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Expedition of the Matabili—Hans telegraphs to Katrine, and
receives his Answer.
IMMEDIATELY daylight enabled Hans to see
the surrounding country, he examined with his
glass the kraals of the Matabili, both far and
Several objects attracted his attention, among which were some which threatened the safety of himself and party. Several armed bodies of the natives were leaving the villages and departing hastily in various directions, as though engaged on business of importance. Hans, aware of the craftiness of his enemies, felt considerable uneasiness at these numerous departures; for he was well aware that if the Matabili had by chance discovered his hiding-place, they would not venture to attack him except in overwhelming numbers, but would first ascertain for certain that he was in the ravine ; a fact which they would prove by examining the ground in all directions and finding footmarks which led into the kloof, but none which led out of it; then they would despatch several small parties with orders to assemble at certain parts of the ravine and there to form an ambuscade which was to intercept the retreat of Hans and his companions.
The Matabili, like most of the natives of South Africa, were accustomed to hunt the largest, most cunning, and fiercest animals, and from these they had taken many hints; the buffalo, for example, when wounded would retreat rapidly until out of sight, would then return and hide itself in the bush not far from the place from which it originally started; the hunter, unacquainted with the cunning of this creature, would probably follow it rapidly in its first retreat and would be suddenly surprised at finding himself within a few yards of the creature, which would probably be in the act of charging him. Although Hans observed that all the parties of the Matabili left their kraals, and moved in a contrary direction to the kloof in which he was concealed, yet he was not satisfied that they did not, when out of sight, turn, and make their way back, so as to be ready to attack him immediately he and his companions moved from their concealment.
"The Matabili are moving early,' said Victor, as he joined Hans and watched the various armed parties spreading over the country; they must be going to attack our people.'
Some of them may possibly be sent to watch us; for they rarely give up a spoor as plain as ours must have been. Still I have a plan which may defeat them, if they think to trap us here. But look, Victor, with my glass, and tell me, do my eyes deceive me; is not that
A curious Telegraph.
white object near that large kraal, a woman's dress? and is not that Katrine? But I forget, you would not recognize her so far off, though I can ; but tell me if it is not a white woman's dress and manner.'
Victor took the telescope, and making a slight alteration in the focus, directed it at the object indicated. After a very brief examination, Victor said,
“That, Hans, is a white woman without doubt; and following her, I see another and a smaller woman, who I think also is white.'
Hans, who had been solely occupied in examining the first female figure, had not observed the second; but now, taking the glass, he at once found that Victor's observation was correct.
'I know now that must be Katrine, and her sister is behind her. I will let her know I am here.'
How can you do that, Hans?' inquired Victor with surprise ; she is more than a mile from us.'
'I will show you, Victor; it is an old way of letting her know, that I practised for months, and she is accustomed to it. See this !'
Hans took from his pocket a small looking-glass, which was protected in a tin case; examining the direction of the sun, he then held the hand-glass so that its flash should be cast towards the plains; this he did very cautiously, having placed himself so that some leaves of a tree served to guide him as to the direction in which the reflection should be cast. As soon as he had made these preparations to his satisfaction, he said,
“Now, Victor, rest the telescope on the branch of that tree, and tell me what Katrine does.'
Victor arranged the telescope as requested, whilst Hans slightly moved his mirror, so as to cast the flash in the direction of Katrine. During the first few minutes no effect seemed to result from Hans' performance. Katrine was walking slowly over the plain, her head cast down as though she were in deep thought, and looking neither to the right nor left. Her sister was, when first seen by Victor, nearly a hundred yards behind her; but shortly afterwards she ran to her elder sister and took her hand. All this Victor saw with his telescope and described to Hans, who still flashed the mirror in what he believed to be the right direction.
Now they see it,' exclaimed Victor. · The little one has seen it and drags her sister round; points here at us, and now they are both looking this way! See, Hans, the tall one is waving a handkerchief! Heavens, if a Matabili sees her, we shall be defeated in our plans! but now she has stopped waving her handkerchief, and is kissing her sister.'
“Watch her now, Victor, and tell me every thing she does.'
Victor looked eagerly through the telescope, and shortly saw what he described in the following words'She seems to be looking all round, Hans, and uncertain where to go to : now she is walking quickly towards us, and her sister with her ; she still comes on, and now she stops.'
Watch now, Victor, and see if she stoops and picks up any thing, and tell me how often she stoops.'
She does stoop,' said Victor. “The girl is clever if this is a signal; she has picked up something and is looking at it; she stoops again and picks up something else; now she stands up and shakes her hankerchief, as though knocking off a fly; now she walks slowly back towards the kraal. Hans, I fear she has not seen your signal.
“She has seen it, and has answered it, Victor,' said Hans; "and in two hours she will come to this ravine; that is what she tells me.'
A look of half wonder, half incredulity passed across the face of Victor at this remark of Hans.
"You don't understand, I see, Victor, but I will explain. Since I have been courting Katrine, I have been accustomed to ride to the krantz about two miles from her father's house, when there I would flash my mirror to let her know where I was; this soon attracted her attention, and she had been taught by me to stoop and pick up something, as a signal. If I was to meet her at once, she only waved her handkerchief; but if she stooped and picked up something, I was to meet her in one hour; if she stooped twice, in two hours,—and so on. Now you say, and I just distinguished, that she stooped twice; so our meeting will be in two hours.'
‘But why will she come to us in this ravine ?'
"We agreed, that if I was to come to her house, she was to walk towards it, but if I was to meet her near