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Off to the Wilds by George Manville Fenn

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

Off to the Wilds, Being the Adventures of Two Brothers, by George Manville Fenn.


The setting is the northern part of what is now South Africa, in the middle of the nineteenth century. Mr Rogers is a British settler in South Africa, a "cottage farmer". The earlier Dutch farmers and settlers are called Boers. The two teenage sons, Jack and Dick, have often asked if they could all go out on a trek to visit the northern parts of the country, for a natural history collecting expedition. They had come out to South Africa for the health of Mrs Rogers, but she had died, and of the two boys, Dick was not very strong, while Jack was very robust.

Off they go, together with two Zulu boys who live on their land, the Zulu boys' father, who is a Chieftain whom they nickname "The General", and an Irish cook, who is always getting into trouble in every situation, in a most infuriating manner. There is also Peter the driver, and Dirk who is a foreloper, the man who walks ahead of the oxen to guide them into the best way.

They expect to pay for the trip with ivory from elephants, feathers from ostriches, animal skins, etc.

The various adventures include encounters with snakes, rhino, hippo, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, cataracts, tsetse fly, marauding native tribes, a bush fire, hundreds of miles of dreary grinding effort taking many months just to cover the ground, scorching heat, and sometimes cold. And more besides.

As usual with this author there is sustained tension throughout the book. An interesting and instructive book.





"Just look at him, Dick. Be quiet; don't speak."

"Oh, the dirty sunburnt little varmint! I'd like the job o' washing him."

"If you say another word, Dinny, I'll give you a crack with your own stick."

"An' is it meself would belave you'd hurt your own man Dinny wid a shtick, Masther Jack? Why ye wouldn't knock a fly off me."

"Then be quiet. I want to see what he's going to do."

"Shure an' it's one of the masther's owld boots I threw away wid me own hands this morning, because it hadn't a bit more wear in it. An' look at the dirty unclane monkey now."

"He'll hear you directly, Dinny, and I want to see what he's going to do. Hold your tongue."

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