Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/252

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

determined woman, not only refused compliance, but commanded the fellow instantly to dismount and go about his business. On his hesitating, she unceremoniously pulled him off the horse, and threatened to knock him down if he did not immediately leave the house. Fearing, however, that he might return with his crew during the night to revenge himself, and, perhaps, take forcible possession of the young lions, she ordered Bassingweight and another of her servants (having previously primed them with cordials to raise their spirits and courage) to proceed at dusk toward the Bay to watch the enemy's movements. Mrs. Dickson's surmise proved correct; for the men had not gone far before they distinguished the clamorous voices of a number of persons who were rapidly approaching them. Squatting behind some sand-hillocks, they allowed the marauders to come within range, when they fired a shot over their heads, which had the desired effect. Without waiting for further hostility, Jack instantly bolted. Elated by their easy success, Bassingweight and his companion instantly gave chase, and on coming up with the fugitives, a terrible pele-mêle fight ensued. Notwithstanding one of the men was almost a giant in strength and stature, the odds were too great, and they were on the point of being overpowered. At this critical moment Bassingweight called loudly for assistance, hoping that some of the natives, who occasionally slept on the beach, might come to the rescue. To their inexpressible relief, up rose from among a number of empty barrels, which happened to be ranged along the shore, a Bushman. His appearance acted like magic, and instantly turned the cards in their favor; for the sailors, as it was afterward ascertained, imagining the casks to be savages also, and dreading probably their poisoned arrows, were seized with a panic, and fled precipitately in every direction, some rushing up to their necks in water, while others actually fell on their knees begging forgiveness! Unless for the Bushman, Bassingweight assured me that himself and companion must have been inevitably killed.