Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick ( Chapter 8 )( Page 5) Lost In The Veld

There was plenty of wood near by, and thinking anxiously of the damp matches I looked about for dry tindery grass so that any spark would give a start for the fire.  As I stooped to look for the grass I came on a patch of bare ground between the scattered tufts, and in the middle of it there lay a half-burnt match; and such a flood of relief and hope surged up that my heart beat up in my throat.  Where there were matches there had been men!  We were not in the wilds, then, where white men seldom went--not off the beaten track: perhaps not far from the road itself. You must experience it to know what it meant at that moment.  It drew me on to look for more!  A yard away I found the burnt end of a cigarette; and before there was time to realise why that should seem queer, I came on eight or ten matches with their heads knocked off. For a moment things seemed to go round and round.  I sat down with my back against the rock and a funny choky feeling in my throat.  I knew they were my matches and cigarette, and that we were exactly where we had started from hours before, when we gave up the chase of tie koodoo. I began to understand things then: why places and landmarks seemed familiar; why Jock's spoor in the molehill had pointed the wrong way; why my shadow was in front and behind and beside me in turns.  We had been going round in a circle.  I jumped up and looked about me with a fresh light; and it was all clear as noonday then.  Why, this was the fourth time we had been on or close to some part of this same rise that day, each time within fifty yards of the same place; it was the second time I had sat on that very rock.  And there was nothing odd or remarkable about that either, for each time I had been looking for the highest point to spy from and had naturally picked the rock-topped rise; and I had not recognised it, only because we came upon it from different sides each time and I was thinking of other things all the while. All at once it seemed as if my eyes were opened and all was clear at last.  I knew what to do: just make the best of it for the night; listen for shots and watch for fires; and if by morning no help came in that way, then strike a line due south for the road and follow it up until we found the waggons.  It might take all day or even more, but we were sure of water that way and one could do it.  The relief of really understanding was so great that the thought of a night out no longer worried me. There was enough wood  gathered, and I stretched out on the grass to rest as there was nothing else to do.  We were both tired out, hot, dusty, and very very thirsty; but it was too late to hunt for water then.  I was lying on my side chewing a grass stem, and Jock lay down in front of me a couple of feet away.  It was a habit of his: he liked to watch my face, and often when I rolled over to ease one side and lie on the other he would get up when he found my back turned to him and come round deliberately to the other side and sling himself down in front of me again.  There he would lie with his hind legs sprawled on one side, his front legs straight out, and his head resting on his paws.  He would lie like that without a move, his little dark eyes fixed on mine all the time until the stillness and the rest made him sleepy, and he would blink and blink, like a drowsy child, fighting against sleep until it beat him; and then--one long-drawn breath as he rolled gently over on his side, and Jock was away in Snoozeland. In the loneliness of that evening I looked into his steadfast resolute face with its darker muzzle and bright faithful eyes that looked so soft and brown when there was nothing to do but got so beady black when it came to fighting.  I felt very friendly to the comrade who was little more than a puppy still; and he seemed to feel something too; for as I lay there chewing the straw and looking at him, he stirred his stump of a tail in the dust an inch or so from time to time to let me know that he understood all about it and that it was all right as long as we were together. But an interruption came.  Jock suddenly switched up his head, put it a bit sideways as a man would do, listening over his shoulder with his nose rather up in the air.  I watched him, and thinking that it was probably only a buck out to feed in the cool of the evening, I tickled his nose with the long straw, saying, "No good, old chap; only three cartridges left.  We must keep them." No dog likes to have his nose tickled: it makes them sneeze; and many dogs get quite offended, because it hurts their dignity.  Jock was not offended, but he got up and, as if to show me that I was frivolous and not attending properly to business, turned away from me and with his ears cocked began to listen again. He was standing slightly in front of me and I happened to notice his tail: it was not moving; it was drooping slightly and perfectly still, and he kept it like that as he stepped quietly forward on to another sloping rock overlooking a side where we had not yet been.  Evidently there was something there, but he did not know what, and he wanted to find out. I watched him, much amused by his calm businesslike manner.  He walked to the edge of the rock and looked out: for a few minutes he stood stock-still with his ears cocked and his tail motionless; then his ears dropped and his tail wagged gently from side to side. Something--an instinct or sympathy quickened by the day's experience, that I had never quite known before--taught me to understand, and I jumped up, thinking, "He sees something that he knows: he is pleased." As I walked over to him, he looked back at me with his mouth open and tongue out, his ears still down and tail wagging--he was smiling all over, in his own way.  I looked out over his head, and there, about three hundred yards off, were the oxen peacefully grazing and the herd boy in his red coat lounging along behind them. Shame at losing myself and dread of the others' chaff kept me very quiet, and all they knew for many months was that we had had a long fruitless chase after koodoo and hard work to get back in time. I had had my lesson, and did not require to have it rubbed in and be roasted as Buggins had been.  Only Jock and I knew all about it; but once or twice there were anxious nervous moments when it looked as if we were not the only ones in the secret.  The big Zulu driver, Jim Makokel'--always interested in hunting and all that concerned Jock-- asked me as we were inspanning what I had fired the last two shots at; and as I pretended not to hear or to notice the question, he went on to say how he had told the other boys that it must have been a klipspringer on a high rock or a monkey or a bird because the bullets had whistled over the waggons.  I told him to inspan and not talk so much, and moved round to the other side of the waggon. That night I slept hard, but woke up once dreaming that several lions were looking down at me from the top of a big flat rock and Jock was keeping them off.Jock was in his usual place beside me, lying against my blankets.  I gave him an extra pat for the dream, thinking, "Good old boy; we know all about it, you and I, and we're not going to tell.  But we've learned some things that we won't forget."  And as I dropped off to sleep again I felt a few feeble sleepy pats against my leg, and knew it was Jock's tail wagging "Good night."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick ( Chapter 7 )( Page 3 ) Into The Heart Of The Bush

We knew well enough what to expect, so after breakfast Jimmy, who understood Buggins well, told him pleasantly that he could "sleep, shoot, or shut up."  To shut up was impossible, and to sleep again-- without a rest--difficult, even for Buggins; so with a good-natured laugh he took the shot gun, saying that he "would potter around a bit and give us a treat."  Well, he did!
We had outspanned on the edge of an open space in the thorn bush; there are plenty of them to be found in the Bushveld--spaces a few hundred yards in diameter, like open park land, where not a single tree breaks the expanse of wavy yellow grass.  The waggons with their greyish tents
and buck-sails and dusty wood-work stood in the fringe of the trees where this little arena touched the road, and into it sallied Buggins, gently drawn by the benevolent purpose of giving us a treat.  What he hoped to find in the open on that sweltering day he only could tell; we
knew that no living thing but lizards would be out of the shade just then, but we wanted to find him employment harmless to him and us.
He had been gone for more than half an hour when we heard a shot, and a few minutes later Jimmy's voice roused us. "What the dickens is Buggins doing?" he asked in a tone so puzzled and interested that we all turned to watch that sportsman.  According to Jimmy, he had been walking about in an erratic way for some time on the far side of the open ground--going from the one end to the other and then back again; then disappearing for a few minutes in the bush and re-appearing to again manoeuvre in the open in loops and circles, angles and straight lines.  Now he was walking about at a smart pace, looking
from side to side apparently searching for something.  We could see the whole of the arena as clearly as you can see a cricket-field from the railings--for our waggon formed part of the boundary--but we could see nothing to explain Buggins's manoeuvres.  Next we saw him face the thorns opposite, raise his gun very deliberately, and fire into the top of the trees.

"Green pigeons," said Jimmy firmly; and we all agreed that Buggins was after specimens for stuffing; but either our guess was wrong or his aim was bad, for after standing dead still for a minute he resumed his vigorous walk.  By this time Buggins fairly fascinated us; even the
kaffirs had roused each other and were watching him.  Away he went at once off to our left, and there he repeated the performance, but, again made no attempt to pick up anything and showed no further interest in whatever it was he had fired at, but turned right about face and walked
across the open ground in our direction until he was only a couple of hundred yards away.  There he stopped and began to look about him and making off some few yards in another direction climbed on to a fair-sized ant-heap five or six feet high, and balancing himself
cautiously on this he deliberately fired off both barrels in quick succession.  Then the same idea struck us all together, and "Buggins is lost" came from several--all choking with laughter.

Jimmy got up and, stepping out into the open beside the waggon, called, "Say, Buggins, what in thunder _are_ you doing?" To see Buggins slide off the ant-heap and shuffle shamefacedly back to the waggon before a gallery of four white men and a lot of kaffirs, all cracking and crying with laughter, was a sight never to be forgotten. I did not want to get lost and be eaten alive, or even look ridiculous, so I began very carefully: glanced back regularly to see what the track,
trees, rocks, or kopjes looked like from the other side; carefully noted which side of the road I had turned off; and always kept my eye on the sun.  But day after day and month after month went by without accident or serious difficulty, and then the same old thing happened: familiarity
bred contempt, and I got the beginner's complaint, conceit fever, just as others did: thought I was rather a fine fellow, not like other chaps who always have doubts and difficulties in finding their way back, but something exceptional with the real instinct in me which hunters,
natives, and many animals are supposed to have; though, in fact, I could not get lost.  So each day I went further and more boldly off the road, and grew more confident and careless.

The very last thing that would have occurred to me on this particular day was that there was any chance of being lost or any need to take note of where we went.  For many weeks we had been hunting in exactly the same sort of country, but not of course in the same part; and the truth is I did not give the matter a thought at all, but went ahead as one does with the things that are done every day as matters of habit.

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick ( Chapter 7 )( Page 2 ) Into The Heart Of The Bush

If you cannot understand a man thinking he had done such a thing, what can you say of a man actually doing it?  Impossible, quite impossible, you think.  Ah! but it is a fact: many know it for a fact and I have witnessed it twice myself, once in Mashonaland and once on the Delagoa
road.  I saw men, tired, haggard and wild-eyed, staring far in front of them, never looking at the ground, pressing on, on, on, and actually cross well-worn waggon roads, coming from hard veld into a sandy wheel-worn track and kicking up a cloud of dust as they passed, and
utterly blind to the fact that they were walking across the roads they had been searching for--in one case for ten hours, and in the other for three days.  When we called to them they had already crossed and were disappearing again into the bush.  In both cases the sound of the human voice and the relief of being `found,' made them collapse.  The knees seemed to give way: they could not remain standing.  The man who loses his head is really lost.  He cannot think, remember, reason, or understand; and the strangest thing of all is that he often cannot even _see_ properly--he fails to see the very things that he most wants to see, even when they are as large as life before him.  Crossing the road without seeing it is not the only or the most extraordinary example of this sort of thing.  We were out hunting once in a mounted party, but to spare a tired horse I went on foot and took up my stand in a game run among some thorn-trees on the low spur of a hill, while the others made a big circuit to head off a troop of koodoo.  Among our party there was one who was very nervous: he had been lost once for six or eight hours, and being haunted by the dread of being lost again, his nerve was all gone and he would not go fifty yards without a companion.  In the excitement of shooting at and galloping after the koodoo probably this dread was forgotten for a moment: he himself could not tell how it
happened that he became separated, and no one else had noticed him. The strip of wood along the hills in which I was waiting was four or five miles long but only from one to three hundred yards wide, a mere fringe enclosing the little range of kopjes; and between the stems of
the trees I could see our camp and waggons in the open a quarter of a mile away.  Ten or twelve shots faintly heard in the distance told me that the others were on to the koodoo, and knowing the preference of those animals for the bush I took cover behind a big stump and waited.
For over half an hour, however, nothing came towards me, and believing then that the game had broken off another way, I was about to return to camp when I heard the tapping of galloping feet a long way off.  In a few minutes the hard thud and occasional ring on the ground told that it
was not the koodoo; and soon afterwards I saw a man on horseback.  He was leaning eagerly forward and thumping the exhausted horse with his rifle and his heels to keep up its staggering gallop.  I looked about quickly to see what it was he was chasing that could have slipped past
me unnoticed, but there was nothing; then thinking there had been an accident and he was coming for help, I stepped out into the open and waited for him to come up.  I stood quite still, and he galloped past within ten yards of me--so close that his muttered "Get on, you brute;
get on, get on!" as he thumped away at his poor tired horse, were perfectly audible.
"What's up, sportsman?"  I asked, no louder than you would say it across a tennis-court; but the words brought him up, white-faced and terrified, and he half slid, half tumbled, off the horse gasping out, "I was lost, I was lost!"  How he had managed to keep within that strip of bush,
without once getting into the open where he would have seen the line of kopjes to which I had told him to stick or could have seen the waggons and the smoke of the big camp fire, he could never explain.  I turned him round where he stood, and through the trees showed him the white
tents of the waggons and the cattle grazing near by, but he was too
dazed to understand or explain anything. There are many kinds of men.  That particular kind is not the kind that will ever do for veld life: they are for other things and other work.
You will laugh at them at times--when the absurdity is greatest and no harm has been done.  But see it!  See it--and realise the suspense, the strain, and the terror; and then even the funniest incident has another side to it.  See it once; and recall that the worst of endings have had just such beginnings.  See it in the most absurd and farcical circumstances ever known; and laugh--laugh your fill; laugh at the victim and laugh with him, when it is over--and safe.  But in the end will come the little chilling thought that the strongest, the bravest, and the best have known something of it too; and that even to those whose courage holds to the last breath there may come a moment when the pulse beats a little faster and the judgment is at fault.
Buggins who was with us in the first season was no hunter, but he was a good shot and not a bad fellow.  In his case there was no tragedy; there was much laughter and--to me--a wonderful revelation.  He showed us, as in a play, how you can be lost; how you can walk for ever in one little circle, as though drawn to a centre by magnetic force, and how you can miss seeing things in the bush if they do not move. We had outspanned in a flat covered with close grass about two feet high and shady flat-topped thorn trees.  The waggons, four in number, were drawn up a few yards off the road, two abreast.  The grass was sweet and plentiful; the day was hot and still; and as we had had a very long early morning trek there was not much inclination to move.  The cattle soon filled themselves and lay down to sleep; the boys did the same; and we, when breakfast was over, got into the shade of the waggons, some to sleep and others to smoke.
Buggins--that was his pet name--was a passenger returning to "England, Home, and Beauty"--that is to say, literally, to a comfortable home, admiring sisters and a rich indulgent father--after having sought his fortune unsuccessfully on the goldfields for fully four months.  Buggins
was good-natured, unselfish, and credulous; but he had one fault--he `yapped': he talked until our heads buzzed.  He used to sleep contentedly in a rumpled tarpaulin all through the night treks and come up fresh as a daisy and full of accumulated chat at the morning outspan,
just when we--unless work or sport called for us--were wanting to get some sleep.

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick ( Chapter 7 )(Page 1 ) In The Heart Of The Bush

When the hen pecked Jock on the nose, she gave him a useful lesson in the art of finding out what you want to know without getting intotrouble.  As he got older, he also learned that there are only certain things which concerned him and which it was necessary for him to know. A young dog begins by thinking that he can do everything, go everywhere, and know everything; and a hunting dog has to learn to mind his own
business, as well as to understand it.  Some dogs turn sulky or timid or stupid when they are checked, but an intelligent dog with a stout heart will learn little by little to leave other things alone, and grow steadily keener on his own work.  There was no mistake about Jock's keenness.  When I took down the rifle from the waggon he did not go off into ecstasies of barking, as most sporting dogs will do, but would give a quick look up and with an eager little run towards me give a whimper of joy, make two or three bounds as if wanting to stretch his muscles and loosen his joints, then shake himself vigorously as though he had just come out of the water, and with a soft suppressed "Woo-woo-woo" full of contentment, drop silently into his place at my heels and give his whole attention to his work. He was the best of companions, and through the years that we huntedtogether I never tired of watching him.  There was always something to learn, something to admire, something to be grateful for, and very often something to laugh at--in the way in which we laugh only at those whom we are fond of.  It was the struggle between Jock's intense keenness and his sense of duty that most often raised the laugh.  He knew that his place was behind me; but probably he also knew that nine times out of ten he scented or saw the game long before I knew there was anything near, and naturally wanted to be in front or at least abreast of me to show me whatever there was to be seen. He noticed, just as surely and as quickly as any human being could, any change in my manner: nothing escaped him, for his eyes and ears were on the move the whole time.  It was impossible for me to look for more than a few seconds in any one direction, or to stop or even to turn my head
to listen, without being caught by him.  His bright brown eyes were everlastingly on the watch and on the move: from me to the bush, from the bush back to me.  When we were after game, and he could scent or see it, he would keep a foot or two to the side of me so as to have a clear view; and when he knew by my manner that I thought there was game near, he kept so close up that he would often bump against my heels as I walked, or run right into my legs if I stopped suddenly.  Often when stalking buck very quietly and cautiously, thinking only of what was in front, I would get quite a start by feeling something bump up against me behind.  At these times it was impossible to say anything without risk of scaring the game, and I got into the habit of making signs with my hand which he understood quite as well. Sometimes after having crawled up I would be in the act of aiming when he would press up against me.  Nothing puts one off so much as a touch or the expectation of being jogged when in the act of firing, and I used to get angry with him then, but dared not breathe a word; I would lower
my head slowly, turn round, and give him a look.  He knew quite well what it meant.  Down would go his ears instantly, and he would back away from me a couple of steps, drop his stump of a tail and wag it in a feeble deprecating way, and open his mouth into a sort of foolish laugh. That was his apology!  "I beg your pardon: it was an accident!  I won't do it again." It was quite impossible to be angry with him, he was so keen and he meant so well; and when he saw me laughing softly at him, he would come up again close to me, cock his tail a few inches higher and wag it a bit faster. There is a deal of expression in a dog's tail: it will generally tell you what his feelings are.  My friend maintained that that was how he knew his old dog was enjoying the joke against the cockerel; and that is certainly how I knew what Jock was thinking about once when lost in the veld; and it showed me the way back. It is easy enough to lose oneself in the Bushveld.  The Berg stands up some thousands of feet inland on the west, looking as if it had been put there to hold up the High veld; and between the foothills and the sea lies the Bushveld, stretching for hundreds of miles north and south. From the height and distance of the Berg it looks as flat as the floor, but in many parts it is very much cut up by deep rough dongas, sharp rises and depressions, and numbers of small kopjes.  Still, it has a way of looking flat, because the hills are small, and very much alike; and because hill and hollow are covered and hidden mile after mile by small trees of a wonderful sameness, just near enough together to prevent you from seeing more than a few hundred yards at a time.  Most people see no differences in sheep: many believe that all Chinamen are exactly alike; and so it is with the Bushveld: you have to know it first. So far I had never lost my way out hunting.  The experiences of other men and the warnings from the old hands had made me very careful.  We were always hearing of men being lost through leaving the road and following up the game while they were excited, without noticing which
way they went and how long they had been going.  There were no beaten tracks and very few landmarks, so that even experienced hunters went astray sometimes for a few hours or a day or two when the mists or heavy rains came on and nothing could be seen beyond fifty or a hundred yards. Nearly every one who goes hunting in the Bushveld gets lost some time or other--generally in the beginning before he has learned to notice things.  Some have been lost for many days until they blundered on to a track by accident or were found by a search-party; others have been lost and, finding no water or food, have died; others have been killed by lions, and only a boot or a coat--or, as it happened in one case that I know of, a ring found inside a lion--told what had occurred; others have been lost and nothing more ever heard of them.  There is no feeling quite like that of being lost--helplessness, terror, and despair!  The horror of it is so great that every beginner has it before him; every
one has heard of it, thought of it, and dreamed of it, and every one feels it holding him to the beaten track, as the fear of drowning keeps those who cannot swim to shallow water.  That is just in the beginning. Presently, when little excursions, each bolder than the previous, have ended without accident, the fear grows less and confidence develops. Then it is, as a rule, that the accident comes and the lesson is learned, if you are lucky enough to pull through. When the camp is away in the trackless bush, it needs a good man always to find the way home after a couple of hours' chase with all its twists and turns and doublings; but when camp is made on a known road--a long main road that strikes a fair line between two points of the compass--it seems impossible for any one to be hopelessly lost.  If the road runs east and west you, knowing on which side you left it, have only to walk north or south steadily and you must strike it again.  The old hands told the beginners this, and we were glad to know that it was only a matter of walking for a few hours, more or less, and that in the end we were bound to find the road and strike some camp.  "Yes," said the old hands, "it is simple enough here where you have a road running east and west; there is only one rule to remember: When you have lost your way, don't lose your head."  But indeed that is just the one rule that you are quite unable to observe. Many stories have been told of men being lost: many volumes could be filled with them for the trouble of writing down what any hunter will tell you.  But no one who has not seen it can realise how the thing may happen; no one would believe the effect that the terror of being lost, and the demoralisation which it causes, can have on a sane man's senses. If you want to know what a man can persuade himself to believe against the evidence of his senses--even when his very life depends upon his holding to the absolute truth--then you should see a man who is lost in the bush.  He knows that he left the road on the north side; she loses his bearings; he does not know how long how fat, or how far he has
walked; yet if he keep his head he will make due south and must inevitably strike the road.  After going for half an hour and seeing nothing familiar, he begins to feel that he is going in the wrong direction; something pulls at him to face right about.  Only a few minutes more of this, and he feels sure that he must have crossed the road without noticing it, and therefore that he ought to be going north instead of south, if he hopes ever to strike it again.  How, you will ask, can a man imagine impossible to cross a big dusty road twenty or thirty feet wide without seeing it?  The idea seems absurd; yet they do really believe it.  One of the first illusions that occurs to men when they lose their heads is that they have done this, and it is the cause of scores of cases of `lost in the bush.'  The idea that they may have done it is absurd enough; but stranger still is the fact that they actually _do_ it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Leopard Photos taken with Roger Laplante from Canada while on Safari with Nhongo Safaris


Three nice photos of a leopard that we got on one of our game drives on the H3 with Roger Laplante from Canada. This female leopard was just too illing to walk right next to the open safari vehicle and show her self off to us. We were lucky to have this sighting that day as there were a lot of other visitors in the park and she could easily have been chased away with all the vehicle movement.

Jock Of The Bushvels by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick ( Chapter 6 )( Page 2 )( The First Hunt )

I was too disgusted to move, and sat in the sand rubbing my shoulder and thanking my stars that the rifle had not burst.  There was plenty to think about, to be sure, and no hurry to do anything else, for the noise of the shot must have startled every living thing for a mile round.
It is not always easy to tell the direction from which a report comes when you are near a river or in broken country or patchy bush; and it is not an uncommon thing to find that a shot which has frightened one animal away from you has startled another and driven it towards you; and
that is what happened in this case.  As I sat in the shade of the thorns with the loaded rifle across my knees there was the faint sound of a buck cantering along in the sand; I looked up; and only about twenty yards from me a duiker came to a stop, half fronting me.  There it stood
looking back over its shoulder and listening intently, evidently thinking that the danger lay behind it.  It was hardly possible to miss that; and as the duiker rolled over, I dropped my rifle and ran to make sure of it.
Of course, it was dead against the rules to leave the rifle behind; but
it was simply a case of excitement again: when the buck rolled over everything else was forgotten!  I knew the rule perfectly well--Reload at once and never part with your gun.  It was one of Rocky's lessons, and only a few weeks before this, when out for an afternoon's shooting
with an old hunter, the lesson had been repeated.  The old man shot a rietbuck ram, and as it had been facing us and dropped without a kick we both thought that it was shot through the brain.  There was no mark on the head, however, and although we examined it carefully, we failed to find the bullet-mark or a trace of blood; so we put our rifles down to settle the question by skinning the buck.  After sawing at the neck for half a minute, however, the old man found his knife too blunt to make an opening, and we both hunted about for a stone to sharpen it on, and
while we were fossicking about in the grass there was a noise behind, and looking sharply round we saw the buck scramble to its feet and scamper off before we had time to move.  The bullet must have touched one of its horns and stunned it.  My companion was too old a hunter to
get excited, and while I ran for the rifles and wanted to chase the buck on foot he stood quite still, gently rubbing the knife on the stone he had picked up.  Looking at me under bushy eyebrows and smiling philosophically, he said:
"That's something for you to remember, Boy.  It's my belief if you lived for ever there'd always be something to learn at this game." Unfortunately I did not remember when it would have been useful.  As I ran forward the duiker tumbled, struggled and rolled over and over, then got up and made a dash, only to dive head foremost into the sand and somersault over; but in a second it was up again and racing off, again to trip and plunge forward on to its chest with its nose outstretched sliding along the soft ground.  The bullet had struck it in the shoulder, and the broken leg was tripping it and bringing it down; but,
in far less time than it takes to tell it, the little fellow found out what was wrong, and scrambling once more to its feet was off on three legs at a pace that left me far behind.  Jock, remembering the mistake in the reeds, kept his place behind, and I in the excitement of the moment neither saw nor thought of him until the duiker, gaining at every jump, looked like vanishing for ever.  Then I remembered and, with a frantic wave of my hand, shouted, "After him, Jock."
He was gone before my hand was down, and faster than I had ever seen him move, leaving me ploughing through the heavy sand far behind.  Past the big bush I saw them again, and there the duiker did as wounded game so ften do: taking advantage of cover it changed direction and turned away for some dense thorns.  But that suited Jock exactly; he took the short cut across to head it off and was close up in a few more strides.  He caught up to it, raced up beside it, and made a jump at its throat; but the duiker darted away in a fresh direction, leaving him yards behind. Again he was after it and tried the other side; but the buck was too quick, and again he missed and overshot the mark in his jump.  He was in such deadly earnest he seemed to turn in the air to get back again and once more was close up--so close that I the flying heels of the buck
seemed to pass each side of his ears; then he made his spring from behind, catching the duiker high up on one hind leg, and the two rolled over together, kicking and struggling in a cloud of dust.  Time after time the duiker got on its feet, trying to get at him with its horns or
to break away again; but Jock, although swung off his feet and rolled on, did not let go his grip.  In grim silence he hung on while the duiker plunged, and, when it fell, tugged and worried as if to shake the life out of it.
What with the hot sun, the heavy sand, and the pace at which we had
gone, I was so pumped that I finished the last hundred yards at a walk, and had plenty of time to see what was going on; but even when I got up to them the struggle was so fierce and the movements so quick that for some time it was not possible to get hold of the duiker to finish it
off.  At last came one particularly bad fall, when the buck rolled over on its back, and then Jock let go his grip and made a dash for its throat; but again the duiker was too quick for him; with one twist it was up and round facing him on its one knee, and dug, thrust, and swept
with its black spiky horns so vigorously that it was impossible to get at its neck.  As Jock rushed in the head ducked and the horns flashed round so swiftly that it seemed as if nothing could save him from being stabbed through and through, but his quickness and cleverness were a
revelation to me.  If he could not catch the duiker, it could not catch him: they were in a way too quick for each other, and they were a long way too quick for me.
Time after time I tried to get in close enough to grab one of the buck's hind legs, but it was not to be caught.  While Jock was at it fast and furious in front, I tried to creep up quietly behind--but it was no use: the duiker kept facing Jock with horns down, and whenever I moved it swung round and kept me in front also.  Finally I tried a run straight in; and then it made another dash for liberty.  On three legs, howeve, it had no chance, and in another minute Jock had it again, and down they came together, rolling over and over once more.  The duiker struggled hard, but he hung on, and each time it got its feet to the ground to rise he would tug sideways and roll it over again, until I got up to them, and catching the buck by the head, held it down with my knee on its neck and my Bushman's Friend in hand to finish it. There was, however, still another lesson for us both to learn that day; neither of us knew what a buck can do with its hind feet when it is down.  The duiker was flat on its side; Jock, thinking the fight was over, had let go; and, before I could move the supple body doubled up, and the feet whizzed viciously at me right over its head.  The little
pointed cloven feet are as hard and sharp as horns and will tear the flesh like claws.  By good luck the kick only grazed my arm, but although the touch was the lightest it cut the skin and little beads of blood shot up marking the line like the scratch of a thorn.  Missing my arm the hoof struck full on the handle of the Bushman's Friend and sent it flying yards out of reach.  And it was not merely one kick: faster than the eye could follow them the little feet whizzed and the legs seemed to buzz round like the spokes of a wheel.  Holding the horns at arm's length in order to dodge the kicks, I tried to pull the duiker towards the knife; but it was too much for me, and with a sudden twist and a wrench freed itself and was off again.
All the time Jock was moving round and round panting and licking his chops, stepping in and stepping back, giving anxious little whimpers, and longing to be at it again, but not daring to join in without permission.  When the duiker broke away, however, he waited for nothing, and was on to it in one spring--again from behind; and this time he let go as it fell, and jumping free of it, had it by the throat before it
could rise.  I ran to them again, but the picking up of the knife had delayed me and I was not in time to save Jock the same lesson that the duiker had just taught me.
Down on its side, with Jock's jaws locked in its throat, once more the duiker doubled up and used its feet.  The first kick went over his head and scraped harmlessly along his back; but the second caught him at the
point of the shoulder, and the razor-like toe ripped his side right to the hip.  Then the dog showed his pluck and cleverness.  His side was cut open as if it had been slashed by a knife, but he never flinched or loosened his grip for a second; he seemed to go at it more furiously
than ever, but more cleverly and warily.  He swung his body round clear of the whizzing feet, watching them with his little beady eyes fixed sideways and the gleaming whites showing in the corners; he tugged away incessantly and vigorously, keeping the buck's neck stretched out and
pulling it round in a circle backwards so that it could not possibly double its body up enough to kick him again; and before I could catch the feet to help him, the kicks grew weaker; the buck slackened out, and Jock had won.
The sun was hot, the sand was deep, and the rifle was hard to find; it was a long way back to the waggons, and the duiker made a heavy load; but the end of that first chase seemed so good that nothing else mattered.  The only thing I did mind was the open cut on Jock's side; but he minded nothing: his tail was going like a telegraph needle; he
was panting with his mouth open from ear to ear, and his red tongue hanging out and making great slapping licks at his chops from time to time; he was not still for a second, but kept walking in and stepping back in a circle round the duiker, and looking up at me and then down at
it, as if he was not at all sure that there might not be some fresh game on, and was consulting me as to whether it would not be a good thing to have another go in and make it all safe.
He was just as happy as a dog could be, and perhaps he was proud of the wound that left a straight line from his shoulder to his hip and showed up like a cord under the golden brindle as long as he lived--a memento of his first real hunt.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick ( Chapter 6 )( Page 1 )( The First Hunt)

Jock's first experience in hunting was on the Crocodile River not far from the spot where afterwards we had the great fight with The Old Crocodile.  In the summer when the heavy rains flood the country the river runs `bank high,' hiding everything--reeds, rocks, islands, and
stunted trees--in some places silent and oily like a huge gorged snake, in others foaming and turbulent as an angry monster.  In the rainless winter when the water is low and clear the scene is not so grand, but is quiet, peaceful, and much more beautiful.  There is an infinite variety
in it then--the river sometimes winding along in one deep channel, but more often forking out into two or three streams in the broad bed.  The loops and lacings of the divided water carve out islands and spaces of all shapes and sizes, banks of clean white sand or of firm damp mud
swirled up by the floods, on which tall green reeds with yellow tasselled tops shoot up like crops of Kaffir corn.  Looked down upon from the flood banks the silver streaks of water gleam brightly in the sun, and the graceful reeds, bowing and swaying slowly with the gentlest
breeze and alternately showing their leaf-sheathed stems and crested tops, give the appearance of an ever-changing sea of green and gold. Here and there a big rock, black and polished, stands boldly out, and the sea of reeds laps round it like the waters of a lake on a bright still day.  When there is no breeze the rustle of the reeds is hushed, and the only constant sound is the ever-varying voice of the water, lapping, gurgling, chattering, murmuring, as it works its way along the rocky channels; sometimes near and loud, sometimes faint and distant; and sometimes, over long sandy reaches, there is no sound at all.
Get up on some vantage point upon the high bank and look down there one day in the winter of the tropics as the heat and hush of noon approach,
and it will seem indeed a scene of peace and beauty--a place to rest and dream, where there is neither stir nor sound.  Then, as you sit silently watching and thinking, where all the world is so infinitely still, you will notice that one reed down among all those countless thousands is
moving.  It bows slowly and gracefully a certain distance, and then with a quivering shuddering motion straightens itself still more slowly and with evident difficulty, until at last it stands upright again like the rest but still all a-quiver while they do not move a leaf.  Just as you
are beginning to wonder what the reason is, the reed bows slowly again, and again struggles back; and so it goes on as regularly as the swing of a pendulum.  Then you know that, down at the roots where you cannot see it, the water is flowing silently, and that something attached to this reed is dragging in the stream and pulling it over, and swinging back to do it again each time the reed lifts it free--a perpetual seesaw.
You are glad to find the reason, because it looked a little uncanny; but the behaviour of that one reed has stopped your dreaming and made you
look about more carefully.  Then you find that, although the reeds appear as still as the rocks, there is hardly a spot where, if you watch for a few minutes, you will not see something moving.  A tiny field-mouse climbing one reed will sway it over; a river rat gnawing at the roots will make it shiver and rustle; little birds hopping from one to another will puzzle you; and a lagavaan turning in his sunbath will make half a dozen sway outwards.
All feeling that it is a home of peace, a place to rest and dream, leaves you; you are wondering what goes on down below the green and gold where you can see nothing; and when your eye catches a bigger, slower, continuous movement in another place, and for twenty yards from the bank to the stream you see the tops of the reeds silently and gently parting and closing again as something down below works its way along without the faintest sound, the place seems too quiet, too uncanny and
mysterious, too silent, stealthy and treacherous for you to sit still in comfort: you must get up and do something.
There is always good shooting along the rivers in a country where water
is scarce.  Partridges, bush-pheasants and stembuck were plentiful along the banks and among the thorns, but the reeds themselves were the home of thousands of guinea-fowl, and you could also count on duiker and rietbuck as almost a certainty there.  If this were all, it would be
like shooting in a well-stocked cover, but it is not only man that is on the watch for game at the drinking-places.  The beasts of prey--lions, tigers, hyenas, wild dogs and jackals, and lastly pythons and crocodiles--know that the game must come to water, and they lie in wait
near the tracks or the drinking-places.  That is what makes the mystery and charm of the reeds; you never know what you will put up.  The lions and tigers had deserted the country near the main drifts and followed the big game into more peaceful parts; but the reeds were still the
favourite shelter and resting-place of the crocodiles; and there were any number of them left.
There is nothing that one comes across in hunting more horrible and loathsome than the crocodile: nothing that rouses the feeling of horror and hatred as it does: nothing that so surely and quickly gives the sensation of `creeps in the back' as the noiseless apparition of one in
the water just where you least expected anything, or the discovery of one silently and intently watching you with its head resting flat on a sand spit--the thing you had seen half a dozen times before and mistaken for a small rock.  Many things are hunted in the Bushveld; but only the
crocodile is hated.  There is always the feeling of horror that this hideous, cowardly, cruel thing--the enemy of man and beast alike--with its look of a cunning smile in the greeny glassy eyes and great wide mouth, will mercilessly drag you down--down--down to the bottom of some
deep still pool, and hold you there till you drown.  Utterly helpless yourself to escape or fight, you cannot even call, and if you could, no one could help you there.  It is all done in silence: a few bubbles come up where a man went down; and that is the end of it.
We all knew about the crocodiles and were prepared for them, but the sport was good, and when you are fresh at the game and get interested in a hunt it is not very easy to remember all the things you have been
warned about and the precautions you were told to take.  It was on the first day at the river that one of our party, who was not a very old hand at hunting, came in wet and muddy and told us how a crocodile had scared the wits out of him.  He had gone out after guinea-fowl, he said,
but as he had no dog to send in and flush them, the birds simply played with him: they would not rise but kept running in the reeds a little way in front of him, just out of sight.  He could hear them quite distinctly, and thinking to steal a march on them took off his boots and got on to the rocks.  Stepping bare-footed from rock to rock where the reeds were thin, he made no noise at all and got so close up that he could hear the little whispered chink-chink-chink that they give when near danger.  The only chance of getting a shot at them was to mount one of the big rocks from which he could see down into the reeds; and he worked his way along a mud-bank towards one.  A couple more steps from the mud-bank on to a low black rock would take him to the big one. Without taking his eyes off the reeds where the guinea-fowl were he stepped cautiously on to the low black rock, and in an instant was swept off his feet, tossed and tumbled over and over, into the mud and reeds, and there was a noise of furious rushing and crashing as if a troop of
elephants were stampeding through the reeds.  He had stepped on the back of a sleeping crocodile; no doubt it was every bit as frightened as he was.  There was much laughter over this and the breathless earnestness with which he told the story; but there was also a good deal of chaff, for it seems to be generally accepted that you are not bound to believe all hunting stories; and Jim and his circus crocodile became the joke of the camp.
We were spending a couple of days on the river bank to make the most of the good water and grazing, and all through the day some one or other would be out pottering about among the reeds, gun in hand, to keep the pot full and have some fun, and although we laughed and chaffed about Jim's experience, I fancy we were all very much on the look-out for rocks that looked like crocs and crocs that looked like rocks.
One of the most difficult lessons that a beginner has to learn is to keep cool.  The keener you are the more likely you are to get excited and the more bitterly you feel the disappointments; and once you lose your head, there is no mistake too stupid for you to make, and the result is another good chance spoilt.  The great silent bush is so lonely; the strain of being on the look-out all the time is so great; the uncertainty as to what may start up--anything from a partridge to a
lion--is so trying that the beginner is wound up like an alarum clock and goes off at the first touch.  He is not fit to hit a haystack at twenty yards; will fire without looking or aiming at all; jerk the rifle as he fires; forget to change the sight after the last shot; forget to cock his gun or move the safety catch; forget to load; forget to fire at all: nothing is impossible--nothing too silly.
On a later trip we had with us a man who was out for the first time, and when we came upon a troop of koodoo he started yelling, war-whooping and swearing at them, chasing them on foot and waving his rifle over his head.  When we asked him why he, who was nearest to them, had not fired a shot, all he could say was that he never remembered his rifle or anything else until they were gone. These experiences had been mine, some of them many times, in spite of Rocky's example and advice; and they were always followed by a fresh stock of good resolutions.
I had started out this day with the same old determination to keep cool, but, once into the reeds, Jim's account of how he had stepped on the crocodile put all other thoughts out of my mind, and most of my attention was given to examining suspicious-looking rocks as we stole silently and quietly along. Jock was with me, as usual; I always took him out even then--not for hunting, because he was too young, but in order to train him.  He was still only a puppy, about six months old, as well as I remember, and had never tackled or even followed a wounded buck, so that it was impossible to say what he would do; he had seen me shoot a couple and had wanted to
worry them as they fell; but that was all.  He was quite obedient and kept his place behind me; and, although he trembled with excitement when he saw or heard anything, he never rushed in or moved ahead of me without permission.  The guinea-fowl tormented him that day; he could
scent and hear them, and was constantly making little runs forward, half crouching and with his nose back and tail dead level and his one ear full-cocked and the other half-up.
For about half an hour we went on in this way.  There was plenty of fresh duiker spoor to show us that we were in a likely place, one spoor in particular being so fresh in the mud that it seemed only a few
minutes old.  We were following this one very eagerly but very cautiously, and evidently Jock agreed with me that the duiker must be near, for he took no more notice of the guinea-fowl; and I for my part forgot all about crocodiles and suspicious-looking rocks; there was at that moment only one thing in the world for me, and that was the duiker. We crept along noiselessly in and out of the reeds, round rocks and mudholes, across small stretches of firm mud or soft sand, so silently that nothing could have heard us, and finally we came to a very big rock, with the duiker spoor fresher than ever going close round it down stream.  The rock was a long sloping one, polished smooth by the floods and very slippery to walk on.  I climbed it in dead silence, peering
down into the reeds and expecting every moment to see the duiker.
The slope up which we crept was long and easy, but that on the down-stream side was much steeper.  I crawled up to the top on hands and knees, and raising myself slowly, looked carefully about, but no duiker
could be seen; yet Jock was sniffing and trembling more than ever, and it was quite clear that he thought we were very close up.  Seeing nothing in front or on either side, I stood right up and turned to look back the way we had come and examine the reeds on that side.  In doing
so a few grains of grit crunched under my foot, and instantly there was a rush in the reeds behind me; I jumped round to face it, believing that the crocodile was grabbing at me from behind, and on the polished surface of the rock my feet slipped and shot from under me, both bare elbows bumped hard on the rock, jerking the rifle out of my hands; and I was launched like a torpedo right into the mass of swaying reeds.
When you think you are tumbling on to a crocodile there is only one thing you want to do--get out as soon as possible.  How long it took to
reach the top of the rock again, goodness only knows!  It seemed like a life-time; but the fact is I was out of those reeds and up that rock in time to see the duiker as it broke out of the reeds, raced up the bank, and disappeared into the bush with Jock tearing after it as hard as ever
he could go.
One call stopped him, and he came back to me looking very crestfallen and guilty, no doubt thinking that he had behaved badly and disgraced himself.  But he was not to blame at all; he had known all along that the duiker was there--having had no distracting fancies about
crocodiles--and when he saw it dash off and his master instantly jump in after it, he must have thought that the hunt had at last begun and that he was expected to help.
After all that row and excitement there was not much use in trying for anything more in the reeds--and indeed I had had quite enough of them for one afternoon; so we wandered along the upper banks in the hope of finding something where there were no crocodiles, and it was not long before we were interested in something else and able to forget all about the duiker. Before we had been walking many minutes, Jock raised his head and ears and then lowered himself into a half crouching attitude and made a little run forward.  I looked promptly in the direction he was pointing and about two hundred yards away saw a stembuck standing in the shade of a mimosa bush feeding briskly on the buffalo grass.  It was so small and in such bad light that the shot was too difficult for me at that distance, and I crawled along behind bushes, ant-heaps and trees until we were close enough for anything.  The ground was soft and sandy, and we could get along easily enough without making any noise; but all the time, whilst thinking how lucky it was to be on ground so soft for the hands and knees, and so easy to move on without being heard, something else was happening.  With eyes fixed on the buck I did not notice that in crawling along on all-fours, the muzzle of the rifle dipped regularly into the sand, picking up a little in the barrel each time.  There was not enough to burst the rifle, but the effect was surprising.  Following
on a painfully careful aim, there was a deafening report that made my head reel and buzz; the kick of the rifle on the shoulder and cheek left me blue for days; and when my eyes were clear enough to see anything the stembuck had disappeared.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick ( Chapter 5 )( Page 2 )( Jock's Schooldays )

He learnt something fresh almost every day: he learnt, for instance, that, although it was shady
and cool under the waggon, it was not good enough to lie in the wheel track, not even for the pleasure of feeling the cool iron tyre against your back or head as you slept; and he knew that, because one day he had done it and the wheel had gone over his foot; and it might just as
easily have been his back or head.  Fortunately the sand was soft and his foot was not crushed; but he was very lame for some days, and had to travel on the waggon.
He learned a good deal from Jess: among other things, that it was not necessary to poke his nose up against a snake in order to find out what it was.  He knew that Jess would fight anything; and when one day he saw
her back hair go up and watched her sheer off the footpath wide into the grass, he did the same; and then when we had shot the snake, both he and Jess came up very very cautiously and sniffed at it, with every hair on their bodies standing up.
He found out for himself that it was not a good idea to turn a scorpion over with his paw.  The vicious little tail with a thorn in it whipped
over the scorpion's back, and Jock had such a foot that he must have thought a scorpion worse than two waggons.  He was a very sick dog for some days; but after that, whenever he saw a thing that he did not understand, he would watch it very carefully from a little way off and
notice what it did and what it looked like, before trying experiments.
So, little by little, Jock got to understand plenty of things that no town dog would ever know, and he got to know--just as some people do--by what we call instinct, whether a thing was dangerous or safe, even
though he had never seen anything like it before.  That is how he knew that wolves or lions were about--and that they were dangerous--when he heard or scented them; although he had never seen, scented or heard one before to know what sort of animal it might be.  You may well wonder how he could tell whether the scent or the cry belonged to a wolf which he
must avoid, or to a buck which he might hunt, when he had never seen either a wolf or a buck at the time; but he did know; and he also knew that no dog could safely go outside the ring of the camp fires when wolf or lion was about.  I have known many town-bred dogs that could scent
them just as well as Jess or Jock could, but having no instinct of danger they went out to see what it was, and of course they never came back.
I used to take Jock with me everywhere so that he could learn everything that a hunting dog ought to know, and above all things to learn that he was my dog, and to understand all that I wanted to tell him.  So while he was still a puppy, whenever he stopped to sniff at something new or to look at something strange, I would show him what it was; but if he stayed behind to explore while I moved on, or if he fell asleep and did not hear me get up from where I had sat down to rest, or went off the track on his own account, I used to hide away from him on top of a rock or up a tree and let him hunt about until he found me. At first he used to be quite excited when he missed me, but after a little time he got to know what to do and would sniff along the ground and canter away after me--always finding me quite easily.  Even if I climbed a tree to hide from him he would follow my track to the foot of the tree, sniff up the trunk as far as he could reach standing up against it, and then peer up into the branches.  If he could not see me from one place, he would try another--always with his head tilted a bit on one side.  He never barked at these times; but as soon as he saw me,
his ears would drop, his mouth open wide with the red tongue lolling out, and the stump of a tail would twiggle away to show how pleased he was.  Sometimes he would give a few little whimpery grunts: he hardly ever barked; when he did I knew there was something worth looking at.
Jock was not a quarrelsome dog, and he was quick to learn and very
obedient, but in one connection I had great difficulty with him for quite a little time.  He had a sort of private war with the fowls; and it was due to the same cause as his war with the other puppies: they interfered with him.  Now, every one knows what a fowl is like: it is
impudent, inquisitive, selfish, always looking for something to eat, and has no principles.

A friend of mine once told me a story about a dog of his and the trouble he had with fowls.  Several of us had been discussing the characters of dogs, and the different emotions they feel and manage to express, and the kind of things they seem to think about.  Every one knows that a dog can feel angry, frightened, pleased, and disappointed.  Any one who knows dogs will tell you that they can also feel anxious, hopeful, nervous, inquisitive, surprised, ashamed, interested, bad, loving, jealous, and contented--just like human beings. We had told many stories illustrating this, when my friend asked the question: "Have dogs a sense of humour?"  Now I know that Jock looked very foolish the day he fought the table-leg--and a silly old hen made
him look just as foolish another day--but that is not quite what my friend meant.  On both occasions Jock clearly felt that he had mad himself look ridiculous; but he was very far from looking amused.  The question was: Is a dog capable of sufficient thinking to appreciate a
simple joke, and is it possible for a dog to feel amused.  If Jess had seen Jock bursting to fight the table-leg would she have seen the joke? Well, I certainly did not think so; but he said he was quite certain some dogs have a sense of humour; and he had had proof of it.
He told the story very gravely, but I really do not even now know whether he--Well, here it is: He had once owned a savage old watch-dog, whose box stood in the back-yard where he was kept chained up all day; he used to be fed once a day--in the mornings--and the great plague of his life was the fowls.  They ran loose in the yard and picked up food all day, besides getting a really good feed of grain morning and evening; possibly the knowledge of this made the old dog particularly
angry when they would come round by ones or twos or dozens trying to steal part of his one meal.  Anyhow, he hated them, and whenever he got a chance killed them.  The old fowls learned to keep out of his way and never ventured within his reach unless they were quite sure that he was asleep or lying in his kennel where he could not see them; but there were always new fowls coming, or young ones growing up; and so the war went on.
One Sunday morning my friend was enjoying a smoke on his back stoep when feeding time came round.  The cook took the old dog's food to him in a high three-legged pot, and my friend, seeing the fowls begin to gather round and wishing to let the old dog have his meal in peace, told the cook to give the fowls a good feed in another part of the yard to draw them off.  So the old fellow polished off his food and licked the pot clean, leaving not a drop or a speck behind. But fowls are very greedy; they were soon back again wandering about, with their active-looking eyes searching everything.  The old dog, feeling pretty satisfied with life, picked out a sandy spot in the sunshine, threw himself down full stretch on his side, and promptly went to sleep--at peace with all the world.  Immediately he did this, out stepped a long-legged athletic-looking young cockerel and began to
advance against the enemy.  As he got nearer he slowed down, and looked first with one eye and then with the other so as to make sure that all was safe, and several times he paused with one foot poised high before deciding to take the next step.  My friend was greatly amused to see all
the trouble that the fowl was taking to get up to the empty pot, and, for the fun of giving the conceited young cockerel a fright, threw a pebble at him.  He was so nervous that when the pebble dropped near him, he gave one great bound and tore off flapping and screaming down the
yard as if he thought the old dog was after him.  The old fellow himself was startled out of his sleep, and raised his head to see what the row was about; but, as nothing more happened, he lay down again, and the cockerel, finding also that it was a false alarm, turned back not a bit
ashamed for another try.
The cockerel had not seen the old dog lift his head; my friend had, and
when he looked again he saw that, although the underneath eye--half buried in the sand--was shut, the top eye was open and was steadily watching the cockerel as he came nearer and nearer to the pot.  My friend sat dead still, expecting a rush and another fluttering scramble.
At last the cockerel took the final step, craned his neck to its utmost and peered down into the empty pot.  The old dog gave two gentle pats with his tail in the sand, and closing his eye went to sleep again.
Jock had the same sort of trouble.  The fowls tried to steal his food;
and he would not stand it.  His way of dealing with them was not good for their health: before I could teach him not to kill, and before the fowls would learn not to steal, he had finished half a dozen of them one after another with just one bite and a shake.  He would growl very low
as they came up and, without lifting his head from the plate, watch them with his little eyes turning from soft brown to shiny black; and when they came too near and tried to snatch just one mouthful--well, one jump, one shake, and it was all over.
In the end he learned to tumble them over and scare their wits out without hurting them; and they learned to give him a very wide berth. I used always to keep some fowls with the waggons, partly to have fresh
meat if we ran out of game, but mainly to have fresh eggs, which were a very great treat; and as a rule it was only when a hen turned obstinate and would not lay that we ate her.  I used to have one old rooster, whose name was Pezulu, and six or eight hens.  The hens changed from
time to time--as we ate them--but Pezulu remained.
The fowl-coop was carried on top of everything else, and it was always left open so that the fowls could go in and out as they liked.  In the very beginning of all, of course, the fowls were shut in and fed in the coop for a day or two to teach them where their home was; but it is surprising how quickly a fowl will learn and how it observes things. For instance, the moving of the coop from one waggon to another is not a
thing one would expect the fowls to notice, all the waggons being so much alike and having no regular order at the outspans; but they did notice it, and at once.  They would first get on to the waggon on which the coop had been, and look about in a puzzled lost kind of way; then
walk all over the load apparently searching for it, with heads cocked this way and that, as if a great big coop was a thing that might have  been mislaid somewhere; then one after another would jerk out short cackles of protest, indignation and astonishment, and generally make no
end of a fuss.  It was only when old Pezulu led the way and perched on the coop itself and crowed and called to them that they would get up on to the other waggon.
Pezulu got his name by accident--in fact, by a misunderstanding.  It is a Zulu word meaning `up' or `on top,' and when the fowls first joined the waggons and were allowed to wander about at the outspan places, the boys would drive them up when it was time to trek again by cracking their big whips and shouting "Pezulu."  In a few days no driving or whip-cracking was necessary; one of the boys would shout "Pezulu" three or four times, and they would all come in and one by one fly and
scramble up to the coop.  One day, after we had got a new lot of hens, a stranger happened to witness the performance.  Old Pezulu was the only one who knew what was meant, and being a terribly fussy nervous old gentleman, came tearing out of the bush making a lot of noise, and
scrambled hastily on to the waggon.  The stranger, hearing the boys call "Pezulu" and seeing him hurry up so promptly, remarked: "How well he knows his name!"  So we called him Pezulu after that.
Whenever we got new fowls Pezulu became as distracted as a nervous man
with a large family trying to find seats in an excursion train.  As soon as he saw the oxen being brought up, and before any one had called for the fowls, he would begin fussing and fuming--trying all sorts of dodges to get the hens up to the waggons.  He would crow and cluck-cluck or
kip-kip; he would go a few yards towards the waggons and scratch in the ground, pretending to have found something good, and invite them to come and share it; he would get on the disselboom and crow and flap his wings loudly; and finally he would mount on top of the coop and make all sorts of signals to the hens, who took not the least notice of him.  As the
inspanning went on he would get more and more excited; down he would come again--not flying off, but hopping from ledge to ledge to show them the easy way; and once more on the ground he would scrape and pick and cluck to attract them, and the whole game would be played over again and again.  So even with new fowls we had very little trouble, as old Pezulu
did most of the teaching.
But sometimes Pezulu himself was caught napping--to the high delight of the boys.  He was so nervous and so fussy that they thought it great fun to play tricks on him and pretend to go off and leave him behind.  It was not easy to do this because, as I say, he did not wait to be called, but got ready the minute he saw the oxen coming up.  He was like those
fussy people who drive every one else crazy and waste a lot of time by always being half an hour early, and then annoy you by boasting that they have never missed a train in their lives.

But there was one way in which Pezulu used to get caught.  Just as he knew that inspanning meant starting, so, too, he knew that outspanning meant stopping; and whenever the waggons stopped--even for a few minutes--out would pop his head, just like the fussy red-faced father of
the big family looking out to see if it was their station or an accident on the line.  Right and left he would look, giving excited inquisitive clucks from time to time, and if they did not start in another minute or two, he would get right out and walk anxiously to the edge of the load
and have another good look around--as the nervous old gentleman gets half out, and then right out, to look for the guard, but will not let go the handle of the door for fear of being left.  Unless he saw the boys outspanning he would not get off, and if one of the hens ventured out he
would rush back at her in a great state and try to bustle her back into the coop.  But often it happens while trekking that something goes wrong with the gear--a yokeskey or a nek-strop breaks, or an ox will not pull kindly or pulls too hard where he is, and you want to change his place; and in that way it comes about that sometimes you have to outspan one or
two or even more oxen in the middle of a trek.
That is how Pezulu used to get caught: the minute he saw outspanning begin, he would nip off with all the hens following him and wander about looking for food, chasing locusts or grasshoppers, and making darts at beetles and all sorts of dainties--very much interested in his job and wandering further from the waggons at every step.  The boys would watch him, and as soon as they were fixed up again, would start off without a word of warning to Pezulu.  Then there was a scene.  At the first sound
of the waggon-wheels moving he would look up from where he was or walk briskly into the open or get on to an ant-heap to see what was up, and when to his horror he saw the waggon actually going without him, he simply screamed open-mouthed and tore along with wings outstretched--the old gentleman shouting "Stop the train, stop the train," with his family straggling along behind him.  It never took him long to catch up and scramble on, but even then he was not a bit less excited: he was perfectly hysterical, and his big red comb seemed to get quite purple as
if he might be going to have apoplexy, and he twitched and jerked about so that it flapped first over one eye and then over the other.  This was the boys' practical joke which they played on him whenever they could.
That was old Pezulu--Pezulu the First.  He was thick in the body, all
chest and tail, short in the legs, and had enormous spurs; and his big comb made him; look so red in the face that one could not help thinking he was too fond of his dinner.  In some old Christmas number we came across a coloured caricature of a militia colonel in full uniform, and
for quite a long time it remained tacked on to the coop with "Pezulu" written on it.

Pezulu the Great--who was Pezulu the Second--was not like that: he was a game cock, all muscle and no frills, with a very resolute manner and a real love of his profession; he was a bit like Jock in some things; and that is why I fancy perhaps Jock and he were friends in a kind of way. But Jock could not get on with the others: they were constantly changing; new ones who had to be taught manners were always coming; so he just lumped them together, and hated fowls.  He taught them manners, but they taught him something too--at any rate, one of them did; and one of the biggest surprises and best lessons Jock ever had was given him by
a hen while he was still a growing-up puppy.
He was beginning to fancy that he knew a good deal, and like most young dogs was very inquisitive and wanted to know everything and at once.  At that time he was very keen on hunting mice, rats and bush squirrels, and
had even fought and killed a meerkat after the plucky little rikkitikki had bitten him rather badly through the lip; and he was still much inclined to poke his nose in or rush on to things instead of sniffing round about first.
However, he learned to be careful, and an old hen helped to teach him. The hens usually laid their eggs in the coop because it was their home,
but sometimes they would make nests in the bush at the outspan places. One of the hens had done this, and the bush she had chosen was very low and dense.  No one saw the hen make the nest and no one saw her sitting on it, for the sunshine was so bright everywhere else, and the shade of the bush so dark that it was impossible to see anything there; but while
we were at breakfast Jock, who was bustling about everywhere as a puppy will, must have scented the hen or have seen this brown thing in the dark shady hole.
The hen was sitting with her head sunk right down into her chest, so that he could not see any head, eyes or beak--just a sort of brown lump. Suddenly we saw Jock stand stock-still, cock up one ear, put his head
down and his nose out, hump up his shoulders a bit and begin to walk very slowly forward in a crouching attitude.  He lifted his feet so slowly and so softly that you could count five between each step.  We were all greatly amused and thought he was pointing a mouse or a locust,
and we watched him.
He crept up like a boy showing off until he was only six inches from the
object, giving occasional cautious glances back at us to attract attention.  Just as he got to the hole the hen let out a vicious peck on the top of his nose and at the same time flapped over his head, screaming and cackling for dear life.  It was all so sudden and so surprising that she was gone before he could think of making a grab at her; and when he heard our shouts of laughter he looked as foolish as if he understood all about it.

Jock Of The Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (Chapter 5 )(Page 1)( Jock's Schooldays )

After that day no one spoke of "The Rat" or "The Odd Puppy," or used any of the numberless nicknames that they had given him, such as "The Specimen," "The Object," "Number 6," "Bully-Beef," (because he got his head stuck in a half-pound tin one day), "The Scrap"; and even "The Duke of Wellington" ceased to be a gibe.  They still laughed at his ridiculous dignity; and they loved to tease him to see him stiffen with rage and hear his choky little growls; but they liked his independence and admired his tremendous pluck.  So they respected his name when he
got one.
And his name was "Jock." No one bothered about the other puppies' names: they were known as "Billy's pup," "Jimmy's pup," "Old Joe's Darling," "Yellow Jack," and "Bandy-Legged Sue"; but they seemed to think that this little chap had earned his name, fighting his way without anybody's help and with everything against him; so they gave up all the nicknames and spoke of him as "Jock." Jock got such a good advertisement by his fight with the table-leg that
every one took notice of him now and remarked about what he did; and as he was only a very young puppy, they teased him, fed him, petted him, and did their best to spoil him.  He was so young that it did not seem to matter, but I think if he had not been a really good dog at heart he
would have been quite spoilt.
He soon began to grow and fill out; and it was then that he taught the other puppies to leave him alone.  If they had not interfered with him he might perhaps have left them alone, as it was not his nature to interfere with others; but the trouble was they had bullied him so much while he was weak and helpless that he got used to the idea of fighting
for everything.  It is probably the best thing that could have happened to Jock that as a puppy he was small and weak, but full of pluck; it compelled him to learn how to fight; it made him clever, cool, and careful, for he could not afford to make mistakes.  When he fought he
meant business; he went for a good spot, bit hard, and hung on for all he was worth; then, as the enemy began to slacken, he would start vigorously worrying and shaking.  I often saw him shake himself off his feet, because the thing he was fighting was too heavy for him.
The day Jock fought the two big puppies--one after the other--for his bone, and beat them off, was the day of his independence; we all saw the tussle, and cheered the little chap.  And then for one whole day he had peace; but it was like the pause at low water before the tide begins to flow the other way.  He was so used to being interfered with that I suppose he did not immediately understand they would never tackle him again. It took a whole day for him to realise this; but as soon as he did understand it he seemed to make up his mind that now his turn had come, and he went for the first puppy he saw with a bone.  He walked up slowly and carefully, and began to make a circle round him.  When he got about half-way round the puppy took up the bone and trotted off; but Jock headed him off at once, and again began to walk towards him very slowly
and stiffly.  The other puppy stood quite still for a moment, and then Jock's fierce determined look was too much for him: he dropped the bone and bolted.
There was mighty little but smell on those bones, for we gave the puppies very little meat, so when Jock had taken what he could off this one, he started on another hunt.  A few yards away Billy's pup was having a glorious time, struggling with a big bone and growling all the while as if he wanted to let the world know that it was as much as any one's life was worth to come near him.  None of us thought Jock would tackle him, as Billy's pup was still a long way the biggest and strongest of the puppies, and always ready to bully the others. Jock was about three or four yards away when he caught sight of Billy's pup, and for about a minute he stood still and quietly watched.  At first he seemed surprised, and then interested, and then gradually he stiffened up all over in that funny way of his; and when the hair on his shoulders was all on end and his ears and tail were properly up, he
moved forward very deliberately.  In this fashion he made a circle round Billy's pup, keeping about two feet away from him, walking infinitely slowly and glaring steadily at the enemy out of the corners of his eyes; and while he was doing this, the other fellow was tearing away at his
bone, growling furiously and glaring sideways at Jock.  When the circle was finished they stood once more face to face; and then after a short pause Jock began to move in closer, but more slowly even than before.
Billy's pup did not like this: it was beginning to look serious.  He
could not keep on eating and at the same time watch Jock; moreover, there was such a very unpleasant wicked look about Jock, and he moved so steadily and silently forward, that any one would feel a bit creepy and nervous; so he put his paw on the bone and let out a string of snarly
barks, with his ears flat on his neck and his tail rather low down.  But Jock still came on--a little more carefully and slowly perhaps, but just as steadily as ever.  When about a foot off the enemy's nose he changed his direction slightly, as if to walk past, and Billy's pup turned his
head to watch him, keeping his nose pointed towards Jock's, but when they got side by side he again looked straight in front of him.
Perhaps he did this to make sure the bone was still there, or perhaps to show his contempt when he thought Jock was going off.  Whatever the
reason was, it was a mistake; for, as he turned his head away, Jock flew at him, got a good mouthful of ear, and in no time they were rolling and struggling in the dust--Jock's little grunts barely-audible in the noise made by the other one.  Billy's pup was big and strong, and he was not a coward; but Jock was worrying his ear vigorously, and he could not find anything to bite in return.  In less than a minute he began to howl, and was making frantic efforts to get away.  Then Jock let go the ear and tackled the bone.
After that he had no more puppy fights.  As soon as any one of the others saw Jock begin to walk slowly and carefully towards him he seemed
to suddenly get tired of his bone, and moved off.
Most dogs--like most people--when their hearts fail them will try to hide the truth from one another and make some sort of effort or pretence to keep their dignity or self-respect or the good opinion of others. You may see it all any day in the street, when dogs meet and stop to `size' each other up.  As a rule the perfectly shameless cowards are found in the two extreme classes--the outcasts, whose spirits are broken
by all the world being against them; and the pampered darlings, who have never had to do anything for themselves.  Many dogs who are clearly anxious to get out of fighting will make a pretence of bravery at the time, or at least cover up their cowardice, with a `wait-till-I-catch-you-next-time' air, as soon as they are at a safe distance.  Day after day at the outspans the puppies went through every stage of the business, to our constant amusement and to my unconcealed pride; for Jock was thenceforth cock of the walk.  If they saw him some
distance off moving towards them or even staring hard and with his ears and tail up, the retreat would be made with a gloomy and dignified air, sometimes even with growls just loud enough to please themselves without provoking him; if he was fairly close up when spotted they wasted no
time in putting on airs, but trotted off promptly; but sometimes they would be too busy to notice anything until a growl or a rustle in the grass close behind gave warning; and it was always followed by a jump and a shameless scuttle, very often accompanied by a strangled sort of
yowling yelp, just as if he had already got them by the ear or throat.
Some of them became so nervous that we could not resist playing practical jokes on them--making sudden strange noises, imitating Jock's growls, tossing bits of bark at them or touching them from behind with a
stick while they were completely occupied with their bones--for the fun of seeing the stampede and hearing the sudden howls of surprise and fright.
One by one the other puppies were taken away by their new masters, and before Jock was three months old he and Jess were the only dogs with the waggons.  Then he went to school, and like all schoolboys learnt some
things very quickly--the things that he liked; and some things he learnt very slowly, and hated them just as a boy hates extra work in play-time. When I poked about with a stick in the banks of dongas to turn out mice and field-rats for him, or when I hid a partridge or a hare and made him find it, he was as happy as could be; but when I made him lie down and watch my gun or coat while I pretended to go off and leave him, he did not like it; and as for his lessons in manners! well, he simply hated them.
There are some things which a dog in that sort of life simply must learn or you cannot keep him; and the first of these is, not to steal.  Every
puppy will help himself until he is taught not to; and your dog lives with you and can get at everything.  At the outspans the grub-box is put on the ground, open for each man to help himself; if you make a stew, or roast the leg of a buck, the big three-legged pot is put down handy and left there; if you are lucky enough to have some tinned butter or condensed milk, the tins are opened and stood on the ground; and if you have a dog thief in the camp, nothing is safe.

There was a dog with us once--a year or two later--who was the worst thief I ever knew.  He was a one-eyed pointer with feet like a duck's, and his name was Snarleyow.  He looked the most foolish and most innocent dog in the world, and was so timid that if you stumbled as you
passed him he would instantly start howling and run for the horizon. The first bad experience I had of Snarley was on one of the little hunting trips which we sometimes made in those days, away from the waggons.  We travelled light on those occasions, and, except for some
tea and a very little flour and salt, took no food; we lived on what we shot and of course kept `hunter's pot.'
`Hunter's pot' is a perpetual stew; you make one stew, and keep it going
as long as necessary, maintaining a full pot by adding to it as fast as you take any out; scraps of everything go in; any kind of meat--buck, bird, pig, hare--and if you have such luxuries as onions or potatoes, so much the better; then, to make the soup strong, the big bones are
added--the old ones being fished out every day and replaced by a fresh lot.  When allowed to cool it sets like brawn, and a hungry hunter wants nothing better.
We had had a good feed the first night of this trip and had then filled the pot up leaving it to simmer as long as the fire lasted, expecting to have cold pie set in jelly--but without the pie-crust--for early breakfast next morning before going off for the day; but, to our amazement, in the morning the pot was empty.  There were some strange kaffirs--camp followers--hanging on to our trail for what they could
pick up, and we suspected them.  There was a great row, but the boys denied having touched the pot, and we could prove nothing.
That night we made the fire close to our sleeping-place and moved the kaffirs further away, but next morning the pot was again empty--cleaned
and polished as if it had been washed out.  While we, speechless with astonishment and anger, were wondering who the thief was and what we should do with him, one of the hunting boys came up and pointed to the prints of a dog's feet in the soft white ashes of the dead fire.  There
was only one word: "Snarleyow."  The thief was lying fast asleep comfortably curled up on his master's clothes.  There could be no mistake about those big splayed footprints, and in about two minutes Snarleyow was getting a first-class hammering, with his head tied inside
the three-legged pot for a lesson.
After that he was kept tied up at night; but Snarleyow was past curing. We had practically nothing to eat but what we shot, and nothing to drink
but bush tea--that is, tea made from a certain wild shrub with a very strong scent; it is not nice, but you drink it when you cannot get anything else.  We could not afford luxuries then, but two days before Ted's birthday he sent a runner off to Komati Drift and bought a small
tin of ground coffee and a tin of condensed milk for his birthday treat. It was to be a real feast that day, so he cut the top off the tin instead of punching two holes and blowing the milk out, as we usually did in order to economise and keep out the dust and insects.  What we could not use in the coffee that day we were going to spread on our `dough-boys' instead of butter and jam.  It was to be a real feast!
The five of us sat down in a circle and began on our hunter's pot,
saving the good things for the last.  While we were still busy on the tew, there came a pathetic heartbreaking yowl from Snarleyow, and we looked round just in time to see him, his tail tucked between his legs and his head high in the air, bolting off into the bush as hard as he
could lay legs to the ground, with the milk tin stuck firmly on to his nose.  The greedy thief in trying to get the last scrap out had dug his nose and top jaw too far in, and the jagged edges of the tin had gripped him; and the last we saw of our birthday treat was the tin flashing in
the sunlight on Snarley's nose as he tore away howling into the bush. Snarleyow came to a bad end: his master shot him as he was running off with a ham.  He was a full-grown dog when he came to our camp, and too old to learn principles and good manners.
Dogs are like people: what they learn when they are young, whether of good or of evil, is not readily forgotten.  I began early with Jock, and--remembering what Rocky had said--tried to help him.  It is little
use punishing a dog for stealing if you take no trouble about feeding him.  That is very rough on the dog; he has to find out slowly and by himself what he may take, and what he may not.  Sometimes he leaves what he was meant to take, and goes hungry; and sometimes takes what was not intended for him, and gets a thrashing.  That is not fair.  You cannot expect to have a good dog, and one that will understand you, if you treat him in that way.  Some men teach their dogs not to take food from any one but themselves.  One day when we were talking about training dogs, Ted told one of the others to open Jess's mouth and put a piece of
 eat in it, he undertaking not to say a word and not even to look at her.  The meat was put in her mouth and her jaws were shut tight on it; but the instant she was free she dropped it, walked round to the other side of Ted and sat close up to him.  He waited for a minute or so and,
without so much as a glance at her, said quietly "All right."  She was back again in a second and with one hungry bite bolted the lump of meat.
I taught Jock not to touch food in camp until he was told to `take it.' The lesson began when he got his saucer of porridge in the morning; and
he must have thought it cruel to have that put in front of him, and then to be held back or tapped with a finger on the nose each time he tried to dive into it.  At first he struggled and fought to get at it; then he tried to back away and dodge round the other side; then he became dazed, and, thinking it was not for him at all, wanted to walk off and have nothing more to do with it.  In a few days, however, I got him to lie still and take it only when I patted him and pushed him towards it; and in a very little time he got on so well that I could put his food down
without saying anything and let him wait for permission.  He would lie down with his head on his paws and his nose right up against the saucer, so as to lose no time when the order came; but he would not touch it until he heard `Take it.'  He never moved his head, but his little browny dark eyes, full of childlike eagerness, used to be turned up sideways and fixed on mine.  I believe he watched my lips; he was so quick to obey the order when it came.
When he grew up and had learned his lessons there was no need for these exercises.  He got to understand me so well that if I nodded or moved my hand in a way that meant `all right,' he would go ahead: by that time
too he was dignified and patient; and it was only in his puppyhood that he used to crouch up close to his food and tremble with impatience and excitement.
There was one lesson that he hated most of all.  I used to balance a piece of meat on his nose and make him keep it there until the word to take it came. Time after time he would close his eyes as if the sight of the meat was
more than he could bear, and his mouth would water so from the savoury smell that long streels of dribble would hang down on either side.
It seems unnecessary and even cruel to tantalise a dog in that way; but it was not: it was education; and it was true kindness.  It taught him
to understand his master, and to be obedient, patient, and observant; it taught him not to steal; it saved him from much sickness, and perhaps death, by teaching him not to feed on anything he could find; it taught him manners and made it possible for him to live with his master and be
treated like a friend.
Good feeding, good care, and plenty of exercise soon began to make a
great change in Jock.  He ceased to look like a beetle--grew bigger everywhere, not only in one part as he had done at first; his neck grew thick and strong, and his legs straightened up and filled out with muscle.  The others, seeing him every day, were slow to notice these
things, but my sand had been changed into gold long ago, and they always said I could not see anything wrong in Jock.
There was one other change which came more slowly and seemed to me much more wonderful.  After his morning feed, if there was nothing to do, he used to go to sleep in some shady place, and I remember well one day watching him as he lay.  His bit of shade had moved away and left him in the bright sunshine; and as he breathed and his ribs rose and fell, the tips of the hairs on his side and back caught the sunlight and shone like polished gold, and the wavy dark lines seemed more distinct and darker, but still very soft.  In fact, I was astonished to see that in a certain light Jock looked quite handsome.  That was the first time I
noticed the change in colour; and it made me remember two things.  The first was what the other fellows had said the day Billy gave up his pup, "You can't tell how a puppy will turn out: even his colour changes;" and the second was a remark made by an old hunter who had offered to buy Jock--the real meaning of which I did not understand at the time.
"The best dog I ever owned was a golden brindle," said the old man thoughtfully, after I had laughed at the idea of selling my dog.  I had got so used to thinking that he was only a faded wishy-washy edition of
Jess that the idea of his colour changing did not occur to me then, and I never suspected that the old man could see how he would turn out; but the touch of sunlight opened my eyes that day, and after that whenever I looked at Jock the words "golden brindle" came back to my mind, and I pictured him as he was going to be--and as he really did grow up--having a coat like burnished gold with soft, dark, wavy brindles in it and that snow-white V on his chest.
Jock had many things to learn besides the lessons he got from me--the lessons of experience which nobody could teach him.  When he was six months old--just old enough, if he had lived in a town, to chase a cat and make a noise--he knew many things that respectable puppies of twice
his age who stay at home never get a chance of learning.
On trek there were always new places to see, new roads to travel, and new things to examine, tackle or avoid.