Do I know why Tom Donahue is called "Lucky Tom"? Yes, I do; and that
more than ...
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Stories by English Authors: Africa

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Do I know why Tom Donahue is called "Lucky Tom"? Yes, I do; and that
more than one in ten of those who call him so can say. I have knocked
about a deal in my time, and seen some strange sights, but none
than the way in which Tom gained that sobriquet, and his fortune with
it. For I was with him at the time. Tell it? Oh, certainly; but it is
longish story and a very strange one; so fill up your glass again, and
light another cigar, while I try to reel it off. Yes, a very strange
one; beats some fairy stories I have heard; but it's true, sir, every
word of it. There are men alive at Cape Colony now who'll remember it
and confirm what I say. Many a time has the tale been told round the
fire in Boers' cabins from Orange state to Griqualand; yes, and out in
the bush and at the diamond-fields too.
I'm roughish now, sir; but I was entered at the Middle Temple once,
studied for the bar. Tom--worse luck!--was one of my fellow-students;
and a wildish time we had of it, until at last our finances ran short,
and we were compelled to give up our so-called studies, and look about
for some part of the world where two young fellows with strong arms
Page 1
Stories by English Authors Africa
sound constitutions might make their mark. In those days the tide of
emigration had scarcely begun to set in toward Africa, and so we
our best chance would be down at Cape Colony. Well,--to make a long
story short,--we set sail, and were deposited in Cape Town with less
than five pounds in our pockets; and there we parted. We each tried
hands at many things, and had ups and downs; but when, at the end of
three years, chance led each of us up-country and we met again, we
I regret to say, in almost as bad a plight as when we started.
Well, this was not much of a commencement; and very disheartened we
were, so disheartened that Tom spoke of going back to England and
getting a clerkship. For you see we didn't know that we had played out
all our small cards, and that the trumps were going to turn up. No; we
thought our "hands" were bad all through. It was a very lonely part of
the country that we were in, inhabited by a few scattered farms, whose
houses were stockaded and fenced in to defend them against the
Tom Donahue and I had a little hut right out in the bush; but we were
known to possess nothing, and to be handy with our revolvers, so we
had little to fear. There we waited, doing odd jobs, and hoping that
something would turn up. Well, after we had been there about a month
something did turn up upon a certain night, something which was the
making of both of us; and it's about that night, sir, that I'm going
tell you. I remember it well. The wind was howling past our cabin, and
the rain threatened to burst in our rude window. We had a great wood
fire crackling and sputtering on the hearth, by which I was sitting
mending a whip, while Tom was lying in his bunk groaning
at the chance which had led him to such a place.
"Cheer up, Tom--cheer up," said I. "No man ever knows what may be
awaiting him."
"Ill luck, ill luck, Jack," he answered. "I always was an unlucky dog.
Here have I been three years in this abominable country; and I see
fresh from England jingling the money in their pockets, while I am as
poor as when I landed. Ah, Jack, if you want to keep your head above
water, old friend, you must try your fortune away from me."
"Nonsense, Tom; you're down in your luck to-night. But hark! Here's
one coming outside. Dick Wharton, by the tread; he'll rouse you, if
man can."
Even as I spoke the door was flung open, and honest Dick Wharton, with
the water pouring from him, stepped in, his hearty red face looming
Page 2
Stories by English Authors Africa
through the haze like a harvest-moon. He shook himself, and after
greeting us sat down by the fire to warm himself.
"Where away, Dick, on such a night as this?" said I. "You'll find the
rheumatism a worse foe than the Kaffirs, unless you keep more regular
Dick was looking unusually serious, almost frightened, one would say,
if one did not know the man. "Had to go," he replied--"had to go. One
of Madison's cattle was seen straying down Sasassa Valley, and of
none of our blacks would go down _that_ valley at night; and if we had
waited till morning, the brute would have been in Kaffirland."
"Why wouldn't they go down Sasassa Valley at night?" asked Tom.
"Kaffirs, I suppose," said I.
"Ghosts," said Dick.
We both laughed.
"I suppose they didn't give such a matter-of-fact fellow as you a
sight of their ...
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940014487238
  • Publisher: All classic book warehouse
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 123
  • File size: 348 KB

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