"I had a letter just before I set out from England, stating that the Zoolu tribes, to the northward of the Caffres, are in an unquiet state; and as you must pass near to these tribes on your journey, I am anxious to know the truth. At all events, Chaka is dead; he was murdered about two years back by his own relations."
"Who was Chaka?" inquired Alexander.
"That I have yet to tell you; at present we have only got as far as the Caffres, who are immediately on our frontiers."
The wind continued fair, and the vessel rapidly approached the Cape. Alexander, who had contracted a great friendship for Mr. Swinton, had made known to him the cause of his intended journey into the interior, and the latter volunteered, if his company would not be displeasing, to accompany Alexander on his tedious and somewhat perilous expedition.
Alexander gladly accepted the offer, and requested Mr. Swinton would put himself to no expense, as he had unlimited command of money from his grand-uncle, and Mr. Swinton's joining the caravan would make no difference in his arrangements.
After it had been agreed that they should travel together, the continued subject of discourse and discussion was the nature of the outfit, the number of wagons, their equipment, the stores, the number of horses and oxen which should he provided; and they were busy every day adding to their memoranda as to what it would be advisable to procure for their journey.
Mr. Fairburn often joined in the discussion, and gave his advice, but told them that, when they arrived at Cape Town, he might be more useful to them. Alexander, who, as we have before observed, was a keen hunter, and very partial to horses and dogs, promised himself much pleasure in the chase of the wild animals on their journey, and congratulated himself upon being so well provided with guns and rifles, which he had brought with him, more with the idea that they might be required for self-defense than for sport.
At last, "Land, ho!" was cried out by the man who was at the mast-head in the morning watch, and soon afterward, the flat top of Table Mountain was distinctly visible from the deck. The Surprise, running before a fresh breeze, soon neared the land, so that the objects on it might be perceived with a glass. At noon they were well in for the bay, and before three o'clock the Surprise was brought to an anchor between two other merchant vessels, which were filling up their home cargoes.
After a three months' voyage, passengers are rather anxious to get on shore; and therefore before night all were landed, and Alexander found himself comfortably domiciled in one of the best houses in Cape Town; for Mr. Fairburn had, during the passage, requested Alexander to take up his abode with him.
Tired with the excitement of the day, he was not sorry to go to bed early, and he did not forget to return his thanks to Him who had preserved him through the perils of the voyage.
The next morning Mr. Fairburn said to Alexander—
"Mr. Wilmot, I should recommend you for the first ten days to think nothing about your journey. Amuse yourself with seeing the public gardens, and other things worthy of inspection; or, if it pleases you, you can make the ascent of Table Mountain with your friend Swinton. At all events, do just as you please; you will find my people attentive, and ready to obey your orders. You know the hours of meals; consider yourself at home, and as much master here as I am. As you may well imagine, after so long an absence, I have much to attend to in my official capacity, and I think it will be a week or ten days before I shall be comfortably reseated in my office, and have things going on smoothly, as they ought to do. You must therefore excuse me if I am not quite so attentive a host at first as I should wish to be. One thing only I recommend you to do at present, which is, to accompany me this afternoon to Government-house, that I may introduce you to the governor. It is just as well to get over that mark of respect which is due to him, and then you will be your own master."
Alexander replied with many thanks. He was graciously received by the governor, who promised him every assistance in his power in the prosecution of his journey. Having received an invitation for dinner on the following day, Alexander bowed and took his leave in company with Mr. Fairburn.
On the following day Alexander was visited by Mr. Swinton. Mr. Swinton was accompanied by a major in the Bengal Cavalry, whom he introduced as Major Henderson. He had arrived a few days before from Calcutta, having obtained leave of absence for the recovery of his health, after a smart jungle-fever, which had nearly proved fatal. The voyage, however, had completely reinstated him, and he appeared full of life and spirits. They walked together to the Company's gardens, in which were a few lions, and some other Cape animals, and the discourse naturally turned upon them. Major Henderson described the hunting in India, especially the tiger-hunting on elephants, to which he was very partial; and Alexander soon discovered that he was talking to one who was passionately fond of the sport. After a long conversation they parted, mutually pleased with each other. A day or two afterward, Mr. Swinton, who had been talking about their intended journey with Alexander, said to him:—
"You must not be surprised at the off-hand and unceremonious way we have in the colonies. People meeting abroad, even Englishmen occasionally, throw aside much ceremony. I mention this, because Major Henderson intends to call this afternoon, and propose joining our party into the interior. I do not know much of him, but I have heard much said in his favor, and it is easy to see by his manners and address that he is a gentleman. Of course, when he stated his intention, I could do nothing but refer him to you, which I did. What do you think, Wilmot?"
"I think very well of Major Henderson, and I consider that, as the journey must be one of some peril, the more Europeans the better, especially when we can find one who is used to danger from his profession, and also to dangerous hunting, which we must also expect. So far from not wishing him to join us, I consider him a most valuable acquisition, and am delighted at the idea."
"Well, I am glad to hear you say so, for I agree with you. He is hunting mad, that is certain, and I hear, a most remarkable shot. I think with you he will be an acquisition. It appears that it was his intention to have gone into the interior, even if he went by himself; and he has two Arab horses which he brought with him from India with that view."
"If you see him before he comes, you may say that you have stated his wishes to me, and that I am quite delighted at his joining our party,—it being perfectly understood that he is at no expense for any thing connected with the outfit."
"I will tell him so," replied Swinton; "and I think the sooner we begin to collect what is necessary the better. We must have Major Henderson in our councils. Depend upon it, he will be very useful and very active; so, for the present, farewell."
Mr. Swinton and Major Henderson called together that afternoon, and the latter, as soon as he was admitted into the party, began to talk over the plans and preparations.
"My suite is not very large," said he; "I have two horses and two dogs, a Parsee servant, and a Cape baboon. I should like to take the latter with us as well as my servant. My servant, because he is a good cook; and my monkey, because, if we are hard put to it, she will show us what we may eat and what we may not; there is no taster like a monkey. Besides, she is young and full of tricks, and I like something to amuse me."
"The baboons have another good quality: they give notice of danger sooner than a dog," observed Swinton. "I think, Wilmot, we must admit the monkey into the party."
"I shall be most happy," replied Alexander, laughing; "pray give her my compliments, Major Henderson, and say how happy I shall be."
"I call her Begum," said Major Henderson; "because she is so like the old Begum princess whom I was once attending, when in India with my troop, as guard of honor. You must look out for some good horses, Mr. Wilmot; you will want a great many, and if you do not wish them to have sore backs, don't let the Hottentots ride them."
"We have been discussing the point, Major Henderson, as to whether it will not be better to go round in a vessel to Algoa Bay, complete our equipment there, and make that our starting place."
"If you do, you will save a long journey by land, and find yourself not very far from what I understand are the best of hunting-grounds, near to the country of the Vaal River."
The topics then dwelt upon were what articles they should procure in Cape Town, and what they should defer providing themselves with until their arrival at Algoa Bay. They agreed to provide all their stores at Cape Town, and as many good horses as they could select; but the wagons and oxen, and the hiring of Hottentots, they put off until they arrived at Algoa Bay.
Mr. Fairburn was now more at leisure, and Alexander had more of his society. One evening after dinner Mr. Fairburn had opened a map of the country, to give Alexander some information relative to his projected journey. He pointed out to him the track which appeared most advisable through the Caffre country, and then observed that it was difficult to give any advice as to his proceedings after he had passed this country, governed by Hinza, as every thing would depend upon circumstances.
"Do you know any thing of the country beyond?"
"Not much; we know that it was overrun by the Zoolus, the tribe of which Chaka was the chief; and last year our troops went to the assistance of the Caffres, who were attacked by another tribe from the northward, called the Mantatees. These were dispersed by our troops with immense slaughter. The Zoolu country, you perceive, is on the east side of the great chain of mountains, and to the northward of Port Natal. The Mantatees came from the west side of the mountains, in about the same parallel of latitude. It is impossible to say what may be going on at present, or what may take place before you arrive at your destination, as these northern irruptions are continual."
"You promised me the history of that person, Chaka."
"You shall have it now: he was the king of the Zoolu nation—I hardly know what to call him. He was the Nero and the Napoleon of Africa; a monster in cruelty and crime, yet a great warrior and conqueror. He commenced his career by murdering his relatives to obtain the sovereignty. As soon as he had succeeded, he murdered all those whom he thought inimical to him, and who had been friends to his relatives."
"But are the Zoolus Caffres?"
"No; but there are many races to the northward which we consider as Caffre races. You may have observed, in the history of the world, that the migrations of the human race are generally from the north to the south: so it appears to have been in Africa. Some convulsion among the northern tribes, probably a pressure from excessive population, had driven the Zoolus to the southward, and they came down like an inundation, sweeping before them all the tribes that fell in their path. Chaka's force consisted of nearly 100,000 warriors, of whom 15,000 were always in attendance to execute his orders. In every country which he overran he spared neither age nor sex; it was one indiscriminate slaughter."
"What a monster!"
"He ruled by terror, and it is incredible that his orders met with such implicit obedience. To make his army invincible, he remodeled it, divided it into companies, distinguished by the color of their shields, and forbade them to use any other weapon but a short stabbing-spear, so that they always fought at close quarters. He weeded his army by picking out 1000 of his veteran warriors, who had gained his victories, and putting them to death. Any regiment sent out to battle, if they were defeated, were instantly destroyed on their return; it was, therefore, victory or death with them; and the death was most cruel, being that of impalement. Well he was surnamed 'the Bloody,'"
"His tyranny over his own people was dreadful. On one occasion, a child annoyed him; he ordered it to be killed; but the child ran among seventy or eighty other children, and could not be distinguished, so he ordered the whole to be put to death. He murdered two or three hundred of his wives in one day. At the slightest suspicion he would order out his chiefs to execution, and no one knew when his turn might come. His will was law: every one trembled and obeyed. To enter into a detail of all his cruelties would fill volumes; it will be sufficient to mention the last act of his life. His mother died, and he declared that she had perished by witchcraft. Hundreds and hundreds were impaled, and, at last, tired of these slow proceedings, he ordered out his army to an indiscriminate slaughter over the whole country, which lasted for fourteen days."
"He was a demon who reveled in blood; but his own turn came at last. He was murdered by his brother Dingaam, who knew that he was about to be sacrificed; and thus perished the bloody Chaka. His brother Dingaam is now on the Zoolu throne, and appears inclined to be quiet. There is another great warrior chief named Moselekatsee, who revolted from Chaka, and who is much such another character; but our accounts of these people are vague at present, and require time to corroborate their correctness. You will have to act and decide when you arrive there, and must be guided by circumstances. With the caravan you propose to travel with, I think there will not be much danger; and if there is, you must retreat. The favor of these despots is easily to be obtained by judicious presents, which of course you will not be unprovided with. I have ordered your letters to the authorities to be made out, and you will have the governor's signature to them. When do you propose to, start?"
"We shall be ready in a few days, and have only to find a vessel going to Algoa Bay."
"You will be asked to take charge of several articles which are to be sent to the missionary station which you will pass on your way. I presume you have no objection?"
"Certainly not; they deserve every encouragement, and any kindness and attention I can show them will give me great pleasure."
Alexander received many proposals from different parties who wished to join the expedition, but they were all civilly declined. In a few days a vessel arrived, which was about to go round to the settlement at Algoa Bay. Their stores, horses, and dogs, not forgetting Begum the baboon, were all embarked, and, taking leave of Mr. Fairburn and the governor, Alexander, Major Henderson, and Mr. Swinton embarked, and on the evening of the fourth day found themselves safe at anchor in company with ten or twelve vessels which were lying in Algoa Bay.
The vessels which lay at anchor in Algoa Bay had just arrived from England, with a numerous collection of emigrants, who, to improve their fortunes, had left their native land to settle in this country. Many had landed, but the greater proportion were still on board of the vessels. The debarkation was rapidly going on, and the whole bay was covered with boats landing with people and stores, or returning for more. The wind blowing from the westward, there was no surf on the beach; the sun was bright and warm, and the scene was busy and interesting; but night came on, and the panorama was closed in.
Alexander and his companions remained on the deck of their vessel till an undisturbed silence reigned where but an hour or two before all was noise and bustle. The stars, so beautiful in the southern climes, shone out in cloudless brilliancy; the waters of the bay were smooth as glass, and reflected them so clearly that they might have fancied that there was a heaven beneath as well as above them. The land presented a dark opaque mass, the mountains in the distance appearing as if they were close to them, and rising precipitately from the shore. All was of one somber hue, except where the lights in the houses in the town twinkled here and there, announcing that; some had not yet dismissed their worldly cares, and sought repose from the labors of the day. Yet all was silent, except occasionally the barking of a dog, or the voice of the sentry in Fort Frederick, announcing that "all was well."
"What a gathering in a small space of so many people with so many different histories, so many causes for leaving their native land, and with so many different fortunes in store for them, must there be on board of an emigrant ship," observed Mr. Swinton.
"Yet all united in one feeling, and instigated by the same desire,—that of independence, and, if possible, of wealth," rejoined Major Henderson.
"Of that there can be no doubt," said Alexander; "but it must be almost like beginning a new life; so many ties broken by the vast ocean which has separated them; new interests usurping the place of old ones; all novelty and adventure to look forward to; new scenes added to new hopes and new fears; but we must not remain too long even to watch these beautiful heavens, for we must rise at daylight, so I shall set the example, and wish you both good-night."
At daylight on the following morning the long-boat was hoisted out, and the horses safely conveyed on shore. After a hasty breakfast, Alexander and his two companions landed, to see if it were possible to obtain any roof under which they could shelter themselves; but the number of emigrants who had arrived put that out of the question, every house and every bed being engaged. This was a great disappointment, as they had no wish to return on board and reoccupy the confined space which had been allotted to them.
Having found accommodation for their horses, they proceeded to examine the town and resume their search for lodgings. The streets presented a bustling and animated scene; wagons with goods, or returning empty with their long teams of oxen; horses, sheep, and other animals, just landed; loud talking; busy inquirers; running to and fro of men; Hottentots busy with the gods, or smoking their pipes in idle survey; crates and boxes, and packages of all descriptions, mixed up with agricultural implements and ironware, lining each side of the road, upon which were seated wives and daughters watching the property, and children looking round with astonishment, or playing or crying.
Further out of the town were to be seen tents pitched by the emigrants, who had provided themselves with such necessaries before they had quitted England, and who were bivouacking like so many gipsies, independent of lodgings and their attendant expenses, and cooking their own provisions in kettles or frying-pans. As Alexander perceived the latter, he said, "At all events, we have found lodgings now; I never thought of that."
"How do you mean?"
"I have two tents in the luggage I brought from Cape Town; we must get them on shore, and do as these people have done."
"Bravo! I am glad to hear that," replied Major Henderson; "any thing better than remaining on board to be nibbled by the cockroaches. Shall we return at once?"
"By all means," said Mr. Swinton; "we have but to get our mattresses and a few other articles."
"Leave my man to do all that," said the Major; "he is used to it. In India we almost live in tents when up the country. But here comes one that I should know;—Maxwell, I believe?"
"Even so, my dear Henderson," replied the military officer who had been thus addressed; "why, what brought you here?—surely you are not a settler?"
"No; I am here because I am not a settler," replied Henderson, laughing; "I am always on the move; I am merely on my own way with my two friends here to shoot a hippopotamus. Allow me to introduce Mr. Wilmot and Mr. Swinton. But I see you are on duty; are you in the fort?"
"Yes; I came from Somerset about a month back. Can I be of any use to you?"
"That depends upon circumstances; we are now going on board for our tents, to pitch them on the hill there, as we can get no lodgings."
"Well, I can not offer you beds in the fort, but I think if you were to pitch your tents outside the fort, on the glacis, you would be better than on the hill; your baggage would be safer, and I should be more able to render you any attention or assistance you may require."
"An excellent idea; if it were only on account of the baggage," replied Henderson; "we accept your offer with pleasure."
"Well then, get them on shore as quick as you can; my men will soon have them out for you and assist in transporting your luggage; and don't distress yourself about your dinner, I will contrive to have something cooked for you."
"A friend in need is a friend indeed, my good fellow. We will accept your offers as freely as they are made: so farewell for an hour or so."
As they parted with Captain Maxwell, Henderson observed, "That was a lucky meeting, for we shall now get on well. Maxwell is an excellent fellow, and he will be very useful to us in making our purchases, as he knows the people and the country: and our luggage will be safe from all pilferers."
"It is indeed very fortunate," replied Mr. Swinton. "Where did you know Captain Maxwell?"
"In India. We have often been out hunting tigers together. How he would like to be of our party; but that is of course impossible."
"But how shall we manage about our living, Major Henderson?" observed Wilmot; "it will never do to quarter ourselves on your friend."
"Of course not; we should soon eat up his pay and allowance. No, no; we will find dinners, and he will help us to cook them first and eat them afterward."
"Upon such terms, I shall gladly take up my quarters in the fort," replied Alexander. "But which is our boat out of all these?"
"Here, sir," cried out one of the sailors; "come along, my lads," continued he to the other men, who were lounging about, and who all jumped into the boat, which pushed off, and they were soon on board of the ship.
As the master of the vessel was equally glad to get rid of his passengers and their luggage as they were to leave, the utmost expedition was used by all parties, and in a few hours everything was landed, Begum, the baboon, being perched upon the stores conveyed in the last boat. A party of soldiers sent down by Captain Maxwell assisted the seamen to carry the various packages up to the fort, and before the evening closed in, the tents were pitched, their beds made up, and their baggage safely housed, while they were amusing themselves after dining with Captain Maxwell, leaning on the parapet and watching the passing and repassing of the boats which were unlading the vessels.
As there was little chance of rain in the present season, they lay down on their mattresses in perfect security and comfort, and did not wake up the next morning until breakfast was ready. After breakfast they sallied out with Captain Maxwell to look after wagons and oxen, and as, on the arrival of the emigrants, a number of wagons had been sent down to take them to their destinations, Captain Maxwell soon fell in with some of the Dutch boors of the interior with whom he had been acquainted, and who had come down with their wagons; but previous to making any bargains, Alexander went with Captain Maxwell to the landroost, for whom he had brought a letter from the governor.
This gentleman immediately joined the party, and through his intervention, before night, four excellent wagons with their tilts and canvas coverings, and four span of oxen of fourteen each, were bought and promised to be brought down and delivered up in good order, as soon as they had carried up the freights with which they were charged.
As these wagons could not return under four days, the next object that they had in view was to procure some more horses, and here they met with difficulty; for Major Henderson, who, as an excellent judge of horses, was requested to select them, would not accept of many that were offered. Still they had plenty of time, as the wagons would require fitting out previous to their departure, and this would be a work of some days; and many articles which they had decided to procure at Algoa Bay, instead of the Cape, were now to be sought for and selected.
At the time appointed, the wagons and teams were delivered over and paid for. Carpenters were then engaged, and the wagons were fitted out with lockers all round them, divided off to contain the luggage separate, so that they might be able to obtain in a minute any thing that they might require. While this work was proceeding, with the assistance of the landroost, they were engaging Hottentots and other people to join the expedition, some as drivers to the wagons, others as huntsmen, and to perform such duties as might be required of them. Some very steady brave men were selected, but it was impossible to make up the whole force which they wished to take of people of known character; many of them were engaged rather from their appearance, their promises, and the characters they obtained from others or gave themselves, than from any positive knowledge of them. This could not be avoided; and as they had it in their power to dismiss them for bad conduct, it was to be presumed that they could procure others.
It was more than three weeks before every thing was ready for their departure, and then the caravan was composed as follows:—
The persons who belonged to it were our three gentlemen; the servant of Major Henderson; eight drivers of the teams of oxen; twelve Hottentot and other hunters (for some of them were of a mixed race); two Hottentots who had charge of the horses, and two others who had charge of a flock of Cape sheep, which were to follow the caravan, and serve as food until they could procure oxen by purchase or game with their guns: so that the whole force of the party amounted to twenty men: two Hottentot women, wives of the principal men, also accompanied the caravan to wash and assist in cooking.
The animals belonging to the caravan consisted of fifty-six fine oxen, which composed the teams; twelve horses, as Major Henderson could only procure six at Algoa Bay, or they would have purchased more; thirteen dogs of various sizes, and Begum, the baboon, belonging to Captain Henderson: to these were to be added the flock of sheep.
The wagons were fitted out as follows, chiefly under the direction of Major Henderson and Mr. Swinton.
The first wagon, which was called Mr. Wilmot's wagon, was fitted up with boxes or lockers all round, and contained all the stores for their own use, such as tea, sugar, coffee, cheeses, hams, tongues, biscuits, soap, and wax candles, wine and spirits in bottles, besides large rolls of tobacco for the Hottentots or presents, and Alexander's clothes; his mattress lay at the bottom of the wagons, between the lockers. The wagon was covered with a double sail-cloth tilt, and with curtains before and behind; the carpenter's tools were also in one of the lockers of this wagon.
The second wagon was called Mr. Swinton's wagon; it was fitted up with lockers in the same way as the other, but it had also a large chest with a great quantity of drawers for insects, bottles of spirits for animals, and every thing necessary for preserving them; a ream or two of paper for drying plants, and several other articles, more particularly a medicine-chest well filled, for Mr. Swinton was not unacquainted with surgery and physic. The other lockers were filled with a large quantity of glass beads and cutlery for presents, several hundred pounds of bullets, ready cast, and all the kitchen ware and crockery. It had the same covering as the first, and Mr. Swinton's mattress was at night spread in the middle between the lockers.
The third wagon was called the armory, or the Major's wagon; it was not fitted up like the two first. The whole bottom of it was occupied with movable chests, and four large casks of spirits, and the Major made up his bed on the top of the chests. In the chests were gunpowder in bottles and a quantity of small shot for present use; tobacco in large rolls; 1 cwt. of snuff; all the heavy tools, spades, shovels, and axes, and a variety of other useful articles.
The tilt-frame was much stouter than that of the two other wagons, for the hoops met each other so as to make it solid. It was covered with a tarred sail-cloth so as to be quite water-proof, and under the tilt-frame were suspended all the guns, except the two which Alexander and Mr. Swinton retained in their own wagons in case of emergency. The back and front of this wagon were closed with boards, which were let down and pulled up on hinges, so that it was a little fortress in case of need; and as it could be locked up at any time, the Hottentots were not able to get at the casks of spirits without committing a sort of burglary. Begum was tied up in this wagon at night.
The fourth wagon was called the store wagon, and contained several articles which were not immediately wanted; such as casks of flour and bags of rice: it also held most of the ammunition, having six casks of gunpowder, a quantity of lead, two coils of rope, iron bars, bags of nails of various sizes, rolls of brass wire, and the two tents, with three chairs and a small table. Like the wagon of Major Henderson, it was covered with water-proof cloth.
Such was the fit-out which was considered necessary for this adventurous expedition, and the crowds who came to see the preparations for the great hunting-party, as it was called, were so great and so annoying that the utmost haste was made to quit the town. At last the wagons were all loaded, the Hottentots collected together from the liquor-shops, their agreements read to them by the landroost, and any departure from their agreements, or any misconduct, threatened with severe punishment.
The horses and oxen were brought in, and the next morning was fixed for their departure. Having taken leave of the landroost and other gentlemen of the town, who had loaded them with civilities, they retired to the fort, and passed the major part of the night with Captain Maxwell; but to avoid the crowd which would have accompanied them, and have impeded their progress, they had resolved to set off before daylight. At two o'clock in the morning the Hottentots were roused up, the oxen yoked, and an hour before day-break the whole train had quitted the town, and were traveling at a slow pace, lighted only by the brilliant stars of the southern sky.
The plans of our travelers had been well digested. They had decided that they would first prosecute the object of their journey by proceeding straight through the Caffre country to the borders of the Undata River, near or whereabout it was reported that the descendants of the whites would be found located; and as soon as Alexander had accomplished his mission, that they would cross the chain of mountains, and return through the Bushmen and the Koranna country. Their reason for making this arrangement was, that throughout the whole of the Caffre country, with the exception of lions and elephants in the forest, and hippopotami in the rivers, there was little or no game to be found, the Caffres having almost wholly destroyed it.
This plan had been suggested by Major Henderson, and had been approved by Alexander and Mr. Swinton,—Alexander being equally desirous as the Major to have plenty of field-sport, and Mr. Swinton anxious to increase his stock and knowledge of the animal kingdom. There was little to be feared in their advance through the Caffre country, as the missionaries had already planted two missions, one at Butterworth and the other at Chumie; and the first of these Alexander had decided upon visiting, and had, in consequence, several packages in his wagon, which had been entrusted to his care.
It was on the 7th of May, 1829, that the caravan quitted Algoa Bay for Graham's Town. The weather had been for some weeks fine, the heavy rains having ceased, and the pasturage was now luxuriant; the wagons proceeded at a noiseless pace over the herbage, the sleepy Hottentots not being at all inclined to exert themselves unnecessarily. Alexander, Swinton, and Henderson were on horseback, a little ahead of the first wagon.
"I don't know how you feel," said the Major; "but I feel as if I were a prisoner just released from his chains. I breathe the air of independence and liberty now. After the bustle, and noise, and crowding together of the town, to find ourselves here so quiet and solitary is freedom."
"I had the same feeling," replied Alexander; "this wide-extended plain, of which we can not yet discern the horizontal edge; these brilliant stars scattered over the heavens, and shining down upon us; no sound to meet our ears but the creaking of the wagon-wheels in the slow and measured pace, is to me delightful. They say man is formed for society, and so he is; but it is very delightful occasionally to be alone."
"Yes; alone as we are," replied Swinton, laughing; "that is, with a party of thirty people, well armed, in search of adventure. To be clear of the bustle of the town, and no longer cooped up in the fort, is pleasant enough; but, I suspect, to be quite alone in these African wilds would be any thing but agreeable."
"Neither would you feel so much at ease if you knew that your chance of to-morrow's dinner was to depend wholly upon what you might procure with your gun. There is a satisfaction in knowing that you have four well-filled wagons behind you."
"I grant that also," replied the Major; "but still there is solitude even with this company, and I feel it."
"A solitary caravan—but grant that there is some difference between that and a solitary individual," rejoined Swinton; "however, we have not come to solitude yet, for we shall find Dutch boors enough between this and Graham's Town."
"I think, Wilmot," observed Henderson, "that I should, if I were you, proceed by slow stages at first, that we may get our men into some kind of order and discipline, and also that we may find out whether there are any who will not suit us; we can discharge them at Graham's Town, and procure others in their place, at the same time that we engage our interpreters and guides."
"I think your plan very good," replied Alexander; "besides, we shall not have our wagons properly laden and arranged until we have been out three or four days."
"One thing is absolutely necessary, which is, to have a guard kept every night," said Swinton; "and there ought to be two men on guard at a time; for one of them is certain to fall asleep, if not both. I know the Hottentots well."
"They will be excellent guards, by your account," said Alexander; "however, the dogs will serve us more faithfully."
"I do not mean my remark to include all Hottentots; some are very faithful, and do their duty; but it comprehends the majority."
"Are they courageous?" inquired Alexander.
"Yes, certainly, they may be considered as a brave race of men; but occasionally there is a poltroon, and, like all cowards, he brags more than the rest."
"I've a strong suspicion that we have one of that kind among our hunters," replied Henderson; "however, it is not fair to prejudge; I may be mistaken."
"I think I know which you refer to, nevertheless," said Alexander; "it is the great fellow that they call Big Adam."
"You have hit upon the man, and to a certain degree corroborated my opinion of him. But the day is dawning, the sun will soon be above those hills."
"When we stop, I will have some grease put to those wagon-wheels," said Alexander.
"I fear it will be of little use," replied the Major; "creak they will. I don't know whether the oxen here are like those in India; but this I know, that the creaking of the carts and hackeries there is fifty times worse than this. The natives never grease the wheels; they say the oxen would not go on if they did not hear the music behind them."
"Besides, the creaking of the wheels will by and by be of service; when we are traveling through grass higher than our heads, we shall not be able to stop behind a minute, if we have not the creaking of the wheels to direct us how to follow."
"Well, then, I suppose we must save our grease," said Alexander.
"In a very few days you will be so accustomed to it," said the Major, "that if it were to cease, you would feel the loss of it."
"Well, it may be so; use is second nature; but at present I feel as if the loss would be gain. There is the sun just showing himself above the hill. Shall we halt or go on?"
"Go on for another hour, and the men can thus examine the traces and the wagons by daylight, and then, when we stop, we can remedy any defects."
"Be it so; there is a house, is there not, on the rising ground, as far as you can see?"
"Yes, I think so," replied the Major.
"I know it very well," said Swinton; "it is the farm of a Dutch boor, Milius, whom we saw at Algoa Bay. I did not think that we had got on so fast. It is about three miles off, so it will just be convenient for our breakfast. It will take us a good hour to arrive there, and then we will unyoke the oxen. How many have we yoked?"
"Ten to each wagon. The other sixteen are following with the sheep and horses; they are as relays."
"Let us gallop on," said the Major.
"Agreed," replied the others; and putting spurs to their horses, they soon arrived at the farmhouse of the Dutch planter.
They were saluted with the barking and clamor of about twenty dogs, which brought out one of the young boors, who drove away the dogs by pelting them with bullock-horns, and other bones of animals which were strewed about. He then requested them to dismount. The old boor soon appeared, and gave them a hearty welcome, handing down from the shelf a large brandy-bottle, and recommending a dram, of which he partook himself, stating that it was good brandy, and made from his own peaches.
Shortly afterward the wife of the boor made her appearance, and having saluted them, took up her station at a small table, with the tea apparatus before her. That refreshing beverage she now poured out for the visitors, handing a box, with some sugar-candy in it, for them to put a bit into their youths, and keep there as they drank their tea, by way of sweetening it. The old boor told them he had expected them, as he had been informed that they were to set out that day; but he had concluded that they would arrive in the afternoon, and not so early.
We may as well here give a description of a Dutch farmer's house at the Cape settlement.
It was a large square building, the wall built up of clay, and then plastered with a composition made by the boors, which becomes excessively hard in time; after which it is whitewashed. The roof was thatched with a hard sort of rushes, more durable and less likely to catch fire than straw. There was no ceiling under the roof, but the rafters overhead were hung with a motley assemblage of the produce of the chase and farm, as large whips made of rhinoceros-hide, leopard and lion skins, ostrich eggs and feathers, strings of onions, rolls of tobacco, bamboos, etc.
The house contained one large eating-room, a small private room, and two bedrooms. The windows were not glazed, but closed with skins every night. There was no chimney or stove in the house, all the cooking being carried on in a small outhouse.
The furniture was not very considerable: a large table, a few chairs and stools, some iron pots and kettles, a set of Dutch teacups, a teapot, and a brass kettle, with a heater. The large, brass-clasped, family Dutch Bible occupied a small table, at which the mistress of the house presided, and behind her chair were the carcasses of two sheep, suspended from a beam.
Inquiries about the news at the Cape, and details of all the information which our travelers could give, had occupied the time till breakfast was put on the table. It consisted of mutton boiled and stewed, butter, milk, fruits, and good white bread. Before breakfast was over the caravan arrived, and the oxen were unyoked. Our travelers passed away two hours in going over the garden and orchards, and visiting the cattlefolds, and seeing the cows milked. They then yoked the teams, and wishing the old boor a farewell, and thanking him for his hospitality, they resumed their journey.
"Is it always the custom here to receive travelers in this friendly way?" observed Alexander, as they rode away.
"Always," replied Swinton; "there are no inns on the road, and every traveler finds a welcome. It is considered a matter of course."
"Do they never take payment?"
"Never, and it must not be offered; but they will take the value of the corn supplied to your horses, as that is quite another thing. One peculiarity you will observe as you go along, which is, that the Dutch wife is a fixture at the little tea-table all day long. She never leaves it, and the tea is always ready for every traveler who claims their hospitality; it is an odd custom."
"And I presume that occasions the good woman to become so very lusty."
"No doubt of it; the whole exercise of the day is from the bedroom to the teapot, and back again," replied Swinton, laughing.
"One would hardly suppose that this apparently good-natured and hospitable people could have been guilty of such cruelty to the natives as Mr. Fairburn represented."
"Many of our virtues and vices are brought prominently forward by circumstances," replied Swinton. "Hospitality in a thinly-inhabited country is universal, and a Dutch boor is hospitable to an excess. Their cruelty to the Hottentots and other natives arises from the prejudices of education: they have from their childhood beheld them treated as slaves, and do not consider them as fellow-creatures. As Mr. Fairburn truly said, nothing demoralizes so much, or so hardens the heart of man, as slavery existing and sanctioned by law."
"But are not the Dutch renowned for cruelty and love of money?"
"They have obtained that reputation, and I fear there is some reason for it. They took the lead, it must be remembered, as a commercial nation, more commercial than the Portuguese, whose steps they followed so closely: that this eager pursuit of wealth should create a love of money is but too natural, and to obtain money, men, under the influence of that passion, will stop at nothing. Their cruelties in the East are on record; but the question is, whether the English, who followed the path of the Dutch, would not, had they gone before them, have been guilty of the same crimes to obtain the same ends? The Spaniards were just as cruel in South America, and the Portuguese have not fallen short of them; nay, I doubt if our own countrymen can be acquitted in many instances. The only difference is, that the other nations who preceded them in discoveries had greater temptation, because there were more riches and wealth to be obtained."
"Your remarks are just; well may we say in the Lord's Prayer, 'Lead us not into temptation,' for we are all too frail to withstand it."
At noon they again unyoked, and allowed the cattle to graze for an interval; after which they proceeded till an hour before dark, when they mustered the men, and gave them their several charges and directions. At Alexander's request the Major took this upon himself, and he made a long speech to the Hottentots, stating that it was their intention to reward those who did their duty, and to punish severely those who did not. They then collected wood for the fires, and had their supper,—the first meal which they had taken out of doors. Mahomed, the Parsee servant of Major Henderson, cooked very much to their satisfaction; and having tied the oxen to the wagons, to accustom them to the practice, more than from any danger to be apprehended, the watch was set to keep up the fires: they then all retired to bed, the gentlemen sleeping in their wagons, and the Hottentots underneath them, or by the sides of the fires which had been lighted.
It will be unnecessary to enter into a detail of the journey to Graham's Town, which was performed without difficulty. They did not arrive there until eight days after their departure from Algoa Bay, as they purposely lost time on the road, that things might find their places. At Graham's Town they received every kindness and attention from the few military who were there and the landroost. Here they dismissed three of the men, who had remained drunk in the liquor-houses during their stay, and hired nine more, who were well recommended; among these were two perfectly well acquainted with the Caffre language and country; so that they were serviceable both as interpreters and guides. The day after their arrival, when they were out in the skirts of the town, Mr. Swinton perceived something moving in the bushes. He advanced cautiously, and discovered that it was a poor little Bushman boy, about twelve years old, quite naked, and evidently in a state of starvation, having been left there in a high fever by his people. He was so weak that he could not stand, and Mr. Swinton desired the Hottentot who was with him to lift him up, and carry him to the wagons. Some medicine and good food soon brought the little fellow round again, and he was able to walk about. He showed no disposition to leave them; indeed he would watch for Mr. Swinton, and follow him as far as he could. The child evidently appeared to feel attachment and gratitude, and when they were about to depart, Mr. Swinton, through the medium of one of the Hottentots who could speak the language, asked him if he would like to stay with them. The answer was in the affirmative, and it was decided that he should accompany them, the Major observing that he would be a very good companion for Begum.
"What name shall we give him?" said Swinton.
"Why, as my baboon is by title a princess, I think we can not create him less than a prince. Let us call him Omrah."
"Omrah be it then," replied Mr. Swinton, "until we can name him in a more serious way."
So Omrah was put into the wagon, with Begum to amuse him, and our travelers took their departure from Graham's Town.
It was in the afternoon that they moved from Graham's Town. They had intended to have started earlier, but they found it impossible to collect the Hottentots, who were taking their farewells of their wives and their liquor-shops. As it was, most of them were in a state of intoxication, and it was considered advisable to get them out of the town as soon as possible. Late in the evening they arrived at Hermann's Kraal, a small military fort, where they remained for the night to give the Hottentots an opportunity of recovering from the effects of the liquor. The next morning they again started, and the landscape now changed its aspect, being covered with thick bushes, infested with wild beasts.
A barren and sterile country was soon spread before them, the sun was oppressively hot, and not a sign of water was to be observed in any direction. At last they arrived at a muddy pool, in which elephants had evidently been enjoying themselves, and the oxen and horses were but too glad to do the same. At night they halted as before, having lighted fires to keep off the wild beasts and the elephants.
The following morning they renewed their journey at daylight, and the scene again changed; they now plunged into the dense forests bordering on the great Fish River, which they forded in safety. The prospects all around were very beautiful, the river smoothly gliding through stupendous mountains and precipices, with verdant valleys on each side of its banks. In the afternoon they arrived at Fort Wiltshire, the outermost defense of the colony, situated on the banks of the Keiskamma. English troops were stationed there, to prevent any marauding parties from passing the river, or to intercept them on their return with their booty.
As this was the last spot where they could expect to see any of their countrymen, and they were kindly received by the officers, they agreed to remain two days, that they might obtain all the information which they could, and rearrange the stowing of the wagons before they started. The original plan had been to direct their course to Chumie, the first missionary station, which was about twenty-five miles distant; but as it was out of their way, they now resolved to proceed direct to Butterworth, which was forty miles further in the Caffre country, and the more distant of the two missions. Our party took leave of their kind entertainers, and, having crossed without difficulty at the ford the Keiskamma river, had passed the neutral ground, and were in the land of the Caffres.
Up to the present they had very little trouble with the Hottentots whom they had hired. As long as they were within reach of the law they behaved well; but now that they had passed the confines of the Cape territory, some of them began to show symptoms of insubordination. The dismissal of one, however, with an order to go back immediately, and threatening to shoot him if he was ever seen in the caravan, had the desired effect of restoring order. The country was now a series of hills and dales, occasionally of deep ravines, and their route lay through the paths made by the elephants, which were numerous. A Hottentot of the name of Bremen, who was considered as their best man and most practiced hunter, begged Alexander and his companions to be careful how they went along, if they preceded the rest on horseback; as the elephants always return by the same path at evening or after nightfall, in whatever direction they may have been feeding, and it is very dangerous to intercept them.
For two days they continued their course in nearly a straight line for the missionary establishment. On the second evening, just about dusk, as they were crossing a woody hill, by the elephants' path, being then about 200 yards in advance of the wagons, they were saluted with one of the most hideous shrieks that could be conceived. Their horses started back; they could see nothing, although the sound echoed through the hills for some seconds.
"What was that?" exclaimed Alexander.
"Shout as loud as you can," cried the Major; "and turn your horses to the wagons."
Alexander and Swinton joined the Major in the shout, and were soon accompanied by the whole mass of Hottentots, shouting and yelling as loud as they could.
"Silence, now," cried the Major; every one was hushed, and they listened for a few seconds.
"It was only one, sir, and he is gone," said Bremen. "We may go on."
"Only one what?" inquired Alexander.
"An elephant, sir," replied the Hottentot; "it's well that he did not charge you; he would have tumbled you down the precipice, horse and all. There must be a herd here, and we had better stop as soon as we are down the other side of the hill."
"I think so too," replied the Major.
"I shall not get that shriek out of my ears for a month," said Alexander; "why, the roar of a lion can not be so bad."
"Wait till you hear it," replied Swinton.
They had now arrived at the bottom of the hill which they had been passing, and by the light of the stars they selected a spot for their encampment. Whether they were near to any Caffre kraals or not it was impossible to say; but they heard no barking of dogs or lowing of oxen. Having collected all the cattle, they formed a square of the four wagons, and passed ropes from the one to the other; the horses and sheep were driven within the square, and the oxen were, as usual, tied up to the sides of the wagons.
It should here be observed, that the oxen were turned out to graze early in the morning, yoked in the afternoon, and they traveled then as far as they could after nightfall, to avoid the extreme heat of the day, the continual visits of the Carries, and the risk of losing the cattle if they were allowed to be loose and fed during the night.
On the night we have been referring to, a more than usual number of fires were lighted, to keep off the elephants and other wild animals. The hyenas and wolves were very numerous, and prowled the whole night in hopes of getting hold of some of the sheep; but as yet there had not been seen or heard a lion, although an occasional track had been pointed out by the Hottentots.
When the Hottentots had finished their labor, our travelers had to wait till the fires were lighted and a sheep killed before they could have their suppers cooked by Mahomed. Begum, the baboon, had been released from her confinement since their crossing the Fish River, and as usual, when they sat down, came and made one of the party, generally creeping in close to her master until supper was served, when she would have her finger in every dish, and steal all she could, sometimes rather to their annoyance.
Our little Bushman had now quite recovered not only his strength but his gayety, and was one of the most amusing little fellows that could be met with.
He could not make himself understood except to one or two of the Hottentots; but he was all pantomime, trying, by gestures and signs, to talk to Mr. Swinton and his companions. He endeavored to assist Mahomed as much as he could, and appeared to have attached himself to him, for he kept no company with the Hottentots. He was not more than three feet and a half high, and with limbs remarkably delicate, although well made. His face was very much like a monkey's, and his gestures and manners completely so; he was quite as active and full of fun. The watch had been set as soon as the fires were lighted; and close to where Alexander and the others were seated, Big Adam, the Hottentot we have mentioned as having raised doubts in the mind of the Major as to his courage, had just mounted guard, with his gun in his hand. Omrah came up to where they were sitting, and they nodded and smiled at him, and said, "How do you do?" in English.
The boy, who had already picked up a few sentences, answered in the same words, "How do you do?" and then pointing to Big Adam, whose back was turned, he began making a number of signs, and nodding his head; at last he bent down, putting his arm in front of him, and raising it like an elephant's trunk, walking with the measured steps of that animal, so as fully to make them Understand that he intended to portray an elephant.
Having so done, he went up behind Big Adam, and gave a shriek so exactly like that which the elephant had given an hour before, that the Hottentot started up, dropped his musket, and threw himself flat on the ground, in order that the supposed animal might pass by him unperceived.
The other Hottentots had been equally startled, and had seized their muskets, looking in every direction for the approach of the animal; but the convulsions of laughter which proceeded from the party soon told them that there was nothing to apprehend, and that little Omrah had been playing his tricks. Big Adam rose up, looking very foolish; he had just before been telling his companions how many elephants he had killed, and had been expressing his hopes that they soon should have an elephant-hunt.
"Well," observed Swinton, after the laugh was over, "it proves that Adam is an elephant-hunter, and knows what to do in time of danger."
"Yes," replied the Major; "and it also proves that our opinion of him was just, and that with him the best part of valor is discretion."
"The most wonderful escape from an elephant which we have on record here," observed Swinton, "is that of Lieutenant Moodie; did you ever hear of it? I had it from his own lips."
"I never did, at all events," said Alexander; "and if the Major has, he will listen very patiently, to oblige me."
"I have never heard the precise particulars, and shall therefore be as glad to be a listener as Wilmot."
"Well, then, I will begin. Lieutenant Moodie was out elephant-hunting with a party of officers and soldiers, when one day he was told that a large troop of elephants was close at hand, and that several of the men were out, and in pursuit of them. Lieutenant Moodie immediately seized his gun, and went off in the direction where he heard the firing.
"He had forced his way through a jungle, and had just come to a cleared spot, when he heard some of his people calling out, in English and Dutch, 'Take care, Mr. Moodie, take care,' As they called out, he heard the crackling of branches broken by the elephants as they were bursting through the wood, and then tremendous screams, such as we heard this night. Immediately afterward four elephants burst out from the jungle, not two hundred yards from where he stood. Being alone on the open ground, he knew that if he fired and did not kill, he could have no chance; so he hastily retreated, hoping that the animals would not see him. On looking back, however, he perceived, to his dismay, that they were all in chase of him, and rapidly gaining on him; he therefore resolved to reserve his fire till the last moment, and, turning toward some precipitous rocks, hoped to gain them before the elephants could come up with him. But he was still at least fifty paces from the rocks, when he found that the elephants were within half that distance of him,—one very large animal, and three smaller,—all in a row, as if determined that he should not escape, snorting so tremendously that he was quite stunned with the noise."
"That's what I call a very pretty position," observed the Major. "Go on, Swinton; the affair is becoming a little nervous."
"As his only chance, Lieutenant Moodie turned round, and leveled his gun at the largest elephant; but unfortunately the powder was damp, and the gun hung fire, till he was in the act of taking it from his shoulder, when it went off, and the ball merely grazed the side of the elephant's head. The animal halted for an instant, and then made a furious charge upon him. He fell; whether struck down by the elephant's trunk he can not say. The elephant then thrust at him as he lay, with his tusk; fortunately it had but one, and more fortunately it missed its mark, plowing up the ground within an inch of Mr. Moodie's body.
"The animal then caught him up with its trunk by his middle, and dashed him down between his fore-feet to tread him to death. Once it pressed so heavily on his chest, that all his bones bent under the weight, but somehow or other, whether from the animal being in a state of alarm, it never contrived to have its whole weight upon him; for Mr. Moodie had never lost his recollection, and kept twisting his body and his limbs, so as to prevent it from obtaining a direct tread upon him. While he was in this state of distress, another officer and a Hottentot hunter came up to his assistance, and fired several shots at the animal, which was severely wounded, and the other three took to their heels. At last the one which had possession of Mr. Moodie turned round, and giving him a cuff with its fore-feet followed the rest. Mr. Moodie got up, picked up his gun, and staggered away as fast as his aching bones would permit him. He met his brother, who had just been informed by one of the Hottentots, who had seen him under the elephant, that he was killed."
"Well, that was an escape," observed Wilmot.
"What made it more remarkable was, that he had hardly time to explain to his brother his miraculous preservation, before he witnessed the death of one of the hunters, a soldier, who had attracted the notice of a large male elephant which had been driven out of the jungle. The fierce animal gave chase to him, and caught him immediately under the height where Mr. Moodie and his brother were standing, carried the poor fellow for some distance on his trunk, then threw him down, and stamping upon him until he was quite dead, left the body for a short time. The elephant then returned, as if to make sure of its destruction; for it kneeled down on the body, and kneaded it with his fore-legs; then, rising, it seized it again with its trunk, carried it to the edge of the jungle, and hurled it into the bushes."
"Dreadful! I had no idea that there was such danger in an elephant-hunt; yet I must say," continued Alexander, "that, although it may appear foolishness, it only makes me more anxious to have one."
"Well, as we advance, you will have no want of opportunity; but it will be better to get the Caffres to join us, which they will with great delight."
"Why, they have no weapons, except their spears."
"None; but they will attack him with great success, as you will see; they watch their opportunity as he passes, get behind, and drive their spears into his body until the animal is exhausted from loss of blood, and they are so quick that the elephant seldom is able to destroy one of them. They consider the elephant of as high rank as one of their kings, and it is very laughable to hear them, as they wound him, beg pardon of him, and cry out, 'Great man, don't be angry; great captain, don't kill us,'"
"But how is it that they can approach so terrible an animal without destruction?"
"It is because they do approach quite close to him. An elephant sees but badly, except straight before him, and he turns with difficulty. The Caffres are within three feet of his tail or flank when they attack, and they attack him in the elephant-paths, which are too narrow for the animal to turn without difficulty; the great risk that they run is from another elephant breaking out to the assistance of the one attacked."
"The animals do assist each other, then?"
"Yes; there was a remarkable instance of it in the affair of Lieutenant Moodie. I mentioned that it was a large male elephant which killed the soldier just after Mr. Moodie's escape. Shortly afterward a shot from one of the hunters broke the fore-leg of this animal, and prevented him from running, and there it stood to be fired at. The female elephant, which was in the jungle, witnessing the distress of its mate, regardless of her own danger, immediately rushed out to his assistance, chasing away the hunters, and walked round and round her mate, constantly returning to his side, and caressing him. When the male attempted to walk, she had the sagacity to place her flank against the wounded side, so as to support him, and help him along. At last the female received a severe wound, and staggered into the bush, where she fell; and the male was soon after laid prostrate by the side of the poor soldier whom he had killed."
"There is something very touching in the last portion of your story, Swinton," observed Alexander; "it really makes one feel a sort of respect for such intelligent and reasoning animals."
"I think the first portion of the story ought to teach you to respect them also," said the Major. "Seriously, however, I quite agree with you; their sagacity, as my Indian experience has taught me, is wonderful;—but here comes supper, and I am not sorry for it."
"Nor I," replied Alexander. "To-morrow we shall be at the missionary station, if the guides are correct. I am very anxious to get there, I must say. Does not the chief of the Amakosa tribe live close to the Mission-house,—Hinza, as they call him?"
"Yes," replied Swinton, "he does, and we must have a present ready for him, for I think it would be advisable to ask an escort of his warriors to go with us after we leave the Mission."
"Yes, it will be quite as well," replied the Major, "and then we shall have some elephant-hunting: but Bremen tells me that there are plenty of hippopotami in the river there, close to the Mission."
"Water-elephants," replied Swinton; "I suppose you will not leave them alone?"
"Certainly not if our commander-in-chief will allow us to stop."
"I think your commander-in-chief," replied Wilmot, "is just as anxious to have a day's sport with them as you are, Major; so you will certainly have his permission."
"I think we ought to put Omrah on a horse. He is a nice light weight for a spare horse, if required."
"Not a bad idea," replied Alexander. "What a tiger he would make for a cab in the park!"
"More like a monkey," replied the Major; "but it is time to go to bed; so, good-night."
The caravan proceeded on the following morning, and by noon they arrived at the Mission station of Butterworth, which was about one hundred and forty miles from the colonial boundaries. This station had only been settled about three years, but even in that short time it wore an air of civilization strongly contrasted with the savage country around it. The Mission-house was little better than a large cottage, it is true, and the church a sort of barn; but it was surrounded by neat Caffre huts and gardens full of produce.
On the arrival of the caravan, Mr. S., the missionary, came out to meet the travelers, and to welcome them. He had been informed that they would call at the station, and bring some articles which had been sent for. It hardly need be said that, meeting at such a place, and in such a country, the parties soon became on intimate terms. Mr. S. offered them beds and accommodation in his house, but our travelers refused; they were well satisfied with their own; and having unyoked their oxen, and turned them out to graze with those belonging to the station, they accepted the missionary's invitation to join his repast.
Alexander having stated the object of his expedition, requested the advice of Mr. S. as to his further proceedings, and asked him whether it would not be advisable to see the Caffre king, and make him a present. This Mr. S. strongly advised them to do; and to ask for a party of Caffres to accompany the caravan, which would not only insure them safety, but would prove in many respects very useful. All that would be necessary would be to find them in food and to promise them a present, if they conducted themselves well. "You are aware," continued he, "that Hinza's domain only extends as far as the Bashee or St. John's River, and you will have to proceed beyond that; but with some of the Caffre warriors you will have no difficulty, as the tribes further will not only fear your strength, but also the anger of Hinza, should they commit any depredation. But things, I regret to say, do not look very peaceable just now."
"Indeed! what is the quarrel, and with whom?"
"Hinza has quarreled with a powerful neighboring chief of the name of Voosani, who reigns over the Tambookie tribes, about some cattle, which are the grand cause of quarrels in these countries, and both parties are preparing for war. But whether it will take place is doubtful, as they are both threatened with a more powerful enemy, and may probably be compelled to unite, in order to defend themselves."
"And who may that be?"
"Quetoo, the chief of the Amaquibi, is in arms with a large force, and threatens the other tribes to the northward of us; if he conquers them, he will certainly come down here. He was formerly one of Chaka's generals, and is, like him, renowned for slaughter. At present he is too far to the northward to interfere with you, but I should advise you to lose no time in effecting your mission; for should he advance, you will be compelled to retreat immediately. I had better send to Hinza to-morrow to let him know that strangers have come and wish to see him, that they may make him a present. That notice will bring him fast enough; not but that he well knows you are here, and has known that you have been in his country long ago."
"It will be as well, after the information you have given us," said Mr. Swinton.
"What is your opinion of the Caffres, Mr. S., now that you have resided so long with them?"
"They are, for heathens, a fine nation,—bold, frank, and, if any thing is confided to them, scrupulously honest; but cattle-stealing is certainly not considered a crime among them, although it is punished as one. Speaking as a minister of the Gospel, I should say they are the most difficult nation to have any thing to do with that it ever has been my lot to visit. They have no religion whatever; they have no idols; and no idea of the existence of a God. When I have talked to them about God, their reply is, 'Where is he? show him to me.'"
"But have they no superstitions?"
"They believe in necromancy, and have their conjurers, who do much harm, and are our chief opponents, as we weaken their influence, and consequently their profits. If cattle are stolen, they are referred to. If a chief is sick, they are sent for to know who has bewitched him; they must of course mention some innocent person, who is sacrificed immediately. If the country is parched from want of rain, which it so frequently is, then the conjurers are in great demand: they are sent for to produce rain. If, after all their pretended mysteries, the rain does not fall so as to save their reputation, they give some plausible reason, generally ending, however, in the sacrifice of some innocent individual; and thus they go on, making excuses after excuses until the rain does fall, and they obtain all the credit of it. I need hardly say that these people are our greatest enemies."
"Are you satisfied with the success which you have had?"
"Yes, I am, when I consider the difficulty to be surmounted. Nothing but the Divine assistance could have produced such effects as have already taken place. The chiefs are to a man opposed to us."
"Because Christianity strikes at the root of their sensuality; it was the same when it was first preached by our Divine Master. The riches of a Caffre consist not only in his cattle, but in the number of his wives, who are all his slaves. To tell them that polygamy is unlawful and wrong, is therefore almost as much as to tell them that it is not right to hold a large herd of cattle; and as the chiefs are of course the opulent of the nation, they oppose us. You observe in Caffreland, as elsewhere, it is 'hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.' I have asked the chiefs why they will not come to church, and their reply has been, 'The great word is calculated to lessen our pleasures and diminish the number of our wives; to this we can never consent,'"
"But still you say you have made some progress."
"If I have, let it be ascribed to the Lord, and not to me and my otherwise useless endeavors; it must be His doing; and without His aid and assistance, the difficulties would have been insurmountable. It is for me only to bear in mind the scriptural injunction, 'In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.'"
"But have they no idea whatever of a Supreme Being, either bad or good? have they no idea, as some of the African tribes have, of the devil?"
"None; and in their language they have no word to express the idea of the Deity; they swear by their kings of former days as great chiefs, but no more. Now if they had any religion whatever, you might, by pointing out to them the falsity and absurdity of that religion, and putting it in juxtaposition with revealed Truth, have some hold upon their minds; but we have not even that advantage."
"But can not you make an impression upon their minds by referring to the wonders of nature,—by asking them who made the sun and stars? Surely they might be induced to reflect by such a method."
"I have tried it a hundred times, and they have laughed at me for my fables, as they have termed them. One of the chiefs told me to hold my tongue, that his people might not think me mad. The Scriptures, indeed, teach us that, without the aid of direct revelation, men are also without excuse if they fail to attain to a certain knowledge of the Deity,—'even his eternal power and God-head,'—by a devout contemplation of the visible world, which with all its wonders is spread out before them as an open volume. But beyond this, all knowledge of the origin or manner of creation is derived, not from the deductions of human reasoning, but from the Divine testimony; for it is expressly said, 'Through faith we understand that the worlds were made by the word of God.'"
"Nevertheless you must admit that, among the civilized nations of Europe, many who deny revelation, and treat the Bible as a fable, acknowledge that the world must have been made by a Supreme Power."
"My dear sir, many affect to deny the truth of revelation out of pride and folly, who still in their consciences can not but believe it. Here, there being no belief in a Deity, they will not be persuaded that the world was made by one. Indeed, we have much to contend with, and perhaps one of the greatest difficulties is in the translation of the Scriptures. I sit down with an interpreter who can not read a single word, and with perhaps a most erroneous and imperfect knowledge of divine things. We open the sacred volume, and it is first translated into barbarous Dutch to the Caffre interpreter, who then has to tell us how that Dutch is to be put into the Caffre language. Now you may imagine what mistakes may arise. I have found out lately that I have been stating the very contrary to what I would have said. With this translation, I stand up to read a portion of the Word of God, for my interpreter can not read, and hence any slight defect or change in a syllable may give altogether a different sense from what I desire to inculcate."
"That must indeed be a great difficulty, and require a long residence and full acquaintance with the language to overcome."
"And even then not overcome, for the language has no words to express abstract ideas; but the Lord works after His own way, and at His own season."
"You do not then despair of success?"
"God forbid; I should be indeed a most unworthy servant of our Divine Master, if I so far distrusted His power. No; much good has been already done, as you will perceive when we meet to-morrow to perform Divine service; but there is much more to do, and, with His blessing, will in His own good time be perfected; but I have duties to attend to which call me away for the present; I shall therefore wish you good-night. At all events, the Mission has had one good effect: you are perfectly safe from Caffre violence and Caffre robbery. This homage is paid to it even by their kings and chiefs."
"I will say, that if we are only to judge by the little we have seen, the Mission appears to have done good," observed the Major. "In the first place, we are no longer persecuted, as we have been during our journey, for presents; and, as you may observe, many of the Caffres about are clothed in European fashions, and those who have nothing but their national undress, I may call it, wear it as decently as they can."
"I made the same observation," said Alexander. "I am most anxious for to-morrow, as I wish to see how the Caffres behave; and really, when you consider all the difficulties which Mr. S. has mentioned, it is wonderful that he and those who have embraced the same calling should persevere as they do."
"My dear Wilmot," replied Mr. Swinton, "a missionary, even of the most humble class, is a person of no ordinary mind; he does not rely upon himself or upon his own exertions,—he relies not upon others, or upon the assistance of this world; if he did, he would, as you say, soon abandon his task in despair. No; he is supported, he is encouraged, he is pressed on by faith—faith in Him who never deserts those who trust and believe in Him; he knows that, if it is His pleasure, the task will be easy, but at the same time that it must be at His own good time. Convinced of this, supported by this, encouraged by this, and venturing his life for this, he toils on, in full assurance that if he fails another is to succeed,—that if he becomes a martyr, his blood will moisten the arid soil from which the future seed will spring. A missionary may be low in birth, low in education, as many are; but he must be a man of exalted mind,—what in any other pursuit we might term an enthusiast; and in this spreading of the Divine word, he merits respect for his fervor, his courage, and self-devotion; his willingness, if the Lord should so think fit, to accept the crown of martyrdom."
"You are right, Swinton; nothing but what you have described could impel a man to pass a life of privation and danger among a savage race—leaving all, and following his Master in the true apostolic sense. Well, they will have their reward."
"Yes, in heaven, Wilmot; not on earth," replied Swinton.
The next day, being the Sabbath, with the assistance of Mahomed, who was valet as well as cook to the whole party, they divested themselves of their beards, which had not been touched for many days, and dressed themselves in more suitable apparel than their usual hunting costume,—a respect paid to the Sabbath by even the most worldly and most indifferent on religious points. The bell of the Mission church was tolled, and the natives were seen coming from all directions. Our party went in, and found Mr. S. already there, and that seats had been provided for them. The numbers of natives who were assembled in the church were about 200, but many more were at the windows, and sitting by the open door.
Many of them were clothed in some sort of European apparel; those who were not, drew their krosses close round them, so as to appear more covered. A hymn in the Caffre language was first sung, and then prayers, after which the Litany and responses; the Commandments were repeated in the same language. Mr. S. then read a chapter in the Bible, and explained it to the assembly. Profound silence and quiet attention generally prevailed, although in some few instances there was mockery from those outside. Mr. S. gave the blessing, and the service was ended.
"You have already done much," observed Mr. Swinton. "I could hardly have believed that a concourse of savages could have been so attentive, and have behaved with such decorum."
"It certainly is the most difficult point gained,—to command their attention, I mean," replied Mr. S.; "after that, time and patience, with the assistance of God, will effect the rest."
"Do you think that there are many who, if I may use the term, feel their religion?"
"Yes, many; and prove it by traveling about and sowing the seed. There are many who not only are qualified so to do, but are incessantly laboring to bring their countrymen to God."
"That must be very satisfactory to you."
"It is; but what am I, and the few who labor with me, to the thousands and thousands who are here in darkness and require our aid? There are now but three missions in all Caffreland; and there is full employment for two hundred, if they could be established. But you must excuse me, I have to catechise the children, who are my most promising pupils. We will meet again in the evening, for I have to preach at a neighboring village. Strange to say, many who doubt and waver will listen to me there; but they appear to think that there is some witchcraft in the Mission church, or else are afraid to acknowledge to their companions that they have been inside of it."
The missionary then left them, and Alexander observed—
"I don't know how you feel? but I assure you it has been a great pleasure to me to have found myself in this humble church, and hearing Divine service in this wild country."
Both Swinton and Major Henderson expressed the same opinion.
"I am not afraid of being laughed at," continued Alexander, "when I tell you that I think it most important, wherever we may be during our travels, to keep the Sabbath holy, by rest and reading the service."
"With pleasure, as far as I am concerned, and I thank you for the proposal," replied Swinton.
"And I am equally pleased that you have proposed it, Wilmot," said Major Henderson; "even we may be of service to the good cause, if, as we pass through the land, the natives perceive that we respect the Sabbath as the missionary has requested them to do. We are white men, and considered by them as superior; our example, therefore, may do good."
The evening was passed away very agreeably with Mr. S., who was inexhaustible in his anecdotes of the Caffres. He informed them that Hinza intended to call the next morning to receive his presents, and that he would be interpreter for them if they wished it.
Alexander, having thanked the missionary, said, "I think you mentioned, sir, that some of your brother missionaries have their wives with them. Since you have told me so much of the precarious tenure by which you hold your ground here, and I may add your lives, I think that the wives of the missionaries must have even more to encounter than their husbands."
"You are right, sir," replied the missionary; "there is no situation so trying, so perilous, and I may say, so weary to the mind and body, as that of a female missionary. She has to encounter the same perils and the same hardships as her husband, without having the strength of our sex to support them; and what is more painful than all, she is often left alone in the Mission-house, while her husband, who has left her, is proceeding on his duty, at the hourly peril of his life. There she is alone, and compelled to listen to all the reports and falsehoods which are circulated; at one moment she is told that her husband has been murdered; at another, that he is still alive. She has no means of hearing from him, as there is no communication throughout the country; thus is she left in this horrible state of suspense and anxiety, perhaps for many weeks. I have a letter from a brother missionary which is in my writing-desk, wherein the case in point is well portrayed; I will get it, and read that portion to you." Mr. S. went to the other end of the room, and came back with a letter, from which he read as follows:—
"Having been detained among those distant tribes for nearly two months, report upon report had been circulated that the interpreters and guides, as well as myself, had all been murdered. On my arrival within forty miles of the station, I was informed that all doubt upon the subject had been removed by a party of natives who had passed the Mission station, and who pretended an acquaintance with all the particulars of the massacre. We had been traveling the whole day, and night had come on; I was most anxious to proceed, that I might relieve the mind of my dear wife, but the earnest remonstrances of my little party, who represented it as certain death to all of us to cross the plains, which were infested with lions and other savage beasts who were prowling in every direction, at length induced me to wait till the next day. But scarcely had day begun to dawn when I sallied forth, without either arms or guide, except a pocket compass, leaving my fellow-travelers to bring on the wagon as soon as they should arouse from their slumbers. This impatience had, however, well-nigh cost me my life; for having to wade through many miles of deep sand with a vertical sun over my head, I had not accomplished half the journey before my strength began to fail, and an indescribable thirst was induced. Nevertheless, I reached the Mission in safety, and with truly grateful feelings to the Preserver of men. A few minutes prior to my arrival, the wife of one of my brother missionaries, little imagining that I was at hand and alive, had entered our dwelling, to apprise my wife of the latest intelligence, confirming all that had been said before respecting my fate, and to comfort her under the distressing dispensation. At this affecting crisis, while both were standing in the center of the room, the one relating, the other weeping, I opened the door, bathed in perspiration, covered with dust, and in a state of complete exhaustion. 'Oh, dear!' cried our friend; 'is it he—or is it his spirit?' I must, my dear sir, leave to your imagination the scene that followed."
"Yes, sir," said Mr. S., folding up the letter, "a missionary's wife, who follows him into such scenes and such perils and privations, does, indeed, 'cleave to her husband.'"
"Indeed she does," replied Mr. Swinton; "but we will tax you no longer, my dear sir. Good-night."
On the following day, a little before noon, loud shouts and men dancing and calling out the titles of the king of the Caffres announced his approach. These men were a sort of heralds, who invariably preceded him on a visit of ceremony. A band of warriors armed with their assaguays and shields, next made their appearance, and then Hinza, accompanied by fifty of his chief councilors: with the exception of their long krosses of beast-skins thrown over their shoulders, they were all naked, and each daubed with grease and red ocher. As soon as they arrived in front of the Mission-house, they sat down in a circle on each side of the Caffre king, who was treated with marked respect by all, and by the common people in particular, who assembled on his presence. Every one who happened to pass by gave what was termed a 'salute' of honor to the king, who did not appear to consider that it required any acknowledgment on his part.
Our travelers, accompanied by the missionary, advanced into the circle, and saluted his majesty. Mr. S. then explained the object of their journey, and their wish that a small party of the king's warriors should accompany them on their expedition. As soon as the speech was ended, a few pounds of colored beads, a roll of tobacco, two pounds of snuff, and some yards of scarlet cloth, were laid before his majesty as a present. Hinza nodded his head with approval when the articles were spread before him, and then turned to his councilors, with whom he whispered some time, and then he replied "that the strange white men should pass through his country without fear, that his warriors should accompany them as far as they wished to go; but," he added, "do the strangers know that there is disorder in the country beyond?"
Mr. S. replied that they did, and were anxious to go, and return as soon as possible, on that account.
Hinza replied, "It is well; if there is danger, my warriors will let them know—if it is necessary, they will fight for them—if the enemy is too strong, the white men must return."
Hinza then ordered some of his councilors to take charge of the presents, and inquired of Mr. S. how many warriors they wished to have, and when they wished to go.
The reply was, that fifty warriors would be sufficient, and that they wished to depart on the following morning. "It is well," replied Hinza; "fifty warriors are enough, for my men eat a great deal—they shall be ready."
The council then broke up, and the king, having shaken hands with our travelers, departed with his train: toward the evening an old cow was sent to them as a present from his majesty. The Hottentots soon cut it up and devoured it. Every thing was now arranged for their immediate departure.
The next morning, at break of day, the band of Caffre warriors were all in readiness, each with his shield and three assaguays in his hand. They were all fine, tall young men, from twenty to thirty years of age. Alexander desired Mr. S. to tell them that, if they behaved well and were faithful, they should every one receive a present when they were dismissed; a notification which appeared to give general satisfaction. The oxen had already been yoked, and taking leave of the worthy missionary, our travelers mounted their horses and resumed their journey. For the whole day they proceeded along the banks of the Kae River, which ran its course through alternate glens and hills clothed with fine timber; and as they were on an eminence, looking down upon the river, the head Caffre warrior, who had, with the others, hung up his shield at the side of the wagon, and now walked by our travelers with his assaguay in his hand, pointed out to them, as the sun was setting behind a hill, two or three large black masses on the further bank of the river.
"What are they, and what does he say?"
"Sea-cows," replied the interpreter.
"Hippopotami! We must have a shot at them, Wilmot," cried the Major.
"To be sure; tell them we will stop and kill one if we can," said Wilmot to the interpreter.
"We shall want one to feed our army," said Swinton laughing, "or our sheep will soon be devoured."
The Caffres were all immediately in motion, running down to the bank of the river, about a quarter of a mile distant; they swam across, and there remained waiting till our travelers should give the word.
The animals lay on a muddy bank, at a turn of the river, like so many swine asleep, some of them out, and some partly in and partly out of the water. As they were huddled together, they looked more like masses of black rock than any thing else. Two lay considerably apart from the others, and it was toward these two that the Caffres, who had crossed the river, crept until they were in the high reeds, but a few yards from them. Henderson and Wilmot, with some of the Hottentots, descended the ravine on their side of the river, opposite to where the animals lay, and as soon as they were on the bank, being then within one hundred yards of them, they leveled and fired. At the report, all the animals started up from their beds as if astonished at the noise, which they had not been accustomed to. Three or four instantly plunged into the deep water, but the others, apparently half asleep, stood for a few seconds, as if not knowing what course to take: two of them were evidently wounded, as they rushed into the water; for they did not remain below, but rose to the surface immediately, as if in great agony. They appeared anxious to get out of the water altogether, and tried so to do, but fearing the people on the river's bank, they darted in again. In the mean time, at the first report of the guns, the two which lay apart from the others with their heads toward the river, as soon as they rose on their legs, were pierced with several assaguays by the concealed Caffres, and plunged into the water with the spears remaining in their bodies. These also rose, and floundered like the others; and as their heads appeared above, they were met with the unerring rifle of the Major and whole volleys from Wilmot and the Hottentots, till, exhausted from loss of blood, they floated dead upon the surface.
The Caffres waited till the bodies had been borne some hundred yards down the stream, that they might not be attacked when in the water by the remainder of the herd, and then swam off, and pushed the bodies on shore. This was a very seasonable supply of provisions for so large a band of people; but those who belonged to the caravan were not the only parties who benefited: all the Caffres of the surrounding hamlets hastened to the river, and carried off large quantities of the flesh of the animals; there was, however, more than enough for all, and for the wolves and hyenas after they had taken what they chose. It was so late before the animals were cut up, that they decided upon remaining where they were that night; for now that they had the Caffre warriors with them, they had no fear as to losing their oxen, the king having stated that his men should be responsible for them.
Large fires were lighted, and the Caffres and Hottentots, all mingled together, were busy roasting, boiling, and frying the flesh of the hippopotamus, and eating it as fast as it was cooked, so that they were completely gorged before they lay down to sleep; Wilmot had also given them a ration of tobacco each, which had added considerably to the delight of the feast.
"It is not bad eating by any means," said the Major, as they were at supper.
"No; it is something like old veal," replied Swinton. "Now, what is Omrah about? He is after some mischief, by the way he creeps along."
"A monkey is a fool to that boy," observed the Major, "and he appears to know how to imitate every animal he has ever heard."
"Did you hear the dance he led some of the Hottentots on Sunday evening, when we were at the Mission?"
"No; what was that?"
"Bremen told me of it; I thought he would have died with laughing. You are aware that there is a species of bird here which they call the honey-bird,—by naturalists, the Cuculus indicator; do you not remember I showed you a specimen which I was preserving?"
"You have showed us so many specimens, that I really forget."
"Well, I should have given you at the same time the natural history of the bird. It is very partial to honey, upon which it lives as much as it can; but as the bees make their hives in the trunks of old decayed trees, and the hole they enter by is very small, the bird can not obtain it without assistance. Its instinct induces it to call in the aid of man, which it does by a peculiar note, like cher-cher-cher, by which it gives notice that it has found out a beehive. The natives of Africa well know this, and as soon as the bird flies close to them, giving out this sound, they follow it; the bird leads them on, perching every now and then, to enable them to keep up with it, until it arrives at the tree, over which it flutters without making any more noise."
"How very curious!"
"Little Bushman knows this as well as the Hottentots, and hearing that they were going out in search of honey he went before them into the wood, concealing himself, and imitating the note of the bird so exactly, that the Hottentots went on following it for several miles, wondering how it was that the bird should lead them such a distance, but unwilling to give up the pursuit. About sunset, he had brought them back to the very edge of the wood from whence they had started, when he showed himself about one hundred yards ahead of them, dancing, capering, and tumbling so like Begum, that they thought it was her before them, and not him. He gained the caravan again without their knowing who played them the trick; but he told Swanevelt, who speaks his language, and Swanevelt told Bremen."
"Capital!" said the Major; "well, he is after some trick now, depend upon it."
"He has a great talent for drawing," observed Alexander.
"A very great one; I have given him a pencil and occasionally a piece of paper, and he draws all the birds, so that I can recognize them; but you must know that all the Bushmen have that talent, and that their caves are full of the sketches of all sorts of animals, remarkably characteristic. The organ of imitation is very strongly developed in the Bushmen, which accounts for their talents as draftsmen, and Omrah's remarkable imitative powers."
"Do you then believe in phrenology, Swinton!" said Alexander.
"I neither believe nor disbelieve in that and many more modern discoveries of the same kind; I do not think it right to reject them or to give blind credence. Not a day passes but some discovery excites our wonder and admiration, and points out to us how little we do know. The great fault is, that when people have made a discovery to a certain extent, they build upon it, as if all their premises were correct; whereas, they have, in fact, only obtained a mere glimmering to light them to a path which may some future day lead to knowledge. That the general principles of phrenology are correct maybe fairly assumed, from the examination of the skulls of men and animals, and of different men; but I give no credence to all the divisions and subdivisions which have, in my opinion, been most presumptuously marked out by those who profess, and of course fully believe, the full extent of these supposed discoveries."
"And mesmerism?" said Alexander.
"I make the same reply; there is something in it, that is certain, but nothing yet sufficiently known to warrant any specific conclusion to be drawn."
"There is a great deal of humbug in it," said the Major.
"So there is in all sciences; when truth fails them and they are at fault, they fill up the hiatus with supposition; which is, as you term it, humbug."
"Well, I vote that we return to our wagons; every body appears fast asleep except us three."
Such was not, however, the case; for they had not been half an hour on their mattresses, before they were awakened by loud cries of "help," which made them seize the irguns and jump out of the wagons without waiting for their clothes.
The Hottentots and Caffres were so full of hippopotamus flesh, that the noise did not awake but a small portion of them, and these only turned round and stared about without getting up, with the exception of Bremen, who was on his feet and, with his gun in his hand, running in the direction of the cries. He was followed by our travelers, and they soon came up with the object of their search, which proved to be no other than Big Adam, the Hottentot; and as soon as they perceived his condition, which they could do by the light of the fires still burning, they all burst out laughing so excessively that they could not help him.
That it was the work of little Omrah there was no doubt, for Big Adam had not forgotten the former trick the boy had played him, and had more than once, when he caught the boy, given him a good cuffing. Big Adam was on the ground, dragged away by two of the largest dogs. Omrah had taken the bones he could find with most flesh upon them belonging to the hippopotamus, and had tied them with leathern thongs to the great toes of Big Adam as he lay snoring after his unusual repast. He had then waited till all were asleep, and had let loose the two largest dogs, which were always tied with the others under the wagons, and not over-fed, to make them more watchful.
The dogs had prowled about for food, and had fallen in with these large bones, which they immediately seized, and were dragging away, that they might make their repast without interruption; but in attempting to drag away the bones, they had dragged Big Adam some yards by his great toes, and the pain and fright—for the Hottentot thought they were hyenas or wolves—had caused him thus to scream for help. Bremen divided the thongs with his knife, and the dogs ran off growling with the bones, and Adam stood again upon his feet, still so much terrified as not to be able to comprehend the trick which had been played him. Our travelers, having indulged their mirth, retired once more to their resting-places. The Major found Omrah and Begum both in their corners of the wagon, the former pretending to be fast asleep, while the latter was chattering and swearing at the unusual disturbance.