Part 4 out of 6
not hold possession of any land in the colony; and this act of injustice
and folly has deprived us of a very valuable race of men, who might have
added much to the prosperity of the colony. Brave and intelligent,
industrious to a great degree, they, finding themselves despised on
account of the Hottentot blood in their veins, have migrated from the
colony and settled beyond the boundaries. Being tolerably well provided
with fire-arms, those who are peaceably inclined can protect themselves,
while those who are otherwise commit great depredations upon the poor
savages, following the example shown them by the colonists, and sweeping
off their cattle and their property, in defiance of law and justice. You
now perceive, Alexander, how it is that there has been a pressure from
"That is very evident," replied the Major.
"Perhaps I had better proceed to the northward by degrees, and make some
mention of the Caffre tribes, which are those who have suffered from
being, as it were, pressed between encroachments from the north and the
south. The Caffre race is very numerous. The origin of the general term
Caffre, which means Infidel, and no more, is not known, any more than is
that of the term Hottentot."
"A proof of what we found out at school," observed the Major, "that
nicknames, as they are termed, stick longer than real ones."
"Precisely," replied Swinton; "our acquaintance is mostly with the more
southern Caffres, who occupy the land bordering on the east coast of
Africa, from the Cape boundary to Port Natal. These are the Amakosa
tribe, whose warriors have just left us; the Tambookies, whose territory
we have recently quitted, and to the northward of them by Port Natal,
the Hambonas. These are the Eastern Caffres.
"On the other side of the Mambookei chain of mountains, and in the
central portion of Africa, below the tropic, are the Bechuanas, who
inhabit an extent of country as yet imperfectly known to us. These may
be termed the Central Caffres.
"On the western side of the African coast, and above Namaqua Land, whose
inhabitants are probably chiefly of the Hottentot race, we have the
Damaras, who may be classed as the Western Caffres; with these we have
had little or no communication.
"All these tribes speak the Bechuana or Caffre language, with very
slight variations; they are all governed by chiefs or kings, and
subdivided into numerous bodies; but they are all Caffres. Of their
characters I have only to observe, that as far as we have experienced,
the Caffres of the eastern coast, which we have just left, are very
superior to the others in courage and in every other good quality. Now,
have I made myself intelligible, Alexander?"
"Most clearly so."
"I nevertheless wish we were sitting down in some safe place instead of
traveling on horseback over this withered tract, and that I had the map
before me to make you understand better."
"I will refer to the map as soon as I can," replied Alexander; "but I
have studied the map a great deal, and therefore do not so much require
All these Caffre tribes live much the same life; their wealth is in
cattle; they are partly husbandmen, partly herdsmen, and partly hunters;
and their continual conflicts with the wild beasts of the country
prepare them for warriors. The Eastern Caffres, from whom we have lately
parted, are the most populous; indeed, now that we have taken from them
so much of their country, they have scarcely pasturage for their cattle.
I have said that the Eastern Caffres' territory extends as far as the
latitude of Port Natal, but it formerly extended much further to the
northward, as it did to the southward, before we drove them from their
territory; indeed as far north as Delagoa Bay; all the country between
Port Natal and Delagoa Bay being formerly inhabited by tribes of
Caffres. I believe, Alexander, that Mr. Fairburn gave you a history of
the celebrated monarch Chaka, the king of the Zulus?"
"Yes, he did."
"Well, it was Chaka who overran that country I am now speaking of, and
drove out all the tribes who occupied it, as well as a large portion of
the Bechuana tribes who inhabited lands more to the northward. Now the
irruptions we have had into the Caffre and Bechuana country bordering
upon the colony have been wholly brought about by the devastations
committed by Chaka. Of course I refer to those irruptions which have
taken place since our knowledge and possession of the Cape. I have no
doubt that such irruptions have been continued, and that they have
occurred once in every century for ages. They have been brought about by
a population increasing beyond the means of subsistence, and have taken
place as soon as the overplus have required it.
"The migration of the springboks, which we witnessed yesterday, may be
more frequent, but are not more certain than those of the central
population of Africa. The Caffres themselves state that they formerly
came from the northward, and won their territory by conquest; and the
Hottentots have the same tradition as regards themselves.
"The invasion of the Mantatees, as they are called (and by the Eastern
Caffres Ficani), was nothing more than that of a people dispossessed of
their property, and driven from the territory by the Zoolus, under
Chaka; and, indeed, this last array under Quetoo, which has been
destroyed within this month, may be considered as invading from a
similar cause. Having separated from Chaka, Quetoo could find no
resting-place, and he therefore came to the southward with the intention
of wresting the territory from the Caffres, in which he has failed. Had
he not failed, and been cut off by the Caffres, he would have destroyed
them, and thus made room for his own people."
"Of course; for the end of all these invasions and migrations must be in
such a sacrifice of human life as to afford sustenance and the means of
subsistence to those who remain," observed the Major.
"Precisely; and such must continue to be the case on this continent,
until the arts and civilization have taught men how to increase the
means of subsistence. To produce this, Christianity must be introduced;
for Christianity and civilization go hand in hand."
"But the Mantatees or Ficani, who are they?"
"I have already said they were northern Caffre tribes, dispossessed of
their territory by Chaka. The names of the tribes we do not know.
Mantatee, in the Caffre language, signifies an invader, and Ficani also,
marauders; both terms applicable to the people, but certainly not the
names of the tribes.
"I believe, now, I have said enough on the subject to allow me to enter
upon the history of this last invasion; but, to tell the truth, the heat
is so overpowering, and I feel my tongue so parched, that you must
excuse me for deferring this account till another opportunity. As soon
as we are a little more at our ease, I will give you the history of the
"We are much obliged to you for what you have told us, Swinton, and
will spare you for the present," replied Alexander. "What animals are
"They are gnoos," replied Swinton. "There are two varieties of them, the
common gnoo and the brindled gnoo. They form an intermediate link
between the antelope family and the bovine or ox, and they are very good
"Then, I wish we were able to go after them. They do not seem to be
afraid of us, but approach nearer at every gallop which they make."
"Yes, although shy, they have a great deal of curiosity," replied
Swinton. "Watch them now."
The animals bounded away again, as Swinton spoke, and then returned to
gaze upon the caravan, stirring up the dust with their hoofs, tossing
their manes, and lashing their sides with their long tails, as they
curvetted and shook their heads, sometimes stamping as if in defiance,
and then flying away like the wind, as if from fear.
"They are safe this time," observed Major Henderson; "but another day we
will try their mettle."
"You will find them fierce and dangerous when wounded, sir," said
Bremen, who had ridden up. "We are not many miles from the river, for
the cattle begin to sniff."
"I am delighted to hear you say so; for then there must be water near.
But the haze and glare together are so great that we can not distinguish
above two miles, if so much."
"No, sir," replied the Hottentot; "but I can see well enough to see
_them_" continued he, pointing with his finger to a rising ground about
a hundred yards off, on the right of them. "One, two, three--there are
five of them."
"What are they?" said the Major, looking in the direction pointed out.
"I see; they are lions."
"Yes, sir; but we must take no notice of them, and they will not annoy
us. They are not hungry."
"You are right," said Swinton, "we must go right on, neither stopping
nor hastening our speed. Let the driver look to the oxen; for, tired as
they are, the smell of the lions is sufficient to give them
ungovernable strength for the moment."
"Well," said the Major, "bring us our guns, Bremen. I am willing to
accept the armed neutrality, if they will consent to it."
The caravan passed on; the lions remaining crouched where they were,
eying them, it is true, but not rising from their beds. The oxen,
however, either through fear of the lions, or the scent of water near,
became more brisk in their motions, and in half an hour they perceived a
line of trees before them, which told them that they were near the bed
of the Nu Gariep or Cradock River.
The poor animals redoubled their exertions, and soon arrived at the
banks. Bremen had ridden forward and reported that there still was water
in the river, but only in pools. As the herbage was destroyed on the
side where they were, they would have crossed the bed of the river
before they unyoked, but that they found impossible. The animals were so
impatient for the water, that, had they not been released, they would
have broken the wagons.
Horses, oxen and sheep all plunged into the pools together, and for some
minutes appeared as though they would never be satisfied. They at last
went out, but soon returned again, till their sides were distended with
the quantity of the element which they had imbibed.
An hour was allowed for the animals to rest and enjoy themselves, and
then they were again yoked to drag the wagons to the other side of the
river, where there was a sufficiency of pasturage and of wood to make up
As it was their intention to remain there for a day or two, the wagons
were drawn up at some distance from the river, so as not to interfere
with the path by which the wild animals went down to drink. The spoors
or tracks of the lions and buffaloes and other animals were so abundant,
as to show that this precaution was necessary.
As soon as the wagons were arranged in the usual manner, the cattle were
permitted to graze till the evening, when they were brought in and
secured, as usual, inside and round the wagons. They supped off the
remainder of the springbok, which was not very sweet; but the horses and
men were both too much exhausted with the fatiguing journey to hunt
until the following day.
That night they were not disturbed by lions, but the hyenas contrived to
crawl under the wagons, and, having severely bitten one of the oxen,
succeeded in carrying off one of the sheep. They had been so often
annoyed by these animals, that we have never mentioned them; but on the
following morning it was found that the ox had been so seriously injured
that the leg-bone was broken, and they were obliged to destroy the
"Were the courage of the hyena equal to his strength, it would be a most
formidable animal," observed Swinton; "but the fact is, it seldom or
never attacks mankind, although there may be twenty in a troop. At the
same time, among the Caffres they very often do enter the huts of the
natives, and occasionally devour children and infirm people. But this is
greatly owing to the encouragement they receive from the custom of the
Caffres leaving their dead to be devoured by these animals, which gives
them a liking for human flesh, and makes them more bold to obtain it."
"They must have a tremendous power in their jaw," observed Alexander.
"They have, and it is given them for all-wise purposes. The hyena and
the vulture are the scavengers of the tropical regions. The hyena
devours what the vulture leaves, which is the skin and bones of a dead
carcass. Its power of jaw is so great, that it breaks the largest bone
"Are there many varieties of them?"
"In Africa there are four:--The common spotted hyena, or wolf of the
colonists, whose smell is so offensive that dogs leave it with disgust
after it is killed; its own fellows will, however, devour it
immediately. The striped or ferocious hyena, called the shard-wolf, and
another which the colonists call the bay-wolf, and which I believe to be
the one known as the laughing hyena. There is another variety, which is
a sort of link between the hyena and the dog, called the venatica. It
hunts in packs, and the colonists term it the wild honde. It was first
classed by Burchell the traveler. This last is smaller, but much
fiercer, than the others."
"I know that there are leopards in the country, but we have never yet
fallen in with one. Are they dangerous?"
"The leopard shuns any conflict with man, but when driven to desperation
it becomes a formidable antagonist. I recollect very well two boors
having attacked a leopard, and the animal, being hotly pressed by them
and wounded, turned round and sprang upon the one nearest, pulling him
to the ground, biting his shoulder, and tearing him with his claws. The
other, seeing the danger of his comrade, sprang from his horse and
attempted to shoot the animal through the head. He missed, and the
leopard left the first man, sprang upon _him_, and, striking him on the
face, tore his scalp down over his eyes. The hunter grappled with the
animal, and at last they rolled together down a steep cliff. As soon as
the first hunter could reload his gun, he rushed after them to save his
friend, but it was too late. The animal had seized him by the throat,
and mangled him so dreadfully, that death was inevitable and all that
the man could do was to avenge his comrade's death by shooting the
"That proves the leopard is not to be trifled with."
"No animal is, when it stands at bay, or is driven to desperation; and,
in confirmation of this, I once witnessed one of these animals--the
quaggas--which, being pressed to the edge of a precipice by a mounted
hunter, seized the man's foot with its teeth, and actually tore it off,
so that, although medical aid was at hand, the man died from loss of
"One would hardly expect such a tragical issue to the chase of a wild
jackass," observed the Major.
"No; but 'in the midst of life we are in death,' and we never know from
whence the blow may come. Until it occurred, such an event was supposed
impossible, and the very idea would have created nothing but ridicule.
By the by, one of our good missionaries was very near losing his life by
a leopard. He went to save a Hottentot who had been seized, and was
attacked by the leopard which, as in the former instance, left his
first antagonist to meet his second. Fortunately, Mr. S. was a very
powerful man, and assistance was sooner given him than in the former
instance. Neither he nor the Hottentot, however, escaped without severe
wounds, which confined them for many weeks."
"Is there more than one variety of leopard, Swinton?"
"Yes, there is the common leopard and the hunting leopard; besides, I
think, two or three smaller varieties, as the tiger-cat and wild cat.
What do you propose doing to-day? Do you stay here, or advance, Wilmot?"
"Why, the Major wishes to have a shot at the gnoos; he has never killed
one yet; and as I am of his opinion, that a day's rest will recover the
oxen, and we are in no hurry, I think we may as well stop and provision
our camp for a few days."
"With all my heart. I am sorry that the hyena has added to our store, by
obliging us to kill the poor ox; however, it can not be helped. There is
a large body of gnoos and quaggas under that small hill to the westward;
but there are better animals for the table when we get a little further
to the northward."
"Which are those?"
"The eland, the largest of the antelope species, and sometimes weighing
more than a thousand pounds; moreover, they are very fat, and very easy
to run down. They are excellent eating. When I was in the Namaquas'
land, we preferred them to any other food; but I see another variety of
game on the plain there."
Omrah pointed them out. "They are either Bushmen (tame Bushmen, as they
are called, in contradistinction to the others), or else Korannas; most
probably the latter. They are coming right towards us; but Mahomed says
breakfast is ready."
By the time that breakfast was finished, a party of twelve Korannas had
joined the caravan. They made signs that they were hungry, pointing to
the straps which confined their stomachs. The interpreter told them that
they were about to hunt, and that they should have some of the game, at
which they were much pleased.
"Do you know what those straps are called, round their waists, Wilmot?"
said Swinton. "They are called the belts of famine. All the natives wear
them when hard pressed by hunger, and they say that they are a great
relief. I have no doubt but such is the fact."
"Well," said the Major, "I hope soon to enable the poor fellows to
loosen their belts, and fill their stomachs till they are as tight as a
drum. Saddle the horses, Bremen. Omrah, you ride my spare horse and
carry my spare rifle."
Omrah, who now understood English, although he spoke but few words, gave
a nod of the head and went off to the wagon for the Major's rifle.
As soon as the horses were ready, our travelers set out in chase of the
gnoos and quaggas, which were collected to the westward of the caravan.
Bremen, Swanevelt, and Omrah were mounted, and ten of the Hottentots
followed with their guns, and the Korannas on foot; among the others,
Big Adam, who had been explaining to those who had never seen the gnoos
the manner in which he used to kill them.
The herd permitted them to approach within two hundred yards of them,
and then, after curvetting and prancing, and galloping in small circles,
they stood still at about the same distance, looking, with curiosity and
anger mixed, at the horsemen. After a time, they took to their heels and
scoured the plain for about two miles, when they again stopped, tossing
their heads and manes, and stamping as if in defiance.
The mounted party remained quiet till those on foot had again drawn
near, and the Hottentots, firing their guns, drove the herd within shot
of our travelers' guns, and three of the gnoos fell, while the others
bounded off to a greater distance; but as they neared the caravan, they
again started back, and were again closed in by the whole party.
The Hottentots now advanced cautiously, creeping as near as they could
to the animals, whose attention was directed to the horsemen. The
Hottentots were nearly within range, when Omrah, who was mounted on the
Major's spare horse, fastened to the ramrod of the Major's rifle a red
bandanna handkerchief, which he usually wore round his head, and
separating quickly from the rest of the horsemen, walked his horse to
where Big Adam was creeping along to gain a shot, and stationed himself
behind him, waving the red handkerchief at the animals. Omrah was well
aware that a gnoo is as much irritated at a red handkerchief as a bull,
and as soon as he commenced waving it, one of the largest males stepped
out in that direction, pawing the ground and preparing for a charge.
Big Adam, who had no idea that Omrah was so occupied behind him, now
rose to have a shot, and just as he rose the gnoo made his charge, and
Big Adam, being between the gnoo and the horse which Omrah rode, was of
course the party against whom the animal's choler was raised.
Omrah, as soon as the animal charged, had wheeled round and galloped
away, while in the meantime Big Adam, perceiving the animal rushing at
him, lost all presence of mind, his gun went off without effect, and he
turned tail; the horns of the gnoo were close upon him, when of a
sudden, to the surprise of those who were looking on, Big Adam
disappeared, and the gnoo passed over where he had been.
"Why, what has become of him?" said Alexander, laughing.
"I don't know, but I think he has had a wonderful escape," replied the
Major: "he has disappeared like a ghost through a trap-door."
"But I see his heels," cried Swinton, laughing; "he has fallen into an
ant-eater's hole, depend upon it; that mischievous little urchin might
have caused his death."
"It was only to make him prove his steady aim which he was boasting so
much about," replied the Major; "but stop a moment; I will bring down
that gallant little animal, and then we will look for big Adam."
But before the Major could get near enough to the gnoo, which was still
tearing up the ground and looking for his adversary, Omrah, who had put
by the handkerchief, advanced with the Major's rifle, and brought the
animal down. A volley was at the same time discharged at the herd by the
Hottentots, and three more fell, after which the remainder scampered
away, and were soon out of sight.
They then rode up to where Big Adam had disappeared, and found him, as
Swinton had supposed, in a deep ant-eater's hole, head downward, and
bellowing for help. His feet were just above the surface, and that was
all; the Hottentots helped him out, and Big Adam threw himself on his
back, and seemed exhausted with fright and having been so long in a
reversed position, and was more vexed at the laugh which was raised
The gnoos were soon cut up, and when the Hottentots had taken away as
much as they required, the rest of the carcasses were made over to the
hungry Korannas. Swinton shook his head at Omrah, who pretended that he
did not understand why, until the laughter of Alexander and the Major
was joined in by Swinton himself.
As they had pretty well fatigued their horses in the chase, they
resolved to return to the caravan, and keep them as fresh as they could
for future service. They dined and supped on the flesh of the gnoos,
which was approved of, and after supper Alexander said--"And now,
Swinton, if you feel inclined, the Major and I will be very glad to hear
your history of the Mantatees."
"With pleasure," replied Swinton. "The assemblage of tribes known as the
Mantatees or Invaders, according to the best authorities we can collect,
inhabited the countries to the westward of the Zoolu territory, in the
same latitude, which is that of Delagoa Bay. As all these tribes subsist
almost entirely upon the flesh and the milk of their cattle, if deprived
of them, they are driven to desperation, and must either become robbers
in their turn, or perish by hunger. Such was the case of the Mantatees.
Unable to withstand the attacks of the Zoolus, they were driven from
their country, and joined their forces with others who had shared the
"Such was the origin of the Mantatees, who, although they had not
courage to withstand the attacks of the Zoolus, were stimulated by
desperation and famine to a most extraordinary courage in the attacks
which they made upon others.
"Forming an immense body, now that they were collected together,
accompanied by their wives and children, and unable to procure the
necessary subsistence, it is certain that their habits were so far
changed that they at last became cannibals, and were driven to prey upon
the dead bodies of their enemies, or the flesh of their comrades who
fell in the combats.
"The Bechuana tribes, who are the Caffres of the interior, were the
first assailed, their towns sacked and burned, and their cattle seized
and devoured. They proceeded on to the Wankeets, one of the Damara
tribes, who inhabit the western coast to the northward of the Namaqua
Land; but the Wankeets were a brave people, and prepared for them, and
the Mantatees were driven back with great slaughter. Astounded at their
defeat, they turned to the southward, and invaded the Bechuana country.
"At that time our missionaries had established themselves at Koranna,
and when the report of the Mantatees advancing was brought to them, the
Bechuanas were in a great consternation; for although finer-looking men
than the eastern Caffres, they are not by any means so brave and
"As the advance of these people would have been the ruin of the mission,
as well as the destruction of the tribe, who were afraid to encounter
them, Mr. M., the missionary, determined upon sending for the assistance
of the Griquas, the people whom I have before mentioned, and who had not
only horses, but were well armed. The Griquas came under their chief,
Waterboer, and marched against the enemy, accompanied by a large army
of Bechuanas, who, encouraged by the presence of the Griquas, now went
forth to the combat.
"The Mantatees had at that time advanced as far, and had taken
possession of, Litakoo, a Bechuana town, containing 16,000 inhabitants;
and I will now give, as nearly as I can recollect it, the account of Mr.
M., the missionary at Kuruman, who accompanied the Griquas to propose
and effect, if it were possible, an amicable arrangement with the
"He told me that as they proceeded with a small party, ahead of the
Griqua force, to effect their purpose, they passed by numbers of the
enemy, who had advanced to the pools to drink, and had there sunk down
and expired from famine. As they neared the mass of the enemy, they
found that all the cattle which they had captured were inclosed in the
center of a vast multitude. They attempted a parley, but the enemy
started forward, and hurled their spears with the most savage fury, and
they were compelled to retreat, finding no hopes of obtaining a parley.
"The next day it was decided that the Griquas should advance. They
numbered about one hundred well-mounted and well-armed men. The enemy
flew at them with terrible howls, hurling their javelins and clubs;
their black dismal appearance, their savage fury, and their hoarse loud
voices producing a strange effect. The Griquas, to prevent their being
surrounded, very wisely retreated.
"It was at last decided that the Griquas should fire, and it was hoped
that as the Mantatees had never seen the effects of fire-arms they would
be humbled and alarmed, and thus further bloodshed might be prevented.
Many of the Mantatees fell; but, although the survivors looked with
astonishment upon the dead and their wounded warriors writhing in the
dust, they flew with lion-like vengeance at the horsemen, wrenching the
weapons from the hands of their dying companions, to replace those which
they had already discharged at their antagonists.
"As those who thus stepped out from the main body to attack the Griquas
were the chiefs of the Mantatees, and many of them were killed, their
deaths, one after the other, disheartened the whole body.
"After the Griquas had commenced the attack, the Bechuana army came up
and assisted with their poisoned arrows, with which they plied the
enemy; but a small body of the fierce Mantatees, sallying out, put the
whole of the Bechuanas to flight.
"After a combat of two hours and a half, the Griquas, finding their
ammunition failing, determined, at great risk, to charge the whole body.
They did so, and the Mantatees gave way, and fled in a westerly
direction; but they were intercepted by the Griquas, and another charge
being made, the whole was pell-mell and confusion.
"Mr. M. says that the scene which now presented itself was most awful,
and the state of suspense most cruel. The undulating country around was
covered with warriors--Griquas, Mantatees, and Bechuanas, all in
motion--so that it was impossible to say who were enemies and who were
friends. Clouds of dust rose from the immense masses, some flying,
others pursuing; and to their screams and yells were added the bellowing
of the oxen, the shouts of the yet unvanquished warriors, the groans of
the dying, and the wails of women and of children. At last the enemy
retreated to the town, which they set in flames, to add to the horror of
"Then another desperate struggle ensued, the Mantatees attempted to
inclose the Griquas in the burning town; but not succeeding, they fled
precipitately. Strange to say, the Mantatee forces were divided into two
parts, and during the time that the Griquas engaged the one, the other
remained in the town, having such confidence in the former that they did
not come to their assistance.
"When the town was set on fire, both armies united, and retreated
together to the northward, in a body of not less than 40,000 warriors.
As soon as the Mantatees retreated, the Bechuanas commenced the work of
slaughter. Women and children were butchered without mercy; but as for
the wounded Mantatees, it appeared as if nothing would make them yield.
There were many instances of an individual being surrounded by fifty
Bechuanas, but as long as life remained he fought.
"Mr. M. says that he saw more than one instance of a Mantatee fighting
wildly against numbers, with ten or twelve arrows and spears pierced in
his body. Struggling with death, the men would rally, raise themselves
from the ground, discharge their weapons, and fall dead, their
revengeful and hostile spirit only ceasing when life was extinct."
"And yet these same people permitted their own country to be taken from
them by the Zoolus."
"Yes, it was so; but want and necessity had turned them into desperate
"I wonder they never thought of going back and recovering their own
country. They would have been a match for the Zoolus. Is that the end of
their history, Swinton?"
"No, not quite. But perhaps you are tired?"
"Oh, no. Pray go on."
"The Mantatees, although defeated by the Griquas, soon recovered their
courage, and intelligence came that they were about to make a descent
upon Kuruman, where the missionaries had their station. The Mantatees,
having been informed that the Griquas had gone home, now determined to
revenge themselves upon the Bechuanas, whom they considered but as the
dust under their feet.
"On this information, Mr. M. wrote to Waterboer, who commanded the
Griquas, requesting his immediate return; but Waterboer replied that an
immense body of Mantatees were coming down upon the Griquas by the Val
or Yellow River, and that they were forced to remain, to defend their
own property, advising Mr. M. to retreat with his family to the Griqua
town, and put themselves under their protection.
"As they could no longer remain, the mission station was abandoned, and
the missionaries, with their wives and families, retreated to Griqua
town. They had not, however, been long at Griqua town before news
arrived that both the bodies of Mantatees had altered their routes.
One portion of them went eastward, toward the country from which they
had been driven by the Zoolus, and another, it appears, took possession
of the country near the sources of the Orange River, where for many
years they carried on a predatory warfare with the tribes in that
district. At last a portion of them were incorporated, and settled down
on that part which is now known as the Mantatee new country; the
remainder made an irruption into the eastern Caffre country, where they
were known as the Ficani."
"And what became of them?"
"They defeated one or two of the Caffre chiefs, and the Caffres implored
the assistance of the English colonists, which was granted, and a large
armed force was sent out against the invaders. They were found
located--for they had built a town--near the sources of the Umtata
River. The Caffres joined with all their forces, and the Ficani were
surprised. A horrid slaughter took place; muskets, artillery and
Congreve rockets were poured upon the unfortunate wretches, who were
hemmed in on all sides by the Caffres, and the unfortunate Ficani may be
said to have been exterminated, for the Caffres spared neither man,
woman nor child. Such is the history of the Mantatees; their destruction
was horrible, but perhaps unavoidable."
"Very true," observed Alexander; "I can not help thinking that
desolating contests like these are permitted by a controlling Providence
as chastisements, yet with a gracious end; for, surely it was better
that they should meet with immediate death, than linger till famine put
an end to their misery. This is certain, that they must have been
destroyed, or others destroyed to make room for them. In either case a
great sacrifice of life was to be incurred. War, dreadful as it is in
detail, appears to be one of the necessary evils of human existence, and
a means by which we do not increase so rapidly as to devour each other.
"I don't know whether you have made the observation, but it appears to
me the plague and cholera are almost necessary in the countries where
they break out; and it is very remarkable that the latter disease never
made its appearance in Europe (at least not for centuries, I may say)
until after peace had been established, and the increase of population
was so rapid.
"During the many years that Europe was devastated and the population
thinned by war, we had no cholera, and but little of one or two other
epidemics which have since been very fatal. What I mean to infer is,
that the hand of Providence may be seen in all this. Thus sanguinary
wars and the desolating ravages of disease, which are in themselves
afflictive visitations, and probably chastisements for national sins,
may nevertheless have the effect, in some cases, of preventing the
miseries which result from an undue increase of population."
"You may be quite right, Alexander," observed Swinton; "the ways of
Heaven are inscrutably mysterious, and when we offer up prayers for the
removal of what may appear to be a heavy calamity, we may be deprecating
that which in the end may prove a mercy."
"One thing I could not help remarking in your narrative, Swinton,"
observed the Major, "which is the position of the missionaries during
this scene of terror. You passed it slightly over, but it must have been
"Most surely it was."
"And yet I have not only read but heard much said against them, and
strong opposition made to subscriptions for their support."
"I grant it, but it is because people know that a great deal of money
has been subscribed, and do not know the uses to which it is applied.
They hear reports read, and find perhaps that the light of the Gospel
has but as yet glimmered in one place or another; that in other places
all labor has hitherto been thrown away. They forget that it is the
grain of mustard-seed which is to become a great tree, and spread its
branches; they wish for immoderate returns, and are therefore
disappointed. Of course I can not give an opinion as to the manner in
which the missions are conducted in other countries; but as I have
visited most of the missions in these parts, I can honestly assert, and
I think you have already yourself seen enough to agree with me, that the
money intrusted to the societies is not thrown away or lavishly
expended; the missionaries labor with their own hands, and almost
provide for their own support."
"There I agree with you, Swinton," replied Alexander; "but what are the
objections raised against them? for now that I have seen them with my
own eyes, I can not imagine what they can be."
"The objections which I have heard, and have so often attempted to
refute, are, that the generality of missionaries are a fanatical class
of men, who are more anxious to inculcate the peculiar tenets of their
own sects and denominations than the religion of our Saviour; that most
of them are uneducated and vulgar men--many of them very intemperate and
very injudicious--some few of them of bad moral character; and that
their exertions, if they have used them--whether to civilize or to
Christianize the people among whom they are sent--have not been followed
by any commensurate results."
"And now let us have your replies to these many objections."
"It is no doubt true that the missionaries who are laboring among the
savages of the interior are, many, if not most of them, people of
limited education. Indeed, the major portion of them have been brought
up as mechanics. But I much question whether men of higher attainments
and more cultivated minds would be better adapted to meet the capacities
of unintellectual barbarians. A highly-educated man may be appreciated
among those who are educated themselves; but how can he be appreciated
by the savage? On the contrary, the savage looks with much more respect
upon a man who can forge iron, repair his weapons, and excite his
astonishment by his cunning workmanship; for then the savage perceives
and acknowledges his superiority, which in the man of intellect he would
"Besides, admitting that it would be preferable to employ persons of
higher mental attainments, where are they to be found? Could you expect,
when so many laborers are required in the vineyard, a sufficient number
of volunteers among the young men brought up at the universities? Would
they be able to submit to those privations, and incur those hardships,
to which the African missionaries are exposed? Would they be able to
work hard and labor for their daily bread, or be willing to encounter
such toil and such danger as must be encountered by those who are sent
here? I fear not. And allow me here to remark, that at the first
preaching of Christianity it was not talented and educated men who were
selected by our Saviour; out of the twelve, the Apostle Paul was the
only one who had such claims.
"If we had beheld the Galilean fishermen mending their nets, should we
have ever imagined that those humble laborers were to be the people who
should afterward regenerate the world?--should overthrow the idolatries
and crumble the superstitions of ancient empires and kingdoms?--and that
what they--uneducated, but, we admit, divinely inspired and
supported--had taught should be joyfully received, as it is now, we may
say, from the rising to the setting of the sun, to the utmost boundaries
of the earth?"
"Most truly and most admirably argued, Swinton," replied Alexander. "The
Almighty, as if to prove how insignificant in his sight is all human
power, has often made use of the meanest instruments to accomplish the
greatest ends. Who knows but that even our keeping holy the Sabbath-day
in the desert may be productive of some good, and be the humble means of
advancing the Divine cause? We must ever bear in mind the counsel, 'In
the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for
thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether
they both shall be alike good.'"
"Surely so," replied Swinton; "the natives consider us as a superior
race; they see our worship, and they are led to think that must be right
which they perceive is done by those to whom they look up as their
superiors. It may induce them to inquire and to receive
information--eventually to be enrolled among the followers of our
Saviour. It is, however, not to be denied that in some few instances
persons have been chosen for the office of missionaries who have proved
themselves unworthy; but that must and will ever be the case where
human agents are employed. But it argues no more against the general
respectability and utility of the missionaries as a body, than the
admission of the traitor Judas among the apostles. To the efficacy of
their works, and their zeal in the cause, I myself, having visited the
station, have no hesitation in bearing testimony. Indeed I can not but
admire the exemplary fortitude, the wonderful patience and perseverance,
which the missionaries have displayed.
"These devoted men are to be found in the remotest deserts, accompanying
the wild and wandering savages from place to place, suffering from
hunger and from thirst, destitute of almost every comfort, and at times
without even the necessaries of life. Some of them have without
murmuring spent their whole lives in such service; and yet their zeal is
set down as fanaticism by those who remain at home, and assert that the
money raised for their equipment is thrown away. Happily, they have not
looked for their reward in this world, but have built their hopes upon
that which is to come."
"That the people who joined the Mission stations have become more
civilized, and that they are very superior to their countrymen, is
certain," observed the Major; "but have you seen any proof of
Christianity having produced any remarkably good effect among the
natives?--I mean one that might be brought forward as convincing
evidence to those who have shown themselves inimical or lukewarm in the
"Yes," replied Swinton, "the history of Africaner is one; and there are
others, although not so prominent as that of the party to whom I refer."
"Well, Swinton, you must now be again taxed. You must give us the
history of Africaner."
"That I will, with pleasure, that you may be able to narrate it, when
required, in support of the missions. Africaner was a chief, and a
descendant of chiefs of the Hottentot nation, who once pastured their
own flocks and herds on their own native hills, within a hundred miles
of Cape Town. As the Dutch colonists at the Cape increased, so did they,
as Mr. Fairburn has stated to Alexander, dispossess the Hottentots of
their lands, and the Hottentots, unable to oppose their invaders,
gradually found themselves more and more remote from the possessions of
"After a time, Africaner and his diminished clan found themselves
compelled to join and take service under a Dutch boor, and for some time
proved himself a most faithful shepherd in looking after and securing
the herds of his employer. Had the Dutch boor behaved with common
humanity, not to say gratitude, toward those who served him so well, he
might now have been alive; but, like all the rest of his countrymen, he
considered the Hottentots as mere beasts of burden, and at any momentary
anger they were murdered and hunted down as if they were wild animals.
"Africaner saw his clan daily diminished by the barbarity of his feudal
master, and at last resolved upon no further submission. As the Bushmen
were continually making attempts upon the cattle of the boor, Africaner
and his people had not only been well trained to fire-arms, but had them
constantly in their possession. His assumed master, having an idea that
there would be a revolt, resolved upon sending a portion of Africaner's
people to a distant spot, where he intended to secure them, and by their
destruction weaken the power of the clan.
"This, as he was a sort of magistrate, he had the power to enforce; but
Africaner, suspecting his views, resolved to defeat them. Order after
order was sent to the huts of Africaner and his people. They positively
refused to comply. They requested to be paid for their long services,
and be permitted to retire further into the interior. This was sternly
denied, and they were ordered to appear at the house of the boor.
Fearful of violence, yet accustomed to obey his order, Africaner and his
brothers went up; but one of his brothers concealed his gun under his
cloak. On their arrival, the boor came out and felled Africaner to the
ground. His brother immediately shot the boor with his gun, and thus did
the miscreant meet with the just reward of his villainies and murder.
"The wife, who had witnessed the murder of her husband, shrieked and
implored mercy; they told her that she need not be alarmed, but
requested that the guns and ammunition in the house should be delivered
up to them, which was immediately done. Africaner then hastened back to
his people, collected them and all his cattle, with what effects they
could take with them, and directed his course to the Orange River.
"He was soon out of the reach of his pursuers, for it required time in
so scattered a district to collect a sufficient force. Africaner fixed
his abode upon the banks of the Orange River, and afterward a chief
ceding to him his dominion in Great Namaqua land, the territory became
his by right as well as by conquest. I think I had better leave off now;
it is getting late, and we must to bed, if we are to start early
"We will have mercy upon you, Swinton, and defer our impatience," said
the Major. "Good-night to you, and may you not have a lion's serenade."
"No, I hope not; their music is too loud to be agreeable;--good-night."
Having filled their water-kegs, the next morning at day-light they yoked
the oxen and left the banks of the Cradock or Black River, to proceed
more to the northward, through the Bushmen's country; but as they were
aware that there was no water to be procured, if they quitted the stream
altogether, till they arrived at the Val or Yellow River, they decided
upon following the course of the Black River to the westward for some
time, before they struck off for the Val or Yellow River, near to which
they expected to fall in with plenty of game, and particularly the
giraffe and rhinoceros.
Although at that season of the year the river was nearly dry, still
there was a scanty herbage on and near its bank, intermixed with beds of
rushes and high reeds; this was sufficient for the pasture of the
cattle, but it was infested with lions and other animals, which at the
dry season of the year kept near the river-bank for a supply of water.
By noon they had proceeded about fifteen miles to the westward, and as
they advanced they found that the supply of water in the river was more
abundant; they then unyoked the cattle to allow them to feed till the
evening, for it was too dangerous to turn them loose at night. As they
were in no hurry, they resolved that they would only travel for the
future from daylight till noon; the afternoon and evening were to be
spent in hunting, and at night they were to halt the caravan and secure
every thing as before, by inclosing the horses and sheep, and tying up
By this arrangement the cattle would not be exhausted with their labor,
and they would have time to follow the object of their journey--that of
hunting the wild animals with which the country abounded, and also of
procuring a constant supply of food for themselves and their attendants.
Having now traveled as far as they wished, they stopped at the foot of a
rising ground, about a quarter of a mile from the river's bank, and
which was on the outskirts of a large clump of mimosa and other trees.
As soon as the cattle were unyoked and had gone down to the river to
drink, our travelers ordered their horses to be saddled, and as the
banks of the river on that side were low, they rode up to the rising
ground to view the country beyond, and to ascertain what game might be
When they arrived at the summit, and were threading their way through
the trees, Omrah pointed to a broken branch, and said, "Elephant here
not long ago."
Bremen said that Omrah was right, and that the animals could not have
left more than a week, and that probably they had followed the course of
the stream. The print of another foot was observed by Omrah, and he
pointed it out; but not knowing the name to give the animal in English
or Dutch, he imitated its motions.
"Does he mean a gnoo?" said Alexander.
Omrah shook his head, and, raising his hands up, motioned that the
animal was twice as big.
"Come here, Bremen; what print of a hoof is this?" said Swinton.
"Buffalo, sir,--fresh print--was here last night."
"That's an animal that I am anxious to slay," said the Major.
"You must be very careful that he does not slay _you_," replied Swinton;
"for it is a most dangerous beast, almost as much so as a lion."
"Well, we must not return without one, at all events," said Alexander;
"nor without a lion also, as soon as we can find one alone; but those we
have seen in the daytime have always been in threes and fours, and I
think the odds too great with our party; but the first single lion we
fall in with, I vote we try for his skin."
"Agreed," replied the Major; "what do you say, Swinton?"
"Why, I say agreed also; but as I came here to look for other things
rather than lions, I should say, as far as I am concerned, that the best
part of valor would be discretion. However, depend upon it, if you go
after a lion I shall be with you: I have often been at the destruction
of them when with Dutch boors; but then recollect we have no horses to
spare, and therefore we must not exactly follow their method."
"How do they hunt the lions, then?" inquired Alexander.
"They hunt them more for self-defense than for pleasure," replied
Swinton; "but on the outskirts of the colony the lions are so
destructive to the herds, that the colonists must destroy them. They
generally go out, ten or twelve of them, with their long guns, not fewer
if possible; and you must recollect that these boors are not only very
cool, brave men, but most excellent shots. I fear you will not find that
number among our present party, as, with the exception of our three
selves and Breman and Swanevelt, I do not believe that there is one man
here who would face a lion; so that when we do attack one, it will be at
"The Dutch boors, as soon as they have ascertained where the lion lies,
approach the bushes to within a moderate distance, and then alighting,
they make all their horses fast together with their bridles and
halters. In this there is danger, as sometimes the lion will spring out
upon them at once, and, if so, probably not only horses but men are
sacrificed. If the lion remains quiet, which is usually the case, they
advance toward him within thirty paces or thereabouts, as they know that
he generally makes a spring at half that distance; but as they advance,
they back their horses toward him, as a shield in front of them, knowing
that the lion will spring upon the horses.
"As they move forward, the lion at first looks at them very calmly, and
very often wags his tail as if in a playful humor; but when they
approach nearer, he growls, as if to warn them off. Then, as they
continue to approach, he gradually draws up his hind legs under his
body, ready for a spring at them as soon as they are within distance,
and you see nothing of him except his bristling mane and his eyes
glaring like fire; for he is then fully enraged, and in the act of
springing the next moment.
"This is the critical moment, and the signal is given for half the party
to fire. If they are not successful in laying him dead on the spot with
this first volley, he springs like a thunderbolt upon the horses. The
remainder of the party then fire, and seldom fail to put an end to him;
but generally one or more of the horses are either killed or so wounded
as to be destroyed in consequence; and sometimes, although rarely, one
or more of the hunters share the same fate. So you observe that, with
every advantage, it is a service of danger, and therefore should not be
undertaken without due precaution."
"Very true, Swinton; but it will never do to return to the Cape without
having killed a lion."
"As you please; but even that would be better than being killed yourself
by a lion, and not returning at all. However, my opinion is that you
will have to kill a lion before you have traveled much further, without
going in quest of him. There are hundreds of them here; as many as there
are in Namaqua-land."
"Look, master!" said Bremen, pointing to seven or eight splendid
antelopes about a mile distant.
"I see," replied the Major. "What are they?"
"Gemsbok," said Swinton. "Now I will thank you for a specimen of that
beautiful creature, if you can get it for me. We must dismount, leave
our horses here, and crawl along from tree to tree, and bush to bush,
till we get within shot."
"They are, indeed, noble animals. Look at that large male, which appears
to be the leader and master of the herd. What splendid horns!" cried
"Give the horses to Omrah and Swanevelt. Bremen shall go with us. Hist;
not a word; they are looking in this direction." said the Major.
"Recollect to try for the large male. I want him most particularly,"
"Master," said Bremen, "We must creep till we get those bushes between
us and the game. Then we can crawl through the bushes and get a good
"Yes, that will be the best plan," said Swinton. "As softly as we can,
for they are very shy animals."
They followed one another for two or three hundred yards, creeping from
one covert to another, till they had placed the bushes on the plain
between them and the herd. They then stopped a little and reconnoitered.
The herd of antelopes had left off feeding, and now had all their heads
turned toward the bushes, and in the direction where they were
concealed; the large male rather in advance of the others, with his long
horns pointing forward, and his nose close to the ground. Our party kept
silence for some time, watching the animals; but none of them moved much
from their positions; and as for the male, he remained as if he were a
"They must have scented us," whispered Alexander.
"No, sir," said Bremen; "the wind blows from them to us. I can't think
what they are about. But perhaps they may have seen us."
"At all events, we shall gain nothing by remaining here; we shall be
more concealed as we descend and approach them," observed the Major.
"That is true; so come along. Creep like mice," said Swinton.
They did so, and at last arrived at the patch of brushwood which was
between them and the antelopes, and were now peeping and creeping to
find out an opening to fire through, when they heard a rustling within.
Bremen touched the sleeve of the Major and beckoned a retreat, and
motioned to the others; but before they could decide, as they did not
know why the Hottentot proposed it, for he did not speak himself, and
put his hand to his mouth as a hint to them to be silent, a roar like
thunder came from the bushes, within three yards of them, accompanied
with a rushing noise which could not be mistaken. It was the roar and
spring of the lion; and they looked round amazed and stunned, to
ascertain who was the victim.
"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Alexander, "and no one hurt!"
"No, master; lion spring at antelope. Now we shall find him on other
side of the bush, and kill him easy, when his eyes are shut."
Bremen led the way round the copse, followed by our travelers; they soon
arrived on the other side of it, with their guns all ready; but on their
arrival, to their astonishment they perceived the lion and the male
gemsbok lying together. The antelope was dead, but the lion still alive;
though the horns of the gemsbok had passed through his body. At the
sight of the hunters, the lion, pierced through as he was, raised his
head with a loud roar, and struck out with his paw, as he twisted toward
them, his eyes glowing like hot coals, and showing his tremendous fangs.
Alexander was the first who fired, and the ball penetrating the brain of
the noble animal, it fell down dead upon the body of the antelope.
"This is the finest sight I ever witnessed," observed Swinton. "I have
heard that the gemsboks' horns are sometimes fatal to the lion, but I
could hardly credit it. They have passed nearly through his body; the
points are under the skin."
"Now we know, master, why gemsbok have his nose to the ground and his
horn pointed," said Bremen; "he saw the lion, and fought him to save his
"I am quite stunned yet," observed Alexander. "What a noble animal it
is! Well, at all events I can say that I have shot a lion, which is
more than you can, Major."
"I only wish that when I shoot one I may have no more danger to incur,"
replied the Major. "What a different idea does one have of a lion in a
menagerie and one in its free and native state. Why, the menagerie lions
can't roar at all; they are nothing but overgrown cats, compared to the
lion of the desert."
"That is very true," observed Swinton; "however, I am delighted, for now
I have not only my gemsbok, which is a gem above price, but also as fine
a lion as I have ever seen. I should like to have them stuffed and set
up just as they were before Alexander killed them. His rage and agony
combined were most magnificent. After all, the lion is the king of the
beasts. Bremen, send Swanevelt to the caravan for some of the men. I
must have both skin and skeleton of the antelope, and the skin of the
Our travelers were quite satisfied with the sport of the day, and after
waiting for some time, while the Hottentots disentangled the animals and
took off the skins, they returned to the caravan, Omrah having secured a
portion of the flesh of the gemsbok for their supper.
As they were returning, they observed a herd of buffaloes at a great
distance, and proposed to themselves the hunting of them after they had
halted on the following day, if the animals were at any reasonable
distance from them. At supper the flesh of the antelope was pronounced
better than that of the gnoo; and after supper, as soon as the cattle
had been all secured, and the fires lighted, Alexander proposed that
Swinton should finish his history of Africaner.
"If I remember right, I left off where Africaner and his people had
escaped to Namaqua-land, where he became a chief. Attempts were made to
take him prisoner and bring him to the colony, but without success.
Expedition after expedition failed, and Africaner dared them to approach
his territories. At last, the colonists had recourse to the Griquas, and
offered them a large reward if they would bring Africaner in.
"The Griquas, commanded by a celebrated chief of the name of Berend,
made several attempts, and in consequence a cruel war was carried on
between Berend and Africaner, in which neither party gained the
advantage. Africaner, discovering that the colonists had bribed Berend
to make war against him, now turned his wrath against them. A Dutch boor
fell a victim to his fury, and he carried off large quantities of their
cattle, and eventually Africaner became the terror of the colony. The
natives also who resided in Namaqua-land commenced depredations upon
Africaner, but he repaid them with such interest that at last every
tribe fled at his approach, and his name carried dismay into their
solitary wastes. The courage and intrepidity shown by Africaner and his
brothers in their various combats were most remarkable; but to narrate
all his adventures would occupy too much time. It is certain that he not
only became dreaded, but in consequence of his forbearance on several
occasions he was respected.
"It was in 1810 that the missionaries came into the Namaqua-land, and it
unfortunately happened that a dispute arose about some of Africaner's
property which was seized, and at the same time Africaner lost some
cattle. The parties who were at variance with Africaner lived near to
the Mission station, and very unwisely the people at the Mission station
were permitted to go to their assistance.
"This roused the anger of Africaner, who vowed vengeance on the Mission
and the people collected around it or connected with it. As Africaner
had commenced his attacks upon the Namaquas, and was advancing toward
the mission, the missionaries were compelled to abandon the station and
return to the colony. The Mission station was soon afterward taken
possession of by Africaner, and the houses burned to the ground.
"A curious circumstance occurred during this affair: his followers were
seeking everywhere for plunder, when some of them entered the burial
ground, and one of them, treading on an apparently new made grave, was
astonished by soft notes of music proceeding from the ground beneath.
"Superstitious as the natives are, and having most of them, in former
days, heard something of the Christian doctrines, they started and stood
transfixed with astonishment, expecting the dead to arise, as they had
been once told. One of them mustered courage to put his foot again upon
the spot, and the reply was soft and musical as before. Away they all
started to Africaner, to inform him that there was life and music in the
"The chief, who feared neither the living nor the dead, went to the
burial-ground with his men, and jumped upon the spot, which immediately
gave out the soft note as before. Africaner ordered an immediate
exhumation, when the source of the mystery proved to be the piano-forte
of the missionary's wife, which being too cumbrous an article to take
away, had been buried there, with the hope of being one day able to
recover it. Never having seen such an instrument before, Africaner had
it dissected for the sake of the brass wires; and thus the piano was
"I doubt if it would ever have been dug up in Caffreland," observed
"I am convinced it never would have been, but have remained as a wonder
and object of fear as long as it held together," replied Swinton; "but
"The Mission station having been for some time broken up by this attack
of Africaner, Mr. C., a missionary, anxious to restore it, wrote a
letter to Africaner on the subject, and received a favorable reply, and
a Mr. E. was sent to the residence of Africaner himself. After a short
time, Africaner and his two brothers, with a number of others, were
"At first it must be admitted that their profession of Christianity did
not greatly improve their conduct; but this was very much to be ascribed
to the circumstance that the duties of the station had devolved upon one
who ought not to have been selected for the task. Upon his removal, and
a more fitting minister of the Gospel taking his place, a great change
was soon observable in Africaner; and, from having been one of the most
remorseless pursuers of his vengeance--a firebrand spreading discord,
war and animosity among the neighboring tribes--he would now make every
concession and any sacrifice to prevent collision and bloodshed between
"Although his power was so great that he might have raised his arm and
dared them to lift a spear or draw a bow, he would entreat them as a
suppliant to be reconciled.
"'Look at me,' he would say, 'how many battles have I fought; how much
cattle have I taken; but what has it done for me, but make me full of
shame and sorrow?'
"In short, from that time till he died, he became a peacemaker and a
Christian, both in word and deed. His whole life was devoted to acts of
kindness and charity--to instructing and exhorting, and following the
precepts of Him in whose faith eventually he lived and died."
"Well, Swinton, you have indeed given us a remarkable proof that the
missionary labors are not always thrown away, and we thank you for your
compliance with our request."
"It is a remarkable instance, if you only consider how many hundreds of
lives might have been sacrificed, if Africaner had continued his career
of slaughter and of plunder; and how many lives, I may add, have been
also saved by his interference as a peacemaker, instead of being, as he
formerly was, a promoter of war and bloodshed."
"Swinton," said Alexander, "I wanted to ask you a question which I had
nearly forgotten. Do you recollect what Bremen said to us, that the lion
had seized the gemsbok, and that now the lion would shut his eyes, and
that he would shoot him?"
"Yes, I do; and he was correct in what he stated, for I have witnessed
it myself. When a lion seizes a large animal like an ox or horse, or the
animal he fell a martyr to this afternoon, he springs upon it, seizes it
by the throat with his terrible fangs, and holds it down with his paws
till it expires. From the moment the lion seizes his prey, he shuts his
eyes, and never opens them again until the life of his prey is extinct.
I remember a Hottentot, when a lion had seized an ox in this way,
running up to him with his gun and firing within a few yards' distance.
The lion, however, did not deign to notice the report of the gun, but
continued to hold fast his prey. The Hottentot loaded again, fired, and
again missed; reloaded again, and then shot the lion through the head."
"How very strange!"
"It is, and I can not give any reason for it; but that it is so, I well
know to be a fact. Perhaps it may be that the animal, after long
fasting, is quite absorbed with the grateful taste of the blood flowing
into his mouth, while the animal is writhing under his clutches. But
there are many singular points about the lion, which is a much more
noble and intelligent animal than most people have any idea of; I have
collected a number of facts relative to his majesty which would surprise
you. The Bushmen know the animal and his habits so well, that they
seldom come to any accident from their inhabiting a country in which I
really believe the population of lions exceeds that of Bushmen."
"Is it true that the lion, as well as other animals, is afraid of the
eye of man?" said the Major; "can you reply to that question?"
"Yes, I can," answered Swinton; "I was about to say that he is and is
not, but a better answer will be to give you what has come to my
knowledge: I consider that the lion is a much more dangerous animal in
this country, and indeed in any other where there are no firearms, than
where the occupants are possessed of them.
"It may appear strange, but it is my fixed opinion, that the lion has an
idea of the deadly nature of firearms, and that he becomes in
consequence more afraid of man. You remember a story I told you of a
lion watching a man for two days without destroying him, but never
permitting him to lay hold of his gun. Now it is satisfactorily proved
that a lion will pass a man who has a gun in his hand without attacking
him, provided that he does not attempt to level the gun; but the moment
that he does he will spring upon him.
"An instance of that occurred to the great lion-hunter Diedrich Muller,
who mentioned it to me. He had been alone hunting in the wilds, when he
came suddenly upon a large lion, which, instead of giving way as they
usually do, seemed disposed, from the angry attitude which he assumed,
to dispute his progress.
"Muller instantly alighted, and, confident of his unerring aim, leveled
his gun at the forehead of the lion, which had crouched in the act to
spring, within sixteen paces of him; but as he fired, his horse, whose
bridle was round his arm, started back, and, jerking him aside, caused
him to miss; the lion bounded forward, but stopped within a few paces,
confronting Muller, who stood defenseless, as his gun was discharged,
and his horse had galloped off.
"The man and the beast stood looking each other in the face for a short
time. At length the lion moved backward, as if to go away. Muller began
loading his gun; the lion looked over his shoulder, growled, and
immediately returned to his former position within a few paces of
Muller. Muller stood still, with his eyes fixed on the animal. The lion
again moved cautiously off; when he was at a certain distance, Muller
proceeded to ram down his bullet. The lion again looked back and growled
angrily. Muller again was quiet, and the animal continued turning and
growling as it moved off, till at last it bounded away."
"You imagine then, that the lion is aware of the fatal effects of
fire-arms?" said the Major.
"It would appear so, not only on account of their being so angry if
presented at them, or being touched even when they are close to them,
but also from the greater respect the lion pays to man where fire-arms
are in use. The respect that he pays to men in the colony is not a
general custom of the animal.
"As I said before, the lion is more dangerous in this Bushman country;
because, in the first place, his awe of man has been removed, from his
invariably successful encounters with those who have no weapons of
force with which to oppose him; and, secondly, because he has but too
often tasted human flesh, after which a lion becomes more partial to it
than any other food.
"It is asserted, that when a lion has once succeeded in snatching some
unfortunate Bushman from his cave, he never fails to return regularly
every night, in hopes of another meal, until the horde is so harassed
that they are compelled to seek some other shelter. From apprehension of
such attacks, it is also asserted that the Bushmen are in the habit of
placing their aged and infirm people at the entrance of the cave during
the night, that, should the lion come, the least valuable and most
useless of their community may first fall a prey to the animal."
"Of course, if permitted to help himself in that way, the lion can not
have much fear of man," observed Wilmot; "and his lurking abroad in the
night takes away much from the nobleness of disposition which you are
inclined to attribute to him."
"By no means," continued Swinton. "That a lion generally lurks and lies
in wait to seize his prey is certain, but this is the general
characteristic of the feline tribe, of which he may be considered as the
head; and it is for this mode of hunting that nature has fitted him.
"The wolf, the hound, and others, are furnished with an acute scent, and
are enabled to tire down their prey by a long chase. The feline tribe
are capable of very extraordinary efforts of activity and speed for a
very short time; if they fail to seize their prey at the first spring,
or after a few tremendous bounds, they generally abandon the pursuit.
"The lion can spring from nine to twelve yards at a leap, and for a few
seconds can repeat these bounds with such activity and velocity as to
outstrip the movements of the quickest horse; but he can not continue
these amazing efforts and does not attempt it. In fact, the lion is no
more than a gigantic cat, and he must live by obtaining his prey in the
same manner as a cat.
"In these countries, his prey is chiefly of the antelope species, the
swiftest animals on earth; and what chance would he have, if he were to
give one of his magnanimous roars to announce his approach? He knows his
business better; he crouches in the rank grass and reeds by the sides of
the paths made by the animals to descend to the rivers and pools to
drink, and as they pass he makes his spring upon them.
"Now I do not consider that his obtaining his food as nature has
pointed out to him is any argument against what I consider the really
noble disposition of the lion, which is, that he does not kill for mere
cruelty, and that he is really generous, unless compelled by hunger to
destroy, as I have already shown by one or two examples."
"We are convinced, my dear Swinton," said Alexander; "but now let us
have your opinion as to his being afraid to meet the eye of man."
"I consider that the lion will generally retreat before the presence of
man; but he does not retreat cowardly, like the leopard or hyena, and
others. He never slinks away, he appears calmly to survey his opponent,
as apparently measuring his prowess. I should say that the lion seems to
have a secret impression that man is not his natural prey, and although
he will not always give place to him, he will not attack him, if, in the
first place, the man shows no sign of fear, and in the second, no signs
"But this instinctive deference to man is not to be reckoned upon. He
may be very angry, he may be very hungry, he may have been just
disappointed in taking his prey, or he may be accompanied by the female
and cubs; in short, the animal's temper may have been ruffled, and in
this case he becomes dangerous.
"An old Namaqua chief with whom I was conversing, and who had been
accustomed to lions from childhood, fully corroborated these opinions,
and also that there is that in the eye of man before which the lion
quails. He assured me that the lion very seldom attacks a man, if not
provoked; but he will approach him within a few paces and survey him
steadily. Sometimes he attempts to get behind him, as if he could not
stand his look, but was desirous of springing upon him unawares. He
said, that if a man in such a case attempted to fly, he would run the
greatest danger, but that if he had presence of mind to confront the
animal, it would in almost every instance after a short time retire.
"Now I have already brought forward the instance of Muller and the lion,
as a proof of the effect of a man's eye upon the lion. I will now give
another, still more convincing, as the contact was still closer, and
the lion had even tasted blood.
"A boor of the name of Gyt was out with one of his neighbors hunting.
Coming to a fountain, surrounded as usual with tall reeds and rushes,
Gyt gave his gun to his comrade, and alighted to see if there was any
water remaining in it; but as he approached the fountain, an enormous
lion started up close at his side, and seized him by the left arm. Gyt,
although thus taken by surprise, stood motionless and without
struggling, for he was aware that the least attempt to escape would
occasion his immediate destruction. The animal also remained motionless,
holding Gyt fast by the arm with his fangs, but without biting it
severely, at the same time shutting his eyes, as if he could not
withstand the eyes of his victim fixed upon him."
"What a terrible position!"
"Yes; but I may here observe that the lion was induced to seize the man
in consequence of their coming so completely in contact, and, as it
were, for self-defense. Had they been further apart, the lion would, as
usually is the case, have walked away; and, moreover, the eye of the man
being so close to him had, at the same time, more power over the lion,
so as to induce him to shut his own. But to continue--
"As they stood in this position, Gyt recovered his presence of mind, and
beckoned to his comrade to advance with his gun and shoot the lion
through the head. This might easily have been done, as the animal
continued still with his eyes closed, and Gyt's body concealed any
object approaching. But his comrade was a cowardly scoundrel, and,
instead of coming to Gyt's assistance, he cautiously crawled up a rock
to secure himself from any danger. For a long while Gyt continued
earnestly to entreat his comrade by signs to come to his assistance--the
lion continuing all this while perfectly quiet--but in vain."
"How my blood boils at the conduct of this scoundrel," said the Major;
"admitting his first impulse to have been fear, yet to allow his comrade
to remain in that position so long a while covers him with infamy."
"I think if Gyt escaped, he must have felt very much inclined to shoot
the wretch himself."
"The lion-hunters affirm that, if Gyt had but persevered a little
longer, the animal would have at last released his hold and left Gyt
uninjured; that the grip of the lion was more from fear that the man
would hurt him, than from any wish to hurt the man; and such is my
opinion. But Gyt, indignant at the cowardice of his comrade, and losing
patience with the lion, at last drew his hunting-knife, which all the
boors invariably carry at their side, and with all the power of his
right arm thrust it into the lion's breast.
"The thrust was a deadly one, for it was aimed with judgment, and Gyt
was a bold and powerful man; but it did not prove effectual so as to
save Gyt's life, for the enraged lion, striving in his death agonies to
grapple with Gyt,--held at arm's length by the strength of desperation
on the part of the boor,--so dreadfully lacerated with his talons the
breast and arms of poor Gyt, that his bones were left bare.
"At last the lion fell dead, and Gyt fell with him. His cowardly
companion, who had witnessed this fearful struggle from the rock, now
took courage to advance, and carried the mangled body of Gyt to the
nearest house. Medical aid was at hand, but vainly applied, as on the
third day, he died of a locked jaw. Such was the tragical end of this
rencounter, from the sheer cowardice of Gyt's companion.
"I could mention many other instances in which lions have had men in
their power and have not injured them, if they have neither attempted to
escape nor to assault; but I think I have given enough already, not only
to prove the fact of his general forbearance toward man, but also that
there is something in the eye of man at which the lion and other
animals, I believe, will quail."
"I can myself give an instance that this fascinating effect, or whatever
it may be, of the human eye, is not confined wholly to the lion," said
"One of our officers in India, having once rambled into a jungle
adjoining the British encampment, suddenly encountered a Bengal tiger.
The meeting was evidently most unexpected on both sides, and both
parties made a dead halt, earnestly gazing at each other. The officer
had no fire-arms with him, although he had his regulation sword by his
side; but that he knew would be of no defense if he had to struggle for
life with such a fearful antagonist. He was, however, a man of undaunted
courage, and he had heard that even a Bengal tiger might be checked by
looking him steadily in the face.
"His only artillery being, like a lady's, that of his eyes, he directed
them point blank at the tiger. He would have infinitely preferred a
rifle, as he was not at all sure but that his eyes might miss fire.
However, after a few minutes, during which the tiger had been crouched
ready for his spring, the animal appeared disturbed and irresolute,
slunk on one side, and then attempted to crawl round behind the officer.
"This, of course, the officer would not permit, and he turned to the
tiger as the tiger turned, with the same constancy that, Tom Moore says,
the 'sunflower turns to the sun.'
"The tiger then darted into the thicket, and tried to catch him by
coming suddenly upon him from another quarter, and taking him by
surprise; but our officer was wide awake, as you may suppose, and the
tiger, finding that it was no go, at last went off himself, and the
officer immediately went off too, as fast as he could, to the
"I am glad to have heard your narrative, Major," replied Swinton; "for
many doubts have been thrown upon the question of the power of the human
eye, and your opinion is a very corroborative one."
"Do not you imagine that the lion-tamers who exhibit in Europe have
taken advantage of this peculiar fact?"
"I have no doubt but that it is one of their great helps; but I think
that they resort to other means, which have increased the instinctive
fear that the animals have of them. I have witnessed these exhibitions,
and always observed that the man never for a moment took his eyes off
the animal which he was playing with or commanding.
"I have observed that also; but what are the other means to which you
"I can not positively say, but I can only express an opinion. The most
painful and most stunning effects of a blow upon any part of the body,
not only of man but of brutes, is a blow on the nose. Many animals, such
as the seal and others, are killed by it immediately, and there is no
doubt but a severe blow on that tender part will paralyze almost any
beast for the time and give him a dread for the future. I believe that
repeated blows upon the nose will go further than any other means to
break the courage of any beast, and I imagine that these are resorted
to: but it is only my opinion, recollect, and it must be taken for just
as much as it is worth."
"Do not you think that animals may be tamed by kindness, if you can
produce in them the necessary proportion of love and fear?"
"Yes, I was about to say every animal, but I believe some must be
excepted; and this is from their having so great a fear of man, rather
than from any other cause. If their fear could be overcome, they might
be tamed. Of course there are some animals which have not sufficient
reasoning power to admit of their being tamed; for instance, who would
ever think of taming a scorpion?"
"I believe that there is one animal which, although taken as a cub, has
resisted every attempt to tame it in the slightest degree,--this is the
grizzly bear of North America."
"I have heard so too," replied Swinton; "at all events, up to the
present time they have been unsuccessful. It is an animal of most
unamiable disposition, that is certain; and I would rather encounter ten
lions, if all that they say of it is true. But it is time for us to go
to bed. Those fires are getting rather low. Who has the watch?"
The Major rose and walked round to find the Hottentot who was on that
duty, and found him fast asleep. After sundry kicks in the ribs, the
fellow at last woke up.
"Is it your watch?"
"Yaw, Mynher," replied Big Adam, rolling out of his kaross.
"Well, then, you keep it so well, that you will have no tobacco next
time it is served out."
"Gentlemen all awake and keep watch, so I go to sleep a little," replied
Adam, getting up on his legs.
"Look to your fires, sir," replied the Major, walking to his wagon.
As they fully expected to fall in with a herd of buffaloes as they
proceeded, they started very early on the following morning. They had
now the satisfaction of finding that the water was plentiful in the
river, and, in some of the large holes which they passed, they heard the
snorting and blowing of the hippopotami, to the great delight of the
Hottentots, who were very anxious to procure one, being very partial to
As they traveled that day, they fell in with a small party of Bushmen;
they were shy at first, but one or two of the women at last approached,
and receiving some presents of snuff and tobacco, the others soon
joined; and as they understood from Omrah and the Hottentots that they
were to hunt in the afternoon, they followed the caravan, with the hopes
of obtaining food.
They were a very diminutive race, the women, although very well formed,
not being more than four feet high. Their countenances were
pleasing,--that is, the young ones; and one or two of them would have
been pretty, had they not been so disfigured with grease and dirt.
Indeed the effluvia from them was so unpleasant, that our travelers were
glad that they should keep at a distance; and Alexander said to Swinton,
"Is it true that the lion and other animals prefer a black man to a
white, as being of a higher flavor, Swinton, or is it only a joke?"
"I should think there must be some truth in the idea," observed the
Major; "for they say that the Bengal tiger will always take a native in
preference to a European."
"It is, I believe, not to be disputed," replied Swinton, "that for one
European devoured by the lion or other animals, he feasts upon ten
Hottentots or Bushmen, perhaps more; but I ascribe the cause of his so
doing, not exactly to his perceiving any difference in the flesh of a
black and white man, and indulging his preference. The lion, like many
other beasts of prey, is directed to his game by his scent as well as by
his eye; that is certain. Now I appeal to you, who have got rid of these
Bushmen, and who know so well how odoriferous is the skin of a
Hottentot, whether a lion's nose is not much more likely to be attracted
by one of either of these tribes of people, than it would by either you
or me. How often, in traveling, have we changed our position, when the
wind has borne down upon us the effluvia of the Hottentot who was
driving?--why that effluvia is borne down with the wind for miles, and
is as savory to the lion, I have no doubt, as a beefsteak is to us."
"There can, I think, be no doubt of that," said Alexander; "but it is
said that they will select a Hottentot from white men."
"No doubt of it, because they follow up the scent right to the party
from whence it emanates. I can give you an instance of it. I was once
traveling with a Dutch farmer, with his wagon and Hottentots. We unyoked
and lay down on the sand for the night; there were the farmer and I, two
Hottentot men and a woman--by the by, a very fat one, and who
consequently was more heated by the journey. During the night a lion
came and carried away the woman from among us all, and by his tracks, as
we found on the following morning, he had passed close to the farmer and
"Was the woman killed?"
"The night was so dark that we could see nothing; we were roused by her
shrieks, and seized our guns, but it was of no use. I recollect another
instance which was not so tragical. A Hottentot was carried off by a
lion during the night, wrapped up in his sheep-skin kaross, sleeping, as
they usually do, with his face to the ground. As the lion trotted away
with him, the fellow contrived to wriggle out of his kaross, and the
lion went off only his mantle."
"Well, I should think one of the karosses must be a very savory morsel
for a hungry lion," said the Major;--"but I imagine it is almost time to
unyoke; we must have traveled nearly twenty miles, and these forests
promise well for the game we are in search of."
"I suspect that they contain not only buffaloes, but elephants; however,
we shall soon find out by examining the paths down to the river, which
they make in going for water."
"I think that yonder knoll would be a good place to fix our encampment,
Swinton," said the Major; "it is well shaded with mimosas, and yet clear
of the main forest."
"Well, you are quartermaster-general, and must decide."
The Major ordered Bremen to arrange the wagons as usual, and turn the
cattle out to feed. As soon as this had been accomplished, they saddled
their horses, and awaited the return of Swanevelt, who had gone to
reconnoiter. Shortly afterward he returned, with the report that there
were the tracks of elephants, buffaloes, and lions, in every direction
by the river's banks; and as the dogs would now be of use, they were
ordered to be let loose, which they seldom were, unless the game was
large and to be regularly hunted down. Our travelers mounted and
proceeded into the forest, accompanied by all the Hottentots except the
cattle-keepers and the Bushmen; Bremen, Swanevelt, and Omrah only being
on horseback, as well as themselves. As they rode forward slowly and
cautiously at the outset, Swinton asked the Major whether he had ever
"Yes, in India," replied the Major; "and desperate animals they are in
"I was about to say that you will find them such here; and, Alexander,
you must be very careful. In the first place, a leaden bullet is of
little use against their tough hides, and, I may almost say,
impenetrable foreheads. The best shot is under the fore-shoulder."
"Our balls are hardened with tin," observed Alexander.
"I know that," replied Swinton; "but still they are most dangerous
animals, especially if you fall in with a single buffalo. It is much
safer to attack a herd; but we have no time to talk over the matter now,
only, as I say, be very careful, and whatever you do, do not approach
one which is wounded, even if he be down on his knees. But here comes
Bremen with news."
The Hottentot came up and announced that there was a large herd of
buffaloes on the other side of the hill, and proposed that they should
take a sweep round them, so as to drive them toward the river.
This proposal was considered good, and was acted upon; and, after riding
about a mile, they gained the position which seemed the most desirable.
The dogs were then let loose, and the Hottentots on foot, spread
themselves on every side, shouting so as to drive the animals before
them. The herd collected together and for a short while stood at bay
with the large bulls in front, and then set off through the forest
toward the river, followed by all the hunters on horse and on foot. In a
quarter of an hour the whole herd had taken refuge in a large pool in
the river, which, with the reeds and rushes, and small islands in the
center, occupied a long slip of ground.
The Major, with Swanevelt and two other Hottentots, proceeded further up
the river, that they might cross it before the attack commenced, and the
others agreed to wait until the signal was given by the Major's firing.
As soon as they heard the report of the Major's rifle, Swinton and
Alexander, with their party, advanced to the banks of the river. They
plunged in, and were soon up to the horses' girths, with the reeds far
above their heads. They could hear the animals forcing their way through
the reeds, but could not see them; and after some severe labor, Swinton
said--"Alexander, it will be prudent for us to go back; we can do
nothing here, and we shall stand a chance of being shot by our own
people, who can not see us. We must leave the dogs to drive them out, or
the Hottentots and Bushmen; but we must regain the banks."
Just as Swinton said this, a loud rushing was heard through the reeds.
"Look out!" cried he; but he could say no more before the reeds opened
and a large hippopotamus rushed upon them, throwing over Alexander's
horse on his side, and treading Alexander and his horse both deep under
the water as he passed over them and disappeared. Although the water was
not more than four feet in depth, it was with difficulty that the horse
and rider could extricate themselves from the reeds, among which they
had been jammed and entangled; and Alexander's breath was quite gone
when he at last emerged. Bremen and Swinton hastened to give what
assistance they could, and the horse was once more on his legs. "My
rifle," cried Alexander; "it is in the water." "We will find it," said
Swinton: "haste up to the banks as fast as you can, for you are
Alexander thought it advisable to follow Swinton's advice, and with some
difficulty regained the bank, where he was soon afterward followed by
Swinton and Bremen, who had secured his rifle. Alexander called Omrah,
and sent him to the caravan for another rifle, and then for the first
time he exclaimed, "Oh, what a brute! It was lucky the water was deep,
or he would have jammed me on the head, so that I never should have
risen up again."
"You have indeed had a providential escape, Alexander," replied Swinton;
"is your horse hurt!"
"He must be, I should think," said Alexander, "for the animal trod upon
him; but he does not appear to show it at present."
In the mean time several shots were fired from the opposite side of the
river by the Major and his party, and occasionally the head or horns of
the buffalo were seen above the reeds by the Hottentots, who remained
with Swinton and Alexander: but the animals still adhered to their
cover. Omrah having brought another rifle, Bremen then proposed that the
Hottentots, Bushmen, and dogs should force their way through the reeds
and attempt to drive the animals out; in which there would be no danger,
as the animals could not charge with any effect in the deep water and
"Provided they don't meet with a hippopotamus," said Alexander,
"Won't say a word about him, sir," replied Bremen, who then went and
gave the directions.
[Illustration: ALEXANDER AND THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.]
The Hottentots and Bushmen, accompanied by the dogs, then went into
the reeds, and their shouting and barking soon drove out some of the
buffaloes on the opposite side, and the reports of the guns were heard.
At last one came out on that side of the river where Alexander and
Swinton were watching; Swinton fired, and the animal fell on its knees;
a shot from Alexander brought it down dead and turned on its side. One
of the Bushmen ran up to the carcass, and was about to use his knife,
when another buffalo charged from the reeds, caught the Bushman on his
horns, and threw him many yards in the air. The Bushman fell among the
reeds behind the buffalo, which in vain looked about for his enemy, when
a shot from Bremen brought him to the ground.
Shortly afterward the Bushman made his appearance from the reeds; he was
not at all hurt, with the exception of a graze from the horns of the
animal, and a contusion of the ribs.
The chase now became warm; the shouting of the Hottentots, the barking
of the dogs, and the bellowing of the herd, which were forcing their way
through the reeds before them, were very exciting. By the advice of
Swinton, they took up their position on a higher ground, where the
horses had good footing, in case the buffaloes should charge.
As soon as they arrived there, they beheld a scene on the other side of
the river, about one hundred yards from them, which filled them with
anxiety and terror; the Major's horse was galloping away, and the Major
not to be seen. Under a large tree, Swanevelt was in a sitting posture,
holding his hands to his body as if severely wounded, his horse lying by
his side, and right before him an enormous bull buffalo, standing
motionless; the blood was streaming from the animal's nostrils, and it
was evidently tottering from weakness and loss of blood; at last it
"I fear there is mischief done," cried Swinton; "where can the Major be,
and the two Hottentots who were with him! Swanevelt is hurt and his
horse killed, that is evident. We had better call them off, and let the
buffaloes remain quiet, or escape as they please."
"There is the Major," said Alexander, "and the Hottentots too; they are
not hurt, don't you see them?--they were up the trees; thank God."
They now observed the Major run up to Swanevelt, and presently the two
Hottentots went in pursuit of the Major's horse. Shortly afterward,
Swanevelt, with the assistance of the Major, got upon his legs, and,
taking up his gun, walked slowly away.
"No great harm done, after all," said Alexander; "God be praised: but
here come the whole herd, Swinton."
"Let them go, my good fellow," replied Swinton, "we have had enough of
buffalo-hunting for the present."
The whole herd had now broken from the reeds about fifty paces from
where they were stationed, and with their tails raised, tossing with
their horns, and bellowing with rage and fear, darted out of the reeds,
dripping with slime and mud, and rushed off toward the forest. In a few
seconds they were out of sight.
"A good riddance," said Swinton; "I hope the Major is now satisfied with
"I am, at all events," replied Alexander. "I feel very sore and stiff.
What a narrow escape that Bushman had."
"Yes, he had indeed; but, Alexander, your horse is not well: he can
hardly breathe. You had better dismount."
Alexander did so, and unloosed his girths. Bremen got off his horse,
and, offering it to Alexander, took the bridle of the other and examined
"He has his ribs broken, sir," said the Hottentot,--"two of them, if not
"No wonder, poor fellow; lead him gently, Bremen. Oh, here comes the
Major. Now we shall know what has occurred; and there is Swanevelt and
the two men."
"Well, Major, pray tell us your adventures, for you have frightened us
"Not half so much as I have been frightened myself," replied the Major;
"we have all had a narrow escape. I can assure you, and Swanevelt's
horse is dead."
"Is Swanevelt hurt?"
"No, he was most miraculously preserved; the horn of the buffalo has
grazed the whole length of the body, and yet not injured him. But let us
go to the caravan and have something to drink, and then I will tell you
all about it--I am quite done up, and my tongue cleaves to the roof of
As soon as they had arrived at the caravan and dismounted, the Major
drank some water, and then gave his narrative. "We had several shots on
our side of the river, for the buffaloes had evidently an intention of
crossing over, had we not turned them. We had killed two, when a bull
buffalo charged from the reeds upon Swanevelt, and before he could turn
his horse and put him to his speed, the horns of the buffalo had ripped
up the poor animal, and he fell with Swanevelt under him. The enraged
brute disengaged himself from the horse, and made a second charge upon
Swanevelt; but he twisted on one side, and the horn only grazed him, as
I have mentioned. I then fired and wounded the animal. He charged
immediately, and I turned my horse, but from fright he wheeled so
suddenly that I lost my stirrups, and my saddle turned round.
"I found that I could not recover my seat, and that I was gradually
sliding under the horse's belly, when he passed under a tree, and I
caught a branch and swung myself on to it, just as the buffalo, which
was close behind us, came up to me. As he passed under, his back hit my
leg; so you may imagine it was 'touch and go.' The animal, perceiving
that the horse left him, and I was not on it, quitted his pursuit, and
came back bellowing and roaring, and looking everywhere for me.
"At last it perceived Swanevelt, who had disengaged himself from the
dead horse, and was sitting under the tree, apparently much hurt, as he
is, poor fellow, although not seriously. It immediately turned back to
him, and would certainly have gored him to death, had not Kloet, who was
up in a tree, fired at the animal and wounded him mortally--for his
career was stopped as he charged toward Swanevelt, and was not ten yards
from him. The animal could proceed no further, and there he stood until
he fell dead."
"We saw that portion of the adventure ourselves, Major," said Swinton;
"and now we will tell you our own, which has been equally full of
incident and danger." Swinton having related what had passed on his side
of the river, the Major observed:
"You may talk about lions, but I'd rather go to ten lion-hunts than one
more buffalo-hunt. I have had enough of buffaloes for all my life."
"I am glad to hear you say so," replied Swinton, "for they are most
ferocious and dangerous animals, as you may now acknowledge, and the
difficulty of giving them a mortal wound renders the attack of them very
hazardous. I have seen and heard enough of buffalo-hunting to tell you
that you have been fortunate, although you have lost one horse and have
another very much hurt;--but here come the spoils of the chase; at all
events, we will benefit by the day's sport, and have a good meal."
"I can't eat now," said Alexander; "I am very stiff. I shall go and lie
down for an hour or two."
"And so shall I," said the Major; "I have no appetite."
"Well, then, we will all meet at supper," said Swinton. "In the mean
time I shall see if I can be of any use to Swanevelt. Where's Omrah?"
"I saw him and Begum going out together just now," said the Major. "What
for, I do not know."
"Oh! I told him to get some of the Bushman roots," said Alexander; "they
are as good as potatoes when boiled; and he has taken the monkey to find
The Major and Alexander remained on their beds till supper-time, when
Mahomed woke them up. They found themselves much refreshed by their
sleep, and also found that their appetites had returned. Buffalo-steaks
and fried Bushman roots were declared to be a very good substitute for
beefsteaks and fried potatoes; and after they had made a hearty meal,
Alexander inquired of Swinton what he had seen of buffalo-hunting when
he had been at the Cape before.
"I have only been once or twice engaged in a buffalo-hunt; but I can
tell you what I have heard, and what I have collected from my own
knowledge, as to the nature of the animal, of which indeed to-day you
have had a very good proof. I told you this morning, that a single
buffalo was more dangerous than a herd; and the reason is this:--At the
breeding season, the fiercest bulls drive the others away from the herd,
in the same manner as the elephants do; and these solitary buffaloes are
extremely dangerous, as they do not wait to be attacked, but will attack
a man without any provocation. They generally conceal themselves, and
rush out upon you unawares, which makes it more difficult to escape from
them. They are so bold, that they do not fear the lion himself; and I
have been told by the Dutch boors, that when a buffalo has killed one of
their comrades by goring and tossing him, it will not leave its victim
for hours, but continue to trample on him with his hoofs, crushing the
body with its knees as an elephant does, and with its rough tongue
stripping off the skin as far as it can. It does not do all this at one
time, but it leaves the body, and returns again, as if to glut its
"What a malicious brute!"
"Such is certainly its character. I recollect a history of a
buffalo-hunting adventure, told me by a Dutch farmer, who was himself an
eye-witness to the scene. He had gone out with a party to hunt a herd of
buffaloes which were grazing on a piece of marshy ground, sprinkled with
a few mimosa-trees. As they could not get within shot of the herd,
without crossing a portion of the marsh, which was not safe for horses,
they agreed to leave their steeds in charge of two Hottentots, and to
advance on foot; thinking that, in case any of the buffaloes should
charge them, it would be easy to escape by running back to the marsh,
which would bear the weight of a man, but not of a horse, much less that
of a buffalo.
"They advanced accordingly over the marsh, and being concealed by some
bushes, they had the good fortune to bring down, with the first volley,
three of the fattest of the herd; and also so severely wounded the great
bull, which was the leader of the herd, that he dropped down on his
knees, bellowing most furiously. Thinking that the animal was mortally
wounded, the foremost of the huntsmen walked out in front of the bushes
from which they had fired, and began to reload his musket as he
advanced, in order to give the animal a finishing shot. But no sooner
did the enraged animal see the man advancing, than he sprang up and
charged headlong at him. The man threw down his gun, and ran toward the
marsh; but the beast was so close upon him, that he despaired of
escaping by that direction, and turning suddenly round a clump of
copsewood, began to climb an old mimosa tree which stood close to it.
"The buffalo was, however, too quick for him. Bounding forward with a
roar, which the farmer told me was one of the most hideous and appalling
sounds that he ever heard, he caught the poor fellow with his terrible
horns, just as he had nearly got out of reach, and tossed him in the air
with such force, that after whirling round and round to a great height,
the body fell into the fork of the branches of the tree. The buffalo
went round the tree roaring, and looking for the man, until, exhausted
by wounds and loss of blood, it again fell down on its knees. The other
hunters then attacked and killed him; but they found their comrade, who
was still hanging in the tree, quite dead."
"Well; I have no doubt but that such would have been the fate of
Swanevelt or of me, had the brute got hold of us," said the Major; "I
never saw such a malignant, diabolical expression in any animal's
countenance as there was upon that buffalo's. A lion is, I should say, a
gentleman and a man of honor compared to such an evil-disposed ruffian."
"Well, Major, you have only to let them alone; recollect, you were the
aggressor," said Swinton, laughing.
"Very true; I never wish to see one again."
"And I never wish to be in the way of a hippopotamus again, I can assure
you," said Alexander, "for a greater want of politeness I never met
During this conversation the Hottentots and Bushmen at the other fires
had not been idle. The Hottentots had fried and eaten, and fried and
eaten, till they could hold no more; and the Bushmen, who in the morning
looked as thin and meager as if they had not had a meal for a month,
were now so stuffed that they could hardly walk, and their lean
stomachs were distended as round as balls. The Bushman who had been
tossed by the buffalo came up and asked for a little tobacco, at the
same time smiling and patting his stomach, which was distended to a most
"Yes, let us give them some," said Alexander; "it will complete their
day's happiness. Did you ever see a fellow so stuffed? I wonder he does
"It is their custom. They starve for days, and then gorge in this way
when an opportunity offers, which is but seldom. Their calendar, such as
it is, is mainly from recollections of feasting; and I will answer for
it, that if one Bushman were on some future day to ask another when such
a thing took place, he would reply, just before or just after the white
men killed the buffaloes."
"How do they live in general?"
"They live upon roots at certain seasons of the year; upon locusts when
a flight takes place; upon lizards, beetles--any thing. Occasionally
they procure game, but not very often. They are obliged to lie in wait
for it, and wound it with their poisoned arrows, and then they follow
its track and look for it the next day. Subtle as the poison is they
only cut out the part near the wound, and eat the rest of the animal.
They dig pit-holes for the hippopotamus and rhinoceros and occasionally
take them. They poison the pools for the game also; but their living is
very precarious, and they often suffer the extremities of hunger."
"Is that the cause, do you imagine, of their being so diminutive a race,
"No doubt of it. Continual privation and hardships from generation to
generation have, I have no doubt, dwindled them down to what you see."
"How is it that these Bushmen are so familiar? I thought that they were
savage and irreclaimable."
"They are what are termed tame Bushmen; that is, they have lived near
the farmers, and have, by degrees, become less afraid of the Europeans.