صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

mirage spread screens of fan- in searoh, whose whereabouts tasy out for our entertain- he indicated by simply pointment – curious cliffs, odd- ing to the east, and muttering, shaped mountains, inverted “Chung” (there). We tried palms were displayed in an to induce him to accompany attraotion of colour that was as, but, judging by his obvi. never seen outside & Tarner ous relactance to our company, painting in water - colours. We concluded that he hadn't Nothing changed materially been too well treated by his 88 the horizon moved - we late employers, and had had moved, but we took our land. already quite sufficient of men soape with us. We were like of our colour. Upon rounding children walking inside a large a small hill we were greatly hoop, and kicking it forward surprised to find that we had as we stepped. Not a breath reached the end of our journey, of wind escaped from the oloud- for there, not two miles away, less sky: we were alone in a glistened a sheet of water, sarlifeless world; we had pashed rounded by dried grass, ex. beyond the habitat of all orea- setly similar to the veldt tares, ever onward into the grass of South Afrioa, and set still wastes; with eager eyes a few yards from the water's we seerohed the dusty plains edge a oouple of huts; even at of silence, but there was no that distance the unmistakespook of life to grace the burnt able work of white men. brown run of death. By the The sheet of water turned seventh day the mirages be- out to be a dam built to hold oame too common to deceive baok the water for tin-slaioing. even our shattered disorim- A wild yell of delight left the inating faculties: night de throats of our “boys” as if by Boended upon os dewless and mutual consent, and each man dreary, and we turned in to quickened his pace unoon. sleep with aching heads and goiously. I thought that the sore limbs after the toil and shout would have instantly labour of the day.

brought to the open any perTowards morn on the eighth sons who might have occupied day the landsoape changed the huts, but we were less than with almost theatrical sud- a hundred yards from them denness — strange odd-shaped before any one appeared. Even hills, abrupt and ragged, then the indifference and boreoropped ap on either hand. dom of the solitary figure was That evening, before we had so apparent that it was almost decided upon our night's sufficient to make one turn oamping - ground, we ran baok immediately. Presently aoross a herd of hump- the figure began to roll as if baoked oattle with a Filani drunk. We discovered it was herd. He was questioned in one of the least important Hansa, and he turned out to members of the party, not be a deserter from the camp necessary to desoribe here, who of the party of which we were had been left behind by the others while they went on an words were of inquiry, and exploring expedition ap the seemed to bring a look of river, which ran into the dam anxiety into each face; the from the eastern end. He man in the blue shirt answered expeoted them baok almost that there had been no acoi. any moment, in fact had taken dent of any kind. our shout for theirs, and there. “We are all safe as far as fore didn't trouble to hurry we know," he said. “The himself. As he explained dootor is away on a trip to the matters, my eye suddenly east with all the boys' we oaught something moving on had left but one, and he has the water's surface just under now deserted us.” the shadow of an overhang “So you have had siokness growth, and next moment & amongst the boys ?” I asked, dag-out canoe, holding five “Any deaths ?” men, oame into view. Directly “Yes, sir,” he replied. “You they sighted us they rent the see it's like this-blackwater air with a shout which made broke out amongst them the rest of our party turn all together, but we couldn't round, and instantly began induce them to let the dootor jabbing the water so furiously see them, as they said that with their paddles that the what medioine was good for small oanoe began to roll. Not white man no be good for possessing the balance of the blaok man; they refused to native born to the anstability take it, and all died with the of the oraft, I could see that exception of five, who are at they were in jeopardy, for present away with the dootor, two of them had to drop their not oounting the deserter.” paddles and begin to bail.

He spoke readily, as if Making all allowances for anxious to share some news the eagerness of mon who have which was too much for him spent a couple of years in to carry alone. I replied as isolation to greet friends from cheerfully as I could, and home, I found myself a little inquired about the rainy impatient at their rooklessness. season. However, they came alongside While one of my “boys" without accident, and one by was getting out some liquor one left the oraft. A man in comforts, I took & eloser look a blue shirt, with green neok at them : except for one who oloth, came first; his board was standing farther away and hair were red. Standing from us, they all seemed very in front of my party, I held much alike. He was obviout my hand to greet him, but ously still a lad, not more he turned to wait for his oom than twenty-two years old, rades, and not until all four and attraoted my attention men had landed did he come because of his boyish appearforward.

ance; the others were heavier There seemed to be some- and darker, and evidently thing odd in this. My first none of them had pat scissors to hair or beard for a couple had seen the cases opened of months. This sarprised me and some wine prodaoed; we greatly, as it is a very accordingly adjourned to one anasual thing in & land of the hats to drink it. where it is of the atmost When they had filled up, I difficulty to keep the head beganolean unless the hair is kept *Well, gentlemen, it is a short.

great pleasure to meet you A second glance at their and have the opportunity faces showed me the cause of to toast the success of the it. I should have noticed it expedition. Let as drink to sooner but for the fact that the safety of you `all, inthe hair on their faces con- cluding the doctor, who is cealed & pair of hollow and not amongst us, I suppose, emaciated cheeks in each oase, judging by appearance, this and I knew that the terrible is Mr Oxley sitting on my left, lifeless feeling left behind as but I cannot name the others, & reminder by malaria was However, that will come with accountable. I therefore under. acquaintance. Here's to the stood how they must have felt hes ” as they kept putting it off and The moment I had spoken off from time to time, as only Oxley's name I had smiled those who dwell in the tropics down at my neighbour; but can understand. The man in I had no answering smile, and the blue shirt was bigger and suddenly the glass was orushed barlier than his comrades, and to atoms between his fingers. evidently older, and as I He stared stupidly at the litter notioed this I had the im- of glass and wine as the others pression that all of them sprang to their feet. Suddenly looked older than I expected be banged his hand down apon to find them,

the table. The boyish-looking lad fin. “What made you think I ished a sentence, and his lips was Oxley?" he rasped. “My olosed in a straight line while name is Phoenix!” & line ran down from the This outburst was 88 dig. side of each nostril, making concerting as his aotion had his mouth triangular.

been, But I made shift to “Yes," he was saying; "in blurt out some words of August we had it one hundred apology, and the young boy. and twenty-five in the shade, ish-looking one jumped up, and it rained for six weeks and seizing Phønix's out without a break.”

hand, led him into another “That's bad,” I said. “Much apartment of the hot to have siokness?

it bandaged. “We all had malaria, but I immediately attributed the natives had blaokwater the outburst on the part of as well; it was then they Phønix to liver, knowing the died.”

feeling of unreasoning irritaBy this time the steward bility that can be produced

by constant doses of inter- barrassment of the meeting, mittent fever, and how easy I then presented the members it is to upset mon by the of my party, and a sort of merest trifles after the rains. freedom and conviviality enI resolved to think no more sued, which was just the sort about it, and to try and of thing I desired. smooth matters over by toast- “How was Oxley all this ing him as soon as he re- time?” I inquired. turned. As I was filling my “I think he was anæmio," glass the boy returned, but he said. “His voice had without Phoenix. A footfall wavered perceptibly, and his outside told me that Phoenix lips turned very blue. You had found his way out soe, we were all anæmio," he through some door which hastened to add. “We couldn't probably led out of the other get any exeroise, and the rain apartment, but as yet an- and thunder was maddening; known to us.

one thunderstorm seemed to Almost immediately he be- last for nearly a week. That gan to speak.

made the house a queer place, "Of course we should have sir,” he continued, with a more told you who we are, sir. Mr confident freedom. “We oculd Phenix is our obief, the rest do nothing but sleep, and used of us are Welsh Hughes- to feel too tired even to eat. beg pardon–Mr Hughes-Mr You see, sir, we have nothing Penn, Mr Tearle, and Dr to read but a few old books, O'Doa, who is away; and and we read those 80 many there's myself, my name is times, and got so siok of them, Ford, sir,"

that at last we tore them op, “Six,” I tallied mentally, beoause we knew them so well and noticed his eagerness to that we always know what get into conversation, while was coming next, and belooks of anxiety passed from sides, the colour of the covers face to face as he spoke. He used to annoy Oxley. We was about to continue, but had nothing to break the I interrupted.

monotony but walk about “That's only six," I said; from one room to another, “there should be seven.” As and as one was bound to want I mentioned this every man to walk while the other was stirred uneasily on his seat, sleeping, this always caused and judging by their looks, annoyance; and besides, sir, none of them envied Ford everybody thought that overyhis job of explaining

body else wanted to sleep in “You see, sir, Mr Oxley any room but the one he 06wasn't here when you called; oupied; so we all changed, he-he isn't always here." and then found we couldn't He spoke with the ease of stand it, and had to change & man acoustomed to draw. back again. Oh! sir, oan't ing - rooms, and his manner you see it was the rain - the was infectious after the em constant beating of the rain VOL, CCVIII.-NO. MCCLIX.

2 B

,

29 infection and more to dra of stand then

on our roof-it was madden. of the men had taken on a ing; and the thunder-it never similar hue. I could see that stopped.”

he was completely unnerved, "Did you try nothing in and forbore to question him the shape of concerts ?” I further that night. inquired.

So bidding them all come "We did, sir," he replied. and join us at “chop," I left “But- "

the but just in time to get a “Did Oxley over take part wash before dinner was anin them?"

nounced by the steward. “Oh yes. Oxley could sing It was with a head heavy all right - in fact, I liked with protest against the men listening to him; but one who could not show a little evening he wanted to sing more tolerance to one in the & song with four verses, and game boat as themselves that the fellows didn't like it." I lay apon the bed that night,

“So you quarrelled ?" I and who through their actions ventured.

had driven one of their soanty “Well, no, sir, not exaotly number out into that desothat; but you see everybody lation of desolations. But I else only sang one-verse songs, slept soundly on the thought and besides, sir,” he added, “we that I would see him next all had pains in our heads from morning; and awaked about the fever and quinine."

six. “Used he to put on what is As I started towards the oalled 'side'?I inquired. but a figare oame out to meet

“Yes, sir, that's just it, only me, and introduced himself as I didn't like to say so," he re- the dootor, and expressed replied in the manner of one gret that he wasn't present finding relief at the completion when I arrived. of a job which he expected I expressed a desire for a diffioulty in boginning. “You walk, and the dootor agreed to see, he was a university obap 8o0ompany me; we returned and had college ways, and just in time for breakfast. Ag used to want to shake hands I went into their hut I met with the follows on any special Penn. I had the impression oooasion, and used to say 'old that he wasn't pleased to see chap?.”.

Just as he spoke, as if in “Good morning," I said. Up echo to his last words, came to this time I hadn't taken the ory of "old shap," clear muoh notice of him, but at the and distinot on the night thin dry “'n'morning" which air,

he returned me, I took a second Instantly the recollection of look at him. “How do you having heard it before orossed do?I responded, and held out my mind, and I glanood at my hand. He gave my hand Ford; his face had gone ashen what I thought was a very grey, and the faces of the rest flabby handshake. I looked

me.

Des de come ashen my hare responde

[graphic]
« السابقةمتابعة »