Allan's Wife eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 152 pages of information about Allan's Wife.

After that I left him.  We had been suffering more than usual from the depredations of the Kaffir thieves, who stole our sheep at night, and, as I had done before, and not without success, I determined to watch the kraal and see if I could catch them.  Indeed, it was from this habit of mine of watching at night that I first got my native name of Macumazahn, which may be roughly translated as “he who sleeps with one eye open.”  So I took my rifle and rose to go.  But he called me to him and kissed me on the forehead, saying, “God bless you, Allan!  I hope that you will think of your old father sometimes, and that you will lead a good and happy life.”

I remember that I did not much like his tone at the time, but set it down to an attack of low spirits, to which he grew very subject as the years went on.  I went down to the kraal and watched till within an hour of sunrise; then, as no thieves appeared, returned to the station.  As I came near I was astonished to see a figure sitting in my father’s chair.  At first I thought it must be a drunken Kaffir, then that my father had fallen asleep there.

And so he had,—­for he was dead!

CHAPTER II

THE FIRE-FIGHT

When I had buried my father, and seen a successor installed in his place—­for the station was the property of the Society—­I set to work to carry out a plan which I had long cherished, but been unable to execute because it would have involved separation from my father.  Put shortly, it was to undertake a trading journey of exploration right through the countries now known as the Free State and the Transvaal, and as much further North as I could go.  It was an adventurous scheme, for though the emigrant Boers had begun to occupy positions in these territories, they were still to all practical purposes unexplored.  But I was now alone in the world, and it mattered little what became of me; so, driven on by the overmastering love of adventure, which, old as I am, will perhaps still be the cause of my death, I determined to undertake the journey.

Accordingly I sold such stock and goods as we had upon the station, reserving only the two best waggons and two spans of oxen.  The proceeds I invested in such goods as were then in fashion, for trading purposes, and in guns and ammunition.  The guns would have moved any modern explorer to merriment; but such as they were I managed to do a good deal of execution with them.  One of them was a single-barrelled, smooth bore, fitted for percussion caps—­a roer we called it—­which threw a three-ounce ball, and was charged with a handful of coarse black powder.  Many is the elephant that I killed with that roer, although it generally knocked me backwards when I fired it, which I only did under compulsion.  The best of the lot, perhaps, was a double-barrelled No. 12 shot-gun, but it had flint locks.  Also there were some old tower muskets, which might or

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Allan's Wife from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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