunge, forward they flee, and, with a cheer from the servants left
behind, and a shout from onlooking moudjiks, they are off.  Paddy, in
the song of "The Groves of Blarney," talks about "the complatest thing
in nature being a coach-and-six or a feather bed;" had he ridden in a
Russian travelling-sledge, I daresay he would have considered it a sort
of combination of the two.  Conversation is easy, as there is no
rattling of vile wheels; the air is bracing, and the scenery charming,
though hills and dales, and the great still forests themselves, are
robed in a garment of snow.  At noon they stop for rest and refreshment,
then mount and go on again; but in the evening they reach a town of some
importance, and here they stop for the night.  Onward again next day,
and onward the next; and at noon of the fourth the country gets wilder;
there is hardly a house to be seen; there are giant trees in the wide,
wild forests they traverse, and giant hills on the horizon.  Suddenly,
at a bend of the road, a great lake--frozen hard, and partially
snow-clad--makes its appearance; and not far from its banks, though
almost hidden by trees, a lordly mansion, from many of the chimneys of
which blue smoke is curling upwards, against the white of a hill that
almost overhangs it.

Captain Varde hails the second sledge, and points laughingly towards
this mansion, and they know they are nearing the home of his people.
Half an hour afterwards, everybody is dismounting from the sledges,
greetings are being exchanged, and steaming horses led away to their
stables by smiling retainers.

I am not going to describe the life our heroes led at this mansion,
which might well be termed a castle; nor even to tell you of the many
adventures--some of them wild enough--they had among the hills and in
the forests around.

One evening the sledge containing Captain Varde and Chisholm got behind
the others, and they were attacked by a pack of hungry wolves in fine
form.  They had had a good day among the boars--our friends, I mean, not
the wolves--and one was towing astern.  This particular "piggie" the
wolves thought would make them an excellent supper; although, for that
matter, being, as they are, hippophagists, they would not have objected
to a bite of horse-flesh.  The sun was declining in the west, as the
sledge tore along through the forest; they had still many versts to
ride, and attacked in flank and rear by such a number of these unwelcome
guests--for the woods seemed alive with them--the danger was one not to
be made light of.  Happily for them, their horses were hardy and fleet;
they had good guns, and plenty of ammunition, so the slaughter was
immense.  Kept at bay for a time, the wolves, being reinforced, rallied
and pressed the sledgemen closely.  Chisholm thought of cutting the boar
adrift, but Varde wouldn't hear of it.

"Nay, my boy, nay," he cried, "we will never strike our colours while
we've a single cartridge left unfired."

Chisholm laughed, and peppered away, and with such good effect, that ere
the sun had quite gone down, the enemy drew off and left them, and they
soon after regained their companions.

There was much more of this kind of thing; suffice it to say that they
spent a Christmas of never-to-be-forgotten happiness, and left at last
with the heartfelt farewells of their kind entertainers ringing in their
ears, and promises that, if Providence spared them, this visit would
certainly not be their last.

CHAPTER TEN.

PART IV--THE WILDS OF AFRICA.

OFF TO THE CAPE--AMONG THE ROCK RABBITS--A WILD RIDE--LOST ON THE
PLAINS.

"Isn't it a glorious morning," said Chisholm, coming on deck and joining
his friends Frank and Fred, who were reclining in their lounge chairs,
books in hand, under the awning reading, or pretending to read.  And
Chisholm himself looked glorious, glorious in the strength and beauty of
his young manhood.  He was dressed in white from top to toe, with sun
hat and low cut collar, which showed his brown and shapely neck to
perfection.  His face was weather-beaten, that was the least that could
be said of it, and loosely dressed as he was, you seemed to see the play
of every muscle in his manly form, as he moved; and, when he waved his
arms almost rejoicingly in the balmy but bracing breeze, that fanned the
sunny sea, he looked as lithe and graceful as a young tiger.

"A glorious morning," he said again.

"Beautiful," said Fred, gazing languidly around him.

"You seem in fine form," said Frank, smiling.

"Just had a salt water bath.  The other fellows in my cabin had soda and
brandy.  I feel fresher now than they do."

The ship was a steamer, _Druid_, but she was staggering along under a
power of canvas and, bar accident, two more days would see them safe in
Cape Town.

Fred Freeman had been very loth and sorry to leave his friends in
Russia, for reasons well known to the reader.  Frank, for reasons of a
similar nature, had been just as anxious to get back to dear old Wales,
to enjoy, so he said, six weeks' hunting.  But Chisholm had looked at
him with a right merry twinkle in his blue eyes as he replied,--

"Nay, boy, nay, the next hunting you'll do will be at the Cape.  I
promised your father to take you right round the world, and I told some
one else that some one else wouldn't see you again for three years at
the very least.  So there!"

Here is an extract from Chisholm's diary, written three months after:--

"The Cape hills in sight at last.  But I shouldn't say _at last_,
because our passage has been everything one could wish.  Fred and Frank
are both a bit low, leastways they don't talk enough, perhaps they
think.  Wonder if it is their late lotus-eating life that is telling
upon their constitutions, or is it merely that they're in love.  A
little bit of both, perhaps.  But they'll wake up ere long without a
doubt."

Chisholm was perfectly correct in his surmises, both Fred and Frank did
wake up, and as soon as the roaring of the steam from the funnel, and
the rattling of the anchor chains, convinced them that the voyage was
indeed at an end, they threw aside their hooks, pulled themselves
together, and entered heart and soul into the excitement of shore going.

A whole week was to be spent at Cape Town, and it was the best and
sweetest time of all the year they could have chosen to visit the place.
In the town itself and the suburbs the gardens were gorgeous in their
floral beauty, and all the wild romantic hills around were crimson and
white with geraniums, and the rarest and loveliest of heaths and wild
flowers.  Roaming among the mountains was pleasant even by day, for the
sub-tropical heat of the sun was tempered by the pleasant breeze that
blew inland from the ocean.  Although they never went abroad for a
ramble without taking their guns along with them, of sport, properly
so-called, there was but little.  They managed to make several good bags
of rock rabbits, nevertheless.  These funny little creatures are as much
like rats as rabbits, but they are delicious eating.  It was quite half
a day's journey to reach their haunts, over the hills and through the
stunted bush, and across broad uplands where little else save a kind of
hard, tough grass grew, and walking among which was dangerous, owing to
the number of deadly snakes that slept or crept among it.  Beyond this
there would be more bush, in which bright-winged but songless birds
flitted noiselessly about, then the rocks or cliffs where dwelt the
coneys.

There is one trait in the character of a rock rabbit which breeds it a
deal of harm, and that is curiosity.  They like to know all they can
learn about any one who honours them with a domiciliary visit.  No
sooner had our heroes appeared at the foot of the chaos of boulders
which formed the cliff, than one rock rabbit mounted a stone to see what
they looked like.  I suppose he meant to go back and report to his
comrades, but Frank's gun spoiled his good intention, and he came
tumbling down to meet them.  The crack of the fowling-piece brought a
dozen at least of his relations out, to see what on earth the matter
was, and many of them, not content with the advantage of the good view
which a bit of boulder gave them, must needs stand on their hind-legs to
add to their elevation; then it was bang, bang, right and left, and
bang, bang, left and right _ad libitum_, or as fast at least as the
rabbits appeared.  Did they kill all they fired at?  Oh! no, not by a
very great deal.  Many downed to the flash, and many that were knocked
over succeeded in reaching the friendly shelter of their holes, and it
is to be hoped, for their sakes, that their hospital arrangements were
as complete as possible, else many of these poor curious creatures must
have suffered a good deal more than our heroes meant them to.

On their way to and from these little shooting excursions snakes were
shot wherever seen, whip snakes and sand snakes, black snakes and
cobras.

"It's no sin to slay a snake," Fred would say, "and it expends the
ammunition, you know."

Well, this sort of life was certainly less slow than lotus-eating, but a
week of it was enough.  They felt "crowded," as the Yankees call it,
even at Cape Town.  They wanted to be off and away into the wilds; the
only question was how to get into the interior.  The subject was
broached one day at the _table d'hote_, at which they were dining, and
Chisholm thought the best plan would be to hire a dhow to take them on
to Zanzibar.

"For it strikes me," he said, "that it is quite the orthodox plan to
start for the interior of Africa by way of Zanzibar, just as it is to go
to New York from Liverpool."

"It is," said a gentleman present, "but you'll find it slow work getting
to Zanzibar in a dhow, and precious rough work too.  I'm Commander Lyell
of the _Dodo_; my gunboat sails to-morrow for Zanzibar.  I've heard you
mention my uncle's name, General Lyell, and if you like to rough it with
me, I'll take you."

A nephew of General Lyell!  This was news indeed, to Frank at least; and
it is needless to say the offer was gladly accepted.

Three spare cots were rigged in the Commander's cabin, and in every way
they were made as comfortable as could be.

Half a gale of wind was what they had to start with, up the Mozambique;
next day it had increased to nearly hurricane force.  They saw many
ships lying-to, but the _Dodo_ did nothing of that sort; wet enough
though, she was in all conscience, in fact she seemed to spend most of
her time under instead of over the waves; very wet she was, and likewise
very lively, but she made a good passage, and in little over a week, she
had cast anchor in a beautiful wooded hay on the African coast, where
white-roofed houses, close by the shore, peeped out through the greenery
of trees.

"There is a bit of fun to be got not far from here," said Captain Lyell,
"for a day's journey beyond the little Portuguese village there, the
antelope swarm, and horses, too, are procurable, by paying for them."

Frank was a splendid horseman, and his delight at the prospect of a hunt
was unbounded.

Horses they could and did procure, and wild and unmanageable brutes they
proved at first, but after the third day they became quiet enough.
Their way led through a most beautiful well-timbered undulating country,
and travelling was far from difficult, but as they journeyed more
inland, and bore more to the north, not only their difficulties, but
their dangers too, increased; the land got more rugged and mountainous,
the jungles more dense and impenetrable, and the forests grew darker and
deeper.  They found themselves, too, bordering on a country, the
inhabitants of which were far from friendly, and it was then they found
their Portuguese guides of the greatest of use; they could speak the
language of these savages, and their relations with them were the
relations of trade.  Portuguese the natives could bear with.  Englishmen
they both feared and hated.  But little cared our heroes; in fact they
treated the blacks with the coolest indifference, and probably that was
the best way they could have treated them.

Many a lordly antelope fell to their guns, they had days on days of good
sport, and the very dangers that surrounded them, seemed only to make
their life in the bush all the more enjoyable.  A glorious hunt Frank
had one day all to himself.  It was a ride he is never likely to forget,
either, for it came nigh costing him dear life itself.  Out on the open
plain one morning, though but a little way from the camp, he started a
fine buck.  It seemed positively to invite him to the chase; well, his
horse was fresh, he was fresh himself, a ten miles' run he thought would
do them both good, and yonder was the deer, so off he went.  Off went
man and horse, and buck, but the latter seemed never to tire, and the
plain over which he rode seemed interminable.  Hours flew by; then
Frank's horse began to flag, for he must have ridden thirty miles in a
bee line; so the buck won the day, he took to cover in a small bit of
scrub, and from that he would not be moved.  If he had, Frank thought,
but one good hound, he could rest his horse, then start the chase, and
probably turn him again towards the camp, and thus finish a day that
would make the roaster of Her Majesty's Staghounds envy him even to read
of it.  But no, he must mount his horse again and ride back.  Back?
Yes, it seemed about the easiest thing in the world to find his way
back; but when, after journeying on and on all the day, without seeing a
sign or token of the camp he had left, when, faint and weary, he saw the
sun dipping slowly downwards to the western horizon, then his heart sank
within him, and for the first time he realised the terribleness of his
situation--_he was lost_!  Lost! and it mattered little to him now which
way he rode; he allowed the bridle to hang loose on the neck of his
jaded horse, his own chin to fall on his breast; a sense of weariness
crept over him that almost induced sleep, and more than once he nearly
slipped from the saddle.  Presently it was night, and big bright stars
shone over him, which he did not care even to glance at.  He only felt
tired, cold, sleepy.

"Coo--oo--ee!"  Hark! does he dream?  No, for list! once again that long
unearthly yell.  The horse pricks up his ears and neighs.  Frank seizes
the bridle, and once more listens himself, for well he knows what he
hears is the night-shout of the outpost African sentinels.  In ten
minutes more he is beside the camp-fire.  Thanks to the sagacity of that
good horse.

CHAPTER ELEVEN.

CRUISING IN THE DODO--THE BLUEBELL--HOW OYSTERS GROW ON TREES--AWAY UP
THE BEAUTIFUL RIVER--THE BLUEBELL AGROUND--NOONTIDE ON THE RIVER.

On board the _Dodo_ once more, steaming steadily northwards; some times
far out at sea, with nothing but the blue all round them: sometimes
hugging the green-wooded shore: sometimes casting anchor at the mouths
of mighty rivers, and sending armed boats away to seek for the slave
dhows that hid all day under the hanging boughs, and stole out to sea at
night.  Chisholm, the oldest of our heroes, confessed he had never
enjoyed a voyage so much in his life.  At last, however, they cast
anchor in Zanzibar, and were nothing loth to go on shore to stretch
their legs.  The captain accompanied them in his gig, dressed in full
uniform--cocked-hat, epaulettes, and sword.  He was going to visit the
Consulate, and expected news of some importance.

Accompanied by a black boy, who wore no clothes worth mentioning, but
could speak English and prided himself thereon, they went for a grand
tour of inspection.  The streets were narrow, long, and winding, and
oftentimes bridged over at the top, so that the residents in one house
could cross over to see their friends on the other side of the way,
without the trouble of coming downstairs.  There was a singular absence
of windows in the houses of the gentlemen Arabs, Banians, or Hindus;
every room of which, although furnished luxuriantly, is very dark and
cool.  In the bazaar and in the streets where the shops were, there was
hardly any moving along, so great was the motley crowd, and, saving the
women and the innumerable slaves, every one they met was armed to the
teeth.  The warrior Arabs, with their long flowing hair, dressed in
embroidered robes of snowy white, with cloaks of camel's hair, gilded
turbans and jewelled sword-belts, looked boldly picturesque; these
mingled in the streets with--white-gowned Hindus, and long-faced,
dark-coated Parsees; sailors in blue and soldiers in scarlet, and sacred
solemn-looking cows with gilded horns, which many a one touched with
fond reverence, as they walked quietly along.  And the background of all
this picture was slavery; slavery panting and perspiring as it dragged
itself along in chains; slavery cowering under the lash of the driver's
whip; slavery bent to the ground under loads of cowrie shells; slavery,
dark unhappy slavery.

Our heroes were glad to find themselves at last out in the green and
flowery country, wandering under the shade of giant trees, and inhaling
the sweet perfume of orange blossom.  The first person they met on their
return from shore was Captain Lyell himself.  He shook hands with them
all round, at which they were not a little surprised, but they could see
by his face there was something in the wind.

"Come down below," he said.  When he got them there he continued, "I've
got good news, gentlemen, in fact, I may say glorious news; let me tell
it to you all in one sentence.  First, then, I'm promoted; I'm now
Captain Lyell in reality, and not by courtesy alone; secondly, I'm going
home--another officer has arrived to take command of the _Dodo_;
thirdly, I've applied to the Commodore for four months' leave; fourthly,
I've got it; fifthly and lastly, I've hired a pretty little river
steamboat from a Scotch friend on shore here, one that takes all to
pieces for the boys to carry, quite an African explore boat, and I'm
ready to start with you to-morrow if you like for the interior, and if
we don't get the rarest of sport, why I shan't believe that my name is
plain John Lyell."

It is needless to say that after this there was another round of
hand-shaking, or that the dinner that day was enlivened by some of the
captain's very best and rarest of reminiscences.

The little steamer which Lyell had hired was indeed a beauty, quite a
fairy boat.  Getting her ready for the voyage and packing the stores,
getting in all necessaries, and hiring "the boys" occupied quite a week.
Then they went out on their trial trip.  The day was beautiful--it was
the sunny season in the Indian ocean--there was just enough wind to
temper the heat and ripple the sea.  The many pretty islands they
visited seemed, at a distance, to float in the sky; they were emerald
green, and fringed with a beach of snowy sand.  They landed on some of
these and shot a species of small deer and rabbits--wild rabbits such as
we have at home.  [I cannot account for the presence of rabbits on some
islands in the channel of the Mozambique, but there they are.]  In a
little sandy cove of one of these islands, they took luncheon _al
fresco_, previously enjoying the luxury of a bath, all taking a header
at once and making all the noise they could to keep the sharks at bay.

The trial trip was perfectly satisfactory; so next morning early, it was
up anchor and off.  The _Bluebird_ hadn't much space between decks, but
they had an awning spread, and lounging on deck was delightful.  They
headed north, keeping two or three miles from the shore.  This shore was
a cloudland of green, without beach or sea border of any kind.

"Yonder," said Lyell, "is where oysters grow on trees."

There was a laugh at this; but next morning the captain verified his
statement, and he took Frank with him in the little boat, and they
brought off a bucketful.  The explanation is this: the roots of the
mangrove trees grow among the water, to these the oysters cling, and at
low water can be gathered.

Now here they are at the mouth of a great river; they can hear the
thundering of the breakers on the terrible bar as they approach it, over
these mountain waves their boat must go, and it is lucky for them that
they have so experienced a sailor as Lyell at the helm.  But beyond all
is peace; the peace that reigns on the broad bosom of a great river
whose waters roll slowly seaward.  On each side the banks are wooded to
the water's edge.  The trees are mangroves, but here and there are
bunches of feathery palms.

After dinner they land among a clump of these to drink cool delicious
cocoa-nut milk.  [This glorious nectar can only be had in perfection in
lands where the cocoa palms grow.  Each green nut before the fruit is
formed contains about a quart of it.]  In Africa, wherever you find
cocoa-nut trees you find human beings, and here was a negro village, but
at sight of the white faces of the travellers the natives fled screaming
into the dark depths of the forest.  So they had to help themselves.
Onward again, and now a thick fog envelopes them, and in a few minutes
the _Bluebell_ has run aground and refuses to budge.  Then it is all
hands to strip and get overboard to lighten ship; all save the little
engineer; he stays aboard to go all speed astern.  All speed astern
means no speed at all for ten minutes at least, during which time it
comes on to rain in fearful torrents, and the surface of the river
becomes all at once so hot, that they are glad when the _Bluebell_ moves
again, and they can get up out of it.  They hadn't bargained for a warm
bath.  But the mist rolls off presently, and they can once more see
their way.  But this running aground becomes an almost every day
occurrence, so that at last they quite look forward to the order to
strip and plunge.

They have left the last Portuguese settlement, and the last Arab
encampment, leagues and leagues behind them; they have passed the
countries of many different tribes of natives.  Most of these fled on
their approach, but the warriors of some lined the shores, yelling
maniacally, and brandishing their war spears.  They have come at last to
a portion of the stream where they are but little troubled with the
presence of the aborigines, a few only being seen in their log canoes
peacefully fishing.  But where mankind does not abound in Africa birds
and beasts hold sway; and one day, on rounding a point of land, they
came upon a scene of such animation, as my poor pen would fail in any
attempt to describe.  It was noontide on the river; countless herds of
zebus and zebras had come down to drink, hippopotami wallowed in the
shallows, and the sky above was alive with myriads of strange and
beautiful birds, that floated screaming around, or perched on the trees,
deafening the ear with their noise and chatter; parrots and lories,
ibises, flamingoes and storks--some of these as they circled high in the
air being arrayed in plumage of pure white and scarlet, looked strangely
beautiful against the sky's azure blue.

"O!" cried Chisholm, "we mustn't let such an opportunity as this pass
for a big shoot."

"Give them time to drink," said Fred; "it would be a shame to disturb
them yet a little."

This was agreed to, and the _Bluebird_ lay still for two hours, which
gave ample time to watch the strange manners and customs of these
curious specimens of animal life, and after this shooting began.  The
larger game were wilder than they imagined, and soon made themselves
very scarce indeed; but the birds took hardly any heed of their
presence, and even when dozens of them fluttered down dead, instead of
being afraid, the majority seemed to look upon the matter as a very
pretty joke, and the parrots in particular shrieked and laughed till the
very welkin rang.

The scenery got more varied as they proceeded more inland; the river
swept at times through vast treeless wastes, and on its banks lay
alligators basking in the sunshine.  This was a temptation never to be
resisted.  It afforded good ball practice, and I daresay it tickled the
alligators up a little if it did nothing else.  At other times the river
was bounded by gigantic cliffs; here it narrowed, and the current was so
strong that a mile an hour of headway was all that could be made, under
the highest pressure of steam commensurate with safety.

They had come to the right hunting grounds at last, so thought Chisholm,
Frank, and Fred.  But Lyell, although always willing to lie to for a day
to enjoy the wild scenery, and the shooting the jungles afforded, always
counselled going on and on.  Early in the morning and an hour or two
before the shades of evening fell, were the times they generally chose
to disembark for a ramble in the forest.

One day they crept quietly through the bush to a spot whence some noise
proceeded.  They expected a shot at something.  Suddenly they found
themselves within a stone's throw of a herd of most beautiful zebras;
they had come to a pool to drink.  But beyond them were quite a regiment
of giraffes.  _They_ could sniff the danger from afar if the zebras
could not; they swung their heads as if they were gigantic hammers,
stamped with rage, and bounded off ere ever a trigger could be drawn.
But our heroes were rewarded half-an-hour afterwards, by falling in with
a quantity of hippopotami.  These unwieldly monsters were quietly
browsing on the rank herbage that the plain afforded them.  Probably
they never ran so quickly before as they did when fire was opened on
them from the bush.  Before they had began to shoot, "I say, boys," said
Chisholm, "what a charming view, a nobleman's castle on a hill, park and
trees and all complete!  Doesn't it look like it, though?"

"Yes," Fred replied, laughing; "and deer and all in it.  Don't they look
elegant with their short legs and their swollen mouths?"

Bang--bang--bang!

CHAPTER TWELVE.

AN INLAND LAKE--ENCHANTING SCENERY--THE ENCAMPMENT--TROPICAL STORMS--
HUNTING THE RHINOCEROS--FRANK UNHORSED--LYELL'S ADVENTURE WITH A LION--
ENCOUNTER WITH A GORILLA.

Some degrees south of the Equator, and nearly four hundred miles from
the eastern shores of Africa, a tributary of the river up which the
saucy little _Bluebell_ was so quietly steaming, suddenly broadened out
into a beautiful lake.  Here about a week after the events narrated in
last chapter, our friends found themselves.  Not even Captain Lyell knew
the name of this sheet of water.  Perhaps it never had one, but Chisholm
was equal to the occasion.

"Call it," he said, "Loch Row Allan, in honour of my departed friend the
lion killer."  [Row Allan Gordon Cumming.]

And so, Loch Row Allan it was called.

I hope my young reader has not been taught at school to believe that the
interior of Africa is composed _entirely_ of deep, dark forests,
entangled bush, and dismal swamp.  If he has been, and could catch but
one glance at the wild and charming scenery around this inland lake; how
speedily he would be undeceived.  It is a bold and rugged mountain land,
hills above hills towering skywards, clusters of hills, not round but
facaded--peaked, and clad to two-thirds of their height with gigantic
forest trees and feathery palms.  There is many a bosky glen and dell
encompassed by these hills, and many a dark, wide wooded strath, and it
did not detract in the least from the charm of the scenery, in our
heroes' view, to know that these glens and straths were the home of the
elephant, the rhinoceros, and the king of the forest himself--the lordly
lion.  They determined to make this country their home for two or three
months at the least, and with this end they built themselves and their
people huts high up on the green side of a swelling hill that overlooked
the lake.

The woods and the plains beyond, nature had stocked with herds of deer,
the lake teemed with fish, there were patches of pine apples acres in
extent, mango-trees, guava trees, oranges, citron, limes and pomolos,
with bananas and plantains, and a hundred other delicious fruits they
knew not even the names of.  Surely in a land like this, there was but
little chance of their falling short of the means of subsistence.

But do not imagine they had not to rough it, for that they often had;
nor that the sun always shone, for that it did not.  Sometimes great
dark clouds would roll rapidly up from the horizon, and above them the
fast disappearing blue of the sky looked preternaturally deep and
intense, and from out these clouds the storm would burst in all its
fierce intensity, lightning such as they had never seen before, thunder
that seemed to rend the very hills, and rain that soon gathered into
cataracts that steamed and foamed down the mountain sides, on their way
to the lakes beneath.  These storms ended almost as quickly as they had
begun, and probably our heroes would have minded them but very little,
had it not been for the fact that, a few minutes before the rain began
to fall, scorpions, centipedes, and the largest and most loathsome of
spiders, came hastily trooping into the hut to seek for shelter.  What
instinct teaches them to do this I wonder?

Many gigantic specimens of the rhinoceros fell before the fire of their
rifles.  They afforded good but not always safe sport, as Frank one day
found to his cost.  He appeared one morning dressed "after the fashion
of the country," as he termed it, with shoulders, arms, and face well
greased and stained, and when he mounted his horse, every one was
obliged to admit that, to say the least, he looked "a noble savage."

Frank was greatly pleased at this, and away he rode, in company with his
friend Chisholm, determined, he said, to put in a good day.  There was a
plain not far away from the encampment which Chisholm, who liked to
retain Scottish nomenclature wherever he went, used to call the moor.
Here, on this particular occasion, they had the good luck to fall in
with several rhinoceroses, and rare sport they had with them.  They did
not wish to kill, they came out to chase, and rough though the ground
was, they had the best of it.  Frank slung his rifle behind him, and
when he got alongside any of the monsters he used his riding whip,
causing them at first to increase their speed, but soon to lose temper
and stand at bay, and use their terrible horns.  This gave the young man
a chance of showing his horsemanship off to perfection.

Several deer were brought down from the saddle, and, on the whole,
Chisholm, and the noble savage Frank, made a glorious day of it, and
were returning about four in the afternoon, tired and hungry, when, just
on the verge of the forest, lo! and behold, a rhinoceros scratching his
chin, and looking as mild as any old cow.

Frank rode up to flick him with his whip.  The beast backed for a
moment, but charged again fiercely and furiously, the dead wood snapped,
and, when Chisholm looked up, he saw his friend and horse rolling on the
ground.  The next to roll on the ground was the huge beast himself, for
Chisholm was handy with the rifle.  Frank got up smiling, and but little
hurt, but, alas! for the poor horse, he was stabbed to the heart.  The
noble savage had to ride into camp ignominiously perched on the crupper
of Chisholm's saddle.

But perhaps the sport which our friends enjoyed above all others was
elephant shooting, either on horseback or on foot, according to the
nature of the ground.  Of their haunts in the forests around the camp
they knew nothing at first, nor did their Zanzibar boys, and the first
to lead them on their sport was young 'Mboona, the son of a king of one
of the native tribes, who had become servant and guide-in-chief to the
camp.  His reward was to be a rifle, and well he earned it.

People who have never seen an elephant in his native fastnesses, can
have no idea of the strength, the ferocity, ay, and the cunning of the
animal.  Our sporting party took back with them in the little _Bluebell_
many hundreds of pounds' worth of valuable ivory, but if they did they
had to pay for it with many a hard day's work, in many a wild ride, and
many a hair-breadth escape.

As a rule, the elephants would run when pursued by men and dogs; then,
as they passed the spot where the rifles were stationed, they fell easy
victims to the hardened bullets.  They were not always particular in
which way they did run, however, and when they did not run right in the
direction of the guns, our friends would rush out in pursuit, when all
at once perhaps the herd would be turned, and come crashing back upon
them and their people.  They were not always angry; perhaps they were
thinking more of escape than revenge; but to be run down by even a small
herd of cow elephants is no joke.  Their feet are terribly heavy, and
they are not particular where they place them, so whenever a stampede
was checked and rolled back on the pursuers, it was _sauve qui peut_
with a vengeance.

Frank was one day rolled down thus, while on foot, and not only down,
but over and over; indeed the herd seemed for a time to be playing at
football with him.  He was covered from top to toe with blood and earth.

"Eton style of football is all very well," Frank said afterwards, "but I
never had such a doing as that before."

Chisholm had a worse doing, however.  He had fired at, without killing,
a gigantic bull.  The brute was on him ere he could either reload or
escape.  He was picked up as one might seize a kitten, and dashed into a
tree beyond even the elephant's reach.  The dogs would not tackle this
monster.  Hearing the terrible screaming, Lyell rode down to attack the
foe next, but the wounded animal was careering madly through the forest,
and trees that would be thought far from small in a park at home, were
snapping before him with the fury and impetus of the rush.  Lyell had
served in the Crimea, but he confessed himself he had never been nearer
to death before, except once.  He had been out shooting with a party in
the rough and solitary plains, that bound the Zulu land to the north and
west.  They had come principally for buffalo-shooting, but they soon
found out that there was wilder game than these to be found; and on the
very first night on which they bivouacked under the stars, they were
fain to entrench themselves well, and to keep the fires alight till
morning, for every now and then they could hear the peevish scream of
the hyena, the shrill bark of the jackal, and the appalling roar of the
lion.  Next day they found the carcases of the buffaloes they had slain
torn and devoured, and even their enormous bones broken and gnawed.
Lions are not looked upon by the true sportsman as very brave animals,
but a lion at bay, or a man-eating lion, is a terrible foe to encounter.

"One night," said Captain Lyell, "just as my biggest and strongest
Caffre servant was putting the finishing touch to our laager, he was
seized by an immense lion and home away, as one might say, from our very
midst; borne away, shrieking for help, into the darkness of the
adjoining bush.  The silence that succeeded the shrieks made our blood
run cold, for we knew that the poor boy was dead, and that the man-eater
had commenced his revolting feast.  We knew well, that having once
tasted human flesh, our camp, while he lived, would not be safe from his
attacks.  We lost no time, you may be sure, in carrying out the
execution of our plans.  It was a long weary day's work, and we were
about to return to camp, too exhausted by the heat and fatigue to do
much more, when suddenly there arose a shout from the party nearest the
laager--a shout and a roar--quickly followed by the report of rifles,
then more shouting and warning cries.  Then I could see the tawny
monster appearing suddenly in front of us.  I had no time to fire; my
comrade did, but I think he missed, and with a howl that seemed to shake
the earth, he sprang full upon me, seized me by the side, and bore me
almost fainting away, my two hands clutched in his murderous mane.  He
carried me far off into the jungle, running at first, then walking,
finally lying down with his burden under a tree.  The terrible moment,
then, had arrived, he was about to rend me in pieces, and no power on
earth could save me.  Overcome by fear and weakness, and by the loss of
blood, I fainted, and was found hours after by my comrades in the same
condition, with the lion extended by my side--dead of his wounds!"

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

The _Bluebell_ made many a run to different parts of the lake, and it
was during one of these excursions that Frank and Chisholm landed, for
the purpose of exploring a part of a forest that grew down close to the
water's edge.  It was not a likely place for lions--they are fond of
more light than this gloomy wood afforded--but they might, they thought,
get a chance shot at an elephant.  The ground was carpetted with moss,
and, with the exception of monkey ropes, so called, the stems of the
sturdy creepers, there was but little undergrowth.  Chisholm and Frank
strolled on and on, fearing nothing.

How silent it is in that dark wood, and how still!  Not a leaf moves,
not a fern frond quivers, only high over head there is a gentle sighing,
and when they gaze upwards they can see the sparkling of the leaves in
the sunshine, but that leafy canopy seems very far away.

Chisholm lags behind for a moment, he is looking to his rifle, and
sighting it for close quarters.  Frank strolls on.  Suddenly the silence
of the forest is broken by the most terrible yells, and Chisholm rushes
forward to find his poor friend in the clutches of a gorilla, with his
rifle torn from his grasp, and brandished high in air by the awful
beast.  But Frank, clutched by the throat, is quite insensible.  There
is not a moment, not a second, to be lost, and Chisholm fires almost at
close quarters, and the gorilla rolls dead at his feet.

It was well for both Frank and him that assistance was close at hand.
Dreading some danger, Fred and Lyell had followed them into the forest,
and come up just in time, for now the woods all around rang again with
the screams of the enraged gorillas, who, it would almost seem, had only
allowed Chisholm and Frank to penetrate so far into their domains, with
the hopes of encompassing the destruction of both.  But all the way back
to the boat, it was a close hand-to-hand fight with these wild and
terrible apes.  Frank, once on board, and laid on deck, with the
_Bluebell_ well clear of the wood, and the gentle breeze blowing in his
face, revival was a mere question of time; but he never forgot his first
and only encounter with the savage pongo.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

PART V--THE INDIAN JUNGLE.

A TETE-A-TETE DINNER--LETTERS FROM HOME--THE JOURNEY JUNGLEWARDS--THE
CAMP AND SCENERY AROUND IT--A SPORTSMAN'S PARADISE--LOST IN THE FOREST.

In a large and beautiful room in one of the upper storeys of a Club, on
the outskirts of Bombay, four gentlemen are seated at dinner one
evening, not long after the events related in the last chapter.  It is
evidently quite a _tete-a-tete_ affair, for they are all by themselves
in a corner, at the extreme end of the spacious apartment, close to the
great windows that lead on to the verandah.  The balmy evening air,
laden with the scent of a thousand flowers, steals in, and is put in
motion by an immense punkah which hangs above them, and kept moving by a
little nigger-boy, dressed in a jacket of snow apparently, who squats in
a far corner like a monkey, and requires the united efforts of the three
servants who wait at table to keep him awake.  No matter what these men
are carrying, they always stop as they pass to give Jumlah a kick,
making some such remark as--"Jumlah, you asleep again, you black rascal!
I kick ebery bit of skin off you presently?"  Or, "Jumlah, you young
dog, suppose you go asleep just one oder time, den I break ebery bone in
your black body!"

The jalousies are wide open, for the day has been hot, and every breath
of air is precious.  Although the waiters indignantly refer to the
colour of poor Jumlah's skin, they themselves are black, though dressed
in cool white linen.

You have guessed already who the gentlemen are.  Let us follow them out
to the verandah, where they have gone to sip their fragrant coffee.
Stars are twinkling in the bright sky, fireflies flit from bush to bush
in the gardens beneath, the distant sound of music falls upon their ear,
mingling with the far-off city's hum, the beating of tom-toms, and
shrill screams and yells, which may mean anything from mirth to murder.

Conversation during dinner had been very animated indeed; but sitting
out here on the cool verandah no one seemed much inclined to speak.
Frank had received letters from home, Fred had received letters from
Russia; and very pleasant letters, I ween, they were, for they bore
reading over and over and over again.  Chisholm's letters were what he
called "jolly enough," only as soon as he had read them, and laughed
over them, he just tore them up and pitched them into the basket.

"Hallo, you fellows!" cried Chisholm suddenly.  "Awake from your
slumbers."

"I wasn't asleep," said Frank.

"No; but you were dreaming, you young rascal."

"Do you know how _I_ feel?" said Lyell.  "I'm feeling sad at the
thoughts of parting with you fellows and going back to England."

"Then, my dear fellow, don't go," said matter-of-fact Chisholm
O'Grahame.

"By George, then," cried Lyell, "and I won't.  I'll apply for more
leave; and while the application is going home, and the reply coming
back, I'll run off with you boys into the jungles.  I know a deal more
about the country than either of you."

"Lyell," said Chisholm, "I knew you were a brick the very first day I
clapped eyes upon you."

They were indeed lucky to have made the acquaintance of such a man as
Lyell.  He had been pretty much at home in Africa; but in India he was
more so; and as soon as he had made up his mind to go with our heroes,
he commenced forthwith making preparations for the campaign against big
beasts.

He explained everything he did to his three friends, and told them his
reasons for acting as he did.  Tents were bought in Bombay, and
additional rifles--he was very learned on the subject of rifles and
rifle-bullets--and Chisholm, being the biggest man, was furnished with a
regular bone-smasher.  Twenty servants were hired, and a boat was
chartered to take their little expedition on to Madras.  Just three days
were spent in that city.

"If we stay any longer," Chisholm said to Lyell, "my young _confreres_
will be starting lotus-eating again.  Let us be off as soon as we can."

And so the very next day the journey up country was commenced: by train
at first, for a long long way; nobody was sorry when this part of the
cruise came to an end at a station near a tall forest, with a name that
was worse than Welsh to every one save Captain Lyell and a few of the
attendants.  By seven o'clock next morning, a start was made in the
direction of the south and east.

By the evening of the third day they had left civilisation a long way
behind them; they had journeyed on and on through vast tracts of jangle
lands, and mighty forests clad in all the rich and varied luxuriance of
a tropical summer.  They had passed many a strange romantic hamlet; from
the doors of the huts of grass and clay, little innocent naked children
had waddled forth to stare in wonder at the cavalcade, while the simple
owners offered them fruits of many kinds to eat, and water to drink.
They were often tempted to get down and spend a few hours shooting, for
they came to places where feathered game of many kinds abounded,
especially duck and peafowl.  But Lyell's counsel was always taken, and
his advice was, "Let us go on as speedily as possible towards the
mountain forests, and there encamp."  And so, as the last rays of the
setting sun shimmered down through the trees on them, they reached a
spot which Lyell thought would do excellently well as a camping-ground.

"Oh, isn't this a charming sight?" said Chisholm, addressing Frank, who
lounged on the howdah by his side.

They were a long way behind the others.  They did not mind that,
however; indeed, the elephant on which they were seated, pleased the two
friends far better than any other could have done.  He was slow, but
wondrous sure.  No fears of Jowser, as Frank baptised him, taking sudden
fright and dashing suddenly off and away over the jungle, as elephants
sometimes do, and ending by dashing their brains out, or tumbling over
some mighty precipice with them.  Jowser was somewhat more than a
hundred years old--a very experienced matter-of-fact old fellow, who
knew better than to hurry himself.  He required but little guidance--a
gentle touch with a cane on his left ear or his right, as the case might
be, was quite enough for him.  When he stopped short sometimes, to reach
above him for a few leaves to munch, his attendant would gently goad
him; but Jowser would turn up the tip of his trunk to him as much as to
say, "Put a handful of rice into that.  That's what Jowser wants.
Jowser is hungry."

But it suited Frank and Chisholm to be a little late of an evening,
because they found their friends already encamped, probably under the
banian-tree, and, better than all, supper ready--a curry of such
fragrance, that even a sniff at it would have made them hungry, if they
had not, as they always did have, the appetite of hunters.

The master of ceremonies did allow them one day, however, among the
peafowl.  In a piece of jungle--which Chisholm as usual persisted in
calling a moor--they found these beautiful birds in great abundance:
they were early astir that morning.  They had their own beaters, who
were principally Mahratta men, whom they had engaged in Bombay, and whom
Lyell had armed with rifles as well as spears.  "It is a mean thing,"
this gallant officer said to our heroes, "to send a man into the bush
unarmed; yet Englishmen constantly do it."

Independently of these they had volunteers from among the simple Hindoo
folks in whose country they were.  Brave, fool-hardy in fact, but as a
rule indolent, these men would work all day, for the sake of earning a
morsel of tobacco.

It was a glorious day's shooting our sportsmen, had, and it was but one
of many such days they enjoyed, after their encampment at the foot of
the mountains had been fairly formed.  Neither of them were fond of what
is called battue shooting, deeming it, as every true sportsman must,
somewhat unjust to the birds; but here there were very many mouths to
fill, and four guns to do all the work of filling them.  So they had to
make good bags.

And they did too.  It was always their custom to be early astir, but
they did not start on an empty stomach you may be well sure; and they
were quite ready for luncheon at twelve.  Then would come the hour for
siesta; for during the time of day when the sun is at its highest and
its hottest, it is neither pleasant nor safe to be out of the shade in
India.

"Why, Lyell," Fred Freeman said on the evening of the first day's big
shoot, "you have brought us to a perfect paradise, and a sportsman's
paradise too."

A sportsman's paradise?  Yes, surely the contents of those lordly bags
testified to that.  And what was it that was wanting in that bag, I
wonder?  Nothing you could wish to see.  Here were pigeons by the dozen,
and peafowls and jungle-fowls, to shoot which they had threaded the dark
mazes of the forest.  Here were ducks and geese, ay, and snipe and teal,
which they had waded neck-deep in paddy fields to find, to say nothing
of big fat bustards, and grouse and red-legged partridge, that had
fallen to their guns while crossing the moor; and last, but certainly
not least, a hare or two as well.

Now, when I say that there were growing around them, everywhere, the
most luscious fruits that can be imagined; when I say that the earth
yielded its turmeric [the basis of curry powder], and its deliciously
esculent roots; that spices of all kinds could be had for the gathering,
that the cocoa-nut palms held high aloft their tempting fruits, and that
the river abounded with fish, will you wonder when I tell you that our
friends lived like fighting-cocks.  Would they not have been fools if
they hadn't?

Chisholm and Frank occupied one sleeping tent, Fred Freeman and Captain
Lyell another.  Very comfortably too those tents were furnished, and
each canvas bed had its own mosquito curtain.  One night, however, Frank
found it impossible to sleep, so he got up quietly, dressed, and went
out.  What a heavenly night!  Never, except in the far-off sea of ice,
had he seen stars so bright and large.  There was light enough almost to
read by.  He could see everything around him--the men lying asleep at
the foot of the snow-white dining tent, the elephants and the picketed
horses, and, farther away, jungle and plain, forest and hills, all
bathed in starlight.  Frank could hear, high over the loud hum of insect
life, the distant yelp of the jackal, the gibber of the striped hyaena,
and the unearthly yell of the jungle cat.

"If there is nothing more terrible than that about," he said to himself,
"I shall go for a walk, just a little way.  Jooma," he continued,
addressing the sentinel, "I'm going to the banks of the river."

"Take care, sahib, take care," was the sentinel's warning.

When two whole hours passed away, and there were no signs of Frank's
return, Jooma became alarmed, and roused Chisholm, and Chisholm aroused
the whole camp.  Frank must be found, and that right speedily; but where
were they to seek him?  While they were deliberating which way to go,
the report of a rifle fell on their ears, coming from the forest behind
the camp.  Meanwhile clouds had banked up and obscured a great portion
of the sky.

"Now, hurry men, hurry, get your torches and come, there isn't a moment
to be lost if you would save my friend."

In ten minutes more they were on his track: by bent grass by a single
footprint, by a broken twig, and a hundred little signs that the eye of
a European would never have noticed, these men followed the trail by
torchlight, till far into the deepest and darkest part of the great
forest.  But now a pause ensued.  The trackers were puzzled.  The truth
is, that it was just at this spot that the disagreeable truth flashed
upon poor Frank that he was lost.  He had felt sure he could easily
retrace his steps, but trying to do so only led to a series of useless
wanderings up and down and round and round, often coming back again to
the same spot, though he knew it not, until the starlight forsook him,
and he found himself at last in the terrible position presently to be
described.

The trackers are at fault, and no wonder, yet not three hundred yards
away Frank lies at the bottom of a pit, into which he had stumbled, and
pulled after him the large withered branch of a mango-tree, and his
rifle had gone off as he fell.  He hears his friends firing to attract
his attention, he cannot reach his rifle to reply.  But there adown the
wind at last comes a thrice-welcome shout, "Coo-ee-ee!"  He tries to
answer, but the branch lies across his chest, and he can hardly breathe.
"Coo-ee-ee!  Coo-ee-ee!"  They hear his muffled tones at last; they
look no more for track nor trail.  Forward they dash, holding the
torches high over head.  "Coo-oo-ee!"  A gigantic leopard rises from his
lair, but with a startled yell disappears in a moment in the darkness.
Was that a huge python coiled round the tree?  If it was he had no time
to strike, so quickly do they speed along.  "Coo-ee-ee!"  They are close
at hand now, and now they are at the very mouth of the pit, and Frank
can talk to them and tell them how he is trapped.

Chisholm was so glad to see his friend once more safe and alive, that he
forgot entirely that he had resolved to scold him properly for his
rashness and folly.  But Frank never afterwards cared to have any
allusion made to his night ramble, and resented almost warmly Fred
Freeman's attempt to dub him the "somnambulist."

CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

ADVENTURE WITH A PYTHON--MOONDAH'S HOUSE--"THE TIGER!  THE TIGER!"--
PANTHERS--HUNTING WITH THE CHEETAH--THE PANTHER AND THE BOAR.

"Do you really think there are pythons or boa constrictors in the
forest?" asked Frank next day at dinner.

"I haven't a doubt of it," replied Lyell.  "At the same time I cannot
quite swallow all the tracker says about the enormity of the serpent he
saw when following up your trail in the woods."

"No," said Chisholm, "fifty feet of snake is rather more than most men
can swallow; but had you seen the tracker's eyes when he saw the tiger,
you'd have been willing to admit that they were big enough to
accommodate a very large amount of boa constrictor."

"It puts me in mind of an adventure I once had in South Africa," said
Lyell.  "One doesn't like speaking much of one's self, but I think, on
the occasion I refer to, I exhibited a fair amount of firmness and
presence of mind in a moment of deadly peril to one of my men.  I had
been out for a fortnight's shoot, beyond and to the nor'ard of the Natal
provinces.  There were four of us--our doctor, our purser, marine
officer, and myself.  Our sport was good, and the fun we had fairish.
We were seated at lunch one day in an open glade in the forest, when
suddenly we were startled by hearing the most terrific yells; and on
looking up beheld one of our Caffres speeding towards us, pursued by an
enormous python.  There was no time for escape, had escape been
honourable, which it was not.  I seized the rifle and bayonet from one
of our attendant marines, and next moment the python was impaled.  Oh,
don't think for a moment that that would have killed him!  In half a
second he had almost wriggled clear; but in doing so he turned the rifle
round so that the muzzle pointed almost down his throat.  It was a
terrible moment--thank Heaven that rifle was loaded, and that I had the
presence of mind to pull the trigger!  It was a case of `all hands stand
clear' now.  The python's head was shattered, but the convulsions of his
body, ere death closed the scene, were fearful to witness.  I don't want
to see the like again.  His body measured five-and-thirty feet; the gape
of his jaws measured over a yard.  I can understand a monster like this
swallowing a goat or even a deer itself."

A day or two after this the camp was struck, and a move made nearer to
the mountains, the tents being erected close to the river as before, but
still on elevated ground.  Here they were, then, in the very centre of
what might be called the home of the wild beasts, and both sport and
adventure might reasonably be expected in any quantity.  Herds of
elephants roamed in the deep forests, tigers and wild pigs were in the
thickets; bears, too, would be found, and birds everywhere.  They formed
no particular plan of attack upon the denizens of this wilderness; they
were bold hunters every one of them; they carried their lives in their
hands, but they omitted no precaution to defend and protect them.  They
always went abroad prepared for anything.

Chisholm called the spot where the camp was now fixed--and where it
remained until the commencement of the south-west monsoon warned them it
was time for departure--his Highland home.  It was indeed a Highland
home, and the scenery all around was charming.  And yet a walk of some
eight or nine miles brought them to what might be called the lowlands.
Here were great stretches of open country, interspersed with lakes and
streams, immense green fields of rice or paddy and maize, with groves of
cocoa-nut palms, and gardens where grew the orange-tree and the citron,
and where the giant mango-trees hid completely from view the primitive
huts of the villagers.

Moondah was head-man of one of these villages, and our heroes, while
returning home after a day's promiscuous shooting, used to stop to
refresh themselves at his house.  Moondah was a kind of a feudal lord
among his people.  He had built himself a house on the outskirts of his
village, just under the shadow of a vast precipice.  Indeed, it was
quite a castle compared to the frail huts of mud and wood in which the
villagers dwelt.  Moondah's castle was built of solid stone and lime,
the walls were of great thickness, and the roof was flat and surrounded
by embattlements; and it was very pleasant to sit here for half an hour,
while the sun was declining in the west, and sip the fragrant coffee,
which nobody could make so well as Moondah, and which he always
presented to them with his own hands.  The five miles that intervened
between his house and their encampment, seemed a trifle to them after
that.

It was, strange to say, at this head-man's house, and not in the jungle,
that they formed their first acquaintance with a tiger.  Close by the
walls ran a rapid stream, by no means large at the time of which I
write, but in the rainy season it mast have been swollen into quite a
broad and mighty river.  The day had been unusually warm, and the sport
very exciting.  Moondah was extremely pleased to see them; perhaps the
contents of Jowser's howdah, which had been left at Moondah's garden
gate, had something to do with his delight, for they seldom called upon
him without leaving a souvenir of some kind.  Moondah was in no wise
particular, so long as it was not buffalo or cow's flesh; but pigs and
deer pleased him much, and neither wild-cat, jackal, nor iguana lizards,
came wrong to him.

"Well, Moondah?" said Lyell.

"Salaam Sahib," replied Moondah, leading the way up-stairs to his
darkest and coolest room.  "I dessay you tired after your 'xertions; you
squat dere on de skins, and munch de fruit my little boy bring you.  I
fetch de coffee quick enough, you see.  Hallo! what is de matter now?"

This was addressed to the above-mentioned little boy, who had just
rushed in with the fruit-tray, which he dropped at his master's feet.

"Hooli! hooli!" was all the boy could gasp.  "The tiger! the tiger!"

"What!" cried Lyell, starting up, "a tiger in the very village?"

But it was easily explained: a dead bullock lay in a bit of bush only a
stone's throw up the stream, and on this the beast had doubtless come to
regale himself.  He was there now; and it was resolved to wait quietly
on the top of Moondah's house, and watch.

It was a long watch.  Daylight faded away, twilight faded into darkness;
the stars shone out; a great red round moon rose slowly up from behind
the trees, paling as it went, till at last it shone out high above them,
bright, and white, and clear.  But still no tiger made his appearance.
At last though, there was a crackling noise amongst the bushes, then a
stealthy footstep, and out into the open stalked the majestic beast.  He
stood for a moment as if to listen, then moved onwards to the river to
drink.  He presented a splendid shot.  Seeing Lyell's rifle at the
shoulder, Chisholm, who was of a chivalrous nature, withheld his fire.
But Lyell only wounded the brute in the leg.  He was staggered, and
emitted a roaring cough that seemed to shake Moondah's house to its very
foundation.  Now it was Chisholm's chance; he had knelt, and ere the
crack of his rifle had ceased to reverberate among the rocks the tiger
was stretched lifeless on the river's brink.

One day Moondah came to the camp.  It was evident he had something on
his mind, for he never came without good news of some kind.

"Twenty mile from here," he began, "lives a man who married two or tree
of my sister."

"Well done," said Lyell, laughing.

"But that is nothing," continued Moondah; "in the scrub around his
village are antelope plenty; and my brodder he keep cheetah.  There are
also panther in the scrub; and dere are,"--here Moondah's eyes sparkled,
and his mouth seemed to water--"dere are wild pigs in de woods."

"Oh, bother the pigs!" said Lyell.  "Let us go to the village and see
the cheetahs hunting.  Let us go for two or three days, and make a
regular big shoot of it."

Accordingly, next day they set out, and Moondah and his merrie men went
too.  The camp was not broken up, but elephants were taken--Jowser among
others--and horses, with plenty of ammunition and plenty of the good
things of this life, both to eat and to drink.  Their road led through
jungle, scrub, and moorland, and just skirted the great forests.  At
noonday they stopped for luncheon, and the usual siesta.  Chisholm and
Frank strolled off together, while it was getting ready; they walked
with caution, as usual, for there was cover enough about for anything.
They soon discovered that there was some one not far off who did not
belong to their party at all, and that he too was going in for a siesta.
An immense tiger!  Stretched on the grass by the river side, what a
lovely picture he made.  Chivalrous Chisholm O'Grahame! he would not
have fired at the beast thus for the world.  He admired him fully a
minute in silence, then--

"Pitch a cartridge at him," he whispered to Frank.

The result may easily be guessed.

"Wough, woa, oa!" roared the beast, springing up.  Chisholm gave him
both barrels.  He was quiet enough after that.  But had Chisholm only
wounded the creature, it might have interfered materially with the
continuation of my story, for Frank had no arms.

That evening found them encamped near the village of Chowdrah.  They
were duly introduced to Moondah's much-married brother-in-law, and to
the cheetahs.  Frank was a little afraid of these animals at first,
especially when one of them made a kind of a playful spring at him and
brought him down, but this the much-married man assured Frank was all in
fun.  Next minute the same cheetah sat down by Frank's side, and purred
to him, like a monster cat.  In shape of body they were not unlike a
mastiff, long-tailed, spotted, loose in the loins and leggy; they had
none of the grace and beauty of the panther.

Next day and for several days our heroes enjoyed the sport of antelope
hunting, and the enjoyment was very real.  They did not always find, but
when they did it was interesting to watch the movements of the
now-unhooded cheetah.  How lightly and cautiously he springs to the
ground, flopping at once behind a bit of cover; how slowly but carefully
he crawls towards the herd.  Ah! but they see him now, and off they
bound.  Frank strikes spurs into his charger, and, wild horseman that he
is, follows the chase.  Chisholm and Lyell and Fred are not very far
behind.

But that bounding antelope and that fleet-footed cheetah distanced them
all.  They were never once in at the death.  Moondah and his men used to
go wild with joy when the antelopes were brought in.  They could do
nothing but clap their hands and sing, "Hoolay-kara!  Hoolay-kara!" till
they were tired.

Frank so set his heart upon those cheetahs, that he determined to beg
for a young one.  Ay, and he got one too; but for the life of him he
could not make up his mind whether to term it "kitten" or "puppy."

Greatly to the joy of Moondah they managed to kill not a few wild pigs.

In a bit of scrub or bush about an acre in extent they were told one day
that a panther was hid.  This was a chance not to be missed.  Stake nets
were planted at the side next to the hill where doubtless the beast's
cave lay, the guns were well positioned, and the beaters began their
work.  Mr Panther, however, did not see the fun of going into that net.
Disturbed at last, he quitted cover by making a wild rush at the
beaters themselves; two were rolled over, and one severely lacerated in
the leg.  Fred was the nearest gun, and he wounded the panther in the
shoulder, without stopping his way however.  Well, a wounded panther
must attack whatever with life in it happens to come his way.  In this
instance it was an old grey boar, who was coming round a corner,
wondering to himself what all the row meant.  The panther repented his
rashness next minute, when the boar's tusks were fleshed in his neck.
It was a curious battle, brought to a speedy termination by Chisholm's
bone-crusher.  His monster bullet whizzed through the panther's body,
and pierced the breast of the huge boar, and they fell as they fought.

"Now," said Lyell, "I do call that a good shot.  Bravo!  Chisholm."

CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

ELEPHANT HUNTING--THE ELEPHANT AND TIGER--THE TUSKER'S CHARGE--THE
RUNAWAY ELEPHANT--THE MAN-EATING TIGRESS.

Those of my readers who have followed me so far in my history of the
wanderings and adventures of our heroes cannot but have observed that in
the character of Frank Willoughby there was a certain amount of what, to
give it the right name, must be called foolhardiness.  But poor Frank's
last adventure in the Indian jungle taught him a lesson which he is not
likely to forget while life lasts.

Elephant shooting seemed at first, to Frank and Fred at least, very
cruel and unnecessary sport.  Elephants are so sagacious and wise.

"Just think, for instance," said Frank, "of shooting a noble beast like
poor old Jowser!"

"Ah, but," Lyell explained, "it isn't every elephant you'll find equal
to Jowser.  Moondah there will tell you of the immense destruction
elephants cause to the maize and rice crops."

"Yes, yes, dat is so," said Moondah; "if they are not kill, and plenty
kill too, they soon conquer all de country worse dan de Breetish."

Well, apart from the apparent cruelty of killing the elephant, which Sir
Samuel Baker calls the "lord of all created animals," there is no sport
in the world so exciting and dangerous as this, and none that requires
greater hardihood or daring.  No wonder then that our heroes spent over
a month at it, meeting of course with many other wild adventures, but
_seeking_ none other.  Moondah it was who organised for them their army
of beaters and trackers, and the scenery through which these men led
them, was oftentimes grand and beautiful in the extreme; not that they
had much time during the chase to admire the loveliness of nature, it
was while riding homewards to their temporary camp in the cool of the
evening, or stretched beneath the trees when dinner was over, that they
could thoroughly enjoy quietly gazing on all things around them.  This
was indeed the _dolce far niente_.

Our heroes one day had an opportunity of witnessing a curious encounter,
between an elephant and a tiger.  They themselves were within fifty
yards of the herd when it took place, and under cover; the elephants
were quietly browsing on the plain, and evidently not suspecting that
danger lurked on either hand.  One young calf had strayed some little
distance from the parent.

"So capital a chance as this," said a tiger to himself, "is seldom to be
found; I would be a fool to miss it."

There was a scream from an elephant in the rear, and a wild rush from
one in the van.  The tiger seemed quite unable to check his speed in
time, and next moment he was crushed to atoms under the terrible feet of
the furious tusker.  There was a crash and a scream, and a cloud of
dust.  Then the elephant could be seen gathering himself up from where
he had literally fallen upon his foe.

Fred Freeman used to chaff Chisholm O'Grahame about the immensity of his
rifle.

"I wouldn't carry such a tool as that for the world," Fred said one day.

"No," said Chisholm, laughing, "for, my dear boy, you couldn't.
Besides, its kicking would kill you."

Now, early next morning a rogue elephant was to be tracked, and if
possible bagged.  He was a wily old rascal this, who seldom cared to go
with the other herds; he doubtless thought he fared better when all by
himself.  He was a murderous old rascal too; for on two separate
occasions he had attacked men, and more than one death could be laid at
his door.  It was not the first time that some or other of our heroes
had gone out against this Goliath.  But though he had been wounded
several times, he did not seem to mind it; it evidently did not spoil
his appetite, for on this particular morning they tracked him for miles
through a bamboo brake, and at last could hear him on ahead, browsing on
the branches as he marched.

"Now give me this shot," cried Fred, "all to myself."

"Have a care, then," said Lyell.

"Never fear for me," said Fred, and next minute he had crept into the
bush and was out of sight; and his companions with a portion of the
people sat down near a pool, left by some recent rain, to wait.
Presently the ring of a rifle was heard, then a shout, then back rushed
Fred, faster far than he had gone away, and far less buoyant too, for
behind him was the monster tusker, eyes aflame and ears erect, bent on
revenge--bent on doing some one to death.  Yes, but the pen has never
yet been dipped in ink that can describe the fury of an angry tusker's
charge.

Lyell fired quickly.  Lyell missed.  Now Chisholm's mighty rifle made
the welkin ring, and down rolled the elephant on his head, raising a
sheet of water that drenched every one of the party as a green sea would
have done on ship-board.

"I took a temple shot at him," said Fred.

Lyell roared with laughter.  "Yes," he said, "and you hit him through
the nose.  Ha! ha! ha! that accounts for the beggar charging with trunk
in air, instead of curled close."  [As they almost invariably do.]

"What do you think of my rifle now?" said Chisholm, quietly.

Fred smiled, but said nothing.

Tiger-shooting from howdahs they found excellent sport--just a little
slow for Frank though, who would rather have been on horseback.  But one
day he had a ride he little expected; he was all by himself in Jowser's
howdah.  The grass was long and rough, but there were bushes about.
From one of these an enormous tiger tried to steal away.  Chisholm,
handy though he was in times of danger, wounded but didn't kill.  Next
moment the beast had settled on Jowser.  "Come, come, none o' that,"
roared Jowser, setting off at the gallop.  The tiger fell next moment,
with a bullet from Frank's Express through his head.  But Jowser was
off; fairly off.  Who would have thought it of Jowser?  Two hours of
that wild ride, ere Jowser brought up to rub his rump against a tree,
and for a week after Frank felt as if he had no more bones than a
jelly-fish.

A tigress had been fired at by a party of horsemen, and wounded; but man
and horse went down before that fearful charge.  Next moment she had
seized the rider, and borne him away into the bush.  It was her first
taste of human blood; but not the last, for long after this she was
known and feared by the natives as the most daring man-eater ever known.
She would even enter villages by night and carry people away.

Poor Frank! he seemed destined, although the youngest of the three, to
have all the hard knocks and blows.  He was one night asleep beneath a
banian-tree when the man-eater entered, and attempted to seize a man.
Frank, _with unloaded rifle_, rushed to the rescue.  Well it was for him
that Fred Freeman was close at hand: that man-eating tigress drank no
more blood.  But Frank, how frightfully still he lay!  Was he dead?  All
but, reader.

This was, indeed, a sad ending to their adventures in India; but life
cannot be all sunshine.  When camp was broken up a week after, and our
heroes turned their faces once more seaward--Frank on a litter--one
sorrowing heart at least was left behind.  It beat in the breast of
honest Moondah.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

PART VI--AUSTRALIA.

CONVALESCENT AT LAST--A RUN TO AUSTRALIA--SET OUT FOR THE INTERIOR--THE
SCENERY--A QUEER MISTAKE--FRANK'S COUSINS.

Poor Frank Willoughby--for two long weeks his spirit hovered 'twixt life
and death.  It was a happy hour for his friends when he was pronounced
out of danger; and for Frank himself, when he was told that he had
nothing now to do in the world but just to get well again.  For many
weeks longer he had to lie on his back, however.  But he was in that
weak, dreamy kind of a state, that he did not mind the confinement.
Every morning Chisholm brought him all the news, and read to him for
hours.  But how shall I describe the joy he felt the first day he went
out for exercise?  This getting well after a long illness in a foreign
land is a pleasure that few ever know; but the joys of convalescence are
sufficient reward to the invalid for all he has previously suffered.

Frank was borne about in a palanquin.  He wondered whether he would ever
again bestride a fiery steed, and go bounding along over the plains, as
had been his wont.  But he grew so rapidly strong and well, after he
began to walk, that he ceased to wonder at anything; and when he and his
friends embarked on board a saucy clipper bound for distant Australia,
he felt nearly as strong as ever he was in his life.

Frank had cousins in Australia.  They farmed sheep or something, Frank
was not quite sure it mightn't be kangaroos; but they were good people,
and had ornithorynchus soup and cockatoo pie for dinner as often as not,
with cold black swan on the sideboard.  So one of the boys had written
him to say.  Frank had the letter in his portfolio, and showed it to
Lyell, and there was a deal of laughing over it.  If I had that letter
now I would just print it _in extenso_, to save myself the trouble of
writing this chapter.  Such a glowing account of Australian life was
surely never penned before; and, if it could only be credited, what a
life of wild adventure Frank's cousins must have led!  Here were
wonderful stories about emigrants and convicts, and settlers and
savages, serpents and snakes, mixed up with emus, and kangaroos, and
cockatoos, and any amount of other _oos_.  And here were tales about
bushrangers, and bush-riding, and buck-jumpers, and bullock-hunters; and
the allusions to woomeras, and spears, and boomerangs, were as numerous
as though they had been sprinkled in from a pepper-box.

Frank was himself again long ere the clipper reached Sydney, but he felt
doubly himself when, a few days afterwards, mounted on a goodly horse,
with valise strapped on the saddle, he and his friends, with guides and
guards, left the smoke of Sydney far behind them, and cantered merrily
away bushwards.

It was a long journey to the station or village where Frank's cousins
lived.  It took them quite a week to get there.  They travelled
principally in the morning, and again at eventide, resting in the shade
near their hobbled horses, during the time the sun was high.

They had not gone far from the capital ere they plunged into a deep,
dark, silent forest--silent save for the strangely monotonous song of
the cicala, and so for miles, and so for many leagues.  Our heroes felt
they would have given anything to listen, sometimes, to the cry of a
bird, or even the howl of a wild beast.  The inns at which they stayed
at nights were rough in the extreme, but they soon got worse, then they
gave them up, and preferred camping out, and whenever of an evening they
reached some open glade, there they took up their abode.  But forests
grew less dense at last, and the scenery most charming.  The blue
gum-trees, with stripes of pendent bark, that Fred and Frank used to
admire and marvel at, gave place to lighter timber.  By night the whole
air was alive with strange sounds and strange sights, especially when
the camp was near the water.  The snoring sound of the bull-frog, the
cry of the flying fox and opossum, mingled with the cooing of wild
birds.

But now they were nearing the home of Frank's cousins.  They inquired
one day at an inn if the Thompsons lived near.

"Certainly," said the man.  "Jack," calling to an old black, "show these
gentlemen where the Thompsons live."

"I'll go and prepare dem," said Jack.

And off he went.  He was back again in half an hour, and then led the
way through the wood.

"What sort of people are they?" asked Frank of Jack, the guide.

"Oh! ever so nice, _beautiful_ people, b-be-beautiful?"

"The old gentleman is my uncle," continued Frank.

"Oh!" said the guide, "he is a beautiful old man.  Bea-utiful!"

Now there were two families named Thompson, one white and the other
black; the family old Jack took them to was the black; but judge of the
amusement of Frank's friends when old Jack, standing stick in hand on
the right of the group, introduced them to the Thompsons at home.  Of
course Chisholm, on the spot, demanded an introduction to Frank's
prettiest cousin, who was nursing a pickaninny [a baby], and Fred must
go up and shake hands with the old man and call him uncle, and Lyell,
not to be outdone in politeness, squatted down beside the old "jin," his
wife, and got into conversation right pleasantly.  Poor Frank hardly
knew what to do, but when Jack said the old couple liked grogs, he sent
for some, and Jack shared it with the Thompsons, and there was such
laughing and merriment, and talking and fun, that it isn't any wonder
that after they had left, Lyell laughingly declared he never remembered
spending such a pleasant time in his life.

Frank found the right Thompsons next day, and nicer nor braver boys
never lived.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

THE COROBORY--NATIVE ARMS--QUIET LIFE IN THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH--CHISHOLM
AND EROS--A DAY WITH THE KANGAROO HOUNDS.

A corobory is a war dance by native savages.  Our heroes had the
pleasure of gazing at more than one, before they finally left Australia
in search of new adventures.  But very terrible those savages look,
dancing madly round the fire in the depths of the gloomy forest, and
wildly brandishing their war weapons, their boomerangs, their woomeras,
their waddies, and their spears, while the flickering flames light up
their naked painted bodies, and their yells and cries re-echo through
the woods.

Very expert are these New Hollanders with the use of the few weapons
they carry.  They can hurl their spears with terrible effect for a
hundred yards or more, with the assistance of the woomera, a piece of
wood which is retained in the hand, and acts as a lever.  The boomerang
is apparently a magical instrument.  Its actions, when thrown by the
hand of a native, are marvellous; the thing does his bidding as if it
were one of the fabled genii under the control of a magician.

The uncle and cousins of Frank were right glad to see him and his
friends.  They did not know how kind to be to them.

"You see," said Mr Thompson, "you find us all in the rough."

"But I'll be bound all in the right as well," said Lyell.

"Well, well, well," he said to Frank, "who would have thought of seeing
you out here, and do you know, my boy, I would hardly have known you,
you are wonderfully changed."

"Well," replied Frank, laughing heartily at his uncle's pleasantry,
"seeing that I was only a year and a half old when you left England, you
cannot wonder there is a little change."

"How do you like your welcome?"  Frank asked of Chisholm on the morning
of the second day.

"It's a Highland welcome, Frank; a Highland welcome."

Chisholm thought he could not say more than that.

Old Mr Thompson was greatly amused at the mistake of Jack, the native
guide, and their adventure with the other Thompsons, but he added he
really believed Jack had done it on purpose, for the humour of the
Australian native is of a very strange order, but none the less genuine
for all that.

The house where our heroes now found themselves billeted was somewhat
after the bungalow stamp--a widely-spread comfortable house, all on one
flat, but it was altogether pleasant to live in.  The gardens around it
formed one of its principal charms; so cool they were, so green, so
shady and scented.

Frank and Lyell and Fred went everywhere about the great farm; a farm so
big, so wide, and wild, that it not only took days and days to ride
across; but when they went out of a morning, with their horses and
kangaroo hounds, they never knew what might turn up before they
returned.  It might be a warragh hunt [the wild dog of the interior], or
a scamper after the emu or kangaroo, or they might settle down to hours
and hours of quiet fishing, or try to shoot the _ornithorynchus
paradoxus_.  Then there were wild-fowl in abundance, quails and snipe
and pigeons, and all were just tame enough to afford what might be
called decent sport.

I have not mentioned Chisholm as taking much part in these sporting
adventures, and must I tell you why?  "Well, he was very fond of a game
of whist, and also of smoking under the honeysuckles and the green
mimosa trees; and Frank's uncle was such a genuine old fellow, and
Frank's aunt such a delightful, and kindly, thoroughly English lady.
Oh! but I feel that I am only beating about the bush, so I must confess
the truth at once, though for Chisholm's sake I'd rather have concealed
it.  One of Frank's cousins there was a young and charming girl; and--
and--and Chisholm had fallen over head and ears in love.  It is with
much reluctance I tell it; and it is strange, too, that one by one my
heroes, my mighty hunters, whose hearts, like their sinewy arms, ought
to have been hearts of oak or steel, should fall into the power of the
saucy little god Eros.  But it is the truth, and there is no getting
away from it.  As soon, however, as Chisholm knew and felt he was
conquered at last, he confessed the same to his companions.

"But I'm not going to make any engagement, you know," he added.  "I've
never been in love before, so I don't know much about it; but if I'm not
cured by the time we get back to old England, why then I'll return to
this lovely place just to see if Edith will know me again."

Sly Chisholm!  He felt sure that he would not be forgotten.

Many, many miles from the farm where lived the Thompsons, on a certain
day there was to be a grand meet, and thitherwards went our heroes with
Frank's cousins, starting on the day before.  What a difference, they
thought, from an English meet, where after an early breakfast one can
mount his horse and ride leisurely away, along well-paved roads and
green lanes to the appointed rendezvous, and after a scamper of hours
return to a comfortable dinner.  Here there were no roads; their way lay
across the plains, through the deep dark forest, over lofty mountains,
and through rivers; and it was very late ere they arrived at their
camping-ground.  Then their saddles were their pillows, a blanket the
bed, and the star-spangled dome of heaven their roof-tree.

But they were none the less fresh next morning, and were early astir; it
would be a delightful day, they felt sure of that, for the sun was
already up, and there was hardly a cloud in all the mild blue sky.
Neither too hot nor too cold: it was quite a hunter's morning.  The
scenery, too, through which they rode all day was ever varying, but ever
beautiful.  Frank said when the day was done, and they once more
stretched their tired limbs around the camp-fire, that he had never
enjoyed himself so much in his life.

"What, not down in Wales?" said Fred, quietly.

"Circumstances alter cases," said Frank.

The hunters on this occasion mustered strongly, there being a field of
little under fifty, principally settlers and settlers' sons.  They
brought their own dogs--strong-built hounds, just suited for the wild
work they have to accomplish.  More and more exciting grew the chase as
the day wore on; and it ended in such a finale as can only be witnessed
in one country in the world, and that is Australia.  Kangaroos, wild
horses, bullocks, emus, hounds and men, mixed in apparently inextricable
confusion.

Now it was all very well for Frank to boast about the grand day he had
enjoyed.  He had been lucky: his horse and he seemed made for each
other.  He was in at the death.  Fred was not; but Fred's horse was.
Chisholm and his horse were both there; but, alas for glory!  Chisholm's
horse's heels were all in the air, and Chisholm himself--why, he was
down under somewhere.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

PART VII--THE PAMPAS.

SWALLOWED UP IN THE FOREST--BUENOS AYRES--AWAY TO THE WILDS--A COLONY OF
HIGHLANDERS--FRANK TO THE FORE.

There is no word in the world your true British sailor better knows the
meaning of than that little noun _duty_.  Lyell's time was up; he must
hurry back to Sydney, and thence to England, by very quickest boat; and
so he did, and his last words to our heroes were these:--

"Don't think of returning without having a look at the Pampas; to be
sure you might go straight to San Francisco and away home by train and
steamer.  That would be going round the world in one sense--a landsman's
not a sailor's sense.  Whenever I meet a man who says he has been round
the world, I just pull him up sharp by asking him some such question as,
`Did you ever drink tea in Pay-San-Du?'  That usually settles him.
By-bye.  We'll meet again."

And away went merry-hearted Lyell, leaving sadder hearts behind him.
Yes, but sad only for a time.  There was a deal to be seen in Australia
yet, and Chisholm was not sorry to spend a few months longer in this
queer country, where everything seems topsy-turvy.  But their last day
in the kind and hospitable home of the Thompsons came round, and all too
soon to one at least; and so adieus were spoken and whispered, hands
were pressed, ay, and foolish tears were shed by pretty eyes, and
handkerchiefs waved; then the great forest seemed to swallow them up.

The great green and gloomy forest has swallowed our heroes up; but, hey
presto! what is this we see?  A blue, blue sea in which a brave ship has
just dropped anchor--a bluer sky that makes the eyes ache to behold;
other ships at anchor and boats coming and going from a distant town,
only the spires and steeples of which can be seen with the naked eye.
On the deck of this ship stand Chisholm, Fred, and Frank, and beside
them a smart naval officer in blue and gold and white.

Yes, you have guessed right.  Lyell was the first to greet them when the
anchor rattled down into the shallow waters off Buenos Ayres.  He had
been appointed to a South American station, and here he was, looking as
happy and jolly and red as ever.

"And at present," said Lyell, "I am my own master; so for six weeks I'm
at your service."

There was little encouragement for stopping in this city of straight
streets and tame houses, and heat and dust, so they jumped at Lyell's
suggestion to get on land as soon as possible.  Lyell knew some folks,
he said, that would "show them a thing or two."

A long journey first in a comfortless train, through a country as level
and lonesome as mid-ocean itself.  Hot! it was indeed hot, and they were
glad when the sun went down; for the carriages in which they rode were
over-upholstered, and the paint stood up in soft boiling blisters on the
wood-work.

Now the journey is changed to one by river.  Not much of a boat, to be
sure; but then it is comparatively cool, and the scenery is sylvan and
delightful.  On once more next day, this time by diligence.  This
conveyance had none of the comfort of the Hyde Park canoe-landau.  It
was just what Lyell called it in pardonable slang, "a rubbly old
concern--a sort of breed betwixt an orange-box, a leathern portmanteau,
and a venerable clothes-basket.  They paid a hawser out from its bows,
and bent the nags on to that."  Frank thought of his elephant ride.

But the country grew more hilly and romantic as they proceeded, and the
inns, sad to say, worse and worse.  Their beds were inhabited--strangely
so; our heroes did not turn in to study natural history, or they might
have done so.  Indeed they had to rough it.  The country grew wilder
still; they had left the diligence with nearly broken bones; bought
hones, hired guides, and now they found themselves on the very
boundaries of a savage land.  Ha! the fort at last, where Lyell's
friends lived.  Their welcome was a regal one.  Half a dozen Scotchmen
lived here, four of them married and with grown-up families--quite a
little colony.

They shook hands with Lyell a dozen times.  "Oh, man!" they cried, "but
you're welcome."  Then they killed the fatted calf.

These good people were farmers; their houses all rough, but well
furnished; their flocks and herds numerous as the sands by the
sea-shore.  A wild, lonely kind of a life they led with their wives and
their little ones, but they were content.  There were fish in the
streams and deer in the forest.  You had but to tickle the earth with a
toasting-fork, and it smilingly yielded up _pommes de terre_ which would
grace the table of a prince.

Every soul in the colony was a McSomebody or other; so no wonder
Chisholm was in his glory, no wonder--

  "The nicht drive on wi' sangs and clatter."

When our heroes heard their principal host call out, "Send auld Lawrie
McMillan here [his real name was Lorenzo Maximilian] to give us a tune,"
they had expected to see some tall old Highlander stride in with the
bagpipes, not an ancient, wiry Spaniard, guitar-armed.  Is it any wonder
Chisholm burst out laughing when this venerable ghost began to sing--

  "Come under my plaidie, the night's gaun to fa'."

Well, getting such a welcome as this in the midst of a wilderness was
enough to make our heroes forget all former hardships.  The dinner was a
banquet.  There were many dishes that were new to them; but had Frank,
who was fastidious as regards eating, known that _lagarto soup_ was made
from the iguana lizard, a perfect dragon; that curried _potro_ was
horse, and that _peludo_-pie was made of armadillo, I don't think he
would have sent his plate twice for either.

Frank trod on the tail of an iguana next day.  The dragon, seven feet
long, and fearful to behold, turned and snapped.  Frank, armed with a
stick, would not fly, but fought.  The Scotchmen were delighted.  They
tossed their bonnets in the air, and shouted "Saint George for merrie
England!"  Never mind, they might laugh as they pleased; but Frank
killed the dragon.

Saint George, as Chisholm now dubbed him, quite won the affection of the
llama hunters next day; he was the only one of our heroes who kept
alongside the Indians in their furious gallop at the heels of the fleet
pacos.

[The _lama pacos_, hunted for its wool, chiefly used in rope and
cloth-making.]

All day long Frank was well to the fore, and how he was wishing he could
throw the lassoo or bolas.

Sweet Lizzie McDonald was the prettiest girl in the fort; she was the
wildest huntress as well.  She and her brothers "rigged out," as Lyell
called it, young Frank in native dress; and he rode by her side to the
hills next day, presumably in the capacity of cavalier, but really as
pupil.  And Frank was an apt pupil; he didn't think the time long.

"Lucky dog you," said Lyell, "if I wasn't a sailor, I'd throw myself at
Lizzie's feet.  I wouldn't mind being lassooed by a girl like her.
Heigho!"

CHAPTER NINETEEN.

CHASING WILD HORSES--OSTRICH-STALKING--A MOONLIGHT RIDE--A DEED OF
BLOOD--LOS INDIOS!--THE FIGHT--VICTORY AND PURSUIT.

Knowing, as we do, how good a horseman Frank was, it is almost needless
to say that before he was one month in this country he was as handy with
bolas or lassoo as one of the natives.  The former he preferred: it
quitted his hands like stone from a sling, next moment the llama or
guanaco was down; there was no dragging, no cruelty.

The battue he did not like.  But chasing wild horses was quite another
thing.  This was a manly and a useful sport; the very hunted horses
themselves seemed to like it, and used to stand in herds on heights
sniffing the air, as much as to say, "catch me if you can, but I don't
mean to be caught napping."  Nor were they; and a chase of this kind was
sometimes most exciting.  The poor colts that were lassooed were broken
in speedily enough, it must be allowed, but in a manner that was cruel
in the extreme; but brutality to animals is the order of the day in the
Pampas.  The bullocks are treated horribly; so, too, are their dogs, and
every animal that comes under the native's domination.  The estancia,
where our heroes dwelt, was about two hundred yards square; there was a
fort at one end of it, surrounded by a strong wall covered with a ditch
filled with water--the whole of the little village being near the river.
In case of trouble with the Indians, all the colony could take refuge
here, and draw up the bridge.  The servants were Gauchos.  On the
arrival of Mr McDonald and his kinsmen, there had at first been many
broils with Los Indios.  These treacherous Indians are a flat-faced
copper-hued race, with most forbidding countenances; and lying and
thieving seem really to be part and parcel of their education.  At all
events, they are adepts at both.

Chisholm wanted one day to go ostrich-stalking, or rhea-hunting you
might better term it.  These curious birds are as fleet as the wind, you
cannot ride them down in the open; but you can approach them near enough
with mules, to get a shot when fires are lit here and there on the
plain, and the creatures get confused.  It had been a long day's sport;
and the moon had arisen, and was flooding all the beautiful country with
its soft and mellow light, ere the party had got within two leagues of
the estancia.  But they knew the welcome that there awaited them, and so
on they rode, slowly but cheerfully, singing as they went.  There would
have been less music at their hearts, had they seen the expression of
mingled hate and cunning on the faces of those fiends behind the cactus
bush.  What were they lurking there for?  Why did they not come boldly
forth?

Lizzie and her sister met them at the garden gate.  They had been
watching for the cavalcade for fully an hour, and were rejoiced when
their song fell upon their listening ears.  Everyone was extremely happy
and lively that evening; and it was quite ten o'clock before any one
thought of retiring.  Silence at last fell on the estancia.  Higher and
higher rose the moon, flooding the land with light; there isn't a sound
to be heard, save the buzz of insect, the call of wild drake, or the
mournful cry of the owl.

And the night wore on.

It must have been considerably past midnight when suddenly from down the
glade where the horses were grazing, there arose a shriek so piercing,
so full of wild imploring grief, that it found a response in every heart
in the estancia sleeping or awake.  While they listened it was repeated
only once, but this time it died away in a moan, that told the terrible
tale that a deed of blood had been done.

"Los Indios?  Los Indios?"  That was the shout from the Gaucho camp.

"To arms, men, to arms!" roared patriarchal old McDonald, rushing sword
in hand into our heroes' bed-chamber.

There was bustle and hurry now, but no confusion.  The women were got
into the fort first, the men covering their retreat, and hardly was this
effected ere there was a headlong rush of a dark cloud that swept
upwards from the river's brink.

"Fire, men!" cried McDonald.  "Give it 'em."

There was a rattling volley, and the cloud fell back with shouts and
groans.  In five minutes more every man was inside, and the drawbridge
was up.

Foiled in their attempt to seize and occupy the estancia by a surprise,
the Indians, who were over a hundred strong, would hardly dare to attack
the fort before morning.  Nor did they seem to want to, but twice they
made attempts to creep towards the houses, intent on plunder, but such a
contingency as this had been well considered while building the fort,
and those who now made the attempt bitterly repented their rashness the
very next moment.

The men in the fort were thirty in all; their rifles were twenty.
Twenty rifles against a hundred spears, the odds were not so
overwhelming; but those Indians are terribly cunning in their mode of
warfare, as our heroes soon found out, for small balls of burning grass,
thrown sling-fashion, attached to a stone and rope of skin, soon began
to fall thick and fast into the garrison.

McDonald made up his mind he would wait no longer.  The drawbridge was
suddenly lowered, and out rushed the defenders.  The surprise was
sudden, the rout complete.

"To horse, to horse!" cried McDonald, who seemed to be everywhere in the
fight.  Then followed a wild stampede of the Indians, numbers of them
bit the sod, and the rest scattered and disappeared.  They seemed indeed
to melt away.

When the victors returned it was so nearly day that no one would think
of retiring, so breakfast was got ready.

This night's adventure did not interfere in the least with the sport our
heroes enjoyed, during the remainder of their stay.  But the Indians
never showed face again.

CHAPTER TWENTY.

PART VIII--THE BACKWOODS.

ROUNDING CAPE HORN--STORM AND TEMPEST--SAN FRANCISCO--GUIDES FOR THE
BACKWOODS--THE GROUP AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE--A WILD HUNTER'S STORY.

Two months after the adventures related in last chapter, our wandering
trio of friends found themselves bivouacked in one of the forests of the
far West, just as the shades of evening were beginning to deepen into
night.  They had bade adieu to kind-hearted Captain Lyell at Monte
Video, finding a passage in an American ship to San Francisco.  Heavy
weather had been experienced while rounding the Horn, weather that put
them in mind of the old days up north in the ice-fields: strong
head-winds snow-laden, against which they could scarcely stand, far less
walk; tempestuous grey seas, foam-fringed, that often broke aboard of
them with sullen roar, or went hurrying astern with an angry growl, like
a wild beast disappointed in its prey.  But the good barque had borne
herself well.  And when at length her head was fairly north, clouds, and
gloom, and storm fled away; the sun shone down on a sea of rippling
blue; reefs were shaken out, stu'n'sails set alow and aloft; and in a
few weeks they were safely at anchor not far off that busy world's mart,
that mighty mushroom city called San Francisco.  Here they had lazed for
a whole week, then wended their way towards the wilderness.  Yet am I
loth to call it a wilderness, this beautiful tract of country in which
they now found themselves.  Savage and wild it was; its woods more often
rang with the war-whoop of the Indian, or the roar of the grizzly bear,
than echoed to the sound of the white roan's rifle; savage in all
conscience.  But no one who has not wandered in its great and
interminable forests, roamed over its mountains, or embarked on its
thousand and one rivers and lakes, could imagine that such sublime
scenery could exist anywhere out of a poet's dream or an artist's fancy.

Now, although as the historian of their adventures, I am quite willing
to admit that our heroes were, after nearly three years of wandering and
hair-breadth 'scapes, and adventures in almost every land the sun shines
upon, both good travellers and sportsmen in the true sense of the word,
still, I think, it was lucky for them they met with two experienced
hunters, who consented to guide them on their expedition to the northern
backwoods of America.  They met them, as they had met Lyell, at a table
d'hote, in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco; and in a few days a
friendship was cemented between them, which none of the party had ever
reason to repent of, because they were men of the world.

And here we have the five of them, mostly intent on the preparation of
the evening meal.  Lyell is cook to-night; and he evidently cooks from
no badly-stored larder.  Yonder hangs a lordly deer; wild-fowl they have
in prolusion; and in a short time they will, doubtless, enjoy their _al
fresco_ dinner as only sportsmen can.

Dugald McArthur, one of their pioneers, is standing with his arms
folded, and his brawny shoulders leant against a tree, while honest John
Travers is carefully examining the mechanism of Chisholm O'Grahame's
bone-crusher.  Chisholm himself is gazing dreamily at the log-fire, and
so, too, is Frank.  But Dugald is the first to break the silence.  He
bends down, and lays a hand on Chisholm's shoulder.

"I say," he remarks, "you wouldn't think to look at me that there was
much the matter with me, would you?"  Chisholm smiled by way of reply.

"But there is, though," continued Dugald.  "I'm suffering from a disease
the doctors call nostalgia, and I oftentimes dream o' the bonnie hills
and glens of dear auld Scotland."

[Nostalgia, home-sickness; an irresistible longing to return to one's
native land, which sometimes becomes with the Swiss a fatal disease.]

"Well, you don't look very bad, I must say," said Chisholm.  "But if
going back will cure you, why not go with us?"

"It is just what Jack and I mean to," said Dugald.  "Now wait a wee
until we have eaten supper, and sit down to toast our toes, and John and
I will tell you what brought us out."

"Now," said Dugald, when the time had come, "it is ten long years, and
begun again, since Jack there and I came to the conclusion that
civilisation was a grand mistake, that broad Scotland wasn't big enough
to hold us, and so turned our eyes to the West, to seek for adventures
and fortune.  What determined our choice?  Why this, we both fell in
love with the same lass.  John and I always rowed in the same boat.  We
were both orphans, and had been at school and college together; and had,
on coming to age, both put our monies into the same grand scheme.  The
grand scheme was a bubble; and, like all bubbles, it burst.  While we
were still rich and fortunate, neither Jack nor I could ever tell which
of the two of us was most regarded by the beautiful, accomplished, but
heartless Maggie Rae.  As soon as we became poor, however, Maggie didn't
leave us much longer in doubt; she ended our suspense by marrying the
wealthy old laird of Drumliedykes.  That was a sad blow for me; and, I
believe, for Jack too, though it wasn't his nature to say very much.
But I took to moping.  I used to wander about the woods and lonely
glens, longing for peace, even if it were in the grave."

"I met Jack one evening as I was returning from one of these rambles;
and I suppose I looked very lugubrious.  I addressed him in the words of
our national poet--

  "`Oppress'd with grief, oppress'd with care,
  A burden more than I can bear,
  I sit me down and sigh:
  O life! thou art a galling load,
  Along a rough and weary road,
  To wretches such as I.'"

But Jack pulled me up sharp.

"`Havers,'" [Scottish for absurd nonsense] said Jack, in a bold, manly
voice.  "I tell you, Dugald, man was never made to sit on a stane and
greet (weep); man was made to work.  You envy the rich?  Bah!  Carriages
were made for the sick and the auld.  A young man should feel the legs
beneath him, should feel the soul within him.  Let us be up and doin',
Dugald; there's no pleasure on earth, man, can equal his, wha can look
up to God, fra honest wark.

"Well, gentlemen, after this I was just as anxious to get away from
England as Jack was, so we made our preparations; and in a month's time
we had crossed the wide Atlantic, and journeyed as near to the Rocky
Mountains as cars would take us.  I don't think we had either of us any
very definite notion of what we should do, or what adventures we should
meet with.  We were not unprepared, however, for anything.  We had not
gone abroad with our fingers in our mouths, so to speak; but we had read
books on travel, and taken the best advice on everything.  We had good
horses, good waggons, good guns and compasses, and a fair supply of the
necessaries of life, to say nothing of a trusty guide.  So we just set a
stout heart to a stiff brae (hill), and began the march.  `To the west'
was our watchword; and there was in all our wanderings, ever in our
hearts, the reflection of a sweet dream, which we firmly believed would
one day become a reality, namely, that we would fall in with some land
of gold, make riches in time, and then return to our own country.

"For many months after we had once crossed the prairie-lands, and the
terrible alkali flats, we followed the course of a broad-bosomed river,
so that our compasses were of but little use to us, for one day this
stream would take us right away up north, the next day west or
south-west.  It certainly was in no great hurry to reach its
destination; but neither were we, so it just suited us.  We were
contented, nay, more, we were perfectly happy; we slept at night as
hunters sleep, and we awoke at early dawn fresh as the forest birds that
flitted joyously around us, and quite prepared for another day's work.
It _was_ work sometimes, too, and no mistake; work that many a British
ploughman would have considered toil, for we had our waggons to fetch
along, and that sometimes entailed long journeys round, to avoid a
forest too dense, or river banks too rocky.

"For months we never came across the trail of a living soul, so that we
were not afraid to picket our horses, leaving them plenty to eat and
drink, and go off pleasuring for days at a time in our birch canoes,
after the deer and wild-fowl by the river, or the swans by night.  We
knew, or we could generally guess, where their haunts were.  Erecting a
bit of canvas in the stern sheets, by way of cover, we would light a
bundle of hay, and throw it overboard, then drop slowly down stream
before it.  If they were anywhere about, they were sure to be out soon;
and as they came sailing towards us, wondering what was up, one or two
of them was sure to pay for his curiosity with the forfeiture of his
life."

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

DUGALD CONTINUES HIS STORY--A FEARFUL STORM--ATTACKED BY WOLVES--LOST IN
THE FOREST--INDIANS--THE SURRENDER--THE ESCAPE--THE MINE OF GOLD.

"But it wasn't always plain sailing with us either on these
expeditions," said Dugald, continuing the narrative of his adventures;
"sometimes storms would arise, ay, and such storms too!  One I shall
never forget; our horses were picketed down stream, but on high ground;
so as soon as the blue sky got overcast, and while yet the thunder was
muttering ominously in the distance, we made up our minds to get down
towards them as speedily as possible, not knowing how they would fare.

"Well was it for us we had lashed our frail canoes together, for there
was one portion of the great river which it was dangerous to descend,
even in fine weather, so rapid was the current.  When we reached this
place the storm was at its very worst, and we found ourselves suddenly
whirling along in the midst of a raging cataract, a boiling surging
cataract.  The thunder seemed rending the forest, and the very rocks
around us; the rain was terrible, and I had never seen such lightning
before; forked and sheet I had been used to, but here great balls of
fire fell from heaven, splitting, and hissing as they reached the waves.
It was indeed a fearful storm.  When we reached camp at long last, we
expected to find that our horses had broken loose in the extremity of
their terror, but we were greatly mistaken; here they were safe enough,
and although there was evidence in the state of the ground that they had
been at first alarmed, they were quiet now; ay, even cowed in their joy
to see us, they fawned upon us almost as a dog would have done.

"But this forest life of ours was not so very pleasant when summer
ended, and winter began to give token of his speedy approach.  However,
we determined to make the best of it.  We built ourselves a hut of logs,
and a rude stable for our horses, then we had to lay aside for a time
our guns and fishing-rods, and instead of hunting, take to farming, and
make hay while yet the sun shone.  As long as the horses could be turned
out lariated, they could find provisions for themselves, but when the
snow fell, as fall it did ere long, we had to find fodder for them
indoors.

"We did not forget our own larder, you may be sure, and right thankful
were we that we had not forgotten to take with us a traveller's cooking
stove, with a store of oil by way of fuel.  Not that we expected an
Arctic winter by any means.  Our guide, a sturdy bearded man of some
fifty summers, had trapped in these wilds for more than twenty years,
and could remember many a winter passing without the grass being even
once covered with snow.  But travellers should always be provided
against even probabilities, and as it turned out it was well we were.
We enjoyed Christmas in our rude log hut almost if not quite as well as
if at home, and it would have done your heart good to have heard the
merry songs we sang, or to have listened to the strange stories of our
guide.  No traveller's tales were these, they were painted from the life
and natural.  The wolves used to come howling round our doors now of
nights.  A fall of snow, that came on about the beginning of the new
year, seemed to make the creatures hungry.  They came after the bones
that were thrown out, at least that was how they pretended to account
for their visit, but we knew well they would not hesitate a moment to
attack the horses if they could only find a chance.

"There were trees all round our humble abode, and wearisome enough it
was sometimes to awake on stormy nights and listen to the wild wind
roaring through their branches, mingling with the awesome cry of the
forest wolves.  On just such a night Jack and I once started from our
beds, and sat up and listened.  There was the dread of some impending
danger lying like a lump of lead at my heart, and Jack afterwards
confessed that he too was awakened by the same kind of feeling.  Almost
in the same breath we called aloud to our guide.  There was no answer,
but a rush of cold wind that swept through the cabin told us that the
door was open.  We sprang at once from our couches and hurried on some
clothing, then seizing our pistols we sallied out; just as a cry for
help fell upon our ear, a cry that was drowned the next moment in the
horrid `hubbering' sound that wolves make while worrying a victim.
`Come on, Jack,' I cried; `they are killing poor Walter.'

"Jack and I were both in the melee next moment.  The merciful moon shone
out, and we could see our guide on his feet covered with blood, but
defending himself bravely with a brawny fist and a broken lantern.  Not
far off was our burly camp-dog engaged with three of the hungry-eyed
monsters.  Jack and I soon turned the odds to deadly game, but Walter
was badly wounded, and it took weeks to get him well.  It seems he had
taken his lantern and gone out to see if the horses were secure, when he
was at once attacked by the wolves.  Winter brought us visitors from the
far north, the grizzly bear and his cousin the cinnamon bear.  They used
to hide in the darkest and deepest nooks of the forest by day, or in
rocky dens by the mountain sides, and come prowling out by night,
oftentimes making the woods shake with their terrible roaring.

"A better guide or trapper than Walter couldn't have been; he was good
for forest, hill, or plain, and yet he lost himself one day not
half-a-mile from our hut-door.  He had gone for a short walk in the
forest; and, according to his own account, his head all of a sudden got
turned round, as it were.  This is a kind of madness not at all uncommon
in the prairie or wilderness.  And now to honest Walter west seemed
east, and south seemed north.  He had no compass with him; and it is
questionable whether he would have believed it if he had had one.  It is
a good thing in cases of this kind, that a man usually marches round and
round in a circle.  We found our guide next day lying exhausted at the
foot of a pine tree, not five miles from our wigwam; or, rather, his
good and trusty Newfoundland dog found him; but how the wolves had
spared him was to us a mystery.  He had never once stopped walking till
he fell where we found him.

"The time flew by, gentlemen; winter had almost passed, although snow
still lay deep in woodland and glade, and we were fain to wear our
snow-shoes when going abroad; still the winds blew more softly, and
budlets began to peep out on the larch trees, which are ever the first
to welcome the balmy breath of returning spring.

"One morning, greatly to our annoyance, we found the rude stable-door
open, and our horses gone.  But their tracks were fresh on the snow, and
so we felt sure we soon should find them.

"The trail led us to the uplands, and we were not sorry for this, as by
mounting an eminence or hill we would be enabled to see the country for
miles on miles around us.  When we did at long last reach a hill-top, a
sight we saw not two miles off was quite enough to curdle the blood of
such inexperienced woodsmen as we were then.

"Indians! a score and more of them, with their horses picketed, and ours
among the rest.  It was evident from their armour, their rifles and
spears, and their dress, that they were on the war-path.

"Gentlemen, I have but little heart to look back upon what immediately
followed our discovery.  Some day I may tell you all our wild adventures
among the backwoods savages.  Suffice it for me here to say, that after
days and nights of fierce fighting, our foes were driven off by fresh
bands of Indians.  This was a tribe our guide Walter well knew; and, on
his advice, we surrendered to them.  They spared our lives; but they
made us prisoners, because they found us of use to them.  For five long
years we remained the slaves of this warlike tribe; but the dawn came
after the long darkness.  We escaped on three of their horses--we chose
the best, you may be sure.  It was on the evening of a great feast, in
commemoration of a successful raid they had made into the white man's
territory, returning with cattle, and, sad to say, with scalps.

"Fire-water was abundant that night, and horrible revelry and dancing.
But sleep stole over the camp at last; and then we felt our time had
come.  We had left them leagues on leagues ere morning light.  But we
took little rest till we were far, far away in the southern and western
states.

"This did not quite tire Jack and me of adventure and travel.  No; we
just worked for a year, and then, once more accoutring ourselves, we
made tracks for the mountain-forests.  The gold fever had broken out,
and we had caught it, only we determined to go prospecting all by our
two selves.  And a good thing we did.  We built ourselves a house.  Jack
called it `the little hut among the bushes.'  Some of the bushes,
gentlemen, were three hundred feet in height.  We found gold, too.  Fact
is, we had a small mine all to ourselves.  As soon as we made a pile, we
used to go south, disguised as poor trappers, to sell our skins and fill
our powder-flasks; but, in reality, to bank our gold.

"We've made all we want.  The mine itself is sold, and well sold; and as
soon as we have shown you a bit of life in the backwoods, we shan't be
sorry to return to our dear auld Hielan' hills once more."

The huntsman finished speaking, and soon after our heroes turned in for
the night, and the silence was unbroken--the silence of the dark
primeval forest.

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

MERRIE ENGLAND--A WEEK AT WILLOUGHBY PLACE--OUR HEROES PART--A PLEASANT
RE-UNION, ON WHICH THE CURTAIN DROPS.

It was a lovely evening towards the close of an autumn day, many months
after the events related in the last chapter, that you might have seen a
carriage and pair, drawn up at the gate of the down station of the quiet
little village of Twintleton.  There was but one person on the platform,
a tall, elderly gentleman, who was pacing up and down with evident
impatience.  When I tell you that the proud crest of the Willoughbys was
emblazoned on the panels of the carriage, you will guess that the
gentleman himself was none other than Frank's father.

"She's long overdue, isn't she, porter?" he said at last.

"Only five minutes, sir," was the reply.

"Five minutes!" muttered Mr Willoughby, "why, I seem to have waited
here for a whole hour."

In a first-class compartment of this late train--still at some
considerable distance--sat three gentlemen.  Brown were they in
complexion as the waters of a mountain burn, and just as vivacious.

"Now, Frank," said one, "I do wonder what your father will think of you
when he sees you."

"We've hardened him off properly," said the other, laughing.  Frank
smiled, his thoughts just then wandered away down to a certain shire in
Wales.  He was wondering what his betrothed--what Eenie would think of
him, and whether she herself would be much changed.

Half an hour afterwards all three were rattling off in the carriage, to
the home of the Willoughbys.  Need I say that that evening the fatted
calf was killed, or that Frank was the hero there for weeks.

Heigho! but time _will_ fly.  I have kept my trio well in hand through
all their years of wandering in wild places, but now at last the wizard
power of pen must fail, our friends must scatter.  It was very pleasant
for a time roaming over the lovely fields and moors, gun in hand, dogs
ahead, in the bright, bracing September days.  The dinners in the
evening at Willoughby Place were pleasant, too, and yet after one of the
best of these, all of a sudden, during a lull in the conversation--

"Father," said Frank, "I'm off to-morrow, like a bird, away down to
Penmawhr Castle."

"You young dog," replied his father, laughing; "I've been expecting to
hear this every day for the last week."

"Filial affection prevented me," said Frank, "from making up my mind
before."

"Oh! that just reminds me," said Chisholm O'Grahame, "that I sail for
Australia next week."

"And, oh!" cried Fred Freeman, "that puts me in mind.  I'm off about the
same time to the Russian Steppes."

"What!" exclaimed Mr Willoughby, "all bent on the same errand?  Well,
well, boys will be boys.  But, I will miss you all sadly."

"I say, though," said Frank, "there is one thing I do look forward to,
and that is, when Fred and Chisholm return--I, of course, am going no
distance--we may have a grand re-union, here at old Willoughby Place."

"Yes," said his father, "If we are all spared I'm sure I'll be
delighted; and there is one thing you mustn't forget, that is, if you
can find them; namely, to bring with you the companions of your
adventures in the backwoods."

"Oh! never fear, sir," Frank replied; "we'll ferret them out--ay, and
Lyell as well."

"That will be delightful," said Mr Willoughby, rubbing his hands in
joyous anticipation of the hoped-for event.

"And," he continued enthusiastically, "up on the hill, near the ruins of
the ancient home of our fathers, on the night of the re-union, I'll
kindle such a bonfire as never blazed on the heights before."

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

One short week after this conversation took place my three heroes were--

  "--Severed far and wide
  By mountain, stream, and sea."

And this just reminds me that my tale is wonderfully near its close,
for, dear me! you know an author who has lost his heroes is just like a
bird who has lost its eggs, there is not a bit of good in trying to sing
any more.  Besides, they have all gone in different directions, and I
can't be in three places at once; and even if I could, my presence would
doubtless be deemed an intrusion, for I'll warrant they are all happy
enough.

But did the re-union ever take place, and did the bonfire blaze fierce
on the hill-top?  Both events came off, reader, I'm glad to tell you.
And here they all are with happy beaming faces, seated around the table
in the banquetting hall of the home of the Willoughbys: Fred, and Frank,
and Chisholm O'Grahame, each with their wives by their side.  Ay, and
brave Captain Lyell, too, though he has got no wife by his side--his lot
is to be a rover, his home is on the deep.  And here is brawny Dugald
McArthur and honest John Travers, the bold hunters of the backwoods.

And here is precisely the place to drop the curtain.  Let it descend
then, and slowly hide the happy scene.

Yet one word.  My chief reward in having written these "Wild
Adventures," rests in a _thought_ and in a _hope_.  The thought is, that
I may have sometimes interested and amused you; the hope, that we may--
for stranger things have happened--meet again another day.





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