Chapter 65703083

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Chapter NumberXLVIII
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-12-14
Page Number0
Word Count2016
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:i FOLKS. MY PLUCKY BOY TOM;' OR, SEARBHING FOR CURIOSITIES'IN INDIA FOR MY SHOW. Br P. T. BAnem., CnAxirER XLVIII.-Ts~ F -anED rv 'NExn. 'Ihe action of the mouphilon indicated that it scented danger, for it stood motionless for a full minute staring at the wood, on whoso edge the fourhunters were standing breath lessly watching the bird. All understood its perplexity, and no one moved or spoke. The glow of that extraordinary crown of fire brought the bird into plainer sight than did thiomoonlight, and its resemblanceo to a gi}mntic peacock was almost perfect. uaddenly the beacon went out, as utterly as a candle when covered with an eox tinguisher. Ono of the peculiarities of the monphilon is this power of quenching its ownlight at will. Its manner of doing so is sanple. The phosphorescenco itself is not extin guished, for manifestly that must continue to glow; but it is olbcured somewhat after the manner in which the firefly hides its light. The brilliant feathers which inclose the phosphorescent surface are crowded together and over the luminous spot, so' that not a particle of light can escape. Another peculiarity of this curious bird is its curiosity, which, like that of the western antelope, is apt to leadit to its own ruin. That it suspocted the presence of some etrange object on the edge of thoe junglo was proved when it began slowly walking toward the spot whence a slight sound must have come. Like the antelope, too, it was aware that it was doing a foolish thing, for it frequently stopped, and once or twice turned partly about, as if it had made up its mind to retreat, but its overpowering curiosity urged I it forward again. At the first stop it tookn all four of the party stepped behind the nearest trees. No one uttered a word, for it was unneces sarr, and they were'afraid to do so. Wl'hen the mouphilon made its final stop, it was no more thana dozen feet off. Great as was its desire to learn what was lurking on thoedge of the clearing, its fear would allow it to go no further.... TWhile advancing, it retained its resem blance to an immense peacock, no member of the company being able to catch the first ray of the light which so astonished them at first; but the instant it halted, the amazing crown' of fire flashed out with a brillianc?:that was like the turning on of an clecriolight, where all, a moment before, was impcntrable dask hess.. :. n So overwhelming was this glow tlhat an in Svohmltary ' AIk t'scaped"Mr. Godkiin, who mrelygave way to b lis emotioi. " - p nBy the aid of its ownlamp. the mouphilon saw. several faces pering., fro behind, the trees--faces sos staring' and wonder-smitten that it must have been terrified. ' Instead of starting .to run, as would have been supposed, it spread out its .wings hnd rose from the ground, its actiona leiingre markably quick for a bird of such size.. IlBut, quick as it" was, it was iot quick r pnongh to save itself..,- . When Tom Bradford realised that 'the mouphilon was a.ipioaclhiig the nirty,; he resolved'to effect its capture, if that were possible.. Gently leaning his gun against the tree which screned. him, hlie uncoiledhissso, and held it ready for the critical moment. . Thht camei when the bird spread its wings to leave the danggerous spot in the: shortest .possible time:. ' The lasso' was flmung with admirable 'accuracy, thecoil seacttliing over the tapering neck, where the struggles of the bird' drew it Sso taut that it was us imminent danger of strangulation. All four of the friends .ran. forward and quickly relieved it of this peril, removing the rope and holding the wings motionless. ., ' Look out I' called the dclighted?'oa, ''it may hurt ?'s !' . . S"There is no danger at all,' said Athoor; the mouphilon is as gentle as a young ralihit.' Such proved to be .the fact. The .moment a hanil was laid on .the binl,.it cnased its struggles; though Tom plaiidy felt tohe'rapid throlbing.of its heart wen .hoe placedl"his hand aguiaist its variegtned chest.: It scorned to be icrideren li'?ples by frlight: ' You've got a prize thistime,' said'Athoot; ' if you can get that safelj acro s. tho.sell t willtdclight thii.hetrt .of MrFi Barium, and )ilease the inillions that will ciroid his eý lhiiitiou next sununer.' ,' ' I don't 'sco why it lionhl" rinot. reidh America,' replied Tom, in u flutter of"' dlight overihi capture. ' I shall be repaidi itf o secure nothing else.' ' We o iit not rest natisfied with that, for there ae numre curiositids that miuist obe found beforo'we leavo N'i?am... . . ' Doni't youi thiik wd' haro tri~vllied fir enough for to-night.' niked ;'the :laed b f Atioor; '.I would muihirather trytiosiiuinage this'bird'in.the tlah-tlrie.'., . . ' It'?ould laisVc been ?fad to hliatsomo t'uti' ago,' wais the nssuring Y ly.r '.We will gntliecr'wod iul'stsrt a fire ... This wis 'an easy task, and in a 'blrief while a11 tlhe 1,idwie?s'clcolleted thait.iwa neeaded toi liist '.'thisi.: ditill .niiniiig.,' Thid"!:frii was kiindled'6oi tho: edgo.of the otied,' h'ir6 the 'aiirroiriidintg uidetgHniti w?va ;s'o densb'that there" wits little likclihiod of'the liglit'be'ig sien ats-tat diid di?i . ;': One ,end of' the Lo wias eia reftly"' ti il t'arouid a leg of. the inoiphiin nand the other 'fuiistened'to ';, td Iitu6iient itthuiaking off' i the;'iight.i'a thiiig'it w?alnot lik-ly to do ifninuchel 'efort wgis required o.its piart., ; Finding ,itself. a captive, the mouphilon squiatted down on the ground as if contentod with its lot, and only anxioisi to please' its eaptors; certainly a nore docile creaturoe could. not lhave been fomsd or'desired. ' 9 All the party were tired, and it will be ad. nmittel that the incidents of the day had been of a character indeed to make' thbin so.' They were' somewhat himgry, tod; but'hiinters in warm countries do not suffer so 'mich.from the absence of food as do those in colder and more temperate climes. It was not deemed worth while, therefore, 'to make any hunt fur game, and all prepared to kipend the night as comfortably as they 'nuld. Th'e weapons were examined to make suro'they wqre loaded, fuel was thrown on the fli, and Athour took it upon him.uelf to keep watch for the first hall of the night, agreeing toi cal Zip at the tiun, when he wouldassunme' charge of the ncanyp until daylight. It was on thit occasion that my sagacious friend' Athor conmittLed anii Indiscretion, of which I do not think he was ever before glty. I amn certain that so long as he lives ie will eer forget himself in a similar numner aguil. Fully iawnre of the danger of giving way to sleep, lo paced'sliwlv hbck indc forth, after the maniner of a sentiinel oi his heat, his short 'path being in the clearing 'just beyond thei fire, which, therfore, burnedlbettween him and tdie demns wood. For two hours he paced steadily banck and forthoccaciomiliypausing tolintoi ttliovnaried sounds that canen fromn tlhe woodand looking areontd in quest of any unwelcome visitors to the camp. 'There was enouagh light fron the smounlder ing camp fire to show thie forms' of his I friends stretchednl out onthe usleep, while thie miouphilon, as faintly out lined, looking as if it weri asittming on its eggs prepltory to hatching. Lonm tie inonoent this extardanannry bird was tied to the bush, it had extinguished tlhe lumlp that nature'placed on its head, 'so there was nouthing about it viasible in the gloom to attrict attention. It seemed to Athoor that lo never felt' so wonrout as on this night, when he vohlim tored lto stand guardnl over his sleeping a friends. ti It was really a fatigae of mind more than of body, for his lmng experiemio ns hunterin the wilds of Nicaiu had so tounhened his "' frnme and indurated his musloes that hlo was often able to ture uthisconnpanulons that were younger than hle. iut, as I have aid, noons was more alive ic to the fact that sleep in the :mont insiduhuns of bridf timo:e' likelyto'pm ve fatal' t;-, h-'; .' .... It is? this knowklgeo on the part of the East Ji Indian which renders his courseo the mooe I

singular, through, sa I shall show you, he was not without a pailliatioa for his forget fulnesu. He p~eedreguinrl everhtlabeafor tht{nmo named, carrying his' loaded rifle ready for instant use, though he wasinclined to believe they would sufer no molestation, since they had seen nothing of any wild beasts on their way thither. All at onceAthoorwas seized with a cramp in one of his lgs. He paid noheed to it at first, expecting it soon to wear off. Ho hastened his pace with that purpose in view, but tho. trouble in creased, and limping over to the tree near the mauphilon, he sat down on the ground, and adopted the simple remedy of vigorously rub bing the limb. 1lhis had the desired effect, and in a short time it seemed to be all right; but fearful that the pain would return if he roseo too soon to his feet, he decided to sit a few minutes longer. . And doing so, niothing was more natural than that he should lean hishoae against the tree behind him to enjoy the brief, rest that seemed necessary. Need I tell you the inevitable consequence ? Before he suspected the danger, ho was wrapped in as sound slumber as his friends around him. If nothing occurred to disturb him, hisaleep was euro to last until morning. But, sad to say, thediturbanto came in'tho least desirable shape. It was not fai from the turn of night that a shadowy form appeared on the edge of the opening opposite to that of the camp fire. For several minutes it was nomor. than a shadow, and it would have taken a keen pair of eyes to discern it from the camp. " Before long, however, a lank, sinewy leopard emerged from the gloom and came stealthily* across the space toward the un conscious forms. Tholeopard took such long steps that its belly almost grazed the ground; while its tail, flirting from side to side, frequently touched the earth. The leopard was looking for his'supper, and it seemed as if everything conspired to givo him the choicest meal ho could wish. With the caution of its species, it did. not advance straight upon the camp, but moved backand forth in front of. it, as if recon noitering before making its ntteck. . - Finally it'decided that the man sitting on, the ground, with his back, against ,the tree, was its game ; that man, you need not be re minded, was the sentinel, Athoor..' Instead of leaping directly upon him, the leopard sunk on the eiirth and stole forward, like a eat approaching a mouse. . All its movements were so. silent 'that tho lightest, sleeper would not have been aroused. -. . Nearer ..and. nearer,. stop by step,,. the leoipard advanced, until only, a moderato lenp was'. .requirdl to bring down upon the poor native, whonemver dreamed of ,hi: danger. ' ' " At tho.. vry. moment the leopard was gthering' himself for the. brief spring, a dazzling light,.. like that" of ' a burglar's lantern, was flashed in its eyes. The check was so sudden, so unexpected,. and so extraordinary, that the beast for, the nonment was pahnysed. ..... Guurlcdl as were its movements, the faint rustling wis eniough to awaken.: the ',mou philln, whichl, having doused its glin' some, time before, now turned onethe .light' again with n.power.that startled the anmal into the utterance of a deep growl. lThat growl.awakened Athoor, who opened. his eres to their widest extent, and saw .the Icop ?rd crouching at his feet, its jaws parted snd its eyes glri .noa sif it already tasted the feast provided for it. .. (To 00 .coxTL1'VED.).