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A South-african Adventure

A South-african Adventure image
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It was on the aftornoon of one of the hottest days of an African suminer, that I left my 'farm to ascend the Draakensburg Mountains, for the puipose offinding if possible, an elund--a species of antelope - to repleuish my larder for the coming Christmas. I was at the time living alone in a glen forraed by two spurs of the mountain, with but a few neighbor, and no towa witbin lii'ty niiles ; but, as ïny Kaffres had beoome suffieiently civilized to understaiid that Christmas-time meantjjunlimited eating, I wished, by providing game, to save au ox. I had only rivo or six miles to go, and was well uiounted ; so I did not huvry, but leading my horse up tliu défp pass, roached the place where 1 in tended to sleep just as the sun was setting. The scène ftround, though quitu difforentfiom oar ideas of what it sliouid be iu Deot-mbur, was veiy beauliful. Tuciu was no snow, no leaiiess 1rees with theii dejieate tracery set off by the glrttering hoar-frost, nor dark-green firs glitterine ander white load; but stiü there whs cnougb to keep me standing, fovgetful of tire-wood and all I had to do for my eomiort during the night. I wis un a uitrow led ge oi reek, soparated frnnj tiie network ot billa beyund liy a deip, perpeudioulfir gorge, ut th bot: om of which, io far down timt I could haidly dislinguish it, rail a little burn. Tbè BBtting sun frave Ürn peaks tbat rit I) ptirple bae seldom seen way froui heiltlier ; and on the other 8Íde, i. far is the eye coul'l reach. lay the covered íluts and hills ot Natl. Undsr iho rock was a iargecave, where I had detenuincd to sloep. It had in oldeq times been a regular rcsoi t of tbe Bushmen, but few came uear it now - indeed, I lmd nut known they camo at ■.til, but, on going ín, 1 ibund some calaba8bes and the oahea of n iiewly-uittde tire, which could only have been lot't l,y theni. Tbere were othei niaiks on the walls, thougb cvidnitly of great antiquity ; rudo sketches and ïrawingsof horses, Buttle, bows and anovvs. and even of B Buibmau riding. It is most curious tbat a race so luw down in the scalfi of liumanity tbat theirlangungo only contains :t ï ;v woids made uj) ui unprohouneeablcclieks, and wlio, with the exoeption of the nso of fire, in their mode of Ui'e differ but little trom tbs ape, should have learned to do this. It may be that it is u reinnant of a.n old sigrn-language, or the last relio of some fonunr civilization. It was a full moon, and, after admiring the wonderful lightsand shadovvs thrown by it on the broken ground, 1 turned in and slept till near daylight. As soon as I could see I started to hunt. Much to my annoyance ut the time, tüough I had aiterward cause to be thankful that my horse was spared such a trallop as riding down and eland en tails, I could find nothing, and couid toll by the spoors that no herd had been about for some duys. It was nearly noon before I becarae convinced of' this ; and tempted by the shade of a line of firtrees edging a little brook wliose imbble sounded refreshingly atnid tho great heat, I look my saddlo off, kneel-hiltered Prince, and lay down. Of -.ourse, I soon dozed off, but became awake afrain in about a couple of hours- I say " bocarae awake," because it was not the natural rousing up of a person who hus been aslecp, but a suddcn return to consciousness, without any movement, and with all my wits about uie, and that in ward feeling which perhaps soma oí my readers raay have experienced, of something being wrong, and a tensión of all the powers of hearing to discover what it is. I had not longto walt; whiz carne a tiny arrow, striking the stouo on which my hoad had been resting, and wh(re my cap still was. It did not require much thinking to know that a Bushman's hand held tho bow it had come from, nor to di'terniino that tho safust t'uing to do was to roll quietly into the bed of the little brook below mn. Luckily, tb is would afford good shelter, and I could almost reach tho edge with my hand. The trcmendons viok-nce with which these streams come down from tho hill:during th heavy thunder-storms wears a deop passage in the hardest ground ; and, though there was only about an inch o) watoi, and it was not a yard broad, the banks wore to the tull tour toet Dign. LeaVing niy cap where it was, I rollud over as qnickly as 1 could ; hut, just as I was disappearinfr, another arrow came and struck me in the thigh, the only part not yet in safety. It took uil my selfcontrol to continue my movemcnts as before until I stiod crouching at tlie hot tom. "Why," the reader may exolaim, " tbe pain of such a tiny arrow could not be verygrcat!" No, neithcr is the bite of a siiake in itself; yet of the two the latU'r is the least to bc dreaded. It was, of course, poisoued with that deadly skill for which the wbolo tribe ia famous ; and, as I stood below, 1 knew I had littlo chanco of seeing another sun-rise. Hovvcvcr, with that self-help that uien who lead a solitaiy lite Boquire, I instinctly drew my hunting-knife, ripped üp the trousers, and with a steady hand cut out the arrow-hcad, not sparing niyself. I then took my rl;isk and poured powder into the wound, and, gently strikiuj a matoh, set lire to it. That done. I took off n,y bult, and, Olittg my full foi-ce, Btrappad it a little above, is tiglit as it woula go. I do not think that in doing all this I had auy hope of saving my lifo ; there wasonly a sort of teeling that I was doing my duty. The pain was not vcry great, and my ohief thought was for vengoance on the niulignant creature that I looked upon as my murdeier. I rightly imagined hf) was not aware of his success. No doubt, he had thought he had missed me, and that I was still lying asleep- in proof of that I soon heard the whiz ot anothor arrow strikiag above. Hoving down about a yard to where the overhanging ferm would conceal me, I quietly raised my head ; the ground was quite rising, and I coald seo around for some distauce. There was my horse uuconBoioualy graaing away, but the grasa was too lona: for me to see the enemy's abouts. I, however, guessed that he would try und get between us; and so I waitpd, watching, and grasping my rifle. Ten minutes passed in sileuce, and then I fancied that the grass was ïuoving unnaturally. In another second a hand and bow appeared ; 1 heard a little twang, and saw the tiny messenger of death again pierce the spot where 1 had been. I kept mysfilf trom Uring, though I covorod the place. Surely, he would become imvjatient and give me a better uhance. Another ten minutes, and in a different spot, which commanded a better view of in y cap, a little black head peered over tho gr.iss. It was enough ; and, as I fired, a shrill shriek and a Bpasniorlio spring into the air told me that I had nothing more to fear. Getting out as quickly as possible, I dnigged mysclf- tor the leg was now much swollen, and becoming more and more painful - to my saddle, where I carried in a little bottle sorne eau de luce for snake-bitcs, itnd poured out a large dose. After drinking it, I caught my horse, saddlcd it, and, pieking up two of i the arrows, went to have a look at the dead Bushman. He was scarcely over 4 feet high, with anus so loug aud thin as to reaeh deformity, short and bow-kneed legs Bupporüng a little round body - he had evidently not been stftrving lately - and features so closoly resembling thoso of an intelligent ape that, had there been a tail, no one would have thought twice about the matter. I did not reiuain long ; there was no time to lose; so, taking hia bow, I luounted, and, putting the horse at his bost pace, started on my long ride. I knew ijerfectly well that the unly chance, such as it was, of saving my life depended on my reaching Ladysinith that , and obtain medical assistance. The disuince was fully sixty miles, and with lut one exception, there was nothing but Duteh boas' houses on the road, v, ivnce I could not hope tbr any help. For the iiist tweuty titiles I kept steadily on-my waf, though the agony was dread'ul, and I could haidly sit my hoi'se. I lu-n reachüd an Euglishmnn's farm, julled up, told my story, and asked for ,irits to kft-p my streuctn, and the loan A ;i fresh horse. "i shall not easily t'orget lia vvife a scared look as she carne out md saw me by the lifrUt of the flickering iaiidle. I suppose 1 must have seemed lall niad. They brought me out & full oltle of whisky and a tumbler, whioh I filled and off neat ; but they had not got a horso " up." They were, he Bttid, all running, and it would take houra lo fiud them. So I strtfted again. I do not roinember much more of that wild, inooulit ride; I became diowsy and heit' dulirious, just retaiui::g strength enougb to go straight. How I did it I do uot know, as lor the greater purt of the ivy there was no load, and even in daylight and with notliing the matter, I sliould have licsitated in more than one place. However, Piovidence or instinct gillded me right ; and, asi was afterwarda told - tor I rameuiber nothing about it - 1 reachéd the town at one A. jj.t - just eleven hours after I had left. I had finished the whisky on the road, and it was to that tbe doctor L.scribed iny ultimare rccovi-ry. For nine days I w:is in a hiffb fever and delirious, and it was move than six weeks befure I gotupj and t'or years aiterward the wound did not heal. Even to the present day it occasionally bureta out a fresh, and will probably continue to do so to the end of iny existeuoe. - Chamberí Journal.


Old News
Michigan Argus