The Ghost Kings
H. Rider Haggard
Part 3 out of 7
It was over and done. She had entered the water, riding her grey mare
while Tamboosa led the white ox at her side. Presently she looked, back,
and saw her father kneeling in prayer upon the bank.
"What does the man?" asked Tamboosa, uneasily. "Is he bewitching us?"
"Nay," she answered, "he prays to the Heavens for us."
On they went between the two lines of natives, who ceased their beating of
the water, and were silent as she passed. The river was shallow, and they
crossed it with ease. By now the regiment was gathered on its further
bank, two thousand men or more, brought hither to do honour to this white
girl in whom they chose to consider that the guardian spirit of their
people was incarnate. Contemplating them, Rachel wondered how it came
about that they should be thus prepared for her advent. The answer rose in
her mind. If she had refused to visit Zululand, it was their mission to
fetch her. It was wise, therefore, that she had come of her own will.
Forward she rode, a striking figure in her long white cloak, down which
her bright hair hung, sitting very proud and upright on her horse, without
a sign of doubt or fear. As she approached, the captains of the regiment
ran forward to meet her with lifted shield and crouching bodies.
"Hail!" cried their leader. "In the name of the Great Elephant, of Dingaan
the King, hail to thee, Princess of the Heavens, Holder of the Spirit of
Rachel rode on, taking no notice, marvelling who Nomkubulwana, whose
spirit she was supposed to enshrine, might be. Afterwards she discovered
that it was only another name for the Inkosazana-y-Zoola, that mysterious
white ghost believed by this people to control their destinies, with whom
it had pleased them to identify her. As her horse left the wide river and
set foot upon dry land, every man of the two thousand soldiers, who were
watching, as it seemed to her, with wonder and awe, began to beat his
ox-hide shield with the handle of his spear. They beat very softly at
first, producing a sound like the distant murmur of the sea, then harder
and harder till its volume grew to a mighty roar, impossible to describe,
a sound like the sound of thunder that echoed along the water and from
hill to hill. The mighty noise sank and died away as it had begun, and for
a moment there was silence. Then at some signal every spear flashed aloft
in the sunlight, and from every throat came the royal salute--_Bayete_. It
was a tremendous and most imposing welcome, so tremendous that Rachel
could no longer doubt that this people regarded her as a being apart, and
above the other white folk whom they knew.
At the time, however, she had little space for such thoughts, since the
mare she rode, terrified by the tumult, bucked and shied so violently that
she could scarcely keep her seat. She was a good rider, which was
fortunate for her, since, had she been ignominiously thrown upon such an
occasion, her prestige must have suffered, if indeed it were not
destroyed. As it proved, it was greatly enhanced by this accident. Many of
the Zulus of that day had never even seen a horse, which was considered by
all of them to be a dangerous if not a magical beast. That a woman could
remain seated on such a wild animal when it sprang into the air, and
swerved from side to side, struck them, therefore, as something marvellous
and out of experience, a proof indeed that she was not as others are.
She quieted the mare, and rode on between the white-shielded ranks, who,
their greeting finished, remained absolutely still like bronze statues
watching her with wondering eyes. When at length they were passed, the
captains and a guard of about fifty men ran ahead of her.
Then she came, and after her Tamboosa, leading the white ox, followed by
another guard, which in turn was followed by the entire regiment. Thus
royally escorted, asking no questions, and speaking no word, did Rachel
make her entry into Zululand. Only in her heart she wondered whither she
was going, and how that strange journey would end, wondered, too, how it
would fare with her father and her mother till she returned to them.
Well might she wonder.
When she had ridden thus for about two hours an incident occurred which
showed her how great, and indeed how dreadful was the eminence on which
she had been set among these people. Suddenly some cattle, frightened by
the approach of the impi, rushed through it towards their kraal, and a
bull that was with them, seeing this unaccustomed apparition of a white
woman mounted on a strange animal, put down its head and charged her
furiously. She saw it coming, and by pulling the mare on to its haunches,
avoided its rush. Now at the time she was riding on a path which ran along
the edge of a little rock-strewn donga not more than eight or ten feet
deep, but steep-sided. Into this donga the bull, which had shut its eyes
to charge after the fashion of its kind, plunged headlong, and as it
chanced struck its horns against a stone, twisting and dislocating the
neck, so that it lay there still and dead.
When the Zulus saw what had happened they uttered a long-drawn _Ow-w_ of
amazement, for had not the beast dared to attack the White Spirit, and had
not the Spirit rewarded it with instant death? Then a captain made a
motion with his hand and instantly men sprang upon the remaining cattle,
four or five of them that were following the bull, and despatched them
with assegais. Before Rachel could interfere they were pierced with a
hundred wounds. Now there was a little pause, while the carcases of the
beasts were dragged out of her path, and the bloodstains covered from her
eyes with fresh earth. Just as this task was finished there appeared,
scrambling up the denga, and followed, by some men, a fat and
hideous-looking woman, with fish bladders in her hair, and snake-skins
tied about her, who, from her costume, Rachel knew at once must be an
_Isanuzi_ or witch-doctoress. Evidently she was in a fury, as might be seen
by the workings of her face, and the extraordinary swiftness with which
she moved notwithstanding her years and bulk.
"Who has dared to kill my cattle?" she screamed. "Is it thou whom men name
"Woman," answered Rachel quietly, "the Heavens killed the bull which would
have hurt me. For the rest, ask of the captains of the King."
The witch-doctoress glanced at the dead bull which lay in the donga, its
head twisted up in an unnatural fashion at right angles to the body, and
for a moment seemed afraid. Then her rage at the loss of her herd broke
out afresh, for she was a person in authority, one accustomed to be feared
because of her black arts and her office.
"When the Inkosazana is seen in Zululand," she gasped, "death walks with
her. There is the token of it," and she pointed to the dead cattle. "So it
has ever been and so shall it ever be. Red is thy road through life, White
One. Go back, go back now to thine own kraal, and see whether or no my
words are true," and springing at the horse she seized it by the bridle as
though she would drag it round.
Now in her hand Rachel held a little rod of white rhinoceros horn which
she used as a riding whip, and with this rod she pointed at the woman,
meaning that some of those with her should cause her to loose the bridle.
Too late she remembered that in this savage land such a motion when made
by the King or one in supreme command, had another dreadful
interpretation--death without pity or reprieve.
In an instant, before she could interfere, before she could speak, the
witch-doctoress lay dead upon the carcase of the dead bull.
"What of the others, Queen, what of the others?" asked the chief of the
slayers, bending low before her, and pointing with his spear to the
attendants of the witch-doctoress, who fled aghast. "Do they join this
evil-doer who dared to lift her hand against thee?"
"Nay," she answered in a low voice, for horror had made her almost dumb.
"I give them life. Forward."
"She gives them life!" shouted the praisers about her. "The Bearer of life
and death gives life to the children of the evil-doer," and as the great
cavalcade marched forward, company after company took up these words and
sang them as a song.
THE OMEN OF THE STAR
As it chanced and can easily be understood, Rachel could not have made a
more effective entry into Zululand, or one more calculated to confirm her
supernatural reputation. When the "wild beast" she rode plunged about she
had remained seated on it as though she grew there, whereas every warrior
knew that he would have fallen off. When the bull charged her that bull
had died, slain by the Heavens. When the Isanuzi, a witch of repute, had
lifted voice and hand against her she had commanded her death, showing
that she feared no rival magic. True the woman would have been killed in
any case, for such was the order of the King as to all who should dare to
affront the Inkosazana, yet the captains had waited to see what Rachel
would do that they might judge her accordingly. If she had shown fear, if
she had even neglected to avenge, they might have marvelled whether after
all she were more than a beautiful white maiden filled with the wisdom of
Now they knew better; she was a Spirit having the power of a Spirit over
beast and man, who smote as a Spirit should. The fame of it went
throughout the land, and little chance thence forward had Rachel of
escaping from the shadow of her own fearful renown.
Towards sundown they came to a kraal set upon a hill, and it was asked of
her if she were pleased to spend the night there. She bowed her head in
assent, and they entered the kraal. It was quite empty save for certain
maidens dressed in bead petticoats, who waited there to serve her. All the
other inhabitants had gone. They took her to a large and beautifully clean
hut. Kneeling on their knees, the maidens presented her with food--meat
and curdled milk, and roasted cobs of corn. She ate of the corn and the
milk, but the meat she sent away as a gift to the captains. Then alone in
that kraal, in which after they had served her even the girls seemed to
fear to stay, Rachel slept as best she might in such solitude, while
without the fence two thousand armed savages watched over her safety.
It was a troubled sleep, for she dreamed always of that dreadful-looking
Isanuzi with the fish-bladders in her hair, yelling to her that her path
through life was watered with blood, and bidding her go back to her own
kraal and see whether the words were true, an ominous saying of which she
could not read the riddle. She dreamed also of the woman's coarse, furious
face turned suddenly to one of abject terror, and then of the dreadful end
the red death without mercy and without appeal which she had let loose by
a motion of her hand. Another dream she had was of her father and her
mother, who seemed to be lying side by side staring towards her with
wide-open eyes, and that when she spoke to them they would not answer.
So the long night wore away, till at length Rachel woke with a start
thinking that a hand had been laid upon her face, to see by the faint
light of dawn which struggled into the hut through the cracks of the
door-boards that the hand was only a great rat that had crawled over her
and now nibbled at her hair. She sat up, frightening it and its companions
away, then rose and washed herself with water that stood by in great
gourds while without she heard the women singing some kind of song or hymn
of which she could not catch the words.
Scarcely was she ready than they entered the hut, saluting her and
bringing more food. Rachel ate, then bade one of them say to the captain
of the impi that she was ready to start. Presently the girl returned with
the message that all was prepared. She walked from the kraal to find her
mare, which had been well fed and groomed by Tamboosa, who had seen horses
in Natal, and knew how they should be treated, saddled and waiting, whilst
before and behind it, arranged as on the previous day, stood the warriors,
who received her in dead, respectful silence.
She mounted, and the procession went forward. With a two hours' halt at
midday they marched on over hill and dale, passing many villages of
beehive-shaped huts. As they came the inhabitants of these places deserted
them and fled, crying _"Nomkubulwana! Nomkubulwana!"_ It was evident to
Rachel that the tale of the death of the Isanuzi had preceded her, and
they feared lest, should they cross her path, her fate would be their
fate. Indeed, one of the strangest circumstances of this strange adventure
was the complete loneliness in which she lived. Except those who were
actually ordered to wait upon her, none dared come near to Rachel; she was
holy, a Spirit, to approach whom unbidden might mean death.
At nightfall they reached another empty kraal, where again she slept
alone. When they left it in the morning she called Tamboosa to her and
asked him at what hour they would come to Dingaan's great town,
Umgugundhlovo, which means the Place of the trumpeting of the Elephant. He
answered, at sunset.
So she rode on all that day also till as the sun began to sink, from a
hill whereon grew large euphorbia trees, on a plain backed by mountains,
she saw the town surrounded by a fence, inside of which were thousands of
huts, that in their turn surrounded a great open space. Now they pushed
forward quickly, and as darkness fell approached the main gate of the
place, where, as usual, there was no one to be seen. But here they did not
enter, marching on till they came to another gate, that of the Intunkulu,
the King's house, where, their escort done, the regiment turned and went
away, leaving Rachel alone with the envoy, Tamboosa, who still led the
white ox. They entered this gate, and presently came to a second. It was
that of the Emposeni, the Dwelling of the King's wives, out of which
appeared women crawling on the ground before Rachel, and holding in their
left hands torches of grass. These undid the baggage from the ox, and at
their signals, for they did not seem to dare to speak to her, Rachel
dismounted. Thereon Tamboosa saluted her, and taking the horse by the
bridle, led it away with the ox.
Then Rachel felt that she was indeed alone, for Tamboosa at any rate had
seen her home, which now was so far away. Still proudly enough she
followed the women, who, bent double as before, led her to a great hut lit
by a rude lamp filled with melted hippopotamus fat, where they set down
her bags, and departed, to return presently with food and water.
Having washed off the dust of her long journey, and combed out her hair,
Rachel ate all she could, for she was hungry, and guessed that she might
need her strength that night. Then she lay down upon a pile of beautiful
karosses that had been placed ready for her, and rested. An hour or more
went by, and just as she was beginning to fall asleep the door-board of
the hut was thrust aside, and a tall woman entered, who knelt to her and
"Hail, Inkosazana! The King asks whether it be thy pleasure to appear
before him this night."
"It is my pleasure," answered Rachel; "for that purpose have I travelled
here. Lead me to the King."
So the woman went out of the hut, Rachel following her to find that the
moon shone brightly in a clear sky. The woman conducted her through
tortuous reed fences, until presently they came to an open court where, in
the shadow of a hut, sat a number of men wrapped about with fur karosses.
Guessing that she was in the presence of Dingaan, Rachel drew her white
cloak round her tall form and walked forward slowly, till she reached the
centre of the space, where she stopped and stood quite still, looking like
a ghost in the moonlight. Then all the men to right and left rose and
saluted her silently by the uplifting of one arm; only he who was in the
midst of them remained seated and did not salute. Still she stayed
motionless, uttering no word for a long while, six or seven minutes,
perhaps. Her silence fought against theirs, and she knew that the one who
spoke first would own to inferiority.
At length, in answering salutation, she lifted the little wand of white
horn that she carried and turned slowly as though to leave the place, so
that now the moonlight glistened on her lovely hair. Then, fearing perhaps
lest she should depart or vanish away, the man seated in the centre said
in a low half-awed voice:
"I am Dingaan, King of the Amazulu. Say, White One, who art thou?"
"By what name am I known here, O Dingaan the King?" she replied, answering
the question with a question.
"By a high name, White One, a name that is seldom spoken, the name of
Inkosazana-y-Zoola, the title of Nomkubulwana, the Spirit of our people.
How camest thou by that name?"
"My name is my name," she said.
"We know, White One; the wind has borne all that story through the land,
it whispers it from the leaves of the forest and the reeds of the water
and the grass of the plains. We know that the Heavens gave thee their own
name, O Child of Heaven, O Holder of the Spirit of Nomkubulwana."
"Thou sayest it, King. I do not say it, thou sayest it."
"I say it, and having seen thee I know that it is true, for thy beauty,
White One, is not the beauty of woman alone, although still thou beest
woman. Now I confirm to thee the words my messengers bore thee in past
days. Here, with me, thou rulest. The land is thine, my impis wait thy
word. Death and life are in thy hands; command, and they go forth to slay;
command, and they return again. Only thou rulest alone with me, and the
black folk, not the white, shall be thy servants."
"I hear thee, King. Now, as a first fruit, give to me Noie, daughter of
Seyapi, my slave whom the soldiers stole away from Ramah beyond the river
where I dwell."
"She is dead, White One, she is dead for her crimes," answered Dingaan,
looking at her.
Now Rachel's heart sank in her, for it might well be that a trick had been
played on her, and that this was true. Or perhaps this tale of Noie's
death was but a trap to test her powers; moreover, it was not likely that
the King, who had promised that she should live, would dare to break his
word to one whom he believed or half-believed to be a spirit.
For a moment she thought; then, after her nature, determined to be bold
and hazard all upon a throw. Therefore she did not argue or reproach, but
"She is not dead. I have questioned every spear in Zululand, and none of
them is red with her blood."
"Thou art right," he answered; "the spears are clean. She died in the
Now Rachel was sure, and answered in her clear voice:
"I have questioned the waters, and I have questioned the crocodiles, and
they answer that Noie has passed them safely."
"Thou art right, White One. She died by a rope in yonder huts."
Now Rachel looked at the huts and cried:
"Noie, I hear thee, I see thee, I smell thee out. Come forth, Noie."
The King and his councillors stared at her, whispering to one another, and
before ever they had done their whisperings out from among the gloom of
the huts crept Noie.
To Rachel she crept, taking no heed even of the King, and crouching down
in the faint shadow of her that the moonlight threw, she flung her arms
about her knees and pressed her forehead on her feet. Now Rachel's heart
bounded with joy at the sight of her, and she longed to bend down and kiss
her, but did not, lest her great dignity should be lessened in the eyes of
the King; only she said:
"I greet you, Noie; be seated in my shadow, where you are safe, and tell
me, have these men dealt well by you?"
"Not so ill, Inkosazana, that is since I reached the Great Kraal. But one
of them, he who sits yonder," and she pointed to a certain induna, "struck
me on the journey, and took away my food."
Now Rachel looked at the man angrily, playing with the little wand in her
hand, whereon this induna shivered with terror, fearing lest she should
point it at him. Rising, he came to Rachel and flung himself down before
"What have you to say," asked Rachel, "you who have dared to strike my
"Inkosazana," he mumbled, "the maid was obstinate, and tried to run away,
and our orders were to bring her to the King. Spare my life, I pray thee."
"King," said Rachel, "I have power over this man, have I not?"
"It is so," answered Dingaan. "Kill him if thou wilt."
Rachel seemed to consider while the poor wretch, with chattering teeth,
implored her to forgive. Then she turned to Noie, saying:
"He struck you, not me. I give him to you to do by as you will. Shall he
sleep to-night with the living or the dead?"
Noie looked at him, and next at a mark on her arm, and the induna, ceasing
from his prayers to Rachel, clutched Noie by the ankle, and begged her
"Your life has been given to you," he said, "give mine to me, lest
ill-fortune follow you."
"Do you remember," asked Noie contemptuously, "how, when you had beaten
me, yonder by the Tugela, you said you hoped that it would be your luck to
put a spear through this heart of mine? And do you remember that I
answered you that the spear would be over your own heart first, and that
thereon you called me 'Daughter of Wizards' and struck me again--me, the
child of Seyapi, upon whom the mantle of the Inkosazana lies, me who have
drunk of her wisdom and of his--you struck _me_, you dog," and lifting her
foot she spurned him in the face.
Now the King and his company, concluding that the thing was finished,
glanced at Rachel to see her point with the rod and thus give the man to
death. But Rachel waited, sure that Noie had not done. Moreover, whatever
Noie might say, she had determined to save him.
Meanwhile, the girl, after a pause, said:
"Were you a man you would be too proud to ask your life of me, but you are
a dog; and, Dog, I remember that you have children, among them a daughter
of my own age, whom, I saw come out to greet you. For her sake, then, take
your life, and with it this new name that I give
So the man rose, and weak with shame and the agony of suspense, crept
swiftly from the place, fearing lest the Inkosazana or her servant might
change her mind and kill him after all. But Noie's name clung to him so
closely that at length, unable to bear the ridicule of it, he and his
family fled from Zululand.
So this matter ended.
Now the King spoke, saying:
"White One, thy magic is great, and thine eyes could pierce the darkness
and see thy servant hidden, and call her forth to thee. Yet know, she is
mine, not thine, for when she fled I had already chosen her to be my wife,
and afterwards I sent and killed the wizard Seyapi, and all his House."
"But this girl thou didst not kill, O King, for I saved her."
"It is so, White One. I have heard lately how thou didst call down the
lightning and burn up my soldier who followed after her, so that nothing
of him remained."
"Yes," said Rachel quietly, "as, were it to please me, I could burn thee
up also, O King," a saying at which. Dingaan looked afraid.
"Yet," he went on, waving his hand as though to put aside this unpleasant
suggestion, "the maid is mine, not thine, and therefore I took her."
"How didst thou learn that she dwelt at my kraal?" asked Rachel.
The King hesitated.
"The white man, Ishmael, he whom thou callest Ibubesi, told thee, did he
Dingaan bowed his head.
"And he told thee that thou couldst make what promises thou wouldst to me
as to the girl's life, but that afterwards when thou hadst called me here
to claim it, thou mightest kill her or keep her as a wife, as it pleased
"I can hide nought from thee; it is so," said Dingaan.
"Is that still in thy mind, O King?" asked Rachel again, beginning to play
with the little wand.
"Not so, not so," he answered hurriedly. "Hadst thou not come the girl
would have died, as she deserved to do according to our law. But thou hast
come and claimed her, O Holder of the Spirit of Nomkubulwana, and she sits
in thy shadow and is clothed with thy garment. Take her then, for
henceforth she is holy, as thou art holy."
Rachel heard, and without any change of countenance waved her hand to show
that this question was finished. Then she asked suddenly:
"What is this great matter whereof thou wouldst speak with me, O King?"
"Surely thy wisdom has told thee, White One," he answered uneasily.
"Perchance, yet I would have it from thy lips, and now."
Now Dingaan consulted a little with his council.
"White One," he said presently, "the thing is grave, and we need guidance.
Therefore, as the circle of the witch-doctors have declared must be done,
we ask it of thee who art named with the name of the Spirit of our people
and hast of her wisdom. Thou knowest, White One, of the fights in past
years between the white people of Natal and the Zulus, in which many were
slain on either side. But now, when we are at peace with the English, we
hear of another white people, the Amaboona" (_i.e._ the Dutch Boers), "who
are marching towards us from the Cape, and have already fought with
Moselikatze--the traitor who was once my captain--and killed thousands of
his men. These Amaboona threaten us also, and say aloud that they will eat
us up, for they are brave and armed with the white man's weapons that spit
out lightning. Now, White One, what shall we do? Shall I send out my impis
and fall on them while they are unprepared, and make an end of them, as
seems wisest, and is the wish of my indunas? Or, shall I sit at home and
watch, trying to be at peace with them, and only strike back if they
strike at me? Answer not lightly, O Zoola, for much may hang upon thy
words. Remember also that he whose name may not be spoken, the Lion who
ruled before me and is gone, with his last breath uttered a certain
prophecy concerning the white people and this land."
"Let me hear that prophecy, O King."
"Come forth," said Dingaan pointing to a councillor who sat in the circle,
"come forth, thou who knowest, and tell the tale in the ears of this White
A figure rose, a draped figure whose face was hidden in a hood of blanket.
It came forward, and as it came it drew the blanket tighter about it.
Rachel, watching all things, saw, or thought she saw, that one of its
hands was white as though it had been burned with fire. Surely she had
seen such a hand before.
"Speak," she said.
"Name me by my name and tell me who I am and I will obey thee," answered
Then she was sure, for she remembered the voice. She looked at him
indifferently and asked:
"By what name shall I name you, O Slayer of a King? Will you be called
Mopo or Umbopa, who have borne them both?"
Now Dingaan stared, and the shrouded form before her started as though in
"Why do you seek to mock me?" she went on. "Can a blanket of bark hide
that face of yours from these eyes of mine which saw it a while ago at
Ramah, when you came thither to judge of me, O Mouth of the King?"
Now the man let the blanket slip from his head and looked at her.
"It seems that it cannot," he answered. "Then I told thee that I had
dreamed of the Spirit of our people, and that thou, White One, wast like
to her of whom I had dreamed. Canst thou tell me what was the fashion of
that dream of mine?"
Now Rachel understood that notwithstanding his words at Ramah, this man
still doubted her, and was set up to prove her, and all that Noie had told
her about him and the secret history of the Zulus came back into her mind.
"Surely Mopo or Umbopa," she replied, "you dreamed three dreams, not one.
Is it of the last you speak?--that dream at the kraal Duguza, when the
Inkosazana rode past you on a storm clothed in lightning, and shaking in
her hand a spear of fire?"
"Yes, I speak of it," he replied in an awed voice, "but if thou art but a
woman as thou hast said, how knowest thou these things?"
"Perchance I am both woman and spirit, and perchance the past tells them
to me," Rachel answered; "but the past has many voices, and now that I
dwell in the flesh I cannot hear them all. Let me search you out. Let me
read your heart," and she bent forward and fixed her eyes upon him,
holding him with her eyes.
"Ah! now I see and I hear," she said presently. "Had you not a sister,
Mopo, a certain Baleka, who afterwards entered the house of the Black One
and bore a son and died in the Tatiyana Cleft? Shall I tell you how she
"Tell it not! Tell it not!" exclaimed the old man quaveringly.
"So be it. There is no need. Yet ere she died you made a promise to this
Baleka, and that promise you kept at the kraal Duguza, you and the prince
Umhlangana, and another prince whose name I forget," and she looked at
Dingaan, who put his hand before his face. "You kept that promise with an
assegai--let me look, let me look into your heart--yes, with a little
assegai handled with the royal red wood, an assegai that had drunk much
Now a low moan broke from the lips of Dingaan, and those who sat with
them, while Umbopa shivered as though with cold.
"Have mercy, I pray thee," he gasped. "Forgive me if at times since we met
at Ramah I thought thee but a white maiden, beautiful and bold, as thou
didst declare thyself to be. Now I see thou hast the spirit, or else how
didst thou know these things?"
Noie heard and smiled in the shadow, but Rachel stood silent.
"I was bidden to tell thee of the last words of the Black One," went on
Umbopa hurriedly; "but what need is there to tell thee anything who
knowest all? They were that he heard the sound of the running of the feet
of a great white people which shall stamp out the children of the Zulus."
"Nay," answered Rachel, "I think they were; _'Where-fore wouldst thou kill
Again Dingaan moaned, for he had heard these very words spoken. Umbopa
turned and stared at him, and he stared at Umbopa.
"Come hither," said Rachel, beckoning to the old man.
He obeyed, and she threw the corner of her cloak over his head, and
whispered into his ear. He listened to her whisperings, then with a cry
broke from her and fled away out of the council of the King.
When he had gone there was silence, though Dingaan looked a question with
"Ask it not," she said, "ask it not of me, or of him. I think this Mopo
here had his secrets in the past. I think that once he sat in a hut at
night and bargained with certain Great Ones, a prince who lives, and a
prince who died. Come hither, come hither, thou son of Senzangacona, come
from the fields of Death and tell me what was that bargain which thou
madest with Mopo, thou and another?" and once again Rachel beckoned, this
time upwards in the air.
Now the face of Dingaan went grey, even in the moonlight it went grey
beneath the blackness of his skin, for there rose before his mind a vision
of a hut and of Mopo and of Umhlangana, the prince his brother whom he had
slain, and of himself, seated in the darkness, their heads together
beneath a blanket whispering of the murder of a king.
"Thou knowest all," he gasped, "thou art Nomkubulwana and no other. Spare
us, Spirit who canst summon our dead sins from the grave of time, and make
them walk alive before us."
"Nay, nay," she answered, mockingly, "surely I am but a woman, daughter of
a Teacher who lives yonder over the Tugela, a white maiden who eats and
sleeps and drinks as other maidens do. Take notice, King, and you his
captains, that I am no spirit, nothing but a woman who chances to bear a
high name, and to have some wisdom. Only," she added with meaning, "if any
harm should come to me, if I should die, then I think that I should become
a spirit, a terrible spirit, and that ill would it go with that people
against whom my blood was laid."
"Oh!" said the King, who still shook with fear, "we know, we know. Mock us
not, I pray. Thou art the Spirit who hast chosen to wear the robe of
woman, as flame hides itself in flint, and woe be to the hand that strikes
the fire from this stone. White One, give us now that wisdom whereof thou
speakest. Shall I fall upon the Boers or shall I let them be?"
Rachel looked upwards, studying the stars.
"She takes counsel with the Heavens, she who is their daughter," muttered
one of the indunas in a low voice.
As he spoke it chanced that a bright meteor travelling from the south-west
swept across the sky to burst and vanish over the kraal of Umgugundhlovo.
"It is a messenger to her," said one. "I saw the fire shine upon her hair
and vanish in her breast."
"Nay," answered another, "it is the _Ehlose_, the guardian ghost of the
Amazulu that appears and dies."
"Not so," broke in a third, "that light shows the Amaboona travelling from
the south-west to be eaten up in the blackness of our impis."
"Such a star runs ever before the death of king. It fell the night ere the
Black One died," murmured a fourth as though he spoke to himself.
Only Dingaan, taking no heed of them, said, addressing Rachel:
"Read thou the omen."
"Nay," she replied upon the swift impulse of the moment, "I read it not.
Interpret it as ye will. Here is my answer to thy question, King. _Those
who lift the spear shall perish by the spear."_
At this saying the captains murmured a little, for they, who desired war,
understood that she counselled peace between them and the Boers, though
others thought that she meant that the Boers would perish. Dingaan also
looked downcast. Watching their faces, Rachel was sure that not even her
hand could hold them back from their desire. That war must come. Again she
"The star travels whither it is thrown by the hand of the Umkulunkulu, the
Master of men; the spear finds the heart to which it is appointed. Read
you the omen as you will. I have spoken, but ye will not understand. That
which shall be, shall be."
She bent her head, and turned her ear towards the ground as though to
"What was that tale of the last words of the Great Lion who is gone?" she
went on. "Ask it of Mopo, ask it of Dingaan the King. It seems to me that
I also hear the feet of a people travelling over plain and mountain, and
the rivers behind them run red with blood. Are they black feet or white
feet? Read ye the omen as ye will. I have spoken for the first time and
the last; trouble me no more with this matter of the white men and your
war," and turning, Rachel glided from the court, followed by Noie with
ISHMAEL VISITS THE INKOSAZANA
When at last they were in the hut and the door-board had been safely
closed, Rachel took Noie in her arms and kissed her. But Noie did not kiss
her back; she only pressed her hand against her forehead.
"Why do you not kiss me, Noie?" asked Rachel.
"How can I kiss you, Inkosazana," replied the girl humbly, "I who am but
the dog at your feet, the dog whom twice it has pleased you to save from
"Inkosazana!" exclaimed Rachel. "I weary of that name. I am but a woman
like yourself, and I hate this part which I must play."
"Yet it is a high part, and you play it very well. While I listened to
you to-night, Zoola, twice and thrice I wondered if you are not something
more than you deem yourself to be. That beautiful body of yours is but a
cup like those of other women, but say, who fills the cup with the wine of
wisdom? Why do kings and councillors fear you, and why do you fear
nothing? Why did dead Seyapi talk to me of you in dreams? What strange
chance gave you that name of yours and made you holy in these men's eyes?
What power teaches you the truth and gives you wit and strength to speak
it? Why are you different from the rest of maidens, white or black?"
"I do not know, Noie. Something tells me what to do and say. Also, I
understand these Zulus, and you have taught me much. You told me all the
hidden tale of yonder Mopo a year gone by, or more, as you have told me
many of the darkest secrets of this people that you had from your father,
who knew them all. At the pinch I remembered it, no more, and played upon
them by my knowledge."
"What was it you said to Mopo under your cloak, Lady?"
Rachel smiled as she answered:
"I only asked him if it were not in his mind, having killed one king, to
kill another also, and that spear went home."
"Ah!" exclaimed Noie in admiration, "at least I never told you that."
"No; I read it in his eyes; for a moment all his heart was open to
me--yes, and the heart of Dingaan also. He fears Mopo, and Mopo hates him,
and one day hate and fear will come together."
"Ah!" said Noie again, "you know much."
"Yes," answered Rachel with sudden passion, "more than I wish to know.
Noie, you are right, I am not altogether as others are; there is a power
in my blood. I see and hear what should not be seen and heard; at times
fears fill me, or joys lift me up, and I think that I draw hear to another
world than ours. No; it is folly. I am over-wrought. Who would not be that
must endure so much and be set upon this throne, a goddess among
barbarians with life and death upon my lips? Oh! when the King asked me
his riddle I knew not what to answer, who feared lest ten thousand lives
might pay the price of a girl's incautious words. Then that meteor broke;
there have been several this night, but none noted them till I looked
upwards, and you know the rest. Let them guess its meaning, which they
cannot, for it has none."
"Why did you not speak more plainly, Zoola?"
"Oh! because I dared not. Who am I to meddle with such matters, who came
here but to save you? I warned them not to make war upon the Boers; what
more could I do? Moreover, it is useless, for fight they must and will and
pay the price. Of that I am sure. I feel it here," and she pressed her
hand upon her heart. "Yes, and other nearer things! Oh! Noie, I would that
I were back at home. Say, can we start to-morrow at the dawn?"
Noie shook her head.
"I do not think that they will let you go; they will keep you to be their
great doctoress. You should not have come. I sent you word--what did my
"Keep me," answered Rachel, stamping her foot. "They dare not; here at
least I am the Inkosazana, and I will be obeyed."
Noie made no answer; only she said:
"Ishmael is here. I have seen him. He wished to have me killed at once
because he is afraid of me. But when he was sure that you were coming,
Dingaan would not break his word which he had sent to you."
Rachel's face fell.
"Ishmael!" she exclaimed in dismay, then recovered herself and added:
"Well, I am not afraid of Ishmael, for here his life is in my hand. Oh! I
am worn out; I cannot talk of the man to-night. I must sleep, Noie, I must
sleep. Come, lie at my side and let us sleep."
"Nay," answered the girl; "my place is at the door. But drink this milk
and lay you down without fear, for I will watch."
Rachel obeyed, and Noie sat by her, holding her hand, till presently her
eyes shut and she slept. But Noie did not sleep. All that night she sat
there watching and listening, till at length the dawn came and she lay
down also by the door and rested.
The sun was high in the heavens when Rachel woke.
"Good morrow to you, Zoola," said the sweet voice of Noie. "You have slept
well. Now you must rise, bathe yourself and eat, for already messengers
from the King have been to the outer gate, saying that they wait to escort
you to a better house that has been made ready for you."
"I hoped that they waited to escort me out of Zululand," answered Rachel.
"I asked them of that, Zoola, but they declared it must not be, as the
council of the doctors had been summoned to consider your sayings, and two
days will pass before it can meet. Also they declare that your horse is
sick and not fit to travel, meaning that they will not let you go."
"But I have the right to go, Noie."
"The bird has the right to fly, but what if it is in a cage, Zoola?"
"I am queen here, Noie; the bars will burst at my word."
"It may be so, Zoola, but what if the bird should find that it has no nest
to fly to?"
"What do you mean?" asked Rachel, paling.
"Only that it seems best that you should not anger these Zulus, Lady, lest
it should come into their minds to destroy your nest, thinking that so you
might come to love this cage. No, no, I have heard nothing, but I guess
their thoughts. You need rest; bide here, where you are safe, a day or
two, and let us see what happens."
"Speak plainly, Noie. I do not understand your parable of birds and
"Zoola, I obey. I think that if you say you will go, none, not the King
himself, would dare to stay you, though you would have to go on foot, for
then that horse would die. But an impi would go with you, or before you,
and woe betide those who held you from returning to Zululand! Do you
understand me now?"
"Yes," answered Rachel. "You mean!--oh! I cannot speak it. I will remain
here a few days."
So she rose and bathed herself and was dressed by Noie, and ate of the
food that had been brought to the door of the hut. Then she went out, and
in the little courtyard found a litter waiting that was hung round with
"The King's word is that you should enter the litter," said Noie.
She did so, whereon Noie clapped her hands and girls in bead dresses ran
in, and having prostrated themselves before the litter, lifted it up and
carried it away, Noie walking at its side.
Rachel, peeping between the mats, saw that she was borne out of the town,
surrounded, but at a distance, by a guard of hundreds of armed men.
Presently they began to ascend a hill, whereon grew many trees, and after
climbing it for a while, reached a large kraal with huts between the outer
and inner fence, and in its centre a great space of park-like land through
which ran a stream.
Here, by the banks of the stream, stood a large new hut, and behind at a
little distance two or three other huts. In front of this great hut the
litter was set down by, the bearers, who at once went away. Then at Noie's
bidding Rachel came out of it and looked at the place which had been given
her in which to dwell.
It was a beautiful spot, away from the dust and the noises of the Great
Kraal, and so placed upon a shoulder of the hillside that the soldiers who
guarded this House of the Inkosazana, as it was called, could not be seen
or heard. Yet Rachel looked at it with distaste, feeling that it was that
cage of which Noie had spoken,
A cage it proved indeed, a solitary cage, for here Rachel abode in regal
seclusion and in state that could only be called awful. No man might
approach her house unbidden, and the maidens who waited upon her did so
with downcast eyes, never speaking, and falling on to their knees if
addressed. On the first day of her imprisonment, for it was nothing less,
an unhappy Zulu, through ignorance or folly, slipped through the outer
guard and came near to the inner fence. Rachel, who was seated above,
heard some shouts of rage and horror, and saw soldiers running towards
him, and in another minute a body being carried away upon a shield. He had
died for his sacrilege.
Once a day ambassadors came to her from the King to ask of her health, and
if she had orders to give, but now even these, men were not allowed to
look upon her. They were led in by the women, each of them with a piece of
bark cloth over his head, and from beneath this cloth they addressed her
as though she were in truth divine. On the first day she bade them tell
the King that her mission being ended, it was her desire to depart to her
own home beyond the river. They heard her words in silence, then asked if
she had anything to add. She replied--yes, it was her will that they
should cease to wear veils in her presence, also that no more men should
be killed upon her account as had happened that morning. They said that
they would convey the order at once, as several were under sentence of
death who had argued as to whether she were really the Inkosazana, So she
sent them away instantly, fearing lest they should be too late, and they
were led off backwards bowing and giving the royal salute. Afterwards she
rejoiced to hear that her commands had arrived just in time, and that the
blood of these poor people was not upon her head.
Next day the messengers returned at the same hour, unveiled as she
desired, bearing the answer of the King and his council. It was to the
effect that the Inkosazana had no need to ask permission to come or to go.
Her Spirit, they knew, was mighty and could wander where it willed; all
the impis of the Zulus could not hold her Sprint. But--and here came the
sting of this clever answer--it was necessary, until her sayings had been
considered, that the body in which that Spirit abode should remain with
them a while. Therefore the King and his counsellors and the whole nation
of the Zulus prayed her to be satisfied with the sending of her Spirit
across the Tugela, leaving her body to dwell a space in the House of the
Rachel looked at them in despair, for what was she to reply to such
reasoning as this? Before she could make up her mind, their spokesman said
that a white man, Ibubesi, who said that he had often spoken with her,
asked leave to visit her in her house.
Now Rachel thought a while. Ishmael was the last person in the whole world
whom she wished to see. After the interview when they parted, and all that
had happened since, it could not be otherwise. She remembered the threats
he had uttered then, and to her father afterwards, the brutal and
revolting threats. Some of these had been directed against Noie, and
subsequently Noie was kidnapped by the Zulus. That those directed at
herself had not been fulfilled was, she felt sure, due to a lack of
Little wonder, then, that she feared and hated the man. Still he was of
white blood, and perhaps for this reason had authority among the Zulus,
who, as she knew, often consulted him. Moreover, notwithstanding his
vapourings, like the Zulus whose superstitions he had contracted, he
looked upon herself with something akin to fear. If she saw him she had no
cause to dread anything that he could do to her, at any rate in this
country where she was supreme, whereas on the other hand she might obtain
information from him which would be very useful, or make use of him to
enable her to escape from Zululand. On the whole, then, it seemed wisest
to grant him an interview, especially as she gathered from the fact that
the question was raised by Dingaan's indunas, that for some reason of his
own, the King hoped that she would do so.
Still she hesitated, loathing and despising him as she did.
"You have heard," she said in English to Noie, who stood behind her. "Now
what shall I say?"
"Say--come," answered Noie in the same tongue.
"Read his black heart and find out truth; he no can keep it from you.
Say--come with soldiers. If he behave bad, tell them kill him. They obey
you. No mind me. I not afraid of that wild beast now."
Then Rachel said to the indunas:
"I hear the King's word, and understand that he wishes me to receive this
Ibubesi. Yet I know that man, as I know all men, white and black. He is an
evil man, and it is not my pleasure to speak with him alone. Let him come
with a guard of six captains, and let the captains be armed with spears,
so that if I give the word there may be an end of this Ibubesi."
Then the messengers saluted and departed as before.
On the morrow at about the same hour a praiser, or herald, arrived
outside the inner fence of the kraal, and after he had shouted out
Rachel's titles, attributes, beauties and supernatural powers for at least
ten minutes, never repeating himself, announced that the indunas of the
King were without accompanied by the white man, Ibubesi, awaiting her
permission to enter. She gave it through Noie; and, the horn wand in her
hand, seated herself upon a carved stool in front of the great hut.
Presently an altercation arose upon the further side of the reed fence in
which she recognised Ishmael's strident voice, mingled with the deeper
tones of the Zulus, who seemed to be insisting upon something.
"They command him to take off his headdress," said Noie, "and threaten to
beat him if he will not."
"Go, tell them to admit him as he is, that I may see his face, and learn
if he be the white man whom I knew, or another," answered Rachel, and she
Then the gate was opened and the messengers were led in by women. After
these came six captains, carrying broad spears, as she had commanded, and
last of all Ishmael himself. Rachel's whole nature shrank at the sight of
his dark, handsome features. She loathed the man now as always; her
instinct warned her of danger at his hands. Also she remembered his
threats when last they met and she rejected him, and what had passed
between him and her father on the following day. But of all this she
showed nothing, remaining seated in silence with calm, set face.
Ishmael was advancing with a somewhat defiant air. Except for a kaross
upon his shoulders he wore European dress, and the ridiculous hat with the
white ostrich feather in it, both of them now much the worse for wear,
which she remembered so well. Also he had a lighted pipe in his mouth.
Presently one of the captains appeared to become suddenly aware of this
pipe, for, stretching out his hand, he snatched it away, and the hat with
it, throwing them upon the ground. Ishmael, whose teeth and lips were
hurt, turned on the man with an oath and struck him, whereon instantly he
was seized, and would perhaps have been killed before Rachel could
interfere had it not been unlawful to shed blood in her presence. As it
was, with a motion of her wand, she signified that he was to be loosed, a
command that Noie interpreted to them. At any rate, they let him go,
though a captain placed his feet on the hat and pipe. Then Ishmael came
forward and said awkwardly:
"How do you do? I did not expect to see you here," and he devoured her
beauty with his bold, greedy eyes, though not without doubt and dread, or
so thought Rachel.
Taking no notice of his greeting, she said in a cold voice:
"I have sent for you here to ask if you have any reason as to why I should
not order you to be killed for your crime against my servant, Noie, and
therefore against me?"
Now Ishmael paled, for he had not expected such a welcome, and began to
deny the thing.
"Spare your falsehoods," went on Rachel. "I have it from the King's lips,
and from my own knowledge. Remember only that here I am the Inkosazana,
with power of life and death. If I speak the word, or point at you with
this wand, in a minute you will have gone to your account."
"Inkosazana or not," he answered in a cowed voice, "you know too much.
Well, then, she was taken that you might follow her to Zululand to ask her
life, and you see that the plan was good, for you came; and," he added,
recovering some of his insolence and familiarity: "we are here together,
two white people among all these silly niggers."
Rachel looked him up and down; then she looked at the indunas seated in
silence before her, at the great limbed captains with their broad spears
beyond, reminding her in their plumes and attitudes of some picture that
she had seen of Roman gladiators about to die. Lastly she looked at the
delicately shaped Noie by her side, with her sweet, inscrutable face, the
woman whose parents and kin this outcast had brought to a bloody death,
the woman whom to forward his base ends he had vilely striven to murder.
Slowly she looked at them all and at him, and said:
"Shall I explain to these nobles and captains what you call them, and what
you are called among your own people? Shall I tell them something of your
story, Mr. Ishmael?"
"You can do what you like," he answered sullenly. "You know why I got you
here--because I love you: I told you that many months ago. While you were
down at Ramah I had no chance with you, because of that old hypocrite of a
father of yours, and this black girl," and he looked at Noie viciously.
"Here I thought that it would be different--that you would be glad of my
company, but you have turned yourself into a kind of goddess and hold me
off," and he paused.
"Go on," said Rachel.
"All right, I will. You may think yourself a goddess, as I do myself
sometimes. But I know that you are a woman too, and that soon you will get
tired of this business. You want to go home to your father and mother,
don't you? Well, you can't. You are a prisoner here, for these fools have
got it into their heads that you are their Spirit, and that it would be
unlucky to let you out of the country. So here you must stop, for years
perhaps, or till they are sick of you and kill you. Just understand,
Rachel, that nobody can help you to escape except me, and that I shan't do
so for nothing."
Rachel straightened herself upon her seat, gripping the edge of it with
her hands, for her temper was rising, while Noie bent forward and said
something in her ear.
"What is that black devil whispering to you?" he asked. "Telling you to
have me killed, I expect. Well, you daren't, for what would your holy
parents say? It would be murder, wouldn't it, and you would go to hell,
where I daresay you come from, for otherwise how could you be such a
witch? Look here," he went on, changing his tone, "don't let's squabble.
Make it up with me. I'll get you clear of this and marry you afterwards on
the square. If you won't, it will be the worse for you--and everybody
else, yes, everybody else."
"Mr. Ishmael," answered Rachel calmly, "you are making a very great
mistake, about my scruples as to taking life I mean, amongst other things.
Once when it was necessary you saw me kill a man. Well, if I am forced to
it, what I did then I will do again, only not with my own hand. Mr.
Ishmael, you said just now that you could get me out of Zululand. I take
you at your word, not for my own sake, for I am comfortable enough here,
but for that of my father and mother, who will be anxious," and her voice
weakened a little as she spoke of them.
"Do you? Well, I won't. I am comfortable here also, and shall be more so
as the husband of the Inkosazana. This is a very pretty kraal, and it is
quite big enough for two," he added with an amorous sneer.
Now for a minute at least Rachel sat still and rigid. When she spoke again
it was in a kind of gasp:
"Never," she said, "have you gone nearer to your death, you wanderer
without name or shame. Listen now. I give you one week to arrange my
escape home. If it is not done within that time, I will pay you back for
those words. Be silent, I will hear no more."
Then she called out:
"Rise, men, and bear the message of the Inkosazana to Dingaan, King of the
Zulus. Say to Dingaan that this wandering white dog whom he has sent into
my house has done me insult. Say that he has asked me, the
Inkosazana-y-Zoola, to be one of his wives."
At these words the counsellors and captains uttered a shout of rage, and
two of the latter seized Ishmael by the arm, lifting their spears to
plunge them into him. Rachel waved her wand and they let them fall again.
"Not yet," she said. "Take him to the King, and if my word comes to the
King, then he dies, and not till then. I would not have his vile blood on
my hands. Unless I speak, I, Queen of the Heavens, leave him to the
vengeance of the Heavens. My mantle is over him, lead him back to the King
and let me see his face no more."
"We hear and it shall be so," they answered with one voice, then
forgetting their ceremony hustled Ishmael from the kraal.
"Have I done well?" asked Rachel of Noie, when they were alone.
"No, Zoola," she answered, "you should have killed the snake while you
were hot against him, since when your blood grows cold you can never do
it, and he will live to bite you."
"I have no right to kill a man, Noie, just because he makes love to me,
and I hate him. Also, if I did so he could not help me to escape from
Zululand, which he will do now because he is afraid of me."
"Will he be afraid of you when you are both across the Tugela?" asked
Noie. "Inkosazana, give me power and ask no questions. Ibubesi killed my
father and mother and brethren, and has tried to kill me. Therefore my
heart would not be sore if, after the fashion of this land, I paid him
spears for battle-axes, for he deserves to die."
"Perhaps, Noie, but not by my word."
"Perhaps by your hand, then," said Noie, looking at her curiously. "Well,
soon or late he will die a red death--the reddest of deaths, I learned
that from the spirit of my father."
"The spirit of your father?" said Rachel, looking at her.
"Certainly, it speaks to me often and tells me many things, though I may
not repeat them to you till they are accomplished. Thus I was not afraid
in the hands of Dingaan, for it told me that you would save me."
"I wish it would speak to me and tell me when I can go home," said Rachel
with a sigh.
"It would if it could, Zoola, but it cannot because the curtain is too
thick. Had all you loved been slain before your eyes, then the veil would
be worn thin as mine is, and through it, you who are akin to them, would
hear the talk of the ghosts, and dimly see them wandering beneath their
"Beneath their trees----!"
"Yes, the trees of their life, of which all the boughs are deeds and all
the leaves are words, under the shadow of which they must abide for ever.
My people could tell you of those trees, and perhaps they will one day
when we visit them together. Nay, pay no heed, I was wandering in my talk.
It is the sight of that wild beast, Ibubesi. You will not let me kill him!
Well, doubtless it is fated so. I think one day you will be sorry--but too
RACHEL SEES A VISION
That evening Ishmael was brought before the King. He was in evil case, for
the captains, some of whom had grudges against him, when he tried to break
away from them outside the gate, had beaten him with their spear shafts
nearly all the way from the kraal to the Great Place, remarking that he
fought and remonstrated, that the Inkosazana had forbidden them to kill
him, but had said nothing as to giving him the flogging which he deserved.
His clothes were torn, his hat and pipe were lost--indeed hours before
Noie had thrown both of them into the fire--his eyes were black from the
blow of a heavy stick and he was bruised all over.
Such was his appearance when he was thrust before Dingaan, seething with
rage which he could scarcely suppress, even in that presence.
"Did you visit the Inkosazana to-day, White Man?" asked the King blandly,
while the indunas stared at him with grim amusement.
Then Ishmael broke out into a recital of his wrongs, demanding that the
captains who had beaten him, a white man, and a great person, should be
"Silence," said Dingaan at length. "The question, Night-prowler, is
whether you should not be killed, you dog who dared to insult the
Inkosazana by offering yourself to her as a husband. Had she commanded you
to be speared, she would have done well, and if you trouble me with your
shoutings, I will send you to sleep with the jackals to-night without
waiting for her word."
Now, seeing his danger, Ishmael was silent, and the King went on:
"Did you discover, as I bade you, why it is that the Inkosazana desires to
"Yes, King. It is because she would return to her own people, the old
prayer-doctor and his wife."
"They are not her people!" exclaimed Dingaan. "We know that she came to
them out of the storm, and that they are but the foster-parents chosen for
her by the Heavens. You were the first to tell us that story, and how she
caused the lightning to burn up my soldier yonder at Ramah. We are her
people and no others. Can the Inkosazana have a father and a mother?"
"I don't know," answered Ishmael, "but she is a woman and I never knew a
woman who was without them. At least I am sure that she looks upon them as
her father and mother, obeying them in all things, and that she will never
leave them while they live, unless they command her to do so."
Dingaan stared at him with his pig-like eyes, repeating after him--"while
they live, unless they command her to do so." Then he asked:
"If the Inkosazana desires to go, who is there that dares to stay her, and
if she puts out her magic, who is there that has the power? If a hand is
lifted against her, will she not lay a curse on us and bring destruction
"I don't know," answered Ishmael again, "but if she goes back among the
white folk and is angry, I think that she will bring the Boers upon you."
Now Dingaan's face grew very troubled, and bidding Ishmael stand back
awhile, he consulted with his council. Then he said:
"Listen to me, White Man. It would be a very evil thing if the Inkosazana
were to leave us, for with her would go the Spirit of our people, and
their good luck, so say the witch-doctors with one voice, and I believe
them. Further, it is our desire that she should remain with us a while.
This day the Council of the Diviners has spoken, saying that the words of
the Inkosazana which she uttered here are too hard for them, and that
other doctors of a people who live far away, must be sent for and brought
face to face with her. Therefore here at Umgugundhlovo she should abide
until they come."
"Indeed," answered Ishmael indifferently.
In the doctors who dwell far away, and the council of the Diviners he had
no belief. But understanding the natives as he did he guessed correctly
enough that the latter found themselves in a cleft stick. Worked on by
their superstitions, which he had first awakened for his own ends, they
had accepted Rachel as something more than human, as the incarnation of
the Spirit of their people. This Mopo, who was said to have killed Chaka
by command of that Spirit, had acknowledged her to be, and therefore they
did not dare to declare that her words spoken as an oracle were empty
words. But neither did they dare to interpret the saying that she meant
that no attack must be made upon the Boers and should be obeyed.
To do this would be to fly in the face of the martial aspirations of the
nation and the secret wishes of the King, and perhaps if war ultimately
broke out, would cost them their lives. So it came about that they
announced that they could not understand her sayings, and had decided to
thrust off the responsibility on to the shoulders of some other diviners,
though who these men might be Ishmael neither knew nor took the trouble to
"But," went on the King, "who can force the dove to build in a tree that
does not please it, seeing that it has wings and can fly away? Yet if its
own tree, that in which it was reared from the nest, could be brought to
it, it might be pleased to abide there. Do you understand, White Man?"
"No," answered Ishmael, though in fact he understood well enough that the
King was playing upon Rachel's English name of Dove, and that he meant
that her home might be moved into Zululand. "No, the Inkosazana is not a
bird, and who can carry trees about?"
"Have the spear-shafts knocked the wit out of you, Ibubesi," asked
Dingaan, impatiently, "or are you drunk with beer? Learn then my meaning.
The Inkosazana will not stay because her home is yonder, therefore it must
be brought here and she will stay. At first I gave orders that if this old
white teacher and his wife tried to accompany her, they should be killed.
Now I eat up those words. They must come to Zululand."
"How will you persuade them to be such fools?" asked Ishmael.
"How did I persuade the Inkosazana herself to come? Was it not to seek one
whom she loved?"
"They will think that you have killed her, and wish to kill them also."
"No, because you will go in command of an impi and show them otherwise."
"I cannot go; your brutes of captains have hurt my head, and lamed me; I
cannot walk or ride."
"Then you can be carried in a litter, or," he added threateningly, "you
can abide here with the vultures. The Inkosazana is merciful, but why
should I not avenge her wrongs upon you, white dog, who have dared to
scratch at the kraal gate of the Inkosazana-y-Zoola?"
Now Ishmael saw that he had no choice; also a dark thought rose dimly in
his mind. He desired to win Rachel above everything on earth, he was mad
with love--or what he understood as love--of her, and this business might
be worked to his advantage. Moreover, to stay was death. So he fell to
bargaining for a reward for his services, a large reward in cattle and
ivory; half of it to be paid down at once, and it was promised to him.
Then he took his instructions. These were that he was to travel to the
mission station of Ramah in command of a small impi of three hundred men,
whose only orders would be that they were to obey him in all things! That
he was to tell the Umfundusi who was called Shouter, that if they wished
to see her any more, he and his wife must come to dwell with the
Inkosazana, in Zululand: that if they refused he was to bring them by
force. If, perchance, the Inkosazana, choosing to exercise her authority,
crossed the Tugela and reached Ramah before he could do this, he was still
to bring them, for then she would follow. In the same way, if the Shouter
and his wife met her on the road, they were to travel on, for then she
would turn and, accompany them. He was to go at once and execute these
"I hear," said Ishmael, "and will start as soon as the cattle have been
delivered and sent on with the ivory to my kraal, Mafooti."
There was something in the man's voice, or in the look of low cunning
which spread itself over his face, that attracted Dingaan's attention.
"The cattle and the ivory shall be sent," he said, sternly, "but ill shall
it be for you, Ibubesi, if you seek to trick me in this matter. You have
grown rich on my bounty, and yonder at your place, Mafooti, you have many
cows, many wives, many children--my spies have given me count of all of
them. Now, if you play me false, or if you dare to lift a finger against
the White One, know that I will burn that kraal and slay the inhabitants
with the spear and take the cattle, and when I catch you, Ibubesi, I will
kill you, slowly, slowly. I have spoken, go.
"I go, Great Elephant, Calf of the Black Cow, and I will obey in all
things," answered Ishmael in a humble voice, for he was frightened. "The
white people shall be brought, only I trust to you to protect me from the
anger of the Inkosazana for all that I may do."
"You must make your own peace with the Inkosazana," answered Dingaan, and
turning, he crept into his hut.
An hour later the great induna, Tamboosa, appeared at Rachel's kraal, and
craved leave to speak with her.
"What is it?" asked Rachel when he had been admitted. "Have you come to
lead me out of Zululand, Tamboosa?"
"Nay, White One," he answered, "the land needs you yet awhile. I have come
to tell you that Dingaan would speak with your servant Noie, if it be your
good pleasure to let her visit him. Fear not. No harm shall come to her,
if it does you may order me to be put to death. You, yourself, could not
be safer than she shall be."
"Are you afraid to go?" asked Rachel of Noie.
"Not I," answered the girl, with a laugh. "I trust to the King's word and
to your might."
"Depart then," said Rachel, "and come back as swiftly as you may. Tamboosa
shall lead you."
So Noie went.
Two hours after sundown, while Rachel was eating her evening meal in her
Great Hut, attended by the maidens, the door-board was drawn aside, and
Noie entered, saluted, and sat down. Rachel signed to the women to clear
away the food and depart. When they had gone she asked what the King's
business was, eagerly enough, for she hoped that it had to do with her
"It is a long story, Zoola," answered Noie, "but here is the heart of it.
I told you when first we met that I am not of this people, although my
mother was a Zulu. I told you that I am of the Dream-people, the
Ghost-people, the little Grey-people, who live away to the north beneath
their trees, and worship their trees."
"Yes," answered Rachel, "and that is why you care nothing for men as other
women do, but dream dreams and talk with spirits. But what of it?"
"That is why I dream dreams and talk with spirits, as one day I hope that
I shall teach you to do, you whose soul is sister to my soul," replied
Noie, her large eyes shining strangely in her delicate face. "And this of
it--the Ghost-people are diviners, they can read the future and see the
hearts of men; there are no diviners like them. Therefore chiefs and
peoples who dwell far away send to them with great gifts, and pray them
come read their fate, but they will seldom listen or obey. Now Dingaan and
his councillors are troubled about this matter of the Boers, and the
meaning of the words you spoke as to their waging war on them, and of the
omen of the falling star. The council of the doctors can interpret none of
these things, nor dare they ask you to do so, since you bade them speak no
more to you of that matter, and they know, that if they did, either you
would not answer, or, worse still, say words that would displease them."
"They are right there," said Rachel. "To have to play the dark oracle once
is enough for me. If I speak again, it shall be plainly."
"Therefore they have bethought them of the Dealers in Dreams and desire to
bring you face to face with their prophets, the Ghost-Kings, that these
may see your greatness and tell them the meaning of your words, and of the
omen that you caused to travel through the skies."
"Do you mean that they wish me to visit these Ghost-Kings, Noie?"
"Not so, Zoola, for then they must part with your presence. They wish that
the priests of the Ghost-Kings should visit you, bearing with them the
word of the Mother of the Trees."
"Visit me! How can they? Who will bring them here?"
"They wish that I should bring them, for as they know, I am of their
blood, and I alone can talk their language, which my father taught me from
"But, Noie, that would moan that we must be separated," said Rachel, in
"Yes, it would mean that, still I think it best that you should humour
them and let me go, for otherwise I do not know how you will ever escape
from Zululand. Now I told the King that I thought you would permit it on
one condition only--that after you had been brought face to face with the
priests of the Ghost-Kings, and they had interpreted your riddle, you
should be escorted whence you came, and he answered that it should be so,
and that meanwhile you could abide here in honour, peace and safety.
Moreover, he promised that a messenger should be sent to Ramah to explain
the reason of your delay."
"But how long will you be on the journey, Noie, and what if these prophets
of yours refuse to visit Dingaan?"
"I cannot tell you who have never travelled that road. But I will march
fast, and if I tire, swift runners shall bear me in a litter. To those who
have the secret of its gate that country is not so very far away. Also,
the Old Mother of the Trees is my father's aunt, and I think that the
prophets will come at my prayer, or at the least send the answer to the
question. Indeed, I am sure of it--ask me not why."
Still for a long while Rachel reasoned against this separation, which she
dreaded, while Noie reasoned for it. She pointed out that here at least
none could harm her, as they had seen in the treatment meted out to
Ishmael a white man whom the Zulus looked upon as their friend. Also she
said with conviction that these mysterious Ghost-Kings were very powerful,
and could free her from the clutches of the Zulus, and protect her from
them afterwards, as they would do when they came to know her case.
The end of it was that Rachel gave way, not because Noie's arguments
convinced her, but because she was sure that she had other reasons she did
not choose to advance.
From that day when each of them tossed up a hair from her head at Ramah,
notwithstanding the difference of their race and circumstances, these two
had been as sisters. Rachel believed in Noie more, perhaps, than in any
other living being, and thus also did Noie believe in Rachel. They knew
that their destinies were intertwined, and were sure that not rivers or
mountains or the will and violence of men, could keep them separate.
"I see," said Rachel, at length, "that you believe that my fate hangs
upon this embassy of yours,"
"I do believe it," answered Noie, confidently.
"Then go, but come back as swiftly as you may, for, my sister, I know not
how without you I shall live on in this lonely greatness," and she took
her in her arms and kissed her lips.
Afterwards, as they were laying themselves down to sleep, Rachel asked her
if she had heard anything about Ishmael. She answered that she learned at
the Great Kraal that he had been brought before the King that afternoon,
and then taken back to his hut, where he was under guard. One of her
escort told her, too, that since he saw the King, Ibubesi had fallen very
sick, it was thought from a blow that he had received at the house of
Inkosazana, and that now he was out of his mind and being attended by the
doctors. "I wish," added Noie viciously, "that he were out of his body
also, for then much sorrow would be spared. But that cannot be before the
On the next day before noon, Noie departed upon her journey. Rachel sent
for the captains of her escort and the Isanusis, or doctors, who were to
accompany her, and in a few stern words gave her into their charge, saying
that they should answer for her safety with their lives, to which they
replied that they knew it, and would do so. If any harm came to the
daughter of Seyapi through their fault, they were prepared to die. Then
she talked for a long while with Noie, telling her all she knew of the
Boers and the purpose of their wanderings, that she might be able to
repeat it to her people, and show them how dreadful would be a war between
this white folk and the Zulus.
Noie answered that she would give her message, but that it was needless,
since the Ghost-Kings could see all that passed "in the bowls of water
beneath their trees, and doubtless knew already of her coming and of the
cause of it," a reply of which Rachel had not time to inquire the meaning.
After this they embraced and parted, not without some tears.
When the gate shut behind Noie, Rachel walked to the high ground at the
back of her hut, whence she could see over the fence of the kraal, and
watched her departure. She had an escort of a hundred picked soldiers,
with whom went fifty or sixty strong bearers, who carried food, karosses,
and a litter. Also there were three doctors of magic and medicine, and two
women, widows of high rank who were to attend upon her. At the head of
this procession, save for two guides, walked Noie herself, with sandals on
her feet, a white robe about her shoulders, and in her hand a little bough
on which grew shining leaves, whereof Rachel did not know the meaning. She
watched them until they passed over the brow of the hill, on the crest of
which Noie turned and waved the bough towards her. Then Rachel went back
to her hut, and sat there alone and wept.
This was the beginning of many dreadful days, most of which she passed
wandering about within the circuit of the kraal fence, a space of some
three or four acres, or seated under the shadow of certain beautiful
trees, which overhung a deep, clear pool of the stream that ran through
the kraal, a reed-fringed pool whereon floated blooming lilies. That quiet
water, the happy birds that nested in the trees and the flowering lilies
seemed to be her only friends. Of the last, indeed, she would count the
buds, watching them open in the morning and close again for their sleep at
night, until a day came when their loveliness turned to decay, and others
appeared in their place.
On the morrow of Noie's departure, Tamboosa and other indunas visited her,
and asked her if she would not descend to the kraal of the King, and help
him and his council to try cases, since while she was in the land she was
its first judge. She answered, "No, that place smelt too much of blood."
If they had cases for her to try, let them be brought before her in her
own house. This she said idly, thinking no more of it, but next day was
astonished to learn that the plaintiff and defendant in a great suit, with
their respective advocates, and from thirty to forty witnesses, were
waiting without to know when it was her pleasure to attend to their
With characteristic courage Rachel answered, "Now." Her knowledge of law
was, it is true, limited to what, for lack of anything more exciting, she
had read in some handbooks belonging to her father, who had been a justice
of the peace in the Cape Colony, and to a few cases which she had seen
tried in a rough-and-ready fashion at Durban, to which must be added an
intimate acquaintance with Kaffir customs. Still, being possessed with a
sincere desire to discover the truth and execute justice, she did very
well. The matter in dispute was a large one, that of the ownership of a
great herd of cattle which was claimed as an inheritance by each of the
parties. Rachel soon discovered that both these men were very powerful
chiefs, and that the reason of their cause being remitted to her was that
the King knew that if he decided in favour of either of them he would
mortally offend the other.
For a long while Rachel, seated on her stool, listened silently to the
impassioned pleadings of the plaintiff's lawyers. Presently this plaintiff
was called as a witness, and in the course of his evidence said something
which convinced her that he was lying. Then breaking her silence for the
first time, she asked him how he dared to give false witness before the
Inkosazana-y-Zoola, to whom the truth was always open, and who was
acquainted with every circumstance connected with the cattle in dispute.
The man, seeing her eyes fixed upon him, and being convinced of her
supernatural powers, grew afraid, broke down, and publicly confessed his
attempted fraud, into which he said he had been led by envy of his cousin,
the defendant's, riches.
Rachel gave judgment accordingly, commanding that he should pay the costs
in cattle and a fine to the King, and warned him to be more upright in
future. The result was that her fame as a judge spread throughout the
land, and every day her gates were beset with suitors whose causes she
dealt with to the best of her ability, and to their entire satisfaction.
Criminal prosecutions that involved the death-sentence or matters
connected with witchcraft, however, she steadily refused to try, saying
that the Inkosazana should not cause blood to flow. These things she left
to the King and his Council, confining herself to such actions as in
England would come before the Court of Chancery. Thus to her reputation as
a spiritual queen, Rachel added that of an upright judge who could not be
influenced by fear or bribes, the first, perhaps, that had ever been known
But she could not try such cases all day, the strain was too great,
although in the end most of them partook of the nature of arbitrations,
since the parties involved, having come to the conclusion that it was not
possible to deceive one so wise, grew truthful and submitted their
differences to the decision of her wisdom.
After they were dismissed, which was always at noon, for she opened her
court at seven and would not sit more than five hours, Rachel was left in
her solitary state until the next morning, and oh! the hours hung heavily
upon her hands. A messenger was despatched to Ramah, but after ten days he
returned saying that the Tugela was in flood, and he could not cross it.
She sent him out again, and a week later was told that he had been killed
by a lion on his journey. Then another messenger was chosen, but what
became of him she never knew.
It was about this time that Rachel learned that Ishmael, having recovered
from his sickness, had escaped from Umgugundhlovo by night, whither none
seemed to know. From that moment fears gathered thick upon the poor girl.
She dreaded Ishmael and guessed that his departure without communicating
with her boded her no good. Indeed, once or twice she almost wished that
she had taken Noie's counsel and given him over to the justice of the
King. Meanwhile of Noie herself nothing had been heard. She had vanished
into the wilderness.
Living this strange and most unnatural life, Rachel's nerves began to give
way. While she tried her cases she seemed stern and calm. But when the
crowd of humble suitors had dispersed from the outer court in which she
sat as a judge, and the shouts of the praisers rushing up and down beyond
the fence and roaring out her titles had died away, and having dismissed
the obsequious maidens who waited upon her, she retired to the solitude of
her hut to rest--ah! then it was different. Then she lay down upon her bed
of rich furs and at times burst into tears because she who seemed to be a
supernatural queen, was really but a white girl deserted by God and man.
Now it was the season of thunderstorms, and almost every afternoon these
dreadful tempests broke over her kraal, which shook in the roll and crash
of the meeting clouds, while beyond the fence the jagged lightning struck
and struck again upon the ironstone of the hillside.
She had never feared such storms before, but now they terrified her. She
dreaded their advent, and the worst of it was that she must not show her
dread, she who was supposed to rule and direct the lightning. Indeed, the
bounteous rains which fell ensuring a full harvest after several years of
drought, were universally attributed to the good influence of her presence
in the land. In the same way when a thunderbolt struck the hut of a doctor
who but a day or two before had openly declared his disbelief in her
powers, killing him and his principal wife, and destroying his kraal by
fire, the accident was attributed to her vengeance, or to that of the
Heavens, who were angry at this lack of faith. After this remarkable
exhibition of supernatural strength, needless to say, the voice of adverse
criticism was stayed; Rachel became supreme.
But the storms passed, and when they had rolled away at length, doing her
no hurt, and the sun shone out again, she would go and sit beneath the
trees at the edge of the beautiful pool until the closing lilies and the
chill of the air told her that night drew on.
Oh! those long nights--how endless they seemed to Rachel in her
loneliness. Now she who used to sleep so well, could not sleep, or when
she slept she dreamed. She dreamed of her mother, always of her mother,
that she was ill, and calling her, until she came to believe that in truth
this was so. So much did this conviction work upon her mind, that she
determined not to wait for the return of Noie, but at all costs to try to
leave Zululand, and through Tamboosa declared her will to the King.
Next morning the answer cams back that of course none could control her
movements, but if she would go, she must fly, as all the rivers were in
flood, as she might see if she would walk to the top of the mountain
behind her kraal. Tamboosa added that a company of men who had been sent
to recapture Ishmael, were kept for a week upon the banks of the first of
them, and at length, being unable to cross, had returned, as her messenger
had done. Knowing from other sources that this was true, Rachel made no
answer. What she did not know, however, was that Ishmael had crossed the
smaller rivers before the flood came down, and gone on to meet the
soldiers, who were ordered to await him on the banks of the Tugela.
Escape was evidently impossible at present, and if it had been otherwise,
clearly the Zulus did not mean to let her go. She must abide here in the
company of her terrors and her dreams.
At length, happily for her, these distressing dreams of Rachel's began to
be varied by others of a pleasanter complexion, of which, although they
were vivid enough, she could only remember upon waking that they had to do
with Richard Darrien, the companion of her adventure in the river, of whom
she had heard nothing for so many years. For aught she knew he might have
died long ago, and yet she did not think that he was dead. Well, if he
lived he might have forgotten her, and yet she did not believe that he had
forgotten her, he who as a boy had wished to follow her all his life, and
whom she had thought of day by day from that hour to this. Yes, she had
thought of him, but not thus. Why, at such a time, did he arise in
strength before her, seeming to occupy all her soul? Why was her mind
never free of him? Could it be that they were about to meet again? She
shivered as the hope took hold of her, shivered with joy, and remembered
that her mother had always said that they would meet. Could it be that he
of all men on the earth, for if he lived he was a man now, was coming to
rescue her? Oh! then she would fear nothing. Then in every peril she would
feel safe as a child in its mother's arms. No, the thing was too happy to
come about; her imagination played tricks with her, no more. And yet, and
yet, why did he haunt her sleep?
The dreary days went on; a month had passed since Noie vanished over
yonder ridge, and worst of all, for three nights the dreams of Richard had
departed, while those of her mother remained.
Rachel was worn out; she was in despair. All that morning she had spent in
trying a long and heavy case, which occupied but wearied her mind, one of
those eternal cases about the inheritance of cattle which were claimed by
three brothers, descendants of different wives of a grandfather who had
owned the herd. Finally she had effected a compromise between the parties,
and amidst their salutes and acclamations, retired to her hut. But she
could not eat; the sameness of the food disgusted her. Neither could she
rest, for the daily tempest was coming up, and the heavy atmosphere, or
the electricity with which it was charged, and the overpowering heat,
exasperated her nervous system and made sleep impossible. At length came
the usual rush of icy wind and the bursting of the great storm. The
thunder crashed and bellowed; the lightning flickered and flared; the rain
fell in a torrent. It passed as it always did, and the sun shone out
again. Gasping with relief, Rachel went out of the oven-like hut into the
cool, sweet air, and sat down upon a tanned bull's hide which she had
ordered her servants to spread for her by the pool of water upon the bank
beneath the trees. It was very pleasant here, and the raindrops shaken
from the wet leaves fell upon her fevered face and hands and refreshed
She tried to forget her troubles for a little while, and began to think of
Richard Darrien, her boy-lover of a long-past hour, wondering what he
looked like now that he was grown to be a man.
"If only you would come to help me! Oh! Richard, if only you would come to
help me," the poor, worn-out girl murmured to herself, and so murmuring
Suddenly it seemed to her that she was wide awake, and staring into a part
of the pool beneath her where the bottom was of granite and the water
clear. In this water she saw a picture. She saw a great laager of waggons,
and outside of one of them a group of bearded, jovial-looking men smoking
and talking. Presently another man of sturdy build and resolute carriage,
who was followed by a weary Kaffir, walked up to them. His back was
towards her so that she could not see his face, but now she was able to
hear all that was said, although the voices seemed thin and far away.
"What is it, Nephew?" asked the oldest of the bearded men, speaking in
Dutch. "Why are you in such a hurry?"
"This, Uncle," he answered, in the same language, and in a pleasant voice
that sounded familiar to Rachel's ears. "That spy, Quabi, whom we sent out
a long time ago and who was reported dead, reached Dingaan's kraal, and
has come back with a strange story."
"Almighty!" grunted the old man, "all these spies have strange stories,
but let him tell it. Speak on, swartzel." [Footnote: Black-fellow.]
Then the tired spy began to talk, telling a long tale. He described how
he had got into Zululand, and reached Umgugundhlovo and lodged there with
a relative of his, and done his best to collect information as to the
attitude of the King and indunas towards the Boers. While he was there the
news came that the white Spirit, who was called Inkosazana-y-Zoola, was
approaching the kraal from Natal, where she dwelt with her parents, who
"Almighty!" interrupted the old man again, "What rubbish is this? How can
a Spirit, white or black, have parents who are teachers?"
The weary-looking spy answered that he did not know, it was not for him to
answer riddles, all he knew was that there was great excitement about the
coming of this Queen of the Heavens, and he, being desirous of obtaining
first-hand information, slipped out of the town with his relative, and
walked more than a day's journey on the path that ran to the Tugela, till
they came to a place where they hid themselves to see her pass. This place
he described with minuteness, so minutely, indeed, that in her dream,
Rachel recognised it well. It was the spot where the witch-doctoress had
died. He went on with his story; he told of her appearance riding on the
white horse and surrounded by an impi. He described her beauty, her white
cloak, her hair hanging down her back, the rod of horn she carried in her
hand, the colour of her eyes, the shape of her features, everything about
her, as only a native can. Then he told of the incident of the cattle
rushing across her path, of the death of the bull that charged her, of the
appearance of the furious witch-doctoress who seized the rein of the
horse, of the pointing of the wand, and the instant execution of the
He told of how he had followed the impi to the Great Place, of the story
of Noie as he had heard it, and the reports that had reached him
concerning the interview between the King and this white Inkosazana, who,
it was said, advised him not to fight the Boers.
"And where is she now?" asked the old Dutchman.
"There, at Umgugundhlovo," he answered, "ruling the land as its head
Isanuzi, though it is said that she desires to escape, only the Zulus will
not let her go."
"I think that we should find out more about this woman, especially as she
seems to be a friend to our people," said the old Boer. "Now, who dares to
go and learn the truth?"
"I will go," said the young man who had brought in the spy, and as he
spoke he turned, and lo! _his face was the face of Richard Darrien_,
bearded and grown to manhood, but without doubt Richard Darrien and none
"Why do you offer to undertake so dangerous a mission?" asked the Boer,
looking at the young man kindly. "Is it because you wish to see this
beautiful white witch of whom yonder Quabi tells us such lies, Nephew?"
The shadow of Richard nodded, and his face reddened, for the Boers around
him were laughing at him.
"That is right, Uncle," he answered boldly. "You think me a fool, but I am
not. Many years ago I knew a little maid who was the daughter of a
teacher, and who, if she lives, must have grown into such a woman as Quabi
describes. Well, I joined you Boers last year in order to look for that
maid, and I am going to begin to look for her across the river yonder."
As the words reached whatever sense of Rachel's it was that heard them, of
a sudden, in an instant, laager, Boers, and Richard vanished. In her sleep
she tried to recreate them, at first without avail, then the curtain of
darkness appeared to lift, and in the still water of the pool she saw
another picture, that of Richard Darrien mounted on a black horse with one
white foot, riding along a native path through a bush-clad country, while
by his side trotted the spy whose name was Quabi.
They were talking together, and she heard, or, at any rate, knew their
"How far is it now to Umgugundhlovo?" asked Richard.
"Three days' journey, Inkosi, if we are not stopped by flooded rivers,"
For one second only Rachel saw and heard these things, then they, too,
passed away, and she awoke to see in front of her the pool empty save for
its lilies, and above to hear the whispering of the evening wind among the
As the sun set Rachel rose and walked to her hut. She was utterly dazed,
she could not understand. Was this but a fiction of an overwrought and
disordered mind, or had she seen a vision of things passing, or that had
passed, far away? If it were a dream, then this was but another drop in
her cup of bitterness. If a true vision--oh! then what did it mean to her?
It meant that Richard Darrien lived, Richard, of whom her heart had been
full for years. It meant that his heart was full of her also, for had she
not seemed to hear him say that he had travelled from the Cape with the
Boers to look for her, and was he not journeying alone through a hostile
land to pursue his search? Who would do such a thing for the sake of a
girl unless--unless? It meant that he would protect her, would rescue her
from her terrible plight, would take her from among these savages to her
home again--oh! and perhaps much more that she did not dare to picture to
Yet how could such things be? They were contrary to experience, at any
rate, to the experience of white folk, though natives would believe in
them easily enough. Yet in Nature things might be possible which were
generally held to be impossible. Her mother had certain gifts--had she,
perhaps, inherited them? Had her helplessness appealed to the pity of some
higher power? Had her ceaseless prayers been heard? Yet, why should the
universal laws be stretched for her? Why should she be allowed to lift a
corner of the black veil of ignorance that hems us in, and see a glimpse
of what lies beyond? If Richard were really coming, in a day or two she
would have learned of his arrival naturally; there was no need that these
mysterious influences should be set to work to inform her of his approach.
How selfish she was. The warning might concern him, not her. It was
probable enough that the Zulus would kill a solitary white man, especially
if they discovered that he proposed to visit their Inkosazana. Well, she
had the power to protect him. If she "threw her mantle" over him, no man
in all the land would dare to do him violence. Surely it was for this
reason that she had been allowed to learn these things, if she had learned
them, not for her own sake, but his. _If_ she had learned them! Well, she
would take the risk, would run the chance of failure and of mockery, yes,
and of the loss of her power among these people. It should be done at
Rachel clapped her hands, and a maiden appeared whom she bade summon the
captain of the guard without the gate. Presently he came, surrounded by a
band of her women, since no man might visit the Inkosazana alone. Bidding
him to cease from his salutations, she commanded him to go swiftly to the
Great Place and pray of Dingaan that he would send her an escort and a
litter, as she must see him that night on a matter which would not brook
In an hour, just after she had finished her food, which she ate with more
appetite than she had known for days, it was reported that they were
there. Throwing on her white cloak, and taking her horn wand, she entered
the litter and, guarded by a hundred men, was borne swiftly to the House
of Dingaan. At its gate she descended, and once more entered that court by
As before, there sat the King and his indunas without the Great Hut, and
while she walked towards them every man rose crying "Hail! Inkosazana."
Yes, even Dingaan, mountain of flesh though he was, struggled from his
stool and saluted her. Rachel acknowledged the salutation by raising her
wand, motioned to them to be seated, and waited.
"Art thou come, White One," asked Dingaan, "to make clear those dark words
thou spokest to us a moon ago?"
"Nay, King," she answered, "what I said then, I said once and for all.
Read thou the saying as thou wilt, or let the Ghost-people interpret it to
thee. Hear me, King and Councillors. Ye have kept me here when I would be
gone, my business being ended, that I might be a judge among this people.
Ye have told me that the rivers were in flood, that the beast I rode was
sick, that evil would befall the land if I deserted you. Now I know, and
ye know, that if it pleased me I could have departed when and whither I
would, but it was not fitting that the Inkosazana should creep out of
Zululand like a thief in the night, so I abode on in my house yonder. Yet
my heart grew wrath with you, and I, to whom the white people listen also,
was half minded to bring hither the thousands of the Amaboona who are
encamped beyond the Buffalo River, that they might escort me to my home."
Now at these bold words the King looked uneasy, and one of the councillors
whispered to another,
"How knows she that the white men are camped beyond the Buffalo?"
"Yet," went on Rachel, "I did not do so, for then there must have been
much fighting and bloodshed, and blood I hate. But I have done this. With
these Amaboona travels an English chief, a young man, one Darrien, whom I
knew from long years ago, and who does me reverence. Him, then, I have
commanded to journey hither, and to lead me to my own place across the
Tugela. To-night I am told he sleeps a short three days' journey from this
town, and I am come here to bid you send out swift messengers to guide him
She ceased, and they stared at her awhile. Then the King asked,
"What messenger is it, Inkosazana, that thou hast sent to this white
chief, Dario? We have seen none pass from thy house."
"Dost thou think, then, King, that thou canst see my messengers? My
thoughts flew from me to him, and called in his ear in the night, and I
saw his coming in the still pool that lies near my huts."
"_Ow!_" exclaimed one of the Council, "she sent her thoughts to him like
birds, and she saw his coming in the water of the pool. Great is the magic
of the Inkosazana."
"The chief, Darrien," went on Rachel, without heeding the interruption,
although she noted that it was Mopo of the withered hand who had spoken
from beneath the blanket wrapped about his head, "may be known thus. He is
fair of face, with eyes like my eyes, and beard and hair of the colour of
gold. If I saw right, he rides upon a black horse with one white foot and
his only companion is a Kaffir named Quabi who, I think," and she passed
her hand across her forehead, "yes, who was surely visiting a relation of
his, at this, the Great Place, when I crossed the Tugela."
Now the King asked if any knew of this Quabi, and an induna answered in an
awed voice, that it was true that a man so called had been in the town at
the time given by the Inkosazana, staying with a soldier whose name he
mentioned, but who was now away on service. He had, however, departed
before the Inkosazana arrived, or so he believed, whither he knew not.
"I thought it was so," went on Rachel. "As I saw him in the pool he is a
thin man whose shoulders stoop, and whose beard is white, although his
hair is black. He wears no ring upon his head."
"That is the man," said the induna, "being a stranger I noted him well, as
it was my business to do."
"Summon the messengers swiftly, King," went on Rachel, "and let them
depart at once, for know that this white chief and his servant are under
the protection of the Heavens, and if harm comes to them, then I lay my
curse upon the land, and it shall break up in blood and ruin. Bid them say
to Darrien, that the Inkosazana-y-Zoola, she who stood with him once on
the rock in the river while the lightnings fell and the lions roared about
them, sends him greetings and awaits him."
Now Dingaan turned to an induna and said,
"Go, do the bidding of the Inkosazana. Bid swift runners search out this
white chief, and lead him to her house, and remember that if aught of ill
befalls him, those men die, and thou diest also."
The induna leapt up and departed, and Rachel also made ready to go. A
moment later the captain of the gate entered, fell upon his knees before
Dingaan, and said,
"O King, tidings."
"What are they, man?" he asked.
"King, the watchmen report that it has been called from hilltop to hilltop
that a white man who rides a black horse, has crossed the Buffalo, and
travels towards the Great Place. What is thy pleasure? Shall he be killed
or driven back?"
"When did that news come?" asked the King in the silence which followed
"Not a minute gone," he answered. "The inner watchman ran with it, and is
without the gates. There has been no other tidings from the West for
"Thy watchmen call but slowly, King, the water in the pool speaks
swifter," said Rachel, then still in the midst of a heavy silence, for
this thing was fearful to them, she turned and departed.
"So it is true, so it is true!" Rachel kept repeating to herself, the
words suiting themselves to the time of the footfall of her bearers. She
was spent with all the labour and emotions of that long day, culminating
in the last scene, when she must play her dangerous, superhuman part
before these keen-witted savages. She could think no more; scarcely could
she undress and throw herself upon her bed in the hut. Yet that night she
slept soundly, better than she had done since Noie went away. No dreams
came to trouble her and in the morning she woke refreshed.
But now doubts did come. Might she not be mistaken after all? She knew the
marvellous powers of the natives in the matter of the transmission of
news, powers so strange that many, even among white people, attributed
them to witchcraft. She had no doubt, therefore, as to the fact of some
Englishman or Boer having entered Zululand. Doubtless the news of his
arrival had been conveyed over scores of miles of country by the calling
of it as the captain said, from hill to hill, or in some other fashion.
But might not this arrival and the circumstance of her dream or vision be
a mere coincidence? What was there to show that the stranger who was
riding a black horse was really Richard Darrien? Perhaps it was all a
mistake, and he was only one of those white wanderers of the stamp of the
outcast Ishmael who, even at that date, made their way into savage
countries for the purposes of gain or to enjoy a life of licence. And yet,
and yet Quabi, of whom she also dreamed, had visited the Great Place--as
The next two days were terrible to Rachel. She endured them as she had
endured all those that went before, trying the cases that were brought to
her, keeping up her appearance of distant dignity and utter indifference.
She asked no questions, since to do so would be to show doubt and
weakness, although she was aware that the tale of her vision had spread
through the land, and that the issue of the matter was of intense interest
to thousands. From some talk which she overheard while she pretended to be
listening to evidence, she learned even that two men going to execution
had discussed it, saying that they regretted they would not live to know
the truth. On the second day she did hear one piece of news, for although
she sat by her pool and again tried to sleep by its waters, these remained
blind and dumb.
The induna, Tamboosa, on one of his ceremonial visits, after speaking of
the health of her mare, which, it seemed was improving, mentioned
incidentally that the messengers running night and day had met the white
man and "called back" that he was safe and well. He added that had it not
been for her vision this said white man would certainly have been killed
as a spy.
"Yes, I knew that," answered Rachel, indifferently, although her heart
thumped within her bosom. "I forget if I said that the Inkosi was to be
brought straight here when he arrives. If not, let it be known that such
is my command. The King can receive him afterwards if it pleases him to do
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