Part 2 out of 6
party,--it being perfectly understood that he is at no expense for any
thing connected with the outfit."
"I will tell him so," replied Swinton; "and I think the sooner we begin
to collect what is necessary the better. We must have Major Henderson in
our councils. Depend upon it, he will be very useful and very active;
so, for the present, farewell."
Mr. Swinton and Major Henderson called together that afternoon, and the
latter, as soon as he was admitted into the party, began to talk over
the plans and preparations.
"My suite is not very large," said he; "I have two horses and two dogs,
a Parsee servant, and a Cape baboon. I should like to take the latter
with us as well as my servant. My servant, because he is a good cook;
and my monkey, because, if we are hard put to it, she will show us what
we may eat and what we may not; there is no taster like a monkey.
Besides, she is young and full of tricks, and I like something to amuse
"The baboons have another good quality: they give notice of danger
sooner than a dog," observed Swinton. "I think, Wilmot, we must admit
the monkey into the party."
"I shall be most happy," replied Alexander, laughing; "pray give her my
compliments, Major Henderson, and say how happy I shall be."
"I call her Begum," said Major Henderson; "because she is so like the
old Begum princess whom I was once attending, when in India with my
troop, as guard of honor. You must look out for some good horses, Mr.
Wilmot; you will want a great many, and if you do not wish them to have
sore backs, don't let the Hottentots ride them."
"We have been discussing the point, Major Henderson, as to whether it
will not be better to go round in a vessel to Algoa Bay, complete our
equipment there, and make that our starting place."
"If you do, you will save a long journey by land, and find yourself not
very far from what I understand are the best of hunting-grounds, near to
the country of the Vaal River."
The topics then dwelt upon were what articles they should procure in
Cape Town, and what they should defer providing themselves with until
their arrival at Algoa Bay. They agreed to provide all their stores at
Cape Town, and as many good horses as they could select; but the wagons
and oxen, and the hiring of Hottentots, they put off until they arrived
at Algoa Bay.
Mr. Fairburn was now more at leisure, and Alexander had more of his
society. One evening after dinner Mr. Fairburn had opened a map of the
country, to give Alexander some information relative to his projected
journey. He pointed out to him the track which appeared most advisable
through the Caffre country, and then observed that it was difficult to
give any advice as to his proceedings after he had passed this country,
governed by Hinza, as every thing would depend upon circumstances.
"Do you know any thing of the country beyond?"
"Not much; we know that it was overrun by the Zoolus, the tribe of which
Chaka was the chief; and last year our troops went to the assistance of
the Caffres, who were attacked by another tribe from the northward,
called the Mantatees. These were dispersed by our troops with immense
slaughter. The Zoolu country, you perceive, is on the east side of the
great chain of mountains, and to the northward of Port Natal. The
Mantatees came from the west side of the mountains, in about the same
parallel of latitude. It is impossible to say what may be going on at
present, or what may take place before you arrive at your destination,
as these northern irruptions are continual."
"You promised me the history of that person, Chaka."
"You shall have it now: he was the king of the Zoolu nation--I hardly
know what to call him. He was the Nero and the Napoleon of Africa; a
monster in cruelty and crime, yet a great warrior and conqueror. He
commenced his career by murdering his relatives to obtain the
sovereignty. As soon as he had succeeded, he murdered all those whom he
thought inimical to him, and who had been friends to his relatives."
"But are the Zoolus Caffres?"
"No; but there are many races to the northward which we consider as
Caffre races. You may have observed, in the history of the world, that
the migrations of the human race are generally from the north to the
south: so it appears to have been in Africa. Some convulsion among the
northern tribes, probably a pressure from excessive population, had
driven the Zoolus to the southward, and they came down like an
inundation, sweeping before them all the tribes that fell in their path.
Chaka's force consisted of nearly 100,000 warriors, of whom 15,000 were
always in attendance to execute his orders. In every country which he
overran he spared neither age nor sex; it was one indiscriminate
"What a monster!"
"He ruled by terror, and it is incredible that his orders met with such
implicit obedience. To make his army invincible, he remodeled it,
divided it into companies, distinguished by the color of their shields,
and forbade them to use any other weapon but a short stabbing-spear, so
that they always fought at close quarters. He weeded his army by picking
out 1000 of his veteran warriors, who had gained his victories, and
putting them to death. Any regiment sent out to battle, if they were
defeated, were instantly destroyed on their return; it was, therefore,
victory or death with them; and the death was most cruel, being that of
impalement. Well he was surnamed 'the Bloody,'"
"His tyranny over his own people was dreadful. On one occasion, a child
annoyed him; he ordered it to be killed; but the child ran among seventy
or eighty other children, and could not be distinguished, so he ordered
the whole to be put to death. He murdered two or three hundred of his
wives in one day. At the slightest suspicion he would order out his
chiefs to execution, and no one knew when his turn might come. His will
was law: every one trembled and obeyed. To enter into a detail of all
his cruelties would fill volumes; it will be sufficient to mention the
last act of his life. His mother died, and he declared that she had
perished by witchcraft. Hundreds and hundreds were impaled, and, at
last, tired of these slow proceedings, he ordered out his army to an
indiscriminate slaughter over the whole country, which lasted for
"He was a demon who reveled in blood; but his own turn came at last. He
was murdered by his brother Dingaam, who knew that he was about to be
sacrificed; and thus perished the bloody Chaka. His brother Dingaam is
now on the Zoolu throne, and appears inclined to be quiet. There is
another great warrior chief named Moselekatsee, who revolted from Chaka,
and who is much such another character; but our accounts of these people
are vague at present, and require time to corroborate their correctness.
You will have to act and decide when you arrive there, and must be
guided by circumstances. With the caravan you propose to travel with, I
think there will not be much danger; and if there is, you must retreat.
The favor of these despots is easily to be obtained by judicious
presents, which of course you will not be unprovided with. I have
ordered your letters to the authorities to be made out, and you will
have the governor's signature to them. When do you propose to, start?"
"We shall be ready in a few days, and have only to find a vessel going
to Algoa Bay."
"You will be asked to take charge of several articles which are to be
sent to the missionary station which you will pass on your way. I
presume you have no objection?"
"Certainly not; they deserve every encouragement, and any kindness and
attention I can show them will give me great pleasure."
Alexander received many proposals from different parties who wished to
join the expedition, but they were all civilly declined. In a few days a
vessel arrived, which was about to go round to the settlement at Algoa
Bay. Their stores, horses, and dogs, not forgetting Begum the baboon,
were all embarked, and, taking leave of Mr. Fairburn and the governor,
Alexander, Major Henderson, and Mr. Swinton embarked, and on the evening
of the fourth day found themselves safe at anchor in company with ten or
twelve vessels which were lying in Algoa Bay.
The vessels which lay at anchor in Algoa Bay had just arrived from
England, with a numerous collection of emigrants, who, to improve their
fortunes, had left their native land to settle in this country. Many had
landed, but the greater proportion were still on board of the vessels.
The debarkation was rapidly going on, and the whole bay was covered with
boats landing with people and stores, or returning for more. The wind
blowing from the westward, there was no surf on the beach; the sun was
bright and warm, and the scene was busy and interesting; but night came
on, and the panorama was closed in.
Alexander and his companions remained on the deck of their vessel till
an undisturbed silence reigned where but an hour or two before all was
noise and bustle. The stars, so beautiful in the southern climes, shone
out in cloudless brilliancy; the waters of the bay were smooth as glass,
and reflected them so clearly that they might have fancied that there
was a heaven beneath as well as above them. The land presented a dark
opaque mass, the mountains in the distance appearing as if they were
close to them, and rising precipitately from the shore. All was of one
somber hue, except where the lights in the houses in the town twinkled
here and there, announcing that; some had not yet dismissed their
worldly cares, and sought repose from the labors of the day. Yet all
was silent, except occasionally the barking of a dog, or the voice of
the sentry in Fort Frederick, announcing that "all was well."
"What a gathering in a small space of so many people with so many
different histories, so many causes for leaving their native land, and
with so many different fortunes in store for them, must there be on
board of an emigrant ship," observed Mr. Swinton.
"Yet all united in one feeling, and instigated by the same desire,--that
of independence, and, if possible, of wealth," rejoined Major Henderson.
"Of that there can be no doubt," said Alexander; "but it must be almost
like beginning a new life; so many ties broken by the vast ocean which
has separated them; new interests usurping the place of old ones; all
novelty and adventure to look forward to; new scenes added to new hopes
and new fears; but we must not remain too long even to watch these
beautiful heavens, for we must rise at daylight, so I shall set the
example, and wish you both good-night."
At daylight on the following morning the long-boat was hoisted out, and
the horses safely conveyed on shore. After a hasty breakfast, Alexander
and his two companions landed, to see if it were possible to obtain any
roof under which they could shelter themselves; but the number of
emigrants who had arrived put that out of the question, every house and
every bed being engaged. This was a great disappointment, as they had no
wish to return on board and reoccupy the confined space which had been
allotted to them.
Having found accommodation for their horses, they proceeded to examine
the town and resume their search for lodgings. The streets presented a
bustling and animated scene; wagons with goods, or returning empty with
their long teams of oxen; horses, sheep, and other animals, just landed;
loud talking; busy inquirers; running to and fro of men; Hottentots busy
with the gods, or smoking their pipes in idle survey; crates and boxes,
and packages of all descriptions, mixed up with agricultural implements
and ironware, lining each side of the road, upon which were seated
wives and daughters watching the property, and children looking round
with astonishment, or playing or crying.
Further out of the town were to be seen tents pitched by the emigrants,
who had provided themselves with such necessaries before they had
quitted England, and who were bivouacking like so many gipsies,
independent of lodgings and their attendant expenses, and cooking their
own provisions in kettles or frying-pans. As Alexander perceived the
latter, he said, "At all events, we have found lodgings now; I never
thought of that."
"How do you mean?"
"I have two tents in the luggage I brought from Cape Town; we must get
them on shore, and do as these people have done."
"Bravo! I am glad to hear that," replied Major Henderson; "any thing
better than remaining on board to be nibbled by the cockroaches. Shall
we return at once?"
"By all means," said Mr. Swinton; "we have but to get our mattresses and
a few other articles."
"Leave my man to do all that," said the Major; "he is used to it. In
India we almost live in tents when up the country. But here comes one
that I should know;--Maxwell, I believe?"
"Even so, my dear Henderson," replied the military officer who had been
thus addressed; "why, what brought you here?--surely you are not a
"No; I am here because I am not a settler," replied Henderson, laughing;
"I am always on the move; I am merely on my own way with my two friends
here to shoot a hippopotamus. Allow me to introduce Mr. Wilmot and Mr.
Swinton. But I see you are on duty; are you in the fort?"
"Yes; I came from Somerset about a month back. Can I be of any use to
"That depends upon circumstances; we are now going on board for our
tents, to pitch them on the hill there, as we can get no lodgings."
"Well, I can not offer you beds in the fort, but I think if you were to
pitch your tents outside the fort, on the glacis, you would be better
than on the hill; your baggage would be safer, and I should be more able
to render you any attention or assistance you may require."
"An excellent idea; if it were only on account of the baggage," replied
Henderson; "we accept your offer with pleasure."
"Well then, get them on shore as quick as you can; my men will soon have
them out for you and assist in transporting your luggage; and don't
distress yourself about your dinner, I will contrive to have something
cooked for you."
"A friend in need is a friend indeed, my good fellow. We will accept
your offers as freely as they are made: so farewell for an hour or so."
As they parted with Captain Maxwell, Henderson observed, "That was a
lucky meeting, for we shall now get on well. Maxwell is an excellent
fellow, and he will be very useful to us in making our purchases, as he
knows the people and the country: and our luggage will be safe from all
"It is indeed very fortunate," replied Mr. Swinton. "Where did you know
"In India. We have often been out hunting tigers together. How he would
like to be of our party; but that is of course impossible."
"But how shall we manage about our living, Major Henderson?" observed
Wilmot; "it will never do to quarter ourselves on your friend."
"Of course not; we should soon eat up his pay and allowance. No, no; we
will find dinners, and he will help us to cook them first and eat them
"Upon such terms, I shall gladly take up my quarters in the fort,"
replied Alexander. "But which is our boat out of all these?"
"Here, sir," cried out one of the sailors; "come along, my lads,"
continued he to the other men, who were lounging about, and who all
jumped into the boat, which pushed off, and they were soon on board of
As the master of the vessel was equally glad to get rid of his
passengers and their luggage as they were to leave, the utmost
expedition was used by all parties, and in a few hours everything was
landed, Begum, the baboon, being perched upon the stores conveyed in the
last boat. A party of soldiers sent down by Captain Maxwell assisted the
seamen to carry the various packages up to the fort, and before the
evening closed in, the tents were pitched, their beds made up, and their
baggage safely housed, while they were amusing themselves after dining
with Captain Maxwell, leaning on the parapet and watching the passing
and repassing of the boats which were unlading the vessels.
As there was little chance of rain in the present season, they lay down
on their mattresses in perfect security and comfort, and did not wake up
the next morning until breakfast was ready. After breakfast they sallied
out with Captain Maxwell to look after wagons and oxen, and as, on the
arrival of the emigrants, a number of wagons had been sent down to take
them to their destinations, Captain Maxwell soon fell in with some of
the Dutch boors of the interior with whom he had been acquainted, and
who had come down with their wagons; but previous to making any
bargains, Alexander went with Captain Maxwell to the landroost, for whom
he had brought a letter from the governor.
This gentleman immediately joined the party, and through his
intervention, before night, four excellent wagons with their tilts and
canvas coverings, and four span of oxen of fourteen each, were bought
and promised to be brought down and delivered up in good order, as soon
as they had carried up the freights with which they were charged.
As these wagons could not return under four days, the next object that
they had in view was to procure some more horses, and here they met with
difficulty; for Major Henderson, who, as an excellent judge of horses,
was requested to select them, would not accept of many that were
offered. Still they had plenty of time, as the wagons would require
fitting out previous to their departure, and this would be a work of
some days; and many articles which they had decided to procure at Algoa
Bay, instead of the Cape, were now to be sought for and selected.
At the time appointed, the wagons and teams were delivered over and paid
for. Carpenters were then engaged, and the wagons were fitted out with
lockers all round them, divided off to contain the luggage separate, so
that they might be able to obtain in a minute any thing that they might
require. While this work was proceeding, with the assistance of the
landroost, they were engaging Hottentots and other people to join the
expedition, some as drivers to the wagons, others as huntsmen, and to
perform such duties as might be required of them. Some very steady brave
men were selected, but it was impossible to make up the whole force
which they wished to take of people of known character; many of them
were engaged rather from their appearance, their promises, and the
characters they obtained from others or gave themselves, than from any
positive knowledge of them. This could not be avoided; and as they had
it in their power to dismiss them for bad conduct, it was to be presumed
that they could procure others.
It was more than three weeks before every thing was ready for their
departure, and then the caravan was composed as follows:--
The persons who belonged to it were our three gentlemen; the servant of
Major Henderson; eight drivers of the teams of oxen; twelve Hottentot
and other hunters (for some of them were of a mixed race); two
Hottentots who had charge of the horses, and two others who had charge
of a flock of Cape sheep, which were to follow the caravan, and serve as
food until they could procure oxen by purchase or game with their guns:
so that the whole force of the party amounted to twenty men: two
Hottentot women, wives of the principal men, also accompanied the
caravan to wash and assist in cooking.
The animals belonging to the caravan consisted of fifty-six fine oxen,
which composed the teams; twelve horses, as Major Henderson could only
procure six at Algoa Bay, or they would have purchased more; thirteen
dogs of various sizes, and Begum, the baboon, belonging to Captain
Henderson: to these were to be added the flock of sheep.
The wagons were fitted out as follows, chiefly under the direction of
Major Henderson and Mr. Swinton.
The first wagon, which was called Mr. Wilmot's wagon, was fitted up with
boxes or lockers all round, and contained all the stores for their own
use, such as tea, sugar, coffee, cheeses, hams, tongues, biscuits, soap,
and wax candles, wine and spirits in bottles, besides large rolls of
tobacco for the Hottentots or presents, and Alexander's clothes; his
mattress lay at the bottom of the wagons, between the lockers. The wagon
was covered with a double sail-cloth tilt, and with curtains before and
behind; the carpenter's tools were also in one of the lockers of this
The second wagon was called Mr. Swinton's wagon; it was fitted up with
lockers in the same way as the other, but it had also a large chest with
a great quantity of drawers for insects, bottles of spirits for animals,
and every thing necessary for preserving them; a ream or two of paper
for drying plants, and several other articles, more particularly a
medicine-chest well filled, for Mr. Swinton was not unacquainted with
surgery and physic. The other lockers were filled with a large quantity
of glass beads and cutlery for presents, several hundred pounds of
bullets, ready cast, and all the kitchen ware and crockery. It had the
same covering as the first, and Mr. Swinton's mattress was at night
spread in the middle between the lockers.
The third wagon was called the armory, or the Major's wagon; it was not
fitted up like the two first. The whole bottom of it was occupied with
movable chests, and four large casks of spirits, and the Major made up
his bed on the top of the chests. In the chests were gunpowder in
bottles and a quantity of small shot for present use; tobacco in large
rolls; 1 cwt. of snuff; all the heavy tools, spades, shovels, and axes,
and a variety of other useful articles.
The tilt-frame was much stouter than that of the two other wagons, for
the hoops met each other so as to make it solid. It was covered with a
tarred sail-cloth so as to be quite water-proof, and under the
tilt-frame were suspended all the guns, except the two which Alexander
and Mr. Swinton retained in their own wagons in case of emergency. The
back and front of this wagon were closed with boards, which were let
down and pulled up on hinges, so that it was a little fortress in case
of need; and as it could be locked up at any time, the Hottentots were
not able to get at the casks of spirits without committing a sort of
burglary. Begum was tied up in this wagon at night.
The fourth wagon was called the store wagon, and contained several
articles which were not immediately wanted; such as casks of flour and
bags of rice: it also held most of the ammunition, having six casks of
gunpowder, a quantity of lead, two coils of rope, iron bars, bags of
nails of various sizes, rolls of brass wire, and the two tents, with
three chairs and a small table. Like the wagon of Major Henderson, it
was covered with water-proof cloth.
Such was the fit-out which was considered necessary for this adventurous
expedition, and the crowds who came to see the preparations for the
great hunting-party, as it was called, were so great and so annoying
that the utmost haste was made to quit the town. At last the wagons were
all loaded, the Hottentots collected together from the liquor-shops,
their agreements read to them by the landroost, and any departure from
their agreements, or any misconduct, threatened with severe punishment.
The horses and oxen were brought in, and the next morning was fixed for
their departure. Having taken leave of the landroost and other gentlemen
of the town, who had loaded them with civilities, they retired to the
fort, and passed the major part of the night with Captain Maxwell; but
to avoid the crowd which would have accompanied them, and have impeded
their progress, they had resolved to set off before daylight. At two
o'clock in the morning the Hottentots were roused up, the oxen yoked,
and an hour before day-break the whole train had quitted the town, and
were traveling at a slow pace, lighted only by the brilliant stars of
the southern sky.
The plans of our travelers had been well digested. They had decided that
they would first prosecute the object of their journey by proceeding
straight through the Caffre country to the borders of the Undata River,
near or whereabout it was reported that the descendants of the whites
would be found located; and as soon as Alexander had accomplished his
mission, that they would cross the chain of mountains, and return
through the Bushmen and the Koranna country. Their reason for making
this arrangement was, that throughout the whole of the Caffre country,
with the exception of lions and elephants in the forest, and hippopotami
in the rivers, there was little or no game to be found, the Caffres
having almost wholly destroyed it.
This plan had been suggested by Major Henderson, and had been approved
by Alexander and Mr. Swinton,--Alexander being equally desirous as the
Major to have plenty of field-sport, and Mr. Swinton anxious to increase
his stock and knowledge of the animal kingdom. There was little to be
feared in their advance through the Caffre country, as the missionaries
had already planted two missions, one at Butterworth and the other at
Chumie; and the first of these Alexander had decided upon visiting, and
had, in consequence, several packages in his wagon, which had been
entrusted to his care.
It was on the 7th of May, 1829, that the caravan quitted Algoa Bay for
Graham's Town. The weather had been for some weeks fine, the heavy rains
having ceased, and the pasturage was now luxuriant; the wagons proceeded
at a noiseless pace over the herbage, the sleepy Hottentots not being at
all inclined to exert themselves unnecessarily. Alexander, Swinton, and
Henderson were on horseback, a little ahead of the first wagon.
"I don't know how you feel," said the Major; "but I feel as if I were a
prisoner just released from his chains. I breathe the air of
independence and liberty now. After the bustle, and noise, and crowding
together of the town, to find ourselves here so quiet and solitary is
"I had the same feeling," replied Alexander; "this wide-extended plain,
of which we can not yet discern the horizontal edge; these brilliant
stars scattered over the heavens, and shining down upon us; no sound to
meet our ears but the creaking of the wagon-wheels in the slow and
measured pace, is to me delightful. They say man is formed for society,
and so he is; but it is very delightful occasionally to be alone."
"Yes; alone as we are," replied Swinton, laughing; "that is, with a
party of thirty people, well armed, in search of adventure. To be clear
of the bustle of the town, and no longer cooped up in the fort, is
pleasant enough; but, I suspect, to be quite alone in these African
wilds would be any thing but agreeable."
"Neither would you feel so much at ease if you knew that your chance of
to-morrow's dinner was to depend wholly upon what you might procure with
your gun. There is a satisfaction in knowing that you have four
well-filled wagons behind you."
"I grant that also," replied the Major; "but still there is solitude
even with this company, and I feel it."
"A solitary caravan--but grant that there is some difference between
that and a solitary individual," rejoined Swinton; "however, we have not
come to solitude yet, for we shall find Dutch boors enough between this
and Graham's Town."
"I think, Wilmot," observed Henderson, "that I should, if I were you,
proceed by slow stages at first, that we may get our men into some kind
of order and discipline, and also that we may find out whether there are
any who will not suit us; we can discharge them at Graham's Town, and
procure others in their place, at the same time that we engage our
interpreters and guides."
"I think your plan very good," replied Alexander; "besides, we shall not
have our wagons properly laden and arranged until we have been out three
or four days."
"One thing is absolutely necessary, which is, to have a guard kept
every night," said Swinton; "and there ought to be two men on guard at a
time; for one of them is certain to fall asleep, if not both. I know the
"They will be excellent guards, by your account," said Alexander;
"however, the dogs will serve us more faithfully."
"I do not mean my remark to include all Hottentots; some are very
faithful, and do their duty; but it comprehends the majority."
"Are they courageous?" inquired Alexander.
"Yes, certainly, they may be considered as a brave race of men; but
occasionally there is a poltroon, and, like all cowards, he brags more
than the rest."
"I've a strong suspicion that we have one of that kind among our
hunters," replied Henderson; "however, it is not fair to prejudge; I may
"I think I know which you refer to, nevertheless," said Alexander; "it
is the great fellow that they call Big Adam."
"You have hit upon the man, and to a certain degree corroborated my
opinion of him. But the day is dawning, the sun will soon be above those
"When we stop, I will have some grease put to those wagon-wheels," said
"I fear it will be of little use," replied the Major; "creak they will.
I don't know whether the oxen here are like those in India; but this I
know, that the creaking of the carts and hackeries there is fifty times
worse than this. The natives never grease the wheels; they say the oxen
would not go on if they did not hear the music behind them."
"Besides, the creaking of the wheels will by and by be of service; when
we are traveling through grass higher than our heads, we shall not be
able to stop behind a minute, if we have not the creaking of the wheels
to direct us how to follow."
"Well, then, I suppose we must save our grease," said Alexander.
"In a very few days you will be so accustomed to it," said the Major,
"that if it were to cease, you would feel the loss of it."
"Well, it may be so; use is second nature; but at present I feel as if
the loss would be gain. There is the sun just showing himself above the
hill. Shall we halt or go on?"
"Go on for another hour, and the men can thus examine the traces and the
wagons by daylight, and then, when we stop, we can remedy any defects."
"Be it so; there is a house, is there not, on the rising ground, as far
as you can see?"
"Yes, I think so," replied the Major.
"I know it very well," said Swinton; "it is the farm of a Dutch boor,
Milius, whom we saw at Algoa Bay. I did not think that we had got on so
fast. It is about three miles off, so it will just be convenient for our
breakfast. It will take us a good hour to arrive there, and then we will
unyoke the oxen. How many have we yoked?"
"Ten to each wagon. The other sixteen are following with the sheep and
horses; they are as relays."
"Let us gallop on," said the Major.
"Agreed," replied the others; and putting spurs to their horses, they
soon arrived at the farmhouse of the Dutch planter.
They were saluted with the barking and clamor of about twenty dogs,
which brought out one of the young boors, who drove away the dogs by
pelting them with bullock-horns, and other bones of animals which were
strewed about. He then requested them to dismount. The old boor soon
appeared, and gave them a hearty welcome, handing down from the shelf a
large brandy-bottle, and recommending a dram, of which he partook
himself, stating that it was good brandy, and made from his own peaches.
Shortly afterward the wife of the boor made her appearance, and having
saluted them, took up her station at a small table, with the tea
apparatus before her. That refreshing beverage she now poured out for
the visitors, handing a box, with some sugar-candy in it, for them to
put a bit into their youths, and keep there as they drank their tea, by
way of sweetening it. The old boor told them he had expected them, as he
had been informed that they were to set out that day; but he had
concluded that they would arrive in the afternoon, and not so early.
We may as well here give a description of a Dutch farmer's house at the
It was a large square building, the wall built up of clay, and then
plastered with a composition made by the boors, which becomes
excessively hard in time; after which it is whitewashed. The roof was
thatched with a hard sort of rushes, more durable and less likely to
catch fire than straw. There was no ceiling under the roof, but the
rafters overhead were hung with a motley assemblage of the produce of
the chase and farm, as large whips made of rhinoceros-hide, leopard and
lion skins, ostrich eggs and feathers, strings of onions, rolls of
tobacco, bamboos, etc.
The house contained one large eating-room, a small private room, and two
bedrooms. The windows were not glazed, but closed with skins every
night. There was no chimney or stove in the house, all the cooking being
carried on in a small outhouse.
The furniture was not very considerable: a large table, a few chairs and
stools, some iron pots and kettles, a set of Dutch teacups, a teapot,
and a brass kettle, with a heater. The large, brass-clasped, family
Dutch Bible occupied a small table, at which the mistress of the house
presided, and behind her chair were the carcasses of two sheep,
suspended from a beam.
Inquiries about the news at the Cape, and details of all the information
which our travelers could give, had occupied the time till breakfast was
put on the table. It consisted of mutton boiled and stewed, butter,
milk, fruits, and good white bread. Before breakfast was over the
caravan arrived, and the oxen were unyoked. Our travelers passed away
two hours in going over the garden and orchards, and visiting the
cattlefolds, and seeing the cows milked. They then yoked the teams, and
wishing the old boor a farewell, and thanking him for his hospitality,
they resumed their journey.
"Is it always the custom here to receive travelers in this friendly
way?" observed Alexander, as they rode away.
"Always," replied Swinton; "there are no inns on the road, and every
traveler finds a welcome. It is considered a matter of course."
"Do they never take payment?"
"Never, and it must not be offered; but they will take the value of the
corn supplied to your horses, as that is quite another thing. One
peculiarity you will observe as you go along, which is, that the Dutch
wife is a fixture at the little tea-table all day long. She never leaves
it, and the tea is always ready for every traveler who claims their
hospitality; it is an odd custom."
"And I presume that occasions the good woman to become so very lusty."
"No doubt of it; the whole exercise of the day is from the bedroom to
the teapot, and back again," replied Swinton, laughing.
"One would hardly suppose that this apparently good-natured and
hospitable people could have been guilty of such cruelty to the natives
as Mr. Fairburn represented."
"Many of our virtues and vices are brought prominently forward by
circumstances," replied Swinton. "Hospitality in a thinly-inhabited
country is universal, and a Dutch boor is hospitable to an excess. Their
cruelty to the Hottentots and other natives arises from the prejudices
of education: they have from their childhood beheld them treated as
slaves, and do not consider them as fellow-creatures. As Mr. Fairburn
truly said, nothing demoralizes so much, or so hardens the heart of man,
as slavery existing and sanctioned by law."
"But are not the Dutch renowned for cruelty and love of money?"
"They have obtained that reputation, and I fear there is some reason for
it. They took the lead, it must be remembered, as a commercial nation,
more commercial than the Portuguese, whose steps they followed so
closely: that this eager pursuit of wealth should create a love of money
is but too natural, and to obtain money, men, under the influence of
that passion, will stop at nothing. Their cruelties in the East are on
record; but the question is, whether the English, who followed the path
of the Dutch, would not, had they gone before them, have been guilty of
the same crimes to obtain the same ends? The Spaniards were just as
cruel in South America, and the Portuguese have not fallen short of
them; nay, I doubt if our own countrymen can be acquitted in many
instances. The only difference is, that the other nations who preceded
them in discoveries had greater temptation, because there were more
riches and wealth to be obtained."
"Your remarks are just; well may we say in the Lord's Prayer, 'Lead us
not into temptation,' for we are all too frail to withstand it."
At noon they again unyoked, and allowed the cattle to graze for an
interval; after which they proceeded till an hour before dark, when they
mustered the men, and gave them their several charges and directions. At
Alexander's request the Major took this upon himself, and he made a long
speech to the Hottentots, stating that it was their intention to reward
those who did their duty, and to punish severely those who did not. They
then collected wood for the fires, and had their supper,--the first meal
which they had taken out of doors. Mahomed, the Parsee servant of Major
Henderson, cooked very much to their satisfaction; and having tied the
oxen to the wagons, to accustom them to the practice, more than from any
danger to be apprehended, the watch was set to keep up the fires: they
then all retired to bed, the gentlemen sleeping in their wagons, and the
Hottentots underneath them, or by the sides of the fires which had been
It will be unnecessary to enter into a detail of the journey to Graham's
Town, which was performed without difficulty. They did not arrive there
until eight days after their departure from Algoa Bay, as they purposely
lost time on the road, that things might find their places. At Graham's
Town they received every kindness and attention from the few military
who were there and the landroost. Here they dismissed three of the men,
who had remained drunk in the liquor-houses during their stay, and
hired nine more, who were well recommended; among these were two
perfectly well acquainted with the Caffre language and country; so that
they were serviceable both as interpreters and guides. The day after
their arrival, when they were out in the skirts of the town, Mr. Swinton
perceived something moving in the bushes. He advanced cautiously, and
discovered that it was a poor little Bushman boy, about twelve years
old, quite naked, and evidently in a state of starvation, having been
left there in a high fever by his people. He was so weak that he could
not stand, and Mr. Swinton desired the Hottentot who was with him to
lift him up, and carry him to the wagons. Some medicine and good food
soon brought the little fellow round again, and he was able to walk
about. He showed no disposition to leave them; indeed he would watch for
Mr. Swinton, and follow him as far as he could. The child evidently
appeared to feel attachment and gratitude, and when they were about to
depart, Mr. Swinton, through the medium of one of the Hottentots who
could speak the language, asked him if he would like to stay with them.
The answer was in the affirmative, and it was decided that he should
accompany them, the Major observing that he would be a very good
companion for Begum.
"What name shall we give him?" said Swinton.
"Why, as my baboon is by title a princess, I think we can not create him
less than a prince. Let us call him Omrah."
"Omrah be it then," replied Mr. Swinton, "until we can name him in a
more serious way."
So Omrah was put into the wagon, with Begum to amuse him, and our
travelers took their departure from Graham's Town.
[Illustration: THE BUSHMAN BOY.]
It was in the afternoon that they moved from Graham's Town. They had
intended to have started earlier, but they found it impossible to
collect the Hottentots, who were taking their farewells of their wives
and their liquor-shops. As it was, most of them were in a state of
intoxication, and it was considered advisable to get them out of the
town as soon as possible. Late in the evening they arrived at Hermann's
Kraal, a small military fort, where they remained for the night to give
the Hottentots an opportunity of recovering from the effects of the
liquor. The next morning they again started, and the landscape now
changed its aspect, being covered with thick bushes, infested with wild
A barren and sterile country was soon spread before them, the sun was
oppressively hot, and not a sign of water was to be observed in any
direction. At last they arrived at a muddy pool, in which elephants had
evidently been enjoying themselves, and the oxen and horses were but too
glad to do the same. At night they halted as before, having lighted
fires to keep off the wild beasts and the elephants.
The following morning they renewed their journey at daylight, and the
scene again changed; they now plunged into the dense forests bordering
on the great Fish River, which they forded in safety. The prospects all
around were very beautiful, the river smoothly gliding through
stupendous mountains and precipices, with verdant valleys on each side
of its banks. In the afternoon they arrived at Fort Wiltshire, the
outermost defense of the colony, situated on the banks of the Keiskamma.
English troops were stationed there, to prevent any marauding parties
from passing the river, or to intercept them on their return with their
As this was the last spot where they could expect to see any of their
countrymen, and they were kindly received by the officers, they agreed
to remain two days, that they might obtain all the information which
they could, and rearrange the stowing of the wagons before they
started. The original plan had been to direct their course to Chumie,
the first missionary station, which was about twenty-five miles distant;
but as it was out of their way, they now resolved to proceed direct to
Butterworth, which was forty miles further in the Caffre country, and
the more distant of the two missions. Our party took leave of their kind
entertainers, and, having crossed without difficulty at the ford the
Keiskamma river, had passed the neutral ground, and were in the land of
Up to the present they had very little trouble with the Hottentots whom
they had hired. As long as they were within reach of the law they
behaved well; but now that they had passed the confines of the Cape
territory, some of them began to show symptoms of insubordination. The
dismissal of one, however, with an order to go back immediately, and
threatening to shoot him if he was ever seen in the caravan, had the
desired effect of restoring order. The country was now a series of hills
and dales, occasionally of deep ravines, and their route lay through the
paths made by the elephants, which were numerous. A Hottentot of the
name of Bremen, who was considered as their best man and most practiced
hunter, begged Alexander and his companions to be careful how they went
along, if they preceded the rest on horseback; as the elephants always
return by the same path at evening or after nightfall, in whatever
direction they may have been feeding, and it is very dangerous to
For two days they continued their course in nearly a straight line for
the missionary establishment. On the second evening, just about dusk, as
they were crossing a woody hill, by the elephants' path, being then
about 200 yards in advance of the wagons, they were saluted with one of
the most hideous shrieks that could be conceived. Their horses started
back; they could see nothing, although the sound echoed through the
hills for some seconds.
"What was that?" exclaimed Alexander.
"Shout as loud as you can," cried the Major; "and turn your horses to
Alexander and Swinton joined the Major in the shout, and were soon
accompanied by the whole mass of Hottentots, shouting and yelling as
loud as they could.
"Silence, now," cried the Major; every one was hushed, and they listened
for a few seconds.
"It was only one, sir, and he is gone," said Bremen. "We may go on."
"Only one what?" inquired Alexander.
"An elephant, sir," replied the Hottentot; "it's well that he did not
charge you; he would have tumbled you down the precipice, horse and all.
There must be a herd here, and we had better stop as soon as we are down
the other side of the hill."
"I think so too," replied the Major.
"I shall not get that shriek out of my ears for a month," said
Alexander; "why, the roar of a lion can not be so bad."
"Wait till you hear it," replied Swinton.
They had now arrived at the bottom of the hill which they had been
passing, and by the light of the stars they selected a spot for their
encampment. Whether they were near to any Caffre kraals or not it was
impossible to say; but they heard no barking of dogs or lowing of oxen.
Having collected all the cattle, they formed a square of the four
wagons, and passed ropes from the one to the other; the horses and sheep
were driven within the square, and the oxen were, as usual, tied up to
the sides of the wagons.
It should here be observed, that the oxen were turned out to graze early
in the morning, yoked in the afternoon, and they traveled then as far as
they could after nightfall, to avoid the extreme heat of the day, the
continual visits of the Carries, and the risk of losing the cattle if
they were allowed to be loose and fed during the night.
On the night we have been referring to, a more than usual number of
fires were lighted, to keep off the elephants and other wild animals.
The hyenas and wolves were very numerous, and prowled the whole night in
hopes of getting hold of some of the sheep; but as yet there had not
been seen or heard a lion, although an occasional track had been
pointed out by the Hottentots.
When the Hottentots had finished their labor, our travelers had to wait
till the fires were lighted and a sheep killed before they could have
their suppers cooked by Mahomed. Begum, the baboon, had been released
from her confinement since their crossing the Fish River, and as usual,
when they sat down, came and made one of the party, generally creeping
in close to her master until supper was served, when she would have her
finger in every dish, and steal all she could, sometimes rather to their
Our little Bushman had now quite recovered not only his strength but his
gayety, and was one of the most amusing little fellows that could be met
He could not make himself understood except to one or two of the
Hottentots; but he was all pantomime, trying, by gestures and signs, to
talk to Mr. Swinton and his companions. He endeavored to assist Mahomed
as much as he could, and appeared to have attached himself to him, for
he kept no company with the Hottentots. He was not more than three feet
and a half high, and with limbs remarkably delicate, although well made.
His face was very much like a monkey's, and his gestures and manners
completely so; he was quite as active and full of fun. The watch had
been set as soon as the fires were lighted; and close to where Alexander
and the others were seated, Big Adam, the Hottentot we have mentioned as
having raised doubts in the mind of the Major as to his courage, had
just mounted guard, with his gun in his hand. Omrah came up to where
they were sitting, and they nodded and smiled at him, and said, "How do
you do?" in English.
The boy, who had already picked up a few sentences, answered in the same
words, "How do you do?" and then pointing to Big Adam, whose back was
turned, he began making a number of signs, and nodding his head; at last
he bent down, putting his arm in front of him, and raising it like an
elephant's trunk, walking with the measured steps of that animal, so as
fully to make them Understand that he intended to portray an elephant.
Having so done, he went up behind Big Adam, and gave a shriek so
exactly like that which the elephant had given an hour before, that the
Hottentot started up, dropped his musket, and threw himself flat on the
ground, in order that the supposed animal might pass by him unperceived.
The other Hottentots had been equally startled, and had seized their
muskets, looking in every direction for the approach of the animal; but
the convulsions of laughter which proceeded from the party soon told
them that there was nothing to apprehend, and that little Omrah had been
playing his tricks. Big Adam rose up, looking very foolish; he had just
before been telling his companions how many elephants he had killed, and
had been expressing his hopes that they soon should have an
"Well," observed Swinton, after the laugh was over, "it proves that Adam
is an elephant-hunter, and knows what to do in time of danger."
"Yes," replied the Major; "and it also proves that our opinion of him
was just, and that with him the best part of valor is discretion."
"The most wonderful escape from an elephant which we have on record
here," observed Swinton, "is that of Lieutenant Moodie; did you ever
hear of it? I had it from his own lips."
"I never did, at all events," said Alexander; "and if the Major has, he
will listen very patiently, to oblige me."
"I have never heard the precise particulars, and shall therefore be as
glad to be a listener as Wilmot."
"Well, then, I will begin. Lieutenant Moodie was out elephant-hunting
with a party of officers and soldiers, when one day he was told that a
large troop of elephants was close at hand, and that several of the men
were out, and in pursuit of them. Lieutenant Moodie immediately seized
his gun, and went off in the direction where he heard the firing.
"He had forced his way through a jungle, and had just come to a cleared
spot, when he heard some of his people calling out, in English and
Dutch, 'Take care, Mr. Moodie, take care,' As they called out, he heard
the crackling of branches broken by the elephants as they were bursting
through the wood, and then tremendous screams, such as we heard this
night. Immediately afterward four elephants burst out from the jungle,
not two hundred yards from where he stood. Being alone on the open
ground, he knew that if he fired and did not kill, he could have no
chance; so he hastily retreated, hoping that the animals would not see
him. On looking back, however, he perceived, to his dismay, that they
were all in chase of him, and rapidly gaining on him; he therefore
resolved to reserve his fire till the last moment, and, turning toward
some precipitous rocks, hoped to gain them before the elephants could
come up with him. But he was still at least fifty paces from the rocks,
when he found that the elephants were within half that distance of
him,--one very large animal, and three smaller,--all in a row, as if
determined that he should not escape, snorting so tremendously that he
was quite stunned with the noise."
"That's what I call a very pretty position," observed the Major. "Go on,
Swinton; the affair is becoming a little nervous."
"As his only chance, Lieutenant Moodie turned round, and leveled his gun
at the largest elephant; but unfortunately the powder was damp, and the
gun hung fire, till he was in the act of taking it from his shoulder,
when it went off, and the ball merely grazed the side of the elephant's
head. The animal halted for an instant, and then made a furious charge
upon him. He fell; whether struck down by the elephant's trunk he can
not say. The elephant then thrust at him as he lay, with his tusk;
fortunately it had but one, and more fortunately it missed its mark,
plowing up the ground within an inch of Mr. Moodie's body.
"The animal then caught him up with its trunk by his middle, and dashed
him down between his fore-feet to tread him to death. Once it pressed so
heavily on his chest, that all his bones bent under the weight, but
somehow or other, whether from the animal being in a state of alarm, it
never contrived to have its whole weight upon him; for Mr. Moodie had
never lost his recollection, and kept twisting his body and his limbs,
so as to prevent it from obtaining a direct tread upon him. While he
was in this state of distress, another officer and a Hottentot hunter
came up to his assistance, and fired several shots at the animal, which
was severely wounded, and the other three took to their heels. At last
the one which had possession of Mr. Moodie turned round, and giving him a
cuff with its fore-feet followed the rest. Mr. Moodie got up, picked up
his gun, and staggered away as fast as his aching bones would permit
him. He met his brother, who had just been informed by one of the
Hottentots, who had seen him under the elephant, that he was killed."
"Well, that was an escape," observed Wilmot.
"What made it more remarkable was, that he had hardly time to explain to
his brother his miraculous preservation, before he witnessed the death
of one of the hunters, a soldier, who had attracted the notice of a
large male elephant which had been driven out of the jungle. The fierce
animal gave chase to him, and caught him immediately under the height
where Mr. Moodie and his brother were standing, carried the poor fellow
for some distance on his trunk, then threw him down, and stamping upon
him until he was quite dead, left the body for a short time. The
elephant then returned, as if to make sure of its destruction; for it
kneeled down on the body, and kneaded it with his fore-legs; then,
rising, it seized it again with its trunk, carried it to the edge of the
jungle, and hurled it into the bushes."
"Dreadful! I had no idea that there was such danger in an elephant-hunt;
yet I must say," continued Alexander, "that, although it may appear
foolishness, it only makes me more anxious to have one."
"Well, as we advance, you will have no want of opportunity; but it will
be better to get the Caffres to join us, which they will with great
"Why, they have no weapons, except their spears."
"None; but they will attack him with great success, as you will see;
they watch their opportunity as he passes, get behind, and drive their
spears into his body until the animal is exhausted from loss of blood,
and they are so quick that the elephant seldom is able to destroy one
of them. They consider the elephant of as high rank as one of their
kings, and it is very laughable to hear them, as they wound him, beg
pardon of him, and cry out, 'Great man, don't be angry; great captain,
don't kill us,'"
"But how is it that they can approach so terrible an animal without
"It is because they do approach quite close to him. An elephant sees but
badly, except straight before him, and he turns with difficulty. The
Caffres are within three feet of his tail or flank when they attack, and
they attack him in the elephant-paths, which are too narrow for the
animal to turn without difficulty; the great risk that they run is from
another elephant breaking out to the assistance of the one attacked."
"The animals do assist each other, then?"
"Yes; there was a remarkable instance of it in the affair of Lieutenant
Moodie. I mentioned that it was a large male elephant which killed the
soldier just after Mr. Moodie's escape. Shortly afterward a shot from
one of the hunters broke the fore-leg of this animal, and prevented him
from running, and there it stood to be fired at. The female elephant,
which was in the jungle, witnessing the distress of its mate, regardless
of her own danger, immediately rushed out to his assistance, chasing
away the hunters, and walked round and round her mate, constantly
returning to his side, and caressing him. When the male attempted to
walk, she had the sagacity to place her flank against the wounded side,
so as to support him, and help him along. At last the female received a
severe wound, and staggered into the bush, where she fell; and the male
was soon after laid prostrate by the side of the poor soldier whom he
"There is something very touching in the last portion of your story,
Swinton," observed Alexander; "it really makes one feel a sort of
respect for such intelligent and reasoning animals."
"I think the first portion of the story ought to teach you to respect
them also," said the Major. "Seriously, however, I quite agree with you;
their sagacity, as my Indian experience has taught me, is
wonderful;--but here comes supper, and I am not sorry for it."
"Nor I," replied Alexander. "To-morrow we shall be at the missionary
station, if the guides are correct. I am very anxious to get there, I
must say. Does not the chief of the Amakosa tribe live close to the
Mission-house,--Hinza, as they call him?"
"Yes," replied Swinton, "he does, and we must have a present ready for
him, for I think it would be advisable to ask an escort of his warriors
to go with us after we leave the Mission."
"Yes, it will be quite as well," replied the Major, "and then we shall
have some elephant-hunting: but Bremen tells me that there are plenty of
hippopotami in the river there, close to the Mission."
"Water-elephants," replied Swinton; "I suppose you will not leave them
"Certainly not if our commander-in-chief will allow us to stop."
"I think your commander-in-chief," replied Wilmot, "is just as anxious
to have a day's sport with them as you are, Major; so you will certainly
have his permission."
"I think we ought to put Omrah on a horse. He is a nice light weight for
a spare horse, if required."
"Not a bad idea," replied Alexander. "What a tiger he would make for a
cab in the park!"
"More like a monkey," replied the Major; "but it is time to go to bed;
The caravan proceeded on the following morning, and by noon they arrived
at the Mission station of Butterworth, which was about one hundred and
forty miles from the colonial boundaries. This station had only been
settled about three years, but even in that short time it wore an air of
civilization strongly contrasted with the savage country around it. The
Mission-house was little better than a large cottage, it is true, and
the church a sort of barn; but it was surrounded by neat Caffre huts and
gardens full of produce.
On the arrival of the caravan, Mr. S., the missionary, came out to meet
the travelers, and to welcome them. He had been informed that they would
call at the station, and bring some articles which had been sent for. It
hardly need be said that, meeting at such a place, and in such a
country, the parties soon became on intimate terms. Mr. S. offered them
beds and accommodation in his house, but our travelers refused; they
were well satisfied with their own; and having unyoked their oxen, and
turned them out to graze with those belonging to the station, they
accepted the missionary's invitation to join his repast.
Alexander having stated the object of his expedition, requested the
advice of Mr. S. as to his further proceedings, and asked him whether it
would not be advisable to see the Caffre king, and make him a present.
This Mr. S. strongly advised them to do; and to ask for a party of
Caffres to accompany the caravan, which would not only insure them
safety, but would prove in many respects very useful. All that would be
necessary would be to find them in food and to promise them a present,
if they conducted themselves well. "You are aware," continued he, "that
Hinza's domain only extends as far as the Bashee or St. John's River,
and you will have to proceed beyond that; but with some of the Caffre
warriors you will have no difficulty, as the tribes further will not
only fear your strength, but also the anger of Hinza, should they commit
any depredation. But things, I regret to say, do not look very peaceable
"Indeed! what is the quarrel, and with whom?"
"Hinza has quarreled with a powerful neighboring chief of the name of
Voosani, who reigns over the Tambookie tribes, about some cattle, which
are the grand cause of quarrels in these countries, and both parties are
preparing for war. But whether it will take place is doubtful, as they
are both threatened with a more powerful enemy, and may probably be
compelled to unite, in order to defend themselves."
"And who may that be?"
"Quetoo, the chief of the Amaquibi, is in arms with a large force, and
threatens the other tribes to the northward of us; if he conquers them,
he will certainly come down here. He was formerly one of Chaka's
generals, and is, like him, renowned for slaughter. At present he is too
far to the northward to interfere with you, but I should advise you to
lose no time in effecting your mission; for should he advance, you will
be compelled to retreat immediately. I had better send to Hinza to-morrow
to let him know that strangers have come and wish to see him, that they
may make him a present. That notice will bring him fast enough; not but
that he well knows you are here, and has known that you have been in his
country long ago."
"It will be as well, after the information you have given us," said Mr.
"What is your opinion of the Caffres, Mr. S., now that you have resided
so long with them?"
"They are, for heathens, a fine nation,--bold, frank, and, if any thing
is confided to them, scrupulously honest; but cattle-stealing is
certainly not considered a crime among them, although it is punished as
one. Speaking as a minister of the Gospel, I should say they are the
most difficult nation to have any thing to do with that it ever has been
my lot to visit. They have no religion whatever; they have no idols; and
no idea of the existence of a God. When I have talked to them about God,
their reply is, 'Where is he? show him to me.'"
"But have they no superstitions?"
"They believe in necromancy, and have their conjurers, who do much harm,
and are our chief opponents, as we weaken their influence, and
consequently their profits. If cattle are stolen, they are referred to.
If a chief is sick, they are sent for to know who has bewitched him;
they must of course mention some innocent person, who is sacrificed
immediately. If the country is parched from want of rain, which it so
frequently is, then the conjurers are in great demand: they are sent for
to produce rain. If, after all their pretended mysteries, the rain does
not fall so as to save their reputation, they give some plausible
reason, generally ending, however, in the sacrifice of some innocent
individual; and thus they go on, making excuses after excuses until the
rain does fall, and they obtain all the credit of it. I need hardly say
that these people are our greatest enemies."
"Are you satisfied with the success which you have had?"
"Yes, I am, when I consider the difficulty to be surmounted. Nothing but
the Divine assistance could have produced such effects as have already
taken place. The chiefs are to a man opposed to us."
"Because Christianity strikes at the root of their sensuality; it was
the same when it was first preached by our Divine Master. The riches of
a Caffre consist not only in his cattle, but in the number of his wives,
who are all his slaves. To tell them that polygamy is unlawful and
wrong, is therefore almost as much as to tell them that it is not right
to hold a large herd of cattle; and as the chiefs are of course the
opulent of the nation, they oppose us. You observe in Caffreland, as
elsewhere, it is 'hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of
heaven.' I have asked the chiefs why they will not come to church, and
their reply has been, 'The great word is calculated to lessen our
pleasures and diminish the number of our wives; to this we can never
"But still you say you have made some progress."
"If I have, let it be ascribed to the Lord, and not to me and my
otherwise useless endeavors; it must be His doing; and without His aid
and assistance, the difficulties would have been insurmountable. It is
for me only to bear in mind the scriptural injunction, 'In the morning
sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest
not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both
shall be alike good.'"
"But have they no idea whatever of a Supreme Being, either bad or good?
have they no idea, as some of the African tribes have, of the devil?"
"None; and in their language they have no word to express the idea of
the Deity; they swear by their kings of former days as great chiefs,
but no more. Now if they had any religion whatever, you might, by
pointing out to them the falsity and absurdity of that religion, and
putting it in juxtaposition with revealed Truth, have some hold upon
their minds; but we have not even that advantage."
"But can not you make an impression upon their minds by referring to the
wonders of nature,--by asking them who made the sun and stars? Surely
they might be induced to reflect by such a method."
"I have tried it a hundred times, and they have laughed at me for my
fables, as they have termed them. One of the chiefs told me to hold my
tongue, that his people might not think me mad. The Scriptures, indeed,
teach us that, without the aid of direct revelation, men are also
without excuse if they fail to attain to a certain knowledge of the
Deity,--'even his eternal power and God-head,'--by a devout
contemplation of the visible world, which with all its wonders is spread
out before them as an open volume. But beyond this, all knowledge of the
origin or manner of creation is derived, not from the deductions of
human reasoning, but from the Divine testimony; for it is expressly
said, 'Through faith we understand that the worlds were made by the word
"Nevertheless you must admit that, among the civilized nations of
Europe, many who deny revelation, and treat the Bible as a fable,
acknowledge that the world must have been made by a Supreme Power."
"My dear sir, many affect to deny the truth of revelation out of pride
and folly, who still in their consciences can not but believe it. Here,
there being no belief in a Deity, they will not be persuaded that the
world was made by one. Indeed, we have much to contend with, and perhaps
one of the greatest difficulties is in the translation of the
Scriptures. I sit down with an interpreter who can not read a single
word, and with perhaps a most erroneous and imperfect knowledge of
divine things. We open the sacred volume, and it is first translated
into barbarous Dutch to the Caffre interpreter, who then has to tell us
how that Dutch is to be put into the Caffre language. Now you may
imagine what mistakes may arise. I have found out lately that I have
been stating the very contrary to what I would have said. With this
translation, I stand up to read a portion of the Word of God, for my
interpreter can not read, and hence any slight defect or change in a
syllable may give altogether a different sense from what I desire to
"That must indeed be a great difficulty, and require a long residence
and full acquaintance with the language to overcome."
"And even then not overcome, for the language has no words to express
abstract ideas; but the Lord works after His own way, and at His own
"You do not then despair of success?"
"God forbid; I should be indeed a most unworthy servant of our Divine
Master, if I so far distrusted His power. No; much good has been already
done, as you will perceive when we meet to-morrow to perform Divine
service; but there is much more to do, and, with His blessing, will in
His own good time be perfected; but I have duties to attend to which
call me away for the present; I shall therefore wish you good-night. At
all events, the Mission has had one good effect: you are perfectly safe
from Caffre violence and Caffre robbery. This homage is paid to it even
by their kings and chiefs."
"I will say, that if we are only to judge by the little we have seen,
the Mission appears to have done good," observed the Major. "In the
first place, we are no longer persecuted, as we have been during our
journey, for presents; and, as you may observe, many of the Caffres
about are clothed in European fashions, and those who have nothing but
their national undress, I may call it, wear it as decently as they can."
"I made the same observation," said Alexander. "I am most anxious for
to-morrow, as I wish to see how the Caffres behave; and really, when you
consider all the difficulties which Mr. S. has mentioned, it is
wonderful that he and those who have embraced the same calling should
persevere as they do."
"My dear Wilmot," replied Mr. Swinton, "a missionary, even of the most
humble class, is a person of no ordinary mind; he does not rely upon
himself or upon his own exertions,--he relies not upon others, or upon
the assistance of this world; if he did, he would, as you say, soon
abandon his task in despair. No; he is supported, he is encouraged, he
is pressed on by faith--faith in Him who never deserts those who trust
and believe in Him; he knows that, if it is His pleasure, the task will
be easy, but at the same time that it must be at His own good time.
Convinced of this, supported by this, encouraged by this, and venturing
his life for this, he toils on, in full assurance that if he fails
another is to succeed,--that if he becomes a martyr, his blood will
moisten the arid soil from which the future seed will spring. A
missionary may be low in birth, low in education, as many are; but he
must be a man of exalted mind,--what in any other pursuit we might term
an enthusiast; and in this spreading of the Divine word, he merits
respect for his fervor, his courage, and self-devotion; his willingness,
if the Lord should so think fit, to accept the crown of martyrdom."
"You are right, Swinton; nothing but what you have described could impel
a man to pass a life of privation and danger among a savage
race--leaving all, and following his Master in the true apostolic sense.
Well, they will have their reward."
"Yes, in heaven, Wilmot; not on earth," replied Swinton.
The next day, being the Sabbath, with the assistance of Mahomed, who was
valet as well as cook to the whole party, they divested themselves of
their beards, which had not been touched for many days, and dressed
themselves in more suitable apparel than their usual hunting costume,--a
respect paid to the Sabbath by even the most worldly and most
indifferent on religious points. The bell of the Mission church was
tolled, and the natives were seen coming from all directions. Our party
went in, and found Mr. S. already there, and that seats had been
provided for them. The numbers of natives who were assembled in the
church were about 200, but many more were at the windows, and sitting by
the open door.
Many of them were clothed in some sort of European apparel; those who
were not, drew their krosses close round them, so as to appear more
covered. A hymn in the Caffre language was first sung, and then prayers,
after which the Litany and responses; the Commandments were repeated in
the same language. Mr. S. then read a chapter in the Bible, and
explained it to the assembly. Profound silence and quiet attention
generally prevailed, although in some few instances there was mockery
from those outside. Mr. S. gave the blessing, and the service was ended.
"You have already done much," observed Mr. Swinton. "I could hardly have
believed that a concourse of savages could have been so attentive, and
have behaved with such decorum."
"It certainly is the most difficult point gained,--to command their
attention, I mean," replied Mr. S.; "after that, time and patience, with
the assistance of God, will effect the rest."
"Do you think that there are many who, if I may use the term, feel their
"Yes, many; and prove it by traveling about and sowing the seed. There
are many who not only are qualified so to do, but are incessantly
laboring to bring their countrymen to God."
"That must be very satisfactory to you."
"It is; but what am I, and the few who labor with me, to the thousands
and thousands who are here in darkness and require our aid? There are
now but three missions in all Caffreland; and there is full employment
for two hundred, if they could be established. But you must excuse me, I
have to catechise the children, who are my most promising pupils. We
will meet again in the evening, for I have to preach at a neighboring
village. Strange to say, many who doubt and waver will listen to me
there; but they appear to think that there is some witchcraft in the
Mission church, or else are afraid to acknowledge to their companions
that they have been inside of it."
The missionary then left them, and Alexander observed--
"I don't know how you feel? but I assure you it has been a great
pleasure to me to have found myself in this humble church, and hearing
Divine service in this wild country."
Both Swinton and Major Henderson expressed the same opinion.
"I am not afraid of being laughed at," continued Alexander, "when I tell
you that I think it most important, wherever we may be during our
travels, to keep the Sabbath holy, by rest and reading the service."
"With pleasure, as far as I am concerned, and I thank you for the
proposal," replied Swinton.
"And I am equally pleased that you have proposed it, Wilmot," said Major
Henderson; "even we may be of service to the good cause, if, as we pass
through the land, the natives perceive that we respect the Sabbath as
the missionary has requested them to do. We are white men, and
considered by them as superior; our example, therefore, may do good."
The evening was passed away very agreeably with Mr. S., who was
inexhaustible in his anecdotes of the Caffres. He informed them that
Hinza intended to call the next morning to receive his presents, and
that he would be interpreter for them if they wished it.
Alexander, having thanked the missionary, said, "I think you mentioned,
sir, that some of your brother missionaries have their wives with them.
Since you have told me so much of the precarious tenure by which you
hold your ground here, and I may add your lives, I think that the wives
of the missionaries must have even more to encounter than their
"You are right, sir," replied the missionary; "there is no situation so
trying, so perilous, and I may say, so weary to the mind and body, as
that of a female missionary. She has to encounter the same perils and
the same hardships as her husband, without having the strength of our
sex to support them; and what is more painful than all, she is often
left alone in the Mission-house, while her husband, who has left her, is
proceeding on his duty, at the hourly peril of his life. There she is
alone, and compelled to listen to all the reports and falsehoods which
are circulated; at one moment she is told that her husband has been
murdered; at another, that he is still alive. She has no means of
hearing from him, as there is no communication throughout the country;
thus is she left in this horrible state of suspense and anxiety, perhaps
for many weeks. I have a letter from a brother missionary which is in my
writing-desk, wherein the case in point is well portrayed; I will get
it, and read that portion to you." Mr. S. went to the other end of the
room, and came back with a letter, from which he read as follows:--
"Having been detained among those distant tribes for nearly two months,
report upon report had been circulated that the interpreters and guides,
as well as myself, had all been murdered. On my arrival within forty
miles of the station, I was informed that all doubt upon the subject had
been removed by a party of natives who had passed the Mission station,
and who pretended an acquaintance with all the particulars of the
massacre. We had been traveling the whole day, and night had come on; I
was most anxious to proceed, that I might relieve the mind of my dear
wife, but the earnest remonstrances of my little party, who represented
it as certain death to all of us to cross the plains, which were
infested with lions and other savage beasts who were prowling in every
direction, at length induced me to wait till the next day. But scarcely
had day begun to dawn when I sallied forth, without either arms or
guide, except a pocket compass, leaving my fellow-travelers to bring on
the wagon as soon as they should arouse from their slumbers. This
impatience had, however, well-nigh cost me my life; for having to wade
through many miles of deep sand with a vertical sun over my head, I had
not accomplished half the journey before my strength began to fail, and
an indescribable thirst was induced. Nevertheless, I reached the Mission
in safety, and with truly grateful feelings to the Preserver of men. A
few minutes prior to my arrival, the wife of one of my brother
missionaries, little imagining that I was at hand and alive, had entered
our dwelling, to apprise my wife of the latest intelligence, confirming
all that had been said before respecting my fate, and to comfort her
under the distressing dispensation. At this affecting crisis, while
both were standing in the center of the room, the one relating, the
other weeping, I opened the door, bathed in perspiration, covered with
dust, and in a state of complete exhaustion. 'Oh, dear!' cried our
friend; 'is it he--or is it his spirit?' I must, my dear sir, leave to
your imagination the scene that followed."
"Yes, sir," said Mr. S., folding up the letter, "a missionary's wife,
who follows him into such scenes and such perils and privations, does,
indeed, 'cleave to her husband.'"
"Indeed she does," replied Mr. Swinton; "but we will tax you no longer,
my dear sir. Good-night."
On the following day, a little before noon, loud shouts and men dancing
and calling out the titles of the king of the Caffres announced his
approach. These men were a sort of heralds, who invariably preceded him
on a visit of ceremony. A band of warriors armed with their assaguays
and shields, next made their appearance, and then Hinza, accompanied by
fifty of his chief councilors: with the exception of their long krosses
of beast-skins thrown over their shoulders, they were all naked, and
each daubed with grease and red ocher. As soon as they arrived in front
of the Mission-house, they sat down in a circle on each side of the
Caffre king, who was treated with marked respect by all, and by the
common people in particular, who assembled on his presence. Every one
who happened to pass by gave what was termed a 'salute' of honor to the
king, who did not appear to consider that it required any acknowledgment
on his part.
Our travelers, accompanied by the missionary, advanced into the circle,
and saluted his majesty. Mr. S. then explained the object of their
journey, and their wish that a small party of the king's warriors should
accompany them on their expedition. As soon as the speech was ended, a
few pounds of colored beads, a roll of tobacco, two pounds of snuff, and
some yards of scarlet cloth, were laid before his majesty as a present.
Hinza nodded his head with approval when the articles were spread before
him, and then turned to his councilors, with whom he whispered some
time, and then he replied "that the strange white men should pass
through his country without fear, that his warriors should accompany
them as far as they wished to go; but," he added, "do the strangers know
that there is disorder in the country beyond?"
Mr. S. replied that they did, and were anxious to go, and return as soon
as possible, on that account.
Hinza replied, "It is well; if there is danger, my warriors will let
them know--if it is necessary, they will fight for them--if the enemy is
too strong, the white men must return."
Hinza then ordered some of his councilors to take charge of the
presents, and inquired of Mr. S. how many warriors they wished to have,
and when they wished to go.
The reply was, that fifty warriors would be sufficient, and that they
wished to depart on the following morning. "It is well," replied Hinza;
"fifty warriors are enough, for my men eat a great deal--they shall be
The council then broke up, and the king, having shaken hands with our
travelers, departed with his train: toward the evening an old cow was
sent to them as a present from his majesty. The Hottentots soon cut it
up and devoured it. Every thing was now arranged for their immediate
The next morning, at break of day, the band of Caffre warriors were all
in readiness, each with his shield and three assaguays in his hand. They
were all fine, tall young men, from twenty to thirty years of age.
Alexander desired Mr. S. to tell them that, if they behaved well and
were faithful, they should every one receive a present when they were
dismissed; a notification which appeared to give general satisfaction.
The oxen had already been yoked, and taking leave of the worthy
missionary, our travelers mounted their horses and resumed their
journey. For the whole day they proceeded along the banks of the Kae
River, which ran its course through alternate glens and hills clothed
with fine timber; and as they were on an eminence, looking down upon the
river, the head Caffre warrior, who had, with the others, hung up his
shield at the side of the wagon, and now walked by our travelers with
his assaguay in his hand, pointed out to them, as the sun was setting
behind a hill, two or three large black masses on the further bank of
"What are they, and what does he say?"
"Sea-cows," replied the interpreter.
"_Hippopotami_! We must have a shot at them, Wilmot," cried the Major.
"To be sure; tell them we will stop and kill one if we can," said Wilmot
to the interpreter.
"We shall want one to feed our army," said Swinton laughing, "or our
sheep will soon be devoured."
The Caffres were all immediately in motion, running down to the bank of
the river, about a quarter of a mile distant; they swam across, and
there remained waiting till our travelers should give the word.
The animals lay on a muddy bank, at a turn of the river, like so many
swine asleep, some of them out, and some partly in and partly out of the
water. As they were huddled together, they looked more like masses of
black rock than any thing else. Two lay considerably apart from the
others, and it was toward these two that the Caffres, who had crossed
the river, crept until they were in the high reeds, but a few yards from
them. Henderson and Wilmot, with some of the Hottentots, descended the
ravine on their side of the river, opposite to where the animals lay,
and as soon as they were on the bank, being then within one hundred
yards of them, they leveled and fired. At the report, all the animals
started up from their beds as if astonished at the noise, which they had
not been accustomed to. Three or four instantly plunged into the deep
water, but the others, apparently half asleep, stood for a few seconds,
as if not knowing what course to take: two of them were evidently
wounded, as they rushed into the water; for they did not remain below,
but rose to the surface immediately, as if in great agony. They appeared
anxious to get out of the water altogether, and tried so to do, but
fearing the people on the river's bank, they darted in again. In the
mean time, at the first report of the guns, the two which lay apart from
the others with their heads toward the river, as soon as they rose on
their legs, were pierced with several assaguays by the concealed
Caffres, and plunged into the water with the spears remaining in their
bodies. These also rose, and floundered like the others; and as their
heads appeared above, they were met with the unerring rifle of the Major
and whole volleys from Wilmot and the Hottentots, till, exhausted from
loss of blood, they floated dead upon the surface.
The Caffres waited till the bodies had been borne some hundred yards
down the stream, that they might not be attacked when in the water by
the remainder of the herd, and then swam off, and pushed the bodies on
shore. This was a very seasonable supply of provisions for so large a
band of people; but those who belonged to the caravan were not the only
parties who benefited: all the Caffres of the surrounding hamlets
hastened to the river, and carried off large quantities of the flesh of
the animals; there was, however, more than enough for all, and for the
wolves and hyenas after they had taken what they chose. It was so late
before the animals were cut up, that they decided upon remaining where
they were that night; for now that they had the Caffre warriors with
them, they had no fear as to losing their oxen, the king having stated
that his men should be responsible for them.
Large fires were lighted, and the Caffres and Hottentots, all mingled
together, were busy roasting, boiling, and frying the flesh of the
hippopotamus, and eating it as fast as it was cooked, so that they were
completely gorged before they lay down to sleep; Wilmot had also given
them a ration of tobacco each, which had added considerably to the
delight of the feast.
"It is not bad eating by any means," said the Major, as they were at
"No; it is something like old veal," replied Swinton. "Now, what is
Omrah about? He is after some mischief, by the way he creeps along."
"A monkey is a fool to that boy," observed the Major, "and he appears to
know how to imitate every animal he has ever heard."
"Did you hear the dance he led some of the Hottentots on Sunday evening,
when we were at the Mission?"
"No; what was that?"
"Bremen told me of it; I thought he would have died with laughing. You
are aware that there is a species of bird here which they call the
honey-bird,--by naturalists, the _Cuculus indicator_; do you not
remember I showed you a specimen which I was preserving?"
"You have showed us so many specimens, that I really forget."
"Well, I should have given you at the same time the natural history of
the bird. It is very partial to honey, upon which it lives as much as it
can; but as the bees make their hives in the trunks of old decayed
trees, and the hole they enter by is very small, the bird can not obtain
it without assistance. Its instinct induces it to call in the aid of
man, which it does by a peculiar note, like cher-cher-cher, by which it
gives notice that it has found out a beehive. The natives of Africa well
know this, and as soon as the bird flies close to them, giving out this
sound, they follow it; the bird leads them on, perching every now and
then, to enable them to keep up with it, until it arrives at the tree,
over which it flutters without making any more noise."
"How very curious!"
"Little Bushman knows this as well as the Hottentots, and hearing that
they were going out in search of honey he went before them into the
wood, concealing himself, and imitating the note of the bird so exactly,
that the Hottentots went on following it for several miles, wondering
how it was that the bird should lead them such a distance, but unwilling
to give up the pursuit. About sunset, he had brought them back to the
very edge of the wood from whence they had started, when he showed
himself about one hundred yards ahead of them, dancing, capering, and
tumbling so like Begum, that they thought it was her before them, and
not him. He gained the caravan again without their knowing who played
them the trick; but he told Swanevelt, who speaks his language, and
Swanevelt told Bremen."
"Capital!" said the Major; "well, he is after some trick now, depend
"He has a great talent for drawing," observed Alexander.
"A very great one; I have given him a pencil and occasionally a piece of
paper, and he draws all the birds, so that I can recognize them; but you
must know that all the Bushmen have that talent, and that their caves
are full of the sketches of all sorts of animals, remarkably
characteristic. The organ of imitation is very strongly developed in the
Bushmen, which accounts for their talents as draftsmen, and Omrah's
remarkable imitative powers."
"Do you then believe in phrenology, Swinton!" said Alexander.
"I neither believe nor disbelieve in that and many more modern
discoveries of the same kind; I do not think it right to reject them or
to give blind credence. Not a day passes but some discovery excites our
wonder and admiration, and points out to us how little we do know. The
great fault is, that when people have made a discovery to a certain
extent, they build upon it, as if all their premises were correct;
whereas, they have, in fact, only obtained a mere glimmering to light
them to a path which may some future day lead to knowledge. That the
general principles of phrenology are correct maybe fairly assumed, from
the examination of the skulls of men and animals, and of different men;
but I give no credence to all the divisions and subdivisions which have,
in my opinion, been most presumptuously marked out by those who profess,
and of course fully believe, the full extent of these supposed
"And mesmerism?" said Alexander.
"I make the same reply; there is _something_ in it, that is certain, but
nothing yet sufficiently known to warrant any specific conclusion to be
"There is a great deal of humbug in it," said the Major.
"So there is in all sciences; when truth fails them and they are at
fault, they fill up the hiatus with supposition; which is, as you term
"Well, I vote that we return to our wagons; every body appears fast
asleep except us three."
Such was not, however, the case; for they had not been half an hour on
their mattresses, before they were awakened by loud cries of "help,"
which made them seize the irguns and jump out of the wagons without
waiting for their clothes.
The Hottentots and Caffres were so full of hippopotamus flesh, that the
noise did not awake but a small portion of them, and these only turned
round and stared about without getting up, with the exception of Bremen,
who was on his feet and, with his gun in his hand, running in the
direction of the cries. He was followed by our travelers, and they soon
came up with the object of their search, which proved to be no other
than Big Adam, the Hottentot; and as soon as they perceived his
condition, which they could do by the light of the fires still burning,
they all burst out laughing so excessively that they could not help him.
That it was the work of little Omrah there was no doubt, for Big Adam
had not forgotten the former trick the boy had played him, and had more
than once, when he caught the boy, given him a good cuffing. Big Adam
was on the ground, dragged away by two of the largest dogs. Omrah had
taken the bones he could find with most flesh upon them belonging to the
hippopotamus, and had tied them with leathern thongs to the great toes
of Big Adam as he lay snoring after his unusual repast. He had then
waited till all were asleep, and had let loose the two largest dogs,
which were always tied with the others under the wagons, and not
over-fed, to make them more watchful.
The dogs had prowled about for food, and had fallen in with these large
bones, which they immediately seized, and were dragging away, that they
might make their repast without interruption; but in attempting to drag
away the bones, they had dragged Big Adam some yards by his great toes,
and the pain and fright--for the Hottentot thought they were hyenas or
wolves--had caused him thus to scream for help. Bremen divided the
thongs with his knife, and the dogs ran off growling with the bones, and
Adam stood again upon his feet, still so much terrified as not to be
able to comprehend the trick which had been played him. Our travelers,
having indulged their mirth, retired once more to their resting-places.
The Major found Omrah and Begum both in their corners of the wagon, the
former pretending to be fast asleep, while the latter was chattering and
swearing at the unusual disturbance.
At daylight next morning they resumed their journey. Big Adam walked
rather stiff, and looked very sulky. Omrah had perched himself on a tilt
of the baggage-wagon with Begum, and was quite out of the Hottentot's
reach; for Bremen had told the others what had happened, and there had
been a general laugh against Big Adam, who vowed vengeance against
little Omrah. The country was now very beautiful and fertile, and the
Caffre hamlets were to be seen in all directions. Except visits from the
Caffres, who behaved with great decorum when they perceived that the
caravan was escorted by the king's warriors, and who supplied them
nearly every day with a bullock for the use of the people, no adventure
occurred for four days, when they crossed the Bashee or St. John's
River, to which the territories of Hinza extended; but although the
tribes beyond did not acknowledge his authority, they respected the
large force of the caravan, and were much pleased at receiving small
presents of tobacco and snuff.
Milk, in baskets, was constantly brought in by the women; for the
Caffres weave baskets of so close a texture, that they hold any liquid,
and are the only utensil used for that purpose. At the Bashee River,
after they had passed the ford, they remained one day to hunt the
hippopotami, and were successful; only Major Henderson, who was not
content to hunt during the day, but went out at night, had a narrow
escape. He was in one of the paths, and had wounded a female, and was
standing, watching the rising to the surface of the wounded animal, for
it was bright moonlight, when the male, which happened to be feeding on
the bank above, hearing the cry of the female, rushed right down the
path upon the Major. Fortunately for him, the huge carcass of the animal
gave it such an ungovernable degree of velocity, as to prevent it
turning to the right hand or left. It passed within a yard of the Major,
sweeping the bushes and underwood, so as to throw him down as it passed.
The Major got up again, it may be truly said, more frightened than hurt;
but at all events he had had enough of hippopotamus-hunting for that
night, for he recovered his gun, and walked back to the wagon, thanking
Heaven for his providential escape.
The next morning, Swanevelt and Bremen went down the banks of the river,
and discovered the body of the hippopotamus, which they dragged on
shore, and, returning to the wagons, sent the Caffres to cut it up; but
before the Caffres belonging to the caravan could arrive there, they
found that the work had been done for them by the natives, and that
nothing was left but the bones of the animal; but this is always
considered fair in the Caffre-land; every one helps himself when an
elephant or other large animal is killed, although he may have had no
hand in its destruction. The number of elephant-paths now showed them
that they were surrounded by these animals, and the Caffres of the
country said that there were large herds close to them.
It was therefore proposed by the Major, that they should have a grand
elephant-hunt, at which all the Caffres of their own party and the
natives of the country should assist. This proposal was joyfully
received by all, especially the natives, who were delighted at such an
opportunity of having the assistance of the white men's guns; and the
next day was appointed for the sport. By the advice of the natives, the
caravan proceeded some miles down to the eastward, to the borders of a
very thick forest, where they stated that the elephants were to be
They arrived at the spot in the afternoon, and every one was busy in
making preparations for the following day. The Hottentots, who had been
used to the sport, told long stories to those who had not, and, among
the rest, Big Adam spoke much of his prowess and dexterity. Uncommonly
large fires were lighted that night, for fear that the elephants should
break into the camp. All night their cries were to be heard in the
forest, and occasionally the breaking of the branches of the trees
proved that they were close to the caravan. Begum, who was particularly
alive to danger, crept to Major Henderson's bed, and would remain there
all night, although he several times tried to drive her away.
Notwithstanding continued alarms, the caravan was, however, unmolested.
At daylight the following morning, there was a large concourse of
Caffres in the camp, all waiting till our travelers were ready for the
sport. Having made a hasty breakfast, they, by the advice of the
Caffres, did not mount their horses, but started on foot, as the Caffres
stated that the elephants were on the side of the hill. Ascending by an
elephant-path, in less than half an hour they arrived at the top of the
hill, when a grand and magnificent panorama was spread before them. From
the crown of the hill they looked down upon a valley studded with clumps
of trees, which divided the cleared ground, and the whole face of the
valley was covered with elephants. There could not have been less than
nine hundred at one time within the scope of their vision.
Every height, every green knoll, was dotted with groups of six or seven,
some of their vast bodies partly concealed by the trees upon which they
were browsing, others walking in the open plain, bearing in their trunks
a long branch of a tree, with which they evidently protected themselves
from the flies. The huge bodies of the animals, with the corresponding
magnitude of the large timber-trees which surrounded them, gave an idea
of nature on her grandest scale.
After a few minutes' survey, they turned to the party who were
collected behind them, and gave notice that they were to commence
immediately. The head men of the Caffres gave their orders, and the
bands of natives moved silently away in every direction, checking any
noise from the dogs, which they had brought with them in numerous packs.
Our travelers were to leeward of the herd on the hill where they stood,
and as it was the intention of the natives to drive the animals toward
them, the Caffre warriors as well as the Hottentots all took up
positions on the hill ready to attack the animals as they were driven
About an hour passed away, when the signal was given by some of the
native Caffres, who had gained the side of the valley to westward of the
elephants. Perched up at various high spots, they shouted with
stentorian lungs, and their shouts were answered by the rest of the
Caffres on every side of the valley, so that the elephants found
themselves encompassed on all sides, except on that where the hill rose
from the valley. As the Caffres closed in, their shouts reverberating
from the rocks, and mixed up with the savage howlings of the dogs,
became tremendous; and the elephants, alarmed, started first to one side
of the valley, then to the other, hastily retreating from the clamor
immediately raised as they approached, shaking their long ears and
trumpeting loudly, as with uplifted trunks they trotted to and fro.
At last, finding no other avenue of escape, the herd commenced the
ascent of the hill, cracking the branches and boughs, and rolling the
loose stones down into the valleys, as they made their ascent, and now
adding their own horrid shrieks to the din which had been previously
created. On they came, bearing every thing down before them, carrying
havoc in their rage to such an extent, that the forest appeared to bow
down before them; while large masses of loose rock leaped and bounded
and thundered down into the valley, raising clouds of dust in their
"This is tremendously grand," whispered Alexander to the Major.
"It is most awfully so; I would not have missed the sight for any
thing; but here they come--look at that tall tree borne down by the
weight of the whole mass."
"See the great bull leader," said Swinton; "let us all fire upon
him--what a monster!"
"Look out," said the Major, whose rifle was discharged as he spoke, and
was quickly followed by those of Alexander and Swinton.
"He's down; be quick and load again. Omrah, give me the other rifle."
"Take care! take care!" was how cried on all sides, for the fall of the
leading elephant and the volleys of musketry from the Hottentots had so
frightened the herd, that they had begun to separate and break off two
or three together, or singly in every direction. The shrieks and
trumpetings, and the crashing of the boughs so near to them, were now
deafening; and the danger was equally great. The Major had but just
leveled his other rifle when the dense foliage close to him opened as if
by magic, and the head of a large female presented itself within four
yards of him.
Fortunately, the Major was a man of great nerve, and his rifle brought
her down at his feet, when so near to him that he was compelled to leap
away out of the reach of her trunk, for she was not yet dead. Another
smaller elephant followed so close, that it tumbled over the carcass of
the first, and was shot by Alexander as it was recovering its legs.
"Back, sirs, or you will be killed," cried Bremen, running to them;
"this way--the whole herd is coming right upon you." They ran for their
lives, following the Hottentot, who brought them to a high rock which
the elephants could not climb, and where they were safe.
They had hardly gained it when the mass came forward in a cloud of dust,
and with a noise almost inconceivable, scrambling and rolling to and fro
as they passed on in a close-wedged body. Many were wounded and
tottering, and as they were left behind, the Caffres, naked, with their
assaguays in their hands, leaping forward and hiding, as required,
running with the greatest activity close up to the rear of the animals,
either pierced them with their assaguays, or hamstrung them with their
sharp-cutting weapons, crying out in their own tongue to the elephants,
"Great captain! don't kill us--don't tread upon us, mighty
chief!"--supplicating, strangely enough, the mercy of those to whom they
were showing none. As it was almost impossible to fire without a chance
of hitting a Caffre, our travelers contented themselves with looking on,
till the whole herd had passed by, and had disappeared in the jungle
"They have gone right in the direction of the wagons," said Swinton.
"Yes, sir," replied the Hottentot, Bremen; "but we must not interfere
with them any more; they are now so scattered in the jungle, that it
would be dangerous. We must let them go away as fast as they can."
They remained for a few minutes more, till every elephant and Caffre had
disappeared, and then went back cautiously to the spot from whence they
had first fired, and where they had such a fine prospect of the valley.
Not an elephant was to be seen in it; nothing but the ravages which the
herd had committed upon the trees, many of which, of a very large size,
had been borne to the ground by the enormous strength of these animals.
They then proceeded to the spot where the great bull elephant had fallen
by the rifle of Major Henderson.
They found that the ball had entered just under the eye. It was a
monster that must have stood sixteen feet high by Bremen's calculation,
and it had two very fine tusks. While they were standing by the carcass
of the animal, the armed Hottentots returned from the pursuit, and
stated that seven elephants had been dispatched, and others were so
wounded that they could not live. They now set to work to take the teeth
out of the animal, and were very busy, when a Hottentot came running up,
and reported that the herd of elephants in their retreat had dashed
through the camp, and done a good deal of mischief; that a male elephant
had charged the wagon of Major Henderson, and had forced his tusk
through the side; that the tusk had pierced one of the casks of liquor,
which was running out, although not very fast, and that the wagon must
be unloaded to get out the cask and save the rest of the liquor.
Several Hottentots immediately hurried back with him to help in
unloading the wagon, and by degrees they all slipped away except Bremen,
Swanevelt, who was cutting out the tusks, and Omrah, who remained
perched upon the huge carcass of the animal, imitating the trumpeting
and motions of the elephant, and playing all sorts of antics. A party of
Caffres soon afterward came up and commenced cutting up the carcass, and
then our travelers walked away in the direction of the camp, to
ascertain what mischief had been done.
On their return, which, as they stopped occasionally to examine the
other animals that had fallen, must have taken an hour, they found that
the Hottentots had not commenced unloading the wagon; although they had
put tubs to catch the running liquor, of which they had taken so large a
quantity that some were staggering about, and the rest lying down in a
state of senseless intoxication.
"I thought they were very officious in going back to assist," observed
the Major; "a pretty mess we should be in, if we were in an enemy's
country, and without our Caffre guard."
"Yes, indeed," replied Alexander, turning over the tub of liquor, and
spilling it on the ground, much to the sorrow of the Hottentots who were
not yet insensible: "however, we will now let the cask run out, and
watch that they get no more."
As the Caffres were busy with the carcasses of the elephants, and most
of the Hottentots dead drunk, it was useless to think of proceeding
until the following day. Indeed, the oxen and horses were all scattered
in every direction by the elephants breaking into the caravan, and it
would be necessary to collect them, which would require some time. Our
travelers, therefore, gave up the idea of proceeding further that day,
and taking their guns, walked on to the forest, in the direction where
most of the elephants killed had fallen. They passed by three carcasses,
upon which the Caffres were busily employed, and then they came to a
fourth, when a sight presented itself which quite moved their sympathy.
It was the carcass of a full-grown female, and close to it was an
elephant calf, about three feet and a half high, standing by the side of
its dead mother.
The poor little animal ran round and round the body with every
demonstration of grief, piping sorrowfully, and trying in vain to raise
it up with its tiny trunk. When our travelers arrived, it ran up to
them, entwining its little proboscis round their legs, and showing its
delight at finding somebody. On the trees round the carcass were perched
a number of vultures, waiting to make a meal of the remains, as soon as
the hunters had cut it up, for their beaks could not penetrate the tough
hide. Our travelers remained there for more than an hour, watching the
motions and playing with the young elephant, which made several attempts
to induce its prostrate mother to take notice of it. Finding, however,
that all its efforts were ineffectual, when our travelers quitted the
spot to go back, it voluntarily followed them to the caravans, where it