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The Young Yagers A Narrative of Hunting Adventures in Southern Africa   By: (1818-1883)

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The Young Yagers A Narrative of Hunting Adventures in Southern Africa By Captain Mayne Reid Published by Ticknor and Fields, Boston, USA This edition dated 1857

The Young Yagers, by Captain Mayne Reid.




Near the confluence of the two great rivers of Southern Africa the Yellow and Orange behold the camp of the "young yagers!"

It stands upon the southern bank of the latter stream, in a grove of Babylonian willows, whose silvery foliage, drooping gracefully to the water's edge, fringes both shores of the noble river as far as the eye can reach.

A tree of rare beauty is this Salix Babylonica in gracefulness of form scarce surpassed even by the palms, the "princes of the forest." In our land, as we look upon it, a tinge of sadness steals over our reflections. We have grown to regard it as the emblem of sorrow. We have named it the "weeping willow," and draped the tomb with its soft pale fronds, as with a winding sheet of silver.

Far different are the feelings inspired by the sight of this beautiful tree amid the karoos of Southern Africa. That is a land where springs and streams are "few and far between;" and the weeping willow sure sign of the presence of water is no longer the emblem of sorrow, but the symbol of joy.

Joy reigns in the camp under its shade by the banks of the noble Orange River, as is proved by the continuous peals of laughter that ring clear and loud upon the air, and echo from the opposite shores of the stream.

Who are they that laugh so loudly and cheerfully? The young yagers .

And who are the young yagers?

Let us approach their camp and see for ourselves. It is night, but the blaze of the camp fire will enable us to distinguish all of them, as they are all seated around it. By its light we can take their portraits.

There are six of them a full "set of six," and not one appears to be yet twenty years of age. They are all boys between the ages of ten and twenty though two or three of them, and, maybe, more than that number, think themselves quite men.

Three of the party you will recognise at a glance as old acquaintances. They are no other than Hans, Hendrik, and Jan, our ci devant "Bush boys."

It is several years since we saw them last, and they have grown a good deal since then; but none of them has yet reached the full stature of manhood. Though no longer "Bush boys," they are yet only boys; and Jan, who used to be called "little Jan," still merits and receives that distinctive appellation. It would stretch Jan to his utmost to square off against a four foot measuring stick; and he could only manage it by standing upon the very tips of his toes.

Hans has grown taller, but, perhaps, thinner and paler. For two years he has been at college, where he has been very busy with his books, and has greatly distinguished himself by carrying off the first prizes in everything. Upon Hendrik there is a decided change. He has outgrown his elder brother both in length and breadth, and comes very near looking like a full grown man. He is yet but eighteen years old, straight as a rush, with a decided military air and gait. The last is not to be wondered at, as Hendrik has now been a cornet in the Cape Mounted Rifles for more than a year, and still holds that commission, as may be learnt by looking at his forage cap, with its golden embroidery over the peak. So much for our old acquaintances the "Bush boys!"

But who are the other three that share with them the circle of the camp fire? Who are their companions? for they are evidently on terms of companionship, and friendship too. Who are they? A word or two will tell that. They are the Van Wyks . The three sons of Diedrik Van Wyk... Continue reading book >>

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