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Lost in the Wilds

Then Bowkett backed his horse and fled


"Keep

close by me," said Forgill to his young companion, as they wound their way upwards, and reached the brow of the hill just in time to watch the wild charge upon the herd, which scattered in desperate flight, until the hindmost turned to bay upon his reckless pursuers, his shaggy head thrown up as he stood for a moment at gaze. With a whoop and a cheer, in which Wilfred could not help joining, Bowkett again gave chase, followed by his man Diome. A snap shot rattled through the air. Forgill drew the cart aside to the safer shelter of a wooded copse, out of the line of the hunters. He knew the infuriated buffalo would shortly turn on his pursuers. The loose horses were racing after their companions, and Brownie was quivering with excitement.

"Hold hard!" cried Forgill, who saw the boy was longing to give the pony its head and follow suit. "Quiet, my lad," he continued. "None of us are up to that sort of work. It takes your breath to look at them."

The buffalo was wheeling round. Huge and unwieldy as the beast appeared, it changed its front with the rapidity of lightning. Then Bowkett backed his horse and fled. On the proud beast thundered, with lowered eyes flashing furiously under its shaggy brows. A bullet from Diome's gun struck him on the forehead. He only shook his haughty head and bellowed till the prairie rang; but his pace slackened as the answering cries of the retreating herd seemed to call him

back. He was within a yard of Bowkett's horse, when round he swung as swiftly and suddenly as he had advanced. Wilfred stood up in his stirrups to watch him galloping after his companions, through a gap in a broken bluff at no great distance. Away went Bowkett and Diome, urging on their horses with shout and spur.

"Halt a bit," said Forgill, restraining Wilfred and his pony, until they saw the two hunters slowly returning over the intervening ridge with panting horses. They greeted the approach of the cart with a hurrah of success, proposing, as they drew nearer, to halt for dinner in the shelter of the gap through which the buffalo had taken its way.

Wilfred was soon busy with Diome gathering the dry branches last night's wind had broken to make a fire, whilst Bowkett and Forgill went forward with the cart to look for the fallen quarry.

It was the boy's first lesson in camping out, and he enjoyed it immensely, taking his turn at the frying-pan with such success that Diome proposed to hand it over to his exclusive use for the rest of their expedition.

It was hard work to keep the impudent blue jays, with which the prairie abounded, from darting at the savoury fry, and pecking out the very middle of the steak, despite the near neighbourhood of smoke and flame, which threatened to singe their wings in the mad attempt.

But in spite of the thievish birds, dinner was eaten and appreciated in the midst of so much laughter and chaff that even Forgill unbent.

But a long day's work was yet before them, spurring over the sand-ridges and through the rustling grass. They had almost reached one of the westward jutting spurs of the Touchwood Hills, when the sun went down. As it neared the earth and sank amidst the glorious hues of emerald and gold, the dark horizon line became visible for a few brief instants across its blood-red face; but so distant did it seem, so very far away, the whole scene became dreamlike from its immensity.


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