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The Kopje Garrison A Story of the Boer War   By: (1831-1909)

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The Kopje Garrison, by George Manville Fenn.



They did not look like fishermen, those two young men in khaki, for people do not generally go fishing with magazine rifles instead of fishing rods certainly not in England. But this was in South Africa, and that makes all the difference. In addition, they were fishing in a South African river, where both of them were in profound ignorance as to what might take their bait first; and they were talking about this when they first reached the bank and saw the swift river flowing onward a lovely river whose banks were like cliffs, consequent upon ages of the swift stream cutting its way downward through the soft earth, while here and there clumps of trees grew luxuriantly green, and refreshed the eyes of the lookers on after a couple of months spent in riding over the drab and dreary veldt.

"Tackle isn't half strong enough," said the younger of the two, who was nearly good looking; in fact, he would have been handsome if he had not always worn so stupid an aspect. "Think there are any crocodiles here?"

"Likely enough, Bobby."

"S'pose one of them takes the bait?"

"Well, suppose he does!" said the other, who resembled his companion, minus the stupid look; for if the keen, dark grey eyes were truth tellers of what was behind them, he was, as the men in his company said, sharp as a needle.

"S'pose he does!" said the young man addressed as Bobby otherwise Robert Dickenson, second lieutenant in Her Majesty's th Mounted Infantry. "Well, that's a cool way of talking. Suppose he does! Why, suppose one of the great magnified efts swallows the bait?"

"Suppose he does. What then?"

"Why, he'll be more likely to pull me in than let me pull him out."

"No doubt about it, if the line doesn't break."

"What should I do then, Drew, old man?"

"I don't know what you'd do, my little man. I know what I should do."

"Yes. What?"

"Let go."

"Ah, I didn't think of that," said the young officer quite calmly. "I say, though, if it turned out to be a hippopotamus?"

"I wish it would, Bobby that is, so long as it was a nice fat calf. I'm so ragingly hungry that I should look upon a steak off one of those india rubber gentlemen as the greatest delicacy under the sun."

"Oh, don't talk nonsense. One of those things wouldn't be likely to bite. But I say, Drew, old chap, do you think there are any fish to be caught?"

"I haven't the slightest idea, Bobby. But here's a river; it looks likely. Fishes live in rivers; why shouldn't they be here?"

"To be sure; why not?" said the other, brightening up and looking better. "Who knows? There may be carp and tench, eels and pike."

"Not likely, Bobby, my lad; but most probably there are fish of some kind, such as live on this side of the equator."

"Mahseer, perhaps eh?"

"Bah! This is Africa, not northern India. Let's get down and make a beginning. We had better get down through that woody rift."

"I wish I'd got my six jointed rod, old fellow."

"But as you haven't, we must try what we can do with a line."

"I say, it was lucky you thought to bring some hooks."

"They were meant to try in the sea, old fellow, but I never had a chance. Come softly, and be on the lookout."

"Eh?" cried the young man addressed, bringing the rifle he carried to the ready. "Boers?"

"Oh no; our fellows are not likely to let any of those gentlemen approach. I thought we might perhaps put up a deer, antelope, buck, or something."

"Venison roast, hot, juicy! Oh Drew, old man, don't; pray don't! You gave me such an awful pang. Oh dear! oh dear!"

"Pst! Quiet! Don't build your hopes on anything, because I dare say we shall be disappointed; but still we might."

"Ah, might!" said the young officer. "Oh dear! I thought we might get wounded, or have a touch of fever, but I never expected that we should run the risk of being starved to death... Continue reading book >>

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