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Jasper Lyle   By:

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Jasper Lyle By Harriet Ward Published by George Routledge and Co, Soho Square, London. This edition dated 1851.

Jasper Lyle, by Harriet Ward.





People are beginning now a days to know where Kafirland is!

Verily they have paid dearly for their knowledge!

It is a beautiful land, with its open savannahs, its wooded glens, its heathy mountains, its green and undulating parks nature's plantations! Pleasant to the eye is the sight of the colonists' sheltered farms, surrounded by waving cornfields, and backed by noble mountains, ascending in the distance, one above another, assuming every hue it is possible to imagine, and finally blending their purple heights with clouds all radiant with gold, or shaping themselves into canopies of sombre colouring, and veiling the glories of heaven from the upturned gaze of man.

But from these scenes the traveller may suddenly find himself translated to the most sterile moors, stretching out in apparently illimitable space, or bounded by bald rocks, which offer no "shadow from the heat," no "refuge from the storm." In these tracts, the earth, resembling lava, is bare of all but stones, except where some bright flowering bulb has struggled with its destiny, only to waste its beauty on the desert. There is nothing living to be seen in these inhospitable regions, save when the hungry travellers pause to "to kill and eat," and lo! as the scent of blood rises in the atmosphere, a solitary speck hovers in the sky, another, and another, and, like airy demons waiting for their prey, the asphogels, the gigantic vultures of South Africa, keep watch over the bivouac, in anticipation of the feast for which their instinct has prepared them.

It was in the centre of an unsightly plain that three travellers were arrested on their journey by one of those appalling storms which, in the loveliest spots of Southern Africa, disenchant the mind, impressed with the beauty of the wooded tracts, or the grandeur of even the solitary wastes, with the sweet influence of balmy mornings, or the nights serene and clear, sometimes shining more brilliantly than day.

All the morning symptoms in the air had warned the attendant of our travellers, a knowing little bush man, of an approaching storm, and he had urged his masters to advance with all the speed they could drive into their patient and active steeds. But the lightning soon played in all its horrible brightness, piles of clouds like snow began to rise in front; to the unpractised ear all was silent, but the bushman called a halt, and dismounting, led the others with their horses behind a heap of stones.

Thus partially screened, they awaited the mighty tempest.

The giant of the storm advanced as with a trumpet blast from that part of the horizon whence the lightning had telegraphed his approach. He came with a rushing sound resembling the passage of an invisible but powerful host, the desert shook with the terror of his presence, the clouds came slowly floating on, growing darker and darker, till their hue was of a leaden aspect, and in a few moments, as with a roar of many waters, the rains poured down their torrents, the winds whistled an unearthly chorus to the plashing of the floods, the great stones rocked and moaned, the thunder pealed, now muttering in ill subdued wrath, and now clattering overhead in ungovernable fury, then passing by to burst its bolts on some far mountain top, or on fair pasture lands, where cattle stood huddled together in terror and dismay. There was silence at length upon the plain. "The earth trembled and was still," the horses lifted their heads and snuffed up the refreshing air; the little bushman groom, whom I shall describe by and by, drew the covers from the saddles, and the two young men, his masters, shook themselves like dogs on reaching land after a long swim... Continue reading book >>

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