Unsolved economic problems in Japan add new worries (Economic Perspective)

发表于 2023-09-30 15:47:39 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

to the speaker. But a glance was enough to reassure him. The chief advanced toward him, holding nothing more formidable than a folded handkerchief.To the ordeal of being blindfolded Eustace submitted without a word. He recognised its force. They were nearing their destination. Even a captive, probably foredoomed to death, was not to be allowed to take mental notes of the approaches to the present retreat of the Paramount Chief. Besides, by insuring such ignorance, they would render any chance of his possible escape the more futile. But as he walked, steered by one of his escort, who kept a hand on his shoulder, he concentrated every faculty, short of the sight of which he was temporarily deprived, upon observations relating to the lay of the ground. One thing he knew. Wherever they might be they were at no great distance from the sea coast. That was something.Suddenly a diversion occurred. A long, loud, peculiar cry sounded from some distance in front. It was a signal. As it was answered by the returning warriors, once more the wild war-song was raised, and being taken up all along the line, the forest echoed with the thunderous roar of the savage strophe, and the clash of weapons beating time to the weird and thrilling chant. For some minutes thus they marched; then by the sound Eustace knew that his escort was forming up in martial array around him; knew moreover, from this circumstance, that the forest had come to an end. Then the bandage was suddenly removed from his eyes.The abrupt transition from darkness to light was bewildering. But he made out that he was standing in front of a hut, which his captors were ordering him to enter. In the momentary glance which he could obtain he saw that other huts were standing around, and beyond the crowd of armed men which encompassed him he could descry the faces of women and children gazing at him with mingled curiosity and wonder. Then, stooping, he crept through the low doorway. Two of his guards entered with him, and to his unspeakable gratification their first act was to relieve him of the reim which secured his arms. This done, a woman appeared bearing a calabash of curdled milk and a little reed basket of stamped mealies.

Every eye was bent upon the spot, eager and expectant. But nothing moved. Then the leader took a careful aim and fired. The clods flew from the sod-wall, heavy and sticky with the recent rain, as the bullet knocked a great hole in it. Simultaneously two naked Kafirs sprang up and made for the bush as hard as they could run.Bang—bang! Bang—bang—bang! A rattling volley greeted their appearance. But still unscathed they ran like bucks; bounding and leaping to render themselves more difficult as marks.Bang—bang! Ping—ping! The bullets showered around the fleeing savages, throwing up the earth in clods. Each carried a gun and had a powder horn and ammunition pouch slung round him, besides a bundle of assegais, and one, as he ran, turned his head to look at his enemies. Full three hundred yards had they to cover under the fire of a score of good marksmen. But these were excited.“Steady, men! No good throwing away ammunition!” cried Shelton, the leader. “Better let ’em go.”But he might as well have spoken to the wind. As long as those naked, bounding forms were in sight so long would the more eager spirits of the party empty their rifles at them. Not all, however. Eustace Milne had made no attempt to fire a shot. He was not there, as he said afterwards, to practise at a couple of poor devils running away. Others, somewhat of the same opinion, confined themselves to looking on. But to a large section there present no such fastidious notions commended themselves. The secret of war, they held, was to inflict as much damage upon the enemy as possible, and under whatever circumstances. So they tried all they knew to act upon their logic.“Whoop! Hurrah! They’re down!” shouted some one, as the fugitives suddenly disappeared.“Nay what!” said a tall Dutchman, shaking his head. “They are only sneaking,” and as he spoke the Kafirs reappeared some fifty yards further, but were out of sight again in a second. They were taking advantage of a sluit or furrow—crawling like serpents along in thisprecarious shelter.“Stay where you are—stay where you are,” cried Shelton in a tone of authority, as some of the men made a movement to mount their horses and dash forward in pursuit. “Just as like as not to be a trap. How many more do we know are not ‘voer-ly-ing’ (Dutch: ‘Lying in wait’) in the bush yonder. The whole thing may be a plant.”The sound wisdom of this order availed to check the more eager spirits. They still held their pieces in readiness for the next opportunity.“Hoste—Eustace—watch that point where the pumpkin patch ends. They’ll have a clear run of at least a hundred yards there,” said Carhayes, who was sitting on an ant-heap a little apart from the rest, every now and then taking a shot as he saw his chance.“It’s a devil of a distance,” growled Hoste. “Six hundred yards if it’s an inch—Ah!”For the Kafirs sprang up just where Carhayes had foretold, and again, with a crash, many rifles were emptied at them. Fifty—thirty— twenty yards more and they will be safe. Suddenly one of them falls.“He’s down—fairly down!” yelled someone. “A long shot, too. Oh-h-h! He’s only winged! Look! He’s up again?”It was so. The fallen man was literally hopping on one leg, with the other tucked up under him. In a moment both Kafirs had reached the cover and disappeared.“Well, I never!” cried Hoste; “Heaven knows how many shots we’ve thrown away upon those devils and now they’ve given us the slip after all.”“Anyone would take us for a pack of bloomin’ sojers. Can’t hit a nigger in a dozen shots apiece. Pooh!” growled a burly frontiersman, in tones of ineffable disgust, as he blew into the still smoking breech of his rifle. “Eh, what’s that?” he continued as all eyes were bent on the spot where the fugitives had disappeared.

Unsolved economic problems in Japan add new worries (Economic Perspective)

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.“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 the

Unsolved economic problems in Japan add new worries (Economic Perspective)

bush. 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,

Unsolved economic problems in Japan add new worries (Economic Perspective)

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 darkhad crawled up behind him, and had stabbed him between the shoulders with a broad-bladed assegai—right through to the heart. A deep vengeful curse went up from his comrades, and they looked wildly around for an object on which to exact retribution. In vain. The wily foe was not going to show himself.But the incident threw a new light upon the state of affairs, and a very lurid one it was. Several had run out of ammunition, but had refrained from saying so lest the fact, becoming known, should discourage the others. Now it was of no use disguising matters further. There were barely fifty rounds left among the whole patrol—that is to say, something less than a round and a half per man. And they were still hemmed in by hundreds of the enemy, closely hemmed in, too, as the recent fatality proved, and it still wanted a good many hours till dark. Small wonder that a very gloomy expression rested upon almost every countenance. The position was almost as bad as it could possibly be.Chapter Twenty.The Tables Turned Again.Suddenly a tremendous volley crashed forth from the hillside on their left front, followed immediately by another on the right. For a moment the men looked at each other in silence, and the expression of gloomy determination hitherto depicted on their countenances gave way to one of animated and half-incredulous relief.For no sound of hostile volley was that. No. Help was at hand. Already they could see the Kafirs gliding from bush to bush in groups, hastening to make good their retreat, thoroughly disconcerted by this new and disastrous surprise.“Whoop!—Hooray! Yoicks forward!” shouted the beleaguered combatants, each man giving his particular form of cheer, varying from savage war-cry to view halloo. They were wild with excitement, not only by reason of their unlooked for deliverance from almost certain massacre, but also on account of being in a position to turn the tables

upon their skulking foe.Then came the crack—crack—crack—of the rifles of the new arrivals, who advanced rapidly, yet not entirely without caution, through the bush, picking off the retreating Kafirs as these showed themselves in fleeing from cover to cover. And above the crackle of the dropping shots rang out the wild notes of a bugle, villainously played. A roar of laughter went up from our friends.“Brathwaite’s Horse for a fiver!” cried Hoste. “That’s Jack Armitage’s post-horn. I know its infamous old bray—And—there’s Brathwaite himself.”“Any of you fellows hurt?” sung out the latter, a fine, stalwart frontiersman, who, with several of his men, rode down upon the group. The remainder were spread out in skirmishing line on either side, the irregular rattle of their fire showing that they were still busy peppering the enemy in sight.“One man killed,” answered Shelton. “It’s Parr, poor chap.”“So? Well, fall in with us and come on. We haven’t done with Jack Kafir yet.”“Can’t. We’re all but cleaned out of ammunition.”“So?” said Brathwaite again. “We’ve turned up none too soon then. Fortunately we’ve got plenty.”A hurried levy was made upon the cartridge belts of the new arrivals, and thus reinforced in every sense of the word, the Kaffrarian men, keen to avenge their comrade and retrieve their position, fell in with their rescuers, and the whole force moved rapidly forward in pursuit of the enemy.But the latter had hastened to make himself scarce. With characteristic celerity, the wily savages seemed to have melted into earth or air. If thirty-five whites—a mere handful—had given them about as much fighting as they could stomach, they were not going to standagainst that handful multiplied by three.“There they go!” suddenly shouted someone, pointing to the almost bare brow of a hill about half a mile away, over which a number of Kafirs were swarming in full retreat. A tremendous fusillade was opened upon this point, but with slight effect. The distance was too great.“We must get the cattle,” cried Brathwaite, Shelton having hurriedly given him the particulars. “And we must race for them, too, for they’ll have got a good start. They are sure to take them right away to that big bit of forest which runs down to the coast. Once there they are safe as far as we are concerned. I know this strip of country.”Armitage, the man who owned the bugle, and who was known to most there present either personally or by name, as a licenced wag and an incorrigible practical joker, was instructed to blow a call of assembly. This he did, in hideous and discordant fashion, and the men collected. Briefly Brathwaite explained the situation.“Beyond this first rise there’s another,” he said. “Beyond, that there’s five miles of open veldt; then the strip of forest I was mentioning. If we don’t get the cattle in the open we shan’t get them at all. Forward!”No second command was needed. The whole force pressed eagerly forward. At length, after a toilsome ride, during which not an enemy was seen, except here and there the body of a dead one lying in a pool of blood, they crested the brow of the second ridge. A great shout arose.“There they are! Now then, boys—cut ’em out!”Away in front, about five miles distant, lay a long, dark line of forest. Half-way between this and themselves an immense herd of cattle was streaming across the veldt. The drivers, about two score in number, were at first seen to redouble their efforts to urge on the animals. Then, at sight of the white horsemen bearing down upon them with a wild cheer, they incontinently abandoned their charge and fled for dear life.“Never mind the niggers,” sang out Brathwaite, as one or two of his

men tried to rein in for a snap shot at the flying Kafirs. “Never mind them. Head the cattle round for all you know. If once they get into the bush we may lose any number of them.” And spurring into a gallop he circled round before the excited herd, followed by his whole troop. The foremost beasts stopped short, throwing up their heads with many a snort and bellow of bewilderment and terror, while the bulk of the herd pressed on. For some minutes the clashing of horns and frenzied bellowing, the clouds of dust, and the excited shouts of the horsemen made up an indescribable scene of din and confusion. Many of the animals, rolled on the ground by the plunging, swaying mass, were trampled or gored to death by their bewildered companions. At last the tumultuous excitement began to subside, and the animals, with heaving flanks and rolling eyes, stood huddled together as if awaiting the pleasure of their new drivers.“Steady! Don’t rush them,” shouted Brathwaite. “Head them away quietly for the open for all you know, and don’t let them break through.”More than one comical scene was enacted as the line of horsemen, extended so as to gradually work the herd away from the bush, drove their charge forward. Now and then a cow, with a calf at her side, or haply missing her progeny, would turn and furiously charge the line of horsemen, causing an abrupt scatter, and in one or two instances the utter and ignominious flight of the doughty warrior singled out, who perchance was only too thankful to lay her out with a revolver shot in the nick of time to save himself and his steed, or both, from being ripped up or impaled by those vicious horns. But the best fun of all was afforded by a huge old black-and-white bull.Jack Armitage, we have said, was bursting with animal spirits; consequently when the aforesaid quadruped took it into his massive cranium to suddenly break away from the herd and start off on his own account at right angles thereto, it followed, as a matter of course, that Armitage, being nearest to him, should spur away in pursuit. The bull’s vicious little eyes began to roll wickedly, and from a trot he broke into a wild gallop. Then madcap Jack, madder than ever with the excitement of the day’s events, was seen to range his horse alongside, and bending over in the saddle and placing his bugle almost against the animal’s ear he blew a hideous and terrific blast. There was a ferocious bellow—downwent the brute’s head, and, lo, in a twinkling horse and man were rolling on the ground, and the bull galloped away unimpeded.Roars of laughter arose from the discomfited one’s comrades, which did not decrease as they watched the savage brute in the distance charging one of the retreating Kafirs, who seemed almost as much disconcerted by this new enemy as he had been by the missiles of his human foes. Finally both disappeared within the bush.“Hurt, old man?” cried Hoste, riding up as the fallen one found his feet again, and stood rubbing his shoulder and looking rather dazed with the shock. The horse had already struggled up. Fortunately for it, the bull’s horns were short and blunt, and it seemed none the worse for the tumble.“No. Had a devil of a shake-up, though. A bottle of doctor’s stuff’s a fool to it.”“Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast—sings the poet. In this case it hadn’t,” said Eustace. “Those ancients must have been awful liars. Eh, Armitage?”“You bet. Hallo! Where’s my old post-horn?” he went on, looking round for his instrument, which he discovered about a dozen yards off, unharmed, save for a slight dent. Putting it to his lips he blew a frightful fanfare.“I say, Jack, you’ll have the old bull back again,” said Brathwaite. “Better shut up. He’s dead nuts on that old trumpet of yours. And now, the farther we get into the open, the better. We mustn’t camp anywhere that’ll give Johnny Kafir a chance of cutting out the cattle again.”“We’ve done a good day’s work, anyhow,” said Shelton. “This isn’t half a bad haul—and it’s fairly decent stock for Kafir stock.”“Kafir stock be damned!” growled Carhayes. “Whatever is decent among it is stolen stock, you bet. Not much sleep for any of us to-night, boys. We shall mostly all have to keep our eyes skinned, if we are to take


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