|Chapter Title||AN UNEXPECTED DROP|
|Newspaper Title||Kyabram Union (Vic. : 1886 - 1894)|
|Trove Title||My Plucky Boy Tom; or, Searching for Curiosities in India for My Show|
THE YOUNGYrOLKS. MY PLUCKY BOY TOM; OR, SEAROCHING FOR CURIOSITIES IE INDIA FOR MY SHOW. BT P. T. BAarwv. Corana LXIV.-AY UNEXPECTEID InoP. The following day Tom and Mr. Godkin anuntered out for a crocodile hunt in the river, which was in seine parts alive with those creottures:. They took with them some alit, which was made intosuitable shapes and loaded with gunpowder. At one endof the bait was a short fuse, which upon being ignited would explode in a very little time. Thoyehad not travelled far before they came to a spot where a large specimen of the anurian tribe was disportinghimself in happy unconsciousness of approaching danger. After a little bit of angling on the part of Tom and Mr. Godkin, the powerful monster was enticed to swallow one of the delusive 'tit-bits.' Certainly nothing could have been more sudden than the taking off of the crocodile when hoswallowed the loaded bait, which was no more than fairly within his interior when it blow him into a thousand frag monts. Could this hugo victim of misplaced confi donce have understood the part he was to play ore he was dissolved into absolute nothingness, he might have found some consolation in the fact that hle did his folldws a good turn by furnishing them with the grandest dinner they had had in a long .time. .-Hardly had his fragments descended on shore and stream, when it seemed as if fully twenty other crocodiles darted from every direction and began a soramblo for what could be found. -Hither and thither their snoute were ."thrust; ustil the water was lashed into a foam, and there was absolutely nothing left to quarrol over. Tom Bradford and Mr. Godkin watched the eurious proceedingswithno little interest, for they had seen something of 'the kind before. But the crocodiles were not the only creatures that were summoned to the spot by the explosion. Several wolves, evidently former com panions of the victims of his own greed, thrust their noses from the jungle, seemingly scenting prey; but these nuimals are cowards by nature, and observing the two hunters, they sneaked back again and were seenno more. Among the numerous crocodiles was one that looked as largo as the one that had been blown up. Wherever he went the others gave him room, but since lie could not be in a dozen places at once, he was perforce obliged to allow the rest of the crowd to get a share of the feast. Evidently the second big fellow, despite his streng·lh and invincibility, obtained only enough to whet his appetite; but seeing nothing within his immediate reach except some of his own kind (which he did not care to attack unless wounded), he resorted to watching and waiting, after it fashion peculiar to his species. Crawling entirely from the stream, he lay on the bank, as if he had decided to take several hours' nap. All his companions, however, knew better than to molest him. One sweep from that enormous tail, or a quick snap of those pro digiois jaws, was enough to knock tihe breath of life from any creaturo at which they could gaina fair chance. jBut the crocodile had been in the position I have named only a few minutes, when the very unlmals to tempt his anger and trifle with his feelings appeared on the scene. Among the branchec of the tree directly over him were seen half a dozen monkeys, who, it was plain, had fixed their attention on the hugo fellow. These animals were of large sire, and as full of mischief as they could hold. 'Look,' said Mr. Godkin, who, with Tom, was standing where they had a plain view of all parties concerned, there's going to be somoe fun, or I am much mistaken.' The biggest monkey, who was evidently the leader of the mipschievous gang, had a long stick in one of his paws, and was now lottmg himself carefully down from his perch in the- tree, until he reached a point directly over thoe head of the crocodile. Here he paused, as if measuring the space with his eye, and debating the next thing to do. Reaching as far down as he could, he struck the head of the saurian a sharp whack with the stick, repeating the blow several times and with all the power at his command. This, although considerable, was alto gether insuffioient to cause the monster any hurt. In fact,,it might have been tenfold harder without doing anything of the kind. The crocodile did not stir, but both Tom and Mr. Godkin plainly saw his eyes open just enough to allow him to observe every thing, when they instantly closed again. There was nothing to tempt him to stir, and ho lay still. The object of the monkey was to tease the crocodile, and he failed to do so, so long as the reptile did not stir. The other monkeys, as well as the one wielding the stick, were not satisfied until they could drive the giant fellow into a rage. Suddenly the leader of the tormentors dropped to the ground within a few paces of the crocodile, the others keeping their places in the lowermost branches. It was hard for Tom and Mr. Godkin to keep from laughing outright when the monkey stole softly forward, as if afraid of waking some sleeping baby, and tickled the end of the crocodile's snout with the stick. 'Again, the eyes partly opened, but there was not the slightest movement of any part of the body. ' He's waiting for you,' said Tom, with a smile; ' but he intends to keep on waiting till lie tempts you nearer.' Of course, as long as the arocodilo remained motionless, the anticipated fun of the monkeys could niot materialise. It was necessary to provoke him into activity. The tormentor seemed to become impatient at the indifference of the other, and stepping still closme, grasped the stick with both his paws, and brought it down with spiteful .forco on the head in front of hinm. Itwasat this juncture that the spectators hbserved aslight convulsive movement rnm along tihe hngth of the erocodile, the mean ing of which was understood by both. ' linding that this demonstration did not arouse the reptile, the monkey inow began sr ning blows non the lhugeliear d as fastand This evidently was what the crocodile was waiting for. With a quickness, incredible in asuch an immensecreatlre, lie swunig hldfway round, and struck lt the monkey with his tail, the blow being almost sufficient to shatter a tree. But it was easily avoided. A warning cry from tie other uunimahs notified the leader of his danger, thosogh lie diii not need thi notice, and, springing Sniubly upward, he grasped tie 1prw of one of tihe monkeys and, quick us was thIe swirl of Stie crocodiles tail, his tormeitor was ten feet Atbove'whero it whizzed through tihe air. The saurian uhaving tirck his fruitless blos-, settled hack in precisely the saiii pos ture 118 before, while the uosnlceys chattered .nad ian back and forth among the linibs with delight. The amnmals were ovcrrsliing witll erijoy. ment, for they had reused their huge victim at last. WVith ittle delay, their Icledr dropped lightly upon the ground in firot of the reptilo and renewed his torsuntiug perfor inanco. The sticlc which le grasped hid been wrenched fronm sonc tree b, tho e aniusls, so that the larger cdi wes jigged and qulite Thits waus jabbd ellsarlply3a gainiist the hlesld of tho reptile, 5 though it is hardily to he beloeved thatit icaised anytlsing more thou un irritation. After punihing hiii scveral timues, the unimal begaii hamimearing him again. IITois going to try different tactics this · aried Mr. Oodikin, referring to the
crocodilo ;'he will not try to hit him'with his tail, but his jaws will be the weapon.' While the reptile did not appear to stir, yet a twitching of his short legs showed that ha was movin" by inches toward the monkey, which was oblivious ofthe fact, whiie he con tou.d vigorously to bang away at the cast iron head. All at once the jaws flow apart, and the crocodile shot forward with the same amazing celerity as before. And as before, the monkey made an up ward bound, seizing with one paw the paw of a friend as it was extended down ward from among the lowermost limbs, and whisking upward before the cavernous month could get hold of him. Alas, for the leading monkey, however I Whether it was his fault or that of his partner can never be known, buttho grip was just uncertain enough to fail. When a dozen feet above the crocodile, and at a point where he was absolutely safe, the paws loosened and the monkey dropped. The saurian saw him coming, and, opening his upturned mouth to its widest extent, ro ceiveduhis prize, just as a coal-hole receives the shovelfull of coal flung into it. The monkey vanished so suddenly that his agonised yelp was cut in two in the middle, and his former friends were struck mute for the time with grief. ' Too bad,' said Mr. Godkin, ' but accidents will happen, and that crocodile's patience is at last rewarded.' ' There's one thing that we have forgotten in our excitement over the crocodile,' said Tom. ' What's that?' 'The natives were signalling awhile ago in a way which sounded as if they wanted us in a hurry.' ' True, and I have heard nothing from them since the blast you sent out while on the crocodile's bank. Inasmuch as there are eio more worldsfor us to conquer here, lot's see what they:have for us to do.' Tom's saturated garments caused hinmsome inconvdniihed, but nothing iii the nature of a chill, which might be considered almost a luxury in a country like India; but the moisture rapidly dried out of thoem- while picking his way along the bank, this time with his friend in advance. After travelling far enough, as they thought, to reach the spot whence came the call, they still failed to discover anything of the natives. 'They can't be far off,' remarked Mr. Godkin, as they came to a halt, ' though they may have given us up and gone on down stream to look for somethin etls.' But a tramp of several hundred yards further was equally fruitless, so far as gaining knowledge of Jo, Jim, and Jack was con cearried; they were nowhere in sight of hearing. Suddenly it occurred to Tom that it would be a good idea to use the signal which had been agreed upon. Once more, therefore, the shrill sound echoed along the shore and through the surrounding jungle. Listeningattentively, they caught thoreply, so faint as to show that it ewsa long distance off. N' ot only that,' said Mr. Godkin, ' but it is from across the stream.' Looking to the other shore, where, until that moment, they had not thought of search ing for their servants, they saw nothing of them, though Tom agreed with 3fr. Godkin that the answer had come from that bank. ' The sound showed thalt they were some distance inland,' added the eider. 'VWhat means have they taken to get across, for I don't believe any boats are to be found aroundhere ?' ' It is not a hard task for three active fel lows like them to construct a raft buoyant enough to support all, with which they could paddle or ferry themselvesto the other shore.' ' But we ought to have noticed that.' ' Weo were too much interested in the cro codilo about that time; and furthermofo, the stream nmakes so much of a bend just above this point, that, if we had been looking, they would not have been in sight, except for a short distance.' ' It seems to me that somebody is over yonder,' remarked Tom, a few minutes later, indicating a point on the other shore, and a considerable distanco above the spot where they were standing. ' There is, certainly; and it is one of the natives, too; he seems to be alone at least I can sea no others; can you make out what he is driving at?' Theo two watched the fellow for several minutes, and then concluded that he was trying to push some kind of a craft from land. I3e was observed to be holding a long polo, with which he was working hard, as though the structure had been drawn up so far that it resisted his efforts. 'He has probably boon sent down to an swer our sigal,suggested Tom, 'and finds its hard work to launch his craft.' ' Ah, he is free now.' Such was the fact, and the native was plying his polo like an experienced waterman. Something like dismay was caused on the part of the speetators by slgst of an object on the logs which resembled the figure of a man, who seemed to -be either dead or badly hurt. The fear was that one of the natives had met with some griovous misfortune. $ It looks as if they had their share of rough experiences as well as we,' observed Tom. ' If so, it must be Jim or Jo, for that is Jack using the paddle, which he does with good skill. A fair idea of the depth of the compara tively narrow stream was given when Jack was near the middle. The polo which he employed to propel the raft was fully twenty feet in length, and yet, when he pressed It against the bottom, he leaned so far over that his face was within a few inches of the surface. The depth, as Tom has found from his ex perience with the crocodile, was considerable, even close to land. At this moment, when Jack was only a short way off, M3r. Godkin broke into laughter. The only person on the raft is the one with the paddle.' Such was now seen to be the truth; that which had been taken for one of the natives was ashort, block leg, though why itlay there would have been hard to guess, since it could not add anything to the buoyancy of the structuro. A few minutes later, the raft touched the bank, and Jack stepped ashore, greeting his cmployurs with thie respect which he invu rablyhwed them. ' Yhere ire Jim and Jo ? asked Mr. God kin. ' In thj jungle, sahib,'o thte other side.' SVnititq' for pen, sahib.' ~*' STWhy did you cross the stream P' STo chase the rhinoceros, sahib.' Ir BE NcerW a).