+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

crash in a scrub behind me, and out rushed
at a terrific pace a black Highland bull
charging straight at me. I had only just
time to throw myself on one side flat on the
ground as he thundered by me. My next
move was to scramble among a small clump
of trees, one of great size, the rest were mere

The bull having missed his mark, turned
again, and first revenged himself by tossing
my saddle up in the air, until fortunately it
lodged in some bushes; then, having smelt
me out, he commenced a circuit round the
trees, stamping, pawing, and bellowing frightfully.
With his red eyes and long sharp
horns he looked like a demon; I was quite
unarmed, having broken my knife the day
before; my pistols were in my holsters, and I was
wearied to death. My only chance consisted
in dodging him round the trees until he should
be tired out. Deeply did I regret having left
my faithful dogs Boomer and Bounder behind.

The bull charged again and again,
sometimes coming with such force against the
tree that he fell on his knees, sometimes
bending the saplings behind which I stood
until his horns almost touched me. There was
not a branch I could lay hold of to climb up.
How long this awful game of ' touchwood '
lasted, I know not; it seemed hours; after
the first excitement of self-preservation
passed off, weariness again took possession
of me, and it required all the instinct of
self-preservation to keep me on my feet;
several times the bull left me for a few
seconds, pacing suddenly away, bellowing
his malignant discontent; but before I could
cross over to a better position he always
came back at full speed. My tongue clave
to the roof of my mouth, my eyes grew hot
and misty, my knees trembled under me, I
felt it impossible to hold out until dark. At
length I grew desperate, and determined to
make a run for the opposite covert the
moment the bull turned towards the water-
hole again. I felt sure I was doomed, and
thought of it until I grew indifferent. The
bull seemed to know I was worn out, and
grew more fierce and rapid in his charges,
but just when I was going to sit down under
the great tree and let him do his worst, I
heard the rattle of a horse among the rocks
above, and a shout that sounded like the
voice of an angel. Then came the barking
of a dog, and the loud reports of a stockwhip,
but the bull with his devilish eyes fixed on
me, never moved.

Up came a horseman at full speed; crack fell
the lash on the black bull's hide; out spirted
the blood in a long streak. The bull turned
savagelycharged the horseman. The horse
wheeled round just enough to baffle himno
moreagain the lash descended, cutting like a
long flexible razor, but the mad bull was not
to be beaten off by a whip: he charged again
and again; but he had met his match; right
and left, as needed, the horse turned, sometimes
pivotting on his hind, sometimes on his

The stockman shouted something, leapt
from his horse, and strode forward to meet
the bull with an open knife between his teeth.
As the beast lowered his head to charge, he
seemed to catch him by the horns. There
was a struggle, a cloud of dust, a stamping
like two strong men wrestlingI could not
see clearly; but the next moment the bull
was on his back, the blood welling from his
throat, his limbs quivering in death.

The stranger, covered with mud and dust,
came to me, saying as unconcernedly as if he
had been killing a calf in a slaughter-house,
' He's dead enough, young man; he won't
trouble anybody any more.'

I walked two or three paces toward the
dead beast; my senses left meI fainted.

When I came to myself, my horse was
saddled, bridled, and tied up to a bush. My
stranger friend was busy flaying the bull.

' I should like to have a pair of boots out
of the old devil,' he observed, in answer to
my enquiring look, ' before the dingoes and the
eagle hawks dig into his carcase.'

We rode out of the flats up a gentle ascent,
as night was closing in. I was not in talking
humour; but I said, ' You have saved my

' Well, I rather think I have ' but this was
muttered in an under tone; ' it's not the first
I have saved, or taken either, for that matter.'

I was too much worn out for thanking much,
but I pulled out a silver hunting-watch and
put it into his hand. He pushed it back, almost
roughly, saying, ' No, Sir, not now; I shalln't
take money or money's worth for that, though
I may ask something some time. It's nothing,
after all. I owed the old black devil a grudge
for spoiling a blood filly of mine; beside,
though I didn't know it when I rode up first,
and went at the beast to take the devil out
of myself as much as anything,—I rather
think that you are the young gentleman that
ran through the Bush at night to Manchester
Dan's hut, when his wife was bailed up by the
Blacks, and shot one-eyed Jackey, in spite of
the Governor's proclamation.'

' You seem to know me,' I answered; 'pray
may I ask who you are, if it is a fair question,
for I cannot remember ever having seen you

' Oh, they call me " Two-handed Dick," in
this country.'

The scene in the roadside inn flashed on
my recollection. Before I could say another
word, a sharp turn round the shoulder of the
range we were traversing, brought us in sight
of the fire of a shepherd's hut. The dogs ran
out barking; we hallooed and cracked our
whips, and the hut-keeper came to meet us
with a fire-stick in his hand.

' Lord bless my heart and soul! Dick, is
that thee at last? Well, I thought thee were't
never coming; ' cried the hut-keeper, a little
man, who came limping forward very fast