Chapter 65702553

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Chapter NumberXVI
Chapter TitleCAUGHT IN THE ACT.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65702553
Full Date1888-08-24
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count3662
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleKyabram Union (Vic. : 1886 - 1894)
Trove TitleMy Plucky Boy Tom; or, Searching for Curiosities in India for My Show
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THE YOUNG FOLKS. MY PLUCKY BOY TOM, -OR, SEAROHING FOR OURIOSITIES IN . ,INDIA TORMY HOW.: - Br'P. T. Baie?.ad: CO;ttr TThEItXVL.-CAO T IN. Thu AcTr. 'In. abmsolte' silene the three horsemen tdes dowirthe long hill. The horses, as if Insympathy ,with their riders, 'seemed to plant their' hool more 'gusededly in the Solt dust of the, highway, while they flung their ears forward and glanced to the right and left like oreaturse who scent danger in the air. Tom Bradford was allowed to keep a few steps in front of Jed, while Mr. Godhin was abreast of the litter, the footmen walking behind in Indian file. I must remind you that there wea no Stese on either side of the highway, and the little stream, which was only a few inbches in depth, had to be waded by all who passed that way; The jnagle came close to the road on either aide, and was so dense that when Tom glanced at it, he sould not help muttsring to himself : SWhat finer place could a tiger want for hiding- 1' The question was not fanished when the tiger appeared. It may have been that she was in sn on osually wrathful mood,-beanuse she thought her, enemies were seeking to disturb hesr before she could complete her feast, for she hardly waited until the foremost horseman was. opposite to where she was croubhing when Ihe'made her attack. While looking at the dense jungle on bis right, Tom observed a slight agitation of the vegetation, and before he could tell what it meant, the body of the tiger shot outn ward and upward as if propelled from a catapole. The figure of the immense beast, brillisant, ercious and frightfully beautiful as she seemed Suspendedror a single instant in mid air, was a sight which once seen must remain vivid forever. Those who stood in the background saw the horrid front, the half-contracted limbs, the drooping tail, as the lithe, sinewy form curved over toward the apparently doomed lid. The latter observed the frightful head with the flaming eyes. the ears flattened back, the wide open jaws with their long white, gleaming teeth and blood.red mouth, as the beast seemed rushing through space like a comet directly athlm, - .Xi The Intotellgent animal that Tom bestode detected the peril before his rider, and made one tremendous bound forward. Thus it happened that when the assaulting beast anded, it was on the ground several paces behind his intended victim. 'It would been an easy matter for him to leap upon the pony of Tom, or to Wheel sad attack either of the other horseman that were at hand; but you may not kno'w that it sea peculiarity of the tiger that, when he missee seling his prey at the first leap, he generally refrains from repeating it, turning about and dahing of as if asehamed' of his failure. The female did so In this case, "and bthough Tom and Mr. Godkin fired at her as she darted into the jungle, and were sure they etruook her, she ashowed no signs of receiving any injury. * Now is our time to hurry by i' aslled out Mr. Godkin to the servants behind them; "she won't hrm ne if we make haste.' The poniue were forced into a gallop, whoih they maintained all the way to the top of the long hill in front, ,To, Jack and Jim ekurrying after them with such swiftness that they were but a very little way behind, Tom and his friend could affllord to laugh at their elogular experienco with the tiger, and the lad did not fail to give full eredit to his rstceious boast, that had enatched him from under the descendlog monster, who, had she alighledwhere she intended, would have made ae ashort work with the plucky boy as be did with the uofortunto postman a short time before. As the party ha" toned from the spot, they sawihe shochirgevidenoeo of. the tragedy Blood anod the torn turban were on the ground, while the long pole with its bhell and lrogments of pspere were ecatteredabout. 'I am going to have one or both of those igEr kittens, or die in the attempt,' esaid Tom, when they re nod up shortly, ater in front of the native's hut by the wayside. '. prop se that we leave all the reit here, while you and I steal back along the highway and coo what we can see. ' I like the suggestion, for I don't believe we can all hide from her, and the natives are really of no account in the task we have undertaken, or, rather, are about toundertake' This proposition, as may be supposed, was not objected to by the others, and it was about the middle of the afternoon when Tom and Mlr. Godkin eat out on toot to return to the little stream which had been the scen of so0 many atircir g OCcuOreneO Of the day. NoA pache warriors could have p'oced their way with greatereare thandidoor two, isendr, They met no persons either riding 'or on toot, and reached a point about half way down the hill Lefore they stopped. Deeming it unwise to go fourher, they softly crept into the jungle to wait, with little pro.peot of success, as anyone must admit who studies the situation. But that which they wished to some to pass did so sooner than they dared hope. They had no more' than comfortably establisbed thrmeelves in the thilck vegets. 4Jnu'ro elose to the bhighway that, by pert leg the.bushes in front, they etould loor daoWn to the bottom of the 'hill and see the gleam atthe water in the small stream that wound its way aseros the road, when Mr. Godlln zoolaimed, ioan eclled whlnper': Bygraciousi there the is now.' Bure enough, as Tom peered forth, he dis ce'ined'the identlcal beast,' which bad eatorged from the esme point in the jungle where she had vanlihed, and approached the water.:, ,' , She was in the middle of the highway, and wee walking slowly, swlnging her t.ii from side to side, and looking straight ahead. lihe was so near that she was seen to be lickleing her bloody jaws. 'A tiger often s'ops to drink while eatlrg.' awhileperd Mr: Godkhin, 'and that is whast abshe is after.' 'Such proved to be the fact. Arriving on the edge of the etream, the tiger lowered her head end lapped'theecool current, jual as the cat species do when taking a drink; She qsuickly slaked her thirse, and then, raising her head, looked round, sait to say: ' It there are any more of you folks that would like to pay me a visit, I'd be glad to welseoome you.' e " ad 'It can't be esees us,' esid Tom, 'butn why does she look se longc in this direction ' ' There sheb goes I' The tiger tluried about and walked baek with the esame deliberate tread until opposite the point where she had emerged hem the jorgle, where she irade a leatp into 'it and direappeared. Bue the did so an the olioaite side of the highway,' SThat's luoky I' exclaimed Tom, .ahe's gens ft to bout her mnte, now's our time I .eou may be right, but it will be awfully awkLised if she happens to come beek before we san get away.' ' Come on; every minute counts.' It wes just like the plucky lad to push his way through the jungle iole the road, and to 4o down the bill almost on a run, Mr. Godkin findlng it hard to kesrp up with him. Tom did half expect the mother to return, hot he believed that after the two bullets sent Lto ler body, he and his companion could make short work of her with their weapons. You will suspeat that his uoeecas earlier in the day aave him more self.assurances than he ihould have felt, and I have no doubt suohwss Abe faet. 'Her home aen't be far off 'remarked Tom, recalling how olose the anlmel was to the highway when she made her derperate effort to leap upon his horae. I shalbil soon finod out,' be added, boldly ,nterlng thb vegetation. ' Heiloa I thts i It was lessL thabn fifty -feet from thu road lat al aint lurringl sound fell npca his ear,

and the next minute he aome upon two beautiful tiger kittens, playing and tumbling over each other like two poppies. 'Her, hold my gun 1' whispered the ex cited Tom, running back a few steps and handing his weapon to Mr. Godkin; ' atay where you are till I return.' The man was half dazed as he accepted the rife, by the audacity of the youth, who, without giving him time to protest, ran for ward again, and paying no heed to the mangled remains of the poor postma, seizsed each kitten by the nape of the neek, lifted them clear of the ground and started off. The little ones thus unceremoniously dis turbed straggled hard; but he had no dilfficulty in holding them fast, and with a heart beating high with exultation, he started back to rejoin his companion, awaiting hi return on the edge of the jleungle. But beforehe oould eatch sight of him, a thunderous, muttering growl caused him to on hie bhead like a flesh. There stood the ionfurfated mother lees than twenty foot distant, with her blazing eyee fixed upon hias. Her terrible attitude seemed to eay: ' Young man, I've returned I Drop that property of mine and say your prayers.' CcAPrrEn XVII.-TTnE CURIOSITIES. Nothing could surparss the audacity of Tom Bradford in entering the tiger's lair for the purpose of stealing heryoung. The molt experieneed hunter that would dare do such a thing would be declared reek. less beyond excuse. The only thing that I san say about the exploit was that it was ehsrateuriltio of the lad. It was a strange silght when the youth, pikling his way through the jangle toward the highway, holding a plump, squisrmn-g tiger kitten in eash hand, stopped short, face to face with the terrible mother. The latter, instead of going off for an boun or two, had made a cihcuit through the jungle on the other side of the highway, reerossed It forther up at the moment the two frieneds were entering the undergrowth, and approached her lair by a olrooitons course. - ". g am Just as Tom darted back to his friend with the request that he should hold his gun for a minute of two, it occurred to Mrs Godkin that the true place for him was on the edge of the jungle, where he could watch the road and deteet the tiger should she return before they could get away. Had the gentleman been one minute sooner in taking his poet, he would have disoevered the daeger into time to warn his companien. and to prepare for the reception of the mother; bat the movements of the beast were silent and lightning-like. Tom Bradford was 'caught fool,' as the expression goes. There be stood in front of the beast transfixed, and holding her beloved offspring by the napes of their necks, slear proof that he was engaged in stealing her progeny. What punishment was too great for the outraged mother to infliet upon such a mis oreau ? According to Tom's account, he was absolutely paralysed for the moment. He did not think it possible the mother would return so soon, though he was prepared for a fight with her before getting off with his prizes. Then, knowing how strong the attachment of the tiger is for her young, he gave sbsh a vigorous fling to each of the kittens that they went over her head, and fell among the bushes behind her, or rather one of them did 0o. It was at this extraordinary juncture that the beast gave a striking and siogular exhlbition of her dexterity. The second kitten was going through the air like a huge dumpling, when the mother threw up her head and caugiht it fairly between her jaws, doing so with a skill that prevented soany harm to her offspring, and with a deftness that would have been a strong recommendation for a position on the champion base ball nine of the country. Tne instant the kittens left the hands of Tom Bradford, he whirled about and dashed for the highway. eloating: 'Look out, Mr. Godkin I The mother has arrived !' Before the grntleman onul.l rlsh into the jungle to the help of his young friend, the latter was at his side. ' Here I let me have my pun 1' he added, reaching for the weapon i 'it's getting too warm for mein there I' ' There couldn't be a better time for meklg a chbange of base,' was the comment of the elder, who leaped almost into the middle of the.highway; ' depend upon It, she will come for us.' Mr. Godhin was right. Evidently the tiger tarried only long enough to meke sure her children were unharmed, and to plasce them back in their bed, when she burst through the jungle, sflame with fary and with the iotent of visiting awful vengeance upon those who had dared to lay violent honda on her offepriog. Her charge could not have been better tlied-that is, fcr those who had to rscolve it. They were on the other side of the high way with' guns at their ahoulderse and ready for the rsRig tenest She looken around for an instant, as if to looste her victims, and then she squatted on her belly to gather her muscles for the leap Ihas would be the death signal of the hunters, Bus at the very moment she was leaving the ground, the two rifles were dishsarged --o nearly together that the reports were like that of a single gun. The aim wae aoearate,' both bllets entering the brain of the tiger, who made an add, twisting jump almost straight upward, and, falling on her back, lay a moment pawing the alr, and then became still. . 'i wonder itf she's dead!' said Tom, reloadisi hi' gun, but with one eye fixed on the motionlers brutr. ' As dead as Julius Colser,' was the reply of Mr. Godkin, who proved his faith' in bhi own words by walking forward and givilp thebody a kick. 'Those two ballets that we plumped into her body awhile ago, and that didn't seem to do any bhut, produced their good effeet after all,' added the elder Sthough we bad sucnh a falralm that I think either of car shots would have fiotbed her,' 'Lke her mate she deserved death,' re. marked Tom.' but only think I'he exclaimed, slapping the shoulder of Mr.. Godkin, ' that gives ustbe prizes we're alter.' ' And there they ere I' The two kittens (as they will often do whenwith theirmother) left their bed, and appeared on the edge of the jungle, blinking wieking, and tumbling about as though ouricus to learn the aoe of all the excite meet' They were pretty, plump creatures though even in their playfuol gambols their alaws and teeth gave avidence.of the fearful weapons they were sure to become in the c orese of time. 'Poor thinoge I' said Tom, with mesk cympathy; 'only think, they are orphasc now and entitled tocur care; so I'll take hergeaof them. ' Passieog his rifle once more to his friend, he picked up the kittens as before, and stareed op the hill with them. They did not weigh more than a dozen pounds spiee, and for a brief time were quite docile. Supported by the looes skin at the back ol the neck, it is not likely thet at first they lel say speelal diseomlort; but, before the top ol the hill was resabed, they were squirming about with a vigour that com pelled attentien. 'You ought to behbave yonrselve,' said Tom, * for you know you are sure to get a great deal better treatment over in America than in Ilndia-- Ohob let go i Both kittense fell to the ground with a thump, and immediately began frolioking with each other. Our friends let them rest awhile, keepinp sharp watech that they did not run away. Then they arranged that ealoi should take one, but, instead ofu eurryling it by the neck. it was borne in the erms. This had some disadvantsges, and both Mr. Godkin and Tom recelived asmr serathabos; but by humonring the little terrors, tbsy managed to get them to the wayside hue, where, as may be supposed. their arrival prodnoad a etir amountieog almolst to cosTernoation. In this simple dwelling dwelt an old man ad his'daughbter, a middls.eaged woman, who were sure that the mother of she kittees

would follow the kidnappers to the spot, and slay every onset the party. Jed and the other .saivems wee of the mie pller, etil amorel that the mother had departed this life. Mr. Godkin weas wegelb enough to try to make the relet believe ta Tom bad fired the shot that killed the second tiger, as he bad fired the one that ? lew the ret; but, Inues much as it wee all he could do to persuade them that the seoon had really been Mllfed, he stock to the feats. It oould not be denled that our friends had done an Inestimable servie to the nelrhboo?hood by ridding It two ueh terrible man-seaters, and when the natlva should some to learn theis glad tidings there would be hardly anything that they would not willingly do to prove their gratituae. The owner of the hot knew the postman who had been killed by the tiger, and gave his name to Jed, who promised to inform his rolatives living In ;ooknew. As for the destroyed mail, that would have to be left to ether artisu to look after. Sut we've got the kttens,' said Tom, eZx u ilingly, ' and what shall we do with them ' SSBand them to Lueknow by Jed; I will give him the name of aftrlndthere, who will understand what Is wanted when he leans who set them, and he will take good ea of anything we may send until we are seady to ship them to Caleotta and thenme to England and home.' The suggestion was a wie one, and It was carried out. With the help of the native at whose hut they wer stopping, a bamboo sage was eon struoted, large enough to hold the tiger kittens, while, at the saeme time, It oould be carried without ineonvenience on the horse in front of the rider. Lookuow was so nigh that it war but a moderate ride thither, and Jef gladly under. took the duty of delivering the prisse to the gentleman named by Mr. Godlkn, and who was well known. It was eo lsse in the day, however, that the entire party spent the night in and around the hut of their host, who reeelved a libe re payment for his food and somewhat primitive aooommodations. Early the next day Jed left with his primse, promising to come beek and join hie nsw friendein their huntfor other ourtoeities. On the eame day that witnessed the de pasture of the native Jed with the two tiger kitisne, our friends moved their quarters several mUles to the south-week. This took them somewhat further from Lucknow, whleb, however, may be said to have been within easy reahob. The surrounding country offered admirable feealltle for hboting, and they were on the edge of another jungle, not so extensive as that in which took place the adventures with the tiger, but large enough to shelter the fiercest animeal found in India. The forenoon passed without special insident, though the spoor of a herd of elephants was observed: It was the opinion of Mr. Godhin that it was not worth while to attempt to eapiure any of them, sines there are always so many lame ones to be had at a fair price, and that is the most practical way of seauring them. Tom Bradford, however, thought that It would be a fine thiog to make prisoners of some of the huge beaset, and more than ones he deolared thathe meant to make the attempt when a favourable opportunity presented. It was yet early in the afternoon when the partysought placee to rest until the fervid heat of the day should subsldo, so as to render action less oppressive. As before, the two horses were allowed to move at will along the edge of the jangle, while the owners and the three natives stretched themselves in the shade, where the air was so boated that it wou!d be an error to speak of it as cool' ol n any seneepleasant. SThis Is a fine company of hunters,' remarked Tom, with a smile, as he looked around and observed that everyone except himself was sound aseleep. 'This crowd is of no uee to me,' thought Tom, who was never more wide-awake in all his life, ' and I wish something would turn up to keep me from fooling so plagued lonely-hello ! The sound which seemed to be in answer to the expreased wish of the youth was a whblffing snort, not dietinootive enough, however, for him to identify It. He listened, but did not hear It a second time, though he knew it was not far off, and it was so ditinoct that it was easy to tell the point whence it came ' I hope it isn't another tiger,' he muttered, taking hie rifle from where it was leaning against a tree, ' and it doesn't sound like one.:. But whether tiger, lieon, or elephant, hero goes to have a look at him I' (TO on CONTI~rUD )