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•The rock is not easy to ascend even when friends help you,' said Bernhard; and when you are to be rewarded with a thrust from that lance the instant you reach the summit, it is no wonder the Matabili did not get up. You could not have slept much, Hans, during the last three nights, nor have you had very good dinners. When the men all come back from finishing those rascals, we will have a good feast; and you must tell the Mensch all your adventures. We have been lucky, Hans : few men go through such scenes as we have, and live to tell it. Poor Katie looks worn out, and no wonder; and her sister too is ill. But we have horses for them to ride home, and they shall sleep in peace tonight, for there will be plenty to watch.'
The hunters who had followed the Matabili returned slowly from the pursuit, but at length all of them assembled around or on the rock. Much interest and curiosity were manifested by them all to examine the means which had enabled Hans to hold out against such overwhelming odds. Each hunter appreciated the strength of the place after he had climbed up the rock; and so formidable was this ascent, that several declined to attempt it: by raising one of the trees against the rock, and securing this there, they were all enabled to ascend.
The means taken by Hans to cut off his communication with the neighbouring ground, by destroying the narrow causeway that had joined the two, was approved of by the most experienced men, whilst Hans' long spear delighted the hunters.
The Return Home.
Firewood having been collected in the ravine below, a fire was soon made, and some dozen or more tin pannikins were brewing coffee, whilst large eland steaks were being broiled, and the victorious hunters and their rescued relatives enjoyed a hearty meal.
Being aware of the strength and cunning of their enemy, the leader of the party decided to lose no time in escaping beyond where it was likely he would be followed; so, as the horses were now refreshed, as well as their riders, the steeds were saddled, and the whole party rode forward, towards the country in which their main body had taken up
their residence. Fearing no immediate attack from the Matabili, though aware of the necessity of watchfulness, hunting was carried on only to a sufficient extent to supply the bivouac with food. Eland beef, therefore, was plentiful, and other varieties of game not wanting ; so that but little hardship was encountered even by Katrine and her sister during the four days that they took to ride to the läger of their relatives.
The Boers' Camp— The Plans for the Future-Off to Natal - Treaty
with the Zulu Chief-His Treachery-Slaughter of the BoersThe Defence of the Boers.
N the return of Hans and the party of hunters to
the head-quarters of the Boers on the branches
of the Vet river, matters were in a very unsettled state. Amongst the Boers who, dissatisfied with the British laws, had emigrated into the interior, there were dissensions. Some of the men of wealth and influence were for remaining on the ground they then occupied, trusting the lesson they had already given to the Matabili would be a sufficient warning to prevent them from again venturing into the country which the emigrants now laid claim to. A large majority, however, were in favour of another commando against the Matabili, and this party eventually carried the day, and preparations were at once commenced for an expedition against this formidable savage. Others again, and amongst these was Retief, the elected leader of the emigrants, was in favour of treking to the fertile plains south of the Another Journey.
Quathlamba Mountains, and near the Bay of Natal. He was induced to take this step in consequence of the reports which he had received from some connexions who had just previously started from Uitenhage and had joined a small party of English at the Bay of Natal.
Finding these dissensions going on, Hans placed Katrine under the charge of an aunt, and placed himself at the disposal of those whom he considered fitted to rule the affairs of the emigrants.
' As soon as things are settled, Katie,' he said, 'when we have decided where we are to rest, I will build a house, and we will marry; but I doubt if I should be as ready for the trek and for fighting if I left you a young wife behind, as if I left you free; and so we will wait.'
The winter passed away, and towards the spring intelligence reached the Boers' encampment that the Matabili, having heard of their enemy's preparation for an attack, had driven all their cattle far into the interior, and had themselves withdrawn so far that to pursue them would neither be a wise nor a profitable proceeding. Thus the proposed expedition against the Matabili was given up, and the whole attention of the emigrants directed to emigrating to Natal.
A general movement of the camp was immediately commenced, and Hans, attaching himself, with his two companions Victor and Bernhard, to the waggons of Katrine and her relatives, followed the leaders, who started for the long and adventurous journey to the south-east.
During many weeks the emigrants journeyed on, following the track of Retief and his party, who had found a means of passing through the Quathlamba Mountains with their waggons, and in reaching the fertile plains beyond. Here, on the banks of the Bushmen's river, Hans, with a large party of his connexions, decided to halt. The country was well watered and fertile, the climate all that could be wished, and abundance of pasturage for the cattle ; thus seeming to possess all those qualifications which the emigrants had sought for when they started on their expedition from the old colony of the Cape.
“We may rest here in peace,' said Hans to his two friends. “We shall not have English interference; we have plenty of grazing-ground; there are enough of us to prevent any enemy from attacking us; there are plains under the mountains on which we can hunt elands when we choose, and we can cultivate our land with no fear of having to leave our farms in a hurry. So, as soon as I can build a house, I shall marry Katrine, and settle quietly down here. We must take a hunt after the elephant, though, now and then, Victor, just to get some ivory, for the gold is thus easily procured. It was good to trek from the old colony, friends, was it not?'
The party to which Hans had attached himself had been located some months on the banks of the Bushmen's river, and had begun to gather some of the produce of their agricultural labours. About the same