Wang Zuxian Brigitte Lin after AI restoration is amazingly beautiful

发表于 2023-09-23 01:31:44 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

sat sipping his brandy and water—while Eanswyth, still pale and agitated from the various and stirring events of the night, bathed his wounds with rather trembling fingers. “I’ll ride into Komgha to-morrow and have the whole lot arrested—especially that lying dog, Nteya. I’ll go with the police myself, if only to see the old scoundrel handcuffed and hauled off to the tronk.”“What on earth induced you to run your head into such a hornet’s nest for the sake of a few sheep?” said Eustace at last, thinking he ought to say something.“Hang it, man!” was the impatient retort. “Do you suppose I was going to let these scoundrels have the laugh of me? I tell you I spoored the sheep slap into Nteya’s kraal.”“Well, they seem to have the laugh of you now, anyhow—of us, rather,” said Eustace drily, as he turned away.Chapter Nine.A Startling Surprise.Nature is rarely sympathetic. The day dawned, fair and lovely, upon the night of terror and brooding peril. A few golden rays, darting horizontally upon the green, undulating slopes of the pleasant Kaffrarian landscape—then the sun shot up from the eastern skyline. Before him the white mist, which had settled down upon the land a couple of hours before dawn, now rolled back in ragged folds, leaving a sheeny carpet of silver dew—a glittering sparkle of diamond drops upon tree and shrub. Bird voices were twittering into life, in many a gladsome and varying note. Little meer-kats, startled by the tread of the horse, sat upon their haunches to listen, ere plunging, with a frisk and a scamper, into the safety of their burrows. A tortoise, his neck distended and motionless, his bright eye dilated with alarm, noiselessly shrank into the armour-plated safety of his shell, just in time to avoid probable decapitation from the falling hoof which sent his protective shell rolling half a dozen yards down the slope. But he now riding abroad thus early, had little attention to give

For a tall savage had emerged from the bush, and with a howl of derision began to execute a pas seul in the open. Then with a very contemptuous gesture, and shaking his assegai at his white enemies, he sprang into the forest again, laughing loudly. They recognised him as the man who had escaped unhurt.“Well, I’m somethinged!” cried Carhayes. “That nigger has got the laugh of us now.”“He’s a plucky dog,” said another. “If any fellow deserved to escape he did. Four hundred yards and a score of us blazing away at him at once! Well, well!”“I’ve known that sort of thing happen more than once,” said Shelton, the leader of the party, an experienced frontiersman who had served in two previous wars. “Same thing in buck shooting. You’ll see a score of fellows all blazing at the same buck, cutting up the dust all round him till you can hardly see the poor beast, and yet not touching him. That’s because they’re excited, and shooting jealous. Now with one or two cool shots lying up and taking their time, the buck wouldn’t have a ghost of a show—any more than would those two Kafirs have had. But we’d better get on, boys. We’ll off-saddle further ahead, and then our horses will be fresh for whatever may turn up. It’s my opinion there are more of those chaps hanging about.”Chapter Eighteen.The Tables Turned.Eager at the prospect of a brush, their appetites for which had been whetted by what had just occurred, they resumed their way in the best of spirits, and at length fixing upon a suitable spot the party off-saddled for breakfast.“We ought to fall in with a patrol of Brathwaite’s Horse lower down,” remarked a man, stirring the contents of a three-legged cooking-pot with a wooden spoon. “Then we should be strong enough to take the bush for it and pepper Jack Kafir handsomely.”“If we can find him,” rejoined another with a loud guffaw. “Hallo! Who’s this?”A dark form appeared in the hollow beneath. Immediately every man had seized his rifle, and the moment was a perilous one for the new arrival.“Hold hard! Don’t fire!” cried Shelton. “It’s only a single Kafir. Let’s see what the fellow wants.” And lowering their weapons they awaited the approach of a rather sulky looking native, who drew near with a suspicious and apprehensive expression of countenance.“Who are you and where do you come from?” asked Shelton.“From down there, Baas,” replied the fellow, in fair English, jerking his thumb in the direction of a labyrinth of bushy kloofs stretching away beneath. “They have taken all my cattle—the Gcalékas have. I can show you where to find theirs.”The men looked at each other and several shook their heads incredulously.“What are you? Are you a Gcaléka?” asked Shelton.

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“No, Baas. Bomvana. I’m Jonas. I’m a loyal Mission-station boy.”“Oh, the devil you are! Now, then, Jonas, what about these cattle?”Then the native unfolded his tale—how that in the forest land immediately beneath them was concealed a large number of the Gcaléka cattle—a thousand of them at least. There were some men in charge, about sixty, he said, but still the whites might be strong enough to take the lot; only they would have to fight, perhaps.Carefully they questioned him, but from the main details of his story he never swerved. His object, he said, was to be revenged on the Gcalékas, who had billeted themselves in the Bomvana country and were carrying things with a high hand. But Shelton was not quite satisfied.“Look here, Jonas,” he said impressively. “Supposing I were to tell you that this yarn of yours is all a cock-and-bull lie, and that you’ve come here to lead us into a trap? And supposing I were to tell half a dozen men here to shoot you when I count twenty? What then?”All eyes were fixed upon the native’s face, as the leader left off speaking. But not a muscle therein quailed. For a minute he did not reply. Then he shook his head, with a wholly incredulous laugh.“Nay, Baas,” he said. “Baas is joking.”“Well, you must be telling the truth or else you must be the pluckiest nigger in all Kafirland to come here and play the fool with us,” said Shelton. “What do you say, boys? Shall we trust to what this fellow tells us and make a dash for the spoil?”An acclamation of universal assent hailed this proposal. In an incredibly short space of time the horses were saddled, and with the native in their midst the whole party moved down in the direction of the bush.“In here, Baas,” said the guide, piloting them down a narrow path where they were obliged to maintain single file. On either side was a dark, dense jungle, the plumed euphorbia rising high overhead above thebush. The path, rough and widening, seemed to lead down and down— no one knew whither. The guide was not suffered to lead the way, but was kept near the head of the party, those immediately around him being prepared to shoot him dead at the first sign of treachery.“Damned fools we must be to come into a place like this on the bare word of a black fellow,” grunted Carhayes. “I think the cuss means square and above board—but going down here in this picnicking way—it doesn’t seem right somehow.”But they were in for it now, and soon the path opened, and before and beneath them lay a network of kloofs covered with a thick, jungly scrub, here and there a rugged krantz shooting up from the waves of foliage. Not a sound was heard as they filed on in the cloudless stillness of the sunny forenoon. Even the birds were silent in that great lonely valley.“There,” whispered the Bomvana, when they had gone some distance further. “There is the cattle.”He pointed to a long, winding kloof whose entrance was commanded by cliffs on either side. Looking cautiously around, they entered this. Soon they could hear the sound of voices.“By George! We are on them now,” said Shelton in a low tone. “But, keep cool, men—only keep cool!”They passed a large kraal which was quite deserted, but only just, for the smoke still rose from more than one fire, and a couple of dogs were yet skulking around the huts. Eagerly and in silence they pressed forward, and lo—turning an angle of the cliff—there burst upon their view a sight which amply repaid the risk of the enterprise they had embarked upon. For the narrow defile was full of cattle—an immense herd—which were being driven forward as rapidly and as quietly as the two score armed savages in their rear could drive them. Clearly the latter had got wind of their approach.“Allamaghtaag!” exclaimed one of the men, catching sight of themass of animals, which, plunging and crowding over each other, threaded their way through the bush in a dozen separate, but closely packed, columns. “What a take! A thousand at least!”“Ping—ping! Whigge!” The bullets began to sing about their ears, and from the bush around there issued puffs of smoke. The Kafirs who were driving the cattle, seeing that the invaders were so few, dropped down into cover and opened a brisk fire, but too late. Quickly the foremost half of the patrol, reining in, had poured a couple of effective volleys into them, and at least a dozen of their number lay stretched upon the ground, stone dead or writhing in the throes of death; while several more might be seen limping off as well as they could, their only thought now being to save their own lives. The rest melted away into the bush, whence they kept up a tolerably brisk fire, and the bullets and bits of pot-leg began to whistle uncomfortably close.“Now, boys!” cried Shelton. “Half of you come with me—and Carhayes, you take the other half and collect the cattle, but don’t separate more than to that extent.” And in furtherance of this injunction the now divided force rode off as hard as it could go, to head the animals back—stumbling among stones, crashing through bushes or flying over the same—on they dashed, helter-skelter, hardly knowing at times how they kept their saddles.Amid much shouting and whistling the terrified creatures were at last turned. Down the defile they rushed—eyes rolling and horns clashing, trampling to pulp the dead or helpless bodies of some of their former drivers, who had been shot in the earlier stages of the conflict. It was an indescribable scene—the dappled, many-coloured hides flashing in the sun as the immense herd surged furiously down that wild pass. And mingling with the shouting and confusion, and the terrified lowing of the cattle half-frenzied with the sight and smell of blood—the overhanging cliffs echoed back in sharper tones the “crack-crack” of the rifles of the Kaffirs, who, well under cover themselves, kept up a continuous, but luckily ineffective, fire upon the patrol.Suddenly a dark form rose up in front of the horsemen. Springing like a cat the savage made a swift stab at the breast of his intended victim,

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who swerved quickly, but not quickly enough, and the blade of the assegai descended, inflicting an ugly wound in the man’s side. Dropping to the ground again, the daring assailant ducked in time to avoid the revolver bullet aimed at him, and gliding in among the fleeing cattle, escaped before the infuriated frontiersman could get in another shot. So quickly did it all take place that, except the wounded man himself, hardly anybody knew what had happened.“Hurt, Thompson?” sung out Hoste, seeing that the man looked rather pale.“No. Nothin’ to speak of, at least. Time enough to see to it by andby.”As he spoke the horse of another man plunged and then fell heavily forward. The poor beast had been mortally stricken by one of the enemy’s missiles, and would never rise again. The dismounted man ran alongside of a comrade, holding on by the stirrup of the latter.“Why, what’s become of the Bomvana?” suddenly inquired someone.They looked around. There was no sign of their guide. Could he have been playing them false and slipped away in the confusion? Even now the enemy might be lying in wait somewhere in overwhelming force, ready to cut off their retreat.“By Jove! There he is!” cried another man presently. “And—the beggar’s dead!”He was. In the confusion of the attack they had forgotten their guide, who must have fallen into the hands of the enemy, and have been sacrificed to the vengeance of the latter. The body of the unfortunate Bomvana, propped up in a sitting posture against a tree by his slayers in savage mockery, presented a hideous sight. The throat was cut from ear to ear, and the trunk was nearly divided by a terrible gash right across it just below the ribs, while from several assegai stabs the dark arterial blood was still oozing forth.“Faugh!” exclaimed Hoste with a grimace of disgust, while two or three of the younger men of the party turned rather pale as they shudderingly gazed upon the sickening sight. “Poor devil! They’ve made short work of him, anyhow.”“H’m! I don’t wonder at it,” said Shelton. “It must be deuced rough to be sold by one of your own men. Still, if that chap’s story was true he was the aggrieved party. However, let’s get on. We’ve got our work all before us still.”They had. It was no easy matter to drive such an enormous herd through the thick bush. Many of the animals were very wild, besides being thoroughly scared with all the hustling to and fro they had had— and began to branch off from the main body, drawing a goodly number after them. These had to be out-manoeuvred, yet it would never do for the men to straggle, for the Kafirs would hardly let such a prize go without straining every effort to retain it. Certain it was that the savages were following them in the thick bush as near as they dared, keenly watching an opportunity to retrieve—or partially retrieve—the disaster of the day.Cautiously, then, the party retreated with their spoil, seeking a favourable outlet by which they could drive their unwieldy capture into the open country; for on all sides the way out of the valley was steep, broken, and bushy. Suddenly a shout of warning and of consternation went up from a man on the left of the advance. All eyes were turned on him—and from him upon the point to which he signalled.What they saw there was enough to send the blood back to every heart.Chapter Nineteen.The Last Cartridge.This is what they saw.Over the brow of the high ridge, about a mile in their rear, a dark

Wang Zuxian Brigitte Lin after AI restoration is amazingly beautiful

mass was advancing. It was like a disturbed ants’ nest—on they came, those dark forms, swarming over the hill—and the sun glinted on assegai blades and gun-barrels as the savage host poured down the steep slope, glancing from bush to bush, rapidly and in silence.“I’m afraid we shall have to give up the cattle, lads, and fight our way out,” said Shelton, as he took in the full strength of the advancing Kafirs. “Those chaps mean business, and there are too many of them and too few of us.”“We’ll make it hot for ’em, all the same,” said Carhayes, with a scowl. “I have just put two more nicks on my gun-stock—not sure I oughtn’t to have had four or five, but am only certain of two—Hallo! That’s near.”It was. A bullet had swept his hat off, whirling it away a dozen yards. At the same time puffs of smoke began to issue from the hillside, and the twigs of the bushes beyond were sadly cut about as the enemy’s missiles hummed overhead—but always overhead—pretty thickly. At first, the said enemy was rather chary of showing himself, although they could see groups of red figures flitting from bush to bush, and the whigge of bullets and potlegs became more and more unpleasantly near, while from the slope above jets of smoke and flame kept bursting forth at all points.The plan of the whites was to make a running fight of it. While one-half of the patrol drove on the cattle, the other half was to fight on foot, covering their comrades’ retreat, but always keeping near enough to close up, if necessary.“Now, boys—let ’em have it!” cried Shelton, as a strong body of the enemy made a sudden rush upon their left flank to draw their attention, while another party, with a chorus of shouts and deafening whistles, and waving their assegais and karosses, darted in between the cattle and their captors, with the object of separating and driving off the former.A volley was discharged—with deadly effect, as testified by the number who fell, wounded, maimed, or stone dead. The rest rushed on, gliding in among the fleeing cattle—whistling and yelling in a frenzy of excitement.

“Keep cool, boys, and fire low,” cried Carhayes—who was in command of the dismounted party—as a crowd of Kafirs suddenly started up on their rear, and, with assegais uplifted, threatened a determined charge. “Now!”Again there was a roar, as the whole fire was poured into the advancing mass. Even the horses, steady, trained steeds as they were, began to show restiveness, terrified by the continuous crash of firing and the fierce yells of the savages. Then, without pausing to reload, every man discharged his revolver into the very thick of the leaping, ochre-smeared warriors. It was too much. The latter wavered, then dropped into cover.But the respite was only a temporary one. Changing his tactics, the fierce foe no longer attempted an open coup de main, but taking advantage of the bush he pressed the handful of whites who formed the rear guard so hotly as to force them to close up on their comrades, in order to avoid being entirely surrounded and cut off from the latter. But however bad had been their marksmanship earlier in the day, while excited and practising at the two fleeing Kafirs at long range, our frontiersmen were now in a different vein. There was nothing wild about their shooting now. Steady of eye, and cool of brain, they were keenly alive to every opportunity. Directly a Kafir showed his head he was morally certain to receive a ball through it, or so uncomfortably close as to make him feel as if he had escaped by a miracle, and think twice about exposing himself a second time.Meanwhile the cattle were being driven off by the enemy, and indeed matters had become so serious as to render this a mere secondary consideration. From the bush on three sides a continuous fire was kept up, and had the Kafirs been even moderately decent shots not a man of that patrol would have lived to tell the tale; but partly through fear of exposing themselves, partly through fear of their own fire-arms, to the use of which they were completely unaccustomed, the savages made such wild shooting that their missiles flew high overhead. Now and then, however, a shot would take effect. One man received a bullet in the shoulder, another had his bridle hand shattered. Several of the horses were badly wounded, but, as yet, there were no fatalities. The enemy,He saw the gleam of assegai points, the deadly glare of hatred in the sea of rolling eyes closing in upon him. Then a tall warrior, springing like a leopard, struck full at his heart with a large, broad-bladed assegai.It was done like lightning. The flash of the broad blade was in his eyes. The blow, delivered with all the strength of a powerful, muscular arm, descended. A hard, numbing knock on the chest, a sharp, crashing pain in the head—Eustace swayed in his saddle, and toppled heavily to the earth. And again the fierce death-shout pealed forth over the wild veldt, and was taken up and echoed in tones of hellish exultation from end to end of the excited barbarian host.The night has melted into dawn; the dawn into sunrise. The first rays are just beginning to gild the tops of the great krantzes overhanging the Hashi. At the foot of one of these krantzes lies the motionless figure of a man. Dead? No, asleep. Slumbering as if he would never wake again.There is a faint rustle in the thick bush which grows right up to the foot of the krantz—a rustle as of something or somebody forcing a way through—cautiously, stealthily approaching the sleeper. The latter snores on.The bushes part, and a man steps forth. For a moment he stands, noiselessly contemplating the prostrate figure. Then he emits a low, sardonic chuckle.At the sound the sleeper springs up. In a twinkling he draws his revolver, then rubs his eyes, and bursts into a laugh.“Don’t make such a row, man,” warns the new arrival. “The bush may be full of niggers now, hunting for us. We are in a nice sort of a hole, whichever way you look at it.”“Oh, we’ll get out of it somehow,” is Hoste’s sanguine reply. “When we got separated last night, I didn’t know whether we should ever see each other again, George. I suppose there’s no chance for the other two fellows?”

“Not a shadow of a chance. Both wiped out.”“H’m! Poor chaps,” says Hoste seriously. “As for ourselves, here we are, stranded without even a horse between us; right at the wrong end of the country; hostile niggers all over the shop, and all our fellows gone home. Bright look out, isn’t it!”“We are two fools,” answers Payne sententiously.Chapter Twenty Four.A Dark Rumour in Komgha.There was rejoicing in many households when it became known in Komgha that the Kaffrarian Rangers had been ordered home, but in none was it greater than in that run conjointly by Mrs Hoste and her family and Eanswyth Carhayes.The satisfaction of the former took a characteristically exuberant form. The good soul was loud in her expressions of delight. She never wearied of talking over the doughty deeds of that useful corps; in fact, to listen to her it might have been supposed that the whole success of the campaign, nay the very safety of the Colony itself, had been secured by the unparalleled gallantry of the said Rangers in general and of the absent Hoste in particular. That the latter had only effected his temporary emancipation from domestic thrall in favour of the “tented field” through a happy combination of resolution and stratagem, she seemed quite to have forgotten. He was a sort of hero now.Eanswyth, for her part, received the news quietly enough, as was her wont. Outwardly, that is. Inwardly she was silently, thankfully happy. The campaign was over—he was safe. In a few days he would be with her again—safe. A glow of radiant gladness took possession of her heart. It showed itself in her face—her eyes—even in her voice. It did not escape several of their neighbours and daily visitors, who would remark among themselves what a lucky fellow Tom Carhayes was; at the same time wondering what there could be in such a rough, self-assertivespecimen of humanity to call forth such an intensity of love in so refined and beautiful a creature as that sweet wife of his—setting it down to two unlikes being the best mated. It did not escape Mrs Hoste, who, in pursuance of her former instinct, was disposed to attribute it to its real cause. But exuberant as the latter was in matters non-important, there was an under-vein of caution running through her disposition, and like a wise woman she held her tongue, even to her neighbours and intimates.Eanswyth had suffered during those weeks—had suffered terribly. She had tried to school herself to calmness—to the philosophy of the situation. Others had returned safe and sound, why not he? Why, there were men living around her, old settlers, who had served through three former wars—campaigns lasting for years, not for months or weeks— their arms, too, consisting of muzzle-loading weapons, against an enemy more daring and warlike than the Kafirs of to-day. These had come through safe and sound, why not he?Thus philosophising, she had striven not to think too much—to hope for the best. But there was little enough in that border settlement to divert her thoughts from the one great subject—apart from the fact that that one subject was on everybody’s tongue, in everybody’s thoughts. She had found an interest in the two young girls, in reading with them and generally helping to improve their minds, and they, being bright, well-dispositioned children, had appreciated the process; had responded warmly to her efforts. But in the silent night, restless and wakeful, all sorts of grisly pictures would rise before her imagination, or she would start from frightful dreams of blood-stained assegais and hideous hordes of ochre-painted barbarians sweeping round a mere handful of doomed whites standing back to back prepared to sell their lives dearly.Every scrap of news from the seat of war she had caught at eagerly. She had shuddered and thrilled over the account of the battle with Shelton’s patrol and its stirring and victorious termination. Every movement of the Kaffrarian Rangers was known to her as soon as it became public property, and sometimes before; for there were some in an official position who were not averse to stretching a point to obtain such a smile of welcome as would come into the beautiful face of Mrs Carhayes, if they confidentially hinted to her a piece of intelligence just

come in from the front and not yet made known to the general public. She had even tried to establish a kind of private intelligence department of her own among some of the Kafirs who hung around the settlement, but these were so contradictory in their statements, and moreover she began to suspect that the rascals were not above drawing pretty freely upon their imaginations for the sake of the sixpences, or cast-off clothes, or packets of coffee and sugar, with which their efforts were invariably rewarded. So this she discontinued, or at any rate ceased to place any reliance on their stories.She had heard from her husband once or twice, a mere rough scrawl of half a dozen lines, and those chiefly devoted to explaining that camp life—made up as it was of patrols and horse guards and hunting up the enemy—left no time for any such trivial occupations as mere letter-writing. She had heard from Eustace oftener, letters of great length, entertaining withal, but such as all the world might read. But this in no wise troubled her now, for she understood. Eustace was far too cautious to intrust anything that the world might not read to so uncertain a means of transit as was then at his disposal. Express-riders might be cut off by the enemy in the course of their precarious and sometimes extremely perilous mission; occasionally were cut off.A few days now and she would see him again, would hear his voice, would live in the delight of his presence daily as before. Ah, but—how was it to end? The old thought, put far away into the background during the dull heartache of their separation, came to the fore now. They would go back to their home, to Anta’s Kloof, and things would be as before. Ah, but would they? There lay the sting. Never—a thousand times never. Things could never be as they were. For now that her love for the one had been awakened, what had she left for the other? Not even the kindly toleration of companionship which she had up till then mistaken for love. A sentiment perilously akin to aversion had now taken the place of this. Alas and alas! How was it to end?The return of the Kaffrarian Rangers became a matter of daily expectation. Preparations were made for their reception, including a banquet on a large scale. Still they came not.Then an ugly report got wind in Komgha—whispered at first. A disaster had befallen. Several men belonging to the expected corps had been killed. They had constituted a patrol, report said—then a shooting party straying from the main body. Anyway, they had been cut off by the enemy and massacred to a man. It was only the Moordenaar’s Kop affair over again, people said.Later the rumour began to boil down a little. Only four men had come to grief as reported. They had left the main body to get up a bushbuck hunt on the banks of the Bashi. They must have crossed the river for some reason or other, probably in pursuance of their hunt; anyhow, they were surprised by the Kafirs and killed. And the missing men were Hoste, Payne, Carhayes, and Eustace Milne.The rumour spread like wildfire. The excitement became prodigious. Men stood in eager knots at the street corners, at the bars, everywhere, each trying to appear as if he knew more about it than his fellows; each claiming to be a greater authority upon the probabilities or improbabilities of the case than all the rest put together. But all were agreed on one point —that the errand of breaking the news to those most concerned was the duty of anybody but themselves. And three of the unfortunate men were married; two of their wives—now widows, alas—being actually resident in the place, within a stone’s throw, in fact. It was further agreed that, by whoever eventually performed, the longer this duty could be deferred the better. Further information might arrive any moment. It would be as well to wait.For once, public opinion was sound in its judgment. Further information did arrive, this time authentic, and it had the effect of boiling down rumour considerably—in fact, by one-half. The four men had set out and crossed the Bashi into the Bomvana country, as at first stated. They had been attacked by the Kafirs in overwhelming numbers, and after a terrible running fight Hoste and Payne had escaped. Their horses had been mortally wounded and themselves forced to lie hidden among the thick bush and krantzes along the Bashi River for two nights and a day, when they were found in a half-starved condition by a strong patrol of the Rangers, which had turned back to search for them. The other two men were missing, and from the report of the survivors no hope could be


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