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* And where will you be, Hans?' was Victor's inquiry.
'I,' said Hans, ‘will move on to that range of hills; there are kloofs and rocks there amidst which I can easily find a place of security for Katie and her sister; for the rest trust a hunter. They shall neither starve nor be made prisoners whilst I live. So now, which of you will go ? it is the post of danger to go as much as to remain. You, Bernhard, are the lightest man, and ought thus to ride fastest. In six days you should be back, and by that time we shall be accustomed to a rough life.'
'If Victor agrees to this, I will go,' said Bernhard ; and the sooner I go the better : first, though, shall we shoot the lion that killed the Kaffir? otherwise he might be an unpleasant neighbour to you, as he has tasted human flesh.'
“We had better let him stand,' said Hans: 'a shot fired here now might be heard on this still day twenty miles. We need not tell every pair of ears within twenty miles that white men are about, for then, perhaps, we might have curious eyes coming to look at us; besides, the lion may be useful to us again.'
*How?' exclaimed the two hunters ; not in killing another Matabili ?'
"No,' said Hans; 'but the sooner our horses are eaten the better. The vultures will be streaming in this direction very shortly, and as long as a scrap of flesh is on the bones of the animals the vogels will be hovering around this spot., A Matabili would naturally come to
see what was dead here, and might find our spoor; so, instead of one, I wish there were twenty lions ready to feast on our horses. I have no fear of lions when I get to those hills, for I will soon make a place there suitable for our safety. So we had better save our powder and bullets for even more cruel enemies than a lion.'
• That is true,' exclaimed Hans' two companions : 'so we will not seek to kill him. Let us look at the spot where he struck down the Matabili.'
The three hunters walked cautiously in the direction in which the lion might be yet concealed, and examined every bush and patch of grass around them. The footprints of the Matabili could be easily traced by these expert spoorers, and they soon found the spot on which the man had been killed. The lion had apparently followed the man from the direction of the hunters, and had struck him down at once, the assagies of the savage being found in a cluster, as though dropped from the helpless hand of the stricken man ; the body had then been dragged away about forty yards to some long grass, where the lion had commenced his feast, which had been finished by hyenas and jackalls; so that except a few bones, nothing remained to indicate that a human being had been sacrificed to the fury of a wild beast.
“This might have been the fate of one of us,' said Hans, as he pointed to the few remains before him. “It is the will of God to have spared us, and to have destroyed our enemy. We will trust that our fate may not be like his. We had better return now and make our
arrangements at once. We will conceal the saddles and bridles, and then they may be of use if you bring spare horses. So now for work, men, and you, Bernhard, had better ride on. You will not mistake your way, will
'No. I shall find the line easy, and my only fear is whether the horse will carry me.
I will bring you help, and that very shortly, or my life will be lost in the attempt—trust me, Hans;' and with a hearty farewell to the party, Bernhard rode off, on an expedition fraught with no little danger, for he had pathless plains to traverse, rivers to cross, mountain-ranges to find a pass through, and all this with the constant possibility of enemies around him, who would follow him till a chance occurred of taking him at a disadvantage.
Preparations for a Siege- The Rock and Caves—Wild Bees and
Rock Rabbits—The Baboons— The Night Watch.
HEN Bernhard's course had been watched for
some time, Hans decided at once to make his
preparations for a week's residence in the wilderness. He called Victor to his side, and explained to him the advantage of selecting the range of hills which were distant about two miles. These hills were rocky and steep, and thus an enemy could approach only from one side. There was much underwood, and thus there seemed every probability of a secure retreat being found. The difficulty, however, seemed to be how to reach these hills without leaving a visible trail. These advantages and drawbacks having been discussed between the two hunters, it was decided to run the risk of leaving a trail rather than wait where they then were ; but scarcely had Hans come to this conclusion than, upon looking westwards, from which direction the wind was blowing, he eagerly exclaimed,
‘God is good, and favours us. Look, Victor, a storm is coming.'
* And what of that, Hans ?' exclaimed Victor.
'Our spoor will be washed out, Victor : make haste, let us move on rapidly and gain those hills, and if we do so before the rain, the keenest-eyed Matabili will not be able to trace us; so come along. If no eyes are now on us, we may live here for a week without being discovered. Keep close together, Katie, and by my side, take advantage of every bush or slope of ground, and we will yet live to join our people again.'
The two hunters and their charges walked rapidly towards the hills which had been referred to, and entering on an old water-course, worked their way up towards the summit of the kloof.
Large blocks of rocks were lying about in all directions, and the water during heavy rains had worked its way among these, so that several hollows were scooped out so as to form caves large enough to hold one or two human beings; these, however, were not places which an experienced man like Hans would select for a resting-place, for he knew that the same cause which had produced these holes would render them unsuitable for habitations. He advanced, therefore, until he found some overhanging rocks which offered an ample protection against any rains which might fall, or winds that might blow, and here putting down the saddles and other articles that he had carried from the last outspan, he requested Victor to