صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

This they contrived to accomplish tolerably well, by cutting down some stout bamboos for poles, and spreading over them the matting which had formed the sails of the sampan. The rug was spread over the ground, and Miss Griffin was satisfied with her dormitory. The men slept on the ground round the tent, and were undisturbed except by the cries of night-prowling animals, none of which, however, visited the encampment.

They left their repose reluctantly to renew their laborious efforts; but now Miss Griffin, seeing the necessity of yielding to circumstances, endeavoured to lessen the toil of the workmen by deigning to thread her way among the trees which covered the lower hills, and which were not so impenetrable as the bamboos of the thick jungle; and thus they were able to make a long progress before night and fatigue compelled them to rest at the side of a rippling mountain rill, the waters of which freshened the air, which was perfumed with the fragrance of flowers and fruit. There, beneath a fig-tree, they boiled, in the earthen jar, a portion of the rice they had still remaining, and, with the addition of a cocoa-nut, made their frugal repast, amused with the chattering of the parrots, and with the antics of the mischievous monkeys, that pelted the intruders with the figs, which, though not very luscious, were a welcome addition to their scanty food.

"What horrible creature is that feeding on the grass ?" cried Minna. "Can it be a crab, Walter, so

far from the sea?"

"It is one of the land-crabs, I am sure," answered he. "I know they burrow in mountains, and come out at night to feed. See, there are more! How ugly they are! but they are good to eat. So we must try to catch them. Come! let us have a chase."

Then with sticks and stones the men assailed the luckless crabs, which ran off swiftly after their side

long fashion of running, which diverted the boys greatly. Some of the creatures were laden with a little sheaf of grass which they held in their claws, but which did not seem to impede their progress. But the men, in their hunger, were desperate; six crabs were cut off in their retreat, and, though they fought bravely with their sharp pincers, were overcome, dispatched, and put down to roast in their hideous purple shell.

"Now," said Mr. Sinclair, 66 one of you climbing boys must procure a citron or some oranges to flavour the meat, which will then be excellent. And here comes another noisy creature, that is also eatable, but an awkward adversary."

This was a large wild hog, or babyroussa, which, grunting and wheezing, came up to enjoy the fruit which the monkeys flung down. To waste a charge on this animal was not thought expedient, and Tom undertook to stun it with a blow of the axe on the head, while the rest were to press on and complete the work of destruction with their knives. Miss Griffin and Minna retreated to their tent to avoid the sight of the butchery, which was not, after all, accomplished so easily as the men had anticipated; for the hard skull of the beast resisted Tom's heavy blow, and with frightful screams it ran forward, dashed its tusks against the poles of the tent, and overthrew it upon the terrified occupants, trampling over them in its attempt to escape. The assailants were, however, ready to meet it with repeated blows and wounds, and, though all more or less bruised by the contest, they finally overcame the desperate animal, which was speedily converted into rudely-shaped joints of pork, to the great contentment of Tom and Mike, who felt the misery of short allowance more than the rest. In the mean time, the tent had been raised, and the alarmed tenants consoled with the assurance that all danger was now past.

"I can scarcely realize the fact that we are both living," said Miss Griffin, "and I cannot refrain from entering my censure against the ill-regulated tactics which allowed the assailant to charge and overthrow your stronghold at the first attempt. A line of men, drawn out before the tent, would have protected it."

"Would it be her Majesty's Life Guards, God save them," said Mike, "we would be calling out over the say, to muster round your ladyship's honour, and they niver sinsible we were nading them a bit; for sorra a line of men we'd be gettin' here, barrin' ourselves, and we all mad just then, killing this same jewel of a grunter."

But as the ladies were found not only to be living, but to be unwounded, though a little bruised by their rude foe, Miss Griffin waived further remonstrance, the tent was restored to its security, Walter and Frank promised to watch in turn, lest any more alarms should occur in the night, and all retired to their needful rest.


Swamps and Snakes-Lizards and Insects-The Red Men-The Lady of the Cave-A fierce Combat-The Defeat of the Oran-outangs-The Waking of the Dead-Cultivated Grounds -A Village.

EARLY in the morning Mike and Tom were at work broiling steaks, which were dished up on the broad leaves of the plantain, and, with the addition of bowls of fresh cool water from the rivulet, they all made a capital breakfast, which gave them spirit for their daily

labour. They continued to walk through the wood, which was not only an easier road, but afforded them shelter from the burning sun, and fruit to refresh them. The jungle was now less intricate, the bamboos were replaced by reeds, then tall grass succeeded, and the broad green plain tempted the weary pilgrims to leave the woods. Fortunately Tom and Mike led the way, for a few steps plunged them into a marsh much more embarrassing than the jungle; they had literally sunk above the knees, and required the assistance of their friends to extricate themselves. From the long grass of the swamp the hideous heads of numerous venomous-loooking, brilliant snakes were reared, as if to defy the intrusion of strangers, and the whole of the travellers quickly retreated to the less dangerous forest.

"With these swamps between us and the sea," said Miss Griffin, "how can we ever reach it? We may be doomed to wander for ever beneath these lonely mountains."

"I do not fancy the swamps spread to any great distance," answered Mr. Sinclair. "Here the ground is low, but it must soon rise and become firmer; for I believe many branches run down towards the sea from the main chain of mountains."

Already I can see a hazy line before us," said Walter, after they had proceeded to some distance. "Depend on it, Miss Griffin, we shall soon escape from swamps and snakes; and I feel certain that the ground is firm at the edge of the marsh, and will bear such light steps as Minna's and mine.”

"Let us try, Walter," said Minna; and leaving the trees, they descended the slope to the unwooded plain, and skimmed along lightly among the long grass, which was mingled with beautiful and fragrant flowers, and they were soon in advance of the heavy brigade, as they named the elder party.

"There is something moving in the grass before us,

at the edge of that brook," said Minna. "Oh, Walter! I am dreadfully afraid! I see its glittering eyes ! Can it be an alligator?"

"Not in that shallow stream," replied he; "but keep behind me, Minna, and don't be afraid; I have a good stout stick. What a strange head! Run back for Mr. Sinclair to come and look at it. It is certainly something wonderful; but it moves so slowly, we need not have any alarm."

Mr. Sinclair was soon at the spot, accompanied by Frank, with a rifle, in case there was danger. The huge head was again raised to survey the newly-arrived strangers, who were near enough to observe that this monster, which appeared about six feet in length, was really nothing more than a gigantic lizard, or iguana, named, as Mr. Sinclair said, Hydrosaurus giganteus. It lashed its tail, and opened its hideous mouth, as if quite ready to be dangerous if it were meddled with h; and as it could not be useful for food, they withdrew from the very unpleasant neighbourhood of the monstrous animal.

"These damp woods seem to swarm with reptiles," said Mr. Sinclair. "Observe yon cluster of trees overhanging the water which appear to contain immense nations of animals. Even the fantastic forms of the curious Orchida, the irregular Flora of nature, which spring from the trunks, look like living creatures, and see what a variety of lizards are darting about amongst them. There is that terrific-looking little harmless animal, known by the name of the Flying dragon, and which really seems a miniature representative of that fabulous dragon which has been the dread of the superstitious in all ages. Now look at the smooth straight trunk of yon tall palm, and you may observe the rapid motion of that keen-looking little Tree Gecko, which runs as swiftly up the perpendicular stem, as if on the ground."

"And what millions of ants and honey-bees," said

« السابقةمتابعة »