|Chapter Title||A NEW WEAPON|
|Newspaper Title||Kyabram Union (Vic. : 1886 - 1894)|
|Trove Title||My Plucky Boy Tom; or, Searching for Curiosities in India for My Show|
THEI YOUNG FOLKS.: MY PLUCKY BOY TOM; OR, SEARCHING FOR CUIRIOSITIES IN INDIA FOi? MY SHOW. Bt P. T. BA?m-". CuOtran LXVII.--A NSw WEVao'. The faithful messenger, Jed, required a day and night to rench Lucknow and return, so that our friends, being without the necessary ammunition, were obliged to spendthetimein idleness. Jim, Jack, and Jo seemel to havenequain tauces wherever they went, and they took the day to renew their friendship with parties whom they had not met for a long timeo The native owning the hut busied himself in his usual 'manner, if a man 'can" be said to be busy who does no 'appreciaibl work. About all the labour performed iit that establishment was performed by his sister, the housekeeper, to whom all days were the same. Mr. Oodkin welcomed the hoursof leisure, for the mail brought from Lucknow, repro senting the accumulation of several weeks, required his attention. So he lit his hookah, stretched out in a hammock, and spent a long time in reading and digesting his letters and papers. The most important of these were. the communications from me and my agents, for though my. cablegram sent to Tom Bradford and Mr. Godkinwassuffictint to set the party to work with all energy, yet there weremany suggestions and instructions that followed by maiL These were fortunato 'enough to make a quick passage, and, as I said, there were enough of them to keep my agent in Luck= now busy for a considerable time." ' After reading these, he devoted most of the day to answering them, so that what might be called an of day, proved, after all, to have been one of the busiest of his life. , Among the letters written by Mr. Godk?i was one to me, in which he gave a full and graphio account of his experiences after re celving my instructions in the latter partof November preceling. The most interesting letter, however, was that of Tom Bradford. It must havo taken him the entire forenoon to write it, for it furnishedall the particulars of his adventures, first in the neighbourhood of Lucknow, then away down in the wild district of'the Nizam, and again near Lucknow. From what I have told you about Tom, you will admit that he playcd the ~part of' a here throughout this cuntire experience. SWell, his letter to me was so modest 'in its references to his exploits that I would. never have been able to givoe :you this story which makes up my account of his advcntures in 'India, except for the :letter of Mr. Godkin, which was enthusinatib just where the lad's was silent. Then, too, fully understanding the nature of my pluky young friend, I had all the dataI could nec. " i Before sealing ,his letter, Tom, growing tired of sitting co long and writing with his lead pencil, bade his friends gool-bye for a short time and set out for a stroll. Fortunately for me, the lad left his letter open, for when he returned, he had an ex ceedingly interesting postscript to add.. lie directed his foots psin the direction of Lucknow, but, after walsing less than amile, he turned to the right and followed a less frequented road. This led -through cultivated fields, with jungles so far removed from the highway that nothing was to be feared from the wild beasts, which, as S have shown you, are so abundant inthen: My plucky young friend did not take his rifle with him. Sinco he had discharged the last cartridge, he would have been foolish, to do so, for its weight rendered it quito a burden. Itwas his intention to carry his revolver, but when he stretched out for a short.timo in his hammock, it interfered slightly with his cosisfort, and he laid it aside, purposing to take it up again when he rose, buthaving for gotten it, h was entirely unarmed, if I ex cept the hunting-knife which he always carried with him. This, although contrary tohis rule, caused himno uneasiness,forhodidnotmeantoexpose himself to any danger, no more than may be said to threaten any traveller thronugh the well-settled portions of India, The gentle exercise was so pleasing to the active lad, that he strolled further than he intended. You knew that groves are numerous 'in Iindostan,' tie practice- of. planting them having prevailed there for hundreds of years by wealthy' natives, who hoped thus to pmro ptiate the favour of the supernatural powers by the benevolentaet., SItwas inono of these groves, at the side of the highway, that Tom Bradford sat down to rest himself a little while,; before setting out on his return to the hut of the native, where lr. Godkid was awaiting him. Tom tells me that he had .nob sat long on a fallen tree, when a'strango misgiving came over him. 'Iwonder whether I am tohaveany trouble here.' he said to himself; ' it seenms to me that wherever one goes in India, he is liable to run into some kind of difliellty. 'If it's in tietvillages or towns, it .is. the snakes or may be the ,tige??; if.it's on the streams orrivers, it may be the Thugs ; while in the jungles, it's about everything that a person can think of. ' .. ' Hoe glnced sharply abotut him, but seeing nothing, attributed his nervousness, to tle vivid' consciousness of being unarmed; a condition in which it may be said he had not been since his entry into India., Toinwa'w not drowsy, and it was not: his intentiono to stay long, for it would be nearly dark by the time he rejoined his friend: at the hut where he had left him. .. SYoung as was. my -friend, lie had had enough experience in India to keep his senses about him at all times, and one of the things he had learned was to place 'a great 'dealnof faith in what may be called ,his instincts of danger. SLik' the first iniressibn Wei formn in glanscing at a bank bill, it was generally, more reliable than the conclusion reached by long study and examination. Tom was on the point of rising to -his feet to set out on hisreturn, when a soft,cat-like movement struckhis car, as if made by a serpent gliding over the gr?ss. The younghunter was on his feet in. n instant, glancing sharply about him. 'I suspect it's another cobra,' was hit thought, 'and'I believe I would rather meet any kind of danger than that.' But nothing in the guise of a serpent met his eve, and ihe was wrong in his suspicions. ' If I only lhad my Winchester here-' At this juncture it occnrredl to the lad that it would be a prudent idea to scritihiso the branches overhead, for they often'screen the fiercest of wild beasts: But before he could raise his feyes, some 'ting whisked in front of hIis face, a soft thump followed, and he found himself faco to foe with a cheetah, or humting leopard, that had dropped in front of him. These beasts are held in greater dread by many persons in India than the terrible tigers, besides they are tihe most perfect sneaks known in the animal kingdom. Lacking the strength, cdurage, and feroety of the tiger, they are as stealnthy as cobras in their movcments. Desides, if you will glance at the offcial statement I have copied from a recent nmmber of the 27m,,c of India, you will see that the leopards perform their part in 1 oer Tom was' in a dlistressing situation, being without"rifle or pistol, and face to face with the' most treacherousl of the leopardl kind. lie had Ihis knife, however, and he closed his fingers arounmd the handle, determined to dio fighting if so be Ihis time had come to die. The lad was too wise to turn about n nd runn, for the cheetah, reanding aright his terror, would bound upon his shoulders and tear him to shreds. Nor did he recoil, for that in a lesser degree would amount to the runone thing, and would only delay the inevitable encounter. And at the same time, you do not need to be told that the youngster did not attack the beast, for that wonld have ptrecipitated
the very crisis which he was anxious to avoid. ? Tom Bradford's position was what may be called that of arso I neutrality. It was necessary that he should present an undaunted front to his' enemy, and he did With his hunting-knife drawn and tightly grasped, he assumed the sternest expression possible, and looked straight into the glaring eyes of the cheetah, which was crouching on the ground with its gaze fixed on him. A few seconds later it was evident that the hunting leopard was uneasy over the pair of eyes Ievelled at him. IIHe tried to outstaro the youth, but could not. Hisown ]lancoflitte from side to side in a furtive, hesitating way that left no doubt of his uncomfortable feeling. With the first evidense of this, Tom re called a well-known fact respecting the cheetah and its kind that is, its inability to withstand the power of the human eye. No other animal can hecowed more quickly than he.by the' eagle glance' of man. The power which Van Amburg seemed to possess over all wild beasts, any person of nerve can oxercise over the leopard, and especially the cheetah or hunting leopard. With the recollection of this fact, Tom re gained the confidence that was so shaken by the sight of the beast dropping as if from the sky at his feet in front of him. He did not once remove his gaze, but gave it all the intensity in his power. The cheetah became uneasy ; but instead of retreating, undertook to steal round to thd left, as if to assail the lad on. the flankor from the rear. But the youth turned with him, and he paused, beginning the next moment a .move ment in the opposito direction. Tom continued still to facoe him, and the cheetah was baffled at every point.: The lad felt that the moment had come to press things. Insteadof standing motionless, ho now gradually thrust his head forward, crouched as if hbout to spring, and almost as slowly as the movement of.tho hour hand over the face of tho lock, he advanced upon thocheetah.' ` The latter lay flat on its belly, lashed its tall, growled, and showed' its teeth, but neither advanced nor retreated. k Only for a moment, however, did it re main motionless. The human eye was a now weapon which could not be faced. That terrible weapon was bearing resist lessly down upon it, and itf it remained u minute longer, it would be destroyed. Such must have been the conclusion of thi leopard, for suddenly it wheeled about and scampered into the grove asl.ifa' pack 'I fire erackers had been' tied to its tail an touchid off.. Tom 'Bradford . smiled to think hos fortuiaately ihe had.overcome tho.hostility or this' dangerous creature, and he h decidei that lio"had, stayed loig'enough away fron the hut. ; *My eye served me well enough this time, he said to himself, as he walked homeward 'but it won't do to rely too much upon it The next fol I stumble over may car no mor. for my eye than for my. ear. There's nothing like a good trusty rifle when you are tramping through this part of the world.' Knowing that the ohectah is the prince. ol sneaks, the lad coutinudllvy glanced behine him while moving down the road; but he was disturbed no more by that specimen, which hbd been too thoroughly frightened ti molest him further. Tom. reached the hut without further incident. There he found Mr.' Godkin lazil swinging in his hammock puffing his pipe, and waiting for his young friend to join hin at the evening meal, of which their host hal partaken long before. Jim, Jack, and Jo were still absent, bul were sure to be.on hand in the morning. C : enra? n LXVIII.--IoaLr GA.E. Only afew miles from the scean of the tiger hunt, about which I told you at the beginning of this story Tom Bradford and lir. God-kii accompanied by their sorvants, Jim, Jo, and Jack, halted on the edge of a broad, grassy plain, beyond which stretched another vast expanse of jungle, wherein, ns matter of course, were countless birds, beasts and' reptiles, the haeting of which might have kept the party busy until they sueo cumbed 'with old ago--unless, what was more probable, some of the denizens of the jungle took the one effective moans of pro. vcntihg them from dying of longevity. SThey had seen elephants, leoards, pythons and narrowly missed another tiger fight. ' , But the latter specimen was more. anxious to avoid than to bring about 'an, encounter, hnd took himself off so hastily in tihe jungle that it was impossible to followi'hiri: Neither : Mr. Godkin nor' Toni- felt, very eager to overtake him, wisely concluding that since they-had secured tho~ kitte :and had had a pretty fortunatb'escape, it was wiser te pay more attention to other kinds'of curiosi ties.. I need not tell you that the' party were fully supplied with ammunition and all that was necessary to push their search with vigour and success.' " Having to travel a considerablo distance ti reach the hunting ground, the white members of the, party rodo their pbnies' while the natives, as usual, went afoot, Jed remaininl behind for the time being. ' The afternoon was about half gone, and the tenmperature was growing quite pleas?t, when Jack, who had 'been prowling in the neighbourhobd of the camp, brought in word that an immense wild boar passed along' the edge of the plain, and could not be far off. SHe "would give us royal hunting,' re marked Mr. Godkin, 'if 'we were only in 'shape for him.' W~'Vhat do you mean ? ' : ' Imean if .wo had' the' right kind' o weapons.,' .:_ ..... " 'beliove tho rule is to hiinttho"wild boar with a short, strong spear, made specially for the purposdo! " ' : .... . . , i' "Ys;, no real sportsman hunts in- any other way; anid h'ois the "animal that makes the liveliest kind of fun.- You have neves had any experience with 'a wild'boar, and may not know that he is the only gamoe that ovbrslhdw?a anything like chivalry for a Tom looked inquiringly at his friendi S' If a, hunter, during his fight with'a boar, explained MLr. Godkin,"' happens to be flung to the ground, the boar not infroquently re fuses to disturb him.' '.In other words, lie won't hit a manwhen, h isdowsn.' '. ' ' This seems a strange fact, b;ut I,lmew it traitlfh frbm experience, and buit for the for bearamieo of the animal Iwodid'f niot" be her this minute. ie was the same follow that6I aw soniao time beforeu backed up 'aginist 'a tree, defying a couple f leopards that dared ' I managed' the spear,' said Mr.?:'Godldn' ' so that in accordance with the rule the boat ran upon it, but he was not much hurt, and the next thing I knew he drove his twelve inchl tusks' clean to. the hilt in my horse': belly and ripped the life out'of hiun. I wa: sent fltin to the ground, ivherd I was sc stunned t lsat I lay senseless' for several minutes. As soon as I was able to under' stand matters, I' looked up and saw my horse stretchedl dead only a few paces off, while the hoar was calmly standing near, waiting for me to rise; so that he might set upon me again. 'Theo fellow was too manly to attack me wlille I was hIelpless, when he might have done so alnd finished me in shortorder. Well, I needn't tell yeou I didn't try to get up in Ia huary.. One surveyo of that tremendous fellow was enough to keep me lying still until he grow impatient and trotted off. ' I am glad to hear he got away,' said Tom, with a aInugh, 'for any animsal that would show such a spirit deserved to get away. 'lYes, and I am sure he felt less effeeto from tie scrimmage than I did, for I wans stiff and sore for a fortnight, while the serailng lhe got from nmy spear couldn't have troubled himn much.' You may be siure that Tom Bradford wao ready for unytlhing that promised a stirring advenitlare, beside which tlhe'wild boar is so different fromn the kind of game he lhad en countered up to this tinme that the promiso of a novel change was specially attractive. lar. Godkin and lhe, therefore, mounted tlheir ponies, aiind rode toward the spot where it was reported the #ld boar had ern seen.
' Since there 'was no likelihood that. the natives would be called upon to take part in the hunt, they stayed behind in camp. By rising to their feet, however, they could look a long way over the grassy plain, and observe the manouvres of the horsemen, if they should be fortunate enough to start the wild boar. .Mr. Godkin at first was inclined to arm himself and companion with the spears that the natives used, but they were so long and slender, that they were ill-fitted for the pur pose ; beside which, Tom was so unaccustomed to their use, that he could feel no confidence in them, and they were likely to prove a hindrance rather than a help. Furthermore, Mr. Godkin thought it doubt ful about their seeing the wild boar at all. These brutes, as they grow older, do not associate with the herds of wild bogs, but ibrowse by themselves. If- Tom should be fortunate enough to catch sight of 'a boar, his intention was to ride as closely as possible and take a shot at him. If the bullet were well aimed, he might bring down the game, but the chances were against his success. Riding out to thoeedge of the grassy plain, therefore, the friends halted side by side, while both looked over the tract with the penetrating eyes of true sportsmen. (vs Da: covriTcoD.l