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to obtain aid, he would be able to return in half that time, and with as efficient a force as could be expected. Reflecting upon the probable results of the morrow, he sank to sleep, and enjoyed a night's rest undisturbed by any of the numerous sounds that broke the silence of the wilderness.
The Fight for Life-Grand Attack of the Matabili-Help arrives — The Meeting of Old Friends-Retreat from the Stronghold.
HEY may yell, Victor,' exclaimed Hans, 'but they have not taken us yet at least fifty of them will not see to-morrow's sun rise, before
they capture us. If we had only half a dozen more Mensch here, we would give them a lesson; or if we had an unlimited supply of ammunition. Now I dare not fire a shot unless I am certain of my man; so we cannot be as dangerous as we otherwise should be. When these new arrivals come, they will try to scale our stronghold, and we shall then have to use our long spears again.
In half an hour the reinforcement had joined their dark brethren, and there was evidently a consultation going on in the ravine below: there was much talking audible, whilst the men did not show themselves in the neighbourhood. After a time there was a sound as if trees were being felled, and Hans and Victor then knew. some plan was going to be put in practice against
them. They were not long left in doubt, for, upon a loud yell being uttered, five parties of Matabili, each consisting of above twenty men, rushed towards the rocks, each carrying a slender tree about forty feet in length. These they had cut, and left a few branches on, so that they could be easily climbed. The trees were to be placed against the face of the rock, and in fact were not a bad imitation of a scaling-ladder.
'Our guns for this, Victor,' said Hans; 'let us thin them as they come; then our spears as they come within reach of them.'
To men fighting for their lives as were the two Dutchmen, a shot was a matter of deep importance; and so steady was their aim, that after four discharges the bearers of two of the trees had suffered so severely that they retreated precipitately to the cover of the bush. The others, however, placed theirs upright against the rock, and had they been able to ascend three or four abreast, the fate of Hans and his party would soon have been decided; the Matabili, however, would not quit their shields or spears, and therefore, with only one hand to aid them, and being able to ascend merely one after the other, Hans and Victor had time to reload, and before the most active savage could set his foot on the rock, he was thrust back with the long spears, a second and a third stabbed in the same manner, whilst, dropping the spear and seizing his gun, Hans shot two Matabili who were urging on those before them.
Such rapid slaughter caused a panic among those who
were exposed to the deadly aim of the hunters, and they gave up their first attempt of climbing on the rock, and fled amongst the bushes and trees.
'Now, Hans,' said Victor, 'let us push these trees down: it will take them some time to put them up again.'
The two men pushed the tops of the trees which reached to their position on one side, and then by aid of their long bamboos shoved them so much out of the perpendicular that they fell by their own weight to the ground.
Having accomplished this, they were able to turn their attention to their numerous enemies below them, who seemed to be clustering together for a second rush, and another attempt on their stronghold. The whole force had now assembled for a determined assault, and were merely waiting for the signal of the chief who was to direct them. At this instant Hans heard the voice of Katrine, which was audible amidst the din of the yelling savages below. Knowing that she would not take off his attention unless for a special reason, he called out,
'What is it, Katie ?'
'Help is near, Hans: I am certain I saw three mounted Mensch ride at a gallop over the far ridge, and enter the bush. I just looked there, and as I looked I saw these three an instant before they disappeared.'
'Are you certain, Katie? But three men, unless they could come up here to us, will only be slaughtered if they get into the bush.'
'There might have been many more, Hans, and they might have gone out of sight before I looked up; but they must come here in a very few minutes. Oh, the fiends, how they yell!' exclaimed Katrine, as the Matabili, preparing for their rush, shrieked at the top of their voices.
'Don't let us waste a shot, Victor: we must hold on another half-hour, and we may get aid. Kate has seen
white men near.'
'The Matabili are very numerous, Hans: I hope there will be plenty of aid, if it does come.'
'Look, Victor! look! what are they doing?' exclaimed Hans, as the Matabili, suddenly ceasing their yells, turned from the rock, and ran rapidly into the bush.
The two besieged men were not long left in uncertainty as to the change in the Matabili's proceedings, for from the bush below there came the loud report of a gun, followed by a second, and then half a dozen at a time. The threatening yells of the Matabili were changed into shrieks of agony, as they felt the deadly effects of the doublebarrelled guns of nearly thirty experienced hunters. a few minutes the black warriors stood their ground, and even attempted a charge; but their ox-hide shields. offering no resistance to the bullets of their opponents, the boldest among them were soon shot, and the remainder fled in disorder, staying not until they had reached the more open plain, or when exhausted and out of breath they could run no more.
The hunters were not yet aware whether their friends and connexions were all safe, but they determined to