|Chapter Title||CAPTURING A SPITFIRE|
|Newspaper Title||Kyabram Union (Vic. : 1886 - 1894)|
|Trove Title||My Plucky Boy Tom; or, Searching for Curiosities in India for My Show|
THE"Y G"FOLKS:' ORE-3B.&B0Wr iO OUmO81Tii Dlj S INDX& FOB MYT BSHOW. . Dv P:T. fIaou. Csu- Ct m L.-OwrPrnsyo a Smoins. The instant the spitfire stood still, in the full'gow of the camp fire, its needle-likes pines shot out perpendicularly fromitasbody with a'quiok, rustling sound, so that it re. aembled an enormous chesnut burr, supported on its.innumerable projections. Nothingin the nature ef feet was tisiblo, !andseemin~lyitmmadl no difference how it stopped In its movement, since it was able tp sustain.itelf on any sid> of its body. Butlooking closelyS, the amazed upoetatora caugh. the gloeam of pair of bright, pene trin eyes about b imnches apart, `nd in the ooddlo of the etr7ordinary oreataro. Not only teat, h?t suddenly iSe lower half neared to neparato lisko the fawr of an allgator. Its mouth mulr have exte?fldi·slmost from ano side of thetbady to the ether. . rom this caverous opeinngihot forth a ong, thin tontso, forked lnd of a blood-red 'colour, liko:ftlt of a serpent. If darted ibthor and thithO: with incon coivabl qutlikncss, addiang.not. a little to iits, terrinfyesg areno. I Noinlyeat, but, :as .f -nothing -was tol be lakdng do complett'ith"herrid appoaranceo,I som~ithiuo similar t· 'eloetri flarshca loapeil froim item, bifurasitetdl .ongue. Thersdsould be no iotiht of the elootriodl anturctf the manitehittlons, sinre all:thro, of -the opestatotos ;plairly hoard a .faint, cskltb sound meomuplnying the lightning ilkl ditngs to anlfro of the organ. lheo display, : youi will filllh .:dmit, .Mleteld the name, "f spitfire an exceedingly ip~is riate onefdr'this wonderful :member. rof `th animatlkngsom. ' Every creature has some way of idefond ingitself,' renmsiked Tom Bradfosil, who, liko his comnp?ions, was atadying the crekuro.e :with 'a .profound. intereast, " and I 's ? so the iit ro acts like ;th 'porou ' From the :action of that tonsuto,' said .'o. God"Pd ", I shouldn't. be su.arised if it fay the .poer of imparting ilectrial shooks ;i-?eo the Demon of the Lake.' ' I think hot,' answered Athoor, 'though I'oaust onslfess that I know les. about the spitfre than I do.of any ither.inhabitant of ' the Nam.' This is the second one I ever :aw ? nd.the first was mothalf of its size.'. ' dhydon't you capture .it,' asked Mr. Gogdkin' giving Tom a sly .poko' in 'the I.'m' waiting to. dlcide :the best' way of d ol . I wonder wbetharI.ean aInso it ?': a+' lrare plenty ,npiace. for the rpo'to ihold, thobp.'itfire, but ;aftr!lasioing it, you' :my want'to lot go of in a.hurry.' -Meanwhile, the cseature, .having given amch an interesting exhibition, drew mt its tongue and closed its enormous mouth. S'Its, spines remained sisil for a minuto or so, when with the samesuddlenness that they had ',xpanded,. 'they dontracted, so -that, lying flat against its hbody, the 'contrast' in its appearance was so great that it looked comparatively smooth. .'hile every eye was fixed. wonderingly aeon the spitfire, Athoorbsrnptly brought is rifle to his shoulder and fired at it.' ++., "'What.,are you-. dinigP' demanded the angered Tol Bradford : 'didn't I tell you I wanted to make it captive t' SThe native laughed. . -'Idon't see that I 'have hindered you; true, I struck it,but I .haven't. hurt,it any. more than if I had.flug. a petblo against its .sidmo Incredible as Seemed the stsitcAzent, tore could be no doubt of its truth. ;t'he reit~tiiga'.e noevidonce of: having recei~bd the idight~est 'harm. Its i~outh re mainedahut, butita bright eyes were twink ling the same .a ever, and seemed to say that if anyono'wanted to waste his ammuni tionon himit hadno objection. - - "It don't act as if it were hurt,' iremarked. Tom,.molliflid;by the words ofhis fricnd'and the conduct of the spitfire, 'but if your bullet had entered, one of its oyes, it would have flnished,him.' .'' . . ', No doubt of. that.' '; ,Every armor has a weak point,; said Mr. Gedlin, 'and I su.pposopthe eye of the -opit A& is' hid.' 'When open, but tI am told it has the power of sheathing its eyes when it wishes to dso, and though the noeathing can .hardly lc r abgainust a'bnllet,'yet no ddubtlit is rngedniought to' iresist' tihe 'dclaws' of any wild animhal:'. .... All this -was interesting oenough,"but it: pavomno.hlp toward securing.the spitflro, for_ whose capture Tom :Bradford was hardly more anxios than Mr. Godkin. Athoor had told them about all he knew of therstmere, and mold give but little rug. geaiion inthe way of securing it. : Glinain g at the mauphllon, the.hunters were amused to observe that he displayed no littleintseet In the strange visitant. He was standing erect with his gaze fixed irn It, but earfitlly refrained from shed angany llht 'an' the matter." Hemust avo docided to be oaonomical in the ne of his headlight. BSvema times Tom Bradford was on the point of testing his lasso as a means of cap tvring the pittire; but with all his ingenuity he could not see how the.implement could be made to answer for that'purpode.. Thocreature was sot capable 'of moving asat, and with the i wpb drawn tightly roun Le extaordin"ary bo.y, it was not 'ely he ' womald:ba abletto move at all. Ardently as the lad desired the pize, he seold not reconcilelhiatelf to the attempt to ssry·it.'.--4 aesesed.with therope and slung ave hisheouldhr, there wax no saying what alachief it might do him. If it lacked 'the power of i tparing eleoetecalahocka, ita innumeasbl sharpes Ines we euiough tosnk ono e hbe, sitat bout testing them. .t':Athor,'-saidthe lad, turnipg ebruptly on his friend,. 'are not the natives, of tbhs smotiod killed in basket-making ?' 'Many of then are.'.' "How about Zip 1 ' " Until:I took him to my employ he made his lifinrby t~hb mans.: His skillhIsmade im'eelbrated in Madras, and even in. Bom. b1aj,where'hi beautiful manufacturers com. mand high'prices.' . 'Ho's our man; I'll wakodim ip -and' set him to work.' .&uhd With thp promptueoe eharaateristio of fIis'":i? ?m To shook 'the ' native, who ·l?j rib~tbo 'th' h dtting postion, ibbd'Bli eyes and looked round to learn 'Mie'asi, of lia disturbance. 'the lid qitkly expilainod what he wanted, aril was dml' a large netting, constructed osfro ome of tough running vines that rere numerous.in the 'ioinity. ThI seemi to be somu reason to blieove .ite 'pIn will work,' said Mr Godkin, "thuhwe coan't tell till we try the ox :Athoor oxprs renseed .so much faith in the themo that Tom was encouraged. The whole .four instantly ecattered to gather.the material, and it requirid iibut a few .ainutee to collect more than enough. S Theo plan, as I haveo eid, was to manu. foturen n ingenious netting, bearing some g',ebemlancO to the not which answerod so well'in the ease of tholion. It was in fact nothing more than a spread ofmeshes .sovernal inches in diamether. It was necessary that the network should be madelrge"enho ig b that. when drown together it'sould suffice to inclose a' spitfire. If this could .boe done,: Zip would find no 'diulty n joining the margins so as to hold .B e thatrin the constructona of this twrk Useho whole four should 'have com aiteda most'unaccountable oversight, and , egqtten an important fact that was sure to ? t~t wi?,?.?kr t h a·nsmergy and Ohash, sa "led, 'Tom and Mer.,'odkIn" to umdwstnd whyItiltwa his wrs wereheld It must?cotbo sUpposed~ that while these 1psetlon.. were 'under wayti.ho. pitfir _anmly'alwalte8 'thalr comsletlbn Iotaerthat ite might fall likeripo frut'intothe basket, Aitr ec;ing the hiarni?lm'w.s ahot of ..0) bJur 2
-Athoor, anut StthcIg hsiaapline about him, he began rulsni bakwark biwurd the other 'ride of the opening wheeaelb came. . Tom Bradford started up ii alarm. SNowre mind,' atesmarked. Atheor, ho travels slow and won't go farr; we shall have no trouble in finding him in the morning.' The lad was reassured, though he felt a twinge of misgiving at seeing such a valuable prize walk off unopposed. " I mean to see where it goes,' he said, etarting after e, but keeping a respectful ldstance. The spitfiro, observing thltit was followed, came to a halt again, with its spines riged, its mouth open, and its tongue darting forth. It evildeily believed it was about to be attacked,!bat as Tom didasot offer.to mdlest it, it 'hauled in its hornsa' and restuned its odd locomotion towardtho wood. - The boy left it on the margin and hurried back.to his friends, wheroe he was delighted to findl that the. deft fingers of Zipihad tihe aet hiltaost finished. ' The skill the native disphayed lintho con dtrul?ofin of the intended'suaro was remark able. . When at last the'several square yanl; were finished, he invitile his friends to bre:k it.' 7?r. Godkin, Athoor, and Tom-reized it by its edges andtnagged'nnd yanke? with might and main. They stamped upon it and 'resorted to allpoassiblo m ns of disintegrating it, but it resisted their utmost :fcforts; that, too, when none of the pieces of vine oom posing it was <thicker than: a child's little finger. L , S'gIt is an amasingpieeo of .handiwork,') said Tom, ' and cannot be inproved. It isn't morning ydt, brit ltince we'know- where the spitfire is, let's go for him now.' " There wasraereason wh-ythe 'plan' should not be adopted, and theo.whole party moved in the iirectioni Oftleso.imsid. of.tho .wood, wherb tlo boy had last seen it. It was not in sight, however, much to the lad's dis ayi . . . ' , 'It canut .be far off,',said Athoor.. 'Bo careofl :i' ihuntine for 'it that 'yout 'don't tumble over it--- Oh ' ' Athoor, who was a little to the right of the othoeat-that moment, received a shock as if tio.point of a sword had been thrust into his leg, and made a leap in the air of sovenil.feet. 'The apitllre had folded itself up in a hollow ncar'thti'oot'of a treewhere tho'e keen eyes of the native did not detect it,- and where it would not'havo been observed for some time had it kept still.' instead 'of giving' the' intauden a:punch with one of itsmiltitudinot: daggers. tiherewas a laugh'at Athoor's xpenseo, 'and Tom'hurried to ids side iithi thoe netting rolialsiko a screen over his. airm, 'nd. ready for service." Seeing the spitfire in-an attitude of defence, heo hesitated only long enough to get his bearings. .Mr. Gddkin was holding :tho lad's:gumn, so' 'as to leave his ar?sn free, and ho added a weird of caution :' ' 'Bo on your uanl; there's no guessing whlat lie will do. ' Tho wdons were hardly spoken when Tom 'Bnrdford dexterously flung the netting like a bla'lkbt' over' the creature, whlso mouth seemed wide enough open to swallow the wholo thing, and who duubtlens would have done some execution had it been able to seizo the arm or hand of the lad. Unfortunately for the spitfire, it did the worst thin$ aiosblo for itself. Instead of preoserving its spine rigid, and making someo kindof a fight, it wan sared by the strange manner of attack, and closed its spines'so that it took the shape of the smnooth bell that rolled across the s pening to and from the canlp fire. This gavo Tom. Bradford the best oppor tunity ho.could have asked. Calling to Mr. Godskin to siize the other side of the netting, he' twist&l his 'side' under the round body and flirted it to the edge which his friend held in his grasp. '. "-- .-h.'-. '. '" -. It was done in a twinkling and the happy youth was justified in his! jubilant oxclama tion : .. ' We've got him i we've got him ' " ': ^ ' (,sn v a crisuss.l"'