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Title: Our Little Boer Cousin
Author: Innes, Luna May
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Our Little Boer Cousin



THE

Little Cousin Series

(TRADE MARK)

    Each volume illustrated with six or more full page plates in
    tint. Cloth, 12mo, with decorative cover
    per volume, 60 cents

LIST OF TITLES

    BY MARY HAZELTON WADE, MARY F.
    NIXON-ROULET, BLANCHE MCMANUS,
    CLARA V. WINLOW, FLORENCE E.
    MENDEL AND OTHERS

    =Our Little African Cousin=
    =Our Little Alaskan Cousin=
    =Our Little Arabian Cousin=
    =Our Little Argentine Cousin=
    =Our Little Armenian Cousin=
    =Our Little Australian Cousin=
    =Our Little Austrian Cousin=
    =Our Little Belgian Cousin=
    =Our Little Bohemian Cousin=
    =Our Little Boer Cousin=
    =Our Little Brazilian Cousin=
    =Our Little Bulgarian Cousin=
    =Our Little Canadian Cousin=
    =Our Little Chinese Cousin=
    =Our Little Cuban Cousin=
    =Our Little Danish Cousin=
    =Our Little Dutch Cousin=
    =Our Little Egyptian Cousin=
    =Our Little English Cousin=
    =Our Little Eskimo Cousin=
    =Our Little French Cousin=
    =Our Little German Cousin=
    =Our Little Grecian Cousin=
    =Our Little Hawaiian Cousin=
    =Our Little Hindu Cousin=
    =Our Little Hungarian Cousin=
    =Our Little Indian Cousin=
    =Our Little Irish Cousin=
    =Our Little Italian Cousin=
    =Our Little Japanese Cousin=
    =Our Little Jewish Cousin=
    =Our Little Korean Cousin=
    =Our Little Malayan (Brown) Cousin=
    =Our Little Mexican Cousin=
    =Our Little Norwegian Cousin=
    =Our Little Panama Cousin=
    =Our Little Persian Cousin=
    =Our Little Philippine Cousin=
    =Our Little Polish Cousin=
    =Our Little Porto Rican Cousin=
    =Our Little Portuguese Cousin=
    =Our Little Russian Cousin=
    =Our Little Scotch Cousin=
    =Our Little Servian Cousin=
    =Our Little Siamese Cousin=
    =Our Little Spanish Cousin=
    =Our Little Swedish Cousin=
    =Our Little Swiss Cousin=
    =Our Little Turkish Cousin=

    THE PAGE COMPANY
    53 Beacon Street,      Boston, Mass.

[Illustration: "PETRUS BUSIED HIMSELF STEEPING BULLOCK'S HIDE IN
WATER." (_See page 19_)]



Our Little Boer Cousin

    By
    Luna May Innes
    Author of "Our Little Danish Cousin," etc.

    _Illustrated by_
    John Goss

    [Illustration]

    Boston
    The Page Company
    MDCCCCXV



    _Copyright, 1915, by_
    THE PAGE COMPANY

    _All rights reserved_

    First Impression, September, 1915



    TO

    William Wallace Phelps, Jr.

    MY BOOK-LOVING YOUNG FRIEND,
    THIS LITTLE STORY OF THE BOERS IS
    AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED



PREFACE


Far away in the African antipodes--at the extreme opposite side of the
world from us--lies South Africa. Vast as is this British possession,
it forms but the southernmost point or tip of the great dark continent.
In its very heart lies the Transvaal--the home of our little Boer
cousins.

The great "thirst-veldt" of the Kalahari Desert lies to the north-west
of their land, which is about the size of England, and with a very
similar climate, and to the south, beyond the Drakensberg Mountains,
lies Natal, Kaffraria and Zululand.

The story of the Transvaal is the story of the Boers--a stalwart,
patriotic and deeply religious race, whose history began one April day
in 1652, about the time when Cromwell was at the height of his power,
when four Dutch ships, under the daring Jan Van Riebek, entered the bay
of Table Mountain and made their first landing at the Cape of Good Hope.

We have all read of the splendid valor of the Boers. Their history is
as full of romance as it is of pathos and struggle. Such names as "Oom
Paul" Kruger--four times president--General Botha, and General Joubert,
come to us at once when we think of the Transvaal.

But there are other great names associated with this land; such
remarkable ones as those of Livingstone the "Pathfinder," and
"Messenger of God," as he was called; and of Cecil Rhodes, the "Empire
Builder," whose dream it was to build the great north road--now nearing
completion--which will stretch like a ribbon across the whole African
continent from the Cape to the Mediterranean.

Perhaps, in this little story, you may gain a glimpse of the
surroundings, the wholesome out-of-door farm-life, work and play of
our little Boer cousins--boys and girls of the antipodes, and of the
bright future which awaits the Transvaal.

                                                      THE AUTHOR.

Chicago, June, 1915.



Contents


    CHAPTER                                     PAGE
          PREFACE                                vii
       I. PETRUS JOUBERT                           1
      II. AT "WELTEFREDEN"                        17
     III. A TRANSVAAL "MODEL FARM"                34
      IV. THE GREAT "TREK"                        51
       V. A BOER "NACHTMAAL"                      71
      VI. OVER THE "GREAT KARROO" TO CAPE TOWN    81
     VII. A KAFIR PARTY AT THE CHIEF'S KRAAL      94
    VIII. A STORM ON THE DRAKENSBERG             107
      IX. A ZULU WAR-DANCE                       120
       X. PETRUS THE HERO                        135



List of Illustrations


                                                                  PAGE
  "PETRUS BUSIED HIMSELF STEEPING BULLOCK'S HIDE
      IN WATER." (_See page 19_)                         _Frontispiece_

  "THE LIEUTENANT AGAIN TOOK CAREFUL AIM AND FIRED"                 13

  "IT WAS A LONG, LOW, ONE-STORY COTTAGE, HALF-HIDDEN
      BY THE ROADSIDE TREES"                                        79

  "THE SEARCHING PARTY . . . CARRIED GREAT TORCHES"                109

  "PILING GREAT BEAMS OF WOOD IN ORDERLY ROWS ON THE WHARF"        122

  "THE WHOLE YELLING MASS MADE ANOTHER WILD CHARGE"                131



Our Little Boer Cousin



CHAPTER I

PETRUS JOUBERT


It was spring in the Transvaal. Already the wattle-trees beside the
farm-schoolhouse door were thickly covered with a mass of golden
bloom, and the little blue pan--or lake--down among the willows, again
reflected the sky and clouds as the Boer children trooped past it.

Many a chilly morning had they trudged on their way to that same
little room of corrugated iron and wood, just beyond the farthest
kopje[1]--often so early that the grass was still sparkling with the
sunlit hoar-frost.

The sun shone warm now, and groups of laughing little Boer girls, in
large pinafores and kappies, hurried across the trackless grassy
veldt[2] from every direction. Some of them, like Christina Allida,
Adriana, Franzina, and black-eyed, laughing little Yettie, whose farms
were a long way off, drove over in their crowded Cape cart spiders and
ramshackle conveyances of every description.

Soon Franzina's cart, with Yettie, came rumbling up to the door, where
all the older boys--like their big cousin, Petrus Joubert--who had
galloped over on their shaggy little Cape ponies, were off-saddling
and knee-haltering them under the wattle-trees. To remove the saddle,
and then, with the head-stall, to fasten the pony's head to his leg
just above his knee, so that he might graze freely about, yet be caught
again when wanted after school was out, took but a moment. Then the
saddles were hung on the schoolhouse wall in a lengthening row, and
lessons begun.

All Boer boys are trained to ride from the time they can walk. Petrus
could even "out-spann"[3] a team of his uncle's oxen. He was fond of
all animals--especially of his sturdy little Basuto pony, which he
had christened "Ferus." Ferus meant "fearless." He prized him above
everything he possessed. He was trained to obey the slightest turn of
the reins, or to come to a full stop at the sound of one low whistle
from his master. Through storm or sunshine he carried his young rider
swiftly to school and home again--always with little five-year-old
brother Theunis holding tightly on behind.

"Jump, Theunis!" affectionately called Petrus to the child. Theunis,
his only brother, was very dear to him.

Still clutching a dog-eared copy of "Steb-by-Steb"[4] in one small
hand, Theunis slid off and hurried after his big brother into the
little room.

Soon it was crowded with noisy children, all busily buzzing over their
English lessons, and answering "Ek-weit-nie"[5] to the teacher's
questions. It was a government farm-school. Only one hour a day was
allowed for Dutch.

Petrus would be ready for the High School at Johannesburg in the
fall. He was one of the brightest boys in the school. Not only did he
head his classes, but he had read the Bible and "Steps of Youth"--two
books all Boer boys study--well--twice through. Also, he was perfectly
familiar with the "Stories from Homer" and the "History of the United
States of America." This last book, like his Bible, he never could read
enough. Its story of the struggle for liberty, by a brave people like
his own, against the same hostile power his ancestors for generations
had had to combat, fascinated him.

In the Transvaal's mild, sub-tropical climate, with its wonderful
health-giving air, the Boer youth develops early into self-reliant
manhood. At thirteen Petrus was nearly as tall as his Uncle Abraham,
and was more than the physical equal of his English or American cousins
of sixteen or seventeen. Living a healthy outdoor farm-life, he had
become a great broad-shouldered lad of strong stalwart build, with the
resolute forward tread of his "voor-trekking" ancestors.

One could see that Petrus was a true "Hollander-Boer"--from his
corduroy trousers and the large home-made "veldt-schoens" on his feet,
to the broad-brimmed hat that shaded his fair hair and blue eyes from
the African sun. Yet there was a certain French-Huguenot cast to
his features. It came from the Jouberts on his father's side of the
family. Some of the brightest pages of the Transvaal's history had
been written by a brave soldier uncle of his--Petrus Joubert[6]--whose
great-great-grandfather had fled from France to South Africa with
hundreds of his persecuted countrymen for freedom to read his Bible
and to worship among the Dutch Boers of the Transvaal. He became one
of them, fought in their wars, was made their president, and later
they appointed him commandant-general of all the Boer forces when
hostilities began against England. Petrus was his namesake. Of this he
was very proud. His family called him "Koos" for short.

From his school desk near the window, Petrus kept a wolf-like eye on
his pony as he grazed about. Sometimes Ferus wandered entirely out of
sight. This always distressed Petrus greatly.

As he gazed across the high veldt for miles about, Petrus could almost
see the outskirts of his uncle's vast farm of six thousand acres.
First, beyond a few scattered red-brown kopjes, there was the blue
pan--then, just beyond--through a small plantation of Scotch firs
and poplars--he could see the plain little Dutch Reformed Church,
which his uncle had re-roofed after the war. Still farther beyond was
Johannesburg, the "Golden City," where he had been promised he might
attend High School next winter. The thought thrilled him. How good
his uncle had always been to him, he thought. There on the farm, with
his uncle and Aunt Johanna, his grandfather and great-grandfather,
he had lived ever since he could remember. His own dear father had
been killed in the war. His mother had scarcely survived the hardships
of the terrible time when their house and everything they owned had
been burned to the ground by British soldiers. Then his kind Uncle
Abraham--his mother's brother, who was an Elder in the Church--had
welcomed them to his great place, "Weltefreden," the only home Petrus
had ever known.

There was a loud ringing of the school bell. It was the noon hour.
Out the children rushed helter-skelter--the girls to their games of
"Frott" or "touch-wood," Petrus and the boys to their cricket and Rugby
football.

"Oh, there's Uncle Abraham coming now!" exclaimed Petrus, with a start,
as he saw a familiar pair of shaggy brown horses and a green cart
rattling up to the schoolhouse door. Petrus ran to meet him.

"I come to say I must take Petrus to the farm to-day. The locusts are
on my corn-fields, and my head Kafir is gone," explained Mr. Joubert
to the teacher.

"But, Mr. Joubert, his inspection is coming off so soon," protested the
teacher.

"I think one day will make no difference," persisted the uncle. "Petrus
must come."

Further protest was useless. Petrus was allowed to climb quickly into
his uncle's cart. Theunis would ride Ferus home.

The horses dashed through the deep grass of the high veldt, taking the
shortest route home. Petrus could already see a blackening cloud in the
distance overcasting the sky.

"Nothing will be left of my crops!--nothing!" excitedly exclaimed his
uncle. "There is no time to be lost! Terrible swarms cover everything!
My Kafirs are doing what they can, and your Aunt Johanna and some of
the neighbors are holding a prayer-service for relief from the pests.
We must be quick and add our prayers to theirs, else all will be lost!"

"Yes, yes, Uncle!" agreed Petrus quickly, thinking of his well-worn
Testament. "It is terrible! But God will surely send us relief from
this pestilence."

There was a muddy drift to be crossed. The wheels sank deep. Emerging
safely on the opposite side, the team plunged directly ahead. Suddenly
their way was obscured before them. The enormous flight had completely
darkened the mid-day sun. Above their heads floated myriads of the
insects in a great blackening mass. As Uncle Abraham tried to force the
team through it, they filled the cart, beating against its sides and
against their faces with a loud humming sound. Locusts are the great
scourge of South Africa.

In the sudden gloom a herd of Lieutenant Wortley's fine cattle,
crossing their path, was scarcely visible. Nor did they hear the
lieutenant himself, and his little son George, calling to them.

"Oh, Uncle Abraham, here comes Lieutenant Wortley and George. They are
waving to us to stop for them. Can't we, Uncle?"

Uncle Abraham hastily stopped the cart and welcomed his English
friends. They were his nearest neighbors. Whatever hostile feelings
he might once have had towards the British had long been forgotten.
Thirteen years had passed since the war.

"Good day, Lieutenant Wortley. Here is plenty of room in the cart.
Petrus, make room for George there with you. We are making all speed,
Lieutenant, to save my crops from the locusts. We are going to have
a big 'grass-burning' to-night, and smoke out whatever remain of the
pests."

"Oh, Lieutenant Wortley, please let George stay with us for the
burning! We always have such fine good times at a big grass-burning!"
vehemently pleaded Petrus. "And I'll promise to ride home with him on
Ferus, afterwards, and we'll--oh, what is that?"

[Illustration: "THE LIEUTENANT AGAIN TOOK CAREFUL AIM AND FIRED"]

_Z-z-zip! Wh-i-zz!_ A great shower of gleaming Zulu assegais flew
through the air over the cart.

_Z-z-zip!_ came another past George's head. They hit the car with a
metallic sound, glanced off and fell to earth.

"_The Zulus! the Zulus!_" cried the Englishman, seizing George close in
his arms. "They have threatened our lives! The cowards! They are taking
advantage of the dark. Quick, George, get down out of sight in the
bottom of the cart! I'll fire at the villains!"

Bang! Boom! Bang! sounded the lieutenant's rifle.

The Zulus yelled, and quickly sent another shower of assegais. Petrus
lowered his head. One landed heavily in the flying cart close to his
feet. It was six feet long--its sharp iron head or blade being over
a foot long in itself. An ox-tail ornamented the opposite end of
the great spear. Already the darkening flight of locusts had passed
on, leaving the sky bright and clear. Petrus gave one quick backward
glance. One Zulu had fallen. The others were in hot pursuit.

Uncle Abraham lashed the horses into a wild gallop. The lieutenant
again took careful aim and fired. The Zulus went tumbling back into the
tall grass.

"They're afraid of our fire-arms! Hurrah!" cried Petrus in joy.
"Hurrah! George, you're safe! They are gone!"

"Yes, thank heavens! We've escaped their poisoned assegais so far--the
savages! I know that giant Zulu who was in the lead. I know him well.
He is Dirk," continued the lieutenant. "He looked me straight in the
eye, as he passed close and drew his assegai. No, Petrus, I'll take
George home to-night. He's safer there. George thanks you just the
same, but he has had a terrible fright. I don't mean to let my boy out
of my sight."

The lieutenant lifted George--white and trembling--into his arms.

"Why, Lieutenant Wortley, should the Zulus threaten your lives?"
demanded Mr. Joubert, as mystified as was Petrus.

"Yes, tell us," added Petrus--in suspense to hear.

"As you may know," began the Englishman, glad to make explanations, "my
appointment as collector of His Majesty's 'Hunt-tax' followed the peace
negotiations upon the close of the war. My first commission was to the
Kalahari Desert--that great 'Thirst-land'--as it is called, covering
thousands of miles of the most desolate, sandy, waterless, tract of
land under the heavens. There--in that fearful spot--men, horses, and
oxen are constantly dying of thirst--their skeletons by thousands
strew the great hot sand stretches. George's mother had returned with
him to our old home in England. After her death there, George's Aunt
Edith brought the boy as far as Cape Town to me. I protested, but
George--hungering for adventure--begged to be taken along with me.
Finally, I consented.

"It was my official duty to collect the 'Hunt-tax.' I found that many
of the savages of this God-forsaken region had never before paid a
'tax' of any kind. They rebelled. Among such was this giant Zulu--Dirk.
He promptly refused to pay, although his horses were overloaded with
the finest skins, ivory, and the longest koodoo horns I have ever seen.

"It was the climax of impudence when he disputed my authority and tried
to argue with me. I had him promptly disarmed and jailed by two of my
native police, afterwards ordering him put at convict work. He was
set at well-digging, under guard, in the desert. It was a rough job,
but my police accomplished it. Then it was that Dirk flung out that
threat against our lives. There was something in his look and voice
that made my blood run cold. To this day the mere sight of him makes me
apprehensive. The threat was aimed at George as much as at me. George
is always begging me to take him home to England. I may decide to do
it."

"Oh, George dear! Don't you leave us! Never shall that Zulu harm you! I
am a good marksman. I would shoot him before he should harm you! Never
fear, George, I will be your protector always," vehemently cried the
Boer boy.

Uncle Abraham shook his head gravely. They had reached the great farm.
Bidding their friends adieu, Uncle Abraham and Petrus turned their
attention to the locusts. They had settled themselves over the whole
two miles of Uncle Abraham's tender, young mealie-fields in layers ten
to twelve inches deep, and were busily mowing down the juicy stalks
acre by acre.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] A flat-topped little hill.

[2] The open grassy plains.

[3] Unhitch.

[4] "Step-by-Step."

[5] "I don't know."

[6] General Petrus Joubert went with Paul Kruger to England in 1878 to
protest against the annexation of the Transvaal, and in 1880 joined
with Kruger and Pretorius in proclaiming its independence. In the war
that followed he commanded the army and won the famous victories of
Laing's Neck and Majuba Hill. He was elected Vice-President in 1883,
contested the presidency in 1888 and in 1899 took command of the army
in Natal, defeating the British in several engagements and holding
General White besieged for months at Ladysmith, despite General
Buller's efforts at relief. He died at Pretoria, March, 1900.



CHAPTER II

AT "WELTEFREDEN"


Spring had passed. It was sweltering hot by noonday in the Transvaal,
for the midsummer days of December had come. Christmas, with its
tennis, golf, and gay "cross-country" riding parties, was but a few
short weeks off. Petrus had missed George's visits to "Weltefreden"[7]
greatly. It was a long time since he had been there.

At first the terrible scare from the Zulus had thrown him into a
violent fever, from which he had not recovered for weeks. After that
the lieutenant had kept him closely at home. Of course Petrus had
visited him there. He had also often sent him over good things from the
farm, by Mutla, his favorite Kafir. Now that George was better Petrus
half hoped each day to see him at the farm.

The Joubert household arose early mornings. Aunt Johanna always had
breakfast by six. Then there was an hour's rest in the hottest part of
the day, right after dinner. Petrus was the first one to be up and out
enjoying the balmy morning air--watching the Kafir herders feeding the
flocks, milking the cows, yoking the oxen, and driving the horses and
sheep off to pasture. The vast farm, with its miles of waving grain
and mealie-fields, and rolling pasture lands, was one of the best
cultivated in all the Transvaal. It was a model farm.

The original little "wattle-and-daub" cottage, with its windows half
hidden under creepers, was gone. In it Petrus had been born. Many
years ago it had been replaced by a more pretentious homestead. Uncle
Abraham had prospered. His huge granaries were always well-filled, and
his Kafir farm boys, at the kraals, just beyond the mealie-fields,
numbered more than a hundred. It was their work to milk the cows, care
for the beasts, and attend to the hardest work of the farm.

Every morning, after breakfast, Uncle Abraham assembled the whole
family for prayers, which Grandfather Joubert read with a simple
impressiveness. Then a hymn was sung, and the family separated to take
up their various tasks for the day.

It was Petrus' especial duty to mend all the broken-down wagons, make
the halters and head-stalls for the ponies and horses, and, when
hippopotamus hide could be procured, to cut and make the long lashes
for the ox-whips. These were usually twenty-five feet long. Sometimes
Mutla,[8] his favorite Kafir, could find time to help him.

So, the first thing after breakfast, Petrus busied himself steeping
bullock's hide in water. Uncle Abraham had told him that the Kafirs
were needing more whip-cord and leather rope. Then Petrus took it from
the water, cut it into narrow strips about ten feet long, greased and
bound it together into one long piece, after which he took it out and
hung it from a high tree-branch, first weighting the lower end with a
heavy wagon-wheel. When it was thoroughly stretched he took it down,
twisted all the grease and moisture out of it, scraped it until it
became supple, and then put it away for every kind of use on the farm.

It was still early, so Petrus got out some large pieces of untanned
leather. In the art of making "veldt-schoens" Petrus was an expert.
He knew just how to cut and make them as soft, comfortable and silent
as Indian moccasins. Many a pair had his uncle and grandfather worn
on successful bush-shooting expeditions, where silence and quietness
were so essential. From Yettie's and Theunis' little feet up to
grandfather's big ones he could fit them all. The whole family really
preferred them to the shiny black boots purchased from the trader,
which they always felt obliged to wear on high days and holidays--such
as their semi-annual trips to the Johannesburg "Nachtmaals." On such
important occasions the girls thought the trader's black ones looked
more appropriate, with their full bright print skirts and "kappies"--or
polk bonnets--which they always wore with heavy veils, to protect their
complexions from the hot rays of the African sun.

Meantime Aunt Johanna was directing the Hottentot girls in their task
of making the family soap and candles, while Magdalena and her little
sisters were out in the kitchen having a great time cooking delicious
"Candy-Lakkers." They were expecting company.

By ten o'clock all work was stopped. Every one was tired. So the men's
pipes were brought out, with sweet cakes and hot coffee for all. The
Boers are such great coffee-drinkers that Aunt Johanna already had
plenty of it ready. She kept it hot on her little charcoal stove all
day, and served it morning, noon, and night to her family, and often
between times, to passing friends.

Unlike Uncle Abraham, who was a typical, tall, spare and straight
Boer, with a long beard and grave but kindly face, Aunt Johanna was
fair, plump and handsome. She was one of those affectionate, massive,
large-hearted Dutch vrouws who are never quite so happy as when
entertaining visitors. She loved to bestow upon her friends the best of
everything, until "Weltefreden," which sheltered four generations under
its broad roof, became known far and wide for its cordial hospitality.

George and his father were among those who called at almost any time.
Sometimes the lieutenant came by himself. No one was more welcome. He
came often to inquire of Uncle Abraham concerning the work of the
skilled inspectors sent out by the "Imperial Land Association" with
seeds, implements, and much good advice.

From his room-window, up under the hot galvanized iron roof, Petrus
could see through the trees in the distance, the little dorp[9]
railroad station, where the trains came puffing in twice a day with the
mail. He could hear their whistles as they started out again on their
way north to Johannesburg--sometimes bearing thousands of pounds of
Marino wool from his uncle's fine flocks to be sold in Johannesburg's
great "Market Square" during "Nachtmaal" time, when great crowds of
worshipers would be there to exchange their own market produce as well.

Petrus gazed long and silently from his window. His thoughts were
following the receding train as it flew on its way to the "Golden
City," where his Aunt Kotie lived. His face brightened. "In three
more years that train will speed on its way from the Cape to Cairo in
Egypt! That is over six thousand miles--but I must plan to go! I must
save up a great deal of money for such a wonderful trip! Oh, if only
I can do it! In three years I shall just be through High School in
Johannesburg," thought Petrus joyfully to himself. "But I shall miss
seeing George all that time!" This regret was genuine, for Petrus had
grown very fond of his little English comrade, who, although nearly the
same age, was a full head shorter.

A Cape cart came spinning along the road towards the house. Petrus' dog
Hector was barking loudly.

"Oh, there they come now!" exclaimed Petrus. His eyes sparkled as he
sprang to the door to give them welcome. But Magdalena had reached the
door first and was waiting out on the stoop, where the Englishman's
cart had already stopped, and Mutla was busy in-spanning their horses.
Petrus and his sister led the way into the house where Aunt Johanna
greeted them. She had invited them for dinner. Everybody was glad to
see them. Even "Katrina," the large pet baboon, fastened at one side of
the entrance, barked a loud "hello" as George passed, and a dear little
playful gray monkey on the other side, chattered a friendly greeting as
George stopped to give it a pat.

In the central room, which served as drawing-room, music-room and
study, the family had gathered to receive their guests. They were
seated around in a circle--the women and girls being gorgeously arrayed
in pink or green full skirts, tight waists and pearl necklaces. As the
lieutenant and George went the rounds shaking hands in accordance with
an old Boer custom, each greeted them heartily.

Uncle Abraham and Grandfather Joubert, who had been out in the fields
all morning directing the Kafirs, came in hungry for their dinner and
glad to see the Wortleys. It was noon-time and the time when the heavy
midday meal in all Boer households is served. So Aunt Johanna led the
way at once out to the clean, light dining-room, with its spotlessly
white walls, where they took their places around the long, family
table, standing silently, while Grandfather Joubert read a Psalm from
the old, brass-bound Bible. Then Great-grandfather Joubert invoked the
blessing with a long grace, to which everybody listened reverently with
folded hands--even Petrus and George, who had been allowed places next
to each other.

Before Vrouw Joubert the coffee-urn steamed invitingly. She always
superintended, and often cooked these meals herself, to which ten or
twelve persons usually sat down. As she poured the coffee, several
hideous brown-faced Hottentot girls, in bright calico dresses with
colored beads and ribbons, silently entered and stood ready to pass
the plates. Magdalena served the excellently cooked mutton, vegetables,
rice-pudding, fruit, with good wholesome bread just fresh from the
oven. Then "konfyt"--a sort of crystallized fruit--was passed to the
boys, to spread on their bread and butter.

Everybody ate silently for the most part, as is Boer custom. But
Lieutenant Wortley complimented Vrouw Joubert on the excellence of her
coffee, and added pleasantly: "Petrus must be getting to be quite a
good young farmer-lad by this time, isn't he?"

"The best for his age in the Transvaal!" proudly asserted Uncle
Abraham. "He is learning to use the cultivator, and becoming quite an
expert at it, too. But I think Petrus likes sheep-farming best, don't
you, Koos?"

"Yes, Uncle Abraham, sheep-farming is what I like best. There is no
better grazing-lands in all South Africa than the Transvaal has, and I
always feel so proud of our great loads of snow-white wool, every bag
stamped with 'Weltefreden' in big letters on it, when we send it up for
sale at 'Nachtmaal' time. When we go next week, am I not to stay a few
days, and visit Aunt Kotie afterwards?"

"Yes, Koos, if you like. My Kafirs are already hard at work shearing
the sheep. To-morrow the wool-washing down at the spruit[10] begins,
with the drying and packing after that. Perhaps George would like
you to take him down there after dinner to watch the Kafirs at their
shearing for a while."

"Yes, thank you," quickly answered the lieutenant for his son.
"And George is very curious to see what was left of the devastated
mealie-fields since that awful day last spring, if Petrus will be good
enough to show him."

"Yes, indeed," agreed Petrus. "I'll have Mutla bring the ponies right
after dinner. But, oh, Lieutenant Wortley, I do wish George could go
with us up to the Johannesburg 'Nachtmaal,' next week!"

"My dear Petrus, I think George prefers to remain with his father. He
has never yet fully recovered from that terrible fright Dirk gave us
all last spring," replied the lieutenant with a grave face. "George
is truly homesick for England--for our old home in London, and to be
with his Aunt Edith again. I am seriously considering disposing of my
farm, and returning with my boy, yet not without some regret, for the
Transvaal has a bright future."

"Oh, Lieutenant Wortley, please do not take George away! But if you do,
and Uncle Abraham will let me, can't I go along to see London? I'd be
back here in time for High School. I'll promise that."

Petrus had never seen the ocean, but George had often told him of
the great breakers that dash on the rocks at Cape Town, and of the
wonderful ocean voyage he had coming from England--of London with its
great Westminster Abbey, and busy streets where no dark-hued Zulus
went about terrifying everybody brandishing assegais. It had long been
Petrus' dream to travel--not only from the "Cape to Cairo" when the new
road was done--but to cross the ocean to London.

"Next week, Petrus, George is going with me to Cape Town. We will visit
the Government House and see the sights. How would you like to go with
us there, Koos?" affectionately replied the lieutenant, who was as fond
of Petrus as any Britisher could be of the best of Boer boys.

"Great! I shall be delighted to go along! That will be a splendid trip,
and my visit with Aunt Kotie will just be over then. Thank you so much,
Lieutenant Wortley."

"It is very kind of you to invite Petrus, Lieutenant," assured Uncle
Abraham. "He will have a fine time, and can join you and George at the
end of his visit."

The Hottentot girls carried around a towel and basin of water. After
each in turn had washed, all stood while Great-grandfather Joubert
returned thanks for the food, then withdrew to the music-room to hear
Aunt Johanna sing.

"Petrus, come, let's look through the 'far-seer'!" exclaimed George,
picking up the telescope, and gazing through the window, towards the
extensive orchard of standard peach-trees planted in long rows.

"Aim the 'far-seer' at the Kafir kraals, George. They are away beyond
all those tall blue-gum trees--and beyond the mealie-fields, too.
You've never seen the way Kafirs live, have you, George? I'll take you
over there some day."

But George had turned the telescope onto the near-by trees and bushes,
in whose branches and tops there seemed to be literally hundreds of
cooing turtle-doves, and somber-hued, scarlet-billed finches, while far
over the tops of the highest trees some hawks were silently circling
about. Close by, in a pool of water, a number of shy little Hottentot
ducks were happily floating around.

"They are different from our English birds," said George. "In England
we have robin redbreasts, meadow-larks, swallows and orioles, but our
birds do not have such brilliant feathers as these. Oh, I see Mutla
with the ponies! Come on, Koos, now let's go!"

"Sh-o-o-o-o-h! Aunt Johanna is playing for us on the organ. She's going
to sing. Come, listen!" protested Petrus under his breath. Petrus loved
to hear his aunt and cousins sing Psalm-tunes with the organ. He could
play many hymns fairly well himself.

While Aunt Johanna sang, Uncle Abraham and Grandfather Joubert got
out some big cigars and smoked, as they listened, seated in large
comfortable chairs. The girls sat as quiet as mice, applying themselves
to their fancy-work and sewing.

Presently Magdalena was asked to play the Volkslied, or national
anthem. All stood up and joined heartily in the singing. Petrus and
George watched their chance. When Franzina and Yettie began some badly
played mazurkas and dance-tunes of their own on the concertina, they
quietly slipped out. In a twinkling they were off on their ponies,
which Mutla had long had waiting for them at the stoop.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] "Well content." (Great Boer farms are given names.)

[8] "Mutla" means "thorn."

[9] Village.

[10] Little stream.



CHAPTER III

A TRANSVAAL "MODEL FARM"


"Whoa, Ferus!

"This won't do, George. It's too hot to gallop like that. Let's go
slower." The flaming of the midday sun on the perspiring boys was
becoming intolerable.

"I wish I had a pony like Ferus, Koos. He's great!"

"Ferus is a Basuto. They are sure-footed, hardy little beasts for
traveling in South Africa. They can travel from five to six miles an
hour the live-long day--carrying heavy loads, too--and scarcely feel
it. But the Cape ponies are the most wonderful ones for hunting and
shooting. They aren't afraid of anything. They are taught to stand
still, half a day, sometimes, right where you leave them, by merely
turning the bridle over their heads."

"Koos, did you ever go hunting?" asked George. "Daddy says you Boer
boys are trained to ride from the time you can walk, and to handle a
gun as easily as an English boy does a cane. Is that so?"

"Boer boys are all good marksmen, George. Once I had an older brother
David. He was but thirteen--just my age--when the war broke out, and
my father, grandfather and great-grandfather all took to horse and gun
in defense of their country. You and I were not born then. Young as
he was, he shouldered a musket and bravely fought at my father's side
until both were killed in the same terrible battle. There was a whole
regiment of Boer boys fighting in the war no older than was David. Some
were even less. Many were only twelve. And they fought at the side of
great-grandfathers of seventy and over. As for big game hunting--I'd
like to hear some of your father's exciting experiences hunting in that
awful Kalahari Desert, George. Were you with him there long?"

"No, Koos--a very short time. I can't bear to talk about it. I never
want to see the place again! That terrible Zulu, Dirk, was there! You
ought to see all daddy's trophies--beautiful pelts, Koodoo horns,
hides, and ivory from many a fine tusker! Daddy had plenty of big game
shooting--lions, elephants and everything! Several times he almost lost
his life. But all that was before mother died, and Aunt Edith brought
me here to father. But I want to go home."

"But is the Kalahari Desert as bad as people say?"

"Worse! It's just thousands and thousands of miles of burning hot sand.
Nothing grows there but a few dried-up low Karroo bushes. My clothes
were always all torn up by awful prickly bushes just full of long
hack-thorns like fish-hooks."

"'Wacht-een-bigte' is what we Boers call them. It is a kind of cactus,
or giraffe-acacia bush. The thorns are exasperating!"

"And the only water one could get was from salty, hot, muddy pools
nearly a hundred miles apart. That is why the place is called 'The
Great Thirst Land.' Father says, too, that at night the hyenas came so
close that once they stole his clothes as he slept."

"W-h-e-w!" exclaimed Koos.

George shuddered, as an ebony-faced black approached them.

"Now, George, don't be afraid. That's only Shobo, the Bushman. There
goes your father and Uncle Abraham riding about the farm together. They
have stopped away over by the willows, to watch the Kafirs branding
cattle. They drive them inside that fence, fasten the gate, then
quickly lasso each beast--one by one--by the hind leg, trip it over,
and apply the hot iron. It doesn't really hurt them, you know."

"Petrus, what is this we are coming to? Your mealie-fields?"

"The mealie-fields, yes, but there's not a blade of corn. The locusts
left all uncle's acres as bare as though burnt by a fire."

"Do tell me about it, Koos. Couldn't you stop them?"

"Nothing could be done. We found the Kafirs from the kraals out in
great numbers, galloping their ponies up and down between the long
rows of corn, firing their guns, beating on tin cans, yelling and
making the most hideous noise and racket, their packs of barking dogs
following after them, hoping to scare the locusts away. But they had
settled to stay. Oh, George, you just ought to have seen all the
Kafir women gathering up the crawling insects--most of them over two
inches long--into great heaps, filling every kind of pan and pot,
then roasting them over the flames and ravenously devouring them on
the spot. The little Bush-children, too, gobbled them up greedily
while they were still hot. They considered them great dainties, I'm
sure. What they could not eat they carried over to the kraals, where
the Kafir women ground them between stones into a sort of meal. They
mixed this with grease and fat and baked it into cakes. Even the
horses, dogs, cats and chickens gobbled the locusts up with a relish.
Look! There goes funny little Shobo, trying to catch a pony for Aunt
Johanna's cart. Yes--Shobo's catching him all right."

Before them, as they rode on, stretched miles of Uncle Abraham's
richest pasture-lands. Grazing about, in the afternoon sun, were great
herds of his uncle's fine horses, sturdy little ponies, mules, sleek
herds of fat oxen, and great flocks of sheep and goats.

The contented lowing of the fat cattle, the soft bleating of the sheep
and goats, was music in Koos' ears.

"Listen, George, don't you like to hear it?" asked the Boer boy. Like
his uncle, Petrus delighted in the beauty and superiority of the
farm-beasts, many of which he knew by name. They would come at his
call. Petrus loved the vast farm. Even the name--"Weltefreden"--was
dear to him.

George gazed about the scene of happy pastoral life before him. His
father had often told him of the pleasure the Boers took in the joys
of their farm-life. He had heard him say that the Boers' love for
their pastoral life makes them believe that the Old Testament is all
about themselves. No wonder the daily reading of the Sacred Book
meant so much to them! George was beginning to understand what his
father meant. Truly, the Boer farmers seemed to be trying to re-live
in the Transvaal the ideal life shown them in the pages of Holy
Writ. "All those sheep, calves and goats across there are a part of
Magdalena's dowry. Magdalena is engaged to be married to the son of the
Predikant[11] of our little Dutch Reformed Church--Hercules van der
Groot. He asked her for an 'upsit'[12] at once. She will have a fine
dowry, for uncle has been giving her part of all the new-born lambs,
kids and fowls ever since she was little like Franzina and Yettie. He
is doing the same for each of them too."

"And I suppose your uncle will give you a great farm with cattle and
beasts of all kinds for your own, some day, and then you will become
a rich farmer like he is, and just settle right down here in the
Transvaal forever," suggested the English boy.

"'Boer' means 'farmer,' George. That's what we all are--farmers. And
do you know what 'Transvaal' means? It means 'across the Vaal River.'
And there's no finer land or climate in all South Africa than ours.
Many Boer sons do settle down on their fathers' farms forever. Many are
born, live and die right here in the Transvaal. Neither my grandfather
nor great-grandfather were ever outside of South Africa. They were too
busy fighting the natives. Uncle, of course, lost everything in the
war. Since then he's had no time for travel. But it's different with
me, George. I mean to see something of the world. I'm saving all the
money uncle gives me for travel. It's a six thousand mile trip from
Cape Town to Cairo. But when the great 'Cape to Cairo' railroad is
finished three years from now, George, I'm sure I shall want to go.
Maybe I can save money enough. Then I've heard so much about England. I
want to visit London, and Westminster Abbey, and see everything."

"Oh, Koos, if ever you do come to London, you must look us up sure. We
will be glad to see you."

"Thank you, George. I would not miss seeing you there. There goes 'old
Piete'--our Hottentot wagon-driver--with a mule-team load of firewood.
And here comes Mutla from the sheep-shearing. I hope the Kafirs are not
all through.

"Mutla, what about the sheep-shearing? Is it all over?"

"Yes, my master," answered the Kafir.

"Well, George, I'm sorry we have missed it. Sheep-shearing days are
always great days on the farm, when half a hundred Kafirs from the
kraals are all working at once. They have been at it all this week.
To-morrow the wool-washing and drying begins. Then follows the packing
for market. At the last count, uncle's great flock of Merinos numbered
six thousand; at least that is the nearest we could come to it, for
there are so many that we never can be sure exactly how many the
jackals have taken over night. It's fun, though, every morning to try
to count them, as they follow each other just as fast as possible,
leaping over the gate from the inclosure into the pasture. You ought to
see clever little Shobo. Every time he spies a jackal he chases it into
a porcupine's hole, only to see it speedily driven out. Suppose we go
over towards the Kafir kraals, George? Shall we?"

"Oh, yes, Petrus, let's do!" exclaimed George in delight. They
were riding along through the willow, wattle and wild-tobacco
trees bordering the pretty little spruit of clear water, where the
wool-washing would take place to-morrow.

It was George's first trip to South Africa. He had never seen a Kafir
kraal. He had heard that South Africa was a "land of diamonds"; that
in "every stone the gold glittered"; that vermillion flamingoes stand
on the river-banks gazing down at the little fishes; that gorgeous
feathered beauties flit through the African forests, glancing from
branch to branch in the bright sunlight but that they had no song;
that the Bushman's dogs had no bark; that the flowers were without
fragrance; the skies without clouds, and the rivers often without water.

George wondered if he would ever see any of those strange wild animals
with unspellable and unpronounceable names about which he had read
so much in his African hunting and travel books--Koodoos, gemsbuck,
wildebeestes, bushbuck, waterbuck, troops of gnus, with tails like
horses, and spiral horns glittering in the sunlight, spotted hyenas,
droves of blessbok, tsessebe, and a very strange animal called
blaauwbok--whatever that could be.

"Petrus, I wish I could hide in the top of a very high tree and get a
good look at a real Tsavo 'man-eater,' and perhaps, just as he was
about to spring, a little Bushman, with nothing but his poisoned
arrows, would come out and kill him."

"I can't promise you'll see any terrible 'man-eaters,' George, but
you'll soon see a Bushman or two, perhaps half a hundred black Kafirs,
and maybe a--"

"Zulu?" broke in George. "Petrus, I'm going home. See those black
clouds coming? It will rain soon."

"Not a single Zulu! I'll promise you that, George. Uncle has not one
on the place. Mutla has strict orders to keep them away. The Kafirs
are perfectly harmless. They're a good-natured crowd of fellows. You
will like them. They are not real savages, George. Many of them are
intelligent and anxious for education. Some of the best study in the
negro schools of the United States. But most of them still live with
their dogs, chickens, goats and other animals all mixed up together in
their kraals. The 'Red Kafirs,' off in Bondoland, and the Transkei, on
the coast, still mix red clay into their hair and cover their bodies
with it."

"I'd rather face all the Kafirs in Kaffraria than one Zulu, Petrus!"
protested George. "I'm never afraid of Mutla."

"Wait until you see some of the happy-faced, laughing Zulus of
Natal--the Durban 'ginrickshaw' Zulu boys for instance. You will never
be afraid of them. Zulus are not all dangerous--like Dirk. Many of them
make good, honest house-servants, and are to be trusted. Kafirs work
better in the fields. Fine specimens as many of them are, yet the best
of them are not the equals of the magnificent big Zulus of Natal and
Zululand--splendidly built, coal-black giants like Dirk."

"Petrus, here come two Kafirs now!" whispered George.

"Those are Hottentots, George," laughed Petrus. "Don't you see their
tufty hair--all little wiry balls with open spaces between, just
like the Bushman's. Both are little yellow-brown, flat-faced people
who click, click, when they try to talk. The word 'Hottentot' means
a 'Stammerer' or 'Jabberer.' We cannot understand their jargon, and
Uncle Abraham and I have to talk to them by signs. The Kafirs scorn the
Hottentots, and the Hottentots hate the pigmy Bushmen. They won't work
together. There goes a little Bushman, now. They have no lobes to their
ears. Many of them sleep out in the open--winter and summer. On cold
nights they sometimes lie so close to the fire that they blister their
bodies until the skin peels off. But they are great little hunters.
They always know where to find water. They will watch the flight of the
birds, or spoor some animal to his drinking-place, and when on the hunt
they'll eat the flesh of anything, from an elephant to a mouse."

"Ugh! Snakes, too, Koos?"

"Yes. Snakes, lizards, tortoises, grubs, frogs, locusts, flying ants,
ostrich eggs, wild honey, young bees, nestling birds of all kinds, and
all sorts of bulbs and roots they dig up with pointed sticks. And you
know how their arrowheads are always smeared with poison."

"Ugh! Bushmen must be disgusting! No wonder the Kafirs hate them. I
should, too!" protested George. "Look! Petrus, we've reached the Kafir
kraals!"

Spread out before them, just beyond a few tall trees, were twenty or
more odd-looking huts, arranged in a semicircle. They could see the
naked little black children playing about and hear their chatter.
Beautiful herds of fat cattle, guarded by huge, dark-hued Kafirs,
came slowly winding along the road past them, on their way to the
cattle-kraals for their evening milking. It was almost sunset.

"Petrus, see those black clouds! It's going to rain!"

There came a loud clap of thunder. Mutla galloped quickly across to
Petrus. Springing lightly to the ground, he exclaimed:

"Oh, my master, come quick to kraals! Rain, bad rain!"

"You are right, Mutla. George, come quick! We must hurry home! We are
in for a drenching!"

They put their ponies to the gallop and scampered over the soaking
ground as another crash of thunder brought the water down in sheets.

It was one of those frequent, heavy, sub-tropical downpours which come
and go so quickly in the southern hemisphere.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] Preacher.

[12] Evening call.



CHAPTER IV

THE GREAT "TREK"


Great-grandfather Joubert was a very patriarch in years. A full century
had passed over his head. They had all been such active years, full of
stirring memories. Through his rugged features there shone the same
big-hearted kindliness which had marked all his days.

Petrus loved him. No one could tell quite such fascinating tales as
he; thrilling tales of early adventure and conquests; of hair-breadth
escapes from wild animals and savage natives in the final conquering
of the African Veldt; tales of the terrible "Border Wars," and of long
wars against the British.

To Great-grandfather Joubert his country's history was sacred history.
It had all taken place before his very eyes. In fact, he had helped
to make it. Even in his eighty-fifth year he had scaled the Transvaal
hills and done scouting duty with all but the agility of his sons,
grandsons, and great-grandsons fighting bravely at his side.

He often sat thinking it over. Few of the old "Voor-trekker" Boers were
still living--those who had "trekked" in their great ox-wagons across
the deadly "Karroo," finally to settle in the Transvaal. But that great
"Exodus"--known in Boer history as the "Great Trek of 1836"--was one of
Great-grandfather Joubert's most vivid memories. He was but a boy then.

The mid-summer heat was so oppressive that Great-grandfather Joubert
had asked to have his comfortable armchair moved over close by the open
window, just above the syringa bush. He liked the scent.

But two weeks now remained until Christmas time--about the hottest
season of the year in South Africa. In another week would come the
yearly festival commemorating that tragic episode of December 16, 1836,
"Dangaan's Daag," when the immortal Piet Retief, with a number of the
Voor-trekkers, left the main party and made their way down into Natal,
only to be massacred by the Zulus.

All day long Great-grandfather Joubert sat there beside the open window
smoking his ornate pipe filled with fragrant tobacco and reading from
the large, silver-bound Bible on his knees, whose open pages were swept
by his long, grizzly beard. He was a typical "Takhaar" Boer.

Aunt Johanna had brought him the Sacred Book, with some hot coffee and
rolls. From the window he could see Uncle Abraham riding about the
farm to see that his beasts were all right, counting his flocks, and
superintending his Kafirs.

The Hottentot maids fetched him his dinner. Then Petrus brought him
the latest Johannesburg and London daily newspapers. He often sat
and read to him carefully everything of interest--especially the
latest "war-news"--which filled all the leading pages, nowadays, with
accounts of the terrible "world-war" raging throughout Europe between
Germany and the Allies. Thus Great Britain--their mother-country--had
been plunged into the fearful conflict. Great-grandfather Joubert
wished he was younger that he might go himself to fight for his king.
"Race-hatred" had no place in his feelings. The Jouberts belonged to
the more intelligent, unprejudiced class of Boers who had long ceased
to regard the British as intruders. He had always believed with Paul
Kruger--the great Boer leader of his day--that "Where love dwells
prosperity follows."

As he re-read the old story of the wanderings of the Israelites in
the Wilderness--they scarcely knew whither--the trials and hardships
they had encountered--it seemed to him that the Sacred Book was telling
the story of the "Great Trek" of his own people. The Boers, too, had
wandered forth--had suffered hardship and injustice no less than had
the patriarchs of old--he told himself. Closing the book, he folded
his hands, and, leaning comfortably back in his armchair, he gazed far
across the grassy sweep of high veldt, with its red-brown scattered
kopjes, towards the western horizon. Soon he was lost in the memories
of a century.

Softly the room door opened. In a twinkling Petrus' arms were flung
around the old man's neck.

"A penny for your thoughts, Grandfather dear! Please let me stay here
with you a while," begged the boy.

"Ah, Koos, is it you, my boy? Yes, yes, you may stay a while if you do
not ask too many questions. It is easy to guess your thoughts. Let me
try. Your visit with Aunt Kotie at Johannesburg next week. Your trip
to Cape Town with Lieutenant Wortley and George. Hurrying back home in
time for Christmas. Isn't that right, Koos?"

"Yes, Grandfather, and George is expecting a big Christmas box from his
Aunt Edith in England. Now for yours!"

"I should have to take you back to the early days in the Old Colony,
Koos, when I was but a boy like yourself. And, like you, I used
to beg my old grandfather for 'stories' of his country, which was
France. He was one of several hundred French Huguenots who fled from
their own country to South Africa, because they could not worship
as they liked. Those were happy days in the Old Colony there on our
large, quiet farms, before British rule became intolerable. Our
people were prosperous slave-holders. My father owned as many as
eighty Hottentots. But as British oppression became more and more
intolerable--our slaves liberated, and indignities of every kind heaped
upon us--our Boer leaders resolved to endure no more and the great
'Exodus'--known in history as the 'Great Trek of 1836'--began. I shall
never forget those awful days. I was just a boy then."

"Why didn't the Boers rebel?" indignantly questioned Petrus.

"Rebellion was useless. But we knew of a vast land that stretched
away to the north of us. To be sure, it was filled with savages and
ferocious wild animals, but even that was preferable to British
tyranny. There were about six thousand of us in all who left our
fertile coastland farms and trekked forth into the unknown wilderness
in search of new homes where we could live in peace. One by one, we
loaded up our huge ox-drawn wagons, which were to serve as home,
fort and wagon for many a long day on our journey. Inside these great
covered wagons--'rolling-houses'--the Zulus called them--the women and
children were seated. Outside--tramping alongside as a guard--carrying
their well-oiled, long-barreled guns--were the men. The older children
helped to drive and round up the great flocks and herds which
accompanied our migration. Well do I remember the cries of a small,
bare-foot boy of ten, running at the head of a long team of tired oxen,
which now and then quickened its pace at the touch of his sjambok. Who
do you suppose that bit of a boy was, Koos?"

"You, Grandfather?"

"No, no, Koos. That little fellow was only about half my size then,
but, since those hard days, he has four times ruled our glorious
Transvaal as its President, and often fought with us all for our
country's freedom."

"Oh, I know! President Kruger?"

"Yes, Koos, that ragged little boy was none other than Paul Stephanus
Kruger."

"Go on, Grandfather. Did the Voor-trekkers come straight to the
Transvaal with all their covered ox-wagons and everything?"

"No, Koos. There were the great desolate stretches of the 'Karroo' to
be crossed, with such dangers and hardships by day and night that many
of our oxen soon trekked their last trek. The loud gun-like crack of
the long ox-whips, as they whirled over the poor oxen's heads--and
fell with a savage blow on their brown hides--to the driver's yell:
'TREK'!--is still in my ears. Those whips, made from the hide of
giraffes, were usually eighteen or twenty feet long.

"This great 'Exodus'--or 'the Boer Mayflower trip'--as your cousins in
New York City once described it--was full of all kinds of experiences
and suffering. Vast herds of wild elephants impeded our way. Flocks of
ostriches, with herds of zebras, antelopes, gnus and quaggas, covered
the plains in such vast numbers that at times the whole landscape
was obscured. Poisonous snakes glided from among the bushes in front
of us--and there was scarcely a rocky kloof or kopje but sheltered a
ravenous lion or leopard."

"Oh, Grandfather! and were your dangers over when you'd crossed that
terrible Karroo?"

"No, Koos, they were just beginning. All the Voor-trekkers did not go
in one direction. They spread out like a fan from the Mother Colony,
advancing by different routes. About two hundred followed Hendrik
Potgieter to the banks of the Vaal, into the land we now call the
Orange Free State. Another small party trekked its way down to Delegoa
Bay where all but two perished from the horrible poisonous marshes.
I was with the main party, which continued on farther northward, and
finally settled here in the Transvaal. Here we encountered the fierce
Matebele, who attacked us in large numbers. Quickly we chained our
wagons together into a huge circle--making a 'lagger' or fort of them,
and fired on the savages from that ambuscade--our women bravely loading
and re-loading our guns for us. They rushed madly upon us and fought
like demons--stabbing in through the spokes of the wheels. Desperate as
we were, Boers are good marksmen, and finally the Matebele were driven
off, but not until many of our brave people were massacred, and six
thousand head of our cattle and sheep taken. Then we had fifty years of
terrible Kafir wars--Zulu wars--and Border Wars of the most horrible
kind against the savage natives before we could possess the land--our
own Transvaal--in peace."

"Oh, Grandfather! Grandfather! I'm so glad your life was spared!" cried
Petrus, flinging his arms tightly about his great-grandfather's neck.
"But you forgot to tell me the story of 'Dangaan's Daag' and Piet
Retief." Petrus never tired of hearing of that famous march of the
Voor-trekkers to Natal under their heroic leader, Piet Retief. History
tells us it was comparable only to the march of the Greek Ten Thousand
in Asia.

"No, Koos, I've told you that story a hundred times. I'm thankful I did
not join that fatal party. One of your uncles went."

"Was it Uncle Petrus Jacobus, Grandfather? The one who was made
President next after Kruger, and who became a famous general? The one
who was made commander-in-chief of all the Boer forces, and gained the
victories of Majuba Hill and Laing's Neck, against the British? The
uncle whose name I bear? Oh, Grandfather, may I see his picture? The
one in your old iron chest?" begged Petrus excitedly.

"Here is the key, Koos. Lift out the things. It is in an old portfolio
down in the very bottom."

One by one, Petrus spread the precious keepsakes from the Boer war on
the floor about the old chest. It was a strange collection. The first
thing his hand touched, was an old "bandoler"--or cartridge-belt--heavy
with unspent cartridges--now green with mold. Petrus laid it on the
floor at his great-grandfather's feet. Next came a long-barreled, old
gun--the sight of which made Koos' eyes sparkle with interest, but a
tear fell down the old Boer's bronzed cheek as he lifted the rusty
Mauser and read the words cut on its stock thirteen years ago: "For
God, Country, and Justice." Silently he examined it, but Koos could
read in his flashing eyes that he was hearing again the distant rolling
of artillery, the crackling of rifles, the shrieking of shells through
the air--made bright by the sweeping searchlights of the enemy. Then
Petrus lifted out an old broad-brimmed slouch hat. Embroidered on the
band around its crown were the words: "For God and Freedom," and sewed
on one side of the upturned brim was a rosette of the "Vier-kleur," and
the fluffy brown tail of a meerscat. A small roll containing a blanket
and a mackintosh came next.

"Grandfather, I don't see the portfolio," protested Koos, who had about
reached the bottom of the old chest.

"Go on, Koos, you will find it along with my old Bible--the one I read
between battles."

Carefully Petrus lifted out a great silken flag and unfurled it--its
bright horizontal stripes of red, white and blue, being crossed by a
band of green--the "Vier-kleur" of the Republic. Within the folds of
the old flag he had found a well-worn pocket Bible and the portfolio.

"Hand me the flag, too, Koos," said the old man. He touched its silken
folds tenderly--almost with affection. "This flag belonged to the days
before the annexation of the Transvaal to Great Britain--before our
present 'Union of South Africa' existed. Its colors tell of the time
when the Transvaal was the 'South African Republic,' Koos."

"Shall we always have to fly the 'Union Jack' in the Transvaal,
Grandfather? George says it helps him to feel more at home down here."

"It may be God's will, Petrus. Let us hope that the worst of our
troubles are forever over. During the thirteen years since peace was
signed between Great Britain and the Transvaal our friendly relations
have been deepening. A new era of progress, prosperity and peace seems
to have come for the Transvaal. Our future looks bright."

"The portfolio, Grandfather? Is Uncle Petrus' picture there? And tell
me all about his great victories of Majuba Hill and Laing's Neck, won't
you? I've never heard enough about them."

"I can't talk of those days, Koos. Divine favor guided our footsteps,
and, victories though they were, those days cost us many of our
best-loved kinsfolk--even your little thirteen-year-old cousin
Martinus, who fought so bravely in the 'Penkop Regiment'--a whole
regiment made up of school-children like himself. There were also
great-grandfathers like myself. Paul Kruger was seventy-five, and
hundreds of his gray-haired burghers fighting with him were even older.
Your Uncle Petrus, when in command of all the Boer forces, was very
close to seventy.

"We never wanted to fight and kill our fellow-beings. It was
heart-rending to us," continued the aged man, vehemently, as he handed
Petrus the picture of General Joubert. "All we asked for was peace to
cultivate the soil, and worship together. But every burgher in the
Transvaal--from President Kruger and your Uncle Petrus down to little
Martinus--swore to yield his life's blood rather than fail to defend
his country's right to freedom. For that their fathers had suffered and
died."

"I've heard Uncle Abraham say that it was just a 'Wait-a-bit' peace the
Boers signed in 1902, Grandfather. Do you think so?"

"No, Petrus. Loyalty to the mother country is deepening in the
Transvaal every day. Premier Botha and all his people are ready to
fight in her behalf at any time. Now run along. There comes George
galloping across to see you, Koos. I'll put these things back in the
chest myself."

"Thank you, Grandfather dear, for all you've told me," called back
Petrus, as he bounded downstairs to meet George, who had come to take
part in the short twilight games of the early tropical evening which
Petrus, Franzina, Yettie and Theunis always played together just before
dinner-time.

Scarcely had darkness given place to a bright moonlight than
Magdalena's favorite "freyer"[13]--Hercules van der Groot--came
riding over on his "kop-spuiling" courting horse--tossing his head,
prancing and jumping all the way (being sharply bitted and curbed for
the purpose). As Hercules always liked to look very imposing on these
important courting occasions he had decked himself out in a fine yellow
cord jacket, vest and trousers, changed his veldt-schoens for a pair
of shiny tight patent-leather congress gaiters, above which he wore a
pair of showy leather leggings. Waving gracefully in the breeze from
one side of his broad-brimmed white felt slouch hat was a tall ostrich
plume--and in his pocket he had not forgotten to place a nice box of
"Dutch Mottoes." He had ridden twenty miles from his father's farm
Vergelegen.[14]

Upon Aunt Johanna's inviting him to enter, he politely shook hands with
each member of the family, then seated himself in a corner against
the wall, patiently waiting for an opportunity to speak alone with
Magdalena, when he quickly whispered in her ear: "We'll set oop this
necht."

Finally, after the family had retired, Magdalena appeared dressed in
a pink dress with bright ribbons of every shade, and much jewelry
encircling her neck. In one hand she carried a match box and in the
other a piece of candle, which--to Hercules' delight--he noticed was
a long one. According to rigid Boer etiquette he must depart when the
candle had burned out. Together they lighted the taper and placed it
upon the table alongside the plate of "Candy Lakkers" which Magdalena
had that morning made especially for her freyer, who produced his
"Dutch Mottoes." As Hercules kept an eye on the diminishing candle,
anxiously guarding it from drafts, seeing to it that it should not flit
or flare, and trimming it from time to time, he told her how much he
admired her uncle's new horses, how well the oxen looked after the
rain, and other such interesting things--not forgetting to assure her
that he loved her very much. But as time flies with lovers so with
lights, and the interview was abruptly terminated, but not before it
was agreed they should be married on New Year's Day, and that their
honeymoon trip should be to the Victoria Falls on the Zambesi.

FOOTNOTES:

[13] Suitor.

[14] "Set aside."



CHAPTER V

A BOER "NACHTMAAL"


For two days Johannesburg's great "Market Square" had been filled with
out-spanned heavy ox-drawn wagons. Uncle Abraham and Petrus had arrived
with hundreds of other Boer farmers from the surrounding country,
for the semi-annual "Nachtmaal"--which really means "night meal" or
"Sacrament." It was always an occasion of great excitement and bustle.
For, besides the "Divine Service," which lasted all day, there was
the pleasurable excitement of meeting old friends, making new ones,
shopping, selling, and putting through of business deals. Most of the
burghers brought their whole families with them. But Uncle Abraham and
Petrus had had to come alone this year. Great-grandfather Joubert was
not very well. They greatly missed Aunt Johanna, Magdalena and the
children.

Aunt Kotie had urged them to stay with her. But because of the big load
of wool he had to sell, Uncle Abraham thought it best to remain in the
"Market Square" where all the transactions were made.

To the Boer youths and maidens "Nachtmaal" meant a time of baptisms,
confirmations, engagements, and marriages. After the services of the
day were over, Boer sweethearts met under the blinking stars in the
shadow of the tent-wagons and repeated love's old story to each other.

Half way to Johannesburg they had halted their wagon at a
little "Negotic Winkel," or store, to lay in a good supply of
sweets--"Lakkers" and "Mottoes"--of which both Uncle Abraham and
Petrus were inordinately fond. As they had decided to eat alongside
their wagon they purchased also numerous boxes of sardines and sweet
biscuits. Coffee they had brought from home.

The first "Divine Service" began at seven o'clock in the morning. The
last was not over until long after dark. Before each service--if there
was no business to be transacted--the men lingered about the church
door discussing their crops, the latest hail storm or drought, their
children and their troubles with their Kafirs. The women and girls
gathered in chattering groups about the tent-wagons, in their stiff,
new print dresses and heavily piped black "kappies"--well-lined and
frilled, for the sake of protecting their complexions from the strong
African sun.

At the first peal of the organ all trooped into the church, the
"Kirkraad"--dressed in black with white neckties--entering first, with
the minister, or Predikant, and seating themselves up in the front pews
before the pulpit. Then the solemn rites began.

During the brief spaces between services Uncle Abraham and Petrus
visited the various stores, carefully attending to the half-yearly
shopping for Aunt Johanna. Uncle Abraham also disposed advantageously
of his farm produce. He had never brought to market a better clip of
wool than this. For it he had just received the very satisfactory price
of three hundred golden sovereigns. Of this he had immediately paid out
one hundred and fifty pounds in necessary household and agricultural
purchases, such as a new cultivator, coffee to last until the next
"Nachtmaal," barbed-wire and a large supply of strong, new wool-sacks.
He was sorry to be deprived of Aunt Johanna's help.

But together he and Petrus made their purchases, always hurrying
instantly back to their pew in the church at the first sound of the
bell from the little "bell-tent." As, one by one, the items on the long
list were purchased and crossed off, the home-load in the big wagon
mounted higher and still higher, until by evening it would hold no
more.

It had been a good "Nachtmaal." The inspiring services, old friendships
renewed, the large number of marriages and engagements, and the golden
sovereigns in his pocket, all told him so. He handed Petrus a generous
amount, telling him he might need it on his trip. The sun was sinking
in the west, and the trek back to the farm a long one. So he in-spanned
his long team of oxen just as Aunt Kotie's motor came whizzing up for
Petrus. The boy hesitated. It was his first trip away from home alone.
He had never been parted from his dear Uncle Abraham.

As he jumped into her car he could see through the gathering dusk many
fathers of families, Bible in hand, standing in their wagons conducting
evening service. Aunt Kotie's driver was a Zulu, he noticed, but not
with alarm.

"Trek!" yelled Uncle Abraham to his oxen. Aunt Kotie had just
promised him she would go with Koos to Kimberley and put him safely
in Lieutenant Wortley's care. Petrus waved "good-by" as the big wagon
rolled off and vanished in the deepening twilight.

       *       *       *       *       *

Aunt Kotie lived in Parktown, the most fashionable quarter of the
great metropolis. Next morning, from her upper veranda, Petrus got a
wonderful bird's-eye view over the city, and off to the Mageliesberg
Mountains. South of the city, as Aunt Kotie explained, the Vaal and
other streams of the Orange River glided through gorges to the Atlantic
Ocean, while northward they flowed to the Limpopo, and then on into the
Indian Ocean.

Petrus noticed that a huge, black-skinned Zulu, who eyed him narrowly
from time to time, served them at breakfast, and that still another
black giant--a particularly evil-looking fellow, under whose tread the
very earth shook--helped him and his aunt into the waiting motor car
for their sightseeing ride. Aunt Kotie explained that native boys did
all her work. She found them more reliable than white help.

As they drove down broad streets, past great stone and marble
buildings, palatial club-houses, fine churches, museums, and the High
School, Aunt Kotie saw that something was wrong. The people walked
briskly and excitedly about the streets. Ugly rumors of anti-German
riots had reached her. "Market Square," of yesterday's peaceful
"Nachtmaal" was now filled with striking miners, who were in open
revolt, she was told, having already attacked and battered in the
offices of the Rand gold mines.

So Aunt Kotie ordered her Zulu driver to keep far away from the "Market
Square," and instead of visiting the gold-fields they would motor up to
Pretoria and back--the Union's capital city, which would be sure to
interest Petrus.

[Illustration: "IT WAS A LONG, LOW, ONE-STORY COTTAGE, HALF-HIDDEN BY
THE ROADSIDE TREES"]

In fact, Petrus was having his first glimpse of a great city.
Johannesburg was the equal of any great metropolis of Europe, Aunt
Kotie told him. It was the wonderful "Golden City" he had long wished
to see. He had never been beyond the "Market Square" before. The
"City of Midas," it had been called since the discovery of the famous
"Witwatersrand" or "White Water's Ridge" south of the city.

As they sped in the direction of Pretoria, Petrus gained a panoramic
view of gold mine after mine, from which fabulous wealth had been dug.
Vast reservoirs, then mills, with a long row of great iron chimneys
came in sight, and the roar of batteries crushing the quartz containing
the gold reached their ears.

"These mines must be as rich as the Klondike, Aunt Kotie?" questioned
Petrus.

"Hundreds of times as rich. And we are told that buried beneath
Johannesburg still lies more gold than the world ever saw."

As their motor entered Pretoria's "Market Square" the band was playing
to a gathering of the townsfolk. They could not pause to listen. It was
nearly evening, barely time in which to give Petrus a hasty glimpse of
the Capital's streets, and especially of the "Kantoors," the government
offices for the Union of South Africa, of which General Botha had long
been "Premier."

Before leaving Pretoria Aunt Kotie declared that Petrus must see Paul
Kruger's old home, if only for one glance. It was a long, low one-story
cottage, half-hidden by the roadside trees and shrubbery. Marble lions
guarded either side of the entrance to the broad, shady stoop, where on
many an afternoon President Kruger had enjoyed his coffee and smoked
with his burghers.

"'Oom Paul' his people called him. Every Boer loved him. He was the
close friend of your uncle, General Joubert, who commanded the Boer
forces, and, of course, your father, grandfather, great-grandfather
and Uncle Abraham, all knew him well," explained Aunt Kotie. "Now for
home. To-morrow there'll be more sightseeing for you, Koos," added
his aunt, who was becoming very fond of her bright young nephew from
"Weltefreden."



CHAPTER VI

OVER THE "GREAT KARROO" TO CAPE TOWN


A fearful dust-storm was raging over the Kimberley veldt. Gusts of
sand and dirt blew into their faces as Aunt Kotie kissed Petrus
good-by. He had just promised to spend his winter at High School in
Johannesburg with her. Lieutenant Wortley and George were glad to see
their little Boer friend again, but they feared a violent thunderstorm
and drenching. The wind was unroofing houses, blowing down trees, and
filling the air with rubbish and dirt at a terrific rate.

So the lieutenant hailed an old vehicle. There was just time between
trains for a glance at the famous Kimberley diamond mines, which
Petrus had never seen. The wheels of the old vehicle often sank a
foot deep as it rattled along through clouds of dust, past miserable
corrugated-iron shanties and mounds of débris, left after the diamonds
had been sorted out. Kimberley seemed to lie in a sea of sand.

To Petrus, the mine looked like a great human ant-hill whose
inhabitants were all surging busily about at hard work. They paused at
the brink of the gigantic caldron-like hole to take a look far down
at the hundreds of naked Kafirs whose bodies looked no larger than
rabbits. A man approached and asked if they would not like to be taken
down. So they jumped into a hoist, from which a bucket of the precious
"blue-stone" had just been discharged, and soon found themselves at the
bottom of the vast crater. It was a wonderful sight. There it was that
the most beautiful gems in all the world were found!

Hundreds of demon-like figures, hard at work, were emerging from the
earth and reëntering it on all sides. They were chiefly Kafirs.

"Oh, I wonder which one of these wretched-looking Kafirs is Mutla's
poor, sick brother, Diza!" exclaimed Petrus. "Mutla told me he is
afraid Diza will die if he doesn't get away from this underground
work here. If only he had the money he said he could get farm work
in Rhodesia. I heard the Predikant of uncle's church say there were
continual deaths among these wretched Kimberley mine boys who cannot
get away," continued Petrus, anxiously scanning the black faces for one
that might resemble Mutla's.

The boys hoped to catch a glimpse of a diamond. The ground had all
been squared off into different claims--which had cut it up into
blocks, cubes and rectangles. Each claim had its own wires and trollies
bringing up the precious "blue" to the surface. As the countless tubes
of the aerial tramway glided rapidly back and forth--upwards and
downwards through the labyrinthine network of wire-rope stretching
over the sides of the mine--the vast abyss seemed filled with flights
of birds fluttering to and fro.

"Uncle Abraham told me the story about the finding of the first rough
gem here," said Petrus to George. "The children of a Dutch farmer had
a small soapy-appearing stone for a plaything. They thought it was
nothing but a pebble. But a visitor noticed the strange stone one day
and offered to buy it. The mother laughed and gave it to him gladly.
Then it was examined by many experts and pronounced a valuable diamond."

"That was the beginning of one of the greatest industries the world has
ever known," added the lieutenant. "Then from the 'Premier Mine,' near
Pretoria, was taken the great 'Cullinan diamond,' which weighed a pound
and a half. That was the most valuable diamond ever found, its value
being $2,500,000."

"And it was called the 'Star of Africa,' and presented to King Edward,
wasn't it, Daddy?" exclaimed George.

"Yes, George. And part of it is set in His Majesty's scepter and part
in his crown," explained the lieutenant, as they were bobbing along in
the same old vehicle through the sand and dirt and wind-storm for their
train. Soon they were whirling towards Cape Town.

For nearly two nights and days the train continued on its way over vast
stretches of arid plains. Only a few small, dried-up, lavender-colored
"Karroo" bushes here and there were seen, with now and then a
flat-topped kopje. They were crossing the "Great Karroo"--a region of
limitless sky and sand. Desolation marked every mile of the way.

"It's just like that Kalahari Desert, Father! Some of it has gotten
inside this car, too!" protested George. A fine white alkaline powder
had penetrated the car, sifted into their baggage, down their collars,
into their eyes, hair, and everywhere it should not be. Even the food
tasted gritty. All the next day they were still passing over the same
great burning waste of sandy, sun-swept veldt. "'Karroo' is a Hottentot
name, meaning dry or barren," Petrus explained. Even the river-beds
were dried up. Towards evening, when a sudden hard rain fell over the
dry tussocky grass, the effect was magical. Hundreds of wild flowers
burst suddenly into bloom, glowing brightly in the wilderness.

The boys' excitement in watching for the possible appearance of
elephants and giraffes on the "Karroo" was giving way to doubt as none
appeared. Petrus had read of as many as five hundred giraffes in one
herd.

"All that, Petrus, was before the natives were given fire-arms,"
explained the lieutenant. "They were allowed to kill most of them off,
but there are still plenty of leopards and hyenas left."

"I've heard you say, Daddy, that before Livingstone came and civilized
the natives, white people scarcely dared live in Africa at all,"
interrupted George. "Then, after he taught them and doctored and
protected and helped them, they called him 'Messenger of God.'"

"Yes, before Livingstone the Englishmen believed that Africa was a
place little better than the Kalahari Desert, with its villainous salt
water," declared the lieutenant, with a scowl at the memory.

"Oh, Lieutenant Wortley! One of Aunt Kotie's Zulus looked exactly
like that Zulu who threw his assegai at our cart that day. He eyed
me closely every minute. I believe he is that very one!" excitedly
exclaimed Petrus. "Aunt Kotie said he'd not been with her long."

"Dirk? He'd better keep his distance from George and me if he knows
what is good for him!" said the lieutenant, with a threatening look.

"Yes, Dirk! That's just what Aunt Kotie called him. I wish he'd go
back to Zululand or the Kalahari Desert and stay there forever!"
exclaimed Petrus. The view was fast changing from the "Karroo" and
becoming more rugged. The train curved in and out of the narrowing
valleys and zigzagged up and down between beautiful ravines and rugged
kloofs. Soon the lofty cathedral-like jagged peaks of the Hottentot's
Holland Mountains came in view. Before the boys scarcely knew it they
had reached Cape Town and were rushing through the city's streets in a
tram for their hotel.

"Oh!" exclaimed both boys at once, as they caught a fine view of
towering "Table Mountain." They wanted to go at once down to the dock
where they could get a better view of it, but the lieutenant said they
must have something to eat first and rest a bit.

"But we are not tired!" protested the boys, as soon as they had eaten
a slight meal. So their sightseeing commenced at once. The streets
of the Colonial metropolis were thronged with a strange medley of
busy humanity. Ladies in carriages bent on shopping, Europeans in
white suits, turbaned Malay priests in gorgeous silken robes, and
British officers and soldiers from the barracks--everywhere. There had
been violent anti-German riots, so that now strong forces of police,
soldiers, and fire brigades were all being held in readiness to stop
further disturbances. General Botha had issued a message of protest.

After the lieutenant had taken George and Petrus down Adderly
Street--the Broadway of Cape Town--and shown them the Parliament and
Government Houses, the Fine Arts Gallery and the South African College,
where Koos expected some day to study, the boys begged to be taken down
to the dock.

The Malay driver of a passing hansom cab soon left them at the dock,
where they found a strange and motley crowd of shabbily dressed
Kafirs, sea-faring men, scantily clad Kroomen from the coast, Russians,
Greeks, Italians, Dutch and Polish Jews--all coming and going, with
here and there Malays, whose wooden sandals with their strange toe
posts, made a clattering noise as they walked.

Beneath the towering granite wall of "Table Mountain"--with its summit
enveloped in a perpetual cloud-mist--lay "Table Bay," whose cobalt-blue
waters looked smooth as glass--save for the long curving line of tidal
ripples where the water and yellow sand met. A swarm of drowsy sea-fowl
lightly rose at the approach of a ship. The thought thrilled Petrus. He
was enjoying his first glimpse of the ocean.

"This is one of the most beautiful ports in the world," said the
lieutenant, as he hailed a passing motor for a drive along the famous
"Kloof Road." Soon they were passing through Cape Town's beautiful
and picturesque suburbs with its villas half-buried in sub-tropical
foliage. Although there remained but a few days until Christmas,
flowers were blooming everywhere, roses, purple-blossomed "kafirboom,"
in airy sprays, spiky aloes with their blood-red flowers, lobelias, and
the lovely "Lily of the Nile" which bloomed the year round.

Barely time remained for a quick run out to see "Groote Schuur," the
fine old home of Cecil Rhodes--a handsome, low, gabled residence, with
an avenue of towering pines leading up to it.

"And was Rhodes buried, like Livingstone, in Westminster Abbey?" asked
George.

"No," replied his father. "He was buried on the summit of a
lonely mountain in the heart of the great land he developed for
England--Rhodesia. His tomb, which was cut out of the native rock, lies
in a spot full of grandeur, which he loved and called: 'The View of
the World.' A part of his dream for the development of Africa was the
vast scheme, now nearing completion, of the 'Cape to Cairo' railroad--a
great British stretch of steel from Cape Town to the Mediterranean.
People laughed at the wild project of a railway that should run through
the entire length of the African continent. Much of the route--all
that part in the region of the Equator--would pass through territory
inhabited by wild and war-like native tribes, and jungles infested
by lions and other wild beasts. But Rhodes toiled away at his vast
undertaking until to-day its completion is a matter of but a few more
years."

As they passed Newlands, at the foot of the mountain, Petrus and George
noticed many picnickers and gay coaching parties "too-tooing" along the
beautiful "Kloof Road." Farther on, a lively game of cricket was being
played by fine athletic-looking British and South African boys side
by side, and there were Malays, in red fezzes and gorgeously colored
blazers, playing an interesting game of golf.

Petrus' one beautiful day of sightseeing in Cape Town was about over.
Already darkness was fast settling over "Table Mountain" and the
city below it, as the little party returned to their hotel through
the business streets of the city, which they found thronged with the
troops, police, and immense crowds which had gathered in a rather
threatening spirit, and were singing, as with one voice, "Rule
Britannia." In large headlines all the evening papers told Cape Town's
citizens the startling news that one more great power had gone mad and
thrown herself into the fearful "world-war."



CHAPTER VII

A KAFIR PARTY AT THE CHIEF'S KRAAL


It was Christmas Day. In the ideal mid-summer weather, neighbors
and relatives rode over in groups all morning, until the farmhouse
gathering at "Weltefreden" was a large one by the time Petrus reached
home. Aunt Johanna had lengthened the tables until thirty were seated
for the big Christmas dinner, which she and Magdalena together had
prepared. The genuine spirit of hospitality was felt by all. Songs
by Aunt Johanna herself, splendid stories by Uncle Abraham, with
recitations and organ-playing by the children had followed.

There was to be a dance in the evening in honor of Magdalena and
Hercules, and "cross-country" riding parties had been formed for the
afternoon. Aunt Johanna's gift of gracious hospitality always made
Christmas and New Year's Day rare occasions, long to be remembered.

Over at Lieutenant Wortley's a surprise awaited George. With his
"Christmas box" from England had come his beloved Aunt Edith herself.
She could only remain until New Year's Day, but for George's sake
she had taken the long trip to South Africa. It was George's first
Christmas without his dear mother. Aunt Edith was afraid he would
be homesick. As the "tree" was to be a large one, with a dance, and
presents for all, she told George he might invite all his little
friends from Johannesburg and the surrounding farms.

Of course Petrus promised heartily to be there, then added over the
telephone--Boer children and grown-ups, too, can now "call up" their
friends on the telephone just as do our American boys and girls--"come
over this afternoon, George, can't you? Uncle Abraham promised that
I should go to the Kafir children's party--if only for a few minutes.
The Chief's giving the party himself. He always gives his people an
'ox-roasting,' you know, on New Year's Day. It's their 'Ancestral
Meat Feast.' This year, because of Magdalena's wedding, Uncle Abraham
promised him three oxen with which to celebrate. Perhaps that is why he
has invited me to their party. Anyway, I shan't enjoy it without you,
George. Will you come?"

There was a pause. "Aunt Edith says I can go, Koos, if I'm sure to be
back home here before dark--before supper-time. She'll be worried if
I'm not. Are you ready to start now?"

"Yes, George. Ride over on your pony. I'll be waiting for you at the
front stoop on Ferus."

"All right, Petrus," came George's hearty reply, and by the time Petrus
had Ferus up-saddled, George had arrived, and together they started to
the kraals, passing on the way gay parties of Magdalena's friends at
the tennis courts, and others on the croquet lawns, enjoying themselves
in the shade from the orchard trees.

As the Kafir party was to be a very special occasion, with over a
hundred little black children present, elaborate preparations for
several days past had been under way at the Chief's kraal. The older
girls had made fine bead-work, grass and copper-wire bangles for their
wrists, arms, knees, ankles and waists. They softened up the skins of
wild animals and worked them prettily, making leathern aprons to wear.
Most of the girls smeared their bodies over with a fine powdered soft
stone mixed with oil or fat, while nearly all the boys plastered white
paint over themselves, and the little children tattoed their bodies
with pointed sticks, or made circular burns on their arms.

On the morning of the party--Christmas Day--the mothers anxiously
gave a final touch to their children's toilet by a special coating
of grease, and sent the boys off to catch rats, mice and birds with
which to delight their guests' appetites, and instructed all--for the
hundredth time--not to forget to be especially polite to the Chief.

As Petrus' and George's ponies galloped up to the Chief's kraal--or the
"Great Place," as it was called--they could see long strings of gayly
decked little black children all hurrying from the different huts over
to the "Great Place," which was, of course, by far the largest of all
the kraals in the great semi-circle which looked for all the world
like a gigantic fairy-ring of mushrooms with elongated stalks--for
their upright poles reached as much as five feet before their tops were
lashed to the thatched roof, with "monkey-rope."

Arriving at the "Great Place," all the laughing, fat, little black
children swarmed about the narrow doorway, which was but a foot and a
half high, then got down on their hands and knees and crawled in the
kraal.

Petrus and George struggled through after them. Inside, the air was
dense with smoke which made their eyes smart. About the mud-walls
rested bright bunches of assegais, and small stabbing knives were stuck
into the thatch. In single file all the children walked up to the
Chief, by whose side stood the sturdy little "Bull of the Kraal"--or
"Crown Prince" as we might say--and pausing a moment before him,
saluted him with the word: "Bayette!" which means "Great Chief." Then,
discovering Petrus and George, they crowded around them, yelling:
"Azali!" "Azali!" which is just Kafir for "A present! A present!"
Knowing what to expect, Petrus came prepared with a large box of "Candy
Lakkers" which he presented to the little "Bull of the Kraal."

Then came the most important event of the party--the refreshments,
which consisted of such delicate titbits as fried mice, locusts,
mutton, goat, and old hens, which had been roasted over the embers.

After all had been gobbled up, various violent games, such as "Horses,"
"Wolf," and so on, were played by the children. Many of the bigger boys
crawled about frightening the younger ones, pretending to be lions.

Petrus and George, beginning to tire of all this, were about to thank
their kind host, the Chief, for their pleasant afternoon, mount their
ponies and strike out for home. They peered anxiously through the kraal
door to see if their ponies were all right. It was nearly dark. George
looked anxious as he recalled his promise to his Aunt Edith. "We must
go!" he said to Petrus.

"All right, George. I think so, too. Come on. It's late!"

Just at that moment there appeared the "Great Wife," as she was called.
Of all the Chief's many wives she was his favorite--the "wife of his
heart"--and the mother of the little "Bull of the Kraal," who was heir
to the chieftainship.

"Mabiliana" was her name. Petrus and George had long heard of her
beauty. They had heard, too, that five men had been assegaied before
she became the undisputed property of the gallant Chief, who had paid
the large "lobola"[15] of fifty of his fattest oxen for her.

All the pickaninnies hailed her appearance with a great shout of joy.
They crowded about her, clamoring for "A story!" "A story!"

"Just one moment longer, Petrus--just till she begins her story,"
promised George, as Mabiliana gracefully seated herself before the
children who quickly ranged themselves in a circle on the floor about
her feet.

Her dress was in keeping with her beauty. A broad band of blue and
white beads encircled her forehead, while hanging in a gracefully
pendant curve over her eyelids, sparkled another string of the same
white beads giving to her eyes a languid look. About her slender round
throat were negligently hung many more sparkling strings. Bead and
brass bracelets encircled her wrists, arms and slender ankles, where
also was noticed a fringe of monkey's hair, while fastened about her
waist was a little leathern apron, tastefully ornamented with blue, red
and white beads.

"Which shall it be, children? The 'Story of the Shining Princess' or
'Nya-Nya Bulembu,' 'The Fairy Frog,' or 'The Beauty and the Beast'?"
asked Mabiliana, very gracefully taking a pinch of snuff from time to
time.

"The Beauty and the Beast!" shouted all the little blacks with one
voice. That story is a great favorite with Kafir children.

"Then 'The Beauty and the Beast' it shall be," sweetly assented the
young Kafiress.

Mabiliana was really distressed at being urged to tell a fairy-story by
daylight. To do so--according to all Kafir traditions--was to invoke
the wrath of a wicked spirit. Many a beauty had been known to become as
hideous as an "Imbula," or ogre, after that. But rather than refuse the
children, many of whom she loved dearly, Mabiliana decided to tell the
story, then she asked for a piece of glass. Tucking this quickly into
her hair, to ward off the evil, she combed her woolly locks over it,
using the long mimosa thorn which she carried stuck through her ear.
Then carefully replacing the thorn, and, taking a pinch of snuff, she
began her story.

The children listened in breathless, big-eyed silence. Spellbound they
held their breath as the story reached the terrible moment when the
"Mollmeit" appeared--the monster "who killed and ate little girls,
and--"

Outside the loud sound of approaching hoof-beats stopping at the kraal
startled the boys.

"Oh, it's daddy come for me!" whispered conscience-stricken George to
Petrus, as he burst from the kraal into the inky blackness outside,
calling:

"Daddy! Where are you?"

Petrus dashed after him. He heard one terrified shriek, followed by the
thud, thud, thud, of a galloping horse's hoofs--growing fainter and
fainter, then silence, but for the loud cackling and barking of the
hens and dogs.

"George! Where are you? George! George!" frantically called Petrus,
peering through the inky darkness in every direction.

Only the commotion among the fowls and dogs broke the dead silence.

"George! George!" louder called Petrus, in despair.

There came no answer.

Petrus looked about for the ponies. There they were both quietly
standing just where he had left them. Shobo--the Bushboy--rushed up.

"Cluck, cluck, click, click--nhlpr--nh!" he cried out, gesticulating
wildly to Petrus, and pointing far off to the west.

"Oh, my master! My master!" cried Mutla, galloping breathlessly up.
"The Zulu! The Zulu! He got Master George!"

Petrus' foot struck against something hard. He shuddered. There lay
a six-foot long, iron-tipped assegai. One just like it fell into the
flying cart that day. He had it yet. The horrible truth came home to
him--_George was gone!_

"Quick, Ferus!" cried Petrus, springing into the saddle with the
assegai under one arm. Ferus shot over the ground at a slashing pace.
Soon his master was within sight of Lieutenant Wortley's home. The
soft glow of evening lights came from the windows. From one there came
the sparkle of many little candlelights. They were on a tree. Petrus
could see George's Aunt Edith carefully arranging the presents for the
evening party--George's party.

They reached the door. Petrus sprang from Ferus and dashed up the
steps, crying--

"Oh, Lieutenant Wortley! George is gone!"

FOOTNOTES:

[15] Payment in cattle, without which no Kafir marriage was legal.



CHAPTER VIII

A STORM ON THE DRAKENSBERG


Only low-growling Hector and little Theunis, looking down from his
bedroom window, saw them silently depart. In the cold gray dawn-light
Petrus waved a quick "good-by" up to the wondering child and they were
off.

Long before sun-up, faithful Mutla had had the three ponies up-saddled
and waiting under the orchard trees. He had strapped a small roll
containing a pair of blankets and a rain-coat to the front of his
master's saddle, and to that of the lead-horse he had tied a large
piece of biltong, or sun-dried meat, a good supply of biscuit and
coffee, and fastened an iron kettle in which to make it. Petrus
had hurriedly pressed a Testament into the pocket of his moleskin
trousers, and made sure that the two Mausers they were carrying were
well oiled. There was no time to lose. They hoped to overtake Dirk on
the road.

[Illustration: "THE SEARCHING PARTY . . . CARRIED GREAT TORCHES"]

True, the lieutenant had offered a reward of five hundred pounds in
gold to the one who returned his little son alive to him; but love for
his little English friend and neighbor was the real motive for Petrus'
suddenly planned flight over the dangerous Drakensberg Mountains.

All night long the lieutenant, heading a large searching party of
his friends and neighbors, with half a hundred Kafirs, had scoured
the neighboring woods and hills for some trace of George. In a fever
of excitement, Aunt Edith, who spent the night at "Weltefreden,"
declared it was her belief that the poor boy must have been
killed--assegaied--or thrown into some stream and perhaps devoured
alive by the crocodiles.

Aunt Johanna's fears, too, were grave, and Magdalena plainly informed
Hercules that there could be no happy wedding on New Year's Day unless
little George was captured from the Zulu, and brought home alive and
well before that time.

So all night the searching party, headed by the lieutenant, Petrus and
Hercules, carried great torches of flaming grass and tree-branches, and
flooded with light every deep game-pit, every clump of trees, kopje,
and river bank. But no answer had come. So, at sunrise, the party broke
up and returned home. Grief stricken, the lieutenant with the aid of
Hercules, immediately formed a large well-armed party of picked Kafirs
and made straight for the Kalahari Desert. There it was he had first
seen the threatening Zulu. There it was he would no doubt return with
George--and perhaps take his revenge by selling George into slavery to
the Bechuanas. It was a long trip back to that deadly "thirst-land."
They had left by sunrise. Already the party was well on its way.

But Petrus remembered one most significant remark of his Aunt Kotie's.
He remembered her telling him that Dirk had come to her from Natal,
where he had been one of a gang of Zulu dock-hands, piling lumber at
the wharf at Durban. She had also told him that Dirk's people belonged
to the great military kraal at Ekowe, in Zululand, near the Tugela
River. Petrus believed Dirk was making his escape with George, taking
the shortest cut back over the robber-infested Drakensberg Mountains to
the docks.

Moreover, Mutla--who, like all Kafirs, was an expert at "following
the spoor"--had "spoored" the hoof-marks of the Zulu's horse from the
very door of the Chief's kraal. The ground was still moist from recent
rains, and Mutla's keen eyes and quickness of perception had detected
the grass bent down, and pebbles scattered leaving the wet side
up-turned, and often the whole hoof-press of the horse clearly stamped
in the soft ground.

Mutla was certain he was following the very road the Zulu had taken.
The hoof-marks led southwards, towards the Drakensberg Mountains. So
for two days they traveled over the monotonous grasslands of the Orange
Free State with its interminable thorn-bushes, until finally, as they
neared the base of the mountains, the spoor was crossed and re-crossed
by the cloven hoof indentations of the eland, the slipper-like
footprints of the giraffe, and the immense circular depressions made by
the elephant, with now and then, to their horror, the dreaded print of
the lion's paw. Petrus and Mutla kept their rifles ready for instant
use. As the trees grew thicker the whir of wings and sudden flash of
brilliant plumage told them that feathered game was not wanting.

Suddenly there was a mighty rustling in the underbrush with the sound
of breaking branches among the trees close to them. Mutla's pony
buck-jumped, carrying his rider headlong to the ground. Five elephants
burst through the trees and dashed down an embankment on the left of
the road to the water, where, with mighty gurglings and splashings,
the monsters threw the water from their trunks in streams over their
bodies, and a little baby elephant ran about with a tree branch
playfully held in his trunk.

"Oh, Baas,[16] I thought it was lions sure!" exclaimed the frightened
Kafir.

"The big fellows didn't even see us, Mutla, and I don't think they
would have charged us if they had. But let us water our ponies and
hasten on our way."

They came out of the forest into a narrow and very winding road, and
advanced at a tripping pace. Soon they were zigzagging up the face
of the Drakensberg--the loftiest and grandest mountain range in all
South Africa. Soon the darkness of night would overtake them. Something
made them think of robbers. But Petrus was not afraid. He was a daring
rider. His horsemanship had received high praise from the lieutenant
himself, and he had marked skill with weapons. He knew the position
of the sun at all hours of the day, and of the stars by night. They
could not stray far from their way. Mutla had Arab blood in his veins.
With his keen, piercing eyes he could see all the dangerous roads and
precipices in the dark.

Ferus suddenly trembled violently. Petrus gave a quick glance into
the trees close by. Crouching at full length, far out on a branch
overhanging the stream, was a leopard glaring down, ready to spring.
Instantly Petrus' rifle was at his shoulder. The report sounded
through the forest, and the "tiger-cat," as Mutla called it, fell with
a splash into the water below.

"Oh, my master, lions sure about here," protested the still frightened
Mutla, as Petrus dismounted and began to cut down branches with which
to build a fire. With sun-down had come complete darkness there in the
depths of the tropical mountain forest.

"Fires are our best protection against wild beasts. Come, let us
prepare our supper, and sleep, for to-morrow's journey is to be a long
one."

Petrus fastened the ponies to a tree by their head-stalls, while Mutla
piled on branches and sticks, making the little fire crackle and blaze
up warmly as they prepared and ate their supper.

Then, using their saddles for pillows, with their rifles at their sides
and the blankets stretched on the ground under them, they fell asleep,
but only for a short time. Soon they awoke to find the forest flooded
with bright moonlight. It was light as day. Petrus reached for a high
branch of a native tree. This he bent down and broke off a piece about
four feet long.

"I'm making a 'knob-kerrie,' Mutla. It may be useful to-morrow in
killing snakes." Some, like the venomous mamba, are nine feet long.
Mutla watched Petrus as he skillfully formed the knob at one end. Then,
aiming it at an imaginary beast far off among the trees, Petrus sent it
spinning over and over through the air with a twirling motion, until it
fell with a crash that reverberated throughout the forest. Instantly
the whole forest was alive. Mutla grew nervous as he watched the dark
forms everywhere mysteriously moving through the trees.

"Keep your gun ready, Mutla," advised Petrus.

"That I will, Baas," promptly answered the black boy.

After their night's rest, the ponies made good time early next morning,
climbing the ascending jagged roads. The path dropped at times into
deep mountain valleys, then rose to greater heights until at last they
reached the famous "De Beer's Pass,"--which led across the lofty peaks
of the "Dragon Mountains,"[17] to the Natal side. Only after hours of
difficult scaling did the riders succeed in reaching this commanding
ledge, from which they obtained their first view of "fair Natal,"
stretching far below in all its beauty.

More and more lonely and wild became the road as the descent was begun.
Strange they had not overtaken Dirk yet. But they might at any moment.
Gaunt crags rose all about them. From the trees overhead there came
a flapping, hissing, struggling noise. Mutla gasped and uttered a
shriek, as swooping savagely down upon him from its lofty nest was an
immense eagle of the "man-eating" species. Its wings must have measured
six feet from tip to tip. One blow from Petrus' knob-kerrie sent the
"man-eater" flying from his prey.

"You have had a narrow escape, Mutla," said Petrus, springing into
the saddle, as a great peal of thunder sounded and the sky darkened
suddenly. Scarcely could they get into their rain-coats before the
storm broke. First one, then the other of the ponies, slipped on
the soft, wet ground, but quickly recovered themselves. The ponies
continued to lose their footing as they made the irregular, uncertain
descending slopes, often passing by dangerous ledges, dongas and pools.
So dark had it grown they could not see their pony's ears in front of
them.

"Follow me, my master, you're going wrong," came Mutla's caution now
and then, as they traveled on through the blackness.

Late in the afternoon the storm ceased and the sun shone dimly. The
dripping boys wondered where they were, and how far they had traveled,
when a lone rider passed them and--to their delight--told them they
were among the monarch trees at the base of the mountain. He pointed
the way to the nearest human habitation, the hut of a kind Kafir
missionary where they could have supper and pass the night.

Petrus was glad to learn that the kind Kafir was a very intelligent but
aged missionary who spoke the Zulu language. He lighted a fire for them
to dry themselves, while Petrus related to him the events of the day
and why he had undertaken so dangerous a journey.

"In search of the little English boy? The Natal papers are full of
descriptions of the Zulu, the offer of the reward, etc. Only yesterday
just such a powerfully built Zulu, dragging a little lame white boy by
the hand, came begging food at my door. When I began to question him
he left suddenly, but not before I learned from him that he was on his
way to Durban."

"Oh! That must have been Dirk! The boy must have been George!" cried
Petrus, with sparkling eyes. "Mutla, up-saddle the ponies at once! We
have no time to lose!"

"No, wait until morning. Your ponies are tired. The road from here to
Durban is a rough one at best. Even the bravest would not be foolhardy
enough to undertake it by night," insisted the old missionary.

"You are right. We will sleep to-night. In the early morning, long
before you are up, we will be far on our way. Good-night, and thank you
for all your kindness," said Petrus, handing the kind Kafir a sovereign
to aid him in his work.

"Then 'good-night,' my boy, I wish you success and God-speed."

FOOTNOTES:

[16] Master.

[17] Drakensberg.



CHAPTER IX

A ZULU WAR-DANCE


It was a glorious December morning. Petrus and Mutla were again in
their saddles. Ladysmith and a near-by ostrich farm were soon left far
behind. Then they forded the historic Tugela, which barely came up to
their ponies' knees.

They made good play at a swinging gallop, threading their way in and
out through Natal's tree-covered hills.

The country through which they were hastening was of indescribable
beauty--a veritable fairyland with its rushing streams, beautiful
forests of sweet-scented evergreens, graceful palm-trees and masses of
strange and beautiful wildflowers.

Petrus and Mutla were in the land of the black man, from the
melancholy-faced Hindoo cooly to the blackest of black Zulus.

Gliding nimbly in and out through the bushes, or creeping slyly up in
the tall grass, were bunches of swift-footed Zulus. Petrus shuddered,
and closely scanned each black face for Dirk's. Thousands of their
beehive-like kraals were thickly scattered over every hillside they
were passing.

"Look out for Dirk, Mutla. We may pass him on the road at any moment,"
sternly cautioned Petrus, as they hastened on through Natal's tropical
valleys and uplands.

They paused at Pietermaritzburg. There the papers were full of the
story and the offer of the large reward, but no trace of the stolen
boy. Realizing that Durban must be reached at once, if Dirk was to be
overtaken, they changed their pace into an easy gallop and dashed on
their way towards the coast, past many large banana and sugar-cane
plantations. A cooling breeze was brushing the hillsides, for it had
rained hard during the night.

[Illustration: "PILING GREAT BEAMS OF WOOD IN ORDERLY ROWS ON THE
WHARF"]

It was only about noon when they reached Natal's beautiful seaport--the
"Pearl of South African Cities," as Durban has been called. Petrus made
straight for the land-locked harbor. Above--on one of these beautiful
terraced hillsides overlooking the Indian Ocean--he could see the
handsome residences of the Berea, where dwelt Durban's prosperous
business men.

"Dirk would neither be working there, nor as a jinrickshaw-boy in the
busy streets of the town," thought Petrus, as they hurried on to the
docks. There he found hundreds of powerfully built, broad-chested,
coal-black Zulus, all hard at work piling great beams of wood in
orderly rows on the wharf. They sang as they worked. Petrus scrutinized
every ebony face but saw no little white boy among them.

"Look close, Mutla. Dirk worked here on this dock once. He may be here
now."

Just at that moment a gust of wind sent a Durban morning paper
fluttering against Ferus' feet. Dropping quickly to the ground, Petrus
caught it before it was gone.

"Mutla!" he exclaimed excitedly. "Quick, Mutla! We're going to
Zululand! We can reach there before dark if we try. The paper says
that Dirk was seen working here on this dock late yesterday afternoon,
and that he suddenly disappeared with the boy in the direction of the
swamps of Saint Lucia Bay, where many are following him. But Dirk will
never go that far. He will turn aside and make straight for his kraal
at Ekowe. Come! We'll get George yet!"

Petrus hastily sent the following telegram to Lieutenant Wortley:

    "Am safe. Shall reach Dirk's kraal at Ekowe, in Zululand,
    before night. Hope to start home with George by morning.

                                                    PETRUS."

The heart of Zululand was but a few hours away. With a word to Ferus,
and a spur-thrust to Mutla's brown pony, they dashed forward at a
swinging pace. Ahead of them, as they topped each rise, rose the
romantic hills of Zululand--the clear atmosphere making them plainly
visible. Through the trees on their right every now and then they got
blue glimpses of the Indian Ocean.

Once Ferus swerved and trembled violently. There--lying coiled up in a
ring in the center of the road--Petrus saw a great hooded Cobra, the
largest and most deadly of South African reptiles. Ferus was leaping in
terror. Before Petrus could rein him in, the viper rose on its tail,
hissed, and made two strikes at Ferus' feet, then escaped through the
grass into a hole at the root of an old tree.

On they sped through the beautiful coast forests. Every now and then
bunches of dark-eyed, woolly-pated, naked Zulus, with skin carosses
thrown over one shoulder, appeared and as suddenly disappeared. No
sooty face missed Petrus' quick eye. Once he heard the shouting and
laughter of a group of good-natured young Zulus ahead of him. With
glistening bodies they were emerging from the clear waters of a spruit
into which they had just plunged themselves. Presently, from out the
bush on his left, there stole a huge coal-black lone Zulu carrying an
iron-tipped assegai. Instantly Petrus' rifle was at his shoulder. But
it was not Dirk.

In the gathering dusk the roadway was becoming full of dangerous turns
and slopes. Ferus never made a false step. Over many a bridge the
ponies clattered on their way. At last they were in Zululand, once the
land of "Chief Chaka," and of powerful "Ketchwayo," whose warriors
proudly called him "Strong Mighty Elephant." It was in Zululand that
Empress Eugénie's son, the Prince Imperial, had been slain by the
fierce blacks.

The glare of the setting sun was behind them as they turned in the
direction of the famous Zulu military kraals of Ekowe. Cutting through
the undergrowth of rank luxuriance, they went at top speed. Often the
Zulu grass met above their ponies' ears. Presently they emerged into
a more open, grassy space where they passed a half-wild herd of Zulu
cattle contentedly feeding. They were beautiful little creatures.

"Mutla, we must be very near the Ekowe kraals!" excitedly exclaimed
Petrus, "otherwise this herd of Zulu cattle would hardly be grazing
here! Look out for Dirk!"

They had gone but a short distance farther when three mounted Zulus
with strings of birds around their necks, rode slowly up, glared at
them and passed on their way. In a little while their ears caught
the sound of girls' chattering voices. Then a group of dusky Zulu
beauties, scantily clad in skins and beads, strolled across their
path and disappeared. Soon they passed whole troops of cunning little
black urchins laughing and playing together. Petrus slackened his pace
somewhat. One little group stopped to stare in wide-eyed wonder at the
white riders. Then one little naked savage came running directly up to
the ponies in the most friendly fashion.

A quick low whistle brought Ferus to a full stop. She patted the pony
affectionately, and, smiling up to Petrus, chattered something to him
in Zulu, which was equivalent to: "How do you do, great white Chief?"

Petrus handed the youngster a sixpence and asked: "Dirk? Where's Dirk?"

"Dirk? Want Dirk?" repeated the friendly child, with a brightening look
and quick nod of recognition of the name. "Dirk there--kraals!" she
gladly explained, pointing down the road, then ran laughingly back to
her companions with the sixpence.

"Oh, Mutla! Dirk surely must be here! Keep in the shadow of the trees.
Everything depends upon our not being seen."

"Yes, Baas," answered Mutla somewhat nervously, as they began to wend
their way through the city of two hundred or more armed kraals arranged
in several great circles--one lying within the other like so many great
garlands spread over the grass. Shields and spears were everywhere
stuck into the thatch of the numerous large beehive-like huts made of
wattles or poles, the upper ends of which were bent over and lashed
together with a strong vine called "monkey-rope." The lower ends were
firmly fastened into the ground. They had indeed reached the far-famed
Zulu military kraals of Ekowe, where dwelt the garrison of the King's
army. But for a pack of yelping, barking dogs, which dashed viciously
out at the pony's heels, all seemed silent and deserted.

"Turn back among the trees!" commanded Petrus. "We must get out of
here quickly!" The ground under the trees into which they had abruptly
turned for shelter was literally covered with strange trophies of Zulu
prowess with wild beasts--leopards' skulls, Rhino horns, lions' teeth
and claws, jackals' tails and skins, ostriches' eggs and feathers, with
great heaps of bones and broken assegais. An array of game was hanging
from the trees.

Suddenly the sound of hundreds of voices reached them from far in the
distance.

"Listen, Mutla! The sound comes from the direction of that great open
plateau, far across there. What can it all be about?" exclaimed Petrus,
whose heart was filled with new hope. Cautiously emerging to the
edge of the woods, they beheld a scene to make one's blood run cold.
There--far across on the opposite plateau--charging in a frenzy of
excitement, brandishing their battle-axes and assegais, yelling and
whirling their knob-kerries, was the whole garrison of mounted Zulus.
As Petrus and Mutla watched, their yells broke forth into their ancient
"war-song" to which Ketchwayo's victorious armies had marched.

[Illustration: "THE WHOLE YELLING MASS MADE ANOTHER WILD CHARGE"]

"Mutla, they surely can't be on the warpath! It must be an imaginary
battle they are fighting. We must slip up closer and closer, keeping
well out of sight ourselves, but where we can see if Dirk is among
them. It will soon be too dark to see. Look well, Mutla!"

"Master afraid?" questioned the paling Kafir.

"Afraid, Mutla? Why should we be afraid? Are we not both well armed?"
answered the Boer boy, as they crept closer and closer, taking
advantage of every tree and wooded knoll to conceal their approach.
Soon they were within forty yards, and evidently unobserved. The
warriors' ox-hide shields and high-poised assegais gleamed in the
setting sun, as, stamping the earth furiously, the whole yelling mass
made another wild charge. Petrus kept his hand on his rifle and a
bullet in his mouth. The Zulu's eyes blazed.

"Oh, Mutla, look! Look quick! The big Zulu there is Dirk! And,
Mutla, that little bit of a lame boy in the midst of the 'war dance'
is--GEORGE! It's GEORGE! Look! Dirk banged him over the head with his
shield. He's crying. Oh, if only we could let him know in some way that
we are here. He's looking this way! I am going to wave my hat! Quick,
Mutla, wave to him! There, he saw us! He waved his arm to me! He's
smiling now. See him?" Petrus wanted to shout for joy.

"Yes, Master. But how dare we get him away from Dirk?"

"To-night, when Dirk is fast asleep, George will come to this very
tree where he saw us. We can't remain here. It's too exposed. But he
will find this note. I'll stick it right through a high tree-branch
here--where he'll be sure to see it. I'll make it so big that he can't
miss it. There now. Quick! Let us make our escape back among the trees,
Mutla!"

Scarcely had Mutla followed Petrus back out of sight than the entire
shrieking, savage regiment swept down over the very spot where, but a
moment before, their ponies had been standing.

"Dirk didn't see us, Mutla. He didn't look this way at all. But I saw
George look right at the big note up on the tree. He'll come."

Long was the night. At last Petrus thought he heard the joyful sound of
two or three swiftly running steps behind him. Petrus listened again,
but he was not certain, when--"Petrus! Petrus!" he heard close behind
him.

Springing from Ferus, Petrus turned to search for the voice.

"George! George!" he cried softly in joy, as a little lame boy came
limping out from behind a big tree and bounded forward into his arms.

"Petrus! Take me home! Take me home!" he cried. "Quick, before Dirk
comes! Dirk tried to make a Zulu of me, Petrus, and--"

A great rushing sound of wheels drowned the rest of George's sentence.
It was a large motor-car--for even in far-off Africa they have
automobiles--with two armed passengers, which swung directly up to them
and halted.

"Oh, DADDY! FATHER! FATHER!" cried George, throwing himself into his
father's arms.

"GEORGE! GEORGE! my precious boy!" cried the lieutenant, seizing his
child with a look of great joy. "Here, Petrus, jump into the car beside
Hercules. You have won George's and my everlasting gratitude. Mutla,
take this money and bring the ponies home by freight. Good-by. We're
off for home!"

"Good-by, Mutla, and thank you for coming with me," called back Petrus,
as the big car whirled out of sight.



CHAPTER X

PETRUS THE HERO


It was on the afternoon of New Year's Day--the day of Magdalena's
wedding--that they reached home. It was one of those bright midsummer
afternoons for which the Transvaal is famous. From the windows and
doors of "Weltefreden" soft lights glowed, and the merry strains of
fiddles and an accordion reached the ears of Lieutenant Wortley,
Petrus, and a happy little English boy sitting between them, as the big
car whirred up to the old farmhouse stoop.

The long row of saddles against the red brick wall told of the large
number of gayly decked riders who had already arrived--many of whom
were standing in groups outside, shaking hands, drinking coffee and
discussing Petrus' heroism, as they watched the unloading of Cape
carts, wagonettes, spiders, horse and ox-wagons full of Dutch vrouws
and children, whose bright dresses flashed gayly in the sunlight.

Every now and then the crack of a whip announced the arrival of Boer
families of greater means, in conveyances ostentatiously drawn by four,
six, or even eight horses, according to their wealth. The men-folks, in
tight patent-leather oxfords, courteously helped their showily dressed
vrouws and daughters to alight, while Hottentot nurses took care of the
blond little girls in bright prints, and their little brothers in new
mole-skins. Hercules had already arrived. He had hastened on by train,
when the lieutenant had paused at Ladysmith to consult a doctor about
George's lame foot.

"Oh, there's Aunt Kotie's motor!" exclaimed Petrus, as he and George
bounded into the big house--Petrus straight into Aunt Johanna's
outstretched arms, while George rushed to his Aunt Edith, who nearly
smothered him with hugs and kisses.

"Petrus is home! PETRUS IS HOME!" flew from one to another until the
whole gathering had heard the good news. All knew he had won the
"reward," for Aunt Kotie had brought the latest Johannesburg paper
giving the full account. All had been thrilled by the story of his
daring rescue of George. Now that he was safely home again, every one
present crowded about to shake hands with their young hero. Scarcely
had the blushing boy recovered from this ovation when he found himself
enveloped in the arms of the happy bride who, with Hercules, had just
returned from the church.

Then Lieutenant Wortley spoke:

"As you all know, our brave Petrus has won the reward offered for
George's rescue. The amount has been on deposit in gold in the
National Bank of South Africa as advertised. Let me therefore take
this opportunity of making good my promise--here before this gathering
of his friends and relatives--by now writing out for Petrus an order on
the National Bank of South Africa for the five hundred pounds he has so
well won.

"Much as I rejoice at the finding of my own little boy, Petrus is the
real hero, and I want to express the overwhelming sense of gratitude
which both George and I feel towards this brave young lad.

"Petrus, there is no one we would rather have had win this reward than
you--especially as it is to be the means of your some day coming to
England to take your college course at Oxford with George.

"We return to England at once. My country needs my services at the
front. But in the years to come there will never be a more welcome
visitor at our old home in London than our daring little Boer friend
from 'Weltefreden.'"

"Good-by, Lieutenant Wortley! Good-by, George dear!" stammered
Petrus--his eyes sparkling and his sun-burnt cheeks aglow with pride,
as, waving a last farewell to the English friends he had grown to
love, he dashed from the room amid a great clapping of hands and more
congratulations.

He was glad to make his escape up to his own little room--to think. He
had so much to think about. Oh, everything was possible now! Mutla's
poor sick brother should be saved from death in the Kimberley diamond
mines at once. And, as for his own great trip over the new "Cape to
Cairo" road? Why, yes! He could now take Aunt Johanna and the whole
family with him. Then there was London! His college course at Oxford,
England, and, best of all, he would again see George! Wonderful dreams
for the future thronged the mind of our little Boer cousin as he gazed
from his window towards the star-lit heavens in the midst of which
burned the Southern Cross.


THE END



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Transcriber's Notes:

Page 89, "motely" changed to "motley" (and motley crowd of)

Page 98, "childern" changed to "children" (children swarmed about)

Page 107, "led-horse" changed to "lead-horse" (of the lead-horse he)

Page 123, "as" changed to "at" (Just at that moment)





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