Edward Stratemeyer.

Between Boer and Briton ; or, Two boy's adventures in South Africa online

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the valleys leading northeastward.

About half of the ride was completed without
special incident, and then the youth came to a por-
tion of the trail which led across a ford of one of the
branches of the Red Riyer. The ford was a bad one,
and as he approached it the youth could not help but
remember how, two years before, he had slipped on
the wet rocks and been almost carried off by the
rushing waters.

" Before long they will haye to either bridge that
creek oyer or find a new fording place," he thought.
" That gorge just aboye makes the water leap up so
fast that—"

Daye's mental soliloquy came to a sudden ending
as a muffled cry broke upon his ears. Then came a
shriek, and the wild snort of a bronco.

** Somebody is in the creek 1 " he ejaculated, and
urged Lightning forward. " Quick, old boy, perhaps
we can saye a life I "

The mustang seemed to understand, and laying
back his ears he bounded forward, and in a few sec-
onds Daye came into sight of the creek. The water

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was higher than he had anticipated, and swirled
madly as it came tumbling out of the gorge and
spread itself over the uneven rocks beyond*

** Help me 1 help I " came the cry, in a strangely
familiar voice. " Ton't let me die in der vater I "

** Dutch Henry t '* burst from Dave's lips. For one
single instant he felt like drawing back, then his
naturally noble nature asserted itself, and he urged
his mustang close to the edge of the stream.

Even in the darkness which was fast gathering in
the valley through which the creek flowed, it was
an easy matter to see what was the cause of Dutch
Henry's plight. His bronco had slipped and rolled
over and, on account of the strength of the current,
seemed unable to get up again. The rider's foot had
become caught in the stirrup strap, and now the leg
lay under the fallen beast, holding Dutch Henry a
close prisoner. The face of the man bobbed up and
down on the surface of the stream, disappearing and
reappearing with every move he made to save him-

"Forward, Lightning," said Dave, quietly but
firmly. The mustang hesitated a second, then did
as bidden. Soon the horse was up to his knees in
the rushing torrent. He shivered and shook but

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** Dutch Henry I '* burst from Dave's lips. — Page 38

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kept his footing, and Dave continued to urge liim

" Safe me I '* screamed Dutch Henry again, " I
vill gif you a hundred dollar of you safe me I "

" I'll do what I can ; but you must keep quiet,"
returned Dave. "You are scaring the bronco to
death, and if you are not careful he'll roll over you.
Easy now, Lightning, a little closer, whoal whoa I
That's it, — now then, git up ! "

Dave had come close to the bronco's head. He
leaned from the saddle and caught the beast by the
bridle. Lightning pulled forward with all his
strength, and Dave held on, and with a tremendous
splash the bronco came up and regained his feet.
Then he made a dash for the shore, dragging Kneip
after him, but the Dutchman managed to catch hold
of the animal's tail and thus saved himself from what
might have proved a fatal bumping on the rocks.

" Now I reckon you are all right," observed Dave,
when all were safe in a thicket beside the creek.
" But you had a close shave of it."

" Yah, and I vos all wet bis mine skin," growled
Dutch Henry. "You hlvtzhupfP^ (blockhead), he
roared, and hit the bronco in the face with his naked
fist. " Vy for you dumble town, hey ? **

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^ I guess he tumbled because he couldn't help it,**
said Dave, coldly, and then, as he got a whiff of
Kneip's breath, he added, "or maybe you were so
unsteady on his back he couldn't balance himself."

** Unsteady ? Vot you mean py dot, hey ? "

"I mean that you have been drinking, Hendrik
Eneip, and if any one deserves a pounding, it is you
and not the bronco. I can't exactly say that I am
sorry I saved you, but I would just as lief it had been
somebody else." And with this parting shot Dave
turned his mustang around, plunged into the stream
again, and struck out for the opposite shore.

The unreasonable man glared after the boy for a
moment. Then with a lurch he bent down, secured
a jagged stone, and flung it with all his might after
the youth. But his aim was poor and the stone flew
far over Dave's head.

** Don't you do that again," cried the boy, facing
around. ^ If you do, I may be tempted to use the
pistol I am carrying."

On hearing this, Hendrik Kneip felt for his own
weapon, but it had been lost in the stream. The
discovery that it was missing alarmed him, .and
without waiting longer he leaped up on his bronco
and pushed into the thicket and out of sight.

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Feeling that he mnst make the most of the day-
iight while it lasted, Dave, on gaining the north
bank of the creek, and seeing that Dutch Henry
had disappeared, struck out with renewed speed' for
his destination. As he advanced he could not help
but speculate over the mean manner in which Eneip
had treated him after being saved from such a
dangerous position.

^^Some men are grateful for nothing," he mut«
tered. ^* I don't think he would turn a hand to do
any such thing for me," and he urged Lightning
along faster than ever, just by way of relieving his

It was several hours after sunset when Dave
dashed into the bustling little town of Wichita
Falls and made his way to the telegraph station.
His somewhat long message to Chicago was soon
sent, and having paid the charges, he turned away
to find accommodations for the night for himself
and his horse.

There was one hotel, the Wichita House, at which
he had stopped before, and hither he made his way,
only, however, to find it full, for a special sale of
real estate in the vicinity had attracted a large nu:m«
ber of boomers and speculators*

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"Try Lawson's boarding house," said tiie hotel
derk, and told him where the resort mentioned was

Dave was turning away, when, chancing to look
into the reading and smoking room of the hostelry,
he saw two men whose faces were familiar to him.
The one was that of Alvin Darnell, the president of
the Combination, the other that of Josiah Snugg, a
shrewd speculator in real estate.

"Darnell here," thought the youth. "And he
wanted father to come all the way to Gainesville to
see him. What does this mean ? "

At first he thought to walk in and let Mr. Darnell
see him, wondering if the Cattle King would have
anything to say to him. But then he changed his
mind, and hurried outside.

Dave had left Lightning hitched to a tie-post
close to one of the side windows of the reading and
smoking room. The two men he had recognized sat
beside this window, and as the boy came up to get
his mustang he could not help but catch something
of the talk between the pair.

" Tes, if I can't get Nelson's ranch, you must get
it for me,** Alvin Darnell was saying.

^That's all right, but if Nelson won't sell to me*

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wbat then?" returned Josiah Snugg, after having
emptied his mouth of a large quantity of tobacco

" He's got to sell sooner or later. I've about got
him on the wall already. He is losing money right
along, and I know it.''

** What's the upset price on his outfit ?•*
^^ I thought I might get his land for six or seven
thousand dollars."

" Humph, not much I Why any boomer around
here would give him that for it."

" Well, what do you think it is worth ? "
"That land is worth every cent of fifteen thou-
sand dollars."

"Kneipsays not."

"That Dutchman doesn't know anything about it."
"You must remember the boom is about over."
"I'm not forgetting that. At the height of the
boom Nelson could have called for twenty-five thou-
sand and received it. I'll wager a comer lot in
Wichita against a new silk hat that even at a forced
sale the ranch will fetch nine to ten thousand dol-
lars, and perhaps twelve."

" Very well then, buy it at that, if it comes to the

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«(Do you suppose he has any idea yet that the
Anchor Company is going to open up down here ?"
" I rather think not — that is, nothing definite.*'
** They might force the price, you know.**
*^We must get the ranch before they have the
chance to do that, Snugg. We must see to it that
we head the Anchor people off," said Alyin Darnell,
with much earnestness. ^^Come and have some-
thing," and then the two men arose and walked off
in the direction of the bar>room attached to the

Although, generally speaking, Dave detested
eavesdropping, he had taken in all that was said,
feeling that he had a right so to do. As he un-
hitched Lightning and led the mustang away, a
grim smile broke over his bronzed face.

**That was worth hearing," he thought. "Fm
glad fi^ther sent that telegram. Now the Combina-
tion and the Anchor people can fight it out between
themselves, and if we watch our chances^ I don't
believe we'll come out so very far behind, after all.'*

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It can well be imagined that Dave did not sleep
soundly that night, not because the bed was a
strange one, — such a trifle never bothered this
young son of the cattle ranges, — but because his
head was filled with what he had overheard, and he
felt that a crisis was at hand which would alter
both his father*s and his own future careers.

**I don't believe father will want to remain in
Texas after this force-out," he mused, as he tossed
about on his couch. ^^We may as well make a
clean break of it, and go to one of the western
states or — or — Africa 1 Yes, why not ?" And then
he thought again of his Cousin Will's letter, and
began to speculate upon life on a cattle or ostrich
farm in the Transvaal or some other district of
South Africa, and of the possibilities of the gold
and diamond industries of that far-away country.
Like everything that is far away, it Ippked more


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aUuring than those things which are dose at

Bj sunrise Dave was again in the saddle and
speeding home with a heart that was lighter than it
had been since his father had told him how they
were running behind in their accounts. Arriving
at the ranch utterly worn out and as hungry as a
wolf, he would neither rest nor eat until he had told
his parent of what had happened and of the conver-
sation he had overheard.

Mr. Nelson was deeply interested, and smiled even
as had Dave. " It was a lucky happening," he said.
"Now we know pretty much how matters stand."

It was decided, after much talking, that Mr. Nel-
son should leave for Gainesville that very night,
stopping at Wichita Falls for any message which
might be awaiting him from Chicago. " I want to
send the Anchor people another message," he said.
"It's rather costly talking over the wires, but it
may pay a hundred times over in the end." He left
at sundown, stating that it was impossible to say
when he would be back, but not before several days,
or possibly a week.

After this three days slipped by quietly enough
at the ranch. Without his parent Dave felt some-

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what lonely, but there were many matters to attend
to, and he went about his work as though nothing
out of the ordinary was in the wind. As yet he
had not answered the letter from South Africa, and
now he concluded to leave this until matters con-
cerning the ranch were settled.

" How is dis, am yo' f adder gwine to seU out ? **
asked Gufify, one day.

"That will depend," replied the boy. "Both
Darnell and another company want to buy him out."

" If yo' f adder gibs up the ranch den I'll go too.
I don't want to stay under no strange boss."

"Have you any other place in view, Guffy?"
asked Dave, who took considerable interest in the
colored cook, who had been with the Nelsons for
several years.

"I'se dun got an offer from a gen'men in Vir-
ginia, sah. I used to wuk fo' his fadder, durin'
de wah. He wants me back on de plantation —
offers me putty good wages, too."

"Then you had better accept his offer, if we
vacate," said Dave, and Guffy concluded that this
was what he would do.

There was a fairly good atlas among the scanty
stock of books of which the ranch home boasted,

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•ad one evening Dave brought this out and turned
to the map of South Africa, to find out just where
his Uncle Ralph and* family were located. Like
many another of even older growth, he had a dim
knowledge that the Transvaal, or South African
Republic, lay somewhere to the northeast of Cape
Town, and was a country inhabited by Dutch Boers
and natives whom the whites had warred into
submission, and this was about all he did know,
outside of what his Cousin Will had written to

His atlas showed him that the Transvaal (which
name was first used to designate the country over
the Vaal, or Yellow, River) is located about four
hundred miles from the southern coast of Africa,
but more than twice that distance from Cape
Town, the first port of importance in that section
of the globe. Its southern boundary is, as already
intimated, the Vaal River, which separates it from
the Orange Free State. To the southeast is Natal
and Zululand, and to the east Portuguese South
Africa, all forming a narrow strip of land between
the Transvaal and several fairly good seaports on
the Indian Ocean. On the north the Limpopo
River flows between the republic and Rhodesiai

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and to the westward lies the semi-civilized coimtiy
called Bechuanaland, a British protectorate.

Roughly speaking, the South African Republic
contains about 114,500 square miles of territory.
It is a vast table-land, with high mountains to
the southeastward and sloping gradually toward
the north. The table-land is a mile above sea
level, and contains some moimtain ranges of its
own and many beautiful streams. A few of the
mountain peaks rear themselves 10,000 feet above
sea level, and are covered with snow for several
months every year.

Of the population of the Transvaal it would
be hard to speak, for, as Will Nelson had writ-
ten, there had been a boom in the gold fields,
and thousands of fortune seekers were coming and
going all the time. The blacks, — Kafirs and
Hottentots, with some Zulus and others,— ^ were
supposed to number 700,000. The whites could
be put down as numbering about 100,000 souls,
the Uitlander, that is, the foreigners, outnumber-
ing the native Boers two to one. But these figures
were changing every day, and are likely to change
for some years to come.

*^It'8 not such a very large country after all,''

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mused Dave, as he closed the book, "About half
as large as this state, and contains about one-third
as many inhabitants. But the atlas says it is rich
in gold, silver, precious stones, and farming lands,
and that counts for a good deal. I'd like to go
there first-rate — at least for a year or two. Per-
haps a fellow wouldn't want to stay there all his

Somehow, Dave could not get South Africa out
of his head, since receiving that letter from his
cousin, and with a longing to see that country
came also a longing to meet his relatives. "I
wonder how Uncle Ralph looks," he mused. "And
Aunt Isabel, and Will, and Alice. What's the use
of having such relatives if you can never see them?
I declare, I'm going to ask father to go, so there I "
And he shook his head with a determination that
meant a good deal.

Perhaps, if Dave had had brothers and sisters,
he might have felt differently. But he had never
had either, and now of a sudden he felt lonely for
the want of some relative other than his father,
and he made up his mind that Cousin Will and
Cousin Alice would "just fill the biU," as he ex-
pressed it. Surely, though he was American and

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they were English, blood was a good deal thicker
than water.

Sunday came and went, and still Mr. Nelson
remained away, and now Dave began to grow
restless. Evidently the business of selling the
ranch had not moved along as rapidly as expected.
Whether this was a good sign or not the youth
could not determine.

It was late Monday evening, and Guffy had
already retired to his bed in the kitchen loft,
when a wild cry from one of the cattle sheds
made Dave leap to his feet and dash aside the
newspaper he had been perusing. The cry was
that of a man^ and it was followed by a crash as
of splintering woodwork and a pistol-shot.

"My gracious, what's that?" burst from the
boy's lips. "That brown horse must be kicking
Pepper to death! Can the beast have him cor-
nered, and is he firing on him? I told him that
nag was the most vicious in the whole state of
Texas!" And thus speaking, Dave caught up a
heavy rawhide whip, threw open the door, and
bounded out into the darkness in the direction
from whence the sounds had proceeded.

" Drop that gun, you Dutch rascal 1 '* came to

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his ears, in Pepper's voice, and then came the
noise of a scuffle, followed by another shot, and
a groan of agony.

" Pepper, what's up? " cried the youth, " Where
are you?"

^^Down here, in the new shed," came from the
cow puncher. ^^Help me make this Dutchman a

"Los me go I" came in an answering howl.
" Los me go, or I vos fire again I "

** What's up thar?" came from the rear portion
of the ranch, and now another hand came up on
the run, — a tall, brawny man of forty, armed with
a knife and a whip.

"It's Dutch Henry," groaned Pepper. "I col-
lared him trying to put something in the feed —
poison most likely. He has wounded me in the
shoulder with his gun."

"Dutch Henry, eh?" came from the big man,
whose name was GarweU. "I thought I saw him
a-sneakin' around hyer about sundown. He had

"There he goes I" interrupted Dare, as the
Dutchman leaped from the shed and brushed past
him. He let oat with the rawhide, and the end

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of the lash nipped Eneip's right ear. Then he
started after the fleeing one, and Carwell came
behind him, leaving Pepper to care for his wounded

The night was dark, and it was with difficulty
that the boy and the ranch hand kept Hendrik
Eneip in sight. The rascal had not calculated
upon being discovered at his nefarious work, and
now he felt that if captured, those whom he had
plotted against would show him no mercy.

"He's a-makin' fer the mesquite brush," said
Carwell, after several minutes' running. "Like
ez not he's got his bronco over thar."

" I think we would be justified in firing on him,"
replied Dave. "But I haven't any gun with me."

" No more have I, Dave. Maybe I kin bluff him

Carwell raised his voice, which was loud enough
to be heard for quarter of a mile. "Stop whar
ye air, or I'll fire at ye ! " he cried. " Stop, or
ye air a dead man ! "

The threat, however, produced no effect, fur-
ther than to make Dutch Henry crouch down
lower than ever, as he loped over the ground.
Soon he gained a clump of trees, behind which

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he had tethered his bronco. A slash of his knife
cut the halter, and leaping into the saddle, he
made off on a wild run.

The fact that Pepper had been shot at and
wounded made the affair a serious one, and all
belonging to the ranch felt that they must catch
the guilty one if possible. Dave and Carwell ran
to the barn, and were soon in the saddle, followed
by two other men. Pepper, whose wound was an
ugly one, was left behind in Guffy's care, the latter
binding up ,the shoulder with as much skill as he
had used in binding up many such woimds for
Confederate soldiers during the great Civil War.

But the chase, although it lasted all night and
well into the morning, availed nothing. The trail
was lost on one of the creeks flowing into the Red
River, and could not be picked up again. A call
at the house where Dutch Henry boarded con-
vinced them that he had not been there; and at
nine o'clock the party started back home. It may
be as well to add here that Eneip, alarmed over
the fact that he had shot Pepper, and not knowing
how serious the wound might prove, left the state
of Texas altogether, and it was a long time before
Dave met the man again.

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^^ Yes, Dave, the ranch is sold ; and the cash is
safe in the bank at Fort Worth. We have just
two weeks in which to pack our trunks and vacate.'*

Mr. Nelson had come in on Tuesday afternoon,
much fatigued by the several long journeys he had
taken, but evidently in a happy frame of mind.
From Wichita Falls he had gone to Gainesville and
thence to the city of Fort Worth, and he had re-
turned home by way of Weatherford, Graham, and
Seymour, a distance of one hundred and thirty-five
miles, on horseback.

"Sold? And who bought it, father, and what
was the price?" demanded the son, eagerly.

"The Anchor Beef Company bought the whole
thing, house, ranges, and all the cattle, both on the
range and coming in. They are buying up. every-
thing they can around here, and indications are
that they are going to make it tremendously warm
for the Darnell Combination.'*


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"And the price? I hope you cleared yourself/'

"That's the best part of the transacticm, Dave.
When I got to Wichita Falls I found a telegram
there stating that I could meet a representative
of the Anchor Company at Gainesville. So I went
right on, and there, at the hotel, I met the repre-
sentative, and also Alvin Darnell and, later on,
Josiah Snugg. I didn't let on that I knew what
was up — merely said that I would sell out to the
highest bidder. Darnell was fairly wild to get
the ranch. He ran the price up to thirteen thou-
sand dollars, and then sent Snugg around to bid
it up to twenty thousand. But the Anchor Com-
pany was game, and gave me exactly five minutes
in which to close with their final o£fer of twenty-
five thousand dollars. I closed on the spot, and
got a certified check for eighteen thousand and a
common check for the balance before I left the

"Oh, father!" Dave's face broke out into a
happy smile. "That was splendid I better than I
had dreamed for I "

"Yes, Dave, you don't know what a weight I
have off my shoulders. But that is not all. After
I had sold out to the Anchor Company Darnell

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LBAYnra thb bangh 57

eame around again, and made a personal offer ot
twenty-two thousand. *Fve sold out for twenty-
five thousand,' said I, and you ought to have seen
his jaw drop. * You've played me false 1 ' he
roared, and became as mad as a March hare. He
cut up so loudly that the hotel keeper came up to
quiet him. I left him and the Anchor Company
man to fight it out between themselves, while I
saw to it that the checks were all right. The next
day the Anchor man and myself arranged about
turning over the property, and both of us went to
Fort Wortii to complete some details. He tells me
that the Anchor Company are crowding the Com-
bination out, right and left," concluded Mr. Nelson.

He had much more to tell, matters of minor im-
portance, and went over these while eating the
elaborate repast Guffy had served. He was much
interested in the story Dave had to tell about Dutch

"I don't believe he will come back," he said.
'* From a few words Darnell let fall I think the
Combination is almost as tired of the Dutchman as
we are."

** If he comes back, Pepper says he will have the
sheriff arrest him."

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^^Then you may be certain he won't show him-
self. He knows his character won't bear investigat-

The next few days were busy ones for father and
son. Martin Nelson had sold his property, subject
to a certain inventory, and now he had to see to it
that everything on the schedule was there. Dave

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Online LibraryEdward StratemeyerBetween Boer and Briton ; or, Two boy's adventures in South Africa → online text (page 3 of 17)