|Chapter Title||A PLUCKY FIGHT|
|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, SEAROHNG . FOR OtURIOSITIES IN " INDIA FOR MY SIHOW. ;J'BYP..T. Daassnooe. Long as was the journey of Athoor and Zip, that of Tom Bradford and Mr. Godkin was much' longer, for thoyeworo compelled to follow the line of rsilway to Bombay (fully aas?far ;as: faslras); and thieannearly' twice as 5fair-in a north-east'direotion,' to" Allahabad on the Ganges, after ivhich many miles remained to be passed before reach ing Luckuow to the north-west. The distanco.was .not great to..Hydera bad, whereo they ?parted company .with Ned IHadley, who warmly shook their hands, * uniting with them in the hope that they would soon mneet aguis. Without attempting to das'riboethe long trip to Lutcknow, lot nmo' ipily: sy that our two friends arrived there in duo thte. Calling upon 3Mr. Jarvis, who had charge of the curiosities shipped to him. from tihe south, they were found to be in excellent condition; while he was ready to tkoe charge, of everything else they night chose to forward to his care. At Luckuow, as :Mr. Godkin antieipa~ed, he founid quite a mail frnnidifferont points in India, inviting him to inspect the respective sections to purchase or hunt for the turiosities named. Ho decided, however, since the good fortune that attended his efforts in the Nizam, and to the inmnedinto south of Lucknow, to prose cute his search in the latter neighbourhood, where he was confident of sdcurnug what he needed. S'The first natural query was aits to tle where '..:sabouts of, th'i"ttivJes, :Jim, Jo, Jack, and ??'iow'onIthoe jvi6bus d to jboi thei dthbets. Th:y: Thoehad beie huntinig is n deulto7 'way, " and bad killed a number of a tiinals, eolid ing a savage elephanti, blit'werooevidently awaiting the coming of Tont and Mr. Godkin to decide what beasts they wished to capturo for the purpose of shipping to America. Oui friends were quite suro that the natives would be found at the Ihut of their frioud by the wayside, -which had been utilised so often by till. Thither, therefore, they directed their way, ridinif the horses that haud been left at Luck now for that purposo. Sure enough, when Tosu t and dtr. Godkiln drew reins in front of the well-remembered structire, they were greeted by sIll four of their servants, including tile owner of the lut and his sister, who aet4d o as his housekeeper. As may be supposed, the white mton and lad received the warmest of welcomes, for the natives, like Athoor and Zip, were attached to such liberal monployros, wiho were always ready to appreciat the services of those who toiled for them. Tom gave an accountof their adventures in the Nizam, to which his auditorsa listened with the deepest interest. IIis uarrativoe was wondorful, indeed, as I am sure you will ad mit; but there was nothing too incredible for the natives to believe. Had the lad told them that theoy vanqutishoed all of King Homma's men, in a fiiar stand-up fight, and then, making wings foethemselves, flew all the way northward to Lucknow, I suspetL their listeners would have believed theln. Tho'exploits of Toom, front the beoiningg of his adventures in that section, were of a nature to command the unbomuded Iadnira tion of the natives, who had' noev seen his equal. Besides, as I have slowvn, mSy plucky yaoung friend possestsed, a- native modesty, which, though often severely tried, 'never deserted him, and made hint friends whefover he went. Their host, like others whom Tom and M3r. Goddin met, was of low caste, so that he and his sister were free to neact the parts of servants in waiting upon their visitors. - Tom and M3r. Godkidn had started so late the day before that they were obliged to spend' onte night oai the road, reacling the native hut so early in the day that they had not yet partaken of their morning meal. 'Front tlhteeigihbonrin'' well the host drow 'vater for- dri?oting a'i d'bllitlng, *thile his sister ground thie graiin in a-hatndniill, tund soon produced a goodly mbuuer'of ' tortillas,' it species of gruam porridge, known as ' dal bhat.' No food cosldl hvo been more acceptable to our friends, who ate their fill rid then bought enough to'last them several daiys; for, as I have already reminuded you, le saustenance is required in warms countries than it ctold ones. JBefore the p'rty bade their native hIostind hostess good-bye, with a promise to return to their linut as soon itas they could make it con vesient, they became interested inr a sniull animal, which was evidently sa favourite with the stisn anud woman. During the morning meal glimpses were caught of the little ereaturo moviIg shyly iabout, occnsionallypeeping:ouriously ait tihe visitors, ntud then whisking out of sight whetn nuyone nmdu a movement toward it. It Ininy be a curiosity worth buying,' re marked Tom, after the mieal was over. ' Do you know what it is ?' usked Mr. Codkin.i . ' I haven't uhad a fair view of it, bnt I sus pect it is an ichnieumon.' 'Tihat's whast it is; tlhey ai great pots in many tnative families, and you kntow how ex eeddingly tseful they alre in pratecting tiohe ipeople from tihe snakes.' Tole host being appealed to, said lie hlad owned ..the ichnounnon for a year, having caughbt it when'young, and kept it in his lut ever Sie ce. It watss it great favourite with, himself nod sister; but, like everybody else with ia prize, he was willing to part with it for a pro per monetary consideration. The native at this point made a chirping noise, and the iehnltunon darted front the inner roomt, botumded upon' the knee of his master, anud whisked about his head and shoulders like a pet squirrel oioerrmlunitg with .high spirits... ' I don't Suippose Ie would -nisko: friends With strangers,' said Tom, mtuch entertitned by its antics ; ' but I have no doubt--' The master had givcis a signal of his own, wehich the intelligent ninut understood, for it took a flying leap, and, landing in Tomt's lip, frolicked about hint with wonderful nim bleness; ind, before the lad could seize it, it ;- was-spot ng aroutd 3Mr. Godkin i" the' sanmo "-lively fasli.on. ' ,.Tho native stated,- in his brdkmiinya ,that iei rstecd tliero.was a large "qnbess thait:hai i; le? hi'ding under ths houba forebi?ae l das, -wlhere the pot iotsihiouioioeuild not got at t; . that is; so as to have a fair chanc, for the :." nital is too w?ise to attack one of tlhose foutrftl -ep"llos withloUt havitng anu equli clhauco with imm. ' - ' If yout wrill coax the 'snake ofroe undertthl nilldin-, sheire w ctan see the fight,' said irf. GolaUd, i I will ]pay you for the exhlibi ¢tion.' 'The black eyes of thie native sparkledl, aud Ite replied that hle wouvld try. Rising to his feeoot he took i smill hollow reed froms i shelf at one comer of the nost, and thoue beckoned his visitors to followi him outside. . They promptly did so, for all understood thie meaning of theo iovement.t. STiets sister took chargo 'of'the iohesusnon, S'hllh .showed its follndness for her by tneat o ug abhout her nsek, as though it mseant to euddle there for tlse rest of the day. ' PiThe native tnd the rest of the party took tlheir plhees on the opposite side of the roNd, titnisdtug over a dozent yardis fromni the hut. SHere thleygroGped thnsemluVes sde by side, whileho, ituscrtiungon end of the reed in his ' snottlti, began to blow it, using his fingers -over the holes its thle side of the instranont to modhulato its tones, wiohh; were ,thin,' ?unbnssutnous, a snd saonethntg lko thoseo 'f a ' .n'o' cibLra as yos mow,;: is noted for its iingular fou-inss for mus'h, ad some of,thl . .eorhibltions of tlto Esmt Inditaus with ths :desdly serpents are wonderftl. -T Pi?he ichnonn seemned to lUderstalld tle hmeanlng.of the prfonuane, 'fur he I nised 'up his head nod lts bulantk, hiss;lliko eyes ap eared to take oi a brighter glitter, ua f it titcipatism td tho rnro sport at hand. 'Tdw, if thla ibobrar ould be chartned from 'Iis hiding phieo. u$er 'tlh0 hut,. there was
danger that he ,6vould l trnlabut 'and glide bacic, if the ichneumon should start forhim, after which it w6tild be impossible to induce it to slow up again. To guard agasistthis, the woman, holding the animal in her arms, recrossed. the roar and stationed herself on the same side with the hut, but some paces distant. -H r intention was to restrain the animal, iutil the snake advanced far enough to permit the ichnounon to out off his retreat, then a fight wonld'bd inevitable. , Thodroning, reedy monotone lasted some minutes, until the spectators began to fear the Supent, if there was one bcneath the structure, could not be coaxed out; but the migiving was no more than formed when the frightful head appeared just beneath the hut, as if secking to spy out the land before venturing forth. It rcemained stationary another nmiiute, during which nonobf the party moved, udless wo except the lingers of the musician.' Ihy-and-bye, tie reptile seemed to con cludo that tihe miiiu was sweet enough to nake o a closer acquaintance desirnble, and began issuing out. ' By gracious ! i's a largo one,' whispered Tom, with a strange ' crawly' feeling, such as came over hinm soame time before when lie awoke to the fact that he had one of the creatures for a rout-mnate. This specimen was nearly five feet in length, a'id in its thickest part its' diameter equalled a man's wrist. One bite fromn such Sa reptile would kill any living animal in a few minutes as surely as if ioe were smitten by a lightning strokeo. SIt is doomed,' said lr. Godkin in reply, 'for if the ichnlemon doesn't finish it, l will.' ' 'Your sentinients' ire my own,' replied Tonim. STil cobra glided slowly forward until near the middle of thi dusty ' highway when it ,ciedtoelevoit had approachd ppronchQ as,near to. that roiwvd as'wasdesirable.: - ; So itstoppeid and began slowly. rissing i its nead, with a curious, rhytlhni swaying froul side to side in response to tie mu.i). At this moment the native stopped playing, for his sister, seeing that the serpent was too far from its retreat to get back, stooped over and released the excited ichneumon, which at once ran toward the cobra. The ltter was quick to detect its danger, and it must have seemed a disagreeable change from the pleasing strains to the discovery that it was obliged to make a fight for its life. With great quickness it swung round, so as to turn its ihead toward the aninial, and hold itself ready to.ropel his attack. The spectacled eyes, the expaitded hood, and the uplifted head forned onl of the most terrifying sights that ean be conceived, for everyonio knew that tie sacs at the root of the fangs in its jaw were fllLed almost to bursting with omne of the most virulent animal poisons known to toxicology. It thrilled everyone, witl' admiration to observe the little ichneuimon trot nimbly forward, until not quite within reach of hid eney, when lie stopped, and, like i skilful plgilhst, awaited an ooening for an attack. 'He moved softly Laok and forth, as if seeking to get to the rear of the serpent, bat the latter was too watchful, and turned with him so as to present a front at all times. Meanwhile, the cobra was also watching its opportunity, and it secured it the next instant. 'I'he ichneumon ventured within roach, and lte frightful head darted forivard with such arrowy swiftnessIthat tie eye could scarcely follow the movement. But the animial must have been sneking to drawlthe blow, for, quick as it was, he dodged the fangs by leaping a couple of feet straight up in the air, us if from a spring-board, comnitag down so quiclly that he buried his teeth in the neck of the snake before it could jerk it back to its former position. The Vwound was a severe one, but it was iar fron incapacitating the serpent, which struck again with such marvellous celerity tliat it landed the blow full in the shoulder of the plucky ichneumon. ' He s done for ' gasped Tom, ' let's shoot the cobra.' ' Hold on; not yet.' The second time the inimal caught the snkeu just back of its head, and he now held fast, despite the furiois struggles of the. reptile to free itself and deliver a second blow. . i The sharp teeth out into the serpent like razo-r, and before anyone expected it, he had actually gctwed the head free from the bedy, which writhed for several miintes before it became still. Tom would have hurrahed and throwni his iat in the iir, but for his four that the ichneumon had been fatally wounded by the bite that lie saw hlim receive. The little animal, having conquered his dreadful enemy, wheeled about and raipidly scamnpered off toward i grovo of trees that grew at no great distance. ' He las gone to uro r iisniielf of the bite, !ani hohle sn't much time to spare,' remarked Mir. Godkin. ' I have heard that the ichneumon does not nulfer from the bite of a cobrn, the same as it is clained that hogs will grow fat on rattle niskes in our country; but the question is disputed, and I could never understanid how it is the creaturo can be exempt from the effects of such a nmalignant poison.' 'Ify belief is that ihe is only partially exempt,' replied Mr. Godkin. ' Ibelieve lie would die unless he had help, which he hlas gono to secure.' SIt is some vegefable, of course.' It is the root of a plant know as the lmo i re TxceZil. (ro aIcoxxIu.uI.