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PAUL RATCLIFFE'S ADVENTURES.…

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PAUL RATCLIFFE'S ADVENTURES. A STORY OF WILD LIFE. -+- CHAPTER I II. PAUL RATCLIFFE'S story of his adventure in the bush only made our ears itch for more. The rain was still pouring in torrents we could not think of removing our tents until it had ceased. We had provisions enough for two or three days in store, but our fuel Was getting short, for we had not only to keep up a fire within camp, but it was necessary to have a con- tinuous flame without during the night, to prevent Wild bulls and boars making an onslaught upon us. In the day time we should have been obliged to them if they had given battle to us, but these animals often roam about at night; and while we were slumbering it would have been no very pleasant thing to have such enemies goading or tearing away at our tent, with insufficient light to make the amende honourable. So we cast lota who should go in search of fuel, who should attend to the horses, and who should remain at home to cook a sumptuous dinner from the carcase of the ox killed the day before. I was unfortunate in my draw, and, with five others, had to procure the fuel. We had not far to go before We reached a clump of trees, many of whose boughs, half rotten, were soon kewn down and carried to camp but short as it took us to do this we felt that we had accomplished a great task, for previous to this rain there had been a long drought, and the frogs, toads, and lizards that seemed to revel in the moisture were something horrible to my uninitiated mind. The Oregons told us that all' these animals were perfectly harmless, but we must take care we did not disturb a peculiar kind of adder, which occasionally lay secreted under the turf, or under the roots of trees where there was shelter. When I heard this I trod my way in fear and trembling, for if there is anything in the world I have a horror of, it is the snake tribe. We got to our tent again without damage of any kind, except being wetted to-the skin, and the exertion We had gone through in carrying on each of our shoulders nearly a hundred weight of timber, had pretty nearly exhausted us. We soon, however, put on dry clothes, and fell to the meal prepared for us with an appetite of no common orøer. Oar plan was to put the partly green wood on the large fire outside our tent, and when it was nearly reduced to charcoal place it on the stove we had within. After finishing our repast we took to grog and cigars, and each questioned Paul Ratcliffe about the personages named in the adventure he had related to us. Ah he replied, "I see I ought to have begun at the beginning, and told you how I became acquainted With my friend Jot and others. To begin, as I ought to have done in the first instance, then, I must give you a brief account of'my first journey to India At the earnest solicitation of my friend, Captain Winslow, of the ship Massaaoit, I went with him to India. My old companion, Ben Gilroy, was with me. One bright morning, while lying at anchor in the Hoogly, below Calcutta, Winslo.v came down from the city in a lighter, and requested us to follow him into the cabin. Gentlemen," said he, with some uneasiness, when I urged you to accompany me to this far-off spot of earth, I supposed that I should return as soon as I could exchange my cargo; but I have received an offer Which makes me hesitate. My ship is wanted for trade between here and Canton. The way is open DO me for a fortune." You mean the opium trade r said I. "A little upon the smuggling order," suggested Ben Gilroy. Winslow acknowledged that we were right. And you fear that we shall be disappointed if you do not return us to the United States P "Exactly, gentlemen. I can get: you a passage home by the way of England immediately; and in the course of two or three weeks art American ship may sail. Or, I can send you as far as Cape Town by the Frenchman that sails to-morrow." Hold on cried Ben. I think I can see some- thing." He went to his state-room, and soon returned With a letter in his hand. "Colonel," he said, addressing me, "don't you re- member this letter from Harry Rusk? He and Andrew Jackson are in Southern Africa by this time or, at any rate, they will be there within a few weeks." I caught at the plan in a moment. To meet Harry and Andrew in Africa, and lead them up among the Wilds of the Bechuanas, would be glorious. We assured Captain Winslow that his new movement would not trouble us in the least. In fact, we liked it. We had only one favour to ask woul -1 he see if the captain of the French barque would leave us at Algoa Bay ? Certainly. Within an hour we learned that the French- man had intended to go in that direction, so he could drop us without any trouble at Algoa. Bay. Before night all our luggage was transferred to the barque, and on the following morning we dropped down the river, and set sail. We reached Algoa Bay without accident of any kind and when we went on shore at Port Elizabeth We found our friends already there. They had arrived about a week before us, and were ready for any plan We had in view. We had all left home for the sole pur- pose of recreation; and the manner in which we had thus met seemed to invite us to follow up the lead of the circumstances that had so far favoured us. My own plan was, to take a tramp to the northward, be- Yond the lands of the Bechuanas, up among the lions and the elephants—to see the sights, and meet with adventures. I had not to press my plan, for my com- panions fairly jumped at it. If I would lead off, they would follow right willingly. Ben Gilroy was with me formerly in Texas, and had been my companion for a long time. At the time of which I now write, Ben had grown exceedingly fat. He weighed over two hun-dred pounds and yet did not measure more than five feet eight in his boots. A noble-hearted, brave, jolly fellow was old Ben. Harry Rusk was small of stature, with raven hair; a keen grey eye; and possessing thews and sinews of the toughest material. He was a civil engineer by Profession and had carried hia_ compass and signal- flags through thousands of miles of the Western solitudes. Harry was the youngest of the party, as well as the smallest of frame; but a very important member did we find him after we reached the wilder- l1ess. Andrew Jackson was a shrewd, calculating fellow, With a true heart and noble instincts. He had occu- pied the post of sutler with our army in the West, and had consequently seen something of life. It was while operating with my regiment on the frontier that I became acquainted with him; and from that time our friendship remained unbroken. He was of middle age; of medium size; with brown hair, and bluish grey eyes and possessing g )od powers of endurance. lIe was oiae of the best horsemen I ever saw. In short, we were four firm, fast friends; and we were pledged to enjoy ourselves to the utmost, and to stand by each other through thick and thin. Surely there was prospect of sport ahead. "And," suggested Andrew, with a calculating nod of the head', "if we get up where the ivory is we may make something." Ben laughed. But I decided that Andrew was right. If we could make our adventures pay our expenses, the thing was Worth looking after. We spent a week in looking around, and observing the manners and customs about us, and then we set at work to prepare for our journey. Andrew was the man to purchase the thousand.and-one nick-nacks we needed, and while he and Ben remained in town to select our small stores, Harry and I went into the Country to purchase oxen. I had already bought a couple of horses; and Harry had done the same. And one thing more I had done; I had hired a private servant, and now I must tell you about him. One morning, as I sat in my chamber writing a letter, the landlord poked in his head, and informed me that a Caffre boy wished to see me. Presently the applicant stood before me. He was a bright-eyed, Woolly-headed fellow, with a skin of pure copper colour, and with far more top to his head than is usual with his race. He was about fifteen years of age; and though small of frame, yet the cat-like move- ment of his limbs betrayed that he did not lack strength nor energy. He said that he belonged, to the northern tribe—the Zoola-hs; and that in a war with the Mambootus fee had been taken prisoner, and carried off to be roasted and eaten. Ha made his ;Scape from his captors by strangling his guard, and had j been in Port Elizabeth two weeks, during which time he had been stopping with an old Englishman, who was soon to leave for home., He had learned to speak sh from one of his own people and since he had been in the town he had bo far perfected himself in the t-.rogue that he spoke it quite fluently. He had j heard that I wees into interior to hunt, And he had como, w o&r kiroseif as my private ser- vant. If I liked him I might pay him what I thought he was worth, and if I did not like him I might set him adrift at any time. I wanted a servant; but I had calculated upon one with a little more age and experience than this appli- cant had. "Try me," begged the little fellow. There was a whole volume of argument, persuasion, and promise in that simple expression, and the look which accompanied it. He seemed to say that he would serve me to th/J extent of his life if I would take him and treat him well. I told him I would take him, and he sank npon his knees and kissed my hand. He would have kissed my foot if I had not prevented him. His name, as he pronounced it, was a. sort of snappish grunt, and the nearest Christian ap- proach I could make to it was Dan. So I called him Dan, and he liked the sound of the new form better than he did the old. I went with him to the bazaar, where I bought him a pair of blue frocks, and some short drawers of the same colour. He asked for a sash, and I got him one of red cotton; and I also provided him with with two red cotton handkerchiefs. A good dagger—the blade of trusty steel, and the sheath of ox-hide—completed his outfit; and a happier fellow I never saw. And Dan went with Harry Rusk and me to look after oxen. About fifteen miles back from the bay we came to a settlement of Boers, where cattle were plentiful. I found an old farmer, named Peter Marburg, who had fine oxen, and who offered to let me have what I wanted upon very reasonable terms. We spent the night with him, and on the following morning we went out to the pastures. Peter's pasture was a large one, containing some two thousand acres, and handsomely diversified with hill, plain, vale, and forest. About a mile from his house was a yard, or pen, nearly square, of some two or three acres in extent, enclosed by a, stout, high fence of logs and brushwood. Six of the Boer's men were sent to gather the cattle, and before noon two hundred oxen had been driven into the pen. Now," said my host, if you wish to select you can do so. Nearly all of these will work in a yoke." They were mostly the small, red oxen, known as the Zuur-feldt-tough and hardy; and, when well broken and carefully handled, as serviceable as an ox can be. Harry went off in one direction, with Peter's head man, while I went in another with Peter himself. I had selected half a dozen animals, and was moving to- wards a group that stood near the centre of the enclo- sure, beneath a clump of trees, when a loud cry from one of the herdsmen startled me. "Run! run!" shouted Peter, at the top of his voice, and at the same time making for the fence. For your life, Mynheer Colonel! The mad bull! the mad, bull I" At first I stood stock-still, not knowing what to make of this outcry; but I was not long in discover- ing the cause. Three men, who had kept us company for the purpose of marking and fettering the oxen which I had selected, were already clambering over the distant fence, while Mynheer Peter was making the best of his way in the same direction. Between myself and the fleeing Boer I saw the object of their terror-a huge black bull, foaming at the mouth, and tearing up the sod with his horns. I comprehended the trouble at onee. This bull had strayed into the enclosure unobserved, and was really mad. The fever of his blood might have been caused by disease -by some venomous bite-and it might have been only anger. At all events he was mad-crazy mad, and seemed bent upon most terrible mischief. When ho ploughed his horns into the ground he had dis- covered that those whom he pursued had escaped him; and, as he gazed around through the cloud of dirt, his eye rested upon me; and with a roar that made the solid earth tremble, he plunged towards me. I was taken at a disadvantage. The bull 'was between me and the nearest point of fence, and to escape in any other direction seemed impossible. I looked for a tree, but did not see one which I thought I could reach. The only weapon which I had about me was a pistol, and to have used that would have been simple madness. I looked for Harry-just one instantaneous look-and saw him by the fence in a far-off corner. I fancied that I could see the terror in his face, and that I could mark the quivering of his frame, as he viewed my situation. iv-un run !11 I heard some one cry. It might have been very good advice under some other circum- stances, but it was entirely useless to me now. I might ran. but the bull could run too fast for me. Twenty rifles might have been discharged at the infuriate beast without effect, and yet I would have given half a lifetime for my trusty rifle at that moment. An age was crowded into a few short seconds. The bull was dashing towards me, and I had not yet moved. I was not weak-I do not think I was frightened—I was fairly stunned. There was no chance for thought, for there seemed no possible chance of safety. To stand there and await the coming of the monster appeared as favourable as any move I could make. It may have been six seconds that I stood thus. Six seconds is a short space of time under ordinary circumstances; but you who have held a watch upon the speed of a flying horse ha.ve learned to realise how much maybe gained or lost in a single second of time. Six secojids had passed — perhaps more—and the bull was within half a dozen rods of me. His great swart breast was dripping with foam; his eyes glared. like balls of fire; and at each leap he made the distance frightfully less. At the moment when I was calculating my chances of escaping the brute by dodging him, something flashed past me, and a voice sounding in my ears, tell- ing me to stand still. It was my Caffre boy, Dan. He had glided directly in front of me, and was waving his fiery red handkerchief above his head. In an instant the bull changed his course. The flaunting handker- chief of fiery hue, completely distracted his attention from me and he now dashed on towards the boy. I felt a momentary relief, but the relief was not pleasurable. It seemed to me that Dan had offered himself a sacrifice. But the question was to be quickly solved. As the boy ran past me, he kept on a few rods, and then turned and faced the beast. I caught the expression of the lad's face, and I thought I could discover something more than resignation in his look. The boy put his handkerchief into his bosom, and faced the bull, while I, now trembling at every joint, expected to see him crushed to death in a very few seconds. On dashed the bull, roaring and plunging, with his frightful horns aimed at his intended victim. The boy stood upon tiptoe, with his form slightly bent, and as the bull almost touched him he gave a sudden leap, upon one side, and fell flat upon his belly. The animal passed him, and went some twenty yards beyond before he could stop. Seconds were then like lifetimes. Dan started to his feet, gave his handker- chief one more flaunt in the air, and then sprang towards a small tree which stood not far away. I might have made for this tree in the first place, only, before, the tree had been between me and the bull, and he might have reached it before I could. Dan gained the tree, however, and was quickly resting upon a branch some ten feet from the ground. Now was the time when I could save myself bvflight; but I was chained to the spot whore I stood. The tree was a very small one, and I looked to see the monster bear it down at the first onset. It could not be other- wise. The slim trunk even bent beneath the weight of the lad; and it would require but a moiety of the bull's tremendous force to snap it down like a reed. One-two-three bounds, and the mad beast was upon the tree. He seemed to know that the frail sapling could offer no tough resistance, and a snort of defiance escaped him as he bent his head to the work. Ha! What a thrill went through me when I saw the boy drop upon the back of the infuriate monster. He leaped down like a cat, and strode the bull at the shoulders. I saw his stout dagger flash in the sunlight, and in another moment the keen blade had been driven deep into the spine of the brute, directly behind the point where the spinal process enters the skull. He struck in the exact spot where the life is seated, and the huge beast fell dead in an instant. I hurried up to the spot just as the boy was wiping his dagger, and in the excess of my gratitude and admi- ration I fairly caught him in my arms. "I've killed a good many cattle in that way," he said, afcer I had set him free but this is the first time I ever perched upon a mad bull." I asked him if he had planned all this when he flew past me. He said he had. I then asked him if he had not feared for the result. He replied that he was surs of his mark when once upon the bull's back, and "the chances of reaching tha.t back were very good." At all events," he said, with a, peculiar twist of his litho body, "my chances of success were much • better than yours could have been if I had not cose." I discovered that my boy servant was devoted tq me, and from that moment I loved him. He felt the influence of my love and I know that he would have died for me at any time. Once, at least, he had saved my life; so I had reason to bless the hour that sent him to me. And now, after a little breathing time, I will tell you how your friend Jot was engaged. (To be continued)

A RAMBLER'S JOTTINGS. ---.;t''-

OUR "CITY" ARTICLE.I -+-

Money Market.

The Corn Trade.

Cattle Market.

The Produce Market.

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