|Chapter Title||AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER|
|Newspaper Title||Kyabram Union (Vic. : 1886 - 1894)|
|Trove Title||My Plucky Boy Tom; or, Searching for Curiosities in India for My Show|
THE YOUNG FOLKS. -MY PLUCKY BOY TOM; OR, SEAROHING FOR CURIOSITIES IN INDIA FOR MY SHIOW. Bs P. T. BAInOr. "iCstra IE XIIII.--A' U?EvXrnCED ExcousaZn. S .A few minutes later the ichneumon came mscampering back, as lively and frolicsome as ever.. Runnhinglto the woman, it leaped into her arms and revolved around her shoulders and head with bewildering quickness, seemingly all unconscious that it had performed such a remarkable exploit. But our friends naturally wished to make aeoso investigation. So the remains of the cobra were kicked to one side, and the ichneumon carefully inspected. That it had been bitten there could be no doubt," for in its shoulder was the wound made by the terrible fangs of the cobra, which had entered the flesh and caused several drops of blood to flow. Bat there was no visible swelling, and a certain pungent odour about the mouth of the animal showed that he had been eating some kind of a vegetable growth. . Whether the ichneumon can survivo the bite of a cobra without the help of some medicinal herb I am not prepared to say, though there is excellent authority for be lieving he can do so; but the incident I have' described seemed to point the other Elveryone expressed his strongest admira tion for the bravo little fellow, and Mr; Godkin and Tom Bradford concluded they must have the animal to send to me, even though compelled to pay double the ordinary suppose it asgumed a greater value in ati ?:.theifeyes because, like a celebrated racer, it ". '" possessed a ' record.' SWell,' said the elder, after giving the woman a handsome bonus, ' it is yet early in the day, and we munt lose no more time in getting to work.' It was decided by our friends to constitute the hut their' headquarters, returning to it whenever inclined, while they mado excur sions into the surrounding country inquest of curiosities. The direction taken by the party led them to a portion of the smoa jungle whero they had had their stirring adventures before. the trip to the Nizam. Since their horses were useless in the dense wood, they were left with the native, who could' be relied upon to give them the best of care.; It was natural to expect a greater success by a division of the party, though not to the extentof sending them all in different direc tions., The natives, therefore, were bidden to nmke search in one quarter, while . Mr. Godkin add Tom did the same in another. If either partyb should require the services of the other, they could be readily obtained by means of sinals. It had come to be the practice of Mer. iGodkin to put Tom to the front when making these little excursions. You understand, of course, that his only object in this practice was to give his plunky comrade the best possible show. The elder was always so close . at hand that he could furnish any help that might be called for. ?RIteaching the same stream, which both had noticed before, the arrangement that Ishavo noticed was repeated, though Tom protested becauseo it senteed to be showing hun more favour than he was entitled to.,. Confident that his young friend would not have to go far before discovering something, Mr. Gsodkinmanaged'to fall behind until theo ]ad was barely visible as he picked his way forward with the care of a real Indian. Sure enough, before long, Tom suddenly stopped and turning about waved his hand fortlhs gentleman to keep silent. The expression of the lad's countenanco showed that he had made a startling dis :overy. 'I wonder what it can be,' thoughlt Mr. Godkin, who stopped in his path listening, looking aud speculating as to whattnew adventure was at hand. -Tos Bradford was picking his way along the stream with the utmost care, when' a faint 'splashing apprised him that some animated object was just in front of him. Parting the undergrowth he caught sight of an extraordinary birth, whose idovtity he recognised at once. ,Standing in an erect attitude, it was'fully sixxfect high, while its extended wings would have measured fifteen feet from tip to tip. Its legs were extremely long, and it stoed so far out in the stroeam that half of them were inonersed. Its head and neck were nearly bare, a sausage-like pouch hanging from the under plrt of its neck, while its bill was of enormous This remarkable bird (Leptopilfs aglasi) has b?en ichristened, by the 'English'residents of India the ' adjutant,' and a generation ago it was entirely unknowunto naturalists. The uipper part of its thighs furnish beautiful plhned, msuperior to'those of 'the ostrich. The splash which warned Tom of its proximity was caused by the darting of its huge bil under the water and the snatching up of a fish that weighed several pounds. There was a spasmodic working of the capacius bill .for a second or two, during which the adjutant took several steps back ward, when the fish was'swallowed in its en .tirety. It is.worth stating that this extraordinary bird will dispose of rats, and even cats, in the Samnewholesale style, so that its rapacity in some respects is equal to that of the ostrich or camel bird. ' '.['ho backward steps which the bird took fbrought it out of the water, so that it stood ou shore .close to the stream. Having ob. :tanied its menlt it may have been on the point of loasing the immediato vicinity. ,.:It was at this juncture that Tom Bradford did soinething harlly in accord with the good judgmenut he generanlly showed on other occa ' Droping his gun, lie sprnsng fovrward anid thmrow Iis arms about the neck of the creature, determined to make it ia prisoner. Now, having told you thow big the adjutant was, you ethl admit that the youth was audacious to the ipint of rashness, for a bird of that size is msre to be possessed of great strength, and is equally certain to fight against capture, as was tihe ase with the famous aw-wole-os in the Nizam. :'"- As ostriclh, under such circumstalnces, would :deliver a kick-forisarid, not backwi,'d--that l.would have killed a full-grown man. "Although, as I have said, Toll Bradford k iskow thlat it was an ' adjutant' withll which he ".dad granppled, he quickly formed the opinion S.that it was a full-blossomed ' major-general. wlhe birdl was quite astonishaell, to put it uslillay, and for an instant hlie must Ihave been at a Jlss to uinderstanld lwhait it was that find gan'cpod hinn around the neck. A.'wakesuing to the fiact, hiowever, that in attack 1usd en miado upon hins, hle etruggled with a joIueu and fierceness which inot only thlreatctcd sspeedily to free himself, but to in flict seriou ultr"3' .to Isis assaiilhnt. His first act was not eitlout its element of absurdity, for opcuing his immenuse bill, he 1 caught tlhe hat aiad headL of tlhe lad betweenI the iupper and lower parts, just as he would kave done with an unusually large soriel sdi~c ehh meant to swallow. 't 'Iere was one ascond,' enid Tenom, ' when I. resa/Jled the style in which hlie hbuad gulped down the big filsh, thant I thought hlie mnight be able to seses me in thie same falshion.I I sneant to fight nattlset being nmide a JiOlsehl of, and I knuew n if I went down I wouild kick up a Iunipuia in Isis ininrior dlepalrtmetnI which wo?ld couvi?u c him ti:.'t li hshads swallowed 1 ssomething that dlidn't iagree witllh hiin.' iut if such was the intention of thle stupid * Ilrd, hie quickly gave over the ithss,'nit as is 'ains onle, and hIeganu to ine hIis legs like . Isir af pitosu rods, thlrestesing to beat lis in nsalisant to deiath .usless he relcsed hIis hold svithosut delay. iBut the very vigour of the birnl'si efforts, 'itihieai huIlsdrred and thirty odd liunds attn. ei pended alx jst his neck, eauseld himi to loss his tualaneo, ansd le ll I upon one side, still hlsp ping fdis wingis nsl ll ying his powerful hlegs pidhtf.arfd taply:. It was at this critical suefuro tshat Ifr. Godkiun bounded Ulon the uacre and took a jand.in the sitrango combat.
Throwing himself forward on his ?ands and knees, he seized one of the pounding legs, and by putting forth all his strength, held it immovable. ' Let go of his neck,' he called to Tom, ' andseize that other leg, or he will kill you.' Tonm obeyed on the instant, but for a few seconds he did not believe ;it possible to master the weapon, which feltlike a cold bar of iron in his grasp. With a sagacity that didhim credit, Mr. Godkin whipped out the bundle of strone cord whiclh he always carried witl him, and wound it around the ankles, so to speak, of the adjutant fully a dozen times, waiting till he had tied it firmly before he drew his knife and cut off the piece. The captive continued his struggles with greater fie?ceness.than before, rising to his: oet several tinmes, but instantly losing his balanco and falling down again. He kept his wings going, and a blow from either of them was enough to knock a person sense less. Once or twice he came near drowning by falling in the water and coutinuing his blind struggles, but he speedily floundered out again, and standing back out of his reach, the friends waited for him to exhaustn himself, uncertain whether his wings would not enable him to rise from the ground and soar away afterllU. By-and-by he ceased his efforts, only to renew them again on the approach of his captors, who feared more than once that he wNtild either killor seriously injure himself. Eventually the ' adjutant' quietened down, and he was snoured and taken in triumph to the village. (ro or cosrnsFc..)