On the Pampas by G. A. Henty
Chapter XVIII. And Last.
With this memorable conflict, and the lesson taught to the Indians, that even in the heart of their own country they could not consider themselves secure from retaliations and from the vengeance of the white settlers, the Indian troubles of the Hardys were over. Occasionally, indeed, raids were made upon the outlying settlements, and the young Hardys were summoned to beat off their savage foes. Upon the estate of Mount Pleasant, however, hostile foot was not again placed. Occasionally the Raven, with two or three of his braves, would pay a visit for a day or two, and depart with presents of blankets, and such things as his tribe needed. Upon the first of these visits Hubert questioned him respecting the bird whose remarkable feather had been the means of saving Ethel's life. At his next visit the chief brought two very perfect skins of the bird. It turned out, to Hubert's great delight, to be a new species; and one of them is now, with many other hitherto 'unknown birds which had fallen to his gun, in the British Museum, with the specific names of Hardiensis, in compliment to their discoverer. The Raven's tribe honorably performed their agreement with Mr. Hardy, and never joined in any subsequent attacks upon the whites. Being much weakened by the loss of so many of their fighting men, they would probably have been exterminated by hostile tribes; but Mr. Hardy subsequently furnished them with a supply of military muskets, which he had bought chiefly for the purpose, together with ammunition, and they were then able to oppose a resolute front to their enemies, and to support themselves by hunting. The Raven is now one of the most powerful and respected chiefs upon the plains of the pampas.
The return of the expedition, after the rescue of Ethel and the chastisement of the Indians in the heart of their own country, caused quite a sensation throughout the Republic. Of Mrs. Hardy's and Maud's joy we need not speak, but the adventure was considered a matter of congratulation and joy throughout the whole district. It was felt that a signal blow had been struck to the Indians, and that for a long time life and property would be secure. There was, in consequence, quite a rush to the neighborhood and land was taken up and occupied in all directions.
It was well for Mrs. Hardy and the girls that they were to sail by the next mail for England. The effect of those terrible four days upon Ethel, and of that week of anxiety upon her mother and sister, had so shaken them that the change, even if it had not been previously determined upon, would have been imperatively necessary. It is not too much to say that Mrs. Hardy and Maud had suffered even more than Ethel. She at least had known and seen her danger, and was sustained, except during that morning when she was fastened to the stake, with a strong hope and belief of rescue. Those left behind could do nothing but picture up scenes of horror, and pass their time in alternately praying and weeping. They were all sadly shaken and nervous during the short time that remained for them at Mount Pleasant; but the sea voyage and the fresh breezes soon brought health and color into their cheeks, and none of them ever after felt any bad effects from that terrible week.
And now our story is drawing to a close. The stormy period of the Mount Pleasant settlement was over. The hard work, the difficulties and dangers of the life of a new settler on the extreme edge of civilization, had been passed, and nothing remained but to continue to devote attention and energy to the estate, and to reap the fruits of the labor.
For two years after the departure of his wife and daughters Mr. Hardy remained at his post. It was now nearly six years since he had left England, and he longed to return to it. He felt that he could do so without any uneasiness as to the future. Rosario was, according to his anticipation, rising into a large and important town; the country was fairly settled for leagues beyond the estate; land was rapidly rising in value; and there was now no fear whatever of Indian attacks. His flocks and herds had multiplied greatly, and were doubling every two years. The income obtained by the sale of cattle fatted on the alfalfa, and upon the sale of wool and other farm produce, was considerable. The dairy alone brought in a large yearly amount. Charley was now twenty-two, Hubert a year younger; both were as capable of managing the estate as he was himself.
He one day, therefore, unfolded his plans to them. "As you know, boys, I am going to England shortly; and although I shall perhaps now and then come over here, I shall make England my permanent home. You boys will therefore jointly manage the estate. The income this year will reach six thousand dollars, and would be much more did we not keep the greater portion of our animals to increase our stock. I have now twelve thousand five hundred dollars in the bank. After the busy life I have led here, I could not remain inactive. My present intention is to take a large farm upon a long lease with the option of purchase. My object will be to obtain a lease upon large acreage and poor land, but improvable with irrigation or drainage and an outlay of capital. I shall risk no more than twelve thousand five hundred dollars in this, and also the income I draw from here for the next two years. The profits will increase each year. I shall therefore in two years have sunk twenty-five thousand dollars in the farm--a portion being devoted to building a suitable house. You will, of course, during the two years spend whatever money you may require; but, in fact, it is impossible for you to spend much money here. At the end of two years I propose that first you, Charley, as the elder, shall come home to England for a year, and then that Hubert shall take his turn. You will then stay a year here together, and again have each a year in England, and so on regularly. From the end of this two years I shall draw half the income of this estate, and you will take the other half between you, to invest or use as you may think fit. At the end of six years I calculate that the estate will be stocked with as many cattle and sheep as it can support. Fifteen thousand cattle, say, and thirty thousand sheep. You will then sell all your annual increase, and the profits will be greater every year. At the end of ten years from this time, if, as I think probable, you will have had enough of this life, we will sell the estate. By that time it will be the center of a populous district, the land will be greatly increased in value, and will be equal to any in the country--so much so, indeed, that it will probably be out of the question to find a purchaser for the whole. We could therefore break it up to suit purchasers, dividing it into lots of one, two, three, or four square miles, or a square league, and dividing the stock in proportion. The house would, of course, go with the arable land and a mile or two of pasture beyond it. My share of the yearly income I shall devote to buying my estate. Say the price is fifty thousand dollars. This I shall, with my income from here and my income from the estate itself, probably be able to make in ten years. The estate, with the twenty-five thousand dollars I propose to risk in drainage, etc., ought then to be worth one hundred thousand dollars. The value of this estate of fifty thousand acres, with the flocks and herds, ought to be at least double that amount; so that at the end of ten years I shall be a rich man. You, with care, can certainly save twenty-five thousand dollars each in the ten years, and will receive another fifty thousand dollars each as your share of the estate. You will consequently, boys, at the age of thirty-one and thirty-two, be able to settle down in England in very comfortable circumstances. Your sisters will of course be provided for out of my share. Do you approve of my plans?"
The boys warmly expressed their satisfaction at the plan, and their gratitude to their father for his intentions.
And so things were carried out.
Six months after Mr. Hardy's arrival in England, the boys heard of Maud's marriage to Mr. Cooper, now, by the death of his father, a wealthy country gentleman. Charley, during his first visit to England, also married--an example which Hubert followed the next year.
The two now took it by turn to manage the estate--the one in England always passing a considerable portion of his time at Mr. Hardy's, and spending the rest in traveling.
Ethel was married the year after Hubert to a rising barrister in London.
Everything prospered at Mount Pleasant, and at the sale it was broken up into lots and fetched rather a larger sum than Mr. Hardy had calculated.
Mr. Hardy's own plan had been fully carried out, but by the end of the ten years he began to wish for a quiet town life. He therefore made an arrangement with Charley, whereby the latter, who had obtained some money with his wife, has taken his place as master of the estate, and has settled down into the life of a country gentleman, which exactly suits him.
Hubert lives in London. His income is sufficient for his wants, he has become a member of a number of scientific societies, and his collection of the fauna of the pampas of America is considered to be unequaled.
The girls are very happy with the men of their choice; and Mr. and Mrs. Hardy have always some of their children or grandchildren staying with them, and often amuse the young ones with tales of how their fathers or mothers fought the Indians on the pampas of South America.