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I know not whether Nature intended me
for a traveller, but Fortune has sent me
wandering to and fro upon the earth; of all
her behests, I think that was the most
unconscionable, which despatched me in a
bullock-wagon from the Cape colony to Natal.

What a journey it proved! And to complete
its difficulties, my sister and her little
girl accompanied me, or rather, I accompanied
them, for it was on their account that the
journey was undertaken. My sister's husband
having been appointed Kafir Agent at
Natal, she was anxious to join him there,
and, like all Cape residents, preferring a
wagon to a ship, she undertook the journey
by land, appointing me escort.

It was my first essay in wagon travelling,
and I felt somewhat embarrassed as I
stumbled into my place in the huge unwieldy
vehicle, in the rear of fourteen brick-red
oxen, with a cow of the same martial
complexion hovering along the ranks. The driver
cracked his long whip, the leader shouted,
and off we started to a tune of jolts, to which
our unspringed conveyance continued to treat
us with innumerable variations, according
to the capabilities of the ground.

But it bore us safely on, over roads such as I
had never even imagined, across wild tracts of
country, through dark wooded valleys where
we scarce could force our way, and up steep
rocky defiles, aglow with the crimson and
amber blossoms of the aloe. When night came,
the wagon was our houseat least it afforded
a comfortable shelter to my sister and her
child, and a nook for her little Africander
maid; while the Hottentots slept beneath it,
and the oxen were tethered, like a body-guard,
around it. I was ensconced by myself in a
little tent beside the fire. My sister said my
quarters were the best of any, but I greatly
doubt it, for more than once I found a snake
coiled up beneath my pillow, or a centipede
stretched beside me; the red ants, too,
paid me domiciliary visits; and if it rained,
a gully was sure to take the direction of my
bed and flood it. Yet, in spite of these
disagreeables, I soon began to enjoy the journey;
the air was so clear, the country so varied
and beautiful, and our mode of travelling
gave us so much leisure to admire it, and to
profit by the rare botanical treasures which
surrounded us.

As we went on, the few farmhouses we had
at first passed, disappeared and the country
became lovelier and wilder. The silence, too,
of those vast solitudes grew almost oppressive,
and we all spoke gently, as though we
feared to break it, save our merry little
Birdie; her joyous laughter, and sweet childish
songs, rang through the arches of the dim
old woods.

For some four weeks we continued our
journey under the guidance of Hans, our
little Hottentot baboon-faced driver, and I
often marvelled at the facility with which he
pursued his way unerringly over vast trackless
flats, through whole labyrinths of kloofs,
and between ever-recurring chains of
mountains. But, in the fifth week I fancied there
was an uncertainty in his movements, and
before the conclusion of that week he admitted
that he had somehow lost the clue, and did
not know where we were.

This was indeed bad news, especially to
one so ignorant as I was how to better it;
and though reproach was useless, I could not
help reproaching Hans for having brought us
into such a dilemma. But I was speedily
interrupted by my sister bursting into a
passion of tears at the alarming thought of
being lost in the wide wilderness; while
Birdie's tears and cries, that she should never
more see her dear papa, added to her mother's
distress. I tried to comfort them by the
assurance that we would soon find our way
out; but what I said mattered little, for the
noisy grief of the Africander girlwho had
left none behind, and had none to go to
completely overpowered my eloquence, and
her mistress was compelled to calm herself to
soothe her.

The remainder of the day was passed, as
might be expected, in great despondency.
Poor Hans was overwhelmed with distress,
and sat miserably crouching by the fire, with
tears rolling over his cheeks, and unheeding
the schemes we were endeavouring to devise
for our extrication. At length Jan, the leader,
who had once before travelled to Natal,
suggested that by following the north-east
direction, to which he pointed, we might be able to
recover the road, or if not, might meet Kafirs
who could direct us. This plan was too great