The Baldwin Library
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In the Land of the Lion
and the Ostrich
A Tale of Struggle and Adventure
GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N.
'OUR HOME IN THE SILVER WEST'
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALFRED PEARSE
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
56 PATERNOSTER ROW AND 65 ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD
I. SNOWED UP 7
II. MYRTLE COTTAGE. TOM CARTER MAKES AN IMPRESSION 19
III. 'EDGAR,' SHE SAID, 'YOU ARE MY BROTHER'S BOY' 31
IV. THE 'EXODUS' OF REBECCA ELLIOTT 41
V. THE PROMISED LAND AT LAST 52
VI. THE WELCOME HOME 64
VII. IT WAS HUMAN NATURE AFTER ALL 76
VIII. 'WE GOT THE START AND KEPT IT' 89
IX. A GRAND NIGHT'S SPORT 98
X. ALIE'S FIRST SHOT 108
XI. THE 'PLUCKING,' AND WHAT FOLLOWED 119
XII. EDGAR ELLIOTT AND TOM BECOME PARTNERS 129
XIII. KENNETH MAKES A NEW ACQUAINTANCE 139
XIV. ON BOARD THE WEEVIL-ENEMY IN SIGHT 148
XV. 'SCREAMING ONWARDS, ON ITS MESSAGE OF DEATH' 158
XVI. ALONE IN A LAND OF SAVAGES. 171
XVII. UP THE RIVER TO A STRANGE COUNTRY 182
XVIII. HOW KENNETH CURED A KING-HUNTING BEGUN 192
XIX, 'FOE MET FOE, AND THE FIGHT WAS FURIOUS'-MAN-
EATING LIONS 202
XX. WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT IN THE FOREST 213
XXI. FOR AULD LANG SYNE 224
XXII. THEY WERE GONE, AND WOULD NEVER RETURN 234
XXIII. TAKEN PRISONER BY SAVAGES 246
XXIV. 'FATHER HAS COME! I KNOW IT; I KNOW IT!' 257
XXV. ZEIKUL AND WOMO PREPARE FOR REVENGE-A
COUNCIL OF WAR 267
XXVI. A BATTLE ON THE RIVER--SEMAPHORING A LAST
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
AND THE OSTRICH
HERE was a very bright light streaming
from the oriel window of Myrtle Cottage
on this particular evening, and both
Rebecca and her sister Ruth were on the
tiptoe of expectation. For Edgar Elliott,
whom they were wont to call their own
and only bairn, was coming home to
spend his Christmas holidays, and might arrive at any
He had written to say so, and, not content with this,
he had actually sent a telegram. It wasn't once a year
that a telegram came to Glen Rowan, and the face of
the postman or runner who had brought it was a sight
to see. That morsel of buff flimsy, moreover, had
frightened the kindly old maids half out of their senses.
It was addressed to Rebecca, the elder, but Ruth had
to bustle around to find her sister's spectacles, and
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
things of this sort never are in their proper places at
the time they are wanted. Ruth was so confused and
so flustered that she hardly knew what she was doing,
and brought Rebecca the scissors first; but finally she
found the glasses doing duty as a book-marker, to keep
the place in the family Bible.
But even after she got her spectacles, and cleaned
them, and stuck them across her thin nose, it had been
some time before Aunt Rebecca could muster up courage
enough to open the strange missive. She turned it
over and over, and read the address half a dozen times
at least, to make sure it really was for her; and even
after this was proved beyond all dispute she still held it
unopened in her hand.
'Dear me! Dear me!' she exclaimed, looking ap-
pealingly at Ruth, how my poor hand does shake, to
be sure! Our poor bairn must be dead at the very
least, or he never would have sent a telegram. What
would you do if you were me, Ruth ? '
'I'd open it, sister,' said Ruth, with a spasm of
'So I will. So I will.'
Then the missive was opened and read, and so
delighted were both the ladies when they found out
that Edgar wasn't dead at all, but coming home that
very day, and bringing a schoolboy friend with him,
that they asked the postman, who had been standing
open-mouthed in the doorway all the while, to come in
at once and have a bite of bread and cheese and a drop
of home-brewed beer.
Our boy's coming home to-day!' This from Rebecca,
with tears in her light blue eyes.
Our boy's coming home to-day !' This from Ruth,
with an almost hysterical chuckle, that made the cat on
the footstool pause in the act of washing his face, and
look inquiringly up.
Well, for the matter of that, Edgar came home for
his holidays regularly twice a year, and had been in the
habit of so doing going on now for nearly five twelve-
months, ever since he had reached the ripe age of
His school was the best in Edinburgh, or, as the bard
Edina, Scotia's darling seat,'
while Myrtle Cottage, the home of his guardian aunts,
Far lone among the Hielan' hills.'
Edgar used to come home just as the sweet summer-
time was beginning to merge into autumn ; when, low
in the glen, the elm, the ash, and the oak were assum-
ing a darker, duskier green; when the berries were
turning red on the mountain-ash or rowan-tree; when
corn was ripening yellow on the haughs by loch and
stream; when on the moorland the gorcock and grouse
were drumming their boldest, and the heather and
heath were beginning to clothe the mountain-sides with
purple and crimson.
Then he came home again-as he soon would now-
when the trees, bare and leafless, were extending their
gaunt and frozen fingers in the chill December air;
when half-way up the hillsides the cloud-like foliage of
many a weird pine-tree was piled black against the
cliffy rocks; when gigantic Ben Graat was a 'gomeral'
of snow; when brown burns dashed and foamed around
the boulders; when, high up in the glen, the steady
roar and boom of the surcharged linn made mournful
music all night long; when hares turned white; when
foxes sought shelter in the corries, and many a wee
furry thing was soundly asleep in its mossy bed by the
banks of the wind-teased loch. And there is no denying
one thing-when Edgar Elliott did come home, joy and
pleasure reigned in Myrtle Cottage.
A very even and uneventful life did these two
maiden sisters live in this peaceful Highland glen.
They were not rich, you must know. More was the
pity, many a poor old creature would have told you,
for even on a very limited income indeed one can afford
to be charitable.
*The Misses Elliott-Rebecca and Ruth-were the
sisters of a deceased major-general who had deserved
Io IN THE LAND OF THE LION
well of his country, and on whose account they were in
receipt of a pension, or rather compassionate allowance,
as those in authority were pleased to term it. Then the
general had left his sisters a few odd thousands and the
care of his only child Edgar, whose mother had died
when he was a mere infant-the father himself, sword
in hand, on a bloodstained brae in distant Afghanistan.
So little of his father had Edgar seen, that he hardly
recollected him. He was an orphan therefore, in the
widest sense of this word.
Far north in the Scottish Highlands, it will do my
English readers no harm to know, the summer days
are very long indeed, and about the month of June, if
the sky be clear, hardly can it be said that there is any
night at all. We have to pay for this extension of
daylight, however, when the winter comes. For on
December mornings it will still be dark at eight o'clock,
and before four in the afternoon, sometimes, night will
have fallen once more.
On the particular evening on which Aunt Rebecca
and her sister expected Edgar, darkness had come on
very early indeed-darkness and storm.
Brighter fire than that which burned so cheerfully in
the cottage parlour grate was surely never seen. It
quite rejoiced the hearts of the great tabby cat and the
honest collie dog who lay on the rug in front of it; and
Rebecca had not been content with having one lamp
lit-Mary the maid had to light the two. So no wonder
that the rays which streamed out across the snowy
lawn were brilliant and bright.
The room looked very cheerful indeed, and even Mary
the maid, although she had to superintend the cooking,
was arrayed in her best cap with white net frills and
crimson ribbons. The cloth was already laid, and
glasses and silver sparkled thereon. The turkey would
be done to a turn by the hour at which the boys were
expected, so Edgar's aunts had no anxiety on that score.
But in every lull of the conversation the wind, that had
begun to blow as soon as the sun went down, made
dreary music round the house, howled in the chimneys,
and rattled doors and windows.
It was a snow-laden wind too, that was the worst of
it ; and when at last Ruth, as the younger and the bolder
of the sisters was called, got up and opened the hall
door in order to look out, she was all but smothered by
the awful blast of the storm. An icy hand seemed to
clutch her by the throat, and try to choke the life out of
her, as she struggled to reclose the door, a feat she
never could have accomplished had not Mary come to
'Oh, Sister Rebecca, it is indeed a fearful night!'
'My poor boy !' said Rebecca, taking her glasses off
and laying them on the Good Book she had been read-
ing; but she added reverently, We must hope for the
'"Although His hand is strong to smite,
'Tis also strong to save."'
'Amen !' said Ruth. 'Yet oh, sister, I don't re-
member a more terrible and sudden storm since that
Christmas, you'll recollect, when the minister's five
hundred sheep were smothered in the glen, and poor
old Elspet Morris was found frozen dead at her own
Rebecca groaned aloud, and once more tried to read.
Now, the nearest railway station to Myrtle Cottage
was Drumardo, six miles off, not far from which was a
Highland hotel of the same name. Drumardo was a
wild ravine, or what in Western America would have
been called a cafion. Macgregor, who kept the hotel,
used to say he had three seasons in which to make
money: one was that of early summer, when tourists,
many of them artists, visited his place to sketch the
romantic scenery that abounded on all sides-the moun-
tains, glens, lochs, and streams, and the dark waving
forests of pine; the autumn, when sportsmen arrived
to shoot the grouse; and the depth of winter, when a
sudden snowstorm blocked the cafion and engulfed a
passenger train. At this season of the year the trains
might not be overcrowded, but sometimes a snow block
meant to Macgregor an influx of twenty to thirty unwill-
12 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
ing guests, and their detention at the hotel, much to
his profit, for probably a fortnight at the least.
A whole hour went slowly by, and the storm, instead
of abating, seemed every minute to increase in strength
At the end of an hour, the two ladies received a very
great fright indeed. First and foremost, Bran the
collie sprang up, barking furiously, his eyes, like
burning coals, being turned towards the window.
Gibbey the cat, with fur and back erect, was also very
'Oh, look, sister, look!' cried Ruth, pointing
fearfully at the window.
The blinds had not been drawn to-night, and when
Rebecca glanced round, what she saw was quite
enough to startle a much younger and less nervous
lady than she. A round red face, completely framed
in snow-covered hair, was pressed against the glass.
It nodded, and winked, and grimaced in a manner that
was doubtless meant to be friendly, but which only
made it fearful and hideous.
I do believe that one, if not both ladies, would have
fainted, had not at that moment brave Mary herself
entered the room.
'It's Mr. Macgregor,' she cried, 'to be sure, and
who but he? Blessings on him He is a good man,
and brings the good tidings.'
And Mary hurried to the door, and forthwith
admitted the visitor.
His beard and fur cap gave him the appearance of a
Highland King Christmas, hung round as they were
with icicles, and his plaid was a mantle of snow.
He laughed, and saluted, and apologised for his
appearance, all in turns.
'But sure,' he said, 'knowing you'd be anxious, I
thought I couldn't do better than ride over and tell
you. For it is this very day, Miss Elliott, I received a
telegram to say your dear lad and another were
coming, and the time, and how I was to have the
dogcart ready to drive them over, and all that'-
Bless you, for your trouble and thoughtfulness,'
said Rebecca; 'but oh, tell us, Mr. Macgregor, has
anything occurred? Are they both dead ? '
Pooh pooh Miss Elliott. How is it they should
be dead at all? But sure enough all the train is
snowed up in Drumardo, and it'll be to morrow
morning as ever was, before they can dig them out and
bring them all into the hotel. Och won't we be busy
just ? If the snowstorm holds, we'll have them all,
except your boys, Miss Elliott, for a two-weeks' time
at least. Sure it is the Lord who sends the snow.'
Well, you have relieved our minds, Mr. Macgregor,
and we do indeed thank you. But off with your plaid
and your cap. Mary, bring the broom. Is the horse
in shelter ? '
Your old Donald took the horse into your own
stable, Miss Elliott. But it's home I must be getting
'Never a step nor home do you go, Mr. Macgregor,
till you have dined; so keep your mind easy.'
And so the good-natured hotel-keeper laughed and
I've been married for twenty years, Miss Elliott,'
he said, so well I know that man's first duty is
obedience, sure enough.'
But by the time Mary Brown had finished with him,
he was quite a different-looking individual.
Mary had taken him to a room off the kitchen, to
thaw, as she expressed it. Here plaid and cap were
taken off, and soon his white beard and moustache
became brown, with the exception of a few white hairs
the snows of years had placed therein.
I declare,' said Mary, laughing, if I haven't made
you young again, Mr. Macgregor. But och! and och !
who would have thought it would have been you that
would help to eat the turkey instead of the two
bonnie boys ?'
This thought perhaps occurred to Rebecca and Ruth
also that evening, as the jolly landlord seated himself
at the table, and proceeded to carve. But they
comforted themselves with a few texts from Scripture,
and made the best of it. You see it still wanted a few
14 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
days to Christmas, and there were more than one
available turkey in the glen ; they felt assured of the
safety of their boy, and everything would come right in
the end, so why should they repine ? Surely, if ever a
man deserved a good dinner that man was Macgregor,
for in so terrible a snowstorm, and in so wild a country,
there were few but himself would have ventured to
ride the distance, even had they known the road as
well as did he and his faithful brown nag.
But let us leave Edgar's two aunts and their guest
seated around the festive board, till we see how he
himself and his friend fared to-night.
It was quite a beautiful forenoon, then, when Edgar
Elliott and young Kenneth M'Crimmon, his trusty
school companion, seated themselves in a first-class
railway carriage, to the Hielan's bound,' and prepared
to enjoy themselves. A third class would have suited
Edgar equally as well, but Kenneth possessed a good
deal of what is usually called Scottish pride. Yes, I am
fully aware that Scottish poverty very often goes hand
in hand with it, but in Kenneth's case it did not. Nor is
a little of such amourpropre to be despised in the son of
a chief of such ancient lineage as was this lad's father.
The worst of it was, as far as the boy was concerned,
he was only a younger son, and so his allowance was
With all his amour propre, with all his pride of
birth, a handsome, happy-go-lucky lad was Kenneth
M'Crimmon, whom even to see was to like, and to
know was to admire. It is well you should be
acquainted with this fact at the outset, for I should be
quite miserable to think that any hero of mine took his
place in my reader's mind as either a dude' or a
masher.' He had his faults, and many of them, with-
out a doubt, but that species of puppyism which puts
great store by a well-starched collar or faultless neck-
tie, and which lisps or intones its English, certainly
was not one of them.
Kenneth slipped half a crown into the guard's hand,
just before the train started.
'Look here, guard,' he said, 'my friend and I are
going to talk, and laugh, and sing, and I'm not sure
we won't dance; so just let us have as much of the
carriage to ourselves as possible, won't you?'
And the guard laughed and saluted, and said he
knew all about it, and had carried students before, and
they were to leave it all to him.
Now the train in which they sailed-if you'll let me
call it so-was not a fast one-no really fast trains
stopped at Drumardo; so the afternoon had well
commenced, and the winter's sun was sinking yellow
towards the western hills, before she left Perth.
It was just about this time that the guard popped
his old-fashioned face in through the window of the
Young gents,' he said, smiling, you won't mind a
sun-burned foreign-lookin' gent, will ye? Looks no
end of a good fellow. Else I fear I'll have to board an
old maid upon ye, and she looks sour'-
'Oh,' cried Kenneth, somewhat ungallantly, I fear,
'we don't mind fifty foreign gents, but keep your old
'This way, sir,' cried the guard, and next minute
the door of the compartment closed with a bang, the
whistle shrieked, flags were waved, and off rattled the
train, bound for the Highlands now in right good
The new-comer might have been about forty years of
age. His face was very hard and brown, his hat wide
in the brim, and as to his tweed clothes-well, it was
evident at a glance that they had not been built in
Britain; and if the tailor had not made them quite in
accordance with the dictates of fashion, he had at all
events given the wearer room enough.
Silence was maintained for fully half an hour, then
the foreign gent began to fidget a little, and look from
Kenneth to Edgar and from Edgar back again to
'Ahem!' he was clearing his throat to speak.
'Ahem Beg your pardon, my lads, but I suppose
you are both too young to have as yet contracted the
vile custom of blowing a cloud.'
16 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
'Oh, we don't smoke, sir,' said Kenneth, 'but I mean
to learn when I'm a bit older.'
'Don't do anything half so foolish; pray don't.
Now I myself am almost a slave to the weed. I'-
Kenneth had edged a little nearer to the stranger.
He positively placed a hand upon his arm, in a half shy,
half winning kind of way-
'Oh, pray light your pipe or cigar, sir,' he said.
'Both myself and my friend Edgar will be delighted to
see you enjoy a smoke.'
'Spoken like a right open-hearted boy,' cried the
stranger. 'Shake hands, my lad.'
The squeeze he gave Kenneth's hand made the boy
wince, and the tears actually sprang to his eyes, but in
a minute more he. was himself; and with the blue
smoke curling over his head, and his eyes fixed on the
roof of the carriage, to all appearance the foreign
gentleman was 'lapt in Elysium,' whatever that may
mean, or whatever that may be. I asked a booking
clerk on the G.W.R. once how one got there, and after
consulting about a dozen authorities, he said he
believed Elysium was on some little branch line in
Wales, but that tickets were not issued for it on this
side of Gloucester. I thanked him and retired.
After the stranger had smoked in silence for quite a
long time, he stuck the end of his largest finger in the
bowl of his pipe-none of his fingers were very
small, by the way-and suddenly turned round to his
'Boys,' he said, what are you going to be ? Students
you are at present, I know from your talk ; but you are
bound to grow older you know, if you live.'
Dear me !' said Kenneth, we never yet have given
the matter a thought; only, as you say, we are bound
to grow older if we live, and we are also bound to be
something. Let me see now: if I could be a full-
blown general all at once, I wouldn't mind being a
soldier. Or I wouldn't mind being a great African
traveller; and again, I rather think a cow-boy's life
would suit me, ranching in Canada, or roughing it
among the Rocky Mountains, a fine horse to ride, a
SNO WED UP
broad sombrero on my head, and a couple of revolvers
in my belt. Or'-
The stranger interrupted him by laughing aloud.
'Ha! lad,' he said, 'you want to jump into some-
thing good all at once. Now, I tell you straight it
isn't to be done. You have got to buy your experience,
if you mean doing anything that is great or good, and,
what is more, money won't pay for experience. You've
got to work.'
Oh, bother work. One works enough at school,
doesn't one ?'
Once more the stranger laughed.
'You think so, doubtless; and having bidden fare-
well to the drudgery of the school-desk, having shaken
from your soles the dust of the schoolroom, you want
to rush off to the best tailor, the best gunsmith, the
best fishing-tackle maker, and having rigged yourself
out with the best of everything, start off at once to do
something. And do you know what you'd be ? '
'What ? '
'An arrant humbug. You would look so, and feel
so, and be right-down miserable in consequence. My
dear boys, let me tell you this: bare hands and hard
knuckles are the best passports to success. Honest
work is the only real happiness in this world, and hard
work is the high road and the royal road to nearly
everything here below.'
'Have you worked hard?' Edgar asked the
Before he could answer, the train slowed and finally
There was no station here, however. And now
nothing was to be heard but the mournful moaning of
the snow-wind, while the powdery drift sifted in
through every crevice, and the oil in the lamp over-
head grew thick and white with the intensity of the
Presently the lee door of the carriage was opened,
and the guard appeared.
'We must make the best of a bad job,' he said.
'We can't go on, and we can't go back. We're
i8 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
snowed up. But, anyway, they'll dig us out. I'll look
in now and then to see how you're getting on, and to
bring you a foot-warmer.'
And once more the door was shut.
'My poor old aunts !' said Edgar, 'what will they
think ? '
The cold seemed to get more and more bitter every
minute. The boys sat up like Turks on the seats, and
wrapped their plaids around them. The stranger lit
But very drearily sounded the snow-wind; and
presently the lamp went out-for the oil was frozen-
and the darkness was a darkness intense.
The situation was certainly a trying one, but the
worst had yet to come.
MYRTLE COTTAGE. TOM CARTER MAKES AN IMPRESSION
AKE the best of a bad job ? Wasn't that
what the guard said, sir ?'
S It was Kenneth M'Crimmon's voice,
and if it had not been for the fact that
the cold made his teeth chatter somewhat,
I could have said there was a merry ring
in it. V
'Bravo, Kenneth !' said the stranger, 'if you'll let
me call you by your Christian name.'
'Oh, do so by all means. I feel as if I had known
you for forty years, more or less.'
'Well, Kenneth, I simply said "Bravo!" and I
repeat it. "Bravo! There Though I can't ,see
you, I know there is a real bright sparkle in your eye,
and that you are not shamming. Kenneth, I believe
you would improve upon acquaintance. I believe, now,
that if a lad like you were really to commence to work
-say abroad somewhere-you would soon begin to
appreciate the blessings of toil, and that in time you
would build yourself a fortune. At first I thought you
hadn't ballast enough, and that you could far more
easily spend thousands than make them.'
'That I'm sure I could.'
'Don't be so certain, my lad; I believe now there
is the makings of a very good settler in you.'
20 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
If I know myself, then, I believe that settling is
about the last thing I should think about in this world.'
Well, we shall all settle finally, though that sort of
settling will be done for us.'
What would you think of me as a settler ?' Edgar
My dear lad, I haven't been studying you quite so
much as your friend. But to answer off-hand, I should
say you would be far more easily managed than
'But now, boys, I have a proposal to make.'
'Well, it is this. If I have judged you aright, I
am certain you did not leave Edinburgh without bring-
ing a bite in your haversacks. I know I never leave
home without taking some provender with me. Old
traveller, you know, and one never can tell where one
may tumble over a hungry hillock.' Now I'm going to
light a candle which I have in a lamp here, as our oil
has got frozen. Then, what say you to a good, honest
'The very thought of it makes me hungry,' said
'And I,' said Edgar, 'feel hungry from suggestion.'
The stranger now lit a match and then a reading-
lamp, which he stuck on the back of a seat.
'Oh, this is nice,' said Edgar, 'though I do wish it
were not so cold.'
'Never mind the cold. We will banish that. But,
first and foremost, let us be formally introduced to
each other. I'm Thomas Carter, plain Tom Carter if
you choose, and I'm an ostrich farmer from the Cape,
on my way home to see an aged father I may never see
'I'm Edgar Elliott, the son of a general who died,
sword in hand, fighting for his country.'
Tom Carter grasped his hand in silence.
1 Superstitious people in Scotland believe that, when on a
journey, it is possible to stumble across a kind of fairy knoll which
causes inordinate hunger. This is called a hungry hillock.'
And I'm Kenneth M'Crimmon, a penniless lad wi'
a long pedigree.'
'Don't believe quite all my friend says,' said Edgar.
He is the youngest son of a chief, and being the
youngest, will not of course be so wealthy as his
brothers, who had the good or ill-fortune to be born
before him; but as soon as Kenneth chooses a pro-
fession, there are a good many thousands of pounds
ready to be placed to his credit; while I-well, I shall
have the interest of a little nest-egg that will scarce
bring me in seventy pounds a year.'
'But you have health, my lad-bless the Lord for
that! And I can see by your eyes you have the will
and the determination to work and struggle. You'll do
'Is that your verdict, sir ?'
'I think it is, and I believe I can confirm it when I
see you eat.'
As he spoke, Tom Carter opened a square box and
produced a huge tin of coffee.
'More here,' he said, 'than I could drink in a week.
Look, lads. This coffee is all ready for drinking as
soon as I warm it, and I have here a spirits-of-wine
stove for that very purpose.'
'Well,' said Kenneth, 'I must admit the idea is a
very excellent one, but'-
I should not bother about it. I should just drink it
cold and save trouble.'
'Ah but, my lad, man's whole life is a struggle
with disease and death, and the farther at bay we keep
them the longer we shall live and the happier we shall
be. I have learned that by experience.'
And now, with excellent sandwiches and good hot
coffee, to say nothing of cold pie, the friendly trio
managed to make a hearty supper, and felt all the
stronger and happier after it.
I may as well confess to you, however, that Carter
took a modicum of rum in his last horn of coffee.
I won't offer you any, boys,' he said, 'and if no
man ever drank more than Tom Carter, the world
22 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
would be all the better. But, moreover, no man should
ever touch wine, spirits, or tobacco until he is thirty;
and even then the two former should be more medicinal
than anything else, and only taken with food. But
there, boys, I'm not going to preach.'
'No, pray don't, sir,' said Kenneth ; rather tell us a
story. I, for one, don't feel much inclined to sleep.
But, I say, Edgar, it isn't quite so cold now, is it?'
'No, and don't you think that the wind has gone
down ? '
It seems more far-away-like,' said Carter. 'And
now, if you don't mind, I shall put out the light.
We had best keep this candle till we really want it, you
know, for it certainly would not burn till morning light.'
After he had extinguished the light, whether owing
to the darkness or not I shall not presume to say, none
of the trio felt much inclined to talk. Once more
burying themselves in rugs and plaids and ulsters,
they had huddled up Turkish fashion on the seats, and
presently all had sunk into a kind of uneasy sleep or
The time went slowly by ; the guard came not near
them again. He had one good reason for not doing
so: he was unable to leave his van. Meanwhile the
silence in that first-class compartment became intense.
Where was the wind ? Where the howling storm and
the drifting snow? Where, too, I may add, the cold?
Kenneth was the first to awake. He did so with a
strange, choking sensation in his throat, an oppression
on his chest, a gasping for breath.
'Edgar!' he called, and his voice seemed a mile
away at least-' Edgar, are you there? Are you
awake ? '
'Ye-ye-yes.' Edgar's voice too appeared far
away. I'm awake, I think. But where are we? Oh,
I remember. And I've had such fearful dreams. How
terrible this darkness is! I feel choking for breath,
'I will light the candle now,' said a voice in the far
corner. It was Carter's.
The night,' he added, 'must be far spent.'
He lit a match as he spoke, and then his little lamp.
Then he glanced at his watch.,
Why, it is nearly four o'clock!'
'And look, look at the white windows!' cried
Edgar. 'I declare we are buried alive! Oh, it is
Be calm, Edgar-be calm, lad. In every situation
in life in which it is possible for a man to be placed,
however trying or terrible, calmness of mind is to be
counselled. The moment one loses one's coolness or
sangfroid, one loses all nerve, and is then on a par
with the merest schoolgirl.'
'But I feel choking,' said Edgar, 'and though I
will try to be calm, it is a fearful thing to be smothered
thus! The air in the compartment cannot hold out
True; and see, your friend Kenneth seems to have
succumbed somewhat. He has fallen asleep. But
come, we must make a struggle. While there is life
there is hope. And already they are doubtless digging
us out. This is the lee door; let us try to open that.'
They did succeed in forcing it open a few inches, and
even this was some little relief.
Then Tom Carter endeavoured to get the window
down, but it was frozen hard and fast. The snow, how-
ever, was by no means hard. Indeed, it was loose, so
once more an attempt was made to force open the
door. All in vain.
I have it !' cried Carter, re-closing the door. 'Two
heads are better than one.'
Then he seized the foot-warmer, and with it smashed
the window. The glass fell mostly outwards, but Tom
kept hammering away all around till he had removed
every cutting edge. After this he emptied the water,
which was still warm, over the window. This gave
more space-just what Mr. Carter wanted. Snow kept
falling down from the bank above, and as it fell he
kept hammering it down hard towards the footboard,
and as soon as he was tired Edgar took his place;
not, however, before he had cast one glance full of
24 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
anxiety towards his friend and companion, Kenneth
M'Crimmon. The lad's head was thrown back, his
mouth and eyes were partially open, the perspiration
stood in beads on his brow, and his face looked pale
indeed in the dim and uncertain light of the candle.
His breathing was also irregular, and appeared to come
in sobs and sighs; so, on the whole, it is no wonder
that Edgar was alarmed.
But Carter spoke words to him that were very
'Fresh air,' he said, 'is all we need, and that we
soon will have.'
Then he pointed to the window, and, although feeble
and almost fainting himself, Edgar at once set to work
again, with a will too.
'That's right, lad,' cried Carter, 'that's right.
You've got the grit in you !'
'Now,' he added, after the boy had gone at it for
some five or ten minutes, during which time Tom
Carter himself had been pulling down the snow from
the top with a fishing-rod in case-' Now, Edgar, go
and fan your friend, and I will have a spell.'
'Hurrah!' he cried, a short time afterwards.
'Hurrah! I have effected communication with the
outer world, and we are saved.'
Oh, what a glorious, life-giving gush of cold fresh air
that was, that now invaded the compartment It would
be difficult indeed to describe the almost instantaneous
change, both mental and physical, that took place in
Edgar and Carter.
For a few moments their feelings were joyful in the
extreme. They were ecstatic. They could but sit
there inhaling the air in gulps, and smiling. But
Kenneth's face now assumed its wonted colour, and
with a long-drawn sigh he opened his eyes and
He gazed somewhat wildly around him at first, then
smiled as he stretched out a hand towards his friend
'It's all right, isn't it?' he said. 'But I've had
such a fearful dream What a fool I was to fall
asleep, for not for days will I be able to shake off the
terror of that dream.'
Well, it is all right now, lad,' said Carter. Hark
to the roar of the wind That means our salvation,
and we must keep open our communication with the
outer air. Cheer up, boys ; it won't be long now before
the relief comes.'
And truth to tell, at this very moment a gang of
sturdy Highlanders, with Macgregor himself at their
head, was gradually working its way towards our
entombed heroes, and in less than an hour they were
being piloted and helped along the road towards the
cosy hostelry of Drumardo.
The landlord himself accompanied them, for they
were about the last to be relieved.
'There hasn't been such a storm,' he told them,
with something very like exultation in his voice, 'not
for ten long years and over, and it's myself that will
have enough to do to find food for the thirty-and-two
passengers, till the line is cleared and open once
again. But I'll manage, I'll manage ; for sure, aren't
there sheepies to kill and pigs galore and eggs and
poultry? What more could anybody desire in this
world? Ah Heaven is mindful; and sure, it is
Providence that sends the snow.'
I doubt very much if the storm-stayed passengers
took quite the same view of matters as Macgregor the
hotel-keeper did ; however, the man was candid, and
after all, everyone, I fear, consults his own interests
in this world, and hardly thinks enough about his
The storm continued for two days more with un-
abated violence; it was a blizzard of the wildest
description. The snow-wind came raging down from
the mountain-tops in squalls and gusts, laden with ice-
dust that penetrated everywhere. The roads now were
rendered quite impassable by wreaths of snow, that
were tall enough to bid defiance to man and beast. And
lucky indeed did those storm-stayed passengers think
themselves, to be safe and snug in so comfortable a
28 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
hostelry as that of Macgregor's of Drumardo. The
fare, it is true, might be plain, but it was both whole-
some and abundant, and everything was clean and
dry. Huge fires of wood and peats and coal were kept
up in every room, although these barely succeeded in
keeping out the almost Arctic cold.
Macgregor, moreover, did everything he could, not
only to cater for the creature comforts of his guests,
but to amuse them as well. There were ladies and
gentlemen both among them, and the host was not
long in discovering that there was a fair amount of
musical talent also, which he determined should not
remain latent. So he got up concerts and even dances,
while the older people went in for chats in quiet
corners. Many ladies were heard to say that the whole
adventure was quite a romantic one, and that they
wouldn't have missed it for anything.
The three friends, Edgar, Kenneth, and Carter, were
quartered in one large room together, and during the
three days that elapsed before it was possible to
journey the six miles that lay twixtt Drumardo and
Myrtle Cottage, a very strong friendship indeed was
cemented between the boys and the ostrich farmer.
Over and over again they made him tell stories of his
life and adventures in South Africa, and this he seemed
by no means loth to do, although in language free from
any striving after effect, but simple and conversational.
Somehow, the homeliness of his diction lent his
narratives additional charm to both Edgar and
Kenneth. But it is worthy of remark that it appeared
to be home and farm life that interested the former
more, and it was only when Tom Carter spoke of his
adventures among wild beasts and wilder men that
Kenneth M'Crimmon's eyes began to sparkle in
earnest, and he leant eagerly towards the African
farmer and traveller, with parted lips and bated
'Oh,' said Kenneth, on the evening of the second
day, just as Carter had finished an exciting tale of
adventure with a lion-' Oh, I should so like to go
out with you and have wild adventures like these '
MYRTLE COTTAGE 29
'I,' said Edgar, 'would also like an adventure
now and then, but I do believe that I should prefer to
settle down and become an ostrich farmer like yourself,
I'll tell you what it is,' he added, 'as soon as the
roads are passable, you must come right away over
with us to Myrtle Cottage. Macgregor says it will be
weeks before the line is open. Well, as you cannot
leave this wild country before it is, you may just as
well spend the Christmas with us. And you can talk
to my aunts about it.'
'How disappointed my dear old dad will be !'
'True; but then it can't be helped, and my aunts
will make you welcome. Promise me to come.'
And so it came to pass that, as soon as the wind fell
somewhat, and it was possible to get beyond the
threshold of the hotel without fear of choking,
accompanied by bold Macgregor himself, the trio,
armed with tall alpenstocks and well wrapped in their
Highland plaids, sallied forth, and, after a toilsome
and a dangerous journey, arrived safe and sound at
the pretty cottage with the oriel windows, and were
heartily, nay almost hysterically, welcomed by Edgar's
Macgregor could not be prevailed upon to stay for
dinner. He must hurry back and reach Drumardo
before the short day ended in black-dark night; so he
contented himself with a bite of bread and cheese and
a quaigh' of the wine of the country, then, promising
to return soon, muffled himself up to the eyes in his
plaid, grasped his tall crook, and was gone.
If Tom Carter had charmed the boys, much more did
he charm Edgar's aunts. He seemed to lay himself
out to please. His conversational powers were certainly
of no mean order, and the best of it was that all his
anecdotes, of which he had quite a store, were true
relations of his own life and experience.
Carter told them drolly and humorously, too. No
wonder that, during dessert that evening, Ruth
30 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
declared it her belief that she had laughed more in one
night than she had done in her whole life before.
Before retiring for the night, Rebecca looked at
Ruth, and Ruth, getting up from her seat, left the
room for a few minutes, and presently returned with
Mary, who bore in her hands a large family Bible and
a book of prayers.
'I'm sure, Mr. Carter,' said Rebecca, 'you'll
excuse our old-fashioned ways, won't you? We never
do go to bed till we read a little. Besides, it is the
holy Christmas time, and '-
'Say not another word, dear madam. Oh, don't I
love the custom It was taught me first in my dear
old father's house at home, and I have kept it up
myself ever since, even in the wilds of Africa.'
In half an hour more all was still in and around
Myrtle Cottage, saving the voice of the snow-wind
that still blew high and fierce from off the Nor'land
hills, and made mournful music around the dwelling.
'EDGAR,' SHE SAID, 'YOU ARE MY BROTHER'S BOY'
SHAVE been sitting here for the last five
minutes, reader, chewing the end of my
penholder and wondering whether or not
SI have given you the impression that
the Miss Elliotts-or, to speak more
S" grammatically, the Misses Elliott-were
very old ladies. Certainly I could at once
solve my difficulty and become quite clear on the matter
by referring to Chapter I. But is it at all likely that I
am going to leave my comfortable seat in the shade of my
wigwam verandah, on such a broiling hot day as this-
July 5, 1894-and make a pilgrimage indoors to find
out the age of any lady whatever? I should smile.
But we young people-ahem !-are only too apt to
consider anyone verging on forty as very old indeed.
Now, it is quite true that Rebecca Elliott was a few
years on the shady side of her fourth decade, and would
not have thought of denying the fact to whomsoever it
might concern; but Ruth was at least ten years her
'Quite a baby to me, bless you,' Rebecca frequently
told her-a remark that Ruth never failed to take as
a little compliment, and one that used to make her go
fussing around for fully half an hour in quite an airy
and girlish manner.
32 IN THE LAND OF THIE LION
Now, entire nous, which is French for 'tween you
and me and the binnacle,' although neither of these
ladies was tremendously old, both were getting
tremendously rusty. Mind you this, reader-and it is
a fact worth remembering all the days and years of
your life-so long as you keep in the world, so long as
you keep working, you will never get really old ; but if
you think yourself old when you are about fifty, say,
and get out of harness, rust will soon seize you, and
you will begin to grow old in earnest.
Well, as I have said, it was this way with the Misses
Elliott. They had gone on the shelf before their time ;
they had permitted themselves to be thrown aside like
a couple of disused razors-I confess the simile is not
complimentary to the ladies-and had in consequence
lost somewhat of their brightness and sharpness, and
dark spots had seized upon them and begun-mind, I
only say begun-to eat their lives away. How could
it be otherwise? Glen Rowan was a lovely glen, it is
true. Oh to see the drooping birches wet with dew
that clothed its bonnie brae-lands in spring; and oh!
to see the crimson heather on its hilltops when autumn
was in its prime. But Glen Rowan, figuratively speak-
ing, was situated at the back of the north wind,
nevertheless. What society was there in it at all to
keep one from rusting? Why, none worth talking
about. To be sure, the Tomlinsons had a shooting
box at the head of the strath, and came there in grouse
time. Rich English people were the Tomlinsons, but
certainly not high bred. They sometimes misplaced
their 'h's,' and they always said Edingburgh. Dreadful!
But then the Elliotts took pity on them, and did go to
their dinners and tennis-parties and all that. Then,
again, there were the doctor and the minister, or I should
rather say the minister and the doctor. These, like the
poor, the Elliotts had always with them. A cheery,
old, stout, white-haired soul was the minister, and both
he and the doctor met very often on week-day evenings
at Myrtle Cottage, and settled down quite naturally to
an innocent game or two. But the conversation of
neither gentleman was of a very elevating character, if
'YOU ARE MY BROTHER'S BOY'
only for the fact that it ran always in the same groove,
and because only one newspaper, and that a weekly,
ever came to Glen Rowan.
So it must be confessed that life in the glen was
very slow indeed ; but did not the very fact that Edgar's
biennial arrival at the cottage created quite a sensation
and commotion prove that Nature, on behalf of the two
old maids, did crave for a little more excitement, and
did evince an inclination to rub off the rust that had
settled on it, and come out once more sparkling and
bright? This, at all events, is my opinion. And I
believe it receives corroboration from other circum-
stances, trivial in themselves though they may appear.
Though, then, the younger Miss Elliott might be
said to have been taken rather aback by the unexpected
arrival of Mr. Carter at Myrtle Cottage, and in con-
sequence had to appear at dinner the first evening in
the same somewhat sable, if not sad, costume she
would have donned to meet the doctor, next forenoon
found her overhauling her wardrobe in the presence of
Mary Brown herself, whom she had elected to consult
as to what dresses she ought to wear for luncheon and
dinner, or, in other words, what she would look best in.
' I thought I would ask you, Mary,' she said, in a burst
of confidence, 'in preference to my sister, whose ideas
of dress are naturally a trifle antiquated. But I want,
you know, to look as nice as I can before the boys.'
'Besides, miss,' said Mary, 'there is that foreign
Oh, as for Mr. Carter, he doesn't count, Mary.'
As she spoke Ruth tossed her head coquettishly, and
the slightest approach to a blush for a moment or two
lit up her face.
Well-I don't know, you know, Miss Ruth; but if
I was asked, I'd say that Mr. Carter is just the nicest
gentleman we've seen in Myrtle Cottage for many's the
long day; and he met me right pleasantly, miss, and
gave me half a crown!'
'Oh, Mary, I'm shocked! What would my sister
say? But what do you think of the moire antique,
34 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
'Far too old for you, Miss Ruth. Why, you're no
age at all, and I never saw you look younger than you
did last night.'
'Did I look young, Mary ? '
This was a somewhat doubtful compliment, but Ruth
was busy taking dress after dress out of drawers and
wardrobe and unfolding them for inspection, while the
air of the whole room became redolent of wild herbs, a
comrminglement of the odours of bog-myrtle, thyme,
southernwood, and lavender.
When Ruth sailed into the drawing-room that evening
Rebecca hardly knew her, and had to adjust her glasses
over her nose before she could be quite certain it was
her own sister.
But she was none the less pleased with her appear-
ance, for there certainly was no feeling of jealousy
betwixt these sisters twain.
The doctor was here to-night and took Rebecca in
to dinner, Carter taking Ruth, and Edgar gallantly
giving an arm to Kenneth.
But for once in his lifetime the doctor had to play
second fiddle. Several times in the course of the
evening Rebecca noticed this good surgeon's eyes
resting almost admiringly on Ruth. At one time it had
been whispered that he and Ruth were going to make
a match of it, but the rumour died a natural death ; the
doctor remained single, and so did Ruth.
Tom Carter was in fine form after dinner. Oh, not
from wine-don't imagine it-but simply with health
and animal spirits.
But Dr. Walsh had to go early; then the party
resolved itself into a fireside one, and a very happy one,
too, it was.
A roaring fire had been built in the drawing-room,
and round it gathered all hands, including Bran the
collie, and the cat.
Edgar managed very neatly to turn the conversation
to the subject of ostrich farming. He had a reason for
this, which was as follows: he had made up his mind
to emigrate to the South African Colonies and try his
'YOU ARE MY BROTHER'S BOY'
fortune among the ostriches. It was a kind of career
that commended itself to him for a great many reasons.
He was fond of a country life; he was fond of horses
and riding, fond of sport; and, within certain bounds,
he was fond of adventure too. But he looked up to his
aunts with the same amount of respect with which he
would have treated his parents, had they been alive.
He would do nothing against their wishes. Nor did
he himself like to broach to them the subject he now
had next his heart. He thought it would be ever so
much better if his newly found friend, Tom Carter,
should do so.
'And you really like the lonesome, dreary, and
dangerous life you have adopted in South Africa?' said
Oh, I not only like it, madam, I love it, and would
not exchange it for any I know. But, dear Miss Elliott,
your three adjectives, "lonesome," "dreary," and
"dangerous," in no way apply to it. It is not one
tithe so lonesome as the life you and your worthy sister
lead here in Glen Rowan; it is not by any means so
dreary; and there is no danger about it at all.'
What ?' cried Rebecca, lifting up her mitted hands,
'do you not live in the uttermost regions of the
earth, far, far away from civilisation of every sort, and
are you not constantly exposed to dangers of the most
dreadful kind? Are you not liable to be borne away
into the jungle at any moment in the jaws of a living
lion? Are you not liable to attacks by howling
Hottentots, painted Caffres, and dancing Dervishes?
Do not the woods around you resound all night long
with the roar of wild beasts, and the grass by day with
the hissings of venomous snakes ? Are not the alligator
and the python and the hyena ever lying in wait to
'Oh, Miss Elliott, Miss Elliott, pray let me speak;
and pray pardon me for saying that you have fallen
into grievous error altogether concerning the Karroo.'
'The Karroo, Mr. Carter? And pray what may that
'It is a name given to the district lying some
36 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
distance in the interior of Cape Colony. It is so
named after a curious kind of grass that grows there.
It was in this district, Miss Elliott, where I first learned
the secret of ostrich farming. It is in this district
where my farm now is. And to-morrow forenoon, if
you will allow me, I will show you specimens of ostrich
feathers from my own birds, that are considered by
judges to be almost priceless.
But let me tell you now a little about my farm itself,
and about the climate of the country, and the kind of
life we lead out in the bright, bracing, and sunny
Then Tom Carter got fairly launched into his hobby,
and such a picture did he draw that he verily appeared
to be inspired while he talked; and not only did Edgar
and Kenneth listen with rapt attention, but Rebecca
and Ruth themselves, and even Mary Brown, who, in
snow-white apron and neatly braided hair, stood
modestly behind, yet not far away from the circle, while
Mr. Carter talked.
When he had finished, Mary heaved a deep sigh.
A penny for your thoughts, Mary,' said Mr. Carter,
'Oh,' said Mary, 'they're maybe not worth a
penny; but if I was only a young man, instead of a
helpless girl-if I was a young fellow like Master
Edgar there, or like Master Kenneth-oh, then it is off
to the Koh-roo I should be like a shot.'
Well, but, Mary, I have already made up my mind
This from Edgar.
So have I,' said Kenneth quietly.
Both looked at the fire as they spoke; but Aunt
Rebecca's eyes grew a trifle larger and rounder, as she
gazed from one to the other, and then inquiringly at
her sister Ruth.
'Dear me,' said Aunt Rebecca, 'I never dreamt of
this. Tell me, Ruth, am I dreaming?'
It was now Tom Carter's turn to throw in another
word or two, which I think he did with considerable tact.
Boys will be boys, Miss Elliott,' he said, smiling.
'YOU ARE MY BROTHER'S BOY'
'True, true, Mr. Carter,' said Rebecca.
But boys will be men, you know !'
Aunt Rebecca sighed.
'We cannot keep them always boys, you should
remember, and if men they must be-if, I say, they
must enter the arena of manhood and fight the battle
of life single-handed-it is, I think, our duty to do all
we can to give them a good chance of winning.'
He paused for a moment, and again Aunt Rebecca
One mistake, I think, Miss Elliott, that we elder
folks constantly make, is that of keeping our boys with
us as boys too long. It is far better, believe me, to let
them take up the reins of their own career while their
strength and energies are still green and fresh.'
As if she hardly heard or heeded what Tom Carter
was saying, Aunt Rebecca now leant over towards
Edgar, and laid her hand upon his arm.
'Edgar,' she said, 'you are my brother's boy. You
have all my brother's fire and courage in you-of this I
am convinced; and I, too, old though I may be, have a
spice of my soldier brother's fearlessness in me. We
-your Aunt Ruth and I-love you ; you are all on earth
we have to love; but, dear boy, if you long to begin
life, if your heart is in this profession of ostrich farming,
instead of trying to be a hindrance to you, we will
bear our own sorrow as best we may, and we shall let
Edgar's eyes sought those of his aunt now, and they
were suffused with tears, so that he scarce could see
Good, kind, brave aunt!' was all he could say, and
all he tried to say.
'The parting will be a sad one,' Aunt Rebecca
continued slowly. 'It will almost break our hearts-
Ruth's and mine. But'-
Woman-like, Aunt Rebecca now burst into a flood of
Stay, stay cried Tom Carter. Why should there
be any parting about it? Miss Elliott and Miss Ruth
Elliott, what I have to propose may seem impracticable;
38 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
it is not only feasible, however, but most sensible-and
it is that you should both come out with Edgar, and
live for a time with him and see him settled.'
'I am too old,' said Rebecca.
'On the contrary, Miss Elliott, the voyage and the
exceeding newness of the life you will enjoy will give
you quite a fresh lease of life. As for Miss Ruth, I
know she will side with me.'
'Oh, Mr. Carter, I should like to go with Edgar
very much indeed. I think, from all your descriptions
of it, which I trust are not merely utopian, your life
on an ostrich farm must be perfectly idyllic.'
When the creatures don't kick!' said Rebecca,
speaking more to herself than to anyone else. But
everybody laughed, and the little fireside party im-
mediately after this resolved itself into a committee of
ways and means, and everyone was surprised indeed
when the silver-tongued clock on the mantelpiece
proclaimed the hour of two.
Nevertheless, before they retired that night, it was
all but arranged that Edgar at least should try his
hand at ostrich farming, and that, if it were possible
and could be easily managed, his aunts should go out
with him and stay with him until he was either tired
of this species of life and willing to give it up, or until
he had settled down and determined to stay.
Tom Carter had brought only the lightest portion
of his luggage from the hotel to Myrtle Cottage, on
the backs of two sturdy gillies.
Well, next day-and, by the way, it was Christmas
Day-after breakfast, Tom Carter said with a smile to
Rebecca, 'Now, dear lady, if you would like to have
a peep at the kind of living flowers we grow in the
Karroo, I shall be very pleased indeed to show you some.'
Mary happened to enter the room at this moment.
'Oh, Mary,' said Carter, 'would you mind running
upstairs to my room, and bringing down a buff-painted
box you will find there.'
'Shall I get Donald to help me, sir? '
No, Mary, the box is full of feathers; a child could
'YOU ARE MY BROTHER'S BOY'
In ten minutes Mary had returned, and Tom Carter,
looking as proud and happy as a schoolboy who has
won first prize, took case after case of the most lovely
drooping ostrich feathers from the box and arranged
them on the table. The feathers were all stuck in
velvet frames about as large as six-inch flower-pots cut
in two. Each case formed a splendid plume; each
feather was broad and soft, fluffy and curling, and
each case as tall as, or taller than, a Highlander's
bonnet and plumes. They were of all kinds. Here,
for instance, was a case of chicken feathers; here a
glorious group of females' tail feathers; here were
grey feathers, here sable, and here a gorgeous array
of pure white.
These were all natural; but Carter placed beside
them many beautiful cases of dyed feathers, orange,
blue, crimson, and several other shades.
Then he stood back a little way from the table, with
his hands clasped, his head a trifle on one side, and a
pleased smile on his well-bronzed face.
Both Rebecca and Ruth appeared struck dumb with
amazement and wonder. The elder sister, indeed, had
turned her palms up, as if to shield herself from a sight
that was all too dazzling. She would have turned
the whites of her eyes up as well, but they were
irresistibly drawn towards those gorgeous ostrich
It was some minutes, indeed, before Aunt Rebecca
could utter a word, and then it was a text from
'"Turn Thou away mine eyes,"' she said, '"from
But Mary Brown prayed no such prayer. She was
quite content to feast her eyes on the feather show,
vanity or not vanity.
'Mingie! Mingie! Oh dear me!' she cried, 'and
all this comes from the Koh-roo! Oh, why wasn't I
born a boy, just?'
Ruth touched the feathers with her finger-tips, as if
half afraid of them; she leaned over them as if they
were real flowers and she wanted to inhale their
40 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
perfume. She even caressed them with her cheek.
But she did not say much.
'Auntie,' said Edgar, coming forward now and taking
Rebecca's hand, 'can you wonder at my ambition?
Can you wonder at my wishing to become an ostrich
Rebecca did not answer. She was smiling, though.
But she pressed Edgar's hand.
Then she placed his hand in that of his new-found
friend, Tom Carter.
'I think,' she murmured, 'we'd best be guided by
So on this Christmas Day, the sight of those charming
cases of feathers completed for Edgar the victory Tom's
eloquence of the night before had so well begun.
THE 'EXODUS' OF REBECCA ELLIOTT
T was by no means a difficult matter to
find a tenant for Myrtle Cottage. It
i s true the furniture was a trifle old-
S,. fashioned, but for a summer or autumn
residence nothing could be better.
Macgregor himself, one day in early
spring, walked in the nearest direction
from Drumardo to the cottage, and that was pretty much
as the crow flies. He was accompanied by an English-
man who looked almost as strong and hearty as himself.
'Mr. Melville,' said Macgregor, 'an English artist,
who has painted many a pretty picture, Miss Elliott,
and thinks he would like to take your cottage.'
Mr. Melville lifted his hat and bowed, and Rebecca
dropped an old-fashioned curtsey.
'I hear, Miss Elliott,' said the artist, you are about
to emigrate for a time to the Cape Colony.'
'I am going down to the sea in ships,' was Rebecca's
reply. 'I am going, I and my household, upon the
bosom of the great deep. He who protects us from
danger on shore, sir, can encircle us on the mighty
waters, so that neither storm nor tempest may prevail
'Amen !' said Mr. Melville. I trust you will have
a most pleasant journey to the Cape, and find all your
42 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
desires when you reach your destination. And now,
if you please, we will go into business.'
Rebecca Elliott very soon convinced Mr. Melville that
she was by no means a bad business woman, as far
as the world goes. However, her demands, though
probably a little high, could scarcely be called
extortionate, and it ended in the artist becoming the
proprietor of Myrtle Cottage for a period of not less
than three years.
When the bargain was concluded, Rebecca heaved
a sigh of relief.
There is no going back now,' she said; and verily
I feel as if my long voyage had already commenced in
It is generally admitted that Scotch folk make very
good travellers, colonists, and men or women of the
world. A Scotsman's price is all he can get for his
'saxpence,' so, no doubt, is an Englishman's, but-
and it is a big 'but,' too-the latter does not always
manage to secure it. Therein lies the difference twixtt
the two nationalities. Your Englishman parts with
his sixpence trustingly, waiting to get its value; your
Scot holds out the 'saxpence' temptingly with his
left hand, while he secures the worth of it with his
Well, I daresay this is as it should be; nevertheless,
it really did seem a marvel, not only to Tom Carter,
but to everyone who came in contact with her, where on
earth Miss Rebecca Elliott had gained all the business
tact and knowledge of the world which she gave evidence
of, from the very first day she came to Glasgow to
secure passages for herself and party to the far-distant
Cape of Good Hope. It is true the good lady had
not been all the days and years of her life in Glen
Rowan, yet the oldest inhabitant remembered her
coming there, or being brought there by her soldier
brother, and remembered, too, that she was little
more then than a slip of a girl, and her sister a mere
Only a few days before Rebecca and her people took
THE 'EXODUS' OF REBECCA ELLIOTT 43
leave of[the glen-a departure which the good lady
would persist in calling an 'exodus'-Tom himself
called on his way south to Glasgow.
My dear Miss Elliott,' he said, I called, you know,
to see if I can be of any service to you. Mind, you are
to rely on me. I just want to save you all the trouble
Rebecca looked at him for a moment in silence
before she made reply, which she finally did as follows-
'My dear Mr. Carter, I am not only going to rely
upon myself, but I am going to do my duty from the
very first, and expect the whole exodus to rely upon
me. What or where would poor men folks be, I
wonder, if it were not for us womenkind ?'
Mr. Carter smiled, but confessed he didn't know;
and so from that moment Rebecca might have been
said to take up the reins.
Two days previous to the exodus, Kenneth
M'Crimmon arrived at Myrtle Cottage. He came all
'Is it possible,' said Rebecca, 'is it possible, my
dear boy, that none of your people mean to see you
It is quite unnecessary,' he replied. 'And, in fact,
father is this moment on the Continent, you must know.
Well, I have no mother'-
'Poor boy, let me be your mother !'
'And I have no sisters. As for father, he looks upon
my trip to the Cape as a mere whim of mine. "Young
men," he says, "will sow their wild oats"; and he is
rather pleased than otherwise that the system I have
adopted of sowing mine has taken so sensible a form.
He believes I will gain experience and profit thereby,
and that I will return a sadder and a wiser man; but
he does not for a moment believe that I shall make a
fortune out of feathers,-these are his own words, Miss
Elliott,-if I do, he adds, it will be an exceedingly light
one. However, he has placed some money to my credit
with a Cape banking company, and he gives me his
blessing-that is, as far as a blessing can be given in
44 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
half a sheet of notepaper, surmounted by the coat of
arms of the chief of the M'Crimmons.
'So you perceive, Miss Elliott, I am a free agent;
and oh, don't I rejoice in my freedom just! I am so
very happy that I can hardly go to sleep at night. I
have got to lie awake just to laugh. Aren't you happy
'Oh yes, and hopeful; only'-he glanced lovingly
towards his aunt as he spoke-' I'm not quite such a
free agent as you, Kenneth.'
'And you don't want to be, either, I am perfectly
sure,' said his aunt. 'Boys have no right to be free
agents, nor agents of any sort. Ah, here comes
Macgregor. Talking about agents, he is going to
look after things for me in my absence. Aren't you,
'I'm going to do the very best I can, Miss Elliott;
but sure, the glen won't seem the same when you're
out of it. And many is the prayer your neighbours
will pray, miss, that Providence may send you safe
back again among them.'
By letter Rebecca had taken a suite of apartments
at a hotel not a million miles from the Broomielaw,
from which the good ship Ishmaelite would soon sail
for the Cape of Good Hope.
'Shall I take the dog round to the stable, madam?'
This from the head waiter of the hotel.
Rebecca looked at him in astonishment.
He'll be very comfortable there, madam-nice loose
box, plenty of straw '-
Young man,' said Rebecca, with a withering glance,
'who made thee a judge or ruler over us ? Bran never
slept on straw in his life. Bran never will. Bran is
one of us, and if he is not welcome to his place in the
apartments we have taken, it isn't too late yet to go
The waiter apologised and smoothed Bran's bonnie
brow, admitting that he certainly was the wisest-looking
dog he had seen for many a day.
Then there was peace.
THE 'EXODUS' OF REBECCA ELLIOTT 45
The Ishmaelite was a clipper-built ship, not a steam-
boat. It was Rebecca's special desire they should
make the exodus in a sailing ship.
'There is no extra hurry,' she said; 'we'll have
peace and quiet, and no fear of an explosion. For,
from all I read in the Glasgow Weekly Herald, your
steamboats make a point of blowing themselves up
and going straight to the bottom once a week at the
Before she had been three hours in the city, Rebecca
had obtained an interview with Captain Drake on
board the Ishmaelite.
She found him and his mate very busy indeed, with-
notebooks in their hands, superintending the shipping
of cargo. The hatches were open, a donkey-engine
was busy at work, and while great bale of goods after
great bale came floating through the air at the point
of the crane, the rattling of chains, the shouting of
orders, and the din were deafening. The decks, both
fore and aft, were littered with casks and boxes, so
that, even though piloted by Tom Carter himself,
Rebecca had the greatest difficulty in finding her way
aft to the companion.
The captain received her with a smile and a bow, and
asked her to come below.
Of course,' she said, you'll tidy up a bit before you
'Oh yes, certainly,' he answered, with a smile;
'it would never do to go to sea as we are. You won't
know the old ship when you take up your berth, Miss
Elliott. Steward, the biscuits and tumblers '
Is the vessel very old ? Rebecca ventured to ask.
'Old, madam? Oh dear no; she is almost a new
ship. Ah! you won't be long on board, Miss Elliott,
before you learn that "old" is merely a term of
endearment among British sailors.'
As he spoke, he helped himself to a little rum in a
tumbler, then pushed the cruet across the table to Miss
Rebecca smiled and shook her head.
'Well, well, well,' said the skipper. 'What a silly
46 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
old fool I am, to be sure! A thousand pardons,
madam ; but really, we-that is, my mate and I-are so
unused to ladies' society, we are apt to do the oddest
And this is your cabin, Captain Drake? How snug
everything is, and everything in its place! And
everything so clean, too.'
'Well, you know, sailors are proverbially tidy; but,
to add to my comfort, I have a wife who goes to sea
'You need not have told me, Captain Drake-I
could have guessed it. And now can I see our own-
that is, the passengers' quarters ? '
'Oh, you are the only passengers, so it will be
strange indeed if we can't make you comfortable.
Yes, you can see them. Luckily, Mrs. Drake has seen
to having all that part of the ship ready. Sorry my
wife is on shore. If you had sent word'-
Oh, don't apologise; I can always get on quite as
well with men as with women.'
'The stewardess, too, is on shore. But this is the
saloon. You will perceive it is not only large but well
It is simply charming, and all those lovely lounges
too, and gilding, and mirrors, and hanging tables and
hanging fans. Why, it is like the interior of an
Eastern palace on a small scale.'
'I can't say; I haven't been there. But here,' he
added, 'are the state-rooms. Now, you will observe
that I have reserved the largest and best for yourself
and sister; but close to it here, and with a door
opening through, is your maid's room.'
'And those shelves, Captain Drake, are they the
'Those are the beds, or bunks. Oh, you will find
them quite large enough when you settle down to life
on board. Here are the gentlemen's state-rooms.
Mr. Carter's is aft here, and the two young men I
have put in the same cabin.'
And I have a young collie dog, Captain Drake, and
also a cat. What about these ? '
THE 'EXODUS' OF REBECCA ELLIOTT 47
'Oh, Mrs. Drake has a pug-dog and a cat. Both of
these have the run of the ship. But we are fond of
animals, and I am sure a nicely-lined basket can be
placed in your state-room, in which your pets can
'I really feel quite at home already, sir; many
'What tiny chests of drawers !' she added.
'Yes, they are not large. But your big boxes it will
be best to have all struck below.'
That means taken downstairs to the cellar, doesn't
'Well, I suppose it would mean something of that
sort; but any time, you know, that you want to open
your heavy baggage, by giving the mate a few hours'
warning, weather permitting, he will sling it up for
'I'm sure I shall soon get quite enamoured of a sea
life,' said Rebecca, 'and be sorry to leave it when we
reach the Cape.'
'You'll find it very pleasant after a spell, and I'm
sure Mrs. Drake will do all she can to put you up to
'But, Captain Drake, we passengers don't have
anything to do with the ropes, do we ?'
Oh no,' laughed the skipper, 'it is only a nautical
expression I make use of.'
'And now, Captain Drake, we shall say good-
afternoon, and a thousand thanks for your courtesy.'
I think that Tom Carter really was right in saying
that the experiences she would have would gain for
Miss Elliott a new lease of life. And, indeed, that
lease of life seemed to have been laid hold of days
before she and her party embarked. There appeared
to be no tiring her, and she wandered about all day
long, with her buxom maid Mary, and Bran, the
collie, among the shops, making necessary purchases.
Somehow she knew intuitively-or had she really
studied the matter in secret ?-the kind of things that
would be useful, not only on board ship, but out in the
48 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
colony, and whether or not these could be bought
more cheaply at home than abroad.
Indeed, as regards the purchase of outfits, she
constituted herself a kind of authority, and the boys
found it was impossible for them not to look up to her
So in many matters they were guided by her
But in one or two things Kenneth M'Crimmon took
his own counsel, and would listen to advice from none,
and one of these was the purchase of a sportsman's
I do not want either of my young heroes to be
accused of extravagance, consequently I will not say
all that those huge cases which came from the
gunsmith's, the fishing-tackle maker's, and general
outfitter's contained; I will only hint that they were
very heavy, and that, if every bullet has its billet, it
would be a poor lookout for a large number of zebras,
hartebeestes, elephants, and lions that were at that
moment roaming through the jungles or over the
plains all unconscious that a cloud was rising on the
horizon of their hitherto happy lives.
'Aren't you spending money needlessly?' Edgar
asked his friend one evening.
Kenneth was very quiet about the matter. He
smiled as he replied-
'Well, Edgar, it's like this, you know. I am, like
all my kith and kin, a roving-dispositioned boy, and if,
after I have stocked my ostrich farm and all that, and
things are going on swimmingly, I find it is just a wee
bit too slow for me, why, I'll get hold of a companion
and start up country in search of adventure. Perhaps
you, Edgar, may be that companion.'
Edgar laughed. 'Oh no,' he said, 'you must take
my Aunt Rebecca; I'm going to stick to farming. I
haven't a fortune to spend like you, dear old Ken.'
Oh, mine's a small one. But I really want to see a
bit of life. It does one good.'
An hour after this, while Kenneth was paying
another visit to a celebrated bootmaker, Tom Carter
THE 'EXODUS' OF REBECCA ELLIOTT 49
got hold of Edgar and took him for a stroll by the
Broomielaw, and gave him a good deal of counsel and
advice. It ended thus-
'Mind you, Edgar, that if I hadn't commenced
doing honest jobs of labour-carpentering, painting,
and building fences-I should never have been now
the independent man I am. I'm going to take you in
tow, lad; I want you to learn the business of farming
thoroughly, and to begin at the bottom rung of the
ladder. There is no fancy work about ostrich farming;
but there is a deal to learn, nevertheless, and there is a
good, square amount of hard work.'
'I'm not afraid of that.'
'No, I know you're not, and that is why I want you
to begin at the right end of the ladder.'
'The bottom, of course. The boy who begins at
the bottom, with nothing much on except a pair of
duck trousers and a red flannel shirt, rises and rises
and rises. The boy who begins at the top, with a tall
hat on and a Sunday's coat, has nothing to do but-
descend, and he generally succeeds admirably.'
Just the day before embarkation, Rebecca astonished
everybody by her nautical knowledge.
'Now, boys,' she said, 'and you, Ruth, remember
this, that all our heavy baggage will be struck down
below, but that if the mate has a few hours' warning,
and the weather permits, he will sling it up for us
about once a week. But in your small trunks, which
you will be permitted to take into your state-rooms
with you, you must have quite enough things to go on
with for a week at least. So to-morrow I shall hold an
inspection, just to see that you haven't forgotten
And so Aunt Rebecca did.
I may say here at once, before going any further,
that for good or for evil-for good, I do really think-
Tom Carter's influence was far greater over Edgar
Elliott than over Kenneth M'Crimmon. The latter
youth was really more of a Celt than was Elliott, more
50 IN THE LAND OF THE LION
hot-headed therefore, more impulsive, but kind-hearted
withal, and brave to a fault.
'You'll put these in a dry part of the ship,' said
Kenneth to the mate, as his heavy cases were being
hoisted on board. 'They are guns and tackle of
various sorts,' he added, with a little pride.
'I'll see they are kept as dry as a lady's muff, sir,'
said the mate.
Then came Edgar's cases.
What, more guns ?' cried the mate, laughing.
'No, mate, not this time. That is a tool-chest, and
I think about the best and most complete one ever
The mate looked at him with honest admiration,
then nodded his head.
You've got a good, sensible nut on your shoulders,
my lad,' he remarked.
'Oh, it isn't my nut that did it,' replied Edgar,
laughing, but Mr. Carter's. You see, he has been out
yonder before, and he knows precisely what is wanted
for a young man who has to work his way up.'
The mate looked at him for a moment or two, in
what I am bound to call silent admiration, for want of
a better term.
'You'll do, I think,' he said. I'm a horny-handed
son of a gun myself, but I can see when a young man's
head is rightly screwed on. And, mind you, my own
experience of life hasn't been small. And now, will you
let me tell you in all kindness what are the two great
stumbling-blocks to a young man's advancement?'
'No, I shan't,' cried Edgar, laughing; 'you were
going to say alcohol and gambling. But, believe me,
I have vowed already never to bet, nor touch beer,
except with meals.'
Bravo! Given good health, and you'll do.'
The Ishmaelite was towed down stream early on a
lovely April morning. There were few indeed to see
her off. Some of the owners stayed on board till the
last, then got up a cheer as they stood on the Broomie-
law. This cheer, in the interests of truth, I am bound
to say, was not a very hearty one. But it was
THE 'EXODUS' OF REBECCA ELLIOTT i5
supported by a few clerks and a score of ragamuffins
on shore, and by the sailors and stokers of other vessels
that lay near at hand.
Neither Edgar nor Kenneth was sorry when the
noise, the smoke, and the grime of the great city were
left far behind, and the river, broad and wide, began to
open out before them.
A gentle breeze from the nor'-east was ruffling the
sparkling waters, and the mists of the morning were
slowly lifting from off the wooded hills, discovering
many a little white village nestling cosily by the water's
edge, and many a scene so peaceful and beautiful that
it is no wonder the boys heaved a sigh to think they
were leaving their native land, perhaps for ever and
But sail is set at last, and, with one more cheer, the
tug-boat bids the big ship farewell, and goes churning
her way up stream towards the city again.
There is silence now fore and aft, except for the
creaking of the bolts, the tread of the men's feet, or
the occasional flapping of a sail.
Long before sunset, the Ishmaelite, with every stitch
of canvas spread out before the favouring wind, is
making her way down the Irish Channel, while the
thoughts of no one on board revert any longer to the
land they have left, but to the promised land far, far
THE PROMISED LAND AT LAST
,h"; V the time the Ishmaelite had made her
"-- :, way so far south that she had caught the
trade winds, when all the sails were
., drawing white and full, and the sunshine
\ ") glinting like brightest diamonds in every
dark-blue wave, all the brave little party
that formed the exodus of Rebecca Elliott
were sailors in almost every sense of the word ; for not
only were theysea-fast-a term that bears reference to the
absence of malde mer-but they had their sea-legs ; even
the ladies could walk the planks like old seafarers, and
turn about on the swaying, reeling deck without having
to clutch hold of rope or stay; and, moreover, every-
body was possessed of an appetite that, to say the least
of it, kept steward and stewardess busy at meal-times.
Rebecca herself was now able to take a little much-
needed rest in her deck-chair. The first week at sea
had really been a somewhat trying time with her.
Strangely enough, novelists, as a rule, never make the
slightest allusion to that most terrible and trying
complaint from which, almost without exception,
everyone suffers on first going to sea-namely, mal de
mer, or sea-sickness.
I think, if there is anything likely to banish it speedily
and bring about a quick recovery it is strength of will.
THE PROMISED LAND AT LAST
However, Neptune seems to know this, and usually
aims his shaft in the first off-go in such a way as to
destroy all mental energy. The mind once subdued,
the body speedily succumbs, and after that the unhappy
victim to the distressing complaint is very much to be
Well, on board Atlantic or Indian liners, passengers
suffering from this complaint, if their quarters are aft,
do get a kind of ready-made pity from both the surgeon
and steward or stewardess, as the case may be, and all
the worse for them. The emigrants at the other end
of the ship are simply bundled on deck; and the only
cure I have ever seen them get for their malady was a
tinful of half-hot, wholly greasy, water to drink. But
being kept on deck, they get better, and are happy and
hungry again long before the cabin passengers are able
to leave their bunks.
But the speediest cure of all is that adopted on
some merchant ships with the apprentices. They are
permitted to nurse themselves for twenty-four, or at
most forty-eight, hours below, lying about on the top
of boxes or lockers, or on the bare deck, after which
they are most unceremoniously ordered to duty. If
they don't obey the first call, they do the second,
because the officer of the watch takes good care to
emphasise every word with a rope's end. I know more
than one bold captain, at the present moment
commanding splendid steamers, who were cured of
sea-sickness in this very fashion.
To tell you the truth, Aunt Rebecca herself had felt
half-inclined at first to succumb to the rough treatment
of old Neptune ; but seeing her sister Ruth so very ill,
and hearing sad moaning and groaning issuing from
her maid's little cabin, she pulled herself together like
the brave old girl she was, and, instead of degenerating
into a sick patient, she elevated herself to the position
Poor Mary Brown, how very ill she was! and how
bitterly she did lament and bemoan the folly, as she
called it, that caused her to leave her native land !
'Oh! she cried, 'if I were only back again among
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
the wild myrtle and the bonnie blooming heather, not
all the promises of sunny lands and foreign climes
would ever make me tempt again the wide and wild
You will observe that in her lamentations Mary was
Ruth, on the other hand, was content to suffer
quietly; though every time the good ship gave a lurch
or a swing, she made certain it was all over, and that
the vessel was about to founder.
'Tell me, dear sister Rebecca,' she said a dozen
times a day, tell me, oh, tell me a few minutes before
the ship sinks down into the bottom of the vasty deep '
'Fiddlesticks, Ruth !' That was the terribly
unfeeling reply that was wrung from Rebecca at long
And Ruth had gazed at her for a moment in speech-
'Rebecca!' she groaned at last. Can that be my
own sister Rebecca? Has her heart turned to stone ?
Oh, sister! sister! can you stand there by my dying
bed and make so unfeeling a remark as fiddlesticks ?
Surely the bitterness of death is past! '
But a day came when Rebecca and the stewardess
managed to get Ruth dressed in the lightest and
prettiest of tropical costumes, and taken on deck. So
strong was the air that the first glad gush of it almost
made her senses reel.
There was a strong arm-Tom Carter's own-held
out to support her along the deck, and having seated
her in the easiest of deck-chairs under a sunshade, with
a rug around her legs and feet, the honest, brown-faced
farmer hurried away to concoct her a cunning drink;
for there was ice on board, and there were lemons and
scented syrups, and all things nice as well.
Then Edgar and Kenneth happened round, and leant
over her and talked to her, and gave her heart. Both
boys were looking brave and bonnie, though both were
already as brown as berries.
Soon after Mrs. Drake herself came on deck and
approached her with a smile. A pretty little woman,
THE PROMISED LAND AT LAST
with a somewhat girlish face, who would not have
struck anyone as the beau ideal of a sailor's wife. But
her looks belied her. She was most courageous, and
every inch a sailor, so far as a woman can be; and it
was related of her by her husband that on more than
one dark and stormy night, when hopes of saving the
gallant ship seemed very remote indeed, her calmness
inspired the crew, and incited them to fresh exertions
that resulted in victory over stormy seas and stormy
During this voyage out, Rebecca and Mrs. Drake
became very fast friends, and many a quiet cup of
tea, and many a long talk, did they have together
abaft on deck, under the sun-awning. Ruth did not
miss her sister's companionship so much either, it
seemed, for Tom Carter was unremitting in his
attentions towards her.
Altogether, I think that from first to last there was
something almost idyllic about this voyage. Adventures
there were really none. To state the case in a very
matter-of-fact way, the Ishmaelite had regulation seas,
regulation winds, and regulation weather all the way out.
There were even the regulation calms when crossing
the line, the regulation heat, the cloud-banks at night
along the horizon, with the tropical lightning playing
behind them, the blue skies by day, the starry heavens
at night, the silence and the solitariness of the great
ocean, and scarcely ever a sail in sight.
I might go a little farther, and say there were the
regulation whales, that, to the astonishment of all the
passengers, kept alongside for days, as if for sake of
company, to say nothing of the regulation shoals of
dolphins and porpoises, the regulation sharks, and
Many a time and oft did Rebecca tell Mrs. Drake
that she never could have believed the sea could be
half so pleasant as it was, and that she, for one, did
not regret leaving the quiet life among the far-off hills
'Somehow,' she said, 'I feel nearer to God, Mrs.
Drake,. than I did even in grand and wild Glen Rowan.
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
Of a verity, in coming down to the sea in ships, one
sees the wonders of the Lord in the mighty deep. But
is it always, always like this ?'
Mrs. Drake did not answer much, but as she poured
Rebecca out another cup of tea, there came a far-
away look in her eyes. She was thinking of one
night in particular, when, in the middle watch, all
hands that could be spared were summoned to prayers,
when masts had gone by the board, when boats and
bulwarks had been swept away, when the sea was
making a clean breach over the seemingly doomed ship,
when the water was a foot deep in the saloon where
they stood, and hardly could the captain's voice be
heard above the angry howl of the tempest and
threatening roar of the thunder.
'Sometimes,' she said, 'the sea is just a little
stormy; but the Ishmaelite is a grand old ship and can
stand almost anything.'
The sun set about six o'clock. That was considered
somewhat of a drawback; but then the evenings were
spent down below or on deck in a very pleasant way.
Captain Drake was a capital story-teller, and could
sing a good sea-song too. Anyone could see that
he was passionately fond of his brave little wife. His
eyes, too, used to dwell fondly on her whenever he
sang his favourite song, and that was 'The Rose of
Allandale.' And the song, moreover, was altogether
so a apropos. For his wife's name was Mary, and she
really was all the song depicted, and even more. Let
me transcribe but a line or two from memory:-
'The morn was fair, the sky was clear,
No breath came o'er the sea,
When Mary left her Highland cot,
And wandered forth with me.
Where'er I wandered, north or south,
When fate began to lower,
A solace still was she to me
In sorrow's lonely hour.
When tempests lashed our gallant bark,
And rent each shivering sail,
One fragile form withstood the storm,
'Twas the Rose of Allandale.
THE PROMISED LAND AT LAST
And when my fevered lips were parched,
On Afric's burning sands,
She whispered hopes of happiness,
And tales of distant lands.
My life had been a wilderness,
Unblest by fortune's gale,
Had fate not linked my lot to thine,
The Rose of Allandale.'
I must say just a word or two about Bran, the collie
dog, and his little friend Gibbey, the cat. You see
Bran was a Scotch dog. Well, Scotch dogs, like
Scotsmen, have the happy knack of making themselves
at home where'er on earth or sea they may be. Bran
was a very young dog, only eighteen months old, and
perhaps very daft and foolish at times. Nevertheless,
he was extremely fond of his mistress, Rebecca. He
soon made himself a perfect ship's dog. Perhaps the
captain's doggie gave him a wrinkle or two, or, in
other words, put him up to the ropes. The two were
almost constantly together.
I think, though, that the pug-dog Darby's idea of
perfect happiness on board ship was eating all day long
and sleeping between whiles. This doubtless accounted
for his being so stout that, when he wanted to go on
deck, he had to be carried up. He simply went and
barked up at the steward or stewardess, then ran to
the foot of the companion staircase, to show what he
'Now,' he told Bran the very second day, 'you
just do as I do, and you'll be as happy as the sea-gulls
all day long. You will, won't you? '
'Oh, certainly,' said Bran, who was so good-
natured he would have promised anything.
'Well, we shall breakfast in the saloon first.'
They did so.
'That will carry us on till twelve o'clock,' said
Darby. 'Now come on deck. The men will be sure to
throw belaying-pins and such like for you to run after.
That is much too fatiguing for me. I'll go to sleep
under a deck-chair. Then I don't have people fall over
me, you know.'
At twelve o'clock Darby started up and rejoined
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
Bran, who had been having rare fun with the men.
He was panting, and about three fathoms -more or
less-of pink tongue were hanging over his beautiful
alabaster teeth. Darby showed him where the water
was placed under the grating, and Bran had a big
Then the two dogs went trotting forward, just as
the men were sitting down to dinner. It was pea-soup
and pork day, and Bran thought he had never eaten
such a splendid dinner in his life. He was glad to go
to sleep under the grating abaft the binnacle after this.
But Darby waked him at three bells.
Saloon luncheon,' said Darby.
'What!' cried Bran, you don't mean to
Oh, but I do,' said Darby, interrupting him.
Darby went first and tumbled downstairs. He
always tumbled downstairs. It was the quickest
method of getting below, and he was so fat it didn't
Both of the dogs managed to stow away a very
neat little luncheon, considering their previous per-
'If I get on like this,' said Bran, when they had
licked the plates and gone on deck again, 'I'll be so
fat I won't be able to'-
'Go and have a game with the men,' said Darby.
' I'm going to sleep.'
Bran took his advice, and had such a splendid after-
noon's fun that by dinner-time his appetite was a
very respectable one. Then came supper, and Bran
was constrained to go to bed in his basket after this,
and remembered nothing more till Darby came to tell
him it was breakfast-time.
Now, as for Gibbey, the cat. He did not, it is true,
indulge himself quite so much as the dogs, though he
was always at home at meal-times. But, like Bran,
he in a very few days settled down quite to a sea-
life simply, I have no doubt, because his two
mistresses, Rebecca and Ruth, were both on board.
You may take my word for it, reader-and I have kept
THE PROMISED LAND AT LAST
cats all my life-that, when well treated, they are far
fonder of persons than places, though popular fallacy
would try to make us believe the very reverse.
The longest time has an end. I believe someone
made that same remark somewhere before. But our
heroes and heroines felt the truth of it when one morn-
ing they were awakened very early by the sing-song
shouting of the crew, as they clewed or furled sails,
and by the roar of the anchor chain as the gallant ship
was brought to a standstill in Simon's Bay.
There was silence and stillness for a time after this,
and nearly everyone went to sleep again.
But Edgar and Kenneth were on deck some con-
siderable time before the steward's bell rang for break-
fast, and beautiful indeed was the sight that presented
itself to their eyes.
If the reader will take the trouble to glance at a
map-but I feel pretty certain he won't-he will, or he
would, find that on sailing southwards a ship passes
Cape Town, the real capital of the Cape Colony, before
it comes to Cape of Good Hope itself. He might be
surprised also to find that this cape, of which he has
heard so much ever since he was as high as the parlour
tongs, is by no means the most southerly portion of
the colony, but that Cape Agulhas is, and this lies a
long way round the corner.
But a grand and noble sheet of water is that called
Simon's Bay. The town itself is not very much more
than a village, the houses of the main street lying along
at the foot of a lovely hill or mountain-leaning against
it, indeed, so close that in many cases people enter
their domiciles off the mountain by the roof.
The sun had not long risen; the whole of the
eastern sky was lit up with a glory of colour that
Edgar had never seen equalled, far less surpassed, and
all the broad bay was a study in crimson, in orange,
and in sweet, cool grey and opal. This bay seemed to
be Nature's palette, from which she was painting and
adorning the landscape everywhere, from the yellow,
sandy sea-beach, high up the brown hillsides, which
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
were patched here and there with the crimson of wild
heaths and geraniums, to the mountain-tops themselves,
that hardly yet had thrown off the misty mantle that
had enveloped them all night long.
There were very few ships in the bay, and these were
chiefly men-of-war, from which anon the silver sound
of bells rang mellow over the water.
By and by Ruth and Rebecca themselves came up,
and Tom Carter, rubbing his hands and smiling,
hastened to meet them.
'At long last,' he said, 'we see the promised land.
Why, even the dog and cat seem to be rejoiced that
the dangers of the deep are past and gone.'
This was true enough, for Gibbey was seated on the
bulwark, gazing landwards, and singing aloud, while
nothing would suit Bran but to mount on top of the
skylight, and to bark at the beautiful mountains.
'It is indeed a lovely morning,' said Aunt Rebecca,
'and indeed a lovely land. Surely,' she added, 'it
is a land flowing with milk and honey that the good
Lord has brought us to Boys, do you not rejoice ? '
Oh, Aunt Rebecca,' cried Edgar, I'm just as happy
as there is any need to be.'
And so am I too,' said Kenneth. But'-
'But what? said Tom Carter.
Oh, I've been looking right away over the mountains
through the captain's very best and biggest telescope,
and I don't see any lions, elephants, giraffes, no, nor
a single monkey; and as for ostriches, why, friend
Carter, where are they all?
'Ah!' he continued, 'Mr. Carter is looking at me
almost reproachfully. Everything comes to him who
can wait. I'm going to wait, my friend. I'm going to
be as patient as patient can be, because I know my
adventures are all to come far away in the wild interior.'
Kenneth did not stop for an answer; he linked his
arm in Edgar's, and together, talking and laughing, the
two walked forward to the bows, from which they could
see the land better, for the ship had swung round stem
on to the shore.
Tom Carter looked after them almost sadly He was
THE PROMISED LAND A T LAST
thinking of a time when the glamour of youth was over
him himself, when life was all before him, as bright, as
beautiful, and as promising as the glorious day with its
splendour of seascape and cloudscape that was now
opening above them.
He remembered the dreams and thoughts of those
early days, remembered his first coming out to the
colony, remembered his believing that Fortune was only
just waiting to throw herself at his feet, and that he
should accumulate money, nay wealth even, without
trouble, work, or worry. Ah, well! he was more sober-
minded now; one becomes so at forty. And he had
gained experience and saw things in their true light
He made a step or two forward, as if to follow the
young men. He was going to take Kenneth by the
arm, and speak the following words of wisdom in his
'Everything, my young friend, comes to him who
can wait and work.'
But he repented of his half-formed intention next
Why should he spoil their happiness ? They were
young. Let them enjoy life while they had it. Years
would come with their load of carking cares all too
So he commenced to romp and play with Bran up and
down the deck and round and round the skylight, and
as he did so, all his own worry fell from his shoulders,
and he himself was young again once more.
THE WELCOME HOME
VERY busy man indeed was Tom Carter
for the next few months. As busy as a
bonnet-maker' is a phrase we sometimes
hear, but Tom was as busy as a bushel of
Sbonnet-makers rolled into one.
-- The Ishmaelite had a lot of cargo to
discharge at Simon's Town and to ships
in the roadstead, so she would lie here for some weeks.
Well, Mr. Carter left Aunt Rebecca and her exodus on
board until he should get comfortable quarters for them
The boys proposed that they should go with him and
'Go with me and hinder me, you mean. No, lads, I
must speak to you straight. I won't have you. If you
were with me, I would feel I had on my shoulders all
the responsibility of a host-that, in fact, you were my
guests-and I should not then be happy unless I were
showing you things, explaining things, and making you
feel at home and jolly; and it is a small amount of
business or thinking I'd get through in that case. So
you just go on shore whenever you please; go roaming
round the hills, sketch, photograph, gather wild flowers
and kill snakes, but-don't worry me. I want no
companion except my big meerschaum pipe.'
THE WELCOME HOME 65
Tom Carter did not even have a ship's boat to take
- him on shore. A half-naked Caffre, whose face would
have been a good advertisement for paste blacking, and
his teeth a fortune to a dentist, came for 'Massa
Cartah' very early in the forenoon.
How he did grin, to be sure, when Tom popped his
sun-browned and smiling face over the side and cried-
Hullo, Othello! all alive then ?'
Why, grinning was hardly any name for it; the
corners of his mouth positively seemed to disappear
round the sides of his head and meet at the back of
'All alive, Massa Cartah? Yes, massa, ha, ha! and
so full of joy I want to laughee all de time.'
There wasn't much room in Othello's little black tub
of a dinghy for the two of them. Tom sat astern, with
his knees on a level with his chin, and the Caffre boy in
the bows, with his short tools of oars ; and really, if the
craft hadn't been nearly as broad as long, she would
have capsized, and both would have landed down among
They got on shore safely, however, and telling the
lad to follow, Tom strolled up to the hotel. This
Pwas right over some shops, with a deep verandah in
Hullo, Tom hullo hullo hullo! '
That was his first greeting.
It was from a red-tailed parrot, whom Tom kissed
and scratched and made happy by half-filling his food-
tin with dried chillies.
But the landlord and his daughters were very glad to
see the ostrich farmer, and it was nearly an hour before
all the news had been given and exchanged.
'The very thing,' said Lena, to a question put to her
by Tom. 'The sweetest little cottage in the colony.
Not far from the hospital and graveyard.'
'Oh! cried Tom, that's awful '
'Oh, but it is just lovely enough for anything.
Wait, and I'll give you the address.'
'Ah, but, Lena, make me another cunning iced drink
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
And Tom sat down by a little table in the hall with
his legs on a chair.
'Heigho !' he said, 'how happy I feel at being back
again, and at finding you all looking so lovely! Lena,
is it true you are going to be married ? '
Now, Mr. Carter, who could have told you that ? '
'Nobody, only the parrot. But I know it's true.
Ah, Lena, I'd marry you myself and be done with it if
I were only a hundred years younger.'
'Humph !' said Lena, with a little toss of her head,
'how am I to tell you haven't brought a wife out with
you from England itself? Pray, who is the cottage
Oh, Lena, it is for two of the dearest old maids that
ever you met in your life. Leastways, one isn't so very
'That's the one you'll marry.'
'No, no, I'd rather have the old one; she is more
motherly. But they will stay at the cottage till they
buy or rent a farm-near my own I hope, and-and-
Oh, well, Lena, you'll know more as events develop.'
Tom Carter went to see the cottage. It had ten
rooms, large and lofty; it was clean and tidy, quiet
and well furnished; it had a garden in front filled with
the rarest flowers, and terraced gardens rising up the
hillside ; and it commanded one of the most lovely sea
views that I know of in the world.
Tom haggled a little about the rent, but finally took
the cottage for three months sure. Then he went back
to the hotel smoking.
He found a bullock-cart just starting for Cape Town.
He threw his grip-sack on board, told Othello to
mount, and went into the hotel again to have another
iced drink and leave a message to be sent off to the
In less than half an hour the double string of bullocks
were 1ll in motion, and the great waggon was tossing
and saying along the rutty road like a ship in a heavy
It was dark before she reached Wineberg, where, at
the hotel, Tom met many men he knew, and who were
THE WELCOME HOME
right glad to see him. But though pressed to stay and
start in the morning, he laughingly refused.
Business first,' he said. I'll stay when I come back
for a week, perhaps, till you'll be glad to get rid of me.'
So he reloaded his big pipe and then remounted.
Crack went the long whip, and away they rolled once
It was a fine old hotel where Tom and his Caffre
servant landed at last. He dismissed the boy below
stairs. Othello had been here before. Then Tom,
after shaking hands with the landlord, found his way
into a cosy supper-room. And hadn't he an appetite
But after supper he got slippers and sank into a
rocking-chair, a cool drink at his elbow, his pipe in his
mouth, and all the newspapers he could lay his hands
upon, some even a month old, within easy reach of his
It was not news that Tom Carter was in search of.
No, he turned his attention to the advertising columns,
and many a one he marked for future reference. But he
got tired at last, rang the bell, and ordered a time-table.
He would start to-morrow by train, he told the land-
lord; it was business. And would the landlord keep
these papers for him ?
'No,' was the reply, 'the servants may burn them.
Take them to your room.'
Did Tom Carter sleep soundly ?
If you want an answer to that question, just you go
out to the Cape, and jog and sway and swing all the
way from Simon's Town to Cape Town in a bullock-
waggon, and see if you don't sleep. Why, when the
waiter came ran-tanning at his door at half-past seven
next morning, Tom could hardly believe he had been
in bed an hour.
The trains in the Colony don't run quite so quickly
as the Flying Dutchman,' but Tom Carter goltthere,
nevertheless-that is, he found himself at the station
nearest to his own farm, and found several of his own
servants waiting for him with spare horses, and right
glad they all were to see him.
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
Is Jacobs well ?' Tom asked, after shaking hands,
Cape fashion, with his men.
'Oh yes,' they said, 'Jacobs is well and jolly, but'-
Tom Carter laughingly held up his hand to stop the
'I know,' he said, 'that there must be bad news as
well as good, and I don't want to hear either until I
get home. Then Jacobs can tell me everything.'
'I declare,' he continued, 'the horses all seem to
This is true enough, and I think it spoke well for the
farmer's honest, kindly nature that four or five brown
muzzles were all stretched out at one and the same time
to receive a caress, and that more than one of the nags
whinnied with pleasure.
Not much to look at were any of these horses. Oh,
you don't require horses of high breeding at an ostrich
farm, I assure you-honest, steady, workaday nags;
nothing else. They soon come to know their work,
and there isn't anything short of an earthquake that is
likely to disturb their equanimity-I had almost spelt
this word equine-imity.
But rough and uncouth-looking as these nags were,
they were surefooted, and seemed to have as much stay
in them as any mule, with none of the kicking power.
Slow ? Well, yes, I have to confess that these horses
were a trifle slow; but it has always appeared to me
that every creature in Cape Colony, man included, is
somewhat slow. For fear of giving offence, I must say
slow and sure. There is no doubt this is a rising colony;
but institutions don't spring up here with the mush-
room-like celerity that they do in the United States of
America. I am not going to venture an opinion as to
the reason of this. Perhaps it is owing to the Dutch
element; perhaps it is owing to the climate, which I
have always looked upon as a somewhat drowsy one,
though healthy it undoubtedly is, and more so after one
has been acclimatised.
The men who met Tom Carter with spare horses for
himself and little Othello would have called themselves
Dutch had you asked them, but, nevertheless, they had
THE WELCOME HOME
a taste of the Malay in their composition. They were
probably none the worse for this, and Carter had found
them right faithful fellows. They had been in his
service for nearly a dozen years, and in that length of
time a master gets to know a little about a servant's
Now the waggon-road to the station was a fairly
good one, and our ostrich farmer, with a few of his
neighbours, had done a good deal to improve it. But
it was a somewhat winding one, and fully twenty miles
By taking bridle-pathways, the party managed to
shorten the distance to about fifteen miles. They took
it very easy, however. The men had not forgotten to
bring plenty of creature comforts in their haversacks,
and towards sunset they rested on the brow of a hill in
a wood of tall and weird euphorbias, and while the
horses were turned loose to browse on the scant but
juicy herbage, a hearty meal was made. Then pipes
were lit. But after half an hour's rest all mounted
again, and in due time Tom Carter, apparently much
to his delight, found himself once more in the bosom of
his family. This, of course, is a mere figure of speech ;
for, as the reader already knows, our farmer was not
married. Yet he had a habit of calling all his people
his boys and girls, with the exception of the lively little
Malay lady who, with extended arms, now rushed to
Tom was not expected to rush into those arms, but
only to take both hands, as he now did, and heartily
'Oh, Mammy, Mammy, I am so glad to get back
again once more !'
So you mus' be, pore chile; and indeed, indeed, it
is tire you do look. Sit ye down in the rocker, chile,
and Marie will bring your slippers while Mammy does
make you coffee. Deenner will be all ready in half an
hour, and Jacobs and his little Alie vill coom quick ven
he knows you's here.'
Tom Carter seated himself in the rocker and gave a
great sigh of relief as he looked around him. Mean-
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
while, Marie, a little coolie girl, came smiling, and knelt
beside him to chafe his feet and put on his slippers.
Get me a light now, Marie, like a good girl.'
Tom had plenty of lights in his pocket, but he knew
Marie was dying to do something for him.
'Ah, thank you, Marie, and here comes Mammy
with the coffee. How delicious, Mammy, and how
fragrant! I haven't drunk coffee anything like this
since I have been away; and I've been looking round
the room, Mammy, and I see everything tidy and
nothing altered. And those lovely flowers-geraniums
and heaths. Where did you get them?'
'See, see,' cried Mammy, pointing to Marie. 'She
hold down her head. She blush if she not too black to
blush. But Marie good girl. She climb de mountain
high to get de flower for massa's table, cause dat good-
for-nuffin Caffre nigger, Loopoo, afraid ob de snake.
Sure, I tell him for true, no matter if de snake kill he
fifty time. Plenty boys more good as he.'
Mammy's tongue kept rattling on, and Tom sat
smoking, with a satisfied smile on his face. But
presently he put his hand in his pocket and pulled
out two little packets. One contained a pair of bangles
for Marie, the other a silver chain and pretty little
watch for Mammy.
Both were still in raptures over these gifts, when the
door opened, and a very tall, straight, and wiry-looking
man entered, leading by the hand a strangely, almost
weirdly beautiful girl of, perhaps, twelve or thirteen
summers. The tall man was evidently her father, and
although from his swart and somewhat wrinkled face he
must have been nearer sixty than fifty, he gave one the
idea of great strength and hardiness.
Tom advanced to meet him.
Ah, Jacobs, delighted to see you! And Alie, how is
she?' He lifted her straight up above his head, and
kissed her in her descent.
'I have such a lot of pretty things for you, darling,'
he said, 'all the way from Scotland. Sit down, Jacobs,
sit down Smoke ? Just have time for one pipe before
dinner. Don't tell me anything till we have fed.'
THE WELCOME HOME
'And now,' said Tom Carter, about half an hour after
this, when they had retired from the table and were
comfortably seated in rockers near to the open window,
Alie ensconced on Tom's knee, for she was evidently at
a loss how to give expression to the joy she felt in
seeing him back, 'now, Jacobs, you can tell me what
luck we've had.'
Jacobs in expression and manner might have passed
for a Quaker. But there was no disguising the affec-
tion and admiration he had for his employer. Almost
from the outset of Tom's career he had been with him,
and had taught him all he knew. To the knowledge
thus imparted, however, Carter had added experience,
and could now give his quondam mentor many points
in the management of an ostrich farm.
'The luck has been good, bad, and indifferent.
Maybe, on the whole, it's been good. Leastways,
better far than some of our neighbours'. But feathers
have gone down in price.'
Knew they would, Jacobs. Too many men trying
'Too many fools.'
'True, Jacobs ; that's where you and I have the pull.
Well, do you know, that idea of mine of taking my
feathers to England and giving a few lectures was as
good as finding a diamond-mine.'
Jacobs smiled. I knew it would be,' he said; 'I
felt sure of it from the first. And you sold all your
fluff by private bargain. Didn't you now?'
'Ay, Jacobs, and for good prices. Some went to a
princess, and nearly all to ladies of rank.'
'What a thing it is to have genius '
Jacobs then told all the news of the farm, and dwelt
long and lovingly on his success with a huge incubator
that had been imported by Tom before his departure for
'Oh, she's a darling, she is !'
'And, oh, Uncle Tom,' said Alie, 'it's such fun when
the wee fluffies come out.'
You wouldn't believe it, Brother Tom'-this was
a kindly way of addressing Carter that Jacobs had at
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
times-' you'd hardly believe it, but Alie and I, with a
coolie or two, manage the incubator beautifully, though
the darkies were dreadfully afraid of her at first. But
to-morrow you'll see for yourself. And,' he added,
'I suppose you've heard that our nearest neighbour,
old Hobart, is dead.'
Tom looked doubly interested now.
'No, Jacobs, no.'
True enough, though, and his farm in the market.
Everything will be sold !'
'Poor Hobart! Died suddenly? '
'Ay, sunstroke while out riding in the hills.'
'Well, Jacobs, I've news for you. I didn't bother
writing. Thought I'd like to give you a big surprise
like this by word of mouth.'
Then he told them all about his adventures in Scot-
land, and all about Edgar, Kenneth, and the exodus of
Aunt Rebecca, up to the taking of the cottage for them
at Simon's Town.
Jacobs considered for a short time; then he burst out
'Brother Tom,' he cried, I can read your fortune.'
'Oh, nonsense,' said Tom. 'I know what you are
going to say, but don't. Rather give me your advice.
You see, Jacobs, this house is good enough for old-
fashioned fellows like you and me; but I am going to
add a wing to it, or maybe two, forthwith.'
'Of course you are.'
'Well, Jacobs, I can afford it. And I'm going to
raise your screw, big brother, to let you get a piano and
a governess for dear little Alie here.
'Now, Aunt Rebecca and Ruth can't come out here
till that new wing, or the two new wings, are built. So
you and I must put our two old heads together, and
plan out a place that we can invite real ladies to. We
must simply make the new wings palatial, brother. We
have three, or even five months to do it in, and I know
you will be delighted with the ladies as housekeepers.
Why, Jacobs, we needed some such change, you know,
to prevent us from rusting out and out.'
Alie went to bed before long, for she had fallen asleep
THE WELCOME HOME 75
in the arms of Uncle Tom, as she called him, and
Mammy came and carried her gently away.
But the two men sat smoking and talking till long
past three in the morning; and before they parted they
had not only sketched out the plans for the new wings,
but almost decided how they were to be furnished. And
if their ideas were adhered to, everything would be com-
pleted with an elegance bordering on the Oriental.
I tell you what it is, Brother Tom,' said Jacobs, as
he rose to go, 'I feel fully twenty years younger since
you returned, and the building of the new house will
just be the thing to make and keep us young. Good-
night, and happy dreams !'
IT WAS HUMAN NATURE AFTER ALL
ACOBS, as he sat down to breakfast next
morning, nodded and smiled to Tom
) Carter, who, in company with little Alie,
% I had already commenced. Marie, the
S. coolie girl, in a neat white apron and
.- crimson feathers in her hair, stood behind
Alie's chair, and Mammy went fussing
about everywhere as busy as a bee on a June morning.
A droll sort of a dress was Mammy's. Yet who shall
say that it did not become her?
Describing what a lady wears is not one of my strong
points, and I often get laughed at when I attempt it.
But I just think of Bruce and the spider, and try again.
I have old Mammy in my mind's eye as I write; I have
but to close my eyes to see her once more, for she is no
creation of the brain, but a solid little piece of reality,
and may be alive now, for anything I know to the
contrary. Mammy's gown, then, was, I suppose, her
principal garment. It was made of some dark brown
stuff, the name of which I am unable to give.. It began
just under the arms, and it reached all the way to the
ground, where it must have been about a yard and a
half in diameter. It was kept very circular and stiff
all the way, however, by reason, I was told, of the
IT WAS HUMAN NATURE AFTER ALL 77
multitude of garments-petticoats, I believe they term
them-she wore underneath.
It will be seen, therefore, that Mammy's gown was
nearly all skirt, and that she had not much body. But
round her shoulders, plaited across her chest and
tied with a bow behind, Mammy wore a pure white
starched linen bernouse, which was spotless and pure
all the year round. The sleeves of her gown must have
been very long, judging from their extraordinary fulness
above the elbow, but they got narrower below, and were
fastened tight about the wrists. Mammy had earrings
of gold and crimson coral, and a Turkish red bandana
bound tightly round her head. And now, reader, do
you think you see her? If not, I am sorry. By the
way, I never could make out what kind of shoes Mammy
wore, for they were not visible; but from the sound she
made when going stumping around, they did not appear
to have much spring in them, but rather to be some-
thing betwixt a Lancashire clog and a purser's shoe.
Mammy's eyes were dark, of course, and very
piercing, and the expression of her face was pleasing.
She always wore a smile, but it was not a stereotyped
one. It was born and bred on the premises, so to
speak, and told the beholder that within her some-
what droll exterior she had a really kind disposition,
and would do anyone a good turn if she could. The
only time that Mammy wasn't smiling was during her
hour of prayer and meditation. And this was every
night about nine or ten o'clock. At this time she
retired to her own room, which was little more than a
closet, and mounting a huge pair of horn-rimmed
spectacles, she .read her Bible and repeated a prayer,
both in the Dutch and both aloud.
She had one constant companion, had Mammy, that
followed her everywhere, though not allowed to come
into the dining-room. This was a very tall, droll-
looking, naked-necked bird of the heron species. I
speak advisedly when I say the bird was what is called
in India an adjutant. Tom Carter had brought it from
Bombay once upon a time. It was then no bigger than
a game chicken, but it grew and it grew and it grew
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
till, when its neck was erect, it was quite as tall as
Mammy herself. I must not call the bird it any
longer, but he. The pronoun it' sounds disrespectful,
whether applied to a bird or a baby. Besides, Mammy's
pet had a name. From the extreme air of wisdom with
which he eyed anybody or anything, especially a cold
roast fowl, he was called Solomon.
Solomon's bill was of immense size. He had usually
to throw his head well back in order to balance it.
This head of his was not very large, and it was pretty
bald. No feathers, anyhow, grew on it, only here and
there a hair. If you wanted to get into Solomon's
good graces, you would scratch this bald poll of his
with something, the rougher the better.
Solomon, I fear, was not strictly honest. He carried
a big loose bag just under his beak and communicating
with his 'swallow,' as Mammy termed it. Now,
whenever anything went a-missing and wasn't to be
found anywhere else in the wide world, you were safe
to wager it was in that pouch of Solomon's, whether it
were a ball of worsted, a screw-driver, or a fag-end of
a leg of mutton.
Solomon was a droll bird, though he never smiled,
but I think he was at his drollest when Mammy was at
her devotions and reading aloud; and the species of
pantomime he then went through with his head and
neck was amusing in the extreme. He seemed to have
a motion for every intonation of Mammy's voice, but
if not well watched he would try to wind up by
swallowing the horn spectacles, case and all; and it
took Mammy some time and a considerable deal of
coaxing to recover possession again.
'Mammy's lamb, then; Mammy's lamb!' the little
lady would say, affectionately patting Solomon's pouch.
' Give poor Mammy her specs, then. Vat vill poor
Mammy do mitout her specs ?'
Finally, with a sound betwixt a grunt and a squeak,
Solomon would disgorge, and Mammy would kiss him
on the bald head, and scratch his neck with the
Jacobs was not a talkative man If a nod or look
IT WAS HUMAN NA TURE AFTER ALL 79
would convey his meaning without words, he was
always content to let it do so. In this way he was
a kind of living semaphore.
But to-day, as soon as he had drunk a cup of coffee
and eaten some of Mammy's home-made bread and
home-cured sheep's ham, he turned round to Tom and
'Three months and maybe five,' he said.
'Three months and maybe five,' repeated Tom.
'We can do it,' said Jacobs.
'We can.' This from Tom with a smile.
It was evident from the above scrap of conversation
that Jacobs and Tom were taking up the subject that
they had been discussing last night, just about the
place where they had left off.
Jacobs nearly finished his breakfast before he said
another word, although he frequently semaphored to
Mammy, who appeared to understand his every motion.
Brudd,' said Jacobs, pushing away his plate at last
and handing Mammy an empty cup-'brudd,' I may
tell you, was a kind of abbreviation for brother-
'brudd, we'll have to take off our jackets.'
'Yes, brudd, we'll take off our jackets.'
'And oh, by the way,' continued Jacobs, with a
little more animation, the tigers'-the African
leopards are so called-' are becoming troublesome
again. Aren't they, Mammy? '
Oh yes,' cried Mammy. 'One chase pore Solomon
ony yessday. Pore Solomon hab to run for hees
'Well, his legs are long enough, Mammy.'
Dat vhas vhat sabe heem, massa.'
'Only this morning,' said Jacobs, 'it was reported
to me that a goat had been killed.'
'Serious, brudd, serious '
'Serious !' said Jacobs. Then he added interroga-
tively the single word, Strychnia ? '
I don't like it, Jacobs, and that's a fact. Two
years ago I remember I tried pills of strychnia ; well,
two days after, I remember riding down the kloof and
hearing groans and cries of agony issuing from a
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
clump of spekboom bush. I declare to you, brudd,
they seemed almost human. I tied my horse to a
shrub and entered, gun across my sleeve, and there on
the ground was a poor tiger, his face drawn and
contorted, the slaver running from his mouth, his eyes
pleading and pitiable. All the earth was torn up
around him, and he had gnashed at and bitten through
the stem of a dwarf aloe in his terrible agony.'
'You killed him?'
'I put him out of misery, but then and there I
abjured strychnia. When the lower animals become
to us a pest and a torment, Jacobs, we are but right to
destroy them, but it is our duty to do so mercifully.'
'De jackal he coom too,' said Mammy. He coom
to eet de chicks. I soon fight heem, but de tiger-
ah no '
'I have it, Jacobs I have it '
'Kenneth M'Crimmon, one of the young fellows I
have imported, is an ardent sportsman.'
Well, Mammy will get ready the guest's bedroom.
Beds for two, Mammy.'
I vhas understand,' said Mammy.
'In a month's time, Jacobs, Kenneth will kill every
tiger, lynx, and jackal or wild cat about the place.
They must come at once.'
'Send letter by post ? '
'Oh no. Othello will go as quickly as the train.'
'True. You see Othello will take a bee line, and he
won't stop half an hour here and there all along the
line. I'll write this morning. Mammy, you must feed
Othello well, and stuff his sack.'
'And now,' said Tom, as soon as Othello was gone,
'how are we off for bricks ? '
Build a castle.'
'All right. We'll get all the hands we can have,
and all we can spare from our own place, and then
we'll take our jackets off.'
IT WAS HUMAN NATURE AFTER ALL 83
In two days' time both Edgar and Kenneth had
arrived in the glen.
A glen this farm of fourteen thousand acres was, and
many of the hills that hemmed it in were quite
inaccessible even to goats. This had been found at the
very first to be a great saving in fencing and fencing
In ordinary seasons the birds on this farm did very
well indeed, and Tom had never been put to very great
expense in dam-making. But of course there were
seasons of drought and dry hot winds, and then the
poor birds suffered, and all hands about the settlement
were well-nigh worked to death finding and cutting up
the leaves of the prickly pear as food for them.
The waggon-one of the biggest-had to be
despatched to the distant station to bring home the
boys. This was chiefly on account of the weight of the
boxes, Kenneth's wonderful assortment of guns and
ammunition, and Edgar's more humble assortment
of workman's tools.
It was night when they arrived, and dark as pitch,
but the dining-room was what Tom described as a
galaxy of beauty, light, and flowers, and a capital
dinner was waiting to be served.
When Tom met them in the verandah, and introduced
Jacobs to them, very tired and dusty and woe-begone
they looked. As soon as she had had one peep at
them from behind her father's back, Alie ran straight
away to the kitchen, where Mammy, with a long spoon
in her hand, was busy basting a juicy joint. And
indeed so hot did the little Malay lady look, that if
anyone had told you she had been basting herself as
well as the joint, you would have felt inclined to
Beside Mammy stood Solomon. He too had an
interest in that joint ; besides, there were many uncon-
sidered trifles that he could convey surreptitiously to
his pouch whenever occasion offered.
'Oh, Mammy !' cried Alie.
'What is it, chile? You do startle you pore ole
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
'Oh, Mammy, I is disappointed '
'Disalpinted, chile? Vat hab occur to disalpint you,
'Oh, the boys have come.'
'Yes, I hear der voices.'
'But they are not boys. That is the bother of it,
Mammy. They're old men, and I'm just fit to cry.'
'Don't you go for to cly, chile. Dey all dust and
dirt, chile. Wait, chile; wait.'
Well, the boys came in to dinner at last, and Alie
was fain to admit in her own mind that they had grown
considerably younger. She sat in a corner behind a
bank of geraniums and heaths, eying them and trying
to make up her mind which of the two she should like
Edgar looked very happy and very free and easy, in
his loose jacket of lightest tweed.
But Kenneth looked grand, Alie thought. For he
wore a dress such as she had never before seen except
in pictures ; a strange, dark, cut-away coat; a waistcoat
that seemed no waistcoat at all, so low did it button
down, displaying a front of spotless white with one
bright star of a diamond in the centre; and a high
Then he had chains and rings, and he walked and
talked like a nobleman; that is, like the noblemen she
had met in story-books.
Yes, Kenneth was very grand! Her heart was just
going out to Edgar when Kenneth spied her peeping
shyly over a bank of heath.
His manner changed instantly.
Oh, what a lovely flower! he cried, advancing.
Alie hadn't the slightest idea he alluded to her.
She innocently broke a bloom off the loveliest geranium,
arranged a leaf behind it, and held it out to him.
'Yes,' she said, 'Marie gathered them all, and you
can have a bit if you like.'
Kenneth took the little button-hole, bowed over it
for a moment, then arranged it as a button-hole.
When Mammy headed the procession that brought
in the dinner, Alie and Kenneth were talking together
IT WAS HUMAN NATURE AFTER ALL 85
as merrily as if they had known each other for
years. They even sat side by side at table, and Alie
promised that she would ride out with him next day-
she was a splendid little horsewoman and had a pretty
pony, all her own, quite as beautiful as herself, and
quite as fearless and wild-and show him everything,
even the places in the hill-bush where wild cats and
lynxes were supposed to lurk by day.
'I think,' said Kenneth that evening, 'you will
prove to be quite an acquisition.'
Alie looked puzzled.
'I don't know what that is,' she said. 'Maybe
Then he laughed and explained.
Well, on the whole, as far as making acquaintance
with Alie goes, Edgar hadn't a show that night. Not
that he minded. He was talking to Jacobs and Tom
with both ears open, and before everybody parted for
the night he thought he had learned quite a deal about
ostrich farming already.
Next forenoon Kenneth appeared armed to the teeth
in a splendid and fashionable shooting-jacket and belt,
with a nice little small-bore rifle thrown carelessly over
Alie and her pony were ready and waiting.
Kenneth's face fell a little when he saw his own
A coolie held the stirrup till he mounted, and the
saddle was a sadly patched and worn affair. There
was an old sack between it and the horse's back, so
you may judge that the whole get-up was scarcely what
a man of fashion would care to sport in Rotten Row.
Kenneth burst out laughing.
Alie looked at him inquiringly.
'Oh, I was thinking,' he said, about a story I once
read in which there was a horse called Rosinante, just
Alie made him promise that he would tell her the
whole story from end to end that very evening.
Then away they cantered, Alie taking an easy lead,
Kenneth doing his very best.
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
Well, the winter had just commenced, for it was still
the month of May, so that the weather was by no
means excessively warm, and Kenneth with Alie
returned in time for luncheon, after enjoying a
But our sportsman had not had a chance to shoot
'Ah!' said Tom, 'you must go on foot and take a
native dog. On the whole, you know, all the advantage
accruing from this forenoon's ride is that you now
know the lay of the land.'
Edgar had donned his working clothes, and that
same forenoon had been all round the farm-steading
with Jacobs, and very interesting he found all that
was shown to him.
But after luncheon Tom pulled Kenneth into his
private room or office, and the two had quite a long
'Mind you,' said Tom in conclusion, I only tell you
that if you are bent on trying ostrich farming, a chance
is now offered you that might not turn up again in
twenty years. Besides, you know, Kenneth, you will
have the advantage of being our neighbour, and you
may be sure the advice that Jacobs will give you will be
the best to be had.'
'Don't say one other word, Mr. Carter.'
'Plain Tom, please.'
'Well, Tom Carter, my dear friend, I'll have the farm,
so there. Just you make the best bargain you can for me.'
Then they shook hands.
Next morning both were up before four o'clock. The
waggon was yoked, and away they jogged to the
station, and arrived in Cape Town that same night in
time for dinner.
At the same table sat a tall, hirsute, and rather
handsome gentleman, just out from England. He
took no pains to hide his business, and talked
somewhat loud and bumptiously, as some English-
men do who have not been long away from the mother
IT WAS HUMAN NATURE AFTER ALL 87
Tom Carter nudged Kenneth under the table, and
Kenneth took the hint, and was very quiet.
It soon transpired that this Englishman was going
next morning to the office of Nickem & Co. to buy, at
the upset price, the very farm that Tom and Kenneth
Tom got in tow-as sailors say-with the stranger
after this, and the two had several conversations
together. Now, Carter might, if so minded, have
revealed himself as an ostrich farmer and painted the
dark side of such speculation in a manner that would
have sickened Mr. Robson of it. But he was too
straightforward for that. He merely chatted away with
'The wee short hoor ayont the twal.'
Next morning, when Kenneth and he came down to
breakfast, there were no signs of the Saxon. Oh, he
won't be down till nine,' said the waiter, when asked
about the matter.
Nickem & Co.'s offices opened at ten. Would Mr.
Nickem be there first thing?
When Tom and his young friend drove up to the
door, the former confessed to feeling quite nervous.
Mr. Nickem himself might be here,' the clerk said,
'at any moment.'
Ah, true,' thought Tom, and so may Robson.'
For a whole half-hour they waited anxiously,
impatiently. At last-oh, joy!-a latchkey was let
into the hall door, and the chief partner entered and
slowly handed his coat to a clerk.
Tom took a quick glance up and down the street,
but, seeing no carriage coming, thought he could not
do better than conceal his anxiety; so, although his
heart was going pit-a-pat as he listened for the sound
of wheels, he took his time to introduce Kenneth.
'Thinks of buying your farm,' said Tom.
Can't do better.'
But the price?'
'Can't lower it a dollar. Now, that's a fact. Say
the word, and it is yours. If not, you'll excuse my
%88 fN THE LAND OF THE LION
The distant sound of wheels fell upon Tom's ear at
'Ah!' said Tom, I see you are a man of business.
We'll buy at your price.'
Hands were shaken and the bargain made.
A clerk with a card.
It was Robson's.
'Can't see him for half an hour.'
Reader, at the end of that half-hour, when Tom
Carter met Robson in the hall and bowed 'good-
morning,' is it any wonder that he could scarcely keep
Ill-bred? I'm afraid so. But then it was human
nature after all.
'WE GOT THE START AND KEPT IT'
UNT REBECCA and Ruth, to say nothing
of Mary Brown, had got completely settled
down at Glen Rowan Cottage, as they
called the pretty villa that Tom Carter
had taken for them. For a lady with the
innate genius for organisation possessed
by Miss Elliott it would be no very great
feat to settle down anywhere in three days' time; and
here, apart from the getting boxes on shore and
unpacking them, there was very little to be done.
The sea air, the very look of the sea, and the sight
of the grand old hills towering above her, induced in
Rebecca a calm, healthful, and contented feeling, to
which she had been a stranger since she left the
Scottish Highlands. Even Mary was happy now.
Oh,' she said with enthusiasm, isn't it nice to be on
shore again, off the raging billows, and to see those
bonnie hills! Oh, Miss Elliott, I don't seem to sigh for
my native land so much when I gaze upon their heath-
You will observe that Mary was nothing if not poetic
Every day Ruth and Mary spent hours roaming
about among the hills and heathlands and gathering
lovely wild flowers, and with them went Bran. Gibbey,
the cat, preferred staying at home with Aunt Rebecca
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
It was more in his way; besides, there were plenty of
vermin in the garden of one kind and another, to say
nothing of birds and snakes. Now snakes were the
terror of Bran's life. He would leap the height of
himself when one rustled near him in the grass; but
Gibbey, strange as it may appear, caught and killed
even specimens of the dreaded cobra, and sometimes a
Ruth now dressed in her most becoming, her lightest
and airiest of tropical costumes, and looked quite girlish
when thus arrayed-at all events, she thought so.
'I declare, sister,' she said one day, after taking a
glance at herself in the overmantel, I declare my face
is getting quite brown. I do wonder what would
Fiddlesticks !' replied matter-of-fact Rebecca, with
some degree of impatience. 'Don't be a baby, Ruth.
You know very well the sun-burning becomes you, and
you wouldn't have it removed for all the world.'
'Oh, Miss Ruth,' cried Mary one forenoon, rushing
into the room where her mistress was just finishing
dressing for going out-' oh, miss, miss, here comes
Master Kenneth and Mr. Carter, both as large as life
and twice as natural.'
A few minutes after, Bran was heard barking joyously.
He was pretending that he would not permit the visitors
to enter. Even Gibbey went purring to meet them,
with head and tail high in air.
'You look positively charming, Miss Ruth.' This
from Tom, as he stood in the hall holding her hand.
'And you too, Miss Elliott. I declare I don't know
which of you to admire more. Yes, we have just come
in by waggon from Wineberg. Hungry? Yes, Miss
Elliott, famishing; but instead of going to the hotel,
we hurried on to tell you the news.'
'How good and unselfish of you Now, Mary, get
While Kenneth and Tom did ample justice to the
viands set before them, they told the ladies all their
story, and I fear that everyone laughed just a little over
the discomfiture of Mr. Robson.
'WE GOT THE START AND KEPT IT'
'Oh, he'll soon get another farm, Miss Elliott; but,
you see, this one, vacant by the death of poor Hobart,
just suits my young friend here to a t. It lies in an
adjoining glen, you know, and it is all ready to pop
into. Only just buy the stock. We shan't purchase
all, however. We can, I think, do better than that.
But the birds and feathers go all to the hammer next
And so Tom Carter rattled on.
'Well,' he concluded, addressing himself more
particularly to Ruth, I think we must stay in Simon's
Town, now we are here, for just a day or two. Jacobs
will be very busy, and so, I know, will Edgar.'
'And you really mean to say,' said Rebecca, 'that
our dear boy likes the idea of work ?'
'He will work like a New Hollander, Miss Elliott.
Why, you should just see him with his sleeves rolled up
and his straw hat on. It would do your heart good ; it
Ruth took the visitors over the hills and along the
rock-girt shore. Bran met several dogs bigger than
himself, and went straight for them and rolled them
over like ninepins.
'It is the only way to do with these Cape curs,' he
seemed to say to Kenneth M'Crimmon. If you don't
go at them at once, they think you're afraid of them,
and that would never do.'
In the afternoon Mrs. Drake arrived from the
Ishmaelite, and brought Darby with her. She stayed
to dinner, and a very happy evening was spent, Drake
himself coming on shore for his wife about nine o'clock,
but staying for fully two hours.
'No, Miss Elliott, do not imagine for a moment
that it is entirely on your account we are building an
addition to our farm-steading. Who knows but what
I may take unto myself a wife one of these days? I
may marry Mary Brown here.'
'Oh no,' said Mary, laughing. 'Iknow better than
that, Mr. Carter. You'll look a little higher than a
simple servant lassie.'
'Yes, Miss Ruth, we must get back soon. There
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
is so much to be done, and I'm all in a fidget to get
the work well commenced. Once it is commenced,
you know, it will go on swimmingly.'
Almost the first individual whom Tom and Kenneth
met in the hotel coffee-room on their return to Cape
Town was Mr. Robson himself.
'Humph!' he muttered with a scowl, 'you played
me a pretty trick over that farm. You knew I was
'True, Mr. Robson, you took good care to let
everybody know that. But you must remember, sir,
you are not all the world. My young friend and I
came to the town with the express purpose of buying
that farm-and we did.'
Tom turned on his heel, and left him muttering
something to himself about wretched Scotchmen that
popped their noses into everything.' Tom could afford
to laugh, and so could Kenneth.
The next day was spent in bank and other business,
and then Tom Carter took a walk over the furniture
dealers' establishments. He told them plainly he did
not intend to purchase to-day, but only just to have a
look round and count the cost.
When the distant railway-station was reached at
last, they found two horses waiting them, saddled and
bridled, and near them Alie herself on her daft little
pony. Kenneth was not much surprised, for somehow
he had been thinking about the child, and half thought
she would be there. But he was astonished when he
found out that she had come across country all by
herself with the nags.
'Why, what a clever little prairie flower you are,
Baby !' he said; 'and I declare you are pretty enough
at the present moment to make me throw stones at the
stationmaster if you only asked me.',
Alie laughed, and touched her pony on the neck with
her tiny whip. That droll wee gentleman took the
opportunity to assert his dignity, and to paw the air
for a few seconds while he waltzed around on his hind
A cool breeze blew over the veldt. It caught the
' WE GOT THE START AND KEPT IT'
pony's mane and it caught Alie's hair, and blew both
straight out; the exercise had brought a rosy flush to
the child's cheeks, and in her large bright eyes was
the sparkle of happy health. She and that pony made
a beautiful picture.
Alie confessed to feeling a little tired as she reached
home; nevertheless, she would not permit Kenneth to
assist her to dismount.
Truth to tell, Kenneth himself was tired, and never
did coffee taste more refreshing than that which Mammy
now hastened to place before the wanderers. And when
dinner was laid, it is needless to say that all did justice
Edgar and Kenneth next morning mounted their
Rosinantes, and rode over in company with Tom to
see the new farm. Things looked a little out of order,
but Jacobs and his merry men would soon put all that
The head man met the trio in the yard and saluted.
'Just had a letter,' he said. 'It has been delayed
somewhat on the way, but we expect the new owner
home to-day, and we have been all wondering how
many of us he will keep on.'
'The new owner?' said Tom, pointing to Kenneth.
'Why, there he stands.'
Why, sir, this isn't Mr. Robson surely?'
Tom and Kenneth laughed.
'His letter says,' said the foreman, referring to it,
'that he is just starting for the office of Nickem & Co.
to buy the farm and leave a deposit, and that we are
to expect him home on the Ioth. That would be to-
'Well, you see, we got the start and kept it, and
the owner of the farm is Kenneth M'Crimmon, Esq.,
and he stands before you.'
The overseer took off his hat and bowed.
'And now,' continued Tom Carter, 'if you care to
stay on, you may, because I've always heard an
excellent character of you.'
'Thank you, I'll stay, and you'll find my wife and
two girls know all about chicken rearing-almost as
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
much as myself, in fact. The farm is really a splendid
'Well, Mr. van Sprudel, we'll go into your office
now. We want you to act in your new master's interest,
and you will thus be acting in your own. We want a
list of the hands, male and female, and the characters
'I've got all that ready, sir, and written out each
on a card. You can look over them; then I will
muster the hands, and you can keep whom you please
and send bad hats adrift.'
Well, the men were mustered and the women too,
but Kenneth felt too good-tempered to dismiss anyone.
'There are some of you,' he said, 'who haven't got
the whitest of scores, but I am willing to give you
another chance. I mean, as long as I am on this farm,
to study the interest of my people, and I expect my
people to consider mine. This, you know, is only
fair play. Now, my friends, let us begin as we hope
to go along, and I cannot do better than tell you that
there are one or two things that I am very much
against. First comes drinking. If a man wants to
come down in the world, to secure his misery and ruin,
to break his health and to banish his happiness in this
world and his hopes for the next, let him take to
drinking. Next comes quarrelling. I never saw any
good come of that either in my short time. The
cleverest man, and the man that is most likely to do
well in the world, is the one who keeps his temper,
even when the temptation is strong to lose it. When
a man ceases to be calm, he has lost all control over
himself, and for the time being is no better than a
poltroon and a coward. Thirdly, there is grumbling.
Don't grumble among yourselves, men; whenever you
have any fancied cause of grievance, come straight
away to me with it, and I give you my word of honour
as a Scottish gentleman that I will consider your cause
my own, and do you justice.'
'I shan't say any more, because I am a lame duck
at making a speech-but do your duty, and I'll do mine.'
'WE GOT THE START AND KEPT IT'
Then with a bow Kenneth dismissed them; but
before they separated one of the oldest hands held
aloft his hat and shouted-
Three cheers for the young master !'
And they did cheer, too, until the hills resounded
and the welkin rang.
The overseer now conducted our friends all over the
farm-steading and into the various departments, and
told them the life-history of every bird about the place ;
so that, taking the advice of Tom Carter, there were
many ostriches--old and young and chicks -that
Kenneth concluded to buy in at the valuation price.
The rest could go to the hammer.
The dead stock, too, was examined, and this last
might include the contents of the feather-room. But
all the latter, Tom thought, ought to be sold by
'We'll buy just as cheap in that way,' he told
Kenneth. For the purchasers will imagine that, as
I did not take these at valuation, they cannot be Ai.
Do you see?'
I do,' said Kenneth, smiling.
The fencing all around the farm they found in fairly
good preservation, at which they were very much
pleased; so they returned to Tom's farm very gratified,
on the whole, with the new investment, and strangely
enough, not one little bit sorry for poor, disappointed
The work of building began now to go on apace.
There is no extra beauty of architecture about any of
even the best Cape buildings. Comfort and strength
are usually all that are studied. But in this case, Tom
and Jacobs agreed to deviate in some slight measure
from the common custom.
I don't see why a house should be like a barn, do
you, Brother Jacobs?' said Tom.
'Just what I was thinking myself,' replied Jacobs.
And so their original plans of having two new wings
were given up in favour of a rather handsome bungalow,
all on one floor, but containing several cosy small rooms
IN THE LAND OF THE LION
and two or three large. The whole bungalow com-
municated with the old house, and each room had a
window, bow or otherwise, that looked out to the
compound and the garden that was to be.
The more the bungalow approached completion, the
better were Tom and Jacobs pleased with it. They
were just like a couple of schoolboys that have got
hold of a new fad, and I'll be bound that this bungalow
was almost their first thought in the morning and the
last at night.
Meanwhile the sale had come off, and as to the
feathers, Jacobs attended in the interest of Kenneth.
He pretended to be utterly indifferent about the matter ;
he even hinted that the home market, or English
market, was going tumbling down.
This Jacobs called business. I am an author, and
not a business man, so I do not say whether such
conduct was correct and honourable or not. However,
this I do know-namely, that Jacobs bought all the
feathers he wanted, and these were the best, at his
Edgar continued to work under Jacobs, with interest
in everything he did; and moreover, while spending
much of his time in learning all the outs and ins of
feather-farming, he managed to be in the carpenter's
shop three or four hours every day.
How about Kenneth? Well, I must give him his
due. He did attend to the new farm as well as could
be expected, though he did not pretend to go into the
minutiae of the business. One of these days he would.
This is what he told himself, and repeated aloud to
Edgar and Jacobs also.
Meanwhile, strange to say, the wild beasts had
increased in numbers very much indeed since Kenneth
arrived. Oh, I do not mean to say that he brought
them, or that chance placed them down for the sake
of giving him sport and adventure. But there they
were; and some of the 'tigers' were most daring, and
broke through the fences and killed both sheep and
goats. My impression is this, and I think it is the
right one: noticing that Hobart's farm was less well
'WE GOT THE START AND KEPT IT'
looked after since the farmer's death, they had
determined to make raids upon it; and having once
tasted blood, there was no keeping them at bay.
Mind you this, reader-wild animals are extremely
sagacious and wise, and that man will always make
the best hunter who remembers this, and who credits
them with a wisdom and a wiliness that is little less
I think Kenneth was very plucky and courageous,
and clever as well. The leopard, or Cape tiger, is
certainly not such a terrible animal to meet as the
.great and real tiger of Bengal. Nevertheless, he is
an ugly customer at times to tackle. But Kenneth
used to go hunting on foot by day, in the company of
a very sagacious native dog. He went to the hills,
to the bush, to the jungle, and followed up and into
the very darkest corners; and thus many a leopard
fell to his gun.
Once, however, he was attacked by a lynx, that flew
straight at his throat from under a bush. It might
have gone very hard with him had not the native dog
come quickly to his assistance.
Between the two of them the lynx came off second
best, and was killed, but he severely wounded the poor
dog, and he left the marks of his claws on both sides
of Kenneth's throat.
Our Nimrod was more careful after this, for it
certainly was not safe to enter the darksome bush,
right out of the sunshine's glare, at random, as he
had been in the habit of doing.
Concerning his adventures with the wily tigers I
must speak in another chapter.
A GRAND NIGHT'S SPORT
--IELL, as far as this part of Africa is con-
S cerned, the tiger-that is, the African
S leopard-is the king of wild beasts. So
,-I b ld had they become, and so frequent
.... their attacks on Kenneth's farm, that his
st-.ck suffered considerably, especially his
sheep and goats; and even the birds
were only protected with difficulty. Now, the leopard
will, as a rule, rather creep through an opening in a
fence than bound over; and, failing poison, to which
Tom Carter had so much objection, Jacobs suggested
large steel traps or gins. There was nothing, however,
very sportsman-like about the use of these ; so Kenneth
determined, for a time, at all events, to trust to his
gun. So he continued to hunt the creatures up by day
in the bush, in their lairs, recesses, or caves, and at
night to watch for them. But the darkness constituted
the difficulty. At present there was no moon, and to
fire on an indistinct and moving object with the chance
of hitting it is very unsatisfactory work, and certainly
not sport. The tigers seemed to know right well that
the darkness favoured them. However, a man is a
match even for a tiger, and Kenneth at last fell upon a
plan to outwit and destroy his foes.
First and foremost he found out the principal hole
A GRAND NIGHT'S SPORT
through which the tigers crept, and caused all other
parts of the fence to be repaired except this. Inside,
and not far from this hole, he placed his bait. He
permitted the tigers to carry this away for several
nights running unmolested. On the fourth night-and
it was a pretty dark one-Kenneth prepared what he
called his instantaneous beacon-light, and with his dog
by his side and his rifle all ready, lay down to watch.
I may inform you that he was a really good shot-a
young fellow, in fact, that his father's keepers could
always rely upon in the grouse season to bring down
his two birds right and left, if the covey were anything
worthy of the name.
I need not tell you, however, my dear reader, that a
snap-shot is not always the best hand at big game or
with the rifle. This latter, however, was an art that
Kenneth had studied at home among the hills so far as
the target went, and with considerable success too;
for his friend, young Lord D- sometimes gave him
a day among the deer, and many a lordly buck had
knelt and stumbled dead to the music of his rifle.
Given light, therefore, the tigers were at Kenneth's
mercy. Well, his beacon supplied this. It was a
simple but at the same time somewhat ingenious
contrivance. Had you seen it by day, you would have
noticed only a heap of light dry grass lying at a little
distance from the place where the bait-a piece of
meat-was laid down. You would have observed also
a long string emanating from the heap. This was the
secret-Kenneth's own. When you pulled that string,
a tiny glass phial was broken, the contents-sulphuric
acid, or in other words oil of vitriol-were spilt over a
mixture of sugar and chlorate of potash, and a flame,
that communicated with a saucerful of paraffin and the
dry grass, sprang up instanter.
But let us see how the plan worked.
Kenneth's household arrangements being still
incomplete, he continued to dine, or mess, I might say,
at Tom Carter's table.
On the evening of his first grand hunt he came to
dinner, not in his dress suit, as he usually did with