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bili killed by the lion. The ground around was searched by the various men, and the conclusion was soon arrived at, that although the horses were all dead but one, yet their late captives had by some means managed to escape. The next proceeding was, therefore, to find the spoor, so as to discover in which direction they were to pursue. This was a work of time, for the late heavy rain had washed out nearly every trace from the previously hard soil; but the skilled spoorers spread out in various directions, and some of them at length found the traces of the horse that Bernhard had ridden away.
The Matabili at this were delighted; they believed that the three men had started on foot and had placed one or both of the females on horseback : thus they believed their journey could be accomplished only slowly, so that there was every chance of the fleet-footed
savages overtaking their escaped captives, and shortly bringing them back to their prison. The whole party soon assembled round the traces of the horses and held a brief consultation. No time was to be lost in following this spoor; and the most quick-sighted Matabili were at once sent forward to trace it on before. The remainder followed, and looked anxiously for the footprint of man.
When, however, some very soft ground had been passed, and no footprints were seen, the leader, an experienced and cunning savage, called on his men to halt, and explained to them that there should be some other footprints besides those which they had seen.
• There were three men, and two women; one of these
has been killed and eaten by a lion,' said the Matabili chief: for he knew not that the skull belonged to one of his own people. “We can see the spoor of but one horse; on that the women would probably ride ;-but where are the men's footprints? We must find these.
They have not crossed this soft ground: there is no spoor here. They may have crossed higher up, where the ground is harder. Look, men, and find some spoor, or we may be making a mistake.'
Every search was made for several hundred yards on either side of the soft ground on which was the spoor of Bernhard's horse, but with no satisfactory results.
“The rain must have washed out the spoor,' was at length the expressed opinion of the majority of the Matabili, and the whole party would immediately have followed the traces of the horse, had not another old Matabili agreed with the chief man that it was not wise to go on without some more spoor being seen.
The chief, being thus strengthened in his suspicions, decided to leave ten men behind to examine every likely place near, especially the kloofs on the hill-sides, and then to follow with all speed the main body, who would push on in hopes of overtaking the fugitives.
Hans and Victor watched the Matabili as all these proceedings were carried on. They guessed what the doubts were which delayed the pursuit of the spoor, and they counted with considerable anxiety the number of the Matabili who were detailed for the purpose of examining the kloofs. From the smallness of this
party both men believed that the Matabili did not consider it very probable that their captives were concealed thereabouts, and they were also inclined to think that ten Matabili were by no means a match for two Dutch Mensch armed with their trusty roers.
"We shall have a fight for it, Victor,' said Hans; and we ought not to let one of these men escape, or they will bring a host of savages down upon us before Bernhard can return with help. They don't know where we are, and so we shall have the full advantage of a surprise, and we should, if possible, shoot so as to send our bullets through two men at a time.'
"See, they are going back to our last outspan, and will there try to pick up our spoor ; but even a Matabili will be puzzled to find any traces that the heavy rains have not washed out. It will be good to tie up some powder and bullets in cartridges,' continued Hans; 'we shall want quick loading; and let us take care not to both fire at once, unless in extremities,—then we shall always have two bullets ready for them. We must kill or wound four Matabili with each barrel; and I think a bullet cut into four, and two bits put on the top of each charge, will be good ; thus we shall do more than give one wound. We must not think of the cruelty, Victor; for it is for life, and for those poor girls, we fight. We shall be tortured and then killed like oxen if we are defeated. Luckily the wind is not fair for the main body to hear our guns, and a part of the hill is between us, or the report might bring them all back again.'
Approach of the Matabili.
Katrine,' said Hans, 'keep quiet in your cave, and on no account show yourself. We shall have to fire some shots soon, but never fear for our success.'
'Is it the Matabili murderers again, Hans ?' inquired Katrine. ‘I will pray for you, Hans; but take care of yourself, and don't run more risk than is necessary.'
The Matabili who were left behind searched carefully for spoor, but without success; they therefore advanced to the nearest kloof, determined to search each of these in succession.
'In that kloof,' said Hans, 'I don't think my spoor could be seen; for I merely walked once a part of the way down it; at the top, however, they may find my footprints ; at least, if they can read them on the grass.'
It occupied the enemy fully half an hour to ascend the kloof and reach the summit, where Hans and Victor had a distinct view of them; they halted on reaching the top of the kloof, and examined the ground in all directions, and scanned the various ridges and rocks.
“They do not seem to think there is an enemy here, Victor,' said Hans: 'I believe they would take more care of themselves if they did. They stand quite unconcerned, though they might be made targets of at
This I don't think they would do if they suspected us of being concealed hereabouts. We must not fire a shot as long as there is a chance of our escaping detection, for it may be better far to escape being seen, than even to kill all these men.'
•We will not fire, Hans, unless a man comes across
the little causeway there leading to this table-land; then it would be better to make sure of our foe. See, Hans,' whispered Victor ; 'they have discovered your footprints, and are coming on rapidly: we shall find fighting a necessity now.
“They bring it on their own heads, then,' said Hans, as he tapped his gun to secure the powder being up in each nipple: “you fire first, Victor, and take two in a line if you can, whilst I wait for the next shot.'
The Matabili had undoubtedly discovered the footmarks of Hans, as they ran rapidly along the pathway which he had trodden the day previously; but they seemed to entirely underrate their enemy, as they took no precautions for concealment. As they approached the caves the men jostled each other in their eagerness to get first, and grasping their spears, they waved them in the air as though they already felt them penetrating the white men's flesh. In a very short time they had reached the ridge leading to the caves, and upon the first men arriving at this point they saw the caves and the means adopted by Hans to make these secure from wind and rain ; the Matabili at once recognized this as the work of men, and with a yell of pleasure they dashed forward.
Now,' whispered Hans; and Victor, whose gun was at his shoulder, pressed the trigger, and the loud report of the heavy gun (for it was an eight to the pound that Victor used) for a moment deafened all other sounds. Hans and Victor stooped low to see