Part 3 out of 6
remained, probably quite as much astonished to find all the Hottentots
lying about as insensible as its mother.
It may be as well here to observe, that the little animal did not live
beyond a very few days after, from want of its necessary food.
In the evening, Bremen and Swanevelt returned with tusks of the bull
elephant, which were very large, and the Caffre warriors also came in;
the other Caffres belonging to the country were too busy eating for the
present. The chief of the Caffre warriors brought in the tufts of the
other elephant's tails and the teeth, and the men were loaded with the
flesh. As soon as the Caffres found that the oxen and horses had been
frightened away, and perceived that the Hottentots were not in a
situation to go after them, they threw down their meat and went in
pursuit. Before dark the cattle were all brought back; the fires were
lighted, and the Caffres did not give over their repast until near
Our travelers did not think it advisable, as the Hottentots were now no
protection, to go to bed; they made up a large fire, and remained by it,
talking over the adventures of the day. While they were conversing,
Begum, who had been sitting by her master, showed signs of uneasiness,
and at last clung round the Major with an evident strong fear.
"Why, what can be the matter with the Princess?" said the Major;
"something has frightened her."
"Yes, that is evident; perhaps there is an elephant near; shall we waken
Bremen and Swanevelt, who are close to us?"
Begum chattered, and her teeth also chattered with fear, as she clung
closer and closer. Little Omrah, who was sitting by, looked very
earnestly at the baboon, and at last touching the shoulder of Alexander
to attract his attention, he first pointed to the baboon, imitating its
fright, and then going on his hands and feet, imitated the motions and
growl of an animal.
"I understand," cried the Major, seizing his gun; "the lad means that
there is a lion near, and that is what frightens the baboon."
"Lion!" said the Major to Omrah.
But Omrah did not understand him; but pulling out his paper and pencil,
in a second almost he drew the form of a lion.
"Clever little fellow! Wake them all, and get your guns ready," said the
Major, starting on his legs; "it can't be far off; confound the monkey,
she won't let go," continued he, tearing off Begum and throwing her
away. Begum immediately scampered to the wagon and hid herself.
They had just awakened up the two Hottentots, when a roar was given so
loud and tremendous, that it appeared like thunder, and was reverberated
from the rocks opposite for some seconds.
No one but those who have been in the country, and have fallen in with
this animal in its wild and savage state, can have any idea of the
appalling effect of a lion's roar. What is heard in a menagerie is weak,
and can give but a faint conception of it. In the darkness of the night
it is almost impossible to tell from what quarter the sound proceeds;
this arises from the habit which the animal has of placing his mouth
close to the ground when he roars, so that his voice rolls over the
earth, as it were like a breaker, and the sound is carried along with
all its tremendous force. It is indeed a most awful note of preparation,
and so thought Alexander, who had never heard one before.
The Caffres had wakened up at the noise, and our travelers and the
Hottentots now fired their guns off in every direction to scare away the
animal. Repeated discharges had this effect, and in the course of half
an hour every thing was again quiet.
"Well," observed Alexander, "this is the first time that I ever heard
the roar of a lion in its wild state; and I can assure you that I shall
never forget it as long as I live."
"It is not the first time I have heard it," replied the Major; "but I
must say, what with the darkness and stillness of the night, and the
reverberation, I never heard it so awful before. But you, Swinton, who
have traveled in the Namaqua-land, have, of course."
"Yes, I have, but very seldom."
"But it is rather singular that we have not heard the lion before this,
is it not?" said Alexander.
"The lion is often near without giving you notice," replied Swinton;
"but I do not think that there are many lions in the country we have
traversed; it is too populous. On the other side of the mountains, if we
return that way, we shall find them in plenty. Wherever the antelopes
are in herds, wherever you find the wild horse, zebra, and giraffe, you
will as certainly find the lion, for he preys upon them."
"I know very well, Swinton, that you are closely attentive to the
peculiar habits of animals, and that they form a portion of your study.
Have you much knowledge of the lion? and if so, suppose you tell us
something about them."
"I have certainly studied the habits of the lion, and what I have
gathered from my own observation and the information I received from
others, I shall be most happy to communicate. The lion undoubtedly does
not kill wantonly--of that I have had repeated instances. I recollect
one which is rather remarkable, as it showed the sagacity of the noble
brute. A man who belonged to one of the Mission stations, on his return
home from a visit to his friends, took a circuitous route to pass a pool
of water, at which he hoped to kill an antelope. The sun had risen to
some height when he arrived there, and as he could not perceive any
game, he laid his gun down on a low shelving rock, the back part of
which was covered with some brushwood. He went down to the pool and had
a hearty drink, returned to the rock, and after smoking his pipe,
feeling weary, he lay down and fell fast asleep.
"In a short time, the excessive heat reflected from the rock awoke him,
and opening his eyes he perceived a large lion about a yard from his
feet, crouched down, with his eyes glaring on his face. For some minutes
he remained motionless with fright, expecting every moment that he would
be in the jaws of the monster; at last he recovered his presence of
mind, and casting his eye toward his gun, moved his hand slowly toward
it; upon which the lion raised up his head and gave a tremendous roar
which induced him hastily to withdraw his hand. With this the lion
appeared satisfied, and crouched with his head between his fore-paws as
before. After a little while the man made another attempt to possess
himself of his gun. The lion raised his head and gave another roar, and
the man desisted; another and another attempt were at intervals made,
but always with the same anger shown on the part of the lion."
"Why, the lion must have known what he wanted the gun for."
"Most certainly he did, and therefore would not allow the man to touch
it. It is to be presumed that the sagacious creature had been fired at
before; but you observe, that he did not wish to harm the man. He
appeared to say--You are in my power; you shall not go away: you shall
not take your musket to shoot me with, or I will tear you to pieces."
"It certainly was very curious. Pray how did it end?"
"Why the heat of the sun on the rock was so overpowering, that the man
was in great agony; his naked feet were so burned, that he was
compelled to keep moving them, placing one upon the other and changing
them every minute. The day passed, and the night also; the lion never
moved from the spot. The sun rose again, and the heat became so intense
that the poor man's feet were past all feeling. At noon, on that day,
the lion rose and walked to the pool, which was only a few yards
distant, looking behind him every moment to see if the man moved; the
man once more attempted to reach his gun, and the lion, perceiving it,
turned in rage, and was on the point of springing upon him; the man
withdrew his hand, and the beast was pacified."
"How very strange!"
"The animal went to the water and drank; it then returned and lay down
at the same place as before, about a yard from the man's feet. Another
night passed away, and the lion kept at his post. The next day, in the
forenoon, the animal again went to the water, and while there looked as
if he heard a noise in an opposite quarter, and then disappeared in the
"Perceiving this, the man made an effort, and seized his gun, but in
attempting to rise he found it not in his power, as the strength of his
ankles was gone. With his gun in his hand, he crept to the pool and
drank, and, looking at his feet, he discovered that his toes had been
quite roasted and the skin torn off as he crawled through the grass. He
sat at the pool for a few minutes expecting the lion's return, and
resolved to send the contents of his gun through his head; but the lion
did not return, so the poor fellow tied his gun on his back and crawled
away on his hands and knees as well as he could. He was quite exhausted,
and could have proceeded no further, when providentially a person fell
in with him and assisted him home; but he lost his toes, and was a
cripple for life."
"What makes this story more remarkable is," observed the Major, "that
the lion, as it is rational to suppose, must have been hungry after
watching the man for sixty hours, even admitting that he had taken a
meal but a short time before."
"I know many other curious and well-authenticated anecdotes about this
noble animal," observed Swinton, "which I shall be happy to give you;
but I must look at my memorandum-book, or I may not be quite correct in
my story. One fact is very remarkable, and as I had it from Mr. ----, the
missionary, who stated that he had several times observed it himself, I
have no hesitation in vouching for its correctness, the more so, as I
did once perceive a similar fact myself; it is, that the fifth
commandment is observed by lions--they honor their father and mother.
"If an old lion is in company with his children, as the natives call
them, although they are in size equal to himself, or if a number of
lions meet together in quest of game, there is always one who is
admitted by them to be the oldest and ablest, and who leads. If the game
is come up with, it is this one who creeps up to it, and seizes it,
while the others lie crouched upon the grass; if the old lion is
successful, which he generally is, he retires from his victim, and lies
down to breathe himself and rest for perhaps a quarter of an hour. The
others in the meantime draw round and lie down at a respectful distance,
but never presume to go near the animal which the old lion has killed.
As soon as the old lion considers himself sufficiently rested, he goes
up to the prey and commences at the breast and stomach, and after eating
a considerable portion he will take a second rest, none of the others
presuming to move.
"Having made a second repast, he then retires; the other lions watch his
motions, and all rush to the remainder of the carcass, which is soon
devoured. I said that I witnessed an instance myself in corroboration of
this statement, which I will now mention. I was sitting on a rock after
collecting some plants, when below me I saw a young lion seize an
antelope; he had his paw upon the dead animal, when the old lion came
up,--upon which the young one immediately retired till his superior had
dined first, and then came in for the remainder. Mercy on us! what is
"I thought it was the lion again," said Alexander, "but it is thunder;
we are about to have a storm."
"Yes, and a fierce one too," said the Major; "I am afraid that we must
break up our party and retire under cover. We have some large drops of
A flash of lightning now dazzled them, and was followed by another, and
an instantaneous peal of thunder.
"There is no mistake in this," said Swinton; "and I can tell you that we
shall have it upon us in less than a minute, so I am for my wagon."
"At all events it will wash these Hottentots sober," observed the Major,
as they all walked away to their separate wagons for shelter.
They had scarcely gained the wagons before the thunder and lightning
became incessant, and so loud as to be deafening. It appeared as if they
were in the very center of the contending elements, and the wind rose
and blew with terrific force, while the rain poured down as if the
flood-gates of heaven were indeed opened. The lightning was so vivid,
that for the second that it lasted you could see the country round to
the horizon almost as clear as day; the next moment all was terrific
gloom accompanied by the stunning reports of the thunder, which caused
every article in the wagons, and the wagons themselves, to vibrate from
the concussion. A large tree, not fifty yards from the caravan, was
struck by the lightning, and came down with an appalling crash. The
Caffres had all roused up, and had sheltered themselves under the
The Hottentots had also begun to move, but had not yet recovered their
senses--indeed, they were again stupefied by the clamor of the elements.
The storm lasted about an hour, and then as suddenly cleared up again;
the stars again made their appearance in the sky above, and the red
tinge of the horizon announced the approach of daylight. When the storm
ceased, our travelers, who had not taken off their clothes, came out
from their shelter, and met each other by the side of the extinguished
"Well," said Alexander, "I have been made wise on two points this
night; I now know what an African storm is, and also the roar of an
African lion. Have you heard if there is any mischief done, Bremen?"
continued Alexander to the Hottentot, who stood by.
"No, sir; but I am afraid it will take us a long while to collect the
cattle; they will be dispersed in all directions, and we may have lost
some of them. It will soon be daylight, and then we must set off after
"Are those fellows quite sober now?"
"Yes, sir," replied Bremen, laughing; "water has washed all the liquor
out of them."
"Well, you may tell them, as a punishment, I shall stop their tobacco
for a week."
"Better not now, sir," said Bremen, thoughtfully; "the men don't like to
go further up the country, and they may be troublesome."
"I think so too," said Swinton; "you must recollect that the cask was
running out, and the temptation was too strong. I should overlook it
this time. Give them a severe reprimand, and let them off."
"I believe it will be the best way," replied Alexander; "not that I fear
their refusing to go on, for if they do, I will dismiss them, and go on
with the Caffres; they dare not go back by themselves, that is certain."
"Sir," said Bremen, "that is very true; but you must not trust the
Caffres too much--Caffres always try to get guns and ammunition: Caffre
king, Hinza, very glad to get the wagons and what is in them: make him
rich man, and powerful man, with so many guns. Caffre king will not rob
in his own country, because he is afraid of the English; but if the
wagon's robbed, and you are killed in this country, which is not his,
then he make excuses, and say, 'I know nothing about it,' Say that their
people do it, not his people."
"Bremen talks very sensibly," said the Major; "we must keep the
Hottentots as a check to the Caffres, and the Caffres as a check to the
"That is our policy, depend upon it," replied Swinton.
"You are right, and we will do so; but the day is breaking; so? Bremen,
collect the people together to search for the cattle; and, Omrah, tell
Mahomed to come here."
"By the by, Swinton," said Major Henderson, "those elephants' tusks
lying by the wagon remind me of a question I want to put to you:--In
Ceylon, where I have often hunted the elephant, they have no tusks; and
in India the tusks are not common, and in general very small. How do you
account for this variety?"
"It has been observed before; and it is but a fair surmise, that
Providence, ever attentive to the wants of the meanest animals, has
furnished such large tusks to the African elephant for the necessity
which requires them. In Ceylon there is plenty of grass, and an abundant
supply of water all the year round; and further, in Ceylon, the elephant
has no enemy to defend himself against. Here, in Africa, the rivers are
periodical torrents, which dry up, and the only means which an elephant
has of obtaining water during the dry season is to dig with his tusks
into the bed of the river, till he finds the water, which he draws up
with his trunk. Moreover, he has to defend himself against the
rhinoceros, which is a formidable antagonist, and often victorious. He
requires tusks also for his food in this country, for the elephant digs
up the mimosa here with his tusks, that he may feed upon the succulent
roots of the tree. Indeed, an elephant in Africa without his tusks could
not well exist."
"Thank you for your explanation, which appears very satisfactory and
conclusive; and now let us go to breakfast, for Mahomed, I perceive, is
ready, and Omrah has displayed our teacups, and is very busy blowing
into the spout of the teapot, a Bushman way of ascertaining if it is
stopped up. However, we must not expect to make a London footman out of
a 'Child of the Desert.'"
"Where is his adversary and antagonist, the valiant Big Adam?"
"He was among those who indulged in the liquor yesterday afternoon, and
I believe was worse than any one of them. The little Bushman did not
fail to take advantage of his defenseless state, and has been torturing
him in every way he could imagine during the whole night. I saw him
pouring water into the Hottentot's mouth as he lay on his back with his
mouth wide open, till he nearly choked him. To get it down faster, Omrah
had taken the big tin funnel, and had inserted one end into his mouth,
which he filled till the water ran out; after that he was trying what he
could do with fire, for he began putting hot embers between Big Adam's
toes; I dare say the fellow can not walk to-day."
"I fear that some day he will kill Omrah, or do him some serious injury;
the boy must be cautioned," said Alexander.
"I am afraid it will be of no use, and Omrah must take his chance: he is
aware of Big Adam's enmity as well as you are, and is always on his
guard; but as for persuading him to leave off his tricks, or to
reconcile them to each other, it is impossible," said Swinton--"you
don't know a Bushman."
"Then pray tell us something about them," said the Major, "as soon as
you have finished that elephant-steak, which you appear to approve of.
Of what race are the Bushmen?"
"I will tell you when I have finished my breakfast," replied Swinton,
"and not before: if I begin to talk, you will eat all the steak, and
that won't do."
"I suspect that we shall not leave this to-day," said Alexander. "If, as
Bremen says, the cattle have strayed very far, it will be too late to go
in the afternoon, and to-morrow you recollect is Sunday, and that, we
have agreed, shall be kept as it ought to be."
"Very true," said the Major; "then we must make Swinton entertain us by
telling us more about the lions, for he had not finished when the storm
"No," replied Swinton; "I had a great deal more to say, and I shall be
very happy at any seasonable time, Major, to tell you what I know--but
not just now."
"My dear fellow," said the Major, putting another piece of
elephant-steak upon Swinton's plate, "pray don't entertain the idea that
I want you to talk on purpose that I may eat your share and my own too;
only ascribe my impatience to the true cause--the delight I have in
receiving instruction and amusement from you."
"Well, Swinton, you have extorted a compliment from the Major."
"Yes, and an extra allowance of steak, which is a better thing," replied
Swinton, laughing. "Now I have finished my breakfast, I will tell what I
know about Omrah's people.
"The Bushmen are originally a Hottentot race--of that I think there is
little doubt; but I believe they are a race of people produced by
circumstances, if I may use the expression. The Hottentot on the plains
lives a nomad life, pasturing and living upon his herds. The Bushman may
be considered as the Hottentot driven out of his fertile plains,
deprived of his cattle, and compelled to resort to the hills for his
safety and subsistence--in short, a Hill Hottentot: impelled by hunger
and by injuries, he has committed depredations upon the property of
others until he has had a mark set upon him; his hand has been against
every man, and he has been hunted like a wild beast, and compelled to
hide himself in the caves of almost inaccessible rocks and hills.
"Thus, generation after generation, he has suffered privation and
hunger, till the race has dwindled down to the small size which it is at
present. Unable to contend against force, his only weapons have been his
cunning and his poisoned arrows, and with them he has obtained his
livelihood--or rather, it may be said, has contrived to support life,
and no more. There are, however, many races mixed up with the Bushmen;
for runaway slaves, brought from Madagascar, Malays, and even those of
the mixed white breed, when they have committed murder or other penal
crimes, have added to the race and incorporated themselves with them;
they are called the Children of the Desert, and they are literally
"Have you seen much of them?"
"Yes, when I was in the Namaqua-land and in the Bechuana territory I saw
a great deal of them. I do not think that they are insensible to
kindness, and moreover, I believe that they may often be trusted; but
you run a great risk."
"Have they ever shown any gratitude?"
"Yes; when I have killed game for them, they have followed me on
purpose to show me the pools of waters without which we should have
suffered severely, if we had not perished. We were talking about lions;
it is an old-received opinion, that the jackal is the lion's provider;
it would be a more correct one to say that the lion is the Bushman's
"I once asked a Bushman, 'How do you live?' His reply was, 'I live by the
lions.' I asked him to explain to me. He said, 'I will show what I do: I
let the lions follow the game and kill it and eat till they have their
bellies full, then I go up to where the lion is sitting down by the
carcass, and I go pretty near to him; I cry out, What have you got
there, can not you spare me some of it? Go away and let me have some
meat, or I'll do you some harm. Then I dance and jump about and shake my
skin-dress, and the lion looks at me, and he turns round and walks away;
he growls very much, but he don't stay, and then I eat the rest.'"
"And is that true?"
"Yes, I believe it, as I have had it confessed by many others. The fact
is, the lion is only dangerous when he is hungry--that is, if he is not
attacked; and if, as the Bushman said, the lion has eaten sufficiently,
probably not wishing to be disturbed, after his repast, by the presence
and shouts of the Bushman, the animal retires to some other spot. I was
informed that a very short time afterward, this Bushman, who told me
what I have detailed to you, was killed by a lioness, when attempting to
drive it away from its prey by shouting as he was used to do. The fact
was, that he perceived a lioness devouring a wild horse, and went up to
her as usual; but he did not observe that she had her whelps with her:
he shouted; she growled savagely, and before he had time to retreat, she
sprang upon him and tore him to pieces."
"The lion does not prey upon men, then, although he destroys them?"
"Not generally; but the Namaqua people told me that, if a lion once
takes a fancy to men's flesh--and they do, after they have in their
hunger devoured one or two--they become doubly dangerous, as they will
leave all other game and hunt man only; but this I can not vouch for
being the truth, although it is very probable."
"If we judge from analogy, it is," replied the Major. "The Bengal tigers
in India, it is well known, if they once taste human flesh, prefer it to
all other, and they are well known to the natives, who term them
man-eaters. Strange to say, it appears that human flesh is not wholesome
for them; for their skins become mangy after they have taken to eating
that alone. I have shot a 'man-eater' from the back of an elephant, and
I found that the skin was not worth taking."
"The Namaquas," replied Swinton, "told me that a lion, once enamored of
human flesh, would, in order to obtain it so far overcome his caution,
that he would leap through a fire to seize a man. I once went to visit a
Namaqua chief, who had been severely wounded by a lion of this
description--a man-eater, as the Major terms them,--and he gave me the
following dreadful narrative, which certainly corroborates what they
assert of the lion who had once taken a fancy to human flesh.
"The chief told me that he had gone out with a party of his men to hunt:
they had guns, bows and arrows, and assaguays. On the first day, as they
were pursuing an elephant, they came across some lions, who attacked
them and they were obliged to save their lives by abandoning a horse,
which the lions devoured. They then made hiding-places of thick bushes
by a pool, where they knew the elephant and rhinoceros would come to
"As they fired at a rhinoceros, a lion leaped into their inclosure, took
up one of the men in his mouth and carried him off, and all that they
afterward could find of him the next day was one of the bones of his
leg. The next night, as they were sitting by a fire inside of their
inclosure of bushes, a lion came, seized one of the men, dragged him
through the fire, and tore out his back. One of the party fired, but
missed; upon which, the lion, dropping his dying victim, growled at the
men across the fire, and they durst not repeat the shot; the lion then
took up his prey in his mouth, and went off with it.
"Alarmed at such disasters, the Namaquas collected together in one
strong inclosure, and at night sent out one of the slaves for water. He
had no sooner reached the pool than he was seized by a lion; he called
in vain for help, but was dragged off through the woods, and the next
day his skull only was found, clean licked by the rough tongue of the
"Having now lost three men in three days, the chief and his whole party
turned out to hunt and destroy lions only. They followed the spoor or
track of the one which had taken the slave, and they soon found two
lions, one of which, the smallest, they shot; and then, having taken
their breakfast, they went after the other, and largest, which was
recognized as the one which had devoured the man.
"They followed the animal to a patch of reeds, where it had intrenched
itself; they set fire to the reeds and forced it out, and as it was
walking off it was severely wounded by one of the party, when it
immediately turned back, and, with a loud roar, charged right through
the smoke and the burning reeds. The monster dashed in among them and
seized the chief's brother by the back, tearing out his ribs and
exposing his lungs.
"The chief rushed to the assistance of his expiring brother; his gun
burned priming. He dashed it down, and in his desperation seized the
lion by the tail. The lion let go the body, and turned upon the chief,
and with a stroke of his fore-paw tore a large piece of flesh off the
chief's arm; then struck him again and threw him on the ground. The
chief rose instantly, but the lion then seized him by the knee, threw
him down again, and there held him, mangling his left arm.
"Torn and bleeding, the chief in a feeble voice called to his men to
shoot the animal from behind, which was at last done with a ball which
passed through the lion's brain. After this destruction of four men in
four days, the hunting was given over; the body of the chief's brother
was buried, and the party went home, bearing with them their wounded
"Well, that is the most horrible lion-adventure I have yet heard," said
the Major. "Heaven preserve us from a man-eating lion!"
"It really has almost taken away my breath," said Alexander.
"Well, then, I will tell you one more amusing, and not so fatal in its
results; I was told it by a Bushman," said Swinton. "A Bushman was
following a herd of zebras, and had just succeeded in wounding one with
his arrow, when he discovered that he had been interfering with a lion,
who was also in chase of the same animals. As the lion appeared very
angry at this interference with his rights as lord of the manor, and
evidently inclined to punish the Bushman as a poacher upon his
preserves, the latter, perceiving a tree convenient, climbed up into it
as fast as he could. The lion allowed the herd of zebras to go away, and
turned his attention to the Bushman. He walked round and round the tree,
and every now and then he growled as he looked up at the Bushman.
"At last the lion lay down at the foot of the tree, and there he kept
watch all night. The Bushman kept watch also, but toward morning,
feeling very tired, he was overcome by sleep, and as he slept, he
dreamed, and what do you think that he dreamed?--he dreamed that he fell
from the tree into the jaws of the lion. Starting up in horror from the
effects of his dream, he lost his hold, and falling from the branch,
down he came with all his weight right on the back of the lion. The
lion, so unexpectedly saluted, sprang up with a loud roar, tossing off
the Bushman, and running away as fast as he could; and the Bushman,
recovering his legs and his senses, also took to his heels in a
different direction; and thus were the 'sleepers awakened,' and the
dream became true."
"Besiegers retreating and fort evacuated both at the same time," cried
the Major, laughing.
"Well, I think you have had enough of the lion now," said Swinton.
"No, we had quite enough of him last night, if you choose," replied
Alexander. "But your lions are not quite so near as he was."
It was not until the evening that the Caffres and Hottentots returned
with the cattle, which they had great difficulty in collecting; two or
three of the oxen were not brought back till late at night, so
frightened had the animals been by the approach of the lion. In the
afternoon, as it was too late to think of proceeding, our travelers,
with their guns on their shoulders, and accompanied by Omrah and Begum,
who would always follow the Major if she was not tied up, strolled away
from the camp to amuse themselves. At first they walked to the hill from
which they had such a splendid view of the valley covered with
elephants, and, proceeding to where the male elephant had fallen, found
that his flesh had, by the Caffres, the wolves, and the vultures, been
completely taken off his bones, and it lay there a beautiful skeleton
for a museum.
As, however, they had no room for such weighty articles in their wagons,
they left it, after Swinton had made some observations upon the
structure of the animal. Begum would not go near the skeleton, but
appeared to be frightened at it. They then proceeded to the rock which
had been their place of refuge when the herd of elephants had charged
upon them; and as they stood under it, they were suddenly saluted with a
loud noise over their heads, sounding like quah, quah!
As soon as Begum heard it, she ran up to the Major with every sign of
trepidation, holding fast to his skin trowsers.
"What was that?" said Alexander; "I see nothing."
"I know what it is," said the Major; "it is a herd of baboons; there
they are; don't you see their heads over the rocks?"
"Let them show themselves a little more, and we'll have a shot at them,"
replied Alexander, cocking his gun.
"Not for your life," cried Swinton; "you will be skinned and torn to
pieces, if they are numerous, and you enrage them. You have no idea
what savage and powerful creatures they are. Look at them now; they are
coming down gradually; we had better be off."
"I think so too," said the Major; "they are very angry; they have seen
Begum, and imagine that we have one of their herd in our possession.
Pray don't fire, Wilmot, unless it is for your life; we are too few to
make them afraid of us. Here they come; there are a hundred of them at
least; let us walk away slowly--it won't do to run, for that would make
them chase us at once."
The baboons, some of which were of gigantic size, were now descending
from the rock, grunting, grinning, springing from stone to stone,
protruding their mouths, shaking their heads, drawing back the skin of
their foreheads, and showing their formidable tusks, advancing nearer
and nearer, and threatening an attack. Some of the largest males
advanced so close as to make a snatch at Omrah. As for Begum, she kept
behind the Major, hiding herself as much as possible. At last one or two
advanced so close, rising on their hind-legs, that the Major was obliged
to ward them off with his gun, "Point your guns at them," said Swinton,
"if they come too close; but do not fire, I beg you. If we only get from
off this rocky ground to the plain below, we shall probably get rid of
The ground on which they were formed a portion of the rocky hill upon
which they had taken shelter the day of the elephant-hunt; and within
twenty-five yards of them there was an abrupt descent of about four
feet, which joined it to the plain. They had gained half-way, parrying
the animals off as well as they could, as they retreated backward, when
some of the baboons came down from the other side of the rock, so as to
attempt to cut off their retreat, their object evidently being to gain
possession of Begum, whom they considered as belonging to them--and a
Their situation now became more critical; for the whole herd were
joining the foremost; and the noise they made, and the anger they
expressed, were much greater than before.
"We must fire, I really believe," said the Major, when they heard a
deep, hollow growl, followed up by a roar of some animal, apparently not
very far off. At this sound the baboons halted, and listened in silence;
again the growl was repeated, and followed up by the roar, and the
baboons, at a shriek given by one on the rock, turned round and took to
their heels, much to the delight of our travelers, who had felt the
peculiar difficulty and danger of their situation.
"What animal was that which has frightened them off?" said the Major.
"It was the growl of a leopard," replied Swinton; "we must keep a sharp
look-out; it can't be far off. The leopard is the great enemy of the
baboons. But where is Omrah?"
They all looked round, but the boy was not to be seen. At last he showed
his head above the foot of the rocky hill, where there was a descent of
four feet, as we have mentioned, then sprang up the rock, and began
capering, and imitating the baboons as they came on to the attack.
As they were laughing at him, all at once he stopped, and putting his
hands to his mouth he gave the growl and roar of a leopard, which they
had heard, and then set off running away baboon fashion.
"It was the Bushman, then, that frightened them off; he is a clever
"And I am not sure that he has not saved our lives," replied Swinton;
"but he has been brought up among them, one may say, and knows their
habits well. If he had not hid himself below the rocks before he
imitated the leopard, it would have been of no use, for they would not
have been frightened, hearing the growl proceeding from him. I admire
the boy's presence of mind."
"I thought at one time that the baboons had an idea that Omrah was one
of them. What a snatch they made at him!"
"It would not have been the first time that these animals have carried
off a boy," said Swinton; "I saw one at Latakoo, who had lived two years
with the baboons, which had carried him off."
"How did they treat him?"
"Very well indeed; but they kept him a prisoner. When they found that
he would not eat the coarse food which they did, they brought him other
things; and they invariably allowed him to drink first at the pools."
"Well, that was homage to our superiority. Confound their quahs, I shall
not get them out of my head for a week. What terrible large tusks they
"Yes, their incisors are very strong. They often destroy the leopard
when they meet it in numbers; but if one happens to be away from the
herd, he has, of course, no chance with such an animal. Begum did not
appear at all willing to renew her connection."
"None of the monkey tribe, after they have lived with man, ever are;
indeed it is a question, if they had taken possession of her, whether
they would not have torn her to pieces immediately, or have worried her
to death some way or other."
"Well, at all events, Swinton, you have been rewarded for your kindness
to that poor little Bushman, and we have reaped the benefit of it,"
observed Alexander. "But here come some of the oxen; I hope we shall be
able to start early on Monday. The native Caffres say that the wagons
can not proceed much further."
"No, not further than to the banks of the Umtata River: but you will
then be not a great way from your destination. Daaka is the chief's
name, is it not?"
"Yes, that is his name; and if he is as supposed to be, he is my first
cousin. How strange it sounds to me, as I look around me in this savage
and wild country, that I should be within forty miles of a
blood-relation, who is an inhabitant of it!"
"Well, we shall soon know the truth; but I must say, if it is only to
end in a morning call, you have come a long way for the purpose,"
replied the Major.
"I have come to ascertain a fact, which, from what I now know of the
country and its inhabitants, will be the source of any thing but
pleasure if it be established. My only hope is that it may prove
otherwise than we suppose; and there is little chance of that, I fear."
"At all events, come what may," observed Swinton, "you will have done
On their return, they found all the men and cattle collected, and that
night they increased the number of their fires, and tied the oxen to the
wagons, that they might not be scattered by the return of the lion. The
latter did not, however, make his appearance, and the night was passed
without any disturbance. The following day being Sunday, the Hottentots
were assembled, and desired not to start from the camp, as they would be
expected to attend to prayers and Divine service; and as no hunting
expedition was proposed, the Caffre warriors, as well as the native
Caffres, who came in with their baskets of milk and other articles for
sale and barter, also remained. Before dinner-time, the bell which had
been brought with them from the Cape, to ring in case of any one having
strayed from the camp, that he might be guided to return, was tolled by
Bremen, and the Hottentots were assembled. Prayers and a portion of the
Bible were then read.
The Caffre warriors, who had been told that the white men were going to
pray to their God, were very silent and attentive, although they could
not understand what was said; and the native Caffres, men, women and
children, sat down and listened. As soon as the service was over, the
Caffre head man of the warriors asked the interpreter to inquire of our
travelers why they struck the bell? was it to let God know that they
were about to pray, and did he hear what they said?
Swinton replied, that their God heard all that they said, and listened
to the prayers of those who trusted in him.
A great many other questions were put by the Caffres, all of which were
replied to with great caution by Mr. Swinton, as he was fearful that
they might not otherwise be understood by the Caffres; but they were, as
it was proved by the questions which followed in consequence. A great
portion of the afternoon was passed away in explaining and replying to
the interrogatories of these people, and our travelers felt convinced
that by having kept the Sabbath in that savage land they had done some
good by the example; for, as Swinton truly observed--
"The missionaries come into the land to spread the gospel of Christ;
they tell the natives that such is the religion and belief of the white
men, and that such are the doctrines which are inculcated. Now white men
come here as traders, or are occasionally seen here as travelers; and if
the natives find, as they have found, that these white men, stated by
the missionaries to hold the same belief, not only show no evidence of
their belief, but are guilty of sins expressly forbidden by the religion
preached, is not the work of the missionary nearly destroyed?
"I have often thought that the behavior of the Dutch boors toward the
natives must have had such an effect; indeed, I may say that the colony
has been founded upon very opposite principles to those of 'doing unto
others as you would they should do unto you.' I believe that there never
yet was an intercourse between Christians nominal and savages, in any
portion of the globe, but that the savages have with great justice
thrown in the Christians' teeth, that they preached one thing but did
another. Unfortunately the taunt is but too true. Even those who had
left their country for religious persecution have erred in the same way.
The conduct of the Puritans who landed at Salem was as barbarous toward
the Indians as that of Pizarro and his followers toward the Mexicans. In
either case the poor aborigines were hunted to death."
On Monday they started at daylight, and proceeded on the journey; but
they made little progress, on account of the difficulty of traveling
with the wagons in a country consisting of alternate precipices and
ravines, without any roads. The second day proved to be one of greater
difficulty; they were obliged to cut down trees, fill up holes, remove
large pieces of rock, and with every precaution the wagons were often
out of order, and they were obliged to halt for repairs.
At night they were about ten miles from the Umtata River, and it was
doubtful, from the accounts received from the natives of the country, if
they would be able to go further with the wagons than to its bank. But
in the evening, news was brought that the Amaquibi, the nation of
warriors which were governed by Quetoo, and which had come from the
north, had been attacked by two of the native tribes, aided by some
white men with guns; that the white men had all been destroyed, and that
the hostile army were marching south.
The native Caffres appeared to be in a panic, and this panic was soon
communicated to the Hottentots. At first, murmurings were heard as they
sat round the fire, and at last they broke out into open mutiny. Big
Adam, with three others, came up to the fire where our travelers were
sitting, and intimated that they must return immediately, as they would
proceed no further; that if it was decided to go on, the Hottentots
would not, as they had no intention of being murdered by the savages who
were advancing. Swinton, who could speak the Dutch language, having
consulted with Alexander and the Major, replied that it was very true
that the army of Quetoo was to the northward; but that the report of the
defeat of the Caffres and of the army advancing was not confirmed. It
was only a rumor, and might all be false; that even if true, it did not
follow they were advancing in the direction in which they themselves
were about to proceed; that it would be sufficient time for them to
retreat when they found out what were the real facts, which would be the
case in a few days at the furthest. But the Hottentots would not listen
to any thing that he said; they declared that they would proceed no
By this time all the other Hottentots had joined the first who came up
to our travelers, and made the same demand, stating their determination
not to proceed a mile further. Only Bremen and Swanevelt opposed the
rest, and declared that they would follow their masters wherever they
chose to lead them. Alexander now sent for the interpreter and the chief
of the Caffre warriors, lent him by Hinza, and desired the interpreter
to ask the Caffre whether he and his band would follow them. The Caffre
answered that they would; Hinza had given them in charge, and they could
not return and say that they had left them because there was an enemy
at hand. Hinza would kill them all if they did; they must bring back the
travelers safe, or lose their lives in their defense.
"Well, then," said the Major, "now we can do without these cowardly
fellows, who are no use to us but to eat and drink; so now let us
discharge them at once, all but Bremen and Swanevelt."
"I agree with you, Major," said Alexander; "what do you think, Swinton?"
"Yes, let us discharge them, for then they will be in a precious
dilemma. We will discharge them without arms, and desire them to go
home; that they dare not do, so they will remain. But let us first
secure their muskets, which lie round their fire, before we dismiss
them; or they will not, perhaps, surrender them, and we may be in an
awkward position. I will slip away, and while I am away, do you keep
them in talk until I return, which I shall not do until I have locked up
all the guns in the store-wagon."
As Swinton rose, the Major addressed the Hottentots. "Now, my lads,"
said he, "here are Bremen and Swanevelt who consent to follow us; all
the Caffre warriors agree to follow us; and here are about twenty of you
who refuse. Now I can not think that you will leave us; you know that we
have treated you well, and have given you plenty of tobacco; you know
that you will be punished as soon as you return to the Cape. Why then
are you so foolish? Now look you: I am sure that upon reflection you
will think better of it. Let me understand clearly your reasons for not
proceeding with us; I wish to hear them again, and let each man speak
The Hottentots immediately began to state over again their reasons for
not going on; and thus the Major, who made each give his reason
separately, gained their attention, and the time which was required.
Before they all had spoken, Swinton came back and took his seat by the
"All's safe," said he; "Bremen and Swanevelt's guns have been locked up
with the others." Our travelers had their own lying by them. The Caffre
warriors, who were standing behind the Hottentots, had all their
assaguays in their hands; but their shields, as usual, were hanging to
the sides of the wagons. The Major allowed the whole of the Hottentots
to speak, and when they were done, he said, "Now, Wilmot, turn the
tables on them."
Alexander then got up with his gun in his hand, the Major and Swinton
did the same, and then Alexander told the Hottentots that they were a
cowardly set of fellows; that with Bremen and Swanevelt, and the band of
Caffre warriors, he could do without them; that since they did not
choose to proceed, they might now leave the camp immediately, as they
should get neither food nor any thing else from them in future. "So now
be off, the whole of you; and if I find one to-morrow morning in sight
of the camp, or if one of you dares to follow us, I will order the
Caffres to run him through. You are dismissed, and to-morrow we leave
Alexander then called the chief of the Caffre warriors, and desired him,
in the presence of the Hottentots, to give particular charge of the
cattle, horses, and sheep, to his warriors during the night; and if any
one attempted to touch them, to run him through the body. "Do this
immediately," said Alexander to the chief, who without delay spoke to
his men, and they went off in obedience to his orders.
The Hottentots, who had heard all this, now retreated to their wagon,
but were struck with consternation when they found that their guns had
been removed; for they trusted to their guns and ammunition to enable
them to procure food and protect themselves on their return. They
consulted together in a low voice; they looked round and perceived that
our three travelers had quitted the fire, and were keeping guard with
their guns upon the wagons, to prevent any attempt of breaking them
open, on the part of the Hottentots. Moreover, ten of the Caffres, with
their spears, had since the breaking up of the conference, been put in
charge of the wagons by the chief, at the request of the Major. The
Hottentots now perceived their forlorn position.
How could they, without arms and ammunition, and without provisions,
return to the Cape, such a number of miles distant? How could they
exist, if they remained where they were? When they insisted upon our
travelers returning, they had quite overlooked the circumstance that
these could protect themselves with the Caffre warriors, and that they
were not in a condition to enforce their demand.
After a long conversation, they did what all Hottentots will do under
any emergency,--they lay down by the fire, and fell fast asleep.
Swinton, having ascertained that they were really asleep, proposed that
they themselves should retire to the wagon, and leave the Caffres on
guard, which they did; as they well knew that a Hottentot once fast
asleep is not easily roused up even to "treason, stratagem, or spoil."
Shortly after break of day, Bremen came to them, stating that he found
the wagons could proceed no further, as he had walked on, and discovered
that a mile before them there was a ravine so deep that it would be
difficult for the cattle to go down, and for the wagons impossible; that
at a distance of three miles below he could see the river, which was
also so embedded in rocks, as to be impassable by the wagons.
The Major immediately went with Bremen, to satisfy himself of the truth
of this, and returned, stating that further progress with wagons was
"Well, then, we must now hold a council," said Swinton. "Of course,
proceed you will, Wilmot, that is decided; the only question is, as we
must now proceed on horseback, what force you will take with you, and
what shall be left in charge of the wagons?"
"I think we can trust the Caffres, do not you?"
"Yes, I do; but I wish from my heart that the Hottentots had not
rebelled; for although in some respects cowardly fellows, yet with their
muskets they are brave, and their muskets keep the natives in order."
"To the Caffres, the contents of the wagons would prove a temptation;
but these are not temptations to the Hottentots, whose object is to get
back safe, and receive their wages. Thus we play them off against each
"Here are all the Hottentots coming up to us," said the Major; "I hope
it is to make submission; it is very desirable that they should do so
before they know that the wagons proceed no further."
The surmise of the Major was correct: the Hottentots had again canvassed
the matter over, and, perceiving the helplessness of their position, had
come in a body to beg forgiveness, and to offer to accompany our
travelers wherever they pleased to take them.
It was a long while before Alexander would consent to receive them
again, and not until they had made promise upon promise, that he seemed
at last to be mollified. Swinton then interceded for them, and at last
Alexander consented, upon their future good behavior, to overlook their
conduct. This matter having been satisfactorily arranged, the former
question was resumed.
"One of you, I fear, must remain with the wagons," observed Alexander;
"or both of you, if you please. I have no right to ask you to go upon
any wild-goose chase, and run into danger for nothing."
"That one should remain with the wagons will be necessary," said
Swinton; "and I think that the Major, if he does not object, is the
proper person. The party who are left must provide themselves with food
by their guns; and it will require more military tact than I possess to
arrange that and to defend the wagons. I will accompany you, Wilmot, as
I can speak better Dutch, and the interpreter will not get on well
"Will you have the kindness to take charge of the wagons, Major, during
"I think, perhaps, it will be as well; although I had rather have gone
with you," replied the Major. "I propose that you take thirty of the
Caffres, Bremen, and eight Hottentots with you; leave me Swanevelt and
the other Hottentots."
"Yes, that will do very well; we will leave the Caffre head man with
"No; he must go with the larger portion of his party; he could not well
be separated from them. I will find a proper place for the wagons, and
stockade myself regularly in; that will be a good job for the
Hottentots, and I dare say I shall do very well."
"I shall not leave you Omrah, Major," said Swinton; "for, as we shall
take four horses with us, I wish him to ride one, and he can attend upon
us, as you have Mahomed."
"You may have Begum to ride the other," replied the Major, "if you
please; then you will each have a groom."
"No, no, it would be a pity to part you and her; however, there is no
time to be lost, for if this great chief and warrior Quetoo is
advancing, it may be as well to be ready for a retreat; the sooner we
are off, the sooner we shall be back; so now to pack up."
The first step taken by Alexander was to send for the Hottentots, and,
after again reproving them for their former behavior, he asked who were
ready to volunteer to proceed with him, as he had decided to leave the
wagons with Major Henderson, and proceed on horseback the short distance
of his journey which remained to be accomplished.
Several of the Hottentots immediately came forward; the heads of the
mutiny held back, and thus proved to Alexander that the men who had come
forward were persuaded into it by the others, and regretted what they
had done. He therefore immediately accepted their services, and their
muskets were returned to them. Alexander then stated his intentions to
the Caffre head man, who selected the thirty warriors that were
required, and in the course of three hours every thing was ready for
It was arranged that in case of danger arising to either party, they
should, if possible, fall back to the newly established Mission of
Morley, on the sea-coast; but otherwise, the wagons would remain where
they were till Alexander's return. Having packed up all they required in
small packages, to be carried by the Caffres, they bade farewell to the
Major, and set off, having no baggage but what we have mentioned; for
Alexander would not be encumbered with a load of heavy articles which
must prevent rapid progress, or rapid retreat if necessary.
In two hours they arrived by difficult passes at the banks of the Umtata
River, which they crossed, and soon afterward falling in with a Caffre
kraal, they were informed that Daaka, the chief whom they sought, did
not reside more than twenty miles distant; and they easily procured a
guide to show them the way.
The reports of the advance of the Amaquibi army were here fully
confirmed, and the natives were preparing to leave the kraal with all
their cattle. It appeared, however, that at present the army was
stationary; the warriors carousing and enjoying themselves after the
victory which they had gained over the Caffres. As these had been
assisted by white men and their guns, the spirits of the Amaquibi were
raised to an extraordinary degree, and they were intending to carry
their arms to the southward, as soon as Quetoo, their chief, had
somewhat recovered from his wounds received in the late action. Indeed,
it was the wounded state of their chief which was the principal cause of
the army not having immediately proceeded to the southward.
Having obtained this information, the travelers resumed their journey
along the banks of the Umtata, over a country of surprising beauty, the
deep river being full of hippopotami, which were lying on the banks or
snorting in the stream. They could not wait to kill one during the
daytime, but promised the men they would allow them to make the attempt
in the evening, after their day's march was over. Toward sunset, they
stopped on the banks of the river on a rising ground, and the Hottentots
and some Caffres were then directed to go down to the river in chase of
the hippopotami, as it was advisable to save their provisions as much as
Before night they had succeeded, and the carcass of the animal was
hauled on shore. As soon as the party had taken as much as they
required, the native Caffres carried off the remainder of the flesh. As
they were sitting down carousing by the fire which had been lighted, the
Caffre head warrior came up to the interpreter, and told Alexander and
Swinton not to say that they were Hinza's warriors if asked where they
came from. On being asked why, he told them that Hinza had married a
daughter of the chief of this country, and after a time had sent her
back again to her father, and that this had created ill blood between
the tribes, although no war had taken place. Alexander and Swinton, who
perceived that the advice was judicious, told him that they would not,
and after partaking of the hippopotamus flesh they all lay down to
repose under the far-spreading branches of a large tree.
The next morning they set off, and after an hour's journey the guide
told them that they were at the kraal of Daaka, the descendant of the
Europeans. The bellowing of the cattle and noise of the calves soon
directed them to the spot, and they entered a kraal consisting of
several very wretched huts. On inquiring for Daaka, a woman pointed out
a hut at a little distance, and, as they dismounted and walked up, he
came out to meet them. Swinton and Alexander shook hands with the chief,
and said that they were very glad to see him, and that they had come far
to pay him a visit. The chief ordered a hut to be swept out for their
accommodation, which they took possession of.
"You have no idea, Swinton," said Alexander, "how much I am excited
already by this interview."
"I can imagine it, my dear Wilmot," said Swinton; "it is but natural,
for he is your kinsman by all report, and certainly, although a Caffre
in his habits and manners, his countenance and features are strikingly
"That I have observed myself, and it has fully convinced me of the truth
of the statement. I am most anxious to examine him--we must call the
The chief entered the hut soon afterward, and took his seat; the
interpreter was sent for, and the conversation was begun by Daaka, who
like most of the Caffre chiefs, with the hope of obtaining presents,
stated himself to be very poor, his cattle to be dying, and his children
without milk. Our travelers allowed him to go on for some time in this
manner, and then sent for a present of beads and tobacco, which they
gave him. They then commenced their inquiries, and the first question
they asked was, why he resided so near the sea.
"Because the sea is my mother," replied he; "I came from the sea, and
the sea feeds me when I am hungry."
"In that reply he evidently refers to the wreck of the ship," observed
Swinton; "and I presume, from the fish-bones, which we have seen about
the kraal, that these Caffres feed on fish, which the other tribes do
not, and therefore it is that he says his mother feeds him."
"Was your mother white?" inquired Alexander.
"Yes," replied Daaka, "her skin was white as yours; her hair was just
like yours, long and dark; but before she died it was quite white."
"What was your mother's name?"
"Kuma," replied the chief.
"Had you any brothers and sisters?"
"Yes, I had; I have one sister alive now."
"What is her name?" inquired Swinton.
"Bess," replied the chief.
"This is very confirmatory," said Alexander; "my aunt's name was
Elizabeth; she must have called her child after herself."
"Whom did your mother marry?"
"She first married my uncle, and had no children; and then she married
my father; both were chiefs, and I am a chief; she had five children by
[Illustration: THE CAFFRE CHIEF. P. 195.]
A long conversation took place after this, the substance of which we may
as well communicate to our reader in few words. From the children of
Kuma, supposed to be Elizabeth, the aunt of Alexander, were produced
a numerous race of the European blood, who were celebrated in
the Caffre land for their courage; they were continually engaged in war,
as their alliance was eagerly sought, and in consequence had nearly all
perished. Daaka himself was renowned for warlike exploits, but he was
now a very old man. In the evening the chief took his leave, and went to
his own hut.
As soon as they were alone, Alexander said to Swinton, "I have now so
far fulfilled my promise to my worthy relation that I have seen this
descendant of his child; but what am I to do? An old man like him is not
very likely to consent to go to England, and as for his sister Bess, he
states that she is equally infirm; the progeny of the rest of the family
are scattered about, and he himself knows nothing about them; to collect
them would be impossible, and if collected, equally impossible to remove
them, for they would not leave. My old relative fancies, in his mind's
eye, his daughter weeping over her captivity, and longing to be restored
to her country and her relations; still retaining European feelings and
sympathies, and miserable in her position; her children brought up by
her with the same ideas, and some day looking forward to their
emancipation from this savage state of existence: I think if he were
here, and saw old Daaka, he would soon divest himself of all these
"I think so too; but there is one thing which has struck me very
forcibly, Alexander, which is, if this Daaka is the son of your aunt how
comes it that he is so old? When was the _Grosvenor_ lost?"
"In the year 1782."
"And we are now in 1829. Your aunt you stated to have been ten or twelve
years old at the time of the wreck. Allowing her to marry at the
earliest age, Daaka could not well be more than forty-eight years old;
and surely he is more than that."
"He looks much older, certainly; but who can tell the age of a savage,
who has been living a life of constant privation, and who has been so
often wounded as his scars show that he has been? Wounds and hardship
will soon make a man look old."
"That is very true, but still he appears to me to be older than the
"I think his stating that his sister was named Bess is full
"It is rather circumstantial evidence, Wilmot: now what do you propose
"I hardly know; but I wish to be in Daaka's company some time longer,
that I may gain more intelligence; and I think of proposing to him that
we should go down to visit the remains of the wreck of his mother, as he
terms it. I should like to see a spot so celebrated for misfortune, and
behold the remains of the ill-fated vessel; I should like to have to
tell my good old uncle all I can, and he will wish that I should be able
to give him every information."
"Well, I think it is a good plan of yours, and we will propose it to him
"And I should like to visit his sister Bess--indeed, I must do so. He
says she is much younger than he is."
"He did, and therefore I think his age does not correspond with our
dates, as I observed before," replied Swinton; "but, as you say, you
must see his sister."
Daaka had sent an old cow as a present to Alexander, which was a very
seasonable supply, as the hippopotamus-flesh had all been eaten. The
next morning they proposed that he should accompany them to where the
_Grosvenor_ had been wrecked.
Daaka did not at first appear to know what they wished, and inquired,
through the interpreter, whether they meant the ship that was wrecked on
the sea-coast, pointing to the eastward. On receiving an answer in the
affirmative, he agreed to set off with them that afternoon, saying that
it was about forty miles off, and that they could not get there until
the next day.
About noon they set off on their journey, and as they made but slow
progress over a rugged although most beautiful country, they stopped at
night at a kraal about half-way. Early the next morning they were led by
Daaka and some Caffres who accompanied him to the sea-shore, and when
they had arrived at the beach, it being then low water, Daaka pointed to
a reef, upon which were to be seen the guns, ballast, and a portion of
the keelson of a ship--all that remained of the unfortunate _Grosvenor_.
As the sea washed over the reef; now covering and now exposing these
mementoes of misery and suffering, Alexander and Swinton remained for
some time without speaking; at last Alexander said--
"Swinton, you have read the history of this unfortunate vessel, I know,
for you asked me for it to read. What a succession of scenes of horror
do these remains, which from their solid weight only have defied the
power of the winds and waves, conjure up at this moment in my mind. I
think I now behold the brave vessel dashed upon the reefs--the scream of
despair from all on board--the heart-rending situation of the women and
children--their wonderful escape and landing on shore, only to be
subjected to greater suffering. See, Swinton, that must have been the
rock which they all gained, and upon which they remained shivering
through the night."
"It is, I have no doubt, from its position," said Swinton.
"Yes, it must have been; I think I see them all--men, women, and
helpless children--huddled together, half-clothed and suffering,
quitting that rock by this only path from it, and setting off upon their
mad and perilous journey; the scattering of the parties--their perils
and hunger--their conflicts with the natives--their sufferings from heat
and from thirst--their sinking down one by one into the welcome arms of
death, or torn to pieces by the wolves and hyenas as they lagged behind
the others. How much more fortunate those who never gained the shore."
"Yes, indeed," replied Swinton; "except the eight who reached the Cape,
and the five that Daaka asserts were saved, all the rest must have
perished in that dreadful manner."
Alexander remained for some time in painful thought; at last he turned
to Daaka and said, as he pointed to the remains of the wreck, "And this
then is your mother?"
Daaka looked at him and shook his head, "No, not my mother this,"
replied he; "my mother down there," pointing out in a northerly
"What does he mean, Swinton? he says this is not his mother."
"I will speak to him, Wilmot; you are too much agitated," replied
"Is not that the vessel which your mother was lost in?" said Swinton,
through the interpreter.
"No," replied Daaka; "my mother came on shore in a vessel up the little
river out there; I was a boy when this large ship was wrecked; and got
some iron from her to make assaguays."
"Merciful heaven! what joy I feel; I trust it is true what he says."
"I have no doubt of it, Wilmot; I told you he was too old a man,"
replied Swinton; "but let me question him further."
Our readers may imagine the impatience of Alexander while the questions
of Swinton were being answered, and by which it appears that Daaka's
mother was lost at the mouth of the Lauwanbaz, a small river some miles
to the eastward of the Zemsooboo. An old Caffre, who had come down with
Daaka, now gave a particular account of the wreck of the _Grosvenor_,
corroborating all Daaka's assertions.
"Were there none of the _Grosvenor's_ people left in the country?"
"None," replied the old man; "they all went to the southward."
"Did you hear what became of them?"
"Some lay down and died, some fought the natives and were killed; the
wolves ate the rest; not one left alive; they all perished."
"Were none of the women and children saved and kept as slaves?"
"No, not one; they had no meat, no milk, and they all died."
After some other inquiries, the old man, who at first did not reply
willingly, stated that he had, with other Caffres, followed the last
party; had seen them all dead, and had taken off their clothes, and that
as they died were buried by those who still survived.
"A better fate, cruel as it was, than living as they must have lived,"
"Yes, truly," replied Alexander; "you don't know, Swinton, what a load
has been removed from my mind, and how light-hearted I feel,
notwithstanding this recital of their sufferings. My poor uncle! God
grant that he may live till my return with this distinct intelligence,
with the assurance that he has no grandchildren living the life of a
heathen, and knowing no God. What a relief will it prove to him; how
soothing will it be to his last days! How grateful am I to God, that I
have had so happy an issue to my mission! Now, Swinton, we will return
as soon as you please; as soon as we arrive at Daaka's kraal, I will
take down in writing the statement of these people, and then we will
hasten back to the Major."
"And I dare say," said Swinton, as he remounted his horse, "that you
will make old Daaka a more handsome present, for proving himself no
relation to you, than if he had satisfactorily established himself as
your own first cousin."
"You may be sure that my gratitude toward him is much greater than ever
could have been my kindred feeling from friendship. I am so light
hearted, Swinton, and so grateful to God that I almost wish to dismount
in my anxiety to return my thanks; but I do so in my heart of hearts, at
On the following day they arrived at Daaka's kraal, and then Alexander
took down very carefully in writing the statements made by Daaka and the
other Caffres. They all agreed on the one point, which was, that the
European descendants now living in the country were wrecked in another
vessel many years before the loss of the _Grosvenor_, and that not one
of the _Grosvenor's_ people--men, women or children--had survived,
except the few who arrived at the Cape.
Having obtained these satisfactory documents, they made a handsome
present to Daaka and the other Caffres, and immediately set out upon
their return to the wagons. As they journeyed back to the westward, they
found the Caffres quitting their huts, and driving away the cattle, that
they might not fall into the power of the army of Quetoo, which it was
said was now in motion, and scattering the tribes before them. As our
travelers were not at all anxious to have any communication with these
savage invaders, in two days they crossed the Umtata, and toward the
evening were within sight of the wagons. A shout from the Hottentots and
Caffres gave notice of their approach. The shout was returned, and in a
few minutes they were shaking hands with the Major, who was delighted to
"I did not expect you back so soon," replied the Major; "and as I
perceive that you are unaccompanied, I presume that your Caffre
relations would not quit their kraals."
"You shall know all about it, Major, very soon; it will be enough at
present to let you know that we have nothing but good news."
"That I rejoice to hear; but it was well you came back as you did, for I
have been making every preparation, and had you not returned in a few
days, I should have retreated; the invaders are close at hand."
"We know it, and, if they are told that there are wagons here well
loaded, they will come on quickly, with the hopes of plunder, so we must
delay no longer," replied Alexander; "to-morrow we will yoke and set
off. We can determine upon our route as we are traveling, but the first
point is to retreat from this quarter."
"Exactly; the oxen are in prime order and can make a long day's march,
and we know our country for some days, at all events; but enter my
fortress, dismount, and let us go into the tent which I have pitched.
You shall then tell me your adventures, while Mahomed fries a delicate
piece of elephant's flesh for you."
"Have you killed an elephant?"
"Yes, but not without much difficulty and some danger, I assure you; I
wanted your help sadly, for these Hottentots are too much alarmed to
take good aim, and I had only my own rifle to trust to; but I have done
very well considering, and I shall prove to our commander-in-chief that
I have supplied the garrison without putting him to any expense during
his absence. We have been feeding upon green monkeys for three days, and
very good eating they are, if you do not happen upon a very old one."
When they entered the inclosure made by the Major, they were surprised
at the state of defense in which he had put it. His hedge of thorns upon
rocks piled up was impregnable, and the wagons were in the center, drawn
up in a square; the entrance would only admit one person at a time, and
was protected by bars at night.
"Why, Major, you might have held out against the whole force of the
Amaquibi in this position."
"Yes, provided I had provisions and water," replied the Major; "but I
fear they would soon have starved me out; however, it was as well to be
prepared against any sudden night-attack, and therefore I fortified my
camp: now come in, and welcome back again."
The news which they had to impart to the Major was soon given, and he
was highly delighted at the intelligence:--"And now," said he, "what do
you mean to do, Wilmot?--go back again, of course, but by what route?"
"Why, Major, you and Swinton have been so kind in coming with me thus
far, and I have been so successful in my expedition, that I shall now
leave you to decide as you please. I have effected all that I wished, my
business is over, and I am ready to meet you in any way you choose; any
thing you decide upon I shall agree to willingly and join in heartily,
so now speak your wishes."
"Well, I will speak mine very frankly," replied the Major. "We have had
some sport in this country, it is true, but not so much as I could have
wished; for game is rather scarce, with the exception of elephants and
sea-cows. Now I should like to cross the mountains, and get into the
Bechuana and Bushman country, where game is as plentiful as I believe
water is scarce; we can return that way, if you please, almost as well
as we can through the Caffre country--what say you, Swinton?"
"Well, I am of your opinion. As Wilmot says, business is over and we
have nothing to do but to amuse ourselves; I am very anxious to pass
through this country, as I shall add greatly to my collections, I have
no doubt; but it must not be expected that we shall fare as well as we
have done in this; it will be the dry season, and we may be in want of
"I am equally desirous of going through that country, where I hope to
shoot a giraffe,--that is my great ambition," replied Wilmot; "therefore
we may consider that we are all agreed, and the affair is settled; but
the question is, how shall we proceed back? We must return to Hinza's
territory and send back the Caffres. Shall we return to Butterworth?"
"I think that must depend upon circumstances, and we can talk it over as
we go along: the first point to ascertain is, the best passage over the
mountains; and it appears to me that we shall be diverging much too far
to the eastward if we return to Butterworth; but the Caffres will soon
give us the necessary information."
"I wonder if the quarrel between Hinza and Voosani has been made up,"
said Alexander; "for we must pass through the Tambookie tribe if we
cross the mountains, and if there is war between them we may meet with
"We shall hear as soon as we have crossed the Bashee river," replied
Swinton; "and then we must decide accordingly. All that can be settled
now is, that to-morrow we start on our return, and that we will cross
the mountains, if we possibly can."
"Yes, that is decided," replied Alexander.
"Well, then, as soon as you have finished your elephant-steak, Wilmot,
we will get out a bottle of wine, drink the first half of it to
congratulate you upon the success of your mission, and the other half
shall be poured out in bumpers to a happy return."
The delight of the Hottentots at the announcement of the return of the
expedition was not to be concealed; and now that they knew that they
were retreating from the danger, as they were further removed they
became proportionately brave. We must not include all the Hottentots in
this observation, as Bremen, Swanevelt, and one or two more, were really
brave men; but we do refer to the principal portion of them, with Big
Adam at their head, who now flourished and vapored about, as if he could
by himself kill and eat the whole army of the dreaded Quetoo.
As it was the intention of our travelers to pass over the Mambookei
chain of mountains, into the Bushman and Koranna territory, they did not
return the same route by which they came, but more to the westward
through the territory of the Tambookie Caffres, not any one time
entering upon the territory of the Amakosas, the tribe of Caffres
governed by Hinza, who had lent them his warriors.
Voosani, the chief of the Tambookies, was very friendly, and had offered
no opposition to their passage through a portion of his domains on their
advance. They now lost no time, but continued their journey as fast as
they could, although during the day they saw a great quantity of game,
and were almost every night saluted with the roaring of the lions.
In a week they found themselves on the banks of the White Kae River, and
not far from the foot of the mountains which they intended to pass. Here
they halted, with the intention of remaining some few days, that they
might unload and re-arrange the packing of their wagons, repair what was
necessary, and provide themselves with more oxen and sheep for their
journey in the sterile territory of the Bushmen.
During their route, the rumors relative to the army of Quetoo were
incessant. He had attacked and murdered Lieut. Farewell and his people,
who were on a trading expedition in the interior, and taken possession
of and plundered their wagons. Flushed with success over white people
armed with muskets, Quetoo had now resolved to turn his army to the
southward, and attack the tribes of the Amaponda Caffres, governed by
Fakoo, and the missionary station of Morley, lately established near the
coast, between the St. John and the Umtata rivers.
To effect this, Quetoo commenced his ravages upon all the lesser tribes
tributary to Fakoo, and having put them to indiscriminate slaughter,
driven away their cattle, and burned their kraals, his army advanced to
the missionary station, which the missionaries were compelled to desert,
and fall back upon the St. John River.
One of the men belonging to the tribe near Morley came to the caravan
where our travelers had halted, and, on being questioned as to the loss
they had experienced, cried out, "Ask not how many are killed, but how
many are saved: our wives, where are they? and our children, do you see
any of them?"
But Fakoo, the chief of the Amapondas, had roused himself and collected
his army. He resolved upon giving battle to the enemy. He found the
Amaquibi encamped in a forest, and he surrounded them with a superior
army; he then contrived, by attacking and retreating, to lead them into
a position from which there was no escape but by the pass by which they
had entered, and which he completely blocked up with his own forces.
The Amaquibi could not retreat, and a furious conflict took place, which
ended in the destruction of the whole of Quetoo's army. Quetoo himself
was not present, as he still remained confined with the wound he had
received in the prior engagement, in which he had been victorious. A
portion of Fakoo's army was sent against him, and he fled with the loss
of all the cattle and treasures he had collected; and thus was the
invading force at last totally dispersed and not heard of any more.
This news was very satisfactory to our travelers, as they did not know
whether they would have had time to make their arrangements, if Quetoo's
army had been victorious; and it was still more pleasing to the
Hottentots, who were now even braver than before, all lamenting that
they had not remained on the banks of the Umtata River, where the combat
took place, that they might have assisted at the destruction of the
It was toward the end of August before our travelers had made their
preparations and were ready for a start. They had decided to try the
pass through the Mambookei chain of mountains, to the eastward of the
one named Stormbergen, and as they expected to meet with some
difficulties, it was decided that the Caffre warriors should not be
dismissed till they had arrived at the Bushman territory; they proposed
then to turn to the N.W., so as to fall in with that portion of the
Orange River which was known by the name of the Vaal or Yellow River,
crossing the Black or Cradock River, which is also another branch of the
This arrangement was made, that they might get into the country more
abounding with game, and better furnished with water than any other
portion of the sterile deserts which they had to pass through.
Having, as usual, kept holy the Lord's day, on the Monday morning they
started in high spirits, and with their cattle in excellent order. The
passage through the ravine was very difficult; they had to fill up
holes, roll away stones, and very often put double teams to drag the
They made but ten miles on the first day, and found the night cold,
after the heat to which they had been subjected. The second day was also
one of toil and danger, but on the third they found that they had
commenced the descent, and the whole Bushman country was spread before
them. But the descent was even more perilous than the ascent, and it was
not without great exertion that they saved their wagons from falling
over the precipices.
On the fourth evening they had crossed the mountains, and were now at
the foot of them on the western side. It was with difficulty that they
collected wood enough to make their fires for the night, and the
continual roaring told them that they were now in the domain of the
lion and his satellites.
At break of day they all rose, that they might view the country which
they were about to traverse. It was one wild desert of sand and stones,
interspersed with small shrubs, and here and there a patch of bushes;
apparently one vast, dry, arid plain, with a haze over it, arising from
the heat. Our travelers, however, did not at first notice this change;
their eyes were fixed upon the groups of quaggas and various antelopes
which were strewed over the whole face of the country; and, as soon as
they had taken their breakfast, they mounted their horses in pursuit. It
had been their intention to have dismissed the Caffres on that morning,
but the chief of the band pointed out that it would be as well that they
should kill some game, to provide them with food for their journey back;
and our travelers approved of the suggestion, as it would save their
Alexander and the Major set off with Bremen, Swanevelt, and Omrah on
horseback, while the Caffres on foot kept well up with them. The other
Hottentots were ordered to remain with Swinton at the encampment, as
they had to repair the damages done to the wagons in crossing the
Omrah had shown himself so useful, that he had been permitted to
practice with a fowling-piece carrying ball, and had proved himself very
expert. He now was mounted on the Major's spare horse; that in case the
Major's was knocked up, he might change it, for Omrah's weight was a
The plan of the chase was, that the Caffres should spread in a
half-circle, and conceal themselves as much as possible, while those on
horseback should turn the animals and drive them in their direction. As
they advanced on the plain, they discovered what the haze had prevented
their seeing at early dawn, that the plain was covered with a variety of
beautiful flowers, of the amaryllis and other tribes, and with the hills
of ants and ant-eaters' holes, which latter were very dangerous to the
The sun was now up in the heavens, and blazed fiercely; the heat was
intense, although still early in the day. When they turned their heads
toward the mountains which they had passed, they were struck with
astonishment at the grandeur of the scene: rocks and cliffs in wild
chaos, barren ridges and towering peaks, worn by time into castellated
fortresses and other strange shapes, calling to their fancy the ruins of
a former world. With the exception of a pool of water, near to which the
caravan had halted, not a vestige of that element was to be seen in any
direction; all was one plain, ending only in the horizon, without a
tree, the line only broken by the groups of animals and the long necks
of the packs of ostriches in the distance.
If, however, the vegetable kingdom was deficient, the animal was
proportionably abundant, and Alexander and the Major were soon at their
speed after a troop of quaggas and zebras, which they succeeded in
turning toward the Caffres. As soon as the animals had entered the
radius of the half-circle, and were within distance, they checked their
horses and opened their fire upon them; at the same time the Caffres
showed themselves, and the animals were for a time confounded by finding
themselves so nearly surrounded.
During their hesitation, and while they attempted to break through here
and there, and then turned again, several were brought to the ground by
the guns of the mounted party, till at last, as if they had summoned up
their resolution, the whole herd, led by a splendid male, burst away in
a direction close to the horsemen, and made their escape from the circle
in a cloud of dust, scattering the stones behind them as they fled.
The Caffres ran up to the animals which lay wounded, and put them out of
their misery by inserting the point of their assaguays into the spine,
which caused immediate death. Seven animals were killed, three zebras
and four quaggas; and as Swinton had requested that they might not be
cut up till he had ascertained if he required their skins, Omrah was
sent back to bring him to where they were lying.
Swinton soon came, and Alexander said to him, "Now, Swinton, let us know
if you want any of the skins of these animals to preserve."
"No," replied Swinton, "I have them already; I just thought it possible
that you might have killed a zebra."
"Well, have we not? there are three of them."
"No, my good fellow, they are not of the real zebra species; they belong
to a class described by Burchell, the traveler, which is termed the
striped quagga. The quagga and striped quagga, as you may see, have the
ears of a horse, while the zebra has those of the ass. The true zebra
hardly ever descends upon the plains, but lives altogether upon the
mountainous regions; occasionally it may be found, it is true, and that
is the reason why I came to see."
"Are they good eating, these animals?"
"The quagga is very indifferent food, but the striped quagga is very
passable; so if you intend to save any for our dinner, pray let it be
some of the latter. Have you done hunting to-day?"
"Yes," replied the Major, "if Wilmot is of my opinion, I think we had
better not work our horses any more just now; the plain is so full of
large holes,--ant-eaters' holes, Bremen says they are."
"Yes, they are ant-eaters' holes, and very dangerous; I have seen them
several feet deep. If we do not start to-day, I will ask the Hottentots
to try and procure one for me to-night, as I wish to have a stuffed
"We do not intend to start till to-morrow morning," replied Alexander;
"we must dismiss the Caffres to-night, that they may be also ready to go
home to-morrow. They will now have provisions enough."
Our travelers now rode back to the caravan, leaving the Caffres to bring
home the flesh. As soon as they had dined, the chief of the warriors was
desired to come with all his men, and Alexander then made every man a
handsome present, consisting of tobacco, snuff, cloth, knives and beads.
To the chief of the band he gave three times as much as the others, and
then, having delivered to him a very liberal collection of articles for
their king Hinza, Alexander told the chief to acquaint the king that he
had been very much pleased with the conduct of the men, and thanked his
majesty for the loan of them, and requested that his majesty would
accept of the packet of articles which he had selected for him.
He then thanked the men for their good conduct, told them to take all
the flesh that they wished for the journey, and stated that they were at
liberty to depart that evening or the next morning, as they thought
proper. The Caffres were perfectly satisfied with Alexander's
liberality, and the chief of the warriors, making a short speech in
reply, retired with his men.
"Well, I'm very sorry that these fine fellows are leaving," said the
"And so am I; but I could not well detain them, and they said that they
could not go further with us without the king's permission," replied
"Of course not," replied the Major; "but that does not lessen my regret
at their departure; they have been both steady and brave, as well as
active and willing, and I do not expect that our Hottentots will serve
us so well."
"You are right not to expect it, Major," replied Swinton; "if you did,
you would be miserably disappointed. If they knew now where we were
going, they would desert us. The only hold that we have upon the greater
number of them is their fear; they go forward because they are afraid to
go back; but if they could get hold of our horses, with their guns and
ammunition, they would leave us as soon as we advanced in the desert."
"Very true, I fear; but we have a few stanch fellows among them, and two
at least whom we can depend upon--Bremen and Swanevelt."
"How far is it from here to the Black River, Swinton?"
"About forty miles; not so much perhaps to the river's bed, but at least
that, if not more, before we shall fall in with any water at this season
of the year."
"We must not fail to fill our water-kegs before we leave this."
"No, for we shall have no water to-night, that is certain. We can not
travel more than twenty miles over such a country as this; for turning
here and there to avoid the holes and ant-hills, the twenty miles will
be at least thirty," said Swinton; "but now I must go and tell the
Hottentots to find me what I want: a pound of tobacco will procure it, I
have no doubt."
"But I have mine," observed the Major, after Swinton was gone; "we are
too near the pool, and we shall be surrounded with lions to-night; the
Hottentots may pretend that they will go, but they will not."
"One can not well blame them; I'm sure a pound of tobacco would not
persuade me to put my head into a lion's mouth; but I agree with you, we
are too near the pool, and as we must collect the cattle to secure them
during the night, I think we had better fill our water-kegs, and then
yoke and take up a position for the night about half a mile further off.
But here comes Swinton, who can give us his advice."
As Swinton agreed with them, they yoked the oxen, and drove forward
about a mile from the pool; they then secured them to the wagons and
lighted large fires round the caravan.
The Major was correct as regarded the Hottentots' procuring an ant-eater
for Swinton; they would not leave the fires, and the continual approach
of the lions during the night proved that they were wise in so doing.
There was no occasion for the lions to roar; the moaning of Begum, and
her clinging to the Major, the trembling of the dogs, and the uneasiness
of the cattle, invariably gave notice of lions being at hand. Shots were
fired off during the night, to keep them at a distance, but otherwise
the night passed away undisturbed.
They started the following morning about daybreak, and, at the same
time, the Caffres took their departure to their own country. The ground
over which the caravan traveled was stony and sandy at intervals, and
they had not proceeded far before they again discovered a great variety
of game dispersed over the level plain. They did not, however, attempt
to pursue them, as they were anxious to go on as far as possible, so as
to give the oxen an opportunity of picking up what little food they
could during the middle of the day, at which time the Major and
Alexander proposed that they should go in pursuit of game. But before
they had traveled three hours, they were surprised at a cloud of dust,
which obscured the horizon, in the direction they were proceeding.
"What can that be?" said Alexander.
"I think it is springbok," said Bremen the Hottentot.
"Springbok! why, there must be thousands and thousands of them."
"I believe that Bremen is right," said Swinton; "it must be one of the
migratory herds of springboks; I have never seen them, but I have often
been told of them."
The body of antelopes now advanced toward them, keeping on a straight
path; and to state their numbers would have been impossible: there might
have been fifty or a hundred thousand, or more. As far as the eye could
see in any direction, it was one moving mass covering the whole plain.
As they approached the caravan, those nearest huddled on one side and
occasionally bounded away with the remarkable springs made by this
animal, and from which it has its name, alighting not upon the earth,
but, for want of room, upon the backs of its companions, and then
dropping in between the ranks.
A hazy vapor arose from these countless herds as they moved on, and more
than once the Hottentots, who were standing on the wagons, which had
been stopped as the herd came up to them, pointed out a lion which was
journeying with the crowds to feast at his leisure. The animals appeared
very tame, and several were killed close to the wheels of the wagons,
for the evening's supper. Notwithstanding that the herd moved at a rapid
pace, it was more than two hours before the whole had passed by.
"Well," observed Alexander, "I can now say that I have seen no want of
game in Africa. Where will they go to?"
"They will go directly on to the southward," replied Swinton; "the
migration of these animals is one of the most remarkable proofs of the
fecundity of animal life. Like the ants, they devour every thing before
them; and if we journey in the direction they have come from, we shall
find no food for the cattle until after the rains. After the rains fall,
these animals will return to their former pastures. It is the want of
food which has brought them so far to the southward."
"Their track is evidently from the north and eastward," said the Major;
"had we not better change our course more to the northward?"
"No, I should think not; they have probably traveled on this side of the
Nu Gariep or Black River. We shall have neither water nor food for the
cattle to-night, and therefore I think we had better go on as we are
going, so as to make sure of water for them to-morrow, at all events.
It's useless now stopping to feed the cattle, we had better continue
right on till the evening; we shall sooner arrive at the river, and so
gain by it."
It was but half an hour before dark that they unyoked the tired oxen.
Water or grass there was none; and, what was another misfortune, they
could not find sufficient wood of any kind to keep up the necessary
fires during the night. All they could collect before dark was but
enough for one fire, and they considered it better, therefore, that only
one should be lighted.
The wagons were drawn up so as to form a square, inside of which were
tied the horses; the sheep were driven underneath, and the oxen were
tied up outside. They feasted well themselves upon the delicate meat of
the springboks, but the poor animals had neither food nor water after
their hard day's journey.
As soon as they had supped they retired to their wagons, and the
Hottentots remained by the side of the fire, which was but frugally
supplied, that it might last till morning; but that there were lions
prowling in the vicinity was evident from the restlessness of the oxen,
who tried to break the leathern thongs with which they were fastened.
The moon had just risen, and showed an imperfect light, when they
perceived the bodies of some animals between them and the horizon. They
appeared very large, as they always do in an imperfect light, and the
Hottentots soon made out that they were five or six lions not forty
yards distant. The truth of this supposition was confirmed by an angry
roar from one of them, which induced most of the Hottentots to seize
their guns, and some to creep under the wagons.
The oxen now struggled furiously to escape, for the, roar of the lions
had spread consternation.
Our travelers heard it in their wagons, and were out with their guns in
a minute. At last one of the oxen broke loose, and, as it was running
behind its companions, as if seeking a more secure shelter, being not
more than three or four yards from them, another roar was followed by a
spring of one of the lions, which bore the animal to the earth.
The Major and Wilmot were advancing before the fire to the attack, when
the animal for a moment let go his prey, and was about to spring upon
them. Bremen called out for them to retreat, which they did, as the
animal advanced step by step toward them.
Satisfied with their retiring, the lion then went to his prey, and
dragged it to a distance of about fifty yards, where it commenced its
meal; and they distinctly heard, although they could not plainly
distinguish, the tearing of the animal's flesh and the breaking of its
bones by the lion, while its bellowings were most pitiful.
They all now fired in the direction where they heard the noise; the lion
replied to the volley by a tremendous roar, and rushed up within twenty
yards of the wagons, so as to be distinctly visible. Bremen begged our
travelers not to molest the animal, as it was evidently very hungry and
very angry, and would certainly make a spring upon them, which must be
attended with disastrous effects.
The other lions were also now moving round and round the camp; they
therefore reloaded their guns, and remained still, looking at the lion
tearing and devouring his prey.
"We must be quiet here," said Bremen to Alexander; "there are many lions
round us, and our fire is not sufficient to scare them away, and they
may attack us."
"Would it not be better to fire our guns,--that would frighten them?"
"Yes, sir, it would frighten the other lions, perhaps, but it would
enrage this one so near to us, and he would certainly make a charge. We
had better throw a little gunpowder upon some ashes now and then, as we
have but a small fire: the flash will drive them away for the time."
In the mean time the lion was making his meal upon the poor ox, and
when any other of the hungry lions approached him, he would rush at
them, and pursue them for some paces with a horrible growl, which made
not only the poor oxen, but the men also, to shudder as they heard it.
In this manner was the night passed away, every one with his gun in his
hand, expecting an immediate attack; but the morning at last dawned, to
the great relief of them all. The lions had disappeared, and they walked
out to where the old lion had made his meal, and found that he had
devoured nearly the whole of the ox; and such was the enormous strength
of his jaws, that the rib-bones were all demolished, and the bones of
the legs, which are known as the marrow-bones, were broken as if by a
"I really," observed the Major, "have more respect for a lion, the more
I become intimate with his feline majesty."
"Well, but he is off," observed Swinton, "and I think we had better be
The oxen were yoked, and the caravan proceeded at slow pace to gain the
wished-for river. As our travelers walked their horses--for the poor
animals had been without food or water for twenty-four hours, and all
idea of chasing the various herds of animals which were to be seen in
their path was abandoned for the present--Swinton remarked, "We are not
far from the track of the Mantatees, when they made their irruption upon
the Caffres about eighteen months back."
"I was intending to ask you for some information on that point, Swinton.
There has been more than one irruption into the country from the natives
to the northward. Mr. Fairburn gave me a very fair idea of the history
of the Cape colony, but we were both too much engaged after our arrival
in Cape Town for me to obtain further information."
"I will, you may be assured, tell you all I know," replied Swinton; "but
you must not expect to find in me a Mr. Fairburn. I may as well remark,
that Africa appears to be a country not able to afford support to a
dense population, like Europe; and the chief cause of this is the great
want of water, occasionally rendered more trying by droughts of four or
five years' continuance."
"I grant that such is the case at present," observed the Major; "but you
well know that it is not that there is not a sufficient quantity of
rain, which falls generally once a year, but because the water which
falls is carried off so quickly. Rivers become torrents, and in a few
weeks pour all their water into the sea, leaving, I may say, none for
the remainder of the year."
"That is true," replied Swinton.
"And so it will be until the population is not only dense, but, I may
add, sufficiently enlightened and industrious. Then, I presume, they
will take the same measures for securing a supply of water throughout
the year which have been so long adopted in India, and were formerly in
South America by the Mexicans. I mean that of digging large tanks, from
which the water can not escape, except by evaporation."
"I believe that it will be the only remedy."
"Not only the remedy, but more than a remedy; for tanks once
established, vegetation will flourish, and the vegetation will not only
husband the water in the country, but attract more."
"All that is very true," replied Swinton, "and I trust the time will
come, when not only this land may be well watered with the dew of
heaven, but that the rivers of grace may flow through it in every
direction, and the tree of Christ may flourish."
"Amen," replied Alexander.
"But to resume the thread of my discourse," continued Swinton; "I was
about to say, that the increase of population, and I may add the
increase of riches,--for in these nomadic tribes cattle are the only
riches,--is the great cause of these descents from the north; for the
continued droughts which I have mentioned of four or five years compel
them to seek for pasture elsewhere, after their own is burned up. At all
events, it appears that the Caffre nations have been continually
sustaining the pressure from without, both from the northward and the
southward, for many years.
"When the Dutch settled at the Cape, they took possession of the country
belonging to the Hottentot tribes, driving the few that chose to
preserve their independence into the Bushman and Namaqua lands,
increasing the population in those countries, which are only able to
afford subsistence to a very scattered few. Then, again, they encroached
upon the Caffres, driving them first beyond the great Fish River, and
afterward still more to the northward. The Bushman tribes of hill
Hottentots, if we may so term them, have also been increased by various
means, notwithstanding the constant massacres of these unhappy people by
the Dutch boors; moreover, we have by our injudicious colonial
regulations added another and a new race of people, who are already
considerable in their numbers."
"Which do you refer to?"
"To the people now known by the name of Griquas, from their having taken
possession of the Griqua country. They are the mixed race between the
Hottentots and the whites. By the Dutch colonial law, these people could