Chapter 65802772

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Chapter NumberLXV
Chapter TitleA HEAVY CHARGE
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65802772
Full Date1889-03-22
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count3551
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 FOLKSt'j; MY PLUOKY BOY TOM; fc OR, SEAROHINYG FOR OURIOSITIES IN: INDIA FOR MY SHOW. - SB P. T. Banjtxa. CRaiRn 'LXV.-A HIEsv CincoiE.s .' The news that the natives had beenfollow- d ing a rhinocerois was interesting to say the g least, for our friends had no thought of meetinganyof thegigsnticanimals in that part of the coontry, though; as you know, a great n many of the one-horned variety are found in India. • Jack explained tht he' and his ci mpanionnso were tfrending their way along'the bank'; of 11 the streami, when, without the least' prelinl- o nsry warning, a hnge rhinoceros plunged through thoundergrowthnearbynndsplashed into the water. Those boasts are fond of bathing, and love ° to wallow in the mud along shore, until r their flabby skin" is o' heavily coated that u they oman defy the pestiferous insects which often make life a burden in tropical countries. Tie one which came so suddenly to view, n however, showed no disposition 'to tarry on the shore first reached,' buat sinking into the n water,-so that his hugo head and projdcting horn, with 'a small part of his body, wore slightly sabove the urfaco, he strsick out, for the other bank. " SIt was at this .juncture, that Jack began - sigsnlling nnd kept it upluntil ,the .resound-. inugblast of "om Bradford notified liin' that his nuimnons had been heair, arid would ts' oboeyed. . ' - ' , r F; earful that the beast' might eseapo them, f th natives determined to pursuno him, though 'they rain no little risk, since they were armed 'only.with spears and knives, and the species a sbmetimes proves the .most formidable of adversaries. Wr here there was such an abundance of rwood, it was an easy task to construct a i raft buoyant enough to support the three. Lo'gs and heavy branches were bound Stoget icrwvith withes,'a long polo cut with the help of their sharp knives, and the raft set out almost at the same minute that the rhinoceros rose from the water on the other I side; so you will see that the natives lost no time. S The question that naturally occurred to Tom and Mr. Godkin was what the natives expected to accomplish by pumrsing the rhinoceros, since they would not dare attack t him with their primitive weapons. At the same time, the animal conld not fall r to leave a spoor that could be followed without dilliculty. however, Jalck and his companions took up the pursuit, and. were pressing it with ardour when the second signal of Tom Brad ford reached them. STho rhinoceros is one of the most sluggish P of animals plowing ponderously through the weeds and grasses, with his frightful head n low down and his immense hanginglip only a e few inches from the ground ; and since the specimen followed by the natives was in no Slhaste to reach any point he may have had in mind, he had progressedonly a short distainco 0 when the pursuers were checked by tlihsignal n of Tom. Jack then decided to go back and guide the a man and boy to the spot, inasmuch as the raft was necessary to bring them across the l stream; and it was taken for granted that 'l they would be eager to hunt down the colossal game. S'WVo will go along, of course,' said Mr. 11 Godkin; but,' ho added, turning to his young frioend, ' we nro short of ammunition.' ' Vel have a charge in each of our rifles, .o and our pistols aroloaded ; when the weapons 10 are emptied, we shall be more defenceless' a than Jack and his friends.' The elder stood a minute, debating whether it wal not best to call back the natives, ind adjourning to the friendly lit bytlhe wayside. wherethey lihad spent a couple of nights, send e one of their number to Licknowfor a supply of ammunition, and then take up the hunt in the regular way. 'tBy that timeno he may be beyond reach,' ° suggested Ton, 'and I think itis safe to run thIe riske as it is.' r 'Very well, I am 'willing,' replied Mir. Godkin, stepping on'the raft, whero.ho was quickly followed by Tom, both sitting down i on the short log which caused them so much misgiving it short time before. ' What purpose is this meant for?' asked the hitter, referring to the log and addressing hinmself to Jack afterhe had shoved the raft out in the stream. The native smiled, so as to show his fine teeth, and replied iri his modest way: i 'Ittthere for sahib to do what hiedo.' a In other words, Jack intended the' log to 0 answer for ats set for the two passengers whom lie wasferryingneross. It was asnmall n aset on his part, but showed a thoughtfulness hardly looked for under the circumstances. The structure, which displayed much more [. buoyancy tliain would have been expected, was speedily propelled to the other bank, a where one corner was drawn far enough upon g land to provent its being carried away by the Y current. This was hardly donie whlen 1 tllhree were S tstartled by the, sotind of an object ioioving l hurriedly through the vegetation ait short distance below, iand only a little way inland. ' Something is up,' whispered Tom, placing himself in readiness for defence, whle lo r. Godkin did the same, remarking: i ' I wonder whether it can the rhinoceros.' 'It doesn't move heavily cnogh for i tit-Helloa !'gh At that moment Jim and:.To puished tl;eir 1 way into silght, their faces showing they Swere labouring under considbrublo excite meont.. Seeing their friends, they hurried to them, quickly explainiug their unexpected greeably to the plan they had fomied, thes' remained to watch the rhinocerous, whdo Jack hurried back to convoy Mr. t Godkin and Tomn to the spot. I The nnimal showed a disposltion more than once to resent their survel anee, and several times 'their situation estunmed a critical character. Finally, to their consternation, the'beast 1 swung around and started for them iat hIis heavy gait, which, after adl, often attains a' speed that puts a ivoll-trained horse to his' best. ' ' ' ' 'It is nc?edless to'say tlhat tJim an:Jo did' the' inest rnuning of' wlieh' 'th.y '..ro cat lhey ght hve escaped by elinbing, for, 1 thlough th ground at tlhati place wis mtaralshy amnd tull of grss, there wore plenty 'of liarge trees within easy reach; but by making 1 sharp bend in their course, thley thlrew elf Stheir terrible pursuer, tllough' their talarmn t was so great that they continnod their flight. Their fear was that the rhlinocerous wouild come. upon Jack or his friends so suddenly that they would .be destroyed before they Scoulddo anything to protecct'themselves. But no sight or sound resched the piarty to tell lwhere tl mnssiivo animal was. '.IHe has. grown, tired of. chasing tlhit I which 'hlo 'can't. sec,' remarked Mr. Godkin, Sand lhas gone bqsk to the grass and rushies. ' Let us follow him thlither,' said Tom, all eangernressover the prospecte of ain encousnter with such interestinggame.: "' ' ' 5' I woidan't heiitate 'a 'ninuto if we only i - hada foP mnro rounds'of' amiunition, hut as Tlio ,ipeaker checked himself, anmd every e yo 'was tunired towaird a point down the stream, where the rhinoceros!had appeared,' with the sanmoe unioxpcuted suddenness Writh which h'le first presented himself to he natives. ' t h: He had ohemrged"from to'uheuidergrowth, whilch, wilth the nsa growth of trees, was so notieebble on' loth listeres, and stood ion i the baink w'itlslis'hutge head 'and dtirvltng horn thrust no fur .fomred that tlh?ypro Jocted slightly over the edge oif the witer,. LHere ho , tood, the picture of sluggish power anid marvcllois ugliness, meditating 0 upon--alnatf • The distance between hlim and the hulnteirs tl was something like 'a' hltinidred yaids, the relatvo'sltuation 'of tho:e partics being such that they wvero ii plain viw o0f each other. i I Btt thuighi the bipedas had lIoen quick to ri disceni the uUdreuped,. the 'latter 'was 'slow., in ?utidiug thipen. ." ' al He herucd to0 gacing. sleepily across th ta

stream, undecided whether to plungo in and p swim to the other shore, to stay whore he was, or to'turn" about and go back to his feeding grounds. it Several. wisps of grass hung from his e jaws, showing that he had ceased eating rather abruptly, and no doubt had set out to chastise the dusky natives that dogged him r so persistently. 'I'bolloveho is looking for. s,' whispered h Tom, noticing that theservaits hid crouched t down, and were creeping back in the under- a growth as if,tho believed the same thing. a WI'atch hilm SThe head of the rhinoceros. slowly swung t round, something like the moving of a loco motive on a tirn-table, until his snout was i pointed toward the man and lad. For one minute he remained motionless, as if striving to grasp the idea that a couple of vietims stood so near. v 'I guess he sees us,'- said Tom... ' Thoro can b bno.doibt of it.', Thlrowas good cause for this exclamation on the part of Mr. Godkin, inasmuch as the I rhinoieros. at that, moment, charged directly upojgthemn. Csji-ren LXVI.-A SxnvoE RrDE. When one man, or a half-dozen, for-that matter, observe an angry;rhinooeros charg ing upon them from a near point, there re mains but one thing to do-that is, to effect a change of base with the loeast possible delay. SJack, Jim, and Jo had already done so. ' Not only had they hastened several rods into the wood, but each was climbing a ,tree with such eagerness that it looked as if .they would be unable to sto.p before reaching 'the topmost branch. . Now, it is not. dilffiolt: mat r hby any means for, a hunter,,to ,kill .a, rhinoceros,_ despite thabollofin,niany,iluarters' that= his flabbyarmour iinvulnirablo' against is-riflo bullot; butt Mr. Godkii and Tom felt.some uneasiness over the fact that if they should make. a bad" shot they-, woere without the means of repairing it. . ,The charging-unimal presented a striking figure; for instead of keeping upon land, hI walked in the margin of- the stream, wheor the watcr and mud caused him at times to sink until his belly touched the surface ; but he wallowed., and threshed forward with a momentum that seemed to be suflisient to overturn a ferryboat if it got in his way. . , ' Lot us take to a tree, said Mr. Godkin the moment hlie saw thei rhinoceros 'start for them ; 'wo haven't got enough ammunition to make a fight on the ground.' The advice was sensible, and Tom did not delay following it.. The two dashed away with as much. haste ias the natives who preceded them in taking to refuge. - The gentleman seized a limb within easy reach and helped himself upward, much after the manner of the lad when the buffalo bull was thundering ut his heels. To do it, however, with the expedition necessary, lie was obliged toleave his weapon' on the ground, just as Tom did. . The latter resolved to keep his gun with him, if possible, while placing hirmself beyond reach of the bulky pursuer. He ought to have used the strap by which the professional sportsman secures his weapon to ius back when riding,- but he was not thus provided, and it was only loft for him to nnitato his friends. 1lying to a sapling, no more than six Jinchesthrough, Tom sprang as high as ho could, and, grasping his rifle in hisloft hand, and using his right andboth legs, he worked 1 himself upward,wvith considerable labour, for some ten feet, where lihe seized the first limb that put out from the main body. This was a great help, and it was not hard to fling one leg astride tho~mranch and as sumo the upright position, with his gun firnly grasped. But events took a most unexpected turn. Tom Bradford, being the last of the party to seek refuge in a tree, and being only at ia moderate distance from the ground, natorally received tie first attention of the rhinoceros, which arrived on the spot just as the lad was getting himself in shape to use his gun from his perch in the crotch of the tree. The banst, cobmprehending that his intended victim was boyomnd his reach, did not attempt to climlb up after him,- but did that which was tenfold moro effective. 'Dropping hia snout, so as to canse his eighteen-inch horn to project straight for ward, lie made ai single plunge at the small tree striking it squarely in the middle of the trunk. You can' understand tlhat such a blow, backed with the moniontunm of the tons of body behind it, was practically resistless. ' The curving horn went through the green wood as easily as a fork is driven through a potato, the point passing several inches" beyond, Tho instant the head was checked the rhi noceros mhdo another furious hinge, more savagoe indeed than before, and pushed over the slivered sapling as though it were a tenpin that he had bowled down. lWhere, all this time, was Tom Bradford, Heo watched the movehionts of his foi with a depth of interest which perhaps may be imagined, but did not realiseo his own danger until lie caught the 'gleam of the yellow ivory through the bisected trunk. . The latter, being split in that fasshion, haild so lost its resistant power, that 'the lad felt himiself going, before the ruin. was completed by the second blow of the beast. 'I made a little mistake tluit time,' was his thought, as lie took a flying leap fromi his perch. His intention was to land as fa ffronm the sapling as he could, and then to try the same plhn lie usedso succes.cfilly in the case' of the buffalo bull, mianing also to secure, if possible, the refuge of which Mr. Godkin had availed himself. But at the moment of making his leap, the sapling was so violently swayed by the crash ing blow that Toms was in the sitmuation of the acrobat beneath lwhom lthe spring-board gives out, at thie inoment lie gathers himnself for ai leap from it. ' As a consequence he came down plump on the back of thirlhinoceros.. It would be' hird to saoy which -wis' the morb natonishled-boy or beast, but there cans be nd doubt that tie former kept his head much the better. . 'Quick to see whero -mo was going,- Tom balanced himself with ia skill that wasi both' natural and acquirod, oand planted his feet so that he stood upright on the broad back, his face being turned toward the horn of the lrhinioceros.. - :. : Thlo latteorstoodinotionless'a second or tive, after having drawn book from thel blow wlhichI demolished the saplfiig,aud turoed his head so' ss to see thie stnnge object oti his back. HIow to dislodge it wss the question which nio doubt stirred the sluggish brnin of the beast. S'Jump !' shouted Mr. Godkin, who, like the lh:tlu natives, was watelhilg the dex hibition with breathless interest. SThere's no hurry about it,' was tlhi reply of tie dariig youth, who was thlrilled by tie conscionsness that lhe was riding a steed which' few 'other mortals ever dared to mount. ' . " 'If you over live to.shake handls with Mr. Banrnu again,' was 'thoe thought of the genitlomlai, ' he ought to exhibit youn in one of his cegcs.' r SThe rlhinoceros, as I have said, ranks as a stspiid nimnal, but the one beneathl Toift Braslford would have- b-eeo: very stupid indeed if hlo had not basil able to conjuro up a way of slkhting 'off the iasnubus that tor-: mnoted him.------------- -- . - Turning his hesd from aide to side with more celerity than lhe had yet -shown, 'he started nff at a rapid gait, aiming for a pro jeeting brani~liwhich - was only a short dlis-. tance higher from :the ground than his back. ' His plan was to run boncathl this linb and scrapo off thle rider-a plan that wais certain in its operation.' - Both Tom and Mr.: odkin miled, wheni they saw that'tiherliliooeror?h ad' lxed npon tile very branch whiohlhadhleolped the'gentle man to a.place of sfoety. Nothing coiuld sanit me botteC,' muttered thel-hid, as the wind caused by this speed of the iboast begsin brushing by his face. ' Steadying~ hh'isolf -'ith thesajiss akdll ls I ihad lshown in balancing, Toim held himeolft ready, and graspedltholimb, the instant it was reached. The shook caused -eonaider ablb'Jur' butl he sustained himeolf withoutl trouble, au d 'the iuet minlute weas eourehry i

ernce.d within an arm's length of Mr.. (Godkin. . ' It isn't overy fellow than can be boosted into a place of safety like that,' said the exultant lad, steading himself in position. . ' You're in luck,' was the reply of his friend, ' but I think you hlad better give the rhinoeerous the benefit of your single charge.' The huge animal having freed himself of his tormentor by the most acceptable means that the latter could have asked, now stationed himself like a sentinel to watch for a chance to get at one or all of them. " h'How.logg do you suppoao ho will keep that up 1' asked Tom of his friend. - ' It is hard to say ; it may last for several hours, longer than I am willing to stand it.' 't'Well, I'll try a shot at him.: SDo ethe most oxecntion possible.' ' I'll aim for a point back of the shoulder, where I hope to reach his heart.' Tom's elevated position, however, rendered it impossible for him to securo the aim ho wished, the animal persisting also in keeping his hpad turned towards the parties perched in the trees. The lad hold his fire until his friend be came impatient; then he took a quick aim and let drive. . That' he" struck the beast was certain, though he gave slight' evidence of being hurt.. . " He movedhisheadwithsluggishirritability, bmitted a whiffling snort, and turned as if he meant to retreat. - M-Mr.. Godlkin had been waiting for this chance, and in a twinkling he had. dropped from-his perch, ran a few paces and caught up his rifle. o , i t upHe had barely- time-to bring it to his shouldor, when the rhinocerossagaln' swung around, with the urposa of returning to his placo beneath his i?tended victims.- ;':'} -, The motvment. gnvo toe heinti.tlho. &hance ho dosi?ed, and hoefired'the charge in hisgun at the very point'in the bodyof the rhinoceros that he. would lhave selected had he leeon giveonan hour in which to choose. -As before, there was no immnediatoe evidence that the hugo animal' was'struek,' whe in point of facthe was mortally wounded, and within a foew minutes of his death. Turning about, he walked a few steps with his natural steadiness, and then lie was seen to sthgger and hesitate. The next minute ho went down much the same as it load of hay; and was dead. Our friends, who had hastened thither, could not see a wound upon him, nor was a drop of blood visible. ' You know how flabby the hide of a rhinoceros is. A bullot nay pass entirely through his body, but the skin will lap over the wound in such a manneer that it is impossible for the least blood to find its way outside, and the animal bleeds to death inwardly. You will admit that the party had. had some recent stirring experience, but you will observe also that theyworonot securing many curiosities while thus engaged; True, they had already shipped a nmnber to Lucknow, to say nothing of the lion, spit fire, and mouphilon at [adras-enough of themselves to warrant far more outlay than had already been made by my agentos. Tom Bramdford expressed a desire to secure an Indian rlhinoceros to sendhome : but that was clearly impossible, unless they could fortunately find a young one that could be handled without trouble. Since it was out of their power to do anything with a full grown animal of that species, they did not hesitate to give him the contents of their guns when there came a call to do so. The first thing to be attended to was to renew their supply of ammunition, since, as you will remember, all but one or two charges had been used ii firing the powder snno within the internal regions of the crocodile. The party accordingly made their way to the hbt at the wayside, which they had established as their head-quarters, and Jed" who had become a messenger, as may be said, between the hunters and Lucknow, galloped off to the city to obtain thle indispensable supplies. And the next thrilling experience in which they became almost immediately involved was of a nature that no member, of the little bhnd dreamed or suspected. (io ti cosrisceu.)