|Chapter Title||THE BATTLE IN THE CLOUDS|
|Newspaper Title||Kyabram Union (Vic. : 1886 - 1894)|
|Trove Title||My Plucky Boy Tom; or, Searching for Curiosities in India for My Show|
STHE YOUNG -FOLKS. MY PLUCKY BOY TOM oR,: SEARCHING FOR' CURIOSITIES IN INDIA FOt MY ?BHOW. - 11r P: T. BD in.ro. Cir.ulrn XLII. Tmn Bcror.r t n m.CLouns. "For th6e:niomnht; Toin :Bradfordl .was obliged to givo ovcrospeculnting as to how ho was over to get down from his dizzy. proh, and devoteo himself. to meeting tho: danger which threatened. him in the unexpected return of the infuriated aw-wolo-oo. .The bird ga'o utteranco to a ringing cry and then struck at him with both claws. Tom had good cause to dread a blow from them, and skillfully dodged it by ducking his fIadd and shoulders with soch suddenness that the aw-wole-oo missed him haltogether. She did not check her speed at the moment of striking, her intention: having been to deliver her blow while under ' full sail,' as 00may becsaid. She, therefore, passed fifty feet beyond, circled about, and ascending far above him, poised herself an instant, as if she was going to drop like a cannon-ball upon his head, .as she was in the habit of doing'when spearing a fish for her meanl. ' If I had brought'my rifle with me,' re flected the lad, 'I would soon settle your hash. I wonder why Mr. Godkin or Athoor do not give you a shot. : " It aildenly occurred to the lad, that the nest of his enemy might be turned into a fort; it-least to tho extent of preventing the bird from, pouncing down upon him: from its elevation."; As. uiockl das:possible ho' orawled -a:fsr .benieathe shelving roof as ho could :get, 'which was far' dihoig to'shut hi'atont from the sighlit of tho"aw-wolo-oo, so long as'-she fpoised herself in` the air abovo,''. i: ' - In order to 'do . this.the-lad 'had to ,run Ssome risk of breaking the eggs, ifor :his Squarters wero .cramped. Even :in ,that trying, moment, when ho was in such haste; She moved so - carefully that heo' avoided fracturing them, though that was a small matter to occupy his thoughts at such a time. " 1 There must have been a streak profound of stupidity in the composition of the hugo bird of such bewildering plumage and enormous I spread of wing, for her course -indicated that she behoved her : enemy, instead of being in hiding on the top of the column, had. taken 'his departure, 'impossible though' that i exploit was; for, 'instead of descending to repeat her assault, she circled, about several a times, rising still higher with each- revolu tion, and then sailed away over the lake, as i though there were nofurther call to defend p her home.. . Tom waitediwhero he ~ a'soeveralminutes, and then, as he peeped forth, without seing "anything of his foe,' emerged and began Slooking for her. - a Far across the lake, nta vistheight,hosaw o the bird, a mere speak .in the distance, growing fainter and fainter, until she finilly passed beyond his field of vision. Once more Tom opened communication with his friends below, whose distress was fully equal to his. But, as lio peered over the edge of the rocks, heo saw only Mr. God kin. k' Where is Athoor ?' he asked. 'Trying to climb up to you.' r What for ? He can't reach me, and what a good will it do 1' 'gI im afraid no good at all, but you wrill o soon know.' Just then the lad observed th ,sinewy native steadily making his wa up the shorter column, just as the lad himself had t done a short time before. The sight of the SIlasso eoiled about his waist intuiated the a schem lie had in nind,tthluogh it awakened 1 no hope in the breast of the youth. Arriving at last at the top of the loaning o tower, Athoor stood on the jagged top, where, with the lasso in hand; ho braced himself.to fling'the.loop at the lad, sixty feet a above. S He-shook his head as he dlid so, tb indicate .tthat he had.little belief in his success, while the object of his atteoition had none at all: -But all the umrd, Athoornmidothe attempt. He was not skilled: in throwing the lasso, nor indeed was Carl Godidn, so'that one was a sure to do aswellas the the oher, but the most expert lassoist living will tell you that it is r utterly impossible to hurl the coil at the'nd i to a perpendicular height' of twenty yards. SIndeed, I do not believe that 'it can be flung I with anything like acouras for that distance on the grond . SNeither theo East Indian nor Tom Bradford, Sthlerfore, was surprised when the loop which was thrown with remarkable, strength and skillfor a novice,barelyicended one-half the intervening space. ' ' SSo utter was the failure, that the sorrowil?g Athoor shook his head,, and did 'not'.repeat thieeffort, for he .knew it was impossible to d do any better, if ihidced he could-do as well. ' If you could only .descend the side of the columnwhero younare standing,' said Athoor, ' rutil low enough to reach the rope which I s would throw you, you could fasten the end to some projection near you, and slide down i to me.'. 'I have thought of that,' replied Tom; ' but there are not enough projectionn on the r side to sapport a cat.' Such was the fact. . His friend was utterly powerless to give him the least holp: ' I manly as well go ?ack,' said Atlioor seeingo.th inupoesibility of the plan before lhe referred to it. At this moment'a shout was heard fromn i Mr. Gdlkiu on the beach fir below. 'Look out ! the bird is returning ! TA i rtime it is the. mle,, too, and he will fight l horer than the otler.' Shoot him i' called Tom, who felt no reiish for the inipeiding bout;: . SAthoor, mi snmatter of course, .iad loft hie Sgaim behind, and for. the sam roeason that .Tqm had-done so,.he could dou nothing to w'an'off the impending attack... .Tho lnd.was.lying,on hins fe; biit riing to a sitting postulre; he oldoked arouid fir his 'mueniy. :; . i h S' His heart sank l withi .him when ho saw tlhat r. Oodilkni had'spioki tho truthl .It ~i'a the mle, .which was' cominng to the defen3d of his partntr a homo ,. 7This 1ani appiarent, not orily from the greater blrilliancy of his fantastic colouring you know how muoh handsomorthemalo bird anid beaist are than the femanlo--but from ifs superior sizne it being fully one-fourth lirger an the female. ... .... Tom Bradford had good causo.fto dread a4 encountor.with:.hir?Im ad not knowing.what oel he could do, he lilon' no time in resorting to the same refuge as before.. He scrambled into the partly covered nest 'with a haste that.would.havo been laughable were the seituation lee critical. I' Iwish I. could.mako terms with him,' thought Tom. 'I.would agree not to harm these eggs if he will lot me alone, but if lieho attacks me I will smash them both.' The male was too wise to make the mistalo 'of his partner, who seemed to have concludedl that her enemy had left simply because .ho was invisible, though the comtng of the male govo colourto the theorytha sho had gone off to tell himn of the strange danger that threat enedl her homo. * It is inot unlikely that he caught sight of a shapely pair of leg as they vanished in the coverd: nost, and ,he 'proceeded to go for the intniderwith' a rim, cominpared to which the assult of-the female,was calm an a babe's T'l opition of Tom Bradford gave him more idvantage tlin would.bosupponed. H ad he stayed out doors,' it would have been hard to withstand tho .savage ansault of the mnlo aw-wolo-oo, who could have made a good fight against a cheotah or even a parnther; but in order to enuull the lad, he was obliged to do so in a way to which he was altogother unaeentomed.,n . 'YWhat ho reqnuitd was the opportunity to deseribo his short," quice cirmles, ss'ooping dbwnward as hle observed an 'opening' in the defence of his foo, and delicrr the terriflic blows with hisnchiws, ilstlitly dartilig aloft againr and ropecatn his fleron assault until hfa victim ocume .' i. SInstead of doing that, he was forced to fly horizontally.sat Tom, whoso. quarters wes nso ernmped that they increasedl the disadvan tago untder which his. assailant aboured, for his enotiioms spread of wing lsht hi n a ut from ountering without 'taking in srollli~'
oftcourse thd fomulo always did when about to sit on her nest. : Conscious of all this, Tom Bradford lay iartly over on his back with his feet drawn up, ready to let drive with both tho instant his.strange enemy camewithin roach. .Ho did not have to wait lon. - .There was a sudden iujshiig sound, a swoop, a darkening of the air, anoi the mnale anw-wole-oo• had lit, and straightway went for the lid. Like the bull of. which. you have hoard, that attempted to.butt.thl.locoinotivo off the 'track, the assailanmt showed more- zeal th Ln discretio n; for, rumble to'reach the crouch ing lad, its he wished 'to db; with' his claws, he folded his vast :wings at his side, and unhesitatingly pushed into the cavity after 'him. Before he eould bring his natural weapons itnto plsay, Toim let him have it with his feet. You intow what an ithlilto my'plucky friend was, and I needll not-tell you that he put all the foore of which ho was master into that double kick... The ow-wole-oo was casily'domoraliscd, and tmnbledl over backward, as though partly stunned. Darting out front his hiding-place beforeo theobird could recover, Tom grasped an anklo in each hlinid with ia griplike death. This leg, or ankle, if it be proper to all' it such,. was fullytwo inehes in diameter, and asa hard as hammeaccl' metil. .Tom 'had seized each just -abvoe the claws,, whioh were tho,third of,.a foot in length and of needle-like sharpness. . .. So long as hie maintlrined his hold, 'the aw wolo-co could not harm him. . The bird waos quick' to regain' mastery of himself, and realising that he had suddenly become 'a deftnder instead of nassiilat, he strove desperately to shake off his enemoy..i Tom compressed heis liis 'iand held; on with might and .naiti, ;his purpose being to wodrk his feet around so as to reach the .head of the bird, and then, after kicking it into isensi bility,: to kill it" before it could .regain.its strength. But for. the timee h had all he' could do to retain his hold without trying ansytling with his feet.' - The struggles of the aw-wolo-oo were so furious that despite overything the lad could do to prevent it, he was dragged toward the edge of the rock. Athoor, who knew that a florce fight was going on abovo his head, could catch only partial glimpses of the conmnltants, because of 'the interposing rock; but, suddenly, to his horror, he sa?w Tom and the bird min gled together, and struggling on the very margin of the top of the colmm. - Let go-let go I'..called ti e terrifiel native, ' or you.will fall i' But Totm did not let go I Cua'TEn XLIII.-OVEn Tcs DEMOe's NEDL. . . No; Totm. Bradford held fast to 'the furionsly-struggling aw-wole-oo, oven when on thepdlgc of theDetmon''s Needle, hundreds of feet above the earth and lake. The next instant the two went over.: Once more in the clear air, untrammeled by any interposing obstacle, the. gigantio bird spread out his vast stretch of wing and was himuelf again. . - But hoe could not shake off that inoubus, whoso fingers clasped his legs like rings of iron, and whose .. weight, even with all his astonishing strength, he oould .not sup port. . The hugo wings fanned the air like the revolving fat? s of somogrest.engino, and Toi Bradford 'elmng fast, fully alive to his appalling position. ... .Lookin up'*from theground, Mr. Godkitu plainly saw his youingfriend, hisfeet hanging strailht down ind his body in the position of a swiuLner loeaping frotm a great height into the water. lroth ihands recheod directly up ward from his sioualders, with the fingors en circling the legs of the aw-wole-oo, that had tired out that .part of his anatomy and allowed his feet to hang down under the strain, without any ofrfrt to free himself of his tenacious unlvorsary. At ;resent hio throw all his powerandmiglih into his wings. I lavo ito doilit that, tuder- stress, tlhei gigattio. bird lcould lhave carried a. fifty pound fish to his porch, hut Tom Bradford, .with considerably more thlan double that weight, was beyond his strength, though.'he put forth a prodiglios and. ltnug-continued effort to keep him aloft.'. " / ' . The consequence was that, whle the aw wole-oo sailed steadily out over the lako,. he also steadily descended, sloping downward as gently as a feather, until at last Tom Brad ford saw the gloamuning 'surface 'loes than twenty feet below him. At this instant he lot go, and, strildng the wator, sank a dioze feet, with less shock than he haId often felt in diving in sport with his plhayn:teat home: , . irlieved of his resistless woight, the aw woilo-co shot upward like a balloon when all the blllast is flung from the car. Ho wa ton, glad to gain his freedom to give ally further attention to the enomy he lhad been so eager to attack a short tinto before. Upward he uaendel, higher and higher, until far beyond the reach of any rifle shot, when ihe sailed away in the direction taken a?y his mate, finally vanishing as (lid she in the clear, glowing sky. ? -::More than likely, when the singular eouple met, they 'compared notes,; and caoh mus have had a strange story to tell of what took pheo 'on the top of the' Demon's Noedle, whore they had built their nest so many years in satfety. 'A moment after Toin sank in the lake, hi. head reappeared, atid, blowing the water from his moutht, he strnik out for the shore,' with the ease and grace of a profetsidonl swimmer. H..is dread was that the splash might, haw attracted another of the electrical monstoer torthe' spEot, who would'givohim'a fatal shock 'before he could-ieach land. He therefore swami noi rapidly and silently as possiblo, scaniming the watei in evory direction in quest of the-dreaded creatures. - .,o ,rotarttel;y,,howovsr, none prhed and; stepl)ping ost. on the lomr afow minutes later, lie shook the hand of Mr. Godki' apsd 'Athoor ini taun, iveoiving their congratulatiosj on the wonderful gool fortune- that had brought him safely'down from the top of the 'Deuon'sNecllo. : Iconsider it pa marvellona as our es?cpe from the whirlioolby means of. the laseoal fish,' said Mr. odklin, tolwhom, at timos, it seemedl uasif they htd entered- wonderland, where Naturoe suspended her ordinary laws., S': I shlul always look upon our escapo. from thie whirlpool in the lake. as .the' nearest approach to. a miracle that ws ha -esover known in this life,' replied Tom, deeply 'im pressed by. the amasasug occurrences of the day; ' but, when you come to think of what has just' taken plac there is nothing so woderftul about It after all.' ' Why not 1'. ' Bcauseo everytling was natural, and I have no dotbt that otllher person besides meo have haid sinilaroxporienmts.' - It miy be,' mid Mr. Godkin, ' blit, if so, I never heard of it.' - . 'In the. first plaeoo,' continued Tom, ' it was the most natural thing in theo.world that 'I should grasp the legs of;the aw-wolo-oo; to keep him from rending mo with his elaws. In fast, tlheoro wasn't anythitg .elso that I 'could do.' .Ha tyouan ylidea of using hins as a paraehuto at that time 1' " . 'Not the remotest.' ' Did yon xpect to hold lsim by his hgs until you tired bils ' ' -." ' 'I know fAha was impossiMle, but I hoiae.l to koop thaso fearftl, elaws loamles.until I could use my feet on his head. I oxpected to stun lbhim o thetI could stamp the'lifo out of him.' 'Why didia't. you let go whoat I shouted to yout'.-aked Atlhoor. 'Did you call tomo There was so much swirling and rtmhing and roaring arounl me, that I hlerd. nothing else. I'expotedl Mr. Godlkin ti shoot the bird wheti he camo after me.' . "' 'I tmeantn to try tdo od, but erred. I holdi my riflo cocked, and intended to ire just as ho was pandihg ovemr thai'edgne of the rook and wai tlto'nbarest to me, but I woaited too long. Bofore I ebluld ?tuike mys:aim good, he was oiut of sight: It was foritunatoe that I did not re.t' ' And why.?' " - SI would hlavd'takmen iawayyouronly meaplas of scanppe.'.. "" -M "X mano IIot' sOro oe tl'iif ll 2loTduawithi
a quizical oexre.sion; ' I don't belieove you would have hit himn.' 'I doubt it myself,' laughed Mr. Godina, Sfor it was a difioult shot for a skilful markem?in. When you appeared again, you and the biird were so closely Interlocked, that I dared not risk a shot,'and by that time, too, it flashed upon me that ho might render you the vory service that he did, though hardly in the brlliant- style which he showed.' ' When did it strike you that your enemy inight become your ally t' asked Athoor. ' When I made the discovery that we were on the edge of the rock. I was on the point of letting go ; butIknow, ifI did so, he would attack me before I could reach the nest, and I tholght, if I held on, he would work back again. Instead of doing that, lie went over before I knew it. At that moment, I sup posed we would both go straight to the ground or water, and I hoped I might use him as a partial shield to break my fall; but, as my 1 legs straightened out, and I caught sight of the water, seemingly a mile below, it flashed upon me that the aw-wole-oo was going to make the best parachute in the world, as he r really did.' ' Yore there any eggs in the nest P' 1 Two, as wonderfully colored asis the bird itself. *' Why didn't you bring them down, that 1 we niight have them hatched in the sun P' a' skedlAthoor h Tom laighed and shook his head. ' I had no time to think of that; I was well enough satisfied to get down myself.' We are going to have i lot of curiosities for Mr.'Bar-! num, but we musttn't `expect to secure every f thing..' One that the Greatest Show on Earth will have to get along without, is the strange Sbird that makes its homo by the Sacred Lake of Nizam.' - I' 'Tho truth is,' said Atlioor,thoughltfully, k 'that w huaven't as yet obtained lanythling to o sendhim' - ' 1rMy object in coming here,' remarked Mrr. a Godkin, 'in-answer to your letter to Luck now, was to- secure- that rare lion which Schewed up poor Zugg and got us into such a I scerape with the Wild LMen of the Mountains.' ' I expect yet to secure him,' replied Athoor. : His companions looked up in surprise. - d ' The beast is thorouhly tamed, y his ex e perlence with that muzzle, and we haveonly to find-him to make him prisoner.' ' I shall be satisfied if we are able to take y himback with'us,' said Mr. Godkin, 'for there o are still a number of curiositiesto be obtained o n the neighborhood of Lucknow, where Jim, Jack and Jo are awaiting our return.' - ' nut where shall we look for the lion f' was the natural query of Tom Bradford. SlIe will return to the section where we first met him, and 'if the Wild Men. don't bother us, I can think of no reason why we should not make a captive of the king of beits.' - " And that reminds me,' said-Tom, looking o arouind with a sitartled expression, ' that yoie n said they were likely to hurry to this side of n the lkoe in earch of us.' L Yea, end there theyare !' No need of the exclamation of Athoor, for at that moment, not a dozen, but fully fifty d of the Wild Mon of the Mountains swarmed s down the rocks like a torrent. They were hardly a hundred yards away, in the direction of the raft. , At their head was the tall figure of King ' Homma himself, brandishing an immense javelin, and uttering fierce shouts that were echoed by his savage warriors rushing for e ward immediately behind him. - - - The party that had been beaten off on the other side of the lake must have signalled to the village, or possibly. had sent a runner there, whose story so fired the savage despot that lie hastily collected his best men and set , off in hot speed. Wohile Tom Bradford was undergoing his stirring experience with the strange' bird on top of the Demon's Needle, the Wild MLen d had improved the opportunity to hasten to d the spot, where they arrived before otr friends had time to turn their thoughts to them. . '?3y gracious I' - exclaimed - Mr. Godkin, t 'there are too-many for us to fight here; lead tho way, Athoor. to whore we can make some sort of. defence.' ' I know of none, but come on 1' oxclaimed the siative, bounding - off like an antelope, - with his frieoids at his heels. " (ro a cosIONes.-.-)