The Ghost Kings
H. Rider Haggard
Part 2 out of 7
"By order of Dingaan the King,"
"For what crime?"
"Witchcraft; but who are you who question me, white woman?"
"One whom you must obey," answered Rachel proudly. "Go back and leave the
girl. She is mine."
The man stared at her, then laughed aloud and began to advance again.
"Go back," repeated Rachel.
He took no heed but still came on.
"Go back or die," she said for the third time.
"I shall certainly die if I go back to Dingaan without the girl," replied
the soldier who was a bold-looking savage. "Now you, Noie, will you return
with me or shall I kill you? Say, witch," and he lifted his assegai.
The girl sank in a heap upon the veld. "Kill," she murmured faintly, "I
will not go back. I did not bewitch him to make him dream of me, and I
will be Death's wife, not his; a ghost in his kraal, not a woman."
"Good," said the man, "I will carry your word to the king. Farewell,
Noie," and he raised the assegai still higher, adding: "Stand aside, white
woman, for I have no order to kill you also."
By way of answer Rachel put the gun to her shoulder and pointed it at him.
"Are you mad?" shouted Ishmael. "If you touch him they will murder every
one of us. Are you mad?"
"Are you a coward?" she asked quietly, without taking her eyes off the
soldier. Then she said in Zulu, "Listen. The land on this side of the
Tugela has been given by Dingaan to the English. Here he has no right to
kill. This girl is mine, not his. Come one step nearer and you die."
"We shall soon see who will die," answered the warrior with a laugh, and
he sprang forward.
They were his last words. Rachel aimed and pressed the trigger, the gun
exploded heavily in the mist; the Zulu leapt into the air and fell upon
his back, dead. The white man, Ishmael, rode to them, pulled up his horse
and sat still, staring. It was a strange picture in that lonely, silent
spot. The soldier so very still and dead, his face hidden by the shield
that had fallen across it; the tall, white girl, rigid as a statue, in
whose hand the gun still smoked, the delicate, fragile Kaffir maiden
kneeling on the veld, and looking at her wildly as though she were a
spirit, and the two horses, one with its ears pricked in curiosity, and
the other already cropping grass.
"My God! What have you done?" exclaimed Ishmael.
"Justice," answered Rachel.
"Then your blood be on your own head. I am not going to stop here to have
my throat cut."
"Don't," answered Rachel. "I have a better guardian than you, and will
look after my own blood."
To this speech the white man seemed to be able to find no answer. Turning
his horse he galloped off swearing, but not towards the camp, whereon the
other horse galloped after him, and presently they all vanished in the
mist, leaving the two women alone.
At this moment from the direction of the waggon they heard the sound of
shouting and of screams, which appeared to come from the valley between
them and it.
"The king's men are killing my people," muttered the girl Noie. "Go, or
they will kill you too."
Rachel thought a moment. Evidently it was impossible to get through to the
camp; indeed, even had they tried to do so on the horses they would have
been cut off. An idea came to her. They stood upon the edge of a steep,
bush-clothed kloof, where in the wet season a stream ran down to the sea.
This stream was now represented by a chain of deep and muddy pools, one of
which pools lay directly underneath them.
"Help me to throw him into the water," said Rachel.
The girl understood, and with desperate energy they seized the dead
soldier, dragged him to the edge of the little cliff and thrust him over.
He fell with a heavy splash into the pool and vanished.
"Crocodiles live there," said Rachel, "I saw one as I passed. Now take the
shield and spear and follow me."
She obeyed, for with hope her strength seemed, to have returned to her,
and the two of them scrambled down the cliffs into the kloof. As they
reached the edge of the pool they saw great snouts and a disturbance in
the water. Rachel was right, crocodiles lived there.
"Now," she said, "throw your moocha on that rock. They will find it and
Noie nodded and did so, rending its fastening and wetting it in the water.
Then quite naked she took Rachel's hand and swiftly, swiftly, the two of
them leapt from stone to stone, so as to leave no footprints, heading for
the sea. Only the fugitive stopped once to drink of the fresh water, for
she was perishing with thirst. Now when Rachel was bathing she had
observed upon the farther side of her pool and opening out of it, as it
were, a little pocket in the rock, where the water was not more than three
feet deep and covered by a dense growth of beautiful seaweed, some black
and some ribbon-like and yellow. The pool was long, perhaps two hundred
paces in all, and to go round it they would be obliged to expose
themselves upon the sand, and thus become visible from a long way off.
"Can you swim?" said Rachel to Noie.
Again she nodded, and the two of them slipped into the water and swam
across the pool till they reached the pocket-like place, on the edge of
which they sat down, covering themselves with the seaweed.
They had not been there five minutes when they heard the sound of voices
drawing near down the kloof, and at once slid into the water, covering
themselves in it in such fashion that only their heads remained above the
surface, mixed with the black and yellow seaweed, so that without close
search none could have said which was hair and which was weed.
"The Zulus," said Noie, shivering so that the water shook about her, "they
"Lie still, then," answered Rachel. "I can't shoot now, the gun is wet."
The voices died away, and the two girls thought that the speakers had
gone, but rendered cautious, still remained hidden in the water. It was
well for them that they did so for presently they heard the voices again
and much nearer. The Zulus were walking round the pool. Two of them came
quite close to their little hiding-place, and sat down on some rocks to
rest, and talk. Peeping through her covering of seaweed Rachel could see
them, great men who held red spears in their hands.
"You are a fool," said one of them to the other, "and have given us this
walk for nothing, as though our feet were not sore enough already. The
crocodiles have that Noie, her witchcraft could not save her from them; it
was a baboon's spoor you saw in the mud, not a woman's."
"It would seem so, brother," answered the other, "as we found the moocha.
Still, if so, where is Bomba who was running her down? And what made that
blood-mark on the grass?"
"Doubtless," replied the first man, "Bomba came up with her there and
wounded her, whereon being a woman and a coward, she ran from him and
jumped into the pool in which the crocodiles finished her. As for Bomba, I
expect that he has gone back to Zululand, or is asleep somewhere resting.
The other spoor we saw was that of a white woman, who puts skins upon her
feet. There is a camp of them up yonder, but you remember, our orders were
not to touch any of the people of George, so we need not trouble about
"Well, brother, if you are sure, we had better be starting back, lest
there should be trouble with the white people. Dingaan will be satisfied
when we show him the moocha, and sleep in peace henceforth. She must
really have been _tagati_ (uncanny), that little Noie, for otherwise,
although it is true she was pretty, why should Dingaan who has all
Zululand to choose from, have fallen in love with her, and why should she
have refused to enter his house, and persuaded all her kraal to run away?
For my part, I don't believe that she is dead now, notwithstanding the
moocha. I think that she is a witch, and has changed into something
else--a bird or a snake, perhaps. Well, the rest of them will never change
into anything, except black mould. Let us see. We have killed every one;
all the common people, the mother of Noie, the dwarf-wizard Seyapi her
father, and her other mothers, four of them, and her brothers and sisters,
twelve in all."
At these words Noie again trembled beneath her seaweed, so that the water
shook all about her.
"There is a fish there," said the first Kaffir, "I saw it rise. It is a
small pool, shall we try to catch it?"
"No, brother," answered the other, "only coast people eat fish. I am
hungry, but I will wait for man's food. Take that, fish!" and he threw a
stone into the pool which struck Rachel on the side, and caused her fair
hair to float about among the yellow seaweed.
Then the two of them got up and went away, walking arm-in-arm like friends
and amiable men, as they were in their own fashion.
For a long time the girls remained beneath their seaweed, fearing lest the
men or others should return, until at length they could bear the cold of
the water no longer, and crept out of it to the brink of the little pool,
where, still wreathed in seaweed, they sat and warmed themselves in the
hot sunlight. Now Noie seemed to be half dead; indeed Rachel thought that
she would die.
"Awake," she said, "life is still before you."
"Would that it were behind me, Lady," moaned the poor girl. "You
understand our tongue--did you not hear? My father, my own mother, my
other mothers, my brothers and sisters, all killed, all killed for my
sake, and I left living. Oh! you meant kindly, but why did you not let
Bomba pass his spear through me? It would have been quickly over, and now
I should sleep with the rest."
Rachel made no answer, for she saw that talking was useless in such a
case. Only she took Noie's hand and pressed it in silent sympathy, until
at length the poor girl, utterly outworn with agony and the fatigue of her
long flight, fell asleep, there in the sunshine. Rachel let her sleep,
knowing that she would take no harm in that warmth. Quietly she sat at her
side for hour after hour while the fierce sun, from which she protected
her head with seaweed, dried her garments. At length the shadows told her
that midday was past, and the sea water which began to trickle over the
surrounding rocks that the tide was approaching its full. They could stop
there no longer unless they wished to be drowned.
"Come," she said to Noie, "the Zulus have gone, and the sea is here. We
must swim to the shore and go back to my father's camp."
"What place have I in your kraal, Lady?" asked the girl when her senses
had returned to her.
"I will find you a place," Rachel answered; "you are mine now."
"Yes, Lady, that is true," said Noie heavily, "I am yours and no one
else's," and taking Rachel's hand she pressed it to her forehead.
Then together once more they swam the pool, and not too soon, for the tide
was pouring into it. Reaching the shore in safety, no easy task for
Rachel, who must hold the heavy gun above her head, Noie tied Rachel's
towel about her middle to take the place of her moocha, and very
cautiously they crept up the kloof, fearing lest some of the Zulus might
still be lurking in the neighbourhood.
At length they came to the pool into which they had thrown the soldier
Bomba, and saw two crocodiles doubtless those that had eaten him, lying
asleep in the sun upon flat rocks at its edge. Here they were obliged to
leave the kloof both because they feared to pass the crocodiles, and for
the reason that their road to the camp ran another way. So they climbed up
the cliff and looked about, but could see only a pair of oribe bucks, one
lying down under a tree, and one eating grass quite close to its mate.
"The Zulus have gone or there would be no buck here," said Rachel. "Come,
now, hold the shield before you and the spear in your hand, to hide that
you are a woman, and let us go on boldly."
So they went till they reached the crest of the next rise, and then sprang
back behind it, for lying here and there they saw people who seemed to be
"The Zulus resting!" exclaimed Rachel.
"Nay," answered the girl with a sigh. "My people, dead! See the vultures
gathered round them."
Rachel looked again, and saw that it was so. Without a word they walked
forward, and as they passed each body Noie gave it its name. Here lay a
brother, there a sister, yonder four folk of her father's kraal. They came
to a tall and handsome woman of middle age, and she shivered as she had
done in the pool and said in an icy voice:
"The mother who bore me!"
A few more steps and in a patch of high grass that grew round an ant-heap,
they found two Zulu soldiers, each pierced through with a spear. Seated
against the ant-heap also, as though he were but resting, was a
light-coloured man, a dwarf in stature, spare of frame, and with sharp
features. His dress, if he wore any, seemed to have been removed from him,
for he was almost naked, and Rachel noticed that no wound could be seen on
"Behold my father!" said Noie in the same icy voice.
"But," whispered Rachel, "he only sleeps. No spear has touched him."
"Not so, he is dead, dead by the White Death after the fashion of his
Now Rachel wondered what this White Death might be, and of which people
the man was one. That he was not a Zulu who had been stunted in his growth
she could see for herself, nor had she ever met a native who at all
resembled him. Still she could ask no questions at that time; the thing
was too awful. Moreover Noie had knelt down before the body, and with her
arms thrown around its neck, was whispering into its ear. For a full
minute she whispered thus, then set her own ear to the cold stirless lips,
and for another minute or more, seemed to listen intently, nodding her
head from time to time. Never before had Rachel witnessed anything so
uncanny, and oddly enough, the fact that this scene was enacted in the
bright sunlight added to its terrors. She stood paralysed, forgetting the
Zulus, forgetting everything except that to all appearance the living was
holding converse with the dead.
At length Noie rose, and turning to her companion said:
"My Spirit has been good to me; I thank my Spirit, which brought me here
before it was too late for us to talk together. Now I have the message."
"The message! Oh! what message?" gasped Rachel.
An inscrutable look gathered on the face of the beautiful native girl.
"It is to me alone," she answered, "but this I may say, much of it was of
"Who told you that was my native name?" asked Rachel, springing back.
"It was in the message, O thou before whom kings shall bow."
"Nonsense," exclaimed Rachel, "you have heard it from our people."
"So be it, Lady; I have heard it from your people whom I have never seen.
Now let us go, your father is troubled for you."
Again Rachel looked at her sideways, and Noie went on:
"Lady, from henceforth I am your servant, am I not? and that service will
not be light."
"She thinks I shall make her dig," thought Rachel to herself, as the girl
continued in her low, soft voice:
"Now I ask you one thing--when I tell you my story, let it be for your
breast alone. Say only that I am a common girl whom you saved from the
"Why not?" answered Rachel. "That is all I have to tell."
Then once more they went on, Rachel wondering if she dreamed, the girl
Noie walking at her side, stern and cold-faced as a statue.
THE CASTING OF THE LOTS
They reached the crest of the last rise, and there, facing them on the
slope of the opposite wave of land, stood the waggon, surrounded by the
thorn fence, within which the cattle and horses were still enclosed,
doubtless for fear of the Zulus. Nothing could be more peaceful than the
aspect of that camp. To look at it no one would have believed that within
a few hundred yards a hideous massacre had just taken place. Presently,
however, voices began to shout, and heads to bob up over the fence. Then
it occurred to Rachel that they must think she was a prisoner in the
charge of a Zulu, and she told Noie to lower the shield which she still
held in front of her. The next instant some thorns were torn out, and her
father, a gun in his hand, appeared striding towards them.
"Thank God that you are safe," he said as they met. "I have suffered great
anxiety, although I hoped that the white man Israel--no, Ishmael--had
rescued you. He came here to warn us," he added in explanation, "very
early this morning, then galloped off to find you. Indeed his after-rider,
whose horse he took, is still here. Where on earth have you been, Rachel,
and"--suddenly becoming aware of Noie, who, arrayed only in a towel, a
shield, and a stabbing spear, presented a curious if an impressive
spectacle--"who is this young person?"
"She is a native girl I saved from the massacre," replied Rachel,
answering the last question first. "It is a long story, but I shot the man
who was going to kill her, and we hid in a pool. Are you all safe, and
where is mother?"
"Shot the man! Shed human blood! Hid in a pool!" ejaculated Mr. Dove,
overcome. "Really, Rachel, you are a most trying daughter. Why should you
go out before daybreak and do such things?"
"I don't know, I am sure, father; predestination, I suppose--to save her
life, you know."
Again he contemplated the beautiful Noie, then, murmuring something about
a blanket, ran back to the camp. By this time Mrs. Dove had climbed out of
the waggon, and arrived with the Kaffirs.
"I knew you would be safe, Rachel," she said in her gentle voice, "because
nothing can hurt you. Still you do upset your poor father dreadfully,
and--what are you going to do with that naked young woman?"
"Give her something to eat, dear," answered Rachel. "Don't ask me any more
questions now. We have been sitting up to our necks in water for hours,
and are starved and frozen, to say nothing of worse things."
At this moment Mr. Dove arrived with a blanket, which he offered to Noie,
who took it from him and threw it round her body. Then they went into the
camp, where Rachel changed her damp clothes, whilst Noie sat by her in a
corner of the tent. Presently, too, food was brought, and Rachel ate
hungrily, forcing Noie to do the same. Then she went out, leaving the girl
to rest in the tent, and with certain omissions, such as the conduct of
Noie when she found her dead father, told all the story which, wild as
were the times and strange as were the things that happened in them, they
found wonderful enough.
When she had done Mr. Dove knelt down and offered up thanks for his
daughter's preservation through great danger, and with them prayers that
she might be forgiven for having shot the Zulu, a deed that, except for
the physical horror of it, did not weigh upon Rachel's mind.
"You know, father, you would have done the same yourself," she explained,
"and so would mother there, if she could hold a gun, so what is the good
of pretending that it is a sin? Also no one saw it except that white man
and the crocodiles which buried the body, so the less we say about the
matter the better it will be for all of us."
"I admit," answered Mr. Dove, "that the circumstances justified the deed,
though I fear that the truth will out, since blood calls for blood. But
what are we to do with the girl? They will come to seek her and kill us
"They will not seek, father, because they think that she is dead, and will
never know otherwise unless that white man tells them, which he will
scarcely do, as the Zulus would think that he shot the soldier, not I. She
has been sent to us, and it is our duty to keep her."
"I suppose so," said her father doubtfully. "Poor thing! Truly she has
cause for gratitude to Providence: all her relations killed by those
bloodthirsty savages, and she saved!"
"If all of you were killed and I were saved, I do not know that I should
feel particularly grateful," answered Rachel. "But it is no use arguing
about such things, so let us be thankful that we are not killed too. Now I
am tired out, and going to lie down, for of course we can't leave this
place at present, unless we trek back to Durban."
Such was the finding of Noie.
* * * * *
When Rachel awoke from the sleep into which she had fallen, sunset was
near at hand. She left the tent where Noie still lay slumbering or lost in
stupor, to find that only her mother and Ishmael's after-rider remained in
the camp, her father having gone out with the Kaffirs, in order to bury as
many of the dead as possible before night came, and with it the jackals
and hyenas. Rachel made up the fire and set to work with her mother's help
to cook their evening meal. Whilst they were thus engaged her quick ears
caught the sound of horses' hoofs, and she looked up to perceive the white
man, Ishmael, still leading the spare horse on which she had ridden that
morning. He had halted on the crest of ground where she had first seen him
upon the previous day, and was peering at the camp, with the object
apparently of ascertaining whether its occupants were still alive.
"I will go and ask him in," said Rachel, who, for reasons of her own,
wished to have a word or two with the man.
Presently she came up to him, and saw at once that he seemed to be very
much ashamed of himself.
"Well," she said cheerfully, "you see here I am, safe enough, and I am
glad that you are the same."
"You are a wonderful woman," he replied, letting his eyes sink before her
clear gaze, "as wonderful as you are beautiful."
"No compliments, please," said Rachel, "they are out of place in this
"I beg your pardon, I could not help speaking the truth. Did they kill the
girl and let you go?"
"No, I managed to hide up with her; she is here now."
"That is very dangerous, Miss Dove. I know all about it; it is she whom
Dingaan was after. When he hears that you have sheltered her he will send
and kill you all. Take my advice and turn her out at once. I say it is
"Perhaps," answered Rachel calmly, "but all the same I shall do nothing of
the sort unless she wishes to go, nor do I think that my father will
either. Now please listen a minute. If this story comes to the ears of the
Zulus--and I do not see why it should, as the crocodiles have eaten that
soldier--who will they think shot him, I or the white man who was with me?
Do you understand?"
"I understand and shall hold my tongue, for your sake."
"No, for your own. Well, by way of making the bargain fair, for my part I
shall say as little as possible of how we separated this morning. Not that
I blame you for riding off and leaving an obstinate young woman whom you
did not know to take her chance. Still, other people might think
"Yes," he answered, "they might, and I admit that I am ashamed of myself.
But you don't know the Zulus as I do, and I thought that they would be all
on us in a moment; also I was mad with you and lost my nerve. Really I am
"Please don't apologise. It was quite natural, and what is more, all for
the best. If we had gone on we should have ridden right into them, and
perhaps never ridden out again. Now here comes my father; we have agreed
that you will not say too much about this girl, have we not?"
He nodded and advanced with her, leading the horses, for he had
dismounted, to meet Mr. Dove at the opening in the fence.
"Good evening," said the clergyman, who seemed depressed after his sad
task, as he motioned to one of the Kaffirs to put down his mattock and
take the horses. "I don't quite know what happened this morning, but I
have to thank you for trying to save my daughter from those cruel men. I
have been burying their victims in a little cleft that we found, or rather
some of them. The vultures you know----" and he paused.
"I didn't save her, sir," answered the stranger humbly. "It seemed
hopeless, as she would not leave the Kaffir girl."
Mr. Dove looked at him searchingly, and there was a suspicion of contempt
in his voice as he replied:
"You would not have had her abandon the poor thing, would you? For the
rest, God saved them both, so it does not much matter exactly how, as
everything has turned out for the best. Won't you come in and have some
supper, Mr.--Ishmael--I am afraid I do not know the rest of your name."
"There is no more to know, Mr. Dove," he replied doggedly, then added:
"Look here, sir, as I daresay you have found out, this is a rough country,
and people come to it, some of them, whose luck has been rough elsewhere.
Now, perhaps I am as well born as you are, and perhaps _my_ luck was rough
in other lands, so that I chose to come and live in a place where there
are no laws or civilisation. Perhaps, too, I took the name of another man
who was driven into the wilderness--you will remember all about him--also
that it does not seem to have been his fault. Any way, if we should be
thrown up together I'll ask you to take me as I am, that is, a hunter and
a trader 'in the Zulu,' and not to bother about what I have been. Whatever
I was christened, my name is Ishmael now, or among the Kaffirs Ibubesi,
and if you want another, let us call it Smith."
"Quite so, Mr. Ishmael. It is no affair of mine," replied Mr. Dove with a
smile, for he had met people of this sort before in Africa.
But within himself already he determined that this white and perchance
fallen wanderer was one whom, perhaps, it would be his duty to lead back
into the paths of Christian propriety and peace.
These matters settled, they went into the little camp, and a sentry having
been set, for now the night was falling fast, Ishmael was introduced to
Mrs. Dove, who looked him up and down and said little, after which they
began their supper. When their simple meal was finished, Ishmael lit his
pipe and sat himself upon the disselboom of the waggon, looking extremely
handsome and picturesque in the flare of the firelight which fell upon his
dark face, long black hair and curious garments, for although he had
replaced his lion-skin by an old coat, his zebra-hide trousers and
waistcoat made of an otter's pelt still remained. Contemplating him,
Rachel felt sure that whatever his present and past might be, he had
spoken the truth when he hinted that he was well-born. Indeed, this might
be gathered from his voice and method of expressing himself when he grew
more at ease, although it was true that sometimes he substituted a Zulu
for an English word, and employed its idioms in his sentences, doubtless
because for years he had been accustomed to speak and even to think in
Now he was explaining to Mr. Dove the political and social position among
that people, whose cruel laws and customs led to constant fights on the
part of tribes or families, who knew that they were doomed, and their
consequent massacre if caught, as had happened that day. Of course, the
clergyman, who had lived for some years at Durban, knew that this was
true, although, never having actually witnessed one of these dreadful
events till now, he did not realise all their horror.
"I fear that my task will be even harder than I thought," he said with a
"What task?" asked Ishmael.
"That of converting the Zulus. I am trekking to the king's kraal now, and
propose to settle there."
Ishmael knocked out his pipe and filled it again before he answered.
Apparently he could find no words in which to express his thoughts, but
when at length these came they were vigorous enough.
"Why not trek to hell and settle _there_ at once?" he asked, "I beg
pardon, I meant heaven, for you and your likes. Man," he went on
excitedly, "have you any heart? Do you care about your wife and daughter?"
"I have always imagined that I did, Mr. Ishmael," replied the missionary
in a cold voice.
"Then do you wish to see their throats cut before your eyes, or," and he
looked at Rachel, "worse?"
"How can you ask such questions?" said Mr. Dove, indignantly. "Of course I
know that there are risks among all wild peoples, but I trust to
Providence to protect us."
Mr. Ishmael puffed at his pipe and swore to himself in Zulu.
"Yes," he said, when he had recovered a little, "so I suppose did Seyapi
and his people, but you have been burying them this afternoon--haven't
you?--all except the girl, Noie, whom you have sheltered, for which deed
Dingaan will bury you all if you go into Zululand, or rather throw you to
the vultures. Don't think that your being an _umfundusi_, I mean a
teacher, will save you. The Almighty Himself can't save you there. You
will be dead and forgotten in a month. What's more, you will have to drive
your own waggon in, for your Kaffirs won't, they know better. A Bible
won't turn the blade of an assegai."
"Please, Mr. Ishmael, please do not speak so--so irreligiously," said Mr.
Dove in an irritated but nervous voice. "You do not seem to understand
that I have a mission to perform, and if that should involve
"Oh! bother martyrdom, which is what you are after, no doubt, 'casting
down your golden crown upon a crystal sea,' and the rest of it--I remember
the stuff. The question is, do you wish to murder your wife and daughter,
for that's the plain English of it?"
"Of course not. How can you suggest such a thing?"
"Then you had better not cross the Tugela. Go back to Durban, or stop
where you are at least, for, unless he finds out anything, Dingaan is not
likely to interfere with a white man on this side of the river."
"That would involve abandoning my most cherished ambition, and impulses
that--but I will not speak to you of things which perhaps you might not
"I dare say I shouldn't, but I do understand what it feels like to have
your neck twisted out of joint. Look here, sir, if you want to go into
Zululand, you should go alone; it is no place for white ladies."
"That is for them to judge, sir," answered Mr. Dove. "I believe that their
faith will be equal to this trial," and he looked at his wife almost
For once, however, she failed him.
"My dear John," she said, "if you want my opinion, I think that this
gentleman is quite right. For myself I don't care much, but it can never
have been intended that we should absolutely throw away our lives. I have
always given way to you, and followed you to many strange places without
grumbling, although, as you know, we might be quite comfortable at home,
or at any rate in some civilised town. Now I say that I think you ought
not to go to Zululand, especially as there is Rachel to think of."
"Oh! don't trouble about me," interrupted that young lady, with a shrug of
her shoulders. "I can take my chance as I have often done before--to-day,
"But I do trouble about you, my dear, although it is true I don't believe
that you will be killed; you know I have always said so. Still I do
trouble, and John--John," she added in a kind of pitiful cry, "can't you
see that you have worn me out? Can't you understand that I am getting old
and weak? Is there nobody to whom you have a duty as well as to the
heathen? Are there not enough heathen here?" she went on with gathering
passion. "If you must mix with them, do what this gentleman says, and stop
here, that is, if you won't go back. Build a house and let us have a
little peace before we die, for death will come soon enough, and terribly
enough, I am sure," and she burst into a fit of weeping.
"My dear," said Mr. Dove, "you are upset; the unhappy occurrences of
to-day, which--did we but know it--are doubtless all for the best, and
your anxiety for Rachel have been too much for you. I think that you had
better go to bed, and you too, Rachel. I will talk the matter over further
with Mr. Ishmael, who, perhaps, has been sent to guide me. I am not
unreasonable, as you think, and if he can convince me that there is any
risk to your lives--for my own I care nothing--I will consider the
suggestion of building a mission-station outside Zululand, at any rate for
a few years. It may be that it is not intended that we should enter that
country at present."
So Mrs. Dove and her daughter went, but for two hours or more Rachel heard
her father and the hunter talking earnestly, and wondered in a sleepy
fashion to what conclusion he had come. Personally she did not mind much
on which side of the Tugela they were to live, if they must bide at all in
the region of that river. Still, for her mother's sake she determined that
if she could bring it about, they should stay where they were. Indeed
there was no choice between this and returning to England, as her father
had quarrelled too bitterly with the white men at Durban to allow of his
taking up his residence among them again.
When Rachel woke on the following morning the first thing she saw in the
growing light was the orphaned native Noie, seated on the further side of
the little tent, her head resting upon her hand, and gazing at her
vacantly. Rachel watched her a while, pretending to be still asleep, and
for the first time understood how beautiful this girl was in her own
fashion. Although small, that is in comparison with most Kaffir women, she
was perfectly shaped and developed. Her soft skin in that light looked
almost white, although it had about it nothing of the muddy colour of the
half-breed; her hair was long, black and curly, and worn naturally, not
forced into artificial shapes as is common among the Kaffirs. Her features
were finely cut and intellectual, and her eyes, shaded by long lashes,
somewhat oblong in shape, of a brown colour, and soft as those of a buck.
Certainly for a native she was lovely, and what is more, quite unlike any
Bantu that Rachel had ever seen, except indeed that dead man whom she said
was her father, and who, although he was so small, had managed to kill two
great Zulu warriors before, mysteriously enough, he died himself.
"Noie," said Rachel, when she had completed her observations, whereon with
a quick and agile movement the girl rose, sank again on her knees beside
her, took the hand that hung from the bed between her own, and pressed it
to her lips, saying in the soft Zulu tongue,
"Inkosazana, I am here."
"Is that white man still asleep, Noie?"
"Nay, he has gone. He and his servant rode away before the light, fearing
lest there might still be Zulus between him and his kraal."
"Do you know anything about him, Noie?"
"Yes, Lady, I have seen him in Zululand. He is a bad man. They call him
there 'Lion,' not because he is brave, but because he hunts and springs by
"Just what I should have thought of him," answered Rachel, "and we know
that he is not brave," she added with a smile. "But never mind this jackal
in a lion's hide; tell me your story, Noie, if you will, only speak low,
for this tent is thin."
"Lady," said the girl, "you who were born white in body and in spirit,
hear me. I am but half a Zulu. My father who died yesterday in the flesh,
departing back to the world of ghosts, was of another people who live far
to the north, a small people but a strong. They live among the trees, they
worship trees; they die when their tree dies; they are dealers in dreams;
they are the companions of ghosts, little men before whom the tribes
tremble; who hate the sun, and dwell in the deep of the forest. Myself I
do not know them; I have never seen them, but my father told me these
things, and others that I may not repeat. When he was a young man my
father fled from his people."
"Why?" asked Rachel, for the girl paused.
"Lady, I do not know; I think it was because he would have been their
priest, or one of their priests, and he feared I think that he had seen a
woman, a slave to them, whom therefore he might not marry. I think that
woman was my mother. So he fled from them--with her, and came to live
among the Zulus. He was a great doctor there in Chaka's time, not one of
the _Abangomas_, not one of the 'Smellers-out-of-witches,' not a
'Bringer-down-to-death,' for like all his race he hated bloodshed. No,
none of these things, but a doctor of medicines, a master of magic, an
interpreter of dreams, a lord of wisdom; yes, it was his wisdom that made
Chaka great, and when he withdrew it from him because of his cruelties,
then Chaka died.
"Lady, Dingaan rules in Chaka's place, Dingaan who slew him, but although
he had been Chaka's doctor, my father was spared because they feared him.
I was the only child of my mother, but he took other wives after the Zulu
fashion, not because he loved them, I think, but that he might not seem
different to other men. So he grew great and rich, and lived in peace
because they feared him. Lady, my father loved me, and to me alone he
taught his language and his wisdom. I helped him with his medicines; I
interpreted the dreams which he could not interpret, his blanket fell upon
me. Often I was sought in marriage, but I did not wish to marry, Wisdom is
"There came an evil day; we knew that it must come, my father and I, and I
wished to fly the land, but he could not do so because of his other wives
and children. The maidens of my district were marshalled for the king to
see. His eye fell upon me, and he thought me fair because I am different
from Zulu women, and--you can guess. Yet I was saved, for the other
doctors and the head wives of the king said that it was not wise that I
should be taken into his house, I who knew too many secrets and could
bewitch him if I willed, or prison him with drugs that leave no trace. So
I escaped a while and was thankful. Now it came about that because he
might not take me Dingaan began to think much of me, and to dream of me at
nights. At last he asked me of my father, as a gift, not as a right, for
so he thought that no ill would come with me. But I prayed my father to
keep me from Dingaan, for I hated Dingaan, and told him that if I were
sent to the king, I would poison him. My father listened to me because he
loved me and could not bear to part with me, and said Dingaan nay. Now
Dingaan grew very angry and asked counsel of his other doctors, but they
would give him none because they feared my father. Then he asked counsel
of that white man, Hishmel, who is called the Lion, and who is much at the
kraal of Umgungundhlovu."
"Ah!" said Rachel, "now I understand why he wished you to be killed."
"The white man, Hishmel, the jackal in a lion's skin, as you named him,
laughed at Dingaan's fears. He said to him, 'It is of the father, Seyapi,
you should be afraid. He has the magic, not the girl. Kill the father, and
his house, and take the daughter whom your heart desires, and be happy.'
"So spoke Hishmel, and Dingaan thought his counsel good, and paid him for
it with the teeth of elephants, and certain women for whom he asked. Now
my father foreboded ill, and I also, for both of us had dreamed a dream.
Still we did not fly until the slayers were almost at the gates, because
of his other wives and his children. Nor, save for them would he have fled
then, or I either, but would have died after the fashion of his people, as
he did at last."
"The White Death?" queried Rachel.
"Yes, Lady, the White Death. Still in the end we fled, thinking to gain
the protection of the white men down yonder. I went first to escape the
king's men who had orders to take me alive and bring me to him, that is
why we were not together at the end. Lady, you know the rest. Hishmel
doubtless had seen you, and thinking that the Impi would kill you, came to
warn you. Then we met just as I was about to die, though perhaps not by
that soldier's spear, as you thought. I have spoken."
"What message came to you when you knelt down before your dead father?"
asked Rachel for the second time, since on this point she was intensely
Again that inscrutable look gathered on the girl's face, and she answered.
"Did I not tell you it was for my ear alone, O Inkosazana-y-Zoola? I dare
not say it, be satisfied. But this I may say. Your fate and mine are
intertwined; yours and mine and another's, for our spirits are sisters
which have dwelt together in past days."
"Indeed," said Rachel smiling, for she who had mixed with them from her
childhood knew something of the mysticism of the natives, also that it was
often nonsense. "Well, Noie, I love you, I know not why. Perhaps, for all
you have suffered. Yet I say to you that if you wish to remain my sister
in the spirit, you had better separate from me in the flesh. That jackal
man knows your secret, girl, and soon or late will loose the assegai on
"Doubtless," she answered, "doubtless many things will come about. But
they are doomed to come about. Whether I go or whether I stay they will
happen. Say you therefore, Lady, and I will obey. Shall I go or shall I
stay, or shall I die before your eyes?"
"It is on your own head," answered Rachel shrugging her shoulders.
"Nay, nay, Lady, you forget, it is on yours also, seeing that if I stay I
may bring peril on you and your house. Have you then no order for me?"
"Noie, I have answered--one. Judge you."
"I will not judge. Let Heaven-above judge. Lady, give me a hair from your
Rachel plucked out the hair and handed it, a shining thread of gold, to
Noie who drew one from her own dark tresses, and laid them side by side.
"See," she said, "they are of the same length. Now, without the wind blows
gently; come then to the door of the tent, and I will throw these two
hairs into the wind. If that which is black floats first to the ground,
then I stay, if that which is golden, then I go to seek my hair. Is it
"It is agreed."
So the two girls went to the entrance of the tent, and Noie with a swift
motion tossed up the hairs. As it happened one of those little eddies of
wind which are common in South Africa, caught them, causing them to rise
almost perpendicularly into the air. At a certain height, about forty
feet, the supporting wind seemed to fail, that is so far as the hair from
Noie's head was concerned, for there it floated high above them like a
black thread in the sunlight, and gently by slow degrees came to the earth
just at their feet. But the hair from Rachel's head, being caught by the
fringe of the whirlwind, was borne upwards and onwards very swiftly, until
at length it vanished from their sight.
"It seems that I stay," said Noie.
"Yes," answered Rachel. "I am very glad; also if any evil comes of it we
are not to blame, the wind is to blame."
"Yes, Lady, but what makes the wind to blow?"
Again Rachel shrugged her shoulders, and asked a question in her turn.
"Whither has that hair of mine been borne, Noie?"
"I do not know, Lady. Perhaps my father's spirit took it for his own ends.
I think so. I think it went northwards. At any rate when mine fell, it was
snatched away, was it not? And yet they both floated up together. I think
that one day you will follow that hair of yours, Lady, follow it to the
land where great trees whisper secrets to the night."
THE MESSAGE OF THE KING
So it chanced that Noie became a member of the Dove household. For obvious
reasons she changed her name, and thenceforward was called Nonha. Also it
happened that Mr. Dove abandoned his idea of settling as a missionary in
Zululand, and instead, took up his residence at this beautiful spot. He
called it Ramah because it was a place of weeping, for here all the family
and dependents of Seyapi had been destroyed by the spear. Mrs. Dove
thought it an ill-omened name enough, but after her manner gave way to her
husband in the matter.
"I think there will be more weeping here before everything is done," she
Rachel answered, however, that it was as good as any other, since names
could alter nothing. Here, then, at Ramah, Mr. Dove built him a house on
that knoll where first he had pitched his camp. It was a very good house
after its fashion, for, as has been said, he did not lack for means, and
was, moreover, clever in such matters. He hired a mason who had drifted to
Natal to cut stone, of which a plenty lay at hand, and two half-breed
carpenters to execute the wood-work, whilst the Kaffirs thatched the whole
as only they can do. Then he set to work upon a church, which was placed
on the crest of the opposite knoll where the white man, Ishmael, had
appeared on the evening of their arrival. Like the house, it was excellent
of its sort, and when at length it was finished after more than a year of
labour, Mr. Dove felt a proud man.
Indeed at Ramah he was happier than he had ever been since he landed upon
the shores of Africa, for now at length his dream seemed to be in the way
of realisation. Very soon a considerable native village sprang up around
him, peopled almost entirely by remnants of the Natal tribes whom Chaka
had destroyed and who were but too glad to settle under the aegis of the
white man, especially when they discovered how good he was. Of the
doctrines which he preached to them day and night, most of them, it is
true, did not understand much. Still they accepted them as the price of
being allowed "to live in his shadow," but in the vast majority of cases
they sturdily refused to put away all wives but one, as he earnestly
exhorted them to do.
At first he wished to eject them from the settlement in punishment of this
sin, but when it came to the point they absolutely refused to go,
demonstrating to him that they had as much right to live there as he had,
an argument that he was unable to controvert. So he was obliged to submit
to the presence of this abomination, which he did in the hope that in time
their hard hearts would be softened.
"Continue to preach to us, O Shouter," they said, "and we will listen.
Mayhap in years to come we shall learn to think as you do. Meanwhile give
us space to consider the point."
So he continued to preach, and contented himself with baptising the
children and very old people who took no more wives. Except on this one
point, however, they got on excellently together. Indeed, never since
Chaka broke upon them like a destroying demon had these poor folk been so
happy. The missionary imported ploughs and taught them to improve their
agriculture, so that ere long this rich, virgin soil brought forth
abundantly. Their few cattle multiplied also in an amazing fashion, as did
their families, and soon they were as prosperous as they had been in the
good old days before they knew the Zulu assegai, especially as, to their
amazement, the Shouter never took from them even a calf or a bundle of
corn by way of tax. Only the shadow of that Zulu assegai still lay upon
them, for if Chaka was dead Dingaan ruled a few miles away across the
Tugela. Moreover, hearing of the rise of this new town, and of certain
strange matters connected with it, he sent spies to inspect and enquire.
The spies returned and reported that there dwelt in it only a white
medicine-man with his wife, and a number of Natal Kaffirs. Also they
reported in great detail many wonderful stories concerning the beautiful
maiden with a high name who passed as the white teacher's daughter, and
who had already become the subject of so much native talk and rumour. On
learning all these things Dingaan despatched an embassy, who delivered
"I, Dingaan, king of the Zulus, have heard that you, O White Shouter, have
built a town upon my borders, and peopled it with the puppies of the
jackals whom Chaka hunted. I send to you now to say that you and your
jackals shall have peace from me so long as you harbour none of my
runaways, but if I find but one of them there, then an Impi shall wipe you
out. I hear also that there dwells with you a beautiful white maiden said
to be your daughter, who is known, throughout the land as
Inkosazana-y-Zoola. Now that is the name of our Spirit who, the doctors
say, is also white, and it is strange to us that this maiden should bear
that great name. Some of the _Isanusis_, the prophetesses, declare that
she is our Spirit in the flesh, but that meat sticks in my throat, I
cannot swallow it. Still, I invite this maiden to visit me that I may see
her and judge of her, and I swear to you, and to her, by the ghosts of my
ancestors, that no harm shall come to her then or at any time. He who so
much as lays a finger upon her shall die, he and all his house. Because of
her name, which I am told she has borne from a child, all the territories
of the Zulus are her kraal and all the thousands of the Zulus are her
servants. Yea, because of her high name I give to her power of life and
death wherever men obey my word, and for an offering I send to her twelve
of my royal white cattle and a bull, also an ox trained to riding. When
she visits me let her ride upon the white ox that she may be known, but
let no man come with her, for among the people of the Zulus she must be
attended by Zulus only. I have spoken. I pray that she who is named
Princess of the Zulus will appear before my messengers and acknowledge the
gift of the King of the Zulus, that they may see her in the flesh and make
report of her to me."
Now when Mr. Dove had received this message, one evening at sundown, he
went into the house and repeated it to Rachel, for it puzzled him much,
and he knew not what to answer.
Rachel in her turn took counsel with Noie who was hidden, away lest some
of the embassy should see and recognise her.
"Speak with the messengers," said Noie, "it is well to have power among
the Zulus. I, who have some knowledge of this business, say, speak with
them alone, and speak softly, saying that one day you will come."
So having explained the matter to her father, and obtained his consent,
Rachel, who desired to impress these savages, threw a white shawl about
her, as Noie instructed her to do. Then, letting her long, golden hair
hang down, she went out alone carrying a light assegai in her hand, to the
place where the messengers, six of them, and those who had driven the
cattle from Zululand, were encamped in the guest kraal, at the gate of
which, as it chanced, lay a great boulder of rock. On this boulder she
took her stand, unobserved, waiting there till the full moon shone out
from behind a dark cloud, turning her white robe to silver. Now of a
sudden the messengers who were seated together, talking and taking snuff,
looked up and saw her.
"_Inkosazana-y-Zoola_!" exclaimed one of them, rising, whereon they all
sprang to their feet and perceiving this beautiful and mysterious figure,
by a common impulse lifted their right arms and gave to her what no woman
had ever received before--the royal salute.
"Bayete!" they cried, "Bayete!" then stood silent.
"I hear you," said Rachel, who spoke their tongue as well as she did her
own. "It has been reported to me that you wished to see me, O Mouths of
the King. Behold I am pleased to appear before you. What would you of
Inkosazana-y-Zoola, O Mouths of the King?"
Then their spokesman, an old man of high rank, with a withered hand,
stepped forward from the line of his companions, stared at her for a
while, and saluted again.
"Lady," he said humbly, "Lady or Spirit, we would know how thou earnest by
that great name of thine."
"It was given me as a child far away from here," she answered, "because in
a mighty tempest the lightnings turned aside and smote me not; because the
waters raged yet drowned me not; because the lions slept with me yet
harmed me not. It came to me from the high Heaven that was my friend. I do
not know how it came."
"We have heard the story," answered the old man (which indeed they had
with many additions), "and we believe. We believe that the Heavens above
gave thee their own name which is the name of the Spirit of our people.
That Spirit I have seen in a dream, and she was like to thee, O
"It may be so, Mouth of the King, still I am woman, not spirit."
"Yet in every woman there dwells a spirit, or so we believe, and in thee a
great one, or so we have heard and believe, O Lady of the Heavens. To
thee, then, again we repeat the words of Dingaan and of his council which
to-day we have said in the ears of him who thinks himself thy father. To
thee the roads are open; thine are the cattle and the kraals; here is an
earnest of them. Thine are the lives of men. Command now, if thou wilt,
that one of us be slain before thee, and whilst thou watchest, he shall
look his last upon the moon."
"I hear you," said Rachel, quietly, "but I seek the life of none who are
good. I thank the King for his gift; I wish the King well. I remember that
life and death lie in my hands. Say these words to the King."
"We will say them, but wilt thou not come, O Lady, as the King desires? A
regiment shall meet thee on the river bank and lead thee to his house.
Unharmed shalt thou come, unharmed shalt thou return, and what thou askest
that shall be given thee."
"One day, perchance, I will come, but not now. Go in peace, O Mouths of
As she spoke another dark cloud floated across the moon, and when it had
passed away she stood no more upon the rock. Then, seeing that she was
gone, those messengers gathered up their spears and mats, and returned
swiftly to Zululand.
When she readied the house again Rachel told her father and mother all
that had passed, laughing as she spoke.
"It seems scarcely right, my dear," said Mr. Dove, when she had done.
"Those benighted heathens will really believe that you are something
"Then let them," she answered. "It can do no one any harm, and the power
of life and death with the rest of it, unless it was all talk as I
suspect, might be very useful one day. Who knows? And now the Princess of
the Heavens will go and set the supper, as Noie--I beg pardon, Nonha--is
off duty for the present."
Afterwards she asked Noie who was the old man with a withered hand who had
spoken as the "King's Mouth."
"Mopo is his name, Mopo or Umbopo, none other, O Zoola," she answered. "It
was he who stabbed T'Chaka, the Black One. It is said also that alone
among men living, he has seen the White Spirit: the Inkosazana. Thrice he
has seen her, or so goes the tale that my father, who knew everything,
told to me. That is why Dingaan sent him here to make report of you." And
she told her all the wonderful story of Mopo and of the death of T'Chaka,
which Rachel treasured in her mind. [Footnote: For the history of Mopo,
see "Nada the Lily."--AUTHOR.]
Such was Rachel's first introduction to the Zulus, an occasion on which
her undoubted histrionic abilities stood her in good stead.
This matter of the embassy happened and in due course was almost
forgotten, that is until a certain event occurred which brought it into
mind. For some time, however, Rachel thought of it a good deal, wondering
how it came about that her native name and the strange significance which
they appeared to give to it had taken such a hold of the imagination of
the Zulus. Ultimately she discovered that the white man, Ishmael, was the
chief cause of these things. He had lived so long among savages that he
had caught something of their mind and dark superstitions. To him, as to
them, it seemed a marvellous thing that she should have acquired the title
of the legendary Spirit of the Zulu people. The calm courage, too, so
unusual in a woman, which she showed when she shot the warrior, and at the
risk of her own life saved that of the girl, Noie, impressed him as
something almost ultra-human, especially when he remembered his own
conduct on that occasion. All of this story, of course, he did not tell to
the Zulus for he feared lest they should take vengeance for his share in
it. But of Rachel he discoursed to the King and his _indunas_, or great
men, as a white witch-doctoress of super-natural power, whose name showed
that she was mixed up with the fortunes of the race. Therefore, in the
end, Dingaan sent Mopo, "he who knew the Spirit," to make report of her.
When he was not absent upon his hunting or trading expeditions, Ishmael
visited Ramah a great deal and, as Rachel soon discovered, not without an
object. Indeed, almost from the first, her feminine instincts led her to
suspect that this man who, notwithstanding his good looks, repelled her so
intensely, was falling in love with her, which in truth he had done once
and for all at their first meeting. In the beginning he did not, it is
true, say much that could be so interpreted, but his whole attitude
towards her suggested it, as did other things. For instance, when he came
to visit the Doves, he discarded his garments of hide, including the
picturesque zebra-skin trousers, and appeared dressed in smart European
clothes which he had contrived to obtain from Durban, and a large hat with
a white ostrich feather, that struck Rachel as even more ludicrous than
the famous trousers. Also he was continuously sending presents of game and
of skins, or of rare karosses, that is, fur rugs, which he ordered to be
delivered to her personally--tokens, all of them, that she could not
misunderstand. Her father, however, misunderstood them persistently,
although her mother saw something of the truth, and did her best to shield
her from attentions which she knew to be unwelcome. Mr. Dove believed that
it was his company which Ishmael sought. Indeed in this matter the man was
very clever, contriving to give the clergyman the impression that he
required spiritual instruction and comfort, which, of course, he found
forthcoming in an abundant supply. When Mrs. Dove remonstrated, saying
that she misdoubted her of him and his character, her husband answered
obstinately, that it was his duty to turn a sinner from his way, and
declined to pursue the conversation. So Ishmael continued to come.
For her part Rachel did her best to avoid him, instructing Noie to keep a
constant look-out both with her eyes and through the Kaffirs, and to warn
her of his advent. Then she would slip away into the bush or down to the
seashore, and remain there till he was gone, or if he came when she could
not do so, in the evening for instance, would keep Noie at her side, and
on the first opportunity retire to her own room.
Now the result of this method of self-protection was to cause Ishmael to
hate Noie as bitterly as she hated him. He guessed that the girl knew the
dreadful truth about him; that it was he, and no other, who had counselled
Dingaan to kill her father and all his family, and take her by force into
his house, and although she said nothing of it, he suspected that she had
told everything to Rachel. Moreover, it was she who always thwarted him,
who prevented him time upon time from having a single word alone with her
mistress. Therefore he determined to be revenged upon Noie whenever an
But as yet he could find none, since if he were to tell the Zulus that
she still lived, and cause her to be killed or taken away, he was sure
that it would mean a final breach with the Dove family, all of whom had
learned to love this beautiful orphan maid. So he nursed his rage in
Meanwhile his passion increased daily, burning ever more fiercely for its
continued repression, until at length the chance for which he had waited
so long came to him.
Having become aware of Rachel's habit of slipping away whenever he
appeared, he showed himself on horseback at a little distance, then waited
a while and, instead of going up to the mission station, rode round it,
and hid in some bush whence he could command a view of the surrounding
country. Presently he saw Rachel, who was alone, for she had not waited to
call Noie, hurrying towards the seashore, along the edge of that kloof
down which ran the stream where the crocodiles lived. Presently, when she
had gone too far to return to the house if she caught sight of him, he
followed after her, and, leaving his horse, at last came up with her
seated on a rock by the pool in which she had bathed on the morning of the
Walking softly in his veld-schoens, or shoes made of raw hide, on the
sand, Rachel knew nothing of his coming until his shadow fell upon her.
Then she sprang up and saw him, smiling and bowing, the ostrich-plume hat
in his hand. Her first impulse was to run away, but recovering herself she
nodded in a friendly fashion, and bade him "Good day," adding:
"What are you doing here, Mr. Ishmael, hunting?"
"Yes," he answered, "that's it. Hunting you. It has been a long chase, but
I have caught you at last."
"Really, I am not a wild creature, Mr. Ishmael," she said indignantly.
"No," he answered, "you are more beautiful and more dangerous than any
Rachel looked at him. Then she made, as though she would pass him, saying
that she was going home. Now Ishmael stood between two rocks filling the
only egress from this place.
He stretched out his arms so that his fingers touched the rocks on either
side, and said:
"You can't. You must listen to me first. I came here to say what I have
wanted to tell you for a long time. I love you, and I ask you to marry
"Indeed," she replied, setting her face. "How can that be? I understood
that you were already married--several times over."
"Who told you that?" he asked, angrily. "I know--that accursed little
"Don't speak any ill of Noie, please; she is my friend."
"Then you have a liar for your friend. Those women are only my servants."
"It doesn't matter to me what they are, Mr. Ishmael. I have no wish to
know your private affairs. Shall we stop this talk, which is not
"No," he answered. "I tell you that I love you and I mean to marry you,
with your will or without it. Let it be with your will, Rachel," he added,
pleadingly, "for I will make you a good husband. Also I am well-born, much
better than you think, and I am rich, rich enough to take you out of this
country, if you like. I have thousands of cattle, and a great deal of
money put by, good English gold that I have got from the sale of ivory.
You shall come with me from among all these savage people back to England,
and live as you like."
"Thank you, but I prefer the savages, as you seem to have done until now.
No, do not try to touch me; you know that I can defend myself if I
choose," and she glanced at the pistol which she always carried in that
wild land, "I am not afraid of you, Mr. Ishmael; it is you who are afraid
"Perhaps I am," he exclaimed, "because those Zulus are right, you are
_tagati_, an enchantress, not like other women, white or black. If it were
not so, would you have driven me mad as you have done? I tell you I can't
sleep for thinking of you. Oh! Rachel, Rachel, don't be angry with me.
Have pity on me. Give me some hope. I know that my life has been rough in
the past, but I will become good again for your sake and live like a
Christian. But if you refuse me, if you send me back to hell--then you
shall learn what I can be."
"I know what you are, Mr. Ishmael, and that is quite enough. I do not wish
to be unkind, or to say anything that will pain you, but please go away,
and never try to speak to me again like this, as it is quite useless. You
must understand that I will never marry you, never."
"Are you in love with somebody else?" he asked hoarsely, and at the
question, do what she would to prevent it, Rachel coloured a little.
"How can I be in love here, unless it were with a dream?"
"A dream, a dream of a man you mean. Well, don't let him cross my path, or
it will soon be the dream of a ghost. I tell you I'd kill him. If I can't
have you, no one else shall. Do you understand?"
"I understand that I am tired of this. Let me go home, please."
"Home! Soon you will have no home to go to except mine--that is, if you
don't change your mind about me. I have power here--don't you understand?
I have power."
As he spoke these words the man looked so evil that Rachel shivered a
little. But she answered boldly enough:
"I understand that you have no power at all against me; no one has. It is
I who have the power."
"Yes, because as I said, you are _tagati_, but there are others----"
As these words passed his lips someone slipped by him. Starting back, he
saw that it was Noie, draped in her usual white robe, for nothing would
induce her to wear European clothes. Passing him as though she saw him
not, she went to Rachel and said:
"Inkosazana, I was at my work in the house yonder and I thought that I
heard you calling me down here by the seashore, so I came. Is it your
pleasure that I should accompany you home?"
"For instance," he went on furiously, "there is that black slut whom you
are fond of. Well, if I can't hurt you, I can hurt her. Daughter of
Seyapi, you know how runaways die in Zululand, or if you don't you shall
soon learn. I will pay you back for all your tricks," and he stopped,
choking with rage.
Noie looked him up and down with her soft, dreamy brown eyes.
"Do you think so, Night-prowler?" she asked. "Do you think that what you
did to the father and his house, you will do to the daughter also? Well,
it is strange, but last night, just before the cock crew, I sat by
Seyapi's grave, and he spoke to me of you, White Man. Listen, now, and I
will tell you what he said," and stepping forward she whispered in his
Rachel, watching, saw the man's swarthy face turn pale as he hearkened,
then he lifted his hand as though to strike her, let it fall again, and
muttering curses in English and in Zulu, turned and walked, or rather
"What did you tell him, Noie?" asked Rachel.
"Never mind, Zoola," she answered. "Perhaps the truth; perhaps what came
into my mind. At any rate I frightened him away. He was making love to
you, was he not, the low _silwana _(wild beast)? Ah! I thought so, for
that he has wished to do for long. And he threatened, did he not? Well,
you are right; he cannot hurt you at all, and me only a little, I think.
But he is very dangerous and very strong, and can hurt others. If your
father is wise he will leave this place, Zoola."
"I think so too," answered Rachel. "Let us go home and tell him so."
MR. DOVE VISITS ISHMAEL
When Rachel and Noie reached the house, which they did not do for some
time, as they waited to make sure that Ishmael had really gone, it was to
see the man himself riding away from its gate.
"Be prepared," said Noie; "I think that he has been here before us to pour
poison into your father's ears."
So it proved to be, indeed, for on the stoep or verandah they found Mr.
Dove walking up and down evidently much disturbed in mind.
"What is all this trouble, Rachel?" he asked. "What have you done to Mr.
Smith"--for Mr. Dove in pursuance of the suggestion made by the man, had
adopted that name for him which he considered less peculiar than Ishmael.
"He has been here much upset, declaring that you have used him cruelly,
and that Nonha threatened him with terrible things in the future, of
which, of course, she can know nothing."
"Well, father, if you wish to hear," answered Rachel, "Mr. Ishmael, or Mr.
Smith as you call him, has been asking me to marry him, and when I
refused, as of course I did, behaved very unpleasantly."
"Indeed, Rachel. I gathered from him that something of the sort had
happened, only his story is that it was you who behaved unpleasantly,
speaking to him as though he were dirt. Now, Rachel, of course I do not
want you to marry this person, in fact, I should dislike it, although I
have seen a great change for the better in him lately--I mean spiritually,
of course--and an earnest repentance for the errors of his past life. All
I mean is that the proffered affection of an honest man should not be met
with scorn and sharp words."
Up to this point Rachel endured the lecture in silence, but now she could
bear no more.
"Honest man!" she exclaimed. "Father, are you deaf and blind, or only so
good yourself that you cannot see evil in others? Do you know that it was
this 'honest man' who brought about the murder of all Noie's people in
order that he might curry favour with the Zulus?"
Mr. Dove started, and turning, asked:
"Is that so, Nonha?"
"It is so, Teacher," answered Noie, "although I have never spoken of it to
you. Afterwards I will tell you the story, if you wish."
"And do you know," went on Rachel, "why he will never let you visit his
kraal among the hills yonder? Well, I will tell you. It is because this
'honest man,' who wishes me to marry him, keeps his Kaffir wives and
"Rachel!" replied her father, in much distress, "I will never believe it;
you are only repeating native scandal. Why, he has often spoken to me with
horror of such things."
"I daresay he has, father. Well, now, I ask you to judge for yourself.
Take a guide and start two hours before daybreak to-morrow morning to
visit that kraal, and see if what I say is not true."
"I will, indeed," exclaimed Mr. Dove, who was now thoroughly aroused, for
it was conduct of this sort that had caused his bitter quarrel with the
first settlers in Natal. "I cannot believe the story, Rachel, I really
cannot; but I promise you that if I should find cause to do so, the man
shall never put foot in my house again."
"Then I think that I am rid of him," said Rachel, with a sigh of relief,
"only be careful, dear, that he does not do you a mischief, for such men
do not like to be found out." Then she left the stoep, and went to tell
her mother all that had happened.
When she had heard the story, Mrs. Dove, who detested Ishmael as much as
her daughter did, tried to persuade her husband not to visit his kraal,
saying that it would only breed a feud, and that under the circumstances,
it would be easy to forbid him the house upon other grounds. But Mr. Dove,
obstinate as usual, refused to listen to her, saying that he would not
judge the man without evidence, and that of the natives could not be
relied on. Also, if the tale were true, it was his duty as his spiritual
adviser to remonstrate with him.
So his poor wife gave up arguing, as she always did, and long before dawn
on the following morning, Mr. Dove, accompanied by two guides, departed
upon his errand.
After he had ridden some twelve miles across the plain which lay behind
Ramah, just at daybreak, he reached a pass or nek between two swelling
hills, beyond which the guides said lay the kraal that was called Mafooti.
Presently he saw it, a place situated in a cup-like valley, chosen
evidently because the approaches to it were easy to defend. On a knoll in
the centre of this rich valley stood the kraal, a small native town
surrounded by walls, and stone enclosures full of cattle. As they
approached the kraal, from its main entrance issued four or five
good-looking native women, one of them accompanied by a boy, and all
carrying hoes in their hands, for they were going out at sunrise to work
in the mealie fields. When they saw Mr. Dove they stood still, staring at
him, till he called to them not to be afraid, and riding up, asked them
who they were.
"We are of the number of the wives of Ibubesi, the Lion," answered their
spokeswoman, who held the little boy by the hand.
"Do you mean the _Umlungu_ (that is, the white man), Ishmael?" he asked
"Whom else should we mean?" she answered. "I am his head wife, now that he
has put away old Mami, and this is his son. If the light were stronger you
would see that he is almost white," she added, with pride.
Mr. Dove knew not what to answer; this intelligence overwhelmed him, and
he sat silent on his horse. The wives of Ishmael prepared to pass on to
the mealie fields, then stopped, and began to whisper together. At length
the mother of the boy turned and addressed him, while the others crowded
behind her to listen.
"We desire to ask you a question, Teacher," she said, somewhat shyly, for
evidently they knew well enough who he was. "Is it true that we are to
have a new sister?"
"A new sister! What do you mean?" asked Mr. Dove.
"We mean, Teacher," she replied smiling, "that we have heard that Ibubesi
is courting the beautiful Zoola, the daughter of your head wife, and we
thought that perhaps you had come to arrange about the cattle that he must
pay for her. Doubtless if she is so fair, it will be a whole herd."
This was too much, even for Mr. Dove.
"How dare you talk so, you heathen hussies?" he gasped. "Where is the
"Teacher," she replied with indignation, and drawing herself up, "why do
you call us bad names? We are respectable women, the wives of one husband,
as respectable as your own, although not so numerous, or so we hear from
Ibubesi. If you desire to see him, he is in the big hut, yonder, with our
youngest sister, she whom he married last month. We wish you good day, as
we go to hoe our lord's fields, and we hope that when she comes, the
Inkosazana, your daughter, will not be as rude as you are, for if so, how
shall we love her as we wish to do?" Then wrapping her blanket round her
with a dignified air, the offended lady stalked off, followed by her
As for Mr. Dove, who for once in his life was in a towering rage, he cut
his horse viciously with the sjambok, or hippopotamus-hide whip, which he
carried, and followed by his guides, galloped forward to a big hut in the
centre of the kraal.
Apparently Ishmael heard the sound of his horse's hoofs, for as the
missionary was dismounting he crawled out of the bee-hole of the hut upon
his hands and knees, as a Kaffir does, followed by a young woman in the
lightest of attire, who was yawning as though she had just been aroused
from sleep. What is more, except for the colour of his skin, he _was_ a
Kaffir and nothing else, for his costume consisted of a skin moocha such
as the natives wear, and a fur kaross thrown over his shoulders.
Straightening himself, Ishmael saw for the first time who was his visitor.
His jaw dropped, and he uttered an ejaculation that need not be recorded,
then stood silent. Mr. Dove was silent also; for his wrath would not allow
him to speak.
"How do you do, sir?" Ishmael jerked out at last. "You are an early
visitor, and find me somewhat unprepared. If I had known that you were
coming I would"--then suddenly he remembered his attire, or the lack of
it, also his companion who was leaning on his shoulder, and peeping at the
white man over it. Drawing the kaross tightly about him, he gave the poor
girl a backward kick, and with a Kaffir oath bade her begone, then went on
hurriedly: "I am afraid my dress is not quite what you are accustomed to,
but among these poor heathens I find it necessary to conform more or less
to their ways in order to gain their confidence and--um--affection. Will
you come into the hut? My servant there will get you some _tywala_ (Kaffir
beer)--I mean some _amasi_ (curdled milk) at once, and I will have a calf
killed for breakfast."
Mr. Dove could bear it no longer.
"Ishmael, or Smith, or Ibubesi--whichever name you may prefer," he broke
out, "do not lie to me about your servant, for now I know all the truth,
which I refused to believe when my daughter and Nonha told it me. You are
a black-hearted villain. But yesterday you dared to come and ask Rachel to
marry you, and now I find that you are living--oh! I cannot say it, it
makes me ashamed of my race. Listen to me, sir. If ever you dare to set
foot in Ramah again, or to speak to my wife and daughter, the Kaffirs
shall whip you off the place. Indeed," he added, shaking his sjambok in
Ishmael's face, "although I am an older man than you are, were it not for
my office I would give you the thrashing you deserve."
At first Ishmael had shrunk beneath this torrent of invective, but the
threat of violence roused his fierce nature. His face grew evil, and his
long black hair and beard bristled with wrath.
"You had best get out of this, you prayer-snuffling old humbug," he said
savagely, "for if you stop much longer I will make you sing another tune.
We have sea-cow whips here, too, and you shall learn what a hiding means,
such a hiding that your own family won't know you, if you live to get back
to them. Look here, I offered to marry your daughter on the square, and I
meant what I said. I'd have got rid of all this black baggage, and she
should have been the only one. Well, I'll marry her yet, only now she'll
just take her place with the others. We are all one flesh and blood, black
and white, ain't we? I have often heard you preach it. So what will she
have to complain of?" he sneered. "She can go and hoe mealies like the
As this brutal talk fell upon his ears Mr. Dove's reason departed from him
entirely. After all, he was an English gentleman first, and a clergyman
afterwards; also he loved his daughter, and to hear her spoken of like
this was intolerable to him, as it would have been to any father. Lifting
the sjambok he cut Ishmael across the mouth so sharply that the blood came
from his lips, then suddenly remembering that this deed would probably
mean his death, stood still awaiting the issue. As it chanced it did not,
for the man, like most brutes and bullies, was a coward, as Rachel had
already found out. Obeying his first impulse he sprang at the clergyman
with an oath, then seeing that his two guides, who carried assegais, had
ranged themselves beside him, checked himself, for he feared lest those
spears should pierce his heart.
"You are in my house," he said, wiping the blood from his beard, "and an
old man, so I can't kill you as I would anyone else. But you have made me
your enemy now, you fool, and others can. I have protected you so far for
your daughter's sake, but I won't do it any longer. You think of that when
your time comes."
"My time, like yours, will come when God wills," answered Mr. Dove
unflinchingly, "not when you or anyone else wills. I do not fear you in
the least. Still, I am sorry that I struck you, it was a sin of which I
repent as I pray that you may repent."
Then he mounted his horse and rode away from the kraal Mafooti.
* * * * *
When Mr. Dove reached Ramah he only said to Rachel that what she had heard
was quite true, and that he had forbidden Ishmael the house. Of course,
however, Noie soon learnt the whole story from the Kaffir guides, and
repeated it to her mistress. To his wife, on the other hand, he told
everything, with the result that she was very much disturbed. She pointed
out to him that this white outcast was a most dangerous man, who would
certainly be revenged upon them in one way or another. Again she implored
him, as she had often done before, to leave these savage countries wherein
he had laboured for all the best years of his life, saying that it was not
right that he should expose their daughter to the risks of them.
"But," answered her husband, "you have often told me that you were sure no
harm would come to Rachel, and I think that, too."
"Yes, dear, I am sure; still, for many reasons it does not seem right to
keep her here." She did not add, poor, unselfish woman, that there was
another who should be considered as well as Rachel.
"How can I go away," he went on excitedly, "just when all the seed that I
have sown is ripening to harvest? If I did so, my work would be utterly
lost, and my people relapse into barbarism again. I am not afraid of this
man, or of anything that he can do to my body, but if I ran away from him
it would be injuring my soul, and what account should I give of my
cowardice when my time comes? Do you go, my love, and take Rachel with you
if you wish, leaving me to finish my work alone."
But now, as before, Mrs. Dove would not go, and Rachel, when she was
asked, shrugged her shoulders and answered laughing that she was not
afraid of anybody or anything, and, except for her mother's sake, did not
care whether she went or stayed. Certainly she would not leave her, nor,
she added, did she wish to say goodbye to Africa.
When she was asked why, she replied vaguely that she had grown up there,
and it was her home. But her mother, watching her, knew well enough that
she had another reason, although no word of it every passed her lips. In
Africa she had met Richard Darrien as a child, and in Africa and nowhere
else she believed she would meet him again as a woman.
The weeks and months went by, bringing to the Ramah household no sight or
tidings of the white man, Ishmael. They heard through the Kaffirs, indeed,
that although he still kept his kraal at Mafooti, he himself had gone away
on some trading journey far to the north, and did not expect to return for
a year, news at which everyone rejoiced, except Noie, who shook her wise
little head and said nothing.
So all fear of the man gradually died away, and things were very peaceful
and prosperous at Ramah.
In fact this quiet proved to be but the lull before the storm.
One day, about eight months after Mr. Dove had visited the kraal Mafooti,
another embassy came to Rachel from the Zulu king, Dingaan, bringing with
it a present of more white cattle. She received them as she had done
before, at night and alone, for they refused to speak to her in the
presence of other people.
In substance their petition was the same that it had been before, namely,
that she would visit Zululand, as the king and his indunas desired her
counsel upon an important matter. When asked what this matter was they
either were, or pretended to be, ignorant, saying that it had not been
confided to them. Thereon she said that if Dingaan chose to submit the
question to her by messenger, she would give him her opinion on it, but
that she could not come to his kraal. They asked why, seeing that the
whole nation would guard her, and no hair of her head be harmed.
"Because I am a child in the house of my people, and they will not allow
me to leave even for a day," she answered, thinking that this reply would
appeal to a race who believe absolutely in obedience to parents and every
"Is it so?" remarked the old induna who spoke as Dingaan's Mouth--not
Mopo, but another. "Now, how can the Inkosazana-y-Zoola, before whom a
whole nation will bow, be in bonds to a white _Umfundusi_, a mere
sky-doctor? Shall the wide heavens obey a cloud?"
"If they are bred of that cloud," retorted Rachel.
"The heavens breed the cloud, not the cloud the heavens," answered the
Now it occurred to Rachel that this thing was going further than it
should. To be set up as a kind of guardian spirit to the Zulus had seemed
a very good joke, and naturally appealed to the love of power which is
common to women. But when it involved, at any rate in the eyes of that
people, dominion over her own parents, the joke was, she felt, becoming
serious. So she determined suddenly to bring it to an end.
"What mean you, Messenger of the King?" she asked. "I am but the child of
my parents, and the parents are greater than the child, and must be obeyed
"Inkosazana," answered the old man with a deprecatory smile, "if it
pleases you to tell us such tales, our ears must listen, as if it pleased
you to order us to be killed, we must be killed. But learn that we know
the truth. We know how as a child you came down from above in the
lightning, and how these white people with whom you dwell found you lying
in the mist on the mountain top, and took you to their home in place of a
babe whom they had buried."
"Who told you that story?" asked Rachel amazed.
"It was revealed to the council of the doctors, Lady."
"Then that was revealed which is not true. I was born as other women are,
and my name of 'Lady of the Heavens' came to me by chance, as by chance I
resemble the Spirit of your people."
"We hear you," answered the "Mouth" politely. "You were born as other
women are, by chance you had your high name, by chance you are tall and
fair and golden-haired like the Spirit of our people. We hear you."
Then Rachel gave it up.
"Bear my words to the King," she said, and they rose, saluted her with a
Bayete, that royal salute which never before had been given to woman, and
When they had gone Rachel went into supper and told her parents all the
story. Mr. Dove, now that she seemed to take a serious view of the matter,
affected to treat it as absurd, although when she had laughed, his
attitude, it may be remembered, was different. He talked of the silly Zulu
superstitions, showed how they had twisted up the story of the death of
her baby brother, and her escape from the flood in the Umtavuna river,
into that which they had narrated to her. He even suggested that the whole
thing was nonsense, part of some political move to enable the King, or a
party in the state, to declare that they had with them the word of their
traditional spirit and oracle.
Mrs. Dove, however, who that night was strangely depressed and uneasy,
thought far otherwise. She pointed out that they were playing with vast
and cruel forces, and that whatever these people exactly believed about
Rachel, it was a dreadful thing for a girl to be put in a position in
which the lives of hundreds might hang upon her nod.
"Yes, and," she added hysterically, "perhaps our own lives also--perhaps
our own lives also!"
To change the conversation, which was growing painful, Rachel asked if
anyone had seen Noie. Her father answered that two hours ago, just before
the embassy arrived, he had met her going down to the banks of the stream,
as he supposed, to gather flowers for the table. Then he began to talk
about the girl, saying what a sweet creature she was, and how strange it
seemed to him that although she appeared to accept all the doctrines of
the Christian faith, as yet she had never consented to be baptised.
It was while he was speaking thus that Rachel suddenly observed her mother
fall forward, so that her body rested on the table, as though a kind of
fit had seized her. Rachel sprang towards her, but before she reached her
she appeared to have quite recovered, only her face looked very white.
"What on earth is the matter, mother?"
"Oh! don't ask me," she answered, "a terrible thing, a sort of fancy that
came to me from talking about those Zulus. I thought I saw this place all
red with blood and tongues of fire licking it up. It went as quickly as it
came, and of course I know that it is nonsense."
THE TAKING OF NOIE
Presently Mrs. Dove, who seemed to have quite recovered from, her curious
seizure, went to bed.
"I don't like it, father," said Rachel when the door had closed behind
her. "Of course it is contrary to experience and all that, but I believe
that mother is fore-sighted."
"Nonsense, dear, nonsense," said her father. "It is her Scotch
superstition, that is all. We have been married for five-and-twenty years
now, and I have heard this sort of thing again and again, but although we
have lived in wild places where anything might happen to us, nothing out
of the way ever has happened; in fact, we have always been most mercifully
"That's true, father, still I am not sure; perhaps because I am rather
that way myself, sometimes. Thus I _know_ that she is right about me; no
harm will happen to me, at least no permanent harm. I feel that I shall
live out my life, as I feel something else."
"What else, Rachel?"
"Do you remember the lad, Richard Darrien?" she asked, colouring a little.
"What? The boy who was with you that night on the island? Yes, I remember
him, although I have not thought of him for years."
"Well, I feel that I shall see him again."
Mr. Dove laughed. "Is that all?" he said. "If he is still alive and in
Africa, it wouldn't be very wonderful if you did, would it? And at any
rate, of course, you will one day when we all cease to be alive. Really,"
he added with irritation, "there are enough bothers in life without
rubbish of this kind, which comes from living among savages and absorbing
their ideas. I am beginning to think that I shall have to give way and
leave Africa, though it will break my heart just when, after all the
striving, my efforts are being crowned with success."
"I have always told you, father, that I don't want to leave Africa,
still, there is mother to be considered. Her health is not what it was."
"Well," he said impatiently, "I will talk to her and weigh the thing.
Perhaps I shall receive guidance, though for my part I cannot see what it
matters. We've got to die some time, and if necessary I prefer that it
should be while doing my duty. 'Take no thought for the morrow, sufficient
unto the day is the evil thereof,' has always been my motto, who am
content with what it pleases Providence to send me."
Then Rachel, seeing no use in continuing the conversation, bade him
good-night, and went to look for Noie, only to discover that she was not
in the house. This disturbed her very much, although it occurred to her
that she might possibly be with friends in the village, hiding till she
was sure the Zulu embassy had gone. So she went to bed without troubling
At daybreak next morning she rose, not having slept very well, and went
out to look for the girl, without success, for no one had heard or seen
anything of her. As she was returning to the house, however, she met a
solitary Zulu, a dignified middle-aged man, whom she thought she
recognised as one of the embassy, although of this she could not be sure,
as she had only seen these people in the moonlight. The man, who was quite
unarmed, except for a kerry which he carried, crouched down on catching
sight of heir in token of respect. As she approached he rose, and gave her
the royal salute. Then she was sure.
"Speak," she said.
"Inkosazana," he answered humbly, "be not angry with me, I am Tamboosa,
one of the King's indunas. You saw me with the others last night."
"I saw you."
"Inkosazana, there has been dwelling with you one Noie, the daughter of
Seyapi the wizard, who with all his house was slain at this place by order
of the King. She also should have been slain, but we have learned that you
called down lightning from Heaven, and that with it you slew the soldier
who had run her down, slew him and burned him up, as you had the right to
do, and took the girl to be your slave, as you had the right to do."
"Speak on," said Rachel, showing none of the surprise which she felt.
"Inkosazana, we know that you have come to love this girl. Therefore,
yesterday before we spoke with you we seized her as we were commanded, and
hid her away, awaiting your answer to our message. Had you consented to
visit the King at his Great Place, we would have let her go. But as you
did not consent my companions have taken her to the King."
"An ill deed. What more, Tamboosa?"
"This; the King says by my mouth--Let the Inkosazana come and command, and
her servant Noie shall go free and unharmed, for is she not a dog in her
hut? But if she comes not and at once, then the girl dies."
"How know I that this tale is true, Tamboosa?" asked Rachel, controlling
herself with an effort, for she loved Noie dearly.
The man turned towards some bushes that grew at a distance of about twenty
paces, and cried: "Come hither."
Thereon from among the bushes where she lay hidden, rose a little maid of
about fourteen, whom Rachel knew well as a girl that Noie often took with
her to carry baskets and other things.
"Tell now the tale of the taking of Noie and deliver the message that she
gave to you," commanded Tamboosa.
Thereon the trembling child began, and after the native fashion,
suppressing no detail or circumstance, however small, narrated how the
Zulus had surprised her and Noie while they were gathering flowers, and
having bound their arms, had caused them to be hurried away unseen to some
dense bush about four miles off. Here they had been kept hidden till in
the night the embassy returned. Then they had spoken with Noie, who in the
end called her and gave her a message. This was the message: "Say to the
Inkosazana that the Zulus have caught me, and are taking me to Dingaan the
King. Say that they declare that if she is pleased to come and speak the
word, I shall be set free unharmed, that is, if she comes at once. But if
she does not come, then I shall be killed. Say to her that I do not ask
that she should come who am ready to die, and that though I believe that
no harm will happen to her in Zululand, I think that she had better not
come. Say that, living or dead, I love her."
Then the maid described how the embassy went on with Noie, leaving her in
the charge of the man Tamboosa, who at the first break of dawn brought her
back to Ramah, and made her hide in the bush.
Now Rachel had no more doubts. Clearly the tale was true, and the question
was--what must be done? She thought a while, then bade Tamboosa and the
child to follow her to the mission-house. On the stoep she found her
father and mother sitting in the sun and drinking coffee, after the South
"What is it?" asked Mr. Dove, looking at the man anxiously.
Rachel ordered him to repeat his story, and this he did, addressing Rachel
alone, for of her father and mother he would take no notice. When he had
done the child told her tale also.
"Go now, and wait without," said Rachel, when it was finished.
"Inkosazana, I go," answered the man, "but if it pleases you to save your
servant, know that you must come swiftly. If you are not across the Tugela
by sunset this night, word will be passed to the King, and she dies at
once. Know also that you must come alone with me, for if any, white or
black, accompany you, they will be killed."
"Now," said Rachel when the three of them were left alone, "now what is to
Mrs. Dove shook her head helplessly, and looked at her husband, who broke
into a tirade against the Zulus, their superstitions, cruelties, customs,
and everything that was theirs, and ended by declaring that it was of
course utterly impossible that Rachel should go upon such a mad errand,
and thus place herself in the power of savages.
"But, father," she said when he had done, "do you understand that you are
pronouncing Noie's death sentence? If you were in my place, would you not
"Of course I would. In fact I propose to do so as it is. No doubt Dingaan
will listen to me."
"You mean that Dingaan will kill you. Did you not hear what that man
Tamboosa said? Father, you must not go."
"No, John," broke in Mrs. Dove, "Rachel is right, you must not go, for you
would never come back again. Also, how can you be so cruel as to think of
leaving me here alone?"
"Then I suppose that we must abandon that poor girl to her fate,"
exclaimed Mr. Dove.
"How can you suppose anything so merciless, father, when it is in my power
to save her?" asked Rachel. "If I let those horrible Zulus kill her I
shall never be happy again all my life."
"And what if the horrible Zulus kill you?"
"They will not kill me, father; mother knows they will not, and so do I.
But as they have got this madness into their heads, I am sure that if I do
not go they will send an impi here to kill everybody else, and take me
prisoner. The kidnapping of Noie is only a first move. It is one of two
things: either I must visit Zululand, save Noie, and play my part there as
best I can, or we must desert Noie, and all leave this place at once,
tomorrow if possible. But then, as I told you, I shall never forgive
myself, especially as I am not in the least afraid of the Zulus."
"It is true that God can protect you as much in Zululand as He can here,"
replied Mr. Dove, beginning to weaken in face of this desperate
"Of course, father, but if I go to Zululand I want you and mother to trek
to Durban, and remain there till I return."
"Why, Rachel? It is absurd."
"Because I do not think that you are safe here, and it is not at all
absurd," she answered stubbornly. "These people choose to believe that I
am in some way in bondage to you; you remember all their talk about the
heavens and the cloud. Of course it may mean nothing, but you will be much
better in Durban for a while, where you can take to the water if
Now Mr. Dove's obstinacy asserted itself. He refused to entertain any such
idea, giving reason after reason why he should not do so. Thus for another
half hour the argument raged till at length a compromise was arrived at,
as usual in such cases, not of too satisfactory an order. Rachel was to be
allowed to undertake her mission on behalf of Noie, and her parents were
to remain at Ramah. On her return, which they hoped would be within a week
or eight days, the question of the abandonment of the mission was to be
settled by the help of the experience she had gained. To this arrangement,
then, they agreed, reluctantly enough all of them, in order, to save
Noie's life, and for no other reason.
The momentous decision once taken, in half an hour Rachel was ready for
her journey, which she determined she would make upon her own horse, a
grey mare that she had ridden for a long while, and could rely on in every
way. The white riding-ox that Dingaan had sent as a present was also to
accompany her, to carry her spare garments and other articles packed in
skin bags, such as coffee, sugar and a few medicines, and to serve as a
remount in case anything should happen to the horse. When it was laden
Rachel sent for the Zulu, Tamboosa, and, pointing to the ox, said:
"I come to visit Dingaan the king, and to claim my servant. Lead the beast
on, I will overtake you presently."
The man saluted and began to _bonga_, that is, to give her titles of
praise, but she cut him short with a wave of her hand, and he departed
leading the ox.
Now while Mr. Dove saw to the saddling of the horses, for he was to ride
with her as far as the Tugela, Rachel went to bid farewell to her mother.
She found her by herself in the sitting-room, seated at an open window,
and looking out sadly towards the sea.
"I am quite ready, dear," she said in a cheerful voice. "Don't look so
sad, I shall be back again in a week with Noie."
"Yes," answered Mrs. Dove, "I think that you and Noie will come back
safely, but--" and she paused.
"But what, mother?"
"Oh! I don't know. I am very much oppressed, my heart is heavy in me. I
hate parting with you, Rachel. Remember we have never been separated since
you were born."
Her daughter looked at her, and was filled with grief and compunction.
"Mother," she said, "if you feel like that--well, I love Noie, but after
all you are more to me than Noie, and if you wish I will give up this
business and stop with you. It is very terrible, but it can't be helped;
Noie will understand, poor thing," and her eyes filled with tears at the
thought of the girl's dreadful fate.
"No, Rachel, somehow I think it best that you should go, not only for
Noie's sake, but for your own. If your father would leave here to-day or
to-morrow, as you suggested, it might be otherwise, but he won't do that,
so it is no use talking of it. Let us hope for the best."
"As you wish, mother."
"Now, dear kiss me and go. I hear your father calling you; and, Rachel, if
we should not meet again in this world, I know you won't forget me, or
that there is another where we shall. I did not want to frighten you with
my fancies, which come from my not being well. Goodbye, my love, good-bye.
God be with you, and make you happy, always--always."
Then Rachel kissed her in silence, for she could not trust herself to
speak, and turning, left the room whence her mother watched her go, also
in silence. In another minute she was mounted, and, accompanied by her
father, riding on the road along which Tamboosa had led the white ox.
Presently they overtook him, whereon he stopped, and looking at Mr. Dove,
"Inkosazana, the King's orders are that none should accompany you into
"Be silent," answered Rachel, proudly. "He rides with me as far as the
Then they went on, and Rachel was relieved to find that whatever might
have been her mother's mood, that of her father was fairly cheerful.
Indeed, his mind was so occupied with the details and object of her
journey that he quite forgot its dangers.
Two hours' steady riding brought them to the ford of the Tugela river,
across which lay Zululand. On the hills beyond it they could see a number
of Kaffirs watching, who on catching sight of Rachel, ran down to the
river and entered it, shouting and beating the water with their sticks, as
she guessed, to scare away any crocodiles that might be lurking there.
Now that the moment of separation had come, Mr. Dove grew loth to part
with his daughter, and again suggested to Tamboosa that he should
accompany her to Dingaan's Great Place.
"If you set a foot across that river, Praying Man," answered the induna
grimly, "you shall die; look, there are the spears that will kill you."
As he spoke he pointed to the crest of the opposing hill over which,
running swiftly in ordered companies, now appeared a Zulu regiment who
carried large white shields and wore white plumes rising from their head
"It is the escort of the Inkosazana," he added. "Do you think that she can
take hurt among so many? And do you think, if you dare to disobey the
words of Dingaan, that you can escape so many? Go back new, lest they
should come over and kill you where you are."
Then, seeing that both argument and resistance were useless, and that
Tamboosa would brook no delay, Mr. Dove hurriedly embraced his daughter in
farewell. Indeed, Rachel was glad that there was no time for words, for
this parting was more terrible to her than she cared to own, and she
feared lest she should break down before the Zulu who was watching her,
and thereby be lowered in his eyes and in those of his people.
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