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Harley Greenoak's Charge   By: (1855-1914)

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Harley Greenoak's Charge, by Bertram Mitford.




"You will look after him, won't you?"

"Certainly. You can rely upon me absolutely."

Thus two men on the deck of a ship. One was silver haired, elderly, spare and very refined looking. The other, of medium height, broadly built, and middle aged, was, in his way, of striking appearance. His strong face, lined and sun tanned, was half hidden in a full, iron grey beard, and the keen blue eyes with their straight glance, were of that kind which would be deadly looking at you from behind the sights of a rifle. His hands, rough and hard, were like his face, burnt almost to a mahogany brown, the result of forty five years' exposure man and boy to the varying climates of the southern section of the African continent. And the first speaker was Sir Anson Selmes, Bart., and the second was Harley Greenoak, hunter, prospector, native trader, native fighter, stock farmer, transport rider, and other things all in turn. And as he plays an important part in some strange adventures which are to befall, we have dwelt somewhat at length upon his personal aspect. His character you shall discover for yourself.

"Rely upon you? I'm sure I can," went on Sir Anson, heartily. "And Dick has a boundless capacity for getting into scrapes of one kind or another. There's no vice in him, but he simply can't help it. You'll find him no sinecure, I'm afraid."

"Oh, as to that," answered Greenoak, easily, "we shall pull all right. You see, I've already been sizing him up to my own satisfaction or I wouldn't have undertaken to look after him."

"That I'm sure you wouldn't, Greenoak," laughed Sir Anson. "You're nothing if not decisive."

"I'm afraid a man gets rather blunt after leading a life like mine," said the other.

"I'm only too fortunate in getting hold of a man of your experience to look after the boy," rejoined the baronet, heartily. "Why, there he is."

The subject of their conversation burst upon them in his breezy way. He was a tall, fine young fellow of twenty six, blue eyed, light haired, healthy, wholesome, athletic, and looking what he was an English gentleman.

"Hallo, dad. What are you and Greenoak plotting there? Why, you've been in earnest confab for at least an hour. What's the subject?"

"Yourself, Dick," answered his father. "You know I only took the run over here for the sake of the voyage, but now you're over you'd better see something of the country, and do a few months' knocking about with Greenoak. He has very kindly consented to look after you, only he little knows what a handful he's undertaking."

The young fellow's face lit up.

"Why, that'll be ripping." Then remembering "But what about yourself, dad? I can't leave you to go back all alone."

"Oh, I'll be all right. Dawson'll look after me; as he has done almost ever since I've had the honour of your acquaintance. This is an opportunity though, which you can't afford to lose, so we can consider it settled. Eh, Greenoak?"

"That's right, Sir Anson," was the reply, as the speaker fished out a handful of black Transvaal tobacco, which he kept loose in his side pocket, and proceeded to cram his pipe.

"By George, what times we'll have!" sang out Dick, delightedly. "We'll yarn about it presently. Now I'm in the middle of a game of quoits with those Johnson women, and as they're about the touchiest crowd on board I shall get in a row if I keep them waiting any longer."

He strode away, whistling, leaving his seniors to their conversation. These two the English baronet and the South African up country man, had made acquaintance during the outward voyage, and had grown very friendly indeed. And the result of this newly formed friendship was that Sir Anson had begged Greenoak to take charge of the young fellow in short to take him round a bit in quite an informal sort of way... Continue reading book >>

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