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Into the Unknown A Romance of South Africa   By:

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Into the Unknown, by Lawrence Fletcher.

INTO THE UNKNOWN, BY LAWRENCE FLETCHER.

Into the Unknown by Lawrence Fletcher

CHAPTER ONE.

THE GHOSTS' PASS.

"Well, old man, what do we do next?" The speaker, a fine young fellow of some five and twenty summers, reclining on the rough grass, with clouds of tobacco smoke filtering through his lips, looked the picture of comfort, his appearance belying in every way the discontent expressed in his tones as he smoked his pipe in the welcome shade of a giant rock, which protected him and his two companions from the mid day glare of a South African sun.

Alfred Leigh, second son of Lord Drelincourt, was certainly a handsome man: powerfully and somewhat heavily built, his physique looked perfect, and, as he gradually and lazily raised his huge frame from the rough grass, he appeared what he was, in truth a splendid specimen of nineteenth century humanity, upwards of six feet high, and in the perfection of health and spirits; a fine, clear cut face, with blue eyes and a fair, close cropped beard, completed a tout ensemble which was English to a degree.

The person addressed was evidently related to the speaker, for, though darker than his companion, and by no means so striking in face or figure, he still had fair hair, which curled crisply on a well shaped head, and keen blue eyes which seemed incessantly on the watch and were well matched by a resolute mouth and chin, and a broad shouldered frame which promised strength from its perfect lines. Dick Grenville, aetat. thirty, and his cousin, Alf Leigh, were a pair which any three ordinary mortals might well wish to be excused from taking on.

The third person singular he certainly looked was a magnificent creature, a pure blooded Zulu chief, descended from a race of warriors, every line of his countenance grave and stern, with eyes that glistened like fiery stars under a lowering cloud, the man having withal a general "straightness" of appearance more easily detected than described. A "Keshla," or ringed man, some six feet three inches high, of enormously powerful physique, armed with a murderous looking club and a brace of broad bladed spears, and you have a faithful picture of Myzukulwa, the Zulu friend of the two cousins.

The scene is magnificently striking, but grand with a loneliness awful beyond description, for, so far as the eye can reach, the fervid sun beats upon nothing but towering mountain peaks, whose grey and rugged summits pierce the fleecy heat clouds, and seem to lose themselves in a hopeless attempt to fathom the unspeakable majesty beyond.

"Do next, old fellow?" The words came in cool, quiet tones. "Well, if I were you, Alf, I should convey my carcass out of the line of fire from yonder rifle, which has been pointed at each of our persons in succession during the last two minutes;" and Grenville, with the stem of his pipe, indicated a spot some three hundred yards away, where his keen eye had detected the browned barrel of a rifle projected through a fissure in the rock; then, in quick, incisive tones, suiting the action to the word, "Lie down, man!" and not a moment too soon, as an angry rifle bullet sang over his head and flattened against the rock. In another instant all three were ensconced behind a rocky projection, and endeavouring to ascertain their unknown assailants' force.

Truly, an unpleasant place was this to be beleaguered in little food, still less water, and positively no cover to protect them in the event of a night attack upon the position they occupied. Grenville quietly picked up the flattened bullet, eyed it curiously, and then handed it to Myzukulwa with an interrogative look; the other scarcely glanced at the missile and replied quietly, yet in singularly correct English, "Inkoos (chief), that lead came from a very old gun, but it is a true one the Inkoos, my master, was too near it... Continue reading book >>




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