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our whole bodies were dry. A death-like stillness now reigned around, contrasting fearfully with the wild wind and the dashing of the billows outside, along with the crashing of thunder above. At length the dismal scene drew near its close. I heard a voice from the main hatchway, which I knew to be that of the boatswain's mate, calling me loudly by name. Without making a reply, I dived instantly down where I caught a glimpse of light, through the gun-room hatch, and came out on the other side. My companion soon followed, and we found that the rest of the party had already escaped by the main hatchway. The surgeon was the first person I met with at this most happy moment, and through his kindness and attention I was soon carefully folded in blankets.
Our actual position at this time could not be ascertained. The hours of darkness, during which nothing could be done, must have appeared an age of anxiety and deep suspense to those who had passed all the night on the cold side or rigging of the ship; but to us, who had but just been admitted to any hope at all, it was far otherwise. Day at length dawned upon that night of terrors, and the appearance of land, within a few hundred yards of us, was a most cheering sight. brig had been driven into a small bay, with a reef of rocks lying outside of her, and with a heavy surf then washing the beach. With every drawback of the surge, casks of flour, and empty casks that once had held spirits and other stores, dressing cases, boxes, pieces of furniture, books, instrument cases, and writing desks-all floated about in a confused mass. Several of our men had swam on shore during the morning, and we now discovered the marines of the settlement, that had lately been established on shore, ready to lend us a helpinghand. Our men were now in comparative safety, the strength of the gale having abated; and a boat soon arrived, which delivered us from our perilous position.
Tales for Spare Hours.
Lyrate, lyre-shaped (like an oak leaf).
Leeward (pron. looard), the point to which the wind blows; opp. windward.
Circuit, roundabout road.
Decoy, something employed to entice into a snare
STALKING THE OUREBI-SOUTH AFRICA.
Ir was to Hendrik that our youthful hunters were indebted, not only for a pet, but for a dinner of delicate venison, which they had that day eaten. Hendrik had procured the venison by a shot from his rifle, and in the following manner.
About midday he went out, having fancied that upon a large grassy ineadow near the camp he saw some animal. After walking about half a mile, and keeping among bushes, around the edge of the meadow, he got near enough to be sure that it was an animal he had observed, for he now saw two in the place he had marked.
They were of a kind he had not met with before. They were very small creatures,-smaller even than springboks,but, from their general form and appearance, Hendrik knew they were either antelopes or deer; and, as Hans had told him there were no deer in Southern Africa, he concluded they must be some species of antelope. They were a buck and doe, this he knew, because one of them only carried horns. The buck was under two feet in height, of slender make, and pale tawny color. He was white-bellied, with white arches above the eyes, and some long white hair under the throat. Below his knees were yellowish tufts of long hair; and his horns-instead of being lyrate, like those of the springbokrose nearly vertical to the height of four inches. They were black in color, round-shaped, and slightly ringed. The doe was without horns, and was a much smaller animal than her mate.
From all these marks, Hendrik thought the little antelopes were ourebis;" and such they were.
He continued to stalk in upon them, until he was as close as he could get. But he was still more than two hundred
yards from them, and, of course, far from being within shooting distance with his small rifle. A thick jong dora bush concealed him, but he dared not go farther, else the game would have taken the alarm. He could perceive that they were shy creatures. Every now and again the buck would raise his graceful neck to its full stretch, utter a slight bleating call, and look suspiciously around him. From these symptoms Hendrik drew the inference that it was shy game, and would not be easily approached.
He lay for a moment, thinking what he should do. He was to leeward of the game, as he had purposely gone there; but after awhile, he saw that they were feeding up the wind, and, of course, widening the distance between them and himself.
It occurred to Hendrik that it might be their habit to browse up the wind, as springboks and some other species do. If so, he might as well give it up, or else make a long circuit and head them. To do this would be a work of labor and of time, and a very uncertain stalk it would be in the end. After all his long tramping, and creeping, and crouching, the game would be like enough to scent him before they came within shot. It is for this very reason that their instinct teaches them to browse against, and not with the wind. As the plain was large, and the cover very distant, Hendrik was discouraged, and gave up the design he had half formed of trying to head
He was about to rise to his feet, and return home, when occurred to him that perhaps he might find a decoy available. He knew there were several species of antelopes, with whom curiosity was stronger than fear. He had often lured the springbok within reach. Why would not these obey the same impulse ?
He determined to make trial. At the worst he could only fail, and he had no chance of getting a shot otherwise.
Chagrin (pron. shagreen), vexation, annoyance.
Fantastic, odd, ridiculous.
Without losing a moment he thrust his hand into his pocket. He should have found there a large red handkerchief, which he had more than once used for a similar purpose. To his chagrin it was not there!
He dived into both pockets of his jacket, then into his wide trousers, then under the breast of his waistcoat. No. The handkerchief was not to be found. Alas! it had been left in the wagon! This was very annoying.
What else could he make use of? Take off his jacket and hold it up? It was not gay enough in color. It would not do.
Should he raise his hat upon the end of his gun. That might be better, but still it would look too much like the human form, and Hendrik knew that all animals feared that. A happy thought at length occurred to him. He had heard, that with the curious antelopes, strange forms or movements attract almost as much as glaring colors. He remembered a trick that was said to be practised with success by the hunters. It was easy enough, and consisted merely in the hunter standing upon his hands and head, and kicking his heels in the air!
Now Hendrik happened to be one of those very boys who had often practised this little bit of gymnastics for amusement; and he could stand upon his head like an acrobat. Without losing a moment he placed his rifle upon the ground, between his hands, and hoisting his feet into the air, commenced kicking them about, clinking them together, and crossing them in the most fantastic manner.
He had placed himself so that his face was turned towards the animals, while he stood upon his head. Of course he could not see them while in this position, as the grass was a foot high; but, at intervals, he permitted his feet to descend to the earth; and then, by looking between his legs, he could tell how the trick was succeeding. It did succeed. The buck, on first perceiving the strange object, uttered a sharp whistle, and darted off with the swiftness of a bird-for the "ourebi" is one of the swiftest of African antelopes. The doe followed, though not so fast, and soon fell into the rear.
The buck, perceiving this, suddenly halted as if ashamed of his want of gallantry-wheeled round, and galloped back, until he was once more between the doe and the odd thing that had alarmed him.
Bipod, two-footed; quadruped, four-footed animal.
What could this odd thing be? he now seemed to inquire of himself. It was not a lion, nor a leopard, nor a hyena, nor yet a jackal. It was neither fox, nor fennec, nor earthwolf, nor wild hound, nor any of his well-known enemies. It was not a Bushman either, for they are not double-headed as it appeared. What could it be? It had kept its place-it had not pursued him. Perhaps it was not at all dangerous. No doubt it was harmless enough.
So reasoned the ourebi. His curiosity overcame his fear. He would go a little nearer. He would have a better view of the thing before he took to flight. No matter what it was, it could do no hurt at that distance; and as to overtaking him, pah! there wasn't a creature, biped or quadruped, in all Africa, that he could not fling dust in the face of.
So he went a little nearer, and then a little nearer still, and continued to advance by successive runs, now this way and now that way, zigzagging over the plain, until he was within less than a hundred paces of the odd object that at first sight had so terrified him.
His companion, the doe, kept close after him; and seemed quite as curious as himself-her large shining eyes opened to their full extent, as she stopped to gaze at intervals. Sometimes the two met each other in their course, and halted a moment, as though they held consultation in whispers; and asked each other if they had yet made out the character of the stranger.
It was evident, however, that neither had done so-as they still continued to approach it with looks and gestures of inquiry and wonder.
At length, the odd object disappeared for a moment under the grass, and then reappeared; but this time in an altered form. Something about it glanced brightly under the sun, and this