Adventures of a Young Naturalist Part 51

Adventures of a Young Naturalist -

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Our emotion scarcely allowed us to answer; the Indian sprang from his horse, and, running towards the child, pressed him to his heart, and then, stretching out his arms, fell senseless to the ground. I rushed towards him and opened his gourd--it was full! With the help of Sumichrast I poured a few drops of brandy between his teeth. He gradually regained his senses, and looked at us in surprise. He was exhausted from hunger and fatigue.

"If I had eaten or drunk," he said, simply, "I should have wanted to go to sleep, and then what would have become of you? But my hunger and thirst spurred me on, so that I have not lost a moment."

"My good fellow!" I answered, "you ought to have taken something to restore your strength; for if it had failed, what would have become of us?"

L'Encuerado did not hear me; he had just fallen into a deep sleep, and we soon followed his example. When we awoke, l'Encuerado mounted the steed he had brought, and, taking Lucien up in front, led us back to the baggage.

"Why did you start without letting us know?" asked Sumichrast.

[Ill.u.s.tration: "We had to cross some muddy marshes."]

"Because you would have prevented me from following out my plan. I was convinced there were woods and flocks not far ahead of us, and as I feared not the sun for myself, I started as soon as you were all fast asleep, having fortified myself for the journey with a drop of the cognac. I often longed, as I proceeded, to lie down and rest, but then I thought of Chanito, and ran on faster than ever. Without knowing why, I stumbled, and I think I must have fallen asleep. When I opened my eyes the sun was set, and Gringalet was licking me with his tongue. I got up, stupefied as I was, and ran forward, without halting, to the verge of a wood. I dashed in among the trees, and in less than a quarter of an hour I came upon a great lake, and horses and buffaloes running wild. My strength, however, began to fail, and it took me more than four hours to catch this mustang," continued the Indian, looking down on his steed, "but I soon made him know his master was on his back."

Having returned to our bivouac to recover our treasures, we resolved to start immediately, as the sky was obscured by clouds.

Next day l'Encuerado set to work to provide us all with horses. Having prepared a, the agile Indian darted off at full gallop towards a drove which were grazing some distance off; and by night had captured five of their number. Two days, however, were spent in breaking our mounts and rendering them docile; but as our stores were visibly diminis.h.i.+ng, and we were considerably freshened up, it became highly necessary for us to start.

Next morning our little cavalcade crossed the plains and woods almost at a gallop. The blue mountains in front looked higher and higher, and the outlines of the volcano grew more defined.

The second day of our march we had to cross some muddy marshes, in which our horses mired up to their bellies. On reaching firm ground again, we hoped to perceive a human dwelling, but the trees restricted our view.

At last, in the afternoon of the third day, just as we were endeavoring to go round two wild bulls engaged in a combat, a horseman came out in front of us, halted for a moment as if in indecision, and then turned short round and rode off, after having fired his gun at us.

We hurried on our horses, making sure of soon coming upon a _hacienda_, when we heard another gunshot, and a bullet whistled by our ears. The Indian rode swiftly towards the would-be murderer, but he went off at full gallop. In spite of my cries, the Indian fired at him, and horse and man rolled upon the ground.


The fool had mistaken us for horse-stealers; and the Indian, after soundly thras.h.i.+ng him, at my entreaty let him off.

When night came, we were at the foot of the mountains; so all we had to do was to join the main road from Vera Cruz to Mexico. Our horses were now set at liberty, after having been overwhelmed with compliments and polite speeches by l'Encuerado. The brave animals at first appeared undecided which way to go, and remained without moving, keeping their noses to the wind. At last one of them neighed and darted off, when the rest followed at the top of their speed.

We were now scarcely twelve leagues from Orizava, and almost painfully impatient to reach it. Woods, mountains, valleys were crossed with a kind of feverish haste, and the approach of night alone forced us to bivouac.

At about three o'clock in the morning, Lucien began to reproach us for our laziness.

Wood-cutters now pa.s.sed, who saluted me by name, and one guided us for more than a league, astonished at l'Encuerado's tales. He left us at the foot of a mountain, the last we had to cross, the steep acclivity of which somewhat damped our ardor.

Lucien was the first to arrive on the plateau. A few steps farther, and the town of Orizava lay stretched in peaceful repose at our feet.

As the young traveller contemplated the town in which was his home, involuntary tears moistened his cheeks; he stretched out his arms towards it and sobbed.

All of us, however, shared his emotion to some extent. Now that we were safe, we rejoiced that I had undertaken this expedition. I thanked G.o.d for His manifest protection, and, for the last time, gave the word to start.

As we descended the mountain, the town became more distinctly visible.

L'Encuerado could name the churches and streets; at last Lucien discovered his home, which was easily recognizable by the magnificent orange-tree. In order to satisfy the boy's impatience, we made our way through a steep ravine. Our little party reached the valley just as the bells were ringing for vesper prayers.

The sun was setting, and we were wrapped in obscurity; Indians kept crossing our path at every step, and the lamps were here and there s.h.i.+ning out through the dark. The Rio Bianco barred our pa.s.sage; but large stones, placed at intervals in the river, enabled us to cross it almost dry-shod. Then Gringalet suddenly barked, and darted off like an arrow.

Twenty minutes after, we entered Orizava by some of the side streets, to prevent a crowd following at our heels. When we were about fifty paces from our house, Lucien and l'Encuerado darted off at a racing pace; they found all the inmates of our home a.s.sembled on the threshold. Gringalet had announced our arrival.

When I entered the court-yard, Lucien and his mother were sobbing in one another's arms; Emile, Hortense, and Amelie were grouped round the basket, on which Janet and Verdet were sitting. I noticed, standing in a corner, the cases which had been intrusted to Torribio.

L'Encuerado came and leaned against the door of the room, twisting the broad brim of his hat quite out of shape.

"If it had not been for him," I said to my wife, "we should have died!"

The brave Indian stooped and kissed the hands of his mistress.

My children, who had gone out for a few minutes, now burst into the room; they had ransacked the basket, and were disputing for poor Rougette, who was placed in the fountain in the garden. Janet and Verdet, perched on the back of a chair, stammered the names of Hortense and Emile, as well as could be hoped. The two children became pale with pleasure and surprise.

Just at this moment, Master Job, introduced by Gringalet, came and sat down on the carpet, and allowed the children to caress him.

It was delightful to sit down to table surrounded by all the beings dearest to my heart. L'Encuerado kept praising Lucien, who continued exciting his mother's emotion by relating to her the incidents of our journey.

"I am sure, mamma, that you will let me go with papa another time," said Lucien. "Our collection is not finished yet, and it must be completed sooner or later."

The young naturalist might be recognized in this question, for the collector is ever insatiable.

His poor mother shook her head, and embraced her boy without replying.

But her silence seemed to show that she would not willingly expose her son to the perils of a fresh journey.

[Ill.u.s.tration: Finis]

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Adventures of a Young Naturalist Part 51 summary

You're reading Adventures of a Young Naturalist. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Lucien Biart. Already has 923 views.

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