The Ghost Kings
H. Rider Haggard
Part 4 out of 7
so, as probably we shall not depart until the next day."
Then she yawned, and as though by an afterthought asked if any news had
been "called back" from Noie.
Tamboosa answered, No; no system of intelligence had been organised in the
direction in which she had gone, for that country was empty of enemies,
and indeed of population. However, this would not distress the Inkosazana,
who had only to consult her Spirit to see all that happened to her
Rachel replied that of course this was so, but as a matter of fact she had
not troubled about the matter, then waved her hand to show that the
interview was at an end.
It was the morning of the third day, and while Rachel was delivering
judgment in a case, a messenger entered and whispered something to the
induna on duty, who rose and saluted her.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Only this, Inkosazana; the white Inkoos from the Buffalo River has
arrived, and is without."
"Good," said Rachel, "let him wait there." Then she went on with her
judgment. Yes, she went on, although her eyes were blind, and the blood
beating in her ears sounded like the roll of drums. She finished it, and
after a decent interval, bowed her head in acknowledgement of the
customary salutes, and made the sign which intimated that the Court was to
Slowly, slowly, all the crowd melted away, leaving her alone with her
"Go," she said to one of them, "and bid the captain admit this white
chief. Say that he is to come unarmed and alone. Then depart, all of you.
If I should need you I will call."
The girl went on her errand while her companions filed away through the
back gate of the inner fence. Rachel glanced round to make sure of her
solitude. It was complete, no one was left. There she sat in state upon
her carved stool, her wand in her hand, her white cloak upon her
shoulders, and the sunlight that passed over the round of the hut behind
her glinting on her hair till it shone like a crown of gold, but leaving
her face in shadow; sat quite still like some lovely tinted statue.
The gate of the inner fence opened and closed again after a man who
entered. He walked forward a few paces, then stood still, for the flood of
light that revealed him so clearly at first prevented him from seeing her
seated in the shadow. Oh! there could be no further doubt--before her was
Richard Darrien, the lad grown to manhood, from, whom she had parted so
many years ago. Now, as then, he was not tall, though very strongly built,
and for the rest, save for his short beard, the change in him seemed
little. The same clear, thoughtful, grey eyes, the same pleasant, open
face, the same determined mouth. She was not disappointed in him, she knew
this at once. She liked him as well as she had done at the first.
Now he caught sight of her and stayed there, staring. She tried to speak,
to welcome him, but could not, no words would come. He also seemed to be
smitten with dumbness, and thus the two of them remained a while. At last
he took off his hat almost mechanically, as though from instinct, and said
"You are the Inkosazana-y-Zoola, are you not?"
"I am so called," she answered softly, and with effort.
The moment that he heard her voice, with a movement so swift that it was
almost a spring, he advanced to her, saying,
"Now I am sure; you are Rachel Dove, the little girl who--Oh, Rachel, how
lovely you have grown!"
"I am glad you think so, Richard," she answered again in the same low,
deep voice, a voice laden with the love within her, and reddening to her
eyes. Then she let fall her wand, and rising, stretched out both her hands
They were face to face, now, but he did not take those hands; he passed
his arms about her, drew her to him unresisting, and kissed her on the
lips. She slipped from his embrace down on to her stool, white now as she
had been red. Then while he stood over her, trembling and confused, Rachel
looked up, her beautiful eyes filled with tears, and whispered,
"Why should I be ashamed? It is Fate."
"Yes," he answered, "Fate."
For so both, of them knew it to be. Though they had seen each other but
once before, their love was so great, the bond between their natures so
perfect and complete, that this outward expression of it would not be
denied. Here was a mighty truth which burst through all wrappings of
convention and proclaimed itself in its pure strength and beauty. That
kiss of theirs was the declaration of an existent unity which
circumstances did not create, nor their will control, and thus they
confessed it to each other.
"How long?" she asked, looking up at him.
"Eight years to-day," he answered, "since I rode away after those
"Eight years," she repeated, "and no word from you all that time. You have
behaved badly to me, Richard."
"No, no, I could not find out. I wrote three times, but always the letters
were returned, except one that went to the wrong people, who were angry
about it. Then two years ago, I heard that your father and mother had been
in Natal, but had gone to England, and that you were dead. Yes, a man told
me that you were dead," he added with a gulp. "I suppose he was speaking
of somebody else, as he could not remember whether the name was Dove or
Cove, or perhaps he was just lying. At any rate, I did not believe, him. I
always felt that you were alive."
"Why did you not come to see, Richard?"
"Why? Because it was impossible. For years my father was an invalid,
paralysed; and I was his only child, and could not leave him."
She looked a question at him.
"Yes," he answered with a nod, "dead, ten months ago, and for a few weeks
I had to remain to arrange about the property, of which he left a good
deal, for we did well of late years. Just then I heard a rumour of an
English missionary and his wife and daughter who were said to be living
somewhere beyond the boundaries of Natal, in a savage place on the
Transvaal side of the Drakensberg, and as some Boers I knew were trekking
into that country I came with them on the chance--a pretty poor one, as
the story was vague enough."
"You came--you came to seek the girl, Rachel Dove?"
"Of course. Otherwise why should I have left my farms down in the Cape to
risk my neck among these savages?"
"And then," went on Rachel, "you or somebody else sent in the spy, Quabi,
who returned to the Boer camp with his story about the Inkosazana-y-Zoola.
You remember you brought him in limping to that old fellow with a grey
beard and a large pipe, and the others who laughed at the tale. I mean
when you said that this Inkosazana seemed very like an English maid, 'the
daughter of a teacher,' whom you were looking for, and that you would go
to find out the truth of the business."
"Yes, that's all right; but Rachel," he added with a start, "how do you
know anything about it--Oom Piet and the rest, and the words I used? Your
spies must be very good and quick, for you can't have seen Quabi."
"My spies are good and quick. Did you get my message sent by the King's
men? It was that she who stood with you on the rock in the river, greeted
you and awaited you?"
"Yes, I could not understand. I do not understand now. Just before that
they were going to kill me as a Boer spy. Who told you everything?"
"My heart," she answered smiling. "I dreamed it all. I suppose that I was
allowed to save your life that I might bring you here to save me. Listen
now, Richard, while I tell you the strangest story that you ever heard;
and if you don't believe it, go and ask the King and his indunas."
Then she told him of her vision by the pool and all that happened after
it. When she had finished Richard could only shake his head and say:
"Still I don't understand; but no wonder these Zulus have made a goddess
of you. Well, Rachel, what is to happen now? If you are to stop here they
mayn't care for me as a high priest."
"I am not; I am going home, and you must take me. I told them that you
were coming to do so. You have your horse, have you not, the black horse
with the white forefoot? Well, we will start at once--no, you must eat
first, and there are things to arrange. Now stand at a distance from me
and look as respectful as you can, for I fill a strange position here."
Then Rachel clapped her hands and the women came running in.
"Bring food for the Inkosi Darrien," she said, "and send hither the
captain of the gate."
Presently the man arrived crouched up in token of respect, and shouting
"Go to the King," said Rachel, "and tell him the Inkosazana commands that
the horse on which she came be brought to her at once, as she leaves
Zululand for a while; also that an impi be assembled within an hour to
escort her and this white chief, her servant, to the Tugela. Say that the
Inkosi Darrien has brought her tidings which make it needful that she
should travel hence speedily if the Zulus, her people, are to be saved
from great misfortune, and say, too, that he goes with her. If the King or
his indunas would see the Inkosazana, or the chief Darrien, let him or the
indunas meet them on their road, since they have no time to visit the
Great Place. Let Tamboosa be in command of the impi, and say also that if
it is not here at once, the Inkosazana will be angry and summon an impi of
her own. Go now, for the lives of many hang upon your speed; yes, the
lives of the greatest in the land."
The man saluted and shot away like an arrow.
"Will they obey you?" asked Richard.
"I think so, because they are afraid of me, especially since I saw you
coming. At any rate we must act at once, it is our best chance--before
they have time to think. Here is some food--eat. Woman, go, tell the guard
that the Inkosi's horse must be fed at the gate, for he will need it
presently, and his servant also."
"I have no servant, Inkosazana," broke in Richard. "I left Quabi at a
kraal fifty miles away, laid up with a cut foot. As soon as he is better
he will slip back across the Buffalo River."
Then while Richard ate, which he did heartily enough, for joy had made him
very hungry, they talked, who had much to tell. He asked her why she
thought it necessary to leave Zululand at once. She answered, for two
reasons, first because of her desperate anxiety about her father and
mother, as to whom her heart foreboded ill, and secondly for his own sake.
She explained that the Zulus who had set her up as an image or a token of
the guiding Spirit of their nation, were madly jealous concerning her, so
jealous that if he remained here long she was by no means certain that
even her power could protect him when they came to understand that he was
much to her. It was impossible that she could see him often, and much more
so that he could remain in her kraal. Therefore if they were detained he
would be obliged to live at some distance from her where an assegai might
find him at night or poison be put in his food. At present they were
impressed by her foreknowledge of his arrival, and that was why he had
been admitted to her at once. But this would wear off--and then who could
say, especially if Ishmael returned?
He asked who Ishmael was and what he had to do with her. Rachel told him
briefly, and though she suppressed much, he looked very grave at that
While she was finishing it a woman called without for leave to enter, and,
as before, Rachel bade him stand in a respectful attitude, and at a
distance from her. Richard obeyed, and the woman came in to say that
certain of the King's indunas craved audience with her. They were admitted
and saluted her in their usual humble fashion, but of Richard, beyond
eyeing him curiously and, as she thought, hostilely, they took not the
"Are all things ready for my journey, as I commanded?" asked Rachel at
"Inkosazana," answered their spokesman, "they are ready, for how canst
thou be disobeyed? Tamboosa and the impi wait without. Yet, Inkosazana,
the heart of the Black One and the hearts of his councillors, and of all
the Zulu people are cut in two because thou wouldst go and leave them
mourning. Their hearts are sore also with this white man Dario, who has
come to lead thee hence, so sore, that were he not thy servant," the
induna added grimly, "he at least should stay in Zululand."
"He is my servant," answered Rachel haughtily, "whom I sent for. Let that
suffice. Remember my words, all of you, and let them be told again in the
ears of the King, that if any harm comes to this white chief who is my
guest and yours, then there will be blood between me and the people of the
Zulus that shall be terribly avenged in blood."
The indunas seemed to cower at this declaration, but made no answer. Only
the chief of them said:
"The King would know if the Inkosi, thy servant, brings thee any tidings
of the Amaboona, the white folk with whom he has been journeying."
"He brings tidings that they seek peace with the Zulus, to whom they will
do no hurt if no hurt is done to them. Shall I tell them that the Zulus
also seek peace?"
"The King gave us no message on that matter, Inkosazana," replied the
induna. "He awaits the coming of the prophets of the Ghost-folk to
interpret the meaning of thy words, and of the omen of the falling star."
"So be it," said Rachel. "When my servant, Noie, returns, let her be sent
on to me at once, that I may hear and consider the words of her people,"
and she began to rise from her seat to intimate that the interview was
"Inkosazana," said the induna hurriedly, "one question from the King--when
dost thou return to Zululand?"
"I return when it is needful. Fear not, I think that I shall return, but I
say to the King and to all of you: Be careful when I come that there is no
blood between me and you, lest great evil fall upon your heads from
Heaven. I have spoken. Good fortune go with you till we meet again."
The indunas looked at each other, then rose and departed humbly as they
* * * * *
An hour later, surrounded by the impi, and followed by Richard, Rachel was
on the Tugela road. At the crest of a hill she pulled rein and looked back
at the great kraal, Umgugundhlovu. Then she beckoned Richard to her side
"I think that before long I shall see that hateful place again."
"Why?" he asked.
"Because of the way in which those indunas looked at each other just now.
There was some evil secret in their eyes. Richard, I am afraid."
WHAT CHANCED AT RAMAH
The news which reached Rachel that Ishmael had been ill after the rough
handling of the captains in her presence, was true enough. For many days
he was far too ill to travel, and when he recovered sufficiently to start
he could only journey slowly to the Tugela.
It will be remembered that she was told that he had escaped, as indeed he
seemed to do, slipping off at night, but this escape of his was carefully
arranged beforehand, nor did any attempt to re-capture him upon his way.
When at length he came to the river he found the small impi awaiting him,
not knowing whither they were to go or what they were to do, their only
orders being that they must obey him in all things. He found also that the
Tugela was in furious flood, so that to ford it proved quite impossible.
Here, then, he was obliged to remain for ten full days while the water ran
Ishmael was not idle during those ten days, which be spent in recovering
his health, and incidentally in reflection. Thus he thought a great deal
of his past life, and did not find the record satisfactory. With his exact
history we need not trouble ourselves. He was well-born, as he had told
Rachel, but had been badly brought up. His strong passions had led him
into trouble while young, and instead of trying to reform him his
belongings had cast him off. Then he had enlisted in the army, and so
reached South Africa. There he committed a crime--as a matter of fact it
was murder or something like it--and fled from justice far into the
wilderness, where a touch of imagination prompted him to take the name of
For a while this new existence suited him well enough. Thus he had wives
in plenty of a sort, and he grew rich, becoming just such a person as
might be expected from his environment and unchecked natural tendencies.
At length it happened that he met Rachel, who awoke in him certain
forgotten associations. She was an English lady, and he remembered that
once he had been an English gentleman, years and years ago. Also she was
beautiful, which appealed to his strong animal nature, and spiritual,
which appealed to a materialist soaked in Kaffir superstition. So he fell
in love with her, really in love; that is to say, he came to desire to
make her his wife more than he desired anything else on earth. For her
sake he grew to dislike his black consorts, however handsome; even the
heaping up of herds of cattle after the native fashion ceased to appeal to
him. He wanted to live as his forbears had lived, quietly, respectably,
with a woman of his own class.
So he made advances to her, with the results we know. For fifteen years or
more he had been a savage, and he could not hide his savagery from her
eyes any more than he could break off the ties and entanglements that had
grown up about him. Had she happened to care for him, it is very possible,
however, that in this he would have succeeded in time. He might even have
reformed himself completely, and died in old age a much-respected colonial
gentleman; perhaps a member of the local Legislature. But she did not; she
detested him; she knew him for what he was, a cowardly outcast whose good
looks did not appeal to her. So the spark of his new aspirations was
trampled out beneath her merciless heel, and there remained only the
acquired savagery and superstition mixed with the inborn instincts of a
It was this superstition of his that had, brought all her troubles upon
Rachel, for however it came about, he had conceived the idea that she was
something more than an ordinary woman and, with many tales of her
mysterious origin and powers, imparted it to the Zulus, in whose minds it
was fostered by the accident of the coincidence of her native name and
personal loveliness with those of the traditional white Spirit of their
race, and by Mopo's identification of her with that Spirit. Thus she
became their goddess and his; at any rate for a time. But while they
desired to worship her only, and use her rumoured wisdom as an oracle, he
sought to make her his wife; the more impossible it became, the more he
sought it. She refused him with contumely, and he laid plots to decoy her
to Zululand, thinking that there she would be in his power. In the end he
succeeded, basely enough, only to find that he was in her power, and that
the contumely, and more, were still his share.
But all this did not in the least deter him from his aim, and as it
chanced, fortune had put other cards into his hand. He knew that Rachel
would not stay among the Zulus, as they knew it. Therefore they had
commissioned him to bring her people to her. If her people were not
brought he was sure that she would come to seek them, and _if she found no
one_, then where could she go, or at least who would be at hand to help
her? Surely his opportunity had come at last, and marriage by capture did
not occur to him, who had spent so many years among savages, as a crime
from which to shrink. Only he feared that the prospective captive, the
Inkosazana-y-Zoola, was not one with whom it was safe to trifle. But his
love was stronger than his fear. He thought that he would take the risk.
Such were the reflections of Ishmael upon the banks of the flooded Tugela,
and when at length the waters went down sufficiently to enable him and the
soldiers under his command to cross into Natal, he was fully determined to
put them into practice, if the chance came his way. How this might best be
done he left to luck, for if it could be avoided he did not wish to have
more blood upon his hands. Only Rachel must be rendered homeless and
friendless, for then who could protect her from him? An answer came into
his mind--she might protect herself, or that Power which seemed to go with
her might protect her. Something warned him that this evil enterprise was
very dangerous. Yet the fire that burnt within him drove him on to face
Ishmael was still on the Zululand bank of the river when one day about
noon an urgent message reached him from Dingaan. It said that the King was
angry as a wounded buffalo to learn, as he had just done, that he,
Ibubesi, still lingered on his road, and had not carried out his mission.
The Inkosazana, accompanied by a white man, was travelling to Ramah, and
unless he went forward at once, would overtake him. Therefore he must
march instantly and bring back the old Teacher and his wife as he had been
bidden. Should he meet the Inkosazana and her companion as he returned
with the white prisoners she must not be touched or insulted in any way,
only his ears and those of the soldiers with him were to be deaf to her
orders or entreaties to release them, for then she would surely turn and
follow of her own accord back to the Great Place. If the white man with
her made trouble or resisted, he was to be bound, but on no account must
his blood be made to flow, for if this happened it would bring a curse
upon the land, and he, Dingaan, swore by the head of the Black One who was
gone (that is Chaka) that he would kill him, Ibubesi, in payment. Yes, he
would smear him with honey and bind him over an ant-heap in the sun till
he died, if he hunted Africa from end to end to catch him. Moreover,
should he fail in the business, he would send a regiment and destroy his
town at Mafooti, and, put his wives and people to the spear, and seize his
cattle. All this also he swore by the head of the Black One.
Now when Ishmael received this message he was much frightened, for he knew
that these were not idle threats. Indeed, the exhausted messenger told him
that never had any living man seen Dingaan so mad with rage as he was when
he learned that he, Ibubesi, was still lingering on the banks of the
Tugela, adding that he had foamed at the mouth with fury and uttered
terrible threats. Ishmael sent him back with a humble answer, pointing out
that it had been impossible to cross the river, which was "in wrath," but
that now he would do all things as he was commanded, and especially that
not a hair of the white man's head should be harmed.
"Then you must do them quickly," said the messenger with a grim smile as
he rose and prepared to go, "for know that the Inkosazana is not more than
half a day's march behind you, accompanied by the white Inkoos Dario."
"What is this Dario like?" asked Ishmael.
"Oh! he is young and very handsome, with hair and beard of gold, and eyes
that are such as those of the Inkosazana herself. Some say that he is her
brother, another child of the Heavens, and some that he is her husband.
Who am I that I should speak of such high things? But it is evident that
she loves him very much, for by her magic she told the King of his coming,
and even when he is behind her she is always trying to turn her head to
look at him."
"Oh! she loves him very much, does she?" said Ishmael, setting his white
teeth. Then he turned, and calling the captain of the impi, gave orders
that the river must be crossed at once, for so the King commanded, and it
was better to die with honour by water than with shame by the spear.
So they waded and swam the river with great difficulty, but, as it
chanced, without loss of life, Ishmael being borne over it upon the
shoulders of the strongest men. Upon its further bank he summoned the
captains and delivered to them the orders of the King. Then they set out
for Ramah, Ishmael carried in a litter made of boughs.
Whilst the soldiers were constructing this litter, he called two men of
the Swamp-dwellers, who had their homes upon the banks of the Tugela, and
promising them a reward, bade them run to his town, Mafooti, and tell his
head man there to come at once with thirty of the best soldiers, and to
hide them in the bush of the kloof above Ramah, where he would join them
that night. The men, who knew Ibubesi, and what happened to those who
failed upon his business, went swiftly, and a little while afterwards, the
litter being finished, Ishmael entered it, and the impi started for Ramah.
Before sundown they appeared upon a ridge overlooking the settlement, just
as the herds were driving the cattle into their kraals. Seeing the Zulus
while as yet they were some way off, these herds shouted an alarm, whereon
the people of the place, thinking that Dingaan had sent a regiment to wipe
them out, fled to the bush, the herds driving the cattle after them. Man,
woman, and child, deserting their pastor, who knew nothing of all this,
being occupied with a sad business, they fled, incontinently, so that when
Ishmael and the impi entered Ramah, no one was left in it save a few aged
and sick people, who could not walk.
At the outskirts of the town Ishmael descended from his litter and
commanded the soldiers to surround it, with orders that they were to hurt
no one, but if the white Umfundusi, who was called Shouter, or his wife
attempted to escape, they were to be seized and brought to him. Then
taking with him some of the captains and a guard of ten men, he advanced
to the mission-house.
The door was open, and, followed by the Zulus, he entered to search the
place, for he feared that its inhabitants might have seen them, and have
gone with the others. Looking into the first room that they reached, of
which, as it chanced, the door was also open, Ishmael saw that this was
not so, for there upon the bed lay Mrs. Dove, apparently very ill, while
by the side of the bed knelt her husband, praying. For a few moments
Ishmael and the savages behind him stood still, staring at the pair, till
suddenly Mrs. Dove turned her head and saw them. Lifting herself in the
bed she pointed with her finger, and Ishmael noticed that her lips were
quite blue, and that she did not seem to be able to speak. Then Mr. Dove,
observing her outstretched hand, looked round. He had not seen Ishmael
since that day when he struck him after their stormy interview at Mafooti,
but recognising the man at once, he asked sternly:
"What are you doing, sir, with these savages in my house? Cannot you see
that my wife is sick, and must not be disturbed?"
"I am sorry," Ishmael answered shamefacedly, for in his heart he was
afraid of Mr. Dove, "but I am sent to you with a message from Dingaan the
King, and," he added as an afterthought, "from your daughter."
"From my daughter!" exclaimed Mr. Dove eagerly. "What of her? Is she well?
We cannot get any certain news of her, only rumours."
"I saw her but once." replied Ishmael, "and she was well enough, then. You
know the Zulus have made her their Inkosazana, and keep her guarded."
"Does she live quite alone then with these savages?"
"She did, but I am sorry I must tell you that she seems to have a
companion now, some scoundrel of a white man with whom she has taken up,"
"My daughter take up with a scoundrel of a white man! It is false. What is
this man's name?"
"I don't know, but the natives call him Dario, and say that he is young,
and has fair hair, and that she is in love with him. That's all I can tell
you about the man."
Mr. Dove shook his head, but his wife sat up suddenly in bed, and plucked
him by the sleeve, for she had been listening intently to everything that
"Dario! Young, fair hair, in love with him--" she repeated in a thick
whisper, then added, "John, it is Richard Darrien grown up--the boy who
saved her in the Umtooma River, years ago, and whom she has never
forgotten. Oh! thank God! Thank God! With him she will be safe. I always
knew that he would find her, for they belong to each other," and she sank
"That's what the Zulus say, that they belong to each other," replied
Ishmael, with another sneer. "Perhaps they are married native fashion."
"Stop insulting my daughter, sir," said Mr. Dove angrily. "She would not
take a husband as you take your wives, nor if this man is Richard Darrien,
as I pray, would he be a party to such a thing. Tell me, are they coming
"Not they, they are far too comfortable where they are. Also the Zulus
would prevent them. But don't be sad about it, for I am sent to take you
both to join her at the Great Place where you are to live."
"To join her! It is impossible," ejaculated Mr. Dove, glancing at his sick
"Impossible or not, you've got to come at once, both of you. That is the
King's order and the Inkosazana's wish, and what is more there is an impi
outside to see that you obey. Now I give you five minutes to get ready,
and then we start."
"Man, are you mad? How can my wife travel to Zululand in her state? She
cannot walk a step."
"Then she can be carried," answered Ishmael callously. "Come, don't waste
time in talking. Those are my orders, and I am not going to have my throat
cut for either of you. If Mrs. Dove won't dress wrap her up in blankets."
"You go, John, you go," whispered his wife, "or they will kill you. Never
mind about me; my time has come, and I die happy, for Richard Darrien is
The mention of Richard's name seemed to infuriate Ishmael. At any rate he
"Are you coming, or must I use force?"
"Coming, you wicked villain! How can I come?" shouted Mr. Dove, for he was
mad with grief and rage. "Be off with your savages. I will shoot the first
man who lays a finger on my wife," and as he spoke he snatched a
double-barrelled pistol which hung upon the wall and cocked it.
Ishmael turned to the Zulus who stood behind him watching this scene with
"Seize the Shouter," he said, "and bind him. Lift the old woman on her
mattress, and carry her. If she dies on the road we cannot help it."
The captains hesitated, not from fear, but because Mrs. Dove's condition
moved even their savage hearts to pity.
"Why do you not obey?" roared Ishmael. "Dogs and cowards, it is the King's
word. Take her up or you shall die, every man of you, you know how. Knock
down the old Evildoer with your sticks if he gives trouble."
Now the men hesitated no longer. Springing forward, several of them seized
the mattress and began to lift it bodily. Mrs. Dove rose and tried to
struggle from the bed, then uttered a low moaning cry, fell back, and lay
"You devils, you have killed her!" gasped Mr. Dove, as lifting the pistol
he fired at the Zulu nearest to him, shooting him through the body so that
he sank upon the floor dying. Then, fearing lest he should shoot again,
the captains fell upon the poor old man, striking him with kerries and the
handles of their spears, for they sought to disable him and make him drop
As it chanced, though this was not their intention, in the confusion a
heavy blow from a knobstick struck him on the temple. The second barrel of
the pistol went off, and the bullet from it but just missed Ishmael who
was standing to one side. When the smoke cleared away it was seen that Mr.
Dove had fallen backwards on to the bed. The martyrdom he always sought
and expected had overtaken him. He was quite dead. They were both dead!
The head induna in command of the impi stepped forward and looked at them,
then felt their hearts.
"_Wow!_" he said, "these white people have 'gone beyond.' They have gone
to join the spirits, both of them. What now, Ibubesi?"
Ishmael, who stood in the corner, very white-faced, and staring with round
eyes, for the tragedy had taken a turn that he did not intend or expect,
shook himself and rubbed his forehead with his hand, answering:
"Carry them into the Great Place, I suppose. The King ordered that they
should be brought there. Why did you kill that old Shouter, you fools?" he
added with irritation. "You have brought his blood and the curse of the
Inkosazana on our heads."
"_Wow!_" answered the induna again, "you bade us strike him with sticks,
and our orders were to obey you. Who would have guessed that the old man's
skull was so thin from thinking? You or I would never have felt a tap like
that. But they are 'gone beyond,' and we will not defile ourselves by
touching them. Dead bones are of no use to anyone, and their ghosts might
haunt us. Come, brethren, let us go back to the King and make report. The
order was Ibubesi's, and we are not to blame."
"Yes," they answered, "let us go back and make report. Are you coming,
"Not I," he answered. "Do I want to have my neck twisted because of your
clumsiness? Go you and win your own peace if you can, but if you see the
Inkosazana, my advice is that you avoid her lest she learn the truth, and
bring your deaths upon you, for, know, she travels hither, and she called
these folk father and mother."
"Without doubt we will avoid her," said the captain, "who fear her
terrible curse. But, Ibubesi, it is on you that it will fall, not on us
who did but obey you as we were bidden; yes, on you she will bring down
death before this moon dies. Make your peace with the Heavens, if you can,
Ibubesi, as we go to try to make ours with the King."
"Would you bewitch me, you ill-omened dog?" shouted Ishmael, wiping the
sweat of fear off his brow, "May you soon be stiff!"
"Nay, nay, Ibubesi, it is you who shall be stiff. The Inkosazana will see
to that, and were I not sure of it I would make you so myself, who am a
noble who will not be called names by a white _umfagozan_, a low-born
fellow who plots for blood, but leaves its shedding to brave men.
Farewell, Ibubesi; if the jackals leave anything of you after the
Inkosazana has spoken, we will return to bury your bones," and he turned
"Stay," cried the dying man on the floor, "would you leave me here in
pain, my brothers?"
The induna stepped to him and examined him.
"It is mortal," he said, shaking his head, "right through the liver. Why
did not the white man's thunder smite Ibubesi instead of you, and save the
Inkosazana some trouble? Well, your arms are still strong and here is a
spear; you know where to strike. Be quick with your messages. Yes, yes, I
will see that they are delivered. Good-night, my brother. Do you remember
how we stood side by side in that big fight twenty years ago, when the
Pondo giant got me down and you fell on the top of me and thrust upwards
and killed him? It was a very good fight, was it not? We will talk it over
again in the World of Spirits. Good-night, my brother. Yes, yes, I will
deliver the message to your little girl, and tell her where the necklace
is to be found, and that you wish her to name her firstborn son after you.
Good-night. Use that assegai at once, for your wound must be painful, or
perhaps as you are down upon the ground Ibubesi will do it for you.
Good-night, my brother, and Ibubesi, goodnight to you also. We cross the
Tugela by another drift, wait you here for the Inkosazana, and tell her
how the Shouter died."
Then they turned and went. The wounded man watched them pass the door, and
when the last of them had gone he used the assegai upon himself, and with
his failing hand flung it feebly at Ishmael.
The dying Zulu's spear struck Ishmael, who had turned his head away, upon
the cheek, just pricking it and causing the blood to flow, no more.
Ishmael was still also, paralysed almost, or so he seemed, for even the
pain of the cut did not make him move. He stared at the bodies of Mr. and
Mrs. Dove; he stared at the dead Zulu, and in his heart a voice cried:
"You have murdered them. By now they are pleading to God for vengeance on
you, Ishmael, the outcast. You will never dare to be alone again, for they
will haunt you."
As he thought it the relaxed hand of the old clergyman who had fallen in a
sitting posture on the bed, slipped from his wounded head which he had
clasped just before he died, and for a moment seemed to point at him. He
shivered, but still he could not stir. How dreadful and solemn was that
face! And those eyes, how they searched out the black record of his heart!
The quiet rays of the afternoon sun suddenly flowed in through the window
place and illumined the awful, accusing face till it shone like that of a
saint in glory. A drop of blood from the cut upon his cheek splashed on to
the floor, and the noise of it struck on his strained nerves loud as a
pistol-shot. Blood, his own blood wherewith he must pay for that which he
had shed. The sight and the thought seemed to break the spell. With an
oath he bounded out of the room like a frightened wolf, those dead staring
at him as he went, and rushed from the house that held them.
Beyond its walls Ishmael paused. The Zulus had fled in one direction, and
the inhabitants of Ramah in another; there was no one to be seen. His eye
fell upon the dense mass of bush above the station, and he remembered the
message that he had sent to his own people to meet him there. Perhaps they
had already arrived. He would go to see, he who was in such sore need of
human company. As he went his numbed faculties returned to him, and in the
open light of day some of his terror passed. He began to think again. What
was done was done; he could not bring the dead back to life. He was not
really to blame, and after all, things had worked out well for him. Save
for this white man, Dario, Rachel was now alone in the world, and dead
people did not speak, there was no one to tell her of his share in the
tragedy. Why should she not turn to him who had no one else to whom she
could go? The white man, if he were still with her, could be got rid of
somehow; very likely he would run away, and they two would be left quite
alone. At any rate it was for her sake that be had entered on this black
road of sin, and what did one step more matter, the step that led him to
his reward? Of course it might lead him somewhere else. Rachel was a woman
to be feared, and the Zulus were to be feared, and other things to which
he could give no shape or name, but that he felt pressing round him, were
still more to be feared. Perhaps he would do best to fly, far into the
interior, or by ship to some other land where none would know him and his
black story. What! Fly companioned by those ghosts, and leave Rachel, the
woman for whom he burned, with this Dario, whom the Zulus said she loved,
and with whom her mother, just before her end, had declared that she would
be safe? Never. She was his; he had bought her with blood, and he would
have the due the devil owed him.
He was in the bush now, and a voice called him, that of his head man.
"Come out, you dog," he said, searching the dense foliage with his eyes,
and the man appeared, saluting him humbly.
"We received your message and we have come, Inkoos. We are but just
arrived. What has chanced here that the town is so still?"
"The Zulus have been and gone. They have killed the white Teacher and his
wife, though I thought to save them--look at my wound. Also the people are
"Ah!" replied the head man, "that was an ill deed, for he was holy, and a
great prophet, and doubtless his spirit is strong to revenge. Well for you
is it, Master, that you had no hand in the deed, as at first I feared
might be the case, for know that last night a strange dog climbed on to
your hut and howled there and would not be driven away, nor could we kill
it with spears, so we think it was a ghost. All your wives thought that
evil had drawn near to you."
Ishmael struck him across the mouth, exclaiming.
"Be silent, you accursed wizard, or you shall howl louder than your
"I meant no harm," answered the man humbly, but with a curious gleam in
his eye. "What are your commands, Chief?"
"That we watch here. I think that the daughter of the Shouter, she who is
called Inkosazana-y-Zoola, is coming, and she may need help. Have you
brought thirty men with you as I bade you through my messengers?"
"Aye, Ibubesi, they are all hidden in the bush. I go to summon them,
though I think that the mighty Inkosazana, who can command all the Zulu
impis and all the spirits of the dead, will need little help from us."
RACHEL COMES HOME
As Rachel had travelled up from the Tugela to the Great Place, so she
travelled back from the Great Place to the Tugela in state and dignity
such as became a thing divine, perhaps the first white woman, moreover,
who had ever entered Zululand. All day she rode alone, Tamboosa leading
the white ox before her and Richard following behind, while in front and
to the rear marched the serried ranks of the impi, her escort. At night,
as before, she slept alone in the empty kraals provided for her, attended
by the best-born maidens, Richard being lodged in some hut without the
So at length, about noon one day, they reached the banks of the Tugela,
not many hours after Ishmael had crossed it, and camped there. Now, after
she had eaten, Rachel sent for Richard, with whom she had found but few
opportunities to talk during that journey. He came and stood before her,
as all must do, and she addressed him in English while the spies and
captains watched him sullenly, for they were angry at this use of a
foreign tongue which they could not understand. Preserving a cold and
distant air, she asked him of his health, and how he had fared.
"Well enough," he answered. "And now, what are your plans? The river is in
flood, you will find it difficult to cross. Still it can be done, for I
hear that the white man, Ishmael, of whom you told me, forded it this
morning with a company of armed men."
Aware of the eyes that watched her, with an effort Rachel showed no
"How is that?" she asked. "I thought the man fled from Zululand many days
ago. Why then does he leave the country with soldiers?"
"I can't tell you, Rachel. There is something queer about the business.
When I inquire, everyone shrugs his shoulders. They say that the King
knows his own business. If I were you I would ask no questions, for you
will learn nothing, and if you do not ask they will think that you know
"I understand," she said. "But, Richard, I must cross the river to-day.
You and I must cross it alone and reach Ramah to-night. Richard, something
weighs upon my heart; I am terribly afraid."
"How will you manage it?" he asked, ignoring the rest.
"I can't tell you yet, Richard, but keep my horse and yours saddled there
where you are encamped," and she nodded towards a hut about fifty yards
away. "I think that I shall come to you presently. Now go."
So he saluted her and went.
Presently Rachel sent for Tamboosa and the captains, and asked the state
of the river which was out of sight about half a mile from them. They
replied that it was "very angry"; none could think of attempting its
passage, as much water was coming down.
"Is it so?" she said indifferently. "Well, I must look," and with slow
steps she walked towards the hut where she knew the horses were, followed
by Tamboosa and the captains.
Reaching it, she saw them standing saddled on its further side, and by
them Richard, seated on the ground smoking. As she came he rose and
saluted her, but, taking no heed of him, she went to her grey mare, and,
placing her foot in the stirrup, sprang to the saddle, motioning to him to
"Whither goest thou, Inkosazana?" asked Tamboosa anxiously.
"To throw a charm on the waters," she answered, "so that they may run down
and I can cross them to morrow. Come, Dario, and come Tamboosa, but let
the rest stay behind, since common eyes must not look upon my magic, and
he who dares to look shall be struck with blindness."
The captains hesitated, and turning on them fiercely she commanded them to
obey her word lest some evil should befall them.
Then they fell back and she rode towards the Tugela, followed by Richard
on horseback and Tamboosa on foot. Arrived at that spot on the bank where
she had received the salutation of the regiment when she entered Zululand,
Rachel saw at once that although the great river was full it could easily
be forded on horseback. Calling Richard to her, she said:
"We must go, and now, while there is no one to stop us but Tamboosa. Do
not hurt him unless he tries to spear you, for he has been kind to me."
Then she addressed Tamboosa, saying:
"I have spoken to the waters and they will not harm me. The hour has come
when I must leave my people for a while, and go forward alone with my
white servant, Dario. These are my commands, that none should dare to
follow me save only yourself, Tamboosa, who can bring on the white ox with
its load so soon as the water has run down and deliver them to me at
Ramah. Do you hear me?"
"I hear, Inkosazana," answered the old induna, "and thy words split my
"Yet you will obey them, Tamboosa."
"Yes, I will obey them who know what would befall me otherwise, and that
it is the King's will that none should dare to thwart thee, even if they
could. Yet I think that very soon thou wilt return to thy children.
Therefore, why not abide with us until to-morrow, when the waters will be
"Tamboosa," said Rachel, leaning forward and looking him in the eyes, "why
did Ibubesi cross this river with soldiers but a few hours ago--Ibubesi,
who fled from the Great Place when the moon was young that now is full?
Look, there goes their spoor in the mud."
"I know not," he answered, looking down. "Inkosazana, to-morrow I will
bring on the white ox to Ramah, and I will bring it alone."
"So be it, Tamboosa, but if by chance you should not find me, ask where
Ibubesi is, and if need be, seek for me with an impi, Tamboosa--for me and
for this white man, Dario," and again she bent forward and looked at him.
"I know not what thou meanest, Inkosazana," he replied. "But of this be
sure, that if I cannot find thee, then I will seek for thee, if need be
with every spear in Zululand at my back."
"Farewell, then, Tamboosa, and to the regiment farewell also. Say to the
captains that it is my will that they should return to the Great Place,
bearing my greetings to the King and those of the white lord, Dario. Look
for me to-morrow at Ramah."
Then, followed by Richard, she rode her horse past him into the lip of the
water. As she went Tamboosa drew himself up and gave her the Bayete, the
Although it was red with earth and flecked with foam and the roar of it
was loud as it sped towards the sea, the river did not prove very
difficult to ford. But once, indeed, were the horses swept off their feet
and forced to swim, and then but for a few paces, after which they
regained them, and plunged to the farther bank without accident.
"Free at last, Rachel, with our lives before us and nothing more to fear,"
called Richard in his cheery voice, as he forced his horse alongside of
hers. Then suddenly he caught sight of her face and saw that it was white
and drawn as though with pain; also that she leaned forward on her saddle,
clasping its pommel as though she were about to faint.
"What is it?" he exclaimed in alarm. "Did the flood frighten you,
Rachel--are you ill?"
For a few moments she made no answer, then straightened herself with a
sigh and said in a low voice:
"Richard, I have been so long among those Zulus playing the part of a
spirit that I begin to think I am one, or that their magic has got hold of
me. I tell you that in the roar of the water I heard voices--the voices of
my father and mother calling me and speaking of you--and, Richard, they
seemed to be in great fear and pain, for a minute or more I heard them,
then a dreadful cold wind blew on me not this wind, it seemed to come from
above--and everything passed away, leaving my mind numb and empty so that
I do not remember how we came out of the river. Don't laugh at me,
Richard; it is so. The Kaffirs are right; I have some power of the sort.
Remember how I saw you travelling towards me in the pool."
"Why should I laugh at you, dearest?" he asked anxiously, for something of
this uncanny fear passed from her mind into his, with which it was in
tune. "Indeed, I don't laugh who know that you are not quite like other
women. But, Rachel, the strain of those two months has worn you out, and
now the reaction is too much. Perhaps it is nothing.".
"Perhaps," she answered sadly, "I hope so. Richard, what is the time?"
"About a quarter to six, to judge by the sun," he answered,
"Then we shall not be able to reach Ramah before dark."
"No, Rachel, but there is a good moon."
"Yes, there is a good moon; I wonder what it will show us," and she
Then they pressed their horses to a canter and rode on, speaking little,
for the fount of words seemed to be frozen in them, although Richard
recollected, with a curious sense of wonder how he had looked forward to
this opportunity of long, unfettered talk with Rachel and how much he had
to tell her. Over hill and valley, through bush and stream they rode, till
at last with the short twilight they reached the plain that ran to Ramah.
Then came the dark in which they must ride slowly, till presently the
round edge of the moon pushed itself up above the shoulder of a hill and
there was light again--pure, peaceful light that turned the veld to silver
and shone whitely on the pale face of Rachel.
Ramah was before them. They had met no living thing save some wild game
trekking to the water, and heard no sound save the distant roar of some
beast of prey. Ramah was before them. The moon shone on the roofs of the
Mission-house and the little church and the clusters of Kaffir huts
beyond. But, oh! it was silent: no cattle lowed, no child cried, nor did
the bell of the church ring for evening prayer as at this hour it should
have done. Also no lamp showed in the windows of the Mission-house and no
smoke rose from the cooking fires of the kraals.
"Where are all the people, Richard?" whispered Rachel. "There is the place
unharmed, but where are the people?"
But Richard could only shake his head: the terror of something dreadful
had got hold of him also, and he knew not what to say.
Now they had come to the wall of the Mission-house and sprang from their
horses which they left loose. As they advanced side by side towards the
open gate, something leapt the stoep and rushed through it. It was a
striped hyena; they could see the hair bristle on its back as it passed
them with a whining growl. Hand in hand they ran to the house across the
little garden patch--Rachel, led by some instinct, guiding her companion
straight to her parents' room whereof the windows, that opened like doors,
stood wide as the gate had done.
One more moment and they were there; another, and the moonlight showed
For a long while--to Richard it seemed hours--Rachel said nothing; only
stood still like the statue of a woman, staring at those cold faces that
looked back at her through the unearthly moonlight. Indeed, it was Richard
who spoke first, feeling that if he did not this dreadful silence would
choke him or cause him to faint.
"The Zulus have murdered them," he said hoarsely, glancing at the dead
Kaffir on the floor.
"No," she answered in a cold, small voice; "Ishmael, Ishmael!" and she
pointed to something that lay at his feet.
Richard stooped and picked it up. It was a fly wisp of rhinoceros horn
which the man had let fall when the Zulu's spear struck him.
"I know it," she went on; "he always carried it. He is the real murderer.
The Zulus would not have dared," and she choked and was silent.
"Let me think," said Richard confusedly. "There is something in my mind.
What is it? Oh! I know. If you are right that devil has not done this for
nothing. He is somewhere near; he wants to take you"; and he ground his
teeth at the thought, then added: "Rachel, we must get out of this and
ride for Durban, at once--at once; the white people will protect you
"Who will bury my father and mother?" she asked in the same cold voice.
"I do not know, it does not matter, the living are more than the dead. I
can return and see to it afterwards."
"You are right," she answered. Then she knelt down by the bed and lifting
her beautiful, agonised face, put up some silent prayer. Next she rose and
kissed first her father, then her mother, kissed their dead brows in a
last farewell and turned to go. As she went her eyes fell upon the assegai
that lay near to the dead Zulu. Stooping down, she took it and with it in
her hand passed on to the stoep. Here her strength seemed to fail her, for
she reeled against the wall, then with an effort flung herself into
Richard's arms, moaning:
"Only you left, Richard, only you. Oh! if you were taken from me also,
what would become of me?"
A moment later she became aware that the stoep was swarming with men who
seemed to arise out of the shadows. A voice said in the Kaffir tongue:
"Seize that fellow and bind him."
Instantly, before he could do anything, before he could even turn, Richard
was torn from her, struggling furiously, and thrown to the ground. Rachel
sprang to the wall and stood with her back to it, raising the spear she
held. It flashed into her mind that these were Zulus, and of Zulus she was
"What dogs are these," she cried, "that dare to lift a hand against the
Inkosazana and her servant?"
The black men about her swayed and murmured, then made way for a man who
walked up the steps of the stoep. The moonlight fell upon him and she saw
that it was Ishmael.
"Rachel," he said, taking off his hat politely, "these are my people. We
saw that white scoundrel assault you, and of course seized him at once. As
you know a dreadful thing has happened here. This afternoon the Zulus
killed your father and mother, or rather they killed your father, and your
mother, who was ill, died with the shock, because they refused to go to
Zululand whither Dingaan had ordered that they should be taken. So seeing
that you were travelling here I came to rescue you, lest you should fall
into their hands, and," he added lamely, "you know the rest."
Ishmael had spoken in English, but Rachel answered him in Zulu.
"I know all, Night-prowler," she cried aloud. "I know that my father and
mother were killed by your order, and in your presence; their spirits told
me so but now, and for that crime I sentence you to death!" and she
pointed at him with the spear. "Heaven above and earth beneath," she went
on, "bear witness that I sentence this man to death. People of the Zulus,
hear me in your kraals far away. Hear me, Dingaan, sitting in your Great
Place. Hear me, every captain and induna, hear the voice of your
Inkosazana: I sentence this man to death, since because of him there is
blood between me and my people, the blood of my father and my mother. Now,
Night-prowler, do your worst before you die, but know this, you his
servants, that if I am harmed, or if this white man, the chief Dario, is
harmed, then you shall die also, every one of you. What is your will,
"I will tell you that at Mafooti," answered Ishmael, trying to look bold.
"I am not afraid of you like those Zulu savages, and Dingaan is a long way
off. Will you come quietly? I hope so, for I don't want to hurt you or put
you to shame, but you've got to come, and this Dario, too. If you make any
trouble, I will have him killed at once. Understand, Rachel, that if you
don't come, he shall be killed at once. My people may be afraid of you,
but they won't mind cutting his throat," he added significantly.
"Never mind about me," said Richard in a choked voice from the ground
where he was pinned down by the Kaffirs. "Do what you think best for
Now Rachel, whose wits were made keen by doubt and anguish, looked at the
faces of the natives about her, and even in that dim moonlight read them
like a book, as she could always do. She saw that they were afraid of her,
and that if she commanded them, they would let her go free, whatever their
master might say or do. But she saw also that Ishmael spoke truth when he
declared that they had no such dread of Richard, and might even believe
that he was doing her some violence. If she escaped therefore it would be
at the cost of Richard's life. Instantly in her bold fashion she made up
her mind. It was borne in upon her that she had declared the truth; that
Ishmael was doomed, that he had no power to work her any hurt, however
sore her case might seem. Since Richard's life hung on it she would go
"Servants of Ibubesi," she said, "lift the white chief Dario to his feet,
and listen to my words."
They obeyed her at once, without even waiting for their master to speak,
only holding Richard by the arms.
Now the most of the men went into the garden followed by Ishmael, and
taking Richard with them, but a few remained to watch her. From this
garden presently arose a sound of great quarrelling. Rachel was too far
off to understand what was said, but from the sounds she judged that
Ishmael was giving orders to his people which they refused to obey, for
she could hear him cursing them furiously. Presently she heard something
else--the loud report of a gun followed by groans. Then a Kaffir ran up to
them and whispered something to those who surrounded her; it was that head
man whom Ishmael had struck on the mouth in the bush when he told him that
a dog had howled upon his hut, and his face was very frightened.
Rachel leaned against the wall and looked at him, for she could not speak,
she who thought that Richard had been murdered.
"Have no fear, Inkosazana," said the man, answering the question in her
eyes. "Ibubesi has killed one of us because we do not like this business
and would clean it off our hands, that is all. The chief Dario is safe,
and I swear to thee that no harm shall come to him from us. We will care
for him and protect him to the death, and if we lead him away a prisoner
it is because we must, since otherwise Ibubesi will kill us all. Therefore
be merciful to us when the spear of thy power is lifted."
Before Rachel could answer Ishmael's voice was heard asking why they did
not bring the Inkosazana as the horses were ready.
"I pray thee come, Zoola," said the man hurriedly "or he will shoot more
So Rachel walked down the steps of the stoep in front of them, holding her
head high, leaving behind her the house of Ramah and its dead. At the gate
of the garden stood the horses, on one of which, his own, Richard was
already mounted, his arms bound, his feet made fast beneath it with a hide
rope. Her path lay past him, and as she went by he said in a voice that
was choking with rage:
"I am helpless, I cannot save you, but our hour will come."
"Yes, Richard," she answered quietly, "our hour will come when his has
gone," and with the spear in her hand once more she pointed at Ishmael,
who stood by watching them sullenly. Then she mounted her horse--how she
could never remember--and they were separated.
After this she seemed to hear Ishmael talking to her, arguing, explaining,
but she made no answer to his words. Her mind was a blank, and all she
knew was that they were riding on for hours. Her tired horse stumbled up a
pass and down its further side. Then she heard dogs bark and saw lights.
The horse stopped and she slid from it, and as she was too exhausted to
walk, was supported or carried into a hut, as she thought by women who
seemed very much afraid of touching her, after which she seemed to sink
Rachel woke from her stupor to find herself lying on a bed in a great
Kaffir hut that was furnished like a European room, for in it were chairs
and a table, also rough window places closed with reed mats that took the
place of glass. Through the smoke-hole at the top of the hut struck a
straight ray of sunlight, by which she judged that it must be about
midday. She began to think, till by degrees everything came back to her,
and in that hour she nearly died of horror and of grief. Indeed she was
minded to die. There at her side lay a means of death--the assegai which
she had found by the body of the Zulu in Ramah, and none had taken from
her. She lifted it and felt its edge, then laid it down again. Into the
darkness of her despair some comfort seemed to creep. She was sure that
Richard lived, and if she died, he would die also. While he lived, why
should she die? Moreover, it would be a crime which she should only dare
when all hope had gone and she stood face to face with shame.
Thrusting aside these thoughts she rose. On the table stood curdled milk
and other food of which she forced herself to eat, that her strength might
return to her, for she knew that she would need it all. Then she washed
and dressed herself, for in a corner of the hut was water in wooden bowls,
and even a comb and other things, that apparently had been set there for
her to use. This done, she went to the door, which was made like that of a
house, and finding that it was not secured, opened it and looked out.
Beyond was a piece of ground floored with the soil taken from ant-heaps,
and polished black after the native fashion. This space was surrounded by
a high stone wall, and had at the end of it another very strong door. In
its centre grew a large, shady tree under which was placed a bench. Taking
the assegai with her she went to the door in the high wall and found that
it was barred on the further side. Then she returned and sat down on the
bench under the tree.
It seemed that she had been observed, for a little while afterwards bolts
were shot back, the door in the wall opened, and Ishmael entered, closing
it behind him. She looked at the man, and at the sight of his handsome,
furtive face, his dark, guilt-laden eyes, her gorge rose. She was alone in
this secret place with the murderer of her father and her mother, who
sought her love. Yet, strangely enough, her heart was filled not with
tears, but with contempt and icy anger. She did not shrink away from him
as he came towards her in his gaudy clothes, with an assumed air of
insolent confidence, but sat pale and proud, as she had sat at
Umgugundhlovu, when the Zulus brought their causes before her for
He advanced into the shadow of the tree, took off his hat with a flourish
and bowed. Then as she made no answer to these salutations, but only
searched him with her grey eyes, he began to speak in jerky sentences.
"I hope you have slept well, Rachel; I am, glad to see you looking so
fresh. I was afraid that you would be over-tired after your long day. You
rode many miles. Of course what you found at Ramah must have been a great
shock to you. I want to explain to you quietly that I am not in the least
to blame about that terrible business. It was those accursed Zulus who
exceeded their orders."
So he went on, pausing between each remark for an answer, but no answer
came. At length he stopped, confused, and Rachel, lifting the assegai,
examined its blade, and asked him suddenly:
"Whose blood is on this spear? Yours?"
"A little of it, perhaps," he answered. "That fool of a Kaffir flourished
it about after your father shot him and cut me with it accidentally," and
he pointed to the wound on his face.
Rachel bent down and began to rub the blade against the foot of the bench
as though to clean it. He did not know what she meant by this act, yet it
"What are you doing?" he asked.
She paused in her task and said, looking up at him:
"I do not wish that your blood should defile mine even in death," and went
on with her cleansing of the spear.
He watched her for a little while, then broke out:
"Curse it all! I don't understand you. What do you mean?"
"Ask the Zulus," she answered. "They understand me, and they will tell
you. Or if there is no time, ask my father and mother--afterwards."
Ishmael paled visibly, then recovered himself with an effort and said:
"Let us finish with all this witch-doctor nonsense, and come to business.
I had nothing to do with the death of your parents, indeed, I was wounded
in trying to protect them----"
"Then why do I see both of them behind you with such accusing eyes?" she
He stalled, turned his head and stared about him.
"You won't frighten me like that," he went on. "I am not a silly Kaffir,
so give it up. Look here, Rachel, you know I have loved you for a long
while, and though you treat me so badly I love you more than ever now.
Will you marry me?"
"I told you last night that you would be dead in a few days. Do not waste
your time in talking of marriage. Sit in the dust and repent your sins
before you go down into the dust."
"All right, Rachel, I know you are a good prophet----"
"Noie, too, is a good prophet," she broke in reflectively. "You used the
Zulus to kill _her_ father and mother also, did you not? Do you remember a
message that she gave you from Seyapi one evening, down by the sea, before
you kidnapped her to be a bait to trap me in Zululand?"
"Remember!" he answered, scowling. "Am I likely to forget her devilries?
If you are the witch, she is the familiar, the black _ehlose_ (spirit) who
whispers in your ears. Had she not gone I should never have caught you."
"But she will come back--although I fear not in time to bid you farewell."
"You tell me that I shall soon be dead," he exclaimed, ignoring this talk
of Noie. "Well, I am not frightened. I don't believe you know anything
about it, but if you are right the more reason I should live while I can.
According to you, Rachel, we have no time to waste in a long engagement.
When is it to be?"
"Never!" she answered contemptuously, "in this or any other world. Never!
Why, you are hateful to me; when I see you, I shiver as though a snake
crawled across my foot, and when I look at your hands they are red with
blood, the blood of my parents and of Noie's parents, and of many others.
That is my answer."
He looked at her a while, then said:
"You seem to forget that I am only asking for what I can take. No one can
see you or hear you here, except my women. You are in my power at last,
These words which Ishmael intended should frighten her, as they might well
have done, produced, as it chanced, a quite different effect. Rachel broke
into a scornful laugh.
"Look," she said, pointing to an eagle that circled so high in the blue
heavens above them that it seemed no larger than a hawk, "that bird is
more in your power, and nearer to you than I am. Before you laid a finger
on me I would find a dozen means of death, but that, I tell you again, you
will never live to do."
For a while Ishmael was silent, weighing her words in his mind. Apparently
he could find no answer to them, for when he spoke again it was of another
"You say that you hate me, Rachel. If so, it is because of that accursed
fellow, Darrien--whom you don't hate. Well, he, at any rate, is in my
power. Now look here. You've got to make your choice. Either you stop all
this nonsense and become my wife, or--your friend Darrien dies. Do you
Rachel made no answer. Now for the first time she was really frightened,
and feared lest her speech should show it.
"You have been through a lot," he went on, slowly; "you are tired out, and
don't know what you say, and you believe that I killed the old people,
which I didn't, and, of course, that has set you against me. Now, I don't
want to be rough, or to hurry you, especially as I have plenty of things
to see about before we are married. So I give you three days. If you don't
change your mind at the end of them, the young man dies, that's all, and
afterwards we will see whether or no you are in my power. Oh! you needn't
stare. I've gone too far to turn back, and I don't mind a few extra risks.
Meanwhile make yourself easy, dear Richard shall be well looked after, and
I won't bother you with any more love-making. That can wait."
Rachel rose from her seat and pointed with the spear to the door in the
"Go," she said.
"All right, I am going, Rachel. Good-bye till this time three days. I hope
my women will make you as comfortable as possible in this rough place. Ask
them for anything you want. Good-bye, Rachel," and he went, bolting the
wall door behind him.
THE THREE DAYS
He was gone, his presence had ceased to poison the air, and, the long
strain over, Rachel gave a gasp of relief. Then she sat down upon the
bench and began to think. Her position, and that of Richard, was
desperate; it seemed scarcely possible that they could escape with their
lives, for if he died, she would die also--as to that she was quite
determined. But at least they had three days, and who could say what would
happen in three days? For instance, they might escape somehow, the
Providence in which she believed might intervene, or the Zulus might come
to seek her, if they only knew where she was gone. Oh! why had she not
brought a guard of them with her to Ramah? At least they would never have
insulted her, and Ishmael's shrift would have been short.
She wondered why he had given her three days. A reason suggested itself to
her mind. Perhaps he believed what she had told him--that she was as safe
from him as the eagle in the air--and was sure that the only way to snare
her was by using Richard as a lure, in other words, by threatening to
murder him. It is true that he could have brought the matter to a head at
once, but then, if she remained obdurate, he must carry out his threat,
and this, she believed, he was afraid to do unless it was absolutely
forced upon him. Doubtless he had reflected that in three days she might
weaken and give way.
Whilst Rachel brooded thus the door in the wall opened, and through it
came three women, who saluted her respectfully, and announced that they
were sent to clean the hut, and attend upon her. Rachel took stock of them
carefully. Two of them were young, ordinary, good-looking Kaffirs, but the
third was between thirty and forty, and no longer attractive, having
become old early, as natives do. Moreover, her face was sad and
sympathetic. Rachel asked her her name. She answered that it was Mami, and
that they were all the wives of Ibubesi.
The women went about their duties in the hut in silence, and a while
afterwards announced that all was made clean, and that they would return
presently with food. Rachel answered that it was not necessary that three
of them should be put to so much trouble. It would be enough if Mami came.
She desired to be waited on by Mami alone, her sisters need not come any
They all three saluted again, and said that she should be obeyed; the two
younger ones with alacrity. To Rachel it was evident that these women were
much afraid of her. Her reputation had reached them, and they shrank from
this task of attending on the mighty Inkosazana of the Zulus in her cage,
not knowing what evil it might bring upon them.
An hour later the door was unbolted, and Mami reappeared with the food
that had been very carefully cooked. Rachel ate of it, for she was
determined to grow strong again, she who might need all her strength, and
while she ate talked to Mami, who squatted on the ground before her. Soon
she drew her story from her. The woman was Ishmael's first Kaffir wife,
but he had never cared for her, and against all law and custom she was
discarded, and made a slave. Even some of her cattle had been taken from
her and given to other wives. So her heart was bitter against Ishmael, and
she said that although once she was proud to be the wife of a white man,
now she wished that she had never seen his face.
Here, then, was material ready to Rachel's hand, but she did not press the
matter too far at this time. Only she said that she wished Mami to stay
with her after the evening meal, and to sleep in her hut, as she was not
accustomed to be alone at night. Mami replied that she would do so gladly
if Ibubesi allowed it, although she was not worthy of such honour.
As it happened, Ishmael did allow it, for he thought that he could trust
this old drudge, and told her to act as a spy upon Rachel, and report to
him all that she said or did. Very soon Rachel found this out and warned
her against obeying him, since if she did so it would come to her
knowledge, and then great evil would fall on one who betrayed the words of
Mami answered that she knew it, and that Rachel need not be afraid. Any
tale would do for Ishmael, whom she hated. Then, saying little herself,
Rachel encouraged her to talk, which Mami did freely. So she heard some
news. She learned, for instance, that the whole town of Mafooti, whereof
Ibubesi was chief, which counted some sixty or seventy heads of families,
was much disturbed by the events of the last few days. They did not like
the Inkosazana being brought there, thinking that where she went the Zulus
would follow, and as they were of Zulu blood themselves, they knew what
that meant. They were alarmed at the deaths of the white sky-doctor, who
was called Shouter, and his wife, with which Ibubesi had something to do,
for they feared lest they should be held responsible for their blood. They
objected to the imprisonment of the white chief, Dario, among them,
because "he had hurt no one, and was under the mantle of the Inkosazana,
who was a spirit, not a woman," and who had warned them that if any harm
came to her or to him, death would be their reward. They were angry, also,
because Ibubesi had killed one of them in some quarrel about the chief
Dario at Ramah. Still, they were so much afraid of Ibubesi, who was a
great tyrant, that they did not dare to interfere with him and his plans,
lest they should lose their cattle, or, perhaps, their lives. So they did
not know what to do. As for Ibubesi himself, he was actively engaged in
strengthening the fortifications of the place; even the old people and the
children were being forced to carry stones to the walls, from which it was
evident that he feared some attack.
When Rachel had gathered this and much other information concerning
Ishmael's past and habits, she asked Mami if she could convey a message
from her to Richard. The woman answered that she would try on the
following morning. So Rachel told her to say that she was safe and well,
but that he must watch his footsteps, as both of them were in great
danger. More she did not dare to say, fearing lest Mami should betray her,
or be beaten till she confessed everything. Then, as there was nothing
more to be done, Rachel lay down and slept as best she could.
The next day passed in much the same fashion as the first had done. For
the most of it Rachel sat under the tree in the walled yard, companioned
only by her terrible thoughts and fears. Nobody came near her, and nothing
happened. In the morning Mami went out, and returning at the dinner hour,
told Rachel that she had seen Ishmael, who had questioned her closely as
to what the Inkosazana had done and said, to which she replied that she
had only eaten and slept, and invoked the spirits on her knees. As for
words, none had passed her lips. She had not been able to get near the
huts where Dario was in prison, as Ishmael was watching her. For the rest,
the work of fortification went on without cease, even Ishmael's own wives
being employed thereon.
In the afternoon Mami went out again and did not return till night, when
she had much to tell. To begin with, while the sentry was dozing, being
wearied with carrying stones to the wall, she had managed to approach the
fence of the hut where Richard was confined. She said that he was walking
up and down inside the fence with his hands tied, and she had spoken to
him through a crack in the reeds, and given him Rachel's message. He
listened eagerly, and bade her tell the Inkosazana that he thanked her for
her words; that he, too, was strong and well, though much troubled in
mind, but the future was in the hands of the Heavens, and that she must
keep a high heart. Just then the sentry woke up, so Mami could not wait to
hear any more.
That evening, however, a lad who had been sent out of the town to drive in
some cattle, had returned with the tidings which she, Mami, heard him
deliver to Ibubesi with her own ears.
He said that whilst he was collecting the oxen, a ringed Zulu came upon
him, who from his manner and bearing he took to be a great chief, although
he was alone, and seemed to be tired with walking. The Zulu has asked him
if it were true that the Inkosazana and the white chief Dario were in
prison at Mafooti, and when he hesitated about replying, threatened him
with his assegai, saying that he would cut out his heart unless he told
the truth. The Zulu replied that he knew it, as he had just come from
Ramah, where he had seen strange things, and spoken with a man of
Ibubesi's, whom he found dying in the garden of the house. Then he had
given him this message:
"Say to Ibubesi that I know all his wickedness, and that if the Inkosazana
is harmed, or if drop of the blood of the white chief, Dario, is shed, I
will destroy him and everything that lives in his town down to the rats.
Say to him also that he cannot escape, as already he is ringed in by the
children of the Shouter, who have come back, and are watching him."
The lad had asked who it was that sent such a message, whereon he
answered, "I am the Horn of the Black Bull; I am the Trunk of the
Elephant; I am the Mouth of Dingaan."
Then straightway he turned and departed at a run towards Zululand.
Moreover, Mami described the man in the words of the lad, and Rachel
thought that he could be none other than Tamboosa, whom she had commanded
to follow her with the white ox. Mami added that when he received this
message Ibubesi seemed much disturbed, though to his people he declared
that it was all nonsense, as Dingaan's Mouth would not come alone, or
deliver the King's word to a boy. But the people thought otherwise, and
murmured among themselves, fearing the terrible vengeance of Dingaan.
On the next day Mami went out again. At nightfall, when she returned, she
told Rachel that she had not found it possible to approach the huts where
Dario was, as the hole she made in the fence to speak with him had been
discovered, and a stricter watch was kept over him. Ibubesi, she said, was
in an ill humour, and working furiously to finish his fortifications, as
he was now sure that the town was being watched, either by the Kaffirs of
Ramah, or others. As for the people of Mafooti, they were grumbling very
much, both on account of the heavy-labour of working at the walls, and
because they were in terror of being attacked and killed in payment for
the evil deeds of their chief. Mami declared, indeed, that so great was
their fear and discontent, that she thought they would desert the town in
a body, were it not that they dreaded lest they should fall into the hands
of the Kaffirs who were watching it. Rachel asked her whether they would
not then take her and Dario and deliver them up to the Zulus, or to the
white people on the coast. Mami answered she thought they would be afraid
to do this, as Ibubesi alone had guns, and would shoot plenty of them;
also if the Zulus found them with their Inkosazana they would kill them.
She added that she had seen Ibubesi, who bade her tell the Inkosazana that
he was coming for her answer on the morrow.
Rachel slept ill that night. The space of her reprieve had gone by, and
next morning she must face the issue. For herself she did not so greatly
care, for at the worst she had a refuge whither Ishmael could not follow
her--the grave. After all she had endured it seemed to her that this must
be a peaceful place; moreover, in her case what Power could blame her? But
there was Richard to be thought of. If she refused Ishmael he swore that
he would kill Richard. And yet how could she pay that price even to save
her lover's life? Perhaps he would not kill him after all; perhaps he
would be afraid of the vengeance of the Zulus, and was only trying to
frighten her. Ah! if only the Zulus would come--before it was too late! It
was scarcely to be hoped for. Tamboosa, if it were he who had spoken with
the lad, would not have had time to return to Zululand and collect an
impi, and when they did come, the deed might be done. If only these
servants of Ibubesi would rise against him and kill him, or carry off
Richard and herself! Alas! they feared the man too much, and she could not
get at them to persuade them. There was nothing that she could do except
pray. Richard and she must take their chance. Things must go as they were
If she could have seen Ishmael at this hour and read his thoughts, that
sight and knowledge might have brought some comfort to her tortured heart.
The man was seated in his hut alone, staring at the floor and pulling his
long black beard with hands rough from toiling at the walls. He was
drinking also, stiff tots of rum and water, but the fiery liquor seemed to
bring him no comfort. As he drank, he thought. He was determined to get
possession of Rachel; that desire had become a madness with him. He could
never abandon it while he lived. But _she_ might not live. She had sworn
that she would rather die than become his wife, and she was not a woman
who broke her word. Also she hated him bitterly, and with good cause.
There was only one way to work on her--through her love for this man,
Richard Darrien; for that she did love him, he had little doubt. If it
were choice between yielding and the death of Darrien, then perhaps she
might give way. But there came the rub.
Dingaan had sworn to him that if he made Darrien's blood to flow, then he
should be killed, and, like Rachel, Dingaan kept his oaths. Moreover, that
Zulu who met the cattle herd had sworn it again in almost the same words.
Therefore it would seem that if he wished to continue to breathe,
Darrien's blood must not be made to flow. All the rest might be explained
when the impi came, as it would do sooner or later, especially if he could
show to them that the Inkosazana was his willing wife, but the murder of
Darrien could never be explained. Well, the man might die, or seem to die,
and then who could hold him responsible? Or if they did, if any of his
people remained faithful to him, an attack might be beaten off. Brave as
they were, the Zulus could not storm those walls on which he had spent so
much labour, though now he almost wished that he had left the walls alone
and settled the affair of Rachel and of Darrien first.
Ishmael poured out more rum and drank it, neat this time, as though to
nerve himself for some undertaking. Then he went to the door of the hut
and called, whereon presently a hideous old woman crept in and squatted
down in the circle of light thrown by the lamp. She was wrinkled and
deformed, and her snake-skin moocha, with the inflated fish-bladder in her
hair, showed that she was a witch-doctoress.
"Well, Mother," he said, "have you made the poison?"
"Yes, Ibubesi, yes. I have made it as I alone can do. Oh! it is a
wonderful drug, worth many cows. How many did you say you would give me?
"No, three; but if it does what is wanted you shall have the other three
as well. Tell me again, how does it work?"
"Thus, Ibubesi. Whoever drinks this medicine becomes like one dead--none
can tell the difference, no, not a doctor even--and remains so for a long
while--perhaps one day, perhaps two, perhaps even three. Then life
returns, and by degrees strength, but not memory; for whole moons the
memory is gone, and he who has drunk remains like a child that has
everything to learn."
"You lie, Mother. I never heard of such a medicine."
"You never heard of it because none can make it save me, and I had its
secret from my grandmother; also few can afford to pay me for it. Still,
it has been used, and were I not afraid I could give you cases. Stay, I
will show you. Call that beast," and she pointed to a dog that was asleep
at the side of the hut. "Here is milk; I will show you."
Ishmael hesitated, for he was fond of this dog; then as he wished to test
the stuff he called it. It came and sat down beside him, looking up in his
face with faithful eyes. Then the old witch poured milk into a bowl, and
in the milk mixed some white powder which she took out of a folded leaf,
and offered it to the animal. The dog sniffed the milk, growled slightly,
and refused it.
"The evil beast does not like me; he bit me the other day," said the old
doctoress. "Do you give it to him, Ibubesi; he will trust you."
So Ishmael patted the dog on the head, then, offered it the milk, which
it lapped up to the last drop.
"There, evil beast," said the woman, with a chuckle, "you won't bite me
any more; you'll forget all about me for a long time. Look at him,
Ibubesi, look at him."
As she spoke, the poor dog's coat began to stare; then it uttered a low
howl, ran to Ishmael, tried to lick his hand, and rolled over, to all
appearance quite dead.
"You have killed my dog, which I love, you hag!" he said angrily.
"Then why did you give medicine to what you love, Ibubesi? But have no
fear, the evil beast has only taken a small dose; to-morrow morning it
will awake, but it will not know you or anyone. Who is the medicine for,
Ibubesi? The Lady Zoola? If so, it may not work on her, for she is mighty,
and cannot be harmed."
"Fool! Do you think that I would play tricks with the Inkosazana?"
"No, you want to marry her, don't you? but it seems to me that she has no
mind that way. Then it is for the man for whom she has a mind for? Well,
Ibubesi, you have promised the six cows, and you saved me once from being
killed for witchcraft, so I will say something. Don't give it to the chief
"Why not, you old fool; will it kill him after all?"
"No, no; it will do what I said, no less and no more, in this quantity,"
and she handed him another powder wrapped in dry leaves; "but I have had
bad dreams about you, Ibubesi, and they were mixed up with the Inkosazana
and this white man Dario. I dreamed they brought your death upon you--a
dreadful death. Ibubesi, be wise, set Dario free, and change your mind as
to marrying the Inkosazana, who is not for you."
"How can I change my mind, Descendant of Wizards?" broke out Ishmael. "Can
a river penned between rocks change its course? Can it run backwards from
the sea to the hill? This woman draws me as the sea draws the river;
because of her my blood is afire. I had rather win her and die, than live
rich and safe without her to old age. The more she hates and scorns me,
the more I love her."
"I understand," said the doctoress, nodding her head till the bladder in
her hair bobbed about like a float at which a fish is pulling. "I
understand. I have seen people like this before--men and women too--when a
bad spirit enters into them because of some crime they have committed. The
Inkosazana, or those who guard her, have sent you this bad spirit, and,
Ibubesi, you must run the road upon which it is appointed that you should
travel; for joy or sorrow you must run that road. But when we meet in the
world of ghosts, which I think will be soon, do not blame me, do not say
that I did not warn you. Now it is all right about those cows, is it not?
although I dare say the Zulus will milk them and not I, for to-night I
seem to smell Zulus in the air," and she lifted her broad nose and sniffed
like a hound. "I wish you could have left the Inkosazana alone, and that
Dario too, for he is a part of her; in my dreams they seemed to be one.
But you won't, you will walk your own path; so good night, Ibubesi. The
dog will wake again in the morning, but he will not know you. Good night,
Ibubesi--of course I understand that the cows will be young ones that have
not had more than two calves. Mix the powder in milk, or water, or
anything; it is without taste or colour. Good night, Ibubesi," and without
waiting for an answer the old wretch crept out of the hut.
When she was gone Ishmael cursed her aloud, then drank some more rum,
which he seemed to need. The place was very lonely, and the sight of his
dog, lying to all appearance dead at his side, oppressed him. He patted
its head and it did not move; he lifted its paw and it fell down flabbily.
The brute was as dead as anything could be. It occurred to him that before
night came again he might look like that dog. His story might be told; he
might have left the earth in company of all the deeds that he had done
thereon. He had imagination enough to know his sins, and they were an evil
host to face. Old Dove and his wife, for instance--holy people who
believed in God and Vengeance, and had never done any wrong, only striven
for years and years to benefit others; it would not be pleasant to meet
them. Rachel had said that she saw them standing behind him, and he felt
as though they were there at that moment. Look, one of them crossed
between him and the lamp--there was the mark of the kerry on his head--and
the woman followed; he could see her blue lips as she bent down to look at
the dog. It was unbearable. He would go and talk to Rachel, and ask her if
she had made up her mind. No, for if he broke in on her thus at night, he
was sure that she would kill either herself or him with that spear she had
taken from the dead Zulu, reddened with his own blood. He would keep faith
with her and wait till the morrow. He would send for one of his wives. No,
the thought of those women made him sick. He would go round the
fortifications and beat any sentries whom he found asleep, or receive the
reports of the spies. To stop in that hut in the company of a dog which
seemed to be dead, and of imaginations that no rum could drown, was
* * * * *
Once more the morning came, and Rachel sat in the walled yard awaiting the
dreadful hour of her trial, for it was the day and time that Ishmael had
appointed for her answer. Until now Rachel had cherished hopes that
something might happen: that the people of Mafooti might intervene to save
her and Richard; that the Zulus might appear, even that Ishmael might
relent and let them go. But Mami had been out that morning and brought
back tidings which dispelled these hopes. She had ventured to sound some
of the leading men, and said that, like all the people, they were very
sullen and alarmed, but declared, as she had expected, that they dare do
nothing, for Ibubesi would kill them, and if they escape him the Zulus
would kill them because the Inkosazana was found in their possession. Of
the Zulus themselves, scouts who had been out for miles, reported that
they had seen no sign. It was clear also that Ishmael was as determined as
ever, for he had sent her a message by Mami that he would wait upon her as
he had promised, and bring the white man with him.
Then what should she say and what should she do? Rachel could think of no
plan; she could only sit still and pray while the shadow of that awful
hour crept ever nearer.
It had come; she heard voices without the wall, among them Ishmael's. Her
heart stopped, then bounded like a live thing in her breast. He was
commanding someone to "catch that dog and tie it up, for it was bewitched,
and did not know him or anyone," then the sound of a dog being dragged
away, whining feebly, and then the door opened. First Ishmael came in with
an affectation of swaggering boldness, but looking like a man suffering
from the effects of a long debauch. About his eyes were great black rings,
and in them was a stare of sleeplessness. He carried a double-barrelled
gun under his arm, but the hand with which he supported it shook visibly,
and at every unusual sound he started. After him came Richard, his wrists
bound together behind him, and on his legs hide shackles which only just
allowed him to shuffle forward slowly. Moreover he was guarded by four men
who carried spears. Rachel glanced quickly at his face, and saw that it
was pale and resolute; quite untouched by fear.
"Are you well?" she asked quietly, taking no note of Ishmael.
"Yes," he answered, "and you, Rachel?"
"Quite well bodily, Richard, but oh! my soul is sick."
Before he could reply Ishmael turned on him savagely, and bade him be
silent, or it would be the worse for him. Then he took off his hat with
his shaking hand, and bowed to Rachel.
"Rachel," he said, "I have kept my promise, and left you alone for three
days, but time is up and now this gentleman and I have come to hear your
decision, which is so important to both of us."
"What am I to decide?" she asked in a low voice, looking straight before
"Have you forgotten? Your memory must be very bad. Well, it is best to
have no mistake, and no doubt our friend here would like to know exactly
how things stand. You have to decide whether you will take me as your
husband to-day of your own free will, or whether Mr. Richard Darrien shall
suffer the punishment of death, for having tried to kill his sentry and
escape, a crime of which he has been guilty, and afterwards I should take
you as my wife with, or without, your consent."
When Richard heard these words the veins in his forehead swelled with rage
and horror till it seemed as though they would burst.
"You unutterable villain," he gasped, "you cowardly hound! Oh! if only my
hands were free."
"Well, they ain't, Mr. Darrien, and it's no use your tugging at that
buffalo hide, so hold your tongue, and let us hear the lady's answer,"
"Richard, Richard," said Rachel in a kind of wail, "you have heard. It is
a matter of your life. What am I to do?"
"Do?" he answered, in loud, firm tones, "do? How can you ask me such a
question? The matter is not one of my life, but of your--of your--oh! I
cannot say it. Let this foul beast kill me, of course, and then, if you
care enough, follow the same road. A few years sooner or later make little
difference, and so we shall soon be together again."
She thought a moment, then said quietly:
"Yes, I care enough, and a hundred times more than that. Yes, that is the
only way out. Listen, you Ishmael:--Richard Darrien, the man to whom I am
sworn, and I, give you this answer. Murder him if you will, and bring
God's everlasting vengeance on your head. He will not buy his life on such
terms, and if I consented to them I should be false to him. Murder him as
you murdered my father and mother, and when I know that he is dead I will
go to join him and them."
"All right, Rachel," said Ishmael, whose face was white with fury, "I
think I will take you at your word, and you can go to look for him down
below, if you like, for if I am not to get you here, he shan't. Now then,
say your prayers, Mr. Darrien," and stepping forward slowly he cocked the
"Men of Mafooti," exclaimed Rachel in Zulu, "Ibubesi is about to do murder
on one who like myself is under the mantle of Dingaan. If his blood should
flow to-day or to-morrow, yours shall flow in payment, yours, and that of
your wives and children, for the crime of the chief is the crime of the
At her words the four natives who had been watching this scene uneasily,
although they could not understand the English talk, called out to Ishmael
in remonstrance. His only answer was to lift the gun, and for an instant
that seemed infinite Rachel waited to hear its explosion, and to see the
grey-eyed, open-faced man she loved, who stood there like a rock, fall a
shattered corpse. Then one of the Kaffirs, bolder than the rest, struck up
the barrels with his arm, and not too soon, for whether or no he had meant
to pull the trigger, the rifle went off.
"Try the other barrel," said Richard sarcastically, as the smoke cleared
away, "that shot was too high."
Perhaps Ishmael might have done so, for the man was beside himself, but
the Kaffirs would have no more of it. They rushed between them, lifting
their spears threateningly, and shouting that they would not allow the
blood of the white lord and the curse of the Inkosazana to be brought upon
their heads and those of their families. Rather than that they would bind
him, Ibubesi, and give him over to the Zulus. Then, whether or not he had
really meant to kill Richard, Ishmael thought it politic to give way.
"So be it," he said to Rachel, "I am merciful, and both of you shall have
another chance. I am going with this fellow, but the woman, Mami, shall
come to you. If within three hours you send her to me with a message to
say that you have changed your mind, he shall be spared. If not, before
nightfall you shall see his body, and afterwards we will settle matters."
"Rachel, Rachel," cried Richard, "swear that you will send no such
Now the brute, Ishmael, rushed at him to strike him in the face. But
Richard saw him coming, and bound though he was, put down his head and
butted at him so fiercely, that being much the stronger man, he knocked
him to the ground, where he lay breathless.
"Swear, Rachel, swear," he repeated, "or dead or living, I will never
"I swear," she said, faintly.
Then he shuffled towards her. Bending down he kissed her on the face, and
she kissed him back; no more words passed between them; this was their
farewell. Two of the Kaffirs lifted Ishmael, and helped him from the yard,
whilst the other two led away Richard, who made no resistance. At the gate
he turned, and their eyes met for a moment. Then it closed behind him, and
she was left alone again.
RACHEL LOSES HER SPIRIT
A little while later Mami entered, and said that she had been sent by
Ibubesi to serve the Inkosazana as a messenger, should she need one.
Rachel, seated on the bench, motioned to her to go into the hut and bide
there, and she obeyed.
Minute by minute the time ebbed away, and still Rachel sat motionless on
the bench. Towards the end of the third hour someone unbolted and knocked
at the door. Mami opened it and reported that Ibubesi stood without, and
desired to know whether she had any word for him.
"None," answered Rachel, remembering her oath, and the door was barred
After this a great silence seemed to fall upon the place. The sky was grey
with distant rain, and the air heavy, and whatever may have been the
cause, no sound came from man or beast without. To Rachel's strained
nerves it seemed as though the Angel of Death had spread his wings above
the town. There she sat paralysed, wondering what evil thing was being
worked upon her lover; wondering if she had done right to give him as a
sacrifice to this savage in order to save herself from dreadful
wrong--wondering, wondering till the powers of her mind seemed to die
within her, leaving it grey and empty as the grey and empty sky above.
Night drew on and the setting sun, bursting through the envelope of cloud,
filled earth and sky with fire, and it came into Rachel's heart, she knew
not whence, that fire was near, that soon it would swallow up all this
Look! the door was opening; it swung wide, and through it advanced eight
Kaffirs, carrying something on a litter made of shields, something that
was covered with a blanket of bark. They drew near to her with bent heads,
and set down their burden at her feet. Then one of them lifted the
blanket, revealing the body of Richard Darrien, and saying in an awed
"Inkosazana, Ibubesi sends you this to look or to show you that he keeps
his word. Later he will visit you himself."
Rachel knelt down by the litter of shields and looked at Richard's face.
The stamp of death was on it. She felt his hand, it was turning cold; she
felt his heart, it did not beat.
"Show me this dead lord's wounds," she said in an awful whisper, "that
presently mine may be like to them."
"Inkosazana," said the spokesman, "he has no wound."
"How, then, did he die? Strange that he should die, and I not feel his
"Inkosazana, he was thirsty, and drank, then he died."
"So, so! he was slain by poison, and I have no poison. Mami, come forth
and look on the white lord whom Ibubesi has murdered by poison."
The woman Mami, who had been sleeping in the hut, awoke and obeyed. She
saw, and wailed aloud.
"Woe to Mafooti!" she cried, like one inspired, "and woe, woe to those
that dwell therein, for now vengeance, red vengeance, shall fall on them
from Heaven. The blood of the innocent is upon them, the curse of the
Inkosazana is upon them, the spears of the Zulus are upon them. Slay the
_silwana,_ the wild beast--Ibubesi, and fly, people of Mafooti, fly, fly
with that dead thing. Leave it not here to bear witness against you. Carry
it far away, and heap a mountain on it. Bury it in a valley that no man
can find; bury it in the black water, lest it should arise and bear
witness against you. Leave it not here, but let the darkness cover it, and
fly with it into the darkness, as I do," and turning she sped to the door
and through it.
The light from the sunk sun went out smothered in the gathering
thunder-clouds. Through the gloom the terrified bearers muttered to each
"Throw it down and away!" said one.
"Nay," answered another, "wisdom has come to Mami, her _ehlose_ has spoken
to her. Take it with you, lest it should remain to bear witness against
"Remember what the Zulu swore," said a third, "that if harm came to this
lord they would kill all, down to the rats. Take it away so that it may
not be found. If you meet Ibubesi, spear him. If not, leave him the
vengeance for his share."
Now, moved as though by a common impulse, the bearers cast back the
blanket over the corpse, and lifting the litter, departed at a run. The
door was shut and bolted behind them, and darkness fell upon the earth.
For a while Rachel stood still in the darkness.
"Now I am alone," she said in a quiet voice, yet to her ears the words
seemed to be uttered with a roar of thunder that echoed through the
firmament, and pierced upwards to the feet of God.
Then suddenly something snapped in her brain and she was changed. The
horror left her, the terror left her, she felt very well and strong, so
well that she laughed aloud, and again that laugh filled earth and heaven.
Oh! she was hungry, and food stood on a table near by. She sprang to it
and ate, ate heartily. Then she drank, muttering to herself, "Richard
drank before he died. Let me drink also and cease to be alone."
Her meal finished, she walked up and down the place singing a song that
seemed to be caught up triumphantly by a million voices, the voices of all
who had ever lived and died. Their awful music stunned her and she ceased.
Look! Wild beasts wearing the face of Ibubesi were licking the clouds with
their tongues of fire. It was curious, but in that high-walled place she
could not see it well. Now from the top of the hut the view would be
better. Yes, and Ishmael was coming to visit her. Well, they would meet
for the last time on the top of the hut. She was not afraid of him, not at
all; but it would be strange to see him scrambling up the hut, and they
would talk there for a little while with their faces close together,
till--ah!--till what--? Till something strange happened, something unhappy
for Ishmael. Oh! no, no, she would not kill herself, she would wait to see
what it was that happened to Ishmael, that strange thing which she knew so
well, and yet could not remember.
How easy this hut was to climb, a cat could not have run up with less
trouble. Now she stood on the top of it, her spear in one hand, and
holding with the other to the pole that was set there to scare away the
lightning; stood for a long time watching the wild beasts licking the
clouds with their red tongues.
The beasts grew weary of lapping up clouds. Their appetites were satisfied
for a while, at any rate she saw their tongues no more. The air was very
hot and heavy, and the darkness very dense, it seemed to press about her
as though she were plunged in cream. Yet Rachel thought that she heard
sounds through it, a sound of feet to the west and a sound of feet to the
Then she heard another sound, that of the door in the wall opening, and of
a soft, tentative footfall, like to the footfall of a questing wolf. She
knew it at once, for now her senses were sharper than those of any savage;
it was the step of Ibubesi, the Night-prowler. She felt inclined to laugh;
it was so funny to think of herself standing there on the top of a hut
while the Night-prowler slunk about below looking for her. But she
refrained, remembering the dreadful noise when all the Heavens began to
laugh in answer. So she was silent, for the Heavens do not reverberate
silence, although she could hear her own thoughts passing through them,
passing up one by one on their infinite journey.
Listen! He was walking round and round the yard. He went to the bench
beneath the tree and felt along it with his fingers to see if she were
there. Now he was entering the hut and groping at the bedstead, and now he
had kindled a light, for the rays of it shone faintly up through the
smoke-hole. Discovering nothing he came out again, leaving the lamp
burning within, and called her softly.
"Rachel," he said, "Rachel, where are you?"
There was no answer, and he began to talk to himself.
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